I feel like the lion got me personally

The problem with going out for the evening and not getting home until almost midnight is that the dog sleeps all that time you're enjoying a fine musical experience, and then wants to get up even earlier than his regular time because he had such a quiet, restful evening. I, on the other hand, have yet to recover from the late night, and was not any use at all today. Good thing Leah is here to take care of me.


9:00 really should be my bedtime. Past then I sure don't get anything done, and when I'm in bed by nine or before I feel much better the next day. Today is a case in point: we went to bed at 8:30 yesterday, and it was awesome! Young readers, see what you have to look forward to in a couple years?

for real?!

What's going on with American conservatives? I happened to come across an article in The American Spectator, which despite posting letters from readers decrying Barack Obama's femininity as typifying the "sissification" of America* also seems to contain a certain amount of content created by adults; but my attention was mostly taken by a prominently placed ad for "Conservative T-Shirts". I checked out the site, so taken was I by the ad's innocent glorification of war against Muslims, and was delighted to see the wide variety of pathetically ridiculous merchandise available to those looking to make asses of themselves in public (or at least when they venture into civilized company). Check out a few of the designs:

When I saw the above image I thought I had surely seen the best of the lot: what could be more charming than a rip-off of the already ripped-off "peeing Calvin", quite possibly the most juvenile unthinking sticker meme in wide circulation. And it's peeing on Hillary! Now that's political discourse! However, there was a better one:

The essence of conservatism is apparently refusing to save energy (and your own lightbulb-buying dollars and lightbulb-changing time) just because someone else says it would be a good idea. That's right, conservatives! Damned if you're going to do a single thing any of those Eastern Establishment Liberals might recommend! I chuckle, and wonder if liberals might consider suggesting that breathing helps reduce global warming.

*An example letter goes like so:

[That] the U.S. is becoming a nation of crybabies and sissies rings true — at least for Democrats and self-absorbed Americans. The sissy nation is epitomized by Barrack Hussein Obama. A "man" PBS reporter Bonnie Erbe accurately depicts as more female than male. In fact, if Hillary loses the nomination and feeble and frail Obama wins the Presidency, then like Bill Clinton was the first "black" President Obama will easily rank as America's first "female" President.

Cool, huh?


candy toothpaste

Some while after Leah introduced it to our household, I have grown used to the subtle flavors of the alternative toothpaste we use around here. I think it has baking soda in it or something. We recently ran out, however, and had to move to a backup tube of more traditional Crest and/or Colgate brand paste, and was it ever surprising. Like a mint explosion in my mouth! I can see why they have to work to make sure kids don't just squeeze the stuff down their throats or, I don't know, eat it on crackers or something.

mailing it in

I have nothing to say. Yesterday was my birthday, and I did nothing but laze around and eat and enjoy the devoted affection of my loved ones. Then today I taught a second grade class. So I'm still recovering from the combination of those two activities. To fill up this day on the calendar I will merely point you to this amusing story on the MetaFilter community weblog. Enjoy!

Also, take a look at this ad that appeared on the bottom of the page when I accessed it:

Smilies that talk? Ugly glossy oversized smilies that talk? I cannot imagine anything more terrifying.


the times they are a changin

I don't really understand daylight savings time. And yet, it is happening. Even though right now it's only 8:30 on the clock, it's really 9:30: what matters is surely the number of hours between now and the morning's activities. At least I don't have it as bad as the cows. An article I read mentioned the concern of a dairy farmer for his charges, who have to accommodate themselves to a sudden change in their milking time. I would ask why farmer's don't just change their schedule by an hour to keep things consistent for the dumb beasts, but then we put Rascal through a similar shift in his dining hours. We humans just can't help it, so enthralled are we to the world of clocks. And it turns out that time zones, the reason for all this mess, were a unilateral imposition of the railroads back in the day. It just doesn't seem right. So now we have another campaign to work for: bring back local noon!

mail call (and call and call...)

It's very disconcerting when you're not sure if you email is working. How do you check? Besides sending emails to yourself every 15 minutes, of course. That's what I did today, as I waited for not one but two emails from a client. Predisposed as I am to believe that most problems are not my fault but also to fear that they are, it made for a nervous afternoon. Evening too! On the other hand, I got some good reading done in between clicking "check mail" every 20 seconds.

I don't want to embarass him, but...

Rascal is often very distracted when we he is exploring the great outdoors, including the times when we have brought him from the house for the express purpose of allowing him an opportunity to urinate. "Can't pee now, too busy sniffing!" Of course, this doesn't discomfit him at all, except on those occasions were he is so enthralled with the world about him that he forgets to lift his leg properly even as the pee starts flowing. Then his foot gets wet. Poor puppy.


Even though it snowed quite substantially this morning, Spring is definitely in the air. I've seen two robins and any number of geese and ducks in recent days; also a huge number of red-wing blackbirds who are enjoying the ponds at every low spot of ground. I like them much better: all their racket sounds like the conversation of singing robots. Even more striking as a sign of the coming season, though, is the fact that the neighbor kids were out most of the day—even during the snowstorm—playing basketball in the street.

I also heard something about spring training down there in Florida, but since I'm in a news blackout I don't know if those rumors are any true.


haystack house

Last night Cara and Alan came over for dinner and to paint easter eggs. In preparation, we blew* several easter eggs (*note: this means poking a hole on each end and blowing the egg filling out through the opposite hole. Just to be clear, you dirty fellows.) For the purpose of piercing the eggs, Dan asked me for a sharp needle, which I provided with a loop of thread attached for easier retrieval. When we had blown the first four eggs, I stuck the needle through the paper of the egg carton for safe keeping.

Later in the evening, when we had each finished painting our first egg, Dan took the needle from me to blow some more eggs. At this point I was two beers in, and less rigorous in recapturing the needle. Dan blew the eggs, everybody painted them, and by the time we were done it was too late to clean up, so we went to bed saying we would finish in the morning.

So this morning I started to clean up, and the first question I asked Dan was "Where is the needle?" He searched on the counter a bit, and said the least reassuring six-point-five words ever: "I dunno. We'll find it later."

Later, I had put away all the painting supplies, fingering each one individually, swept my hands over every inch of table cloth, vacuumed the entire down stairs, and when that still turned up nothing, I crawled on my hands and knees from the corner of the dining room all the way around the house and back again, to make sure it was nowhere on the floor. It wasn't. It wasn't in the trash, which we sorted by hand. The big sharp needle with the string attached wasn't anywhere.

I called the vet. If you hadn't already guessed the reasons for my panicked searchings, you are obviously not a puppy parent. I asked the technician if they do X-rays and if they would be able to locate a needle either in the stomach or the intestine, and how much the X-rays cost. I explained the story to two different technicians. I hadn't seen him swallow the needle, nor did I have any indication that he was suffering, but I'd searched my entire house for two hours to no avail. The needle was nowhere. Rascal eats anything off the floor. I wanted to be safe. The technicians told me $200 for x-rays and office visit, and obviously more if he needed surgery.

So I asked Dan to go through the trash one more time, which he dutifully did sitting on the back stoop. Then I called Cara and Alan.

"Did you see the needle, or touch it, or move it, or see it?" I asked.
Alan said no. "Hold on," he said. "I'll ask Cara."
"Ask her if she saw it, or touched it, or moved it, or saw it!" I yelled into the phone.
"Cara remembers Dan poking the eggs on the counter."
"Yes," I said, "But it's not on the counter!"
I was already yelling at them, even though I hadn't said so much as hi.
"And then we were talking about leaving the eggs out." Alan continued, relaying Cara's recollection from the background. "Cara says we were talking about the danger of leaving the eggs out. So Dan put the eggs back into the fridge."
"Back into the fridge..." I said. Frantic, I opened the fridge. I hadn't checked the containers with whole eggs in them. Could life really be so crazy that the needle was in the fridge?
"Oh my God, it's here! It's in the fridge!!!" Sitting on the shelf with the eggs, there was the needle with its thread attached. We had looked in every drawer, in every cabinet, even under the stove where i had found a rotting piece of squash. It wasn't in any of those places. It was in sitting on the top shelf of the fridge.
"Thank you," I told Cara and Alan. "You just saved our marriage."

I called the vet and told them that Rascal hadn't swallowed anything that I knew of, that I had found the needle in the fridge, and I tried to frame it in the most humorous way possible, like, haha, wouldn't you know it was in the fridge??!

Lastly, I told Dan that any needles in use in this house from now on can only be used as long as they are firmly attached to my wrist. I am unclear as to whether he is still willing to father my children. At the end of it all, the several-hour-long ordeal which found me crawling around on the kitchen floor and sorting through egg-shells, he did say to me, "You're a good Mommy." I don't know if he meant it sarcastic or not. We both deserve it either way.


and a side of keep-me-awake-till-eleven

I took a little "biz-natch triz-natch" to New York yesterday to meet with my boss and eat bagels. The drive in was fine, i left at 7am and arrived at 11. The drive back, starting at 7pm, was not as enjoyable, however. At around 9pm I was STAAAARVING, and I stopped at the first rest-area on the Mass Pike where the golden arches beckoned me like a beacon of hope. Small fries, obviously, but something compelled me (perhaps exhaustion-induced delirium) to purchase a chocolate milk-shake. Note: I DO NOT CONDONE PURCHASING A CHOCOLATE MILK SHAKE FROM MCDONALDS.

From first to last sip, the shake was a unique mixture of delicious and disgusting. For the sake of truth in journalism, i have grudgingly looked up the ingredients:

Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream: Milk, sugar, cream, nonfat milk solids, corn syrup solids, mono- and diglycerides, guar gum, dextrose, sodium citrate, artificial vanilla flavor, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, disodium phosphate, cellulose gum, vitamin A palmitate. CONTAINS: MILK. Chocolate Syrup: High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, cocoa (processed with alkali), natural (vegetable source) and artificial flavors, salt, potassium sorbate (preservative), vanillin (artificial flavor). May contain small amounts of other shake flavors served at the restaurant, including egg ingredients when Egg Nog Shakes are available.

I'm actually surprised that the first two ingredients are milk and sugar. I would have guessed corn syrup came first, from the taste of it. Also, i'm glad to see the disclaimer May contain small amounts of other shake flavors served at the restaurant, including egg ingredients when Egg Nog Shakes are available. No wonder the fifth, tenth, and fifteenth sips tasted like strawberry.

I'm also surprised by the nutrition information. I would have guessed 600-700 calories at least, but this is what the internet says:

Calories: 440
Grams of fat: 10

I won't look into the fries though. Don't make me. They're 120 grams of pure heaven.


hot buns

I tried to make hot cross buns today, as is apparently the custom, but sadly they didn't come out quite as they were supposed to. I forgot to add the brown sugar at the appropriate moment, and when I realized my mistake it proved very difficult to incorporate it into the dough. Afterwards it didn't want to stick together properly, so when the buns were risen and ready for the oven I wasn't able to cut the cross into them. So they aren't really hot cross buns after all, more like sugar-glazed heathen lumps. Tasty, though! All I need to do is mix up some white icing tomorrow and I can sanctify them properly, like the ones at the grocery store.


Spring started yesterday, or else it starts tomorrow with Easter, so we needed a new look around here. The snow—which I should note lay on the ground for every single day of winter, which has to be some kind of record—is nearly gone, and the daffodils are starting to poke up. No crocuses yet, though. I hope they haven't been eaten.

Anyways, this new look for the blog represents a bit of a departure, in that it's the first time that I've made any changes to the SBS machine that makes it all go. And more changes still need to be made, so expect incremental improvements along the way, if I manage to find time. Also, please please let me know in comments or via email if anything doesn't look right or is broken; for example, I noticed that you didn't used to be able to use apostrophes in comments for I don't know how long, which I didn't notice because how often do I comment on my own blog?! It must have been annoying for you, Oona, so please accept my apologies. I think it's fixed now.

And Happy Spring!


welcome happy morning!

Happy Easter!!

It's kind of nice to have Easter coincide with the opening of Spring, but it has it's disadvantages too: the easter dresses will have to be trimmed with fur this year. Good thing men's clothes are ridiculously warm regardless of the weather.

If my camera weren't broken I'd post some pictures of this year's easter eggs, which came out quite well despite the mishaps involved in their production.

Newsflash: i sat through a whole church service!

It's Easter, the religious holiday of renewal and acceptance, and yet the internet has already pissed me off.

Actually, I've been peeved all week. Ever since the country heard Jeremiah Wright talk like a Black preacher (oh the horror, the ethnicity) every reporter got the same lame idea for an investigative story. "I know!" they said over their collective martinis, "I'll go into that Black church down the street from me and see what it's like! And report the results to the American people. Who DEMAND TO KNOW!"

The latest example is here and I have to say, come on economist blog, I expected more from you. The problem you see is that most journalists are atheists, (and Jewish! Happy Purim NPR!) so merely showing up to a building with a steeple is some sort of magical anthropological expedition to them. "Here we have the foolish believer tribe," they whisper into their field mini-recorder, "performing their strange work-ship-string ritual, or so I am told." The economist writer paints the descriptive scene of St Thomas in Philadelphia (imagine the following in a first-grader's voice for full effect): Everyone was dressed up? and they had a choir? but the choir was dressed in robes? and they had an adult choir AND a kids choir? and they sang hymns? along with the congregation? and they even had a trumped player!

No shit, dude! a trumpet player? On Easter???

The other common theme to these i-wented-to-a-churchy stories is the fact that the reporter seems to be genuinely surprised by how nice and welcoming everybody is. In an interview on NPR earlier this week, a correspondent who had visited Rev Wright's church kept reiterating, as if it was incredible news, how nice and friendly everyone was, how warm, how welcoming. Alex Chadwick was like, "Yes, but did they say anything about the Obama controversy?" And the reporter was like, "No, but there was this little old lady there, and she offered to sit next to me, and she told me she liked my tie!" It was like Newsflash: People at church are nice. They smile at you. They offer you coffee and cookies. Editors rooms on Monday will be filled with proposals for five-part series on the topic. You know, because they invited me back for their Wednesday night spaghetti supper, and I think America needs to know.

I don't know what kind of dark smoke-filled card rooms reporters typically frequent on Sunday mornings. The ones filled with high-class call-girls they picked up from their investigative reporting the week before, no doubt. But I do know that many, many Americans went to church today, and in fact a small fraction will go again next week, and none of this strikes me as hard-hitting news.

My only hope is that preachers continue to make You-tube sermons, and reporters everywhere will continue to say, "Holy crap! Did you know there are people who get together and talk about God? During national hangover time???" And in this way we will slowly convert the heathen, unbeknownst to them, to true and unending live in Him. Or whatever, get a really voluble description of the Easter service for the next bulletin: "At last Sunday's Easter service, 'Adult and youth gospel choirs belted out hymns with gusto' and 'clerical collars and incense were abundant.' Also, Christ rose from the dead to remind us to daily renew our lives in Him. See y'all at Christmas!"



We started our spring cleaning today. Which means that we went around the house and made a list of everything that had to be done, and then, satisfied, we called it a day. No, not really. Leah had to do all kinds of work (school and otherwise), so she knew from the beginning that she wouldn't be able to devote her time to battling the tide of filth that threatens to overcome us. Me, I didn't give up right away: I cleaned off the top of the stove something fierce! Unfortunately since then I cooked dinner, so tomorrow I'll have to do it again. That's not progress. Still, the list has been made! Now it's only a matter of time before everything is clean once and for all.

opening what?

For the first time in many years—at least two—I missed hearing the Red Sox opening day game. I was all set, too, to be a loyal fan of Major League Baseball again, even after all they've put me through; set, that is, until they exported the start of the season to the inscrutable Orient. Actually, I don't mind that they're playing this series over there in Japan. It's a pretty good idea, and would be better only if the games against the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers counted for anything beyond exhibition dollars. An international baseball league? Awesome! No, the problem is that I discovered only at noon that the game had, in fact, started at 6:00 in the morning civilized human time. Why didn't anyone tell me! I guess there was a ticking countdown on MLB.com, but did they expect me to do the math to determine the game time before I went to bed last night?! The countdown sure didn't help me when I was asleep.

At least I have some chance of catching tomorrow's game, or the end of it at any rate. The A's are the opponent: poor Californians had to wake up at three AM to catch the first pitch of their team's season. Or maybe they just stayed up late. Hey: at least it means that, for once, the opening day game wasn't during work hours!


a boring update

Both Leah and I have been sickish for what seems like weeks now, with a little fever and a little cold and mostly just a general run-down feeling and lack of energy. I blame the damp cold and gray skies; what we need right now is a little psychological spring, a few days of warm temps and nice bright sunshine. I promise that just an hour of sitting outside in the sun will cure me right up!

In the interim, though, I was really properly sick on Wednesday, and barely managed to get out of bed all day. Which I didn't mind much, of course, except for how completely boring it was. Most of the time I wasn't too pained to read, though, and happily I had just been to the library so I was well-stocked with diversionary material. The enforced inactivity let me move that much closer to my goal of reading 10 books in March; 10 books in a month doesn't sound like a lot when I think about it like that, but in practice I don't think I've managed that many since my idle university days. And now I'll do it again, with only minimal idleness. Yay for avoiding the tv!


preemptive mauling

This afternoon we got mauled by the mall, and we didn't even make it in the doors! We knew there was trouble when the ramp off the highway was backed up, and things didn't improve as we made our way to the mall property proper. It turned out, actually, that the whole place was full. Only they didn't have anyone, you know, out front letting folks know that there weren't any more parking spots in the whole 27 acres of lots they have there. That meant that not only were there cars in every spot, but that the place was what you might call super-saturated with annoyed drivers looking for a place to put their vehicles. There was some honking, I can assure you. We drove ourselves around the little ring road, and without going down a single aisle we knew the situation was hopeless. So we precipitated ourselves right out and went to the supermarket instead.

Why the Christmas-like crush of mall-goers? I have no idea. Maybe it's just that in the cultural wasteland we inhabit there isn't anything better to do on a Saturday. Well, at least we managed to escape consumerism's crowded clutches. Only, we'll have to go back another day. I really want to look at new computers!

adventures in the out-of-doors

We considered making another attempt at the mall this afternoon, but Leah decided she rather go for a walk in nature. It was a good choice. We took the dog, and he pulled us through swamps and over hills for about five miles; maps were not available, so perhaps two of those miles were on a loop we might not have followed had we known what we were getting into. Still, it was very pretty along that particular rocky path, and it was less muddy than the more low-lying sections of the particular state park which we were visiting. The water table is quite high this season, we find. Rascal enjoys all manner of water, and he was in and out of ponds, puddles and creeks the whole way. Luckily as a short-haired hound he features a quick-dry, self-cleaning coat; though perhaps he wasn't entirely self-cleaned by the time he got back in the car. Oh well, nobody uses that back seat except dogs and kids, and they're both already pretty dirty anyways.

All the fresh air tired the three of us out nicely, and if we didn't feel bad about going to bed before the sun set we'd all be asleep already (instead of just the dog). Still, in bed reading at 7:30 aint bad. It's the old-fashioned, fresh-air natural life for us; and we don't even have to get up to milk the cows!


more leonine than ovine

Can you believe I had to look up the adjective for "of or pertaining to sheep"?! Happily, I just typed "sheep adjective" into Google and the first result was the ever-helpful (though annoyingly bureaucratic) Wikipedia, and there was the answer. Hey, why don't we help em reinforce that top search engine placement? sheep adjective! There you go.

Anyways, as you no doubt already realized, the title of this post refers to our local weather, which is approximately exactly the same now as it was at the beginning of this supposedly transitional month of March. Which is to say, cold and wet. And windy. All classic "lion"-like features, in fact. Now, I'm not going to complain too much about the lack of warmth, because I understand that in-depth research (looking at old photos, I imagine) has led historical climatologists to conclude that Spring—in the budding and flowering rather than the astronomical sense, of course—once started much later than it has tended to in recent decades. Plants that once bloomed in May, the suggestion is, now regularly emerge in March. Well, not this year! As a historian, then, I can only approve of this partial return to past form.

The only objection I have to the cold is that it makes us sick. I'm mostly better, but today it was Leah's turn to lie in bed and moan all day. Actually, she did much better than I did on my day of sickness: she made several work-related calls and even managed to get to school to give a presentation. In between, though, she relied on the care and assistance of her loving husband in every way. Turnabout is fair play!

So in other words, we have high hopes for April.