Monday, January 31, 2011

John Barry, RIP

Sad news this morning, John Barry the composer for many, many films has died. He's the man behind one of my all time favorites, the theme music to 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service':



He also did the music for 'Out of Africa' and 'Dances With Wolves'. Some absolutely great stuff.

Happy Monday

This looks spring-like to me and frankly, we could use some spring.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Math Problem

I ran across this problem somewhere on the internet and I don't remember where.

Imagine a country where the custom is that the last child should be a boy. If two parents have a boy then they stop having more children. If they have a girl, then they may continue and have more kids until they have a boy. Here is the question: long term, what is the male/female breakdown of the population?

Leave your answers in the comment section.

(When I mentioned this to the FP Gal we actually flipped coins and charted twenty families. That's why I love her!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Overheard

While driving in the car today.

Me: You miss Jo and Annie?
Relia: Who?
Me: Josiah and Annika.
Relia: Yes. (pause) Why did you call them Jo and Annie?
Me: That's their nicknames.
Relia: (nothing)
Me: Ok, your name is Aurelia-
Relia: My name is Sarah!
Me: (sigh) Your name is Aurelia and we call you Relia or Rellie, right?
Relia: (nothing)
Me: What nickname should we give to Felix?
Relia: (very quickly) Dragonfire!

I have no clue whatsoever where she came up with the name 'Dragonfire'. It sounds a bit too dynamic for his current age.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2010 Oscar Noms

The 2010 Oscar nominations were announced today. The Best Picture noms were:

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone


I don't know that there were any movies surprisingly left off of this list. In fact, if you compare this list with the older five movie lists, you start to see more commercially viable movies. It's not just the art house list that we saw for a few years.
I've only seen three of them. 'Inception', 'Social Network' and 'Toy Story 3'. I haven't blogged about this but I didn't really care for 'Toy Story 3'. That would leave either 'Inception' or 'Social Network' for movies that I have an informed opinion of and either one would be a worthy winner.
Anyone see the others? How were they? What should win here?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sandwich?

I ran across a list of ten new sandwich ideas from across the country. Most of them look too messy but #7 looks all kinds of yummy. I may have to see what a homemade version would taste like . . .

Happy Monday

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Playoff Picks

Not going deep into it today (no time!) but I'm going with the Bears (+3 1/2) and the Steelers (-4). The coin?

Packers
Jets

Records as of last week:
Me 3-5
Coin 1-7

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Overheard

Scene: Relia has brought me a Spider-man book to read. We try, but it's too adult for her.

Relia: I can read this when I'm older.
Me: Yep. Daddy will have lots of comic books that you can read when you're older.
Relia: (thinking) And I'll have lots of books about ponies that you can read!
Me: Um, thanks sweet-heart.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Amazing Voyager

Ran across this article about Voyager 1 this morning. The probe has nearly reached the end of the sun's influence and crossed into interstellar space and it's still sending back data. It has traveled further than any other man made object (though at some point that record will shift to newer and faster probes).
I've been reading about the Voyager missions and the most interesting part is just how far it has exceeded it's official mission specs. In the early 70's some researchers at JPL figured out that there would be a rare planetary line up later in the decade. A probe launched in a small window of time in 1977 would be able to reach Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and possibly Pluto. This same lineup wouldn't occur again for another 176 years.
They asked Congress for funding but the price tag was too high. So the engineers quietly decided to get sneaky. They wanted two different probes but the mission would be much less ambitious. Instead of visiting five planets, they would just get two. Congress said yes.
But (and here's the sneaky part) they decided to build the probes as long lasting as they could. They thought that if the probes were still running well they could simply continue on to the other planets. They didn't want anything that would wear out after a few years. Then they crossed their fingers and sent them up.
That was nearly 34 years ago and both of them are still going strong. The data they send back uses cutting edge 8 track technology. Your home computer has a much better processor. So does your phone! But we're still getting good data.
Each has a plutonium power plant and they expect them to run until at least 2025. They'll continue out after that of course, silent messengers from the human race. The JPL guys should be very proud, very proud.

Have a Great Friday


(Relia helped pick this one out.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Home Update

I'm showing videos of eclipses to Relia, trying to explain the dynamic of how they happen.

Felix is busy moving furniture around the house.

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader as to which one resembles which parent.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Playoffs

Ok, so last week I didn't do so well. I went 1-3 while my flipped coin went an incredible 0-4. (Well, not incredible. The odds of losing four 50-50 chances are 1 and 16.) Let's see if I can do any better this weekend, or alternately, if I can pick all four losers!

Baltimore at Pittsburgh (Steelers favored by 3)
These are two of the most physical teams in the league. Both are hard hitting. These two are in the same division and play each other at least twice each year. Their games are almost always close. Which makes me lean towards picking the Ravens. Nah, I have a feeling that the Steelers will roll today.

Green Bay at Atlanta (Falcons favored by 2.5)
Oh, I want to pick the Falcons here. They had the best record in the NFC. They've had a week off. The Packers have a tendency to self destruct every once in a while. The Falcons should be pumped and ready to play. But I still believe that the Packers will make me miserable somehow.

New York Jets at New England (Patriots favored by 8.5)
Another rivalry game. This time I think that the Jets are overrated and that the Pats are probably the best team in the league right now. I'll go Pats in a big way.

Seattle at Chicago (Bears favored by 10)
The Seahawks go on the road. They easily have the worst record of the remaining teams. But they seem to have something going. And I don't trust Jay Cutler even a little bit. I'll pick the Seahawks.

The coin?
Ravens
Packers
Patriots
Bears

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter

Because tonight I find myself wishing that we were about to kick off another Olympics:



Goodness, that's gorgeous. Gives me goosebumps.

I may have to borrow Mom's copy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Overheard

While picking Relia up from preschool today and strapping her into her car seat . . .

Me: Hey, scoot back so I can buckle this.
Relia: I can't. The poop is in the way.
Me: Poop?
Relia: Yeah.
Me: (sigh) In your pants?
Relia: Yeah.
Me: Did you tell anyone at preschool?
Relia: No.
Me: Why not?
Relia: It was quiet time!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thousand Year Game Design

Here is an interesting idea:
Challenge
Create a game. The game can be of any theme or genre you desire, but there is one restriction: You're creating a "new classic," like Chess, Tag or card games. So, create a game to be enjoyed by generations of players for a thousand years.

Prize

$1,000 to the winning entrant, to be announced and awarded January 1, 2012.
Details at the link. I've mentally played around with game creation for some time. Almost all of mine have been too complex and niche to be considered an all time classic. It would need to have some compelling simplicity. Would reward some kind of skill but be open enough that new comers would enjoy it.
Hmmmm.

Overheard

Scene: the backseat of the car, both kids strapped into their various car seats

Felix: [sneeze!]
Relia: Bless you! Bless you. Bless you.
(starts singing)
Bless you, bless you, bless you/
I made you out of clay./
And when you're dry and ready/
With you I will play!
(end scene)

I don't know if this is another sign that our family is supposed to be Jewish or not. I do know that her daddy often has a random phrase turn into an existing song so I totally know what she's doing.

Dear Winter

I know in the past I've said that it's the cold that bothers me, not the snow. Well, that's true but after some time the snow gets to me too. By my careful time we've had a different snow at least 50 separate days in the past month. Usually a dusting, sometimes a couple of feet. This morning it looked like about two inches.

I've had enough of it.

Seriously, just knock it off. It's bad enough that we have to enjoy your company for five months out of the year. Do you have to make such a mess while you're here? We've had enough of your snowy gifts and no longer know where to put them.
We can find where you live. Don't make us come looking for you. There is a lot more aerosol we can put in the air if you force our hand.
You've been warned.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Starwatching

I've been complaining about the amateur astronomy available in Minnesota in the winter. Since the beginning of November the nights have either been too cloudy to see any stars or too cold to spend any time outside. Last night the FP Gal told me that it was clear and not too windy. In case I wanted to try the conditions.
Which I did. One of the targets on my list is the Orion nebula. If you look just below the belt, near what looks like a sword, you'll find the nebula. And I did find it but the city lights washed most of it out. Still, I'll take it.
Then I moved to the front of the house so that I could see out to the west and take a look at Saturn. According to the online sky-map, it's in near conjunction with Pluto right now. It was easy enough to pick out even if I couldn't see the rings. There were points near it that must have been moons (and everyone's favorite dwarf planet). Saturn's rings are supposed to be at a great viewing angle in April so I'll check back then, if not sooner.
Was it cold? Yeah. It really was. I needed hat and gloves and my total time outside was maybe ten minutes. Still, I got it in.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Playoffs

The NFL playoffs start today and once again I'll see if I can figure my way to an 11-0 postseason. Unlikely, but what the hey. And for those of you playing along on Yahoo, we're picking these games too this year.
New Orleans at Seattle (Saints favored by 10 1/2). The Seahawks are the first division winner with a losing record in NFL history and frankly, they probably aren't as good as even their poor record. The Saints, of course, won last year's Super Bowl and had a pretty good year. The Saints are without either of their top running backs, they have to travel cross country and play outdoors. And 10 1/2 points is a pretty big number. The Saints would have to blow them out to cover the spread. The weather forecast says it will be rainy. I'll take the Seahawks to cover but not win.
New York Jets at Indianapolis ( Colts favored by 2 1/2). I can't stand this year's Jets team. They're brash and arrogant. Their QB often looks over his head. The Colts on the other hand have put 400+ people on injured reserve and kind of look like it. Still, I like Manning to somehow pull off some playoff magic and then get smacked next week. I'll pick Colts.
Baltimore at Kansas City (Ravens by 3). The Chiefs have improved this year to rise from awful to division winner. The Ravens have been a good team for years. The Chiefs have this year's best running back while the Ravens have a pretty good defense. The game is Kansas City, which enjoys one of the best home field advantages in the league. I'll go with the Chiefs to upset.
Green Bay at Philadelphia (Eagles by 2 1/2). Two mirror image teams. Both have superior QBs and passing games. Both have defenses that are good but can have bad games (although the Packers have an edge there). The Packers record in Philadelphia is abysmal especially in the playoffs. Still, I can't help but think that the Packers will somehow shine and win.

What does the flipped coin think?
Seahawks
Colts
Chiefs
Eagles

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Overheard

The FP Gal: (talking about Felix in his high chair) He has a little chin dimple. I've never noticed that.
Me: (looking) That's a cheerio.

Our little boy (who I don't write about enough) is a little cheerio fiend. He loves them. We think that he might be teething again and I think there is a soothing effect. It's some kind of General Mills pharmacology.
What else? Well, he's very much on the move. Loves to walk around while holding someone's fingers. He's starting to get braver and braver about letting go but he's not walking . . . yet. He still isn't doing the classic crawl. Mostly the pushing himself backward stuff. He has also started some forward movement by pulling himself with his hands. Having hardwood floors helps. Someday he'll get his knees involved but not yet.
Still lots of smiles and he loves to laugh with his sister. A very cheerful boy.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Overheard

Relia (with an etch-a-sketch type toy): Dad, can you draw a 'T'.
Me: Sure.
Relia: And an 'A'.
Me: No problem.
Relia: And then . . . a bacon.
Me: 'Bacon'?
Relia: Yes, a bacon. (pause) And then maybe a triangle.

Crash Day

It was eight years ago today that I took my Kia into a tree while going 60. Yep, it's that maudlin time of year again! Hard to believe that the time has flown so fast.

Back when I was dating, about eight months after the accident, I had great difficulty figuring out when to tell my dates about what had happened. Too soon and you lose any possible focus and simply become 'that half blind guy'. Too late and you've mispresented yourself. Seriously, I had nightmare visions of my medical stuff coming out on the honeymoon! After much consideration I figured on three dates or two weeks, whichever came first. That felt about right.
For years I've been trying to figure out how to tell Relia. After much consideration here, I've just avoided it. She knows that I can't smell things and frankly that is a much bigger handicap than the monocular thing. Every once in a while she tries to kiss my nose and make it better. She seems genuinely surprised when that doesn't work.
This week she asked why my nose doesn't work. I told her that I got hit on the nose and she really, really wanted to know about what hit me. And I don't want to tell her yet. I don't want her to think of cars as inherently dangerous. Both because I want her to feel safe and also because (maybe selfishly) I don't want to talk about my accident every time we go somewhere.
So I'm still tap dancing around it. With any luck I can keep this up for another year or two when she'll be mature enough to better understand it. Again, this feels about right.
I'm not worried about Felix or any future children. She'll make sure that they know about it and it will simply be a part of who their father is. C'est la vie!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

So . . .

Maybe you've seen this commercial.


So . . . are the other kids regularly eating soccer players?

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Two MOA Stories

Relia is getting old enough to where she now wants to go on the rides at the mall. Two of them especially, the log ride and the aerial swings. We got some wrist bands for a full day of admission and planned to use them on Friday. Unfortunately the FP Gal and I both thought that the other one was bringing them. Oops! So we bought some points and Relia and I did the log ride together.
She was very curious about the whole operation. Wanted to touch the fake rocks. Wanted to see how people got in and out of the little boats. And then it was our turn. I helped her into the back part of the log. If you've never been on a log ride, you should know that there are little bars along the inside so that everyone can hold on. Instead of these, I sat behind Relia and held her hands to reassure her.
We drifted and bumped along without problem. We went up a belt and around some corners. She saw the Killebrew chair and the animatronic guys. Then we came to a small downhill inside of the structure. She was fine going down but then my lack of grip on the rails meant that I slammed her forward into the padding. Shock and pain! And much crying. And apologizing from daddy. By the time we made it around to the big hill at the end she was pretty freaked out.
Needless to say I felt terrible. And she's not excited to try it again anytime soon. (sigh)

Today we were out there, just her and I. We were checking in at the aquarium and I had to call her over from a group of kids that were also there. When I said "Aurelia!" the whole group looked and it made me wonder if I'd been too loud. She ran over and the lady that was herding the other kids came too. She asked me what Relia's name was and when I told her she said that one of the girls with her had the same name. It was the first time either of them had ever met another one. I was nearly 30 before I met a name-twin but she made it at 3!