Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Night, and the living is...

Uneasy there, for a while: I pressed the blue Fn key on my keyboard, and then the F2 key, which has a blue antenna on it, thinking that this would give me some kind of display about my connection. What it actually did was disconnect my wireless connection, and it took multiple tries before it would connect again. A laptop without a wireless connection is not much fun.

The cupcakes are out of the oven. We'll see, in about ten minutes, how good this recipe is:

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen
Cupcakes can be made ahead and stored one day in the refrigerator or up to one week in the freezer.

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; mix batter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

2. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about one-third full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

And, OBTW, I am sitting in the blue chair -- the one with the footstool and high armrests. For the first time, I lifted my left arm under its own power, up to the armrest. It twinged, but I did it. (giggle)

Update: My daughter pronounced the cupcakes 'excellent'.


I wonder: does anyone else go back to what they've written several times after publishing, just to see if it still 'sounds right'?

All Booked Up

We just came back from the used bookstore, and, once again, we brought back more than I can comfortably read. They're light reading, no doubt about it, but I've been getting behind in reading -- I've had copies the The Economist magazine, and Fine Homebuilding, get lost under piles of things, and that never happens to me -- these are the magazines that I read to relax, to think about something other than, oh, the Appointment with the Oral Surgeon on Tuesday.

About which:
My wife is accompanying me to it so that I don't a) come across the desk at him when he lays whatever bad news he has planned, or b) break down in a paroxysm of self despair and anguish on the way home, which is, unfortunately, more likely than not. Do I know he has bad news? No. But we've already met once, and now he wants to meet again. I doubt this means good news, and I doubt its neutral. What does that leave? I'm betting that either/both will occur: it's going to cost significantly more than the significant cost he's already cited, or its going to take significantly longer than the 18 months I'm assuming it will take. Another possibility is that he'll say it just can't be done, though I think that's unlikely. So, I'm glad she will be there. Seems odd to say that I need support, at my age, but I do.

I just want to get off the dime on this one. Fish or cut bait.

So the Economist or FH are my drugs of choice, and when I've not had enough time for even them -- let alone, the two books I am reading -- why in the world would I pick up three more (light, I assure you), let alone some more magazines? I don't know, but I did. Hey, at least I got less than the kidling, who got eight. Actually, as I think of it, I do know why. It's the store. It's small (very small), crowded with books, and friendly. It feels like a neighborhod bookstore, the kind of place that ought to have crowds of people sipping coffee, listening to quiet classical music, and, most important, buying books. But they do -- there are rarely more than three or four other people in there, usually just us. Whenever we go, I just want to give money to them -- I would be unhappy if I found that they closed, even though we rarely go, and if giving them money out of the blue would help stave that off, I would. I like them.

I also picked up some arm weights to build up the muscle in my left arm. It looks weird because the only arm weights available were in five pound units, and I can't lift five pounds with that hand (not for a sustained period, anyway), so what they suggested was ankle weights, which are heavier overall (ten pounds) but come in one pound increments. (Wonder if we'll ever had selectable weights via a gravity device?) So I wore one today with two pounds in it. I looked like a suicide bomber or the Six Million Dollar Man, but it works -- I can tell the difference when I take the weight off. Since I may be looking at less formal rehabilitation in the near future, this seemed a good thing.

I think I want to bake cupcakes this afternoon (even there, I'm going to slack off: I might use pre-mixed chocolate cake mix (oh, the horror!)), but right now, I think I want to -- take a nap.


Frank Caliendo is a funny guy.


I'm sitting here on the Group W, wait, thats something else entirely. I'm sitting here listening to the Tommy Emmanuel CD that I got a bit ago, and enjoying it greatly. Right now, it's 'Blackbird', played with a whimsical, tentative air. I think there's only one piece on the CD that I actively don't like -- sort of his equivalent of what the local symphony's conductor was referring to when he said 'And now, the words that strike fear into an audience's heart -- an original piece by....' This is his original piece, and its a small price to pay. Do wish I could auto-skip it, though. I remember when CDs were first becoming popular, and one article mentioned that you could 'code' the CD to skip pieces, play in different order than whats on the CD, repeat pieces, and so forth. Never have seen that. Perhaps it was hyperbole.

Speaking of hyperbole: the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, to which I've alluded earlier. My wife and I talked about it a little this morning, while the offspring was downstairs improving herself by absorbing the best of Saturday morning television. My feeling is that I want her to take the tests (turns out the second is an actual test, not some flimflam they made up) knowing that they will be hard, and that while she is bright and may do well, she may also have trouble with some of it -- and thats okay. I don't want her to be afraid of it (as I am apparently afraid of it). I do NOT want her to become in any way a 'brain' or a 'grind' --excuse me, Instructor, but I believe that what you're referring to actually occurred in the latter years of the Pelopennesian Wars, and not, as you suggested, in the Great Mudville Riots of Ought Two. I don't think she will, but I really don't want that, anyway. Yet at the same time I want her to know that she is smart, and that she can stretch and reach and get things that might seem beyond her. I've told her that I did not do well in high school (thats putting it kindly; I did abysmally poorly), mostly because I did not realize that being smart did not mean that I would not have to work for things. Instead, I assumed that if I was smart -- and I knew that I was -- then that simply meant that I would 'get' things at a higher level, but if it didn't come to me right off the bat, then I could never get it. I didn't realize that almost everyone has to work, and I surely did not realize the thrill and delight of achieving something I'd thought impossible. I want her to have that -- to be a smart kid; one thats smart, and one thats a kid.

So we'll do it... warily.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Weak End

I occasionally mention how pleasant it is to be able to 'go to work' by walking across the hall to the PC. Therefore, I should not care all that much that I have to do it this weekend. My commute time will be fifteen seconds; I'll be in my pajamas; I can leaf through magazines while on the phone. Perhaps it's the time of going to work: Midnight, Saturday. For at least two hours.

I am going to be wasted on Sunday.

Incidentally, I've made a small change to the material over to the left -- there is now a link directly to email, just in case you wanted to send me an email but didn't want it to be a public response to a post. Its just below the time/temperature gizmo.

Also, I had mentioned that my daughter was offered the chance to be an an 'advanced' program, as a result of some standardized tests. This is the site for the people that are offering the program. I believe that the 'talent search' is what she was offered. I'm pleased by the concept,of course... but a little queasy about the idea that they're offering to give my child a test, for which we'll pay an unspecified fee, and then they'll possibly recognize her if she does well on it. I don't think it's a scam, but I do wonder about its value. What's the point?

Friday Mid

Just back from therapy, and lunch. Still improving - my horizontal angle is up to a tad past 90 degrees, and my side reach also increased. Its all due to increasing muscle in that arm. I also got a new test -- grip strength -- but that didn't reveal any problems, as my grip is almost as strong in my left hand as my right (I'm right-handed). On the downside, I found that the therapy payments run out at the end of next week. After that, if I want to continue, I have to pay for it myself.

I admit to a feeling of irritation about that --how dare they cut me off? -- and then I got a grip, thinking about it. Wasn't it me who said too many people take 'insurance' as 'money that I have a right to'? Let alone the question of being able to afford to pay for it myself -- I can, though not at the frequency, let alone the rate, that the insurance company does.

So I'll continue going -- though I warned them that if I have to pay for it myself, I'll be a more demanding customer -- and likely be there longer each time, too.

Hey, Teach !

I've occasionally wanted to be a teacher. Okay, I've also wanted to be a professional photographer, a software designer, and the Pope, none of which seem to be playing out all that well. But this interesting page suggests that I'd better give up on the teacher part, because there's no way I'm qualified.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Apparently, Schenectady, New York, is a very safe place.

Must be, if the police there have the time to act like this .

Is it a biased article? Probably. So much so that we should ignore it? I don't think so.

Dinner Out

After the last couple of days, we thought that we deserved a dinner out. My choice would be a quiet restaurant with fine linen tableclothes, and all that, but as we live in a burg, and the choices are much fewer, we're going to: Hooters. Mostly out of curiousity. I don't expect it to be a den of iniquity (not that I'd know what to do in such a place), and I don't expect the food to be all that great, even by my standards. Its just someplace to go on a rainy Thursday night.

Work's been busy. I've been putting in about ten hours a week more than normal. I don't like being that busy, but you know what? It's got advantages. I'm doing a system build for the very first time. Not particularly high density technical, but not bad. In fact, its fun.

Got a letter from the people who do testing for the school district. The reason our daughter was offered the chance to attend the special program is that she scored in the highest level in both reading and math. Apparently, thats not too common. Neat.


Breasts have been on my mind lately, as I've mentioned, so it seems like a decent time to say that I've seen a couple of sites that try to de-sensationalize the idea of seeing bare breasts in public. Sometimes they're effective, and sometimes not.

Here's one.

Hear the Drums?

I found the original of this in multiple places, but this is the first I found with a response. Some of the observations or responses are silly or narrowminded; some make a good point. To me, the tenor of muhc of it means that the drumbeat is starting - of I have a good point or a good response, I post it, if not, I josh, jeer, or change the subject.

A variant, incidentally, can be found here.

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion. Not entirely accurate. Saddam was always bad; some folks are more willing than others to work with "bad" is the issue.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony. You're just mad because Cuba has good cigars. But you've got me with this one, I can't figure it out (unless there is nothing of value to the Federal Gov't in Cuba)

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq. Not accurate. We wanted the UN to enforce its own sanctions. When they would not, we used it as a reason to move forward with eradicating what we then thought were Saddam's WMD.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation. Give it a rest with the "woman can't be trusted..." clap trap: Everyone with half a brain knows a woman's right to swing her arm stops where that baby's nose begins.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay. Well, since it's Bush making the speeches but Clinton who slashed all the benefits, funding, budgets, and pay of the Military, I'm not exactly sure where you get this one

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex. Typical misdirection from the left. Conservatives want the kids getting their sex education and materials from their families...NOT from some sterile educator

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money. Bellittle? How (given that you just assignated any president who claimed Saddam as a ally).

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart. Weren't you one who was just in here crying about us harming the innocent civilians in Iraq? hard to shoot at them but leave them to bleed and die on their own. SOME insurance companies DO have their customer's best interests at heart.

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton. Neither Jesus nor me (nor any of my Born Again friends) hate anyone. We don't like homosexuality or Hillary's behavior but I don't expect that will change your oft-chanted mantra

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools. Neither are junk science, but you're right about Intelligent Design (not creationism)

A president lying about an extramarital affair is a impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy. No, a president lying to a grand jury is an impeachable offense. Also, there is no evidence Bush lied.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which includes censoring the Internet. Not sure from where you've dredged this one up but if it is typically liberal, there is a misdirection of truth and a lot of hyperbole in it.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business. Where does George Bush drive? When did Hillary trade cattle? Who cares about either one?

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.More misdirection of truth. I have personally prayed for EVERY drug addict I know; but that doesn't mean "they don't have to pay the consequences of their behavior/decisions." Everybody should.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant. I don't care what either of them did in either decade

Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail. Yeah, once you have a knife in someone's back, keep twisting it.

Friends don't let friends vote Republican. OR post idiotic, hate-based rhetoric that has no socially or politically redeeming qualities.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


At lunch today with my wife, I saw a woman wearing a shirt like this. My wife really liked it. I want to find it. Now all I have to do it find it.

(I'd buy it from the store where I found this picture, but its a close out, and I don't know the quality of what the store sells.)

A Stallone Day

Rocky day so far, and the day is young.

My wife had to leave early for her ultrasound, and she was apprehensive about that. We talked a little, which seemed to have the effect of calming her and agitating me.

I had to leave early because my daughter wanted to get to school early. We encountered a backup of vehicles going to the school, so a 5 minute drive became 10. The school has a parking area with an L shape road wrapping around the outside of it for dropoff. Each time, people pull in, almost always just to the knee of the curve (closest to the door), which means the line can hold about seven cars -- the rest have to squeeze past if they want to try a dropoff past that first car -- and usually what happens is that just as they get there, the first one moves, and then you get to guess whether you want to pull into the lot instead.

Traffic flow fascinates me, but I have no -- well, few -- insights. In addition to the school lot, another area that always gets my attention is a main road up to the next town. It crosses a highway at one point, and is a choke point. Picture this: two lanes, multiple on/off feeders. Just before the highway, another feeder which brings up semi's that will want to get onto the highway, so they come up the ramp, push into the right lane, and about a hundred yards further down, turn right and down onto the highway. At just past that spot, cars from the left lane are trying to either go straight or get into the right lane -- right either to go straight too or right to pull onto the on ramp onthe far side of the highway. You have to watch the traffic on your right -- is he slowing to get on, so that I have a slot to pull into the right lane, or is he moving straight, so I don't? -- and the traffic in front of you, which moves sporadically -- the effect of a traffic signal about five hundred yards further down, and, to some extent, another signal about a half mile past that.
We're told the state transportation department has plans to improve that choke point. Oh, joy. My thought: during peak periods, disable that first light. No turns -- just straight on, relieve some of the pressure around that second on ramp.

I returned the call to the oral surgeon this morning. First they called my wife at work, under the impression that that was my work number. She gave them my work number, whereupon they called our home and left a message. The message: call us. So I did. Oh, the doctor says he doesn't want to send the estimate after all. This is a multistep process, so he wants to do another consult with you on it. He apparently wants to see me cringe at the cost -- which, I just bet, just went up.


My wife just called. It is a lousy day when I cannot be elated at news which deserves elation: It was just cysts.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Apparently, the Canadians have apologised.

Ever wonder what would happen if the Starship Enterprise encountered the Death Star?

And finally, a card trick!

Mail and News

Interesting things in the mail today.

One was a note from my insurance company -- the one that paid that startling hospital bill -- asking, wistfully, if perhaps anyone else was involved with my accident, or if maybe it happened someplace where someone else might have insurance coverage. Alas, I have to tell them no, it was just me, alone, at home. But if it helps, I don't wear baggy pajamas any more.

It disturbed me to get the letter, though. I have this lurking feeling that somehow I'm going to end up regretting what they had to pay out. I know, thats what insurance is for. Still...

Another was a package of Nonni's biscotti that we'd ordered -- we like it, and though the local store does carry it, they don't carry it consistently, and they like to move it around in the store (hey, lets put it next to -- no, behind -- the antifreeze!) -- so we ordered some directly from the company. Um. We're going to have biscotti around for a long time.

And we got a letter from a program at Johns Hopkins center for gifted children, saying that our daughter had qualified to be in one of their programs, due to her performance in a standardized test. Optional, of course. Are we interested? Well, sure, we're interested -- and pleased. We knew she was smart -- not a genius, but smart, yeah. Heck, look who she picked as parents!

I received a response from Muslim Apple to an earlier post. I'm afraid I offended her. That bothers me, because I didn't intend to. And yet it bothers me that it bothers me. I use normal courtesy with everyone. Is the subject of relations with Muslims so touchy that it can't be approached at that level? Is it even possible to ask the question without being offensive, because the underlying assumptions that buttress the question are themselves offensive? (Hey, you quit hitting your wife yet?) You can get really tied up in knots with this kind of thing.

Maybe I shouldn't talk about Muslims for a while.

I recall when I was in Thailand, courtesy of the Air Force, and they showed us this video about how to act properly and with decorum to the Thais == say 'goodbye' by bowing, hands together . Didn't take long to notice that nobody did it. Was it a scam? Did they really want it but not expect it from the ignorant Americans? Whew, mah haid hurts.... But dialogue has to start somewhere. I'll talk, at least once, to anyone. It appears to surprise some people. I once got a copy of an email from a senior exec at a company I worked for, mentioning that she had 'established an inadvertant connection' to me, because she'd responded to an email of mine. Turns out she thought that if I wrote to her, I must be pretty senior, too -- but I wasn't. Can't have that !

Tomorrow, the ultrasound.

Why I Won't be Pope

This is why I likely will never be Pope.

According to the news, the current Pope has invited ambassadors from Islamic countries to a fourth meeting to discuss the fallout from his comments that so enraged their constituents. (Pause while I think about their boiling point.) This one is to 'restart' the dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

I couldn't do that. Apologise, yes, absolutely. A second time, sure. Even a third time, possibly. But four?

You gotta be deeply religious to think that'll work, in the absence of constructive feedback from the other side. That doesn't seem to be happening. Some of them are listening, some of them are still fulminating, and I've no idea what the others are up to. Their normal lives, I expect. At this point, I've have given up. I'd have concluded that he gave it the old college try (okay, it was the College of Cardinals), and it kind of worked, and now it was time to move on. But no, he's going to try again. The man obviously is either a glutton for punishment or he has depths of religious optimism that are virtually without end. Sounds like divine inspiration, if so. I don't think I can lay claim to anything like that, and I don't see it in my future, either.

So, no Pope Bill any time soon. Too bad. I'd look good in white. Wonder if Good Humor Ice Cream is hiring?

(By the way, for some good writing on the topic, I recommend this, at the Muslim Apple site. I don't agree with all that she says, but it's well done and worth reading. Listening to the other side when you don't agree is part of what dialogue is all about, to my mind.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Not Panicking Yet

Came home from therapy and learned from my wife that she'd gotten the results from her annual mammogram. For the first time, they want her to come in for a followup ultrasound.

Not quite yet...

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Perhaps not the day, but more the next couple of days. The week is off to a decent start. I did some baking this afternoon (chocolate chip oatmeal cookies), finished the mowing (that mower blade seriously needs to be sharpened), heard from a friend in California (intermittant, always pleased when it happens), filled up my little pill case collection (and discovered that somehow either I or Caremark managed to let a prescription not only expire but vanish entirely), and emptied/filled the dishwasher after a dinner of truly excellent honey chili.

Some time in the next two or three days I will get The Letter from the dentist's office telling me how much money they want to do the bone graft, at which point I will swallow hard -- and then I still have to physically go in to schedule it. Those bozos. But I want this done and behind me, journey of a thousand miles begins with a single airplane ticket, and all of that.

Oh, and I got my work email inbox down to five active emails, which, believe me, is quite the accomplishment, given how many stray bogus emails I get. Well, bogus to me, anyway.

Seize the week.

Political Web Sites

I came across a site called Freedom Works that says you can use it to compare candidates on key issues. Well, heck, that sounded good.

Then I noticed that the upper right corner of the page said "Lower Taxes. Less Government. More Freedom."

Somehow, I don't think they're completely unbiased, do you?


Soddenly Sunday

An interesting morning. Less than great in some respects, better than normal in others.

The downside:
None of the local sources had the Washington Post. We're two hours from DC, four from New York, but the New York Times is always in plentiful supply; the Post, lately, not. I don't know why, but it suggests that I'm going to have to start picking up the paper on the way into church, instead of an hour and a half later. Last week, I did that, and there were only three Posts there, even that early. I thought it was an anomaly. Maybe not.

It's raining. Well, drizzling. Don't think I'll be finishing the yard mowing today.

And worst of all, people called me from work multiple times last night, and it turns out, the ringer on our bedroom phone was off. I actually heard the phone across the hall ringing once, but I thought it was a car alarm. We did eventually hear it ringing when they tried again, but I felt badly about it.

The upside:
Breakfast, with French toast made from my bread yesterday, was great. The bacon was crisp, the strawberries juicy, and the coffee excellent.
The Times has an article saying what I've believed for a while (and yes, I know that doesn't mean they're right): the Iraq war has increased the level of terrorist sympathizers and participators. Look for an angry speech by the Bushman saying that 'taint so.

Altogether, not bad.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I've just been looking at pictures of bathrooms. This is all Fine Homebuilding's fault.

The last issue of FH had an interesting article about a company that prefabricates houses, building them in sections that are then fitted together on a job site. I have never really thought too much about a prefab as the kind of house we'd want, but looking at this stuff made me think again -- and then to think a little about the design of rooms, and in particular bathrooms.

It seems to me that most people (even the person that I am related to who is quite wealthy) have basic bathrooms -- the usual devices, varying only in the elegance of the walls and such. No one has bathrooms like the ones that show up in design journals, intended to be 'luxurious home spas, redolent of scented air and with lushly growing greenery'. They're rooms for going in, doing the necessary, and thats it. The most that anyone uses the room for, at length, is to lie and soak, perhaps reading while they do it.

When we build a house -- if we build a house -- I'd like it to be more than that, but not a lot more. I want it to work well, and I don't care if it doesn't win any design awards. Its okay with me if the cabinetry doesn't look like fine woods (though the cabinets in two of our bathrooms do, it's not necessary, and they were, thank you, Woodmode, way too expensive). The lighting doesn't have to be from a fine crystal chandelier (it can be a chandelier, but the chandelier will be glass or plastic, not exquisite crystal). And much as I like the images of the Kohler all-in-one saunas (they use much more evocative phrases), I can't see myself using such a thing. Somebody else wants to fund one, fine with me. The water coming into the tub doesn't have to tumble down a rocky glen, or arc in a shimmery spray, it just has to be copious and quick.

So, here's what I want.

Lots of warm water, quickly -- to the point that I'd consider putting in a separate water heater just for the bathroom(s).

Easy access to the tub -- no stepstools, no step-over-the-wide-ledge to get in.

Big tub. Big sink, too.

Television, preferably with a DVD or video feed (though I think the feed ought to come from another room, with remote control.)

Lots of storage - and nothing stored over the john (I've never dropped anything in, but I've come close.)

Lots of light.

Non skid floor. Heated would be nice.

Window near the tub, but not for public displays -- high up on the wall.

Comfortable feeling.

Okay, that should do it.

One more thing, not directly related -- big, fluffy towels. Lots of them.


It is a little after ten on a somewhat sodden Saturday. I am sitting in the dining room,sipping some chocolate almond coffee, listening to Bach variations, and occasionally glancing over to the portable cage on the table next to me, where Chocolate, the hyperactive guinea pig, is cavorting madly. She is resident here while her cage is being cleaned. The other GP had been here, and a Gp swap was accomplished moments ago. Since the two of them don't really get along, it was felt best to do this one at a time. Unfortunately for Chocolate, this means that the portable cage smells like Emily, which I think is driving Chocolate berserk -- she knows Emily must be around here somewhere because she can smell her -- she just can't see her.

I have been somewhat active. I got up around six thirty, came out to the kitchen, and made the dough for the bread -- or mostly did, coming to a dead stop when I noticed that the recipe called for instant nonfat milk. What? Hell with it, I thought; worst case, I end up with inedible bread. So I mixed it up and let it sit for about two hours while we had breakfasts, and at the moment it seems to be rising just fine. I still don't think the preferment did anything. And I went out and mowed part of the lawn -- yes, today I was that annoying guy who goes out early and does mowing. I only did about a third of the lawn, as it is damp from overnight rains, but still, rain is predicted for the whole weekend, so this is in a sense a moral victory.

And I am reading Redemption Ark, which I am enjoying, but (I know this sounds odd) I want to be done with so that I can get back to the Lincoln book -- I found that for some reason I could not read both at the same time -- I think because both required thought and keeping multiple characters in mind. Lets see, Lincoln was the mutant space pilot, right?

And in a bit I'm going to take a nap.

Friday, September 22, 2006


For the first time in a while, I'm making some bread.

I had come across a web page talking about Italian bread, and it sounded pretty good to me, so tonight I'm making some preferment (or pre-ferment). To tell the truth, I'm not sure that using it makes all that much difference to bread, even if the 'artisan' bakers do it (well, sometimes), but it doesn't take much effort at all (ten minutes, tops -- one cup flour, one cup water, quarter teaspoon yeast, mix, cover for 12 or so hours) so what the heck...

Tomorrow morning I'll mix it up, and then go into the rising cycles -- about eight hours in all.

Doing the Military Thing

I spent eight years in the military, and I liked it enough that if I hadn't had a problem right at the end, I'd probably have stayed in. I like to say that I left because I didn't want to do a job where the best thing about it was the retirement from it, but the truth is that there's a lot to like about the military. They have a lot of smart, dedicated people who don't get recognized.

But I never wanted to join the Czechoslovak military. Until this.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Code Red

I have a code in my node.

I stayed home on Monday to be with my daughter, who had a bit of a cold, and in gratitude she gave it to me, so that I spent much of yesterday and today hacking and sneezing. Its nothing terrible -- more of an inconvenience than anything -- but I am ready for it to be over now. I don't think thats its feeling, though. I think it likes it here.

The therapist today was impressed by how often I sneezed. Not so impressed that he took it easier on me, you understand, though the massage was a little less painful then the first time. Afterwards, he did a range-of-motion that showed slight improvement from last time. He says that I can expect to continue to improve so long as I keep up strengthening exercises, as my assisted range is still pretty good. Its when I try to do it unassisted that I look like Igor. A sneezing Igor, at the moment.

My daughter, incidentally, is just fine.

To Dream....The Impossible.....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hijab Jibjab

A person on a web site that I look at occasionally mentioned having a lot of hijabs, and I wondered what that was. I had a hunch that it was a kind of head scarf, but I wasn't sure -- so I did what most people would do -- did a Google image search for the word -- and my Cybersitter software blocked the page! Wow, I thought, assuming I'm even in the ballpark on what it is, what could possibly be offensive on a page of people wearing head scarves?

Update -- I found what it probably was, and had it here for a bit, but then I deleted it. It belatedly occurred to me that if the image was possibly offensive to people who care about these things, I wouldn't be doing them any favors by having it here. You can still find it with that Google image search, though -- it's the image from

How Things Happen

I don't know much about the way things actually work, and its probably good for me that I don't, because if I did, then I might somehow feel that I should do something about it, and when I found that I couldn't, it might embitter me, which is not good. I don't much like saying that ignorance is a good idea, because I don't often think that it is, but in this case, yes.

What brings these dark thoughts to mind is a novel that I've been reading, in between the other stuff, called The Godfather Returns, by Mark Winegardner. I've never read the original novel by Mario Puzo, but like a lot of people I saw the movies, and I was disturbed by them --- by the ruckus before the first one came out, when there was much talk about how you could have a movie about Italian crime families and never use the word Mafia once; how the whole thing was just made up and sensationalized; how the whole thing was not only true but a pale shadow of the truth. The novel's pretty good, but it leads you pretty quickly to wondering if anything in life is on the up and up, particularly the big things.

You can see how that leads me pretty quickly to thinking about politics, and the quagmire that we're in in this country. Can we trust anyone? Can we believe anyone? Is there anyone who doesn't have an axe to grind, a hidden agenda? Is Firefox really morally superior to Internet Explorer? Did Detroit really kill the electric car? Is Bush really as much a buffoon as he appears to be? And thinking about whats going on leads me to thinking about how we find out -- about the manipulation of public opinion, and whether what I hear really is what's going on -- or if, like the line in the movie, if I knew the truth, I wouldn't be able to handle it. (Sorry that I can't deliver that line as well as Jack Nicholson.) The news that I hear is very probably a distilled version of reality, and is likely affected what powerful people want me to hear; sometimes, even, not so powerful so much as vociferous, like those bloggers who seem to always have something to say, usually something negative about one side, and positive about the other -- or negative about both. Who you can truly believe becomes something of a conundrum -- and then you think, what does it matter who I listen to, who I believe? I still have to handle my life; the best I can do it deal with the things from outside it like gusts of wind or forces of nature, whether they're man-made or not, as they touch me. I can't control them. I can barely anticipate them.

I should try to keep this in mind, the next time I get a burst of eagerness to change things for the better. Minor, incremental change is possible, but wide spread change? On the order of brining honor back to the practice of politics, say? Creation of a rapprochement between Muslims and the rest of the world?

Not in my lifetime. Not ever, possibly.

Monday, September 18, 2006

File under Fingering, Good

Guitar, that is.

You like excellent guitar?

This is it.


I just learned something about my cellular phone which is a bit surprising.

They require that you pay them in advance. Okay, thats fair -- we got the pay-as-you-go deal. We use the phone rarely, and this sounded about right. And we even knew there was an 'air time expiration' in about a month; though we didn't know exactly what that meant, we did know it meant that you'd better pony up more money to keep the account active.

What we didn't know was that the minimum payment was $15, and that would be good for only a month. They'd also take 50 or 75 dollars, good for thirty to 90 days, or $100, good for a year. Doing the math, that last seems the best deal (ignoring trivialities like loss of interest); it works out to 100/12, or $8.50 a month.

But wait. I use the phone less than that -- a lot less. At a quarter a minute, I use about three dollars worth a month. Where would that other $5.50 a month go? Or the other $12.50 a month, if I gave them the minimum payment?

(Did I just hear Cingular chuckling?)

You Want Pain?

Lots of pain in the world, these days.

The middle east, of course. Muslims have a goodly amount to be unhappy about, though it seems like some of them are taking that to extremes. Got to be careful about criticizing them, though: like others of the '(fill in the deity name here) personally commissioned me to wipe out the heathens' ilk, they take umbrage easily. Not much love for calm reflection in that camp. Rather, they seem to prefer behavior that starts at intense, ramps up to inhuman, and tops out at barbaric -- all they need is a Cause, and its Kill The Infidel time -- literally.

Organizationally, there's some pain, too -- the people for whom I work are having one hell of a time nudging their stock up. Used to be pretty solidly considered a blue chip, but last couple of years, been more of a light teal. Perhaps even - cerulean.

And physiologically -- well, lets just say that they reached new heights in causing me to say OH. I will never view the offer of a massage quite the same way again.

I would like to think that there are well springs of peace and hope in the world, too, but at the moment, I think they're in hiding.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Grass Is Mowed

...and I did it. For the first time in about six weeks, I mowed the grass.

My shoulder's a little sore, but nothing outrageous. And the lawn is mowed.

And yes, once again, I found myself thinking You know, we should pave over this part...

Plus, we're about to have spaghetti with that wine-based sauce we made.

Life is good.


From Joe Scarborough's article in today's Washington Post:

But these Republicans have one advantage that Clinton's party lacked in 1994: Their opponents are Democrats. The Party of Pelosi. The party that is so tongue-tied on its best political issue that I still can't tell you where it stands on Iraq. Nor can they explain how they would balance the budget or stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Maniacs and Recovery

I just came across this site, which shows proposed designs for a 'Freedom Tower' at the World Trade Center site in New York. I'm not too keen on that name -- makes me think of Freedom Fries and like inanity -- but the designs are pretty awesome. So awesome, I find myself thinking 'Well, won't some other maniacs try to knock that down?' Yeah, maybe. But is that enough reason not to do it? I don't think so. Its neither a reason to do it -- Those bastards, we'll show them -- nor a reason not to do it. Do because it can be a glorious symbol; don't do it, because the imagery can exist in many other ways. But, personally?

I hope it gets done.

All That Jazz

Last night, my wife and I went to a local college to listen to the Eric Mintel Quartet. They were pretty good -- one of those groups where even if you didn't like what they were playing (we prefer soft, quiet jazz, and some of this was, while some was not), you admire their artistry and ability.

The pianist was incredible -- at times, his hands were a blur on the keyboard -- as was the horn player (sax, flute) -- he could evoke the most amazing sounds from his instruments. The fellow on the string instruments -- electric bass, electric guitar -- was more of a background sound, but you could tell that he was contributing the whole time, and the guy on the drum set must work out every day - - it sounded at times like there were two or three people beating on the skins.

An altogether enjoyable performance. We should do more of that.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I am not often impressed.

AfricanKelli (over there under Interesting Sites) impresses me.

Worked Out

I told myself not to push it. I did, I did.

I did.

Man, is my shoulder sore now. And from such a simple exercise, too! Reach down, bring your arm up and diagonally across your body while pulling on a one-pound weight. Amazing how it wore me out.

On the other hand, I was able to lift my arm straight up eighteen times from a supine position with minimal effort. A week ago, five times was a strain. So, progress.

Still, the Percocet is calling me.....

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pitching Fits, Pitching Concepts

An unusual evening.

It started with a recording from the dental surgeon's office confirming that, as predicted, the insurance company won't cover the cost of the bone graft for my jaw. We'd expected that. Can't say we particularly like the idea, but hey, with that $18K bill from the hospital covered (albeit by a different insurance agency), perhaps we'd used up all the good karma, insurance-wise. I was a bit ticked off, though (yes, me: the one who hardly ever gets ticked off) when they said that I should come into their office so that they could tell me what the options would be for paying for this. Hadn't heard of this revolutionary technique called, I believe, 'writing it down and mailing it to us'. I suggested that this might be a Good Idea. We'll see what happens. Bureaucrats. Feh.

And then we went to an open house at the grade school that my daughter had attended. They'd added a wing (desperately needed), and we were curious about how it looked. Well, overall, not bad, especially for something designed by a committee -- a school board committee, at that. On the way home, though, the offspring muttered about how it was all very nice, and all, but it sure wasn't the school she remembered, and why'd they have to do that, anyway? And so on... We stopped at a store, and while my wife was inside, my daughter talked to me about kids who have to have everything, and not just everything, but the newest everything -- not just a portable music source, but an iPod, and not just an iPod, but the iPod Shuffle; not just a cell phone, but a Razr. I told her that some people define themselves by what they own, and that encouraging this was what advertising was all about -- if a cute boy uses it, then maybe he'll like me if I use it too; my music machine is twice as expensive as yours, therefore I am twice as cool as you. Though, when she mentioned how she'd like a new CD player, I thought that it seemed reasonable. We agreed that if she does well on this marking period, we'll get it.

An interesting evening. To round it off, a scary article, and an interesting picture.

Like Bubble Bath?

If you do, then you'll love this.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


This is a blog which has on it a clip of the first Comedy Central edition of The Daily Show aired after 9/11.

It's worth watching.

Wednesday Morning

There's a place locally that sells used furniture (I think); the name of the place is Tuesday Morning. Never understood that name -- and obviously it doesn't do much of a job in telling what it is that they do.

"Name of the place" -- points to you if the words that occurred to you upon reading that were "is Babylon 5". Its okay if you don't know what the heck Babylon 5 is.

I see where Lincoln Chaffee won his primary. This is bad news. Knowing nothing about Mr. Chaffee except that he is a Republican, this is bad news. If we are to get rid of the mindset that the Republican leadership has demonstrated, we have to get rid of people who bear the Republican label (even if it hurts people who can be described as 'liberal Republican', as he is). Raping the country and its workers for the benefit of the people who run the companies, and letting the president do whatever the hell he wants, should be cause for termination. Sorry, Linc.

I realized for the first time the other day that clothed women can be as sexy as nudes. (Alas, the nudes are all photographic.) Sometimes more so. I'd known it for quite some time, but this was the first time that I stopped and actually thought about it for more than ten seconds. Mystery is good. No, not this much. And nude does not necessarily mean sexy. Funny that it took me this long to come to that conclusion. I heard years ago that it was good that guys were not the ones with prominent breasts because we'd spend all day peering down our shirts. Well, no -- but not because we're morally superior. You are attracted to what you can't easily see, as my brief stint on the nude beach at Gaviota showed me, years ago.

Yesterday was a good day. The project from hell may be transferred to someone who actually knows what its supposed to look like when its running. It does feel like a bit of failure but not much of one. I did call the dentists office to find out whats what; got blown off by the receptionist (Oh, I'm sure they're working on the insurance, sir), but I did call, which was a moral victory. My system change, which did not work yesterday morning, worked. And on the way home I abruptly realized that I closed the van door with my left hand without even thinking about it. Got stiff later, but I did do it, which delighted me.

Lets hope today is not the yin to that yang.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I told a lanky blonde woman at the physical therapy place that I liked her haircut. Which was true, I did. I didn't mention that I find lanky women to be attractive, which leads me to notice them, and which, in turn, led me to notice her haircut. I just said that I liked her haircut. From her reaction, I redeemed my gender in her eyes.

I once told a woman she had a nice cut, and when she asked why, I said that it had a lot of energy. She asked if I was a hair stylist, and seemed quite surprised when I told her I was a programmer.

Don't know what she thought about my gender.

American Flatbread

I like semi-gooey pizza. (I am particularly fond of Magpie's, of Arizona, for which, like the deli sandwiches of Schlotzsky's, I'd travel semi-long distances).

American Flatbread is not a gooey pizza. It is a somewhat dry, focaccia-style pizza.

Know what?

It's pretty damn good, too.

And unlike Magpie's or Schlotzsky's, I can get it locally, frozen.

This is cool.

Questioning Authority

I don't know if this is a real letter or a made up spoof, but if my child were in this position, I know what I'd want her to do.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Miscellaneous Thoughts

I know that this falls into the realm of justifying prejudices, but what the heck: I think that anyone who sends emails with multiple colors and fonts is asking for me to ignore the email. And anyone who sends an email that goes more than four or five paragraphs, ditto. I just can't be bothered by either one.

In the area of Us vs Them, the New York Times had a very interesting page listing opinions of about seven or eight noteworthy and not-so people on the current struggle against terrorists. The conclusion was that it is dying and will last forever, that it is the work of a few well-connected malcontents and a vast underground, and that we are doomed and will emerge victorious.
Nice to see a unity of conclusion.

Lotus Notes (or as I often inadvertantly refer to them, Loutus Nots) should have a way to auto-classify emails as they arrive. I know this is possible. I've seen it done. On the other hand, it shouldn't do what Mozilla Thunderbird does, which is throw away old emails still in the inbox when new ones arrive. I know, there must be a setting somewhere that says to do that, but dammed if I can find it. So, see, when you DON'T comment on this blog, you're saving my old emails.

I baked cookies tonight and asked my daughter to give them to the neighbor in thanks for them spontaneously mowing our lawn when they did their own. She did. But she neglected to mention who baked them. Hmm....

Funny Guy

Long download, but Russell Peters is a funny guy.

Grey Morning

Its a gloomy Monday morning, with all of the joy that that phrase implies. The usual sludge of work washes ashore -- people carping about audits, people worrying about systems, automated reminders to UPDATE YOUR PASSWORD... The first words out of my daughters mouth this morning were 'I hate Mondays', and I told her that this was a universal feeling. Despite the occasional perky 'thank god its monday' article, the vast majority of the world views Monday as a bane to their existence, and rightfully so.

In about ten or fifteen minutes, I'll be getting dressed to go let the surgeon poke at me, and then to the therapy place for a round of stretching and exercise. Then it will be back home to see what further delights email has delivered unto me, like a cat carefully depositing a half-eaten bird on your doorstep.

On the other hand, I'm working from home today, so that's something.....

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sleep is Good

I just woke up from a long nap, went out to the kitchen and immediately ate two and a half bowls of cereal -- in the process polishing off two boxes that were down to the dregs. Turns out Basic 4 and Froot Loops are not incompatible.

I feel human again. Sleepy, but human. Not even grumpy.


It is, in fact, noon, but you wouldn't know it in here, because the eight day clock wound down the other day, and neither of us has felt yet like winding it back up again. I occasionally muse that it would be nice to have a battery-backup windup clock, but I'm not sure there is such a thing. I look over at the clock every so often, from where I'm sitting in the living room, listening to the Bach Variations CD. Still just past two, apparently.

My wife is outside pulling weeds. We had some truly enormous -- as in, five feet or more -- ones. I kind of liked them, actually -- they're green, they grow, what more do you want? -- but when she said she wanted to pull them, I didn't gainsay her. I merely pointed out that I don't do weeds. I do the little ones, but when they get to be that big, I think that it's time for the attack corps -- which is to say, my wife. As for the daughter, she's inside doing some sewing. I'm always a little intimidated by the sewing machine -- I have this image of that shiny needle going into something a lot more precious to me than the red shirt that's lying in there, waiting to be mended. I know, guys are supposed to like power tools, but I'm not in that mold. I've always admired people who can do amazing things with hand tools (not that I can do that, either). Come to think of it, thats a good description of my wife and the weeds. Whack, whack, whack.

Here's a picture that I like. I'm not sure where I found it, but its one of a few images I have that I'd like to think will be incorporated in the house we build, if we ever do.
I suppose it won't have quite the same effect if it's looking out on a busy street, or the neighbor's trash cans.

Sunday Papers

Getting up early on Sunday, when I don't need to, irks me. And I probably ought not to read the sunday paper when I'm in a grumpy mood. They don't help. Even the comics irritated me. The comics!

One of the lead articles in the Washington Post today describes the intentions of the Republican leadership to engage in massive amounts of personal attack ads as a way of winning the next election. They said that doing so allows them to frame the debate, focusing on what they want to focus on and ignoring their parties failures and disasters. I am fond of the image of the Democrats as being the party of reason and intelligence, but right now if I found that they wanted to put out false, misleading, and emotionally laden ads attacking the Republicans as baby sellers and scum suckers, charging them with molesting stray cats and poisoning the air over orphanages, I'd give it consideration. I want the reigning party out of office so badly that I can taste it, because I think they've severely damaged my country and my people. And I can turn off -- temporarily -- the voice of reason in my mind about what doing so would turn my party into. I don't want to lose nobly. I want to win.

Are there good, reasonable, intelligent Republicans? Anywhere?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lazy Guy

Let's be clear about this: I can be a lazy guy.

I am not, overall, a lazy guy, but when the mood strikes, I can be very lazy. I see nothing wrong with knocking off work at one in the afternoon, taking a nap, waking up around two thirty, and going back to work. And I see nothing wrong -- well, very wrong -- with giving the absolute minimum in the way of responses to people who believe in Audits. I like to ignore those people as much as I can, even though I know thats not a viable long term solution, and will lead to days of pain. I'd rather the days of pain than the weeks and months of low-grade fever. Part of this is because I think they're evil people, but a lot of it is that I Just Don't Want To Be Bothered.

So it may seem odd, given that I can be lazy, that I'm looking forward to the changes that are proposed for the organization for whom I work - changes that will result in me having more to do. The reason I'm pleasantly optimistic is that these changes will mean doing more technical work -- working in areas that I've never worked before. These are not sexy areas -- no neural nets, no cognitive theory, no proton pump inhibitors or SSRIs -- but rather dull, stolid mainframe operating system software. There will be plenty of opportunities to screw up, and to trip over things that look to me like minutiae but which are in fact crucial to the healthy operation of the operating system. I know this.

I'm still looking forward to it. In an environment where I am reluctantly adjusting to the fact that I'm going to have to work at least until next June, almost certainly until next December, and possibly beyond, so that my company's insurance can pay, or help pay, for my dental fees, I am grateful that at least I'm in a position to do some more technical work while I'm there.

Its what I like to do.

Medical Paranoia

Medical stuff scares me. In the abstract, it's interesting. When it's about me, it scares me.

I am at the point where I fear going to any medical practicitioner. These people are not my friends. They do not coddle me, though I want to be coddled. They tell me things that I do not want to hear, and I am supposed to nod soberly as they speak, when what I want to do is run away.

The opthamologist whom I see informed me last year that he saw, for the first time, the beginning of degeneration in my eye as a result of the chronic disease that I have. He didn't say if this is expected at this stage in my life; what I should expect, and when; and what, if anything, can be done. I was afraid to ask, because he might tell me.

The oral surgeon whom I see informs me that I need implants, before which I need a bone graft, all of which is going to take months, during part of which I won't be able to wear a partial denture,so I'll have a huge gap right in the center of my upper jaw. He mentions, in passing, relative to some other teeth, that 'they're not really doing you any good', though they seem fine to me. I know they're not -- a different dentist spoke disparagingly of them.

The Nurse Practicitioner whom I see has me take blood readings, and though the long term ones have been good (up to the time I did it, which was six months ago), she tut-tuts if the short-term ones are not. I cringe, thinking about it, and it takes a real effort of will for me to use my personal blood monitor to see what the readings are. I don't want to know, in case they're bad. Its been years since my only colonoscopy, and I know I should get another -- but she doesn't mention it, and I don't ask.

Even seeing the surgeon in two days, a month after the surgery, scares me. What if he looks at the mobility, purses his lips, shakes his head. Is that the best motion you can do with that arm? Really?

Intellectually, I know this is not the way to be. I should accept things as they are, get information, deal with it. Emotionally, its exactly how I am. I feel as if they're all against me, staring, shaking their heads, saying See, this is what you get for years of inadequate monitoring of your health. You're screwed now, buddy boy. You are well and truly screwed. You'll never get that arm back much more than it is right now. You'll go blind. You'll have no teeth, and you'll live on soup and soft foods. You'll probably lose some toes, too.

You're screwed. And its all your fault.


Well, at least laying it all out where I can look at it makes me feel a little better...


NASA Launch Blog

Why didn't I guess that they'd do this?

Metaphysical State

So I was sitting here humming the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies, thinking of the time that I saw it as part of a trailer for, of all things, the Roseanne show -- it was quite good (the trailer, not the show) -- when I came across this page. And although I'm not a Trekkie (or Trekker, or whatever the currently acceptable phrase is), I thought I'd mention it.


Many of the people who grace me with their comments here are women, and I assume that they know how to put on a bra. (Hint: Don't hook it and try to pull it up over your hips.)

But if not, this video might help.

How To Put On A Bra 101 - video powered by Metacafe

Friday, September 08, 2006

Late Night Conversation

I just had an interesting but unsatisfying conversation with my daughter.

She asked why we never push her to do activities and projects (after school things). She said that her cousin is always active in multiple activities (true), and gets awards (medals, trophies) from them (somewhat true). She observed that if her cousin wanted to stop doing things, her mother would likely object, or come up with something different for her to be involved with, whereas all we do is encourage her to follow her interests. She wants more. She wants medals and trophies that she can show people. She wants us to push her.

I reminded her that she she took piano lessons, she objected vigorously to having to practice routinely. She didn't remember that, but said she wanted to get back to that -- or to something. It starts, I said, with interest, and with commitment. What are you interested in? What can you do to find other things to be interested in, if what you know doesn't sound intriguing? What are you willing to commit to?

She said she wanted to be in a vet club, but there wasn't one. I said Start One. She said Can't, have to have a teacher do it. I said, talk to your guidance counselor. She said, I feel more comfortable with a woman. The eighth grade one is a woman, I said; talk to her. Can't, she said, we can only talk to our own grade's counselor. And on...



What if airlines increased their fares by five hundred percent, and reduced the size and number of their flights by fifty percent, changing their focus to cater to the wealthy and privileged? What would that do to their profitability? What about the effect on rail, bus, and ocean liner travel? And if we must have air travel, what about non-oil-based air travel, such as dirigibles? For that matter, why do we have to physically move at all -- why not have more 'virtual travel'?

TSA--And the TS Stands For?

I found this to be a startling article. I very much want the pertinent facts -- not the hyperbole, but the facts upon which it's based -- to be true.

Oh, This is Awful

Knock Knock.
Who's There?
A Little Old Lady.
A Little Old Lady Who?
I Didn't Know You Could Yodel!


This is a content-free post. I just feel like writing something. It doesn't happen all that often, but sometimes I just want to write something. Its kind of like when you stretch, and you can feel a muscle loosen (or whatever the heck is going on in there under the skin). Writing sometimes just makes me feel good. I tried doing it on the sides of buildings and passing trucks, and that didn't work out so well, so I figured heck, I'll do it here.

Yesterday I got to take my daughter to the local Pills R'Us because she's had a sore throat for a couple of days. It was actually kind of fun because the NP that she saw had her wrist in a bandage, so my daughter asked what was up, and the NP said she had tendonitis. I got to ask my daughter if she knew what tendons were (she pretty much did), and then I told her what the -itis suffix indicated. And a few minutes later, she asked if an eardrum actually looked like a drum, so I got to tell her about the tympannic membrane and how that sounds like the tympani, which she knows as a kind of drum. I love doing stuff like that. I suppose it could be seen as showing off but I like to think of it as just passing trivia along.

I was disappointed that after I went to all the trouble of writing a disjointed and vague description of the kind of business that I'd like to have, no one supplied me with a cogent and coherent series of alternatives and possibilities that I could then pursue. I was really hoping someone would. Now I have to think, and you know how difficult that is for me.

I've decided that maybe it isn't a good idea for me to push it at physical therapy. Not that I'm burning down the building or anything, but if they say to do ten reps, I do twenty; if they say to lift ten pounds I try for twelve or fifteen. Except for rolling the ball up the wall - I hate that. But now again my shoulder aches just a little bit, and I don't particularly enjoy the feeling. I am not going to slack off, but maybe I will back off, just a bit. Though there are other reasons to go to therapy -- for one thing, the staff is mostly women, and they are mostly young, and they are all in great shape. Heck, I can't read while doing the arm bike or the pulleys or anything, so I have to look at something. I did think of borrowing my wife's iPod but this is okay, too.

I get to get up early again on Sunday for yet another product upgrade test. Yuck.

I'd like to bake or cook something this weekend. I did just bake some chocolate chip cookies, and they are ok, but I want to make something else. Maybe some pineapple salsa. Here's the recipe --


* 1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
* 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
* 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
* 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
* 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
* 1/4 cup chopped onions
* 2 green chile peppers, chopped
* 1/4 cup orange juice
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* salt and pepper to taste


1. In a large bowl, toss together pineapple, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, corn, black beans, onions, green chile peppers, orange juice, and cilantro. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Ok, that sounds doable!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I think that having insurance is a good thing.

Now, I think it's REALLY a good thing.

I particularly like the eighth entry on the second page. Though the last two lines on the third page, showing what the insurance company paid, are pretty damned impressive, too.

I paid for several large pizzas to be sent to the ortho floor where I was a resident for two days, to thank the nurses for what they did. I feel like I should send some to the insurance company, too!

Oh, and my tab for all of this?

A hundred bucks.

Thank you, Health America.


In the movie Tank, there comes a point where the tank is mired in a field, and the yahoo local law is about to seize it. An onlooker grabs a coil of cable from a truck and starts off across the field. Hey, the driver of the truck shouts, what are you doing? The coil-taker looks up and says, simply, Stealin.

I like linear thought.

Yesterday, one of the people at work discovered in the afternoon that his connectivity to the Big Gihugic (but in its own way kind of cute) Software Company network had gang agley, as Robert Burns would have said. It had worked in the morning, but in the afternoon, he could only connect to the local LAN. Being surrounded by techies who all thought they knew what the problem was, he spent a fair amount of time futzing around with it, and eventually (since we DIDN'T know, this being Networking, Where Dragons Live) he called some guy he knew who actually practiced that dark art. I listened to him talk to this fellow for a while, and what got me what that while the person he talked to knew more about networks than me, he didn't have a particuarly linear style. It seemed as if he was saying Try doesn't matter...Try this. And I'd think Well, dummo, if it Didn't Matter, why did you try it? I know there could have been a reason -- perhaps it was something where it didn't matter if it didn't pan out, but if it did, that was a significant indicator -- but it just didn't FEEL as if this guy had a logical path in mind.

Now I know that in diagnostics, you don't always use a logical path. You pick off the most common, easily checked, low hanging fruit first. And sometimes you just 'play a hunch'. But when that doesn't work, I think you need to be able to present an aura of competence that says that you've thought the matter through, you know how it's supposed to work, and you know how you're going to parse the problem to eliminate nulls and flush out the solution. This guy -- well, put it this way: he didn't do any better than me.

I did, incidentally, clue the guy with the problem into WinXP System Restore. Amazingly, he'd never heard of it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Back from another session at the house of pain. Thats not a fair way to put it, of course; they don't have that as a goal, but it is an undeniable side effect. The good news is that I'm clearly continuing to make progress -- I can (with difficulty) raise my arm straight up (well, pretty straight) from a supine position, and a very little bit from a standing position;also, the arc that I can rotate my arm forward is up to about 80 degrees, or just below straight forward -- two weeks ago it was around 50 degrees. I'm pleased. I noticed the other day that I really do respond to positive reinforcement and success in this. Hardly unusual, I guess.

Inhibiting the Pump

Every so often I come across a piece of medical information that is fascinating and I have no idea how to tie it to anything else. This article on Proton Pump Inhibitors is an example.

No Comment

I think that I'm going to turn commenting off for a while. Same reason as the last time. I'll turn it back on after a while.

Dungeons and...

I've never been a fan of the 'epic journey' novels --

Young Gwentifal had lived quietly in the forests of Hintilla before the cataclysmic event which shattered his tiny village and thrust him into the strange company of Bunfar the magician and Slurr, the Rogue Accountant....

but if I were, I think that this would adequately describe my motivations.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lance Corporal Hetherington

Remembering Dave

I once shared a suite of rooms with a guy named Dave. He was an interesting person (likely still is). I was amazed by his success with women. I didn't have the guts to lay myself out as much as he would (and still don't; probably good for my marriage) which is partially why he was the one with the waterbed.

One of the things that he would do is buy lotions for his skin -- things that would make it softer, or help it breathe, or whatever. I had no idea if this stuff actually did any of that; so far as I could see, all it did was a) smell good and b) cost a lot. Smelling like something other than Old Spice was fairly exotic to me, at the time. Still is, come to think of it.

I thought of him when glancing at this page.

Business Plans

I was just at a web site that's aimed at people who have (or want to have) a small business. I thought Yeah, thats a nice idea, and abruptly remembered the old joke of the guy who prayed every night to win the lottery, until one day, just as he finished, there was a terrific peal of thunder, a blinding bolt of lightening, and a mighty voice roared from the heavens "Hey, give me a break -- at least buy a ticket !" So, I thought, if I really think that having a business would be a cool idea, perhaps I ought to at least have an idea -- even just fragment of one -- of what such a business would look like, feel like, do.


Okay. Something to do with technology. Something where I can teach. Something where I enjoy myself. Something where I tell people things that perhaps they could have found out for themself, but I package it in a way that adds value to the mix. I don't have to get rich from this; meeting expenses would be a plus.

Okay, where's that thunder?

Say You Got a Resolution...

Resolved: That if I am reading an article which is obviously pro or anti administration, and it uses the words 'probably', 'most likely', 'breathlessly', or synonyms thereof, I will either a) stop reading or b) read with the All WeatherHigh Intensity BS Indicator switched on.

I mean, I don't like the guy, but some of these articles....!

Remembering Elaine

When I was a manager, one of the people who worked in my group was a woman named Elaine. She came to me one day with an unusual request. She wanted to start taking her vacation one day a week -- every Monday. The rationale (which I only learned later) was that her husband worked a four day week; this would give her that third day with him. Whatever the reason, it made sense to me, and I agreed, but it didn't pass muster with my boss, an old line manager who remembered when the company used to require that vacation be taken in increments of a week. We argued about it, and eventually he agreed, but he didn't like it. So, every week, Elaine got a three day weekend.

I think she was on to something. That third day seems to make all the difference in the world as to how I feel when I wake up on the first work day back. I have mentioned my attitude about the number of hours that my company thinks are needed to do what we do (truth to tell, the extended hours probably are needed, but they're so tedious, there is no way I can sustain even a pseudo-enthusiasm that long; I told my wife once that one of the reasons I like working from home is that I can take an hour in the middle of the day and do something else, from going for a walk to reading a book to taking a nap, all difficult to do In The Office). I would be willing (not eager, but willing) to do those required hours in four days, just to get that three day weekend.

But that, of course, would not be Company Policy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Thank you, Emily Litella

It took more work than I thought it would, but this afternoon I finally got it up, and I must say, it looked good

My wife and I both agreed that it would be a good idea to get it up, but none of the methods that we could think of seemed to work. We'd look at the limp deal that was there now, and we'd just sigh. In fact, we ended up just hiding one contraption, all metal and cords and such, behind the kitchen table for a while, so that we would not think about our failure each time we saw it.

But this afternoon, my wife asked if I was feeling ambitious, and I said sure, so, after some screwing (less than I thought it would take, actually), we finally got it all the way up. Took both of us, and three and a half hands, and when we were done, we were slightly out of breath, but we were quite pleased.

Anyone need an old curtain rod?

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day. In accordance with tradition, I slept in, finally waking around eight-thirty. I laid in bed for a while, listening to the sound of crickets outside. When I got up to get this laptop, I looked out the window and saw the field of corn from the farm next door. Some of the stalks were swaying gently in the breeeze.

I did give some thought to work, though. Not much, because I get tense thinking about it. I take work too seriously, I think, and not seriously enough. The former, because it is very, very important to me to be competent, and to be seen as competent (which is why the project that will not end drives me to distraction) ; the latter, because I tend to think that if I ignore parts of work that I don't like, they'll go away (sometimes they do, but usually they don't).

Some insights on a quiet day.

Happy Labor Day.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


We just went out for ice cream at a local dairy, and on the way back I thought I'd take a couple of different roads, just to see what was there. We found a whole section of this small town that we'd no idea existed, and outside of the interlude when we drove through the backwash of someone's leaf burning pile's smoke, it was pretty cool. Amazing what is a mile from the roads we drive every day, but we never see it.

Tomorrow, we plan on doing absolutely nothing, save cooking some hot dogs on the grill, reading, and possibly taking a walk in the cool pre-autumn air through a local park. Sounds like fun.


One of the things that I'm not good at is understanding the complexity of human response. People do things for multiple reasons, and the things that they do have multiple facets. I tend to see things in black and white, with a little grey, whereas people act in a rainbow of reasons and styles.

For example, although it is obvious that I think that the president is a misguided idiot, and the staff of his administration is for the most part similarly misguided, I have to remember they are intelligent and accomplished people, sitting in the collective hot seat, faced with difficult and complex challenges. Few of us would be up to that task. From their point of view, what they are doing, and the way they are doing it, is correct. So, what are their underlying assumptions? What are their goals? Put colloquially, where are they coming from?

To enhance my understanding, I am fortunate to occasionally be able to pluck an insight from the dammedest places. This one comes from a science-fiction novel that I've been reading (intermittantly) for quite a while.

"Though it was more than sixty years since she committed her crimes, high-ranking officials continued to bray for (her) arrest and trial, using her as a focus for public sentiments that might otherwise have been directed at the government. It was one of the oldest tricks of mob-management: give them a hate figure. "
- Redemption Ark, by Alastair Reynolds

Sound familiar?


Today's Washington Post, in a lengthy article titled Hardball Tactics in an Era of Threats, says that many people who support Muslims overseas are not supporters of Al Quaeda. But some are. It says that many people who express interest in the Taliban are not supporters of it. But some are. And some who do support it or Al Quaeda don't intent to act on those interests. But some do. Of those who do, some don't intend to act against the United States. But some do. And of those who do, some follow through.

Now, for class credit: boil that down into a black and white statement that would guide American law enforcement as to who they should pursue, what actions they should find acceptable in that pursuit, how tightly should they feel constrained by precedent and law, and how creative should they be in the interpretation and application of those precedents and that law?

Concisely, please. It needs to fit into a sound-bite.


One used planet. eBay. What more can I say?

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I'm not a major fan of Battlestar Galactica, but I do admire it in its current incarnation - it seems very real and very intense to me. (Oddly enough, the intensity is why I don't tend to watch it.) I came across this page of promotional photograhs done in high-resolution, and I opened one to see just how high res it was.

Three minutes later, it was done opening -- and I was looking at a near life-size image of someone', from hairline to beltline.

Good golly.

Insight, Maybe

I was just sitting in the dining room, doing the crossword puzzle while drinking tea with my wife (strong tea, 'Murrican tea, not that stuff we got in London), when I looked up and told her a thought I'd just had: If I knew why I sometimes get glum, perhaps I could fix it -- but since I never know why (more accurately, the reasons that come to mind as possible causes don't seem to be the reason) I never have to fix the condition.

So maybe I'm thinking about this the wrong way? Maybe glumness isn't amenable to resolution through rational means?

Not sure where I'm going with this...

You Brute!

I mentioned a few days ago that I'd found a product called MoneyDance, which is an inexpensive and pretty full-featured personal financial management system. We tried to make it fit into the way we do our planning and tracking, but it didn't quite work. (Think of this as a small-scale example of why Enterprise Resource Planning so often fails -- only, big time.) We were comfortable with Quicken, old and kludgy as it was. But how to make it work?

We found that we could use MD to take in the QIF file which contained all of our Quicken data, and then turn around and tell MD to create an extract -- just the last two years -- in QIF format. This was good. But when I took the extract into Quicken, the date format was junk -- it would show up as 5/30'20, not 5/30/06. I tried going into the file with Notepad, on the assumption that it was reading just the first two characters of the year, and changed them from 2006 to 06 -- but that didn't fix that apostrophe -- it still showed up as 5/30'06. If you entered the date, it was right, though.

So -- I just spent half an hour tabbing through every check, deposit, and transfer in my checking account for the last two year -- tab two to the right, backspace three characters, paste '/06', next line -- and now they're right. I hate brute force fixes -- but sometimes, its the only way.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Politics (Hold Your Nose)

On the way back from dinner tonight, my wife and I were talking about politics, centering around our dismay and disgust over the behavior of the president and his cronies. I wondered if a Democratic contender could successfully and forcefully make the Republican candidate speak to the issues, and not the chimera that the current administration likes to promote. Because if the Republican side can focus and limit the conversation to terrorism, if they can produce the kind of miasma that they did before, they have a good chance of winning. That can't be allowed to happen. Win, yes, if they really are the choice of the country. But not through deceit, trickery, and misdirection, as has been the case in the past.

I wondered if it was possible that the only person who could beat the political organization of the Republicans would be one who could out-evil them -- be nastier, fouler, more willing to go to extremes -- and if so, whether that sort of person would actually be worse than the condition we have now. Is that what it would take? Or is it possible for a decent, tough, pragmatic, honorable person to win? (I don't want to know the answer. I think I already do.)

I will say this: the administration is not flat-out wrong in what they say about terrorism. We are in a serious, long-term, protracted fight against an amorphous enemy. The militant Islamic fanatics are a great and growing evil in the world, one that is slippery and slimy and hard to detect, let alone forestall.

Are all Islamics evil? Of course not. Somewhere between a few and more-than-a-few? Yes, obviously. Its not fair that all Islamics are suspect because of the actions of a minority, but we cannot ignore the common thread in the attacks which have occurred. What we have to do is remember the possibility -- even the likelihood -- that any given Islamic fundamentalist is not evil, is not a terrorist. Hating the west in general or the US in particular does not mean you are a terrorist.

The administration wants to appear successful in controlling the terrorist threat. They are finding it much, much harder to do than they thought initially. Even statements of the nature of the threat and the amount of time it will take to eradicate it -- if it can be eradicated -- are distasteful to the worthies of the administration, because Americans don't like the idea of protracted conflict. We want short, sweet, success. They can't provide that. So, boxed in, unable to admit the truth, and desperate for success, they lie. They exaggerate the scope of the threat, linking it to external events that are not demonstratably connected. They attack their critics and ignore the content of the critics statements. The goal: to exude the fog of war over themselves, their plans, their actions, and their results, and make it appear that disagreement equals subversion. Mission accomplished.

We need regime change. We need thought. We need honest dialogue, public understanding, and unity of purpose.

None of which seem to be on the administration's agenda.


So therapy is over for another week. Must say, its going pretty well -- doing the wall-walking doesn't kill me; neither does doing the roll-the-ball-up-the-wall. I'm able to do more stretches and lifts with the weighted cane, too. In fact, I picked up a new exercise -- a tricep curl -- that was very straightforward. That last one will stick in my memory.

The reason? Ten seconds into it, an attractive blonde woman in a bright pink leotard scuttled past me to the right side of the room, then back again. She was semi-squatting down as she moved, rocking herself back and forth on the balls of her feet as she went from one side of the room to the other, back and forth, back and forth, all with a big 'yes, I know what a dork I look like' grin as she moved. After, while I was doing the arm-bike, I saw her at the other end of the room, jumping on and off a mini-trampoline, then on and off boxes, then back and forth on what had to be some kind of slider. She kept moving; never stopped except to change devices.

On the way out, I asked her how in the world she could do such crazy things so gracefully. Huffing and puffing as she jumped, she said 'I've been doing this a long time.' Very impressive, in more ways than one.

Three Day Weekend!!!!!