Tuesday, February 28, 2006

7 years

of happy, glorious marriage. Every day a winner. Not a single bump on the road.

Seriously, I'm just glad there was a woman on earth willing to sacrifice herself for the benefit of the rest of womanhood. It's been a long, hard slog for her, but other single women elsewhere are grateful for her martyrdom.

Like most men, I married far above my station, and for that I am a lucky dog.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bonfire of the Vanities

I should update you folks on my Terry-like adventures in home repair. Me & the Mrs. set out to rearrange our half bath downstairs a while back. Mrs. got some paint sample cards, taped them to the wall to see how they looked, and we kinda forgot about it. So last week she gets the bug again, and we decide to get underway.

Now, normal people, seeing a long weekend ahead, would have thought to go out Sunday AM, get the stuff we need, and spend the two days of President's weekend working on it (bear in mind, of course, that we lose Saturday as a day of work, it being the Day of Rest and all that.) Do we head out to Big Orange on Sunday AM? Sunday eve? Monday AM? Not us, no. We have to wait until Monday Afternoon, when the whole weekend is gone.

Be that as it may, we went & got paint and brushes and stuff and came home. Got the kids to bed, and started on the room. I took the tank off the toilet, and got working on the sink. Regular contractors would've bolted the pedestal sink into the wall, but not ours, oh no. He just slapped that mother full of Liquid Nails and squished it against the wall. Needless to say, no dopey putty knife was getting that thing off the wall, so we just yanked out an inch deep crater into the sheetrock.

Oh well, I've been meaning to learn to use the joint compound anyway. Drag out the little bucket that's been in the garage for four years, and whaddaya know? It's a cake of brick hard grey sludge. Next trip to big orange, but at least this time Mrs. made her choice on the vanity, so I picked that up too. (MUCH more on this later.) Back with the fresh stuff, a little joint tape & some fresh goo later, and it looks not bad for an amateur.

Next day Mrs. gets to work painting. The spackled bit wasn't really dry yet, but she did a lovely job painting the rest of the walls. She also took her own trip to the store to get new TP & towel holders. I get home, sand down the patch (I did a pretty decent job on the whole, though my tagline was "the vanity will cover that bit.) I also yanked out a piece of molding from the back so the vanity would fit flush to the wall. I gouged quite a bit, but see above tagline. Paint over that stuff, and call it a day.

By the end of Wednesday eve, we had painted on the second coat, and Mrs. had gone & gotten a sink she liked. We're all set to load in the lovely vanity, and guess what? The fershullgener thing has a drawer support right where the shut off valve is. There's no real way we can get around the problem (remember this was supposed to save us money on a contractor), so guess where I'm going? You betcha. Vanity back in the car, me back to big orange, and let's refund this bad boy. No, of COURSE they don't make the no-drawer vanity in maple, why should they?

So Mrs. goes to the competing humongo warehouse place on Friday, picks up the other vanity she had seen & liked, and shleps it home. Also a trip to Targêt to get bathroom rugs to go with the new plan - five, I think, with plans to return four. (That becomes ironic, as opposed to ha ha, funny later). She calls me from home to say "well, there's a spot near where the handle goes that someone obviously colored over with marker, and the doors don't align, but if you can fix that I guess we can keep it." I get home, friddle with the doors, then see the huge crack she hadn't noticed on one side, and NOW where do you think we're going?

We had guests coming for shabbos, which is why Mrs. hoped to have this finished before, but no dice. Pack all the crap into the non-functioning restroom (though I got the throne back in order earlier, we decided to shut the whole thing down.) So yesterday we head to a different big orange to check out MORE vanities. They had something we kind of like on display, but it's the last one and it's cracked. They do, however, have it in cherry (we've already been through maple & cinnamon, which would be delicious in french toast, but not so much fun here.)

Naturally the cherry are all on the tippy top shelf, and they need a forklift. We've at least found the one guy in the whole place who knew anything, evidenced by everyone else in the place interrupting him to ask for stuff. So they shut down not just the aisle we're in, but the next one over, too. All this just so we can look at the stupid thing. Both me & Mrs. are wondering how mad he'll be if it turns out we don't want it. He gets it down, opens the box, she likes, we see a scratch, he opens a 2nd, we don't notice the inside scratch until later, so we take it. Off to other warehouse to return the piece of junk, and home.

We don't love the sink, which is white instead of offwhite, none of the rugs really match, and we haven't put the stupid thing in yet, but for the moment we seem to have settled on the final answer. It's always an adventure. (BTW, I left out like seven other trips to the store for the bits & pieces we forgot. Oy.)

This article

should be of interest to those of you down 'Bama way. These are the sorts of discoveries archivists love to make. Somebody says something about a storage closet, and all of a sudden you're hip deep in a treasure trove of archival material.

It actually happens to me occasionally. I had a conversation with someone at one of our hospitals, and she said in passing "Oh, I just send stuff to the basement." Basement is a magic word to an archivist, and down I went. I discovered piles of medical board stuff, departmental reports - all the kinds of things I depend on.

Anyway, there's also (as I imagine some of you may know already) a full section on it at the paper's website.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Small things in life that give me joy.

I should point out that the description of the channel as involving "citizen journalists sending in their own videos" sounds suspiciously like public access cable tv. Where, as a rule, weirdos buy time to fulminate on interstellar communications and how Jesus told them the end of days would come when the Mets win the world series.

As I said, heh.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I'm late, I'm late!

For a fairly meaningless trivia game!

1) Are you the sort of person that's always late, always early, always right on time?

I USED to be on time for everything, maybe even a little early. Then I got married. Then I had kids. Mrs. claims it's not her fault, but I think she just gave me a good reason to stay home. Now I feel like I'm late more often than not.

2) Is that true all the time, or are there things that will make you change your normal patterns (e.g. you're always early, but get to the dentist late)?

Well, when the kids want to go somewhere badly, we can change that, but otherwise it's become universal that we're running behind.

3) How good are your time management skills? Do you know exactly how much time you have, or do you look up at the clock & realize three hours have somehow disappeared?

Most of the time they're very good. Certain books and video games can so distract me that I look up and notice it's gotten REALLY late and I should've been in bed hours ago.

So how was your morning?

Mine was particularly craptastic today. All would have been fine except for one tiny, itty bitty little mechanical detail.

Everybody woke up kind of late, but we got it together fairly quickly & out the door. So, I drop oldest off at school right on time. The schools here are off this week, so the highways actually function as they are supposed to for a change. And I get out of the school building as I always do, get back in the car as always, insert the key and turn it as always, and the car starts...

Exactly as it almost never does. Tick-tick-tick. No friendly red dash lights popping up. No start. No engine running. Bupkis. Uh oh.

So I grab the security guy & ask for a boost, which he gives me. I then decide to head home to try & solve this instead of sitting at work and trying to figure out how to get a boost. Home, change clothes, haul out the offending item, and out to the auto parts joint (in the Mrs.' car) where I got the battery. Well, to their old location nearby to get the address of their new location. Stop for some breakfast at a local bagel place, then ten minutes down the road to the new place.

"Well, you bought this thing in 2003, and there's nothing we can do except take a few bucks off the price of the new one." Now, I remember the last replacement as the summertime, so it's really only 2 1/2 years, but I decided not to argue. Or to buy the battery from him. Down to Sears, buy the new one, home, get it in the car. Dunno if she sold me the wrong battery, as this one seems to have the terminals in the back of the battery, and the old one was in the front I guess. I had to reseat the negative cable to get it to reach, but it seems OK.

By this point I was so late I went & did some food shopping for shabbos, & finally got here. Needless to say I haven't been terribly productive so far. And this explains why T3 is late, both sad (I thought up the questions) and ironic (it's all about being on time.) Next post.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

In less funny news

I ran across this article.

Maybe I live in a hole, but I've never heard of Fred Phelps. And no, I will not demean the title and dignify him by calling him Reverend. I can't believe this guy is serious. Protesting at a funeral and saying IEDs are a good thing? Clearly the guy is a nut, and bless those patriots for riding through rain & snow to show honor to the dead.

This is proof that nuttiness is not confined to the militant secular left-wing nutballs. So-called "Christians", and I'm guessing somewhat right-wing types, are fully capable of a level of public insanity and indecency as well.

I believe homosexuality is proscribed by the bible that I hold central to every part of my life. If that makes me a closeminded homophobic bigot, such is life.


I do not believe in denouncing gays publicly. I would not say that God will visit punishment on them - if He's planning on it, that's between Him and the people in question, and for good reason He doesn't share those plans with me. I most certainly would never consider attacking or otherwise causing pain or damage to homosexuals. I live in America where what people do on their own time is none of my business, and I have no right to coerce them to do as I see fit. I might protest when what is not my business is shoved in my face - I don't have to publicly condemn it, but I don't have to stand up and cheer every time another gay character is given a primetime TV slot either.

But this? It's more proof that nutcases are incapable of developing a rational chain of thought. Because there are gays in America it's a good thing soldiers are killed? Young men and women, many of them good & decent Christians, with no responsibility for policy, are somehow deserving of scorn for dying in the line of duty? It's beyond reprehensible, it's sick. People like this would be well suited to living in Muslim lands, where this kind of irrationality (see the cartoon stupidity) is considered normal thought.

Free speech is a fine thing. I do not want these people arrested, killed, or forced to stop saying what they want. But they should be ashamed of themselves, and should get on their knees and beg forgiveness of every family they've spit on, every soldier they see, and they should certainly beg God for forgiveness.

Fun With Headlines

Couldn't resist this one:

Oliver Stone says September 11 movie not political

Stone also Says CIA, Mob Not Behind Kennedy Assasination

Director will Not Comment on Reality of Six Foot Tall, Frog-Shaped Aliens Providing Funding for Next Project, "How Halliburton and the Bush Administration Caused the Attack of the Zorps on Xj'kqlfre VII for Oil and to Bring Fascism to the Galaxy." [ed. This is only a working title.]

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Every time

I think there can't be any more signs of the apocalypse, along comes this bit of film.

Perhaps this is exactly what they meant when they thought of viral videos. I was like the tenth person to get this forwarded by email.

Cross-cultural exchange has reached new levels.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Podium Three

1. Do you even watch the Winter Olympics?

The what? Are they still doing those?

2. What is your most memorable Winter Olympic moment?

I'd like to say the 1980 Hockey win, but the truth is I don't remember it at all. I think I can remember the time Herman Meier blew a tire at the wire. 'Twas quite dire. He'd been on fire. To win he did aspire. He almost ended up playing the lyre. [ed. I've run out - anyone else care to carry this stupidity on?] OOOH! Thought of another one: and singing in the heavenly choir.

3. Which Winter Olympic sport would you most like to try?

Eh, what kind of question is that, eh? Hoser.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I guess

in the grand scheme of the universe, it doesn't matter much, but my putt putt little Civic turned 90,000 miles on the clock yesterday. Oh sure, not as much as some people, but still not bad. We've had the car for a bit over 6 years now, and put on about 50,000 miles - maybe closer to 60 by the time the car is in our hands 7 years. I imagine there would be more mileage on it had we not gotten the van 3 years ago, but Mrs. Skinny would surely have beaten me within an inch of my life had I made her go without a car for the last three years.

Don't get me wrong - I like the Civic well enough. We paid cash for it, so it's all mine. I've had some big ticket things fixed - brakes, shocks & struts, timing belt, but no major problems with the car. I do maybe 30 miles a day round trip, and once oldest is allowed on the school bus that will drop to 20. It's probably an ideal car for work commuting - decent gas mileage (I probably average 22-23 MPG) and enough room for me & a small child.

But the truth is I think I'm tired of the car. The silly thing has no pickup at all, the volume control on the radio is screwy, the dings & dents are becoming obvious, and... and...

I've never had a new car. We've always bought used, including the Odyssey. That only had 13,000 miles on it, and was only a year removed from new, so it's the closest we've ever come. I think I'd really like a new car. Oh, don't get me wrong - if I ever do get rid of the Civic, I'm probably going to get another, albeit newer, used car. But I think I'd like a new car. One that nobody but me and some Honda employees had ever driven. I'd like a six cylinder engine that jumps when you touch the accelerator.

Let's face it - I'd like intermittent wipers that have more options than my current choice of on or off.

I'll keep this one for a while. I'm not really getting another car anytime soon. We have too many other small items (yeshiva tuition being the primary, mortgage secondary) claiming the few pennies coming into my bank account. I don't really need to replace this car.

But I really, really have the itch to get something different.

Monday, February 13, 2006

In other news

oldest has her first loose tooth. I guess we're all growing up.

Let me say this

about that. I like snow as much as the next guy. It's pretty to look at. Fun to play in. I even went so far as to travel 400 miles each way to spend time in the stuff.



As I said up in Vermont, the snow is MUCH nicer when somebody else has to shovel it. As you might have seen, there was a tiny little storm that went past my little slice of suburban heaven yesterday. I went out Saturday night, and the white stuff was coming down, but not sticking. I had to drop something off that was due yesterday, and Mrs. really wanted some of the Dublin Mudslide ice cream we had in Vt. I figured a spare container of milk was also a good idea, so better to go out while it's not sticking.

I looked out again around 11:30, and boy oh boy was it sticking. Our planned trip to New Jersey to see friends was likely not happening, and it did in fact get cancelled (we've been trying to see them for a year and a half, and every time something comes up. I think the snow might have been because we tried to see them again.) When I got up Sunday AM, there was clearly at least a foot outside already, with no signs of slowing. I figured there was no point going out in it until it slowed down, so to keep the kiddies occupied we made sugar cookies with cookie cutters. Younger child lost interest pretty quickly, but older was with me till the end, about 2 1/2 hours later.

By that point we probably had close to 18 inches, but I figured better to do it in stages than try & get 25 inches off at once. The kids got bundled & went out to play, and I, thankfully, went across to our neighbors where our shared snowblower is lodged. And thank heavens for that gas powered, 5 HP bad boy. I got through our corner property in about 25 minutes, and it would have taken an hour and a half by hand. Truth is, by the time I was done there was another inch on the ground again already. Add the windblown stuff, and I still had to go over it again later. We played in the snow a bit, cleared off the cars, and went back into the house to cook sausage and peppers for the dinner we had planned with nearby friends.

Dinner was lovely, and then back home inside & out of the cold & snow. I think I'm ready for spring.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I've got

company. Oldest child is sitting in my office, happily drawing as I pretend to work. Since she can't read yet (we're working on it) it's not like my secret is at risk anyway, but I still feel a little furtive.

I recommend keeping a box of crayons at the office if there's a chance a child will be by. That and a google search on "[fill in the overmarketed saccharine cartoon character of your choice] coloring pages" and you'll get more peace and quiet with them than at home.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Late T3

Considering I gave Terry grief 20 full minutes after he posted the Qs, you'd think I'd have gotten on it. Truth is, I know very little about the subject. Hence I'm posting on it anyway, to bring my lack of knowledge right to the fore.

1. In your own hometown, what is the best public building?

The one where they give out all the free money and ponies. And Ice Cream. If you mean the most attractive, I will expand my area to include New York City. Lacking any other inspiration, I thought of the Federal Courthouse in Foley Square in lower Manhattan. It's not a great picture, but I think of it as what they were thinking when they said "let's build a courthouse. I've also always thought Grand Central had a lot going for it.

2. Again, thinking of where you live, what is the worst public building?

No strong opinions, or pictures here. Nassau County doesn't have a ton of really attractive municipal buildings, not that I've noticed much.

3. And finally, either in your own hometown or just in general, what do you consider the best modern public building? (For the sake of argument, let’s let “modern” mean anything done since 1962, and not necessarily tied to the Modern style. Purely arbitrary, I know.)

I'm skipping this one. I have no idea. Castles and Cathedrals are more my style. Come to think of it, here's . St. John the Divine. The scaffolding has been up for years, as their genuine, actual stonemasons work on the outside. They'll be at it for a while.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A pox on ye

evil, miscreant guardians of the pipeline electronic. Jealously dost thou protect thine network, stopping all content whether low or high bandwith, thinking not of the valued pearls hidden therein.

Avaunt thee, small minded moles without the vision to comprehend the greatness that calls. Thy concerns of overloading the bandwith are of no moment, and will be but the whining of petty, spineless, fundament-covering time servers.

Cease thy yammering, and join me and my comrades as we sally forth to bring the wonders of the ages to all and sundry, or lie cowering in fear, and live to rue the day ye did not seek multimedia glory.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Look, I don't want to get picky or anything

but this article & accompanying headline raise an interesting question:

Why is everybody OK with (pardon my even mentioning it) "Pi$$ Christ" and yet Mohammed with a Bomb is cause for handwringing and discussions of "international storms?"

Look, there are plenty of Christians in the world offended by rude depictions of Jesus. Fortunately for both them & the rest of us, they usually don't run around shooting at their own neighbors and yelling "Death to [Insert Western Tyranny Here]." Perhaps they did 400 years ago, but unlike the Islamic world, we have gotten past that particular stupidity.

The Turkish Prime Minister apparently feels this is not an opportunity to have some substantive discussion on the subject; rather it's a sign that there is such a thing as too much freedom of the press. The Missing Link crowd in Gaza thinks this requires shutting down the EU offices there (there's a silver lining in every cloud, apparently.) What's clear from all of this is that the stinking cesspool that is modern, mainstream Islamic thought couldn't put a rational argument together if their lives depended on it - which they do.

Is that crude or harsh? I suppose, but I don't much care. I'm tired of all the kowtowing to the threats of the Islamic Street. The whole conversation merely deflects attention from the utter lack of freedom, safety, and success available in Muslim lands. The Turkish PM is merely playing to the hardliners there. The gaza thugs are finding something else to blame instead of their own corruption and ineptitude. And in the meantime? No commerce; no advancement; no governance. Just tyranny, brutality, suffering.

You want the crime against Islam? Look no further than Islamic leaders and followers who'd rather protest stupid cartoons than bring their people Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Vacation snippets

Some other random things:

- Went to Ben & Jerry's on Tuesday with the kids. Frankly, the tour itself wasn't much, but they do give you a free sample at the end. This trip it was Dublin Mudslide, which didn't sound like something I'd like, but it was terrific. After several taste spoons by Mrs., she settled on Turtle Soup (which I had been looking at before) and I got Apple-y Ever After, which was very good.

- The improv group performing one night was decidedly average. They were not helped by the drunken Trailer Park denizen sitting in front of me who kept interrupting them loudly.

- The small problem of the mountain pass being closed meant getting to the resort involved a 50 minute roundabout route. That's why we only left the resort once during the week.

- Hot chocolate (kosher!) at the bottom of the main ski hill everyday at 3:30 was a wonderful concept.

- The sales pitch for the timeshare was very tempting, and we may yet take the plunge if we can ever hit even a small lottery jackpot. Mrs. was very tempted, but I need more time to think it over.

Anyway, it was nice to have a real vacation, and one where everyone was sure they had a good time. I've been on too many where you just can't wait to get home, and this wasn't like that.

Vacation Update, Part Duh

The rest of the week was pretty action packed. We agreed to go to this place largely because they had an all-day ski camp for the kids and lessons for us. It took a while to find the drop-off for the kids, which was kind of annoying, but we got them there eventually and headed off for our own lessons. We were pretty much late every morning we went, which didn't help, but we eventually got hooked up where we were supposed to be. I was woefully unprepared for skiing, but the nice thing is I really picked up a lot even on the first two days. Mrs. looked terrific pretty much right away, though her boots were killing her and it really cut into her ski time.

By the end of day one, I had managed to head on down the mountain which was right outside our condo. That feature became neat as I learned to ski better - it's called ski in, ski out, so you don't have to shlep the car down the muddy goat path they call the road. I fell several times on the same spot, and I frankly had little control when heading down on either day one or two. Our instructor on day two actually took us up to the top of one of the mountains to ski an easy trail with him, and I did better than I thought. No more bunny hill for me.

We were actually going to skip day three lessons, but we went anyway. Oddly, Mrs. seemed bored at the beginning, and I felt bored at the end. As it turned out, despite the slow pace, I think I learned more that day than any of the others. We ended up at the top of one of the steeper trails by the middle of Wednesday, and even if they were just the easy trails, I found them fun & challenging.

The kids had a good time at ski camp - cried a bit when we dropped them off, but they got over it. I think it helped younger that older was in the same camp - it gave her someone to hang onto. We kept running into them on the various slopes during our respective lessons, which I think was harder on them than if they hadn't seen us. I got a little nervous seeing them on a "big" hill, but they came back in one piece, so... Thursday was "graduation" and the big cookie race, which involved EVERY... LAST... CHILD in the various levels of camp to ski down the bunny hill & get a cookie. I might not have cared if our kids hadn't been last, but we ended up waiting close to two hours outside. It's the only time all week I was cold - the rest of it I was busy skiing & didn't notice the chill. And the kids clearly learned something, as they made it down the hill nicely.

Packed up Thursday, hit the road early Friday AM to make it to our shabbos lodgings - we spent the weekend with friends in the Bronx, figuring there was no way to make it home before sundown and we had no food at home anyway, went to a party there on Sunday, and made it home Sunday PM. Everybody else fell asleep in the car on the way home, so I carried all the luggage in & unpacked a bit while they were sleeping in the van. 911 miles end to end, and all in the space of 7 days. A good vacation, but WHEW!

Vacation Story, Part I

So, at least one of you noticed I was missing last week. I told Terry, but I guess I could've asked him to tell everyone else, and I didn't. My bad.

Anyway, Mrs. & I took the small ones for vacation to Vermont for some skiing. It should be noted that Mrs. has gone skiing twice previously (many moons ago), and I went once on a nothing hill in the Catskills, so this could really count as the first time for all concerned.

Regardless, our close friends and now neighbors (happily they moved across the street instead of a mile away, making shabbos lunch plans MUCH easier) are avid skiers, and they decided to take the winter break to go skiing up at Smuggler's Notch and suggested we go too. Mrs. found out we could get a discount on the price if we agreed to go on the 90 minute timeshare shpiel, so we decided to go.

The vacation started out with a tremendous amount of shopping by Mrs. to get us the right gear - ski pants, jacket for her, gloves, mittens, whatever. She went back about 4 times to the sporting goods place to return the multiple versions of things she bought. She also picked up a DVD player for the car with two screens, which bothered me right up until we actually hit the road - it made the trip a lot easier.

So we packed six large bags for the four of us (there's not much food, much less kosher food, up there, and we brought some kosher pots to cook in), and left only about 2 hours after we said we wanted too, and an hour after I actually thought we would leave. We hit New Haven in about 1.5 hours which is great time, and stopped at a kosher veggie/dairy restaurant for lunch. The food was not as good as I remember, but the cake is still unbelievable, and you can get extra buttercream frosting on the side. It's even better than it sounds.

We eventually made it up to Vt. about 8 hours after we left home - prob about 6.5 hours of actual drive time, plus a few stops. The DVD player was worth it's weight in gold - a VERY peaceful trip up thanks to it. We got up there around 6PM, which is when they said the room would be ready, so the timing worked out nicely. Up to the condo, which was fabulous. Twisty road to get there, but it was a 2BR apt with kitchen & fireplace. Master bath had a jacuzzi tub & lots more sink room than we have at home. We were jealous, actually.

Unloaded, had a little dinner, then headed down to the rental place to get skis & boots & stuff. Back, kids in bed (VERY late) and eventually us to sleep too.