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Good News and Bad News [May. 28th, 2004|04:57 pm]
I don't watch the Local News. Not at 6:00, not at 11:00 (does that let on what time zone I'm in?).

What's the point? The top story every night is something violent. It's all disasters and maimings. The thing is, people who watch the news think they know what life is really like--that it's telling them what's going on in the world.

That's not what's going on. And that's definitely not all of the most news-worthy events in your area.

Anyways, there was a sports story a few weeks back about a kid who was given a "Cry-baby" award by his coach (you should go read the whole story). An 8th-grade honor student who had spent all season asking for as much pt as he could get (that's "playing time" to us bench-warmers). I was incensed when I heard the stories. Wanted to have conversations about it. I couldn't believe it. What killed me at the time was that this coach was a special education teacher--I figured he could have known better.

Well, the story has a happy ending, and I'm glad the news services decided to let us know.

One of the things that does bug me about the news is that it's always so transitory. The news story isn't the whole story. If I had a news channel, it would be totally dedicated to follow-up stories on last year's stories. All the stories that were dropped for the next flavor of the month, I'd pick them up a year or two later and report on it. That'd be some fine journalism.
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Excitement! [Mar. 19th, 2004|12:43 am]
I'm taking a programming class, and it's actually been a lot of fun. I've been working with computers long enough now to be comfortable with the intrinsic logic. It took me awhile, I think. I didn't really work at it--I think that's the story of my intellectual life: don't work at it, let your subconscious figure it out. My subconscious used to be fricking brilliant and could figure things out in at most a day or two. This took substantially longer, I think.

The point is, not only am I doing pretty well in the class, but I'm also challenging myself to do more than the assignment. It's not a conscious challenge either, like I'm trying to prove something. It's actually born of a sense of curiousity: can I accomplish such-and-such with my current toolset?

Tonight I had some trouble with a program, and I then had a bit of a breakthrough. It's pretty minor, but it was still a heady feeling. I could get to like that. Just imagine what life would have been like if I had caught on to this earlier ("doodloo-doo, dooodlo-doo" fantasy drift off).

Even before I got that little rush, though, I was pretty excited. We're having a contractor re-do part of our kitchen. Creating a little breakfast-bar between the kitchen and dining room. Work started yesterday, and it was just amazing to come home to such an open room. It made such a difference. It was impossible to truly appreciate before-hand what a difference it would make. Jennifer and I both immediately thought of just not putting the cabinets back up and leaving the space completely open. We're changing some of our ideas a bit already, and I don't think the contractor's too happy about it.

I took pictures right before they took down the wall, but one thing I regret is that I didn't think of "helping out" a bit before hand. I should have just taken a couple of whacks at the wall before letting the sub-contractor do his thing. It would have been a wonderful experience. I can already see my son picturing this as his life's work--"You mean, you get to destroy things by banging on them as hard as you can for a living!! Sign me up!"

Of course, I can't find my card-reader, so none of the pictures on my digital camera can be loaded on the PC. And I don't have the option of putting tons of pictures on this page. That's part of my excuse for not having written in here for so long. I was taking pictures and I couldn't put them up here to talk about.

The other big thing that happened today was that Jennifer's birthday present came in. I ordered blueberry bushes online and they came in today. I'm really excited about having fresh fruit of our own. It was a present for the whole family really, but I was sure that Jennifer would really like it. And she did.

Without a doubt, this is the single best gift idea I've ever had. I also got some books on back-yard orcharding.

Her birthday isn't until next Wednesday, but the books came in earlier this week, and the blueberry plants came in today, and I simply couldn't contain my excitement. So we had an early birthday party.

Now I have to get ready to go back to evil work, but at least now I have a little bit of good cheer to last me through the next few weeks of drudgery. You have to take it where you can get it.
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Oh, My [Mar. 18th, 2004|05:25 pm]
I'm becoming an NPR addict. There's a bit on Fresh Air by a the linguist Geoff Nunberg. I caught the last half of his bit today, and it was wonderful. Through the magic of the internet, you can read what he wrote here. It's a wonderful piece, but I also have to admit that I like his voice, and it's nice to hear him when he does his bit.

Well. I had a list of words that Donovan's using, but I left a couple out. I have to admit that my 19-month-old son has used the words "shit," and "god dammit." Yes, I have managed to corrupt a youth at an unimaginably young age. I'll need to check with the Guiness people, but I may have a record. My entrance fee into the annals of human history is paid. I have created a monster.

Okay, it's maybe not as bad as I'm treating it. But it is true that last week he used the phrase "god dammit" at his day care, apparently after knocking over a glass of milk (please save the cliches for another time). Of course, maybe the teacher didn't here what he said so well. That's always a possibility. To be honest, I thought I had been rather good about my language around him, and that I still had time to move from "rather good" to "perfect." It looks like my estimation was off by a few months.

So now my new favorite expression is, "oh my." No more of the wonderfully mellifluous "goddammits" for me. No sir, I've cleaned up my act. But don't get me started on what he sounds like when he tries to say "fork."
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The word list [Mar. 17th, 2004|09:07 pm]
His Highness's current vocabulary:
Water, Daddy, Mommy, Car, Keys, Chin, Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth, Teeth, Fork, Spoon, Book, Moon, Up, Bye-bye, Door, Tickle, Bed, Down, Milk, Cat, Fish, Dog, Cow, Ball, Glasses, Cup, Baby, Roar, Shoes, Socks, Ba-Pa (grandpa), Phone

And of course, the most favoritest word in the world: No!
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Bastard Capitalists (is there any other kind?) [Feb. 20th, 2004|08:17 pm]
In 2002, several high-profile companies in the music industry settled a lawsuit against them for price-fixing. Now, the check is in the mail. What I find funny is, of course, the fact that the music industry as a whole has been whining for years about P2P and how it's killing their business. They were trying to gouge consumers for years, and I'm glad they got caught.

From the usatoday article: '"We believe our policies were pro-competitive and geared toward keeping more retailers, large and small, in business," Universal said in a statement.'

Hey Mr. Universal--I don't care how you name yourself, you don't speak for everyone. And as long as you're being a capitalist pig, why don't you act like one...if you're pro-competitive, MORE RETAILERS WILL DROP OUT OF BUSINESS. That's what competition's all about. The ones that don't provide the best services will die. Unless of course, you illegally try to circumvent that, asshole.
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Get it on [Feb. 13th, 2004|07:42 am]
Since I'm posting links here...and thanks, anonymous dude for the other sites, I thought I'd add one that I find hilariously funny.
Get your war on, part of a site called My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable is great. He posts kind of irregularly, but I just re-read some old ones. There are 31 pages of clip-art comics up now on the site, and they go in chronological order and are extremely current to the time of the post--so the first ones from October of 2001 start with the craziness of the government's activities at that point, and it continues from there.

Be warned, however, of vast and painful cynicism, and lots and lots of anger, put forth in a funny way, of course.
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Run Ralph Run [Feb. 9th, 2004|11:44 pm]
Last week, I heard about the proliferation of calls by the members of the Democratic party to prevent Ralph Nader from running for President. I can understand the fear. I don't particulary like the current regime, or any of its representatives. I don't like their policies, and I don't like their philosophies, and I don't like their rhetoric.

But sites like http://www.turtlerock.com/RalphDontRun, and the editorial at the Nation don't make me any happier.

I thought I'd look into Washington's Farewell Address to see the bit about the 2-party system. I read it so you don't have to. You can thank me later. But you should read it yourself. I'm just blown away by this guy. I was always more interested in the intellectual Founding Fathers. George was just the benevolent, avuncular Patriarch. He wasn't the intellectual like Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Hamilton or even Franklin. Just a severe guy with a strong will, a great capacity for loyalty, and an over-arching sense of duty.

But in one speech, he predicts all the crap that's going to happen to the United States and tells people not to let it happen. And in hindsight, he's right. From my vantage point, I think almost everything he says about the party system is correct. He apprehended the consequences of faction better than anyone.
He first introduces his distrust of party:

"In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection."


This is what happens when you have a party system:

"However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."

One party doing better than the other immediately creates a situation where loyalty to the party becomes greater than loyalty to the country:

"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty."

He has an unfortunate paragraph or two where he talks about the need for a moral government, based on religious principles: "Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
But then he gets back to stuff I agree with:

"Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."


I just have to include this in light of the militaristic policies of the current administration:

"Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other."


That Avalon Project Site is really good. I just got to read the tripe of George Bush and compare it with Clinton's. Bush is such a divisive, antagonistic president. We should have known from the beginning that he'd get us into a war. His "brain-trust" (you won't find a more chilling, more sinister, or more disturbing web site on the known web) is a group of people that want to enforce American hegemony across the world no matter what the cost, economically, diplomatically, socially, or in the very blood of American soldiers. Those lives are not to be expended casually, as I believe they are being spent now.

I am divided. Strongly divided. I believe much of what Ralph Nader stands for is what I want in a President. I believe that we need a voice from outside the current Party system. I don't think we can go back to what Washington requested--a zero Party system--but the next best thing is to create a multiplicity of parties--until everyone is a "party of one."

But I also believe that Ralph Nader will not be elected. I believe that in the days of realpolitik we must make sacrifice many of our beliefs to see something that we like preserved. The essence of American democracy is compromise. You don't get everything you want, but you can get a little of it, if you work something out with others. Compromise is good, and not voting for Nader is a compromise I'll probably have to make.

Your assignment is now to go read Federalist #10. I was going to quote it, but it's getting late now.
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badger badger badger [Feb. 3rd, 2004|11:52 pm]
N. at work showed me this first a couple of months ago. Apparently, it's all over that world wide web thingy these days. Do not believe anyone who says that there's a surprise after a certain amount of time. First you'll laugh, then it'll infect your brain.
Check it out!
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Beautiful Boy [Jan. 26th, 2004|05:56 pm]
I have a picture of Donovan in my office that I look at whenever I drift off--and if you know me, you know I drift off frequently. He's absolutely beautiful in the picture. You ask me, he's absolutely beautiful at all times, but I especially like the picture.

Walking into the hospital on Saturday, worried about his beauty, I told Jennifer that I thought we were really lucky for everything that we've been through, or even not been through, but I can't help but thinking we've spent too much of the first 17 months of our son's life in hospitals.

Saturday morning, Donovan slipped and split his chin on the barrier in between the shower and the bathroom floor. After an initial bit of blood, he didn't really bleed all that much, and it didn't look very intense. In fact, within 15 minutes he was chipper again, but we decided to take him to the emergency room anyway. Four hours later, he had 3 stitches and we were finally out of there.

He was great throughout the whole thing. Perky, happy, and tough. During the cleansing of the wound, and the prep and actual stitching, he cried the whole time, but I'm sure that was mostly out of the frustration of being held down.

Scars never disappear. Is it shallow of me to worry about his looks? I'm not ungrateful that he's a healthy kid. But he's now had more stitches than most adults who aren't hockey players, and he's not even two years old. He's got the original scar from the surgery on his left shoulder, plus the scar across his chest that held the central line in during his antibiotic treatment. He's had stitches on a finger, now stitches on his chin, and a scar from a wound that never got stitched on his eye.

I'm not a clumsy guy; I went through a period of clumsiness that confirmed it for some people around me, and I believed them for too long. I'm not going to let anyone call Donovan clumsy no matter how many accidents he has.

I was mentally prepared that we'd have a little boy, and there'd be lots of scrapes and wounds during the growing-up years. I never considered that he'd have all these scars from before he was even running (he just kinda waddles quickly right now :-).

He won't even have a memory of these. When he tells the stories of all his scars to the admiring chicks, he'll have to make something cool up, like Harrison Ford had to make up for his chin scar--Donovan's chin scar is underneath, though, so it won't be that visible.

So Donovan had a weird weekend and the whole weight of parenthood is starting to descend upon us--be ready for years of worry, folks. How have all these parents done it through all these years? I guess that's what we're learning.
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Up up up [Jan. 22nd, 2004|11:18 pm]
Forget the politics. I'd love to post something about my reaction to the State of the Union address--it was the first I've paid any attention to in a long while--but I'm not interested in that now.

His highness has really been using a new word a lot. Up. He says "up" more than I've ever heard anyone say it. He loves to be carried, and he loves to be hugged, and he loves to be a part of what's going on. "Up" is the word that gets all that done.

We have a book, "Baby Signs," that's all about how to teach Signing--not necessarily ASL, but signing of sorts--to infants. I've heard they start as early as possible. One thing I know we've been lax about is we don't really try to repeat words with Donovan. We just talk to him, or talk for him. We're already having entire conversations through him--"Donovan, tell your mommy...", "Donovan, tell your daddy..."

It seems like other parents sit down and try to coach their kids. I'm not really opposed to that, not for some things. I don't like flash cards for 1-year-olds, but that's an extreme case.

He's done two things that were sad and funny: the other day when I was gone, and Jennifer had to take him to day care, he didn't want to go. She normally gets some raisin bread and puts it in a baggy for breakfast on the way. The last day she took him to day care, he grabbed the baggy and ran away. If mommy doesn't have that, she won't take him to the evil day care and abandon him. This was sad.

The other one was funny. After a day cooped up, he's used to taking a drive somewhere--quick aside: he loves to drive the car, get him in the driver's seat and he'll honk and blink and push buttons and generally waste all the wiper fluid that you have--so he started gettting the stuff ready. He gets mommy's purse and drags it over to her. She doesn't get the hint, apparently. He gets the keys, brings them over. She's not doing what she's supposed to. What is this work stuff? He gets her coat and drags it over to her. Are you getting this mommy? She finally takes him over to baw-pa's. He loves his grandpa and grandma.
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