Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Monday

And a happy New Year to you too!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


You can go over to the FP Gal's blog to see pictures if you'd like.  She got some good ones, natch.  I just wanted to post some general thoughts about the day.

  • Coming downstairs on Christmas day is simply enormously better with children.  (At least this is true if they stay in bed until they are supposed to.  Ours did.)  They were enormously excited to see the presents and stockings full of loot.  Fun!
  • As is our tradition, we loaded up everything and took it over to the FP Gal's parents.  There we had a good breakfast and opened gifts.  (I suggested that we sit at the table and talk until Relia spontaneously combusted, but I was over-ruled.)  The pile of presents was very big.
  • Relia insisted that the FP Gal open the first present.  It was a picture frame that she, herself, had picked out for her mom.  The FP Gal approved and she was very happy.
  • DF got trucks, cars, trucks and more cars.  He got two different Maters (from 'Cars').  Later he introduced them to each other and had them compare features.  He was so excited that we didn't even get around to opening a couple of his presents.
  • Relia got all of her's open though!  She got a plethora, in the full sense of the word.  And she loved all of it.
  • Me?  I got some very nice things.  Some marionberry syrup and pie filling.  A cookbook.  A new game that I'm excited to play with.  All in all, some very nice things.  
  • I also got one thing that was NOT a Christmas gift.  The FP Gal found a used elliptical machine and got it for us.  So I'll be ellipting away some weight in the New Year, you betcha!
  • On a down note, the car wouldn't start when it was time for us to go.  Luckily, we'd brought two cars so we got home just fine.  But man, it is not fun if you can't depend on your car in the winter!
The rest of the day was down time.  Then work for me.  (Yes, on the holiday.  But it's slow and they pay me extra so I'm not complaining.  Yawning, but there are no complaints.)  
A very good day.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Royal bloodlines

Last night I read to Relia and DF.  The story had a princess in it (a bewitched and deadly princess, Hans Christian Andersen, you know).  Relia wanted to know how she could be a princess.  I told her that she needed to be born into the right family. 
She then proceeded to tell me that she wished she'd been born into that family because she'd make a great princess or queen.  I told her that Grandma D would like that because she'd love to meet Queen Elizabeth.  After a moment's thought, she told me that she'd help make that happen if she could. 
It didn't occur to me until this morning that she could theoretically marry into being a princess.  I don't think that I'll mention that though.  Most princes are jerks.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Have a Great Friday

DF helped me pick this out.  At first he wanted geese but I convinced him we should keep looking.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Little Lion

So how is our Little Lion, anyway?  He's mobile as could be.  Crawls everywhere.  Wants to crawl all the time.  And when he finds an opportunity, he pulls himself up to standing.  If you give him some fingers to hold, he'll do some short walking. 
Relia walked between eight and nine months.  If LL is on the same track, he'll be walking in the next week or two.  And yes, that's a sobering thought.  We took down the baby gates earlier this year and they're back up again.  Oh well, another year or two and we'll be done with them for good.
LL's biggest danger right now is the love of his brother.  DF wants to show his love by getting as close to him as he possibly can.  Sometimes this is scary as DF doesn't understand their relative strengths.  At times it means that LL is knocked down.  Or simply surprised and frightened.  I've got a feeling that this will go on for decades.
We've mostly switched over to formula and cherrios.  Some actual baby food.  My cyclopsism doesn't present too many problems, but I find it very hard to hit as small a target as a baby mouth from a couple of feet away.  So the FP Gal takes care of that. 
We're happy with him and he seems mostly happy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I'm sorry that the posting has been so light lately.  It's been hard for me to find time/energy to write.  That's not much of an excuse though.  The kids have still been saying cute things and I'm still finding interesting things online.  I just haven't been able to motivate myself to put anything down.
Plus, it feels like I've written this all before.  It feels like I've written everything about the kids before.  First crawls, favorite TV shows.  The whole shebang.  And I can't figure out how to make that interesting enough for others to read.
But I think that will change.
On Monday morning I talked briefly with Relia about the shootings in CT.  I won't try and do that conversation justice, but I will note that at the end she told me that if she dies, she wants us to have another baby.  Never thought I'd hear that from a five year old.  (And I didn't tell her that we've closed down that option.)  It was very sweet.
Later that evening she asked me if I was going to blog about the shootings.  I told her I doubted that I would but what really struck me is that someday she is going to read this blog.  She will read all of the entries, possibly focusing on the ones that prominently feature her. And so will DF and LL.  And good lord, LL has been cheated.
I've hardly posted about him.  You can see pictures of him over at the FP Gal's blog.  And I'm sure he'll get some mentions once he starts talking.  But right now he's getting royally short-changed.  Heck, they all are.
Plus, well, if my parents were keeping diaries in the 70's and 80's, I'd go back and read through them.  I'd thumb through them now for tips on raising great kids, since my parents obviously did such a great job.  It's quite possible that my children will feel the same way.  (Alternately, this will create a trail of evidence for their future therapist to work through...)
Anyway, kids, I'm on it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Monday

Relia picked this one out.  It looks nice and warm to me and I won't fight that today.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Let it Snow

We're having what we call in Minnesota a 'significant' snowfall.  Somewhere upwards of six inches but maybe not a full foot.  I've sent the FP Gal out twice to shovel (she must not have done it right the first time).  (Actually, while I'm mentioning this, shoveling is the one outdoor maintenance activity that we both enjoy.  Neither one of us really enjoys mowing.  Raking is ok, but just barely.)
Last winter was so mild that we didn't have much shoveling to do.  I'm not sure if DF even remembers what a big snowfall looks like.  Fortunately, he got to play outside for a bit today.  Which reminds me; we are totally unprepared for wet snowpants, boots, mittens, etc.  I'm sure we'll figure it out.
Right now the snow looks beautiful.  It's piled up on the railings and the tree branches.  It will be much less charming four/five months from now.  But today it's ok.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Groove Holmes

This weekend we got into the car and I turned on some music from my iPod.  My whole playlist (thousands of songs) started up on random and something jazzy came up.  I think it was some Gershwin, sung by Chris Connor.  Anyway, Relia asked if that music was jazz.  I told her it certainly was and when she asked for more I switched over to my 'Jazz' playlist.  This came up:

Go ahead, hit play and listen a bit while you read. I ran across Richard 'Groove' Holmes some years ago in a jazz compilation. He's an organist. Not one of the big names in jazz circles. But oh man, he lays down a nice line. I've kept the playlist going this week and the kids haven't complained. (I kind of jumped the gun on the Christmas music, so we were ready for a break.)  I would love, love, love for them to have some kind of appreciation of jazz while growing up.
Actually, I think about this quite a bit.  I am so picky, so passionate about my music.  I want the kids to somehow share that passion but this can be a tricky business.  The FP Gal has told me that I have to be careful not to slag their taste in music, especially when she goes through the inevitable boy band phase.
I just hope that we can somehow miss out on hip-hop and rap! 
Kids, if you're reading this years in the future from now, go ahead and love funk.  Love harmony.  And especially, love melody.  Don't fall too much in love with pure rhythm.  It doesn't deserve it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


This morning while driving the boys to daycare, DF noticed the moon and we had this conversation:

DF: Let's talk about the moon.
Me: Ok.
DF: Where do moons live?
Me: In the sky.  [ed - I'm fine with this answer, even from a technical standpoint.]
DF: And what do moons eat?
Me: Uh, rocks . . . maybe?
DF: No!  I think rocks eat moons!

Apparently it's time to start with the science programs.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Ponder Vs T-Jack

I think it's fair to say that Christian Ponder didn't look so good against the Packers today.  His QB line was 12/25, 119 yards, 1 TD, 2 int.  That comes out to a passer rating of 41.96.  Which is yucky.  I commented on Facebook that Tarvaris Jackson could probably have done better.  Which made me curious to compare the two. 
T-Jack only played two games at Lambaugh, both losses.  His ratings were 35.4 and 59.0.  Yuck.  But this made me wonder about a bigger comparison between the two.  Over the last six games, the Vikings are 2-4 and at times have looked cover-your-eyes awful.  Here are Ponder's ratings, from those games:
35.5 (win over Arizona)
74.8 (loss to Tampa)
37.3 (loss to Seattle)
114.2 (win over Detroit)
58.2 (loss to Chicago)
42.0 (loss to Green Bay)

One good game, one ok game and four stinkers.  Even in the win over Arizona, Ponder only threw for 58 yards.  So how does Jackson stack up?  He started 19 games over three years here in Minnesota.  Here are his four worst games by passer rating:
35.4 (loss at GB)
26.4 (loss at Det)
44.2 (loss at Dal)
50.0 (win hosting Chi)

On par with Ponder's four worst.  Ok, but how about seasonal numbers?  Jackson first:
2006 62.5 (2 starts)
2007 70.8 (12 starts)
2008 95.4 (5 starts)

And now for Ponder:
2011 70.1 (10 starts)
2012 82.0 (11 starts, does not include @GB)

Ponder is maybe a hair better than T-Jack.  Maybe.  We couldn't wait for T-Jack to leave.  I'm starting to feel the same way about Christian Ponder.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Cookie Recipe

A few weeks back Heidi bet me that the Seahawks would beat the Vikings.  Silly me, I took that bet.  If the Vikes had won, I would have gotten some Marion-berry syrup.  Alas, the Vikings pondered and I owe her some cookies.  In fact, I still owe them to her because I could not, for the life of me, remember where I had put the recipe. 
The recipe is from Jodi and some years ago she had emailed it to me.  The problem is that I have no idea which account the email was in or (more problematic) if I still used that account.  I even called her but she said that after she sent it to me, she probably didn't have it anymore.  I had some small hope that I had blogged about it in the past and had put the actual recipe on the blog.  I had blogged it here but no recipe was included.  (Btw, that link includes a picture of me when I was somehow much, much younger.)
So, to make a long story short, I'm blogging the recipe right here and now so that I can find it again in the future.  Take care before trying this one out, it's very yummy and the cookies are heavy.

  • 1.5 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) butter or margarine, room temp
  • 3/4 c. peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt (optional)
  • 2 c. quick or old fashioned oats
  • 1 pkg (9 ounces) peanut butter cups
Preheat over to 350 degrees
In large bowl, beat together sugar, butter and peanut butter until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in separate bowl.
Add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Unwrap candy, cut into fourths.
Stir in oats and candy; mix well.
Drop 1/4 cupfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 12-14 minutes.

As I said, they're a bit on the heavy side.  Two or three of them make a meal.  But they're also very, very yummy.  Heidi, I'm one step closer to paying off my side of the bet.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Risk Taker

Last month Relia brought us news that she had been picked as a student of the month at school.  She was (understandably) proud of this.  That same day she got in trouble and the FP Gal sent her to her room.  She angrily shouted down the steps "I'm still student of the month!".
Yesterday was the presentation.  The FP Gal and I attended, as did Nana.  We weren't quite sure what she was being honored for.  The IB school celebrates several different attributes and as students were called to the front, they were given a certificate that explained which one they had shown.  The students were honored in groups by grades, starting at 5th grade and going down to the kindergartners.
Which meant that Relia was one of the last to get her certificate.  It was, as the title of this post shows, an award for being a 'risk taker'.  She must have figured out that we couldn't see her very well from where we were seated because she held the certificate up above her head.  The only one to do so.  A risk taker, indeed.  (We had to explain what 'risk taker' meant.)
I'm sure this will be the first of many honors from school.  One thing that made me happy was to see that she is already on very friendly terms with the principal and just about every teacher that she saw.  (I was the same way.)  They love her there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nice Moment

Sometimes when I have the three kids by myself it feels overwhelming.  Like I have to be in at least two places at one time.  And when I'm feeding LL, all bets are off.  The other two can (and do) get into mischief. But when it's one on one, some nice things happen.
This afternoon I had DF alone at home.  He wanted the 'turtle-toes' movie (My Neighbor Totoro) and I obliged.  He had his after daycare popsicle and I laid down on the couch to read.  He quickly decided that he wanted to join me so he swarmed up and snuggled in on my chest.
It was wonderful.
And short lived.  He's pretty squirmy and didn't stay snuggled all that long.  But even that was nice.  For a time he was kind of sitting behind me so I could freely watch his face as he watched the TV.  He has genuine delight at watching the Totoros playing.
Which of course, got me smiling too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


We had our first stick-to-the-ground snow yesterday morning.  Relia burst into my room at 7a to tell me excitedly that it had snowed.  She made me go to the window so that I could see it for myself.  She was, not surprisingly, much more excited about it than I was.
When I got DF out of his crib, I took him over to the window so that he could see it too.  He looked at the back yard and the neighbors house and simply told me that something happened to the leaves.  I wasn't sure just how much he was aware of snow.  He was too young to remember the very hard winter of 2010-11 and last year was very mild.  But when we got downstairs he looked out a window and started yelling about snow.  He remembers.
We had slick roads to deal with.  Relia's bus was more than ten minutes late.  I actually had to leave her there with another student because DF had hurt his hands playing in the snow.  Bad daddy didn't have proper mittens for him.  (I've since fixed that.)
Today was milder.  I didn't see a temp but I'd guess it was in the twenties this morning.  The snow has mostly melted off the sidewalks and steps.  Good riddance.  I'm already waiting for spring.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


They changed our voting location this year and apparently we weren't alone.  From the conversation around me, at least four other locations were consolidated into one larger one.  That meant a long line and a wait of nearly an hour and a half.  I had my Kindle so it was no real problem. 
Unless something radical changes between now and tonight, I'm going to guess that they'll be voting there a good hour or two past poll closing.  It will take at least that long for those in line to be processed.  My prediction?  Unless they call the state early for Obama (and they might) it will be a very long night here in Minnesota.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Nano Novel Excerpt

I decided to go ahead and try and fit NaNoWriMo in again this year. Don't know if I'll make it through but I've had a good start. Here is the very beginning of this years story.

Author's note: this whole story idea came about when I suddenly wondered if you could steal a passenger jet.  I mean, people steal cars all the time, right?  But the big stuff is much harder.  First of all, it's harder to get control of the really big stuff.  Secondly, it's much, much harder to hide it when the rightful owners come to repossess it.  Imagine if you will, trying to steal a cruise liner.  Ok, you've done it.  Now where do you hide such a thing?  So.  To steal a big plane.  A jumbo jet.  Could you even do such a thing?  My initial thought was that it really can't be done.  And if history is any guide, it can't.  I mean, have you ever heard of someone jumping the fence at an airport, hotwiring a 747 and going for a joyride?  But after some careful thought, I came up with no fewer than six different ways to do it.  Six.  That means that you could steal one for each day of the week and still rest on Sunday.  (Although, in fairness, you would need that rest.  It  would be one very busy week.)  And then I got kind of frightened to write about it.  My job depends on people being able to book flights and fly them hither and yon.  If I inspired some thrill case to start ripping off airlines, it would be problematic, to say the least.  So I went the fictional route.  Big note, lawyers take especial notice: Everything that follows is a completely fictional event, not based on real people or actual things that have happened.  In fact, it couldn't happen.  I've taken major liberties with all details.  There may not be such a thing as a 'jumbo jet'.  For God's sake people, don't try this at home!  Especially if you happen to live at a major airport.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Relia asked me to call her honeybun as a nickname.  That immediately brought this song to mind: I showed this video to her but I'm not sure she was all that impressed. We might have to watch the actual movie. The first half at least. This is my dad's favorite musical. I choose a version with subtitles so he could sing along.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


We made it through the holiday.  We really made it through.  And there were fun moments!
  • DF dressed up as a cowboy (and was adorable).  The FP Gal got him a toy gun and holster.  The gun is bright orange and he has absolutely no idea how to hold it.  Mostly he carried it by the barrel.  Tonight as we were out, I tried to hold his hand while crossing the street.  He told me that he didn't need me, his gun would protect him.  
  • Relia has the whole trick or treat thing down pat.  Mostly.  We drilled her on saying 'thank you' and after a half dozen houses she finally got the hang of it.  Sometimes it would come out as 'trick-or-treat-thank-you!'.  
  • It was a bit of a challenge to teach all of this to DF.  He wanted to simply park himself and keep taking candies.  We had to urge him to move on.  Fortunately he charmed everyone.
  • There was one house that offered coffee or cider to the adults.  God bless you!  I always forget how wonderful warm cider is on a cool night.
  • When we got home we discovered that one of our pumpkins was missing.  Unfortunately it was the one Relia designed.  For some reason she wanted prominent eyebrows and, boy did she get them.  I tried to comfort her by telling her that they must have really liked those eyebrows.  She told me that next year she definitely won't do eyebrows!
  • Both kids have full buckets of loot.  It was bedtime when we got home so they haven't had a chance to inventory yet.  I imagine tomorrow morning will be interesting . . .

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stranded Traveler Advice

(via Instapundit)

I found myself nodding along with all of this.  I'm constantly surprised, in this day and age of easy internet access and use, that more people don't go to the small trouble of checking the weather.  If there will be severe weather, try to get around it.  Leaving early is a great tip.
I will say that the airlines have gotten much, much better about mass cancellations in the past few years.  They issue waivers further in advance and with more flexibility.  They do a very good job now of reseating people from cancelled flights.  Even hold times seem lessened. 
The other advice, to have some small emergency pack is also a great one.  I always travel with allergy medicines and make sure to have some in my backpack.  That's my big 'miserable without' item and I don't want to be found short.  This, of course, will vary for others.
A very good read.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Polar Bears

My dear DF is working on his conversational skills.  Often while we are in the car, he'll say to me "can I talk to you, daddy?".  I tell him 'yes', of course.  And then the conversation goes like this:

Me: What should we talk about?
DF: Polar bears.
Me: Ok.  What about them? What do they eat?
DF: Fish!
Me: And what do they drink?
DF: Cocoa!

And we soon run out of things to say about polar bears.  Actually, we ran out a long time ago but he isn't very good about thinking up new topics.  (Btw, I told him that around Christmas time they drink Coca-Cola and he misunderstood that as 'cocoa'.)  The other day I tried to mix things up:

DF: Can I talk to you daddy?
Me: Yes, but we should talk about something different.  Let's talk about . . . cars.
DF: (unsure) Ok.
Me: Do you have a favorite kind of car?
DF: Yes!
Me: What is it?
DF: It's a secret.
Me: A secret?
DF: Yes. (pause) And a surprise!
Me: (laughing) Ok, how about mama, does she have a favorite car?
DF: Yes. (pause) And it's also a secret and a surprise.

Someday he'll tell me and then I'll share it with you folks.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Time Off

I went up to work tonight and got all ready to go.  Then they asked me what I was doing there.  Apparently I had the night off.  Actually the week off.  I took some time off and had forgotten I'd done so.  So now I've got an easy week and I'm not sure what to do with it. 
Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Not Much to Say

I know that the blog has gotten very quiet of late.  There just isn't much for me to say lately.  Sorry about that.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vendee Globe

As you may know, I've become a bit fascinated with the sport of solo sailing.  It all started when I read 'A Voyage for Madmen', an account of the 1968 solo race around the world.  (And really, it's a wonderful read!) 
Anyway, every four years they race again and 2012 is one of those years!  Starting on November 10th (or about then), twenty sailors will depart from the Vendee region of France, sail down the Atlantic and circumnavigate the globe.  In the 2008 race, thirty sailors started and only eleven finished.  The winner finished in 84 days.  The history of the race suggests that this winner will shave a few days off of that finish.
Should be fun!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Saturday, October 06, 2012

To Steal a Shuttle

A wonderful little article here where the writer thinks his way through how one of the remaining space shuttles could be stolen.  The plan is big and complicated and would take quite a bit of money.  I wouldn't be surprised if this gets kicked around the internets for a bit and a better plan comes forward.
A few years back I had an idea of a story based on stealing a jumbo jet.  I tried it out for NaNoWriMo but shelved it when it didn't work.  A nice ambitious story but it bogged down because it didn't have enough dialogue.
Anyway, Nano is again next month.  I've been trying to figure out if I should even bother with it.  Between job, kids and the big reading project, I doubt I'll have time for sustained writing.  (My writing has been very on and off this year.)  I've been kicking a few ideas around.  One is pretty good but I'm afraid that I'll ruin it if I don't have enough time to really work on it.
But the jumbo jet idea has surfaced again and again.  With a few different ideas, a few different angles.  Maybe this time I could get past the dialogue thing.
And then the space shuttle article comes along . . . I just don't know . . . 

Friday, October 05, 2012

Baseball Playoffs

The baseball playoffs begin today.  I was hoping that the White Sox would be included in the mix but, alas, that wasn't to be.  They had a better season than expected but fell a bit short. 
MLB has changed their playoff format.  They added two more playoff slots to bring the total number of teams to ten.  In exchange for the addition, they've made it harder for the wild card teams.  Today all four of them will play in two single game elimination matches.  Should be exciting.
Here are the teams in the order that I'll cheer for them:

1. SF Giants - I watched a bunch of Giants games this year simply because they have the best looking stadium in the majors.  Hope they get to play a bunch of night games!
2. Washington Nationals - The sports scene in Washington DC has been brutal for a very long time.  It wouldn't bother me if they had some success.
3. Baltimore Orioles - Similar reason as the Nats.  The last time the Orioles were good was 1996.  Good for their fans to enjoy something nice.
4, 5. Oakland A's, Cincinnati Reds,  - Not really rooting for or against.
6. Texas Rangers - They've had a lot of postseason joy in the past couple of years.  But that was after decades of being bad.  Not rooting for but wouldn't be bothered if they won.
7. Detroit Tigers - I'd be warmer to them if they weren't divisional rivals.  But alas they are, and I don't really like them.
8. Atlanta Braves - This is probably left over feelings from the 90's but I'm still tired of them.
9. St Louis Cardinals - The Cards fans that I work with are almost as bad as Packer fans, but only during the playoffs.  Which I guess makes them similar to Twins fans.  Anyway, the sooner they exit, the sooner the mass emails about the 'redbirds' go away.  Can't happen soon enough.
10. NY Yankees - Of course they get the last spot.  I'd like to see them swept and humiliated. 

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, October 04, 2012


We were right around 80 degrees earlier this week.  Not anymore!  This morning it started out windy.  All day the temps dropped and now it's frigid.  The five day forecast says that we may have flurries in a couple of days. 
Good times.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

At the Zoo

I took the older Yahoos to the zoo this morning.  The last couple of Sunday mornings have been rough but today went pretty smoothly.  They wanted to go on the outside path and the Grizzly Coast.  We saw otters and sleeping bears.  We saw the little leopard cubs and found the sleeping tiger.  And about half way around the insisted on going to the farm. 
I'm not a huge fan of the farm.  Probably because pigs, cows and chickens really just don't impress me much.  But so be it.  We got to ride in a trailer behind a tractor and that undoubtedly is a big deal for them.  So we saw the farm animals.  Once we were done we had a little wait for the tractor to come back.  They wanted to look at the goats again.  There were little food dispensers and I patiently (and repeatedly) told the Yahoos that I didn't have money to buy food for the goats.  After some time DF decided to check one of the dispensers and two pellets fell out.  Relia picked one up and promptly fed it to a goat.  DF picked up the other and promptly ate it.
He said it tasted good.
We got out without any fights.  We saw a moose and some caribou and another tiger.  Then out to the car and back home for some football.  A very fine morning.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Have a Great Friday

Relia helped pick this one.  I heartily approve of it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Relia's Boyfriend

Tonight at dinner, Relia casually told us that she got in a little bit of trouble today while sitting next to her boyfriend.  Of course, our ears perked up at the B-word.  We asked about him.  She told us his name but I didn't quite catch it. 
The FP Gal asked if he was a boyfriend because he was a boy and her friend.  She said no, it was because he called her his girlfriend.  Then she said "At first I thought, is there another Aurelia in this school?".  Apparently not. 
I asked her to tell me more about him and she said that he is very nice and a good boyfriend.  He kind of hugs her, but not really.  And he kind of kisses, but not really.  I asked her to show me how he 'not really' kisses her.  She came up and put her cheek up against mine.  Upon further questioning she told us that he did this because Relia asked him to kiss her.
We had a little talk about not kissing the boys at school.  And then a follow up on how you also should not ask the boys to kiss you.  I'm sure it won't be the last time we have this particular conversation...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Comet News

We may be in for a show late next year. 
About a year from now, Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) probably will become the brightest comet anyone alive has ever seen. How bright it could get is currently the subject of vigorous discussion among planetary scientists and everyday comet-watchers.
By late summer 2013, observers at dark locations should be able to spot the comet through small telescopes or possibly even binoculars. And sometime in late October or early November, C/2012 S1 should cross the naked-eye visibility threshold. From there, it may reach — or even exceed — the brightness of the Full Moon.

Monday, September 24, 2012


This morning I told DF that his name means 'lucky'.  His response?

DF: I don't seem to be lucky.

Keep in mind that he's not quite two and a half yet.  I asked him why he doesn't think that he's lucky and he said something like 'Ricky is a hole'.  I have no idea what that means and I couldn't get him to clear it up before he lost focus.
I haven't written many posts about the fun things that DF says.  He is a blast to talk to but he doesn't really say memorable things.  It's more about the way he says it.  He constantly surprises us with a very polite 'thank you'.  And sometimes he'll say things like 'yes, you may'.  But so far he isn't quite as quotable as his sister. 
Meanwhile, Leo (from no on LL for 'Little Lion') is also fun to talk with.  He laughs and shakes and giggles.  But, of course, no words yet.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Things I Have Learned from Children's TV Shows

In any group of young friends, there will usually be one (and only one) child/animal that causes trouble.  If the group or town would get rid of that one child/animal they would be safe and problem free.  This child/animal has one or more of the following attributes:
  • Bossy
  • Snotty
  • Reckless
  • Spoiled
  • Stuffed up nose

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Warp Drive?

An interesting post (well, interesting to me) about the possibility of a warp drive propulsion system for star ships.  Now, I'm not anywhere schooled enough in the sciences and maths needed to judge if this is concrete or not.  I'll leave it to smarter folks to poke holes in it.
But I will note this.  The recent history of transportation is the history of people saying that 'this' can't be done and then smart people going out and doing 'this'.  Heavier than air flight was impossible.  Breaking the sound barrier was impossible.  Going to the moon was impossible.  From what I understand, when the car was invented there was some concern that people couldn't survive driving faster than 45 mph or so. 
'Impossible' is not the way to bet long term.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Monday

It was very cool here this morning, though not as wonderfully foggy as this picture shows.  The kids got a little lesson on how to dress warmly for Minnesota September mornings.  With any luck I won't have as much trouble convincing them to wear heavier clothes tomorrow. 
When I first looked at this picture, it seemed a little ominous but then I quickly changed my mind.  The gate, while chained, is still open.  And the path is obscured by fog, which is one of my favorites.  If I saw that and had time to explore, I absolutely would do so.
We could use more fog here in Minnesota.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Relia's Picks

This may become a running feature.  We'll see.

She picked the Bills because she thinks I like 'speed and races'.
She picked the Browns because that's the color the FP Gal's hair.
She picked the Vikings because she knows that I like them.
She picked the Dolphins because they are smooth.
The Cardinals because of Grandma D.
The Bucs because she wants to see the pirate ship.
The Eagles because she's been to the eagle center.
The Saints because they sound cool.  Like water cool.
The Jaguars because they run, run, run, run.
The Redskins because red is her favorite color.
The Cowboys because she wants to be a cowgirl when she grows up.
The Steelers cause Grandpa used to drive a jet.
The Titans because her tights are tight.
The Lions because 'lions are how you draw an egg'.  (I think she thought I meant 'line'.)
The Falcons because she likes falcons.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Wakey Wakey

I just went up to check on DF.  He'd been upstairs in his crib for several hours, ostensibly sleeping.  I'd been up about twenty minutes ago and listened but heard nothing.  This time I went ahead and opened the door.  He was laying on his back, eyes open and sipping water from a bottle.  He looked at me quietly said, "Shhhh, I'm sleeping". 
Oh, buddy, may you ever 'sleep' so quietly!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Potty Training

DF has expressed some interest in potty training.  He's still pretty young and we're not sure that he's serious. But we're willing to work with him, you betcha!  Anyway, on Sunday he decided it was time to sit on the potty.  The FP Gal took him into the bathroom and sat with him as he used the training potty.  She kept telling him that he needed to, um, tuck himself as he sat.  He totally didn't get it.  Long story short, he didn't really need to go.
As she came out of the bathroom she told me that at some point I would need to do some demonstrating for him.  I agreed but kind of dreaded it.  You see, I'm very private about the bathroom.  Not sure why and I'm not apologizing but the door remains firmly shut when I'm tending to business.  But yes, I would need to demonstrate for him.  Fair enough.
That led to this conversation yesterday afternoon.  I walked into the bathroom in the afternoon.  Only the boys and I were home.  I stopped and thought for a moment and then called to DF.

Me: Um, do you want to watch daddy go potty?
DF: (maybe thinking this was the strangest question ever)  No.

I resumed my normal routine.  I told the FP Gal about it and she said I didn't really approach it the right way.  I'm pretty sure that's true.
Man, this parenting thing keeps you on your toes.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Monday

Our leaves are a'starting to turn!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Why I'm Optimistic About the Vikings

The Vikings were dreadful last year and most football experts think they'll be dreadful again.  But I'm actually kind of optimistic.  And no, this isn't a knee jerk homer reaction, or at least not just a homer reaction.  Last year I thought that the Vikes would be bad.  I thought it was wrong to act like their competitive window was still open.  I probably wouldn't have guessed 3-13 bad, but I wasn't surprised by it.
This year is different though and I wouldn't be surprised if they go at least 8-8.  In fact, with luck, I think they could be in the playoff chase.  What's changed?
The 2011 Vikings were abysmal in close games.  They finished 2-9 in games decided by less than a touchdown.  (This represents bad luck more than it does bad play.  Teams that are much better or worse than .500 in close games almost always bounce back toward the median in the next couple of years.)  If the Vikes had gone 5-6 in close games last year they would have been 5-11.  If they had been a very lucky team, they could have been 10-6.
They suffered huge injuries in the secondary last year and sure enough, that was by far their worst unit.  If they can have their preferred players on the field more, they should play better.
Their offensive line will be better this year.  This has been a problem for some time and the 2011 line was the worst of the bunch.  Not only should it be better, it should lead to better QB play.  There is plenty of reason to think that Ponder will be much better this year.  NFL quarterbacks often show huge improvement from their first to their second season.  And we shouldn't forget that he had a short off season last year.
The 2012 Vikings start off with a soft schedule.  They first face a couple of teams that were pretty bad last year.  The Colts and Jaguars only won seven combined games in 2011.  There is every reason to believe that the Vikings are at least on par with the two of them, if not better.

I don't really know how the Vikings will do but they should be better than last year. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Football Picks

These are Relia's football picks for tomorrow, along with the reason for each pick.
  • Colts, because she likes horses.
  • Eagles, because she has been to the Eagle center.
  • Lions, for Leo, he is her brave lion.
  • Titans, because she likes tights.
  • Falcons, because she like falcons.
  • Jaguars, because she sort of likes 'J's'.
  • Redskins, because she likes red.
  • Jets, because Grampa used to fly a plane.
  • Dolphins, because she loves dolphins.  They are "so cute".
  • 49ers, because 49 is her favorite number.
  • Cardinals, because Grandma D loves cardinals.
  • Steelers, because she loves steel.
  • Bengals, because daddy likes tigers.
  • Chargers, because likes it when Grandpa charges her phone.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Daily Schedule

Awake at 7a - this depends almost soley on Relia. If she stays in her room until her light goes on, then 7a it is.  If she wakes up early and decides to wander around, well, then it starts early.  (She thinks she is super sneaky but really no one is ninja quiet on a century old wooden staircase.)
Downstairs with Relia and DF - this depends on whether or not he is also awake.  He usually wakes up when she does.  See note about lack of sneakiness in previous.  Usually, but not always, Leo is still asleep and is left upstairs.
Breakfast for the two oldest - Well, first there is the argument about what to have and then a seperate argument on how to have it ("no, I want the toast cold!").  To feed two children one must make 26 seperate trips from kitchen to dining room. 
Breakfast for me - About the time they finish eating, I shamelessly turn on the TV and let that babysit them while I eat. 
Preparation - around 830a I start getting stuff ready for the day.  I warm Leo's first bottle.  I make Relia's lunch for school.  She loves to help with this. 
Feed Leo - this is right about 845a or so.  As soon as I sit down and start him with the bottle the older kids run crazy, get into pointless fights and cause general mayhem. 
Put on shoes - right about 9a, I start getting Relia and DF into shoes (and soon coats!) so that we can walk down to the bus.  Leo goes into the pack and play. 
Down to the bus - this is a short walk, only about half a block away.  We arrive early, in part because I hate to be late.  If we were to miss this bus, I'd still have time to get her to school on time in the car, but that would be a huge pain.  So...we're early.
After the bus - We wave goodbye and then DF and I go home.  We get packed up and ready to go and we're horribly early.  Come winter, we'll need this time but we don't yet.  Today I burned some of that off by simply driving us to daycare by the longest practical route that I could. 
Drop off the boys - and then, blessedly, I have the place to myself for a few hours. 

Monday, September 03, 2012

Football Pools

If you haven't signed up yet for the Yahoo football pools (and you want to do so), please remember that the first (actual real) football game is Wednesday night.  Leave a comment if you need instructions and links.

Have a Great Monday

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Back to Normalcy

This week saw Relia start kindergarten, and that means that we're back to normal here.  Ever since Leo arrived 'way back in April, we've mostly been at home.  The FP Gal has been off from work and the kids have been home with us.  Now everyone has daycare or school.  (Well, almost everyone.) 
I am soooooo happy to be back on a normal schedule.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten.

Relia's first day went just fine.  We walked her down to her bus stop and made sure she got on without any problem.  Then the FP Gal drove to the school so that she could be on hand if there were any problems.  Relia had made a friend (at least one) on the bus.  Apparently they walked into the school holding hands.
Relia found her room without any problem.  We were there one night last week to scout the area.  She told me about the kids she is sitting near.  They have names like Dasher, Korval and Lover.  I kind of doubt that any of those names are right... 
She said that she get kicked while on the playground.  She demonstrated this with a move right out of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'.  This was reported to a Miss Guinea Pig, another name which I'm doubting is quite right. 
A bit of drama coming home as she got off at the wrong bus stop.  For whatever reason, her bus stops at each end of our block.  The FP Gal went to wait at the correct one but she chose differently.  We got it all figured out with no problem. 
She is excited for tomorrow.  DF, meanwhile, is bummed about the whole thing.  He figures that he is also ready for kindergarten and doesn't want to hear differently.  Leo hasn't shared an opinion either way yet.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kindergarten Eve

Relia starts kindergarten tomorrow.  It's hard for me to believe that she can possibly be old enough for that to be true, but it apparently is.  She's excited and a little scared.  Both are very understandable. 
I'm trying to think back to my own first day of school and I can't quite get there.  I remember wishing I could have started a year earlier, like the neighbor girl did, but I don't remember many of the details.  No doubt there is a picture of that first day.  (And yes, I'll make certain to get a picture tomorrow morning!)
I'm very certain that she is ready.  She is out-going and brave.  She's sharp as a tack.  Her teacher will love her and I've never in my whole life seen someone who is better at making friends.  (Seriously, why don't we let four and five year olds give seminars to adults on how to make friends?)
Anyway, I wish you great luck, sweetheart!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quiet Blog

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  We've had stuff going on but I've just been too tired to actually write about it.  The FP Gal has written about Relia's fifth birthday party (which was fun) and our trip to the State Fair today (which was also fun).  She also has pictures.  I did get some fun video of Relia and DF going to town on the Cinderella pinata.  Maybe the elves (or the FP Gal) can help me put that up for your entertainment.
This is another busy week and I'm not sure what will go up here or not.  Sorry!

Friday, August 24, 2012


I took the kids to the doctor this morning.  It was . . . ok, I guess.  At least everyone was declared healthy.  The shots were awful but well, Relia had decided that they would be and she was right.  Leo didn't care for them either.
Anyway, at some point I started reading the expected guidelines at various ages.  The ones that explain what is typical at each stage.  Leo is right on schedule.  Relia and DF have been doing the 'typical' stuff for some time.  So I decided to look and see how many things on the three year old list DF is doing.  Most of them, but there were some that I didn't know about.

Me: DF, are you a boy or a girl?
DF: I'm a grill.
Me: (chuckling) You're a boy, buddy.
Relia: (getting in on it and deciding to use his favorite cartoon)  Is Rosie a girl?
DF: Yes, Rosie is a girl.
Relia: And Cailou? 
DF: Cailou is, is . . . playing with rockets!

I think Freud would have a field day with that response.

Have a Great Friday

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Boys at Daycare

Yesterday the boys started daycare.  It's a return for DF so no big deal but for Leo, it was his first day with complete strangers.  He greeted them with a big smile though, so apparently he was fine with it. 
This morning while dropping them off, DF decided that he really didn't want to go.  He started crying and yelling.  He was wailing when I left him in the toddler room.  The staff assured me that this was common.  In fact, he seemed to stop crying before I even left. 
The last two days Relia has been home with me.  I've worked late and been very tired.  This hasn't been the most fun for her.  This afternoon I apologized for 'being a stick in the mud'.  She told me that a stick in the mud is fun.  You can draw with it! 
I don't know if she was being comforting or telling me that I didn't even rise to that level. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kid in the Hall

Last night Relia woke up from some kind of nightmare.  Apparently she dreamed that she was fighting with the FP Gal.  When I caught up with her, she was getting ready to storm into the bedroom so she could continue the fight.  Imagine being woken up so that someone can unload on you because of some dream that you had! 
It took me more than an hour to get her calmed down to the point where I could get her back to sleep. 
My Relia, my dear, dear sweet Relia is getting the disposition of a trail mule.  She has decided that there is no room for compromise or surrender.  None! 
Dag, I'm sick of it.

I don't know how long this will go on but I certainly hope not much longer.  This must be some kind of phase, right?  Something that she'll grow out of.  It kind of feels like we get her teenage years ahead of time. 
To make things even better, DF is also going through a test-the-power phase of his own.  So they start to do relays.  It's not as bad from him because I know this phase, and I know that it won't last all that long.  (Also, he hasn't figured out how to get out of his crib at night.  I'm wondering how long we can keep him in there!)

As I was writing this, Relia woke again.  The FP Gal went up to settle her and after a bit called me up to help.  She was sitting in bed doing this "hmmph" thing (which couldn't be more irritating) and refusing to talk.  I finally told her that if she wouldn't talk, I would just leave and she could figure it out on her own.  She told me that she wanted momma.  I made her promise to actually talk to the FP Gal before I left. 
Oh, you better sleep tonight!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Have a Great Friday

Japanese gardens in Portland Oregon.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Most Popular?

You ever look at the stats on your blog?  I'll admit that I do on occasion.  You know what the most popular post in the history of this blog is?  I've published over 3500 posts here in in the nearly eight years that I've been writing.  I've talked movies and books.  I've blogged about childbirth and cute things that children say.  And my all time most popular post, with more than three times as many hits as any other?
This one
I don't get it.  If anyone has a good theory, I'd love to hear it.  The comment section, as always, is open.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Football Pools

I've renewed the various Yahoo football pools.  If you played last year, an email has been sent to you with an invite.  If you're interested, leave a comment and I can give you the info with which to join.  The more the merrier.  No money needed!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What Your Songs Say About You

An interesting article from NPR (hat tip, Instapundit) about an attempt to tell what your music choices say about you as a person.  The researchers are asking people to pick songs to match these questions:
  • What was the first song you ever bought?
  • What song always gets you dancing?
  • What song takes you back to your childhood?
  • What is your perfect love song?
  • What song would you want at your funeral?
  • Time for an encore. What song makes you, you?
This seems like an interesting exercise so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

1. The first song I ever got was 'Mr Roboto' from Styx.  I got the whole tape but I got it only for that one song.  I think that once I had the whole thing, the song that got me was 'Don't Let it End'.
2. Several do, but the can't miss one is 'Rock This Town' as done by the Brian Setzer Orchestra.  When it comes on in the car and I can't dance, I get REALLY LOUD while singing it.
3. This is either John Denver's Greatest Hits or Debbie Boone 'You Light Up My Life'.  Probably Debbie.  (Guess what tapes my parents played in the car back in the 70's!)
4. The perfect love song is, funny enough, 'Love Song' by the Cure.  Oh, I'm sure other songs too, but nothing tops this.
5. Another easy one, at my funeral I want U2's 'MLK' played.  (And as people leave, 'End of the Line' by Traveling Wilburys.)
6. Man, this is a tough one.  There are many, many songs that I love.  But I don't know if I love any more than I do Tears for Fears, 'Working Hour'. 

By the way, if you're interested, all of these songs are easily findable on YouTube (I bet).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

20 Year Reunion

I'm not going to give a full, blow by blow account of the reunion.  I'll just hit some highlights.
  • Friday night was a big meet up at the county fair beer garden.  No one had name tags so there was a lot of 'oh, I almost know you'.  I started greeting new comers by telling them that it was perfectly ok to quietly ask who people are.
  • Cam played a game of 'will anyone recognize me?'.  Almost no one did and he won handily.  He was probably the most changed of all the classmates.
  • I got to see many people for the first time in twenty years.  Which was wonderful!
  • The Facebook revolution has changed these events totally.  So many of us are in some kind of contact already.  We still needed to catch up but it wasn't so tough to do so.  Also (and this just occurred to me) no one offered to show me pictures of kids or ask to see mine.  We no longer have to because chances are, we've seen them online.
  • Saturday morning there was a tour of the High School for anyone interested.  They've completely changed almost all of the first floor.  Virtually the only thing unchanged was the big auditorium (which was completely unchanged.)  They've done some updates to the second floor but it still looks almost exactly the same.  The ceilings in the halls are now lower.  Maybe they had to add more wiring?
  • Saturday afternoon I had a bit ol' nap at the hotel while Cam went golfing.  After that I took drive all over Austin and looked at the place.  I think a bunch of other people did too.
  • The Saturday night festivities were at the Eagles.  I had to ask people where in the world it was.  They told me to go where it used to be but that joke failed because I didn't remember where that had been.  Anyway, I found it.
  • The official shindig was fun.  It was quiet enough that you could talk to people.  Also, there were nametags so you could tell who people were!  Cam and I did a little comedy bit (which was fun).  There was a webcam so some of it was actually broadcast.
  • We stayed late.  I didn't get back to the hotel until almost two.  And I was one of the early ones!  But I slept until after 8a so it worked out somehow.
  • Said my goodbyes to Cam and others this morning and drove back up.  It was a great time and some much needed time off from being a daddy!  I missed the family and I'm now glad to be back home.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Reunion Webcam

The link is here.  I'm not exactly sure when it will go live.  The event officially starts at 7p. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Olympic Posters

Back when I was doing my past olympics posts, I would make mentions of the posters.  I finally found them all in one spot.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Olympic Tower or 'What the Heck is that?'

I know, it's been like three days since I posted something on the Olympics.  Sorry about that.  Will try to do better.

During the Olympic coverage, we've often been treated to London's giant Ferris wheel, the London Eye.  Right next to it is some kind of weird red structure and I've been trying to figure out what it is.  Maybe they've covered this in the TV features, but if so, I missed it.  Finally, I turned to my good friends, Google and Wikipedia.
It's called the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower or some such.  Here is what Wiki has to say about it:
Orbit was designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond. Announced on 31 March 2010, it was expected to be completed by December 2011, though like many projects on the Olympic Park that date was pushed back. The project came about after Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell decided in 2008 that the Olympic Park needed "something extra". Designers were asked for ideas for an "Olympic tower" at least 100 metres (330 ft) high, and Orbit was the unanimous choice from proposals considered by a nine-person advisory panel.
 Which makes me wonder about the other proposals.  As you can see from the picture, there is a spiral staircase that winds all the way to an observation deck.  And then it looks like someone crashed a roller coaster into it and couldn't pry it loose.  What does the creator say?
Kapoor said that one of the influences on his design was the Tower of Babel, the sense of "building the impossible" that "has something mythic about it.", and that the form "straddles Eiffel and Tatlin".[14] Balmond, working on the metaphor of an orbit, envisaged an electron cloud moving, to create a structure that appears unstable, propping itself up, "never centred, never quite vertical".[14] Both believe that Orbit represents a new way of thinking, "a radical new piece of structure and architecture and art" that uses non-linearity – the use of "instabilities as stabilities."[14] The spaces inside the structure, in between the twisting steel, are "cathedral like", according to Balmond, while according to Kapoor, the intention is that visitors will engage with the piece as they wind "up and up and in on oneself" on the spiral walkway.[14]
It is also said to have a 'surprisingly female form'.  If I was a woman, I don't think I'd take that as a compliment.  (Though now that I think of it, how great of a Halloween costume would the tower make for a woman?)  The Wiki article has articles on both positive and negative reception.  The negative is the longer of the two and kind of a fun read. 
I like the idea of strong and iconic sculpture.  I like symbols.  I like towers.  This?  I don't really like.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


While in the car today, Relia got some bad news.  We tried to comfort her and after a time, DF pitched in:

DF: Relia, I have something special for you.
Relia: What is it?
DF: It's a . . . (long pause while he searches for something) a, SURPRISE!
Relia: What is it?
DF: (another long stuttering pause)  Maybe it's not a surprise.

In the front seat, the FP Gal and I were dying laughing, all the while trying to keep her from hearing us.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Mars Probe

This is a video that NASA put together describing the various things they are doing to get the newest Mars probe safely down on the surface of Mars. It's very interesting (the FP Gal agrees and thinks you should watch this). We live in a pretty amazing time.

Friday, August 03, 2012

1900 Paris Olympics

I mentioned some of the defunct, or now abandoned Olympic events and how I'm getting lists of them sent to me.  I noticed that the 1900 Paris Olympic games gets mentioned a bunch so I thought I'd look more deeply into it.  Thank you, Wikipedia!  By the way, if I could time travel to one former Olympics, this would be the one.
The first thing that I found is that those lists are a bit misleading.  The official sports were pretty normal.  The only ones they had then that we don't have now are: cricket, croquet, golf, polo, rugby and tug of war.  If I told you that all of these would be included in the next Olympics, you wouldn't think twice. 
Also one called 'basque pelota', which looks like team open air racquet-ball.  Only two teams competed, only one match was played.   Spain beat France.  No bronze medal was awarded. 
Where are the weird sports?  That would be the unofficial sports.  Seriously, check out this list:
In addition to these 71 schools and 92 military events were also held across a range of sports.

By the way, Wikipedia helpfully tells me that 'longue paume' is a longer version of 'jeu de paume'.  How great is that list?  I mean seriously, if you turned on the TV some Saturday afternoon and saw a cannon shooting competition going on, is there any chance you wouldn't watch?  Same thing with fire fighting.  I don't even know what 'life saving' was as an event but man, I really want to know!
I tell you, if the TARDIS ever appears on my lawn, I now know where I'm going to ask to go.

Have a Great Friday

DF helped me pick this one.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Greatest Olympians

A wonderful read from Joe Posnanski as he tries to figure out the greatest 19 Olympians of all time.  Each selection is accompanied by an explanation and they're all worth a look. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Events are Selected for the Olympics

Over on Facebook I did a long list of jokey suggestions for Olympic events.  This has led to people associating me with strange former Olympic events.  Which is fine.  I've gotten to see some articles I otherwise wouldn't have, including this one here
But that's not what this post is about.  I told you that so I can tell you this: the article has a paragraph on how the Olympics chooses what events it will have.  I haven't seen that anywhere before so I thought I'd share.  From the link:
At the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896, nine sports were contested: wrestling, fencing, athletics (track and field events), cycling, tennis, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics and shooting. Over the years, that number has increased significantly with the inclusion of everything from table tennis to taekwondo, from basketball to badminton. While many of these new additions have stuck around, others have been phased out indefinitely for one reason or another by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which in recent years capped the number of sports contested at the Summer Olympics at 28 (there will be only 26 at the 2012 Summer Olympics). Some sports, such as tennis and archery, have been discontinued and then, years later, reinstated. Currently, to be included in the Summer Olympics, a sport must be practiced by men in 75 countries spanning four continents and by women in 40 countries across three continents. Also, unlike some early Olympic events, no motors are allowed.
So there you have it.  You'll note that the article mentions that there are two open spots for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  What will replace it?  From Wikipedia:
The 2016 Summer Olympic program is scheduled to feature 28 sports and a total of 38 disciplines. There were two open spots for sports and initially seven sports began the bidding for inclusion in the 2016 program. Baseball and softball, which were dropped from the program in 2005, karate, squash, golf, wake boarding, roller sports, and rugby union all applied to be included. Leaders of the seven sports held presentations in front of the IOC executive board in June 2009.[10]
In August, the executive board initially gave its approval to rugby sevens—a seven-man version of rugby union—by a majority vote, thus removing baseball, roller sports, and squash from contention. Among the remaining three—golf, karate, and softball—the board approved golf as a result of consultation. A decision regarding the remaining two sports was made on October 9, 2009, the final day of the 121st IOC Session at which Rio de Janeiro was named as host. A new system was in place at this Session; a sport now needs only a simple majority from the full IOC for approval rather than the two-thirds majority previously required.[11]
On October 9, 2009 the IOC voted to include rugby sevens and golf on the program for the Games in Rio. The other 26 sports were also confirmed with a large majority of the votes.[12] International Golf Federation executive director Antony Scanlon told Olympic news outlet Around the Rings that the top players, including Tiger Woods and Annika Sörenstam, would show their continued support of golf's Olympic involvement by participating in the events.

Rugby and golf to be added.  That gives us all four years to figure out how the heck they play rugby!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Opening Ceremonies - What Could Have Been

I covered the Opening Ceremonies yesterday.  Today I want to talk about what I would have done with them. 
Pretty much every one agrees that the Beijing opening is now the gold standard for Olympics ceremonies.  What did they do?  They decided that they would show off their history and progress.  They wanted to show the world just how far they'd come.  If anyone had visions of China as poor people in huts, tending rice, they wanted to show how wrong they were.  The planners did this with stunning visuals (remember the giant screen on the floor?) and a stunning multitude of people (remember the hundreds of drummers?).  You came away thinking 'wow, China has its problems but they can really put something special together'. 
Two years later Vancouver hosted the winter games.  Their budget was less than half of what they used for Beijing.  What did they do?  They used a methodical and easy to understand format to introduce the country.  They moved east to west from region to region, showcasing different music and dance types.  Each section was introduced by a bit of poetry from a Canadian writer; the poetry was read by a famous Canadian actor.
The London ceremonies started that way with the transition from agriculture to the industrial revolution.  The announcers said that Danny Boyle considers the industrial revolution to be one of the more important moments in history, which, well, he's right.  After that was a muddled mini-section where apparently the 20th century happened.  (This was when we saw Sgt Pepper outfits at the same time as the British naval veterans.)  Only two other bits pointed to any kind of national pride: the praise for the NHS and the celebration of pop music. 
What did they miss?
  • Shakespeare is arguably the most important writer in the history of the English language.  They used him for one short snippet.  Imagine if they'd introduced each section with more of the bard, using various big time Shakespearean actors to voice each one.  Think of Patrick Stewart reading the St Crispin's day speech!
  • One of the most important steps in our modern day understanding of human rights was the Magna Carta.  And yet it isn't recognized very often.  This would have been a good chance to correct that.
  • Is there any country that has gotten more out of naval power in the last 500 years?  And yet they navy got very little attention.  In addition, you can make a strong argument that the British navy did more to end slavery world-wide than any other institution (with the exception of the church).  
  • What about a section praising great thinkers of science?  Off the top of my head you could cover Bacon, Newton, Hume, Darwin, Wren and Turing.  Finish this off with Tim created-the-web guy.
The overall tone of the ceremonies seemed to say 'we've made some good music recently, and we do some good children's stories' but that's it.  There was very little grandeur and pride.  I would have done it differently.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Opening Ceremonies - London Olympics

The FP Gal and I watched the opening ceremonies last night and I wanted to get some thoughts down.
  • The time difference thing was very strange.  Before it had even started we both read some leaks and spoilers.  We both heard that it was very strange.  There were a couple of weird moments but for the most part it didn't strike me as that strange.  
  • The whole first segment was amazing from a technical standpoint.  I'm referring to the 'agricultural' segment where people milled around and did farm-y type things.  The switch-over to the industrial revolution was quite a bit of work.  Amazing.  (Note, I'm not saying that it made for good TV...)
  • The forging of the ring was very impressive too.  And when it rose up and joined the other rings?  That was the one time that I really, really wished I could be in the stadium watching it all live.  
  • The high point of the whole ceremony was certainly the pairing of the Queen with James Bond.  Their arrival by helicopter was inspired.  I loved every bit about that.
  • I also loved Rowan Atkinson.  At first.  Then it went on a bit too long.  
  • Ok, the bit celebrating the NHS is probably best described as 'strange'.  If Chicago hosts the 2024 games, I'm guessing they won't do a section on the greatness that is, well, any given government agency.  
  • I liked the idea of mixing the bedtime stories but I didn't think it went far enough.  We got a cross section of various villains but the only hero we got was Mary Poppins.  This was one of the areas that I thought the narrative got away from them.
  • The next bit was the long story celebrating a) the internet and b) British pop music from the 60's on.  Did it work?  Eh.  I would have been disappointed without some kind of tribute to recent English music.  And a nod to the inventor of the web was a nice nod.  Out of place, mind you, but nice.
  • NBC cut a bit before the parade and frankly they made a terrible choice.  The full story is here.  There was a part of the program dedicated to the terrorism victims of 7/7 and terrorism victims in general.  NBC opted to give us some stupid interview between Michael Phelps and Ryan Seacrest.  They deserve to get a lot of heat over this.
  • The broadcast kept saying that the parade of nations was the quickest they had ever seen.  It looked like they used the time zones to their advantage and clipped the heck out of it.  (Frankly I fast forwarded through most of this bit.)
  • The final torch was amazing.  As each nation came in they were escorted by a young girl carrying a small pot, or funnel.  All of these were placed in an area in the center of the athletes.  A handful of them were lit and fire was spread to the rest.  Then they rose up and formed a giant torch.  Very, very cool.
  • And then some Paul McCartney.  The FP Gal enjoyed him but then she would.  I simply can't stand 'Hey Jude' so I'm not the right one to talk about his performance.  
I really liked parts of it but only had one 'oooooh' moment (with the final torch).  Now, if it was up to me...  You know what, this is already a long post.  I'll put that one up tomorrow.

Friday, July 27, 2012

On the Bookshelf

I've pretty much abandoned the 'What I'm Reading' list on the sidebar but I thought some of you might still be interested to see what books have been coming into my life.  In the past few weeks I've gotten:
  • The Tipping Point - Gladwell, heard a bunch about it and should read it at some point
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins - O'Dell, remember it well from when I was younger
  • Philosophy of Aristotle, will come in handy with the book project
  • The Story of Dr Dolittle - Lofting, another old favorite, I'm reading it to Relia right now
  • The Voyages of Dr Dolittle - Lofting, next in the series
  • Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids - Caplan, very interesting reading on making parenting easier
  • Gamesmanship - Potter, was highly recommended
  • Remembrance of Things Past - Proust, on my 'someday' list
  • The Looming Tower - Wright, featured in yesterdays picture, fascinating book
  • Football Outsiders Almanac 2012, to get ready for the upcoming season, go Vikes!
  • Little Britches - Moody, a recommendation from Steve Bremner
  • Hamlet - Shakespeare, up next for the reading project
And then I said to the FP Gal, right now I don't feel like buying more books.  Don't worry, I'm sure it will pass quickly.