January 31, 2009

Time-Lapse of a 9-month-old at Play

Elizabeth and Patrick, this is just around the corner.

Maybe the Horse Was the Designated Driver

AP - CODY, Wyo. – A man has been cited for public intoxication while riding a white horse during a snowstorm in the northern Wyoming town of Cody.

Police say they cited 28-year-old Benjamin Daniels after they received a call Sunday afternoon from a motorist concerned that a man was creating a road hazard by riding his horse on a street in conditions with poor visibility.

Cody Assistant Police Chief George Menig says officers noticed Daniels was intoxicated after they stopped him to explain that drivers were having difficulty spotting his slow-moving white horse.

Menig said Thursday that Daniels was detained Sunday and released the following day. He will go before a municipal judge later.

A friend of Daniels picked up the horse.
I also love that Daniels was riding a white horse in a snow storm. Reminded me of the jokes we would tell as kids - holding up a piece of white paper and saying it was a picture of a polar bear in a snow storm. Dude probably looked like he was floating through the air.

January 30, 2009

London At Night

These photos of London at night from the air are wonderful. Between the soft glow of the city lights and the irregular street layouts, the photographs have an ethereal feel to them.

Click through to see the large versions of the photos. They are amazing.

London from the air at nightThe photographs were taken by Jason Hawkes.

Kevin, I Have a Project For You

Your nephew Declan needs a pair of Mii Mittens.

A cute baby who is NOT Declan chewing on his Mii Mittens
Get to work.

January 29, 2009

Is There Anything an iPhone Can't Do?

As if I needed another reason to want an iPhone, now I can use it to solve my Rubick's cube.


CubeCheater. Genius.

Bye, Bye, Blago

Goodby, Governor JackassI had thought about writing something sarcastic and witty about Governor Blagojevich being removed from office by a vote of 59 - 0 today.

However, I was so disgusted by his behavior during the trial over the last few days, I don't even want to waste the energy to make a joke.

I really didn't think Blago could embarrass the State of Illinois anymore after he was arrested and then impeached, but then he conducted his East Coast media tour instead of appearing to defend himself during the trial.

I'm just glad to see him out of office.

January 27, 2009

In Case You Missed It

It's a lot of fun living in Illinois right now.

Our Governor's Words
The trial continues.

70's Coolness

I'm trying to figure which picture is more fun to study in attempt to identify all the characters.

The 70's Action TV stars
Action TV stars from the 1970s
Or the 70's Sci-Fi/Superhero TV Stars
Sci-Fi and Superhero TV Stars from the 1970'sI'm actually almost a little too young for these shows, but I do remember a lot of them. (To be fair, The Greatest American Hero didn't debut on TV until 1981, so it shouldn't be included)

The one that is driving me nuts is the dude with the jet-pack in the first picture. I remember see that show as a kid, but can't remember any details.

Both pieces of art were created by artist Dusty Abell

"Her Morning Elegance"


That took a lot of patience to film.

January 26, 2009

I Love Me My NCAA Football ’09 for the Wii

Every Christmas Santa leaves a family gift at our house. Usually these gifts are board game or something of the like, that we can all enjoy together.

This past Christmas, Santa, in his infinite wisdom, left us two Wii games - Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey and NCAA Football ’09 – understanding how difficult it would be to pick one game that the entire family would get excited about.

NCAA Football 09 for Wii(It also helped that Santa found one of these games as a heavily discounted used version.)

I’ve helped Zoe a bit with navigating the worlds of Disney Princess and had fun, but in my opinion Santa is my favorite pal for life because he left us NCAA Football.

Besides having a blast playing games as team mascots (which really can be a lot of fun if you pick the right mascots), I’m currently building my college football dynasty as the coach of Notre Dame. In one season I’ve taken the Fighting Irish from an unranked team to #5 in the BCS standings and have the nation’s #1 overall defense. My opponent’s average rushing yards against us is a negative number. On offense, my running game can’t be stopped and our passing attack is gain confidence. We are a beast, and my recruiting class looks strong.

After closing out the regular season with an upset of #2 USC, I won Coach of the Year honors and will playing #9 Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl.

I’ve read the comments and reviews that have been written about NCAA Football ’09 for the Wii, and they’re not too nice. Most of the reviewers don’t like the graphics, they don’t like the controls, they spit on the All-Play feature which allows anyone to play the game regardless of gaming skill level. Basically, the bulk of the reviewers don’t seem to like the fact that EA Sports tried to re-imagine NCAA Football for the Wii and the Wii’s main demographic – casual video game players and families. The Wii version of NCAA Football is clearly not for serious gamers.

Good thing I’m not a serious gamer.

The graphics might be more cartoony than on the Xbox and the controls might be simplified from what you get on the Playstation, but I don’t care. I’m having fun building and running my team and Ian and I can play each other regardless of game skill level.

January 25, 2009

Top Ten Dubya Moments

As put together by David Letterman and staff


Good stuff.

January 22, 2009

Mein Bruder

kevin tells us about riskI always wondered what my brother would sound like if he spoke fluent German.

Or Italian

Or Russian

Or . . . hell, go see him speak in bunch of different languages.

Then watch the original English version. The video size and resolution is much better.

January 21, 2009

Flying Cars and All That

Don't know where this image originally comes from, but I think it's a great.

in the future we will all have flying cars
I especially love the Imperial Transport from Star Wars that's delivering pizzas down in the lower right corner.

[found]

Send In The Nuns

Heather usually helps the kids with their homework after school, but last week I was home sick for a couple of days and was called into duty.

Emma – who is in first grade – was learning about the concept of a “parish” within the context of the Catholic Church as part of her class’ religious education. She had a worksheet where she was instructed to use the letters in the word parish to describe many of the things a parish does for the community - Church and otherwise.

By the time Emma came to me for help, she had answers written down for “P”, “A”, and “R”.

She was stuck on what she could write about a parish that began with the letter “I”.
I thought for a moment.

“Oh,” I said, “you could write down ‘Inquisition.’ That starts with ‘I’. Do you know what an inquisition is?”

Heather overheard my suggestion, made a counter-suggestion (something about inviting others to join or something like that), and my time helping with homework came to a quick end.

January 20, 2009

Leaving the Kids Alone

While reading through the glutton of inaugural news coverage, I stumbled upon this short passage in an article about a kids inaugural ball that was thrown on behalf of Malia (10) and Sasha (7) Obama and Vice-President Biden’s grandchildren. The concert was headlined by Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers.
Malia stopped dancing after it appeared she noticed onlookers snapping pictures of her with their cell phones, but she quickly rejoined the fun after some coaxing from 10-year-old Finnegan Biden.
I know a lot of people are excited about having a young family – especially one with young children – in the White House for the next four years. Nothing personifies hope and optimize for the future quite like children. However, I can’t help but feel for Sasha and particularly Malia because they will be hitting those awkward tween years while their dad is in office. It’s difficult enough as it is growing up in a regular middle-class family. I can’t imagine how Malia and Sasha will be able to enjoy the simple types of fun other kids their age enjoy while being the President’s kids.

Maybe being the protective father to three children close in age to the Maila and Sasha influences my feeling on the matter, but things like seeing Malia snapping photos with her digital camera at Sunday’s inaugural concert on HBO or reading that passage about Malia becoming self-conscious while enjoying herself at another concert highlights those concerns for me. Hopefully President Obama and Michelle will be able to carve out some level of normalcy for their children and the gawking press and public give the girls the distance they need to just be the kids that they are.

January 19, 2009

Nick Brandt Wildlife Photography

I think Nick Brandt's photography can be summed up in one word: "breathtaking"
Nick Brandt - Elephant DrinkingAnd that's just based on the versions I see on his website. I can only image what it would be like to view his work close up.

January 18, 2009

Killing Time on a Sunday Afternoon

In case you're looking for ideas, the Boston Globe has got your covered.

Hallucinating with ping-pong balls and a radio
Now I just need to find me a ping-pong ball.

January 16, 2009

Bumper

Given our history and my routine of waking up so much earlier than everyone else in the house five days a week, I always suspected that if it happened at home I would be the one to learn the news first.

And that’s exactly what happened this morning. There on the couch, laying in almost a natural fashion, was our cat, Bumper, dead. She had died during the night while sleeping in her favorite spot our family room couch.

Bumper - our catIt’s not that it was a surprise to me – Bumper had been sick for over a year. We came close to having her euthanized last spring in the fall of 2007, but she responded surprising well to a change in diet and some antibiotics. But a rapid slide in health this winter brought more dire news at the most recent vet visit earlier this week. Bumper had spleen cancer.

Her time with us wasn’t long after the diagnosis – a day or two. And by quietly dying in her sleep at night she provided Heather the release of having to decide/discern when Bumper’s suffering had reached a point that euthanasia would be appropriate and needed. The last thing Heather or I wanted was for our cat of 14 years to be suffering needlessly. Small blessing, I guess.

Bumper has been our children’s first and only pet to this point, so we will see what sort of impact her death has on them. They all knew that she was very sick – even before the cancer diagnosis – but I’m not sure how ready they were for her to actually die. And I’m not sure how they will respond to losing their first pet. I expect Emma to take Bumper’s death the hardest. She may have talked as freely about getting a dog after Bumper died as one would talk about getting pink shoes after your black ones wear out, but she loved Bumper nearly as much as Heather. I guess I will wait and see.

Heather speaks loving of Bumper in a post she published this morning. Go read it.

As for me? Well, Bumper and I had a sort of falling out these last few years. Too much time living together I think. But she was still one of the nicest, friendliest cats I’ve ever known. What I will miss is not having anyone to talk to when I’m all alone in the house. She was always a good listener.

And I will always have this memory.

January 15, 2009

So Extremely Awesome

The original three Star Wars movies retold by someone who has never actually seen the films.


Love it.

Creative From Cover to Content

I love this new ambigram image for the DVD case of The Princess Bride.

cover artwork for The Princess Bride on DVD

It's film I'd like to have in our DVD library regardless of the fun and creative cover artwork

Ah, Winter

6+ inches of snow on the ground. Snot-freezing temperatures.

DAMN - that's cold
Yes sir, this is a good winter.

(Side note: I think my pants froze during my walk from the train station to my office. They were cracking when I took each step.)

These extreme weather conditions are one of the reasons why I love living in Chicago. I don't want the same-old, same-old every day. I like to see that thermometer swing.

January 14, 2009

Metra blows

This morning I missed the circus on the BNSF Metra line when they halted all trains because a Secret Service agent boarded a train but the ticket agent thought he was acting too suspiciously and asking strange questions.

But this evening's derailment of an AMTRAK train just outside of Union Station means BNSF Metra trains are delayed up to 70 minutes and I'm stuck downtown for the time being.

Metra provides the cluster fuck to commuters at the end of the day

So I'm going to head over to my sister's house and sit this out.

Metra blows.

January 10, 2009

Mystery Revealed

Kevin - I finally figured out why we have those pictures of your sitting in a bucket as a kid.

Pearls Before Swine - 01.10.09You were just preparing for the end of the world.

January 09, 2009

We've Impeached Him

The Illinois House of Representative voted 114 - 1 to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich this morning - the first time in our state's 190-year history that a governor has been impeached.

Now the venue moves to the Illinois Senate, where Rod will plead his case on why he thinks he's fit to governor.

Fun, fun stuff.

I loved the photo the Chicago Tribune ran on their website homepage when the announced the House's vote.

what an idiot
What a tool.

I can't see how this story ends with Governor Rod remaining in office. Then again, Henry Burris might actually get sworn in as the next Illinois U.S. Senator. So who really knows anymore.

Side note (and rant):

One House member, Rep. Milton Patterson (D) from the Southwest side of Chicago, voted against the measure to impeach Governor Rod. In interviews after the historic vote Patterson stated that he didn't feel it was his job to vote to impeach the governor.

I'm wondering whose job Patterson thinks impeachment is. Our government is set up with a series of checks and balances to make sure that the government always has the best interest of the people in mind and can take necessary steps when one branch is behaving in a way counter to that promise.

Who else is going to impeach the governor other than the Legislative branch? Magical elves? Rodeo clowns? The ghost of Abraham Lincoln? When there is a serious question of the Governor's ability to governor the State, the House votes on impeachment. Then a trial is held in the Senate with the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court as the presiding judge. The two sides (Governor and House of Reps) make their cases, and the Senate votes on whether to remove the Governor from office. Checks and balances.

If you don't think Governor Rod should be impeached based on the facts you have been presented then just say that. Don't wimp out by voting "no" and then say you don't think it's your job to decide on something that is exactly your job to decide on. In this situation it is your job to make a decision on whether or not you think the Governor should be removed from office. You aren't actually removing him. Just passing a vote on whether you think the facts present warrant taking the next step in our government's series of checks and balances.

If you aren't clear on what your job requirements and duties are or how our State government works, then maybe the people who voted for you last time should reconsider the vote when you come up for re-election.

January 08, 2009

That's A Burger

To honor - so to speak - our soon (hoepfully) to be impeached governor, Kuma's Corner House in Chicago has created the "#@(*&%^ Blagojevich" burger as their January special.

Only Governor Rod could inspire a burger made up of a 10 oz. hamburger patty, thick sliced bologna and yellow mustard between two grilled cheese sandwiches (made with American cheese and wonder bread). On one of the sandwiches that are used to encase the burger, they swizzle a large dollar sign written in mustard.

Kuma's lists the price of the burger at $10, but admits that the final price is negotiable.

Outstanding.

The #@(*&%^ BlagojevichI'd love to give one of those a try.

January 07, 2009

Don't Touch The Baby's Head!

When my baby sister was born, I was 6 and my brother had just turned 5. We were both hoping for another boy, but settled for what we got.

I don't remember a whole lot about my sister as a newborn - I was apparently oblivious to the late night feedings and general disruption a newborn can bring to a house. Good for me.

The one memory seared into my brain was my mother's constant warning to my brother and I - "DON'T TOUCH THE TOP OF THE BABY'S HEAD."

To hear my mom tell it, the skull on a newborn is soft and flexible so that he/she can squeeze through the birth canal. Consequently, until the pieces of the skull firm up, the baby could be seriously injured if too much pressure is applied to the top of the skull. Hence her edict that her sons would under no circumstances touch their sister's head.

Now, I don't know if what my mother said is all medically correct or not, but my mom had me scared out of my Boba Fett underoos that if I so much as laid a pinkie on my sister's head I would end up making mush of her brain.

That fear carried on into adulthood. When Heather and I brought Ian home I was very nervously about touching the top of his head. Heather made fun of me. So did my sister.

But now I get to laugh.

Just about two weeks ago my sister welcomed her first child into the world. She emailed me the following photo today with the following comment.

DON'T TOUCH THE BABY'S HEAD
"can you guess what I am thinking in this picture? i can hear her voice in my head constantly...don't touch the baby's head!"
Who's laughing now.

January 06, 2009

Not What I Was Expecting From Dinner Out On A Saturday

My mom invited me, Heather, and our kids out to the California Pizza Kitchen this past Saturday night. She had received a sizable gift card to the restaurant and wanted help maxing it out. My mom also invited my Aunt Mary knowing that she had some over-due Christmas gifts for my kids and to make sure we didn’t leave a single dollar unspent on her gift card. To top things off, my mom surprised me when she arrived at the restaurant and let me know my dad would be dining with us also that evening.

My parents separated when I was in second grade and divorced when I was in the third grade – almost thirty years ago. Together they have dragged my brother, my sister and me through three marriages and 10 different residences all while living (amazingly) not much more than fifteen miles apart. For a while they lived so close in proximity that my brother and I could ride our bikes from one house to another.

DAMN - I was cute!Even though they’re failed marriage split our family up, they have remained good parents to me, my brother, and my sister and – as best as I can tell – friends to each other. There were never repeated court dates to argue over custody. No screaming matches. They never tried playing my siblings and me against each other. They seemed to grasp immediately that just because the marriage didn’t work didn’t man they couldn’t work as parents. They understood their responsibilities as parents and worked to fulfill those responsibilities. There might have been thirty years of separation as husband and wife but throughout that time they have remained united as father and mother.

Sitting in the California Pizza Kitchen, wedged between my mother and father, I suddenly realized that growing up I perceived my parents as a single parenting unit – even though they were not married. I don’t know if other kids in the same situation – children of divorced parents – could say the same. I certainly don’t think any of the step-brothers and step-sisters I had growing up could say that. Not from what I observed of their relationships with their parents (at least the parent that was currently married to my parent – if that makes sense).

Only after nearly 10 years working as one half of the parenting team for Ian, Emma, and Zoe and the constant coordination with Heather on how to provided a united parenting front to this wild pack of lovable rugrats that I have come to appreciate what my father and mother accomplished. Even though they had given up on their marriage, they continued to work at providing a consistent and united parenting front.

Growing up I never felt like I was getting different messages from my mom and my dad. They might not have been living together, but they sure seemed to act like they did when it came to parenting. The values they promoted, their style of punishment, and their expectations regarding our behavior were exactly the same – regardless of which house my siblings and I were living in.

It takes a lot of work to get on the same parenting page when your married and living together. Achieving that same equilibrium in parenting style while living separate lives must have taken an extra amount of work and presented a set of challenges I can probably never understand.

This newly found appreciation for my mom’s and dad’s parenting accomplishments doesn’t excuse or forgive what happened thirty years ago. Just because I can acknowledge their work as parents doesn’t mean that I don’t believe the job couldn’t have been done another way and just as well. I don’t understand why the marriage was dissolved in the first place, especially considering how well they have worked together as a mother and father for the last thirty years; but some mysteries I don’t have the strength or patience to try and unravel. So I will leave that alone.

January 05, 2009

For Once The Answer Should Not Be: "Quarterback"

jerry angeloI'm really starting to question the sanity in the Bears organization when the General Manager states that the quarterback position will be the top priority for the off-season.

Quarterback? Really?

Was Jerry Angelo freshening up his orange whip whenever the defense was on the field this past season? Did he not see how badly that unit under-performed and appeared to be badly coached?

Rick Morrissey sums up my frustration nicely:
Angelo said at a postseason media gathering that the Bears had to get the quarterback position right. Allow me to ask a question: With all the things that went wrong this season, especially on defense, does anyone look back and say Kyle Orton was the problem?
My top 3 priorities would be:

1) New defensive coordinator
2) Defensive secondary
3) Wide receiver

I don't know what team Angelo was watching this season, but I don't think it was the Chicago Bears.

January 04, 2009

The Shadow by Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips doesn't mention why he did this painting of the Shadow.

I suspect it must have something to do with Jess Nevins' Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes that might be published this year or to accompany the essay Nevins contributed to the debut issue of Incognito - which I have not read yet.

The Shadow by Sean Phillips
Regardless of why Phillips painted it, I'd love to have it hanging on a wall in my house.

January 02, 2009

Loved the Winter Classic

Because I didn’t win the lottery for a chance at buying tickets to the NHL’s Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, I watched the game on TV yesterday.

hockey at Wrigley Field - how cool is thatEven though the Blackhawks were soundly beaten by the Redwings, I still found it exciting to watch the game. Seeing how they transformed Wrigley Field into a hockey venue was a trip, and I loved all the pomp and circumstance that the NHL and NBC put on leading into the game. Sure, the coverage and fuss was over the top, but the fact that the game and all the festivities were taking place in Chicago and featuring Chicago sports and Chicago sports history made it a lot of fun for me.

The first period was fantastic, the next two not so much – at least from the Blackhawks point of view. But the fact that I stuck through the whole game proved to me that I am becoming a fan. I’m really starting to enjoy watching hockey, and the team Rocky Wirtz is putting on the ice is fun to follow.

Hey, and those throwback jerseys they were wearing in the game were pretty cool too.

January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Hope you survived 2008 in one piece and are ready to take on 2009.