Sunday, January 23, 2011


Well, in an attempt to add some girly things on our blog and portray life from my thoughts I am going to write a post. Besides, I can do things worth writing about.

See, I make things.

Balloon hats and swords on demand!

Receiving blankets and burp cloths as gifts for baby showers.
Quilted blankets for Jordan and Carter just because Carter asked me how I made a quilt from my childhood. (I took them to Joann's and they picked out the materials. But I did all the work.) I even learned how to make and attach my own binding for these, which is something I have never done before.

And of course, my annual tradition of making this nativity wall hanging. I've made one, or more, every year for the past seven years. Each one has gone to one of my siblings for Christmas. I have one left to make!

If Jordan had his way I would be making a whole lot more things. He wants to put into production every idea in his head. Like when he wanted Santa to bring him specialty costumes made from characters in his books and drawings. Unfortunately, Santa was a little too busy to make detailed costumes of "Bolt - Lightning Man" and "Huggie Monster", or they would be featured here.

But this idea made it to production. Jordan was home sick from school and thought it would be fun to make a fishing pole and fish for Carter. (Carter loves fishing.) I think they turned out darn cute for a totally from scratch idea and supplies.

The next idea on the list is sock aliens and sock monkeys. *sigh* That one is sounding like a big project. But, I like to be creative and see what my hands can produce.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Luck or Unlucky?

While telling my colleague about my latest misadventure, I thought about how lucky I was. His first reaction though was to tell me how unlucky I seem to be. So which is it? Do I have great luck in bad situations or am I just optimistic in an unlucky life?

This is my bike, Chaplin. Yeah, I give everything a name. Its name is an homage to Charlie Chaplin as they share the same monochrome color palette. I've been riding it about 50 miles per week since June largely due to the encouragement of the above mentioned colleague. It's been a great bike, but I have had quite a few incidents already.

The most recent incident happened on Wednesday and now Chaplin is out of operation for at least the next few weeks.

In case you've never dealt with bike repairs, in the above photo there are two circled parts: the green circle is around the rear derailleur (de-RAIL-er) and the orange circle is around the derailleur hanger (aka dropout). The rear derailleur is an engineering marvel. The upper half (silver in the above pic) is responsible for changing the gears on a bike by moving the chain exact minuscule quantities, and the cage (black in the above pic) keeps the chain taut. The derailleur does all this while the bike moves at high speeds and wheel spokes are spinning at the speed of death just millimeters away. The hanger however, is just a piece of metal that attaches the derailleur to the frame. Its sole purpose is to sacrifice itself in case something 'goes wrong' so your frame and your derailleur don't break.

So on Wednesday I'm riding to work and the gears completely lock up as I'm climbing the biggest hill of the ride. I quickly unclipped from my pedals before falling over and surveyed the damage; I saw a complete carnage. The cage was brutally ripped off the derailleur. The derailleur was curled backward and stuck in the spokes. The hanger was bent 90 degrees. The only thing I could do was carry the bike to the bus stop and bus the rest of way to work.

To give you a better understanding of the carnage, I present you with this picture:

The top two pieces of metal are the sides of the derailleur cage. The bottom piece is the hanger. They should all be COMPLETELY flat to stay out of the spokes. And this photo is after I bent the hanger back into shape. They were mutilated by the rear wheel.

This is just about the worst mechanical damage you can have on a bike. And it's not supposed to happen! That hanger was SUPPOSED to sacrifice itself before the derailleur. Not so. So I purchased a new derailleur for $26. The rear tire will need to be trued and inspected as well. Here's the weird thing...I had to order the hanger from the UK at a cost of $26. How could a tiny piece of metal cost as much as the mechanically complex rear derailleur?

My colleague's viewpoint is that this is an exceedingly rare and rather expensive accident in my already extensive line of bizarre biking incidents. Plus I had to walk a long distance to the bus stop in my bike shoes which means I now need to replace the cleats.

But as I see it, I'm fortunate that the derailleur only cost $26 instead of the typical $100+. Plus, my frame was spared from the carnage. I'm also glad that I could even buy the hanger because they're hard to find and if I couldn't secure one, the bike would be useless. I also count my lucky stars that I was within walking distance of a bus. And finally, I think I'm lucky that it happened while I was going slow on an incline instead of while going downhill...or else my bike would have locked up like this...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Christmas 2010

I've decided to muscle my way through the umpteen posts that I've had simmering on the back burner. First is Christmas. I already wrote about what we got, but I want to tell a few side stories.

Carter got the same present for the third consecutive year from Santa Claus. Remote-controlled dogs. That Carter...if he finds something he likes, he sticks to it.

He was quite the ham opening presents this year. At one point he ripped off the wrapping paper from a box and said "a box! A box? Why would I want a box?"

Here are our friends, Dan and Andrea. They're awesome, just so ya know. They came over for most of our Christmas festivities. For Christmas dinner I made duck. Really good duck. Not to mention the potatoes that were fried in the leftover duck fat - one of the greatest substances on earth. As good as it was, we decided not to make it a tradition. Maybe I'll try Turducken next year!

This was our very first real Christmas tree. More Christmas trees come from Oregon than any other state, so we must have sounded really strange telling people at the tree farm that we'd never cut one down before. Noble firs are just beautiful. Plus, they last so long. We also got a Noble fir wreath that is still on our door. I can't bear to toss it out while it's still fresh!

No story here...just stockings. I'm glad we had the foresight to purchase five of those stockings instead of just four. It'll come in handy next year. By the way, Cynthia has her ultrasound on Tuesday!!! Any last guesses on boy or girl?

I tried to build up excitement for the Wii by fooling the boys a little bit. Didn't quite work the way I had hoped, but it was still a decent reaction.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More Glasses in the Fam

What do you get when a husband and wife, both with bad eyesight, breed? High vision insurance utilization! Geez, that almost sounds like a bad Actuary joke.

For the very first time we have vision insurance so Jordan now has glasses for the first time. They are twistable rimless Nike frames in red that look surprisingly good on him. They also look quite a bit like mine, but that's subject to change as I also need to get new glasses soon.

I asked Jordan what he wanted to blog about his glasses. He said "I love them! They can twist...without breaking. The glasses are red."

Be My Super-Awesome Wii Friend

So I just figured out how to add Wii friends. Our console number is below; please add us and give us your console number so we can add you. No idea how to find your console number? Go here.

4421 0628 5280 7464

I know this is really geeky, but I used the LUHN Mod 10 method to ensure this wasn't a valid credit card number before posting it to the world.

Our Wii Connection enabled games are: Mario Kart, Mario Strikers Charged, Dr Mario Online Rx, Tetris Party (Wiiware, not the Deluxe CD version), and Wii Music. Even if you don't have any of those games, we'd still like to have super awesome Wii friends...'cause a Wii without a friend is just a Mii.


It is now official; we have the first pets of our whole marriage. Not the best picture, but there are two frogs (African Dwarf Frogs) in that aquarium. Jordan asked for frogs for Christmas and Santa came through! Jordan named them "Sam and Toad"...great names if you ask me. The best part of this aquarium (Natural Aquatics system) is that we only have to feed the frogs twice a week and only need to 'clean' the water twice a year. I say 'clean' because we simply remove 2/3 of the water and fill it back up again. The perfect system to teach a 7-year old responsibility.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ooma (Not Thurman)

Yet another electronics purchase. I've got capacitors coming out my ears by now. We bought an Ooma box, something like this...

Although it actually doesn't look anything like that. We got the older and cheaper model. Regardless, it's a VOIP box so now our home phone service is free. Yippee! This did necessitate a change in our home phone number so if you need our new number, just ask.

As we have three different numbers, this change may be confusing, so let me detail it out for you.

Area code 414 number...this is our cell phone. We hardly ever use it and the number hasn't changed.
Area code 262 number...this is our Google Voice number. We use it as a forwarding number, so it will reach us no matter where we are.
Area code 503 number...this is our home phone. It has changed to a different 503 number. The old one is already disconnected, so ask for an update if needed.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas Electronica

Christmas was pretty extravagant this year. I suppose that's a result of having a smaller Christmas last year because of unemployment. It was sheer bliss from an electronics point of view. Here's what we got:

Vizio 37' 1080p LCD TV
When you've had nothing but an computer monitor for several years (albeit a respectable 22" monitor), a TV seems really, really big. Strangely enough, the TV's primary function is a computer monitor. We were lucky to get this the day after Black Friday on one of those doorbuster deals where the store only carries 2-3. Thank you sparsely populated Hurricane, Utah!

As we already have a tuner card in our computer there is little benefit to buying a TV. The only reasons we wanted it was 1) bigger screen and 2) the ability to hook up a...

I got a Wii! I got a Wii! I finally got a Wii! (And yes, it is black.) So now that I had a TV I started looking around for deals on a Wii. We were actually thinking that a Wii would be a gift for Christmas 2011, but Wal-Mart had the console for $125 and I couldn't pass it up. I don't care if it's not the #1 selling console anymore, it's still the most entertaining.

Call us if you ever want to play Mario Kart, Mario Strikers Charged, Dr Mario Online Rx, or Tetris Party via Wifi Connection! Our console number is 4421 0628 5280 7464.

MP3 Player

I finally joined the bandwagon and got an MP3 player. I haven't needed one since I sold my PocketPC back in 2006, but computer restrictions at work are becoming more intensive so I need something else besides my work computer to play music. Enter the Sansa Clip+. Does the job, durable, cheap, non-flashy. Perfect.

Chumby (Alarm Clock)

So maybe you guys have heard of a Chumby before, but I was completely late to the table on this one. A Chumby is a simple internet appliance with a speaker, mic, accelerometer and a touch-screen that is surprisingly difficult to explain. It can run several different flash-based applications that you place in different 'channels' (I have channels for news, wake-up, photo frame, shopping, games, etc.). It can play FM radio. It can hook up to your Pandora account. It can play from any other internet music service or streaming radio site. It has an infinite number of alarms that you can fully customize to either wake you up or silently start a new channel or dim the lights or shut off. It is a remarkable little device.

I got it to primarily act as an alarm clock. So it wakes me up (M-F) to Pandora at 6 am. But then it automatically goes to my "Good Morning" channel which has a word-of-the-day program, the weather, quotes-of-the-day, a clock, a pregnancy countdown for TLC, and a moon chart. At 8 am I have it set as a digital photo frame that pulls images of our Picasa Web Albums. At 9 pm it switches over to my 'Shopping' channel so I don't miss any good deals. It cycles through our email accounts at 10 pm. At 10:30 it goes dark and plays a sleep timer of our local classical radio station. I'm completely enamored with this thing.

Here are two of my actual 'channels' just to give you an idea of what I mean. They are flash-based, but no guarantees that they'll work correctly on here. Consider it just for show.

"Good Morning!" Channel

My favorite app in this channel is the pregnancy countdown. When you click on the app, it gives fun little tidbits about the swimmer TLC is carrying around.

Games Channel

Why else would we have technology if not to play games???

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010: Year of Woody

 Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon.

-Woody Allen (Annie Hall)

I love Woody Allen films. The art, the exploration of human nature, the comedy, the acting, the drama, the title sequence that never changes, the big band music...I love it all. In 2010, I made a point of watching every Woody Allen film that I hadn't yet seen but wanted to. It was a glorious, glorious year. I even got TLC (The Lovely Cynthia) to watch a few good ones with me. After such a binge of Woody's movies, I now have to revise my top five Woody Allen movies. These are my personal favorites, not necessarily his best.

Crime and Misdemeanors
"God is a luxury I can't afford."

I finally saw this one just this summer. In my opinion, it is Allen's masterpiece. Two very human stories are intertwined; one a Greek tragedy with deep introspection, the other a realist comedy. Religion, relationships, life and death are all examined. The acting and direction are wonderful. A few scenes are so well done that they permanently burn into your psyche. I'll never listen to Schubert the same way again.

Annie Hall
"La Di Dah, La Di Dah"

Here's a little trivia for you about one of my favorite movie stars - Diane Keaton. Her birth name is Diane Hall and her friends call her 'Annie'...she is literally the title character in this film. The personality and wardrobe were straight from Diane Keaton; no creative writing needed. Good thing she got the Oscar for it, no one could have played herself better. Winner of the Best Picture Oscar, Annie Hall is a romantic comedy with a bittersweet end. Woody Allen's best comedy, by far. It's a film that shows its age, but I still love it. TLC however, can't stand it - hard to please everyone.

Radio Days
"I've never forgotten any of those people or any of the voices we would hear on the radio. Though the truth is, with the passing of each New Year's Eve, those voices do seem to grow dimmer and dimmer."

It seems that, sooner or later, every great artist does an homage to his/her childhood. This is Woody's tender remembrance of simpler days when radio waves ruled the culture of our nation. Touching, funny, and very down to earth. And filled with great music from the 20's, 30's, and 40's that (depending on your age) will either be fondly remembered or a great first listen of classic hits. Also of note, Mia Farrow's best movie, in my humble opinion.

Manhattan Murder Mystery

"Claustrophia and a dead body - this is a neurotic's jackpot!"

Diane and Woody's last collaboration resulted in the brilliantly funny, heart-pounding Manhattan Murder Mystery which is a murder mystery in Manhattan...brilliant title right?...or is it a murder?... Either way, you'll have an enjoyable evening trying to figure it out. Bonus points for the married couple working out their differences...a rare feat in a Woody flick.

Small Time Crooks
Ray - "The Brain. That's what the guys used to call me, right?"
Benny - "But, Ray, that was sarcastic!"

Small Time Crooks is a deliciously indulgent comedy about dumb crooks and cookies...seriously. It's a really fun time, but don't expect to be made into a better or more cultured person by watching it. Tracey Ullman, Elaine May, and Hugh Grant are perfect in their roles.

A few other of Woody's films deserve at least an Honorable Mention:

No other movie is like Purple Rose of Cairo. It's an unexpected dramedy in its own class.
Hannah and Her Sisters is Woody's biggest commercial success. A masterfully told story of three sisters.
Vicky Christina Barcelona is great cinematically, but I can't recommend it because of its content.
Curse of the Jade Scorpion is a period detective/comedy film. Many think it's Woody's worst film, but...

There are a few Woody Allen movies I saw this summer that I can't stand. Stay away from them...please.

Sleeper - quite possibly the worst comedic Sci-Fi ever made. Too screwball and dirty to matter.
Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy - dumb story, Mia Farrow is terrible,...there are no redeeming values.
Play It Again, Sam - I really wanted to like this homage to Casablanca. I couldn't even stand to watch it all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best of 2010 Album

Here's our annual 'Best of' photo album for 2010. Finally. We were light on pictures this year, but for how busy the year was, I'm happy we took as many pictures as we did. Hope you enjoy the album!