Friday, August 31, 2007

Done...Done Done Done!

I finally finished the playhouse last night. Two coats of primer and a top coat. Meanwhile my wife has donated a tablecloth and a floral centerpiece to the endeavour, and it's starting to look quite cozy! She's debating making curtains next. Fortunately that one doesn't require me. I'm so far behind on my to-do list that I'll never catch up at this rate.

It's a long weekend again--just long enough to make you wish for more. We've got nothing particularly special planned. Just getting things done. After all, isn't that how you celebrate Labor Day? With labor?

At any rate, the week is nearly over, and that is perfectly fine by me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Seinfeld Post (A post about nothing)

I should post something. There's not much to talk about, but I should post. The playhouse walls have a third coat of paint now, so that project is nearly done finally. Labor Day weekend is coming up, but we're not doing anything much. Just housework, yardwork, and plant buying from the nursery Fall specials.

We bought me a new suit last weekend, which won't be ready until next week. It's the first new suit I've had in...yikes, ten to fifteen years? We first tried a department store, but not only did they not provide any service, but the suits just didn't sit right. We went somewhere else, and I'm glad we did.

We like to find small businesses that really deserve our business. We found one. Petersen's Clothing. The gentleman really bent over backwards to find me just the right suit, explaining the features, and making sure it would hide pet hair (a major concern) as well as possible. I'm getting a very nice suit that is well suited (no pun intended) to me. It looks and feels great. And I feel good about giving this guy our money. He earned it.

Autumn is in the air, but Summer is not going without a fight. We're still getting up into the 90's during the day, but down into the 40's at night now. The first tree on our street has changed color. It's coming! I'm looking forward to it. Autumn is like an old friend to me.

Tonight my wife uttered the words that should strike fear into the heart of most men: Honey, will you cut my hair?

I did. It looks...not bad! She's happy. She looks great! Life is good.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Parental Bias

It's both a blessing and a curse that parents are biased toward their children. It is difficult for us to see them objectively, to see them as others see them. We tend to focus on the behavioral problem they're exhibiting at the moment and not the unique talents they're developing. We remember the temper tantrum much longer than the impromptu hug and declaration of affection.

We're convinced that our children are the only ones who (mis)behave this way, and we're mortified that someone outside the family might see it. We react with pride mixed with disbelief when someone approaches us to tell us how wonderful our children are. We're glad they think so, but we wonder if they are really paying attention.

Instead it's probably we who are not paying attention. Or perhaps just me. Perhaps everyone gets it already and I'm the only slow one.

This morning I came upstairs to find my middle child in the hallway upstairs. From my vantage point down the hall and down a flight of stairs I was for a moment able to see him with a stranger's eyes. He is a cute little boy with a enthusiastic sparkle in his eyes. For a moment I wanted to run to him, gather him in my arms and hold him tight.

I didn't. But I probably should have. There may not be too many years left in which he'll let me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Odd Juxtapositions

I was in a meeting at work today with someone from our infrastructure team. He related some of his experiences as a techie in the military to explain why he is so passionate about standardizing processes. Part of his job was to design network setup processes so that "during an assault if 80% of my people get killed I could still get the network up and running."

The idea of setting up computer networks under fire just struck me as odd, though in light of how today's military runs, I suppose it makes perfect sense.

Still, talk about your hardcore IT! Adds a whole new perspective on "excessive turnover."

Apocalyptic Moose

This one is just too good to pass up:

The poor old Scandinavian moose is now being blamed for climate change, with researchers in Norway claiming that a grown moose can produce 2,100 kilos of methane a year -- equivalent to the CO2 output resulting from a 13,000 kilometer car journey.

That's a lot of moose flatulence! This also makes me think twice about vacationing in Norway. Or at least about using an open flame.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cat Behaving Badly

I realize this makes about as un-American as a person can get, but I really, really think it is time Garfield retired. The comic is simply not funny anymore. It hasn't been in years. It's so predictable that there's no need to print the last one or two frames. No really! Take today's strip for example:

Frame 1: Jon and Liz are at an aquarium (Hah! You already know where this is going, don't you!)
Frame 2: Liz comments that the rare fish in the tank before them must be hiding.
Frame 3: Take a wild guess who shows up having done what.

So predictable. So not funny. Not even the fact that Garfield wore a scuba outfit.

In fact there are only so many Garfield strips, which get repeated over and over again:
- Garfield is rude/violent toward Odie
- Garfield is rude/violent to ward Jon
- Garfield eats all of something
- Garfield is lazy
- Something slightly odd happens while Garfield watches, usually ending with Garfield killing the instigator

I did have some hope when Jon and Liz started getting serious lately. But nope, it generally the same strip, only with Jon and Liz witnessing Garfield's latest depravity.

Surely there is something better out there that deserves the spot this strip is hanging onto out of pure nostalgia (and because Garfield collectables still, inexplicably, provide lots of income).

Kill the cat! Please!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday And Feeling Fine

In light of my last several posts I should probably go on record as saying "I'm happy!" No, really!

Of course it probably helps that it's Friday. I was teasing people earlier this week about "Monday the 13th," insisting that THAT is the day you have to watch out for. Friday the 13th could never be a bad day because...well, because it's Friday!

But on top of that, after a bit of a rough week at work I'm starting to feel like a "really useful engine" again. It always helps when I have something tangible to show for my work, like maybe I'm really getting something done.

So what's on the agenda for the weekend? Gaming tonight with friends, The Fair tomorrow with the family, Date Night with my wife, and a moderately-relaxing Sunday. Sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

And finally:
What am I...
...reading: Nothing at the moment, but I just finished "A Beautiful Mind" by Sylvia Nassar. I can't recommend it, but don't feel it was a waste, either. While I can be sad about John Nash's mental illness and what he lost out on because of it, I had a hard time caring about him as a human being. There didn't seem to be much recommend him as a human before his illness, while he seemed much more likable after it.

...doing: Ignoring the playhouse, fighting a losing battle against squash bugs, and enjoying a greener lawn.

...wishing for: Sequencing software and a good collection of sounds--I really want to compose something.

...dreading: Writing test scripts and reverse-engineering system specifications at work.

...never getting around to: Washing the cars

...grateful for: A wife who loves me, three kids who forgive me, two cats who tolerate me, and a dog who truly appreciates attention. And a house big enough for all of us.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Harold, I'm Not Content."

(Hat Tip: Dr. Helen) A study in Great Britain has concluded that men from 35-44 are the least happy of any age group:

Whether they are mourning the passing of their prime or struggling to cope with the demands of a job and young family, those aged 35-44 invariably hit a mid-life crisis when their happiness level plunges lower than at any other age, according to a study for the Government.

It makes them the least satisfied members of society, scoring well below teenagers, the elderly - and women of all ages.

Researchers found that it takes men until they reach the age of 65 to start enjoying life as much as they did in their late-teens and early-20s.

Well, that's...depressing. And to be honest, I can't say it's not true.

Smooth Criminal

I'm serious here when I say that I'm tired of people considering me worse than Hitler because I don't completely buy the Global Warming consensus. If this is a scientific fact, then why is it not open to healthy, scientific skepticism? Instead, I get this:

At the Live Earth concert in New Jersey last month, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. denounced climate-change skeptics as "corporate toadies" for "villainous" enemies of America and the human race. "This is treason," he shouted, "and we need to start treating them now as traitors."

Some environmentalists and commentators have suggested that global-warming "denial" be made a crime, much as Holocaust denial is in some countries. Others have proposed that climate-change dissidents be prosecuted in Nuremberg-style trials. The Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen has suggested that television meteorologists be stripped of their American Meteorological Society certification if they dare to question predictions of catastrophic global warming.

A few weeks ago, the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Marlo Lewis published an article opposing mandatory limits on carbon-dioxide emissions, arguing that Congress should not impose caps until the technology exists to produce energy that doesn't depend on carbon dioxide. In response to Lewis's reasonable piece, the president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, Michael Eckhart, issued a threat:

"Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America."

Oh yes, I SO want to throw in with these guys. Let's all get on our high horses and have us an old-fashioned pogrom! Dontcha know them Global Warming Denialists make a pretty good bonfire?! Hey, what should you throw a drowning Global Warming Denialist?! His wife and kids!! Oh, we're so funny!

People get on the conservatives for trying to legislate morality. I don't see how this is any difference. These people want to intimidate nature into compliance with their world view. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. In true science there is always room for skepticism.

These people above seem to forget that there was once a time when questioning religious beliefs was considered treason, a criminal act, and subject to death. Had we allowed the same reaction they're calling for we would still believe the flat earth is the center of the universe, and that anyone studying astronomy should be burned.

The more things change the more they stay the same. If you were wanting to bring me over to your way of thinking you might have considered NOT declaring war on me first. Now I'm tempted to close my mind as tightly as you have yours. What's the point of studying it out for myself? You've already decided that if I don't just blindly accept everything you say I'm worthy of death. Thank you. And in 20 - 50 years if we don't see any of the predicted signs, can I put YOU to death? Please? It's only fair!

And before you answer that, you're wonderful scientific certainty already declared that a natural consequence of global warming is an increase in the number and severity of hurricanes. That didn't happen, so suddenly you find a NEW study that says "uh, actually Global Warming will result in FEWER hurricanes."

How much more of your theory is based on such shaky science? You're willing to kill me over this, so make good and sure you really, really know what you're talking about.

Friday, August 10, 2007


It would seem that 1998 was NOT the warmest year on record after all. NASA has revised its figures:

"NASA has now silently released corrected figures, and the changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as record-breaking) moves to second place. 1921 takes third. In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II."

It's details such as this that keep me from buying into the whole Global Warming idea. How much more of its hypothesis is based on faulty data? (According to some, most of it.)

I'd be a little more inclined to believe the GW crowd, too, if they'd be willing to admit when they don't know everything. But I've seen no mention of this story in the paper. In fact today's paper was giving dire predictions that 2009 will be hotter than 1998. Yeah, just like last year was supposed to be the worst year ever for hurricanes?

Well, let's talk again in 2010, then. If they're right I'll be willing to listen. If they're wrong--and they call themselves on it--I'll at least treat them with some respect. Which is more than they're doing for me.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, and let's make sure all our official measurements are not unduly influenced:

"Two months ago, I reported on an effort to validate this network. A volunteer group headed by meteorologist Anthony Watts had found serious problems. Not only did sites fail to meet the NCDC’s requirements, but encroaching development had put many in ridiculously unsuitable locations — on hot black asphalt, next to trash burn barrels, beside heat exhaust vents, even attached to hot chimneys and above outdoor grills.

Soon thereafter, a Seattle radio station interviewed the head of the NCDC, Dr. Thomas Peterson, informed him of the effort and quizzed him about the problems. Three days later, the NCDC removed all website access to station site locations, citing “privacy concerns.” Without this data (which had been public for years), the validation effort was blocked. No more stations could be located."

At the very least, is it okay for me to still be doubtful without being called an extremist nutjob or heavily in denial?

I Think That Was A Typo...

From an article on thinking like a marketer to get kids to eat healthy:

"Eating during meals is unhealthful for a variety of reasons."

So I guess my four-year-old had it right all along... He sure does he best not to eat during meals.

Incidentally, they were starting to talk about the effects of television and getting the television out of the kitchen, so I suspect that was not what they meant to say.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mindless Rant

Okay, is it only me, or does anyone else look at the latest HP personal computer campaign and think "The Nightmare Before Christmas"? I swear it's the same font.

And I'm not sure how that is supposed to work with their slogan of "The PC is becoming personal again." I mean, is the new bootup sound file going to be written by Danny Elfman? Is Clippy going to be replaced by Jack Skellington? I just don't get how "creepy" equals "personal".

But what do I know? I'm just a consumer. And I did buy an HP. But only because Jared at CompUSA convinced me it was the best deal, not because Tim Burton produced their ad campaign.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Quote Of The Day

"The elitists are such boneheads they think literature exists to be admired. Wrong. Literature exists to create memories so true and important that we allow them to become part of ourselves, shaping our future actions because we remember that once someone we admired did this, and someone we hated and feared did that."
- Orson Scott Card

Monday, August 06, 2007

Maestro, some punctuation, s'il vois plait?

Subject line of recent spam: Ready to sell your Timeshare Terhi?

First of all, this is MY email account, not my wife's. Second of all, while she is a doll, she's never even seen a timeshare. Thirdly, no, I'd never sell her.

In other news now that I'm the homeowners association president I had someone call up today to complain! Or at least my fence. The one I built nearly a year ago. I don't think they realized it was my fence. And they wouldn't listen long enough for my wife to explain that it was our fence they were complaining about.

Evidently my fence is an eyesore, and it sounds like she believes it's the reason why she hasn't been able to sell her house. (She's selling "by owner," which I'm sure has nothing to do with it). Never mind that another house that has a much better view of the longest span of the fence sold within days of going on the market (Hers, incidentally, can't even see our fence, unless perhaps you're standing on the roof).

My paranoia says we're likely to see a battle over this, but according to the C.C.&R.s we're covered. I did ask the previous president on at least two separate occasions. He did grant me permission both times. He saw the construction. He saw the paint color. There is no record in any of the books that he gave me that this person ever complained to him about it. I should be well and truly covered. Though of course this will all look terrible just because I'm the current president.

Anyway, it's definitely Monday. It's a good thing she also mentioned she'll be unable to attend the neighborhood block party tomorrow night. I'd hate to have her sour things for me and my family. Though with my luck she'll change her mind and come. Like Malificent at Briar Rose's birthday party.

Okay, perhaps I'm a little too paranoid.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Cold War

The cold continues apace. No one in our household is completely over it yet. It casts a gloom over everything--even more than the thick smoke rolling in from a range fire just across the border. We are sick of being sick.

On the bright side, no bridges collapsed under me on the way home from work. Perspective is a good thing. I'm sure there are dozens of people in Minnesota would would love to just have a cold.