Friday, August 31, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I gave up.

After a summer of trying to keep up with the grass, I gave up.  Ten minutes ago, I picked a mowing company out of the phone book and said come cut this stuff. Because this is ridiculous.  I last mowed one section of grass three days ago - and today it's thick enough to cause my electric mower to stall out repeatedly -- sometimes, a foot at a time.

Next year, I don't know.  Maybe we'll take our chances again.  Maybe we'll buy a self-propelled gas mower.  Maybe even make the leap to a riding mower.

But for this year, the war is over, and I lost.


This is from a comic strip called Jesus and Mo. I really like it. I suspect that hardcore Believers won't, but those with a sense of humor -- I think they would.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cette Semaine

Going to be a tough week.

Daughter's grumpy over her proto-military experience (though, hey, she may have found a way to compensate).

Wife's emotional from impending retirement (but this evening I gave her the first three seasons of a beloved show to ease her transition).

I'm going to the dentist tomorrow to find out why one of my implants is occasionally painful.

And tomorrow I talk with a French conversation partner whom, I just learned, might be - well, I won't use the graphic high school term that comes to mind.  Let's just say she's not the quiet, innocent person I thought she was.

Back Again

We went down to see our daughter this weekend.  It was ... interesting.

At first, she told her that she was thinking about quitting the Corps.  Last week was much harder than she had thought it would be, and she did not like the mind games that they played on her.  Like, giving them, literally, one minute thirty seconds to use the bathroom.  (It wasn't until one girl complained, saying 'We aren't boys, we can't just whip it out', that they got a whole two minutes thirty seconds. ) Or, bringing in the marching band to play for them while they were having lunch.... but then insisting that they had to stand and cheer, cheering time being subtracted from their eating time.

Then, after sleeping without interruption for about ten hours at the hotel, and having a decent breakfast, she was relatively cheerful, talking about whether she should pick a college focus that was what she wanted, or what she thought the military might want.  (She decided the former. Good for her.)

She still has to do stupid things, like saying Good morning to each upperclassman she meets, naming them, and doing so in alphabetical order of their names.  She can only leave her room going to the right, so that if the room she wants are to the left, she has to go all the way to the end of the hall, turn, go all the way to the other end of the hall, turn, then into the room - and if she goes past, she has to do the whole circuit again. Things like that. Not just new cadets, either. One senior, standing in a line on the edge of a parade field, watching the new cadets march by, fainted; my daughter said she would unquestionably get into trouble.  Seems harsh, I said.  You sure? She nodded.  They told us, you faint, its because you didn't drink enough water. Your fault.What if it was because you were sick, I asked.  She shrugged.  They'll assume it was your fault unless you can prove it wasn't.  They made my roommate march when her foot was so swollen she couldn't get it into her shoe. Finally she got to see a doctor, who said no marching or running for a week.

But today is the first day of classes, and while she is in the academic building area of the campus she doesn't have to play those games, or even wear a uniform, per se (just khaki pants and a polo shirt with the Corps logo on it) so perhaps life will get a little better for her.  If you can call encountering college-level classes for the first time better.
Update: She just called with a question.  She says her first day was okay but awkward -- no one talked at all in her classes, and she's usually the only cadet in them.  They'd been told that civilian students usually are not initially sure how to react to then.  And thats with the casual uniform.  When she called, they'd just been told to change into cammo. Why?  She had no idea.  Because. 

Anyone who's been in the military has gone through that kind of nonsense, and sometimes, it really does have a good reason.  But it hurts to see your intelligent, skeptical-of-authority daughter going through it.  Which is why we told her: give it a fair shot.  Then, if you want to get out of the Corps, go for it. But give them a chance, first. 


... reading is better.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012


Every so often I find myself thinking about how the technology in Doctor Who must work....and I have to shake myself and remember but its just a story!!!

(found here)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Cadet

My daughter (and 420 others) started New Cadet Week yesterday.  For the next seven days, they'll undergo a stressful environment -- though, according to the instructors, more mentally stressful than physical -- learning how to be a cadet at Virginia Tech.  The staff warned us that there are always about ten kids who will call home, saying that this isn't for them. The call will come through the commandant's office -- for the next week, the kids don't have any sort of electronic devices.  They said how we handle it will be our call, but the track record is, if you say to the kid 'It's your life, your decision' at a time when they're tired, discouraged, and depressed -- they'll probably bail out. I doubt we'll get the call, but you never know.

Her roommate is tall - about six one - and smart -- she's her high school valedictorian, going for a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  Seems like a nice kid.  Her mother told me that the girl wanted to come, but was very nervous.  Sounds about right.

Seeing all those kids - more than kids, less than adults - and all their energy and enthusiasm -- it wore me right the heck out.  And I think Was I actually that energetic?  Probably.  Hard to believe, though.  I believe she'll be fine. When I see what the kids look like after four years -- sharp, focused, almost glittering -- I know I could never have done that.  I'm proud of her.  And she knows it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I will never be this person.  I think that's a good thing.

(Original image found on this site.) 

Yeah....Sounds Right

Found here.

New Mailbox?

Found here.  Did you hum the theme, too?  I did.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I've returned to reading Six Frigates.  It's a thick enough book that at times it intimidates me -- and how I hated when I realized years ago that thick books were beginning to have that effect on me .  I’m not sure why, whether I’m not as smart as I used to be (probably true) or not as intellectually curious (not sure I ever was that curious), but whatever the reason, I don’t tend to read books now that are more than about two hundred pages.  I suppose my mind has been softened by age and the Internet.
But I like Six Frigates because it talks about politics back in an age when, I thought, everyone was of the same attitude – all strong, forthright, determined, all right thinkers.  It astonishes me to read that that wasn’t the case at all – that some, for example, fervently held the opinion that the United States ought to have a military because otherwise it would be attacked, and others were equally vociferous with the opinion that it was the existence of the military that provokes attack; to read about politicians who, unable to sway opinion, took to inserting clauses into bills in Congress which had nothing to do with the bill, but had the effect of implementing what the politician could not get passed on their own; to read about people arguing points that seem obvious to us now, but at the time, were very much – literally – up for debate. And not gentlemanly will the senator yield ? debate, either.  Holy hell, I think.  Things were as screwed up then as they are now.
There are times when I despair for the future of this country, I really do.  I know that I’m not a strong thinker; I’m not the brightest guy around, and I tend to feel that everyone has the right to their opinion, when, probably, they really don’t. There's a lot of stupid people around, and sometimes I'm one of them.  I am amazed that people can be in favor of politicians who display disdain for them, and I’m sure that others are amazed that I can be in favor of a politician who does things that are clearly wrong, or politically motivated.  I console myself that of course, you can’t vote against someone just because of their attitude to one topic, and then I see the success of the NRA because that’s exactly what their members do.  I find myself thinking well, maybe its not such a bad thing that people want to have their own guns, because most guns that are used for malicious purpose were acquired illegally – and then I think but if I’m agreeing with them, but they never agree with me that steps need to be taken to control gun violence, doesn’t that mean the NRA won?  (Yes, I think it does.)  So maybe it is a good thing to be a one or two or three issue person, and just vote for the people who are your way on those issues, even if you suspect that they’re lying, even if you know that there are good reasons not to support what you want.  Let the other side worry about equality; stick up for your side.
I know, we’ll survive, but there are times when I wonder if its worth it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Olympic Spirit


I have to admit that I didn't read the whole thing, but What's So Bad About A Boy Who Wants to Wear A Dress is intriguing.  I liked their observation that no one thinks it odd for a girl to wear jeans and toss a football, but the reverse - well, that's something else again.

Coffee and...

I really wanted to like this article.

Paris, cool.  Pastries, great.  Good coffee, nice.  But the general tenor of the article, which I'd summarize as OMG MOLTEN ORGASMS ON TAP!!!  - uh, no.

Though that Dr. Frankenstein brewing dealie is pretty cool. 

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


About ninety minutes ago, I went to bed.  I was tired, loggy.  I'd been really tired in the late afternoon, for no discernible reason.  Well, perhaps a little bit of one - I'd thought, yesterday and today, that I would skip taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon, just to see if that would help me sleep a little better.  Just the opposite happened.  Not only didn't I sleep better, but the quality was actually worse.  This afternoon, I started to doze around 4, much to my surprise.  We had to go out around 8, but when we got home, I thought this is stupid, but I'm tired....I'm just going to go to sleep.  Didn't help that we had a bigger dinner than normal -- I'd baked some torpedo rolls -- I'm sure there's some slick French name for them - and we had meatball subs for dinner. Which were actually quite good, but very, very filling.  So I went to bed -- and now, just past 11, I'm awake again. Go figure.

I've been watching the Olympics periodically.  I am awed by those people.  Their energy, their enthusiasm -- I'm sure that I never had that much, and certainly not now.  They're a joy to watch, from the magnificent games like soccer and water polo to the ones that leave me scratching my head, like table tennis and handball.  Who knew handball wasn't played against a wall? Yes, when I heard of the sex activities that happen routinely at the Olympic village, I was a little ticked off -- all those healthy young people, all that testosterone -- but then I realized that I was just envious of them, envious that I'd been even close -- at least, not knowingly; I was a teen, after all, even if one who wasn't very adventurous, and went to a Catholic high school, to boot  --  for anything like that kind of  uninhibited sex, never would.  (Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like to hire a professional, someone who charges phenomenal amount of money, just for a day, just to see what it's like,  as much for the curiousity - how can ANYONE be worth that much? - as the experience - holy hell, I'm EXHAUSTED.  An idea which comes, I'm sure, from Scent of a Woman,  and is very, very unlikely to ever actually happen,both because there's no way I'd actually ever spend that much money for an ephemeral event, no matter how mind blinding and awesome and exhausting - and it takes a lot less, these days, to exhaust me - and because even if I had the money right here and it would disappear if I didn't spend it, the chances that it would damage and possibly destroy my marriage are greater than zero -- which is to say, too high for me. ) So sure, go ahead. Get sweaty in a fun way.  The magnificent spectacle you've provided at the Games is worth it.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but we finally heard from the French family who was supposed to come here this summer, and did not.  We hadn't heard word one from them since January, and only after I wrote them a physical letter at the end of July, expressing our dismay, and saying that we'd be in France next year, and putting out a tentative can we see you? Or do you for some obscure reason hate us and don't want to see us again? feeler, did we learn that they did try to get in touch with us - granted, two months later than we would have tried, but still, they did, and they thought they actually had gotten an email off, but it turns out they hadn't.  And to say that they couldn't come because - well, the reason doesn't really matter, but we believed them, it was something that they'd mentioned as a possibility last summer, but the truth is, we'd have accepted almost any reason; it was the not knowing that was driving us crazy.  They assured us that they do still want to see us again, and though they didn't specifically say sure, stop by, let alone while you're in our area, come and live with us , the tone of the note was friendly, and so I was happy again.

Though it does mean, I guess, that I have to start taking French seriously again.  I am plateaued - is that a word? - feeling like I make mistakes all over the place, from syntax to spelling to pronunciation to vocabulary, and while I know that the way to address some of that is to write, write, write, and the rest is speak, speak,speak, still I get nervous and apprehensive, feeling that I'm just not good enough. It didn't help my self confidence to talk to one woman - one time; I don't think we'll be talking again -- who is very serious about learning English, and who told me - well, I repeated it back to her that she'd said my French was very bad; she objected, and said I didn't say that, which could have meant but I meant it, and it could have meant its just got a lot of problems.Any way you look at it, it needs work, from someone who will listen to me and correct me gently.  Which means, starting up the French language lessons again.  My teacher could be stricter, she could push me more (I wish, sometimes, that she would), but I've come a long ways with her, and even though I really don't believe her when she says I'm an incredibly good student (she really does say that, to which I reply then you must have some real slackers), it's nice to be praised, and to feel like maybe I'm making progress.  Its just so hard to establish checkpoints - two months ago I could not do xxx, and now I can.  But I try.  After all, I might need it in France next year.

I read the other day that women react to a guy in a nice suit the way that guys react to a woman in sexy lingerie.  Which I am sure has the subtext of assuming you're buff, of course.  But still: I don't wear suits, so I guess I'm screwed.  Or, you know, not. 

Less than a week until my daughter returns home from her summer-long color guard trip; less than two weeks until she leaves for college.  We were looking into some stuff today - they hand out the keys to the rooms during Freshmen Orientation, she didn't go, how does she get it -- and I had this weird thought of She's really doing it, she's really going to college. Which I suppose is traditional, parents are always surprised when this happens. Still: we were.  I am. 

I had a birthday.  I am now not only older than I have ever been (weak joke, spurred by Mitch Hedburg's great line about people who say this is a picture of me when I was younger), but also I'm older than I ever thought I'd be.  Which is strange because I expect to live to about 85, and that's about 22 years away.  Still, its hard to think of myself as this old.  I mean, I'm still trying to figure some things out, and I still have this rebellion-against-authority streak that bubbles up every so often, without warning.  How the heck did I get to be 63?  I know, I know: one day at a time, just like everybody else.

So maybe I should get some sleep.  My age, you know, you need it.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Day One

Little League

Sometimes, you find a comic strip that is so good, you have to find the first one, so that you can read all of them. And then hunger for more.

Found here.


I heard the other day that a woman who's had a double mastectomy wants the right to go topless at the beach. Apparently, due to the nature of the surgery, a normal bathing suit is painful for her to wear.

It makes sense.  Then again, letting them all go topless makes sense, too.

I expect it to happen any millenia now.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


I am not fond of seafood, but I am reluctantly starting because it's good for me

This recipe amazed me.  If this is what seafood can taste like, I've been missing out. 

Peppery Brown Sugar Salmon

Canadian Farm Raised Salmon, got it at Wegmans

1-1/2 pounds salmon fillets (bones removed).........1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon onion powder..................1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper.........3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed


Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Pat the salmon fillets dry.
Line a baking sheet with foil
Grease the foil.
Put the filets on the foil
Brush with melted butter.
Combine the seasonings in a small bowl and mix.
Sprinkle the seasonings over the salmon, and press down gently.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Actually, Me Too

Found here....

here are a few fundamental things i don’t understand

  • why gays shouldn’t be allowed to get married
  • why rich people shouldn’t pay higher taxes
  • why people are so unwilling to help others
  • why people are making laws about my vagina
  • why university costs so much
  • why it’s wrong for everyone to have healthcare