Sunday, August 30, 2009

ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #52: Laundry

Carly wants to see our laundry this week. Since we don't have any neat stacks of laundry, and I didn't want to show you our dirty laundry, I mostly did the extra credit portion of the assignment. It wasn't on purpose, though. I didn't realize I was only doing the extra credit portion when I took the photos. I guess I didn't remember what Carly's post said exactly.

Here's what I have for you.

This is the small shelf about the washer and dryer with all out washing accessories. Note the small pot that says "Hawaii vacation fund" on it. That is where we put the change from our pockets to help us save. Sure, based on how small it is we'd only have enough for two cheeseburgers in Hawaii, but it's something.

Next is our new laundry baskets. Aren't they exciting? Jenn just bought them a few weeks ago, that's why they are in such good shape.

Now that you've seen my pictures, head over to Carly's to see the rest.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Guess what I did today?

I'll give you a hint:

First opinion on Snow Leopard; Safari is noticeably faster. Version 4.0.3 that is. Now to go see what is broken. I hope nothing since I don't know how to fix anything.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weekend Assignment #281: Writers or Actors

Karen asks a good, but tough, question this week.

Weekend Assignment: #281: Who has a greater impact on your decision to go to a movie or watch a tv show, the actors you see on the screen, or the behind the scenes writers, producers and/or directors?

I've been thinking about this since I first read Karen's post this weekend. I don't think I have a real clear-cut answer.

I am leaning towards the writers and directors. As Karen says, they bring the idea to the show or movie. They create the world, the characters and most everything about a movie. Without them you would have people walking around and making stuff up the whole time. It would be the world's worst improv session.

Now, I'm not saying actors don't bring anything to a movie or TV show. I've watched plenty of movies where it would fall completely apart without the actor that was involved. Think about it, can you imagine anyone else besides Sigourney Weaver as Ripley? Try to imagine Kevin Kostner as Indiana Jones. It's doesn't work, does it? So, yes, actors can bring something to the table, so to speak. There needs to be the right chemistry to make the character work that was originally created on paper.

See, it comes back to the words. It always comes back to the words. So, my final answer is I pay more attention to the writes and directors. (Sorry, Millionaire is back on TV.) Now, can a writer or director make a bad movie? Oh yes, I think we all know that. I'm thinking of a few movies right now. Some that are pretty recent and made by legendary directors and writers. Can you guess? Search your feelings, you know the answer.

Extra Credit: Who is your favorite actor?

Wow, this is a tough question. I don't really have an all-time favorite. There is no actor out there that will make me see everything they have done. I will list a few that I like and have seen a few of their works. (Yes, I said works.) Let's see, Harrison Ford, Bill Murray, John Candy, that's all I have right now.

Now, go see what the others had to say over at Karen's site.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"I hate the first week of school"

The funny thing about the title is that the quote is not from the kids. Jenn said that tonight as we were watching Wipeout. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "Self, how could the first week of school be hard for the parents?" My answer is; you don't have kids, do you?

Let me explain. The first week brings a few things to stress about, especially if your kids are little. On the first day you have to make sure they get to the right room and, once they are there, that they stay there without crying or clinging to you like a baby lemur. (Lemurs cling, right?)

Not to mention that these kids haven't been to school in over two months. Do you think they are going to get up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6:30am? No. Even though you might have one child who gets up that time everyday during the summer and comes and wakes you up to feed him. That first week you will have to drag him out of bed. Literally, probably.

You know what is fun to do during that first week? Count how many times you say, "Please, put your clothes on!" Or some variation of that. Then count how many times you swear to yourself as you walk away. I swear one day I'm going to send them to school with their pajamas on when it's not pajama day. That'll show them.

The evenings are also fun. Even though they have been exhausted and laying partially comatose on the couch since they've been home from school, they are now way too awake to go to sleep. Or, better yet, they are too tired to go upstairs to sleep. Maybe they'll have enough energy after this last episode of Spongebob. And brushing teeth? Well, you may as well ask them to lift they house off the foundation. That would take about as much energy.

So, yes we are excited about this first week of school! Yay School! Woo!

I need to go lie down.

Monday, August 24, 2009

mini smoke monster

mini smoke monster
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
The other day we had a package arrive that was shipped with some dry ice. I attempted to teach kids about the science of dry ice and take some pictures. The kids ended up spending the next hour popping the bubble wrap. So much for science.

This was pretty much the only picture that turned out halfway decent. I took a lot. Believe me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #51: Candy

I'm back. These last two weeks have been busy with the kids summer program over and school not starting until Tuesday. But, I couldn't pass up taking pictures of my favorite candy for Carly's assignment this week.

This first photo was taken with my phone. I stopped at my mom's on the way to work to drop off the kids for a few hours and I took a couple M&M's with me to enjoy during my shift.

The following shot I used the macro setting to take a close up of a bowl of M&M's. I decided to do the closeup since I didn't have that many and it makes the bowl look full. I didn't use an effects, just tweaked the colors and brightness a bit in iPhoto.

That's all I have. I took a picture of a piece of cake, which I know isn't candy, but it didn't turn out well in the low light.

Go see what other people like to snack on over at Carly's page.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weekend Assignment #280: Volunteers

I wasn't sure how to start this post, I'm still not, because the Weekend Assignment might go away due to lock of participation. That's not good. If it wasn't for this I wouldn't have met anybody here on the Internet. So, if you have a blog and read this, think about joining in on Karen's page. Please.

Anyway, on to this week's assignment.

Weekend Assignment: #280: Have you ever been actively involved in a campaign or a cause, to the point of doing more than just donating or voting? Tell us about the phone calls, the food drive, the charity walk or other civic-minded work you've done, if any. And if you've never done this sort of thing, why not? (It's okay if you haven't - I'm just interested in the reasons.)
Extra Credit: Do you have a favorite charity? Which one?

The short answer is a sad no. I can't think of anything I've volunteered for. Maybe there is something that I can't remember, but I don't think so. But, I still have something to add.

I've never actively campaigned for a candidate or volunteered like Karen does, but I was part of one a long time ago. Back in the late 70's a family acquaintance was running for governor in Illinois. You know, back before Illinois had such a bar rap. Of course I was only eight at the time, so it may have and I just didn't know.

The only reason I remember this is because we got to be part of a commercial. We recruited the neighbor kids, since there was five of them, got all the kids in our family together, and we went to some school to record a question and answer segment. Yes, the kids were asking the questions. Obviously, in the final commercial there was no volume on us, instead there was a voice over about something to do with kids. He was high up in the education system so that was part of his platform. I should probably mention is name, don;'t you think. It was Mike Bakalis. He's got a Wikipedia page and everything, so you know I'm not making it up.

I don't remember a whole lot about it, though I seem to, but I do remember asking him what he was going to do if he didn't win. That right there is why they didn't bother to record what we were actually saying. Once the commercial stared running I kept hoping to see myself on TV. I never did. I saw some of the neighbors, my sister, and some other kids, but never me. I remember my parents telling me one of my aunts saw me, but I 'm sure they were lying. Too bad this was before the age of VHS, I could post a video of the commercial.

I can post this video, but it has nothing to do with me, so I don't care.

Check out the 70's hair. Also, check out the awesome 70's graphics. Can you imagine someone getting elected with something so boring now?

Sp, that's my story. Oh, and if Mike Bakalis is out there, hi. I had fun doing that commercial back in the day. Sorry you didn't win.

I don't really have a favorite charity, We kind of have a random donation policy in our house. I don't know if that is good our bad.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Are you ready for some football?!

Yeah, me neither. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching football, but my life doesn't revolve around watching it. I only watch our home team games.  Da' Bears!  Really, you have to say it like that. It's a rule around here, like not putting ketchup on a hot dog. I do that all the time, but I'm a rule-breaker.

Anyway, my point is that I'm less than excited about pre-season football. What's the point? The starters play 4 downs and then they are ripped to shreds by the sportscasters and fans. How can you possibly tell how good someone is going to be after watching them catch one ball, throw four passes, or tackle someone. Or in the case of the Bears, not tackle someone. Zing! See? Do you see what happens? And, like I said, I don't even care about pre-season football.

I understand why there is pre-season football, besides the lining of the pockets of the owners and NFL, the team needs some real game time to gel. I just don't see why I should care? Shouldn't all the team practices be televised then? Not to mention the fact that it is too early in the year to have football on TV. Football is supposed to be on TV when it is cool or just plain cold out, not 90 degrees. Summer goes too fast the way it is, let's not shorten it by getting ready for a fall/winter sport.

Do people use this to scout out their fantasy football teams? That is another thing I don't get. How can you possibly know enough players around the league to make a fantasy team and pay attention to all that? I see people with their spreadsheets with all their players and stats, setting up there line-up for the week. It's crazy. I bet most of these people don't put half the effort into projects for work, but they'll stay up until 1 am to make sure their team is set up just perfect. The funny thing, when you think about it, is some of these guys probably made fun of kids playing D&D when they younger. You know what? Fantasy football is essentially the same thing. Instead of creating characters and having a dungeon master, you pick players and have someone in charge of trading, etc. Same thing! Now you are the nerds! HA!

Since I'm on a roll, let's talk about college football. No, nothing against it either, I will watch my school play. But that is it. I don't get how people get into all these schools that they never went to, or lived near. I know several people that can talk about any Division 1 school in any conference. How do they have that extra brain space? Could they use that to develop cold fusion or something? I don't even know all the conferences; Big Ten, Pac-10, Pacman, Donkey Kong; that's all I can remember. How did I do?

Okay, I'm done. I need to go man up with something. Anybody know where I can wrestle a bear?

Oh boy, I hope nobody comes here looking for actual football talk.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My lips are dangerously cheesy

That's because I use Cheetos lip balm.

I'm not sure how this would taste as a lip balm. Would it taste okay for the first few minutes then eventually make you sick to your stomach?

Now, the Cinnabon lip balm is probably a different, more delicious story.

Through the wonder of the Internet I found a blog about different lip balms. I guess Chaptastic is the place to go for all your lip balm reviews.

I can't stop typing lip blam, instead of lip balm. Maybe I watched too many episodes of Batman as a kid.

Pow! Splat! Blammo!

That is all...

Cheeto lip balm image from here.

Look! I got a book in the mail!

This book came in the mail yesterday:

And I didn't have to pay for it.

Here's what happened. Jason Sanford, who wrote The Ships Like Clouds, Risen By Their Rain that is included in this collection, had a contest on his website. He was submitting a story to a magazine and he asked people to guess how long it would take to get a rejection. I thought that was an interesting contest, so I submitted my guess and, obviously, I won. I never win anything. Also, Jason was nice enough to sign it for me. Somehow I forgot to ask him if he would sign it, though I did remember after I knew that it was in the mail.

So now I have some new stuff to read, which is good since I'm almost done with the book I'm currently reading. Also, since Jason was nice enough to give the book away, I'll be sure to read his first. It looks like a good batch of stories.

I like these kind of contests. I think they are a great idea. To be honest, I didn't follow him before, I think I saw the contest on SF Signal, but now I do and I'll be more open to buying something from him in the future. It's all about good Internet karma. I know a lot of authors do this, and I hope they keep it up. It's an easy way to get more readers who will buy your stuff.

By the way, I seem to be more lucky on these kind of things then things like the lottery. It's nice to get some free books, but a few hundred million dollars would allow me to buy any book I want.

Anyway, go and check out Jason Sanford's site. Pointing you over there is the least I can do.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I got your Streptococcal right here!

No, really, I do. Or should I say our family does. Mainly the kids. I think the kids might be some kind of Patient Zero for some new strain of strep. Is that possible since it's a bacteria? Can our house be possessed by Streptococcal bacteria? Maybe they can't move on because they didn't get a fair fight against amoxcillin and they are pissed off. It's like some kind of odd Poltergeist thing happening in our house, expcept these little strep bastards keep coming back and attacking the kids instead of a tree breaking through the house or a TV sucking one of the kids inside. (What did I just say?)

Speaking of Poltergeist, do you remember that scene where the kids are in the room and everything is getting sucked into the gaping, ugly hole that was the closet? I remember being told something like the gross hole was inspired, or made to resemble, strep throat. I'm sure it wasn't, just like Mikey from the Life cereal commercials didn't die by eating Pop Rocks and Drinking Coke. He died by eating Mentos and Coke. Big difference.

Also, the are going to re-make Poltergeist, according to Wikipedia. And, let's face it, if you can't believe Wikipedia, you can't believe anything.

I completely forgot the point of this post.

Anyway, I haven't had strep throat, or anything like that in a long time. I do remember getting bad sore throats in college a few times. I was reminded of it when my daughter was crying about not wanting them to put the stick in her throat. I felt bad lying to her and saying it wasn't a big deal. See, one time when I had the test in college I grabbed the nurse's arm and pulled the stick out of my mouth. So, yes, I lied to my daughter, but it was for her own good. Also, did the doctors not have liquid penicillin when I was a kid? I seem to recall a few times have a very bad sore throat and having to swallow a giant horse pill. What was that about? Heck, when I was a kid I had to have my Tylenol smashed up in a spoon until I was 12. Okay, maybe not that old, maybe 11.

I guess the point of this post (not that I really think there is one anymore) is to stay away from our house for a while. Unless you have your own bio hazard suit.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm still here.

I know I haven't posted in the last few days, but it's been a busy weekend. I was working, Jenn had stuff she had to do, then our daughter got sick...again. This is the fifth episode of strep throat in our house this summer. What the hell! I think I need Dr. House's team to come through our house and see what's causing this.

Anyway, I was going to write a post while I was here at work, since the day was spent at the doctor's office, but a Big Cheese is here sitting close behind me. I need to look busy. It's hard to look busy with e-mail open so I'm doing this on my phone. Somehow that will make me look busy, right?

Okay, I have to go. How was your weekend?

Friday, August 7, 2009

When did we start keeping track of this?

I saw this image of the poster for Funny People and it really got me thinking. When did we start keeping track of which number film a particular writer/director is on?

Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Jupp Apatow. I like his movies. I'm a big fan of Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, and he seems like a decent guy. He really does. But I don't know why I need to know which number film of his were are on.

Did we always do this? I first remember hearing this when the commercials started for Quentin Tarantino's last movie. "The fourth film by Quentin Tarantino," the voice announced. Really? Number four? My how time has passed. Wait, let me open up my spreadsheet. Okay, so this is number four for Mr. Tarantino, he only has about 30 more to catch up to Speilberg. He needs to get moving. Also, do I need separate columns for producing credits? What about any scripts he's only punched up uncredited? And why didn't they say which number it is for Inglorious Basterds? I'm going to lose count if they don't keep telling me!

If I ever get a new job I'm going to make sure that I put which number job this will be for me on my resume. That will really get future bosses interested.

Am I the only one that thinks this is stupid?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Weekend Assignment #278: It's blogging time

This week Karen asks a simple question; when do you blog?

Weekend Assignment: #278: How often do you blog? Do you try to maintain a schedule, or just blog when you're inspired and have the time? How do memes affect your blogging habits?
Extra Credit: Are you blogging more or less often now than you were a year ago?

Simple, right?

Well, for me, there isn't a straight up answer. I certainly don't have a schedule. I pretty much blog when I can, or when I have something I want to say. I participate in Karen's Weekend Assignments, but I don't have a certain day that I do them. That's why I'm writing this at 10pm when I should be going to bed. That's dedication for you, people.

I also participated into Carly's photo shoots, but I don't have a preset day that I post those either. A lot of this is due to my work schedule. Sometimes I work on weekends, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I work during the day, other times at night. It doesn't make for a good consistent blogging schedule. I don;t post often from work, but sometimes I will post something via e-mail. It all depends on how busy the day is.

For the extra credit; I'd have to say I blog a bit less. I don't do something everyday, but I try. I blame Twitter for some of my lack of posts. Sometimes I can just say something really quickly. Plus, it's a good way to put off doing other things. Like work.

What about you? What is your blogging schedule, if you have one?

Full moon yesterday

full moon
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
Did you go out an howl at it like me?

Monday, August 3, 2009

We didn't win The Great Urban Race, but we had fun

This past weekend Jenn and I participated in The Great Urban Race in Chicago. It was a a lot of fun, a little frustrating and a tad tiring as well.

As you can see here, there were a lot of people in Cubby Bear where we met up. We were told there were over 500 two-man teams. It seemed like a lot more as we were trying to fight our way to get the clues.

I should explain a bit about the race, in case you are too lazy to click the above link. That's okay, I would be too. It's basically a giant scavenger hunt. We got a list of 12 clues that were either tasks we had to complete, riddles to unravel, or things to find. Many of them required photographs to prove that the particular task was completed. No honor system when money is on the line. Also, that means you'll actually see pictures of me and Jenn here. Amazing!

This was a team event so you had to have a team name as well as a costume or same shirt. We didn't want to do a costume, though we came close. Our team name was The Greatest American Heroes, as you may recall, that had something to do with our shirts we (meaning me) chose for the event. There were quite a few in costumes; we saw some Smurfs, Doc and Marty from Back to the Future, and some chefs. It was fun to see the innocent bystanders on the streets looking at all of us as we ran up and down the streets of Chicago. Many would point, and many asked what the hell we were doing. Though, as can be expected, some people found it annoying. At least they seemed annoyed. Those people were probably a blast at parties.

After we got our clues we ran over to the Taco Bell next door to plan our attack. We were armed with pens, my iPhone, a laminated sheet to put the clue sheet in, and we read through the clues to find where everything was located. We found all the ones closest to where we were, numbered them in order that we should do them, then headed out. Looking back on it later we realized we should have done it a bit differently, but I'll get to that later.

I'll just hit some highlights for you. I don't want to bore you to death.

The first thing we hit was the tattoo shop. No, we didn't have to get a tattoo, well not a permanent one at least. I had to put on of those temporary tattoos the kids get in cereal boxes on my face. It wasn't difficult, but we didn't have water to get it wet so we ran to the Walgreen's on the corner to buy a bottle to get it wet. The first one didn't work, that's why it looks like I have dirt on one side of my face.

We had to play charades at Comedy Sportz down the road from the tattoo shop. Jenn made me act it out, she thinks I'm better at acting the things out. I think she just wanted me to make a fool out of myself in front of the other people. Luckily, there weren't too many people there besides us racers. The answer was horse, by the way. It wasn't too hard. I'm glad it wasn't a Pictionary contest. I suck at drawing.

At Chicago's Dog House Jenn had to feed me a hot dog. Not a big deal. It was a good char-dog too. I only put ketchup on it. I'm a bad Chicago native.

While we were there some customers asked us what we were doing. So we told them a little about the race. The thought it was interesting, then I happened to notice the lady's shirt. It was a tie-dye shirt. One of our clues was to take a picture of a real person wearing a real tie-dye shirt. In other words, someone not in the race. What a stroke of luck. She was very nice and let us take a picture of her. I'm not going to put it here since I didn't ask her, plus it was pretty blurry.

This clue we had a problem with. It was a riddle and we just didn't get it. Luckily some other team helped us out. Here's the riddle:

Mr. Reynolds is odd. He likes balloons but doesn't like parties. He likes books but doesn't like reading. He likes weeds but doesn't like flowers. He likes swimming but doesn't like water. He likes letters but doesn't like words. He likes noodles but doesn't like pasta sauce. He likes apples but doesn't like plums. He likes coffee but doesn't like tea.

According to the pattern in the riddle, take a picture of all teammates in front of a street sign the Mr. Reynolds would Like.

I'll put the answer at the end. It seems obvious to me now, at probably to you too, but in the heat of the battle, it was over our heads.

After a few more clues in the Lincoln Park and Wrigley area, we had to head to the loop on the 'L'. Neither Jenn or I are well versed in the use of the 'L' so this was the most stressful part of it. Especially when some nice person had us go on the wrong train to head downtown. Luckily we realized that after the first stop, but it still slowed us down. I'm pretty sure she was paid off by one of the other teams. I think we were a big threat out there.

Nothing too exciting happened downtown, for the most part. We had to count the flags at The Palmer House Hilton, then head to Daley Plaza to take a picture in front of this statue. We had a little trouble figuring out where to go. We got all turned around for some reason. Luckily two other teams were there heading the same way. We helped each other out.

The finale, for us, was to head to Daley Bicentennial Plaza and complete three challenges. We had to do a crab walk, leap frog and wheelbarrow across three (yes, three!) tennis courts. I haven't done any of these activities since grade school! The crab walk went okay, though my abs were a little tight by the end, the leap frog was a little better, but the wheelbarrow was the killer. Jenn was holding my legs while I walked on my hands. Let me tell you, I have muscles that hurt that I didn't remember I had. Like the muscle under my shoulder blade and my fingers. I was pretty wiped after that. Not to mention that we had already walked and jogged a few miles by this point.

We made our way back to the 'L' to go to the finish line at Cubby Beat. This was about 3 pm, or so. Not too late since the game ended at 5pm. Well, it wasn't our day. It turned out that there was construction going on this week on the 'L', so we sat for about 30-40 minutes on one train, not going anywhere, then we had to wait at least 20 minutes, of not longer, for our transfer. It kind sucked the fun out of the whole game. There were plenty of other teams in the same predicament as us, and nobody was very happy. I hate construction season!

We did make it back before 5:00pm, but not by much. All we had time to do was check in, get or pictures checked and head to the car so we could pick up Quincy. Then we headed to Jenn's parents to get the kids and go home and have a take out dinner at 8:00pm. We were quite tired after all that, but it was a lot of fun. I recommend it to anyone who lives near one of those towns that have this race. We will probably do it next year. Maybe next time we'll win. Watch out suckers!

Also, next year we are going to do the parts in the Loop first, I think it would have been quicker.

The answer to the riddle was any name that had double letters. Ugh, we are stupid.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #48: Landmarks

Carly is looking for some landmarks this week. Jenn and I were downtown for The Great Urban Race (more on that in a separate post), so I was able to get a couple from the city.

The first one I think many of you will know right away:

Especially since the sign gives it away.

I'm not sure which building this is, sad I know, but I've always liked the way it curves as it goes up, like it's going to fall on you.

This picture isn't on the right side to give that illusion, but you can see what I mean. There wasn't enough time to go around the building, and there was construction around it as well.

Again, not sure which buildings these are, the foreground are definitely residences, but I liked how the older building was peaking through from this vantage point.

That's all I have for this week, go check out the other's at Carly's site.