My Summer Spent Indoors

March 5, 2008

Grwar!!I must have been 11 or 12 years old the year I spent most of the summer indoors playing Dungeons and Dragons down in a friend’s basement. In early August, my mom caught on when she noticed I was pale white with no tan lines, despite the long hours I was supposedly spending at the beach. (“off to the beach, Mom. Be home later!”). I was reminded of that summer yesterday when I heard the news that Gary Gygax, the inventor of D&D , had passed away. I probably spent as much time just paging through the Monster Manual or fooling around with the elaborate set of dice as I did actually playing the game. Looking back now, it was a great exercise for the imagination – kind of a do it yourself Harry Potter. While I never became a fanatic (or a dungeon master for that matter), it allows me to understand how folks today can get caught up in Second Life, World of Warcraft, or any other all encompassing, addictive online game. Just make sure you spend enough time outdoors in the fresh air. You don’t want to make your mom worry.

Gary Gygax also did a guest star turn in one of my favorite Futurama episodes, along with Al Gore and Stephen Hawking. Here’s the clip (en espanol). Gary’s the one with the dice.

Who Let David Gergen Out? (Woof, Woof)

January 28, 2008

This one should make all old-skool policy wonk eggheads feel good. Hey, Bono… you can keep your cool cred. Gergen’s got Davos groupies, too. (via)

E Pluribus Unum

January 27, 2008

I will always remember the night in 1995 when the Seattle Mariners beat the New York Yankees in extra innings during the Divisional playoffs. I was sitting on a couch in Pentwater, Michigan (population 958), on a cold October night. I had listened to most of the game on radio during the drive up from Chicago and was lucky to catch the last few innings on TV. When the Mariners won with Edgar Martinez hitting the game winning double in the 11th to score Joey Cora and Ken Griffey Jr., I found myself jumping up and down in the living room… alone… and wishing I could hug someone.

Here I am feeling the same way on January 26, 2008. I have been avoiding the Presidential campaigns on this blog for the last few months. Why? Well, mainly because there are others who do this kind of blogging better, more comprehensively, and smarter than I. However, tonight I heard words that moved me – and I mean it. When a candidate makes you feel a surge of hope and belief, I feel like you should stand up and share it. Please take the time and listen to the speech below. It easily surpasses Barack’s ’04 convention speech. E Pluribus Unum.

Etcetera

January 24, 2008

If feels like the world is turning faster this week. Here are a few horses that flew off the carousel.

Beachcombing

January 16, 2008

File under misc.

  • NPR ran a somewhat serious UFO story tonight on ATC. At the end, it sounded like they realized they shouldn’t be covering such a story and tried to lessen the damage to their reputation by throwing some Twilight Zone music on the tail of it and pretending the whole thing was tongue in cheek.
  • I love maps. I love Lost. Who put chocolate in my peanut butter?!
  • Andrew Sullivan’s blogging on the presidential race has been a daily joy as of late.  Smart and insightful, but openly biased and loving every minute of it (plus, he’s rooting for the good guys).  Money quote on Romney: “If he’s running as a economic conservative, I am a heterosexual.”

Happy 100th!!!

January 16, 2008

onehundredWe celebrated my Grandmother’s 100th birthday in Seattle last week. As part of a toast, my dad shared some facts about the year of her birth, 1908. Here are just a few.

  • Other births that year include Simone de Beauvoir, Bette Davis, and Milton Berle.
  • William Howard Taft defeated William Jennings Bryan for the Presidency
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in Bolivia
  • Austria and Finland granted women the right to vote.
  • Maytag started building washing machines. Hoover took on vacuums.
  • Popular song – Take Me Out to the Ball Game
  • And of course… the Chicago Cubs defeated the Tigers in the World Series.

What a century. What a woman. Happy Birthday!

PS – Oh, and hey BudgetRentaCar, you can have your free up-grade back!

The Glass is Half Full

January 4, 2008

weather.jpgI’m off to Seattle for the weekend and considering that it was below zero this morning in Chicago… I’ll be delighted with a few days of 47 and rainy. Add to that a 100th birthday celebration for my Grandmother, and you’ve got a winning recipe for a much needed break from the Midwest.  Will Tweet and Flickr the trip.

Operator…Get Me Hudiksvall on the Line

December 29, 2007

sledweb.jpgAn open letter to my sister, Ingrid.

Dear Sister – You’ve recently moved to Sweden. Northern semi-rural Sweden to be more precise. After the ten years you spent as the American Sector’s Berlin correspondent, I think it’s fair to say we’ve both grown used to the distance. But now, you have moved to a new town and the distance between you and your friends and loved ones probably feels greater than ever. So here are some suggestions about how we can all stay better connected. It all starts with that series of tubes we know as the interwebs. (They do have internet connections on the north pole, right?) Many of these things you have dabbled in, others you probably will scoff at. But now is a perfect time and situation to give it the old college try.

Flickr – you and Thomas already have an account, and that’s great. Now use it. Try to take a photo every day. It can be of the kids, of the sun barely rising over the tree line, or a moose walking through your backyard. Just carry your camera with you everywhere and take a picture everyday. Try to post them to Flickr once a week. You do that, and I will do the same.

Blog it. You are living a crazy Northern Exposure adventure right now (I smell a new sitcom for CBS), and all your friends want to hear about how its going. The good, the bad, the funny, the sad, the snow. Direct phone calls and emails will remain important, but having an outlet for the everyday thoughts and reflections is important. This will be valuable not only for us, but also for the you and your family when you look back at your time in Sweden. Try to do a blog entry twice a week.

You have two small kids, so I understand that time and energy is a scarcity most days. In between blogging, you can use Twitter to send text messages to all of us about the smaller going ons in Hudiksvall. We can get the rest of the family to set up accounts. That way, you can whip out the phone and type “Fiona just mixed 3 languages to ask for a cookie”, send it and you’re done and we’ll all have a laugh – and it won’t feel like we are all a half world away. I don’t know the details of using Twitter in Europe, but according to this site, it’s being used all around the world.

Ok – here’s where you will get resistant. Get a Facebook account. I know, I know. But at least give it a try. You don’t need to be a daily user or indicate who you hooked up with in college, but it will make you easily findable and get you in touch with friends you have not seen or heard from in years. Once you set it up, your Flickr shots, your blog, and your Twitter account can all feed into your Facebook profile. It will become a one-stop shop for your friends back in the US and Berlin. Also, it will drive your young cousin Madeline crazy that another older relative has invaded her social network. That, right there, is worth the effort.

Let’s try to build out the family tree on Geni. I started it, and you and others have added to it. But let’s take some time this year and fill it out further. It will be a fun activity for our kids, and remind them who their favorite uncle is (did they get that envelope of $10 bills?). Also, Geni sends you birthday reminders for your family (which has led some extended family members to mistake me for thoughtful and detail oriented).

And on a selfish note – get a Google Talk account. It’s the IM system I use. I imagine there are many times where I am getting to work and you are online after the kids have gone to sleep. We’ll see that we’re both online, and can have a quick chat.

This whole letter may expose me as a complete fraud. I use all these services, but sometimes I get extreme internet fatigue and let them stand stagnant for weeks (or months – yikes!) But, I’ll make you a deal. You set this stuff up and I’ll try harder on my updates and it will be worth our time.

Or….just write me a postcard now and again.

Update: Andrew over at Cheap Shot Posse reminds me that I missed the most obvious of all – Skype. Thanks, Andrew!

Better Living Through Charts and Graphs

August 28, 2007

Trapped!This Sunday, the paper of record published a jaw dropping graphic element aimed at explaining the character relationships entwined in R. Kelly’s Trapped in a Closet opus. Please, take a moment to look at this chart as well as this one – they’re the work of a music blogger Andrew Kuo. Now, I find Trapped in a Closet as accessible as Faulkner is to a 4th grader, but I have to admit with chart in hand I would indeed be better prepared for listening. It turns out these charts and graphs are Mr. Kuo’s schtick – and let me tell you, it’s a great one. Here’s another, also published in the Times, that serves as a graphical representation of his experiences at seven consecutive nights attending Bright Eyes concerts. He keeps a music blog where you can find more of his work. Emo + Beer = Busted Career

Vulgar and Adorable

August 20, 2007

TrysteroVulgar and adorable: that’s my three word review of the movie Superbad. A movie that I was able to see on a Monday afternoon because the rest of the American Sector household is on holiday. Which leads to me getting home from the movie and eating macaroni & cheese for dinner with a beer chaser. That’s kind of vulgar and adorable in its own way, don’t you think?

The Latest

Yes – Mac & cheese with a beer chaser.


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