Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Funny

It’s been a while since I’ve put up a Friday Funny, but I came across this site today that struck me as truly brilliant.

I remember being in 7th grade, when there was a relatively new comic strip called “Garfield” that everyone thought was so great. Okay, even I did. But it didn’t take long for the jokes to wear off, and it crossed from “great” to “why are they still publishing this?” in what seemed like the blink of an eye. To this day, I am flummoxed at the fact that it generally receives near top-billing on most comics pages. (I just love using the word flummoxed!)

A recent discovery has been made however, that turns the continuing presence of Garfield into a good thing. It’s called Garfield Minus Garfield, and consists of, as you may have guessed, Garfield strips with Garfield taken out. From the intro to the site, this new format allows us all to take…

a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb

And it makes excellent use of the crutch Garfield has relied on for the past several years, where instead of actually being funny, they draw Jon in grotesquely exaggerated poses. Take away the cat, and suddenly you see a completely neurotic hermit who talks to himself.

Enjoy browsing through his world. And Jon, we’re not laughing with you, we’re laughing at you.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

He Shoots, He Scores!

Tyler capped off his birthday weekend with a basketball game... And he was so tired he could barely keep his eyes opened! (all night "sleepover" with three friends, then up at 8:30 for an hour at the bounce house, some Wii Sports, and finally the game. Yeah, he was tired...)

But he did get fouled on his way to taking a shot, which led to the sweet foul shot you see here:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Looking Out My Window

After all the days this winter that have been miserable, cold, windy, rainy or any combination of those, this week has been mostly gorgeous. And that’s despite the forecasters telling us that every day is the last nice day. When I woke up this morning, they were saying we would have rain, with partial clearing late this afternoon.

I love it when they’re wrong!! It’s so beautiful out right now that I decided to take a few shots to document it, you know, for those other days, when it’s anything but nice. First, this is looking out my window. Literally, looking through the window, you can even see a smudge or two…

Then I went to the conference room and opened the window for a clear shot across the bay. And it was really hard to close the window and come back to my desk after that!

Keeping Up Just Got Easier

Life is busy!

What with jobs, kids, church, school, wholesome recreational activities, errands, tasks, and all the other stuff that consumes our waking hours it can get rather difficult to remember to check in on your favorite Brinkerhoff Family Blog. (Or this one, if we're not your favorite...insert sad face)

But now keeping up is easier than ever! To receive an email whenever a new article is posted to the blog, just send an email to and you'll be notified whenever we do anything noteworthy here.

We love to hear that people have been reading about our lives, and the joy when those same people take the extra step and leave a comment just about pushes us to our joyful limit! Keep it up!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Double Digits!

The last time Tyler was featured on the blog, he was battling a nasty bacterial infection and was hospitalized for a week. This time, it’s something much happier – As of a few hours ago, Tyler is the last of our kids to reach the double-digit landmark.


So Cool

Back on February 26, 1979, there was a Total Solar Eclipse that was not only visible from North America, but from right here in Washington. This is one of the times where it totally paid off that my dad was an engineer, because he felt it was important enough to take the whole family over to the east side of the state to get a better view of it. I never knew until today when I researched it a little bit, but he took us pretty close to the optimal viewing location! (click here for a NASA map showing the eclipse path crossing through SE Washington) At the time, I thought it was great to not only miss school (it was a Monday), but to also get to see something that I was told wouldn’t happen again for many years.. I didn’t even remember how many years, because it seemed so far off. I looked it up today, and the next Total Solar Eclipse viewable in the NW United States is going to be in 2044. THAT made me even more appreciative of my dad’s dedication to exposing his kids to cool scientific stuff.

I still vividly remember standing out in the barren desert with my grandparents and several aunts, uncles and cousins, all of us using our special sunscopes (cardstock with a round hole and a mylar sheet in the middle) anxiously waiting for the eclipse to happen. When it did, the shadow of the moon came sweeping across the land, like nothing I’ve ever seen before or since… And the sun hung there in the sky, all blacked out except for a glorious corona around the blacked out center. It seemed to stay that way for a really long time, but according to Wikipedia, it was just under three minutes. Then the moon started to shift to the right, and a few minutes later the shadow swept out as fast as it had come in, leaving a disappointingly regular winter day in the desert.

When we got back to my grandparents’ house, one of the local TV stations was running video of the eclipse, with the brilliant corona looking just like it had in real life, only smaller. The rest of the day had that let-down feeling of Christmas day after all the presents have been opened and played with… especially since we had to get back in the van and drive home for school the next day. It was pretty cool being the only kid in my class who got to see it in person though! And like I said, now knowing that the next one is still 36 years away, I’m even more awe-struck that I got to be there.

All of which leads me to last night’s lunar eclipse. Seems like they’re much more common, but still very cool. And despite hearing news reports from all the national outlets bemoaning that weather conditions were going to render it invisible, in my little corner of the world, we had crystal clear skies, and the blood-red moon was hanging right off our front porch! I took a few pictures, and learned that I really need a tripod to do any serious night sky photography… So here’s the best of the pics, I’m sure it’s not as nice as the ones elsewhere on the web, but hey, that’s because I took it!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Little Dresses for Pretty Little Girls

That’s a picture of my niece. That beautiful dress she’s wearing was made by my sister Susan. Susan’s been making little girl dresses pretty much forever, and has definitely refined her skills to where I doubt anyone actually makes a nicer dress.

This is a good thing, because Susan just opened up an online shop to sell her creations to the public at large. It’s only just started within the past day or so, so there aren’t many dresses up to buy yet, but I talked to her and she hopes to expand her catalog quickly.

Good timing, huh? Easter’s coming, little girls always need pretty dresses for Easter… and now you can get a hand made dress from my very own sister.. Definitely a win!

You can check out her shop, Twiddlesticks,

There's a larger gallery of her work on my niece's blog, here. (it's her daughter pictured above)

Monday, February 18, 2008

When Exaggeration Isn't Enough

Here’s the Bloom County rerun that ran yesterday. It’s originally from 1983, and concludes a sequence in which Binkley was dreaming he’s a Jedi Knight. I’m sure that at the time, Berke Breathed thought he was being preposterous – for comedic effect – by implying that the Star Wars saga wouldn’t be complete until 1998… And that was when the word on the street was that there were going to be 9 installments… So, in retrospect, knowing that George didn’t even start them back up until 1999, this strip made me laugh instead, at the innocence of the past…

New, but Not Improved

Cindy and I have developed a rather strong love/hate relationship with Costco over the past year or two... The love part is the same thing everyone loves about Costco - great prices on quality merchandise, and the smug ability to say "I got it at Costco... Oh? You don't have a Costco membership?? Pity..." Well, OK, not so much the smugness, but pretty much all Costco members agree that there is a lot to love.

However, I'm willing to bet that there's also a growing population that has been having the same problem that we do... Basically, as soon as we get hooked on a product, it either disappears completely, or is replaced by another product that is similar, but different enough to NOT be what we want.

A few examples:
  • For centuries (or at least several years) Costco had a big plastic bear shaped container filled with animal crackers that were tasty, and at a really good price. Since we have a daycare running in our house, that was a regular purchase, and the kids loved them at snack time. About a year ago, it was replaced with Winnie the Pooh Organic Animal cookies. The jar is about 1/3 the size of the old one, yet the price stayed the same or went up. On the plus side, the new cookies are organic, and are crazy delicious, so we grumble softly and buy 'em anyway.
  • Another long standing Costco staple, especially with the Daycare in mind, was their big ol' case o' PopTarts. Half brown sugar cinnamon, half strawberry, all frosted, all insanely full of yum. Unfortunately, the non-organic nature of PopTarts caught up with them, and Costco replaced them with a smaller box of Nature's Path Toaster Pastries, or some other completely un-fun name for un-good tasting poptart wannabes. Hoping for similar results that the cookies had, we bought them. The kids were NOT amused. The garbage filled up with toaster pastries with one or two courtesy bites taken from them. Oh, and the price stayed the same or increased slightly.

Which brings us to the real reason we're having this little informal chat...

The bottle on the left is likely recognized by everyone out there. It's the store-brand shampoo that Costco has carried pretty much since the beginning of time. The bottle on the right is, you guessed it, the new version. On first glance, I thought they pulled their usual "new, smaller packaging" trick, but despite the different shape, the new bottle still holds 40 ounces of shampooey goodness. Well, minus the goodness. Let's review what we have always known about Costco's generic shampoo:
  • Smells Good, like Shampoo Should
  • Leaves hair feeling clean and fresh, for bouncin' & behavin' hair

The new version has the following attributes:

  • Smells like play-doh. Oh there are shampoo overtones, but it smells like play-doh.
  • Leaves hair feeling stripped, like you're in the Tri-Cities without a water softener.

Way to go, Costco. At this rate, there are so few things we really like about you, we're considering not renewing our elite membership, and just doing our bulk shopping at Cash 'n' Carry. I mean, even Fred Meyer's been beating your gas prices on a regular basis!

Oh, almost forgot. There is still one thing the two Shampoos have perfectly in common:

Don't leave them unattended in the upper reaches of your shower, or they'll decapitate themselves while you're rinsing the lather from your hair!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love Is In The Air

I came home from work today to the best Valentine's Day ever! When I went to go into my room to change into my comfortable, non-work clothes, I found my doorway covered with homemade Valentines from my lovely wife!

Beyond the curtain of Valentines was a box of chocolate-covered applets and cotlets, my most recent Woot Shirt which came today (I'm planning a whole article about the wonder that is the Woot Shirt!) and my extra special Valentine from Cindy. Already, a strong contender for Best Valentine's Day Ever!!

Meanwhile, out in the dining room, the table was done up with a nice tablecloth, Cindy's grandma's fancy china, and a centerpiece that I could REALLY appreciate:

Yep, green M&M's and chocolate covered cherries! (the really good, liquid filled kind) To go along with that fabulous table, Cindy prepared steak, crab legs, rosemary fingerling potatoes, and steamed broccolli. That did it - Best Valentine's Day Ever!!

I love you Cindy, thank you!! I'm looking forward to many, many more!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

She has a dream!

Tonight was the "Winter Musical" at the elementary school, and Kaylee landed the female lead part... Which included her singing a solo, on the last verse of the opening production number... How did she do? Very well, thank you! See for yourself!

She also had several spoken lines, and I'll get them up, but it's bedtime so for now, enjoy Kaylee's dream!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What comes around goes around

I love music! It's a passion. It's been a career. It's been a hobby. Through various stages of my life, music has been a constant, and the soundtrack in my head never stops. Like, ever. Even when I want it to.

So where did this passion come from? I'm sure to an extent, I was born with it. But being born with something is really just saying there's a tendency, a preference for the thing in question. In order for it to grow into a self-defining attribute, it needs to be nurtured. For me, that nurturing came from many sources, but none so meaningful as my uncle Richard. My dad's second-youngest brother, Richard is the same age as my oldest sister. As a result, his relationship with me more one of big brother than of uncle - he was like my big brother who happened to live at my grandparents' house.

And I remember so clearly, when we'd head east for a holiday weekend or any other occasion, pulling up in front of that little green house in Richland, and as soon as we were inside and the greetings were out of the way, I'd make a beeline to Richard's room to see what new records he had acquired since my last visit. Not only did he have a great collection, he worked at the local radio station, and got cool promotional copies, sometimes even in duplicates, and he was very generous about giving me the extra copies. My favorite of those hand-me-downs was a 45 of ELO's "Sweet Talkin' Woman" on purple vinyl. He also took me with him to the station, where I got my first taste of the back-end of Radio. With that taste still lingering in my mind, I became music director at my high school radio station (KASB-Bellevue) and then went on to my proudest (professional) accomplishment, the Friday Night PartyZone (1993-2001 RIP) on Seattle's C-89.5 FM.

Richard also gave me my first experience of playing in a band. He was putting together a band for a church talent show, and I was brought in to play one-finger keyboard basslines... By the time the show happened, I was also singing a duet ("Leather and Lace") and playing a sax solo ("Old Time Rock & Roll") and playing drums ("You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Desperado"). We got the same group together a couple more times, and I always loved it. That transitioned into my being on the worship team at Champions Centre, where I regularly played drums, played bass and led several hundred kids in praising God. One of my favorite moments there was last September when Richard & Dorothy came and watched me sing, and I got to introduce him to the rest of the guys in the band.

And yet, with all those pivotal, inspirational experiences that Richard gave me, I don't think he ever intended to, or thought that he was doing anything special. He was just being him, which is always how he is. But to me, he's been an amazing influence at all the different stages of my life. Thanks, Rich, for everything!

But what inspired me to spill out this long-winded monologue about his many virtues? My own nephew Donald (aka The Donald) put a post on his blog this morning that totally gave me vertigo as I read that I helped shape his musical experiences in a similar way to how Richard had shaped mine. Donald's trip down memory lane took me on my own, and I hope that someday Donald reads that he has been powerfully influential to someone else.

Oh, and in case it's not perfectly clear, that picture at the top is a giant boombox robot destroying a city with the sounds of awesome.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Even better because it's real!

As I mentioned a week or two ago, I am a fan of Guitar Hero.

However, even while I'm playing it, there's an accute awareness that all I'm really doing is pushing buttons, not actually playing guitar... And since I'm "somewhat learning" to play guitar in real life, the Guitar Hero thing actually feels somewhat hollow, like even though I'm having fun, I should be doing something that will actually help me on the real guitar.

There's a solution coming, and it looks completely awesome. Witness Guitar Rising:

Of course, it's not out yet, so I'll have some time to shred on the fake guitar a little longer...

Monday, February 04, 2008

A New Twist On An Old Favorite Game

Word of an injury sure spreads fast! Cindy's ankle/foot (and assorted accessory injuries) caused us to miss church yesterday, which meant lots of phone calls to make sure she was OK. Our bishop's wife brought us dinner tonight - pretty sweet, since I normally cook dinner during the week anyway - and Cindy had several other visits and/or offers of help throughout the day.

After dinner, we were chillin' (OK, I was playing on the Wii) when there was a knock at the door... which almost always means that our missionaries were dropping in - yep, it was them! They came by to see if Cindy needed any help... and to hang out. (I'm pretty sure we're THE place for fun hanging out in our ward!)

Anyway, I can't really even remember how it came around, but one of them (Elder Richins) asked if we'd ever played "Speed Scrabble". Nope, none of us had ever even heard of such a thing.

But now that we have, I don't think I'll ever go back to slow scrabble!! Heck, I won't even capitalize slow scrabble anymore - Speed Scrabble all the way!! And as an astute Keeper Up With The Brinkerhoffs, you can get in on the action too. (You + Today = Your Lucky Day!)

So you put all the tiles face down in the middle of the table, then everyone draws four tiles, keeping them face down. When everyone's ready, flip them over and make a word or two... The goal is to use all four tiles. Whoever reaches that goal first knocks on the table, and everyone takes four more tiles. The cycle repeats, with whoever is first to use all their letters knocking, until there aren't any more tiles left in the middle.

When the final round ends, everyone adds up the letters in their words, subracts points for any extra letters they still have, and the winner of that round (who knocked to end the game) gets a ten point bonus.

You can play to a certain point level, or a certain number of rounds. It's incredibly fun, and I managed to beat the master at his own game. Looking forward to playing again soon!!

The Best Of Both Worlds

We have an eleven year old girl in our family. That means that when we heard about the new Hanna Montana 3-D Concert movie, we knew we had to go. And just for fun, we brought along the rest of the family and a couple friends... (Andy was more than happy to give up his ticket - in his own words, "Oh, I know the songs. I just don't like them.")

So here is the gang - minus me, taking the picture, in line for the opening night show last Friday night!

What you can't see in the picture is how close we came to missing it all together.

It wasn't a matter of tickets, we'd bought them weeks in advance. We bought them for the 6:30 show, which required a delicately orchestrated plan: I would leave work a little early to go get Tyler for the weekend, Cindy would have a friend cover for the last hour of the daycare, and we'd meet up around 5:30 at the theater in Auburn.

All was going according to plan, I was just pulling in to Tyler's mom's driveway when my phone rang. It was Cindy - I thought she'd be calling to say that she was on her way and everything was great. Instead, she said that she had fallen down stairs at the school, and had quite likely broken her foot.


There's not much that's as frustrating as having your wife injured while you're far enough away to be completely unable to help. So I grabbed Ty and headed for home, calling the theater on the way to see if they'd be willing to swap our tickets for a later show. Long (and frustrating) story short, they did! Cindy got out of urgent care with an inconclusive x-ray, and the doctor promising a 95% chance that her ankle is NOT broken, and we headed up for the 9:45 show. Made it! And Li'l Miss Cyrus puts on a heck of a show... The manager of the theater came out before it started and reminded us all that it IS a movie, so you still can't take pictures, block the aisles, etc... But that it is also a concert, so you CAN get up and dance, sing along, scream, etc.

Kaylee's voice is still raspy. Them Jonas Brothers were more than she could handle...

Good times, and Cindy survived. Though she slept all day Saturday as her body began rebuilding itself...

It's funny because it's true

As always, click the picture for full size...