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.

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?"
"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.