Friday, February 29, 2008

Stardate 62163.53 - Clean up, clean up

Here Loren helps wipe up the counter after dinner. She actually volunteered to "help Daddy clean up!" I can't wait for her full training to begin! ;-)

And here is a video (15 seconds) of Loren helping to clean the counter!


Stardate 62162.17 - Happy Leap Day

It is leap day today, that day that comes around every 4 years as we attempt to force a highly structured, precise calendar system on top of an imperfect universe. Happy Leap Day, everyone!

In other news, I recently figured out that I've been tying my shoes incorrectly for 38 years. I always wondered why my shoelaces came undone quite frequently, and thanks to sailing I finally figured it out. Essentially, I've been tying a slip knot in my shoes, rather than a reef knot. A slip knot comes undone easily, but the reef knot will hold. I know it is a simple thing, but when you tie your shoes from habit and don't even think about it, you can lose perspective over time. Perhaps that is a general lesson for life - sometimes it is good to take a step back and think about why you are doing something. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn't mean it isn't incredibly stupid.

Just a little life lesson from me to you on this special day!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stardate 62160.20 - Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager (VOY) ran from 1995-2001, for the most part concurrently with Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (DS9). I've spoken before about how I feel that DS9 is the superior of all the series and how VOY ranks dead last, but I just started watching VOY again and I have to say that had the two series not been running simultaneously I believe I would have appreciated VOY more. I received the first season on DVD a few years ago and just got around (thank you, writers' strike!) to watching them. Unlike Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) or The Next Generation (TNG), I haven't seen any episodes of VOY in re-runs on TV since the show went off the air 7 years ago. I find that I have zero memory of some of them, while others I can remember quite well.

For those who never watched, the crew of the Starship Voyager are on a mission hunting rebels when they are pulled 70,000 light years away from home and they spend the next 7 years trying to get back. There were some missteps in the first season (which I am most of the way through), such as screwing up Tuvok's and Paris' ranks for half the season, or having your first two episodes after the premier both be about time travel, but it has not been as bad as I remember. Perhaps that is because I am starved for Star Trek right now (has it really been 3 years since Star Trek:Enterprise (ENT) went off the air)? Perhaps it is because I am not comparing it week after week with the vastly superior DS9, as I did when they were on the air. Whatever the reason, I am actually enjoying watching it through again.

Perhaps I was a little hard on VOY when it was on the air. At the time, TNG had ended, DS9 was on the air also, and we were in year 8 of an 18-year stretch of Star Trek. We could afford to be a little more critical. If it were to come on the air today after a 3-year Star Trek dry spell, would I still rank it dead last? I'm just not sure.

Seasons One through Seven of Star Trek: Voyager are available on DVD.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stardate 62156.73 - Stupid Is as Stupid Does

I received an e-mail today from USAirways, stating:

"Today, US Airways announced a change to our baggage policy. Beginning May 5, 2008, we’ll charge $25 for a second checked bag. The new fee applies to travel on or after May 5 for tickets purchased on or after February 26, 2008.

We’re making these changes to offset record fuel prices and rising airline related expenses. We simply must make changes to the way we do business to provide all of you with the high level of service that you’ve come to expect from US Airways. Also, we’re doing all we can to keep fares low. With this policy change, we’re able to give you the choice to avoid the fee and pack fewer items. With fewer bags to process, we save both money and fuel and can pass that savings on to you."

How is this stupid? Let me count the ways:
  1. More people will carry on 2 items.
  2. People will now check bigger, heavier bags instead of 2 smaller bags.
First, overhead space is already minimal, because people bring a laptop bag along with the largest, heaviest piece of luggage they can currently cram into the overhead compartments. I've always checked as much luggage as possible so that I can put my laptop backpack in the overhead and keep the space at my feet clear. Now people like me will probably be carrying on more luggage, both filling up the overheads quicker as well as cramming luggage down at our feet. And with the narrow, tight-ass seats on planes these days I predict more aggravation and lower customer satisfaction (as if it could go any lower these days). ALSO, because to the first to board goes the overhead space, I predict more people rushing the gate as soon as boarding begins, instead of people waiting for their rows/group to be called. This situation is already rampant, creating a throng of people one must push through to get to the gate. Now it will be even worse as people jockey for position in order to get their huge bags into the limited overhead space.

Second, I don't see how they will have fewer bags to process. They are simply moving the problem from the cargo door to the passenger door. Now the hold-up will be either as passengers argue with the gate attendant as to what constitutes a "personal item", and/or waiting for passengers to struggle to fit their bags (which are usually large enough to hold a German Shepard) into the overhead. We will also have lots of delays as the flight attendants attempt to latch those doors with bags and handles and everything else hanging out of the compartments. I anticipate zero time savings.

Bottom Line: People are not going to pack less, they are simply going to carry on more. There will be zero savings due to weight (because there will be no reduction, bags will just be shuffled from the hold to the cabin), and zero savings due to time (because the delay is just being moved to the cabin). Even worse, this action will prompt other airlines to follow suit, ending pretty much in disaster. I predict more angry passengers as the limited space we have now at our feet is eliminated by more luggage.

USAirways - what brain trust came up with this plan?


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stardate 62154.58 - Loren and Daddy Dance

Here Loren and I dance. Please ignore my hideous hair loss - I'm probably only a year away from going with "the Picard"!


Stardate 62154.34 - AE Interview

As I mentioned earlier, Jessica Stover was recently interviewed regarding her movie, Artemis Eternal. The full 30-minute interview (in 4 segments) is posted here, and I encourage you to take a look and to read the comments posted. I also encourage you to join our Facebook page for this effort. This is a $100k movie and she's only raised $40k so far. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you'd be doing both me and Jess a tremendous favor if you skipped a single Starbucks coffee this week and instead donated $5 to her film. Make it $25 and you'll be in the credits, which will result in your name eventually appearing on IMDB.


Stardate 62154.10 - Getting Old

Genetics are finally catching up with me. I had my annual check-up a couple of weeks ago (which I seem to get around to every 2 years) and my Cholesterol has shot up 40 points since 2006, mostly the bad kind. So my doctor has me on a low cholesterol diet to see if we can bring it down from 230 back below 200 over the next three months.

I also realized that I have not had a gym membership in about a year and a half, so Cheryl and I checked out a new gym only a couple of blocks away and will be joining it later this week (once our free sample week ends). I'm not terribly out of shape (161 pounds, 5'10", 34" waist) but I need tone. Walking as much as we do living here in NYC helps keep me fairly stable on weight, as long as I don't go overboard on calories. Where I run into problems is when I'm on travel for work - too much fish and chips and burgers and beer!

Hopefully the exercise (I went yesterday morning and this morning), coupled with the low-cholesterol diet Cheryl is now cooking will get it back under control. Both my parents are on cholesterol medication, so I may just be doomed. I plan to stick to the diet, however, so we'll see if that helps.

Getting old sucks.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Stardate 62149.88 - Weekend Activities

All day Saturday Cheryl had a work event so I took Loren to gymnastics class and then we played at home as it was cold and damp. She spent some time in her boat, and we read, and we watched a couple of Dora episodes, and we went to the grocery store. It was an exciting day!

On Sunday we went to look at a gym near to where we live, and we're pretty sure we're going to join. They have a Sunday "family event" time where you can bring your kids in to play. Loren had so much fun she didn't want to leave! If we'd packed a spare diaper we probably would have stayed more than 2 hours but we had to get home to change her. The gym also has daycare on a reservation basis, so if I am out of town Cheryl could put Loren in the daycare class for an hour to work out after her workday is over. Like Saturday, it was a cold day so we spent most of the day playing inside once we got back from the gym. Loren even helped Cheryl with dinner! (And no, Loren hasn't had some type of miraculous growth spurt, she is standing on the step stool!)

Cheryl also caught a video of Loren and me dancing, so I'll put that up as well in a separate post.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stardate 62138.62 - Jess Live Tonight!

Filmmaker Jess Stover will be taking up the same chair that Patrick Stewart, George Lucas and Tom Hanks have shared when she appears live TONIGHT on CU@USC, the #1 university television show in the world to talk about Artemis Eternal, the future of film, this demand and how you can be involved in production. The AAE posse will also demo the sport of parkour. Watch and join the evolution!

Herndon, VA

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stardate 62130.67 - Playdate

On Saturday Ariana (and her parents) came over for a playdate (and dinner). Of course at this age, they just sort of play separately in the same room, but at least Loren was really, really good about sharing her toys with Ariana (she shared better with Ariana than she does with me!).

Here Loren poses with her "cowgirl hat."

Here Ariana plays with an elephant Cheryl brought back from South Africa.

A p.s. from Cheryl: Ariana is the daughter of a friend of mine from work, and Loren has only met her a couple of times. When I called Costanza (Ariana's mom) to confirm the time for them to come over, Loren said I was talking to "Mariana's mommy." Mariana is the mermaid princess from Dora Saves the Mermaids. I think Loren was a little disappointed that Ariana did not turn out to be a mermaid princess.


Stardate 62130.29 - Jess Interview

Filmmaker Jess Stover will be taking up the same chair that Patrick Stewart, George Lucas and Tom Hanks have shared when she appears live this Wednesday on CU@USC, the #1 university television show in the world to talk about Artemis Eternal, the future of film, this demand and how you can be involved in production. The AAE posse will also demo the sport of parkour. Watch and join the evolution!

Additional Details are available here.

The movie web site is here.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stardate 62122.48 - Sucker!

Loren had her first sucker tonight, a Valentine's Day gift from a classmate. She also got a Rice Krispie bar from school as a treat. And here is what I got Cheryl for Valentine's Day:


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Stardate 62115.57 - Visit Up-State

A couple of weekends ago (January 27th) we went up to Monroe, NY to visit with Denise, Greg, Alison, and Max. For some reason, we got behind on blog entries around that time and we never posted the pictures from that visit. So here they are. Max approaches the camera in this shot.

Loren loved Alison's duck boots, and Alison wanted to try out Loren's slippers. Here they take a break from jamming on the guitar and eat cookies.

Alison shows Cheryl a spoon.

Cheryl and Loren pose for the camera.

Cookies - round two.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Stardate 62111.60 - The Met

It is that time of year again - tax time - that requires at least a day of TurboTax fun. Cheryl took Loren to The Met Sunday morning so that I could get some work done on our taxes. Loren liked the pyramids and the knights on horseback. Cheryl is putting Loren to bed right now, so I'm quickly putting up this post. If there were any cute stories I'm sure Cheryl will leave a comment or edit the post.


Stardate 62111.4 - Juno

Cheryl's parents came into town today and babysat Loren so we could go out for Valentine's Day. We went to see Juno. Three Words: See. This. Movie.

It was funny, it was well-acted, it was well written, and it was extremely entertaining. Highly, highly, highly recommended. Two thumbs up, way up!

After the movie we went to Felice, a newly opened wine bar a few blocks up from us. We had an octopus appetizer and a couple of glasses of wine. It was a nice way to unwind before heading back home and ordering pizza for dinner with Grandma and Grandpop at home. The pizza was from Pizza Park, a favorite from the "old neighborhood".


Friday, February 08, 2008

Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo

I just realized that we've gotten so far behind on family (rather than weather) entries that there are no new pictures of Loren on the front page.

So, somewhat belatedly, here are some pictures from our trip to the Bronx Zoo last Sunday. It was a relatively warm day, though not as unseasonably warm as our trip to the zoo last January.

Loren enjoys the fish in the tiger exhibit:

A lazy polar bear:

Loren was just as happy to climb on the tables outside a snack bar that was closed for the winter as she was to watch the animals:

Trying to spot the gorillas in the Congo (but alas, they were indoors because of the cold):

Enjoying lunch in the cafeteria. Loren loves hot dogs -- they're actually the only meat she will eat more than a few bites of -- and I don't serve them very often so this was a real treat for her. She had already finished the entire hot dog and was picking at the bun and the fries. Her junk food repertoire has really expanded since our lunch there last time.

After lunch we had a big milestone: Loren's first merry-go-round ride. For whatever reason we've never taken her on one before. She loved the bug carousel and was very proud to ride by herself on the grasshopper. She insisted that I wear my seatbelt on the beetle.

Stardate 62105.33 - Nacho Libre

I watched Nacho Libre in fits and starts over the past week. In a word: awful. Cheryl started it with me and 10 minutes in said, "If you want to waste your time watching this, that's fine, but I'm not watching any more."

It started very slow, was pretty slow throughout, was not funny, and several times I almost deleted it from the DVR. I usually like Jack Black, but not in this stinker.

Two thumbs down. Don't waste your time.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Stardate 62102.88 - Where's the Boat?

Cheryl voted in the New York primary on Tuesday, since she is a member of an official political party. As a registered independent, I cannot vote in the New York primary as you must be a member of the political party in whose primary you wish to vote. I was out of town on Tuesday and was unable to watch Loren at home, for example, while Cheryl went to vote so she had to handle Loren in the morning, get her ready for school, and get out the door with her early enough to vote. In order to get Loren out of the apartment early enough, Cheryl bribed Loren by promising that she could get a muffin after "Mommy went to vote".

Cheryl voted first, but after they stopped for muffins Loren said "Next we're going to the boat."

Guess she didn't quite understand what "vote" means and was wondering why they hadn't gone to the boat yet!


Monday, February 04, 2008

Stardate 62094.61 - On the Road Again...

I am back in Virginia for a couple of meetings today, and it is a bit warmer than NYC right now.

Although it looks to be a warming trend over the next couple of days. Much better than the cold and snow in St. Louis I barely escaped from last week!

We took off 10 minutes early and got to National Airport 25 minutes early so there was a nice selection of Executive cars available at National, so I ended up with a Volvo S60. Nice!

Herndon, VA

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Stardate 62089.2 - Sunshine

I watched Sunshine Saturday afternoon during Loren's nap. Generally, I liked the movie although I would have done a couple things differently. The short synopsis is that the sun is dying and the crew of a second spaceship is approaching Mercury on their way to deliver a payload to re-ignite the sun. The movie is by the same director as 28 Days (which Cheryl and I both really enjoyed), so I should have expected a very serious SciFi/horror film (which is what it is). But for some reason I thought it would feel less serious.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film, but I think it needed some comic relief. It was almost too serious from the start. I know the future of mankind hangs in the balance, I know that they have the specter of the failed first mission, but everyone and everything was so incredibly serious from the very start of the film - even before things started going wrong. I could have used a character with some humor. There were a couple of humorous lines, but in general the mood of the piece was very somber and very serious and from the first minute I found myself anxious, knowing that things were about to go horribly wrong. You knew from the first minute that you were watching a tense film. I think it might have been more impactful to have had some levity at the start, which would have contrasted with the later scenes.

Not sure if my friend James has seen it or not, but I'm sure he'd have some comments on the computer access and security issues, as I found myself having a bit of an issue with the suspension of disbelief over some items near the end, but I won't go into them here because I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews.

I still give it a thumbs up, but be prepared for a somber ride. If you are interested in Jess' viewpoint and her meeting with the director, click here.