Saturday, October 31, 2009
(yes, she did)
We chose the FP Gal's parent's neighborhood, in part so we could take her over there in costume. I'm sure the whole experience is just surreal for her. We walk up to strange houses, ring their doorbells and then they fawn over her cuteness and give her candy. I'm curious what she'll ask to go back to those houses and see if it works again.
We don't give her a lot of candy so this was a special treat for her. We'll try to ration the haul to keep her from getting sick. And . . . we just might thin the bounty ourselves. These are the lengths we're willing to go to for our daughter.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
At least that's what I was afraid of. Movie scariness is a tricky thing with toddlers. For dramatic purposes there must be some conflict and it's not always clear what will be too much. 'Nemo' is basically about a kidnapping and she doesn't seem to have any issues with it. We've also been watching 'The Jungle Book' which is about a tiger that wants to eat a boy. Not only is she ok with it, she roots for the tiger!
'Spirited Away' opens with a small girl whose parents suddenly turn into pigs. She must find her way through a magical and unpredictably dangerous world in order to try and save them. Relia seemed to be fine with it. She's happily watching it again right now.
I'm finding the whole age appropriate question a little difficult. Modern children's shows are insipid. She can watch them but they are uniformly timid. When do you increase the risk factor? I'm not sure. She seems to be ok with what we've picked so far but I'm still not sure. Maybe we never will be.
She better take some good naps tomorrow...
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Dear Mr. 8C:
The whole thing is worth reading. Now most seasoned travelers are nice, of course. They understand the vagaries of air travel when it comes to things like delays and sold out upgraded class seating. But the bad ones? Holy cats, they're awful! There is something about assumed privilege that turns full grown adults into the worst possible children.
I'm sorry your Silver Elite status on Northwest Airlines didn't qualify you for a first-class upgrade on your recent flight from New York to Minneapolis. All of us, your fellow passengers, shared in the incredulity you expressed so vocally to the gate agent when informed that you would be flying coach.
The subsequent announcement that our departure would be delayed clearly inconvenienced you alone. Your expletive-laden denouncement of the airlines, while unsettling to many of those standing near to you, was an opinion that you obviously deemed necessary to share with all within earshot. It is shocking that the airlines would let a little thing like a mechanical problem with the plane interfere with your very important schedule. Trust me, we all heard you when you said how (expletive omitted) upset you were.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Really, they are. It goes something like this. They want to be fed first thing in the morning (and afternoon, evening, holidays, etc.). If they can wake one of us up then they get fed. The FP Gal is good at sleeping through their nonsense but I must sleep more lightly. For awhile their strategy was to howl in the hallway. I'd be afraid that they'd wake Relia and get up to feed them. Because waking Relia is what it's all about.
We can ignore them but we can't really ignore baby screams. When she wakes up, we're up. At some point that will change but for now it's true. So if they can wake her by howling then we have to get up and they get fed.
For a while I tried locking Ozzie in a different room but he has to have litter box access or things go badly. Then we started closing our bedroom door but that brought two problems. We like having the kitties sleep on us. And Sana can sometimes open the door all on her own. Smart kitties aren't necessarily a good thing.
This weekend they added a wrinkle. They opened up Relia's door. Saturday morning the FP Gal woke to hear Relia talking to the cats. She caught up with her trying to feed them downstairs. Very clever, no?
This morning they tried something a bit different. Relia whimpered a bit and called out for me around 5a. I sat up and started to dress. She quieted and I got back into bed. The kitties asked me to get up but I ignored them. So they went to work on her door again. She must have thought that one of us was coming in and soon enough Relia was trying to open the door on her end. Mission accomplished and I had to get up.
At some point she'll be able to get up, get her own breakfast and find an episode of Sesame St on the Tivo. Until then the kitties have us at their mercy. Ugh.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Remember last week when I thought that the teams were going to the Atlantis hotel in the Bahamas? Well, guess what, apparently there is an Atlantis hotel in Dubai too! Learn something new everyday. Yep, for this episode they all stay put in Dubai.
First off each team had to choose a briefcase and go to a yacht club. Then one member would row a small rubber boat out to one of the yachts and receive a 'treasure' and then row back to shore. This 'treasure' would give them a clue to help open the briefcase. What they got was a watch and they had to enter the time in as the combination. Unfortunately our favorite team, the Globetrotters, had trouble translating this and they let several teams pass them.
Next up was a choice of tasks. Each team could either put together 12 different hookah pipes or they could go to a money exchange and weigh out exactly $500,000 worth of gold. The hookah pipes took a great deal of detail work. Each team that went there became frustrated.
I would have chosen the gold without any hesitation. You simply divide 500,000 by the current price and put that on the scale. The trick was that the exchange rate changes every minute. This shouldn't have been a huge problem because the fluctuations are small and you wouldn't have to make big changes.
This section was very frustrating for me to watch. One team went there and couldn't figure out the math. So they went off to the hookahs where they could screw up in a different way. One team was smart enough to bring a calculator. A different team, the poker players, breezed through this and took another team along under their wing.
The last task was to go down a long waterslide at the Atlantis. The slide is steep and it passes through a tube that goes through shark filled water. The entire ride might last five seconds and it's completely and utterly safe. Unfortunately for one of this week's teams, it was too scary. The sixth team of the seven remaining featured a girl who just wouldn't go down. Her boyfriend didn't help. He tried to force her down, using actual force. He yelled at her and made her fears even worse. This opened the door for the trailing Globetrotters and they used it to move past them and take the last spot.
I'm trying to have some sympathy for the eliminated team but I really don't. Of all the fears that people have had to overcome on this show, 'waterslides' is by far the wussiest. If you can't close your eyes and spend five seconds on a public attraction you simply don't deserve to win the money.
I've purchased the MLB equivalent for many years because my favorite team plays in a different market. Never really tempted to buy the football one because a) it's really expensive and b) I can still watch a huge (virtually unhealthy) amount of football on local TV and cable.
Unfortunately, the local affiliates are working hard to change my mind. Right now there are two games on both right around the end of the third quarter. One is 38-3 and the other is 31-0. For the love of Goodell, switch to a different game! Last week they stuck with the Patriots 59-0 game all the way to the bitter end. Apparently there is no point at which they just declare a random out of town game as a blowout and move on.
Maybe I need a good sports bar.
Update: The FP Gal has solved the problem by turning the channel to a home design show.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
My dad and Relia:
Dad: How are you?
Relia: Pretty good.
(later) Dad: How old are you?
Relia: Pretty old.
FP Gal calls to me, Relia repeats it.
Me: Are you in a repeating phase?
Relia: (pause) I'm Relia!
I used to be a B&N nut. I've worked between four and five years worth at various stores and it would be top of my list if I ever needed to dip my foot back in the part time pool. But over the last year I've almost stopped shopping there completely. Amazon is much more convenient. Their interface of recommendations and reviews is more user friendly. And it's easy enough to avoid shipping costs. B&N's prices on music and movies are generally much too high.
If my shopping experience is typical then the store is in big, big trouble.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Anyway . . . we drove down to see him. We got there and Relia ran around his house, chasing his cat Missy. She got some cookies (we're too mean to give her any) and played with Grandma's stuffed toys. We took a quick spin through town and saw Aunt Donna (hi!).
Off to lunch and we had Chinese buffet. Relia liked the lo mein noodles, the raisins and the ice cream. Oh, and the dumplings. She didn't care for the beans or the constant requests to sit down.
Next was Oak Park Mall. It's a ghost town, but ghost towns have their advantages. In this case I was hoping for a place where she could run around without cold or crowds. Problem solved! Speaking of empty spaces, I had an idea for the mall. I think they should open it on Saturday nights for roller skating. Think of the speed you could build up on the long straight-a-ways. Whee!
Back to the cities. She slept the whole way, I wished I could. It was a very fun day.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The leading idea seems to be a video montage of all of his interceptions. I love this for two reasons, a) I had the same idea for when he broke the touchdown record while playing against the Vikes and 2) I'd love to watch so many Packer failures. It's a win-win! Please (please oh please oh please) do this, ok?
I'm a little bothered by the Favre praise going on here in Viking land. He has played very well and for that I'm thankful. Watching awful quarterbacking for the last four or five years has shown just how incredible superior play can be. And it is wonderful to watch. But I'm not a Favre fan and I won't be one anytime soon. Why?
A couple of weeks back, after the Monday game when the Vikes beat the Packers the Sports Guy ran this exchange in a mailbag:
Favre really has handled this whole situation incredibly badly. A great stretch of football shouldn't obscure that. Yes, I'll cheer for the team (and the quarterback play in general) but Favre isn't any kind of hero and I'm not going to treat him like one.
Q: I am 19 years old. I have been a fan of Favre and the Packers since the third grade. I grew up thinking Favre could do no wrong. As a mature 17-year-old, I cried the day he retired from the Packers. I was tolerant of the Jets experiment -- even have the jersey to prove it. But what am I supposed to do now? Tonight I watched my childhood hero stomp all over the team and the fans he represented for 16 years. I found myself cursing him for the very same reasons I used to love him. The phony TD celebrations, the smug smiles, the way he hams it up with his new teammates and his new fans. I don't know how to handle it. I started this e-mail thinking I had something to say about all of this, but I just feel lost. I don't know what to think anymore ... I'm just lost.
--Drew, Bloomington, Ind.
SG: And that's the part of Monday's game that got lost. Every Packers fan felt like how a dutiful wife would feel if she stuck with her husband through thick and thin, watched him become a success, then got dumped for a younger trophy wife who also happened to be her archnemesis. Favre failed in the same way Roger Clemens failed when he signed with the Blue Jays in 1997 -- his problems with management affected his feelings toward his old franchise, and he did a piss-poor job of letting his old fan base know that he still cared about it. I have written about this before, but I turned on Clemens during his Toronto news conference when he simply refused to acknowledge Boston fans beyond a few generic words. It hurt. I took it personally and decided he was an opportunistic, disloyal, dishonest scumbag from that moment on. And as it turned out, he was.
In Favre's case, his lack of empathy for Packers fans has been really alarming. I know he plays with his heart on his sleeve. I know he's a "kid out there" and "having a ball out there" and all the crap. And maybe he's not a brain surgeon, but he's smart enough to understand what he meant to Packers fans and the state of Wisconsin, which means he had to understand how it went over after he (A) signed with an NFC North team two months ago; (B) dialed up the finger-pointing and fist-pumping during Monday's Pack-Vikes game so egregiously that even his biggest fan fron Green Bay couldn't defend him; and (C) gave that self-satisfied postgame interview in which he never said anything like, "I just wanted to say hi to everyone back in Wisconsin and tell them that this was as strange for me as it probably was for you, but I want you to know that it was just one game -- a game that I wanted to win because I'm a competitor and I love my teammates, but still, none of this changes the fact that I love you guys and I always will." That's it. That's all he had to say to Michele Tafoya after the game.
He didn't say it.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I've got my story picked out for the year. I'll probably post the first few pages on Nov 1. Should be fun and I hope some of you will take the plunge.
A few weeks ago Amazing Race had one of their wettest episodes in memory. Tonight they went to the desert. That's right, Dubai baby! The city that makes Vegas look dull and unimaginative. The opening clue was a fun one as teams were told to fly to the Persian Gulf and find the tallest building in the world. I wonder if teams weren't clued in on the Persian Gulf if they would have ended up somewhere else. Also fun, one of the teams showed up at the airport and asked for a ticket to the Persian Gulf. That's the order that every travel agent dreams of!
All teams ended up on the same plane so the only race here had to do with who could find the clue box. The first four teams got the first elevator ride up and the second four got to go up fifteen minutes later. The building is the Burj Dubai, of course, and it is ridiculously tall. And unfinished. And the Tower of Babel comparisons are pretty obvious.
Most of the teams were then sent out into the desert to a challenge that involved finding semi-buried jugs of water. It looked pretty brutal. More brutal (though better for viewers at home) was the driving of this seasons most annoying couple. They got lost. And lost again. And ended up well behind everyone.
Next came a challenge that showcased one of the strangest bits of Dubai. Their enormous indoor ski slopes. Yep, 130 degrees outside and 28 degrees inside. Whee! Contestants were given the choice of finding a small snowman ornament in a huge pile of snow or carrying snow outside and building a snowman of their own. (We would have chosen to build. You control your fate and packed snow doesn't melt very quickly.)
Then on to the pit stop and (hooray!) the annoying team was eliminated. In the background you could see the Burj al Arab, which I blogged about here. I had hoped they would include it in this trip but it wasn't to be. The place is really outstanding to look at. It looks like next week they go to the Bahamas and the Atlantis hotel. Which would be weird because then they would skip Europe. Guess I'll just have to wait and see!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
On Friday, the National Weather Service confirmed that there has never been a colder first two weeks of the month. Typically the average high temperature for the Twin Cities during Oct. 1-14 is 63 degrees, but this year the average high temperature was only 47 degrees, or 16 degrees below average. That breaks the old mark of 52 degrees set back in 1875.Frankly, that's insane. And it's kind of screwing everyone up. Halloween is in two weeks and it isn't on anyone's mind. The leaves really didn't turn this year. They're dropping off the trees while green. Very strange.
It's also the seventh snowiest October in recorded history. What else? One of the top ten wettest ever. And we still have two weeks left.
Sure hope this isn't a sign of things to come...
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tonight, after her bath we were getting her dressed for bed. She became very upset and with tears in her eyes started crying, "I'm happy! I'm happy! I'm happy!". Poor thing.
(For the record, she was out very quickly tonight. She really was tired. Maybe happy too.)
That brings Relia's cousin count to four. Someday we'll get them all together. That will be a good day.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
On a related note, the word 'temperature' makes her cry out and keep her bottom covered. We're trying to use a replacement word, 'Gumby'. This makes sense to the FP Gal for some reason. I'd say that Gumby's horse has the more. . . appropriate name.
Anyway, we're on the mend. Regular posting should occur tonight.
Monday, October 12, 2009
On the plus side, it wasn't that cold, probably right around freezing. I'll take the snow over the cold any day. Of course, this is pretty early to make that kind of compromise...
Sunday, October 11, 2009
When we last saw our racers they were in Ho Chi Minh City. This week's episode opened with news that they'd be traveling to Sean Penn, er Phnom Penh. The teams arrived at the airport with news that the next available flight didn't leave for some 16 or 17 hours. On our couch, we call this a 'bunching point' as the very long delay lets everyone catch up and the teams bunch together. High drama this week as the last two teams couldn't get on the same flight but were instead waitlisted for a flight a couple of hours later. At the last possible minute, they were allowed on so everyone arrived at the same time.
(Two possibly interesting things here. The distance between the two cities is about 130 miles. Did the clue say that they had to fly and couldn't drive? Don't remember and I'm too lazy to rewind the DVR.
Second thing, each team must actually secure four seats. Two for them and one for each the sound person and cameraman. They reshoot all of the airport sequences with the ticketing agents so that it looks like they only get two. That means that the airline must have cleared 5-8 seats at the last second. The plane looked small, less than 100 passengers. And that means I'm calling production crew trickery on this episode!)
Each team had to go to the Foreign Correspondent Club (which made me think of this) and find the right man to whisper to. Then he gave them a picture of a woman in a car and told them to find a hotel suite named after her. Yikes! We loved this task. The FP Gal immediately saw that it was Jackie O. I think I would have come up with her name. Anyway... it was tough because they had to rely on the locals. That shuffled the order of the teams quite well. Actually, all of the tasks did a good job of shuffling. We thought it was a pretty good set.
A racing first [update: the FP Gal reminds me that this happened just last season too] this week as one team lost a passport and was disqualified. A really bad break as they would have won this leg otherwise. Note to future racers, take a taxi whistle and a passport pouch to hang around your neck. And a list of airport hubs. Trust me on that one.
We were disappointed with the last season but we've loved this one so far. There is only one team that we're actively rooting against (though I'm sure others will volunteer their services). The locations have been interesting and the tasks have been fun. There are good people all over this season (especially the Globetrotters). This just further cements it as our favorite show.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
For instance when I'm driving the car she'll ask what I'm doing. I tell her that I'm driving. A few minutes later she asks again. (Interestingly enough, whenever she asks the FP Gal what she's doing the answer always seems to be 'cleaning'.)
Anyway, I've developed a strategy. The second time she asks me I simply reverse the question. I ask her what I'm doing. That seems to satisfy her. Sometimes I mix it up and ask her what she's doing. From this I've learned that she somehow drives her car seat.
For some reason I really, really expect that the 'whys?' are on the way. That's when all that sciencey reading will come in handy. And wikipedia. Yep, I'm ready.
'Moon' is set in a futuristic penal colony (such as the English used in Australia) based on the moon. Or perhaps it's better described as 'in' the moon as the populace lives in tunnels carved out for that purpose. The largest ones are used to grow crops in and the excess is shipped to Earth with an enormous catapult. The colonists (Loonies) have become accustomed to the much lower lunar gravity and can only survive on Earth with great difficulty.
Heinlein uses this setting to create a story of revolution, in many ways resembling the American revolution. It masterfully explores the mechanics of revolt and the process of building a government from scratch. It's widely hailed as a libertarian masterpiece.
The book is written as first person, a computer tech named Manuel, and it's told in a lingo that borrows heavily from Russian and Australian dialect. It features a sentient computer who is exploring the concept of humor. Most importantly, it has an old man, Professor Bernardo de la Paz, a self described rational anarchist. His description:
"A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as 'state' and 'society' and 'government' have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame. . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world. . . aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure."De la Paz is the intellectual heart of the novel. His thoughts on the role of government are nothing short of fascinating. He asks, "Under what circumstances is it moral for a group to do that which is not moral for a member of that group to do alone?". This, he says, is the key question of government. Only after you answer it honestly and are willing to abide by the consequences of your answer do you know where you stand.
Another important aspect of this novel is the commonly used Loonie phrase, TANSTAAFL, or There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. In other words, everything is paid for somehow. Value must be given for value. Some cases of this are surprising. The society as a whole is very different than our current one.
'Moon' isn't a perfect novel. All fictional societies break down if you look hard enough for the flaws. This is no exception. But that description quickly breaks into quibbles and nitpicks and frankly, the big questions presented here deserve full and honest answers.
This is a great book.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Toy Story 2
A Bug's Life
Hmmm, not quite how I would do it but I see part of the problem. When I try to do this on my own I get a five way tie for first. I loved most of these, liked the rest (and still haven't seen 'A Bug's Life). What an amazing run they've had!
Thursday, October 08, 2009
- Changes in wardrobe as we try and find jackets and sweaters from last spring. This year we're trying to convince Relia that she can't wear her pink flip-flops anymore. She doesn't believe us.
- Putting the flannel sheets and electric blanket on the bed. Every year the FP Gal turns to me and tells me I'm a genius for getting the sheets.
- A serious hankering to watch 'Dead Poet's Society'. Is there any more Fall movie than that one?
- Blankets back on the couch. That means a burrowing Ozzie. And nice warm feet while reading. (Never have had a cave dwellin' cat like Ozzie. It's wonderful.)
- Start shopping for stews and heavy soups.
- Try and figure out when to cut the lawn for the last time.
- Leaving earlier in the morning to scrape frost off of the car. Ugh.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
I'm going to open with U2's 'Miami'. Who else wants to play?
Please to answer the following question:You have the ability to expunge one song from the history of your favorite musical artist. Name the artist and song.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
- So...this Favre guy, I guess he can kind of play, huh? I didn't want him in the offseason, I still don't want to cheer for him but it's so nice to watch some great play from the quarterback position.
- Relatedly, any gifts of a Favre jersey will be destroyed or given away. Please take note.
- Love those throwback jerseys!
- Parts of the defense played very well last night but I question the overall scheme from last night. The front four got plenty of pressure on their own. When the Vikes blitzed, the Packers made big plays. Man, they rushed well!
- Also, the corners played too far off of the Packer receivers. Their receivers are very good in space so you should try and stay close to them from the beginning. No wonder they gave up so many yards.
- I'm not sure why a team with a great running game can't run out the clock but they really couldn't. Don't know if they just didn't adjust the play calling to take advantage of a sellout defense or what but it looked bad. Last night the Vikes should have stayed in their standard offense for at least one more drive.
- In fact, this offense seems to thrive on passing to open up the run. When they do that, they look pretty unstoppable.
- The Vikes clearly looked like the better team. Their offense was more consistent. The defense got much better pressure. They played a more disciplined game. This one wasn't quite as close as the score showed.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Earlier today the FP Gal made some frosting for a project of mine. The whole afternoon was a bit chaotic. Her folks were over. There was much baking and frosting in the kitchen. There was an unbelievable amount of snack food wandering around the house. And to cap it off, we got a preview of the NFL Redzone channel (one where they constantly switch to the most exciting game).
This was Relia's second day in a row with large amounts of family and she was pretty darn tired. Quick to tantrum. Very unclear about what she wanted. Tears and yelling at the drop of a hat. And then she was quiet.
After about a minute the FP Gal and I looked at each other and called for her. I found her in the kitchen. At the garbage can. Where she fished out the green frosting and was enjoying it. We got to her before it became too widespread.
One of the reasons why I love the FP Gal is her reaction to this type of situation. I called to her and she came right away. Didn't get the least bit mad, immediately saw the humor in the whole deal. After seeing out little Hulk, she quickly held her hands so I could run and get the camera. (The FP Gal will either post it or insert it into my blog I'm sure.)
Well...it was bath night anyway, right?
I love this type of episode. Tonight's episode took place mainly in Ho Chi Minh City. Each race starts with the teams separated by the same time amounts in which they finished the previous leg. This time there was only a 45 minute space between the first and last teams. That makes it nice and tight.
Being in Vietnam, everyone faced a significant language barrier. The Amazing Race people played off that well as most of the directions were subtle, confusing or in Vietnamese. The trick to this type of episode is to keep your wits about you, make good decisions and have good relations with the locals. The teams that could do this did well. If not, they sank.
The second to last couple screwed up all of these things. They charged around without direction. Their pride in their ability (horribly overwrought) kept them from figuring out clues and solving problems. If they don't learn some very quick lessons they will be eliminated next week. Frankly, good riddance.
Fun tasks? The first thing they did was go to a water dragon puppet theater. Doesn't that sound fun? Later they had to haul big ceramic animals across a park on dollies. Again, much fun!
The couple that got eliminated were a very nice older couple. They took a bit too long to do things. They wasted time trying to unscramble a Vietnamese word instead of getting local help. Eventually, they came in last. It's sad because they are very sweet, but races are about winning and losing and you just can't dither.
She liked it a lot. Didn't understand much (probably) but that's ok. The movie opens with Nemo's mother, Coral, getting eaten by a barracuda. There were lots of 'where's Coral' questions and that made me wonder if the movie was ok for her. But she accepted my explanation that she 'went with the bigger fish'. I think her favorite part was the sea turtles though that could be projection.
The FP Gal tried 'Monsters Inc' with her. She pays attention but her main focus is 'where baby go?', as in 'where is Boo?'. I think she enjoys it.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Relatedly, here is a post from Shysterball who looked up some of the news coverage that the Metrodome got when the Twins started playing there in '82. Click through to find out what perk then owner Griffith mentioned that the private boxes would include. Let's just say that a modern owner wouldn't have said this.
Lots of history at the Metrodome, to be sure, but they really are moving to a better place.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Pic 13, Azadi Tower, Tehran Iran
Pic 15, Marquesas Islands
Pic 25, Drakensberg Mts in South Africa (and this picture probably wasn't distinctive enough to find, mea culpa!)
Pic 34, Plaza Indepencia, Montevideo Uruguay