Friday, October 31, 2008

The Zookeeper's Wife

I just finished reading the sad and inspiring tale about a zookeeper's wife in Poland during WWII. Why was it sad? Because a lot of people died in Poland during WWII, many of them Jews. When I read Night by Elie Wiesel I wanted to cry, vomit, and do my best at removing everything associated with the images it left in my brain (they haunt me still). So I wasn't too enthused about that part of the story, but I will say that Ackerman did a great job in keeping it accurate, but muted. This is by no means a story about Nazi hate and Jews being killed. It's a story about a woman doing everything she can to save her family from the horrors of war.

Oddly, and interestingly, that family included animals. Sure, some of us have pets, but think about taking care of hyena pups. Or a badger. Or a lion. Or an elephant. Then try imagining worrying about those animals (and your own kids) while planes are bombing the city. Yeah, tough job.

Overall, it's a good read. It gives you an inside look at zoo life, the war in Poland, and how luck always seems to find the right people. I'm always amazed at how luck seemed to find the right people at the right time during the war. From family stories of my great-uncle getting shot down over Russia (and surviving) to stories like The Forgotten 500 (a group of Allies that flew out from behind enemy lines).

And that's what the zookeeper and his wife had; luck. And lots of it. They survived the war and kept their family intact.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Blatantly stolen from Erik Scott de Bie's blog:

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change, and change is coming, my friends!

JOHN MC CAIN: My friends, that chicken was a maverick. Why did he cross the road? Because that's what mavericks do--they stand up to their own side and sometimes they cross over to the other side . . . but not really.

JOE BIDEN: To get away from the sidekick of the failed economic policies of the last eight years.

SARAH PALIN: He wanted to get back to the *real America,* over on the other side. Hey, no, that's not what I meant--you and your gosh-darned "gotcha" journalism!

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road . . . and tried unsuccessfully to see that every other chicken in our great country gets equal road-crossing coverage. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me--this is about what's best for all our chickens.

JOE THE PLUMBER: Sounds like socialism to me.


KARL ROVE: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here. (Also--the chicken might be a lesbian. Just sayin'.)

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road. No--no sir, the international intelligence community *assures* me that that's what it is.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of crossing?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it. It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it, until facts or political expediency demand otherwise.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white?

RUDI GIULIANI: Nine-Eleven!!!

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens . . . unless he just made up that story about crossing the road. In which case F*** that.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road. More on this situation as it develops.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmers Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

J.K. ROWLING: He was imperiused.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it "the other side." Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay, too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like the other side. That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

SOCRATES: I don't know this--I don't know anything!

DESCARTE: I cross therefore I am.

NIETZSCHE: The chicken is dead.

NEO: Woah.

RANDOM 9-YEAR-OLD GIRL: Mommy said not to talk to strangers.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: It's all relative: did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

OZZY: Because I was, like, bitin' heads off his mates, right? F***in' Prince of F***in' Darkness, I am.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world . . . crossin' roads in peace. Yoo-hoo, hoo-wu-woo . . .

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, balance your checkbook, and *not* email your financial information to Microsoft. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never crash.

STEVE JOBS: [snerk]

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Photos swiped from Yvonne's phone

I pulled these off while trying to get the Christmas list photos off (which I hope to finish up soon, just give me some time).

Elizabeth at some sort of function (I forgot to ask):

Elizabeth wearing her presents from Aunt Mary:

William looking rather handsome (like his dad of course):

More photos from the pumpkin farm:


The other day, after Elizabeth went to the bathroom, she was pulling up her pants and said "I wish we had one of those spray things like Miss Carolyn [ her baby sitter ] that makes it smell better."

This one is too good not to share:

Then we have one of those patented jokes from Elizabeth. It goes something like this:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Joke? Joke who?
Joke's going to make you laugh so hard your head falls off!

And finally, a little "autumnal" porn for Paulie.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There's a mouse in the house

There's a mouse in the house

The war is on between you and me
I have set traps that number three
I hope you die before I wake
I pray this for my sanity's sake

When I heard you skittering last night
You gave me a terrible terrible fright
For I don't like furry mice or creepy bugs
I'd rather get beaten by a gang of thugs

So this morning I baited you with peanut butter
In hopes it will be the last squeak you utter
Because when I hear that trap snap
I am going to jump and clap

I hope your death is quick and clean
Despite my hate for you, I'm not mean
I no fan of suffering while dying
Yet when you go I won't be crying

And since I'm not living in your house
You furry, creepy, little mouse
Please don't live in mine
Or you'll join the divine

Monday, October 27, 2008

How would your favorite fantasy character vote?

Thanks to the constant media attention on the next election, I clearly have politics on my brain. And thanks to Palin's scheduled visit to the area today and the most recent RNC radio ad about Obama taking my guns away, I've been forced to inject some humor into politics. Or at least try to have some fun.

Kvothe - Anarchist - This was a toss up between Anarchists (who don't appear to be on the ballot) and the Libertarians. In the end, I think Kvothe would prefer the anarchy as it would allow him to hide form those greater forces that may be looking for him.

Drizzt Do'Urden - Democrat - I know they say race isn't an issue, but seriously. You know people are going to vote for or against Obama because he's black. While I don't think Drizzt would do this, I do think it would give him some pause when decided who to vote for. In the end, I think he'll look for a more peaceful party that wants to end the war in Iraq.

Jig - Undecided - By far the easiest one in my list. Jig clearly is undecided until someone tells him who to vote for. He only cares about surviving the next adventure.

Simon Canderous - Democrat - Another easy one, mainly because he lives in New York City, a hive of scum, villainy, and Democrats. I also think Simon would get a bit more funding for his department with a Democrat in office, something he and his co-workers need.

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy - Republican - Because he's in the Navy, and was last seen fighting the Japanese armada in the Pacific Theatre of WWII, Reddy is going to vote for McCain. he may not be thrilled about having a skirt as Vice President, but she does have a pretty face.

Juniper Mackenzie - Green Party - As a Witch and survivor of the Change, she and her clan are clearly in the Green Party's hip pocket.

Looks like it'll be a close race.

*Profuse apologies to the creators of these fictional characters. If you see a flaw or would like to explain why your character is voting a certain way, feel free to let me know.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Make sure you celebrate tomorrow!

That's right ya'll, tomorrow is Livermush Day! What's livermush you ask? Start here:

And if you can still stomach it, read here. And of course, the article that started it all.

And for the record, not even a cute girl like this:

Could get me to eat this:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Great Pumpkin

No, not Charlie Brown. But Elizabeth, William, Yvonne, and I went hunting for a pumpkin last weekend. It was very cold and windy, but we stayed bundled up and had a great time. Unfortunately for me, I forgot to charge the camera battery. So, after three pictures, the rest were on the cell phone (and therefore, not that great).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Did Heroes Jump the Shark?

I've been a big Heroes fan since it started. I know a lot of people last season were loosing faith in the show but I hung around and enjoyed it. Granted, it wasn't as good as the first season, but I expected that. Think of all those great trilogy movies out there. The first and third movies are usually the better ones.

Anyway, I've grown disappointed in Heroes this season. I'm expecting a greater show, better plots, better acting and all I get is crap. Of last night's episode, the only part I truly enjoyed was Hiro, Ando, and the African painter. Seriously. That's it. Maybe a little of Daphne and Parkman. But just a little.

Nikki's twin sister? As boring as Nikki.
Nathan? I liked him better when he was dead.
Peter? Lost his power? Now I don't care about him.
Sylar? Growing a conscience? BORING!
Mama Petrelli? You mean she's not dead yet? Damn.
Mohinder? Give me a can of Raid and I'll take care of him.

Seriously, please, just get back to the writing of the first season. Put down all those X-Men comics you've been using for your research. You can do a better plot line, trust me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I am such a dork

Make that a Dork with a capital "D." Why? Because not only do I "get" the comic below, I actually know what a "null" is.


Monday, October 13, 2008

A Hyper Productive Weekend

And it all finished with Yvonne finding her earpiece this morning at school. Needless to say, she's been a basket case since Saturday afternoon.

Yesterday was full of household chores, mostly centered around "winterizing" things for the change in weather. So I cleaned, sharpened, and oiled all the outside tools. Got the snow shovel and window scraper out. And cut the grass. I also washed the mower, my car, and Yvonne's van. Prepped the weedeater, leaf blower, and lawn mower for winter. And painted a piece of scrap wood for Yvonne to mount her iron holder to in the laundry room. I would have mounted it yesterday, but the batteries for the cordless drill are totally shot, so it'll take me time to use them or scrounge for the corded power drill in the shed.

Yes, I'm working my way backwards to Saturday. We did the usual grocery shopping and errand running. Yvonne's phone has been acting up, so she should be getting a new battery in the mail soon. And now that she's found her headset, she'll be able to drop that off to get fixed.

And yes, I've finally arrived at the highlight of my weekend. The local 5k race I ran Saturday morning. As you saw earlier, I did a great job at not only beating my primary goal (finishing it), but also my secondary goal (finishing in under 45 minutes). In fact, I crushed my secondary goal with a time of 35 minutes, 20 seconds. A full 4 minutes faster than what I ran it in last weekend.

Elizabeth and Yvonne walked (and ran some) the race in an hour and 5 minutes. Not to shabby for a four year old. Everyone was pooped and hungry for doughnuts, but I wanted to stick around to see where I placed in the race. Specifically in my age group (30 to 39). Which meant I had to wait until they finished calling out the top three finishers in each group. Which meant I got my answer faster than expected.

I got second place. Not too bad for a fat guy.

So there, Paulie, Kelly, Stone, and Melissa. There's your motivation that you can set a goal and accomplish it.

And my loving wife? She was very proud. Then she proceeded to tell me to "buckle down" so I win a cash prize at another race. Such love.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

King George Fall Festival 5k Run

My time was 35 minutes and 20 seconds. We all had a great time but the end of the event was even better!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


*Caution: If you squirm at the intricacies of exercise, running, or the blathering of an old man, you might as well skip this post.

I've finally decided to "officially" let the cat out of the bag. What's the big news? I'm running in a race Saturday. I know, boring stuff, but it's big for me. So sit back, while I regale you with my sad story.

In high school I ran cross country and track. In track my even was the 400. I have no idea why I chose to run that race other than I thought I could sprint. I couldn't. Cross country was much easier for me once I got into shape. It didn't take long to do that as I was young and thin. I topped out around 160 to 180 pounds and maybe 5'10" to 6'0".

I had long legs and a long stride but I wasn't the fastest on the team. And that didn't bother me. There were taller kids and shorter kids and even girls that were faster than me. But I wasn't the slowest, so I was fine with that.

Anyway, our coach (who ran and looked like a dwarf - as in the fantasy kind, not the little people kind) had a good routine for our training, stretching, etc. Part of that still sticks with me to this day. The memory, not the practice.

Fast forward 14 years. I haven't run on a regular basis since high school. I'm now 32, married, and the father of two. And while my height hasn't changed much (still 6'0"), my waist has grown considerably as I now weigh in around 230. I know that's big, and I want to get smaller. But I also know that it could be worse. A good friend lives in pain from his weight and I don't know how he does it. I think I'd become overly depressed and eat more. Instead, he's working out.

So taking some inspiration from him (and a few others), I finally realized I had hit the bottom of my barrel. I was tired of being tubby and wanted to move closer toward chubby (yes, there's a difference in my mind). So in searching around the various interwebz, I discovered there was a 5k (that's 3.1 miles) race this weekend (the same distance we'd run in cross country).

So for the past month and a half, I've been training. Yes, training. My goal? Several. First, to finish this race. Second, if I finish it, I want to finish it in less than 45 minutes. The long-term/overall goal, was to generally increase my level of fitness and hopefully drop some weight. Nothing specific, but if I have to buy a new wardrobe because my pants are too large, then I'll be super-happy.

My training has also been aided by the motivation that I'm paying for it. We recently got a YMCA in the county, so it takes me all of a few minutes to drive there and back. With doing you-know-what at home now, I have the time to workout, shower, and get back home with time to spare.

Now, for the motivational part for those looking to start a workout regime. So, how have I done in my training so far? In late August, I could barely run a few laps around my yard. Since then, I've been able to run for a mile in under 10 minutes. And most important to me, I ran the old cross country course this past weekend. My time? 39 minutes.

Not too bad considering my age, weight, and overall fitness level. I'll bore you all next week with how the race goes.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The bestest birthday ever

Well, maybe not, but still it's been pretty good so far. We saw yesterday what came in the mail. Today, I was greeted by a cheerful four-year old with a card and present. My present? A letter opener.

Yes, that's right, I wanted a letter opener. I've been opening letters with my finger on the short side of the envelope for long enough, I tell ya, long enough. Now I can use my handy-dandy, metal (pointy but dull) letter opener. No fancy engraving. No fancy tassels. Just a letter opener.

My card? Well, I'll let everyone enjoy (and add some explanations from the "artist").

That's a snowman Daddy.

The arrows tell you where to read. I used my stencils to draw the heart and I wrote my name all by myself. [when I asked her about the thing in the upper right corner, she replied] That's your birthday cake.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's like Christmas

Or my birthday.

A few days back, I got my first freebie in the mail. Two actually. One was for free cat litter (I know we don't have a cat, but it will be good for oil spills in the shed) and the other was for some popcorn rice-cake like snack (which was okay).

Then yesterday my mom sent me three books (all for my birthday). One was on my list, the other two were suggested reading from her.

And then today, the UPS guy sent a cooler full of hamburgers! They're for the whole family, but hey, I'm still gonna eat some!

Wonder what tomorrow will bring?