Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stardate 62723.57 - Weekend

On Saturday we went up to 73rd street to a Mexican hole-in-the-wall that Cheryl visited once and found to be quite good. Loren wanted to ride her scooter all the way there, which meant that we ended up carrying it a good deal of the way. The weather was nice, in the low 70s, so I broke out the jeans for the first or second time. The restaurant was quite good and we enjoyed the meal. On the way back we stopped at the playground by where we used to live and after some fun in the sandbox where a little boy dropped pants to urinate in the sandbox (narrowly missing the children around him), Loren was ready for ice cream.

On Sunday I took her to Central Park so Cheryl could get some much-needed shopping done and we ended up at the Children's Zoo. I know we have 50 pictures of Loren on the turtles but they are by far her favorite thing at the Zoo. We did have a break-through today where she got some of the feed and actually put it into her hand and stuck her hand through the fence for the goats to lick the food off. She seems to be relatively trama-free after feeding the goats. I can't say the same for the turtle after Loren cleaned out his nose.


Stardate 62722.31 - Movie Reviews

Cheryl and I have watched a bunch of movies through NetFlix over the past few months but we just haven't had the time to post a review of anything. Here is a quick summary of some things we watched this summer with just a short highlight and recommendation for each.

Sicko was pretty good, although is typical with Michael Moore films the pugilistic morality was a bit hard to take. But he makes an excellent point - in a country this wealthy there is no reason people shouldn't have health care. How we, as the human race, can permit people without insurance to be dumped into a taxi so that they are dumped at a free clinic so that the hospital doesn't have to take care of this is abhorrent. When I am benevolent dictator for life, we'll have socialized medicine in this country. Two thumbs up.

Talk to Me was one that I had heard about, but really didn't know what to expect. Excellent, excellent film. Don Cheadle is always fantastic, and this movie is no exception. The fact that it is based on an actual person and actual events makes it even more poignant. We watched this one pretty late on a weekend night and Cheryl stayed awake for the entire thing, which is a tribute to how much she liked it. Two thumbs up.

The Upside of Anger was described by a co-worker as a "chick-flick" but even Cheryl was disappointed in this one. There was a pretty good twist near the end that we didn't see coming at all, but that didn't make up for this movie that believed it was teaching a lesson but in reality just made us annoyed at most of the characters. Two thumbs down.

No Country for Old Men was, in a word, over-rated. I couldn't figure out if it was an incredibly violent movie mascarading as an artsy movie or an artsy movie mascarading as an incredibly violent movie. We didn't even know it had ended. I won't spoil it, but at the very end one character is talking and we were so busy making fun of the scene than when the movie faded to black and the credits rolled we said simultaneously, "That was the end?!?" We had to back it up and watch the scene again. Two thumbs down.

Attonement has Keira Knightley in it, and she is on my list making this a must-watch film. Not a feel-good film for sure, but well-done. I'm a sucker for big English manors and domestic servants and all that, so I have to say I really enjoyed this one--even with the non-hollywood ending. Two thumbs up.

Bad Education (La Mala educacion) was one that Cheryl had picked out, so I knew it was probably foreign, well-acted, and potentially strange. It was foreign, well-acted, and had some interesting twists and turns but I felt it was ponderously slow. Cheryl gave it a thumbs-up, I gave it a thumbs-down. I think we discussed it afterwards and I had more reasons for not liking it (and no, the homosexuality was not one of my reasons), but I cannot remember them (other then the feeling that lots of stuff could have been cut for pacing).

I am Legend was one I'd been looking forward to seeing if for nothing else, to see the empty NYC shots. Turns out that was pretty much all it was worth. Lots and lots of missed opportunities to give the bad guys much deeper, complex motivations. Lots of me saying, "wait a minute...". Simply, not good. Cheryl fell asleep early in the movie, so two thumbs down.


Stardate 62722.19 - What I'm Watching

Around this time each year I share my list of what I am watching on TV, with the new Fall TV season starting because I know I have such tremendous impact on all my friends' viewing habits. I'm sure a vote for me can make or break a series, so Hollywood is waiting for my list so they understand what shows they will be canceling in a few short months. ;-)

The sum total for the shows currently on the air is 6.5 hours. There are 4 hours of programming that are not showing yet, bringing my total to 10.5. Once those other shows start, however, there are usually enough re-runs from my list that the actual total is 7 during any given week. Additionally, shows like Trading Spaces and L&O:SVU tend to stack up on the DVR and I watch them during times when other shows are in re-runs.

  • NCIS - The Navy version of CSI. If I am watching this and Cheryl is in the room she will pay attention, but otherwise she doesn't see it.
  • Law & Order: SVU - This one continues to outshine the other L&O shows, including the original even though it is pretty depressing. Also one Cheryl watches when she has time.
  • Knight Rider - NEw show that I'm giving a chance because I liked the original as a kid and I liked the movie pilot a few months back.
  • The Office - Consistently funny and we've added it to our lineup. Cheryl watches this one regularly.
  • CSI - This one is the closest to being dropped. I like it, but I'm not sure they can continue to come up with new and interesting cases without jumping the shark. And now that Grissom is leaving the show, I'm just not sure they can successfully pull off the Law and Order-style main-character swap-out .
Shows on the list but not currently on the air:


Friday, September 19, 2008

Stardate 62717.66 - Annoying Outlook Error

Ever since I started my new job back in June I've been getting an annoying Microsoft Outlook error whenever I modify a Note and then either activate the screen saver (lock the terminal) or exit Outlook:

Could not complete the operation. One or more parameter values are not valid.

It then produces an error message similar to "the note will close and changes will not be saved", even though the changes are saved.

I Googled around for a while and finally found a fix. Go to the tools -> options -> other tab, then click on "advanced options," and finally unselect "when viewing notes, show time and date". This change immediately solved my problem.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Green Sheep

Yesterday I played hooky from work for the morning and chaperoned Loren's class to the New Victory Theatre for a performance of The Green Sheep. I won't spoil the ending by giving away where the green sheep was (it was a pretty dramatic climax). Thumbs up all around from the kids...even the 1 1/2-2 year olds in the class below Loren stayed interested for the whole thing.

Here Loren and her partner for the trip ride the bus across town.

Loren with the sheep posters in the corral... I mean waiting area.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stardate 62704.30 - Loren Sings and Plays Guitar


Stardate 62703.99 - What they pick up...

Actually, not that kind of picking something up. Her daily report card came back on the 10th and it stated:

This morning while playing in dramatic area Loren said she was going to work. She had a very special meeting that she woke-up early for. She invited [her teacher] to the meeting. Then, Loren made several phone calls.

This was the day after I had to get up early for an 18-hour workday.


Stardate 62703.77 - Went to the Farm

We belong to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group, where we get produce from a local farm once per week delivered to Manhattan. Saturday was "visit the farm" day so we skipped gymnastics and left early for a 2.5 hour drive up to "our" farm in the Catskills. Loren loved pretending to drive the tractor.

She even posed with Cheryl.

We took a tour of the fields after tractor time.

Loren was very disappointed that the tractor part of the carrot picking didn't involve her riding on the tractor. The farmer used it to till up the ground a bit so the carrots were easy to remove, but Loren really thought that she would get to ride on the tractor when he was doing it.

After eating a picnic lunch, we then went down the road a bit to the berry farm where we picked fresh raspberries.

Then we stopped by Denise and Greg's place for a quick visit and to wash and eat the raspberries! They flew to Poland today, so we kept our visit short and we forgot to bring the camera in so we have no photos.


Stardate 62703.07 - Grandparents Visit for a Picnic

Last Sunday (September 7) I had to work for several hours in the afternoon, so Cheryl's parents and Grandmother came over to visit and help Cheryl out with Loren. After I got back from work, we ordered pizza and went up to the roof deck for another picnic.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Stardate 62669.14 - Calling All Nerds

I love my HD Television (Panasonic), I love my HDMI receiver (Onkyo), I pretty much love my HD DVR (Scientific Atlanta), and I am ok with our HD cable (Time Warner). But for some reason, when Gossip Girl (in HD) has been recorded from CW11 onto the DVR, we get periodic sound drops during re-play. It is driving Cheryl nuts. The only thing I found through Google was someone in New Jersey who had similar issues and they stopped when he upgraded to 1.3a HDMI cables.

Has anyone else experienced something like this? If so, what was the fix? I'm dreading contacting TWC about this because I anticipate them not being very helpful.



Stardate 62669.10 - Labor Day

Today Cheryl took Loren to Central Park so I could get some things done around the apartment and also have some "Curt time."

In the afternoon I took Loren up to Best Buy to return the favor and we purchased a couple of new Dora episodes and a Max & Ruby DVD. For dinner we packed up a picnic and went up to the roof again. The temperature was perfect, the humidity low, and the breeze light and refreshing. The perfect end to a great day!


Stardate 62667.72 - Labor Day Weekend

We started off Labor Day Weekend slowly, spending Saturday morning at home. That afternoon we went to Westchester to visit with Linda and Jason and to let Loren have a play date with their children, Hadley and Logan. They have been overseas for work for a couple of years and are now back in the States. They live in a pretty cool neighborhood that isn't too bad of a commute into the city (of course, I'm not sure how it is with 2 children). After some play time, we walked from their place to a pizza joint for dinner, and then headed back home.

Sunday morning we headed out early to NJ for the beach. Grandma Golda ("Bobby") purchased a new bucket for getting water for Loren, which she immediately put to work keeping her feet cool. She also played by herself a fair amount this trip, including walking pretty far away from our blanket to look for shells and rocks to put into her new bucket.

Cheryl's parents came over for dinner, and then we headed back into the city.

We thought that there would not be much traffic since Monday is a holiday, but we were wrong. It was very slow on the Parkway and then traffic was very heavy on the Turnpike as well. People were driving like morons (as usual), including one guy WHO WOULD NOT GET OUT OF THE LEFT LANE even though he was going 10 mph less than the speed limit. The short version is that after sitting right behind him for several miles waiting for him to get over I finally swung around him, passing on the right, and then cut back in front of him. Unfortunately, this caught the attention of a NJ State Trooper who then proceeded to pull me over for tailgating and passing on the right--an accurate assessment of how I had been driving. When he asked what my hurry was I honestly replied, "We've been stuck in traffic for an hour and my kid is in the back and starting to really complain."

Well, he much have kids because he let me off with only a warning.


Stardate 62667.70 - Family Visit

On Thursday Mom and Judy (who took the picture above) brought cousin Joseph up to NYC for a Yankee's game (they won). Afterward, they came downtown to meet me near my office for dinner. Cheryl also came down with Loren and we went to South West, one of my favorites due to their margaritas and their proximity to the water (with terrific views of North Cove). Their food is not bad, either.

Before dinner, while we waited for Cheryl and Loren to arrive via subway I walked them past the World Trade Center site and took them to my sailing club location so they could have a view out across the Hudson. After dinner they went back to NJ to spend the night so they could get an early start back to VA Friday morning. It was a nice visit.