Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This is as clear an example of journalistic malpractice as I can think of.

Basically, Dana Milbank, writing for the Washington Post, butchered a quote from Obama that expressed humility in the face of the adulation he receives (it's "not about me at all") to make it seem like the exact opposite ("I have become a symbol..."). Milbank's never been one to let the truth get in the way of the story he wants to tell, but this is particularly egregious. Crap like this is why newspapers are in such trouble today. Well, that and Craigslist.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Me: There's a frog on the deck.

Her: A frog or a toad?

Me: I can't tell.

Her: I think frogs live in the water, so that'd be a toad.

Me: What about tree frogs?

Her: Good point.

Me: You don't hear much about tree toads.

Her: Except for the tree toad sloth.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I just got a piece of spam with the subject line "Polar Bear Finds Yoga Great for Flexibility, But Murder On The Balls".
The only time I've ever mentioned Bob Novak in this space was to note that when the Bush administration was looking for a media jerk to help them blow the cover of a CIA operative, he was the only one ethically-vacant enough to do so.

Well, everyone's favorite agent of darkness is in the news again, this time for something a little more up close and personal. He hit a pedestrian. And drove off. The bicyclist who kept him from running away says the man he hit came up on the hood of the car and splayed across the windshield before falling back to the pavement as Novak whipped around the corner. Novak says, "I didn't see him."

As Josh Marshall says, he's either lying to cover his attempted hit and run, or he's such a mindbogglingly incompetent driver that he needs to have his license taken away.

Either way, the $50 ticket he received seems like underkill.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I am amazed that a little girl who can sleep through the loudest thunder I've heard is awakened, screaming, by her own farts.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Me: You know how when kids learn language, they try a word in all kinds of different contexts, and sort of figure out what it means by reading people's reactions to see if they're using it right? Watching you tell Chipmunk you love her so much makes me think we learn that word so early, and spend our entire lives trying to find the right circumstances, and now, right this moment, telling her I love her, I feel like I'm finally getting it, you know. Not to discount our relationship, I mean. It's not that. It's just...

Her: Babe, if, one week after we first met, you screamed continuously for three hours, we would not be married. I get what you're saying.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I am so glad Christie and I were going to the gym when she got pregnant. After one month, we've both got knots in our backs from jiggling the baby to sleep, and my foot is acting up again from walking in circles. I can't imagine how out of shape people do this.

On the bright side, I'm finding that the sympathy weight gain by the male partners of pregnant women is adaptive. I'm losing weight faster than I was when we were counting calories and going to the gym 5 times a week. I've already lost 5 pounds since Chipmunk was born.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My parents were in town this weekend to help with the baby, but my dad's way of helping was to knock things off my to-do list that were looking to be, in the near term at least, impossible. Like patching some rotting boards on the back deck. Because those boards are mounted at an angle, he needed a sliding t-bevel to reproduce that angle, and I offered to lend him mine. It's a pretty basic Stanley t-bevel. But he couldn't get it to work well, so he went back to using his own, which is also a Stanley t-bevel, but a bit older.

There's a clear difference. The new Stanley has a knob up at the top you turn to tighten things down, where as the old one has a thumbscrew at the end. The practical difference is that it's nearly impossible to tighten the new style without changing the angle at least a little, whereas that's easy as pie with the antique one.

Overcome with feelings of inadequacy, I went looking online for a replacement, but damn near every t-bevel I found had the same flaw as my newer Stanley. I did find a Japanese-made one that has the same kind of thumbscrew as the antique, and it's less than $20, which isn't too bad, I guess. Of course, then I found this one, and the $20 seems kind of clunky by comparison. But I can't quite bring myself to blow $50 on a tool I so rarely use.

Thankfully, there's still eBay, which seems to have several reasonably priced antique Stanley t-bevels.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I like to think that if a middle school assistant principal strip searched my daughter because of a rumor that she might be carrying ibuprofen, I would go to every single school board meeting and demand to know why he/she hadn't been fired yet. But when I look into my heart of hearts, I feel a strong desire to do violence.

On the bright side, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 5-3 that her rights were violated. Unfortunately, Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Alex Kozinski, and Carlos T. Bea all feel that it is appropriate to force a 13-year old girl to strip in order to keep our schools safe from Motrin.

What in the holy hell is wrong with these people?

via kevin drum

Friday, July 11, 2008

For very lazy woodworkers, there's always dovetail tape.
My voicemail light was blinking when I got to work this morning, and I thought, "Oh shit" partly because I hate voicemail intensely and our voicemail system very, very intensely, but mostly because a voicemail at 8 am means someone calling in sick, which is a hassle I don't need today.

But, no, somebody wrong number drunk dialed me at 10 o'clock last night, and I think it says something about my emotional state at the moment that I was so affected by some drunk kid I don't even know screaming "I miss you, Ashley!" through tears.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Today is apparently one of those days. I'm probably going to spend a lot of tomorrow fixing things I screwed up today.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I don't actually have anything intelligent to say about colic. Really, I don't think anyone dealing with a colicky infant will, given the sleep deprivation and stress they're under. From everything we've read (Christie and I had plenty of time the other night to Google, as neither of us was sleeping, and whoever wasn't walking the baby was working the search engines looking for ideas) and everyone we've talked to, the most common thread is that it's one of those "what cannot be cured must be endured" sort of things.

Like migraines, there's a lot of magical thinking out there about colic (and a lot of really not helpful advice), but we are finding a few things that help a little (Chipmunk has a diaper rash issue that was making things a lot worse). Mostly, though, we're working on coping strategies to get us through the next month or so with our sanity (mostly) intact.

We're following our doctor's prescription to "get help", which is actually pretty hard for Christie and I. Asking for help has never been our strong suit. And then there's the issue of who you can ask to help you with a screaming baby. It's not a job for dilettantes. But we've got fantastic family and friends, and a good lead or two on experienced professional help as well.

In the meantime, please excuse any incoherence or weird babbling.

Monday, July 07, 2008


I am a liberal. I've never served in the military, think going into Iraq was the biggest mistake this country has made since the Philippines, and cannot think about the virtues of this country without also thinking about its sins, of which hubris has always been the principle one.

And I also love this country fiercely. I teared up last night watching a pair of Marines on TV lowering the US flag and gentle but crisply folding it into a triangle, as I've done so many times myself. I was so proud of being in the color guard of our Scout troop, and worked damn hard to learn the proper way to hold, fold, and care for the flag.

Nothing pisses me off more than an ignorant and shallow patriotism, particularly when it escalates into a game of "I love my country more than you do." There was a little deli just a few block off campus in Kirksville that I hated to patronize, even though the food was good, the prices were low, and the location couldn't be beat. I hated eating there because to get in I had to walk between two flags displayed at ground level that they flew day and night, rain or shine, but never lit and never took down, but left hanging there to literally rot on the flag pole until they were tattered and faded, not from use, but from neglect.

I wanted to take those flags down and burn them, as that's what I was taught to do, but the TV was filled with vacuous baritones calling for an amendment to the constitution outlawing flag burning.

Now, I'll admit that when I teared up last night, I had my daughter sleeping in my lap, was more than a little bit sleep deprived, and it doesn't take much to get me teary eyed these days. But I want to raise her in a country with its ideals intact, and, hopefully, most of its worst misdeeds in its past. And I want to teach her that loving her country requires knowing its mistakes so you can help keep it on the straight and narrow, and that love of country, like any other love, takes work, and isn't just something you can hang up once and leave to rot.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Energy Audit To-Do List

Just had the city out to do an energy audit on the house, and here's my to-do list:
  • Tape loose joints in the return air ducting in the basement
  • Doorsweep on basement stairs door
  • Buy foamboard to insulate both attic hatches and both attic fans
  • Fill gaps at sides of fireplace
  • Insulate outlet covers on outside walls
  • Drywall the ceiling in the basement stairwell
  • 3-4 inches of blown insulation in both attics
That's, of course, not including the getting of estimates for the replacement of our heating and A/C with more efficient units, which was what started this whole process. Although after running the numbers, I seriously doubt it will make financial sense to replace the system until something breaks.
For me, the hardest part of this whole fatherhood thing is that the hardest part has so far fallen to Christie, while I'm stuck at work doing the 8-5 thing. Basically, she's the superhero, and I just have to be the best Alfred that I can.