Monday, July 30, 2007

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Party Month is now over.

Grace turned four and a good time was had by all.
Lynda's birthday came and went.

Our anniversary was recognized and celebrated.
Sarah turned seven and we just pulled off her Harry Potter birthday party yesterday. (details below . . .)

And, of course, Party Month was also Harry Month. Movies were watched and enjoyed and books were read, reviewed, and enjoyed.
Heck, we even took a brief but enjoyable vacation as well!

So . . . what do we do now?

Well, we can try to find other things to do with our time. It would certainly be a healthy change to try and take a walk at night, after dinner and before we begin the bedtime routine. But Lynda and I are spectacularly unsuccessful as establishing and maintaining such a sensible thing. Instead, we are hell-bent on getting the kids to bed reasonably so we can enjoy a bit of the evening to ourselves, whether that be watching more adult entertainment (quit your dirty thoughts--anything outside of "Little Bear" and "Hannah Montana" is adult fare in this house).

So, if I'm not likely to be exercising my body, maybe I can exercise my mind a bit more. I am currently reading a book that I heard about on "Fresh Air"--Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein. While you might think that this book is more targeted towards women, I was drawn to it by the frank way that Orenstein describes her slip into obsession and the strain that this put upon her marriage. (Though I know it's impossible to ask you not to, please DON'T read unnecessarily into this book choice. Our marriage is just fine, thanks, and refreshingly obsession-free.)

(Well, Lynda might disagree about the obsession-free part, given my HP fixation for the last several weeks. But, it did generate a pretty good birthday party.)

Ah, yes, the birthday party.

It wasn't extremely crowded with kids and I think that worked out very well. Getting secure attendance at a summertime birthday is always difficult, especially in late July. But, we always try to control the overall number of kids, especially when it is being held at our house. Sarah's outside water party last year was a bit of an exception, but since a lot of it happened outside, it was easier to justify more kids.

But Saturday's party was intended to be an indoor affair. It wasn't as elaborate as some kids parties I've read about, or some adult parties for that matter. But I think we did a pretty good job. Lynda and I decorated the house Friday night once the kids were in bed. I strung some white icicle lights around the circle above our dining room table to give a tip of the cap to the Great Hall, which is often described in the books with magical stars twinkling above at dinnertime.

While Lynda was printing out some signs to signify the different game stations for the party (Sorting Hat badges, Ollivander's Wand Shop, Potions Class) Sarah helped me mix up the potion ingredients. After she went up to bed, I tried to finish my Marauder's Map that would be the last game played.

The party went off very well, as you can hopefully see through all of the links provided. Sarah liked it, Lynda and I were proud of it and the kids all had a good time.

And now I am tired . . . this has been a complicated post and I am worn out for tonight.


Next project? Trying to create a graphical representation of the torturous path of the Elder Wand. **SPOILER WARNING if you follow this link.** (Trust me, everyone who's read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows knows what I'm talking about and why clarification is needed.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What I've been doing when I wasn't reading about Harry Potter

Yes, folks, it's true. I have done more in the last week than think about, dream about, talk about, write about, and read about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I actually left work last Friday and drove with the family to Owensboro, Kentucky (my mom's hometown) to attend a Carter Family reunion. It was the only vacation we're likely to get this summer and even though it was short, it was a good time. We got away from work, the girls got time with their cousins, aunts/uncles/grandparents (always something in short supply), and I got to meet mom's family, almost all of them new to me.

Owensboro is about fifteen miles or so south of Indiana, west of Louisville. It's a nicely-sized town, not at all small, but not a metropolis either. It's most famous, I gather, for the Moonlite Barbecue Restaurant, a local joint that I got to experience several times during the weekend--Friday night with the immediate family, Saturday afternoon at the reunion, and then on Sunday for Sunday brunch before we left town. The barbecued chicken and beef and pork were all excellent, but if you really want the experience, you have to eat the burgoo, a specialty dish that is pretty famous in western Kentucky. I was warned several times during my visit not to compare burgoo to the (seemingly related?) Brunswick stew that is well known in southern Georgia. To make this comparison to a local might have gotten me into a physical altercation, so I kept my opinions to myself. The other culinary oddity (though still tasty) of the weekend was eating mutton. I liked it, though I like typical barbecue more.

Of course, I DID purchase and begin reading HP & the DH while I was there. I actually tried to buy it on Friday night, but it didn't work out. My sister and I went out once the kids were in bed and we bought some breakfast groceries for the following morning at Wal-Mart. It was around 11 pm, but the sign at the entrance said they would begin selling books until 12:01 am. I thought that was odd, since, technically, 12:00 IS Saturday, July 21 (at least that's is what Dick Clark always seemed to indicate). But, Wal-Mart was calling the shots, not me. I made a brief, feeble attempt to sweet talk the Wal-Mart Associate into letting me get one an hour early, but it was no go. So, I came back around 7:30 the next morning and walked in and out in ten minutes with my new book. There were no problems, runs on books, or anything difficult about the whole affair. I only read periodically through the day on Saturday and I don't think that I kept myself out of any family stuff in the process.

(As you have read separately on this site, I did finish the book. You can read my review of the book here, but IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED, THEN OBVIOUSLY DON'T FOLLOW THE LINK!!)

Monday, July 23, 2007


I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night, around 2 am.

There's lots to reread, lots to revisit, lots to read other opinions on.

Short review . . . it was wonderful, unexpected, completely different than 1-6.

I'll get into particulars later. . . but I've got lots of stuff to do around the house today on my day off.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Reading, visiting, reading, visiting . . .

We got back into town a few hours ago. The kids are in their bedrooms and I'm about to try and tackle the last half of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I bought it Saturday morning and have been reading it off and on between talks with my cousins from Texas and visiting with my family, nieces, and nephew while travelling in Owensboro, Kentucky.

So far, HP & the DH is far different than the previous six, significantly different in tone, pacing, structure, and so many other things. It is great fun to read and I am waiting, waiting, waiting to see how it will all end. I've been presented with many surprises to this point and can't say that I can really guess properly how everything will finally end. I have my suspicions, but it's nothing more than speculation!

In other news, today is Sarah's 7th birthday. I can't express how proud and in love I am with my oldest daughter. She's a wonderful kid and I am honored to be her dad. My family had a nice little party for her last night and it's my task this week to finalize the details of her party, which will occur next Saturday.

Keep you eyes here for more descriptions on how it goes once it's all done next weekend. (Here's hoping I manage to pull it properly together!)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our Harry Potter Weekend

This Saturday, Lynda and I gathered forces with Raisinette and we went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It almost looked like it wasn't going to happen at all, to be honest. I had managed to secure a babysitter for Saturday afternoon, but that morning, I took Grace to the grocery store and when I returned, Lynda informed me that the babysitter had called to inform us that she had bronchitis.

I got surly, convinced that we weren't going to be able to see the movie. And trust me when I tell you that we needed to see the movie this weekend. We needed to get out of the house and lift our spirits with some fun diversions. And now, I thought all of that was going out the window.

Lynda persevered, however, and contacted our neighbor next door. I had thought of asking them earlier in the week and had even made the call to see if they were willing. But it had not seemed to be a good option at first, since their older girl was going on a canoe trip with her dad and we weren't sure that Sarah and Grace would have much fun if their older daughter (between Sarah and Grace in age) would be there. That would only leave our two girls with their younger son. Lynda wasn't going to let it go though. While I sank more and more into reluctant acceptance, she spread her magic and in the end, we secured a last minute babysitter. Hurray!

So, we got to the theatre and met up with Raisinette. Though I know there was some concern about being overwhelmed with small kids on a Saturday afternoon show it wasn't too bad. The theatre was pretty full, but there was a pretty good balance of adult to kids and the kids were, I think, old enough to be well-behaved.

I very much enjoyed the movie, though I did disagree with some of the creative decisions that were made. But, the basic fact is that OotP is the longest of the published Rowling books (over 800 pages) and the movie was barely over two hours long. Cuts had to be made and plot compressions were invented.

My specific/random thoughts on the movie:

1. This was a quiet movie with lots of dialogue. While that might seem to be a bad thing, I feel that it was done well. The fact is that this book's plot is a lot like The Two Towers--a lot of set up for what's to follow. Everyone is talking about, planning for, theorizing on the coming war between the good guys and the bad guys. There is a central mystery in the book, but that mystery isn't really emphasized as much in the movie. At least it didn't feel emphasized as much.

2. Many reviews are saying (correctly) that Radcliffe, Watson, and Grint have grown into their roles well over the years, but they are missing that it feels that only Radcliffe has been given much to grow into. It makes since because Harry's growth is central to all the books so he gets all the juicy stuff. But, it has always felt like the books did a better job of giving Harry, Ron, and Hermione co-importance. It's the nature of the movie business, but I always feel that Watson's Hermione and Grint's Ron grow a bit less important in each movie. And that's a shame.

3. The movie did a pretty good job of giving the sense of political intrigue that is discussed throughout the books, but it did it in an interesting way. The books used the newspaper stories to propel the developments outside of Hogwarts. To avoid bogging down with that, Yates spaced scenes with dynamic graphics of newspaper articles to set the scene. Nicely done.

4. The movie did include Kreacher the house elf, but just barely. While he wasn't crucial to the book, he did propel some important points. And, most interestingly of all, when the filmmakers considered writing the CG-character out of the movie, J.K. Rowling warned them that doing so would cause significant problems when the filming of Book 7 roles around. Considering how little Kreacher did in OotP, his importance in Book 7 must be pretty strong. Consider me tantalized . . .

5. I didn't like that they made Cho Chang the snitch that blew the whistle on Harry and the DA's underground spell training. In the book, that traitor role went to Cho's mistrusting friend Marietta. I realize that turning Cho into Marietta saves the filmmakers the trouble of having another character to pay AND I realize that there needed to be a reason for Harry and Cho's "relationship" to fail. I just felt badly for Cho, I guess.

6. I really wish that Fred and George had been given more of a chance to shine during their efforts to be expelled from school. The Phelps twins have done good work with their small roles in the movies and the Weasley Twins are "always good for a laugh" in the books. It's a humorous highlight in an otherwise tense book. It just felt missing from the movie.

7. It felt like this movie was filmed and release right before the final book is due to come out. The way Harry forestalled Voldemort in the final battle scene at the Ministry felt like it was written and acted with an eye on the question still to be answered in the final book. We'll see if that foreshadowing will be true or not in slightly more than four days.

I could go on and on I suppose. Its easier to think of the negatives or the things that jumped out as different, but I can't stress enough that this movie was a much more faithful adaptation of the book than Goblet of Fire. I don't feel disappointed in this movie and will enjoy rewatching it in the future.

But, my Harry Potter weekend didn't end with the movie.

On Sunday night Sarah and I met up with Shirtless and his roommate at a local Border bookstore and watched, participated in the taping of the Columbus, OH leg of the Pottercast Summer of 7 Tour. I've been listening to Melissa, John, and Sue discuss and record their thoughts on the books and movies for over a year. They've not exactly "celebrities" but they do have connections and have been lucky enough and have worked hard enough to be at the last two movie premieres and Melissa has interviewed J.K. Rowling herself.

So, they know their stuff.

It was fun to watch them discuss and it was also fun to participate. I think that Sarah enjoyed herself as well. I wanted her to see that it's more than just me and her that like the books and movies. I wanted her to sense that this is a larger thing and to give her some connection to it. Luckily, there weren't too many freaks out there that night--though there were a few. Mostly it was teenager (some with robes) and a few other adults. The crowd filled the Borders pretty well and Columbus was well represented.

They didn't talk about the movie that much, which in retrospect is not unusual since this tour is mostly focused on the book release this weekend. But I would have liked a bit more discussion on the films, which would have pleased Sarah since she has been asking me about the movie a lot since we got back on Saturday. (I haven't taken her to see it yet, since she's better watching movies on DVD when scary stuff can be skipped and she can leave the room if necessary.)

When the podcast is uploaded onto the web, I'll be sure to link it for you all so you can enjoy. You might even hear my "Ewoks!" comment shouted in the background.

Great Podcasts

(NOTE: I'll talk about my Harry Potter weekend experiences later tonight. Right now I've got to give a shout out to a great podcast that I subscribed to over the weekend.)

I have written before about the excellence of "This American Life" a program on National Public Radio, hosted by Ira Glass, that presents an hour of programming centered around a new theme each week. I have always tried to listen to it on radio, but since I don't spend lots of time in the car, I usually always missed it.

When I found out that it was available in podcast form on iTunes, I jumped immediately to get a free subscription and I've been listening happily each week.

This weekend, however, I heard Ira Glass recommend another podcast . . . WNYC's Radio Lab. The show is similar in basic format to the "This American Life" structure, but it has a more scientific spin on it's weekly themes. I found that it is also located for free podcast subscription on iTunes and I've been listening to the hour-long shows since Saturday and especially here at work while doing proofs.

I highly recommend it, especially if you are struck by the following bit of information--

How do dolphins sleep? Since they live underwater, are mammals that require air to breathe, but don't have the capacity for autonomic breathing (meaning they can't breath without voluntary thought) how can they every commit themselves to unconsciousness . . . which, must inevitably lead to suffocation?

Turns out that dolphins DO sleep and they sleep as much (or more) per day than humans--about eight hours worth. How? They float on the surface of the water and half of their brains sleeps while the other half controls the breathing.

That's cool!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Weekend update

I've just come from my weekly biblestudygroupthatdoesn't studythebiblesomuchasread"religious"books-group and I have gotten the kids to bed and Lynda won't be off her flight from Raleigh, North Carolina and back in the house until midnight and I should be folding laundry while watch Jennifer Garner be (maybe?) the only good thing about "Catch and Release" . . . but instead of all that, I've got some blogging to do.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has be out in theaters for almost an entire day. Still haven't seen it.

It's been an up and down several days here in Burb's life. This past weekend Lynda and I were focused on our anniversary date (last Sunday, July 8th, our 12th year of happily ever after). It's funny. Since last week was so broken up by the fourth of July hitting on Wednesday, everything seemed disjointed, which contributed to my being able to obsess about getting to Sunday. I was thinking about it constantly and counting the time in my head until we could say good bye to the kids and the baby sitter and have some couple time to have a nice dinner and see a movie all by ourselves.

Normally when I build things up in my mind like this, it never works out and disappointment occurs. But, this ended up turning out happily . . . though there were some potential problems.

We had arranged for a baby sitter to come by at 3:30 on Sunday so we could go to a late afternoon movie (Knocked Up . . . finally!) and then get some dinner. Everything looked good, but as we were heading to church that morning, Lynda remembered that she had committed to having a meeting after church about next year's Sunday School plans. So, okay . . . I would take the girls to get some lunch and we come back and get her when the meeting was finished.

Right after church was over and we were heading to the kitchen to get some coffee and snacks for the kids, I started feeling queasy to my stomach and a bit light-headed. I wondered what it was, but just got a bit of fruit, skipped the coffee and figured it would go away. Well, it didn't. After the kids were done with their snack, we got in the car and headed out for lunch. But I realized that since church (during the summer) begins as 9:30 rather than 10:30, it was barely past 10:30 and McDonalds wouldn't be serving lunch yet. So, I decided to take advantage of the time and swing by the library to return a book (Everything is Illuminated) that I had finished reading.

To keep the kids occupied during the drive between church (New Albany) and the library (Westerville), I turned on a Disney CD. The usual stuff played through my ears without much thought until the disk spun up a song from Toy Story 2, "When She Loved Me." This is a very pretty song, sung by Sarah McLachlan, telling the story of a girls toy that is loved and then left behind when the girls grows up and leaves toys behind. I'm telling you, McLachlan sings it beautifully. (You can hear a brief listen to the song at this site, just scroll down to the track listings and click on your link for #2.)

For whatever reason, as I listened to the song, I thought that this song would be a nice one to play someday at Lynda's memorial service. I imagined it playing while lots of pretty pictures of Lynda scrolled by on a laptop or something. The sentiment and beauty of the song struck me. And then I started listening to it more and thinking about Sarah and Grace growing older and leaving their childhoods behind a little more . . . and then I heard Sarah singing along in the back seat while the song played on. Well, I started to cry right there in the car as I drove. It was just a very emotional moment completely out of left field for no real reason at all, just my imagination and emotions bumping together all at once. Odd and yet, I treasured the entire experience.

By the time the library run was over, we made it McDonalds and all sentiment was forgotten in the face of mass produced beef patties and salty fries. But I still wasn't feel very good. My stomach was still feeling unsettled and I was having a slight cold sweat. So the girls had Happy Meals (Hello Kitty toys!) and I had water and a simple Mickey-D's cheeseburger. Once this fabulous lunch was done we got back in the car and returned to church to get Lynda. Her meeting wasn't completely finished yet, but it got done quick enough and we got home. Lynda told me to go upstairs and lay down, which I did--because I wasn't going to miss out date!

By the time the baby sitter got there, all was pretty good and I felt well enough to go out. We enjoyed Knocked Up, but I will say that there were moments of language-inducing cringing. I'm not a prude and I'm not party of the language police, but I did find some of the cursing a bit too gratuitous. I suspect that such language is MUCH more true-to-life that even I am willing to allow, but there it is. My only other concern is that many of my friends had recommended that I see the movie and I even heard that they thought of me when they were done watching it. But, I must be mistaken since neither male lead is particularly like me (are they?), so I don't know why I came up in particular. It's probably just an "I-had-to-have-been-there type moment.

After the movie we tried out a new smallish Mexican restaurant in town that we both enjoyed. (Proof enough that whatever was wrong with me, it wasn't my stomach.)

So, all in all, a good anniversary date.

But on Monday, I didn't feel well at all. It wasn't my stomach, but my muscles and head that ached all over. My energy was very low also. Basically, I felt like I had a mild case of the flu. I stayed home from work and slept during the morning and spent the rest of the day watching Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, and Man vs. Wild on The Discovery Channel (which is rapidly becoming my go-to summer channel for TV programming). Lynda did get me to go to the doctor Monday afternoon, but all he suggested was that I might have picked up a virus while hanging out in the public pool with the family on Saturday. It seemed the best solution, so I tried to rest the rest of the day.

Yesterday I did go to work but I felt a bit weak most of the time and my leg muscles still felt achy. But today, I am happy to say I am back to normal. Whatever it was, it came and went quickly and didn't prevent any important stuff (date) from being missed. All that was missed (work) wasn't missed by me at all.

Friday, July 06, 2007

It's a Dirty Job, but Dad's gotta do it.

It's been a good few days around the house. We got off of work early on Tuesday (to honor America) and yesterday, my colleague cookout went off very well. We had plenty of food, the weather was cooperative, and the general time was relaxing. It was good to see VG back in town and I'm very glad she could come. Plus, Jack and Cordelia came (and we never get to see enough of them these days). Even MAS came by and enjoyed herself for a while, even to the point of playing Frisbee with Sarah, Grace, and myself. The girls were very good little hostesses and were very charming (as they always find a way to be when company comes by).

So, Tuesday afternoon, we get off work early and Lynda and I go to get the kids. We get home and have additional hours to kill before swinging into the normal evening routine of dinner, books, pajamas, baths, etc.

Since the kids are currently obsessed with Webkinz, they got on the computer and played with their stuffed animal avatars for a while while Lynda and I decompressed. I decided to flip on the Discovery Channel--always good for an informative show.

Dirty Jobs was on, a show that I enjoy, even if I don't watch it consistently. Sarah wandered over and sat down on the couch to watch with me. She was enjoying the show, or maybe she was enjoying the fact that I was enjoying the show. In any case, when one episode ended, another one began. I made movements to turn to something that she might like more (read Disney Channel), but she wanted to continue watching Mike Rowe create shark chum. (Truthfully, I wonder if she wasn't fascinated by the very real fact that at one point, Mike was overcome with the smell of freshly ground Halibut and promptly threw up over the side of the boat. I suppose that might have held some fascination to her, since she's never seen anyone else do that before?)

Anyway, I promptly forgot about that entire experience until Thursday morning as we were driving back to daycare in the morning. From the backseat, Sarah asked me what channel the Dirty Jobs show was on, indicating that she wanted to watch it again when we got home.

We never did watch, but I was surprised that she felt intrigued enough about it to ask a few days later.

Last night, however, it became clearer how much stock Sarah places in my opinions. The girls were getting ready for bed and Lynda felt that she needed to stay downstairs and get started on some work. Lately, she has been reading books to Grace and getting her into bed while I handle Sarah. Usually, Sarah and I read a chapter of the latest Harry Potter book--we're currently beginning Goblet of Fire--and then she goes upstairs. But, last night I needed to handle both of them.

I was going to read to Grace first and then get her in her bed before reading to Sarah, but I didn't want to be up there all night reading. It was about 7:30 and I knew that if I read to them individually, it would be around 8:30 or 9 o'clock before I got back downstairs. So, I initially though about reading HP to both of them, though I knew Grace wouldn't be interested for very long.

Grace was all for this idea, but Sarah was immediately against it. After some wheedling, I was able to coax out of her that she didn't want Grace intruding on what Sarah saw as her "thing" with Daddy. But, I didn't know what else to do. I told Sarah to be patient while I began reading other books to Grace. I knew that Grace would be upset when I tried to get her to bed without reading HP as I said I was going to. But Sarah didn't want that. I heard Sarah begin crying in her room and then tearfully head downstairs to tell the sad story to Mom.

I kept on reading to Grace and when I finished her two books, I called Sarah upstairs and got the two girls to resolve this problem. After some fussing and crying, they managed to work out a compromise. Grace would stay in the room while I read to Sarah, but she would "read" her own HP book. And so it was that Grace flipped through Sorcerer's Stone while I read Chapter 9 (The Dark Mark) of The Goblet of Fire to Sarah.

Eventually my throat grew tired, so I stopped and got Grace in her room to sleep. But when I returned to Sarah, in our bedroom, it was clear that she really wanted to keep reading--and she wanted to do it herself. So, I listened while she read four or five pages of the chapter and then asked me to finish up the last three or so--it was one of the longer chapters in the book, I guess.

While reading, we had a few clarifying discussions about the actions in the chapter. For instance, Sarah could not understand why Winky the house elf was so upset that she was going to be given clothes (and therefore set free). I reminded her that house elves, so we are told, don't appear to want freedom. Sarah really didn't understand this, but I reassured her that this subject would be reinforced throughout the book and so didn't get into it very much. She also wanted to talk a bit about her upcoming birthday party, which will occur when we get back from our Kentucky trip. She has decided (with absolutely NO prompting from me) that she wants Harry Potter to be the theme of the party.

While I like the idea, I'll admit that it does worry me a bit. I doubt that her friends has as much involvement in Harry Potter as she does and so I worry that her ideas for games and such will not be received enthusiastically by her friends. The last thing I want her to feel at her party is disappointment or any nascent embarrassment. But how to tell her this? I know that she has recognized my love of the books and is excited to be sharing this with me. I don't want to present my worries as some desire to keep this idea from her. I recognize that this time where she wants to be connected to me and my activities won't always be there, so I don't want to stop them now.

So, I guess I'll try to help her come up with some party activities that have Harry Potter inspiration, but don't lean so heavily on them that non-fans will be left out. We've got some time to work out details, but I want to guide her creativity and enthusiasm with caution.

As we were finishing up the chapter and I was asking her to go to her room, she asked if she could continue to read a bit more. I agreed, but I couldn't resist asking her as she walked away. book in hand, if she enjoyed the books because of the story or because I liked them so much.

She looked back and told me "Well, it's for both of those reasons."

I'll take it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

More on Party Month

We had Grace's birthday party on Saturday. We had about seven kids at the house during the afternoon and I think a good time was had by all. Lynda's party games went well and included such things as the Backpack game (in which Sarah pulled treats out of a backpack), a "Swiper" walk (similar to a cake walk, but themed around the thieving fox on Dora the Explorer), an opportunity to decorate simple visors with styrofoamy stickers and other gee-gaws.

The kids ate cake (which I baked and Lynda mostly decorated). They even had fun out back swinging on the swing set. A good number of the parents hung around and visited while they watched over their kids. This is a good thing because it helps keep things organized in a house that rapidly ran out of space, and it gives us the opportunity to learn actual adult names instead of thinking of parents as "Owen's mom" or "Riley's dad". I probably still can't put adult names to faces, but at least we're a step closer.

After the party, we cleaned up for about an hour and then went out to dinner to celebrate a successful party and to recognize Lynda's birthday, which was on Sunday.

We're gearing up for the anniversary this coming weekend, but haven't secured a baby sitter yet. Lynda has said that all she wants is a date out without the kids, so that's what I'm aiming for right now. Hopefully, we can secure someone to keep the kids before the weekend arrives.

We are planning a Fourth of July cookout, which has been a long time coming. Work has been so dominating for the past many months that our regular schedule of cookouts has suffered. But, I am looking forward to transferring my socializing with coworkers and other friends to the friendly confines of the house rather than the sterile environment of the work-a-day workplace.

Tonight we took an extended walk/bike ride around the neighborhood and visited a local park. The girls rode their bikes like troopers and we all got much needed exercise on a great and beautiful evening.

Good times, good times!

I just used one!

One of my coworkers got an iPhone over the weekend.

I just used it. Standing in the cubicle row, I called up WWYG?! and did the spread and pinch thing to magnify and shrink the web page.

I turned it on it's side and saw the automatic orientation thing.

It's actually smaller than you are led to believe in the commercials (and I don't think reading web pages on it will be easy--unless the orientation allows you to read wide screen?).

But, still . . . very cool.