Sunday, January 31, 2010

Driving Advice

Yesterday as we were dropping Relia off she piped up from the backseat with some driving advice for Daddy. "Don't drive on the sidewalk!". Which was good advice. Not something I was particularly in danger of doing, but good advice none the less.

-

And I should tell you about the party. It was quite the shindig. A local hotel offered to host us. They offered free dinner and a $25 room for the night. It's hard to pass up a deal like that, especially for us married folks.
After dinner there was a DJ and encouragement for dancing. The FP Gal soon tired and went back to the room. That gave me an opportunity to just chat with some people that I'm often to tired to really talk with. Very nice.
This morning we slept in (7aish or so) and then went for our weekly walk at the MOA. Stuck around to try some shopping but didn't get anything. This beauty? $70, and worth at least half of that. Then we met the FP Gal's folks for lunch and regained custody of our little angel.
A very nice weekend.

Playoffs - Super Bowl

Wanted to make sure I got this up before the Super Bowl today. Let's see . . . what? It's not until next week? You mean that after four months of getting folks used to football games once a week the NFL has decided to skip a week and screw up all of that rhythm?
Yep. That's exactly what they've decided. Well, they probably have a good reason. Let's see . . . huh? The extra week is to accommodate extra media coverage? You mean the overkill of media that has become the cliche of stupid interview questions ("what kind of tree would you be", etc.). It's a good thing we have an extra week for that! As a plus, fans of both the Saints and the Colts just had a week off three weeks ago.
Well, there is one game today. The NFL has decided to stop showing games in beautiful Hawaii so that we can see south Florida. The winner of the game gets absolutely nothing and everyone simply hopes there are no injuries.
I guess for tribal reasons, I'll pick the NFC. The coin refuses to play.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Almost off

We're going to my company's holiday party tonight. Yes, we're a strong believer in National Croissant Day. Relia is being dropped at a nearby pawn shop. With any luck, she'll still be there tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jack Spratt (Pie Edition)

Right now we have two (partial) pies in our fridge, one stacked on top of the other. Mine is the blueberry and the FP Gal has a cherry one. Each of them are the same style, store bought. (The FP Gal carefully corrected me each time I said I was baking. Apparently I was simply 'heating it up'.) They even have identical sheets of aluminum foil on top.
And . . . with any luck . . . the soonest Relia will know about either of them is when she is old enough to read this blog.

Potty Follies

This Saturday my mom took Relia for the night. It gave us a wonderful day to ourselves and we really appreciated it. Mom brought her back to us on Sunday morning.
One thing we kind of sprung on mom is that Relia is deep into potty training (and I don't know why we haven't blogged more about it). That meant that we brought over one of Relia's little potties. They are simple things; lightweight, portable and about three parts total. One of which part is the potty seat. Which mom accidentally forgot when she packed up our angel.
A simple mistake really. Relia has more luggage for an overnight stay than I have for a week long vacation. Mom was horrified and offered to ship the seat back to us. Which sounds strange but apparently it made more sense than for one of us to drive back and forth. Cost about as much as the two gallons of gas and didn't take up our time. The package arrived yesterday afternoon and I brought it in when I got home.
We didn't open it last night because Relia was asleep. This morning she found the unopened box and became very excited. She insisted that I open it up, the entire time saying, "What's in there? What's in there?". Christmas isn't that far in the past and she's learned the lessons about presents well.
Anticipation grew as I cut through strips of tape and strained against the postal glue. She was nearly hopping up and down. And then the end opened and we could see a brown bag inside. She said, "It's beautiful!". Because that's what you say when you open up presents.
We took the bag out and she gleefully turned it over to find . . . the potty seat. Which didn't quite live up to expectations. She still said a polite thank you and we were done.
Somehow, some way, I think this was a lesson for her.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Robocars?

Yes, please. I would love to have a car that could drive itself home after a road trip. Something that would let me kick back and snooze. Or read.
This would make up for the lack of flying cars!

Icy

We had warmish weather over the weekend. All day Saturday we had a drizzle with about 34 degrees of temp. It made for large puddles all over. Positively, the warmer weather has reduced the ruts in the road to a more manageable level.
Yesterday the temps dropped into the mid 20's and we had snow and high winds. Not good with all of that water we gathered over the weekend. Today the temps have fallen even more and the windchill is back below zero.
Yep, it's January.

Update: My sidewalks are crying out for this.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy Burns Night!


Background here.

Back to Work

In other news, the Olympics start in about three weeks and pitchers and catchers report about a week later...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Well...

You really can't fumble the ball six times and expect to win.

Update: Some good advice.

Championship Games

My record last week improved to 2-2, 3-5 overall. The coin had a prefect week and is 6-2 over the first two weeks. With only three games left it's a pretty sure bet that I won't be catching the durn thing this year. On to the games!

Jets at Colts (-8)
Not sure what to make of the Jets. They have a very good defense and a strong will to run. In many ways, they were lucky to even make the playoffs and now they're only a game away from the Super Bowl. On the other hand, how to you bet against Peyton Manning? Simple, you hedge. I think the Colts will win but they haven't really been winning big this year. It's easy to see them win by less than a touchdown here. I'll take the Jets to cover but probably not win.
The coin says...Colts.

Vikings at Saints (-3.5)
These are very evenly matched teams. The Saints run well and the Vikings stop the run well. Both teams pass well and neither team defends the pass at a high level. The Minnesota running game has struggled but Adrian Peterson is so dangerous that opposing teams must honor him. The Vikes have an edge on special teams. New Orleans has the advantage of the home crowd.
Hmmm, if the Vikings can weather the very fired up first few minutes from the Saints then I think they can take the game over and win. I'll pick the Vikings to win (quell surprise!).
The coin goes with the Vikings too.

'Lost' Review

From Hurley's blog:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Purple Fever

A report from the cities, almost everyone here is wearing purple. I haven't seen this much Viking paraphernalia since the '98 season. Hopefully this one ends better...

More Heinlein

Found this essay on RAH fascinating and was nodding my head along with it. It's from a Portuguese woman and she talks of how Heinlein taught her certain values.
Little by little, Heinlein grew on me. The first time I encountered the notion that taxes were a form of extortion was in his books. First argument against gun control, too, in Red Planet. First argument for individual freedom—The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. First statement that the future is always better than the past—The Door Into Summer. Growing up in a country that had been a monarchy for most of its existence, a country where in fact, the citizens were held to owe something to the country, not the other way around, this seemed like insanity. But it stayed with me. And it took root.
The great man's words come back to me constantly. In some ways he is bracing to read because you just don't find his sentiments so boldy written anymore. Like this:
When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, - not anything - you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.
As I said, bracing.

Random Life Notes

First of all, an apology to all of you. Because frankly, this month's blogging hasn't been that great. You may not be interested in the reasons, but I think actually typing them out will get me past the block and improve the future. So here goes:
  • It's been a rough month at work. January is always busy and this one has been ridiculous. Some of it has been staffing issues (we need more hires!), some of it is computer issues (need more developers!) and some of it is just normal industry stuff. Hopefully this will sort itself out soon. Otherwise stay-at-home-dad might look too tempting to stay away from.
  • There have been sleep issues with Relia. Both putting her to bed and keeping her down all night. We've had many nights with hours of fighting before she gives up and shuts down. We've had few nights where she's gone all the way through. The cumulative effect becomes pretty rough.
  • I've been distracted. Last year's reading felt driven. Not a bad thing, but by mid December I wanted a treat. So I decided to reread 'The Baroque Cycle'. Yep, nearly 3000 pages of historical fiction. Lots of fun but it's taken a kind of dedication to get through them.
  • Lastly, just plain ol' writers block. The kind of thing where you feel like no one will care about what you're writing about. Which may be true but I'm not going to let it stop me.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Amazing Iphone Uses

This story is pretty darn amazing.
After being crushed by a pile of rubble, Woolley used his digital SLR to illuminate his surroundings and snap photos of the wreckage in search of a safe place to dwell. He took refuge in an elevator shaft, where he followed instructions from an iPhone first-aid app to fashion a bandage and tourniquet for his leg and to stop the bleeding from his head wound...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Foggy Again

The last few days we've had very moist weather. For winter at least. Usually a Minnesota winter is like a desert. Outside of actual precipitation like snow, the air has all of the moisture sucked out of it. Very dry skin follows.
But the last few days has been more of a wet cold. That has meant foggy mornings and very beautiful frosted trees. Frosted windows on the car too, but easy to scrape off at least.
The daytime temps have been up and the streets have improved. The stern ruts have softened somewhat. Still annoying at times but not nearly as dangerous as they felt a couple of weeks ago.
I'd still trade it all for a nice tropical beach somewhere but it's not too bad.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Almost Famous - 2000

William Miller is a very precocious boy. His mother skipped him past first grade and lied to him about his real age. When he was 11 his older sister left the house because of a dispute over rock and roll. She left William her record collection and set his future in place. By the age of 15 (1973) he became an aspiring rock and roll journalist. He has also met a groupie, though she'd furiously deny it, named Penny Lane.
Rolling Stone magazine doesn't realize how young he is and offers him a chance to write an article for them. All he has to do is go on the road with an up and coming band called Stillwater. His mother reluctantly allows him to go.
William desperately tries to interview them, especially their star guitar play but has great difficulty maintaining any kind of journalistic distance. To make it worse, the guitar player is sleeping with Penny whom William has fallen for. Loyalties are questioned and torn.
This is a great movie and I'd never seen it before. The tone and timing are perfect. The acting, especially Kate Hudson, is excellent. The story is interesting and feels authentic. The only weak part was the live music from Stillwater. 'Almost Famous' has been touted as one of the best movies of the decade and it lives up to that reputation.

Next up: Cast Away

Back to Work

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beautiful

By the way, this was the prettiest touchdown that I've seen in a very long time.

More Catapults

Feeding more of my bombardment needs is this game here. After you've completed Castle 22, go back and play against some of the previous ones. Hours of stress relief, right here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Scenes from a MOA

One of the fun things about our Sunday morning walks at the Mall has been seeing out of town football fans. Every time the Vikes play at home we've seen visiting fans walking out there in the morning. Some of it is because the MOA is a recognized Minnesota landmark. Possibly more important is that it serves as a good place to catch the light rail to the stadium downtown.
This morning there were several Cowboy fans walking around out there. I got into a brief discussion with a father and son (ages 30's and 50's). The son was decked out in Cowboy gear and the father was wearing a Jets Favre jersey. The son was worried that Minnesota residents would mistake the Jets jersey for a Packer one. I assured him that we were quite familiar with Packer gear in the Twin Cities. In honesty, I don't know quite what message he was trying to send.
For the record, my favorite out of towners were the Bengal fans. You almost never see them in the wild.

-

Relia has obviously been watching football with me. Whenever she hears the word 'touchdown' she now says, "Touchdown, you betcha!".

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Playoffs

Ok, so last week I went 1-3 while the coin went a more predictable 2-2. Man, I never beat that thing. And since I've proven that I don't know enough about this, I'll skip the analysis and go straight to the picks.

Arizona at New Orleans (-7) I'll go with the Cards to cover. The coin says Saints.
Baltimore at Indianapolis (-6.5) The Colts are the pick and I don't think it will be close. Coin goes with the Colts too.
Dallas at Minnesota (-2.5) Not sure how it will play out but I'm going with the Vikings (of course). The coin agrees.
New York Jets at San Diego (-7) The Chargers are the better overall team but the Jets match up well with them. Ummmm, I'll go with the Chargers to win and cover. The coin has the Jets.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Light Posting

Sorry about the lack of good content this week. There hasn't been a full night of sleep to be had. At least not being able to fall back asleep has absolutely ruined me. The other night Relia had a nightmare and woke up around 130a. It took all of three minutes to calm her but that did it for me.
When I finally got back to sleep I dreamt that the FP Gal and I had gone out for a walk. We got back to our car to find a cop there. The FP Gal gave him a small bit of attitude and he arrested her. The tension of trying to get her out of the pokey woke me up for good! (I forgave her in the morning.)
This sleep schedule doesn't go well with ten hour work days. By the time I'm done with work and have Relia put down for bed and rustled up some grub, it's nearly time to go to bed. And it adds up.
Fortunately, I've got some time off coming and a long weekend to recharge with!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

100 Cupcake Game

Pictures and description here. I got about 80 of them. I've owned about 60 of them at some time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Got Nothin' Tonight

Consider this a post for open discussion and/or questions for the author.

(And a random picture of London.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Morning at the MOA

We've gotten back into a routine of going out to the MOA to walk on Sunday mornings. We try to get there about an hour before the stores open. That means that it is just us and the other mall walkers. The place gets busy right about the time we're ready to leave and that suits us just fine.
Since we're there often enough, we've gotten a family pass to Underwater Adventures. Relia refers to it as 'her fish'. If we miss the timing we have to tell her that the fish are still sleeping. She has taken this to heart and worries about whether they're getting enough rest.
One strange thing has happened; Relia has made friends with Sharky, my nemesis. When she sees him walking in the hall she gets excited and runs up to hug him. This morning they traded high-fives and danced together for a bit. I still don't trust him but what can you do?
She has adopted another pet there, an animatronic snake at Rainforest Cafe. It hangs from the ceiling and moves its mouth with an almost hissing noise. She loves this snake. You'd think something like Build-A-Bear would get her notice. Not when a moving snake is around!
Going home means driving past Ikea. Which means we have to explain to her that we're not going to stop (at least when I'm driving). Then we play games regarding her strong desire to fall asleep in the back of the car.
It's a lovely tradition.

Overheard

More from our daughter:

The FP Gal: Momma works at A------- (her school). And where does daddy work?
Relia: A cube.
The FP Gal to me: Did you teach her that?
Me: I don't think so...
Relia: A cube!
Me: Hey, don't rub it in.
(pause)
Relia: I wanna rub it in! (proceeds to rub her hands together)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Wild Card Weekend

Once again, I'll try to pick all eleven playoff games correctly! Once again, I'll probably lose out to the coin flip. (Parenthetical odds reflect the home team. '+' means the home team is favored while '-' means that the road team has been bet to win.)

Jets at Bengals (-2.5)
Three of this weekend games are repeats from last week. All of last weeks were blowouts but it's hard to tell if that meant anything since the losers in at least two of them weren't playing hard. This game is the only repeat which switches home teams. And I think that will make a difference. The Jets start a rookie QB on the road, and he hasn't been that great this year. I'll pick against him and go for the Bengals.
The coin says: Bengals

Eagles at Cowboys (+4)
I don't really trust either of these teams. The Cowboys played well late but they certainly have a stinker in them still. The Eagles (especially McNabb) are kind of boom and bust. I'm just guessing that the road team will zig while the home team zags. I'll pick Eagles.
Coin: Cowboys.

Ravens at Patriots (+3)
Not a replay from last week but a replay from earlier in the season. The Pats lost one of their best receivers since then. I think that the Ravens can capitalize on that. I also think that the Pats are a bit overrated, so I'll go with the Ravens.
And the coin...: Ravens.

Packers at Cardinals (even)
Easiest game of the week in my opinion. The Packers have played better than the Cards for the last couple of months. They're on the road but that hasn't bothered them. The only hesitation I have is that the Packers pass defense could suffer if the Cards have all of their receivers playing... Still, I'll go with the Packers.
Which means that the coin goes with: Packers.

Crossbows & Catapults

video
Someday, when she is an artillery sergeant, she'll look proudly at this day.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Overheard

While driving home from the MOA and desperately trying to keep Relia awake:

Me: Hey, can you see the lake? (Lake Nokomis for those interested.)
Relia: (sleepily) It's all covered with snow.
Me: Who is going to clean all that up?

(pause)

Relia: Some guy.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fun New TSA Policies!


In cabin singalong! This suggestion and more are at Fun with TSA. #5 is my favorite but I thought that this picture made more visual sense.
I'm happy to say that I haven't had any questions regarding the new TSA regulations. It would be hard for me to discuss them without contempt. Frankly, they're silly.
To begin with, they're unworkable. Forcing people to sit still for the last hour isn't a real solution to anything. Nor is keeping them out of the bathroom for that last hour. Anyone who has flown with children knows this. Anyone who has shared a plane with a sick person knows this.
The other problem is that they won't actually keep us safer. A seriously motivated person won't be deterred by these inconveniences. They'll simply adjust. Even worse, keeping everyone else seated drops the chance that other passengers (so far our only working defense) can actually act.
Well, it will take some time for the powers that be to figure this all out. In the meantime, there are worse ideas than bringing those song books...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

One Eye Love


The FP Gal liked this song even before she met me.

Crash Day

Hard to believe but my car crash was seven years ago today. Seven. That doesn't seem possible. Quite a bit has happened since then (that's an understatement) and in a real way, life has moved on. During the first year I thought about it every day. Now, only occasionally. Though especially when the roads are bad.
Life didn't go on unchanged, of course. The crash left a mark or two. The most dramatic is the loss of sight in one eye. I've alluded to it in the past but I thought this anniversary I'd write about it in a little depth.
Depth being the thing that was most changed, of course. The doctors told me that because your eyes are only a few inches apart you only get real depth perception for about 50 ft or so. Everything beyond that is dependent on shading and movement. And experience too. I think there would be a huge difference for someone born with sight in one eye.
Driving presents no problem. Seeing cars in the driver side blind spot is a bit tricky but it only takes some work. Parking was tricky at first until I learned the distance to the bumper better. Actual driving on the road is unchanged. You can easily try this on your own.
In fact, people I've worked with for years are surprised if they learn of my cyclopticism. Judging distances to desks and table tops is easier than people think. At work I'm much more hampered by my inability to smell things.
There are some small tells and changes. It's uncomfortable for me to have someone walk on my left side. It's hard not to bump into them. Similarly, I prefer to have people sit to my right so I can talk to them more easily. The FP Gal has been thoroughly trained on these points, I expect the kids will be too.
Most days I forget about this entirely. It is much more dramatic sounding an injury than it has turned out to be. Who would have guessed that seven years ago?

Winter

Monday, January 04, 2010

Drained

I'm not so ready for work to begin again for the year. And yet . . . there really isn't a better option. Could really use a nice warm cruise somewhere.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Playoff Scenario Guide

There are three critical games today that determine the NFC playoff seedings. A breakdown of those games results can be found here. The short version is that the Vikings need to beat the Giants and then root for (gulp) the Cowboys to beat the Eagles in the late game. That would give them the 2 seed and a bye week.
All six NFC playoff teams are already decided but their placement for the playoffs is very up in the air. The Saints have the 1 seed and absolutely no one else is decided. The Vikings could be anywhere from 2-4. Four different teams could have the 2 seed by the end of the day. Six of the eight possible results have the Packers playing the Cardinals again next week but there is a chance that they'd be here at the Dome. Should make for an interesting day.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

January has come in with a narwhal. It was down into the minus teens today with windchills into the minus 70's (or something like that). Our poor furnace has been going all day just trying to keep up. Even walking past a window gives a bit of a chill.
Winter has really started kind of strongly here. Over Christmas we had a combination of snow, rain, thaw and refreeze. That means that our streets are in terrible shape. The non-emergency routes are now single lane with frozen ruts. Driving is going to be a bit dicey until we get some lengthy warm weather (March? April?). At least the main streets are well plowed and clear.
Can't believe we're only starting winter. Ugh.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Resolved...

Last year I published some New Year's resolutions. Let's see how I did...
  • Write a publishable novel.
  • Learn conversational Italian.
  • Be able to play a little piano.
  • See either a comet or the northern lights.
  • Attend a stage play.
Um, I actually did none of them. Zero for five. Which is a shame because all of them are good resolutions. So I think I'll just carry them forward to this next year and see if I can do any better. Also, I'd like to add some more:
  • Watch 'Casablanca' with the FP Gal. (She hasn't seen it before. We need to do this before someone revokes her cultural citizenship. I think this movie gets unfairly lumped in with more challenging fare like 'Citizen Kane'. It's actually a very fun movie.)
  • Eat more Panera. I think I was only there about twice last year. Which is a shame.
  • Attend at least one outdoor baseball game with Relia (and possibly Baby XY).

Have a Great Friday

Year of the Tiger and all that.