Monday, December 27, 2004

Patrick news update

Vaught's Views: Being home is the perfect Christmas gift for Barsotti

There was yet another article about Patrick in his local newspaper Sunday. You can read the whole thing at the link above, but I really like the last part:

When he does start playing again - and he has no doubts that he'll be back next year - he insists he'll be as competitive and fun loving as ever. But he also has learned a painful lesson we all should heed.

"I will play every game like it is the last one I will be able to play. There are no guarantees," he said. "You never know what will happen next. I am just going to enjoy every day for what it brings.

"Everybody gets so wrapped up in so many things that they forget to stop and enjoy each day. When I get back out there and play, I am going to play every game like it is a gift."

As you put away your gifts today, think about that last statement and value the gift of good health we all take for granted until someone like Barsotti helps us remember what really is important.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Where is Santa RIGHT NOW?

Welcome to the 2004 NORAD Tracks Santa Website
I know I said I probably wouldn't blog again before Christmas, but I want make sure everyone knows to check out this site.

I can remember listening to the NORAD reports of Santa's progress on the radio. It was always one of the highlights of Christmas Eve. And now you get those reports all day long online...

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

I started my vacation today. I don't go back to work until Jan. 3!

Posts might be few and far between for the next week or two. Since I doubt I'll get around to blogging again before Dec. 25, I tought I'd take a moment now to wish all of you in the blogosphere a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The eye of the beholder

Quiz: Art or Crap
Test your artistic knowledge...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

How I'll spend my summer vacation...

Sixth Harry Potter Book Due Out in July
Woohoo! We now have a release date for the sixth Harry Potter book. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" will hit bookshelves on July 16. Mark your calendar!

The clock wll start soon

Here are Fox’s plans for starting the new season of “24”…

FOX PLANS TWO-NIGHT 24 PREMIERE - Fox plans to kick off the fourth season premiere of action series 24 with a two- night, four-hour season premiere on Sunday and Monday, January 9 and 10, from 8-10 pm ET on each day. The show will then move to its regular time period on Monday, January 17, at 9 pm ET, and unfold on a weekly basis without repeats or preemptions until the season finale.
As I previously blogged, I’ve already seen the first three hours. One of these days I’ll get around to posting a review, but suffice to say, I liked what I saw!

Monday, December 20, 2004

An evening with Santa

Nolan, Thomas and Kris visit Santa in his sleigh.

Despite the dropping temperatures last night, we bundled the kids up took them to visit "Santa's Playland."

The event is thrown by the folks at Quick Response Restoration in Round Lake. They're a company you can hire to come clean up your house after it's been damaged by a flood, fire or smoke.

They set up a whole bunch of those light displays, like the Capital Lights in the Park in Albany. Except instead of driving through in your car you ride in a horse-drawn wagon. Afterward you enjoy hot chocolate, hot dogs, popcorn and cookies. There are live reindeer to check out, and you can visit with all sorts of costumed characters -- including the big man himself!

The best part is -- it's absolutely free! I think we just found a new holiday tradition.

Geography quiz

Place The State - Intermediate
This game gets easier as you go along, but some of those early states can be a bit of a challenge.

Friday, December 17, 2004

When is a fetus a baby?

Police Find Baby; Could Be From Slain Mom
Thank God that missing infant from Missouri has been found safe and sound.

If you're not familiar with the story, a pregant woman was attacked, killed and her unborn child was stolen from her womb.

There was a debate about this story here at work. Someone I work with said we shouldn't be referrring to the child as a "baby" since, at that point, we weren't sure if she was alive and techinically it was never born -- it was instead ripped from her mother. It is still a fetus, he said.

So I asked him, "By your logic, if this child survives, when she is 30 years old is she still just a fetus because technically she was never born?"

He chuckeld at me, at which point I told I wasn't kidding, I was asking him a serious question. He never gave me an answer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

No more Blockbuster late fees (sort of)

Blockbuster Cancels Late Fees
I don't think this business about Blockbuster dropping their late fees is such a big deal. They say they're dropping their late fees in order to deal services like VOD and Netflix, but when you read the fine print you''ll see that nothing is really changing.

Blockbuster will still assign a due date. You get a one-week grace period after the due date. After the grace period, your account will be charged for the purchase of the movie or game. If you don't want the product, you have 30 days to return it for for store credit, minus a "re-stocking" fee.

How is this any different? You get a one-week grace period -- so now Blockbuster will essentially let you keep a movie for two weeks instead of one. But otherwise, you are still being charged an extra fee if you keep a movie too long.

Blockbuster is going to have to come up with a better plan if they want to be serious about competing with the options out there.

New 'Batman Begins' trailer online

Check out the new trailer for "Batman Begins." Joel Schumacher, eat your heart out!

Magneto the movie?

X-MEN`s MAGNETO to be spun off
A "Wolverine" movie seemed fairly obvious, and in fact 20th Century Fox is developing a WOlvie film in addition to "X-Men 3." BUt now comes word they are also proposing a "Magneto" movie.

The suggested story will focus on the (future) mutant villain's early years, starting where the prologue to the first "X-Men" movie left off. So it's likely we will see younger actors playing Magneto and Charles Xavier instead of Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart.

McKellan and Stewart are heavyweights. What younger actors could possibly follow in their footsteps?

Role reversal

Central Florida Man Accused Of Biting His Dog
It's the standard definition of news. Dog bites man is not newsworthy. Man bites that's a story!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Countdown without Clark

Regis to host 'New Year's Rockin' Eve'
Can 2005 actually start without Dick Clark? It's going to have to.

Clark suffered a stroke last week and his doctors have told him he will have to sit out this year's event in Times Square.

Who do you go to when you need a last minute sub for an iconic TV host? Regis Philbin, of course! You'll recall, Regis was the first and most frequent sub for David Letterman during his two recent health-related leaves of absence.

Friends in high places

I talked to my sister last night. She told me an amazing story about the woman who lives across the street from her.

Apparently this woman is one of the few people in her family who did not go into the clergy. Most of her siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles are priests or nuns or somehow employed by the church.

The woman has an uncle who works at that the Vatican. She had shared with him the story of my nephew, Patrick. He sent Patrick some medals that had been blessed by the Pope and Patrick keeps them nearby in his room.

It seems her uncle is in a position where he is allowed to submit prayer intentions to the Pope. I'm not sure how often he gets to do this, but I guess the last time he asked the Pope to pray for Patrick by name. In addition, the Pope blessed the rosary beads he used to pray for Patrick and they are now being sent to him.


Completed Christmasifiction

I love our house when it's decorated for Christmas.

Yesterday, we cut down our tree and put it up. That's an event that, it seems, is almost always accompanied by some degree of stress for one reason or another, and yesterday was no different. It took us a long time to find a suitable tree, complicated by the fact we were dragging the kids and the dog through the field with us (actually, they were all troopers). Finally, after cutting it down, we wound up getting charged for a more expensive Fraser Fir when we thought we were getting a White Spruce. At that point though, I didn't care. I just wanted to get out of there. Tying the tree to the roof of our van, which lacks a roof rack, was another minor ordeal.

By the time we were done and on our way home, I was so frustrated that I actually uttered the words, "Next year we're getting a fake tree!" I hate artificial trees, so that should tell how grumpy I was.

But once the tree was in the stand and the ornaments started coming out, the tension started melting away. I love trimming the tree. It seems like I can remember the story behind each and every ornament. The tree is a sort of record of our family and all of our Christmases past.

Last evening, after the tree was finished, the stockings hung by the chimney with care, the lights dimmed and the candles lit, I couldn't help but sit back with a cup of hot chocalate and enjoy the moment. At this time of year, our house always feels so cozy and comforting.

It truly is the most woderful time of the year.

Friday, December 10, 2004

'Apprentice' bets on the money

Off the Top of My Head: 'Apprentice' spoiler?
The "Apprentice" spoiler that leaked out back in September appears to have been right on track. Back then there was word that an off shore betting agency suspended bets on the show's outcome after noticing an unsual number of bets being placed on two contenders: Jen M. and Kelly.

Sure enough, those two emerged as the final two candidates last night.

Even though most of the show was taped last summer, we won't know who the winner is until Trump makes his announcement on the live finale next Thursday.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Is Peter ever going to graduate?

I have MSNBC on at work right now and I can't believe what I just saw -- one of my all time least favorite Christmas commercials!

I'm sure you've seen the Folger's commercial. Peter gets dropped off on his family's doorstep early in the morning. Only his little sister hears him come in. So Peter wakes mom and dad by brewing some delicious Folger's coffee. They're awakened by the woderful aroma and as mom comes down the stairs she yells, "Peter!" and throws her arms around her big lug of a son.

I don't know why but this commercial has always gotten on my nerves. I can't put my finger on it, but I find it really annoying.

And I can't believe it's still on! This ad has got to be at least 20 years old.

If we're showing commercials purely for the nostolgia value, then about some others? Anyone else remember Santa riding over the snowy hill inside the Norelco electric shaver head?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

'Cars' stalled

Pixar delays its next film 'Cars' to summer 2006
Granted, I haven't even seen "The Incredibles." So it might be jumping the gun to talk about Pixar's next movie already, but I love the Pixar movies so much.

Anyway, the studio is delaying the release of their next film, "Cars," until summer 2006 in an effort to alter their release pattern -- and makes even more gobs of cash by having their movies roll out in the summer when kids aren't in school.

If you haven't seen the trailer for "Cars" yet, check it out here.

Monday, December 06, 2004

'Batman' poster arrives online

Seeing is believing with the BATMAN BEGINS poster
The teaser poster for this summer's "Batman Begins" has leaked out on the Internet. I'm very optimistic for this movie. Judging from what I've seen so far, it looks like director Chirstopher Nolan has captured the right tone. Hopefully the awful Joel Schumacher movies will soon become just a faded memory...

Friday, December 03, 2004

Patrick update

I got an update on Patrick last night. He was released from the hospital Thursday. He's feeling good and is in great spirits.

His high school football team, on which he was a kicker, is playing hte state championship game this weekend in Louisville. When his doctor told he he was releasing him, he told him there were a few conditions.

"You have to go to that game," he said, "and you have to take a picture of yourself at the game wearing your jersey."

His friends recently brought him a big bag full of 24 small, wrapped presents and told him he was allowed to open one a day until Christmas. How cool is that?

Patrick's attitude and maturity throughout this has been so impressive. Last night he told his mother, "This is how it was supposed to be. This is a road I have to take."

Et tu, Barry?

Bonds testified that substances didn't work
The other shoe has dropped. The word is, Barry Bonds used steroids to, but didn't realize they were steroids when he was using them.

Isn't that a little like Bill Clinton smoking pot, but not inhaling?

How many fans will still root for Bonds to break Hank Aaron's record now?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Giambi on the juice

Admissions before BALCO grand jury detailed
The big sports story of the day is the revalation Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi admitted to a grand jury he used steroids.

I don't think anyone is really shocked by this. They've just had their suspicions confirmed.

As for me, I'm disappointed. I always want to give people the benefit of the doubt. While Giambi, before the 2004 season, looked like the poster boy for steroid use, I always hoped that wasn't the case.

When Giambi appeared noticeably smaller during spring training 2004, everyone again assumed it was because he was now off steroids. I hope that means he's learned his lesson. If he hadn't learned by then, the recent death of Kem Caminiti should serve as a wake up call.

I also heard a doctor on TV today say he didn't think Giambi's recent health problems were steroid-related. I hope that's the case and I hope he hasn't screwed himself up.

Baseball and the Players Association really need to address this issue, or they're going to suffer real integrity problems. I know they've taken some steps, but they're baby steps. Hopefully the Giambi news will serve to get the ball rolling toward some significant change.

But I doubt it. In a week or two there will a be a promo featuring a football player and a towel-clad actress, or a brawl at a basketball game, or a nipple-baring singer at a half-time show to provide the next great sports scandal...and life will move on.

Kaiser Soze as Lex Luthor?

From a USUAL SUSPECT to Lex Luthor
Kevin Spacey confirms he's considering an offer to play Lex Luthor in Bryan SInger's "Superman" movie. Singer directed Spacey in the actor's Oscar winning performance in "The Usual Suspects."

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Cashing in on free publicity

'Jeopardy!' Whiz Ends 74-Game Win Streak :
More on the fall of Ken Jennings...

Kansas City, Mo.-based H&R Block Inc. capitalized on the chance for a little publicity by offering him free tax and financial services for life, which Jennings accepted.
"If he had to lose, it was nice that he lost to us and we could offer him something," David Byers, senior vice president for tax operations, said Tuesday.
Jennings will probably owe about $1.04 million in federal and Utah taxes on the winnings, Byers said, citing preliminary calculations by H&R Block.

Shades of "Quiz Show?"

Does anyone else think Ken Jennings took a dive on "Jeopardy!" last night? After 74 consecutive wins, earning more than $2 million, Jennings (aka the Jeopardy Guy) lost on this question (excuse me, answer):

Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year.

The correct "question" was What is H&R Block. Jennings said FedEx.

C'mon, FedEx?!? That seemed like a pretty lame guess to me -- espicially from a brainiac like the Jeopardy Guy.

So let's start the conspiracy theories. Did he just decide it was time to throw in the towel himself? Did Merv Griffin tap him on the shoulder and say, "Enough is enough"?