Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Our friend Tom from California will be coming to visit in a couple of days. This has precipitated a mad scramble to finish the upstairs -- for some very, very limited definition of "finish". Not to mention the eternal repainting-of-the-computer-room project, which has left our desktop PC, a ton of books/CDs/DVDs, and a bunch of other crap sitting in a pile in the middle of our (small) bedroom for a couple of weeks.

The floor's been refinished upstairs. The window trim is installed and painted, the baseboards are painted but not installed. The built-in bed is theoretically usable -- no drawers yet, and there won't be until the weather warms up enough for me to work in the garage for more than a few minutes at a time. Oh, and no mattress either; that's still in the basement, and needs to be dragged up. The bathroom is mostly occupied by a large armoire which needs to be moved out into the room, and eventually to somewhere else entirely. The stair railing has yet to be installed. And there's no heat save what creeps up the stairs on its own.

In short, it's not very livable. But we're sending Tom up there anyway, because you know, that's the kind of people we are. (It'll be in better shape by the time he arrives, but there still won't be any heat.)

This, you might think, would not be a good time for Kristi to break another finger. To that I say, "Ha!"

I'm not actually sure it's broken; it might be badly jammed or sprained. But given her history, I'm betting on a break.

What? I've never told you about Kristi's fantastically fragile fracturing fingers? Shame on me.

Back in California, around 1995 or so, one of Kristi's dad's friends poured us a garage slab, and in the bargain a sidewalk from our back door to the garage. Cool. We checked it out after work. Kristi swung one leg over to straddle the walkway, and went to put one hand on each thigh.


Yeah, at the time I laughed at the idea that you could break a finger by casually jamming it against your own leg. I'm still paying for that laugh.

After we moved to Minnesota she broke the same finger again. Turns out she had some sort of bone deformity or cyst that made it prone to breakage. She had surgery on it, and it's been fine since.

Yesterday's incident involved a different finger -- unfortunately, her right index finger. She was removing a needle from the arm of a donor who was having a bad reaction (which happens more often than I'd realized); he was struggling or spasming, and her finger jammed against his arm.

Snap (maybe). She still hasn't seen a doctor, so it's just a guess. But I won't be surprised if it's broken. She wasn't able to get to a doctor today, instead opting to go to work. I suppose you can stick needles into veins without your index finger, but personally, I'd get an x-ray. And a splint. And some Darvocet, if I could talk them into it.

Meanwhile, Tom may have to help me move the armoire and drag the mattress up two steep flights of stairs, because I can't see Kristi doing it. Sorry, Tom.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Harry122 posted this link today at Worth. Kevin, this is mostly for you; if you watch nothing else, watch the finale.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In the news ...

Port security. Does anybody remember how Kerry brought up, in the first and third debates in 2004, the issue of port security? And does anybody remember how Bush responded? "My administration worked with the Congress to create the Department of Homeland Security so we could better coordinate our borders and ports." "We're doing everything we can to protect our borders and ports." Now, of course, Bush is saying that if Congress passes any bill to interfere with a company owned by the government of the UAE taking over operations at six of our major ports, he'll veto it. This from the president who has yet to veto anything Congress passes. Apparently having the UAE goverment (one of only three governments to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government) administering our ports is supremely important to this president.

I know I feel safer already.

The Night I Say "Knee"

Clearly I need an editor for my blog entry titles.

Yesterday I saw my physical therapist for the first time. She examined the knee and leg quite thoroughly and diagnosed a lateral meniscus tear. This is the same diagnosis my doctor made, which could be good or bad -- 'good' as in the diagnosis is confirmed, or 'bad' as in she simply read it off my chart.

Like my doctor, she recommended attempting physical therapy before considering surgery. This too, could be good or bad -- 'good' as in I'd really rather avoid surgery, 'bad' as in she's a friggin' physical therapist, so of course she's going to recommend physical therapy. If you ask an orthopedic surgeon, he or she will tell you that arthroscopic surgery's the only treatment for a meniscal tear. So I don't know. I'm going to do my exercises like a good boy and hope for a placebo effect if nothing else, but I worry I'm just delaying the inevitable -- and I really didn't want to miss another season of cycling.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Deja Vu

Almost a year ago, Kristi and I went on the fabled Quest for Shoes.

Yesterday: the sequel.

Kristi was way overdue for new workout shoes; since we've moved the elliptical trainer down to the (currently-being-repainted) computer room, she figures she'll be using it a lot more. She hadn't found anything in her local searches. So yesterday the three of us piled into the car and headed out on Quest for Shoes II.

First, however, we had to drop by Restoration Hardware. They're discontinuing the bath accessory line we chose for the upstairs bathroom, and we wanted to grab a towel ring, double towel bar, soap dish, etc. while they were on sale and still available.

Dang. Towel ring -- out of stock. Double towel bar -- out of stock. Hmm. Okay, single towel bar? Out of stock. (We already have one; we thought we'd just grab a second.)

So we have our names down for the floor samples when they tear the display down. I hope they don't forget about us.

Then a stop at Chipotle for much-needed food and caffeine.

Finally, on the road to the outlet center. But which outlet center? Kristi flatly refuses to decide, so since I'm driving, I make an executive decision: the outlets in Woodbury are much closer than the ones in Albertville, and that's where we're going.

Twelve miles later, surprise. The outlet center in Woodbury has disappeared, replaced by retail shops and a Wal-Mart. Damn you, Wal-Mart.

We turn around and drive back through the Cities and most of the way to St. Cloud. We get to the Albertville outlets, which thankfully still exist. We immediately spend an hour in the Children's Place outlet buying spring clothing for Emma -- necessary, sure, but not on the to-do list. Then Hanna Andersson's, where Kristi picks up a lovely dress. Wamsutta, where we look for sheets and towels for the upstairs.

Notice anything missing from the shopping experience thus far?

Finally we get to the heart of the matter: the Reebok outlet (where last year I got the lovely sweatshirt I'm wearing right now). Kristi goes in while Emma and I wait in the idling car; it's now about 7pm, and Emma and I are both cranky. Kristi comes out sans shoes; she's picked some out, but there's a "buy a second pair for half price" sale, and do I want some shoes too? So we all trundle in and I grab a pair of walking Reeboks. Yay! The shoe buying is over!

Ah, but there's a WestPoint Bed, Bath & Linens outlet, and Kristi hasn't yet found the towels and sheets she wants for upstairs. Emma and I take a vote, and send Kristi in alone again. Twenty minutes later she emerges with a tablecloth for the kitchen. Sigh.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Three Below

Winter finally got to Minnesota. Great morning to have to buy gas on the way to work. With the wind chill, it's 23 below.

When I walked into the building here, my legs felt so suddenly warm that I thought my bladder might have let go. Yeah, that cold.

Monday, February 13, 2006

So ...

... the general concensus among the liberal blogs is that there's much fishiness in the whole Cheney story. Why did the Secret Service bar local law enforcement from talking to the veep on Saturday? Why were the first public statements made by the woman who owns Armstrong Ranch, rather than by the veep or his spokesweasel? Why did the story stay hushed up until all of the alcohol was out of Cheney's bloodstream 20-something hours after the shooting?

Some nice analysis of the official story and its improbabilities over at Firedoglake. The upshot (pardon the expression): something's not right here.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

So, Dick Cheney has shot someone. So much about this deserves comment, it's hard to know where to start.

As I noted elsewhere today, the incident occurred on Saturday, but wasn't reported until Sunday afternoon. How do you keep the lid on something like this? I mean, the Veep is out hunting, and ambulances are called. Was there no press whatsoever following Cheney around waiting for his heart to explode? Seriously?

This is the first confirmed occasion when a sitting Vice President has shot someone since Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Sure, there were the rumors about LBJ actually having whipped out a Colt Peacemaker and taken the top off of Kennedy's head from his position two cars behind the President, but it's highly unlikely he could have shot Connelly in the leg from that angle, so let's discount that one. And while there's tantalizing evidence tying the Bush family to the Hinckleys, it's pretty clear that George Sr. didn't physically pull the trigger on Ronald Reagan. So let's assume that Cheney's the first veep in 200 years to actually point a gun at someone and pull the trigger.

I suppose we should be grateful that he shot a 78-year-old lawyer, instead of a 21-year-old kid from Little Falls. Oops -- he bagged one of those, too, along with a couple of thousand other U.S. troops in Iraq.

Well, then, can we at least hope he neglected to get a license. I wonder what the fine is for hunting quail without one? Probably about the same as the fine for shooting your hunting partner. Or maybe Cheney will get Alberto Gonzalez to argue that the Use of Force Resolution covers shooting quail (or hunting partners).

Speaking of hunting partners, Harry Whittington (the victim) is apparently a long-time Bush crony. Bush appointed him in 1999 as chairman of the Texas Funeral Service Commission, to either clean up or cover up the ongoing scandals there. But I doubt he knows where the Jack Abramoff photos are, so maybe it was an accident.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Snow Day

Winter's back. Snowing outside, crappy driving conditions. The house is sealed up tight. Perfect time for upstairs floor refinishing and the outgassing of huge amounts of probably-toxic volatile organics. The whole house smells like the inside of a can of paint thinner. Brain cells are dropping like snowflakes.

But it sure looks pretty out the window.

I'm working through a bit of a depression. Nothing major; just a low spot in the road. I made an appointment today to start physical therapy for my knee. This despite the fact that neither I nor my doctor really knows what's wrong with it, so how can a physical therapist determine what to do to help?

Kristi, I think, expected me to feel better about life once I took action on the knee. But I had already taken action by resting it for five months, with no measurable results. This is just a different action, and while it may eventually bring relief, in the short run it's likely to make me more depressed, not less. When I was a teenager I had significant knee pain, and four of the best orthopedists in Fresno told me I was nuts. I really didn't want to start another round of "the pain in your knee is actually in your head," which is why I opted to let it try to heal itself. But Tuesday I found myself sitting in my doctor's office, looking at the somewhat bemused expression on her face as she tells me she doesn't see any clear cause for my pain, and thinking that I'm just starting down that road all over again.

I don't want to be on that road. I hate that road.

Unfortunately, I also hate the pain. It's not crippling, mostly just an annoying ache, but it's also a warning that over-using the knee will only make it worse. (And yeah, it does.) It's another reminder, too, along with the impending 30th high school reunion, that I'm getting old -- which is certain to lift my spirits.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Today's spam from the Ziff Davis Web Buyer's Guide

Microsoft expects 200 million new PCs to ship with Vista preloaded in the first 24 months the operating system is available, which should be the latter half of this year.
The first 24 months Vista is available will be the latter half of this year?
Damn. That's how Bush is going to stay in office for the rest of his life. Years will now be defined as 48 months long.

Breaking News: Superbowl Not Attacked By Terrorists

It logically follows that warrantless domestic surveillance is a good thing. All hail our all-knowing overlords!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I Don't Have a Computer Science Degree ...

... or a software engineering degree, for that matter. That doesn't stop me from finding this brilliantly funny.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Talent Scouts

Over at A Nod To Nothing, Scooter has blogged about an online quiz purporting to map your feelings about government in your life. What he didn't point out is that the host site, politopia.com, is run by the Institute for Humane Studies. Said Institute, according to the Center for Media & Democracy, "acts as a libertarian talent scout" and is funded by such sources as the Sarah Scaife Foundation. And they really, really want your real name, email address, and student status when you take the quiz -- but trust them, it's only for fun! They're not really going to use it to recruit you, or share it with the other right-wing foundations housed in the same building. Trust them!