Saturday, July 31, 2010

Worst Movie Year Ever?

That is what this article in the WSJ asks. I read it nodding my head in agreement the whole time. An excerpt:
Go into a movie theater any day of the week and watch as the audience sits listlessly through a series of lame, mechanical trailers for upcoming films that look exactly like the D.O.A. movies audiences avoided last week. More films about misunderstood mercenaries. More films about rogue cops. More films about the pivotal role of choreography in rescuing the underclass from its own worst instincts. More movies about congenial thugs from South Boston. More films about boys who do not want to grow up, ever, ever, ever.

More movies about cats.

That is the thing for me, it's not that I've seen so many bad movies this year. It's that there have been so few movies that even wanted to see. And so many others that I've shuddered while watching their commercials. Ugh.
Let's hope that the last five months improve.


While explaining to Relia that Felix won't be wearing panties...

Me: Boys don't wear panties like girls do. Girls get fancy underwear. Boys just wear plain underwear.
Relia: But! Felix will be a girl someday!

Son, you'll be wearing a dress sometime in the next few years. Your sister will make sure of that.

2010 Hugo Nominees

I've read and reviewed all six of this year's nominees:

The City & the City
Julian Comstock
The Windup Girl

I think that the actual voting happens soon so I thought I'd prepare my (admittedly nonfunctional) ballot. I'm going to do this lifeboat style by eliminating the bottom book until only one is left.
The first one off of the list is 'Wake'. It was easily the weakest of the six. And I really, really hope that Robert Sawyer's fans don't nominate each of the rest of the series.
Next one off is 'Boneshaker'. It's a fine book for what it is and a fun read. But it's not really a strong book and I think that the sheer fadishness (zombies+steampunk) will age it badly.

The first two out are easy but now it gets a bit tougher. I wouldn't be upset if any of the other four won the Hugo. Surprised in some cases but not really upset.
The next one out of my boat is 'City & the City'. It's a fine, fine book and possibly the best written of the books but I think that it just isn't fantasy or sci-fi and I would have to downgrade it for that reason. Still an excellent read though. (And it should be noted that my view is almost certainly a minority one.)
Next one out is 'Julian Comstock'. It might be the most fun of this year's nominees and that's worth something. But it's just not as good as the last two.
And I've gone back and forth on those two ever since I've read them. If I was actually voting for the Hugo this year then the next one I'd eliminate is 'Windup Girl'. It was the most brutal and compelling book of the set. I went out and got the next book by this author ('Shipbreaker') and I think that's telling.
But the winner for me would be 'Palimpsest'. Based on the descriptions of the book I never would have guessed this outcome. I vastly prefer sci-fi to fantasy and this book easily could have devolved into something pretty icky. Instead it was clever and insistent.

Based on my amateur readings around the internet, my guess is that the award will come down to 'Windup Girl' or 'City & the City'. The award won't be announced until early September so it will take some time.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Don't click here unless you have some time to waste, ok?

You may be immune if you're not the slightest bit voyeuristic about other people's reading habits.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The word 'but' starts about 1/3 of every sentence from Relia. Even when it doesn't make sense. Perhaps especially when it doesn't make sense. Remember 'Conjunction Junction'? If not, here it is:

Well, she doesn't need three favorite cars. Only one. One super huge car with a big B U T on the side of it. It gives her conversations something of a aggressive tone.
Well, sometimes funny. Last week we were driving and talking about something like streets named after Presidents and she suddenly piped up from the back seat, "But my birthday is like Christmas!".

Which I suppose it is, come to think of it.

Kindle Review

I've had my Kindle for a week now and have finished a book with it. Don't remember if I mentioned it but I bought mine used and, surprisingly to me, it kept the books from the previous owner. He had twenty or so and one of them was on my 'to read' list. (The book is 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' and it won the Pulitzer for Best Fiction back in 2008. I'll review it separately at some point.)
So how was the Kindle?
  • The size and heft of the device isn't that different from a trade paperback. Holding it didn't feel wrong to my hands. Of course you can read one handed (which I did) and that's an improvement.
  • You turn the pages via large buttons on either side. As the page turns the screen flashes for an instant which took a little getting used to. This wasn't a minus for me but it was different.
  • The battery charge lasted a week before needing a charge. This can be improved to two weeks without interfering with reading by turning off the wireless connection. That's what I'll be doing usually.
  • On the very bottom of the screen it tells you what percentage of the book you've read. This is in place of page numbers. I wish I could toggle between the two but this is a pretty small complaint.
  • It has worked especially well for me since I can take it to work and back very easily. Yesterday I finished the one book and was able to jump right into a second one without any problem.
It's early but so far I'm very pleased with it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Gaggle of Guses

A couple of months ago Carrie had August. Yesterday my friend Jennifer had a boy named Augustus. When the FP Gal and I were throwing names around she really wanted a Gus but it lost out to Felix. Last week while scouting the back roads of SE Minnesota I learned that my great-great grandfather and his son were both named Augustine Valentine DeFor. In theory we could grab that name (and hang the snooty 'the third' on him).
That is a lot of Gus.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Write Like

Kate sent me a link to a site that analyzes writing samples and tells you who you write like. I put some of my story writing in and it compared me to J.D. Salinger. (Please, please, please if this is true and I come off like a whiny teenager, someone let me know so I can either change or stop writing.)
I ran across a blog post from Joe Posnanski (and as an aside, let me just say that if you enjoy great sports writing then you should bookmark him and read and read and read). In this post he took 12 of the most famous quotes in sports history and he runs it through the analyzer. With each one he also says a bit about the person and/or the quote. Absolutely great stuff.


My mom refers Saturday and Sunday as '15 minute weekends' and this seemed like one to me. Not sure why, since we (the FP Gal and I) really did have more time to ourselves than usual. But it takes an effort to remember the details.

Man, that paragraph makes me feel old...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Resolution Achieved

The FP Gal and I took advantage of a Relialess night to watch 'Casablanca'. You may recall that I resolved to have her watch it this year. A very enjoyable film and it was good to see it again.
I'm guessing that it's the most quotable movie ever. Or at least the oldest great quotable movie. More recent greats like 'Caddyshack' and 'Princess Bride' are decades younger. Actually, I'm trying to think of any movie made since 1970 that has provided quotes that other films used for a title like 'Casablanca' did for 'The Usual Suspects'. Can any of you think of one?


Sorry for the late posting yesterday. A combination of small things killed the time between waking and going to work. And then after work I went out to Afton State Park for an astronomy presentation from the U of M.
As an aside, don't ask Google for directions to a State Park. Or at least be a little bit skeptical and check up on it. Ran into a bit of trouble with road construction. That means two days in a row a trip to a State park was messed up with detours. I figured my way around this one and back on the plotted path. Which took me the side of the park, not anywhere near a real entrance. But I made it.
The presentation was well done for what it was. Two U of M grad students talked through a short slide-show about solar evolution. They were open to questions and the half dozen young boys in attendance kept them very busy. The students kept their cool which wasn't easy after the fourth time of being asked what would happen if you took a rocket into a black hole.
They had a telescope set up outside but clouds were starting roll in and we couldn't see much beside the full(ish) moon. Which really was a shame. I had hoped for some good deep sky objects.
Still it was a very welcome break from routine. Thanks to the FP Gal for giving me the night off! And maybe next time I'll have better sky luck.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Underwater Cave Photography

(Via Instapundit)
Not photos from today but really pretty stuff nonetheless.

Mystery Cave

The forecast today was for storms on and off so I dug deep into the 'want to' list to find us something to do. We went down to very SE Minnesota to one of the limestone caves. A quick call to my dad and he decided to join us.
Let me just admit up front that this was a bad idea. The drive was too long. The interesting parts were over her head. And a cave is one place where toddlers are forbidden from touching anything. As I said, a bad idea.
The first (extra) problem that we ran into was a bit of road construction and poor detour signage. That tacked on at least an extra half hour of driving. Possibly worse than that, Relia lost confidence that we actually knew where the cave was. Dad tried to smooth things over by asking her if she was ready to go 'spelunking'. She was adamantly against the whole idea of spelunking and insisted on going to the cave.
We finally got there after some dirt roads. Relia was happy when we got back to pavement or 'clean' roads. The entrance is tucked into a beautiful little valley which you reach after passing through a brief forest. Almost a postcard location. We arrived a full five minutes before the tour was ready to leave. It wasn't nearly enough time but we made it.
I warned her that she wouldn't be able to touch anything in the cave. The guide opened up the tour by repeating this point. He said we had oil on our hand that would hurt the rocks. Relia looked at her hand and said, "I have oil?". I told her that it was natural. I had it and so did Pop-pop. A moment later she held up her other hand and said, "Two oils!".
Inside didn't really go that smoothly. She didn't understand the formations. She was tired and wanted to be held but only by me. Increasingly, she became upset when the guide would stop to show us things. "Keep moving!" In her favor, she didn't touch the walls or the ceiling even once. Which is pretty amazing considering how arbitrary that rule must have seemed.
The cave is interesting. If you're thinking of a cave trip, it's a pretty good choice. The website is here if you want times and descriptions. Turquoise Lake was particularly beautiful.
And I should also note that Relia was better behaved than the other toddler on the trip who yelled for most of the second half. It just isn't a good choice for the real youngin's. Or we both chose nap time. Either way, please let this serve as a cautionary trip.

But maybe next year...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

75 Signs of a Bibliophile

Full list here. I only connect on 13 of them. So I'm going to suggest that the other 62 are largely pretentious twaddle. Or I'm not really a bibliophile.
Which 13? These:
  • 16, guilty as charged.
  • 20, don't know how anyone could disagree
  • 23, not sure that anyone would disagree here either
  • 32, I know enough to laugh at nasally Morissette but would be hard pressed to define well
  • 40, and I find them very enjoyable
  • 45, not to weeping but it does upset me
  • 47, though this might upset the FP Gal more
  • 49, not as bad as the spine thing; I'll forgive others but could never do it myself
  • 56, this is known by half of the known universe
  • 57, colour me guilty
  • 66, at least 2 though seldom as many as 4
  • 75, self defining point is self defining

The Power of Screams

Stumbled upon this bit of news recently. It's the story of a 67 year old woman who while boarding a plane had the misfortune of a toddler screaming into her ear. Apparently it was a particularly devastating scream because her ear started bleeding and she has claimed permanent hearing loss. What do you do in that situation? You sue the airline of course. Qantas responded in a reasonable manner:
Qantas' legal team countered that its staff could hardly be expected to know a child was going to scream."Plaintiff's injuries, if any, were caused by the arbitrary and volitional act of a three-year-old child. Flight attendants cannot predict when children aboard an aircraft are about to scream. There is no evidence that the child was screaming in the terminal, or on board the aircraft prior to the particular scream which allegedly caused the damage."

Seriously, how could you possibly hold the airline liable for this? Even if the toddler was upset in the airport before the flight could they have reasonably refused boarding? A screaming kid on a plane is every parent's nightmare but this turns the scare factor up even higher. Just imagine the lengths an airline would have to go to protect themselves. A ban on children would almost have to follow. Or some kind of forced sedation.
The litigant here really does seem like a piece of work. Here is part of an email of her's that came to light:
"I guess we are simply fortunate that my eardrum was exploding and I was swallowing blood," she allegedly wrote. "Had it not been for that, I would have dragged that kid out of his mother's arms and stomped him to death."

Man, I hope to never run into this lady.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My New Kindle

Yep, I caved and got a Kindle. Started looking around yesterday for a deal on Craigslist and found a good price. Enlisted the help of the FP Gal (and boy did she help!) and tonight I'm the proud owner of a new Kindle. I'll tell you what I think of it in a couple of days but my first look is a positive one.
Bullet points? Sure, why not:
  • Am I going to get rid of my paper books? Nope. Well, I may pare down on some of the poli-sci and lit books that I've collected over the years. But that's not really related to this purchase.
  • Will I stop buying paper books? I'll probably still shop used book stores. In fact I'm sure I will. But new books will be Kindle if I can. Or if I'm very certain that it's a 'keep for years' type book.
  • Are there any other times you'll buy a paper book? Yes. I can envision a time when I'd read something on the Kindle and decide that I want a permanent copy. Then I'd simply wait a few years and buy a used copy, or at least a paperback.
  • What finally pushed you to change? The portability actually. Many times lately I've been out of the house and wishing that I had a book to read. This is small enough that I can do that. Also I can go on a trip without packing thousands of pages worth of material.
  • Anything else? Yep. I've been reading more new stuff over the last couple of years. This will let me buy the new stuff for $9.99 (in lots of cases). In the past I would either pony up for the hardcover ($20+) or wait a year for the paperback. Now I can stay current.
With most purchases of more than $100 I feel anxious. This one feels pretty good.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Inception - 2010

Today marked the first time that I went to a theater to see a movie in about six months. I used to watch movies pretty regularly but not this year. Several things have contributed to this, parenthood most of all, but the biggest obstacle is that there have been very few movies that I've been excited to see. There have been a few that I kinda wanted to watch (Iron Man 2) and a few that I definitely want to see but will happily wait and watch them at home (Toy Story 3). 'Inception' is the first one that I really wanted to go out and watch with the whole theater experience.
I'll give a brief review. It's tough to talk about it with much specificity without spoiling the plot. Suffice it to say that I thought it was great. In some ways it's a mixture of 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' and 'the Matrix'. Well . . . better acting than 'the Matrix'. If you liked either of those movies and don't mind a somewhat confusing thriller then I'd encourage you to go out and see this.

The Lion Pees Tonight

We just had an impromptu safari in our house. Relia let me know that there was a lion downstairs and the only safe place was in her castle (aka 'her bed'). We quickly went up the steps and into her room. She ventured back out into the hall so she could close all of the doors on our second floor. I told her not to mess with our bedroom door but said she could close the bathroom. She looked at me with that look of innocence that only children really get and asked, "But what if the lion needs to pee?".

Saturday, July 17, 2010


We had a pretty good thunderstorm roll through our neck of the woods tonight. There were reports of tornadoes out near Oceloa, right about where we were today. How fun is that?
The sirens sounded in Minneapolis just about the time Relia was rounding into the final sleepy time books. Back when I was single I would have probably risked it and stayed topside to watch a bit. But responsibilities have a way of changing you.
We quickly packed up and went down to the basement. The FP Gal had just gotten Felix to sleep and the transfer woke him. I settled him while the FP Gal set up a little 'nest' for our Relia-bird. She also set up our smallest TV so we could keep up with the latest developments.
Soon enough we got the all clear and made our way upstairs. Let's just say that she wasn't quite ready to go down after all of the excitement. We talked, we cried, there was some yelling . . . And finally sleep. Blessed sleep.

Friday, July 16, 2010


(Talking with Relia about her supper.)

Relia: Grandpa took my steak away. I didn't like it.
Me: What didn't you like?
Relia: The steak.
Me: What didn't you like about it?
Relia: (pause) I didn't like to eat it.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Sports Nickname

Relia has renamed the Metrodome. It is now 'the Bubble'. Please edit your programs accordingly.

(Seriously, that's a great name, isn't it? Why didn't she suggest this 25 years ago? We could have shortened it to 'the Bub'. That's a great nickname.
Please feel free to spread this and we'll hope it catches on.)

Baseball at the Break

The older I get the more superstitious I become about baseball. No real good reason for it. Just the growing sense that my writing will somehow sway the entire sport and probably not in a way that I'll like. Which explains why I haven't written about baseball this spring. And why I'm a little bit afraid to even write this. I'll try to be cautious.

The season started with the Twins, Tigers and White Sox all about equal. Maybe a slight edge to the Twins but overall well within the margin of injuries and random effects. Then it started and it soon looked like the Twins were the class of the joint. Especially over the Sox who suffered from poor pitching and hitting. In late May I told the FP Gal that I'd lost hope that they'd turn it around.
Here are the standings as late as June 8:

Twins 34 - 24
Tigers 30 - 27 3.5 GB
White Sox 24-33 9.5 GB

A 3.5 game lead isn't overwhelming but if anything the numbers suggested that the Tigers had been lucky to stay that close. The White Sox were every bit as bad as their record. And then the script flipped. Records since then:

Twins 12-18
Tigers 18-11
White Sox 25-5

The White Sox record is all kinds of ridiculous and represents their best 30 game period in 27 years. Part of it is built on playing poor teams but they did play against the Braves, Tigers and Rangers in that span. They won't continue to win more than 8 out of every 10 games of course.
The Twins record certainly doesn't fit in with their first two months but I'm not sure that it isn't a good indication of where they end up. Their problem is the starting pitching and boy has it been a problem! Time after time in the last month their starters have been blown off of the mound. Three of their five starters have basically made games unwinnable for them. Not to mention the stress on the bullpen. It's tough to win games in that situation. If the Twins starters don't improve, they'll finish below .500 and well out of contention.
Interestingly, the second half starts off with a bang as the Twins host the Sox at Target Field. A Twins sweep puts them ahead by a half game. A White Sox sweep puts the Twins 7.5 games out and all but ends their season. Even if the Sox win 3 of 4 that means a 5.5 game lead and a mighty big hole to climb out of.
We'll know more about the rest of the season a mere four games from now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Best World Cup Column of the Year

Right here. Man, I love PJ O'Rourke.

Quidditch Question

I'm rereading the Harry Potter books this summer and I've run across something that I just don't understand. It bugged me as I read the books the first time and it still bothers me. Why do they play so few Quidditch games during the year?
The four houses play one game against each other house for a grand total of six games during the year. Each team only plays three games. That's a bizarrely short season. In general the more games a team plays the less likely it is that pure chance would settle an outcome. Here a lucky snag of the Snitch would effect an entire third of teams games.
And it's not like teams seem to be so exhausted that they wouldn't have the energy for more games. Or that the schedule would be too demanding seeing as teams train several times a week as it is.
Is there any explanation other than 'it would mean too much writing about Quidditch'?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Night Fights

I've been meaning to write about how the nightly bedtime fights have gotten better. We've stumbled upon a lever that we can use to help us. We're bribing her. With colored cereal (Fruity Cheerios).
And most nights it works like a charm. We've told her that if she fights with us she won't get the cereal in the morning. This lets us tell her when she's risking a fight and she usually backs off.
Of course, as I'm writing this she's been upstairs yelling for most of an hour. So this is far from a science...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Austin Alum Get Together

Today we got together with some my friends from high school and their many children. This is the third time we've done this (most recent time was here). I hope we keep this tradition rolling for some time.
There were seven or eight previous alum this time, the surprise guest was Julie Edwards, in from Montreal. I joked last time that we're on the way towards hosting the unofficial class of '91 reunion and we're kind of on our way. It's kind of strange but I was closer to more people from that year than from my own.
Felix got to spend some time next to August, whom you may know from Carrie's blog. They were born only a few days apart so it was interesting to make the comparison. Our boy is kind of chunky and he looks much bigger.
Relia got to play with about 20 little girls aged 8 to 1 1/2. She was in her element. Laurie hosted and she has a wonderful playset in her backyard. The kids swarmed all over it. There was also a fun sprinkler and several changes in and out of little swimsuits. At one point Relia found a bag of licorice and just carried it around eating and eating. There was then an intervention.
It was a great time and I'll link to some pictures when they go up.

Sky gazing

Relia woke up a couple of time tonight, just enough to wake me completely. Around 3a I decided that it might be worthwhile to check out the backyard sky and see if anything bright was out there. Sure enough there was something nice and shiny high and to the south-east.
I crept up and quietly got the telescope down. Probably mentioned that I'm trying to find times to use it. It set up nicely on the back steps and with a little effort I trained it on the shiny bit. There was a small disk of light with three nearby points in a line with it and another, fainter just below that line. After my eye settled a bit I could detect two bands on the disk. It was Jupiter and the three points were Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.
This is essentially the same sight that Galileo saw 500 years ago with his telescope. The points near the planet were uncharted and when he looked again over a period of days they moved but always stayed near the planet. He had discovered Jupiter's moons and started modern astronomy on its course.
Came in and checked a sky chart to see if I could figure out that fourth point near Jupiter. It seems I was in luck. In one simple view and without any planning I got to see both Jupiter and Uranus at the same time. Very, very cool.

Relia, thanks for waking me up.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Sleep Aid

When I went upstairs to put Relia to bed, I had the baseball game on. The FP Gal asked if she could turn the channel and of course I told her she could. While I was settling the Relia-beast, I could hear some distant crying downstairs.
Just came down to find my wife watching the game, with Felix sleeping on the couch like the proverbial babe. She told me that he fussed when she changed the TV and only stopped when she went back to the game.
That's my boy!

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Disappearing Car

I've kind of gotten hooked on Mythbusters lately. The FP Gal and I used to watch it regularly but we slipped away for some reason. This is the clip that brought me back:

Wow. That car simply disappears into a cloud of paint. And how cool would it be to work there on the rocket range?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Couch Time

Running Errands

The FP Gal asked me to stop at the store to get some of her bread and some brownies. Relia accompanied me. While I was trying to get the right stuff (I have this terrible habit of picking up sugar free options) she did a little shopping of her own.
She held up a different box, looked at the cover and asked "Do we have enough of this at home?".
Sadly I had to tell her, "Yes, we have enough white cake with 'funfetti'".

Becoming a Better Writer (While Not Writing)

Pretty good list of ideas to help keep the creative juices flowing while you're not writing. I especially liked 4 and 5:

4. Live life with passion. Do the things on your bucket list. Stretch
beyond your comfort zone. Climb a mountain. Jump out of a plane. Serve soup at a
shelter. Dine in a restaurant alone.

5. Take trips. Fly, drive or ride your bike.
Dig a well in Africa or lie on a beach in San Diego or discover just how big
Texas really is when you drive across it... just go.

I've been feeling a strong pull towards number one recently:
1. Be creative any way you can. Cook new recipes. Paint a picture. Design a
garden. Compose a song. Build something with Legos. Organize the garage.

Especially the idea of painting of all things. How strange is that?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Windup Girl - Bacigalupi

This is a 2010 Hugo nominee.

With 'The Windup Girl' we find ourselves in the 22nd century, a world that is post-oil and faced with starvation as various food crops have been 'hacked' and devestated by tailored diseases. The story takes place in Thailand, where the capitol city is now protected from rising seas by an heroic series of dikes. It's not pretty for anyone.
The story follows several people, starting with an employee of one of the powerful bio-crop companies. He is trying desperately to gain access to a hypothetical seed bank somewhere in Thailand both so he can open up the country as a market and also to provide some genetic diversity to his company and make stronger crops. His way is blockaded by curroption and incompetence. And a huge internal struggle within Thailand.
Another pair of characters work for the Ministry of Enviroment and are charged with keeping the country pure from any kind of genetic invasion, either from produce or people. They fight against the Ministry of Trade and the battles that are waged feature every fear we have of third world governments.
Probably the most compelling character is a Chineese refugee who has fled to Thailand when his home and business in Malaysia were destroyed in ethnic purges. He is desperately trying to regain some manner of stability through a series of schemes. His story features constant danger and the reminders of his previous nightmarish experiences are never far away.
The title character is an artificial girl who was made in Japan and abandoned by her owner/master. Part of her design was to make her docile and she has become a slave to a brothel owner. Some very rough reading; she is not treated nicely.
In fact, the whole story is kind of brutal to everyone. Danger is in the air and sudden reversals of fortune are common. Incredibly compelling reading and it kept me up late so I could just read one more chapter. The world-building is well done but I wonder how much of that is a function of the setting. You could easily modify this novel to an 18th century timeframe and still have much of the same conflicts and drama.
This is a pretty good book and a very strong Hugo contender.

Off to Work

Monday, July 05, 2010


Relia is just finishing watching 'Wizard of Oz' for her first time ever. And then on to bed. Any bets on which nightmare she'll have tonight?

Most specific answer wins!

Update: No nightmares. She said she dreamt about dancing.

Overheard (on a quiet morning)

While sitting on the backsteps enjoying a post-cereal popsicle:

Relia: I wish I could be up there in the sky. Up there in the clouds. (pause) And daddy, you could be up there with me.

- - -

After a very late bed-time, Relia woke about an hour later than usual. We hope that there will be some extra naps today. It never hurts to hope, right?
The FP Gal and I had lights out by midnight and the neighborhood was still alive with crackles, pops and booms. Not surprisingly, it was much quieter about 8a today. Actually, the neighborhood fireworks have been much more subdued this year. Not sure why but I've talked with people in other areas and they say the same thing. Recession maybe? Does that even make sense?
Anyway, we've had a good fourth of July.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Our Fourth

It's late and there is much tiredness so tonight you get bullet points:
  • We went down to Austin today. Drove through rain the entire time down. When it came to parade time it was coming down pretty hard. So we opted for a nice long lunch at Godfathers. Which was quite nice.
  • Over to see Steve and Micah and their 16 children. Per usual, their kids absorbed Relia into a tornado like structure and left the adults to chat nicely. Brenda Rasmussen, who lives across the street, also came over with her husband and three kids. It was also a nice time.
  • Back up to the Cities, with a nap for Relia. Felix decided to lose his rasser (pacifier) every twenty minutes or so. This meant that I got to reach back from the passenger seat and placate the poor guy.
  • Home for (maybe) a half hour and then off to the FP Gal's brother's place. He lives right near a park where they shoot off fireworks and we can see them well from his balcony. Relia was a champ throughout the whole thing. She had to duck back in the house a few times when it got too loud but mostly she loved 'em.
  • We stayed a bit to let traffic clear out and then home for us. We're a good three or four hours past Relia's bedtime. The FP Gal is putting her down and I'm hoping that it will be a short, short time.
That's it!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Programming Note

Even though the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce site suggests a kickoff time of 1am, the parade actually starts at 11am.

Friday, July 02, 2010

"All Boys are Grognards"

Pretty good article in the WSJ about the latest generation of strategy wargames. It includes a nice summary of the evolution of the genre from the early days of 'Diplomacy' to the ground breaking 'Civilization' of Sid Meiers fame.
My hope is that my kids (who will get a pretty strong exposure to the genre) will still see the appeal of the boardgame and not just dive into the computer simulation. There is something nice about a smaller set of of rigid rules that drives a game. Chess has been a popular game for millennia not because of it's many options but because of it's clear choices.
The article introduced a new term to me:
Avalon Hill and Diplomacy gave birth to a new subspecies of hobbyist: the
grognard (The origins of which probably date to a term used for "a soldier of
Napoleon's Old Guard").

I've never heard of a 'grognard' before but I suppose I must be one. Question to Chris, Hans and Andrew; is that a term you guys are familiar with? Or is it one of those regional oddities that writers think are universal?

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, July 01, 2010


I haven't written much about Felix and that kind of makes me a bad father. Especially since Relia has had about two dozen posts dedicated to her since our little Felixio has arrived. The reason is simple and most current parents already know what it is. Two year olds are simply more interesting. I mean they have soooo much more personality. A two month old is still all person-potential. A two year old is there already.
But Felix is starting to show some signs of catching up. He's smiling at us! Yep, if you catch him in the right mood and smile at him then he lights up and smiles back.

And, let me tell you, my boy has a great smile.