Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Interesting post over at Reason today. The author is talking about his five year old daughter's homework:
She had to count all the doors, all the windows, and all the shoes in our house. But we didn't know what to do with the latest assignment: "Count the books in your house." The answer space allows only a two-digit number, so anyone with more than 99 books is out of luck. As we discovered, there are a few hundred books in my daughter's bedroom and several thousand in the house.
That got him to wondering how many books the average household has. He wasn't really able to find good data on it but he thought most would have more than 100. I'd estimate that I've got more than a thousand books here. Probably much more. The Hugo reading project alone will add about 40 new ones and I'm also buying up the Man Booker series for another 40.
Note that I don't mean any of this as bragging. I'm certain that all of the regular readers here have home libraries well over 100 books and if it's somehow smaller it's because of aggressive library use or something similar. We are part of a book culture.
I'm happy to add that Relia is firmly part of that culture herself. She loves to have us read to her. Even has favorite books that she wants to hear before bedtime. She'll be a reader. Man, I'm glad of that.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Next vacation spot?

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur CA. Gorgeous pictures.

Yikes! I just checked out the prices. And check out the awful name they gave the cheapest room (shudder). Still, if we would just hit the Powerball...

Back to work

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Even more snow is coming our way. It's coming up on April and the snow hasn't stopped screwing with us yet. Didn't that six week deadline from the groundhog already expire?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Baseball coming...

Well, eventually it'll be here. They've had an extended spring training due to the WBC and it's thrown off my baseball rhythm. Today, WGN had the only White Sox game they'll show this spring with the their broadcasters so I had to watch. The FP Gal watched with me for about ten minutes before she said that she missed football because the game is faster paced.
I don't remember if I mentioned it or not but we sprung for the package that lets me watch games on my computer. I've seen some spring training but the regular season is supposed to be of higher quality. The best part of it is that it acts like a DVR so I don't have to watch games live. The plus is that I can watch late at night after the FP Gal has gone to bed.
The consensus of forecasters is that there is no true favorite in the AL Central this year. I personally don't know what to expect either. My hope is that the White Sox win it all and failing that, I'd like them to be competitive all season.
One other storyline is that one of my favorite players of recent years, Joe Crede, is now with the Twins. (I can't help it, I love good glovemen.) He's had back trouble the past few years which is why the Sox let him go. Can't imagine that the Metrodome will be kind to that. With the exception of the games against my boys, I wish him luck.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Have a great Friday

I think I could deal with living right there.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Car troubles

I've made a few cryptic comments about this so I may as well tell the whole story. Back in 2003 I bought a Saturn Ion. It was the first year of that model make and I don't think I'll do that again. The car is a simple one and I've been mostly happy with it.
But it has a problem. Several times I've gone to start the car in the morning and it won't go. The starter doesn't turn over. When I turn the key again, nothing happens. This has only happened in the winter. Last winter I replaced the battery and I hoped that would solve the problem. Not so much.
Back in January I looked into replacing the starter. I googled around to see if this was a common problem with Saturn Ions. Guess what? It is!
Seems that on cold days there can be a problem with the starter. If it doesn't turn over the first time then some kind of security function goes into place and stops it from going again. You can't restart it for 8-10 minutes (or something like that).
Knowing all of this makes it manageable. On cold mornings I go outside and start the car about 20 minutes before we need to leave for daycare. If it doesn't start then I come back in and set the timer for 10 minutes. If it doesn't start the second time then I set the timer again. So far so good.
It sucks when I have to wait. Especially if it happens when we're out somewhere. But what can you do? It sounds like Saturn figured out the problem because the boards only talk about 2003-2004 models. Would've been nice if they recalled the part. This doesn't make me feel warm about buying from them in the future.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If I knew...

That I'd be linking to various videos tonight, I would have just done a plain old 'random things' post. Anyway, here is video of the world's coolest flight attendant. It's outstanding and I fully expect that you'll be seeing clips of this on the Today show sometime soon.

Update: Link fixed.

Public notice

I do not want any singing animal toys. Especially singing fish. Thank you, you may now return to your regularly scheduled reading.

(Inspired by this commercial, with which my daughter is fascinated. I think it's the new 'Egg Song'. It's also the trippiest McDonald's commercial of my lifetime. You know how some people say that you need to smoke something to really appreciate Pink Floyd's 'The Wall'. That's how this commercial makes me feel.)

Cadbury strings

(Via Ed Driscoll)

I found this strangely relaxing to watch.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nice weather for ducks

A nice drizzly day today. We had a gorgeous weekend and now a couple of days with some rain. Spring is really and truly here. Soon I'll have to check for tulips in the garden. Still could have some snow, maybe even tonight, but winter is finally done.
Of course that means in two short months we'll be into the sweltering heat. Ugh. Nevermind that, throw it out of your head. Spring is here. The FP Gal tells me that everything smells like new life outside.
Ahhh. Glorious.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Double Star - Heinlein

The Great Lorenzo Smythe is an incredibly talented actor, at least he thinks so. Unfortunately his talent isn't recognized and he is sadly between gigs. Then he meets a spaceman at a bar and is rushed into a job before he knows what's happening. He is secretly going to act as a double for the most prominent politician of his time. The job isn't without risk and he is soon convinced that he's being set up to act as a clay pigeon. But can he turn down the chance to make the most perfect art?
Longtime readers of this blog will know that I'm a huge Heinlein fan and I've read this book at least a dozen times before. He spent some time in politics in his younger days and he brings that experience in spades here. The novel takes place as Mars and Venus are colonized and he has created a complex political world and set of concepts. The prime mover has to do with the rights of non-humans and Heinlein argues firmly for equal rights. Remember that the book was published in 1956.
He also shows an idealized view of politicians. The prominent character is a Winston Churchill like figure who has created his own party to deal with the issues of the day. He is a man of high character who takes the long view and thinks that it involves fair play and justice for everyone. (Frankly we could use him in Washington right now.)
I also enjoyed his treatment of actors and the acting profession in general. I must have first read this back in my teen years when I was doing tons of community theater. The theme of professionalism and commitment to the larger team must have made some impression on me.
It's a great read and I'd highly recommend it.

Back to work


Sunday, March 22, 2009

To travel or not to travel

I found this blog post from Roger Ebert this morning. Apparently he ran across a statistic that only 10% of Americans had ever traveled to a different country. He says:
This is the richest and least-traveled of "developed" nations, and I have a feeling many Americans thank heaven every day that they have never had occasion to leave it. But this will not be a column boasting about my travels to every continent except Australia and Antarctica, and how as a wee lad I saved up my 75-cent an hour salary and boarded a DC-6 that took me to London by way of Gander, Reykjavík and Aberdeen. No, not even though I just googled Antarctica and this is all I found on the page: "stu is a legend and the good guy has cheap sales." That piece of internet vandalism, no doubt created by a friend of Stu's, was authored (I somehow know) by an American [1] who has never walked three steps outside his own state--of mind. I am enlisting a cyber-posse to track him down and airlift him to the South Pole with a hooded sweatshirt bearing the legend "I'm With Stupid" and an arrow pointing to a penguin. We will leave him with two cans of Ensure and a match.

Dig that condescending tone? Look I'm a traveler too. If I had money and time (and less family obligation), I'd be out there seeing different parts of the world. Every time I've had the chance to do so, I've grabbed it.
But I know people that don't care to travel. It has nothing to do with their American state of mind. It's more because they like more control over their situation than travel, especially extensive travel, provides. Or it has to do with them being very happy with their hobbies here in the states. Or some other reason that doesn't have to do with mixing with foreigners.
Ebert continues by talking to a friend of his who is very well traveled and wealthy enough to live in Oahu and 'summer' in Cape Cod. It should be an obvious point that travel is easier for those with money. It's easier to fund your trips, easier to find time to go and (maybe most importantly) easier to get out of any real jams. Ebert doesn't seem to notice any of this.
Another obvious point is that travel to other countries is much easier for other parts of the world. If you're in Europe then you only need a short car, train or plane ride to get somewhere else. Now that the EU has easy travel between member nations, you don't even have to worry about passports for large areas. The US is obviously different.
Another point is that you can find just about any kind of trip within the US's borders. You want natural beauty? Try this list of Natural Parks in the US. There are some specific things that we can't match (the Great Barrier Reef springs to mind) but we can compete pretty well.
Culture? Our cities are bursting with museums, symphonies and storied buildings. Again, there are culturally unique things that you can't see here but that is more a matter of taste than anything else.
Different cultures? Try New Orleans. Or Honolulu. Or Manhattan. Or Savannah. Or the Native Americans of the southwest. Or Chinatown in San Fran. Or literally hundreds of other spots. Every area of the world has pockets of culture here in the US. A short drive from my house would put me in authentic restaurants of a dozen different ethnicities.
I agree that travel can be a good thing. I love to see historic places and beautiful spots. I bet that Ebert and I would love going to many of the same places and seeing the same things. The difference is that I don't look down on people that feel differently.
Roger Ebert, you're a jerk.

Amazing Race update

(Spoilers, of course.) Tonight's show featured a race to Jaipur India, known locally as 'the pink city'. The city was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1853. The show focused on the crushing poverty of the city, and it is crushing. We're cynical enough to figure that the show's producers are playing off of the popularity of 'Slumdog Millionaire'.
Sometimes the race features teams that have been held back by different difficulties in such a way that there is fairly large time gaps between groups. Not so with this one as they were all bunched at the beginning. The race all took place within Jaipur so no one got that far ahead or behind. I like that.
The highlight of the episode for me was a task where they had to transport food and water for camels. They were given a bucket for water and they had to figure out that a stack of baskets was to be used for the feed. At least one woman (and maybe a second) missed the baskets and just stuffed the feed down her shirt. It looked incredibly uncomfortable.
Not a bad one tonight, but it lacked the beautiful scenery that they often get. The commercials for the lead in really drove home the poverty angle and it was the obvious hook. Sometimes they show the contestants acting like the cliche 'ugly American' in poor areas but this time they showed sympathy instead. It made for a nice change.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Relia has put on a hat, picked up a bucket and told us 'bye-bye'. Not sure where she's going yet. I hope she'll let us know when she gets there.
Frankly, we'd be more worried if she knew how to operate the door knobs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mexican Pizza

I was making one of those great little Totinos pizzas when the FP Gal got home with Relia. The timing on their homecoming was a little up in the air so I didn't know if I would be eating alone or not. Well, Relia got one look at the pizza cooking and decided that she needed to be fed right now. Not only that but she called it by name. Loudly and repeatedly.
So...we shared a pizza. (Relia and I did; the FP Gal doesn't care for my exotic pizza tastes. Basically, she wants fungus or cheese or nothing at all. Yuck.) I was worried because the pizza was mexican style and I was afraid that Relia would start taking all of America's jobs. Just kidding, I was afraid that the onions and chilies would be too hot for her.
Well, those worries were certainly misplaced. She hoovered the durn thing. And then sucked on her bib to try and get every last bit of mexican pizza goodness that she could. I don't know if we found a new favorite but we certainly achieved happiness tonight.

Have a great Friday

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Anti-mosquito lasers

(H/t to my friend Jenny) I think I want one of these. Except I want to beef it up so it can tackle the real menace, moths. Maybe I could add it to my moth fighting outfit...


Relia is at the stacking blocks age. She stacks them as high as she can, a height usually established by how high she can reach on the table. After it's stacked she takes a swipe at them, knocking them down. Then loudly, "Oh no!", with as much tragedy as she can muster.
Then pick up the blocks and repeat.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How to tell when a lead is safe

I really enjoyed this admittedly geeky article on 'How to Tell When a Baseketball Lead is Safe'. Warning, math geekery is involved.
And since I'm mentioning basketball, let me say that I have no advice for picking games for a pool. Well, once bit of advice...get involved in a basketball pool! The NCAA tournament is one of the top events of the sports calendar.
Especially the first weekend of games, which starts tomorrow morning. Each spring the selection committee picks the teams and seeds them as well as they can. Each year there are huge upsets and games that are much closer than the seeding suggests they should be. And each and every game has the drama that only comes from a 'one and done' format.
The Gophers play tomorrow at 6ish, so be certain to tune in and cheer them on if nothing else.

(Oh, and I picked Pitt to win in my office pool, so you can cheer for them, too.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Need Advice, Please

Ok, so say that you have a toddler who sometimes wakes up screaming around 2 or 3 in the morning. Should you:

A: let them scream until they fall back asleep?
B: go in and rock them, in hopes that they will go back to sleep?
C: invest in a tranquilizer gun and dart them from the doorway?

We've been leaning towards B, but we're afraid that we're developing a bad habit and that she'll simply expect the attention in the middle of the night. Any advice?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bee-yootiful Weather

After all of my complaints about the long, cruel winter (which were totally justified, btw) I should note that we have had a simply gorgeous few days.
Actually, let me back up. When I left work last Monday we had something of a blizzard going on. It wasn't that cold, but there was snow and gale force winds. Seriously, the snow was thrown at you horizontally. It was like bad weather coming off of the ocean.
When the winds died down, the temps dropped. We were below zero overnight and had windchill warnings. Back into the heaviest of winter clothing. Again.
Then the weather turned on Friday. We had an afternoon high above freezing. Saturday took us up to 50 and Sunday was warmer still. Highs are in the 50's and 40's all of this week. It's almost crazy nice out.
Spring, the nicest of the seasons, is almost here.

Another work week opens...

(Kate, these clouds are parting. And word on the street is that they're happy clouds.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Ninth Wave - Kate Bush

I've been waiting for someone to do this almost from the first that I toured YouTube. Someone has taken the second half of the Kate Bush album 'Hounds of Love' and put it to video. Part one is embedded, part two is here and here is part three. Very good stuff.

Amazing Race

Yep, another set of comments, as always spoilers follow:
  • Only 'Survivor' has a bigger hypocrite factor than 'Amazing Race'. Last week's episode featured one team screwing another one so hard that they were eliminated. (I guess deaf people can play hardball.) This week, that same team cried foul because another team tried to pull ahead of them in a car race. The nerve!
  • The last two episodes have both been in Siberia and it's very interesting to watch. Soviet style architecture won't win any beauty pageants, if you know what I mean. Also, note that I said 'interesting' and not 'beautiful' or 'picturesque'. I miss the Alps from the first couple of episodes.
  • The big challenge of this leg was driving a four speed manual car. The famous Lada, beloved by car enthusiasts nowhere. The FP Gal wonders why people don't brush up on driving a stick before going on the race. I don't have any answer for her.
  • The highlight of the episode came near the end. They had one member strip down to their skivvies (underwear to you and me) and job 1.4 miles in the cold weather. They showed the temp several times, it was -4 C which translates to 16km or in local terms: a balmy day. The FP Gal realized a personal dream as they showed Phil in nothing but his trunks.
  • Another good show. Really, this is some of the best stuff on TV.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You - 2009

Short movie review: it was ok, not great. Very much what it was advertised as. The rest will be a review of our night out, I think.
We went out for our first sit down dinner together in ages tonight. Nothing special, just a chance to sit and chat without feeding Relia or anything. It was very nice. We talked about our (suddenly happy) finances and that made it even better.
Then a quick spin around Ikea. Didn't buy anything but we like to cruise through there every so often. They are so clever! And I love the little room layouts. If I suddenly found myself trying to outfit a 500 sq foot apartment, I'd probably just copy one of their blueprints (and turn my storage locker into a library or something).
Then off to the movie. It came out a good month ago so we were hoping it wouldn't be too crowded. No such luck. We ended up with seats filled on both sides of us, me with my coat in my lap. Every time we've gone to a movie together over the last year or so (which might be three times total) we've been packed in like sardines. Not awful, but not great.
The movie is ok. It has a problem that I've seen in other movies (and tv shows) that are primarily pitched towards women. The comedic rythym is off. A quarter beat slow or something. I don't know why but when I mentioned it to the FP Gal she agreed. With this movie at least, I don't know her opinion on the others.
The first thing you notice about this movie is the huge 'name' cast. Here's the IMDB list, almost the entire main character list is people that you'll already recognize. The exception for me was Ginnifer Goodwin, who was probably did the best job of acting. Second place actually goes to Ben Affleck who narrowly beat out Scarlet Johansson's breasts.
There is an interesting element of advice to daters in terms of deciding how much investment is wise and when to tell if someone is really into you or not. I haven't read the book but I hope it's having a positive impact out there. Dating is tricky and there are hard truths that are sometimes too easy to avoid.
During the movie, I kept wishing that we were watching it at home on DVD instead. We could have talked and made comments about the plot and the actors. We could have paused it to discuss the few moments near the end when the movie cheats on itself. Best of all we would have had Ozzie under the blanket on our laps.


For the night at least. The FP Gal's folks have taken Relia and we won't get her back 'til morning. Dinner and movie will commence shortly.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Probst Blogs

The FP Gal asked me why I didn't post links to Jeff Probst's Survivor blogs yet. Here goes for:

Epi 1
Epi 2
Epi 3
Epi 4

Days of Whine and Relia

Yesterday I stayed home with Relia because she's sick. A deep hacking cough that made us feel guilty about sending her to day care on Monday and (worse for us) loss of ability to sleep at night. Today was my normal day off with her so it was long days back to back.
Last night was her worst sleeping night in a very long time. She went down easily enough, if later than usual. Then she was up and screaming from about 9p till midnight. She could really only rest if she was laying on one of us. She slept on the FP Gal on Tuesday and I tried to take my turn on Wednesday. The problem is that I cannot sleep on my back. Just can not do it. (This caused plenty of problems in the hospital after the car accident.)
The FP Gal finally took her and rocked her to sleep. She was up at six and let me tell you, it wasn't enough sleep. Fortunately, it wasn't enough for her either and she back down pretty early for a good nap.
Actually, the last two days weren't that bad. She really loves to play with us. She loves to read books and she's getting better and better at recognizing objects. It's fascinating. And rewarding.
Now if she would just sleep the night through...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Greatest Living Actor

Interesting column from the Sports Guy in which he asks who the 'greatest living actor' is. He uses Oscar nominations to create a scoring system and comes up with an answer that surprises me: Meryl Streep. Don't get me wrong, I'm not questioning her ability, she's just not my cup of tea. Here is her movie resume. Glancing through it, I'm thinking the last movie Meryl Streep movie I saw was...'Death Becomes Her' in 1992. Can that be right? Anyway, here was his list of top actors and actress (read the article for explanation of the system):

Top 13 actors: Nicholson (38); Spencer Tracy (35); Laurence Olivier (32); Marlon Brando (30); Hoffman, Newman (29); Jack Lemmon (28); Peter O'Toole (24); Gary Cooper, Hanks, Penn (23); De Niro and Pacino (22).

Top 10 actresses: Hepburn (52); Streep (45); Bette Davis (41); Ingrid Bergman (29); Jane Fonda (27); Greer Garson (25); Liz Taylor (23); Jessica Lange, Sissy Spacek (22); Ellen Burstyn (20).

My favorite actor is probably Anthony Hopkins, who would score 14 points in this system. Kate Winslet has 18 points and is young enough that she could very reasonably take the top spot someday.
He also talks about why we don't need a movie hall of fame. I mentioned the need for one of those way back here. I completely disagree with him on this and I still don't know why no one has simply put one together. I mean if Cleveland can just make a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then any city could reasonably do a movie one, right?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Accidental Child Deaths

This is quite possibly the worst thing I've ever read. Via Megan McCardle, the discussion in her comments about prosecution is interesting. For the record, I can't imagine the benefit in most cases.

Monday, March 09, 2009

For WW II Buffs


Update: Link fixed.


Now that Thanksgiving is finally over (and the cable is reduced), the Wii has gotten some more use lately. I've been stress eating at work for the last couple of months and I can feel it. Not that I'm hyper conscious about my weight (and not that anyone else is closely paying attention either) but it's good to keep tabs on it, right?
Well, one of the reasons we got the Wii was so that we would have some kind of 'get up and move around' entertainment. We were good with it last summer but not so much after Relia started moving around more. She doesn't like it when she can't play and if you dare to use the balance board, she pushes and pulls you off of it. Very cute, but not easy to play with. So now we wait until she's down and make an effort to play at night.
Tonight we boxed against each other. Holy cats did that feel wrong! Especially during the replay where I punched the FP Gal in the head and she buckled like she was shot. We quickly switched to our other Miis and had a Tigger vs Clint Eastwood match. Much better.
I don't know if this will last but for the time being we're doing it and having fun.

Back to work...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Thanksgiving in March

Last November we ran into a strange situation regarding Thanksgiving. My parents were both many time zones away and the FP Gal's folks were heading out of town, too. That limited our family options, though not badly and we had a wonderful time with some of my relatives.
We missed our parents but that wasn't all we missed. Ever since the FP Gal and I got together I've noticed just how much she enjoys preparing the meal with her father. The two of them work well together and woe to anyone else who dares enter their kitchen. On my urging, the FP Gal got a turkey. They really are so cheap that time of year that it's tough to pass them up. We've had it down in our freezer and today we're (finally) going to cook that bird up.
We've invited our folks so that we can eat with them. We've cleaned the house (and it's breathtaking how many toys Relia has). We joked about putting some football on to make it feel more like Thanksgiving. Due to the remote control's disappearance, we have been forced to do just that.
I'll post pictures later. In the mean time, take some time today to be thankful for something. We will.

Daylight Savings Time

It's that time of the year again, the tough part of DST. Here's an article complaining about it, and apparently those who run the numbers suggest that this actually costs us energy, instead of saving it. My suggestion last year was that we go ahead and change the clocks but we do it early Saturday morning so that there is more time to adjust before going to work on Monday.
This year I'm thinking a bit more out of the box. What if we (and remember that this is a work in progress) simply move the clock back one hour twice a month? That way we can have that extra hour and never spring ahead. By the end of the year we will be back where we should have been. The only downside I can see is that we'd only have a 364 day year, and frankly who cares that much about that? Yes, at some point, the normal daytime hours would end up in the middle of the night but businesses can simply adjust their hours to match normal times. Really not that difficult.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


For all of my complaining about the weather, I really do think that the worst of winter is behind us. There will be more snow of course. I think March usually brings us the most snow of the winter. But at least the very cold temps should be gone. The 10 day forecast says that single digits are mostly gone, with several days above freezing.
That means that the lovely rain storms will be coming back. Thank heavens for YouTube so I don't have to wait. I can enjoy one right now. (Andrew, don't watch this video.)

Futuristic furniture

From Weburbanist (of course) comes this list of futuristic furniture. I think the 'Untitled Chair' is my favorite. I wonder if the cats would like it?

Site news

This news may only be interesting to me, but so be it. The hit counter at the bottom of the blog is as of this moment only 86 hits away from the 50,000 mark. Now that's a bit arbitrary since I didn't put the counter on from day one. Still...if you happen to notice that you're the one that tipped it over, do me a favor and leave a comment ok?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Top Ten Warming strategies

Pat asked for some ideas to combat this eternal winter. (And Andrew, I've come to think of you as a winter 'bitter-ender'.) I've given this a bit of thought and come up with some ideas. Here are the top ten:

Get a job with that nice Dharma company and see if they'll relocate us
to a tropical island.

Two words: more hairspray.

The cats are warm cuddlers but only for a small spot. Solution? Get a

A house sized Snuggie.

Install a steam room.

Cover the entire house with green house glass.

Perform sacrifices to the unhappy sun god.

Think warm thoughts.

Put jalapenos in the furnace.

Just wait six more weeks...

Random rerun thought

I don't care how long Maura Tierney was on 'ER' or if she ended up as a couple with any random doctor. She belongs with Dave Foley and nothing will convince me otherwise.

Update: 'Lost' related, so (minor) spoiler alert. I mentioned to the FP Gal that this has become the most complicated time travel show since 'Back to the Future 2'. She hoped that it wouldn't get silly like 'Back to the Future 3'. We both decided that if the final season is set in a wild west town that we'd both be very disappointed.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Man, if work hadn't been so lousy today I would have run right out and bought this album.

Monday, March 02, 2009


I've tried to be a good sport about this, I really have. But I'm just sick and tired of being cold! I don't want to put on eight items of clothing when I get out of bed. I don't want to wear four extra bits of clothes when I go outside. I'm tired of having to pay close attention to the bedding while I sleep.
I'm done!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Forever Machine - Clifton & Riley

This book has a couple of stacked premises that drive it. The first one has to do with an unusual boy who is telepathic. He's very frightened that anyone outside of his family will learn of it because he doesn't want to be different.
When this boy becomes a college student he gets roped into a government project led by a professor who has guessed his secret. The project is to design a machine that can make judgments like a human does. The professor urges the boy to 'push' the various designers so that they can make the best machine possible. Apparently telepathy somehow gives him perfect judgment and the ability to see the future although that is never really explained.
When the machine is finished (and I'm going to go ahead and give the spoilers away because I really can't recommend that anyone read this) it can somehow help a person in such a way that they become young and telepathic. This is done by systematically resolving any and all contradictions in their thoughts/actions/etc. The hitch is that only people that have little certainty in their life can let go of these tangled things and give in to the process.
Not a good book at all. Long sections of it have to do with absurd public reaction, all told with a sneer. The characters are all cardboard. The 'science' takes wild leaps that defy logic and common sense. It's clear that the authors felt strongly about...something, but it's hard to tell what. Certainly not the worst book I've read lately (ahem) but, man it wasn't good.

Amazing Race

A good episode tonight (spoilers follow, proceed at your own risk):
  • Let me start with last week and mention that the show took place mostly near the German/Austria border. Very beautiful. The pit stop was in Salzburg (which I know is dear to at least one member of my family).
  • This week's biggest challenge had to do with connecting between different types of transportation. From trains to airplanes and then those airplanes to other planes. Not so easy and I bet the teams wished they had been allowed to just drive from Salzburg to Bucharest. According to Google maps, the drive takes about 17.5 hours (although you do have to drive in those mysterious 'kilometers' that they sometimes mention).
  • The biggest travel risk taken during this episode is one that I would have been tempted to do myself. Maybe. Anytime you're dealing with the 'last flight of the night' you have to be very careful on timing. Any glitch at all and you become very thoroughly screwed.
  • The FP Gal thinks that Phil is a 'metrosexual'. For the not so hip, that's a term that basically means 'a man who spends too much of his time grooming himself'. I disagreed with her and said that he is simply a Kiwi (New Zealander). She asked if there is a big difference. I'm guessing there is but I really don't know.
  • Two interesting themes seem to be coming about in each episode so far. One is 'natives laughing at the Americans' and so far I approve. The other is 'contestants getting lost in the mountains'...and I also approve. (If you want to stretch, you could also say that European mountainous areas have been featured quite a bit. Very beautiful areas.)
  • So far (remember the spoiler alert) we've had three different winners in three shows. I love that! It becomes boring if the teams too quickly settle into obvious weak and strong groups. I can only hope that this contiunes.

Parenting bonus

At some point you, as a parent, will have a better understanding of the milk-yogurt-cottage cheese sequence than you ever did before.