December 28, 2012
Mass Transit Echoes
Yesterday, Renee and I took the bus (and the Max light rail) to Lloyd Center Mall, and back home. Why? Because she'll be turning 18 this coming summer, and doesn't yet have a driver's license. This was a dry run for what her life will be like when the mom-pop express closes its doors.
Many years ago, when we first came here and my workplace was in Beaverton, I used to commute by bus, and I told Renee that my solution to the monotony of riding the bus was to bring a really difficult book along (I distinctly remember struggling through this book, and this one -- I still have both of them!). Sinking into the books made it possible to wait at a bus stop in whatever weather and not fret as to whether the bus would show up on time or not.
And now, a slight diversion... A few years ago, I took Renee to Kumoricon, and we attended a concert by some knockoff Asian pop band. The music was loud, so much so that I really couldn't tell what they were playing. But I was amused when I discovered that the old tradition of holding a lighter aloft had been updated: now everyone was holding up cellphones with their backlights turned on. TrÃ¨s amusant.
Back to the present! So we are sitting at the bus stop at Martinazzi and Mohawk, and I'm reading the poster in the back of the shelter. It tells me what phone number to call, and what code to enter, to determine when my bus will next arrive at my stop. What a difference a decade makes! That really improves the mass transit experience for me. Kudos, Trimet!
Oh, and the trip was uneventful. Renee didn't really want to be there, but we both got there and back safely.
September 18, 2011
New Everything (Renee)
I recently uploaded a bunch of photos Jean snapped of Renee to record her new (glasses|hairstyle|dress). I appended them to the existing Renee's New Glasses photoset, in case you're curious.
August 14, 2011
My workplace campus maintains a pretty nice water feature, and it is home to a variety of wildlife. We get lots of ducks and geese, and have a number of nutria waddling about. But over the last few years, we've become a summer home for a handsome Heron. I recently took to parking my car at the far end of the campus from my building, to force myself to walk a bit more at the end of the day. This has had the side benefit that I often see Mr. Heron.
I've begun snapping him when I can, first with the joke camera in my iPod Touch, then with my P&S, which I've started taking to work for just this purpose. He wasn't there this weekend, but I plan to try to grab him with my D70 and my 70-200mm lens some weekend, and I'll add any results to this photo set.
June 27, 2011
Before I left for work this morning, I queued up an upload of the first batch of photos from our trip to Paris, which happened last week. The first batch I managed to work through since our return home amounts to around eighty pics. When I'm finished, however long that takes, it should be around 300 photos, some interesting to the general public, some only to me. You can watch the evolving photoset here.
And for the record, I am a bad person. I did not get anybody souvenirs. This is partly because we packed a single carry-on each (even going so far as to hand wash a pair of pants in the hotel tub during the trip). The only 'souvenir' I got myself was a museum shirt so that I had something to wear one day, and I wore it home on the plane.
Sorry friends, I am a bad friend. If I ever go on another trans-continental trip, I'll try to mail things back home...
On a lighter note, I discovered that my stabbing sinus flight malady can be greatly reduced by applying saline nasal sprays every half hour during the trip, and taking a vicodin about an hour before the final descent. This is a single data point, so it may have been just luck, but the landing in Paris was nasty, and the landing in Sea-Tac was merely unpleasant, so I'll be trying that drill again if ever forced aboard another jet.
June 25, 2011
Funny world. I put up a photoset of Renee's summer haircut (taken at her request), and within hours someone had added several of the photos to their favorites. Said person seems to specialize in hairstyle photos/images...
May 07, 2011
Twenty-two Years Ago
This time the banner samples a mere twenty-two years ago (February of 1989). I was working at what was then called the NASA Lewis Research Center (it was rechristened the Glenn Research Center in 1999). I really can't recall anymore where this picture was taken. Truth to tell, I look a little stoned, holding my precious lab notebook. Perhaps I'd been working to hard (I was known to take classes and work fulltime in those days).
Odds are this was somewhere in the microgravity research labs, where I worked for Arnon Chait. The dude next to me is Mike Fuller. I have no idea what he went on to do.
Sorry, no long hair this time. I was trying to pass as a normal. Still am...
March 21, 2011
...of 2011, that is.
I don't think I'll be posting much this year, just too busy. But I got tired of staring at the banner picture. I mean, the woman is cute, but the guy? Creepin' me out! So I dug this picture out of Easter 2006 (see if your kids are that 'happy' on Easter).
Anyway, I also missed posting about the tenth anniversary of this weblog, which was in October. Given my general absence, it seems appropriate.
December 19, 2010
Twenty-Eight Years of Clean Livin'!
If you ever want to be reminded what 28 years does to a body, go check out this Flickr set. In it, you will see a scan of three photos from a photobooth that Jean and I took after seeing Tron (our first movie together). Then for good measure, two photos in a similar pose taken today after seeing Tron: Legacy. Oof I feel old!
December 02, 2010
Thanksgiving at the Beach
From Halloween to the second Titan, Thanksgiving! This year we had no relatives visiting, and no plans to reciprocate. We'd spent the last few Thanksgivings at home, so Jean came up with the brilliant idea to hit the coast! She did all the work of finding a place and booking it (and tons more).
We left on Thanksgiving morning in my car, with Renee driving. I knew that the passes over the Coast Range would be somewhat snowy, so I brought the snow chains. It was touch and go, but Renee made it with flying colors. Google Maps sent us to the wrong side of a river in Cannon Beach, but we found our way to the hotel with a little difficulty. It was actually nice to drive around at random checking out the main drag.
We stayed at the Schooner's Cove Inn, which backed right on the beach. It was very nice. Only two complaints: the wireless Internet was very spotty, and the staff seemed a little surly (I guess I would be surly working the holidays too). Every morning and evening, Jean and I would step out the back patio and walk down the beach to Haystack Rock and back. I took lots of pictures, some of which are in this photoset.
Part of the reason we went to the coast in November was that we wanted to watch winter storms. The weather was pretty mild most of the time we were there, but there was one storm that really kicked ass. Jean and I walked around in it for about ten minutes and got absolutely soaked.
This was a great holiday idea! I hope we do it again.
November 28, 2010
I just wanted to get off my butt and change the banner for one day to a Halloween banner! That's because, once I finish uploading all my Thanksgiving photos to Flickr, I'll want to select one of them and discuss the trip.
For the first leg, I watched the Rocky Horror tribute on Glee!, and had a lot of fun. For kicks and nostalgia, I watched Rocky Horror itself, on Netflix, and arrived at the usual conclusion: it is a lot of fun in the beginning, the music is great, but the story runs about a half hour too long.
As for the second leg, Renee dressed up and gave out the candy, so I had the fun of working with her, even if the population of candy beggars was quite thin. Thanks, Renee.
The third leg actually came the weekend before Halloween. Alan and Pia hosted a gathering at their house, and it was as usual very enjoyable. So I got a pseudo-Halloween party even if no one came in costume. The gathering with friends is what is important.
So all in all, a good Halloween, and still my favorite holiday.
Come the next post or two, I'll write up our Thanksgiving trip...
One more Halloween item. I bought the Angry Birds Halloween Edition app from the App Store. It was a lot of fun.
I remember this now, because now they are downloading a free update with a Christmas theme!
September 05, 2010
Thinking About the Holidays
It's Labor Day weekend, which to me is the 'starting flag' holiday for the real, holiday triple play of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. For most people, especially families with young children, I think the three holidays occur in order of importance. Halloween is a childrens' holiday, but the ramp up is pretty one-note, and the actual holiday lasts a single night, with business as usual the next day. Thanksgiving is for the whole family and includes activities for grownups (food, sports), as well as stretching for more than one day (for many people at least). And Christmas is both a childrens' holiday and a religious marker. Santa and Jesus in one basket!
For myself, Halloween has always been the most fun of the three, and for a decade or so was unsurpassed using any criteria I chose to apply. Halloween looked down on the holidays to come, standing firm atop three legs.
The First Leg
For most of my childhood, and a fair portion of my adult life, Halloween's approach was a signal to the various television stations to begin airing more offbeat programming. Sci-fi movies saw an undeniable uptick, and in later years, some of the goofier horror movies joined the stable.
I've always enjoyed that sort of goofy storytelling, so it reinforced my anticipation of Halloween. However, in the intervening years, various botique channels such as the Sci-Fi network, took to showing these kinds of movies year round, and if that doesn't supply your fix, you can subscribe to Netflix, or visit any of a number of Internet venues. So the first leg of the tripod is shorter than it used to be.
I still make a point of 'observing' this aspect of Halloween, watching one or more cheesy horror or sci-fi movies in the run-up to the holiday.
The Second Leg
Can you say "Trick or Treat?" I knew that you could. I have enjoyed this part of the holiday both as a child on the receiving end, and as an adult on the giving end.
Add to this that for about a decade I was able to take my own daughter in tow and wander around the neighborhood extorting candy from strangers, and you may begin to understand my appreciation. I have very fond memories of my daughter learning the ritual, and selecting her costumes. Some years it was just the two of us, others we had one of her friends in our gang. Early on she was unclear on the concept, yelling "I want candy!" instead of "trick or treat."
Now Renee has outgrown this aspect of the holiday, and except for a few sporadic parties, she hasn't really replaced it with anything else (when she returns to formal parties with her friends, I won't be invited in any case). We hand out candy together, but the walk around the neighborhood doesn't happen any more. So the second leg of the tripod is also shorter...
The Third Leg
For many years, I attended meetings of an anime club, NOVA. This club met twice a month, and we gathered to watch anime and socialize. I met most of my friends there. And every year, NOVA had a Halloween party. This was like regular meetings in that there were showings of anime and socializing. But it included snacks, and members who were handy with needle and thread would show up in costumes. Often these were costumes they had worn to anime conventions, so it was sort of a mini-cosplay. Lots of fun.
Eventually, my friends and I realized that we were coming to meetings mainly to see each other, and were less interested in the club. So we stopped going to NOVA meetings, and began meeting at Tom's place, or Alan's. But I don't think we've generally acknowledged Halloween in October the way we generally acknowledge Christmas in December.
So this leg of the tripod is a tad shorter as well.
But even though all legs of the tripod are shorter, they still seem to be balanced, and Halloween hasn't been toppled from its top spot for me. It would be neat if October had a monthly gathering, and if some of the handier friends showed off a costume (Valeska... )
But either way, I'm still enjoying Halloween more than the other members of the holiday triple-play.
But What About...
Yes, New Year's Day is a winter holiday too. But let's face it. This holiday is just a checkered flag, letting us know that the fun is over and it's time to hunker down until the snow passes.
Anyway, whichever holiday tickles your fancy, happy holidays.
August 28, 2010
Alan and Pia
Okay, my least fuzzy photos from Alan and Pia's wedding are up on my Flickr account, in this photoset. Many more are on the 'cutting room floor', believe me.
It was a lot of fun going over them, recalling the day. Good luck, you two!
August 12, 2010
Anything to Get Out of a Wedding
Renee just must not want to hit the road with me this Saturday. She was up all night sick. She thinks it was due to 'bad cherries', but Jean The Nurse mentions that there's been a bad summer stomach flu going around too.
Anyone else been having stomach illnesses?
Renee recovered with time to spare, and drove us to Welches for the wedding, which was great. I'm really happy for Alan and Pia.
As for the stomach illness, Jean stayed home from work to help Renee, and the next day she was at work, her boss told her that several parents were out for the same reason. Weird!
June 22, 2010
Just a quick note, as I'm at work. I took Renee in to the DMV this morning, and she took her test for a learner's permit. She passed and is now 'in the chute' for driver's training this summer. Another rite of passage, yay!
April 05, 2010
I'm pinning this post to the top of the weblog for a few days until I have a chance to complete my photo kibutzing. The biggest delay to getting them online is that Jean wanted my most recent photo on Flickr! to be a clue in Renee's Easter Egg Hunt. Since my bundle of trip photos amounts to 221 photos (out of a total of 558 taken), that would have been quite the Easter Egg hunt!
Anyway, the banner photo commemorates our trip, with Jean and Renee posing at the entrance to Granville Island market. You can find the complete photo set labelled Spring Break 2010. I hope to create a number of subsets for the various attractions we visited. Given how long it took to get this set together, don't hold your breath...
P.S.:While not being much of a photographer, I still got a lot of pictures I really enjoyed. The aquarium was a real pleasure, so besides some neat images of Jean and Renee, is possibly my favorite photo of the trip (until I change my mind). You can click through to here for larger versions.
I'm gonna put a placeholder here for notes on our trip to Vancouver. When I get a bit more time I'll try to cull through some of our photos and get them up online.
We went for a whirlwind tour over Spring Break with Renee. We actually had to produce passports, though they don't stamp them for crossings to and from Canada. The border agent told me we could get a stamp in the visitor center. Went in and they said "they always say that!" Bastards!
Anyway, we had a lot of fun, and stopped by Seattle on the way home. Now it's back to work, so pictures will probably be awhile coming.
March 28, 2010
Raw Photo Dump
I've dumped three new batches of photos onto Flickr:
I uploaded them raw/unedited (I think they're pretty much all from the P&S, hence originally JPEGs), then did some brief touch-ups using the online Picnic photo editor. I chose this route rather than the more time consuming local Photoshop routine, because they've been sitting on my computer for two or three weeks, and I have a new batch of photos that I want to spend a little more time tweaking. More on that later.
December 25, 2009
A selection of photos from today are now up on my Flickr account. See the Christmas 2009 set.
October 29, 2009
Shirts from Afar
A couple of weeks ago I got a package from Nami, my onetime penpal. I still hear from her, obviously, but I've moved on to email, and I've failed her as a penpal. She shames me occasionally with a package like this, yet I remain a bad person.
Anyway, as has been my experience, an XL tshirt from Japan is actually a large or medium in America, so I was unable to wear any of the three she sent. Renee, however, is the perfect build for the XL, and she models it in the latest banner. There's a second photo on my Flickr account.
Next time I go to Tom's, I plan to take the remaining two shirts to his place, and see if any of the petite members of his entourage want them.
By the way, Nami, thanks for the shirts. Even if I cannot wear them, it is neat to see shirts "made in Japan". Renee says thanks, also!
October 15, 2009
The Night Watch
I woke up at 1:20 a.m. this morning and kept 'hearing' low-frequency sounds, sort of beat-harmonic, like distant, heavy equipment operation. It would manifest for a few minutes, then silence itself. A few minutes later, it would start up again. I began to wonder if I would get to sleep again, which would have been a problem, since I had unrelated problems sleeping the previous night.
Fortunately I drifted off again and got a full night's sleep. But I was really curious, and asked Jean if she had heard it anytime during the night. She says no, but will often sleep through things that wake me up, despite claims that she is a light sleeper.
So this morning I followed my hunches, and found this link, with the key phrase,
In general, work hours will be Monday through Friday nights, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
There is also a section on "nighttime noise", as well as a notice that they're building a new stretch of "soundwall", starting around SW Ponca Ct., which is just South of Umatilla, where we live. Ironically, it may be preparations for this sound-deadening wall that I was hearing last night.
Supposedly this has been going on for months, and only gets suspended in the winter, so I don't know why I didn't hear it before. But I feel this is the source of my mystery sounds.
September 12, 2009
Nasty Little Crittersesssss!
A few weeks back, Jean was taking a nap in the bedroom. It was a quite weekend afternoon, and she kept hearing what she thought was the gentle dropping of pine needles on the roof. But there's no tree on that side of the house (now of course, no tree on any side, boo hoo!). So she went outside and had a look, and saw a steady stream of wasps flying up to a hole under the eaves, disappearing inside. Occasionally one would pop out again and fly on it's merry way.
We had The Bug Man! come out, and he put on his space suit, crawled up into the attic with a garbage bag and some poison, and came out minutes later with the nest. We got ninety days of active poison. Anything flies in, it dies. But they would most likely not want to.
So I look outside at the back yard the other day (already outside of my habit zone ) and what do I see, but a stinking huge wasp nest in the tree just outside the bedroom window. Bastards couldn't use our attic, so they decided to set up shop right outside! Damn them nasty little crittersesss!
Oh Bug Man!!!!
August 16, 2009
Twice in the last year (the last time fairly recently), we've had our household drainage back up into the laundry room. In each case, it's been due to root incursions on the outlet line. This time, we went further than roto-rooting the roots. We had our favored company come and run a camera up the line. They found not just roots, but the pipe buckled by a larger root.
After consulting with our plumber, the city and a tree company we've used in the past, we concluded that the trees in our front yard had to be removed. Their roots will still grow for up to two years, but we hope that there will be no further damage of the line, and that we may get away without having to dig up the yard and sidewalk to replace it.
These trees have been in our front yard since before we moved in, and have moderated the temperature and sheltered our house for all that time. I'm very sad that they are gone.
August 01, 2009
Late July was the season for relatives. Jean flew home to meet her parents and her sister. On the other hand, my sister and her husband flew out from Michigan to pay me a visit. This is the first time I've seen them in 16 years. You can see the result in the banner photo or by visiting the small photo set on my Flickr account.
For so long as the banner photo is up, here's who's there. In the background is Ted, my sister's husband. Center frame is my sister, Brenda. To the right, in the foreground is of course Renee.
June 21, 2009
Now Exiting the Tweens
Renee turned 14 this weekend! To celebrate, we took our selves up to Seattle, sticking to our favorite stomping grounds, like Pike's Place Market and the International District. Pictured in the banner is the kitchen of one of Jean's favorite stores, Piroshky, Piroshky. A small sample of photos from the weekend can be viewed in this set.
June 16, 2009
Jean ran the Helvetia Half Marathon this weekend! Hurrah!
The banner image was taken after she had finished. It's one of only two that I snapped, so I will apologize for the foreshortening caused by the wide angle. Jean feels it makes her legs look short. But since she had just finished a half-marathon, they couldn't be that short!
April 05, 2009
This will be an omnibus post, as I just want to jot down some notes while I think of them.
Jean's been encouraging me to get back into cooking, and this weekend she selected a recipe for me to try. It was from an older copy of Cook's Illustrated, so I can't link to the online recipe (it's behind their paywall). Instead, I'll just include a generic link to Chicken Tikka Masala. We modified the recipe, substituting plain yogurt in the masala sauce for the cream in the recipe. Verdict: definitely very good.
Mid-last-week, I began an experiment with Netflix. I got the minimal subscription, with one DVD at a time. I really wanted to try out their instant streaming, as we are now using Hulu to watch a number of television programs, and I hoped that we might be able to do the same with some movies. I was skeptical, as most posts seemed to complain about quality at higher bandwidths than we get. It turns out that some movies are watchable, but not all.
I tried watching Banlieue 13, a French action movie with a lot of stunts based on parkour. The stream paused and even skipped, every few seconds. This turns out to be a bad thing for a movie filled with physical stunts.
On the other hand, we watched a movie recommended by one of Jean's co-workers, Monsoon Wedding, and it was not too jerky. The movie itself was great.
Finally, our first actual DVD from Netflix arrived this weekend, and we watched it today. It is called Bride & Prejudice and is a Bollywood-style musical based on Jane Austen's novel. It was produced by Indian, British and American companies and was mostly in English. I love musicals, and have a weakness for Bollywood musical romances and comedies, so this was a real treat. Jean seemed to enjoy it too.
Coming up in our queue next will be Memento.
March 22, 2009
Feeling Normal Again
Such as it is.
Several weeks ago contracted a short-lived but vigorous cold. After much sneezing, coughing and nose-blowing, I managed to pull a muscle in my lower back. I took anti-inflammatories, restricted my exercise routines to walking and waited. Eventually I decided to see my doctor, and of course began to feel better shortly before my appointment. He said I'd done all the right things, and turned me loose.
That Saturday morning, I was reaching up for something in a kitchen cabinet and had a short, sharp electrical shock at the base of my back. I was left holding onto the counter, breathing shallowly and unable to support my own weight. After awhile, it settled down to a nagging stab, and I was able to struggle through the day. By Monday I was feeling mobile enough to go to work. I eased myself out of my chair frequently (usually quite a production) and walked about. Walking felt better than sitting. By the time I got home, I thought the kinks were more or less worked out.
That evening, I was reaching down, and had a revisitation of the electric shock. I crawled upstairs and lay down. I knew I wasn't going anywhere, and the following morning I managed to shuffle to the phone long enough to call in sick. Days passed without much improvement, and I'm not even sure anymore who scheduled my next doctor visit, but I think it was that Tuesday night that I had such a spasm that I was yelling out loud for a couple of minutes trying to shift into a position that wasn't torturing me.
Jean called the all-night line, braved the night to pick up some muscle relaxants for me, and I took them and slept fitfully. When we saw Dr. Selby, he said I was too knotted up to work on, so they shot me full of Demerol and sent me home with a bunch of prescriptions: muscle relaxants, pain pills, anti-inflammatories; and instructions to rest for two days. That Friday I went in, able to walk without the aid of a cane, but still uncomfortable. Dr. Selby, an osteopath, did an adjustment on me, and told me to spend the weekend resting.
This past week, I've been going to work, with some pain, but most of my mobility back. I saw him again on Thursday for another adjustment, and now I am mostly mobile again. I'm crossing my fingers that I don't have one of those electric shocks again. That really sucked.
The positive part of the story is that I got caught up on my Battlestar Galactica backlog on Hulu using my laptop, and I bought two Amazon eBooks and used them with their new Kindle for iPod software. It works great. So, silver lining and all that...
December 23, 2008
As I mentioned, work's been quite busy. It let up some over the holiday, which turns out to be a good thing, as Jean needed eye surgery. We've been working with her doctor, Dr. Ma, doing tests over a period of a few weeks, and he finally said she needed a vitrectomy. We had to drive to St. Vincent early Monday morning, when the roads were Hell. In all, most of the day was eaten up.
We drove up again today for a post-op check-up. Roads still sucked, though not quite as bad. He wants us to come up again tomorrow, so I'll still get my shot at a heart attack from stressful driving.
Jean was of course feeling rather under the weather after the surgery. Today she is feeling a little bit better. We have a couple weeks at least of post-surgical hoo-hah. She needs to keep her face pointed at the floor for two weeks, for instance.
Anyway, that's the big news for now. Hope everyone is having a good holiday.
November 16, 2008
Very, Very Busy
I actually took this weekend off, but spent most of it hanging with the fam and decompressing (which for me means seeing a movie, Quantum of Solace if you care), so no post until now. So a quick recap...
Wednesday the 5th, my boss' boss asked if I could jump on board on an emergency project. Unfortunately, I had jury duty that Thursday. So all day Thursday was shot, then Friday I started working on the project. And Saturday. And Sunday (twelve hours that day). Most days this last week have been long, with me grabbing a snack in lieu of dinner on a few occasions. By Friday, I had beaten an insidious bug (with the help of a coworker), and I myself was beat.
I expect the cycle to begin again tomorrow, so expect radio silence once more.
To summarize, no fatal accidents or debilitating illnesses, just very, very busy. Thanks for your concern
August 04, 2008
Jean has always harbored an interest in artifactual history, especially, I think, where the presence of people is most evident. One way this manifests is that she's always wanted to travel to the real Old West and see the remnants of towns preserved by desert weather, i.e. ghost towns.
I had lunch with one of my former co-workers last week, and Jean heard that his family had vacationed in New Mexico, so she had me ask him if he knew of any ghost towns in the state. As it turns out, he did not, but also vacationed in Colorado, where he has family, and knows of some ghost towns there.
More surprisingly, Oregon apparently has a fairly high incidence of ghost towns.
So I'm expecting at least some weekend trips around Oregon in the next year...
August 03, 2008
I've been sitting on today's banner photo since June 13, which was a Friday. Renee planned and executed a sleep-over with three of her friends, which included staying up most of the night watching scary movies. The photo is of her three friends, sleeping off the debauchery. Sadly, their midnight viewing did not include Jason X, which this photo reminds me of.
Phone Number Dead
I tried calling my Dad's Michigan number today, and I got the robot operator saying that the number was out of service or disconnected! Dunno what that's about...
June 03, 2008
Hi, Dr. Kierkegaarde!
I had my regular dental checkup today, and my dentist, Dr. Kierkegaarde, told me she had been Googling her name to try to help a patient find her practice's website (yeah, right) and my weblog came up on the first page of Google results! She said it was a sort of strange seeing her name in some unrelated article. So I figured I'd better boost my rating again and enter a post assuring her that I'm not a stalker!
By the way, since I've had reason to look up her practice's website when recommending it to my coworkers, here is the link: Burlingame Dental Arts
and here's my dentist: Dr. Kierkegaarde.
Am I being creepy enough yet?
May 31, 2008
Jean's birthday fell on this week, so we did Juan Colorado for the meal treat. Renee had deep-fried ice cream for dessert! Oof.
Forgot to mention earlier when I gave it to her, but I got Jean an iPod Shuffle, so she could use it when she was working out. She seems to like it, though she finds the earbuds irritating as they continue to slip out of her ears.
May 25, 2008
In keeping with Teh Internetz EULA, I post my annual cat picture. This one has actually been sitting in the camera for about a month, so enjoy!
May 11, 2008
Jean gave me a list of plants that she thought Renee might get her for Mother's Day. So after the movie we drove to the local garden store and ran through the list with a helpful employee. We returned home with a banana plant! Jean was surprised, despite the fact that she'd suggested it herself. Turns out she had been thinking about a dwarf house plant, and we brought home a 'bush' that the garden store employee said should reach eight feet in height. The literature says more like fifteen feet. It is planted out back in Jean's garden now. We'll see how it fares in the summer, and the winter.
March 23, 2008
In addition to the banner photo of extreeeeeeme closeup action (okay, maybe not that extreme, but Renee was suitably annoyed), you can go to my Flickr account and view the photo set. Note that Renee is carrying a Halloween pumpkin bucket for collecting eggs. This is particularly ironic as she bowed out of trick-or-treating this year by virtue of being too old for that kid stuff. Yet Easter egg hunting took place some four to five months later. This may be the last egg hunt though, as it was somewhat perfunctory. How the little ones grow!
While there are some strange lighting artifacts in a few of the pictures I took, you can nevertheless still get an impression of our new wood floors. I think they're pretty nice.
December 30, 2007
Christmas Pics are Up
December 16, 2007
Internet Cat Tax
December 08, 2007
This House Ain't Big Enough for the Two of Us!
That's how it seemed, anyway, for the first few days after we adopted a second cat. After some initial experimentation, we named him Quark, after a difficult to locate subatomic particle. We picked him up last Sunday, and I've been waiting, collecting impressions, before writing up this post.
He's reasonably smart, though perhaps not quite so smart as Chichi. When we got him, he had a bad case of ear mites (one of the worst our vet had seen), but with medicine and ear drops, seems to be improving rapidly. He also has roundworms, but we're treating that as well. We adopted him from another family, and all I can say is, don't they care about their pets? Come on, people!
He's shared family beds most every night, and likes to nest right next to my head, which is fine when he's quiet, but not so good when he's scratching or licking himself. He also likes to announce wake-up call around 5am, which sucks for me. Jean is usually up by then anyway, so when I really need sleep, I retire to the captain's bed in the den and close the door.
As I mentioned, Chichi is currently very jealous, though she's improved greatly from the first day, when she was growling and hissing and following Quark all over the house. Now they actually play, though Chichi plays dominance games and clearly would gut Quark if she still had her claws. She's about twice as big as the little guy, and just wrestles him to the ground. But he keeps coming back for more. I think he'll tire her out eventually. And if that doesn't work, he'll soon grow to at least her size. So the beatings should stop by then.
November 10, 2007
Okay, to be fair to Verizon, we got the router within 48 hours. But, this is the second time I've hooked up a router of theirs, and had all web access redirected to the same Verizon web page. It's been over four months since I did this dance, so I had to call tech support again to find out the secret handshake to get their modem to let me onto the internet. This is undocumented anywhere in their shipped manuals, or as far as I can tell, online (though a fat lot of good that would do me if I didn't have internet access). For my future reference (yes, I'll have to remember to echo this to a local file), go to this URL and click on the button presented. I doubt this happens to everyone, but it's happened to me twice. What were they thinking?!?!
As for cable television, we are now using 'limited basic'. I've finished watching the last of the spooled episodes of my regular shows from Comedy Central and The SciFi Channel. I still have a couple of bad made-for-tv movies to go. After that, it's all vanilla.
November 07, 2007
I can't post from home just now, as our Verizon-branded DSL router just went toes up yesterday. After only four months of service. After a rather crappy switch from Frame Relay to ATM networks. The good news is that the tech I spoke to identified himself as Ivan, who was one of the few who seemed to know what he was doing the last time I rode this merry-go-round. The bad news is that he doesn't control Verizon shipping, so it remains to be seen if the replacement router will arrive via UPS within the 24-48 hours he quoted.
On another note, we're experimenting with reduced cable television. We had 'extended basic' cable, which is analog cable with more stations than we watch. We were paying on the order of $55 per month by the time we got tired of the slowly escalating bills, and stations disappearing into the 'digital cable only' cloud. So now we're subscribing to 'limited basic' cable. For myself, this means giving up Comedy Central (South Park, Drawn Together, and if they ever release a new season, Venture Brothers) and the SciFi Network (mostly Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who [wah!] and the endless string of cheap made-for-SciFi movies). For Jean it mostly means giving up The Daily Show (Comedy Central again). For Renee, it means giving up Animal Planet, and some of the stations that re-run the crime shows she's grown fond of. And that's it.
So we get all the networks that also broadcast locally over the air, and we get tons of shopping channels and public access, that I'll never use. The price quoted on the Comcast site is $8.40, but of course that's before surcharges, taxes and double-speak fees. This next bill will be split across the old and new service, so I won't know what the actual price will be for another billing cycle.
If Comcast does something stupid like removing the limited basic channels from analog ('you need a Comcast set-top box for those channels, for a small monthly rental fee'), then we'll just start looking at one of the satellite packages. Burr uses Dish, and likes it. Or I hear that Verizon is going to start offering IPTV in our area in the next year. Of course, I'm just a little peeved with Verizon right now... Oh! Full Circle!
October 17, 2007
Saturday was the third time I've gone to a Burr-day party. My friend from work, Burr, turned 51 (I think), and he decided to have another party like his fiftieth, wherein he gathered together a bunch of friends and held a cooking party. Last year's theme was beef (from grain to grass-fed, and more-or-less grocery grade to Wagyu beef).
This year he jumped to the other pole, and the theme was vegetables. He told me that my salsa recipe would be welcome, so I made double batches of both kinds, on the spot. People seemed to like them.
After the meal, we went outside and played Bocce Ball. The last time I can recall playing that was as a youngster in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where one of our neighbors had a cousin from Italy staying the summer. Strange nostalgia there.
Anyway, happy birthday, Burr!
Renee has an Achilles' Heel. I was balancing the checkbook in the den when I heard the most soul-rending wails from the living room. I ran to Renee, who was sitting on the floor in obvious pain. Good thing her mother is a nurse. All I could do was support her back and ask if I should bring ice.
It seems that she had been sitting cross-legged while knitting, and one of her feet was twisted on top of her other leg. When she went to stretch, it wouldn't straighten out. She had a muscle spasm. She's walking now, although she has to limp, but it took awhile for the spasm to die down, and I really felt helpless.
Thing is, this isn't the first time Renee has had problems with a foot locking up on her. And on at least one of those occasions, I'm pretty sure she'd been sitting with it folded at an odd angle. So I told her that now she has to train herself to never sit like that, since she's obviously predisposed toward cramping painfully when that happens.
Ugh. I'm just glad she's okay.
June 21, 2007
Quick note from work, as I'm still Internet poor at home.
Yesterday was Renee's twelfth birthday! I went to work, but in the evening, we went to John Barleycorn, a McMenamin's pub/restaurant. Renee wanted to go there because they serve Oregon Country Beef, which is grass-fed, and hence lower-risk than the already low risk of mad cow contamination. Jean won't let Renee eat grocery beef (grain fed) because of that risk, so Renee has to go to extra lengths to get a cheeseburger.
Afterwords we went home and opened prezzies. Renee got three books, some earrings inspired by the serotonin molecule, a digitizing pad for her computer artwork, an album from Snow Patrol and a tennis racket. She's been bouncing a ball ever since. I think she was happy with what she got.
Oh, and Chichi was an early present. Another early present her mom gave her, of which I don't approve, is pierced ears, hence the new earring present. I'll just have to live with that sort of thing, I guess.
May 28, 2007
We celebrated Jean's birthday today. As I was lazy, I took no pictures, so use your imagination.
We ate a Juan Colorado, one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants. Later in the afternoon, we exchanged gifts.
I gave Jean a gold(ish) chain. On Jean's advice I checked at Macy's, but unknowingly walked up to the 'fancy' jewelry counter. I got a rather cold reception when I mentioned my budget. "You want the costume jewelry section." A vague wavey gesture in the general direction of the 'slum' accompanied this. But I succeeded in finding something that I thought looked nice, and Jean seems to like it, so pooh on anonymous sales-thing...
Jean gave me a copy of The Black Swan! Just what I always wanted!
The new banner is a sampling of four photos I put up on Flickr showing some of the work Jean's done in the back and side yard installing a stone garden path. I'm not a big yard fan, so I barely even acknowledge it's existence, but I have watched her digging and levelling and generally slaving away to install this, and she should be proud of what she's accomplished. It's already looking nice, and when the ground cover surrounds it, it will be beautiful.
May 05, 2007
The Cat's Out of the Bag
Ar, ar! Okay, enough with the jokes. Renee has been asking for a kitten for ages. I've been setting conditions centering on her responsibility and maturity. I was finally convinced that she was serious about taking care of a kitten, and did a lot of hunting for candidates. Last weekend, we took one home. Here is Chichi. May she live as long as Kafka and Grendl did.
April 01, 2007
Polluting My Internet
I agree with Kottke.
December 30, 2006
The new banner photo shows my propensity for fixating on food, captured in a set of holiday gifts from my wife. You can see a small sample of other photos in this photo set. Another favorite of mine is this selection of stocking stuffers, which also accurately reflects my character.
I know my daughter is growing up, when so many of her gifts are items of jewelry and fashion accessories. Anyway, it was a fun holiday. Since I bought Jean a copy of Brain Age, I haven't really played either of my DS games. Seems she's always using it whenever I'm in the mood.
November 18, 2006
Renee got her grades for her first term at Hazelbrook Middle School. 4.0! And that's counting taking a course in math one year advanced. She has every right to be proud. She's got native smarts, but she's busted her chops working some late evenings to learn and absorb. So now she's an honors student, and I think rightly so.
I told her that she didn't have to be an honors student for me to be proud of her (I really am proud of you, Renee), but she should be justly proud of her accomplishment, since she got there by her own effort. Congratulations, Renee!
November 05, 2006
Tom should turn his place into a pub. Or an arcade. I was over to his place for what's turning into a monthly gathering, with a mix of friends I've come to know over the years, mostly met at NOVA. Yesterday evening, it was Alan, Bo & Lisa, Chris & Valeska, Aidee and John Jackson, of all people!
John Jackson had gone to Anime Expo this summer, as he does every summer, and he brought treats for everyone. He gave me an artbook for Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, but stupid me, I forgot it when I went home. Hopefully Tom will stash it safely for me until next month's shindig.
We went out for Asian, some chain joint with adequate Chinese food. I tried their Kung Pao chicken. Very different from the restaurant in Wilsonville, or Wu's Open Kitchen. Good enough, though.
And when we got back, I also got to see Chris playing Elite Beat Agents, the American adaptation (remake?) of the smash Nintendo DS game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. Both are rhythm games, where you use the DS stylus to tap areas of the touch screen in time to the music. I suck at these sorts of games, but I still enjoy them, and I may eventually get a copy. I tried to see if Renee would like one, but while she found it cute, I don't think she had any desire to try it herself.
Lots of game-themed activities then, and lots of fun conversation. Both Tom and Alan got quizzed by me on a science extra-credit project Renee has from school. It's poorly specified, whether due to the teachers' keeping it informal or my daughter flaking, I'm unsure. But the project is to find/make an object which will float in water, neither sinking to the bottom nor floating at the top. This is a fairly delicate balancing act, trying to match the density of water, without over or undershooting. Most of our attempts failed miserably, but a few were at the borderlines (Jean thinks she's gotten the closest, as of today, Sunday, using a saltwater solution in a four-ounce seal-able plastic container). Tom thought it was possible but probably required more than an eleven-year old should be expected to come up with. Alan made some useful suggestions, and if the clock doesn't run out, I'lll try them. But right now, I'm just urging Renee to write up what she's tried and her reasoning behind it. I think that's the real purpose of the experiment, to hone their observational skills and experimental design instincts.
Looking forward to the next bash. For now, it's goodnight!
November 03, 2006
One More Year
Posting late because there were ISP problems where I host this weblog...
Tuesday night was Halloween, and it was pretty neat. I'd called Renee's friend's mom a few days before and we'd agreed that I'd stop by their house with Renee around 7pm on All Hallow's Eve. So I was at work, working with a coworker on a subtle and annoying bug, saying "I have to get out of here by 6pm at the latest." I figured that would give me plenty of time to get ready.
So it's six o'clock and I go back to my office to gather up my stuff, and my cellphone is vibrating. I rush to pick it up, and the first thing I hear is "are you on your way home? Kaitlin wants to start trick or treating."
"What? I thought we agreed on 7pm?"
"Yeah, but she wants to start now."
So Renee's friend bumped up the timetable, and I just got home, put my work stuff away, switched into my winter jacket, and Renee and I drove on over.
Kaitlin is quite a bit shorter than Renee, and pretty skinny. She was wearing a cat costume. While petite, she's got a surprisingly deep and sonorous voice. We started walking around her neighborhood, and she and Renee are jabbering and cracking jokes the whole time. While the evening was pretty crisp, it wasn't nearly as bitterly cold as last year. Still, Renee's costume included a short skirt, and she refused to wear a jacket, since that would hide her costume, so I'm sure she was courting hypothermia.
We walked away from Kaitlin's home for about half an hour, doing the usual trick or treat drill at every lit house. About then, Kaitlin said, "I think we should be heading back. I don't recognize anything here." I assured her that even though this wasn't my neighborhood, that I felt confident that I could backtrack. So we started back.
On the way we encountered a police car, whose female officer confirmed we were heading in the right direction. She also gave us candy!
Eventually we got back to Kaitlin's house, and Renee and Kaitlin sat around swapping loot while I talked with Kaitlin 's parents. Finally it was back home for Renee and I. Hot showers all around, and end the night.
So I don't know if this will happen again next year, but I'm grateful to have had one more year of Halloween with my daughter.
October 29, 2006
Okay, the event has yet to happen, but Renee spent part of today working on her costume, and Friday evening I called her friend's parents and got the address, so it looks like Halloween is on for Tuesday! Cross your fingers. I'll give a report after the fact.
In the meantime, enjoy last year's banner pumpkin!
October 15, 2006
Has Halloween Been Saved?
It's probably no secret that my favorite holiday is Halloween. I'm not even sure I can articulate my reasons, though of course a big one has been the nearly decade-long tradition of escorting Renee on her appointed rounds, bilking friendly neighborhood victims out of candy. From the early years when she alternated between fear of all the odd costumes to running up to doors and shouting "I want candy!" to the year when I was little more than an ambulatory freight container, every pocket bulging with her overflow loot, I've enjoyed each and every Halloween night. Dark, cold or warm, raining or not, it's been a joy.
I could see the writing on the wall when she finished fairly early last year, and hardly ever dug into her candy in the ensuing weeks. Earlier this year, we were talking about holidays, and I asked her what she thought. I told her I wouldn't be disappointed if she felt she was too grown up to do trick-or-treating this year (I lied). And she said, yeah, she didn't think she'd be doing it anymore. Oh cruel world!
Remember how I 'failed to mention' Kumoricon to Renee, and she found out about it anyway through her network of friends? That time, it worked to my disadvantage, leading to standing in long lines for hours, though I tried to console myself that this would be a substitute for those lost Halloween nights.
But now, it turns out that one of her buddies has proposed to Renee that they go trick-or-treating together, dressed as anime characters! The details have to be ironed out, and they may fold when her friend finds out that I require they have an adult escort (yeah, I'm gonna let a pair of eleven-year olds wander around a neighborhood after dark unprotected). But maybe it'll happen.
Honestly, as a parent I must require that there be a bodyguard along for the trip. But just as honestly, I hope it's gonna be me.
October 14, 2006
To paraphrase Churchy LaFemme, "Friday the 13th come on a Friday this month!" My left shoulder started hurting, dunno what I lifted wrong, pushed wrong or slept on wrong, but it was bothering me whenever I reached for something the wrong way.
Woke up this morning, and my range of motion is much more restricted, at least without pain. I've been through this once before a year or so ago with my right shoulder. The joint just decides to get all tetchy. Course of treatment, as per Dr. Selby, is to slam it with NSAIDs (basically a lot of Alleve) and after a couple of days begin the gingerly stretching.
As my old high school chum Mike Wendell would say, "defective body, trade it in!"
September 04, 2006
The Long Weekend
Thursday evening I brought home an Xbox 360 and Dead Rising. I played for maybe half an hour or an hour, then tried hooking it up to my network. Simple summary: it doesn't like my network. There's nothing wrong with the ethernet cable; I can use it to hook my laptop up to the router and see the Internet, no problem.
Thinking the problem might be imcompatible firmware / old hardware, I hooked the 360 directly up to the router. I only got slightly further before hitting a wall. On Friday I bought a new router for hardwired network experiments, and the 360 wireless adapter to see if that would work. Friday was spent mostly powering down and up all the hardware in various configurations. The final verdict is that for the time being, I can get the 360 online using the wireless adapter, but not any combo of hardware ethernet. Next Saturday I'm gonna haul the 360 and the router over to Tom's to see if my hardware (in any combination) will work on his network. If not, I'll conclude that the ethernet port on the 360 is defective and take it back. Otherwise, I'll just stick with the wireless adapter.
So to summarize, mostly for my own fault memory:
- The ethernet cable is fine. I can use it to connect my laptop to the internet through the Linksys BEFSR41 V4 router (with what is apparently the most recent firmware, 1.04.05) with no magic settings.
- Hook the Xbox 360 up to the router, and it reports that the router is "Disconnected", though I can use my desktop computer to access the Internet when it is hooked up to the same router.
- Hook the 360 up directly to the DSL modem (Fujitsu Speedport R14) and I get a connected message, but obtaining an IP address "Failed". I think this is due to the fact that Verizon identifies the router by MAC address, and needs around eight hours of idle line to reset, so it was unwilling to give the 360 an IP address.
- Switching over to the wireless router, which plugs into the USB port, not the ethernet port, I am able to connect to Xbox Live immediately. Speeds are about what I'd expect for my connection type (tested by downloading both the Prey Demo [1.17 GB] and the Condemned Demo [~500MB]).
Friday wasn't spent entirely noodling with my network. I took a lunch break and went to see Crank, the new Jason Statham movie. It's really over the top. Definitely not something I'd recommend seeing with the parents.
I expected that I'd spend Saturday playing Dead Rising and maybe fiddling with the network, but that plan was shot down when one of Renee's friends sent her an online message asking her if she was going to be at Kumoricon. This is an anime convention held in Portland, small by the standards I've gotten used to over the years of attending Anime Expo. I had not planned on going, never have. I chose not to mention it to Renee, as I really didn't want to go. So she got this message and immediately hit me with "can we go, can we go?!?!?"
I told her I'd already blown my allowance for the next three months on my new toys, but she offered to pay her own way with birthday/Christmas money. "Still doesn't pay my way in" I said, but she decided that she'd try to sweet-talk Mom into finding money in the household budget. Since Jean works on Saturday, it was decided that Renee and I would do a single day badge at the convention, and there went my Saturday.
We drove up and got in line around 9:30am, and 2.5 hours later we got our badges. Renee complained the entire time we were in line. I told her "welcome to an authentic anime convention activity." I ran into Chris Arneson, and he said that the Friday night pre-registration line was just as bad. Four people running the registration table, 1800 pre-regs. Seems they are even more disorganized than Anime Expo staff.
The first thing we did on entering was to visit the Dealer's Room. It was tiny compared to Anime Expo, but Renee managed to blow her entire remaining cash in the space of ten minutes (when we went to lunch and I paid for it out of the funds Jean allotted, she said "if there's any money left, we can go back to the Dealer's Room!" I nixed that in a hurry).
We saw the anime music video (AMV) contest, and Renee was just tickled. She especially liked that she got to vote for best videos in various categories. We did a lot of walking around the convention, checking out the costumes. Renee is now convinced that she needs a costume for next year (that's right, next year, I'm committed already). Especially as she met her friends Elaine and Bleu, both dressed to the nines. Bleu was a not-too-elaborate Loli-goth (at twelve years old) and Elaine was some primary-color character I didn't recognize. I didn't see an adult within 50 feet of them any time we ran into them. And they're twelve. Renee better not get any ideas on that count...
Our last activity was to check out a panel. The Kumoricon program was printed out in tiny print in a 2" square booklet, so I had trouble making out what was happening where. But I spotted a panel called "So you want to be a cos-player?" Since Renee was talking about needing a costume for next year (Sakura from Tsubasa -- the older, more romantic version of this character) I suggested we check it out. We stood at the back and listened for half an hour as the young woman up front talked about the various issues in hiding her bosoms so she could pretend to be a boy character. It was only then that I discovered that the name of the panel was "So you want to be a Cross-player?" Fortunately, Renee took the info in stride, deciding that it would help her to play an older and more mature Sakura as well.
We finally went home, and Renee was bubbling and buzzing for the rest of the evening. A more loving child you never met. She thanked me dozens of times for taking her, and she thanked Jean for finding the funding to support the trip.
Sunday was mostly chores, lotsa laundry.
Today, we went to the Japanese Garden. I took scads of pictures, but most of them are uninteresting, out of focus or repetitive. I'll try to cull a few and post them soon. The trip itself was a lot of fun. So now it's off to bed, and back to work tomorrow.
Oh, and Renee is heading to her first day of school on Wednesday. It'll be just a orientation day, but it's a new school, so she's pretty nervous, though she tries not to show it. Fingers crossed!
August 27, 2006
Saturday I went over to Tom's house for a BBQ. I wasn't sure how many folk would be there, so I got to the Beaverton Farmer's Market early and stocked up on ingredients for salsa. As I proposed before, I made four batches: food-processor with cilantro, food-processor without, hand-prepped with cilantro, and hand-prepped without. And a comment to Valeska (Tom, you can forward this, as I don't expect Valeska will see this otherwise): the food-processor recipe and the hand-prep recipe differ in a few ways. They are not identical, but other than texture, I guess I can see how they'd be difficult to differentiate.
The tomatoes themselves were the stars. I walked the whole market sniffing and squeezing, looking for the best tomato for my salsa. In the end, I settled on two varieties at the same stall. I asked the farmer what he thought of each, and he recommended one (Celebration? I can't remember all these cute breed names). I asked if it was too sweet, and he just cut a chunk off one and handed it to me! And boy, howdy, was it ever rich. So I hied myself home, and began the work of cutting, dicing and mincing, using my new favorite, the santoku.
I need to pause here and say that I realize I may be more enthusiastic about the salsa I make than any given friend who eats it. Part of the fun for me is in the assembly. It just tastes better to me when I make it myself from fresh ingredients. I'm afraid I may have bored folks with my 'waxing rhapsodic' on the virtues of these salsa recipes. By the end of the night, the four small tubs of salsa were at most half depleted, and Tom was suggesting I take them home. But I wanted to follow my original plan and just leave them with Tom. I doubt he'll finish it off, even with help from Alan and James and crew...
Anyway, Bo and Lisa, James, Alan, Dan, Valeska (and later Chris) and Tom's card playing friend (sorry Tom, can't remember his name) were there for the festivities, and everybody brought something to eat. So it was a real spread. I ate a burger, but mostly nibbled on and off throughout the evening. Alan's hummus was very tasty. Not to slight any of the other food, I'm just a hummus nut.
After the eats, I spent quite a lot of time downstairs with Alan watching him demo Dead Rising and Ninety-Nine Nights on Tom's Xbox 360. You'll recall that I said that if anything could get me to buy a 360, it'd be Dead Rising. Well, nothing I saw changed my mind. DR is a fun game (with a sick sense of humor), though I expect the key combos will escape me. Alan has a way of making that sort of gameplay seem easy, when it's really not.
I even spent a little time chatting with Adam, who was comfortably ensconced up North, playing Texas Hold'em on Xbox Live when Alan logged on. I don't know if someone with a Silver account (the free version of Xbox Live) can audio-chat with friends, but it's a nice feature.
Around 11pm I decided that I'd better get on home, since I have been trying to assemble a presentation on Design Patterns for work. So anyway, thanks for inviting me, Tom. I hope we can get together again soon!
August 14, 2006
This morning I noticed a notebook laying on the floor. On the cover, in my hand, were the words "Computer Prog. I". It was on a stack of drawing materials that Renee has been using to draw 'manga' this summer. Inside the book, again in my hand, was our address in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where Jean and I lived when I got my undergraduate degree, decades ago.
All my old class notes had long since been removed, but the first batch of pages contained notes on photography that Jean had taken while teaching herself to be a better photographer. I don't know if this was while she was doing yearbook work as a teacher in Ohio, or during her stint as an editor for an in-house magazine in Portland, but it was in either case years ago.
So this single notebook has been used in the education of three family members, over the course of decades, and there are still blank pages. I'm tempted to tell Renee to leave a few pages blank in the back for her own child...
July 30, 2006
Jean's parents are having a spate of bad luck. After the reunion, they were going to do a car tour of Washington and Oregon, staying at B&B's and hotels along the way. They planned to end their tour this Monday at our house, spend a few days, then head back to Michigan.
Well, early last week they showed up at our doorstep. The hotel they were staying at had lost their reservation. So they spent the night with us, then went on to continue their tour. Then, yesterday, Jean began to worry about the fires in eastern Oregon, as that is where her parents were headed next. And guess what? They had to cut their tour short due to fire! They are here a day early, with pretty cool pictures of fire crawling up hills right next to their car. I'll try to see if Jean's dad can't upload one or two of them to my computer so I can post them here.
Here's hoping that nothing else happens to mess up their itinerary on the way home!
July 25, 2006
Jean's family reunion is behind us now. The banner photo is of the gang, in Pike Place Market. This image looks good on my LCD screen, but is too dark on my wife's CRT. Apologies if this is true for you too...
We had a petit deja vu when Jean's parents showed up this evening after their hotel reservations nearby got screwed up. They were planning on showing up next Monday for a few days, after touring Washington and Oregon, and this is still the plan. But for now they have a somewhat less fancy hotel than they may have planned on.
Highlights of the trip:
Pike Place Market, of course. Renee spent forty or fifty dollars on rings and bangles she found among the artisans here. I walked around with her, but bought nothing of my own. I just enjoy people watching. Mind you, if I'd had a place to do kitchen prep, I"d have dropped a bundle on fresh fruit and veggies, yum!
We dined at Elephant and Castle the first night (Friday). Jean's sister Ann tried to coerce Renee into ordering a salad with lettuce, seemingly aghast that my child might not want to eat it. After Ann moved on to other machinations, I assured Renee that I was in her camp. "Lettuce is a waste of space!" Long live spinach!
Saturday included trips to the Experience Music Project (didn't know Jimi Hendrix was a Seattle native, shame on me; also didn't know Quincy Jones was from there, perhaps not so shameful) and the Science Fiction Museum. At EMP, Renee used the interactive exhibits to discover that she likes drums. They are in fact more intricate than simply banging on a noisemaker, and I think she twigged to the notion that this was a real-life DDR rig. Jean was amused when I jumped in right on cue to sing along to "How Many More Times" by Led Zeppelin.
I have to say that I've read a lot of science fiction in my life, so the SF Museum was a lot of fun for me. Moving from exhibit to exhibit, saying "read that, read that, not familiar with that one, read that..." probably got pretty tiring for Renee, but I was tickled.
Saturday night dining was at Pike Pub and Brewery, which is pretty much as you'd expect it. Lottsa concrete, raised ceilings, linoleum and concrete flooring. The food was good, but the acoustics were trying most of the time.
Sunday was a 'free day', and I used my time to hook up with Adam, my "anime pal that's fun to be with!" I've known him for years, after Tom introduced us at Anime Expo. We went to lunch at Gordon Biersch in the Pacific Place mall. The Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry was excellent, as was the Hefeweizen. I forgot how huge those wheat beer glasses get, though!
After lunch we just wandered around downtown Seattle for an hour, then I hooked up with Jean to make sure she got her key (our room got moved on Sunday). Then Adam and I hopped the bus and ran over to Uwajimaya. After searching for some wasabi root and discovering that it was $67/lb. I gave up on that notion, and instead we went into Kinokuniya to look at books, videos and cds. I ended up buying two tankouban for Renee, and again, nothing for myself, although now I wish I'd bought Kamikaze Girls. I had not heard of it when I was in the store, but just today I read a review that made it sound fun. Strange.
Monday we got all packed up and drove ourselves home. The trip home was much faster than the trip up. After unpacking, I decided I needed to decompress, so I went to a movie: Clerks II. Not a family picture! But fun for me, nonethelesss.
July 18, 2006
This evening I was in the downstairs family room trying to zip through an episode of one of my favorite shows, so I could move on to reformatting the ReplayTV (more on that later) when Jean came down to ask for my scientific opinion. Good luck with that, eh?
Renee got a Butterfly Canopy kit for her birthday. It's a mesh cylinder habitat. You send away for live caterpillars, which arrived in a box that the Post Office left on our porch in the hot sun a week or so ago. Fortunately the little buggers were still alive. They were in a small plastic jar, the bottom of which was filled with some packed food medium, looking a little like light caramel fudge. They ate like the dickens, grew triple or quadruple their original size, and then began their crysalis stage.
A few days passed, with Renee postponing the transfer of the cocoons to the habitat. Turns out she feared damaging them and killing them. Once we explained that leaving them in the tiny jar was a guarantee of certain death, she got moving. So there I was, watching my show, and Jean wanted help deciding how the transfer was supposed to go. I read the directions, and shared how I thought they were to be interpreted.
Time passes, and Renee comes down with the habitat in hand. Stop the show again, march upstairs. All the survivors of the first stage are transferred to the habitat. Three are dangling from a paper disk which Jean pins to the side of the habitat. A fourth has fallen to the bottom of the jar, but the instructions assure us that if we place it gently on a clean napkin at the bottom of the habitat, it will survive. I am skeptical, but we try it anyway. Funny thing. Jean goes searching for a pair of tweezers (at my suggestion) that she can "sacrifice to science". I tell her she should just pour a little hydrogen peroxide on them after the transfer (thinking silently that all I'd do would be to run a little water over the tweezers, or even just rub 'em on my shirt). But she is apparently squeamish about the idea of "butterfly spit".
I thought we had finalized the project, and I returned to my show. However. It turns out that there was no perfect spot in the house from which to hang the habitat. It must be not-too-hot, not-too-cold, not-too-breezy. So I got enlisted to help find the perfect location. In the end, I suggested the den, where I keep my desktop computer. Said den has the window blocked to prevent glare, so it's perfect for snoozing butterflies. Now I have to be careful where I point the fan, but it's only for a few days. Chances are they'll hatch out while we're up in Seattle. Have to remember to shove some fruit into the habitat before we leave...
Then finally I went downstairs and finished off the show, leading to my next post...
July 03, 2006
It's the long weekend for me, and so, while Renee was at Willowbrook, an arts and crafts day camp, Jean and I did our own little field trip. We went to the Discovery Museum at the World Forestry Center. We'd been under the impression that this was a general forestry museum, suitable for all ages, but really, it's a kid's museum. In fact, Renee would probably find it a bit too young for her tastes. So the trip served a purpose, as Jean had been thinking of taking Renee there for a mother-daughter trip this summer, and now knows not tot bother.
Once we completed this trip, we went down to Wilsonville to dine at Hunan Kitchen, a restaurant I frequent with some of my work friends. I had my usual Kung Pao Chicken, and Jean had the tangy pork slivers. Good!
June 20, 2006
My little girl is growing up <sniff>. And it's really annoying...
Renee turned 11 today! But there will be no banner photo of the event, as she asked me not to. She said "Dad! Stop doing that! [taking pictures as she unwrapped presents] And don't put a picture up on your weblog!" (doesn't mean something might not show up on my Flickr account sooner or later, though...)
So what does an eleven year-old do? Well, she takes her first flute lesson, apparently. Jean took her to this august event earlier today. The teacher was trying to encourage Renee to blow harder by asking her if she ever got mad at her brother/sister. Renee said she didn't have one. Jean said, "you get mad at me sometimes..." and Renee blew real hard!
In the evening, we all went out to eat at Yeatsy's, an infrequent but favorite spot. Afterwards we went home to unwrap the presents, during which I snapped a few pics, much to Renee's annoyance. She got a 'know thyself' quiz book, which alternately charmed and enraged her. She also got a crystal growing kit, a butterfly ranch and Dance Dance Revolution for the XBox. I expect to get a report tomorrow on her experiences with that.
We postponed the inevitable birthday party until this weekend, so some of her friends could go with her to a local Laser Tag emporium. I'll report on that afterwards.
June 14, 2006
I Think That I Shall Never See
A tree as pretty as Jean! And yet, she pines for this tree, boughing before it's majesty. Anyway, she wants to plant one in our yard.
June 04, 2006
This time the banner image is from a few weeks ago. Renee's school put on their annual parent trap, er, musical performance, and I attended with camera. As always, my lenses were not really bright enough to stop the action, but I got a few that will give you the idea. Starting with Renee en regalia, marching toward the stage.
As I get around to it, I'll post the handful of salvageable images to my Flickr account. Keep watching the skies!
May 09, 2006
This post is for my own records. I get sinus infections now and then, and therein lies the problem. I think they occur maybe once a year, twice every three years...
So this time I'm noting it. Last Tuesday I took a course of antibiotics for a sinus infection that was being rather stubborn. Feeling mostly better now, but skeptical that it's really all gone. Cross your fingers.
April 16, 2006
One of the clues that Jean cooked up for the Easter treasure hunt was written in a faux 'rap' style of verse. Unfortunately, Renee is not all that 'hip to the jive', so she needed visual aids. Jean, with a little coaxing, was happy to oblige. The link is to the slideshow version of the photoset. I recommend setting the interval to around two or three seconds an image. That almost captures the timeframe of the actual performance. If you wish to linger, there is a photo set (for now).
In at least one photo, Jean is clearly on the edge of losing it. In others, she looks less like a dangerous rapper and more like a Popeye impersonator.
This image is not really from this weekend. Jean had a nursing shift Saturday and Sunday, so we celebrated Easter earlier in the week. Renee did the egg hunt, which I think is getting a little beneath her (she skipped Sunday School this weekend because it was primarily an Easter egg hunt "to give the little kids a chance -- I'm too good at it."). But she also does a customized puzzle-driven treasure hunt masterminded by her mother, who each year drafts a chain of clues, each leading to the next, until BOOM! Easter basket!
So I bring to you a snap of the not-so-little one applying her enormous brain to a clue, whilst lounging in the window box...
April 07, 2006
Salt the Earth
Follow the linky goodness to see pictures of ... wait for it ... dirt. We have had a ground-based deck behind our house for as long as we owned it. It came with the house, but we're not the backyard party 'n' barbeque types, so it sat idle. One summer we made a half-hearted attempt to waterproof the wood, but our long-term commitment was obviously lacking, so it eventually began to rot. So this week, we had it ripped out.
What'll go there now? Only Jean knows for sure. We're leaning away from edible crops, due to the danger of chemical leeching from the wood that was over it for so long. So decorative plants of some sort. Maybe by the end of the summer I'll be posting another picture... Or maybe sometime next year.
April 04, 2006
How's this for breaking my recent silence? Remember how I reported that Renee is getting her 'maturity' act together? You should, it was my last post!
So now, Renee has passed another milestone. She is now taller than her mother, by maybe 1/2".
We knew from the various rules of thumb for projected height of children that she'd be about midway between Jean's and my height. She's now begun that journey.
March 15, 2006
Last conference we had with Renee's teachers (actually Jean usually does these solo) we got bad news. She was hanging out exclusively with the boys in her class, and was excluded from the 'girly-girl' circles. She argued with her teachers, made faces, generally seemed to be having a hard time making the transition to the classical 'next stage'. What is worse, she was telling us everything was fine, just ducky folks. And of course, apparently unaware that we'd hear about it from her teachers...
So we sat her down and had a long talk. We've done that a number of times, and I was despairing of how to impress on her that she was building bad habits for life. This time, we talked earnestly, and I shared an anecdote from work.
It seems that a guy where I work, who is one of their top engineers, was as big of a jerk to everyone else as he was to me. He was combative, agressive and rude in almost every setting. Time passed, and I hadn't worked with him for several years. One day it became clear that I'd need to talk to him about some of his software, and I was quite reluctant to expose myself to such a prat. But I girded myself and went to see him. And he was nice! He was pleasant and helpful, took nearly two hours out of his day to try to nail down my problem. Not once was he in any way rude or snide. I just couldn't figure it out.
Anyway, much later, I was telling one of my work friends about it, and he shared this with me. It seems that the mystery guy was in a meeting with marketing and a couple of customers. When it was done, the marketing guy pulled him aside, and said, "you know, everyone thinks you're an ass." He was stunned. "Really?" He just didn't perceive his 'out front' style as insulting. The marketing guy laid it on the line, and told him that he could get so much more done if he'd just get his attitude under control.
Well, that explained what I had seen. He got this candid and unpleasant insight into how people saw him, and he decided to change it. And he acted.
So I told this story to Renee. I don't claim that this story was the main force for change. Jean also tried in a sincere and heartfelt way to impress on Renee that she was sabotaging her own life. Renee seemed to really listen (for a change). Then in the following days, Jean took Renee in hand, and they went shopping for 'girly-girl' clothes, and worked on hairstyles, and on and on.
Well, Jean got back from another teacher conference today (my excuse for not going this time is that I had a doctor's appointment), and the report was night and day. Renee scored at the extreme high end on state testing in literature, science and math. She has been regularly sitting with the 'girly-girls' during lunch. She talks with them, compliments them on their choice of clothes, and is even asking them out on movie dates. Her teachers were apparently near tears in their happiness with her transformation. She's not currently being combative, and doesn't roll her eyes when given a task she's not happy with. In short, she has remade herself.
So this evening, we entered collective bargaining with her to see what her reward would be. She's getting an extra half-hour on the computer (Neopets!!!) every Saturday and Sunday. Oh, and if her grades hold, a gameboy game.
March 05, 2006
Saturday was a NOVA night, and though Jean's parents were visiting, I just needed some time with my friends. I watched two episodes of Yakitate, excellent as usual, then hung out with Tom, Alan, Bo, Lisa, Chris and Valeska, ping-ponging around the conversations.
Over at the other end of the room, I saw a familiar face. Sam (Samantha) used to attend NOVA meetings several years ago, then disappeared. I was never really in her clique, but I did know her by name, enough to say hi, ask a question now and then, and generally be civil. But never did I know her well enough that my loud obnoxious side came out.
So here she was. I nodded to her, and returned my attention to the show. Later Paul had 'newbies' introduce themselves, and I pointed to her, saying don't forget the oldies. Turns out she's been in England for the last three years, and she was totally macking on the British Accent, London Standard. I gotta know if she's cranking it up on purpose, or if living in England for three years really did saturate her language centers.
In any case, she was there for half the meeting, and even came over and talked with a couple of people nearby. But I didn't once actually talk to her. In retrospect, I feel sort of bad. This is totally natural for me, to hang back when there are people I don't really know. But she comes back after three years, and drops by NOVA, of all places, to get in touch with her past, and there are very few faces from that past. I'm one, and I can't really bring myself to strike up a pleasant conversation.
In all likelihood, I'm overestimating how isolated she may have felt, and I doubt she was hankering to have a conversation with me. I just wish I'd been more civil, since after all, she wasn't a total stranger.
On the brighter side, Alan brought his D200, and while he and I were gabbing about it, cruising photo equipment websites and generally comparing features against the D70 (which I own), I mentioned that I'd read a post on a photography mailing list I subscribe to. In it, the poster responded to the question of why anyone would want to use the multiple exposure feature on the D2X. This poster explained that when one is in the field, say at a trade show, one can set up a tripod, and take multiple exposures of a static subject by moving a single flash around the subject, and generally successfully mimic a set of studio lights.
Well Alan just about hopped out of his seat. The D200 has this feature too, and he immediately started experimenting with it. He and I had both asked the same question, "why would anyone want the multiple exposure feature?" So we were both tickled pink with the explanation, and I especially was admiring the mind which said instead, "how can I use this new feature?"
I'm not particularly good with my camera, and I'm rather lazy about it, but times like this really excite me about the technology and the hobby. That was a very fun part of the evening.
March 04, 2006
Renee and her grandfather John Moyer enjoy a moment together with their new birdhouse, which they put together with a kit. There was a bit of debate over which of two birds were more common in our area, chickadees or nuthatches. But this picture convinced us that nuthatches were more prevalent.
February 26, 2006
Jean wasn't working this weekend, so I was able to hook up with Tom, Alan and James. Tom's card-playing friend was there when I arrived, but he left before we went out to eat. This is the first time I've eaten at the Racoon Lodge. I had a spicy pork sausage rigatoni, an IPA (India Pale Ale) and sweet potato fries. Yes, I'd eat there again.
The rest of the evening was given over to playing with Alan's new D200, and talking about all the usual geek topics like game consoles, display devices and crappy DRM. I hope I can get together with everyone again soon.
February 20, 2006
How I Spent My President's Day
Actually it's barely begun, but I kicked it off by getting a filling. This is the second visit, for a matching set, upper and lower. I don't remember doing it, but my dentist told me that I'd bitten down on something hard and cracked the enamel on two lower molars and one upper. So we did the lowers last Monday, with a plasticky epoxy sort of filling, and today we did the upper with a silver amalgam, that I can "take to the grave" as my dentist says.
I'll probably run some gear down to work, but otherwise, I think I'll cook up some chicken curry and wait for the numbness to go away.
January 22, 2006
While not quite approaching the sparcity of Hanson Kun, I have been remiss in posting of late. So herewith, a few brief tidbits of info:
- Last weekend I made cassoulet. Not quite the linked recipe, but you get the gist. As made, it was a bit too salty, but otherwise incredibly tasty. Jean, who is not nearly so big a soup fan as I am, voted it top marks. So it joins the list of standards.
I'd recently seen an episode of America's Test Kitchen where they demonstrated an easy-bake version of cassoulet, but when I went to their website, I discovered that the episode was a rerun from some earlier season, and was now behind their pay firewall. Fortunately, by an amazing coincidence, Jean's mom sent us a recipe for cassoulet that very same week. With some modifications, it became our new favorite!
- This was a NOVA weekend, but I was unable to attend, as Jean had a work shift that day. Next meeting is the first weekend of February, and the following is the third weekend. Depending on when Jean's every-other-weekend shifts work out, I may never get to go again! If not, I'll definitely be trying to arrange alternate weekend visits with my friends.
- That alternate weekend thing probably won't happen this time around, as Jean's parents are coming to visit on their way to Hawaii.
- Finally, I know I've been mentioning Magna Carta, and how I've been unable to work up the momentum to play it. Now it applies double. I was down at work with Renee this morning, and we stopped by Gamestop just to browse, and they had a copy of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, a game I've been looking for for months. So I bought it, and I've been goofing with it part of today. Don't know which game will win my minimal game-playing cycles, but for now, it's Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.
January 15, 2006
My External Memory
I was wondering what time it was when I had my last cold, since I'm wrestling with one right now. A quick search of my weblog reveals that it was around the end of October, running into November. I'd never have been able to pin it down that closely without some sort of journal, but at least I could have made myself believe it had been longer than two and a half months between annoying respiratory maladies! It's not uncommon for me to get two colds over the winter, but still...
December 29, 2005
How I Spent My Winter Vacation
While I have certainly managed to go see a few movies (about which I'll talk in a separate post), and I did have some fun cooking (already mentioned), I don't seem to have managed to fire up my new games once yet. Why?
Well, I've already mentioned that I'm studying Flex and Bison. Just as a matter of scale, the Bison manual is 142 pages long. Somewhat more challenging is What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating Point Arithmetic (1991), a 93 page treatise on machine representation of real numbers. What exactly I am reading it for I won't go into, suffice to say there are unnamed individuals who think that real numbers should be representable exactly in the computer, I mean, what's the big deal, right?
The other distraction is of course family. I've been enjoying time with Jean and Renee, doing the Christmas thing, going to a movie together, playing games (chess and mancala, not video), and just generally hanging out.
Since I elected to use my recreational time to see those movies (and hope to squeeze a couple more in before returning to work), those games will have to wait!
December 25, 2005
To Play, or Not to Play
I've 'officially' had two new videogames and an old favorite video in my hands since this morning. But did I play them? Nah. I spent the bulk of the day cooking, reading Flex documentation and writing sample Flex specs to test my understanding. When I wasn't doing that, I was herding Renee, trying to keep her from melting into a puddle training virtual dogs to go on the virtual paper. This is not to say that I didn't play at all. The cooking was mostly fun. I need to make Kelly do more of my pot washing, that's all.
Whither Magna Carta? Perhaps tomorrow?
We got up this morning and emptied our stockings. I'm not going to do a laundry list of every little thing; suffice to say that there were many cute trinkets, and I got a bundle of cash. I really wasn't expecting that, as I had asked for (and received) a food processor this Christmas. Still, Jean surprises me, and leaves me feeling guilty as well. I got her some presents, but didn't go that extra mile this year. Must think of something...
Anyway, this year is somewhat non-routine. Jean is working as a nurse, and she's pulled shifts over the holiday. She worked yesterday, and Renee and I used the time to finish wrapping presents, among all the grocering and other chores. I did the prep work for a dish I'm making today, chicken pot pie. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Jean has another shift today. She's leaving for work in an hour. So we decided to save the sub-tree presents for when she returns this evening. I'll probably spend the day cooking, studying Flex and Bison for a work project, and playing Magna Carta, my stocking stuffer to myself...
I'll hold off on posting pictures until the tree gifts have been shredded. Later!
December 19, 2005
I'm too lazy to set up a proper backdrop, but you should be able to figure out the general color scheme of this present from Valeska to Renee, hand crafted with skill and loving care. Thanks, Valeska!
November 12, 2005
So Jean is coming down with a cold now. It's an entirely different prodrome from mine, but she insists it's the same virus, just a different variety. I said it's the same variety, just a different flavor!
Anyway, day fourteen and counting for me, but I'm feeling a lot better. If the full-blown cold, raging at force ten, happened around ten days ago, I'm probably suffering from mild gusts of wind now, around force three. If I don't relapse, I hope to begin working out at the gym on Monday or Wednesday. Wish me luck.
October 31, 2005
Pictured is the pumpkin that Renee and I gutted on Saturday. We put it on the porch to signal our participation in the holiday. Then we promptly went out ourselves to collect ill gotten booty. For a hint of the majesty of Renee's costume, visit my Flickr account...
It was warmer than last year, and drier than the year before. If only I had not had this nasty cold. I was sucking on cough drops the whole time we were out there. Definitely takes some of the fun out of the holiday. I barely managed to get this trickle of photos up before running out of steam. So to wrap this post up, Halloween 2005 was a success, even with coughing. Take that, viral evil!
September 21, 2005
More Songs About Buildings and Avoiding People
Occasionally I read some epistle on the web bemoaning how technology is alienating us all. One example, the coffee shop that has shut down wi-fi on weekends because too many people were staring at their laptops instead of chatting with each other. Another is the now frequent charge that people using iPods to listen to music in public spaces are antisocial.
Guess what, folks? We were antisocial before the gadgets came along. I hate, hate, being at some public function, where I am sitting quietly enjoying the people watching, only to be approached by some nit who decides to 'rescue' me from my isolation by trying to rope me into some banal conversation. I would use my iPod as a buffer everywhere, except that even I sometimes think it would be inappropriate.
Sitting on a bench outside Renee's school, waiting for a ride, is not one of those occasions, though. I was able to relax and decompress to the soothing sound of Maaya Sakamoto on her singles collection, Hotchpotch. It reminded me of all those times I was standing at the bus stop in Akron, Ohio, listening to Camper van Beethoven on my portable casette player. Of course, then I thrashed about with the music, which served as an even better buffer to human interaction than the headphones.
This evening was a Parent's Night at Renee's school, where you meet your child's teacher(s) and get the buzz on how they do the things they do in the coming school year. It started around 7:20pm, Jean dropped me off at 7:15. She and Renee went back home since it was ostensibly just for parents (how's that supposed to work, if both parents want to come?). I found Renee's desk, and sat down, looking over her textbooks, scoping out the wall decorations, and finally, playing PalmJongg until the other parents settled in and the talk began.
Now understand, by 7pm I'm generally pretty done. My day is over, I'm pondering the day's events, kidding with my wife, and unwinding, in preparation for the next day. So I'm pretty toasted, and endeavoring to take a note now and then when some point comes up that seems important and is not on the preprinted outline, is a major effort. When Mrs. Houtz asks if there are any questions, I'm thinking "no, let's all go home now", but of course there are several questions, none of which interest me. I sit silently, pencil in hand, trying to look engaged.
Finally, it was over, and I'm making my way out of the room, thinking only of calling Jean to come pick me up again. Out of my peripheral vision comes Renee's other teacher, Mrs. Kronsub, hand extended. "Nice to meet you," she says. I reach out, grasp her hand, try to smile, mumble something, then turn around and continue walking. It's really only now that it occurs to me that she may actually have wanted to engage in some sort of social chit-chat. Oops.
So those of you who know me and are secretly wondering if I ever shut up, this is an example of how I always behave around people I don't know. Mr. Introvert. The Invisible Parent.
September 13, 2005
Jean got an offer for a nursing job today! She starts training next Monday. Her shifts will be three days a week, every other week, for starters. Sounds like an interesting if busy place, and she'll be able to practice a variety of skills. I'm very happy for her!
September 12, 2005
We followed all the advice given by the veterinarian, including a quarantine in the laundry room with her litter box for two days. When she was released, she was loving and needy, but within hours I found another piddle puddle on the futon. So now she's back at the no-kill shelter, and there's a smelly futon in the garage.
I'm gonna miss Taylor, but it's plain we're not equipped for a cat anymore.
September 08, 2005
Jean and I celebrate 21 years of marriage today. She's already asleep, Renee is in bed pretending to be, and I'll be retiring soon. How's that for romance? In reality, we'll be dining out Saturday or Sunday, when work and school make no demands of us. So for the record, I'm very happy that I'm still married to Jean, and I hope like hell to get another 21 years out of this relationship.
September 07, 2005
Taylor on Trial
Not quite three months into her tenure with us, Taylor has begun urinating outside her litter box. She seems to choose cushions and comforters, and so far we only have two locations. But this will not be acceptable. We knew it was a risk with a declawed cat, and now we're trying to see if we can train her out of it (unlikely, I suspect). She had a visit to the vet and he gave us some antibiotics in case it was a bladder infection. He also gave us some chemicals to kill the cat urine smell. Jean says we'll go all the way to the stage where we give her medication for anxiety, and if that doesn't work, it's goodbye Taylor.
Renee will surely be crushed, and I'd miss Taylor too, but we're not really the type of family that can comfortably live in a house drenched in cat pee. Wish us luck.
August 16, 2005
Jean tells me Renee (formerly Kelly, change one) now needs glasses (change two). They'll arrive in the next few days. Pretty soon, I'll come home to a daughter named Renee, wearing glasses, with raven hair and a trained parrot on her shoulder!
August 13, 2005
The Rotary Twelve
It's just a coincidence (I think) that there are twelve people in this photograph. Rotary 12 refers to the cabin where Kelly was bunked while she spent a week at Camp Collins. She's back, and it is in this posting that I initiate her new identity. Her full name is Kelly Renee Wakefield. At camp, she chose her camp nickname to be Renee. I'm told that this is the name she identifies with most. I've agreed to try to remember to call her Renee whenever I speak to her. So far I'm batting maybe .600.
Today's banner is my scan of the 3"X5" snapshot they took of Renee's cabin mates. Counting the councilor, that comes to twelve warm bodies. Bet it got uncomfortable in those bunk beds. Still, better than a sleeping bag on the ground, which is what we had to do in my day! [queue old geezer music...]
And yes, they are wearing face paint. And I'm told there was a pony...
August 11, 2005
Jean and I did what was probably our final date before Kelly returns from camp Saturday. We went over the the Sweetbrier Inn, where my Dad and Bette stayed, and sat in the Jazz Bar. Jean ordered nachos (only so-so) and a non-alcoholic Margarita. I saw that they had Balvenie Scotch, so I ordered a glass. This was the basic Founder's Reserve 10 year old scotch. In September, Tom is going to buy a bottle of the Balvenie Portwood, and circumstances allowing, I'll be there to taste it. So now I know what a basic unflavored scotch from Balvenie tastes like. I should be able to tell whether aging in a used port cask makes the scotch sweeter, fruitier, or is indistinguishable. I'll update you when I know.
August 07, 2005
Kelly is now safely ensconced at Camp Collins. We dropped her off this afternoon. Jean is uneasy, and sleeping with the phone next to the bed tonight. I'm of course the reckless male, comfortable that the odds are on my side. I'm not oblivious, mind you. I just know that Camp Collins has a good record for child safety, and there are a lot of kids there, many of whom are more risk-taking than Kelly. So when the phone rings, it most likely will not be for us.
In the meantime, it's my job to keep Jean occupied so that her motherly concerns don't gnaw at her too much. Of course, that's hard when I'm at work all day. But we are taking a day off this week to go to the Portland Art Museum and the Lavender Tea House. I'm hoping to convince her to make the trek one evening to Cinetopia, but as it's all the way up in Vancouver, Washington, I don't hold out much hope. Then there's the Jazz Bar at the Sweet Brier Inn, where my Dad and Bette were staying last week. Care to dance, Jean?
August 03, 2005
Travel Never Ends
Last night Jean and I picked out a hotel in Seattle for our long-weekend jaunt, scheduled to begin soon. She wants to scope out the downtown area for activities and hotels to use come the next Moyer family reunion, which she is hosting next summer. We waited too long to have much of a choice of rooms for this trip, but we'll still be able to look at hotels while we're there. We're going to be staying at the Red Lion on Fifth Avenue.
A funny coincidence: I was on the web this morning looking into resources on British Tea Rooms in the area. Tom is having a get together with several of his friends from up North next weekend (oops, I mean early September!), and wanted to include a trip to a teahouse. Since Jean and I had been to a couple of good British ones, I wanted to recommend them as alternatives to the Chinese one he was thinking of, or the Japanese one Alan mentioned. In the course of researching this, I saw mention of many 'British Culture' establishments, and one was mentioned quite fondly by a reviewer: the Elephant and Castle pub. It's location? Inside the Red Lion on Fifth Avenue! So I know one restaurant we'll be researching!
And just for the record:
British Tea Garden
725 SW 10th Avenue
I got a call from my Dad this evening. He and Bette are both back safe in Michigan, done with their train trip. I expect they'll be packing out in their van sometime soon, but they seemed to enjoy their experiment with the rails.
August 01, 2005
Back to Routine
We had a nice visit with my Dad and Bette, but all good things must come to an end. I drove them back to the train station, and they are now rolling their way to Minneapolis. Good luck to 'em!
We ate out far too often. I told Jean that I'd like to try more new restaurants that we haven't eaten at before, just not all at once. So other than the occasional post-NOVA foray, it's back to home cooking for awhile!
I think one or two more of the pictures I took may be worth posting. I'll try to get them up on Flickr in the next few days...
I wasn't really happy with most of the indoor shots, so I just put up a couple more from the outdoor series (at Flicker). As usual, I was pretty lazy about taking photographs, so you only get a few, sorry.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:58 PM
July 30, 2005
Yesterday I travelled to NW Portland to meet my Dad and Betty at Union Station, a historical landmark of a train station. Parking is pretty sparse immediately next to the station, but I lucked out and found a streetside slot opposite the entrance, with ten minutes to spare before their scheduled arrival. The train ran about five minutes late (sorry Mussolini), but given the recent performance of the airlines, this is trivial.
We took an hour to get back to Tualatin, then after checking them into their hotel, we sat and talked for awhile about how my father lived in Tualatin as a kid. He had an afterschool job as a caddy at the Tualatin Golf Course! Then it was off to find a place to eat. We did the Tualatin Outback restaurant, a place Jean and I have never eaten at despite living in Tualatin for several years. Food was pretty good, but way too much, too late in the day. We dropped the folks off and retired.
Now I'm just waiting to contact them before starting the day. Plans include the Beaverton Farmers Market and grocering, but as for what next, who knows? I don't know when I'll post next, be patient...
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:31 AM
July 06, 2005
While everybody I know pretty much knows this by now, I'll make it official. Jean took her NCLEX test last Wednesday, and found out the following day that she'd passed! In all the confusion of my trip, I forgot to write an entry informing my scant readership. So it's official. Jean is a recognized professional nurse.
Jean, I thank you for all the hard work you've put in, and I'm immensely proud of you!
July 05, 2005
Did the parks. It's pretty much as you'd expect. Only new thing for me was the Indiana Jones ride, but that was not so special. More fun was the fact that Space Mountain was open! It was in stealth mode, in that the Disney website listed it as closed for renovation, and they were not advertising it in the park. You just had to show up at the ride, and they let you line up. We only got to ride once, since when we came back during the evening, it was closed 'due to technical difficulties'. So we were on their shakedown cruise! Talking to the ride operators, we were told that the official date is supposed to be the 15th.
Dinner was at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, and that was excellent. My meal, from the menu:
Paneed Chicken and Crawfish Cream
"Thinly pounded chicken breast dusted in breadcrumbs, herbs and parmesan cheese, paneed and served with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a Lousiana crawfish cream sauce"
June 29, 2005
Zippy the Pinhead
Last weekend, Alan took a picture of me using his 17mm Sigma, which if you didn't know, is a very wide angle lens. He was right next to me, man! Hence the pinhead distortion. Okay, yes, I have a prominent sagittal crest, but it's not that pointy!
Anyway, you can see how excited I am to be going to Expo this year!
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:38 PM
June 19, 2005
Monday is Kelly's birthday. She'll be ten years old. So what to get her? In addition to the usual pile of wrapped gifts, we decided to get her something wrapped in fur.
So Saturday we piled into the car and drove to C.A.T., or 'the Cat Adoption Team'. It's normally a short drive, under ten minutes. But of course this day, there was an accident blocking our route, and we ended up taking a detour that ran us over ninety minutes. Finally we arrived. The C.A.T. building filled with the aroma of cats. They house around 200 cats at any one time, and my allergies began kicking up almost immediately. We visited with three cats, and took our time getting a feeling for one that would fit in at home. In all, we were there around three hours. We took home a black, one-year old female cat named Taylor.
She's been isolated in the laundry room for twenty-four hours (with frequent visits from Kelly). Tonight we allowed her to roam the house, and Kelly just put her back in the laundry room. Tomorrow she'll get still more time out in the house. Eventually she'll get the run of the place. For now she's visiting on a trial basis. We're watching for two weeks to see if Kelly really takes care of her.
So I am once again a cat owner. Sneeze!
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:08 PM
June 12, 2005
Chuck E. Cheese's
Kelly will be 10 on June 20th. But by then, all her friends will be on their Summer vacations. So we decided to throw a birthday party for her this weekend, to give her friends a chance to see her one more time. We invited 13 kids, and seven showed up, which I think is pretty good given the usual track record around here. The party was at Chuck E. Cheese's, and was the usual chaotic mess. There are no neat anecdotes to relate, so I'll just point you to the Flickr photo set of the party.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:35 PM
Pinning Ceremony Snaps
Well, it took me a couple of days, but I finally put up the snapshots of Jean's Nursing School pinning cerremony. As you can see, there are in fact quite a few people there.
Like all commencement ceremonies, there were many speeches, and some folks felt they had more to say than others. Kelly was about as patient as you could expect. She asked me a few times how long we'd been there, and I finally just started showing her my watch. Since it's stuck on 'military' time, she had to do some subtraction in her head to get the 'real' time. She was peeved at that.
You'll see a picture of a woman at the podium who was reading the personal statements of each nurse as she was pinned. I'm very thankful that she encouraged us to come up and take photographs up close, or I would not have gotten the nicer pictures toward the end of this set.
Once the ceremony was over, we drove home. Jean ordered a pizza, which I picked up, and we settled in for a party. We went downstairs and ate pizza and German Forest cake, while playing Burnout Takedown, a crash and burn car racing game. Kelly is nuts for this game, especially the part where you actually try to score points for causing a mulitcar wreck in an intersection. At the end of the collisions, you get a flyby of the damage, complete with floating dollar-damage signs.
Around 7:30, things were winding down, and Jean, ever the sweetheart, asked me if I wanted to go catch the last of this NOVA meeting. Of course I took her up on it. I got to see Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex (my favorite anime) and work out more plans for my trip to Anime Expo this year. So all in all, Saturday was a busy day.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:21 PM
June 07, 2005
Three cheers for Jean! She got her results from today's exam, and she got an A! So now she is officially a graduate. Next step is the NCLEX, but she's covered a tremendous amount of ground, and I'm massively proud of her. And awed. Thanks for all the immense effort, Jean.
Saturday will see her 'pinned'. This is the official ceremony ushering her across the threshhold into a new career. Afterwards we'll be celebrating, Jean, Kelly and I. I think I heard the word 'cake' in there somewhere.
Posted by dpwakefield at 06:50 PM
I had my first eye exam since Fall of 2003 today. Right now my vision is sort of fuzzy due to dilating drops. Driving home was sort of fun. So I'll be working from home for the next few hours, and I thought I would take a moment to write up the exam.
My eyesight has indeed changed with age. I now have 20/20 vision uncorrected. Dr. Lindquist says that while I could benefit from reading glasses in the late evening, they don't make them weak enough for me (0.75)! So good vision. He looked really carefully at my retinas, and says I have healthy neural distribution and rich strong arterial development. His verdict, "don't worry about your eyes for at least the next few years." So it's nice to put that aside for another couple years.
Posted by dpwakefield at 10:59 AM
May 21, 2005
I should have gotten photos of ChaCha sooner, but I'm lazy. Currently in the banner you can see the new toy animal Kelly has. There is a set of images available at my Flickr account as well.
What sets this toy animal apart from most of Kelly's possessions is that she made this one herself. She's been taking a crochet class at school, and she used her knowledge of the basics (how to make a square, how to make a tube) to create the geometric units that went into this animal. Then she simply drew a couple of pictures and eyeballed her way to this cute little toy. The stuffing is composed of small squares of fabric she painstakingly trimmed out of old shirts I was going to give to Goodwill. So there you have it, a true masterpiece!
Posted by dpwakefield at 03:43 PM
May 15, 2005
The ultimate humiliation: going to bed feeling fine, and waking up with a wrenched back!
April 24, 2005
Ready to Flee the Country
My passport photo, then and now. True, the new 'foil Eagle' watermark sort of obscures my current picture, but you should be able to pick out the salient changes in my features.
A larger version is available at my Flickr account.
The mildly amusing part is that while I've had a passport for the last ten years, I've never used it. Ever. I was almost afraid that they'd refuse to renew my passport because I hadn't used it enough. Of course, my original justification for getting a passport was not to travel, but to have two pieces of photo identification for my GRE exam. Strange, huh?
April 21, 2005
For those of you keeping score:
Kelly seems to be fully recovered, not even coughing. Last night she 'forced' me to play Shadow Hearts for nearly an hour, taking her shower and brushing her teeth early to clear the way. So her energy and plotting skills are back to peak!
Jean completed her full twelve hour shift walking the floor with a nurse on Tuesday, and Wednesday showed no ill effects. We both have our fingers crossed for her.
I have pretty much said goodbye to my nasty cold. Except for a couple of days of disturbing 'tight' stomach sensations, I seem to have dodged the gastroenteritits bullet. Fingers crossed and all that, but so far...
I saw Dr. Selby yesterday following up on recurrent issues and getting a blood draw for my annual physical. He seemed utterly tickled that I knew to use the term gastroenteritis, and not the misnomer 'stomach flu'. Pays to have a nurse-in-training in the home!
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:39 AM
April 20, 2005
I know who to suck up to, and she is suck-up-to-able.
Anonymous, to protect the innocent...
Posted by dpwakefield at 01:31 PM
April 16, 2005
The Hit Parade
First Kelly with walking pneumonia, then my nasty cold. Now Jean has a virus. Gastroenteritis. She was up all night being sick. I'll do the groceries, but otherwise avoid rubbing shoulders with my fellow man, in case I'm brewing a batch myself. Jean says it's highly contagious, so that's likely. So no NOVA tonight, I'm afraid. Sorry guys.
Posted by dpwakefield at 10:22 AM
April 13, 2005
This poster is pretty cool, and part of the heartbreaking workload Jean has to endure while working toward her nursing degree!
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:42 PM
April 12, 2005
Back to My Roots
This afternoon I returned to Dr. Lampert's office for a three month checkup on the root canal he performed. He was concerned that the bone surrounding the root had been eroded by bacteria, and wanted to see it after some time had passed. I was very nervous, worried that he'd see further damage and need to do 'something'. He took a pair of x-rays and gave me the verdict.
Unfortunately, the most he was prepared to say was that things had not gotten worse. This is exactly what he hoped for. Apparently, three months is not long enough to see if bone is regrowing in the damaged area. The purpose of this visit was to observe that the damage was arrested. I'm to visit him again in three months, and yet again three months after that. Only then will I know what the verdict is. Fun, huh?
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:12 PM
April 10, 2005
Here's a first. I got an email from my longtime penpal, Nami Okamoto! She's pointed me to her email addresses in the past, but I don't think she spends much time on computers, as I never seem to get replies to any email I send her. So imagine my shock when I open my Gmail page today and see an email from her. It's Summer in Japan! Or anyway, it's a sneaky Summer preview in Fukuoka, where she lives. She gave the temperature in Celcius, but it works out to around 77 degrees. I do love that first hand weather report from foreign lands. Good to hear from her in 'real time'.
Posted by dpwakefield at 10:04 AM
So Kelly seems more or less completely recovered from her walking pneumonia, no fever, very little coughing. As seems appropriate, however, I came down with a nasty cold around the middle of the week which I'd trace directly to her. Now it's Sunday, and I feel as if I'm on the mend. I've got my fingers crossed, since my typical pattern is to bounce back and forth between the sinuses and the lungs a few times before fully recovering. But I feel a little less beat down today than I did yesterday, so I may actually do a few of my weekend chores.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:57 AM
April 01, 2005
Just when we thought we were over Kelly's illness, it sprang back. Jean called me at work to check what Kelly's temperature had been this morning. It was normal, and I sent her off to school. But she got home and had a meltdown, and her fever was back. I came home early to go with them to Kelly's doctor. Turns out she has walking pneumonia. According to Dr. Hoffman, it responds well to Zithromax, which is why it beat off the effects of Amoxycillin and made a comeback. So Kelly's on Zithromax now; the regimen is three doses over three days, and then the antibiotic lingers in her body for around ten days, killing off nasty bugs. I've got my fingers vigorously crossed this time.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:49 PM
March 29, 2005
Yesterday and today Kelly's been home sick with a fever, coughing and generally feeling miserable. I have stayed home with her in the morning, working late to compensate while Jean spent the latter part of the day with her. I was going to take her to the doctor tomorrow if her fever hadn't broken, but Jean took her today. She had a cold, and got an ear infection as a result, which was causing the fever. They prescribed amoxycillin, she's had two doses, and her fever is dropping. I'm quite relieved.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:41 PM
March 27, 2005
So Kelly once again partook of the homestead ritual, searching for eggs so that we wouldn't have to suffer the odor of orphaned ova in the coming days. She also got to do a treasure hunt, deciphering clues in verse supplied by her own esteemed mother. Here she is after a particularly satisfying discovery.
More candid snaps are available at my Flickr account. Just follow the 'next' links...
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:01 PM
March 18, 2005
A Little Song, A Little Dance...
Yesterday evening was Kelly's annual school musical production. Typically, it lasts about an hour, and has a theme of sorts. This year was Go America, or something like that. I don't know if they buy these programs prepackaged or if they write them themselves, but they are generally pretty cloying. Anyway, Kelly didn't have a speaking part, and her singing was limited to the chorus. She did get a walk-on part as a runway model, and looked quite cute.
I took my camera, and snapped a few pictures, which I'll try to get online in a day or two. I used the kit lens since it is a few stops brighter than my Sigma. Unfortunately, it's about one quarter the zoom length of the Sigma, so Kelly will tend to be 'tiny'. But even with the somewhat brighter lens, my auto-ISO was hitting 1600, so say tiny and noisy. Well, you get what you pay for, and I didn't pay for prime telephoto lenses, lacking the six or eight thousand dollars.
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:30 PM
March 13, 2005
It's practically summer here. It was, I dunno, sixty five degrees out, with bright sunshine and a mild cool breeze yesterday. I'd already done a bunch of my weekend chores, so I went into the garage, pumped up the tires on my bike, lubed the chain, cleaned the water bottle, and took it out for a spin. I don't like riding on wet roads or in serious cold, so this is the first time for me since last fall. I didn't push myself, instead taking a ride of random turns, discovering (literally) new roads, out by Ibach Park. I even discovered a new garden store, ensconced among trees, with grand opening banners fluttering at the roadside. I didn't bike in, I was enjoying my ride too much, but I'll note for later that it's The Garden Corner.
The routine continued. I got home, put together my food and miscellaneous items for the work week, and drove them down to my office. After working awhile, I arrived home to the smell of apple pie. I grabbed a glass of water, tapped the keyboard of the kitchen computer to check the email, turned around to look at something, I don't even remember what. Because there on the screen, in the list of new emails, was an email from my sister. Title: Dad is in the hospital. I remembered the day my Dad had called my house and told me my Mom had died. My heart jumped, and I sat down immediately to read the email. He had burning pain in his chest, went to the hospital, is on meds. A phone number.
So I called him up. The time between the arrival of the email, 6:09pm and the time I read it, about 6:25pm. Just sheer coincidence that I read it so soon. So the phone rings, I get put through to his room. The short story is that he seems in good spirits, though bored. He has to sit in the hospital room, deal with all the business of nurses coming and going, making it difficult to sleep. He is on an IV of nitroglycerin and heperin, and won't be seeing the specialist until Monday, when he will probably get an angiogram. Depending on the results, he may get a stent. I'll call him again today to try to break up the monotony for him somewhat.
This is one great cosmic joke, as he had only last week broke the news to me that he and his wife Betty were thinking about taking an Amtrak tour of the West which would include a stopover here in Oregon. I was all excited about that, and now this. Of course, my sister Brenda's husband Ted has had heart surgery, my father-in-law has had two stents, my brother-in-law Tom has had four bypasses, so nowadays heart surgery can be practically an outpatient procedure. I still hope to see Dad this summer. It's just a little bit of a shock.
More news as I learn it. And thanks, Brenda, for letting me know so soon, along with the contact number.
I got email from Brenda (my sister), and spoke with my Dad after work, before taking Kelly to her dance class (tonight, Monday). He isn't discharged yet, but he's had his angiogram. One vessel is 20% to 30% occluded, but they don't want to put in a stent. Instead they are changing his prescriptions, and I think reviewing diet and exercise habits. He seemed to think this was not too big a deal, but I still want to encourage him to take action where he has control (diet and exercise). I'll try talking to him again on Sunday.
February 26, 2005
Now that it's Saturday, I should probably write about what I did on Monday.
As it was a holiday, Kelly had no school, and fortunately my work recognizes President's Day, as Jean had clinicals and couldn't be home. So I stayed home with Kelly. We worked a bit on her school projects (a mystery novel report, and a diorama involving red foxes). I gave Kelly a choice of movies to see and she jumped on Son of the Mask. My, was this a bad movie. The original, with Jim Carrey, was a lot of fun, but Jamie Kennedy has no charisma to speak of, and just couldn't carry it off.
That night, I was tucking Kelly in to bed, and she asked me "did you enjoy the movie, Dad?"
"I really enjoyed seeing the movie with you, Kelly."
(Kelly, not buying it...) "But did you enjoy the movie, Dad?"
So I told her that I enjoyed some parts, with the 'baby mask' and the 'dog mask', but that 'daddy mask' was lame, compared to Jim Carrey. She seemed to accept this.
It's getting tough, when I can't deflect an awkward question with carefully phrased misdirection. Pity me!
January 30, 2005
Valley of the Dolls
This is Petal, so named for her floral print dress.
We started with a fabric homunculus bought at the crafts store. Then Kelly and I sewed her outfit together, and we sewed a wig out of prepackaged hair. This is, I suppose, a representation of Laura Ingalls Wilder, since Kelly is doing her book report on a biography of that worthy.
But in the end, this looks less like a character from Little House on the Prairie, and more like someone you might see playing shuffleboard on a cruise ship. Still, I had fun making it with Kelly, even if tempers ran thin now and then.
Posted by dpwakefield at 06:59 PM
January 23, 2005
Kelly and I attacked her prairie dress project today, in earnest. We did the bodice, or upper part of the dress. Lacking a functional sewing machine, all sewing was done by hand. So all our stitches look like basting stitches, and I don't hold out much hope for the thing holding together longer than it takes to do the show and tell.
Even though this is a Simplicity pattern, I had to read the directions several times to figure things out, and we still have some exposed seams, and one reversed piece of fabric. I'm hoping the skirt portion goes a little more smoothly.
As for the bonnet, I'm hoping Kelly will lose interest before we get there!
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:18 PM
January 20, 2005
The Downward Spiral
Back from the Endodontist, Dr. Lampert. The left side of my face is numb and puffy. Haven't had time for the novocaine to wear off and let me feel the soreness.
Dr. Lampert tells me that the shadow on the x-ray is not my damaged root, but rather bone loss next to the tooth. Bacteria in the dying nerve were leaking out into the surrounding tissue, and overrunning my immune system. So he wants to see me in three months to make sure that, now that the bacterial source is removed, my body is able to get a leg up and start rebuilding that bone.
So in addition to having to see my regular dentist to get the permanent filling on top of the root canal, I now have to wait months to find out if my final prognosis is good. Needless to say, i am a tad vexed.
Posted by dpwakefield at 04:37 PM
January 18, 2005
Today's banner illustrates why you should never be honest with your dentist. I told my hygienist that I had been experiencing some aching in my upper teeth, and she took an xray. "I don't see anything, maybe it's sinus pressure."
Then Dr. Kierkegaarde came and took a look. "Oh, my. Look at that. Look at that! Tsk, tsk." To the trained eye, there is a shadow on the root of one of the teeth in this image. See if you can find it...
Dr. Kierkegaarde doesn't want to guess, but she unfortunately mentioned internal root resorption as a possibility, which sounds nastier than a root canal, one of which I've had in my life. She asked me if I'd had a bump in the face recently, perhaps playing with a child. Quite likely, given how Kelly and I play. I hope this turns out to be an inflammation, or at worst a regular root canal.
I've got to call some guy in downtown Portland for an appointment. We'll see.
I spoke with a receptionist, and told her the tooth number and Dr. Kierkegaarde's diagnosis, and she used the words 'root canal', so I'm at least back in familiar territory, i.e. I'm not worried that they'll actually jerk the tooth. I had a root canal done a few years ago, and while I didn't enjoy it, I got to keep the tooth.
That could change of course, but I had a lot of probably unnecessary anxiety after following that dental school link above...
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:33 PM
January 09, 2005
Or not. Today Kelly and I embarked on the first steps in her project to supplement her book report on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder with a doll in a hand-sewn prairie dress. Clever lad that I am, I suggested that we start with the bonnet, which would surely be simpler than a dress, and let us earn our chops before starting on something more complex.
However, the directions were cryptic, the pattern was larger in it's smallest choice than the head of our doll, and I spent the afternoon scanning patterns into Photoshop and scaling them down to 50% of the original. Finally, I swallowed my pride and asked Jean if she had any insight into the pattern we were trying to decipher. After much discussion, her verdict was Simplicity itself. That is, "what you should have done is use Simplicity patterns. They're much easier to use."
Turns out the bonnet pattern, by a company called Burda, was intended for advanced users. So simply limiting myself to a mere hat wasn't gonna make this a cakewalk. I have yet to look at the dress pattern, but have at least some mild hope of an improved understanding.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:04 PM
January 02, 2005
Kelly's Next Project
And so, to a certain measure, my next project...
Kelly read a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder for her January reading project. In addition to writing a book report, she's got to do some sort of project to bring the book alive. She's decided that she's going to hand sew a prairie dress and bonnet for a fabric doll.
So today we ventured out to Jo-Ann Fabrics, where we searched patterns, looked at bolts of cloth, and stood in two diffferent lines, one to have the cloth cut off the bolt, and the other to pay. I don't plan to do any of the sewing, but I expect I'll be helping with the pattern cutting. Stay tuned for updates!
Posted by dpwakefield at 06:57 PM
December 27, 2004
Yes, it is a real word. Kelly watched most of Mary Poppins last night and was singing the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious doggerel, so I decided to share a 'real word' with her. Took her til today to pronounce it correctly. "Now, you must learn it's meaning!"
Posted by dpwakefield at 04:52 PM
December 24, 2004
Now There's Something You Don't See Everyday
Me without a beard! Don't worry, it'll grow back. We just wanted to see what I looked like without one after wearing one for over twenty years.
I should scan in some of my wedding pictures. I didn't have a beard then, in fact that was the last time I was without a beard. Coincidence? I think not!
Okay, it's like a week later, but I finally got off my butt and processed the photos I took at Kelly's church, where she participated in the yearly Christmas performance. Public photos, at Flickr, as usual...
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:35 AM
December 17, 2004
So I'm officially no longer middle aged. I'm late middle aged.
Only a few days ago, some Gen Y clerk offered me the senior discount. I graciously corrected him.
Today, I went to visit Dr. Selby to see if he could do anything about some painful welts I had on my back and side. He stepped in and said "so you have some sort of rash? Lift up your shirt and let's have a look."
So I barely get the shirt above my ribs and he says "that's shingles."
Yes, just like that. Quickest diagnosis in my life. So I'm taking Acyclovir to block replication of the virus, and Dr. Selby swears that I should see dramatic improvement in five days (good thing too, as the prescription runs out in seven).
So just like that, I get the one two punch. See you in the managed care apartments.
Posted by dpwakefield at 10:12 PM
November 29, 2004
Off this Monday, just lazing about. This morning I finally got the kitchen computer (Jean's machine) fully restored. Feels good. I spent the better part of the four day holiday attempting to rescue the original disk, and when that clearly wasn't possible, running the computer to the Apple Store in the mall for a replacement disk. Now it has a slightly faster (5400 rpm, versus 4400 rpm), somewhat roomier (30 GB versus the original 20 GB) disk drive, and all of Jean's applications are installed. All her data too, thanks to a CD backup and my nearly failed hard drive mirror. All that's missing, and that's still admittedly a lot, are the various bookmarks and preferences.
I plan to let it cycle for a week or more, maybe even to the Christmas holiday, then I'll try to make a complete clone image onto the backup drive.
So once I was satisfied with the state of the machine this morning, I exercised, then spent the rest of the morning watching bad scifi movies while nibbling a fish lunch. I may even spend a little time playing Shadow Hearts this afternoon. So I get some holiday time after all!
Oh, and Kelly's diorama got finished this weekend too. It looks quite nice. It ought to, considering that Jean and I have been helping her work on it for two weeks now.
Posted by dpwakefield at 02:08 PM
November 25, 2004
I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving is having a fun holiday. We celebrated in the traditional manner, making more food than we could comfortably eat. I ate to the edge of discomfort, then took two steps over.
Jean made homemade cranberry sauce, the Turkey and apple pie (with Kelly's help). I made my favorite tofu chili, mashed sweet potatoes and a pumpkin pie (with homemade whipped cream). We'll be eating leftovers for several days. In addition, I'm thinking seriously about trying out that Turkey Tettrazini recipe I've got.
Bad vibes today were due to a mysterious disk failure on my wife's computer. I tried backing up the data, most of which was backed up just a week or so ago, so I'm not too worried about data loss. But the disk itself is being really stubborn about recovering. I even tried a tool called Disk Warrior, which is supposed to be a miracle worker. It ain't working. I'm guessing I'm going to have to do a clean install over the weekend, then restore documents afterwards. Ugh.
Kelly and I are plowing forward on her school project, a diorama depicting a scene from the book The Tale of Despereaux. She has to do some project each month as an integral part of a book report. I usually donate a chunk of time to help her out (Jean does too, of course). Initially I thought this was a hassle, but I've come to enjoy the time with her, modulo the engineering arguments we engage in from time to time.
If Kelly completes enough of her project early enough tomorrow, we'll be going to see The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. Oh joy!
November 21, 2004
Baby Teeth and the Hierarchy of Needs
Sometimes it's fun being a parent. Kelly is in the process of losing another baby tooth, and she's obsessing over the idea that it'll fall out in the night while she's asleep. And she could choke on it. She was literally standing over the washbasin tugging it to and fro trying to get it to come loose before bedtime so she wouldn't risk this scenario.
I think I've steered her away from her nightmare scenario, assuring her that I've yet to see a recorded case of night strangulation by baby tooth. At worst, I said, she'd swallow it and never see it, or it'd fall out and roll under the bed, to be lost amidst the junk she's accumulated and refused to throw away over the last nine years. This of course led next to lawyering. If she didn't have the tooth, how could she 'extract' (heh) payment from the tooth fairy? I told her that since Jean and I knew about the tooth, we could issue an affidavit to that effect and place it under her pillow, which would be as good as a tooth. So then, Dad, what if we find the tooth later? Will the tooth fairy come and get it then?
Enough! In the nicest voice possible I explained to Kelly that while her tooth was surely bugging her, and I of all people, given my various sleep misadventures, sympathized with her, she at least had to make the attempt to sleep, given that she was a growing girl, school was tomorrow, blah, blah, blah. Then for some reason I got onto a monologue concerning the pillars of a healthy life, i.e. balanced meals, exercise, and sleep. And then, after she had agreed to try sleeping without obsessing over the tooth, we got to talking about what a person needs to live, and I spent awhile recounting Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Huh? How the heck did I get here? But she got it. That is so cool!
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 PM
November 17, 2004
Happy Belated Halloween
Okay, now that we are well away from the holiday, I thought I'd get around to posting my banner photo for Halloween. Kelly is a cat girl. More photos are on my Flickr Site. None of them are all that good. I was more focused on being the holiday than capturing it, so sorry for the muddy images...
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:46 PM
October 31, 2004
Not Sweet At All
In her role as nurse (student), Jean has a glucose monitor kit. This morning we measured my blood glucose:
- Eat breakfast.
- Wait one hour.
- Measure glucose.
I hate all things pokey (needles, stinging insects, small children ()), so this is a major sacrifice, but since it's Halloween, and Kelly will be sure to cram one or two sweet samples into my maw whether I want 'em or not, hey, gotta be sure I'm not diabetic, what?
Drum roll, please...
91. This is considered good (64 to 110 is normal), so I'm safe for one more holiday!
Posted by dpwakefield at 11:41 AM
October 27, 2004
Last night Kelly and I took a small pumpkin and went to her school to participate in that cherished tradition, Pumpkin Math Night. No really. Measuring, weighing and graphing our pumpkin, all the while ripping it's guts out and carving arcane symbols through it's skin. Much fun was had by all.
We took a tablespoon and one feeble little pumpking carving implement. Some of our neighbors had Exacto knifes with a dozen blades, others had plastic marking tools, multiple saws in different grades and stencils. I joked to myself that what we really needed was a Dremel kit. Imagine my surprise tonight reading Slashdot when I find a pointer to the Dremel Pumpkin Carving Kit.
I hunted around and found some posts of other peoples' experience using the kit, and the phrase 'orange liquid spray' seemed to occur a lot. I guess I'll skip this one.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:23 PM
October 11, 2004
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:37 PM
September 26, 2004
It seems that every year I have my physical exam, then I have two or three follow-on visits to other doctors. Not because I'm ill in any noticable way, but because my doctor is thorough. The result is that my physical, which typically happens in June or July, stretches out into these other visits. I've always gotten a clean bill of health, but I end up waiting for closure.
This year, I made a trip to Dr. Rudoff, the cardiologist, to evaluate my blood pressure, and got five gold stars. No really. He said "don't stop whatever you're doing. Your LDL cholesterol is 75, and when you were born you probably had an LDL of 50." No blood pressure medication, high marks all round.
I also made a trip to see Dr. Marilyn Rudin. She is a pulmonary specialist, and I was there because I made the mistake of telling my family doctor that I sometimes started myself out of sleep just after bedtime, as if I'd forgotten to breath. He said "that could be apnea, which can be dangerous, so let's get you checked out."
Dr. Rudin asked that Jean come along, and she asked Jean questions about my sleeping behavior. Nothing I said made her want to do anything to me, but Jean told her about flailing arms, snoring and such stuff. "Classic apnea," exclaimed Dr. Rudin. So I got scheduled for a sleep study. Friday night was my night.
I didn't write this up on Saturday, because I was sort of a zombie. Sleep study is sort of a misnomer. I suppose there are folk who sleep soundly enough that they could doze through this thing, but I am not one of them. The sleep technician, a friendly young guy named Anthony, hooked up several electrodes to my scalp, behind my ears, beside my jaw and my eyes, my chest and my legs. He attached two bands around my chest to measure breathing, and most annoying, stuck a sensor consisting of two insulated wires up my nose!
Around ten, not my normal bedtime, it was lights out. First we went through a calibration drill, opening and closing eyes, flexing leg muscles, thrusting belly in and out, breathing only through the nose, breathing only through the mouth, for a few minutes. Then silence. The room was nice and dark, and most of the time quiet. I could hear doors opening and closing, and interns chatting, so of course I couldn't go to sleep until they shut up.
What's more, every time I turned around there were these wires dragging on me. I forgot to mention that I had a oxygen sensor attached to one finger, and whenever I reached to rub my nose (full of wires) the light on the sensor would shine bright red in my eye. Turning on my side drove the nose sensors deeper into my nose, precipitating a round of snorting and eye-watering.
Eventually I managed to get to sleep, I don't know when. Around 4am I woke with the need to visit the restroom. You have to speak out, and the microphone in the room picks up your request. In comes Anthony, to detach the central switchbox from my droud of wires, so I can walk to the bathroom. Afterwards, I got back into bed, hooked up and struggling to get to sleep again.
However, sometime shortly thereafter a hideous shrieking hiss filled the room. Along with other noises, I was able to figure out that another sleep study subject had arisen and was taking a shower. This went on for so long that only a half hour or so after it stopped, Anthony spoke over the loudspeaker. "Well, you haven't really gone back to sleep, but we got some good measurements. It's six am, time to get up!"
I'd optimistically say I got six hours, probably more like five, of sleep in this 'sleep study'. But of course, they don't need you to sleep for the whole night, only long enough to observe your full sleep cycle (light sleep, dreaming, deep sleep) and breathing. According to Anthony, I have a mild manifestation of apnea, but it wasn't enough that he would have entered the room to try a C-PAP on me. This is basically a breathing mask which forces air past an obstructed throat to ensure proper breathing all night. It's just as well, since I generally don't get back to sleep when someone else wakes me, much less when someone else straps a blower onto my nose with a weird yarmulka to hold it on my face.
I took a shower in the adjacent bathroom, working gingerly to remove the six larger sensor patches, which were heavy adhesive squares on my legs and chest (just where the hair is heaviest). When I left the hospital, I saw only one person as Anthony had gone home. I got to peek into the control room, sort of a mini NASA. Then I drove home, had some breakfast, and stumbled through the day.
Last night I went to bed at ten, got up once during the night, and slept in to 7:45am. I felt really rested.
Now I wait three weeks, then have a follow-up visit with Dr. Rudin. Assuming she doesn't try to burden me with one of those C-PAP machines, or otherwise meddle with my physiology, I will finally be able to pronounce my yearly physical over, in mid-October!
Posted by dpwakefield at 05:42 PM
September 19, 2004
Is It A Cookie?
Last weekend, Kelly and I burned through the better part of five hours (spread over Saturday and Sunday) working on a poster project for her 4th grade homework. This was on top of the work Jean had done with Kelly conceptualizing and gathering materials. So Kelly did a lot of work, even with our help. This week we got the result: 5+!
But what does that mean? Kelly's teacher, Miss Tilney, doesn't seem to believe in grades, and also says she slides the scale as the term progresses. So a 5+ today, will be a 4 next month, and so on. But on to the scale. It's defined in terms of Oreo cookies, and I was very entertained when she explained it during a recent parents' night.
- Is it a cookie? Here we are shown a bag full of Oreo crumbs. There's no organization, no structure of any kind, just a bunch of ideas.
- Parts are missing. We've got the complete bottom part of the cookies, but no filling, no tops. Some of the work is missing, though there is some sense of structure.
- Not Quite There. All the parts are there to make a cookie, but they're kinda loose in the bag. We've got all the parts we need for our project, but they're in a random jumble.
- This is a cookie. We have complete Oreos. The requirements of our project have been fulfilled, just.
- Double-stuffed! You did something extra, something creative and beyond what was required. I like it!
- Hardly ever is there a six. This represents the "knocked my socks off" category, and is symbolized by a fudge-covered Oreo. Any kid who gets a six, also gets a fudge-covered Oreo, for real!
So there you have it. Work hard on a poster, and get taunted with an unattainable fudgey Oreo!
Posted by dpwakefield at 11:00 AM
August 27, 2004
So some guy named Peter asks if I recommend Flickr. The answer is that it works for how I use it, but you really need to go read their FAQ yourself. I've no idea how any other person uses the web for photography, and I know at least a couple who are not all that impressed with Flickr. So judge for yourself. It's only a few minutes of browsing to get the idea. Good luck!
August 20, 2004
Back from the Fruit Loop
Posted by dpwakefield at 06:02 PM
August 15, 2004
Not Without My Daughter
Saturday we picked up Kelly from Camp Collins, and she was already asking about going next year. Fortunately she didn't come up with the innovation Jean feared, asking to stay another week on the spot. Kelly then proceeded to catch up on her television viewing
Today Kelly's been more active, doing the shopping rounds with Jean, and lopping branches off defenseless bushes in the back yard. I had the brilliant idea that she and I should drive to Tryon Creek State Park (which I always catch myself calling the Thomas Tryon State Park) and walk the trails.
Kelly had other ideas. She decided that she wanted to ride her bike. Her bike, however, is one we bought her several years ago, with the training wheels still attached. When she sits on it, she crouches with her knees not-quite-topping the handlebars. I followed her around the neighborhood as she struggled with it, but it's clear she can no longer use the pathetic thing. She's been asking for a new bike, and she renewed her plea today. I'm hesitant since I don't really believe that she's all that interested in learning to ride a two wheeler, but I checked G.I. Joe's online, and I can get her a Huffy girl's bike for around $80, so I suppose we'll be going to the store in the next week or so...
After that misadventure, and Kelly's gardening, we hopped in the car and drove to the park. We walked the trails for an hour, visiting Fox Trail Bridge, Iron Mt. Bridge and Obie's Bridge (bridges were our landmarks for progress). By the time we were done, I was pretty soaked with sweat, and wishing I'd brought more than one water bottle, but I was happy we'd gone.
Next weekend, we will very likely be doing the Fruit Loop. My kind of trip: a day trip by car, with plenty of stops.
Posted by dpwakefield at 10:06 PM
August 12, 2004
Before Kelly went to Camp Collins, she joined the cast of the Willowbrook production of H.M.S. Pinafore, where I got this highly posed shot, which she assured me was her impression of George Washington.
More photos can be found at my Flickr site. If you're not on the list and wanna see it, contact me and I'll send you an invite.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:36 PM
August 10, 2004
Jean called me earlier today with Kelly's status. First some background...
Kelly was feeling very uncertain about the whole Camp Collins trip, and expressed anxiety to both of us in the days bordering the event. We finally made a deal with her that she'd have to try at least two nights, and could call to be bailed out on Tuesday morning if she needed it. I had my fingers crossed, as I knew she would enjoy it if only she gave it a chance.
So the report came in today. Kelly has decided to stay the entire week. In fact, according to her councilor, she'd made up her mind on Sunday night. I am truly surprised at the magnitude of my feelings at this news. I'm downright bubbly. I feel like Kelly has taken a giant step forward, and it feels really good!
Happy days. She could still have a backslide and end up calling for a bail-out later this week, but this step alone is just great.
Posted by dpwakefield at 11:46 AM
August 03, 2004
Lemme see, now...
Thursday night, take Kelly to Willowbrook (her day camp) for a 'singing play' performance she's in.
Friday night, drive to Sherwood to see a co-worker's digital art exhibition.
Saturday night, attend NOVA, possibly hit a movie afterwards.
Sunday afternoon, drive Kelly to her YMCA camp, ostensibly for a week, but given her waffling, probably for a couple of days.
Sunday night, nurse nerve-wrecked mother over absence of daughter.
Guess I better get to bed early Wednesday night!
Posted by dpwakefield at 11:03 PM
Kelly likes to visit with the neighborhood cats. Some are friendlier than others, and she sits with them and plays with them and feeds them and on and on.
One cat is a bit tiger tom, and he's somewhat standoffish. Kelly has run out on a number of occasions to visit with him, only to have him skitter when she shows up. This weekend she went out to meet him, while I was working in the kitchen. After a bit, I realized that I couldn't see her down there in the back yard, but I could still see the tom.
Craning my neck, I could see her on the second story deck, 'pawing' at a tree branch and 'nibbling' at the leaves. She was trying to win the trust of the tom by acting catlike.
Jane Goodall's got nothing on this kid.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:31 PM
July 15, 2004
Bow down, my subject!
Okay, I just couldn't pass up the snarky caption for the banner photo, but now I'll share. This was taken at the Tennessee Aquarium, one of the outings at the Moyer family reunion. Chatanooga is actually a nice town, and their aquarium is very nice. The emphasis is on fresh water fauna, as they are blessed with lots of rivers around there. It is a much larger aquarium than the aquarium in Newport, though I really liked that one as well.
I'll try to cobble together a gallery sometime soon. It'll take awhile, as my demo version of Photoshop CS ran out (Fry's is out of stock of the upgrade package right now), and Nikon's software is so much slower loading those NEFs. Be aware that I fumbled the ISO on a couple of occasions, so the pictures are noiser than I'd like...
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:22 PM
July 14, 2004
Hot, Hot, Hot
We're back from Chatanooga, Tennessee. Jean and Kelly flew out on Thursday, I joined them on Saturday, and we all sweated together until we returned yesterday, arriving late in the evening. I'm sure I'll complain about the summer heat here in Oregon, but it'll have to work hard to beat Sunday in Tennesee/Georgia, where the Moyer clan went out to Lake Winnepesauka, an amusement park, and we later learned it was 101 degrees (and very high humidity).
I'm done travelling outside the state for awhile now, thanks. Certainly no plane flights for around a year, when I hope to make the next Anime Expo. Good to be home.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:50 AM
June 26, 2004
How I Spent My Summer Vacation
(A Mom’s-eye view of Disneyland)
By Jean Wakefield
We spent my daughter’s 9th birthday at Disneyland, a world of adventure and excitement where cartoon characters dance, children play and parents ooze cash from every orifice:
Mom: “I told you we should’ve taken two suitcases. There’s no room for souvenirs, and we had to pay a $25 heavy-bag fee before we even left Portland. All souvenirs must be compact and nonbreakable. No stuffed animals! I repeat, no stuffed animals!”
Dad: “No way am I paying $2.75 for sugar water. A plate of tortilla chips in plastic cheese for $8? Never happen.”
Daughter: “Look! A Build-a-Bear Workshop!”
Daughter rides the Orange Stinger, where kids are strapped into lawn chairs chained to a tether ball pole and flung in circles. She screams with joy. Mom just screams. Dad takes Daughter on a death trap called the Maliboomer. Mom is too terrified to look, yet compelled by the force of evolution to watch as the lone bearer of her DNA and the bright future of the human species is shot into outer space by strangers, then plunged to earth with no more protection than a seat belt and a vomit shield. Mom envies that vomit shield.
It’s great staying at the Disneyland Hotel. Close to the parks and Downtown Disney, helpful employees, convenient souvenir shops, pool and crowds of raucous partiers who scream outside our hotel window until 3 a.m. Which leads us to ...
Mom: “Omygod, three hours of sleep and no coffee maker in the room. I have no eyelids! I wonder if I could draw them on with eyeliner?”
Dad: “This hotel has no Internet access. I want to go home.”
Daughter: “I want to ride the Maliboomer again!”
Travel is so educational. It shows Mom what she’ll be like at age 90: a bag lady. Sacks beneath her eyes, belongings strapped to every part of her body, exhausted, malnourished, seeking only a quiet place to rest her weary bones. Daughter spends $140 at Build-a-Bear Workshop on a rock-star bunny with accessories. For $35, Mom gets a silhouette in a glass frame and giant lollipops. Daughter wins a pink stuffed dolphin at Dolphin Derby. After riding the Maliboomer 12 times and bruising the judgment center of his brain, Dad leads Daughter to the California Screamin’ roller-coaster ride of annihilation. Mom knows she will never see either one of them again.
This scenario shows why, despite technological advances, we will never quite make fathers obsolete. Nature requires someone to take kids on California Screamin’, which Moms cannot bear to watch, much less ride. We can’t escort our children to certain doom. But Dads can, and do happily. And make certain doom seem like a blast.
Mom: “Omygod, are those varicose veins?” She nearly calls an emergency vein-stripping center until she realizes the “veins” are multicolored, shaped like Goofy and match the souvenir bags she’s had banging against her calves all day. Daughter buys a Stitch hat that looks like a monster is eating her head, wears it for 15 minutes, hands it to Mom to carry. Daughter joins Mom on safe, clever, imaginative rides like It’s a Small World and Peter Pan’s Flight. Thanks Mom politely, then -- back to California Adventure!”
Daughter and Dad: “Leave her! She’s too slow!”
Abandoned to starve, Mom struggles through crowds, carrying an autograph book, Stitch hat, Tilley hat, sandals, candy, Kleenex, snacks, other people’s water bottles, sunscreen ... and oh, yes, the tickets. They can’t go far.
Mom: “Moo-ah-ha-ha. I’ll just rest here a while and enjoy this Mickey Mouse ice cream bar.”
After a big meal at Ariel’s Grotto, Daughter rides California Screamin’ and the Maliboomer six times each.
Daughter: “I don’t feel good. I think I have gastric reflux.”
Dad: “Hey, look! That guy’s selling Diet Coke for only $2.75!”
As “Hollywood Nights” blasts yet again over the P.A., Mom and Dad debate whether “Hotel California” should be included on the endless loop of California-related songs. Mom fantasizes about kidnapping Bob Seger and Donald Duck-taping him to the Maliboomer until he agrees to quit the music business. Dad shells out $24 for several heart attacks with plastic cheese. Daughter wins three large stuffed animals from claw machine. Mom declares any additional stuffed animals will be shot on sight. Spends evening sitting on suitcase.
Mom considers using concealer as foundation in hopes of making her whole head disappear. Daughter wins two stuffed dolphins at Dolphin Derby, rides California Screamin’ five times and declares she’s ready for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which is like the Maliboomer but with fake mold. Mom waits outside wishing Disneyland sold Minnie Mouse prayer beads. Daughter self-ejects from Twilight Zone ride, having spotted scary moss up ahead. Dad completes the ride, declares it “kinda boring” and buys another Diet Coke.
Time for the fireworks display. The Mouse puts on a good show: The sky explodes with color, Tinkerbell soars overhead.
As glowing white sparkles trickle down through the sky, Daughter hugs Mom:
“Mom, look! It’s the fountain of dreams! The fountain of dreams!”
Smiles all around. The perfect trip. Gotta do this again next year.
Posted by dpwakefield at 04:26 PM
June 22, 2004
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:01 PM
Back From Disneyland
Well, we arrived home early yesterday evening, after travelling most of the day, mostly waiting in airports, caught in traffic, and the like. First thing I did after putting stuff away was to eat a bunch of vegetables. I succeeded in getting a lot of vegetation at Disneyland this year, due to my increased familiarity with Downtown Disney and the immediate environs of Anaheim, but the rest of the food was so rich, I just want to return to my bland diet.
I dragged Jean and Kelly to Coco's for breakfast one day, since I really enjoyed going there with my friends during Anime Expo last year. The following day we tried to go to Tiffy's Restaurant, which is just across the street from Coco's. I still managed to get lost on the way there, as I'm not as familiar with the route there from the Disneyland Hotel. I can do it blindfolded from the Convention Center, though! Eventually, after Kelly had a meltdown and I lost my temper, we regrouped and found our way, and had a great lunch at Tiffy's.
Above we have an image from California Screamin', a sizable roller coaster located in Disney's California Adventure. The photo is a 'little' posed, if there can be such a thing. They take a flash shot near the end of the ride, and Kelly and I rode that thing nearly a dozen times while we were down there. So by that shot, I knew about where the picture would be taken, and I gave a thumbs up. The facial expression is pretty authentic though.
Two years ago, Kelly's favorite rides were the Teacup, King Triton's Carousel, and the Dumbo ride. This year it was California Screamin', Orange Stinger, and the MaliBoomer (which Mark, at work, cleverly had me thinking was called the MailBomber). About the only things she still considers too scary to ride are the Haunted Mansion, which I rode this year, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a new ride which I rode once, and which is sort of like the MaliBoomer, with more of an emphasis on the dropping part.
This year we had a pair of FRS radios which my friend Burr lent to me, and it made a lot of difference. We were able to keep in touch from most locations in the park, so there was no anxiety as to where Kelly was like last time. I really took for granted the ability to contact Jean almost any time when we were apart. It was great.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:24 AM
June 09, 2004
Monday we had rain, thunder and lightning in Tualatin. Kelly just had to go out and play in the rain. It'd been raining heavily for awhile, and backed off to a drizzle, so I let her, grabbing an umbrella to be near her. She was walking around in a shirt, shorts and sneakers. Soon she discovered the pools of water collected along the curb, and began to walk around in them.
"Kelly, you have to wear those shoes to school tomorrow, so you shouldn't get them wet," I said. Being the good father, I made her stop: "take your shoes off, and play in your sock feet."
So she got good and soaked, and I decreed that she had to take a hot bath. Once the tub was full, she asked me to stay with her. I didn't really want to just sit around while she played with bath toys, so I told her, "I'll stay if you let me read to you." She resisted, but relented.
I ran into the den, and returned with Allen Mandelbaum's translation of Dante's Inferno. Jean and I had been talking about it because I got Jean to read a modern adaptation written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Kelly had asked what it was about, and we explained some of the background of Dante's time, how revolutionary a work it was, some of the politics in it (putting his enemies in real life into the various circles of hell). So I decided to expose her to it. I said "I'm just going to read the first Canto, so you can get a feel for it."
Well, I read it to her, getting into the emotion of the story, and reached the end. "That's the end of the first Canto. Now you know what the feel of the story is like."
"Really? Are you sure? He's going to enter Hell soon, and it'll get pretty icky then."
"I want to hear more."
So we read the first three Cantos. I don't expect to pick it up again soon. I've read the Inferno in three different translations on various occasions, and I always enjoy it, but I doubt Kelly will be in the mood more than this once. Still, it was fun doing such an atypical thing with her.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:18 PM
May 30, 2004
Dunno what other people do on the long weekend, but I stay home. Jean and I relaxed yesterday evening, which was Jean's birthday. I got her a copy of Sims: Makin' Magic, and she got me a copy of Oklahoma (we celebrate our birthdays together).
Earlier today I went down to work with Kelly in tow, got a little work done, too.
Kelly is right now knitting. Jean has spent most of the day baking, making ciabatta bread with Kalamata olives (yum!) and brownies with Kelly.
Tomorrow, I'll go work out, maybe work a little more. But no wrestling the holiday trafffic. Nice way to relax if you ask me.
Posted by dpwakefield at 05:33 PM
May 16, 2004
I was downstairs with Jean, she with her head in my lap, and we were just chatting. Chatting about how long we've been together, how good a match we are for each other, that sort of mushy stuff. All the while, I was running my fingers through her hair. Not just brushing, but tugging. Trying to get it to stand on end.
"Now I know where Kelly gets that hair-playing habit of hers," she said. "She does the same thing to me." Emphasizing 'me' as if there were someone else in the room.
I told her, "I think you meant to say: She does the same thing to me..."
So I immediately invented a new syndrome, Inappropriate Emphasis Disorder, and spent the next five minutes teasing her with it. In the end, I got her to change her emphasis on a single syllable, "No." ... "No!"
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:50 PM
I was downstairs with Jean, she with her head in my lap, and we were just chatting. Chatting about how long we've been together, how good a match we are for each other, that sort of mushy stuff. All the while, I was running my fingers through her hair. Not just brushing, but tugging. Trying to get it to stand on end.
"Now I know where Kelly gets that hair-playing habit of hers," she said. "She does the same thing to me." Emphasizing 'me' as if there were someone else in the room.
So I immediately invented a new syndrome, Inappropriate Emphasis Disorder, and spent the next five minutes teasing her with it. In the end, I got her to change her emphasis on a single syllable, "No." ... "No!"
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:48 PM
May 14, 2004
Kelly's Night Out
Jean's having separation pangs. Kelly has gone to the YMCA for her first overnighter. Can you believe she's never done a sleepover before? Somehow we neglected to ever do that. So now she's gone, having the time of her life (I hope), and Jean is having a time of it in a different sense.
We pick her up tomorrow morning at 8:30am, then kill time with breakfast as she's got swim class at the very same YMCA at around 10:45am. I'll be sure to report any scoops here tomorrow if she shares.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:12 PM
May 10, 2004
Getting My Dander Up
My other unique outing this weekend was to take Kelly to an orientation at the Cat Adoption Team. Get it? C.A.T.? They're a no-kill shelter and adoption group for cats, and Kelly is going to do some volunteer work there this summer. Jean will be her escort, since the shelter doesn't allow kids under 16 to work alone.
In just the brief hour we were there, my eyes were itching and my nose running. In fact it ran most of the day thereafter. Sunday I was finding cat hair in my car while driving the family to the theatre! Kelly was hinting that maybe we could be a foster family for a cat (act as a home for a mother cat and her kittens until they are old enough to be put up for adoption), but this little experience makes me wary of that path.
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:44 AM
May 02, 2004
Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda
Today we drove nearly an hour one way to attend an open house at Camp Collins, a summer camp run by the YMCA. Kelly got to see the facilities and hear about the routine planned for the one-week camp she was interested in. Looks like she's going to go too.
So sometime this summer, I expect to hear the plaintive strains of Camp Grenada by Alan Sherman. How's that for a blast from the past?
Posted by dpwakefield at 06:00 PM
April 26, 2004
Unclear on the Concept
I need a checklist of figures of speech Kelly is familiar with. This evening, I was helping her after her shower.
"Where's your hairbrush?"
"It's probably in the bathroom."
"So go get it," I replied.
"I'm wet and cold, and I just got out of the shower, and I had dance class tonight... So could you please look for it?"
I'm hardly the sympathetic type when confronted with a pathetic list like that, so I answered: "I will go look for it, but do you know what this is?" I held up my thumb and forefinger, rubbing delicately together.
"It's the world's tiniest violin, playing just for you."
To which Kelly replied: "Yay!"
If you're old enough, you remember this stuff, rust brown and murky. My Dad used to apply it on a swab to my throat whenever I got a sore throat. It was an all-purpose antiseptic, going on scrapes and cuts in liberal swathes.
It turns out my dentist is insane. She suggested very strongly that I use a Betadine solution in my Waterpik, which I use to irrigate under the gums as a measure against gingivitis. But I use a product called Peroxyl, which is sort of like Listerine, with Hydrogen Peroxide in it's mix. Apparently that's not toxic enough. "We use Betadine here when we scale teeth. Just mix it four-to-one with water."
So I dutifully got some (after the second check-up, when she insisted again). And tonight I tried it out. That is the most foul substance in the Universe! I was spitting for the next hour, and my mouth still feels unnatural. I won't be doing that every night.
April 25, 2004
Jean has embarked on an admirable mission, to supply Kelly with opportunities to exercise her responsibility muscles. This weekend she let Kelly buy her own Happy Meal (long story short, Kelly wanted a particular stuffed dog toy similar to one she got recently), navigate Borders on her own to locate and buy a Calvin & Hobbes book, call me at work on her own to chat ... you get the idea.
So now when Kelly wants to try something, we have to at least pause, and ask ourselves if this is an opportunity for growth. She did good this weekend, so I'm up for more.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:51 PM
April 18, 2004
Kelly used to take riding lessons at a Wilsonville riding school. Jean and I were both a bit peeved with them. They were very disorganized, messing up their schedules too often. Kelly would have a class, but they'd have no record of it. We would show up for a class only to find out it had been cancelled, without notifying us. The pain level hadn't quite escalated to the point of cancellation until they recently informed us that we owed them for classes we'd paid for.
I looked online and found that they hadn't posted the check we gave to the riding school. Given their record, we felt certain that these yarboes had lost the check themselves, so we informed them that we'd write a new check, but deduct the $20 stop-payment fee for the original check from the amount. They waffled, suggested that we should just 'not stop payment', ask at our local post office for the missing check, anything but deduct that $20. So we pulled Kelly out of the class. Now they have their $20, but have lost a steady revenue stream from us. What pathetic putzes.
Sunday Jean loaded us into the car to check out a new riding school. It's smaller, located somewhere North of Beaverton. The teacher seemed no-nonsense, and a parent I spoke with said she'd never experienced the level of incompetence we'd seen at the earlier place. Kelly has an evaluation this Thursday. We'll see what turns up. I hope it turns out okay for Kelly, as she says she enjoyed riding, and this school does Western-style lessons, which fit's Kelly's interests better anyway.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:06 PM
April 11, 2004
Dawn of the Lepus
If you were ever priviledged to see Night of the Lepus, or have seen the original or remake of Dawn of the Dead, you might comprehend my amusement at this candid snap of Jean following Kelly during the Easter egg hunt this morning at our abode. It just tickled me, anyway.
And if you haven't seen either of the above films, as Jean apparently hasn't ... For clarity's sake, the reference was to the notion of Jean being stalked by a giant killer bunny. Jeez people (i.e. Jean), where's your pop cultural education?
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:19 PM
April 10, 2004
My Own Worst Enemy
Thursday night I was horsing around with Kelly. The usual, faux wrestling, tickling, making raspberry noises on each others' skin. As is so often the case when we do this, things got out of hand, only this time, instead of getting a fingernail gouge, I really got slammed. I was wriggling under Kelly's legs, and she pegged me with her heelbone, solidly, in the nexus of nerves in my left jaw joint. Man, did that hurt.
I immediately took some aspirin to keep down the swelling, and the major pain soon ebbed. I don't think I've incurred any sort of TMJ, but the tissue is still sore, when I extend the jaw, or press at that joint. This is only like the twentieth time I've sworn that Kelly and I will not rough house anymore. It just never seems to stick. The irony is that this was the evening after my dental checkup, where I got a sterling grade for dental care!
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:38 PM
April 04, 2004
Thief of Time
Friday I explained Daylight Savings Time to Kelly. You know, Spring Forward, Fall Back, alleged reasons why it's a good idea. Of course, I may have used words to the effect of 'them' stealing an hour from us each Spring. So yes, Kelly's creeping up on nine years, and has had this experience before, but this year, this year it's personal! She was quite peeved Friday night.
Today we went to the garden store, and if I so much as mentioned Daylight Savings Time, she carped bitterly, and it took a heroic effort to steer the conversation to another topic. I swear, it was like turning an oil tanker. So I guess my work here is done.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:50 PM
March 17, 2004
I've been way busy of late, and haven't had the wherewithal to do any posts. So here in one post are a few of the things that have gone before:
- Jean's parents stopped by for a visit on their way back from Hawaii to Michigan. They are now safely back home.
- Before the crunch, just before, I finished Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. Lots of fun. I started replaying with a different character, but haven't had enough time/energy to do more than the intro section. Dunno if the replay value is high enough to continue.
- I got a bonus, and used some of it to replace my old, classic Blueberry iBook with a new, frost white iBook. So far I like it a lot. It's name is Mikura.
I'm sure there's lots more that has gone on, including Kelly's ongoing battles with real world horse riding lessons (you get hurt in the real world, damn!) and other stuff I just can't think of right now. Sorry, maybe later.
Now I wanna get up at 6am tomorrow, so I can get into work early (Jean's on break from school and taking Kelly to school for me) and log a few extra hours on my crunch project. So early to bed! Bye!
February 26, 2004
Maaaybe a Five Year Old...
I've taken to hiding my shampoo whenever Kelly takes a shower. She uses it as body soap, and has on one occasion gone through half a bottle of Prell in one session. So I leave her shampoo in there, and a bar of soap, for if she's feeling adventurous.
So tonight she's showering, taking her sweet time and pouring all the hot water down the drain (Jean is somehow puzzled at how high our gas bills are), but otherwise doing her business. I in the meantime am in the den reading Slashdot . Eventually, she climbs out of the tub, and I go in to check on her. The tub is full of water. Soapy, murky, kinda cloudy water.
Kelly saw me looking at this mess and asked me "why isn't the water going down?"
"I don't know. Something must be clogging it. I guess I'll have to use the plunger." I speculated that it'd just reached it's threshold of Kelly hair and needed loosening. Then I noticed that the soap tray was empty. "Kelly, what happened to the new bar of Ivory soap I had there?"
"I used it to wash myself."
"All of it?"
"Yes. Some of it I used to wash my hair, and then I washed my body, and under my nails..."
By this time I'd reached for the plunger and given a few good yanks on the handle. Many pea-sized fragments of soap came shooting out. Ugh. She'd basically destroyed an entire bar of soap, and most of it was lodged in the drain. I was thinking back to when this sort of thing was more common, when Kelly could take care of herself a little, and that was when she was five!
So I gave her a lecture in a calm voice while trying to get chunks of soap out of the tub, but I was thinking to myself, 'where did that come from?' Jean has a theory that whenever Kelly is about to undergo a cognitive 'spurt', she first regresses a little, acting more immature for a few days or a week, then bam!, one morning she wakes up and we get a girl who's a year older. Well, I'm looking forward to this next leap!
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:52 PM
February 21, 2004
Yesterday evening was Family Fun Night at Bridgeport School, and Kelly wanted me to take her. We played checkers, and I beat her, so we decided to go play Bingo. I played along gamely, but couldn't help but comment on the blatant innumeracy displayed.
Several times they called numbers which could not exist, such as N-57, or B-32. Really. Later, they had a game of Four Corners, where you only need to fill the four squares in the corners to win. They doggedly announced every number, including those in the I, N and G columns.
They also had a Capital H game, where the cross bar ran across the middle of the Bingo sheet. They announced all the N numbers. Kinda strange, as the middle square is the only N square you need, and it's the 'free' square, with no number.
Okay, they were kids, but older than Kelly. When Kelly gets to that age, if she makes those kind of mistakes, I'm sending her to cram school!
Yeah, since you ask, we had fun!
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:34 PM
Subdefectives Strike Back
Got a new chore this weekend. Figure out how to replace a mangled mailbox. Some idjit blew ours up in the middle of the night. The force was enough to mangle the mounting bracket below the box as well, so it's not as simple as screwing in another. Hope the idjit blows a hand off. Not really, but bleh...
Wait a minute, this happened just a couple of days after I 'cancelled' that Xbox magazine subscription! Coincidence? I think not!
Posted by dpwakefield at 10:18 AM
February 16, 2004
Jean had classes all day today, and my workplace was closed for Presidents' Day, so I stayed home with Kelly. Or rather, I ran around with Kelly. We started the morning by making waffles together. Kelly wanted to try the yeasted waffle recipe in Cook's Illustrated, but I felt we lacked the preparations, so we did the simple kind.
Later we went shopping for some stuff we forgot this weekend. Kelly brought a bunch of dollar coins, and dropped $4 on the claw machine, trying to get a toy. In the end, she spent another $5 buying herself a stuffed dog from the toy department. Then she tried to shame me into buying her some more stuff. "Pay me back the money you owe me and we'll talk." She didn't like that.
We came home and played a little Baldur's Gate, then we went off to see Triplets of Belleville. Man that is one fun movie. I think the creator is from Quebec, but it had a real European feel to it. I learned a lesson with this one. I tried last night to describe the premise of the film to Kelly, so she'd come with me and I could see it. She was turned off and wanted nothing to do with it. Then I found a trailer on the web, and she watched it and decided that she really wanted to see the movie.
It was touch and go if she'd be able to sit through all the slower and unconventional stuff, but there were enough cute spots that she sat through it, and she said she liked it. I'm just glad I got a chance to see it, since usually the chain here doesn't bring foreign or indie stuff to the burbs.
We came home for a snack, then we took off for my workplace to use the gym. Kelly and I both got a good workout. Then we went to Fry's so I could pick up a copy of the U.S. release of Returner, and headed home. More Baldur's Gate, and finally Jean got home.
Kelly and I treated Jean by making a recipe for pork chops we got out of Cook's Illustrated, which turned out loverly, thanks. The evening wound down to a routine finish, and as I put Kelly to bed a little while ago, she said "this was a really good day." I told her I thought so too.
February 01, 2004
The banner is a scan (from the photo, not the negative, I'm too lazy today) from our trip last summer to Florence, Oregon-not-Italy. Click on the image to see another pose. I edited both to remove some generous ice cream smears on Kelly's face, but it's otherwise genuine.
Posted by dpwakefield at 05:39 PM
January 26, 2004
The occasion of this bon mot was an article in The Morning News a few days ago. I'd already seen it on Slashdot, but it's pretty funny. It's a parody of those GameFAQ videogame walkthroughs, with a visit to Ikea as the game:
You start this world armed only with a UNIVERSAL FURNITURE-ASSEMBLY ALLEN WRENCH. This is the weakest weapon in IKEA: You will have to hit a person 16 times with it to kill them...
As you enter the main area, you will see an EKHARD oiled solid-oak dining sideboard. Quickly kick it apart to acquire the TABLE LEG WITH NAIL.
As you continue through the main SHOWROOM you will see groups blocking the walkways while chatting and others moving against traffic. These people should be killed immediately.
Posted by dpwakefield at 06:48 PM
January 25, 2004
I haven't posted in over a week, and truth to tell, nothing interesting has happened. I could note how my nefarious plan to corrupt Kelly is coming along nicely -- she now spontaneously sings snippets from Bohemian Rhapsody without prompting, mostly "let him go! WE WILL NOT LET YOU GO", and her own version of Fugue for the Tinhorns ("I got the horse right here, his name is Paul Grameer") -- but other than that, I got nothing.
I've been absorbed by my project at work, wherein I'm rapidly approaching a self-imposed milestone, but have low confidence of reaching it. Maybe a month late, and given that I've got more time after that for the entire project, I'm not truly worried, but I like to hit my own deadlines... When I get home, I find myself pretty much intellectually drained, and so I end up goofing with Kelly, jabbering with Jean, or just watching bad made-for-tv SciFi movies.
I came down with a touch of something flu-ish this weekend for variety's sake. Saturday I had a light breakfast and began to feel nauseous (it was home-cooked oatmeal, so don't point that food-poisoning stick at me). That went on for the entire day, though I was able to take Kelly swimming, and go grocery shopping with the gang. By nightfall, I was running a very low fever and shivery, so I went to bed mucho early, listening to my iTunes library for company. Total food intake Saturday was the oatmeal in the morning, and two slices of dry toast in the evening.
By this morning I was feeling a bit better. In the late morning I ate another slice of dry toast and a banana. Late in the afternoon I was able to eat normally, which is to say a plate of vegetables and some fresh-baked cod. I'm feeling almost whole now, so I'm tempted to call this a 24-hour bug, except that I'd been having stomach cramps on and off the entire previous week. Does this qualify as too much information?
More evidence for a virus is that Jean went to bed early this evening feeling under the weather as well. I hope Kelly doesn't get in line for her share, but she's been remarkably hale since her early childhood. Thanks for that!
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:47 PM
January 08, 2004
Can I Please Go to Work?
Tuesday I drove to work slowly in snowy weather. After awhile, as noted before, I drove home in freezing rain. I worked from home, and again yesterday, assured that the roads were nasty, and walking on ice sucked. But I'm running out of things I can do remotely. I wanna go in to work. Right now, the street outside my house is again a sheet of ice. I'm gonna wait until it gets brighter outside, then start thinking hard about whether I wanna risk a drive.
If experience serves, the roads are crappy and unsafe for six or so blocks, then they get just crappy, then the highway will be just fine, then the feeders around work will be just crappy, then the parking lot will be crappy and unsafe.
Updates later as I have 'em!
January 06, 2004
More Bogus Weather
I put on the chains this morning and drove down to work. The roads were snowy, but safe. I worked for three or four hours before Ernie pointed out that the snow had turned to freezing rain and if I didn't want to spend the night at work, I should leave. So I drove home. The main roads were fine, but the neighborhood streets were touch and go. I've got DSL, so I was able to work some from home. Then I exercised, and watched the crappy weather outside the window.
I'm hoping the roads will melt enough to let me drive down tomorrow for a full day. Wish us luck, everyone!
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:50 PM
December 30, 2003
In Cold Blood
It snowed yesterday, the second time this year. Ugh.
But Kelly really liked it, as witness this tableau, repeated in the current banner. I'm not sure the snow corpse was originally laid out as I saw it today, but I like it better this way. When it starts melting, I'm going to go out and outline it in chalk.
Posted by dpwakefield at 03:53 PM
December 26, 2003
Featured in this banner are two of Kelly's Christmas presents from this year: a Bratz doll (for some reason she really likes these things) astride an RC truck. I don't even want to get started on the mountain of toys she got, between us and her grandparents, aunts, uncles and distant friends, but thanks to all you contributors out there! I swear each year, that she gets more toys in one holiday than I recall getting in my entire career as a Christmas child. Probably not true, but it surely feels that way.
Most of my presents to Jean and Kelly went over well, with the exception of a book-on-CD, which she had just checked out of the library this week! So she gets to take one thing back to the store. Oh well, not too bad a ratio.
Jean and I bought each other an early Christmas present, the Roomba vacuum cleaner. We've been using it for the past week, and it fulfills my expectations as an interrim light vacuum. We bought it using some of the money we'd set aside for tests my doctor ordered for my annual physical, which turned out not to be needed. So, found money, as I like to say.
I opened all my 'rebagged' gifts from the NOVA Christmas party last weekend. I got a great cookbook from Lisa, many goofing toys from Alan (two Star Wars Lego kits and a foam ring 'gun'). Tom gave me the Season One DVD from Red vs. Blue, which turned out to be a great gift, as I have watched the entire season, the Outtakes, the P.S.A.s, and the Directors' comment track on Christmas day. Good choice, Tom!
James gave me two cool gifts. The first was a Japanese import game for the Gameboy Advance, based on the current remake of Astroboy, which James knows I consider my first 'anime', having seen it and practically worshipped it as an 8-10 year-old in Washington, D.C. (UHF! UHF! UHF!). The menus, printed manual, and everything else are in Japanese, and since I put my Japanese studies on hold until Kelly gets out of the house, it's all 'Greek' to me. So it'll be a challenge to work through some of it. I even got stuck in the introductory training level as the key combos started scrolling past too fast and poor little Astroboy got creamed by the sample monsters.
The other gift I got from James was a Hot Wheels model of the Mach 5, or Mach Go Go Go!, from Speed Racer, another cartoon from that childhood era which included such gems as Ultraman and Eigth Man. Boy, I'm tearing up here with the nostalgia. . Last but not least, John got me a DVD. Rather, he offered me a choice of one out of seven or eight different movies and anime. I finally settled on Boondock Saints, as I'd seen it but never owned it, and I have heard that there will be a sequel, so best to refresh my memory.
Gifts from the family were limited to stocking stuffers and a couple of personal gifts, as I'd already spent my gift money on buying an upgrade to Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther). All the computers in the household are running it now! Cool!
I just ate one of my presents, vegetable curry, with my dinner. Other presents include a Skeptical Inquirer magazine, a terrycloth pillow for soaking in the tub, some Chinese spicy sauce, and another personal favorite, my own DVD of Strictly Ballroom. Jean and I rented this movie many years ago, and it is just a pleasure to watch, both for the dancing, and for the drama and comedy of the storyline. I can't wait to watch it again.
The final present I'll mention was a minicase for my Gameboy Advance SP. I've been using the case for my old GBA, which is oversize. It has the advantage that I can fit most all of my games in the same case, but it is bulky. The minicase can fit two games, if you count the one in the GBA. I expect I'll use both, on different occasions.
I got money too, even though I spent the money Jean usually give me on the OS upgrade. So I put most of it in the bank to cover my expenditures for everybody else. Funny how that works!
And now, I'm being summoned to help my daughter brush her teeth (braces and all), so I'll just wish you all happy holidays, and post something more tomorrow...
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:18 PM
December 14, 2003
Sunday Double Bill
In addition to my usual Sunday errands and chores, I attended two social events today.
Event the First: Kelly's Sunday School Performance. Kelly was Mary (the mother, not the sidekick), and acquitted herself well. There was a rough moment when she mounted a platform and tripped on her robe. I could tell she was deeply upset, and felt she was the center of negative attention. We spoke with her afterwards, and it took awhile to convince her that 'these things happen', but she came around, especially after we pointed out some other flubs her castmates had experienced.
Event the Second: I had the mixed pleasure of taking Kelly and her friend Parker to see Cat in the Hat. It wasn't nearly as painful as the reviews had led me to believe, but it was a weak movie overall. I think I set a record for number of times I escorted a young lady to the restroom, since they took turns, rather than going together.
And I ate entirely too much popcorn for my own good. I've tried to counteract it with a dinner of oatmeal. We shall see if my stomach forgives me, or aches vindictively...
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:20 PM
Jean had that nightmare experience that only a poor teacher can give. She was taking her final exam, on which her future in nursing hinged, and very few of the questions had anything to do with the material covered in class. In addition, questions were ambiguous, to the extent that sometimes they were phrased to deliberately confuse. Jean checked the answers after the exam against the master sheet, and she thinks she still managed to pull an A, but I for one am furious with her 'teacher'.
I had a teacher like that at O.G.I., for a computer architecture class, and his tests were execrable. My friend Burr was taking the course with me, and we actually met with the Dean to complain. Again, we both managed to pull A's despite the dolt's incompetence, but we felt others shouldn't have to suffer because this guy wasn't willing to do the work.
I don't think Jean is going to do anything, but I think someone should tell her teacher to at least have somebody review her tests before she gives them.
Posted by dpwakefield at 06:59 PM
Pizza 'n' Pins
My division at work had it's annual Christmas outing this Friday. We started at Pizza Caboose for lunch. Why? Because our build guy, Stacy, is married to the mob Seriously, his wife's family owns the restaurant. They have such good pizza that Jean, Kelly and I went there Saturday.
I went to my 'Core Strength' class before lunch, which is the short-form Pilates class at work. I also do the Monday-Wednesday long-form Pilates classes, and it's a good thing, since the activity after lunch at Pizza Caboose was bowling! I don't bowl, and don't have the muscles for it, but my back is much stronger now, thanks to the class, and I made it through the three games with only minimal strain.
We went over to Tigard Bowl which is next door to the pizza place. There were three games, two high score and one low. The first game, we were each given an automatic strike on the third, sixth and ninth frames. The second game, seven, eight or nine pins counted as a strike. I had quite a streak of strikes there for the second game!
The third game, you had to try for a low score, but missing all pins counted as a strike (missing all pins on the second ball was a spare). This made the third game into the most skill-based game of the three, and I stunk, of course. Still, it was just for fun, and I got a See's chocolate turkey to take home to Kelly, and a baseball cap to take home to Jean.
Our final activity was to go back to Pizza Caboose and sample from a dozen cakes and pies from Papa Haydn. These were rich desserts, and even though I served myself only a sliver each of the pumpkin cheesecake (kind of disappointing, after all the build-up I've had) and the chocolate mousse, I was in sugar shock for an hour.
I managed to drive home safely, and stayed with Kelly while Jean went to take her final exam in her most recent nursing class. More on that in a later post.
Anyway, that's how we did office Christmas this year!
December 11, 2003
Tonight was Kelly's 3rd grade concert. Luckily I was able to make it, and witness the splendor of "The Unity Tree", a tale of conflict between cats and dogs, which ends, happily enough, in Unity.
Seriously, it was fun watching Kelly sing, and even deliver lines in her one sentence speaking role. She was one of the few kids to actually emote and put some body language into her lines. Someday she'll be a star...
December 07, 2003
This Scientific American article explains Flynn's Effect, the observation that scores on IQ tests rise over time. It's a good article, and gives useful background for Eliot Gelwan's notice that the tests are being revised (as they are, apparently, every 15 to 20 years) to correct for this effect.
So if you think your child is smart, don't be disappointed if their IQ score seems lower this year...
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:48 PM
November 30, 2003
Now Kelly knows why you're not supposed to put your tongue on a flagpole in winter. We were all at the grocery store yesterday, and while Jean was off looking for something Xmassy, I was with Kelly in the frozen foods aisle.
I asked her what she wanted, and she tried to be cute by pointing with her tongue. You know how you can see something coming and just as surely see that there is not enough time to stop it? I started saying "whoa Whoa WHOA!" and moving toward Kelly. Her tongue touched the metal shelf, her eyes swiveled toward me, and she realized that something was wrong, and jerked back.
She left a little bit of herself behind that day, and tasted blood, not for the first time, and probably not for the last. But at least she knows a little bit more about the physics of physiology firsthand.
Posted by dpwakefield at 05:39 PM
November 27, 2003
Kelly and I did a quickie photo-shoot to commemorate her ninth Thanksgiving (she's creeping up on eight and a half years of age now). Just click on the banner photo. I didn't polish it, just a few rough shots run through Photoshop's Web Gallery option.
While I'm at it, let me take a moment to wish my family and all my friends a happy Thanksgiving. I'm grateful to know you all. That includes all you 'web only' folks as well. Kylanath, Pascale, I enjoy reading your weblogs, and appreciate that you take the time to comment on mine.
November 01, 2003
Halloween is over, so sad. It was a cold night, but lots of fun. The only event worth mentioning is that Kelly took a tumble and chopped a divot out of her knee. Her candy went flying, and we had to pick it up in the dark. I asked Kelly if she wanted to go home right away, and she said she wanted to finish out the block.
From that moment forward, she was sure to point out her knee to everyone who answered their door:
"Trick or treat! See my knee? That's real blood, and don't touch it because it hurts! Thank you, Happy Halloween!"
Posted by dpwakefield at 11:16 AM
October 30, 2003
Twas the Night Before Halloween
And all through the haunted house...
Gaggles of teenagers were dressed in robes, fright wigs and rubber masks...
Kelly's school was doing a fundraiser by running a haunted house, and Kelly, never having been to one, but having watched about a thousand episodes of Scooby Doo, decided that she was willing to try it. So we went this evening. It was set up in an old house which has served as a church in Tualatin since I've been here. They divided up the house with plywood partitions painted black, draped everything in 'cobwebs', filled the halls with fog, played loud spooky sound effects, and had an annoying passage lit with strobe lights.
Kelly and I entered, paid our $8, and ran the gauntlet. Kelly's only question as we paid, was "where's the bathroom?" Unfortunately for her, it was halfway through the haunted house. We began our tour, and Kelly kept asking for the bathroom. Some costumed geek jumped out behind us, and I gave a faux shriek. Kelly turned around and said "hello, we just want to find the bathroom."
She repeated this performance a couple more times, and at first I thought she was unimpressed by the whole situation. But the farther we got into the house, the more agitated she became, and about halfway through, she began sobbing and started repeating, over and over, "I just want to go home!" I assured her that we'd be out soon, and held her hand. We wove through the maze of plywood partitions, and eventually got out.
Total time in the house, about five minutes. That's even more expensive than those parking lot 'carnivals' that pop up outside K-Mart. For five minutes, Kelly and I could ride the mini-roller coaster for a couple of bucks.
Kelly's verdict is that she never, ever wants to do a haunted house again! She blames the fact that she needed to go to the bathroom (even though she went before we left) for her emotional overload. She could have handled ghouls if she hadn't been drained already by bodily distractions.
Oh well, I'm proud of her for trying something new. Looking forward to Halloween tomorrow night!
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:34 PM
Through a Glass...
One benefit of age seems to be improved vision. Recently I went to get a vision checkup since I wanted to replace my eyeglasses (required for driving by the State of Oregon). The old ones were scratched and worn.
My eye doctor commented that my vision had changed, and was good enough to pass the vehicle vision requirements. "This often happens in the mid-forties." So she suggested I retest, but filled my prescription for new driving glasses anyway.
Several weeks passed, me wearing the new glasses and getting used to them. But this morning before work, I drove to the DMV and waited in line. When I explained to the clerk what I wanted, she fairly tread on my words: "put your head here, read the letters on the fourth line." I did, and she jumped in again: "that's it, you pass."
So after a bit more work, and $21, I got a new driver's license: eyeglass restriction removed. I'm still getting used to not reaching for my glasses. Even after I drove down to work without them on, when I got out of the car, I tried to take them off! Wonder how long it will take to get used to them not being there?
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:07 AM
October 08, 2003
I got a call from my Dad last night. He'd been scheduled for followup tests due to the irregular rhythm of his heart. They checked him out, and found that all chambers look healthy. Then they applied a shock designed to resynch his heartbeat. Apparently it worked the first time. So all is well on the paternal front.
Posted by dpwakefield at 10:57 AM
September 26, 2003
Another 'I forgot to mention.' The small string of tests following my annual physical included a visit to a urologist because my regular blood test included higher than average PSA levels. The urologist ran a blood test specifically designed to scrutinize PSA, and just got back to me recently. Result, my levels are perfectly normal, and the original reading was in error.
So that's it. All my health metrics are normal, and I'm good for another year!
Which reminds me, I've got to call my Dad up and find out how his round of tests have been going...
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:15 AM
September 21, 2003
Times Tables and Tears
Kelly is enduring the times tables. She's got to know them for the state tests by the end of the school year, and so the teacher is asking parents to help. So far, Kelly hasn't broken out in tears over the ordeal. No, she is much better at passive resistance, audible sighs, and frustrated subvocalized monologues.
She's got my sympathy. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in my maternal grandmother's bedroom in Washington, D.C. while my mother grilled me with flashcards, over and over. I remember the sunlight streaming through the curtains with a subdued light. And I remember wishing I was outside climbing trees with Junior, my friend from across the street. I certainly cried. It was deeply frustrating to me, and felt like an inquisition, rather than a learning experience. Rote memorization is sometimes necessary, sometimes helpful, but rarely enjoyable.
But Kelly seems to get it more quickly than I did, so I'm heartened that she won't suffer too much. Retention is a problem, though, which means that she'll keep getting periodic quizzes long into the school year. Good luck, kid!
Posted by dpwakefield at 11:00 AM
I went for my increasingly favorite bike ride yesterday, a loop from home out to 65th via Frobase Road, and back via Norwood. I've gotten so I can do the route in 33 minutes, which is not bad considering that my bike isn't really a road bike.
I was enjoying the fresh air and scenery, and cresting the final hill on Frobase before it intersects 65th, when I saw an old guy driving a tractor from his house out to a field. Feeling friendly and pumped up from my ride, I gave him a hearty wave. He slowed down, leaned out of his seat, and yelled "why don't you stay home?"
Well, I was non-plussed, to say the least. This was a dash of cold water on my happy little trip. Still, I was back in the mood within a couple of minutes, and completed my ride home without incident.
On reflection, I can only guess that he has seen the land around him claimed by McMansions (the stretch of 65th between Tualatin and Wilsonville has several large houses with what I call 'tax farms' on them -- the owners growing a small crop to satisfy zoning regs while allowing them to have a house with a lot of land around it), probably seen his own property taxes escalate, and is bitter.
It reminds me of a farmer with a dwindling plot of land in the middle of Lake Grove (offshoot of Lake Oswego). Jean and I would talk to him occasionally when we lived in the apartments there, and he was unabashedly bitter. He felt the encroaching city which was eating away at his farm was a (capital C) Communist plot, that the local government had been taken over by Reds, and generally ranted until we extricated ourselves.
I'm sympathetic, really. I don't like disruptive change in my own life, and these guys are the epitome of gradual change. Granted that the smart farmer is always evaluating new crop techniques, being a good steward of the land, and more than I have any insight into. But most of these small farm owners are members of farming families. I don't think too many folk today decide to buy a farm and start a business. So if you grew up on a farm, planned to do farming for a living, and got gobbled up by urban sprawl, well, bitter doesn't describe it by half.
My own profession is being encroached on by globalization. I hope firstly that I can continue to educate myself in a way that will keep my skills in demand as many software jobs shift overseas. I hope secondly that if I need to jump to some other job to meet the shifting demands of life, that I can do it without nursing a bitter regret.
Posted by dpwakefield at 10:42 AM
September 14, 2003
Or, "How Our Tuna Bill Doubled in One Week."
Kelly bugs us on and off for a pet. We say no. Allergies are the main problem, though I for one am still sad about Grendl passing away (even though she lasted a record twenty some years, outrageously long for a cat).
We tried a goldfish, and went through three before we acknowledged that we couldn't figure out the equation. We've talked about potential outdoor pets, perhaps pigeons, maybe a rabbit hutch, but no action has been taken. I really don't want to be stuck with most of these animals, and either Jean or I would end up taking care of them. So I feel, anyway.
We do get visits from the neighborhood cats, though. One in particular is a beautiful orange tabby. Rather large, I don't know the gender as I've not gotten close to it. I expected it to be skittish, so I never put out the effort to go outside and greet it. It has been napping under our apple tree, and whenever I see it, I point it out to Jean and Kelly.
Now Kelly has begun going out and visiting with the cat, and has gotten to the point where she will feed it some tuna, pet it and play with it. Today they were trundling about the back yard, Kelly dragging some string behind her, the cat following and occasionally making a grab for the string.
For now I'm totally happy. Kelly 'gets' a pet, we get to avoid our allergies. I'm hoping this will fulfill Kelly's needs, rather than aggravating them. Crossing my fingers!
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:15 PM
Buns of Oatmeal
I took my bike out today, and on a lark decided to see how close to work I could get in a half hour. Once I reached 30 minutes, I thought, I'd turn back and do another 30 getting home.
Now my bike is not a road bike but a Frankenstein combo of mountain bike frame and hybrid road/dirt tires. I've been riding in a big loop outside of Tualatin, which if I do not dawdle, takes me around 35 minutes. So I was stretching a little to plan on a round trip which would take an hour.
Anywho, I took a nice backroad which had less traffic, and discovered that it's mostly downhill between Tualatin and Wilsonville if you take this route. I clocked 30 minutes, and was so close to my office that I just finished the ride. Thirty-two minutes total. I called Jean and let her know what I'd done (what have you DONE?!?!?).
Now I realized that the return trip would, by reversing conditions, be mostly uphill, so I let her know that I'd be a little late getting home. But. It wasn't only uphill, there was a strong headwind all the way home. My left gluteus had already been complaining, but I grit my teeth and pedalled away. And I got home in 39 minutes! I surprised myself. Total bike time, 1:11.
Now I'm listening to the gentle nagging of mah butt muscle, taking me to task for overstepping my bounds. Who knows what it will feel like in the morning. But for now, it feels great.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:30 PM
September 08, 2003
Today is the nineteenth anniversary of my wedding to Jean. We're going to celebrate in some fashion this weekend. More importantly to me, the fourth week of September is the period when Jean and I truly got serious about a relationship, and when I committed to love her forever. That anniversary is running twenty-one years.
Jean, you've made my life so much better than it would have been otherwise, and in fact, than it had been before I met you. Thanks for being my partner and my best friend.
September 07, 2003
I Are a Plumber
Our hallway bathroom sink has been developing a steadily worsening drip, until it got to the point that I was twiddling the knob to try to reduce the trickle to a drip. I'd come into the bathroom to use it at night and hear a sinister wheeze, like a tracheotomy patient hiding in a porcelain bucket. About that time I'd had enough.
I started working up to suggesting we call a plumber, as I hate, hate handyman jobs with a passion. But Jean asked a couple questions, I guess directed at fully informing the hypothetical plumber, and one thing led to another, and she ended up emailing her dad for hints on how to repair a leaky faucet.
I actually tried taking the faucet apart following the general directions he sent back, and eventually emerged with a valve affair that channelled the water to the faucet. But I couldn't for the life of me see how it could be causing a drip or decaying in any way similar to that described by Jean's dad.
So I took the whole affair to the hardware store, only they were closed. Now my stubbornness gene kicked in, and I drove to Home Depot to see if I could find a replacement there. They had maybe five valves that looked similar enough to mine that they might do.
I waited around to talk to somebody from their plumbing department, and he pointed out that there was a rubber gasket and spring in each of the blister packages, that wasn't in my collection of parts. I bought one he recommended, and drove home. After a bit of fiddling, I discovered that there was such a spring/gasket in the faucet, just not readily apparent.
I pried it out, eased the new ones in, replaced the valve, and put the whole thing back together. The steady trickle was gone! After some careful watching, I noticed that there was still a drip, just much smaller and slower. Turning off the cold water supply made it go away. Darn, they were both leaking, with the hot water faucet making the majority of the racket.
Saturday after grocering, we stopped at True Value Hardware, and I was feeling confident enough to buy just the spring/gasket replacement, rather than the entire valve. And it worked! Sunday morning, the sink was bone dry, proof that the leak was gone, or so slow that evaporation outpaced it.
If this seems like a long and tedious tale of something trivial, bear in mind that I'm not the handy type. Besides learning how to do this simple task, I also learned one more thing. Some items at True Value cost more than twice what they do at Home Depot. Still, True Value is closer to home by ten minutes, so I'll still give 'em my business out of laziness.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:39 PM
September 01, 2003
The Return of Weird Science
We had another blind taste test yesterday. This one catered more to Kelly's interests than mine, as it was a test of dark chocolates. Jean bought seven brands of chocolate at the store, and then chopped them up into anonymous pieces, each in lettered muffin cups. The choices were:
The Private Selection brand appears to be a no-name brand from Germany repackaged for supermarkets. The seventh flavor was Dove Chocolate, slipped through the cracks of the initial taste test, and was introduced 'unblinded' after the fact. Oops!
Jean asked Kelly if she wanted to write her name on the form, and Kelly decided that if the chocolates were to be hidden, she would be too, so instead she chose a pseudonym. Trouble is, I can't remember it now, and she didn't write it down. Here's her rankings, anyway:
- C 'very very'
- B 'very'
- A 'good'
- F 'sortu'
- G (the Dove)
- E 'is bad'
Sweetest: C. Strongest chocolate taste: D. Which would you buy: B.
Jean chose the reviewer name 'Windswept' and ranked things this way:
Sweetest: C. Strongest chocolate taste: D. Which would you buy: D, maybe E.
My reviewer name was 'Neo', and I my ranking was:
- C 'Another waxy, malty! Mild aftertaste'
- F 'Another trace of malt, more chocolatey, sweet'
- D 'Mildly bitter, flat, no wax, some aftertaste'
- B 'Not so waxy, more "milky"'
- A 'Some degree of wax, aftertaste, but cocoa is there'
- E 'No real character, almost like eating chocolate "air"'
Sweetest: F. Strongest chocolate taste: A. Which would you buy: C, F, G.
There was a lot of variability, but there were two votes for C and two votes for G in the top ranks, so Dove and Private Selection Milk Chocolate seem to have the best standing.
This has been a Consumer's Union report.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:52 AM
August 31, 2003
Atsa My Dad
Got a picture in the mail the other day, which moved me to get my flatbed scanner and copy of Photoshop 6 working with my iLamp. I did the scan, and now you can see him in the banner photo. Be sure to click on it to see the full image, taken at Lake Louise, Alberta, in July 2003.
Posted by dpwakefield at 01:01 PM
August 29, 2003
Peek a Boo!
Okay, I decided a banner shot might be a little TMI, so instead, I've made you a little click-through in case you're the morbid type and wanna see my colon snapshots. Soooo, click here!
August 28, 2003
Back From the Maw
The actual procedure of a colonoscopy is much like a flexible sigmoidoscopy, only more so. Whereas the flex-sig was walk-in, bend over, walk out, this time I got hooked up to an EKG, an automatic blood pressure cuff, some sort of finger sensor, and an IV.
They gave me something that made me woozy but did not put me out. The procedure was uncomfortable, sometimes very much so, but it was over soon. It's a good hour and a half afterwards, and I still remember what went on, so I don't think I'm going to have the memory lapse some folks experience with this sedative.
The verdict: completely healthy colon, no polyps! Due to the family history, Dr. Lobiz wants me to do one every five years, but that may back off over time if they continue to find nothing. Anyway, that's behind me.
And I got pictures! If you're 'lucky' I'll scan 'em in and post them as a banner photo where you can't help but notice them.
I'd say that the prep-work (fasting, flushing the colon) was more irritating and inconvenient than the actual procedure. Now I'm rehydrating as fast as I can drink tumblers of water. So until next time, adieu!
August 27, 2003
Not Even Stale Bread
It's now been over 25 hours since my last solid food. I've crammed a lot of fluids, including white grape juice and Gatorade, but not any good stuff. And tomorrow I only get water. And then only until noon. Why? Because tomorrow afternoon is my friendly colonoscopy. Or as I like to call it, a visit with the snake doctor.
Part of the prep work includes cleansing my system, so no solids, sodium phosphate drinks to flush the system, and lots of quality time at home! I surprised myself, however, and had a very productive work day, working remote from home. As I've experienced in the past, if I don't actually need to interact with anyone else, the distraction factor is really low.
I'll try working tomorrow a.m., if I'm not feeling too spacey. I've logged a backlog of hours just for this occasion, so I may not even need to declare any vacation time for this, though I'm keeping track...
I don't know if I'll be in any shape to write anything up tomorrow evening, and they tell me that the meds affect your short-term memory, so I may not even be able to give a first-hand account if I want to. Cross your fingers. I know you're all waiting with baited breath.
August 17, 2003
I didn't hold out any hope that Driftwood Shores would have a broadband connection, and they don't. All they have is a 'data port' on the phone, which means, "dial long distance to your ISP", so I'll be keeping my notes on this trip offline and posting them in one big chunk when I get back.
We left for Florence around noon, and got here shortly after 3pm, as expected. The hotel is pretty nice, we're on the top floor, and have an ocean view. We've just been taking it easy, snacking in the hotel room. Kelly spent around an hour down on the beach diving into the waves, building sand castles, the like. I took around twenty pictures on the beach, including one of a person riding a horse, and a few of a genuine timberwolf, a domesticated animal from a local petting zoo. I knew when I saw it that it wasn't an ordinary dog, and when it came up, friendly as can be, I said, "wow, look at the shoulders on that thing!" Definitely not a dog's.
Kelly didn't get enough splashing in the water, so Jean took her to the hotel pool, and I stretched out because my back was bothering me. I ended up falling asleep, but I still woke up in time to walk over to the pool and watch Kelly swim for awhile. I brought a library book, Masters of Doom, about John Romero and John Carmack, the founders of id Software. Now we're just sitting in the room waiting for Kelly to konk out, and I just finished watching episode 23 of Groove Adventure Rave on my laptop. I'll spend a half hour or so reading, then konk out myself. Later.
Did the dunes today. We mainly went to the coastal dunes, rather than the ones frequented by the dune buggy crowd. I went for a walk in the morning to try to get some exercise, but it turns out I didn't need to worry, as Kelly had me running up and down steep thirty foot dunes most of the morning.
Then we went off to Old Town Florence and walked around for awhile, finally settling in for lunch at a little Italian hole in the wall. Kelly had the 'appetizer' pizza, but it was huge.
In the afternoon we went back to the hotel and let Kelly play on the beach. I'm so sick of bright sunlight, literally. I got a minor sunburn, but my constitution just doesn't sit well with all that sun. In the hour we were outside, I probably got a week's worth of sunlight.
Kelly didn't get enough water though, and ended up back in the hotel pool. After an hour of that, we went back to the room, where Jean and I practiced our cha-cha while Kelly relaxed. Now we're all zoning. After I help Kelly clean her teeth (new braces!) I'm probably gonna watch another episode of Rave...
We've enjoyed ourselves, and are nevertheless ready to go home. I am already half-packed, and planning on showering tonight so that I can just pop into my day clothes in the morning and leave.
Today we went to the sea lion caves, and I tried taking a few pictures. I expect that they'll all be either underexposed (the cave shots) or too far away (the cliff shots). But at least I tried. Then we went to Heceta Head Light House, which was just up the coast. It is named after Bruno Heceta (Heh SEE tah), a Spanish explorer who surveyed the Pacific coast. Finally, we visited the Pioneer Museum, which was more a collection of artifacts from the long history of Oregon and the U.S. than an organized museum. I even found an Osborne computer, a 'portable' I remember lusting after in my larval stage as a programmer. It ran C/PM and was considered a business computer, having a tiny screen which was sufficient for a few rows or columns of a spreadsheet.
This evening we had dinner at Mo's Seafood Restaurant, and now Kelly and Jean are down at the beach while I write this note. Next entry will most likely be back in Tualatin...
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:44 PM
August 10, 2003
I almost forgot to mention this, but Jean, Kelly and I are going to the coast . We're staying in Florence, Oregon, and it is such a relief to be able to drive to a vacation spot for a change. No eight hour ride in the bus that has no rest stops (i.e. airliner), no sharp sinus pains on descent to the airport, no checking and unchecking bags. Can you tell I hate travel?
So we're driving out and taking things at our own pace. I'm packing books and my laptop, and probably video games, for those quiet evenings. The room has a kitchen, so we'll be preparing most of our own food (another problem with most travel, restaurant food tends to make me feel pretty crappy after a couple of days).
Posted by dpwakefield at 10:06 PM
Apparently there's some kind of promotional campaign to sell more pig meat. Jean and I were driving on I-205 today and I read aloud from a billboard: "Time flies when you're having pork."
Jean looked up in time to see the billboard, and said, "What? That's not even ... stupid!"
Another sale lost...
Posted by dpwakefield at 04:48 PM
July 29, 2003
Annual Physical Part II
I had the second part of my physical today. My sister kindly supplied some family medical history, and as a result, Dr. Selby decided that I should have a precautionary colonoscopy. Oh joy, a visit to the snake doctor!
My bloodwork looked pretty good to fine, with two exceptions. My LDL cholesterol is 130, which is right on the borderline between wonderful and flirting with trouble. Dr. Selby says that all my other bloodwork, my good blood pressure, physical fitness, etc. mean it is nothing to worry about as yet.
The other abnormality is something of a matter of definition. They ran a PSA test, and it came back 3.3. If the test had been evaluated a week ago, I'd have passed. The passing range was 0 - 4.0. But the eggheads have narrrowed the range to 0 - 2.6 as of last Wednesday, so I now get to have a prostate ultrasound. This is (at this stage) just a precautionary test. Dr. Selby said that if they did find a prostate cancer at this stage, successful treatment and full recovery are 95%. As of now, it is very unlikely that I've anything of the sort. I'm not worried, just harried that I have to line these tests up.
Amusingly, I totally flaked on the numbers initially when reporting to Jean, and I told her my cholesterol was 300. She was shocked. After quickly checking the handout Dr. Selby had given me, I realized that there was a 3 and a 0 in there, so I was sorta right.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:42 PM
July 27, 2003
This weekend Kelly asked what a pedophile is, after overhearing the word on the news. Jean explained it, and we both chimed in with "this is one reason why we don't want you to take rides, candy and what not from strangers." I'm afraid we sorta rode that horse into the ground, but as Jean explained, "we repeat this sort of thing not because it's all that likely to happen, but so you'll remember the right things to do in the rare event that it does happen." (By the way, that's me channeling for Jean -- she doesn't really talk that way).
Then I went off on the tangent about training for disaster (you learn CPR by repetition so you don't have to think about it when you need it; you practice what to do if your clothes catch fire [stop, drop and roll] because when it happens to you, you'll likely be panicked and unable to reason, so you want your reflexes to be right). Then, since I was worried that all this talk about sinister strangers would give Kelly nightmares, which are rarely productive, I threw in a curve:
"If you don't practice your emergency instructions enough, you might get them mixed up, too. So when a stranger drives up and offers you a ride, you'll panic, search your brain frantically for the right response, and shout 'Stop, drop and roll!'" I illustrated with a little roll across the carpet.
Kelly started cracking up, and added, "then you could roll away from the bad guy!"
Am I a bad man for not wanting my daughter to have nightmares? I doubt it, but I don't have emergency instructions for this sort of thing.
July 16, 2003
Pains of Parenting
This was my evening for self-paced study, usually computer science, sometimes electronic design automation. I'd just done a run for one of my major vices, a medium Wendy's Frosty, and settled in to do my thing. Then I noticed the blinking message icon on my phone. It was Jean. She had received notice that Kelly was going to be in a play at her summer day camp tonight. The notice was not only short, but imprecise. Jean wasn't exactly sure when it would happen--"six or seven."
So I finished eating my dinner, brushed my teeth, and headed north to Willowbrook to see if indeed there was a performance going on. I found Jean, sitting on a towel in a clearing with several dozen other parents and grandparents. Kids were milling about, but Kelly was not visible yet. The theme was Greek myth, and we were treated to many loose interpretations of fables and plays, seemingly endless. Kelly had a small speaking part as the goddess Athena, gifting a mortal with a mirrored shield, and a few minor participatory roles such as being one of the dead folk in Hades.
Before it was all over I was bored to tears. I would have been happy to pop in for Kelly's parts and otherwise disappear. This is the curse of parenthood. The folks in charge pad their audience with unwilling participants by giving each child a small role, then trapping us all for the largely uninteresting acting of children.
Kelly fell into her bad girl ways, playing with a younger girl in the background of the stage when all the other children were sitting quietly, at most fidgeting. She was climbing on boxes, standing up on top of them and staring out into the audience, crawling around and generally being a distraction. At least she wasn't also shouting or talking over the dialogue. We had a rather severe talk with her after we got home.
One of my web friends told me that when she was young, she was 'whacked' for behavior that was winked at when displayed by boys in her class. She wanted to know if this was happening to Kelly. The answer, I think, is no. This play had many boys on hand, many of them younger than Kelly, yet they all managed to limit themselves to minor fidgeting, rather than leaping about in the background and being visibly disruptive. It's true that there is a danger of school officials trying to make Kelly act 'more like a girl', while allowing more leeway to boys, but I don't think that is the case here.
So I got two hits of pain tonight. Once sitting through the endless play, and once watching Kelly react to that same endless play in a manner more childish than many of her younger fellow campers.
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:55 PM
July 15, 2003
Annual Physical I
Had part one of my annual physical (though I dropped the ball last year) this morning. Mostly they drew blood and went over risk factors for males of my age. I'll get the results of the blood test in a couple of days, then have the actual poking and prodding visit in two weeks.
One issue, for medical history purposes, I need to get the 'official' cause of death for my mother. Maybe my sister can fill me in?
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:35 AM
July 11, 2003
My friend Tom questions my bald-faced assertion that I write this weblog for myself. Allow me to elaborate:
There are several ways to interpret 'write for myself'. My primary reason for writing here is to keep my rudimentary skills fresh, so that I can write with a certain degree of clarity at work, and at home when I need to. In that sense I'm writing for myself, practicing the adage "sharpen the saw."
I do write this weblog with the expectation that perhaps my sister will read it once in awhile and thereby be apprised of what's happening around our homestead. But I know darn well she doesn't care what anime or Hong Kong movies I've watched recently, so if I were just writing for her, those articles would be absent.
Do I write differently than I would if I didn't suspect that some unnamed reader's sensibilties would be offended? Yes and no. Yes, this is my 'Disney' weblog, open to the public. So it's gonna be clean, clean, clean. But fact is, if I didn't write here, I wouldn't write anywhere, so in that sense nobody is driving me to write 'differently'.
Finally, I know maybe two people who read this weblog semi-regularly who are not family members. In both cases, it was more of an accident than an intention that they read. If others read more than one post, welcome. But they are unknown to me, and faceless, cannot color my writing.
Ipso facto, I write for myself. Take that, Tom!
July 05, 2003
Posted by dpwakefield at 06:10 PM
June 25, 2003
Posted by dpwakefield at 01:32 PM
June 20, 2003
Kelly is Eight!
My daughter reached the big 8.0 today. Congratulations Kelly!
First present was opened this morning: Hamtaro: Ham Ham Heartbreak.
She was playing it when I left for work this morning. I don't know how many more she'll open today, as I think Jean is taking some of them with her on the plane to Michigan tomorrow. I'm driving Jean and Kelly to the airport tomorrow morning. Miss 'em already.
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:29 AM
June 10, 2003
Routine Shift Coming
I've got a block of time alone coming up. In a way I look forward to it, as I get some time to waste in ways I choose. Realistically, my experience is that after a couple of days, I'll be wandering the house looking for distractions. I always complain about the routines which command my day, but I miss Jean and Kelly when they are not around.
Jean and Kelly are going to Michigan to visit Jean's parents, so I've got the house to myself from Saturday afternoon, June 21st, through Sunday, June 30th. Ideas for things to do:
- Do extra work on a project at my job (timely, as I've got high demand on my time right now)
- Watch all my Hong Kong movie DVDs in evening marathons
- Study up on Mac OS X programming
- Play all my PS2 games and Mac games until I puke
- Visit Tom/Alan
- Clean house (don't laugh, I actually did a lot of that during their last trip without me)
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:22 PM
June 05, 2003
My back has been giving me pain of late, conveniently getting worse after 1am or sometimes 3am. So I wake up and try to find a comfortable position, but sleep is hard to come by. It seems my lot in life is to find out how little sleep a human can get by on, long term.
Anyway, a typical mental habit of mine while lying awake and dealing with discomfort is to replay a song in my head. Usually, when very tired, I end up playing a single lyric over and over, often degenerating to a single verse. When my neural twitch problems were at their height, this led to my totally ruining my enjoyment of an album I had recently bought, Prolonging the Magic by Cake.
So last night I'm bouncing back and forth between thoughts about my back and music I've been listening to recently, and eventually fall into the rut of bopping over the same lyric over and over, when I suddenly realize what it is I'm 'singing': In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning as sung by Frank Sinatra.
Posted by dpwakefield at 07:28 AM
June 03, 2003
A couple of nights ago, I went through the evening routine, making sure Kelly took her shower, helping her get the tangles out of her hair, toothbrushing, then a half hour watching Mahou Tsukai Tai. Then off to bed, and time for Daddy to work on his own tasks.
However, not ten minutes passed after I put Kelly to bed before she came into the den. "Daddy, I'm scared."
I'm sorry to confess that I was annoyed. It seems that two out of every three nights Kelly complains about being scared, and I'm convinced that it's just a ploy to stay up later. So initially I was brusque. "What are you scared about? What do you want me to do about it? Hasn't Mom worked with you on how to overcome your fears?" That sort of thing. So I sent her off to bed again.
After a bit, I got over my annoyance and went into her room to check on her. "I'm still scared Daddy."
"So what are you scared about?" I asked.
"I don't want to talk about it because it makes me more scared."
Annoyed again: "I can't really help you if I don't know what's scaring you."
After a pause, Kelly finally shared her fear. She's going on a 'field trip' to 7-11 with her class in a couple of days. I'd make a crack about budget cuts, but I understand this is just an end-of-the-school-year treat for the kids. They're all gonna get Slurpees.
Anyway, some kid named Ally told her a spooky story about the walk-in freezer at 7-11. Apparently, the story says it's haunted, and it snares children with it's power cord and drags them inside to freeze to death. "I know it's just a ghost story, but it still scares me."
So now I've finally got my fingers on the Boogieman, and I'm not so frustrated. "Kelly, you're right. This is just a story, and you know the difference between fiction and real life. In fact, so long as you stay with your teachers, about the worst thing that can happen to you when you're at 7-11 is that you'll drink your Slurpee too fast and get..."
"Brain Freeze!" Kelly's hand whips up and grabs her forehead.
"Right. Now that's pretty nasty, but nothing to be scared of. Even I have had brain freeze before. I was even trying to go slow, but this shake was so cold that even little sips were enough to give me brain freeze..."
I paused a moment and then began to demonstrate: "sip ... ow ... sip ... ow ... sip ... make it stop! ... sip ... ow!"
By this time Kelly was giggling, and soon she was joining in on the silliness. I got her calmed down and said goodnight. Checking on her maybe a half hour later, she was asleep.
That felt good.
May 31, 2003
All About Kelly
I'm happy to report that while Kelly's teeth have been coming in unexpectedly fast, crowding out her baby teeth, she is in good shape. This according to a dentist who specializes in kids' teeth development. He assured Jean that he doesn't like to pull teeth, and thinks that he can save all her adult teeth. She's going into braces soon, and will be in braces or retainers for three years or so. I'll report further when she gets fitted. On the bright side, at least two leading female cartoon characters that she watches regularly wear braces!
Behaviorally she's a bit on the deficit side. We had a conference with her teachers yesterday, and while I'm sure they tend to overemphasize conformance, they seemed genuinely concerned that Kelly isn't bonding with her classmates, and is given to arguing everything.
I'm joining the dreaded line of soccer moms on Monday and dropping her off at the crosswalk (which I find very annoying). This is because her school counselor wants Kelly to come in with her fellow students instead of being escorted by Dad.
In addition, Kelly is going to see a kid counselor to help her work on being more of a 'team player'. Come Fall, we'll be having another meeting with the teachers to set measurable goals.
Another light note: Kelly cleaned out enough of the junk pile in her room to make space for the old Powermac 8500 that's been displaced from my room. I spent the better part of the day moving hardware around, vacuuming dusty corners, and rearranging furniture. The den looks a bit tidier, and Kelly has a computer of her own.
I dismantled some modular wire shelves in the den, and Kelly put them back together herself for her room. Of course, there's really no place to put it, so she put it in front of another shelf in her room. There's now approximately one postage stamp's worth of standing room in her bedroom.
Finally, I took a second shower to get all the grunge off. When I took off my shirt, all I smelled was dust! Ugghhh!
And I did all this lowly sysadmin crap with a strained back. Am I a moron or what?
May 21, 2003
I Can't Win
I've been warning Kelly for weeks now that she ought to clear a space in her room if she wanted to inherit the Powermac 8500 when I replaced it with the new iMac. The idea is to give her ready access to a machine to play Freddy Fish and Putt Putt games when the kitchen computer is tied up, since I have no intention of letting her install a bunch of games on my new computer.
So I was searching for something on the Internet (the lyrics to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", if you must know), when Kelly walks in and says "I'll take that computer when you want to get rid of it!"
April 25, 2003
I've been in a really head-down mode at work, so I've had little energy for posting at the end of the day. So just a short note to say I'm okay.
Kelly and I saw Spirited Away last weekend, and she was really impressed by it. I already knew I would be, and I wasn't disappointed. Definitely more fun than the previous Kelly movie, Piglet's Big Movie.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:14 AM
April 01, 2003
"OK, this paragraph, I really like this clause, I think I'm going to steal it and use it in my own contracts." Pause. He reaches for a red pen and crosses out the paragraph. "But you're not signing it."
Posted by dpwakefield at 01:24 PM
March 31, 2003
Kelly inherited one of those free-standing room air filters from me a year or so ago when I bought a larger one for the den. Now it will occasionally go into a thrashing fit and wake her up -- I guess the bearings are going on the fan. I told Kelly that she'd have to live without a filter, since it was just an inherited hand-me-down anyway.
"I can't sleep without a fan now. 'Cause otherwise I lose sleep with the explanation cycle."
"What," I said, "is an explanation cycle?"
"Well, it's when I get woken up by a noise in the middle of the night, and I'm scared, and I have to think about what caused the noise, so I can go asleep. I can only go back to sleep when I've explained what made the noise."
So the explanation cycle is the list of likely causes for a nighttime noise she goes through until she finds a suitable explanation, and can go back to sleep. I'm going to add this to the Kelly lexicon.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:57 PM
Oh, and the washer smelled like it was burning this weekend, and the dishwasher makes a funny whining noise. On the plus side, Jean found the GBA SP at Toys 'R' Us for $99.99 and bought one each for me and Tom. So it's not all clouds .
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:51 PM
I forgot to mention, that before the garage incident raised it's ugly ... door, we already had a pending life interruption event. With the warm weather have come the ants. And they are appearing in our house without a visible entry point. The bug guy is supposed to come this Thursday. So before we could even resolve one of those little interruptions of life, another has queued up. Gotta love that stinkin' home ownership.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:48 PM
Life As Interruption
Here I was all excited that tonight was my first night returning to the routine of studying topics on my own after work. I'd been out of my office in a meeting, and when I returned, I found a message on my phone. It was Jean. "Can you come home? There's something wrong with my garage door, and I need you to see if you can fix it."
Jean and I have been together for twenty years, and she still makes this fundamental mistake. She thinks that because I'm a guy, I have some magical ability to make hardware work. Despite numerous examples over the years to the contrary. When we first bought our current house, she bought a faucet set for the bathroom, and asked me to install it for her. I basically laughed at her -- politely. "Fine, I'll do it myself!" That afternoon I got a phone call at work. Jean wanted to know if it was okay if she called a plumber to install the faucet.
So it goes. I drove home, looked at the garage door, and by examining the other door, was able to spin a theory of what had gone wrong. Two cables had snapped that attached to the bottom of the door on one end, and to a large, evil-looking spring at the top. I guessed that the spring cancelled out most of the weight of the door. On my door, which was still okay, and newer than the broken one, was a tag: "Warning, trying to mess with this spring will get you killed. Call a professional."
Below it was a phone number for the local garage door company. I called them up and the receptionist said she'd have somebody call me tomorrow. God I feel so masculine!
Anyway, this fits the pattern I've observed before. I told Jean about it. The pattern goes like this: something goes wrong that requires a repair, an interruption to your day, or both. You take care of it, and think, "that's over." But it isn't. Life is actually marked by a series of interruptions. Just get used to it.
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:46 PM
March 17, 2003
Kelly wanted to wear green today, though I doubt there's an iota of Irish in our bloodlines. So what did she wear? The green shirt and shorts she wore as Peter Pan on Halloween. The green shirt and shorts she wore as a Daisy in her school recital just last week. It's good to get mileage out of clothes that we bought for a Halloween costume months ago. And it's a bit bemusing to see how quickly she's filled out the shirt that once hung so loosely on her, only four, five months ago...
Posted by dpwakefield at 08:52 AM
March 11, 2003
Kelly's fever is down, but not gone (99.6), Jean's is lower as well. She says she feels much better than yesterday, though still draggy.
My cold blossomed in the evening, though it is still a non-fever annoyance. Cross your fingers. I'm walking the razor's edge. I took cough medicine last night to control my coughing enough to sleep. But cough medicine dries out my sinuses, which in my case can lead to sinus infections. So during the day I take Guaifed to promote sinus drainage, flushing the bacteria before they can get a foothold (cilia-hold?).
'Twas a fun evening, running around preparing snacks and fluids for two sick women. I only got to my own dinner around 7pm. I think tonight will be easier. Well, back to work!
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:15 AM
March 10, 2003
Well, I'm at work, but Jean isn't. She woke up with a fever. So I got Kelly breakfast, offered to get something for Jean, then headed out. I still feel like I have a cold, but my temperature is normal so far. Again, cross those fingers...
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:28 AM
March 09, 2003
It's been quite a weekend. On Friday, Jean's parents arrived for a weekend visit. They visit us at least once a year, usually around February or March. See, annually, they vacation in Maui for a few weeks over the winter. It's their version of being Snow Birds. And so, each year, they stop in Oregon, either on their way to Hawaii (February), or returning from Hawaii (March). This year they caught us on the return leg.
Kelly of course was thrilled. She really enjoys visiting with the grandparents, who are more tolerant of her manipulations than Mom and Dad. I worked Friday so I don't really know what they did, but I'm sure they had a great time together. Saturday morning, Jean, her parents and Kelly went to the YMCA to see Kelly swim, and I did the grocery shopping. In the afternoon Kelly and I spent some time together before I took off for NOVA.
The NOVA meeting was typical, with the usual favorite show and the usual hobnobbing. Tom gave away a pile of anime, as he is moving into his new house soon, and doesn't need to move more stuff. After the meeting we went to his apartment. I planned to go right home after the meeting, to continue my rehabilitation of sleep patterns, but Tom insisted that I at least come over for a little bit. It seems that they had a new game they wanted to show me...
Steel Battallion has got to be the geekiest anime-inspired game on the face of the planet. Within anime there is a sub-genre which is very popular with a certain kind of geek. The same kind of geek who played micro-armor wargames in years past, I suspect. Examples of the genre in question include Gundam, Macross, and more recently, Full Metal Panic.
These are military drama shows, where tanks are replaced by giant mechanical armored suits, equipped with all the latest in firepower. Sometimes the pilots of these suits move them over the ground like tanks, other times they fly through space like spacecraft. These mecha figure prominently in the stories, but usually the stories are much more complex than simply mechanical jousting matches. But there are plenty of those.
I apologize if I've misrepresented the genre, but it's never really been my cup of tea, even after so many years of exposure by dedicated fans like James Tilton. Sorry James. Back to the game. Steel Battallion first made a splash when it's custom controller was introduced. This thing has dozens of switches, two joysticks, each festooned with triggers and buttons, a driveshift, and radio controls. At your feet sit three foot controls. Once the game starts, you have a visual representation of gauges, video screens and other cockpit instrumentation that would make a 767 pilot dizzy. In the center of the screen is the view out into the battle field.
I was very amused by the gameplay. Whenever there is a human, such as a drill instructor, on screen, what you see is a still image. Only in battle does the screen come to life. Then you get the most detailed simulation of mecha combat you could ever hope for. The care and love lavished on simulating this neverland scenario is absolutely stunning. So. No human animation, but plenty of rich mechanical combat animation. Hence the label of 'geeky'. Only an obsessed mecha geek could lavish the care and detail on this game that is evident. Oh, and the price for the whole game (with controller) puts it into that special place as well: $200.
Enough of that. I stayed until about 10:30, leaving much earlier than I would if I were not nursing my health. I got home, planning to go straight to bed. But the lights were on in the hallway, and Jean came out to greet me. Seems that Kelly had come down with a fever suddenly sometime after I left. Jean decided to let me enjoy my night out, so she didn't call me. It's a funny coincidence, but Bob, a coworker who also does the NOVA thing, was very sick with some kind of flu. I wonder if it's the same one.
Kelly doesn't appear to be in mortal danger, but we spent the entire day (it's Sunday evening as I write this) lounging around the house and pushing fluids at her. By this evening, when Jean's parents were leaving, both Jean and I had coughs and scratchy throats. Cross your fingers that no one else gets this flu thingy...
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:02 PM
March 01, 2003
I was taking a 'withdrawal inventory' in the wee hours of the morning, during one of my wakeful periods, and I'd say, discounting sleep irregularities, I'm better than 90% recovered:
- My weight loss has stabilized, and I've even gained some of it back. Since I don't want to pursue the bad karma of losing weight by Lorazepam withdrawal, I'm fine with going all the way back up to where I was before this fiasco, but I think I'll probably retain some of the trimback. For instance, my morning body fat percentage seems to be a pretty steady 18.5%, where it was closer to 19-20 pre-crash.
- My appetite is more or less entirely back. Some mornings are touch and go, but by the time I get to work, I'm back in the game and able to eat my usual breakfast items. Lunch and dinner are no problem.
- Digestion still seems a little slow. I think that's why I haven't snapped back to 190 pounds as quickly as my eating might suggest. Still, it's tons better than it was in the beginning.
- Temperature sensitivity is still there, but I don't launch into a volley of shivers if the house is 69 degrees. The underlying thrumming of the nerves is still noticable sometimes, and I do notice occasionally that my shoulders are bunched up even when I'm sitting relaxed, and I have to force myself to unwind. You could say that I have superior muscle tone right now.
- That really only leaves sleep. In the beginning of this journey, I was getting 3-4 hours a night. More recently it's been 5-6 hours. The last two nights, it's been at least six, and quite possibly seven hours a night. I've been taking melatonin those two nights, so it's not unaided, but I'm hoping that now, around four weeks after starting withdrawal, that I'm seeing the final stages here. Some of my reading suggests that I can expect a couple of months of irregularities, so I'm not going to set myself up for disappointment, but I feel better all around already.
As for the root cause of all this, the nerve twitch that caused Dr. Winans to ignorantly prescribe a large dose of Lorazepam in the first place, it is still there. Something changed with the period of meds though, as it is now weaker, thready and random, rather than chronic, strong and cyclical. I can pretty much ignore it when trying to sleep. This is not saying that it won't get worse again. None of the doctors were sure of the cause, so nobody can say how it will progress.
I'm going to follow Dr. Devere's advice and buy a better bike seat, though. And while I have no evidence that Neurontin would help, it's nice to know there is a fallback strategy should the problem worsen again.
Gotta take Kelly to her swim class now, so enough rambling!
Posted by dpwakefield at 09:42 AM
February 22, 2003
Grendl, our last remaining cat, has died. I had had a crummy night's sleep again on Thursday night, but went in to work and had a productive day, even to the point of fixing another pernicious bug in my product (yay Zombie Programmer!). But as I pulled into the garage Friday evening, I was greeted by Jean and Kelly at the door. "This is nice," I thought.
"Grendl's dead!" they blurted. They were trying to warn me so I didn't wonder where Grendl was and see the box with her body in it.
I actually felt the blood leaving my face. I had to lean against Jean's car for a moment, while the flood of emotion swept through me. I had known Grendl was not long for the world. She'd lived an unusually long life for a cat, over twenty years. Still, I saw her every day, scratched her behind the ears leaving for work or returning home, fed her and kept her litter box clean. There was a connection, even if it felt casual at the time.
Still, the universe occasionally displays a certain benign synchronicity. Last Sunday saw the broadcast of Disney's remake of The Music Man, and we had watched part of it and recorded the whole thing to give it a fair viewing some time later. While Matthew Broderick was putting his own stamp on the role of Professor Harold Hill, he just didn't project in the way Robert Preston could.
So only this Thursday, I had given in to my desire to own the original, and brought home the DVD. Last night, Jean decided that we all needed a pick-me-up, and made popcorn. Kelly saw the original for the first time. Seeing what is possibly the finest musical movie ever made did a lot to lift the clouds, and gave me some breathing room from my mixed emotions.
So now it's Saturday morning, and I'm just gonna say, I'll miss Grendl.
February 18, 2003
I saw Dr. Devere this morning. It was a brief appointment, so I was still able to get a full day of work in, working from home. As I've observed before, I am actually more productive at home so long as I'm not counting 'consulting'.
What I learned: Dr. Winans doesn't know much about Lorazepam. The neurologist, Dr. Devere, agreed with me that I had been undergoing withdrawal, based on my description and the dosage/duration I'd been taking it. Apparently it is rare to get withdrawal symptoms after two to three months of use, but I was on an unusually high dose for initial meds, so that put me on the spot. Dr. Devere is the third doctor to express surprise that Dr. Winans actually put me on this stuff.
I asked if I'd have to go back on Lorazepam to taper off, hoping like crazy I wouldn't. He said that the withdrawal symptoms were diminishing, and the worst was over, so no. Yay! I'm still having trouble with my sleep patterns, but the weight loss and appetite/digestion problems are falling away, and I don't shiver at the drop of a hat anymore, so I'd guess another week or two will see me on the mend.
Dr. Devere had the report from the CT scan. I'm right as rain in the abdominal and pelvic region. No 'obscure' problems like tumors or shrinking/enlarging organs. He then gave me a neurological work-up, which consisted mostly of lots of rubber hammers and sharp pins. After a brief survey, he concluded that he didn't know what was causing my neural twitch either, though it was unlikely it was muscular dystrophy or other major neurological complaint.
He ruled out the idea that I'd caused it doing a stupid exercise on the Bowflex, though he seemed more interested in the notion of my riding a mountain bike for as much as an hour a day, and suggested that I needed to get a seat that was kinder to my posterior. According to him, the apparent source of the twitch is unlikely to be the source of the damage. It's just as likely damage to clusters of nerves in my tailbone, what Jean researched as the pudendal nerve complex. So however weak an explanation, bike riding is as good a candidate as any.
At this point the twitch is sufficiently weak and random that I'm able to ignore it at night. It's hard to say if it would keep me up since my sleep patterns are already wonky from Lorazepam withdrawal. But he suggested that we just wait and see. If the strength or regularity of the twitch returns, then he will try putting me on a 'nerve mediator', called Neurontin. It is relatively benign, compared to Lorazepam, though I'll be doing my reading before taking it, this time. I'm not so wary of this, as Jean is already taking it for her migraines, to good effect.
So the mystery is unsolved, but I have avenues of treatment should the problem grow worse again. Sorta happy ending, I guess...
Posted by dpwakefield at 06:13 PM
February 11, 2003
I Just Noticed
Look at the banner photo...
Kelly looks like I've been feeling for the last week!
January 31, 2003
Well, following the 0.5g, 0.5g, 1g dosage plan, I got at least six hours of sleep last night -- just one hour shy of what I consider a normal night's sleep, so I feel much better. By yesterday evening I was feeling depressed and pessimistic. I still don't think the cat scan will turn up anything, so perhaps I'll try calling up Dr. Tirjer and seeing if we can schedule a visit with a neurologist 'in tandem', or at least try to set up an appointment to follow the cat scan quickly, rather than another two to four weeks.
And in the meantime, I'll continue the gradual reduction in meds, and hope that the twitch doesn't return with a vengeance. Wish me luck.
January 30, 2003
I saw a second doctor yesterday regarding my twitch. He's another D.O. like Dr. Selby. He couldn't make heads nor tails of my condition, though it's been under control with the Lorazepam. I told him I was worried about developing a dependency on it, and he suggested that I cut back to using it only at night.
And what a night it was. It turns out that the 'anecdotal' evidence for dependence is correct. I was up all night, not with my twitch, but anxiousness, apnea, just generally unable to sleep. I probably got three hours. So today was zombie day.
I'm now trying a more gradual reduction, but of course it's too soon to tell if that'll work very well either. Cross your fingers, maybe I'll sleep tonight.
Doctor Tirjer has set me up for a cat scan, to rule out vascular defects, scanning from the abdomen down past the pelvis. That's in two weeks. If that doesn't turn anything up, then I get to wait an undetermined length of time to see a neurologist.
Right now I'm kind of down about the whole thing. At full strength, the Lorazepam was letting me sleep, but it was only a matter of time until my body developed a tolerance for it and the twitch came back. So now I have to bull forward and try to find another solution. I just hope there is one.
Posted by dpwakefield at 05:34 PM