Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mini Olympic Sized State of the Union

I was going to comment on the "new" Mini-Stanley the Panthers introduced a couple of weeks ago. To give a bit of background, Mini-Stanley was originally introduced to help the younger kids feel more comfortable around the mascots. The character was (and still is) played by a little person. The original actress has moved on, and a new person is in the costume. At a game a couple of weeks ago, the Panthers had a video set-up of Mini-Stanley being sucked into the engine of a Zamboni, then needing reconstructive surgery to repair the face. They unveiled the new mask, and it looked like it had zombie eyes and very bad botox. I'm not sure if it was because of the mascot or the comments from friends that we sit next to, but my son had nightmares that night because of the new mask. I e-mailed the Panthers, and got a typical response of how it was not their intention to freak out the kids, and they hoped that my son would come to love the new Mini-Stanley just as much.

Moving on, but staying on a hockey subject. I have been trying to get my son to go skating more for public skating sessions, and he doesn't like doing that. He says it's boring just going around in circles. So, when we get a chance, we do "stick and puck" together. This is basically ice time where fathers and sons can get out on the ice and play hockey, practice different things, or whatever, without figure skaters, or random other people getting in the way. This past weekend, we went to a new rink in West Palm Beach called Palm Beach Ice Works. This rink only has hockey and figure skating with no public sessions. The rink is also Olympic sized which means it is bigger than a typical hockey rink. When we arrived at the rink, the person in charge didn't know they had stick and puck scheduled. As we were paying, one other person showed up with his son, and one of his son's friends came as well. So, after the Zamboni cleaned the ice, we were the only five people out there. After about an hour, nobody else showed up, and the guy and two kids left. Therefore, Shane and I had a full Olympic sized hockey rink all to ourselves. I think that is the most fun I had skating, it is just so cool having a rink to yourself.

I just finished watching the State of the Union speech. My first impression is that I'm glad he basically challenged both parties to get things done, especially the Republicans. I'll have to let it sink in a bit more to give more of an opinion, and wait for Fact Check to say what's true and false. I'm also glad he made a point to call out the Supreme Court for the decision last week to overturn centuries old laws and essentially stating the corporations have the same rights as people. That's all for now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Phantom (again)

Last Monday, our CFO received a call from our bank offering two tickets to see Phantom of the Opera on Saturday (1/9/10). She knew Brenda was a huge fan, so she asked me if I wanted the tickets. I called Brenda, and even though we had just taken the kids to see it, she said she would of course see it again. Stupid me for even asking.

We had dinner at the Himmarshee Bar & Grille prior to seeing the show. The dinner was very good, and a good pre-theatre dinner replacement for the River House which is closed. I started with the soup of the day which was "5-alarm" chili. The chili could probably be considered 2 alarms, it had spice, but wasn't uncomfortably spicy. It was also nice considering it was very cold outside. Brenda started with the crab cake, which also came with a nice salad. Four our main dishes I had the buffalo short ribs which came with a gouda mac 'n cheese with spinach and ham mixed in, the entire dish was very good. Brenda had a skirt steak which she also enjoyed. Brenda likes having dessert when we go out to a nice dinner, so the waitress talked us into a piece of carrot cake made by "We Take the Cake." The cake was good, but nothing really spectacular, and I was so stuffed after the dinner it was hard to really enjoy it.

After the relaxing dinner we trudged in the ~40 degree rainy weather (I swear the wind chill was in the low 30's) to the theatre. We arrived there between 7:30 and 7:45, so just enough time to get a drink, use the restroom and get to our seats. I thought this performance was better than the one we saw last week. I don't know if it was the excellent (free) seats we had, the lack of kids, or the evening vs. matinee performance, but it was nicer.

The kids spent the night with my Mother, and she brought them home this morning. Aside from playing Wii, and watching football, I have done absolutely nothing today. Sometimes that is a nice thing to do.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Silly Slovakians, Explosives are meant for Terrorists

I heard a story on Morning Edition this morning (Jan. 7, 2010) about the Slovakian police and their training practices. You can read and listen to the story here. I don't know why, this comedy of errors just amused me this morning.

I have really enjoyed the last couple of days of cool weather, it's nice to get a break from the 80+ degree weather once in a while. I also find it amusing that when the temperature dips into the 40's and 30's here, it is the top news story for days and they take up at least 10 minutes of the 30 minute news cast on just that. I have lived here in Florida for a while, but still in my travels, I have experienced weather much colder than this, hell, standing in the new hockey rink for my son's game is colder than this. Additionally, there are many people from up North that live here, I'm sure they have experienced weather colder than this. Unless it starts snowing (which apparently it did one time back in the 70's), just report what the temperature is and move on. There is absolutely no reason to show some reporter bundled up to explain that it's cold outside. Just enjoy it while it lasts because 80+ degree temperatures will be back before you know it.

As a follow up to my last post. I think I have come to the conclusion that New Zealand may be too far of a trek to try and go for a week. I think that's a trip that will stay on my "bucket list," but won't be happening this year. I also think I would need to go for more than a week. I'm back to two choices, and focusing more in on one rather than the other. My mother told me Paris, and other parts of France are nice. By the same token, one of my friends was sort of turned off by the touristy parts of Paris. I'm tending to believe someone around my own age this time. The trip I'm really sort of focusing on right now is England. I think we could go to London for a couple of days, see a show or two (or three). I want to see Billy Elliot, I'm sure Brenda would love to see "Love Never Dies," and I'm always up for going to see "We Will Rock You." Additionally, I was looking at side trips out of London to go to Stratford upon Avon, maybe spend a night in a castle, and go back to Rules to have another great meal. I think this is something more reasonable that I can still get a sense of history, and Brenda and I can enjoy ourselves. This way, we save Ireland for a couple of years down the road and take the kids. We just have to discuss it more and work out some things. We'll see.

Hockey starts again tonight. I may look into joining a novice league after this session.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Where to go, what to do?

I think this is a record, two posts in one day. I just had more to say that I thought would go better in a new post rather than continue with the previous post.

While I was at my mother's house for New Years Day, after Brenda had left and the football game was on, my mother, sister and I were talking. Sometime in the conversation, my sister started talking about overseas trips, and in the conversation I just piped in with a joking comment about how I wanted to go. My mother then stated that my sister set a precedent for her 40th birthday by having my parents pay for a trip for her to go to Italy, and I would be afforded the same opportunity to go where I wanted.

I was speaking with Brenda last night over dinner. I'll admit, I would love to take my kids with me, but I think at this age, wherever we would go outside of the U.S. may be too much for them. Additionally, I don't think they would be able to sit through the type of meals that people are used to in other countries. I haven't traveled that much, but I do know that for occasions like going out to dinner, one is expected to sit back, relax and enjoy their meal. Essentially, once a person reserves a table, it is theirs for the night. At this age, the kids are lucky to make it through a meal that lasts longer than 30 minutes. Knowing that, and just trying to have them appreciate any culture, I think it may be a couple of more years before we even think about taking them overseas.

Sorry, bit of digression there. As I was saying, I was speaking with Brenda, and I think there are two places I would really love to go. The first place is taking a true vacation to the British Isles. I would think at least a week in London, then heading to Ireland, maybe Scotland, and possibly even go into Paris depending on how the logistics could be worked out. The problem with this trip is that I know Brenda wants to take the kids to Ireland, and we are saving up all of our coins, etc. in a 5-gallon water bottle to try to pay for at least part of this trip. The more I think about it, the more I think this trip may wait until the kids are a bit older and we can actually take them there.

The second trip I would love to take is to go to New Zealand. I know this sounds really geeky, but when we were watching "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, I was just fascinated by the scenery in which the movies were filmed. Yes, I know there was CGI involved in certain spots, and don't expect to see Mt. Doom, but it just seems like it would be a cool trip. I think it could be enhanced by getting a Lord of the Rings tour to see where many of the scenes were filmed.

Aside from those two, I guess it's just a matter of watching the Travel Channel. I mean there is always Berlin, Venice, or trying to stay at the Burj Al Arab in the UAE. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Happy New Year, Good Riddance to 2009

As I stated in the previous post, we had a busy week ahead of us. We started with the lunch and circus. The lunch was actually nice. I met some cousins I didn't know I had, and actually after talking with them they were interesting people. One of my cousins teaches math in New York. I gave him my e-mail address, and I hope to get him some samples of our new Math Fundamentals guides to look at and possibly test in his classroom. The circus went well. We were a couple of minutes late because the kids were riding on the golf cart with John. The show was different this year, which was good. We also had good seats although slightly blocked by a pole. But, for $14 what can you expect?

Tuesday I got my car washed (as of yesterday [1/2/10], it now has bird crap on it). I then took the kids to lunch and showed my wife how much I loved her by taking the kids to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakuel." Needless to say, I am amazed that it got a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, after spending most of the day at home waiting for the plumber, we saw Avatar. Overall, I thought the movie was good. I thought some of the camera angles with the 3-d actually made the viewer feel like they were in the movie. I'll admit I thought the story line was a little thin and predictable but overall worth the price of admission and definitely worth seeing in 3-D.

Thursday I took the kids skating. The rink was incredibly packed. I suppose during holiday breaks from school and being New Year's Eve day, it could have gone either way, but was more than likely to be crowded, and it was. After skating we flew to Montreal. Now, we didn't actually go to the airport or anything. We went to the hockey game. The ticket said it was a home game for the Panthers. Unfortunately, nobody told the 80%+ of the people that were in the sold out arena that the Canadiens were the visiting team. I blame 10+ years of piss poor management of the Panther team for this madness. Quite frankly, it was embarrassing as a Panther fan to be there. After the game we came home and had our Chinese food.

Friday we went to Mom's house for a New Years lunch. Brenda left early because she went to 101 Dalmatians with our daughter. I decided that I was just getting burned out. I discussed it with Brenda and the kids. Brenda decided she wanted to go anyway. Since there was hockey practice 8:30 on Saturday, I was happy to stay home to get our son to his practice.

We finished the practice, came home for a little bit, then went to see Phantom of the Opera. Brenda of course loved it, the kids and I enjoyed ourselves. At the show I saw someone I hadn't seen in a long time. I thought it was nice to catch up with her and meet her husband. After talking for a bit, and knowing what she's been up to thanks to Facebook, Brenda and I both, along with Michelle and Shawn thought it would be nice to get together with the kids. So, hopefully we will try to do that in the near future.

We wrap up today with the hockey game between the Panthers and Penguins. Hopefully there will be more of a home crowd, but I won't hold my breath since it is a "Steel City" Sunday here in South Florida. Brenda decided to skip the football game.

Now I'm looking forward to getting back to work so I can relax a little bit.