Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Love This Picture


I didn't create this image, it's been around for some time. A kid in a tux holding a sewing machine and a UPS truck in a ditch. So, what's your explanation?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer Sampler

Here are some photos from April's graduation and then just a bunch of pictures from June. There a few we took on our way to Zion. The Zion photos will come later this week.


Carter crawled into his drawer and got stuck. We thought it was hilarious, he didn't. With the abuse it's taken, it's no wonder this dresser currently sits in front of our house in pieces.


April at her graduation. Go Apes!










Belly button gazin' at its finest.










April, my mom (Annette), Sarah & Claire

PYRO

Carter and I had been playing with those little "poppers" that you throw on the ground. A few times they'd open up and once I examined what's inside. There are little rock-like granules that explode when rubbed or smashed together. So, I told Carter that we'd make a "Biggie Bomb." He thought that sounded great but he did not like the fact that it took me a long time to tear open every little popper and separate the rocks from the paper. Anyway, what you see below is the biggie bomb:

I used plastic wrap to hold together all of the granules and we went outside and I threw it in the air and...boom! It didn't disappoint. It did, however, wake up the neighor's dogs so we ran, both of us like little boys, to the side yard. Best night I've had in a while. I've been in need of a little rascal with whom I can stir up trouble and lo and behold, he's my son!



So Carter didn't feel left out, I intertwined two or three poppers together so he had some mini-biggie-bombs. They didn't work so well, but he didn't mind.

The following photos were taken in Vegas on our way to Zion National Park (it's NOT "Zion's National Park! OK, people can say it that way, but at least they should know it's not correct...aren't English teachers brats?)

We met this really cool Ent:






Sarah took Claire to the ladies' room so I let Carter wander around and look at this cool train set. He kept wandering away so I hid to see if he'd get scared. He didn't; this was the closest he came to looking nervous but soon turned back to the train and forgot about the fact that he has a family. I guess it's best to get your kids used to being alone in Vegas...at least that's what grandpa used to say.


The Bellagio is a very beautiful den of iniquity...I mean Casino. Actually, it's one of the few (the only) in which you can traverse the interior without having to enter the actual casino floor where the slots are. We find this much more family friendly.

These glass flower things are on the ceiling inside and we're always struck by their beauty.








The Bellagio fountain show. Both kids enjoyed it and it seems to happen more often, about every fifteen minutes.




Until next time!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mr. T's Snickers Commerical

This commercial was pulled from TV and honestly, I can see why. That didn't stop me from enjoying it though and I think it deserves to be seen so you can judge for yourself.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Double dipped and deep fried ...and now with 25% more family tradition!

I'm not a big fan of Domino's or Pizza Hut. I am not a full blown pizza snob, but living in Italy for a couple of years did disillusion me to what most Americans think of as Italian food...or food in general. Most Italian families, for example, eat out at a sit down restaurant no more than once a year, probably less in most cases. They have little food stands where they sell little pizzas baked fresh each morning and you want fresh bread? Foggedaboudit! There's a fresh bread bakery and little produce and meat markets everywhere! People buy their fresh ingredients and go home and cook as a family or with friends and consume what they cook together. So it often makes me chuckle when I see ads trying to sell their product as something it's not. For example, I often feel upset after watching an Olive Garden commercial since they try to spin their restaurant as some sort of "bring the family down and enjoy a true, homemade Italian meal...and create some lasting family traditions too!" Tradition of consuming over salted food that comes in from a central warehouse and is heated up and served by a guy who doesn't tip his bus boy enough. Can you tell I'm still upset about getting shafted as a bus boy back in the day?

Now, I'm not saying I don't scarf down the occasional slice of Pizza Hut pizza or enjoy the bread sticks and salad at the Olive Garden (I used to work at the one in Chino in fact), BUT I think marketing is sickening sometimes and I think too many of these pizza places water down their own product by creating all kinds of double-crust-nacho-filled dough with seven kinds of pepperonis. What the!? I must say, however, that in Italy people actually eat pizzas covered with hot dogs or fried eggs, but at least they don't have franchises!


Domino's Scientists Test Limits Of What Humans Will Eat

Oh, and check out the new feed bags that fast food franchises will soon be offering. Personally, I can't wait. I HATE having to lift the food to my face...so fatiguing!

New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Baby Noah's here!

Well, these photos are a bit old since baby Noah was born last month, but here they are. By the way, Noah is the proud owner of two of the finest people we know: Jeremy and Melissa Agrelius, some of our best friends. They moved about 45 minutes south of us so we don't see them as much as we used to, but we still get together as much as possbile. Melissa and Sarah are high school friends and Jeremy and I just happen to get along "swimmingly" as the British say. Jeremy and I have the best conversations since he's in to politics, tech, gaming, the outdoors and spirituality. Now if I could just get him into MMA a bit more! JK Oh, and check out his baby utility belt. Eat your heart out Batman!

Oh, and Melissa, sorry, but we didn't get any pics of you! That's OK, Noah is the man of the hour, right?

I wish we could have got a better shot of this little guy, he's adorable but you can't really see his face here or in any of the other pics. Next time.












Claire's like, "What's up with this thing?"


Thanks for the great morning guys and oh, those sandwiches were awesome!

Upcoming Movies

You'll need QuickTime to watch the trailers from the Apple website.

Flash of Genius

007: Quantum of Solace

The Day the Earth Stood Still

This one's been out for some time, but wasn't widely released. I can't wait to see it:
The Visitor
---------------------------------------------
Movie review: HELLBOY II

"Krauss" is just one of the intriguing, funny and spooky characters. He's a by the books German ectoplasmic dude and you know we all love that kind of guy!

I just saw Hellboy II with my dad and Adam (my brother-in-law) and I must say it's a really entertaining movie. I won't give it the full treatment like I did Kung Fu Panda, but suffice to say that a lot of people who love action/comedy will miss out on this one because I think the title and the wackiness of the characters turns people off. It's better than the first one and although it functions best as an action, comic book movie, it has some very compelling themes about spirituality and morality running just under the surface. Del Toro is a fabulous film maker and it's interesting the way he went from the rather serious fable that is "Il Labirinto del Fauno" to Hellboy II so seamlessly. Fans of "Il Labrinto" will see the same unique artistic flair in HBII. My final grade: B for the average person, A+ for fans of super hero movies that are just campy enough to not take themsleves too seriously but cool enough to keep you interested. I should add that this movie moves at a break neck speed and the action never lets up. Oh, and the CGI is top notch.

I worry sometimes



You like worrisome? Check out this tower with giant babies attached to it in the Czech Republic.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One Hundred Push Ups Takes You from Zero to a Hundred in Six Weeks

one-hundred-push-ups.pngThere's a web site called One Hundred Push Ups which details a training plan for going from 0 to 100 push-ups in a matter of six weeks. In addition to my new healthy diet and riding the bike, I'm going to do this. I've been doing push ups at home for the last year or so as a way to exercise at home. Carter and Claire always make it interesting since one, or both, usually attempt to sit on my back or kick me in the head.

I also asked Sarah to get me the perfect push up but I don't know how that will work with this program since I know it comes with its own little program you're supposed to follow. Anyway, One Hundred Push Ups takes a graduated approach to 100, with a very detailed plan and several levels depending on your fitness going into it. It's sort of like the Couch to 5k but for your muscles.

Anyway, if anyone's interested in doing this, I'd like to hear how it goes for you. I don't know why this is becoming a fitness blog but it seems that way eh?

Oh, and if you got this far in the post, Sarah and I are proud to announce that we finally replaced the nastiness that was the carpet in our house. We moved in yesterday and I remember saying, "This carpet's gotta go like yesterday!" and then, of course, three years later we replaced it. We went with a lighter color than we had anticipated, sort of a creamy beige, but it's got all those little speckles so it won't show wear any time soon. Come by and frolick on it, just take of your clod hoppers first. The house still smells like a carpet store. I also need to write about the little expereince Carter had with David, the homeless carpet guy that he met (sounds strange, but it's quite toucing actually). Oh snap! I'm supposed to be working on my research project...dang internets!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back on that wagon!



If you're thin and fit, then ignore this post. For everyone else who could stand to get into better shape, it's time to get back on ye olde wagon. Sarah and I both have genetics and our past eating habits working against us, so the Todd house is a place in which the battle to become(me) and stay(Sarah) healthy is ongoing. Actually, I've learned that healthy people are not simply healthy, they're working at it every day. It's kind of like being happy, it takes daily attention and work. Sarah is one of my heroes in terms of health since she exercises almost every day which usually means getting up very early or pushing both kids in the doube jogging stroller which is no easy feat, especially with the hills around our house.

As of last week I am refocusing myself to drop some more weight, which is a euphemistic way of saying FAT, and I'm using a number of "tools" to help me. Of course the dieting culture machine tries to create around weight loss is a big crock since it's all about how many calories one consumes versus how many one expends which is why I find that a good CALORIE CALCULATOR is a great which helps you know how many calories you're burning each day and therefore how many you need to eat to maintain you're current weight as well as how many you should eat to lose. I prefer simple calculators and one of the best I've found comes from FreeDieting.com and can be found HERE.

Another great tool that motivates me to work out is to listen to the song "Tomorrow" by Silverchair. Seriously. Check it out on last.fm or Pandora.com (great, legal ways to listen to music on the net).
And finally, my secret weapon (thanks to Hay and Adam for the good deal):
A ride up into the hills, down the horse trail and then on to the University is A LOT of fun and is mostly down hill...until I have to ride home up Blaine. Me no likey the jogging but me likey the two wheeled mobile.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jedi Gym

This video is pure, unadulterated awesomeness. I hate to spoil anything, but feel I must warn that this gets a little graphic at about the four minute mark, so don't let the little ones watch it (it's silliness, but nevertheless I won't let Carter see it):

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Musing on Video Games...ahem....Electronic Gaming

I never intended this post to be this long, but one thing led to another.


Since many people simply don't understand the electronic gaming culture and still refer to all things played on a screen by the ugly moniker "video games," I sometimes feel a bit embarrassed by the fact that I'm a "gamer." OK, I admit it: I still call them 'video games' too, but video games have come a LONG way since the days of the "beeps" and the "bops" of mindlessly clicking a button to blow up little blocks that represent space ships. Nowadays, games are complex, mature and, dare I say, an art form. I'm not alone in my thinking as millions and millions of overgrown boys who grew up playing games have attained manhood and have enough casheesh to buy video game hardware and software. Indeed, it's a pretty well known fact that games now earn more revenue than movies do at the box office. Furthermore, big movie names such as Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, and George Lucas are now producing and/or directing video games (Spielberg just produced a game called "Boom Blox" in the Nintendo Wii while Lucas' name is behind the latest Star Wars game and Jackson is working on a secrent non-FPS Halo title that's forthcoming on the Xbox 360 sometime in 2009 or 10).

Today a sort of hierarchy of video gamery exists. Most games are simple or, as the industry likes to say, "casual." This market consists of card games (Solitaire...ugh), Tetris-style puzzle games and all kinds of accessible little games aimed at women, children, and men with low levels of testosterone.

Next you have the big genres, namely sports simulators (sims), shooters (mostly First Person Shooters) which, of course, refers to the perspective one plays from, namely the first person in which you only see your weapon (I use this to teach my male students the difference between first person and third person in writing and it works like a charm), adventure games, action games, massively multiplayer online role playing games, or MMORPGs, the most famous of which is currently the money printing machine known as World of Warcraft (these are subscription based and people interact by playing together or against one another online and, as it were, lead to divorce because they're so time consuming...I've never played it by the way), role playing games (RPGs), platformers (in which you hop around and kick midgets and collect coins and what not, such as Super Mario Bros.), and so on. There are now games, however, like the forthcoming SPORE (google it), that are truly innovative and groundbreaking and, in some small way, may change the world.

Gaming, for me, has been both an escape from day-to-day life and also a social activity. Sometimes I like to stay up late and fight a furious battle against aliens all by myself with headphones on while others times I want to play a basketball game with a friend online and talk the whole time about what's going on in life. Like anything else taken to an extreme, gaming can cause problems (lack of sleep and a catalyst for serious procrastination being the first two things that come to mind).

So, obviously video games have a very dark side: they can be a very solitary activity, contributing to everything from anti-social behavior to obesity. Some people literally lose their connection to reality; one guy in Korea died of heart failure in South Korea after an insane gaming marathon during which he failed to sleep, eat, or consume sufficient fluids. Wow. The online gaming phenomenon that started on the PC and now extends into the console sphere has created great ways to play games with people remotely, but it has also spawned racial epithets galore and all kinds of foulness that I don't even want to get in to (I've heard some really strange, sad things online as you can imagine). Generally, it's pretty difficult for me to find a decent, mature person with whom I play with online if I'm not playing with someone I know in "real life" as people put it. In fact, as a father and teacher, I constantly debate whether or not we should even have games at home, but it's going to be very difficult to ever give them up entirely since it's been a part of my life since as far back as I can remember and I can remember all the way back to the Atari 2600 (playing the old Atari football game, PitFall, etc. with my dad, uncle and cousins and then later the NES in the late 80s, early 90s...indeed, I remember that fateful trip to Fedco and my first two games were Super Mario Brothers and Kung Fu). So, like TV, the internet or any other technology, one must find a middle ground.

Atari 2600



Kung Fu (Sunsoft, 1988)

It's funny, actually it's a bit aggravating, when someone says, "Oh, where do you find the time to play games?" Or, "Yeah, I just don't have the time." I can't help but think of how much TV most people watch. I don't watch TV very much, maybe an hour or two a week. Instead, I get online, watch a movie every two weeks or so, and play games. I still find time for everything else in life such as family, work, church, reading, exercise (OK- I need to "find" more time for that!), and so on. Also, I don't play games in front of Carter unless they're age appropriate and we try to limit his screen time as much as possible. I will admit that I play a lot more when I'm not working for the month and half in the summer (my school's year round, so I don't take the whole summer off).

So, what's this post about? I guess I just wanted to share some thoughts about gaming. Like the internet, or TV or movies or anything for that matter, there is good and bad in gaming. Depending what you play, how much you play it, etc. gaming can be a very appropriate and wholesome form of entertainment. Is most of what's out there negative and violent? I say yes. Is not having gaming in one's home the best way to avoid that negativity? Probably.

With that said, check out this trailer for the upcoming game "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" by LucasArts and tell me the inner geek doesn't cry out to play it (BTW, this games uses three different engines to render the various graphical and physics based elements it employs...geeks will savor this one frame by frame):



Even more...


Born on the 4th of July

Ok, no one was born on the 4th in our family, but it makes for a great title. Right now I'm Comin' atacha live from San Luis Obispo or, as the locals say, SLO. Isn't that exciting? Ok, it's not, but once again, it sounds kind of exciting...or not. We're up here visiting Jake and Amy again for the weekend. This summer's all about taking many short(er) vacations (Zion was only about 4 fill days I think). Tonight we went down to the little open air market night and got some food, hung out and ate some delicious little donuts that Jake has a weakness for. The rest of the time here we're going to spend swimming, taking in more local restraunts, checking out some museums and generally just shillin'. By the way, shillin' is our own way of chillin' which comes from the term "chilling" which comes from "chilling out" which I assume comes from the idea of being "cool" which comes from not being easily excitable or irritable, like the opposite of a hot potato which no one wants because it's hot and easly excitable and...I don't know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, on the 4th we didn't have our camera, but Heidi sent us some photos. We spent the day at my parent's house swimming and barbequing. In the evening we headed over to Ontario to Heidi and Ned's place which is right next to Whispering Lakes Golf Course where we watched the fireworks that most people see from Westwind Park (we went over there for a bit to check out the little carnival....no thanks....).

So, here are a few photos. I'll have to get some more photos from Louise since she had her camera and took photos throughout the day. By the way, the next post will be a mega post with the photos from Zion.

From 4th of July Pics
















Claire was VERY tired before the show started.


Once the show did start, however, she was mesmerized. Notice the ear plugs? I insisted since I thought loud noises are bad for babies ears. Everyone thought I was crazy and, alas, they were right (see below).


Exposure to Loud Noise

My daughter is 3 months old. Is it safe to take her to a fireworks show or will it be too loud for her ears?


Your baby will let you know whether this is a welcome experience for her or not. Some babies are transfixed with joy and others cry early and long.

Sitting a little farther back will increase the chances that she will like it and it will decrease the noise to protect her ears. All of our ears are vulnerable to loud noises, especially sustained loud noises (but she is not at any more risk than you are in that regard).

Some of kids' senses aren't as well developed as ours (vision, for instance), and others are even more acute, such as taste and hearing, so the fireworks may sound louder to her (and food tastes stronger to her), but this does not make them any more risky for her.

I wouldn't recommend taking her to a rock concert or sitting and watching a jackhammer together, but 20-minute fireworks show should be fine if you are both enjoying it.