Monday, March 31, 2008

Baseball Season is Here!

                                      

The Major League Baseball season starts today for the Brewers, with my home team taking on the Cubs at 1:30 down in Chicago.

 

{hey Psychfun – here’s to 100 golden years and many, many more to come!} 

 

I just can’t get into it this year. I’m trying, I’m trying. I bought a fantasy baseball guide but never opened it, I thought about renewing my XM subscription but didn’t – hell, I didn’t even know it was Opening Day until a co-worker whined about her husband taking a vacation day for the event.

 

Two Red Sox championships in four years did a lot of damage to my soul. The @$*7& Cubs taking the division in ’07 didn’t help. The Yankees post-season woes continue to dishearten me. And the Brewers epic collapse last year – while predictable – was another nail in the coffin.

 

Have steroids dampened my interest too? Heck no. It was all fun and games when Barry Bonds was the sole target, but now that there’s accusations to go around I find steroids a non-issue. I mean, does it really matter? There’s white guys being accused for pete’s sake!

 

That’s sarcasm, by the way. Save the angry letters for another day.

 

I can’t let this continue. I love baseball. I wrote my senior thesis about it. Someday I might get around to finishing my book about the subject. I collect baseball instruction manuals. I own an Arod jersey two sizes too small and I still proudly wear it, rolls and all.  I angrily rebuked Lisa during YaYa’s labor in 2001 because the Yankee’s were on TV.

 

Seriously. I did. In the delivery room.

 

This apathy cannot stand.

 

So I asked my Dad if he wanted to join a fantasy league. Already in one, he said. Why didn’t you invite me? I asked. Didn’t think of it, he says.

 

He doesn’t have to like me, but he should at least do a better job of pretending.

 

I should venture over to Baseball Think Factory, ignore the snarky anti-Bush/anti-Dusty Baker/anti-Jim Rice/ anti-everything comments and bask in the great content.

 

I should find a fantasy league of my own on Yahoo and sign up for a quick, computer run draft.

 

I should bite the bullet, suck up the XM fees, and renew my radio.

 

I should overcome my aversion to going to the ballpark (a newfound dislike, barely a year old) and go out and see a game.

 

I should think about hopping out to New York to visit Yankee Stadium in this, its last year before it closes.

 

I shoulda/woulda/coulda.

 

Or I could ignore all that and just go on with the busy and contended life that I’ve led for the duration of the off-season and pretend it’s still the dead of winter.

 

Hmm.

 

Whining me damned, I’m sure I’ll be angering Lisa by watching game after game on the TV before October is over. It’ll just come naturally, even if there’s nothing else to recommend the season to me.

 

Nothing else at all.

 

Certainly not a big screen TV.

 

A big screen TV in my living room.

 

A big screen TV in my living room across from my couch.

 

A big screen TV in my living room across from my couch with HD.

 

A big screen TV in my living room across from my couch with HD and 500 channels to choose from, many broadcasting games from different time zones so you can finish one game from Atlanta, bump over to the end of a contest in Chicago, and then wrap it up with a game from Seattle.

 

Yeah, it’s gonna be a good year.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A conversation with a neighbor

The baby was up a lot last night, but at least she finally seems to have kicked the flu.

* * *

I mentioned yesterday that someone was knocking on my front door. Well, one visit was my mother-in-law, another was a neighbor.

After some hiccups last spring when we moved in (we were reported to the city for a parking violation and for running a 'day care' - sorry for breeding but it isn't a daycare, they're all mine) we've become friendly with quite a few folks on the block.

The family to our north has shoveled my walk and I've returned the favor, the guy two doors down has visited and given the kids some DVD's ('DVD Guy!' they call him), and I'm on conversational terms with some houses across the alley.

The guy to the south is still the guy to the south, but not wanting to be my buddy isn't a sin. At least not in this state.

[irrelevant aside: DVD guy has a bad habit of knocking whenever I'm sans shirt, man boobs visible to the world.  To point out how much this bothers me Lisa often says, half seriously, that she's confident I'm not having an affair because it would tend to include taking my shirt off in front of someone new.]

Anyhow, while selling Girl Scout cookies with YaYa Lisa meets some old guy down the street and winds up sitting in his kitchen talking to him for half an hour.

It turns out he knew my Great-grandparents (the prior owners of our house) and much of my family, including my maternal grandfather.

In 2002, for my Grandmother's 79th birthday,  I wrote a book about that Grandfather entitled Little Grandpa. I self published a few copies at a local print shop and submitted it to a few places. Rejections across the board, although one editor was kind enough to include a note saying it had potential but didn't meet their needs.

And so it stood for six years.

Back to the present. Lisa dispatches YaYa home for my copy of the book, no questions asked. She then borrows the guy my book, not realizing it is the only remaining copy I have my hands on, and that the digital files were corrupted in the intervening years.

I was . . . annoyed.

But true to her prediction he returned it and was one of the visitors yesterday. We went to his house and talked for awhile in his kitchen.

"So what did you think of the book?" Lisa said.

"To be honest, it's full of inconsistencies," he says.

Well. Okay then.

Apparently he was friends with my Grandfather's stepbrother and was bothered by his absence in the book, and some factual errors about who lived where in the city and who married when, etc.

"Well, he says right at the start that it's the remembrances of a 9 year old boy. It was never intended as a history book," Lisa said.

"Sure, sure," he says.

Ok, enough sour grapes. Whatever my opinion of his review, he was still a friend to a hero of mine, a hero I last saw in 1983.

Turns out they were both lathers and worked for my Great-Grandfather Iggy. They'd meet him on 13th and Lincoln each morning to get their assignments, often accompanied by their daily pay in a cash envelope. They'd take turns driving to the job site.

Considered the equivalent of the starting lineup, my Grandpa and my neighbor would often start an empty room and put up the ceiling and top layer of the walls.

He was quick to point out that my grandpa was a friendly and well-liked man, right in line with my memories, but also quick to say that he wouldn't 'take guff from anyone' and had a mouth when need be.

Most of the time I remember him bowing to my Grandmother's wishes, but come to think of it some kids once tossed a brick at his car and danged if he didn't u-bang and go after them, arthritis or no arthritis.

He also said Iggy was a fair and well-liked man. That's good to hear. I don't hear much about my Great-Grandfather.

So I suppose I'll go visit the neighbor again, this time with recorder in hand, and maybe fix some of those 'inconsistencies'.

* * * *

Lacking a better place to put it, if you are in Milwaukee and a Time Warner customer, channel 201 is a great nostaligic station, playing endless old TV shows interrupted only by commercials of the era.

May I say two things: One, The Mary Tyler Moore Show still holds up as a well-written and funny sitcom nearly forty years later (but c'mon - Murray wasn't gay?) and two, in her previous stint in The Dick Van Dyke Show . . well, thank God for capris. No wonder she was popular. ;)

Oh, and #532 is non-stop PBS Kids. Smiley loves it.

 

Hello to Kazakhstan

Hi,

I wanted to ask whoever is routinely visiting this site from Kazakstan if they could please email me at slapinions@aol.com.

Sitemeter has recorded at least two seperate visits from that country in the last few days:

ISP Kazakhtelecom Data Network Administration
Location 
Continent : Asia
Country : Kazakhstan  (Facts)
State/Region : Qostanay
City : Qostanay
Lat/Long : 53.1667, 63.5833 (Map)

I haven't used any BlogExplosion credits in that time, so I'm just curious who you are, what brought you to Slapinions, and how you like the site.

Oh, and thanks for visiting!

* * *

If you think SiteMeter is intrusive, I don't intend it to be so. You can get halfway detailed info if you want (I once tested it out and could tell when my friend in Alaska visited via his work or home computer) but again, that was a test and I pulled the Kazakstan info because it was so unique.

99.999% of the time I'll venture on just to glance at the visitor count and world map.

I love seeing my English readers on the map! Hello all!

Zach and Cody, Credit Scores, Photobucket, and some groovy mind trips

We got our credit scores today. Since the purchase of our house my score's jumped a whopping 50-70 points depending on the agency, while Lisa (who's score was well ahead of mine) had a more modest 20 point jump.

That's good news, and a VERY pleasant surprise. Prior to the house purchase we were mainly a 'cash' paying family with no revolving debt. I assume that's the reason for the big increase in our score.

Why, it almost feels like we're grown-ups now.

* * * *

Sad news to report: Disney is pulling the plug on The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.

 

Disney has a habit of canceling sitcoms whenever they reach the 65 episode benchmark, but Suite Life proved so popular it will end with 88 under their belt. A Slapinions family favorite, I've long argued that it was a good enough show, with some tweaking, to have held its own on the networks.

Plus Lisa loves the Mom's hair:

Disney does some fine sitcoms. Besides Suite Life, Hannah Montana, Phil of theFuture, and That's So Raven were/are fine shows. Wizards of Waverly Place is growing on me, desite being a Harry Potter knock-off, largely because the two oldest kids are fine actors.

Cory in the House is an embarrassment and should never EVER have been greenlighted.

Good news tho': a spinoff entitled SuiteLife on Deck, set aboard a cruise ship, is in pre-production.

* * *

Here's a disturbing fact about Phill Lewis, who plays manager Marion Moesby on Suite Life.  In the early '90's he was convicted of manslaughter for killing a woman in an automobile accident while intoxicated. Sentenced to 5 years in prison, he served one before his release.

Assuming he learned his lesson and is leading a good life, I wish this father of two continued success.

* * * *

Typing on this yogurt damaged keyboard is HELLISH. Z, Y, space, B, and T stick one time out of four.

Ugh.

* * *

Did you ever look at a baby and notice her instantly and nonsensically become ecstatic at the sight of you? 

 Did you ever wonder right then, with a little bit of fright and awe, if  100 years from now her spirit didn't let go and slip back to inhabit that moment?

As if perhaps her last desire on earth was, just for a moment, to slip back to a time in the beginning when just being was enough to make her happy, when the ordinary sight of a (to her) long deceased parent was a thing to celebrate?

Yeah, probably not.

* * *

Very few things make me as instantly happy as popping in a copy of Pearl Jam's Ten.

Nevermind that  wasn't the best album of the genre, or that PJ would go on to make better songs (but not a better album, imho). It was this cassette that my friend Atta gave me in high school as an introduction to 'modern' rock, and I was instantly and permanently hooked.

Today I played it in an otherwise quiet house once the kids were asleep.

The album instantly took me to dark and moonless night in the mountains of Tennessee. The only light inside the car was from illumination on the radio, relentlessly noting the time as each song played. A mist covered the road before me and swallowed my headlights, and the wind from the slightly open driver's window chilled my shoulder. Lisa lay asleep in the passenger seat, her face towards me and her mouth open just a crack, her hands beneath her cheek like a child who fell asleep mid-prayer.

It was as clear as if I was living it in the present.

* * *

For those of you wondering, none of this post was written while drunk or high. I do plead guilty to being in a weird, tired, funky place, but no more.

* * *

Photobucket rocks. Kudos to Ronnie aka Veronica for suggesting it. No more 20 minute waits for AOL to upload a single pic; Photobucket will do half a dozen as fast as AOL does one, and you can automatically set it to upload to a specific size, such as one perfect for an AOL Journal.

Plus it has storage and sharing options galore, and free editing software.

If you journal or just enjoy digital picture taking, please check it out.

You won't be sorry.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Things aren't perfect

This post is heavily edited for content, as I sagely had the Mrs. preview the piece. Not that any of it was awful, but it was, as Lisa said "more appropriate for our scrapbook' then public consumption.

Lest you need a reminder that things are not always golden in the Slapinions household:

I cannot stand the baby at this moment. While 90% healthy now, she is spoiled from all the attention she received and kept me up most of the night.

Naturally then, my work phone rang non-stop at 8 o'clock  on a Saturday morning. The lousy thing about that Nextel - well, except for being REQUIRED to answer it, which is and always will be the 'worst' thing - is that the voice mail is obnoxious. Get a message and it will alert you, loud and clear, every couple of minutes until Christ himself returns to shut it off.

And then someone was knocking on my front door . . Sigh.

Meanwhile we spent all evening/night/most of the morning with no heat on the ground floor, and it was a pretty cold night too. I assumed the thermostat had gone kablooey, as I couldn't see anything wrong with the furnace. Then I had a sinking suspicion and looked at the 'on/off light-switch'  breaker on the side of the furnace. The switch was shiny and new.

That furnace is older than me. Nothing on me is shiny and new anymore, much less something on a device that spends its time in the basement. Sure enough, one of the kids (Smiley????!!!!) had flipped it off. A second later we had heat again.

&^&^%$#

I had managed to farm off the two oldest late Friday eveinng, for all the good that did me. My sister Katie helped them pack their things, and I went upstairs to find her stuffing a comforter set into a plastic bag.

"What the hell are you doing?" I said.

"Packing YaYa's sleeping bag," she said.

"That's not a sleeping bag, that's her whole bedset," I said.

"No it's not, she said that's her sleeping bag"

"I don't care if she said that was a bleeping battleship, have you ever seen a sleeping bag like that? YaYa! Quit messing with your Aunt or you're gonna stay home and go to bed!"

[Just a few hours before she had watched me pick carefully through our full garbage can looking for a $10 bill I'd lost; sure enough I found it.

Kiddingly I roared to her "Did you throw this away?"

She looked at me with distaste. It should be noted that YaYa has a reputation as . . well, part Scrooge when it comes to money.

"Dad, the day I ever throw away money is the day the cats fly"]

She also thought to 'treat' us to a 'snack' of pretzels that she dipped in yogurt and left out to dry. I tried them, and they weren't all that bad. "Oh good," she said. "I was worried. I guess I'll try one now"

Later she also admitted to spilling yogurt all over this keyboard, which was SO much fun to clean up and just VASTLY improved typing. Why, it's like a game - how many stuck keys can you find in a given sentence?

* * *

Oh, btw I just discovered we're out of toilet paper; guess how I know?????

* * *

I have to go, the baby's bawling. &*(&@#

 

The World's Oldest Recorded Human Voice

I'm eager to share the exciting story I read today, but at the same time I want to clarify a few points. I really think the reporters relied too heavily on the press release for the story at the expense of a very important bit of information.

Scientists today released a brief 1860 recording of a woman singing "Au Clair de la Lune". If true, this would predate Edison's recording of a human voice by more than 17 years, placing this as the oldest known recording of a human voice.

It was 'recorded' by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, a French inventor who used a device called a phonautograph. It used a hog's bristle to etch a line representing a sound on a piece of paper that had been darkened by lamp soot.

These papers lay forgotten in the French patent office for a century and a half before being discovered and then played with the help of computers

Click on the picture of the phonautograph to hear the recording. If it doesn't work, click here.

What I find mildly deceptive about the reporting (and don't get me wrong, I think it is a crime of laziness or omission, without wrongful intent) is that  the hoopla to cast aside Edison as the 'inventor' of recorded speech ignores an important fact:

The phonautograph was never intended to record sound and play it back. It was designed and used to visually record a sound, to create a record of its existence. It took the knowledge of modern audio historians to realize the implications and create a means of listening to the record.

To me it's like designing the first alphabet, putting together words,  then merrily filing the effort away without ever once stumbling across the fact that you just invented the written language.

Much of the glory is in the practical application of an idea, is it not?

The 1860 recording is impressive, to be sure, and fascinating to a stunning degree, but it was not a prototype of a CD player that was pushed aside in the history books by the conniving Thomas Alva Edison.

Even so, to Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, wherever you are: congratulations, and well done; you are remembered.

And that is the greatest reward of all.

The Final 2008 Easter Post (Yay!)

 

This is the last Easter post for 2008, I promise.

Anyhow, we went overboard on the baskets because Lisa actually prefers Easter to Christmas and this year she had money of her own to toss in the mix.

Each kid got one 'big' gift, and their standard basket (which also included a smaller ~$5 gift). YaYa's gift was a set of doll clothes for her (generic) American Doll and a Littlest Pet Shop toy, while LuLu was given a Puppies in Your Pocket set and a Lilly (of Hannah Montana) doll and Smiley received a Knight in Armor play clothes set. All the kids also received a character beach towel.

Oh, the baskets also contained matching Easter outfits from my folks.

Here's Lu's:.

YaYa's:

Smiley's:

and the Baby's:

Three things: One, LuLu originally balked at another year with the Frog basket, saying it was a 'boy' thing, but upon review it is very feminine. I also axed plans to get the kids character baskets as I like the tradition of using the same ones each year.

Two: The kids each got a big chocolate bunny that, somewhat playfully represented them. Smiley had one with a school backpack, LuLu had one with big feet, YaYa one called 'too tall'. Uh-uh - save your scolding for the Mrs. It was her idea.

Three: YaYa no longer believes in the Easter bunny. After nearly choking on her owngiggles when talking about the Bunny with us, Lisa busted out and told her the truth flat-out. I'm sure she knew already, but it 'twas a milestone, it was.

While I thought it odd timing, their cousin and friends stayed overnight into Easter morning (thus explaining them in these shots).

You won't see much of Lu either, as she woke up ill with the baby's flu and wasn't up to celebrating.

That's edible Easter grass, btw.

I was stuck working while Lisa took the kids to an Easter breakfast with her Mom at a restaurant.

Later, I took YaYa and Smiley to my parent's house for dinner, as Lisa stayed behind with the sick baby and the (by now) completely ill LuLu.

YaYa and cousins in their outfits:

YaYa with her doll, which she took to my Mom's.

And last but not least, Smiley, who as always had such elegant manners . . :)

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Easter Egg Dyeing 2008

                                            

Trust me, you're no sicker of Easter posts than I am. This one and one more; after that I'm done. I promise. If this doesn't apply to you, feel free to check out the 2007 post from a few days ago, or the 2006 post here.

This years Egg Dyeing was canceled on Good Friday because of the baby's illness and the blizzard that came with it. It was hurriedly rescheduled for the next day, but Lisa couldn't wiggle out of work so I ran the show alone (although Lisa's friend Chris stayed to watch the Baby).

All the usual suspects were there, minus my nephew and my oldest niece.

Ugh. Smiley and his di-di (pacifier). Gotta break him of that soon, but since he doesn't talk he seems so much younger than he is. Still, he usually only uses it to fall asleep and then drops it behind his bed. Not sure why he grabbed it here; maybe he sensed a chance to embarrass his folks online :)

 

DSCF1424.jpg picture by slapinions

We did a lot more eggs than usual, as I brought home 5 dozen to dye for work. Still, it was much more chaotic, disorganized, and not nearly as artistic an endeavor as when Lisa runs the show.

For instance, I started the kids out in their everyday clothes.

Before making them put on play clothes.

Here's the baby silently watching the festivities from a distance. Note the IV bandages still in place.

Here's smiley, being a boy

It may not have gone perfectly, but at least our tradition was kept going.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fay Wray, Richard Widmark, a hot Angelina Jolie, the Zodiac Killer, DB Cooper, and Egg McMuffins

I'm just going to point out that I've created this post three times now, and AOL has 'errored' out and lost it twice. Buggers. I"m not even going to *try* and incorporate links throughout this time; you'll have to look it up yourself.

Last night I watched The Most Dangerous Game, a 1932 movie with Fay Wray that tells the story of Count Zarkoff, a madman who hunts humans for sport on his private island.

Very well done for a film made during the Hoover administration, even if the acting was stilted at times. Some trivia: Fay Wray did this film during the day and then left to do King Kong at night.

I was a bit freaked out watching the film, as I know the Zodiac killer was a fan of the movie, referencing it in his taunting letters to the San Francisco press and basing his costume on Zarkoff.

To imagine that madman watching the screen with a glimmer of excitement in his eyes . . it gave me chills.

Maybe he should have paid better attention to one of Zarkoff's lines in the film: "You don't hunt the female of the species".

In news of other, less violent criminals, it was announced that some kids may have found DB Coopers long-buried parachute.

Cooper, you'll recall, is the alias for the man who hijacked an American Airlines jet in the '70's, collected the ransom, and then brazenly parachuted into oblivion from the back of the plane.

My opinion? In a few days they'll have a small print article in the back of the paper calling this a false alarm.

If DB is alive, and has managed to keep quiet and out of trouble all these years, then clap him on the back, say 'heckuva story' and move on.

* * *

The inventor of the Egg McMuffin, Herb Peterson, died yesterday. To my recollection I've never had one of his creations.

* * *

The whole Hillary lied story? A weak but effective means of diverting attention away from Wright's hate speech.

* * *

Can we please fire the genealogists, journalists, and editors who feel compelled to give us election year stories about what famous person is related to each candidate? This year, Brad Pitt is reported to be related to Obama and Angelina Jolie to Clinton, or vice versa.

How convenient.

Why is it famous people are only related to other famous people? No one is the great-granddaughter of a fat, ugly pickpocket with eczema, ED, and a stray sixth toe? No one?

* * * *

More snow expected today, and I'm rooting for it. We're so close to the all-time Milwaukee record it'd be a shame to take silver this season.

* * * *

Richard Widmark, an actor I enjoyed a lot on American Movie Classics as a kid, passed away yesterday. Best known for laughing as he pushed an old lady down a flight of stairs while tied to a wheelchair (and earning an Oscar nod for it), Widmark had a great career that spanned decades.

DesLily did a much better write up on Here, There, and Everywhere. Kindly check it out.

RIP Mr. Widmark.

* * * *

The first two versions of this post were better, but whatever. I saw a post about Google Docs on Nutwood Junction. Maybe I'll try that.

Working in AOL isn't doing the trick, and moving text from Office always leads to stray code and 'smushed' text.

BTW, I'm fully aware that an editor would be grand . . I'm always re-reading a post and noticing a wrong word here, an awkward phrase there. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Buddies - 2007 Version

That long winded 2007 Easter weekend also features some great pics of the kids posing with friends, and I think I'll post them here for posterity.

Here's Lu with her cousin:

Lisa's longtime friend Chris and her (then) new baby:

Chris' oldest with Smiley

and in my basement w/ her own cousin (such love from him, eh?)

Here's Chris' oldest with my niece. Apparently they are demonstrating the proper way to use invisible scissors.

Here's YaYa and my godchild/her cousin, taken in YaYa's room

Here's Lu and her cousin. It's a shame about the goofy face, because Lu looks so loving in the photo.

And one of the trios, again with that silly face AND closed eyes. I am not, if you haven't guessed, a fan of that stage where kids refuse to do anything but the silly face, because they think it's 'cool'.