Known Johnson

December 25, 2008

Not even a mouse

Filed under: General — Tom @ 8:14 am

It’s 6:55 on December 25, the day on which we measure the Mass of Christ in toys and electronics. I’m the only one up besides the cats, one of whom, Oscar, keeps trying to eat the bows and curly ribbons off of the boxes that have them, which is why I didn’t bother putting any on the ones that I wrapped. Every once in a while, I’ll hear a rustling, run out by the tree, and there will be Oscar, nestled up close by a present, gnawing away. It freaks him out, and he backs away in a rush, and out comes a big, nasty, chewed up mess of ribbon that has been half-way down his throat. Merry Christmas!

Christmas aglow

The giant box to the right there is something Amanda has been asking about for ages – a toy kitchen. Why she wants this, neither of us knows. It certainly isn’t due to the prowess of either of us in the real kitchen, that’s for sure. Alissa doesn’t cook and I merely “heat things up.” But every time we saw one of these in a store, she went nuts. It was her “lap request” to Santa, so we had to make it happen, and it was harder than we thought – sold out here, there, everywhere, bought online to ship to the store, didn’t arrive, first call to customer service resulted in basically a “hmm!” from their end and finally the second call resulted in them shipping it directly to us, and it arrived Monday night – FOUR WEEKS after it was ordered!

If you recall last Christmas, Amanda wasn’t so thrilled with Santa’s presence in the house. Most kids, “Santa’s here? Holy shit, presents!” Not our Amanda. Santa was that most unwanted of interlopers, and she stood at the farthest point of the house, back turned to him, pretending he wasn’t here. So this year, with Santa mere hours away and bedtime beckoning, tears welled in her eyes with fear that Santa would try to come in her room. That mean old man who comes and leaves presents, you know. So we told her that we’d put a sign on her door and that I would make sure to keep him out. “If he tries to come in your room I’ll beat him up, okay?” I said, and she thought that was okay. Because I’m that brave.

That'll tell him

I wondered how difficult Christmas was going to be this year, if maybe it was going to be made harder with the limited time after Danielle was born, but I found instead that I simply found ways to make it work – and I hardly bought anything online, amazingly. One item, one extremely hard to find, in-demand item, was bought months ago, and then the rest I stopping here and there on the way home from work, or running out on weekends to get. It worked out, but more than that, it was great fun – more fun shopping for Christmas than I’ve had in a long time, in fact. I’ve lamented in the past that some of the fun of Christmas shopping had disappeared and I think it may be due to the reliance on online sources for many things. Easy? Yes. Satisfying? Not so much. There’s something visceral lost about getting into the shops filled with holiday decorations that can’t be had from going to a website with a header graphic with snowflakes in it. I’ll try to remember it in the future, but the temptation will remain, I’m sure, to simply sit behind the computer and click “Buy Now!” rather than brave the crowds. I’ll try to resist it just to keep some of that holiday spirit in check.

And, speaking of holiday spirit, the picture we sent out with our cards of the girls . . . this was a much harder picture to get than you’d think, not because of 3 week old Danielle but because it is nearly impossible to get a 3 year old to smile naturally on command:

Ain't that what Christmas is all about?

That’s the true meaning of Christmas to me. Merry Christmas, everyone.

December 22, 2008

Vs. vs. vs. vs.

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 1:52 pm

I’m going to have to file myself back in the “don’t sue, Joe” category after watching everything for the past couple of weeks. Satriani might have felt unjustly ignored by Coldplay initially, but he may find himself the target of a lot more criticism now that so many other, older songs are being linked to his.

The above video only misses one other big song that is eerily similar, Cat Stevens’ 1973 “Love/Heaven”:

I can’t believe this has been going on since at least August. When I first heard about it, I really assumed it would just die out and nothing much more would come of it. Will it destroy Coldplay’s career if the case somehow winds up in Satriani’s favor? No way. Will it destroy his career either way? I fear it could make him a joke no matter what now. Rather than just letting things be, he’s chosen to go public with this and now all of these other songs are being presented that show that neither of them were being particularly original. Coldplay can get away with that because people just like their nice stuff and don’t care if they nicked it from elsewhere, but a guitar guy like Satch, whose reputation is built on his knack for melody and his talent, well, it could just shuffle him further into the corner of guitar-geeks who listen only for licks and speed. It’s probably too late to stop now, as that will look like he’s running away with his tail between his legs, but he may wish he could. I wish he’d simply taken it as an unacknowledged compliment from Coldplay to him on his melodic skills, leaving the lawsuit as just an unfulfilled thought passing through his head on a bad day.

Tis the season

Filed under: General — Tom @ 7:18 am

Daddy's little girl . . . with her own little mp3 player

Like father, like daughter. We get ’em started early with the music around here.

A self portrait of Amanda and her daddy

I’m surprised at how much this actually does look like both of us, and yes, she really did say it was a picture of us.

Shhh...

Don't wake baby

I have worried sometimes that maybe Amanda has too many “masculine” toys to play with – lots of cars, things like that, and she often shows little interest in “girly” things – but after seeing this I don’t think we have too much to worry about.

Just in time for Christmas

For the alcoholic who has everything . . .

This church has their holidays a little mixed up

I only wish I’d been able to capture the semi-animated resurrection immediately after this at this church’s immense light display. There are just some things that should not be represented with dinky Christmas lights . . . and I’m not a religious person.

December 19, 2008

Decision 2008

Filed under: Annoyances — Tom @ 9:37 am

I have decided that I really don’t like Will Smith.

December 18, 2008

The weather outside is . . . well, sort-of frightful

Filed under: General — Tom @ 4:25 pm

It’s been rainy. Really rainy. It seemed to take forever, but winter has finally descended upon us here in Phoenix. Maybe it’s not the horrible, frigid nastiness going on in the east right now, but it’s also not 85 degree weather like it was just a few weeks ago. Coats are out and being worn, let’s just say. Okay, fine, so far the lowest I’ve seen is 49 degrees. Don’t you laugh – you try living where it routinely spends much of the summer in 115 degree heat and then feel what 49 degrees feels like. It’s cold, man. “Me without my muff!” I can hear you quoting Robin Williams from Good Morning Vietnam. Hush.

Arizona drivers and any amount of rain do not equal a good thing. In fact, it’s a freakin’ mess. Combine that with the recent freakout over speed cameras on the freeways and you’ve got a complete nightmare. I keep seeing this quote from comedian George Carlin, something like “average intelligence means 50% of all people are more stupid than you.” Rain and these cameras really proves how right the late, great Carlin was. Let’s look at the rain first. It rains, and people slow down, which is natural . . . but we here in Phoenix slow waaaaaayyyy down. My drive to work is normally about 45 minutes, maybe an hour in bad traffic. Yesterday morning it was raining, not even particularly heavy rain . . . it took me one hour and forty-five minutes to get to work. I encountered no accidents, no closed roads, no actual blockages of any type. And yet . . . one hundred five minutes to drive about 30 miles.

And then there’s the issue of the cameras that have been installed on the freeways. You won’t see me complaining about them on a moral basis. I think they’re great. People drive like idiots as it is and these will at least get people to think about some aspect of the driving they are doing. Besides, they aren’t even activated unless you are going at least 10 miles over the speed limit (12 over in 55mph zones, 10 in 65mph zones, to be exact.) That’s pretty fair – a cop likely wouldn’t let you off for 10 over, which is a pretty significant amount over the speed limit, especially in town, where traffic is congested, which is where these cameras are located. Out on the open road, have at it – pedal to the metal. But people are freaking out like they’ve somehow lost rights here or something, to the point that they’re trying to put something on the next ballot to have these cameras deactivated. Nevermind that this is a public safety issue, they’re only concerned about how they will raise money for the state. Here’s a thought: don’t speed so they can’t collect anything from you. And you don’t even have to “not speed,” you just have to go no more than 9 mph over. How hard is that? It’s not like the cameras aren’t hidden – they have big yellow signs that say “Speed Enforcement Ahead” or something like that. People are upset because they have to pay attention to what they are doing, rather than gab mindlessly on their cellphones or do their makeup or whatever.

As a result, people see the signs and slow down . . . and I mean well below the speed limit. We’re talking about 35-45 mph. Knee-jerk reactions to the cameras, over-reactions aimed at trying to prove a point about how distracting they are, when they really aren’t. If people would just drive normally, ie, within a somewhat legal bracket around the speed limit, there would be no problems. But people want to make a point and so they go over board by slamming on their brakes thinking it somehow registers to “Speed Camera Control” or something, when all it really does it just cause traffic to jam up behind them. It is pure stupidity, and I see why we have earned our status as some of the very worst drivers America has to offer (#89 out of 100, as a matter of fact. Pretty proud of that.)

So driving this week has been more than a bit of an adventure. Not the rollicking, good-times excitement of an Indiana Jones adventure, but more of a Falling Down type adventure . . . I guess that’s not “adventure” but more “descent into madness.” Yes, that about describes it.

December 15, 2008

Ben Folds reluctantly joins the audiophile ranks

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 11:13 pm

With his latest album, Way To Normal, garnering the exact opposite of praise from quality sound lovers, it didn’t seem likely that this would happen, but today on Folds’ Myspace blog he announced that he will soon be giving away, to fanclub members, an uncompressed audiophile version of his latest album – on two discs, no less, with the first disc filled with the album plus extras and the second containing “stems,” or basic audio tracks, for remixing the album as you like. That said, he does seem to be going about this grudgingly, as if being prodded uncomfortably by someone holding a sharp stick at his back: “Although I stand behind the official version of this album and have the utmost respect for the producer and engineers involved, I’m a populist at heart and saw no reason not to provide a slightly different approach for those who prefer more old fashioned dynamics along with a sequence that builds.” “Old fashioned dynamics” is how he says “music that doesn’t sound like a screaming wall of noise.” Isn’t that quaint? He must love the new Metallica album.

I haven’t been the die-est of hardiest fans of Folds, but I like what I like a lot – that said, I found his previous album, Songs For Silverman, to be a snore-fest, and found myself growing more interested in this new album of his based on reviews. Now I have no reason to buy the regular version – I joined the fanclub solely to get this version of the album, as I have no need for the crap-sounding regular edition. No word on when the thing ships, but there is mention of “Feb. 15” being the drop-dead date for new fanclub members to get this two-disc Normal, so I would guess it’s after that.

Oh, and that membership gets you a t-shirt! Yay!

December 11, 2008

We’ve been a little busy . . .

Filed under: Baby makes FOUR — Tom @ 2:29 pm

We’ve been home from the hospital for a week now, but I’ve had no time to sit down and write anything substantial about the whole experience. I can’t say that’s going to change at the moment, but I’m going to try later. I wanted to write a quick post and say that all is going very well, for those who were curious why the radio-silence.

We’ve got two beautiful little girls at home. For those of you with one child at home, contemplating another and worried about those rough first few weeks, the second time around is much easier. At least for us. Wow, what a difference experience makes. We’re “old pros” apparently, needing little intervention from the nurses in the hospital, and Danielle sleeps well at night at home, too. It’s been an amazingly simple week. Busy, but simple. Tiring, but simple.

You don’t know how many times I’ve been asked, “So, when are you trying for a boy?”

First haircut

Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:13 pm

Just before Thanksgiving, Amanda got her first ever hair cut. This post, however, got lost in the sands of time due to all kinds of things . . . you know, that whole baby thing and all. Here, for posterity, are some before and after “glamour shots” of our “not yet a woman, still quite a little girl.”

In the chair

She did amazingly well – no crying, not even the slightest worry, actually, as she sat silently watching The Lady And The Tramp, I believe. It was over before she knew it . . .

Ignoring the paparazzi

This is as good as I could get after it was done – she wouldn’t stand still and just wanted to get in the truck and go eat, but dig those curls. All natural!

Breaking down the case: Satriani v Coldplay

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 2:10 pm

Hey, Coldplay isn’t the most original band in the world. Joe Satriani didn’t need to take them to court to prove that. This really clears things up – it likely wasn’t intentional, but those two songs are nearly identical, and it’s not just the solo, which is what most people are focusing on, and likely wouldn’t have been enough to go to court over. (Watch about from about 6:40 on if you only want to hear the evidence, watch the whole thing if you want to know WHY they’re the same.)

December 1, 2008

Introducing . . .

Filed under: Baby makes FOUR — Tom @ 7:31 pm

Danielle Brooke, born at 8:31 am Dec. 1, 2008, weighing in at 8 lbs. 10 ounces and 21.25″ long.

Danielle Brooke

This was a strange morning, and I’m really tired, so I will keep this short – Alissa woke up at something like 4 am thinking she merely needed to pee, to which I just rolled over and started to go right back to sleep, but as soon as she was done, she felt the need again, and that’s when I got up and the thoughts started racing. It took a few minutes, and another trip to “not pee” before it really struck us that, indeed, her water had broken, albeit in a very modest and minimal way. Since Amanda arrived via an induced labor, this is all new to us, so what ensued was a subdued version of the kind of panic that you see in sitcoms, where the characters frantically try to throw everything together that they might need. And we didn’t. We hardly took anything with us, which is why I’m able to write you now – I’m home, here to gather some stuff to take back to the hospital. (I’ve got my Iphone with me, but no way am I trying to type that much with my thumbs.) And now it’s off to a quick shower, and a shave – I’ve got the George Michael/Kip Winger three-days stubble thing going on, and it’s so not happening on me.

On a side note, man, I forgot the amusing “arrival audio” that accompanies an infant diaper event. There’s no denying a newborn needs a diaper change when you hear that tiny cannon they pack go off.

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