Monday, November 30, 2009


¿Qué es este "sueño" del que usted habla?

I have not been sleeping well for about a month. It's not very fun.

On a positive note, we just got our homestudy renewed today. The medical exam part certainly went a lot better than last time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Have You Seen the Ghost of John

Last night I had a dream where I was part of an expedition sent out to colonize a new planet. Unfortunately, the colony ship lost power and had to make an emergency landing. Of course, this caused all kinds of trouble for the colonists.

My group of colonists took a Jeep-like vehicle and travelled along the roads that were put there by the survey crew/ship to see what was out there. We had many adventures, some of which starred John Rhys-Davies for some reason.

As it turns out, the reason the ship crashed was due to a curse placed on our expedition by King John of England. You know, the one who was always the villain in the Robin Hood mythology. Somehow, the court wizards cast a spell that sat idle for 800 years until our ship was flying through space.

The special effects of the wizards casting the spell were phenomenal. Imagine several men in a large, badly-lit, basketball-arena-sized room. They are walking along invisible ramps throughout the volume of the building. As they walk, red glowing runes appear where their feet touched the invisible ramps. Now imagine our camera point of view on a huge arm that lets it move freely through space. Cool, eh?

Anyway, we survived our alien adventures. How's that Magna Carta, John?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Back home from the holiday. Whew!

Friday, November 27, 2009


So I just got up in order to hit the sales at the department stores...


I preposted this so that I could sleep in. You couldn't threaten me enough to get me to Wal-de-Mart or Jacques Penet today. If you feel the need for some competitive shopping, good luck and good health.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Check out some of the old Hand Turkey Files.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Calendar Envy

The schools in the area all have today off. I don't remember previous school years having Wednesday before Thanksgiving off, and I certainly don't remember such a thing as a child. Kids these days have it easy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Savings Plans for the Temporally Dislocated

I went out to check my 401(k) balance yesterday. Because I care when I can retire, I sometimes go through the calculator exercises that are on the web sites. When I went through the exercise to see how much more I could save if I increased my contribution by 2%, I got the following graph. Note how my life will not be in chronological order.

I took out the actual dollar amounts for either modesty's or embarrassment's sake.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spring Cleaning - In Autumn!

We rented a large trash container to get rid of a bunch of stuff out of the house and barn over the weekend. Our tattered sleeper sofa is now gone, and good riddance. For some reason, sitting on that thing for more than five minutes would hurt my back. Now the other couch from the front room has moved into the teevee room, and the front room's space is a bit more open with just the loveseat and the music equipment. And Beardie.

We also got rid of a piano. When GPop and I got our first apartment together, we were looking for some things to put in it. I had a stack of boxes from my college years as a resident advisor and from my tenure living in Baldo McNerdy's basement. I also had a vintage 60s hip naughahide chair. GPop had a bunch of boxes, a couple of plants, and a dresser.

Around that time, the Hillel Student Center at Midwest State University was planning a demolition and rebuilding of the facility. They were selling furnishings and fixtures to raise a little bit of money to help furnish the new building. GPop bought a piano for $50. It had been painted green at some point, but underneath was a nice mahogany. GPop thought he'd refinish it.

Since we lived in a two-bedroom apartment, there wasn't a lot of room to refinish a piano. GPop would slide the piano out onto the concrete slab between apartments A (ours) and B (the guys with the yappy dog) and smear stripping chemicals on it. He stripped maybe 20% of the surface before the weather forced us to move the piano inside. It sat in a corner for the rest of the five and a half years we lived there. I believe we covered it in something that we called a "piano cozy."

When we moved to our house in 1999, the piano was going to be the project we did in the barn. So we put it out there for a couple of months, but then we decided that we wanted it closer to the house so the cold weather of winter didn't completely destroy it. We put it on the uninsulated porch, but it was against the wall that separated the porch from the teevee room. We covered it in a tarp for temporary storage.

It sat there for more than 10 years.

Now we have that space back, and we no longer have to worry about refinishing a broken piano that was probably hopeless anyway. My only regret is that I never built that trebuchet to throw the piano into the back field.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What Is This?

This is something from the state fair.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Maybe a Different Name?

The other day, I was in a restroom. The paper towel dispenser was labeled with the model name Intuition. Next to the model name were printed detailed instructions describing how to use the dispenser. Cognitive Dissonance, ACTIVATE!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Foto Phriday - H1N1 Edition

This is the photo of a cousin's wife struck with H1N1. Hang in there.

Here's my cousin's description of his wedding. If memory serves, this cousin has a PhD in math, and he spent a year or so on the Ultimate Fighting circuit or professional wrestling or something.

We got married by ourselves at the courthouse very spur of the moment so we don't have any pictures of that. Which is probably a good thing since I was wearing a Miller Lite T-shirt and flip flops and she was in pajamas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Portmanteau Poll




as in...

"This article on the Snuggie is __________."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Haiku Inspired by a Corporate Webcast

She said, "Win win win."
The Office has become real.
Yes, that's what she said.


Son is fine. He was a bit grumpy and tired from not sleeping much the other night, but he's fine now. Thanks for the good thoughts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Attack

Son rode his bicycle to a friend's house last night. On his way back, he was attacked by some jack@$$ teen mugger. The kid demanded his bike, then pushed Son off the bike, hit Son in the face, and knocked him to the ground. Son punched the kid back and retrieved his bike, but he's pretty upset by this.

At this point, I really want to Goetz the kid that did this.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Four Word Reviews - 2012 (WARNING: SPOILERS)

Independence Day minus aliens.


Day After Tomorrow again.


Roland Emmerich, please stop.


Please stop Roland Emmerich.


Stargate - not really related.


I paid for this?


Cusack has done better.


Kid named Noah? Ark?


Another implausible disaster movie.


Science, schmience. Mayans, schmayans.


Who knew neutrinos mutate?


Giraffe airlift wasn't necessary.


Got what I expected.

Four Word Movie Review - 2012

LONG goodbye to civilization.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Four Word Movie Review - The Men Who Stare at Goats

Clooney's and McGregor's butts.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Movie Night

Son went to a friend's house last night. Since GPop and I haven't been out to see a grown-up movie for a while, we decided to see The Men Who Stare at Goats.

Many years ago, we went to see a movie, the title of which escapes me, but which was out at the same time as The World Is Not Enough. When I was waiting for GPop to arrive at the theater that day, I was listening to the people in line order their tickets. I tried to predict what a give person or group wanted to see. I ended up not being very good at that kind of prediction, though.

My favorite part of that waiting, though, was when I observed a person step up to the ticket box office, clear his throat, and say, "Two tickets for The World Will Do." I had to bite my tongue to keep from chuckling. GPop appreciated the humor when I told him about it.

Last night, there were a lot of people at the theater. When we got to the box office, the kid behind the counter looked a bit harried. GPop cleared his throat and said, "Ah'd lahk two tickets fer The Goat Watchers."

The funny thing is that the kid has probably heard titles mutilated more than that. Recently.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Freitag der Dreizehnte

Ooooh, scary! It's Friday the thirteenth!

Found cat clip art here.

Foto Phriday

This is the back of Son's head in his Link costume from The Legend of Zelda video games. The fog is from Baldo McNerdy's fog machine. The extra-large person with the orange thing on his head is GPop in one of those inflatable sumo wrestler costumes. This was Halloween, not our normal evening attire/activities.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another One

Yesterday evening, as we were watching some teevee, Son started to laugh. We looked at him and saw this.

He got part of his shirt caught in his braces. Go back and read that again. He got part of his SHIRT CAUGHT in his BRACES.

GPop said, "That's going on the blog."

Son said, "I must look like a real idiot on your blog."

I told him that no, he seems like a fine young man with a penchant for getting things caught in other things.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Today marks the end of World War I. 11:11 on 11/11.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Right and Wrong Bumper Stickers

I saw this one. This is the right one.

I made up this one. It is very, very wrong.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Old Plumbing Problem

This is from an old e-mail to my uncle from 2001. Pulled it out of the archives due to busy schedule today.

The pipe between my well and my pressure tank had a leak. It was a small spray of water that would probably fill a glass with water every ten to fifteen minutes. Fortunately, the leak was situated so that the water all ran down into the pit where the sump pump does its thing. It was time to fix it, though. I started to unscrew the coupling that hooked the plastic hose to the brass tee that was attached to the tank. The coupling, which was the source of the leak, broke. Part of it was stuck inside the tee, and part was stuck inside the pipe. Grrr...

So, GPop and I went to the hardware store, and I explained to the Hardware Guy that I had committed an act of home repair against my house, and that I needed an accomplice to help hide the evidence. He summoned the Well Guy (Kevin) to lend me a hand with determining what I needed to buy. We figured out that I needed a new coupling, some plastic pipe, a new tee, the pressure gauges and plugs that go into the tee, and the pipe fitting compound (a.k.a. pipe dope). I also bought a short ladder/step stool so I'd have a place to sit while I was working.

OK. So far, so good.

GPop and I went home with our new purchases, and we discovered that removing the tee required us to remove the pipes on the OTHER side of the tee as well. Who would've thought? So, I went back and bought some copper pipe, the appropriate couplings, a propane torch kit, flux, and solder. I went back home, and we cut the pipe, then removed the tank so we could get to the tee. When I started to twist the tee to remove it, the bottom of the tank began to buckle. Arrrrgggghhhh!

Back to the hardware store. I'm sure that Well Guy and Hardware Guy were laughing by this time. We bought a new tank and a pipe wrench. So, at that time, we had all we needed.

We got everything installed correctly, and it looked just like new, which was correct since it was basically all new. So what now? Turn on the water and see if there are any leaks. I can see by the expression on your face that you expect me to say something like there was a gusher. Nope. It was leak free. Then, we heard a hissing/bubbling coming from a pipe about five feet away from where we had done our work. Apparently, our work had jarred a pipe that had a weak bit of solder, and it started a small leak there.

OK. Not to worry...

We started soldering the old pipe. After doing that, I've come to the conclusion that solder doesn't stick well to old copper pipe, so you have to do something to take away the corrosion. We ended up soldering a LOT onto the connection, then using an epoxy material to coat the whole coupling. It still leaked a bit, but it was about one drop every five to ten minutes. That's probably about enough time between drips that the floor will dry out in between drops. I'll look at it again next weekend.

And the kicker is that the village is running city water out our way within the next couple of months. Anyone need a used 20-gallon pressure tank? It's a very pretty sky blue color.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday? Bleh.

Not that it's on the ballot, but I'm voting for a 4x10 work week.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bubblin' Ears

Son has used cotton swabs to clean his ears for a long time. I have told him that using swabs this way is contraindicated right on the package, but he persists. Yes, he did manage to push a big glob of ear wax into his ear. He had enough pain that we took him to the doctor.

The good doctor told him not to do that any more. She also told him to put hydrogen peroxide in his ear to mumblefrotz the whozits with peroxidey goodness. I had Son lie on the bed with a towel under his head, and I poured about a half teaspoon of H2O2 solution in his ear. I told him to hold his nose, close his mouth, and blow gently. It fizzled a little, and I signaled for him to turn over. Rinse, repeat.

Son advised me that this was the strangest sensation he'd ever felt. He wanted me to do it, so I gave it a try.

Yes, indeed, it is certainly a strange sensation. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to feel dizzy for a few minutes while the bubbles interfere with one's sense of balance. Goofy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Foto Phriday - Inspirational Edition

The inspiration for my Halloween costume was this sculpture we saw at the arts festival this summer. When I saw it, I thought of the term Booba Fett, which of course led to Bubba Fett. Notice the Chewbacca-like sculpture behind Ms. Fett.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

I knew I was forgetting something...

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Confused Language Guy

The other day, I heard a radio report that was discussion changing people's behavior with a "carrot and stick." Geek that I am, I heard the phrase "keratin stick." I wondered for a brief moment how that would work. Are they goring people with rhinoceros horns? Then I realized what the speaker had actually said. Fortunately, people outside my car don't see me blush from embarrassment.

I think I'm going to start saying homophones when speaking to amuse myself.

Icy ewe. Yeah, shoe.

Halve eye Eton? Noah halve knot.

Ware due Wii knead two bee four the me ting?

[If I were the Witch King of Angmar...] Gnome an Cannes sleigh mi.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Geek Choices

My phone battery now maintains a charge for interesting usage for about five minutes. "Interesting usage" is defined to be any use other than standby mode. So, in other words, calls, texting, internet browsing, Sudoku, MP3 playing, and other uses all collapse with a beep and a shutdown after a few minutes.

I could buy a new battery for about $40. This is likely the most economical solution, short term. However, a secondary issue is that the phone's features have some limitations that make it much less useful to me than I thought when I purchased it in early 2008. Also, there seem to be some software defects that cause the phone to reboot intermittently when I use certain features.

I've been a Sprint customer for my cell service for a long time. They irritate me some, but when I talk to customers of other carriers, I find that customer service highlights are rare. Some of my friends swear by their service with their respective carriers, but other friends have had abominable experiences with the same carriers, so it seems to be a wash. So, absent a compelling reason to change carriers, I'll just stay where I am. This eliminates the iPhone until they decouple with AT&T.

I could go backwards a bit and get a less feature-rich phone, but I find that I do use quite a few of the phone's features naturally, without inventing reasons to use them, so I'd like to retain those features in a new device.

I'm leaning toward one of the Sprint Android phones. Plus, I could possibly use the Android development kit to make my own apps. Except that I'm pretty lazy with respect to that sort of thing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Off-Year Election

Thank goodness for the screed.

Last night, I was reviewing my choices for village council, township trustee, municipal court judge, and school board. Since the only race that was big enough to cause a blip in the media might have been the judicial race in Capital City, the other candidates were sort of ciphers. Thank goodness also for the series of tubes.

The Capital City newspaper (motto: "Proudly Giving Lie to the Phrase 'Liberal Media' Since 1882") has a voter's guide web page where one can select two of the candidates in a race and compare them side by side. This was a little awkward for the "pick up to four of these nine candidates" races, but you make do with what you've got.

A couple of the candidates were either unresponsive or unreachable when the newspaper sent them the questionnaire, but most had some responses listed. I am especially thankful for those candidates who took the time to write long-winded responses that were only tangentially related to the question and which showed off the very apparent need for increased dosages of their meds.

And, on a related note, when I voted today, I was the first voter. Finally, after 10 years of showing up before the polls opened did I manage to get to be first in line. Actually, it was a line of one.

Nobody Got It

Several of us were talking about project estimating yesterday. I drew a diagram on the whiteboard that represented project range estimates, then we discussed how an estimate range could incorrectly drive the decision to go forward with project development.

One of the meeting participants said, "There's one little word that seems to be very important in our recent discussions." He took a marker and wrote next to my diagram, "ROI."

I said, "Yes, that is very important." I took my marker and wrote, "is king," next to "ROI."

Nobody got it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Parenting Poll

OK, parents...

Son indicates that he gets anxious when he has to take a test. His grades seem to bear this out in that he gets good marks for homework and projects, but ungood to plusungood marks for quizzes and tests. Son wishes to go to college. He has plans for an advanced degree in the computer field. Specifically what, he doesn't know, but let's cut the high school freshman some slack for that lack of specificity.

Given that the SAT and ACT are still important college entrance requirements, would it be beneficial to have him take one of these tests "cold" this year, with the idea that exposure to the test will make it less scary when it really counts? Or would people suggest that I leave it alone, with the idea that scoring low on the test this time might result in a hit to his motivation and confidence?

I suspect the polling results from the most thoughtful parents will be YMMV.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Up the Ladder

Son's school had their first mixed choir concert of the year. Some of the music was very pretty.

UPDATE: For some reason, the typo in the title escaped me. I've corrected it.