Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tonight's Episode: 7 Word September
September is a big and busy month in our family. Big because Amy, Bunny Girl and I all celebrate birthdays in September. Busy for the same reasons and also when you throw in a new school year, soccer season and Awana into the mix. Last year on kind of a whim I decided to title all my September Blog Posts with exactly 7 words. This was first of all as an homage to Six Word Saturday at Show My Face dot com and also because September has the prefix for 7 in it's name. This often gets missed as it is the ninth month of the year.
As this month as passed by I noticed something in the minutia of meaningless statistics. If you did not know this about me, I brake for the minutia of meaningless statistics. According to my blog archive, I published less posts in September 2009 than I did in any other month that year. With today's post I have published more posts in September of this year than any other month so far in 2010. The most of posts, the least of posts, not quite Dickens, but it's something.
If you noticed 7 Word September, I hope you enjoyed it. If you didn't, I hope you at least liked the posts.
Next Time: My Son the action hero
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
We have finally wandered into the top 10 most used labels in the initial 300 posts of this here blog.
# 10 Daviver's Travels
While we are not one of those families that vacations every year, we do enjoy travelling and when we do travel whether it be a field trip, a day trip, or a weekend getaway, I like to post about it here.
Today I'd like to talk about completing my panda trilogy earlier this year. And as most really good trilogies go, it has 4 parts. But to be technically correct let's call the 3rd part an interlude.
Part I:In the late eighties on a whim, I travelled by bus from Illinois to Mexico. While on the trip, I visited an old pastor who was currently a missionary in Mexico City. I also visited an ex-girlfriend who was studying in Monterrey for the summer. While I was in Mexico City I went to the Mexico City Zoo and saw the pandas among other things. I took some great pictures of the pandas but those pictures, not unlike my plans to patch things with the ex-girlfriend, did not develop.
Part II: A few years later, the summer I graduated college, I was accepted on a 2 year missions assignment to teach English in the Chengdu province of China. Chengdu is the area in China pandas are indigenous to. The above picture was taken at the Chengdu panda reserve. In my interview process, one of the missions staff introduced himself as the person you never want to receive phone calls from. There was a 2-3 month period between my being accepted and my leaving the country. During that time I worked in my father's office. One day at lunch I called home to check the answering machine and lo and behold, I heard the voice of the man you never want to get calls from. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say the Chengdu job did not develop either.
Interlude - Not all things develop the way you want or expect them to. Even though the girlfriend thing, the mission thing or the panda thing did not develop, other better things did. 3 months after China being closed to me, I was in Russia teaching English, starting churches and sharing the love of Christ in ways I could not have in China. Incidentally, Russia did not open up for visitors like myself until after I had been accepted for China. About a year after the Mexico trip, I ended up meeting the woman who would become the love of my life. Even though that picture took some time to develop.
Part III. This spring, about 12 years after Amy and I got married we visited Washington D.C. Amy had never been to D.C. and it was a long awaited and very cherished trip. On that trip we as a family saw pandas at the National Zoo; they were surprisingly active on the day we went. That visit did not turn out exactly the way we had planned it, but like the adventures depicted here, better than I could have imagined.
Next Time: 7 word September ends
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Even though I am unable/unwilling to watch broadcast television in its traditional venue on a television, that is not to say I do not watch television. Thanks to DVD sets I borrow from our library system and websites such as Hulu, I consume many television programs. I then in turn blog about some of them here. Many of my television posts are about the phenomenon that is Chuck. So much so that it has its own label in the top 25. Today's post will not be about my favorite nerd herder/super spy. Today's post will be about an over 30 year passion of mine.
I love the new television season. Even in the years that I consumed no television at all in any venue, I have followed the television season with much anticipation. The new television season reminds me of a new season in professional sports. You will have some winners and losers; you just can't be 100% sure of who they are going to be.
Something I have noticed over the years is that the t.v. programs often change a little after the initial or pilot episode. Sometimes it takes a show a little while to find it's way. This has taught me to give a show a second or third look even if I wasn't too thrilled initially. There are some shows however, when one look is one too many.
Thanks to Hulu and CBS.COM I have been able to watch many of the new t.v. programs for this year. In today's post I will give a quick review of each show I have so far consumed. There are some shows I have not watched yet like The Event and some shows like No Ordinary Family and Law and Order Los Angeles that have not yet premiered. Here is what I've seen so far:
Hawaii 5-0 CBS - I don't remember ever watching a full episode of the original 5-0 back when I was a kid. I of course knew the characters and the taglines and the theme song. I did watch a number of episodes from Season 2 of the original to get ready for the new one. One thing I noticed is that my 4 year old really enjoyed watching these old shows with me. I enjoyed them alright but nowhere to the point that I thought I misspent my youth or anything like that.
The new show wants to put a 21st century spin on the franchise. Here's a hint: if you want to put a 21st century spin on a show, don't hire anyone from Designing Women to play the Governor of Hawaii. It is not Smart (pun intended) casting. The first episode had some merit. I wasn't all that wowed with the plot, or action but there is a good deal of chemistry between Dan-o and McGarrett and I could imagine being there next week, aloha.
Running Wilde - Fox. I haven't been a regular viewer of a Fox comedy since Duet in the network's inaugural year. Running Wilde will not be next. While the first episode didn't exactly impress me, I did not loathe it either. The romantic coupling of an egocentric and a save the world girl is not a new thing. It has been done many times and often better than this. There is some quirky humor and it is possible I might watch it again, although highly doubtful.
Undercovers - NBC. I like spy action shows and I also like romantic comedies. So I gave this a shot. Aside from the comic relief of an assistant spy, there was not much I liked about this show. Chuck, Covert Affairs, Burn Notice and Human Target all do this genre much much better. I will give it another chance but if it continues to be Hart to Hart with action sequences, I will pass.
Chase - NBC. This is 2 shows in a row where NBC is throwing out shows that are currently being done much better. I did like Chase, but isn't this show an awful lot like In Plain Sight? One Marshall chases criminals the other relocates witnesses. The difference is that In Plain Sight so far does it with more pathos, humor and originality. I certainly will watch this one again, but I am not going to hunt it down every week.
Outlaw - NBC. A new show with Jimmy Smits definitely got my attention. I like law shows and this one showed a lot of promise, until I watched the first episode. There is just too much sex and innuendo in this show and not enough law. I decided that I would not watch a second episode but my wife said that the 2nd episode had more merit than the first. She was right. She also said something very telling: she said all the people on Smits' staff add nothing to the show. She was right about that as well.
My Generation - ABC. There are so many t.v. shows these days that are fake documentaries that it is difficult to keep track of all of them. This one stands out. in that it is a drama rather than a comedy. I didn't think that much else stood out about this show that catches up with a bunch of Austin, TX high school students from the class of 2000, 10 years later. It's an okay idea, but so far not very intriguing.
Detroit 1-8-7 - ABC. Of all the new shows I have seen,this is far and away the best. It takes the cop genre to a new level. The show had good writing, believable characters, humor and some innovative ways of telling a story. I thought I knew how the pilot would end. I pride myself on being able to figure how loose ends will be tied up in a 1 hour episode. I knew the episode would end with a certain ring tone. It was the minute before the ring tone that blew me away. I am looking forward to watching this groundbreaking show again and again.
Next time: Apple Picktures
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Last night's production was a little unusual in that it was performed by a troupe from the Penguin Project. The Penguin Project started in the Peoria, Illinois area and is theatre performed by children who are handicapped or have other special needs. The Peoria Troupe has spun off two additional troupes since then both in Illinois, one in the Bloomington/Normal area and this weekend in the Sycamore/Dekalb area.
I attended last night because my nephew who is a 4th grader was one of the artists in the production. The Penguin Project calls all their special needs performers artists. They pair each artist with a mentor, a student without disabilities who performs alongside the artists. Now if you think this would turn out like special ed students in a play with 1 on 1 aides you could not be farther from the truth. The mentors blend into the background and besides some limited physical assistance and a few line prompts were indistinguishable from the rest of the troupe.
Anyone familiar with Annie knows that the juiciest part of the show is not Annie, it's Miss Hannigan - the director of the orphanage. This version's Miss Hannigan was hands down the best I have ever seen and I say that meaning no disrespect for Carol Burnett. The girl who played her showed excellent comic bravada and a tremendous singing voice to boot. I could go and tell you which disability or special needs he and each other performer had, but the strength of their performances was what they could do and not what they could not.
Here is my nephew getting congratulated by his sister as his mentor watches over him.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
This is the book that did me in.
I have heard for many years how the book was far superior to the movie. So instead of watching the movie, I got the book from the library. I found the premise of the book very captivating. Time travelers in literature, are a generally glorified lot. The idea of time travel as genetic defect is very intriguing. From the excellent prologue on, this book shows the time traveller and his wife both with many adverse effects of his disease.
I really did enjoy the dual narration from the principal characters. I especially liked when they were both describing the same scenes from differing POV. I also liked how the story moved in and out of time but still maintained a chronal cohesiveness.
However, at times the cohesiveness would slip and I would not know when or where the characters were forcing me to go back and read again. The book is also quite lengthymhich is okay when done right. The secret of a great book is no matter how long it is, when you are finished you still want to know more. If you make the book over long you run into the possibility that the reader may stop wanting to know more even before they finish reading. Or in this case, I ended up needing to have been told more than I actually was. Unanswered questions after 500 pages are in my mind never a good thing.
I often will read several books at a time and I read Time Travellers Wife in fits and spurts. In between those spurts I started several other books but only finished one.
I am a big David Rosenfelt especially his Andy Carpenter series. Dog Tags is not one of Rosenfelt's or Carpenter's better efforts. I don't mind if his plots go to the dogs but I'd hate to see his writing head there as well.
As a whole it was a pretty good book. But there were some things on a book level and a series level that I found unsettling. On the book level, I am used to twists and turns of the legal and illegal worlds that Rosenfelt sometimes makes us privy to. However, I thought the subplot concerning the jury was either underdeveloped, poorly conceived, extremely unrealistic, or all three. on a series level, while I liked the addition of a new 2nd chair lawyer, I don't like the direction Rosenfelt seems to be heading with some of the other ensemble characters. Willie's role in this book was far too contrived. Also, I miss song talking!
So, there we have it. While I have not achieved my goal of 10 books read, I have achieved my goal of reviewing each book I did read and posting those reviews here. Sometime later this fall I hope to put up a Summer Reading 2010 page on this blog so you can have all the reviews in one more manageable place.
Next Time: Fall T.V.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
About a year ago my Dad called me up and wondered if I wanted a typing program he had on CD ROM. My Dad and I are very similar in that we don't mind clutter. We are a little different in how we don't mind it. I don't mind it because If I had my own way I would collect every scrap of anything on the off chance I might need it again. My Dad doesn't mind clutter as long as it's not in his house. So, he calls me up every couple weeks with something he wants to unload on me. Now my wife likes to curb my propensity for clutter by putting my clutter on the curb. So we have come to an understanding. I say no to my Dad as often as I can. My Dad just moves on to the next child in his Rollerdex. (Yes, our last name is Roller, and that was a bad pun.)
On this occasion, I said yes to my Dad because Amy and I had been talking about getting the kids involved in a typing program. My Dad gave me the disc and I put it somewhere and moved on with my life.
Fast forward to June 2010. Amy and I are at the Home School Convention and we remember that we want the kids to take typing. So we bought a CD Rom called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. I forgot all about the fact that I already had a copy of it that my Dad gave me.
About a week later I found the copy my Dad gave me and the 2 oldest kids and I started using it. It is a fantastic program that allows children and adults to progress at their own pace. What I like best about it is that the kids just love using it.
Here is a sample lesson that I have been working on.
That is why Mavis Beacon works for me. I'd like it toy work for you also. We are using version 15 and I am offering an unopened copy of version 18 to the hundredth caller. I have been advised I do not have a radio show and have not given out my telephone # so I will go ahead and give this copy to a random commenter. If you post about this giveaway on your blog or Facebook page or other social media, leave another comment with the link. Also, if you are a follower of my blog just say I am a follower on your comment and I will give you one more entry. If you are not a follower of my blog, this would be a good time to do so.
This give-a-way will end at 6 pm central time Sunday October 3rd. So please leave a comment and join my give-a-way. I will believe it will be just your type.
Next Time: Summer Reading
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
I have decided to make my weekly summaries available on this blog as well. Every 4 weeks or so I'll put the most recent ones in a post.
Here are the first 4.
Next Time: Six Word Saturday
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Next Time: A month full of weekly wrap-ups
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Next Time: Time Travel or Ipods whichever comes first.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
In the previous post she had removed my little blurb about what was coming next and wrote "Next Time: Bob Newhart Loves Dave." Sure, I could have simply changed back to my blurb. But we would probably still be playing tug-of -blog. So I showed her! I just wrote a silly post to match her silly title.
So why oh why would I give her more license for craziness instead of suspending her license? To meld Mickey Mouse Club and Sally Field : Y? Because I like her, I really really like her. I am sure you will like her to.
Next Time: Ipod casts aspersions.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
We went to a concert at church last night. It was very good. The opening act was a guy named Ben Calhoun who used to attend the same church I used to attend so I got that going for me.
Sure it's a little distracting that he looks like Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura Pet Detective, but he makes it work for him. After his set and a short intermission, Paul Colman took the stage. Colman, an Austrailian who spent 3 years with the Newsboys (The band not the paper deliverers,) has a unique blend of hillarity, passion and raw talent. Even those not familiar with his work would be familiar with his opening number.
Our whole family went to the concert and quite enjoyed it. The fact that both girls fell asleep during the concert, notwithstanding. Everyone was up at 6 a.m. for Amy's birthday breakfast so by 9:30 they were all pretty crashworthy.
One of my favorite parts of the concert was when Colman and Calhoun gigged together. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera had gone out, so I have no footage to share.
While Paul Coleman and Ben Calhoun have not made it on my list of top three Christian artists (Allen Levi, Michael Card, and Randy Stonehill, if you had to ask, ) last night's concert gave them a both a step in the right direction. I would highly recommend their music. And I would highly recommend sugarless gum to my patients who chew gum. I would also recommend sugarless gum to my patients who did not chew gum, but hey, that's me.
Next time: I hope she doesn't make me regret it....
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Usually the person is greeted in the morning to the song. Tomorrow is Amy's actual birthday and since she usually leaves before I'm fully awake, we did not sing the almost birthday song. We decided to film a version of the song and post it on facebook during our morning break. As we were filming it Amy called from work for the express purpose of lamenting that we did not sing for her in the morning.
We are sorry for that but we were certainly thinking of you Hon when we filmed this . . .
Happy Almost Birthday. We love you very much.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The ice truck? The horse and carriage? Movable type? What would it be??
These are things Dave would ponder.
He also would ponder if famous people were fans of normal people since normal people were fans of famous people. For instance, Dave loved Bob Newhart. But did Bob Newhart love Dave? Would Bob Newhart think, "Hey that Dave is great." He makes radio shows in his car. He spends time with his family. He returns money if he is undercharged. Dave felt that any day now he would get a request for a signed picture of himself from Bob Newhart, so Dave just sent him one.
Next Time: Summer Reading Results
Monday, September 6, 2010
If I made a list of things I really like, libraries, winning things, and minor league baseball would be pretty high on it. None of them would be as high as spending quality time with my family. But when I can spend quality time with my family that involves libraries, minor league baseball and winning ,that's what I call fun.
In fact you can even call it fun on a budget.
Let me explain. . .
Fun on a Budget is in a 3-way tie for 12th in the labels I used most in my first 300 posts. Fun on a budget is not really about saving money. It's about having fun without breaking the bank, but it's mostly about having fun.
Let's take today for example. This summer, all 3 of my children participated in a summer reading program at our local library. I have gone on an on in these pages about about how I feel about libraries. Summer reading programs may be the cream of the library crop. The reading program ended over a month a go and we are still reaping the benefits. Yesterday we used a restaurant coupon one of the kids earned and today all 3 kids used vouchers they earned for a ticket each to the final regular season game of our local minor league baseball team. Sure, Amy and I had to buy tickets but that only cost us $20.00 total. That's less money than I spent on parking at last Sunday's White Sox game. (Cougars parking was free.)
The thing I like most about minor league baseball is that it's basically a circus with a baseball game in between. The fans eat the peanuts rather than the elephants. Every 1/2 inning there is some cool event. Today was extra special since it was fan appreciation day. It seemed like they gave something away after every pitch.
Another thing I like about it is the cool teams names. I have seen Bees, Bombers, Chiefs, and Sand Gnats just to name a few. Today it was the Cougars vs. the Timber Rattlers. The home team Cougars who had already clinched the playoffs seem to phone it in, losing to the Rattlers 7 to nothing.
But all was not lost. In one of the every 1/2 inning fun events I mentioned earlier, they picked a random fan to participate in a game called true or false. Faithful readers know that they could not have picked a more random fan than yours truly, and pick me they certainly did.
The idea of the game is they say two statements about the Cougars. I was given a sign that said true on one side and false on the other. With the help of the audience, I have to choose if the statements are true or false. Now, this was my first game of the season so I wasn't exactly up on Cougars trivia. So I did what I did on more college exams than I would like to admit, I guessed.
And I scored about the same as I did on some of those exams, 50%. But instead of getting a fat juicy F, I was given a really cool Cougars cap. I collect baseball caps, so this was really really cool.
Libraries, Minor League baseball and winning things you collect are 3 examples of fun on a budget. I hope this blog post has given you some fun on a budget as well, as all it probably cost you was a few minutes of reading time.
Next Time: Bob Newhart Loves Dave and other Short Stories
Friday, September 3, 2010
"I know we don't do school tomorrow, but is it okay if we bring Handwriting Without Tears?"
We didn't end up getting to it, but it still shows a drastic shift in handwriting instruction at our home school. My children hate to write. They would rather (insert gross disgusting boring or painful activity here. Ex: Have their hair set on fire) than practice their handwriting.
So last year at the home school convention my wife bought Handwriting Without Tears books for all 3 of them. I was skeptical. Skeptical? No, I was dubious. Dubious? I was more apprehensive. Apprehensive doesn't quite do it either. I was thinking, my kids will be the kids who make Handwriting without tears change their name. I thought that when we are done with it, it would have to be called "Handwriting Without Tears except for students at the Izola Becker Home School, they cry quite frequently".
The truth is the kids love it, as their desire to do it on a non school day attests. It is very easy. My 4 year old, 8 year old and eleven year old all work independently and often ask to do another page. Today they enjoyed it so much they broke into whistling. I immediately got the camera out and took some footage.
I can see that the kids are getting better with their handwriting and this is just the second week.
Here are some examples of their progress. . .
The simplicity of the instrtuction and the compelling illustrations make this one of the best programs I have ever used. I would recommend it highly to anyone who might be looking for a handwriting curriculum. Handwriting without Tears works for me. Unless of course you like tears, then you may have to try something else.
Next Time: The Time Traveler's Wife.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
1. I like this picture cause it shows our bunny girl at the point of being surprised at her birthday party on Sunday. I especially like it, because it shows Amy in the background. Amy was definitely in the background making sure the party went off without a hitch.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
It all started with a game of school break karate and ended with a crash.
The kids broke a window in our reading room. Noone was hurt and the kids felt bad, but windows break sometimes.
My Dad came over and showed me what needed doing. Spider droid watched in the background.
Then I put him to work, which he gave 2 thumbs up.
We got the broken glass out. Now all that remains to be done is to put in a new one.