Wednesday, February 23, 2005

If you find me wandering in the park with a coffee pot in my hand, call my wife to come get me.

I’d like to think that human beings aren’t that smart, and that the only reason we’ve been able to build freeway systems, get to the point where only 2% of the population is employed in producing food, developed remote control toilets, etc. is that we are smarter than, say, a pair of pants but not by much, and that something or somebody smarter than us will soon take the reigns and start making decisions that make more sense, but I think the sad truth is that there is something lacking in me. That last sentence has 92 words, by the way.

I have an assigned parking space behind the building (space 75), but when opportunity presents itself, as it did yesterday after lunch, I will park on the street by the front door to the building. When I went to leave last night after work, I looked out at the street, saw my car with the little blue reserved lot tag dangling from the rear view mirror, and though, “Huh, someone else who works here has a car just like mine.” Then I walked around the back of the building and stared at my empty spot. This morning after calling my wife to tell her I’d left my lunch sitting on the kitchen counter and could she please put it back in the fridge, I pulled into the same spot at the curb and got out of my car at 7:48 AM. I went inside, unlocked my office, threw my keys on the desk, grabbed the coffee pot and went outside to dump the coffee on the rhododendrons. Then I sat in my car with only NPR and an empty coffee pot for companionship for the next ten minutes until my coworkers showed up. I’m glad they had a nice laugh, but I’m kind of concerned. This is how it starts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Berries of Wrath Lay Heavy on the Vine

Yesterday we got outside and worked in the yard, really for the first time this spring. Every year I cut back another section of backberries and japanese knotweed (or Polygonum cuspidatum for Kieth who abhores common names) and get more grass going. This is the perfect time of year for a sneak attack on the blackberries. While the plant doesn't drop its leaves and hibernate, it is at its lowest point at this time of year. The blackberries are on the ropes and my shears are the rope-a-dope baby.

The knotweed, on the other hand is a much more tenacious foe. I cut it back, dig up the roots balls and religiously pluck any shoots that come up in my recaptured territory, but it just keeps coming back. I have one section that I cuts down, dug up, and seeded with grass three years ago and I still have knotweed coming up each spring. Anyone have any silver bullets?

Also, yesterday we fired up the barbecue for the first time since last fall. It was warm enough that after finishing work I sat on the patio and had a beer and watch the sunlight move up the trees after the sun had gone down over the hill. It was a moment for quiet reflection and deep thoughts - not that any came to mind in the end.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Clark Creek gets a makeover. Phew! I've been meaning to get around to modifying my template for some time now.

     In keeping with the spirit of the Internet, I started with someone else's template, read a bunch of tutorials and how-to sites, and learned a lot along the way. Today I figured out how to reference images in my title, put up an rss feed, control css layout, and learned about blogger-specific tags - all in all a productive day!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

This posting is in response to Kasmira’s postings about trying to leash train her kitty. I wanted to let her know that it can be done and describe a leash trained attack kitty I once knew. I don’t know this particular kitty’s name, so we’ll just call him Peter after The Peter the Kitty of MOBA fame.

When I was in middle school and later high school, my friend Aaron and I spent many happy hours wading up and down the small valley cut by Coal Creek, not far from Clark Creek. Coal Creek cuts through several hundred feet of soil and rock, most of it interesting varieties of sedimentary rock and deposited clays. The stream is currently cutting its way through a mud-grey sedimentary rock that is chock-a-block with prehistoric oyster fossils and long narrow turtella spiral shelled snail like the ones that still live there but 3-4 times larger. As the name suggests, there are also several thin layers of spongy and rather anemic coal which we mined with sticks and tried to burn in our campfires.

Where Stewart Creek joins with Coal Creek, there is a convenient series of small waterfalls and ramps that lead up to the level of the county road. Some of the pools cut by the waterfalls are up to five feet deep and only several feet in diameter. I know of at least one cave in the area. At any rate, the path of Stewart Creek leads the wader and explorer up from Coal Creek to the Coal Creek General Store where we would go to buy our Snickers bars and hot dogs.

Behind the store, there lived and old woman, who had a cat she kept on a leash. On several occasions we watched her from the brushy banks of the creek as she exercised her cat. It would turn when she turned and keep right by her side. She would also hook its lead line to a long clothesline and let it run sprints all up and down the yard. I don’t know how long it took to leash break the feline, but it can be done.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Kitties that are inspired and inspiring


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Fleshtone is #FFCC99

For any of you web developers out there, for a good time, try googling "crayola hexadecimal"

Four Tuesdays later, I still wouldn't recommend putting your fingers down on the top of a woodstove. The blisters are gone but the new skin is still quite tender in hot water or when doing rough duty. Interestingly the fingerprint on my index finger still hasn't come through clearly. I could commit crimes without fear of being caught as long as it only required the use of my pointer finger - ringing the doorbell and running away? Poking someone in the ribs on a crowded elevator? Illicitly picking my nose? Picking my friends' noses? Hmmm...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Three weeks after putting my fingers down on the woodstove top, I still don't recommend it to viewers at home.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Reasons I'm Glad I'm Out of the Military

1. I can put my hands in my pockets
2. I don't have to wear a hat at all times while out of doors
3. No more Coroframs

Graduation 2003

Right now I’m taking Political Science 542 at night. This is Advanced Social Research Methods II. In spite of it being a statistical methods course and me having a historical aversion to math, I’m for the most part digging it. True, I have nights where I sit in class so bored and tired that it hurts, but that’s true of any night class. Sometimes I secretly scope out everyone in the class and then try to figure out who would mate with whom if we were all stranded on a desert island together, or I try to mentally build the next deck I want to build, making myself do it board by board, not adding a new piece until I can hold onto a mentally image of the whole thing with the last board I added, BUT, in this class, that sort of mental diversion is kept to a minimum and I mostly pay attention.

This brings me to a social research experiment I performed myself in the interests of averting boredom. Some time ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to a photo of his brother that he had posted on to be rated by other viewers. His brother got a 9.9 rating. This wasn’t much of a surprise. We already knew he is a hottie and that’s part of why he does very well in sales. This was my introduction to hot or not dot com. For those who haven’t been there, it’s a site where people post pictures of themselves and then visitors to the site can rate the picture from one to ten based strictly on the person’s physical attractiveness. The viewer sees a posted picture, chooses their rating for it, and then sees what the average rating for that photo has been so far.

Hotbed of narcissism that this site is, I was intrigued. How often do you get a chance to find out the average person’s unbiased, completely honest opinions about physical beauty? I theorized that the results would be skewed because the audience wouldn’t be a representative cross section of society and made some predictions about race, age, obesity, etc. and then spent about 20 minutes rating pictures and trying to guess what the average would be before I saw it.

Next I created several profiles and uploaded a picture of myself with varying degrees of photoshopping used to deny the viewer information. Photo number one was just my face, then my face in a graduation mortarboard hat, then enough of my body to show that I am a college graduate who graduated with some sort of honors, then the same photo with wedding band showing, then the full photo as you see it with my lovely spouse in the picture. What I found was that the picture got a higher rating with each added piece of information that it communicated to the viewer.

Hypothesis #1: People find someone who has achieved some level of education and successfully attracted a mate to be more attractive than the same person had they not done these things. Hypothesis #2: People find a photograph of another person to be more or less attractive based on the amount of detail about the person’s life that it imparts. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I was thinking today about why it is important to me to never say anything overtly political on my blog. Every now and then I slip up but usually constrain myself to agreeing with people I share a common view with when they say something about a particular issue or voicing a dissenting opinion in their forum if its appropriate. As far as I know, I've yet to make my first pissy posting.
I guess I was thinking about this because whenever I hear a reference to "the bloggers" in the main stream media its always in reference to political blogs that hound Dan Rather or somehow influence the search for WMDs, or whatever. I picture a locust swarm scouring websites and issuing torrents of freedom of information requests, and while that probably happens and its probably a positive influence in the world, it has very little to do with why I blog and more why I so enjoy checking my blogs when I get the time.
What I really dig is the mundane, everyday, true-to-life postings of a small circle of people who have similar problems, joys, and hardships as do I. I'd much rather read about the quest for the right underwear to wear under a Navy birthday ball gown or what its like to lug a dump truck load of mulch into the backyard or how someone I know is rewiring their house because these are problems and experiences I've had. OK, I've never worn a gown to a formal occasion in public, but I did go to five formal balls and so I can relate.
The point is, I'd rather read the daily musings and reports of people I'd like to grab a cup of coffee with than participate in what I hear about political blogging. If I want to hear my own opinions affirmed about politics, I can choose which talk shows to tune in to. I'd rather read things that touch me and I’ll remember when I'm doing things like lugging load after load of firewood up the steps, or trying to figure out my own wiring problems or how to keep the critters who indiscriminately poop out of the house.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Weekend Well Spent.

Sunday night, time to wrap up the weekend and hunker down for another week. This one was quite pleasant as we had family and friends, several nice meals, and lots of enjoyable hours spent. Saturday Brit had her annual Winter Blues quilting party. There must have been 15 women in our little house and several of us males circulating and eating up more than our share of the goodies.

Today was cold and drizzeling. B, Thomas, and I cocooned in the house with the woodstove, computers and residual snacking throughout the day courtesy of leftovers from the party - time well spent.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Enemy Number One

The Evil-doer

This is what happened two Tuesdays ago late in the evening. I was bending down between an ottoman and an easy chair, trying to recapture one of Thomas' many things, when I lost my balance. Looking back I realize that I was trying to put one foot in front of the other and bend down and around to the right. Instead I lost my balance and toppled to the left towards the stove. I couldn't bring my left foot around because of the ottoman. I had the choice of putting my left cheek against the top of the stove or pushing off with my right three fingers and thumb. An easy choice for me but seeing as I've been a bit remiss since then in the diapers and dishes dept, maybe not a given for Brit.

For those at home I wouldn't reccomend trying it. If you're curious try doing everthing that you usually do with your primary hand, like buttoning your cuff, opening a can, or brushing your teeth with either the inside of your thumb and your pinky or your other hand. Typing and mouse clicking hasn't been easy but I guess I'm thankful its a temporary condition. I'm proud to say that I can brush left-handed and change a diaper with seven fingers.

If you check this blog every so often, you may have wondered why it looks like we haven't posted since the middle of last month or why some of the posts you remember aren't here anymore. Let us just say that, on the advice of a level headed relative, we decided to take down some of our home-related postings. I will probably start posting again soon but, for now, am taking a hiatus.