Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Verizon Update

Verizon knocked $305 off the bill so I'm happy. In future, if you think you're using a lot of peak minutes, check the website where it's easy to find peak usage both as a whole and as individuals. The month finishes on the 26th so please try and remember as that date approaches. I can give you the pw by email. If it happens again, the culprit will pay the overages. Mom, Luke and i will be getting new phones this week (speakerphone!) and I'll keep my very reliable Samsung aroud in case someone drops theirs in the toilet. Not that anyone would. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Some pictures from the weekend

This past weekend, Laura and I went to Philadelphia to help Caleb and Kate move. We saw Jason, and met his stepfather Dave, and had a great time at Ikea, and went out to dinner, and generally had a wonderful time when we weren't lugging boxes up stairs. I am gnashing my teeth that I took no pictures of their lovely new apartment (I was going to do it on Sunday, but as things turned out, we didn't get there on Sunday) and no pictures that turned out well of any people involved. Caleb, please let us know if and when you get that mattress moved-- I am worried about it!

I did get a few pictures of Caleb's current houseguest, the Cutest Puppy Ever. Well, except for one other puppy, of course, but that goes without saying. This is Darwin:

Darwin is not supposed to be on the couch. But it would take a harder heart than mine to make him get down.

On Monday, I drove up to Saratoga Springs to meet Grandma and Liz and Ana and Patty Peckham and see Grandma's sculptures in a show that has been traveling around the country. Here's one of her bronzes:

Here's the artist with her daughters, granddaughter, and almost-daughter:

And here is a family of windmills, astonished by a passing balloon:

No Butts About It

Speaking of sex, these kids were swatting girls on the butt. And sometimes the girls swatted the boys on the butt, but only under duress, I'm sure. Girls wouldn't do anything like that under normal circumstances. They should do to these kids what they did to the Duke Lacrosse team.

The Hum and Roar of the World...

in a country with socialized medicine, aka a "single-payer" system. That single payer would be "the government" and they will decide when you can have a goddamn hearing aid, even if you're 108. See here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A joke

A Polish immigrant went to the DMV to apply for a driver's license. First he had to take an eye sight test.
The optician showed him a card with the letters "C Z W I X N O S T A C Z.'
"Can you read this?" the optician asked.
"Read it?" the Polish guy replied, "I know the guy."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Anybody read this book?

It's called "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows". I think it will probably be a bestseller, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I just read it and I thought it was great. I wondered what others may have thought of it so I went looking around on the internet (heard of that? There's this box in the corner of the room...) and, of course, found that, truly, everybody's a critic.

The first criticism that I ran across was as follows: Harry Potter went through all that just so, 19 years later, he and Ginny could be living humdrum suburban lives. Will Leitch, whoever he is, in Slate says, "Did we really go through all this just to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione take up residence on a cul-de-sac?" Well, really Will, I know you'd never stoop to living on a cul-de-sac, and your life is just one grand adventure after another, but, I hate to tell you, for many of us, maybe even Harry and Hermione, this is what we want. To rid the world of evil so we can enjoy life on the cul-de-sac, watching Albus and James and Lily grow and blossom and have their own adventures. Kudos to Rowling for recognizing that, after slaying the dragon or the wicked wizard, the cul-de-sac is a good place to start a family.

The second criticism I found was, of course, the feminist one. A Slate reader writes, "The continued short shrift that Harry gives Hermione is incredibly frustrating in this book, more than in any other. Perhaps Rowling's one effort to comment on this is when she complains about having to do all the cooking - which is not only immediately dismissed, but also like, come on! The one thing Hermione is going to complain about is something so easily dismissed by the unsympathetic reader as an 'age old' feminist complaint. How about the fact that Hermione does everything and never gets a shred of the credit, other than some astonished expressions and the occasional "Mione that's amazing!" Which reminds me of the joke about how many feminists it takes to change a lightbulb. Here's an idea, slate reader. YOU write a book. Fill it full of tiresome, pedantic, feminist lessons and see how well it sells. In the meantime, those of us who aren't obsessed with the gender of characters in a book will enjoy this one.

Another Slate reader bemoans the lack of sex in the book. The characters don't feel real to this reader because they aren't continuously fornicating and snogging and thinking dirty thoughts during all that time they spent in tents in the woods. Well, I must say, I really enjoyed that Rowling was brave enough, in this day and age when we are just bombarded with sex from all sides, to almost ignore it. I don't care if the characters weren't "complete". I don't want to know Harry's lurid and lascivious thoughts. He can keep them to himself if he's half the man we think he is.

The book isn't perfect. (Actually, I understand there are six more books in the series that precede this one. You'd think they'd have made more of a splash!) But it's a tour de force. I can identify with the characters and root for or against them. The various themes are well-developed and food for thought. But mostly, I liked the way the book paced. Very, very slowly, at first. More than halfway through, it starts to pick up speed very slowly. Then faster and faster until you are just hurtling toward the end. And the end, I think, is beautiful.

I may have to see if anyone we know has the other six books.

And I can't wait for the movie.

Anybody else read this book?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Eat Locally

Elizabeth Edwards is really commited. Such strength of purpose.

If you're a local eater, and you travel a lot, should you bring local food with you? Or should you buy local food when you get there? I wonder which would be better for "THE ENVIRONMENT".

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

26 Years (Option 1) (couldn't decide...)

Hey, lady, you think the FIRST 26 years was fun? Well, I know...yes, there was that...and that...and, hey, I thought we were past that.... But, SOME of the first 26 years was fun, right? Right?

Oh, dear. Well, in any event I'm promising here and now to make the NEXT 26 years EVEN MORE FUN. Waddaya mean it won't take much? Just you wait and see. All those things you've longed to do? We're gonna do 'em. Fasten your seatbelt and hang on tight!!

As proof, to celebrate our anniversary, I bought you your very first ever....

subscription to TRAILER LIFE MAGAZINE!!!!

Waddaya mean, "It figures"?

Happy anniversary, dear wife.

26 years (Option 2)

According to George Bernard Shaw, a marriage takes place "when two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions. They are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part."
He further comments:
"Recall the aura, the ecstasy, the perfectness of your wedding day. The vows are meticulously and faultlessly repeated. A stimulating honeymoon reinforces the idealistic glow. Nothing could ever alter the thrill of this hallowed occasion. Then comes reality. The couple soon realizes marriage is not an ongoing celebration of celestial dimensions. It's a lifelong process of down-to-earth hard work -- worth every drop of sweat it produces."

Aside from having children, there is nothing as rewarding, satisfying and stimulating as a sweat-producing marriage.

We're All Gonna Die!

The bees are disappearing, crops won't get pollinated, and we're all gonna starve to death.

Hysteria knows no bounds.

Might as well do all those illegal, immoral, and fattening things. The end is near.

The NYT injects a little sense into the buzz.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

San Diego!

Hello family! I really wish I had my camera so that I had pictures for you guys because there have definitely been some great photo opportunities. So far I've been having a great time and I've done lots of cool stuff. Last week I spent 24 hours on the Sea Wolf, which is probably the best fast-attack submarine in the Navy. The coolest part was being outside on the bridge while the sub is surfaced, it pretty much feels like riding on the back of a whale. Not that I would know what that is like but I bet it's cool. We toured the Topeka last monday, which is a smaller sub and has virtually no space inside. After that I thought that people who choose to go into submarines must be insane (which is kind of a chicken and egg thing, you can't tell if they're insane because they were on a sub, or if they went on a sub because they were insane), but then being on the Sea Wolf was pretty amazing. I still doubt that I would choose that but I'm considering it a little bit. The crew is much smaller and everyone is very close, and all the military formalities sort of disappear. Also the food on the sub is great. By the way, apparently the Topeka was where the end of Season 5 of 24 was filmed so that's cool.

On Friday I went to the zoo, and on Saturday I went to Sea World. Both trips were free which was pretty cool. Tomorrow I will get to fly in a helicopter and then hopefully go to the Padres/Mets game in the evening. Petco Park is a short free trolley ride from the base where we are living, so as long as we get back from doing our aviation stuff early enough a few of us are gonna go to the game. Later in the week I will get to go up in a T-6, which is a training propeller plane, and if I'm extremely extremely lucky I will get to ride in an F-18 but I really doubt it.

San Diego is beautiful and the weather is great. It's surprisingly colder and cloudier than I expected, but I guess that is only right by the water and during the morning/night. During the afternoon the marine layer goes away and it's basically always sunny and warm. If any of you by some weird chance gets the opportunity to ride on top of a submarine while it is surfaced, I highly recommend it. It was probably one of the coolest places I have ever been. Next week we are going to Camp Pendleton for Marine Week, and the next week is Surface Week. I will try to post more updates as I go.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Community Supported Agriculture

I'm a big fan, ya know. Some of these frankenfoods and such have genetic modifications and preservatives and are made of chemicals. Not these! Completely natural black raspberries all picked less than 100 ft from the door. Panda helped!

A delicious natural homemade dessert for two! Yum!

Verizonwireless Bill Update

Our $510 cell phone bill had me exercised as some of you may recall. Well. I downloaded all the detailed calls and could see that we were being billed for nighttime calls. Huh? Apparently, once you go over your 700 minutes of peak time the offpeak time was no longer "unlimited". We had actually only used about 40 extra peak minutes, but they were playing that into about $380 of extra charges by charging us for offpeak calls. They lump them all together on the bill and call them "SharePlan" minutes which is NOT the same as peak minutes. So I played dumb about that and called them. It took about four seconds for them to apologize and say that it was a "mistake" and they'd refigure the bill. Sneaky bastards. I guess you leave your integrity at the door when you become a Verizon Customer rep. Not to mention an exec.

Favorite Sig lines

Before you criticize someone you should walk a mile in their shoes…that way when you criticize them you are a mile away and you have their shoes!

When all is said and done, there is nothing left to say or do.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Never take a cross-country trip with a kid who just learned how to whistle.

There are more. I'll add 'em when I see 'em. Got any?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Watch this space

A certain someone that we know and love beyond reason got down on her knees and said, "You are the greatest blogger in the world and will you please, please, please, resume blogging." So OK. I'll resume blogging. But only because she got down on her knees.

The Old Dog Goes Camping

(and no, I don't mean your father.)

On the day after Independence Day we got up at 2:45 a.m. to drive Luke to the airport for his 6 a.m. flight to San Diego. I wish I had gotten a picture of him in his crisp Navy summer whites before he got on the plane, but I was too sleepy to think of it until later. We did have a last minute packing crisis, but Luke caught his flight. He reported later that he got upgraded to first class on the leg to Chicago, along with two other guys also bound for CORTAMID. We've heard from him a couple of times and all sounds well so far. He didn't take his computer along, but maybe he'll get a chance to post a report somehow while he's there. From what we hear, his first week was Submarines, and so far, he's having fun.

Then Dad and I drove north to the St. Lawrence River, with Panda in the back of the Subaru, and went exploring. We'd never been to the Thousand Islands, so we drove to Alexandria Bay and then followed the St. Lawrence River up to Massena, where we spent the night camping at Robert Moses State Park, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River at the northernmost tip of New York, with Canada just across the water. Here's Panda, on his very first camping trip, guarding the very nice little tent that we bought at Herb Phillipson's for the staggering sum of something like $40:

There are two dams at Robert Moses State Park, along with the Eisenhower Lock. We watched a ship pass through the lock and took a walk to one of the dams (look closely to spot Dad and Panda):

It was a peaceful evening and (almost) a peaceful night, except when Panda tried to leap through the tent screen at two a.m. to catch whatever was on the picnic table eating the marshmallows I forgot to pack away. Other than that, he was a very good Camping Dog. He enjoyed lying by the picnic table and gazing vigilantly at the other campers who strolled past.
The next day, we drove down into the Adirondacks to Higley Flow State Park in South Colton, on the Raquette River. Now, THIS was a nice place to camp, with ripe raspberries all around the tent site, pretty woods all around us, a troop of cheery Girl Scouts who fell in love with Panda just up the hill, and the river flowing past just a short walk away.

Panda made a friend here. Or possibly an enemy. A chipmunk started scolding him fiercely from a tree and Panda was just transfixed. He stared in horror, or awe, without moving a single muscle, while the chipmunk shouted and swore and scrambled down to within a foot or two of his nose, then fled back up the tree, then scurried back down again, still cursing out all dogs in Chipmunk Language, for a long,
long time. Finally, he got a little tired.

But he didn't stop staring. You can watch it for yourself, in fact. Make sure your sound is on, because the chipmunk is mostly audible rather than visible -- but it does make a dramatic entrance toward the end:

The next day, we hiked up Azure Mountain. It's a short hike, only a mile each way, but quite steep and rocky. At the bottom of the trail we passed a large pile of rocks with a sign asking each hiker to take a couple to the top for use to help control erosion on the trail. Naturally, one or two stones weren't enough for your dad. He filled up Caleb's skiboot pack with a whole bunch of rocks and marched right up the mountain with them. Here's the load:

The pack was ridiculously heavy and I suggested a few times as we scrambled up that he might drop off a few of his stones here and there -- but no, it was all the way up or nuthin'. And he made it, too, all the way up to the pile at the top:

As you can see, Panda got there too. They may try to tell us he's an old dog, and at 11 and a half he does move more carefully than he used to. But he scrambled up that mountain, leaping over boulders and scrabbling up the slippery, narrow, twisting path, as eagerly as though he were nothing more than a pup. Here's the proof -- Panda at the geological summit marker:

Sadly, those dark spots you see on the rocks are just what they look like -- raindrops. We had climbed Azure Mountain because we were promised spectacular views of the High Peaks at the top -- but we didn't see 'em. Just as we reached the top, the rain began. It spattered at first, then showered harder, then settled into a true, hard, slanting rain. We sheltered under the fire tower for a while, hoping that it would stop, but no such luck -- once it began it kept right on. It rained all the way down the mountain. We were soaked to the skin by the time we slid and slithered down. It kept right on raining while we drove back to the campsite, through the evening, all night long, and well into the next day. Back at the campsite, we found puddles in our pretty little tent, which hadn't yet had its seams sealed. This required some OM-style creative thinking as to how to spend a relatively warm and surprisingly cozy evening by the fire:

Yes, that's the Subaru. It makes for very nice campfire seating. Thankfully, the tent proved to be dry enough to sleep in comfortably, thanks to our self-inflating foam sleeping pads that lifted our sleeping bags out of the puddles. The next morning it was still raining. We packed up and drove home -- where we found that an exceptionally brazen woodchuck had tunneled right under the house while we were gone. Panda, a mighty hunter after his weekend in the Adirondack wilderness, grabbed it. But we didn't let him eat it.

Panda had a great time camping, and so did we. So much so, in fact, that we're looking for a chance to do it again. Your father is getting very, very interested in www.rv.net . . . .

Monday, July 02, 2007

The actual fun part of the trip

There was a wedding:

I managed to ruin yet another wedding photo:

This is not an LLBean ad. We all wore flannels to the rehearsal in honor of Andrew:

I was the only one posing for this picture, can you tell?

There were ferries:

And mountains and ocean and more ferries:

And Kate came!

And we went to a Red Sox game in Seattle!

If anyone wants to see the other few-dozen photos let me know and I'll post the link. It was a really great time, and I highly recommend visiting the San Juan islands, if anyone's on the fence about that one.