Thursday, December 30, 2010

Post Christmas Post

So, yes, Christmas is over. I remember always being so bummed when Christmas was all over as a kid. Sure, I had all the toys to play with, but the anticipation was all gone. Also, school was just around the corner. Now it's more of a relief when Christmas is over, especially when you have to host Christmas day. We don't cook all that much, and since it was Christmas we couldn't order out, so that makes us worry a little bit. Luckily my mom brought a ham that just had to be heated up, we made some pasta (I can do that) and we had some au gratin potatoes that needed to be cooked in the oven. Easy as pie. Speaking of pie, as usual we had way too many desserts.

Yes, that is a present cake with and edible bow. No, I didn't make it. See above.

But, what is Christmas about if not to over-indulge in treats? Oh yeah, gifts. I got to stay up until 1:30am on Christmas Eve to put together our daughter's Barbie townhouse. See, Toys R Us were nice enough to ship it to us in the regular box so when I picked up the kids from school one day it was sitting in front of the door for her to see. We tried to play it off that it might not be for here, but she wouldn't have it. Luckily, a friend at work came up with the idea that I put it together the night before and leave a note from Santa saying he had to drop it off early so his elves could come and put it together. She totally bought it. Kids.

The kids did let us sleep a little late on Christmas which was nice, but that meant Jenn and I were scrambling around all day to get things ready. I had actually just come home from picking up sushi, for an appetizer, when my mom and sister showed up. Of course my mom's first words were about the driveway being slippery, but she came early to get the ham going, so what could I say? Overall it worked out well. I think everyone had a good time.

On to other stuff. Because everyone else was doing it, I started a Tumblr blog. Or is it just a Tumblr? I don't know what all I'm going to put up there, but if this space is any indication, you know it is going to be awesome.

Also, if anyone is interested in joining our Flickr group go here and send me a message and I'll put you in. It's not an every day thing, but at least once a week. It should be fun; it was last year.

That's all for now. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

How to stay alive on Christmas

Sure, the whole zombie thing is getting played out lately, but I wanted to share this anyway.

Merry Christmas! Watch out for the undead!

(Seen on SF Signal)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Things annoying me this week

I'm working the midnights shift for the next two weeks so I'm extra cranky and irritable. Merry Christmas! Anyway, due to less sleep and messed up circadian rhythm, some things are bothering me more than usual. So let me share my complaints with you.

Let's start with the an easy one; The War on Christmas. I'm tired of hearing about this supposed problem. Is it really that big of a deal when people, or stores, say Happy Holidays when you are in the middle of at least three holidays? What about the war on Chanukah? I don't hear anyone wishing people Happy Chanukah in the stores or anything (When it is going on that is). I don't hear Jewish people complaining. You know who cares about this? The idiots on cable TV news. It's a (moderate) ratings grabber. You know, the poor people aren't going to enjoy Christmas because some one wishes them Happy Holidays. Won't somebody think of the children?

I will say this, if you are a priest or pastor and you are a little upset about how commercialized Christmas is, I'm fine with that. That makes sense to me. If you are on a cable news station, shut up already.

Moving on to a lighter topic; stupid football graphics during the games. Actually, all I'm talking about is the images of the players. (Don't even get me started on the stupid robot football player on FOX.) When did we decide it was a good idea to take the stock athlete photo and make it a moving image? I find it a little creepy when they show, what I think is a photo of the player with all his stats, and he blinks. I don't know why it bothers me, but I think it reminds me of every horror movie where someone is staring into a mirror and all of a sudden the image moves. When I was watching some of Patriots vs Green Bay game on Sunday they had a little thumbnail of Tom Brady with his stats and he suddenly licked his lips. Why didn't somebody edit that out? Who thought it was a good idea to leave that in? Oh, and what about when they have the guys do the thing where they are looking down then lift their head to look at the camera. Is this "America's Next Top Football Model?" Let's just go back to the old style "action photo" where the guys are all wearing headbands and are in the Heisman Trophy pose, okay?

I'm on a roll now.

I'd also like to complain about ear buds. I'm on of those people who have ears that can't hold the standard ear buds in. It is very annoying to sit at work and try to listen to music while working but I can't move my head at all or one of the buds will pop out. And forget about eating with them in, the chewing motion basically shoots them out of my ear. If the weren't tethered to my iPod I'd be worried they'd shoot across the room.

Today I tried to use some in-ear headphones we have. They aren't bad headphones, but they dampen so much outside noise that I can hear everything going on inside my head. I didn't realize how much noise your mouth makes when you drink water. Also, typing and not being about to hear they keys bothers me.

I have serious problems, don't I?

You know, I should stop right here. I don't want anyone to think I'm a nutcase (anymore than you already do). Besides, I have stuff to do.


Grandpa Simpson

Friday, December 17, 2010

Parents, this is why you don't give your kids clothes for Christmas

Actually, I'm not sure if this is from Christmas or my birthday since the back of the photo just says 1980. Also, since my birthday is in February, it is usually still cold so the fireplace would be going then too. But, just look at this picture, you can tell I'm loving this gift.

Jenn and I were trying to figure out if the shirt is made from terry cloth or velour. It's hard to tell from the photo and the color doesn't help. If it was a nice blue or red you'd see the shine that velour gives off. Now, the shirt I'm wearing in the picture is definitely velour. I actually remember that shirt. I wore it a lot, as I did with a lot of clothes back then that I liked. Hell, I do the same thing now.

How about that watch? I remember I really wanted a watch with those flexible metal bands when I was younger. I didn't think so at the time, but isn't that a girl's watch? Look at the size of the face. I think I got it from my dad, if I'm not mistaken, he probably got me the smaller one since they didn't have a kids version. It's not like he wanted me to wear something meant for girls. At least I don't think so.

Now look at my hair. Believe me when I say I could care less about my hair, I go to Hair Cuttery for Pete's sake, but what is with the sideburns? If you can call them that. Maybe it was just longer on the sides. But how do my ears show? We won't even go into the front of my hair. I have many cowlicks in my hair so it always looks funky if it is too long or tow short. Basically, I have one day of good hair. That is why where baseball caps as often as possible. It's so much easier.

My grandmother seems happy with the gift. Well, knowing how she was, she was probably laughing at me. She was always laughing. She was a lot of fun. My sister, who is ten years older than me, used to go out with her on the weekends sometimes. She was a hoot, as they say.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this awesome photo that Jenn found. You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cold Mornings

I don't have much too say except that it has been a little chilly here lately. Not as bad as those who live in Minnesota and other more northern states, but when you drive to work and the thermometer says 1, it is cold. And I'm a wimp.

I took this from the parking lot at work. You can tell it is chilly by how much steam is being generated. Doesn't it look cold?

Oh, quick funny story. The other day our son took over my spot in bed after I got in the shower to get ready for work. I didn't know he went in there and neither did Jenn. Well, for some reason Jenn woke up and looked at the clock (I think it was Sunday) and it said 7am, the time that my shift started. So, thinking that it was me, she pushed our son and said, "Mike," trying to wake me up. He sat up and looked at her like, "what's your problem" then went back to sleep.

I thought it was funny.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fall into Winter

Fall into Winter
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
Do you think the snow is really deep and there is a full tree buried under here?

Or, do you think this is just a leaf stuck in a measly 2 inches of snow that is mostly gone now since it was warm yesterday?

I probably gave it away by adding too much description to the second one. Damn.

Tomorrow we are expecting a blizzard. We should only get about 4-6 inches of snow, but the winds are going to be close to 45MPH with blowing snow and visibility less than a mile. So glad I have to go to work tomorrow. If you live anywhere in the Midwest tomorrow, stay safe!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

About ten years ago Jenn and I went on a vacation to Maui. While were were there we went on a tour of a lava tube near the town of Hana. It was really cool walking around under ground and seeing how the lava had carved out a path through the earth. At one point on the tour the guide took us to a little nook in the tube and had us turn off all our lights so we could experience the full dark of being under ground. Let me tell you, it was odd and a little freaky. I couldn't see a thing, even my hand right in front of me. Stephen King's new book, Full Dark, No Stars is darker than this cave.

I'm not saying it was scary, not at all really, basically King is exploring the darkest parts of the human heart and mind. Only one story actually had a supernatural element, too. Any of these stories could happen and King takes you on a journey of what it might be like to live through them.

The first story, 1922, takes place on a farm in rural Nebraska owned by Wilfre and Arlette James. Actually, the story is in the form of a confession written a few years later, but this is where the story takes place. Wilfred is a born and bred farmer, his wife didn't care much for the farming life, and finds out how far he will go to keep farming and also to keep the big corporate farmers out away from his land. 

We find out early that Arlette is willed 100 acres of farm land that is right next to their current farm. She wants to sell it and move to the big city of Omaha. Wilf wants nothing to do with city life and ends up enlisting his son to help him kill Arlette and hid the body so the deal that she signed with the Big Farm falls through. But that is only the beginning of the story. The rest is made up of the disaster his life turns into because he didn't want to move. I won't say much of what happens, but it's one thing after another that leaves him ready to commit suicide. All because he didn't want to move to the big city. 

Big Driver is a revenge tale. Tess is an author who ends up getting raped and left for dead on the way home from a book group meeting. Eventually she ends up tracking down the rapist, his mother, and brother and taking them all out as she deduces, possibly correctly, that they were all in on it. She wasn't the only victim, by the way. The culvert she was left in contained the decaying bodies of other women. Tess decides it's best to take things into her own hands and not get the cops involved. I found myself rooting for her. 

Fair Extension is the one story with a supernatural element that I mentioned earlier. Basically, it's a deal with the devil story. Dave Streeter is in the near final stages of terminal cancer when he notices a guy on the side of the road selling Fair Extensions. The man, George Elvid, offers a life extension, but obviously there is a price. Streeter has to pay him 15 percent of his salary for the rest of his life, but also has to help to  balance the negative weight that is lifted off his life. Streeter has to give Elvid a person to shift this negative weight to; someone Streeter hates. After some thought he gives Elvid his best friend since grammar school. A guy he has helped with all his school work, lost his first crush to, and a man who just seemed to fall into money by running a garbage business. 

As you can expect this man's life falls apart and Streeter gets to see it first hand. As more and more misery falls to his friend, the more his friend comes to Streeter and says how he is glad Streeter has been there for him. Streeter doesn't necessarily enjoy it, but he doesn't try to stop it. Not the best story of the bunch, but it's a quick read. 

The last story is A Good Marriage. What would you do if you found out your husband led a secret life? What if that other life included him being a killer? Not a cool secret agent operative killer type, but a cold twisted serial killer? Would you tell anyone? Would you be able to stay if he said he'd stop like he did for 16 years after you were first married? Would anyone believe you if you said you didn't know? Yes, that is a lot of questions, sorry. But those are all the things, and more, that Darcy has to work through. I won't say much more about the story, but I was satisfied with the ending. 

None of these stories are super original, but here is another book where King does the deep character study type thing that he does so well. As I was reading I wondered if asked himself what he would do if he was the main character in each story. I know that authors do that most times, the thing is, what were his answers? What are yours? 

Yes, if you couldn't tell, I recommend this book. Just make sure you are in a good mood when you start. You don't want to be depressed before you start reading this book. 


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The First Snow of 2010-2011

We had our first snow this weekend. It wasn't as bad as predicted, but it made some things look nice. See:

There are Elk in the woods here. I guess they are mascots in a way since the town is called Elk Grove. As soon as I went to the fence one started walking towards me. He probably thought I had some food, I didn't and your not allowed to feed them anyway. The Elk should know that by now.

Happy Winter!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I stopped to take a picture and thought I was going to get busted

I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but I wanted to post the final product here, so you may be reading this again. If at all.

For a while now I've wanted to stop and take a picture of these shopping carts that were tossed into the drainage ditch next to the road near my house. They've been there forever, but with a recent downpour they had been shoved together and closer to a parking lot. Not to mention they looked even more depressing with all the crud that they accumulated with all the water rushing past them.

So yesterday I decided I'd stop and snap a few quick photos while on the way to get the kids at school. Like I said they were lying in the ditch right off the parking lot so it was easy access, but I also knew I'd people driving by would be wondering what I was doing. Sure enough, I could see the people driving by giving me weird looks. Then, after snapping two quick shots I noticed a cop car pulled into the lot. You can see him coming in this shot.

I wasn't sure what he was going to say. I wasn't trespassing, but I wasn't sure if he'd give me a hard time for walking down there. He asked me if everything was okay, saw my camera then gave me 'the look' and asked if I was taking artsy-fartsy pictures. I said yes. He was fine with it and asked me what camera I had and proceeded to tell me what he used and told me about a neat monopod-tripod combo thing her had just ordered. So, he was just as cool (nerdy) as me. We talked for a couple of minutes then he said he'd let me get back to shooting. I was happy to have this experience since I read about people getting harassed when taking pictures sometimes. True, that usually happens in big cities and not in the suburbs, but it was still good to know I don't have to worry about walking around in odd spots with my camera.

Anyway, this was the shot I decided to keep.

The funny thing is there the TJ Maxx is not close to this spot at all. Did someone walk a few miles with there clothes they bought?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My stepmom has some cool old things at her house

We went to my dad's house tonight for our annual holiday party. We always celebrate on the Saturday after Thanksgiving since it is usually the easiest day to get everybody together. Of course, this year I almost had to miss it due to work, but that is another story all together. (If you are repeating that line right now like in "Airplane," Good job!)

We had a good time, even if we are all exhausted. I'm staying up with the dogs right now since they've been home alone for a while. Hopefully this means they won't wake us up at 6:30 in the morning. I'm sure they will anyway.

Anyway, the whole reason I started this post was to show you a couple of picture of things from my step mom's collection o' stuff. She has a lot of cool old things, not all antiques in the sense that they've been restored, but a lot of old cool knick knacks that have been around for a long time. For some reason I've taken a liking to this kind of thing. I don't know why, but when I find something old and worn I want to take a picture of it. If I wanted to, I could probably spend a week photographing all the cool things that my step mom has collected.

Take a look at this matchbox. First, ignore the blurriness, it wasn't very well lit in the basement.

This doesn't have a date on it, but look at that phone number. It's only five digits. I like how it says to check bleeding of small cuts and scratches. I wonder if the matches will work, or explode in my hand.

Next are some funky hangers.

Cool designs, don't you think? I think the text on the top one is in German, but I'm not positive. Using my awesome researching skills, I see that the Hotel St. Moritz was built in 1930. I'm not saying the hanger is from that same year, I'm just pointing that out. I bet I wouldn't get those stupid shoulder nipples on my clothes if I used these hangers.

There is a ton of other stuff at the house. I'm going to try to get a picture of something every time I go. I saw at least three old cameras. I don't know what kind they are since I'm not up on camera history, but they looked neat.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Last Thanksgiving

I don't know if anyone will find this note. I hope so. I hope I'm not writing this down for nothing. If you find this, please pay attention. It may all be over by now, but I feel like I need to write this down so we can learn and not make the same mistakes.

I don't know how many people have died in the the Great Thanksgiving Massacre. We are still trying to figure that out. Most of our normal communications have been taken down, the underground creatures took care of that, so it's hard to get an accurate number. But, we are guessing a good two-thirds of the country has been wiped out. Maybe not all by the initial attacks, but once it started and panic set it, people started attacking each other in order to get supplies. I guess that is not unexpected.

So, what happened? It started with the turkeys. Yes, turkeys. You know all the hormones and drugs that we used to give them that PETA and all the hippies got upset about, well turns out they were right. All those chemicals ended up making them smart. Not as smart as humans or anything, but get hundreds of them together and some kind of hive mind thing happens. I don't know all the details, but that is our best guess at what happened. Someday maybe I'll be able to get a scientist to verify that.

Now, the turkeys couldn't do it all on their own, of course, most were on farms and trapped. But they devised had a plan. They managed to get other animals involved. Animals outside the farms. Over the last few years the stories of wild animals venturing into towns and cities had increased, but we didn't pay much attention. We thought they were running out of space and food and had come to find more. We were wrong. It was a test. they wanted to see how easy it was; how would we react.

We aren't sure how the turkeys got the other animals to help, but we think they got some of the same hormones into them. Maybe they sacrificed some of themselves to other animals wondering around the farms? I don't know exactly how. Hell, it could have been in their shit that was washed away into local streams.

We knew we were in trouble the day before Thanksgiving. The president was on TV with the celebrity turkey he was going to pardon, but it didn't go as planned. As he spoke to the audience, and just after he pardoned the turkey, a pack coyotes came out of nowhere and attacked the press and president. At first everyone laughed and thought it was funny. I think it was one of the biggest YouTube videos ever. Then all Hell broke loose.

Stories came in of bear attacks in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Radio stations and cell phone service started going down as squirrels and beavers chewed through cables and towers. Next came the TV stations, which must have been harder due to the satellites. Eventually all communication went down. Then gas stations started blowing up as underground gas tanks were chewed through. Power lines started falling as birds up in the wires took them down.

Then the widespread animal attacks came. The domesticated dogs tried to help, but they were out-numbered. The cats, well, you know cats. They didn't really care. The riots started soon after. People were killing people for food, water, beer and whatever else they thought they needed. The national guard tried to help out, but were eventually overwhelmed by the crowds of panicked people, not to mention the packs of animals coming out to attack. The biggest problem turned out to be the little animals. You never think about how much damage rats, mice and squirrels can do until they band together.

Most of the chaos is over now. I don't hear anyone outside. I don't hear guns or any other weapons. I also don't hear any animals. For the last few days I could hear the skittery-scratching noises of something trying to get down here. I was sure I had blocked off all entry points with thick scrap metal I found, but didn't know how well it would work. They got into the gas tanks, didn't they? I'm lucky I found this old bomb shelter. I was pretty sure that the old school house had one, as many buildings did back in the 50's, but I wasn't sure if it was sealed off a long time ago. I feel bad about locking other people out, but there was nobody around when I found this place. I couldn't sit around with the door opening while the world was falling down around me. Every man for themselves, right?

So, I guess this note is a warning. Watch the turkeys, they are smarter than we think thanks to all the drugs we've given them. Don't trust them. Also, don't let the president pardon them next time. If we get a next time.

I think I can survive here for a few weeks, but eventually I'll need to go out. I hope the bodies in the roads are cleaned up. I hope the animals are gone.

So, um, Happy Thanksgiving. I thought I'd put this up to make you feel less guilty about eating today. Turkeys are evil you know. Mind you, this is something I threw together with minimal editing (obviously) while I was at work. I don't know made me think of  the great turkey uprising, but it seemed silly enough to put here. By the way, I'm not a vegetarian, as this may make me look. I love meat.

Hope you had a great day!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Link-o-rama or, how I survived this week of midnights

I'm finally don with my week of midnight shifts. Having to work six of them was brutal, to say the least. I know I am awake just as many hours as any other shift, if not more, but it doesn't feel like it. I seems all I do is wake up, eat and come to work, but there are many other hours in the day that I don't remember. Oh, no! Do I need to go on Jesse Ventura's conspiracy show to see where that missing time went? Or, more likely, do I need to sleep like a normal person? I don't know how people work this shift on a regular basis. You people are like superheroes, or something.

Anyway, I wanted to share a few links of things that have kept me sane this week.

We'll start with podcasts. The first one I want to mention is Extra Hot Great. It's run by David T. Cole, Tara Ariano and Joe Reid and it's a fun pop culture blog with TV, movies, games and, well, all the things that make up pop culture, duh. The only problem with listening to it at work is forgetting you are not alone and almost shouting out answers to the questions in the games. Just listen, you'll see what I mean.

I've also caught up with a few of the DVD commentaries from the Film Pigs featuring Stephen Falk, Stephen Skelton and Todd Robert Anderson. Warning, some language is not safe for work. Actually, most of it isn't. Now, technically, since they are DVD commenttaries you should listen to them while watching the movie, but it is not needed if you know the movies. Or even if you haven't since sometimes they go off on tangents that don't have a lot to do with the movie, but they are always entertaining. They also post movie reviews which are more entertaining and honest than what you will read in a newspaper.

After my first midnight shift I listened to the most recent Functional Nerds podcast as I tried to get rid of a nasty midnight shift induced headache. This particular episode was perfect for me. Patrick Hester and John Anealio talked to author Kevin J. Anderson about his Terra Icognita books and the Rosewell Six albums that go along with these books. It's an interesting idea. He writes the lyrics for the albums with his wife and they have these great musicians play on the CDs. I haven't checked out the CDs yet, but I am intrigued.

I've also vegged out with some classic episodes, as they all are now since the show is off the air, of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Nothing is better than watching an episode of MST3K when you are too tired to think and your brain is a bowl of mush.

I've also watched the first season of Frisky Dingo. I've never seen the show but I decided to check it out after hearing them talk about it on Extra Hot Great. That is one strange, fun show. I don't even know how describe it, really. Just got to iTunes and check out an episode. You won't regret it. Better yet, it looks like you can watch them on Adult Swim's website. The link above will take you there.

Lastly, I want to mention Spock's Beard. I finally bought their latest album, X, and I'm really enjoying it so far. So far I think it is their best since Neal Morse left the band. Good stuff.

I don't know if I've ever written a post with so many links. Hope you find something you like.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The problem with cable TV

Okay, I think I'm going to go into full Andy Rooney mode here, I can feel it. But, for those of you with cable or satellite TV, do you think we've reached to point where there are just too many channels to fill up with programming? Don't get me wrong, a lot of the cable channels are putting out some great programing. Hell, some are putting out shows better than the traditional networks, but I'm not talking about those channels. Though, I wonder how AMC can put on a show like Mad Men and follow it up with a movie like Mannequin. (I don't know if they really ever did it, but their idea of classics is starting to slip into the bowels of bad 80's movies).

Let's put some example out there. We can start with the History Channel. Again, they put out some quality shows on, well, history. But, have you ever watched their shows UFO Hunters or Ancient Aliens? Yes, they are real shows. Now, I'm not going to say that the History Channel can only shows about some historical events, but UFOs? Now, I would cut them slack if they were following up on investigations from Project Bluebook or something like that, but that's not the show. these guys out to investigate sightings, which some are historic I guess, and try to see if it was really a UFO or something else. Here's the problem, if they can't find evidence that something is not a UFO they assume that only explanation is a UFO. Sure, the talk to experts sometimes, but they never take their suggestions, especially when they don't have a definitive answer. It's a really frustrating show.

The other show, Ancient Aliens, at least follows their whole History Channel name, but that's all it follows. Once again, all the "experts" (I'm using the quotes on purpose) are a basically believers that aliens came here thousands of years ago and either taught us everything or had some kind of breeding program that created us in a sense. It's ridiculous show. Every ancient text they find that mentions something in the sky is automatically an alien coming to visit. Don't ask me why I watch these shows, but it make me want to throw things at the TV.

Remember when you could turn on TLC and learn something? Well, something useful? Now a majority of the programming is about people who have had a tremendous amount of kids (or wives), those who don't know they are pregnant or those buried under garbage that is probably due to their kids. Though I will say the hoarders show can be interesting, but that was a take off on the other hoarders show on another channel.

Which leads me to another problem, they all copy each other's shows. How many shows are there about building some rad motorcycle? (Yes, I sad rad, what of it? It's 1:00am and I can't stop typing. Help.) Then you have Pawn Stars on History Channel (which I kind of like) which begat Hard Core Pawn on TruTV. Do we need more than one show on pawn shops? I know there is some cool stuff out there that people find in their basements, but shouldn't they be going to an auction anyway?

Which leads me to the show that starting me thinking about this. I was flipping through the channels the other day and stopped on TruTV. I don't know if I've ever watched this channel before, but do you know that Jesse Ventura has a show on TruTV? It's about conspiracy theories. Now, you would think, he's been a governor of a whole state before, this show must be him debunking conspiracy theories. Well, you would be wrong. Either this guy is a little nutty and totally into these things, or he's a much better actor than we all thought after watching Predator?

I watched most of the episode about the theory the the government pulled off 9/11. What did I learn, besides the obvious about Mr. Ventura? Well, according to him, this was pulled off by the government so they could pass the Patriot Act and go to war. Yes, they demolished 4 planes, several buildings and killed thousands of people to approve wire tapping and to go after a terrorist that they could have just gone after anyway? UGH! If you know anything about me, which you may not, I have very strong feelings about 9/11 and when some idiot throws crap out there like this, it drives me insane. Especially when this guy used to be a governor! I know being from Illinois I can't speak much about bad governors, but what they Hell were you people thinking in Minnesota?

Okay, I've rambled on enough. Like I said, there is a lot of good stuff to watch out there, but there is too much bad. If you have any good examples, let me know. I'm sure there are some bad shows out there I haven't seen.

As I said earlier, I'm on the midnight shift, so if something doesn't make sense I have a good excuse.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Annoying bugs

Warning: Photos of bugs ahead. In case you don't like that sort of thing.

So these guys like to bask in the sun on the side of our house.

They are Boxelder bugs, not a big deal, but they are annoying. When we first moved into the house about 7 years ago, we would find these things in the house a lot once spring came. The creeped me out at first, but once I found out what they were, I was just annoyed. Luckily, a quick call to a bug guy got rid of them pretty quickly. He also sprayed the outside of the house so they would stop suntanning on our house. More often than not, I'd find one of these guys on his back outside the front door kicking his tiny legs. I wouldn't put him out of his misery; I wanted to make sure his friends saw what would happen if they messed with my house.

They haven't come around much the last several years, but since we got new siding this summer they are back. We lost that nice coating of chemicals that kept them away, I guess. I think they were waiting, too. It seemed like they came back less than a week after the new siding was up. Bastards!

I probably won't do anything about it now since winter is coming, but come spring, these guys are going to need to find a new house to lounge on.

Yes, you better run away.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I've decided to drop the word shit from the title. You know, for the kids. (Actually, I'm too lazy to keep typing it out.

Today we move into the bathroom of my mom's house. Remember Plax? The pre-brushing rinse? I want to say it came out in the 80's, but I can't be sure. Here is a commercial from 1990 to jar your memory.

So, maybe it came out in 1990? Tough to say. But, you see that bottle? Yep, that is the same one in my mom's linen closet. Take a look.

One thing that you won't notice in the commercial is the extra stuff floating in this bottle. What is it? Spores of some kind? Dead Cavity Creeps? Here's a close-up of them.

It's nice to know if you keep this stuff for 20+ years in closet something will grow in the bottle. It's like a science experiment for your linen closet. Anyone work in a lab who wants a sample of this stuff? Anyone want to drink it? I'll give you a dollar.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shit in my mom's house #2

I have spices again, but I think these are pretty good. When I go to my mom's again this week I'll try to find more stuff. Sometimes finding the old stuff in my mom's house is the best part about visiting.

First up, freeze dried chives. Are chives always freeze dried? I know very little about spices. All I know is these are some old freeze dried chives. Take a look at the bottle:

That's an old-school font and colors definitely are. Any guess on this date on the bottom of the bottle? I'll give you a hint. The year was a big deal here in America. Many coins were minted especially for this year.

Yep, 1976. Those are some bicentennial chives right there. But, is that the expiration date? If so, how old are they? I imagine that a freeze dried chive can last a long time, right? Was that the purpose of freeze drying stuff? Long shelf life? And, also to lock in the flavor of Floger's Crystals. Hell, these things could be from the sixties for all we know. Anybody have some carbon dating equipment we can use to pin it down?

I have one more to share. This one is cloves. I decided to combine these to items since I used to get these two things confused when I was younger. Take a look at the box. It's got to be pre-1970, right?

I don't have a date, but this stuff cost 21 cents. You can't even get a gum ball for that, and yet you used to be able to buy a whole box of cloves to stick in a ham. Or, whatever you do with them.

I bet if I search hard enough I could find an old Twinkie at my mom's house. Dare me to eat it?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Look at me!

Look at me!
Originally uploaded by Mike F.
Check out my sister-in-law's puppy, Rosie. Yes, that is a stroller she is in. She had back surgery a while back and can't use her hind legs. My sister-in-law is a physical therapist who works with dogs as well as people and adopted Rosie a few months ago. I think she weights about 2 pounds. At least is seems that way when compared to our two moose dogs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just call me Pepe Le Pew

Last night I wanted to go to bed early. I was tired and just needed some rest due to a long week. Yes, I know it was only Wednesday, but I was still tired.

Before I went to bed I was taking some laundry out of the dryer so we all had some clean, dry clothes to wear for the day. About halfway into the removal process this terrible aroma wafted through the laundry room. I didn't know what it was at first, I thought maybe the dryer vent was burning. Then it hit me. Skunk! And one of the dogs was outside.

At this point I heard Quicny at the door and let him in, hoping he wasn't sprayed and the smell was just drifting through the neighborhood on the 40MPH winds. He charged in and I knew something was wrong right away. He was shaking his head and his eyes were bothering him. The freakin' skunk got him. I was not happy.

I let Jenn know what was going on so we could stop him from running through the house, but I didn't get to him before he rubbed his head on the couch. Thanks, Quincy!

At this point I thought it was a skunk, but it smelled weird. Not like I was expecting. Jenn was already on the Google search and found out that it can smell like burning plastic or rubber. That was it!

While Jenn looked up remedies I put him in the laundry room and put out the gate so he didn't rub the scent onto Cruise. We didn't need two dogs stinking up the joint. Jenn's search gave us some helpful tips; wipe the oils off first, then wash with baking soda and peroxide. We didn't have either in the house and it was almost 11pm at this point. She also read you can clean the affected area while making sure not to spread the oils on the rest of the body. So, after some very close sniffing of the dog, we determined he was hit in the face and on the bottom of the neck. At least I had one spot to focus my cleaning effort.

While I did that Jenn brought out every scented candle we have in the house and lit them up. This caused the house to smell like a skunk who was caught in a Christmas tree while a pumpkin pie was baking in a pit full of fall leaves. Interesting mix!

We got Quincy pretty clean and put him in his cage for the night and hoped for the best. He seemed okay this morning, not too stinky, and I'm planning on clearing Target's stock of Glade Plug-ins after I get out of work. I hope that helps the house.

Now I'm sitting here all paranoid I'm stinking up the office. I think I'm okay. The people around me aren't complaining (Yes, I warned them), but I still get a whiff of it once in a while. I think I got some of the stuff in my nasal cavity. That's the best explanation I can come up with. Believe me, the people around me would let me know if I smell. They wouldn't let something like that go without 600 jokes at my expense.

Next time I'm going to make the dog sleep outside.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shit in my mom's house #1

My mom is one of those people who never throws anything away. It's not like she needs to be on Hoarders, it's mostly stuff in cabinets and closets that have lost their usefulness long ago. I'm not saying I'm good at letting stuff go, actually I'm far from it. You should see the garage. But my stuff isn't really old, therefore it is not very funny or interesting. Take this for instance:

Imitation butter flavored salt. The name pretty much describes exactly what it is. How can you tell this is super old. Well, the name gives it away. It's like some scientist is describing it to me. No flair at all. If this was on the shelves currently it would have a name like Wonder Salt for Popcorn. Or, something like that. I'm not a marketing guy or anything.

So, how old do you think this is? Any guesses? Come on, I'll wait....

Can you read that date? Yep, it says November 17, 1979. This bottle was in my mom's cabinet before we found out that Darth Vader was Luke's dad! Hell, we probably smuggled this bottle into the theater to put on our popcorn.

There is much more stuff like this in my mom's house. I won't post them all in a row or anything. But there are some doozies.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We went to California to celebrate our anniversary

Last Thursday Jenn and I celebrated our 15th anniversary. I know, how can two people who are only 25 years-old (looking) be married that long? Well, it's a secret I can't tell you since it involves various types of black magic and quantum physics.

Anyway, we chose to go to Newport Beach mostly because we got a deal through Marriott. Several months ago we received a call and asked if we wanted to check out their Vacation Club. In exchange for checking it out and going through a presentation, we were able to stay in a pretty cool place for much less than what it would cost. I don't think we could have stayed at a Holiday Inn for the price. So, yes, we went to a time share presentation, what of it? Actually, it wasn't bad. They weren't really pushy at all. And, to be honest, it wasn't as expensive as I thought. No, I am not being paid to say this. I'm being serious.

Here was a view from out balcony. Just pretend all the haze and mist weren't there and imagine the dark gray in the distance is the ocean.

Unfortunately, the weather was like this everyday we were there.

On the second day we took a ferry out to Catalina Island. It was a cold ferry ride out there. Mostly because I stayed on the deck to the whole trip out there. Just imagine that I stayed out there because I wanted to see what it was like to be on Deadliest Catch, or to see dolphins or whale, not because I was terrified of being seasick. I wasn't and I did see some dolphins.

The island was interesting. It was certainly quaint in a way, but I found it interesting how the island was set up. Basically it was levels of wealth. The very rich and houses up in the hills and it got poorer as you made it down to sea level. I'm not saying there were homeless people all around at sea level or anything, it's just that it was various obvious where the money was.

Did you know that the Chicago Cubs used the island for spring training from 1921-1951? Me neither. There is even a memorial and botanical garden with his name on it. We took a golf cart (the main mode of transportation on the island) up there to see what it was all about. It's about a lot of plants and flowers, obviously, but there is also a memorial tower there. It was a nice view from up there. Also, notice this was the only time we saw the sun on our trip.

Some of the roads on the island were a little scary. I was a little concerned that the brakes wouldn't hold on some of the hills. But, we didn't die, so I guess the carts are and acceptable mode of transportation for the island. I can see why the people pay a lot of money to live in the hills. There are some really nice views up there.

Our last day there we drove around the area a little bit. We went to the Crystal Cove state park area and had lunch at Beachcombers. It was a nice little place to eat on the water. The whole area reminds me a little bit of the housing complex that was used on Lost where the others lived. I didn't get any good photos of the houses since they are renovation everything, but this might give you an idea.

So, that is what we did for our anniversary. Now we need to start planning for our 20th.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last night on Undercover Boss

I don't watch Undercover Boss on CBS all the time, actually quite rarely, but the TV was still on CBS when the show started and I'm lazy. Also, when I saw the show featured the CEO of Frontier Airlines, I had to watch.

I work for an airline myself so I thought it would be quite interesting to see the CEO do these particular jobs. Also, as with many airlines over the last several years, things haven't gone so well for workers with relation to pay and benefits, etc. Actually, most companies anywhere have had these problems recently, but today we are going to focus on aviation.

The show itself was fine. Bryan, the CEO, had to work a lavatory servicing truck, clean the interior of aircraft and work as a flight attendant. I think he worked as a gate agent too, but I missed a bit of the episode. I was hoping to see the lav dump on him, but it didn't happen. That would have been good TV!

A couple things about the show. I am a bit cynical, I admit, but I'm thinking this show is not so reality as they claim. I'm pretty sure they look for people with the worst background stories to work with the bosses. Obviously it make for better TV and generates sympathy from the CEO. Also, I think these people know what is going on now. I'm talking about the workers that get paired up with the CEO. At least this episode it seemed like it. I mean, if you've worked with someone for one day are you going to give up all of your deep, dark secrets?

I was glad to see that every worker mentioned how they had to take pay cuts to keep the airline going and would like to get that back. More on that later.

At the end of the show Bryan met with each of the workers he was paired up with and gave them some interesting presents, for lack of a better term. One lady got to have an aircraft named after her son who passed away and a vacation. One guy was given $20,000 to help put his many kids through college. And, someone elses was given money to give to a charity of her choice. Not bad, but some of the other episodes I've seen the workers were given new jobs and new salaries. Way to be cheap, Bryan.

At the very end of the show, Bryan came out and showed a group of employees a video of his time working with the common man. Also, he mentioned how he realized that the 10% paycuts they all gave is making it tough on everyone, so they know the right thing to do is give it back. Here is the thing that killed me; they are getting it back over three years! So, essentially they are going to get minor pay increases over the next three years to bring them to the pay that they had 5 years ago which was probably too little to begin with. Now, this stuff obviously kills me as an airline employee who has given up much more than 10% several years ago and is still waiting to get that back. Of course, our CEO is not out here working with us and he has made millions in various stock and other incentives over the last few years so you'll have to excuse me if I'm a little pissed for these people on TV. Sure, they are getting back their old pay eventually, but they will still be behind the curve.

They may have been clapping on TV, but I'm here pissed off for them. I imagine some of them are pissed now after the cameras are off. I hope.

Sorry for the rant, I know I'm not the only one out there who has taken paycuts to help out their company, or other type of employer, only to never see it come back when things are better. Meanwhile the fat cats are lighting their cigars with 100 dollar bills. At least in my head that is what they do.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Weekend Assignment #338: Space Truckin'

This week Karen wants to know if we would like to visit Goldilocks. Seems like a fun question.

Even as astronomers discover planets that may be capable of supporting life, such destinations remain out of reach of would-be human colonists, even if the world is "only" twenty light years away. But if some science fictional technology were discovered in the next year or two (warp drive, matter transmission or whatever) that made it possible to leave Earth behind and go live on another planet, would you be tempted to do so? If you choose not to relocate, would you be interested in just visiting the place instead?
If you asked me this question as a kid, there would be no doubt, I would have been on the first ship. I'd probably sleep out for tickets. I assume that would be necessary if we really could go out there. The tickets would sell out in 26 seconds and all be bought by brokers who then sell them on Space-Hub for 1000% more than face value. Am I right?

But, yes, as a kid I would have jumped on that right away. Like most boys, I wanted to be an astronaut. I think I grew up in the perfect wedge of time for that aspiration. We had already been to the moon a few times, and in grade school the shuttle started flying. But my mom smashed my dreams. As far as I knew, the best way to be an astronaut at that time was be in the Air Force as a pilot then work your way into the astronaut program. Well, since I needed glasses, as I still do, my mom always told me I couldn't be an Air Force pilot. Another dream smashed.

For a time in high school I wanted to be an astronomer and go to MIT. Well, I found out they don't make a whole lot of money and I wasn't smart enough. Again, astronomical dream smashed.

Now, as an adult with a family, I don't know if I would go to stay on another planet, but I think it would be cool to visit. Maybe like a long vacation or something like that. Or a sabbatical. After reading Packing for Mars, however, I'd be a little nervous. They don't make dramamine strong enough for space flight. Not yet, at least. Not to mention the hundreds of other things that could go wrong.

Extra Credit: If you did go, whether on vacation or as a colonist, and you were only allowed to bring one small suitcase with you, what would be in it?

I would bring a my iPad, for entertainment, and a shotgun. And maybe some underwear. We've all seen the Alien movies. A gun is definitely needed for any planetary visit, I don't care what the sensors say.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Fall TV Watching So Far

Hey, it's the New Fall TV Season. Time for great new shows and for all your old favorites to come back and keep you company as the weather changes. What am I watching? I'm so glad you asked.

First, let me start by saying we changed over to the DVR system on Comcast and got rid of the TiVos that we had in the house. This was a necessity due to the changes in the digital TV set up and the fact that we have an HD box from Comcast that we couldn't hook up directly to the TiVo. I will say this, the menu and set-ups on the Comcast box are terrible when compared to TiVo. Comcast, will you please roll out some TiVo service on your DVRs in Chicago? Thank you. Why do I mention this, well, we realized how many things we had set up to record years ago and forgot to reset. We missed recording all the NBC shows on Thursday night. I have no idea what happened on The Office. Was it good?

On to the shows. In the recurring category I'm watching House, The Office (when I catch up), The Mentalist, The Amazing Race (kind of), Castle (maybe) and Modern Family (always good). That's all I can remember right now. I thought the first House episode was a little boring, but The Mentalist was pretty good. Wasn't that a great review? But this post isn't really about returning shows it's about, The All New Super Awesome TV Shows That Are Unlike Anything You've Ever Seen! Or, that's what they want you to believe.

Let's start with Hawaii Five-O. While I remember the original version of the show by name, I can't remember if we actually watched it in our house when I was a kid. It's seems like something we would have watched, maybe by the time I would have been watching it my got tired of it. The show was on for twelve years so it is possible.

I did enjoy the new show. I wanted to check it out since it had Daniel Dae Kim from Lost and Grace Park from Battlestar Galactica. Those were two of my favorite shows over the last few years so I had to give it a try. I will say I enjoyed it, but some things bugged me a little bit. I thought the two main guys were a little on the cliché side, but I didn't hold that against this show too much since it was the pilot. Maybe the writers and producers can lighten them up a little bit. While I think the mix of action was good, some was a little too unbelievable, but again, it's the first episode. We'll see how Hawaii Five-O develops, but I think it has a chance of being good. If only they will listen to me. (My email is on the "about me" page...)

I watched The Event today. Two things right of the bat on this one. 1) Let us get to know who the people are a little bit before you start flashbacking all over the place. 2) That was the best title for the show? I know you don't want to give anything away in the title, but come on. Does this mean we won't know what The Event is until the end of the series? Because you guys are going to piss some people off that way.

The show wasn't terrible, and the ending was interesting, but there was too much set up (and flashbacks) that we had to sit through to get to that. Those of you who watched The Event, if they took out all the flashbacks, would the show lose anything? I say no. I say it makes me want to come back and find out why that guy was on the plane. Or what was the deal with the weird, hippy travelers, or, most important, where the Hell did that plane go? See, it's good to leave some lingering questions in the audience's mind, but that questions shouldn't be, "What day is this now? Why is this so confusing?" Because if it is, you've lost your audience. Having said all this, I will keep watching a few more episodes to see where it goes.

Jenn checked out Mike and Maddy and said it was good. She also recorded some other show that I can't even remember. I think we made it to the first commercial break on that one. Always a good sign.

I think there are a few more I'm going to try out. But I'll leave that for another post. I hope you can wait!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weekend Assignment #335: History

Wow! I actually have something ready on time for the weekend assignment and it even includes pictures. This week the topic from Karen is local history.

We don't all live near the site of a battlefield or other world-famous event, but any place has its own history: political, cultural, even natural history. How aware are you of the past of the town, city or state where you live now? Share with us a story of local history.

This worked out pretty well for me. I've been meaning to get pictures of this old windmill that I had found out about. So I made plans to go out there last week and I figured I'd tie it in with this week's assignment.

First a quick photo of the windmill:

It's called the Fayban Windmill now since it was once owned by a General Fayban who had it moved out to his land back in 1915 after it fell into a state of disrepair in it's original location.

According to what I can find out here, this is an actual working Dutch windmill that was assembled in 1875 in what is now Lombard, Illinois for two farmers. It was Dutch-built prefabricated kit that was shipped out there to be put together. I guess houses aren't the only things that you can buy prefabricated.

It's was bought in 1915 by General Fayban and moved in 1917 to it's current location. Again, it was disassembled and re-assembled. Not unlike a big Erector set. It stood, and was used, in the current location until 1937 when the counter acquired it after the general passed away. Then it just sat there and was a tourist attraction, and still is today.

Back in 1997 the county hired a third-generation Dutch millwright, Lucas Verbij, who declared it to be a great specimen that should be restored. This was completed in 2004. It is open on weekend for tours, which I didn't get to do, but I'd like to now, and they still mill grain on occasion for tours.

I really want to go inside this now. Who's with me?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach: A Sort of Review

No, I don't review books here often, I leave that to the professionals like Florinda, but I enjoyed Packing for Mars so much that I wanted to talk about it.

First, let's step back a little. I haven't read any of Mary Roach's books before, actually I've never heard of her. Sad I know. Anyway, I happened to catch her on The Daily Show with John Stewart back in August. Normally when I watch The Daily Show I skip the interview part, but when John Stewart mentioned the book was about space exploration, I knew I had to watch. Wow, was I glad I did. After watching the funny interview Jenn even told me that the book was right up my alley. She wasn't kidding.

So, now to the book. I will warn you about spoilers now; humans have been in space and to the moon. You knew that, right? Good. Packing for Mars, as the name suggests, is a look at the science of space travel, what we've done already and what we need to study in order to make it to Mars. But this isn't written by your average science teacher-type person who puts you to sleep after a page or two. Nor does it look at the types of things you normally think about when you hear about space travel. Let's say it's more a long the line of everything you always wanted to know about space travel but were afraid to ask.

What do I mean by that? Let's just say there is a lot of talk about poop in space. Actually poop, urine, food and vomit which, when you think about it, go hand-in-hand. Now, it's not all poop talk, because that would get old, and gross. There is a lot of talk about gravity and how it screws with your body, as well. But Mary Roach takes a decidedly different approach to the space program than your average author would. This is what makes the book great, in my opinion. Who wants to read another boring book about thrust vectors and approach angles and all that stuff? I want to know what happens what a poop ball gets loose in space! Or, would I chock to death if I barfed in my space suit?

I'm not saying this book makes fun of NASA or the space program. Not at all. It's quite the opposite. You can tell Mary Roach appreciates all that's been a accomplished, and the things she writes about are just as important as the rocket that sends the astronauts up. Without the wast collections systems, food systems, space suits, etc., they would never be able to stay up there more than a few days. But, there is also no reason that we can't read about these things and have fun at the same time, right?

So, if you want to read about all the science behind the space program that you never even thought about, go out and buy Packing for Mars. It is a really fun read. Also, it looks like Mary Roach is on tour. If you live in California you can still catch her, but at only one event it seems. Sorry I'm late on that. Looks like she didn't come to Chicago this year, which is probably good since I'd go and look like a dork laughing at the poop talk.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yes, I survived the Oak Brook Half-Marathon

I haven't talked about it here lately because, well, I wasn't so sure I'd succeed, but I finished The Oak Brook Half-Marathon. The first thing I want to say is, ouch. I'm not as sore as I thought I'd be, but I do not feel normal. My knees hurt, my hips hurt and my left ankle hurts. I don't know why only my left ankle hurts, but I also don't know why my legs aren't killing me. Though I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I didn't run all that fast.

I signed up for this race a long time ago thinking I'd have plenty of time to get ready. I did have plenty of time, but my aging body isn't as cooperative as my brain. I've run long races before, including one in a deluge of rain, but never a half-marathon. I decided to do it this year since my usual long race was moved up to August and we were going to be out of town. So when I was looking for a long race to do this one popped up. It's looked like a cool route and it was close. I wasn't so sure about doing a half-marathon, but Jenn talked me into it.

Let me saw this now. I am not good at running long races. I do them, but just so I have something to work for so I don't become a fat slob. I have terrible eating habits and this helps keep things in check, for the most part.

Anyway, for this race we planned to stay at the race location. The start was just off of the McDonald's campus (or Hamburger University), so we stayed at the Hyatt Lodge that is on the campus. Let me tell you, this is one of the nicest corporate campuses I've ever seen. I'm sure there are some nice ones out there in other states, but here in Illinois we don't have that many nice ones.

By staying on the campus we could sleep a little later since the race started at 7am, and, with the kids at the grandparent's house, we could go to bed early with out all the commotion. It worked out really well. Well, expect for Jenn waking up with a migraine and unable to run, and me leaving a little later than I wanted to and the race start a little farther away than I thought. It had to be close to a mile away (!) but I made it to the start before the gun went off.

I was happy to see the clouds in the sky, and little drops of rain. I was hoping they'd both stay around to keep me cool. The rain didn't but the clouds did.

The first 6 miles went really well. I wasn't too tired. My legs felt okay, but I was a little hungry. I met up with Jenn just before the six mile point and had some of my Sport Beans (made by Jelly Belly) and had some water and continued on.

Here was my first problem. Just after Jenn went off to meet me later on the course something went weird in my right knee. I don't know if I went down a hill at an odd angle (there were a LOT of hills) or what, but it felt like something was out of place. I kept trying to bend it more hoping it would go away. Luckily, after about a mile, it did. Phew. Crisis averted.

The next couple of miles I just kept trying to do the countdown. How many miles left? 6? No problem! I thought I might be getting in trouble when I was between mile 8 and 9. I couldn't remember what the last mile marker was. Did I pass 9? It felt like it. I looked at me GPS watch to see what it said: 3.66 miles?! Shit! I stopped at a port-a-potty and forgot to restart the damn thing. I was only wearing it to keep my pace in check and now, when I really needed it, I realized I screwed up. This was when I started thinking I might not finish this thing. I was so confident at 6 miles now at nearly 9 miles, not so much. It's amazing how much can change in 3 short miles.

Oh, before I go on, let it be known that I did take some walk breaks. Not long, and mostly at water stations, but I don't want it to look like I'm better at this than I really am.

Anyway, I made it past mile 9 and met up with Jenn again at mile 10. We walked together a bit again as I had some more Sport Beans, Gatorade and water. She kept telling me I only had a 5K to go, which was helpful, but I was spent. My legs felt like limp spaghetti noodles and I still felt a little hungry. I walked a little bit after Jenn ran off to meet me at the finish line and started to jog again after some high school runners came by us and cheered us on.

The last three miles were the longest I've run, but I somehow managed to do it. The last half mile was lined with people who had already finished, and their families, all cheering us on. I actually was able to speed up at the end, fueled by their nice words. I made it.

Here is a picture Jenn took of me coming through the finish. It's little hard to see me since I was running so fast (HA!) but here is proof that I made it.

Jenn tried to tell me I should try a a marathon after I finished. It was probably not the best time to get me to contemplate running a race twice the distance of the one that almost killed me. No, I'm not doing a marathon. Ever.

Overall, it was good and I'm glad I did it even if I did feel like my calves were being chewed off by squirrels after I was done. And, I got a nice medal to show off. I think I'll wear it to work next week.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Parents of the Year

I probably haven't mentioned it since I have been lax in posting lately, but our son is playing flag football this year. This is the first real organized sport he has ever done, so we hoped he wouldn't want to stop halfway through since it goes until Halloween.

Anyway, his first game was this weekend (more on that later) which we thought he might be a little nervous about. I mean we were, so why not him? So, on Thursday when I picked him up from school he mentioned he hurt his ankle during recess and he wasn't sure if he could play football on Friday. I let him know that he had no practice on Friday, just his game on Saturday. He said he wasn't sure how it would feel then either. I did take a quick peek at his ankle at home and didn't notice anything, and he seemed to limp only occasionally. Jenn and I decided to keep an eye on him, but felt that he might be exaggerating a little bit due to being nervous about his first game. We even told him that we could take him to the doctor to get a shot or something hoping this would make him realize it wasn't too bad.

On Friday all the kids in flag and tackle football got together and went to the local high school football game to cheer them on. He seemed to be doing okay as he ran and jumped around with the other kids. At this point we were pretty sure he was exaggerating his injury due to the first game jitters.

Flash forward to game day, I ran some errands before the game while Jenn got him ready. When I came home our son was getting dressed and Jenn told me to go look at his ankle. Yep, you guessed it, it was swollen and slightly black and blue. Parenting Win! We both felt terrible. The real funny part? He still wanted to play. We taped it up a little, told the coach to keep an eye on him and he played the whole game. He limped around a little bit at sometimes but he didn't want to stop playing. He even had a quarterback sneak for 30 yards. In other words, we were as wrong as we could possibly be.

So, if you want some parenting tips...go somewhere else.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hello Wisconsin!

Okay, now I'm officially back. I think. It's not easy coming back from vacation and having a million things to do the first three days you come home. I think we still have some stuff in our suitcase. Maybe we shouldn't come home from a trip the day we have to go to school to meet the teachers and the day before football pictures. But now the kids are back to school, I'm still off from work for a little bit and things are getting back to a more manageable state of chaos.

Yes, our trip. We went up to Door County, Wisconsin for a week. We were up in the northern part in a town called Ephraim. We stayed at Eagle Harbor Inn that was recommended by Mr. Unfocused. It was a perfect place for the family. Though we visited a few other towns as well. It was a nice, relaxing time. Oh, the the weather was great. When we left home we were just finishing a warm spell of 90's with the heat index near 100 for several days. It was nice to be in temperatures that were barely in the mid-70's after that. We even wore sweatshirts and long pants sometimes! It was great.

One thing we noticed right away was the wind. The day we got up there we went to eat at a place called Fred and Fuzzy's in Sister Bay which is located right on the water. The food was good, but the wind was a little strong that day. I felt bad for the servers who were having trouble keeping the drink glasses from falling over as they walked. We asked our server if it is always so windy and she said no that it was just a crazy day. She was right because we went back there on our last night and it was very pleasant. Sitting right on the water is the way to eat, especially if you have a good view.

One of the things I wanted to do in Door County was check out some lighthouses. We got to see two of them, which was fine, since some of the others are hard to get to. The first one we saw was the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula State Park. We planned to rent some bikes and ride trail to the lighthouse. We changed plans a little when our daughter decided she wanted to ride in one of the carts that are pulled behind a bike rather than the tag-along style bike. This turned out to be a great decision on her part. There were a lot of hills that would have been tough for her even on the back of the bike. This way she had a nice ride and actually fell asleep on the way down. The lighthouse itself wasn't one of the designs that I have in my head when I think of lighthouses, but it was still cool that something built in the late 1800's is still hanging around.

The other lighthouse we went to was the Cana Island Lighthouse. Now this is what I think of when I hear the word lighthouse.

This one was a little more difficult to get to. We had to drive on some narrow roads and walk across a gravel path between the island and the mainland. It was a short path, but we could drive right up and park. This time my son and I went up to the top, If you can believe it. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before how I don't like heights, that's why I say that. The climb was a little shaky at first. There are 97 steps that make up the spiral staircase. The first 25 are pretty intimidating since it seems so open, but after you reach the first landing it is hard to see the bottom so you feel a little more secure.

The view from the top is great. I don't know how far you can see since a lot id it is water, but it seems like you can see forever.

One of the things I really wanted to do was get a nice picture of the sun setting on the water. Unfortunately, this was the best I could get.

I had another chance on the last night in Door County when were were at Fred and Fuzzy's again, but some clouds right at the water line ruined that chance. It's an okay picture, but as you can see, some low clouds again prevented me from getting the sun setting on the water itself.

So, what else did we do? We ate. A lot. We went to the famous Al Johnson's where there are goats on the roof. No, really. See:

We ate at a place called The Summer Kitchen that had some great soup. We also ate there twice. We hit the famous Wilson's Ice Cream the first night we were there. Look, we ate a lot, okay?

Oh, I almost forgot. We also went to see a play at the American Folklore Theater that is inside Peninsula Stat Park. We saw, "Cheeseheads: The Musical" which I highly recommend. The theater was outside, obviously, which was kind of a neat way to see a show. I tell you, if you want to see a lot of stars in the sky, go to a state park in Wisconsin at night. Very cool. One thing, if you do go to a show at the theater on a Wednesday night, don't be like us and decide to get something to eat after the show. See, the part of Door County we were in (if not all of it) closes at about 8pm. We couldn't find a place to eat to save our lives. Luckily the kids fell asleep as we were driving around to find something, so we just put the to bed. When we got our daughter out of the cart she said she couldn't remember eating. We told her she really liked it and just go to sleep. Please come to us for all your parenting tips! Jenn and I ended up having chips and salsa along with some fudge for dinner. (Sorry we ate your fudge, mom!)

To sum it all up, we had fun, ate a lot and gained about 12 pounds. After all, isn't that what you are supposed to do on vacation? Especially if it is Wisconsin?