Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ad music that drills a hole in my brain

The winter holidays are great - good times with family, excellent food, presents and whatnot - but the sooner they are over the sooner I will be free from hearing this ad on TV and wanting to drive my Pilot into a lake in protest.

I know the ad men threw this song in there because it's catchy and light and emblematic of all the bright and happy lives that Honda owners lead but for me it happens to be the type of late 2000s alt-folk-hipster rock (?) that I couldn't stand the first time my friend's friend played the entire Vampire Weekend CD on a never-ending loop during a couple of days at my friend's family riverhouse.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 2010 - A Time for Adam and "Punkin"s!

(pumpkins)...November begins with the throwing out of Halloween jack-o-lanterns and most often ends with Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

November was a really full month, from having our good friend Steven stay and visit with us on his way to a New Orleans software developer conference to a nice, breezy day at the zoo and ending it all with a bunch of Chow-side family over at our house for the Thanksgiving break. Lots of time for Adam to play with his cousins and various aunts and uncles, lots of time for the elders to play Mahjong well into the late hours.

One day you're carrying your son everywhere he needs and the next you're wondering how he got so tall and so fast on his feet!


Happiness is a well-stocked toolbench.


Steven: Bringer of Smiles.

2010-10-31 018

Steven and Adam appreciate each other's version of "The Aristocrats"


Contest winner!


All the cool Jedis wear white.


Superblanket Boy


Adam hangs out with new cousin Evelyn.


Showing the old folks how Mahjong is played


Adam and Audrey laughing it up at gymnastics


Photographed shortly before his gold-medal triple backflip dismount

Time to make-a the joose

The kids are crazy with the running and the yelling.

Adam helps Dad with his shoes


Mommy and Adam checking out the fishes.

Adam chats up some antelope (or xebu? can't remember)


Zoo time is good time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Halloween 2010 Adam - October

Nearing the 1 1/2 year mark, Adam's continuing to branch out his personality. Whether getting funky to his toy music or excitedly grabbing a book and plopping down on Mommy or Daddy's lap to point out the animals and shapes, he's staying active on a constant basis. Mommy and Daddy having a great time too!

Technically Adam's second Halloween this year but this time around he was no mere candy-distributor, he took his costume on the go and made the rounds on our street to collect some various forms of sugar to be eaten by Mom and Dad later.



2010-10-31 003

Ready to Hit the Streets for Some Serious Trick-or-Treatin'

2010-10-31 006

Meet and Greet with the local Halloweeners

2010-10-31 008

Bravely Facing the Lurking Doorway Spider

Halloween Bee Dance!


The Cleaning-Up Smile


Breakfast with Beard-Style Dad

Making Paw Paw & Gung Gung proud: Drinking Soup the Chinese Way

Readin' with Dad

Saturday, October 30, 2010

AT&T's lack of shame

I'm known relatively far and wide for being a grammar snob; am I crazy to keep up this vendetta? Should I just lighten up?

Happened to have the World Series game three on TV tonight and in passing noticed that the in-game AT&T World Series Trivia infographic read, from what i can remember, pretty much as follows:

"What was the last year in which the American League team won it's first home game of the World Series?"

AT&T is a major company with presumably a large marketing staff. Nobody along the chain, from the junior staff who researched and wrote it to the marketing manager who approved it to the tech guy that programmed it as an on-screen graphic, noticed or cared that they should have used "its" instead of "it's"?

You might say, "I'll bet you none of the viewers who read that sentence noticed or cared either", and I'd say that's part of the problem too.

Proper grammar and word usage, on their own, aren't really a significant issue; what's more important is that "it's" instead of "its" captures a downward trend in the state of professionalism. At one point in time, corporations' marketing arms were judged on both the effectiveness and the polish of their messages; if that goes, what can the rest of society and culture do but start sliding away as well?

Maybe "it's" and "its" don't bug you that much; how about if the trivia read "During the last half of the Rangers' season, how many of they're games went to extra innings?". Where's the tipping point? Do you think anyone in the AT&T brass saw to it that someone was fired or at least verbally ripped up for the written gaffe that millions of baseball fans saw splashed alongside the AT&T logo?

The muddled but sporadically depressing and brilliant movie Idiocracy has several scenes of a radically dumbed-down future in which slack-jawed people endlessly gape at mindless TV dreck and communicate basically in monosyllabic grunts. There are a couple of steps between a few proofreading errors and that reality, of course, but it does all start somewhere..

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back in my day... / Gimme now!

Could just be the thirtysomething in me talking, but I was listening to Adam Carolla's podcast today and in the course of conversation he made a remark about the intersection of youth and modern technology that I instinctively agreed with:

(not a direct quote but close enough)

" You feel a little bit sad for our kids growing up now, that they'll be able to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas in August, and that they won't give a shit about it"

It's really true; there's a certain balance between escaping the needless inefficiencies of the past and the ever-increasing accessibility of the present and near-future and in the end I'm not really sure what is ultimately better.

Back in the 80s and 90s when I did most of my growing up in a world devoid of recording technology there was an air of excitement when CBS rolled out the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. You saw the commercial announcement sometime earlier in the week and mentally marked your Transformers calendar, making sure to speed through dinner on the day of the show in time to plant yourself in front of the TV on time so as not to miss a minute. All bathroom breaks had to be handled during the allotted commercial time; any moment you missed being absent from the TV room would be one you'd have to wait another year to see.

During the golden years of the Simpsons my appointment in front of the TV on Sunday nights at 7 pm was pretty much non-negotiable.

Same thing in the water-cooler Seinfeld era, one of the more prominent last signifiers of the "collective media experience"; if you missed out on the popular show of the moment, you forfeited opportunities to enjoy it the next day a second time in discussion with your friends / coworkers.

Sure, it was all incredibly inconvenient when you look at it from afar - adhering to Entertainment's schedule instead of Entertainment bending to fit your life. However, the introduction of DVRs, iPods (from which I admittedly do enjoy tremendous utility on a daily basis) and all have removed the concept of delayed gratification from the entertainment equation and weakened the sentimentality and sense of occasion one can feel toward a particular experience.

Not going to be home to catch 30 Rock? Just set your Tivo to record it. Forgot to do that ? Just go watch it on Hulu....I suppose this could be a slight caveat as I think Hulu posts new shows a day or two after the original air date, but still a world away from "oh well , see you next year Charlie Brown".

Anything is in reach at any time, which is great to the extent of not being robbed of the chance to enjoy something meaningful/humorous/special but at the same time strips any media from truly belonging to a time or season, a moment in which you feel a bond however slight with a particular community.

Accessibility is a wonderful thing, no mistake - as one example I know that I'm more educated and enriched from many more possible sources than I could have known ten years ago, as a result of new technology's subservience to my go-go lifestyle: I load up my iPod with podcasts and listen on the way to, from, and at work about business and money matters from NPR's Planet Money team, general how-to (from the How Stuff Works guys), and get entertained by the likes of the aforementioned Adam Carolla, Kevin Smith , and others.

So having what I want when I want it or when I can access it has its share of good too, but I realize both its worth and its drawbacks based on my having grown up in a world of relative "without". My son and everyone else in his generation will grow up in an environment where on-demand media is the only existence they will know; telling Adam about my days in footy pajamas waiting eagerly in front of the (analog) television, getting a palpable charge of excitement (then, and even now the tremors swell from deep within my memory banks) from the sights and sounds of the announcing lead-in....

....will be a completely alien concept to him. How do you now effectively explain and instill that value of how having to wait for something, despite its short-term downside, heightens the overall mood of a moment and in the end typically makes for a greater overall experience?

In the end I'm sure this will just be my turn at the "in my day things were better because...", same as how LP records are better than CDs (another innovation of my day that will be an extinct relic before too long), Carson is the funniest late-night host of all time, and so on. I guess my generation is no more exempt than any of the preceding that maybe, this time, what's unfolding in the new landscape is detrimental to the human experience.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

September Adam

Two major breakthroughs in verbage this month!

"Yes" the all-important counterpoint to the more easily-learned and frequent "No"; also replacing the previous whisper-level assertion of "ah!"


child of the age of hip consumer products and commercials: "ah-pah" (Ipod), having recognized our designation of the Shuffle used to play his nighttime music. He even helps unplug it from the charger and plug it into the speakers

The Piggyback Rides Have Begun

Cornering The Elusive Adam-ant

Bedtime Amusement

So Fresh, So Clean

Kids Holding Hands: Registers An 11 On The Cute Meter

Airplane Rides Engender High-Altitude Drool

Playing It Cool In Adam's New Seaworld Gear

Mommy and Adam Cheering on Dad...

...For Kick Saves and Such

Adam Helps Dad With the Anniversary Celebration

Giant Ball!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How cheap can you buy goodwill?

The other day I was at a gas station filling up the car and took notice of a prominent advertisement over the pump announcing this particular gas marketer's participation in the Upromise program, wherein the company makes contributions to a college fund as the subscribing customer uses their products.

In the case of gasoline, the company in question will pledge $0.01 for every gallon of gasoline that you buy.

Now, I happen to know from prior education that profit margins on gasoline are razor-thin and it also seems a bit ungrateful to turn my nose up at someone offering 'free money', but the economics of saving a remotely substantial amount for college in this manner is pretty laughable.

Let's say the average person in the average major metropolis (like say, sprawling Houston) refills their 15 gallon tank once a week through normal driving. Through Upromise that level of consumption would result in:

$0.15 per week x 52 weeks per year = $7.80 per year

So if you enrolled in Upromise on the day your child was born, by the time he or she was getting ready to tour college campuses you'd have a staggering $140.40 socked away to help defray the costs of higher education (and that's also if you made sure to seek out the participating company's service stations each and every time the fuel gauge needle was overlapping the E).

Never mind eighteen years of inflation - even in today's dollars that might not buy a single textbook. (Maybe if both parents Upromised you'd get that cost-free copy of Intro to Psychology)

Granted, if a million people took advantage of the offer Gasoline Company X would be out $140,000,000 in philanthropic donations over an eighteen-year-period but given how measly the savings are at an individual level I imagine that most people take a quick glance at the offer and say "eh, not worth my time to fill out the online registration. no thanks"

August - Late Summer Adam

The little guy has learned to mug for the camera ("cheese" face) and is crazy about being pushed around the house in his bike, fishtailing around tiled corners. His favorite song is currently "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and he loves playing with his cousin Audrey and hugging his new baby cousin Evelyn.

Enough chitchat, let's get to the pics and videos!

The August Closeup - Who's He Looking Like These Days?

Walking a Mile in Daddy's Shoes and Remotes

On the Move in Size 10 1/2s

Toothbrush Time with Mommy

Adam Gets Cozy With Louie On The Laundry Bus

The "eeeee" Part of Saying 'Cheese!'

All Smiles On The Weekend

Reading With Dad - A Sobczak Tradition

QB Practice

Adam Knows Self-Serve

Backyard Patio Splash & Bubble Time

Cross-Training For The Junior Pros

Grocery Sorting: Chore Duties Start Early In The Sobczak House

Saturday, August 21, 2010

July 2010: Summer of Adam

Our little guy has been getting increasingly more vocal ( to where the months start to blur as to what words and gestures are truly new ) and also steadily more mobile ( to the point where in keeping up with him most of our memory snapshots have been limited to our eye-cameras instead of the digital camera )

Still, though , we're diligently able to grab for the photo technology at the occasional brief pause in whirlwind activity so as to keep this monthly time-lapse blogography project rolling along nicely!

Standing Room Only on the Laundry Bus

Shameless Mugging

Tub Time: Awesome Since May 7th 2009

Have Bib, Will Drool

Adam's Mastered the Art of the Horseride

Wacky Bedtime Shenanigans

Taking it to the Hoop then Horsing Around

China Cabinet Handball

You're a Wizard, Adam.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Modern TV Journalism

i'm going on record here: it is not a good use of time, fuel, and other resources to employ a helicopter and camera crew to film Brett Favre traveling via SUV from an airfield to a training facility, or track the car bringing Lindsey Lohan to a court appearance, etc. just so the talking heads on TV can have a moving image over which to discuss the "news".

Unless the cars they are in are being pursued by dragons, you're wasting celluloid on the phenomenon of modern transportation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

June 2010: Adam A-Poppin

Summertime and the weather's getting hotter but that hasn't slowed Adam down one bit. Whether at the pool, checking out the butterflies at the Museum of Natural Science, or just hanging out with his mommy and his old man, the little guy has stayed pretty active and happy. Fortunately we captured the evidence of said happy activities on digital film and video.

Feeding a baby metabolism is hard work

Berry time is happy time

Who needs a $160 Big Wheel? We've got an empty laundry basket

The Hamper Slingshot - Must be Under 36" Tall To Ride

Dad shares his grown-up bowl of Fruity Cheerios

Potassium Recharge

Adam evaluates Gung Gung's animal sound mimicry skills

Above the Rim

Oven Mitt = baby nunchuks

This pair of pajamas was recovered from the 1972 Sears Groovy Babies collection

Burning Plastic on the Indoor Circuit

His name is Pegleg, and yep - we took him home

Babies are cool to travel through the Amazon, right?

Baby Laughter - Try Some Today!