Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Race

Here's another video from my trip, that for some reason I can't embed on the blog (?). Not sure what I like more: my mom's laughter when I make fun of my brother's bald head (which is in the middle of the screen in the back, wearing a cool headband/earmuff combo), or my uncle's attempt to hide behind my mom and not be on camera. Probably a tie.

The Slide

Same park, same niece, but different adult and apparatus. Notice the lack of injury this time. Lesson learned.

The Tire Swing

My niece, enjoying the tire swing at a local elementary school. What I didn't record was her dismount shortly after this, when we had played too long and she got very dizzy, which resulted in her losing her balance, falling, and hitting her head. Worst. Uncle. Ever.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Day in Colorado

Just got back from a Thanksgiving visit to see the family in Colorado. Although it meant once again abandoning our normal Turkey Day ritual of staying home and in pajamas all day, I am really glad we went. The airport both ways was (amazingly) easy to navigate, in part because we went out on Tuesday and came back Friday night. Both ways, the airport was almost empty, and getting a rental car was simple (although I am so sick of the hard sell at the counter: just give me what I reserved, and stop trying to sell me expensive insurance and upgrades I don't want. Is that so much to ask for?).

The trip was hosted locally by my grandparents, and included seeing almost all of the (immediate) members of my mom's side of the family, including my mom, my brother and his family, and a surprise visit by special guest star Uncle Bob. My brother's three kids were the stars of the show; they are all adorable, well behaved, and a lot of fun to be around. Hard to believe they are related to me.

On Thanksgiving Day, we all went downtown in the freezing cold (it was below 30 degrees, so I am not exaggerating here) for the Thanksgiving Day Run, a four mile event that wound its way through the Fort. My brother actually ran, while my Mom, Uncle Bob, and I walked it. I felt a little better about eating several plates of food later that day...a little.

Speaking of food, no trip is complete without making sure that my dietary tourism is complete. We hit the two big spots on my itinerary, which are admittedly on opposite ends of the culinary spectrum, but both great stops for me: Bisetti's, a local favorite for decades and a must-visit on any trip to see the grandparents; and Fazoli's, that most-missed fast-food favorite of mine that hasn't quite expanded out to me, but is working its way West. Someday...[sigh]...

Great time, great trip, and wonderful to see the family again. Need to do that more often.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Daddy Dearest

I finished The King of Kings County, by Whitney Terrell. The story covers a span of several decades, and manages to stay true to the characters in a realistic manner as human beings, not two-dimensional characters. I hate it in a movie when we see the character as a child, and then twenty years later as an adult, and they are wearing the same glasses and clothing so we know who they are (I think of this as "The Big Change," although that might not be fair to said movie). Heavy-handed visual cues like that pander to the audience, making a paternalistic assumption that we are too dumb to otherwise follow a story. In this book, the characters didn't just get older, they grew up, and did so in a thoughtful and well-planned manner.

I liked this book; I doubt I would have picked it up unless it had been recommended to me, but having read it, I not only enjoyed the story itself, but I enjoyed the writing enough that I will probably take a look at Terrell's other works. I seem to be on a kick recently, reading books told in the first person by authors writing about themselves, talking about their difficult relationships with their respective fathers (see sidebar for my current book). You don't have to be Freud to figure out why I have been reading this type of book recently, but it also helps that they are well-written and, realistically, don't resolve neatly or cleanly. I'll give this book a solid B.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Xmas bonus

I went on a trip to the Central Valley today to visit four different clients; made for a long day, but glad I was able to see all of them in one big swing. At my third stop, my seven year-old client asked me where I worked; when I said Oakland, she said, "Wow, that's a long drive." She's right; probably 1.5 hours without traffic. When the visit was over, she excused herself while I talked to the foster mom, and when she came back, she gave me this apple "in case you get hungry."

I know I probably earn a fraction of the money the corporate law types make, but how many of them get apples? A nice ending to a long day.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Are you there, God? No, really...are you there?

I finished The Eternal Footman, by James Morrow, and by doing so, I also finished what the author refers to as The Godhead Trilogy, three related and yet separate novels which explore how the world would react if the dead body of God, all two miles of Him, fell from the sky and landed in the Atlantic Ocean. I would absolutely recommend these books (especially Towing Jehovah, the first book in the series) to anybody, whether or not you are religious or believe in God. The concept of God dying plays with everybody's beliefs: if you believe in God, but He died, would your belief change, strengthen, or weaken? If you did not believe in God, would His death change your mind? And maybe most importantly, would the concrete knowledge that there was a God, but He is now dead, change how we interact with each other?

These books are fantastic, as novels, as satire, and as explorations of the reader's beliefs through the actions of the characters. A+ for all three books, no question.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Goodbye, dear friend

With the passage of the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, several internet poker sites are either suspending play for US players, or simply restricting new deposits. My favorite site, Hollywood Poker, stopped all real money play for US players last week, and gave us two days to cash out. So with the passage of this bill comes the close of something I probably spent too much time doing anyway. I am not sure whether to thank the Republicans, or hope they all get run out of office...oh, wait a minute...

Come on, Dems...bring back my hobby!

(ps. as to the post below; it turns out that a lot of people knew that they would be getting thrown off of the site, but rather than cashing out, were instead playing in real money games and sort of "burning off their money," i.e. playing really badly in the hopes of either hitting big or going out in a blaze of glory. I played several smaller tournaments right before the US players got cut out, and monied in several, adding close to $40 to the total cash out check I will get in the mail soon. Again, given that I never put a dollar into the site, getting a check for a few hundred bucks of other peoples' money should be something I am excited about, but I think I would rather keep playing...)