Saturday, December 31, 2011

Isaac and Pork

Driving home with Isaac:
"What's for dinner Dad?"
Pork tenderloin.
"I don't like Pork."
You do like Pork.  You like Bacon and Ham, it's the same thing.
"No, Pork comes from a different part of the pig, and pigs roll around in mud".
They clean the pig before...
"Before they stick the pig?  Before they kill it?"
Um.. yes....
"We shouldn't do that to animals, do you understand?"
I hear you...
"But I asked do you UNDERSTAND?"
Yes, I understand.
"Dad, Pork is OFF THE MENU.   FOREVER!"  (with a dramatic wave of his hands)
"Pigs.... they just need to SURVIVE".

45 minutes later, Isaac was happily munching on a big strip of bacon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Mode - Part 1

Depeche Mode Albums and my strongest memory of each, first in a series...

First a full confession, it took me until 1983 until I started getting into synth pop at all...  

Speak and Spell (their first album, 1981)
Sitting at camp in Colorado in summer 1983.  A kid from LA was telling me all about "synth pop", and let me hear a tape on my walkman...  side 1 was Depeche Mode Speak and Spell, side 2 was something by OMD.  To my virgin ears (and the low quality tape player) it sounded too tinny and awful.  It wasn't until 1985 that I truly revisited that album.

A Broken Frame (their second album, 1982):
It took until 1987 - second half of freshman year, at a party.  The record was on, and I barely recognized it - I had leapfrogged over that album back in the early 1980s, since I started with Construction Time Again.    I remember telling the host that it was "cool that he was into Depeche, but man this is their worst album, isn't it?"  The host took it as a bit of an insult, and was right to.  In the months that followed, I finally went back and listened to the album, and realized that while not perfect, it really had some great tunes.  

Construction time Again (their third album, 1983):  
Sitting in my living room, perhaps in 1983, listening to a documentary on public radio about the new "electronic sound" - Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk were featured.  My friend Jeannine and I each vowed to buy one album from each artist - she picked Kraftwerk, I picked Depeche, and bought Construction Time Again...   and truth be told I didn't actually LIKE it at first, and was very jealous at Jeaner's Kraftwerk.  It wasn't until a year later that I gave it another listen....  and finally got it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Moments in IL

We're relaxing at last down in Palatine - it's been a long few days of travel and family excitement, and we're finally on a "down day".  The dogs have been doing well on their visit too, adjusting well to apartment living.

Isaac and I took off for a quick runabout earlier today - all of the holiday mayhem had us both needing a break, but also stewing a bit in our juices.  So we went off to Pinstripes for a little bowling action:  Of course being the day after Christmas, it was PACKED.  But the hostess offered up a lane for 25 minutes...     which was exactly enough time for one game of speed bowling. 

Isaac has been playing a fair amount of Wii:  He loves Super Mario of course...   but there's a little limitation:  When playing one player, you can only be Mario, but if you play two player, the second player can be the other characters.  Isaac has decided he only likes playing if he gets to be the Blue Mushroom guy...  which is ok if I'm playing with him...   but when I am busy, he has a "method" to play the blue guy that sort of disturbs me:

Basically he plays as two player, and lets Mario die over and over.   It disturbs me.  But then I'm probably reading too much into it.  I did make a comment about it, and now he's having the blue guy carry Mario along with him.

Bella has been spending most of her time with Papa working on art:  She got a book on how to draw dragons, and has been drawing drawing drawing.  Her cousin Lilli gave her a crazy wolf hat that she's been wearing non-stop, and her other cousins have her a hot pink snuggie blanket.  Also, Isaac gave her a pair of ladybug head hugger headphones.  I just caught her hunched over a drafting table tracing dragons, listening to reggae on the headphones.  It's pretty amazing.

In my traditional role as tech support, I have helped the in-laws with their technology.  This trip, it involved helping them buy a new TV and Blu-Ray player, upgrading their cable internet to a faster speed model, redoing their wireless network, adding  a DVR and upgrading the cable to HD...   Well that was fun!  Also, they got a new iPad too, and I got that hooked up too.  Earning my keep!

Oh, and here are some pictures

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three Isaac Quotes

Three quotes from Isaac in the past 2 weeks:

Quote 1:  With Mom at Breakfast (Reprinted from Pamela's Facebook Post)
Breakfast at Perkins with Isaac before school this week.
His order came. Pancakes with whipped cream and sprinkles and a side of bacon. His "usual".
He looked down and asked "Mom, who chased down this pig?"
"What Isaac?".
"Mom, I'm serious. Who in here chased down this pig. Was it hard to catch him? Was it HER? (points to waitress) Was it hard to get it in here? Who killed it?

Quote 2:  In the Car with Dad
I was driving with Isaac the other day and he announced "Dad, I know of a way to take off a penis"
"Actually I know of TWO WAYS to take off a penis".
Ok, what are they?
"Scissors, or a sharp knife"

Quote 3:  in Bed
Isaac has been great about his potty training, and the one time he still wears pull-ups is at night.  He has been asking about when he can stop wearing them.  Our agreement is that if he goes 3 nights with a dry pull-up, he can go commando.  

So when we were in bed on night 3 after 2 dry nights, he said "ok, tonight, no peeing.  Keep it all in until I wake up and go to the toilet".
I replied "yes, that's right"
"Dad, I wasn't talking to you.  I was talking to my penis".

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

And now some education

From: Breay, Jim
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2011 2:58 PM
 Street Naming Question

We live on Scott Terrace in Edina, and our 5 year old son was wondering if it would be possible to change the name of our street from “Scott Terrace” to “Super Mario Galaxy Street”.  I told him I would ask the city whether that might be possible, and what the process would be to move forward.

For my own part, I’d suggest we change the name to “Megalodon Shark Terrace”.  I think that really either one would really provide some additional “curb appeal” to the coveted 5-7 year old boy demographic.

Thank you!

Jim B-Reay

From: Steve Kirchman
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2011 15:42:16 -0600
To: Jim Balabuszko-Reay
Subject: RE: Street Naming Question


City ordinances contain no provisions for renaming streets. If all homeowners on Scott Terrace submit a request to have the name changed to another specific name, staff will prepare a report and recommendations to forward to City Council.

Description: http://intranet/images/signature/citylogosig.gif
Steve Kirchman, Chief Building Official
...For Living, Learning, Raising Families & Doing Business

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Another day of learning

As you all probably know, I'm happiest on a project when I'm learning something new.  Today I spent time learning about a new thing:  Laboratory Services.  This is where they send the blood and samples, and they run the tests and grow the cultures and press the slides and look through the microscopes.  But here's what I didn't know:

It is a magic land of robots.

Practically every test involves spinning something, or raising or lowering the temperature, or adding a precise amount of some agent, and then spinning it again, and then adding another re-agent.  Over and over.  And they have built very interesting machines that do all of this for us.  The human measures the sample into a tube and places it into a machine.  The machine moves the tube around, spins it, then a needle attached to the end of a robot arm squirts something in there, and then the tube moves some more...  And the human watches a screen and notes the numbers that are shown.

I don't know how much fun the actual people are having, but I bet would be LESS fun to be doing all of the repetitive tasks that the machines are doing.  And I was hypnotized watching these machines.  I was on a simple introductory tour and kept finding myself lagging behind the group because I had become transfixed by yet another robot.  I was imagining manic xylophone music, too.

On the tour was a visit to the blood bank:  They had a retina scanner for entry (I did try, and the prim british voice said "pull back, come forward, forward, back a little, back a little, ACCESS DENIED").  They had "plasma shakers" - things that looked like glass doored refrigerators, but that had racks and racks of milky plasma in bags, and the racks moved back and forth constantly, shaking the plasma so it wouldn't gel or something.  The red blood, that just sat in fridges.  But plasma is ALWAYS ON THE MOVE.

I put on a disposable lab coat and went through the virology lab:  I saw a clean room where a man was inspecting samples that had been deep frozen and had a thick layer of frost over the labels.  I was hopeful that no alien spores were in there... though to be fair, if they were spores, that would be the mycobiology lab, not virology.  I passed several robots that were not moving and dark, with sleek glass enclosures and giant monitors next to them indicating that their DECONTAMINATION CYCLE had 3 hours remaining of the 8 required.  8 hours to clean a robot at high heat.

I had to take a call and missed the genetic testing, stem cell, and pathology lab walkthroughs, but I'll have another chance next week.

The system I'll be helping them pick is not robotic, nor does it shake anything.  It's the computer system that sits behind it all, tracking the orders for who gets what test, keeps track of who belongs to what sample, and what their results are, and then forwards that info along to their medical record.  The organization behind the robots.

And so it was a fun day.