Archive for December, 2010

For Old Lang Zyne

As many of you prepare to ring in the New Year tonight, I can’t help but reflect back on some of the more memorable NYE celebrations I vaguely recollect attending.

There was that time in high school when I came down with the Taiwanese Flu for the entire winter break and I ended up watching the Beastie Boys perform live on MTV at midnight.

Then one time in college, a bunch of us planned a ski trip to South Lake Tahoe and we ended up at the casinos on New Year’s Eve.  Vehicular traffic was prohibited on Highway 50 at Stateline so the road between Harvey’s and Harrah’s was awash with a sea of parka-adorned, mitten-clad, half-drunken revelers eagerly awaiting the stroke of midnight.  Having had a decent evening playing blackjack, I still vividly recall the sleepless night I spent crashed on the floor of one of those motels on the strip with about ten people I hardly knew all the while worried that someone was going to roll me for the lousy C-note I won at the tables earlier that night.

And then there was the year I hung out with friends in a rented beach house in Santa Cruz.  It was that very evening when two of my co-workers bet me sixty bucks that I wouldn’t grow a goatee.  I grew it out and there it stayed — in one form or another — for at least half a decade.

I could never forget the time my band — the world renowned Bay Area Band — played our friends John and Traci’s wedding in downtown San Francisco.  There can be no excuse to forget your anniversary if it happens to fall on December 31st.

One year my friend and I went to see a Grateful Dead show at the Oakland Coliseum.  I couldn’t believe they opened with Hell in a Bucket and closed the show with Sugar Magnolia, before encoring with Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.  Ah man, who am I kidding?  It was a Dead show!  I’m surprised that I even remember going to the concert.

And then there was that time in the hazy crazy daze of my youth when a group of us wanted to be high rollers for New Year’s Eve and get a room at The St Francis Hotel.  Well, one person in our crew got a little too rowdy a little too early and we were shown the streets by hotel security before the sun went down.  We ended up part of the teeming masses crammed into Union Square at midnight.

As far as memorable NYE experiences go, nothing compares to the year Fehmeen and I spent the holiday at Disneyland.  The future Mrs Picetti was sicker than a dog but that didn’t prevent her from enjoying the Magic Kingdom with every ounce of her being.  She was annoyed that every single doll in It’s a Small World was singing American Christmas carols that I thought they were going to permanently ban us from ever floating through the ride again.  Besides feasting on our weight in yummy churros that night, I will never forget spinning round and round the Teacups with my beautiful girlfriend until midnight and watching the fireworks light up the Southern California sky.  I never wanted that ride to end.

So, Happy New Year’s to you all.  Maybe Fehmeen will let me have a syringe-full of champagne down the tube ’roundabout midnight — most likely Eastern time.  Cheers


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According to Hoyle

Originally I had planned to see the 1:15 showing of The King’s Speech for this week’s installment of Thursday Afternoon Movie Club but that premise was scrapped so Fehmeen could attend prior to her three o’clock appointment.

We settled on attending the 11:15 screening of How Do You Know.  Approximately forty-two minutes into the film, we decided that enduring another second of this cinematic disaster would have most likely resulted in somebody not in the TAM Club — somebody who was actually guffawing at the lame excuse of a script — getting hurt by one or more members of our typically happy-go-lucky party.

Juan, Fehmeen, and I arrived home from the show at roughly one o’clock.  About four bites into my Whole Foods mashed potatoes, Juan received an urgent phone call from his pregnant wife who explained to him that the new baby was on his way NOW!!!

The second time father-to-be got the hell out of Dodge to accompany his wife in the delivery room, leaving Fehmeen to feed me my lunch while Emma paraded down the hall in her cute little light-up, high-heeled shoes.

And it would have turned out very differently if we didn’t walk out of that terrible movie when we did.

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Mental Math Minute

Being a true blue numbers geek, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to keep the tip of my mechanical pencil on the proverbial scratch paper of life now that my career as a molder of young mathematical minds has been cut short by motor neuron disease.

I discovered such a diversion today.

You know how on weekday morning news programs they have that little graphic in the bottom right corner of the screen that shows the current, up-to-the-second value of the New York Stock Exchange and just above that five digit, two decimal point number is a positive or negative two digit two decimal point number which denotes the gains or losses of the market in real time as well as that aforementioned overall number?

Well, this morning I invented a little mental math game — no calculators or all-knowing computer programs allowed — where given the current total and daily value of the NYSE, you have to figure out the initial value of the exchange prior to the start of trading for the day.

For example, let’s say that the overall value is up 2.3 points to 17.4.  The question that needs to be answered is what was the value before it gained those 2.3 points?  Simple math will lead you to an answer of 15.1 as the initial number.

Pretty easy, right?

Well, considering that both sets of numbers get updated about once every three to four seconds on the screen and the digits themselves are a bit more complex than those given in the example, now you’ve got yourself a more challenging puzzle on your hands.

Before you cry uncle and curse my name for even bringing it up, why don’t you just give it a shot the next time you are watching the morning news and you notice that little NYSE bug in the corner.  You just may find that it’s not as difficult a mental math problem as it sounds here.

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Solving the Conundrum

Our daughter Emma talks a mean game.  “I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that” but sometimes, when it comes down to actually doing what she said she was going to do, the end result is vastly different than what she visualized herself doing in the first place.

Case in point:  The Santa Claus Conundrum.

Her first Christmas at eight months old she wanted absolutely nothing to do with the man in the red suit at the mall.  She cried so boisterously that even the quick photo of her on Mommy’s lap next to Santa was not worth the purchase price.

The older and wiser Emma of the next Christmas season found her filled to the brim with confidence and courage while waiting in line only to see that bravado dissipate into a mantra of “I don’t wanna” upon reaching the front of the queue.  Again, no photo.

This year, in her third Christmas, she had two opportunities to pose with the Big Guy.  Her first attempt was at school and she more or less just sorta stood in relative proximity to Mr Claus.  The photo was okay but not worth sharing here.

She did get over her case of the St Nick Yips when she took this picture one evening last week during a visit to the mall with Nana and Nani.

Good job, Emma.  Mommy and Daddy are proud of you.

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Even though the Grinch tried to steal Christmas from us this year — Emma had a mild case of pneumonia and I  was working through a phlegmy, hacky cough and cold — he was spectacularly unsuccessful in putting the kibosh on our holiday spirit.

We all had a good time — especially the little one — opening presents and celebrating the day with friends and family.

In the gift department, Emma did more than all right for herself.  Of the many presents she received — a talking dolly, a microphone, several books, and lots of trucks — she is most contented, happily occupied and otherwise engaged cutting up a piece of paper with her brand new scissors while hanging out in her little pink tent.

In the tent with Mommy

Channeling her inner rock star

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Holiday Cheer

‘Tis the season to share with you some of Emma’s latest triumphs exploits shenanigans.  Enjoy.

Emma took the lead in decorating our Christmas tree this year.  At first, Fehmeen and I thought we would just leave it as was but we quickly changed our minds when we noticed that one branch in particular was supporting no less than a dozen ornaments.  Fehmeen quietly redistributed the crowded and low-lying decorations to other less densely populated areas of the tree while the Bug was distracted by visions of sugar plums dancing in her hot chocolate.

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.  Mumble mumble mumble one horse open sleigh, HEY!!!”  Repeatedly sing this exact phrase without stopping for at least three or four minutes straight with the emphasis on the HEY and you too can feel what it’s like to be an adorable two point seventy-five year old around Christmas time.

Most evenings after dinner Emma and I find ourselves engaged in the fine art of conversation.  While sitting on our toilets.  Me on porcelain, Emma on plastic.  We laugh so much that Fehmeen always comes in to make sure that we are all right.  The family that drops deuces together, stays together.

This was the year that our daughter overcame her paralyzing fear of shopping mall Santas and sat on one’s lap.  Mommy and Daddy were not there — Nani and Nana took her — but we do have photographic proof of the landmark event.  I promise to post the picture on this site the day after Christmas when we get my new scanner up and running.

Two days ago, Emma asked Fehmeen to smell her hand.  Once she obliged her, Fehmeen wanted to know why.  Emma said, — and this is a direct quote — “It smells like my butt, Mommy.”  Apparently she got the idea to put her hand in her butt and have somebody take a sniff of it.  Stifling a laugh, Fehmeen told her that it was not funny.  Unfortunately my ALS symptoms prevent me from holding my poker face together when they recounted the story for me.  Sorry but I think that is pretty darn funny.

And no, I didn’t let her watch the stink palm scene in Mallrats.

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The Twelve Game

Staring at the illuminated digital numbers on my alarm clock, I had an interesting thought.

What if, instead of digits zero through nine, there were capital letters.

Not every letter would be available to use, however.  Only ones that could be legibly re-created on a standard nightstand digital alarm clock are eligible.  For example, an E would be acceptable while an N would not be.

Here is the list of letters that qualify:

A  C  E  F  H  I  J  L  O  P  S  U

Once I had squared away the upper case participants, my brain began making words out of those twelve letters.  I came up with a few:


Now I challenge you, my esteemed and literate readership, to find some more words and phrases using only the dozen letters listed above (as well as below).  Text-speak, slang, and all manner of creative spelling is acceptable to use for purposes of this friendly little competition.  Please post your answers as comments.

Good luck and happy spelling.

A  C  E  F  H  I  J  L  O  P  S  U

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