Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Eight Years ago Today

a poor, unsuspecting woman submitted herself to a life of shameful enslavement to a skinny, unpleasant, sorry excuse for a human being. This poor woman has had to spend 8 years dealing with an expanding gut, a receding hairline, and more snoring than any person should be forced to listen to. In return, she has provided joy, sweetness, light, and several unmentionable activities. She has done it without consideration for the complete lack of respect from her partner and his utter inability to hear anything below an opera-singer bellow.

Happy anniversary, sweets - I'm a lucky, lucky man.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thanks to IMAO

via Terry:

You Are a Smart American

You know a lot about US history, and you're opinions are probably well informed.
Congratulations on bucking stereotypes. Now go show some foreigners how smart Americans can be.

I'm a medievalist, folks, and I knew all of these.

And today?

I got my ears electronically scoped. I had a CT scan today to see what's doing inside my ears. I don't know that I'm definitely having surgery to address my hearing loss, but in order to make the decision the doc thought it would be a good idea to see what's what.

They told me on the phone the whole thing would take about 45 minutes, so I made the appointment for 7:30 AM. What I did not know is that the actual imaging would take about 5 minutes, and the wait time was 40 minutes. I was in fact out of the office by 8:15, but I didn't get in to be scanned until about 8:05.

It was, on the whole, an entirely painless experience. No blood, no needles, no clothes off - just lie on the table and wait for it to move in & out as they take pictures of my cranium. I'd be much less disturbed by medical procedures if they could all be that simple.

I don't need to wash my hands for a week

Why? The A/V guys needed a hand model yesterday to demonstrate how to wash your hands for some kind of screen saver project.

So I Purelled my hands about six times yesterday until they got the shot they wanted. But they're reallllllllly clean now.

Lots o' Stuff

Busy weekend in most areas. Oldest had a pajama party Saturday night, meaning she got home at 9:30PM, two hours later than usual.

Which would have been fine, except we had her own birthday party on Sunday. Yes, her actual birthday was in December, but we couldn't get the place until this week. Why? Because she wanted a Build-a-Bear party, and they're impossible to book between Christmas and New Year's.

So we shlepped her, youngest, grandma, grampa, cousin and 10 of her friends to shove packing materials into animal-shaped bits of cloth. It was entertaining enough, and odd that at least four of the kids picked the St. Patrick's day bear to stuff. I imagine there were a few raised eyebrows at home when the kids got back. They behaved well enough, but it was still a bit stressful.

Anyway, the family came back with us, grandma paid for lunch from the local pizza joint, and all was well until about 6PM when youngest started upchucking everywhere. I don't know if that's what caused it, but it put both me and Mrs. off our food, so only oldest had dinner on Sunday. It was a rough night for Mrs., but she was nice enough to let me sleep in the guest room so I got enough rest.

Of course, I spent two hours on Monday morning shoveling the inch and a half of snow we got. Sometimes a corner property has its downsides.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sigh. Can we go through this again slowly?

This comes from the AP:

Democrats move to limit Bush's authority


The Constitution of the United States unequivocally gives the responsibility of Commander in Chief to the President. The Congress does not under any circumstances have the right to limit the rights of the president in waging war. The only right they have is to provide or not provide funding for the wars the president wants to wage.

Why does nobody else get this?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What's so funny about Thursday Three?

What, I'm here to make you laugh? I'm here to amuse you? What is so ^%$%#@ funny about me?

1) Who is the funniest person you know personally in real life?

I would say my brother is probably the funniest person I know personally. He's extremely clever, and it mostly manifests itself with projects like his Mishloach Manot. As I said yesterday, I have a great idea for this year, but it can't hold a candle to his work.

2) Who is your favorite comedian (living, dead, or both)?

I never really thought about having a favorite comedian, but I guess if it's anyone, Bill Cosby takes the nod. If we extend it to musical comedy there are any number of choices - Spike Jones, Weird Al Yankovic, etc.

3) Which type of comedy do you find most humorous?

I think clever speech makes me laugh the most - probably why I like Gilbert & Sullivan so much, as word play is critical to making it work. A good pun always works for me. I can do without dirty/scatological humor, and I've never been a big fan of slapstick.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Not much cooking

over here these days. I haven't felt the urge, and I'm lacking inspiration anyway. There's plenty going on workwise, but in most respects it's just more of the same confusion and conflicting directives.

Life is fine personally, though the number in our bank account was an unpleasant surprise to me. Nassau County's stratospheric tax rates will do that to you, as we dropped more than our fair share of green for the County's special "watch us blow all your cash" program. I imagine the bleeding would feel lessened if we took out the money every month, but I don't see why someone else should be sitting on my money in escrow for months at a time.

So I guess I just have the winter blahs, and last night's Ranger game did not help matters. On a positive note, I have what I believe is an enormously clever idea for this year's Mishloach Manot. I am, in fact, tremendously pleased with myself for the idea, which I think will be worth many laughs. The full tale will have to wait a week and a half, as I don't want to ruin the surprise if anyone I know manages to find this blog between now and March 4th.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

It's Oscar time!

and the Associated Press finds another way to make sure we understand what's important in the world today.

This year's Oscars are the most diverse ever

Look, diversity's fine in so far as it goes - I'm not disturbed in the slightest if all the nominees for the Oscars are black or hispanic or asian or whatever. To begin with, the Oscars are a celebration of narcissism and kindergarten politics. Second, I'm in favor of the awards going to people who performed best in the movies that year, and the color of their skin or their background is completely irrelevant.

The undertone of the whole piece, however, strikes me as the kind of pie-in-the-sky, look we're all one world crap that the diversity mafia have been cramming down our throats for the last thirty years. The fact is, the Oscars were created by the American film industry to acknowledge the best in American film. It happens to include all these other people now, and that's fine, but I feel like the AP thinks this is how things ought to have been all along.

Maybe it's paranoid, but I feel like next year there'll be a story complaining if the nominees aren't as diverse as this year. The industry remains overwhelmingly American, near as I can tell. There are plenty of foreign actors to be sure, but if there's a new crop of movies starring American, white actors, will there be a complaint that it's not reflective enough of world society?

I guess what's bugging me about the headline and the article is the pursuit of diversity for diversity's sake. By itself, diversity is merely a vehicle for hucksterism and not-at-all veiled racism. What I want out of people is competence, regardless of skin color or ethnicity. In a truly diverse and open society (as America is now, whatever some may say) the diversity of the candidates would not need to be mentioned. It only has to get brought up by people hyperconscious of the ethnicity of the people they're covering.

Ah, maybe I'm just being overanalytical.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This post

marks my 500th as a blogger. I've been aware of it's impendance for a while, and I resolved not to try and pad my postings just to get to it. Clearly it has arrived anyway.

As a historian I note anniversaries in a way I guess other people don't. There's nothing especially notable about 500 moreso than any other, and when you're talking about blogging, the relative value is lowered as compared to say, the 500th toothpick used at the annual Mango Lover's International conference.

Either way, when I started this nonsense I had no large plans beyond distracting myself from stuff I'm supposed to do. Blogging in most cases (this one included) is largely an exercise in online onanism, which is appropriate given the most common use of the internet. I clearly had 500 posts worth of stuff to say, and I leave it up to the rest of you as to whether any of it was worth reading.

Blogging has made me some virtual friends, and given me an opportunity to talk to folks and read things I would not have otherwise. Sure, I could do that without writing my own crap, but this way no one can say I'm only taking useless garbage off the internet and not putting any back.

Pass it forward, right?

20 MPH

is what I would recommend for anyone out on the roads today around here. It's mostly freezing rain, and my office is at the bottom of a fairly significant hill, so I hope the tires are OK. The place is more than half empty, and I haven't done a single useful thing all day. There's a conference call at 3PM, so I won't have to break my streak of uselessness.

Incidentally, the bandwidth stormtroopers were blocking access for much of the AM to my very own blogsite, for reasons I can't figure out. They were claiming it was inappropriate content, which I think is ridiculous. Useless and boring I grant you, but inappropriate?

Ridiculous. How's a guy supposed to waste time around here?

Monday, February 12, 2007


AKA, Moron-in-Training.

After the school thing, my folks came over and spent time with us. I also had my dad listen to the attempt to start Mrs.' minivan.

Why, might you ask?

Well, someone I am related to either by birth or blood seems to have left one of the lights on in the van all Shabbos. Naturally I couldn't turn it off, so it stayed on. Right after shabbos I went and turned the light off and the car on, and it started right up. I should've left it running, but I didn't, turning it off after a minute or so. Yesterday morning, rushing to get to school... tick tick tick tick.

We take my car instead, and when I get home I ask dad to take a listen to make sure it's not something more serious. It is, as you car people know, just the battery. The car had been to Honda a few weeks back, and the guy told us there was a battery problem. He jumped it enough so we could pass inspection, but I told Mrs. not to have him change the battery - there's no point in letting them charge me $95 labor when I can do it myself. Incidentally, the terminals were crusted with crud - I don't understand why the Honda guy couldn't take two minutes with a wire brush to clean it off, but I guess that would've been another $95.

So off to AutoZone, where as it turns out I had bought the thing originally. He tests it, and I don't know how many amps it is supposed to turn out, but near as I can tell it was actually producing less than one. He checks the record, and the battery is about 2 1/2 years old. Not new enough for complete replacement, but enough that they gave me $30 off the cost of a new one. Went home, got the battery in, and then skinned several knuckles trying to get the stupid hold-down bar thingy into position. I've done this replacement several times in the past, and this part is always the one I hate. It always comes off easy enough, but never back on.

Thank the Lord for barbecue tongs - I had to use them several times to retrieve various bits & pieces that fell into the engine compartment. I'm clearly not cut out for self repair of major items. I had enough trouble with the minor ones. The other dopey part is Honda's security code for the radios. Like a lot of others I imagine, they protect the radios by requiring a security code before it can be used. Naturally, every time the battery is disconnected, you have to reset the radio. No problem, as I wrote the code down on the computer somewhere.

Didn't I? Wait, I know it was in this file? Or this one? Where is the &*^%$ thing?

Happily, it was still buried in the back of my head, and on the third try I got it right. I am going to write it down again, but we'll have to see if I can keep track of it this time.


Yesterday began with oldest child's Siddur party/play at school. Each first-grader is given their very own prayer book to keep, which they will use to learn the prayers as well as Hebrew. It involved a lot of singing, and each child had a short paragraph to say in Hebrew. Not only did I borrow a video camera for the event, but we even managed to get front row seats near where she was, so I had a good view. I have many doubts about my skillz as a videographer, but nobody expects academy award winning cinematography at a first grade performance.

She was wonderful, as were most of the other kids. The most rewarding part for me was watching her after she received her siddur. Like most of the other kids, she was sitting on the floor, poring over the text and reading to herself. It was all unrehearsed - apparently this was built up so well by the teachers the kids couldn't wait to look it over for themselves. Her teacher actually saw us at another school event last week and said she had mentioned something in class in passing and they all picked up on it - I saw it in action as oldest went right to that page to look it over.

My parents even made it, which is tremendously impressive given that it started at 9AM, which is the middle of the night for my dad. I'm glad they did. The whole thing was done so nicely, and it reassures me that we're spending all these gazillions of dollars on yeshiva for a good reason. Mrs. said to me in the car on the way home that she's even more pleased that we decided to send the kids to yeshiva. Yes, we could save money by sending them to public school, but this experience of learning the language and faith of our people is so much richer in this environment. We really like the school a lot, and she is clearly learning to be the Jew we want her to be.

Nice job, kiddo, and may this be the start of a deep and abiding love for Torah, Tefila, and the faith of our ancestors.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Training called

over the last two working days, which I hope excuses my absence. (nothing can excuse my presence, so I'm not going to even attempt it.) I zoned out of much of the class - he got into stuff that I certainly will never need to adjust. Unless I suddenly have to rearrange the servers and access permissions, in which case we're in a whole heap of trouble.

Happily, after six months talking about the Magic Software that would be worth all the cows we could trade for it, I finally got to try & make it grow into a beanstalk. The results are somewhat encouraging - I have been able to get the thing to do some of what I want. Navigation out of the box (and by the way I have grown to loathe the phrase "out of the box") kind of sucks, but that's why we have to learn to do our own stuff.

The best part? I now have a Virtual PC setup with a virtual server, and I can finally get in to muck about with the software anytime I want. It has no practical effect on what we'll eventually be doing, but now instead of asking "hey, can we do that?" I can actually see for myself if we can do it.

There's work ahead to be sure (and several more training classes to go), but I'm no longer flying utterly blind.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lest I be accused of lollygagging

I am actually around. I'm simply trying to figure out why no fewer than six people need to spend 5-6 weeks working on rebuilding functionality that exists natively in a particular piece of software. Especially when the whole purpose, saving some people a single click on a mouse, will easily be defeated as the scale of this effort grows.

I'm trying to be circumspect about this, but the bottom line is this is a huge waste of time, and I'm extremely PO'd about the whole thing.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thursday Three Admixture

1) What is the last product you recommended to a friend?

Probably the database program I use for archives work, which I have recommended repeatedly for its ease of use. I also recommended switching hosts to the Board of a local Archives group (I serve as webmaster) and they finally agreed to do it this week. Besides saving us more than $300 a year, there's a lot more I can do with the new host.

2) What is your favorite section of the grocery store?

I think I agree with Steevil that it's all of them, with the exception of the paper goods/cleaning products/pet supply areas. Ice cream and cookie sections are always fun.

3) Joe Biden--lunatic, or idiot?

What about bigot? Oh, right, white liberals can't be bigots or racists.