Saturday, January 31, 2009

What happened to my baby?

We dropped off OhPrincess2 at her first ballet lesson. OhPrincess1 and
I went on our walk. When we got back, we were greeted by a little girl
a little scared and a bit lighter in tooth count.

My baby lost her first tooth.

Out for a walk

Taking a walk with OhPrincess1.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Napwarden does it again!

The designer of both this blog and my poker blog is doing another blog design give away!

Just subscribe to her blog (very funny stuff!) and leave a comment. It's that easy.

You can comment every day until midnight on January 31.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sleeping is for the weak and the childless

3 weeks into the new year and I'm already showing signs of failing on one of resolutions. Although, I think I have a decent enough excuse for not posting...I'm friggin' tired.

Enough whining! Back to the writing.

If you read this blog and my poker blog, you already heard this story. Too bad, it's funny and goes along way to understand what makes me tick. That's a stretch, but at least it's a story, or more to the point, a string of letters arranged on the screen.

Last Friday night was my guys night out. Bourbonators. It's a whisky club that functions much like a book club only there is lots of booze, no woman, meat/cheese/crackers/bbq'ed meatballs (no veggie tray in sight) and we play poker most of the night. This was only different from other Bourbonator nights in that I had an awesome night playing cards, I found the beer and whisky extra tasty and the laughs extremely enjoyable.

My Saturday morning was NOT night like Mr. Weasel's. When I got home, OhPrincess1 was sleeping on the couch in the living room feeling pretty yucky. Sore throat, fever and an upset stomach.

~2:00 am - Fall asleep.

5:30 am - The OhCountess suggests I head down and sleep on the other couch...fair enough. The word sleep was used, good word.

6:15 am. Again, the wife is waking me up. Through eyelids that weight 8 tons, I see my bride and she tells me about water boiling on the stove. Will you make Jello for your daughter? I'll do anything for my family...of course. (inner voice used bad words...shh...don't tell) Jello made. Back to couch.

7:15 am. Phone is ringing. I'm too cheap to just break the phone so I make the hero call and answer. Sexy siren on the other end informs me of a scheduled Dr. appoint at 8:15 am. Great! Brain cells burn off enough haze to realize that if go any where near a's all over. I head to the fridge and grab two bottles of Cranergy and a diet Pepsi. Large bore needle would have been handy too.

8:00 am. Drive to Dr. with two kids. Breath mints used. 3 large doses of caffeine delivered to blood stream. No wait at Dr's office is a beautiful thing.

8:45 am. Go to grocery store and buy supplies for the long day ahead. Oh, and OhPrincess1 would like pain meds...stat.

10 am. The phone calls from work start. The department I work for is upgrading the single most important piece of software they use. I maintain enough cognitive abilities to answer questions through out the day. I have no idea how that worked.

Muddling along, I drifted in and out of consciousness. OhPrincess2 has decided that it's too scary to go through life if Daddy is taking a nap. This has been true for years. I'm ready to strangle who ever it was that planted that seed.

Sunday was a waste.

This is really no way to transition from one work week to the next.

By Monday, I'm at work, on call and recovering from the weekend without sleep. A cool thing did happen on Monday, I drank enough caffeine to get twitchy the Clinic called to ask a question of the parents of OhPrincess1. Our large medical provider is also a place of great research. They were interested in doing some follow up throat cultures to track the residual strep bacteria and find how long it's still there. My wife listened to the details and didn't think it sounded too bad. Money would be paid for each visit...not too shabby.

OhCountess tells the person it sounded interesting, but she really needs to ask OhPrincess1. "Um, why?" asks the researcher.

In our home, we have a philosophy about teaching kids to think for themselves and that their opinion, at times, is very important. They are willing to pay to do something that even I think is a really yucky thing to do to someone. Does she really want to do 4 more of those? Being the good kid that she is, she heard the dollar amount and immediately started spending it in her mind.

When our daughters were born, we insisted on NOT piercing their ears. We had friends that had it done and we were getting pressured from people that it's really the best thing to do, but to me, piercing a baby's ears is just wrong. I mean, immorally wrong. (I'm beginning to think that I might just be the only person in the old folks home that doesn't have any piercings or tattoos)

I really had no doubt that someday they would have their ears pierced, but we came up with a simple test for when they could get their ears pierced. They had to ask Dad.

For us, this would show that they were making this decision themselves. We wouldn't influence them. OK, I wouldn't be talking them into it, but I might make it sound's part of the test.

Asking your kid to be the research subject for some experiment seems to me like the same thing. Thoat cultures SUCK BIG ROCKS! No one like them. I'm sure there are parent's out there that see the $$$ and think "Cha ching!" but we have no desire to take that money. It's hers. She's the one saying "Ah" and ... I can't imagine. Sure, we spend gas money and time getting her to the Clinic for the test, but that's nothing.

Teaching our kids about making decisions and living with the consequences is very important to us. It's all part of the "preparing them for the world" goal I think every parent should strive for.

How much do you let your kids control their lives? Did you find it odd that the researcher asked why? Is giving your children free will a bad thing?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Vision of Hope

Today, we celebrate a tradition in our nation unlike any other in the world. Today, we transition from one president to the next.

The 12th Amendment to the United States Constitution has set January 20th as the date on which one president ends their administration and next begins. The President-elect is sworn in at noon by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court using the Oath of Office from Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and reads, 

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States
Every president since George Washington has had to state these words to the public with these words as their bond.

I like to point out these words to everyone for it demonstrates one of our Founding Father's most important ideals. This nation is bound together by one thing, the rule of law, as stated by the Constitution. No where does it say the president shall consider the Constitution or make sure to do their darnedest to circumvent the Constitution. There job is is preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Period. The Constitution.

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one." This is a quote spoken by the fictional character Spock in the movie, "Star Trek II: the Wrath of Kahn." Yeah, I know, this is all serious and there I go quoting a sci-fi movie, but this quote has resonated with me since I first saw the movie. People believe we live in a democracy and in some ways we do. The majority opinion is used to determine many aspects of our society, but technically, we live in Constitutional Republic. This means our elected officials must represent the wishes of the people under the rules of law as defined by the Constitution.

President Obama is inheriting a nation in trouble. Our economy is struggling. Our stature throughout the world has never been worse. Let's face it, George W. Bush is leaving the nation far worse then when he got it. Many things about this departing administration has left me wondering how the nation could have ever chosen this man to lead us, but today, we must move forward.

President Obama campaigned as the candidate of hope. As a father, I hope for a world for my children that is better then the world I grew up in. Barrack Obama is our newest president. He deserves our respect, he's got a big job ahead of him.

The picture I chose at the top of the page is one of the few photographs I have ever taken that I would consider a concept photo. I staged this. I liked the symbolism of my daughter standing at the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr, gave his famous speech. It's at the top of the stairs at the Lincoln Memorial. My daughter stood their reading the words of a man with a vision of a nation united. I share that vision.

I didn't vote for President Obama but that doesn't mean I don't want him to succeed. In fact, I believe the opposite. I so much want him to succeed.

The magic of this nation is that every 4 years, we get a chance for a fresh start and a new beginning.

Welcome to Washington Mr. Obama. We have a lot of hard work to do. Today, it's your party, tomorrow we start fresh.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Talking 'bout my generation

I love reading and hearing people completely screw up the lyrics to songs. Heck, from my youth, we had all kinds of alternative lyrics for songs. Who really sang, "Come on feel the noise, girls "ROCK" your boys." I'm pretty sure that's not what I heard in the gym during a dance in Junior High.

This morning, at the breakfast table, OhPrincess2 decides to show how well she can sing the song "I love rock and roll" from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

"I love rock and roll, let's put another dime in the juice box baby!"

I guess we sing what we know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Finally home

Figured I'd take one last picture of the display in the van. It's
actually supposed to be warmer tomorrow. We could only hope.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yep. That was a cold walk

Got the kids picked up and home. Thought I would share with everyone
the view of the minivan's thermometer. That's an F for Farhenheit.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Discovering your inner music

I'm sitting here at work, my headphones on, music playing. I've written before about how I use the Genius Playlist tool in iTunes to keep my music properly randomized. You will often see me tweeting about what song I've used to seed the playlist. By seeding I mean the song I tell the tool to create the list.

This morning I picked Bon Jovi - Dead or Alive. Probably my favorite Bon Jovi song. The Genius tool usually does pretty well at picking good songs and mixing them appropriately. Unfortunately, sometimes, AAACCKKK! Today, some how, it assumed I was looking for 80's pop, NOT 80's ROCK. In the playlist it created were the songs I expected. A little Warrent, some Queensryche and even Van Halen...but what's this aaaiiiieeee!!! Madonna and [gulp] Air Supply????

This got me thinking about a meme I saw a while back. I'd love to remember where I saw it, but yeah, what's not in the noodle.

Here's what I remember:
How many songs in your library? 20,246
How much time would it take to listen to it all? 57.7 days
What's your top ten songs by play count?
(Artist) - (Song) - (Play Count)
  1. Beck - Loser (46)
  2. Collective Soul - December (46)
  3. Alice in Chains - Man in the Box (42)
  4. Temple of the Dog - Hunger Strike (42)
  5. Pearl Jam - Even Flow (41)
  6. Alice in Chains - Would? (40)
  7. Blind Melon - No Rain (39)
  8. Pearl Jam - Jeremy (38)
  9. Stone Temple Pilots - Interstate Love Song (38)
  10. Jane's Addiction - Jane Says (37)
This list always surprises me. Since using the Genius feature, I don't really go looking for music very much. I would appear to be listening to just a bit of the grunge music of my

More random trivia. (It's random trivia Tuesday, right?) I have 397 songs that have played a minimum of 10 times. (Nice random!) The song played the longest time ago with 10 plays or more? Another Brick in the wall, Pt. 1 - Pink Floyd and the date was 8/21/08 (my youngest's b-day...weird)

Go forth, me liege. Consider yourselves tagged. Let me know if you chose to torture yourself with this list. I'd love to read what everyone else is pushing into their craniums.

Oh...and apparently no one took me too seriously and delurked yesterday. Don't make me wait until next year's delurking day...feel free to delurk today as well.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to forget about Friday

You know, I can't remember Friday. It seems like it was weeks ago. That my friends is the sign of a really good weekend.

Saturday night, we hosted another one of our co-ed poker home games. I've linked to the recap on my poker blog. We used it as a food drive to help raise some food for the local food shelf. What a great idea OhPrincess1 had! Since we were hosting living, breathing people at our house, there was no way OhCountess was letting them come in without the house getting a thorough cleaning. If we weren't sleeping or in the bathroom, we were cleaning...well...except for Saturday morning.

The local chamber orchestra and chorale group provides a program called HoNk*SquEaK*ScRaTcH*BooM! This program provides an opportunity for kids in 4th through 6th grade to try out and learn a little about playing band instruments. And not one salesman is allowed to sell you ANYTHING.

Here's OhPrincess1 playing the flute
The trumpet
The harp
And back to the flute!

What a great program! When OhPrincess1 was done looking around, she decided she wanted to go back to the flute for a little more time. The rule is, if there are no new kids in line, you can go back for a second look. The professional musicians were fantastic. They were so very patient.

On Saturday night, I told you earlier about our poker tournament, we asked everyone that came to bring some can goods suitable for the food shelf. The response was FANTASTIC!

On the right is the pile of food we gathered.

Thanks to everyone that attended!

The kids spent the night at grandma's. Saawwweeettt! We cleaned up a bit after the party and the went to bed. The silence was beautiful Sunday morning, but it didn't last all that long. 

We were to attend a memorial concert for my wife's stepfather. He past away a few years ago, but during the 70's and 80's, he rocked with a band named Combrio. Three remaining members of the band did a show in our hometown. What a fun time. When the band was doing it's thing, there was a little girl on the side of the stage at lots of shows. She was something of a mascot to them. You might have guessed, it was OhCountess. 

Late last night, I finally pulled the van back in the garage. I realized when I got into the house, I couldn't remember Friday. It seemed like such a long time ago. I took some really cool pictures this weekend. I've started feeding some of my favorites to my photoblog, maybe you should check it out. This first picture is one of my all time favorites. No, seriously, I love shots like this because, let's face it, I will never again be able to just stage a shot like this. It's just that good.

While we are at it, I hear it's delurking yourself :-P

Thursday, January 08, 2009

How timely! How to use Google Reader

I subscribe to many types of blogs, like a mentioned a couple of days ago. One of the blogs I subscribe to is the Google Reader Blog. It's kinda nice to read about changes before they happen.

Today's post on the Reader Blog was all about getting started with Google Reader.

Hope you enjoyed the video. I think the post mentions a few more vids that they've been posting. If you aren't using Reader or some other aggregate and love reading blogs, I think you should give this a gander. You might just learn something.

iTunes Tip - Finding a home for ripped audiobooks

It better not be a secret to anyone that I'm a "heavy" user of iTunes. I'm also an avid music listener with a nasty obsession of owning every song ever recorded that doesn't suck.

Not long ago, I did get some audiobooks on CD. I ripped them at work on a machine that didn't have iTunes but a different ripping program. I'm not that big an iTunes snob, ripping a lot of stuff doesn't really matter which program you use.

I had, at the time, every Harry Potter book on CD. Sweet! They are, in fact, good listening. Somewhere along the way, though, I noticed that these files were showing up in "Music". Extremely frustrating. Without these audiobook files I have 57.6 Days worth of music. Add these couple hundred files in and...well, I'm a bit OCD when it comes to my music. They shouldn't be here.

I tried changing their Genre to "Audiobook" - ya think? Well, the genre was correct but these files were STILL in Music. 

Just a couple of days ago I finally had enough. I found the property value on the file to move it to the audiobook section in iTunes.

On the "Options" tab of the properties of a file, there is a setting called "Media Kind" - change that to Audiobooks and WHIZ, BANG, BOOM! They vanish from Music and appear in Audiobooks.

Another of life's mysteries solved.

If you already knew this, why the hell didn't you tell me? If you don't care? Ok. Fine. Whatever. I thought I'd at least be friendly and share something extremely exciting to me. Meh.

In other news:

I did a cross between the read all button and the read all never sleep again methods in Google Reader. I pretty much just zoomed through last night stopping if I could clearly define the topic of a post in the first couple sentences. Many of us are too scatterbrained to get to the point (no worries, I'm TERRIBLE at it) so I took about an 2 hours but I finally got my unread posts count to Zero. That lasted about 5 minutes, but hey, it was better then it was. My sincerest apologies if I missed something important. Oh! are free to keep on truckin'.

Here's couple of items that's I found spreadable like a nice jar of Cheez Whiz:

Nap Warden did an awesome job on Weaselmomma's site redux.
Greg and Nellie are having a baby.

There were so many more, but alas, it's Thursday and my mind can't stop thinking about Friday.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

How do you catch up?

On the right side of my blog, you will notice "My Blogroll". If you find that your blog is missing, make sure you let me know.

The list is created by Blogger using the blogs I've added to Google Reader under the folder "personal". Works pretty well. I find blogs, I like blogs and add them to Reader. I tried Bloglines, Outlook and a couple of other ways to aggregate the blogs I liked. Nothing really compared to Reader. How many of you use it? What do you like about it?

I currently subscribe to 345 RSS feeds total. Now the vast majority of those blogs update, um, rarely. You might have also guessed that the number 345 is quite a bit bigger then the list on the right. Well, I like to read about other things. There's poker, tech, humor, iPhones, Wii, photography and a few private blogs that don't want to be linked in.

Photography blogs are typically only updated a couple times a week at most and most are, well, pictures. I can get through my photo blogs in a just a minute or two each day. Some are a bit more beefy, like Digital Photography School, but the rest are just pictures and a caption or paragraph. You can see my list on my photography blog.

The poker blogs are another breed. Many of them are similar to the personal blogs I read. In fact, many of the poker bloggers write about many topics, not just poker. Their blogs are in many ways deeply personal.  The blogroll on my poker blog is a good place to start if poker interests you.

The posts on the other blogs are really quite often scimmers. I can usually scroll through 50 tech posts in about 2 minutes and most of the Wii posts are the same or about games I've got 0% chance of ever playing. Zoom!

All of this leads me to a problem that I'm wondering how you handle. As you probably noticed, I was a smidge busy in December. Somehow, I fell behind.

I've been trying to tackle this by coming at the pile two ways. I start by catching up to my last stopping point, usually about a 75% of the last days posts, then I change the sort order to oldest to newest and read from the past. Wow. Some of you are fantastic AND prolific writers. Not to mention, the story lines. I miss one post and I end up wondering, WTF? How did this happen?

I feel like I just can't catch up. I've been hovering between 100 and 150 unread posts in poker and personal combined. Does any one do Cliff Notes versions of their blogs? (Gawd that would be fantastic) I really do enjoy reading and commenting on everyone's blogs, but this just seems hopeless.

Really, what do you do when you fall behind?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Letting go of the old and moving on to the new

Welcome to 2009.

2008 was quite a year for us. So many exciting things happened, there are things that I haven't even written about yet. Yikes!

I was planning on reviewing 2008 and see how I did on the old list of New Years Resolutions...yeah...resolutions. Did I publish those? Apparently not. So, for the sake of tradition, it looks to me like I accomplished everything I set out to do! Go Me!

Tomorrow starts the beginning of the long haul to Memorial Day. My next official office is closed holiday. Yowza. Does that make 5 full months of no time off? On the bright side, think of all the PTO I'll be hoarding.

OhCountess and I have been making lists for 2009. Our family seems to be really hitting it's stride. We share with the kids a love of travel and exploring. That's leading the list right now. Got any good vacation ideas? It's nothing personal, but Virginia is out. Our last two family vacations have been there. It's time for something NEW!

Debt reduction and elimination is our other main focus this year. This is the continuation of a work that has been in progress for a few years. We done a pretty fabulous job of getting rid of credit card addiction. It's that other debt we are looking at now: student loans, home equity line of I seriously doubt we can be debt free by the end of '09, but have you seen mortgage rates lately? If you have a traditional mortgage and haven't shopped around lately, you might be surprised to find mortgage rates are now back in the 4 and 5% range.

On a more personal note, I plan to keep up with the getting healthy progress I started in 2008. I'm down 20 pounds and would really like to lose another 40. I have no idea if it's realistic to even shoot for that much in just 12 months, but I'm gonna see what happens. For me, making and attaining goals is about set realistic and quantitatively attainable benchmarks. What does this mean? It means for this goal, I'm charting my weight and the goal is to keep a downward slope to that graph for 12 months. What the slope of that line is, I don't know and don't really care just as long as it trends lower continually.

My plans for this blog are simple and hopefully enjoyable to everyone involved (think you AND me). I enjoy writing and I need to do it more often. Over the last year I've noticed that I seem obsessed with writing something long and wordy...but I don't always enjoy long and wordy. Twitter has opened my mind up to thinking 140 characters or less. Not that I hope to post every day, but my goal for 2009 is to post more often, sometimes even something short and sweet. Let's see what this turns into. Hopefully, even you enjoy it. Got things on your mind? Let me know. Looking for an opinion? I got plenty! Heck, we might even get more pictures this year. I got REALLY cute kids :)

Yep, this was vague. Hardly a hard target in the group. There should be absolutely no reason I can't just finagle my way into rationalizing these one year from now. I'm really looking forward to 2009. I turn 40 this year. The 30's have been fantastic. Probably the best years ever. I have no intention of turning into cry baby at the loss of the 3, but I love the idea of being 40 and feeling like a 20 something.

So, rather that keep going and babbling on and on and on. Here's a toast to 2009!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!