Friday, March 31, 2006

Christie and I went to Kayotea for lunch today, and while I think they're generally on the right track, I do have some constructive criticism. They clearly take tea seriously, and seem to have only top quality tea paraphernalia in stock, which is good. Too many places sell tea gadgets that, not to put too fine a point on it, suck. I saw no such frippery here. Also, many of them are reasonably priced, and not available anywhere else here in Columbia.

The black teas all seemed to be pretty good, and their herbal teas look interesting, but I was a little disappointed in their green teas (which is my personal tea passion). Also, they brew their green, black, and herbal teas all at the same temperature, which is all right for a coffee shop, I guess, but I expect tea geeks to know better.

Finally, they had pitchers out for cream and half and half, but no milk. For shame!

Please don't get the wrong idea from this. They've been open barely a month, and are still working the bugs out. They're doing a lot of things right, and I very much hope they thrive. Hence the constructive criticism.
I doubt this is gonna last, considering the date, but ThinkGeek has some awesome stuff on their front page right now!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

If you haven't seen it before now, Forbes.com has The 20 Most Important Tools Ever

Thinking about this sort of thing always reminds me of my thesis advisor, Adam Davis, who has talked about the bowl, the knife and the rope as fundamentally changed the way the human race relates to and understands its world. The Forbes article takes things a little further, and isn't quite so philosophical, but it's worth reading just to remember how much we depend on what our ancestors thought up.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Patrick? You know anything about this?
2 Harry Potters visit N. Liberty
"The North Liberty Community Library will close at 6 p.m. Thursday because of the Harry and the Potters concert.

"The concert is free and open to the public. Harry and the Potters is a band made up of two brothers who dress like Harry Potter and play indie rock/punk songs about the book series."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

William Gibson gets a lot of credit for his ideas, but not so much for his writing. But he can produce a sentence that is perfect in its evocation of scene, background, and emotional tenor. The very first Gibson sentence I ever read was one of these: "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

I just finished his latest, Pattern Recognition, which you wouldn't call science fiction if Gibson weren't already a "science fiction writer", I found this:

"And then she hears the sound of a helicopter, from somewhere behind her and, turning, sees the long white beam of light sweeping the dead ground as it comes, like a lighthouse gone mad from loneliness, and searching that barren ground as foolishly, as randomly, as any grieving heart ever has."

Damn.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Guest Room Before


Guest Room Before
Originally uploaded by Litcritter.
So if you're wondering what Christie and I have been working on, these pictures should tell you. I did the taping, Christie did the painting. Obviously, the taping's the hard part, but it justified the purchase of a new tool, so it's all good. And there's no denying the power of great results.

Click through to see how it all turned out.
An odd sort of essay from Salon. In essence, it's a recommendation to get thee to a bookstore, pick up the New Yorker, and read a Calvin Trillin essay on his late wife, Alice. I, for one, plan to do exactly that.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A little bit of sweat won’t hurt children: "I am 73 and remember when I was 13 to 16. I pitched hay in humid June, detassled corn in Hartsburg bottoms, cut winter wood with crosscut in July and August, cut sprouts, spread manure with manure fork after emptying barn (hot and stinky), etc. Tell me about sweatshops; been there, done that. Others of my age might have had it harder. What I am saying is sweat won’t hurt you. Matter of fact, with all of the obesity, more work, more sweating, less TV, less computering, less hanging out at the mall and less video games would be a good thing."

Yes, he really is arguing that sweatshops are good. And he signed his name. Wow.
Amish neighbors take just one day to rebuild home destroyed by twister.
I heard about this on the radio this morning. BXR's morning team's commentary was hilarious:

Mo: So if there are any Amish listening to the radio this mornng, I'd like to take a moment to say thanks for lending a hand. We should all...

Liz: Uh, Mo?

Mo: Yeah?

Liz: I'm pretty sure there aren't any Amish listening.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A couple of handwriting experts have revived Italic, an old blend of cursive and print that is fast to write, easy to learn, and more legible than most people's cursive. The next step is getting it taught in schools, which is already starting to happen.

It's about time. I was shocked to read how many schools are still teaching handwriting the way I learned it, which was essentially the same as it was taught in the 1800s, minus the slate. If schools want to continue to teach cursive, they ought to go all the way and teach calligraphy. It's every bit as practical, and much prettier.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Interesting CNN.com Poll.
Just walked through the breakroom to hear a commercial touting "the new outboard motor that's turning the boating world upside down!" If you've ever seen what happens when you put too big a motor on too small a boat, then you'll understand why they should fire their copywriters.
Apparently the roof and windows are well able to handle golfball-sized hail, which is good to know, I suppose, but I'd rather not have gone through storm after storm, tornados, and what-not. But considering what some other places went through (baseball-sizedhail in Springfield, MO, a half-mile wide tornado in Sedalia, millions of dollars worth of damage in Springfield, Ill., and at least ten deaths), we're lucky all we lost was some sleep.

I'm really hoping this isn't a sign of what the coming spring has in store for us.

Friday, March 10, 2006

On those long, dark nights when all my mind can do is throw up worst case scenario after worse case scenario, I can at least counter its persistent negativism with the knowledge that, at my office at least, no one who regularly changes the water cooler bottle has ever been fired.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I want a SWIMMINGLY PURPLE ART BOX!

Warning: This may cease to be funny/weird at some point in the near future. If so, click here for context.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Me: It's a simple rule. If kids are in the boat, they wear a PFD!

Christie: It's not that simple. You have to make a judgement call. Sometimes a PFD is called for, sometimes it isn't.

Me: On the river, sure, I can see that. Sometimes it's more dangerous to have a life vest on than not. But on a lake, you should always wear a PFD. It's a no-brainer!

Christie: No, it isn't!

Me: Yes, it is.

Christie: Look, I have boated on big lakes, small lakes, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. I think we should let the person who actually knows what they're talking about make the decisions about this sort of thing.

Me: What? Is that how it's going to be? I can't even tell our hypothetical kids a dirty joke, but you're allowed to take them out on the lake and drown them? How is that fair?

In Mike-World, this is where I won the argument. In real life, Christie went on to explain several circumstances in which wearing a PFD actually made lake boating more dangerous, and I was forced to admit that I was wrong.

I like Mike-World better.
Best Title For a Crochet Book Ever
Moreena's got a post up on her daughter's yearning to grow up so she can "touch dangerous things." It's a nice meditation on risk, particularly the risk of having kids.

I'd like to say my thoughts on the matter are equally lofty, but the simple fact is that touching dangerous things is my favorite part of being a grownup. That and climbing things I shouldn't climb, walking on top of railings, and just generally making a reckless fool of myself.

I love sharpening knives, chopping vegetables, playing with power tools, stoking the fire, and poking stray vegetables down into the garbage disposal while it's running.

Which reminds me. We have Christie's parents' old chandelier on extended loan, so I hung the big white globe over the bathtub. It worked great for a while, then there was a popping sound, and it quit. I replaced the bulb, rewired it, put in a new light socket, and none of it fixed the problem. Most confusing was the fact that my voltmeter kept telling me that there were 120 volts getting to the the fixture, but the bulb stayed dark. Very confusing.

Eventually:

Me: I need to replace the switch. I'm not getting enough amps.

Christie: How'd you figure it out?

Me: First of all, it's just about the only part of the system I haven't replaced yet. And secondly, I forgot to turn the switch off just now, and when I touched both wires, it didn't hurt nearly as much as it should have.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Happiness is finally getting the name of the table that contains the sweet, sweet data I need to complete my report. Sadness is realizing that I'll need to download 20,000,000 million records to get the 15 lines I actually need.

Sigh.