Monday, November 30, 2009

Hurricane Karsten

I came home from a meeting several days ago and found the house a bit warm. When I unlocked and the opened the doors to the office it felt like the blast of heat you feel when entering a Costco in the wintertime. "Whoa!" I shouted so that Sara would hear. "What happened in here?" We both realized the answer at the same time - Karsten.

The thermostat was set to 89 degrees. And though the house had not yet been able to reach that temperature, the register in the office had been pumping out hot air for hours into the closed room while the rest of the house with open doors and our open floor plan was much more equilibrated.

This incident didn't really surprise us. Karsten began as a minor blip on the radar out over the Pacific, sucking on tubes of toothpaste when he wanted a refreshing treat. But in recent months he has picked up quite a bit of steam. He became a tropical storm several weeks ago when he plugged in Sara's curling iron and left it setting on the carpet all day long.

But now he as reached full on hurricane status and made landfall at the same time. The thermostat incident was brought about by a combination of Karsten's fascination with buttons and switches and his recent discovery that our tall pub chairs are easy to push around on the wood floor with their felt anti-scuff pads on each leg. Karsten will spend hours of each day pushing the chairs around to all of the different wall switches, turning on ceiling fans, lamps, outdoor lights, and bathroom fans. This led him to figure out that he can carry the step stool from the bathroom for the carpeted areas where the chairs don't slide well. This is why we now keep our bedroom (to keep him out of the curling irons, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.) and the office (computer hacking) locked up when not in use.

He's also using the chairs to help himself to anything he wants in the fridge, freezer or pantries.

Uncooked pasta.

Cheese sticks.

Ice cream.

It wouldn't be so bad if he actually ate the stuff he finds. I really don't understand how the boy weighs so much. Nothing seems to make it into he stomach except liquids. He's got vacuum-like suction and can down a sippy cup in mere seconds. The solids, however, are just a source of entertainment for Karsten. Crackers turn into powder when stomped on. The pasta makes a delightful amount of noise when dumped out slowly from atop the counter. Cheese sticks can be kneaded and molded into a variety of shapes and projectiles. And the ice cream - not only does he dirty every spoon he can find but he doesn't even have the decency to put it back in the freezer when he's done.

At least he seems to be past his toilet fixation. No more emergency baths or fishing toys out.

But he is starting to throw things down the stairs. Large things. If Karsten can lift it or at least push it, there is a very strong chance it will at some point take a tumble down to the ground floor.

I even had to buy a new keyboard off eBay for Sara's laptop just to use for spare parts to fix the original keyboard. The problem isn't so much that Karsten pops off the keys (he can even unlatch the lid so "hey Ducheznee - why don't you just close it?" is not a viable solution). The problem is that I can't ever seem to get them all back together (with their hinges and tiny rubber springs) without breaking or losing at least one piece.

Amazingly, Karsten can't climb out of his crib yet and doesn't try to take off his diaper. But I did catch him wearing a princess dress once, and that concerns me.

Roomba needs to invent a babysitting robot. Karsten could wear a bracelet or something that the robot would be able to track and follow him around with a video camera and a microphone. We would be able to monitor that feed from the computer or TV or maybe a portable device we carry with us.

UPDATE - Dec. 1st
Apparently this list will grow. Sara is presently cooking dinner and Karsten just tried to light a napkin on fire by inching it closer and closer beneath the pot of boiling water.

UPDATE - Dec. 4th
Karsten can now climb out of his crib. Brooklyn taught him. She was very proud of herself. Now Karsten sleeps with a lid on the crib.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Yumb and Yumber

It's been a full year since the last Thanksgivagain, but just one day since we most recently enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast. The turkey on the left fed our small army on Thursday with Sara's family and on Friday we recycled the black one.

Until next year - Happy Thanksgivagain.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Setting A Precedent

I found this article from Politico quite humorous and entertaining. While the press still has a very long way to go (south) with Obama before it reaches the same level of disdain with which it treated President Bush, this seems like a small step in the right direction.

The author has done some research into some of the crazy claims that routinely come out of the White House and both corrects erroneous statements and puts them into perspective. More specifically, Obama's (over)use of the word 'unprecedented', is called out. Indeed, his use of the word 'unprecedented' truly is without precedent.

One of my favorite parts is about halfway through the piece when the deputy press secretary defends the claims and pretends to know the will of the American people on the issues of health care reform and energy reform. If support for these bad ideas were truly overwhelming as he insinuates, why aren't they done yet? I mean, Obama owns both the executive and legislative branches and still can't seem to peddle his poison successfully.

Obama talks about a transparent government. And while there are a great many secretive dealings going on within his administration, I do believe he is at least living up to this particular promise - we can all see right through him. He's not fooling any but the most naive among us.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Hero - Joe Lieberman?

The epic blunder that is the current push for health care reform managed to get one wheel off of the rails of self-destruction today, thanks to former Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman.

Lieberman says that he will not vote for a bill that includes any possibility of a public option. Democrats are depending on Lieberman's vote to reach the filibuster-proof 60 votes it needs to pass whatever they want.

While the public option is hardly the only thing devastatingly wrong with the Democrat sponsored version of the bill, I don't really care as long as it fails.

I don't even care whether Lieberman's intentions are genuine. Maybe he's just posturing for something. Maybe he really doesn't like the public option as he claims. Lieberman correctly points out that the federal government is already budgeting to be more than $21 trillion in debt within the next ten years and that a public option on health care will add a significant amount to that total.

The only thing I care about is that Lieberman is telling the truth. That would be reform that I could support - an honest politician - someone that says one thing and then does what he said he would do, instead of something else.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Fast and the Furious

Madison has a best friend at school. She's an adorable little girl that was also in her Kindergarten class last year and now sits next to Madison in the 1st grade. Sara arranged Madison's first real play date for her and her friend at our house one day last month. In the middle of the night Madison became ill. Unbeknownst to us at the time, her friend also became very sick. Her mom called us the next day to warn us that her daughter was sick and that the doctors thought it might be the swine flu.

Madison was really sick for a little more than a day and then began to recover. Her friend, however, became more and more ill. It is extremely serious. She is currently hospitalized in Intensive Care and has been put into a medically-induced coma. Whether or not it really was the swine flu, we don't know. She is now battling pneumonia. She's already missed five straight weeks of school.


Yesterday at church Madison learned about fasting from her Primary teacher. Later that afternoon, Madison excitedly suggested that we should all fast for her friend to get better - and so we did. She loves her friend. We used the opportunity to talk more about fasting. We skipped dinner last night and both Madison and Brooklyn even wanted to skip breakfast this morning to get their two meals in.

I hadn't been home more than 10 minutes from dropping Brooklyn off at preschool when her teacher called. She said that Brooklyn told her she couldn't eat the snack because she was fasting, and the teacher wanted to make sure she was understanding everything correctly and that she respected our wishes. I explained about Madison's friend and how Brooklyn was excited to participate, but that I didn't really expect her to skip two meals. She could certainly have snacks if she chose to.

Madison also told her teacher that she was fasting for her friend and classmate. Her teacher said that was a very nice thing to do. Lunch, however, brought with it an entirely different response. Madison easily fasted all the way until lunch time and was quite happy to do it. She really loves her friend. We had talked earlier in the morning about saying a short, silent prayer before she ate to properly end her fast. She's not the least bit timid about praying in public - at restaurants, Disneyland, wherever.

As she lowered her head at her table, one of the school's staff [name reluctantly withheld] interrupted her by saying, "You stop it with the silly prayer thing."

I'm pretty steamed about this. I'm ready to launch a crusade. It would have been one thing to say, "I'm sorry Madison, but the courts have removed God from schools." But to belittle a six-year-old for something so innocent as asking a blessing on her food??? Nearly 85% of the country believes in some form of god. She wasn't baptizing her friends with sprinkles from her Juicy-Juice or preaching the four horsemen from her lunch table. Madison quoted this verbatim several different times this afternoon, so I don't think she's making it up. I told Madison I wanted to call the principal to talk about it and she freaked out, "No, please don't call the school. Then I'll get in even more trouble. That's what happened to *Jimmy* (not his real name). The same thing happened to him and his mom called the school and then that teacher got him in trouble for telling. Promise me you won't call."

This wasn't helping to calm my ire at all. However, I agreed to not call the school at this point. I do want to talk to Jimmy's parents just to corroborate Madison's story about their son. This may well be the feather that tips my scale. We allow Satan in schools, so why not God? Fair is fair, right? But that's not even what I'm upset about. I'm mad that an adult at Madison's school - an authority figure - a role model - took a position like that and would denigrate a small child that had not done anything wrong. Is Madison supposed to feel ashamed now? Is she supposed to apologize? Does the teacher believe she saved Madison from heading down the 'dangerous' path of a god-fearing person? Why could the teacher have been more like Brookie's teacher? A simple phone call - "Did you know your daughter prays? With your permission, I'd like to give her a switchblade and a pack of Camels so she doesn't start to think she's actually a good person."

Why do we, the 85%, allow the other 15% to dictate all of the rules. We're the ants in A Bug's Life. There are waaaaay more people on our side but we feel weak against our would be grasshopper oppressors. If we were to ever unite under a common cause, no prayer-hating lunch supervisor would stand a snowball's chance.


I recounted to Madison the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego - three young men that were persecuted for praying. Brookie summed up the lesson nicely, saying that even if they're tossing her in the oven like Hansel and Gretel, she'll just keep right on praying.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

YouTube Gems - Play

I am continually amazed at how creative some people are. This is really a simple idea and probably not very difficult at all to physically (digitally, really) create. But the process of conceptualizing the idea and then making it a reality - that's what impresses me so much.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chew Toy

Imagine laboring all day on something that you feel passionate about, only to have its supposed value fall on deaf ears or blind eyes.

Let's say you make Christmas fruitcakes. Your recipe has been handed down from generation to generation. You spend days planning, shopping, baking and wrapping dozens of your prized fruitcakes and give them freely to everyone you know.

Then, when visiting a friend at Easter, you notice one of your fruitcakes being used as a doorstop.

Or that TPS report you worked on for two weeks is tossed immediately to the recycle bin; unread.

Or that nice sweater you bought for your sister has been turned into a chew toy for the dog.

You can probably understand why these musicians are offended.

Turns out their "music" is perfect for "torturing" terrorists. The musicians are up in arms about it, but I'm not sure why.
  1. Are they upset that somebody holds their music in such poor regard that listening to it is considered torture?
  2. Are they upset that the terrorists are being forced to listen to their music as opposed to that of another, perhaps more talented, musician?
  3. Are they upset because they might not be receiving air play royalties?
  4. Are they upset that the terrorists are being made to listen to music as a form of torture, period, as opposed to having being ripped limb from limb or being buried in the Sahara up to their neck with honey poured over their head?
  5. Are they embarrassed that their music is of an inferior quality and they wanted to put up a better showing for the terrorists?
The musicians are 'saying' that #4 is true - that they think each terrorist should be given a six figure salary, a beautiful wife and a house in the foothills. But I'd bet a wooden nickel that the real reason is more like #1 - their feelings are hurt that their music is being used to punish people.

Why not view this as an opportunity? I mean, an entirely new demographic is being exposed to their life's work. If they believe their music is good, why wouldn't they think the terrorist will enjoy it and one day, when Obama sets them free, purchase the album for themselves and their entire clan?

I, for one, think the whole situation is hilarious.

From the military's perspective, I get it. Personally, I could probably handle Pearl Jam for a while, at least until my eardrums exploded. But R.E.M.? Not a chance. Give me the waterboarding, please.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

YouTube Gems - Kiwi

This is, I think, the first YouTube video I ever saw. With 24 million views, there's a decent chance you may have already seen it.

"Kiwi" is a touching little short about a small but determined, flightless bird. We should all work so diligently to accomplish our dreams.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Times Are Changing

When I woke Madison up for school this morning she immediately observed (in her Miracle Max's chocolate coated pill sudden outburst of speech manner), "Dad, it feels like we're going to be late today."

We weren't running late. She was expecting it to still be dark outside when she woke up. With the time change early Sunday morning she perceived that something was not as it should have been.

She surprised me further as we were watching the World Series this evening. "Dad, why do they wear white uniforms when they know they're just going to fall down and get them dirty? They should just make their whole uniform be the color [the accent color]."

I was thinking, Sunday morning, that it might be nice if the Earth's rotation were such that we needed to "fall back" every Saturday night. The constant clock adjustment would be annoying at first, but soon become routine. And that bonus hour of sleep every week would be a welcome change.

And while we're on the subject, I've often wondered why we even still have Daylight Savings. My understanding is that Daylight Savings was conceived as a way to give farmers more daylight hours with which to work. Aside from the obvious fact that adjusting a clock in either direction does not cause the sun to remain in the sky any longer or shorter than it otherwise would, what difference does it make if the average person wakes up in the dark or light?

In Madison's case, I wake her up at 7 AM. Well, this morning she noticed that some daylight had already been burned. And it's going to be darker one hour earlier than usual, too, meaning we'll have to turn lights on an hour earlier than normal, meaning we'll be using more electricity than normal.

Turns out I was wrong about the origins of Daylight Savings, but I can count Benjamin Franklin among my supporters for being a proponent of simply adjusting one's personal habits to take advantage of the free sunlight.

What do you think? Do you like Daylight Savings? How does it affect your life? How would you change the system?

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