Sunday, December 30, 2007

A semi-whirlwind

So, there haven't been any updates on the reno's because there hasn't been any work. There was one small problem. I asked our contractor, before he started, to seal the room. He didn't. So I asked him again. And again.

Now, in his defense, he didn't catch on that we were actually pulling down the ceiling when he took the job, so when I said seal the room, he might have wondered why I was talking about the animal that hunts fish.

Anyway, after asking him four times, the room is finally sealed. We don't need to go into it, and they can enter through a door. It was to be the perfect reno. Alas, twas not to be.

The time has been tough. When he decided to start 2 weeks late, we contemplated putting it off, but we went forward anyway. What the hell we thought? How bad will having only half a house be?

Having only half a house (well, less actually) has been an adjustment.

Right now, our 'family room' is the little guest room upstairs. It has the tube, and the computer. It has a bed, turned sideways to pretend that it's a couch. It's a bed. And we're not hanging out in the family room. I've been calling it the 'en suite'. But really, it's a bedroom. And it's been going on for two weeks since we lived in it.

Now, we're not looking for people to feel sorry for us. We have a fairly big house, with lots of room. That we even have a room is a sort of bonus. With another child looming, our en suite will soon become Autumn's suite.

Anyway, we're looking for some serious activity this week. But then again, the ways things have gone so far, he might not think he ha to come to work in '08.

Happy New Year.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

15 billion a month


Take a look at that number. That's how much a Senator thinks the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ('member that one?) is costing. The senator in this clip is a Republican from Alaska. When a Republican speaks like this, you know the excrement has hit the fan.

Remember those quant days when guys like Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz said that Iraqi oil would all but pay for the war?

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Christmas part 1

So, there haven't been any updates on the reno's because there hasn't been any work. We knew that, and went along with it anyway.

On Christmas:

When I was little, we used to go to a pub called Bramalea Place on Christmas Eve. The pub is a traditional place to go in English culture. There's singing, dancing, and even better, a Santa Claus for the kids. Pubs are great places to find the perfect beer-bellied guy to be Santa.

Bramalea Place has long since closed, but my dad's new pub is our new meeting place. It has all the good beers on tap, and it draws lots of friends of my parents. It also has it's own version of a Santa.

Autumn wasn't sure of Santa in any way. But, she went up. She got a couple of toys. We had a nice time. Autumn ran around with her sippy cup looking to have a cheers with anyone who was interested.

Then we moved to Aunt Tracey and Uncle John's for the annual carol singing. That will come in the next post.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Day 4 -- nothing to report

, originally uploaded by hockeygrl93.

Meg took this. If you click on the shot, you can see more of our house. Thanks Meg for coming over.

With Rhona back, we're now doing good cop bad cop. She's the good cop. I'm the, really-you-didn't-understand-the-assignment bad cop. As a team, i think we'll get through this. But I'm not making any promises.

The house is dustier than I hoped it would be. But things are moving. And that's good. We'll see what other barriers get thrown our way.

I'm an optimistic guy, but something's coming.

Our ceiling

After roof is torn down, before anything else is done.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


A long time ago, I had surgery. My roommate in the hospital was Mike Ford of the band Moxy Fruvous. You might have never heard of them. They sang some really fun songs along side some really powerful tunes.

This is a song they sang in 1992 about the first gulf war. It's updated for this one.

They also sang a hilarious song called Green Eggs and Ham. Autumn would love it. i would love to find it.

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Reno's day 3

There is nothing to report. Honest. Rhona and Autumn are back home, so Rhona can sort of be there and handle all the issues that might pop up. We're getting the lights placed.

It's going to be a long slog. We'll keep you posted.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The reno day 2 – twilight zone

You have a dropped ceiling in your living room. Meaning, there is almost two feet of space between the drop ceiling and the real one. You think people did it save on heat, but it’s a worthy trade off to make your living room perfect.

So, you decide to hire a contractor. You get a couple of quotes, then go with the one who seems to be the most together.

You hire him. He starts a little late, but you can live with that. Then, on day two he calls with a problem. The problem, he says, is that they did a shoddy job framing the drop ceiling. You agree. To replace the dropped ceiling, he says, I’ll need to frame it better.

You look for a camera.

Did he just say that to replace the drop ceiling you hired him to remove, he would have to frame it better?

After three meetings, meetings in which you and your wife talked about how your furniture would look in a bigger room – how your fireplace would look when it didn’t dwarf the wall – how you couldn’t wait to have an extra almost two feet room, in your room, he didn’t realize you wanted two more feet of room in your room.

Did that just happen, you wonder?

You calmly tell your contractor that you want the ceiling removed, not replaced. You want him to get rid of the framing of the drop ceiling, and put a ceiling on the ceiling, where it should go. You say this as clearly as possible, half expecting a candid cameraman at any point.

After you think you’ve cleared things up with your contractor, you call your wife to ask her if you’re nuts. She tells you you’re not, which is a relief.

But still. You can’t help but wonder what your room is going to look like. It dawns on your that you hired someone to do a job and that he didn’t know you hired him to do. And you have a contract, which is fairly vague.

You think you’re being had. But maybe you’re just in the mist of the single largest misunderstanding in the history of contracting. And things will work on. In the meantime, your dropped ceiling is gone. Your room looks big, but really messy. You see the potential now in the room. You’re geeked, but still looking for candid cameras.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reno: more than a city in Nevada

The reno's day 1.

You can't say it starts well. When we decided to do the room, we sort of had a number in our heads. When we got quotes, all the people came in under. We picked a guy, then we began adding stuff.

But it was sort of off the cuff adding stuff. Lets add this. Oh, and this. All the while, we hadn't gotten a new price.

until the morning of the first day. We added enough to add about 80% to the bill. We're good at adding. Thus, something that was going to cost X (where x is a lot) now almost costs 2 * X.

We're good. Anyway, day one went smoothly after that. There's a huge hole in the ceiling, and where there was once a wall, there's a hole. Lucy and Romeo are acting clearly weird, but that's to be expected. Lucy's post is on the couch in the living room, barking at anything that moves in front of our house. She can't do that now.

We'll keep you posted on day 2. That's today.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Year in review part 2

This is part 2 of the year-in-review. Here's part one.

It’s good to be a walker in the summer. Because mom, Lucy and Autumn take long walks around the city in July. They walk to Delaware park and hit every playground in a five mile radius. They walk the streets and mom takes a good deal of photographs. Autumn gets a sandbox, and the little courtyard at our house becomes our little playroom. Mom and Autumn are really bonding, and she’s really clingy. At the first moment of fear, panic, or pain, she runs to whoever is closest for a hug. It’s truly awesome.

Milestone: Autumn eats a blueberry. Every other food takes second place to her new fav.

August is hot. Not only that, we’re realizing that Autumn doesn’t sleep through the night. More times than not, she’s up at somewhere between 2:00 and 3:30 AM. We contemplate the whole ‘cry it out’ thing. She wins every time. On paper, the ‘cry out’ method seems so simple. She’s go to sleep, and from there, we will get to fall asleep. In practice though, it’s horrible. She coughs and sputters, and cries and wails in such pain that we cave and give her what she needs/want. We’re getting better. We go camping for the first time. Mom gets a new camera and takes a ton of great pictures.

Milestone: Autumn says ‘ball’ and means it.

By September, Autumn is running around everywhere. Our child-proofing on the go strategy leads to a couple of minor mishaps, but for the most part, she contained. We can take her out for dinner, but there’s a risk. Case in point, a night out at our local pizza joint, Casa Di Pizza. After furiously eating some pasta, she takes a good long look at us, and vomits all over the place. Mom grabs her and contains most of the vomit on her sweater while dad collects dinner suddenly to-go. Ten minutes after throwing it all up, Autumn is back to her happy little self. Rhona and I spend a wonderful weekend in Cleveland for our five-year wedding anniversary. We have a fantastic and grown-up weekend with dinners outside on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Milestone: Rhona and Matt celebrate 5 years of marriage.

In October, we learn that we’re pregnant, due date May 31st . October, however starts with Rhona feeling incredible cramps and pain in her belly. After a day of doctor and specialist visits, Rhona is admitted to the hospital for observation. No one can figure out the reason for the pain, and the tests they can perform are limited because of her pregnancy. They rule a lot out, but the waiting and the stress is enough to send us all over the deep end. Not knowing is the hardest part. Having Rhona in the hospital, even overnight, had me thinking about life without her. It’s something we can’t have. We need mom more than ever. She was released, and to date, doesn’t feel the same pain as she did early in the month. October ends much better with Autumn trick-or-treating as a cow.

Milestone: She says MOO when you ask her what a cow says, unless of course she is wearing a cow costume.

November sees the pregnancy progress more smoothly. Mom can’t rest as often as she’d like thanks to our little peanut. But mom is doing a wonderful job making it all happen. This is the month she takes her final comprehensive exam for her masters, and passes. It’s official: mom simply has to complete her thesis and will officially have a Masters degree in Student Personnel Administration. We’re incredibly proud of the work, time and effort mom put into earning this degree (six years of part time schooling). We celebrate with a big turkey dinner on her birthday (which is also Thanksgiving).

Milestone: Rhona passes her exam.

Rhona finishes her thesis and officially completes all requirements for her Masters degree. December sees us mom and dad giving each other our one big Christmas present. We are getting our front room in our house renovated. It’s called the living room, and it is in fact the room we live in. Meaning, when the renovations start today! We’ll be confined to the other rooms in our house – except for the dining room, which contains all of the living room furniture. Chaotic yes, exciting definitely!

Milestone: We write this year in review.

We have been looking for the perfect house. Not being the right time to find it, we are taking steps to make this one OUR perfect house. It’s a house filled with laughter, dancing, hugs and kisses. Autumn makes the days seem, at the same time both hard and long. But they are also rewarding, exciting and fulfilling. There is no doubt in our minds that staying home with Autumn was the right decision for us.

Have a happy holiday. And if you ever want to follow the action on a more day-to-day basis, contact us. We’ll show you how.

Happy Holidays!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Shovel not-ready

So, this morning I shoveled. Then, stupidly, I left the shovel on the front porch. It was kind of a crappy shovel, but it got rid of the snow. Anyway, we took off for the day, and when I got home, we were shovel-less.

Someone took it.

Now, on the face of it, that's alright. But here's the rub. Someone went into our courtyard, and took my back-up shovel. So we have no shovel.

So, I took off to Home Depot looking for a shovel. They were closed. Went to Wegmans, they were sold out. So, I have no shovel.

Did I mention that there's two feet of snow?

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

The year in review, part 1.

January began a new chapter in our lives. For January was when Rhona went back to work and left Autumn in daycare for the first time. Leaving your 7 month-old day with what amounts to strangers is one of the most difficult things to do. However, Autumn loved it. And we really do feel really comfortable with the people we leave her with.

Still, she’s very little. Looking at her, in that room, and walking away is a hard, hard thing to do. But it’s at daycare where she tries different foods. Plays with other kids and learns to be social and sharing. She loves daycare, and we have learned to love it too.

Milestone: first flu shot and reaction.

February saw a right of passage, we think. Early in February, a much more active Autumn managed to kick her crib in such a way, that she partially broke it and managed to fall out. It’s hard to explain, but suffice it to say, when I heard her wail, I knew something was up and ran in to see an empty crib, but still heard her crying. Not only had she fallen out of the crib, she’d rolled under the crib. Looking back, it’s a remarkable set of circumstances that came together to make this happen.

Milestone: She stood up for the first time.

March saw a couple of prolonged sick days for Autumn. She had pink eye. And she was home from daycare almost every week. We actually had to call in the newly retired Granddad Hames to come and stay. It meant two things: Granddad had to change a poopy diaper for the first time in over 30 years. But more importantly, it meant the forming of a bond between Autumn and her Granddad. We are lucky to have parents who help us out on both sides. Grandma and Grandpa Cadenhead help us out a lot looking after Autumn. And Nanny and Granddad Hames come over and stay to give us overnights. But when Autumn got sick in March, we needed a prolonged overnight. Enter Granddad Hames and Grandma Cadenhead. They worked together to soothe Autumn, give her fluids, and help her get her strength back. Seeing your parents with your child is one of the great moments of life.

Milestone: she walked with a walker.

In our household, April was almost entirely about the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and their playoff run. We actually got cable television just to watch the games. Rhona and I had moments where we would jump for joy, hugging and dancing around the table. We got Autumn into a nice bedtime routine that still is essentially the same. A bottle, a bath, and a bunch of stories (I think I know Green eggs and ham off by heart). She became much more mobile.

Milestone: Responds to ‘What’s in your mouth?’ by sticking out her tongue.

May is the last month that we were a two-income family. Mom decides to leave her job to spend more time at home with Autumn (and work to finish her Masters degree). For the month, mom continues to work, but we know the end is near. You can see Autumn really starting to walk without the aid of the walker. We take lots of video of her movements. This month, we’re completely invested in the Sabres (hockey team) playoff run, which comes to a dramatic and painful end. Even Autumn gets into it, staying up a little late to watch the first period of the games. A little girl is really starting to emerge.

Milestone: Autumn stands without the aid of a walker.

Before she turns one-year old later in June, she’s officially a walker. And a climber. She climbs the stairs entirely on her own (and learns how to get back down them). The smile on her face when she walks to us is priceless. This is when she really begins bonding with Lucy, our dog. Lucy is crazy. However, when Autumn comes to hug her, pull her tail, pull her ears, she doesn’t do a thing. Lucy sits beside Autumn at dinner, hoping Autumn will share. And Autumn shares. We’re lucky that Lucy is calm around Autumn. They are truly best friends.

Milestone: Autumn turns One.

Stay tuned for part 2. Coming to this blog soon!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Autumn got elfed

My mom, Autumn's nanny, elfed autumn. Look:

Go ahead, elf someone.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mood Foods

In a crappy mood? Men's Health magazine tells us, it's what we eat.
Your brain depends on a variety of nutrients to keep itself balanced. Cheetos and beer are not on the list.
Really now? Greasy food doesn't make me happy? (Hint: ever think maybe the idea of 'comfort foods' came from a 50's copywriter dude who meant well?)

Anyhow, they offer a list of moods, and then the snack that's good for the mood. Here's one from the list:

Your Mood:
You've forgotten your last two deadlines.

Your Meal:
Pineapple chunks for a snack or a cup of berries in your oatmeal

Here's Why:
Antioxidants from the most-colorful fruits and vegetables help pick off the free radicals that wear away at your memory. "Because your brain consumes so much oxygen, oxidants do heavy damage there," says Somer.

It goes on to offer snacks for when you're restless, insecure, depressed, anxious and stressed, among others.

I love the word flummoxed. So don't be flummoxed. Start with not missing any deadlines, and eat berries with your oats. Or the right snack.

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What to do when you renovate

We're renovating our living room.

Look at those two words: living, room. It's not only the largest room in our house (more than twice as large as the next biggest), it's truly the room we live in. It'e the room with the TV, the computer, and Autumn's toys.

We're getting it turned into the room we've always wanted. Which is exciting, though daunting, since we can't use it while it's getting remodeled. That said, i thought I would put together the top ten things to think about when renovating your living room:

10. Next time, get it done in the summer. I'm just saying.
9. Bake cookies. lots of them. Or bake a cook. Or cook. You'll be spending a lot more time in the kitchen listening to talk radio, so you might as well cook something good.
8. Hang out in bed. Admittedly, this is wishful thinking. Autumn might be willing to spend about 10 seconds in bed. After that, you're done.
7. Walk. (see #1).
6. Go to a friend's house. True, we have Autumn, so it's bit more than just getting in and hanging out. However, if you read this and you're within a drive, there's a chance you might find us on your doorstep.
5. Cruise around Buffalo in the car. A. This gets Autumn to sleep (see #8).
4. Beg and plead for contractor guy to go faster.
3. Get outta dodge. Head to Canada, drop off Autumn and Lucy at happy grandparent's and go out to dinner in Toront0.
2. Repeat #3.
1. I think you get the message.

Update: our contractor was suppose to start tomorrow. The room we live in, AKA the living room, is empty of furniture.

Only now, he isn't starting until next Monday. ARRRGGHH. Deep breaths are required. And perhaps beer.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

China in numbers

We recycle. We compost. We try, as much as possible to limit our carbon footprint in as many ways as we can. Then you see this and wonder, what will the world look like in 20 years? Here are some highlights of the article. China is:
  • The world's largest consumer of coal, grain, fertilizer, cell phones, refrigerators, and televisions
  • The leading importer of iron ore, steel, copper, tin, zinc, aluminum, and nickel
  • The top producer of coal, steel, cement, and 10 kinds of metal
  • The No. 1 importer of illegally logged wood
  • The third-largest producer of cars after Japan and the United States; by 2015, it could be the world's largest car producer. By 2020, there could be 130 million cars on its roads, compared to 33 million now.
It gets worse:
  • China produces half of the world's cameras, 1/3 of its television sets, and 1/3 of all the planet's garbage.
  • There are towns in China that make 60% of the world's button supply, 1/2 of all silk neckties, and 1/2 of all fireworks.
  • China uses half of the world's steel and concrete and will probably construct half of the world's new buildings over the next decade.
  • Some Chinese factories can fit as many as 200,000 workers.
  • China used 2.5 billion tons of coal in 2006, more than the next three highest-consuming nations—Russia, India, and the United States—combined.
  • It has more than 2,000 coal-fired power plants and puts a new one into operation every 4 to 7 days.
  • Between 2003 and 2006, worldwide coal consumption increased as much as it did in the 23 years before that. China was responsible for 90% of the increase.
  • China became the world's top carbon dioxide emitter in 2006, overtaking the United States.
  • Russia is China's largest timber supplier; half of all logging there is illegal. In Indonesia, another timber supplier to China, up to 80% of all logging takes place illegally.
  • 90% of all wood products made in China are consumed in the country, including 45 billion pairs of wooden chopsticks each year.
  • The value of China's timber-product exports exceeds $17 billion. About 40 percent go to the United States.
  • More than 3/4 of China's forests have disappeared; 1/4 of the country's land mass is now desert.
  • Until recently, China was losing a Rhode Island-sized parcel of land to desertification each year.
  • 80% of the Himalayan glaciers that feed Chinese rivers could melt by 2035.
  • In 2005, China's sulfur-dioxide emissions were nearly twice those of the United States.
  • Acid rain caused by air pollution now affects 1/3 of China's land.
  • Each year, at least 400,000 Chinese die prematurely of air-pollution-linked respiratory illnesses or diseases.
  • A quarter of a million people die because of motor-vehicle traffic each year—6 times as many as in the United States, even though Americans have 18 times as many cars.
  • Of the world's 20 most polluted cities, 16 are in China.
  • Half of China's population—600 to 700 million people—drinks water contaminated with human and animal waste. A billion tons of untreated sewage is dumped into the Yangtze each year.
  • 4/5 of China's rivers are too polluted to support fish.
  • The Mi Yun reservoir, Beijing's last remaining reliable source of drinking water, has dropped more than 50 feet since 1993.
  • Overuse of groundwater has caused land subsidence that cost Shanghai alone $12.9 billion in economic losses.
  • Dust storms used to occur once a year. Now, they happen at least 20 times a year.
  • Chinese dust storms can cause haziness and boost particulate matter in the United States, all the way over to Maine.
  • In 2001, a huge Chinese storm dumped 50,000 metric tons of dust on the United States. That's 2.5 times as much as what U.S. sources produce in a typical day.
  • Currently, up to 36 percent of man-made mercury emissions settling on America originated in Asia.
  • Particulate matter from Asia accounts for nearly half of California's annual pollution limit.
  • Environmental damage reportedly costs China 10 percent of its GDP. Pollution-related death and disability heath care costs alone are estimated at up to 4 percent of GDP.
  • In 2005, there were 50,000 pollution-related disputes and protests in China.
  • China's middle class is expected to jump from 100 million people today to 700 million people by 2020.
Crikey. The only way to stop it is to stop buying from it. See also: You are what you eat. And China and the environment.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

An Eaters Manifesto

I'm a foodie. I like good food. The Turkey we had a Thanksgiving costs 10 times more than Turkey's in the supermarket. It was a no antibiotics, cage-free, hormone free bird.

Stop and think about that. In order to tell you what our Turkey was, i have to tell you what it wasn't. Organic describes food that isn't sprayed with chemicals. Grass fed beef describes food in which the cow ate what it would naturally eat.

Even the word natural has meanings we don't fully understand. Calling a blueberry natural doesn't make sense.

Michael Pollan got me thinking about this. He has a new book coming out called: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.

Here's the book's description:
Because most of what we're consuming today is not food, and how we're consuming it -- in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone -- is not really eating. Instead of food, we're consuming "edible foodlike substances" -- no longer the products of nature but of food science. Many of them come packaged with health claims that should be our first clue they are anything but healthy. In the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become.

But if real food -- the sort of food our great grandmothers would recognize as food -- stands in need of defense, from whom does it need defending? From the food industry on one side and nutritional science on the other. Both stand to gain much from widespread confusion about what to eat, a question that for most of human history people have been able to answer without expert help. Yet the professionalization of eating has failed to make Americans healthier. Thirty years of official nutritional advice has only made us sicker and fatter while ruining countless numbers of meals.
I love food. And I like the idea of getting tomatoes in December. But I'll admit something: a tomato in December is no match for a tomato off the vine in September. Taste that September tomato, and it immediately vaults into your top five all-time tomato (assuming you, like me, keep a running top-five of most moments).

I'm not suggesting we all change overnight. I'm suggesting we think about our food. It's true, we are what we eat. And if what we eat is completely processed, then we're all completely processed. And that makes no sense.

Think about your food. Start maybe with this book. Not because it will change your behavior, that's tough. Right now, we go to Wegman's. We also go to our little coop (that sources a little more locally), and a local produce place that also sources a little more locally.

We're making an eat local effort. And that is healthy, and normal. It's not really normal to get Asparagus from Peru in December.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

TSN Skins game update

I'm still at the skins game. If you're interested in what I have to say, check out the Curling News Blog.

I especially like this one.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

At the skins game

Here I am. At the TSN Skins game. The first curling game ever in hi-definition TV. It should be an awesome event. I plan to take a lot of pictures. Here's one I didn't take.

The preview was just on the Screen here. It gave me the chills. I'll try to put into words how cool this is. But it will be hard.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

TSN Skins game

This weekend, TSN will unveil the Skins game again. It will be in High Definition TV. Pretty cool.

When you’re watching the TSN Skins game, you’ll be watching an ongoing debate unfold.

A few years ago, Kevin Martin famously gave up a steal on purpose to Jeff Stouhgton in order to get last rock in the last end of a Skins Game. He sent a very clear message that he wanted last rock.

That was the three rock rule.

This is the first skins game with the four rock rule. Four of the best teams in the world will help us answer this question: Would you rather be up one coming home without, or down one coming home with last rock?

Because the skins game is really just the last end played over and over. If you have the hammer, you need two. If you don’t, you need a steal. Essentially the situation in the last end of a one-point game.

There’s talk that the odds favor the team up one with. In a non-Skins game, the team up one without last rock throws it top four foot. If the team that needs two wants to generate offense, they need to throw a guard. In doing so, they leave the team that went first with a free guard on the possible steal point.

I know. It’s all so technical. But I can’t wait to see how the team without the hammer plays the end. I suspect they’ll just throw a center guard and get with it. But they have some options. And in thinking about the options, they’ll let us know if they like the hammer, or if they don’t.

See you there. And I mean that even if you’re watching on High Def TV.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Autumn and the country's of the world

This has become one of Autumn's favorite videos online. I remember about two years ago, seeing it and making it a favorite. I remember thinking that one day, she might love it. The day is here.

And YouTube offers us a bunch of chances to show her old Animaniacs videos.

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Curling in High Defition

This weekend, the TSN Skins game comes back to life. And it will be shown in High Definition TV. As a member of the press, I'll be sure to ask the guys if they shaved a little closer of this event. John Morris likes to sport the "needs a shave" look. Wonder if High Def will cure that?

Anyway, I'll also be blogging at The Curling News blog. Take a look this weekend.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The secret to raising smart kids

There's an article in Scientific American that claims to know the secret to raising smart kids. This sounds more like a theory than a secret, but it makes sense. Here is the key concept:
"Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn."
Thus, telling a child they are 'smart' or 'gifted' will have them come to believe that things will come to them without working for them. Instead, the study says, focus on the effort.

In real terms, this means don't say the following when your kid gets an A.

"Wow, you're a really gifted smart kid. Way to go."

By saying this, you reinforce the notion that results come easy. It's possible (though not guaranteed) that your child will begin to think that things are easy because they are so smart.

Instead, when your kid gets an A, say this:

"Wow, you really worked hard for that A. You have worked hard to become smart."

The A was a result of hard work, and not a result of being gifted. Fact is, we get stuff in life through hard work, not simply by coasting by. The study goes on to say:
"Teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life. Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine.
There will be times when we'll tell Autumn that she's smart and gifted. That's life. but I think I'll remember this post, and be sure to add that it was through her hard work that she became smart and gifted. To me, that makes perfect sense.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

I made Autumn cry

It happened yesterday.

She was, at that moment, pulling on her mom's hair and laughing. The thing is, we don't want her pulling on her mom's hair. We don't want her pulling in the cat's tail, or the dog's ears either. And i can assure you that the aforementioned mom and pets don't want autumn pulling on the aforementioned things.

So, mustering up the a relatively stern voice, I looked her straight in the eye with a look that meant business, and told her no.

She stopped. Looked at me looking at her all stern-like, and began crying. She turned to her mom, the same mom whose hair she was just pulling, and demanded a hug.

I felt like a big meany. I really did. And for the rest of the day, I was thinking about the look on her face when she noticed that I meant business.

There are gonna be times when she'll do stuff and I'll tell her no, and she'll cry. Like one day, when she's six, she might ask to join the circus. I'll tell her no, she'll think I'm a meany and hate me for a bit. Oh, she'll like me again, assuming I'm fair. Just like yesterday, about 10 seconds after crying, she liked me again. But I thought I should note it.

The first time I made her cry. Add it to the list.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snow day

We had a busy day today. We went outside in the snow; after getting on about 20 layers.

Then, Autumn went on the sled and I pulled her around. You can't tell from this shot (or any), but she was laughing hysterically the whole time. It was fun.

Winter in Buffalo, NY is nice. We get snow, then it gets warm again. And while we really get Autumn under some layers, she's never really in danger of being cold. Yes, things will get cold in a few months, but that's okay. The early snowfall on a weekend makes for a great day of playing in the snow.

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