Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Once in a Blue Moon you'll see a picture like this.

Happy Blue Moon!

(Nikon D60, 200mm Nikkor VR, f11, 125/sec, handheld!)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Fondue 6

The Best of Twelve Two Two Fondue VI

Kink Ponders

What is this "Christmas" of which you speak?


Dancing in their heads. Merry Christmas, Bill and Kink!


Have I been in the cheese dip? Uh, no, why do you ask?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ten Pack

It's December 20th.

In two days it will be Twelve Two Two and there will be Fondue. Watch this space for a live video feed of the festivities starting Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, have you had enough of the Ten Best lists yet? Not me! Those lists save time and are non-fattening. Great combination.

Here's a selection of stories from Twelve Two Two Fondue past. I call it a Ten Pack rather than a "top ten" or a "best of" because I just picked them myself.

Lightly Toasted

Social Dis-Ease

Pick Right

Crab Redux

The Giver

Casa Bonita


Lawnmower Man

Manchester 0, Dragonfly 1

Home Again

I hope you enjoyed them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Something Wonderful Happened

A team, a family, an experience.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ten Years Ago

I thought it would be fun to post our annual Christmas letter from 1999. Party like 1999, Garth! Also, we had a recent "Nobbs Sighting." Yes, the old boy is still kicking around the neighborhood.


It makes you wonder if something is wrong when the cat chooses to live on the streets rather than stay at home. Granted, the Farrell’s moved in June but only about a mile from the old place, certainly not justification for Nobbs the Cat abandoning pretty nice digs with a swimming pool and an endless supply of Cat Chow for a life of sleeping in doorways, eating out of trash bags and picking up aluminum cans for spare change. He hitches a ride home every so often for some fresh shrimp to eat and clean clothes to sleep on, then he saunters back to the mean streets of Sugar Land where he is king. Well, so long as he’s happy.

In fact, his is not unlike the kid’s lifestyle. They use home as a place to eat, sleep, make phone calls and catch a lift to the next of their never-ending activities. If the van could talk it would describe its year as a continuous, frenetic journey between soccer games and tournaments and referee clinics, basketball games, driving lessons, Boy Scout meetings, campouts and adventures, orchestra and band concerts, birthday parties, and emergency shopping trips to purchase school supplies on Sunday nights at 9 PM. Oh, yeah, and picking up Nobbs every week or so for a hot meal and a delousing. Life in the 90’s.

All journeys have their highlights and this year has been no exception. It got off to an exciting start with soccer goalie Helen breaking her wrist trying to defend against a hard kick. The score: wrist 0, soccer ball 1. Today, Helen’s wrist is as good as new, in fact, even better. Helen knew that when Nobbs broke his toe last year it had to be amputated, so, all in all, she’s feeling pretty good about how her wrist turned out. She now has the uncanny ability to predict changes in the weather, a handy skill to have here in south Texas, and she manages to get out of activities that require heavy lifting because of her “poorly wrist”, don’t you see. Nobbs can still climb trees to murder birds, so everybody’s happy.

Still in January, Bill ran his first marathon, yes, folks, that’s 26 point two miles, and to this day he’s more than a little irritated at whoever tacked on that two-tenths of a mile at the end because after passing the big 26 mile marker the finish line is way the heck down the street. It just doesn’t seem fair. On the bright side he gets to do it again in a few weeks. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since he was limping around the house on sore feet whimpering “Oh!”, “Ah!” and avoiding stairs. Houston Marathon, January 16th, 2000. He’ll be there.

Spring was a blur of soccer games and referee clinics. Helen, Sarah and Claire qualified as soccer referees and actually got paid for strutting around in nifty, black uniforms, waving flags, blowing whistles and generally looking officious. Claire also played on a team, as did Chris who complained about bad calls made by whistle-blowing, officious-looking referees. Soccer generally involved being three places at once with two vehicles, and occasional trips to San Antonio which introduced Claire to the art of map reading at night and caused Helen to “lose it” only a few times. Soccer was interrupted, briefly, for a skiing trip to Colorado to visit the Day’s in their splendid mountain home. Everybody returned intact and well-fed.

In June the Farrell’s moved to a spacious new house gaining a swimming pool, two extra rooms, an enormous kitchen, and losing, to some extent, one ungrateful cat. Summer was punctuated by a few short trips with people going in all directions: Sarah to Bartlesville, Chris and Bill to Scout camp, Claire to Las Vegas (doesn’t it just figure) leaving Helen with a magical week of being “home alone”. We won’t count Helen’s sojourns to Rio de Janeiro on “business”. The whole clan descended upon Phoenix for a few days in July to visit the senior Farrell’s who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in December followed shortly thereafter by Farrell Senior’s 80th birthday. A fine way to end the century by any account.

Life became less hectic as Sarah earned her driving license in September and was able to perform chauffeuring duties when Bill and Helen were stuck in traffic on the way home from work. She serves as a taxi for Nobbs, Chris and Claire. Nobbs seems the most grateful.

And, that, as they say, is that for 1999; end of the year and, as far as we’re concerned, end of the century. Claire (who else?) is in charge of the New Year’s Eve party. We’ll have champagne, set all the clocks in the house to go off at midnight, pick up Nobbs and feed him shrimp until he barfs on the carpet. It’ll be great! See you next century!

Born this day in Billings, Montana, to William and Maddie Farrell, young William Farrell (b1919-d2005), Architect, Army veteran, friend to many and my father. He would have been 90 today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just in Time

I wondered how I was going to occupy all my free time over the holidays.

Wonder no more!

Doodle Jump meets Santa.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shorter Shopping List

Found on the kitchen counter:

Shopping List

toilet paper

Well, that makes sense. Everything goes better with bacon!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Shorter Christmas Poem

"The Kat was on the mantle with care

in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there."

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Short Rave

About a million years ago I built a crystal radio. The parts were right out of the Flintstones: plywood, copper wire, cardboard tube, a semiconductor diode and a capacitor tuner which was the most 'elaborate' part of the setup. Once assembled I could pick up lots of static and faint AM radio stations. No batteries required.

Little did I know at the time but part of the static I heard was radiation remnant of the Big Bang itself. It would have been way cool to know that, but at the time it was just annoying. Now when I hear static I think it's way cool and I am One with the Universe.

Some years later I built a Heathkit Short Wave radio that operated on many bands in the short, medium and long waves. I scanned the airwaves for hours at a time listening to Morse code, foreign languages and static, none of which I understood in the faintest. I did wonder, however, how true those stories were of people who "learned to speak English" by listening to radio. I listened to a lot of Spanish and never learned anything other than "pendejo" is a term of affection.

The Heathkit Short Wave radio was a serious contraption, and considering I had no freaking idea what I was doing putting that thing together it's a wonder it worked at all. Granted, I could follow the instructions but I can only imagine how many cold solder joints I made or how many components I put in the wrong place. I remember having a bunch of parts left over which either were spares or I didn't install them. Who knows? The radio worked in spite of myself.

Fast forward a few years or decades (and this was a few years or decades before the present) and a friend of mine showed me the latest and greatest in portable short wave, all band radios. The Sony ICF-2001 was about the size of a modern laptop (which hadn't been invented yet) and was (gasp, be still my heart!) DIGITAL!

Yes, you could "punch in" a frequency and pull up a radio station exactly. No "twiddling" of dials or knobs. No messing around with side bands and all that other stuff that brought in more Big Bang static than Big Bopper music. Just tap-tap-tap and it was Pendejo City! I was so impressed I bought the company. Well, not exactly. I made a mental note to find one of those Bad Boy short wave radios and that's what I did.

That was the plan. What I didn't count on was Sony taking the technology both up and down a notch; more powerful and smaller. Enamored, never the less, I sprung the cash and scored the goods; the Sony ICF-2002. Running on four AA batteries the 2002 took me to Pendejo City any time I liked and also brought in AM and FM stations free of the Big Bang. I had a lot of fun with that radio and learned to swear in 39 languages.

All things come to an end, however, and for the ICF-2002 it was a bad set of batteries which leaked (twice) and corroded the circuit boards rendering the radio mostly useless. I say "mostly" because in its final days in 2008 it served as our only link to the Outside World in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike which knocked out power to our house for over six days. With the radio we could pick up AM, FM and TV audio broadcasts that told us how quickly, or not, the service companies were working to restore power to the area, the priorities and the predictions.

Much like my days centuries earlier with my crystal radio set, we huddled around the little Sony and dreamed of chocolate bars dropping from airplanes as the power siege lifted. I like Ike! Not.

So, after power was restored and we went about getting our lives back in order I spent a little time learning what Sony had done in the intervening years. Turns out not much and a whole lot. The ICF-7600 is a much-updated version of its ancestor and totally computer controlled. It didn't take me long reading phrases I had no idea of the meaning but sounded totally cool like "synchronous detector circuits" before my Shiny Object Gland took over and I was hammering Amazon like a starving monkey on a coconut.

In due time I retired the ICF-2002, conducted an autopsy to determine how far the battery damage actually went (extensive) and the new radio moved into the hood. Similar operation, similar size but this guy will live on a diet of lithium batteries, hopefully less prone to leaking and causing damage.

It was a good run of over 20 years for the ICF-2002. Who knows what the technology will be like in 2030!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Snow? Ha!

This was yesterday.

The weatherman called for "snow in the morning."

Snow? Ha!

This is today.

Snow! Not so ha.

When it snows in Houston we do crazy things. Like run around outside in t-shirts and sandals screaming, "It's snowing! It's snowing!"

We make snowballs the size of hummingbird eggs and pelt each other with them. We have to get very close because most of the snow-bird-egg-balls melt before reaching their target.

And take pictures of palm trees with snow on them because NOBODY'S EVER SEEN THAT BEFORE!

Check it out! Snow. On a palm tree!! Is that crazy or what?????

And it brings out the best in people who apparently have never seen snow!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hoarse, of Coarse

I woke up this morning a little hoarse this morning, pranced around, nibbled on some hay and farted a rainbow.

That is, I was dreaming I was a little horse but woke up with a big hoarse and a very colourful room.

(I heart rainbows!)

(I heart coffee more!)

Following my heart into the kitchen for a hot cup of Joe, I called Kink to give him a Morning Snax but instead of hearing myself say, "Hey, Kinkers, ya want a Snak-O?"

it came out more like this:

" y ers n Ssss O ? "

Although I was thinking real loud, I was squeaking like an old hinge on a rusty gate being swung by a quartet of bullfrogs. I tried a chorus of Sweet Adeline in one-part harmony to no effect.

Kink was still in the other room oblivious to my condition. I decided to write him a note only to find the pen was out of ink.

Great Caesar's Ghost! My hoarseness had affected my literacy! I could read but I couldn't write. I was a half-literacy. That gave me more pause for thought. Half-literacy. Which half was I, lite or racy? Based on the last time I weighed myself I certainly wasn't "lite" which meant I was "racy."

It all made perfect horse sense. I was a racy hoarse.

If you're confused then think for a moment about me going through this before having a single cup of coffee.

Coffee! That might cure my racy hoarseness.

Alas, that was not the case. After cup three I was hot to trot, champing at the bit and I think I had become a Colts fan.

It didn't get any better throughout the day. Why is it when you're having a little trouble with your voice that people ask you one inane question after another?

Oh, your voice sounds terrible! Does it hurt? I said, DOES IT HURT? Alright, don't say anything, be that way!

(Memo to self: find a way to tell people that your voice is broken, not your ears.)

Have you tried gargling with (salt water, vodka, oatmeal, cod liver oil, hot tea, grape jelly ... )

I had the SAME thing and I couldn't talk for 12 years.

Nod your head for 'yes.' Do you want tuna or turkey?

So, at the end of the day after all that advice and heartfelt concern I sit here with Dr. Google and here's what he has to say:

"The best remedy for hoarseness is to not talk."

Now, why didn't I think of that?