Monthly Archives: July 2007

just silly – another gratuitous toddler photo


Personal Stories – My Brother’s Marriage

My big brother was married today. Always a stand up guy, he made a great catch. His bride, a.k.a. my new sister-in-law, is successful herself. Together, they make a fetching power couple.

There is some back story here. Way back in 2003, my wife and I first met at a new years eve party hosted at the house of a mutual friend. We married by the end of the new year. On our year anniversary of meeting, we brought my big brother and his wife-to-be to a new years eve party at the same house. Like my wife and I a year before, my brother and the love of his life had never before met. "Would lightening strike twice?" we wondered amusingly.

It seemed that the only problem with their relationship was proximity. He lives in New Mexico. She lives in Iowa. After years of a long distance phone calls, internet chats, internet video chats, and lots of airline miles, the two decided that it was time to be together till death do they part. A month later, they are now married and driving together to the "Land of Enchantment".

So huzaa to my brother and new sister-in-law!

May they be as blessed as my family.

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Personal Stories – Vacation Pictures

The photos my family's recent vacation to the San Diego area have been uploaded, sorted, enhanced, and now posted. Because you can watch or skip it, this page is truly only one step above a slide show. Enjoy.

We reserved a mid-size SUV. The planet is great and all, but we had a lot of stuff to haul, including an 18 month old. Alamo Rental Car gave us the Dodge Durango. My wife was pissed. How dare they pawn off some giant SUV on us. It was huge. That tree in the picture is a California Redwood.

Our first touristy stop was Birch Aquarium. It was educational and fun.  In addition to fish, it had an interactive exhibit about climate change. Little man didn't really understand it. He did like rotating the crank that powers light bulbs. Spoiler alert, the compact fluorescent wins. By the way, we are all doomed.

The next day was aircraft carrier day at the USS Midway, a floating museum off Harbor Drive. I loved it and surprisingly, my wife had fun there to. Having no sense of history, little man was his usual self.


The Midway is a big ship with lots to see and do. This was little man less than 5 minutes after leaving the ship.

Our last big outing was the San Diego Zoo. The panda is definitely worth the wait. Little man refused to be quiet as instructed. He found it more fun to launch high pitched screams.

The rest of our time was spent at the beach. With the ocean breeze cooling us off. It seemed almost too cold to swim. Once little man warmed to the water, figuratively, he would stay in until he was too cold, literally.

Too bad vacations must end. Now my family is once again hot and wet with humidity, spending must of the day inside and longing for the ocean. Little man learned a new word, "bea" for "beach". We are all a little tanner. And of course we have some awesome memories.

Huzaa to vacation!

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Untimely Reviews – V for Vendetta

Ever read a book then see the movie but think the book was better? Not me. If I know a movie is coming I won't spoil it by reading the book first. In the case of "V for Vendetta" however, I made a point of spoiling this movie.

"V for Vendetta" the movie is based on a graphic novel written by graphic novel legend Alan Moore. The book was written in the early 1980s about events that take place in the late 1990s. Talk about untimely!

V for Vendetta
Alan Moore

Here in the mid 2000s, many of the themes of the book are outdated. We little fear nuclear war. Terrorism is now viewed as abhorrent under any circumstances. Men are not as sexist.

The real meat of the book, however, is in its larger themes of government oppression and the courage to stand up to it. There is one particular event in this book that is as surprising as it is powerful. This one story within the story really defines the book and the entire read, sexist and all, is worth it for this one mind blowing moment.

The movie keeps the defining jewel of the book, but diverges poorly from the rest. Changes must be made. The future is not 1997 and technology has advanced. I can accept that. The book has a parade of scheming characters whose convoluted machinations could not be told in 2 hours. I can accept that too. Mysogeny is generally looked down upon in the 2000s. I applaud that. But, nuclear war has been replaced by a virus? Lame. Worse are the parts of the movie where the characters literally read through the plot. This isn't a book on tape; either show it or lose it. Things go downhill fast after an hour and fifteen minutes into the movie. As I said, the crowning jewel of the book remains virtually intact. See this movie just for that, then fast forward to the grand finale.

I am glad that I read the book first. Not because I necessarily prefer the book to the movie, which I do as all readers must. Quite the contrary, having seen the movie and its up to date vision of the dystopian future of England, I might have found the book to be out of date, out of touch, and generally sullied by its misconceived future and its author's treatment of female characters.

I also recommend another landmark graphic novel by Alan Moore, "The Watchmen". Some day it may also become a movie. Expect more threat of nuclear war and other things so tres 80s. Also expect a fairer treatment of women and an escoriating attack on machismo. After enough two star movies, it is refereshing to find a dense story with subtleties that unravel only upon long reflections. It surely beats the heck out of the "Clone Saga."

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Personal Stories – Beach Vacation

Summer in Iowa is hot, humid, and lacking of oceans. When my brother-in-law invited us to his beach house rental, my wife and I said yes first, booked our flight second, and then checked our calendars. When opportunity knocks, make room to open the door. The picture at the right is a fair use image from Microsoft's satellite mapping program. Look closely and you can almost see the invasion of privacy. I have marked the "beach" house and route to the beach in red.

We stayed near San Diego, subject of the very funny movie "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy". We watched the movie while on vacation: a timely untimely viewing. To my surprise and edification, the temperature in San Diego is an ultra-mild 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, a.k.a. room temperature. Plus, the coast was virtually bug free. It was awesome.

We visited the beach everyday. Back home, I can still smell the ocean. At first little man feared the waves. He would run from them. I would take him up to the water, point at an oncoming wave, and the look back to watch him running away from me. After a few days of this, he magically decided that waves were harmless and fun. Then when I would turn around, he was waist deep in the water and slowly running into the ocean. He had an awesome time.

Apparently, San Diego is full of touristy stuff. There is a whole park, Balboa Park, filled with a great zoo and other stuff we didn't visit. What a great honor to that guy from "Rocky". We also went to Birch Aquarium and after enough begging, my wife agreed to take me and little man to an aircraft carrier, which was awesome. All the touristy stuff was so close, we used only one tank of gas, which is great considering gas in California costs like $1000 per gallon.

My brother-in-law and his family were also fun to hang with. He and his wife have a 6 year old and a 3 year old. They say the funniest things and our little man really got a kick out playing with them. My brother-in-law showed me how to use a body board and I caught a few awesome waves. It was also nice to have another mom around to help watch little man.

The whole trip was worth the numbing 1a.m. to 4a.m. drive back from the airport. With the good vacations, the regret is always the same: I wish I had taken more time off. Awesome pictures to come.

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Arriving to the vacation

Little man slept on the plane. He was sprawled across his mother. Although my wife was uncomfortable, the crying toddler a few rows up showed how much worse things could be.

After the plane landed, my wife and I broke into small groups. She took the baby and the stroller. I loaded up with our carry on bags and the dreaded car seat. We met up at the gate and awaited our checked baggage. The rental car and drive to the vacation rental awaited. Total travel time: forever.

The trip has been worth the trouble. Little man`s new word is beach and we can`t complain about the cool temps of Southern California. The first beach invovled carrying 4 folding chairs, 1 beach umbrella, 3 buckets for sand castles, 3 towels, 1 diaper bag, and 1 eighteen month old. Turns out, we aren't on a vacation from irony.

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Flying with a toddler

My beautiful wife are taking our toddler to sunny and pleasant San Diego, California. We are now on the plane waiting for the connecting flight. Just this much has earned us a vacation.

To get a direct flight, we drove 3 hours to the airport. That`s 2 diaper stops and a sandwich. Little man was stoic. We parked at Thrifty airport parking and struggled to reverse engineer the car seat and its carrying case. After boarding the shuttle we realized that we still had our car key – the parking lot was valet. The bus driver took it and we have no choice but to trust him.

Our baggage includes 1 stroller, 1 car seat, 3 check bags, 3 carry on bags, and 1 toddler. Checking in, getting through security, and boarding was tougher than running a half marathon. I was mad about the car seat. We didn`t buy a ticket for little man, but my wife was vindicated when the flight wasn't full. We were able to use the carseat! My wife rawks! Huzaa for my wife! Now to wrestle a toddler as the plane is delayed waiting for transfers.

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