Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year! (Fitness Edition)

Also posted at my Shrinking Family Blog

2009 is almost in the books now and heck the 'oughts' are also ending. We are heading into a new decade. Kinda cool. I'm looking forward to decade number 6 for me :) Remember, I was just barely born in the 60's. Rock on!

Looking back on 2009, I think I've got a lot to be proud of. I've dropped somewhere around 30 pounds or 2.1 stones, or 13 kilograms .01 tons, or 36 troy pounds (whatever the hell those are). Not too shabby. The holidays have been brutal on the workout/diet but January 4 starts me back on my routine.

Something new to the workout rotation in January will be swimming. I swam competitively in my youth. Swimming is such a great way to workout. Calories burn like super dry kindling.

I haven't made it to the gym as much lately as I'd like. Some of it is just lack of motivation but I kind of expect that when my routine isn't so routine. I did stop in to the gym yesterday for a nice run. The Nike+ stuff is still pretty cool. I don't remember if I shared it here or not, I know it's been updating Twitter and Facebook, but here's the link you can check up on me and see my runs:

My run yesterday taught me something about myself I didn't know and still don't really understand. I have several running friends that have encouraged me to find a running pace that I can do for a long period of time. OK. Here's what I'm learning. 4mph on the treadmill is the point at which I feel the crossover between walking and running. 5 mph I can run, but my legs quickly hurt like hell. 6 mph, still hurts but I can do it for about 10 minutes no problem. 7 mph still a little pain, but the heart redlines. And here's the new twist, I hit the button for 8 mph just to see - no pain. My legs didn't hurt and my stride felt comfortable. The downside, my heart felt like it was going to explode after about 60 seconds. Sigh. I think ultimately, I just need to keep it up and all of this will just improve. You think?

So, as my final post for 2009, I should probably do the whole goals thing. Last year, I did this in a very generic and attainable way. I'd like to lose another 30 pounds this year. That would be cool. I'd also like to keep learning to eat and live more healthy. I think this is pretty much where I left off last year. Attainable.

I'll leave you with this video. It's from one of favorite running songs. I love this song! Try it in your headphones and let me know what you think!

This is cross post from my Shrinking Family Blog. I might decide to transition all of this to this blog just to simplify my life. I love blogging but this multiple site thing is getting brutal. Before I do it officially, I'll post it here. Happy New Year!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

For your viewing pleasure, we wish you a merry Christmas!

OhCaptain, OhCountess, OhPrincess1 & OhPrincess2

Got it working! We are tracking Santa!!!!

Ah, there, it's working! You can follow Santa here until he's done. For more details, check out

We Believe! NORAD Santa tracking is back!

Every year, the good folks at NORAD are teaming up with Google to bring us the live tracking of Santa as he makes his way around the globe. One of the coolest tools for Christmas eve ever! You aren't a believer? Check it out!

If there's a way for me to embed the information here, I'll be sure to post it as soon as possible. Until then, be sure to check out all the action here,! This way, you'll know for sure when it's time to be in bed with the cookies and milk waiting for you know who!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tap, tap - Is this thing on?

How've ya been?

Let's see, when was the last time I actually wrote something on here, I mean really wrote something? I'm thinking it's been far too long. I miss writing here. I have been writing a fair bit more lately over at OhCaptain Poker, I've had a lot to say there lately, but more on that in a minute.

I can hear you asking, all of 10 of you that have visited this place in the last 48 hours, "OhCaptain, why oh why the long silence?" It would appear that our lives sometimes get filled with things far more important then blogging. Sometimes we just have to live our lives for a while away from the intertubes.

OhCountess finished grad school this past spring, go back and look - I even posted pictures! This did something to our lives we hadn't had for a while and that was abundance of family time and not one person complained. We've been living life together. Like I mentioned in one of my last posts, we've embarked on a journey to declutter. So far so good.

That's not everything, did I mention she had her tonsils removed a few weeks ago? I had no idea that did that in people older then 10. She's been getting tonsil stones...yeah, I had no idea either. Her doc and her decided to pull the plug on these crap collecting thingamagiggers the day after Thanksgiving. I had really meant to post sooner, but I was making pudding, jell-o and copious amounts of grape Kool-ade while maintaining a supply of crushed ice and administering pain meds. I'm not complaining because there's no way in hell I would trade places with her. No way.

While that's normally enough excitement for most people, we had spent most of the time leading up to that preparing for Christmas. In my world, we don't start getting ready for Christmas around December 22. That's plenty of time, right? This year was different. If we want to make sure the kids had a fun Christmas, we got damn near everything ready before her surgery. Weird.

I know, but OhCaptain...I know I'm making excuses. Really, I went to Las Vegas two weekends ago (which is true). It was the annual Winter Gathering for the World Poker Bloggers Tour (#wpbt). Last year, I took the Mrs. but this year, she just didn't think she would be up to it. I asked several times if she really wanted me to go...she actually booked the trip for me. I love her :) WeaselMomma - 13 didn't win. MomoFali - I love the Bellagio poker room! I didn't get to play there this time. That room is full of sharks and I like the rooms full of fishes. I did spend almost an entire day in the Lagasse Stadium over at the Palazzo. Holy crap that place is awesome. I actually don't play slots unless there is a gun pointed at my I could win anything back for your hubby and when I asked them nicely, they just smiled...sorry :-P

We are zooming towards Christmas and the New Year at our house. Most of our family lives in the area which you'd think we make for easy planning...why can't we just all get along and have one get together? Christmas will be spread over the next week. A little here a little there. Thankfully, work will be hit or miss as well. One thing I loved about my old job was I basically had the month of December off.

As I head to the new year, I'll need find time to write more. I really do miss it. I know I REALLY want to piss people off with a post about health care reform. I don't really want to piss them off, but my opinion will probably not be popular with everyone or even many. I had a fun idea about polar thinking which isn't about being cold. We've instituted our own economy in our house complete with Daddy Dollars and Mommy Mart. That might be fun. I'm sure I could go on and on about my distaste for something. Heck, I might actually post something funny my kids say.

I thank each of you that got this far and even still visit here. Believe me when I say, I miss writing and should be back soon. I can't imagine I can keep my mouth shut for much longer :)

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Festivus! Ain't it almost time for the airing of the grievances?

Friday, December 11, 2009

I love the neon

Walking around Las Vegas with Lightning36. Good times.

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The story of 3 bags and a broken clock

Here they are, 3 bags. My suitcase, camera bag and the bag I'll take to work with a change of clothes.

I'm updating all my blogs with this post because a trip to Las Vegas is when all 3 cross paths. I have poker, photography and fun all planned! The only thing missing will be my bride at my side. This will be my first trip to Vegas without her. Some parts won't be the same without her.

Have fun in Minnesota! While it's not warm this time of year, Vegas is also not 3 degrees. I won't be jealous. Promise!

Many updates to come! Laters!

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snowed in

No doubt, I'm gonna be here at the house for the forseeable future. We got around 11 inches of snow and top that with a lovely cherry, we now have wind gusts in the 40 mph range.

My street has 3 and 4 foot drifts. Until I see a plow, it's cookie decorating time!

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Location:County Road 22,Rochester,United States

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Are you ready for snowmageddon?

Winter is here and they say it's coming like a freight train. My area is already under a blizzard warning although there's only been a dusting of snow. These things are weird. I'm never really sure if the weather people have any idea what they are talking about. People start acting all funny like we are hunkering down for some sort of disaster. Oh well. Just read the sign above and remember Newton's First Law:
An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Truer words have never been spoken.

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Behold the power of reusability

In computer programming, we software engineers love the idea of reusing code and solutions whenever possible. It's one of the cornerstones of our jobs. It makes things less expensive to develop and frankly, reinventing the wheel gets horribly boring after you've done in a few times.

Wally is my hero.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Inspired by Kat

Kat's comment on my last post inspired me to find my favorite Gary Larson's Far Side cartoon of all time. This cartoon not only reminds me of some of my friends but makes me laugh for it's simple delivery. Gary Larson was a true genius in our time. I miss his work.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Heard at the dinner table

You'd think working half days and having done all that prep work I mentioned in the last post, I'd have nothing but free time. Hm. Nice try.

Tonight, at the dinner table, OhPrincess1 said something that just got me laughing:
I just don't get it. They make seedless grapes and seedless watermelon, so why can't they make boneless chickens?
Hope you are having a great day! I'll be back soon...there's too much to write about.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Take a deep breath...ah - now, back to work

Been a while since I really had the time post anything resembling a real update. Considering the price paid to read the content here, I'm hoping no one wants a refund. Har, har, I jest.

A little while ago I posted a picture of the hospital I work at, at night. Yeah, getting out of work has been an issue, it just seems like it's been one big project after the other. No biggie, that's the nature of my job.

But that's not the whole story. There's more to this story and I might just have a few minutes to explain these new adventures in our lives.

I've written before about my quest to loose a few pant sizes before. That quest is moving right along. If you check out my shrinking family blog, it tells all the details. I've been participating in a program through the fitness center at work for men. Two sessions a week plus a few workout sessions. I lost 10 pounds in 10 weeks. Kinda cool. I've got a few dozen more pounds to go, but progress is awesome! Seriously, go check it out! You might even get to be there to watch my progress as I attempt my first could happen!

Let's add the next cool change in our lives. OhCountess and I have been on a quest of late. This quest has been to simplify our lives and home. You know, unclutter.

This all start a couple of months ago. We decided to focus ourselves into getting rid of things like, debt. That's been going great. In our desire to become more organized run a smoother household, I did some research into things like "Getting Things Done" and other systems for whipping your to do lists into shape.

That system was more about organizing just tasks and to-do's. Nice, but not exactly what we were looking for at home. We wanted to make sure we were using are space and things correctly. You see, we felt like we had too much crap and it was really stressing us out. We got sick of not finding things and wondering where they were. Well, that, and OhCountess and I had vastly different opinions about how to accomplish our organizing goals. That's until I found a new book on a blog I had been reading, Unclutter. There was some really cool ideas there for organizing things, all kinds of things.

The editor in chief of the blog even had a new book coming out, "Unclutter Your Life in One Week". I loved the blog so I bought the book. Our lives have been too busy to accomplish all of this book in the week prescribed, but we've been using our free time working very hard on this. Sorting, making piles, filling boxes, giving away stuff to friends and family, and making trips to Goodwill. All in all, we are making progress.

You've got to experience this book and blog for yourself. Good stuff.

But if that's not enough, we got the next fly swimming in our ointment. OhCountess is going in for a bit of medical work. Nothing super scary and major, she's just joining the ranks of the tonsilless. The day after Thanksgiving is the big day. No biggie, right? Well, traditionally, the weekend after Thanksgiving is our big deck the halls weekend. OhCountess is not going to be interested in decorating the house for the holidays immediately after having her tonsils removed, so we've been busy getting all of our holiday ducks in a row. That's right, by Thursday, we'll have all of Christmas ready to go. Scary, idn't it?

It hasn't always been loads of fun, but so far, it's been worth it. We've got new closet space we never knew we'd have again and we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Soon, very soon, I hope to be back on track. I've been writing down topics and keeping them in safe storage. Any questions? Thanks for hangin with me!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ah. It's a night to relax

Home game poker. Nothing better. Whiskey club is at my house this month. Thankfully the cash game after the first tournament is helping to fund the night. I learned a game called 3 Card Monty. Not the street hustle but something else. Definitely -EV.

More on the whiskey layer. Time to play some cards, listen to music, rate the cartoons of the 1980's and drink tasty beverages.

Hope your Friday rocked too!

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Monday, November 16, 2009

You now it's been a rough few weeks

Here's a shot I just took of the outside of one of the older sections of the hospital I work at. Notice the lighting and the sky. Even for this time of year, I'm getting home far too late.

I miss you all. This schedule can't go on forever, can it?

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Movie review: The Men Who Stare At Goats

I know, I get out almost every Tuesday for poker league and once a month on most months to go to my whiskey club, but every now and then, a guy just wants to see a guy movie with the guys and maybe tip a few cold, tasty, bubbling beverages.

I had beers with the guys in a bar on a Friday night!

The occasion was the new movie "The Men Who Stare At Goats."

I often wonder how I should write movie reviews. Several people had tweeted messages to me that I needed to write one for this movie. Have you seen the trailer??? It's HILARIOUS! But trailers are sometimes just compilations of the funniest scenes and when you get to theater, you realize...yep, the trailer was pretty much it. Just for reference, here's the trailer again:

Amongst my guy friends, this movie was a must see. That doesn't happen all that often any more. Most of the movies we see are rated G or at best PG-13. I mean, holy cow, this was an R rated movie...and the trailer basically promises that there's not one second of romance or "chick flick" anything. It's all dude.

3 of us made a plan to meet at a bar, have a couple of brews, listen to some horrifically bad female singer butcher songs we hated when they were new. I mean they did a cover of "500 Miles" by the Proclaimers. Who does this in public? why would you torture us this way? I mean, for the love of Pete...that song sucked the first time, now, you sing it different keys? Ok, the singing sucked big giant rocks, but the beers were awesome (I should review beers more often, a good excuse to drink them, don't ya think?). Nummy good independent breweries. Mmmm.

We left the sounds of sing death behind and moved to the theater. Did you know that the theater we went to serves tap beer in a 32 ounce cup? Holy shit! I got a bottle cuz it was smaller. Someone needed to be a grown up. Of course the other 2 guys got the 32 oz. cup (seems like there must be a bigger word then cup)...never drink beer at a bar, then go to the theater and order one that big. Once the seal was broken, guys our age will need to get up and run a few times...just sayin'.

So, how does one write a review of this movie without basically giving away the movie? I have no idea. Let me just start with saying I really enjoyed it. It was very funny. All of the actors were great and I think there's a good chance I might just go again. Now, if you don't want to read any further, that's fine, at least you know where I stand and can judge for yourself the movie but please stop back later and compare notes, kay?

I'm removing my spoiler filter now. Quit reading if you don't want to know anything...

The movie starts by looking at the life of Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor). He's kind of a loser. He's a journalist in a small town along with his wife. In the course of his journalistic pursuits, he interviews a local man, Gus Lacey (Stephen Root). Gus lives with his mother. He's also pretty much a loser and a crack pot. He claims to be a remote viewer and has been watching the Lock Ness monster from his home here in Michigan. Yeah. When asked about these abilities, he goes on to tell the story of his time in the army. He was in an elite group of psychic warriors trained by our government, the best of which was a soldier named Lyn Cassidy. Um...kay.

Bob's pretty sure that he wants something more from his life. His wife, figures out she wants to be a tramp and shack up with another guy. So Bob does what any loser does that wants to prove his manliness, he travels to Iraq to be an embedded journalist.

When he gets there, he quickly realizes that being in Kuwait, living in a hotel is not really all that much adventure. Of course, he's calling the Mrs back home and trying to impress (or scare her) with all the great danger he's in. Not sure, but since the call we here is interrupted by her boyfriend she really doesn't care.

The movie takes a turn when Bob is getting some English lessons from a waiter, he notices that the guy at the table next him reading the newspaper has the name Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney) embroidered on his shirt. Hm...

Bob quickly springs into action and finds out that this is indeed the Lyn Cassidy he's heard about. Lyn goes on to start telling him about the First Earth Battalion. Lyn says he's been reactivated and is on a special mission into Iraq. Bob can't wait! He's gotta know more! He'll tag along with Lyn and Lyn will be his big story.

What happens from here on out explains the whole First Earth Battalion, the members, it's founding, it's philosophy, all while these two men travel in a hostile country. The hi jinx and stories are hysterical but the joy I got from this movie was it just wasn't a slapstick funny thing after funny thing ha ha. There's something more here.

This movie is really a story about men becoming disillusioned with the foundation of what they thought made them who they are and finding a new, more insightful understanding of who they are and why they are here.

*Spoiler Alert! One thing you notice about Lyn is that most of the time, he's never really demonstrating any psychic ability. Sure, he does a cloud burst (he stares at a cloud until it magically disappears...over a desert), but almost all instances of "Jedi powers" are easily explained and coincidences abound. Giving everyone around you LSD can sure make you seem special.

In the end, they accomplish their mission: they find out who. They find their own inner strengths. Lyn flies off into the sunset and Bob gets his big story...which of course is dismissed by everyone in the news biz, but who cares. He doesn't really because he's not got the inner strength of know who he really is to himself.

It was this deeper story that made the movie so entertaining for me. I love movies that show great personal journeys of discovery.

Would I see it again? Absolutely. Will I watch it at home? Absolutely. Will I drink to tall glasses of beer in a bar, head to the theater and drink a 32 oz glass of some domestic mass produced beer? Maybe. I guy gets thirsty.

Have you seen this movie yet? Are you planning on it? What did you think??? If you write a review on your blog, let me know, link it here, I'd love to read it! You think 32 oz glasses of beer are too big to serve...well, I don't know what you can do about that. Just let me know about this movie!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Google Wave Invitations: this thing is boring without friends

Looking at the top of this blog, it says, "The life and thoughts of a Midwest geek." I'm a geek and pretty damn proud of it I might add.

It's very rare for me to not have heard of some new tech thingy. I like tech thingies.

A while back Google announce this great new invention that was going to revolutionize the way we communicate and collaborate. It was basically a reboot of email. What they set out to accomplish was " reinvent email as we see and use it today," because less face it, email ain't perfect. And thus Google Wave was born.

Here's a cute video that attempts to explain it in a way most of us could understand:

Well, who wouldn't want in to that nugget of techie goodness? I promptly signed up to be apart of it and wait for my invitation to join the party. I waited, waited, waited, gave up and forgot about it for a while, thought maybe I didn't really sign up, waited, gave up and forgot and finally, I got my invitation a couple of days ago.

Yeah! I clicked the link, signed up and wham! I'm in! I'm using Google Wave!

So, now what? I'm using it. It looks cool. I created a wave but I'll be perfectly honest, no one is really there. I have 3 contacts in my contact list. 2 of them are people that don't seem to be around and the other one is a SEO I've had conversations with about advertising on my poker blog. Not really someone I'm looking to Wave with, if you know what I mean.

So, my first impression of Google Wave was, "I don't get it," and "OK, now what?" I found a website that has some really good reading material on the subject, The Complete Guide To Google Wave. I think I get it, but the problem is, I'm lonely in there. I have no contacts.

When you get signed up, they give you 20 invitations to give out to people. I've given one to a few of the people I figured would beg me if they knew I had them to give out. Cool. I'm also looking for volunteers to get some of the other ones. You want one? Let me know. Leave me a note in the comments. I think you need to have a Google account to do this, so if you still think that AOL is the Internet, don't bother.

I have a very limited number of invitations, so don't get mad if I don't have one to give you.

Are you already on Wave? Let me know! I'd like to try this thing out by adding you to my Contacts...again...comments people...put this in the comments.

I'm so far behind on writing about stuff lately. I guess I really don't need another geeky distraction but then again, what would I be without them?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Here's a group photo. Hopefully more to come! Can you spot your favorite character?

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Holiday Tie: Halloween Edition

I know. I'm a geek but hey. Holiday ties ROCK!

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Let it snow

First real daytime snow event of the season here today. Enjoy!

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things that make you go hmmm

This really could just be my own weird sense of humor, but in the middle of all of these deeply philosophical and heavy books was one that wasn't quite like the others. See if you can tell which one.

Not the one about why people believe weird things.

Or Carl Sagan...

WeaselMomma, you might need to read it :-) (hint: h a m p s t e r s)

-- these books were found exactly like this at our downtown Barnes & Nobel.

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I do like them, Sam-I-Am

Tonight, we had a very special event at our house. Very special indeed.

I'm always very thankful that ever night, each of the OhPrincesses still require dad to tuck. I dread the day when I'm no longer needed to straighten the covers and kiss the forehead and give them that last big hug of the day. Please tell me they need it forever.

One of my nightly habits with OhPrincess2 (6yr) is reading time. I no longer read the books but instead I get read to. That transition, was very special both my girls

I let her pick a book that she thinks she will be able to read me from cover to cover. For the most part, she's been sticking to the Level 1 and 2 books, but every now and then, she throws me a curve and tries one of my favorite books: a Dr. Seuss.

As soon as I found out my wife was pregnant with our first, I set out to buy all the REAL Dr. Seuss books and by that, I mean the ones that were actually written by the good Doc himself. There are several books branded with his name and resemble the originals, but we all know...they just aren't as good.

So tonight, OhPrincess2 picked one of my favorites, Green Eggs and Ham. I've just always loved the rhythmic word play and repetition. A masterpiece. An ambitious choice for a 6 year old but she loves this book as much as I do. (We've had several years of practice with this book, we particularly like the interactive part where everyone being read to yells "ANYWHERE!" Never heard of it, give it a try the next time you read it!)

I guess I can't explain it in words other then to say, that little girl, with the gap in her smile where a tooth used to be, read that whole book from cover to cover. She even let ME yell "ANYWHERE!" at the appropriate times. Hm, this seems to be turning into a brag post, well, so be it!

Daddy's little girl did it. Yeah! I'm so excited...I just had to shout from the top Getting read to a Dr. Seuss book still rocks. I can't wait until she tries my all time favorite: Oh, Say Can You Say?. Those tongue twisters are brutal, ya think?


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What a game

What a game. My hat goes off to the Tigers, this is probably the most exciting baseball game I have ever seen. I took an absolute ton of pictures and have many stories to tell, but alas, 12 innings and a really long drive home makes me really sleepy and way behind. For the moment, I'll just enjoy the moment.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Pregame warm up

Just having a beer at Huberts. 2 hours until first pitch. Must get the liver properly lubricated :-)

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

See you Tuesday night!

Tickets purchased! We will see you Tuesday night!

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

All tied up! #wintwins

Whew! Tigers lose (Thank you White Sox!) Twins win! What a day! Tomorrow, both teams are really starting the season all over again. This is what baseball is all about. You are in Twins Territory now. Win Twins!

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Be the win. We can do this.

Be the win. See the win. Visualize the win. We can do this. Bring it home boys! Win Twins!!!! All the pressure is on Detroit. You guys still want to start a rookie?

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why my belt is broken

In case you are wondering why my pants don't seem to fit any more, well, they got really stretched out in the wash...kidding. The real story is over here. It's also one more hurdle in my blogging life. Feel free to heckle, cry, laugh or better yet, encourage me on. My goal is to be much smaller to live a longer life and have more fun being a grandpa then anyone else has ever had. In case you missed the link, it's here. and here. And yes, for those counting, I do try and maintain 4 blogs. I am nuts.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I'm still such a sucker. Pearl Jam's new album came out today and I just had to race to the store to get it. I wouldn't want to go more then an hour without having every studio album they've ever released.

Any bands you still race to the store to buy?

Now, if you'll excuse me. I've got some new rock to listen too.

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yes, but does it suck?

Videos like these crack me up. You get a lot of use out of superlatives at an Apple conference.

This one is pretty funny too...dude.

My two favorites of this genre are extremely NSFW and are all about the effenheimer (continuous swearing...if offended by hearing swear words for 4 minutes...don't click the links!). My all time favorite is F'n short version of Casino. The truly funny part, it's over 4 minutes long. Yes, if you condensed the movie casino down to just it's f-bombs, the move takes 4 MINUTES. By contrast, the Big Lebowski version is only 2 minutes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Funia

This serves no other purpose then to kill time. Go over to PhotoFunia and try it for yourself. I'm also quite sure that this is as close as I'm ever coming to having my face this close to Angelia Jolie's breasts.

I'd love to see everyone else's! Been a long time since I saw a meme going around...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh my. A book of fiction

You might be shocked to learn this about me, but I'll share it anyways. I rarely read books of fiction. I love non-fiction. But every now and then I let a little make believe into my library. (it could easily be argued that some of my non-fiction is indeed fiction. For the sake of the children...)

The last book I read cover to cover that was not from the learning to read series or Dr Suess was the Da Vinci Code. Here's my copy of Dan Brown's latest, The Lost Symbol.

Hopefully in the near future I'll have time to read this. You ever read these? Whatcha think?

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Thoughts from the back of the bus

I like sitting in the back of the bus. I think I know why too. From here, I get to watch people.

My post about insurance took some interesting turns. A friend mine shared it on her facebook account. Of course she's got nearly 30 comments already. Sigh.

The debate over health care reform rages on and I can't help but notice that suffers from the same problems that we always suffer from. I'm strctly talking about the debate itself here (and I'm writing this on the bus using my phone, thank you) is that people like use the same argument regardless of what the original point was.

The purpose of my post was to explain how insurance works. Not how greedy private insurance is or isn't. I don't really care. I'm a pragmatist and like to look at all options and out comes.

Besides that fact that I really do believe that government is just as greedy as the private sector (self-propetuating beauracracies tend to do that), that really wasn't my point. My point was that no matter who provides the insurance, it's a gamble that both sides want badly to win.

The public option is not going to want go broke.

It's with this in mind, I had an idea. I've been thinking about writing a series of posts about life lessons I've learned playing poker. Tying this is with a plain talk discussion about logic fallacies. If you don't know what those are, don't worry. It's basically how our political discussions work :-)

The bus is almost at the hospital so I should be signing off. Hey, at least I might actually post something more often. It could happen.

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i. Sorry about the typos. This screen is small and I don't have much of a spell check.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Testing the I need to blog system

Just downloaded the BlogPress app for my iPhone. Is this thing on? Can you hear me now? My bus driver is doing overpass circles. So weird.

Let me know you got this, um Kay?

By the way, this picture is from a new display in the entrance to the hospital I work at. It's one of the original elements from one of the oldest sections. I think shooting this with my good camera would be fun.

-- Posted from my cell phone that starts with the i.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Insurance's Dirty Little Secret (It's gambling...)

I find it really fascinating that most people really don't understand the nature of insurance. Most people just think they pay premiums and get free stuff if bad things happen. Kinda neat a cuddly, don't you think?

Insurance is really just gambling. It really doesn't matter what type of insurance, it's still just gambling. You are making a wager that your expenses will be higher then your premiums. You are also betting that you don't have the discipline to save the money needed to cover rainy days. The last part of the bet, is probably a sure thing for most people, but it always strikes me as odd that people just don't think about it this way.

Over the course of your lifetime, you pay premiums for all kinds of insurance. Car, health, home owners, travel, extended warranties. Why do you do it? I think most people do it out of fear.

What if the bad thing happens? I'll be screwed!
Maybe. Maybe not, but it makes you feel better knowing if it does, you win the bet.

Most consumers have become better shoppers when it comes to extended warranties. These are really nothing more then a wager on the quality of the item you bought. You are betting the price of the extended warranty that the item will break at an expense higher then what you paid for the warranty. Sometimes this is a stupid bet because the house is already offering a comp if it breaks under the normal warranty. You just made a bet you can't win.

Health insurance is no different then other insurances. A risk pool is everyone that pays into an insurance system. These people are making a wager that their expenses will be more then the sum of their premiums. Hopefully, by now, you are starting to see the problem. In order for insurance to work, the risk pool needs to take in more then the sum of the expenses paid by the policies associated with the risk pool. It really doesn't matter if this is private or public. This is just how it works.

I tweeted this morning about something that has always bothered me. The pundits are exposing statistics about the number of people that are not covered by health insurance. It is assumed that EVERYONE NEEDS health insurance. Like it's impossible to go through life without it. What these statistics don't tell you is that there are a number of people that chose not to play this game. The could have health insurance but chose not to buy it.

Why would people not buy it?

Let's say I'm 25 years old, a male, and rich. I'm rich enough to pay for most medical bills with cash out of my pocket. Why on earth would I pay good money for something that just a bad bet?

Sure, but what happens when he gets hit by a bus?

Good question. How many people actually get hit by a bus? What is the likelihood that a 25 year old male is gonna suffer a horribly expensive traumatic health incident? To the 25 year old, this looks to be a truly stupid way to spend their money. A bad bet.

Why do we care? The reason that most of us care is that if we added more people to the insurance system, it would lower the costs of premiums because we'd have more fish, um, I mean, more people whose premiums are higher then their expenses to our little ponzi, I mean, risk pool.

Fixing health care isn't just about forcing lower premiums. That's just stupid. The money to pay for health care has to come from somewhere. Adding laws that force insurance companies to take bad risks, people with preexisting conditions, is kind of a weird idea. You are telling the operators of the risk pool that they should add people that have a statistical likelihood to be a drain on the resources. A bad bet for the risk pool and the insurance company since their premiums will be far less then their expenses. Some of these people will not lead to higher expenses, but some will. Let's hope most are fish, damn it, I mean people that pay more then the spend.

What we, as a nation, need to figure out, is how we lower the cost of the entire industry. Health care is consuming a lot of our resources that we would like to use for other purposes. Insurance costs aren't the only problem. Turning the entire health care insurance into a government run risk pool isn't the answer either. We need to make hard decisions about what we spend our money on and what we get in return.

This country spends money on health care like crazy. Our poor, sit in emergency rooms for hours waiting to see a doctor to get asprin. They can't pay, so the rest of us do. Billions of dollars are spent doing amazing and heroic things to keep people alive. Costs be damned. DNR (Do not resuscitate) orders are ignored by people thinking they are doing the right thing, only to prolong the inevitable. Countless x-rays and tests are performed who's costs don't make it worth the information they get. The biggest problems we have are in the details.

Let's take a step back and look at this problem rationally. Premiums aren't too high because premiums are too high. Premiums are too high because expenses paid by risk pools are too high relative to their income and the value they recieve on that expense. This is a big problem and needs more then just a quick fix. It needs the right fix.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Summer's last breaths

Summer is winding down. Figured I would finish it the way I started
it. Sitting around the fire.

My thoughtful neighbor dragged his TV in the backyard so we could
watch the feabile Twins pitching look terrible against Cleveland. The
TV is that square glow you see.

Back to my bottle of Fat Squirrel...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Remember walking Wednesdays?

These feet didn't miss a Wednesday in 3 months.

Just felt like bragging :-)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

For the serious baseball fan

T-ball played by Kindergarteners is an acquired taste. It much less
about the baseball, the score or even the rules. It's all about
hanging with kids you've never met before and finding your new best
friend for ever.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Overheard in the kitchen: the birth of a loan shark

Saturday night, OhCountess was getting ready to go out for a night on the town with the girls from work. She checked her wallet and figured she was a few bucks short.

OhPrincess1 is saving her pennies like a Midas in an effort to buy a Nintendo DSi and earlier in the day had counted up the stash and found out she'd made her goal.

This seemed to create a match made in heaven. OhCountess was in a bit of a hurry and really didn't want to drive out of her way to hit an ATM for our bank and OhPrincess1 has a readily available pile of cash.

OhCountess, "OhPrincess1, do you think you could lend me $10 until tomorrow?"

"Sure Mom but I don't think I should just give it to you. I think you should have to pay me back a little more then you borrowed, pay me $11 in the morning?" said OhPrincess1.

"Honey, that's called interest," replied OhCountess, "and that's like 2,000%. That's pretty high, how about I pay 25¢."

"OK, I'll give you the money in ones and you pay me back in a ten dollar bill and a quarter. Deal?"

Mom laughs and agrees.

You just gotta love it when a 10 year old figures out complex banking concepts and negotiates usury rates on a short term loan.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Got grass?

Saw this photo today and just had to share it. It's from the web cam looking down at the new Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.

Look's GRASS! It's so pretty, my eyes are tearing up (not really, real men don't do that).


BTW - Target Center kinda looks ridiculous with the grass roof...just sayin'.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not quite ready to give up on summer

Hope you are working as hard as me today. Being a dad can be sooo hard.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Birthday Family Time

Here's a little preview of how we are spending this big birthday

Maybe your world didn't change

As crazy as this may sound to people, I'm a huge believer in the idea that we are all pretty much equal especially when it comes to men and women. Sure, for the most part, women are nuts, we can all agree on that, but at work and in our potential, women and men can pretty much do everything the same. I know, there are a few physiological differences, but the last I checked, we live, we breath, we love, we laugh and in the end...dust.

I've been asked repeatedly over the years if I'm disappointed that we never had a baby boy. That is one of the most bizarre questions I've ever been asked. Are you asking me if I'm disappointed in the two beautiful, healthy, happy kids I already have? Are you a friggin' moron? My answer for all these years has been the same. Why? Girls can play baseball.

One thing that will forever be different for men and women is the process of making your first baby. Not the beginning part, we should all know how that works and if you don't, go ask your mother. I'm talking about the gestation part. I don't know about you, but that was the weirdest 8 months of my life.

It all started about 10 years and 8 months ago. I came home from work to my wife smiling like the Cheshire cat. She handed me this little wrapped box and asked me to open it. I had no idea what this was. We got married in September, and it was the middle of winter so it wasn't our anniversary. We started dating in the summer too. Her birthday was in March. Is it Bastille Day? Do we celebrate that? Maybe it was MLK day and I missed the memo about exchanging presents. Nope. None of those were it. Inside the box was a little bib that read "I love my dad."

Um. Oh. Um. Holy crap! I knocked her up! Wait...I'm married to her. It's legal. Whew. OK...breathe...breathe...

And with that, we started a journey that would transform both of our lives forever.

Ladies, pregnancy is a really weird thing for guys. For the next 8 months, I would hear the stories and see the changes as my bride transformed from hot goddess of seduction I spent all my time wooing, to the most beautiful incubator of life. I could see the changes. She would tell me about them. She would run to the bathroom and puke her guts up. Lay there at night, not sleeping. But for me, the guy she married, I had no reference to what was really going on. As strange as this sounds, I didn't get it.

Months later, the baby bump, now a prominent fixture of my wife stature, was moving on it's own. Kinda like in the movie Aliens. Yes, to a guy, that's a valid reference. We can see things moving, we can feel the pressure, it was like she had bad gas. It was cool and she told me it was our baby, but still, I didn't get it.

Bringing both of our kids to term was a challenge. I've written about this before. Each pregnancy was a sick game of chicken. How long could the baby stay inside before the strain on my wife would kill her. The first time through this, I was an emotional wreck with a rock for a facade. I don't know if even at this point my wife knows just how stressful it was for me to be asked by the medical staff to think about choosing between her and the baby. Inside, I usually just screamed, "Hm. How about fuck you? They will both live. Capice?" To a young husband...

But even through this, I didn't really get what was going on. My wife told me how she could feel this little life inside her. She told me how beautiful it was. Honestly, it felt like gas bubbles to me. I really didn't get it. I had no idea what any of this meant. I'm just a guy and this doesn't compute.

OhPrincess1 took about 2 weeks to deliver. That's sort of an exaggeration and sorta not. With OhCountess' health problems, they'd started inducing and then stopped and then started and then stopped and then I think I went toe to toe with a doctor and got his staff's mouths to drop when the dickhead doctor asked me, "Excuse me, do you know who I am..." and I replied, "Yes, do you know who I am?". Geez. Seems no one had ever stood up to him before. Oops. I missed that memo. Jack ass.

I still didn't get it. What was all this about?

A week after my encounter Dr. Dickhead, we were at our hometown hospital, the same one OhCountess worked at as an RN in OB - you don't know how handy this is :). At this time of my life, I was an intern that worked 50 miles away. This means any time missed is time not paid. We were still to young to really be able to afford all this starting and stopping so the plan was I'd go to work and she'd call me when things started to proceed. Induction can take time.

We made it to lunch before she called me. Please remember, this was 1999. I had a cell phone and this was a big deal. I was out depositing my paycheck (remember when we had to do that?) when it rang. "I'm on my way!" A call to the office triggered the "OhCaptain's wife is having a baby" emergency plan. The president of the company made it clear I only needed to make one call to the receptionist and to get the hell out of town and take care of my wife. Thanks!

I got to my bride's side. I held her hand. I watched the meters. I shifted in the chair. I went for a walk. I watched some TV. I read a magazine. I talked to the staff. This wasn't really going as fast as we'd hoped. At 8 pm, the doc came in and asked if we wanted to have a break until morning. We can do that? Huh, I didn't know. They turned off the drugs and my wife fell asleep.

We'd decided that since we lived less the 5 minutes away, I'd crash there and she would call me in the morning. All the staff knew me and several of the nurses assured me that they would call me with ANY news. I'll be honest. I'm still not sure what any of this is about, but food and zzz's sounded good.

6 AM, the phone rings. It's OhCountess they are starting again and I should get to the hospital. I raced in. I got to my bride's side. I held her hand. I watched the meters. I shifted in the chair. I went for a walk. I watched some TV. I read a magazine. I talked to the staff. This wasn't really going as fast as we'd hoped. My wife looked exhausted. She was noticeably uncomfortable. There was nothing I could do but sit there helplessly and wonder to myself just what the hell was going on and what this was all about.

By afternoon, things seemed to be changing. By then, I'd figured out how to read the machines. There was a monitor for my wife and one for the baby. There was this belt thing that monitored the heart rate of the baby and muscle contractions in my wife. I'd noticed a pattern in the muscle contractions and got pretty good at getting ready for a good she started noticing that I would stand up and take her hand just moments before the contraction. The doc comes in and removes the belt. I asked her not to. She told me she was "done with it", "but I'm not. You see this pattern here, she's about to have a contraction and I like to be ready."

"You just figured that out sitting here?" she asked. I am geek for Pete's sake.

I really don't remember much of the actual labor. The OB nurses were great and gave me some quick pointers on coaching earlier. I never went to baby class so I was winging it.

OhPrincess1's head was there! I could see her brown hair, but that was it. Just the very top. The doctor and my wife worked forever to get her out. She's stuck! More pushing...the doctor coaching. I still felt helpless. I still didn't get it.

Finally, around 6 PM, the doctor uses this thing that kinda looked like a toilet plunger and gives a tug. There she was! My goodness that's messy. "Do you want to cut the cord?" I can do that? Sure. Snip! They whisked that screaming baby away. Professionals were attending to my wife, more attending to the baby. I just tried to stay out of the way. Trying to just let everyone do their jobs. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing.

They brought the baby over to OhCountess. My wife had never looked more peaceful, happy. She had also never looked more beautiful. She held the little girl in her arms. It was perfect. I reached down and kissed her.

She kissed me back. "Do you want to hold her dad?"

Wow. Are you talking to me? My father wasn't in the room, was he? I'm not sure I'd ever held a baby before. She hands her to me, this little bundle. I held her in my arms and looked into her eyes. She was perfect. She was amazing. I got it. I'm a dad and this is my daughter. In that moment, I left my life as just a guy behind. Look out world, I'm a dad, a father.

Happy birthday OhPrincess1! Tens years has gone too fast.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Interesting speech, almost like it was given yesterday

A friend of mine sent me a link to this video. I have no idea how authentic it is or not, but I have also read the writings of people opposed to socialism from our past. Whether Obama is moving forward with socialism or not, we, as Americans need to consider this for our future.

I heard this morning, that every American agrees that there needs to be reform in our health care system. I think that is true, but I'm still not convinced this is a crisis that needs to be fixed by racing huge, sweeping legislation through congress that institutes a system that's flawed. We have time. Let's do it right and think very hard about what it is we are doing.

Waiting to do the right thing is always better then rushing to do the wrong.

This video is a speech given by Ronald Reagan. He's been dead a while but his words sound strikingly familiar. Give it a listen.

I'm not advocating one solution over another, I'm just asking that we stop and think about the problem. Define what it is, examine it's causes and look for a solution that is both pragmatic and affordable.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Air whipped sugar syrup is sticky

The temps here in Minnesota have finally returned to normal. For those of you that aren't from this great state, you may not realize that it's not frozen here year round. July and August are typically in the upper 80's and low 90's. Not south hot, but definitely not the arctic people think it is.

We had some special guests at our house this weekend. TheBiggTree (TBT) and company came to visit. TBT and his wife have 2 boys...almost the exact same age as our two girls. We love getting the clans together. The kids pair up by age group, the wives do wifey things and TBT and I...well, we have no one to tell us we are two old to play too much Wii and poker.

This weekend though, had one big item on the agenda.

You might remember, a few months back, he and MumblingSages began a bit of a rivalry. With TBT out to a 1-0 lead in the races, MumblingSages brought can of whoop ass and tied it up. Well done by both. Even Mrs. TBT ran. I manned the camera, but may have caught a piece of the running bug. We'll have to see.

The race didn't go as well as TBT had hoped. We got back to our house after the race and got cleaned up...well, they got cleaned up. I barely broke a sweat taking the pictures. While standing around trying to figure out what to do. TBT snacked on one of my friend Eloise's gourmet marshmallows.

I'm really not exactly sure how we got on the conversation, but somehow, we got to the point where I got to showing him how I could get YouTube to work on my TV, and to demonstrate it and that the world's greatest TV cooking show host, Alton Brown, had done an episode on how to make homemade marshmallows.

Here's part 1 of Good Eats episode S11E12 - Puff the Magic Mallow:

And here's part 2.

Well, that actually looked simple enough. Here's the recipe from the show. I'd write it out for you, but I'm pretty sure it's copyrighted...Let's just say, I went to the pantry to get the following ingredients:

  • 3 packets of gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
Seriously. That's all it takes + water. I'm assuming all of my readers have running water. If you have Internet and no running water or flush toilets. we need to talk about your priorities.

This is where I'll remind the readers that this content is copyrighted. Stealing shamelessly a good idea will only get you in if you are a TV executive and think this idea rocks...let me know...but TBT and I had some really cool ideas for a TV show...let's just say the name of that show could be, "MOM! Dad's in the kitchen!"

TBT and I are both well versed in the kitchen. We are grown men that know how to cook. Get over it. It happens. Anywho, neither of us had ever made a sugar based candy before. The hardware you need to make marshmallows have two items that if you don't have, you don't want to try this until you do. You MUST have:
  • A candy makers thermometer
  • A stand mixer
You don't have these, just step away from the sugar bowl. I'm assuming that the following are a given in any kitchen:
  • small sauce pan (5 cups or a little bigger would be good)
  • spatula or as my home econ. teach would say, a rubber scraper
  • 13X9 pan
  • aluminum foil
While these don't get mixed into the recipe, you will never want to handle air whipped sugar syrup with them:
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • corn starch (which tastes like shit. I tried it. Nasty stuff)
  • powdered sugar (doesn't taste like shit. Actually, it tastes really good. Made me want a donut)
If you watched those video, you should get the idea that when you are making homemade marshmallows, being one step ahead of the game is very important. This really is all about making air whipped sugar syrup and it's VERY sticky.

We had done our homework and got all of our ducks in a row. We laid the entire mess out on the counter in our kitchen and set it. Starting with the gelatin in the mixer, we carefully covered all of the powder with the ice cold water. We had no idea what blooming was all about, but hey, it's in the recipe.

The next step was to put about every last bit of glucose we had in our house into the sauce pan. It's hard to believe it, but you are supposed to add 1 1/2 cup of granulated sugar into a half cup of water. It's not really edible's a little thick. Adding the corn syrup makes it look a bit more moist. Get it all boiling and watch the thermometer. We took this opportunity to prepare the 13X9 pan. It was about to have the world's stickiest goo dumped into it.

Both of us had spent enough time in the kitchen to know that when making candy by this method, the listed temp was VERY important. When a recipe calls for 240°, they mean it.

At this point, we were anxiously waiting to get to the next step. Watching the red line on thermometer move ain't real exciting, but when it got to 240° we sprang into action and got the molten sticky stuff carefully loaded into my stand mixer and cranked her up to 10. I was really disappointed I couldn't get to 11, but top speed is top speed.

The really cool thing about this process was you could hear the mixer change speeds when the goo started to change states. We stood. Watching the mixer. We had 14 minutes to kill and no idea what we gonna expect. A few minutes in, it really started to look like whipped cream, but we weren't sure if it was right.

At the 14 minute mark, we were 1 minute away from done, so it was time to add the vanilla. I'll just warn you, when you add this, it will provide just enough lube to send your mixer spinning like a top again. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

The next step was the one spot you will really want to have an assistant. When the 15 minutes was done, you are gonna want to get this sticky mass out of the mixer and into your pan as quickly as possible. This stuff is VERY STICKY and starts to set up pretty quickly. A well lubed rubber scrapper will help a lot. Below is what ours looked like in the pan. I suppose you could shoot for pretty, but why? If you must know, the whisk attachment and the rubber scraper tasted delicious. Could you say no?

The next step is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do. You must wait for 4 hours for the blob to set up. Yikes. The urge to dive in is so strong...I wish you luck.

When we got to the end of the wait time, we promptly made a huge mess. You are to snap this pan over onto a sheet of parchment paper that's well covered in magic dust (corn starch and powdered sugar). For reasons that can only be explained by proper breeding, we got the bright idea to just snap and pound this into the counter. Did I mention it was well dusted with magic dust? POOF! I was covered in sugar and starch. I'm so glad my camera was no where near this.

Once out, it was time for cutting. The pizza cutter suggestion that Alton mentions works great! The following picture shows the pile of heavenly pillows we made. They were disappearing pretty fast...
The deed was done. All that was left was the eatin'

OhCountess had a pretty awesome idea. We make a pretty mean chocolate fondue. The recipe is to add the following ingredients to a fondue pot on a pretty low heat. Ours is electric and 2 to 3 is just about perfect.

To the pot we add:
1/2 cup of carmel dip for apples (store bought tub)
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 bag of chocolate chips (I like to add the equivalent of 1 bag but use 3 different types of chocolate - I'm a chocolate junkie...sorry)
1 tablespoon of hazelnut flavoring

heat until smooth.

The picture on the right shows that this goodness is best served with a buffet of dipping bits. We used apple, banana, kiwi (my fav!), strawberries and you can see the marshmallow squares again.

For a little extra goodness, we crushed up some graham crackers and bought a bag of the Heath Bar toffee chips. You guessed it. First dunk the apple in the chocolate fondue and then roll it in the toffee bits.

The marshmallow of course tasted amazing plain, but the chocolate was taken up an notch...and rolling it in the graham cracker...pièce de résistance.

Easy peasy. I had spent most of this day twittering about this. I think I made people hungry.

These were a blast to make and even more fun to eat. Any questions? Let me know if you try it, I'd love to know how you did!