Monday, December 31, 2007

My 2008 Resolutions

Why I bother with this self-defeating ritual is beyond me. Nah, that's not true. At the end of the year it gives me some means of gauging my personal successes and failure's, and it does preserve some idea of what struck me as important at a given point in my life.

So with that I present Slapinions List of Doable but Likely Unattainable New Year's Resolutions 2008 Edition.

I'm going to try to keep it simple, both in numbers (an even 10) and in scope.

 1. I will continue to eat healthier and treat my body better, with an ambitious but secondary goal of finishing '08 at 270# or lower (a drop of ~70 pounds)

  I quit smoking; now I just have to conquer this
 
 2. I will continue to place a stronger emphasis on attending church with the kids
  I value my religion and want to pass that on to the kids.

 3. I will make a serious and determined effort to secure publication of my writing

 4. I will try not to be an as**ole
    I have been more self-aware as late; in the past few years my temper has shortened and my standard-issue sarcasm is coming off wrong to others. Time to change that.
  
 5. I will continue to hammer away at my anxiety issues
    
This would be a major victory

 6. I will organize my finances so every paycheck isn't worthy of panic
     I'd like to get a Christmas account going, some additional life insurance (esp. on the house), and a genu-ine 401K of worth

 7. I will try to limit my swearing
  Because frankly, I often sound like a sailor

 8. I will try to be nicer to my family (siblings/parents). 
     They make me all jittery and I get snappish. I should work on that.

 9. I will try to enjoy every moment I spend with my wife and kids
    I already do; but I want to remember each day in detail. They are growing up so fast.

10. I will seek fufillment and happiness in my professional life
     In whatever shape that takes.

To everyone; ahappy, safe, and blessed year ahead!

Happy New Year!

This (*^(*^& Cold/Flu

Really - this must be the cold/flu to end all colds/flus.

Here it is maybe 10 or 12 days after it began and I'm still victim of a horrendous sinus headache and I'm lucky to keep 1 meal in 3 down. Mind you I'm still ok 68% of the day and go about my business, but this is wicked.

Lauren is pretty sick with the cold aspect of this, Smiley's nose runs so much it looks like it should be replaced with a cartoon faucet, but Lu is much improved.

YaYa still seems ok but has taken up with a small fever. Worst thing: yesterday she complained about her chest and when I felt her her heart was beating it's way out of her ribcage. A call to the doc calmed me when he laid it at the feet of the fever, but I checked her several times overnight.

Today, the same thing. Out of nowhere, maybe an hour ago.

If she was older and had any cares at all I'd say it mimics a panic attack, but I'm sure the doctor is right and it's the onset of this cold/flu.

Here's hoping we all improve soon.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

My 2007 Resolutions

Oh man am I a loser, if super-good looking/intelligent folks can ever truly bear that title. In a quest to compose a brief list of resolutions for the upcoming year I came across this post from exactly one year ago today.

Franky, I’d forgotten all about it. I’d thought I’d resolved NOT to make resolutions for 2007, as it was obvious the first part of the year would be taken up with remodeling my house, and the second part with a new baby – both of which preclude any real progress on things like taking trips, or for that matter even taking the chance on a new job.

Here’s the list, and how I did:

1. Continue losing weight, and stick with it.

 Yeah, uh, yeah, ya see . . technically I’ve lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 20+ pounds in the last three months, but that’s after gaining around 70 since New Years. So uh, no.

2. Finish the $3%#$ book

Next.

3. Transcribe all the interviews I've done over the years

Didn’t even look at ‘em.

4. Keep all my teeth

Success!

5. Find happiness in my employment

Let me see if I can put into words how miserably I failed on this score . . oh, no. I can’t.

6. Learn something new

Well, c’mon – try living one year and not learning something. Next.

7. Try to live by my adage "Try not to be an a**hole", as I notice I've been a jerk a lot of 2006 - I blame the job.

Opinions vary.

8. Spend time with my family whenever possible, and actually 'be' present, not just physically there. I've zoned out a lot as of late.

I think I accomplished this. I’ve certainly stepped up to the plate with the new baby.

9. Here's an iffy - see Gettysburg

The closest I got was Gurnee, Illiniois.

10. Resolve or minimize my anxiety, etc. issues

I’ve been much more aggressive on this score and in fairness, I think I have improved a bit.

11. Host a belated 10th anniversary/wife's 30th birthday bash

No money, honey.

12. Take up a physical activity

Well, now that we don’t live in a one-level flat I walk up the stairs several times a day. Does that count?

I guess I’ll have to sit down and come up with something doable for 2008 before the New Year begins. Let me mull it over.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ugh

NE wins 38-35. Give the devils their due, the Patriots struck back hard, but c'mon - the Giants, each and every time I see them, come to a point where they hit a wall and fall apart.

Poor time management, dropped passes, fumbles . .

Ugh.

So for the 4th time an NFL team goes undefeated. Shitty year for the Packers to be so strong; even if they make the SuperBowl they'd probably come in as heavy underdogs.

End of 3rd

Again, missed most of it with the baby. Now's the time to shut NE down; give up a TD on this drive and I worry about the final outcome.

C'mon Giants, hold 'em!

Halftime

I missed most of the 2nd with a poopy diaper and a cranky baby, but the half-ending drive was phenomenal.

I can't believe how pumped I am. I get soo competitive, and never fail to quickly align myself with one opponent or another, even if I've never seen the teams before.  . testosterone and adrenaline just surging through my veins . . Wow.

Allright, Lauren's bawling. Time to go.

Go Giants!

End of 1st Quarter

First, the most important thing. What a crying shame that a game of such historical importance be voiced by Bryant Gumbel. There has never been a more boring, hesitant, dry announcer.

* * *

And Pi** on the NFL's pathetic attempts to pimp the NFL Network. No, I don't need my cable bill to go up for some slapped-together excuse of a network. I live and breathe baseball and I wouldn't want a 214/7/365 MLB channel either, you money hungry jack**ses.

* * *

I'm very anti-conspiracy, but that b.s. call that voided that 3rd and long sack reeked of micromanagment by the NFL.

* * *

Thanks for the dance in the end zone Randy, and for the TD it created for the Giants.

* * * *
Please, please, continue to pound Jan Brady on every down.

 

Some brief commentary on the Silver Screen

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that last weekend my wife and I were able to see a movie together for the first time in over a year, courtesy of my niece Caitlin's first-ever babysitting.

We saw I am Legend, a movie I've been hankering to see for a long time. Remember I saw the Charlteon Heston version and I'm a fan (albeit a casual one) of author Richart Matheson (sp?).

I loved it, but I left under no misconception that it was Old School or frankly much of a date movie. To quote my wife, who also enjoyed it, "It was like watching the first 10 minutes of [Saving} Private Ryan over and over and over for 2 hours".

She's right. It's dark, it's depressing, and it's relentless. There is no levity, no rainbow in the clouds, no sense of anything but despair.

A very good flick.

* * *

One of my little joys in life  has been watching Turner Movie Classics. It seems to be what American Movie Classics was in my childhood (now it is a mis-mosh of recent crap, presumably because TMC withdrew it's library from that station).

I watched Detective Story, a 1951 Kirk Douglas/William Bendix  piece last night. It doesn't hold up well. Morals have changed, it was overacted, and the plot was weak.

One thing I walked away from it with was a new appreciation for the constitutional restrictions placed upon the police. Complain about Miranda all you want; now watch the allegedly accurate potrayal of a 1951 police station in that movie and thank that little pr**k for that Supreme Court decision.

Folks are denied lawyers, even when they ask for one. Suspects are slapped, kicked, and threatened with beatings. (One lawyer photographs his client before booking to ensure no rough stuff). People, both suspects, witnesses, and victims are brow beaten and pushed to do what the cops want.

AND THROUGHOUT IT ALL, NO ONE EVEN QUESTIONS THE BEHAVIOR.

I presume audiences of 1951 didn't blink either, since it was a famous Broadway play turned Academy Award nominated movie and again, deemed 'accurate' - even to the point of having Douglas suit up in a real NY police station to get the 'feel' for his [abusive] part.

The only socially positive spin - there was an African-American officer.

Man - if I haven't mentioned it before Lord, thanks for having my folks make me in 1974.

* * * *

I also saw Lily Turner (~1933) starring Ruth Chatterton. Ruth was a moderately famous actress who phased out of sight with the implementation of the Morals Code in the mid '30's.

And small wonder - Lily Turner features bigamy, routine adultery, alcoholism, insanity, and attempted murder.

The movie was awarded two stars by Time Warner Cable, but I thought it was decent show, albeit nothing special.

Warning: slipping into 'sassy' talk for a few paragraphs

Chatterton, even at 40, was pretty darn hot, but then again I'm starting to like women in that age range (but that whole naughty girl thing helped lol)

Sigh. It's a shame. Hollywood's finest lived and died decades before the current crop of aneroxic no-talents made it mandatory for actresses to take off their shirts.

But I digress.

Back to good clean family fun

Two points to make about the movie: One the crazy killer was of course, someone with a heavy German accent - also the case in Detective Story. Wartime propaganda dies hard.

Second, in some of the scenes both Chatteton and two men are used as living advertising for a health supplement - I forget the exact wording, but they are billed as being the picture postcard of fitness and health.

Chatterton, and Lord knows I wouldn't complain, has curves and is easily several sizes above current 'standards'.

The men, including one 'strongman', look scrawny and ill-defined. We'd all giggle if they were the models for such malarkey today.

The woman you can write off as changing societal ideals I guess, but the men??? Obviously decades of better medicines, a wider and generally more nuturious menu, and advances in pure size have changed our 'ideal man'. Remember, my maternal grandpa died at 5'6" and a chubby 160# - I'm 6'3" and admittedly overweight, but with a frame that dwarfs his.

Micro-evolution at work over 3/4ths of a century? Perhaps some of that is involved too.

What do you think?

Friday, December 28, 2007

On the Hall, Bhutto, and Snow

Thanks for the well wishes on recovering from our Christmas illnesses's. Unfortunately while YaYa seems completely immune, Lisa is a near zombie, LuLu still feels awful, Smiley isn't living up to his name, and the baby is grumpy.

On the other hand I seem to be on the mend, so hah!

Anyhow, I just wanted to pop on and leave behind a few scattered comments while I have a few moments.  

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto really shocked me. I'd been casually following her opposition to the Pakistini government  for a few months and to open cnn.com and see the headline of her death . . wow.

We've got friends from Pakistan that visit their home every few years, and I think she's there now . . I'll pray for her safety.

* * * *

4 - 8 more inches of snow today, on top of the 2 plus feet that has already made this the 5th snowiest December in recorded Milwaukee history.

Ugh.

* * * *
Good for the NFL for caving in and opening the potentially historic Patriots-Giants game up to the nation at large. I'll be watching - and rooting against New England.

* * * *

Ballots are due on Monday for the Baseball Hall of Fame. If I had a vote . . 

Well, hell, I'm as 'small hall' guy. I get my jollies when years produce only one or two inductees, and the rare year when no one gets in, 'tis warms me heart it does.

No one on the 2008 ballot really excites me. Under the guise of 'small hall', if I had to pick one name, it'd be. .

Mark McGwire.

Sure he probably did steroids, but if the Mitchell report did anything it showed that the use and abuse of those drugs was more 'mainstream' than previously imagined. Does that excuse him? Nah.

But go ahead and tell me how many of those home runs you'd take away because of steroids. This isn't Tony Gwynn; the man was going to hit 'em out (to some degree) roids or no roids.

Not voting for him because he was a 'one trick pony' who could only hit home runs? Yeah, uh huh. Like that would have stopped you from electing him pre-congressional hearing. Don't be a hypocrite.

I guess I have nothing more than an emotional rationale for my support of his candidacy. I enjoyed watching him play, I really did.

If the future has a place for Bonds and Clemens in the Hall, as I'm sure it does, than Big Mac belongs there too.

Now if I was going to go 'big hall' here's who I'd choose:

Tim Raines -  2,605 hits and 808 stolen bases

Allan Trammell  -better than most shortstops in the Hall; overshadowed by some more media-popular players of his era

Bert Byleven - not a name that jumps out at you, but a sufficient 'compiler' of stats to warrant election. 5th all time in strikeouts, 25th or 26th in wins (I forget which)

and the beforementioned McGWire.

 

 

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Boxing Day

Happy Boxing Day all - hope your Christmas was magical.

Ours was marred a bit by illness. On Xmas Eve I took the day off and took LuLu to the doctor. She'd had a cold all weekend and had actually asked to go to the doc, but I underestimated her illness. Turns out she had pneumonia and was quickly put on some powerful antibiotics and an inhaler. While everyone at my Mom's house had already been exposed (and thus the celebration went on) we had to cancel both our standard Christmas morning breakfast with my father-in-law  and a planned Xmas night party at our house.

By today everyone was sick to some degree and I took the two little one's to the ER (I was unable to get a dr appointment) but nada on pneumonia - just bad respitory colds.

Anyhow, the Christmas Eve party was a lot of fun. I made mashed potatoes - peeled 'em and all - and the food was good and the company good natured.

There's pics of the day, and maybe I'll post them soon (inc. some pics of Lauren's first Christmas) but right now the baby's crying up a storm, the wife is sneezing and my sinus feel like they weigh as much as my belly . .

Woo. Gonna be a fun way to send off 2007.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

VH1's Top 100 songs of the '90's

The wife and I watched much of VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '90's and had a blast doing it . . .but we were disappointed in the final 20.

The order seemed a bit jumbled there at the end (U2 at #2 - really?? - they're a good band, tho' over-rated, but either way the #2 song of the DECADE?). TLC doesn't belong in the 20 either (thank Left Eye's death for the sympathy vote), or Destiny's Child Say My Name, and Alanis shoulda cracked the top 10 - was there a more signature song of the mid '90's then You Oughta Know?

My wife agreed Nirvana would take the crown, but disagreed with the selection. [How cool that Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child called Teen Spirit her favorite song of all time?]. Try as I might, I cannot convince her to abandon her distaste for the group. As in my failure to convert her to Catholicism, I worry this too will condemn her soul.

All in all, not a bad list for your MP3 player.



100 Greatest Songs Of The '90s Full List
01. Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
02. U2 "One"
03. Backstreet Boys "I Want It That Way"
04. Whitney Houston "I Will Always Love You"
05. Madonna "Vogue"
06. Sir Mix-A-Lot "Baby Got Back"
07. Britney Spears "...Baby One More Time"
08. TLC"Waterfalls"
09. R.E.M. "Losing My Religion"
10. Sinéad O'Connor "Nothing Compares 2 U"
11. Pearl Jam "Jeremy" - their most popular Ten song, but not my favorite at all.
12. Alanis Morissette "You Oughta Know"
13. Dr. Dre (featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg) "Nuthin' but a "G" Thang"
14. Mariah Carey "Vision of Love"
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers "Under the Bridge"
16. MC Hammer "U Can't Touch This"
17. Destiny's Child "Say My Name"
18. Metallica "Enter Sandman"
19. Beastie Boys "Sabotage"
20. Hanson "MMMBop"
Twenty to 25 rock . .
21. Celine Dion "My Heart Will Go On"
22. Beck "Loser"
23. Salt-N-Pepa with En Vogue "Whatta Man"
24. House of Pain "Jump Around"
25. Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun"

26. Eminem "My Name Is"
27. Counting Crows "Mr. Jones"
28. Ricky Martin "Livin' laVida Loca" man I hated this song.
29. Vanilla Ice "Ice Ice Baby" I owned TWO copies of this album
30. *NSYNC "Tearin' Up My Heart"
31. Radiohead "Creep" Love it!
32. BLACKstreet "No Diggity" true story: lacking cable and therefore videos, I thought this was Backstreet Boys until 2005.
33. Spice Girls "Wannabe" I still love Posh, but looking at them all in the video . . yum.
34. Third Eye Blind "Semi-Charmed Life" boring
35. Oasis "Wonderwall" kickass
36. C+C Music Factory "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)"still rocks, and with a NKOTB connection.
37. Green Day "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" Bush bashers or not, they're great
38. Christina Aguilera "Genie In A Bottle" c'mon - who didn't think she was the best singer among the Britney's of the world
39. Goo Goo Dolls "Iris" I liked Goo Goo before they were big.
40. Color Me Badd "I Wanna Sex You Up" the ugly guy married Tamara Gray???
41. Spin Doctors "Two Princes" I'm ashamed to say I used to like it
42. Collective Soul "Shine"
43. En Vogue "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)"
44. The Fugees "Killing Me Softly With His Song"
45. Hootie & the Blowfish "Only Wanna Be With You"
46. Shania Twain "You're Still the One"
47. Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch "Good Vibrations" still makes ya move
48. Matchbox Twenty "3 AM"
49. Jewel "Who Will Save Your Soul"
50. Alice in Chains "Man in the Box" Please . .it's Alice!
51. Tupac (featuring Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman) "California Love"
52. Sugar Ray "Fly"
53. Naughty by Nature "O.P.P." Lisa still laughs that I learned what OPP meant only when watching this show
54. Joan Osborne "One of Us" a fave of Lisa's . . catchy song.
55. Fiona Apple "Criminal"
56. L.L. Cool J "Mama Said Knock You Out"
57. Jay-Z featuring Amil and Ja Rule "Can I Get A..."
58. Sophie B. Hawkins "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover"
59. Weezer "Buddy Holly"
60. Bell Biv DeVoe "Poison" loved it.
61. Sheryl Crow "All I Wanna Do" tired
62. Live "I Alone" always brings back memories of my sister's ex, but I love Live
63. The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Mase & Puff Daddy "Mo Money Mo Problems" yeah, uh, I'll try the mo problems on for size
64. The Presidents of the United States of America "Peaches" don't remember it from back in the day, honestly
65. Digital Underground "The Humpty Dance" shoulda cracked the top 20!
66. Edwin McCain "I'll Be" what a plain looking guy, eh?
67. Deee-Lite "Groove Is In The Heart" catchy and groovy and the chick is yum
68. Will Smith "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" deserves to be here, but won't be played in 20 years.
69. Korn "Freak on a Leash" never got into them
70. Jamiroquai "Virtual Insanity"again, don't remember it, maybe because it was video heavy?
71. Arrested Development "Tennessee" Milwaukee native Speech
72. Barenaked Ladies "One Week"
73. Marcy Playground "Sex and Candy"
74. Cher "Believe"
75. Kris Kross "Jump"
76. Blues Traveler "Run-Around"
77. Ice Cube "It Was a Good Day" i owned the album. the song sucks.
78. Lenny Kravitz "Are You Gonna Go My Way" loved it back then. still catchy.
79. Meredith Brooks "Bitch" change the title and it wouldn't be here. yawn.
80. Right Said Fred "I'm Too Sexy" yawn
81. Paula Cole "I Don't Want to Wait"
82. Geto Boys "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" my cousin was a big fan
83. The Breeders "Cannonball" I loved this song!
84. Snow "Informer" I loved this too, to my shame! Still catchy.
85. Cypress Hill "Insane In The Brain" liked it.
86. The Cranberries "Linger"
87. Billy Ray Cyrus "Achy Breaky Heart" saw him in concert, and the kids love his daughter
88. Duncan Sheik "Barely Breathing"
89. Liz Phair "Never Said" saw her in concert long past her prime
90. New Radicals "You Get What You Give"
91. Sarah McLachlan "Building a Mystery"
92. Public Enemy "911 Is A Joke"
93. Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories "Stay" god, you couldn't avoid this awful song in the '90's
94. Fastball "The Way"
95. Montell Jordan "This is How We Do It" LOVE it . memories of my nephews birth
96. Nelson "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection"
97. Prince & The New Power Generation "Gett Off" I love Prince
98. EMF"Unbelievable"
99. Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"
100. Gerardo "Rico Suave"  please shoot me if I ever hear this again.

 

Our house - one year later

Today marks one solid year since we purchased our home. Only 29 more years until it's all ours!

A year ago the room where I'm sitting belonged to somone else, peeling paint, water damaged walls, cloth wire light fixture and all.

Hard to believe it's been a year, and harder to believe it's the same house. That 2006 version feels more and more like we imagined it all - in which case we have some pretty masochistic fantasies.

One thing I'm not too fond of as a homeowner is snow shoveling. Milwaukee has been  buried under snow and ice all month, two feet plus if memory serves, and in response I duly say: Global Warming my A**.

All those years I whined about having to park on the street I never took into account that the city doesn't plow alleys. So now I have off-street parking but not a day goes by without my little car getting stuck, and more than once I've helped a neigbor push through a snow drift or an ice pack.

Ice dams have become a genuine concern around the city and no more so than at my house. One of two items we didn't have money to fix around here was the roof, an ancient affair with more than 5 layers of shingles.. Yikes.

I spent some time all week throwing ice chunks at 4 and 5 foot long icecles hanging from the south side of the house before they took my gutters down with their sheer weight.

Of course, as I write this the city is gripped in a balmy fog and much of the accumulation has turned to water - the alley has a twenty foot long puddle a good 6 inches deep - but the news says we have 2 or 3 inches on the way overnight.

Yeah. Again folks - global warming my A**.

My Christmas List

I have been asked, believe it or not, to provide more ideas for Christmas gifts for myself. I believe this to be nothing more than a cruel hoax designed to get my hopes up, but here goes:

Not gonna happen:

A nice MP3 player

Guitar

powerful Electric Drill (ala Milwaukee or Dewalt brand)

400 DVD player

Possible gifts:

Into the Wild Soundtrack by Eddie Vedder. 102.1 here in Milwaukee is playing one of the songs from this album and it's great. I'd love to hear the rest.

Pearl Jam's Rear View Window  - a retrospective that'll allow me to catch up on the band

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Blake's 7 Afterlife (book)

Brain Games - handheld video game

Dominoes

Slippers

white over-the-calf socks with Hanes written on 'em so I can match them better :)

Nirvana's Unplugged DVD

someone could pay off my fines to the facist library system

Check back later - there's gotta be something else my greedy mind would like, no?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pics of LK

Here's some pics of Lauren. I've grown unexpectedly fond of the girl, certainly more than any of the babies since YaYa. I'm spending more time with her than I did the others - remember I worked 3rd shift for her siblings 1st years - and I'm just darn smitten with her, and her smile.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Two Rants - Jamie Lynn Spears and US Cellular

You know one thing I hate about AOL? The news on both the welcome page and aol.com is sooo outdated. I read about something Monday and find it on AOL on Wednesday, usually under some idiotic link in the form of a question that presumes you're going to be shocked and awed by the news. . . the very OLD news.

Someday soon AOL might get around to breaking the news that Truman beat Dewey.

Anyhow, I knew about the Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy very early yesterday morning. Spears, the 16 year old sister of Britney and star of a Nickelodeon show "Zoey 101", is more than 12 weeks pregnant.

I have 4 kids, including 3 daughters,so I'm not going to judge too harshly while I knock on wood. Mind you, knowing their parent's sex drive, I've often said the minute they have their period the girls are going on the shot. Heck, I'd put Smiley on the shot if there was a male equivalent.

I don't want any grandbabies out of wedlock.

That being said, mistakes happen. Hard to believe in an age where condoms are cool and 8 dozen different methods of birth control are available, but then again some folks electrocute themselves watching TV in the bathtub.

So no, I'm not going to blast her or her family. And the 'redneck wh*re' comments that follow some news articles are living proof that allowing the public to instantly respond to hard news stories (see CNN.com) is idiotic.

But . . to quote the article:

"It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected," she said. "I was in complete and total shock and so was he."

This isn't The Blue Lagoon. She didn't grow up on a desert island without adults or the media. Presuming she isn't an utter and complete moron she is at least vaguely aware of how babies are made.

So all well and good that you decided to keep the baby even at the cost of your fledgling acting career. I admire your pluck. But don't sell me that crock of sh** explanation.

Let me be both blunt and crass, so anyone with sensitive ears walk away:

Jamie: : You [bleep]ed a guy without a rubber, he left a [bleep] behind and you got pregnant.

If you are going to face the music, might as well admit you helped pick the song.

But seriously, good luck and God bless to her. I hope they wind up happy and well adjusted.

*************    ************

While I'm on a roll, let me say I'm disgusted by the current U.S. Cellular commercial.

In it a woman explains that her Dad is illiterate and that she worried about him when she went to college. Thank heavens for U.S. Cellular tho', because the helpful staff at their store is willing to read him his mail whenever he wants. 

It's almost beyond words. I want to vomit. I want to boycott them. I want to curse the ad agency who wrote it and the schmucks who signed off on it.

It is 2007. LEARN TO READ YOU BLEEPING BLEEP. And yes, some people fall behind and skate by in school and wind up screwed and illeterate as adults. In fact I know a man my father's age who is illiterate

.Tough s**t.

If it's a matter of pride, what's worse - having your daughter read you your mail or asking a tutor for help? What's worse - admitting you can't read or not being able to follow a menu? What's a better way to spend your time - watching the NFL network or trying to improve yourself?

Spare me.

Barring severe learning problems - no, even with them, although with more empathy - there is no excuse not to learn to read sometime in your life.

And shame on U.S. Cellular for pretending it's OK.

Maybe this civilization is on the way out after all.

 

Pay a Visit. . .

Folks, I honestly suck at leaving/writing comments. It just doesn't come naturally to me. So I'm asking anyone out there to please stop by the journal of Slapinons regular psychfun. She was in an SUV rollover, although thankfully not hurt too bad.

Wish her the best and say a prayer for her (both of thanks for getting out alive and of hope there's no lingering effects). .

 

Santa and our 1st Ever Real Tree

We just passed the 50% return rate on our Christmas Cards - 55 out (a short list this year) and 30 in.

[In '04 I wrote about our love of Christmas cards. This post prompted a hissy from a co-worker who found my practice objectionable. I really have no point behind bringing this up, other than to link to the post, so let's move on.]

* * * * *

We once again attended my life insurance companies' Breakfast w/ Santa, which has deteriorated from a catered pancake breakfast with wrapped gifts for the kids to a homemade breakfast, to Pizza w/ Santa, to the current 'Decorate Cookies with Santa' and unwrapped gifts.

I fear the tradition's time is short.

Here's a link to last year's post. This year the kids came straight from Grandma's so no one was dressed to the nines.

But, this year's gig turned out to be more fun for the kids than expected.

These are the first ever pics of the Slapinions 4 with Santa, and to date the latest.

By the gift room there was a photo collage of the company's history (my Great-Grandfather was around for the founding, and my paternal Grandmother was Women's President). Here's a photo of them, my Grandparents being 3rd and 4th from the left.  [happy Katie? lol]

the kids colored in Catholic/Polish coloring books that were provided.

Smiley got a Barrel of Monkeys

LuLu got a mini Cabbage Patch doll

and YaYa got a Pretty Pretty Princess game.

Lauren was shafted. 90 years of involvement in the company and they wouldn't take my word on the fact that a policy was on the way for her. They aren't very friendly to me and my family, although my section of the clan hasn't done anything to them.

I was in a bit of a foul mood afterwards but quickly cheered up when we decided to get my FIRST EVER real Christmas tree. The kids were against it, quoting my Mom's anti-real tree propaganda (We'll get Ants!) but the experience of choosing the tree changed their minds.

Cost us $31, but the experience was worth it.

We took it home and put it in a chrome tree stand my wife's maternal Grandfather had used. So both our tree stands - one for real, one for artificial - both came from our respective grandparents.

Here's an early shot of the tree, with some decorations (not all). Watering it is a pain, and the pine smell is not nearly as intense as I thought it'd be, but it is still looking sharp and beautiful.

LOL, actually the pic looked a whole lot better on the camera. It must have been taken very early in the process, before things were straigtened, primped, etc. Trust me - it's an attractive tree.

Not sure what way we'll go in the future, but I'm glad our first Christmas in this house features my first ever real tree.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brian Westbrook

I can't think of another place to include this, so I'll post it on it's own.

In Sunday's Dallas-Philly game I saw a wonderful play.

With just over two minutes remaining and the Eagles clinging to a small lead, Philly's Brian Westbrook took the handoff and somehow found a clear path to the end zone without a defender in sight.

What he did next promted this post.

He could have walked the ball into the endzone. It would have put the Eagles up by two scores with as many minutes remaining. It would have padded out Westbrook's stats. It would have been one more statistical marker to flaunt at his next contract negotiation.

Instead, he paused.

He knew that it was unlikely Dallas would mount a comeback if he scored. But the chance remained that a quick score, a successful onside kick, or any combination of fate could hand the victory away.

He knew that he had just given the Eagles a first down. He knew Dallas had blown their last time out and could not stop the clock. If he somehow failed to score they could run out the clock without ever moving the ball or giving Dallas a chance to retaliate.

He chose to kneel inside the one yard line.

Philly ran out the clock and earned the victory, and the cold hard line of the box score will forever show that the Eagles running back failed to score.

But with that play Brian Westbrook forever earned my respect.

Apologies

Ouch. Well today I started to melt down at my Mother-In-Law's annual Xmas party as my anxiety snuck up and bit me in the as*.

I really, really hate it sometimes when the kids are in crowds (or areas where crowds traditionally are, such as today's nearly empty Chuck E Cheese's.)

It's crazy, so don't bother telling me what I already know. Just writing this is sending my chest into butterfly mode.

So to anyone who noticed my clenched jaw or wondered why I looked so insanely tense, or overheard the well-warranted scolding my actions brought from my wife, sorry.

All in all it was a very nice party. Really!

Yeah, this one's about Steroids in Baseball

Believe or not some people have actually asked for my take on the Mitchell Report, the 409 page evaluation of steroid use in Major League Baseball that was released last Thursday.

I suppose it’s a bit of a shock that I haven’t vented on the subject already. After all, as far back as 2004 I ranted about steroids in the game.

But now? Hey, a freshman who read my piece when it was posted would be set to graduate at the end of this school year, so I’m leaning a bit towards ‘too little too late”.

C’mon - Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron and THEN MLB comes out with a report labeling him a user? What’s the point? Where was this report in spring?

Part of me thinks MLB should have just shut up, swallowed the steroid era whole, secretly doubled its testing efforts and penalties, and skipped merrily on its way.

To me, the Mitchell Report is one quarter irrelevant, one quarter ill-timed, and in it’s entirety, a damning indictment of an era..

Oh, people moan and groan about it all the same.

The report lacks factual evidence [there’s cancelled checks people], it relies in part on the word of drug dealers [uh, it’s a report on drugs. Who else would supply information, your fourth grade teacher?], it fails to identify users supplied by different sources [sorry Mitchell wasn’t omnipotent], it confirms what we suspected and includes nothing new [you’d prefer he lied to spice it up?].

Whatever. Folks on both extremes, as usual, will find no solace in anything remotely centrist. Mitchell comes off as neither a headhunter or an apologist, and lacking any personal knowledge of the investigation I’d say he did a fine job.

The report condemns the last ten years as a bonafide Steroid Era. Arguably the best hitter (Bonds) and pitcher (Clemens) of the day are outed, as are more than 80 other players. No doubt there were additional guilty parties who escaped unnamed.

Do the number of players involved exonerate Bonds of any shame? Nope. It makes him less of a pariah and more of a face in the crowd, but he still allegedly did it didn’t he? He remains the poster boy.

While Clemens remains one of the best pitchers ever (he makes my all-time starting rotation) you have to think twice about what he accomplished in the last ten years. Not all of it - no more than you can dismiss all of Bonds’ prowess - but there is a shadow over his record.

[In truth, some of the text on Clemens bothered me the most. The steroid party with guys injecting each other in the buttocks . . I’m sorry, exactly how was this ever perceived as ‘normal’ or acceptable, especially in such an overtly macho profession?]

Nor am I surprised that so many marginal players were involved. It only makes sense - the people tempted the most would be those fighting for a paycheck, be they older, injured players or youngsters on the cusp. To me, this makes the use of PED’s among the elite all the more mind-boggling.

Here are my suggestions for dealing with this mess.

One, increase testing and penalties for PED use.

Two, leave all the records and awards alone. You’ll never know everyone that was on the juice, or when. Look at it with regret and move on.

Three, forgive those named in the report and end the hunt for past users. No constructive purpose can be served by a witch hunt, and from now on that’s all the search would become.

The Hall of Fame voters can make up there own mind. I don’t think you can keep an entire generation out of Cooperstown (and I’m a ‘small Hall’ guy) but it might happen. In all honesty I can’t picture a future where baseball fans don’t find Clemens and Bonds in the Hall, although a polite 10 year wait for admission might drive home a point.

I wrote about this four years ago, and I’m writing about it now. I’d be swell if I didn’t have to address it again four years down the road.

Let’s fix this thing and move on.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Comments from non AOL users

A few years back I was fed up with the difficulty non-AOL users had in commenting on my journal, so I added a link on each entry to an off-site guestbook that doubled as a comments page.

I've long since given up on it, in part because the circle of frequent commentors has become smaller and smaller.

Tonight I stumbled on this comment by AOL in the Magic Smoke Journal - I guess you don't have to sign up for AOL or AIM to comment nowadays:

Just to set the record straight, you are no longer restricted to AIM or AOL screen names. You can use your email address as your screen name. So, for instance if your email address is krissy@yahoo.com, you can use that as your AIM screen name.

You can see that option on the sign-in page where it says "Screen Name or E-mail" and also when you go to get an Account.

Another user authentication system that is garnering attention is OpenID. With this you can use your blog url as your ID and sign in to any of the sites that support OpenID.  AOL supports OpenID, but the experience is less than optimal right now. Hence we have not implemented it on Journals. But it is something that we will addressing down the road.

Times change, things improve . . anyhow, I found it interesting.

All-Star Squadron Annual, 1984


The comic book above - the 1984 'annual' for the All-Star squadron  -was one of my favorite's as a kid. I loved the series, with it's mix of 1940's nostalgia and Golden Age superheroes, and I especially loved this issue as it tapped into my love of history.

The members of the All-Star Squadron fan out across time to prevent the murder of seemingly insignificant people. In reality the intended victims are future Presidents of the US, all the way through Reagan, tho' the Squadron never learns of the fact (it is revealed to us by way of a series of news clippings on the then-current whereabouts of Nixon, Carter, etc)

Green Lantern fails in his quest and a boy - and now unknown would-be President - is killed.

I read and re-read this issue until long after the cover fell off, and I was a kid that treated his comics with care.

Should I ever find the $, it'd be nice to gather a complete collection of this series. I'd certainly enjoy reading them again.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Four Generations of Husbands and Wives

My Great-Grandparents . . I believe my maternal grandma's parents.

My maternal grandparents.

My folks

And us . . note the clean-shaven look mandated by my bride, and the carnival glasses.

YaYa In Utero

Here's YaYa in-utero on Oct 16th of 2001

 

Some fave pics of YaYa from 2001

Here's the shot we used for the birth announcements/christening invites. I think I took this around Halloween. I remember watching the '01 Series, a horrible movie about the moon landing (The Dish?) and hearing Britney Spear's "Slave" that week.

Here's a bath from Nov 1st of 2001.

Here's some birth photos

And my absolute favorite pic of her. My only regret is that it was taken a little off-kilter, because I truly adore it. Taken on or around Nov 5th of 2001

Here's a pic from her Christening Day. Fr. Yaniak, who I euologized on this blog a few years ago came out of retirement to do the ceremony. He was so happy to do it.We were his last marriage ceremony and his last baptism. He commented to the family that it was his custom to say to the parent's 'same time next year' but that he doubted he'd have the chance. He was right. I still miss the guy.

YaYa in her Nana's arms, with Aunt Mabel in the background

and in her Godfather Tre's care

 

For those still protesting Lauren's earrings . .

Here's a pic of YaYa with her set a mere two months after birth, near Xmas of 2001.

Doesn't seem too upset, does she?

YaYa - Easter of 2002

I've now decided to add yet another burden to my world and dedicate part of this blog to occasionally recreating the 9 years with my wife/3 years with the kids prior to Slapinions founding.

I doubt it will come to much, but I'll make the occasional effort.

Here are some pics of YaYa circa Easter of 2002, when she was roughly six months old.

If I remember correctly (and Lisa, feel free to update in the comments if I'm wrong) these were taken at the Picture People at Mayfair. We strongly expressed our confidence in YaYa NOT peeing for the middle shot (which was sans diaper) but of course she went ahead and leaked up a storm!

You know, she looks a lot like Lauren . . .