Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell to 2006

This evening, Jenny was over with her Dad Randy (Mae has a cold, the poor dear) and we had a long playing fest and chili feed. We had "Midnight" at 9pm, where we all ran outside and yelled "HAPPY NEW YEAR" and banged on pots and pans in the several inches of fresh snow that fell tonight.

We took pictures, and every one is filled with giant snowflakes lit up by the flash like little christmas lights.

Isaac was bundled up and made his first snow angel. The girls stayed outside playing in the snow for over an hour, while the grown ups relaxed inside with the door open listening to their laughs and squeals.

It was a wonderful way to see the year off - one that brought Isaac to us, and a magical trip to Disney, and a great summer break at the lake, and BrainReady, and some great scotches...

So I raise my glass of Lagavulin 16 to the world and say HAPPY NEW YEAR - 2006 was a great year - 2007 has a lot to live up to!

In the morning

The kids both slept very well in their own beds - Isaac back to 3 and 6 for wakeups.

Bella woke up after 12 hours of sleep. I brought Isaac into bed with her and she cuddled him and said "OH I just love this magic STUFF!"

Saturday, December 30, 2006

About selling clocks

The following are my thoughts on selling clocks:

I don't think they should be running in the store, but if they ARE, they should not be set to the current time. You don't want a customer running out because they suddenly realize they're late. You should be able to sell timepieces in a time-neutral environmant. Importantly, set the clocks RANDOMLY to different times. This will create a fun variety for people.

The a downside to the running clocks is that a person may react positively or negatively to a particular time that's showing on the clock (major event in life, or perhaps just reminding them of what the clock looks like when they need to be at work. Or at home). As a retailer, you should be more in control of your customers and not allow their neuroses to kill a sale.

So I recommend the stopped clock - and having all clocks at the same time. That says "these are all fine timepieces, stopped for your convenience, so please evaluate them on their own strengths and merits, and not by the whimsy of what time means to you". It also prevents the customer from making a decision based on the loudness of "tick" on the second hand.

But what time? I am a fan of Ten after Ten. It looks very optimistic, sort of "Wave your arms in the air". Five after Eleven is a little too much "Stick em UP". Six PM may appeal to people who see things in black and white, but it's a bit too "put on", and people may feel like you're pulling one over on them. Same goes for 9:15, though the inevitable creep upward of the hour hand on that one perhaps adds a little character.

Twelve noon is just terrible, as it doesn't allow people to see and appreciate the difference between the minute and hour hands. You might as well just be selling clock FACES. Any of the downward pointing times (20 past 7, 25 past 6) are depressing - showing a figure that has given up and can't even raise it's arms. It shows weakness. Not something a timepiece should convey.

And that is I think all the advice I have for the clock sellers of the world.

Home.... and life is good

We left IL yesterday afternoon after a delicious and huge breakfast at the Palatine Inn, which is my all time favorite breakfast joint (sorry runners-up Original Pancake House (many locations) and Mickies Dairy Bar (Madison)). We took a leisurely drive up Hwy 12 to Fort Atkinson to visit Cousin Jen, Harman, and the boys Seeger, Liam, and Julian.

Bella spent about 1 minute sizing up the cousins (who are 4, 2.5, and 9mos) and decided yes, these will be excellent playmates. We saw very little of her in the ensuing 20 hours. Which left a good bit of time for us to hang out and play with Isaac, and generally relax in front of the fire and share stories of parenting and wild youths.. (youths in both senses of the word).

We hit the road around noon today for the final journey home - a mid-day 5 hour grueler. Isaac did spend 4 of it asleep (much needed catchup sleep) and one hour of it yelling "Get me OUT of this SEAT - it is CRAMPING MY STYLE". Bella was pretty good - she watched videos and got grumpier and grumpier... until by the time we hit the MN State Line, she was just moaning random songs of discomfort and woe.

Fortunately, when we got home (around 5:30), her best friend Jenny was ready to come play, and Randy and Jemae came by for (takeout) dinner too, so we re-integrated into the house and neighborhood, and Bella got 2+ hours to reacquaint herself with her best friend... All the kids were asleep by 9, and now I'm retelling the tales.

A few random details from the trip:
1) Minivan living is not for us: We'll rent these things when we need to roadtrip, but it needn't be a part of our life. Still, it WAS handy to be able to go with PapaBam and the whole family places.

2) In the final analysis, there was relaxing, but not kicking back: There was very little time for reading, puzzles, playing video games ("kicking back")... but there was time to lay back on the couch and stare at the ceiling and feel our bones a little ("relaxing").

3) I did stay unplugged from work: Yes, I checked messages, but I didn't RESPOND unless necessary, and I fully stayed out of things that I saw that someone else capable was copied on.

And now Isaac has woken up again and I must go settle him.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

An interesting day

It was a long night with Isaac, who wanted attention every TWO hours, which left us a bit groggy in the AM - so it was a slow morning. Bella and I snuck off to the book store for some espresso, a brownie, and some more books. Since it went un-fulfilled on my wishlist, I got the Joy of Yiddish. Bella wanted to find magazines that would be good for her, so we found two nature-oriented ones.

Then it was off to visit the great grandmas. The visit to Grandma K was nice as always. The visit to Grandma B was a touch more eventful. We brought McDonald's (which she loves) and watched in amazement as Bella wolfed down 9 McNuggets. Then both Julie and I stepped out of the room to make phone calls...

And Grandma choked on a Filet-o-Fish sandwich. And Pamela heimliched. And the paramedics showed up, and took her to the hospital. It all turned out well - she's back at home and healthy - but a hospital emergency room was not on the original itinerary. Bella loved the fire trucks and the paramedics.

Afterwards, we went out to see Bailey and Ty, have some dinner, and play the Nintendo Wii. We convinced Pamela to try it out, and she bowled a 177 game on Wii Bowling, and gave Tennis a try... She was very game! The Wii was an absolute kick to play. What a cool system!

We stayed out too late - Bella stayed up until we got home, and passed out quickly at 10 - just 3 hours past her normal bedtime.... and it looks like Isaac just woke back up at 10:45... oh no....

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Miracles Continue

Earlier in the week, I was talking to Ty's mom. (Ty and Bailey being the 15 year old twins who I've known since they were 3 months old... You've read about them before). Apparently Ty has been pining for a Nintendo Wii - the new game console that uses a really cool gesture controller, so when you play tennis, you're actually moving your arm and the racket on the screen matches...

Along with the Playstation 3, the Wii has been one of THE hot items this year, with them going for hundreds of dollars over retail on Ebay, and impossible to find. Ty had been asking relatives for money or gift cards for xmas to help fund a Wii... if only he could find one.

Today I went to Target with Bella and Isaac - my goal was to get more Mylocon anti gas drops for Isaac, who has had some gut troubles these past few days (poor guy). Long story short, they had a few Wiis left. They had got 18 in that morning, and were down to the last 6 by 10am. I got the 3rd to last one. I just had to get it - I figured if Ty already had found one, I could return it, or check with another family... But if he didn't... how cool would THAT be? When fate gives you a door, you need to go through it.

I called them up... and after a little phone tag, I got to tell Ty that he got a Wii. He almost dropped the phone, he was delirious with excitement.

So this evening Bella and I ran over to their house. Ty and dad Rick and run out to the store to get a second controller (unsuccessfully), and when he came home, I gotta give him credit - he did look me in the eye and say hello before he lunged at the box. So we wasted no time and raced upstairs to set up the Wii, and Ty paid me in cash and gift cards. It shipped with sports games, so we got started. I bowled a spare in the bowling game and left them early to an evening of fun. Fortunately I get to visit for the whole evening tomorrow night, so I'll have another chance to play with this.

It was just such a crazy coincidence to be at the right place at the right time, and to be able to help make someone's Christmas even that much more excellent...

Add to this, my Allergies are staying in check - I've had a few more sniffles today - I figure the histamines are breaking down the barricades, but it's being kept well in check by Sudafed (the real stuff, not that horrible PE formulation that does NOTHING. Look, I'm sorry that Meth is out there and that people are having problems, but please do not make the one drug that works for my allergies illegal because people are using it for that purpose. I'm glad to show my license, sign a voucher, whatever, but keep it on the market. PLEASE).

Whoah, that was a tangent. Anyway, the trip continues to be wonderful.

I should mention that my Chicago food "around the world" was almost made complete today: Having had an Italian Combo and a Gyros plate on Saturday, a Portillo's Burger and Maxwell Polish yesterday, I was only missing a Chicago Dog and some Lou Manatti's pizza. I snuck out to get the dog tonight (don't tell anyone), but the Pizza will likely go undone.

Oh man, I will need to hit the gym when I get back. This is craziness.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Further Update


Allergy Update: Spent 3 hours in a house with two golden retrievers and a cat. No ill effects. Something is definitely different this time around.

Bella came up to me and asked "Daddy, are you allergic to Geckos?". No I answered honestly. "Then we can get a Gecko. I love them". Pamela said we could only do that if Kaitie (Bella's animal and lizard loving birth mom) came over every week to handle the feedings and cleanup, because Mommy's not helping with that one.

Another comment from this morning from Bella: She was starting to get a little sassy, and someone said "Santa's still watching". Bella said, "well, we already GOT our presents." We had to add in that he's starting the list for next year. The girl's a little to sharp some days.

Isaac has been passed from person to person to person these days, and tonight he finally just needed some quiet time. I think he's earned it. Also, he has decided to learn how to flip over: He can do back to sides, and belly to back in a flash.

Tomorrow will be another lazy day - though work will be back on, so I imagine I'll be seeing quite a few emails come across... I'll need to filter it a little, but there are some big things happening on my project this week...

A Christmas Miracle

A quick health update: Papabam have a cat (Nissa), and every visit we've had, I've been suffering almost immediately, planning my days between doses of Sudafed.

This visit is different:

I've been here since Friday night, and I have not had a single sniffle. And I have not taken a single dose of allergy medication. I even went to a house last night with two beagles, and again, no sniffles.

Somehow, my allergies got put on hold for this visit. It's amazing. I wonder if I can give credit to my new workout regimen? Or just take it as a Christmas miracle?

Xmas Morn

Bella was full of amazingness this morning. Santa had laid out everything last night, so that there would be no morning assembly. The "Cadillac" gift was a huge 3-foot unicorn. The smallest gift was sets of "Littlest Pet Shop" toys. The educational gift was a how to lace your shoes toy.

Bella walked into the room, wide eyed, walked up to the shoe and said what is a SHOE doing here? Eyebrows were raised. Then the big gasp - we thought for sure the unicorn was being acknowledged... but no:

OH MY GOODNESS - A TURTLE!!! She had keyed into the very smallest toy from the littlest pet shop, and wanted to spend quite a bit of time with it... until I asked her to just look... up.... she literally had not noticed the giant unicorn!

Well, the rest of the opening went very well - she noticed a Groovy Girls DOG and and shrieked that she TOTALLY WANTED THAT, and that she had seen it in a catalog and everything! Then the stocking offered up nail polish and a stationery set - she immediately started a letter to Jenny, then insisted on being nail polished. We said she could have her nails done when we got dressed later in the day...

So she ran off, got dressed, then sat down to have her nails done!

It's been a fun morning - she's full of wonder and excitement. I'm full of smoked salmon and coffee, so I'm very happy too.

One little comment: Papabam live in an apartment building, and Bella demanded to know last night "WHY do Papabam live in a hotel????"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Chicagoland Update

So we picked up the rental minivan Friday, and loaded it up... well beyond the point of sanity. As we loaded, I couldn't help but wonder HOW we would have managed without the extra space. As we drove down, I told Pamela that I knew what she was thinking, that no, we were not going to trade the Jag in for a minivan. We had a good laugh as the crosswinds buffeted the boxcar, the road noise created a roar.... HA! The drive was pretty good, though there was terrible weather for about 100 miles. Of course, Pamela was driving for that stretch.

On the way down, we stopped at Culvers, and Pamela discovered the joy of the Eggnog Shake. Mmmmm (or so I hear).

Bella and Isaac were pretty good road warriors, considering it was 7 hours. When we arrived at ten, both kids got a burst of energy, but by 11, everyone was back asleep. Lilli spent the night, so the girls got up early and started their adventures... Bella loves Lilli so much, it's great to watch them together.

Saturday was a lazy day, with lots of baking and snacking, with Lilli and Bella playing, Isaac was passed around all day. Papa and Jimmy went out to have Johnny's Italian Beefs (actually, I had a combo) - BEST I've eaten in a long long time. This place (Johnny's) has their own recipe, and they were grilling the sausages over a fire, it was too good to pass up. It was only with great fortitude that I decided not to have a second Combo. Rich said it was just as well, that would have been unprecedented, and the news media would have got involved.

In the evening, we put in National Lampoons Xmas Vacation. That's one of the funniest holiday movies ever, but we had all collectively forgotten about all of the cussing in the movie, and we're all waiting for Bella to bust out with the S-word, and the A-word, and the Q-word. Also, I had forgotten how strangely womanly Chevy Chase was in that movie - all of those long shots of him gazing at things... made up with such caked-on makeup...

Bridget and Rich hung out in the evening - it's fun to hear Bridget's tales of the Apple Store, where she is some sort of manager-type. Turns out, their store is not TOO insane this season - it attracts a good clientele. Apparently people are buying these things called "EyePods" or something - it's like a "digital" record player. I should look into those.

Sunday is another lazy day so far, but it'll kick into high gear soon enough - Xmas eve starts at 3:30, then it'll be time for Santa to show up... he likes to spend a little time and set up all of the toys in advance - Santa knows there's nothing sadder than watching Daddy try to undo the packaging on toys with an expectant child waiting....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The love, the horror

The Love: Upgraded my phone to a Samsung Blackjack. SEXY PHONE. Love the phone. Email, Calendar, Contacts, Messaging, Web, it's all there, it's all good. AND it's small. So in summation: I love my phone.

The Horror: The client had their Xmas party today, so everyone left at 3pm to go to... the VFW hall just up the block. I walked in, and it was pretty much EXACTLY how you might imagine a party at a VFW hall would be: Brown carpet, brown chairs. Fried chicken in a buffet on styro plates, Buy your own beer in the bar next door, by the pulltab window. Oh, and it's exempt from the clean air act apparently because the smoke of a thousand ages decided to adhere to my sweater the instant I walked in.

I spent my polite hour and hightailed it. The sweater was thrown out the window somewhere outside of Golden Valley. (not really, but it will be laundered.)

Oh, the book is going to the printers TONIGHT - not last week, since my partner got swamped (literally) in the Seattle storms and only got back into town today. But it's gonna happen.

It's a date night tonight, and that makes it allright. Dinner? Movie? Not sure. We'll see. But no work, please. We need some fun!

(PS - no I did not get that nap Sunday)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Lazy Sunday

We went to the christmas pageant at church today - in typical UU style, it was a fun and slightly irreverent take on the whole business. The adoring animals included fish, a dinosaur, and a skunk (all kids in costumes). Many of the chorus of angels were wearing stripey tights and/or cowboy boots, and the baby jesus was delivered by a gaggle of kids on scooters, skates, and a unicycle, and Mary had to sign for Him.

Afterwards, it was arts and crafts for the kids, and Bella made several ornaments, a candy cane out of beads and pipe cleaners, a colorful votive holder, and a paper dreidel. Then to brunch, and home.

I went to help neighbors buy a computer, and when I got back a mere hour later, Pamela was asleep, as was Isaac, and somehow Bella had the VideoiPod, and was playing WonderPets. I looked at the snoozing Pamela, and she shrugged. Now I'm afraid I'll need to find something ELSE magical for the trip! On the plus side, Bella is giggling like crazy - the wonder pets are working for her!

I need to share that a teenager has joined our family. Occasionally, Bella will move with slightly more poise, and have a more detached, aloof look to her. She asks us to call her "Annalise" and claims to be 18 years old. When she is Annalise, she is very helpful. Last night when Jenny was over, they got Annalise ready to go off to College. Fortunately they came back pretty quickly. It was a wild preview of 14 years into the future.

I wonder if I can get in on the napping action around here? What's a guy got to do?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's See-wee-us

To prep for the road trip to Chicago next weekend, I got some videos for Bella that she doesn't know about. She has ravenously consumed all of the episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Little Einsteins I could find, so I needed to keep these in reserve. But I've been watching them myself - it's a show called "Wonder Pets".

It's maybe the cutest thing I've ever seen. A kindergarten class hamster, duckling, and turtle go out to save animals "in trouble". The whole show is sung like an opera, and there are crazy little jokes throughout it. It's done with animated pictures, not really drawings, so it has a very cut-and-paste look to it. And it is cute cute cute. The songs won't leave my head. And every episode, when things are getting tense, the duckling says "This is SERIOUS!" but of course it is said "see-wee-us".

Allright back to life: Today was BodyJam, and I brought Bella in her special dance outfit. The problem was that it was VERY full today, and Bella got nervous about performing amid 20+ adults. So she played by the sidelines and was totally shy. But they were previewing the next release, with latin dance numbers which I was loving beyond reason. This will be fun. I'm lobbying the management to add a Jam class at 6am, because it's very easy for me to sneak out for 6am, and be at home at 7:15 for a half hour of family time before getting to work by 8. It's a win-win-win.

Speaking of rest - I was officially busted nodding off in a meeting the other day (not by a boss). Fortunately they're chalking it up to me having Isaac in the house. If I'm leading, note taking, or actively participating, there's no problem. But if I'm there in a FYI capacity, and they're talking about finance things, boy, I'd be hard pressed to stay awake even WITH more than 5 hours of sleep. But don't tell them that. I just got extended to the end of 2007.

Other details - I got the final proofs of the book off to my partner, and we should have it at the printers next week... though he may be a tad unfocused because he just had to evacuate his neighborhood outside of Seattle, which is now a disaster area. And I restarted Japanese after a 3 month break (hello Isaac!). So that's fun.

Now I'm going to go curl up with some Sci Fi and fall asleep after 10 pages. See ya!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Correction and a Fairy Tale

1) The correct Pamela quote is "It was F**KING AWESOME". Which is doubly funny because "awesome" is not in her daily vocabulary.

2) Once upon a time there was a little boy named Isaac who got his parents up every single night at 3am for a bottle. I'm not sure how that story goes - I'd like to think that at some point, he decides to let his parents sleep a little, but I can't be sure.

3) Pamela is a frickin' genius. Her business is really starting to get going: She had another magazine spread 3 weeks ago, another arrangement for hire last weekend, and a set of centerpieces were finished last night for a highfalutin' brunch. Her arrangements continue to amaze me. Huzzah!

Now I'm off to work.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bond... James Bond.

Oh did we have a good evening out. Saw the new James Bond finally. Here is Pamela's review:

"The theme song was terrible. The rest of the movie KICKED F****ING ASS!!!!" (Parents please assume the F means "Freak" or "Funk" or "Flannel". Pamela does not use bad language).

I agree. Daniel Craig was fantastic - I will watch him in movie after movie now. I am a fan.

I did note that both Sony and Ford were well represented: Ford makes the Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Land Rover vehicles that were present throughout. At least it was classy - I'm reminded of the horrible Pierce Brosnan one a few years back where Smirnoff bought sponsorship, and we were faced with Bond drinking cheap vodka... Oh the horror.

Geek OUT.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Two more details

1) I did get up and do bodypump at 6am this morning, and after the massive MDF Ikea building project yesterday, it's fair to say I was a bit sore this morning... Ooof!

2) Some rules from Bella:
- Cracks on the road are filled with Ants
- Cracks on the sidewalk are filled with Spiders
- You should not step on these cracks.
- But if you do, you should apologize to the ants or spiders.

Much better than the "Break your mothers back" nonsense.

Ikea Power

Saturday we had babysitting all day - Bella out with Jenny, Isaac with Grandma and Grandpa. So we each carpe diem'ed the best way we knew how: Pamela had a good snooze-in and a spa morning, and I did errands, ate a meatball sub, and went to BodyJam. We re-convened around 2, each refreshed in our own way. We had a few hours left kidless... so what to do?


Pamela had another one of her grand plans: This time, to find a computer desk and filing cabinet for the room off of the kitchen - move the computer off the couch, move the toys down to the basement, and make that more of a work/lounge area. As luck would have it, we found just the right stuff, and even better, they have a delivery service that will bring it right to where you need it. Easy money to spend, if you've ever hefted a single flatpack of MDF "wood".

The goods arrived Sunday at 11, and I spent the whole day schlepping stuff OUT of the room, and building new furniture IN the room. It was all ready by 11pm, though the rest of the house looked as though a bomb had gone off... AND after that bomb went off, some bears and squirrels decided to re-arrange things even further.

When I came home from work today, I was shocked and delighted to find that Pamela had made it "all better" - I can only imagine that she has some way of wiggling her nose that makes things get re-arranged. It was wonderful. AND dinner was on the table. TACO NIGHT - Bella's favorite.

Tonight, Bella had two soft and two hard tacos. She made them herself with generous helpings of beef, cheese, and sour cream. This is the ONLY medium in which she will consume ground beef... but consume it she does.

Pamela ran off into the evening to be a good samaritan and decorate the tree of a woman who is recovering from colon cancer, whose husband had a debilitating stroke just a year ago - they're such a sweet family, and these woes are just too sad... especially considering they're pretty close to our age! But Pamela and her church gang are out there helping.

It was up to me to Mister Mom tonight, and I got a doublewhammy of Bella having a LOT of energy and Isaac having a stomach ache and alternately giggling, puking, screaming, and then demanding more bottle... lather rinse repeat. To her credit, my very mature little Bella understood the Isaac score, and was very helpful for bedtime, though she did get distracted by arranging a 10-dog birthday party in the bathroom, with place settings for each. She said the party wasn't for her, but for "Cassandra". She also gave me a gift bag with a clock in it, and I was to give it to Cassandra.

Pamela's home, and she has finally got Isaac to chill out again (though I did get close twice in her absence), and I think it's an early bedtime...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spaghetti Night

Seeing my old buddy Mike the other night reminded me of an adventure we undertook... with very mixed results. Back in high school (around 1985 here), we were convinced that we were vastly more intelligent and cultured than just about anyone else... period. We'd sit around his house and listen to The Style Council, knowing all of the neo-socialist words and we'd drive around looking for coffee shops that nobody knew about (this was before coffee shops were ubiquitous).

We decided that we were do sophisticated, we had the ability to literally BLOW SOMEONES MIND. We crafted a plan: We'd invite someone over... someone who we had reason to believe was not as cool and cultured as we were... and we would wow them with our utter sophistication.

So the plan was hatched: We'd invite Greta over, have spaghetti (mom had a great sauce recipe), listen to the Colourfield, Everything but the Girl, and The Style Council, and get into discussions that were sure to raise her conservative hackles, at which point, our cleverness would somehow show her a thing or two. Greta was a popular girl from a different school.

The only problem was that we took a good week concocting this plan, and when it came time to execute it, we failed utterly. See, Greta turned out to be pretty smart, and charming, and liked that music too, and hated Reagan too, and instead of a battle of the wits, we wound up having a pretty pleasant afternoon. And she went off into her evening, and we just sat there and realized that maybe just maybe that really wasn't such a good plan. In fact, the entire idea was patently ridiculous, and that for all of our talk, we really just wanted to spend some time with Greta who was very cute. And we did perhaps learn that maybe people were a bit more than they seemed sometimes.

And we did enjoy the spaghetti, because THAT part of the plan was foolproof.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Big Kids

I'm just going to say it: My kids are getting bigger. Appreciably so. Bella put on 4 lbs in the past 2 weeks... and is looking a touch chunky. She's eating like a maniac - fish sticks, chicken nuggets, pad thai, burritos, spaghetti, egg rolls you name it. She's trying new food - she's up to over 20 new things tried in the past 4 weeks. Isaac is putting away the bottles like nobody's business. They're both revving up for growth spurts, I can just TELL.

Last night was a pleasure: We went to see the Blind Boys of Alabama at the new Guthrie, and thoroughly enjoyed the old gospel sound. They were just a riot to watch - they kept standing up and wandering around, being all blind and whatnot. After one song that was perhaps a LITTLE flat, the leader paused and said "well, that one is basically still in rehearsal. But we hope you liked it anyway". The end was a good 20 minute gospel stomp with the leader wandering up and down the aisles while his sighted "minder" kept losing track of him and making exasperated gestures - great comedy.

Warming up for them was my old buddy and bandmate Mike Mattison, and his duo Scrapomatic. They did old mississippi blues and other soul/blues sort of stuff. Mike is graced with an AMAZING set of pipes that just keep sounding better every year - he has developed a gruff rumble that is somewhere between Tom Waits and someone human... but he can also clear it up and sing just like he did back in the 80's with our fabulous INXS-style band. He was funny and the audience loved them.

Most bizzarely, they would occasionally break into little "Yah-dee-dah-dee-dah" lines that sounded like 1930s black and white cartoons - it was a bit jarring, but very amusing. We tried to see him after the show, but it seems he escaped with some old cohorts... the same ones he tended to escape with back when WE were in bands together. They are not good influences, these cohorts. I did scan the papers and he didn't get into any trouble I could see, or at least he was able to hush it up.

A funny thing - when I saw his mom, I could not bring myself to use her first name: I introduced her to my wife as "Mrs Mattison". That's the sort of thing we did as kids - parents did not have first names. I'm still not sure mine do, other than as part of email/mail addresses. It just doesn't seem right.

Tonight was all about the work: We got a LOT of cards done over coffee, and most readers of this will probably be GETTING the results of our labor shortly. I was reflecting on the seinfeld where George's fiancee Susan expired from licking toxic envelopes. That was me. I am expiring.

Finally, Bella's just killing us with this new "blase" act: She has a great time doing something, and then after the fact she'll state "that was BORING". "I wish I was playing with JENNY or something". It's all we can do to keep from giggling at our little world weary creature... so we tease her, as any loving parent would do.