Saturday, October 30, 2004

Kid Stuff

Kristi: I'm glad you're not three years old anymore.

Emma: Thank you for the lovely compliment.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Good dog!

Courtesy of Steve Gilliard:

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Busy Busy Busy

So much little stuff going on. Smudge is amazingly noisy and needy, and much more fond of me and Kristi than he is of Emma. Free Image Hosting at Emma, consequently, is becoming somewhat bored with him. I suppose we should have predicted all of that. He's getting along okay with Rambis, who has become the most tolerant cat ever in her old age. Izzy, however, is obviously holding a grudge about the whole situation, and I wonder if they'll ever coexist happily.

At work, the long-awaited move is tomorrow night. My new cube will look exactly like my old cube, only much neater; moving is great incentive to throw things out. Just ask Heather. (Or come to think of it, maybe you shouldn't.) Oh, and it'll have a window next to it. That's a sure sign that I've moved up as high as I'm going to go. The next "promotion," they'll put me outside the window.

As long as I'm catching up on old posts, "The Princess Bride" finally turned up. Remember when I said it wasn't in the DVD player? I was wrong. The problem is, it was in the DVD player. Like, way in. Don't ask me how that happened; I really don't want to think about it. The player was making a very unpleasant grinding sound when playing other discs, and finally just stopped playing anything. Since there was a library DVD inside it at the time, and since the drawer wouldn't open, I unscrewed the cover. And there was "The Princess Bride". Apparently it was shorting something out; after I removed it, the player worked perfectly.

I still haven't tried to play it yet; I know it's ruined, but I don't have the heart to actually witness it. Kristi thinks I'm nuts.

Friday, October 22, 2004


Remember when I asked if I was cruel?

Meet Smudge -- or, more formally, SmudgyCheeks. Smudge joins us today from the St. Paul animal shelter. I have no idea how we're going to keep Smudge out of Ram's food, or Ram out of Smudge's. Free Image Hosting at But Emma has worked hard at her reading vocabulary, and we felt a big reward was required. They don't get any bigger than this.

Smudge is about seven weeks old. He's the first confirmed male in the house outside of me (if anybody knows how to determine the gender of an ornamental goldfish, please let me know). I hope this means I'll have somebody to drink beer and watch football with.

He'll be spending the night in Emma's room; we've set up all of the kitty essentials in there for him, and perhaps they'll bond better this way. It also gives Ram and Izzy a chance to get used to the idea of another cat in the house without having to confront the reality of it face to face.

We're optimistic that our girls won't make a big thing out of Smudge's presence here. We've got three things working in our favor. First, they're old and he's very young; they really shouldn't see him as a threat at this age and size. Second, he's a male. In the past, back when we lived in the country, we had cats visit us from time to time. Strays, neighborhood cats, whatever. Ram and Izzy were always more accepting of the male visitors than the females. And third, he'll be Emma's cat; Ram will still have me, and Izzy will still have Kristi. And Ram and Izzy will have to put up with far less of Emma's attention, which can only make them happy, I think.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Odds, Please?

Boston has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win the American League pennant. That, in itself, reflects a phenomenal disregard for the law of averages. But if Houston wins game 7 against St. Louis and takes the National League pennant, we'll have a Texas team versus a Massachusetts team vying for the championship at the same time a Texas politician and a Massachusetts politician are in the final throes of their presidential race, and I'll be borrowing Shiva's tin-foil hat.

Seriously, what are the odds here? Has it ever happened that the World Series teams have reflected the state allegiences of the presidential candidates? I've looked, and the answer appears to be no. In 1972 we had Nixon, a Californian, and the Oakland A's -- but the A's played Cincinnati, and McGovern wasn't from Ohio. In 1932 you had FDR and the Yankees -- but the Cubs were from Illinois, and Hoover was from Iowa. 1936 is close: both teams were from Roosevelt's home state of New York. But his opponent, Alf Landon, was from Kansas, so it really doesn't count, does it? Reverse situation in 1920, when two Ohioans, Harding and Cox, ran, and Cleveland was in the Series.

There may be other one-team years, but it appears this year has a chance to be a true first, if the Astros win. And God, I hope they don't, because what passes for political discourse now in this country will end up reduced to talk about whether Bush needs to send in a reliever, or whether Kerry is going to choke like famous Boston teams past.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Living History

Apologies in advance; this is likely a long, rambling post. But it's an interesting story -- at least, it is for me.

Our house is, we like to think, distinctive in an unassuming way. It's on a street made up largely of what I think of as foursquare homes. And all of those houses tend to look the same; heck, they often even end up with the same two-tone exterior color scheme. Anyway, ours is different; it's got some features of craftsman homes and bungalows, but it really doesn't look quite like any other houses I've seen.

Kristi has long had an interest in the history of the house. We talked about doing a title search to get a list of past owners, try to find out something about the builder, etc. All we really knew is that it was built in 1921, and a few colorful anecdotes about the last residents before us.

A couple of weeks ago, just a few days after Kristi raised the subject of the house's history again, she got a phone call from a local architectural historian, Paul Larson. Paul wanted to feature our house on a tour! He arranged to visit us on the following Saturday at noon to see the interior and discuss it.

It seems that our house was among the first designed and built by a local architect/builder, Jay Axelrod. According to Paul, Axelrod actually was the first resident; he built it for himself. Later he would be responsible for introducing the bungalow court to the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, his business would fail in the Depression, and he disappeared from history in the early 1930s. Paul was going to be leading a tour of Axelrod buildings, and wanted ours to be the first.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks. It's Friday, the day before the tour comes through. Is Kristi frantically cleaning the house? No, actually. She's painting the kitchen. Have I mentioned that Kristi is crazy? Anyway, Kristi learns a valuable life lesson: never paint the kitchen without finding out first where the cats are.

After I caught Ram and, with Kristi's help, de-painted her, Kristi continued with her insane kitchen-painting obsession.

Saturday morning came the frantic housecleaning. Kristi learned another valuable life lesson: no matter how careful you think you'll be, or how little of the room you're painting, cleanup is easier if you use a dropcloth. There were paint droplets everywhere in the kitchen.

Anyway -- at 1:45, the tour arrived, complete with tour bus. About 25 people in all. They crowded into our little living room/dining room area (overflowing into the freshly-painted kitchen) to hear Paul talk about Jay Axelrod's stylistic choices and design features. The "tourists" were apparently largely involved in businesses related to remodeling/refurbishing, though there were doubtless some who were just interested in getting a look at other people's houses. One of them was clearly an aficianado; he actually has a booklet or brochure published by Axelrod's company, featuring the plan for our house (and possibly pictures); he said he'd bring it over someday. (He called this evening; he's coming over Monday night with the goods.)

After the short lecture, they poked around the entire first floor, complimenting various original features -- as well as things we'd done, such as the bathroom remodel). They also complimented Rambis several times; I refrained from telling them about her fingerpainting experiments of the night before. It was an odd experience, having a large crowd poking around our small house taking pictures of arches and benches and bookshelves. It's suddenly like we live in a museum piece.

I'm going to try to convince Kristi that the dustbunnies may well be authentic period dustbunnies. Wish me luck.

There's actually a whole other half of this story -- unrelated, but intertwined. Pertains to those colorful previous residents I mentioned earlier. I'll save that one for later.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Battle of the Bulge

There's been a lot of speculation about the apparent bulge between George Bush's shoulder blades. Is it a device that allows Karl Rove or Karen Hughes to prompt him during debates and press conferences? Is it a back brace, or a Kevlar vest? Some clever blogger (and I'm sorry, I can't remember who it was) even suggested it was one of these. (UPDATE: It was Tom Tomorrow. I should have remembered.)

I have a different theory. Based on the reports that Bush was drooling during last night's debate, I'd speculate he gets dehydrated. Maybe he wears a military-grade, chemical-warfare-resistant CamelBak.

Oh Dear

This can't be good.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Vegetarian Times

Emma is learning in school about the food chain. She challenged Kristi and me to each draw one.

I went the conventional route: Plankton. Little fish eats plankton. Medium-sized fish eats little fish. Bigger fish eats medium-sized fish. Orca eats bigger fish.

Kristi's was slightly different. Corn. Chicken eats corn. Jogger eats chicken. Mountain lion eats jogger.

Around our house, karma is a very palpable thing.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

For Kevin Only

Todd poses for in-house ad campaign.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Our Long National Nightmare ...

... is over? I don't know.

Today Meggie urges you to vote for Kerry in 2004, and Meggie in 2012. Here: let me help with 59 good reasons to follow Meggie's advice (at least the 2004 advice).

Unfortunately, we may be too late. Boing Boing notes that the Associated Press is reporting that Bush has already won the 2004 election. And gosh, if the AP says so, it's gotta be true.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Mailbag

Regarding my "Mr. Mom" post, Cyn notes:
I feel your pain- multiply that by 3 and that's my life.
Quite right -- and I can console myself with candy bars, too. The only defenses I have in whining about it are that:
  1. It's a new pain, at least for me; and
  2. This is a blog. Whining is pretty much its reason for being.

Regarding my post about Kristi's job, Kevin writes:
Mr. Mustard, I'm going to tell you something. And I want you to pay attention, because I think this can have as profound an effect on your life as it did on mine: "God only gives you what you can handle."
If you only know Kevin from his blog, you might assume he's just pontificating. I know better. However, I would amend his wise words as follows: "God only gives you what you can handle. Kevin gives you CDFFL."

And finally, CynnLynn writes:
I'm sorry to read about your and your wife's troubles, MMM. Will say an extra prayer for you.

Thanks -- but Kevin and Cyn are right. User your prayers for people with real problems. We're doing fine. Kristi is only out of work by choice; there are always jobs for nurses. She'll just have to find a less perfect one now. Her grandmother's death was, in some ways, a blessing; her mind was going, and Kristi's mom was stretched way too thin and on the verge of finding a home for her. And my own stuff is nothing. Time-consuming and stressful, but ultimately nothing.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I suppose I Should Try To Hang On To My Job

Because Kristi's just evaporated. Well, it's a good thing everything's going so well for me here at West.

Oh, wait ... shit.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Second Oldest Excuse in the Book

(The oldest, of course, being "the dog ate my homework.") Kristi's grandmother is dying -- or perhaps already gone. Kristi's mom called this afternoon, after Kristi's flight had already left for California, to say that she was off life support and failing. That was four hours or so ago.

So Emma and I are living the bachelor life. Which means I'll be fixing Emma's lunch in the morning and taking her to the school bus, picking her up in the afternoon, feeding her dinner, supervising homework and bathtime, and getting her to bed. In short: not a whole heck of a lot of time to work, much less blog. And all of that assumes that the funny cough she was sporting this evening doesn't mature into something nasty; if it does, I may be dropping off the radar entirely.

This Is Amazing!

You've got to see this. 164 different television series have been all linked together via crossovers and guest appearances -- and because one of them is St. Elsewhere, it proves that the other 163 are also the figments of someone's imagination.

164 different fictional television series, from The Addams Family to The X-Files -- all proved to be fictional! This is groundbreaking!

But wait. They're all fictional because they're all in the imagination of Tommy Westphall. But Tommy Westphall is a fictional character too. So, it's a double negative -- and that means they're all real!

I'm sure that Joe Rossi will be doing a major exposé of this in the Los Angeles Tribune soon.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Left Brained

As seen at Scarlette's, who saw it at Jayce's: my left-brain/right-brain profile.

Your Brain Usage Profile:

Auditory : 58%
Visual : 41%
Left : 72%
Right : 27%

Larry, you are mildly left-hemisphere dominant while showing a slight preference for auditory processing. This overall combination seems to indicate a well-working blend of logic and judgment and organization, with sufficient intuition, perception and creativity to balance that dominance.

You will at times experience conflict between how you feel and what you think which will generally be resolved in favor of what you think. You will find yourself interested in the practical applications of whatever material you have learned or whatever situation you face and will retain the ability to refine whatever knowledge you possess or aspects of whatever position you are in.

By and large, you will orient yourself toward intellectual activities and structure. Though not rigid, you will schedule yourself, plan, and focus on routine and continuity of operations, rather than on changes and disruptions

When changes or disruptions occur, you are likely to consider first how to ensure that such disruptions do The same balance is reflected in your sensory preference. You will tend to be reflective and measured in your interaction style. For the most part, you will be considered objective without being cold and goal-oriented while retaining the capacity to listen to others.

Preferentially you learn by listening and maintaining significant internal dialogues with yourself. Nevertheless, you have sufficient visualization capabilities to benefit from using graphs, charts, doodles, or even body movement to enhance your comprehension and memory.

To the extent that you are even implicitly aware of your hemispheric dominance and sensory style, you will feel most comfortable in those arenas which emphasize verbal skills and logic. Teaching, law, and science are those that stand out among the professions, along with technical sales and management.

Brad's Chili Cookoff

There will be much photoblogging of this event. (UPDATE: see here and here.) Due to an unfortunate need to charge batteries, I missed all of the early goodness, and I really need to read up on the camera for night shots. Really, the only picture worth sharing is this one of Nidhi demonstrating the traditional Nepalese method for making Smores.

Brad and Mary deserve special thanks for making the whole event happen. The chili was all really good. I definitely did the right thing by not even trying to compete. Kevin's vegetarian chili really did deserve an award all its own; that's a recipe that needs sharing. In the meantime, here's our recipe for corn salsa. We're not sure where it came from originally; possibly a Penzey's catalogue. Whatever its origins, it's been modified since.

4 cups sweet corn (1 16-oz bag frozen, or about 6 large ears)
1 roasted bell pepper (you can buy these pre-roasted in jars), diced
1 large tomato, or about a cup of cherry tomatoes, chopped
2-3 minced jalapeno peppers, minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tbs water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder
2 Tbs fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
Mix dressing spices with water and let stand for 5 minutes. Add remaining dressing ingredients. Whisk and set aside.

If using fresh corn, cook and cut kernals from cob; if using frozen corn, thaw to room temperature (microwave carefully on defrost if you're in a hurry). Roast the bell pepper (unless you bought the jarred kind) and dice. Combine corn and pepper with remaining ingredients; mix well. Re-whisk the dressing, add, and toss.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Can We Stop the Drug War Now, Please?

I think we must have killed off the last enemy combatant.

Geez, poor John must have really been a threat to society when he was stoned. He might've fallen off his wheelchair onto someone. Oh, wait -- that would imply some level of control over his body when he wasn't stoned, so forget I said that.

Maybe he was dealing? Yeah, that's it. He was a dealer.

I'd blame John Ashcroft for this, but it's been going on too long. And I can't blame Reagan, because he's a saint and all. Damn -- guess I'll have to blame John for not being able to cope with life as a quadraplegic without chemical assistance. What a wimp.

Friday, October 01, 2004

What the Fox?

Fox News (which is, of course, completely Fair and Balanced) had this story up on their website today. They've since excised this completely fictional "news story" from the page; I pulled this out of my Firefox cache.

Yeah, they're a real news organization, all right.

The First Presidential Debate

I actually watched it. And I came away with impressions, almost entirely untainted by my visceral disgust and disdain for George Bush. (Remember, I said almost.)
  1. James Baker is an idiot. Whose brilliant idea was it to not have a box behind Bush's podium for him to stand on? He looked like he was a little kid playing at his daddy's job, which I think is about right, actually. It looked especially bizarre on a split screen, where, in order to put their heads at the same height, Bush's podium was significantly higher than Kerry's.
  2. Bush got the word "prayers" into his first sentence. Think his base noticed? I do.
  3. Kerry's hand gestures were annoying. They looked stiff and rehearsed. But that may be the worst thing I can say about his performance.
  4. Bush had trouble distinguishing between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. I'm shocked. Shocked!
  5. When asked whether a Kerry presidency would increase the odds of another 9/11-type attack, Bush was unable to acknowledge the possibility of a Kerry presidency. He must be reading the Gallup poll exclusively. He dodged other questions as well.
  6. Kerry missed a huge opportunity when Bush talked about Prime Minister Allawi's speech to Congress. The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Bush re-election campaign had a hand in writing Allawi's speech. In other words, Allawi is a political tool of Karl Rove's, and the perspectives laid out in his speech are inherently suspect. But Kerry said nothing about it.
  7. Kerry also failed to adequately answer the "$87 billion" charge, which was another huge opportunity lost. It's not difficult to explain: competing bills, one fiscally responsible, the other not.
  8. Bush looked visibly angry during many of the split-screens while Kerry was talking. And I'm betting that was part of the Kerry strategy; piss off the frat boy.
  9. "You know, it's hard work to try to love her as best as I can knowing full well that the decision I made caused her, her loved one to be in harm's way." What the hell? I'd think it'd be hard work for her to love you, Mr. President, after her husband got killed and all. Why is it hard for you to love her? (It wouldn't have anything to do with all of that public handholding you do with the guys, would it? Nah, didn't think so.)
  10. Kerry did a fine job pointing out how Bush had taken a question about Iraq ("Does the Iraq experience make it more likely or less likely that you would take the United States into another pre-emptive military action?") and twist it around to 9/11 in his answer ("the enemy attacked us, Jim"). And after Kerry drilled the point home, Bush looked and sounded every inch the C student when he responded, "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that."