Sunday, August 31, 2008

My first 10K (almost a KO)

I ran my first 10K this weekend In Buffalo Grove. Illinois that is, in case you weren't sure. I had trouble sleeping, I think I was nervous. I had trouble going to sleep and I woke up frequently. I think I was afraid of over-sleeping and being rushed in the morning. I don't trust my alarm. I have had problems with me hitting the button to turn it off in my sleep, and it is 15 years old. What is the life expectancy of a clock radio anyway? Three years?

I did get up on time (6:00!) and I had my breakfast of a banana and cinnamon toast with peanut butter on top. (What? That doesn't sound good? It is, trust me.) I was out the door by 6:40 with all my accessories in hand. I went by myself since Jenn was sleeping in, she had her own race tonight. Right now actually. I wonder how it is going?

Since I left early I had an hour to kill at the race site. Last year there was nowhere to park so I figured I'd be looking for a spot for 10 or 15 minutes then have to walk another 15 minutes to get the the starting line. Instead I parked 100 feet from the starting line. I guess that is good, but what was I going to do for an hour? Walk around a lot, it turns out.

One thing I found out, I'm too slow for the setup they have. There are three races; a 10K run, a 5K run and a 5K walk. They stagger the start times but when you are slow, like me, you end up meeting the walkers at the end. I did a lot of bobbing and weaving to get to the finish line.

Before I got to the end though, I had to run the 6.2 miles. Unfortunately, that is farther than I have ever run. I've run 5 miles a couple of times, but that was it. Oh, and the last two weeks I didn't run much. Mostly because I was a little under the weather, partly because I was lazy. So, yeah, it was a little rough to get the distance done.

I tried to start off slow, but as usual, I started off too fast. I was making a mental note to try and slow down, and it worked, for the most part. One thing I do often is find someone running about my speed and keep them in sight. I don't run next to them, that is kind of rude, but I stay a few paces behind them and match their speed. Today there was a man, close to my age, running with his daughter who was maybe 9 or 10 years old. I figured they would be perfect to follow. It worked well until the last 1.5 miles. I got too tired and too hot and had to walk a bit. I never saw them again. I wanted to feel bad about being beat by a 10 year old kid, but then I remembered they are made of energy. It was never a fair battle.

The good news? I wasn't last. I think there were six or seven people behind me. Hey, that's something!

Now I have a 9.5 mile race in two weeks. I'm dead.

How is your holiday weekend?

Friday, August 29, 2008

I joined a gym

I signed us up for a family membership at a gym down the street. The kids have been taking swim lessons there for a little while and we thought it would be a good idea to join. Now I know what your thinking, "Mike, why do you, the model of perfect physical fitness need to join a gym?" To that I say, you haven't met me. Jenn and I have been okay with getting some exercise in the summer and fall with races, but the winter comes and it all goes down the drain.

See, we have a treadmill in our house, and we do use it, but we'd rather be dragged behind a wild horse through gravel than run on it most of the time. It is mind numbingly boring. There is nothing more sad than running for an hour and not even making it to the kitchen. Especially when you know there is ice cream in the freezer. You can hear it whispering your name as you run in place. It is taunting you. It doesn't help that the treadmill is in the laundry room and there is no TV in there.

That is why we joined. There is a track in there so you can actually move a you run. Sure, it is only 1/9th of a mile, so if you want to run long distance you might get dizzy, but at least you are moving. Besides that there are treadmills, ellipticals, recumbent bikes, and stair climbers; all with TVs too look at. Plus, there are more machines than I've ever seen before. I don't know what half of them do, but I can schedule an appointment to find out what they are for. There are also free weights so I can go in, do one rep with as much weight as possible, scream while I do it, and drop in the bench making a lot of noise. I love it when guys do that.

Since it is a family pass the kids can go, too. Our daughter needs to bulk up a little. I'm thinking of having her do some squats. My son is going to work on his upper body. He's starting Tae Kwon Do next week, so if he wants to kick some butt, he better get moving. (You do know I'm kidding about that, right?)

Wish me luck. I'll probably hurt myself the first day I go. That's my style.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm a good fixer

At least that is what my daughter says. She says I'm a good fixer because I fixed the toilet after the great flood of '08. Sure, she's still afraid of that particular toilet from time to time, but she is getting better. Today she said I was a great fixer because of this:

Yes, I put some new blinds up. It only took about two hours. You are probably thinking to yourself, why so long? Don't forget, no matter what my daughter thinks, I stink at this kind of work.

The big delay was due to the screws that came with the blinds. They were too long and were impossible to get flush with the bracket, due to the fact that the screw was hitting the framing for the window opening. So the screw was stuck halfway in, I couldn't get it all the way in, nor out. A few times I thought the cordless drill was going to break the window as it bashed against it. That would have been fun! Much swearing ensued until, finally, I got the screw out. Once I changed to a new, smaller screw, things went much quicker.

What did I learn from this? Don't try to do this when the kids are around. Check the screws, they may be longer than you need. And, most importantly, I really shouldn't do this kind of thing. EVER.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I won something!

Let me start by saying I never win anything. Well, for the most part. There was the time we all went to the riverboat casino and my friend Lisa showed me how to play craps for the first time. I did win about $150 that time, but the next time we went I lost about the same amount. So I call that even. Except for that, I can't recall anything I have won. I've never won more the 20 bucks in the lottery, or anything on bingo night (not that I have gone to bingo night), no cool prizes at a can see where I'm going.

Well, I won something cool this week. It started when Mary Robinette Kowal posted that one of her new short stories was up at Apex Book Company, called Scenting the Dark. So, of course, I read it that night. Before I go any further I should say you need to read the story. If you like your Sci Fi scary, and who doesn't, you'll like the story. So go. Read. I'll wait. Back? Cool story, right?

Anyway, the next day she posted a little contest based on the story. She wanted us to guess what all the names in the story had in common. I was one of the winners who figured out they were subway stops in New York. As a prize, I got a copy of an unpublished story called, Home Safety. It's a neat look at Hansel and Gretel. Now I can say I have a rare copy of an unpublished story from a Campbell Award winning author. Isn't that cool? I think so.

So I have to thank Mary, for having the contest, and giving out a neat prize. Also, Google. I was pretty sure they were subway stations; I heard of Penn Station before, but Google helped me confirm it. Not bad for a guy who has never been to New York City. (I know I need to go. My wife has been telling me for years.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ten on Tuesday : 10 Things you didn't like about school

This week's Ten on Tuesday; what I didn't like about school. Just in case the title didn't give it away. Let's see:

1. Riding the bus. I didn't take it often in high school, until senior year. I hated every minute of it. There is nothing good I can say about it.

2. Humanities. I'm being specific about one class in high school. It was torture. The teacher was annoying, the class was boring, and we were supposed to go to cultural events outside school, on our own, to get points. I never did.

3. When I had gym early in the day -- There was never time to properly clean up before getting to your next class. I made sure gym was one of my last classes the last 2 years of high school.

4. Homework. Who didn't?

5. Lockers. They were way too small. We had to share and, during the winter, it was impossible to fit two huge coats and all your books in there.

6. Early Classes. In college I had to walk all the way across campus for an 8AM class. That was especially fun in the winter. My hair was always frozen by the time I got there, then would drip on me for the entire hour.

7. One Day a Week Classes. I had a couple of these, they were 2:40 long. How can you possibly pay attention that long? On classical mythology, no less. What a mistake that was. The class would have been so much better as a 3 days-a-week one hour class.

8.  Cafeteria  Food.  I never got used to it. 

9. Scantron Tests. There is nothing worse than filing in all the ovals, getting to the last question, only to find you missed one somewhere. And you have ten minutes left to figure it out and fix it. Oh, and your eraser is just a little nub. I still have nightmares about it.

10. The ACT (or SAT, if you took that one). Nothing like an ultra-stressful test to take during the summer. Not like it decides your future, or anything.

There you have it. What did you not like about school?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend Assignment #230: The Olympics, who is watching?

I figure since the Olympics ended yesterday, now is a perfect time to write up my weekend assignment. Why should I write about something that is actually happening right now?

Karen asks:

Weekend Assignment #230: Have you been watching the Olympics? If so, what have you particularly enjoyed? If not, then what, if anything, would entice you to watch?

Actually, I have watched more than I thought I would. I think it's because I was on vacation and I could stay up late to watch it. Besides, what else is on at midnight? Not much, I found.

Some of it I wanted to see. I'll admit, I got sucked in to the Michael Phelps hype. I wanted to see if he'd break Mark Spitz record. I remember pretending to be him with my brother and step-brother when we would go to the pool. I was only three when he won the medals, but he was still popular. Didn't he do aftershave ads? That's where I probably saw him first.

I watched some of the women's gymnastics. Yeah, I'm surprised at that, too. I only watched the team competition. I happened to turn it on near the end and there was a chance the USA team could get the gold. They didn't, but it was still interesting.

We all watched to women's beach volleyball as well. It looked like it was going to be close for a while, but the USA team kicked butt.

I do have a couple of questions. Why are badminton and team rhythmic dance (I think that is what it is) Olympic sports? I think we need to swap those out. (I guess that was only one question encompassing two sports. Oh well).

So, in conclusion, I would say I watched my share of the Olympics this year. What say you?

By the way, I never new there were two "n's" in badminton. I've never written the word down before, I found out through the spell checker. Where would I be without such a handy gizmo.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Agony and Ecstasy

Agony: I go back to work tomorrow. My vacation is over. If there is a way to ruin a Saturday more than having it be the end of vacation, I don't know what it is. (I do know how to make a clumsy sentence though). These two weeks flew went by much more quickly than I thought they would. I've been off because the kids had no camp or day care options leading up to school that just started this past Thursday. I thought it was going to go by slowly, with much whining, fighting and complaining. I was wrong. About the time part, that is, there was much whining, complaining and fighting. Actually, more than I thought there would be.

So, yeah, I go back to work. Back to the grind. Yipee. Yay. Hurmph.

Ecstasy: I got my AirPort Express to work. After much searching, message board reading and complaining (on my part this time) I got my AirPort to play nice with my non-Apple computer and router. Now I can stream the music that is on iTunes on our computer upstairs to the stereo downstairs. As an added bonus, I can control iTunes from my iPod Touch anywhere in the house. It is the ultimate dream of a lazy-ass music lover! (I sound like a commercial. Hey Apple, if you like the plug feel free to send me free stuff. Just e-mail me. The button is over on the right. Thanks!)

So that is my Saturday so far. I'm not sure what to do for the rest of it. What are you doing today?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Foul-mouthed kids

The other day I was here in the office, doing bills or something like that, and the kids were running around behind me. They kept running from there rooms, out to the hallway and back. And yelling. Loudly. My daughter was mostly just screaming, she likes to do that, while my son was yelling, "DAMN!" He kept yelling it as the ran around. At first I was ignoring it, you know, don't let them know it is a bad word and maybe they will drop it. Well, after about 25 times I had to do something. What if the neighbors could hear him?

Finally I called out, "What are you guys doing out there?"

My son stopped by the door, "We're pretending we are beavers building a dam."

"Oh, okay. Can you be a little more quiet?" At least they weren't swearing, and they made a pretty good dam. See:

The only problem? That is the only way to get to my bedroom. They were nice beavers and took it down for me later so I could go to sleep.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Weekend Assignment #229: You Talkin' to Me?

I'm a little late, I hope not too late, getting around to this week's assignment. The kids started school today so the week has been a little hectic around here. Anyway:

Weekend Assignment #229: Tell us about a nickname - yours, or someone else's. Did you come up with it, or was it bestowed by someone else? Is it still in use? And most of all, has it benefited the nicknamed person, or caused them grief, or both?

At first when I read Karen's assignment asking about nicknames, I couldn't think of one. Sure, I grew up being called by my last name, that's what I get for having a popular first name I guess, but that's not a nickname. It's just a way of being differentiated between 35 other people named Mike in a room.

So, I thought I was going to have nothing. Then I remembered. I don't know how I forgot, to be honest. See, I was the youngest child in my family. You know how it is, you get away with a lot of stuff, get your siblings in trouble by making the slightest whine, etc. What I'm saying is that being the youngest had it perks. But, I was the baby for a long time. And that was my name in the house, The Baby.

Now, that wasn't such a big deal in some ways. I wasn't called that directly by my mom, it was more of a third person type thing. You know, it starts off with, "Shh, the baby is sleeping." Then it becomes, "The baby scored two goals this week." It's sad when it becomes, "The baby isn't coming home from school this weekend."

The real sad part is that it went longer than that. Like the first time Jenn heard it. I'm not sure who said it, it could have been anybody, but she had no idea who they were talking about. Yes, it was me. Yes, we were engaged, at least, and I was well into my 20's. I believe my brother said it as a joke when we announced we were expecting our first child. "The baby is having a baby." Ugh.

The name still gets dragged out on occasion, yes I am almost 40 thank you, but it is very rare now. I think I have finally shaken it at this point. (Until my sister reads this post, that is).

So, this may not be your average nickname, since it was a third person thing, but it stuck for a very long time, and was relatively embarrassing. I think that counts.

Oh, I almost forgot, my entire dorm floor called me "Dude." Yes, I said it a lot, what can I say? I didn't mind that one too much.

Extra Credit: Have you ever tried for a nickname that just didn't take off?

T-bone? Oh wait, that was George Kostanza. No, I guess I haven't really tried.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Olympic Athletes

Hey, I'm actually getting Ten on Tuesday done before 6 o'clock in the evening for a change. Let's see if I can come up with 10 Olympic athletes.

1. Bruce Jenner. Didn't he seem like an average guy out there for some reason. Of course, I was seven what did I know? He gets some points deducted for his reality show though...

2. Carl Lewis. He was winning all his medals when I was in grade school and in track. I wanted to run as fast and jump as far as he did. It never happened.

3. Nadia Comaneici. I don't think I ever heard of Romania before she won.

4. Mary Lou Retton. My wife had to meet her at the airport for work once. She lost her, but that is another story.

5. Mark Spitz. I was really young when he won, but he was still well know when I was learning to swim. Like Carl above, I never was as good.

6. Jesse Owens. He should be higher on this list, but it is random order anyway.

7. I guess I should add Michael Phelps. I haven't paid much attention to swimming in the last 25 years or so. I did this year.

8. Speaking of swimming. Dara Torres. I got sick of everybody mentioning she was 41 every single time. How about she is a good swimmer. No need to mention age, am I right?

That's about all I have. Anyone want to add some?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dinos and Airplanes, oh my!

We had an exciting weekend. I guess that is the way it should be when it is the last weekend before schools starts. For the kids, not me.

Saturday my son and I went to Walking with Dinosaurs: The Live Experience. It was really neat! I was a little worried about it for a few reasons. 1). It was downtown at the United Center, and I had to get there on my own. I'm not good at getting around in the city and I get very stressed. Luckily, it is right of the expressway. Phew! 2). I knew it was going to be loud. My son does not like loud noises. At all. He was fine, though. He just covered his ears.

They really did a great job with the show. There was a paleontologist on stage, I forgot his name, who told the story of the dinosaurs as each new period was discussed. The actor was very good. It was like he was sitting down with you telling you a story. Very personable, but at the same time, very informative.

Obviously, the dinosaurs were the main attraction. They had a good variety; Utahraptors, Stegasaurus, Brachiosarus, and the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The smaller dinos had people inside controlling the puppets. You could see their feet, but you hardly noticed. They really had the movements down. They were very life-like. Well, as far as we know.

The very large dinos were operated a little differently. I could see a capsule, for lack of a better term, underneath where someone was sitting. I know that is how they moved the puppet around, but I'm not sure how they controlled the head, arm and tail movements. Unless there were controls in the capsule to do that. Either way, it was a lot of fun.

I forgot my camera in the car. (I'm still very annoyed by that). Here are a few cell phone shots.
T-Rex by you.Raptors feedingTicked off T-Rex

Pretty bad, huh? I had to share, though.

Sunday we went to see the Chicago Air and Water Show. We really only saw the air show portion but I had to give you the full name. I think it is a law or something. We didn't go down to the lakefront since it is always a mob of people. Usually we go a little farther north, you can still see everything, and you won't step on someone's torso if you move around a little.

This year, though, we went to Jenn's sister-in-law's place and went on the roof. While it wasn't really close, we could still see plenty. Not to mention we had easy access to a private bathroom. Plus, like I mentioned before, our kids don't like loud noises. Being further away from the jets made that much more tolerable. Except when they flew right over us, which they did several times.

We didn't get down there until about 2 o'clock, so we missed some airplanes, but we did get to see the Blue Angels, and a few other jets. I always like to see the B-2 bomber because it looks like something Batman would fly, but we missed it. We saw it last year though.

blue angels 1

I like this shot since you can read the "US Navy" under the wings. I had to zoom in on Photoshop to get it to show up since my camera only had a 3x zoom. They were closer than this picture makes it look.

3 generations

Here was three different airplanes from different eras. They kept buzzing us as an F-22 Raptor was over the lakefront.

4 legacy airplanes

Here they are together as they leave to go home. Wherever that was.

It was a fun day. The kids got bored after awhile so it was good we were at a place they could go inside and mellow out. Or, just go up and down the stairs multiple times. For no apparent reason.

They were pooped by the end of the night, but my son had problems going to sleep. He was afraid of having a dream about tornadoes. I told him to think about the Blue Angels flying around instead. It didn't work. He came back to tell me that he was thinking about the Blue Angels, but the pilots were dinosaurs. How do you fix that one?

I have a few more pictures over at Flickr if you want to check them out.

Today? Most of today was spent nursing a monster headache. Then swimming lessons for the kids and some last minute school supply shopping. Exciting, I know.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quick weekend recap

It was a busy weekend. Saturday I took my son to Walking With Dinosaurs while my wife took our daughter shopping, and to Build-a-Bear. Much fun was had by all. I'm mad at myself, though. I forgot my camera in the car. Argh! I took some pictures with my cell phone. I'll see if anything looks good enough to post.

Today we went to Jenn's sister's house to watch the air show. I did remember my camera this time! Okay, Jenn did, I can admit that. I will post some of those tomorrow.

Now I'm watching some show about repo men. It does not look like a fun job!

How was your weekend?

Saturday, August 16, 2008


crepuscular rays
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
I took this from the backyard. We don't have a large yard so I couldn't get all of it. That is also why you can see the chimney. Behold the Crepuscular Rays.

That word is really hard to spell, and say. You'd think it would be easy for me since I have a degree in Meteorology. No. It's not.

The doctor is in

The doctor is in
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
As you can see, I bought some Dr. Pepper. A lot of Dr. Pepper. But, when it is buy 2 get 3 free, you have to buy a lot. Am I right? I'll probably bring some to my mom's house. I always drink her's when I am over there.

The Red Bull is my wife's. That stuff is gross, but it gives you wings!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Weekend Assignment #228: Design an Award

Karen must have heard my silent screams of, "I don't have time to do the assignment" since she has given us another day to finish our assignments. I feel like I'm back in college!

I've been thinking about the ever since Karen put it up. I've been trying to figure out who to give an award to, and what would that award be. I definitely don't have Photoshop skills (or is it skillz). So, let's see what happens.

I'm going to give out two awards. The first is the "Time Management Award", which goes to Unfocused Me. He's a hard-working lawyer who finds time to write, run, travel for work, and hang out with his family. He must sleep less that Karen does. Though, I'm not sure that is possible.

The second is the "Still Having Fun" award, which I give to Dave Barry. He is semi-retired, but still has fun on his blog, and writes the occasional booger joke in the Miami Herald, when he is up to it. Right now he is in Beijing trying not to look out of place. I met him (I use that term loosely) at a book signing once. He was super nice and made a point of trying to write something personal even though we were told he wouldn't have time for it.

Okay, I tried to make the actual award, I really did. For the Still having fun award I had a picture of nuns on tricycles. It was really weird, and fun! But, I couldn't get Photoshop to do what I wanted. It was a real mess. It's the thought that counts, right?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Somebody call the doctor...

Dr. Pepper, that is.

Today was back to school haircut and school supply shopping day. The day didn't start off well, I had the energy of a three-toed sloth from the minute I woke up. I just couldn't get into gear at all. It didn't help that there was no caffeine available in the house for a jump start. So, we went out to get haircuts, came home for lunch, and went to Target for the supplies. That was fun. It's not like all the other schools around here start next week, or anything. But, we got it done. Well, mostly done, there were a few things I couldn't find, and gave up on.

One thing I made sure to get was Dr, Pepper. It was the last six pack of bottles left. I grabbed it, put it in the cart, and thought of nothing else on the way home, except how it would taste. When we got home I grabbed all the bags and took them in the house. Then it hit me. These bags weren't heavy enough to be holding the Dr. Pepper I longed for. A quick searched confirmed my fears. My son had put all the groceries in the cart for me so I asked him were he put the pop. On the button, was his answer. I never looked there in the parking lot. Sigh. Right now someone is enjoying free Dr. Pepper because of me.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another addition to the lists of things my dog is good for

I jammed up our paper shredder real good a while back, now I don't have a way to get rid of all those important documents I have. You know, pictures of Elvis from three weeks ago, the man on the grassy knoll, Bigfoot; you get the idea. Anyway, all I have to do is give the important document to my dog and it's instantly turned into million drool-covered bits that even Big Blue couldn't fit back together. Though Quincy did cost more than a shredder, the documents he destroys are worth more than anything. To me and my family, at least.

Bookworms Carnival is up!

That latest edition of the Bookworms Carnival is up over at Florinda's blog. The topic was young adult fiction. She has a ton of links to other blogs (including me :) who participated by sending her links to their thoughts and stories on YA literature. Go check it out! Tell her I sent you...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ten on Tuesday: ten best bad guys

As the title suggests, this week's Ten on Tuesday wants us to list our favorite villains. Hmmm. Let's see:

1. The Terminator, from the first movie, of course.

2. T-1000, from the second Terminator movie. Come on, that guys was liquid steel, he could mimic anybody. He was the perfect bad guy!

3. Jar-Jar Binks. You can't tell me he was not evil!

4. Darth Vader, though he did turn out to "have some good in him."

5. The Queen Alien from Aliens. Acid blood seals the deal.

6. Agent Smith, from the Matix. Pure, cool evil.

7. Dr. Evil. Seriously.

8. The Tall Man, from Phantasm. It's an old horror movie, that guy scared the crap out of me.

9. Hans Gruber, from Die Hard. Calm, cool, collected...evil.

10. General Zod, from Superman II. "Kneel before Zod." One of my favorite lines from the movie.

There you have it. I don't watch many movies based on comics, or spy movies, so my villains my be different from yours. Who are your favorites?

Monday, August 11, 2008

A conversation with my dog

This morning, around 7:oo am, my son came into our room to see if we were up yet. Of course we weren't, so he used our bathroom and climbed into our bed. This isn't a big deal since he will usually go back to sleep. The problem is our dog, Quincy, sleeps directly under my son's room and he knows when my son gets up. Barking ensues, as it did this morning. I tried to ignore it and hope Quincy would get the hint and go back to sleep. He didn't so I trudged down the stairs to his crate. This is what happened. (I used the Google Dog Translator to decipher my dogs responses. It's an early beta, only a few select people have it).

As I get to Quincy's crate he immediately lays back down. I open the door and he rolls to his side, he knows this is the way to make it near impossible to put on his collar.

Me: What are you doing? You were barking to go out. Get up!

Quincy: What?

Me: What do you mean what? Get up, you have to go out.

Quincy: No, I'd rather sleep.

Me: But you were just barking to go out two seconds ago!

Quincy: Huh? Are you sure that was me? I don't remember barking.

Me: How could you not remember?

Quincy: Dude, my brain is the size of a hand grenade, I'm lucky I remember to eat.

Me: (forcing my hand under his neck to get his collar on) I'm out of bed so you are going out.

I lift him up and start pulling his collar.

Quincy: Hey, this is the back door. I should probably go out.

Door: Slam!

I went to lay on the couch, knowing that he wouldn't be long. About ten minutes later I heard him barking. I got up to let him in.

Quincy: Oh, you're up?

Me: Hmph, get in your cage please.

I decided It would be best for me to sleep on the couch next to him. I thought that would keep him quiet for a while.

Me: Go back to sleep Quincy. It's early.

Quincy: (passes gas).

Me: Thanks. Go to sleep.

I close my eyes and start to drift off.

Quincy: Psst.

I ignore him. Pretend to sleep.

Quincy. Psst. Dude, I need to go out.

Me: You were just out! I know your baldder isn't that small.

Qunicy: I didn't do anything out there. I just looked at the birds flying around and took a short nap in the grass. I was tired.

Me: So am I!

Quincy: So are you, what?

Me: Argh, you're driving me crazy!

I whip off the blanket, open the cage and put Quincy outside. I head upstairs to go back into bed for a while. Now my daughter is in the bed too. There is 7 square inches for me to sleep. I find a way to fit in the spot and drift off again.

15 minutes pass.

Quincy: (From outside) Hey! You guys awake? There is a squirrel out here you might want to see! Hey! Hey! Hey!

That was the end of me sleeping for a while. I did get to take a nap later. I needed it.

On a similar subject; you know what is so much better about having a puppy in this day and age? Being able to look up things that are poisonous to dogs in an instant. Quincy got part of and apple and banana today. Those are okay, by the way. Raisins are no good. Oh, and chocolate is bad, but they need to have 1 ounce per pound of body weight for it to be toxic. Thanks Google!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's my Rock and Roll Fantasy (camp)

I went to see Extreme and King's X last night at the House of Blues in Chicago. Both bands put on a good show and I enjoyed myself, though I was pretty tired of standing by the end. I told my friend, Roger, that we are getting too old to stand for 5 hours. Well, at least I am.

Anyway, the night started with Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp bands taking the stage. This is a very cool thing. You get put in a band with other people that sign up and an actual professional musician works with you. Then, you get to go on stage and rock out in front of a crowd. I think that would be a lot of fun. If you are ready for it, that is. And you have a fair sum of money laying around that you don't need. It is quite pricey.

I felt bad for a few of the guys out there. One guy was not very proficient at the guitar and barley played any of the three songs. Another guy did play, but it wasn't very good. I'm not entirely sure he was in tune. There was one guy, who was having a great time, but he only played the maracas. That seems like a lot to pay to play the maracas. Sure he was with a famous musician (I think he was with Elliot Easton of the Cars), but still.

Remember Kip Winger of Winger? He was the emcee and one of the band leaders as well. To be honest, they had the best performance, and everyone was involved. They did a good job with some hard songs (Queen!).

So, yes, I think it would be a lot of fun, but would I end up being the maraca guy? Would I get stuck with Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple who clearly only cared about himself? Or, would I have a great time? Who knows? It's too expensive to find out. I was thinking about putting a donation button to see if people would donate to let me go. I figure after a year I'd have 50 cents donated, I could put that in some interest bearing account, then my great-great grandkids could go. I'll have my body frozen so I could be thawed out to watch them play. Sound like a good idea?

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Originally uploaded by Mike F.
I'm busy this weekend so...look a squirrel!

Friday, August 8, 2008

My daughter made me lunch today

Originally uploaded by Mike F.
She was nice enough to slave over a hot Play -Doh oven to make me a pizza and a chocolate shake. Wasn't that nice? I'm stuffed.

Question of the Day

How can Ticketmaster charge 25 percent, or more in fees, be the only way to get tickets for a show, and not be a monopoly? Am I wrong? Is there competition that I don't know about? Maybe I don't understand the law properly, but I though monopolies were supposed to be broken up since there is no competition and people get hosed on prices. And how come the charge an extra fee to print them online? Doesn't that save them money? And don't get me started on ticket brokers!

Sorry, I just get irritated when I see there is a decent priced concert, then the total price is so much more.

(end rant)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Favorite Books of My Childhood

There are three books I remember that really got me into reading for pleasure, and the set the tone for the types of books I'd continue reading. I'm a genre guy, specifically a science fiction and horror guy, and I'm okay with that. At least I read. Isn't that the most important thing?

I'm not sure which book came first, so I will talk about them in random order. I hope that is okay with everybody.

The first is The Hero from Otherwhere, by Jay Williams. This is actually a fantasy book, which I don't normally read, but I loved it as a kid. I can't remember all of the story, it was over 25 years ago, but I remember what really clicked with me; the magic bowls. These two boys that were in this magical land were given two bowls, anything they wanted to eat would magically appear in them when the tapped them. As an added bonus the bowls cleaned themselves as well. As I young boy that was enough to get me hooked and keep me reading. I imagined all the cool food I could eat as I walked around my own little town. I didn't want to go to the magical landthey were in, it was a little scary.

Of course, being a young adult book, there was a message. From what I remember, the two boys were not friends by any means, but they had to learn to work together to get back home. This was accomplished by coming up with the perfect magical words to get two stone pieces to magically become one. From what I see on Amazon, it looks my memory is pretty good. See, it did stick with me!

The second book really got me stuck on science fiction. It was a series of books actually, the Lucky Starr series, by Isaac Asimov. I found the first one in the library at our grade school and ended up devouring the whole series. It was perfect for me, a series of books about a space ranger who fights crime on different planets in our solar system. So not only did I learn that crime didn't pay, but I learned about our tiny piece of the galaxy.

After reading that series I read science fiction books all the way through high school and into college. My advanced reading teacher in high school was kind enough to let me continue the trend, and even offered up some other suggestions. That's for a different post.

The last book was The Gismo from Outer Space, by Keo Felker Lazaruas. See the trend yet? I'm not sure where this fell in the timing of my "Big Three", all I know is I read this book a lot. I think I would pull it out and read it twice a year. It's not like I forgot what happened, I just enjoyed it that much.

In the book, two boys find a weird little gismo (that's how it is spelled in the book), and they have no idea what it is for. On a whim, one of the kids hooks into into his crystal radio set (the books is from the early 70's) and the end up communicating with somebody. After a while they realize they are talking to aliens who dropped this piece off of one of their spaceships. Eventually they meet the aliens and that is all I can remember. I think they keep the piece and can talk to them for a while, but I could be wrong. I'm pretty sure the book is in our garage; I may search for it. If I find it I will pass along the ending. I know you are on the edge of your seat.

So, those were the three books that got me into reading and I haven't stopped yet. If you have kids I recommend any one, or all, of these to get them to enjoy reading. Maybe you could try them out, too. If you do, let me know what you think.

This post was inspired by the Bookworm Carnival. This month's theme was young adult books and is being hosted by Florinda. She is going to post links to some posts on the same topic. Go check it out.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ancient anthill?

Originally uploaded by Mike F.
You can't tell by this photo, but this anthill is about 3ft x 3ft. This is but one area of ants in our yard, not to mention the entire neighborhood. You know, our subdivision is on a little hill...maybe it is a giant anthill! eep! Somebody call the Verminators!

More annoying

What is more annoying?

Billy Mays in any commercial, or those dancing internet ads advertising mortgage rates?

Oprah or Dr. Phil?

Bill O'Reilly or any other cable news know-it-all?

A barking dog in the middle of the night, or a car idling outside your window, for an hour, with the stereo cranked?

That is all for now. (Can you tell my vacation begins very soon).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ten on Tuesday: 10 events the SHOULD be in the Olympics

This week we have to come up with ten things that should be in the Olympics, but aren't.

1. Egg-toss. Just imagine how far you can toss the egg if it is for a gold medal.

2. Lawn darts. We need to bring these things back; this is the only way to do it.

3. Competitive eating. There is an official organization for it, so why not?

4. Golf. It's international already. Wouldn't take much more to do this.

5. Target Spelling. You have to shoot out a target to spell a word. It's a combo-sport like the biathlon.

6. The obstacle course. It looks fun on American Gladiators. Oh, and there should be peopl trying to push you off into the pool os shaving creme.

7. Log rolling. No roller skates allowed.

Okay, that's about all I can come up with right now. How about you?

Weekend Assignment #227: Gimme Some Good News!

Karen wants some good news this week. Who can blame her? I'm all for good news and the way things have been lately, I think we all could.

Weekend Assignment #227: There must be something positive happening in your life right now (I hope!). Tell us the good news!

This might not be good news to most people, but it is to us. We finally had some work done on our yard last week. We got rid of one big tree, a small tree and several bushes of varying sizes. We had new mulch put down, some sod to fill in the holes from the trees and on overall trimming of the bushes. It looks so much better! You can actually see our house number from the road now. Isn't that exciting? The only downside is our old siding is even more visible. But, we aren't going to focus on that now. Look how nice the bushes look around the front and back of the house. Notice how our a/c unit is free of bushes and can breathe better. Now we can have people out in the back yard. Or, if they are in the house we don't have to leave the blinds close so they can't see outside. I like to say that now we don't have the worst looking yard in the subdivision.

Exciting times. Live for the small things; that's my motto!

Another piece of good news comes from a fellow Weekend Assignment friend. Florinda was nice enough to give me the following award (you may have read this in her post):

How cool is that! While I might not feel worthy of the honor, I will except since I don't have to give a speech. There are some tasks that are involved in the acceptance of this award; none involve me cutting ribbons at the local strip mall, but may be just as difficult.
  1. Put the logo on your blog
  2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
  3. Nominate at least seven other blogs
  4. Add links to those blogs on your blog
  5. Leave a message for your nominee on his or her blog.
I will see if I can come up with seven. I probably won't be able to, we'll see.

First, I'll nominate Jenn. Not just because she is my wife, but if you want to read about a non-elite runner trying to run a marathon, read her blog. It's fun and informative, and makes you realize that it is not easy, but it can be rewarding.

Next, I will nominate DC. She stumbled onto my blog one day and I'm glad she did. Her blog is always fun and cracks me up. That is reason enough for an award in my book.

I'll also nominate Karen, she probably has received a few of these herself. Besides doing these weekend assignments she does a photo challenge every week and still finds time to blog about other things as well.

Carly gets a nomination for all her great pictures she takes. They all look like professional photos and have a great story to go along with them. Go check them out.

Ok, last I'm going to nominate Chris who started the Virtual Run Club. It was a great idea and has gotten a lot of us off our butts and kept us moving. (Speaking of which...)

So, that is my list. None of you nominated has to pass it on if you don't want; just enjoy the award and bask in it's glow. I have to run out right now so I will send comments to you guys later; just in case you see this first.

Extra Credit: Overall, are you optimistic, pessimistic or neither these days?

Um, I have to be honest and say I'm a pessimist in general. I try to look on the bright side, but sometimes I don't succeed. What can I say?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thank God it's Sunday (Friday)

Today is Sunday, but for me it is Friday. It's been a long week and I'm bushed. I don't mind working weekends in some respects, but working 6 days in a row, including the weekend, is kind of a drag. I never go to bed early enough so I'm tired all week. I can usually handle it for five days (barely), but six is too much. Yes, crack out the tiny violins while you read this.

I was almost late today. I don't know how I made it. See, Jenn went for a run early this morning so I had to wait for her to get home before I left. I couldn't trust Quincy to watch the kids while they slept. I don't think he knows how to make breakfast. Anyway, she got back at 6:40am. I start at 7. I cursed every red light on the way in, but glad that it was a Sunday and traffic was almost non-existent. I didn't even speed, really. Well, maybe a little, but really not bad. Now that I think of it, if i had been pulled over by the police I would have a good excuse for being late.

Being late at work is not a huge deal but when I come in I am letting someone go home. I don't want to make people wait; especially when they have been here all night. Also, when you are late there is some unwritten rule that you must bring in donuts. I always thought that was dumb. You are late, so you are supposed to stop, get donuts, be more late, and the people who get to eat the donuts does not include the person who had to wait for you. Do you see the flawed logic there? This is why I haven't been late, and I don't want to be.

The good thing is I am off Monday and Tuesday, work Wednesday, then my vacation starts! I'm not going anywhere, the kids have no summer program for two weeks before school starts, so I am home with them. What am I go to do for two weeks?! I know one thing I want to do; get my son's training wheels off. He's eager to do it but he is a little wobbly still. I think we can get that done in two weeks. Oh, I'm taking him to see Walking with Dinosaurs, too. Wow, that is expensive. He better like it. That's about all I have planned. Oh, I told my son I'd read him the first Harry Potter book. Is that too scary for a six year-old? I should have read it first to see. He may be spending some nights in bed with us.

That's pretty much my vacation. What can I say? I'm an exciting guy. I'm just going to be happy about not being at work. (Wow, what a concise sentence).