Friday, October 29, 2010

Dog Running

We're working with Hazel a lot more consistently, in an attempt to help her adjust to being a well-mannered dog. A part of that is exercise, for her and me. We've taken to walking in McDonald Forest and hiking up the steepest trails we can find. One of them leads directly up to Dimple Hill.

I took this video of her running the other day - she loves tall grass.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Today, Simone, Mary and I went to bowl at OSU's bowling alley. We got there before 2pm, which meant $1 off each game, and (bonus) on Sundays shoes are free!

We used the bumpers to keep from doing gutter balls, and there was even a slide that Simone could use to aim and propel the ball.

Well, Simone whooped our hides real good the first game. She got well over 100 the first game, beating Mary and myself by a good 20+ points each. On the second game, she got 100 even, but I got 4 strikes and a spare for a high score of 143, thereby reaffirming my position in the family hierarchy.

We won't discuss Mary's scores.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Halloween

We finally carved jack-o-lanterns!

We've bought pumpkins in years past, but never gotten around to carving them.

Today, we hung out on the back patio, with a fire in our fireplace, and carved away. Here's what they look like:

Shady Dell

I can't believe I didn't blog about this when it happened.

We went to Shady Dell, a club outside of Mollala where guys have been driving scale trains around a mile of track since I was a little kid.

Mary and I had no idea how often trains passed our house until this summer, when Simone's interest in trains went ballistic. For a while she's yelled, "plane!" when she hears a plane fly by, "truck" when she heard the rumble of a garbage truck, "bus" when she sees or hears a big bus. But, this summer she's gotten to yelling "train!" when she hears the horn of a train. It's kind of cute, but the other night she was yelling it out from her bedroom when it was time to sleep. Not so cute.

Of course, while I was sitting with her the other night and she was insistently whispering "train" to me (b/c she knew it was time for sleep), it took all my resolve not to bust out laughing.

Anyway, that's all to say that Simone is nuts for trains (to grandpa's delight).

At Shady Dell you get to watch the trains roll by, and then you get to ride in them. Here are a few choice photos from the event. We were joined by Grandpa and Nana.

First, everyone in the station, getting ready to ride:

Everyone on the move:

What the engines look like (complete with cow on the cow guard):

And a shot for Grandpa, a detail of the wheels. They're about 8" tall, you'd never know from the photo:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two Minor Gripes

Often when I work out at work I watch the TVs. At 7am, SportsCenter is always on, and I can sometimes tune a second TV to something interesting (this morning it was a Mountain Dew BMX competition).

SportsCenter tends to only focus on basketball, football, baseball and hockey - which is a bit of a drag - but it's entertaining enough to watch while I listen to tunes or podcasts. However, they occasionally do this bit where some dude stands up in front of a HUGE flatscreen (seriously 6 feet wide) to do some detailed analysis of (generally) a football play. He taps on a "button" on the side (it's just a part of the screen), and then taps on some players, dragging arrows around and the such. It's sort of a higher-tech version of Dave Madden's telestrator. That's all well and good, but what annoys me is that SportsCenter is showing the guy doing all the clicking, and the screen is at an angle to the camera. I don't need to see the dude pressing buttons, I don't really care that they've got a 6' wide flatscreen, what I do know is that I'm watching a HD TV and they're showing me a picture of a picture - which totally ruins the experience. Why?

One of the commercials during the BMX show (oddly) was for a motor oil. If you've ever worked with motor oil (and, no, I've not changed the oil in a car, however I've driven two cars that need regular oil infusions) you know that the shape of the bottle is such that the spout is not in the center of the bottle, but is lined up on one of the sides. Why is this? It is so that when you pour, you can pour with the spout on the top and avoid the dreaded glug.

Ok, it's long lead up to a little gripe - I did some googling, and perhaps people don't know how to properly pour motor oil. If you don't - take a look at the shape of the bottle. Note that the spout is commonly on one of the sides. When you pour the oil, you pour
with the spout on the top and the "belly" of the bottle down. This allows air to enter at the same time as oil is leaving. This technique enables you to pour the oil smoothly - no glugs.

So, what's the gripe? The commercials always show the people pouring oil the wrong way. This usually comes in the form of some animation showing the bottle being poured the wrong way - but glug free - which is physically impossible. Today's commercial showed actual video of a guy pouring the oil (the wrong way), which he was doing super slowly and it was still glugging. I don't know who makes the directing decisions and why they constantly make the wrong choice, but it's more than a little irritating. I've yet to see a commercial that does it right. Perhaps all the hand models are right-handed (because the label is usually on the side such that if you pour it right-handed with the label showing the bottle is the wrong way. If they just switched to left-handed actors it'd work (or you could even flip the video if you want the look of a right-hander).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Jigsaw Puzzles

Simone did her first jigsaw puzzle today. Before today, I hadn't seen Simone really take much interest in the puzzles. She'd done the 'put the letter in the cutout' or 'put the animal in the cutout' puzzles in the past.

We have a couple jigsaw puzzles that someone gave her, and they'd come apart a few weeks ago. Just a few minutes ago, Simone laid down on the floor and started putting one together. I started on the second one, she helped me, and then turned back to hers. Every piece was placed by her, all 25.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

An Artist

A while back, someone gave us the idea of scanning Simone's art as a way of preserving it. I thought it was great, and finally got around to rounding them up. These are from this year.

This first is a rainbow girl. Rainbows were a hit for a while, I think it was her way to start using many colors at the same time:

A popular story was/is the three little pigs. Our version ends with the wolf climbing down the chimney into the pot of water on the fire and enjoys a soak in the hot tub.

I believe this one is a drawing of Mary, done at the beach over Labor Day:

Oh, and stickers are hugely popular. She's been incorporating them into her drawings:

Or, perhaps this is the drawing of Mary. The likeness is uncanny:

And Mary's current favorite, a drawing of a fairy, with wings and a crown and notice the musical notes. That's actually a song that goes along with the fairy. And, at one point, the little green dot was a belly button.

September 11th

I know, it's not even September, it's almost October 11th, a month past the 9 year anniversary.

What do you remember from the coverage?

There was lots of remembrances for the firemen, the people who died in the building and the planes, lots of pity and remorse directed at ourselves. And I do morn the loss of those people.

But I found myself thinking about how September 11th happened: why the hijackers did what they did, how U.S. foreign policy was then versus now, have we done anything concrete to make ourselves safer, how have views toward religion changed because of what happened on that day (and the time since then), etc.

But there was none that I heard.

It seems that we (as a country) have just become more divided, more partisan, more disenchanted. We're no safer, we've spent tons of money in two different wars and bailing out financial institutions, incompetence and corruption continue to spread through our political system (both parties, one just has better PR).

That is what I'm sad about.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Busy September

Where to begin?

Simone began the month with a row boat. That was a reoccurring theme for the month. The tricky part was when she wanted to row with me in the boat.

We then went to the beach for labor day.

There were sand castles to be made,

walks to the river to go fishing,

and thoughtful strolls:

Afterwords, Simone and Nana made pig-shaped cookies with the new cookie cutter:

Then we read Skippy Jon Jones (the case of the burrito bandito), which turned out to be funnier on the second read. Simone has been big into masks, so she dressed up as Skippy Jon Jones:

Then we had to return home, to normalcy - pancakes with faces:

To remember September 11th, I took a photo of our beautiful daughter:

Then, Simone and I headed to Opal Creek to hang with Grandpa, Nana, uncle Sam, (soon ot be auntie) Ingrid, and Sarah. We began the trip with the 3 mile hike in. Simone wanted her backpack on (it's a cow):

We walked in with Grandpa and Nana. Well I rode my bike towing the Burley:

The next day we went for a hike - Simone walked a good 2+ miles. We had a great time.

She pretended to be a mushroom that was growing from a seed. First a seed:

And then growing up to be a big mushroom:

Simone took several pictures, some turned out pretty well:

We ran into Nana and Grandpa on the hike and walked back together.

(a couple more photos of the hike are available here). I really liked Simone's quizzical look here (still at Opal Creek):

The next week was more excitement. Sam and Ingrid's wedding. First the rehearsal dinner at Kennedy.

These two are the ones getting hitched:

This was just too cute:

The next day was the big day (many photos from Nansie Jubitz here). The reason we were at the rehearsal dinner was because Simone was the flower girl. And this first picture tells it all. Simone was bubbling with excitement:

And Simone in action:

Simone danced the night away, nearly adopting Ingrid as her favorite person.

The next day we woke up, had breakfast at the B&B with Ron, Angel, Moo (Jason), Alex, Susa and their girl. We then took a trip to Lost Lake:

Simone went fishing in the lake:

Simone also really wanted to take one of the boats out, but we were on our way to Sam and Ingrid's BBQ.

Simone and I finished the month off with a picnic at Sunset Park, at sunset:

Whew!!!! Busy times, much fun.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Little Bit Of Ranting

It boggles the mind that Wall Street has the gall to complain about new regulations while making BILLIONS the last two years (with billions in bonuses). They would have brought down the country (world?) if it were not for the bail out, and now complain that they're being stifled - while making bank when the rest of the country is poorer than ever. Income inequality hasn't been this great since just before the great depression.

Rechargeable batteries. I went to buy some more rechargeable batteries and only one of the 5 or 6 brands available had any mention of how much power they could store. That's really the only useful metric. Yet the packaging told me the batteries would last 12 times longer than regular batteries and the charge would hold up 3 times as long.... all useless, give me the milliamp hours.

I love how the Iraq war was announced to be over on Sept 1st, but we'd already had two major offensives in the two weeks following. Yet the media proudly thumped the drum of "combat operations are over."

I'm not crazy about (poorly designed) digital controls, which most seem to be. What do I mean? Well, digital (versus analog) controls only allow you to change the temperature, volume, flow by pre-determined increments. And those increments are generally too large. Think of taking a shower, you can turn the hot and cold by the tiniest amounts to control the temperature exactly how you want. Imagine if the water controls only had 6 positions, the water would always be too hot or too cold. Well, the digital controls in my life that are currently annoying me the most: the gas burners on my stove, the volume on the car radio, and the volume on my computer. The burners are really the most annoying - it's very difficult to simmer.

5 Movie Reviews in 5 Minutes

Am on a bit of a movie spree lately.

500 Days of Summer - quirky, well done, nice job of a non-romantic comedy. You knew what was coming, but it was enjoyable to watch the characters get where they were going.

All About Steve - The previews led me to think this would be funny. Mary fell asleep during it and I watched through the end more out of morbid curiosity. Sandra Bullock's character was fun and interesting, but a bit too much to be believable (even with suspended disbelief). I thought the end was good - last 5 minutes.

Date Night - started out slow and boring, was a bit worried. But about 20 minutes into it the twist came and the movie turned up. Mark Wahlberg was fun, and all the movie held together pretty well until the last 15 minutes - which was a bit over the top. I did think there was a scene where Tina Fey totally looked like Parker Posie.

The Hurt Locker - bravo. Very suspenseful, I was on the edge of my seat most of the movie. I don't know what the take-home message was, but I enjoyed watching it.

Awesome, I Fcsking Shot That - a Beastie Boys concert video - with much of the footage taken from 50 video cameras handed out into the crowd. First, thumbs down for their green track suits. The concert was pretty decent, and I like the idea - but the footage from most of the cameras wasn't very interesting. Still, their show wasn't as entertaining as Stop Making Sense, so the fan footage was a way to make it somewhat watchable. Not recommended for epileptics.