Friday, September 30, 2011
I'll give it a shot though:
8. Yankees. Ugh.
7. Phillies. Double ugh.
6. Brewers. Yeah, it's been awhile since they've been good. But we get enough smugness from Packers fans without them suddenly finding out about baseball.
5. Cards. Actually, this is about the point where I don't care if they do or they don't.
4. Tigers. See point four.
3. Diamondbacks. Again, see point four.
2. Rangers. In the same category as the previous three.
1. Rays. Because it might help them out of the ugliest stadium in baseball.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I'm not sure what to do about it though. Other forms seem to offer better methods of getting info out. This is how I see it:
- Blogging: long form entries and things with a permanent record. Pictures (which would include personal pictures if we had a camera set up that I could work).
- Facebook: Shorter entries. Heavier emphasis on humor, especially funny kid stories. Links to articles and the occasional video.
- Twitter: Retweets and very short messages. Heavier political and sports content.
I'm still trying to figure all of this out. Any feedback would be appreciated.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Anyway, I've been pecking away at it up in my third floor abode for the past week or so and this morning I finished it. Or at least came as close to finishing as I will. The durn thing only has 999 pieces.
I remember the house we got it from and I'm tempted to write to them and see if they still have the lone piece rattling around somewhere in their house.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
He's learning and learning and learning. Every day he seems to understand more things. He can understand much more than he can speak, that's for certain. All very fascinating stuff.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Not sure why I didn't stumble across this song earlier in my life. Heard it yesterday and found myself captivated. The 'story' part of it where people meet to create a life together is interesting and of course the 'have a baby now' bit catches my ear right now. But I also dig the under-music. Even an acapella version of this would be pretty darn listenable.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I think it's safe to say that she has some work to do before she embarks on her legal career.
It really couldn't have been cuter.
Near the end Miss Amber brought out some things to help her. A small trampoline, two balance beams and some big soft triangles meant for tumbling. The kids went around and around in a circle from item to item, happily playing. Then she brought out a parachute and they shook it up and down.
She had a blast.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Relia: Guess what movie we watched at preschool?
FP Gal: I don't know. Which one?
Relia: I'll give you a hint. (long pause) It had a duck in it!
Lots of laughter and we pretty much agreed that this was the best hint ever. A few minutes later:
Relia: Guess what we had for lunch!
Me: Give me a hint.
Relia: I had water with it.
Me: Uh, how about more of a hint.
Relia: (long pause) It had a sloppy joe in it.
The FP Gal declared that this was in fact an even better hint than the duck one.
Monday, September 19, 2011
The article goes on to describe some ways of quantifying what the term 'character traits' such as tenacity and optimism. This seems like a very interesting approach although it is of course early days in the attempt. I discussed this with the FP Gal and she pointed out that private schools and top tier public schools have both resources and parental buy in that lets them do some things like this. A school such as hers couldn't possibly do so.
For the headmaster of an intensely competitive school, Randolph, who is 49, is surprisingly skeptical about many of the basic elements of a contemporary high-stakes American education. He did away with Advanced Placement classes in the high school soon after he arrived at Riverdale; he encourages his teachers to limit the homework they assign; and he says that the standardized tests that Riverdale and other private schools require for admission to kindergarten and to middle school are “a patently unfair system” because they evaluate students almost entirely by I.Q. “This push on tests,” he told me, “is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”
The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is character — those essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. “Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that.”
Still . . . in line with books like 'The Diamond Age' I can't help but think about this too. Are we teaching our kids the right ways to take risks? Or how to deal with failure? I'm skeptical. We've worked hard to avoid the whole 'winner' and 'loser' dynamic. I'm doubtful that this is a long term good.
I want to keep an eye on this, especially now that I have kids of my own.
Set in the near future (100 years or so from now), this book is set in and near Shanghai of that time. This future is replete with nanotechnology and Stephenson uses this as a playground, exploring how this would impact such things as food, security, entertainment and education.
This last is the best part of the book. The book is subtitled 'A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer' and that's just what it is. In the story a very wealthy man is concerned that his granddaughter will lead too pampered a life to grow up the right way. He is afraid that she won't learn to take risks or bounce back from failures. In short, he's afraid that she will grow to be too soft.
He asks a nano-engineer to create an interactive book that will lean heavily on Grimm's Fairy Tales and other out of fashion tales. These are intentionally darker and rougher and designed to give her something of an edge. To teach her that life is sometimes hard and one must be prepared to face those times.
The engineer has a daughter of his own and he works out a complicated scheme to create a copy of this for his her. Unfortunately his copy is stolen and ends up in the hands of a girl on the lowest rung of society. She is virtually raised by the Primer and the best parts of the book focus on her continuing life.
I don't want to give the world-building short shrift though. Stephenson creates a post-national world where people join phyles, a kind of artificial clan of sorts. The book focuses especially on the Neo-Victorians and the Confucian led Han Chinese. All fascinating stuff. Entwined here are some long passages on why some cultures work better than others. Agree or disagree, it's wildly thought provoking.
There is a weakness, and it's a large one. The end is abrupt and unsatisfying. But all in all where it succeeds it is nothing short of brilliant.
Friday, September 16, 2011
I enjoyed this.
In many ways it does mirror the 'what is a planet' debate. The real answer is that the Greeks decided that Turkey and Africa were different enough from Greece that they called them different continents. Everything else has simply come from trying to justify that initial categorization and extend it.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
This is something that she'll simply have to figure out. She will run into this again and again over the years. Trust me, I know that unusual names mean doing some work. So be it.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I've seen all but three episodes of Survivor, the first three. I saw the commercials and dismissed the show as a gimmick. Then I overheard my coworkers talking about it and watched out of what I thought of as self defense. I was hooked and hooked hard. I introduced my roommate to the show and she loved it. When I met my wife, I introduced her and it quickly became appointment television for us.
We're both a bit sad when the finale of each season comes as it means there will be a hole in our schedule until the next one. We're always excited as each one begins. But not so much this time. Why? The returning players.
Don't get me wrong, Ozzie is one of my all time favorite players. I've cheered for him the past and wish him well. Coach? Eh. But he's colorful and fun to cheer against so he has that going for him. Frankly, I hope they get voted off one and two.
Last season gave us Rob and Russell and they dominated the whole show. The two of them sucked up all of the air and kept anyone else from blossoming. When people look back at Redemption Island, they will remember the two returnees and little else. Well, Philip because he was crazy and Matt because he was stranded. No one else because of how well they played the game. Think that won't happen again?
It's been four games now since we've had a blank slate of players. The occasional All Star season is great. Making every season that way smacks of desperation. It suggests that you don't have any confidence in your casting. Jeff (I can still call you that, right?), you've always spoken well of the technical side of Survivor. Surely you haven't lost that faith!
I know that you always work to bring new ideas to the show. That's wonderful! (Though I'd suggest that you get more value from redemption island if it's used more often . . .) What do I want to see next time? I want to see 18 or so strangers stranded out there. I want to see them get to know each other on somewhat even ground. I want them to have to find out who they can trust, not simply rely on previous seasons that they watched. That was part of the joy of the show . . . and now it's not working.
Please fix this!
Peder, a big fan.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Every morning I would drive from St Paul to Minneapolis for work. My job was downtown but I hated parking down there so I would leave my car by our old apartment and walk in. As I was parking there were preliminary reports of a plane hitting the World Trade Center. They didn't know if was terrorism or a pilot gone off course. I mentally filed it under 'strange things' and walked the nearly two miles to work.
Once downtown I ducked into the skyway system. When I walked through Gaviidae Common I noticed that people were lined up around the atrium railing. Everyone was watching the giant TV. On it was a WTC tower, big gash in it and smoke pouring out. I cruised through so I still didn't know what was happening.
Up to my office and I stopped to say hi to the receptionist. I asked her if she'd heard that a plane hit the WTC and she told me that another plane had hit the other one. That is when it became clear that an attack was under way. (If you read a bunch of these remembrances, most of them will make this point. There is no way to convey the shock of that second plane to someone who didn't go through it all. Even now, seeing the video again it strikes at you. At your sensibilities. How monstrous and unexpected!)
I went to my desk and the phone lines were out of control. Logged into my computer and I couldn't get the internet to show up for places like CNN or other news sites. My email told me that they had shut down air traffic for the New York area and soon after the whole east coast and then the whole country.
We got all of our news from the callers after that. They told me that the pentagon had been hit. They told me that the one tower and then the other had collapsed. They told me that there were other planes that wouldn't respond to radio. I didn't know what to believe, none of us did. We passed around information in the call center.
My office was on the 20-something floor of one of the tallest buildings in downtown Minneapolis. We didn't know what was happening except that we knew some tall buildings were getting hit. Around 10a or so we found out they were evacuating the place. (Ten years later this sounds absurd but no one knew what was going on then.)
I'll never forget the walk home that day. The skies were quiet and empty. We see so many planes in the air here that the noise is part of our daily wallpaper. They were gone now and it was eerie. Part of me expected to see one scream out of nowhere and cream the downtown area. (Again absurd now, but we just didn't know!)
When I got home I called Hans and went over to his place. We watched footage together for a few hours. I remember them trying to piece together who could have done such a thing. I remember watching new videos of the destruction, especially the tower collapses.
The next few days at work were tough, of course. We did some searches to see if any of our clients were on the planes. I don't remember the results but just the act itself was demoralizing. None of the planes were flying and we didn't really know when they would. We helped people rent cars where they weren't sold out. Frankly, there was little we could do.
I remember one group that actually bought a car in Seattle and drove it back to the cities. I remember hearing stories of people stuck in hotels far from home and really unable to go anywhere. I very clearly remember one man who drove from San Diego to Boston because his son's birthday was that Friday.
Then the planes flew again and to our surprise it wasn't all that snarled up.
It feels like I should leave some bit of wisdom, something certain that I've learned over the last ten years but frankly my pundit hat isn't fitting well this morning. I can only say that we were together then as a country in a way that I've never seen before (and probably never will again). Frankly, if it takes horror like that, then I'd rather we just keep up our other fights. Thousands dead isn't worth a few weeks off from political fighting.
This will be a story that we tell our kids about. Probably at some point they will have a moment like this of their own. Almost certainly will, if history is a guide. Maybe the best we can tell them is that time passes. Even when it seems like the world is over, it really isn't. Tomorrow will come again and again.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
My focus at garage sales is 1) books 2) board games (especially the old ones) and 3) other stuff. Prior to today we had probably visited about 100 individual garage sales this year and I had very little luck. A few books here and there and one old Playstation game (now so ancient that they're almost free!). Nothing special.
Today made up for it. This neighborhood is always good for books and this was no exception. They had classic books and good book club fare. I ran across (another!) book about the 1968 Golden Globe race around the world. This is the fourth one that I have and as far as I know there is only one more that has been written.
What else did I find? Right at the end I came across this gem, The Dangerous Book for Boys. The idea behind it is that modern boys don't get out and stir things up in the same way that their fathers and grandfathers did. The book shows them how to do things like build a tree house or a go kart. It also shows them how to build a battery and how to tie five basic knots. Sprinkled in there is some violent history and stories of people like Robert Scott, antarctic explorer.
Today I learned (finally!) how to build a good paper airplane. I wish I'd had this when I was young.
Friday, September 09, 2011
Thursday, September 08, 2011
I didn't have high hopes for the Vikings this year but I'm a bit more optimistic now than I was. Basically I've moved from thinking they're a five win team to thinking that they could be good for nine or ten wins. Why?
- The coaching changes. Childress never impressed. The players never seemed to respect him. He never sparkled in game planning. Frazier has a much better relationship with the team and he has a pretty good reputation for football smarts.
- Offensive line coaching. For the past few years they've relied on something called 'zone blocking'. Now they're going back to a more traditional approach. Adrian Peterson has seen holes to run through in the preseason. This is new and unusual. It might turn things around.
- Lots of youth on defense. This can be a double edged sword of course. With youth you get mistakes. But you also get speed. And the secondary in particular has tons of room for improvement.
- McNabb. He looks like he has something left in the tank. It won't take much to improve over Favre's play last year and I think he can easily do it.
- It's a new year. I will submit that the only team to have a more cursed year than the 2010 Vikings was the post Katrina Saints. Short of a meteor strike, they can't have more bad luck this year.
Anyway, Sunday afternoon will give us some answers!
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
I picked the kids up from daycare/preschool and Relia asked if we could go to a park. I wasn't prepared for that so I told her that we couldn't. I offered the back yard instead and after I told her that yes, she could have both a popsicle and an apple, she agreed that it would work.
So we got home and made our way to the back yard. Relia got her full apple and for DF I cut it in pieces. He needs something in each hand or he isn't happy. This applies to pizza, mac and cheese and his morning waffles. When I was cutting the second slice it slipped out of my hand. I reached down and brushed off the grass before giving it to him. Later he dropped it again. He picked it up and then threw the other piece down so he could brush the first one off.
We all played some catch and for a bit I actually got to read while they did some stuff with each other. The temperature was good, there were some puffy clouds in the sky and the breeze was small. It was perfect.
Eventually DF got to the 'need a nap' point so we all went in. You know, I complained about the weather quite a bit this year. The winter was eternal, July was outrageously hot. I should note that ever since the calendar turned to August it has been almost tourist bureau perfect. I can only hope that we get about two more months of the mild stuff before winter starts.
Tonight Relia said that the snow won't start for another two days. I wanted to tell her that she dare not put that out in the universe. But she was tired and wouldn't understand. And the FP Gal was telling me (repeatedly) not to rile her up.
Snow, if you're listening, please hold off until my birthday at least. Ok? I'll promise not to hit you with too much salt. Do we have a deal?
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Monday, September 05, 2011
The first pool is a simple pick 'em league. Simply go here and choose to join a group. The group ID number is 24806 and the password is 'finally'. Each week you'll pick the winner of each game and assign confidence points. (The most confident pick gets the most points.)
Also doing a survival pool again. For that you go here and join a group. The group ID for this one is 9892 and the password is 'football!'. Survival football is played by choosing one team each week. If your team loses you are eliminated. You can only pick a team once per season. This can be a lot of fun if you can make it into midseason or further.
Remember, there is no charge.
Sunday, September 04, 2011
We got to the center in time for their early program. The place is new and good looking. They have a room where a half dozen eagles are on their perches about three feet away from the viewing public. All of them have wing issues and can't really fly. But they can jump around a bit so you can see some out stretched wings.
The program seemed fun but I only saw a bit of it. DF isn't really thrilled about the idea of sitting still for an hour so he and I walked around the rest of the place. Relia got to go up and measure her wingspan. If you're interested, it's about the same as a crow.
The place looks nice. There are several exhibits that feature buttons so DF was thrilled. Maybe we should take him here.
After the program they had one of their eagles out to pose for pictures. This is the same eagle that is featured on the license plate. We were cautioned not to hold DF on the same side as the eagle . . .
Then off to lunch at a pizzeria. Next door was a candy store so we each got a treat. Wabasha has a great looking old tyme downtown. Back up to the cities and naps all around. Well, they slept in the car and I could only do that for short stretches (darn twisty roads!).
A fun place, a good day trip and I'd definitely recommend it.
Friday, September 02, 2011
Update: (Via Althouse) Comes this interesting description:
The Eiffel Tower wasn’t just the largest thing that anyone had ever proposed to build, it was the largest completely useless thing. It wasn’t a palace or burial chamber or place of worship. It didn’t even commemorate a fallen hero. Eiffel gamely insisted that his tower would have many practical applications—that it would make a terrific military lookout and that one could do useful aeronautical and meteorological experiments from its upper reaches—but eventually even he admitted that mostly he wished to build it simply for the slightly strange pleasure of making something really quite enormous. Many people loathed it, especially artists and intellectuals. A group of notables that included Alexandre Dumas, Émile Zola, Paul Verlaine, and Guy de Maupassant submitted a long, rather overexcited letter protesting at “the deflowering of Paris” and arguing that “when foreigners come to see our exhibition they will cry out in astonishment, ‘What! This is the atrocity which the French have created to give us an idea of their boasted taste!’ ” The Eiffel Tower, they continued, was “the grotesque, mercenary invention of a machine builder.” Eiffel accepted the insults with cheerful equanimity and merely pointed out that one of the outraged signatories of the petition, the architect Charles Garnier, was in fact a member of the commission that had approved the tower in the first place.She asks if 'large useless things bother' us. There is a beauty to large urban landscaping pieces like this. Paris would still be a worthwhile place to visit with the Eiffel tower, of course, but it would definitely lose something. You can make similar arguments about places like New York, San Francisco, St Louis and Seattle. They are beautiful in their own ways. After some long period of time they become an essential part of each city.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Sometimes when DF has teeth coming in he also gets some diaper rash. (Apparently this is common but I don't understand the connection.) Anyway he has some molars coming in and his bottom looks dreadful. [A number of metaphors came to mind here but I'll err on the side of good taste and just leave it at that. -ed]
Anyway, the FP Gal took the kids out to the backyard this afternoon and decided to let DF go bare so he could air dry a bit. His shirt today is a bit long so he was pretty decent. And it's a private back yard and he's 16 months old. So no problem.
At one point he and Relia both sat in our new wagon, the chairs face each other. I was watching from across the yard and she started bending down and touching him. I called her over and quietly asked what she was doing. She told me "I'm playing with his vagina."
I told her that this was a private area and she should simply leave it alone. All the while trying to keep a straight face . . .