Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

A belated Merry Christmas to all. Hope everyone had a good day with their families.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Maryland teens prank with speed cams

I always had an issue with the use of speed cams and stop light cams. For those of you who don't know these are cameras that take a picture of your license plate if you are in the intersection when the stop light is red or if you are exceeding the speed limit. The issue for me is the fact you are not allowed the constitutional right to face your accuser. The courts work around this by making it a misdemeanour and only has a fine, no points on your licence. It simply becomes a money maker for the counties that use them.
Well some Maryland teens found a way to use them to get back at others. From the article; " As a prank, students from local high schools have been taking advantage of the county's Speed Camera Program in order to exact revenge on people who they believe have wronged them in the past, including other students and even teachers.
Students from Richard Montgomery High School dubbed the prank the Speed Camera "Pimping" game, according to a parent of a student enrolled at one of the high schools.
Originating from Wootton High School, the parent said, students duplicate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts from certain websites that "mimic" those on Maryland license plates. They tape the duplicate plate over the existing plate on the back of their car and purposefully speed through a speed camera, the parent said. The victim then receives a citation in the mail days later."
Who says teens don't use thier brains.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Welcome kavalsky.com, Happy Hanukkah

A friend of mine has started a new site. Like me he spent time in the past maintaining a server somewhere and got tiered keeping the server up. Blogger is just so much easier. Give his site a Visit. http://www.kavalsky.com/

On a holiday note, today is the first day of Hanukkah. Happy Hanukkah to all. Enjoy the 8 crazy nights.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fountains in Vegas

I was cleaning up my pics and thought I would post this from a few years ago. I was out in Vegas for a conference and shot this with my photo camera. This is the fountains in front of the Bellagio.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Busy, Busy

You can always tell when we have other things going on because I don't update the blog. Here are some pics.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Presidents, and Politics, and Voting, Oh My!

To me, politics is like a horrible car accident that I just can't look away from. There is nothing that I can do about the situation. The accident has already happened. I am a smart person who could get involved with the best intentions, to help, and provide support. But I would be in the way once the true professions are on the scene. I have strong feelings on what I think should happen, ideas to help all involved. But at some point people will have strong feelings that are contrary to mine, with a louder voice and the ability to lie with a straight face. I will find my openness and truthfulness that I have always considered a strength, a weakness. That is what politics is to me.
So why vote? Because I care, I want change, and the right to vote is still available to me in the limited fashion of the Electoral College.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cat Fight!

Lemony is a crazy cat person. We have added a new kitten to the house, and boy are the other 2 cats MAD! Our Mau pure breed was the first cat because of the pretty coat and the personality of Maus is more like a dog. Then it was decided that he was lonely and we got a cat from a local cat rescue. She was not warmly welcomed by the other cat, but they get along well enough now.


So the cat rescue emailed Lemony and said they had a kitten like the one we had adopted and was wondering if we were interested. Long story short, we got the black one. Lets hope the other cats don't eat her.




Update on cats: Nobody got eaten. Feliway saved the day. Happy cats are here again!

Osiris, Shakira, and Halima.

Osiris and Halima share a cat nap.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Last Exile

When we first got Netflix a few years ago, I started watching a lot of anime. Last Exile was a series that I threw into the queue just because it had 4 stars. I found that Last Exile was not only beautifully done with a well thought out story line, but the thoughtful intelligence that is in each episode makes the series worth watching over and over.
I won't go into a full review, you can follow the link below and check the reviews given on Amazon. They give a more eloquent review than I could. I will however comment on the music in the series. In most anime that is translated over to English, they either butcher the music or it does not seem to fit the series at all. Last Exile is one of a handful that got the music right. If you like Anime, check this series out.



Note: Last Exile is also available on Netflix for Instant viewing. :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Game Designers in Space

"Richard Garriott is the first game designer in space. The creator of the Ultima series of video games was launched into orbit 17 hours ago with a crew aboard a Soyuz TMA spacecraft." This is news worthy for the following reason. "Garriott is the sixth space tourist to fly a rocket into space, but his mission is likely draw a lot of attention from around the globe. As the son of NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, he’s the first second generation astronaut. You can track his progress on a web site."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Debt clock runs out of digits, Dow Loss, AIG still asking for more

The digital counter marks the national debt level, but when that passed the $10 trillion point last month, the sign could not display the full amount. The board was erected to highlight the $2.7 trillion level of debt in 1989.”
If this isn’t a clear sign of a weak economy, maybe the fact that the Dow closed below 9,000 is the sign for you. But its all good, right? AIG still has access to money, using 70 billion of the 85 billion government loan. The 700 billion dollar bailout was signed after 110 billion of pork spending was basically added to the first bill plus the FDIC will now guarantee $250,000 in bank accounts. Wow, that was worth vetoing the first time.
Can we call this a depression yet? The current Government administration has been very careful not to call the economy over the last few years a depression, always referring to it as a recession. I think we can call it a depression now. Of course the next question is will it get worse? Yes it will. Why? Oil production will at sometime slow down (predicted in the next five years), we are still supporting large scale conflicts in the mid-east and most importantly no large scale changes are happening to alter these facts. Welcome to the new, new global world economy. Just beware of Chinese made goods.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

FLL Missions With Note

This is the mission videos for FLL (FIRST LEGO League). (The FLL videos can be seen and downloaded here.) Our two eldest are in FLL this year. These 19 missions equal to about 7 seconds for each objective to be completed. Note the correction on insulating the house. In the Video it shows the blocks stacked. That is incorrect, both blocks must be touching the mat to score.

I will post more about FLL and how the team does in the future.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pumpkins - Quick Post

Lemony has always enjoyed Halloween. This has passed on to the kids. To get everyone into the fall season, here posted are a few pictures of pumpkins that the kids and Lemony carved a few years ago.
















Addendum, from Lemony: The next photos are from two years ago; my favorite Halloween costumes the kids have had so far. We love Halloween, but I like to keep the holiday focused on the original notion of "ancestor appreciation", so we try to stick with themes out of our History curriculum. Here are Bastet, Seeta (with Hanuman), and Ares, and a close-up of Hanuman:




Bastet's mask is a foam black panther mask, purchased from the gift shop at the zoo. We put a big gold hoop earring from the dollar store in the panther's left earlobe. Her hair is a Peggy Sue wig from a Halloween store. Her tunic was sewn by Wort, from pillowcases, with curtain tie trim. Her wedjat is made from air-dry clay, hand painted with cobalt blue acrylic paint and finished with tsuyadashi coating for origami (it's what I had on hand). The sistrum was made of metal coat hangers, floral wire, butttons, newspaper, masking tape, and paint. Seeta's saree was bought online from an Indian clothing store. She is also wearing a maang tika and bindi. The henna is Dover art tattoos. Ares' costume is a souvenir that Wort brought home from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He's also wearing thick cotton tights with socks underneath, and sandals. Hanuman (real name Pippo) wears shorts made from a recycled t-shirt. His heart is cut from the same fabric. The mace and crown are made of cardboard, tape, and paint. He carries a plastic gold ring.


The kids (and I) were mortified that no one at our community Halloween Block Party had a clue what any of their costumes were. The horror!


This year, Bastet wants to be a Cat Mummy, Seeta wants to be Cleopatra, and Ares wants to be a Medieval Knight. (They're pretty consistent.) Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

He Said, She Said: The Anniversary Post

He said:

About 18 years ago, I met a girl in high school art class. She was smart, full of attitude, and really cute. We got to know each other in the next year, flirting, talking about the people we were seeing at the time, flirting some more, working on art projects, flirting…you get the point. I went off to college and we lost touch for a year. When I came back after the first year, her father was doing some work for my mother and he mentioned that I should give her a call. I did. That same night, we went to Friendly’s and caught up over Fribbles. I drove her home that night, and in her driveway, she gave me our first kiss. A little over 3 months later, I gave her an engagement ring, and 3 days shy of the anniversary of our first date, we were married.
After all the trials and tribulations, tears and fights, hurt feelings, moments of great joy and comfort, I would do it all over again. We did more than just stay together over the last 14 years; we grew up together. We grew to know each other and ourselves, and I like what I have become with her. I love who she has become with me. She is probably the only person who truly knows me.
If that was all I had, I would be happy, but 3 other things that we have added to our lives has made me feel complete in my life. My wife has given us three of the brightest, most beautiful, perfect children that were ever made. (In reality my kids are like any other kids, but as a parent it is part of the job to think that.) This post is to Lemony, my friend, my wife, the person I grew up with, and the person I want to grow old with.




She said:



Oh, elope with me in private and we'll set something ablaze,
a trail for the devil to erase... --
Belle & Sebastian, "
Piazza, New York Catcher"


I followed him home one day, and he kept me. He always did have a special place in his heart for strays.


His brother toasted us at the wedding reception, quoting Yeats: "On this day, a terrible beauty is born". Andrew knew.

Two years later, we got in the car and drove to a different state, to start a new life. It was an almost spontaneous decision. Everything we owned fit in a Toyota Tercel, and that included the microwave and the dog.

When things were really hard between us, and we weren't sure we were going to make it, he spent his last dollar to take me to a theme park, and ride a bungee-like skycoaster ride. I liked to think of it as "taking the plunge" all over again. He hated that ride, but went with me anyway. I found that rather symbolic, and appreciated it, in every respect. The firstborn came soon afterward, which was a coaster ride of a whole different sort.

Together, we've learned how to be honest with ourselves and each other, and not take most things too seriously. We've faced parenthood, which is just about the scariest thing in the world, next to that other thing we weren't exactly expecting so soon--waiting for biopsy results.

He makes me laugh, he makes me cry. He brings me contentment, and he drives me crazy. He shakes me up, and yet he is my firm and solid ground. He's smart and sexy, and grows more so with each passing year. The kids and I have everything we need, and much of what we want, thanks to him.

Wort, you are the best man I've ever known. I'm grateful for every day I get to share with you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The More I Understand, the Less I Get

I will start by saying that I have no formal educational in Economics, financial investments or Politics. I grew up being told that Republicans stood for small government, fiscal responsibility by the individual, and “trickle down economics”. Democrats were for big central government and government-managed retirement, and social programs as “safety nets”. Yes, I know that has changed. I follow the news with a mix of humor, despair, cynicism, knowing more bad news is reported than good, and the reality is that most of it will never affect me. I am not the smartest person I know, nor the dumbest. Considering myself as neither Republican nor Democrat, rich or poor, tall or short, young or old; I am a statistically average American Citizen.


So the more I learn about the “credit crunch” or the “bank bailout”, the more I wonder if really don’t understand things as well as I think I do. Why does the Government need to buy up to 700 Billion Dollars worth of shares to save private financial institutions? So, to keep things a little more simplistic I would like to refer to the following two articles linked off CNN to Time.


The first is “The Credit Crunch: Where Is It Happening?” By Barbara Kiviat. It talks about how the money has slowed in flowing down, the credit card companies has sent out less credit card applications, student loans will be harder to find and how that may affect ‘main street’. Please read the article, I will wait.


The second article is titled “Let Risk-Taking Financial Institutions Fail” By Ari J. Officer and Lawrence H. Officer. This touches on how the banks got into the situation and they use a phrase that I am very fond of. Follow the money. Please read the article, I will wait once again.


Why do I point out these articles? Well, as Steve Martin is quoted; "Let's face it, some people have a way with words...other people...uhhh...ohhh...not have way". But in a simplistic one page article I feel both of these sum up what is really going on better than I can. One article is talking about how these bank failures might affect you--what could happen if it gets worse. It is well written and connects on a personal level. The second article is about the facts of the issue and gives the reasons why the banks should be allowed to fail. The second article also mentions if it does get worse and the money does stop ‘trickling down’ then the government can still step in.


But Bush wants action, or else. Why? In my opinion, to save political face. Bush has been saying for years the economy is strong. The economy is strong, but all markets go through corrections. (I remember the early 80’s with Reaganomics with bank corrections and out of control government spending.) Not to mention the fact that the real people that will be affected by this are the people with the money invested that flows both ways between Wall Street and DC. That’s why both presidential nominees want this bailout.


But then again what do I know about Economics, Financial investments or Politics? I am a statistically average American voter.

Monday, September 29, 2008

China's First Spacewalk

"Three Chinese astronauts arrived Monday in Beijing to a homecoming parade after completing China's first spacewalk and putting the country closer to building a space station and landing a man on the moon."
China wants to send people to the moon by 2020. The last time anyone stepped foot on the moon was 1972. I wonder if the space race will be back at full speed by then.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman 1925-2008

One of the first movies I saw that made an impression on me was "The Sting". I was only about 10 at the time but I still remember it making me interested in not just the cinematography of a movie but the acting of the people involved.
I also love his cookie. "Fig Newmans" have been a family favorite for a long time at our house.
RIP Paul Newman.

Bank Notes, and a Light Note

I once thought I understood the world, at least at a high level. In my cynical eyes, money runs the world. To a point, money buys everything. Power wins most everything else. So what happens when the people with money and power abuse it, misuse it and give it away for sub-prime mortgages? Then when they screw it all up, the people with the power say forget about it, 700 billion dollar do-over?
Rant done.
Seriously, I don’t understand why the government needs to bail out the largest and richest banks in the world. And then those failed banks give the executives million-dollar payouts because their contract said they deserved it. Seriously, if someone can please explain all this to me I would appreciate it.
Oops, did I say rant done?
On a lighter note, a co-worker told me today about a new t-shirt, found on an auction site:



Damn Rebellion.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oil and Drugs and Sex Oh My

I will always be amazed on what topics stay in the news, and what topics don't. Any topic with anything to do with crazy celebrities saying or doing dumb things seem to stay in the news. If an issue comes up that is actually newsworthy and should be a campaign issue, it seems to disappear very soon.
"... the department's inspector general released three reports detailing how officials at the office had accepted gifts, steered contracts and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of energy firms." Why doesn't this get more press? There are very few articles about this since this news was released, compared to other news posts.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Guess I Was Not Clear On My Point

Forgive me if I was not clear in my post about Palin's email. Let me try to express my point again.
I am not complaining that Palin uses email. Good for her, welcome to the 90's.
I am not complaining that hackers got her into email. For better or worse, that is what they do.
I am not complaining that Palin emailed at work from a personal account. Its called work/life balance.
I am not complaining that Palin uses a free email like Yahoo. Who doesn't use free email; but you get what you pay for.

I am complaining about Palin refusing the turn over emails that she was subpoenaed for, which had to do with the current legal inquiry against her. (I know little of the inquiry so I will not comment about that at this time.) The reason was the same as Karl Rove's, when there was an inquiry about his emails sent a few years back. Rove never used the White House email systems. Instead he always used the Republican National Party's email systems and therefore maintained that the email was outside the subpoena.
I personally do not like much about Rove, but I do respect his intelligence. He used a secure email system.

I personally do not know what was in the emails that were stolen, but if there was any confidential State documents I hope that is at addressed at some level. I know of people fired for less.
I also hope that the people who did break into the account are exposed. I know of people jailed for less.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hackers Access Palin's Personal Yahoo email account

I would be amazed by this if I didn't see this every day.
"A group of computer hackers said yesterday that they had accessed a Yahoo e-mail account of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, publishing some of her private communications to expose what appeared to be her use of a personal account for government business."
This does not surprise me, people use their personal email accounts everyday for business passing confidential and private information. Email is not a secure means of communication.
My favorite line in the article is the following;
"McLeod's Anchorage attorney, Donald C. Mitchell, said Palin declined to comply with a public records request in June to divulge 1,100 e-mails sent to and from her personal accounts, citing executive privilege."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Indian Woman Convicted of Murder By Brain Scan

I saw this on Slashdot.org and it just makes you think.
"Neuroscientist Champadi Raman Mukundan claims his Brain Electrical Oscillations Signature test is so accurate, it can tell whether a person committed or only witnessed an act. In June, an Indian judge agreed, using BEOS to find a woman guilty of killing her former fiancé. Scientific experts are calling the decision "ridiculous" and "unconscionable", protesting that Mukundan's work has not even been peer reviewed. How reliable should a test have to be, when eyewitnesses are notoriously fallible? Does a person have a right to privacy over their own memories, or should society's interest in holding criminals accountable come first?"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Busy at work means slow to update

I know, not many posts lately. Heres some pictures.

Baltimore Inner Habor

Bees

Flower

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Comcast Caps Internet Downloads

Comcast has announced that in October they will officially limit customer downloads to 250 GB a month. It has been rumored before that Comcast has unofficially had download limits before and cut customers off for too much downloading. I think in this age of the Internet and downloadable media, the policy is very short sighted.
Verizon FIOS is my area, but dealing with them is worse than Comcast. At least I have some options. Lots of people don't have options for Internet access.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Viruses In Space

"Computer virus infects International Space Station laptops: A malicious computer virus that steals passwords has been brought on board the International Space Station, NASA has confirmed." As usual, the virus was passed between people sharing files. NASA also said that this was not the first virus in space.
You would think that the screening process was a little more strict to go to space.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Obama, I Really Want To Like Him

In case you missed it, Obama has picked a running mate, Senator from Delaware Joseph Biden. Now this causes me to look at Obama again because I personally like what I have seen of Joe Biden. I have seen him on several news shows and the most memorable are appearances he has made on Bill Maher show on HBO. Everything I have seen and read about him I tend to like. He does have a tendency to put his foot in his mouth, but he also tends to speak more honestly than most politicians that I have seen on TV. Trying to speak honestly in politics will always get you into trouble.
So once again I must think about voting for Obama. If I could only trust someone on some level of politics I would feel so much better about the whole political BS. If McCain can remember how many houses he owns I might vote for him.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

There May Be A Solid Connection Between Things And Cancer

Beware of moisturisers, Cell phones, electricity, oil, gas, cigarettes, coffee, plastic, smoke, red meat, chemicals, and everything else. Those things may cause cancer. And other things may cause cancer, or they may not.
I'm not making light of cancer. I am making light of the way media talks about possible cancer causing agents. Science knows about a lot of chemicals that can promote cancer growth. Any chance the Media gets to print a snappy headline about some everyday product that may promote cancer growth they jump on that.
At the end of the day, the best way to protect yourself is stay way from known cancer agents, eat a healthy diet, live an active life style, get a yearly physical and have a good laugh at least once a day. If you can laugh at yourself once a month that helps too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Amazon.com Prime

(Disclaimer: This post is intended to be informative, but I also am part of the Amazon.com associates programs, so I do get credit for any sales when you click these Amazon.com links. If you don't like me, don't follow the links. I do have Amazon.com Prime service. I like it and use it frequently.)

I always liked shopping at Amazon.com. Back in the mid 90's I thought it would be awesome to be able to go to one website and order anything you needed. Amazon at that time sold mostly books. Back then e-commerce was in its infancy, you could not find everything that you wanted, search engines were slow and less accurate and web pages were just text with no video being viewable over slow dial-up modems.

So fast forward to today. Google indexes over 1 billion web pages, every page now seems to contain video and flash animation, and e-commerce is booming. Amazon.com now sells almost everything. But the the biggest down fall of ordering online is shipping costs. Some places cost shipping & handling fees that cost more than the product.

So when gas prices started to rise it made even more sense to shop online, but I hated the high shipping costs. I saw an advertisement about the Amazon.com program where, for a yearly fee, you get free 2 day shipping, and 3.99 for one-day. Being a frequent shopper to the website, I read about it and decided to try it.

Now every deal has its problems. The only two issues I found are:

- The yearly cost is a little high, 80 bucks a year. Amazon.com is offering a free month trial, but make sure that you use the service to get your money out of it.

- The free 2-day shipping only applies to Amazon.com-sold products. These means you still pay shipping with third-party sellers.

This service has been very useful, especially when gas prices were so high this summer. At the highest point in gas prices, it would cost us 10 dollars in gas to go to the local Target, but with free shipping through Amazon.com , we only had to wait a day or two.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

No criminal prosecution For Former Justice Department Employees

For those who don't know about the Justice Department selectively hiring people, read here.
The Justice Departments Inspector General and its internal ethics office have found that officials at the Justice Department rejected candidates with possible liberal backgrounds for what were supposed to be non-political jobs and hired conservative Republicans.
If you want to read about the technical stuff, the search they used is talked about here.
The Attorney General has rejected the idea of criminally prosecuting anyone. From one article I read the following;
“Where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute,” he said. “But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime,” he said. As the inspector general’s report acknowledged, the hiring violations were such a case, because the wrongdoing violated federal civil service law, but not criminal law, he said.
Lemony and I argued this question but I will pose it to you. Is it not the definition of crime to violate the law?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Remembering Isaac Hayes & Bernie Mac

Being from the generation I am, I know Isaac Hayes mostly from South Park. Probably a shame to know him mostly singing about "Chocolate Salty Balls", and "Simultaneous". He was a very talented man.
Bernie Mac was a comedian that I always enjoyed. He had his own brand of humor that I usually enjoyed. I loved him in the "Ocean 11" movies.

Russia's Iraq?

You may not have noticed between the Olympic news, the Presidential race, bank failings and nelebrity news, but Russia invaded the Former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Since something like 85% of Americans can't find Iraq on a map I doubt most people could tell you where Georgia is, or the history of the former Soviet Republic. The BBC has a map on the bottom of this article if your curious.
What kind of country would invade another for an oil pipeline?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Just trying to keep up, some more pics

We have been busy this last week. Work, kids, house, and friends have been filling our days--and nights, in some cases. Since it has been a week since the last post, I thought I would go through my gigs of photos and post a few.

Here are a couple interesting pictures from this spring. We were at the park when our middle daughter said she had found a fairy mushroom in the tree. I questioned her on what she was referring to and our oldest daughter then said that she had seen it also. So I got up, and to my surprise and amazement there was a slit in the tree...












and when peeking into the slit you could see a glowing white mushroom.





















I guess my daughter is right. Fairies do exist.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

I am really not a "dog person", but my parents have the most wonderful Golden Retriever mix who is the sweetest thing. He's been the only pooch ever invited to come into my home.

Unfortunately for the dog, he's beginning to really age now, and the summer weather on top of that has wreaked havoc on his coat (not to mention my mother's vacuum cleaner).

This is what Doobie looked like before the shedding got out of hand. This is a full winter coat:


And here is The Doob after my mother took him to the pet groomer last week. He looks like he's wondering what he did that was so bad. Or maybe he's thinking, "If you wanted a Yellow Lab, maybe that's what you should have got in the first place!":



Remind me never to leave any hair in my mother's drain or anything.

Hey Mom, save the hair next time, and we'll knit him a sweater to hide his shame.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

News Rant

Thanks to work and other goings on I have not had any time to post.
I thought I would post a few thoughts on current news. Being a news junkie, I read the news frequently and often have more to say about it than people want to hear.
The first piece of news I read today was about California banning restaurants from using trans fats. This is not the first time that trans fats were banned, but it drives me crazy to see the false attention to the mass population's health and well-being. If the government wanted to protect the health and well-being of the population then there are much more effective things that they could do. Lower the highway speed, provide basic health care, remove chemical carcinogens from food additives, enforce mandatory paid vacations to relieve stress, provide more and better equipped law enforcement, enforce zero-emissions vehicle testing, etc…
Anyway, some of the other news I have been reading was about the mortgage and banking failures in the last few weeks. The largest banks are writing off billions if not trillions of dollars, the Federal Government is closing the mortgage companies that were giving loans, with no verification of incomes, to millions of people. All this just based on greed.
And I couldn’t complain about the news without talking about gas prices. Can someone explain to me why gas prices keep going up with production about the same, and the national oil reserve continues to grow. The biggest problem is not enough refineries in the US. Everyone wants cheap gas, but no one wants a refinery built anywhere near them. The government still taxes gas at crazy levels, still diverts gas to the reserve; the oil companies still make record profits, and Congress is still looking into it.
At least you won’t have to worry about trans fats.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dirty Old Lady Post

First, the dirty part. Thanks to my good friend Mitch, for knowing that I'd appreciate this:

And for the old ladies, I give you... doilies. Years ago, when I was a little girl and my father ran an antiques shop, there were always old, yellowing, sometimes badly damaged doilies about the house. I loved to study them and try to figure out just how they were made. I wondered how many hours of work went into each one. My mom didn't knit or crochet, but both crafts always fascinated me. My aunt taught me to knit when I was 12, and my friend Weeblet taught me to crochet a few years ago (thanks, love!). In exchange, I taught her how to knit socks--a skill which she has since achieved well beyond the realm of my own expertise. We began my crochet lessons with granny squares, which I struggled with terribly at first, until one day it wasn't challenging enough, and I decided to realize my childhood dream of making doilies.

These were crocheted in size 10 cotton thread, with a 1.5 mm steel crochet hook, using patterns that I found on the internet.

The Ripe Wheat Doily (15" across), a gift for my mother-in-law:

Another view:

The Petite Pineapple Doily (8" across), which was my very first doily:

I dedicate this post to my Grandma, my absolute favorite Dirty Old Lady.
And to my furry pal Osiris, who apparently thinks he is a doily, too:


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mama Got A Brand New Ride

After my 1999 Windstar (which I'd bought used, in 2004) gave us a scare at Hershey Park, we decided to make haste in getting the new vehicle we've been talking about for a year now.

I'm not much of a sentimental gal, but I really loved that Windstar. I maintained it well, and in return, it was really good to me. The model did have a reputation for having problems with the transmission, but we never had any trouble. It never left me stranded anywhere. It was comfortable, reliable, and fun to drive. ("Fun", for me, in this case, meaning "comfortable and reliable".) Oh, and clean! That was our first vehicle with leather seats, and led us to resolve to never back to cloth. "Clean" is a real priority for me.

Although I've always preferred to buy used, not only out of financial necessity, but also a sort of sense of responsibility (call it a Charlie Brown Complex, but somebody has to love the gently-used vehicles), Wort didn't have to twist my arm too terribly to get me to consider a new vehicle, in this case. It just made sense for us at this point. After perusing Toyota Siennas online, we walked into the dealership today knowing exactly what we---er, I wanted. The kids and I bade our sad farewells to our nearly-denarian, four-wheeled friend; to whom I had never bestowed a moniker, but who shall be hereafter known as "Old Reliable" (it almost doesn't seem right to not have a eulogy); and off we went, into the showroom.

In aiming to convey to the salesman exactly what features I wanted, I had to bite my tongue against a rant about the general "obnoxiousisity" of having DVD players in minivans (I'm aghast!), especially since it was part of the package in the model I was eyeing. (Imagine my horror when the guy tried to sell me on the point that the kids can play PS2 while on the road!)
The whole process was pretty straightforward: "I want to see that one." "OK, I'm ready to test drive it." "Yep, I'll take it."
I'm sure we'll even use the damn DVD player, and I bet we'll even like it. So stick a fork in me.

It rides smoothly. It has bells! It has whistles. It has an auxillary jack for my iPod. It has Bluetooth. No kitchen sink, but I can sure fit one in the cargo area. And best of all, it doesn't leak radiator fluid everywhere I go. w00-h00t!

It's dark outside now, so I didn't take any pictures of my actual car. Here is the closest image that I could swipe off of a website, but mine has a contrasting trim (which, somehow, is important for you to know):

The website I swiped this one from describes the dash as "bland" (for shame! It's clean, I tell you). This one seems to show a navigational system, a feature which did not come with my own vehicle:

A car review website described the interior as being "cavernous", which lends great appeal for soccer moms and serial killers alike (neither of which am I, by the by, but the space is nice all the same). Oh, and the hideaway seats are push-button automatic, so we can grow older more gracefully, without setting our backs out trying to move seats. It even has at least six different kinds of hooks, for hanging garments, handbags, trash bags, cargo nets, and grocery bags, and securing bungee cords; perfect for a veritable "bag lady" like me (can you hear Wort laughing?):
The middle seats can be reconfigured to make a bench, which will be fun to try. It might make access to the third row seat easier. Here, they are shown as I received them, although I didn't seem to get the "teddy bear trim package". (Oh, bother!):

Thanks, Wort, for my totally posh "Mom-mobile". Hey, maybe I can pick you up sometime... (Baby, take a ride in my coupe, you make me wanna... shoop.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hershey Park and Car Issues

So, I have put a little extra time in at work and decided to spend some time with my family and take them to Hershey Park for a day. We got there a little early to see the tour ride. When we get there I see two trails of liquid coming out of the 10 year old car: one is water from the air conditioner, the other is coolant. A lot of it. As anyone knows, a broken car can make any trip suck. Long story short: we called our mechanic, who suggested Stop Leak wich we picked up, and we made the best of the day. Got home with no issues. All and all, it was still a good day with the family.
At the park we did few rides, but it was a VERY hot day so we took it easy and spent about an hour at the arcade to let the kids cool off. Lemony's favorite thing to do at amusement parks is the roller coasters. I don't like them, but I will do them. The kids don't like them a lot, but once they get in the mood, they like the kiddie coasters. The one ride we all enjoy is the log flume. Thanks to my waterproof Olympus camera, I present to you: our log flume ride.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Roman Days

In 2007 we went to Roman Days in Maryland. The Legions web site is here. In 2008 Roman Days is in September. Just a few of the pictures I took.





Friday, July 11, 2008

I wish I could like Barack Obama

I wish I could like Obama. He appears as a fresh face in politics, speaks well, communicates with ease, and claims to be a hope for change. (I say claims to be a hope for change, because I doubt actual change can come from one man.)
But along with his past deals in state politics and overall lack of experience, he just keeps showing that he is just a common politician.
As posted on CNN and reportedly lots of blogs Obama says one thing and does another. Sen. Barack Obama voted for a federal surveillance law that he had previously opposed and vowed to help filibuster.
Please don't get me wrong, I don't like McCain either, because I think he was crushed by his own party in 2000 and went a little loopy. Hey, those are the choices for the next President.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cholesterol, Tastes Great But Will Kill You

So with all the recent health issues we have had in our family, along with getting yelled at by my eye doctor and stomach doctor, I went and had a physical for the first time since my early twenties. It was the first serious blood work in five years. As usual my glucose was off, typical in my family, and I need to keep a better eye on that now. The new finding was that my cholesterol is high. Borderline, to be precise. After I looked it up here, I found I knew less about cholesterol than I probably should. This is all a good thing, because no other results were high and a little self control can correct this easily.
Bad part is I misplaced my self control a long time ago, when it comes to my eating habits.

FLL and Lego Robotics

Last year, our eldest daughter was part of a team of four 9-14 year old kids that competed in First Lego League (FLL), an international competition that uses Lego robotics pieces. The competition is three-part:
  • Research and solve a real-world problem based on the Challenge theme.
  • Present their research and solutions.
  • Build an autonomous robot using engineering concepts.
This year our 2 oldest children will be joining the team, Lemony will be assisting with the project, and I will be mentoring, as last year. Our youngest would love to join too, but he will have to wait a few more years.

It is a lot of commitment, but I feel it teaches many important lessons that you just can't get most places. I look forward to the working with everyone on the team.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will answer any serious posts.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

How To Sell Out

How to sell out and give up your goals and ideals in life:
Step 1: Go to college even if you don't want to and have no idea what you want to do.
Step 2: Get married.
Step 3: Have a child.
Step 4: Have another child.
Step 5: Get a job working for 'The Man'.
Step 6: Buy a house in the suburbs.
Step 7: Have another child.
Step 8: Get a job in management.
Step 9: Get a haircut and remove the ponytail you have had since college.

Two points to this post: one, I have short hair for the first time in almost 2 decades. Second point is that fact that most lists end at an even number so I have at least one more thing to add in the future.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Car driving video close call

Let me set this clip up a little. If you have been reading my blog, you know I recently put a pinhole camera in my car the records to a compact flash device. The reason I did this is because the things I see on the road every day drive me crazy and I wanted to record them. That is the main reason I started this new site, to share these videos.
So, I am driving to work and the garbage truck has paper flying out of it now and then (the camera does not catch this unfortunately) and the pickup behind it is driving too fast and too close, in my opinion. Now comes the fast black car. This driver is driving faster, but the pickup thinks that he should be in front. The pickup cuts the car off once, then twice, at which point the black car takes the curb to go around. I swear the car was 2 inches from swiping both the pickup and garbage truck. What you can't see well on the video is when the car slightly fish-tailing next to the garbage truck.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

They grow up so fast

Our eldest daughter was complaining today about doing her Math. Months ago, we had taken all the kids' Nintendo DS systems with the understanding that they needed to finish their Math books to get them back. At this point our eldest had only two pages left in her book, but was still in tears on sitting down and finishing it.
Well today we received a few boxes of Lego robotics, and extra parts for the upcoming FLL (First Lego League) Robotics competitions. (I will post on this later; our older two are both in FLL this year.) All three kids were very excited about opening the boxes, but they were told they had to do their math before opening the boxes. You would of thought we asked the eldest to kill her cat.
Long story short, eight hours latter, (not exaggerating) things had settled down. Most of the Math was done, tears were dried and everyone was getting ready for bed. Our eldest comes down and asks:
"When I finish my Math book tomorrow, can we open the Lego boxes?"
"Yes, after your Math is done."
"What else do I get when I get when I finish my book?" she asked.
"What do you mean?"
"What else do I get for finishing?"
"Knowledge."
"What else?"
"We stop yelling at you."
"No Dad, what do I get?"
"What are you talking about?"
"What else?"
"I have no idea what you are talking about." After this goes on for a few more minutes, I finally got it.
"I now know you are growing into a woman; you are speaking in hints. If you want to ask for something, just ask for it."
She finally got to the point and said in an exaggerated voice, "Can I have my DS back after I am done with my Math book?"
I said what any good dad would say. "No, go to bed."

10 Things You Can Like About $4 Gas

This is a Time news piece I followed off of CNN. "10 Things You Can Like About $4 Gas" -by Amanda Ripley is an insightful piece about the positive changes that can come from expensive gas.
From the article :

"You suddenly are reminded how the economy works," says Eric Roston, author of a new book about energy, The Carbon Age. "Nobody wants high prices for oil. But there's also no faster mechanism to change behavior. " The suffering will go on. But the story, like any good tragedy, is not without redemption.

I personally wouldn't mind a 4 day work week.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Work, work, work

I have been busy with work so I have not had a chance to post anything. I thought I would post a few pics to keep things updated. These are from a recent trip to DC.




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I am officially old

My family was sitting around the dining room table, discussing which movie they wanted to watch later this evening. Our youngest mentioned he wanted to see 'Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation'. Jimmy Stewart being a big favorite in our house, this was not an uncommon request. My wife commented that our son has been enjoying classic movies lately. Our oldest child then stated, "We could watch 'Short Circuit', that's a classic movie." After my wife and I stopped laughing, my wife told our daughter that she wasn't much older than her when that movie was made.
Not missing a beat, our eldest said, "That's pretty old."

Monday, June 23, 2008

sh!tpi$sf*ckc&ntc*cks@ck*rm%th&rf*ck*rt!ts

George Carlin died on Sunday of heart failure at the age of 71. I wonder if he ever got the answer to his question, why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Netflix, Roku player and Homeschool

I love to watch movies, which makes Netflix great for me and my family. Besides wasting our time with movies, we also use Netflix to get a lot of documentaries for our children to supplement our homeschool curriculum. At times, 4 out of our 6 at-home DVDs are documentaries. The instant-view feature was a good start, but the kids just didn't enjoy watching movies on the computer screen. I have been waiting for Netflix to bring streaming to the TV, and now they have.
I will not bother to review the box itself; Google it and you will find enough reviews. The small box by Roku allows you to watch movies from there instant selection on your TV over your high speed Internet connection. The biggest advantage for me is that I no longer will have to fill my DVD queue with documentaries for the kids. The current biggest disadvantage is the lack of currently available movies, but that will change over time. At the price of $100, it makes a great deal, if you have Netflix already.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spore Creature Creator

Spore, for those who live under rocks or don't play video games, is one of the most anticipated video games of the year. It is a sim that lets you grow from a single cell organism to a space exploring civilization. To help feed us game consumers they released the Creature Creator, a part of the game that lets you create different creatures to import into the full game when it is released in September. One feature of this game is they allow you to export video of your new creatures. I present to you: Dancing Creatures.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Infrared Photography

I took these pictures about a year ago, and I still enjoy looking at them. I was experimenting with an IR filter for my Nikon D50. Because the IR filter blocks almost all visible light, the shutter speed is really slow and a tripod is needed. First I set up the shot with no filter, a remote for the camera, and a secure tripod. I then previewed the picture to make sure the composition was what I wanted. Then I very carefully screwed on the IR filter and took another picture. At this point, I was shooting blind because the images are too dark to view. Because the camera has an internal filter to remove IR light, I had to process the raw image in Photoshop to correct the light levels. I like the results.