All I Got For Christmas

All I Got For Christmas
Originally uploaded by rynosoft
  • Rock Band 2
  • Home-made tree ornament
  • Airport Extreme wireless base station
  • Craig Ferguson’s book (fiction)
  • Dead Space for XBox 360
  • Dry rub
  • Christmas Around the World (CD)
  • Cash (an old favorite)

In three words – best toys and gifts for boys!

Click the photo to see the notes.

Update 12/30/08: Today I received Richard Thompson’s Across A Crowded Room and a cool Woot t-shirt. Also, I forgot to mention two pairs of loose-cuff sweatpants I got on Christmas.

I’m using up my time by feeling fine, every day

I think I failed to mention that Tina bought an Xbox 360 for me a few weeks ago from a good friend of ours who had recently upgraded to a better model. This particular unit had already suffered the Red Ring of Death but had been repaired by Microsoft for free right before we took ownership. Our main motivation to getting an Xbox is to have a console on which we can play Rock Band, a game that takes the concept of Guitar Hero one step further. Although it will be coming out for the Wii in a couple of months, it will not support downloading new songs which is one of the great Rock Band features. I’m also planning on buying Guitar Hero II for it because it has some great songs on it and we’ll need the extra guitar for Rock Band.

Unfortunately, after using it for just a couple of days, the boys turned it on and it had the Red Ring of Death again. We tried to have it serviced by Microsoft ourselves, but the serial number is already registered to our friend so he had to apply for the repair. The good news is that he has already received the box for shipping and all we have to do is pick it up sometime.

We have been trying for several years to get Graham to embrace the idea of bike riding, but every time he crashes, he swears it off forever. The last time he tried it, he swerved off the sidewalk and knocked over our mailbox. I don’t think he would hurt himself during these falls as much as he would be frustrated that he wasn’t very good at it. We’ve been trying to “sell” him on the idea for a long time but it really became a sore point with him. Finally, last night Tina convinced him to try again and he finally “got it.” He fell down numerous times, usually when he was turning, but each time he got up and went again. When it started to get dark and was near his bedtime, we practically had to drag him into the house. The first thing he asked me this morning was whether he could ride some more tonight. I think he only needs a little practice before we switch him from the little 20″ BMX he’s riding now to Thomas’ 24″ mountain bike. Thomas has taken possession of Tina’s old 26″ mountain bike and we need to find a new bike for Tina soon.

Graham’s “conversion” came none too soon because we have several bike rides planned with Thomas’ Boy Scout troop this year. Next weekend we’re taking a short 10 mile ride in the Gorge and then a few weeks later we’ll be riding 14 miles out to Oxbow Park. This summer we’re going on a 4-day, 80 mile bike ride in Idaho. We’ll really looking forward to all of them. I need to get back in bike shape!

Holiday Road: Day 4

Monday, December 24

Woke up to a beautiful Southern California morning and drove into an even more beautiful afternoon in Scottsdale, AZ. When we arrived at Tina’s sister, Michelle’s house, Grandpa Tom fell into the pool while playing ball with cousin Xander, but luckily the had the best solar pool heater so the water wasn’t even cold. We spent the next several days with Michelle, her husband Ric and their boys, Xander and Wil. Thomas and Graham loved the time with their cousins and it was good to see Michelle, Ric, Tom and Jan again. We had a wonderful Christmas together and our boys experienced their first-ever Christmas morning gift opening. I got my dad a saw for Christmas. And he loves it. Here are some sliding mitre saw reviews in case you want to buy your dad or yourself one.

Jan and Tom left after a couple of days so that we parents could have a wild night of wine, music and debauchery. We also reveled in the High Definition TV and Uncle Ric gave an impressive demonstration of their excellent home theater system.

Holiday Road: Day 3

Sunday, December 23

When I emerged from the bathroom after my shower wearing shorts, Tina asked why I was so under-dressed for the weather. I exclaimed, “I’m going to Southern California today!”.

After I navigated out of the East Bay to Interstate 5, Tina took over and drove most of the way through the California Central Valley. We had a late lunch at In-n-Out Burger, home to some of the finest fast food in the country. When I asked a young man who was waiting for a seat if he would like mine, he replied, “That would be bitchin’!”

A few hours later we arrived at my sister, Maridee’s house in Moreno Valley, CA. My mother had arrived a few days earlier and my brother-in-law, Steve had spent the afternoon deep frying a couple of turkeys for a pre-Christmas family feast. The boys opened more Christmas presents and then we retired to the Fox RV for a restful night’s sleep.

Holiday Road: Day 2

Saturday, December 22

Left Medford and drove to Aunt Carol and Uncle Ralph’s house in Lafayette, CA. Carol made delicious vegetarian chili and we were joined by Cousins David and Danielle. After dinner, we took the dogs for a walk on a local multi-use path and saw some cool Christmas lights. After talking books vacuum cleaner for pet reviews for a bit, I traded my copy of The Professor and the Madman for Ralph’s copy of My Name Is Red. Before bed we all exchanged gifts and Carol gave everyone a CD for the road.

Stuff I Got for my Birthday

  • online gift certificate from the Powells (my perennially favorite gift but not this year), which I used to purchase:
    • A Different Kind Of Christmas : Various Artists (CD, 1994)
    • Sun Also Rises : Ernest Hemingway (Paperback, 1982)
    • Dune Messiah : Frank Herbert (Paperback, 1994)
    • The Areas of My Expertise : John Hodgman (Paperback, 2006)
    • Salem’s Lot : Stephen King (Paperback, 1976)
    • Quest for the Well of Souls : Jack L. Chalker (Paperback, 1995)
    • The Mix-Up : Beastie Boys (The) (CD)
  • Regal Cinemas gift card from the Bartons
  • Cash from Uncle Buddy (second favorite gift every year except this year)
  • Guitar Hero 3 for the Wii from Tina and the boys (second favorite all-time gift)
  • A killer party mostly organized and thrown by my lovely wife

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1544
Weight lost: 50 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 6
Hours billed last week: 45.5
Aches & pains: sciatic, ankle (slightly yesterday)
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Recent listening: Playlists for Iowa
Recent viewing: Countdown, Gilmore Girls, The Newshour, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show
Recent playing: Pangea Arcade
Recently accomplished: Fixed boomtube, new litter for cat boxes, trimmed and mowed front lawn, cleared Tivo schedule for vacation, pulled blackberries, packing, confirmed and finalized travel plans, tried to fix Thomas’ computer, burned numerous gift CDs, paid bills, recorded movie for Mindy
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, sift through inbox, post office, call Colleen/Kurt, bank deposit, fix Thomas’ computer, drop bike off at Bike Gallery

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1094
Weight lost: 62 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 8
Hours billed last week: 46
Current reading: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, CSS Web Design for Dummies by Richard Mansfield
Recent listening: Coverville
Recent viewing: NBA Conference Semifinals, Spiderman 3, CSI: Miami, Frontline
Recent playing: Virus 2
Recently accomplished: Mowed, edged and trimmed lawn, chopped down weeds, Mother’s Day planning with boys, erected gorilla rack in garage and did some organization
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, backup Thomas, backup Graham, backup Tina, renew BTA membership, sift through inbox