Financially, it was real rough, from owing Federal tax due to eff'ed up withholding, to having to pay $900 a month for meds until we meet our deductible, to job troubles, to nearly $5000 in unexpected plumbing and auto expenses in the last quarter. 2011 will be better, right? Except until we meet out health care deductible that is, until then it's $1200 a month on meds. And spaying the "free" kitten.
Professionally, I need a new attitude or a new position.
It wasn't all bad, cabin camping in Ithaca was nice, as was the trip to Phoenix.
Lego Robotics and a new record
The new record holder for the smallest venue I've been to that the Dead played at is the University of Rochester Palestra, it's tiny. Enough for a basketball court and bleachers on the side, not much more. That's where the next Lego Robotics competition was. Nine year old, her teammates and I spent nearly nine hours in the U of R gym area for Lego Robotics. The kids did good, but not good enough to advance to the state competition. They still punched above their weight, a rookie team of 2-4 nine year olds aren't expected to advance. Next up, learning the sensors.
I asked her if she wanted to go there for college, she wasn't sure, but trudging through heart attack snow to a gym doesn't show it off.
Samwise the predatory bisexual
I finished up Jackson's LOTR: ROTK. I missed the Houses of the Healing and the Scouring of the Shire segments. I wonder if anyone's reinterpreted it as Samwise, the Poor Predatory Bisexual Hobbit. Think about it, he's Frodo's gardener who goes away with him, a year later they return, Frodo gives him Bag End and then disappears. Sure, plenty of Brokeback Mountains of Shadow, but not so much Samwise brainwashing Frodo into signing over Bag End, then meeting his end in a shallow hole a few leagues from West End. Gone over the sea, yeah right. Pretty suspicious.
Battle of the Bulge Larping
To commemorate the Battle of the Bulge, we did some Bulge Live Action Role Playing, spending several cold hours wandering the piney Christmas Tree Farm. The part of the 106th division was played by nine year old, who spent much of the time lying in the snow, demoralized. The part of the ruthless, driven Peiper, searching out the perfect Tree, err, bridge, was played by fourteen year old.
The girls, being sisters, like to disagree. On a subject as important as a Christmas Tree, they each want to be the one to pick out the tree. The physically freakish fourteen year old (she's happiest when she has an hour or two of swimming a day) knows enough to wait a few hours until everyone else is cold and tired and will say yes to whatever she picks out, just to get home.
We did good this year, we left while the sun was still in the sky, it's not fun to cut down a tree in the dark, and schlep it to the car in pitch darkness.
A few days later, the "free" kitten climbed up the tree and knocked it over. A day or so after that, the dog peed on the tree.
Christmas Cookie Drama
I would have liked a low drama Christmas, no such luck. This year the drama was cookie centered. On Christmas Eve, 20 minutes before dinner, fourteen year old wanted to make cookies, and didn't let nine year old do enough, so she went crying upstairs. Drama.
Ten minutes before heading to my parents yesterday, they wanted to frost cookies, drama. On the way to my parents, we forgot my sister's GS cookies and had to go back home, drama.
In other Christmas drama, Porsche_mom let the Santa secret out of the bag, she told her son, who told nine year old.
Tough day in Tonawanda
We fit visits in with both of Mrs. Ha's parents the Sunday before Christmas, and got back in time to pick the kids up. It helped that we only spent 20 minutes with her mom.
We saw her dad first at DeGraff, he's recovering fairly well, and was discharged Tuesday. He's a little irate about a medical conspiracy, they keep claiming he gets the DTs when he's hospitalized. Now when he's home, and able to drink whiskey whenever he wants to, no DTs. He's been hospitalized twice in the last ten years, and while he doesn't remember the DTs, the medical staff claimed he had them. The conclusion is obvious, hospitals cause DTs.
But it was a good visit, I got to watch a good bit of the Bills Dolphins game, he and Mrs. Ha had a good talk. We even talked winter boots, he's avoided New York Winters for LA winters for 33 years, but not this time.
The nursing home was only ten minutes away, but her mom was really out of it (she did have an altercation earlier that day, maybe they had to break out the Ativan loaded tranq gun). We watched a little more football, then she started wandering around with no desire to talk to Mrs. Ha, so we left.
The highlight was a lunch of beef on 'weck at Anderson's on the Boulevard.
Watching: Stage Left
Fourteen year old continues the family tradition of working in theatre and staying in the background (sort of, my sister loves to be in the limelight) with her first show she worked while the show plays, Oliver! She's working costumes. For the record, I was in a few high school musicals in the pit orchestra, when they needed a second trombone. From that came my love of coffee (getting out of rehearsal after 10 at night, getting up in the morning at 6 or 7), coffee made it all better. Review from the Saturday matinee below.
Bangers and mash, eventually
I've been having a craving for bangers and mash since Hogswatchnight was mentioned on FB, I reckon it was sausagy enough for the Hogfather. I had a hard time finding sausages large enough and mild enough. I ended up getting some Wegmans apple/onion links, and they were good.
While I was cooking them, the downstairs bathroom sink drainpipe popped out and my work phone rang, three things demanding my attention at once. The work phone was of the usual "two of your teammates did this strange thing to fix a problem but I can't tell you what exactly they did, can you do it?" wave your magic wand crap.
Will make again A++++.
Air Control Lite
In one of those best apps for droid lists I saw Air Control mentioned, an app where you can pretend to be an air traffic controller and route big red planes, little blue planes and green helicopters to a big runway, little runway and helipad respectively, while avoiding collisions. In my free version, all you have to do is get the aircraft to the end of the runway regardless of flight path. The jumbo jet is flying 200 mph the wrong way? No problem, it apparently does an Immelman at the end of the runway. That bugs me.
Wii Fit thinks I'm fat
Our ebay "winnings" went to cell phone and ipod cases, and a Wii Fit Plus, which made Christmas cheaper. We played with the Wii fit yesterday, it thinks I could stand to lose 5 pounds. If I've been working out, a muscular 150 looks good. I haven't been, it's more like a flabby 150. Oddly, I'm the house champion on Hula Hoop (cf. Why every guy should buy their girlfriend Wii fit), and not so oddly, the champion for sitting in half lotus on not moving (decades of off and on yoga pay off).
Instant Netflix for Wii and XP
One of the other presents was Instant Netflix. We're enjoying it, the kids most of all, but quality wise, on the Wii, I rank it below DVR and DVD. It looks okay, but there are lots of stops to catch up, and so far FF and Rewind also cause stopping to queue more data. The instant selection is ginormous, but still missing things like AbFab, Red Green and Spirited Away.
The laptop using the same WiFi with a higher resolution doesn't have the queueing problem, I don't know if it's because the laptop (Dell D62) has a much faster CPU, more RAM, or better WiFi.
It was a busy say when we went to see the high school's production of Oliver!, fourteen year old had an appointment for contacts in the morning (it was her big Christmas present), then we dropped her off to work the show, and then we showed up.It was very good, nine year old was enthralled, even if she couldn't recline. Fourteen year old told us we mostly got the better cast (they had two players for the leading roles, playing alternate shows). No wrap party for the crew, but she was tired. She was still up late.
In movie watching, we watched Fame on the Wii, the original version. The script or film could have used a better editor, with the ensemble cast there were lots of subplots that were mentioned once, and then dropped.
Off the Main Sequence is a big hardcover compilation of Heinlein stories that don't easily fit into his future history. If you like Heinlein, you've probably already read them.
The Redbreast is a Scandinavian detective story about an alcoholic cop named Harry Hole, wondering why Norwegian Waffen SS vets are getting killed. I liked it, it's "Noirwegian".
In milhist news, I finished Durnford-Slater's Commando: Memoirs of a Fighting Commando in World War II and Nelson's The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War. The first is a slim book about the British Commando's in WWII, starting with the first volunteer, Durnford-Slater. A good quick read. The second is about a man curious about his grandfather's service in WWI, in finding out more about it he finds our more about the soldiers he served with in Company D of the 28th Regiment, and their fighting on the western front in WW1. A slightly more mobile account of fighting than normal, though still lots of trenches.
Also in milhist was Terkel's The Good War, which was lots of short interviews from people involved in WWII, combatants on all the sides, and civilians. The most ironic ones were veterans mentioning how black soldiers in America had fewer rights than Nazi POWs.
2010 Media Wrapup
I read 72 books in 2010, listed below. My top five in particular order are:
- The Art of Making Money
- 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
- The First War of Physics
- Hitler's Holy Relics
- Young Miles
The White Album (Didion)
Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle (Frank)
Strategy for Defeat
Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars
A Game of Thrones
Long Range Desert Group
A Clash of Kings
Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain
A Man Called Intrepid
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
My Tank is Fight
Runaway Dream: Born to Run and Bruce Springsteen
The Fall of Berlin 1945 (Beevor)
The Armageddon Rag
Blood Iron and Gold
The Templars: History and Myth
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Age of Uncertainty
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Street Without Joy
The First War of Physics
Hitler's Holy Relics
Day of Battle
Roll Me Over
Hellbent for Glory
Mists of Avalon
The Last Stand
The Thousand Mile War
Paratrooper!: The Saga of the U. S. Army and Marine Parachute and Glider Combat Troops during World War II
Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
The Dying Earth
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Outlaw of Gor
War as I Knew it
Priest Kings of Gor
Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth
Raider of Gor
The Man With the Golden Touch: How The Bond Films Conquered the World
A World Without Islam
The Silver Chair
The Yom Kippur War
The View from the Turret: The 743rd Tank Battalion During WWII
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of El Alamein
Off the Main Sequence
The Good War
I watched 27 movies or series for the first time in 2010.
The creepiest was definitely May.
The funniest was Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Walk Hard Dewy Cox
Hustle and Flow
Death and the Maiden
The Big Chill
Victory at Sea
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
The Door in the Floor
The Haunted Airman
The Lady in White
Mists of Avalon
The Haunting of Molly Hartley
Summer of '42
Away We Go
Things We Lost in the Fire
Only two concerts that I recall, though I may have seen a band or two at the Lilac Festival. Vampire Weekend was better than Furthur.
Only two plays, both at School of the Arts. While Oliver! is full of earworms, I'll pick Dark of the Moon.
Dark of the Moon
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