- 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.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
- 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'.
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!
Sunday, June 26, 2011
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".
*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.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
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.
Friday, June 24, 2011
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!
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
- 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.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
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
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:
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.
- 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.
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
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!
So we now have a robin named 'Field Guide' living in our backyard.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
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
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
Monday, June 13, 2011
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!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Anyway, FP Gal, I'd do it all over again!
Saturday, June 11, 2011
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:
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.
- 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).
- Two games against each divisional opponent and two against same place finishers for a total of eight games.
- 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?
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.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Thursday, June 09, 2011
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.
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 MLB.tv 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
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.
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.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
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
Me: You are not wearing that out of this car and that's final.
Relia: Yes I am!
Me: No you're not!
Me: (deciding that I was done arguing)
Me: . . .
Me: . . .
Relia: Daddy! (pause) You need to say 'nuh-uh'!
Note: she did not wear the headband.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
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?
Me: Um, that's not quite right honey.
Relia: (pause) Are the trees older than Grandma D?
Me: Um, some of them are.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
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 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 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 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.
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.