Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Great Books?

Here are the results of an interesting poll. 125 modern writers were asked "to provide a list, ranked, in order, of what [they] consider the ten greatest works of fiction of all time- novels, story collections, plays, or poems." The post linked here provides the top ten for the 19th and 20th centuries. The list for the 19th first:
Top Ten Works of the 19th Century

1. Anna Karenina* by Leo Tolstoy

2. Madame Bovary* by Gustave Flaubert

3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

5. The stories of Anton Chekhov

6. Middlemarch* by George Eliot

7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

8. Great Expectations* by Charles Dickens

9. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

10. Emma* by Jane Austen

Pretty strong results for what I've read here. I would have put some Hugo on there and I personally find Dickens impenetrable but those are really quibbles. The 20th century:
Top Ten Works of the 20th Century

1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

2.The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

3. The Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

4. Ulysses* by James Joyce

5. Dubliners* by James Joyce

6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

7. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

8. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

9. The complete stories of Flannery O'Connor

10. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

I loved both of the Nabokov books here. I'm not nearly as fond of 'The Great Gatsby' as these folks. Haven't read the others although I keep running into suggestions that the Proust is wonderful. I'm very surprised that 'To Kill a Mockingbird' isn't on the list.
Still, I think that the whole idea is very interesting.

Life Moves Pretty Fast



I enjoyed this.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - 2012

This is a nominee for Best Picture this year.

Oskar Schell is a young boy who has lost his father and had his world shattered. His father (played by Tom Hanks) had a chance appointment at the World Trade Center on September 11th and didn't make it. Oskar is trying to put things back together but he is borderline Aspergers and making those emotional leaps is beyond him.
To try and help him get to meet people, Oskar's father set up 'expeditions' for him. These involved map work and finding and exploring clues. With his father gone, Oskar finds a clue that he thinks must lead to something and sets off on an enormous expedition that takes him all over New York. He meets strangers and finds that almost everyone has their own pain and it's impossible not to share it.
His mother is played by Sandra Bullock and it's one of the more wrenching roles that I've seen lately. She is trying to grieve for her husband while living with a boy who gives her no empathic support. It's painful to watch but the payoff is well worth it.
I thought this was a very good movie but it's not for the faint of heart. You can't help but feel for Oskar but at the same time he's a bit frustrating to watch. You just want to somehow snap him out of his mental state. (Thank God, we don't have this problem at home!) Anyway, it was well worth seeing and it certainly is a deserving Oscar nominee.

Happy Monday

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Least Compelling Super Bowl

I'm not the least bit excited for the Super Bowl next week and I'm trying to figure out why. Some of it is because it's hard to be excited for Boston or New York teams. Since 2000 those two cities have won an absurd 10 championships in the MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL. To make it worse, the same football teams here have won recently with the Giants in 2007 and the Patriots in 2001, 2003 and 2004. In short, we've seen this all before.
But how unique is this really? Let's take a look!
  • 2010, Packers/Steelers, first SB appearance for the Packers since 97. Rodgers proves he can replace Favre.
  • 2009, Saints/Colts, first SB appearance for the Saints in their history
  • 2008, Steelers/Cardinals, first SB appearance for the Cardinals in their history
  • 2007, Giants/Patriots, Pats go for an undefeated season. Eli Manning proves he is more than just Payton's little brother.
  • 2006, Colts/Bears, first SB appearance for the Colts since 1970, first SB appearance for the Bears since 1985. Colts finally get past Pats to make the SB.
  • 2005, Steelers/Seahawks, first SB appearance for the Seahawks.
  • 2004, Patriots/Eagles, first SB appearance for the Eagles since 1980.
  • 2003, Patriots/Panthers, first SB for the Panthers
  • 2002, Buccaneers/Raiders, first SB appearance for the Bucs, first SB appearance for the Raiders since 1983
  • 2001, Patriots/Rams, both teams had appeared recently (Pats 1996, Rams 1999) but Pats team was very different than the '96 team. First SB for Tom Brady.
  • 2000, Ravens/Giants, first SB appearance for the Ravens.
  • 1999, Rams/Titans, first SB for the Titans, first SB appearance for the Rams since 1979.
  • 1998, Broncos/Falcons, first SB appearance for the Falcons.
  • 1997, Broncos/Packers, Broncos had lost previous four SB appearances.
  • 1996, Packers/Patriots, first Packer appearance since 1967, first Pats appearance since 1985.
  • 1995, Cowboys/Steelers, first Steelers appearance since 1979.
  • 1994, 49ers/Chargers, first SB for Chargers.
  • 1993, Cowboys/Bills, rematch of previous year, Bills had lost previous 3 SB appearances
  • 1992, Cowboys/Bills, first SB appearance for Cowboys since 1978.

And on and on. In the past twenty years there was only one game where both teams had been in SB very recently with the same QBs and coaching staffs and that involved the hard luck, easy to root for Buffalo Bills of the early 90s. This has none of that.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Be Right Back

We're taking a small break this weekend. The FP Gal and I are out living the playboy lifestyle at a hotel while various grandmothers watch the kids.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Top Five April Movies

Again, spring movies are tough. Any comments or suggestions are welcome.

Bull Durham - My all time favorite baseball movie and it isn't very close. I try to watch it each year right around opening day. Better than other baseball movies it captures the 'play every day' magic of the baseball season.

Amelie - One of the most charming movies ever made. I don't know what time of year the movie is supposed to be set in but it strikes me as a spring movie. It has that new life feel of springtime to it.

Bambi - Very much a spring movie. The scene with all of the young animals coming out and meeting each other marks this movie.

Wizard of Oz - Another movie that I think was on the TV each year during this month. Or at least that's the vibe that I'm remembering. Can anyone back me up on this?

Princess Bride - I'm not sure why I think of this with spring but I do. Maybe it's because of the light humorous touches throughout.

(On a side note, we really could use some more obvious spring movies . . .)

Back to the Moon?

I put this over on the political blog but on reflection, it's not really that political.

Yesterday Newt Gingrich made some waves by suggesting that we could have a permanent moon base by the end of his second term. This was widely laughed off as Newt being crazy. Put aside considerations as to whether or not going back to the moon would be a good idea, is it technically possible? This is from last month's 'Astronomy' magazine. (I couldn't find the article online so I'm retyping this, any typos are mine.)

For example, SpaceX has already announced plans to build a heavy-lift rocket called the Falcon Heavy. It will be capable of putting more than 50 tons into orbit, and is financed from the profits and publicity earned from its Dragon supply missions to the Iss as well as SpaceX's other commercial satellite launches. Using Falcon Heavy, the company could launch Bigelow Aerospace's BA 330 space station as well as the additional supplies and rocket engines needed to take that module beyond Earth orbit and to the Moon.
Even more significant, Falcon Heavy and BA 330 will cost far less and be ready to fly much sooner than NASA's current proposal to build its own heavy0lift rocket to launch its Orion capsule for missions beyond Earth orbit. The first manned test flight of the NASA-built rocket, announced in September 2011, is not expected until 2021 and may cost somewhere between $25 and $60 billion to develop. In contrast, SpaceX built Falcon 9 for just $300 million and went from a blank sheet of paper to its first launch in only 4 years. Because Falcon Heavy is essentially three Falcon 9 first stages strapped together, the development cost for it will likely be as inexpensive and as straightforward as it was for Falcon 9.
Thus, not only would the private rocket be an affordable way for many rich tourists to get to the Moon, but it also would be a far more cost-effective method for the United States, or any other nation, to get there. All NASA would have to add is a lunar lander, something America already has experience building.
Keep in mind that this is from last month, published well before Gingrich said anything. It certainly doesn't seem like eight years is an insurmountable timeline. I don't know how much longer it would take to design a permanent base but this is a problem that people have been working on for literally decades. It sure seems like if we had the will we could do it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Football"

DF and I came home today and I asked him what he wanted to do. (Tuesday is Nana-day for Relia so she goes over there in the afternoon.) So I asked him and he said 'tv'. I suggested baseball and he said 'football!'. So we turned on the tv and I looked around for some football for him. The NFL network had one of their top 10 shows on so we watched that for a bit.
At some point he wanted the blanket on us so I helped him with it. (It's much bigger than him and probably outweighs him 2 to 1.) So there we were, all cuddled up together watching some football. The top 10 was 'best hands' and when number one was Cris Carter I confidently told him that I'd been sure it would be.
Sometimes this dad stuff is pretty ok.

Oscar Nominations

Hey, they've released the Oscar nominations! Let's take a look, shall we? For Best Picture we have:
  • "The Artist" Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • "The Descendants" Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" Scott Rudin, Producer
  • "The Help" Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
  • "Hugo" Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  • "Midnight in Paris" Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  • "Moneyball" Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  • "The Tree of Life" Nominees to be determined
  • "War Horse" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

This year we saw a grand total of none of these. My Mom saw (and loved) 'The Help'. We're going to go see 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' this weekend. I've heard raves about 'Hugo' and 'Moneyball'. I don't know if there is a front runner, per se but it looks like a fine set of movies.
In fact I'm struck by how mainstream this list is. I think you could describe 'The Artist' and 'Tree of Life' as prohibitively art-house. Maybe 'Midnight in Paris' too, but Woody Allen is kind of his own institution at this point. Everything else was mass marketed. I think that the expansion of the nomination list has served them well here. No matter which movie wins, this is a more accessible list than the ones we were getting a few years back.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Playoffs

I won the first two games last week to bring my overall record to 6-0. Then on Sunday the Ravens won but didn't cover and of course the Packers (thankfully) lost. So 6-2 overall going into this week. Only two games today and after them we'll know who we have in the Super Bowl.

Ravens at Patriots (-9)
Another great offense versus great defense game. On paper I'd have to go with the Pats but my gut tells me otherwise. I'll pick Baltimore and hope that they pull off the upset.

Giants at 49ers (-3)
Did you see the 49ers win last week? Incredibly emotional and the history of teams the week after emotional wins is not that great. Of course the Giants kind of did the same thing while beating the Packers. I think that whomever wins this game is also favored to win it all. Or at least that's how I'll almost certainly pick it. And I think it will be San Francisco.

There is a subtext to my picks this week. If the Ravens and 49ers meet in the Super Bowl it will be the first time in NFL history that the championship teams are coached by brothers. Which would be pretty darn cool.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Baseball in January

This morning DF and I were doing things downstairs and I put some 'Phineas and Ferb' on the TV, mostly for him. He watched for a while and then went up to the screen, pointed and said "No kids! Baseball!".
Well. I'm not going to ignore that. Fortunately MLB.tv still lets me access games from last season so I went over to the AppleTV and pulled up some meaningless late season game against the Bluejays. He was immediately mollified. In the second inning one of the White Sox players hit a home run. I did the 'put it on the board, yes!' thing and DF got really into it with me.

Pitchers and catchers report next month and we'll have real live meaningful games in April. DF and I are very excited for it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Car Music

I've run into a new problem. For years I've been making mix discs to play in the car (yes, I'm way behind in the whole MP3 thing). The problem used to be making sure that the music was appealing to the FP Gal, or at least not too obnoxious. I can usually hit that target.
Relia was ok because for the most part she really digs my music. The problem? She is now old enough to actually listen to the lyrics and ask what they mean.
Now, I don't listen to hardcore rap or anything like that. In fact if anything it's the old 80's emo music that presents a problem. I listen to Altered Images 'I Could be Happy' and she wants to know why the girl needs to "get away/run away". She wants to know what that 'girl' wants when I listen to the Smiths 'Please, Please, Please'.
I keep flashing to the first scene from 'High Fidelity' where John Cusack talks about the millions and millions of love songs that any given teenager will hear.

On the other hand, whenever this song comes on, the kids love it. At the end DF says 'again!'.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Top Five March Movies


Once again with the movies, this time with March. Spring is tough for this. There just aren't many movies out there that scream spring. Or at least not many that connect with what I think of with spring. Per usual, any comments and suggestions are welcome.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Ok, this is still a winter movie. But March (at least up here in Minnesota) is still a winter month. Great love story, fascinating visuals, easily the best Jim Carey movie.

Waking Ned Devine - In honor of St Patrick's day, here is my favorite Irish movie. A man in a small Irish village wins the lottery. Unfortunately the shock of it kills him. The rest of the village decides to pretend that he is still alive so they can split the money.

Hoosiers - March also brings us basketball tournaments and this is the best basketball movie around. Shivers and chills, the whole thing.

Fiddler on the Roof - Not sure why I associate this with March. I know sometimes Passover falls there but not all that often. Did it used to be on TV every March or something? Anyway, it's a great musical and quibbling shouldn't stop it from being watched here.

Lord of the Rings trilogy - I'll admit that this is a personal choice and may not tie into March very well. I told you that Spring is tough! Maybe it's the combination of long nights and cabin fever or something but for some reason it feels right to load these up in March.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

School Shopping

This morning the FP Gal and I went on a couple of school tours to see where Relia (and probably the rest of our litter) will go. The best school we went to was one that is an International Baccalaureate school. When Wikipedia comes back up I'll see if they have a good explanation of what that is. The basic concept is that they have a program with schools all around the world and they concentrate on creating thinkers.
What amazed me both at this school and at the more traditional one we visited was just how aggressive the teaching is nowadays. At the public school we went to we stopped in to see a third grade classroom that was working on 'literary theory'. On the screen they were working with bullet points that emphasized things like 'Recognize the use of onomatopoeia' and 'Recognize the importance of understatement'. We might have hit on such things later in school but certainly not in my third grade classes. The FP Gal said that math teaching is pretty aggressive too.
Frankly, I did not know this. I'm sure my kids will do fine and it looked like the kids in the classroom were all following along well. But this makes it tough to really compare how kids are doing now with how they did when I was back there.
One other example, at the IB school we popped our heads into a second grade classroom and saw that they were working on a project about money. It was explained to us that several weeks ago they had started with some play bartering, then they developed products. And now after learning about markets and supply and demand, they were finishing up by spending their own made up currency on things they had created. Wow!
Needless to say, we came away very impressed.

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Day

The FP Gal and I tried to explain who Martin Luther King Jr was today. She got some of it but not all. We told her that he tried to change rules that were unfair. That she understood. His being killed was tougher. She has some concept of death but she doesn't seem to care about things like 'what happens after you die'. Instead she wants to know about things like, 'what did they do with the body?' and 'where did they put the gun?'. (MLK was buried in Atlanta and I'm not sure that the gun was ever recovered.)
Tonight we were talking about holidays and Relia wanted me to list all of them. She mentioned that today is 'King Arthur day'. We gently corrected her. Y'know, I never realized how many similar sounds there are between Martin Luther King and King Arthur. Guess you need a more flexible mind to make that connection.

Happy Monday

Relia helped pick this out. She said she likes the clouds.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Watch!

My uncle Jerry gave me a very nice watch for high school graduation. I wore it for years, being very careful not to whack the cyrstal on anything. But it had a problem. Every two years the battery would run out, but that is common and not a big deal. I'd take it in to get a new battery and no one could take the back off to change it. That was the problem!
About ten years ago I found I checked at a shop out at the MOA and found a crazy little lady who had the goods. In the space of a few minutes she a) she got the back off, b) proposed marriage, c) changed the battery and d) gave my girlfriend who was with me a discount on a different watch. (I may be fuzzy on this but it seemed like that. As I said 'crazy'.) And then sadly her shop closed up and I couldn't find her. And again no one could open it up to change it.
After some time the battery ran down and that was that. I set it somewhere safe and occasionally thought about searching really hard for the crazy lady so I could get the darn thing running again. But it didn't happen and it didn't happen.
Then the other day Relia saw a picture from the wedding, a close up of the FP Gal's hand and mine as we were showing off our very cool rings. She said, "hey, you have a watch on!". And then asked why I don't wear it anymore. (Hon, if read this far and want to insert that picture into this post, please do.)
Anyway, long story short, there is a new shop out at the mall and they were able to fix it quickly and easily. So now I have to retrain myself to put the watch on. And I will. It just feels better to have it on my wrist.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Football Rivalries

Yesterday while driving home with Relia she saw a house with a Green Bay Packer flag and mailbox. She has noticed it before and has asked me if the people there like football. Um, yeah, I'm guessing they do. No one would put that stuff up there to class up a house.
As we watch football games she always wants to know which team is which. Which color goes with what name and where they are from. She must be catching on because she could recognize the Packer stuff.
Then we had this conversation:

Relia: We don't like the Packers, right?
Me: That's right.
Relia: We like the Vikings!
Me: (smiling) Yes we do.
Relia: And we don't like the Packers because they steal things, right?
Me: Uh, no. They don't steal things. Not that I know of.
Relia: (trying to work it out) I thought I heard you say that they steal things.
Me: I don't know what you heard sweetheart but that isn't why I don't like them.
Relia: Then why?
Me: (thinking quickly) Because when they win then the Vikings can't win.
Relia: (still confused) Oh.

I'm torn here. I'd like my kids to share my likes and dislikes yet at the same time it's tough to teach your four year old why she should respect a sports rivalry. And the only thing I can figure out with the 'stealing' thing is that the Packers look a bit like the Steelers.

And in a few months I have to teach her why we don't like the Cubs!

Playoffs

Meant to get this up earlier today. Whoops!

Saints (-3.5) at 49ers
A classic great defense vs great offense battle. I could see the Saints blowing them out or the 49ers grinding out a win. I'll go with the home team, San Fran here. (And yes, the picks are up late but this is how I picked them in the football pool too.)

Broncos at Patriots (-14)
On paper the Pats should win this game and win it big. And if they do win it will almost certainly be by at least the two touchdowns they're favored by. Ah, but there is the Tebow factor here. I rode it last week for the upset over the Steelers. But not this time. I think I'd enjoy a Broncos win more but I don't think they do it. I'll go with New England.

Texans at Ravens (-9)
The Texans made the playoffs for the first time this year and even won their first game. The Ravens have been there quite a bit over the last decade. I don't trust either QB. Both have great running backs and great defenses. I think that the Ravens win, but do they cover? Ah . . . yeah, I guess so. I'll pick Baltimore.

Giants at Packers (-9)
The Packers are the best team in the league this year (probably). The Giants are one of the hottest teams right now. The Giants have a more complete team, good offense and good defense. The Packers have a great offense and a lousy defense. Man, I want the Giants to win and win outright. But my history of sports rooting doesn't go that way. Sadly I'll go with Green Bay here.

Last week I went 3-1. The coin went 1-3. This week the coin picks

Saints
Patriots
Texans
Giants

Friday, January 13, 2012

No Dentist

They actually called us and canceled. There is unhappiness but what can you do?

And this reminds me that I didn't mention our big blood sessions last weekend. When I got back from donating platelets I decided to look for a video of someone giving blood so that Relia had an idea of what was going on. (We'd thought of bringing her in so she could watch part of it but they have rules against that.)
Anyway, she spent the rest of the day swabbing us with pretend iodine and then drawing 'blood' with a red straw. She's got the basics down but I wouldn't trust her with real patients just yet.

Have a Great Friday

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A True Pregnancy Fact

It turns out it is shockingly easy to convince your pregnant wife to pick up some cookies while she is at Target.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sledding



Very impressive. I'm a little afraid to show this to Relia. After today's spitting of snow she wanted to go to the sledding hill. Um, not quite yet, sweetheart.

Top Five February Movies

Continuing along in my attempt to find the five best movies to fit each month, now comes February. These choices are personal and comment and suggestions is very welcome.

For February:
Groundhog Day - Let us start with the obvious one. This is easily the best film about a very minor holiday in movie history. It mixes interesting philosophical questions with humor and a giant 'what would I do?' approach. Ironically it's highly rewatchable.

Glory - February is Black History month and, while certainly not the only movie representative of the genre, this is my favorite. A very well told story about a lesser known chapter of the Civil War.

Sleepless in Seattle - And then comes the love stories. This movie is certainly one of the higher points of the romantic comedy genre. It has magic, kismet and is one of the few romantic movies where the couple doesn't even meet until the end. Very good stuff.

Casablanca - One of the best love stories of all time. Charming, touching and endlessly quotable. And with a goodly amount of smolder...

The English Patient - More love story but this one is overshadowed by the desert. In fact it wouldn't be that outrageous to call it a love triangle. In any case you can warm your February bones with glorious sand dunes. The very beautiful Juliette Binoche doesn't hurt either.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kids Update

I don't know if any of this is worth a post on its own but I thought a little roundup might work well.


  • Relia has her first dentist appointment on Friday. She's very excited. Keeps wanting to remind me. And the FP Gal. And Nana. And probably everyone at her preschool. This has given us a chance to brush up on days of the week as she keeps working out how many days until Friday.

  • The maps on the living room wall continue to be a big hit. We have both a US map and a world one. I like to show Relia where various cities are on the map and she likes going over to point at them.

  • DF also likes the maps. He knows that we point to them and he makes certain to join us so that he can get his pointing in too. This weekend he discovered that there are pictures on them of various local industry. So now we get 'apple, apple, apple!' as 'cow!'.

  • Both the FP Gal and I have to remind ourselves that he isn't two yet. I don't know if it's because he's big or if we just don't remember what two is like. But we both do it. He has taken to walking around with the plastic White Sox bat. When he does I call him Bam Bam. He doesn't get the joke but he does like to be included.

  • We think we may (and I stress 'may') have decided on both a boy and a girl name. This is kind of a relief for us. We had a pretty good girl name about a week after we knew we needed one but the boy name has been a very tough nut to crack. We'll share when it's time.

That's it!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Chalk

Relia and I spent a little time this afternoon writing on the front steps with chalk. Please look at the date of this post. I'd really, really like for this to be an annual tradition for this date but I'm doubtful we'll be able to do so.

'Daimyo'

For a week or so DF has been puzzling us with the word 'daimyo'. He says it repeatedly and clearly and the context seems to change from time to time. It's an actual word. From wikipedia:

Daimyo (大名 Daimyō?, About this sound Pronunciation (help·info)) is a generic term referring to the powerful territorial lords[1] in pre-modern Japan who ruled most of the country from their vast, hereditary land holdings. In the term, "dai" (?) literally means "large", and "myō" stands for myōden (名田?), meaning private land.[2]

So apparently he's a Japanese history buff! Surprising in one so young but it's important to nurture early inspirations, right?

And then we figured it out. He was simply saying 'down-we-go'. Poor little DF was simply trying to tell us that he wanted down from chairs, couches or holding arms.

The more you know, I guess.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Reading

Keep in mind that there are some good selections up for January over here. There is:
  • Plato's 'Apology', in which you can help me figure out what the heck Socrates was up to.
  • Plato's 'Crito', where you can figure out the idea that made my libertarian leaning jaw drop.
  • Aristophanes' 'Clouds', and chuckle along with me at a fairly novel use for philosophers.

and

  • Aristophanes' 'Lysistrata', to find an ancient anti-war remedy.

Some good stuff there . . .

Playoffs

Time again for my annual attempt to perfectly pick the playoffs. Ready?

Bengals at Texans (-4)
One of the things that I like about this year's playoff teams is how many down on the their luck franchises are there this year. Exhibit A is this game and it's a shame that both fans can't experience a win here. On the field it's tough to tell who should win this. Houston is a better team but they have had serious injury issues. Ah, I'll go with the home team and pick Houston.

Lions at Saints (-10.5)
The Saints are quite possibly the best team in the NFL right now. The Lions have some issues, both with talent and temperament. It's tough to see how Detroit comes through here except . . . nah, I'll still go with New Orleans.

Falcons at Giants (-3)
Like the last game this one features one team that is kind of schizo and one with a lower level of talent. Only in this one, it's two different teams. I suppose I should go with the better team, especially when they're at home but I've got a hunch that New York folds. I'll go with Atlanta.

Steelers (-8) at Broncos
Home dog in the playoffs? When the favored team's QB is working with one foot and their top running back is out? And the underdog has this year's football story of the year? Um, no. I'll go with Denver here.

As always, I'll go against a coin and see which one is better:
Bengals
Saints
Falcons
Steelers

Friday, January 06, 2012

Have a Great Friday

In case anyone reading this is missing snow . . .

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Crash Day



Nine years ago today I took the Sportage off-road. Be careful on the ice out there, ok?

Around the World



This one looks best in full screen. What an amazing trip that must have been!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Top Five January Movies

We're very comfortable with the idea of movies that fit with various parts of the year, the best example being the large selection of Christmas movies for December. I was curious if I could come up with five movies that best fit each particular month. These choices are necessarily personal. Comment and suggestion is very welcome.

For January:
When Harry Met Sally - This might seem a strange choice for January since the action in the movie takes place at all times of the year. The climax scene centers on a New Year's Eve party so I'm declaring that it has crept over the line and into the new year. Besides, December has more than enough movies of its own.

Fargo - I don't know of an earlier movie that got an upper Midwest winter right before this one. Especially the scenes of snowy fields and the snow covered cars in parking lots. Cold, cold, cold!

A Simple Plan - Maybe not as well known, but this movie takes place in a snowy Wisconsin. The plot centers on a family that finds some stolen money and tries to hide it from the police. Unfortunately the lies they tell become more and more difficult to keep straight and the web tightens. A very good movie.

The Shining - Again with the snow and the cold. I know of no better movie that gets to the heart of cabin fever during the winter. Seriously, after a few days of being snowed in with my family it would get ugly too.

Lawrence of Arabia - And the antidote for all of the cold and snow? How about some of the best desert cinematography and story-telling ever. Put this on during the bleakest part of January and by the middle of the movie you'll be pushing the blankets off and wanting to make some ice tea.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Policed!

As I mentioned I got ticketed back around Thanksgiving. I was driving on 35W and I didn't pull over a lane while a police car was on the shoulder. He pulled me over and then yelled at me for a few minutes. I didn't talk back to him at all. In fact, when he came up to the car I wasn't sure what I'd done. The shoulders on 35W are fairly wide and I judged that there was plenty of distance between me and the parked car. What I've learned is that I'm not allowed to make that judgment call.
I told the FP Gal later that day. I was ashamed for having done something wrong, especially in front of the kids. We looked at the ticket and it didn't have a fee on it. So I called into the system and asked how much it would be. We then wrote out a check and sent it in.
On the ticket it says that paying money is the same as a guilty plea. And I'll go ahead and plead guilty here. I should have moved over. I think that the law could maybe have a bit more elasticity but that probably wouldn't work. So be it. I did the crime and now I was ready to pay my fine.
Only the check came back to us along with a note saying that we would receive a court summons. A court summons. Apparently there was endangerment so there has to be a court appearance. And when do we get said summons? This is the frustrating part. No one knows. It depends on when they 'get to it' or something like that. And if the summons gets lost in the mail or misdelivered? Well, then I'll have a warrant out for me.
Gah!
They did helpfully tell me that if I haven't seen anything in another month I should call again.
Double gah!!

I just want to put this all behind me; pay my fine and be done with it. I've already had my lecture and believe me, I have learned my lesson. Please let me go!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Overheard

Back around Thanksgiving I was driving the kids to Relia's swim lesson when I got pulled over and ticketed. There was a cop on the side of 35W and I didn't pull over a lane when passing. He came up and gave a quick and angry lecture which made a big impression on some little ears. Paying the ticket has been a minor nightmare but I'll right about that in a different blog post.
Yesterday, while eating lunch with the FP Gal's family Relia leaned over to me.

Relia: (whispering) Isn't this a good time to tell everyone about the time you got policed?
Me: (whispering back) NO.

This morning while we were out driving down 35W again I was reminded of this and decided to have a word with her about how I'd rather not share this with anyone and everyone.

Me: Relia, about the time that daddy was, um, 'policed'. I'd rather not tell everyone about that ok?
Relia: But how will they know that it happened then?
FP Gal: Daddy doesn't really want to tell everyone about that.
Relia: That's ok. I'll tell them!

She really didn't understand.

Happy Monday


(It is Monday, right?)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2011 Vikings RIP

The season is (mercifully) over and I want to put down some thoughts now so I can look back and laugh later.






  • This was only the second Viking team of my lifetime to 3-13. The other one (in 1983) was almost certainly a worse one. For instance, of the Vikings 13 losses, no fewer than 9 were by less than a touchdown. That means one tipped ball or dropped pass from the opposition or some other fluke in those games and they could have won any of them.



  • Their other four losses were by deficits of 29, 38, 10 and 22. So they lost a ton of games but only were blown out three times. This wasn't a terrible team. Or at least, not an all time terrible team.



  • Their three wins were by margins of 24, 3 and 7. So all in all they played 11 out of 16 games to less than a touchdown difference. Yeesh.



Enough with the scores though, what do they do moving forward? Back in the spring I wanted them to draft the best O-lineman they could and roll the dice with Webb at quarterback. Instead they grabbed Ponder for QB. We got to see plenty of him this season and you can see the potential. He might be a pretty good QB in time.
The problem is that every time Webb has been given an opportunity, he's been pretty good. I keep hearing that he couldn't be a franchise quarterback and for the life of me, I don't understand why not. As a back up he'll be better than some of the other QBs that start next season for other teams. Maybe the Vikings really do have this figured out but I could use some convincing.
What else? The defensive secondary looked old this year. Maybe next draft they pick a cornerback with the third pick and then another one early in the second round. For the last few years the Viking defensive backfield has been awful and that needs to change. It could also be that the Vikes need to abandon the Tampa 2 defense. I watch other teams play and the opposing receivers are covered and I think, why not us?
The offensive line needs help and that help should come in a hurry. I don't know if that means drafting or simply going out and finding bodies but it needs to be improved. I keep hearing that next year's draft should be deep for receivers. If so, then I hope they hold off until the late rounds.

The last year and a half have been just abysmal for Minnesota sports (except for the Lynx). I wonder how long until the rebound?

Happy New Year



We didn't stay up that late considering (probably 1a) but Relia decided that we needed a slumber party sometime around 5a. Not the best beginning to the year. Oh well, the day is bound to get better, right?