Friday, December 31, 2010


While the FP Gal is searching YouTube to placate Relia:

"I just hope these veggies aren't offensive . . ."

Coolest Thing from this week

I've made a brief mention that I've dipped my toe into the twitterverse. A few weeks back I started following Jim Kerr, lead singer of Simple Minds and now he's following me too! This isn't because I'm super cool, I think he's just reciprocating. Or maybe he takes the promise from the first verse of 'Alive and Kicking' very seriously.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Relia and the 'Parrot Store'

(I don't remember if I've mentioned this before but on the fourth level of the MOA there is a Mexican restaurant. On the outside and clearly visible from the third level is a very large parrot next to a very large bottle of Corona. She has labeled this bottle Parrot Milk. Which is easily the most poetic description of Mexican beer that I've ever heard of.)

Today I wanted to buy some beer. My love of marionberries has led me to Sam Adam's Blackberry Witbier. I'm not a prolific drinker by any means but I wanted some for New Year's Eve. Especially because I expect horribly icy roads to lock us up at home over the weekend. I decided to pick some up after I picked up Relia from preschool.
We pulled up outside and she saw some Corona signs in the window. "The parrot store! Are we getting a parrot?" No honey, we're not.
I carefully explained that I was going to pick up some beer. (Let me pause for a moment and mention that we didn't have any alcohol in the house while I grew up. We weren't aggressively teetotalin', we just didn't have it. This means that I still feel a small bit of shame when I buy booze. It also means that I have absolutely no role models for adult buying with small child in tow.) Relia had no problem with this.
Unfortunately I couldn't find it. Also unfortunate, Relia decided to narrate our entire trip at high volume. She wanted to know what I wanted and I told her 'blueberry beer'. She went up to each and every beer that had blue on the label and told the store that she found it.
Other highlights:
  • As we walked past the bottles of vodka she loudly announced 'Water'!
  • She was concerned that the St Pauli girl was 'spilling her beer'.
  • Relia was very concerned that we would leave before she sampled the liquor store's candy. Of which I could find none.
  • As we walked past the wine she told everyone about her Grandpa and tried to pick out his favorite type.
  • She was thrilled with any type of beer that had berries or fruit on it. All of it was exciting. Very exciting.
They didn't have my brand so we left empty handed. She had loudly charmed everyone there (or so I choose to believe). Later on I left her at home with the FP Gal and went to a different store by myself.
I think that will be the pattern for the future . . .

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas! I'll use this as a catch all and update as needed.

  • The FP Gal is going to incredible forensic lengths to make certain that our daughter doesn't catch on that the 'Santa' gifts actually came from our hands. She has separate wrapping paper for the inter-family stuff and is being careful not to mix that up with the anything that came from the North Pole. Keep in mind that Relia is three years old and will be hopped up on candy tomorrow.
  • So far it's been quiet upstairs. I told Relia to come into our room in the morning to try and keep her from coming downstairs and ripping everything open. Wish us luck!
  • (Morning update.) And . . . the wake up went very well. Both the FP Gal and I were actually awake before Relia was. She came into our room and was very excited to go downstairs. The FP Gal got down first and I carried our big girl down the steps. She ran to the tree and found a big pile of presents! And then turned to the stockings and found that her's was stuffed! All very exciting.
  • The plan is for us to take the under tree presents over to the FP Gal's parent's and open them there.

Friday, December 24, 2010

O Come, O Come . . .

This is my favorite Christmas carol (though there are a good half dozen others that I love nearly as well). This version is pretty good. My favorite isn't available on streaming video, nor can it really be recreated. It involved the AHS choir singing in the hallway outside of the main auditorium. There really isn't anything like experiencing a rich song from the inside of a large group of singers. Add in my youth and general level of impressionability . . . and I don't expect that version to ever be topped.

Lump of Coal . . . ?

Relia's whole month has been building towards tonight. She knows that Santa will only come when she's sleeping, that was established early. She's heard the bit about 'naughty and nice' but we haven't pushed that too hard. She's pretty good already and the pressure didn't seem right.
Anyway . . . it was my turn to put her to bed tonight. We read 'The Night Before Christmas' and some random Raggedy Ann story. Then she ran to her bed and told me that she needed to fall asleep so Santa could come! We quickly ran through the rest of the routine (which recently has me telling her stories about Roxane and Calypso) and I left her there in the dark.
Then I came downstairs and smugly told the FP Gal that I'd never seen her that excited to fall asleep. Not two minutes later we heard her knocking on her bedroom door. She does this when she wants to get up to go potty but we'd already taken care of that. I went up and she said "there's a problem with my window". Yep, there sure was. She'd somehow pulled down her blackout curtain. She then told me that she was trying to see the neighbor's house. Uh-huh.
Let's hope that this isn't a long night.


Relia: (while dancing) Ladies and Gentlemen! (pause) Please get off of your computers!

Have a Great Friday

Here is something lush and green.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

World Map of Lightning Strikes

Found here. The FP Gal and I are both big fans of thunderstorms but we've been cheated the last couple of years. Looks like we'd need to move a little more squarely to the plains if we wanted more.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.

You probably heard there was a lunar eclipse on Monday. If you were in Minnesota, you didn't see it because we were busy having a snowstorm instead. Through the magic of the internet (now on computers!) you can still see it. (My understanding is that this music was only heard by a few people who had an unusual amount of dental work.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My sister got me some marionberry jam for Christmas. Seriously yummy stuff! If you're traveling out in the Pacific northwest, find some marionberry products and treat yourself.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Speaking of the MOA . . .

This morning we went out there and on a lark I called my brother. Lo and behold they were going there themselves! We went to the aquarium and the bookstore and had lunch at the 'Rainforest Cafe'. (Maybe someday I'll open up the 'Temperate Rainforest Cafe'. It would smell like cedar, have ferns and fog and would be blessedly laid back and calm.)
Tonight we are going to my mother's Christmas party. It will be the first time I've been together with both my brother and sister and related in-laws since the FP Gal and I got hitched. It's been more than five years and we've added five kids between the three of us. Should be a good time!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Scenes from a MOA

Now that the weather has turned bitterly cold and deep snow has limited our options we've been spending a lot of our free mornings at the Mall of America. It's close to us, there is ample parking (if you get there early) and there is mucho space for three year olds to run around. Some random notes:
  • We usually park in the Arizona lot, which is denoted with a cactus. Relia desperately wants us to park one floor down on the 'pineapple lot' but the entrance there isn't very stroller friendly. Someday, I tell her, she will be the driver and then she can park on the pineapple lot.
  • We use the double stroller and recently we've moved Felix into the front seat. He loves it! He can see stuff and smile at everyone. Good stuff.
  • Presented without further comment: Relia refers to Victoria's Secret as 'the boob store'.
  • On most trips we go and visit the fish. Carrie recently wrote about her trip to Underwater Adventures and she does a pretty good sales job. I'm there with the kids often enough that most of the staff knows us by sight. I asked if we were one of their top ten visitors and was told that we were probably in the top five. My one criticism? They should have at least a token blog on their website. I've heard the history of the arapaima and the alligator snapping turtle and both are interesting.
  • Relia's favorite? The Disney store of course. She lights up when she sees all of the characters she knows and loves. She could spend hours and hours there so each time before we go in I tell her that we have to leave when I say it's time. So far it's worked.
  • In some ways I think that the whole exercise of going to a commercial area and repeatedly not buying things has been a good lesson for her. At least I hope so. She does take 'no' pretty well. So far.
  • They (finally) got the Lego store up and running. It had been closed over the fall, if memory serves back in September. It wasn't open again until a week after Thanksgiving. This is commercial incompetence of a high order. I hope that some heads rolled. It should have been open throughout November.
  • My guilty pleasure? I've discovered that I can skip pennies in the largest fountain. Even better than smooth rocks. It's tricky to get the angle right but the second skip is so long that it has to be seen to be believed.
  • I'm now hoping that the MOA security aren't reading this!
  • It will be nice for us in a few weeks when the crowds thin out.
  • That's all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

'Incredibles' Question

Ok, the family in 'The Incredibles' mostly match the Fantastic Four, the only difference being that instead of the Human Torch they have Quicksilver. My question is: Why is this a very good super hero movie while both of the Fantastic Four movies sucked so very, very hard?
Is it simply a limitation of CGI as opposed to full animation? Or just the difference between good and bad writing? What is it?

Have a Great Friday

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Light Blogging

Sorry, this is little more than a placeholder post. Maybe I'll have something interesting at some point but not yet.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Monday

Our next house. (Relia helped pick this out.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bubble Down

The big news in these parts today is the collapse of the dome.
<a href="" target="_new" title="">NFL on FOX: Metrodome collapse</a>
We spent a good deal of time this morning tracking down news and trying to figure out what was going to happen next. I've heard some wags say that it wasn't smart to have a snow vulnerable stadium in Minnesota but what they don't understand is that this was a very bad storm. A guy from MPR mentioned that this was in the top ten worst blizzards in Minnesota history. Not only was the snow amount very high but high winds also kept workers from clearing the top of the dome.
It is striking to have something this high profile happen mere blocks away from where the 35W bridge fell down. Not that one has anything to do with the other but at this rate downtown Minneapolis is going to develop a worldwide reputation.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More Snow Stuff

I heard earlier today that this was the biggest snow storm here in almost twenty years. Which, when you're talking about Minnesota, is really something. Highlights from the news:
  • The buses have stopped for the night. The light rail is running nearly an hour behind it's schedule.
  • The Vikings play the Giants tomorrow but so far the New Yorkers haven't been able to get into town. They were diverted to Kansas City and the plan is to fly up tomorrow morning. Needless to say, the game time may be delayed.
  • According to the Strib, I-94 in Wisconsin has been deemed 'impassable'. Which is pretty crazy.
  • I-90 west of Albert Lea has been closed down. I don't remember that ever happening while I was growing up but I could be mistaken.
  • The FP Gal's parents couldn't open either of their doors because the snow was too high. They actually had to go through their screen to move enough snow to get some motion. I could only open our front door about five inches, and it was shoveled clear this morning. (Our back door opened easily enough.)
  • One of our cars is out front. The snow is up over the tires. If I'm reading the reports correctly we've gotten more than seventeen inches so far.

Snow Day

We've gotten something like 15inches of snow so far today. It's been so bad that they've completely shut down the Minneapolis/St Paul airport. I went out and shoveled at 8a and now my efforts are completely gone.
Needless to say, we won't be going out and doing much today.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Have a Great Friday

(Two points for naming this mountain. Hint, it's not near Albert Lea.)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Impossible Colors

This sounds pretty cool but I'm kind of ineligible to test it. What do you bicloptic folks see?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


I haven't written much about my return to work and I bet some of you are curious about it (hi Mom!). First of all, I love my twenty second commute time. I'm on my lunch break right now and I'm able to come downstairs and spend a little time with the FP Gal. The best part of working at home is that I don't have to fend with anything outside when my shift is done. I simply walk downstairs as quietly as I can and climb into bed. The longest it has taken me to fall asleep is about five minutes.
My office space is working well. It gets cold on the third floor but I go up early in the afternoon and start the space heater. The temp in the main space was as low as 45 last night (50 tonight) but warmer in the smaller enclosed room. My work uniform has the addition of slippers for my feet, a hooded sweatshirt, a snow cap and my new Viking snuggie. I think the FP Gal will slip upstairs some night and take a picture of it all but she hasn't yet.
By the time my paternity leave started I was pretty well burnt out from helping people. The time off helped a lot and I'm back to feeling useful again. The system I work with still has tons of annoying bugs, er features, but what can you do?
I get very few calls after 11p or so but I keep busy with ticketing tasks and the like. These hours have included more calls from the Far East than I'd had before but nothing that can't be handled. My co-workers and I stay in touch with an internal instant message program. I wouldn't say that we're close exactly, not as close as the ladies I worked shoulder to shoulder with in the office but we're still in touch.
So far I'm very happy with this shift and the home set up.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming

Last night our internet was out so we had to rely on some old school entertainment. Relia insisted that we sing Christmas music to the new tree. We tried some of her made up songs ('Christmas! Snowing! Reindeer!) and then the FP Gal got out a songbook so we could be more traditional. As we paged through we came across this gem here (which I have a vague memory of singing at Dorian one year). The FP Gal didn't know it so she asked me to sing it for her.
Confession time! My music reading skills are minimal at best and I have a bad habit of only remembering the tenor line, or worse the bass line. Anyway, I gave it a go.
But I can't really let it stand at that. This really is a gorgeous piece, especially with the harmonies. I hope she'll give it a listen and of course the rest of you are welcome to enjoy it too.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pre-Oscar Viewing

The Atlantic has a handy list of movies that are expected to be serious Oscar contenders:

The King's Speech
Black Swan (which looks terrible to me)
True Grit
127 Hours
The Fighter
Rabbit Hole
Another Year
Blue Valentine
The Way Back
Get Low
How Do You Know? (which looks pretty good)
Frankie & Alice
Country Strong

I'm not sure how many of them I'd see even if I had the time. They also mention six others that are either out for home viewing now or soon will be:

The Social Network
Toy Story 3
The Kids are All Right
Winter's Bone
The Town

I've seen the first three of those and I'd be happy with a win for either 'Social Network' or 'Inception'.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Single Use Appliances

Megan McArdle has found what she describes as "the stupidest appliance ever". This one right here and it's not something that I'd ever buy. Or really use even if it was bought for me. The post is worth reading but I most enjoyed the comment section where a full scale discussion on single use appliances has broken out.
I've got two single use-ers that I use on a fairly regular basis. One is a toaster that also poaches eggs and prepares Canadian bacon. It's basically an Egg McMuffin machine and it makes yummy stuff. I only make the full sandwiches about once a month but the toaster is big enough to do a good job with bagels. This gets used daily.
The other one is the Pizzazz, the home pizza cooker. This one gets used three or four times a week, maybe more. Frozen pizzas of course but the FP Gal also makes quesadillas and I like to toast sandwiches on it. Sometimes I even bake cookies with it. We use it enough that we actually burned out the first one and had to buy a replacement.
I'm curious what items the rest of you folks have that you're slightly embarrassed about but still want to sing the praises of. Go ahead and share.