Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Enjoy the Silence


Sit back and bask in the wonderfulness...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Prop Bleg

I got word a while ago that my company is putting together a blog of sorts. Not sure what form it will ultimately take but I've been invited to take part and I'm excited. They want to take individual pictures of each of us with a prop. And I'm not sure what to use?
My first thought (being a travel agent) was to use a martini glass. I get the feeling that isn't quite what they had in mind. Another possibility is a globe but I'm afraid that will accentuate the unfortunate globish shape of my own cranium. A passport? I fear that a sextant won't be understandable (and in truth I take very few sun sights).
So I open the forum to you folks. Any ideas?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Day Jeopardy Story

The FP Gal asked me this and I think I'll share it here. Each day on Jeopardy, contestants share a story from their past. She asked me what story I'd go with on my first day, with the possibility that I'd lose out and only get to tell the one story. After some discussion we decided that I'd have to go with the taxi in Paris story. If you don't remember it, here's a sample:
So we decided to take a cab. Paris has little taxi stands placed here and there. The cabs queue up and take their fares hither and yon. We found a stand and climbed in. I tried out my French and asked the driver to go to our hotel, near the Eiffel tower. He seemed uncertain but gamely made his way toward that part of the city. Halfway there we realized that this wasn't a taxi.
That's right! This guy pulled over to the curb and two crazy Americans climbed into the back of his car.
The other two stories we thought of were the surprise wedding and the costume that got us down to Mexico (click the link if you don't know that story).

So now I give this challenge to you. Please figure out what story you'd go with on your first day on Jeopardy and post it on your blog!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Little Bug

Sickness has been visiting our home again. At this point we should just set up a room for Stuffy Head and Runny Nose. Bunkbeds, I think. Anyway, Relia and I are both sick. The FP Gal with her teacher's immunity isn't feeling as bad. Or maybe she's just better at dealing with it.
Anyway, she was trying to explain to Relia that I wasn't feeling well. She said that "daddy has a little bug". You can probably guess where this is going.
"Is it like a ladybug?"
"Is it in his mouth?"
That last question creeps me out to no end. So far ladybugs don't bother me as much as larger winged insects do. But if she keeps talking about it being in my mouth...! We've tried to explain that it's not quite like that kind of bug but I don't think she's convinced.
Yesterday morning she woke up in pain and we took her into the doctor. (Lucky me, it was a day off so I could be miserable with her.) The doctor started to inspect her ears and said, "let's see if there are any butterflies in here. There's one. And in your other ear...a couple of ladybugs". This is cute doctor speech for 'yep, it's an ear infection'.
And not really the help that we needed (grrrr!). At least she perked right up with the medicine. In fact, she's a bit tired but otherwise seemed her normal self today.
Daddy is still filled with bugs . . .

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Apple Pie Day

Tonight Relia had a surprise for us. She very excitedly told us that she had made a pie. (Or possibly a pile, it wasn't clear to us at first.) But she repeated herself many times and sure enough it was a pie. She told us that it was Apple Pie Day. Here is a picture of her baking.

This was all very nice of her and I'm not sure what brought it on. We haven't had pie in the house for many months nor even really talked about it much. But who are we to turn down pie? She was very excited to show us her baking efforts. Here is a picture of the pie:
Looks like a flaky crust! Who knew that Sinus Rinse was made with apples? That might have been the biggest surprise of the night.
She was very good about staying away from the hot oven. Even gave time for it to cool after it was done baking. Then she brought us each a piece. The FP Gal got some in a bowl with silverware. I got a single packet in the palm of my hand. Relia also had a bowl and she happily sat on me on the couch while we 'ate'.
And then it was time for bed and she very dutifully put all of it in her little refrigerator.

Doesn't she look like a happy little chef?

Everyone Knows it's Windy!

Another article (largely) guessing how Target Field will play this year for the Twins. Not nearly as complete and mathaholic as the previous one. A strange trivia fact was tucked into this one though. Guess where Minneapolis/St Paul rank on the list of windiest major US cities. Give up? Fourth. Yep, fourth. My impression has been that when we have a clear sunny day it's usually windy out. That's probably true.
The top ten list?
  • Milwaukee (averages) - 11.5 mph
  • Dallas - 10.7
  • San Fran - 10.6
  • Minny/St Paul - 10.5
  • Detroit - 10.3
  • Philadelphia - 9.5
  • Miami - 9.2
  • Seattle - 8.9
  • Houston - 7.7
  • Los Angles - 7.5
Notice any town missing? Where is the Windy City, huh? Apparently it's not as Windy as we believe. And the wind is supposedly about nice summer breezes...
"The name of 'Windy City,' which is sometimes used by village papers in New York and Michigan to designate Chicago, is intended as a tribute to the refreshing lake breezes of the great summer resort of the West, but is an awkward and rather ill-chosen expression and is doubtless misunderstood."
Chicago Tribune 11 September 1886
Well, I didn't know that at all. Guess we're all learning stuff.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring

The weather has been pretty nice here for the last week or so. In the afternoons (at least) it is actually warm enough to get outside and play. This has brought about something of a surprise. Over the winter the playgrounds have shrunk!
Really, they have. Last year Relia could just barely climb the ladders. Now she swarms up them like they're no problem. In the fall, the jungly gym stuff was so high that she could only climb very slowly (if at all). This spring it looks like she could do this stuff in her sleep.
We're trying to figure out if we should contact the Park Board...

Treehouse

This is the house that I want, right here. Simply gorgeous.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bananas and Acid

By the way, I should mention that the FP Gal and I have discovered that eating a banana at night is an excellent way to deal with stomach acid. It works so well that I'm kind of surprised that this isn't common knowledge.

Ask away!

Apologies for the light blogging for the last couple of weeks. Life has caught up (children, work, sickness). And also, I really have found very little good stuff to blog about. No good lists or challenging assertions.
So I need your help. This is your post where you can ask me stuff. You can lean on my professional travel booking knowledge. Or my vast sports curiosity. Or my book readin', movie watchin' interests.
Ask away!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Coraline - 2009

Coraline is a young girl who has moved to a new town away from her friends. She's terribly bored and unhappy. Her parents are too focused on their computers to spend time with her. She has met a young boy but she doesn't really like him very much. In fact, the only interesting thing is a small door in the house that has been wallpapered over and bricked up.
Then comes the night. Some mice wake her and lead her through that door into another world. One where her parents are much more attentive and wonders abound. The only difference is that they have buttons in place of eyes . . . She can stay and listen to the promises of eternal happiness but their is a terrible price.
This is a very good movie. I enjoyed it quite a bit. But it's much too dark for little kids (we didn't even let Relia try it). It sets up very like a horror film. The story is interesting and well told. The animation looks something like stop motion with fabrics and is well used. It also has a very good score.
Well recommended.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Target Field Projections

I've been wondering how the Twins new ballpark will play. The Metrodome has been one of the most unique places to play baseball for some time now. The combination of artificial turf and a gray colored dome has made it very different.
So I was happy when I ran across a series of posts that take a stab at it. The first one deals with a projection of how far the ball will travel at various temperatures. The second one deals with varying amounts of wind from different directions. And the last one gives a comparison of the room in foul territory. The short answer is that it looks like it'll be an extreme pitcher's park.
Now, I have no idea how accurate this type of work is. It'll probably take a couple of years worth of data before we can confidently say if it favors batters or pitchers. And this doesn't even begin to address whether the Twins will lose some of the defensive advantage that they've enjoyed in the past.
One thing is certain, Minnesota fans will finally be out of that abomination and into the real world.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

(Oh) Hold Me Like a Baby

We've been talking more and more with Relia about her new baby brother to be. Trying to prep her for a small one around the house. Trying to establish that not every new thing in the house is 'her's'. Mostly it's going well but there is at least one strange side effect. She is insisting that she is the baby. Or at least a baby.
That means that she wants to be held like a baby. And carried like a baby. And held like a baby. All very normal (I'm told). The weird thing for me is that every time she asks to be held like a baby it brings forth this gem from Suzanne Vega called 'Gypsy'.

A very sweet song and the baby reference is in a completely different context. But . . . what the heck. It's a great tune and it doesn't require a great reason to post it here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Overheard

Last week from the backseat, unconnected to any other conversation:

Relia: I have to do it. It's on my blog!

Off to Work

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daylight Savings Time

We have come to the conclusion that this entire custom was not created with toddlers in mind.

Car Shopping

Thought it might be helpful to write about the car shopping experience. We've talked about a new car to replace the FP Gal's 30 year old Dodge. Talks started some months ago but really only got under way in earnest about three weeks ago. The focus was to have more room for kids. A modern sedan barely has room for two car seats in back. And if one of those is rear-facing then one of the front seats has to be pushed all the way forward.
So we thought about either a mini-van or a small SUV. My masculinity isn't threatened by a mini-van but I think that SUV's handle a bit better in Minnesota's six months of winter. But either one would be fine. Our priorities were something like Space, Reliability, Price, Function, Mileage.
Some quick web searches told me that for reliability we'd be looking at either a Honda or a Toyota so we focused on them. All of the other variables were pretty equal between the two with a couple of exceptions. The Rav4 was better on space and function.
We looked at mini-vans but they were a bit too expensive for what we wanted and a bit more space than we knew we needed. If baby #3 comes in the next few years we may need to upgrade again. Of course, my car is nearly seven years old right now so we'll probably be ready for some shopping.
We preferred Toyota. We thought that the recent SUA problem is more hype than real. And the 0% financing is pretty darn good. So, we've got ourselves a new car.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Also

We bought a new car.

Lucky Boy

The time has finally come. Yep, we're going to reveal the name. If you remember this post (from nearly three years ago!) then this won't be a surprise at all. Our upcoming son will be named...

"Felix Drake:
From a Roman cognomen meaning "lucky, successful" in Latin. This was the name of many early saints and four popes. Felix is at an all-time popularity peak and is currently ranked #374 among the U.S. boys' names.

From a surname derived from either Middle English drake "male duck" or else from the Old Norse personal name Draki or the Old English personal name Draca
both meaning "dragon".
Peder and I had another name picked out, but I wasn't all that thrilled with it. (Rachel guessed that one too at Christmas: Christopher Wren) after many discussions we decided that we both liked Felix. I just liked the name and that it wasn't as common, and Peder liked that it had an "X" in it and that it is Latin for happy or lucky. No firm decision that that was definitely the name, just that we both liked it.

One day, a couple of weeks later, Peder emailed me saying he thought "Felix Drake" was a good strong name. I replied, "Drake? Like a duck? Later we laughed at the idea of naming our child "lucky duck". The longer we have been tossing it around, the more it has stuck to the point where I feel confident sharing. As terrible as it is that the name is a cute joke, we also know that only geeks like us would make the connection.

I also noted the alternate meaning: Lucky Dragon. Anyone remember Falkor the luck dragon from "The Neverending Story?"
"

Yep, we're sticking with Felix Drake. I've liked the name for as long as I can remember. Both because of the heavy cat vibe and because it's an uncommon, yet known name. It also gives us the very strange distinction of going with common Roman names. That wasn't a theme I ever would have guessed at. The full name is also similar to that of my favorite explorer. And I would never saddle a boy with the name 'Francis'.
Anyway, we love this name! And we think that our wonderful boy will love it too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Waiting

Recently someone asked me if I'm excited for Baby XY (I'm looking forward to an actual name). The truth is that I'm really not. Oh, on some level I am but it's surprisingly easy to forget that we have a blessing on the way right now. It's not easy for the FP Gal of course, but when I'm not around her . . .
The reason why is pretty easy to figure out. Lack of sleep. And other sundry Relia busyness. Let's just say that she has a way of keeping you 'in the moment'. (And an aside, if you will. Her conversation has become so much more adult lately. She is thinking about the future and the past. She makes connections that aren't fed to her. It's kind of exciting.)
Well, one of the great things about this here blog is that I've got a pretty good record of the last time. I took advantage of that and reread the last few months before Relia showed up. You know what I discovered? We had gobs of time. Absolute gobs of it. And I don't know what we did with it!
I also reread through the baby classes and the other prep work. That reminded me that we're kind of getting down to it. Time to pack the bag and all that. We're (probably) less than three months from der tag.
And it's probably time to start getting my mind in the right place.

(When I started this post, I had some more profound destination in mind. Now that I'm at the end I don't even kind of remember what that might have been. Sorry.)

Overheard

(Relia sets a naked baby doll on my desk.)

Relia: This is your baby.
Me: Thank you, sweetheart.
(pause)
Relia: Could you run with me? [She's holding a different doll on her head.] With a baby on your head?

---

For a brief moment she had all three of us running through the house with dolls on our head. I'd love it if this somehow inspired a 10k.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Photos of Europe

I've you've enjoyed the Friday pictures, you should check out this gallery of pictures of Europe. Some very beautiful stuff there.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Off to Work

Favorite Things

Yesterday we went grocery shopping, all three of us (well four really). As we got in the door, I corralled Relia while the FP Gal looked over the coupons. Relia went right over to the discount cupcakes by the door. I don't think she knew what they were but she was intrigued. She said to me, "Are these one of my favorites?".
I told her 'probably' and we moved on.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Oscar Open Thread

This won't be a full running blog. But I may post some updates throughout the night. I ended up seeing three of the ten Best Picture Nominees. 'Up' was great and wouldn't be a shameful winner. 'Up in the Air' was very good but had some flaws. Also saw 'District 9' which was interesting but not really Best Picture caliber. If you have opinions on any of the other seven nominees feel free to share them in the comments.
Also, yay!, Steve Martin!

Official Notice

The FP Gal is suffering Winter Olympics withdrawal. I'm as surprised as anyone.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Which Science Fiction Author?

I am:
Robert A. Heinlein
Beginning with technological action stories and progressing to epics with religious overtones, this take-no-prisoners writer racked up some huge sales numbers.


Which science fiction writer are you?



This couldn't be less of a surprise for me. (Thanks Kate, for the pointer!)

A Present

Yesterday morning Relia and I were almost out the door. Shoes were on, jackets were in place and we were ready to go. Then she said, "Wait, I have an idea!". This was new to me so I simply asked what it was.
She looked around and then quickly at the floor and then bent as if to pick up a speck. She told me it was a present for me. Dubiously, I held out my palm and she put the 'present' there. Nothing. I thanked her and pretended that I was opening a package. Then I asked what it was.
She said, "Cranberries." And then quickly thought of something better. "Cookies!"
Again I thanked her and were out the door. Her imagination just gets better and better. And she's becoming more and more fun.

The Gods Themselves - Asimov

This story is written in three parts. The first part tells us of a scientific discovery that provides free energy. It's based on swapping a common Earth element with something from a different universe. The alternate one has slightly different physical laws and the new matter serves as an energy source. Free energy has created a golden age. There is only one problem. The guy who discovered it is something of a jerk. This pushes a scientist to look for possible negative consequences.
The second part is the most interesting. It takes place within the different universe. The life forms there are totally and completely alien to ours. They come in three symbiotic genders (or something like that). Very well written.
The last bit is back on Earth. Or at least on the Moon. It focuses on a different scientist, still working on the theoretical consequences of this free energy. This part shows Lunar life and work towards a scientific breakthrough to fix things.
The title is taken from the phrase 'Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain'. Like most of Asimov's work I find it interesting but it doesn't do anything for me. It always comes off as rather bloodless and dry. The middle part is somewhat unique and deserves praise. But the novel also misses some of the cleverness of Asimov's other works (the robot novels especially). I can see why this is popular but it's not really to my taste.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Overheard

In the car this morning:

Relia: Do you like Nana and Granpa [the FP Gal's folks]?
Me: Of course. They're very nice to me.
Relia: (pause) They don't hit you.
Me: Uh, no, they don't.

Penguin Dance


It's been some time (twenty-some years?) since I'd last seen this but this part always stuck in my mind. I'm reminded of Dick Van Dyck dancing with the penguins every time I see a teenager who needs to pull up his pants.

Update: And I should note that Relia can't help but jump up and dance to the 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' song.

Another note: the spell-checker didn't like the update...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Marshall?

The dangers of Take Your Child to Work day.

Yrotagurp

Why would you name a girl 'Nevaeh'? Yes, it's 'heaven' spelled backwards. Isn't that, uh, a rather toasty place? And is there something wrong with just naming a girl 'heaven'?

Top Ten Simple Mind Songs

I've been thinking about writing this post for weeks, maybe months now. It occurred to me again this morning and I thought about giving it a whirl tonight. One of their songs came on the Music Choice channel and I took that as an omen. I mentioned this to the FP Gal and she said, "they have ten songs?". So. The gauntlet has been thrown down and I'm sentencing her to listen to each of these!

10. Someone Somewhere in Summertime (video) - This is the song about that perfect moment. Just you and her and the most special time. Beautiful and passionate.

9. Waterfront (video) - Probably my favorite opening bass line of all time.

8. American (video & lyrics) - Completely infectious tune.

7. Tears of a Guy (video) - Newest song on the list. Has more of their electronic sound.

6. Don't You Forget About Me (video) - The song that really made them big. It wasn't written by them and apparently they grew to hate it. This is their sound.

5. Rivers of Ice (video) - A love song. But not young love, this is a more mature one. Gorgeous lyrical imagery.

4. See the Lights (video) - A lost love song. The whole idea of a break up actually negating you. And yes, this song makes me feel 17 again.

3. All the Things She Said (video) - Not sure why but this song really gets to me. It might be the perfect conversational tone. Maybe, it's the hopeful lyric 'When I look into your eyes/I see a new day rising'. Just gets to me.

2. Let it All Come Down (video) - Close your eyes and lose yourself in the symphonic wonderfulness. Seriously, try it.

1. Alive and Kicking (video) - A perfect song. The piano bit in the bridge especially. Just wonderful.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Not Quite Right

Today I've been kind of off kilter. Not sure why. Relia was up a little after midnight with a nightmare. Think she was up again later but the FP Gal handled that. So I'm a bit sleep deprived but nothing out of the ordinary.
About 1p today I realized that my t-shirt was inside-out. Sometime after that I realized that my usual Monday morning post was wishing everyone a 'great Friday'. (That's especially hard on me because it's not Friday anywhere in the world right now.) The post has since been corrected.
Man, I hope those reservations I booked today turned out right...

Off to Work


Today's picture was selected by Relia. I believe it's the Italian Steps in Madrid.