Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day

Thanks to the spring flu Christie and I both had, we never really got a chance to do a real spring cleaning. Well, that's been fixed. Christie cleaned up crap we hadn't touched since we moved, while I put together shelves and built a countertop over the new washer and dryer (bought to replace the washer whose spin cycle left clothes sopping and the dryer that made a sound like a wounded walrus everytime you started it up and required three drying cycles to dry a load of t-shirts).

Before that (and after), we moved, I think, every piece of furniture we own. And a good number of the books, too.

I haven't been this sore since ...

It might be the lactic acid, but I'm not sure I've ever been this sore.

Pictures of the new laundry to follow, to lure Mary back up to Missouri if for no other reason.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Excel Trick: Split Views for Documents/Spreadsheets

I've been using Freeze Panes for years, but this one was completely new to me. Awesome!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This is another one for local folk, but if you're in town on June 2, Mizzou is having a garage sale of the stuff the students left behind. All indications are that there will be some really good stuff.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Meg Makes a Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie (that's Mean in the statistical sense).
Christie's cousin graduated from law school last Friday, and it became a defacto family reunion. I went with Christie because I missed the last one and wanted faces to put to the stories. That part was a rousing success, as was the creation of a few new stories, I expect. I've been gone almost a week, so I'm busy as hell, but there are three things I need to note quickly:

1. Christie's family is awesome in both the colloquial and classic senses of the word. Those people are interested in everything and filled with good stories, witty cracks, and insightful questions. If I have to grow up, that's what I want to be like.

2. Christie's Uncle Jeff let us borrow his Garmin StreetPilot C310 a few times to navigate the streets of Madison (her name is Tonya, by the way), and I want one, and I don't even get lost easily. Christie, I think, needs one. Usually, when I go to a new place, I get lost once or twice, then I have my bearings and know my way around. Thanks to Tonya, I got my bearings a bit slower, but never once got lost. Considering how often Christie calls me for help in finding her way around, I'm not sure we can afford not to have one, really.

3. Ikea is the best store ever. We hit the Bolingbrook location on the way up and filled the back of the car with doodads and such. Everybody talks about the flatpack furniture, but for us it was all about the light fixtures. We've got some seriously crufty fixtures in our house, and we'll be replacing them all in the coming weeks with ones from Ikea, all of which were half the price or less of what we'd find at Lowe's, Home Depot, or online, and 3 times as cool. But we also dropped a few Hamiltons on little organizational doodads like cardboard magazine holders (5 for $3) and a miniature chest of drawers for Christie's craft room. We're thinking of going back with a bigger vehicle, this time for furniture!

Mary, there's one in Canton, and you ought to stop there while you're in Michigan, if you've got time.

Update: In reviewing this post, I realize that I forgot to mention how child-friendly Ikea stores are. We were shopping with Mara, and Ikea has clearly designed their stores to make what could be a chore into a joy.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Interesting question: If Congress issues a subpoena, and the White House ignores it, what next?

I honestly don't know. I know that if you or I ignore a subpoena, men with guns come to the house to make sure we comply, and if we still ignore it, we go to jail. Apparently the rules are different for these guys than for the rest of us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

Christie and I saw the MetLife blimp as we were driving into KC this weekend and wondered what was up with it. Turns out that it's on it's way to the Preakness in Baltimore. The funny thing is that I found out about this from a D.C. blogger who was making fun of how small town the Fulton paper must be for reporting this.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The best Mother's Day quote ever, from my mom to my nephew:

"Are you texting under the table? Oh, thank god, I thought you were playing with yourself!"

Friday, May 11, 2007

For Mary, whose going-away-to-college present to Christie was a map of all the good bathrooms between Slidell and Oxford: America's Bathrooms.

Somebody needs to do a mashup of this with Google Maps.
If you're local, next week is Bike, Walk, and Wheel Week here in Columbia.

If I worked downtown, I could ride into town on the MKT and get a free breakfast at the start of my ride and again at the end, but alas, I work out by the mall, and there are no free breakfast stations, nor are there any trails. And there's no way to get from my house to work without going up and down at least two potentially lethal hills.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Today was just one of those days. I woke up cranky, and every thought, every question, request or need rides on my mind like a wool sweater on dry winter skin. Unanswerable questions, insoluble problems, and bugs that will never make it to the top of the priority list are all a daily part of my job, but today I've been having to bite my tongue every time one comes up to keep from snapping at any of a dozen people who don't deserve it. The closest I've been to a good mood was the hour or two I spent buried in a query, pulling in data to make it give up the goods.

Now I've got this twinge behind my eye, like a burgeoning migraine. Is the migraine the reason for the crank, and the pain is only just now arriving? It wouldn't be the first time that's happened. Or am I just giving myself a headache from banging my head relentlessly against the brick wall of my own pissiness? It wouldn't be the first time that's happened either.

No clue. But I can't take a nap, so I'm going to pop an Imitrex, eat some sugar, and hope things are better by tonight, cuz we're babysitting, and I don't want to not enjoy it.

Update: Imitrex killed the headache and most of the cranky. The quick nap I took when I got home killed the rest. Life is once again joyful.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Garance Franke-Ruta made a suggestion in the pages of the Wall Street Journal that the age of consent for making naught pictures be raised from 18 to 21. Not being a big WSJ reader, I was going to let this slip by with the same level of attention I usually give to legislation proposed by people who are in no position to actually make it happen. But more and more people felt the need to weigh in, and the peer pressure started to weigh on me. But, like Lance Mannion, I didn't want to be the creepy old guy arguing for more teen porn.

But then Garance was good enough to weigh back in with a clarification that she only wanted to outlaw charging for pictures of unclothed women from 18-21, not taking them or looking at them. So free teen porn is fine, but charging for it is not. Well, then carry on!

(I allow that it's possible that I'm intentionally misunderstanding her just to be an ass.)

In all seriousness, what bugs me about this proposal and all similar ones that attempt to prevent young people from making stupid decisions is that I was once a young person, and I remember how the process works. Yes, I was smarter at 21 than 18. And I was smarter at 18 than at 16. Furthermore, I'm smarter at 36 than I was at 21. That's the way life works. But I got that way by making a bunch of decisions, some smart, most kind of dumb, experiencing the consequences, and watching my friends do the same.

This may not be the ideal way in which to create wise and capable adults, but it's the only one that I know of, and attempts to keep kids from making decisions until they've reached some magical age of wisdom aren't likely to be helpful.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Golden Oat Pancakes.
Everybody loves Neil Gaiman's porridge recipe, but I lost the little index card I had it written on. Plus I changed it a bit to fit with Alton Brown's oatmeal science. So here's my adapted version:

1 tblspn. unsalted butter
1 tblspn. steel cut oats
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups water
1/4 tspn. salt (a bit more if you use coarse salt)

Put the 2 cups water in your electric kettle to start it boiling. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then cook the steel cut oats for a bit. Add the rolled oats and stir. Cook until you start to smell the nutty goodness of the oats. Add the boiling water. There will be spattering, so I recommend adding it kind of gradually. Stir vigorously.

Cook uncovered for about ten minutes. Add the salt a few minutes in.

Serve with accoutrements of your choice. I like it with just a bit of brown sugar. Christie likes it with pecans. It's all up to you.

Oh, and if you're making it for someone with a dietary need to control their cholesterol, you can use olive oil instead of butter.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Just saw on the teevee that stay at home moms would make $138,095 a year if you tried to hire out all the work they do. The jobs covered include housekeeper, day-care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, chief executive officer and psychologist.

And, yeah, I think that's probably true, but disingenuous nonetheless. In our house, I'm a plumber, handyman, EMT/Pharmacist, and CFO, not to mention a few of the items from the list above. Of course, I'm not good enough at any of them to actually make a living at it (except computer operator, obviously).

Most would agree that this isn't about money, as much as it is about valuing the work that stay at home parents do. When my mom retired, part of the motivation was that they were building a house, and they constantly needed someone to be available for the cable guy, tracking down this bill or that, taking the dog to the vet, etc. To quote my mom, "We needed a wife." Even without kids at home, their life was complicated enough that they needed someone to make it their full-time job.

Every single couple I know goes through this negotiation. Some do it once, and somebody decides to stay home and do life maintenance for the family. For others, it's ongoing, with every obligation or chore delegated to whichever spouse has the combination of availability and ability to make it happen. Or you hire it done, which increasing means both spouses need to work.

And suddenly it's about money again.

Really, though, it's about divorce. And that's a different post.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In the fine tradition of stating the obvious with total self-absorption, I want to go on the record with important information. I've caught Christie's cold, and I have discovered that being sick sucks. I know, I know. I had my suspicions last week, when Christie was the sick one, but that was purely secondhand information. Now we have verification, and I can officially go public.