Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Postseason

It's not easy to explain to people why a pitcher's duel can be more exciting than a slugfest. This game was exhibit A. Griffey's throw to the plate would have been lost in a 10-6 game. Thome's homerun would have been impressive in any game though.
Nick Blackburn was very good tonight and deserves congratulations even with the loss. Losing a 1-0 game isn't shameful. I hope Twins fans don't take it too hard. Both teams were very even, both good but not great. Both with very strong strengths and very obvious weaknesses.
Who do I like in the postseason? This is the order I'll root for teams, not necessarily how I think they'll do.

1. White Sox - of course. I'm not at all confident in their chances. They've got three things going for them: strong starting pitchers, power throughout the lineup and a strong closer. Weak defense, slow team speed and big holes in the bullpen will be tough to overcome.
2. Tampa Rays - The big cinderella story of the year and it would be a great, great story if they win the World Series.
3. Brewers - Another long suffering fan base. I hope their first playoff run lasts longer than three games.
4. Phillies - This is a city that could desperately use a championship.
5. Angels - As long as they don't use those stupid thundersticks. Seriously, I'm fine with the rally monkey, just don't give the fans noisemakers.
6. Dodgers - Joe Torre is fine. Manny Ramierez needs to go away.
7. Red Sox - How much more insufferable will Boston fans be with another championship parade?
99. Cubs - Just shoot me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Facebook

I finally broke down and set up an account. You can find and 'friend' me if you know how. If you don't know, then you probably won't care.

Playoff game

Man, it just felt like we've been on an unstoppable course for tomorrow's game for a log time, doesn't it? Twins/White Sox play tomorrow at 630p in Chicago. Winner plays in Tampa on Thursday, the losers have five months to think about the game.
The best tourney in sports is certainly March Madness, in large part because it's a series of single elimination games. Baseball mostly avoids that under the theory that a longer series will benefit the best teams. The exception comes when two teams play 162 games and wind up with the same number of wins. Then they face off.
Every play becomes magnified. Each pitch becomes critical. Every error is unthinkable. That's what tomorrow's game will be.
In the immortal words of Marvin Gaye, let's get it on.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cool pic

Niagra Falls at night

A Night Off

Yesterday night the FP Gal's folks babysat for us and gave us a much needed night off. We treated it as a date night of course. I have distant memories of my parents taking those some 100 years ago or so and it felt weird to be in that position myself.
We had discussed going to Friday's which has some personal history for us and instead went to Olive Garden. I've often been tempted by their 'endless' pasta bowl. Endless is something that really only describes stellar distances and movies by long celebrated directors. How does that work with pasta? Is it so deep that you can't really reach the noodles? Well, inquiring minds want to know and all that. Plus, the FP Gal likes to have pasta with seafood.
So off we went. We dropped Relia off about 5p and then went to the restaurant. I know, going out to eat before 6p on a Saturday night, how elderly were we? As it turned out, the place was packed and the other patrons were mostly young themselves. It really was crowded and that provided the best news on the economy than I'd had all week.
It turns out that the pasta bowl is 'endless' in the sense that they will give you endless refills. That made me happier and satisfied my physics fears. I made my way through a bowl of fettuccine alfredo and started eyeing a bowl of marinara with spaghetti noodles. And then decided against it.
When was the last time you ordered a dessert at a restaurant? They always offer it to you but when do you actually have room for it? Ok, maybe something special for a birthday but anything other than that? Me either. Well, this night I was going to break out. It wasn't a special occasion other than in the sense that we were getting a night off. So I plunged and got something rich and chocalatey.
After that was Ikea and then home. We talked about a movie but when I turned on the TV the end of the White Sox game was on. They scored a quick four runs to cut the deficit to two. Then they gave those runs back up and the game was done. By the time this was done, the FP Gal had fallen asleep on the couch. Nine o'clock and our date was done.
In spite of that, a pretty good night.

Vikes at Tenn

Today's game was the first game where I thought the Vikes lost to a clearly better team. The bounces went the other way but the Titans clearly deserved to win. They might be the top team in the NFL after four weeks. That the game was still close after all of the Viking fumbles is a testament to the defense.
The good news is that the Vikes schedule this year is front heavy. Three of the their first four games were against playoff teams from last year and the other (Carolina) is leading their division currently. They only play four more playoff teams from last year in their last twelve games. If they can win in New Orleans next week they should be in good shape.

Baseball

The Twins and White Sox finally unwrapped their hands from around their own necks and won the games that they needed to. That means that the division still isn't settled. Here is what's left:
  • The White Sox play the Tigers in Chicago on Monday. If the White Sox lose than the Twins are the division winners and they play against Tampa in the first round. If the White Sox win...
  • Then the Twins play the White Sox in Chicago on Tuesday. The winner of that game goes to Tampa for the playoffs.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Night out

We swung by Ikea tonight. I love that they have little rooms fully laid out and decorated to show how their different products would fit together. Question though, is there an Ikea game of clue? Just think of it, "It was Professor Plum, in a dorm room with an ivar".

AJ Pierzynski

Ok, maybe I should leave this alone but I think it's time for someone to say something. Twins fans, you're embarrassing yourselves with this whole AJ thing. It's time to let it go.
A brief review of history for casual Twins fans (and yes, I know there's a lot of you). From Wikipedia:
Pierzynski was drafted by the Minnesota Twins on June 2, 1994, out of high school.[2] After four years in the Twins organization, he was called up to the Major League team, and made his debut on September 9, 1998. He spent the next five seasons, through the 2003 season, with Minnesota, though he was not a regular starter until 2001. From 1998-2000, he appeared in just 49 games for the Twins. In 2002 he made the American League All-Star Team as a reserve catcher. In the 2002 American League Division Series, Pierzynski hit an important home run in the ninth inning of the final game, in which the Twins clinched the series.
I lived in Minnesota all of that time and believe me, Twins fans had no problem with him then. After 2003 the Twins traded him to SF Giants for Francisco Liriano (a Cy Young level candidate), Joe Nathan (one of the top closers in the AL) and Boof Bonser (an average pitcher). Two All-Stars and a serviceable pitcher, not bad for a 'waste of skin'.
Also pay attention to the word 'traded'. He didn't force his way out of here a la Chuck Knoblauch. He didn't price his way out of the market like Torii Hunter or Johan Santana. He was moved (for value) to make way for the Twins whiz kid Joe Mauer. (You may have heard of him, someday he and Obama will compete for right to face Surtr.)
So what did he do to earn the anger of so many Twins fans? When he became a free agent he dared to sign with the dreaded White Sox, that's what. Even worse than playing for a competing team, he thrived there. Of course he was part of the World Series team and I think that's what gets to the heart of it.
After that World Series, I wrote a short thing dedicating various Journey songs to the season. Here's the relevant one:
Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' - This song is about breaking up with someone only to have them rebound better and be happy with someone else. In other words, it goes out to Twins fans and A.J. The Twins traded him away and he wound up on a divisional rival winning the World Series. Man, that's got to hurt.



(Video for anyone not familiar with the song.) After a few years, I still think that. Twins fans now sound like a jerk who dumped a woman for someone else. They're happy with the choice but they still find themselves outside the old apartment at 2am, shouting obscenities. It's time to move on.
You're happier with Mauer, aren't you? You certainly wouldn't trade them back. Do you really think that once a player plays for your team that they should never ever play for a competitor? You're familiar with sports here in the 21st century, aren't you? Once a team trades a player away they no longer control his destiny. Seriously, it's not a tough concept to understand.
So come on Twins fans, show some class and let it go. There are other emotions than self-righteousness. You might actually enjoy them.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Funeral

I suppose I should post something here, but I'm not quite sure what. The visitation for Grandma was on Tuesday. She looked good.
She had a very strong relationship with Nips (the candy, and don't google for it unless you're safeties are fully activated). In fact, she used to have the family sneak packages of them into the hospital so she could enjoy them and avoid a lecture from the nurses. Afterwards they would sneak the boxes back out so the wouldn't end up in the garbage. In honor of this, they put a box in her coffin.
I spent most of the visitation chasing Relia around. Remember the apple pictures from last week? The foyer at the church had an apple motif, with clusters of fake apples and apple shaped candles. Needless to say, we undecorated that room in a hurry. She also loved to play with the commuion tray lid (just like a cymabl!) and was very curious about the electrical sockets. She kept me moving.
Later that night we went to David & Donna's house. Amy, Andrea and Tim were there with seven of their children (of twelve combinded). Andrea took Relia and fed her pasta and garlic bread and bleu cheese. She really is my daughter; she rejected the lettuce from the salad.
Over to Dad's and eventually she fell asleep. I took the opputunity to go for a late night walk. A wave thunderstorm had swept through earlier and another one was on it's way. That meant there were flashes to the northwest and the southeast. Very nice. One thing that I miss from Austin is the late night walking. This was 11p on a Tuesday night and it felt like I had the whole NW to myself. The area is very thick with oaks and they were still dripping from the earlier storm. I walked down to I-90 and listened to the trucks go by. There might be no lonlier sound than a single truck sailing past late at night.
Wednesday morning was the funeral. The service was nice. Relia made it almost five minutes (which was three minutes longer than I expected). Mom took her for the rest of the time. This was an enormous help, I'd begun to feel like I couldn't experience anything because I was too busy being a father.
I hadn't realized that my Grandpa had his funeral in the same spot. He died long before I was around so I never really knew him. Now I know a little more. Grandma was looking forward to seeing him again.
I miss her already but she wasn't an everyday part of my life. She was an Austin part and that's when it'll feel weird. And holidays of course. She's the closest family member to me that's died and my emotions are still figuring things out. I hope that wherever she is, she's happy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Intellectual Jokes

For a limited audience maybe, but I liked them. Great big list here (via Althouse). Examples:

Q: What is the difference between an etymologist and an entomologist?
A: An etymologist would know the difference.

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The Buddhist monk approaches the hot dog vendor and asks: "Make me one with everything"

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I tried this dessert called Death by Chocolate, but it only made me stronger.

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Irishman goes for a job on a building site.
Foreman asks; 'What's the difference between girders and joists?'.
'One wrote Ulysses, the other wrote Faust'.

-

So Buddha orders a hot dog from a cart and gives the guy a $20.
There's a confused moment of silence and Buddha asks "where's my change?"
Vendor says: "Ah, change must come from within."

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If you're not part of the solution you're part of the precipitate!

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Steven Wright - The other day I was playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died. (look of dismay)

Demetri Martin - When you have a fat friend there are no see-saws. Only catapults.

Galifianakis - At what age do you tell a highway it was adopted? I think seven, because that's about the time he starts to think, "I don't look like Kiwanis."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Relia's Boyfriend


The FP Gal has found a boyfriend for our baby girl. His name is Thomas Sangster and here's his info. She picked him out while watching 'Love Actually' last week. Quote:
That's the one. He's cute and intelligent. And a redhead.
There's a catch of course. You might note that he turned 18 this year so there's a slight age difference. No problem, when he's 48 she'll be 30 and then it won't be such a big problem. We want to encourage her to marry late anyway.
One other note of interest, he appeared in two Doctor Who episodes. The main villain in those two is an actor named Harry Lloyd who is the spitting image of the FP Gal's brother. Judge for yourself.

The dreaded DVD opener

Relia is big enough now to start moving the furniture on her own. This has some definite downside. Ever since she's been walking we've barricaded off the DVD player, VCR and cable box. She likes to push buttons, changing channels and turning off important things. Not so good.
Well, our barricade (most would call it a table) is no longer an obstacle for her. We don't have a good way of keeping it in place that doesn't involve bolts or welding or something. So she can get to the critical stuff.
Today she discovered the button that opens the DVD player. Big mistake! The tray slides out without warning!!! She gets a worried look on her face and runs to the couch where she's (probably) safe.
In the background, Mommy and Daddy laugh.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crazy presents


One of the traditions surrounding my Grandma had to do with crazy Christmas presents. Each year my brother and I would pick out the worst possible gift for her. It was either unfathomably ugly, age inappropriate or something having to do with snakes. Some of my favorites were:
  • A pinata filled with candy and a toy hockey stick to break it open with.
  • A remote controlled snake.
  • Boxing gloves.
  • A chainsaw.
  • A Hello-Kitty toaster that makes toast with the Hello-Kitty imprint.
  • A giant stuffed shark.
All year long when I'd walk past the clearance section at Target, I'd think, "Hey, that Tiffany styled rooster would be a great gift for Grandma. Seriously, who did they think would buy something that ugly?". She loved the whole thing. We'd wait until all of the other gifts were exchanged and then this last gift would suddenly appear, almost always still in the bag from the store we bought it at.
I think that's when it will really sink in for me. On December 24th, when it's time to make that last minute buy, it'll somehow feel a little empty. There will be a definite something missing. That'll be you, Gram.
We love you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Erna Walker, RIP

My Dad just called and let me know that my Grandma has just passed on. The last few weeks were very up and down. She seemed very near the end and then gradually brightened. It seems that today she slid back down and that was that.
She lived a very full life. We have many wonderful memories of being with her and around her. We know that she's no longer suffering. Her brightening near the end was a great blessing because it allowed most of her family to see and talk with her one last time. We were able to tell her that we love her and know that she loved us.

Valleyfair

Today was my companies annual Valleyfair day. This is the day that they rent out the entire park and open it just for employees and their families. The pluses here are pretty obvious. The lines are nonexistent. You can literally go on a rollercoaster, walk around to the line and get right back on. Try that on a regular Saturday.
In the past they've also offered prizes ranging from $20 to 10% of your annual pay. They've also offered cruises and vacations. A girl I used to work with won a trip to Tahiti for two, airfare, accommodations and an extra week of vacation so she wouldn't lose any pay at work.
I said 'in the past' because this year there was no mention of any of this. It's been a tough year for us and this might be a reflection of that. Understandable but kind of sad.
Also sad was the state of the park. The rides this year were very rough. We went on six different roller coasters and three of them made me wonder if they were up to code. There was all kinds of rides that needed paint. Hopefully it was just end of the season issues.
Also sad (but for a different reason) is this list:
That's when the various coasters were built. The Corkscrew is almost thirty years old? How did that happen? I remember when Excalibur was built and there is no way that it was twenty years ago. Holy cats, that's depressing.
Still I don't want to gripe too much about a free day at an amusement park. We had fun and that's what counts.

Replay in baseball

A few weeks ago, baseball decided to ok a replay system to review close calls on home-runs. This was mostly decided because of an unusual string of tough plays during the early part of the season, at least one involving the Yankees on national TV.
Home-run decisions have become harder because ballparks are more and more going with unusual dimensions in the outfield. I'm a fan of this because I like the goofy factor, but this is definitely a drawback. Modern umpires are being asked to make quick judgments on whether or not a ball hit above or below something like a yellow line. Keep in mind that the umpire is more than 200 feet away when this happens and each play involves a change in score.
Last night for only the third time, a replay was involved and it cost the Twins three runs. (I didn't see the play and have no opinion but the Twins don't seem to feel robbed.) I heard some of the after talk on the radio while driving home and they said this was the third time in 300 games. Then they mentioned that each time it happens the umpires are in communication with the league office. Apparently there is some nerve center in New York where a team of people confer with them to make sure they make the right choice.
Picture that, a team of people in New York who sit around and help with a decision once every hundred games or so. Not just any decision but one that every fan at home wishes they could also offer input. This calls to mind a single question: where in the world is the application for this spot???
Research is inconclusive, but I'll stay on top of this.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The 35W bridge reopens


I'm sure we'll drive on it soon but we might wait awhile. Word on the street (ha!) is that there is quite a bit of gawker traffic right now. Understandably, but still I don't want to add to it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Random Wednesday thoughts

Guess these will be mostly baby related.
  • Morning comes early here on Walton Mountain. We're either back in teething mode or there are some social anxiety issues going on. We don't know which so she gets some Tylenol before bedtime and we'll try to ignore the late night screams. Well some of them.
  • Man, even typing that last feels cold. I used to work with a woman who had a three year old that couldn't sleep unless it was in bed with Mommy and Daddy. I don't want that. In fact, I'm afraid of that. So we get to be a bit cold hearted.
  • Related to the 2am yelling, I'm starting to have repeated insomnia. If I'm up for more than a minute or two then my brain turns all the way on and I can't get back to sleep. About two nights a week I get four hours split in some way. Not sure what to do but I'm not relying on that creepy sleeping butterfly.
  • It's not all complaints. In fact, outside of the sleeping stuff she's becoming easier and easier to spend time with during the day. Today she discovered the piano. The FP Gal is developing the pictures but I'm sure she'll post when she's got them. She mashes keys and that's expected. Surprisingly she also likes to play individual notes.
  • She's also to brave for her own good. The other day we found her standing on one of her toys so she could see out of the window. Twice today she fell off of tubs that we have in her playroom. It's probably only a matter of time before she climbs out of the crib. Then she'll creep downstairs, find the keys and go joyriding in the car. I'll put the time on this at about 20 months.
  • This means that we've also entered the bumpy headed time period. Every day there is a new bruise or scratch. No worries, this is pretty common. I had regular goose-eggs at least until third grade or so. Just feel bad for the poor thing. Well, this is how she learns, right?
  • That's it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Service

The last few days at work have been strange for us. One of our network offices is located in Houston. They shut down on Thursday and we've been helping to cover their calls ever since. That means that we've been talking to clients that our new to us with all of their strange policies and preferences. Not only does that involve very quick researching, it also means that we things that are outside of the usual for us.
For instance, I've been able to book new reservations for people again. Most of the time I fix existing reservations or help people work their way through our online booking tool. But with calls coming in from everywhere I'm getting to book new stuff. And I'm loving it!
Today I got a call from a guy who had a meeting in Berlin and then Freiberg. He didn't really know what flights he needed or what the easiest way to get from point B to C was. We looked at flights and times. We compared driving distances from Munich and Frankfurt. I even had to help find a different hotel in Berlin when it turned out that the preferred one was sold out. Loved it!
There is a feeling of accomplishment that you get from helping someone by using your special skills and experience. Much of my job has started to feel like technical help/whipping boy. This has been a refreshing change. And yes, I intend to talk to my manager about some of this.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Parenting

The FP Gal and I are discussing different types of poop. We never used to talk about things like this. So far neither of us have mentioned Tarvaris Jackson's quarterbacking.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Or...

Oh, the humanity!

Or should that be miceity?

If This Is It

Last night the FP Gal wandered past some TV show where the contestant had to complete lyrics from various songs. The lady was foiled by Huey Lewis, 'I Want a New Drug'. That made me realize that I hadn't heard any Huey Lewis in a long time and that was too bad. Maybe you feel the same way. If so, enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Smooth!

My head is again. Smooth as a ping-pong ball. And it feels great!
One thing they never tell you (although it makes sense if you ever think about it) is that toddlers take up a ton of your morning time. Usually I can make up for a busy day or two but this past week has been fairly nonstop. That meant my showers were brief (or skipped). That meant no shaving. And that meant hair all over the back of my head. Yuck!
The FP Gal thought it felt nice and velvety. I thought it felt itchy and gross. Well now I'm back to my regular hydro-dynamic self and I'm ready to roll.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Lee

Way back when I started this project, I voted for 'Mockingbird' as the greatest American novel. First read it all the way back in sixth grade and probably reread it a dozen times since. Each time I've loved it more than the previous time. This book is a serious part of our cultural tapestry and if you haven't read it, you should.
'Mockingbird' is probably the most universally praised book of this century. It suffered some small criticism when it came out as being more of a children's book. Of course, it's young protagonist is part of it's charm. We follow Scout as she grows up and learns about the actions and beliefs of her community. An adult would have been too hardened and cynical to have the same impact. We needed to hear an honest attempt to understand why some folks are quality and others are dirt. That type of lesson is learned young or not at all.
There are many themes in 'Mockingbird' that call your attention, the trial of Tom Robinson being the largest. I want to say something about a somewhat overlooked one, that of Atticus Finch and the importance of being the best father he could be. Atticus is noble in the way that few other characters are (outside of a Hugo novel). He does the right thing in the face of near universal condemnation. He works to treat all people well even in the face of intense provocation. He is the gold-hearted lawyer.
Near the end of the book he is worried that a small cover-up is being commited to help his family and he won't have anything to do with it. He's afraid that a sin will part him from his children and make him unable to look them in the eye. That's the price of his integrity. And he shows that it's worth it.
I voted it as the greatest and I see no reason to change my mind. An all time great book.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Turn over a new leaf

Must Read List

While looking at background for 'To Kill a Mockingbird' I ran across this list of the 30 most must read books from Britain's librarians. I was naturally excited to see a new booklist. Here it is:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quite on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn
Far too much Dickens for my taste. In fact, the list is pretty heavy on the 19th century stuff. It's interesting that 'Gone With the Wind' makes it since a lot of people think of it as a glorified romance novel (I loved it). Solzenhitsyn is another interesting addition. I wonder what a US version would include?

If I ran an NFL production booth

Watching actual games this past weekend (and especially Monday night) reminded me of the small things that the networks do or don't do that but me. If I was in charge, there would be some changes:
  • Replays, replays, replays. Not just for spectacluar plays either. Almost every penalty should be replayed so that fans can see if they're legit or not. Questionable spots, turnovers and touchdowns should be replayed quickly. This is especially true since teams actually rely on this for challenges.
  • More shots of cheerleaders.
  • Fewer meathead announcers. John Madden made it popular but it's tougher than it looks. And when it fails, it's dreadful. Smart announcers make for good TV. Limit the ex-jock factor for that same reason. They need more than a little charisma.
  • If we're going to have former players, try and keep them from covering their past teams. Listening to Troy Aikmen tell us about the Cowboys isn't great. Can't imagine how bad that must be for fans of the Redskins, Giants and Eagles. I'm not looking forward to hearing Brett Favre doing Viking/Packer games in five years.
  • Did I mention the cheerleaders?
  • Also, announcers should have chemistry. Three random people in the booth together aren't fun to listen to.
  • On the other hand, if they did pull three random people out of the stands, it might be more fun to listen to. Maybe they could put that audio track on a different channel and let people pick between them.
  • Cut the halftime interviews. Coaches never say anything interesting and the reporters always look stupid. This bit doesn't work and it's time to realize that and move on.
  • Fewer crowd reaction shots. Fewer shots of the coaches. Fewer shots of post touchdown celebrations.
  • Player introductions should only be read by trained pros. There might be a few players who can pull it off by experience has shown us that there is not one per team. Again, it doesn't work and they should stop it.
That would be for starters and frankly, it would be better.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Vikings/Packers

A few thoughts on the game last night...
  • This Viking defense looks good. The long pass in the first half was well covered, even though completed. There were few obviously wide open receivers and that's a great improvement. The running game was stout again.
  • The Vikes passing game? Eh. At least in the first half. By the third quarter it showed signs of life. Made me wonder if it was the result of Jackson missing the second half of preseason. He showed flashes of capability.
  • Of course he Favred it at the end. Maybe it was something of a tribute interception.
  • Adrian Peterson is still a bull. The problem he ran into late last year was an inability to do anything against an 8 man front. He'd dance and get tackled. Last night he put his head down and moved the pile. Any positive yardage is a good thing.
  • The Packers won this on special teams. That will probably be a weakness for the Vikes this season.
  • I picked the Vikes to win the division and I can still see it. There needs to be improvement, but you can see where it would come from. Meanwhile, the Pack wasn't dominant and a competent first half offense from the Vikes would have changed the game's outcome.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Doing better

Grandma seems to be doing better each day. The improvement from last Thursday is simply amazing. We have no idea what the future holds or how much longer she'll be with us of course, but for now the news is good.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Football Sunday

Today marks the kickoff for most of the NFL's teams. This marks the beginning of four months of glorious laying on couches and yelling at the TV. Thought I'd throw out some random thoughts:
  • The first game was actually played on Thursday night. The NFL wants to create a special day similar to baseball's Opening Day. Sorry, it's not really working. Football has something special in having most of it's games happen on one day of the week. It makes it more of an event. The more they split off games, the less of an event it is.
  • And this goes to the heart of the problem with the opening double Monday night games. Not only do you take one more good game off of the Sunday schedule, you screw up the rhythm. After you work an eight hour day, it's tough to watch two football games. Please fix this for next year. And stop starting Viking games at 6p.
  • A note to the local Fox affiliate, just because the Lions play in the same division doesn't mean that anyone in Minnesota wants to watch them play against the Falcons. Seriously, even if they were playing against a good team very few would want to actually watch them.
  • On the other channel, I've got Jets/Dolphins. The Dolphins and Falcons went 5-27 last year and in week one, I can watch either of them. Sweet. (Possibly this is the work of the NFL Ticket people. Very sneaky.)
  • In one of my fantasy football leagues, I picked Tom Brady fairly high for my QB. I probably ended his career with a knee injury. Sorry!
  • Complaints aside, it's cool and overcast. Ozzie is willing to sleep on me and right now Relia is taking a nap. Big wealthy men are slamming into each other for my enjoyment. Life is pretty good.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Grandma today

We picked up Hans at the airport this afternoon and drove down to Austin to see Grandma. She was much more responsive today and I'm not sure that made it easier. She was awake for most of our visit though she seemed to drift at times. She didn't have any tubes in her mouth so she could talk but she was very quiet and hard to understand. We got to give her our love and that meant a lot. It's still just a matter of time but it was very nice to have another 'sunny' day, even if it was much cloudier than we'd like.

Grandma update

I've been going back and forth on what to write about this and just decided to let it all hang out. The regular readers of this blog are all friends and family and many know Grandma personally.
Dad called me on Thursday and told me that her kidneys had stopped screening out toxins and they expected that she'd probably go that day or Friday. I'd taken the day off of work (under the weather) and could go down to Austin right away.
Got there in the afternoon and went right to the hospital. Dad met me and we went to see her. She's in a bed hooked up to five or six different things. Her eyes were barely open and she didn't seem aware of anything going on. The nurses had told him that she could still hear us and it was probably good for her to hear talking so we stayed in her room and chatted.
She's had issues the last few years. Congestive heart trouble and some kind of muscle weakening disease that affects her swallowing. The kidney trouble was new and very troubling. She was also having trouble breathing on her own so they had her hooked up to a respirator. There was talk of moving her to Mayo to get her set up for dialysis but in the past she made very clear that she wouldn't approve of any medical approach that needed to be done through Mayo. We've interpreted that as a limit to how far she'll push medical help.
Other family members showed up, my cousin Rickey and later my cousins Andrea and Tim. We shared memories of growing up around grandma. Recounted crazy stories from her house in Faribault. I'll share some of these in the next few weeks I'm sure.
Later in the afternoon, she seemed to become more aware. She was gripping with her hand. We told her who was there and that we loved her.
As of this morning she's breathing on her own but the prognosis doesn't look good. We think it's just a matter of time. My brother and sister are both flying in to see her. The family is gathering to say goodbye.
I'll share more news as I have it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Football reminder

Just a reminder that the football season starts tonight. Still time to sign up!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sad news

Just got word that my Grandma is in a bad way again. She's had health trouble before but this time is worse than the other times. Prayers and good thoughts are requested.

Amazing Race

The FP Gal is watching a rerun of our favorite show, The Amazing Race, on the Travel Channel. It reminds me that the new season starts on Sep 28th. And yes, we're very excited for it.
It makes sense that the travel channel would air this as one of it's charms is the scenery and people of other parts of the world. In some ways, the show involves every travelers worst nightmare as the contestants deal with being lost in unfamiliar surroundings. They have to work through language barriers and strange traffic customs. It becomes a challenge of who can keep their cool.
It's lots of fun and if you've never seen it you should treat yourself.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

NaNoWriMo

Chris has started a 30 Day Writing Challenge and that reminds me that it's time to sing out the praises of NaNoWriMo again.
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to spend 30 days writing a novel of at least 50,000 words. That amounts to at least 1667 words a day. Each November is their target month and every year many thousands of people do it and finish it. What's more, they enjoy it and feel that it's a real accomplishment in their lives.
I've done it the last two years and plan to do it again this coming one. The goal is very manageable as long as you keep working at it. 2000 words takes me somewhere between an hour and two hours, depending on how smoothly the story is going. They focus on word count over quality because they believe that you can get to a point where the push to write overcomes your internal editor. Strange and wonderful things can happen then. When I was writing I found that some of my characters had a life of their own and I was both surprised and proud. (Sadly, some of my characters had no life whatsoever but that happens too.)
If you've ever thought that there might be a novel in you, this is a wonderful way to scratch that itch! Who knows, you may find that you love it. If nothing else, you'll have something to brag about.
The site offers a free sign up. There are support groups all over the country and in other countries, too. Some of them have meetings, all of them offer support to other writers. Don't be afraid to try it, you'll be glad you did.

Best Picture Blunders

A fun list here. They list various technical or geographical problems from different Best Picture nominated films. The screwed up geography of 'Fargo' is listed.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Protesters

According to the Strib, some 200 protesters were arrested today in St Paul. I'm sure that the vast majority of them were good decent people who just wanted to voice their opinion and show up to be counted. I probably didn't agree with them but I certainly want to let them speak their piece. As to the people who were there only to disrupt a lawful gathering, frankly they're jerks. I sincerely hope that they spend the rest of the week in jail, far away from civilized folks.
In a related article, Ramsey county conducted a raid on Saturday aimed at a disrupting an anarchist group that wanted to shut down St Paul. From the article:
On Saturday afternoon, he [Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher] displayed a number of the confiscated items: a gun, throwing knives, a bow and arrows, flammable liquids, paint, slingshots, rocks...

Ok, maybe suspicious but not necessarily anything wrong.
...and buckets of urine.
That's where you lose me.
"We know these things were going to be used as weapons," Fletcher said, a charge protesters and their advocates vigorously disputed.
Vigorously disputed. Seriously? Any guesses as to the explanation for the 'buckets of urine'? How charming is that, they were prepared to soak the police or the delegates, all in the name of free speech.
As I said, jail em and keep them away from civilized folks.

"We Are the World"

The 80's video marathon marches on and they've gotten to the U's which brings up 'USA for Africa - We Are the World'. Yes, it's strange to hear (and watch) this on Labor day but some days you just have to roll with the punches. Some general observations:
  • Relia has taught us that the proper way to appreciate this song is to spin in a circle and clap. Sometimes the dizzyness will get to you and you have to sit down for a minute but it's important to get back up and do it some more. If you want to hug a doll while doing this, you may.
  • Who sings right before Bruce Springsteen? The FP Gal says that it's Al Jarreau. Let's go to Wikipedia...and...she's right!
  • I think it was right after this that they got together to sing about Ben Afleck and what their relationship entails.
  • Separated at birth?




I should note that the clapping thing happens whenever she hears applause. It makes ordinary TV watching much more amusing.