Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Disgusting, Nasty, Wish-I-Could-Just-Call-The-Landlord-And-Have-Him-Deal-With-It-But-Oh-Crap-I'm-The-Landlord, Plumbing.
Pretty much all the problems we've had with our house have been plumbing related.
I'm getting fairly good at it, but MAN do I hate it.
Last night I spent three hours up to my armpits (no, literally) in black, nauseating sludge.
My DJ equipment had the misfortune of being directly underneath the source of the sludge, and was liberally splattered.
Tonight I am praying for no more plumbing issues.
Monday, April 28, 2008
The concept of falling asleep to music has always appealed to me, but it's never really worked very well. I have a REALLY hard time just passively listening to music. I'll try to, try to just drift off... but even if it's something I've heard a million times before, there's always something that keeps my mind actively listening to it, keeping it from blending into the background. I've even got a couple CDs specifically made for relaxing/sleeping, to the extent that there's a warning printed on the cover to not listen while driving. They've proven highly successful over the years - even The Donald was rendered unconscious as a result of this particular disc! But not me. I make it through to the very end, and usually wind up more frustrated than relaxed because I just can't let go of my awareness of the music. Cindy has no such problem, and loves falling asleep to music... usually only lasts a few minutes before she's out. So for the past several years, we'd frequently put music on at bedtime, I'd TRY to sleep while listening, and when she was good and deeply sleeping, I'd get up and turn it off.
Then a few months ago, I picked up the latest album by ATB. ATB is a dance artist that I played regularly during my days of producing the Friday Night PartyZone on Seattle's C-89.5 FM. The first several hits were instrumental dance, and were often featured during the last hour of my show, which I'd nicknamed "The Ambient Hour". Turns out ATB is a guy named Andre Tanneberger, and he is very skillful at making very melodic, richly textured musical masterpieces that you can dance to. His latest album, "Trilogy" is a 2 disc set... The first disc is right along the lines of the music I had come to know and love, with a few surprisingly good vocals thrown in, and even a couple slower songs for added variety. After a few days with disc one, I put in disc two, and realized that it would be an excellent disc to put Cindy to sleep with!
A few nights later, as we were getting ready for bed, I pulled up disc 2 on the Zune, set the volume at a "fall asleep" level, and waited to see if it worked like I thought it would. Yep, she crashed somewhere during the second or third song. I was impressed that it worked that well, and was even more impressed at how GOOD the music was. And then an amazing thing happened - I was listening, thoroughly enjoying it, and the next thing I knew, my alarm went off. I HAD SUCCESSFULLY FALLEN ASLEEP WITH MUSIC PLAYING!!
A couple nights later, we were going to bed, and Cindy asked why there wasn't any music playing.. In truth, I was a little bit nervous that lightning wouldn't strike twice, but I turned it on again, and again, didn't make it to the end of the album. After a few nights of this, I put together a playlist of similar music from other artists, and it failed miserably. It was a return to my normal actively-listening-and-unable-to-drift-off mode. Next night, back to Trilogy's Disc 2, and the magic was still there.
The best thing about this, is that as our kids are getting older, and staying up doing homework and other things late into the night, I have found it nearly impossible to go to sleep until I know they're sleeping as well. Having my magic, non-prescription sleeping music has saved me from countless hours of tossing and turning! I certainly can't claim that it'll work like that for everyone, but for me, Mr. Tanneberger has provided a highly valuable service!
I've decided to start a (hopefully) weekly feature on the music I like. Music Monday will cover an artist, an album, a genre or even an individual song each week for as long as I can keep it up!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The problem with the Grinch was that it nearly always aired on one of two days:
- My Birthday (December 15)
- The night of the Church Christmas Party (floated, but occasinally landed on my birthday too)
Many years these events would conspire, and prevent us from seeing the Grinch's small heart grow three sizes that day. But one year, one magical year, on the day before the ward Christmas party, Dad came home with the most bizarre looking device I'd ever seen. It was called a "Video Tape Recorder", and supposedly let you ... record ... what was showing ... on ... TV. Now just to be clear, this predated VHS and Beta, and was some wierd smaller-than-either-of-them tape format, and the VTR was a two-piece unit, one housing the mechanical and electrical components for the actual tape, and the other piece providing the interface between the tape, the TV, and the cable. (or antennae, but WE had cable!)
Dad said he borrowed this magical device from work so that he wouldn't miss the Grinch another year, since the ward Christmas party was once again conflicting with it. (I'd bet money that if he didn't have 8 kids, he would have just said no to the party)
That was the first time I remember something really cool being borrowed from work. Over the years that followed, he brought home several interesting things, mostly for testing and working on at home, and eventually the allure of Dad bringing stuff home from work faded away.
Now, to quote Bill Cosby, "I told you that story so I can tell you this one..."
In my own life, I was extremely excited the first time I brought Pizza home from work. My mom was too, as I recall. After escaping the industrial pizza machine, I brought home all manner of music-related items from my music-related jobs... And in phase three of my professional life, I have brought home more boring computer stuff than ANYONE in my house would ever want to look at or know about.
But now... Now, my boring computer job is with a construction company... And when I have an overwhelming amount of yard stuff (like changing the landscape) to accomplish, and I asked the boss if I could maybe possibly borrow something to make it easier, THIS showed up in my driveway today:
I spent a good couple hours tonight moving bark, moving dirt, and learning how to re-grade still more dirt. And I love it!! I finally feel like I've brought something home that can compete with my dad's VTR!
Oh, and driving it around, digging stuff up and dumping it somewhere else, made me think of this little gem, which The Donald thankfully highlighted earlier this week.
I! AM! MAN!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
For the rest of you, here is the official Manic Mix Playlist:
- Gary Numan - Cars
- Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me With Science
- Madness - Our House
- Dexy's Midnight Runners - Come On Eileen
- Huey Lewis & The News - I Want A New Drug
- The Fixx - One Thing Leads To Another
- Phil Collins & Philip Bailey - Easy Lover
- Billy Squier - Everybody Wants You
- The Clash - Rock The Casbah
- Styx - Too Much Time On My Hands
- Ratt - Round And Round
- Van Halen - Panama
- Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart
- The Tubes - She's A Beauty
- Don Henley - All She Wants To Do Is Dance
- Boys Don't Cry - I Wanna Be A Cowboy
- David Bowie - Modern Love
- a-ha - Take On Me
- Blondie - Call Me
- Rod Stewart - Baby Jane
- Alannah Myles - Black Velvet
- Robert Palmer - I Didn't Mean To Turn You On
- The Power Station - Some Like It Hot
- Duran Duran - Rio
- Sammy Hagar - I Can't Drive 55
- Nena - 99 Luftballons
You do have to admire the bow-tie.
From an early age, Brian surrounded himself with friends.
But don't let the innocent looks fool you. If anyone (other than Mom) got between the TV Screen and the eyes of his "friends", he could get off that chair and have his fingernails dug deep into the flesh of your arm before you even realized you'd done anything to upset him!
Of course, when you're forced to wear pants like these, random and mindless violence is understandable.
He also had a tendency toward fashionable head wear. (that's me in the Green Bay helmet, and our sister Kathy with our nephew Jared)
Of course, if he caught you laughing at his choice of hats, he'd straight up go Robin Hood on you.
Throughout his early years, Brian loved to show off his warm, sociable personality.
But eventually, I was able to rope and hog-tie him, all the while convincing him that he liked it and it was his idea.
Who could have guessed that all of that would lead to a very rough early teenage phase, fraught with angst...
During this time, he was also prone to the random eating of un-suspecting animals.
Eventually he calmed down and decided that instead of fighting his brother, or randomly un-suspecting animals, he would simply fight against gravity.
It took the wisdom of a caring older brother to convince him that that kinda nonsense is just simply not acceptable.
Since those days, he's grown up, mellowed out, gotten married and had a mess of kids, and lost some hair.
However, he can still jump! Yay Brian!
Also, as you can tell from this photographic evidence, he can now be trusted around animals. Note how he's not even thinking about digging in to the great taste of Horse, the OTHER other white meat.
All kidding aside, Happy Birthday, Brian!!
Lots of (non scary, non-threatening, purely familial) love from the Brinkerhoffs of Fircrest!
p.s. Brian invited everyone to his big ol' birthday party this weekend, by way of the most awesome birthday invitation I've seen since ... well, probably ever. You can see it over at the "greater Birnkerhoffs blog"... At least he gave me credit for introducing him to Dinsosaur Comics...
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Anyway, her regular doses of non-linear thinking can be found by clicking here. Or on the friends 'n' family links to the right.
Welcome aboard, Sue! And congratulations on your first post having more comments than Donald or I get without begging for them!!
Monday, April 21, 2008
Time to take a break from the negativity that tried so persistently to invade my monday... We have a contest that's closing tomorrow!!
There have been a few good entries, and right now, there are only 4 points separating the leader from the runner-up, so it could go down to the wire. As of this moment, nobody has gotten all 26 songs, and nobody has correctly guessed the intro/outro music. If you haven't played the game yet, givfe it a try! Also, vote on the Manic Mix - the poll is at the top left of the blog.
And I am now announcing what the winner will receive: A Pack of Mama Jack's Hand Made Gourmet Fudge from our friends and neighbors at Mad Jack's Ice Cream Concoctions. I'd love to send Ice Cream to the winner (this place is so good I capitalize it!) but there are way too many logistical problems with that... and their fudge is incredibly good too, so that's what the prize shall be!
I went in tonight and took the above picture, to get a shot of the currently available flavors. They have (among others) Chocolate, Chocolate Cherry, Kona Coffee, Key Lime, Pina Colada (Daniel said moments after trying it, "It tastes like happiness!"), Bluebuerry Cheesecake, and more.
This stuff is so good, and so local-only that it may surface as a prize again. Plus, we're friends with the owners, and it's always nice to promote the local business!!
When I went to take Ellysa to school this morning, she was getting in the car and said "wow, nice chip on the door handle!"
I had heard a rock hit the car last Friday, but didn't get a chip on the windshield, so I thought it must have hit the side, and made a dent on the door handle. When I got to work I walked over to the passenger side and looked, and it didn't look like something caused by a flying rock. It looked like something caused by an idiot trying to pry the lock off the door.
I tried to tell myself that was just paranoia, and that it must have been a real fluke of physics for that flying rock to chip off that piece of the handle.
Then Cindy IM'd me and said "someone got into the van last night..." and I got that sick feeling in my gut that said "that was no rock chip..." Left work to meet with the police at the house. The van was apparently left unlocked last night, which at least saved us from any amateurish attempts at breaking in, so we only have one car in need of body work now. But what they did do to the van pretty much defies any logic at all.
This is what the van looked like when Cindy went out there today. Sitting on the passenger seat, that's the DVD player that normally lives under the center console. On top of the center console is the power inverter, which also lives below. Both were taken out, but neither was actually taken. The new stereo in the dashboard is still there. The glove box was open, and a stack of CDs that had gotten too scratched to play were gone. Several other CDs (mostly Christmas discs) were still there. The change in the ashtray was gone, as was the ashtray insert. Apparently that was easier than taking just the change. Then you look up...
And there's supposed to be a mirror there in between the sun visors. At least they left our registration and insurance cards... But the mirror?? Seriously?? Oh. Yeah. There had been a necklace hanging from it. An admittedly cheap diamond heart necklace, the kind that you get coupons for before every holiday for between $49 and $99. Again, rather than simply lift the necklace over the mirror, it was more fun to rip the mirror off the windshield.
All this made me go back and take another look at my car, not only to double-verify that nothing was taken, but also to see what was so alluring that they'd try to get in.
Hmmm... Factory stereo, cell phone charger, bluetooth headset, and a couple CDs. Oh, and my gym bag complete with racketball racket and ball, shoes, socks, shirt and shorts was in the back seat. They were so close to the jackpot, but couldn't get the door handle to pop off. At this point, I really want to start calling the low-life punks several names that I shouldn't say here.
So in review: We have minor damage and minor property loss. The kind of thing that's too small to report to the insurance company, though we did file a police report. The cop said that we were the 4th people to call this morning with similar reports. I've bought a replacement door/lock assembly for my car from eBay, but will need to enlist a body shop to install and paint it. I'm confident I'll be able to find the mirror and ashtray insert for the van without too much expense or trouble. And they pulled a wire loose from the inverter, so I've got a little touch-up to do there too. And yet, the feeling of violation is still there. I've spent the rest of the day looking at low light security cameras, and fantasizing about if I'd only gotten my hands (and maybe a shovel) on the punks in action.
To any potential punks reading this, here's a quick primer that will help you in life:
IF SOMETHING IS NOT YOURS, YOU DO NOT GET TO SIMPLY TAKE IT OR DAMAGE IT. LEAVE IT ALONE. SERIOUSLY.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Unlike last time, where you had to identify an out-of-context guitar riff, this one is a more traditional name that tune. Well, not necessarily traditional, it's actually kinda manic. So I'm gonna call it the mikeymix.com Manic Mix: The '80s. When you push play on the clip below, you'll encounter bits and pieces of 26 different '80s classics crammed into 60 seconds. There are two (2) points available for each song - Artist and Title - for a total possibility of fifty-two (52) points. It's rather obscure, but if you know the music I used for the intro and outro of the clip, I'll throw on a whopping 5 bonus points!
I know that with this play-at-your-own-pace format, you'll be able to listen to the Manic Mix as many times as you need, so I tried to put a few pieces in that will separate the worker bees from the wannabees. I also threw in a few total gimme's so that everyone can feel like a winner.
One last reminder, please don't post your answers in the comments here - everyone else would be able to see them, and that would defeat the whole purpose here! Instead, just like last time, email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think that's enough jibba-jabba for now... Volume Up, Pencils Sharpened, Clean White Sheet of Paper at the Ready... and.... GO!
Oh, and there will be a prize!! I'm just not entirely sure what yet. But it'll be good. So play, play, play! Tell all your friends and relatives to play, because maybe they'll win and share with you! (Susan, did Donald let you try his TimTams?)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
At a wedding reception I DJ’d once, someone tuned a few glasses to play a sloppy rendition of “Here Comes The Bride” by tapping them with a fork. Kind of amusing, but not exactly impressive. Taking that to the next level, and replacing the fork with a remote controlled car, NOW you have a new instrument the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Witness:
I’m anticipating a world tour of finer musical venues to be announced any day now.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
First, a little about the structure of the lodge/park. It's not like most waterparks, where you simply show up, pay your admission and get inside. This waterpark is firmly attached to the hotel, and is only open to hotel guests. This has both good and bad aspects:
- The hotel ain't cheap. Our room was $348 for one night, plus tax. That did include waterpark access for all six of us though.
- Like I said above, being linked to the hotel makes impulse visits nearly impossible.
- Since the park is only open to hotel guests, they have a very clear maximum capacity, and they have built the park to accommodate everyone. When we were there, the hotel was completely booked, and yet the waterpark didn't feel overly crowded. We've certainly battled far worse crowds at Wild Waves.
- Although our hotel bill was $348, that included waterpark access for all six of us. Park access runs $30 per person, so that was $180 in access built into our room fee. That brings the base room fee down to a much-more reasonable $168.
- This is a hotel that was designed for families. And not just the "family of four" that most "family" things are geared towards.. Every room in the hotel is a suite that sleeps from 6-8 people.
- Finally, the hotel is very nice. Part of that comes from being brand new, but it's clearly built with quality in mind. Friday night as we went to sleep, I didn't hear ANY noise from either neighboring room, or the floor above. And the showerhead was actually high enough on the wall that I didn't have to stoop down to get under it and take a shower! (it shouldn't be such a big deal, but it seems like most hotel showers were designed for unrealistically short people)
So there is, in my opinion, more good than bad to this arrangement. So on with the review!
We got there at 1:00 pm. Officially, check in isn't until 4, but they let you start using the park at 1 even if your room isn't ready yet. Ours WAS ready though, so we got to go right up, get into our suits, and hit the water! Our 5th floor room had pretty good views. Here's the main thing we saw:
That's the same funnel slide I'd seen from the freeway four months ago, but seeing it from the inside was WAY nicer! Clearly the ground around it has been cleared for some yet-to-be-announced purpose, so I'll let the fact that it's not very pretty slide... for now... Here is another look out of our window:
Between the foreground trees and the background hill there are several lanes of Interstate, and a couple directions of train tracks. But we heard absolutely zero noise from either, another testament to how well built the hotel is.
Okay, so enough of the room - the whole reason you go there, is for the indoor water park!
Here are Ellysa, Kaylee, Tyler and Ellysa's best friend Karisa upon first hitting the waterpark. Behind them is the "fort" that most such parks have, with tons of squirting water everywhere, and a 5,000 gallon bucket on top that dumps every few minutes. Normally, I hate the fort. Despise it. Because I HATE the feeling of getting pelted with ice water, which is what it feels like at Wild Waves. But here, since the temperature in the park is 85 degrees every day, the water was downright pleasant! In fact, it was nice enough that Cindy and I decided to partake in the magic of a 5,000 gallon shower.
There's the bucket being filled...
Here's us happily waiting for our impeding drenching... Notice that Cindy's hair was still dry, so it was her first taste of water that day!
And what a taste! It comes down with so much force that even if you're standing far enough away to not get wet, there's a blast of air that's almost equally stunning.
Now that we were good and wet, I wanted to stand under this cool mushroom/rain thing.. It's a big metal mushroom that has water pouring down around it, but is dry inside.
...hard to see through the wall of water...
Lots of fun, but like the hotel, we didn't come here for a watershroom or a fort with a big bucket. We came to slide!!!
The slides are amazing. I'm sorely lacking in action pictures, because I don't have a waterproof camera case. But trust me. Amazing. Truly. That funnel slide you see from outside feels way bigger than it looks, when you're swooshing back and forth, heading for the exit at the bottom. You enter the big end of the funnel from a near-vertical drop that, even when you know it's coming, takes your breath away. At night time, the slide takes on a whole new dynamic because the entire ride is outside, and without the light of the sun, it's VERY similar to the new Space Mountain at Disneyland. Like Wild Waves' "Zooma Falls", the Howlin' Tornado uses the big yellow 4-person raft/tubes. But unlike "Zooma", you don't have to carry your own huge raft up all the stairs. They have this awesome contraption:
The lifeguard at the bottom puts your raft into the raft elevator, which carries it to the top for the next trip. SUCH a good idea! They also have some smaller, 1- or 2-person tube slides, where you do have to carry your own tube up the stairs. One of them was okay, but the other one was worth doing again and again and again. And we did.
They have a play pool with basketball hoops set up, and kids (and grownups too) playing water basketball... And there's a rope net over the pool at one point, with floating lilly pads that you can use to help you cross the bridge. Kaylee and Tyler were both victorious!
There's also a baby area that has its own mini fort (with little one gallon buckets that fill and dump... pretty cute) and small slides with nice warm bath temperature water. Nobody in our family needs that kind of area, so other than passing through on our way to the locker room, I didn't spend much time there.
But the Wave Pool was the best of its kind that I've ever encountered.
That's looking at the wave pool (with the watershroom on the left). Back by the canoe shop in the background, the water gets to be 5'6" deep. Every ten minutes the waves start up, and they are serious waves. On our first encounter, Cindy and I were in a double innertube, and got washed all the way to the shore. On future runs, I got better at beating the waves, but it takes a lot of effort, and it's kinda fun to get swept away. The kids had a blast and spent most of their non-sliding time here.
They keep the pool nice and clean too, clearly spelling out what they don't want you to do:
Finally, how do they enforce the "hotel guests only" policy at the park? Wristbands!
The white ones were simply pool passes. The blue one has an RFID tag, making it our room key, pool pass, "charge to room" device, and all around cool thing. I keep realizing that I left stuff out, like a teen lounge that had a free dance from 8:30-12:30 that Ellysa and Karisa thoroughly enjoyed... the grand lobby of the hotel has a clock tower that performs an audio-animatronic show:
And the buffet restaurant was good, but very expensive. Upon leaving, we decided that on our next visit, we'd drive half a mile down the road to the mom 'n' pop restaurant for dinner.
Final verdict? WIN! Everybody go play! Just don't expect to get off cheap.
If you'd like to see all of our pictures, click here!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
One thing is the Nintendo Wii.
Another thing is Strong Bad, from HomestarRunner.com.
Now imagine, just imagine, the two coming together in a 5 month series of episodic gaming through the Wii's upcoming WiiWare download service... No need to imagine, because it's happening!!
The WiiWare service launches May 12 (almost sounds like someone's birthday...) and I've seen lots of promising looking games announce for it, but nothing that got me smiling like this one!!
All the details are here. Now I just have to wait... At least I have vacation to occupy myself!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
(Here's the view from the freeway)
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Oh, she's been busy, all right...
She has been spending her days and nights (and occasionally her ridiculously early mornings) playing Water Polo! "Playing What?" you may ask? Water Polo is quite possibly my favorite high school sport ever. It's exactly like Basketball, only it's in water... and the goal looks more like a soccer goal than a round basket... and the ball is like a rough fuzzy volleyball... but other than those minor technicalities, it's basketball while treading water!
It's fast paced, the fouls fly fast and furious, at one game our Super Polo Player even got ejected! (yes, we were very proud!)
Of course, one of Cindy's favorite parts of it is the protective headgear... You can see in the picture above, there are black guards over the ears, and the net result that you can't really see in these pictures is that the girls all look like they have Princess Leia buns on!
Ellysa insists that they aren't actually "Leia Buns", but that's our official name for them. Everyone should come to a game, it really is the most fun high school sport to watch!
Oh, and when she's not in the pool, she's still perfecting the art of the flute. In fact, right before the game that these pictures came from, she had a concert... then ran up to the pool for a quick change for the game!
The only thing left to do is figure out if there's a setting on the camera that's actually compatible with the lighting at the school...
Monday, April 07, 2008
Tyler's school started working on their annual Drama-Club production back in October, right after school started. This year they were doing Mulan, and Tyler was excited to be involved with it. He wound up cast as a Father (upholding tradition) and also as a Hun (determined to smash the Chinese tradition along with everything else!).
He did a great job, and was a very menacing hun. Except for the fact that every time he'd come running in with all the other huns, shaking his weapon in the air and shouting, he'd look over at us and break out a big cheesy grin! So I had to specifically get a close up of the all business, totally serious about conquering, Tyler the Hun.