Monday, November 30, 2009

My Turn

Yep, the sickness fairy is visiting me now. The FP Gal is a little bit fearful that she'll feel the power of a fully operational bug too. Relia has been very sympathetic, which is wonderful.
Hopeful for a better night...

Sunday, November 29, 2009


We've had some trouble over the past couple of days getting Relia a nap at the right time. Some of this has been sickness and some of it family scheduling. In any case, she's been off the right time. That has meant tough bedtimes.
We went grocery shopping late this morning and Relia fell asleep during the ten minute car ride. The FP Gal told me that she fell asleep while she was running errands a little bit after that. So we expected that she'd go down easily for a nap this afternoon.
Not even a little bit. Screams of bloody murder and pounding on the door. So we decided to let her just stay up and fight with me about watching football. We got the TV viewing figured out but it became clear that she was fighting tiredness.
After dinner she bounced back and forth between us in her usual fashion. She wanted graham crackers and medicine (child vitamin). Then she climbed up on me and settled down. She rested her head and a minute later she didn't respond to any of my questions. The poor thing was out.
I don't remember the last time she fell asleep on me on the couch. I don't think she has since she started walking. It was very sweet.

(Don't know if it was worth the fighting this afternoon...)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NaNoWriMo, well, no...

Nope, it didn't happen this year. I got to about 13,000 words before giving up. Just had too much trouble finding a rhythm and routine. Or a story that I liked. And a healthy enough patch early in the month. Let's just say that there were too many obstacles.
I feel kind of bad about this. I'm now 3 for 4, which isn't too bad. But once you break the string on something like this it's much harder to jump back on the horse and actually finish. I'm sure that next year, with an additional child will be easier somehow. Ha!
There are a few other ideas kicking around in my head. Maybe something else to kind of make up for this...

Thanksgiving, part 2

Today we had Thanksgiving dinner with the FP Gal's family. That meant that my lovely wife left our house at around 8a to help prepare the afternoon meal. Relia and I dealt with her absence with aplomb. I tried to get her a late morning nap as dinner was scheduled for the exact time of her usual afternoon one. Limited success.
The meal was very good. Due to continued overcoming of colds on Thursday, it was our first actual sit down Thanksgiving style dinner. During the planning process, the FP Gal and I requested extra stuffing. It's our favorite. Relia's favorite (without question) was the cranberries. She had to be bribed with it to eat other foods.
Now we're both stuffed. Relia still has room for cheese and crackers, of course. The ladies are sitting drowsily on the couch watching 'Toy Story' and barely staying awake. Life is good.

Another Pixar Question

Years from now when my children are older and stumble upon an episode of cheers, who will they associate with Cliff the mailman?

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I'm thankful for (the obvious stuff)...
  • My wonderful wife and child(ren)
  • The rest of my family. I wish I could spend more time with you.
  • My circle of friends.
  • The new technologies that make keeping in touch with all of the above easier.
  • House, job, health and all of the other things that I take for granted on a day by day basis.
Also thankful for
  • Cheap second-hand books.
  • Easy access to movies.
  • Football and baseball for nearly the whole calendar year.
  • The patience of my wife who is understanding about the above point.
  • My daughter's sense of humor and growing vocabulary.
  • Bedtime.
  • Yummy cheeseburgers.
  • Two lovely kitties.
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We're Feeling Better

Just an update from last night's post. Illness seems to have passed quickly and we're on the way!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sick baby

Nothing too serious, just some throwing up. Still, it might cause us to cancel our trip to Austin tomorrow. Which would be a huge bummer.
There is a particular helplessness to having a sick child. She really can't communicate what's wrong. Just kind of holds her stomach and puts her hand near her mouth. If I remember my childhood, she's probably scared too. Poor thing.
We're hoping it's nice and short term. That would be very nice.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Monday Picture

Flin Flon

Anyone have any idea what Flin Flon is? Is it...
  • the most popular candy in Spain?
  • the next hot wedding dress style?
  • a hero to children everywhere who teaches teamwork and politeness?
  • an obscure Chinese martial art whose time has finally come?
Actually no, it's none of those things. Flin Flon is a small Canadian town on the border between Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I mention this only because I ticketed some travel to there today. When I first saw the reservation, airport code YFO, I wondered if it was some weird joke destination. (True story, a few years back I ran across an airline created Test City code, FSG. For just a moment it felt like I could see the Matrix.)
And who, you may ask, flies to Flin Flon? Who else, Calm Air. Isn't that a peaceful airline name? (Much better than Fiery Plummet Air.) Speaking of airlines, there really is only one good choice for first time fliers. And speaking of small Canadian airlines with fun names, I've been told at work that I can't call Bearskin Airlines and ask if they have clothing optional flights.

(I'm not sure what the point of this post was. I had one when it started but . . . I seem to have lost it somehow. Anyway, you learned a new town name, isn't that exciting?)


Relia: "Triangle, triangle, little star. I . . . wonder what you are. Triangle, triangle, little star."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vikes 9-1

Back in September, I didn't know what to expect from the Vikings. I thought that Favre's bad karma would probably sink the team. Shows what I know, right? They have been very good, at times a great team.
The improvement has been mainly from the offense, especially the quarterbacking. This is a team that is very good at both running and throwing the ball. If they have a weakness, it's in run blocking. But they also have the best 1-2 running combo in the league with Peterson and Taylor. Neither back needs a gaping hole to run through. In fact, their biggest plays have been on cutbacks after what would have been a short loss.
The defense hasn't been as stout as it was the past couple of years. This year's team has an incredible pass rush and (without Winfield at least) average pass defense. The run stopping hasn't been quite as reliable but it's still good.
Of note, this year's special teams is wildly better than last years. They've enjoyed one of the better turn arounds in NFL history. Getting healthy and adding Harvin have helped tremendously.
Here's the fun part, the team is good enough that we can start talking about playoff position. The current NFC standings:

New Orleans 10-0
Minnesota 9-1
Dallas 7-3
Arizona 7-3 (barring a 4th quarter collapse today)

And a bunch of teams at 6-4. This means that the Vikes are in great shape to claim one of the top two spots in the conference, get a first round bye and host a game. If they make it to the NFC championship game it will almost certainly be in a dome, either in New Orleans or at home. This team is almost certainly better indoors than out so that's pretty big.
The Vikings could hardly have scripted this season any better. Let's hope that the ending is as good as the beginning.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pirate Radio - 2009

Back in the 60's the British government did not play rock and roll on the radio. The state controlled BBC didn't want it, so it didn't happen. This was, of course, a high moment in British rock with the Beatles, Stones, Who and many others making new music. Pirate radio stations sprang up, broadcasting from off the coast. The movie suggests that half of the British populace tuned in on a regular basis. All of this is based on true history.
The movie focuses on one particular station called simply enough Radio Rock. On it we meet a crazy group of DJs and radio folk. This is a fun ensemble and the movie does well by them. We get to know their quirks and personalities as they face challenges from the state and fend off boredom.
In many ways, this is a pitch perfect movie. The cast is great, the music is well done and the story is very good. The FP Gal told me that she already wants the soundtrack. In fact, I only had one problem with it:

An open letter to Kenneth Branagh
I loved your work back in the 90's. Not just the Shakespeare, which was wonderful, but also 'Dead Again' and that Frankenstein movie. Great, great stuff. You're an incredible actor. So stop screwing around with these awful villain roles that you've been playing for the last decade. Yes, the bad guy can be fun and I don't begrudge any actor the chance to play something tasty. But you aren't even playing memorable stuff. Just a bunch of bureaucratic jerks. Stop, just stop. Play something challenging. Maybe even something likable. And soon, please. Turn it around soon.

More Birthday

Should probably put a post up for my birthday too. Last night, the FP Gal gave me an Ipod and I've been trying to get up to speed with it today. I've wanted one for a few years at least so it's much appreciated!
Today we dropped Relia off at my Mom's place (thanks Mom!). The rest of the day was spent buying U2 tickets, picking up bed stuff and (believe it or not) yard work. Oh, and some naps. Now we're getting ready to go out for a movie.
The last year was a good one and I'm looking forward to the next. More adventures with Relia. New adventures with her new brother or sister. And of course, new adventures with the lovely FP Gal.
Should be great!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday!

To the FP Gal, who adds another calendar and still looks as beautiful as ever. Here is to another wonderful year!

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, November 19, 2009


This morning we enjoyed a light rain and temps in the mid 40's. The rain tapered off so I decided that we'd go to the zoo. Como zoo, of course. And we picked a good time and day to do so. The weather chased a bunch of folks off. We got there about a half hour after opening and there were only about a dozen cars in the lot. We just about had the place to ourselves.
First off is the primate house. The way it's set-up, you go from smaller monkeys to bigger monkeys. orangutans and then gorillas. She wasn't impressed until we got to the gorillas. She thought they were big. I said they were even bigger than daddy. She told me bigger than two daddies.
Next up was the big cats. The tiger was very regally sitting outside, just staring off into space, perhaps thinking about lifeboats. The cougar was pacing very visibly, which was nice. And a female lion was sitting inside. We continued outside and saw the male lion. The walkway is elevated by a good 20 feet so we looked down at him. Then, and this was very cool, he started to roar.
Ever hear a lion roar? They are tremendously loud. Jungle shakingly so, probably. We watched him for a moment. Then the tiger came over to his side of the pen and told him to knock it off. Relia tried in vain to get more roaring but he was all done.
Next up was the giraffes and zebras. We watched them eat for a moment. There was a zoo worker there fielding questions but I couldn't think of any until later. My question: are zebras different than horses other than coloring? I've got no idea.
The aquatic house was next and we got to watch both the seals and the sea lions get fed. One of them (sea lions?) kept making the 'ark, ark, ark' noises. Relia would turn to me and say, "I heard something,". Yes you did, honey. The penguins stood stoically, as is their wont. Don't know if I've seen them in the water. The polar bears are vacationing in Detroit of all places while they remodel their home.
We completed the circuit and saw the tortoise statue. There is a door near it with a sign that says 'staff only'. Relia wanted to go in but I told her it was for zoo workers only. She thought a moment and then told me that she wanted to work at the zoo. If someday she does, I hope that she lets me watch the tiger feeding.
We did a quick spin of the conservatory. There was a class full of kids that seemed to be from a Muslim school. Their teachers herded them past the naked statues with great speed. I told Relia that Hans and Rachel were married there and she took that in stride. Hey, that anniversary is coming up!
Then home with her falling asleep on the ride. I doubt she'll remember the lions roaring. But her daddy sure will.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Over the Border - Big Country

Not sure why, but I've had this one bouncing around in my head for the past couple of days.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top Grossing Films of the 00's

(Via Big Hollywood) Interesting post here regarding the top grossing films of the decade and their origin.
Wikipedia has a list of the highest grossing films of this decade so far, and kottke noticed that of the top 20 films at the box office, only one movie was not based on a past film or tv show (remake/sequel), or an adaptation of an established property (be it a comic, book, play, toy…etc).
That movie? 'Finding Nemo'. In fact, there are only two of the top 30 that are new works, the other being 'Kung Fu Panda' at #30. At the link they list the top 50 of the decade and only nine aren't based on some previous something. Seven of the nine are animated, five of those being Pixar. Any guesses on the other two?
Is that unusual? For comparison I decided to look at the Wikipedia list for the 90's. My quick count suggests that nearly half of them, 22, are new stories. Four of those are in the top 10, including the #1 overall grosser, Titanic.
Yep, the industry has changed.

The Kitties and the Door

The other morning the kitties opened Relia's door again. As you know, this has been the source of many too early mornings. We've convinced Relia that she should come in and get us rather than going downstairs and wrangling breakfast on her own. Much better.
But the other morning they opened her door again. And she got out of bed . . . and closed it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lord of Light - Zelazny

Quick review part, I loved this book and thought it was great. The idea behind it is clever. The main character is fun. Before the Hugo project, I'd never heard of this book and I'm very glad that I read it.
Now that I've said that, SPOILERS follow, ok? It takes a bit to unpack what's happening in 'Lord of Light'. The story resembles a series of legendary encounters involving a conflict between various Hindu gods and the Buddha. Only later do we find out that this is a planet that was settled by a colony ship. The original crew had a process whereby they could transplant their consciousness into a new body after death, much like reincarnation. They also developed technology to mirror their chosen god personas.
But not everyone was happy. In order to keep their god-like position, the pantheon needed to keep the populace at a low tech. If a region tried to develop, they would declare a holy war and reduce them. This approach offended a crew member named Sam. He decided to combat them by positioning himself as the Buddha.
The great thing about Sam is that he's a rogue. Each chapter deals with him balancing between his assumed persona and his need for cleverness. All of this is told in an heroic style which would be too heavy if it wasn't so much fun.
A great book.


While Relia was helping to mix the waffle batter:

Me: Are your arms getting tired?
Relia: No. They're getting happy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Movies that Defined the 00's

Interesting list in the Telegraph, regarding the '100 movies that defined the noughties'. I expect that we'll see a bunch of this type of thing in the next couple of months. List making has absolutely exploded in the internet age. And movies are by far the most universal shared culture that we have.
This particular list is aimed at 'defining' movies which isn't necessarily the same thing as the best movies (I think). So there is more arty and experimental fare than a straight 'best of' list might have had. Certainly wouldn't be my list but the whole thing is worth reading.
The top ten:

10. Slumdog Millionaire
9. The Passion of the Christ
8. Amores Perros
7. Borat
6. Memento
5. LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
4. There Will Be Blood
3. The Incredibles
2. Brokeback Mountain
1. Fahrenheit 9/11

(Each movie has a brief description and the one for 'Fahrenheit' doesn't disappoint. It suggests that whether Moore 'played fast and loose with the facts misses the point'. This is almost the perfect summation of the rise of the political documentary in this decade.)

I've got a movie project in mind regarding the past decade of film. Probably something that will start around the beginning of December. In the meantime, I'll probably be looking for more of these lists. Don't know about the rest of you, but I can't get enough of them.

The Store

After Relia finished her morning bagel, she asked for some croutons. She got the last bit of those and I showed her the empty bag so that she'd believe me. I was (very helpfully) informed that we needed to go to the store and get more of them.

Btw, bagels and croutons were a very common breakfast while I was growing up.

Update: Since I'm talking about Relia/morning/food I should mention how she woke up this morning. Just before 6a there was some murmuring, then loudly and clearly she said, "That's a big orange!"

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Random Thursday Thoughts: Kids Movies Edition

And yes, this list is proof that I'm a bad parent.
  • When you watch 'Little Mermaid' and 'Finding Nemo' in close order, it's really amazing how far animation came in so short of a time. 'Mermaid's' music still holds up well though.
  • Does any movie in the history of cinema have a higher percentage of sidekicks than 'Aladdin'? Each of the top four characters have their own cute companion (monkey, tiger, parrot and flying carpet). If the Sultan had a talking cat they could have maxed themselves out.
  • 'Monsters Inc' is known in our house as the 'salad movie'. We think that Sully = salad or something like that. 'Fish movie' makes so much more sense.
  • Overall, the Pixar movies are more popular with Relia than the Disney ones. She watches the Miyazaki movies, just stares at them entranced, but I don't know if she really enjoys them as much.
  • Disney had a well known policy of pulling their movies from sale and only releasing them for limited periods. This never bugged me before but now that I'm a parent it irks me. They have the right of course, I just wish I could buy the Toy Story movies more easily.
  • That's it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

HIMYM Shame Index

For fans of 'How I Met Your Mother', Slate does a review of each episode on Tuesdays. The entire index can be found here.

Go Ahead, Reflect

Monsters Inc Question

How did Mike get back from Nepal?

This didn't bother me until the movie entered heavy rotation at our place. Now I don't know. And I don't think that the movie ever explains it.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Random Sunday Night Thoughts

To pass the time by while the FP Gal valiantly tries to put our little angel to bed:
  • I spend a fair amount of time criticizing bad commercials. Not that surprising given how bad some of it is. Bud Light (for instance) should fire their entire ad division. Possibly they should fire them out of an airlock while in low earth orbit. The FP Gal reminds me every Sunday that I'm not their target market.
  • Well, I'm not a Dos Equis guy either, but the set of ads with 'the most interesting man in the world' is nothing short of brilliant. The whole set with video can be found here. And yes, it tempts me to try some Mexican beer.
  • Switching gears to rum, it seems that the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie is going to be based on the Tim Powers book, 'On Stranger Tides'. It's a fun book and I'm very pleased.
  • Of course, I'm still waiting for the movie versions of 'War for the Oaks' and the long rumored mini series of 'The Diamond Age'. C'mon movie people! Steal some of my favorite stories and put them on the screen!
  • This seems to be a media heavy random post. Guess I'll roll with it. Did everyone hear that Steve Martin is co-hosting the Oscars next year? Yay! They're also changing the format for Best Picture to include ten nominees. Should be interesting.
  • That's it!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

So Tired

We're a week into November and my novel is really not going well this year. I loved the concept. Really, really loved it. Right up until I started writing it.
Part of my problem is that I read this article about how various great authors do their thing. It made me feel very bad about my prep and technique. And especially my characterization.
And then I realized that this novel is suffering from all of the things that I didn't like about the others. I'm not at all happy with how I write people. Even worse, I seem to keep falling into stories where there is next to no interaction between said people.
So what was my concept this time? Well, I still don't want to say in case I somehow salvage the darn thing, but let's just say that it precludes even the possibility of interaction. Which isn't an easy feat, believe me.
To top it all off, this first week has been an absolute wreck for writing. The first started off wonderfully. On the second I got sick and spent most of two days falling behind. Somehow, I caught up by day five but then failed utterly on six and now seven.
The first few years were pretty easy with this. I'll be shocked if I somehow finish this one.


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Airport Code Game

As you doubtlessly know, airports are known by a unique three letter code. Traditional initials also have three letters. I propose a game. Go here, to an airport code website and enter your initials. Then come back and leave a comment regarding which city you are connected to. The person with the largest city wins!
I'll start (and create examples).

PGD (me) - Punta Gorda, FL (per Wikipedia the population is 16,762)
ARD (Relia) - Alor Island, Indonesia (Wikipedia puts the population at 168,000)
FPG (FP Gal) - no known airport (Wikipedia thinks that lots of people don't live at airports but for the purpose of this game she gets a score of 0)

So go ahead and give it a try. Leave your answers in the comments. Wikipedia look up available upon request. I honestly have no idea who will win this but I'm curious.

I Would Totally Do This

Man shows up at own funeral.

I'm very serious. When my time comes you might want to double check the corpse. Because if I can make it...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Lessons from Movies

We've been taught from 'Finding Nemo' and now 'Little Mermaid' that sharks swimming underwater can break through just about any material. Except anchors and torpedo tubes. Swimmers take note.
The other day we also learned from the first twenty minutes of West Side Story that spinning in a dress is fun. And may cause the scene to shift from a dress shop to a dance hall. (This was a fun lesson.)

Update: I know one little girl and two cats that simply must switch over to the time change. This is like living on the Indiana border.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Powder on the Hands

We have finally found a reasonably good way to quiet a restless toddler on the changing table: corn starch. Yep, baby powder. Most people think that it's meant to be applied to the bottom. We certainly did. Relia has taught us differently. A few spots on each hand and she becomes quietly fascinated.
Babies are weird.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bullying? Beheading???

This Yahoo news article caught my eye. Under the headline 'Tower of London Beefeaters Suspended for Bullying' is this lede:

LONDON – Women faced their share of trouble at the Tower of London, including three queens who were beheaded there. But treachery has long been considered a thing of the past at the notorious 11th century fortress. At least until now.

Um, are they really comparing 'bullying' with 'beheading'? There is a pretty steep difference between the two, no?
If charges made Monday are true, the Tower — a popular tourist attraction and home to Britain's Crown Jewels — will add bullying to the list of foul deeds committed there. The victim: the first woman selected to join the all-male ranks of the Tower's yeoman warders, popularly known as "Beefeaters."
Ah. Ok then. I'm certainly not in favor of bullying and I hope that the woman from the article, Moira Cameron, is able to work there without problems. Having said that, I don't think you can really hold executing Queens against the current lot. Orders and all that.
But. . . I guess it got my attention. So the writers have that going for them.

(Suspended how? The Tower has some gristly history of that sort of thing too...)

Off to Work

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Amazing Race

Enough of the desert, this week they went to the Netherlands! (Mom, if there was ever an episode for you to watch, this was it.) The show opened with everyone catching the same flight to Amsterdam. Why? Because flights from Dubai to Europe are limited.
(Side note, if you will. I think there is a reason that they don't have travel agents on this show. Once you start booking international flights for a while, you get a serious feel for the, uh, flow of travel. You know when to look for flights from here to there. And most importantly, you get a feel for how to get in and out of different continents. For instance, Skyteam has a 7p connection through Moscow that looks like it would have beaten the flight they picked. I bet with some time I could find even better.)
The first thing the teams did this week was drive to a certain statue on the bridge of a dike. Well, the first test for one team was putting the car in Drive, but I'm pretty sure that the producers didn't expect that to be a challenge. After the statue, they had to go to a nearby town and find the bell tower. One member would climb the steps and count all of the bells. Pretty straight forward and the first five teams did it without much problem. The last team had mucho trouble. I'm curious if she could have simply counted the keys on the players keyboard, but I didn't pause the screen and find out.
Next it was off to another nearby village to find a windmill. Then they had to change into authentic Dutch garb and choose between challenges. Each team had both a male and a female outfit and that was good for some cross dressing fun. Especially with the Globetrotters.
They got to choose between two sets of tasks. One consisted of a strength test with a hammer and a bell, a traditional dance and some salted herring. The other had them strip down to long underwear, swim a creek and then play golf with weird clubs and balls (and a strong wind).
This proved to be too much for the team of poker playing ladies. They couldn't ring the bell and they couldn't drive the ball far enough. This let the perpetually troubled team catch up and endure a penalty that they suffered from accidentally walking when they should have saved time by riding a bike. The poker players eventually quit.
I liked the scenery this week and watching the Globetrotters do an authentic Dutch dance was possibly the high point of the season. But . . . it's a real shame when a team quits because they couldn't actually complete a task. The High Striker, in particular was apparently too hard for a team of women. The golf probably would have been easier on a different day but was obviously beyond them if it was windy. Still, this was a team just waiting to be eliminated and if it wasn't this week it would have been the next. There are four strong teams left and the weaker ones are almost all gone.

NaNo New

Here is the beginning of this year's effort:
There was an intense, sudden flash of light and a shocking roar. Both were cut off and faded without echo or warning. Then a split second of free fall and without warning, a hard impact. Abner was knocked to the floor. There was surge back up and then a lighter impact and he could feel it start to roll.
Abner grabbed an arm hold and hauled himself upright. The windows had shown nothing but night and lights. Now it was full day time. The rain was gone. So was the airport. And they were definitely moving.
He was back of the wing and could see some kind of prairie or big field in front of him. A herd of … something was running away. Or at least that was what the cloud of dust made him think.
He turned to the other side to see if that view helped him but it didn’t. More grass but also trees. A forest worth, at least. The trees helped him figure the speed of the plane, fast but not alarmingly so. For the first time he noticed how rough the ride was. A thought flashed through his head that he was not on any kind of runway.
Also, the trees were starting to get closer. If the plane didn’t swerve or the forest curve back, there would be some kind of collision. He started to make his way up the aisle toward the cockpit. The crash happened when he was about half way there. At least the first crash did. Again he looked out the port windows and he could see that the wing was starting to connect with the edge of the forest.
Abner took one more step towards the cockpit and then the jet spun suddenly toward the left and pitched him off balance. He stumbled and hit his face on a seat back. For a moment he was woozy, and then he blinked a few times and passed out. His last thought was, ‘Damn Pete, what the hell did you get me into?”