Thursday, March 31, 2011
It doesn't come out for a while yet but I'm going to put it on my list.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Q: How do you get dragon milk?
A: From a cow with short legs.
I think he told Relia about this last week because now she knows it too. She hasn't told it to any strangers yet (that I know of) but I'm sure that's because she never finishes our family tree and history quickly enough to get to the jokes. Yesterday in the car she tried playing with the formula:
Q: How do you get princess/fairy milk?
A: From a cow with very tall legs.
Gotta love that!
Monday, March 28, 2011
Relia: Is that your Viking hat?
Relia: And is that your White Sox hat?
Relia: I like your White Sox hat!
Me: Thanks, sweetheart.
Relia: (pause) But I want a Tinkerbell hat! Yay, Tinkerbell! Go team Tinkerbell!
Could be an interesting baseball season . . .
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Fast forward to today and she asked me to play again. This time I let her do it all on her own and (this seemed like a milestone) I taught her how to restart it after her three lives were up. Which she did. Again and again. It wasn't even irritating. In some ways it felt nostalgic.
I can't wait until she starts playing Asteroids!
And now, on to this week's episode! Each team had one small task to perform before leaving China. They had to find a tea shop and drink some tea. What they didn't know was that they would later have to identify that one specific tea out of a multitude of others. They all flew to Calcutta, India on the same flight.
They were all amazed at the crowds at the airport at midnight. For some reason that's when the international flights arrive in India, in the middle of the night. Then followed frantic taxi rides to the town hall. Once they got there they discovered that it didn't open until 10a the next morning.
Then came the tea tasting. This may have been the most brutal task in the show's history. There were 400 tea cups on sets of tables and one member of each team had to find one that matched what they had tasted the day before. The ones that got it quickly didn't taste much tea, instead they smelled it. The others got through with brute force, simply drinking tea and hoping it was the correct choice. By the time it was finished it looked like at least three quarters of the cups had been drunk. That's 300 cups of tea spread unevenly between eight people. As I said, brutal.
The rest of the tasks had more to do with simply getting a good taxi and finding the right location than anything else. Luck of the draw with cab drivers was the main force with this leg. Sometimes this bugs me in the show but it worked this time.
Margie and Luke were eliminated, mostly because Luke took the longest finding the right tea. It's hard to blame him since this really was a tough task. The most you can say is that he was really not good at handling adversity when things went against him.
One other thing, as the racers reached the mat they were awarded with a 'first taste' of a bottle of tea that Snapple had created specially for this occasion. They didn't show negative reactions but I can't imagine that people who had just drank dozens of cups of tea. I probably would have thrown up on his shoes.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
- See some art at a museum.
- Take in some theater.
- Run off and see a circus.
- Invite myself to a posh embassy party.
- Partake of some exotic cuisine.
- Catch a movie.
- Learn a new language.
- Unearth some hidden gems at the used bookstore.
- Buy something selfishly for myself.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
2001: A Space Odyssey
You can go there and vote if you're interested. No registration or anything needed.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
(And before I go any further, I big, big thank you to my dad and to the FP Gal's mom. Watching two small kids overnight is a lot of work and you were both very helpful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!)
On Sunday we lit out for exotic Rosedale so we could have some eats and see a movie. Our timing was poor and we missed the afternoon showing. That meant a 430p trip to Macaroni Grill. I recommend the 'penne rustica', by the way. We'd debated on going to Panera but we decided that we can easily do that with kids and it was good to take advantage of our carefree status.
Went to see 'King's Speech'. An excellent movie, well acted and written. Made me glad that I wasn't born into the British royalty. I didn't think it was better than either 'Inception' or 'Social Network' but it was a worthy Best Picture winner.
Then off to the St Paul hotel (after a quick drive thru to get a half shamrock, half chocolate shake at Mc'Odonalds). As I was checking in they offered me a Sunday night special where they would upgrade our free room to a suite at a portion of the regular cost. We got the Ambassador Suite. I think that the FP Gal got some pictures. Lavish, I guess but we were tired enough that we didn't really do partake of many amenities.
Monday morning found us at Bread & Chocolate, the FP Gal's favorite breakfast spot. We made a quick Half Price Books stop and then back home to relieve Pop-Pop. He was a trooper and made it through just fine. The FP Gal's mom came over about 230p.
Down to Bloomington to a converted hotel that we've stayed at before, Le Bourget. We like this place because it has fun French designs and a pool that stays open 24 hours. That last bit is key. We love the ability to stay out late and come back to the hotel and go for a swim. Not that we were night-owlish at all. But we got out money's worth, swimming twice yesterday and again this morning.
In fact, this morning we drove back home to collect the kids and then swam around with them for an hour at the hotel. Which was wonderful. DF loves to have water all over him in the bathtub and this was like the best bathtub ever. Relia is uncertain of the water but enjoys it once she is in. We swam and swam and were sorry to dry off and leave.
All weekend we'd been saying that we could take the kids to Panera so we decided to actually test that theory. Relia nearly ruined it with a strong run of the No!s. It's easier to judge what you can and can't do with kids when they aren't with you.
Back home to naps!
Monday, March 21, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration
Unfortunately, we've got cloud cover here! If you've got clear skies, please enjoy...
Friday, March 18, 2011
Relia: I can't give you my foot!
Me: Why not?
Relia: (pause) Because it's connected to me. (longer pause) My foot is connected to my leg. And my legs are connected to my . . . bottom. And my bottom is connected to my tummy. And tummy is connected to my neck. And my neck is connected to my head.
Me: Very good, sweetheart!
Relia: And my arms are connected to my shoulders.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
There are two reasons for this. The first is that for the last ten years I was the guy in the office who organized the office pool. On Monday morning I'd send out the email and print off some brackets. Then I'd dutifully collect $2 from all the participants (not so big that it hurts, big enough that the final prize is worthwhile) and hang on to copies of their sheets. On Friday and Sunday nights I'd tally up everyone's points so I could send out updates. All wonderful stuff.
Of course this year I'm at home. I thought about having Relia pick out teams and pushing the FP Gal to play. Maybe I could figure some way for DF to make some picks and draw up brackets for the cats as well. While I'm at it, I could loan them all $2 and see who wins. I have a feeling that this would someday be held against me during sanity hearings.
The other reason is that the NCAA screwed up this year. Oh, I have no beef with teams that were selected or where they were placed. They screwed up by adding three more teams, some of them 8 and 12 seeds. The old set up was that there was one early game between two 16s. It didn't matter who won because no one expected that team to win any other games.
Not so this year. 12 seeded teams win about one in four times and 8 seeds go about 50/50. That means that you couldn't pick out a tournament of 64 teams until late last night, about 12 hours before the whole shebang starts. I can't imagine how tough this is for the office bracket guy to manage.
Anyway, I'm still hoping for good games!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
If you watch Jurassic Park backwards, it’s the heartwarming tale of scientists and dinosaurs working together to build an amusement park. Then the people betray the dinosaurs, putting them in cages and ultimately flying back to Montana to bury any evidence they existed at all.And:
If you watch Jeopardy! backwards, it's a show about rich people paying money for answers to questions.
Relia: Why didn't you just unplug them?
Me: They wouldn't have worked if we unplugged them.
Relia: (pause) Well that's stupid.
Cell phones are great, I have no doubts about that. They've given us freedom and connectivity that was simply unavailable back when I was a kid. We use them all the time to casually separate at the mall, comfortable in the knowledge that finding each other will be easy. I can call from the grocery store to get guidance on where they've hidden various things that the FP Gal wants. We can easily call for help if something happens to the car.
I'm not sure how we'll handle the cell revolution when the kids get old enough to use them. Do they get their own to call their friends with? Or do they borrow mom and dad's phones? Neither of those sound good.
I guess we have a few years to figure it out . . .
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The article is interspersed with quotes from Bernard Moitessier, who was kind of a sea going mystic. My favorite is:
You do not ask a tame seagull why it needs to disappear from time to time toward the open sea. It goes, that’s all, and it is as simple as a ray of sunshine, as normal as the blue of the sky.Which sounds totally cool until you remember the people left behind.
Monday, March 14, 2011
So while we there today Relia came back to me with a sock in one hand. She said that a boy had taken it off of her. I quickly put it back on and told her if she didn't want to play with him, she should simply stay away. She went back into the maelstrom.
A couple of minutes later she ran back and fell and the boy got on top of her. I fought off protective dad urges so I could see what happened. She told him to get off twice and he didn't. They were close enough that I leaned in and said, "Kid, you should get off of her. She asked you to." He did so right away. Don't think he knew how to feel about me, I tried to be firm but not threatening.
She ran off again and he didn't chase. For a few minutes at least. Then he was after her and she was laughing and laughing. They circled around and around for a few minutes until I warned them to stay clear of other people. Which they did. A few minutes later I gave her a two minute warning and soon we were off. Before she left she told her new friend goodbye.
As I was putting her shoes on she started to complain about him chasing her. I asked her if she knew why he chased her. She said no so I told her it was because he thought she was cute. She didn't know what to do with that info. So I asked her if she enjoyed playing with him. She looked thoughtful and then said, "I really liked it when he chased me".
Daughter mine, you have some playground lessons coming up.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
At the end of last week's episode the Globetrotters were assessed a half hour penalty for accidentally taking another team's pack. I was pretty sure that it wouldn't matter since most legs start with a flight and a bunching point. Sure enough, this week all of the teams were told to get on the same flight to Kunming China and then on to Lijiang. The flight left about twelve hours after the first team departed so they had ample time to drive to the airport. At least it was ample for most of them. Kent and Vyxsin got horribly lost, drove in the wrong direction for hours and ended up missing the flight.
Most teams divide up between driver and navigator. I've never understood how the navigator could just sit back and get more and more lost. Keep checking the map. Double and triple check it! Keep an eye out to spot signs along the way. Driving for three hours in the wrong direction is unacceptable.
The bulk of the teams ended up in Lijiang, which is a beautiful mountainous area in the southwest part of China, not far from the border with Burma. See here for tourist information. They had to cross a river on yaks. Simply gorgeous scenery. Next they had to take a gondola up the mountain and find charms that had pictures of all the animals in the Chinese zodiac. Kent and Vyxsin caught up with the tail end of the teams here.
Then it was down to the old town (a Unesco Heritage site!) for a couple of simple local tasks. One of the teams here (Ron and Christina) speak Chinese and therefore should have had a big advantage. And would have except that Ron got very distracted by reminders of his childhood and lagged behind.
Two things happened right at the end. First of all the teams got to the Pit stop and were told that they weren't done yet. This is the second time this has happened in a very young season. I like it.
The second thing was that Kent and Vyxsin lost a bag with their passports in a gondola. They'll have to go back and find the bag in the right car. They have to hope that the extended leg (which they don't know about) will allow them to catch up. In all honesty, anyone that screws up this much deserves to be knocked out. We kind of expect that next week they'll somehow destroy a car, blow up a village and end up in prison.
Again, what a beautiful setting!
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Relia: (in a very irritated voice) Why can't I see Grandma Erna's skeleton!
Me: Uh . . .
Lately she's a little fascinated with death. Great fun for us parental types.
Update: This is not Grandma Erna's skeleton.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
However, please take a look at number ten. It's called The Great Maze at a little place called the Puzzling Center in New Zealand. How cool would it be to take the kids to something like that?
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
- 'Fountains of Pardise', Arthur C Clarke - this was a Hugo winner and I'll give it a full review when I get back to doing so.
- 'The Road', McCarthy - a bleak masterpiece. Post apocolyptic journey of a man and his son. Reminded me of the best of Stephen King.
- 'Anathem', Neal Stephenson - this is on my reread regularly list apparently. Damn fine book.
- 'Godforsaken Sea', Lundy - a book about the '96 Vendee Globe race, a single handed yachting race that takes place every four years. The story is phenomenal, filled with injuries and sudden disappearances. The writing was good but not nearly as good as:
- 'A Voyage for Madmen', Nichols - a book about the very first single handed round the world yacht race. Simply a gripping book with several fascinating stories. Very well written.
- 'Possession', Byatt - the Booker winner from 1990. Incredibly highly regarded but kind of a dud for me. Details two scholars trying to connect English poets from the 1800's. Didn't do a thing for me.
- 'Snow Queen', Vinge - Hugo winner for 1981. Couldn't get into it, will try again.
- 'Downbelow Station', Cherryh - Hugo Winner for 1982. Couldn't get into it, will try again.
- 'Foundation's Edge', Asimov - Hugo Winner for 1983, will get it's own post at some point.
- 'How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe' Yu - a possible nominee for this upcoming year's Hugo award. Pretty good, may get it's own post.
And probably half a dozen other smaller things that I can't remember right now. Strangely for me, the non-fiction held my attention better than the fiction.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
So I looked at the Matchbox website and lo and behold, they have a play coming up in April. A quick peek at the cast list and I find that her cousin Montana is there. Now we have to go! And then I made the mistake. I talked about this to the FP Gal in front of Relia. Now she's obsessed.
Today's ride to preschool went something like this:
Relia: Are we going to the play?
Me: No honey, that's not until next month. A long time from now.
Me: Because that's when it is.
Relia: But Montana will be there!
Me: Uh, yes she will.
Relia: Why can't I be in the play too? (!!!)
Me: You can sometime but not for this play.
Me: Two reasons, one you're a bit too young and two it's in Austin.
Relia: Where Pop Pop lives?
Relia: And Montana lives with Pop Pop.
Me: In the same town, but in her own house.
Relia: And that's where the play is.
Me: Well, not at her house. At the theater. Kind of like where you saw the movie.
Relia: (big flash of inspiration) I want to be in the 'Tangled' movie! I want to be Rapunzel!
Me: (losing ground) It doesn't quite work that way.
Relia: But I want magic hair!
Me: (still struggling) Um, that kind of magic is only in stories, sweetheart.
Relia: But I want to be in those stories!
Me: You'll make your own stories. And they'll be good!
Relia: And then I'll be in the movie?
Me: (staying silent in hopes that she'll change the subject)
Relia: And then it will be Halloween?
Me: No honey. Not yet.
Relia: Next month.
And on and on and on until we finally pulled up at preschool and I was discharged. I don't think that I really captured the whole Abott and Costello approach to her reasoning. She doesn't find finality at any point in the conversation, she just veers.
But she wants to be on the stage! Don't worry sweetheart, I'll help you out with that.
Monday, March 07, 2011
- Kids. Two kids take up sooooo much more of my creative time than one did. That's especially true with DF. Months ago he always needed watching but didn't need a lot of hands on care, now not so much.
- Other media. I have so much trouble figuring out whether to post something here, on Facebook or at Twitter. Quite often this means that the post simply disappears into the back of my head never to be seen again. I've got some ideas on how to fix this. The first step is to admit that it's happening.
- Lack of feedback. I'm not sure what happened but it seems like my audience went silent about four months ago. I don't know how many people still visit the blog on a regular basis, though I know that the number is down. Looking around at my blog tree, it seems like quite a few dry spells out there. Has the blogging moment passed?
- Blah weather. Yep, this winter is getting to me. I could easily dash off an 'I hate winter' post every morning. No one (myself included) would want to actually read them. Some spring weather would improve my mood quite a bit.
Anyway, I'm trying to figure out some blog things. Any questions or suggestions would be welcome.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
One of the things that the FP Gal and I do is pay close attention to the starting time of each of the teams. We're not quite certain that the editing crew plays fair with chronology and the start of the show is pretty much the only place that they give us a concrete time for each of them. This week started with only a half hour spread from first to last.
First up was a flight from Sydney to Tokyo. There was a choice between a direct flight that would arrive at 615a and a connection through Hong Kong with a 6a arrival. Normally I'd always choose the nonstop, especially since the advantage was only 15 minutes. But . . . the connection time in HKG was a full three hours, plenty of time. I hemmed and hawed and told the FP Gal that I'd risk the connection. Of course that flight had a delay and ended up an hour and half late.
All of the teams had to drive themselves in Tokyo traffic. Which was nightmarish. The Cheerleaders clipped someone's mirror and ran into a serious delay. The Japanese man that they hit called the police. Imagine being in a race, near the bottom of the pack and trying to figure out a small traffic accident with someone who didn't speak English. Very deflating.
The teams had to mirror a traditional Japanese dance and shoot an arrow from the back of a false horse. There is an elegance and grace to Shinto culture and especially architecture. This episode did a good job of displaying that. This is one of the things that the Amazing Race does really well.
Then the teams had to choose between two tasks. One of them had them drive up a mountain and, after some brief chanting, stand under a very cold waterfall for a full minute. Very straight forward and the teams went pretty quickly.
The other task was a search for a lucky frog. This involved crawling around in a giant mud pit while other people threw mud at them. These searching tasks are always a crap shoot. If luck goes against you the search can go on forever. And did I mention that it was pretty cold? And that the sun set on the later teams? It was brutal.
One team basically quit. This team had the oldest member and frankly it was too much. They were very nice guys and we wished them well but . . . we weren't sad to miss out on a few more episodes of them suffering.
Beautiful scenery, lots of human drama and a competitive finish. What else can you ask for?
Saturday, March 05, 2011
Today he choose to use his new power to knock over a pile of cardboard bricks that Relia had stacked up. We tried to calm her by saying that he was just being Godzilla. Of course, she had no clue what we were talking about. (And upon reflection, exactly why did we think that would be calming?) She's just starting to learn that little brothers aren't always fun.
Still sick here at home, nothing really serious. My cold is nagging it's way into week four by now and I'm really tired of it. DF has decided that he isn't going to sleep at all tonight (boo!).
At least it will be spring in the next six to eight weeks.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Me: Is a pterodactyl bigger than a robin?
Relia: Yes! (pause) Robins have red tummies.
Me: Very good!
Relia: I'm a . . . bird expert. [I swear this is what she said.]
Me: Wow, you sure are. Did you know that robins are Grandma D's favorite bird?
Relia: I didn't know that.
Me: And that one of the surest signs of springs are when the robins return.
Relia: . . .
Me: They fly south in the fall, like so many other birds.
Relia: The ostriches walk south.
I love, love, love the idea of big migrations of ostriches wandering south from Minnesota and down through Iowa and Missouri. As I told this story to the FP Gal tonight Relia started a long story about the ostrich family reunion when millions of ostriches gather together and have cake.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Relia: Sometimes I get owies on my hand.
Me: Yep, we all do.
Relia: There was that one time with the kitty box that I got hurt!
Me: But you're fine now, right? You can't feel it anymore.
Me: We all get hurt a little bit now and then, but we get better.
Relia: (pause) When they put me in jail it hurts my feelings.
Me: (not sure what to say) When they put you in jail . . .?
Relia: They don't usually put me in jail. (long pause) Only in stories.
10. Start with Class and Stop Thinking Outside the Box
Go back and watch the best reviewed and most beloved telecasts.
Rinse, wash, repeat…
However, I did have one 'outside the box' idea this morning that frankly they'd never go for. I've complained before that the Oscars don't release the vote totals. Finding out the second and third place choice would be almost as interesting as finding out who won. To this end they could flash the rankings and percentages as they announce the winner. Yes, it's kind of game show but it would be absolutely riveting TV.