Fox News Covers Protesters in Denver

Apparently some of the protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Denver do not care for Fox News, and they have no problems with letting them know it.


As of last Friday afternoon, we are the proud owners of just one house with the sale of our house in Cedar Rapids closing around 5:30 that day. It actually came pretty close to not closing as I got a call from our Realtor early in the afternoon. Apparently there had been a disconnect in how we and our Realtor read the purchase agreement and how the buyers and their agent intended for it to be understood. It turned out that the buyers thought they were getting $4,000 more from us for closing costs and down payment assistance than we thought we were providing. Eventually everything got worked out, although we did up contributing a bit more money than we had originally anticipated. I am just glad that the sale was completed before we will have to make another house payment. I didn't care for the idea of making two different house payments for a second month.

With everything we put into our house in Cedar Rapids, I hope the new owners manage to take care of it. I especially hope they don't lose the house to foreclosure. That could hurt the neighborhood, and we had some terrific neighbors there on Sheridan Drive in Cedar Rapids. I am concerned though because the buyers were participating in a down payment assistance program in which we, the sellers, provided some of the money for their down payment. If they didn't have the money for the down payment, I don't know how they can afford the house. I guess time will show if they make things work out.



Today Mel, Emma, and I went to Mel's company's company picnic at Como Park in Saint Paul. With the state fair going on a short distance away, we decided to head over early to find a place to park. We got to the park early enough that we decided to check out the zoo first. It was fun walking through the zoo. Emma really liked to watch the California sea lions swimming around in their pool.

After checking out the zoo, we went to the pavilion where the picnic was being help. I was able to meet several of Mel's coworkers, and we had some good food. Emma even enjoyed sliding down the inflatable slide that they had set up in the park.


The Great Minnesota Get-Together

As we had planned, Mel, Emma, and I went to the Minnesota State Fair today. This is actually the first state fair that I have ever been to. In the thirty-four summers I lived in Iowa, I never attended the Iowa State Fair, but the very first summer I lived in Minnesota, I ended up becoming a fair goer.

Mostly, we just wandered around looking at the various exhibits. The first thing we did was to go to the Miracle of Birth Center. There we saw a newborn lamb and its mother. We also saw a cow that was starting to go into labor. However, Emma grew a bit impatient as we watched the cow, so we had to leave before the calf was born.

In all, we spent about four or five hours wandering around the fairgrounds. This gave us the opportunity to try a wide variety of the foods that were offered at the fair.

We had some deep fried cheese curds. They were very good, although Mel told me that at her Weight Watchers meeting last week they learned that just three of the cheese curds would be 11 Weight Watchers Points.

I also tried the hot dish on a stick. It was alright, but not my favorite of the foods I had at the fair.

We all had some mini doughnuts. Emma really liked them.

Mel and I also had some pepperoni pizza on a stick. It was pretty tasty as well.

It seemed that everywhere we turned at the fair, there was some other food being offered on a stick. One other food that was not on a stick that we felt we had to try was Sweet Martha's Cookies. We had heard from multiple sources that the chocolate chip cookies there were absolutely wonderful, so we had to check them out for ourselves. We ended up buying the tub of cookies. Now they fill this cookie tub significantly past its top, so it was good that Mel thought to bring along a Ziploc bag in which to put the overflow cookies so we could close the lid on the tub. I suppose we could have eaten the pile of fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies down to the top of the tub, but that probably would have been a bad idea. I think it is better that we savor the cookies over the next several days, if not longer.

Next year when Emma is a bit older, maybe we will have to take her on some of the rides, such as the giant slide. I guess we'll have to wait until next summer for that though.

2:37 A.M.

This morning at around 2:35, I heard Emma making noises in her room. So I got up to check on her. As I was walking through the living room to her room, I heard the text message notification sound from my cell phone which was sitting on the desk in the office. I went to check the text message to learn that Joe Biden is Barack Obama's vice presidential running mate. I was expecting the text message to come some time today, but definitely not at 2:37 in the morning!


Welcome to Minneapolis/St. Paul

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has erected a billboard in Minneapolis to welcome visitors to the Republican National Convention here in Minneapolis/St. Paul with the phrase "Welcome, rich white oligarchs!" When I received the email informing me of this, I first thought it surely must just be a joke, and that someone photoshopped this. I may have to see if I can actually find the billboard. According to my sources, it
is supposed to be located near Interstate 494 and Highway 77. I'll be sure to look for it the next time I am in that area.

Mall Walking

Mel's engagement ring was due for its regular cleaning, so after she got Emma from daycare today, the three of us headed over to the Mall of America. After getting the ring checked out, we had dinner and walked around the mall a bit. We didn't buy much--just some air fresheners from Yankee Candle Company, and some greeting cards from The Afternoon. However, it did give us a chance to do some walking. Since I have begun to work from home, I do not get nearly as much walking in each day as I did when I worked in the office. Tomorrow though, I should be able to get a considerable amount of walking in as we are currently planning on going to the Minnesota State Fair. Of course, that could change depending on how Emma is feeling and behaving tomorrow.

More Fun Videos

Ok, maybe I shouldn't spend my lunch break viewing videos on the web, but here are a couple more I found today.

This first one is The Muppet Show's Beaker performing Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

The other video is titled "Where in Iowa is Jeff?" It shows a man, named Jeff, dancing in various locations in Iowa. I first saw this video on the blog Law & Disorder.

Cute Video

Check out this cute video of a kid dancing to techno music.

Recap of the Past Week

Last Saturday morning, Mel, Emma, and I headed back to Iowa for the weekend. Saturday was my grandmother's eighty-ninth birthday, so we went to her house for dinner to celebrate. Also at her house were my cousin and his wife who live about an hour or so away from us. I find it a bit ironic that we have to drive several hours to Keystone, Iowa, to see family that lives relatively close to us. Maybe we can get together sometime up here in the cities. As I expected, I ate way too much at my grandmother's house.

We spent the evening at my mother's house along with my sister. Then on Sunday, we stopped at Mel's grandmother's house which was on our way home from Waterloo, where my mother lives. We spent a few hours there. We had brought KFC chicken and biscuits with us, so once again I ate a bit too much. However, when I checked my weight for my weekly weigh-in on Wednesday, I had actually lost 0.6 pound since the previous Wednesday.

With my weight hovering around 205 pounds for the past several months, I decided I am going to change my goal with Weight Watchers to maintain this current weight rather than trying to lose any additional weight. I think it would be nice to get my weight down to 195 pounds, but I do not feel unhealthy at my current weight, and my clothes fit, for the most part.

Not much else eventful happened this week. Well, I guess I could mention the hour or so I spent at a Verizon location to get my cell phone replaced as it had broken last weekend. Fortunately, the Verizon employee replaced it under the phone's warranty. The outer plastic of the phone cracked by the hinge, causing the flip part to have difficulties staying closed. They could have said that the crack was because of misuse, but the rest of the phone looked good, so he considered to have just failed. So I now have a new, although identical to my previous one, cell phone. However, I did lose the ringtones I downloaded.


New Fish

Tonight we finally got some fish for the aquarium. I had only intended on starting out with two or three fish, but we ended up buying seven of them. We got three tiger barbs (Puntius tetrazona), an albino tiger barb which is shown in the photo on the right, a red-tail tinfoil barb (Barbonymus schwanenfeldii), and one more fish which is abbreviated on my receipt at lep. fasciatum (I don't remember its name). All seven of the fish seem to be adapting quite nicely to their new home. I just hope they don't decide to start eating each other, but the employee who helped us at PetSmart said that they should all get along just fine in the same aquarium.

Update: Thanks to some research by my brother-in-law, the unknown fish has been identified as a black-banded leporinus (Leporinus fasciatus).


Back to the Science Museum

Yesterday, Emma and I returned to the Science Museum of Minnesota to see the Star Wars exhibit. This time Mel was able to come along. It wasn't quite as crowded as it had been the previous Saturday, and Emma was in a better mood since it wasn't near her nap time. We had a good time checking out the exhibit again. There were not as many costumed characters walking around though this time. We saw Boba Fett (shown below) and a GNK power droid walking around.

Also at the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, we saw a model of the landspeeder from Star Wars that was used for far away shots. Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi kind of look like Ken dolls.

Below is a photo of me with the C-3PO costume from Revenge of the Sith.

And finally, here's a photo of the head of the Tusken Raider (aka Sand Person) costume.


A New Crib

Tonight Emma got a new crib. She has been without one since the beginning of July, before we moved to Minnesota. The crib she had, a Jaradine crib, was recalled due to the possibility of breakage of the wooden crib slats. I don't think it would have happened, but we decided we'd rather be safe than sorry. Once we got our belongings delivered to us at our new house, I had to dissemble the crib and send the hardware back to the company so they would send us a voucher with which could buy a new crib. Unfortunately the package with the hardware got misplaced by UPS, so after contacting the company again, we finally got the voucher. Once we got the voucher last week, we went to Babies 'R' Us and picked out a new crib, one by babi italia. However, the crib we wanted was not in stock, so finally had to order it. It came in today, and it is now assembled. Emma is now sleeping in her crib. Hopefully she has a good night's sleep.

I'm Batman. No, I'm Batman.

CNN is reporting that both Barack Obama and John McCain like, and want to be, Batman. It's really good to know that the two agree on something. At least Hillary Clinton hasn't seemed to weigh in on this issue. I suppose she would have to be Batgirl, or maybe Wonder Woman, but neither of them wear pantsuits.


Taking the Test

I took an hour away from work today to drive to the driver's license center in Hastings so I could take the test to get my Minnesota driver's license. My original plan was to study the drivers' manual completely before taking the knowledge test, but I decided that I would give it a shot before finishing the book. It wasn't as if I couldn't take the test again if I failed. I admit, when I missed my sixth question out of forty, I was getting nervous, but I managed to pass the test. Now I just have to wait about six weeks for my new Minnesota driver's license to arrive in the mail.


Star Wars at the Science Museum

On Saturday, Emma and I went to the Science Museum of Minnesota to see the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit. Mel would have come along, but her brother was in town and asked if we could watch their kids for the afternoon and overnight. The younger of their two children, who is five months old, stayed at our house with Mel, and my other nephew, who is two, came along with us to the museum. At the museum we met up with my mother, my sister, and another friend of ours.

I enjoyed the Star Wars exhibit, and there were a lot of interactive activities to do. Unfortunately, since I was with a one-year-old and a two-year-old, it was hard to do many of the activities. Also it was very busy at the museum and that made it even harder to try everything out. Nevertheless, there were a lot of neat things to look at, including many models and costumes used in the various Star Wars movies.
The following are a couple of photos from the exhibit. The first photo shows Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder from A New Hope.

And this photo shows Emma and me with a stormtrooper. I tried to get my nephew’s photo with a stormtrooper as well, but he seemed to be scared of them.


Restocking the Aquarium

I have had a fish aquarium for the past several years. When we listed our house in Cedar Rapids for sale though, we got rid of the fish. With the aquarium in the living room, the room just seemed too crowded. Now that we are settled into our new house in Minnesota, I decided it was time to get the aquarium going again.

Several months ago, the pump that came with the aquarium broke and our local pet store didn't have a replacement, so I replaced it with a different pump. The replacement pump worked, but it didn't fit in the aquarium well and it made cleaning it more difficult. So earlier this week, I looked online and found the parts that I needed to put a pump like the original one in the aquarium. The parts arrived today and I was looking forward to getting the aquarium set up tonight so I could get some fish in a few days. However, I just discovered that the company I ordered the parts from sent the wrong pump. It looks like they sent the pump for an Eclipse 6 system when I have an Eclipse 2. There is no way this pump will work. I will call them up tomorrow to speak with them about sending the pump back and getting the correct one. Hopefully it can arrive soon as I would like to have some fish in my office to keep me company during the day when I am working.