Sunday, December 19, 2010

This is Austin

We have been trying to get through this weekend, what with sick boys, Mrs. B completing 1st term grades, and all the pre-holiday madness. Today on the way home from helping a friend load an engine block into the back of her truck we saw a sight that pretty much sums up what Austin is all about. We were driving back home to have lunch and I was pointing out how well thought out the bike lane was on this portion of 620, highlighting how the group of cyclist were able to avoid getting "right hooked" because of the design. Then we saw it, or maybe I should say "them." Mrs. B was remarking how the group of cyclists were older, when we rolled by their leader.

He looks like your normal, happy, weekend warrior, and by all appearances he was, but he was also carrying along a friend. (At this point, I would like you to form a mental image of what this friend could look like before scrolling down.)
I bet you didn't see that coming. I know I didn't. The part of this story that makes it really funny is the fact that for about five miles we kept leap frogging the group trying to get a picture of the doggie co-pilot. After five failed attempts using the Iphone, we floored it to get home and get the Nikon. After rushing into the house to grab the camera, I set up on the corner near our house, that I figured they would pass. About thirty seconds later the group came around the corner with the lead dog out in front. By this point the guy was laughing pretty hard because we kept trying to get the picture.

I don't know who this guy was, but he obviously had been out for a pretty significant ride with the group. This guy is representing three of the things that make Austin such an awesome place to live.
1. Bikes - the ATX is the best bike town in America...especially this time of year (it was about 60 degrees when I took this picture at noon).
2. Dogs - dogs are everywhere in only seems fitting they are on bikes, as well.
3. Weird - by unbelievably finding a way to combine the previous two, he will also get a shout-out to the weird.

There is no question that Lance is the master of the bike, but I would wager he has never taken his favorite four legged friend for a spin like this.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Home with the Boys

I had an opportunity to spend the afternoon with the boys today. It was an unexpected surprise and we all made the most of our time together. After rushing home midday, we took Mrs. B to work and then came home for lunch. It was like feeding a Sarlacc, food was disappearing faster then I could bring out reinforcements. Between the 3 boys they polished off a helping of mac and cheese, 3 whole oranges, 2 bananas, nearly half a wedge of cranberry cheddar, 3 pieces of toast, and a couple of cookies each. The scary part of the whole thing was "the Boy" ate the least of anybody, I think the Twinkies would have kept on eating if I hadn't just stopped bring them food.

Everybody got a good nap and then we decided to "ride bikes" down to the park. What that really means is that "the Boy" rides his bike while I bring the Twinkies in the stroller. We headed down to do a little swinging.

"the Boy" likes to swing this way, but we did also swing "like Addie and Mina" (ie. sitting in the seat)
The Twinkies are quite content to be pushed for hours and were shivering by the time we left, but they were still both unhappy about having to stop.

Never short on adventure around this place, we ended the night with a bang (or maybe a plop). For the last three evenings one of the twin's has "released some hostages" while still in the bath. The first night, I caught it quick enough to grab Twinkie #1 and put him on the potty so he could finish his business, which he did without a problem. Last night Twinkie #2....well lets just say we had ourselves a Level 6 bio hazard once he was done, and everybody had to be thoroughly rewashed. The quote of the night was from "the Boy" who as we were rapidly removing him from the water said "He didn't make it to the potty tonight momma!" NO HE DID NOT.

Rather then face the possibility of Poop Soup for a third night, I just went the shower route, which everybody was very happy about. We made it all the way through an extended shower without incident, and I took Twinkie #1 to get his PJ's on while "the Boy" and Twinkie #2 finished picking up the toys. When I come back, Twinkie #2 is standing there with this big stupid grin on his face and a pile below him (SEE BELOW). I will admit I was tempted to grab the camera to document that grin, but my inner Mrs. B told me that wouldn't be such a good idea, so I had to settle for a picture once I got everybody clothed and safely away.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bikes and Kids......piece by piece

I am starting to wonder if I have undertaken a task that is way over my head because I don’t have the required knowledge. I hope that I am not the only father who feels this way when it comes to my parenting. I have been described as the human equivalent of the dog from the movie “UP”, I am passionate about lots of stuff, and I have absolutely no trouble jumping headfirst into a situation before I really understand or have even thought through the entire process, but I am also easily distracted.

My current headfirst venture is to build a commuter bike up completely from scratch and start riding it to work a couple of times a week. Up until this moment, my previous bike repair experience is…..(big empty silence)……..ya, that’s it….as I type this I am beginning to realize it sounds like an even dumber idea the more I talk about it. Building this bike is much like being a father, I don’t know what I don’t know, but I sure as heck am going to get it figured out as I go along. For each part that I add to the frame, the bike gets one step closer to completion, and each day I learn how to be a better father by taking the lessons previously learned and trying to avoid the same mistakes. Part by part this thing is going to come together. There are going to be mistakes, but like most mistakes that will arise whilst putting the bike together, with a little more practice and elbow grease we will get them worked out. Thankfully I have a highly knowledgeable friend who has constantly been offering advice on the bike construction (albeit from 2000 miles away…thanks AJ) and when it comes to fatherhood I have some wonderful examples (thanks Dad and Grandpa) and partners (the lovely and talented Mrs. B) to help support and inspire me. Building a bike and fatherhood are possible by yourself, but they are both so much more fun when done with fun people that you love and respect.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 15 - Brothers through and through

I guess the the Twin-kies are now old enough to head out in the trailer with their brother. They were a little uncertain, but all in all it was very well received. Now I just wished we actually had something we could actually pull all three around at the same time. Maybe I will just get a Madsen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 14 - Quickie

Tonight we had Open House at my school, and therefore I didn't get home until after 8:30. I gave consideration to not putting my bike time, but decided against it pretty quickly. Here are a couple of shots from the quickie around the block.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 13 - Parent Night and Teen Party

After getting everybody to bed tonight, I took the 'ol steel horse out for a ride around the neighborhood. My plan was to circle the neighborhood schools (two elementary, middle, and high school) before heading home via a different route. I was able to catch this sunset on the Iphone before heading out. On my 4 mile cruise through my little part of the world, I saw a number of interesting things.
  1. Apparently tonight was Open House for the entire neighborhood, because there were tons of cars at all of the schools.
  2. A church parking lot that was playing house music and had upwards of a 100 high school kids standing around and drinking Mexican soda.....just seemed a little weird for a Monday night.
  3. lots of neighbors outside talking
  4. maybe the best part of cruising around is the smell of all those BBQ grills cooking dinner
  5. I was also able to help a fellow citizen by giving directions, without ever slowing down.

Day 10, 11, 12 - Off the Bike

I know this is going to sound extremely lame, but the weekend was BBBBBUUUUUSSSSSSYYYYY and I never did have a chance go get out, even for a loop around the block on the bike. One of the things that I did find time to do this weekend was to go out and get a Surly Cross Check bike frame, that I am going to build up to a commuter bike. I loaded up all three boys during naptime, and proceeded to meet the guy in S. Austin. He was a full on MAMIL (middle aged man in Lycra) and he said that he had used the frame as a commuter bike. Judging from the excellent condition of the frame (not a nick on the thing) and the BMW the guy pulled the frame out of, I am guessing he found that riding his bike to his law firm just wasn't lawyerly enough. His loss my to love Craigslist.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 9 - Dove Bars and Football

Tonight is the kickoff of the "When will Brett Farve get hurt watch" and so to celebrate after dinner, I made a quick trip to the grocery store on my bike, to pick up some Dove Bars. I took this shot on the way back to the house.

I have been reading about fellow 30 Days of Biking participants and their chilly morning commutes up in the Land o' Lakes. I don't figure that at any point in September I am going to need my sweet Grenade gloves to keep my digits warm while riding, but I did try and find a use for them tonight. The Boy wanted to wear them and so I tried to bribe him to say in bed if he wanted to wear them......he said no...DANG.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 8 - Storm aftermath

After last nights wet and wild ride, I settled for something a little less exciting when I got home today. Pulling into the driveway, I noticed that Mrs B had taken the ankle-biters out to do some important errand. I dropped my bag and lunch dishes in the house and ran back outside to get some shots of the 'hood after the big storm (over 12 inches alone at our house). I didn't figure on a long ride, and since it wasn't even raining I just went without changing clothes.

Here is my cycling attire for today

Those 12+ inches of rain filled up the local lakes and watered my drought weakened flowerbeds (and all the weeds mixed in with the intended plants), but all that water also washed out the local trails.

The neighborhood drainage ditch also looked more like a creek instead of the usual mosquito breeding ground.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 7 - Tropical Storm be damned, I ride bikes.

"You can't go out tonight, it is pouring, thundering and lightning, and there is a tornado warning" those are the words Mrs B said as I was headed out the door to sneak in my 30 Days of Biking trip. Tropical Storm Hermine was not going to keep me from getting in my nightly ride. So for all you people out there who say you can't get out there and ride on a daily basis, if I can do it with a storm the size of Texas sitting right over my house so can you.

Post 3 mile loop in the torrential downpour

The eye of Hermine passed within 30 miles of my house (really not as impressive as it sounds) and brought more then 5 inches of rain so far, and it is still raining.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Movie Monday - Timer

Timer - We watched this little film with my sister and her husband Alex once we got all the kids to bed. It was a little rough around the edges in the quality, but I think the story was highly entertaining and provoked quite a bit of discussion once the movie was over. The general storyline of the movie loosely follows your standard romantic comedy, but with the addition of a science fiction element (timers that tell you when you meet your soul mate).

The best part of the movie was when it was all over, and we all talked about if we would get the timer or not. This is a good movie, but not a great one, you see the ending coming from fairly far off, but continue to hope that there would actually be a different outcome. If you are looking for a quick movie for date night this would be a good choice because it is available Instantly from Netflix. So this poses the question.

If you could know the exact moment you were going to meet your soul mate before it happened would you want to know?

Day 6 - Cool Down on a Busy Weekend

Well the extremely busy and fun weekend is coming to a close, and with getting my Honey-Do list from the weekend completed in just one day, I didn't get much of a chance to go out and spin the gears. Once we put the Twin-kies and the Boy to bed I hopped on the ol' steel horse and went off to explore new (to me) streets in my neighborhood. Here are a couple of shots from the ride.

Bringing New Meaning to the words "Wardrobe Malfunction"

We don't have many dresses in our house since this place is essentially a frat house, but when the cousins are here, dress up time takes on a whole new level of fun. The Boy really wanted to wear the purple dress to church.

The cousins already went home today, and as I am writing this the Boy looks over my shoulder and says "I am missing my cousins already" ----- I couldn't agree more.

Day 5 - Dare me. I dare you!!!!

With my sister in town for the long weekend, we are constantly finding new and inventive ways to do childish things. Over dinner we were talking about 30 Days of Biking and how the cousins and the Boy were pushing the weight limit of the trailer, not to mention my legs. In true sibling fashion she dared me to pull her around the block, figuring I would just refuse because I worried about the structural integrity of the trailer. NOPE. Just seeing her try and fold her six foot frame into that trailer was worth the $40 I spent at a garage sale for the thing. We made it all the way around the block without a problem, and even came up with another idea for a 30 Days of Biking event.

Here are a couple of the shots my sister took while riding in the trailer:

This the view from the trailer.....I am guessing at about this point, my sis is starting rethink this whole idea. Nothing says extreme fun like my giant butt and a bike trailer. Thankfully, if for some reason were in an accident and we both had amnesia my name is written right there on my first people.

Here is the passenger's self portrait.

Proof that we did actually ride that day, you can see me peddling and her riding along. For those of you wondering, that 100lb max that was listed as the safety limit is apparently flexible, very flexible.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 3 - Grocery Getter

Upon getting home from a very stimulating staff development (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek), Mrs B asked me to go to the local HEB and pick up a few things for dinner. Since traffic was backing up on the road to the store, I figured that I was just going to load up the Boy and head to the store with the bike. We made it there and back in about the same time it would have taken us in the car. We are going to be doing that more often, it was just too easy not to continue. Thank you #30daysofbiking for opening my eyes to this opportunity.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 2

I waited until the end of the day, and everybody else was fast asleep, but I still found 15 minutes to get out and cruise the hood in the dark. I certainly didn't mind the cooler temp's or quiet streets.

30 Days of Biking

The Boy could not be happier at the moment. I have finally got the bike up and running as well as the pull behind trailer we picked up at a garage sale last spring. The reason for this sudden completion of my biking to do list......30 Days of Biking. If you aren't familiar, the basic idea is that for the 30 days of September you commit to getting out and riding your bike, whether it be a 30 mile hill workout (which you would never find me doing) or riding to the grocery store to pick up those last couple of items before dinner (I plan and doing this) or just cruising around the block with the kid in tow (he's hoping for lots of this---and will probably get it). The boy and I have come to an understanding, as long as he doesn't wander into my room at 5am to chat, and instead waits until he hears the shower, he gets to go on a bike ride with me when I get home. It has worked for 2 straight nights.....I am hoping it continues.

The main reason I decided I wanted to give the 30 Days of Biking a shot was because I was sick of wishing that I lived in a bike friendly city like Copenhagen or Amsterdam. If Austin is ever going to get to that point, I need to get out on my bike. Although I doubt there are any group rides organized in Austin for 30 Days of Biking, I am going to do my part and get out there and start riding. My hope is to chronicle all 30 days with a photograph of some sort from my daily ride, it should be fun. Now if I could just figure out how to get Minnesota's September weather (cool mornings and mild afternoons) instead of Austin's (muggy mornings and stiflingly hot afternoons) we would really be in the business.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Movie Monday: Sin Nombre

Sin Nombre: This wasn't on the list of of 151 movies you need to see, but I think it should be. This is a beautiful movie for so many reasons. With out giving you to much information, this movie follows two different stories, until they eventually merge about halfway through the movie. The literal backbone of this movie is the rail system within Mexico, which is used by Central Americans as a way to get to the US border and by Mexican gangs as a way of taxing/bullying these travelers to support the gang both in and out of prison. The most striking part of this movie, to me, was the variety and beauty of Mexico as seen from the top of a moving train.

The storyline is very tight, and doesn't deviate often or for very long from the main story. The story actually mirrors the experience of riding on the train, on a fixed course and when there are deviations, they are just quick stop overs before hopping back on to the story before getting left behind. There aren't any surprises, but the inevitability doesn't take anything away from the outcome. Much like riding on the train, you know where you are going to end up with this movie, but like the characters of this story, you also realize the course as already been set.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stop Thinking and Just Parent

Amidst all of the potty training (2 yr old), crawling (twin 8 month olds), job changes (Mrs. B), and another school year starting (me), finding the time to enjoy the small joys of parenting has been even more elusive. Our summer consisted of three busy months, June where we traveled to see family, July where everybody was sick, and August where everything is always crazy with school starting up. By all accounts "the Boy" and Twin-kies did a great job dealing with all of the changes, and don't seem any worse for the wear. Through all of this "the Boy" did pick up one rather irritating habit. At about 5am every morning he would wake up, pop the child protector lock on his door and proceed down the hallway to our bedroom. He would then come in and want to converse. I know that some parents are completely okay with this arrangement, because they themselves are morning people. Mrs. B and I aren't those people.

Let me paint a little picture to show you how much we are NOT those people. For one whole school year, Mrs. B and I worked at the same campus and would often commute to work together in the morning. On most days, the most talking we did was to say goodbye when we got to school.....literally, just the words "Goodbye, I love you". People would ask Mrs. B what it was like to spend all that extra quality time with her husband, her response...."Quite, we don't talk". So needless to say, neither one of us is jumping out of bed to spend a little quality time with a child at 5am.

We tried all kinds of things to make this situation work:
  1. Bring "the Boy" into bed and let him finish sleeping with us---Outcome: Nobody sleeps, and I get kicked in the face 3 or 4 times an hour. FAIL
  2. "The Boy" sleeps on the floor---Outcome: "The boy" gets really comfortable sleeping on the decorative pillows, so comfortable in fact, he starts to show up earlier each night to sleep on the floor. FAIL
  3. SOOOOOO, we hide the pillows-----Outcome: "the Boy" comes into the room and can't find his pillows to make a comfortable bed on the floor, and proceeds to wake up parents to locate the missing pillow......FAIL
  4. Bribery - he would receive a play car if he stayed in bed until we came and got him----Outcome - at 5am he doesn't give two flips about a stupid car. FAIL
  5. Reason - we talking to him about being a big boy, and staying in his bed, he agrees that he is a big boy and that big boys stay in bed.....Outcome: I am having a discussion about being a big boy at 5am, at which time he doesn't really care about being a big boy. FAIL
Figuring I have presumably run through all of my possible options, outside of tying him the bed, I give up, for a night. The next day, whether from lack of sleep or a stroke of brilliance, I come up with one crazy idea that sounds completely stupid idea....but really how much worse could it get.

What if we moved him into the same room as his brothers, so that all three boys sleep in the same room.

The voice in the back of my head is screaming "now you will have 3 kids awake at 5am stupid" but why the heck not is my motto.

I proceed to explain to "the Boy" what the new plan is going to be, and he agreed (just like every other time) to stay in bed. And what do you know....he actually did. In fact the next night, when one of the Twin-kies woke up in the middle of the night and started crying, "the Boy" got out of bed and reached through the crib to pat his brother on the back, and then they both went back to sleep (this was all witnessed in the monitor, and confirmed the next morning when I went to get everybody up). It was a very proud moment as a father, I had conquered this little sleeping problem and the big brother was looking out for his little brother. When it comes to raising kids, sometime the dumbest idea has the sweetest result.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Potty Party

Two weeks ago we decided we were done changing full-on man-poops on The Boy and we embarked on our first potty training adventure. As I expect many of you with boys will attest, The Boy has the ability to use the potty, but actually taking the time away from playing to use the facilities just wasn't high on the ol' priority list. Through a hearty amount of bribery (2 candies for pee, and 1 Cars car for each successful poop) we are almost completely potty trained.

The pee thing took about 2 seconds, and I think outside of the first or second day, we haven't had an pee accident. The Deuce was a completely different story. From a parents perspective, it appeared that we were dealing with poop commando's who snuck up on The Boy without warning and sprung their attack. Mrs B and I just assumed that he was struggling to identify that feeling indicating he needed to do some business. That may have been a part of it, but last night I think we may have stumbled across the real issue.

The Boy was afraid that the poop was going to come out his penis....once Mrs B explained that the poop was actually going to come out his bum-bum, he settled right down and proceeded to successfully use the bathroom, on his own (wiping excluded) for the rest of the day. Holy Crap, was all I had to say, I would be freaking out if I thought that was actually possible. I guess it goes to show you shouldn't assume anything when it comes to potty training. The Boy no longer runs through the house proclaiming his bathroom intentions such as "The poop is coming out mama" or "I pee in the potty, now I get candddddyyyyyy," instead we know he has used the potty when we find him running around the house with both legs sticking out one leg hole of his underwear, that is if he actually has taken the time to put the underwear back on.

One down and two to soon is too soon to start with the Twin-kies? And this question for all those parents out there with potty training long am I going to be wiping butts?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Movie Monday: Despicable Me

Only had a chance to watch one movie this week, I had better step it up if I have any hope of getting through over 140 of these movies that I haven't seen. However, I do have a good excuse, we had friends in town, season finale of Friday Night Lights, and Starz great miniseries "Pillars of the Earth" (available on Netflix streaming). I do promise to step it up this week and watch at least two movies for next weeks review.

On to the one movie that I did actually see this week:

Despicable Me: We have never had a chance to take the Hays family to Austin's beloved Alamo Drafthouse for dinner and a movie. We rectified that problem on their visit this week. Since we were going to be taking the kids we went with Despicable Me (in 3D). Mrs B made all of the plans to make sure we could leave the Twin-kies at home and that The Boy would be able to attend the movie. I didn't see why this was such a big deal but apparently the Drafthouse had a very strict policy against kids (which I fully understand and embrace for the evening hours). Mrs B went ahead and made all of the arrangements and confirmed that we could in fact bring The Boy to an afternoon showing of Despicable Me. In my usual bung-headedness I found a way to screw that up. When we went early to order tickets I said two kids, which was fine, but asked if there was a different price for kids under 3 (i.e. The Boy), big no no.... Apparently Mrs B had talked to somebody else about bringing The Boy and didn't think it would be a problem. You would have thought that I was trying to smuggle in a pet monkey, because there was absolutely no movement on the no kid thing. Mrs B was only able to get free passes out of the deal, but no admittance for The Boy. Free passes in hand we just went to another Drafthouse in town, and I didn't tell them he was not three, and we got right in.

Now on to the actual movie. It was cute, but there really wasn't anything special about it. Not even the voice of Steve Carell could make this riveting stuff, don't get me wrong it wasn't bad, and there were some entertaining moments, but this would be just as funny on your home TV.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Movie Monday: Girl Who Played with Fire and Dinner for Schmucks

Just a little late getting this out this week, but thanks to the wonders of Google, I am able to make it look like I posted this story on time. It was a very busy week last week (more about that in another post), but I did get a chance to head out and see a couple of movies.

Girl Who Played with Fire - This is the second of three from Stieg Larsonn's Millennium Series. When we were in MN over the summer I had a chance to go and see the first one with Auntie E, who I got hooked on the books the previous Christmas. As luck would have it, Auntie E was in town to help install some damaged wood floors, and so we got the chance to see the second movie together as well. While waiting for the movie to start, we also checked with the third installment was going to be released in the US, and were very pleased to discover it would be release at Thanksgiving, now if we could just find a way to get Auntie E to come to paradise again around Thanksgiving.

The actual movie was just as satisfying as the first, and without doing any additional research, I would guess that the first and second (and possibly the third) movies were all filmed relatively close together. Both movies don't take anything away from the quality of the books they were based on, and do a great job of telling the story. Sure, there are some parts of the book that are left out entirely, but overall, the most important parts are all there.

One of the things Auntie E and I have appreciated about both movies, is the fact that the actors are all normal looking. You can guarantee when a US studio gets a hold of this, everybody will be pretty, and the acting will be average. There currently is a very disturbing rumor going around that Miley Cyrus is being considered for the lead character of Lizbeth.....are you kidding me....I guess all of those years being Hannah Montana have prepared her to be a bisexual, anti-social, violent Gothic chick who also happens to be brilliant. Where is Mystery Science Theater 3000 when you need them? Who is going to play Mikael, Howie Mandell?

Dinner for Schmucks: Funny, and I expect it only gets funnier if you watch it multiple times. I am sure I missed quite a few of the jokes. Steve Carell,as is commonly becoming the case, is genius . It is really weird when guy who looks like an accountant can elevate an entire movie they way he does again and again (40 Year Old Virgin, Date Night, Dan in Real Life). I don't believe The Office has much of a chance to be as funny without him, but I give it a shot next year.

Back to the movie, I really didn't have many expectations for the movie. I figured there would be funny parts, but also quite a bit of schlock. I am glad that I was wrong, because like a great thriller can make your heart race, a great comedy should make you peed your pants laughing or make you feel so uncomfortable for the characters you actually hate yourself for laughing. Dinner for Schmucks was definitely the second, although there were definitely a couple of moments weak bladders would worry about. In an interesting side note, the French movie that this movie was based upon is actually on that list of 151 Movies You Should See, so sometime this year, I will sit down and watch that one as well. It isn't often I would say this, but I really think the American version is going to be very difficult to beat (see above).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Movie Monday - Brick

Brick - I only had a chance to watch one movie this week because of sick kids and a busy weekend. The movie I was able to watch off the Netflix Instant Queue was Brick. I don't know how to explain it simply other then to say that it was a high school murder mystery set in the noir style. Of all of the movies off the 151 list I have seen thus far, this was my least favorite. Don't get me wrong, I did think it was a decent movie, it was just very difficult to get into, and stay with for that matter. I have a difficult time walking away from a movie after I have seen about 5 minutes, regardless of whether I have seen it before or not, but Brick is definitely a movie that you need to watch from the very beginning, and if you started watching it in the middle you would flip the channel within that 5 minute window and never get hooked.

On a similar note I am assuming this movie was shot in California, and the location or maybe the content kept reminding me of the Showtime show Weeds (which Mrs B and I both love). Brick and Weeds both do a wonderful job of making California communities seem extraordinarily ordinary, as if there isn't thoughtful planning put forth to make each community different from the one just over the hill, maybe that is actually the point.

Getting back to the movie, if you like noir style movies, seeing it done in a high school setting is interesting, but I don't know that it achieved the full effect for me personally. If somebody else has actually seen this movie, I would be interested in your thoughts on the movie.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Biking....and sitting on your ass.

I am not sure if this little news blurb slipped past you this week, but if it did, I have actually had conversations with a number of people regarding the findings. The study followed people for 13 years and discovered that sitting for long periods of time actually has a negative effect on your long-term health. Your saying to yourself right shit Sherlock, you mean if I sit on my ever expanding fat American butt I might die early, I am shocked. That was pretty much my thoughts as well.........then came the shocking part of this study. If you spent more time sitting, EVEN if you had a normal workout schedule, you were still more likely to have major health problems then those individuals who didn't spend as much time on their butts. This got me thinking about all of those people with a job spent sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen. Thankfully my job involves lots of moving around and I rarely spend more then 15 minutes sitting before having to rush out to solve the latest mystery of who has been writing swear words on the bathroom walls or who has decided to poop in the urinal instead of the toilet (anybody who also works in a school knows this happens more then you would think - ever time this happens I just laugh to myself at what that would actually look like if somebody walked in on the phantom pooper).

As many of you know, I harbor an unhealthy (or after this study, a healthy) obsession with all things European, if I was being more specific, Northern European and Scandinavian life, from the Dutch and German obsession for football, to the design aesthetic and simplified living style of Scandinavia, and especially the robust bike cultures in all of these areas. I saw this video by Streetfilm and then proceeded to spend the next 3 hours wishing I lived in a place like Copenhagen. Then this morning, I was reading about the price of gas around the world, and realized why people in Copenhagen are always on their bikes (or public transportation), if I wanted to put 16 gallons in the 'ol Pilot (or minivan - to whom that may apply) it would cost me about $110. That would make me pick up a bike pretty darn quick, it would also force me to look at where I live in relation to my work. I have considered riding my bike to work at least once per week, but there literally isn't a path I could take that wouldn't require at least 3 miles of unprotected (translation - no shoulder) highway riding. At this point in my life, I am not willing to place my life at risk just to ride my bike to work.

Therein lies the dilemma, do I die young because I sit on my butt during the day, or do I die because I get run over by a truck carrying 3 tons of fill gravel. From all appearances, the people of Copenhagen, don't have to worry about getting run over by a gravel truck.

Just this week, London began a project to create "Bike SuperHighways" from all parts of the metro area, which lead downtown. I also like this idea, but if you don't work downtown this particular plan would not be as beneficial.

All of this bike talk has me lusting after a couple of bikes, and here are a couple of my favorites.
The Public D3 with its orange paint job would fit be a perfect fit in Amsterdam or Austin as the description from the website points out - The PUBLIC D3 is an easy-shifting three-speed bike adequate for most cities or topographies where steep hills or strong headwinds are not a part of the daily riding, i.e. suitable for New York or Austin.
This is the description from the website for the BF18 cargo bike - The BF18 is car free family transport at the height of its evolution. Take your kids to Tee-Ball practice and stop to pick-up their little teammates on your way. Drop them off and head to the park for some Frisbee with the family pup or go shopping, and don’t be shy about loading up! Rain or shine, the BF18’s comfort, stability and safety will open up your world to the joys of a truly car free family lifestyle.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Movie Monday - Shadowboxer

As I am reviewing my experiences with the movies, I think I need to create a rating system for those movies I have reviewed. If you have any suggestions, I would be open to hearing what you think.

Shadowboxer - Another movie of the 151 list. I thought this was a very intriguing movie in parts, but it was also very disturbing a number of times and for a number of reasons. The movie's two main characters are Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren, who are hitmen and lovers (but also share a mother/son bond) who get caught up in a chance at redemption. The director lets the camera and actors help tell the story through acting rather then word, the dialogue is more limited, but the story is told regardless. Although the ending of Criminal was surprising it didn't leave you much to talk about, Shadowboxer kept rolling around in my brain well after the movie was over.

Zombieland - Definitely a movie that I was was going to watch without Mrs. B around.....she isn't the biggest fan of zombie movies - scary or otherwise. Zombieland is definitely not scary, but it is highly entertaining. It is a burger movie, one where you enjoy it while watching it, but 10 seconds after finishing, you have already forgotten nearly everything about it. Zombieland is very, very entertaining, there aren't many dull parts, and Woody Harrelson is perfect in his role. Bill Murray also makes a hilarious cameo appearance that is reason enough to watch the movie.

Hors de prix (Priceless) - Following another wonderful Friday dinner with the Huddleston's, Mrs. B and I returned home, put the kids to bed, and settled in for a stay at home date night. Priceless is a French language film that stars Audrey Tautou (Amelie) as a gold digger searching for somebody who can pamper her for the rest of her life. She meets Jean, played by Gad Elmaleh, who she mistakes as a possible target, but doesn't realize that he is actually the barman from the hotel, until it is to late. Unlike Amelie, Tautou spends nearly 3/4 of the movie making you not like her. In fact you just feel bad for Jean for most of the movie, partly because of her, but also because he plays the "lost puppy" so well. Regardless of how spoiled Tautou's character acts, she spend the entire movie looking smoking hot, even Mrs. B pointed this out at the end of the movie. The rest of the movie is a romantic comedy, but isn't as predictable as most of them end up being. If you are looking for a date night movie that doesn't include Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock, or Matthew McConaughey this may be right up your alley. In the end, we both very much enjoyed the movie.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Long PTSD road may have gotten shorter.

Last week there was a very significant change in how the government is going to respond to soldiers who claim to be suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Regardless of your political leanings, this is an action that has needed to happen for a long-time and should be applauded. Previously, soldiers had to provide details of a specific event(s) which lead to PTSD, and without this documentation, were not able to receive the full benefit of treatment. Under the rule change, soldiers now just have to be diagnosed with PTSD, without providing documentation of an actual event on the battlefield that caused the condition. One of the concerns raised was the increased cost of treating additional patients along with the increased chance of fraud. Surprisingly, there are still members of Congress who have found a way to oppose this:
At a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee hearing Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colorado Spring) said “he was concerned that changing the combat veteran definition could result in a reduction of benefits overall, and that ‘too loose’ a definition could diminish the sacrifices of those ‘who actually did engage in battle with the enemy,’”
Rep. Lamborn's position is a sad example of putting politics before people. For him to say that "the sacrifices of those ‘who actually did engage in battle with the enemy"" would be diminished, is a slap in the face to all the service men and women who have fought for his freedom to say stupid stuff. Our soldiers serve our country with honor and dignity, and considering many are risking their lives daily, don't we owe them the respect to assume they will conduct the rest of their lives with honor and dignity.

I am not so naive as to believe every future claim of PTSD is going to be legitimate, but I am going to suppose nearly all of them will be warranted. If 99 people are able to get the help they need, and 1 person is out to "game the system" isn't that still worth the cost in the end, even if that ratio goes down to 90% or 80% people helped, that benefit is still worth the cost.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Movie Monday - Criminal, Predators

While at my parents house, I picked up 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen by Leonard Maltin. I have seen lots of movies, and was pretty confident I would have seen a number of the movies on the list. I had........four, to be exact. I was figuring the over/under would be somewhere closer to 15 or 20, but in reality, I had only heard of about 20 of the movies.

If you haven't noticed, I have started to broaden the focus of the blog to more then just a family report blog. Sure you are going to still get lots of stuff on what life is like for the Baker's, including pictures, but I would like to let my brain loose to do a little more rambling. The Maltin book has given me a perfect opportunity to write numerous times on a chosen theme, in this case movies. Starting today, I am going to chronicle my movie viewing from the previous week each Monday. Movies will come from the 151 movies listed in the Maltin book, but also other movies we/I see in the theater.

After spending about two hours putting nearly all of the movies from the 151 list into my Netflix
queue, I am now ready to sit down and start watching. Of the 151, a couple weren't available through Netflix (problem for another day), 31 were available Instantly (this is why we don't need cable) and the remainder were available for normal delivery.

Week of July 4th movies:
Criminal: I figured I would start with the movies in the instant queue first, since they would be the easiest to access. Mrs. B wasn't into watching a movie, so I picked one I didn't figure she would be interested in watching. Criminal starring John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, and Maggie Gyllenhaal is a swirling caper where you never quite know who is in control and who is being played. At 87 minutes it is very neat and tidy and doesn't waste your time.

Predators: Went to this movie because I just needed a little mindless, explosion-filled fun after spending 12 hours in the car with two crabby babies, a whiny two year old, and my lovely wife. I had absolutely no expectations for this movie.......and in the end was thoroughly satisfied.

Explosions - check
needless violence - check
more bullets fired then words spoken - check
surprising (yet slightly predictable....can't believe I didn't see that before now.....twist) - check, check, check

This isn't a movie your WAG is going to fully appreciate so don't waste your $10, go see it as a man-date, by yourself, or wait until it comes out on DVD (for those nights she heads to bed early).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bubbles with Papa

As we wrapped up "Road Trip '10" we have really started to slow down when it comes to doing vacation things. Instead of rushing out to go and do something, we have taken to sitting around and reading, taking longer naps, and enjoying good conversation over the dinner table.

With only a day to go before we pack everything up and return to the steamy heat of the ATX, we took an extra long time to enjoy dinner at my parents. Thankfully, Springfield was experiencing some unseasonably cool weather, and we were able to sit outside for a number of evenings. Considering that "the boy" and his cousins are not into sitting for more then 4 minutes, eating outside means that everybody can relax and not worry about crabby kids.

On this night, bubbles were a big hit (who doesn't love bubbles), as Papa or Mrs. B took time away from eating or conversing to blow massive bubbles for the kids to run and pop. A year from now, Papa is going to have his hands full, because he will then have 6 grandkids running around trying to pop bubbles. He had better start resting up now, because that may require an olympic level of energy just to keep everyone happy and entertained.

One bubble, three cousins, endless joy.
Got one!
The anticipation is killer!!!
Bubbles are a joyous thing
All Gone!!!!