Sunday, December 07, 2008

Monthly Update

I posted some pics earlier today, so i guess this counts as my third post of the day, which brings my daily average for the month up to ... .5?

Anyway, the last few weeks have been rather hectic.

Two weeks before Thanksgiving (American Thanksgiving, that is) I went fishing on the Columbia River with my father-in-law Roger, and my brother-in-law, Eric. I drove out to Eastern Washington on Friday night, and arrived at Eric's place around 11:00 PM. I made the necessary mistake of stopping at Starbucks in Ellensburg, Washington to get a cup of coffee around 9:15 PM, and therefore couldn't sleep all night. We were up at 4:00 AM to get to the river. We stopped at McDonald's on the way there for more coffee and a biscuit. Those of you who know me will be shocked by that admission. I haven't eaten at McDonald's since 1997, and had a very long streak of avoiding that place that I cherished. I hope I have now started another steak.

It was frightfully cold, but a beautiful day other than that. The stars were out, the coyotes were howling, and at sunup, the fish started biting. I landed a Steelhead at 7:15 AM, and Roger got one at 7:25. We took to the boat around 9:30 and Eric pulled in a Pike Minnow (aka Squawfish) and a Steelhead later in the day. We left the river around 2:00, drove back to Eric's, gutted and filleted the fish, and I headed home, arriving around 7:15 PM, just in time to see my kids off to bed. I slept well that night.

The following weekend, Lisa did a dance competition up in Everett, WA, and I was left with the kids for pretty much the whole weekend. It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. They tend to not act up as much when it's just one of us at home. Not sure why that is.

Thanksgiving weekend we went to Lisa's parent's place for Turkey Day, and came back late at night, did our Christmas shopping on-line on Friday, and tried to take it easy. Unfortunately, while playing with Lorelai on Saturday morning, I took a spill and re-dislocated my right shoulder, something I've done four or five times in the past. This one was pretty bad though and I ended up in the ER on Saturday afternoon verifying that I had gotten it back into place correctly. I had, but it was still pretty sore for a few days.

This weekend, we took the kids to the Aquarium in downtown Seattle, and they had a blast. We got pretty tired chasing them all around, but they loved to splash in the tidal pool displays where you can touch the starfish, and it was fun to watch them point at all the fish. We also had lunch at a place called the Fisherman's Bar and Restaurant down on the pier, and they gave us a free pass to the indoor carousel next door. The kids loved riding on the horsees and I had to pry Reece's fingers loose when the ride came to a stop. We met up with Lisa's sister Katy there and she took some great photos of the kids. Lorelai loved running around the pier with her (as you can see in the photos).

In other news, my work is going very well. I'm working on a really big project that is very high profile in my industry. It's going to be a career maker if it works and I'm learning a lot about brand new technology that hasn't even been released to the public yet, doing stuff I never thought I'd get into, and really enjoying it.

My writing is still going really well too. I'm not sure if I will meet my goal of finishing the story I am working on by Christmas since I don't know how it is going to end yet, but it's nearly two hundred pages long at this point and the words keep coming, so I'll keep typing until they don't.

My reading list over the last few weeks has included:

The Sunrise Lands (SM Stirling) - Book 4 in the Change series. Pretty good, but not as good as book 1

Down the Long Hills (Louis L'Amour) - An old west yarn about two kids lost in the prairies. Pretty good and a quick read

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (Stephen King) - I loved this book about a little girl lost in the woods of Maine.

The Appeal (John Grisham) - Probably my least favorite JG book I've ever read, and I think I've read all his fiction.

Latest Movies
Definitely, Maybe -Yes it's a chick flick, but a good one. I'll give it 4 stars out of 5

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - not bad. I can see why it's so popular, but the soundtrack is pretty bad.

First Snow - Not bad, but not great

Four Brothers - Horrible movie. Skip it

Casino Royale - Had to watch this before we went to see Quantum of Solace (which we still haven't seen due to my shoulder injury.) Loved this movie.

Atonement - Pretty good movie, but a little hard to get into at the start

The Machinist - Freaky movie. Christian Bale dropped to 121 lbs to make this movie and looked really disgusting. The guy gets a little too into his part for my taste.

The Incredible Hulk - Actually a pretty good flick if you accept it for what it is, a comic book on steroids

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - A complete waste of 2 good hours.

Run, Fat Boy, Run - Not bad, but not up to my expectations for Simon Pegg

More fun on the Dock

Age of Aquarium

We took a trip to the Seattle Aquarium yesterday, and then had lunch down on the pier with Lisa's sister Katy. Here are a few photos from the day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Photos

Hello, Everyone! It's Lisa with a guest blog entry. Joe's sister, Cindy, purchased a new camera and was kind enough to give us her fabulous "old" one. I think she got tired of our slow fuzzy pictures taken with our old digital. I don't blame her. I did, too. Now I actually enjoy taking pictures and am getting MUCH better shots. So, watch out - we may now overload you with pictures. Ok, promises, promises. I recognize it is one thing to take better pictures, and it is another to actually stop the laziness and post them. Well, for now here are a few pictures of two great fall activities of late...

Apple Harvest - Eastern Washington 2008:

That last one is of cousin Victoria and Grandpa in the orchard. Note to my family members -- I took a number of family pictures. Check out the Flickr site here for the entire group of photos. Mom, the pictures of your flowers can be found there as well.

Reece and Lorelai at the Pumpkin Patch:

(This is just a selection the full set can be found here

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pics from the Trip

So, I don't know how this happens, but every time we bring out the camera, my mother disappears. We haven't got one shot of her with the kids. Hopefully, someone else got some.

So I'm not the most reliable blogger..

Okay, I admit it, I'm not the most reliable blogger, and I'm always full of excuses. Another month has gone by without an update, so I beg your forgiveness, we'll see if I can get you caught up.

In mid-September, we took the whole family for a trip back to see my folks in Canada. We had planned for this long trip for months, and though we looked forward to being there, we were filled with all the fear out hearts could hold when we thought about the actual trip.

It's about 45 minutes from home to the airport. It's a 4 hour flight from Seattle to Detroit. Then it's a two hour drive from the airport to my parent's house. Combine that with getting through security, and getting a meal at SeaTac, and getting a rental car and getting the child seats installed and getting over the border, it makes a for a very long day.

We also had one of the bitchiest TSA agents in SeaTac I had ever come across. I try to put a smile on my face when I go through security, but the system they have set up there must have been designed by complete and utter morons. You show your id and boarding pass to this guy, and 15 feet further on, you have to go through the whole process again while your carry-on baggage goes through X Ray. And if your passes happened to get into the little tray the give you to put all your crap into while you're struggling to corral 2 little toddlers, you get an earful from the TSA, adding to the stress of an already stressful event. I was half tempted to hand one of my kids to her and ask her to hold on while I found my passes.

After a quick lunch of Burger King (yuck in the worst way, but it was the only option in the decrepit hole that is the SeaTac South Terminal), we boarded the flight and hoped with all our might that the kids would fall asleep at some point during the trip. No luck.

While they weren't the worst I could have imagined, they did go a bit stir crazy and I swear Reece was trying to tunnel out of the plane somewhere over South Dakota.

We spent four full days at my folks house, which doesn't seem like a long time, but we packed a lot into those days, and saw as many relatives as we could. The kids just loved all the attention, and went into major grandparent with drawl when we got home, and were real little pains in the pa toots for days.

Reece came down with a cold on the third day, and Lorelai followed the next day, and it hit me the day we flew home, which made the airplane ride even more fun.

I ended up staying home from work the day after we returned as I was so sick I had trouble getting out of bed and couldn't talk for all the coughing. Luckily Lisa didn't catch the cold / flu or whatever it was, and was able to get everyone else healthy again.

We've been trying to get back to our normal routine the last couple of weeks, though this weekend we took a trip out to Lisa's parents' house to make apple cider and see the whole family. I think we had 15 kids running around at the peak of the activities yesterday, and by 9:30 PM, everyone was in bed, exhausted. Kids were passed out on the floor of the living room as the rest of us adults talked about how George Bush had screwed up the country the last eight years. At least that's what I was talking about. I think the rest were talking about something else, being the Republicans that they are.

The cider is really good light and sweet when raw, and event better when cooked with cinnamon sticks and cloves. That's an awesome treat on a cold day.

Those have been the big events, but things seem to be busy every day. I've been writing in every spare moment, and my latest work is closing in on 100 pages, and though I'll have to do some heavy editing, I really like how it's going.

I haven't been reading quite as much these days as I've been writing on the train to and from work. I did read a book 'Playing for Pizza' by John Grisham in a single day while at my parent's place. Not a bad read, perfect for a plane ride or a lazy day in a recliner.

I also read 'Wizard and Glass' by Steven King, the fourth book in The Gunslinger Series. Its a long book, but a good story.

As for movies, we watched 'Smart People', (2.5 Stars, not bad, and not as depressing as it could have been) and The Last Legion (1 star, really bad movie) and 'A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints', (2 stars, a ratty narrative, all torn up and hard to like).

Lisa has been teaching again at one of the local universities, so that has been taking up a lot of her spare time. Building up a syllabus, grading papers, reviewing lecture notes all takes a lot more time than you'd think.

The kids have been pretty good, though the aforementioned colds have been a royal pain. Kids get really needy and regress in their independence when they are sick, only now they are a lot heavier than they used to be, and carrying them everywhere is back breaking. Lorelai has been getting very precocious, if that's the right word for not listening to anything we say, and fighting everything we do.

They're picking up a lot of words now, many just after hearing them a couple of times, like 'Yahoo' and 'apple'. They're pretty shy at first around strangers, but if you offer to read to them, you won't get them off your lap, unless they get up to go get another book. Lorelai's favorite word is 'read', which she says over and over again until you give in. It was cute, at first.

The next couple of weeks should be a little more low key. It's time to clean up the back yard and to clean up the flow pots and vegetables killed by the cold weather. It shouldn't take long, but it's just a matter of finding a couple of hours where the little munchkins are gone or sleeping.

Lisa and I are also happy to announce that we will have a new arrival soon, in our house. No, not more kids. Furniture. Real furniture. We finally broke down and bought a new couch and two chairs (with ottomans!) for the living room, and we've found an decorator who understands what we are looking for and actually has taste (we think). We've been in this house now for 3.5 years, and except for a little bit of bedroom furniture, we haven't bought anything for the down stairs. It'll take us a while to finish, as we're trying to do this on a budget, but get good stuff at the same time, but now we will be able to have more than 3 people in our living room at a time without having people sitting on the floor. We can't wait!

Okay, we have a lot of new pictures to post, and I hope to get that done this week. And again, I'll try to update this more frequently.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Free my markets?

I have a simple solution to solve the credit crisis, the national debt, speculative trading and the energy crisis. A very simple thing: a Speculation Tax.

A what?

A speculation tax. A sin tax on market speculation. Treat speculation like cigarettes, alchohol and whatever other sins the government taxes. Tell everyone they're bad for you, and that second hand debt will kill you just as fast as your own debt so your children pester you to stop using your credit cards... but have it kick in for everyone. Including the big boys, like this.

If you want to make a short sell on the market, or trade in futures commodities like oil, soyabeans, corns, wheat, natural gas, derivative debt, whatever, anything that doesn't involve a long term buy and hold in a company you'vre done research in and believe in thoroughly, then the government takes a non-negotiable, non deductible, no exemption for being 'Native American', over-65, under-18, minority, disabled, rich or poor, 1% tax on every transaction as it happens, and immediately applies that money to the national debt.

So if, as happened today, a bunch of nervous ninnies went and started selling shares in companies they owned for 45 minutes because the computers told them the fundamentals didn't look as good as they did a few minutes before, a penny of every dollar bought and sold on speculation would go to the government until the debt was paid off.

So if billions of dollars a day are changing hands on the oil markets, then a few hundred million of that would be diverted every day to pay down the debt.

Those who think they could still make money speculating, would still do it, and the debt would slowly dissolve into a sea of capital pulled out of artificially created markets and back into the hands of the government, paying down the debt.

Those who didn't want to lose 1% every time they made a transaction would look for good, long term products to invest in (solar, wind energy, clean coal, Mars exploration), make a determination of how much risk they were willing to stand, and invest more wisely. People spend more time evaluating products to whiten their teeth than what the companies in their mutual funds do. That's just stupid.

The influx of cash back into the US government would loosen the credit markets as the US needed to print less money, and the return on T Bills dropped. Private companies looking for financing to expand operations would have better access to cash since the government wouldn't be competing head to head against them.

As the debt shrinks, less tax is needed to pay for the interest on the debt, and lower taxes spur companies to remain in the US, where regulations may be tighter, but education levels are still relatively good.

The excess from reduced debt service would increase the flow of money into schools and infrastructure (bridges, roads, hospitals, mass transit, healthcare for everyone) to help boost productivity and long term goals.

And on the consumer credit side, the tax would apply to all credit card purchases. We all know credit is not the same as cash. Credit cards have been racking up 3-5% fees on all transactions for years. Now we just need the government to take their 1% off the top, and force the companies to fully disclose it. Pay cash, you pay this much. Pay with credit, you pay 1% more. Smart consumers would switch to cash almost immediately, and the credit card industry would be lowering their rates to compete with cash.

I'm not quite sure how to get this plan out there, but if anyone has Barak's ear, tell him about this, and let's see if the idea works.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Socialism in the US

In the US, politicans who bring up any concept of Socialized Medicine are vilified and crucified.

But the US Government just socialized mortgages by taking over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, I didn't hear one right wing Republican stand up and scream that it is not the government's role to bail out failing businesses. In fact, the only person I've heard pointing out the real truth hear in the national media is Jim Jubak.

And the 5 trillion which just hit the national US Debt, is not being included in the current government's budget projections. If they had planned for that expense, then they would have a much larger deficit, and that would be really bad for the Republican party. They would have to cut back somewhere, or *gasp*, raise taxes to pay for it. Either way, that would be bad for their election hopes.

I hear that Sarah Palin has a couple hundred million stashed away somewhere, maybe that could be used to pay down some debt. Oh wait, that's free money. A gift from the other 49 to #49, and they can use it for whatever they want.

Isn't that called a transfer payment then (not even an earmark)?

Sounds awfully Socialist to me.

Socialized medicine in the US is disliked by business because it affects profits. Socialized debt relief in the US is liked by big business because it affects profits.

I would rather have my government running the medical system than the banking system. Let the banks rise and fall on their own. Lift the people up when they need a hand, not the other way around.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Catching Up

Okay, so it's been almost a month, where have I been?

1. Enjoying the summer. Neighborhood barbeques, going to Eastern Washington, playing with the kids in the yard and going to the park. My Saturdays and Sundays are much busier than they were a couple of years ago. The kids are doing great, learning new words all the time. They love to talk on the phone and it's fun to call home from work and talk to them. We are now working on the jealousy and discipline stuff, and that's hard, but hopefully this phase will pass quickly. Timeouts are getting common again, but less for safety issues, and more for trouble caused.

2. Working. I've been pretty busy at work, with 3 different projects for 3 different clients going live in the last three weeks. It seems like it all came together in the last 8 days, and we've been driving pretty hard for that, and I've even been... gasp... working from home at night and on the weekends. That should wrap up after this weekend though and get back to normal.

3. Writing. I've been writing consistently (almost every day) since I bought my new laptop, and it's going very well. Hopefully I'll have something to show for all the effort by the end of the year, but if not, at least it's gotten my creative juices flowing again. It does make it harder to sleep when my mind is on all the time, but I'm getting use to it.

I've slowed down on my movie watching and reading a bit lately since my spare time has been more spoken for, for here's a summary of what I have read or watched since the last update.

Book: The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldemann. Ehhh. It was okay, but not thrilling

Book: The Dead Zone by Stephen King. Pretty Good. Made me want to go out and NetFlix the TV series based on the book. We watched the first three episodes. If I was ever stuck on bed rest for a few months, I get more episodes sometime in the second month, but I'm not going to spend my valuable time watching borderline TV right now.

Book: The Wastelands by Stephen King (Book 3 of the Dark Tower Series). I really like this series. King has done a wonderful job with the main characters, and I'm already into book 4 (Wizard and Glass).

Movie: Inside Man - how can good actors just thud so badly? Bad writing.

Movie: Zodiac - Mildly Scary, but good movie, especially if you weren't around in the early 70s to know much about the Zodiac Killer in California.

Movie: 21 - College Kids from MIT try to break Vegas. Could have been better.

Movie: Collateral - This was on Lisa's to-watch list for a couple of years and it finally arrived. Not a horrible flick. A Saturday night, just kick back and root for the good guy movie

Movie: The Bucket List - We saw this 2 days before Morgan Freeman's big car wreck. It was a good watch with some funny lines.

Movie: Death at a Funeral - Some funny moments, but not a brilliant movie like 'Hott Fuzz'

Anyway, that's been the last month or so. I'll try to write more often in the future. As the weather gets bad, it gets easier to find the time, but with the good weather, we're outside as much as we can be.

Some More Pics

Some new(er) pics

Yes, I've been slacking, but with good reason. Here are some recent pics of the kids

As you can see, Lorelai is a HAM!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wow. Just wow.

I am amazed this hasn't caught national attention yet? Where is the ACLU? Why aren't they protesting this? This isn't an immigration issue. It's a constitutional issue.

Just wow.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This and that

Today was the first day I drove to work since starting my job in January. That's pretty much 5 days a week of riding public transit for 7 months (give or take a day or two for holidays and work from home. It's 35 miles from door to door each way for me to work. That's 70 miles a day. 350 miles a week. 26 weeks. 9100 miles. My truck gets about 16 mpg (yes, I know, that sucks). That about 569 gallons of gas. At $4.00 per gallon = $2275 for gas. Now add $10 a day for parking (50 * 26 = 1300). That's a total of $3575 every six months, or 7150 a year. I pay 1683 for my commuter pass on the train for the year. No parking cost. I drive 3 miles a day back and forth to the train station. That $195 worth of gas (48 gallons for the year). That's a total of $1878.

So by taking the train, I've saved myself $5272. I've also been able to cut my insurance bill by $15 a month for driving so few miles, and instead on needing to replace my truck in 2 years, I should be able to make it last another 5. Plus now I'm doing oil changes because three months have passed, not 3000 miles.

Someone told me I could buy a pass on Craig's List for really cheap. Basically I could buy one that is being sold by someone who gets it subsidized by their company. It's technically illegal, but the cards aren't tracked, so no one would ever know, except me. But I'm already saving money, and I'm using public transit, so why shouldn't I pay for it? People looked at me like I was an idiot when I said that, but I really wonder what they think is going to happen if people who use things don't pay for it?

Anyway, I drove today because I had to go to the Department of Homeland Security for my Biannual Biometrics Scan (people who are in process for getting permanent residence get to do all kinds of fun things). I got there just as people started to queue up for a Citizenship ceremony. There were people there from all over the world, with their families in tow, just so happy and nervous to be there. I was lucky that I got there when I did, because by the time I got through security the line was out the door and down the sidewalk.

As I watched them go through the last of the paperwork process, led by a middle aged gentleman who obviously loved what he was doing, I wondered if I would ever decide to take the plunge and apply for US Citizenship. As a Canadian, I can have dual citizenship, and having American citizenship would allow me to take certain jobs, to come and go more freely, and to vote. But I really haven't decided yet. I don't know that I can be two things right now. I am still Canadian, no matter how long I've lived outside the country, I still consider myself Canadian. Perhaps at one time, I wanted to be American more than anything else. And I am happy to be living here, with an amazing wife and incredible children, a nice house and 'the American dream'. But I can't say I want to 'become' American. I can't put my finger on it yet. perhaps someday, my daughter will come up to me and ask me why I don't vote here, and I'll realize that it's time to take the leap. But for now, I'm happy remaining Canadian. Maybe it's because I still have the thought in the back of my head that someone will come up to me and make me an offer to run for Prime Minister of Canada. Since I can't be President in the US, and I haven't gotten them to buy off on me as Supreme Emperor yet, I don't want to bury the possibility of leading Canada at some point.

Oh, and the other thing being on the train has allowed me to do is to read a ridiculous number of books this year. The latest reads include:

The Wandering Fire / The Darkest Road by Guy Gavriel Kay. I don't usually give my sister much credit for good taste in books, but wow. Just wow. If you liked Lord of the Rings, you will love these books (Start with the first one of the trilogy, The Summer Tree). I've never had so many goose pimply moments in a book series. It's almost as good as the Hyperion Trilogy by Dan Simmons, and a heck of a lot easier to read. And as a former World of Warcraft player, let me tell you that there are parts of the game of WoW which are definitely stolen (homage paid to?) from these books.

I also finished the second book of the Steven King Gunslinger Series (The Drawing of the Three), which is pretty good. If you start this series, makes sure you have lots of time on your hands. It's seven books long, and characters from many of his other novels make appearances in these books. When I'm done, I have to go back and reread The Stand and read The Shining (yikes)

And yes, I am using my new laptop to write (not at the moment), but on the train each morning. The creative juices are flowing again, and I'm hoping that writing in a scheduled way really helps me to eliminate my procrastination. I'm already finding I'm cutting back even more on TV in order to read and write. If I could only shake my addiction to 'The Daily Show with John Stewart', I could go entire nights without turning on the tube. It's amazing how at one time I couldn't live without ESPN, now I can't remember the last time I watched Sportscenter.

Those of you who have known me for a while know that I've played Fantasy Football a lot in the last few years. Well it doesn't look like it is going to happen this year. Last year's commissioner embezzled the league fees and got fired from his job for illegally selling airline passes on EBay, and the league just kind of fell apart. So this year, I am just going to try to watch the games for the sake of the games, not the money. Who knows, I may be able to cancel my NFL Sunday ticket soon too. Depends on how much the Lions suck this year.

Well, I was going to read tonight, but it looks like it's bed time, so till I have another update. C ya.

And, oh, Eclecta... Fire the prick.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I'm mobile

Look at me! I'm blogging... from the train! I'm mobile now! Lookout world. Holy exclamation points, Batman.

Okay, I got my new laptop half an hour ago and ran to catch the early train home so we can drive out to Eastern Washington tonight. Now I'm sitting here, hands on the keyboard of my new Toshiba Satellite U405-2854, wondering, so what else can this thing do?

Election Timing

A coworker and I were talking about now that the Olympics and the NFL Season are starting up, most of the American public will divert their attention from Barak O'McCainia to more of what they really care about. I said there is a reason why elections are held in November. People care about football and Christmas presents in Novemeber.

But hold the election on April 15th each year (tax day), and see how much people care about who's running up the biggest deficit in American history. I'm betting there would be major changes a'coming then.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Backyard Fun

Promised Pictures

Weekend Wrapup

Friday night we had our nanny come over for the evening. Lisa picked me up from work in downtown Seattle, and we had dinner at a wonderful little restaurant called The Palace Kitchen. Quite possibly the best ckicken I've ever had, and I've had a lot of chicken in my life. Then we saw "The Dark Knight" (Aka Batman, again). A pretty good movie. Heath Ledger was great. I would have given the movie 5 stars, but I've found I don't like Maggie Gyllenhal. She just annoys me.

Saturday, a morning Starbucks run, then assembled a new toy for the kids (photos in a bit). They absolutely loved it. Next, a sandbox is on order from Amazon. Lot of outdoor time. I also bought a big shade for the patio / sandox so the kids can be out there without SPF 1000 every day.

Today was more backyard fun. There's a lot of teething going on in the house right now, and Lorelai hasn't been her cheery self quite as often as she used to be. Molars are painful, I guess.

The rest of my time I've spent looking for a new laptop computer. I'm currently leaning toward a Toshiba U405-S2833, with the thought that I could carry it to work each day without breaking my back, but I'm not sure I can justify the expense. What if I never use it? Anyway, I'll stop writing now so I can try to post some pictures.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Greate Quote

I don't know who gets the credit for this one, but this is just great.

"Science shouldn't lie just to make you more comfortable. That's religion's job."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekend Flashback

Okay, brief summary of the weekend

Friday: Worked from home, took the kids to their 18 month checkup at the doctor, took them to city hall to apply for their passports, worked from home some more

Friday Night: Haircut for kids, watched 'The Spiderwick Chronicles'. Not bad. Probably a good kids movie. Sometimes they translate well to adults. This one requires that you have maintained a bit of the child within.

Saturday: Starbucks, work a bit on a work project, off to a company picnic so my wife can meet all my coworkers. Kids do an excellent job of being their normal cute, but high-energy-selves. Return home, talk to my sister on the phone for an hour. Solved all her problems, I think. That's what brothers do.

Saturday night: Watched 'Death at a Funeral'. Dark British Comedy. I'll give it 3.5 / 5 stars. Not bad. Laugh out loud moments, good acting, but not for everyone

Sunday: Starbucks, finally went out and bought a new office chair for at home. My old one was killing my back. This one is so much better, but I think I still need to tune it in some more. A lot of play time with the kids in the afternoon. Weeded the garden, cut the grass, talked to my folks on the phone. Tried to find a sandbox for the kids (everything around here is sold out for the year apparently).

Sunday night: Watched the video of the Last Lecture posted on my sisters blog 'Eclecta'. Interesting and pretty amazing for a guy with so little time left to still be so happy. Inspiring really.

Finished one book this week for fun, and I wish it was. I got lured in by a display for a novel called 'Endwar' that made it seem that Tom Clancy had a new book out. What it really was (if you read the fine print), was this David Michaels guy writing an absolute stinker of a novel about a VIDEO GAME Tom Clancy's company is producing. So horrible. Good thing it was a quick read, because the plot was paper thin, the characters lacked character, and the dialog atrocious. The only good thing about it was that it raised my belief that anyone (including em) can get published.

Anyway, the kids are doing great. A couple of scrapes and bruises from falls on concrete, but nothing they won't recover from. I've been trying to get some better pictures, but nothing has turned out very well lately, so we'll see what we can do this week.

By the way, does anyone have a recommendation for a service for web cam sharing for the grandparents to see the kids (and vice versa). Let me know.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Train of Thought

What I wanted to say to the woman next to me on the train last night, who was on her cell phone the whole time

"Lady, this isn't your office. Now hang up your cell phone, and STFU!"

What I actually said.


But I gave her a couple of really dirty looks.

Maybe I need to get some TShirts made up with this slogan on it. I should copyright it. I'm sure it will catch on.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

If I ran America, Part 1

So, a few years back, I started a blog that lasted two entries (which I believe have been deleted), about what a better place the world would be if everyone just listened to me. I still have thoughts on the subject, but not enough to justify a devoted blog. Besides, I've lured in a bit of a crowd here with cute baby pictures, and why would I give up this opportunity? So, every once in a while (interspersed with pictures of cute toddlers so you keep on coming back, I'm going to drop in a few messages to the world.

1. To solve the US Medicare funding problem: Since insurance companies won't insure anyone with a smoking / drug use / obesity background, why should the government? I say set a deadline that is reasonable (i.e next Friday), and let people know that if you are still smoking, doing drugs or eating that triple Big Mac with extra large fries and the 36oz Big Gulp from 7-11 beyond that date, you are no longer eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Test for nicotine before every check gets sent out, test for drugs, test for body mass index. Make all the anti smoking treatmenrs, anti drug programs and weight loss programs cheap / free. Legalize the drugs (tax them) so we don't have to spend billons on hunting down traffickers and pushers, add a fat tax on fast food, and presto, the deficit is cut in half. If people want to live fast and die young in their younger days, make them realize they won't be around in their older days to change their minds.

2. The problem with Public Transportation is the 'public' part of it. Why is it that some people just can't wait 30 minutes to get home and talk to their spouses instead of sitting next to me on the train, gibber-jabbing away about their day? And do you really want to talk to a potential customer about how you can undercut all your competitors while sitting on the train with God knows who listening? Really? And if your IPod is loud enough for me to hear it three rows away, don't look pissy at the people who give you dirty looks when they need to change seats because they want to protect their hearing. Oh, for a good stun gun on my morning commute.

3. I'm starting to drift towards the camp that thinks the Baby-Boomer generation should really be called the 'Free Loader Generation'. All these entitlement programs, funded on the backs of their kids and their grandkids? Selfish much? Granted, selfishness is the American way. Whether it be Social Security, the housing bubble, roads and transportation... no one is willing to pay their own way anymore. No one is accountable for their own mistakes. If I took out a loan I couldn't pay back, that's my own damn fault. Stop blaming everyone else. Stop expecting the government to bail you out. Stop bitching that the fat cats are making billions while the middle class gets screwed. You had your chance to vote these bastards out of office many times, and you just keep electing the same group of crooks becuase they offered you a quick buck (how many people sent back their Econmic stimulus check because they thought it was wrong? I'm betting the number rhymes with HERO. How else do guys like Ted Stevens in Alaska, and George Bush (x3) get elected over and over again? It's not the system's fault, it's the public's fault. People are just too stupid and lazy. Democracy is hard, and it takes up a lot of evenings (Oscar Wilde gets the credit for that one).

Okay, I'm done ranting for now. We now return you to your regular internet surfing programming.

Random Notes

Great Movie: The Lookout with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Jeff Daniels. After a lot of ho-hum movies this year, this is one of my new favorites. In fact, I watched it last night while Lisa was dancing, and then watched it again this afternoon with her. Really, really good. And is iot just me, or is there just a stunning resemblance between Levitt and Heath Ledger?

Bad Book: Fifty Degrees Below Zero by Kim Stanley Robinson. Second book in a trilogy that got good in the last 10 pages. My OCD will probably force me to read book three... but I so don't really want to.

Good Book: On Writing By Stephen King. Got me back in the mood to write again. Now if only I could get rid of my procrastination issues. I want to write, but stuff keeps taking priority. I just need to set realistic goals. Today, I'm updating my blog, and reading one of my old, unfinished stories.

Okay Book: Lean Mean Fourteen by Janet Evanovich. Quick read, pretty much formula JE.

Bad Movie: No Country for Old Men. SPOILER ALERT: If you kill off the main character 75% of the way through the movie, you had better either bring him back to life, or make the ending so incredible, that you forget it happened. Niether happens in this one. Boo, hisss...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dr Horrible

If you haven't seen this.... you must watch it, before July 20. Amazing!

Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog

Monday, June 30, 2008

Feeding your picture monster

Here are some recent pictures

News and Notes

Okay, it's been a while I guess, but it's been for good reason. I've spent all of my spare time the last 5 weeks or so, working on putting together DVDs of the kids first 17 months for posterity, and let me tell you, that's a lot more work that you think it is when you get started. We weren't very organized in the first few months, and the pictures and videos just kinda stacked up, so I had to locate them all, organize them, add them to the video software I bought, which then crashed every time I tried to burn to DVD, until I got a patch from the manufacturer to fix it. Then it was a matter of finding the right music to go with the videos, made harder by the fact that you can't add music you bought from ITunes to a video, because of the Digital Music Encoded copyright embedded in the download. One of the many reasons why I am now using for music downloads.

Anyway, I'm just about finished with that project. I just have to find the music for the final hour of video, burn a few more discs, and we're all good, as long as we don't fall so far behind next time. If there are any budding video editors who want some experience editing together clips of really cute kids interspersed with liberal shots of the carpet, the ceiling and people's feet, have I got an opportunity for you!

Other than that, I completed my first major ebusiness web site rollout for a client last week, which meant putting in a few more hours than normal, but not nearly as many extra hours as I use to work when I had to worry about planes falling out of the sky, so it wasn't a big deal.

The kids are just wonderful these days. This morning, when Lisa was feeding them, Reece blurted out 'baby' for the first time when he saw a picture of a baby on a box of Baby MumMums. They're learning to drink from cups with straws, which they love to do because there is even more water to spill down their fronts. With as hot as it has been here (mid 90's yesterday), we didn't think they were getting enough water, so we had to try something new. They've got enough now.

Lorelai is being absolutely adorable all the time. If she burps, she covers her mouth. If Reece burps, she covers his mouth. She loves to talk (baby talk mostly) and sing, and we're pretty sure we're picking up patterns in the words that sometimes sound like real words. She definitely has a word for Reece, but I don't think humans are supposed to make that sound.

We had my folks over for a week two weeks ago, and Lisa's mom spent the weekend here, and the kids just love having grandparents around. They get a little bit spoiled for attention, but it's not as bad as it used to be.

I've still been doing a fair amount of reading, since I'm still riding the train ever day. Here are my latest book and movie reviews

Shake Hands with the Devil - Story of Genocide in Rwanda, as told by the Commander of the UN Forces in Rwanda. This book was shocking in it's detail and it's coverage. I highly recommend this book, but not for the faint of heart. I had dreams about, and needed some downtime after reading it. I almost broke into tears on the train to work one morning.

From a Buick 8 - Steven King - A quick read about Pennsylvania State Patrol Unit, and an old car kept in the garage behind their barracks. Good story, likable characters, good read.

The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay - My sister loved this book, and I liked it a lot too. It takes about a hundred pages to really get into it, then it becomes very good. I've got the next two books on order from Amazon.

The Gunslinger - Steven King - The first book of the Gunslinger 7. Interesting read, not the best book I ever read by King (i.e. The Stand), but right along the lines of what you might expect. I hear it gets better in the next 6 books.

Janet Evanovich - Motor Mouth - fast, fun read. There aren't too many chick books I will read in public, but JE writes good books for just throwing the world away for a little while and relaxing.

Jasper Fforde - The Thursday Next Series - I'm into book four of this series now, and though it's a more difficult read, all I can say is that this guy is a genius. I've never read such original, funny, thought provoking material before. Start with The Eyre Affair, and keep reading. It's science fiction, and it's a little work, but damn good stuff.

As for movies, it's been some slim pickings, but here's the good and the ugly

IronMan = Good fun, would watch again. Wish this movie had come out when I was a kid. Makes me wonder what I missed by not reading comic books

Into The Wild = Thought provoking, depressing and overly long.

The Darjeeling Limited = didn't really get it, but at least it held my attention

Juno = Awesome movie. This biggest issue I had was that the damn song stays in your head for days

Shawn of the Dead = Good movie. Simon Peg is a genius

I am Legend = horrible. Turned it off half way through

There Will be Blood = Really didn't like it. I admire the artistry, but ehhh, wasn't my cup of tea.

Charlie Wilson's War = so-so

Anyway, that's what I have been up to. I'll try to post some pictures soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A few Pics

Yeah, like that last one isn't going to be used against her later in life...