Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Nobody's Fool

Yesterday my daughter kept going on about this "baby egg" she got from a friend of hers at school. It appeared to me to be nothing more than a very small, green bead. But she insisted it was a baby egg, and that they start out very small and green, but then get bigger and whiter as they grow until they become a full sized egg. Her friend had told her this, and she seemed to believe it.

I was not sure how to handle it. Should I try and shatter her illusion now, or wait until she got concerned because it wasn't growing? I finally settled for saying something like "It probably won't grow unless it stays inside the chicken."

She suddenly got all serious. "Dad, can I tell you a secret? It's not really an egg. My friend and I found it on the playground and she thought it would be fun to pretend."

So there you go. My daughter is smart AND an actress.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Glad They Are There

This weekend I had a close encounter with a profession that no one ever wants to deal with, but when you have to, you're glad they're there: funeral directors.

I don't know if they're all this way, but these gentlemen were fantastic. They were dignified, respectful, and very careful of everything the did and said. At no time did I detect even a hint of insincerity.

Yes, you're putting your departed loved one in these gentlemen's hands, but even moreso you are putting your family in their hands. They recognize that they're not really in the burial business, but rather in the peace business. It's an amazingly noble calling to be willing to wade into the midst of grief and loss and help everyone involved begin their healing process. I could never do it. I don't care enough about other people. And I'd never be able to keep my mouth in check.

I'm also reminded of just how wonderful a family I have. Everyone has stepped up and come together. I won't say "effortlessly" because I'm sure beneath the surface each of us is dealing with emotions and thoughts we'd never want others to see. But each of us, in our own way, is doing what we can. It's not surprising, really. Just comforting, like reaching for the bedroom doorknob in the dark only to find it precisely where you expected it to be.

My father died this weekend, perhaps even while I was in the room. This is one of those significant life events that is held up in literature and movies as a defining moment, a transcendant moment, a grand Truth of life.

How do I feel? I feel nothing--certainly nothing defining, transcendant, or Truth-ful. Is it because I am incapable of feeling? Am I just not connected enough to reality? Is this something simply too immense and powerful to even register without overloading? Or do I on some visceral level simply understand that everything is exactly as it should be?

I can't answer that. Perhaps I never will. Perhaps there is no need.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Empire Evades Direct Questions

***Spoiler Alert (If you don't know what about, then you're not a regular reader. Try Metamucil)***

Well, it appears my "wait and see" approach to Professor Advisor Vice President President Avril Torrent was the right one to take, since the book never answers the question. It also never answers the question of who killed the president--the first of three, anyway.

In short, it's an "un-book" in that there is no climax. There is no point at which we know if the protagonists are going to win or lose. Not really. Everyone works their butts off for the entire book to save the country only to...not know if they did or not.

It's a lot like life, but it stinks in a novel.

Unless there's a sequel coming.

Is it just me, or did the scene between Avril Torrent and Aldo Vieras (forgive me if I do not spell correctly--I listened to the audio book) stick out like a sore thumb? ONE scene in the entire book where we see Torrent without a protagonist around. The guy only appears in just a few scenes as is. What was the point? What did it really prove? How did it advance the story in any way? One bad guy thinks another guy is a bad guy. So what? Why should we care what his opinion is?

We don't get to see inside Torrent's mind--not really--so no damage done, really. But it just didn't fit the pattern. It's as if DeeNee Breen or Pres. Nielsen suddenly got a scene to themselves.

Of course it could just be me.

Anyway, good book, though he's preaching to the choir. While waiting for the oratorio he had already convinced me with a song.

Is This What We've Becoming?

An interesting "first impressions" from an American Idol newbie.

I've seen a little bit of the show, and I think it's spot on.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Involvement Meter

***"Empire" Spoiler Alert***

It's a sure sign of...something...when I find myself talking to a book. Such is the case with "Empire." These people who have been staying alive from sheer paranoia are suddenly not asking questions anymore, even after one of their own gets taken down by refusing to accept the possibility of someone not being trustworthy. They should be questioning everything they hear from everyone. I keep telling them this, and they do not listen.

When I left off one character was finally starting to ask some questions, and it's about time. It's as if everyone just suddenly forgot that the guy who got killed was getting orders from someone in the White House, and that person is still out there.

I'm going to have to hold off on the "Whose side is Professor Advisor Vice-President Torrent on" question. It's obvious he's on his own side. And while what clues we have all point to his wanting to become the First Emperor of the United States, it's also obvious that he has been carefully crafting the image he wants people to see, so Card's obviously trying to keep that secret in the bag as long as he can. And events are in motion that, depending on the outcome, will reveal one or the other. (My money's on Cole & Company's mission to Washington being a trap, just for the record.)

In regards to Torrent, though, one name from a text common and beloved to both Card and I keeps coming to mind and refuses to go away: Amalickiah.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More "Empire" Reactions

Spoiler Alert!

He killed off the main character! Serves me right. I was just thinking last night that the book was starting to get a little boring and predictable. I also remember thinking that the main character's refusal to distrust people he thinks he knows was going to come back to bite him--but I didn't imagine it would get him killed! He was the guy with the family, for crying out loud! Card isn't supposed to do that to families! But then he has no compunction against "colorful metaphores," so why not?

I didn't see it coming. I should have. Nice one, Card. You turkey.

Changing my vote, though. Professor Torrent is probably a good guy. Unless, of course, Pres. Idaho (gah, what's his name?) is a bad guy (entirely possible). Then all bets are off.

Hee hee! This is fun!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Lady is settling in nicely, though it will take some work to redo the house-training that was undone during the last several years of her living outside. The cats still avoid her, though she is just dying to get acquainted. We're going to try a few things tonight to encourage the situation a little.

I learned over the weekend that the observation tower in Harlanharju, one of the places we visited last time we went to Finland, was destroyed by an arsonist. It's really unfortunate--even moreso since the person has evidently done this before at another site. It was quite a magnificent view from up there. It was a historical structure, so obviously something like that can't truly be replaced, but I hope they try.

We bought a DVR last week, and I'm slowly getting more and more used to how to run the thing. Soon we'll be able to bore our family with DVDs of our home videos! The kids enjoy the "reverse" function. Not that I do at all, of course. I certainly wasn't one of those who thought a substitute teacher was really cool if they'd run the movies backward in class. No, not me.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It's an official company holiday where I work. However, they also give us a lump sum of paid time off per year, which holidays are deducted from, so I'm not observing it. If I'm going to have to pay for my day off I'm going to save it for a more amenable month. I've got a playhouse to build in a few months, after all.

So sorry, Dr. King. Next time pick a better month for your holiday. Call me un-PC if you like.

I've been listening to O. S. Card's new book, "Empire" lately. It'll be interesting to see where it all winds up, but so far it's at least entertaining. I'm still waiting to see where the conspiratorial historian comes back into the book. He supposedly recruited our hero in the second chapter, but hasn't been seen since. Is he good or evil? At this point I'm betting "evil." And with that statement I can hear my brother and sister who've already finished the book smirking.

Smirk on, siblings!

Friday, January 12, 2007

New Arrival

Lady came to live with us today. Here's a picture:

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cats and Dogs...Sleeping Together...!

It would appear that we are about to become a dog household. Terhi has been teaching ballet for the past semester at a private studio in someone's house. Each week she and the kids notice the people's dog chained up in the yard and feel sorry for it. I think the owner has noticed their attention--and her own family's lack of attention--and decided to offer the dog to us. We're going to accept and see how our cats deal with it.

Just another step in our evil plan to make sure my allergy-ridden family never visits us again.

In other news, I took the Christmas lights down tonight. The wind was blowing from the south via the coffee factory. I know I'm a Mormon, and we don't drink coffee, but I don't see anything in the commandments about not sniffing it. Roasted coffee beans provide a mighty fine aroma. Fine enough that I didn't mind crawling around on the roof of the house so much.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Now Where Did He Hear That?!

Overheard from my three-year-old son this morning:

"I'm not a monster. I'm freaking out!"

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Oh, De Toilette

The flusher handle thingie on the toilet in the kids' bathroom broke today. Had I know it was such a non-specialized part I could probably have picked one up on the way home from work with all my other errands in the same area as Home Depot. But I didn't, and so I spent half an hour making a special trip so that I could spend five minutes fixing it--and that includes hauling my toolbox up from the garage only to find out it didn't require any tools.

And I am blessed enough to have this be the biggest problem I've faced all day. What a country!

Monday, January 01, 2007

All Right, Back To Work, You Bum!

I've enjoyed being off work for the last week and a half, even if much of the time was spent catching up on the honey-do list. Had a wonderful Christmahannukwanzadanstice--it was even a week before the kids returned to not having anything to do! I've been reviewing and revising the budget, inventorying the food storage, and generally taking charge of a few things that have slipped over the past year.

We spent last night with friends. Every year (except one) we have a couple over to celebrate the wife's birthday. Since they keep agreeing to it each year I can only assume that they enjoy it as much as we do. There's an art to being good guests, and these two seem to have mastered it. Though they're technically my friends, they always do an excellent job of including Terhi and keeping the inside jokes/references to a minimum. We talk (a lot, for us), play games (rediscovered Mille Bornes this time), and consume mass quantities. Great fun!

Today we celebrated by going to the local discount supermarket and buying $160 of food storage items. We would have bought more, but were afraid of breaking the cart. Canned goods get heavy. Then we came home and took down the Christmas tree and all the decorations. I'm amazed at how big our living room feels now.

And tomorrow I go back to work. I'll be officially starting on my new assignment.

2007 is officially under weigh. I'm not as optimistic (or perhaps confident--and with very good cause) as Tiffany, but I think this will be a good year. To quote (the entity known as) David Bowman, "Something is going to happen. Something wonderful."

2006 Predictions Revisited

So, let's see if I'm any more psychic than last year:

1) The 2006 elections will provide no significant gains for either party.
Wrong. Unless you've been living in a cave, the Democrats won majorities in both chambers, and is well on target to squander the good will of the American people.

2) Britney Spears will not get divorced.
Wrong. If you've been living in a cave you'll know that the world ended this year when she announced she's splitting from Mr. Britney Spears.

3) Kevin Federline's album will enjoy mixed sales. He'll still make several million. He lands a contract for TV or a movie in the process. Will still be called "Mr. Britney Spears" by the media.
Jury is still out on this one. But since part of this one hinged on the previous one, I'll count this one as a miss, too.

4) Tom and Kate will not tie the knot.
Boy, I'm batting 1000 here. They did, in case you were in the aforementioned cave.

5) Iraq's new government will perform reasonably well, their army will step up, and U.S. Troop levels will be below 75,000 by the end of the year.
No, yes, no. That's another miss.

6) Saddam Hussein will be convicted and executed--over U.N. protest.
I got one! I really got one!

7) The U.N. will try again to gain control of the Internet.
Probably. I haven't heard, to be honest.

8) Joseph Lieberman will go Independent.
Got another one! Yes he did, and he won.

9) Iran will develop a nuclear weapon. Israel or the U.S. will take military action to keep them from using it.
Not enough information on the former, but definitely not the latter.

10)North Korea's government will collapse. China will send in troops to stabilize the country.
Don't I wish.

11) I will be working for a completely different company.
Technically true. It's the same old company bought by a completely different company, and acting like a new company.

12) I will finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
Nope. Still clueless....annnnnnd loving it!

13) Walter will become interested in something entirely different from tractors/trains/cars.
Yes and no. He's very much into "Babe" and "Charlotte's Web." But he still loves anything with an engine.

14) Emma will take to kindergarten like a duck to water.
Not a very difficult prediction, but quite true. She hates inservice and vacation days with a passion.

15) Terhi or I will start a side business.
Kinda true. Terhi is teaching ballet for someone else's studio.

16) There will be a major earthquake (6.0+) within in the U.S.
Unless I was in a cave, no.

17) There will be a foiled terrorist attack at the Torino Olympics.

18) At least one major media organization will go out of business.
Not that I know of, though there were several mergers, buy-outs, and restructurings.

That's about 5 or 5.5 out of 18. I am officially less psychic than last year.

....annnnnnnnnd loving it!