Monday, June 28, 2010

I'm the Third Biggest Loser

A weight loss contest at the high school.  I think it is named after a TV show?  Anyway, who can lose the most weight - as a percentage of body weight, rather than total pounds.  I figured it was good motivation to cut down, particularly since the pot was $280!  I lost a little over 10 pounds over six weeks, or five and a half percent of my weight.  Good for third place... sadly no prize for third. 

It was good to have the support of my kids.  Mars: "Daddy, I want you to lie down in my bed with me.  But first you have to move Odin so you have room because you are so fat."

Turns out Leaf was the "Biggest Loser"!  She only lost half a pound more than me, and because it was by percentage (over 8%), she placed first - even though the second place person lost more weight.  Cha-ching - $280!  Not bad for six weeks of dieting.  We went out for a very fattening fish and chips dinner.  No special plans yet on what she'll spend the money on.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I've been in two small earthquakes before, but that isn't what my mind went to when the house started shaking.  My first thought was that the washing machine was lopsided and going on a hard core spin cycle.  My second thought was that I didn't have a load of laundry on.  I couldn't figure out what it was - got up to see if there was a big truck in the driveway, wondered if it was the fridge breaking...  it lasted at least 30 seconds.  I think because we don't live in a traditional earthquake zone I didn't twig to it until later.  No real damage, but I think it wiggled the satellite dish out of position - World Cup is not as crisp as before.  5.5 on the richter scale, epicentre at least 250km away.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mars gets high on Ketamine

"You had three eyes, Daddy".  Ah, the mysteries of higher consciousness that Mars has discovered.

A continuation of the flower-up-the-nose incident, since we didn't have any success in getting it out.  Friday's trip to the doctors, he tried reaching up but didn't have the right tool.  Tried pushing it with one of those long skinny q-tip like things, but Mars flipped out - I think a memory of when he was tested for swine flu.  We we got a bottle to shoot saline up Mars' nose to see if it would loosen over the weekend.  No luck, so another appointment Monday.  Dr. G had picked up the hook thing he wanted, shot a freezing spray in the nostrils, and tried again.  Managed one good attempt, but once Mars realized what was going on, there was some serious resistance and head flailing.  Decided Mars would have to be put out in order to remove the flower safely.

With Ketamine.  Which is a horse-tranquilizer.  Also known as "Special K", a hallucinogenic sometimes used by ravers.  More commonly used as an anesthetic for children, it impairs the senses and produces a dissociative state.  Necessitated a trip to the hospital in the afternoon just to be safe.  He drank it in some pop - it tasted nasty by the facial reaction, but pop is a rare enough treat that he drank it down with no complaints.  Lots of fun trying to make the numbers from the oximeter change by deep breaths, 'sneezes', and whatnot.  He got pretty loopy in 15 or 20 minutes.  Bug-eyed, staring, bobbing and weaving, blinky eyes.  It was kind of amusing and probably foreshadowing of a dozen years from now - he acted just like a teenager getting drunk for the first time.  He'd sit right up, say something funny, then plunk face first down on the bed.  Mum and Dad suddenly had extra eyes. Wish we had the camera.

Doctor only needed the suction hose to get it out.  I guess had decomposed/softened enough that it couldn't be grabbed, but unfortunately that also meant it required four tries to get it all out.  Mars screamed like I've never heard before.  I think more of a freakout scream than a pain scream, but I felt terrible.  The good news is that in all later discussions about his trip to the "hozzible" no mention is made about anything unpleasant.  He recounts stories mum told, musical chairs in the waiting room, "Dr. Griffen picked my nose... with a stick",  how mum and dad had three eyes.

After it was over, some recovery time cuddling with mum.  Since it was nap-time, I kept expecting him to fall asleep, but no luck.  After 30 minutes, he started to perk up & was released.  Still a little zonked, so sat him in the chair at home with some knights to play with, hoping he'd nod off.  He started to doze, so I ran outside to hang some sheets, and had a little panic when he yelled for me.  Ran in to "Dad, I need to go potty and I can't walk"!

One possible side effect of Ketamine is nightmares, so especially attentive after he fell asleep that night.  Nothing particularly out of the ordinary.  He often cries out for mummy or daddy in the middle of the night - usually because he needs a potty trip.  A little pajama-wetting accident due to an ill-fitting diaper got him upset, so after cleanup I cuddled with him until he fell back asleep.  So did I.  Didn't wake up until his nightmare, when he piercingly screamed about two inches from my left ear.  At least he had no memory of bad dreams in the morning.

I hope he has learned his lesson about putting things up his nose - sorry, having things "fall" in his nose.  He still maintains it just fell in his nose!  Three (four if you count the followup coming on Friday) trips to the doctor's office, a trip to the hospital, lots of pain and suffering.  I hope all the "you never put things up your nose - or in your ears" talks we've had recently help out.  Anticipating a future episode with Odin though.  Every time I remind Mars about things not going up his nose, Odin only seems to understand "up nose", which is where he immediately puts his finger.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It fell in my nose, Daddy

We had the object-up-the-nose experience yesterday.  Just before nap time, Mars started complaining that his nose hurt.  A series of questions determined that it hurt inside, not outside, and that there was something green in there.  What is green and up your nose?  I obviously figured booger, but Mars said it was a piece of green flower (or "flour" - our homemade playdough?) that he had picked up off the floor.  After that point, it apparently "fell" up his nose.

Managed to get a look up his nose, with the help of a flashlight I could see there was definitely a 4-5mm green object way up there.  I plugged the other nostril with my thumb and got him to blow out - lots of snot, but no movement.  A couple of sneezes also no effect.  Plugged opposite side again and gently blew into his mouth.  Still nothing.  I wondered about tweezers, but it was pretty far up and I couldn't see him holding still even if I managed to get near it.

He was complaining of pain whenever I touched his nose, and started resisting my requests that he blow out while I blocked the other side with my thumb.  Even my suggestion that he should try and blow snot onto my hand stopped working.  Inside his nose was red and looked inflamed.  If it was a piece of flower, I wondered if a bit of stem was jamming into the side.  Whatever it was, it hadn't moved a bit after our removal efforts.

Leaf took him to the doctor.  Doctor elected to wait and see.  Getting it out would require a trip to the hospital and being strapped down.  We need to do a follow up visit to make sure all the bits come out.  During his nap, I was able to gentle press on the outside of his nose, perhaps I loosened it enough for it to come out.  When I looked today, the big object not there, but still something.   If it was a flower bud, that is gone, but maybe a piece of stem?  Either way, at least Mars is no longer complaining of pain.  Net result is that I have a cute video of him telling me what is up there and how it got there.

Followup: It did need a trip to the hospital!


Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup 2010

Note that I number the matches in the order they are played (and I watch).  Why would you play match 4 before match 3 starts? That makes no sense.
Opening Ceremonies:
What were they thinking with the giant dung beetle pushing a soccer ball?
Match 1 RSA 1 vs MEX 1
A surprising result considering how much Mexico dominated.  One absolutely brilliant goal by South Africa the difference in this one.
Match 2 FRA 0 vs URU 0
I think France was concentrating on not losing this game.  They do tend to start slow, but I think they missed an opportunity here.  Seven yellows in the match.  Two draws in the first two games will make for an interesting Group A.
Match 3 KOR 2 vs GRE 0
Greece was very disorganized.  Their tactic was to send long/high balls down the field - unfortunately, there was very often no Greek player there to receive.  Korea was very fast on the counterattack.
Match 4 ARG 1 vs NIG 0
Again with the playing not to lose.  Messi didn't manage to capitalize on any of his numerous chances, making it a closer game than it should have been.  Argentina had much more possession, more shots, more corner kicks, but until the very end Nigeria was only a chance goal away from the tie.
Match 5 ENG 1 vs USA 1
England scored early, USA tied late in the first half with a goal you'd normally see in a recreational U12 game.  On paper, England better, but US had plenty of chances for the upset.
Match 6 SVN 1 vs ALG 0
A snooze-fest only broken up by another goalkeeping blunder.
Match 7 SRB 0 vs GHA 1
First PK of the World Cup decides this one.  Otherwise fairly dull  I suck at picking WC results.
Match 8 GER 4 vs AUS 0
I really enjoyed this game.  Germany dominated in a way no other team has managed so far.  The first goal was a perfect little teaching moment -  'Play to the whistle' instead of raising your arm in the air and stopping because you don't understand "It is not an offence to be in an offside position".  A couple of yellows for diving - glad to see, there usually aren't enough.  A yellow for dissent - also glad to see, also usually not enough.
Match 9 NED 2 vs DEN 0
The first own-goal of the tournament opened the scoring in this one.
Match 10 JPN 1 vs CMR 0
I think the biggest upset so far.
Match 11 ITA 1 vs PAR 1
Italy came back to tie.  Not a fan of Italy.
Match 12 NZL 1 vs SVK 1
Slovakia's goal was offside.  It normally bugs we when commentators constantly question (95% wrongly) offside calls.  Replay shows Slovakian forward offside, and the AR out of position.  Big and very late 93rd minute goal from New Zealand to get a point and make group F interesting with everybody tied.
Match 13 POR 0 vs CIV 0
Picked Portugal to win, cheering for Ivory Coast, so lost on both counts.  Why is it that Ivory Coast is called Côte d'Ivoire on an english broadcast?  We don't hear Germany called Deutschland or Japan called Nippon.  Ronaldo is a diving pansy.
Match 14 BRA 2 vs PRK 1
Korea looked good in the first half.  Great first goal by Brazil, Korea scores late consolation that could be a factor in tie-breaks later on.
Match 15 HON 0 vs CHI 1
This is starting out as a very low scoring World Cup.  Half a goal less per game than the lowest of all time in 1990.  While I enjoy the tactical side of play, I can see why low scoring games makes soccer relatively unpopular in North America.  I missed about 20 minutes of this match, including the goal.
Match 16 ESP 0 vs SUI 1
The shock of the tournament!  Spain one of the favourites & had never lost to Switzerland before.
Match 17  RSA 0 vs URU 3
Goodbye Bafana Bafana.  Have to say I disagree with the red for DOGSO(F).  He was already diving when he got clipped, and the ball was too far away.
Match 18 ARG 4 vs KOR 1
Now we see Argentina in form.  Could have been more goals but Korean gk made some excellent saves.  From body language and behaviour, it seems to me that Maradona is not universally well liked by his players.
Match 19 GRE 2 vs NGA 1
A stupid and selfish red card has virtually eliminated Nigera from the World Cup.  They were leading at the time, fell apart immediately after, allowing Greece to score first WC goal ever, then get first WC win ever.

Match 20 FRA 0 vs MEX 2
Glad to see France lose, since they didn't deserve to be here anyway.
Match 21 GER 0 vs SRB 1
Another shocker.  A yellow card-fest with 9, IMO some were weak, including Klose's second.  I saw up to the missed PK! then had to head to the Doctor's for Mars 'flower fell up the nose' followup.
Match 22 SVN 2 vs USA 2
US not out of it, but expected better.  Still, they achieved the comeback from 0-2 and probably should have won on that disallowed goal.  Never did see a convincing replay showing a foul.
Match 23 ENG 0 vs ALG 0
England played like crap.  The only difference between this and the game they will play if they make the knockout round is that then I will have to add "... and goes out on penalties."  No teamwork.
Match 24 NED 1 vs JAP 0
Should have stayed in bed for more comfortable snoozing.
Match 25 GHA 1 vs AUS 1
Australia not the entertaining team they were last WC.
Match 26 CMR 1 vs DEN 2
And Cameroon is the first to 'officially' go.  African nations not doing so well.
Match 27 SVK 0 vs PAR 2
Paraguay looks strong again.
Match 28 NZL 1 vs ITA 1
Bogus penalty allowed Italy to get the draw.  Bunch of divers again.  Glad they didn't get the win, but unfortunately, I think they will still advance.  They have a better chance against Slovakia than NZ do against Paraguay.
Match 29 BRA 3 vs CIV 1
Not a good match for the referee.  Missed handling twice on the second goal, suspect red for Kaka.
Match 30 POR 7 vs PRK
After such a good showing vs Brazil, Korea flubs this one big time.  It was still close after the half, then they fell giving up three goals in seven minutes early in the half, and three more in the last ten minutes.  Has ramifications for advancement goal difference could be the difference between Portugal and Ivory Coast advancing.  I'm sad, I don't like Portugal.  Missed the last 10 minutes of this one at the doctor's office.
Match 31 CHI 1 vs SWI 0
A close one, Switzerland missing a golden opportunity right at the end to tie.  Another card-fest.  
Switzerland has played surprisingly well.
Match 32 SPA 2 vs HON 0
Spain finds better form, but still closer than it should have been.
Match 33 MEX 0 vs URU 1
Uruguay wins the group, the other group A match to decide who joins them in the next round.
Match 34 FRA 1 vs RSA 2
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!  I knew they wouldn't advance, but a loss to South Africa was the icing on the FU France cake.  Nothing will make it up to Ireland, but at least this is some small solace.
Match 35 GRE 0 vs ARG 2
Greece hung on for ages, but eventually Argentina got the goals.  Some brilliant save from Greek GK.
Match 36 NGA 2 vs  KOR 2
Back and forth.  One of the worst misses I've ever seen cost Nigeria!  A dead person lying on the ground could have scored that goal! Korea advances.
Match 37 ENG 1 vs SVN
England certainly had enough chances to put this one away.  Should of could of will hurt them later on.
Match 38 USA 1 vs ALG 0
It literally took a last minute goal for the US to win this and advance.  They looked much stronger last year at Confederations Cup.
Match 39 GER 1 vs GHA 0
Too close for comfort.

Match 40 AUS  2 vs SRB 1
"They are going potty", says the announcer after Australia's second goal.  Not enough after their drubbing by Germany - they are out on goal differential.
Match 41 ITA 2 vs SVK 3
WOOHOO!  Byebye to the undeserving (except maybe World Cup of Diving) winners from 2006.  Startled the boys by jumping and cheering Slovakia's third goal.  Italy did make it a very exciting finish, twice coming back from 2 goals down, with a number of chances to tie.
Match 42 PAR vs NZL
Both teams have employed a curious strategy.  Play the most boring game possible and hope the other team falls asleep.  Only one shot on net in the first half, NZ didn't get any on net all game.  Paraguay advances.
Match 43 DEN 1 vs JAP 3
A surprise for me.
Match 44 NED 2 vs CAM 1
Haven't watched this one - yet.  My mum is visiting, so missing some games.
Match 45 POR 0 vs BRA 0
Haven't watched this one - yet.  My mum is visiting, so missing some games.
Match 46 PRK 0 vs CIV 3
Feel bad for North Korea.  Started the WC so well against Brazil, then got hosed the next two games.
Match 47 CHI 1 vs SPA 2
Spain dominated possession, but a close game nonetheless.
Match 48 SWI 0 vs HON 0
Haven't watched this one. Thinking I won't bother. 

Round of 16
Match 49 URU 2 vs KOR 1
Uruguay continues to look strong.  I think they will handle Ghana and make the semis.  A miserable rainy day.  Uruguay's second goal is the best of the tournament!

Match 50 GHA 2 vs USA 1
I expected the US to prevail in this one.  US couldn't come back - again.  Thought the GK was weak on the 2nd goal. 
Match 51 GER 4 vs ENG 1
An officiated error was the difference in this one.  Poetic justice for 1966?
Match 52 ARG 3 vs MEX 1
Another officiating error made the difference.  Unfortunate, especially since I thought the AR was in position to see it.  There will be another storm about video replay.

Match  53 NED 2 vs SVK 1
Was not as close as the score makes it seem.  Debatable penalty in the 90th for Slovakia salvaged some pride.
Match 54 BRA 3 vs CHI 0
Sad for Chile, they had done well up to this point.  Second goal a laugher as Chilean defenders stands still with his arm in the air and lets Fabiano walk in uncontested for the goal.  Play to the whistle, kiddies.
Match 55 SPA 1 vs POR 0
Spain dominated this match in every way except score.  Ronaldo flopped around like a wet dishrag to no avail.  Bye-bye baby.
Match 56 PAR Pen 0 vs JAP 0 
The first penalty shootout.  A pretty dull game I thought.  Paraguay dominated on possession, I figured they would win, but didn't expect penalties to decide it.
Match 57 NED 2 vs BRA 1
I picked this one.  Thought I was wrong when Brazil scored early, but the Dutch came back!  One unfortunate thing - they employed a 'trick corner' play.  Even money says I see the local U12 try it next week.
Match 58 URU 1 vs GHA 1
Wow.  Ghana opens with seconds left in the first half, a ridiculous low shot from 30 yards that drew the keeper a step one way, then curled in the other.  Uruguay later tied on a very nice free kick.  Seconds from the end of the game, scramble in the goal area, three shots on, the third a DOGSO(H), Ghana is going to win on the resulting penalty... except its off the crossbar!  Game goes to penalty shootout, Ghana misses two more, and Uruguay goes on.  Destiny.
Match 59 ARG 0 vs GER 4
I expected this to be an exciting match, but certainly not like this!  Other than possession favouring Argentina, this was pretty close in the first half.  I fully expected Argentina to tie and the game go to extra time and then shootout.  Then bang bang it was over except the insult to injury goal in the 89th minute.  Messi completely disappeared throughout the game.  I guess this is what happens when one team has a coach and the other has a chubby cheerleader.

Match 60 PAR 0 vs SPA 1
How to play against a much stronger team 101.  Play defensively and foul a lot.  I think it could be argued that Paraguay shuld have got the goal that was called offside - it would have completely changed the game.  So would have the penalty.  Missed.  The thing with playing defensively against a much better team is that you have to convert your rare chances.  A penalty should be a gimmie.  Going back the other way, penalty for Spain is converted but called back for encroachment - bizarre I thought, since though technically correct (by a measly half step), I've yet to see a penalty without that kind of encroachment, and it isn't called.  The retake was stopped!   Craziness.  Even still, Spain was hard pressed to win this one.  The most bizarre goal of the WC at 83 minutes - shot off the post rebounds to Villa, who puts it off both posts before it goes in.  Huge chance for Paraguay in 89th minute is driven into the keeper.  A chip or sidestep would have been a sure goal.  Spain moves on, but I don't think they will beat Germany.  I'm predicting a Netherlands-Germany final.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm coming down with a month long illness... Cough. Cough.

Hockey season ended just in time.  The World Cup is here at last!  While I don't imagine I'll manage to watch as many games as in 2006, when I caught 58 of 64 matches, I still plan on getting in some serious soccer time.  It really is the beautiful game.  I have several predictions:  England will go out on penalties, Italy as a team will dive more than Ronaldo by himself (but barely), and Messi will get way more playing time than he did in 2006.  Hard to pick a winner.  Argentina?  Brazil will do well, I think England has a shot, and US might surprise.

One prediction has come true already:  I am sick of hearing "Bafana Bafana" from soccer play by play guys and commentators.  Give it a rest.  We know it is the team nickname.  Use it five or six times during a broadcast even.  But don't call the South African team Bafana Bafana every single freaking time you refer to them and then invent reasons to mention them a hundred extra times even when they aren't even playing.  No host country has failed to make the second stage, luckily South Africa will be the first.  Then we'll only have to hear Bafana Bafana twenty times a day.

I also hate the vuvuzelas already.  Atmosphere is great, but a constant irritating drone is not.  They were a constant irritant during the Confederations Cup that really detracted from enjoying the game.  At least I could turn the volume down, I can't imagine how much worse it was/will be on the field.  I wish they had been banned.

2nd Place in the 2010 Hockey Pool

I won the high school teacher pool by 30 points in 2008.  Knocked off the 4-time defending champion and was declared winner before the final round even started since nobody could catch me.  Last year I dropped to 6th after San Jose bombed out.  Didn't take anyone from those underachieving bums this year... oops.

Still, I managed second place this year, only 1 point out of first.  Very close, and very frustrating.  I got the sweep I needed in CHI vs SAN, but I didn't need Patrick Marleau to catch on fire in the series and get 6 points.  5 or less I would have won.  Grrrr...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Books of June 2010

5 Books
1075 pages

The Road to the Rim
The Hard Way Up
A. Bertram Chandler
ISBN 0-441-73100-7-175?
340 pages
June 6

I had actually spent most of the first week of June working on Dan Simmons "Olympos".  After 100 pages there were more characters than our local phone book.  My Greek mythology is strong enough to recognize many, but I just couldn't keep track.  The story didn't grab me either, so it became one of the very, very few books I gave up on after starting.  (The "Insanely ambitious..." review blurb on the front cover should have clued me in...)  Picked up some fun old-school science fiction instead for a quick refreshing read.  Why do they always smoke on spaceships in 1960's sci-fi?

The Children's Story
James Clavell
ISBN 0-440-20468-2
96 pages
June 13

Aimed more at an american audience with the pledge of allegiance, but very interesting nonetheless.  One of the things that scares me about sending kids to school is how impressionable they are.

The Book of Stratagems (Tactics for Triumph and Survival)
Harro Von Senger
ISBN 0-670-83962-0
397 pages
June 22

Been working on this for a while.  Got most of the way through, then misplaced it for a while.  A very interesting book.  Started strong, but I felt it grew weaker towards the end.  The examples of the different stratagems in particular seemed to get less and less relevant.  I am convinced that China is the country of the future because of their long-term thinking.  (And taking over the US, one "Made in China" sticker at a time.)

The Referee's Survival Guide:  Practical Suggestions For Soccer Officials
Jeffrey Caminsky
ISBN 978-0-9790106-0-6
242 pages
June 29

A good read.  I've been looking for a practical (as opposed to 'laws') refereeing book.  Some good tips to help me become a better referee.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Coffee Math

According to the directions on the coffee can,  you use 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp (15 to 25 ml) of coffee for every 3/4 cup (175 ml) of fresh, cold water.  (Who the hell drinks coffee by the 3/4 cup anyway?)  My coffee/tea mug is 500 ml, Leaf's is 15 oz.  If I want 1 mug of coffee and Leaf wants two, how much coffee is needed? 

The reservoir of our coffee machine doesn't use oz or cups or ml.  It has marks labelled 2, 4, 6, 8.  Each little mark is about 300ml.  There are also plus a little travel mug (one or two) icon.  How much water is needed?

Perhaps a more important question...  Why does it take a calculator, an online metric-imperial converter, and 20 minutes to figure out how much coffee to put in the coffee machine?  I'm not math phobic by any means, I have very good numeracy skills.  Really though, should it be this difficult?  It sounds like a trick question from a grade nine math test.  I hate that only one country in the world officially uses the imperial system, and that they are our largest trading partner.

For the record, 8-12 tbsp of coffee, water just under the "10" mark in the machine.  Leaf says I make coffee too strong.