Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

I asked YaYa to check on the progress of a frozen pizza we had in the oven. After much hemming and hawing and one idle threat she got up and went into the kitchen.

"It's done," she called.

Lisa and I were in the living room. "Go check it," I said, a little irritated at YaYa's delay. "She probably never even opened the stove."

A moment later Lisa reported that the pizza was, in fact, perfect and good to go.

"You know what you should do?" Lisa told YaYa tongue-in-cheek, and well within my earshot. "You should march in there and tell your Daddy off for not believing in you."

YaYa hesitated. "Go," Lisa said, laughing. "Tell him off."

YaYa walked into the living room and opened her mouth to speak.

"Daddy," she said. She paused, looking very confused. "Off."

Lost: "Because You Left" Season 5, Ep. 1

Last night I wrote a long and introspective look into the heart of The Dan, one which, I think, was so insightful it would spare me a good year of therapy sessions.

Naturally, I deleted it immediately :)

Instead, at the request of Sarah J I present my thoughts on the season opener of Lost. It is a long standing tradition of mine to review and analyze each episode of the show, but I was forced to DVR last weeks episode and watch it later.

The two of you who care - that would be the before mentioned Sarah J and myself - will have to forgive the delay.

(btw Sarah - register on google and sign up as a 'follower' already. Geesh.)

So, let's start off-island.

Jack's still a recovering, shattered druggie. No change there. But Kate has a lawyer knock on her door and briefly show her what he claims is a court order demanding a blood test to confirm the maternity of her 'son' Aaron. The lawyer will not divulge the name of his client.

Now, to me, this is shady. Shouldn't this guy have approached her through more formal means? Why did Kate immediately buy his story? Even if true, this is the kind of thing that she could drag out in the court system for years. It would have been prudent to attack this head on, even if only prolonging the inevitable. But Kate being Kate, her first instinct was to run for the hills in a haphazard exodus.

So who ordered the test? It could be Ben's group, as it flushed Kate into the open and knocked her off balance, but then why didn't they seize the moment and bring her into the fold? No, my vote remains with Sun, who has now paired up with Charles Widmore and obviously holds a grudge against Kate and Jack for the 'death' of Jin.



[Memo to Sun: yeah, I suppose with some creative thinking you could hold them responsible. But Ben, Widmore, the Others, and, oh, your deceitful adulterous self would hold the most long-range blame for him being there, no?

And for the record: Sun was great for four seasons, but in the bad-girl/vixen role she comes off as so soap-opera it's laughable.

Meanwhile, Sayid has broken Hurley out of the mental hospital. In a wicked and original fight scene Sayid is knocked unconscious by drugs, but not before dispatching two men. Sadly, Hurley is seen with a gun in hand, leading all of greater Los Angeles to believe him a killer.


Hurley retreats to his parent's house and eventually delivers Sayid to Jack's care. Meanwhile Ben shows up to recruit Hurley, but in a burst of independence he runs outside and surrenders to the police to avoid falling into Ben's hands.

Ben is stunned and reports his findings to the White Haired Woman. We know she is connected to Desmond and in this episode is ID'd as a possible mother for Daniel Farraday. She repeats that he has no choice: bring them all back, or the world is doomed.

Who's stalking Hurley and Sayid? It isn't Ben, not unless he set it up only to have it backfire. Widmore? Possibly.

Oh yeah, f you read between the lines it seems John isn't really dead, or if he is it's only in a Spock at the end of Khan temporary way, so I wouldn't be shocked when he shows up again in the 'present day'.

Speaking of time, it appears the island is sliding back and forth in time, or at least the Losties are. They bounce from the time of the Beechcraft crash to the post-hatch era and back again. I found it all rather ho-hum, save for Ethan's attack on John.


Even that was irrelevant, if not for the fact that it later brings Richard into the frame to fix up John, hint at time travel yet to come, and bring in some much needed comic relief.

"What's this?" John said.

"It's a compass John."

"What's it do?" John said presuming it is of vital magical importance.

"It points north John," Richard replies.

[note: there might be more to this than mere flippancy, as Eko referenced North and it's come into play before. Wait and see]

The Losties eventually come under attack by a very hostile group that kills several people and threatens to torture Juliet. Who the hell are they?

* * * * * *

I wanted to devote a separate post to the whole time travel issue, but I''ll just schlump it down here. Daniel's whole argument that the past cannot be altered, that there are 'rules' against this kind of thing . . .well, it's a sci-fi staple and there's a theoretical academic basis for it. My opinion? It's bullsh**.

Saying there are 'rules' in place to prevent a change in events is preposterous. Time is, if you will, a river. It moves forward constantly, although we always have the right-here as a constant, and someday we might very well learn how to ride against the current and revisit old sights. But the river does not care who was at the wheel while you went 'round the bend two days ago, not whether it was Abe or Jessica or the King of Siam, nor does it care if you travelled its length at all. It just is.

Presuming that there are 'rules' inserts the question of an intelligent force - a creator, or at the very least a 'manager' - into the equation; it presumes that what we do is of soooo very vital importance that the universe itself acts in direct opposition to our actions; and it downright locks down any debate on destiny vs. free will, since we can't do diddly squat without direct permission.

Plus, it is a sci-fi staple and I expect more originality from this show.

That's all folks. Til the next episode, adios.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

LuLu loses her first tooth!

By January 15th LuLu had been complaining that her two (bottom) front teeth had been loose for days. While YaYa had always been eager to yank 'em out when she had a loose one, Lu chose a more sensible path of waiting for it to come naturally. Unfortunately, one of the two was too loose to be kept in use but too attached to come out on its own.

It was time for intervention.

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My dental history reads like a visit to Lawrence Oliver in Marathon Man, and so I leave this tooth business to Lisa.

But LuLu met Lisa's attempts with panic and alarm

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and so I had to step in. Cashing in on my reputation for squeamishness, LuLu firmly believed my claim that I just wanted to 'feel the tooth wiggle'. A few good rocking motions and a little 'oomph' and the tooth came out.

My little girl had lost her first tooth!

You cannot imagine the look of happiness and pride on her face. "I can't believe I did it!" she announced with awe.

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Then, cue YaYa having a crying fit because we were allegedly giving LuLu more attention than we did her first tooth, which is a crock. Her evidence was that she couldn't find a blog post about her own tooth, which may or may not be true; either way tough tata kid, this was your sister's day.

[YaYa would later leave a note on our bed apologizing for her jealousy (her words) and asking our forgiveness. And, oh yeah, by the way can you make me Pop Tarts in the morning?]

For myself, I was stuck running to Target before they closed for the night. The normal Tooth Fairy donation is a buck, but for the first tooth we like to give a few trinkets instead. When YaYa lost her first tooth we were still living in the old, predominantly Mexican neighborhood. When the tooth gave up the ghost - again, near closing time for most stores - I had to run to the local El Rey grocery store and buy some hair doodads and a Virgin Mary necklace to place under her pillow.

LuLu got a [clearance priced] set of lip gloss in a carrying case and a set of two tooth Firefly toothbrushes that light up for a minute so the kid knows how long to brush.

Included with these items was a computer generated note from the Tooth Fairy, duly printed in a pink font.

[LuLu]

Congratulations on losing your very first tooth! I am so happy for you!
Here is a set of lip gloss for you and two very special toothbrushes. They will tell you how long to brush your teeth - I don’t want you to lose the pretty grown-up teeth you’ll be getting now!
I want you to give one of the brushes to your sister [YaYa] because my spies have told me she doesn’t brush enough!

Always watching,


The Tooth Fairy


She loved the gifts. The very next day she lost the other tooth and promptly dropped it in my bedroom, where it was never to be seen again despite an all-out search.
For that one we just left a note explaining the loss to the Tooth Fairy.

Happily, she didn't seem to mind and left behind a dollar for Lu :)

Waiter! There's a fly in my pancakes!

While making breakfast yesterday Lisa opened a 20 oz box of Bisquick pancake batter. The box was new and pristine, and the bag of mix inside was sealed and had no leaks, tears, or holes.

Despite all this, as Lisa was about to open the bag she saw a full grown and very healthy fly merrily making its way among the pancake batter. Remember, this was INSIDE A SEALED BAG.

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Argh, hard to see anything in the last shot, but I believe it's crawling around the top center of the bag in that frame.

No matter, here's a video of the oddity.



Not exactly a finger in your fast-food chili, but it made for swell breakfast conversation all the same.

So did we make the pancakes? Of course - but not with that mix. We went out and bought a local generic brand, made right here in good ol' Wisconsin and not that fly-ridden General Mills factory in Minnesota.

"You should write Bisquick and complain," Lisa said as she made some yummy cranberry flapjacks.

"Darn right," I replied. "Why, we could be hundredaires!"

Seriously though, I am going to write them and complain. Yuck.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lisa and Lu

Lisa and our second-born on Christmas morning.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Notorious BIG: Bigger Than Life



"Poppa been smooth since days of underoos"

I was largely oblivious to the infamous East Coast/West Coast rap feud of the mid '90's, since it didn't seem very relevant to a white guy in Milwaukee. If my allegiance could be determined by record sales, I was pure West Coast. I owned a pair of Tupac CD's, and Dre's Chronic was on frequent rotation on my stereo.

Even so it was hard to escape the influence of East Coast rapper Biggie Smalls, a man widely respected by everyone in the industry, even Tupac. That last one says a lot, since the Biggie/Tupac feud was at the very center of the West/East Coast dispute that eventually led to both of their murders.

Notorious BIG: Bigger than Life is a documentary that traces the life of Biggie - aka Christopher Wallace. It is NOT the current feature film based on his life.

It doesn't focus soley on his music career, interviewing many of his pre-sucess friends and showing home movies of Biggie rapping at a street festival. The movie, which runs two and a half hours, also includes an interview with Biggie filmed shortly before his death, footage of the LA radio interview that may have triggered his murder, tape recordings of death threats, and actual fan video of his murder.

I took two things from the film. First, while his interview was only so-so, his personality as shown in candid moments and the home video revealed a friendly and entertaining man. Second, from all apperances he sought to avoid inciting the coastal feud, ignoring provacations and once talking himself out of a murderous ambush set up by a West Coast rapper. He rapped to escape the streets; it appears he had no intention of using his fame to meet the same predicatble end.

An aquired taste I'm sure, but if you have even a small interest in rap or the pop culture of the '90's, take a look at this documentary. Heck, it made me want to see the major motion picture of Biggie, but I'll wait for the DVD.

2.5 stars.

Here's a sample of Biggie's work, Hypnotize. Warning: sexual content and vulgar language. .

Note: some of the lyrics on the video are wrong. 'Speak my peace" etc is written as 'piece', and I believe 'Air Nike' should be "e'ery night"



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How I spent Inauguration Day 2009

When I was in kindergarten my teacher, Sister Pat, led us into the music room across the hall to watch the Reagan Inauguration. A short time later she announced that the hostages in Iran were free, and made a point of saying it occurred on Reagan's watch.

I don't remember if I knew what any of it meant at the time, but I must have. I look at my girls, who are roughly the same age I was then, and they have depths of understanding that would seem unbelievable to someone who's never had kids. I imagine it was much the same for me back in 1981.

So I'm a little disappointed that neither of my girls were given the opportunity to watch Obama's inauguration (no word yet on whether Smiley's school showed the event). Not that I like the guy or buy his rhetoric - I think that's obvious - but it is history, and a shining example to the world that even after 200 years we still believe in a peaceful transition of power to the opposition.

28 years from now it would've been grand for one or both of them to blog about their memories of today.

[By the way, I received an email asking why I closed comments on the Bush post. It was meant as a . . .heartfelt message more than anything, and if I'd had a way to do it I would have made that entry 'private'. It wasn't intended to spark a debate and so I made sure it didn't. We'll all argue about him another time :)]

As for me, I listened to about five minutes of the speech while on the way to change a flat on my Escort. My wife had loaned the car to her friend Chris, aka She of Negative Car Karma, and in ten minutes time she'd managed to all but shred the right front tire. What's worse the car was parked on a wide swatch of snow and ice, and I foolishly failed to dig out a base for the jack. Result? The jack slipped and the car dropped, ruining the jack.

While I waited by the Escort she took my van to go pick up another jack. She called a few minutes later to say that she couldn't start the van. I told you, cars hate the woman. It turns out she had just locked the wheel and it was a one second fix.

At two I took Lump into the doc for her checkup. She is 33 inches tall and weighs 24 pounds. Those numbers place her in the 90th percentile for height (meaning 90% of girls her age are shorter) and in the 25th percentile in weight (meaning 75% of girls her age are heavier).

In other words, she's tall and skinny.

The doc thinks she has allergies, since her runny nose is perpetual, and gave us a prescription. Other than that, she's perfectly healthy. She didn't cry or even flinch during the *four* shots she got, but bawled and fought over the blood test.

Here's the part I don't like. When I tried to report in the results to Lisa I was told the doctor had already called and told her everything. This is the second time a doc from that office has done this; the first time a Doctor flat out said she didn't trust me to properly relay her findings because she 'knows how men are'.

WTF???

Mind you, this is one of the most respected and learned pediatrician offices in the city. But the reverse-sexism explicit in their calls just galls the hell out of me.

Speaking of doctors I fear I'm going to need one. My sinuses have been clogged for weeks now and now I'm staring to get very minor nosebleeds. It kind of snuck up on me. It took Lisa pointing out the amount of time I've had the problem to realize there was a problem at all.


By the way, Lump's nickname is staying for the time being. The only other option would be the discarded Smiley nickname of 'Maker of Trouble and Mayhem'. She is 100% hell when on the loose in the house, just destroying everything in her path. I took her out of her crib the other day and on the way to the floor as I put her down she grabbed two items off a shelf and threw them across the room. Anything and EVERYTHING she touches is meant to be eaten, thrown, dumped down the stairs, broken, or tipped over. There is not a Cheerio's box in Milwaukee that she hasn't scattered across the floor and I weep for my home when I see her on the prowl.

Tonight it was dance class for the kids and Lisa and wonder of wonders, when we got home the kids made it from the van to the house without tears, screaming, or violence.

It was like winning the lottery.

Thank you Mr. President

"The true history of my administration will be written 50 years from now, and you and I will not be around to see it.”




It was my pleasure, sir, to have campaigned for you twice, to have seen you speak in person as both Governor and President, and to have witnessed your second inauguration.

On behalf of me and my wife, and our children - all four of whom I'm proud to say were born during your administration - may God bless and keep you.

Thank you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

How those Breakfast With Santa Crafts turned out

Oh, you were dying to know weren't ya? Here's some pics from that weekend.

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Even Lump wanted to help her sister. Don't worry, she was in the center of the table with someone on guard to watch her movements.

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and here's an example of LuLu's bracelet craftsmanship.

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RAM, Swing, and Football

I'm back online, courtesy of a buddy of mine who came over and tweaked this and that and whatchamacallit. He also installed 512 MB of RAM into my desktop, bringing it up to a whopping 1GB of memory. Whoo-hoo!

In addition, I have my TV back, via yet another buddy who stopped by a week ago and wired in some new speakers. Now not only do I have sound, I have better audio than before the kids knocked it out of service.

So, thanks go to: Tre, for the comp fix. Erv, for the repair of my beloved TV, Jeanne for the donation of the RAM, and my sister C for the speakers.

* * * * * *

New Guilty Pleasure: tuning in the the Music Choice channels of my cable system and listening to Big Band as I go about my evening. Jack Teagarden anyone?

* * * *

How about those NFC/AFC Championship Games?

At the conclusion of the Steelers game I turned to Lisa (well, actually I had to hunt her down, as she'd boycotted the room during the games) and said I was spooked. It's unnatural, I said, for both teams I wanted to win to actually pull it off.

Arizona and Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. Wow. Kudos to them both. I'm happy for Kurt Warner, who may just seal a trip to Canton with this, and for Mike Tomlin, the coach of the Steelers, who may just outdistance the ghost of Bill Cowher after all.

Friday, January 16, 2009

FYI

My desktop crashed again this morning. While it's now up and running it refuses to recognize any means of getting online, and I'm so sick of working on it I'm willing to forget the web for now and call it a day. I've grown pretty good at troubleshooting the beast, but this is beyond me.

So . . I may be back online on my home computer by this time tomorrow, or it could be down for weeks. We'll have to see. I'm assuming the former will be the case, but if not . . .take care and stay warm :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

That '70's Coat

I'd be posting more, but my computer has suffered several 'severe' failures and now seems held together with tape and string. Even when it's running 'well' it's only . . .adequate I guess. Better than nothing, though. Given that it's older than LuLu, I think that it's high time we get a new one this year :)

* * * *

When my parents were forced to move from my childhood home this past summer I was one of the last folks charged with clearing out 75 years worth of memories from the attic.

Hanging in a closet, untouched for thirty years or so, were two winter coats that had once belonged to my sisters. I scooped them up for my girls.

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In these pictures LuLu is modelling one of the two jackets, the one she's been wearing around town as of late. It seems to be of exceptional quality and looks and 'wears' brand new.

[The other coat was quite dated - two different shades of light blue with a very '70's flair - and had some matting and age-damage. It probably should have been left behind, if I hadn't been in some a sentimental mood, so it won't be making an appearance here]

You can argue that the coat is proof that things were made better 'back then'. I think it has more to do with being a sad reminder that, for a minute, my parents were decently well-off and could afford fine clothing for their kids.

From the time I was five or six (~1979) that was no longer the case, and these jackets were taken out of circulation and replaced with the standard issue K-Mart stock that was our lifeblood from then on.

I'd like to have a guarantee that history isn't repeating itself, given the recent financial blows, but all I can do is keep plugging away and not lose sight of the goals I've set for this family.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Some Misc December Pics

Here's Lump and her Godfather Matt/Emo on the day he stopped by to deliver her present. He's a frequent reader here, but hasn't bothered to ID himself as a 'follower/reader', thereby inhibiting my 'Blogger Cred'. Hop to it man!

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Here's some pens that Lisa made as a gift for the family's dance teacher.

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And some cookies she baked and decorated for Smiley's class.

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YaYa helping me shovel out from a snowstorm

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Lump on Christmas Eve

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Here's two shots of Smiley and Lisa working on his December homework

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YaYa outside by our cars

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And finally, YaYa and her Mom on Christmas Eve

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

The all-encompassing sports post

TWO sports posts in a row. Aren't you lucky?

The BCS championship
:

I could care less about either of the teams involved, but I was rooting for Oklahoma. Why? First, Tim Tebow, while an excellent human being, gets on my nerves. His mobility destroyed Oklahoma, true, but to me all it does is highlight the dramatic difference between college and the pros. That would never, ever, fly in the NFL, and dang nabbit, if I'm going to waste my lifespan caring about a game between two teams I care nothing about, I want to at least pretend its a close proximity to professional grade.

Second, if Oklahoma had won we'd be spared the cries of 'See, Texas shoulda been there!'. Memo to Texas fans: you barely, by the skin of your teeth and with seconds to spare, managed to knock off Ohio State. The Big Ten - and I love ya, don't get me wrong - is weak right now, and the Buckeyes weren't even the cream of their crop. You weren't gonna take out Florida, no sir, not this year.

Fantasy Football:

I depended too much of the over-rated Browns and finished 9-4. Next question.

Brett Favre:

The Wisconsin man-love for Brett has abated somewhat on the heels of his disastrous collapse in the last quarter of the season. By 'somewhat' I mean you can now safely mention his name in conversation without genuflecting first.

Unlike their brethren in the Dairy State the NY press was less than kind after the season, opening a whole can of whoop ass on the man once the Jets failed to make the playoffs. They were so harsh that, God forbid, I began to actually feel sorry for the goof.

I don't know why they're mad. He did what he does better than anyone in history - throw interceptions.

Enjoy the 'will he/won't he retire' argument New York.

The Packers


Well, I said last year they were playing above their talent level, and sadly it looks like I was right.

6-10, poorly coached at times and porous on defence. The only bright spots were Woodson and Aaron Rodgers (4000 plus yards, 28 TD, 13 INT).

The Bucks


Still sub-500 but playing strong and visibly well-coached. Whether they're playoff bound remains to be seen.

The NFL Playoffs

Proof not only of a god, but of multiple deities: the Baltimore-Titans game where the ball apparently danced to the tune of Loki's whims. Tennessee was just not destined to win.

So who do I think will go on to the SuperBowl? I'd like to see a Pittsburgh - Arizona game with a Cardinals victory.

Since that's what I'd like, I'm sure it won't happen. If Philly gets in I'll root for whoever represents the AFC; if Arizona is in, I'm with them all the way.

* * *

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Hall of Fame Ballot


The Baseball Hall of Fame will be announcing its 2009 class soon, and the net is awash in columns by Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) members explaining who they voted for and why. As I'm just little ol' me I don't have a vote, but since when did that ever stop me from offering up my opinion?

[As a prelude, let me say that if you have to classify me I'd fall under the 'small Hall' umbrella. That means I'm a little stingier on the entrance requirements than some, and I've got no problem whatsoever with seeing a year when only a single player - or even no one - makes the cut.]

If I had the only vote Rickey Henderson would go into the Hall by his lonesome. His numbers speak for themselves. He's one of those rare players whose performance was every bit as good as his reputation advertised. If he doesn't get in then the Hall should board up its doors and call it a day.

But there's no way he waltzes in solo; there's just too many other good names on the ballot. So let's see where I stand on them. A player in 'bold' doesn't mean I'd vote for them, only that I can empathize with the voters and wouldn't balk over their induction.

* * * * *

Harold Baines - No. A solid, professional hitter and I respect him, but he isn't destined for Cooperstown

Jay Bell - not even if his first name was Liberty

Bert Blyleven - 287 wins and 3700 strikeouts. I say 'yes', but I can see why the 250 odd losses made voters pause.

David Cone - some great years, but he rose to greatness too late and fell down to earth too early. A heck of a pitcher and I enjoyed watching him.

Andre Dawson - it is the Hall of 'Fame', not of 'Numbers', and Hawk certainly qualifies on that point. He's one of only a handful of non-Brewers players I would have recognized before I fell in love with the sport. For some statistical reasons I would lean slightly towards 'no', but I'll probably smile if I hear he gets in.

Ron Gant - of course not. But for the record, he did finish with more than 300 home runs and 200 stolen bases.

Mark Grace - a Cub, so hell no. Seriously tho', I don't care if it sounds 'old school: a punch and judy hitting first basemen doesn't earn Hall honors for me. Plus his color commentary for the Diamondbacks is just obnoxious.

Tommy John - my most controversial pick. 288 wins against 231 losses, a 3.34 career ERA, 2200 odd strikeouts, and three twenty win seasons. Most impressively Tommy John was the 'pioneer' for the ligament surgery that now bears his name. Considered 'miraculous' at the time that he was able to pitch again at all, he went on to win 164 games post-surgery. That surgical procedure alone should get him inducted, as it has patched together countless careers over the last 30 years and will continue to do so for decades to come. Hey, if Candy Cummings can get in for 'inventing' the curveball, John can get in for going under the knife.

Don Mattingly - Donnie Baseball just didn't get it done for enough years to make the cut. Sorry Don.

Mark McGwire - I said 'yes' last year mainly because I loved the guy as a player. I say 'yes' this year for a different reason: I'm sick to death of all the lying, hypocritical reporters who say they'd never have voted for him anyway because he was 'one dimensional'. A) no, he wasn't. B) You're full of shit. You'd not only have elected him minus the steroid flap, you'd have carved the plaque yourselves.

Jack Morris - he's getting a lot of love, but I say no. I just don't see the numbers and his reputation always seemed overblown to me.

Dale Murphy - a low average but a seven time All-Star, two-time MVP, and five time Gold Glover who finished with 398 home runs. A hell of a peak, and I wouldn't cry if he was elected.

Jesse Orosco - I loved Jesse and his longevity was legendary. But no.

Dave Parker - no

Dan Plesac - a former Brewer. No.

Tim Raines - I said 'yes' last year, and so I'll renew my claim. But this is just a 'numbers' pick and so I lack any strong emotion either way.

Jim Rice - a sickening amount of love out there for Rice, but he just doesn't add up to a Hall player, not by many sabermetric standards at least. And this 'most feared hitter' crap is just that. I don't remember the name 'Jim Rice' inspiring dread when the Brewers faced him, and I think it's a post-career selling point that's gotten way too much press. NO.

Lee Smith - I read an article where Smith moaned and groaned about the lack of Hall-love he's been getting. Get used to it. Closers are an overrated commodity that will be re-evaluated and diminished in future years, and his record of all-time saves is impressive only in context.

Alan Trammell - shoulda been in already. More valuable than his weak hitting contemporary Ozzie Smith, who's already in the Hall (and keep in mind Trammell was no slouch in the field)

Greg Vaughn
- my favorite Brewer for many a year. Not even close.

Mo Vaughn - closer than Greg, but still a no

Matt Williams
a fine career marred by steroid allegations, but not Hall either way.

* * * *

So if I had a membership card who would be on my ballot? Henderson, John, and Blyleven. Oh, and maybe a vote for McGwire, just to keep his name in ciculation until the first year of Bonds' eligibility brings the steroid issue to a head. (On an expanded ballot, add Trammell and Raines to the mix.)

Real-world results are announced January 12th - I'll let you know if I agree with them or not :)

Christmas Morn 2008

On Christmas Eve orders went out: there was to be no venturing downstairs the next morning until both Mom and Dad were up and everyone was, at the very least, dressed with their hair combed. That last bit didn't happen, but they stuck to the first two conditions with aplomb.

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The stuff in the red paper is from 'Santa', the rest are from us.

I say again: thank you Lisa, for buying most of these presents on super-clearance during the summer, otherwise this would have been a much skimpier Christmas!

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I'm going to interrupt here for a second and present a proud moment in this household: Upon opening a motorized game called Lucky Duck, Smiley lit up and said 'Lucky 'Ucky', which was a heck of a feat for the little guy!



Now back to our festivities:

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LuLu got a stacking game:

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Smiley got a barrel of dinosaurs:

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An outfit for Lump (who also got an elaborate Pooh bath toy set)

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Lump also got a great cuddly learning Bear

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LuLu dang near screamed when she opened Hannah Montana's 'Oliver' doll

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Smiley got a tadpole habitat; YaYa got a sea monkey set but Smiley later spilled them all over the living room. That's ok. Lump ATE the soil from LuLu's 'garden in a week' toy.

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Here's what some of what I got Lisa: a body pillow and pillow cover, a set of those 'never spoil' Debbie Myer kitchen bags (she's been asking for them), and a copy of the new book by the Mom from 'Jon and Kate Plus Eight'.

I was happy to get socks, slippers, undies, and a shirt, all of which I needed.

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Smiley gave Lisa a macaroni ornament too

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Then my surprise. As Lisa says, I'm all 'bah humbug - don't you spend MY money', right up until the week before Christmas, when financially I feel all George Bailey-ish. Well, in the wee hours of Christmas Eve I couldn't pass up buying YaYa what I thought would be a perfect gift, 'Titanic: Ship of Dreams', a Titanic pop-up book with some marvelous graphics.

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I also picked up a Hannah Montana poster book for Lu.

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a Wall-E book for Smiley (he can say Wall-E pefectly!)

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and a touch and feel book for Lump.

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Wouldn't ya know it, YaYa claimed the Titanic book was her favorite gift of the day.

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That was just Christmas day up until 8:30 am or so. There's much more to come - but not so many pics. I promise :)