Friday, June 09, 2006

Double-Play Goodness

Last Saturday I did one of those "Dad" things that's almost as beautiful as the perfectly turned double-play....

Alvis had been wanting to get wet...really in "wave-pool" wet all week. I knew we had a busy Saturday lined up, but had promised we would do all we could to make it to the wave-pool. By 4pm however, the day was still full and we were setting off to pick up a few last-minute gifts for Lavie's birthday.

I had called to the local bookstore to find out if they had the "Magister Negi Magi" manga editions we were hoping to get for Lavie--no dice. So that meant a longer journey to one of those "FOX" bookstores (you know, as in "You've Got Mail"). Alvis wasn't happy as she had done the math in her head and quickly calculated that this would probably mean no wave-pool. We had the standard father-daughter "discussion" about priorities and thinking of mom over ourselves. Dear Alvis's brain and heart were dealing with the conflictive feelings like only a pre-teen girl can really understand.

So, in a moment of pity and conflict myself, I quickly turned the car around and we shot out to the local mall. Maybe we could make it. However, a quick check on the cell-phone did confirm there was no way we could possibly get all the stops done AND make the wave-pool. They closed an hour earlier than we thought. Bummer. Now what?

We made an adjustment and picked up Lavie's birthday gifts. Somewhere between the food section and the manga section of the bookstore, inspiration hit.

At our next stop in Target getting cards (they have had the best selection of cards lately!) I sauntered over to the toy rows and started looking around the pool toys. Alvis perked up a bit. I bent down and looked at that wonderful invention known the world over as the "Slip'n'Slide." Ohhh! That did it. Alvis's face brightened like sunbeams breaking through storm-clouds. I asked her if she recommended the standard model (sheet of plastic, hose to water it down) or the "Bounce 'n Splash" model (an inflatable cushioned landing zone and a "pool" of water at the end).

"Definitely the Bounce model," said Alvis sounding suddenly much more grown-up and suspiciously like a most professional product consultant.

Plan still forming in my head, we then stopped by the grocery store and loaded up on picnic goods: potato and pasta salads, Frostie blue-cream sodas, Stewart's Key-lime cream soda, peach-tea Snapple. Plastic plates and utensils. Pink and Green Jello cups. The mandatory super-colossal seedless watermelon. Alvis loaded up the cart with three, ten-pound bags of ice carried at one time (is she really that big now?). We swung by Popeye's and grabbed a mix of fried-chicken and corn on the cob.

Racing back home we dumped everything but the chicken in the cooler and drug it out into the back yard. Alvis quickly changed into one of those darling gym-shorts/swim-suit top combos that daughters seem to love to drive their dad's mad in. Ten minutes later we had inflated the Slip'N'Slide and had it staked out in the backyard and Alvis was flying down the runway. Slipping and, well, honestly...sliding! The grass still smelled pleasantly fresh of green onions (a few are growing "wild" in the yard) and cut grass from the morning's mow.

Lavie got home from her afternoon errand run about thirty minutes later. We surprised her big-time. She joined me on the gliding swing and we held hands and watched Alvis continue to scream and giggle and perform different techniques for our enjoyment. Eventually we tucked into the cooler and chicken. Yummers. A round of Frisbee toss followed--playing that stupidly fun game of "let's see how many times we can toss it around before someone drops it."

Eventually the day wore down. Watermelon rinds littered our small compost pile. A big mud-pit had developed at the base of the Slip'N'Slide where Alvis's takeoffs happened. Bottles of pop littered the ground near the trash-can. Lavie and I held hands and negotiated with Alvis for "just ten more minutes..OK? I promise!"

Dad and Alvis ended up turning the perfect double-play. Wave pool, you ask? Forgotten.

Summer had officially began.

Spectator linkage

Turuya Ryokan - When I finally get over to Japan. I have to stay in a ryokan. It's like a traditional Japanese hotel. The Turuya Ryokan (English site) has a long and proud history. If I could decorate our home in any style--this would be very close to my perfect dream.

Speaking of home decorating, HG-TV is offering a fabulous web-based room planner. Pick your room, adjust the size, add furniture elements. Adjust. And re-adjust. Really fun and it is guaranteed to save your back from unnecessary strains.

Watashi to Tokyo blogged a while back about room layouts in Japan. One interesting thing I learned is that often, floorplans are listed in "tatami" units. Some are so strange, it really makes one wonder.

Danny Choo also expounded about the wacky world of rental/ownership life in Japan. It's one of those situations where you are crazy to rent, but also crazy to own. Nice humorous overview of some of the ups and downs of looking for property in Japan.

Bad news for you Windows 98/95/ME/Bob users out there! Not only did Mozilla seem to indicate Firefox 3.0 will not support any pre-W2K Microsoft OS, but Microsoft itself admitted that Windows 98 had a security flaw in Windows Explorer that was just so bad, itwasn't worth the effort to try to fix. Official support (security updates) is ending in July anyway for Windows 98/98SE/ME.

Want to fondly remember old web-browsing software? Can't find a version to run anymore on your old Windows 3.11 pc you still have chugging away in the garage? Head on over to's Browser Archive. I installed Mosaic on our systems when I got my first job with my company and used Netscape Navigator at home back when it wasn't cool.

Microsoft may be planning an August release of IE 7 Beta version 3 - via AMCP Tech Blog.

Instructables has a pretty simple to follow guide on how to repair your remote controls. I have a fancy 32" TV that has a dual tuner built-in so I can run picture-in-picture without needing a VCR. Only problem is that it only can be controlled with the factory remote. Universal controllers don't work that feature. It's a real drag as the remote doesn't work. I've hacked it along for a long time, but it seems the metallic coating on the bottom of the rubber buttons that contacts the circuit board on many of the key buttons has finally worn off. I've heard somewhere that painting them with the same metallic goo used to repair breaks in a car's rear-window defroster will bring them back to life....

Finally, every now and then, I break out my artist-grade black-ink marker set and get to sketching. I love pen and ink sketches. I was delighted, then, to find Mattias Adolfsson's blog: MattiasInks. Inspiring stuff for the ink-sketchers. Mattias's "full" web-page has even more content.

Which leads me to close with Ed Emberly's web-page. As a kid, I spent almost every summer checking out Ed's illustration books for kids (and the kids at heart) from our public library. I would patiently followed the instructions and drew my basic shapes, added lines and dots and stuff and somehow end up with wonderful Emberly cars, buildings, dogs, flowers, bugs. I really liked the thumb-print people.

See you in summer skies,

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