Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

In what has become something of a tradition for us we went down to Austin today for Memorial Day. You may remember our trip last year where we raced down there but were late for the parade. We really, really didn't want that to happen again so the FP Gal and I woke up very early to get us on the road. She woke up DF and I woke up Relia. I don't know that this has ever happened to us before.
We ate and dressed and packed and were on the road by 630a. We made good progress and even had time for a bathroom break. It was 828a when we pulled into the parking lot for the parade, a full two minutes before its listed beginning. Except that the schedule was wrong and it started about 850a. Oh well, better early than late!
We used the extra time to meet up with family. Pop-pop, of course, Uncle David and Aunt Donna, Andrea and shortly thereafter Uncle Jerry. Not a big crowd watched the parade but our family was well represented there. In fact, we almost outnumbered the parade participants. The Austin parade has really shrunk. Many of the units are just barely represented now.
On the plus side, we used the sidewalk space to let the children run wild and free. Or something like that. DF toddeled and toddeled all around. He left short little finger and mouth prints on all of the storefront windows. Relia was her usual charming self as well. (Look, I've got a mirror and I know how to use it. Very little credit for my kids cuteness goes to me. But man, o man, are they cute!)
Off to the cemetery for the service there. After last year's 21 gun daddy wetting, we made certain that Relia was empty this year. DF wandered around with the FP Gal chasing. (She had given me the camera but I forgot I had it, darn it. I did get some picks of her holding him though. Maybe she'll add them for me.) My former principal gave a short speech before the wreaths were laid. It was frankly the most non-apologetically patriotic thing that I've heard in a long time. Very long on recognizing the hardships that soldiers go through and recognition of what they've meant to our country. It was bracing.
The shots were fired and there were no accidents this time. Pop-pop raced over with Relia and they got one spent shell. (Military types are welcome to correct me here.) Then we took a short walk over to my maternal grandparents graves and cleared them. They both died too young. My fraternal grandparents graves next and while Grandma Erna lived a good long life, this Grandpa also died too young. Makes you think.
Off to a playground, the one at Sumner school. Pop-pop told us that they're putting in air conditioning there so that they can go to all year round school. When she heard that the FP Gal started doing the math to figure out if we could move to Austin or not. The math still says 'no' but this definitely moved the dial.
Off to Culver's for lunch with the family. Everyone listed above plus Amy, Ricky and their kids Montana and Devon. The FP Gal's folks were driving back from Iowa and they even timed the trip well enough to meet with us. By this time the kids were just running on fumes. Poor DF even rested his head down on his place mat from time to time.
We finally broke for home only stopping for gas first. Both kids were asleep before the tank was full. Eventually the FP Gal fell asleep too. Somewhere around Northfield Relia woke up and her first words were, "Can we stop at Pop-pop's first and get a cookie. Please?" I had to break it to her gently that we were far away from Austin.
One by one the rest of the family woke up and then we were home!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Overheard

In the car this morning:

FP Gal: Relia, do you know what day tomorrow is?
Relia: Monday?
Me: Monday. Gotta get down on Monday.
Relia: (singing quietly) Gotta get down on Friday . . .

I'd say this qualifies as a parenting fail but neither of us can figure out where she learned the 'Friday' song from. Not even sure where she would have heard it at all. I guess culture really does invade everywhere.

Friday, May 27, 2011

List of #1s

I mentioned this site a couple of months back but I want to do so again. They are doing a countdown of the best 200 songs that reached #1 since 1955. Which is a pretty sizeable endeavor when you think of it. I might question their judgment as the numbers get lower but not yet. Each song comes with a set of facts like this for their #150 song 'Chapel of Love':

Stats:

  • #1 for 3 Weeks in 1964 (June)
  • Replaced: Love Me Do - The Beatles
  • Replaced by: A World Without Love - Peter & Gordon
  • Sample Headline from its Reign: Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life in prison.
  • #2 Hits It Prevented from Reaching #1: None
  • Top 200 #1 Hits 1955-2000 Rank: #167

The last great girl group song to reach number one. Since it cleaved two Lennon & McCartney hits, it was clear there was a change in the air 1964, but this song was too good to pass up. I was playing the #1 hits at a retreat for the small church I was in about ten years ago. This was a congregation that was trying to incorporate contemporary music into its services and was struggling with a small size due to one thing and another. When Chapel of Love came on my book box, everyone sang along and when the harmony part started everyone found a different part of the harmony to sing. The music leader at the church said: "Why can't you sing like this on Sunday morning?" I didn't have a good answer then, but I do now. Chapel of Love requires you to sing a long, requires you to harmonize and it does through the repetition of the "one line repeated four times" refrain. That is genius songwriting and the purity of the Dixie Cups vocals only improves its message. And it's some antiquated notion of marriage as the expression (rather than the conclusion) of young love is beautifully naive.

Coming up: #149 - "She's so pretty. Lord, she's fine."

You may notice this lyric hint for the next song, in this case 'Hey Baby'. About once a week a catch up with the list and read off the hints to the FP Gal to see if she can guess the song. Her breadth of musical knowledge is better than mine and she has a good ear for lyrics so she does pretty well. I thought it might be fun to post the last ten songs hints that they've given so you could try it on your own.

#134: "Won't you say you love me all the time?"
#133: "In a world of tears I slowly drown"
#132: "You're the meanest old woman that I ever have seen"
#131: "Times are good or bad, happy or sad"
#130: "Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun"
#129: "Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down"
#128: "All the girls around her say she's got it coming"
#127: "He was out of town and his two friends were so fine"
#126: "You've been around all night and that's a little long"
#125: "My love you didn't need to coax"

You can leave your guesses in the comment section if you'd like. I totally should have gotten #129 and didn't. The FP Gal probably got seven of these right. Answers? Go right over here and just keep reading.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Overheard

After a few minutes of quiet in the car this morning.

Relia: What if a real live moose actually got hurt.
Me: What do you mean?
Relia: Well . . . what if one caught fire?
Me: Um, how do you think that would happen?
Relia: There could be a fire at the zoo. And then the moose could catch fire!
Me: Sweetheart, they work very hard to at the zoo to make sure there are no fires.
Relia: Good.

(A few minutes later . . . )

Me: Do you think that dolphins would be ok if there was a fire?
Relia: Yes! Dolphins can swim very fast if there's fire!

The things that you learn from your kids!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Joplin Tornado Pictures

A set of them found here. Note the full path of the tornado seen in picture 3. Also note the cars piled up in picture 10. Just a wildly devastating storm.

Update: Related, this is a first person video taken during the tornado. It's almost exclusively audio and it's scarier than any movie.

Another update: This photo is simply amazing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movies of the 00's

Interesting user poll from Tor.com, asking what was the best science fiction or fantasy movie of the last decade. The results:
  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - 172
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - 151
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - 147
  4. Serenity - 107
  5. Inception - 92
  6. WALL-E - 88
  7. Pan’s Labyrinth - 80
  8. The Dark Knight - 78
  9. Spirited Away - 67
  10. District 9 – 67
  11. Moon – 66
  12. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – 60
I'm not surprised that the LOTR trilogy dominated. It really was a monument in epic fantasy movie making. So much so that it overshadowed other efforts to repeat it's success. I can't understand how 'Two Towers' could possibly get the least votes of the three since it was clearly the best of them.
The rest of the list has some very good movies on it. The only quibble I have is with 'District 9', which I thought was overrated. It's nice that 'Eternal Sunshine' is on here. If you haven't seen it, you should. A very endearing love story.

Happy Monday

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ebooks

Interesting post from Megan McArdle about the future of print books:
There's a famous old joke about two people walking through the woods when they spot a bear. The first hiker drops down and prepares to play dead. The second one opens his pack and takes out a pair of running shoes.

"What are you doing?" asks the first hiker. "You can't outrun a bear."

"I don't have to," responds the second hiker. "I just have to outrun you."

New technologies are like that. They don't actually have to be faster, or better, than any conceivable product. They just have to be better in key ways than the competition.
She talks about how industries reach tipping points as technology progresses. If the printing industry loses too much ground to ebooks then printing firms lose out on their economy of scale and costs go up. If ebooks become the norm then there will be less infrastructure in place to deliver paper ones. She also mentions that it's entirely possible that the next generation will grow up with e-readers and never develop the fondness for paper that we have.
I'm don't know how far things will go that way and she hedges as well, but it's interesting to think about. Yesterday I mentioned that I'd been reading a long pair of novels by Connie Willis. After I was done I still wanted to read some more of her work so I switched from my Kindle to a paperback. I'm not enjoying the experience as much. Part of it is that it's simply easier to read the Kindle while parenting. You can read with one hand and if you set it down for a minute you don't have to find your page again.
The world is moving on. Wonder where it's going from here?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Stormy

We have had some thundery, stormy weather here today. Enjoyable all, save for the part where I was driving Pagoda when the wipers stopped. That wasn't fun at all. Tonight we've had some of that low rumbling in the distance stuff. We also had that last week and (what fun!) it was accompanied by a tornado warning.
The FP Gal came upstairs and got me from work so that I could join her and the kids in the basement. This meant that DF was awoken and it completely screwed up Relia's bedtime. Good times all.
So there we were huddled in the basement wishing for a radio and all I could think of was the London Blitz. I was reading Connie Willis's books 'Blackout' and 'All Clear', a story of time traveling historians who go back to London in 1940 and have to deal with the Luftwaffe and nightly bombings.
Think about that situation for a moment. Every night they would hurry off to shelters. Each time they would hope that their spot wasn't hit. Every morning they would wait to see who of their co-workers, friends or family were still with them. And they carried on through all of it. Stiff upper lip and all that. It beggars my imagination.

I'll stick with the tornadoes, thank you very much.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Overheard (Star Wars Edition)

This morning we watched a bit of the 'robot movie' (i.e. Star Wars) at Relia's request. We haven't watched it for some time so she had some questions.

Relia: And who are those guys?
Me: They're called Jawas.
Relia: (pause) Did your mom teach you that?
Me: Uh, no, I don't think she did.

Last night at dinner she told us that she hates Star Wars because everyone at preschool goes on and on about it. The FP Gal told her that her parents enjoy it and then I told her that it had robots in it. She decided that she might give it a try.
If my math is correct I was just about the age she is now when Star Wars first came out. I have dim memories of seeing it at a drive in though I also remember watching the next screen over which either had 'Jaws' or 'Smokey and the Bandit'. (Wikipedia tells me that it must have been Smokey because Jaws came out in '75. Unless, well, did drive in movie theaters show two year old movies back in the 70's?) Anyway, this feels a bit like a baton has been passed.

Comet Hitting the Sun


We live in amazing times to see things like this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fountains of Pardise

This book was the 1979 Hugo winner.

This book is really about futuristic engineering, specifically an engineer who is building an elevator that will reach all the way up to orbit. On the way it takes some lovely detours and asks some interesting questions. It's a bit on the dry side but I'd recommend it.
We open in the past, in a thinly fictionalized version of Sri Lanka, the island that Clarke lived on for the last 50 some years of his life. The story is about a king who lives on a mountain and a monastery on the next mountain over. They have an uneasy relationship at best.
Fast forward hundreds of years and the kingdom is long gone but the monastery remains. Which is a problem for our protagonist, Dr Vannevar Morgan, a renowned engineer. He has decided to build a space elevator and the best spot on the globe is occupied by a monastery. He tries various ways of arguing with them and the solution is, well, interesting if not the least bit convincing.
There follows the details of the build itself, which is pretty interesting. And I really mean that. The concept here is an enormous one and Clarke really shows what it can do. He brought the idea to the forefront and it has since caught on in space communities. He is the one that thunk up geosynchronous orbits for satellites and this could be an even bigger deal.
Alas, like other Clarke stories, the characters are fairly cardboard. They exist to do things and mouth ideas but there is no sense of depth. The climax at the end is workmanlike, if less than exciting. But there is a poetry here, especially in the interplay between past and future. As I said, I'd recommend it as a good read. Not a great book but a good one.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dear Kraft

You've recently changed the design on your Macaroni and Cheese boxes. One unfortunate element of this change is that it is much harder to tell at a glance which of your many yummy varieties is in the package. This needlessly puts my wife's spiral Mac & Cheese at risk when I'm simply trying to make the traditional kind for the kids. Please correct this in your next design update, which is hopefully soon.

Regards!
A very loyal customer.

Survivor Review

Last night was the Survivor finale and I thought I'd jot down some notes. I don't normally review Survivor simply because I usually can't watch it until more than a full day after it airs but this time I'll make an exception. Survivors ready?
  • It had to be Rob. No one else deserved a vote. He was easily the dominant player. Not even close. Probst said that it may have been the most perfect game a player has ever played and that could be true.
  • Having said that, this was a very dull season. Once the tribes merged it was easy to see how the rest of the game would play out. Sometimes that tricks us into thinking that we'll see a different narrative. Not this time.
  • One of the reasons this season was sub-par is that there was an incredible amount of dead weight. Each tribe started with two girls who did almost nothing but ride coat-tails. One of them, Natalie, even made the finals. The four of them added nothing. Try harder, Survivor casting crew.
  • During the reunion show Probst announced that they'd have two former players on again next season. A very load groan came from the FP household. It seems that Survivor has lost confidence in its ability to find new and exciting players. Very sad.
  • Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the seasons with the all star cast. Former players have much sharper insight into how to play. But you can't do this every time. Especially with just sprinkling a few on there. It suffocates the other players. This season quickly became the Rob & Russel show. Next season will probably become the ___ & ___ show. This is not good for the franchise.
  • I'd still personally love to go on the show but I'm doubting that the FP Gal would ever let me. Yes, I'm out of shape but I'd still do very well in the social and strategic games. And I might even be entertaining and fun to watch (another thing this season lacked).
And now both of our reality shows are done until fall.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Overheard

In the car the other day after preschool:

Me: What did you learn about today?
Relia: We learned about what stuff is in our heads.
Me: Like what?
Relia: There is a pink gum in there. But you can't eat it. Your head doesn't open the right way. [Note: I think she is talking about the gums around the teeth but I could be wrong.]
Me: Oh.
Relia: Also, our brains are in there.
Me: And what do they do?
Relia: They send sig-inals to your hands and feet and tell them what to do.
Me: Yep.
Relia: And they get sig-inals from your eyes and ears too.
Me: Very good.
Relia: And that's what is in your head!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today

Just a brief rundown:
  • DF looks much better today. Much, much better. This might be a brief deal and not the full ten days that I feared.
  • Cool and rainy again today. I haven't written much about weather this month but the thing to understand is this: on Tuesday we were brushing up against 90. Today the high was about 43.
  • Went to the platelet vampires again today. Nice and enjoyable time.
  • For dinner we tried a recipe from my Campbell's soup cookbook. Some kind of 'flash back crispy ranch chicken' or other. Quite tasty.
  • After dinner I made some homemade blueberry ice-cream. We'll let it freeze overnight and eat some tomorrow.
  • Dr Who tonight, this episode written by Neil Gaiman(!). We're part way through and I'm enjoying it.
  • The rest will be watched when the FP Gal is done settling Relia.
That's all!

Friday, May 13, 2011

On Pox on at Least One House

Last night the FP Gal gave DF a bath and afterward she told me that he seemed to be getting a rash. He had some vaccines last week and we were told that there was a chance that he'd have a reaction. And (poor guy) he certainly has.
I felt bad because I'd been with him all yesterday and hadn't noticed a thing. Well, let me tell you, he didn't look like this! Just look at those spots. He's almost more pox than not.
Fortunately he doesn't seem to be in bad spirits. He hasn't been itching except maybe a bit when he wakes up. He tires a little easier and needs a little more cuddling but it hasn't been bad.
The really tough thing is that we can't really take him out in public easily now. We'd hate for him to get anyone else sick. He's fine around most adults, though notably not around the FP Gal's dad. This can possibly go for as long as ten days. We're hoping that our very advanced kids can get through this more quickly though.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Overheard

This morning while driving to work, and it helps to know that after she found out that Roxane has a tree in our backyard, Relia adopted the other one as hers. Got it?

Me: I love how quickly the leaves are coming out of the trees.
Relia: My tree is waiting for its leaves.
Me: Well, that happens sometimes with smaller trees.
Relia: (thinking for a bit) But when it grows maybe it will have apples and bananas and supper!
Me: Supper?
Relia: Like eggplants. Eggplants can be supper.
Me: I, uh, don't think eggplants grow on trees.
Relia: Where do they grow?
Me: I think they grow in the ground.
Relia: (thinks a bit more) Maybe it will get little white flowers. Then we'll have apples!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dirty Clothes

Wednesday mornings now involve Relia at preschool and DF at daycare. This gives me a few hours to catch up on sleep/get some things done around the house/regain some sanity. And today I need it.
The temps here in MN went from cool and springlike to full summer yesterday. I think that it went over 90. Anyway, sleep last night wasn't easy. My normal Tuesday night five hours became something more like three and a half. I'm kind of in zombie land.
So this morning I got food for both kids. Got DF changed and dressed. Relia was a big help by picking out her own dress and getting socks and shoes on with a minimum of fuss. I got DF's lunch packed (Relia's is provided) and out the door we went.
It wasn't until I we had arrived at daycare/preschool and I was unstrapping Relia that I noticed that her dress wasn't exactly clean. Some stains, guessing Mac & Cheese were on the chest. Not hyper noticeable but there. I said, "Oh sweetheart, this dress isn't clean."
She looked at me and simply said, "I guess it will have to do."

And so it will.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

With Felix

I know that Relia coverage on this blog really outshines that of our dear DF and that probably isn't fair or right. I also know that some years from now I'll read back through this and wonder what he was like as a baby. So think of these as notes for that time:
  • He is very inquisitive, really wants to get into things and see how they work. He doesn't seem to spend a lot of time at one activity but wanders from thing to thing.
  • Which shouldn't be taken to mean that he doesn't return to the same things over and over. He loves the toy kitchen in our real kitchen. And the new toy castle.
  • He also loves the cats. Is totally fascinated by them. Whenever one of them comes close enough for daddy to pet, he thinks it's the funniest thing ever. He also wants to pet them but can't quite figure out how not to grab. Eventually he'll get it and then they (Ozzie at least) will let him pet.
  • DF thinks that Relia is the most fun thing in his life. Which is probably true. She is in constant motion compared to us old sticks-in-the-mud. She enjoys playing with him and has lots of cool stuff.
  • Relia is working on figuring out the line where her play is too rough for him. DF shows the one year old habit of crying when something is taken from him or a door is closed on him. This is slow going but important for both of them.
  • He's got a great smile. He isn't as generous with it as his sister was but when he uses it he can light up the room. The quickest way to get him to smile is to laugh near him. He just can't wait to join in (though I sometimes think that he doesn't really get the joke).
  • Has a very good appetite though is a little picky about his eats. He can finish off a McO'Donalds cheeseburger all by himself faster than his daddy can. Doesn't care for french fries though. Loves, loves to eat peas. Other veggies are more hit and miss.
  • DF thinks that Relia's shoes should not be trapped in a basket but should live free hither and yon around the house. (Well, so does she.)
  • He is very cuddly, especially when tired. Already knows how to give good hugs.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Overheard

Relia: Ok. Pretend that you're the bouncing monster and you stayed right there!

Happy Monday

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Amazing Race Review

Spoilers ahead, of course.

And we go from the Alps to Rio de Janeiro. Only four teams are left. Two of them found flights that would get them into Rio at 730a and the other two were set to come in at 540p. Ten hour advantage? That's a big deal. But (not surprisingly) the two later ones found out about the earlier flight and voila, everyone was together. The whole season has fit this mold. Each of the opening flights has been a bunching point and there has been little advantage in the flights. (Well, except for Kent and Vyxin's Japanese adventure.) I'm fine with this.
Into Rio and on to the taxis! The Globetrotters drew the short straw here and ended up missing a tram. The next one didn't come by for a half hour. They were fortunate though, they were able to catch up at a samba challenge. After everyone got a Brazilian wax (ouch!) each team had to choose between making 100 mixed drinks or selling bikinis on the beach. Poor Zev and Justin tried the bikini approach and failed miserably.
Then it was off to the Pit Stop at the Contemporary Art Museum. Gary and Mallory got their first, followed by Jen and Kisha. The Globetrotters came in third and Zev and Justin were eliminated. We learned some things here. A) Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and B) the bikinis in Rio make the CBS blur machine busy.

This was a two parter so we also got to see the finale. The remaining teams all took the same flight to Miami. Once there they had to go to a marina and move some boats with a forklift. This time Gary and Mallory the slow cab and it basically sunk them. The Globetrotters and Sisters were neck and neck throughout. Well, almost. The Sisters were simply a little bit faster.
From the marina they went to Key Largo where one member of each team used a personal sub to hunt in treasure chests for a clue. These tasks really punish later teams as there are fewer and fewer clues left.
Then they went to a camp where they had to wade through shallow water to a scrub island and find a clue box. The wind picked up here and it looked kind of tough. Next was a speed boat to a trailer park (seriously) where each team had to set up a trailer tableau to match a picture. The wind made this very tough.
The Sisters got this done first and they were off to Seven Mile bridge. There they found big tricycles to ride across with. The Globetrotters weren't far behind them but they just couldn't make up the distance. Kisha and Jen won despite never having won a leg before this one. They were a strong team and I wasn't sad to see them win. (Really, I liked all of the final four teams.)

And now comes the long sad time between the end of this season and the start of the new one next fall.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Derby Hats







Garage Sale Day

Today was the official kick off to the garage sale season. Here is what we did:
  • Relia came into our room at 7a, which was right in line with her light. We all got up and went downstairs for cereal. DF had sliced banana. We all got dressed and were out the door a little after 8a.
  • We arrived at the Bryn Mawr neighborhood and started walking the alleys and looking at sales. Relia had $1 to spend and that was quickly spent on a rock and roll Elmo. She also found a princess themed bike ($15) and we upgraded her ride.
  • Back to the car and we met up with the FP Gal's dad and his truck. We dropped our first load and went back to the hunt. DF was in the stroller and Relia went back and forth between walking and riding.
  • After a couple of hours we stopped for lunch. They all had pizza while I had a burger from a restaurant named Dredi. I won.
  • Back on the road (well, sidewalk). DF finally took a nap in the back of the stroller. Grandpa and Relia stopped to listen to a string quartet and the FP Gal and I continued on to another sale. While there we met another 3 year old princess. Someone complimented her on her dress and her mom had to prompt her to say 'thank you'. It's not just us!
  • More shopping and no big finds. We did get a Fisher Price castle. And a couple of puzzles for Relia. There were hardly any books for sale and none that I wanted.
  • Time to turn for the car. At our third to last sale we saw a denim chair ($5) that was just perfect for Relia. There were some tears as we figured out how to get it back to the car but nothing too serious.
  • Home but (surprisingly) no naps on the way. DF went down eventually but fightin' Relia would hear nothing of the sort. We played out back for a bit and then inside to tackle the new puzzles.
  • BLT's for supper. DF wasn't sure about tomatoes or bacon. Or the yogurt in which we crumbled up his vitamins. Relia at her's very quickly. Me? I've come to love the taste of bacon and mayonnaise.
  • Finished in time to watch the Derby. Wore some silly hats and cheered for horses. None of our picks won.
  • Coming up? Bath time, bed time and quiet time for parents.

Derby Day!

We're only a few hours away from the 2011 Kentucky Derby. Here is the field of horses:

I wanted to go with 'Stay Thirsty' but the FP Gal took it. So I'll go with my back up plan (i.e. pick a name having to do with cats) and go with 'Derby Kitten'. What's amazing to me is how long the odds are on almost every horse here. Only two of them are at less than double digits to win. If I was a betting man I'd plop down $20 on all of the 10/1 and 12/1 horses. If any of the five of them win (which isn't a bad bet) you'd double your money.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

National Days

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I was thinking about how we've adopted both Cinco de Mayo* and St Patrick's Day as national days here in the U.S. We celebrate Mexican and Irish culture on those days (to some small extent anyway). This made me think that we really could use some more days to help fill up the calendar and cover the other ten months.

*According to Wikipedia, Cinco de Mayo isn't really that big a deal in Mexico itself. How strange is that?

So let's see what we can find out . . .
  • January - Chinese New Year. The only problem with this is that, like Easter, it moves around a little bit and sometimes bleeds into February.
  • February 11th- Japan's 'National Foundation Day' which celebrates the founding of the Imperial line by Japan's first emperor.
  • March 17th- St Patrick's Day (natch)
  • April 30th- Queen's Day from the Netherlands. One of it's traditions is for flea markets in the streets. This should also serve as the kick off to garage sale season.
  • May 5th- Cinco de Mayo.
  • June 21st- Solstice, which is celebrated in Greenland. (Not a lot of obvious candidates for June . . .)
  • July 4th- Independence Day, this is the U.S. after all.
  • August 15th- Indian Independence Day, which celebrates the day they officially got clear of the UK. You could do a whole calendar with that exact phrase.
  • September 7th- Brazilian Independence Day, which would undoubtedly be celebrated with parades and dancing.
  • October 3rd- German Unity Day (or we could simply go with Oktoberfest).
  • November 30th- St Andrew's Day, patron saint of Scotland. Late in the year for kilts, but it is always the right time for Scotch!
  • December ??- I couldn't find any good obvious holiday but really if any month has enough holidays, it's probably December.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Overheard

Out of the blue, not connected to any other conversation . . .

Relia: (hands on hips) I. Am not a Diva!

Oh, sweetheart, I hope that you're not.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Thriller

For nearly 30 years I've been jealous of the copy of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' that my brother bought on cassette. Today I finally bought a copy of my own on iTunes.

The FP Gal and I are rocking out.

Amazing Race Review

(After we finished the show last night on the DVR, we turned back to regular TV and found out that OBL was dead. The recap kind of got lost. But better late than never, right?)

Our remaining teams are still deep in the Alps after, well hold on, I didn't blog that either did I? (Sorry, I don't remember the excuse for that one.) Ok, quick recap of that one, everyone went from Salzburg to Liechtenstein. While there, they had to measure the length of the country while on moped. The Cowboys screwed it up and had to repeat this. Everyone else worked together and got it right on the first try. The Cowboys fought to work their way back in but they fell short and were eliminated. Ok, everyone caught up?

So, our remaining teams are still deep in the Alps after last week. This time they stayed near the Matterhorn and everyone had to choose between Search (where teams use post-avalanche equipment to find buried signals) and Rescue (where a team member must rappel into a glacial crevasse and be winched out). The FP Gal and I were split on this. I thought that Search looked brutal just because it was so cold and windy up on the mountain. She reminded me that they often mix the tasks so that the harder sounding one is actually quicker. This time I was right. The Rescue part was fairly straight forward; each team went down and back up. The Search part involved digging down a few feet through snow.
The teams then made their way to a chocolatier where they had to make chocolate models of the Travelocity Gnome. This involved carefully painting two halves of a mold and then pouring the chocolate inside. There was controversy as the ownership of each particular mold got confused. For once, the camerawork on the show didn't help us figure out who was at fault.
The teams all finished in close proximity to each other. They were given a clue that told them to go on foot to the final Pit Stop, an old Swiss cabin. We were without sound for a couple of minutes due to an Amber alert but it looked like the only unlikeable team left, the Goths, wasted bunches of time looking for a taxi. They were first to leave the chocolate but fourth to get to the Pit Stop. Once there they got a 30 min penalty for screwing up the last clue. That let Zev and Justin slip in ahead of them and they were finally eliminated.

We couldn't have been happier. Why? Because Kent responds to stress by becoming a world class jerk. He blames everyone for any problem. Last night he repeatedly blamed their fatal taxi ride on Vyxsin because 'she read the clue first'. As if that absolved him of a) reading it and b) understanding what the words 'on foot' mean.
One of the joys of the Amazing Race as a show is that it lets you see how people respond to extreme stress. We much more easily cheer for those who try to respond with grace and aplomb. We especially like those who simply move on to the next obstacle and try to knock that one out. The other teams fight and bicker and try to figure out who will get blamed when they lose. It's not hard to see where that leads.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Happy Birthday!

A very Happy 1st Birthday to our beautiful little boy, Felix! You are the happiest and smartest little guy that we could ever ask for. I can only hope that this continues.

It was late on April 30th, 2010 when it all started. I was walking on the treadmill in our bedroom. (I'd been doing this for more than an hour, six days a week for the past two months. Little did I know that this hobby was fast coming to an end.) The FP Gal came up and complained that she was having some kind of backache. She said it kept coming and going. I remember thinking, "well, we're close to the due date so there's little chance that this is really the deal". But, we got out the stop watch anyway.
As we were timing the pains they became worse. We started talking about calling in to get some guidance and the pain got more intense again. By the time we got through on the phone, the FP Gal was doing some Dr Seuss style breathing (hee . . . hoo . . . hee . . . hoo). It was time!
The FP Gal got her stuff together while I tried to get a babysitter on the phone. Which all happened somehow (those details are hazy). Then we were in the car and seriously motoring the mile or so to the hospital. I dropped her at the Emergency Room door and peeled out to the main parking ramp. Then I found the unlocked door and ran through the halls so that I could meet her at the maternity ward. They . . . had no idea who I was talking about. But she soon arrived so then it all made sense.
Again things moved quickly. They told her she was at about 18 cm and away we went. The FP Gal's mom arrived and so did the photographer. (The sound guy and court reporter got lost somewhere.)
And then of course, it really was time. Without too much delay, Felix arrived. And he has been wonderful ever since.