Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

State Fair

The FP Gal put up a long post with pictures of our day at the fair here. I won't give a full recap but I will make some comments. This might work best if you read her post first. Go ahead, I'll wait.

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Ready? Ok, we tried going very early this year and it worked well. I'm thinking next year we try for even earlier (7a or so). It was very cool and the crowds were reasonable. We started off with breakfast which kind of took the pressure off from gorging on fair food.
Relia is so much more aware of what's going on around her. She recognizes most of the farm animals and I think she really finds it interesting to see them in person. She went to see the Miracle of Birth barn and watched the ducks being born. As they came out of the shell she said, "Babies happening!". Isn't that wonderful?
She also wants to go on the rides now. We're pretty sure she'd disagree if she ever actually got on one. The surges and dips and whatnot would probably get to her. Next year she'll be three and tall enough to go on some of them. We'll see how that goes. On a related note, we're going to make certain that she goes on a carousel at some point. That seems like a good beginners ride.
Fun fair stuff? There was a trimmer company there that was giving out free facial hair trims. I volunteered and got my goatee in shape. It worked out well for me because I hadn't trimmed it for awhile. The barber was from the Illinois area. It turned out that he was a White Sox fan too.
We didn't try anything crazy for fair food. The FP Gal needs to have a pronto-pup every year and she satisfied that. Relia wanted ice cream and we were able to accommodate. Every year I think that I should try a turkey leg. Each year I forget until after I've eaten something else. This year I was in a non-greasy mood (I know, I was surprised too) and went with a gyro. Relia didn't like it. She did steal my raspberry lemonade though.
It was a good day. By the end I was exhausted. So was Relia. I always feel like we let the FP Gal down, as if she could go for hours more than we can. Hope I'm wrong about that. In any case, I'm already looking forward to next year. Relia will be even more grown up. And she'll have a little sibling to enjoy it with too!

Flower Child - U2

My sister (very generously) sent a box of stuff for Relia's birthday. Included in the box was a set of U2 CD's with unreleased music and B sides. And it's a wonderful stuff! One of my new favorites is this number that wasn't included on 'All That You Can't Leave Behind':

I'm sure it was left off because it was too similar to 'Wild Honey'. Still, a pretty good tune.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kindles and other E-Readers

I've long resisted the urge to get any kind of electronic reader. I'm a pretty avid reader but the thought of going digital has left me cold. Add in the Kindle's $300 price tag and it's been pretty easy to leave them alone.
For those who don't know, the Kindle is a hand held device that Amazon sells. You can buy books (current library of 300,000) and have them downloaded directly to you. The price of the book is usually reduced from a paper copy.
There are drawbacks for me. It's nearly impossible to share books with your friends. The feel of an e-reader is strangely different than an actual bound book. And a few months back Amazon surprised some customers by withdrawing already purchased books because of a copyright issue.
Lately I've been having second thoughts. I'm much more used to reading from a screen than I was a few years back. I usually wait for books to come out in paperback but with a Kindle that wouldn't be an issue. And transporting it between work and home would be easier than a paper copy. I'm warming to the idea...
But they still need to work out some bugs before I'd commit to one.
  • I want some kind standardized format. I want to be able to buy books from several different sources, not just one seller. This should make for more widespread value
  • They need to hammer out ownership issues, much like the music industry is going through. Books, of course, are different than songs but many of the piracy issues are the same.
  • The price needs to come down. History suggest that it will happen in time.
So not yet. But I can see the day...

Overheard

(While getting ready to go to a park...)

The FP Gal: I'm going to get her a .
Me: You're getting her a...lava proof shirt?
FP Gal: Yes. That's exactly what I said.
Me: What park are we going to? Kilauea State Park?
Relia:
Me: Can you say Kilauea?
Relia: K-relia.
Me: Very good! Maybe Polynesian words are easy for toddlers. Can you say Honolulu?
Relia: No.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Relia has a dream

In which everybody, including her Daddy, wears a purple dress. Every day.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where in the World Scoreboard (updated)

We are halfway done and here's this week's answers:

16) The Vatican
17) Mount Everest
18) Himeji Castle, Japan
19) Baha'i Gardens, Haifa Israel
20) Chalice Sculpture, Christchurch NZ (I picked the picture for the Cathedral but the sculpture really is the prominent feature)

Which brings the scoreboard to a big fat tie!
T Herring 4 points
Michelle 7 points
Hans 4 points
Carrie 3 points

There are plenty of points still out there, three from last week and two more this one.

Update: Three more points for Michelle. Two from this week and one from last. That does still leave two open points...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Computer

After a good six years I've finally swapped out my computer for a newer model. Installation was pretty painless (so far!). The older one served me well. I got it in August of 2003 and started online dating less than a week later. That led me to the FP Gal and, well, pretty much everything I've got now.
It's hard to believe that was six years ago. It seems both much too short and much too long at the same time...

Update: Holy cats, this thing is fast!

Blueberries

It took a very long time this morning for me to understand that Relia was asking for blueberries and not bouillabaisse. I was somewhat reassured when I figured it out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stormy Weather

Anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows that I love the rainy weather. Gray drizzly days are my favorites but a big dramatic thunderstorm is unbeatable. The FP Gal agrees with me on this. In fact, she likes to go out and walk in the rain. I used to but haven't had good shoes for doing so in many, many years. And now I'm old and like my comfort.
Anyway, I've been looking forward to showing a nice big thunder-boomer to Relia. I want to teach her what it is and emphasize that mommy and daddy really enjoy them. She might not like the big sounds but hopefully we can urge her towards finding them exciting rather than scary.
I figured that this summer would be our first opportunity now that she's old enough to kinda sorta understand stuff. But it's been a big dud so far. Thunderstorms have been few and far between or very distant. And a large number of them have slid to either side of the Cities and missed us altogether. Or taken place after she has gone to bed. All that I've wanted was one late afternoon storm that we could watch from the porch and it hasn't happened.
This morning was the closest that we've come. There were rumblings around 530a. She woke a little before 6. I brought her down and took her to the porch even before getting her breakfast. I asked her what the rumbling was and again she said, "trucks". I told her it was 'thunder' and that the flashes were 'lightning' and that they went together. We watched for about twenty seconds and then she was bored and we stopped.
Someday we'll have that storm and I can teach her. Hopefully someday soon.

The Baaa-Studs



(Original video from my cousin Andrea. Thanks!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Where in the World 4

And we're halfway done.

Pic 16

Pic 17

Pic 18

Pic 19

Pic 20

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another one coming!


Yep, we have another child on the way.

Today at Relia's birthday we purposefully left one gift till last. It contained Relia's new shirt (pictured above). Yes, we like to keep people on their toes!
Current names under consideration are 'Anita Josefina Teresita Beatriz del Carmen Margarita' for a girl and 'Fred' for a boy. We may update if those change.

Happy Birthday, Aurelia!

You've been a constant source of joy and laughter. I love you more and more each day!

The FP Gal created a wonderful video of clips from the past year.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Helpful

Relia helped me clear the dishwasher this morning. That meant lots of cute Relia commentary.
  • Glasses are 'Relia glasses', 'daddy glasses' or 'heavy' (glass glasses).
  • Her plates are listed by color. The smaller plates are 'Relia plates'. The bigger ones are 'daddy/mama' plates.
  • The vase was simply 'juice, all gone'.
  • The pot was 'pot, hot'.
  • She didn't get to help much with the silverware because I didn't want her playing with the knives.
She is starting to put more and more phrases together. Yesterday on the way to daycare she simply said (unprompted), "I love trucks". When I asked more questions it became clear that she loves red trucks and likes red cars. This morning we asked who has a red car and she said, "Grandma D!".
Also she turned to me and said, "I love you daddy". Pretty nice.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Overheard

From the FP Gal:

"A metal tiger. That sounds like it could beat any kind of shark!"

Where in the World scoreboard

(Sorry this is late!)

Either these were too hard this week or our Colorado contingent is on vacation...

11) Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy
12) Sistine Chapel, Italy
13)
14) Chocolate Hills, Indonesia
15)

And the scoreboard (for now) reads:
T Herring 4 points
Michelle 4 points
Carrie 3 points
Hans 1 point

Star Wars design flaws

Hans, you may not want to read this. (And it doesn't even touch on the Star Wars' universe apparent lack of dialogue fixers and someone who could cast a decent child actor.)

More tornado stuff

  • James Lileks (who lives near the area) went out and got some video.
  • On a newscast last night, a reporter on the scene said that it was 'unclear if sirens were activated in time'. Um, no. There were no sirens in Minneapolis. This one caught everyone flatfooted.
  • We listened to the radio quite a bit yesterday afternoon and the meteorologist was baffled. The conditions weren't right for a tornado. The day was cold and drizzly. Obviously it happened but I've got a feeling they'll be studying this one for a while.
  • The FP Gal's theory is that this guy came to visit. It would explain quite a bit.
  • One more fun fact, this didn't have that classic locomotive sound that people always mention. All of the news reports that I've seen suggest that it just sounded windy.
  • Another interview I saw had a guy who said that he happened to be looking out of his window and the trees just kind of popped out in a line.
  • I'm amazed at how localized it all was. If it hit your yard you were in trouble. One block over and you had no idea it happened. Very strange.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tornado!

We're fine, nobody hurt or any property damage.

Wednesday is my short day at work. I'm done at 130p and I drove straight home. There was good strong drizzle but it was not windy or dangerous feeling. Traffic was slow and there was lots of standing water on the streets.
My route takes me past Lake Nokomis and along past Minnehaha creek and then up Park Ave to our house. I got home and started making lunch. The FP Gal pointed out that we don't get the opportunity to go out eat w/o Relia and we should make the most of it. So we went back out into the rain and got in the car. My total time in the car couldn't have been more than five minutes.
For those who aren't familiar with our area, Park and Portland avenues are one way streets, north and south, just two blocks apart. We live on the avenue between them. The speed limit is a little higher on them and they serve as the main traffic arteries for our neighborhood.
Turning on to Portland was slow and the cars were moving very cautiously. Within a block we discovered that there were large branches down. Then we saw some large trees uprooted and leaning against houses. This was about a block over and one down from our home. We drove down Portland for about ten blocks and the damage was more and more severe. We finally turned and cut over four blocks and there weren't even any leaves down.
On our way to lunch we listened to the radio and they were trying to figure out what happened. We thought it was a tornado because of the very localized damage. No one expected this. There was no warning whatsoever.
On the way back from lunch we drove back down Park near Minnehaha creek and the damage was quite severe. Almost every yard had a large tree down. That street is going to look very, very different. The reports we heard sounded like the tornado went south to north. If that's the case it must have hit that street a few minutes after I drove through there. It looked like drifted over a couple of blocks to Portland around 45th st or so.
So far there have been no reports of injuries. It looked like some substantial roof damage to a number of homes and I'm sure some cars got hit with downed trees too. I hope that's the worst of it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So...

Anything interesting happen today?

(Btw, I said this would happen.)

Update:
To be clear, I said that I'd quit watching the Vikes if they picked up Michael Vick. The Eagles saved me from that. I'll still watch (and cheer for) the Vikings. I'm just not happy with this move.

Monday, August 17, 2009

#10

Carrie at Naturally Optimistic tagged me with this:

Simple Rules:
-Open your first photo folder.
-Scroll down to the 10th photo.
-Post that photo and story on your blog.
-Tag five others (or more) friends to do the same.



This was from August 2003. I'd just gotten my digital camera and was taking some pictures for my online dating profile. Look at that mug! This was about eight months after the car accident. You can still see considerable swelling on the left side. It was also about four months before they went back and fixed my nose to make it point straight. A year later I got my glasses and that helps even out both sides too!
Btw, I went with this pic for my profile:

Was that cheating?

Anyway, I'm tagging...
Rachel (Happy Birthday!)
Heidi
Mom
Micah
Chris

Where in the World 3

Just getting into the groove now.

Pic 11

Pic 12

Pic 13

Pic 14

Pic 15

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ponyo - 2009

I'm a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki's movies. 'Princess Mononoke' and 'Spirited Away are some of my all time favorite movies. I've seen his other films and thought they were all very good. So with great excitement, I went to see his new film 'Ponyo' on Friday.
The movie is loosely based on Hans Christen Anderson's 'Little Mermaid'. In this version, a goldfish is adopted by a little boy named Sosuke. He pulls her out of the ocean and keeps her in a bucket for a day. He names her Ponyo.
Unfortunately, she's not a normal goldfish. She is the daughter of some king of undersea wizard. She comes from a magic family and she uses that magic to become a little girl. She then seeks out Sosuke to become reunited. Unfortunately, her actions have caused the balance of nature to be upset and the consequences are catastrophic.
The overall story is much more suited for young kids than other Miyazake films. Whereas most of his earlier films have very complicated plots this one is fairly simple and straightforward. Some of the background magic stuff is convuluted and doesn't bear close scrutiny but if you just accept things at face value you won't have any trouble with it. The animation is top notch, though the landscape shots are different than his earlier films. They're almost like chalk sketches or something. It still looks great but it adds a more childlike detail to the story.
Tina Fey voices Sosuke's mother and the character deserves a mention. She is one of the strongest moms that I can recall in film. She is courageous and strong. When an obviously supernatural girl shows up on her doorstep she takes it in stride and handles the situation wonderfully.
The movie is simply delightful.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cat Mummies

Was just in the backyard talking with the FP Gal and I said that my attitude towards cats was sometimes too Egyptian. Longtime readers may recall that we buried both Roxane and Calypso underneath a tree that we planted way back in '06. Lately we've been talking about moving and that means losing the tree that remains as a last connection.
I thought about taking a leaf and bringing it but I don't know what I'd do with a leaf. She said we could press and frame it but that seems like too much. She (jokingly) said that we could dig them up and bring them with us. I said that we could wrap them in linen and let them roam around at night terrorizing the neighborhood.
Which brings us back to the Egyptians. I'd think that cat mummies would be a pretty simple connection to make. Has anyone ever made a movie about this? Google thinks that only the Tomb Raider people have done so. This really surprises me. No one thought of this during the 70's? The Sci-Fi network hasn't done this? What a missed opportunity!
(Carrie, feel free to run with this...)

Overheard

As Relia tries to imitate Oscar the Grouch:

Said in a quiet voice, with much concentration, "Sram".

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dune - Herbert

'Dune' is the definitive Epic sci-fi novel. It focuses on a galactic Empire with two warring noble houses, the Atreides and the Harkonnen. The Atreides have just taken control of the desert planet Arrakis, commonly known as 'Dune'. The planet is both a blessing and a curse. It is the only known sourse of a geriatric spice that is highly valued throughout the galaxy. It's also the home of the Fremen, a desert people highly reminicent of Bedouin.
That's the overall political framework that the book takes place in. It also features a young man named Paul who is possibly the answer to a long term genetic prophecy. This part has a highly developed mystical aspect with a quasi-religion run by special women.
There was a lot of thought that went into this story. It's been compared to Tolkein's Middle Earth and that's pretty reasonable. It's that complex and involved. It also launched a bunch of sequels and inspired dozens of copy-cats.
I've read that this book was best read as a teenager. I can see where that would help. It wasn't really to my taste but I can see where it would really impress.

Where in the World scoreboard (Updated)

After the second round (and before almost certain updates) here's what we've got:

6) Olympic Stadium, Montreal
7) Giant's Causeway, Ireland
8) Great Blue Hole, Belize (and how seriously cool does that look? This pic gives an idea of it's size.)
9) Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur India (this one might be the toughest of the whole set.)
10) Kylemore Abbey, Galway Ireland

No correct answers for 7, 9 or 10 yet. Very close with 9 but not quite specific enough.

The standings as of now:
T Herring 4 points
Carrie 2 points
Michelle 4 point

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Overheard at our house

The FP Gal:

"What kind of Realtor doesn't bring a film crew?"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Backseat Music Critic

Relia has started to exercise the 'heckler's veto' over my car radio. This weekend while driving to Austin and back she told me in no uncertain terms that she didn't want me to switch from CD to sports talk. Then she insisted that we sing her new favorite song.

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

Especially the 'da da da da da da da' part at the end. She gets excited for it, raising a hand for emphasis. And then she says, "Again!", until otherwise distracted.
(Wikipedia says: "The song is commonly sung by young children at communal outings such as long bus rides and Boy Scout or Girl Scout outings. The mock German name celebrated in the song suggests that some English speakers still find longer northern-European names to be inherently funny words." I can't help but agree. Farfegnugen. Ha!)
This morning she liked 'Tall Ships Go' but not 'All Fall Together'. Then we moved on to 'Over the Border' (easily my favorite obscure Big Country song, if that isn't a bit redundant) and she was much happier. Hans, any analysis from that?
I've got strong memories of listening to music in the back seat of my parents car. Show tunes stand out in my mind with both 'South Pacific' and 'Fiddler on the Roof' represented. Also...there was a tape called...'Best of the Best'(?). It was a collection of songs that included 'Peter Gunn', 'Ringo' and 'Put Your Head on My Shoulder'. (I'd be very happy to get my hands on that tape again. Family of mine, any idea where it ended up?)
I wonder what Relia will remember?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Trip down to Austin

There was a DeFor family reunion down in Austin today. I decided to take Relia down and show her off. The FP Gal choose to take advantage of a quiet day and sit at home watching her stories and drinking daiquiris. Really, who can blame her?
The drive down had one big flaw. Right near Faribault there is about five miles of construction on I-35. Going southbound we hit the backup four miles before reducing to one lane. It took 45 minutes to crawl those nine miles, nearly all of it in first gear. The whole thing was ridiculous. Northbound traffic seemed to move without a problem and I couldn't see any backup on that side.
(Let me get off topic a bit here. I've driven this route literally hundreds of time. Every summer there is a stretch of road construction. I've never had that type of delay. Up until this year Minnesota has prompted drivers to get in the correct lane some miles before being forced to. This year they've put up signs asking drivers to use both lanes and merge at the last point. I can't help but wonder if there is a connection.)
So we were late but timing wasn't terribly important. We got to the reunion and saw bunches of family. (To those concerned, Montana is just fine.) Relia played with Pop-pop (my dad) and had a wonderful time. She was very adament about sitting at an adult chair to eat, even though the table was at eye level. She also enjoyed 'sharing' my chocolate cake.
Then we made a quick run over to the Bremner's to drop off a gift. They have 17 children now (possible number may be as low as six) and they loved Relia. She was quickly swept into their maelstorm and ran around. It also seemed like she hugged any kid that was near her although the images flashed by rather quickly. I chatted with Steve and Micah and took some time convincing their youngest son Peter that we had the same name.
We left Austin very late. Shared a bit of food and made our way back north. She fell asleep about twenty minutes in. Breezed through the construction area with no real delay. (Those poor suckers going southbound were backed up about two and a half miles.) Relia woke as we pulled up to the house but we quickly popped her into bed.
A good (but long) day.

2009 Hugo Award for Best Novel

goes to 'The Graveyard Book' by Neil Gaiman. I've heard that it's very good. And will dutifully put it on my list.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturn's Children - Stross

(This is another nominee for this year's Hugo for Best Novel.)

Back in the 40's, Isaac Asimov created the Laws of Robotics. There are three laws and they're designed to make certain that robots serve humanity and strive to never injure them. Asimov used the laws to make an entertaining set of short stories that look at how these laws effect interaction between men and robots.
Stross has created a world (set a few centuries in the future) in which robots are commonplace and mankind has somehow become extinct (the details are fuzzy on this). The book is told from the viewpoint of an escort android. She misses humanity and whenever she comes across a lifelike replica she becomes weak in the knees from her programmed desire.
'Saturn's Children' is also a fairly involved tribute to the Heinlein novel 'Friday'. Many of the details are obviously nods to the earlier book. If you liked 'Friday' (and I certainly did) this book will give you plenty of warm fuzzies.
Another interesting aspect of the book is that Stross writes with slow interplanetary travel. As the characters move from planet to planet the trips take months and years to complete. Each trip has somewhat different methods and the results are facsinating.
The plot is complex and purposefully confusing. The tone is somewhat noirish and very well done. Overall it's a very good book.

Cruise (sigh)

It's been brought to my attention that one year ago today we were boarding our Alaskan cruise. Man, I wish we were leaving again today...

Anathem - Stephenson

(I've been writing quite a bit about Hugo winning novels this year. The 2009 Hugo winner will be announced tomorrow so I thought I'd look at the two nominated books that I've actually read.)

I reviewed 'Anathem' last year. You can go back and read the whole thing but the thumbnail review is that I liked it. The phrase I used was 'deeply rewarding' and I still think that. The book has wandered back into my thoughts every now and then ever since I read it. If it wins it'll certainly be well deserved.
The other day I got heads up that someone had made a trailer for the book. The result looks a bit amateurish but all of the scenes are true to the book.

Stephenson writes loooong books and the endings aren't always strong. This one was worth it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

John Hughes, RIP

This is kind of a surprise.
Writer-director John Hughes, Hollywood's youth impresario of the 1980s and '90s who captured the teen and preteen market with such favorites as "Home Alone," "The Breakfast Club" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," died Thursday, a spokeswoman said. He was 59.
Apparently his doctor gave him an overdose of anesthesia. Just joking! He actually suffered a heart attack. (And yes I feel a little bad for making a joke of his death...)
Hughes was a pretty big deal back in the 80's. He directed:
  • Sixteen Candles - 1984
  • Breakfast Club - 1985
  • Weird Science - 1985
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off - 1986
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles - 1987
  • She's Having a Baby - 1988
  • Uncle Buck - 1989
  • Curly Sue - 1991
Man, try and pick a favorite out of that group. If forced, I'd probably go with 'Ferris' but all of the top six are pretty darn good. That was quite a run.

Where in the World scoreboard (Updated)

Maybe the pictures I picked for week one were too hard. Sorry about that! Results so far (though I'm sure there will be updates!).

1) Ayers Rock (a great picture here, not a good one for this contest though)
2) Oracle at Delphi
3) Obelisk, Buenos Aires
4) The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
5) Torres del Paine, Chile

Which means that Carrie starts out with a point. The new pics pop next Monday at noon. I think it's an easier set, so do give them a look.
Updated: We now have three points for T. Herring and one point for Michelle.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

"Hi, Kids!"

Relia changes so much, so quickly and everyday. It really is quite amazing. One of her latest things is that she recognizes younger people as 'kids'.
Today I picked her up from daycare. When she saw me she ran over and gave me a big hug. I told her to say goodbye. She turned and said, "Goodbye, kids!". Very strange. I'm not sure if she thinks of herself as a 'kid' or not. (Maybe I'll try to find out tomorrow...)
Mostly this is cute but there is room for awkwardness. The house next to ours is a rental with two units. There are usually two hispanic families living there. She thinks of all the teenage(?) boys as 'kids'. I hope they're ok with that...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Football pool(s)

With football (finally) approaching, it's time for me to invite all of you into a pair of football pools. The more players, the better so if you're on the fence do yourself a favor and play. Even people in Germany can play.

The first pool is the one where you pick the winner of each football game. After you select the winner, you assign confidence points to each game. Simply click here and follow the instructions to sign up. A free Yahoo account is necessary. The group ID # is 5911 and the password is 'favreless'.

The second one is a Survivor pool. Every week you pick one team. If that team wins you survive to the next week. If they lose, you're done. The last person still picking wins the pool. The sign up is similar, click here to sign up. The group ID # is 2289 and the password is 'probst'.

The Retro Hugos

The Hugo Award is given annually to the best science fiction/fantasy novel published in that year. It's awarded by the participants at each year's World SF Convention. The voters are somewhat self selected as it costs money to be a participant. The result is a voting pool that numbers in the hundreds.
The first award was given in 1953. At the time they thought it would be a one time deal and they discontinued it. After the 1954 convention they decided that they missed it and brought it back in 1955 on a permanent basis.
Apparently there was some regret, both for the missed year and for the years before they started awarding it. And that's how the Retro Hugo was born. It was decided that a convention could award a book from 50, 75 or 100 years earlier as long as no Hugo had been awarded in that year. Got it? To date there have only been three awarded for Best Novel. In '96 they awarded one for the year of '46. The other two were for '51 and '54.
Apparently it's somewhat controversial. Critics feel that historical reputation has unfairly clouded the process. Not surprisingly, I disagree. I think we know the selections better now than we did then and have a better chance of picking the best one. Let's take a look (link goes to Wikipedia page with winners and other nominees).

For 1946 they awarded the Hugo to 'The Mule'. I thought that the award was more of a stand in for the series as a whole. Looking at the other noms I don't see any obvious snub. I haven't read any of the other four so I can't speak directly to value.
The 1951 vote went to 'Farmer in the Sky'. I'm a big Heinlein fan but I never once thought of this novel as an award winner. This one beat out some classic Asimov and part of the Lensmen stories. The biggest snub in my book was that it also beat out 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'. I don't think they got this one right.
In 1954 they gave the vote to 'Fahrenheit 451'. An important book to be sure, but I think you have to strain to fit it under the science fiction heading. It beat out 'Childhood's End'. That wouldn't have been the way I voted. That's more because it better fits the genre than a quality judgment though.

The idea of the Retro Hugo seems to have fallen a bit out of favor. I'm a little curious if they'll revive it for the 2011 convention so that they can go back and look at 1936. That was the year that a little book called 'The Hobbit' was published...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Where in the World 1

Pic 1

Pic 2

Pic 3

Pic 4

Pic 5

Good luck. Try to ease into it...

Happy Birthday Mom

I hope that the next your next 39 years are as fun as the first set.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Where in the World Contest 2

You probably remember this contest from this spring. I'll requote the rules:
Every Monday at noon for the next eight weeks I've got a scheduled post with five of the pictures on it. Each one has a number with it. Your job is to leave your guess in the comment section. First person with a correct guess gets a point (and I will keep score). The winner gets an actual prize.
(And now you can see what the prize is.) The posts will go up on Monday, starting tomorrow with scoreboard updates on Thursdays. Last time I stole the pictures from work. This time I thunk up the whole list on my own. My co-workers are eligible to play this time although the FP Gal is still outlawed.
Michell, I'm also going to restrict you a bit to make it more competitive. Please don't answer until the Thursday scoreboard posts. So that should give everyone else 72 hours to hunt down the pictures.
I've tried to mix difficulty levels and include some easy ones in each set. Use of Google is just fine (and almost certainly necessary for some of them). Unfortunately, no one is paying me to show you beautiful spots and encouraging you to go there. (If any corporate suits read this and want to change that, drop me a note in the comments!)
Remember to have fun. And good luck!

Where in the World Prize

Yes, I'm finally putting this up. The new contest starts soon and I thought I should completely clear decks before moving on to that one. Belatedly, congratulations Michelle! (Hope you weren't expecting any large to-do...)

So here goes...
  • You like Paul Simon, this is probably my favorite of his tunes and it's pretty nicely done live. This song is probably more in line with the spirit of the contest though. (Oddly, so is this.)
  • How relaxing does this look? You could pitch a tent right near by it. And you might see some of these.
  • This looked pretty good to me.
  • You've probably seen this already but it was a first for me. Certainly more relaxing than this...
  • Does any of this seem familiar from your life? It looks a bit stressful and I can see why you'd try and temper the malevolence.
Thanks for playing!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Chair of Trouble

Even though she's gone today, I thought I'd share another Relia tidbit.

The FP Gal has a small white chair, maybe 16 inches high. It's absolutely the perfect size for our little girl. Normally it sits by our coffee table. Often she sits there and eats breakfast. It suits her perfectly.
Maybe too perfectly. It suffers from one problem. It wanders all over the house. That chair somehow moves from place to place and it leads our little angel into temptation. We call it 'The Chair of Trouble'.
We're trying to get the chair to stay in the living room. But it's a hard lesson to learn. Just the other day we saw it floating into the kitchen with our dear daughter trying valiantly to hold it in place. It somehow led her right to the licorice on the counter.
The Chair has been quiet this weekend. But we know it's only waiting. And when the time comes, it will go astray. Oh yes it will...

Date Nights, 1 & 2

To update all of you on our last couple of nights...

My dear mother asked to take our darling girl for the weekend. We heartily agreed and dropped her off yesterday afternoon. Mom bought her a cute little watering can/elephant and told us she was going to enlist her aid in watering the plants.
Then we checked into a hotel for the night and decided to go see a movie. We went to 'Funny People'. Short review: some good spots but much too long. Also, more genitalia jokes than you can shake a stick at.
Dinner at Macaroni Grill. We sat on the patio and it was a very nice night. One side effect of our very cool summer is the incredibly nice evenings. Last night was one of them and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The only downside was that our room didn't have a fridge for the leftovers. So we did a quick spin past our house to drop off some food and then back to the hotel.
At the hotel we came back into contact with expanded cable. It was so nice that the FP Gal is already thinking of upping the package again. Then a thunderstorm rolled in and we got a very nice show. Did I mention that our room was on the 17th floor? We had a front row seat for a nice heavy rain and the occasional flash and boom. We loved it.
Back to the house today where we spent a Relia free day. The FP Gal put her nose to the grindstone (as is her wont) and I watched the White Sox beat the Yankees (as is mine). Tonight we went bowling. We got a two hour deal with a flat price and we bowled till our wrists were sore. Somehow I scored 122 points each game. Kind of freaky.
Now we're back home. In the morning we can lay in own bed for as long as want (kitties willing). Doesn't that sound nice?