March 28, 2013

Spring Break

Pretty sure I forgot to mention that I'm on spring break. There's all kinds of spring breaky goodness going on like roadtrips, visits to museums and hanging out with friends and, amidst all that awesomeness, I guess I just forgot to let anyone know. Rest assured I'm alive and well.

Posted by Chris at 8:18 AM | Comments (1)

March 22, 2013

The Weeklies #250

The Weekly Challenge. Getting out of bed.

The Weekly TV. How I Met Your Mother.

The Weekly Vegetable. Brussels sprouts.

The Weekly Read. I'm not sure how he does it but John Sandford keeps pumping out fantastic novels. Wicked Prey was no exception. After 18 novels, you'd think Sandford and main main Lucas Davenport would be a little worn out but they're not. In fact, they've both aged quite well.

The Weekly Overrated Human. Jay Leno.

The Weekly Quote. "The worst feedback is indifference."

The Weekly Musical Hero. Dave Grohl. His SXSW keynote address was, perhaps, one of the most fantastic things I've watched.

The Weekly Question. If you could do anything today other than what you've got planned, what would it be?

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (9)

March 21, 2013

Mellow Yellow

There's a restaurant close to us that Owen and I have grown fond of. We end up there nearly every weekend. It's a good thing that the food they serve is relatively healthy because there's one thing that's decidedly not. See, they have one of those new Coke machines that stocks every single kind of soda they've ever made while allowing you to flavor your brand of choice however you like. Maybe this is old news but it's pretty darn awesome.

I'm not a soda fan. I drink coffee, water, Gatorade and beer. Rarely do I buy soda. But I make an exception for myself - and, sometimes, Owen - at this place because it's so damn fun.

All that said, I think if you view soda as anything other than liquid candy you're delusional, which is why I could understand New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to rid the city of super-sized soda. Of course it failed - everyone had to know it would, and it probably should have failed (I mean, come on, you can't legislate people into being healthier) - but I admired the sentiment behind it.

After all, I wouldn't want to be deprived of my lime-flavored Mellow Yellow.

Posted by Chris at 7:39 AM | Comments (2)

March 20, 2013

BotW: Epic Copper Cone

UntitledEpic Copper Cone pale ale is brewed in one of the least likely American cities to house a brewery - Salt Lake City. I'd never had anything from Epic but I'd heard good things. Of course, that included the beer store check-out guy who said Epic is really drinkable which made me wonder what else he's used beer for in the past. I poured a glass and immediately noticed the dark color, darker than a traditional pale ale (because they're usually, you know, pale). It tasted darker too.

After drinking a glass, I kind of felt like the folks at Epic were compensating for something. There was a strong maltiness at the forefront, sacrificing some of the fruity, hoppy taste in the process.

I can't in good conscience tell you that I'd buy it again. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great. And in a world with so much beer, not bad just doesn't cut it.

Posted by Chris at 8:25 PM | Comments (1)

Interestingness (Or, Quiet On The Set)

I started yesterday early, to the alarm going off, me hitting snooze, alarm going off again, me hitting snooze again, finally relenting, getting myself dressed and out the door into the literal and figurative darkness of a commute into the District, aka Monkeytown. When I arrived at the office building, I ushered the film crew in, helped them set up their stuff, punched up a couple of the scripts, found out the makeup lady and I had a friend in common, hugged, tried to get everyone on the set to be quiet, and watched as several vignettes were shot. Several hours later, I helped the film crew pack up, ushered them out of the building, got in my car, headed out of Monkeytown in what was a much brighter commute (again, literally and figuratively), and arrived at my office in the 'burbs.

Around 2:00 in the afternoon I had a thought. Damn, the first half the day was a little strange, wasn't it?

Indeed, it was.

Posted by Chris at 7:09 AM | Comments (2)

March 19, 2013


Before the advent of Owen, I was never really sure where I came down in the age-old nature versus nurture argument as it pertained to the differences between girls and boys. My mind was quickly settled when Owen became, well, Owen and the differences were abundantly clear.

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded the Sims app for my iPad. Both kids were transfixed. Their gameplay speaks volumes.

Mia's Gameplay. If I let her, Mia would easily spend hours with her Sims. She's created seven of them, created elaborate backstories for each, and spent a great deal of thought dressing (and re-dressing) them. Two - Abe and Jo - are madly in love with each other. They watch hours of television together, walk Jo's dog, grow bell peppers and, occasionally, kiss. The world very briefly spun off its axis last night when Jo proposed to Abe and Abe turned her down. We reminded Mia they'd only been dating for a day.

Owen's Gameplay. Owen has two Sims, both guys. One hangs out in his house. The other just goes to the bathroom. Conveniently Owen's arranged for him to have a toilet situated in his living room so he can pee while presumably watching TV, reading a good book and entertaining. As soon as he's done going to the bathroom, Owen just makes him do it again. Then refuses to let the poor guy wash his hands.

Truth be told, before Owen I'd always thought life was a little more nurture than nature. Clearly I was wrong.

Posted by Chris at 7:12 AM | Comments (4)

March 18, 2013

Out Of Touch

We did two things on Saturday night that made me feel old and out of touch. We went to the mall, then watched Saturday Night Live.

I realize the mall is always a bastion of hopelessness and a place that's supposed to make you feel out of touch if you're beyond the age of 25. But between teenagers pushing strollers, twenty year olds actively buying bags of things in high-end stores and scores of tweens wearing outfits you usually see on women of a certain persuasion most frequently seen on poles in dimly lit clubs, I have to admit that, for a moment, I briefly and quietly said what's the world coming to? in a totally non-rhetorical way. When Superman stumbled upon Bizarro world, I suspect this is what it felt like.

Beth and I had a wonderful night out anyway. We ate a wonderful meal them bought presents from leprechauns, came home, watched some TV then trashed the kids' rooms. (Speaking of Bizarro world, St. Patrick's day is fun. You get to trash the kids' rooms and blame mythical creatures and they get happy about it.)

After watching a couple episodes of House Of Cards, we flipped off Netflix and landed on Saturday Night Live, something neither of us have watched in years. During the hour we watched, we laughed precisely twice, once at the fake Hobbit ad, and once again at the Weekend Update. Otherwise it was tragically bad. I mean, really, really bad. My son tells far better jokes on a daily basis. And those generally go something like this:

Owen: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Me: Why?
Owen: Butt.

The bar is very low. So the fact that adults who earn money to write for a storied late-night broadcast couldn't come up with anything funnier than Owen's ass-fixated jokes? Sad.

Both of these things taken together made me feel old. Before bed, I brushed my teeth and spent the Oral B mandated two minutes looking at myself. I have more lines on my face attributable to smiling than sadness. My hair is going gray at a steady rate but at least I still have hair. The bags under my eyes are ever-present but, hey, at least I can see them.

So it's not all bad. But still, the world feels a little wackier each time I try and look at it objectively. Luckily I don't do that much.

Posted by Chris at 9:56 AM | Comments (2)

Haiku For Monday #446

Launched into a work
day without first launching the
'ku. That kind of week.

Posted by Chris at 9:52 AM

March 15, 2013

The Weeklies #249

The Weekly Chant Heard 'Round The House. We're going to Disney.

The Weekly Explanation. Yes, we booked the inevitable Disney trip.

The Weekly Television. The Walking Dead has been a favorite of mine since it debuted. Last season was a little slow but this season sees a find return to form. There is not a more awesome, horrific, disturbing and compelling show on television. And I love it.

The Weekly Fish Fail. Chilean sea bass. Long story.

The Weekly Meat. Owen grabbed a hunk of sausage out of the fridge and made his own meat push-pop. It was really a sight to behold.

The Weekly Accomplishment. As mentioned on a previous episode of a Very Special Rude Cactus, I finished a Big Work Thing this week. It was a vast undertaking but here's hoping it paid off. Regardless, it's done.

The Weekly Word. Grownuppy. Usage: When you're done doing grownuppy things, let's play.

The Weekly Music. You've probably never heard of Biffy Clyro. You should. Their new album, Opposites, is the best album of 2013. I realize it's only March but I wholeheartedly believe that judgment will stick, that I'll be showing up here at the end of December writing about just how awesome an album it was, how it stuck with me through the year, and how it emerged as my top pick for the year. Sure, it's a double-album, but don't let that scare you. It's like a fantastic mix of the best parts of Foo Fighters, Snow Patrol and Frightened Rabbit peppered with a style that is uniquely their own. It is, quite simply, one of the most fantastic pieces of music I've heard committed to tape.

The Weekly Admission. I'll admit I was wrong. I didn't expect sequestration to last more than a week. Instead it simply seems that congress and the president don't give a shit. Huh.

The Weekly Question. Which is a bigger deal - new pope or Google shutting down Google Reader?

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (13)

March 13, 2013

Information Overload

My newsreader tells me that I have 23,340 articles to read across a wide variety of topics: music (2,004), news (10,803), technology (1,522), gossip (3,714), movies (875), books (557), TV (936), entertainment (1857), photography (1,029) and a host of unclassified nuggets of goodness.

My goodness that's a lot to read.

At some point in the day I will scroll through a good 10% of each of the most interesting topics (to me, music, news, technology and, perhaps, TV). Then I will get frustrated, feel slightly defeated an click the little mark all as read button, declare a news bankruptcy, and start again tomorrow.

Information is all ones and zeroes these days. When there's too much of it, you can delete it. Or simply file it away and collect it. Storage is cheap and small. Information can disappear and, if you choose to hold on to it, it doesn't rot in seven foot stacks in your living room hiding the fact that you have 27 cats and an odd addiction to formalwear from the 1930s.

Simply put, no one will ever film a television show about your addiction to data and loved ones will never hire a dumpster on your behalf. But that doesn't make it any less frustrating or overwhelming.

Now if you'll pardon me, I have 23,000 articles to read. Or ignore.

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (1)

March 12, 2013

Big Work Project

During the course of the last week, I've spent countless hours in conference rooms, missed countless meals with my family and reviewed countless drafts and models and revisions of countless documents.

The good news? As of 1:30 this morning, Big Work Project (BWP) is done. I can now have a life that exists outside the four walls of a stuffy conference room. Rejoice!

Posted by Chris at 7:37 AM | Comments (4)

March 11, 2013

Baseball Girl

Mia is a jock. She will play any sport and is generally good at whatever sport she tries. But there are two sports at which she's a natural. Swimming and baseball.

We signed her up for a baseball team yesterday then, because of the gorgeous day, went outside to see what she remembered from last year. As it turned out, quite a bit. Of the pitches dad doesn't screw up, Mia gets a piece of 75% of them. Catching is her weakness but we're working on it. Throwing, though, is not a problem. Standing 30 feet away she accurately winged practice balls at me with amazing accuracy and such strength that my hand is actually sore.

I'm tired of waiting for it to snow. Bring on spring...and baseball season.

Posted by Chris at 7:44 AM | Comments (2)

Haiku For Monday #445

One more day living
in a conference room and then
this project? Ovah!

Posted by Chris at 7:33 AM

March 8, 2013

The Weeklies: Missing!

We're sorry. The blog post you have attempted to read appears to be missing. This could be due to several reasons:

- The internet was finally overridden by cat videos
- Zombie apocalypse
- The author of said blog is extremely tired after a series of very long, grueling days at work.

We're guessing it's that last one but please pack a machette and stop uploading videos of your cat just in case.

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (2)

March 7, 2013

Golden-Haired Sleep-Laughing Boy

Owen did something last night that he hasn't done for months.

Beth and I were sitting in the living room, contemplating just what to do with the rest of the evening after having put our temporarily surly daughter to bed. Out of nowhere, we heard the sound of laughter. Not just regular giggling. No, balls-to-the-wall howling like someone had heard the best joke ever told while tickling his armpits and burping wildly.

It was Owen engaging in his old habit of sleep-laughing.

This used to happen far more often. A couple of days a week, an hour after Owen fell asleep, we'd hear him erupt in laughter. We'd visit his room and he'd clearly be 100% sound asleep, laughing his little white butt off. His eyes would open occasionally but he'd lapse into laughter again, still asleep. Some nights it would last for a minute or two, other nights fifteen minutes. The problem was it was contagious. We wouldn't laugh in our sleep, no, but we would crack up right alongside our sleep-laughing boy.

I'd almost forgotten about it until our golden-haired boy began howling in his sleep last night, smile on his face. I've got to think we're doing something right with the kid if he laughs in his sleep.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (6)

March 5, 2013

Rock Red Lobster

Owen's fondest wish in the entire world for three months running was to go to Red Lobster. Seriously. While Beth and I do eat fish from time to time, Mia is a tried and true vegetarian. There was nothing for her at Red Lobster. Beth is deathly allergic to shellfish. So, there was plenty to kill Beth at Red Lobster. So while the girls wrapped up their show and attended the after party, Owen and I ventured to Red Lobster.

Owen is all about meat. And the weirder the better. Of course weird is all relative and through the eyes of a five year old, weird happens to be squid, lobster, octopus, eel, seahorses and shrimp. Though he'd had shrimp numerous times he went with the popcorn shrimp. I went with the salmon and, when I learned that they had no lobster for kids, a lobster tail. Owen loved the shrimp but wasn't all that into the lobster. Which meant that I shoveled $30 worth of seafood into myself and lived to tell the tale (or, tail, depending on how you look at it).

Having kids is a study in contrasts. When we arrived at the restaurant, there was a 25 minute wait. We spent the entire time looking at the lobsters in the lobster tank. Because I want him to know where the stuff he's eating is coming from, I asked him what happens when people order lobster. They grab one of the lobster in this tank, cook it, and give it to people he said, very matter-of-factly. If Mia had been there she would have staged a revolt, conned some other kid into creating a distraction while she liberated all the lobsters and held the front door open for them.

Posted by Chris at 7:33 AM | Comments (5)

March 4, 2013

Leading Ladies

The two leading ladies in my life were on the stage this weekend, opening an original production of a musical for kids on Friday night and closing it on Sunday evening. Beth had lines and solo singing spots while Mia was the cutest animal ever to appear on stage. It was awesome but, at the same time, I'm pretty happy to have my family back.

See, shows involve rehearsals and rehearsals involve short family dinners and rushing out of the house as soon as forks are down. After-school activities only narrow the family-time window and increase the amount of stress and urgency. But last night - at least until the next show - that ended and we're one big happy family once again. And we can all get to sleep at a decent hour.

But of course, I won't be sleeping for the next two weeks since a giant work thing dropped on Friday (at 5:00 PM no less) which will consume my every waking moment. Fun times.

Posted by Chris at 7:40 AM | Comments (1)

Haiku For Monday #444

Holy crap, how is
it Monday already. Time
sure ticks by quickly.

Posted by Chris at 7:38 AM | Comments (1)

March 1, 2013

The Weeklies #248

The Weekly Photographic Awesomeness North Korea used to make you hand over your cell phone when you entered the country. No more. Jean Lee - the AP's Korean bureau chief started an Instagram account to share her shots of the rarely-seen North Korea. They're awesome.

The Weekly Cool Idea. What if you made a soccer ball that built up energy as you played with it? Then added a way to plug things - like lights - into it? Someone's done just that: Soccket

The Weekly Uncool Idea. The fact that sequestering has now gone into effect makes me lose just a bit of my hopeless optimism about people and politics.

The Weekly Music. I can't say enough good things about musician Steven Wilson. His latest album, The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) is simply brilliant as is the video made to accompany the release of the album's title track. I dare you to watch this and not be moved.

The Weekly Read. Last year I raved about Hugh Howey's Wool series. It was not only one of the best sci-fi series I've read recently but one of the best overall. While Howey closed that particular chapter, he has taken us back in time before the events portrayed in Wool. His second entry in this prequel series - Second Shift: Order is good but not nearly as compelling as the first Second Shift, and far less powerful than the Wool series as a whole. All that said, it's hard to go wrong with any part of Howey's series.

The Weekly Issue and Question. CEO Marissa Myers is now requiring all Yahoo teleworkers to return to the office permanently. There's a lot of debate around this. The questions are:
a) Will it help Yahoo?
b) Does it make any difference where people work?

Posted by Chris at 7:39 AM | Comments (4)