Sunday, February 26, 2006

Family Update - Another Long One

Wouldn't you know it?

I spend the week in a shirt and tie, my wife and kids ride around in a minivan, and most days I'm cleanshaven (sans my standard goatee).

But today I go bumming to the grocery store wearing pants older than my kids, a scrubby t-shirt, and two days worth of facial hair (which for me, is dang near a beard by itself). In additon, I'm driving the same ten year old, $8,000 (when new) car my wife and I took on our first date.

And I run into some old co-workers I haven't seen in six or seven years.

Nice.

But overall it's been a positive week. Last Wednesday was the 11th anniversary of the day my wife and I met, so at the last minute we dumped the kids and spent the night at a bed-and-breakfast in Cedarburg, WI.

It's a nice place, built in 1847 and still in business. We were the only guests, and the innkeeper doesn't stay overnight, so it was a wee spooky in the dead of morning. But aside from  the obvious uses of a hotel room (heh heh),which came w/ a fireplace and whirlpool big enough for my hearty frame, we went up and down the street browsing through stores.

According to a Wall St. Journal article, the candy shop down the road has the 'world's best' carmel apples, and at a bookstore across the street I found a great Andre Norton novel "Empire of the Eagle".

By noon the next day I was back at work, but it was great while it lasted.

* * * *

YaYa's commercial premiers this Monday. A sad lack of respectable enthusiasm among family and friends has embittered this household, but we push on . . Wednesday, right before the trip, I volunteered at her school and then gave a speech to her class for career day (which included playing the commercial!). YaYa seemed proud and the kids said I was 'funny', but the Mrs. felt I should have been more informative. Next time I guess.  Oh, YaYa went to Libby Lu this weekend too, and had a blast.

* * * *

I've spent more alone time with P-Diddy (Parker) this weekend then I have in - well, maybe ever. While the Mrs. took the girls to the mall YaYa's godfather and I went looking at laptops. Parker was a blast while my friend was around, laughing and smiling and not making any trouble.

Then we split up and I went solo, and things changed.

Not too much tho'. He got moodier as he got hungry and tired. We stopped at McDonald's, and as all the highchairs were taken we (nervously) sat side by side in a both sharing a meal. Then we hopped over to my nephew's Championship Basketball game, where Parker really started to lose it. I made a quick stop at the post office and Blockbuster and we were home.

Total time together: 5 or 6 hours.

Ditto today, minus my buddy. With the girls and Mrs. at a birthday party Parker and I went shopping here and there, including the grocery store (where he was my only saving grace with those co-workers).

Overall, I'm really starting to dig the little guy - except for the fact he never EVER sleeps through the night.

* * *

The championship game went poorly, as my nephews team was dominated by a larger squad that took the title by 16 points. He did pretty well though. As one of the few big guys on the team he nabbed a few rebounds, stole a ball, and wound up on the court three times when fouled.

********

The kids are all in swim class. I take YaYa first. She's gotten over the fear she had in the last semester and is kicking butt. Then Middle Child and Parker share a class, with the Mrs. taking the baby.

Middle Child, who I repeat is a Kewpie Doll incarnate, is becoming a dang good swimmer in her own right. Parker doesn't act afraid, but seems to be rather bored.

** * * *
After swim class on Saturday we took in one of the earlier rounds of the basketball tournament. My nephews team was down by three baskets with 90 seconds left.

With 1.6 seconds left and the defense pressing hard, a teammate of Jonah's eased up and hit a shot from three point land to give them the lead.

Man, I was on my feet screaming like the Yanks just took the series!

My nephew got a piece of the inbound pass, but it landed in an opponents hand. A teammate stepped up and covered him, and time ran out.

Oh Nellie! My immediate family accounted for 4/5ths of Jonah's fans in the stands - this was enemy ground. But let me tell you, we made enough noise to drown out a Madison Square Garden crowd.

Even the Mrs. was thrilled. "More exciting than any pro game I've seen" she said.

And the best - if most immature - part: the other team's fans were certain, dead certain, the game was in the bag. And then booya!, their hearts were ripped away. I wish I could have bottled the dead silence that came after that shot. Oh man!

 

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Family News - kind of a long one

.

This Thursday my business had our annual city inspection.

In recent years this has been a disaster - nothing worthy of a 20/20 report mind you, but pages of nicks and scratches against us. Traditionally we put it off as long as possible, until the city said 'time's up'.

Nothing against the previous administration, mind you, both of whom I respect, but it just wasn't made a priority.

This year, on the heels of some recent improvements and a stronger diligence in upkeep, I asked the city to schedule it for last week. Kind of caught them off guard, I'd imagine.

The results? Half an hour into the exhausting five hour inspection the inspector started using phrases like " this is the best its ever been" and "nice, nice".

After completing one building he had a half page of notes. According to him, he'd usually be up to a few pages by that point.

If there is such a thing as 'aceing' an inspection, this was it. The inspector wrote us up for tiny things that have been in place for years.

"Frankly, I don't know how I missed them before," he told us. "Except there were just so many big things in the past."

I was so damn happy I took the family to Ponderosa to celebrate.

In other, much more memorable news in the scheme of things . . .

Today, as I’d briefly mentioned awhile back, my wife and YaYa taped a radio commercial for the company.

I hadn’t told anyone the details because if my daughter had freaked out we’d have backed out with no harm done.

It was my wife’s idea to tape us doing the commercial, so that we could play it to and from school each day. It was the best way for YaYa to learn her lines, since she’s still too young to read.

Tommorow, we'll burn the thing. No one should hear a 300# man say "Mommy, can I ever be a real Princess?" on a loop tape.

We pulled her out of school a wee bit (okay, okay, a few hours) early to make sure she had a nap.

So was she eager, or were we just being typical stage parents?

Well, she’d been nervous one day, excited the next. Today she was both, depending on the hour.

(She’d told my sister yesterday that she was ‘scared of the radio’. My sister, in the dark all along, thought she was bonkers)

So we got to the radio station. It was an otherwise inconspicuous building tucked into a wooded area in a southwestern suburb. From the vesitbule you could look into the working DJ booths of two local stations.

That got YaYa’s excitement up.

The sales rep, a really nice guy, came and took us to a recording booth where we all chatted for a bit. I started to get worried that YaYa was going to go stir crazy, and as it turns out it was the wrong booth – the right one was down the hall.

Then it was showtime.

It was a much smaller room than I imagined. Just a chair, a table of mixing equipment, and a producer’s station with a computer in front of it. A single microphone was mounted to the table.

[The sales rep asked if I brought my camera and bemoaned the fact that I didn't. I had left it behind because I thought it was a no-no, but if I'm being honest with myself I can't be too upset. It was rather dim in the studio and in all likelihood my camera wouldn't have been up to the task.

Can't seem to get the hang of low light shots, dangit. That's the only time I miss my old Olympus Stylus.]

Wouldn't ya know it, YaYa started to cry.

Here’s where it got dicey; should the crying have gone aminute longer she’d be in a full blown fit, and the commercial would have to be scrapped.

I don’t remember what we did to shut it down, but she sucked it up and we got down to business.

It wasn’t flawless, but it was much better than I think anyone could reasonably have expected from a four year old. The girl had five lines and 38 words to speak on cue for Pete’s sake!

In the end there were several takes, and the producer had YaYa ‘practice without the microphone’ (wink wink) to get her to relax as they redid some individual lines. She had just the most adorable expression everytime she goofed up a line – her eyes bugged out and she brought both hands to her mouth ‘speak no evil’ style.

I haven’t heard the completed commercial yet, as they still have to add the ‘announcer’s’ voice, but they played some of it back.

And heck, I’m not embarrassed – their equipment blew the heck out of the $19 K-Mart recorder we’d used to practice.

It was like listening to the Voice of God, it was that crisp and clear.

Only, you know, audible.

As far as my wife’s part? The sales rep seemed genuinely impressed by her performance and called her a natural. I don’t think it was b.s. – she really is good, and I think he was wondering if she’d done it before in a past life.

After ten years of poverty, I’m finally making her a star :)

So the commercial went well, if not spectacular, and soon I’ll have a copy on CD, and be able to listen to it on the radio.

And YaYa?

I stopped at a custard stand and bought her a strawberry dipped cone that promptly dripped all over my tie.

Such is the price I pay for being married to one star and father to another.

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Another Lost post

Okay, first of all last week’s episode was goofy. Everyone I talked to seems to think it was a stunning masterpiece, a chilling epic of Lost, but that just proves I’m smarter than everyone I know.

Assuming Sawyer was capable of planning the whole thing out means you think he had the foresight to know everyone on the island was going to act out of character.

Locke, while my least favorite regular and IMHO a boob, would not have fallen for such a blatant ploy and certainly not with such meekness. He acted downright wimpy in the episode.

Jack, while prone to bouts of temper, clearly didn’t think it wise to give Chin a gun. Yet minutes later he’s knocking on the door to give him one. Huh?

Charlie wants to humiliate Locke, so he agrees to assault an innocent woman? Again, huh?

Kate’s a professional con artist, at least so far as bank robberies go, falls hook line and sinker for the ruse. Ugh.

And Sawyer himself - the new sheriff in town – is a moron. Everyone hates him now, and quite frankly, who cares about the guns? Haven’t done any of ‘em a bit of good yet.

Tonight’s episode was much better, with characters acting true to themselves. Jack is unwilling to see a man tortured and (hypocritically?) is willing to resort to violence to stop it. Locke stands his ground until his precious island is threatened. The secret of Hurley’s weight is revealed as nothing more than stolen food, but he admirably stands up for himself. Sayid is wickedly awe-inspiring (the line "My name is Sayid, and I am a torturer" sent shivers down my spine).

Of course the guy Michelle found is an Other, though you’ll probably see a balloon in the jungle somewhere just to mess with our heads.

Two quick new Lost ideas to try on you folks:

The island seems to be riddled with people that have Savior complexes. Jack for sure, but Kate killed her stepdad to ‘save’ her mother. Charlie is obsessed with ‘rescuing’ his family, Locke donated a kidney to his father, etc. I’m too tired to elaborate tonight.

The second thing is more of a question that an idea: Charlie was hanged by The Others. If memory serves Judas met a similar fate, and he’s already shown himself to be a betrayer of the group. Coincidence?

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BTW

I'm still chugging away at that %#$#@% Knife of Dreams book. Should have been called The Neverending Though You Wish It Would Book.

 If I have to hear my wife taunt me once more by saying "I'd have finished two of those by now . . as if I'd ever read something that dorky." I'm gonna scream.

 

Short Post

I can't believe it's been a week since my last post. Tonight I'll have another Lost post for you all to ignore, as well as some exciting news on the job/home front. Oh, and my wife has dared me to try and write one of my old 600 word pieces defending Cheney's shooting accident. I just might do it.

Later.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

The next time you feel like GOD can't use you, just remember...

This is another one of my sister's Fwd: emails. Again, not normally my cup of tea, but kind of cute and inspiring.    

 

The next time you feel like GOD can't use you, just remember...


     Noah was a drunk
     Abraham was too old
     Isaac was a daydreamer
     Jacob was a liar
     Leah was ugly
     Joseph was abused
     Moses had a stuttering problem
     Gideon was afraid
     Samson was a womanizer
     Rahab was a prostitute
     Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
     David had an affair and was a murderer
     Elijah was suicidal
     Isaiah preached naked
     Jonah ran from God
     Naomi was a widow
     Job went bankrupt
     John the Baptist ate bugs
     Peter denied Christ
     The Disciples fell asleep while praying
     Martha worried about everything
     The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
     Zaccheus was too small
     Paul was too religious
     Timothy had an ulcer...AND
     Lazarus was dead!

Monday, February 6, 2006

Church joke

Normally I detest Fwd: emails, but as of late my sister Katie's been coming up with some halfway good ones to pass around.

*******************************

An elderly couple was attending church services, when about halfway through she leans over and says to him:

 "I just let a big silent one, what do you think I should do?"

He leans over to her and replies "Put a new battery in your hearing aid."

Another Middle Child saying

I can't believe I forgot Middle Child's favorite saying:

"Snow White run away" - a reference to Snow White fleeing the Evil Queen in the Disney movie. Spoken (inevitably) whenever it's on the vcr (which is always). When spoken, an adult must oblige her by following her into her room to view the pivotal scene. Also verbalized whenever she wears her Snow White dress, sees a picture of the princess, or hears something that possibly/conceivably/maybe/could be a reference to the movie or any attempt to flee authority.

Will this book ever end?

I'm in a bit of an unusual pickle with my current reading material.

The Wheel of Time is an excellent fantasy series by Robert Jordan. In fact it's the only fantasy series I've ever liked enough to endorse. Keep in mind it's hard to recommend the series to someone new because each book is ~1000 pages, give or take a few hundred, and there are eleven entries so far.

Knife of Dreams, the latest installment, is a vast improvement from the tenth book. That one drrrragggged on, and was just a great waste of time. There was no plot or character development; you really could skip that mammoth killer of trees and not miss a thing in the series.

Now  the tempo is greatly increased, the end of the tale is in sight, the fate of the characters is soon to be revealed . . and I can't make any headway.

Seriously, I've read what, ten books in the last few weeks? Yet its taken more than a week to chug through 300 pages of Knife of Dreams.

Aside from the fact that the main character has yet to appear in the book 300 pages in I have no qualms with the story or the writing. Scratch that: after a two year hiatus it's too hard to remember which of the dozens of characters belongs where, much less who is secretly a two-faced agent for whoever.

A nice little 'previously in Wheel of Time' would have been a nice preface . .

I'm enjoying it, but I just can't make headway. With no intention of being a wiseass, I imagine this must be what it's like for a learning disabled reader. You love the material, you want to finish . . . but something holds you back.

Ugh.

Here's hoping I snap out of it.

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Sunday, February 5, 2006

Now, that was ugly

Well, congrats to the Steelers. Even if they hadn't been able to rack up a score or so courtesy of the NFL, they'd have taken the day. I'd still like to see those refs canned, as they were the true difference makers in the game.

A disapointing end to the season for me. Although I rooted for the Steelers through the end of conference play, I was pure and simple a fan of Holmgren and the 'Hawks.

Shame the season had to end like that. At least it wasn't a sport I care about, like baseball. Hard to imagine that I don't really care about football, given my postings, but I'm no more than a casual fan, albeit (I think) a pretty knowlegable one when I give a da**.

Oh well. At least I had a good time with my nephew Jonah, who came over to watch the game. A rare treat nowadays, to see the kid in something more than passing, even if he was a Steelers fan. Check out his blog, located on the sidebar. He's never met a spellcheck program he liked, but other than that its a pretty decent read for an eleven year old.

Oh, btw, I annoyed the heck out of my wife tonight. Not only was I very distracted, my volumne at times kept the kids up and ruined her evening. Time to kiss and make up.

My apologies hon.

Now, two months of rest. And then . .

 

BASEBALL!

 

Another Phantom Penalty/Thank You Ben

8:26 PM Nice to see the ref's call holding where there was none, negating that huge seahawks gain and setting the stage for the interception.

And, while I risk sounding like a whiny sore loser, that penalty against Hasslebeck on the pickoff was bogus - and as I write this, Al Michaels and John Madden just agreed with me.



Thank you Ben (7:57 PM) Sure, I get melodramatic - a man who doesn't live and die during in the heat of competition has no business taking part (even as a fan).

I thought the game was over, and what does Benny do? He tosses it loosy-goosy, 'Hawks intercept and run it back, eventually converting it to a TD.

Thank you Ben.

Signed,

All Seahawks Fans

Halftime Report

Overall, a  lame first half. The penalty negating Seattle's touchdown was a joke, and if Big Ben really crossed the plane with his 'touchdown' Amelia Earheart will land any minute now. . .

In the NFL, the refs seem to favor whoever is the darling of the fans.

And as for the Rolling Stones - lordy, who's going to play SuperBowl forty-one, Scott Joplin? Didya notice that while the folks up by the stage were into the band (and no doubt plants), no one  in the stands seemed to give a rip.

The second half just started and the Steelers scored a big TD . . shame. The game's not over, but it serves as a  reminder that the good guy doesn't always win the day . .

I still say/hope/pray Seattle will pull it off. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

The Siamese/Conjoined Gummy Bear

My wife recently found these sad Gummy Bears on Ebay.

"This gummy bear was pulled from a bag in cleveland Ohio on 1-29-06.It is siamese the red one on the top Is Phil and the yellow one is grover.Grover was born with a birth defect and is missing his bottom left leg.The Highest bidder will save there lives.I will eat both of them in 10 days if they are not sold on Ebay.You and only you can save them.I will assume the highest bidder will give them the best life possible.

 

I wanted to bid, but the Mrs.said $5 was too much money to save this Bears' life . .callous Republican.

 

Another Lost Theory

 

A reader recently left a well-thought out Lost theory on my non-AOL comments page. It's too long to re-post in full, but it can be found here.   Here's the gist of her argument:  

I was originally in line with your theory....but have since revised my position on the whole LOST experience...it's all about the power of the mind and suggestion. . .  Those known as "the others" to the survivors are simply those who are aware of the physic suggestion and the origin of the experiment those who do not yet have this knowledge are "the survivors".


Legitimate studies have proven that children have a heightened physic ability which deminishes over time.  This may be the reason children are garnered by "the others".  they strengthen the illusion that is shared by the collective illusion being produced by those participating in the experiment.


My guess is the reason for the connectivity and background similarity has to do with where the study subjects orginally came from....All could be part of a program that participated in such an experiment or study.

I'm impressed, but not convinced. I think the best explanation is my purgatory argument. I do concede that their is a smattering of clues lately that point to a psychological explanation: namely, that this is all a figment of Hurley's insanity.

* The numbers, which pop up everywhere, are directly connected to the event that started Hurley's fall (the lottery)

*Hurley 'recognized' Libby, the psychologist among the Tailies

*Hurley hasn't lost any weight, despite spending two months on a deserted isle. This has been commented on by both fans and a character in the show. I realize it's probably nothing more than the actor's inability to lose weight, but if it's intentional - maybe his shattered psyche can't imagine a less overweight, 'more worthy' self

*Alone among all the castaways, Hurley seems to be a neutral and universally liked character on the island. Evidence? of him being the unintentional puppet master who's unwilling to ostracize himself?

I'm sure there's more, but Ican't think of it right now. I hope it isn't true. I'd hate to have the show end the way St. Elsewhere did, with the whole thing being written off as the product of an autistic kids imagination.

Might as well have Bobby Ewing pop out of the shower and call it all a dream.

I know there's message threads that debate these things endlessly, so maybe all three of these theories have been disproved - but ya know what? No one short of the writers know the truth, and depending on how long the series runs, the 'truth' might alter as the cast and audience changes.

In the meantime, while I might pop on a message board for a minute or two, I prefer to dwell on my theories here - and I'm more than happy to hear your opinions.

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Friday, February 3, 2006

Quote of the Day

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience --- well, that comes from poor judgment.
— Cousin Woodman

Remembering Buddy


                                                                                                   

Lest you think I forgot, today is the day, 47 years ago, when 'the music died'

Buddy Holly remains one of the greatest of all rock legends, and one of (if not the) personal favorite of mine.

Rest in peace.

Another Family Update

You know, maybe it's normal behavior, but this strikes me as crazy.

As I wrote a post last week, my youngest daughter started yelling for help in that 'Daddy, you're gonna be mad at me' kind of a way.

I went to her room and found her hanging from the top bunk with her arms extended to both sides, suspended only by the muscles in her tiny shoulders. I guess she had been trying to do some stunt, chickened out, and got stuck.

YaYa, of course, was laughing hysterically.

I comforted the little one, scolded YaYa for enjoying her sister's dilemma, and put them both back to bed.

Five minutes later, YaYa calls me: She's hanging the same way, only she did it intentionally.

Her explanation for trying to drag me in there: "You love her better. I like you, but you don't like me. You only like her"

This, if I may be so bold, is her mantra. Doesn't matter how many times you praise her, how often you point out how smart/pretty/articulate she is, it's YaYa vs. the world.

You can't even praise her sister without hearing "But I'm a good girl too. . "

Now, mind you, the gal doesn't have confidence issues. If there's one thing she seems to have inherited wholesale from my adult personality it's a brazen arrogance about her own worth.

It just happens to be mingled in with a stunning lack of faith in other people seeing that worth.

Odd.

In a bit less pedestrian piece of news, there's a chance (a very slim one, mind you) that YaYa will be playing the part of 'little girl' in a radio ad for my company. She's been practicing her lines but I think the part will go to someone older and more experienced.

[Note: out of the darkness of her room, I just overhead the following line from the ad: "Mom, will I ever be a real princess?"]

One thing hurting her at this point are her tonsils. The things are huge, and I'm thinking she may have yet another bout of strep throat. The doc's already said they'll have to go when she's six or so, but that means two more years of sore throats and the occasionally congested voice.

On the personal front today,  I completed the final step towards my teaching license. Well, substitute teacher, er, reserve teacher, they call 'em now, thank you -  but that's good enough.

Eight years ago I graduated college with the intent of going back and getting a full-fledged teaching license, but for a variety of reasons I never finished all the classes.

I don't have much use for the dang thing now, but I did feel the need to wrap up loose ends and validate an otherwise wasted chunk of my scholastic life.

Yay me.

Back on the family front, Parker continues to stand/crawl/smile, but has recently decided he doesn't want to eat anything - with the exception of some pizza we cut up for him tonight.

I also came up with one more saying of Middle Child:

"Sorree bay bee" the  apology issued to her brother whenever she accidentally steps on him, steals his pacifier, drops his toy, or just generally makes him upset.

 

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