Thursday, July 30, 2009

Staycation update

Ok, so I meant to blog about what we did every day this week. I might have even said I was going to (though I'm not going to go back and look). Man, did I fall down on that intention. I'm going to blame it on overall relaxedness. For those that are interested here is the quick update.

Monday - We drove out to Willernie to visit my great aunt Liz and mom's cousin Pat (first cousin once removed?). Willernie is a charming little village up near (on?) White Bear Lake. The FP Gal took pictures posted here. The highlight was the tour on the 'Patty Wagon' where we learned the history of the place. We saw the house that Ma Barker and her boys summered at and a house that Dillenger might have stayed at. Pat made adorable box lunches for us and we ate outside on her patio. It was a very nice day.

Tuesday - A very calm day. I took Relia to a park in the morning. The FP Gal called while we were out and asked me to pick up some margarita salt for her 'teacher's meeting'. That afternoon she hosted her teaching team while I sheltered up on the third floor. Both of us felt like we got the best part of the deal.

Wednesday - Relia spent the day with the FP Gal's folks. We drove over to St Paul and walked through a wealthy neighborhood. This is our hobby. We discuss the design and marvel at the gorgeous homes. Lunch was at the Purple Onion, the restaurant that introduced me to chipotle mayo. Some light shopping and then home for naps.

Thursday - Today we took Relia over to the Children's Museum. A very nice place with one signifcant drawback. One of the rooms featured a dozen drums on the floor. A mob of children beat them continuously. I went from zero to headache in about two minutes. Distance from the room helped. The place is pretty impressive. We bought season passes so we can go back and explore at our leisure.

Tomorrow we're going to get rid of Relia for a few days. We'll keep you updated.

"Night, Night Beard"

Tonight I was putting Relia to bed. Our final book before lights out is 'Goodnight Moon'. While I was reading it she suddenly reached out and touched my chin and said, "Daddy beard". Then she touched her own chin and said, "Relia beard, all gone".

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Best Movie Drama of the 00's?

I've done some questioning on what are the defining movies of this decade. No really satisfying answers but I've run across someone else's stab at the question. The Sports Guy (a very talented ESPN writer) has a poll going. Here is his list, with my comments:
  • Almost Famous (2000) - Haven't seen it. Heard good stuff.
  • Brokeback Mountain (2005) - I liked it but it gets an enormous bounce for it's preferred cultural message. Maybe defines something about our society's feelings towards gay men but is overrated as a stand alone movie.
  • Cast Away (2000) - Loved it (except for the end part with Helen Hunt). Great acting and interesting story. Very watchable whenever I run across it on cable.
  • The Dark Knight (2008) - Very good but suffered a bit on the second viewing. Would have been great if it was about a half hour shorter.
  • The Departed (2006) - Dreadful movie. Incredibly disappointing. Cartoonishly profane and Jack Nicholson is simply embarrassing.
  • Gladiator (2000) - Liked it when it came out. Haven't watched it in at least five years. Certainly doesn't trip off of my lips as a 'defining' movie.
  • Lord of the Rings (2001) - Taken as a triology, it's the the most obvious of the defining films. If pressed, this would be my answer.
  • No Country for Old Men (2007) - Very strong elements but I hated (hated) the ending. I certainly wouldn't vote for this.
Looking through the list of Oscar nominated films I'd add 'Moulin Rouge', 'Million Dollar Baby' and 'Slumdog Millionaire' as possible answers. On second thought, this was really the Pixar decade and that should be reflected here. But they aren't really dramas, are they?
What else should be discussed? 'Blackhawk Down', maybe? I loved 'The Prestige'. What about 'The Passion of the Christ'? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Do me a Favre, Just Stay Retired

Multiple sources (including my mother, strangely enough) are reporting that Favre will stay retired and not sign with the Vikings. Since I didn't want him to come here I should be relived, right? Well...not really.
It has long been believed that part of the reason Favre was dragging this out because he didn't want to attend offseason practices and camps. The belief was that he'd sign right before training camp and finally join the team. What if today's announcement is just a way to trim off the Mankato portion of preseason? The Vikings first game is on Sep 13. If he signed during the last week of August he could probably be up to speed and able to play that game.
Or even later. The Vikings host the Packers at the Dome on Oct 5. What's the deadline for him signing and playing in that game? Four weeks later they play in Green Bay. He could easily be a mid-season replacement QB.
This isn't over. Not with any certainty at least.


Michael Vick's name has also been floated around as a Viking pick up. A few years back I said that I would not cheer for the Vikes if they signed him. I still feel that way. I'm not much of a dog lover but that level of cruelty is too much.
I listened to some sports talk last week where they asked callers if Vick should be reinstated. The overwhelming feeling was that he paid his debt and should be given a second chance. They compared other football players who had driven drunk, including Donte Stalworth who did so and killed a man in March. I think their missing something here.
Drunk drivers make stupid decisions. Stupid, but not malicious. Setting up a dog fighting ring and killing the dogs personally shows a dedication to malice and evil. Obviously drunk driving is a more serious problem and taking a human life is worse than killing a dog. But there is a difference between 'stupid' and 'evil'. Michael Vick has fallen into the second category.
Can he redeem himself somehow? Probably. But it will take years and years before we can actually trust that he's a changed man. Let him do it for some other team. I don't want him here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Random Sesame Street thoughts

Relia's TV watching has brought lots and lots of Sesame Street back into my life. Thoughts?
  • They've done a good job of mixing old clips with new. In fact, now that I think of it I think that the only new stuff is the loose storyline that each episode features. The smaller clips all seem to be the classic stuff.
  • Speaking of the smaller stuff, the FP Gal could rattle off about ten of the old letter songs. I liked this one the best.
  • My favorite new character? A little lamb named Ovejita that hangs out with a muppet named Murray (clip here). She's perky and fun and has a great laugh. We can't find a doll of her but we'll give it time.
  • The smartest Sesame Street character hands down? Oscar. Not even a contest. I'm not sure what that means in the big picture but I find it interesting.
  • I can see why Elmo bugs the FP Gal. One of the endearing qualities of Sesame Street is that there is plenty for adults to enjoy while the younglings watch. Not so with the small red guy. He is insipid, cloying and laughs too much. Also, his segment always features a song that consists of one word, repeatedly sung to the tune of 'Jingle Bells'. Ugh.
  • And he's also Relia's favorite, so don't tell her that I wrote this.
All in all, it's a quality show and I'm glad that it's on for her. I think it might even be helping her recognize letters and numbers. That's still a work in progress, of course. Tonight she kept counting, "One, two, five". (No! Three, sir!) There's still time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Day at the Races

Today we kicked off our staycation with a trip to the horses. The FP Gal and I had been there before but it was the summer before Relia and life was different then. We were a little worried that she wouldn't have fun. Fortunately, my Dad was there too.
The format (for those who have never been) involves a new race every half hour or so. Everyone gets a scorecard that lists the horses for each race. You also get info on the jockeys and an estimate on the odds. Of course the odds change as the bets go in so you have to pay a little attention.
Or you can go the other way and just make wild guesses. Which is kind of what we did. But the game plan involved a small amount of money that we were willing to lose so no harm done.
Dad took Relia down to the paddock between races so they could see the horses up close. During the races she would cheer when the horses went by. And she charmed the heck out of everyone around us.
Today had perfect weather (in fact, the cooler temps for this summer have led to lots of 'perfect' days). We were outside, sitting in the shade and really enjoying ourselves. I hope the rest of our staycation is this nice.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Late night with Relia!

The FP Gal mentioned that we had a lovely evening tonight (I paid her to use the word 'wonderful'). Her post ended the time-line too early though. Relia decided that she would like to get back up and calmly banged on her door until the FP Gal went up to lay with her.
Then she decided that she just wasn't going to sleep until we let her come down with us. That meant turning the TV from the CBS's grisly murder show and watching some Sesame St (God bless Tivo!). We watched an episode that includes this gorgeous duet between Aaron Neville and Ernie. I'm not a big Aaron Neville fan but I really like singing high tenor again.
Then back to bed and some reading. This mirror book has become a favorite. She usually likes to bug her eyes out and stick out her tongue, like the book encourages. Not tonight. Finally we had a standoff that was only broken when I changed her diaper and found a different pair of pants for her to wear. Only then would she consent to more reading. After three books she fell asleep on my shoulder. Hopefully for the night.
Not quite the wild Saturday night that we had planned but these things happen to parents, right?

Thursday, July 23, 2009


(This post is in honor of Mark Buehrle's perfect game today.)

Tonight we were on the porch with Relia. You might remember her White Sox bat from this video. The FP Gal asked her to find the accompanying ball so we could show her how to use it. Let's just say that she's not quite ready for the Bigs yet.
She started off with the ball on the floor. She carefully lifted the bat over her head and proceeded to pound the ball Bam-Bam style. The bat is foam with some kind of solid core. We stopped her before she figured out some way to dent something.
Then she gave me the bat and we encouraged her to throw it so I could hit (well, bunt). If the FP Gal threw the ball we were fine. But Relia doesn't have the hang of pitching yet. She'd say "Ready," and then run up to me and spike the ball at my midsection. Again, she's not ready for the Bigs.
Also of note, the FP Gal is a good bunter too. On another note, we probably shouldn't be teaching her how to swing a bat just yet...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Star Trek as Love Boat

Hee hee! Found at Bully's (of course).

Weirdly, this really makes me miss cruising...


They renamed the Sears Tower?
Although Sears' naming rights expired in 2003, the building continued to be called Sears Tower for several more years. However, in March 2009 London-based insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., agreed to lease a large portion of the building and as part of the agreement obtained the building's naming rights. On July 16, 2009, at 10:00 am, the building was officially renamed Willis Tower.
I hope that the good people of Chicago have the sense to simply ignore this.

Today I want...

  • No canceled flights and stranded travelers.
  • Smooth communication between our systems and the airlines. (I'm looking at you, Porter.)
  • To avoid flighty admins.
  • No serious system problems on our side. Or problems so severe that they just knock us out.
  • A day that feels short and productive.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

April in Paris

Since I have Paris on my mind now...

Taxis in Paris

(I recently told this story at work and realized that I'd never blogged about it.)

A few years ago I won a trip to Paris through my work. The trip was incredible and far too brief. I'd always heard that the people in Paris are rude but that wasn't my experience. No one laughed at my high school French. Or my American fashion sense. Or my Fearful Traveler Document pack that I wore everywhere and was afraid to leave in the hotel room.
They were all very nice but one guy really took the gateau. A group of us were at one of the sponsoring hotels for dinner. We split up and made our way back to our own hotel so we could get ready to go out for the night. I was with one other lady. After a quick search, we couldn't find a Metro station nearby. So we decided to take a cab.
Paris has little taxi stands placed here and there. The cabs queue up and take their fares hither and yon. We found a stand and climbed in. I tried out my French and asked the driver to go to our hotel, near the Eiffel tower. He seemed uncertain but gamely made his way toward that part of the city. Halfway there we realized that this wasn't a taxi.
That's right! This guy pulled over to the curb and two crazy Americans climbed into the back of his car. We apologized and apologized but he didn't seem too upset. He tried to refuse payment but we forced the money on him. No harm done.
I think about this from time to time. What if I was driving downtown and a German couple with limited English skills climbed into the back seat of my car and asked to be taken somewhere? I'd have to take them, wouldn't I?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cool Moon Stuff

Firstly, I've been loving all of the attention that the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. I remember back in '99 when the 30th anniversary was overshadowed by MTV's Woodstock re-creation mud-bog. This time it seems to be a bigger deal.
Secondly, I've been watching DVD's of the 'From the Earth to the Moon' series (thanks Hans!). It's outstanding. The series details episodes of the Apollo program. Tom Hanks and Ron Howard produced it and pretty much every actor in it is recognizable.
Thirdly, this is a diagram that shows the walkabout map from Apollo 11 superimposed over a baseball diamond. They didn't stray far from the module.
Fourth, here are some recent pictures of the Apollo sites taken from a lunar probe. I think that's very cool.
And lastly, here is some fun video of Buzz Aldrin (if that is your real name) conversing with a skeptic. Nice right jab!

Back to work...

Happy Neilsday!


We're almost at the two year mark and Relia's language skills grow by leaps and bounds. Everyday three are new words and phrases. It's like she's listening to us and learning or something. Recent phrases include:
  • Where are you?
  • It's yucky.
  • Dancing car outside! (This one is for the ice cream truck.)
  • Is that really the square root or are you just making that up? (Mumbled, but you can still tell that's what she's saying.)
She has also become very involved in what clothes she will wear. Most mornings we find her with a shirt wrapped around her waist as she tried to change outfits. Sometimes the clothes are too warm or too cold but her color sense is about on par with mine. (We're hoping it improves.) If we make the mistake of picking out the wrong pants she lets us know. Boy howdy, she lets us know! Occasionally we have to force pants on her but we usually let her win.

The learning continues...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stabby's Cafe

Last week I mentioned a new place in our area called 'Stabby's Cafe'. A little googling led me to their website. It turns out that the owner is a man named Mike Staab and the name is probably derived from an obvious nickname. Also, their menu looked pretty good.
This morning we joined the FP Gal's folks there for breakfast. I ordered two of the 'Banana Blue' pancakes. They were some of the tastiest blueberry pancakes I've ever had. Their was just a hint of banana and it was kind of overwhelmed. Each pancake was the size of a dinner plate. I ate mine without butter or syrup. Relia shared with me and seemed very happy with it.
So that development wasn't nearly as ominous as it seemed. Instead it was quite tasty.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - 2009

We went to a morning show today (ain't they great!) and saw the latest Harry Potter movie. It was interesting in at least one way; neither of us remembered much of this particular book. I remembered the ending only, she thought it was the last one of the series. In our defense, we both read the final book just weeks before Relia came into our life and we've been busy since then. The bonus to this is that we didn't have a single complaint in how the movie compares to the book and can just judge it as a movie.
It was a fine movie, though nothing breathtaking. The plot was easy enough to follow. Characters that we didn't recognize were easy enough to categorize as good or bad. The story moves along although the movie is more than two and a half hours long. Much of it focuses on teen relationships and those parts worked well. Who is the 'half blood prince'? That's a bit of a mystery and the answer is...not important or explained.
Favorite part? Jim Broadbent plays a visiting professor and I loved him. This series has done a wonderful job of casting great British actors:

(Introduced in...)
Sorcerer's Stone - Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith
Chamber of Secrets - Kenneth Branagh
Prisoner of Azkaban - Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman
Goblet of Fire - Ralph Fiennes, David Tennant
Order of the Phoenix - Helena Bonham Carter
Half Blood Prince - Jim Broadbent

That means that 'Deathly Hallows' should somehow include Patrick Stewart and Dame Judi Dench. Other useless trivia? If you wanted to watch all six movies it would take you fifteen hours and two minutes.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

No New Posting

I'm a little under the weather tonight. Not sure what's going on but I'm sure it's nothing serious. I also thought about not posting in protest of the weather. Today we 'enjoyed' gale force winds and it's really pretty cold outside. Overnight lows are expected to be in the low 50's. 51 degrees is the current record low (fingers crossed!).
If I had posted something it probably would have been about our trip to the MOA this morning. The FP Gal tried out the Aquamassage store. Relia and I gave her a gift certificate for Mother's day. Apparently Relia had second thoughts because she freaked out when the FP Gal took off her shoes and climbed into the tube. It took me five minutes to convince her that she was just going 'night-night' and that the 'water, water' was helpful. We finally left the store in peace and found the toy section at Marshall's. How, in the name of Stan Lee did this happen?
Then a quick stop at Target for various stuff. This included getting panties for Relia. Yes, the potty training days are upon us. While there she wandered over to the bra aisle. Holy cats! I'm not even a little bit prepared for my daughter to wear bras.

Anyway, I'm sorry about the lack of a new post.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TV Blessings?

Having a toddler means watching unbelievable changes. Or at least changes at an unbelievable pace. Every day Relia has better diction, more subtle opinions and a better vocabulary. The last week or so has been jet fueled and I think Sesame Street is to credit.
We put it on the Tivo list and it's quickly become a favorite. She's picking up more on letters and numbers and colors. Soon she'll have a working knowledge of traveler Spanish.
And of course Elmo. Or as she says, "Elmo dance?". That's actually what she calls Sesame Street. The FP Gal can't stand the little red guy and I'm about a week away from joining her but he is Relia's favorite.
Her other new favorite is a DVD called 'Baby Dance'. The FP Gal caught some video of her dancing to it earlier. It's absolutely adorable.
She's just growing up so fast!

World's Largest Map

Last year I searched around for the world's largest map. Well, here's a new entry into the category.
When this 130 by 166 foot plot of polished terrazzo tiling was inaugurated at New York’s 1964 World’s Fair, it was the largest map in the world. A facsimile extrapolation of a New York State road map by Rand McNally, the half-acre-sized piece of cartography today would still be the world’s largest map - if it had actually survived. But decades of human neglect and hard work by the elements have left their mark on the plywood tiles.
Kind of a sad story actually. I love the idea of it. Wouldn't a huge map of Minnesota be a hit at the State Fair?

All Star Break

If I was commish (and wouldn't that be great!) the All Star Break would be different. Last night would have featured the NL All Star Game in Chicago at Wrigley Park. Tonight would be the AL All Star Game in Kansas City. Tomorrow would be the home run derby in St Louis and the winners of the first two games would play on Thursday.
Then on Friday we'd be back to playing regular games, everyday, like the gods of baseball intended.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Favre, this week or next week?

Interesting speculation from the Strib about when Favre will finally sign with the Vikings. I fell into the dangerous trap of trying to predict Favre's movements. Never again.
(Well, one more time. Put me down for August 1.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ominous Developments

Not too far from our house there was a place called the 'Paradise Bakery'. It has now become 'Stabby's Cafe'.

The Wanderer - Leiber

This is a pretty basic disaster story with some interesting future physics. In short, a planet has materialized near the Earth. It's gravity has greatly influenced the moon and caused higher and higher tides in our world. The book deals with the ongoing disaster and what caused the planet to appear.
It's not a very strong book. It starts off by following too many narrative threads. It's hard to remember what is happening to which people. Kind of a shame too, as there are hints at some very interesting stories that really kind of fizzle. The other problem with the big cast is that it's very hard to care about any of them.
The last fifty pages or so is easily the best part of the book. The cast is down to a manageable size and you finally get some answers. (Spoiler alert: Of interest to me is another planet covered in metal so it looks armored. It fires a blast with 'the power of a million suns'. I don't know if this influenced George Lucas or not but that is where my mind went.)
I can't really recommend this one. I like disaster novels and there are much better ones out there. 'The Wanderer' won the award in 1965. 'Lucifer's Hammer' was up for a Hugo in 1978 and does a much, much better job of the disaster stuff. 'Wanderer' may have influenced it but that only makes it a case of a giant standing on the shoulders of a midget.

Airport renaming

A few weeks back I mentioned that there was talk of adjusting the names of the airports in these parts. They have now voted to go ahead with it. The price tag is a mere $2.2 million.
According to the report on the Strib, some 20,000 people a year will be helped by this. That's nearly 55 people per day. And I think that number is fishy. I work with people that are former airline agents who have worked at the airports and they don't trust this number either. There may be that many that are confused but if we're talking about shelling out money to make it easier we should only count people that have missed flights because of the confusion. I'd also except people that are charged parking.
Two things bug me about this. The first is that there really is a simple confusion. We have a fancy light rail system that goes between the two airports. Perhaps we could allow free service for confused travelers. The train is going to go anyway, this won't increase costs.
The second thing is that this isn't a pressing problem. We should fix it when we aren't trying to figure out some way to balance government budgets on every level. In pol speak, we're choosing confused travelers over children and needy families. How about a little restraint?
I'm sure the signs out there are due for replacement at some point in the future. Let's try the light rail solution until then and take a fresh look when needed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hanging out on the porch

Ozzie was not amused by the picture taking.

The FP Gal told Relia to put her feet up and this was the result.


Friday, July 10, 2009


Yesterday Relia and I decided to give the FP Gal a break so we drove down to Austin to see my dad. I drove on the way down; for the last half of the trip she sat in back and complained about my driving (at least I think that's what she yelled about).
When we got down there we met Dad at a private home where they sell cats. He adopted (bought, but ownership probably goes the other way, right?) one but we got to roam around and meet the rest. Relia has learned to stick out a finger so that the kitties can sniff it. Then she laughs. Every time we walked through the kitchen she'd look at me and say, "cookie?" but I told her not yet.
Then to dad's house with the kitty. While he set up the new cat stuff Relia wandered around a bit. Again she asked, "cookie?" and was rewarded with fig newtons. We discovered that she doesn't associate stuffed woolly mammoths with elephants. The new kitty (Missy) went into hiding.
Lunch at the Holiday Inn was buffet style with my Aunt Donna and Uncle David. Relia loved the carrots, ate some of the corn and turned her nose up at the cocktail wieners. Dad shared some ice cream with her, surprising her by mixing in a spoonful of corn when she didn't expect it. Priceless face.
Then out to the Nature Center to see how damaged it was by the storm. Some branches down and a few trees but no real bare patches. Relia said, "tree broken". It was a very pleasant walk. The Nature Center is a real jewel and I sometimes miss it. We went into the visitor center but the lady there said that the exhibits were closed. She said that the day before they had suffered a 'moth larvae outbreak'. Please note that those three words will get me to exit any building quickly.
Back to dad's to check diaperage and get ready for the road. Again, "cookie?" and she was rewarded. Then out to Geneva to a friend of dad's to pick up some children's books. I mentioned that Relia wasn't napping yet but that I could use one. I was offered a coke and then dad said that Relia had a question to ask our host. "Cookie?"
Yes, Relia has officialy unlocked the key to getting cookies. Look cute, make your eyes all big and whenever you're in somebody's home just ask away.

Have a great Friday

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Online dating/Book clubbing

I've just found out that Borders (at least the UK version) is starting a dating service. The post that mentioned it is here. The author argues against it for what I judge to be snobbishly bookish reasons. For instance he worries that successful couples would duplicate libraries and that type of thing. I disagree (and I'll get to that in a moment) but I love the end of his post:
I don't know if Borders will actually be making recommendations for dates in the same way as they recommend books, but it would be priceless if members got regular email updates: "Did you enjoy, Mark, 34, of Swindon? Then you should try Gareth, 36, of Slough." Or: "After dating Sally of Birmingham, 86 per cent of customers go on to date Jayne of Devizes."
This is a terrific idea and if I still worked at B&N I'd pass it on to them. Book lovers don't always mix well with book ignorers. We like to discuss what we read. We like to be challenged by our interpretation. Most of all we like to share the wonderful experiences that we've had. When I'm reading a great book I often start thinking about who I should recommend it to.
That doesn't mean that any two book lovers will be compatible either. Fantasy doesn't always mix well with non-fiction and chick lit doesn't mix well with sports autobiographies. But a book club setting lets you sort and sift and find out what combos work.
Maybe most importantly, book discussion lets you find out more about the other person than an online profile ever will. What characters do they find sympathetic and who got just what they deserved? What themes appealed to them? What situations did they find totally unrealistic or unconvincing? What values are important to them? You can find out all of these things over a short period of time in a book club.
Frankly, it's a great idea.

Overheard at our house

From the TV:
"Hi Evlybody!"
"Hi, Dr Nick!"

From me: "Hi Evlybody!"
Relia: "Hi Relia!"

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Paris at 140 mph

From a Slate article about which stunts impress other stuntmen comes this bit of video from 1978:
A 1978 short film by New Wave director Claude Lelouch* may be the most thrilling single piece of driving ever filmed. The director, who had no permits to film or to stop traffic, hooked a camera to the front bumper of a Mercedes-Benz (in the only bit of film trickery, the sound of the motor was played by a five-speed Ferrari) and filmed the entire movie in a single cinema-verité take: He drove through the streets of Paris at five in the morning, through red lights, around the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs-Élysées, against one-way traffic, over sidewalks, at speeds up to 140 miles per hour.
You'll never guess which brother of mine I thought of while reading that description.

(And I think 140 mph is 7 terrameters but I could have that wrong.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Comics Oughta Be Fun!

I stopped collecting comic books around '90 (though I have invested some time in recollecting since then). A few weeks ago I found that there is an entire genre of comic book blogs. Well of course there is. There are blogs about everything.
Anyway, my new favorite is site hosted by a little stuffed bull named Bully. The common theme is that 'comics oughta be fun'! Very funny and clever stuff. I've been working my way back through the archives. Here was the post I laughed and laughed about tonight. If you were ever a comic book fan you should definitely give it a look.

Back to work

Sunday, July 05, 2009

An Ideal Moment

There was a moment this afternoon...

The clouds were big and puffy and the sky was just the right color of blue.
The air was hot, but in the shade of the big umbrella it wasn't overwhelming.
There was a small white butterfly flapping prettily in the corner of the garden. (It was nice enough to stay there.)
Relia was splashing with her beach ball. It would get away from her and fall on the lawn. She'd try and stretch for it without tipping over the side. Always successful.
Not much reading, maybe three pages in all, but the thought was nice.

It was all very nice.

Hugo award project

Now that I've read the first dozen or so Hugo awarded novels I've got some ideas about how I want to present the project.
  • Back when I did the Oscar project I blogged about each movie seperately and then did a summary post for each year. That doesn't quite work here since I'm only reading each year's winner. But...I miss those posts. So I'm going to section the books into short periods and sum them up anyway.
  • I'm also going to start including a note on the end of each post saying which book is coming up next.
  • If you've been reading the sidebar which tells you what I'm reading (whenever it's updated) you may have noticed that I jumped the gun and read a few more recent award winners. What can I say? I couldn't count on finding them used so I'd have to buy new anyway. The reviews will still appear chronologically.
  • I know that these reviews don't get a lot of comments but I hope you are enjoying them. I am and in the end that's all that is important. But I still hope there is more than just self value.

Castles from around the World

Pictures found here. I think my favorite is Loreto. I also like Chateau de Chillon and Matsumoto.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


About a week ago we finally had a small amount of thunder while Relia was awake. She was sitting in her high chair (which is quickly dropping out of her life) and we heard a low distant rumble. She looked at me and I asked her what it was. She looked thoughtful for a moment and said, "Trucks".

We talked about introducing her to fireworks this year. I love to go to a good firework show and we have some good options in our neck of the woods. We talked about whether or not she's old enough to handle them or not. Then the FP Gal pointed out that they won't start until 10p and that's well past her bedtime. That meant we could a) keep her up late b) wake her back up or c) wait until next year. Obviously the right answer is c.
But the neighborhood fireworks start much earlier than 10p. We just had our first loud one of the day at 330p. She looked a little startled but didn't cry or anything. We asked her what it was and again she said, "trucks'.

Happy Independence Day

I hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Cascade Volcanoes

I talked with my Mom yesterday. She few out to Seattle earlier this week and lucky to have clear skies as she flew in. She could see north from the plane and got a good view of Mt Baker (located right outside of beautiful Bellingham, WA). We talked about some of the volcanoes of the range and she wanted some kind of map so she could place it all in context. To the right is the image I stole from Wikipedia.
Mount St Helens is the newsmaker of course, but several others are still active. Mt Baker still steams away but they don't think that it's near eruption. None of the range seem in immeadiate danger of a catastrophic blow up, but it's hard to tell. The St Helens eruption took place only two months after the first shocks were felt.
Mt Ranier will always have a special place in my heart, of course. It's a big reason that I fell in love with the region. Paradise Inn (the highest drivable point of the mountain, I think) is open again after a renovation and someday I'd love to stay there for a night or two.

Have a great Friday

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Way Station - Simak

Enoch Wallace has a strange job. He is the keeper of a galactic Way Station located near La Crosse, WI. He was offered the job shortly after he fought in the Civil War and has not noticeably aged in the 80 some years that have passed. His neighbors think of him as something of an oddity but the local culture is very private. The book opens as someone in the federal government has noticed him as an oddity. They have him under surveillance but they are keeping something of a distance.
Enoch loves his job and he has worked very hard over the decades to understand extraterrestrial cultures, science and math. He has even made friends with some of the aliens that have passed through his station. Frankly, I kind of envy his job.
There is a crisis of course, as all plots depend on conflict to drive them. This was the weakest part of the book. It seemed like Simak thought up an interesting situation and then shoehorned a problem into the story to make it go somewhere. In other words, it was good and interesting but not great.
This was easily the hardest book of the Hugo project to get my hands on so far. I had to find it in the library system. The copy I had was part of a special limited reprinting. There were five copies in the Hennepin county system but none at the used bookstores or (cheaply) online. Amazon wanted more than $40 for a used copy. (I don't know what that has to do with anything but I found it interesting.)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

Yes, this is my second Michael Jackson video in less than a week. Sorry about that.
I've had fragments of this song going through my head since sometime Saturday. The 'mama see mama sa' part near the end of course. This is from the time before the weirdness.

Strange days

A combination of my front-loaded work schedule, the FP Gal being home for the summer and this fine sleeping weather has meant that I haven't seen Relia in about 48 hours.

I'm told she's still ok.