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Friday, April 29, 2005

 

Bless This Mess

I timed it.

Last night it took me just over two hours to pick up and put away every toy, game, puzzle, doll, crayon, pillow, blanket, cup, rock, and book strewn about on every floor in every room.

This morning it took the kids about fifteen minutes to make it look like I hadn't done a thing!


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

 

Soccer Dad

At my son's soccer practice today, parents were told some stunning news. One of us, a dad, had killed himself last week. This is a man who had been at every practice and game. He had three young daughters, ages 5, 3, and 2, and at the practices he was always the perfect picture of a doting father with his children.

I had judged his outward appearance as stable and loving. I'm sure the loving part was right. Of course, I knew nothing about his personal life. That's what scares me... You just can't tell what is going through a person's head. On the outside they look as normal as you, but on the inside there's torment and sadness, and maybe worse.

The way this man took his life was violent, and it involved the police, but thank God his children were not physically hurt. Now they just have to go through the life-long pain of losing their father, a man they will barely remember in years to come except, perhaps, for a happy memory of playing at the park during soccer practice.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

 

Party Like It's 1977



I haven't blogged anything for awhile... It's been a strange couple of days with my Internet connection. On Sunday I felt like blogging something, but woke up to find my dial-up connection down for the day. North Idaho and parts of Texas... Lucky us.

Then this morning I wake up and it's the phone company's (Verizon) turn to have an all-day outage.

Life was simpler before the Internet, but I'm not sure it was better... I'm hooked on the ability to find almost any little piece of information with a couple of clicks of the keyboard. Sure beats a shelf full of obsolete encyclopedias.

What I was trying to say on Sunday was something about Star Wars figures. My son loves Star Wars. Waaaay back in 1977 I never could've imagined that my future child would love the film more than I did. He wakes up each morning and plays with his Star Wars action figures before breakfast, then eats Star Wars cereal out of a Star Wars bowl. All I did as a kid was put posters on my wall and read Star Wars comic books. Oh, and see the original film twelve times in the theatre (multiply that by 100 if we'd had DVDs or videos back then).

So, I'm in the toy store last week ogling the new "Revenge of the Sith" action figures with the other dads, pretending we're shopping for our kids but really just wishing we could buy them all for ourselves and re-live our childhoods battling Tusken Raiders on Tatooine. Star Wars merchandise is everywhere, and it's difficult to ignore. I have to buy two of everything (one for my son, and one for me)! However, I think I'll pass on the Dark Lord of The Sith boxers.

Now I read that George Lucas is creating two different Star Wars TV series in the next few years. That will make my son happy, and I can continue standing in store aisles feeling like a kid again.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

 

Soda Ban

Schools in Everett, Washington, are taking a big hit in the pocketbook now that soda and junk food have been banned.

Instead of putting their spare change into vending machines, maybe kids can drop their money into collection boxes for extracurricular activities. At the end of each day, I empty my pockets of loose change and drop it all into a jar. It's amazing how quickly those coins accumulate. Over the course of last year my nickels and dimes added up to over $200. That's a lot of unpurchased pop!


 

Snooping

A newspaper columnist from Detroit writes about children's privacy and parents' duty to know what their kids are thinking and doing. As one mother put it, though, if parents have open and honest communication with their kids from an early age, there probably won't be a need to snoop.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

 

Organizing Photos

About two months ago I downloaded Picasa 2, Google's free photo organizing software. In that time, Picasa has become so natural and integral to my life that I don't know what I'd do without it.

Basically, it's the best free software I've ever used.

The first thing that happens after installation is Picasa searches your entire hard drive for every kind of picture file. It found photos that I had accidentally moved into miscellaneous folders and hadn't seen in years. Once the photos are accumulated, it's up to you to consolidate and organize them as you see fit. Within the graphic environment of Picasa you simply drag and drop the thumbnails into the folders of your choice. Once there, it's easy to tag and caption your photos.

But the best thing about Picasa is that you can easily manipulate your files without permanently changing them. You can crop, adjust tint and contrast, fix red-eye, straighten the horizon, and apply special effects such as black and white or sepia. Any changes you make to an image will stay with the photo in Picasa, but the changes will not affect the master file. No accidental "saves" that wipe out a beloved portrait. If you want to save the changes you make, the software always makes you save the file as a copy.

Picasa also allows you to quickly email copies of your photos (at any pre-set size) to friends and family through your own email application. You can create slide shows (with music) and mail those to people too. There are several other fun and creatives aspects to Picasa, including a button that lets you publish photos to your blog through Google's free Hello service.

I highly recommend Picasa 2 to anyone who has digital photos piling up on their PC. Along with Firefox and iTunes, I consider it essential free software.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

 

Wiggling Straight To The Bank

The Australian business publication BRW recently announced that The Wiggles have become the richest performers in Australia. Greg, Jeff, Murray and Anthony earned $34 million last year. In second place is Nicole Kidman with $30 million, and in third is Russell Crowe with $21 million. What's really interesting is that The Wiggles earned 70 percent of their income here in the United States.

If your kids are outgrowing The Wiggles, it might be time to check out a new category of music called Indie Romp, that includes Ralph's World, Justin Roberts, They Might Be Giants, and Dan Zanes.

My kids' fave is Ralph's World. We once drove 30 miles hitting the repeat button on this song:

Ralph's World - "Malcolm McGillikitty" MP3

It would be nice to see artists like Ralph raking in $34 million a year...

Click here for Ralph's World CDs at Amazon.com


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

 

Fun With Words

Watching a show about dinosaurs, my son learned that there were carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.

He turned to me and said, "I'm a candyvore!"

Ba-dum-bump...

Some time later, on a family movie night, my daughter runs up to me and says, "I want some Cop Porn!"

Either I need to get my hearing checked, or she needs some speech therapy... Probably a little of both.


Saturday, April 02, 2005

 

TV Lessons

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I have a love-hate relationship with television. I grew up watching too much of it, and since having kids I've realized that we're better off as a family without unlimited cable channels flowing freely and uncensored into our home. So, whenever I read about someone else's experiences with TV, I feel compelled to pay attention and pass it along. Here's Robot Johnny's humorous take on Things I Learned from Cable TV.

#6 is mostly what I'm protecting my children from.