Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Football game from hell

The last and only professional football game I've ever gone to was to see the Steelers play in Three Rivers Stadium about 12 years ago. A friend invited me to go to the Steelers/Dolphins game this past Monday, so I checked my schedule and said that I'd love to go. What I should have done is checked the weather report first.

Now, if you are a football fan you are aware of the circumstances surrounding this game. It poured rain all day and evening, causing terribly poor conditions at game time and eventually a low final score of Dolphins-0, Steelers-3, Mother Nature-4. So, here was my review of game night.

We started off with dinner near the stadium at a little tavern. The moment we walked outside of the restaurant after dinner, a lightning bolt hit nearby and set off several car alarms, and the rain came down in sheets. We dashed to the car and drove to our planned parking space near the stadium, then sat there as the rain came down and the radio informed us of a game delay due to the lightning. After about twenty minutes the rain slowed, so we ventured out, our bodies wrapped in plastic rain condoms, toward the stadium.

When we got there we learned that attendees had been evacuated from the grandstands and were told to wait in the covered concession area. This would have been fine except that the concession area is not designed to hold all the stadium's attendees at one time. We were packed like sardines, quite literally unable to move. My friends and I happened to be standing by a couple of Salvation Army bell ringer volunteers, one of whom had had just about enough pushing and shoving for one night. He yelled obscenities to the people around him such as "If any one'y'all push me again I'm gonna bust a cap in yo 'lil white ass" and so forth. Nice example of charity work.

At least ten minutes into the start of the game, the crowd finally broke and we were able to make it to our seats. That was after a trip to the bathroom, where I got to witness some dude attempt to revive his drunkenly-comatose girlfriend, or at least lift her off the floor from beneath the mens' room urinal. Why she ended up there I'm not sure. On our way to our seats two paramedics came by the other way pushing a stretcher with a body bag on it. And the body bag was definitely not empty. I still have not found details on that one.

The game was friggin ridiculous. With no points scored until the final 17 seconds, we spent most of the time wondering which one of us was going to be the first to say, "let's go the hell home". We were wet and cold, and the temperature was dropping quickly. the highlight of the game was the punt that hit the ground and sunk like a stone into quicksand given the muddy texture of the field. What a mess.

Some people say this is what being a football fan is all about. I say this is what widescreen plasma TV's are all about.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stop Dressing your daughter like...

Good article, and the reason I won't be going to the mall any time in the next twelve years....

The princess had just graduated to a size seven when everything went to hell. We headed for our favorite department store, ready to take that leap into the world of 7–16. Bye-bye, 4–6X, I thought to myself with a tug of sadness. My baby was growing up.

And apparently into a prostitute.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Air Force Test

This will eat up your lunch hour quickly.

Quote of the day #234

Jessica (to her older sister): Sissy, I'm serious!!!

Natalie: You CAN'T be serious! If you were serious, you'd know math! What's two million times two??

Jessica: Nine!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sesame Street: Hard Core

This New York Times article reviews the new DVD release of "Sesame Street: Old School", explaining that these earliest episodes of Sesame Street are not intended for preschoolers of today. I heard the same thing on NPR today.

Let's see. Cookie Monster had an eating disorder and approached the border of obesity. I was a big fan, yet I'm a wiry 154 lbs. Ernie and Bert? We all knew it. Never cared. Bert was always a nerd, Ernie was always conniving and sneaky. And he taught us how to eat crackers in bed without getting caught. And then there was Oscar. He loved trash. That's all there was to it.

When I was a young lad, no one had heard of Elmo. No one cared if the cast of muppets was ethnically diverse. They were muppets. And they taught us a few things. to this day I can't see a series of a dozen numbers without singing that tune, "Onetwothree Four Five, Sixseveneight nine ten, eleventwelve!"

Elmo is probably the worst thing to ever happen to Sesame Street. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm a big Kevin Klash fan. Any time a several-hundred pound African American can talk with a squeaky voice and get away with it, you won't find me stopping him. But Elmo presents kids today with plenty of negatives: stupidity, wimpiness, and bad grammar. I'd love to see Oscar and Elmo in a Celebrity Death Match. Elmo wouldn't stand a chance.

I think Virginia Heffernan stated it quite well in her article, when she said,

People on “Sesame Street” had limited possibilities and fixed identities, and (the best part) you weren’t expected to change much. The harshness of existence was a given, and no one was proposing that numbers and letters would lead you “out” of your inner city to Elysian suburbs. Instead, “Sesame Street” suggested that learning might merely make our days more bearable, more interesting, funnier. It encouraged us, above all, to be nice to our neighbors and to cultivate the safer pleasures that take the edge off — taking baths, eating cookies, reading.

I agree. I'd be very interested in getting this DVD, showing it to my children, and explaining all there is to explain about the world in which I, my sister and my friends grew up. A world without peanut butter allergies, Asperger's disorder, fear of crossing the street, or motorized scooters. A world where the most prized possession a kid could have was a bike with a banana seat, not a Nintendo WII.

Bowling for 7-year-olds

There's nothing cuter than watching bowling. Or rather, watching 7-YEAR-OLDS bowl.

I'm not a bowler. I've gone perhaps 5 times in my life, and in fact this past weekend was the first time I did so sober. Nonetheless, I'm always intrigued by the sport when I'm involved. The drama that unfolds during a game can be likened to many of the world's great sports, including bocce, table tennis, and extreme sock drawer reorganization. I noticed with this recent trip to a bowling alley that they have taken a new stance with marketing by adding disco balls, blacklighting, crazy 80's music, live Steeler games, and wild graphics on the scoring screens that block the view of the score at any given moment. I suppose just plain old bowling wasn't enough to keep up with a generation born on Nascar and Halo3.

Sunday was an Adventure Princess outing, a father-daughter round of bowling. It was a "scotch doubles tournament", with the tournament part being a bit of an overstatement. Each girl bowled the first ball and the dad attempted to round out a spare with what she left standing. I noticed quickly that in order for a 40lb young lady to heave a 7 lb ball 50 feet down a parquet runway, she must develop a style quickly.

My daughter's style was all about speed. Not so much the speed of the ball as it rolled, but the speed of getting ready for her turn when the time came. She would run to the ball tray to retrieve her little pink orb of destruction and run with it to the top of her lane, then toss it without pausing to breathe, aim, or ensure that the pins were placed and ready. Of course that last part isn't too important as it took a solid minute for the ball to roll all the way down to the other end of the lane.

Each of the girls had her own style. There was Sydney, who gave a little three-foot hop before releasing the ball and was all about using the bumpers for maximum angle. There was Jordana, who would calmly walk to the top of the lane, hold the ball with both hands, swing forward once, twice, three times, look behind her at her dad for confirmation, and release the ball without watching where it was going. Then there was Gabriella, who didn't so much toss the ball but dropped it at her feet, allowing the rest of the folks at that lane time for a quick bathroom break, a trip to the snack bar, and the completion of a Tom Clancy novel before the ball made its way to the pins.

But in the end there's one thing important to note. If a group of people with no bowling skills goes bowling, every player has an equal chance of playing well regardless of age, size, or number of fingers. My daughter got a strike and three spares herself. I never managed a strike, and I think I bowled two spares. The luck was similar across the board.

Really, it all came down to how hot the french fries were.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor

According to Wired Magazine, researchers at Penn State claim to have developed a way to use bacteria to extract hydrogen from almost any biodegradable organic substance. Yes Marty, this is the first step. Once we've got the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor, we'll develop the Flux Capacitor, and we'll be ready. Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.

100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chihuly At Phipps

Those in Pittsburgh with the sense to go got a real treat by attending the Chihuly At Phipps exhibit at Pipps Conservatory. The show is about done with it's summer-long run. I took a few pictures, here. Amazing stuff. Chihuly is famous for his glass sculptures, including those that decorate the ceiling of the Belaggio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Date rape drug? Come on..

Unbelieveable. So now Aqua Dots, a Chinese manufactured toy, is being recalled because the toxins included in them include the date rape drug.

Mind-blowing, completely mind-blowing. We actually just received these things as a birthday gift for Jessica last month. The kids played with them once, and moved on. Actually moved back, to paper and markers.

These days kids aren't even safe playing with wooden blocks. If it isn't the date rape drug, it's lead paint. Or poly-ethyl-styro-crazystuff. People, people, come on! Let's think about this. Is it really necessary to take advantage of every single Toys 'R Us discount coupon you can find, in hopes of filling your kids' playrooms with crap that's only going to give them cancer?? When I was a kid my favorite toy was a rock. Really. A pet rock named Elroy. And he never caused cancer. Never hurt a soul. He was a one-piece toy, with no sticky glue and easy cleanup. And I grew up completely normal, with no known health or social issues. Not many friends either, but Elroy was always a pal.

Kids say the darndest things #879

I came home from an evening meeting last night just in time to say goodnight to the squirts. I walked into my 4-year-old's room to find her there all snuggled up with a book and two stuffed animals, both little gray puppies.

"And who are you sleeping with tonight?" I asked.

"My two favorite puppies."

"And what are their names?"

"This one is Snuffles."

"And the other one?"


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the right setting...

I heard two things from someone today that, in the right circumstances would be quite fun to hear:

1. I never seen one like that before. That’s beautiful!
2. Holy shit, that’s huge!

Unfortunately, these two things were said to me by an exterminator. We discovered a yellow jacket's nest in the attic. Not being fond of an attic full of stinging insects (or for that matter a shower full, since several of them had made their way into the house through the bathroom vent), I felt this was something best left handled to the pros. The nest was at the very far end of our newly renovated space and not easy to get to, but from about thirty feet away you could see it was about the size of a backpack and rather active. Once close to it, the exterminator dude told me it wasn't just on the wall of the attic but along the floor joists as well. Basically there were enough yellow jackets in there to sting the population of Guam.

$140 later, the nest was destroyed. Frankly it was worth it at any price. Now I can get back to using the attic for what it's original pretend to be a troll hiding up there and scaring the begeebers out of my daughters.

What every man needs in bed

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Organizing monkeys and showering with bees

So I mentioned something about organizing monkeys the other day. I said I was going to post something "tomorrow", but that was days ago. But life, as you know, can often be distracting from important things like blogging. So today I'm at home having caught a head cold from my kids. I'll use this as time to do some catch-up writing.

I'd originally planned to write something about one of my many projects, which was to create a DVD containing a slide show of my parents' safari trip to Kenya. My dad bought a digital camera for the trip, and returned with over 800 photos that he wanted to organize on a DVD he could play for friends without lugging a computer around. After a couple weeks of back-and-forth discussion about how his PC doesn't have a DVD writer, how MS Windows sucks, and how iPhoto on the Mac would make his iLife quite simple, I finally convinced him to just send me the photos so I could put something together in iPhoto and burn it to DVD. Little did I know he'd have me hand-arranging all 800 photos into a specific order in the slideshow. But as a result I think I've finally convinced him that he needs to buy a Mac. Cool, now with Leopard's new iChat "share the desktop" feature, I can actually provide remote tech support for him, too.

So that was my original explanation of organizing monkeys, but I realized there's a greater theme there. Lately there have been quite a few of those monkeys lying around on my back, and I'm really looking forward to flicking them off one by one. Those 800 photos or so got organized at random moments, such as while the kids were having their bedtime snacks. Creating the iPhoto slideshow only took an hour, while organizing the pictures took a month. One monkey flicked.

But there's plenty more monkeys to go around. Be it helping my wife finalize her mom's estate, building more furniture for the house, or standing in a pile of leaves I just raked only to watch them blow back across the yard, it's a wonder there's time to go to work each day.

The various woodworking projects are progressing nicely. As I mentioned recently I successfully built a desk for my wife. As a result we are now looking forward to redoing the entire office. Something I don't look forward to because, frankly, I enjoy stripping wallpaper about as much as I enjoy placing leeches in my ears. So I've put that aside and begun to focus on the living room.

The living room is an 11x20 room with a fireplace on the long wall. It currently serves as the "plastic room", a home for layer upon layer of Fisher Price, Barbie, and My Little Pony toys with nary a path through the crap on which to walk. We've decided it's time to make that room more functional for humans. Mom and Dad came in a week or two ago, and we began woodworking project number 2, the built-ins.

Construction is going well. we got the basic structure up in a couple of days. That leaves me to paint, build shelves, doors, etc. At my current pace, I expect we will have this project done some time before the first Bat Mitzvah, after which I can go back to thinking about the office wallpaper.

Once the cabinets were built and in place, my wife and I began to think about furniture. "Finally a chance to start from scratch with a room," we thought, "and furnish it not with milk crates and Ikea specials but with real, grownup furniture". Then we realized that an 11x20 room with a fireplace in the middle and a wall opposite the fireplace that isn't centered on the fireplace is a real pain in the ass to furnish. A couch won't work in there. It's just too narrow. We had to get creative.

After ten minutes of brainstorming and getting nowhere my wife called it quits and went upstairs to gather laundry. Then I had a stroke of genius. I gathered every random piece of furniture I could find in the house, and laid out a "prototype" of my vision. There was nothing on the walls. There were floor pillows. Area rugs. Side tables. Nooks. Ottomans. All those things those non-budget-ridden HGTV suggest you do to "spice up a room". I called Hilary downstairs to see. "What did you do???" she exclaimed.

"This is just a prototype. We'd need to buy stuff, but maybe here's how it would go."

"I LOVE it!!! I can't believe you did this! It's perfect! Let's go shopping!"

Oops. I just created an expensive day for myself.

Friday, November 02, 2007

My new favorite blogger

By now you've probably seen the viral 1977 JCPenny catalog email making its waves around the internet. Here's the original post. I like this guy.

He reminds me of the point of my own post goofy shit that people might like to read. I gotta get back to that. I guess I'll start by giving the update on where I've been. Building furniture, and organizing monkeys.

On that note, I'll leave you to stew in your own juices until tomorrow, wondering about my monkey comment.