Thursday, June 30, 2011

Minnesota Sports Curse

To say that the last year in Minnesota sports has been bad is a vast understatement. It has been nothing short of brutal. What do I mean?
  • The Minnesota Gophers football team went 3-9 and fired their head coach part way through the season.
  • The Minnesota Gophers basketball team started 11-1 and then lost 13 of their last 19 games. They went from a ranked team to one that missed the tournament.
  • The Vikings celebrated their 50th season by going 6-10 but it was the most spectacularly awful 6-10 season in team history. They were plagued by injury from the beginning, had to beg Favre to come up from Mississippi and generally played poorly. They also had two games postponed, something that is almost unheard of in the NFL.
  • The Timberwolves had the worst record in the NBA and are completely wretched.
  • The Wild had a winning record but missed the playoffs.
  • The Twins ended the 2010 season on a 2-9 run and were swept out of the playoffs. Right now they are 34-45 and have one of the worst records in the AL. A big chunk of their roster should be playing in AAA but is up in the bigs because of injuries.
  • And finally, the most prominent stadium in the state literally collapsed.
That, my friends, is a brutal sports year. I'm trying to figure out if there is a curse or something like that going on. Exactly who was angered last September that caused all of this?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Becoming a Person

Relia continues to get lots of pub but the big changes in our house are really with DF. He is going through one of those amazing cognitive spurts that is both amazing and exasperating. First the amazing:
  • His speech is getting wider. His favorite word is still 'uh-oh' but he is working hard on 'thank you'. Yesterday he surprised us by saying 'Nana' and then looking around for her.
  • He's still shy with strangers but he is coming out of that shell a bit. When we're out in public he likes to surprise people with 'hi!'. Never fails to get a smile from them.
  • He can obviously understand more than he can say. This includes knowing where certain food is and what areas of the house he wants to play in. No more of that 'out of sight, out of mind'.
That last one is probably both in the 'amazing' and 'exasperating category. What else? He is a world class climber (for his age group). Simple things like steps, of course, but he has also taken to moving chairs so he can use them to climb up on tables. Relia had this category too but I don't think she was this old.
He is also fascinated with anything that has a) buttons and b) lights up. That means that all of the remote controls are fair game and he wants to turn the DVD player on and off. The FP Gal has a printer that is kind of tucked away but within reach. It makes noise after a series of button pushes. Sometimes this is a plus, sometimes he finds it scary.
Along those lines, he was carrying my cell phone yesterday when a call came in. He scurried right back to me with a concerned look on his face. Even though he was unsure he still said 'dank-oo' to me when he handed it over.
More and more he is becoming a person!


While Relia is talking about her various parts:

Relia: And I have two hands. And one big head!
Me: Do you have a tail?
Relia: Indeed I do not.

Where does she get this stuff?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bumper Car Ban

This story surfaced a while back but I forgot to write about it then. So instead you get a Sunday evening tale.

A popular resort in the UK has changed the rules on their bumper cars:

Managers at all three of its famous seaside resorts have issued the crazy edict insisting guests drive safely and avoid all contact.

Now holidaymakers are supposed to drive calmly round the track in one direction, following each other and overtaking only when there is enough room to do so.

Bemused customers at the sites in Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness have described the ride as an "exitless roundabout".

I don't know what bit of craziness led to this but I'm guessing it was fear of lawsuits. If Nigel hits Benny too hard then you hold the resort at fault or something like that. In a more reasonable age, we'd assume that anyone who voluntarily rode bumper cars was doing it so they could hit and be hit.
This brings to mind my one and only encounter with bumper cars in Scotland, way back in '91*. We went to some kind of county fair type arrangement. I fought sickness on the tilt-a-whirl but it was a close thing and I won't go on them anymore.
But my favorite was the bumper cars. I gleefully got in and started looking for targets, of which there were many. After I got a couple of hits in I realized that I was the only one doing any bumping. The rest were driving in a nice circle.
That threw some kind of switch in me and a fairly maniacal laugh escaped. I was a wolf in the fold and no shepherd in sight. After a bit a couple of boys (younger than me) got into the spirit and returned the hits to me. All in good fun. As to the rest . . . I like to think that their nightmares are still filled with that crazy Yank with the long flowing hair.

*On the 4th of July it will have been twenty years that we took that trip. This is completely and utterly impossible and I'd like to see a receipt for all of the intervening years.

100 Longest Wikipedia Pages

Whole list (with links) found here. Any guesses on the #1 longest?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Coke Freestyle

(The second word in the title should be italicized, but I don't know how to do that. To get the full FP experience, go back and read it as if it is italicized. Go ahead, I'll wait.)
Today we entered week two of our summer experiment to live in our home as if at a rustic cabin without a kitchen sink or a dishwasher. That hasn't made our kitchen unusable but it has made me strongly averse to dirtying any dishes. Well, not just me. Anyway, as a direct result we have been eating out more lately. The FP Gal said she budgeted for it, so there you go.
Today we packed up the clan and went to Davanni's restaurant for a mix of pizza and hoagies. Very yummy stuff. It has long been a favorite of the FP Gal seeing as she grew up here in the Cities around them. I was introduced to them at work, it being one of our go-tos for takeout lunch.
Anyway, we went there to eat but also to see their new attraction. A Coca-Cola freestyle machine. Basically it is a fountain pop machine where you can take any basic coke beverage and mix it with flavors like cherry, raspberry and vanilla. Here is a sample video:

Easy to use and you can't complain about lack of options.

I do have a couple of criticisms though:
  • You can't control the portions of the mixture. I thought the vanilla was too strong for the Coke Zero, though raspberry wasn't bad.
  • Not all basic colas have all flavor options, or at least it seemed that way to me.
  • It might be nice to be able to mix more than one flavor.
But really, these are just quibbles, especially since this is obviously very new technology. And I don't want to lose sight of the important piece here. There is now a restaurant in the Cities that has Coke Zero on tap. Yay! Hip hip hooray!

Friday, June 24, 2011


Last night while putting Relia down to sleep.

Relia: Daddy, I'd like a story about a girl who has no heart.
Me: Let me see. (Thinking about a girl who learns to love or some such.)
Relia: And then her daddy looks at her and wonders why there are no cuts or blood!
Me: Uh . . .

That's it. No more CSI for her!

Have a Great Friday

How to Hug (at 14 Months)

First you make eye contact with the subject. Then you get to your feet as steadily as you can. Wait until the subject has crouched down and then launch yourself, face first, into their belly. Your arms won't reach very far but don't worry, their arms will. After they've cuddled you for a minute, spin around while still leaning back against them. Then, and only then, can you toddle off leaving a big smile on the subject's face.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


If I had a) more money, b) a different house and c) no supervision of living space, I would live like this.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Major Tom

This was in the FP Gal's head and now it can be in yours too! Man, I love 80's music. Dig that opening. They just don't make them like this anymore.

Top 5 SF/F Novels

NPR is having a poll for the best science fiction or fantasy novels and has asked for people to submit a list of nominations. I'm a sucker for this type of thing so noodled a bit and came up with this list:
  • Time Enough for Love - Robert Heinlein. Some 2500 years in the future there lives an incredibly old man, one who has lived since 1911 or so. He has decided that it's time to end it all but his descendants keep him alive so he can share his accumulated wisdom. This book is high on talk-talk and is easily my all time favorite.
  • War for the Oaks - Emma Bull. Set in the Twin Cities of the 80's, this book deals with a war between good and bad faeries. It centers on a musician who has been thrust into the middle of the whole deal. Very good storytelling. Has one of my all time favorite characters (the Pooka). Filled with local geography.
  • The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson. It was tough to figure out which of Stephenson's books to go with here. I picked 'Diamond Age' because I think it has the most immersive world of any of his novels, one of the most immersive of any that I've read. Also, the idea of a special book to help teach children of the dangers of life is outstanding. The ending is weak but the rest is good enough to cover that.
  • Lest Darkness Fall - L. Sprague de Camp. The story of a modern (well 1938) man who is transported back to Rome. He uses his modern knowledge of technology to carve out a living and tries to stop the coming of the dark ages. Great story, great humor.
  • Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie. (Fantasy? Well, magical realism which is a type of fantasy, right?) Story of the birth of India told in context of a boy with special powers. Simply outstanding storytelling. Another all time favorite.
This is the list that I submitted and I'm happy with it. Two of the books, 'War for the Oaks' and 'Lest Darkness Fall', are certainly too little known to make it to any kind of final poll. 'Midnight's Children' while well known and celebrated won't be thought of as part of the genre. The other two are well known and well loved, though each is controversial in their own way.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Popular Crime - James

(Sorry about the lack of a post yesterday, my free time was taken up reading this book.)

Let me start by admitting that I don't pay much attention to crime stories. I've long thought them too salacious and intrusive and basically not worth my time. This book has changed my mind.
Bill James (the author) is best known for bringing a statistical look at baseball and I'm sure I'm not the only reader who picked up this book only because of its author. By his own estimation he has read upwards of a thousand 'true crime' books and this book is something of a way for him to organize his thoughts on the subject. It wanders between crime stories and crime theory in a way that would be annoying with a lesser writer but his conversational style is compelling. I found it hard to put down.
There are several parts to this book. The bulk of it is made of discussions of various famous murders in US history. I learned a ton. In most of these he offers his opinions of innocence and guilt, as well as his opinions of the actions of the police and prosecutors. James has an obvious interest in forensics and criminology that make this fascinating.
He also works to place these crimes in context, especially with the media coverage that accompanied them. This means exploring how various murder mysteries became famous over others and also how different cases changed laws and police technique. This description sounds dry but he always brings the interesting.
Interspersed with these sections are musings about the overall justice system. He talks about what works well and what has failed us. The book has gotten some grief because he blames some of the surge in crime in the 60's and 70's on the Warren courts rulings and attempts to secure the rights of the accused. I won't give blanket agreement to his opinions but he brings up some very good points. Near the end he gives a well thought out idea on prison reform that is probably too radical to be tried but interesting and proof of some long hours of thinking.
This isn't a field that I'm normally interested in and I could hardly put this down for two days.

Amazon link.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

A happy Father's day to my dad first of all. We were down in Austin yesterday and got to see him for a few minutes. He chased the kids for a bit (as is his wont) and it was very pleasant.
Most of the trip was spent with Mom, well, nearly all of it and that was very nice too. She has planned a trip and the FP Gal wanted the rest of us out of the house so it all worked out well. We stopped at the cemetery so we could see the card catalog that she'll eventually be using. (Btw, the kids love to wander there around and sometimes on top of the stones. I suppose this is common enough but I'll admit that it freaks me out a bit.)
Lunch was at the Tendermaid. The FP Gal was pretty actively jealous that we got to go there. It's not the least bit toddler friendly and eating was not easy. But it was yummy and we made it. Later we went to the A&W where they had high chairs, tables and (yipee!) frosty mugs of root beer. That worked out better.

The FP Gal gave me a very nice gift this morning. She took the kids and let me have a few hours to do whatever I wanted. I went and got bagels and then off to Half Price Books. I got this book here and I've been pecking at it today. Very good!
The kids are finally in bed and asleep. DF did his best to remind me that I'm a parent tonight. He's going through a really difficult evening phase. Tonight he took more than an hour of work to finally settle. Ugh.
But even with that, let me say that I have wonderful kids and I'm glad that I have them!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Best Picture Noms

For years I argued that the Oscars were making a mistake with the Best Picture category by having five films duke it out, regardless of its type. Comedies and dramas are so different that it's difficult, if not impossible, to judge them against each other. Two years ago they expanded the number of nominees to ten in an effort to expand the types of movies that make the nomination list.
This week they decided to scrap that system and go to something new. Starting next year there can be anywhere from 5-10 Best Picture nominated films. The process goes like this:
  • First, all the ballots are separated into separate stacks according to which film is listed as a first choice.
  • Second, any movies that reach the five percent threshold are automatic nominees. Their stacks are then redistributed to their second or third choices according to a mathmatical formula. Their second or third choices count as partial votes when added to the remaining stacks.
  • Third, at the opposite ends of the spectrum, those movies that have received less than one percent of the vote also see their stacks redistributed to their second if still available, or third choice if still available, etc.

At that point, the redistribution stops. The movies that have reached the five percent mark all become nominees.

They've gone back through past votes and shown that between 2001 and 2008 this would have resulted in each number of noms between 5 and ten. So we really could have a strange number come up next year. In theory this could result in either 4 or 11 as well and I don't see anything in the article that would prevent that.
If I could make a suggestion here, I wouldn't mind it if they simply capped the number of movies at five and then figured out a different way to showcase the other movies. My idea is that they simply set up a montage of Honorable Mentions, with extended clips of each. If the idea is to promote and sell movies this would do it. (I'm sure interest in 'Winter's Bone' went up about 800% after people could finally get some idea of what the heck it was.) Then they could still concentrate on the 'big' five and keep the field at a manageable level.

Friday, June 17, 2011


A very brave robin has started hanging out in our backyard. I don't know if it's a mommy staying near younglings or what but the robin bop bops around on the ground. The kids can be fairly near without him/her flying off.
Today I suggested that Relia name the Robin. (The FP Gal is afraid that I am turning into my mom.) The conversation went like this:

Me: Relia, what should the robin's name be?
Relia: Cathy. [This has been her go-to name for some time now.]
Me: No. You just named your toy pony that and it would be too confusing if they had the same name.
Relia: What about Ni Hao Kai-Lan? [Name of a kid show that I can't stand.]
Me: No, that wouldn't be a good name for our robin.
Relia: (pause) What about Field Guide?
Me: 'Field Guide'?
Relia: Yes, Field Guide!
Me: Ok.

So we now have a robin named 'Field Guide' living in our backyard.

Have a Great Friday

Relia helped me pick this one out.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


It was an active day here on Walton mountain. Or at least it seemed that way. There was lots of running around and playing in pools and swinging on swings and once Shiva, Destroyer of Kitchens was done with her work we even went out to eat. (The destroyed kitchen makes going out an easier sell.)
Once nice thing with the long summer days is that we can usually run Relia hard enough that she conks out pretty quickly once in bed. Twice this week the FP Gal has carried her in asleep from the car and put her right down for the night. Tonight wasn't quite that easy but it wasn't at all hard.
Well before 9p they were both asleep and we had the night to ourselves. We fired up the Netflix and started watching 'The Third Man'. She said she was up for some Hitchcock and I quickly said "this is Hitchcock-esque" and started it. I'm always afraid of pushing her to see movies because I have a tendency to oversell them. This time I hit the right balance and she simply got to watch and enjoy. Best of all, and one of the finest compliments you can give a movie, she got into it.
Afterwards we sat on the back step and watched the full moon for a bit. If the bugs hadn't started tasting me, we'd probably still be there. What a perfectly good ending to a wonderful run of the mill summer day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Favorite Books and Gender

A few weeks back the Guardian asked readers what their favorite science fiction book is. Some 500 readers responded. A few days later it was pointed out that of the 500, only 4% were written by women. It has been widely pointed out that this is appaling and efforts are being made to bring more women authors to mind when readers are asked for favorites.
I feel raw over the whole thing. I was one of the 500 and I answered honestly that my favorite book is Heinlein's 'Time Enough For Love'. And it is. This is my proverbial desert island book. When I was in the hospital, this is the one that Jodi knew to bring to me. It's not a perfect book but it speaks to me. And damn it, I shouldn't have to defend why something is a favorite of mine.

So why was the gender split so heavy towards male authors? It's impossible to tell the gender of most of the responders but I'd guess it was heavily male. And favorite books are usually books that have stood the long test of time. Back before the 70's, science fiction was very dominated by men. A boy's club if you will. I don't know enough about the history of the period to tell why this was or what changed it but there it is.
The other piece of this is that most readers responded with science fiction as opposed to fantasy writing. In fact, most fantasy leaning ballots were somewhat apologetic. Well, for a long time there has been a pretty drastic split between men writing hard science fiction and women writing fantasy. I don't know why that is but there you have it. If you ran the same piece and asked for fantasy writing (and excluded Tolkein) you'd almost certainly get a majority of women authors.

But let me go back to the outrage here. It isn't hard to picture an open ended question that gets an overwhelming response for women. If you asked the readers of 'O' for their favorite novel of the last 50 years what would you get? Whatever response there was, if it favored women 19-1 it would not be an outrage.
I'm in favor of gender equality overall and I don't want women authors to face a harder road than male ones. I'm in favor of going back to the more sexist times and finding gems that were unfairly rejected. And I'm not opposed at all to lists of books that people think are worthy and underread.
But. Stop calling me sexist because my favorite book was written by a man.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Toy Phones

We have a toy cell-phone but it is not as fun as the the corded one pictured here. DF has taken to wandering around the house and talking on it. Of course his parents wander all over while talking on their phone so it only makes sense. Once we get on the phone we're like a family of Wilburys.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Today was the first day of the FP Gal's summer break. Obviously that will make life around the house very different. Since both of us are home during the day we can more easily plan things to do.
We started out with the Minnesota zoo today. It was much busier than I'm used to. One of the advantages of being a stay at home parent is that you can pick and choose a little as to when you go places. That means I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to crowds. The FP Gal didn't think it was crowded at all.
Weather has been fairly cool here for the past few days. Last week we went from being the hottest city in the country (honestly) to very cool June weather. Highs in the 50's and 60's kind of cool. It's hard to figure. Though if I have to choose between an unusually cool summer or an unusually hot one, I'd go for the cool one every year!

Happy Monday

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Six years ago today the FP Gal and I tricked our family and got hitched. (You probably don't need to hear the story again but if you do, you can find it here.) It's been a busy six years. And frankly, it's hard to believe that it has been six years. Both because that seems like it couldn't have been that long ago and that six years isn't enough time for the things that we've done.
Anyway, FP Gal, I'd do it all over again!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Upcoming NFL Schedule

There was a report earlier this week that the NFL had made plans for an eight week schedule if the labor situation forces enough cancellations. According to the report:

Under the reported plan, the eight-game season would start in late November and culminate with the Super Bowl in Indianapolis Feb. 12. The NFL has previously cleared the way for the Super Bowl to be played as late as Feb. 12.

The league is looking to give teams five weeks before the season to sign free agents, hold training camps, and possibly play preseason games.

I thought it would be useful to look at what such a schedule would mean. The current set up is very simple. Each team plays:
  • Two games against each divisional opponent, both home and away (6 games).
  • A game against every team in a different conference division (4 games).
  • A game against every team in an opposite conference division (4 games).
  • A game against the same place finisher in the other two conference divisions (2 games).
It's a very balanced schedule and easy to figure. It also has the virtue of being very fair within each division. All but two games feature common opponents. So what would an eight game schedule look like? The simplest to figure would be this:
  • Two games against each divisional opponent and two against same place finishers for a total of eight games.
But that would mean no inter-conference games and very few inter-divisional games. It would mean some decidedly unsexy television slates as less popular divisions would never play against more popular opponents. It would also mean that the NFL would miss on this year's matchups between the NFC East and the AFC East. I'm guessing this wouldn't fly. So what else?
  • Three against the division, four AFC/NFC games and one against a same place finisher?
  • Four against another division in your conference and the other conference, all division teams playing the same schedule?
  • Eight games picked by the league with some crazy formula that wouldn't make complete sense?
Option one could be tweaked to create the best TV matchups. Option two would be the fairest from strength of schedule but would mean no divisional games. Option three might be the actual way it would go since that would give the most freedom for scheduling conflicts and TV.
Ok, but what if the season is more than eight games? The season is set to go on September 11th, so the labor situation would need to be figured out by August 7th or so to keep everything as is. If they want to eliminate the bye week and the week off before the Super Bowl that pushes things back as far as August 21st. My sense is that the pressure will be on the players and not the owners, so I think if it goes to August it will probably go into September as well.
Players won't actually miss any money until they start to miss game checks, which happens after regular season games are played. If they fold after one week (say September 14th) then the league still wants five weeks to get moving. That would put the season start somewhere around October 23rd and probably a twelve week season. What would that look like?
  • Six divisional games (home and away), two against same place finishers and four against a common division either same or opposite conference.
If the lockout goes two more weeks, then they'd probably do away with the same place finisher games. All of this is guessing, of course, but reasonable ones. Of course, the easiest way forward is if they figure it all out and play the whole thing. Fingers crossed!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Have a Great Friday

I think this is South America and not Iceland, but I could be wrong.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Fields of Gold (Eva Cassidy)

E-Readers Again

An interesting article from Wired discussing how e-books are inferior to paper ones. The author gives five reasons and I thought it would be fun to go through them.

1. An unfinished e-book isn’t a constant reminder to finish reading it.
He feels that the sight of a book lying there nags him to continue in a way that e-books don't. I have some sympathy for this. I've raced through good books on the Kindle but bad books really drag. That's true in real life I suppose, but they're easier to avoid in digital form.
2. You can't keep your books all in one place.
This is a problem for people who buy books from several different stores and devices I guess. I've got just the Kindle so this isn't an issue for me. But I can see where it would be. I'm hoping that eventually we'll have common formats and buying books from all over will be like buying music MP3's. So far that isn't the case.
3. Notes in the margin help you think.
He wants a better system for making notes while reading than what's out there already. I keep running into this complaint and I don't get it. I almost never write in a book. Are other readers really so different? In any case, this seems like a problem that will almost certainly be solved sooner rather than later.
4. E-books are positioned as disposable, but aren’t priced that way.
This complaint is common too and I don't agree with it. There is this idea that e-books should be much cheaper because they don't have to be printed or transported anywhere. This ignores so much of the real cost; things like you know, paying the author and editors and publishing staff. Think that may be important? And besides, items aren't priced by figuring production costs and then adding some percentage of profit. Prices are based on finding the right spot on the demand curve to get the most money*.
5. E-books can't be used for interior decorating.
This is a good point and I'm going to quote the author here at length.
It may be all about vanity, but books — how we arrange them, the ones we display in our public rooms, the ones we don’t keep — say a lot about what we want the world to think about us. Probably more than any other object in our homes, books are our coats of arms, our ice breakers, our calling cards. Locked in the dungeon of your digital reader, nobody can hear them speak on your behalf.
This is true but it won't be a problem for some time. I can't imagine anyone buying an e-reader and then getting rid of all of their bound books in one fell swoop. But maybe that's a failure of imagination on my part. If I had an e-reader twenty years ago my bound library would be much, much smaller. Maybe my kids won't have one at all.

*I've got a pet theory that if the laws of supply and demand were taught early and often in school, our entire populace would be smarter about money.

Recorded Sports

Every fall the FP Gal and I go through at least one moment of tension when I want to be home in time for a game to start and she's upset with me because the DVR will record it. Her point is that I can still see it, so I should just be patient and wait. My point? Well, it's different when it is recorded. It just is.
You don't find that compelling? Then read this article here listing reasons why the recorded experience just isn't the same. Excerpt:
1. The removal of commercials erodes drama: If I record a sporting event, there's no way I'm sitting through the commercials. That would be like volunteering for a DUI. One of the central pleasures of self-recorded TV is eliminating our forced exposure to advertising. Yet this is probably an error, at least when consuming sports. It's during those moments when nothing is happening that the drama of a game becomes most palpable; this is why static sports like baseball and golf generally feel more gut-wrenching than fluid sports like soccer and hockey. By purposefully skipping all the game breaks, I'm inadvertently skipping the gaps that manufacture tension. I should probably just sit through every commercial and let the tension build. But I'll never do that, because that would make me an idiot.
By the way, this is completely true. Football especially has a rhythm that is build up with the time between plays. Take out those few seconds and the game is entirely different and exhausting. The commercial time adds to this, though not as perfectly. (On the other hand, I'm very happy to fast forward through the half-time show. The twelve minute break can be well used to get food or something but usually it's just too long. And Bog save us from various network attempts to entertain us during that time. Yes NBC, I'm looking at you.)
My feeling with baseball is a little different here. My subscription has been largely used in letting me watch games the next morning. I don't wait on the results and I skip the bad losses but I watch most of the games this way. Of course, baseball games aren't nearly as important on a game by game basis. It's more the dailiness of them that counts.
So what am I saying? Yes, it matters if it's live. It just does.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Interesting article on the importance of roughhousing for kids. This makes me feel a little better about Relia's insistence on messing with DF. Right now she wants to bump him around when he's walking. Often he doesn't even understand that she did something, simply that he's being knocked over.
Part of me is frustrated by this but I try to remember that my siblings and I were pretty rowdy with each other. At some point he'll probably be bigger and more aggressive than she is too. I imagine the bumping will stop sometime before then.

Let me be clear, mostly she gets along pretty well with him. In fact, I'm amazed at how often she works to make him smile and laugh.


When the Apple Tv is idle for more than a minute or so it goes into a screen-saver mode. (I've been listening to an internet radio station this morning so it's been idle for some time.) We have it set up to show a never ending collage of family pictures. For the first time that I've ever noticed DF is watching them today. I'm sure he has seen them but today he is paying attention.
Whenever the picture changes and it's someone he recognizes, especially Relia, he says "Hi!". He has been saying it clearly and in context and I hereby declare it to be his first word.

So mote it be.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Sorry for the light posting. The FP Gal went out of town to party with other teachers and I was a single dad for some time. (Btw, I can not express enough how much respect/sympathy I have for actual single parents. Can't imagine how hard that is.) Anyway, they wore me out Friday and Saturday.
Today we were a whole family again and we had a full day. We went to Lake Nokomis. Relia and the FP Gal played in the water while DF and I chased around the picnickers in the shade. Good time was had by all. We had planned a trip to DQ on the way home but Relia fell asleep so we just went home instead.
There were many naps when we got home and then I went grocery shopping. By myself. You don't understand how nice solo shopping is until you've had kids.
Dinner tonight was over with the FP Gal's folks. Steaks on the grill and stuffing (a surprisingly good combo). We got the kids back home much later than usual. And . . . I got to watch more 'Twin Peaks'.
As I said, a full day.

Friday, June 03, 2011


While driving this morning Relia and I had a disagreement about the headband she wanted to wear. She thought 'no one will like me if I don't wear it', while I thought 'I'd like one day of people not pointing at us while I sheepishly explain that she dressed herself'. Anyway, the argument raged on until it hit this roadblock:

Me: You are not wearing that out of this car and that's final.
Relia: Yes I am!
Me: No you're not!
Relia: Uh-huh!
Me: Nuh-uh!
Relia: Uh-huh!
Me: (deciding that I was done arguing)
Relia: Uh-huh!
Me: . . .
Relia: UH-HUH!
Me: . . .
Relia: Daddy! (pause) You need to say 'nuh-uh'!

Note: she did not wear the headband.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Earlier this week Relia showed off her green thumb. Or as she told me "I planted a maple syrup tree!". All very exciting but with one serious downside. She expects the syrup today. She keeps asking if it's ready now. Or how about now? Now, is it?
Anyway, today while we were driving home from preschool she asked when she could have an apple tree so she would have her own apples. I decided to take the bull by the horns . . .

Me: Relia, trees take a very long time to grow up. If we planted an apple tree we wouldn't have apples for a long time.
Relia: Yes we would!
Me: No, honey, it takes a long time. Do you see these big trees on both sides of the road [points to either side of Park]. They were planted even before Nana and Grandpa were born.
Relia: Nana and Grandpa were born 100 years and . . . two weeks . . . away!
Me: 100 years and two weeks?
Relia: Yes!
Me: Um, that's not quite right honey.
Relia: (pause) Are the trees older than Grandma D?
Me: Um, some of them are.

Recreating Early Washington DC

Very cool video here of a painstaking recreation of our early Capital (and Capitol!). I'd love to see this type of thing with the twin cities area as well. (via i09).

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Grave Matters

Via Lileks today:
Tuesday night was unusual; the Precious Schedule was upended with a five-hour block of duty – first a funeral visitation in a far-distant part of town. Wife’s uncle. There was a video in the corner playing old photos; nice work, but – I know, I know, this is awful and petty – it used a stock 80s-style Microsoft font whose name escapes me. Made me think I should just put my own post-mortem slideshow in the can so I can control these things.
. . .

I told my daughter not to use this font on my memorial. Rolled eyes. Okay, whatever. What font do you want.

I don’t know. There are fonts that you love, that say something to you, but they’re not about you. Hard to pin that down.

“I’ll put Hobo on your tombstone,” she says.

“I’ll come back and haunt you.”

I had a very similar conversation with my Dad on Monday. His beef is with plastic flowers on graves. He also threatened to come back and haunt. So . . . if you need to talk with Dad after his unfortunate demise, you should open with plastic flowers.
I suppose we all have something that would appall us to be memorialized with. There is a certain four letter baseball team that would positively enrage me if it was somehow mingled with my remains. And certain disco songs. Ironically, 'I Will Survive' might actually bring me back long enough to dispatch my tormentor.
But fonts? No, that won't do it for me.

PS: This post is at least in part in excuse to use my 'Beyond the Grave' tag which is pretty sadly under utilized.

Earth Rotation

There have been an absolute flood of wonderful time lapse astronomy videos lately but this one stands out. Instead of watching the sky rotate above the Earth, this one has kept the night sky steady to show how it's the planet doing the serious moving. Very cool.