Friday, November 30, 2007

My weekend to-do list regarding the upstairs bathroom:

1. Clean it up and make room to work.

2. Buy toilet. Toilet should be a 12" standard model with the narrowest possible tank and the smallest overall dimensions.

3. Buy studs and, possibly, extension for duct.

4. Frame in half-wall for toilet and knee wall to conceal vent stack. In doing so, be sure to leave room for future tub and/or shower insert.

5. Call Skip to come back out and connect vent stack and install shutoff valves, etc.

Update: New To-Dos:

1. Clean it up again.

2. Order Drywall for delivery by Thursday.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Since it's still technically Thanksgiving, and I'm sitting here in bed wide awake, with Christie snoozing peacefully across the room (twin beds suck), I guess a gratefullness post is a good way to usher myself off to sleep.

I could do a pretty long list. There's the job, which continues to be interesting, mostly in a good way, and with a minimum of drama, and a maximum of learning opportunities. Both my parents, who seem to have started me off right, and continue to support me in all the best ways. My friends. My car, even, that runs better and longer than I expected.

But mainly it's about Christie. When I'm with her, I feel like the best possible version of myself. I was cleaning up my hard drive the other day, making room for new files by deleting old pictures that I'd already backed up, culling the not-so-good shots in favor of good ones, and she was laughing in almost every single picture I have of her. Her joy at life is palpable and infectious, even when she's not feeling her best (morning sickness sucks).

I married her three years ago tomorrow, and every year has been better than the one before. I never thought I could be this happy, and I hope I never stop being grateful.

Christie, thank you for wrapping up my life for me so I could see if for the gift it really is.

Internets, if I ever stop being thankful for Christie, please slap me upside the head and set me straight.
I'm reading Charles Stross' Accelerando right now, and that, combined with travel, is creating an odd sort of disorientation. It's funny, though, because the disorientation in the section of the book I just closed is mostly about the loss of network, the dissociation from virtual self, in my case it's much more about home. Real, physical home. I want to know the cats are okay. I want to know the house is still there, touch wood my my actual hands, smell the decaying leaves in the back yard, step out on the front steps to watch the sun set. And I want to plug back in to work, be able to read my boss's face and body language, know from the timbre of his voice if "no big hurry" means next week or next month.

It's funny. I'm a pretty plugged in guy, and I use the web a lot to catch up with friends and family, but, really, you can't beat the bandwidth of real life. Yeah, I can tell how Christie's feeling by the tenor of her IMs, and I can generally read a lot into an email from my brother, but there's more information in a stranger's smile than in every email Christie has ever sent me.

Real life has a pretty unbeatable interface.
I'm very full, New Orleans is still a mess, and Christie's family is still great.

Oh, and yesterday I saw a nicely stenciled sign in the Ninth Ward with a list of rules posted outside a small convenience store. I didn't have time to read them all, but the first two were "No Loitering" and "No Crack Dealing".

Have a happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

As you might have guessed from the previous entry, I loved thinking about weird stuff when I was a kid. Which is why I think it's awesome that we're closer to understanding what happened 99 years ago in Tunguska, Siberia.
Writer John Scalzi went to the Creation Science Museum so that you don't have to.

Wow, flashback city. Growing up, my folks sent me to a fundamentalist Lutheran school, largely, I like to think, because it was better than the Kansas City public schools. And there really wasn't a single piece of crazy in this piece that I didn't hear growing up. From teachers. Poison ivy was caused by eating from the tree of knowledge? Yep. Dinosaurs on the ark? Yeah, we debated that.

It was the 70s, the era of In Search Of..., so there was also some debate about whether or not Bigfoot was on the ark (remember, the Bible does mention "giants"). And general consensus among my very geeky peers was that the flood caused some sea animals to be stranded inland, which explains how a plesiosaur ended up in Loch Ness.

It's not hard to imagine why I'm thinking about religion a lot lately. For one thing, there's the fact that Christie got pregnant at all. But that wasn't exactly a miracle. Just fairly unlikely. According to one doctor, based on one test. I'm ecstatic about us reproducing, but I'm not going to reconsider 25 years of skepticism because of it.

And then there's the baptism question. That's probably a blog post entirely to itself, and I'm not going to get into it until Christie and I have talked about it, which we haven't.

I will, however, say this, because Christie and I have talked about it many times: Everything I know and believe about what is good and right behavior came from my parents, who are devout but rational people. None of it came from the church. What did come from the church was a boatload of misinformation, twisted logic, guilt, and bad emotional baggage. Nuff said.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dilbert is my new financial planner. Seriously, this is decent advice. This is it:

1. Make a will
2. Pay off your credit cards
3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support
4. Fund your 401k to the maximum
5. Fund your IRA to the maximum
6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it
7. Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account
8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement
9. If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio.

That's not a summary. That's the whole plan.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Lectures to a Developing Fetus #1: Sometimes the group will pressure you to do things you'll regret, and the urge to give in will be very strong. But even if it's something that feels good now, the regret you feel will likely last longer.

For instance, last night your Aunt Kate and Uncle Jeff suggested Indian food, and I'm really regretting it this morning. Especially the spicy stuff.

Friday, November 02, 2007

This whole impending parenthood thing is giving me the opportunity to restart my mindfulness practice. Or, more accurately, it's creating a need for me to do so.

See, whenever there's a big life change, my mind kicks up fear the way a gravel road kicks up dust. New house, new fears. New guy at work, new fears. Etc. It's an undeniable pattern, and a total pain in the ass.

So when my brain tells me we have to put the baby's room upstairs because the downstairs bedroom isn't dingo-proof, and that means we'll need to move our bedroom to be closer to the stairs, and we'll need a tub in the upstairs bathroom, and grip tape on the stair treads and a better railing, and maybe it's be just cheaper to put bars on the window, but then the windows won't open, so we'll need to switch from casement windows to doublehung, and that won't go with the rest of the house, so we'll have to change the rest of them, too, and now we're back to just putting in a tub upstairs, and maybe a nicer closet and do something about the carpeting. But then how do we pay for college if we're rebuilding the house? Oh, sweet jesus, what about college? Will they get a scholarship? Will they slack off in high school as much as I did, and what sort of weird 21st century drugs will there be that they need to stay off of and how will I be able to talk to them about that, and what if they want a cell phone implanted in their head, and then it gets a virus and they get turned into a zombie mall-walker, and what if they're a zombie mall walker even without getting a cell phone in their head, and what if they're as mean to Christie and I as I was to my parents when I was that age, and am I really ready for all that?

Now, yes, I could log on to Wikipedia and figure out that the rates of wild dingo attacks in this part of Missouri are minimal, but that's not really going to work. The beast just grows another head, and sooner or later, one of those fears is going to be something real, something I can't refute. Actually, I can think of a dozen or so real fears without even really thinking, just by letting my monkey mind off its leash for a bit.

The point is not whether a particular fear is real or bullshit, the point is the fear itself: my mind working itself up into a lather, brainstorming potential problems because that's what it thinks it's supposed to do. It's a useful skill, but only if I can turn it off (or tune it out). Luckily, I've had some good teachers on how to do that.
I'm as grateful for an extra hour of sleep as anyone, but Slate points out that the time change probably messes with your circadian rhythms, causing an increase in car accidents, if no other problems. And then there's Christie's take on the matter:

"It's more daylight while I'm at work. Why do I care about that? I don't even have any fucking windows!"

Amen, Sister Preacher.
Disturbingly familiar xkcd. More disturbing to my friends and family than to me, I'd guess.
A fantastic way to do a Murphy bed.
This is actually a pretty cool use of Google Maps: Watch Wikipedia edits in real time.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Well, I promised to write about this as if I were the first guy ever to find out his wife is pregnant, so I better keep that promise.

Aside from the occasional doctor's appointment, my life isn't actually that different. On the outside. But I have two overwhelming urges:

The first is a desire to get our shit together in every possible way, but most especially financially. And by "get our shit together", I mean "Make Some Money!" I've done both consulting and freelance writing in the past, and I'm suddenly wondering if I should dust off those old contacts (if I even could), and try to feather the nest a little bit. But it's not like we're broke. We've got a pretty good cushion each month. But this was the year that everything broke, and there went the cushion. When the little whatever arrives next summer, I want there to be a cushion again.

The second, though, is to be there as much as possible for Christie, to do everything around the house that's left undone, take care of her, and to make sure she's got everything she wants and needs.

You can see why I'm feeling just a little crazy right now. The projects take money (must save money!) and time (time is for Christie!), and anything I might do to make more money (must make money!) takes time away from projects and Christie both. Two overwhelming and mutually exclusive desires. I don't suppose anybody out there wants to pay me to blog about getting the baby's room ready, and to pay all expenses? Doesn't seem very likely, I guess. Bummer.

So far, though, I am finding a solution to the crazy. Christie and I are sharing to-do and to-get lists via Google Docs, which keeps us feeling productive and connected even when we can't be in the same room. And we're budgeting, so we can put the existing cushion to the best possible use. I don't suppose lottery tickets count, do they?
Why it's a bad idea to let your little sister blog with you.