Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cuteness personified

Five days and seven hours old, getting cuter by the minute. I don't see how this can continue much longer - there just isn't enough cuteness in the world. Perhaps it's more of a logarithmic curve, and not the exponential curve it appears to be. (click on the links if you don't understand math)

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Day of Many Firsts

Like most new parents (as they/we should), it's all about the baby for the first few days/months/years. I had Simone's first puke, and I changed my first diaper ever (not counting the half-job I did on my nephew-in-law a few years back). And, of course tonight will be my first night sleeping with a baby (yes, we're co-sleeping, I think it's dumb not to).

What I didn't realize is that after the birth, you get a 24-hour "cry free" buffer where the baby is pretty much just sleeping. Simone did cry a couple of times for a minute or two, but she was generally happy as a clam to just hang out and sleep.

Mary and I are very blessed to have had a safe birth to a healthy baby (sadly, this is not the case for more people in the U.S. than in any other developed country).

At some point I'll discuss what it was like to have a home-birth, but I'm not done processing it myself yet.

Simone Rose Jackson

Born this morning, 5am. 20 inches long, 6 pounds 7 ounces, and as beautiful as can be.

Both Mary and Simone are doing very well, though they're both a bit tired after the long journey to get here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

They Let Us Win

So, I had yet another game tonight. We barely had five people, which was lucky for the other team. Why? Because we stomped them 82 to 44. I had a ton of rebounds, a number of blocked shots, and an assist or two.

My guess is that when the dude who organized the basketball schedule saw our team name, he lined up the easiest schedule possible. We would have scored more, but (again) two of our point guards have no clue how to pass to anyone other than themselves, and were pretty much black holes (you give them the ball, they're shooting). Oh, and the other tall guy on my team (well, 3 of the 4 other guys playing) wouldn't shoot the ball when they got a rebound underneath the basket. It was sad. Not as sad as my 3/14 from the field (3 consecutive shots missed in about 6 seconds).

Of course, the saddest thing of all was we were playing a girls high school team. They were maybe Juniors, though they could have been younger. If you took their three point guards and put them on the other side of a teeter-totter from me, I'd still tip the scale in my favor. Luckily, the were decent shots, and we fell for most of their pump fakes. But when only two of their players stood taller than our shortest player, you knew it was going to be trouble.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

So Depressing

Today INTC closed at $17.95. Now, for those of you keeping score, that's the Intel stock ticker.

First, let me say that I like my job (though recent events really make me doubt the management of my department, but that's another blog entry), and they pay me well. So I'm not complaining about compensation.

However, one of the "perks" of a supposed high tech company is the stock, or even the stock options. Take a look at this chart comparing AMD, Intel, and the S&P 500 over the last two years. It's depressing.

Now, back to the options. When I joined Intel, stock was soaring, and everyone talked about "the golden handcuffs", and that was a part of the attraction of working at Intel. I'm saddened to say that only one set of my options are in the black, and if the stock drops to a measly $17.42, then I'll have no options worth anything. Hell, if I'd actually purchased stock for the same prices, I'd be out a third of my money.

Anyway, it's just a bit depressing to think about all that lost potential. It wasn't so bad when it was just me, but then I got married and had to think about a wife. And now, I've got a kid that's almost here...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wasps Nests

I mowed the lawn today. Not my favorite job, but it's a heck of a lot easier than weed-whacking a lawn.

Anyway, it finished up pretty quickly because we have more flower beds than we used to, and there's still a huge pile of dirt in the south-west corner of the yard. Luckily the weeds are holding down the dirt, otherwise it might look bad.

Where was I.... oh, it went quickly, so I figured I should do some more yard work. An hour or two every evening, and we'll be caught up in no-time.

I recalled seeing a couple of wasp nests under the eaves of the house, and being the procrastinator I am, figured I'd better get to them soon, or Mary will be pissed when a swarm of them comes down and flies away with the baby. That meant tonight.

So, how does one deal with wasp nests? You can get some noxious chemical spray and spray them, but Mary is very against that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not all chemical happy, I'd rather not spray stuff everywhere if there's another alternative (that doesn't take forever). But if your partner feels strongly about something, and you don't, you're best to go with the flow. So no chemical for me. Oh, and another reason not to do use the spray: I didn't have any and am far to lazy to hop in a car and go get some.

The question was, how do I get the wasp nest I saw in the eaves 20' up in the air? See, that's why the spray was attractive - because it shot out of the can up to 20'. Problem solved.

Only no spray.

Well, you can knock the wasps' nest off the eaves. So find a stick. Luckily, I've got some 8' poles that we use for the deer fence around the garden.

So I get one and start looking for nests. Guess how many we have?

Go on, guess!

Lame - you could at least have played along. We had at least 2 dozen. Seriously. Now, 6-8 of them were just starts, no bigger than a wasp really. And those were almost all in one spot, so they went quickly. The next dozen were a little larger, the size of a ping-pong ball. The tiny ones were no big deal, and the lime-sized ones didn't bother me too much, but they actually made noise when falling down the side of the house. The noise was kind of like tissue paper bouncing down stairs.

Then I saw the big one, it's not as large as the one I knocked off two years ago (that was the size of a good-sized pancake with a few pints of strawberries on top). No, not that big, but it was the size of my fist. And when I attacked the pancake one, it was winter and I told myself that they were all hibernating or something. This is spring, and they're all feeding off our flower beds.

Eh? Feeding off the flower beds? Permit me a digression. When you're dealing with wasps, you quickly realize there are a bunch of different kinds. I figured that I was battling the flesh-eating death wasp from Peru, but it turns out it's likely just a black and yellow mud dauber wasp. Turns out, love eating spiders, and we have about a hundred spider egg pouches along the eaves. And every resource I found about them quickly pointed out that they are docile wasps, very rarely stinging people (or any animals). So, I wasn't dealing with nests of hoards of suicidal attack insects, but nests of single, pansy, wasps that build their hives out of mud. Back to the story.

But I didn't know that, I was sure they were going to come after me like some cartoon, only I had no lake to jump in.

So I poke at the large nest a couple of times, and it falls onto our porch - where I leave it for Mary to admire when she gets home. That and because I'm afraid that the baby wasps are waiting for me to get close, at which time they jump out and eat me. That nest had 2 layers of honeycomb, which I thought was way cool.

This only left the nests at the peak in the back yard. I wasn't tall enough. Even with my arms extended, the 8' pole, and my huge vertical leap (12" at least), I was still several feet short of getting to the nests way up high. And these were the size of small lemons.

Of course at my Portland house, I had a kick-ass ladder. I got the one that would reach any of the gutters, so it extended to 22'. Not only that, but it was rated to hold more than my weight, it was spec'ed to hold 300 pounds. I left it in Portland at my dad's place.

So I'm left with only a 6' ladder, which means that I can just barely reach the nests. The first one is low enough that I don't have to stand directly under it. I poke a couple of times, it comes down quickly. I look down and two wasps crawl out of it and sit there a little dazed. Dunno, perhaps they were interrupted in the middle of hanky-panky. That freaked me out a little, because I was going to have to get under the highest two and basically let them fall straight at me.

I knock off another "low" one and psych myself up for the last two. I poke at the smaller (ping-pong ball sized), see it fall, and not so quickly lumber down the ladder and run away. I'm pretty sure the nest hit the ground before I was even at the last rung of the ladder, but I still ran. Then the momma of them, an orange-sized nest directly above my head.

You would think I was building to a big climax or something,
but you'd be wrong.

The last one came down like the rest, but I didn't watch. I just grabbed the ladder and waddled off like the scaredy-cat I am.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wind Power

A year and a half ago I wrote about our energy usage at home. While we don't go crazy about eliminating fossil fuels (I still drive to work, and we use natural gas), we do what we can. Anyway, I'll plug Pacific Power's Blue Sky program again - it really doesn't cost you but a few dollars more a month to get all your electricity from totally renewable resources.

But the motivation for this entry is this wonderful article at Daily Kos about wind power, read it, learn something: Daily Kos: Alternative Energies: Wind power

Monday, May 15, 2006


Really, I'd thought of this idea before he wrote about it, but Billmon uses nice big words and all: Whiskey Bar: Vox Pollsteri.

Anyway, I've found it ridiculous that the "polls show X" or "polls show Y" when talking about our rights. For a long time black folks weren't allowed to vote/go to school/marry non-blacks/drink water from fountains/etc. etc. etc. And the polls agreed with those things. Same goes for women, or any other group.

Polls do give an feel of the current population's stand on an issue, but they're often phrased in a way such that the pollster gets to support their issue - so you have to closely look at the questions. I'm fairly confident that if polled, 99% of the U.S. thinks abortions are bad - nobody wants to have one. Also, polls rely on the premise that folks are well informed, however it's pretty apparent that this administration doesn't give out any information (unless it's to further their purpose), the Congress isn't fighting to get info released, and the press is just a sack of corporate lap dogs.

What's a little wiretapping, I know they're not listening to me....

Friday, May 12, 2006

I could have had two brains....

So I was walking outside the buildings at work with some friends, and we passed the bike racks. I noticed a bright red bike and recognized it as the Specialized Epic. I'm in love with my bike, it's a lot of fun to ride, it's pretty, and it's got the geek factor (the brain).

Anyway, I spent a pretty penny on the bike, it's not real cheap. I'm not bragging, I'm setting up the next point.

The guy locked his bike up with a Kryptonite lock - the preferred lock for most cyclists. He put the lock through bike rack (a good start), and securely around the seat post.

Let me repeat - it was around the seat post.

Now, perhaps you're unfamiliar with what a bike looks like. Take a look at the Park Tool bike map and notice how the seatpost and saddle just poke out of the rest of the frame. I'm pretty sure you could have pulled the seat through the Kryptonite lock without unlocking it. But, if you didn't want to go to that effort, you just had to undo the quick release on the seat post.

Eh? This dude "locks" an expensive bike up in about the least secure way possible, I almost stole it out of principal (couldn't hurt to have a spare).

I was advised to take it out of the lock and just lean it up. I also thought of just writing a nasty letter and leaving it on the bike. Or perhaps taking my own lock and locking it up.

Just pisses me off though...

Heaven or Hell?

Somebody pointed out this humorous tribute to their cat.
I'd like to think our cats are some place like this:

Our Cat Enters Heaven - by Margaret Atwood

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Short History

I've been listening to an audio book, "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson, while working in the yard today. It is truly a fascinating book. A summary of the book would be, "a history of science, in laymans terms, with all the peculiarities of those involved." The beginning starts with a wonderful description of how impossibly big the solar system is, let alone the universe. And he makes a good point that, given how large space is, it seems a little odd that intelligent life would come all this way to make crop circles.

The book is read by some English chap with an accent that just makes you want to listen more. Though it was rather confusing to hear that accent talk about growing up in the U.S.

Math meets poetry

Heh, fun poems to be found here. It's a blend of haiku and Fibbonacci.


more weeds
pull them up
i gotta start now
or nothing will ever get done

Heh, it's my first Fib.


It's been 20 years since the accident. Here are two very powerful tributes to Chernobyl, a series of photos by Robert Knoth, and a photo essay narrated by the photographer, Paul Fusco.

The Brick Testament

Just found this interpretation of the Bible called The Brick Testament. Some people have too much time on their hands.

Friday, May 05, 2006

How many Jelly Bellies...

So a guy at work had a contest - who could guess how many Jelly Belly beans were in a given container. Long story short, I won. I guessed there were 1619 beans in the jar, and there were 1620. Rock on!

Too bad I decided I'd go on a diet.


I'd heard about stevia a while back, and have wanted to try it. It's a super sweet leaf (often used as an extract, or you can use the leaves). Mary picked up a little jar of it for me last week and I've been drinking it in my tea.

You see, my new doctor (no, not Mary) told me that I'm fat (not those words, but...). While I can normally tolerate that from my friends (it's a mantra in Moab - "You know why you can't do X? Because you're fat!" - and it's true), or my family might tell me. But when a near complete stranger approaches you soberly (wearing a white lab coat or not) and tells you that you should think about changing your diet, it kinda sticks.

Anyway, I'm doing a lot more than just using stevia in my tea, and I'm down 6 pounds this week.

But that's not the point. You should check stevia out. It's pretty wild. It's 250-300 times as sweet as sucrose (regular sugar) - which means that 1/4 teaspoon is as much as 1.25 cups of sugar. It's very sweet and has a nice aftertaste. It does have a slight bitter pre-taste (as I call it) that takes a little getting used to, but that's not bad - certainly no worse than Nutrasweet or any of the other artificial sweeteners I tasted way back when.

I'm gonna go have some tea right now.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Funny, or not, you decide

MoJo has a little snippet contrasting what the media finds funny and what it doesn't.

At issue is Stephen Colbert's recent performance at the White House Correspondent's dinner.

I watched the performance, and it is funny. Unfortunately, it's funny because it is so true - which is why it is also sad.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I know other people have blogged about this, and it's probably been shown on a few TV stations. But the folks supporting the speaker of the house will still vote for him. Anyway, if you didn't know it, he drove away from an energy conservation meeting in a hybrid car, but got out of the car a few blocks away and got back into his huge SUV for the few remaining blocks going back to his office. Just pisses me off.

John Carroll writes about it much more eloquently than do I.

Religious Tolerance

Douglas Rushkoff writes an thoughtful piece on religious tolerance. I immediately connect with the article when reading the third paragraph:
Maybe I'm just getting old, but I no longer see the real value in being tolerant of other people's beliefs. Sure, when beliefs are relegated to the realm of pure entertainment, they pose no real danger. So, a kid believes U2 is really a supergroup on par with The Beatles or The Who. That's *his* problem, and it doesn't really do a lot of harm to anyone except those of us who still stop by MTV occasionally to see what might be playing.
I like the grumpy old man attitude.

The rest of the article is less grumpy old man and more pissed at the religious fanatics. He makes a number of very interesting points - one of the main ones being that people have to stop living in the past and just aren't using their brains.

He ends with:
The more we can make [the Bible's] mythology relevant to our present, the more easily we'll bring those who believe in it out of the past.
I might just have to go read his new comic.

Illegal Aliens

oooh, scary. There are "illegal aliens" in our country. Not only are they different (because they're alien), but they are breaking the law.

Everyone breaks the law. There are so many laws out there that it's probably impossible to go more than a week (if even a day) without breaking at least one law. So using the justification that "they're breaking the law" to need to go and round them up is just dumb. It turns out, illegal aliens are only 1/4 as likely to do real crime as regular Americans. So what's the big deal?

Oh, and I'm all for them protesting (I just learned that our cafeteria didn't use real plates on Monday - likely because their dish washers were out), but the idea that a day of not buying things (even if nobody did it) would have a real dent in our economy is silly. People would have just have bought more the day before or after.

What they should do is not work for a month. Now that would cause real damage.

Esophageal narrowing

That was quick. The doctor's office called today, I'm getting referred on to a gastrointerologist (sp?). I've got a narrowing of my esophagus. I could have told them that (it's what I figured).

Now that I've had time to think about all of this, I remember back in high school getting a little bit of food poisoning. I got real sick, but had a real tough time throwing up - it felt like something was squeezing shut and not letting the food out. I've not been able to throw up effectively ever since. And I remember as a kid just puking - like one of those horror movies - a nice steady stream. Everything changed in high school. I wonder what did it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I'll never look at milkshakes the same again

Today I had the joy of drinking a barium milkshake. For some 6 or 7 years now, I've occasionally had difficulty swallowing. Food would get stuck in my esophagus just above my stomach. I'd get some vigorous hiccups, spit up the food, and generally be uncomfortable for 5-50 minutes until my esophagus relaxed to let the food pass through.

I finally went in to see a M.D. about it, which meant I got to get an xray of my stomach. Stomachs don't show up very well, thus the barium.

Mmmmm.... barium. All in all, it didn't taste too bad. But it was like drinking a palatable chalk shake. Only the shake was super heavy. But first I had to quickly chug a slug of water and special salts, which immediately turned into a bunch of gas in my belly. So, not only did I get to drink a thick shake, my belly was already full of gas - and I wasn't allowed to burp.

The only thing I know so far is that the barium pill (yup, a shake and a pill) hung out in my esophagus, not wanting to drop into the stomach - so I had to drink yet more barium to wash it down. Hopefully I'll know more in a few days.