Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A new hobby

"We might be millionaires." That's the sentence that started off my newest hobby. Without going into a huge amount of detail that sentence was from a conversation with my Dad about a week and a half ago. Turns out that a great uncle of his owned some land that may or may not belong to my Dad and his brother. However, we aren't sure if this is a hoax or honest request. So my Dad asks for my help since I'm better at searching the Internet than either of my parents.

Mind you neither my Uncle or Father could tell me anything identifiable about this property. Just that it belonged to his Uncle "Mick" who was the brother of my great-grandfather and that it was in a small town by a river (I am being deliberately vague here). But that was it. No address. So initially, I call the Assessors of both possible counties to no luck.

So finally, I went back to a hobby that I work on from time to time - my family tree. Using the tools available through a Genealogy website, I found his name, his wife's name and their children. Some of it is sketchy because it was collected by hand, but no property addresses. But it got me going again on the family tree. For kicks, I decided to add Keds' family tree as well. I figured as long as I'm working on this, I should at least create something for our kids.

So now this is in full-blown obsession mode. I made contact with distant cousins and was able to fill in a tremendous amount of information. My first cousin did a lot of work on our mutual grandparents so I have that info. Plus, I got a TON of old pictures from my folks. It's really interesting. Mind you, I may go blind in the process trying to figure out what ship my ancestors were on coming through Ellis Island, but what the heck. It'll give my kids a great story!

Have any of you done work on your family trees?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A few random thoughts

A few random thoughts as I wait for the Green Flag to drop at the Daytona 500.

My Valentine's Day gift this year was a new cell phone. The one I settled on was the LG Shine. It's a slider phone, which is new for me. It's 3G, which is cool because I do check scores on the Internet often. The voice quality appears good and I'm just figuring out what else it does.

We also got our Harmony remote this week. I got it set up on Saturday. Keds is very excited. She feels like she can now used our TV without messing with multiple remotes.

Keds and I went out on a date last night. Dinner at PF Changs (always yummy) and then a movie. Last night was Charlie Wilson's War. It was definitely the sort of movie I'd enjoy. Based in history, it's the story of a real-life former US Congressman that made it his personal goal to fund the Afghan Mujahideen defeat the Soviet Red Army. He happened to be on the right House subcommittee to make it happen. A number of characters in the movie are historical, while I have no doubt that some of the scenes were dramatized to help keep the audience interested.

What struck me as we were watching the movie was that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In 1980, the real front of the Cold War went through Pakistan to Afghanistan. In 2001/2002, the front line of the War on Terror went through Pakistan to Afghanistan. Because the US did not focus on aiding the fledgling Afghan government in the 1990s, the country descended into anarchy and gave rise to the Taliban. It was only six years ago that we drove the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan, but we are doing the same thing. Yes, we have made some improvements keeping troops on the ground there, but since our focus is divided we aren't doing what we need to do to ensure the fledgling government can get it's legs underneath it.

You can say the same thing about Iraq. Our government was so naive thinking that we would go into Iraq and they'd welcome us as liberators. You need to make sure people's basic needs are taken care of before you can advance to a more participatory form of government.

So enough of the soapbox and back to the movie. It was clear that this was the bias of the movie. It was written by Aaron Sorkin. But as Phillip Seymore Hoffman's Gust Avrakotos said towards the end of the movie, "we'll see." I also like Charlie Wilson's quote that was put up on screen. I can't repeat it here, but it was apropro.

Have a great week. If something strikes me, I'll post again.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A most freaky accident

As you may or may not have heard, on Sunday Florida Panther's forward Richard Zednik suffered probably the most heinous accident is all of hockey - his carotid artery was nearly severed by a teammate's skate in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. Zednik was extremely fortunate that 1. the artery wasn't totally severed so it could be easily found and repaired and 2. that his juggular vein wasn't even touched. The game was in Buffalo. To read more about this, click here.

It was eerily similar to an accident that happened nearly 19 years ago in Buffalo. The date was March 22, 1989. I remember it for two reasons. First, it was my birthday. Second, I was listening to the game in the car on my way to my violin lesson. Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk's juggular vein was severed when St. Louis Blues' forward Steve Tuttle accidentally skated over his neck. He was basically bleeding out on the ice. Word at the time was that had he been at the other end of the ice, he would have died.

The amazing thing, though, was that not only did he survive, but he was back at practice four days later. If you want to see it, you can go to YouTube and search "Malarchuk" and you'll get every angle. But I'm going to warn you that it's pretty gruesome.

With all of the random sports accidents this year (ironically two of them took place in Buffalo), it's just another example of how fleeting life is and how quickly it all could be gone. We should live life to the fullest and take everything for the miracle that it is.

Spring Training 2008!

As hard as it to believe sportsfans, but Spring Training is upon us! For my beloved Oakland A's, pitchers and catchers reported yesterday, and the batters return next week. While this is definitely a rebuilding year for the A's, they should at least be entertaining. "Opening Day" is early this year, with the A's and Red Sox playing in Japan the next to last week in March, and then things really kick off on April 1st.

On top of it, Sunday is the 50th running of the Daytona 500. I don't watch as many races as I used - they are just too long and often too boring - I like to catch this one. We'll see how my guy does this year. I'm just hoping for a top-15 or top-10. But Daytona is so wild and unpredictable.

Have a great Valentine's Day everyone!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Weekly Roundup

It's been kind of a busy week this week. First, our friends Janell and George were here with their adorable daughter Madison. Keds really misses having Janell around and Madison is too cute for words. We are getting to know George better as well. George and I are both tech-heads, so we were able kill sometime at the AT&T Wireless Store and Best Buy. We enjoy having houseguests. Our house is pretty big and will continue to be until we have kids.

If having houseguests wasn't enough, we decided to have a Super Bowl party. About 10 folks showed up and it was the perfect sized crowd with the perfect mix of people. I really need to apologize to my Dad, though. He was the only guy rooting for Pats (sorry Vegas Princess). The rest of us were rooting for Giants. Well, not so much rooting FOR New York as much as rooting against New England. With each sack, I kept coming up with a new insult for Tom Brady. So, sorry Dad.

Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. I didn't make it to church to get ashes, but we are giving up soda and had some yummy tuna for lunch and salmon for dinner.

Thursday night, I had the steal of the week. I got a pair of Levi's (size 34 mind you) for $4! That was so awesome. We thought the price tag was a mistake, but it certainly wasn't.

Friday night we had Casey's birthday party. We love spending time over there and we played Casey's favorite game Cashflow. It's a little bit involved and takes a little getting used to, but it is a fun game.

Saturday I spent most of the day in Pahrump at the quarterly meeting of the Nevada State Democratic Party Central Committee. My name was being placed in nomination to become a member from Clark County. It was an interesting meeting - a lot of post-caucus wrap up and some cheerleading. The mood was definitely lifted by an article in that morning's "No New Taxes/Less Government Spending No Matter What the Situation" Newsletter that showed continued momentum going into the Caucuses and coming through January without the new registrants on Caucus day. There were a host of initiatives to help ensure the momentum keeps going. Oh, and my nomination was approved so I am now a full voting member of the State Democratic Party's Central Committee. I'm already a member of the Clark County Central Committee, so I'm excited about being more and more involved.

Saturday night, we went over to Lora's house for dinner and spent time with her husband and her little Madison. Karl and I watch the Bud Shootout while Keds and Lora spent some girl time together.

Today is a whole lot of nothing. It's the first Sunday in a long time that we don't have to be somewhere, so we watched a little Food Network, ate breakfast, enjoyed some coffee. We might go do some cardio or just take the dogs for a walk later to help them burn some of their energy since they spent most of yesterday alone.

How was your week? Any exciting plans for Valentine's Day (or Friendship Day, depending on your PC perspective)?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy Ash Wednesday!

As many of you know, today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. So we avoided any beef, pork, turkey or chicken. We've decided that this year we are going to give up soda again this year.

The good news, is that this season ends on Easter, which is early this year, March 23rd.

So what are you giving up for Lent?

So cute

So Keds and I are sitting on the couch and Thorndyke is sitting just out of sight of the bedroom door. Midge - who's spent the last four days locked in the bedroom - is just itching to get out. So she camps out in the bedroom doorway. She eases her way out. Gets into the living room and then spots Thorndyke - her arch-nemesis. She pauses for a second with one paw in the air, then turns around and runs back into the bedroom.

Poor Idgy. If she wasn't such a fraidy cat, she could have some freedom. Oh well.