Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

This is my second attempt to post from the hot place.  The first, a "Merry Christmas" post, failed to go through.  I think I have the problem licked, though.  Thanks to MLL for the kind prompt.  I expect I'll be posting very infrequently until the end of February, unless I get really motivated and this posting method works.  In any case, the point of this post is "Happy New Year!"  I expect I'll be officially in 2008 before just about anyone who might read this, so I don't feel too bad about jumping the gun by a few hours.
Oh, and the hot place isn't really all that hot right now.  60s-80s in the daytime, 50s at night.  Tolerable.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Goin' to the hot place

Today's the day I leave on my extended trip. The one I get to go on instead of the one I wanted to go on. Which is OK, as far as it goes, because the one I wanted to go on has turned into a sort of living nightmare for the ones who went. Don't ask, just know that everyone got sick, and no one gets to come home for MUCH longer than they thought (and those two things are absolutely unrelated).

Anyway, I'm going to try to keep posting while I'm away. We'll see how successful that is.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Susie tagged me with a blog meme. Normally I don't do these things. I get them from my sisters, my brother, my mom sometimes, and I read what they send me, but, and I don't know why, I just don't "answer and send to your 36 best friends."

Even this one, I'm supposed to comment-tag 7 other bloggers. I only read 5 blogs regularly (apart from mine and Susie's), and one of those belongs to a celebrity. The others I read, but don't really comment on, and I'd feel like I was tracking mud on the carpets if my first comment was "blog tag."

All of that said, I'll still answer my seven random things. If you know me, you may know some of these, but this is for those of you who don't. And I'll turn this on its head a little: If you're a blogger, and you're reading this, link to your blog in my comments, and tag yourself. Mmmkay?

Seven Random or Weird Things about Me

1. I wish I could be a writer. I like to write, and I think I do it fairly well. I just can't seem to make myself sit down and write the whole story. (I know, NaNoWriMo...)

2. I have a nearly "phonographic" memory. I can remember, verbatim, almost anything I hear, if I pay attention, even years later. Conversations, movies, songs, doesn't matter. I can quote whole sections of movies I've seen once.

3. I bought my first new car with a manual transmission, but I had never driven one. I had to be show how just to drive it off the lot.

4. I was on an episode of "The Screen Savers." OK, I wasn't "on" the episode, but I was part of the show. I went to a taping and was selected to play in the LAN party on-set.

5. When I go to a new country, I like to go to the supermarket. I love seeing all the products I've never heard of.

6. I'm a sucker for weird flavored potato chips. Steak and Onion. Cheese and Onion. Prawn. Thai Chili Chicken. Mmm.

7. I've made a point of never having heard the Titanic theme ("My heart goes on" or whatever, by Celine Dion) all the way through. I've left the room, and even a building, so that I can continue to claim that. I've never seen the movie either. I know the ending...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's his party...

Right now Susie and David are in the other room getting things ready for his birthday party. The theme this year is Harry Potter. We'll be having a Potions class (mixing various drinkable liquids to see who can create the coolest new flavor), a Care of Magical Creatures class (match the description to the Beanie Baby, or something like that), a Herbology class (taste the cut-up exotic fruit, name it and match it to its whole form), Divination (a gazing ball, tea leaves, and maybe some palmistry) and a "make a scale for the dragon tapestry" session.

If you didn't know, we (especially Susie) get a real charge out of making our kids' birthday parties into "events." It's a lot more fun than the standard "pin the tail on the donkey" thing, and since the kids get to choose their own theme, we know it's going to be something they like. David's last party theme was Doctor Who.

I'll see if I can post some pictures, post-event, or at least link to Susie posts, which will be sure to have pictures.

Oh, and I chickened out. Didn't have the talk. We're going to let things go, and at least get one more year out of it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The great conspiracy

December. I can't really believe it's here, which is strange, because for the last 2 weeks I've been thinking it's December already. We got the advent calendars set up for the kids, and the Christmas elf is lurking about. Christmas is, indeed, imminent.

I think I'm going to have to have "the talk" with David tomorrow. We were at the mall last weekend, and Lily was really psyched to see Santa in his grotto. At first, we thought that David was the one who had suggested it, but he didn't want to go. So Susie and Lily went into the grotto ("Approximate wait from here: 30 min") and, after exchanging significant glances with Susie, I took David off to see why he didn't want to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas.

"It's just, when you get to be my age, you figure out the secret," he said. And yes, that's an exact quote. But just to be sure, I asked, "What secret?"

"The secret of Santa's grottoes. It's just a man in a Santa suit in there, not the real Santa."

But we're just a small leap of logic away, aren't we? Is it better for me to take him aside and explain, or let him stew and figure it out? I know when I figured it out, I was afraid to mention it. I was afraid it would be the end of the goodness for me.

Yeah, I think it's time for the talk. What do you think?

Friday, November 30, 2007

30? Already?

Wow... I didn't think I'd make 30 days, but I did. Of course, it's posts like this that make it easier. Although to be honest, I really only did have two or three filler posts.

I am pretty proud of myself, though, and I hope that if anyone has been popping in regularly, you continue. At least, until I stop posting. I won't promise to post every day. But I promise to try to post regularly. Fair enough?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

@!$#%!#Y!@$^%, the aftermath

I ended up going to the emergency room last night, and boy, wasn't that a little slice of heaven. There were three major auto accidents that had come in just ahead of us, so they told me the wait would be two to three hours. I sent Susie and the kids home, as there was no reason for them to be kept up all night.
Have you ever had a lash in your eye that you couldn't get out immediately? You know how your eye squeezes shut so tightly, like a bear trap, that it makes the other eye want to stay shut? Imagine a dozen eyelashes. And wait three hours. The pain wasn't just in my eye, either. The squeezing of the eyelids caused a massive tension headache (or maybe a migraine, I don't know). All the tears from the eye watering ran down into my sinuses, causing massive post-nasal drip and a runny nose.

And then there was Charlie.

Charlie was a little boy, 6 years old. He was in his pajamas, and he was there with his mom and his nana. He was there when we arrived, I think, and was still waiting to be seen when I left. Don't worry about him, though. I think he had a raisin in his ear or something, from what I heard.

Charlie never stopped talking the entire time I was there. No, wait. That's not true. Sometimes he stopped talking long enough to make airplane noises. Or car noises. Now, I'll give him credit for this much: he didn't scream. He didn't cry. He wasn't ill-behaved. But he was ... verbal. And, being 6, he had no concept of a "hospital voice," or even, it seemed, an "inside voice."

So for three hours I got to hear all the details of Charlie's world. "Mummy, look, I'm bein' a aeroplane! Eeeeeerrroooowww!! Look at this, mummy, the door to the house is smaller than me! And I can open it! Why are we still sitting here? I need to go toilet... I need to POOP! Hehe.. I need to poop! Where are we going? The toilet? But I don't need to go! Yes I do! NO I don't! What's in there? Why can't we go in there? Is the doctor coming out? Where is he? Remember when I was bein' a aeroplane?"

And so on. In his best 6-year old "mummy and nana are talking to one another so I'd better speak very LOUDLY so I'm sure they hear me" voice. Not yelling, exactly. Just loud.

To be fair, his mom and grandma didn't ignore him. They did talk to him, and answer his questions, so he never got strident or angry. But he just needed to have the attention. It made for a truly magical evening.

Oh, and my eye? Scratched up pretty good. One big scratch, two small scratches, and a "road-rash" scrape right across the middle. But I went to my own opthalmologist this afternoon, and he said that as bad as it sounds (and felt!), the eye heals quickly, and I should be back up to 100% by Sunday. Monday at the latest. So I got that goin' for me. Which is nice.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I just came from McDonalds. As I was buckling Lily into her car seat, the seat belt slipped out of my hand, and it snapped up... right into my eye. I don't mean like getting hit with a punch, I mean the webbing of the belt went right across my eyeball. I am pretty sure I have scratched my cornea. The one that's only recently healed from PRK. In fact, I'm scheduled for my 6-month followup on Tuesday. I'm typing now with one eye open and the other squinched shut and streaming tears. And this happened 30 minutes ago.

Crap. Damn. and OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The final stretch, indeed

As you NaBloPoMo folks know, we're down to the last few days. I must say, it has been both harder and easier than I imagined. Some days, it just seemed like there was nothing to say, nothing that anyone would want to read about, anyway, and yet I had to go and post about it anyway...and I ended up with a surprisingly cogent post. Some days there was so much going on that I thought I would never be able to write about all of it... and I wasn't.

Ain't blogging weird? There's such a stream-of-consciousness quality to it. Even now, I sat down with absolutely no idea of what I was going to write about. As I waited for Blogger to load up, I checked my email, and noticed the "final stretch" email from Eden at NaBloPoMo. That gave me my title and the first two sentences, but from there, this post just got away from me.

I hope I can keep up the posting. I know it will be hard, especially when I end up going away for months at a time, but there are ways... Ah, seeee, here's the stream-of-consciousness thing striking: I was going to mention how hard it is to think of topics every day, and I was reminded of a topic I wanted to get into based on a news story I've been hearing. Maybe I'll post it tomorrow, but for a preview, it involves a teacher and a teddy bear. And my opinion about how it reflects the state of things in the world and in my country. Which I probably shouldn't write about, for fear of alienating you, Gentle Reader (that's singular, I know). But maybe... just maybe, I'll get all in your face with controversy.

Because that's part of the point.

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's not FAIR!

I had some pretty exciting news to post here... but before I blog, I like to read Susie's daily post to see what she's written.

She stole my title. Harumph. :)

But, yeah, my assignment here got extended for an additional three years, which means we'll be here until the fall of 2011. That's what we were hoping for, and we're really happy about it. It puts David well into "Year 9" of the British schools, which is about the same as 8th grade in the US. That's a very good time for him to make a transition to the US educational system, as he'll have a good foundation to bring with him. It also puts Lily into Year 4, which is a very solid start and should give her a little advantage going into 4th grade.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Eating the raw earthworm

I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, but I don't know if I'm going to get a "real" post in this evening (too beat), so I'm posting this. Because "every day" means "EVERY day." I'll TRY to come back in a bit and post something pithy. No promises.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

There's a reason that movie takes place in the mall

We went to IKEA today, which was nice. IKEA is always a destination for us, not just a place to shop. Read Susie's blog for some insight there. Had a lovely lunch, the kids played in their play area, and we communed with the oddly-named flatpack furniture.

Then we went to the mall next door, Lakeside. Yesterday I said this mall wasn't a "big" one, and as American malls go, it's on par with some of the larger malls I've been to. Crossgates Mall in the Albany, NY, area is the one I think compares most closely. But malls are not what they do here in the UK. They do "the high street," which is what all the local merchants in the US are decrying the decline of. But when they DO get a mall here, they flock to it. Now, I'll grant that it's a month until Christmas, and that probably brought the numbers up, but the masses of humanity seething through this mall were enough to overwhelm the senses. They don't do Thanksgiving here, so it wasn't "Black Friday" shopping. I don't know what it was, but it was ... crowded. Let's just leave it at that.

On the other hand, for dinner, we went to a Japanese noodle place called Wagamama, which Susie was lukewarm toward as we went in but which turned out to be the calm oasis in our evening. In fact, it was calming enough that we decided to pop over to Borders (yes, Borders! In England! Woohoo!) for a bit.

Not so much. Borders closes at 8 on Saturdays. Huh?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Worlds apart

How different the US and the UK are, despite being so similar. I mean, in the US, if you want to go to the mall, you hop in the car and pop on over. Here in the UK it's a weekend outing. There aren't malls every 4 miles here. There are probably a dozen really big ones in the whole country, and maybe 20 small ones. And by "really big" I mean "would pass as a half-way decent mall in the states." And by "small" I mean "in the states these malls would probably be struggling for business."

Anyway, we're going away for the weekend. To the mall. And for a pilgrimage to IKEA. We're bringing a computer, so we SHOULD be able to blog.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for...

...the two greatest kids any dad ever had.
...the greatest wife any man ever had.
...not having had to go away for over a year.
...a wonderful home, in a wonderful village.
...a Thanksgiving dinner that didn't take all day to cook (or clean up after).

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The darnedest things

Because David and Susie both had appointments this morning, and I had the day off, it fell to me to get Lily up and dressed and off to school. As we were driving there, she asked me, "Can Jack come round?"

"I'm sure he can. We'll ask Mommy and she can talk to Jack's mommy and see when he can come."

"Because Jack really wants himself to come round," Lily explained.

"Ah. And do you want Jack to come to our house?" I asked.

"Well, I just want Jack to be happy," was her ever-so-considerate answer.

As I marveled at my 4-year-old daughter's thoughtfulness, she then asked me, "What makes time run?"

"I don't know, sweetie. It just does," I answered.

"Maybe God's hands make time run."

"Maybe so, honey, maybe so."

She thought about this for a second, and then said, "Time runs, but we walk."

There's a profundity in there. I have the best kids.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Now THAT's a nice day

Susie and I had a super day today. We wandered the high street in Kings Lynn, poked into the shops we wanted to, split up for a minute without worrying who would have to take the kids, and generally had a nice meander through town. Then we had lunch. Two words: Oh. My. God.

We went to a restaurant called Maggie's. The restaurant was formerly known as Rococo, but the name was changed by Gordon Ramsay after his "Kitchen Nightmares" visit last year. The chef and owner, Nick Anderson, who won a Michelin star in 2001, was doubling as the maitre d' this afternoon, which was nice. We chatted with him, and he said that Gordon isn't as mean in person as he is on the show... but that he talks exactly the same. So on his shows, when he says, "F*** me, are you doing that?" he adds the meanness, but in real life, he's liable to say the exact same thing and not realize he's hurting your feelings.

Susie's probably going to blog the food, so I'll leave that to her, but the restaurant was really nice, and it was so wonderful to have a fancy lunch with my sweetie.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Better than a jet pack... for now, anyway

Reflecting on yesterday's post while driving to work this morning on too little sleep, it occurred to me that I have a little leave time built up. So I put in for the next two days off... which gets me a whole week, since there's a 4 day weekend.
It's really nice to know that I can sleep late, spend some time with Susie, maybe have a nice lunch, and not have to do anything at all related to work for the next 6 days.

2 days of leave + 1 holiday + 1 free day off + 1 weekend = a month off, mentally.

Sometimes the whole IS greater than the sum of its parts. (Have I been watching too much NUMB3RS?)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The eternal lament

Why are weekends only two days long? What happened to the "in the future, we'll only need to work a few hours a week" that we were promised, along with our jetpacks and flying cars?

At least Thanksgiving is this week, and we've already been told that we'll be getting Friday off. So, a three day week, and a four day weekend. I guess that's close.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's his party

David's decided on the theme for his birthday party this year. He wants a "Harry Potter" party. We've done themed parties for our kids every time they've had them, and they've been very successful, thanks in no small part to the organizing skills and idea magic of my dearest Susie. I don't expect this to be the exception. She's already been collecting interestingly-shaped bottles for "potions class," and we're in negotiations for a Hogwarts-shaped cake.

The real challenge is the guest list. We need to pare it down to about 6. We had about a million kids (maybe only 9) for his last party (a Doctor Who theme... no, wait! Come back!) and although it was a HUGE success, it was just a bit much for us. And that was for his 7th birthday; this is his 9th. The kids are just going to be that much bigger and rowdier, so we're going to have to reduce the numbers to keep the sanity. David seems pretty amenable to the reduced numbers, but the real concern is the ones who don't get invited. David's school is so small that no matter how few or how many we invite, someone's feelings are going to be hurt. This is going to take some thought.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Who are you?

One of the blogs I've started reading, thanks to NaBloPoMo, is called Are we there yet? Today, she posted a link to one of those "What accent do you have" quizzes. I was intrigued, because her result said "Neutral," which is what I thought I had. I know, everyone thinks they have no accent, but I mean I thought I had trained myself out of any regional accent, into a sort of broadcast-standard English. So, expecting the "neutral" response, I took the quiz. The result was this:

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


You have a Northern accent. That could either be the Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo accent (easily recognizable) or the Western New England accent that news networks go for.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

OK, well, I grew up in upstate New York, so it pegs me pretty correctly, which I found disappointing. I know that I don't have the "Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo accent," because my sister really does, and I think most people would agree that I don't sound like her. But then it goes on to say "or the ... accent that news networks go for." So I guess I have that. But I guess I'll have to work harder on getting the accent out.

In other news, here in England today is "Children in Need Day." Much like in the States, where the Labor Day weekend is associated with the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon, the BBC sponsors a week of charity auctions and fundrasing events, culminating in "Children in Need Day." The mascot, Pudsey Bear, is recognized all over the country. and people dress as Pudsey and collect on the street. They hold bake sales. They pay their bosses £1 or so to dress in "fancy dress" (or what we Americans call "costumes") or to wear jeans to work. As I write this, they've raised nearly £2.25 million, and they still haven't gotten to the main event. That event is an evening of television programs, variety shows, skits, and the like, much like a telethon. But what makes tonight's version special, as far as I'm concerned, is the special mini-episode of Doctor Who, called "Time Crash." In it, the Doctor will encounter... the Doctor. A special guest appearance by Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor.

Now, I admit I wasn't a Doctor Who fan until this most recent sort of "next generationy" version, but I always wanted to be. I had friends who were, but it was shown on PBS, and since the episodes were all of odd lengths (74 minutes, and like that) with no commercials, I invariably tuned in, by chance, about 2/3 of the way through. It's tough to get into a show when you never get to see it. Still, I'm a big enough geek that I knew about the show, and had enough details to look forward to the new version with Christopher Eccleston when that started. Anyway, I share that only to say that I have never seen a Peter Davison episode of Doctor Who. It's just the inherent geekiness of the event that has me stoked.

Wait... come back. I'm not always this geeky.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just go with the flow

I sat down just now to blog for the day, and I couldn't think of a thing to write. And then, all of a sudden, a poem popped into my head. It's not related to anything, not really seasonally appropriate anymore, and now it won't go away. You know how sometimes you get a song stuck in your head, a songvirus, and the only way to get rid of it is to sing it to someone else and infect them? Yeah, well... here you are. I won't even have to do the whole thing.

Once upon a midnight dreary....


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nothing but the best

When we found out for sure that we were coming to England, Susie spent a bunch of time online, looking for places to live. Through a chance email to an estate agent (that's what the Brits call a realtor) she found this great house that's about 35 miles from work. Now, back in the states, that's not so bad, but here that's about an hour drive, each way, every day. Fortunately, the house is well worth the extra drive. It's an 18th century Georgian farmhouse, older than my country, but recently remodeled (as you can see if you clicked that link above; those pics are of the work in progress). It has a plethora of bathrooms: three upstairs, one downstairs, and one in what we call "The laundry house." Two of the upstairs bathrooms are shared, each by two of the four bedrooms. The third upstairs bathroom is in the hallway at the top of the stairs, and so infrequently used that I often forget it's there. Earlier today, I had occasion to use that bathroom, and was reminded again of oneof the quirky things I love about this house (click on the picture to see the writing):

That's right. It's a Royal Doulton toilet. How posh is that? (If you don't know Royal Doulton, here is the link to their wikipedia entry. By the way, they're now owned by Waterford Wedgwood)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Yep, one of those days. A mostly boring day at work, with a little work done. Susie's off with some friends, the kids are asleep, and the telly is letting me down.

But speaking of TV, how's this for illogical: The program I'm watching doesn't have closed captions. (I often watch with captions so I don't have to turn the TV up as loud, since the TV room is right under David's.) But instead of just not seeing anything, this channel broadcasts its own caption. It just says, "We apologise there are no subtitles for this programme." And that stays on the screen the whole time. Kind of like those manual pages that say "This page intentionally left blank."

Uh, not anymore, hm?

Monday, November 12, 2007

The NUMB3RS Drinking Game

Here it is, folks, from my own fevered imagination, the NUMB3RS drinking game. Most of these I'm making up as I go along, but a couple I remember seeing when I glanced at the one at Television Without Pity. I may edit this post as time goes on, to add or subtract entries.

Here we go:

The Official Wit Farm NUMB3RS Drinking Game
sip: take a taste of your drink
drink: take at least one full mouthful of your drink
chug: finish your drink

Sip if:
Charlie uses the word "algorithm"
Larry uses the word "cosmological"
Alan uses the phrase "my city planning days"
Cody uses the word "Afghanistan"
Megan uses the phrase "it's a classic {anything} profile"
Don is in riot gear AND chewing gum
Charlie and Don play basketball
Charlie gets an inspiration (with CharlieVision) from something someone says

Drink if:
The team, in riot gear, break down a door, but:
a) the place is empty, or
b) everyone inside is dead
Don is in riot gear and NOT chewing gum
Don is NOT in riot gear, and IS chewing gum
Charlie gets an inspiration (with CharlieVision) from something he sees
Charlie and Amita ALMOST kiss
Megan kisses Larry (she initiates it)
Don kisses anyone
Anyone mentions "the caterer"
Charlie hangs a new blackboard
Ian Edgerton (sniper) is in the episode
Gary Walker (LAPD gang cop) is in the episode
Larry fondles some sort of toy
Don calls Charlie "Chuck"

Chug if:
Charlie and Amita kiss
Larry kisses Megan (he initiates it)
Larry's car is seen moving onscreen
Larry eats anything not white
Any reference is made to any of the actors' previous jobs

Sunday, November 11, 2007


If you're reading this, you probably know that it's National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo for short (by the way, what nation? Just asking.) You might also know it's National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I guess November is a good month for these things, because it's also National Knit a Sweater Month.

In keeping with this, I hereby declare that November is National Do Something New Month, or NaDoSoNewMo.

Choose something you've never done before (even if it's "participate in NaBloPoMo", or "comment on someone's blog"), post it here, and let us know how it goes. (By the way, if you choose the "comments on someone's blog" option, and post about it here, you're already done! Hooray!)

Saturday, November 10, 2007


{insert blog text here}

Ok, no, really, that's not it, but would it qualify? It does meet the letter of the NaBloPoMo rules, but not the spirit, I think. In fact, this meta-posting sort of skirts the intent as well, but I'm going to call it good. The family and I are going out and won't be back until tomorrow. I have a work-related social function to go to, to which family are not invited, but we're all going to go, take a room, and call it a mini-vacation. Susie and the kids will stay in the room while I get to have fun. I owe her, big time, but she's going to get her payback on Monday. That's a day I have off from work, but she's taking off with her new friend for a girls' day out. That means *I* get to take the kids for some doctor appointments. Right now, though, we're bathing the kids and packing up, which means this post must be short. So, I'm done. See ya!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Would you like to play a game?

My post the other day about the show NUMB3RS got me thinking. Thinking about drinking games, actually, and I thought I might create one for that show. But it seems like someone has beaten me to it, sort of. The folks over at Television Without Pity (which I recommend you visit anyway, if you watch any television at all) have a thread in their forums that's a prototype NUMB3RS drinking game. All of the rules are submitted as posts. Maybe I'll be a little plagiarist later and steal some of their rules, but until I do, go have a look at theirs.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Only connect

Susie's found herself a new friend, which is a good -- no, GREAT -- thing. She's always been really good at making friends, wherever we've been, but because we live in such small village, rather far from where I work, it's been tough. She keeps in touch with a lot of her friends from other places we've lived, and that's good, but it's not the same. It's nice to have "brick and mortar" friends, where you can pop in for a visit and have a cup of coffee and a real-time, face-to-face gripe session about whatever's on your mind.

And please forgive me for the title of the post... I really don't care for Forster at all. In fact, I once sort of ticked off my academic advisor at college when, in response to his asking, "What are you looking forward to in my pre-20th Century Brit Lit class?" I said "Not having to read any more E. M. Forster." You see, Forster was the subject of his doctoral dissertation, and strongly featured in his writing seminar which I had taken the year before. Well, I wasn't going to lie to the man... and THAT little story has absolutely nothing to do with anything.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Signature moments

Susie and I have gotten into the show "NUMB3RS" recently. I'll admit, I'm a bit surprised at how much she likes it, since when it first came out she told me how much she really doesn't like Judd Hirsch. But we saw an episode about two weeks ago, and we enjoyed it enough that we bought the Season One DVD set. When we finished it, Susie said, "So, are you going to get Seasons Two and Three then?" We've been watching an episode or two every evening, and we now have two episodes left in Season Two.

We have noticed that watching so much of a series in such a back-to-back way tends to really highlight some of the subtle things that TV producers will do to sort of "unify" their shows. It's the kind of thing that leads to drinking games, or YouTube videos like the ones I pointed out a while back. Some of these things are specifically mentioned in the "special features" on the DVD, like what they call "Charlie-vision," but most of them are not. For instance, many people in the FBI offices wear lavender clothing, and the walls of the offices are lavender. The show is also big on exposition. I've noticed this in a lot of shows lately, but especially in this one.

Don: "It looks like they were victims of phishing."
Megan: "Right, where someone sends a fake email pretending to be the bank asking for account details."

See that? Don didn't ASK for an explanation; he seemed to know what it was just fine. And yet Megan felt it necessary not only to acknowledge that she knew it as well, but to explain it to Don, I guess so he knew she knew, but also to educate Great-Aunt Mabel watching at home, who might not even be sure she knows what a bank is. NUMB3RS does that a lot.

But the one that gets me is the one I've decided to call Don's Gun Gum. Watch the show. Any scene where Don is "going tactical," he's chewing gum. Especially if he's wearing his bullet-proof vest. No, if he draws his gun in response to an event, he might not have his gum, but if he has time to think about what he's doing -- busting into a room, making an arrest of a guy in a car -- he's chewin' away like there's no tomorrow. So, if Don chews gum, take a drink. If a character explains something for no good reason, drink. Any others?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

This wasn't in the manual

It's pretty tiring playing hide-and-seek all day, I tell you what. To the guy who led me into the swamp: thanks. Those boots are ruined now. And we got caught, so yeah, as a strategy... not so much. But the worst part of the day is right now, after I've gotten home. Now I have to wash this off of my face:

I'm a guy. What do I know about taking off make-up? Here's what I know: I've already spent 10 minutes with the soap and washcloth, and Susie's going to have to wash the pillowcases tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Olly olly olsen free!

One of the fun things about my job is that sometimes we get to go out and do stuff. A few weeks ago I got to go to a merchant marine academy and spend the day in their "ocean simulator." It's a giant pool, about 30 feet deep, that can simulate storms by creating 10-foot swells, rainfall, wind, and darkness. We learn how not to drown, if we're ever in a potential drowning situation.

Tomorrow I get to go out into the woods and play hide-and-seek. Of course, it's the first week of November and likely to be rather cold, but I get to spend the day running through the forest (more like slinking through the forest) while a gang of highly-trained assassins (hehe) tries to catch me.
What did YOU shout, as a kid, when you were sick of "seeking" and wanted all of the hiders to come in? It's not like it's written in a book somewhere; you just pick it up from the other kids. You know that game, where you whisper to a friend, who passes it on, and so on, until the message is completely changed? That's what happened to our hide-and-seek call over the generations. I mean, it's patently nonsense, but to me it means "stop hiding, you win, come on in." It obviously had some meaning once. "All ye, all ye out's in free?" Maybe. Weird. And I call myself a linguist. Pfeh.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Just in case

I want to post something more pithy than this today, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is I want to say. I'm thinking it over, though, and I do plan to come back and write it out for all the world (ok, you three who've found me) to read. In the meanwhile, I've added the NaBloPoMo badge over there, and I think that qualifies as a post, if you combine it with this. Right?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Where you least expect

I posted a comment this morning on one of the blogs I read regularly. It wasn't anything particularly pithy or witty; in fact, it was pretty mundane. In it, I mentioned (without specifics) who I work for, sort of. It's not that it's a secret, but I really believe in the axiom of never posting what you wouldn't want your boss (or co-worker, or parents) to read. I also work for the kind of employers who tend to think that whatever you do, at work or away, you represent them. So I'm very careful about talking about work, or anything that might be related to work.

Anyway, I was less vague than usual over there, and I identified in a sort of nebulous way who I work for. When I went back to that blog later, I saw a comment addressed to me by name, expressing good wishes for my safety. Now, the job I do is considered by many to be one of those that carries a higher than usual degree of risk. While I admit the validity of that point of view, and in fact, I admire and respect my colleagues who do those very risky jobs, I am not, myself, in an especially dangerous situation, and I sometimes feel a little uncomfortable when someone shows me some special respect or consideration. It's a sort of reflected glory that belongs to those colleagues, not to me, but it would be churlish of me to point that out. So I accept, on behalf of them, the respect shown me, and the concern. If you know who I work for, you know they deserve it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Sherman, set the WayBack Machine for...

Oh, my. I can't say anything. Just go have a look. I lived through this. Pity me.

Share and share alike

I've decided, for NaBloPoMo, that every day in addition to posting on my own blog here, I'm going to read at least one random blog from the NaBloPoMo site, and comment on at least one of them. If someone comes here from NaBloPoMo and comments, I'll read their blog in return, and try to comment. So, I'm off to read the blog of "not fainthearted," who commented on my post yesterday. And then I'm going to hit a random blog or two.

If you're here from NaBloPoMo, do me a favor: read some of the back posts, and post a comment. I don't care if you comment on something old or something recent. Just let me know you've been here and read something. And, as I said, I'll return the favor.

Roller Coaster

I've been expecting to go on this extended trip for work for a while now. We were expecting to leave next week. It's something that's important to me professionally, as it gives me opportunities to learn things I just can't do while I'm at home. I've been looking forward to it, both because it's to a really cool place, and because, frankly, I've felt a bit left out. Others have been to this place, but I haven't had the good fortune to be both at home and available when the trips came up. This time was for me.

Then last week something happened. Upper levels of management (and boy, is THAT an understatement) decided that we should go somewhere else. Oh, and by the way, the job you do? We don't need it so much over there, so you and your trainer (and a couple of other folks) will be taken off of the list, and replaced by a few others.

Sigh. OK, these things happen. But then they changed their mind, and said I WOULD go. Sadly, that lasted only a day or so, as they quickly changed back and decided that my trainer and I would best be served by staying home. But just in case we DON'T go to the other place, plan to go to the first place. It got as far as signing out of the office in preparation to leave, before they finally said no, we're definitely not going to the first place, and you're and those other 4 guys are staying home so we can take these 3 guys.

Yesterday I was out doing some other training. When I came home I checked my work email, and found that while I was out, they changed the list again. Everyone who was originally supposed to go on the trip to the first place is now back on the list, and the extra people are off. The list is back to where it was at the very beginning, but the trip is going to the second place. Oh, there's one exception. *I* am not on the list. My trainer is. And since I was out of the office all day, I don't know why not.

Now I need to go to work today and find out what's going on, and figure out how personally I need to take this. I sincerely hope that I don't have to take it personally at all, but I can't help feeling a little ... betrayed. Maybe that's not the best word, but it's the one that comes to mind first. We'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A true challenge

So... NaBloPoMo. National Blog Posting Month. One day, one post. A pledge to post at least once a day for a month. It doesn't have to be long, it doesn't have to be pretty. But it does have to be a post.

I'm going to give it a go. And this is number one. Thanks for coming by. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Food of the (geek) gods

Here's a pop quiz: Do you know what this is?

No? How about a wider angle:

Still not sure? Here's the full picture:

This, my friends, is what the Brits call "Romanesque" or "Romaness," which is also referred to as "Romanesco Broccoli." It's not a created hybrid of anything, as it's apparently been around since at least the 16th century. It's a pretty stunning examply of fractals in nature. It's described as tasting "like cauliflower, without the aftertaste." I've only had a tiny taste of it, raw, but it was rather tasty. We're having some, steamed, with dinner tonight. If ever a food was made for geeks, this is it. If you have any mathematicians in your family, serve this at Thanksgiving and get a whole new level of dinner-table conversation!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Like son, like father.

Remember this? And the post it belongs to?

Well, today we add this:

And, because I'm so proud of him, here's my inspiration for this:

As you can probably see by his face, he's quite pleased. And well he should be.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Down by the old mill stream.... no, wait...

I've had a bunch of education, courtesy of my job. I've also managed to take a few college courses on my own. Unfortunately, because of the nature of my work, it's difficult to enroll in a school and stay there all the way through to graduation. Fortunately, there's Excelsior College. Now, there are those who think of it as just another diploma mill, but I must beg to differ. Excelsior (formerly Regents College of the University of the State of New York) is accredited by an actual U.S. Department of Education-recognized accreditation organization. It doesn't offer credit for "life experience" or "alternative study." What it does offer is acceptance of transfer credits from other accredited institutions, in addition to its own distance-learning courses. This is a great boon to people like me. I can take my 15 credits from XYZ University, my 37 from PDQ State, and so on, and transfer them to Excelsior, who will evaluate them and give me credit toward an Excelsior degree. Just like any other school. The big difference is that Excelsior doesn't have a residence requirement. They don't insist that I earn a certain number of credits through them. They'll offer courses if I need them, but if I have enough credits for a Bachelor's degree spread around several different schools (because I've moved around a lot) Excelsior will award me that degree. It saves me having to repeat classes just to satisfy XYZ University's requirement that at least 30 credits be earned in their classrooms. The difference between Excelsior and the diploma mills is this: with Excelsior, I actually did take classes, earn grades, and learn something. With a diploma mill, you pretty much send them a check.

So why do I mention this? Well, as I said, I have had a lot of education, but it's spread out around a few different schools. I recently earned a promotion at work, and the (as yet) unwritten rule is that for the NEXT promotion, a Bachelor's degree is pretty much required. Oh, you CAN get promoted without one, but the statistics are something like 95% of promotees have one. So anyway, I decided I would finally gather up my credits and see what I needed to finish. I sent all of my transcripts to Excelsior, and waited. Last night, I got a notification that they had reviewed my transcripts, and decided that for my desired degree program (BS in Liberal Studies) I needed...

3 hours. 2 hours of "Natural Science/Math" and 1 hour of "Information Literacy."
That's not bad, not bad at all. Wow, I had no idea I was so close to being able to change the "education level" checkboxes on all the forms I'll fill in in the future. Yep. 3 hours. 2 classes. I can probably CLEP the math; I can't imagine they want me to get an upper level math for a Liberal Arts degree. That's three credits. One credit of overkill. So all I'll need is the one credit of...

Wait... what? "Information Literacy?" Yep. It seems they've (along with most other online-type schools) decided that I need a course in "how to properly conduct research in the 21st century, using the internet." Things like, if I'm researching a medical question, do I trust the AMA website more, or do I choose to get my information from some guy who thinks everyone would be healthy if only they drank their own urine every day?

This SEEMS like a reasonable request. But... it's a "self-paced" class. It's "taught" by their librarians. It's scheduled for 8-weeks, but it can be successfully completed in 45 minutes (I know at least one person who has). And it costs $270. You'd think that anyone who could find Excelsior's website, create a login, register for the school, retrieve the email and check their course progress would pretty much have demonstrated the required proficiency. But they need to know that I can do it "properly." Oh, they say they're willing to accept it as a transfer from another accreditied school, but I also know someone who tried to do THAT, and... they hoops he had to jump through? No. I'm going to pay it. Well, actually, no I'm not -- my employer is. But if you know where I work, you know who's really going to pay it.

Rest assured, however, that I will be lodging a very strongly worded complaint with the college regarding this... travesty.

Just as soon as my diploma arrives.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sleep tight...

Because of my lengthy commute, usually I arrive home just in time for dinner and then bedtime. We have some bedtime rituals in our house that make chivvying two children off to dreamland just a bit easier for us: Lily and I have "a race" up the stairs. No matter who wins, it's always "a drawl," which is a cool thing because only if we have "a drawl" do we get to share a special "draw hug" involving an extra-tight squeeze around my neck. Since Lily expects this race every night, if I head up without her she gets quite upset. On the other hand, if I just suggest that tonight I might actually win the race (by getting a head start) she will immediately drop everything (including the "but I don't want to go to bed now, I'm not tired" game) and head peaceably off to bed. Then I brush her teeth, and we "race" to her room, where I read her two stories and sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." After that, I'll turn on her musical night-light, which she's had since she was born (sort of), at which point she'll usually tell me she can't sleep. So I will suggest she count something. The first time, I suggested that old standby, sheep. The next night, however, she said, "I counted all the sheep." So I picked some other animal. Then one night she wanted to count gummy bears. Ooookay. Then it became "gummy (somethings)" every night. Next we progressed to "chocolate gummy (somethings)," and we are currently counting "mint chocolate gummy (somethings)" each bedtime. Oh, and now I have to have her count TWO things. So tonight she's upstairs counting "mint chocolate gummy rhinoceroses" and "mint chocolate gummy giraffes."

David's ritual is much easier now, although it was quite nearly as complex in the past. Now, all I have to do every night is make sure to "give him his bed animal." See, once upon a time, when he was about 2, I said to him one night, "Good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed... um... (pretending to forget what bites you in bed)... alligators bite!" He giggled and said, "No, daddy, BUGS!" So the next night, I played for the laugh again (hey, I know my audiences!) and chose some other creature to lurk in wait in the bedclothes. We've done this now nearly every night since. He MUST correct me ("Bugs!!!") or the ritual is incomplete. Sometimes, when I'm away, I'll enlist Susie's help, either by giving her a list or a topic, and she acts as my proxy. Topic? Yes, since we've been doing this so long, we've made more of a game out of it. It started out by me trying to name a different animal each night starting with successive letters of the alphabet. Then it was all mythical creatures, then extinct creatures, and so on. The deal now is, I think of a unifying characteristic, and each night one animal from that group is the biter. He has a week to figure it out. He's quick, I'll tell you. He's never needed more than three days, but now he's testing me. Once he figures it out, he writes it down, and waits for the end of the week to see what animals I've chosen to fit the pattern. This week's group started on Tuesday, with penguin, followed by flamingo and tiger. And so I'll end this post the same way I ended my day with David:

"Good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed raccoons bite!"

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just like old times.

Looks like I'm all moved back in over here. All the posts from there have been posted here. I still need to unpack the rest of the boxes (add the labels, see if the comments will transfer) but for the most part, this is it. Aren't you glad you waited?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

No, you aren't imagining things...

Yep. I've moved this blog back to The stats feature at wordpress wasn't doing what I wanted it to do, so there ya go. If there's anything you liked there, I'm going to be slowly moving it all over here, but it's a cut-and-paste-and-adjust-the-date kind of process. If you can't wait (and if you haven't read it yet, you should go, you don't know what you're missing!) you can go back over to the other host and see it by clicking here. Eventually all will be as it was. Except better.

Well, NOW I've done it...

Since I can’t seem to remember to write over here, I’ve gone and signed up on a writers’ community website, Don’t know what they do there. I guess I’ll read a bit, and maybe write some short stuff. Who knows, maybe I’ll even remember to come back and post here now and again. Hope so. Stay tuned!!

EDIT, about 10 minutes later: Ooookay. So, I signed up for that site. Looked good. Came here, posted that above. Went back. Looked around. Um… not so much for me, I think. Lots of angsty writing, lots of “groups” of, shall we say, “specialized interest” writers. Lots of, hmm… let’s say “women writers of science fiction, who feature cats prominently in their writing.” I don’t know what that means, really, but it’s a type of writing Susie and I have noticed that should probably be its own sub-genre. And things like this story. OK, it’s not so much a story as a rant. And as such, it’s mildly amusing, although I’d say a bit trite, and the writing level is that of a reasonably intelligent high-school freshman who’s seen a few episodes of “Seinfeld.” But what gets me is the gushing of the reviewers. “Well written.” “Wonderful.” Um, no. Sorry. I’d post my own review, but since I don’t have any writing of my own (except for what’s here in this blog) to contribute, I don’t think that would be very nice. I know, I know, I’ve just slammed the guy pretty hard here. But do you know how I found this story? It’s listed as the number 1 rated story on the site. Sigh. What do you think, oh hordes of faithful readers? Should I go and call the kettle black? Anyway, I guess I’ll keep looking around. I want to write, you know. I’ve said it before. I’ve already signed up to be reminded for this years NaNoWriMo. And who knows, maybe I’ll even write a science fiction story, about a strong woman and her cat, just to post it back to WritersCafe.

Monday, July 23, 2007

MUCH better than an iPhone!

I’ve been reading about this project for a while, and I’m glad to see it finally go into production. A $100 laptop, designed for children, to get computers into places where there has been a historical lack of technology. Three cheers for OLPC!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's probably the only way *I'll* ever get one...

You may have noticed I’m a bit of a geek, and I loves me my gadgets. So when the iPhone was announced, I could hardly wait to see it. Then I saw it, and I wanted it. Then I saw the price tag, and the fact that it’s tied to a specific network, and I would have to use it on “international roaming” all the time, and, well, the joy went out of it a little.
You may also know that my wife is an avid knitter. She has her own blog about it, The Knit Farm, which is where I stole got the name for my blog from. She’s done some amazing stuff, and right now she’s doing some mystery pattern thingy.
What do these things have to do with each other? Just this. Is that the coolest thing, or what?

Here, there, and everywhere

Where to begin? We went back home at the end of July, for Berit’s memorial. Because we purchased our tickets late (having to do with my not getting approval to leave until the last minute because I was away) we found that it was actually not much more expensive to purchase tickets on MaxJet, an all-business-class airline, than it would have been to get last-minute coach tickets elsewhere. It meant flying into Dulles instead of somewhere more convenient, but hey, I’ve made that drive dozens of times. So, cool, right? Except that when we arrived at the airport to leave, we found out that our flight was delayed. Bad, right? Except that MaxJet had set aside rooms for us at the airport Radisson for us to hang around in to wait. Good, right? Except that (ok, I’m gonna stop the “good new/bad news” thing now…) they called to tell us that the flight had been cancelled. Long story shortened slightly, they put us up there for the night (in two adjoining rooms), paid for our meals, and the next day paid for a van/cab ride from Stanstead to Heathrow so that we could catch the evening flight on Virgin Atlantic… in Upper Class, including access to the “Clubhouse,” where EVERYTHING is complimentary. Sweet! Now, I did some research, and found that according to EU rules, they did everything they were required to do (and probably to a slightly higher level of quality than required) except for one thing: They’re required to compensate us with cash as well. To the tune of 600 Euros. Each. Now, let’s hold that thought for a moment.
Cut to the return leg of the trip. There we are at the check-in counter at Dulles, and the desk agent says, “We had some equipment problems with our aircraft.” Now, by this time we’ve done some research on MaxJet, and discovered that they only own three airplanes. Because of this they’ve had some problems meeting schedules, and had in fact cancelled several (some would say “many”) flights in the past few weeks. But they also had a partial solution, which some of the bloggers we had read were a bit lukewarm in their reviews of. And in fact, although we expected the agent to continue with, “so we’ve had to cancel the flight,” instead he said, “so we’ve leased an aircraft from another company. We think you’ll like it, it’s the Dallas Mavericks‘ team plane.” I leaned back to Susie and gave her this bit of news, and she told me how she had heard of people getting the Mavericks’ plane and the reports weren’t great. I mentioned this to the agent, and he seemed surprised. “It’s nicer than our planes, I think,” he said. Then he explained that since the plane was configured differently from their regular planes, we weren’t able to get the seats we had pre-selected. “FAA requires us to put families together, so we put you in the ‘club’ seats. That’s two seats facing two other seats, with a table in the middle.” Sounds good to me.
So, as he’s checking in our bags, the gate manager comes over, and says, “We’re really sorry for the inconvenience of you not having the seats you selected, so to compensate you for that, and for the uncomfortable nature of seats that face backward, we’re going to give you a $500 travel credit. Each.” Great! We proceed to the lounge; as “business class” passengers, we were entitled to use the NorthWest Airlines lounge… free drinks, snacks, open bar… not as nice as Virgin’s Clubhouse, but better than the standard uncomfortable gate-area seating. When the flight was called for boarding, we got on, and found our seats. Now, I can’t really describe this as well as these few pictures can, so here’s the View Forward from my seat, here’s the view aft. Here’s Lily watching a movie (look at how massive her seat is!) and here’s me helping David with his homework. And these are the seats that the VP of Customer Service refers to as “uncomfortable seating” in his email to me with the instructions on using our $500 travel credits. Uncomfortable? I guess my standards aren’t high enough…
But the real question that remains to me now is… remember the first part of our trip, where the flight was cancelled? Remember the 600 Euros each we were supposed to get, “for our trouble,” under EU laws? Yeah… what do you think?Should I write to them and ask for what I’m entitled to by law, or should I let it go and call it good? Comments welcome!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gee, I sure know how to keep 'em coming back...

OK, so it’s been, what, 4 months? But frankly, just after my last post, things didn’t seem so blog-worthy for a while. (If you read Susie’s blog, you’ll know why.) Then I was away, then we went away, and, well, you know how when you get out of the habit of doing something, it’s extra hard to get back into it? Yeah.

Anyway, I’ll be posting more. Promise. And I know, I’ve made that promise before. But this time I mean it. I hope. Gimme another chance?

Friday, March 9, 2007

Wow... that wasn't what I meant to do at all...

mentioned in the previous entry that I was trying to figure out the trackback thingy, and in fact I did. Unfortunately, it’s not at all what I thought it was. See, I thought it was just a way of linking to someone else’s blog while providing them with a bit of a heads-up that you were doing so. But what it REALLY is, apparently, is a way to put a link to YOUR blog on theirs. So if I post about Wil Wheaton’s mention of knitting, and trackback to that mention, what happens is, on his page where he mentions knitting, now there’s an entry for anyone who reads that entry that says, “Hey, Dave over at has also posted about this subject, go take a look.”

So, if you’re a WWdN fan, cruelly led here by the evils of mistaken trackback, I apologize, but please, have a look around. Maybe there’s something here for you too.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Geek chic

If you’re reading my blog, you probably got here from my wife’s blog, and so you’re probably a knitter. Well, I’m a geek. And this post by Wil Wheaton (very brief) may have achieved knitter/geek synergistic perfection. Heh. (And it provides me a chance to see if I have this “trackback” thing figured out.

A minefield

Ok, so I haven’t been posting. The problem is, I can’t really talk about work. It’s just not that I have a job I’m not supposed to talk about (which, sort of), or that what happens is so weird that “I just can’t talk about it” (which, sometimes), but it’s also a fair amount of “if you can’t say anything nice…” (which, um, yeah). Now, I’m not saying I’d be saying anything not-nice, but maybe some of the stories I told, from my perspective, might, hmm, “reflect poorly” on other people, and even if I like and admire them, you just KNOW they’re going to find this blog just after I write some juicy bit of “guess what so-and-so did today” and recognize themselves. And as everyone knows, work is where the really good stuff happens.

Even to talk about processes at work, the way we do things, the whole “Jack has to approve this before Mary can approve this before Fred can even see it to recommend that Mabel pass it on to Charlie, who could approve it, but he’s not here this week,” is dangerous ground. I may test the waters there, but it’s gonna be a tricky one.

Anyway, if you’re one of my legions of devoted fans, rejoice! I’ve posted today! I promise to try harder.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Curse you, Shamus Young!

I’ve mentioned Shamus and his blog before, and in fact if you look over there —> you’ll see a link. So today, I pulled up his page, and I see a video from my old pal YouTube. Like a moth drawn to a flame, I cannot resist. I click. I’m treated to this

Go ahead… click it. You know you wanna…

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Life, the Universe, and... Tae Kwon Do?

OK, so I turned 42 this year. I should have all the answers (or, according to Douglas Adams, perhaps I should be the answer). So, riddle me this, Batman… Why on earth did I pick now to take up Tae Kwon Do? What was I thinking?

Ok, what I was thinking was, David started TKD last year. Susie and I wanted to find a physical activity for him that he liked and would stick with. He’s not much for team sports, so when we saw the class advertised, we asked if he’d be interested. He said yes, and we signed him up. A couple of weeks in, I suggested maybe I could join the class as well, and it could be a sort of father/son thing. He seemed to like the idea, but it was obvious he was torn. We eventually puzzled out that maybe he didn’t care so much to be “in competition” with me, and if we were both in the same class, I would (by virtue of age and general experience) be “better” than he was. So I offered him a deal: I’d start, but not until after he had his second grading, for yellow belt.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

This IS the funny you're looking for

Oh, yes, if you’re at all a Star Wars fan, you MUST go see this now. Chad Vader. Genius.

I'm not hungry... yet.

I got a call from my doctor’s office today. Seems I forgot to go to the lab and get my blood re-drawn for the physical I had last month. Oops. But this means I have to do the whole “fast for 12 hours” thing again, which means I have to go to my morning workout without breakfast. Yeah, that’s gonna work out just fine.

On the bright side, I’m almost at a 20-pound loss since just before Christmas, which makes me happy. Just 36 more to go… I know I said this wouldn’t become one of those “weightloss blogs,” and it isn’t, but I can’t recommend Weight Watchers enough.

Time to go watch “Life On Mars,” which, for those of you outside the UK, is a detective show about a modern-day cop who, having been hit by a car, finds himself 30 years in the past, in 1973 Birmingham, England. Is he in a coma, is he dead, is he crazy? Who knows? It earn the highest accolade Susie and I bestow, which is, after each episode, we look at each other and say, “That’s a good show.” If you can find a way, watch it.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I've decided to move this blog to a different blog host, at least for now. The new one gives me stats (heh) and has some other features that I like. If you're one of my millions of devoted fans (see below) then you'll surely be following me to the new home of The Wit Farm.

See ya there!

The more things change...

When I was a kid, every Sunday we'd go to my Dad's house. At the end of each visit, as he drove us back to Mom's, we'd ask if we could stop for ice cream at the shop on the next block. The answer was usually "no." One week, Dad heaved a sigh and said, "You know, I like to give you guys things, but sometimes I like them to be a surprise. If you ask me every week for ice cream, then I can never surprise you with it. I wish you wouldn't ask every week." So of course we stopped asking, but every week we held our breath as we drove past the shop, to see if this would be the week for "the surprise."

I only mention this because I'm beginning to understand his frustration. The situation isn't exactly the same, but it's similar. Susie and I like to give the kids surprises. The Disney trip, for instance, was a massive surprise... mostly. And this weekend, I took David to the fun fair (carnival) and (as a surprise) I wanted to take him to a movie that he'd been wanting to see ("Arthur and the Invisibles").

The problem is that David is a very big "why" person. As in, "Why do I have to hurry and put my shoes on?" or "WHY do I have to take a bath?" or "WHY do I have to go to bed?" Normally, the answers are, "So we can go out", "Because you're dirty", and "Because it's bedtime." But when the answer is REALLY "So we don't miss the surprise movie time" or "So you don't have to bathe tomorrow before we go to DISNEYLAND" or "Because we have to get up early so we don't miss the train," the usual 8-year-old foot-dragging and tantrum-throwing sulkiness becomes twice as irritating. And it inevitably leads to us saying, "Why? You want to know why? Because we're going to DISNEYLAND tomorrow, which we wanted to do as a surprise, but since we've spent an hour and a half trying to get you into the tub without resorting to physical violence, and we can't just say 'Forget it, no bath, no Disney,' we're going to spoil the surprise and see if maybe, just MAYBE, that will motivate you to get yourself into the tub and then into bed before midnight." And that kind of sucks the fun out of things, you know?

I love him to pieces, but I begin to understand the heavy sigh that prefaced my Dad's comment.

I'll get the hang of this, really...

OK, well, once a week is certainly not going to keep anyone reading. I know this. And that assumes, of course, that anyone wanted to keep reading in the first place. So let's assume there's a million of you out there, my devoted fans. I'll try to write more often, daily even. Most of it won't be gems, but who knows? Maybe there will even be something worth reading now and again.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Been a while...

Yeah, I've been slacking. I took a few weeks away from work to study for a promotion test, and I kinda got out of the not-quite-well-established habit of blogging.

Susie's taken David to London for the day, in anticipatory celebration of her birthday tomorrow. So it's just Lily and me here today. We've got a full day planned, with a trip to the library, lunch out, and some other fun dad/daughter bonding things :)

I was inspired to write here today because I commented on a post over at Shamus Young's "Twenty-Sided" blog section. When you comment there, he asks you to enter your website, and I realized that if anyone read my comment, and came here, they'd find a somewhat outdated site. So I thought I'd at least post something.

I discovered Shamus' site when someone pointed me at the brilliant "DM Of The Rings" comic, which reimagines what "Lord of the Rings" might be like if it were a "Dungeons & Dragons"-type gaming session. If you're a gamer, check it out. I've added Shamus to my list of regular reads, and I'll be adding a link over on the side there next to Susie and Wil Wheaton.

Now, I've included some links above, and I know there's some sort of "Trackback" feature on some of them, which I think is supposed to let him know I've linked to him. But I don't know how to make it work, at least, not for sure, so, Shamus, if you read this, and it's NOT because of "trackback," sorry... I'll figure it out.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Who's the leader of the club...?

Susie and I took the kids for a surprise visit to "Disneyland Resort Paris" last weekend. We told them we were going to London for the day, and the next morning instead of taking the train home, we surprised them by getting on the Eurostar instead. We got in on Sunday afternoon, and left on Wednesday. For those of you considering a trip to "The Park Formerly Known as EuroDisney," here are a few observations:

1) French train stations suck. They're all (and I mean every one we saw, stopped at, or passed through) gray concrete and glass and cavernous. They aren't so much "buildings" as "big bus shelters." They keep the rain off, but they don't keep the wind out, because it's the kind of building where it's a roof held up by posts, and there are walls but they don't go all the way to the roof (or even the floor). They actually have space heaters scattered about, built in. The waiting rooms make the NY Port Authority bus station look like a suite at the Ritz. Have a look at the station right at the gates to Disney here.

2) Some French people are actually not rude. By this I mean the people who work at Disneyland, who are exceptionally well trained in "the Disney Way."

3) Many Disneyland visitors (and I mostly mean the French ones) are extremely rude. F'rinstance, when the four of us were wandering through the "Alice in Wonderland" labyrinth, enjoying letting Lily "lead" us, more than once we were literally physically shouldered aside by... pairs of adults. Yes, grim faced, determined, these couples acted as though they had been told that if they were not FIRST to the Red Queen's Castle at the end someone would take away their escargot. They have no concept of "getting in line" for something. David actually missed not one, not two, but THREE chances to get an autograph from Stitch (of Lilo & Stitch fame) because of both pushy children, and parents who shoved their children in front of him. Infuriating, and giving the parents the evil eye resulted in, of course, a gallic shrug (which, if you've always wondered exactly what that means, is a little shrug with a look of "And this is my problem, how, exactly?")

4) If you're going to go, and don't mind a little cold, go in the low season. Waiting times for most rides was under 5 minutes, and there's enough to do indoors that you don't mind the wind so much. And besides, the kids don't care, as long as they're bundled up (and sometimes even if they're not).

5) If you're going to do anything requiring a reservation (breakfast with the characters, for instance) take the first slot of the day. No one else does, and you get much much more value for your time. We did the character breakfast. The restaurant was set up with 25-30 tables, and there were 5 characters wandering the room interacting with the diners. There were only 6 full tables for the first seating. Halfway through the characters leave, and 5 more come out. Still only 6 tables. We had a blast having Mickey, Donald, and the rest at our table the entire time we were there, rather than having to fight for a few minutes of their attention with the other diners (and, see #3 above).

6) Eurostar: Nice train. Take the direct one from London to Disney, and avoid the change at Lille Europe. A missed connection, a late train, and your travel day is ruined.

All in all, a great trip, despite #3 up there, and #1 was only a problem at the end. If you're on "the list" you've probably been pointed to the slideshow highlights. If not, drop me a note and I'll send you directions.

Wow, this was a "fluff piece," wasn't it? :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

There I go, thinkin' again...

You know, I want to write about politics. I want to write about the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have thoughts on this, as some of you might well imagine. But it seems so... pretentious. I just said in my last post that I knew what I wanted to write here, and I do. But it's just so heavy. So I'm going to just jump in.

I've seen pictures and videos of the Iraqi and Afghan armies, and heard the stories of the "rigorous" 2-day, or 2 week, or whatever, "basic training" program that they go through, and then I see them, on the news, walking the streets of Baghdad and Qandahar, looking completely unprepared. I hear stories of them helping insurgents, because they consider us occupiers rather than allies, because their imam has told them we are tools of Satan, or because they are using their newfound power for their own gain rather than to help their country. I see and hear all of this, and I despair of ever getting our troops out of there, because until those armies (and police forces, and anyone else with the official power to use force) thinks of themselves as professional and capable they will be little more than poorly trained Wild West posses.

But I have a suggestion...

No one in the world creates a more powerful or more deserved feeling of esprit de corps, belonging, and competence than the US Marine Corps. If you've ever known a Marine, you'll know what I mean. Their boot camp is grueling, demeaning, and demanding. It will tear a person down to nothing, then take that nothing turn it into a Marine. That Marine will never doubt his abilities or his loyalties, which are never to himself, but to his country, his Corps, and his comrades. This is the training we need to be giving to the Iraqi and Afghan armies. Then they will see themselves as protectors of their country. Then they will see that they have the real power, not the insurgents. And they will see that the real honor comes in using that power to build, not to destroy.

So I suggest that we take the two armies, in turns, to Parris Island and run the recruits through the full boot camp course. Teach them what it means to be a part of something bigger. And give them the actual skills they'll need to defend their country. And once they have the skills and confidence to do that, THEN we can leave them to it.

Hey, Kettle, I've got something to tell ya...

Wow, I've got some nerve, haven't I? I read Wil Wheaton's blog yesterday, and he posted about procrastination and writer's block. So what did I do? I had the nerve to comment on his post. Me, who hasn't written here in... well, too long. Worse still, I gave him advice on how to get past a block. Sigh.

I told him that if he can't think of anything to write, but feels the need to be writing, he should just start with "today I got up, had breakfast, etc." and see where that takes him, and eventually he'd be reminded of a story he wanted to tell, and off he'd go. Sounds good, right? So why don't I do it myself, then? Well, I shall. Actually, I already know what I want to write about, and I'm going to go do that now.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Boob Tube of the Next Generation

I admit it; I'm a YouTube junkie. I'm also a Fark junkie. So when Fark puts a link to a YouTube video, I'm sucked in. Sometimes it's junk, but sometimes it's just brilliant. Like this one. Did I mention I'm also a U2 fan?

Enjoy. I did.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Slowly, slowly...

OK, so I haven't been so great about posting regularly. I want to, but it's so easy to get distracted.

As a consolation, I offer two videos. The first, for those CSI:Miami fans out there, is a great compliation of David Caruso's "sunglasses" moments. If you're a fan, you know what I mean... Actually, there's another video out there of Horatio Caine and his "Sunglasses of Justice," a music video set to Morrissey's "Boy Racer." I'm not a Morrissey fan, so I don't know if this is one of his "hits," but the video is a hoot.

Second is a video that was recently played for me during a meeting at work. The presenter said it was how she felt about trying to deal with us, so I'm pretty sure I should feel a little insulted.

I'm going to talk more about politics, I think. Soon, too. You've been warned...

Sunday, January 7, 2007

What goes around...

Ever notice how in the movies or TV, when there's a bad guy who pushes everyone around, acts like he's entitled to anything he wants, and has no consideration for anyone else, and then the underdog turns the tables and gets the upper hand, the bad guy always, always, ends up cowering on the floor begging for the mercy and consideration he never showed?

Meet Representative John Boehner (R-OH), former majority leader (now minority leader...) who is quoted in the Boston Globe as saying, "What we really expect out of the Democrats is for them to treat us as they would liked to have been treated."

I don't know what pisses me off more: The fact that he asks this, or the fact that he doesn't even realize why Democrats might not be inclined to grant it.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

The wheels on the bus

Susie and I were talking last night about President Dubya, and his extensive use of signing statements when signing legislation. These things bother the hell out of me, frankly. The president is changing the law by instructing officials how to interpret and enforce it (or not to enforce it). A simple example: Congress passes legislation that says, "It is illegal for the US or its agencies to use torture, ever." The president signs it (because, who wouldn't?) and then adds a signing statement that says, "But I instruct everyone in the government not to prosecute anyone for violating this law if they do it in support of whatever we decide 'national security' means - and besides, 'torture' means what *I* say it does."

Whatever else you may think of him, the man's got balls. I don't know what to expect from the new Democratic majority, but I know that I'm looking forward to the day when the short bus pulls up to the White House to take Dubya back home...

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope you all (heh... as if there's a "you all") had a wonderful New Year's Eve celebration, and I wish you all the best in the year to come.

Yeah, I'm late. But I've had a few days off from work, and I've been using them to... do nothing. Played a little "Sonic Heroes" with David, which I think he enjoyed (I know I did, enough that I went back after he was asleep and played by myself. Heh.)

Friday was David's birthday, and we went to Pizza Express for dinner, which was wonderful and delicious and a treat for all. Then we came home and had a birthday cake, of which we each had a piece, and then we... threw away the leftovers. "WHAT?" I can hear you shouting. Well, Susie and I have gone back to the Weight Watchers Mafia. It works, we know from experience, and we've both decided that the time was right. So far, in 2 weeks, I've lost 8.2 pounds, so I must be doing something right. No, this isn't going to become one of the many "weight loss blogs" out there; there are enough of them without me adding my voice to the din. But every once in a while, I might mention it. And no, I'm not getting paid for linking to the websites I've linked to; maybe I SHOULD look into getting into Google's AdSense thing...

Anyway, on Sunday, the whole family went to Hunstanton, a small coastal resort town, to go mini-golfing for David's birthday. Sadly, they were closed. So we went to the Sea Life Sanctuary and had lunch. But since it was New Year's Eve, they were closing early. Strike Two. In consolation, I took David down the boardwalk to an arcade, but in typical English fashion, it was really more like a slot machine casino with a few arcade games. We played a few, but all in all it was a sort of a disappointing trip. I promised David we'd make another go of it when the weather gets nicer.

If you're reading this (Hi, Susie!) you might be wondering, where's the wit promised in the name? Well, there's lots in the news, but I don't want to make this post too rambling. I'll be making more posts later, and I promise to use at least a little wit in them. (Of course, "wit" doesn't just mean "funny," right?)

Until later, then...