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August 01, 2006

"Will he sit and stare at the moon like I did when I was a boy?"

I'm a closet space junkie. I lived and breathed anything NASA when I was a kid and Armstrong and Aldrin were two of my biggest heroes growing up. I used to get annoyed when my grandparents wouldn't buy Tang. (Which led to my having a distinct lack of the little plastic moon buggies that everyone else had.) I had posters of all the phases of the moonshots and used to be able to name all of the astronauts from memory.

So last night a friend came over with a late birthday present for Jack. Something that left me speechless:


I'm going to find a frame for it as soon as possible. Aldrin has always been the more approachable of the first two men on the moon. (Armstrong's a bit reclusive.) Unfortunately it also means that Aldrin attracts his more than fair share of crackpots including the guy he finally slugged one day who had been stalking him. (Claiming the moon landings were fake, a theory I have no time for and lump into the same dustbin as "hollow earth" rubbish.)

Pete's cousin has a house on the same street as Aldrin. Pete asked his cousin for a favor and this was the result.

(My Uncle, Goolia's dad, is/was neighbors with the former 1st captain of the Nautilus.)

One thing we tend to lack these days are heroes with a background like the Apollo astronauts. Lance Armstrong, Steven Hawking, etc., are all fine and good but give me bootstrap flyboys and M.I.T. trained engineers any day of the week.

I often think about what it must have been like for Neil and Buzz, alone on the Sea of Tranquility. With no atmosphere the view was vast and empty.

Buzz Aldrin's autograph. How cool. Thanks Pete.

Posted by Jim at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)

"At the rate their growing its going to be one kid per bucket this time next year."


Miss Kate and Jack share a moment in Jack's train bucket.

Posted by Jim at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2006

"Her plan is a bit different than ours. It involves building a plane in the attic."

So my dad's mom, Louise, had a bad time a week or so ago. She fell in her house a couple of times and ended up cracking her hip. (She didn't break it, just a small crack.) In the aftermath she was admitted to the hospital for observation and some tests. At 95 you can't really take chances.

At first her doctor was open to a few ideas. One she presented was letting her go live with her younger sister for a while. Of course Louise, in her bid for freedom, neglected to mention that her baby sister was 87. Fearing further accidents the doctor wisely ended this train of thought.

After a few days it came down to my family's plan of moving her to a rehab clinic / assisted living clinic closer to my dad and uncle. (A place that my father describes as "so depressing there aren't words to encompass the experience" which is about what I thought.) She'll be there for a while until they are certain that everything is ok.

Louise is, of course, indignant at having been removed from her home of 64 years. (Think about that the next time you grow tired of where you've been living less than a decade.) She's absolutely of the belief that if the person who found her on the floor had just helped her to the couch and made her comfortable everyone would be a lot better off.

Ha ha.

We're also pretty sure her current plan involves being released, immediately calling for a lawyer to disinherit her children and may or may not involve her use of firearms. If it's not "The Great Escape" in the making I don't know what is.

Jack and I called her last week. I had worked with Jack for a couple of hours to say "Get well Grandma!" but when the time came he just managed to yell "Get well!" over and over into the phone. His usual level of enthusiastic volume, normally a bit loud for this sort of thing, actually played well to Louise's hearing loss.

I once read that people rarely think of their grandparents in the same reference as themselves. They rarely imagine that the people they've always known as "older" were just like them in almost every way. I've thought a lot this past week about Louise's life. 20 in 1931. My age in 1948. 57 years later she's still one to listen to baseball games, still one to read the latest books, still one to do the crossword puzzle.

Remember this picture?


It's still my favorite. It's hard to imagine what being a teenage girl in 1924 would have been like but it's just so much fun to see the look in her eye and the expression on her face.

Age may strip away beauty but spirit never dies.

Posted by Jim at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

"Jack at sunset on Friday night."

God bless digital photography.


After upteen pictures I finally got the shot I wanted.

Posted by Jim at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

"The parts I miss are heavily overshadowed by the parts I do not."

The industry I used to work in was bizarre. It rarely paid well. For every person with genius and talent at a company you were obliged to work with people who were, um, odd in the extreme. I've recently received news about some of my friends at my old company but that's a completely different post.

Recently this link has been floating around over the last few days on an industry mailing list I am still a part of: I want to be Stephen Colbert's gaming friend.

It's garnered praise on the list from a few who think it's cool, clever, etc. Otherwise it's been greated with silence as people on the list, industry professionals, get ready for the consumer trade show, Gencon, that the website's creator, Peter Adkinson, now owns.

For some background I suggest reading the following links before you go much further. Be careful as the story, by my friend the Artist, contain some adult themes and language:

"Death to the Minotaur"

"Death to the Minotaur part 2"


The same person who wants to be Stephen's gaming friend is the same person in the articles.

I have no idea if this is ever going to catch Stephen Colbert's attention but if I was the Daily Show handlers I would read the story about "Truth or Swill" and tread lightly. There are other people in the industry that I would recommend instead: people like my friends Mr. Quads or The Artist or even people like Monte Cook or Chris Pramas of Green Ronin, who aren't my close friends but are certainly people whom I think a lot of.

The people who need to talk to Colbert are Wizards of the Coast. I would pay good money to see a week long expose behind what really goes into Dungeons and Dragons. The idea of Colbert roaming the halls in Renton for a week is a pretty good one.

Posted by Jim at 01:24 PM | Comments (1)

August 16, 2006

"Where's my hat?"


Taken during a game of "Toss Jack's hat" which are frequently punctuated with looks like these from Jack.

Posted by Jim at 09:39 AM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2006

"My interest in reality television just tanked."


Old and busted.

The Amazing Race?


The Endurance Challenge?

I snorkled my soda through my nose and now have to clean the keyboard.

"Barry - Never Kissed a Girl"


(My bet is on "The Kraken - He Who Has Awakened")

Highly recommended.

Posted by Jim at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2006

"What's up Doc?"

Yesterday was Jack's 2nd year checkup with Doctor Molotov. I know, I know, I'm running a month behind but Molotov was out of the office on vacation and this was the soonest I could get him on the schedule.

Normally I don't talk with Jack about going to the doctor until the day of the visit. He's not afraid of going and I don't want to have him start now. (Time to quote Frank Herbert's Dune: "Fear is the mind killer.") He likes his doctor and has fun with her which is just great. A fantastic g.p. are worth their weight in gold.

The stats from the visit? He's just shy of 36 inches tall in his socks and he weighed in somewhere around 26 pounds. He's 90th percentile for height but 30th percentile for weight. I can't say I'm surprised at the height or the weight. I'm tall and thin and so are my dad and uncles and we were all a bit on the weedy side as kids. (This according to Ruth, my grandmother who raised me, and Louise, my dad's mom.) At the same time Doc Molotov wants to see him in 4 months to make sure he's getting fattened up.

When you take a toddler into a visit like this there's a list of questions that pour out to see how things are coming along: Does he try to dress himself or assist you in dressing him? Does he eat well with utensils? Does he drink out of a cup? Then came this exchange:

"Can he open a door?"

"Jack can you please open the door?"

Jack walks over, grabs the handle, opens the door. Turns and waits.

"Can he shut a door?"

"Jack can you please shut the door?"

Jack rears back and with one hand slams the door shut then turns with a wicked grin and laughs.

Doctor Molotov: "That's definitely a "yes" for both questions."

After all the poking and prodding, including some hand mandling of the parts which produced a funny face from Jack, Doctor Molotov gave him a thumbs up. She said we're high on the curve for communication and motor skills which is nice to hear. In the end the only thing to watch his his weight but that doesn't come as a surprise considering it's summer and he's busy running and playing all day.

Then came the shot.

They are now giving children a Hep A shot at one year and Jack was somehow a little behind the curve. I promised Jack a cookie when it was over and told him that I would hold his hands and beep his nose with my nose so that it wouldn't hurt as much. After saying this I got a very sullen "ok" but he was a trooper and only cried for a few seconds. I tried to make things even better when we got home: Since he was such a good boy he scored a new Hot Wheel's car which was a big hit.

My health? I have to make an appointment for the next week or so. We'll see. I still think the warranty ran out when I turned 30. Bleah.

Posted by Jim at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

"No, the new baby was not leverage to get him to clean out his office. It's just a coincidence."

The Racetrack's are expecting again!

She's due in November at some point but if it's early it might wind up near Halloween. It's a boy, as the fancy dancy super duper ultrasound revealed in alarming clarity. With a matching set they've declared that they're done with this one.

Names? No clue. Mr. Racetrack often suggested Adolph Judas as a boy's name before Jack was born but I'm pretty sure that they're not going in that direction. (A.J. for short.) My suggestion of Genghis or Kubla seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Posted by Jim at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2006

"On the self absorbed scale she's an 11 shooting for an "Avoid at all costs!""

While talking to my buddy the Astronomer the other day the subject of his ex-wife came up. It's been, thankfully, a while since she pestered him and he remarked on this while we were talking. I pointed out that the upside of a phone call with her was that at least he didn't have to see her.

His reply?

"The only way I want to see my ex-wife is through a pair of high powered binoculars."

Best line all week.

Posted by Jim at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

"The 70's were a dark time, a time of turtlenecks. So many turtlenecks."

Half the fun of bad hair is sharing it:


I'm guessing I was around 4 when they took this. Judging by the teeth and some of the baby fat I'm guessing closer to 5.

My hair is so straight that even these pictures don't do it justice. *shudders*


I remember that shirt. Itched like a son of a gun. I had an atrocious pair of corduroy pants that went with it. (Tan.) The whole outfit was geared to make you as uncomfortable as possible.

That's my first grade picture. I had Mrs. Johnson until she mysteriously disappeared during the year. (She had a baby. Can't let kids contemplate that in 1st grade for one moment in 1974 could we?) 2nd grade saw Mrs. Holbrook but that's another story.

Oh how I hope Jack doesn't get my hair. He deserves so much better.

Posted by Jim at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2006

"1 adult vs. 2 kids? Zone Defense."

Last week Mrs. Racetrack was away on a tom tom beating retreat to the northern woods of Wisconsin with her new job and Mr. Racetrack had to go to Chicago for a day trip that would see him back too late to pick Kate. They asked if I would mind and I said no problem.


Here's the two of them in the back of my car while I was getting gas. With Wife-o Deluxe-o out of town on business I had taken her car seat for Jack and loaded it in so that Kate and Jack could ride next to each other. My worst fears were realized when the two of them began holding hands at one point.

What to do for dinner? What to do for dinner?

I've mentioned before that my local McDonalds has "family night" on Tuesday and for once it seemed like a good idea. After bouncing the idea off Jack and Kate and getting a chorus of "DONALDS!" we headed over to the glistening with transfat golden arches.


Jack demonstrating his use of a plastic fork for his apple dippers.


Kate demonstrating how she won the county apple dipper eating contest.


Being the heartless and cruel authority figure that I am, I forced the kids to eat all of their dinner before they could go play. (Chicken nuggets, apple dippers and milk.) Once the trays were clear it was go for broke time. Here's Kate turning the wheel while Jack is either a.) ducking or b.) letting loose with a toot that will knock Kate over. If memory serves I think it was ducking.


The terrible twosome emerge from the tunnel of love only to discover that they've been caught by the National Inquirer photographer. Are they the next Brad and Angelina? I hope not because they would either be collectively referred to as "Kack" or "Jate" and both just sound awful.


Oh yeah. Saving a copy of that picture for Kate's senior prom night.

We got home with no tears or boo boo's and Mr. Racetrack picked Kate up a little after 8.

Final report: nothing broken, all well.

Posted by Jim at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

"It's so much more exciting in Spanish..."


He shoots!


He Scores!

Posted by Jim at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)