Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Passing it along

Micah is doing this and I'm going to give it a shot too:

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me! My choice – For you. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
2. What I create will be just for you.
3. It’ll be done within a year. {might be a little while}
4. You will have no clue what it’s going to be. It may be a story. It may be poetry or maybe even some creation I haven’t even invented yet. I may draw or paint something. I may bake you something and mail it to you. I may even sew something for you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!
5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

The catch? Oh, the catch is that you must re-post this on YOUR blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Remember the walkman?

Apparently this is the 30th anniversary of the Walkman. (Hans, correct me on this but I think we got ours about 1984 or so...). Anyway, the BBC asked a modern kid to swap his I-pod for a Walkman and the results are kind of interesting. [Warning this brought home the generation gap to me in a way that almost nothing else really has.]
When I saw it for the first time, its colour also struck me. Nowadays gadgets come in a rainbow of colours but this was only one shade - a bland grey.
It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

He was also bugged by the lack of a 'shuffle' option. Man, that takes me back though. Combined with all of the Michael Jackson nostalgia it's like a mid 80's revival! Throw in some strap on roller skates and a Union Jack hat and the picture is complete.
And, upon reflection, that picture ain't so pretty...

Random Monday night thoughts

Let's see what we've got tonight...
  • We have an old fashioned box shaped TV. We plan to have this TV for awhile, until it breaks or an absolutely great deal on flat screens. Probably. We've noticed that more and more shows are formatted for the wide angle and that means that the ends are cut off. I'm kind of afraid for what football games will look at this fall.
  • It's been about four months since we reduced our cable. Obviously we've gotten by somehow. I do miss some of the other channels. The sports and the movies. And especially the music channels.
  • Speaking of music, I-Tunes has added to their library. I complained that I couldn't get this or this. Now I have them. And this one gets stuck in the FP Gal's head.
  • BTW, this is my new favorite video of Relia. Last night's dinner featured plenty of tongue wagging.
That's it!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Duluth and Back

Yesterday we went for a trip up north. We left in the morning, first stopping at the gas station for gas and munchies. The FP Gal got some milk to share with Relia. She let her take a sip and then took it from her while I got on the interstate and needed to accelerate. There were protests and I told her she needed to be patient. She waited one beat and with perfect timing screamed, "No!". It was very funny.
Up we went and she didn't sleep at all on the drive. We stopped at the rest area just outside of Duluth and were treated to thick, thick fog. I love that cool moist deliciousness. It turned out that the clouds were at that exact level, once we drove down the hill it was open space.
We had a quick spot of lunch and then drove further north to a beach that the FP Gal loves. There is a small turnout and then a short walk to the rocks. The whole thing is largish surf rounded rocks and stones. We tried to teach her how to skip rocks and ended up giving her a love for throwing stones and yelling. Just as well.
Then back to town for our party. You might remember the get together with my former high school friends back in January. Back then we decided to try it again in warm weather. That was yesterday. A little different mix of people but still lots of fun. (If we keep this up and just add a couple more each time we could have the unofficial class of '91 reunion all on our own.)
Then back home, much too late for Relia. We some quiet moments and some screaming. We had an ill timed gas refill that resulted in more outrage. She finally collapsed about ten minutes from home, a good three hours later than usual. Got her into the house, changed her and put her down. We were both in bed shortly after.
A very good, but long, day.

X-Men Geekery

I enjoyed this.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thoughts from the Road

There are some people who insist on driving in the left lane even though they aren't passing anyone. Often these people will drive right at the speed limit. Sometimes they will speed up a notch if you try and pass them on the right.

These people are jerks.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Star Trek - 2009

(Yes, the one that came out last month.)

We finally got a chance to go out and see it today. It was fun! And very well done. We're glad that we went.

Not a good enough review? Ok, so this movie goes back to tell the story before the original series starts. There are introductions of all the old favorites, all well done. The storyline worked and the special effects were quite well done. I hope the same crew makes more Star Trek movies.

(One small thing, they don't really show a 'cliff' in Iowa. I think it's some kind of quarry.)

Have a great Friday

Santorini, Greece

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Micheal Jackson, RIP

For today, let's try and forget the complete weirdo that he became. Here is a video from back in his happy days. At least he looked happy. Happiness and celebrity don't really mix well.

New Transformers Movie

The new Transformers movie has been roundly panned and I don't plan on seeing it. Did see something interesting today though. The full title is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. (Why do movie studios do this? Just call the dern thing Transformers 2 and be done with it. You're not adding any value by giving it a subtitle. You just aren't.)
Anyway, I'm seeing the title abbreviated as Transformers: ROTF. In modern textspeak 'ROTF' means 'rolling on the floor' and it usually means 'I'm laughing so hard that I'm rolling on the floor'. I don't know how deliberate the chosen title was but 'Transformers: Rolling on the Floor' is a great title. (For some reason I can picture Kevin Bacon in it.) It made me wonder about other possible good movie subtitles for Transformers 2:
  • When Teamates Fall
  • Optimus Makes Good
  • Living on Love
  • Keeping The Halo X-ray Beyond All Interns
  • In My Hellish Others

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Expanded Oscars

The Oscar people are expanding the Best Picture nominees to 10 starting next year. That's twice as many as they've had for the past sixty some years. Coincidentally, that's how long the award broadcast will now last.
Does that mean that they'll follow my advice and split the award between dramas and comedies?
Mr. Ganis said that no changes had been made to other Oscar categories. He also emphasized that the nominees would not be subdivided, as with the Golden Globes, which are awarded for best drama as well as best comedy or musical. All 10 nominees will compete for one best-picture award.
Nope. Still, if this means that 'Up' can move out of the Animated category and compete with the big boys, that makes me happy. Also found this interesting from the article:
In all about 300 films were eligible for awards in 2008. Were that to hold going forward, roughly one of every 30 films would become a best-picture nominee.
That makes it sound like overkill. And it also means that if I did the movie project for the 10's I'd have to watch a full 100 movies. (Of course by that time I'd probably be toddler free and would have time to watch them again...)
I'm curious what the list will look like.

Work parade

The FP Gal brought Relia into my office today. It's my short day so they timed it to match my finish time. She walked around and said 'hi' to everyone. Well, she did the cute little toddler wave mostly. Yep, she's into the shy phase.
I'm torn about it. In some ways I wish that she was as active and funny as she is at home with us. On the other hand, I like that she wants to stay right with us. It's better than her trusting strangers too much.
We did coax some animal noises out of her. And she was very happy to see a picture of an airplane. It's one of the words that she knows well. She even pointed out a triangle in the carpet. I didn't even know that she knew triangles yet!
All very cute of course.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

'The Big Sandwich'

The only way to defeat the big sandwich is to stop, confront and eat it before it eats you.

I'm glad that Micah is blogging again!

Volcanic Eruption seen from Orbit

The ISS had a favorable viewing or the Sarychev volcanic eruption. Pretty amazing shot.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Important news

I have some sympathy for Jon, none for Kate.

Random Monday Night Stuff

It's been some time since I've done one of these:
  • This is one of the funnier things I've seen lately. I'd like to get half a dozen of these for my car. Numbers 2, 4, 7, 9, 10, 12 and 16. Especially number 10.
  • The ice cream turned out mostly ok. It froze more solidly than past batches and I blame that on the unmixed heavy cream. Still much better than any other blueberry ice cream out there.
  • I love this idea. I could contribute some concepts myself. My writing notebook is already more full than it will ever be emptied.
  • This was easily the funniest thing I saw today (via Althouse).

The univited O

Let me start this post by saying that I know I have an unusual name. Well, unusual form of a common name. (And actually that isn't as true anymore. According to this it's the 183rd most popular for boys and falling. It's less common than it has been in the past 130 years.)
Anyway, I've long thought that people with unusual names need to be forgiving of misspellings. It isn't done on purpose. So when someone calls me 'Pete' or writes my name as 'Peter' it doesn't bother me.
But I do run into a misspelling that I don't understand. People often write my name as 'Pedor'. I'm not sure where the 'o' comes from. I asked a longtime coworker about this and she told me that she has trouble not spelling it with an 'o'. And she couldn't tell me why.
My current theory is that they get so freaked out by the 'd' that they completely biff the second vowel. But that doesn't explain why it isn't an 'a' or a 'u'.
Again, I'm not bothered by this. I'm sure it's an honest mistake. I just don't understand the phenomenon...

Back to work

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Let me tell you about my day:
  • It started well with a nice long stay in bed. Then downstairs and a big hug from Relia. She really has become a top notch hugger. Just flies right at you and picks up her feet at the end. The the FP gal had her bring me a package and a card. The package featured peanut butter cups and the card was signed by both of them.
  • When Relia took her morning nap I had some breakfast and then up to read (and a brief nap of my own). Very nice and practically my favorite morning routine.
  • Then we met the FP Gal's family at Outback for lunch. Good conversation and possibly the tenderest cheeseburger I've ever eaten. Relia was especially cute and after she ate we sat next to each other and played.
  • Back home and I watched my White Sox beat the Reds 4-1. The FP Gal watched the last inning with me and that's always fun. Some people are bothered when questions are asked during a game but I kind of thrive on it.
  • More reading and then the dinner for Relia. After she was tucked into bed I made a pizza for myself. One of the best on the frozen dinner market but I won't mention it for fear that they'll discontinue.
A very nice day and I can't thank the FP Gal enough. She really went all out to make the day special. Thanks hon!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


We tried very hard to plan a vacation this summer. We had hoped on a week in Washington so I could further my plan to get the FP Gal to fall in love with a town out there so we could move. No go. Partly because of money, probably more because Relia is just not easy to travel with right now.
Instead we are going to stay around here and enjoy a little stay-cation. We did this back in 2006 and had lots of fun. We planned for something each day and had a very good time. We hope to do the same this year but we need help. That's where you come in.
1) We need advice. We're looking at things to do either in the Cities or just a day trip away from here. Keep in mind that we'll have an almost two year old with us. It'll happen over the last week of July. What should we do?
2) We could also use some volunteers for babysitters. If anyone out there wants to take Relia overnight that would help us greatly. It might let us expand to something a little further away or at least later at night. (Offer extends to family and friends only.)

Don't worry, we'll blog the whole time and take tons of pictures. In fact, I've got a silly little project that I might throw in to liven the whole time up. We'll see. Anyway, we could use some help, especially with advice.

Blueberry dreams

You may remember that my dear sister bought me an ice cream maker last year. I made two batches of banana ice cream and nothing since. (The FP Gal has made some peach slush stuff but that doesn't really figure into this story.) Lately I've gotten the idea of making some blueberry ice cream.
I looked at the recipes that came with the maker and decided to modify the one for strawberry. It called for putting the fruit in a bowl with lime juice and letting it 'macerate' for a couple of hours. I could be wrong but I think that 'macerating' is how mother birds feed their babies and it didn't sound right to me. It also sounded more complicated than I really wanted to deal with. Then the FP Gal (who really is smart about this stuff) suggested that I use blueberry pie filler. Brilliant!
So I tried that and the ice cream is setting up as we speak. To be honest, I screwed up part of it. I mixed the heavy cream with the milk and sugar. It didn't really mix well and I'm pretty sure that the consistency will be a bit wonky. The good news is that I made a half batch so I could try over tomorrow if it just won't work.
The best part? I warmed up some of the leftover filler and had it ala mode. Very, very yum.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lightning clouds

Last night we had some pretty active clouds drift by south of us around 1030p or so. Most of the flashes were within the clouds, we didn't see anything hit the ground. Light rumbles, no sharp claps. Very beautiful.

Man in the High Castle - Dick

'Castle' is an alternate history novel that takes place some fifteen years after World War II. This history diverged in the 30's as Roosevelt was assassinated and his terms were replaced by ineffective, weak and isolationist Presidents. That leads the US to be totally unwilling to help it's European allies and unprepared for Japanese attack. As a result the Axis won the war and split the US down the middle with Japan controlling the west coast and the Germans controlling the area east of the Mississippi.
The story follows half a dozen people mostly in the San Francisco area. It shows the big cultural differences between the German and Japanese conquerors and how the vanquished are reacting. The I Ching has become a part of everyday life and is widely used as a daily oracle. Also interesting is a popular novel in the book written as an alt-history in which the Allies win.
This is a very good book. It shows a highly textured and complete world. I'd call it a must for WWII buffs, especially students of the German political set up of the period. The only drawback is that it ends without real resolution.
Of interest to me is that Dick wrote the novel using the I Ching as his guide. He cast for guidance at each plot divergence and essentially let the I Ching do the writing for him. That pretty much guarantees an unpredictable plotline.
I'm also not sure that this really belongs under the 'science fiction' label. Interestingly, Dick makes an argument in the book itself that alternate histories belong there. If you read the description as 'speculative fiction' then it fits rather neatly. In the end it was voted on by people at the science fiction convention and it obviously cleared the bar in their estimation. I just don't think I would have gone that way.

Tornados in Austin

Strib story is here. Dad said that the damage seemed to be in Mapleview and along the northern edge. No serious injuries, so that's nice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Homeless Sims

Got this link via a friend from Facebook. It's an account of a pair of Sims characters that were created as homeless. The account has screenshots so you can see them and their reactions.
(For those who don't know, 'Sims' is a game where you play a simulated person. You find them a job, try to keep them happy and deal with their problems. I've heard it's very addicting.)

The 'One Too Far' Technique

I'm working on a bedtime system for nights when Relia is upset about getting changed. Usually she fights taking each article of clothes off and putting each bit of pajamas on. It's quite a struggle and tears and yelling are prominently featured.
The thing is she only fights the last development. If she can get her shirt back on she forgets that she fought hard for her pants. That leads to the 'one too far' thing.
The other night I fought for each bit of clothing off and then on. And then I told her I was taking off her socks. More unhappiness, of course. Then I relented and put the socks back on and she settled down.
I don't feel great about this but it works and it's not terribly harmful, right?

Interesting Vacation Spots.

Ten Interesting Places to See Before You Die.

I've been to two of them. And would dearly love to see the other eight.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ask and ye shall receive

A very nice heavy rain this afternoon. Chances of thunderstorms later. I can dig it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bookstore customers

(Via Althouse) Here is a list (and descriptions) of the seven basic types of bookstore customers. The list is from the manager of a bookstore in the UK (I think). If you think it reads with too much contempt, read the follow up here.
I belong to the category of 'Browser'.

Stormy weather?

The Strib had an article today that suggested cooler than average weather this summer. That will fit in with our cooler than average winter and cooler than average spring. Any guesses on what autumn will bring us?
I wouldn't mind a cooler summer. I don't care for long stretches of hot and humid. The annual debate in Minnesota has to do with which is worse, freezing winter or sweltering summer. My answer has long been that neither one is any fun to deal with. So if the average highs stay in the 70's that would be A Ok with me.
Unless the trade off is less rain. Usually the big storms start in April and we get them every week or two throughout the summer. So far we've had one thunderstorm and that one was in the middle of the night! No heavy rains either. Very disappointing.
Right now we have heavy clouds all over but nothing is happening. Something like this. We've been here before. I don't know if the urban heat island effect is nudging the storms aside or what but it's tiring.
C'mon clouds! Open up already!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dark weekend

Didn't mean to not post anything this weekend. Sorry 'bout that. Nothing really caught my fancy I guess.
The FP Gal is down in Iowa tonight with Relia. Her grandma died this week and the funeral is tomorrow. My work schedule prevented me from going with her so I had a quiet day at home to myself. Nothing exciting to report.
Hopefully I'll have something interesting to say tomorrow...

Friday, June 12, 2009


Four years ago today the FP Gal and I ambushed our collected families with a wedding. (Best version told here.) It's been a wonderful four years and I'm so happy that I met you. Relia is a nice bonus, too!
The FP Gal has posted pictures and video from the wedding (sans my singing) on her site.

(P.S. Yeah, right!)

No Cars

Have a great Friday

Thursday, June 11, 2009

'Friends' Themed Wedding

First a trivia question: of 'Friends' ten seasons, how many finales featured either a wedding or a birth? Answer later in the post.

With our recent reduction in cable and our Tivo's habit of picking sitcoms for us to watch, we've been watching an absolute ton of 'Friends' reruns. We enjoyed it during it's original run so it's not so bad. Although the value drops every season after season five and none of the six were likeable by the end. Anyway...the FP Gal and I were talking about what a 'Friends' themed wedding would be like. We figured it would have things like:
  • It would take in a partially torn down building with strings of lights everywhere.
  • The caterer would prepare chicken breasts.
  • The bride and groom would have ink drawings on their face.
  • One bridesmaid would have her dress tucked into her pantyhose and her tush hanging out.
  • One groomsman would carry a dog down the aisle.
  • The minister would be dressed as a dough boy.
  • The bride would escape out of a window.
  • There would be a large amount of lesbians.
  • During the service, the groom would say the wrong name.
  • At the reception, the maid of honor would sing 'Copacabana'.
  • The groom wouldn't be able to dance afterward because of slick shoes.
  • Neither the bride nor groom would remember it the next morning.
The trivia question answer is six.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Landscape filler

Realized that the lack of contest pictures made for a very texty week so far. So feast your eyes on this mountainscape. I'm not sure where the pic was taken but it looks a bit like Rochester.

"No Cars"

We've been outside more and more with Relia. She's walking on her own and we're trying to teach her to respect cars while we cross the street. That means looking both ways before crossing the street. (It also means holding her hands whenever she's near the street!)
The FP Gal mentioned that some kids think of looking both ways as a kind of magic spell. If they look left, right, left then cars can't be a danger. I doubted this a bit but she's a teacher and has much more experience with kids than I do.
To combat this I've taken to looking both ways and announcing "No cars," before moving on. My hope is that we would emphasize that we are watching out for cars and only when there are 'no cars' do we keep walking. Makes sense, right?
Well...now whenever we walk into the street (like when we put her into the car) she just keeps repeating, "no cars, no cars, no cars". Yep, just like a magic spell.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Work Pet Peeve

Ok, so I work at a call center, right? People call us and we help them book travel. The call comes in and a template pops up on our screen with various bits of info such as the callers name and which company they work for. Do you have the mental image?
First we verify the name and then we ask them for a phone number that we can call them at if we become disconnected. It's good to have that number but it's usually not the question that the caller expects. This is especially true if they are having an emergency or are distracted or something like that. Sometimes they start to give you a phone number, realize that it's the wrong one and then as fast as possible give you the correct one.
That means that you have to quickly backspace so many characters and then ten key your butt off to get the right number in the template. Not so easy. In fact, if you wanted to make certain someone couldn't call you back this would be the best way to do so. (Except flat refusing to give a number. Or giving a number but lying about it. Or throwing away your phone.)
It's human nature, I think. They want to correct a mistake without taking up too much time. I get that. But...c'mon people! Work with us.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Another movie list?

No, actually a call to stop movie lists. Or something like that.

In an essay modeled after Bloom's book, Schrader says academics and journalists have abdicated their role as arbiters of taste. He argues that film profs are more obsessed with analyzing the political subtext of movies, while the media churn out best-of lists defined by money and celebrity, not aesthetics.

Schrader argues that the "great middle" of film criticism - serious yet accessible film discussion - has disappeared, pushed out on one side by jargon-filled academic studies, and on the other by mass-media film reviews that are little more than consumer guides.

And so on and so forth. Just remember that if you're not appreciating camera angles and long, unbroken shots then you're doing it wrong. How dare you appreciate a story or (God forbid!) an emotional response to a film. Seriously, what's wrong with these people.
Actually, I've got a theory on that. By creating a steep set of standards and criteria, they can look down their noses at the masses. Also they can talk in their own language and seal off the common folk. Feh!
(And while we're talking criticism, how can you write an article that long with so many one sentence paragraphs? Double feh.)

Airport names

The FP Gal asked my opinion on this article:
Faced with a growing number of complaints from travelers, the Metropolitan Airports Commission is considering a $1 million proposal for new signs on the freeways approaching Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport directing drivers to "Terminal 1" (Lindbergh) or "Terminal 2" (Humphrey). The new signs would also list which airlines fly out of each terminal.
Some people are outraged by this because a) the price and b) they think people should be able to tell which airport to go to, due to the note on their itinerary if nothing else. Well, I'm in the travel business and I think it's an ok change.
For those of you who don't understand the problem, the Twin Cities has two different airport terminals. They are unconnected and right next to each other. Presumably (due to the sited complaints) travelers are getting confused and going to the wrong ones.
Apparently the price isn't just for a few signs, but also for a public awareness campaign. I don't know how necessary this is but our public officials aren't very stingy when it comes to spending money. A sign with lists of airlines that use each terminal seems to make the most sense to me. I'd think that would be enough.
I can see a need for the overall effort. When someone says to me, "Go to the Lindbergh Terminal" I have to stop and think about which one they mean. I mentally translate to 'Big terminal' and drive accordingly. Humphrey is 'the smaller one'. That must be the thought process for others as well.
What do you guys think?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Cold Weekend

We're finishing up a cool wet weekend. No complaints on the wet part. This May was the third driest in recorded Minneapolis history. We had something like .5 inches of rain for the whole thing and that's much too little.
The drizzle started yesterday morning around 10a and continued through the rest of the day. More of the same today. I like the overcast days and I'm not complaining at all. Well, I will complain about the temperature. It's been cold. Like barely over 50 degrees. And more of the same throughout the rest of the week.
All this after a cold May and April. And the long cold winter that we just had. I like temperate climates, I really do. But this is a bit much.
I wonder if July will be warm.

Another cute Relia post

While putting her to bed tonight, we read 'The Going to Bed Book' by Sandra Boynton. The book consists of different animals on an ark getting ready for bed (brushing teeth, getting on pajamas, etc.). She proudly pointed to various critters and told me what they said or what they were. (On a side note, all pigs say "ink".)
When we got to the rhino she said, "Daddy, daddy!". She was full of confidence in her pronouncement. I've long said that I have a face for radio, but not once did I think I looked like a rhino.
It could have been worse, it could have been a walrus.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

"Oh No!"

Whenever Relia finds a piece of furniture out of place, well, it's not good. She keeps saying, "Oh no! Oh no!" and tugging on us until we set it right. Most recently this has been happening if she finds the FP Gal's exercise mat in the living room floor. But any change will do.
I don't remember this bothering me when I was young. I asked both of my parents and they don't remember it either. However, my mom also told me that she almost never moved the furniture around. (Now that I think of it, the house that we lived in longest in Austin really did have an almost permanent set up. I think the living room changed shape exactly once in more than a dozen years. Can that be right?)
Anyway, it's pretty cute. Mostly.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Stranger in a Stange Land - Heinlein

If a human baby was raised by aliens, completely cut off from humanity at large what would he become? If you then introduced that same man back into the world would he be able to handle it? That's the situation that Heinlein based this book on when he got the idea to write about a Martian named Smith. He wanted to create a story where he could take an outside look at what he termed as the two biggest sacred cows we have; sex and religion. And man, does he have fun with it!
It's hard to overestimate the impact this book had back in the 60's. It became something of a counter-culture bible. It even inspired an actual church. Heinlein has openly said that he wrote the book to provoke people to ask questions.
This book features one of my favorite Heinlein characters, Jubal Harshaw. Jubal is an old man who is some combination of writer, doctor, lawyer and rebel. Several passages of 'Stranger' feature long conversations with him as he tries to explain something to Smith. One passage gets to the heart of agnosticism, another (very touching) one is in praise of Romantic sculpture.
'Stranger' is an important book and well worth reading but it's not one of my favorites. The portions that deal with sex aren't really convincing, especially since they seem to require an almost superhuman lack of jealousy. In fact, they derive from Smith's Martian upbringing, so maybe the better term is 'extra' human. In any case I'd need some convincing that mere mortals could live up to the terms.
When Heinlein originally gave the book to his publisher they had him cut it by some 60,000 words. After his death in 1988 his widow found the original version and decided to publish that one as well. I first read the edited version in my teens and picked up the longer one in the 90's. For this project I went back to the original since that was the one they rewarded. I prefer the longer one.

Where in the World scoreboard

Round eight answers:

36. Sydney Opera House, Sydney Australia
37. (Blue Mountains, Australia)
38. (Church of St George, Lalibela Ethiopia)
39. Great Sphinx, Giza Egypt
40. Twelve Apostles, Victoria Australia (I'm accepting sea stacks, since that describes the structures)

Which brings the final scores to:

Michelle 26
Hans 6
Jen 2
Carrie 2
Mom 2

Since this is the end and the score is pretty well settled, I filled in the last two answers. For the record, the church in Lalibela was featured in an Amazing Race episode a few years back. They carved it out of rock and it's fairly impressive. The Blue Mountains were a tough one and the only way I got it was by cracking the code of the contest. Almost all of these sites are Unesco World Heritage Sites. Once I figured that out, it was simply a process of looking through lists until finding a match. Michelle, I'm curious if you did the same thing...
Speaking of Michelle, congratulations on a truly impressive win! I'll have your prize together sometime in the next couple of days.
I hope everyone enjoyed this. I'm thinking of doing it again later this summer. I have loved this one each time they've done it at work. Not only do you get to see some beautiful spots, but you also get to stretch your cultural trivia mucsles. And maybe plan out some future vacations...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Relia likes to orbit (er, spin) along with these guys.

Music through the ages

I was listening to the radio last week and the announcer was wondering if teens these days enjoy music as much as he did back in the 80's. He doubted it mostly because he really loved his bands and it's hard to see how any of today's music could really measure up to that.
Mentioned it to the FP Gal and she thought that of course they love it as much as we did. Pretty much everyone thinks the music of their formative years was greatly superior. It was the soundtrack for a great time of their life after all. That's pretty much true but I don't think that we can really just assume that the teen relationship with music has stayed static or that it won't change. (Comments from you folks that actually lived through this time are welcome and appreciated.)
Consider how much has changed in the way we get music. In the 30's people got popular music from the radio. You had no control over what was played. I don't really know what how different radio stations differed in what they offered but my sense is that they were mostly similar.
This changed as record players became more widespread (50's?) and the pop star infrastructure became more powerful. People now had control over their own music and (more importantly) a format for more permanent storage. They didn't need to keep listening to whatever was popular on the radio, they could determine their own song list.
On came the 60's and music became a defining individual trait. You couldn't be part of the counter culture unless you listened to certain stuff. Or you could stick to mainstream or join the growing appreciation for jazz. Or just stick to your records from the 50's.
The 70's brought cassettes and 8-tracks to cars. Radio's dominance eroded even more. I think that more and more different formats of radio became available then too. Popular music was even more fractured. And you could still listen to 50's and 60's music without any difficulty. The 80's continued this and later in the decade a large portion of the popular stuff was openly recognized as different and called 'alternative'. The 90's saw the rise of the CD and promised people a higher sound quality and a much longer lasting format. By this time genres have fractured to such an extent that the Grammys need 400 categories to cover everything.
But things have changed even more in the 00's. Teens start to get their music directly from the computer. It's very cheap and could hardly be more convenient. Also, bands can more easily produce their own music and get their songs out to people without major label help.
Will this lead to more one hit wonders and shorter music careers? Or create more a more disposable type of music? And does the higher level of fragmentation mean that there is less for current teens to hold onto? And who knows what the future will hold? How will Relia approach music? Our hopes are that she gloms onto our tastes but we can't be certain.

Welcome back!

To my brother, now back in Germany after several months in Afghanistan. Good to have you within easy contact, bro.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


The FP Gal:

"You know, if they remade the Man With Two Brains, they should cast Alex Trebek in the Merv Griffin role."

I agree.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Missing Air France Flight

You've all probably heard about the missing AF flight today. It comes as something of a surprise as it's very unusual for a large plane to just disappear in the Atlantic. Not surprisingly, it was the talk of the office. In some past air tragedies, we've had clients from our office in the air but I don't think we did this time. The routing of Rio-Paris isn't a common one for US businesses.
Am I the only one that immediately thought of 'Lost'? Will the disappearance of a large jet over water always have that association from now on? We can only hope that some strange thing has happened and that there is some hope of survivors.
One strange (and kind of spooky) coincidence also occurred. I've got a page-a-day calendar at work based on the '1000 Places to See Before You Die' books. Today's page was about Fernando de Noronha a series of islands off of the coast of Brazil that was the starting point for the Brazilian Air Forces search patterns. (Hans, did you ever sail through there?)
This must be a terrible thing for the families of all involved. Absent the unlikely miracle where they find survivors, I hope that they can at least find enough evidence to provide closure.

Where in the World 8

Annnnd done.
See rules here before commenting.

Naked Savage!

This morning when I went into the nursery to get Relia I discovered that she had removed her nightie and diaper. She was calmly standing there, all starkers. In her hand was the nightie and she'd helpfully rolled up the diaper too. (Fortunately, the diaper was merely wet and not dirty!)
I'm hoping this is a one time deal and not the start of a trend...