Sunday, July 05, 2015

Historical Fiction booklist

I almost always enjoy my visits to historical fiction but I don't go there often enough.  This list from Hugh Hewitt looks like a very good one.  He emphasizes a kind of reverse chronology approach, which probably compels the reader to keep asking 'what caused that?'.  He also emphasizes series by authors who really know what they're doing.  Looks like good stuff.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

From July 2013

Is there a city with better detective stories than LA? Only London comes close.

We've discovered the trick to getting the kids to fall asleep while reading to them. Read from Kipling.

Civil war in Egypt. The beneficiary is the player with the most unit points left in storage. (Civilization board game joke.)

Sarah is going away for three days, so it's just me and the kids. I promised her that I would not take the kids to McDonalds more than six times while she's gone.

Felix just pointed at the words on his shirt (which reads 'Mama's Boy') and told me that it says 'Dragon-Fire'.

Kids are in bed and I'm having a drink.

Relia is upset that a children's show is showing tortoises and sea turtles together as if they're both turtles. How dare they!

Kids are in bed and day three of single parenting is done. For the record, we only had fast food once.

Looking at titles on Netflix and saw one called 'Why Ships Sink'. I asked Relia why she thinks they sink and she said "because they're *way* heavy!".
I bet she's right.

For my fellow travel agents: Does The Queen hold a passport?

A. As a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is unnecessary for The Queen to possess one. All other members of the Royal Family, including The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales, have passports.

(From the FP Gal) I sent my not quite 6 year-old to her room. She slammed the door and is now blaring her lullaby music. smile emoticon Peder thinks we need to tell her to "turn down that music!" just to complete the picture.

Watching Dumbo and Felix just asked 'who delivers the baby storks?'.

Lessons from watching the guy ahead of me at SA this afternoon: 1) you can't buy beer with a non-US passport at an SA. 2) If you call the woman at the counter crazy, she will call you crazy too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

From June 2013

Back when I was young, June was a warm month.

What is the ratio of Superman origin movies to overall Superman movies? 1 to 2?

Saw 'Midnight in Paris'. Why in the world do people keep casting Rachel McAdams? She's no longer believable as a person.

If aliens ever show up and need to take some representatives back to their home planet, I'd like to nominate the entire extended Kardashian family. It won't show the human race in the best light, but we'll finally be rid of them.

Overheard while potty training continues:
Felix: Can someone please put pants on me?
Oh, we are indeed living the dream.

Felix about cousin Michael, "He's my special friend. I'm going to kiss him right in the face!"

Sarah is going to build a wall today. Every time she mentions it, Pink Floyd goes through my head.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

From May 2013

(Finally updating from Facebook.)

It's snowing and they're testing the sirens in Minneapolis. The despair is palpable.

Last year, when we had a very mild winter, I distinctly remember a woman (friend of a friend) who was upset that her poor 2nd grader would 'never see snow again'. I've thought of her often over the last two months. The next time someone utters such an absurdity at a Minnesotan we should be allowed to smack them.

I predict that by the year 2025, we will officially change the name of clownfish to 'Nemo-fish'.

Relia to me: Oops, I forgot you're a human.
That's kind of the slogan of my mornings.

Watching some Veggie Tales with the kids for the first time in ever. After a good ten minutes, Felix had an epiphany and realized that Bob is a tomato.

Well, we can't say that a baby has never pooped on our Wii balance board anymore.

Felix thinks we should do Halloween tomorrow so he can get some more candy. I'm trying to explain to him that this isn't quite the way it works.

I cried a little bit (link).

Dealing with tired kids is like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book where you die on all of the pages.

Leo is methodically beating a little doll to death with a toy boat. He's like a cute little King Kong.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Books that are Mazes

I may just have to work my way through this list here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Catchy Music

A while back I realized that when I hear the kids singing, the songs fall into one of two categories.  Either kids songs, like Itsy Bitsy Spider, or more modern music from the FP Gal, like 'Shake it Off'.  That didn't sit well with me.  One of my parenting duties is to pass on my musical tastes to my children.  To aid in this, I decided to consciously put some earworms from the 80's into their path.
To do this, I asked my friends on Facebook for suggestions.  They gave me 30+ comments worth of suggestions and I spent some time (and money) on iTunes and made a disc for the car.  This post is to update what has worked and what hasn't.

1. We Got the Beat, Go-Go's - This one worked.  The kids sing along and sometimes talk about it when it isn't playing.
2. Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper - Maybe the biggest hit of the bunch.  I've caught Felix singing it outside of the car.
3. Break My Stride, Matthew Wilder - A miss, at least so far.  Maybe it just takes time.
4. Mr Roboto, Styx - A big hit.  The other day, Felix was singing it all the way into daycare.  The FP Gal said that it's stuck in her head too.
5. Make a Circuit with Me, Polecats - One of the lesser known songs on the list.  I like it quite a bit and this gave me the excuse to buy it.  Video:
6. The American, Simple Minds - A better known group, but a lesser known song.  This one is kinda working.  I'll give it time.
7. Too Shy, Kajagoogoo - I was certain this one would go over well but so far nothing.
8. Should I Stay or Should I Go, The Clash - Another great song and this gave me an excuse to buy it.  The kids love it.
9. Walk of Life, Dire Straits - I was very ready to put this in the miss column but yesterday Felix told me that he loves the organ part at the beginning. 
10. People are People, Depeche Mode - Very catchy and it's caught with them.
11. Your Song, Elton John - A total miss.  Oh well, it give me something to sing.
12. My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone), Chillwack - Another lesser known, I think.  Well, it's been an earworm for me for more than 30 years.  Maybe it'll catch with them too.  Video:
13. Borderline, Madonna - Nothing.  Maybe I should have gone with a different Madonna but I didn't want to use either 'Like a Virgin' or 'Material Girl'.
14. She Blinded Me With Science, Thomas Dolby - Or as they call it, 'the science song'.  Another hit.
15. The Way It Is, Bruce Hornsby - They like the piano.  (Relia loves it.)  I count this as a win.
16. Cars, Gary Numan - They haven't show much interest here.  Maybe because it's not really the lyric that's catchy, but the music.  Oh well. 
17. It's My Life, Talk Talk - Nothing here either but I certainly don't mind hearing it more often.
18. It's the End of the World As We Know It, R.E.M - They sing along with this one, at least the chorus. 
19. Take Me Home, Phil Collins - The kids may not like it but I do.  Maybe I should have gone with Abacab.

Anyway, thanks, Facebook friends!  I'm sure I'll need to make a new disc in a month or two so keep the ideas in mind!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Boston 2024

After all the run up to the US Olympic committee, I think I forgot to mention that they actually did get a pick made.  They choose Boston.  The belief is that the US is the front runner for the games because they've gone so long without hosting them.  If Boston wins, it will have been 28 years since the Atlanta games.  Since the US provides a huge amount of the advertising and support, it only makes sense that they'd get good treatment in terms of hosting.
Anyway, they've released some pictures of the proposed sites.  It looks pretty good.  I especially like the idea of holding events on famous University grounds. 
I look forward to it!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Salmon Recipe

On the ride home today, DF asked me if I know how to cook a salmon.  I don't but he was kind enough to give me the recipe.  

Step 1. Get a big fish.
Step 2. Peel the skin off.
Step 3. Cut it in pieces.
Step 4. Leave a big half.
Step 5. Put it in the oven in a long pan.
Step 6. Cook it for maybe 30 minutes.
Step 7. Slice it up into little pieces.
Step 8. Eat.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Joy of Myth

Last week my dad got me a book called 'The Well Trained Mind' (Amazon link).  It's basically a book about the educational upbringing of your children with a heavy emphasis on home-schooling.  While I'm not about to go the home-schooling route, the book seems like an excellent plan for those who do.  I'll be using it as a big ol' suggestion box for things to supplement the education the kids are getting at school.
One thing that it emphasizes is exposing young children to the myths and stories of the classic world.  This means the Greeks and Egyptians of course, but it also suggests the Babylonians and Chinese and such.  We've touched on some of these but probably not enough.
This Sunday we went to the bookstore so that Relia could use her new kids club discount card.  While she was looking at books, I noticed a large bookshelf dedicated to children's versions of the classics.  I grabbed the opportunity and picked up a book of Greek myths.  I showed it to DF and he quickly turned up his nose.
Well, so be it.  I simply told him that the next time I read them bedtime stories, we were going to read from that and I didn't really care if he objected.  I picked a story about Hercules.  He was hooked.  He loved it.  He insisted on another story and then insisted that the FP Gal read from it the next night.  This shouldn't be a surprise, I suppose.  The Greek myths have captivated readers for literally millennia. 
So now I'll go back and find another one.  There was a book on Roman myths (which probably covers much of the same cast).  I'll look for the Egyptians and the Chinese too.  It feels like a world has opened for him. 
Several worlds.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Olympic Stadium Woes

There is an interesting NYT article about the proposed stadium for Tokyo's upcoming 2020 Olympics.  They're fighting over the size and cost of the thing and (especially) its post-Olympic future. 
Officials here have reacted to the public outcry by reducing the proposed stadium’s size and budget. Ms. Hadid’s earlier version came in at about $2.5 billion, more than twice the $1.1 billion originally allocated for the stadium.
The Sport Council at first called for a retractable roof to soundproof future cultural events like concerts. The steep cost of building and maintaining such an apparatus, critics said, would take away valuable materials and financial resources still needed for reconstruction after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
After sustained objections from critics, including Mr. Maki and the 2013 Pritzker winner Toyo Ito, the Japanese government reduced the stadium’s budget to $1.37 billion and its site to 52 acres, down from 71. The revised design still includes a retractable roof.
This made me think of a recent article I saw about the proposed sites for a 2024 San Francisco Olympics.
While San Francisco is the named city in its bid, the proposal for the Games is a regional effort. Venues stretch from San Pablo Reservoir in the East Bay for rowing to the San Jose Convention Center for judo, wrestling and tae kwon do, but 17 of the 26 venues would be in San Francisco. Bid organizers, led by San Francisco Giants President and CEO Larry Baer, who won over Lee on the idea, stress that their plan is evolving. A number of backup sites are available if needed.
But as it stands, 23 of the 26 planned venues are either already built, like Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara; in development, like the Golden State Warriors’ arena in San Francisco’s Mission Bay; or will be temporary, including a $350 million, 65,000-seat “pop-up” stadium on a damp stretch of land in Brisbane where track and field events and the Opening and Closing ceremonies would be held.
Rather than go the route of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, where construction of major venues helped drive costs to an estimated $44 billion, San Francisco is trying to apply the model used in London in 2012. The Games there were concentrated primarily in existing, temporary or shrinkable facilities and ended with a surplus, according to the London organizing committee’s year-after financial report.
 So in Tokyo, they're talking about a $1370 million dollar stadium while in SF, they're talking about $350 million.  It sounds like SF would have a more temporary approach.  (I think that's what 'pop-up' means.)  While Tokyo wants something permanent and useful beyond 2020.  Both approaches have something to say for them.  Beijing spent a boatload of money on their very pretty site but it's now mostly empty.  The future prospect must be in place before moving forward for it to make financial sense.

The NYT article mentions the awful mess that Montreal made in '76. 
Montreal’s stadium, for example, designed for the 1976 Olympics by the French architect Roger Taillibert, left the city with more than $2 billion in debt that took 30 years to repay, earning the arena a nickname change from the Big O to the Big Owe. Scheduled events there are sporadic, as they are for the stadium used for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, which has been widely criticized for not having a post-Olympics plan.
 Montreal is tricky as a cautionary tale.  The mayor of the city kind of went crazy with the money.  He treated it as if there was no possible limit.  This included lavish bonuses and an apparent belief that there was no possible way of losing money.  And kind of realistic approach today would give better results.