Sunday, December 31

The end of 06

The last post of 2006:
  • Yesterday, while walking through Nordstrom in Scottsdale, I saw Milo Ventimiglia, the actor who plays Peter Petrelli on Heroes, has been on Gilmore Girls as Jess, and is currently playing Rocky Balboa's son in Rocky Balboa. Of course, I find him coolest because of Heroes.
  • We all went to the Phoenix Zoo for ZooLights the other night. ZooLights is a cool light display that the zoo puts on every year over the holidays. It's really pretty cheesy, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't looking forward to Sydney staying awake through it next year.
  • Tonight we are hosting the New Year's festivities. Mom, Howie and Auntie Donna are coming over, and we will all enjoy Chinese food, watching a movie or playing a game, and mocking the fools in the cold out there in New York. (Don't get pissy, people. I've been that fool before. I know how cold it is.)
  • Tomorrow is January 1, 2007. A new year. It's freaky how quickly this year went by.

Saturday, December 30

Revolutions are a good thing

Saddam Hussein was executed this morning. He was hung until dead, the whole thing was videotaped, and his body has been, reportedly, handed over to a tribe in Iraq for his burial. It's a good thing when a malicious dictator is removed from power and subsequently kept from ever regaining said power, but I'm still not sure that having a foreign influence (which is the United States) do the removal is the best course of action.
Vicious state leaders fill history books. I suppose there have to be bad guys so we can recognize who the good guys are. But with most of those bad guys, it's the people they reign over that usually put the end to them. Czarist governing body, right? Killed in the Russian revolution. Henry and Marie Antoinette killed by their own people in the French Revolution. All these leaders were taken to task by the people they wronged the most: their own countrymen.
A leader, half a world away, who decides that another leader must be removed from power is a risk to every country's sovereignty. How do we, as the United States, respond when there is a threat to our own future, like North Korea or even communism? We're all, "Who are they to tell us what to do?" Who are we to do that to them? Let the people rise up and decide. Hypocrisy is alive and well in U.S. foreign policy.
History and the future have a way of playing with the residents of this planet. Someday, the U.S. will not be the greatest super power on the planet. It's the circle of things that demands that. Here's hoping that the next great government treats us well, doesn't decide that a republic is the wrong kind of government, and is a benevolent ruler.

Thursday, December 28

Do forced good deeds count?

I can't believe that it's happened. The Bush administration has slowly and unwillingly sidled up to the bar and announced a proposal that may not destroy the morale of the citizens, the imprint it leaves on the world, or the scar on my psyche.
Polar bears have had their issues over the last several decades. The global warming trend has diminished their ice flows, forcing them to roam farther to hunt, and thereby threatening their survival. I've heard that they've had to swim huge distances for food, resulting in their drowning deaths ... far more than ever recorded. But knock me over with a feather, the administration is proposing the addition of the polar bear to the endangered species list as a "threatened species" because of a loss of habitat that jeopardizes their survival.
And because the president would never do anything merely out of the kindness of his heart or to better the environment and the planet's animals, this action is in response to a lawsuit filed by three conservation groups, who sued the Department of the Interior in an effort to protect the polar bear from the effects of global warming.
"Polar bears are one of nature's ultimate survivors, able to live and thrive in one of the world's harshest environments," said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne in a teleconference with reporters. "But we are concerned the polar bears' habitat may literally be melting."
"Science has triumphed over bad policy," said Kert Davies, research director for Greenpeace U.S, "Bush has been the Scrooge, Bah Humbug on global warming, but there's rising pressure among public opinion and scientists to do something about this."
"We can't save polar bears without the reduction of greenhouse gases," said Kassie Siegel, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity based in Tucson, Arizona. (Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council are the other groups that were part of the lawsuit.) "We need new federal legislation that caps and reduces greenhouse gas emissions," she said.
After a public comment period and additional study, the Department of the Interior will make a final decision on the polar bear's status in 12 months. So the protection of the polar bear isn't a done deal yet, but at least the wheels are turning.

Wednesday, December 27

Sunshinier days

The best part about the weeks and months after December 21 is that every day that goes by is a bit sunnier. It's no secret that I love the sunshine. In fact, it's the biggest argument I have with Brian every morning. "I like the blinds open. I like to have the sun shining in," I say. "It's 200 degrees outside, Kimmie. It stays cooler inside if the blinds are shut," he counters. It's a lovely conversation that repeats itself regularly, especially in the summer months, especially in Arizona. But now, with cooler weather, I get no static about keeping the shades open all day every day. And now, after Dec. 21, the sunshine lasts longer. Doesn't it feel like the days are longer already?

Tuesday, December 26

Still a hunk of burning postage

How was your holiday weekend? Mine was frickin' awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed being home and visiting with everyone, and even more so, loved showing off my little baby girl to my friends and family. Of course, she was the hit of every gathering, but beyond that, she was a good girl ... barely fussing unless we were home and smiling up a storm.
And what cool stuff did you all get? Santa (and especially Mom) rocked my world with a lot of good loot. The Alias TV DVD box set (all five seasons, which I'll not get to until next week probably); a bunch of iTunes money; the U2 coffee table book; some Barnes & Noble gift cards; and other stuff. Sydney cleaned up, of course, and came home with the coolest rocking dragon ever from her grandma and grandpa, and a star registered to her from her grandpa; some Baby Einstein DVDs; clothes; toys; books; and all the stuff a growing baby brain needs.
So we're home today. The drive was decent, if a bit long. That drive home from Cali always does seem to take a bit longer, for some reason. Something to do with the expanse of desert when heading into it, rather than away from it, I think...

Did you know that the Elvis stamp is still the most-collected stamp that the post office has ever issued? Now you do. (Any excuse to get my man, Elvis, on the blog is a good one, and that little trivial tidbit serves the purpose today...)

Saturday, December 16

Now they need to be wrapped...

Today, yes today, I finished my Christmas shopping. It's weird, you know, this first shopping season with a baby. I find myself envious of all the ladies with babies that: are able to sit up in a regular stroller seat, are entertained by nothing but the people passing by, and seem to be content for hours on end by the mall. My baby is not one of those kinds of children. Next year, of course, she will be, but for now, I had to do all my shopping in "quick" mode while Brian stayed home with the kid. Otherwise, every time the stroller would stop moving, she would start crying. Not a cool thing when you've got a list like mine.
At any rate, the mall today was not too terrible. I had anticipated a lot more traffic, foot and car, moving through the parking structure and the walkways. I got some pretty inspired gifts for some of the people on my list, and some gifts are just kind of random. But in the end, I'm more excited about seeing everyone this year, rather than just sending them out to the far reaches of the country.

Friday, December 15

Quite kingly

I'm not one of those that is obsessed with the British royalty. I can see why some people believe it to be an outdated and ridiculous institution to uphold. Personally though, I think it's pretty cool that there are still kings, queens, princes and duchesses in the world, be they British, Danish, Spanish or whatever. (Vanity Fair did an incredible photo spread of the current European royalty last year or the year before, and there are a lot of them.) Of course, none are more well known than the British monarchy, as evidenced by all the hoopla surrounding Prince Charles, Queen Victoria, Prince William, and the late Princess Diana.
A report came out this week about Princess Diana's death again. Saying, again, that the driver of her car, Henri Paul, was drunk. I thought we knew this. I feel bad for her two boys who have to constantly be reminded (not that they can forget) about the tragic death of their mother, and be subjected to all the conspiracy theories and whatnot, regardless of the facts of the incident.
Between the report and the speculation about Prince William's relationship with his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, the Brits have been front and center in a number of magazines this week. But I have to tell you, I hope that I see William become king some day. I think he'll be the kind of king his mom imagined him being, like "the people's king." I find Charles to be a bit too stuck up for this century's monarchy. Witness William's graduation from The Royal Military Academy in Camberley, southern England (pictured). He graduated as an army officer in a traditional military rite of passage for the second in line to the throne. See that? Already breaking with tradition. I dig this picture, actually. He's broken into a smile while his grandmother reviews the new cadets. This also shows a sense of humor. Not very king-ish, but I think that's what will make him a better one.

Thursday, December 14

Happy with proper spelling

So much going on!!
  • We've tried a couple new restaurants recently. Much to Tara's chagrin, we visited an establishment called Pink Taco for lunch on Tuesday. As offensive as the name may be, the food was actually pretty good. I had a chicken chimichanga, and we thoroughly enjoyed the kitchen's queso dip. And speaking of good queso dip (which I think is a new obsession of ours), Brian and I also stopped by Salty Senorita. There, I experimented with eating the empanadas, which were very good, and Brian had the Mexican street tacos, which he enjoyed. Sydney didn't enjoy any of it, so we left quickly, but at least we got through most of the meal without having to hold her.
  • I got a lot of Christmas shopping done over the weekend. There are still a couple people on my list hanging out, but I think I'll be able to finish it up over the next day or two.
  • The Golden Globe nominees were announced this morning! (Yay! Awards season is here!) Those I like in movies: Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for both The Departed and Blood Diamond; Johnny Depp for Pirates: Dead Man's Chest; Kate Winslet for Little Children; Aaron Eckhart for Thank You for Smoking; Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg in the supporting actor category; Martin Scorsese for The Departed; Cars; The Departed. In television: Heroes and Lost; Steve Carell and The Office; Zach Braff; Jeremy Piven and Masi Oka in the supporting actor category.
  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt made their first "public appearance" as a couple for the paparazzi, at the premiere for her movie, The Good Shepherd. They look good, yes? Jolie also is on the upcoming issue of Vogue's cover. The article sounds as if it will be a good one, and the photos are amazing. (I saw them on line yesterday.) I still am behind this couple 100 percent. I hope that they stay together for a long time.
  • The Red Sox have spent a ridiculous amount of money for a new pitcher. Though they certainly can use the extra arm power on the mound, couldn't they have split some of that money and picked up some other help, too?
  • And for those of you who know me best, you can probably guess how much the title of the Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, bugs me. I swear, my eye twitches every time I see it, and it hurt me to just now type the word out that way. Why, oh why is it becoming okay to grossly misspell words for no reason other than to draw attention? Would the movie have been ruined if they had spelled the word "Happyness" with an "i", as it should be? Argh!!

Saturday, December 9

"And I'm spent..."

Okay, so the photo shoot didn't go exactly how I planned it this morning. One of our two kids was not to cooperative, and if you can believe it, it was the furry one. Ollie wanted no part of sitting next to Sydney for a photo (witness this outtake). Every time she moved, he'd twitch a little bit, and if she touched him, he was quick to move away from her. So, in light of his reticence, we didn't get a single decent pic of the two of them together. Thus, the beauty of the multi-photo greeting card format. I wasn't about to keep you all from your annual picture of Oliver, nor was I going to deny you a picture of Sydney. On the card I chose, you'll get them both. I've ordered the cards online, and they will be ready for pick up in an hour or so. I'm hoping to have them addressed and in the mail on Monday, which really, I think I should be able to do.

Thursday, December 7

And it's not even going from 1999 to 2000

You know that, should I ever be allowed to go up in the space shuttle, my mission would be one of those that is scrubbed 10 minutes before launch.
So weather was the reason behind the cancellation of tonight's launch of Discovery. And Friday is looking like a bleak option, since the winds are projected to be fast and furious. According to the AP: "A new launch attempt was set for 8:47 p.m. Saturday, although weather forecasters gave the new time only a 30 percent chance of acceptable weather because of expected strong winds at the launch pad." Forecasters are iffy on that too though, saying that Tuesday may actually be the shuttle's best bet. (Did you know that each scrubbed launch costs NASA $500,000?)
But this is an interesting twist:
"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said he felt no pressure to stick to the launch schedule, despite NASA's desire to go up before Dec. 17 so that Discovery is back on the ground for the new year. Shuttle computers are not designed to make the change from the 365th day of the old year to the first day of the new year while in flight. The space agency has figured out a solution for the New Year's Day problem, but managers are reluctant to try it if they don't have to do so.
If Discovery is still grounded by Dec. 18, NASA may decide to keep trying anyway through Dec. 26.
'We've got days and days, and we're not even worrying about the clock problem,' Griffin said. 'The clock problem is an annoyance, but it's not a real problem in the sense that we know how to deal with it.'"
This also was supposed to be the first nighttime launch since before the Columbia explosion. Officials wanted to have good views of any foam that would fall off the tanks, so were sticking with daytime schedules. But it was decided that the last launches yielded an acceptable amount of foam, so the go-ahead was given for the nighttime takeoff. An evening launch must be a sight to behold ... from the stands. I still yearn to be on one when it leaves the ground.

"Hello Beastie"

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest sold 5 million copies on Tuesday, its first day on DVD. I know that I was among those that bought it. I sprung for the two-disc set, so I could have all the making-of featurettes and the like. We watched it that night, as, I'm sure, did the other people who picked it up. While I enjoyed it more the second time around (you'll remember that we weren't exactly bowled over by it in the theater), I was still struck by how hard the film was trying to be better than the first. By my opinion, it can't be, simply because the first Pirates was so new, fresh and clever.
Anyway, the next Pirates movie, At World's End, is still in production, and is slated for release on Memorial Day weekend next year. That's not too far away. One of the writers, who was quoted on the web today, said that they had a hard time coming up with an appropriate ending for the trilogy, as it needed to be bigger and better, since it's ending three films instead of just one. I bet that's truer than most people would recognize. They've certainly built up a lot of expectations for the film, based on nothing more than how well received the first two were. I don't envy them that writers' task!

Wednesday, December 6

They're supermodels

And who, you may ask, wins this year's award for first Christmas card received in the mail? Pamela does! And what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a photo card of her two adorable little girls, Abigail and Anabelle!
This brings into sharp focus the fact that I still have yet to stage my own Christmas photo shoot. Usually, the card is really easy. Herewith, the steps: pick up Oliver, put him some place a bit Christmas-y (except for last year's exceptional photo from the Cape); expend five to seven photos to get the one perfect shot; get it printed on cards; mail them to friends and family. This year though, the task includes one more complication. And yes, in this instance, Sydney is a complication. As I said, Oliver is easy. Oliver next to a baby who can't sit up on her own is a bit more challenging.
Though I am leaning to, Mom tells me that I can't send out a picture of just Oliver this year. "People will expect to see your daughter," she says. So that is what tops my agenda for the weekend. I'll need Brian's help, but I think we can make a decent holiday photo for the world with both our kids in it.

Tuesday, December 5

O Christmas tree

Brian brought home a tree this evening. I can now say that, yes, I am an absolute pushover for my husband when it comes to Christmas. He loves it so much (as do I), that I simply can't say no too much. It was my intention to get through this holiday season without a tree -- since we'd be in Cali for the holiday anyway. But the pout, the pleading look and the, "What? What do you mean I can't have a tree?" wore me down. Sydney was not helpful, as she proved to be an incredible handful throughout the entire evening. Still, the tree is lit, decorated and pretty. At any rate, we are officially all about Christmas in our house now.

Monday, December 4

Two finales, one season

Tonight is the last new episode of Heroes until January 22. We won't see a new episode of Lost until February 7, or Jericho until February 21. Welcome to the new, and fast-rising, world of the television season's "fall finale." I must say, I'm digging it.
I don't like reruns, and prefer to have as much new television in a row as possible. Network executives have discovered the key to this: show several new episodes in a row, take an extended break, perhaps fill the space with another show for a while, then finish up the season with another block of new episodes. Lost will return with 12 or 13 new episodes. So will Jericho. Heroes, from what I read this morning, will follow a new arc in January, break again, and then finish up with another story arc going into May sweeps. It's fun actually, taking breaks from favorite shows. I can use the vacation from necessary television during these next few weeks, just as I do when summer comes along.
So tonight is the end of the "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World," storyline. Here's hoping that next month's story arc will lend itself to a marketing plan and tagline that's just as fun and kicky.

Sunday, December 3

Holiday light display in Denver

Look at this picture. Tell me it's not one of the coolest holiday photographs you've ever seen. I'm loving the angle and the eye of the photographer going on here.
The annual holiday light display illuminates the Denver City/County building, seen through a fisheye lens Saturday, Nov. 25, 2006.

Party of six, and a car seat

Mom, Howie, Arlene and Jorge are on their plane, headling back to California. We had a great weekend. The main stop on our weekend agenda was the Tempe Festival of the Arts, an art fair that extends most of the way along downtown Tempe's Mill Avenue. The festival has always been a fun thing to do, as most of the wares for sale are of good quality and nicely made. It's amazing to me how much it's grown though. When I first started going, it ran the length of the street -- barely. Now, it's packed along the main street and spreads down the side streets. One thing that hasn't changed are the fantastic finds. I've got a super cool new desk lamp (which was quite necessary, since the last one was shattered in the move); Mom and Arlene picked up a couple nifty vases; Mom and I each got a piece of Christmas decor for the garden; and of course, we made tracks for the most required stop: kettle corn (one of man's greatest inventions). The weather was amazing -- just the right mix of sunshine and cool temperatures -- and there was a ton to look at and marvel over. I find myself looking forward to the spring festival already.
We also made our way through a few good restaurants, and in and out of a few shops at the mall today. The visit itself was a day short, if you ask me, but with the holidays coming up, I won't be lacking for family company in the weeks ahead. Still, I wish they'd have been able to stay another day.