Monday, March 31, 2008

the two little girls

Some close-ups, taking in our new living room, with the sun beating in. Taken Yesterday.

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Matt Taibbi on you and I

Matt Taibbi started the Buffalo beast and then bolted from Buffalo. Too bad. But we can still read his articles, and still think for a few minutes, we had him all to ourselves.

Check this out. This is the American electorate, Generation Squeeb.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On the eve of another war

This is all about Politics. But it's important. And it's about Autumn, so I'm throwing in pictures of her.

For a number of reasons, I happen to think the US will engage in a conflict with Iran this year. And as 5 years of this war in iraq passes, with the 'troop and treasure' losses more staggering than is imaginable, we find ourselves in a most frustrating place.

Namely: The American people seem to overwhelmingly want the War in Iraq to end. Whereas, the Bush Administration seems bent on escalating the war to include Iran.

It's a baffling situation. But I guess this is the thing: if it's true Americans don't want war in Iraq (and some of them didn't want war in Afghanistan), then surely they mustn't want War in Iran.

But alas, the problem is, when the US went to war in Iraq, it appeared the majority of Americans wanted it. I remember sitting on a couch talking to someone I would call a pacifist poet, listening to her tell me what a monster Saddam Hussein was.

The thing is, he was a monster. And I was arguing to let him stay in power. So I found myself in the impossible position of explaining that even though he was a monster, it was not reason to justify war. It was a position that seemed perilously close to defending him.

It wasn't. It was a position that says there are monsters all over the world (including perhaps, in Iran). But the important question is this: is it America's responsibility to cleanse the world of monsters?

And another question emerged: was attention was being paid to this monster because of oil and anger? The administration cared about oil -- that isn't a conspiracy theory. When they invaded, they shored up the oil fields and left the Museums and Hospitals open and subject to looting.

The anger was from the American people. The events of 911 were still fresh in their minds. Thus, you get this, a well thought out response, five years after, to people who switched.
"People who supported the invasion of Iraq were fatuous, bloodthirsty, ahistorical, immoral, politically naive, callous, unthinking, reprehensible morons--to the man. The proper attitude is contrition, silence, and contemplation. Making a gaudy spectacle of having "supported" something so awful, even if only to show how smart you were to change your mind when you noticed things going south, is disgusting."
So here we are. Five years into a war we don't want. Six years into a war that we have forgotten. And possibly on the eve of another war.

And the question is, what to do? Will Autumn's life really be one lived in a perpetual war that she will spend her life paying for?

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Poopy on the potty

We really tried to underplay Autumn's first poopy on the potty. We knew not to get our hopes up.

Since that day back in the beginning of February, she's gone pee-pee on the potty a lot. And she even points to her little bum and says "poopy potty." But we've never had a follow-up poopy.

Well, this morning she went. A nice clean log on her potty. I was in bed because the bridge was closed for about half an hour last night and I was just sitting on it waiting to get back home from curling. So I'm tired.

But I heard mom yelling poopy! And then I was witness to a site that in my wild dreams, I would never see.

I jumped out of bed, and go to the door in time to see Autumn running down the hall with her potty in her hands, adorned with the aforementioned piece of poop, screaming 'daddy, poopy.' and holding it up for me to see.


I looked at her poopy (she clearly wanted me to), congratulated her on it (good poopy peanut) and then helped her flush it. As the toilet flushed, she waved and said "bye-bye poopy."

I gotta be honest. I love this poopy thing. Her going on the potty is guaranteed entertainment.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Food photography

One place I worked at in Toronto there was a food photographer in the building. I learned a little bit about food photography in talking to him. He told me that you don't use real food in food photography. indeed. Here's a site from Germany that put together the package and the real thing.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Uh oh

I haven't talked a lot about politics lately. Like the Main Stream Press, the war in Iraq has gone off the front pages. what has also gone off the front pages is the possible strike on Iran.

With nukes.

This month has been bad for those who hope beyond hope that President Bush will not invade, attack, or otherwise bomb Iran before he gets out of office.

First, the guy who was most against war with Iran 'retired'. Adm. William Fallon, the commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the Middle East, has decided to retire early. He had gone on the record as saying there would be no war with Iran on his watch. In his retirement announcement he said:
"Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the President's policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time and hamper efforts in the CENTCOM region,"
Uh oh.

Next, a Saudi newspaper reports that Saudi Arabia is preparing for nuclear fall out. Saudi Arabia is very close to Iran in terms of geography. And since the papers are government controlled, this is most likely a tactic of some sort. It didn't get picked up by the mainstream press here. Oh, and the Saudi preparation came after the Vepp paid them a visit.

Double uh oh.

And finally this:
"Gen David Petraeus told the BBC he thought Tehran had trained, equipped and funded insurgents who fired the barrage of mortars and rockets."
To recap: The guy in the army who said we wouldn't bomb Iran on his watch has left the building. Saudi Arabia is preparing for nuclear fall-out. The guy leading the troops in Iraq has just blamed Iran for an attack in Iraq.

That's the kind of stuff that gets one thinking the USA is about to nuke another country. Crikey, we're buggered.

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Monday, March 24, 2008


She's not yet two years old, so we weren't sure what this whole easter egg thing would turn out to be. However, I 'hid' some eggs for her and brought her downstairs to hunt. She understands more than I think she does, but it's still suprising to say to her, find an egg, and watch her begin the search.

She found the first couple easily. They were just little plastic eggs with things in them. Mom had placed some peeps ("Birdies" Autumn yelled), some cookies, and some chocolate in the eggs. when she found the ones with cookies, she screamed cookies!

Then Gramma and Grampa came over, and we had a nice feast. Autumn played with her grandparents, and then hammed it up for them. She's awesome when we have visitors.

Hope you had as happy an easter as we did.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An unexpected night of sleep

I had asked Autumn to sleep through the night for my birthday. And it occurs to me now that I should have been specific, but I'm not complaining.

See, she slept through the night last night. When she started the sleep, it was my birthday, so I get where she's coming from and thank her profusely.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Buying Organic

Ever wonder what big conglomerate owns your organic food brand?

Take a look. And consider buying local.

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on sleeping

This is the thing: Autumn is no longer sleeping like a champion. In fact, if sleeping was an Olympic event, I doubt she would even qualify for the Olympics.

Last night I really wanted Autumn to sleep through the night. She didn't. And it's hard to know what to do. See, back to the analogy above -- if the Oluympics are staged in our bed, she would be a medalist. She sleeps like a friggin champion in our bed.

But really. We can't keep that up. Even though there's lots of room, we can't have her in our bed every night. It's not a sustainable solution.

So, we try to let her cry it out. Let her solve it herself. And when she doesn't, we bring her into our room. She's exhausted, we're exhausted, and we all crash.

Sleep. You would think it's easier.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

The bad ice at the Brier

The final of the brier was played on bad ice. Bad can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but it was soft, and picky. But more than that, it was inconsistent to the point that not too many people knew where to put the broom. And these guys know where to put the broom.

Richie joked about it a little late in the game telling Glenn that he had no real idea where to put the broom. On the other side, Martin didn't know either, missing run backs and half-rock doubles at a rate that is alarming for a guy who can hit like he can.

Still, when someone raises the issue of bad ice, the normal response is this: both teams had to play on it. And that's true, but irrelevant. Imagine for a second that the 16th, 17th, and 18th greens at Augusta had huge potholes in them. Now imagine that the potholes appear after you shoot. You could argue that all players have to play on it, but inconsistent ice gives inconsistent results to both teams.

I know that my analogy is impossible. But it's also impossible to adequately explain why the refrain that both teams have to play on it isn't really true. It's obviously literally true, but bad ice is bad ice, and it wrecks the game.

If you're team Howard this morning, you're probably wishing that you could have Glenn's draw for two in the third end back. Somehow John Morris knew it was 5 seconds heavier on that side, so that one is on Team Howard.

That single point gave life to the Albertans and sucked it from the Ontarians. And even though they seemed jokey and loose, even they had to begin to wonder WTF.

Glenn has been in 8 brier finals. And he's won 2 of them. Four of those finals were with Russ, Middaugh and corner -- arguably the greatest team in the history of curling. What other team can boast that all players on it skipped their way to the Brier?

The Ontario front end has now been to 4 briers, and 4 brier finals. They are 1-4. Richard Hart has the least amount of Brier experience, but is now 1-3 in Brier finals.

Seriously, with stats like that, when the "greatest drawer in history" misses a draw to the four in the 3rd end of the brier final, even the most positive guy must just look to the roof and wonder WTF. And the bad ice made it almost impossible to bounce back.

So it goes. Alberta and Ontario play in a final that most predicted. We hoped for a game for the ages, instead we got a huge disappointment. Too bad, really.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Two more weird calls

This is BC versus Ontario in the 3-4 game.

I called this screen shot, "What are you guarding?" because I wondered, what are they guarding? The simple fact is, there is only one shot available at this point and it's the run back of the red center guard. It was Ontario's second vice rock, had Ontario had hammer.

If BC doesn't throw a rock, they are running back the red guard. If BC throws the rock where they want to (indicated on this screen shot), they are simply offering up a guard that Ontario can use. BC threw the guard almost to the spot drawn here and Richie made the run back.

And just so we're sure, I would never have left Glenn the little shot through the port for 3 later in the game. In playing the out-turn guard BC left a situation whereby Glenn had a shot to win the game that had no consequences. If Glenn misses, he still gets one and still has control.

The BC team should have looked over and noticed they were playing Glenn freakin Howard. The call to guard one side of the sheet is the kind of call you might make on Wednesday night Curling. you leave certain people that shot knowing it's hard and they won't make it. You don't leave the greatest pure thrower of the curling stone that shot, because he makes it.

I know the BC guys are young, and they don't spiel much, but how someone on that team didn't even ask if the hole was there is beyond me. Someone should have at least pointed out that they've been watching Glenn Howard make awesome shots for 20 years and that maybe he's got this one in him. It's the same as the shot I talked about above. Both guards are about not looking at what you're leaving. And that's inexcusable when you think about who they are leaving the shot for.

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The last shot of the 1-2 game

You're Pat Simmons. You play the entire last end for one thing, a draw to the four foot to win. Then, the other guy throws it on the four foot.

So you have to think about it. You think about how this simple nose hit will get you to the brier final.

I'm not going to second guess Pat Simmons. He's been to Briers, won cash spiels. He's good. But here's what I would have done. I would have made sure to ice the shot in such a way that it can be swept the whole time. Give tight ice, don't overthrow it, and let the sweepers pound it all the way home. Pat's a great player and can make the shot, and he got really unlucky. But by throwing it a little heavy, it meant the sweepers couldn't sweep it, and that left a chance at a pick.

Like I said, a pick is unlucky. Saskatchewan deserved to win that game. But they also put themselves in a position to lose. And that's on them.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Florida shots

So, we were lucky enough to return to Florida for another week. It is not so much that we LOVE the state of Florida, but rather we like spending time with grandad, nanny, bobby and old college friends.

We didn't spend a lot of time on the beach, but Autumn had a busy fun-filled week. Zoos, boat rides looking at dolphins, picking shells, playgrounds, swimming in the pool, and most importantly hanging with Nanny and Grandad. I was thankful for some down time and enjoyed reading silly crime fiction novels and resting my bones :)

Here are a few images from our week.... bring on the summer!

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The fine line between good and great

Watch the teams that we knew should win at the brier this week, and you notice some things. Here they are in no particular order:

The sweepers sweep very close to each other and the rock.
When there's a discussion on the shot, all members of the team are in on it, and the front-end can and will talk the back-end into shots
Sweepers switch on come arounds and for hit and rolls (the guy closest to the rock is on the side of the roll)

Add to that the mystique of some of these teams, and I think they start the game up one with the hammer. Mentally speaking, of course.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Autumn, hamming it up

I told her to smile. This is what I got.

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How big is this game?

This morning at 10:30AM est, Howard plays Martin. If you're the guy making the schedule, and you look at Ontario with the reigning world champion, and Alberta with three of the best teams on the planet, don't you think you might have said something when this game was put on Thursday morning?

I know. You're in Winnipeg so you know that most people will call in sick (or call in well, saying to their boss, "dude, it's howard v Martin) which in Winnipeg is most likely code for "take the week off".

But still. Other people have most-likely chimed in about this, pointing out that this is the kind of match up that's made for the evening late in the week. It didn't take a rocket scientist to predict that these two provinces would have teams near the top.

But whatever. Not living in Winnipeg, I have stuff going on this morning and can't watch. I'll watch it later though, on demand.

And for the record, I don't think this game really matters. Both of these teams will be there at the end, and a win by one over the other will not amount to a hill of beans come Sunday.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lead's first stone, first end

There are two options. A real tight guard, or a rock no more than half in the top-four.

If the guard is too high (like half way), the other guy has the broom up for the come around a second after the rock comes to stop. Get the guard real tight, then the other guy will have to make a come around that's closer to tee-line, thus 'chocking' off the rings as you see here below. Manitoba threw the yellow guard, Alberta made the come around and then Manitoba freezes to it, chocking off the rings.

Likewise, if you call it in the house, and the rock goes top twelve or anywhere tee-line or behind, then the other guy throws the guard.

What's really fun about this brier is watching that first rock and seeing how the end progresses based on where that first stone ends up. I admit it, I'm a geek, and I should get back to work.

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Why should I care

I have limited time, and I've only seen two games of the Brier this week. True, it's only tuesday, but there have been a lot of games. TSN tells me I can watch QB v NB. That's James Gratton v Jean-Michel Menard. Even though Menard won this thing a couple of years ago, no one but his family thinks he has a shot this year. And Gratton has no shot. So why watch this game? If you've seen it, tell me why I should bother. I mean, TSN is also telling me I can watch AL v MB.


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My favorite four-rock rule call

You have hammer in a close game. They throw it top four, you throw a corner guard. They throw a really tight guard. Most teams elect to play the follow it down freeze, but I saw Howard's team play a board weight run back. You hit the guard (which you can't take out of play) onto a rock in the rings (which you can take out of play).

If you nut it -- in other words if you hit it perfectly straight back, then you leave a rock in the eight foot guarded behind your tight guard. It's not really a scoring rock, so you sort of have control of the end. If you hit the guard back on a little angle, you might even shoot it over to a wing, which is even better.

The real risk is trying the shot and missing the one in the rings. Since you're throwing board, you will remove the guard (even on the bigger ice surface), which results in a wasted shot.

But if you have confidence in your lead, I love this shot for a couple of reasons.

It will deflate the other team. Their lead just did the top four tight guard that usually means they control an end, and all of a sudden you throw the perfect counter punch. Plus, they will think twice about playing by the book shots against you because you seem to be playing from a different book.

it's a little thing, but it's the thing that's helping Ontario and Alberta steam roll. They make calls like this on a regular basis that rock most of the teams at the Brier into playing outside their games.

And FYI: Howard made this call versus Burtnyk. And even though it definitely didn't rock Kerry, I'll bet it rocked his lead.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

In parise of my vac sealer

I just had roast turkey and potatoes. The potatoes were new, the Turkey was left over from Thanksgiving.

Thus, the title of this post. That's it.

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The Brier: Ontario vs NL. Draw 2

This is the 5th end. Already I wonder a little bit about mystic. I'll bet that when most teams play Brad Gushue, Olympic Gold Medalist, Brad gets a few shots an end that the other guy plays because he's playing Mark Nichols and Brad Gushue, two dudes who can mash with the best of them.

However, when Gushue plays Howard (also Martin, Burtnyk, Simmons and Menard) he has to play on merit. And more and more I see him make tactical errors of judgement that his team doesn't seem to talk him out of.

In the fifth end of the second draw (available here if you didn't see it), Glenn's front end talked Rich and Glenn into a new shot. Rich made a double peel of two guards to leave this situation:

It's Gushue's first, he's yellow, he's down 3-1 and he doesn't have the hammer. He talks about a double on the front two red stones, but points out that a double would bring a blank end into play. He's right about that. So he decides to play a guard. But this is the key: he knows that the guard won't guard everything. He knows that Glenn can make hit the second red rock and slash it onto shot rock. So he wants the guard to be on the left side of center line in order to be able to make the double on his last one -- which brings the blank into play. Here's the guard with bonus arrow showing Glenn's shot:

So lets recap for a second: Brad didn't like the double because it brought the blank in play. He instead liked a guard that left a fairly easy shot for Cliffy that would leave him a double so Cliffy could blank. Glenn makes the shot and Brad tries a thin double that had he made it, would have defied the laws of physics, meaning he was resigned to giving up a deuce and the game.

Now, I would have played the double on the two reds on Brad's first. After Richie makes the double peel, you tell him good shot, you get mildly annoyed that the front end had to talk one of the most experienced back ends at the brier into a different shot and move onto the next end.

But lets say you agree with Brad that you don't want to leave Cliffy a chance at a blank. Then lets go back to the scenario on Brad's first and wonder why the team didn't come down and talk

Here's the end again:

Why not play a little split on your yellow? Remember, we're in the mindset that a blank end is bad. We want to be aggressive. You can't guard everything, so why guard? You clip yellow about 5 inches, and make sure your shooter is at least third shot. So picture the end with the yellow rock moved over so you can see the center line and another rock back four to the left a little. Glenn would most like play a little tap on the front rocks and hope he lines something up better and then you guard.

Maybe Brad's front end is scared to talk him out of shots because the last front end to do that got cut. I don't know, but I do know that this end was not well thought out by Brad. And he doesn't seem to have any help in that area.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Ah, the Brier

The Brier is my favorite TV event of all time. Don't get me wrong, I've been to a Brier, and that's also fun, but for me, there's nothing better than sitting alone, or with other curlers, and watching the Brier on the tube (or the computer monitor since TSN doesn't make it to the B'lo).

We're allowed into the conversations. Into the shots. And even though there will be people who argue that some provinces (or even the north part of some provinces) shouldn't be allowed into the Brier, there's something wonderfully open about people getting a shot to represent their province at Canada's best sporting event.

I can't wait. And since the girls are away this weekend, and they keep telling me that it's going to snow all weekend, then I suspect I'll have nothing to do but watch.


Oh, and thanks or the shout out Posada.

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This election year

This is going to be a really interesting election year, I think. This is a massive generalization, but I think that creative people tend to be democrats and more business-like people are republicans.

In other words, Democrats are content creators and Republicans are content producers. Thus, we get a meme that the press is liberal, when the press is a huge corporation that is most definitely not liberal. So the new York Times, a huge corporation that owns more than just the times, can be both a left wing paper and one of the biggest cheerleaders for the War in Iraq at the same time.

All that I just wrote is arguable, but this is my point. Democrats as content creators no longer need the okay of large businesses to run their content. in this new media era, people can throw down a slick video and let the internet spread it.


And the great part is, we're going to see a lot more people do this in the coming months. Especially when all the content created will be for one candidate, whoever he or she is.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

I miss the girls

I miss the girls.

Not gonna lie to you. Lucy and romeo are great, but the girls make the morning fun. This morning was hard to get up. Yes, that might because Lucy was laying on my head, but it's also because Autumn and Rhona are in Florida, hanging with the Fam.

I understand Autumn is going to the Tampa zoo today. It's her first big city zoo. And I'm here.

Someone grab a violin for me.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Bored in Boston

So I'm at a conference in Boston. My wife and little girl are, at this point, on the last leg of a trip to Florida. I'll be without them for a week.

But back to boredom. It doesn't matter what the topic is, a good presenter makes a good presentation. Right now, the lunchtime guy is not a good presenter -- as evidenced from the fact that I am blogging. THe guy just before this guy was hilarious. He was born scottish but sounded like he lived in the US for long enough to almost lose the accent, but not quite.

The guy right now is german and boring.

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