Saturday, May 30, 2009
Spoilers to follow, ok? You've seen an image of a house connected to a large batch of balloons in all of the commercials. The story behind it is one of the most heartrending and touching that I've seen in a long time. Very well done.
There are very few characters, I think that the cast credits are only about ten names long. Each of the main ones are very well put together, each in their own right. Two of the main ones are old men, very unusual in this day and age. There is also a young kid who is slow but touching in his sincerity. A talking dog steals the show. 'Up' is an absolute must see for anyone who loves dogs. (Even us cat-lovers enjoyed it.)
End of spoilers. Like most Pixar movies, this one starts with a strong story and then adds good animation on top of it. This one doesn't follow any kind of predictable plot path. In fact, it's filled with unique images and situations.
It's a great, great movie.
- She's stringing more and more words together, surprising us often. The other night she threw a minor tantrum at bedtime and then afterword asked for a 'tissue'. She then said she was 'crying'. We blame/credit daycare.
- With this wonderful warm weather we've taking Relia to the park on a daily basis. She still loves the tallest slides and uses the scariest ladders to get there. The swings have been a trial for her. She sees other kids using them and wants to join in the fun but the motion doesn't agree with her. Yesterday she was fine with just hanging there with small pushes. That's an improvement.
- For awhile, she was confusing the words 'Mommy' and 'monkey'. Also 'Daddy' and 'potty'. I don't come off well in the comparison. She's starting to get the differences (thank God).
- We think there is a growth spurt going on. When she dangles above the slide at the park, her feet now touch the ground. That wasn't true a couple of weeks ago.
- More singing and she loves it when we sing together. Thinks it's the funniest thing ever.
- Last year Jerry Girton met her and said that she really smiles with her eyes. I think that's about right. She has very expressive eyes and that adds to her charm. Of which she's got gobs.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
31. Belem Castle, Lisbon Portugal
32. Terracotta Soldiers, Xian China
33. Arc de Triomphe, Paris France
34. Moai statues, Easter Island
35. Auckland skyline, Auckland New Zealand
No correct answer for 31 yet [now it has been answered], but four [five] more points for Michelle. That brings the total to...
For the record, 35 was the only one I got wrong at work. I was so certain it was the Toronto skyline, that I didn't bother to double check it. Whoops! The next (and last) round pops Monday at noon. There are a couple of easy ones, and some very hard ones.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The first part takes place some centuries after a full out nuclear war, then known as the Flame Deluge. One of the remaining splinters of civilization is a monastery in the southwest that is dedicated to preserving any scrap of writing that exists from the pre-war civilization. This part of the story centers on a young novitiate who chances upon a wanderer in the desert. This chance meeting leads to discovery of old materials and sets the young man on an unwanted path to noteriety. This one was my favorite.
The second part takes place some centuries later still, as the civilized world is rediscovering some modern sciences and inventions. The focus here is the sometime tension between science and religion and the way that politics can complicate both of them. Probably the weakest of the three.
The last story is centuries later again. This time the world is on the brink of nuclear war again. The church is working on sending missionaries offworld so that some part of the church will survive if the worst happens. The main focus is on a situation where the church is asked to bless euthanasia. It's heartrending.
I first read this book some twenty years ago. Back then, my Dad was teaching it in his Humanities class. 'Canticle' has interesting things to say about the role of organized religion in the world and interesting questions too. It's very well written and I'd recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good read. A great book.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
January: New Year's Day
April: Pride (In the Name of Love)
July: 4th of July
December: Angel of Harlem
Monday, May 25, 2009
I'm always struck by how quiet it is down there. I love how dark the houses are, with only the soft blue of a TV set showing on the living room curtains. The thick trees block out the street lights so you end up moving from lit bubble to lit bubble.
As we were walking I was keeping half an eye on the stars, much more visible there than up here. Suddenly I noticed a bright star where I hadn't noticed one before. And...was it moving? I stopped and pointed it out to the FP Gal and asked her if it could be a plane. She thought maybe a satellite but it seemed too bright. After a good twenty seconds (at least) it faded to nothing and was gone.
Just last week I'd been reading about a current meteor shower, the Scorpiids. The angle of this shower is such that it leads to long, slow meteors that often turn into sparking fireballs. I couldn't help but wonder if that's what we saw.
Only one problem, these meteors should have been close to the horizon and this was too high up. Talked with the FP Gal's father tonight and he had a different thought. The space shuttle landed early this morning. Maybe we saw it on a low orbit. How cool would that be?
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
This took me by surprise. Most airlines don't offer an inventory of their zoos. I'm guessing that most airline employees don't keep up on this type of info. More importantly, most airlines don't encourage their agents to talk about such things.
Not sure what to do with the gorilla news, I tried to push on but she then asked me if it wasn't exciting news. I agreed and tried to keep up my end of the conversation by asking her how many total gorillas they now had. She said she wasn't sure. She then told me that they got two boys and two girls. They came from New York and they would be quarantined for 90 days. Seeing my opening I asked if they did that for all New Yorkers or just for gorillas.
She was a pleasant woman and I'm happy to find people making their jobs (and mine) a little sunnier. A few thoughts though...
- It turns out that the story is true. I almost wish it was just a unique greeting that she gave to people. In fact, I'm thinking of using that for lulls in conversation with people all over the world. "Cleveland? Didn't you just get four new gorillas?"
- It pretty much has to be gorillas to make this interesting, doesn't it? If it was zebras it would be too little. If it was elephants it would be too much.
- 'Four New Gorillas' would be a great band name, or in this age a great blog name. Steve B, you could go with 'Six New Gorillas'.
$1 = 5 tickets
$5 = 20 tickets
$10 = 40 tickets
$20 = 80 tickets
As we looked at the sign I whispered to the FP Gal and asked her if it was really a better deal to keep buying one dollar worth of tickets rather than to buy in bulk. She quickly did the math and decided that I had it right.
We asked the ladies with the cash box and after some discussion they agreed. The lady who set up the whole shebang was nearby and a quick question to her suggested that she didn't see what we were getting at. I bit my tongue and didn't say anything about math skills and we paid for our tickets and wandered off.
As we left, we talked to the cash box ladies again and they said that it was done that way so that kids with only a dollar would still get a good deal. Kind of a loss leader, I guess. I can see the logic though it is the opposite of most marketing set-ups. And, to be brutally honest, I'm not all that convinced that it was done on purpose.
Still, it was a fundraiser for kids and I don't feel bad that we could have somehow squeezed out a few more tickets out of them. As it was, we ended up giving the bulk of our tickets away so we could take our tired daughter home.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
26. The Louvre, Paris France
27. St Stephens Cathedral, Passau Germany
28. Salzburg, Austria (and the picture has a couple of different focuses, so I would have accepted anything that said Salzburg)
29. Stolzenfels Castle, Rhine River Germany
30. Bruges, Belguim
And the scoreboard is:
Michelle, drop me an email at LLStone27(at)gmail.com so I can get some info for your prize.
I'm kind of surprised that the Salzburg fans on this blog didn't get number 28. Must have been a different angle then you've seen before. Anyway, the next five have some easy ones so be ready Monday at noon to get those guesses in.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Go ahead, give us some help!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Btw, I don't expect the 'bald ceiling' to be broken any time soon. Before then we will almost certainly have a woman president, an openly gay president and (possibly) an openly Mormon president before we have a more aerodynamic one.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I didn't do anything terribly crazy. I've been trying to buy the rest of the Hugo books with a heavy bias towards getting used books. To that end I went to four different used book stores this weekend. Picked up two Booker prize winners, a comet hunting memoir and 'Pillars of the Earth' but no Hugos.
Been hoping to get at least the pre-90's books used. I'm short three books from the 60's and two from the 70's. There is a pretty good chance that they just aren't available in any local used book store. And Powell's is too far away (darn it). To make it worse, Mt Hood is out (double darn it).
It was a quiet weekend. I did get some stuff done around the house. The hated lawn is mowed. The dishes are clean. The kitties are fed.
And best of all, I miss baby and wife and am anxious to see them again.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Meanwhile, the temp in Honolulu is 82 with a gentle breeze...
Friday, May 15, 2009
2. The Godfather
4. Citizen Kane
5. All About Eve
6. Annie Hall
7. Sunset Blvd
9. Some Like it Hot
10. Godfather II
Those are some pretty solid movies. The only obvious omission I see is 'Fight Club' but there might be others. Since this list focuses on writing rather than the overall movie it's a bit different than AFI's lists. I'd describe most of these movies as 'clever' and that's a pretty high compliment in my book.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
She wasn't riveted to the TV or anything but one song did catch her attention. The yodeling song, of course. I sang along with it, clumsily of course. My theory is that there is no official set of words for it, merely syllables that approximate the intent of the song. Near the end she was singing too, no doubt with as much accuracy as I was.
Bonus Musical Question: is there any famous musical in which the songs in the second half are as strong as the first half? (I sure can't think of any.)
21. Catherine's Palace (Peterhof) St Petersburg Russia
22. Blue Mosque, Istanbul Turkey
23. Tsarevets Hill, Bulgaria
24. Fisherman's Bastion (Castle Hill), Budapest Hungary
25. Rathaus, Bamberg Germany
That makes the score:
and that means that Michelle can wrap this contest up as early as next Monday. Pictures pop at noon.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
- Find the Mary Tyler Moore statue.
- Inline skate around one of the lakes.
- Eat some lutefisk (to show off regional heritage).
- Detour: find certain selected shops in either the Skyway or at the MOA (Tubes or Rubes?).
- Pitstop at the Spoonbridge.
- Scrap the windshields of ten cars.
- Create and stack ice bricks to help build the Winter Carnival castle.
- Correctly put on the twenty-two items needed to go cross country skiing (to show off regional heritage).
- Detour: shovel a block long section of sidewalk or put up Christmas lights in freezing rain (Scrape or Pray?).
- Pitstop at the auto impound lot.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
But I don't want it to sound all awful. She is still lots of fun and cute as could be. Now that it's warm out and she can play outside she is especially fun to be with. Her interaction with the cats is a blast too.
One of the most fun things is just watching her language map be created. She uses certain phrases as kind of catch-alls for certain things. For instance, when she says "All done", that means she wants something to stop or to end or to change in some way. That means that when she's stuck in the car seat and wants to be outside, she'll keep yelling "All done!" to try and get us to change the activity.
Tonight we were sitting on the couch watching some Tivo'd 'MASH' and it was decided that it was bedtime. The FP Gal paused the TV and Relia realized what was up. She gestured frantically at the TV and kept saying, "On! On! On!" to try and get us to keep watching TV so we wouldn't put her down.
This really is fun stuff.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
This isn't always easy. Relia is starting to fight bedtime. This mean that she has to run around the room crying before she'll finally submit and climb onto the bed. Tonight was one of the fighting nights.
It was my turn with her and I simply laid on the bed with the book I'm reading and let her yell. After five minutes or so she asked to come up (even though she can do it on her own, I helped her out). She didn't want me to read one of her books out loud. Nope. She was very firm that I should keep reading mine while she lay next to me and 'read' hers.
All very cute of course. After I'd read for ten minutes or so I decided that it was time to wrap things up. I firmly set my book down and picked up 'The Going to Bed Book'. She didn't want me to read it and tried very hard to close the book so I couldn't continue. After a minute I realized that I've read the durn thing about 200 times and didn't need to see it. I let her have the book and she gripped it tightly closed. I simply kept reciting. She looked at the book and closed it even harder. I think she thought if she could somehow close it hard enough she could stop me and delay bedtime.
Then I finished and she went into the crib. After some yelling, she was out.
Since my own dear Pop refs highschool games, I found this very interesting:
Scratch a long time football fan and you'll find an amateur referee. The game is so fast and complicated that almost every play features some kind of rule question. After the FP Gal watched her first season of football with me, she was nearly an expert on the cluster of rules about whether a catch was legal or not.
Like many red-blooded American males, he would have preferred being a football star. He was a scrappy linebacker at the University of Texas-El Paso in the early 1970s before size got in the way. So he started reffing Pop Warner games on Saturdays, making 50 bucks for four games. Sure, at first it was a way for a young father to help pay for law school, but ... "Any official would tell you the same story -- you get hooked," Hochuli says. "It's like having a main line of adrenaline running in your vein for three hours on Sunday night. It's like standing on a cliff."
Pee Wee led to preps, jucos and eventually the Pac-10 in 1985. Hochuli had to work the chains for two years before he got to officiate a college game, and his lawyer buddies would come along to affectionately tease him from the stands at Sun Devil Stadium: Go, Down-Marker Ed! They followed him to his NFL debut in 1990, when he broke into the league as a back judge. His first game was at Lambeau Field, preseason, and Hochuli was nervous. What if somebody figured out he didn't belong there? He threw his flag and felt his stomach sink because he knew immediately that he had gotten the call wrong. Hochuli quickly picked up the flag off the grass and stuffed it in his pocket, and the game went on.
Hochuli also did a live chat with ESPN. He was asked about the most difficult calls for refs to make:
That depends on your position. For the Referee, it's the "pass/fumble". Did the QB start forward with the bal in his hand, or did it come out before he started forward. For the deep officials, it's the sideline catches when the player is in mid stride (not the toe-tappers).He also talks about the schedule for refs and stresses repeatedly how much they study the rulebooks and are tested on them. All very interesting.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009
16. Temples of Bagan, Myanmar
17. Tanah Lot Temple, Bali Indonesia
18. Schonnbrunn Palace, Vienna Austria
19. Alexander III bridge in Paris (I would have accepted Eiffel Tower, too)
20. Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest Romania (though I'm going to accept Ceauşescu's Palace since he built it)
That brings the overall scoreboard to
No pictures outstanding at this point. The next batch will pop on Monday at noon.
There was also a struggle over sitting in her high chair or not. This involved much crying and yelling. And a brief discussion of Gypsies. (Pat, if you'd like to experience Her Fierceness in all her glory, we can schedule some time next Thursday.)
Finally, Relia decided that some yogurt would be ok. But only if she could operate the spoon and feed herself. You know how Yoplait containers are designed, with a rim smaller than the base of the container? Years back it caused 'skunk-killing' accusations from Peta? Well, this design has caused her little hand to be stuck a few times. But...we've gotten through it somehow.
Could be a long day...
UPDATE: The FP Gal is home and after talking with her I have no idea what Relia became fixated on this morning. It may have been popcorn related. It might best be described as 'corn seeds'. It's the stuff that is in the jar before any popping has taken place. I hope this clears up any questions you might have had on this point.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Me: On the couch?
Me: (trying to instill politeness) What do you say?
The FP Gal sat on the other side of the couch and laughed and laughed. On the third try she finally said, "Please".
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
April 27th - The Jets release Favre so he can 'retire'.
April 28th through May 4th - Favre insists that he isn't coming back. Vikes coach Brad Childress says team is looking at options.
May 5th - Reports are that Favre and Childress are meeting together later in the week.
May 11th? - Vikes call press conference to announce signing.
Ugh. I said last year that I didn't want him and nothing has changed my mind about that. I cheered against the man for almost two decades and now I'm supposed to cheer for him? Just because he can't make up his mind doesn't mean that a rational fan base has to change theirs.
In the late 50's, Heinlein set out to write down some of his thoughts on the nature of military service and it's role in a good society and this is the book that came out. His first step was to look at a common problem with democracies; the average voter comes to vote his/her interests above any kind of national ideal (commonly known as voting for 'bread and circuses). How then to get voters to care for the larger group?
Heinlein didn't think you can really train a patriotic urge into them. He says that you could no more give a blind man sight than to make a particular individual more responsible. Instead he opted for a system where people could voluntarily prove this ethic before they were given the right to vote. In this system a person could only become a voting citizen if they served a military term or (importantly) a non-violent but demanding and possibly dangerous equivilant. In other words, each voter had proved that they cared more about the larger body of people than they did about their own sole life.
To say that Starship Troopers is one of the most controversial Hugo winners ever is no understatement. Not because of the quality of the writing (up to par with Heinlein's usual high standard) but because the ideas he presented are not popular. The book is routinely denounced as fascist, by people who confuse the term with 'warlike'. It's an ironic note that the idea of tying citizenship to military service was partly inspired by the Swiss tradition where able bodied men serve at least two years in the army.
I don't find the book to be war-loving as much as it is war-understanding. Heinlein says that a strong military is all that protects a civilized people from the uncouth barbarians that will always gather at the gates. He suggests that any people that stops growing and pushing will be soon pushed aside by others with no moral qualms to stop them. For this, even the most civilized society needs 'rough and ready' men willing to fight for those at home.
But I don't want the entire book to sound like a dry ethics tome because it certainly isn't. 'Starship Troopers' covers the enlistment and military career of Juan Rico in a futuristic military. The whole shebang from signing up against his parents wishes to boot camp to his first combat experiences to the day when he leads his own troops. It's filled with action and regret and the things mentioned above are lessons learned along the way.
Also, please don't confuse this wonderful novel with the awful movie of the same name. 'Starship Troopers' is the book that 'Saving Private Ryan', the movie almost was.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Sunday, May 03, 2009
- I guess I've given up on the Amazing Race Updates. This season hasn't been as good as past ones. I don't really care for any of the teams this year, or more accurately, I'm rooting against most of them. Some of the tasks have been interesting but almost every episode has come down to who could find the best taxi driver. Well, knowing Mandarin has been helpful too.
- One of the other shows that we watch, Survivor, is just now becoming good. Lots of backstabbing and scrambling around. And at least one good villain. And the scenery isn't bad either.
- One more show? Without revealing any spoilers, let me just say that this season of 'Lost' has been outstanding. There are only twentysome episodes left of the series and each Wednesday I'm more and more excited.
- Speaking of 'Lost', if they need a new 007 anytime soon I think they should think outside of the box and get Naveen Andrews. Or maybe he should get his own set of spy movies. In any case, he looks very natural with a gun and a mission.
- Enough TV? Let me switch gears to movies. Am I the only self professed geek in the US who isn't excited about the new Star Trek movie? Not sure why it doesn't do anything for me. I think it's because I think 'rebooted' movie series are kind of a cop out.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Here is a list of the horses as well as their odds for winning. Take a look and see if any of the names jump out at you. I'm picking 'Regal Ransom' so pick someone else.
And have fun!