Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Driving the non-crazies out of the GOP

I've been joking for a while that the Republican's are so attached to ideological purity and opposition to the Dems that they've systematically alienated everyone who is not a lunatic. That would, after all, explain why a recent poll found that self-identified Republicans are at the lowest level since 1983.

But I thought there had to be a moderating factor at work somewhere, a recognition on some level that they were hemorrhaging people, and that it was going to hurt them badly. Apparently I was wrong, as Arlen Specter has switched parties, giving the Dems a filibuster-proof majority once Franken is seated.

via Joey deVilla.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Paul Krugman takes the words right out of my mouth:
"So Bobby Jindal makes fun of “volcano monitoring”, and soon afterwards Mt. Redoubt erupts. Susan Collins makes sure that funds for pandemic protection are stripped from the stimulus bill, and the swine quickly attack.

"What else did the right oppose recently? I just want enough information to take cover."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Club for Growth Interfering in Local Races

I'm glad to see the Missouri Club for Growth admitting that they financed certain school board candidates in order to further their agenda. That agenda, nationally and locally, has been to oppose any and every tax increase with every weapon at their disposal, and to demand loyalty oaths from members of Congress in which they promise to vote against tax increases.

Now that their interference has been exposed, I hope Michelle Pruitt has the courage to disown their support. School boards should be about education. It was bad enough when the religious right started going after them, now the Club for Growth? Just what we need.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Falling down

When The Girl falls, she either hurts herself, in which case there are immediate tears, or she doesn't, and there's a brief pause in which she usually looks at me blankly to see how I'm going to react.

I've found that if I act concerned, she may cry and need comforting, but if I smile and say something like, "Nice fall!" and maybe even clap a little bit, she gets right back up and keeps playing.

Tivo HD

Our Tivo died last week. It was more than five years old, which is an eternity for a computer, or a home entertainment device, and the Tivo is both. So I wasn't exactly heartbroken. Plus, I've had my eye on the new Tivo HD, so it was kind of a blessing. We got a deal on a refurbished one, and it's been great so far. It's great, for instance, that it picks up both cable and antenna, so I can finally record content off the PBS back channels, where all the how-to stuff is.

But Netflix is the real killer app on this. Their "Watch Instantly" title list isn't everything, but there are a ton of old movies on there, and the new releases that show up there are the sorts of movies I might want to see, but don't want to spend $3 on at the rental place (i.e. anything with Nick Cage). I've even found myself using it to watch movies I already own simply because it's easier than going upstairs to find the DVD. For first run movies, we can rent those from Amazon and download them straight to the Tivo.

Between Netflix and the Tivo, we're getting all the functionality of high-end digital cable, but at about half the price. The only thing we're missing is the music channels, but neither Christie or I are really music people. If we were, Rhapsody is available for Tivo, too. It costs money, but it would still be cheaper than digital cable.

I think we're getting closer to "roll your own" cable, but I'm not sure it's going to come from the cable companies.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


My first night soloing with the baby

Warning: Slightly gross biological details to follow.

Christie's out of town for about 40 hours, so I'm single dadding it right now. That requires a little preplanning to get some things done that can't be done with a baby hanging on your leg, like taking out the trash, but it's nothing I can't handle, even if I am still getting over a cold.

I'll admit, I was hoping for an easy night, so I could brag to Christie about how well things went, and things started out pretty well. The baby went to bed easily at eight, and only woke up a couple of times between then and nine, both times looking for her pacifier.

About nine, I got hit with my first bout of, um, intestinal distress. No biggie. I can handle this. I wonder if I ate something that didn't set well? Well, I have basically eaten nothing but Cap'n Crunch while sit, so that makes sense. Like I said, I'm still getting over a cold, so I decided to go to bed early, about 9:30.

At 11:30, I woke up with one eye all crusty and itchy. Unfortunately, I couldn't really examine it closely, because the power had just gone out. I found a flashlight and called the power company. The baby woke up somewhere in there, too, so I got to soothe her back to sleep. With that accomplished, I set out to see what was up with my eye.

Wow, I guess that's why they call it pink eye, huh? I have drops, but they're for the kid, not me. Better wait till morning, when I can talk to a doctor. Meanwhile, my fever's back up over 101, and the snot factory in my head has kicked into overdrive. I start having fantasies about blood poisoning and blindness, which motivates me to go ahead and use the eyedrops, which stops the itching in my eye enough that I can sleep. A little, anyway.

At 4:30, the alarm I set for Christie's early morning flight yesterday goes off, at top volume (the power came back on about 1 a.m., and the outage did something to the volume on the clock radio). The baby starts crying, of course, so I turn off the alarm, then soothe her back to sleep. I can't turn the volume down without turning the radio on, but I'll worry about that at 6:15.

6:15, the alarm starts screaming, and so does the baby. I turn down the volume and try to soothe the baby, but she's not having any, until I feed her and rock her to sleep. I can't get excited about going horizontal with my sinuses in their current state, so I nap sitting up in the rocking chair with the baby in my arms until about seven.

Not the worst night I've had (not by a long shot), but not what I'd call an easy one, either. But I've got a doctor's appointment this morning, and Christie's back tonight. I will admit I'll be glad to have backup again.

Update: The doc gave me approval to use our leftover eyedrops, plus a prescription for antibiotics. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Torture thoughts

There's been a lot of grief given the Obama administration about the declaration that people who did the actual torturing would not be prosecuted. I just don't feel like I have any room to kibbitz here. The people we put on the front lines have a choice: obey any lawful order, or face prosecution.

If I were a young soldier or operative, and was ordered to torture someone in order to gain intelligence, I like to think I'd refuse, claiming the order was unlawful. But what if I'm then shown memos from top administration officials claiming that it was in fact legal, what are my options, especially when those same officials have claimed the right to imprison and torture anyone, including U.S. citizens, who they deem "enemies".

I'm not at all sure what I'd do. I think anyone who says they do know what they'd do is full of it.
This video of Seth Godin complaining about why and how modern life is broken made me laugh out loud at several points, but this sign was the high point.

YouTube - baby preacher

Reminds me of more than one preacher I've heard.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Cool interactive map of vanishing employment across the country from Slate. I find it interesting that Boone County turned red (increasing unemployment) in the middle of 2007, and never went blue again, though it did sometimes hold steady.

It's like watching a disease spread across the country, and looking at the map, it's clear things started long before it made headlines.

Monday, April 20, 2009

No blogging today if I have any sense, as I have a (at last measure) 102.3 degree temperature and am busy cooking my brains.

Of course, if I had any sense, I would have taken anti-inflammatories well before my fever got into brain-cooking territory, so nothing is certain.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


You know I like to listen to talk radio from time to time. What can I say? It amuses me. So I was glad to have a meeting across town this morning, because it meant being in my car during the Glen Beck show, which I've long heard was its own unique brand of high-octane crazy.

Oh. My. God.

I can only imagine the poor intern who's in charge of wringing out the spittle-soaked mic during commercial breaks. His rants are long flights of fancy, completely ungrounded by argument, reason, or fact. He does voices. He's the Tracey Ullman of right-wing talk radio. It really is impressive, but in the end, there's no there there.

The best example I can think of, though, isn't precisely from the show. It's the ads. On most of the talk radio shows, they advertise gold brokers, and their value proposition is that, when the markets tank, you'll be glad to have invested in gold as a bulwark against bankruptcy.

On the Glenn Beck show, they advertise seed banks of non-hybridized seeds that you can use to start your own "crisis garden", and their value proposition is that they make excellent barter material when civilization collapses. Seriously.

My absolute favorite thing on the seed bank's web site is the Boule d’Or Melon, which they say "contain significant amount of natural lithium".

I could see how that would come in handy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Memories

A quick search of my archives tells me that I have apparently never blogged my favorite Easter memory. I don't see how it's possible, but here goes:

I must have been about eight. Therefore, my memories are a bit vague on this, and so I might slip up on a few details. And then there is another postmodern element that I will be adding toward the end that muddies the water a bit further, but that's getting ahead of myself. But in the interests of telling a better story, I'll scrub all uncertainty from the following tale:

It was Easter, 1979, and I was eight. The Easter tradition in our family was, of course, to go to church, but not until the late service. My older brother and I were not allowed to eat any candy before church, but our Easter baskets had already been hidden by the time we woke up. Therefore, we spent our Easter mornings hunting them down while our parents gradually brought themselves to full consciousness.

I'm sure you've noticed that the Easter Bunny was nowhere present in that explanation. Well, if you remember my Santa story, you'll probably have guessed that I didn't buy any of that crap about giant freaking rabbits hiding candy for little kids. Have I mentioned that there are rabbits living under Christie and I's deck? She's named them Peter and Harriet, but I call them both Hassenpfeffer. Nope, no Easter Bunny for me.

On this particular Easter, my brother and I scoured the house, basement to attic. Literally. I even shone a flashlight up and down the laundry chute, thinking my dad might have suspended them in it. No luck.

Finally, Mark and I appeared before my father, who sat unshaven and enrobed at the head of the kitchen table, to admit defeat. For the first time in our lives, we needed a clue.

My father's steely gaze moved over us both, and he took a sip of coffee, as if pondering how best to steer us in the right direct. "Have either of you," he asked, "ever read the Edgar Allen Poe story, The Purloined Letter?"

"Oh!" my brother yelled, and took off.

"What?" I yelled and tried to keep up.

"Hidden in plain sight!"

We found them in the dining room, which I had personally searched at least twice. I clearly remembered lifting the table cloth to look under the table. The bread baskets that my mother used during every formal meal sat in the middle of the dining room table, which my brother and I had set the day before in preparation for today's Easter dinner.

Both baskets were brimming over with candy.

Addendum: It is 1992, and I have brought a girlfriend home from college. The talk turns to family traditions, and I tell the tale of the Year My Father Hid the Easter Baskets in Plain Sight. It is, I have always believed, a wonderful story, the moral of which is that my parents are awesome. At some point in the telling, my mother begins to laugh.

"What?" I ask.

"I remember that Easter," she says. "I woke up when I heard you kids running through the house, and said, 'Oh, shit, Keith, I forgot to hide the Easter baskets last night!' 'Don't worry about it,' he said. 'I've got an idea.' And he waited until after you'd searched the dining room for the third time, and snuck them in there while you guys were in the living room."

Addendum Part Two: It is 1995, and I have brought a fiance home from college. I tell the story of the Easter My Father Conned His Poor Innocent Sons Into Thinking He Was a Genius, the moral of which is that my parents are hilarious.

My mother looks at me with an innocent, aggrieved look, and says, "What are you talking about? That never happened."
Also looks cool, but I'll believe it when I see it: TechCrunch's CrunchPad: Your Own Tablet PC for $200
Looks cool: The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use It
For a variety of reasons, today would be a really good day for me to go to the gym over lunch. It's the first time in weeks when that's the case. Plus, my shoulders and back have been aching, and I know a good workout followed by a bit of stretching would really help. Yup, I've got every reason to go to the gym over lunch.

But it's rainy and icky out, and I don't really feel like it.

So no gym.

Confession Time

When we bought the house four years ago, Christie had one condition. The paneling had to come down. Which we did, and it was good. But we moved back in before I got the trim rehung, and we've somehow lived the last four years without ever getting around to rehanging it.

It's embarrassing, frankly, but one of my great weaknesses is getting a project 90% to done, and then leaving it that way.

All day Saturday, as my dad and I were finally getting it done, I kept thinking of a post by John Rogers where he bragged about having this poster (of The Done Manifesto) in the writer's room of his show.

It's not fancy molding. In fact, all but a couple of pieces are the original trim, salvaged from its four year hidey hole under my workbench in the basement. So it's pretty plain. A few of the joints are downright ugly (but a few are beautiful) and there are spots where unstained door casings and floor show through because of the difference caused by the removal of the fugly paneling.

But it's done, and done is beautiful, particularly after four years of not done.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Voting is cool

Admittedly, it was only a school board election, but I feel much better for having filled in those little ovals. If you live in Missouri, it's Election Day, so go out and elect somebody!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Yeah, I'm a hobbit.

Since Christie and I are getting ready to take a little trip with the kid, I thought I'd see what some other folks do to handle the challenges of traveling with children. I decided to start by watching a video over at MightyGirl called "Traveling with Children." Every single person started their little bit with, "My husband and I love traveling."

And that's where you lost me.

I do enjoy having traveled, which is not the same thing at all. I enjoy having firsthand knowledge of distant places, of knowing how to say thank you in 8 languages, having had pizza in Chicago, fish and chips in England, sushi in Japan, Italian in New York. I like sounding cosmopolitan and being able to compare the subway systems of New York, London, Tokyo, and Washington, DC. I've whitewater rafted in Colorado, walked naked in the desert, gotten drunk in upstate New York, rock climbed in Arkansas, attended a biker wedding, broken temple rules in Kyoto, and got lost in Oxford (which is not actually very difficult).

But, really, there's a lot to be said for my backyard. Like Bilbo Baggins said, "It's a dangerous business, stepping out your front door. You never know where you'll be swept off to."
Must. Make. Lemon Squares. Soon.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Iowa Strikes a Blow for Religious Freedom

By giving pro-gay marriage churches legal recognition.

I realize that the decision was actually about the rights of couples to marry, not the rights of churches to marry them, but this is a side effect, and the whole "society not discriminating against gays is an affront to my religious freedom" thing is the thing about the anti-gay marriage movement that annoys me the most.