Sunday, July 31, 2005

Metroplex 2005

The, now annual, trip to the Dallas Metroplex is finished. I am tired. (warning now...long post)

We headed out Wednesday evening...getting on the road at 5pm sharp. Arrived Colleyville, TX around 10:30. We feel that was pretty good time. The folks from Little Rock didn't arrive until 11:30ish. It's a slightly longer drive and traveling with a baby can hamper progress. Jess and I got all excited when we passed a HUGE Ikea store...but its grand opening isn't scheduled until Aug. 3. But...we know where we're going to visit next year.

Slept late on Thurs. Then we headed out for some shopping. Rich and Eloise offered to watch the baby so we were free to wander and shop.

First stop...World Market. Basically, the women picked up some Ritter-Sport and I purchased two Abba-Zaba's. These are taffy, filled with peanut butter. I first saw them on a candy-themed Unwrapped. Once spied, I could not pass up the chance to try something new.

We then headed to the Grapevine Mills Mall. Which is essentially a giant outlet mall. The women were looking for clothes and baby gear. The guys had no real agenda. Then, as we walked in, I spotted a cart with the word Mikasa on it. I then realized we were at the mall where my Godmother works. The Mikasa store was near so Jessica and I popped in to see if she was available. Marilyn was working and I think we shocked her a bit as I don't believe she had any inkling we were in the area. Suffice to say she looks great, it was good to see her, and she offered up a bed for our last night in town (more on that later).

So the shopping continued and we ended the trip with some gelato. Our hosts were excellent and we had grilled chicken and some avocado-jello salad. Needs to be seen and tasted to be believed. As soon as I get copies of the photos I will post a shot of this dish.

Friday was the day of drinking. We went out for a late breakfast and then returned for some lounging, swimming and drinking; lots of sangria, margaritas and wine. I ventured out and found a Carvel so I could have some tasty ice-cream. Dinner was at a local Italian place...also very good.

The initial plan was for the Little Rock bunch to return on Saturday to ensure they could be home for Jack's Baptism on Sunday. Before we knew about the Baptism, Jess and I had solidified plans to see my father and stay through Sunday (his birthday). Then, after running into Marilyn (Godmother), we accepted her offer to say the night at her place as Jess and I decided against staying and my father's home (due to the smoking inside). Follow that? So...Wade and JJ ask us (and Rich and Jen) to be Godparents to Jack. With an offer like that, how could we refuse? Thus, we had to scrap some of our plans so that we could make it to the Baptism. Unfortunately, we had to tell Marilyn that we weren't staying, and opted to only spend the afternoon/evening with my Dad and his family before heading to Little Rock no later than 8pm.

Well...the visit with Dad was nice, if too short. We talked a lot about soccer and went out with him, Anna (my step-sister), and Jessica to get some new soccer gear. The selection in NWA is rather weak. Barb, Dad's wife, was doing well. I took Dad his birthday gift; some 10-year old Laphroaig as well as taking them all out to dinner. After shopping we, conveniently enough, ended up at a Carvel for more ice-cream. No complaints. We were on the road by our targeted 8pm time.

Of course it took close to 6 hours to get to Little Rock. Only to have to get up early in order to get to Conway for the Baptism. Didn't get much in the way of sleep last night. I've got to make sure I thank Jessica for staying awake the entire drive. She was instrumental in making sure I was able to make the drive from Dallas.

So...all this was to say that the weekend was good. I'm tired and I could use another day off. It will be a busy week. But...GenCon is in a few weeks. My tickets arrived and I'll probably come back from that trip even more tired than I am now. Having fun is a lot of work.

Oh....and Jack Derden...great kid. He's got great parents and was fairly even-tempered the entire weekend. Sure he cried a bit, but it wasn't oppressive or for long periods. I didn't hear him at night...but that also may have been influenced by the size of the house.

More later when I get those photos...glad to be back. pictures from this year's trip to this holdover from last year will have to do. This is from the surprise party planned by my lovely wife Jessica. The folks in the photo are Rich, Eloise, Rich, Jen, Me (I says the hat), Jessica, Wade, JJ, and of course, Chet. Unfortunately Chet could not make it this year. His role taken over by the new baby Derden (just kidding Chet). I'll get some photos up here when Wade, who was the only one taking pictures, sends them to me.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I just finished watching the PBS series, Guns Germs, and Steel. Surely not as good as the book but I haven't read it, nor did the series make me want to read it. That said, Jared Diamond has some interesting ideas. I'm not going to explore them here save to say that it seemed to discount the Asian and Indian sub-continent. If you get a chance to watch the three hour series it's not a bad way to spend your time (though actually reading the book would probably be better).

I did learn of an event in South African history that was amazing and sad...based on the numbers involved and how it was such a seminal event in the European expansion in that part of Africa. It was the Battle of Blood River (probably could find a better site if I searched a bit harder).

It seems that 470 Voortrekkers (pioneers) slaughtered (defended against?) 10,000 Zulus. Killing 3000 and only suffering three minor casualties. This was largely due to the guns the Voortrekkers had. Technology often trumps numbers.

This got me thinking about other battles where a smaller group survived against, or overwhelmed, a much larger force. To what degree did technology, faith, perserverance, strategy, incompetence, geography, or climate play a factor. And how did the victors interpret their victory?

Does anyone know of any books on the subject?

The Round

For the benefit of those that didn't understand Munkee Girl's comment on the previous post, here's some background...courtesy of

The Algonquin Round Table was a group of some of the most brilliant writers of the 1920s and 1930s, though it endured long after that.

They met for lunch every day at a round table at New York City's Algonquin Hotel and traded quips, many of them still repeated today. The group was formed at the suggestion of Dorothy Parker, who was living in the Algonquin Hotel at the time.

There was no formal membership, so people came and went, but the primary early members included Parker, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber, Franklin Pierce Adams, Oscar Levant and Harpo Marx. Others, from movies, theatre and letters, visited. Since some of the members were popular columnists who repeated some of the conversations in their columns, the quips got wide circulation. Sometimes they were unkind.

One story is that when Dorothy Parker was informed about the death of President Calvin Coolidge, she replied, "How can they tell?"

The lobby of the Algonquin hotel leaves their table set with namecards of the famous people who sat there. There is also a mural depicting one of the famous lunches.

And Peter is right about Bootsey Ackerman...but Bootsy Collins is a Funk Master.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ever wonder what happens to old malls...ones that sit for a while before they are razed?

As a teenager one of my favorite places to go was Penn Can Mall. It was one of the best malls in the Syracuse area until a super-regional mall opened in 1991. So, I went sent searching for info on the old Penn Can (short for Pennsylvania-Canada due to it's location along Interstate 81).

Found someone who built a tribute page (they even registered the domain)...with video stills from the late '80's when they took a camera to the mall. Also included are photos from their trip around the "dead" mall. It looks like a ghost town.

Also...I found a page call I'm pretty certain you can look up your favorite malls from your youth; they might be listed. After some searching it seems that a lot of the malls in Syracuse are dead or dying. However, based on the area population, there always seemed to be too may malls.

I'm sort of interested in what happens to old malls. It's nice when they can be re-used for other purposes. Little Rock purchased one and turned it into a police station and jail. Often other Big Box retailers will move in. It seems that Penn Can Mall has transformed into some type of auto mall. Most of the mall was razed but the anchor stores were converted into indoor auto showrooms (not a bad idea considering the Syracuse winters).

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I can't change the laws of physics!

The Engineer has passed on.

War hero.



I met James Doohan at my first Star Trek convention at the Hotel Syracuse. It was 1987. I was able to shake his hand. And listen to the stories he told to the assembled patrons. That's all. But it was worth it and a moment to remember and savor.

May he be remembered...

Monday, July 18, 2005

So the annual Central New York style cookout has come and gone.

Thanks to all that attended; both live and in thought.

We had ourselves some tasty Hofmann Snappy grillers and German franks (hot dogs), New England style buns, salt potatoes, chocolate cake, and three types of homemade ice-cream. Thanks to Jessica for putting it all together. And thanks to Jess' dad for ordering the meat and shipping it to us.

Also...the Carvel should be opening up in the mall real soon. We found out recently though that it won't carry the whole like of Carvel products...which means no Fudgie the Whale or Cookie Puss.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Two very cool things...both via Metafilter but the first one I was aware of and had forgotten (because the site didn't work the last time I visited).

Word Count - tracks the top 86K English words based on usage (very cool...I spent 20 minutes thinking of words and looking them up to see their rank). FYI Love = 384 and Hate = 3107.
The site also has a Query Count that tracks the most common words that people search for (trust me NSFW).

Here is a silly Flash game Planarity.

Also added Kara to the Friendly Blogs : Family Gal Journal. Check it out sometime.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I am still here...just been bad about posting lately.

It's been an achy Monday...seems to be standard for me since I started playing soccer again. I did manage to get in 3+ miles and some weith lifting after work.

So it seems that the fingerI busted back in April will remain in pain until I die. There's not too much to do to it now. Surgery would just make more scar tissue. Time to pop some Aleve when it starts to hurt late in the day. I'm sure all this typing helps a lot.

Excited that my old friend Jen and her boyfriend Ben will be in F'ville this weekend. Will be good to see them.

Jess and I saw Batman Begins yesterday. I liked it a lot. I could have done without the romantic subplot. It's very serious at it takes itself very seriously. Christian Bale did a fine job. Not sure why Rutger Hauer (Wayne Industries CEO) was in the movie...his role seemed tacked on...unless there are plans for him in a sequel. The whole Wayne industries subplot also could have been left behind. I don't know much about the Scarecrow from the Batman comics...but I found the rendition in the movie to be terrifying. I was shocked that, in the row in front of me, someone had brought a pre-teen to the movie. Not to be prude-ish, but I think the violence and imagry may have been a bit much for younger kids.

That said...I recommend...but I think I still like the Tim Burton Batman films better....but that's probabl more an emotional reaction based on the nostalgia factor...

Monday, July 04, 2005

These are for anyone but thought Kat, Leigh, Mike, and Sarah would like them the most. This will also give Kat something to do while she's away. Maybe she can find a German version.

Fowl Words and Fowl Words 2

And you though I forgot about the Tulsa are Jess and Kat sharing a moment with a giant stone face...
Lost another soccer game today. 3-1. Not so bad in the grand scheme of things. We playes three men down first half and two men down second half. It seems most of our team was on holiday. I was back playing Keeper and let me tell felt good. I think it was my best game yet (never mind the 3 goals). I was all over the box and had some rather impressive saves. During the post-game breakdown, Jess suggested that my level of play was higher since I was trying to prove something. I think she's correct on this. I essentially lost my job as Keeper (though the replacement has fared no better)...and playing today I had a chance to win it back. We'll see.

In other's a silly Q&A list from another site....(with my answers)...I'm clearly bored and should be reading a good book...

3 names I go (or have gone) by: Ken, Kenny (I kill people for calling me this), Kenneth
3 physical things I like about myself: Exquisitely shaped head, Eye color, Hands
3 physical things I dislike about myself: Teeth, Gut, Feet
3 parts of my heritage: Scottish, German, don't know any more....
3 favorite musical artists: Radiohead, REM, Miles Davis
3 favorite songs: "In Your Eyes" Peter Gabriel; "Head Like a Hole" NIN; "One" U2
3 of my favorite hobbies: Game playing, comic books, soccer (not sure it qualifies as a hobby)
3 things I really want to do right now: sleep, finish Firefly before Kat leaves, catch up on my reading
3 things that scare me: Death, taxes, unemployment
3 of my everyday essentials: Jessica, Vagabond, Basil
3 places you want to go on vacation: Italy, Antarctica, Vancouver
3 kids' names you like: boys: Beckett, Pol Pot (with a nod to Wes), Dobbs (nod to Mike); girls: Kathryn, Elizabeth, Julia (please note that I think I'm past the whole Xanthippe affair)
3 things to do before death: hit those vacation spots, pay those taxes, live honorably