Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Networking at work

So my dad has a cousin in Israel, whose daughter knows some people, and word filtered through the mishpochah that I should send a book back up that chain.

Today comes word that my book is in the possession of Uzi Dayan - yes, son of Moshe - and is bound for the hands of the commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedy.

That's something, I suppose. I hope one of them buys a book from me.

In other writing news, a wannabe producer wants me to write a script on spec for him. I'm a wannabe writer not making any money writing for myself, so I figure at worst it'll improve my writing and give me an impetus to write. I've been finding it hard to put fictional words down between school and work.

I'm not at liberty to discuss the topic of this spec publicly, but it's the story of an American artist of sorts in the '30s. I have a box of books on my subject to tackle before I start outlining. Wish me luck.

Bonus thoughts on the power of illuminated pumpkins:

I'm home while the wife and children go trick or treating in Pointe Claire. Usually, they all go out and I stay home and man the candy bowl. Normally, we get dozens of kids. This year, we're still in the single digits as of this post.

Our front of our house is well decorated with cobwebs (real and fake), pumpkins, and plastic decorations - but we didn't carve any pumpkins. I wonder if the lack of that singular symbol is keeping kids away.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Nazi memorabilium

The wife's aunt found an interesting doodad in her house:

The AGW Hive Mind (grumpy old men who used to beat each other to virtual hell in a flight sim and now do so over eveything else) helped me find out what it is.

I was able to decipher the German myself. A Landrat is the district administrator, sort of the mayor of a county, and des Kreisses Euskirchen means the district of Euskirchen, which is on the border with Belgium. The hive mind helped me find out what this was, however.

It's a licence plate tag, which would allow the Landrat to park anywhere, sort of like a New York City doctor. The Hive Mind found two other examples out there.

I'm still left with a few puzzles. How was it attached to the licence plate? Who took it from the Landrat's car? What was it doing in the house my wife's grandfather built - he didn't serve in the war and he certainly didn't hoard Nazi goodies out of pride.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Book page

I finally made a Web page for my book. I can't figure out how to put a PayPal auto-pay link, mostly because I haven't tried. I've received no news from the Jewish Public Library yet on whether or not I'll hold a launch there.

While steeped in that particular cultural theme, allow me to present some haiku:

The months I carried you.
Vomiting, headaches, nausea.
But never mind.

Lacking fins or tail
The gefilte fish swims with
Great difficulty.

Beyond Valium,
Peace is knowing one's child
Is an internist.

On Passover we
Opened the door for Elijah
Now our cat is gone.

After the warm rain
The sweet smell of camellias
Did you wipe your feet?

Her lips near my ear,
Aunt Sadie whispers the name
Of her friend's disease.

Today I am a man.
Tomorrow I will return
To the seventh grade.

Testing the warm milk
On her wrist, she sighs softly.
But her son is forty.

The sparkling blue sea
Reminds me to wait an hour
After my sandwich.

Like a bonsai tree,
Is your terrible posture
At my dinner table.

Jews on safari:
Map, compass, elephant gun,
Hard sucking candies.

The same kimono
The top geishas are wearing:
I got it at Loehmann's.

Mom, please! There is no
Need to put that dinner roll
In your pocketbook.

Seven-foot Jews in
The NBA slam-dunking!
My alarm clock rings.

Sorry I'm not home
To take your call. At the tone
Please state your bad news.

Is one Nobel Prize
So much to ask from a child
After all I've done?

Today, mild shvitzing.
Tomorrow, so hot you'll plotz.
Five-day forecast: feh

Yenta. Shmeer. Gevalt.
Shlemiel. Shlimazl. Meshuganah
Oy! To be fluent!

Quietly murmured
At Saturday Synagogue services,
Yanks 5, Red Sox 3.

A lovely nose ring,
Excuse me while I put my
Head in the oven.

Hard to tell under the lights.
White Yarmulke or
Male-pattern baldness.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mission accomplished

See "Bonus unit of fame for Child Three", in my last post.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Just another sari Sunday

I woke with a headache Sunday morning. It was not a migraine, but it was located where migraine would be. I took a Dilaudid around noon in anticipation of the potential for escalation to migraine and headed off with the family to an Indian tea party and sari fashion show.

I still had the same headache at 2:00, so I popped two oxycodone, or maybe they are hydroxycodone - I'm too lazy to go check. They had the usual effect: I became chatterbox and the inside of my nose itched. But they did nothing for the pain.

We had some wonderful homemade Indian finger food, desserts, and spiced tea. I chatted with the old Indian ladies about Indian recipes, which I used to make often.

After that adventure, we headed to our friends Carol and Charles to make supper. I took another two Dilaudid around 4:00. I laid down on the couch while Elvi whipped up two Alton Brown-inspired meatloaves.

Before supper, I took two extra-strength Tylenol, or maybe it was ibuprofen. On the way home, around 8:00, I took three more Dilaudid.

Yeah, that's a lot of drugs, but they have little narcotic effect on me. That last batch did the trick. My headache faded by 9:00. I even slept reasonably soundly - I normally don't on Dilaudid - at least until I spontaneously awoke at 5:00 am.

Bonus annoyance:

Firefox upgraded itself on my Windows laptop and now whenever that browser is open, my laptop freezes for a fifth of a second or so every two seconds or so. Among other inconveniences, it makes typing a blog post an exercise in frustration - about two letters in every 15 just don't show up.

Bonus unit of fame for Child Three:

Apparently, the West End Chronicle ran a photo of Child Three at goalie clinic, in his red #41 sweater. We haven't seen the paper, so save a copy for us if you have one.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

That Seinfeld commercial

Here's the "Bee Movie" ad I discussed a few days ago.

I'll watch it again, but if I see that goths-in-the swamp Kia Sportage ad again, I'm going to kill something.

Friday, October 19, 2007

More random thoughts

Courtesy of Slashdot, here's a link to Rob Brown's insightful analysis of how the wisdom of crowds helps illuminate the process of natural selection and the consequent evolution of populations.

Rob uses Wikipedia to illustrate how the open-content encyclopedia has become a source about as accurate as any other despite the observation that at smaller scales (i.e. individuals), its model breaks down. It's a fascinating read, and won't help me make my case for Wikipedia as a valid source with the editors of certain magazines I work for.

That's odd, since last year I checked an article on Wikipedia and how it's as accurate as any other encyclopedia for that same certain magazine.

Also on Slashdot I found the heartwarming tale of outlaw Mona "The Hammer" Shaw, who escalated customer dissatisfaction to a level most of us only dream about.

Have I mentioned that I'm still waiting for Dell to replace the power cord it recalled, nearly nine months after asking for one?

Bonus rumination on casting:

What if Lee Pace ("Pushing Daisies") and Jimmy Fallon Zach Levi ("Chuck") had switched roles? Both shows would have improved, I think. Levi slots better into the quirkier role of "Pushing Daisies" and Pace seems a tad lost, which would work better in "Chuck". How about a little Peterson/Kekich action here?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chien brule

I got a haircut Tuesday. I took Crash (Samoyed One) with because he adores the walk my stylist (got a problem with that?) adores him.

At some point, we noticed that he had a a small discoloured patch on his fur. We didn't know if he'd found some dye or some grease under a chair or what. Then we smelled it: something smelled like it was burning.

Crash had lain down next to the electric baseboard heater and burned the fur on his left hindquarter. He doesn't seem hurt at all, but he has some small caramelized clumps of fur. I'll try to get a picture.

Speaking of pictures, some subset of children might get an acting job next month. Headshots are going out today.

Speaking of earning money, I sold a book to the Jewish Public Library yesterday. Now I'm in negotiations to hold a book launch there. I may have to acquire more books from he publisher, though. I'm down to fewer than 20 and that's without any advertising. One of my tasks for today is to put up a Web page for the book and distribute banner ads for it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Good things

The guy who fixed my TV is Harry of Harry Magic Touch TV. It cost me $80 after taxes - peanuts! Harry doesn't have a Web page so unless you're looking specifically for him, you won't find him in a Web search.

He's a nice guy and a great repairman, though. He comes right to your home, so you don't have to schlep 75 pounds of malfunctioning electronics into and out of your car twice.

I thought I'd take adavantage of my unreasonably high Google PageRank and plug him for free. If you have a TV you need fixed, call him at 514-481-2702.

Hey, that's pretty close to the phone number of the house I grew up in: 487-2012 (and we didn't use area codes for local calls back then and we still used some rotary-dial phones and we liked it).

Another good thing without much of a Web presence is a tiny Oregon family farm called Gabrio's Organic Berries. I don't know much about their berries, but Elvi came back from Oregon with a jar of their pumpkin butter. Wow. If you have any taste for pumpkin pie, you need to get this. Actually, you need to avoid it. After trying this, all pumpkin pie will taste like ashes.

The Gabrio's pumpkin butter is so flavourful and moist it puts all pumpkin pie to shame.

Unfortunately, there's little point in telling you this unless you happen to be in the Eugene, Ore. greater metropolitan area because they have no Web site and presumably don't deliver. You can call them at 541-942-3217.

Now, I have to go write more free publicity so that I can feed my children bowls of air for supper.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Still here

I've broken the tape on that deadline - meaning I made it - but I didn't get the report in to Reader's Digest (Canada) because I had a sick Child One to stay home with. No matter. I'll bring it over in half an hour.

It was a struggle what with Wife One out of town for the weekend.

I normally don't leave work so close to a deadline, but I couldn't get this finished last week. Friday, I woke up in time to get Elvi to the airport at 6:15. I came home, made the kids their lunches, brought Two and Three to school, taught my own course, picked up One's carpool (after waiting an extra half-hour because One herself never quite got me the message that she was staying late), took Child Three to hockey, made dinner for the kids, and was pretty beat by the time I got them to bed that I fell asleep myself at 10:30.

No work there, notice.

Saturday, I woke at 8:00 and did a good two and half hours of work in the morning until the schedule caught up with me again. I took Child Two to acting lessons at 12:45, made lunch for One and Three, picked up Two and dropped her off at a birthday party, took Three to a friend's house, diagnosed and fixed a problem with the dishwasher, did something else (I didn't actually take notes), watched the hockey game, picked up Three when he decided not to sleep over at his friend's, went to bed.

Not much there either.

Sunday morning, I slept in a bit, but still got an hour and a half done in the morning until it was time for Child Three's hockey. I finally got on a roll after hockey, working ten and a half hours until 3:00 am. Yes, that's too late, but I was, as I said, on a roll.

I woke up three and a half hours later to get the kids' lunches made and do the morning carpool shift, and finished up with four and a half hours of work in the morning. Call me the Deadlinerminator. Or not.

I pent the rest of the day working on today's lecture and giving my 202 class a break by postponing by a week the quiz I had scheduled.

P.S. for Naila:

I said it was Lafleur. I should be an analyst or something.

Bonus mazel tov:

To Brother One (the brother next in line to me; I have two younger brothers), on the birth of his Child One, who is of course my Blood-Nephew Three and Nephew Four overall.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Still under the gun...

...but, did any of you catch Jerry Seinfeld's very short documentary/ad for "Bee Movie" after "30 Rock"?

That was brilliant. It was a mash-up of wildlife shows, the issue of illegal aliens, outsourcing, and furries.

All that in what? A minute? Good stuff.

Someone let me know when it shows up on YouTube.

I have a few more goodies saved up for regurgitation at a later date. Cheep, baby birds, cheep!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Jerking me a round

1) The darling wife has made me lots of Alton Brown's jerky, although she used a unitasking food dehydrator rather than Alton's fan and air filter contraption. She also used some sort of round rather than flank steak - no matter, it is delicious anyway.

2) I don't believe I ever finalized for y'all the fantasy baseball results. No thanks to Yorvit Torrealba's ninth home run of the year in that extra game between the Padres and Rockies, I finished in a tie for second. That's an adequate finish, and better than the tied for last I found the team in back in May, but I'm afflicted with a case of the woulda shouldas.

3) Our TV continues to fritz. I need to do something about that, still.

4) I have so much work to do this week: articles to correct for JOUR 202; quert letters to correct for JOUR 39; a research report due Friday for Reader's Digest. I should stop blogging.

5) I bought Child Three some goalie pads of his very own. I could not find a properly sized chest protector anywhere, but we managed to borrow one from NDG Hockey. The toe strap on one pad already fell off, but I've reattached it, and secured the other straps, with locking nuts.

6) Meanwhile, lest I be accused of favouritism, Children One and Two attend acting lessons at MSOPA.

7) I continue to mull the possibility of a family road trip to Houston in December. Flying costs too much. I wonder if Brett will deign to see me after I've called him pink.

8) Is it possible? A decent airplane movie on the horizon? Check out this trailer for "The Red Baron". This is how World War I fighters flew. "Flyboys" had jets in biplane livery.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Commercial break comments

How good does a show have to be when Jerry Seinfeld drags the rest of it down? "30 Rock" is magnificent.

"Pushing Daisies" was full of win, last night, too. And they say you need to avoid voice-over. Pshaw! Naila told me it reminded her of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", another show that relied on voice-over. Daisies has a great cast, witty dialogue, and the right amount of quirk.

Whoops, show's back. Gotta watch.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A little time off

I'm overwhelmed with work for the next two weeks so don't expect too much bloggery from my keyboard.

I wrote some propaganda for a school board commissioner election campaign today. I have a report due at Reader's Digest on October 12. Schoolwork and grading is also starting to get heavy.

And I have to watch "Pushing Daisies" tomorrow.


Bonus congrats:

Congrats to Brett, the only Nicholl Fellowship finalist I've met, I think - certainly the tallest and pinkest.