Grace’s Never-ending Birthday

Last Saturday was Grace’s birthday party. We had a bowling party at Mardi Gras bowling lanes. These days bowling for kids, and especially at a birthday party, is about some many other things than bowling. There is a video screen showing music videos of things like Crazy Frog (video), which started as a UK ringtone and became known as the most annoying thing in the world. This means plenty of dancing from our gathering of 1st grade girls (and two boys).

Birthday parties also have a DJ/MC. He incites the kids and gets them to run away from the lanes towards his corner location. He asks trivia questions so he can away free bowling games. Some kids had 3 or 4 free games clutched in their hands. Anything to get the kids to come back with their paying parents. He also encourages to run around and scream at the top of their lungs. This is why you have birthday parties in locations other than your home.

Our time in the party room was spent eating Spiderman cake and opening presents. This is quite a change, and a quick one at that, from a kid who had a royal ball party for 4 to have a Spiderman Bowling Party at 6. We opened plenty of presents from the kids in attendance.

That night we went out to dinner with my folks at the Bonefish Grill for Grace’s birthday dinner. He had been going to Kanki, a Japanese steak house where they patchki on the table, for years for birthday dinners, but we wanted to avoid sodium overload this year.

Wednesday, Grace’s actual birthday, we woke her up to all her birthday singing animals. Earlier in the month Grace bought herself a Build-a-Bear frog and installed a Happy Birthday song in it. She called it her birthday present to herself, and that’s why she put the birthday song in it. We also played her Happy Birthday Bear to help her wake up.

Meg made cookies for Grace’s class and ate lunch in the cafeteria with her. Her jumprope team sang her Happy Birthday during practice. And finally we had another dinner (at Aunt Kathy’s), another cake (ice cream cake from Cold Stone) and more presents (including a Spiderman motorcycle and a robot from Radio Shack).

How much I miss Clinton

I supported Clinton when he was in office, but never quite was a FOB (Friend of Bill). There was always a little too much slickness, or calculatedness, turning on and off his Southern drawl depending on the situation.

This morning on NPR, he was interviewed about the potential changes Congress is debating regarding terrorist prisoners, torture and the Geneva convention. After hearing the interview, I had two thoughts: Clinton is a thoughtful, intelligent politician, and Bush is a total idiot.

Clinton’s main point was that there is no need to address broad sweeping changes to the Geneva convention for a small sub-set of possibilities, when those possibilities can be addressed on a case-by-case basis. For example, a known terrorist with known information can be coerced to get information, and permission to do it can be applied for afterwards. This seems completely logical to me. Plus no one will really question the process if it yields results.

Falcons Victorious

Peter’s football team won a squeaker today against the Durham Firebirds. This was a tremendous improvement over last week’s game where they were shut out.

The Firebirds came out with some trick plays and scored a quick touchdown. The Falcons responded with a touchdown of their own making it 6-6. More trick plays from the Firebirds made it 12-6 in the first quarter. The Falcons scored again before halftime making 12-12 at the break.

The second half was nearly scoreless. In the fourth quarter the Falcons drove down the field, but lost the ball near the end zone. The Firebirds struggled to move the ball from deep in their end of the field. On what should have been the last play of regulation, the Firebirds quarterback pitched the ball to nobody and the ball rolled into the end zone. A Firebirds player dove onto the ball, and it was a safety, adding two points to the Falcons score. The Falcons had the lead.

The Firebirds tried an on-sides kick, but failed to recover it. The Falcons lined up for one final play, but the clock ran down. Falcons 14 Firebirds 12.

Falcons raise their helmets in victory

One thing to note about the game: I was part of the chain gang working the first down sticks. I had a great view of the action, but Peter was mainly on the opposite from me.

Milano Madness

When I was growing up in 70s and 80s, I loved Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. They were the perfect mix of cookie and rich, dark chocolate. There were about six or eight other chocolate filled Pepperidge Farm cookies at the time, things like Brussels and Tahoe, but Milano were the best.

I lost touch with Milanos in high school, but rediscovered Mint Milanos in college. They had managed to take a perfect cookie and improve it by added the cool, smooth mint. We could buy these fantastic cookies on meal points, and boy did I buy a lot of them. Combined with 11:00 pm steak and chesse heroes and milkshakes, they did their part to support the Freshman 15.

Much time has passed, in fact I just got an invitation to my 20th college reunion coming up this Spring, and I have lost touch with one of my favorite childhood cookies. I have other favorite cookies that have other associations, but that’s another story for another day. Anyway, I was in the grocery store and noticed something called Black and White Milanos. These have one chocolate cookie and one white cookie. I managed walk on by these cookies, but it seemed like a good time to look up the varieties of Milanos.

According to Pepperidge Farm website, there are currently nine varieties:
Double Chocolate Milano
Milk Chocolate Milano
Mint Milano
Raspberry Milano
Orange Milano
French Vanilla Milano
Black & White Milano
Amaretto Milano

Plus Mini Mint Milanos

It seems that over the years, this perfect cookie has become gentrified and has grown up with its lovers. No self-respecting kid would ever ask for Amaretto or French Vanilla Milanos. I don’t think I would either. I would stick to the traditional or Mint flavors only, and leave it at that. These are not cookies to fan out while entertaining. They are just cookies. But good ones.

iPod Preferences

One of the best things about having a large (30GB) iPod is the ability to load box sets onto it. A couple of the collections I have are the Motown Set (4 disks) and the Police Box Sets (every released recording on 4 disks). But there is one box set that appears to be my iPod’s favorite: Velvet Underground. I have 4 of the 5 disks on my iPod, and I think almost every time I listen in Shuffle mode, a Velvet Underground song comes up.

I know you shouldn’t mess with the karma of the iPod and click to the next song, but sometimes I do.

Branded Monopoly

From the NY Times:

THE familiar tokens from the Monopoly board game are getting a modern — and, some might say, mercenary — makeover.

An updated edition of the venerable game, scheduled to be introduced on Thursday, will include tokens that are styled after name-brand products. Five of the eight tokens in the new Monopoly Here and Now edition will be branded, offering game players the chance to be represented by miniature versions of a Toyota Prius hybrid car, an order of McDonald’s French fries, a New Balance running shoe, a cup of Starbucks coffee or a Motorola Razr cellphone.

Punt, Pass & Kick

Today Peter participated in the local Punt, Pass & Kick competition. It was a fun and informal gathering for him and several of his sports-minded friends. He was one of 3 kids from his football team competing in the 8-9 Boys division.

He made a good attempt, but did not place in the competition. He had fun and got an official NFL certificate with all the team football helmets.

First Football Game

Peter had his first football game today. As he described it to a friend, “We got creamed 25-0.” This will be a very different year than last year. Peter has been playing back-up quarterback in practice, but did not take a snap during the game.

He only played on defense, mainly linebacker. He forced a fumble on one play.

As the coach said, this game points out what they need to work on.