Monday, May 31, 2010


Quiet day planned. I hope to start a batch of sourdough starter. Maybe I'll try that chocolate cupcake recipe from Cooks Illustrated. And this afternoon, our neighbor's having a cookout.

Hope your day is pleasant.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I sometimes think I'd like to upgrade the security on our home. There's no reason, but - well, I think about it. Better locks on the doors; security for the windows on the deck, that kind of thing.

This, though -- seems a bit much.

Duke's Disease

World's Best Beach Barbecue


I don't subscribe to Time, but my mother in law does. I enjoy reading it, but I don't take it seriously. They DO. When they have an article, it's always got the Big Thoughts and the Deep Analysis, both of which will be forgotten by next week. Okay, perhaps the Thoughts will last two weeks, but that's it.

Right now, I'm reading the letters to the editor. (Do editors even look at those, I wonder?) People who write to it are frequently amazed, irate, astonished, angry, baffled. I suppose you have to have some kind of strong emotion to make the effort to write (not so much, now that email makes it easier, but still: some). I wish that I could talk to some of these people, so long as they promise not to get intense on me. For example, one guy is pleased that Specter lost, and that's his right. But the reason he's pleased is that he feels Specter supported 'expensive Big Government policies featuring mammoth debt'. Well, he did, and I don't like the thought of the debt, either. Difference is, I don't see where Obama had much alternative. I'd like to know if he does -- what, in other words, as an Obama fanboi am I not seeing that he does? But could I have such a quiet conversation? Doubt it. (And I would bet that he, and others like him, feel the same way about talking to me.) Another person says that 'Elena Kagan... should be judged not on hypothetical cases but on her accountability to the people'. What does that mean? How is a judge accountable? Not to say they shouldn't be, but how? And, how much?


When I post, I tend to write only a little bit. I am always in awe of people who can write long, langourous pieces that actually make sense, that are a pleasure to work your way through. People whom it's just fun to read -- and even when what they're writing about isn't fun, it's interesting.

She Writes is such a blog.


Okay, I'm weird. (But if you read this blog regularly, you know that.)

Its gonna be about 90 degrees out today. And I just ordered a pair of Yak Trax.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Went to see Iron Man 2. Almost no redeeming social value. Almost no character development. Lots of stuff gets blown up.

I loved it.

ET, Write Home

Articles about fixing or ameliorating static on home cordless phone systems almost always say to find the source of the static and fix that, usually a router, usually by changing its frequency.

Why can't the phone do that?



I'm really liking the La Brea Bakery book. I'm not even in the same time zone, skill wise, as this woman, but I admire her attitude toward bread and toward baking.


The whole house fan is running, pulling in some of the cool outside air before we have to button the place up for our overnight trip. I wonder, on occasion, what the cat thinks about things like that. I'm sure that, being an animal that lives in the moment, seeing me just before it goes to sleep, and then again just after it wakes up, it assumes that the two moments are contiguous, thought it might, in passing, wonder how the heck I change clothes so quickly. Then again, noticing it watching me as I get dressed, it may wonder just how I get that outer skin off at all. The last time we were away overnight, she came bounding down the stairs on our return, with a where the hell were YOU? attitude. I expect that to happen this time around, too. Years ago, I read of an author -- I think it was Ray Bradbury -- who named a collection of stories something like The Door Into Summer, because his cat was apparently amazed when a door which was last opened in the summer, onto warm breezes and greenery, wasn't opened again until the next summer. The other doors, the cat knew, led to cold, white snow and freezing temperatures, but it assuming that that door led to summer. I've always liked that image. I will occasionally say that our cat regards the door into the storage room (and hence into the garage) as The Magic Portal, because though when we go through any other door in the house, we come right back, when we go through that door, we're gone for hours. Or what passes for hours, given that she likely sleeps for most of it. Perhaps cats regard sleep the way we'd regard suspended animation for sleeper ships?

I've discovered what, for lack of a better word, I'll call a technique for making French toast. I did it accidentally the first time, intentionally this morning, and both times it was good. What happened was that I had the frying pan on for French toast, and a smaller, heavier one for sausage. Since it takes about half an hour for the sausage to cook (even if I nuke it first, though that does seem to help the center to cook more thoroughly), I had the FT pan on a low setting. The sausage was almost done when I thought to check the FT. Damn - it was barely cooked! So I kicked the pan -- its a steel one -- up to about halfway, and dumped some more butter in. Hey, presto, in a matter of moments the FT was done, and done the way we like it -- crisp on the outside, softer on the inside. Now, this was with regular sliced bread, so I don't know how it'd work with a thicker slice of, say, challah. But I'm willing to give it a shot, because the results here have been terrific.

I am not a Woman's Day reader. I don't scorn it, I just don't see anything in there for me. But this week, I was picking up the van from the body shop -- we'd found some nascent rust that we wanted to put in check -- and while I was waiting for them to total the bill (damn good thing I knew it'd be huge; with a credit card, you don't actually have to look at the amount), I picked up one from their stack of magazines. The cover said this was The Man Issue, and to prove it they had a picture of a gihugic burger with all the trimmings -- thick slab of meat, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, all of it. Okay, fine. I leafed through the index. Some very wimpy articles, like the one by the guy who is sad-face because his kids no longer think, at seven or eight, that he's as funny or indispensable as they did when they were two or three. Good god. But the one that got me was the one titled The Husband Whisperer: Tap into the inner workings of the male mind to boost your marital bliss. Now, when I see articles that purport to Explain Guys, I usually look at them, because I can always use some insight into why I do and feel what I do. Granted, those articles are normally explaining guys in their mid-twenties, but as this was Woman's Day, which I assume is aimed at pre-matron-age women, I figured the article would be talking about guys who were about ten years older -- which seemed to be the case. And the first couple of suggestions made sense to me -- say please and thank you, lead by example. And that first one included a practical tip -- touch the person when you ask, because that makes a practical, almost subliminal connection with them. I thought of how people who like to manipulate your emotions -- car salesmen, politicians -- will do that, and thought yes, that sounds right. The third was right out of Doctor Feelgood -- don't complain, but rather get them to empathize. Honey, its really hard for me to move the dumpster, could you help me? Seems a bit manipulative to me, but, okay, people do respond to straight-out requests for help, so, sure.
And then I hit number four.
Reward good behavior -- the sexier, the better
. Their expert says "Women often find men who are good husbands and fathers sexy, so the hint of an even greater reward in the bedroom will almost guarantee success". Oh, really??? Now, heck, I'm male. Someone cute asks me to do something, I'm a little more likely to say sure. But the idea that I have to be tantalized? Tricked? That doesn't sit well. But wait, perhaps I misinterpreted. "I let my husband pick from several chores I wanted to hand over, then I told him about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (sex!) that would be waiting for him if he handled that chore for the next few weeks." With that attitude, I don't care if it's the currently reigning Queen of Lust, I'm going to tell her to get bent. This woman's husband, though, falls hard for it -- and, she's amazed and delighted to report, he's still doing it, weeks later! Is it just me, or does that sound like you train a dog?

Ahem. Woman's Day? Fuck off.

The article about making the best burger was interesting, though.

Friday, May 28, 2010

After, After

Okay. The PC is operational again.

Usual song-and-curse-and-dance getting Microsoft Word operational -- got to give it the twenty four and a half digits of the registration code, doncha know, and then Activate it, oh, yaaas -- and getting Vista to recognize a printer was also fun -- 'parently Word can't, no really, it just couldn't possibly print to a printer, even if it's been defined, if no default printer has also been designated (I know, right? How dumb is that?). But that's Microshaft for you. I still need to ship backup control cards over to her PC, set up a scheduled job to copy stuff to a backup file, and once a month or so, put out something to say 'hey, insert a CD', and then transfer the backups to it. I know it's trivial. I've just never done it. And I will say that for all it could be better, that 'restore from the built-in D Drive' is kind of snappy. Even if using it does require completely wiping the C Drive of all data. Oh, the humanity!

But right now she's happy, she has a working PC on which to play show tunes from Annie, and me? I'm in the bedroom, reading Breads from the La Brea Bakery. So I'm happy, too.


My wife told me that she got up in the middle of the night -- our daughter had had a nightmare, most unusual -- and took the opportunity to come out and look at her laptop. It looked okay, so she started Windows (it had been in safe mode).

When Windows came up, the screen filled with tabs for other screens, most of which were offers to use a wonderful antivirus site (no, not Norton), and the window on top was: .

I told her she should have taken a screen print. I'd have used it for my screen wallpaper.

Post Apocalyptic

We're now in the aftermath of my daughter's PC meltdown. I am still working to configure it, and that means, among other things, getting rid of the bloatware that Dell's Asian gnomes shovel in. Some, I'm sure, started out as a good idea, but over time became a horrendous snuffling behemoth that can't even get out of its own way, let alone, actually be helpful. For example, the 'Dell Support Center', which seems to be willing to complete installation only when I bring up task manager to kill it. No kidding, twice it's apparently been hung, and when Task Manager is brought up, suddenly I get a status message. Now, as a minor geek, I know that what's probably happening is that something which was keeping it from completing just got bumped to the top, possibly as a result of the Task Manager command, but emotionally, I'm thinking that there's this dirt-encrusted rodent squeaking No Kill I !!!!

The immediate object of my ire is McAfee Security. For all I know, it's actually a decent piece of software -- after all, lots of people use it, and they're not tossing it out the window (are they?). But I despise it being shoved upon me for an eventual fee ("But its free now! " Michael Dell squeaks, in a voice remarkably like that of the Dell Support Center, "..... and not THAT much, later..."), so off it goes. Ask me if I want to download a trial; don't force it on me. Of course, no piece of software in that genre is as loathsome as Norton, and thats a good example of how making the big bucks corrupts a good idea. Time was, Norton was pretty decent stuff. You'd look at the box (yes, youngster, back then software came in actual boxes) with Peter Norton hisself on the cover, looking all bright and determined, one sleeve rolled up, and you'd think This is good stuff. And it was, until Symantec got its paws on it. Even then, I'm willing to believe that the Symantec people were decent, well intentioned folks. But they weren't in the business of keeping computers safe so much as being in the business of getting you to buy their products, and it showed. Which is why we got rid of the Nortons on all of our PCs, and buh-bye to not-free McAfee, now.

So right this minute, the PC is rebooting again, to remove (in theory, anyway) the remnants of McAfee, and then we'll go look for some other piece of crapware to remove. What, I don't know -- but I do firmly believe that I can count on Dell to have some there. A link to eBay's already gone. Anyone want to bet that there is an offer to use AOL lurking somewhere?


It's the middle of the night, and I'm reformatting a hard drive.

What happened is that my daughter managed to pick up a piece of malware, and nothing I could do in the normal course of events could get rid of it. So, we're going nuclear.

Of course, she has no backups. Some time ago, I set up an automatic job to back up her Documents folder, and it occurs to me now that perhaps it would have been a snappy idea to get that backup off her PC before doing this. Then again, considering how polluted her PC was -- get the desktop up, and all sorts of things open and close by themselves -- perhaps I wouldn't have been able to do that.

As I sit here, wondering if this will work, it makes me think again about backups, and how they ought to work. I won't go into details; any one can spin the tale of what they ought to do. I'm not talking magic and mirrors; just something better than what exists now, something that recognizes that there will be users who don't back up files, who don't schlep the PC over to where the external hard drive is to offload them.

Not that having such an external backup helps in getting back to normality. You've got to figure out how to make the system accept them, make them usable. There is no DFDSS for Windows.

Plus, her operating system is Vista. (I need say no more).

It puts me in mind of when we moved the software from my mother in laws PC to her new one. It was very difficult, and I found myself thinking, not for the first time I know we're not the first to have to do this. Why is it so difficult?

And don't say: Why, because it's Windows, of course!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Found here.


I love the way that my cat, upon being lifted off the laptop, gradually moves off in such a way that I can admire her receding butt and tail for an extended period. Truly awesome.


In August of last year, the 3 month number was 5.9, which was the best it's ever been.

In November, it was 6.6, which was about where I wanted it to be.

In February of this year, it was 7.1, which dismayed me. I started tracking it more intensely.

Just got the May 15 number.


I still don't feel as if I have a handle on this stuff -- it's the primary driver for this exercise routine -- but --

It pleases me.


Up early this morning. I actually woke up around 5, dreaming about the exercise place. Not so much about doing the exercise, as finding that I had no idea where my locker was, which was a problem, since I realized this in the middle of a shower, and that's where my towel was. Note that this place doesn't have lockers - permanent ones, anyway - or showers. Not sure what all of this says about me.

I'm guardedly looking forward to this. I think that'll last about five minutes. First time, I glanced at a clock and said that clock can't possibly be right. She said feels good to know you've been at it for fifteen minutes already, doesn't it? , whereas I was thinking Only fifteen minutes? Feels like a lot longer than that!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Planning 101

We're giving some thought to things that we might do with the French student (whose arrival is not guaranteed, but is likely to be on July 7). Looking in a circle around where we live, we're thinking -

-- Baltimore, for Inner Harbor and the Aquarium; possible side trip to Annapolis
-- Washington DC, for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and one or two others
-- Philadelphia, for Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell

We figure either of the first two can easily be a two day trip, while the third is a one day one. So that's one week's worth of events.

We're also thinking about going up to Connecticut, to attend a cookout that my wife's nephew is having, with the chance to see Mystic Seaport, including the Aquarium there. That might include taking the ferry in one direction from New London Ct to Orient Point NY, down through the vineyards of eastern Long Island, with a pass through Manhattan or the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. That's three days. I'd like to work in the Statue of Liberty, but that seems a little tough without a major detour.

We know that as she's part of the 'Discovery' group, she'll be going on some road trips with the group, and we assume that's about four days of activities.

That brings us up to about 12 days of stuff, scattered across 21 days of being here, and two or three major cities. I'd like two or three more days, not necessarily full days. I'm sure we'll do things in this area, from going to some of the state parks to visiting a local famers market. Of course, we also want to find out if there's anything that she particularly wants to see or do. (I'd love to get a gen-u-wine cheese steak in Philly, but I'm not sure it'd be fair to inflict that on her. On the other hand, I understand some kids desperately wanted, of all things, a New York City hot dog. Go figure. Possibly so they can go home and say You would not believe what those people eat!)

And we've got to figure out some logistics.

But that's the plan. Revision 1.

Pie Eyed

I find this curiously captivating.


After that fellow left last night, I told my wife that she was so wound up, she'd be in tears when this girl leaves. No, she said, it's only three weeks. I'll be sad, but not that much. If she was coming for an entire year, then I'd be in trouble. It'd be hard to let her go.

I think she is underestimating her capacity for emotion.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


We've Had The Interview, and we think we passed. He has to call our references, and then tell his boss, who makes the final decision (but since they're short of local folks, and we're apparently normal, I think we're cool), at which point we can contact the family directly.

He told us the things that the girl isn't allowed to do -- she can't use a firearm! -- and the things she does have to do, such as clean her own room -- at which point, we looked pointedly at our daughter. And he said that we didn't have to keep her entertained every day, which is good. We mentioned taking her to see a major league ball game, the Baltimore Aquarium, DC, the Liberty Bell, things like that, and he seemed to feel that would be pretty awesome. And if we go up to Connecticut, perhaps we can cruise through New York, see the Statue of Liberty. Maybe.

My wife admitted to thinking of the guest bedroom (formerly 'my mother's room') as 'Eloïse's room', and said she knew that was premature. I didn't admit that I kind of liked the idea.

Oh, and my daughter got a stripe on her orange belt, which means she is one step closer to her blue belt. This is goodness.

Bobby, We Hardly Know Ye

The FireDogLake site (which I'm going to guess is rabidly liberal), mocks Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, for saying these two things --

In the end, it comes down to an honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government. We oppose the national Democrats’ view that says the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government. We believe the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington and empower individuals and small businesses to grow our economy and create jobs.


“We have been frustrated with the disjointed effort to date that has too often meant too little, too late to stop the oil from hitting our coast,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said during a Monday news conference at Port Fourchon with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “BP is the responsible party, but we need the federal government to make sure they are held accountable and that they are indeed responsible. Our way of life depends on it,” Jindal said.

Now, I'm not one to defend Bobby Jindal, who strikes me as a bit of a maniac (though not nearly as much of one as others on his side of the chasm, I mean, aisle), but I don't think those two statements contradict each other. To me, it sounds like he's saying that he's in favor of a smaller federal government and a more robust private enterprise effort, generally -- but that there are things that a federal government is required for, and this is one.

Just my guess, of course.

I Would Have Posted Sooner, But....

Mown Down

It's getting warm out there. I was mowing the front lawn, and for the first time ever I felt the need to have a bottle of water with me -- and I drank about a third of it. Hence, my great insight -- push mowers, like rider mowers, need a drink holder. Wonder how hard it would be to cobble one together?

Must say, I didn't enjoy the exercise this morning -- felt very lumpish, and was amazed when I couldn't even lift a light weight at one point -- but I'm glad I did it. I think this is going to work out. No pun intended.

Is It Soup Yet?

Apparently, if you search for web sites with the name 'soup' in it, you have to be careful.....


The sole -- well, sole immediate --benefit from going to work out this morning with my trainer was seeing guys obviously wondering How the hell does someone who looks like HIM get someone who looks like HER to hang out with him?

She tells me I won't ache today, but I will tomorrow. Got news on that...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why I Love Bureaucrats

According to an article in Funny Times, a teacher in an Indiana school suspended a girl for five days for refusing a drug offered by another student. He gave it to her, she handed it back, and said she didn't want it. The teacher said that the suspension was required 'because she touched it'. And, you know, rules is rules.


It's probably silly to note this in a medium which exists just for my own blathering, but I will, anyway: this particular post may seem excessively self-indulgent. I am feeling a little bit stressed, and -- since the ice cream cone that I ate not only did not ameliorate that but actually added to it -- I'm writing. Writing usually makes me feel better. I think it's because you can control what comes out when you write, and control is what I'm looking for, right now.

The ice cream cone. We tend to get some from the supermarket. They're not particularly good. We get the best that I can find there, but I'm never really happy with them. For one, the ice cream itself isn't particularly tasty; for another, it is encased in a hard chocolate shell that you have to crack, scattering crumbs everywhere. Seems silly and wasteful to me. For a while, I looked for ice cream sandwiches, but they're not much better. They don't have that shell, but the whatever-it-is that makes up the sandwich tends to be very, very soft, rubbing off easily on your fingers, and from there to whatever you touch. I know, problems of the idle rich.

Last night, we were going to make a pork tenderloin for dinner. I'm not a big fan of pork, but I've been trying to expand the range of what I eat. My wife asked me not to get it when I got the groceries on Thursday, as she wanted it to 'be fresh' (I suppose it's possible that something you buy on Sunday is fresher, but I tend to assume that just means that it spent three more days in their chiller). As it turned out, with her work schedule, we didn't get it, so the choice was to either go out or get a pizza delivered. We chose going to Outback restaurant. I used to like that place; this time, it seemed noisy and cheap. I found myself annoyed that I had a clear sightline to a person in the next booth as they masticated intently, for example. (Ever notice that some old people eat furiously, like they're afraid you're going to take it away? Don't get your hand anywhere near their mouths.) When our meal finally arrived, the server announced it by saying This is a hot plate!, which would have been okay if she'd clearly been talking about our meal, and not to one of the the immediate five tables. Then, as it turned out, my steak was inadequately cooked, so I got to wait and watch my wife and daughter eat - then they got to watch me eat. Afterwards, my wife and I both got to watch my daughter devour a gooey dessert. I used to like gooey desserts; now, something simple, well prepared, is much more preferable. And much less likely to be found.

Made the mistake of looking at my 401(k)s today. Holy hell. What's going on there?

Sometimes I think about getting something like an iPod. Note that I say 'something like'. I would like something that's more easily portable than this laptop, and I'd really like something with a much more intuitive interface for Blogger. Off-line editing, real-time spell check, that sort of thing. Does the iPood have it? Likely not, but that's the tech world's current point of lust, so that's my point of reference. This morning, I tried to address a question that my wife had about macros in Excel 2007 under Vista, and I just couldn't. Part of it was that her laptop works differently than mine -- for one, little things, like the touch-pad scroll moves way more slowly than I like; for another, she's got that damn 2007 ribbon, which I think sucks big-time. Bottom line was, I couldn't help her. I hate when that happens.

I find myself apprehensive about this kid that's coming. I want her to like her stay. Charming as of course we all are, that won't be enough. And, oh, most of the trips, at least in the area, will likely be me, her, and my daughter -- and sometimes just me and her. I don't expect us to establish a lifelong bond, but I hope we get along. Everyone's had the experience of visiting someone and feeling that they stayed too long. I don't want her to have that experience.

I need to feel smart right now. Feeling smart makes me feel in control. (I know: what?) Reading that book tomorrow will help. Oh, what am I reading right now? Um...Funny Times. And a Star Trek novel.

Um - Say What?

I knew we were going to have to find things to do with the french student, and that's okay. But I just read a summary of some things that families did. It's not so much we did stuff on Monday and then on Wednesday we did two things and then on Friday we did something. It's more like We did stuff on Monday morning nd then just before lunch we went swimming in their pool and then right after lunch we went out on their boat and we spent time on their JetSkis and then we went riding on their ATVs and then we went to New York and tramped all around it and then on Tuesday ....

OMG. We're not hyperactive people. We don't have a bunch of toys. We don't live in an exciting area. We don't have a lot of money to get to an exciting area, or to use a bunch of toys. How boring are we? I had to think for about 10 minutes to come up with 8 things to do. What is there to do in DC, anyway? Or Philly? Or...

I know, just being here will be pretty neat, and this isn't intended to be a Nonstop Fun Fest, but still: this kid might be seriously disappointed.


Mostly,that's due to the weather, which is overcast, drizzling, and slightly humid. Just poifect.

Though there might be one or two others things...

At breakfast, I was going over the Sunday papers. To my everlasting astonishment, not, I found an article saying that the Senators who are on the panel that is processing the proposed regulations for the financial industry are themselves receiving tons of donations from that very same industry. The article said that the industry is trying to call in years of chits, all at once. Oh, no fear of problems there. Those stalwart representatives of the people know just what to do. Well, perhaps they aren't sure how far to genuflect or bow in their masters' presence, but other than that... Campaign finance reform? What kind of wimps want that?

Also saw an article saying that Europe is finding its cradle to grave social net increasingly hard to maintain as its population ages and their corresponding taxable earning power drops. I wonder how much of that is in our future? Article points out that they've had the advantage of not having to fund a military, thanks to NATO. I suppose gradual reductions in our forces there give them delight, too.

On the way in, my daughter noted that this summer she's a) taking color guard, b) taking Karate, c) taking an SAT prep class, d) taking a drivers prep class, and e) signing up for a Tai Chi class (I'd recommended she ask her Karate instructor, who came up with one). At least the color guard stuff will, for the most part, be switched to daytime activities, and the drivers prep and SAT prep classes are just one month. Still - that's a lot. Plus, you know -- that French girl. And band camp. And -- why do I suddenly feel as if it's September already? Not that time flies, but...the other day, she mentioned wanting to attend a presentation by a fellow who would talk about getting into the military academies. Well, you can certainly go to the presentation, I said, but your grades are nowhere near good enough to actually get into an academy. They're looking for kids with mostly As, some Bs, and obvious success in extracurricular activities. Top of the class-type people, people with extraordinary achievements. She looked at me in dismay. I tried hard not to say what I was thinking.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


It's not often that I hear about a book and immediately order it. Certainly, not in hardback.

I've learned the hard way that even if I'm fascinated with a book, I'm not likely to immediately get to it -- and by the time I do, it'll be out in paperback, and I've just paid fifteen dollars extra for the privilege of having it gather dust on my bookshelf. So I write them in a little database, and eventually I get around to it -- or at least, seeing if it's available in the library. Amazing how often that the book turns out to be not so great, once I get my mitts on it.

I'm thinking that This Time Is Different is different. Global finance? Long range view? Caution coupled with insight? What's not to like?

It arrives on Wednesday.

Thoughts and Observations

This morning, I put a political observation on Facebook. It's not wildly political -- I just wondered if any of the hotheads who scream about change have actual ideas about how they'd fix things; no use of 'then a miracle occurred' solutions, like saying 'well, we ought to cut all taxes, because everyone knows that works...', because everyone doesn't know, and some, perhaps many, vehemently oppose the concept -- but it's something I don't tend to do. I was prompted to do it when Facebook gave me a 'friend suggestion', which I accepted, which turned out to be not the same as a 'friend request', but rather Facebook thinking that I ought to send a friend request to this person. I'm not terribly sorry that I did, but I was a little dismayed when I realized that the person whom I requested the link to, someone I used to work with, is one of the people who believes that we ought to take back our country, or at least this state. Say what you will about letting people feel as they do, I think that that sort of talk has gone way too far, and -- as before -- I don't see any countervailing groups with slogans such as 'No, Actually, We Should Keep Our Mitts Off Things We Don't Understand'. I like to say that there are good ideas on both sides, and I do think that. I don't mention when I say that that I'm more liberal than conservative, so the likelihood is that I think the bulk of the good ideas are on this side of the aisle, because I really do think that the people on the other side have decent ideas, too. I am usually reluctant to give them much credit only because the hotheads on that side scare me; they strike me as people who can't be talked to, let alone reasoned with. I think that such a discussion, if it ever started, would degenerate very quickly into shouting, with chants of 'why do you hate America' and things like that. I don't want to get involve with bigots and maniacs. On the other hand, the distilled version of some of what they say actually sounds good to me -- ideas such as why does government have to be so big; it costs way too much and tends to be way too intrusive sound right, even when they trigger thoughts of 'well, yeah, but only big government can do some things that need to be done ...'. So when people like that talk, I at least try to hear what they're saying, try to extract the parts that are on the periphery of what I think -- the things that, left to myself, wouldn't occur to me. I think this is a liberal failing -- I doubt that people who are as conservative as I am liberal tend to spend much time thinking well, you know, that Rachel Maddow, she's a crackpot but she does make a good point.

Of course, underlying all of that is my assumption that political conundrums can be rationally resolved. That's likely not true.

The priest this morning talked about a kid who had killed himself, which is a shocking image to me. He said that most people have no idea what is in the heart of other people; what pains they live with, what they fear, what they want most. I believe that to be true. I've occasionally done things or thought things and had the sense of man, I hope nobody ever finds out about that. (I wonder sometimes about those motivations -- why do we do things that we're ashamed of? I suppose it could be said that the act itself isn't bad, its the shame. Sometimes, I think thats true. But sometimes, perhaps most times, its not. Most times, it's the thing itself. ) Thinking about hidden thoughts and motivations, I remembered a woman I had known for quite some time, the one I've mentioned who died of cancer several years ago. Her death didn't devastate me, but I was very unhappy about it -- in fact, on the last day I saw her, I left the hospital, went out to the rental car, and just cried for a while. I think it was because there was something about her that had touched me, something I liked a lot, and I was desolate at the thought of losing that. There were times when she was alive when I'd muse: if the chance arose to have sex with her, would I do it? My conclusion (after some amount of juicy imagining; amazing how suave and seductive my subconcious can be) was that no, I wouldn't. It wouldn't have been because I didn't want to, because I did want to. It would have been, instead, because if someone found out -- in particular, my wife -- it'd have done serious damage to our marriage, and that was something that I could not live with. The marriage was and is supremely important to me, so even something as delightful -- at least, in my imagining -- as sex with that woman just wouldn't have been worth the risk. But what if I knew absolutely that no one would have found out? Would I have done it? Probably good that I didn't ever have the opportunity to find out.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Lifted verbatim from Daily Kos, 'cos I like it:

Why do Democrats do such a piss poor job of standing by and talking up their own accomplishments. The Republicans have no problem sticking to even ridiculous talking points like death panels and accusations of fascism. But the democrats can't even show a chart of the actual national debt for and spending by President Bush vs. President Obama, a chart of the stock market, or a chart of monthly job losses since the recession started, in 2007. Every month, the number of jobs losses had been going up, higher and higher, month after month until a few months into Obama's term when the taxcuts and the stimulus were implemente into law. Since then, the job loss number have been steadily going down, month after month, at nearly the exact same rate they went up. Right till this month when job losses stopped completely, and the economy has finally started to add new jobs again. The dow jones was at 6000 a year ago. Now, a year after the bailouts that successfully saved key industries, including the entire US auto industry, on the verge of failure, the dow is back up to 11,000. And companies have started reporting profits and have started hiring again. The stimulus paved the way for the recovery.


Ah, the old stompin' ground.....

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Commish

Damn. I might vote for him. At least, I'd think about it.

...though I'm not entirely sure about the "Republicans being better than that" part.


Apparently, the Red Cross hasn't quite updated OUR procedures yet. Fortunately, the British are handling it. And then some.

Super Sexy CPR on Vimeo.


I was in the school library with my mento, who is furiously trying to finish some projects. I don't have high hopes for that. I told my daughter that if he flunks, I likely won't do mentoring next year, as it will be clear I didn't help.

While I waited, I talked to a girl who'd talked with him. She was grabbing some books. Interesting titles, I said. She shrugged. I don't know what they're about, she said, but I thought I'd try anyway. Well, I replied, the first one is about PTSD, which stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the second is about Toxic Shock Syndrome. Do you know what those are? She didn't. Would you like me to give you a thirty second summary of each? She did, so I did.

She put the books back. Not the reaction I was hoping for. Then again, considering that my explanation of the second one started with You know what a tampon is, right?, I probably got off lucky.

Like I said....not helping.

Fried Day

It's hot. I just went out to do the mowing while it was still cool, and found that the temp was already just below 80. It'll be fun lugging the groceries this afternoon.

I must be psyched about this exchange-student thing -- I dreamt about it last night. My wife said that the site tells the kids that they have to, essentially, go with the flow about how the host family does things, but they tell the family that the French like to eat a light breakfast and have a large lunch, as well as have a pitcher of water on the table. No big deal. I imagine both sides end up saying Can you believe what those people eat? We figured we'd bring her to a local store that has imported stuff to see if there's anything there she'd like us to get. If my brief sojourn in Australia is any clue, she'll say You pay HOW much for that, here? Not to mention How much is that in real money?

Travel is an interesting thing. I like to say that our idea of roughing it is slow room service. That's more true than not -- we're certainly not Kampgrounds of America candidates -- but we're not that effete. We're not that heavily traveled, either. I was not too surprised when the student who worked the polls with us mentioned having been to France and Germany, but when two of the other workers started to talk about their trips to Tanzania, England, Peru, Iceland, and other distant points, I was a little bedazzled. I honestly don't care about most of that, though I would like to see some of the Scandinavian countries. And, of course, Australia, and New Zealand. Those are all in the same general part of the world, I think.

I am curious about how these people fund this stuff. One woman said that 'her daughter picked France this year, so they're going back again (!!!) while her son picked China for next year'. Perhaps they're just better at saving money in other ways....or maybe they're just wealthy.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Par Lez Voose

In less than a week, we've gone from vaguely hearing about a meeting for some kind of organization that arranges for a French teen to live with an area family for three weeks to planning to meet the guy who runs it so we can put in dibs on one girl. She looks great on her application. Okay, that's what you do on applications, but still. We're already thinking of things we can show her, places we can take her. It'd be so cool....

Hope we get her.

One Thousand And One, One Thousand....

Huh. According to my daughter (and a quick web search), there's an underground theory that stops at a stop sign must be for 3 or more seconds.

But nobody seems able to prove it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


What's so odd about that?


It's his birthday.

Onion Peels

Interesting interview in the New York Times with the fellow who's CEO of The Onion. It's not a funny article, which is okay, because he says up front that he's not a funny guy. I liked it. Well, all but the part about not being smart enough to figure out the system. Just a personal quirk, because, after all, that describes me. But the article's worth reading.


This is the person I've engaged as a trainer.

She's 40 years old.

No kidding.


A classical music station from Philadelpia is doing a fund drive. Okay, fine. They tend to play music I like, so, sure. I donated a little bit.

Damn good thing for them that they weren't playing the opera they're doing right this minute.


I was thinking about lying, this morning. I didn't come to any great conclusions. No lie.

Arlen Specter admitted that he changed parties to enhance his reelection chances. His politics had grown closer to the Democrats than the Republicans, but that wasn't the reason he incautiously gave. Perhaps, if he'd lied, he'd still be in the running.

A scientific organization wanted to bury 'carbon sequestration' under a town. After a local campaign against the idea -- this is our town, one woman said. We live here. They don't. They never will -- the organization dropped the idea, citing business considerations. I know what that sounds like to me.

I'm not wealthy, or well-connected, so the odds of ever getting the chance to talk directly to the President -- I'd have said 'and privately', but that doesn't matter so much -- are minimal -- but I know, I know -- that if I do, he won't be straight with me. He'll lie, working in themes that he wants to reinforce, using flagwords and hot-button references, pushing his own goals instead of listening, and then saying what he'd say if I was someone he trusted.

And I think that's where lying comes from. Not just a lack of trust, for sure - arrogance, belief that the cause overrides the methods, larcenous goals -- that's part of it. But I think it starts with a lack of trust. On both sides. Trust that I won't punish you for honesty. (Arlen?) Trust that you won't hold it against me. Trust that you'll 'respect me in the morning'. Our parish priest said the other day that if we knew his own sins, we'd never trust him to give us Communion. I know that there are things about me that would startle and dismay others, so I'm careful about exposing that part of me. I don't trust people enough to tell them.

I think that the people with greater power, greater visibility are more to blame, when it comes to lack of trust in the political environment. And I don't know what can be done about it. I've never liked the phrase 'speaking truth to power', because it sounds backwards. It ought to be 'speaking truth from power'. Not that that's likely to happen any time soon.

Trust me on this.


Well, I'm here. And I think I'm alive. Get back to you on that.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Well, I met with the woman who's going to help me with an exercise program.

The good news is, I believe that together we can get good results from the exercises. She has a number of ideas about cardio training and weight training, and she'll work with me to get me going on them. All that is goodness. I think it will at times be difficult, but I also think it's doable.

The bad news is, she's a strong believer in a) the theory of multiple small meals --5 or six a day, and b) eating all sorts of things that I regard as strange. The first, I can at least understand, though some quick reading suggests that more than a few people think it's more of a fad concept than a solid one. I can't even remember the names she rattled off, though there was frequent mention of protein shakes and "Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9". This unnerves me. She basically thinks that I need to 'restart my metabolism', and along the way start eating much, much healthier. It certainly works for her, and I'm willing to believe that it might work for me. I just don't know if I can bring myself to do it. Heck, even when she mentioned foods that I recognized, like brown rice and cottage cheese, I shuddered a bit.

I just don't know what it will do to the results if I don't do that part. I know what I'd tell someone else -- try it for a while -- but me? That's another story.

Tomorrow, I get to be the judge of elections, which is actually fun of a sort (much more fun when it's busy; it's an off-election, and its supposed to rain, so guess what). Don't expect to hear from me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I wouldn't mind living in Seattle anyway, but this is good reason all by itself.

Later That Same Day

I just had what could almost be called a political argument with my wife. It wasn't an argument, but it could have been.

What happened was this. I was reading the New York Times article about that fellow who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square. Oh, this is nice, I said sarcastically. This guy apparently told people that he recognized that Islam prohibits the killing of innocents, but he came to the conclusion that in this case it was okay to do it anyway. Gee, I mused, would it be okay then if we were to say that decency prohibits us from, say, bombing Pakistan back to the stone age, but in this case it would be okay? She looked at me. You know that's not right, she said. Are you saying that because they're wrong, that excuses us doing exactly the same thing? No, I replied, just saying that I'm getting damned tired of individuals deciding that their view of the world allows them to slaughter our people. We've got the power to smash that hotbed of radicalism, and sometimes I wonder why we don't just stomp them all the hell out. The right thing is what we're doing, she continued; Selectively targeting those who promote that attitude of terrorism. Yeah, I said. And kill just one person that they didn't like having killed, and suddenly it's okay for them to blow up whatever they want. It's okay for them, but not for us? Exactly, she said.

I know she's right, but still.... The moral high ground can be a bleak and rocky place, can't it?

Verizon Stupidity

I can't send an email with a link to this restaurant. OMG. Apparenly, it may look like a restaurant site, but it's actually spam -- and here's what Verizon has to say about that:

What does it mean if I get an error message that indicates that I sent spam?
The error message is intended to notify you that a message you attempted to send was blocked because it was determined to be spam. It also provides you with a link to this FAQ page for more information.

What should I do if I receive a spam notification message when I attempt to send email?
Sending spam from the domain is prohibited by the Acceptable Use Policy

If you feel we identified your email in error, you may forward the suspected email message as an attachment to . The message will be examined by third party anti-spam experts. If the message is found to be legitimate, Verizon is notified to adjust or modify the spam filter which caught your message. You will not receive any notification following the review process.

How does Verizon determine whether my E-mail is SPAM?
Verizon uses a third party vendor to scan email messages for spam. Their systems use a combination of proprietary anti-spam techniques and spam complaints sent from users across the Internet to create spam filters. The false positive rate is very low.

Can I opt out of SPAM scanning?
No. Every message sent from the domain is scanned in order to reduce overall spam volumes on the Internet. This policy benefits you by reducing the likelihood that an email message you send will be blocked by the receiving service provider.

I particularly like that last line. On the off chance that someone else will mistake your email for spam, we'll stop it before it gets to them. We got this idea from the people who make you watch antipiracy notices on the DVD you legitimately paid for. We think its pretty neat, and we don't care what you think. After all - we're The Phone Company!


I do truly love having a lot to read. It shouldn't be things that I have to read, or things that are just tedious, for whatever reason -- that one science fiction book that I once again put back on the bookshelf, thats on, I think, the fourth, possibly fifth attempt to read, for example; I find myself thinking But I like this author! Why can't I get through this book? But so long as the reading doesn't fit those criteria, I'm happy. Right now, for example, I have The Economist (why does Nick Clegg look like he's thinking dammit, it should have been me? And how amazing is it that I actually know his name?), Technology Review, a casual 'magazine' from the local college (mostly, it's look what wonderful things we're doing, but I don't mind, because, generally speaking, I like the school, even if it is intensely Christian), The Sunday New York Times, and The Sunday Washington Post. Yes, even though we have the digital Post, which I downloaded this morning before leaving for church, we still got the paper. There's just a satisfaction in feeling the heft of the paper that the digital one can't give. (Could it ever? I suppose to those who drool over the iPood, sure. You like, or at least tolerate, what you grew up with.)

I forgot to mention, in my summary of magazines the other day, that we get Discover, too. It was a we're selling subscriptions for school thing. It's okay. Wish it was a little more high density, though the medical article's usually interesting.

Church wasn't much fun. Okay, it never really is -- have I mentioned that I don't enjoy the experience, and am amazed that there are people -- I'm married to one -- who do? -- but today was worse. The priest I fondly call Fast Willie ( I think he wants to get back to the rectory and bed) took his time with the homily, and I swear he made up a few extra prayers along the way. Plus, there was this guy standing behind us who was a True Believer, and would boom out all of his responses. I did consider turning and saying Dial it back, dude!, but I didn't. And then they had a seminarian come to tell us how wonderful it was to be in the seminary, and how your contributions make it possible.... yeah, yeah, yeah. Got it. I'm just not a religious guy. Though I did find myself mulling over the idea of reincarnation, for some reason. I'd seen a cartoon yesterday where a guy, an infant, is thinking Well, it looks like I'm back, got a chance to do things right this time... last time, I made a ton of money but got some things seriously wrong...this time, I HAVE to remember: on a golf swing, keep your head down! I like the idea of reincarnation. It makes sense to me. But what occurred to me was that I always assumed that when (if?) you're reincarnated, that reincarnation happens in some year after you die -- ie, you die in 2010, you get reincarnated some year after that. But if there really is something to this all-powerful God thing, whats to say you couldn't get reincarnated five hundred years ago? Or even, at the same time? Hmmm.....

I hear that BP's new slogan is BP: Bringing Oil To America's Shores.

Made caffeinated coffee this morning, so that my daughter could have some -- she expressed surprise that coffee doesn't always wake her up, and I said well, kiddo, we usually make decaf so that your mother can have some, too; that doesn't tend to have the punch of the leaded stuff. (When I went to GM several years ago to help with a transition, I thought it funny that they referred to caffeinated and decaf as leaded and unleaded. ) I promised to make some caffeinated, and I did. No, thanks, Dad, don't want any. Um. Okay. Anyone want half a pot of coffee?

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Chaotic, and then some.

Bring the daughter to a friends house. Didn't you say we would be there at 8:15? It's only a quarter to eight. It's okay, she'll be ready. She wasn't. Wait. Drop them off at the yard sale. Head out to the election office, realize that I need gas. Turn around and go in the other direction, which is where the only gas stations in the area are. Fill up, head back out. About a third of the way there, my daughter calls. Did I leave my wallet in the car? I need it to go to the mall. Turn around, go past the college which just happens to be holding commencement today, with many, many cars getting off the highway, and the town cop casually watching as they stop, blocking the intersection. Drop off the wallet. Head back to the election offices, find that they're seriously tearing up the road, so I get to follow construction equipment and dodge around torn-up roads. Get the stuff -- quickly; amazing, given how the day is going -- head home, in time to encounter those construction vehicles going the other way.

Good thing it's a pretty day.

Pending Chaos

The next couple of days will be a little chaotic, and a little stressful, I think. (I initially wrote that as 'stressfun'. Would that it were!)

Today I go out to pick up the election materials -- forms, flags, signs, and mailed-in votes. In itself, no big deal, but it serves as a reminder that The Day is coming. Right about now, every election, is when I think well, you know, this is fun, but its not THAT much fun, maybe after this term of office, you should quit. Not sure if I'd feel differently if it wasn't such a damn long day, Election Day.

On Monday, the woman who's going to work with me on exercise starts. I have no idea what to expect, but I don't think I'm going to like it.

Tuesday, up at 515, to the polling place by 545, post the signs, unlock the place, all of that fun all day, then lock up at 8, tally the votes, fill out the many, many forms, drive out to the elections office, get back home and to bed around 10:30.

Wednesday, up early to get a fasting blood test, and then over to the hospital to meet with a user around 2.

Thursday, meet with my mento.

I don't think there's anything on Friday!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Today, while I was with my mento, I noticed one of the other mentors, a cop, just wandering around. I asked if he'd lost his mento, and offered to let him take mine. He laughed and said that they'd started a program where the cops occasionally wander through the schools. When I told my daughter, she said that she "wasn't surprised, after those twelve eighth graders got busted for pot at that school."



This morning, at the breakfast table, we asked our daughter if she needed anything.

A little more sleep? she asked. No, sorry, we replied, got to get ready for school.

An in-house masseur? Hmm.....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Feeling a little tense tonight; not sure why. Nothing's wrong...exactly.

Okay, tomorrow I have to visit the dentist's for a cleaning, and I always feel guilty (Did you floss like you said you would, last time? Yes... most days. Only once a day? Tsk, tsk.) The election's next week, which means up at 515, not back to bed till around 1015 that night -- and the next day I have an appointment at 7:30 for a blood test (I scheduled it for that day -- how bright was that?). I really hope the A1C's number's gone down -- last three have trended up, and I've had a hell of a time controlling it -- which is part of the motivation for starting this exercise routine, which I'm also not looking forward to. I know exercise is a good thing. Doesn't mean I have to like it. I also know that exercise alone doesn't lose weight. Feh.

Nothing's wrong...just some nerve-jangling stuff. I could use about four hours of watching Eureka, I think. And to knock off being a wimp!


I wish I could remember what science fiction story it was that I read about thirty years ago that was set in the cloisters of New York. I keep remembering one scene...and just that one. And nothing else about it.


I don't read a lot of magazines. I used to, then, when we were trying to conserve funds, I backed off a lot. Now I just read three -- The Economist, MIT Technology Review, and Popular Science. The Economist for a broad view of what's happening in the world, and their occasional pieces on interesting topics; Tech Review for, well, technology (their pieces on society and politics tend to be lame, but the tech's usually good); and Popular Science because that's the level my mind works at. Oh, and Real Simple, which is pretty good even if I'm not in it's target gender.

I'd like two or three more.

Something that talks more about the biological sciences, at a more-than-I am Joes Left Nostril but less than New England Journal of Medicine level. One that assumes, say, that you vaguely remember what an allele is.

One with an intelligent but not mind-numbing depth on economics. For people who do know what the invisible hand is, whether or not they believe in it.

One on politics. Not politicians, more like 'how does the political process work'. Sociology? Maybe.

That sort of thing.

Yeah. Good luck finding them, 'specially around here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


For some reason, I have this urge to find a copy of Stand on Zanzibar and read it again.


I really like the Eureka series. We're capturing the reruns on Tivo, and it's fun to just see the enthusiasm and yeah, we can do that attitude, all over again.

Okay, the plotting and the characterizations could use some work, sure. This is a town full of geniuses -- geniuii? -- yet whenever someone needs to come up with the day-saving concept -- what if we just, you know, fired up the emitter again, only this time we balanced the beams instead of pulsing them?-- it's almost certainly going to be the sheriff, which is kind of implausible. Hey, I listen! he'll say, defensively. And every so often another character will say you know, you're a lot smarter than you look. Um, yeah. But balance the beams smarter? Doubt it.

And then there's Henry, who is the guy who always knows the answer, or knows a large part of the answer, or knows just who can make something work -- at least, the theory; Henry himself can always make it work. He's the NCIS-Abby character, the one who can do it all. Genetics? M-space physics? Radio telemetry? Aquatic biology? Holographic imaging? Henry's on the case. Hey, you know, this guy used to work on the Space Shuttle, so you know he's smart. But, um, that smart? Well....

And they've gotten rid of some great characters, didn't develop others. Why don't they have AI systems anyplace but the sheriff's house and Fargo's car? I'm sure they're there, but where? And why is the head of Global Dynamics always down there in the pit, doing day to day stuff instead of big picture high concept? And tell me more about Section Five. For that matter, tell me more about Sections One, Two, Three, and Four! I suspect that's not gonna happen, and I'd like to see it happen. I think it'd be a better show.

But it doesn't matter. I love that place. You can have Disneyland. I want Eureka.


One of the nice things about having a blog, and even more about having one with a limited readership, is that you can write about things that are really, really dull without the concern that perhaps you are boring your readers. Mine expect little -- oh, look, no typos! Well, no MAJOR typos....-- for which I am grateful. And every so often, I get the most interesting responses. In fact, there are times that I think that the responses are the best part.

I have taken the first minor step for this exercise program. The woman whom I'm hiring to do it asked me to document my goals, meds, resting heart rate, weight, and foods eaten for several days. I just sent her off the email. Assuming she doesn't conclude that no amount of money is worth this, we'll see what happens next. At least some of the stuff will happen here at the house; there's also the possibility of doing some stuff at a local gym which has a very relaxed attitude -- they explicitly do not allow members who are what my wife and I call 'grunt buddies'.

Daughter wants a saber (no, not a real one) for color guard. We say practice your rifle spins -- remember how tense you got last year when you weren't selected to be in the entire show? No, she denied, she wasn't tense. Ah-hah. Guess crying on the way home doesn't count. We said practice for two weeks solid, and we'll get the saber. She wants it NOW. Not gonna happen. At least, not that way.

We've found my mother on our minds recently. Not overwhelmingly, just -- missing her a bit.

Damn cat is walking on the keyboard again. Last week she learned what happens if she steps on the power button.

Raining again. Oh, joy

Sunday, May 09, 2010


This's what we had for dinner. I think it's seriously awesome.

Chicken with Peaches

1 lb chicken
8 oz peaches in syrup
1/8 cup frozen orange juice,thawed
1/8 cup malt vinegar
brown sugar
basil leaves

Cut 1 lb chicken into bite-sized pieces.
In skillet, brown chicken in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Drain peaches; reserve syrup

Combine reserved syrup with
1/8 cup frozen orange juice (thawed),
1/8 cup malt vinegar,
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar,
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves,
1/4 tsp salt,
1/8 tsp ground cloves,
1/8 tsp cinnamon,
1/8 tsp pepper
Pour mixture over browned chicken
Cover; simmer 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked
Add peaches; heat.

Combine 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon water
Stir cornstarch mixture into chicken and sauce mixture; heat, stirring until thickened
Serve with rice


I just read something in GReader from a blog I liked to look at. I was taken by this person's comments, and wanted to respond, but they'd deleted the blog entry. No problem, I thought, I'll just respond to a different post -- and then thought when I delete something, it is occasionally because I DIDN'T WANT responses. Or even to talk publicly about it.

Oh, yeah.

...Phone Home?

From PhD Comics


We ordered from Crate and Barrel, and afterward got an email saying Thanks for the order, and if there's anything we can do to make things even better, let us know. Okay. So I clicked on it -- because they screwed up in a minor way -- and what I got was here's a form to fill out with your name and address and all of that.

Couldn't even autofill whom I am, given that they obviously knew? Oh, yeah, that sounds like they really want to help.


Dishwasher Politics

In our dishwaster, there is a removable compartment with eight sections. That's where we put the silverware -- or I suppose I ought to call it the 'tableware', as there isn't a speck of silver in it, and calling it 'beat up stainless steel ware' sounds so droll.

In the first section, I always put the teaspoons. The next one can't be the soup spoons, to my mind, because the risk of grabbing some from there when I'm taking out the teaspoons is too great. You end up having to individually pull the soup spoons out of the cluster of teaspoons and putting them in the right section in the silverware -- or the 'ware -- drawer. Keeping them separate just makes sense. Saves time. Keeps things orderly.

Not to my wife. She'll happily put the soup spoons right next to the teaspoons, and when she puts them away, she's just careful to only grab one section of spoons at a time. She's willing to take that effort so that she can have the freedom to put them wherever she wants. And if she has to slow down to pick misplaced things out, she will.

Neither of us are libertarians, who'd likely say 'put the damn things all together, so you have to take ten seconds to hunt through the stack when you want something, so what?'

Sometimes -- especially as I'm mulling over the tea party stuff in Utah -- this dishwasher sorting method sounds like an analogy of political stereotypes. At least, to me. Order now, or order later? Order at all, or sort the 'ware as you need it? In other words, what looks reasonable and desirable to me doesn't necessarily look so to someone else. Someone reasonable, in their own right. Like many -- not all, but many -- of the tea party people's main principles. They're not wrong in wanting less debt, smaller government. Where they're wrong is in thinking that we can live that way in this world, where it takes time and money to defend ourselves. As for their attitudes regarding social programs -- well, I can see that, somewhat. It costs a lot. But I think that first I'd like to see some of them voluntarily live without that social net. I'd also like to see them sign a pledge not to use any of the expanded health benefit coverage.

Then we can talk. In the meantime, I'll be over here, loading the dishwasher.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


It's a little disconcerting when you get out the ingredients to make a stromboli, only to discover that instead of pizza dough, what you actually picked up was Grands cinnamon biscuits.

Guess I'll be making some dough in the next couple of days, and having the stromboli then.

Yeah, It's An Ad

But still....

Charmin', Garmin

I just did a software update on my Garmin Nuvi GPS. Got this message as part of that:

  1. Disconnect your device from your computer and let it restart. Do not turn it on or off until it returns to the main screen, because that may cause your device to become inoperable.
  2. When the restart process is complete, turn your device off.

So, don't turn it off...or it may not start again -- but do turn it off when the restart is complete? Fine. But, there's no 'restart complete' message to say when it's safe to shut it down. So - how lucky do you feel?

One Sentence

"The day after the first fistful of my hair fell out, my son and his red pit bull showed up for breakfast, both of them with shaved bald heads."

-- One Sentence


Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo: Arizona-Style

Friday, May 07, 2010


Well, this is mildly interesting.

The person who heads the volunteer services outfit at the hospital tells me that she has a new boss, and that boss wants to meet me to talk about fixing a problem they have with a software system that they're using, which doesn't seem to work right.

Why does this sound familiar?


I'm guessing.... Ford paid for this.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


When I was younger, I was delighted by the novels of Robert Anson Heinlein, who seemed to me to be gifted with miraculous insights. Even when I got old enough to realize that things worked out in his novels because that was how plotting worked, and if he didn't like the results, he could destroy whole acres of words and redo them, still, I thought his work was marvelous. To this day, I am warmed by the thought of Stranger in a Strange Land, and by Podkayne of Mars, and The Roads Must Roll, and The Blind Singer of the Spaceways.

Which is why I was so startled when I picked up a novel of his that I'd never read, and sat down and read it. Its so stilted! So dogmatic! So I'll use snappy slang which will make up for and distract from the lack of characterization, plot, story.... I was stunned. More than that, I was desperate. This is Heinlein! Perhaps this section wasn't one of his best...let me skip ahead...skip chapter maybe? Surely the bloviating, the moralizing, will have ended by now? now? By the very last pages in the book?


Front Yard


Okay, I love West Wing, I really do. But I used to be a Minuteman launch officer, and this is so wrong, it pains me.


What the hell happened?

Two launch crew officers in Minuteman Three silos picked up a signal of an incoming projectile. The speed, arc, and trajectory of which suggested it was headed to New London, Connecticut.

From North Korea.


Why do we think at this point that North Korea is attacking the East Coast of the United States?

There are transcripts from the silo that show that surprise was expressed at that.

I would think.

The base was already at DEFCON Delta, so the launch crew initiated Response Code Orion, which calls for the first in a series of steps to arm their 50 Minutemen.

What's in New London?


The gum?

The nuclear submarines.

Fifty Minutemen they're arming, and is anyone saying this doesn't make sense?

Two guys in the silo. The launch sequence went on for two minutes before they had confirmation it was a meteor. But the two guys were debating with Airborne Launch Control and the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Centre and that gets sticky. This is missile defense. This stuff has to work.

And they're sending in a team of lawyers to look into it.

Yeah, but we're scrappy.

No kidding, it pains me.


This is a '10 steps to success' list. It had been modified to make a joke, but I edited that back out, because the list sounds right to me.


The Republicans are offering no support whatsoever in the Senate for immigration reform. And they want to weaken the proposed consumer protections in the financial reform effort.

It's asinine and juvenile to think then by god when the GOP is in power again, i hope the Democrats deny and delay everything they can. Every single thing.

But it's how I feel.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Okay, it's in no way relevant. I still think it's funny.

Islam, Pakistan, and Us. Mostly, Me.

The guy who tried to blow up a car was screened at an airport some time ago in a procedure started after the Christmas attempted bombing. We stopped when the country he came from, and others, complained.

Think we'll start again? And, possibly start thinking that maybe adherence to Islam, for all the members who are quiet members and abhor violence, needs to be a warning flag for people to check out more closely? With biometric scans so that changing their names doesn't help?

I think, yes.


Having seen this morning's paper (Scientists Foresee Devastation For Gulf, Probe Switches Focus To Pakistan Taliban, Greeces Debt Deflates Stock Rally, Murder), this makes a certain amount of sense.

In other news, it's a beautiful day here today.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

So That's How They Did It

Well, Maybe

A friend of mine, with whom I used to work, has morphed over the years from a friendly but quiet woman who maintained the education library at EDS (boy, does that sound dusty and ancient) to a baker (quite good) to an education trainer and now to a fitness and conditioning coach. If you could see her photograph, you'd be amazed -- she is buff. But she says that she can work with anyone -- so we're going to look into maybe possibly giving this a try.....

Maybe. First time she sees just how lame I am, it might stop. But we'll see.

Monday, May 03, 2010


Surprised how much I am enjoying Presidential Command. I have to work at it -- who said what, again? -- but it's interesting. Though I do wonder how much of it is true, assuming, in politics, there is an objective truth.


I would seriously love to see this film....even if it is a porn parody. Because, from the trailer, it's damn well done.

Wait For The Click

Lego "CL!CK" from a52 on Vimeo.