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Jealous yet?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Petty, Vindictive Bureaucrats

Sunday, December 28, 2008

We drove around looking for parking, and settled for a metered space. We put money in the meter, but to no avail; the meter remained expired. So we gave up and left a note to the Meter Police. But we forgot: DC is filled with petty, vindictive bureaucrats, and writing tickets makes them feel Big. So it cost us $27 for parking: $2 for the meter, and $25 for the ticket.

I hate the system I swore to uphold.

Thursday, November 13, 2008
Cops lie.
Judges empower cops.
Prosecutors trust cops.
Juries believe cops.
Defense attorneys go bald.
Defendants go to jail.
Welcome to American Justice.

My Days...

Monday, October 13, 2008
....go something like this:

Play with Baby J.

Read the news (Ellie helps).

Make Baby J smile.

Answer emails (Ellie helps).

When Baby J cries, fix it.

Do some work (Ellie helps).

Watch Baby J sleep (Ellie helps).

Not a bad life.


Friday, October 10, 2008
I couldn't figure out how to spell cassaroll, casarole, casaroll, casserole, caserolle, caserole the name given many things because they are mixed and then baked in a pan.

Anyhoo, I am making kiwi cheesecakes and I realized I had tator tots and heavy whipping cream! The sheer joy of knowing that the possibility of "cheesy goodness" was near elicited the biggest happy dance I had ever done. After about 10 seconds (that's all I will admit in public), I had to tell myself to calm down. It was the first time that I had ever been my own voice of reason. Then I thought, I used my voice of reason on that? Shame on me! Then I danced again.

Work Conversation

Funny Conversation:

Me: Ede, wanna see a cute baby?
Ede: Ooh, Ooh, yeah, Hold on, Here I come.
Ede: Aww, such a cute little boy (in that whiney girl voice)
Me: Girl (sarcasm is awesome)
Ede: Girl (whiney voice again)
Me: I'm telling Asia you said her baby was ugly
Ede: I didn't say ugly. I just called him a boy!
Me: How's that better?
Ede: I could have said ugly boy
Me: This is true. I will tell her you called her baby an ugly boy.
Ede: JB!
Me: **Laughing hysterically.**

"Obama's Mama"

Saturday, September 13, 2008
This has to be one of the strangest videos I've seen in quite some time. Yes, he's offensive and yes, he's so ignorant that it's ridiculous, but the man is so deranged that what starts at 6:30 into the video becomes hilarious.

Homosexuality, Drug Dealing, and Bestiality, oh my!

Good thing he's spreading the word of God or else we'd all be in danger of President Obama.

Bored with Bronchitis

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Since I was missing yet my third day of work due to illness, something I have never done in the lifetime of my employment lifetime (I heard it), I decided it was time to see the doctor. I discovered that I have a sinus infection and bronchitis. A shot to the ass (and it still hurts) the arm later along with some prescription cough syrup and a pill (that was supposed to put me to sleep), I decide to read the medication that I took hours earlier. I read this warning:

"While taking this medication avoid direct/indirect artificial/natural sunlight."

Which made me think:
1. Is there any other kind? (In that "A Few Good Men" "Grave danger?" tone)
2. Does that mean I can't check the mail?

The Wait Is Over

Saturday, August 23, 2008
That is all.

The Waiting Game

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The least fun of ALL games.


Sunday, August 10, 2008
Still pregnant. In case you're wondering.

That's all.


Friday, August 01, 2008
Enjoy being frustrated?

Then click here.

Took me a minute or so, but I got it...

37 Weeks...

Thursday, July 31, 2008
Which means I'm due in 3 weeks, for what that's worth. Pretty weird.

New phenomena:
- What I'm wearing seems to determine whether I get the "Wow, you're huge!" comments, or "You look great, you're so small!" comments. The other possibility is that the people in the second category are lying, because they're always women, but that's okay (I love them for it).
- The baby gets the hiccups. Really weird.
- People, particularly Mr. B, are now concerned that I could go into labor at any second, so I have to be careful. If I say "ouch" because the kid has kicked me particularly hard, everyone in the room gets very attentive. If I flinch at work, my coworkers go into High Alert. It's very sweet, and absolutely hilarious.
- Swollen everything, all day long (as opposed to before, when I just had swollen ankles in the afternoon). Pretty uncomfortable, but also highly amusing: I can make fun patterns on myself. Being swollen means that I get "pillow lines" and marks really easily - so if, for example, I rest my legs on a chair with waffle-pattern fabric, then when I pick my legs up they'll also have a waffle-pattern. It's like being made of silly putty (silly putty! silly putty! silly putty!).

Things My Son Said Today

Monday, July 28, 2008
Davis and I sat on my Big Comfy Chair today. I leaned it back, put up the footrest. My feet reached the rest, and Davis's feet stopped just past my knee (it used to be they wouldn't reach the edge of the seat).

"I need more woom, Daddy."

So I tipped myself to one side, squeezing into the corner so he could fit. This, too, is relatively new. In a few months, or a year, or an eyeblink, we'll be fighting for the chair. I stopped fighting my Dad for the chair when I realized that his pocket change always fell out when he reclined. From then on, I would let him have the chair, and I would scrounge for loose change.

I think I'll buy a second chair.

"We're making a ten, Daddy!" Davis was all delight and surprise. I asked him to repeat that. Twice. And again. "Yeah, a ten. I'm a One, and you're a Zewo." This is funny, and I laugh, but a bit uneasily: I am the Zero. Davis said, "there's a zewo on your shirt." He pronounced it more like "shut." I saw nothing, but maybe that was the joke.

Later tonight, I tucked him into bed; the sheet tightly fitted to his body. He laid on his back and said something that I didn't quite understand, ending with "can't get into his cave." I noticed he was trying to push his hand under the sheet. I asked him what he had said.

"Teke can't get into his cave!" It rhymed with Becky. I said it out loud. Did I have that right? "Yeah, Teke!" And how was that spelled? "T-E-K-E! Teke is my weft hand."

His right hand was "Medi." Like Betty. But funnier. I am a little afraid to ask him to name the rest of his body parts. But, for the record, his little sister's giant plush cat is now called "Mr. Cellphone."

"Webster" is the kitchen trash can.

Timing is everything...

This is probably not going to be as funny in the retelling, but...

This morning the radio alarm went off, and Mr. B hit snooze. We were lying in bed, dozing/waking up, stretching...I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning now. At one point I stretched, and sighed, and said: "But it's so hard to get out of bed..."

Just then Mr. B's alarm went off again, and Madonna (in "Open Your Heart") sang: "It's not that hard - " before Mr. B hit the alarm again.

Then we both realized what I said, and what the radio said, and I couldn't stop laughing. Of course, it doesn't take much to send me into giggles these days...

Celebrity Collage by MyHeritage

Friday, July 25, 2008

MyHeritage: Family tree - Genealogy - Celeb - Collage - Morph

This is worth your time

If you have some time, watch the lecture...


Monday, July 21, 2008
I got this at work today.

Our great friendship

When you are sad -- I will
Help you get drunk and plot revenge
Against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

When you are blue -- I will
Try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

When you smile -- I will
Know you are plotting something
That I must be involved in.

When you are scared -- I will
Rag on you about it every chance I get.

When you are worried -- I will
Tell you horrible stories about
How much worse it could be,
Until you quit whining.

When you are confused -- I will
Use little words.

When you are sick -- I will
Tell you to stay the hell away from me
Until you are well again.
I don't want whatever you have.
When you fall -- I will
Point and laugh at your clumsy ass.

This is my oath....
I pledge it to the end.

'Why?' you may ask.
'Because you're my friend!'

Friendship is like
Peeing your pants:
Everyone can see it,
But only you can
Feel the true warmth.

Mommy, why does Daddy drink so much?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Well sweetie (In that patronizing Mommy voice), your Daddy's a lawyer and he has conversations like these on a daily basis.

Client: I want a trial!

Me: We have no evidence or theory to disprove the State's case. A trial is not in your best interest.

Client: Still, I want a trial. I want my day in court.

Me: It will be a bad day.

Client: *Snicker* Maybe for you, but not for me.

Me: You realize at the end of that day, I will be going home and you will go to prison.

Client: How come I have to go to prison?

Me: Because the state can prove that you committed a crime.

Client: Well, disprove it.

Me: We have no EVIDENCE!

Client: Why should that stop you?

Me: *Sigh* (to myself) And I applied for this job.

What I found on my bathmat this morning

How my Recycling Can Wheel Was Stolen, and How I Got it Back

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
This is, I swear, all true, despite the surreal nature of the whole thing.

On Monday (trash day), for the first time, I put out my brand new, supplied by my garbage company for a mere $2 per month, industrial-trash-can-sized recycling bin. It is green. In it, I may place all of my recycling, mixed up, with no sorting whatsoever (woo-hoo!).

Later that morning, as I was preparing Sara's lunch, I glanced out the window and noticed a pickup truck slowing in front of the house. Moments later, a man got out and, as he appeared to be heading toward our door, stopped and picked up something from the grass. Another glance a moment later confirmed he was headed for our front door, where, in extremely broken English, he asked if I needed mulch and handed me a card. Although I didn't need mulch, and said as much, I did take the card.

Fast forward about 10 minutes.

Noticing the diapers needed taking out to the trash can, I decided to combine the trip with the necessary chore of dragging both the trash and recycling cans up from the curb. There was only one small problem.

The recycling can was missing a wheel.

" ahh" I thought. That thing the man picked up was a wheel. Well, maybe he placed it in the trash can.
In the recycling can?
Nope. In the grass or flowerbeds somewhere near the house?

So, I return inside, find the card, and call the number scrawled on it in nearly illegible, running-out-of-ink ballpoint pen. What I get on the other end sounds like a conversation in Spanish between two people who have accidentally left their cell phone on without realizing it. All of my shouting "hello!" "OLA!" into the phone is to no avail. I dial again. I get the SAME Spanish conversation, and realize it must be a recording.

While I am listening, a caller beeps in on call waiting, and when I answer it, it's mulch guy! Yeah!

Except, he has no idea what I'm saying when I ask about the wheel. He doesn't understand English.

After much shouting (like THAT'S gonna help with comprehension) and the use of the words "mulch" and "house", I get him to agree to come back, and give him the address. 10 minutes later, he pulls up and I'm waiting out front. I ask about the wheel.


I point to the recycling bin with no wheel and make round motions with my hand.

He says "trash?"

I say "where is it?"

He walks to the back of his truck, pulls out my wheel, and hands it to me.

I put it back on the recycling bin. He drives away.

Fun Pregnancy Symptoms

For a while now, I've been counting how many pregnancy symptoms I haven't experienced - it's a shorter list than counting the ones that I have experienced. There are all kinds of fun things to experience, like morning sickness, leg cramps, (permanently) bigger feet, swollen ankles, etc.

Anyway, here is my new, updated list of pregnancy symptoms that I have not had the pleasure of experiencing yet:

34 weeks and counting...

Friday, July 11, 2008
Two not-so-startling realizations:

1. As much as being pregnant sucks (well, it does.), this baby is a lot easier to take care of on the inside than he will be when he's on the outside.

2. Um. Hm. There was a second thing, but I've forgotten it. No one who has had a conversation with me recently should be surprised by this.

Happy Friday, everyone.

The Hunting of the Snark

Monday, June 30, 2008
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Republican Party

Judges Cite Nonsense Poem in Guantanomo Case

There is also a chapter in Alice in Wonderland in which the Knave of Hearts is on trial for having stolen the tarts, and a nonsense poem (a parody of a then-contemporary poem) is introduced into evidence against the Knave. It is purported that the Knave wrote it; the Knave denies writing it, says it isn't in his handwriting, and notes that no name is signed as the author. The King takes this as incontrovertible proof of the Knave's deceit and, therefore, his guilt.

We are the new Victorians: we see evidence where there is none, and declare the end of theoretical science, as if we had somehow reached the end of discovery.

More Things I Have Learned

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
9 months is a long time, until it's not.

If I asked you what your plans were for next March, what would you say? Too far ahead to think about, right? I felt that way back in December: 9 months is a long time.

At 4 weeks, Mr. B and I felt like 8 weeks was FOREVER to wait to tell people. And I think being constantly sick made the time go by kind of slowly.

At 12 weeks, another two months to find out the gender seemed like FOREVER. August still seemed far away, and I was (for some reason) eagerly anticipating "showing."

Finding out that the alien growing inside me was a boy made things a little more "real." But still, I was only halfway through this thing, and it was (barely) spring - late summer was still FOREVER to wait.

Now? We've seen our first 100-degree days, so summer is here. The list of "Things To Do Before The Kid Shows Up" hasn't gotten much shorter, and yet my google countdown keeps on ticking (64 days!). Suddenly we have a childbirth class and a meeting with the pediatrician and a tour of the maternity ward scheduled and a guess-the-date-and-weight game in the works and a lot of cleaning to do to satisfy my nesting instinct and holy cow this is really only two months away...

The Basement (Parts 175-184)

Sunday, June 01, 2008
Yes, 6 months later, we're finally almost done with the basement. We've been a little busy...

We installed the 5 cabinet doors we were waiting on, 4 on the corner cabinets at the bottom of the stairs and 1 over the electrical box (175-179) and assembled the shower (180). Assembling the shower, by the way, was about 63 steps all by itself, and took 4 people with at least 7 or 8 degrees.

In case I never blog about it, the final parts that are left: putting up a towel rack (181), finishing the bottom edge of the back door (182), hang up pictures (183), and bring home the baby (184). That is, after all, why we started this project... :-)

Congratulations John!

Sunday, May 18, 2008
Hoo! Hoo!

Way to go, man. We're proud of you.

I wish I could say the sleepless nights are over, but, well, yeah. :)


Friday, May 16, 2008
This came from Fred. I couldn't possibly love this screen shot any more.

Do We STILL Have to Claim West Virginia?

Seriously, can't they secede from the U.S. or something?

I was listening to NPR yesterday (the other car, with XM, was in the shop) and caught a little tidbit about the role race played in the primary in West Virginia (or, West Virgina, if you please). You can listen to it for yourself, but here's the interesting parts [with some sarcasm for your enjoyment]:

"Hillary Clinton's overwhelming victory over Barack Obama in West Virginia has revived a common question this primary season: How race influences voters decisions.

"One in five white West Virginia voters said race helped determine their choice.

"On Tuesday, we asked West Virginians who they voted for, and why, as they left the polls. We heard a lot of this:

"I don't want Obama in there. I don't like his background. They're putting the man in because of his race. And I don't, uh, I'm not ready for that." -Gene Morris [you're right, because the best thing a black person has going for them in this country, and your state, is his race]

"Mr. Obama doesn't have much of a chance here because they will not vote for a black man in West Virginia. And they can't stand the thoughts of a black man telling a white man what to do." -Joetta Koon [she actually gets it]

"Whether he is a Muslim, uh, I guess he's not, I guess it's just everything that's going on in the Middle East; a little scary being unknown." -Thomas Caldwell [um, he's not Muslim, as if it matters, and the only unknown in this equation is what's taking up the space between your two ears]

"You know I didn't vote for no colored. [laughing]" -Morris King [yep, we know]
"They're all West Virginians who voted in Tuesday's primary. We should add that none of them were asked specifically about race."

One word: WOW!

Journalists Are Not Mathematicians

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Sick-Leave Abuse Prompts Calls to Compensate for Unused Time

"For weeks that had a holiday falling on a Monday, 27 percent of all sick leave at the IRS was taken on a Tuesday in 2005 and 2006, the report said. And 24 percent of all sick leave taken by IRS employees during non-holiday weeks was on a Monday. "

Now, I can't even decipher what the first sentence means. But for the second sentence: Well, if it were just random chance, you would expect that 20% of all sick leave would be on a Monday - and 20% on Tuesday, and 20% on Wednesday, and 20% on Thursday, and 20% on Friday. So 24% doesn't seem that out of line to me...

What Else They Don't Tell You

Thursday, May 08, 2008
Well, they kinda tell you...when you're pregnant, all of your other internal organs get squished. Your bladder is squished and you have to pee all the time, ha ha, right?

But no, seriously, they all get squished. Space is at a premium, so there are trade-offs: if, for example, you eat a large meal, then you can't breathe. And there is very little wiggle room (literally): when the kid kicks, he's likely to strike the bladder, ribs, stomach, and all kinda of fun stuff. And I imagine that the internal-organs-as-punching-bags phenomenon is only going to get worse...

Yes, it's all worth it. But it's WEIRD.

What They Don't Tell You

Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Ok, there are a lot of things that no one tells you about being pregnant. But what's really odd is this: you feel the kid move. All the time. It's not just that sometimes the kid kicks and you can feel it - no, you're sitting at your desk, and he's moving. You're walking to your car, and he's moving. You're in a meeting, in the shower, watching TV, trying to sleep, having a conversation, doing dishes - and he's moving. Kicking, squirming, poking. Imagine someone following you around for four months or so, poking you in the stomach. Except that you love this person a lot, so it's not as annoying as you'd think.

It's weird. It's cool, but it's really really weird. That's all.

The results are in...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
We had our 22-week ultrasound on Monday, and from the weird and alien images, it appears to be a healthy, growing, perfect little boy!

Stuff that you can't make up.

Friday, April 18, 2008
"I check their underpants to ensure there is only one penis."

And this one gets a big "That's what she said."

Last Call

We find out on Monday if it's a boy or a girl, so if you haven't made your guess yet...


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Originally uploaded by avpjack
The bulb that spawned this beautiful flower was in a bag that was sitting in the corner of our kitchen next to out sliding glass door. It had been there for at least four months. This was growing out of the bag. Lots of sun and no water...


Monday, April 07, 2008
I have had my first drill since I was sent off to learn the law of the military and it could not have been more exciting. Many things have changed, many have stayed the same, and I am stuck in the middle with you (sorry, I couldn't resist).

Whoa, we're halfway there...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
20 weeks today!

(Yep, Livin' On A Prayer is stuck in my head. Figured I'd put it in everyone else's heads as well. Sorry.)

What Heroes Are Made Of

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Heroes Are Made Of
Originally uploaded by avpjack

This is Jimmy A's guitar. Jimmy started me out with a few chords last year at "Old People's Beach Week" in North Myrtle Beach. I've since learned Margaritaville and the opening to She's Gone. Thank you Jimmy A. Thank you.

Well, not just those two songs, but those were the most exciting to learn. When I get done with the oppressive tedium of academia, I'm gonna take lessons. I can then I add Slow RIde and Freebird to my repetoire.
Dear DB (think about it and you'll know what insult I'm using),

When you decided to up and leave town, the blog went all Greek. Then, terrorists started shooting at people from the side of the highway. Yes, I said terrorists - I'm now afraid of the highway. WTF?

Whose Blog Is This?

What the hell happened to the blog? Why is it no longer in American?

Downtown Train

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Downtown Train
Originally uploaded by avpjack
I figured I'd start posting stuff from Flickr here. This was one of our better days in New Orleans. The engineer...what do you call the guy that drives an electric train in 2008?...was pretty nice. He picked us up even though we had no tickets and took us to the place to get tickets. Afterwards, he didn't even make us use our tickets. If you need streetcar tickets for New Orleans, just let me know.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Place Your Bets

Monday, March 24, 2008
Our next ultrasound is scheduled for April 21st at if you want to take a guess as to whether it's a boy or a girl, you have until then.

I'm really not sure, so I can't help you. :-)

Resistance Is Futile..

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Round one, complete

Friday, March 21, 2008
Here we are, only 5 hours later .... and I have just about everything done. Still missing:
1. MediaWiki
2. Fully configured Apache2
3. DNS (really not needed)

It's late, and my blog posts are confusing Mrs. B, so it's time to call it quits.

Things that I shouldn't be doing on a Friday night

Top on the list: fighting with AppleTalk file sharing on Linux.

Long story short: to get Leopard to connect to the Ubuntu/Debian versions of netatalk, you have to allow cleartext passwords under Leopard. On the mac, run this:
defaults write afp_cleartext_allow -bool true

And voila! it works. This is because there's a licensing issue with SSL; you can break the license and rebuild netatalk, but it wasn't working for me. Yet. For now, I will hack it.

Found the hack courtesy comments here, and found the SSL rebuild magic here.

On to the next headache :-/

What happened to the blog?

Δεν καταλαβαίνω μια λέξη όλου αυτού.

The Saga Continues

2 hours, 40 minutes in, and I have solved my RAID problem. The RAID device is now resyncing (should be finished before midnight).

Next: download & rebuild the netatalk package to allow SSL-encrypted AppleTalk (because Macs are sexy).

Snag #2

Fixed the first snag; pseudo-static DHCP did the trick. On to snag #2: RAID.

Have managed to solve this, but what a PITA. Had to create /dev/md0, which involved
sudo /dev/MAKEDEV md

which put the devices in a lower-level subdirectory to be added to /dev/ at a later date. This makes sense in retrospect, but wow ... I'm glad I've got Google. One reboot later, and some shenanigans in /etc/fstab, and I have RAID.

So: I now have a working
1. Base OS & networking
2. Apache 2.2.4
3. MySQL 5.0.45
4. PHP 5.2.3-1
5. Software RAID (but haven't proven this is reboot-proof yet)
7. USB
8. SSH

Now on to the rest. This is going quite quickly, all things considered.

Snag #1

Problem #1: IP addressing. The king server needs a static IP address so the other hosts on my network can find it. The default Ubuntu installation uses DHCP. I could modify the /etc/network/interfaces file to specify static addressing, but I think it might be better to tell my router (which is acting as a gateway & DHCP server) to serve king the same IP address every time it connects. Trying that now.

The First Acid Test

Acid test number 1: the first reboot onto the hard drive. Open questions here:
1. did I install grub onto the correct partition? I used the master boot record of my first SATA drive (/dev/sda1).

2. Did I pooch the mail installation? Probably. I can't remember the server that I'm using as a relay. No worries: I'll pull this from the saved config files on my backup disk (yeah, I made a backup). That is, assuming USB works, and I can get to the disk.

Conversion, part 1

First problem: remember which partitions NOT to erase. The installer is complaining the two partitions involved in software RAID (mirroring) have some sort of error. I think this is normal.

I hope this is normal.

Now installing the base OS .....

I'm Converting

... from RedHat to Ubuntu.

Wait. You thought I meant what? No. I'm a proud Jewpalian, and will remain so.


My RedHat installation is waaaaay too outdated for me to install new versions of anything. I could upgrade it, but frankly, I got there by refusing to buy into the up2date service. I could use a Linux kernel update. And I'd like to get my LAMP stack working correctly. So.

Ubuntu to the rescue! At least, here's hoping.

Blog posts throughout the night as I try to get the beast up and running. Critical services that MUST work by tomorrow morning:
1. Base OS & networking
2. Apache 2.x
3. MySQL
4. PHP (ideally, php5)
5. Software RAID
6. Netatalk (really, afpd)
7. USB
8. SSH
9. CVS
10. Subversion

Plus, I'd like to make sure I have:
11. MediaWiki (the new Wiki)
12. The existing Wiki (can't remember what flavor this is ... DokuWiki?)
13. DNS (caching nameserver)

I'll be posting progress throughout the night. And on into the weeks ahead, if necessary.

Dr. Strangelove

Thursday, March 20, 2008
Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Alien Growing Inside Me

18 weeks down, 22-ish more to go!

A few days ago, I thought I felt someone poke me in the stomach - from the inside. I wasn't sure, though. Then yesterday, there was no mistaking the feeling - like someone was playing the piano on my insides for a few seconds. It's odd, and reassuring, and pretty neat.

This is the weirdest and coolest thing I've ever done.

It's hard out here for a...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
What do you think?

As far as I can tell, Ferraro's comments come across as racist. Maybe she's not a racist, I dunno. If not, she's just plain stupid. I could be wrong, but that's my opinion. She could be telling it like it is. She could also be telling me that being excited by a black person running for President is wrong and I shouldn't do that. On the other hand, being black never helped Alan Keyes seem more attractive to me as a candidate for anything.
"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up,' Ferraro said. 'Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

Reality: Racism doesn't work in two different directions. You're either an idiot or you're not. You're either willing to say something hurtful to win or you're not. It's just one way. I'm not on the other side of the fence.

People are attacking you because you are alienating a significant voter base in the middle of the primaries to win by inciting racism. How do you plan to bring these people back to Hillary if she wins the nomination?

Polls have shown that 90% of the black voters in Mississippi voted for Obama, while only 30% of whites voted for him. What does this mean? He's winning because he's black? Possibly. What else could it mean? Mississippi is steeped in years of racist tradition? Uh huh. Anything else? An important demographic for the democratic party is black people. Yep.
"In all honesty, do you think that if he were a white male, there would be a reason for the black community to get excited for a historic first?" Ferraro said. "Am I pointing out something that doesn't exist?"

What I've seen personally is people crossing party lines to vote for this man - blacks, whites, Puerto Ricans, and Samoans alike. It could very well be just rhetoric, but it's rhetoric that transcends the bounds of traditional politics. It transcends things like race and gender. It excites people in a good way. It makes them care and it makes them want to get involved.
Ferraro said she was not trying to diminish Obama's candidacy, and acknowledged up front that she would not have been the vice presidential nominee in 1984 if she had been a man.

If she's not trying to diminish his candidacy, why would she even go down this path? What else would her purpose be? She never mentions that this is a sign of change in this country…that race may not be the liability that it once was.

Ferraro's comments have excited me in a bad way. I'm angry. I'm angry because there's some truth in her statements. That Obama has gotten this far in part because he's black (but then there’s Vermont, Iowa, Maine, etc.), but it’s a liability for him in Pennsylvania. Let's flip it though. Hillary is a woman and she's running for President. Would she be able to do this if she were black? Would educated whites run out and vote for her? Would she inspire college students to believe in our political process? Probably not. If Hillary wasn't white, would she be where she is today? If she wasn’t white, would she be able to exploit race as a political tool in Pennsylvania?
"Sexism is a bigger problem,' Ferraro argued. 'It's OK to be sexist in some people's minds. It's not OK to be racist."
Apparently 30% of voters for both candidates felt that race was a deciding factor in choosing a candidate. Racism may not be socially acceptable, but it's alive and well. When was the last time large groups of people were rounded up because they possessed a certain type of genitalia? When was the last big rally of an organization sponsoring hate crimes against people of the opposite sex?

Not to say that sexism isn’t a problem, but it doesn’t seem to be what is keeping Hillary down. Being white and rich certainly isn’t hurting her either. I don’t see her complaining about that. I'm going to ask my mother if she thinks that being black or being a woman has been harder.

Verb 'n' Verb

Sunday, March 09, 2008
On another note ...

Have you noticed that all baby/toddler items you can purchase are named "Verb and Verb" (or the ever popular, Verb 'N' Verb). I suppose it's part of the FUD parenting ethos - if you are loaded up with Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about parenting you will buy anything regardless of cost to make sure you are doing the best possible thing for baby (warning, Margaret and John, do not succumb to this). Everything must be TWO things, or your baby will not learn, grow, play, whatever ....

Here's a list of just the things I have around my house at first glance:

Pack 'n' play
Peek and sqeak
kick and play
snap 'n' go
play and learn
play and grow
seal and go
sit and spin

What have I left out?

iPhones are for phones, not blogs

Yes, the iPhone is cool.

No, it does not make a good blog interface. Until you get a touch screen computer. The text is hard to read, and WHERE THE HECK IS THE NEW POST LINK???? Why do I have to go to my blogger home page to write this? My life is complicated enough already! Argghhh!


Thursday, March 06, 2008
Happy Anniversary, hon. I love you.

I'm dope on the floor and I'm magic on the mic.

Nuff Said.

Saturday's Weather

Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Fred and Valerie are getting married on Saturday! I remember our wedding, four years ago around this time - beautiful day, sunny, breezy...

A few minutes ago I started wondering what the weather will be like for this Saturday, so I went to the weather channel website. The report was concerning, so I called Oh Bee Juan to discuss. He looked up the weather as well, but was not concerned. Took us a few minutes to figure out why - apparently the weather in 22902 is going to be much nicer than in 22901!

Good thing the wedding is in 22903, which will be having weather much like 22902's.

One day God stopped over in Amsterdam

Monday, March 03, 2008

and created the Beertender. It takes those Heineken kegs that you get from the grocery store and makes them even more amazing.

Our anniversary is on Thursday and I believe the fourth anniversary is the frivolous, over-indulgent, binge-inducing, Dutch invention anniversary. Well, I think that's all I need to say about that.

I hear from other folks that the Beertender is amazing and everybody knows how much I love Dutch beer. I think it also doubles as a nanny. With that said, why is it that I love Heineken on some days and think that it tastes like <insert word meaning putrid or rank here> on others?

I'm sure that it will taste wonderful everyday with the Beertender serving it up.

We have a winner...

Saturday, February 23, 2008
We went through our wedding guest book, to see who was the closest on the "When will they have children?" question.

(Sorry, Robtastic, but you were a bit off with December 6, 2004).

The winner, with June 22, 2008, is George! My due date is August 21, so George was less than two months off (assuming, ha, that I have the kid on the actual due date). Most other people put that we'd have kids within 2 years, and a surprising number of people seemed to think I was knocked up at the wedding itself...


Sunday, February 17, 2008
The following story is a product of the statement, "The Army's definition of 'fun' is different from MY definition of 'fun'."

Today, I went to the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta. It is essentially a $15 advertisement where you watch movies about Coke, get bombarded with more Coke propaganda than you can shake a can at, taste different Coke products from around the world, and realize that we really do have most of the world's best soft drinks right here in good ole U. S. of A.

One of the places we visited in this World of Coke was called the Happiness Factory.

Well, last night, I visited one of Atlanta's After School Programs for Young Ladies in Need of Tuition Assistance - "The Cheetah" branch.

In any event after a night of assisting young ladies with their academic endeavours and an afternoon of a very long coke advertisement, I discovered, "Coca Cola's definition of a Happiness Factory" is definitely different from MY definition of a Happiness Factory.

By the way, I am also trying to understand why after paying $15 to visit The World of Coke where you get as much free Coke as you want and they give you a bottle of coke to take home with you, anyone would still buy a bottle of coke from a vending machine directly in front of the World of Coke for $1.25.

I've decided humans are stupid.

Where babies come from...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Where babies come from...
Originally uploaded by avpjack

Voting age?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I thought you had to be 18 to vote in the primaries ... but CNN's data breaks out a 17-29 age segment. What's up with that?

As promised, more on New Orleans...

Monday, January 28, 2008
First of all, the food was fantastic. Not cheap, but fantastic. We went to Palace Cafe, Mr. B's, Acme Oyster House, and Mulate's - all great.

Not so great? The weather. We got unlucky - it was mid-40s and raining for most of our trip. Pretty miserable.

Even worse? The Hilton New Orleans Riverside, and United Airlines. Let's begin at the beginning: we were flying United from Richmond to Dulles, then Dulles to New Orleans (for some reason, this was $200 cheaper than just flying on the same flights from Dulles to New Orleans). When we arrived at the Richmond airport, we found out that our first flight was delayed, so we wouldn't make the connection. Instead, they put us on an American flight that connected in St. Louis...which would've been fine, except the second flight was delayed. In the end, we got to New Orleans about 4 hours late...

...which would be no big deal, except that the Hilton Riverside had run out of non-smoking rooms, because they were overbooked. The woman at the desk even tried to convince me that I had actually booked a smoking room, despite the fact that I had my reservation confirmation printout showing "Non-smoking King Confirmed." I explained to her that I could not sleep in a smoking room, that I have migraines and cigarette smoke is one of the triggers. She went back to talk to her manager, and returned with a solution: 50% off the room rate!

Sigh. I explained that a discount did not solve my problem - in fact, since my employer was paying for the hotel, I didn't care how much it cost, I just had to sleep in a nonsmoking room. I asked to speak to her manager. When I finally spoke to the manager, Pat, about 20 minutes later, she did not apologize. She was not nice, or helpful, or sorry. She informed me that they were overbooked and it's first-come, first-served (despite the fact that they've had my money for two months). I did let her know - not nicely at this point - that their being overbooked was not my problem. Then, finally, she offered to put us on a rollaway bed in the parlor room of a suite (the living room, basically).

Pat did not offer us anything to make this right, other than the useless 50% off. When I called their customer care line the next morning, hoping to talk to someone more useful, they connected Pat. After much difficulty, I finally spoke to someone who offered us a free breakfast and an apology. I guess that's something.

The next day they said they could switch us to a regular nonsmoking room (you want two double beds, right? Sigh.), just stop by between noon and 3:00. The new room, they assured us, was really nice, a really nice room. So imagine our disappointment at 4:00 - when the room was finally ready - to find that it wasn't a really nice room. I guess maybe if you've never stayed anywhere but a Motel 6, it might be, but otherwise....ugh. The carpet in the 16th floor hallway looked like it had been flooded by Katrina...last week. The mirror frame in the bathroom was peeling and cracked. The laminate bathroom counter was ugly and the sink had a chipped chrome faucet. The walls were paper-thin, so we could hear every word spoken in the room next door. The minifridge they delivered REEKED and made everything in it smell bad.

But, finally, we left! Our return flight to Dulles was nice and uneventful. We arrived at Dulles airport around 11:00am, so we had plenty of time to make our connection (which, according to our boarding passes, would board at 12:18 and leave at 12:38). We sat down at Five Guys, about 15 feet away from our gate, and had lunch. We heard lots of announcements, including other flights leaving from our gate. At 12:20, we walked over and heard the person at the desk say "Last call boarding to Richmond" (aloud, not on the PA).

What? Last call?

We hurried up and handed them our boarding passes - and were greeted by the woman with "Where have you been? We've been boarding for a while! We've been paging you!" I apologized, and said that we'd been right there at Five Guys and hadn't heard anything. "You can't hear from there! You have to wait at the gate! You can't hear any announcments from there, and you can't wait there!"

Well, now I wasn't sorry. I explained that we'd heard lots of announcements, just none for us. She held our boarding passes so that she could continue: "No, you can't hear our announcments from there, you can't wait over there, we've been waiting for you, we were going to leave!" I can't convey this with typing, but her tone - you'd think I'd personally beaten up her grandmother or something. I have never been spoken to as rudely and angrily by any employee of any company, ever. I was furious. The calmest reponse I could manage - to avoid being detained and not allowed on the flight - was to take out my cell phone, look at the time (12:20), and say "I sure hope you wouldn't leave 20 minutes early without 5 of your passengers" and then keep walking. For God's sake, we WERE listening, and we arrived at the gate at the scheduled boarding time.

So...I'm glad to be home. I've written to United about that woman, but don't expect a response. It doesn't really matter, because I won't ever fly United again.

Sorry for the long rant. The food was really good, though.

New Orleans

Saturday, January 26, 2008
To sum up, although there will be more later: &#@$ United Airlines, and &#@$ the Hilton Riverside Hotel.

Good food, though.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Frostette the Snowwoman
Originally uploaded by avpjack
Nuff said.

Apple Juice Life Lessons

Monday, January 14, 2008
An interesting consequence of having extended family help around the house: stuff gets done differently, and your kids notice. Davis, at three years old, spends a lot of his time learning about how the world works, where things belong, and the right way for everything to be. He has discovered how to ask "why." He has not discovered how to stop.

Davis enjoys apple juice. He has recently taken to calling it ape-l juice, and delights in the notion that one must squeeze an ape to produce it. Since a single cup of AJ could provide Davis with more than 100% of his daily sugar intake, Mrs. Z and I dilute it to 50% strength. Still, he goes through a lot of it, so we buy it in the largest size available at the grocery store, which is roughly a barrel. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but I think I saw Davis doing AJ keg stands the other day while his infant sister chanted "Chug! Chug! Chug!"

But I digress.

The AJ keg is difficult to pour in small amounts, so for months we kept a smaller half-gallon AJ container in the fridge, filling it halfway with straight AJ and then topping it off with water. That would keep us going for a few days, and then we'd wash it, refill it, and repeat.

This system went fine for a while, and then Sara was born, and Grandmother came to visit for a week. Grandmother was an enormous help, and kept Mrs. Z and I sane by doing everything that needed doing while we sat on the veranda and sipped juleps. (You missed a spot there, Grandmother.) Grandmother reached the end of the half-gallon apel juice container and, having recently discovered the location of our recycling bins, recycled the container. Like a sane person.

An hour or two later, I was in the kitchen filling a Davis-sized order for juice, and could not find the AJ container. After brief consultation with Grandmother and a short period of mourning for the lost bottle, I wrestled with the keg and poured half a small-sized cup of apple juice.

The apple juice container now unavailable, Grandmother had a brilliant idea: premixed, diluted apple juice doesn't have to be in a container marked "Apple Juice;" any container will do. So that's how, Saturday afternoon, I would up pouring Davis a cup of apple juice from a bottle clearly labeled, "Simply Orange." Of course, Davis noticed the change:

"May I have some apel juice, pwease?" (Davis has trouble with "l" and "r.")
"Yes, you may." [Removes OJ container from refrigerator.]
"What's dat?" (He's not so good with "th," either.)
"It's apple juice."
"No, no, no — it's owange juice!"
"It's apple juice, but it's in an orange juice container."
"But, but, but ... " [Splutters.]

Here I paused. Was I really about to say what I was about to say?

"Davis, listen to me. I know the container says orange juice, but this is apple juice. It's not the container that matters. It's what's on the inside that counts."

I'm not sure what lesson I imparted there, but I can think of three possibilities:
1. What's on the outside and what's on the inside are two different things, so you can't judge the inside by how the outside looks.
2. You can't trust what authority figures say something is; you have to experience it yourself to really understand it.
3. Apple juice is yummy, and no one gives a crap what the bottle looks like.

I hope he gets at least some measure of all three.

I love my car like a pet, but...

Thursday, January 10, 2008
the weirdest stuff happens to it. Last month, we noticed that the BMW logo had worn off of the front of the car. "Not a big deal," I thought. "It's just a sticker." It's a $35 sticker attached to a piece of metal. Why can't I just replace the sticker?

The car keeps telling me that I need to check my coolant level. There's no coolant leak and it hasn't been that long since it was serviced. After a brief googling of "e39 'check coolant level'," I learned that it's probably a sensor gone bad and not a real coolant issue.
I'll pile this one on top of:Max conquers Germany while playing with the new toy (by avpjack)

  • new brakes
  • new tires
  • new battery
  • broken cup holder
  • the Inspection 2 service
  • a new headlight
  • "check fog lamps"
  • and my favorite, "washer fluid low."

If I didn't like to drive it as much as I do, I'd hate it. This is why warranties are nice.

Happy Zeroth Birthday, Sara!

Monday, January 07, 2008
Pictures of Sara Patricia are now online.

Note the crazy spelling: we're leaving off the aitch.

An Announcement

I know my brother-in-law can't call EVERYONE, so I just want to say: Welcome to the world, Sara Patricia!

My sister had a healthy baby girl this morning at 6:12 AM. She's 7 lbs, 14 oz, and 19 inches long. I'm sure there will be pictures soon...

Unusually Warm Weather We're Not Having ...

Friday, January 04, 2008

From the Washington Post ACCUWEATHER FORCAST, which despite all evidence to the contrary, I can only assume means "accurate weather" forcast. I'm sure my cat will be happy to know that despite the fact that her water bowl is a frozen solid block of ice, the low tonight will only be 66.

U.S.-Lakota Relations

Wednesday, January 02, 2008
If you've been living under a rock, or just preoccupied with the holidays, you may have missed the news that a portion of the United States in the middle of the country is no longer part of the country. To catch up, start by remembering your U.S. history — in particular the parts of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries where invading hordes of syphilitic, pox-ridden Europeans ran the indigenous peoples of North America off of their native lands and destroyed the basis of a developing economy. For the Lakota Sioux nation, a seminal event in the history of American aggression was the December 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, in which American Cavalrymen killed at least 150 Lakota Sioux, 62 of the women and children. By the mid-20th century, indigenous government of all tribes had been restricted by treaty and acts of Congress to minimal, often undesirable, tracts of land dispersed throughout the country in the reservation system.

Flash forward to February 1973, when members of the American Indian Movement occupied the town of Wounded Knee, and the United States laid a 71-day siege that ended more or less peacefully, but not without casualties. AIM leadership was protesting then-current president Dick Smith of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, whom they claimed was more closely aligned with the interests of the United States than the Lakota Nation. Then, last month, an AIM-led political coalition announced the Lakota withdrawal from all treaties with the United States and an intent to establish a new Lakota nation which would issue its own passports and seek diplomatic ties with foreign governments. This action cuts a hole in the northern part of mid-west America.

The Oglala Lakota face serious problems: the vast majority (more than 95%, by some estimates) of the population on the reservation have incomes below the poverty line, and unemployment is rampant; medical care is scarce, but the Lakota have higher than average rates of diabetes, obesity, and alcoholism; life expectancy on the Pine Ridge reservation is 48 years for men, 52 years for women. These are overwhelming crises which scream for intervention, and it is easy to think of the Lakota in only those terms; it is easy to think to oneself, "Oh, those people. They're poor, and life is hard for them." One often follows that sentiment with the subtly racist, "they're going to need our help if they're going to get better."

Indeed, recent events have brought these thoughts to the forefront. Here's an excerpt from a column in the Edmonton Sun:
Among them [i.e., conditions justifying secession from treaties] are high mortality rates among Lakota, skyrocketing drug and alcohol abuse, high rates of incarceration, disturbing disease rates, shameful poverty, low rates of housing, high unemployment and, finally, threatened culture.

These are all serious issues that need to be addressed.

The problem is sovereignty is not the answer and the American government is not responsible for many of the problems, although colonialism likely created the conditions. In fact, separation might exacerbate them. Just as in Canada, a sudden withdrawal of federal assistance to indigenous communities would make many social problems worse.

And later:
Once individuals are empowered, they can bring respect and dignity back to their families and communities.

While the author isn't entirely wrong, he rather misses the point about cultural poverty that Ruby Payne, in her book "A Framework for Understanding Poverty," makes clear: poverty is relative, and those in generational poverty must reject cultural norms and give up, at least temporarily, their relationships in favor of wealth building. This columnist suggests tacitly that the poor in Pine Ridge lack respect and dignity, which tells us something about the columnist. To the extent that this columnist is speaking from a middle-class cultural background, it tells us something of the middle class, as well.

The problems facing those living in Pine Ridge arose over the course of centuries, and likely won't be resolved in anything less than several generations. Importantly, although the United States helped create the conditions that caused the long-lasting economic depression among indigenous North Americans, these problems can't be solved by unilateral U.S. action, nor is it clear that U.S. help will ever be fully accepted. Centuries of history have taught them to fear Americans, even bearing gifts.

Instead, we should do what we should have done centuries ago, and start treating the Lakota and other native American nations as truly sovereign, independent nations. It is true that the U.S. and Lakota nations are not, and likely will never be, true equals; the U.S. has a larger population, wealthier economy, superior military, and far greater global political presence. However, these same things could be said of the comparison between the U.S. and Viet Nam, the U.S. and Belgium; the U.S. and Ecuador; the U.S. and Israel; the U.S. and Kenya. This dignity and respect we think is missing in the Lakota is, in reality, missing only in our view of the Lakota, and will be restored when we acknowledge the respect and dignity the Lakota deserved long before the United States was born.