Thursday, December 31, 2009

So, to sum up

Well, here it is the last day of the last (kinda) single digit year in this century.  Time for a wrap up, eh?

Do you like round (especially even) numbers?  I really do.  So much so that I'll "do things" just to make things come out even. Like when I buy canned goods.  I'll usually get two or four of something - but never three.  If I arbitrarily needed to make something a measured size, I'd cut it to an even number of units - even though I know the units themselves are entirely arbitrary.  I mean really, who would cut a board 59 inches long when you could have cut it 60 inches long?  Seriously.

For this dorky reason, sometimes I think that I'll stop writing this blog on some even numbered post.  (This is 498.)  But of course, I'd never stop at a less than 100 mark -- so in this case the only danger is that I'd stop at 500.  OTOH, (on the other hand) I'm sure that I'd regret stopping and start again, especially since I'm aware how much pain it would cause you, my gentle readers, if I were to stop.  So your stuck with this pretty much until I'm on my death bed.  Sorry in advance to make you have to read all that.

This year brought a lot of changes at work.  My manager was let go at the beginning of Fall, even though we were making our production numbers and meeting other targets.  There was some scapegoating about her termination that had to do with field failures, which were actually latent design and field repair issues.  Ultimately, the real reason for her leaving was financial.  Her compensation increased overhead which reduced the profit margin, and becoming profitable is paramount.  So she "had to" go.  Decisions of this sort are never clear-cut and always involve a lot of intangible factors.  She and the new management (the founders were let go by the board (venture capital investors) some time ago) never got along.  This was a huge factor in the action, and the fellow that took over her functional responsibilities is someone with whom she was particularly in conflict with.

I felt angry about it, as did a lot of my coworkers who all ultimately reported to her.  Our feelings were (politely and frankly) acknowledged by the CEO.  We were all (about 20 of us) loyal to her, and then she was let go and we all suddenly reported to her former rival, a fellow that we did not respect for his expert powers (his ability to run Operations), just for his legitimate power (his ability to fire us).  So we all did what we could to make the best of a difficult situation.  Everyone (I broadly assume) has had to accept things they didn't like in order to maintain group cohesiveness.  In my role as a manager, I need to foster group cohesion, even if I'm feeling group tension that I cannot directly control.  Hey, if it was easy they wouldn't pay me.

During this transition period, all of us who had reported directly to my old manager now reported directly to the new fellow.  This was hard for me because the new guy was new at operations, unlike the person he was replacing who had been in operations for three + decades, and me who has been in operations for three decades.  We didn't always agree.  And he is the sort of fellow that really wants people to agree with him.  At a few points I wasn't sure I could continue working there.

We were all informed (at what I call in my internal monologue "the hatchet meeting") that our new boss would be re-evaluating the whole reporting structure at the end of the year, and that we needed to "step up" to demonstrate where we fit into the company.  That was about three months ago.  A few weeks ago, four other people were laid off, again for overhead reduction reasons.  At that meeting, our new reporting structure was announced.  Now I report to a former peer of mine, a very worthy fellow.  I'm as pleased with this outcome as I think I could have been in the whole situation.

In reward and recognition of my abilities and accomplishments I have also been granted a promotion to Director (as of a few weeks ago) and have recently moved from a cubicle to a private office.  I have to say that I am honored.  The office doesn't totally make up for all of the personnel unhappiness, but it is a recognition of the high expectations that I hope to fulfill.  It is a worthy challenge.  I look forward at 2010.

But what about the fun stuff, you ask?  Well, yeah there was a lot of fun stuff too.  As you recall we had the house painted, OOoOoOoooOoooOOOOOOooo.  We still like it a lot.  We had all that renfaire fun that you all read about.  And then there was the Dickens Fair (w00t!) and all that fun.  We entertained quite a few guests here at the casa and had lots of laughs.  We vacationed at Lake Tahoe, and looked at houses there.  Our kiddies all got a bit older (though Sharon and I no longer age at all) and they continue to progress through school and become more recognizable as the adults they will ultimately become.  We are proud of them.

Last but not least, I maintained this very impressive silly blog (which I started on a whim) for another year, and hopefully entertained you, and you, and you, and you too.  See you next year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The hobby that ate my world

So I have this little hobby called Dickens Fair.  It is about (at least) twice as much fun as Renaissance faires.  Maybe ten times as fun.  And it is far more concentrated.  Instead of taking several months to have nine or eleven fair days - it only takes a month.  So there is this period where for about six weeks, I don't see my house in full daylight.

So the pool gets leafy ('cause it's Fall) and essentially nothing but work ($) and fair get done.  Somehow I have to slot in some Christmas shopping.  There are no projects done.  It takes all of my will to get enough sleep that I don't get a full blown cold (I'm writing this with a sore throat) and I feel like I've been hit by a full logging truck.

The weeks flow into one continuous series of mornings that start with an alarm clock and a routine that is all planned out in advance.  No sleeping in, or impromptu anything.  It's relentless.  It's exhausting.  My feet hurt. Blah blah blah blah.

But lemme tell you, I wouldn't miss it for anything.

Every day is Christmas Eve.  It is an all-day party with several hundred friends.  It has its own smells and sounds.  There are countless rituals.  There's flirting and compliments.  (There's even outright nudity!)  There's pretending and dress up.  There is delight in the eyes of hundreds of strangers when you pointedly "Happy Christmas" them.  There is dancing and laughter.  There are drinks and jokes.  There are several hundred new people to meet.  There is an opportunity to see so many things that you can't see them all.  There is a continuous web of new friendships and experience that is unlike anything else I've experienced.

Our show (the whole incredible thing) is beloved by thousands, praised all around, and better than anything like it by all accounts.  There is an assortment of talent and commitment that always amazes me.  It is much the same but totally fresh each time.

When it ends, I count the days until it starts again.  It never lasts long enough or comes too soon.

I love it.  You should come and enjoy it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Busy beavers

We put up the most awesome Xmas lights ever.  They are super sized lights that look like the little ones that go on the tree but they are about a foot long overall.  When I say we put them up, I mean I did after Sharon thought of the the idea, searched for them online, bought them, and waited most of the year until it was time.  The only problem with waiting that long is that Dickens fair has started and I am not home when the sun is up or when it is more than 45 degrees outside.  So the deed was done in the dark and cold.  But it looks cool.

I bet you want a picture, right?  Of course you do.

Holy moly it's cold out there, people!  The things I do for you.  Sheesh.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Visit From Mr Dickens

'Twas the night before Dickens, when all through the house
Not a creature was idle, not even a mouse.
The costumes were hung by the front door with care,
I must’ve forgot something, I just don’t know where.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
All of their workshops, passed right through their heads.
And mamma in her bonnet, and I in my cap,
Kinda’ wished we’d settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the sewing table to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new NFP
Showed the lustre of youth to my untrammeled glee,
When, what to my wandering eyes should appear,
But a ginormous cow shed, and six kinds of beer,

With a little old Solum, so witty and snark,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Mark.
More rapid than eagles his directors they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Rydell! now, Robin! now, Therese and Diana!
On, Gwendolyn! on Bob! on, Peter and Anna!
To the top of the Geneva! to the top of the stall!
Now entertain! entertain! entertain all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the Cow Palace the directors they flew,
With the place full of Christmas, and Cat Taylor too.

And then with a smile, I heard in the line
The excitement of patrons, trav’ling back into time.
As I put on my top hat, and walked down the lane
With carols behind him, St. Robert, he came

He was dressed all in black, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all polished, no ashes or soot;
A bundle of stories he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a writer, and really no hack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his stories how clever!
His prose was so florid – it went on forever!
His characters vivid, from the bad to the good,
He’d made an example of all in the ‘hood;

The quill of a pen held tight in his hand,
And the prose it encircled his head like a band;
He had a kind face and a little round penny,
(That he never looked at since its years were too many.)

He was clever and loquacious, a writer indeed,
And I laughed as I listened, and promised to read;
He spoke many words, but never too fast,
And filled all his stories with characters to last.

And laying his finger upon a small rose,
Up from the table at the Green Man he rose;
He sprang to his streets, to his team gave a wink,
They decided to go to the pub for a drink!

But I heard him exclaim, ere he strolled out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

(Special thanks to Sharon for her help with this.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Folk Wisdom

LONG ago, I sang folk songs.  A lot of them.  I used to be able to play guitar and actually make some accompaniment to my singing.  They weren't the popular songs on the radio, I got them because they were easy pieces to learn for folk guitar, and my dad encouraged me to come along with him and learn folk guitar.  Looking back on it, it was some of the best times I spent with him.  It was just us, though there were the others in the class and the instructor.  I had dad mostly to myself and we were doing something that we both enjoyed a great deal, singing.  Neither of us were ever virtuosos with the guitar, but we were better than average singers. (It's my blog, I can take credit like that. mkay?)  At the moment, all I have is my dad's guitar sitting in my closet where it's been for a decade or so.  I have, apparently, no interest in playing guitar.  I still sing a lot though.

Sometimes I just sing a little song to myself while I'm working on something.  I knew lots of songs but the one that comes back most often is Tom Dooley.  Now Tom was a fellow that wound up on the wrong end of the law in 1866, or so the song goes.  Let's see if my memory is any good on this.
Hang down your head Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head Tom Dooley
Poor boy you're bound to die

This time tomorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Down in the Lonesome Valley
Hangin' from a white oak tree
Now, that's a sad song if I EVER heard one, Tom facing impending death on the gallows and all, but I really like that tune and the way that the chorus and verses are sung from two perspectives.

Of course, there is a Wikipedia article on the song.

I like another song a great deal.  It isn't nearly as famous but it is very dear to me and I sing it often.  My grandfather wrote it and had it recorded in the 40's.  It's called, You Never Can Tell The Depth Of A Well.

Everybody wants to write a love song
All about the moon and stars above
I just have a thought for you to pass along
Before you build that dream house for the one you love...

You never can tell
The depth of a well
By the handle on the pump
You never can see the height of a tree
By the bark upon the stump
You go to town
To shop around
You walk into a store
You never can say the price you will pay
By the sign upon the door

You fellows in a hurry
To call some girl your own
You shouldn't oughta hurry
Cause you never can win when trouble begins
Take my advice
Consider twice
Before you take that jump
You never can tell
The depth of a well
By the handle on the pump

[Accordion solo]
Now that little song packs in a lot of stuff.  Let's just see...
Don't get all moony.
Don't make your judgments about a mate on superficial qualities.
Don't rush into marriage

I really like that song.  I agree with it.  I like the word play.  It rhymes like songs don't anymore.  It is a crooner sort of song and I'm a crooner at heart.
Bob, so what?
Well my point (Hey, stop laughing. I make points sometimes.) is that those songs made, in a big way, an impression on me when I was a teenager.  They became a part of me that I incorporated, that is to say they literally became part of me.  They carry me through the day sometimes, much more than many of the songs I listened to a lot more in that time.  My father and grandfather brought me those songs, and they are a small part of what makes me, me.

I am the sum of all of my thoughts up til the present moment.  Over the years I've summed a lot of thoughts.  I grow richer every day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Got wood?

493 posts, just seven more to go till the magic 500.  Who knows what'll happen then!!

So, a close friend of mine lost her father to cancer a couple of weeks ago.  His death wasn't unexpected, but he went out with a bang.  Literally.  Instead of waiting for the cancer to kill him, he shot himself in the chest.  He, apparently, had plenty of guns from which to choose from.  He chose one that a friend had given him.

So after I heard this story in person from my friend, I was - like you probably are - shocked.  But my friend, was oddly not that surprised that pop had done this.  She knew him a whole lot better than I.  To her, his choice wasn't that out of line.

So this man I never knew had raised my friend.  And she is a very thoughtful person, someone that I associate with art, and depth of character.  And I have never once known her to be shallow or superficial.  Yeah, she has human faults too, but really now, she's damn good people. 

She asked me over to her father's house to help her sort through his tools.  He had told her that he wanted them to go to another craftsman.  It was humbling.  In honor of her father's wishes, she wanted me to have what I thought I could put to use.  His workshop was neat and full of interesting bits of stuff.  All the shelves and the workbench top were routed smooth.  He had very old tools and new ones too.

Here were the well-used and cherished tools of another man.  The workbench he built himself for his own tastes and whims.  All the little bits of things he had saved and his partially built projects.  Supplies in little tins.  Boxes of screws.  All of it left behind. My first thought was, I wish I'd known him.

I think I may have met the man once, and that would have been in passing at an event.  So I didn't know him.

Now that I finally got a chance to meet her father through his tools, I think I like the fellow.  Rest in peace.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We all feel like that sometimes

The best part of humanity is that, for all of our differences, we share a lot in common.  We all feel the same emotions, our lives follow very similar paths of childhood, adulthood, and old age.  We gain wisdom as we experience the world, and we come to realize our own mortality more clearly the closer it gets.

We all get a cold now and then, that's why it's called "common".  I have one now, it seems.  We all (mostly) like babies.  We all dislike pain and suffering and death.  We all like delicious food, and cool clear water.  Sunshine is quite popular, as is warmth in general.

We all want control of our own lives, the best for our children, and fair and honest treatment from our fellow man. We all do good and bad things, we are all imperfect and mortal.

People are people the world over.  Sometimes they would rather you forget that and focus on their special difference. 

My unsolicited advice is, don't.  Treat them all the same.  I think it works better that way.

Friday, October 09, 2009

You can't handle the truth

Don't you just love it?

I mean, your work.  Is it exciting?  Do you get a charge out of what you do and how goddamn good you are at it?  Do other people's eyes just glaze over when you start into the details--about every little thing that just makes you jump for joy?  Do people tell you you are "the Dennis Miller of Manufacturing" or of whatever it is you do?  Do you get so wrapped up in the minutiae of the work and all of the intricacies of it that sometimes you get a little annoying about it.

Yeah.  Me too.

If the wise and benevolent Squirrel (praise be his name) could fix that, I'd appreciate it.  (I stole this last line from a comment on

Friday, October 02, 2009

Well, it IS Friday after all

What a work week.

Saturday, one fellow and I came in to do some final assembly to ensure that we had a particular machine ready to ship, even though we all but certain there was no pending order for it.  However, this needed to be done for appearances.  I was supportive, though I did not agree that this was smart.

Monday, I learned that my best friend at work, Charles aka Six-Pack, is taking an exciting position at a large pharmaceutical company and relocating to the East coast.  Bummer.  Now I don't have somebody who I can actually confide in.  WW, please come work with me!  We don't have a job for you but I need you anyway.

Tuesday, my boss that I have great respect for and thoroughly enjoyed working for lets me in on the news that the following day would be her last one there, and not by her choice.  So, no going away celebration for her retirement.  No opportunity for everyone who liked and respected her to thank her for everything she had done for all of us, like about 25 of us who are directly affected by her departure.  At least it brought an end to her difficult relationship with her boss and especially with the fellow who is now, that's right, my boss.

Except on Wednesday, it was her last day, and there was an awkward and difficult air in the place as, on the last day of the quarter, with sales off of plan (thanks, worldwide economic mess), and her packing up her office mid-day, we (about 18 of us) received a meeting notice to discuss the changes.  Except it was for 3 PM the following day, and at that point I wasn't allowed to know to whom I would be reporting, even though I asked directly.  I found that pretty annoying.

Wednesday evening I entertained my departing friend here at Casa De Collier with a Bobtini and a few laughs.  We also had a few handfuls of cashew pieces as I recall.

So Thursday we had a big ole going away lunch for Six-Pack (unlike the non-celebration for my boss) and I had until 3 PM to speculate on my eventual reporting structure.  Good times. 

At the appointed hour we all gathered to hear the CEO explain why he had taken such a painful action.  He had several reasons, which mostly made sense but only diminished the sense of loss a little.  I have to give him credit for acknowledging how difficult and unhappy the situation was.  He had a room full of pretty unhappy people.  I didn't agree with everything said but I certainly didn't envy him.  Nobody had anything to ask him at the end of his talk.  It was painfully silent.  He left.

Then my new boss had a talk with all of us, acknowledged how difficult it was to be in this situation, and asked us all to work together to craft a more effective company.  It went better than I had hoped, and though I miss my old boss greatly I can't take a pass on the continued opportunity.

Today was a whirlwind of activity as I am trying to provide some leadership and encouragement to everyone after my boss's sudden departure, and help fill in for my colleague who has a half dozen people reporting to him and is out for ten days. (right after his boss was shown the door)

So I had lunch with Charles one last time, said goodbye, and worked on some important stuff til about 5:32:04 PM.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Post 489 and counting

When your babies get to a certain age you tell them to bathe more often, think about teaching them to drive, and you buy them a razor so they do not resemble their hairy father (as much).  Today, the last round of all of this has finally come to pass for me.

I'm (almost 100% positively) not having any more children.  As 'they' say, "My work here is done."  Well, mostly.  Since the whole point of being a parent is to silently and elegantly make yourself redundant, while at the same time teaching 'the issue of your marriage' to be pleasant productive citizens who think for themselves.  I think, for the most part, that I (we actually, since it is a team sport) have done rather well.

I am--prepare to be shocked--really rather proud of my children.  They are thoughtful.  They are polite.  They are respectful.  Now, I don't mean that they are always that way to me or the missus, just to other people.

I don't actually need them to be all that to me.  I expect them to use me as a sounding board for growing up and becoming an adult.  I'll tell them where I think they went wrong.  If they fail to be polite to me, I am more than willing to forgive them.  Parents are, in my opinion, like a sparring partner.  You can hit them (figuratively) and they'll tell you when you blow it; no hard feelings.

Is it fun to be a parent?  Yeah.  Is it hard to be a parent?  It is (usually) easy to start, and hard to stick with the program 'til the end.  Is it worth it?  Considering that you are making several shiny adults out of stuff you have laying around anyway, it certainly is.  Even with all the elbow grease.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Royal Flush II

Only 12 more posts after this to make it to 500.  Maybe I'll make it by Xmas.

So, there was a time long ago when I never thought about sewer lines.  This was like, 1970 or so.  After that, we had A Problem at the family home there and we (well, Dad) had to dig up the sewer line and replace it.  I think he had some help, maybe from Grandpa, but it was a really hard job.  And to top that off, the back porch and the lawn were never really the same after that.  It pretty much left a scar.

You never forget that smell of a sewer.  It isn't exactly the smell you expect, my gentle reader, but it is distinct.

Fast forward to just about 1:10 AM a week ago.  We were now back from getting everything set up at Ardenwood for the Renaissance Faire, and busily getting all of our personal stuff ready to go.  For hours.  It always seems to take way too long.  We had hot tubbed, and packed up and repaired a chair and, and, and.

And then I needed to go.  So I went.  Then came an, "Uh oh." from the other bathroom.  It seems the convenience wasn't draining; in a somewhat inconvenient manner.  'No worries', I think.  Out with the handy plunger.  This does the trick 99 out of 100 times.

This was That One Time.  So, the next step is to get one of those water jet do-hickeys that goes on the garden hose.  That goes down the clean-out and into the main drain line and forces the clog downstream under pressure.  Works like a charm.

Except for this time.  Speaking of time, it was now about 1:45.  AM.  And we were getting up at 6:30 (HA!) to head out for the faire.  Not so fast, buddy.

So I break down and Call A Professional.  Actually about three of them.  "We can be there at 8 AM".  "We can be there at 7 or 8."  "We can send a technician now." (Rescue Rooter)  They also insisted that they COULD NOT TELL ME THE (big state secret) PRICE until the technician was there.  What a load of crap.  Of course this is possible - give me the minimum charge for the estimated hour of service.  The tech did within five minutes, after asking me about three questions that I had already explained on the phone.

So the tech called us back in a few minutes after we got off the phone.  He could be there in an hour.  That would be about 3 AM. :-)  So I took out my contact lenses and tried to get some sleep since I was gonna be on my feet all day.  Sharon and I joked that it could be worse, it could be raining.

3 AM comes with a knock at the door.  The technician and I get familiar with the situation around the clean-out.  He gives me the estimate.  $354.  It could be worse.

It starts to rain.

I get a garden umbrella and a flood light.  The tech gets his rain coat and a very substantial power snake unit out of the van.  It is heavy enough that the van has a power lift to get it in and out.

The lightning and thunder starts.

The cable is prepared and fed into the watery abyss.  The tech says the only thing that could go wrong is if the cable goes the wrong way, up into the house plumbing - which could be "bad".  Since the clean-out pipe is full of "water", we can't really see which way the cable is headed.

LOTS of cable goes into the pipe.  Like 80 feet or so.  Much farther than it is from the clean-out to the city sewer under the street.  The tech asks me ominous questions about how far it is to the bathrooms inside the house (about 5 feet), and how the house is plumbed...

"Honey, there is a weird growling noise in the kitchen!"

Cue more lightning and rain.

On investigation, the cable has in fact traveled the wrong way and followed the drain line that comes from the opposite end of the house (90 feet) and the 2-1/2 inch flexible cutter head is scraping clean the inside of the 2" drain line.  The dog is confused by this weird noise and only comes out from under the desk to bark at the thunder.  The wayward cable is reeled in.  The grumbling technician gets a shop vac out.

"I have an idea." he says.  A few minutes later he has the "water" out of the clean-out line, THEN asks me where he should dump it.  It start to rain a little harder and more often for greater poignancy.

So NOW (3:40 AM) we can see the bottom of the clean-out and which way the cable is headed.  Finally, it looks like we might succeed.

The cable goes about a foot before it tangles on "something" the tech explains.  Out comes the cable.  The 2-1/2 inch cutter is exchanged for the smaller one... Victory is ours!

The cable jams about one foot in.

The tech patiently tells me how the best way to fix this is to (simply) dig up the tee connection at the end of the clean-out pipe and put in a proper "sanitary tee" which has a sweeping bend from one pipe into the next, and then cable the line again.  It's pretty clear this isn't in the scope of work he can do at 3:50 AM.  He packs up his gear and gives me a receipt.  And leaves.  At 4 AM.

So, in a last desperate act, I try the water jet thing again.  It is very hard to get round the corner in the pipe but eventually I am able to make it seal.  And then I flush out the line for a minute or so.  Either I have burst the line and irrigated around it or it is clear.  Out comes the hose.

Toilets are flushed as I watch the "water" rush on by at the bottom of the pipe.  It worked!  Sharon jokes that, "The blog post almost writes itself."  Sorry.  No pictures.  You'll thank me.

I hit the pillow at 4:20 or so.  The dog continues to bark at the occasional thunder for another half hour.  6:45 came WAY too soon.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Royal Flush

How did it get to be September already?  I mean really.  Sheesh.

We went on a lovely bike ride today.  Than we made plans on what the hell to do with our house next.  Or rather, we discussed what to do next.  We need to do something.  Unfinished projects loom.

The garage, however, is off of the death-watch list.  A full day of cleaning revealed a workbench that had been covered with crap for a year plus, and some re-organizing helped out with some voluminous crap that has been stored here by friends.  But that stuff still has to leave, soon.

Recently helping friends move has motivated us to get rid of things we have collected that we only marginally need or want crap.  For example, I have a twenty volume set of books called "The Book Of Knowledge, A Child's Encyclopedia" that was complied in 1922.  My set is from 1927.  I have not read these 20 volumes except to open it and skim them.  It is about the quality level of Wikipedia, only from a 1922 American viewpoint.  I got the books from my grandfather's effects as he was moving out of his home about 20 years ago.  Do not want.

I'm thinking Craigslist. About 100 listings ought to do it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

At last, wherein I play catch-up

So, super-busy Bob has been neglecting his gentle readers. Sorry about that there. Let's go over the important crap.

So we got back from the Lake Tahoe trip after seeing this tiny car on a trailer......and eventually did all the laundry. After lots of mostly lounging around, you'd think that all we had was a few items. Not so much.

Then I got back to work the next day.

You would think that things would just go along without me and be more or less like they had been for the many weeks prior to my blissful vacation. Not so much. In a technical sense, things went kerflooie. In a schedule sense things went fizzle. Um, I had PLENTY to work on when I got back.

First up there was the instrument that reluctantly gave up its secrets (over a two-week period) about what was making it fail in all those novel ways. We mostly got to the bottom of things, though there is still some actual proving left to do before we can Make Changes.

Then there were all of the other instruments that have very reluctantly come clean about their foibles. We have been beset, it would seem, by a roomful of cranky gear. There is nothing like being stumped for a couple of weeks straight by a series of "identical" boxes with unique and new problems to disabuse you of the fantasy of real mastery of the box.

It is pretty draining mentally so my writing skills have been limited to updating my Facebook status. Also there was the trying of the "Club" brand martini in a can. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Not even the dog liked it.

Oh, and then a friend of mine up and died. He wasn't a close friend but it still affected me quite a bit. It made me think even more about my mortality than usual. When you are more than a few decades old, life seems more finite than not, even if you still have a few decades to go. Hmmm.

In the middle there we attended a memorial for Sharon's elderly Godmother. At first I was pretty cool on attending but I'm glad I went. It helped me put my thoughts about the departed in some perspective. In the eulogizing, one of the children made us all aware of his mom's little habits that we might have overlooked. She always gave people TicTac candies. So they handed out TicTac packages to everyone and reminded us to think of her each time we had one, and to offer people TicTacs. It really helped.

Then another friend of the family died. He was suffering so it was a relief for him and his family. Still, I knew him at a distance for a long time and now, well he's not there anymore.

To top off all of this death, we had a picnic. A dress up in upper-class Victorian costume and drink champagne and go boating on Stowe Lake picnic. It really was grand. See:
We were all (like thirty of us) all dressed up and hanging out on the lawn playing croquet. People in mundane clothes were all stopping and gawking and stuff. Many of them asked if they could take pictures of us and of course we obliged. How could we refuse - we looked fabulous.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

69 Kinds of Fun

When Tahoe posted all these signs that mark each mile clockwise around the lake starting with Tahoe City, the upshot was that the 69 sign was routinely stolen. Who knows why. :-) So eventually a NEW sign was christened in a new spot 1/10th of a mile away. Oddly enough, that sign gets stolen too. On the opposite side of this post, the sign is missing. Weird, eh?

Today we took a relaxifying trip down the Truckee River on a raft. It was really nice.

So tonight is our last night here and tomorrow we'll return home to reunite with our doggie and kitties, and our regular-old routines. We'll be a little more tanned, and a little bit refreshed after having 69 kinds of fun here in Tahoe.

Moonlight Over Tahoe

Well here is a five second exposure from our deck of the cabin showing the moonlight on the water. It's beautiful up here. Really.

So tomorrow we'll go and look at a few more houses to get an idea of the real estate market. After that, we'll be floating down the river for a few hours, finding some dinner (hopefully for less than tonight's dinner), then packing up our kit for the ride home.

See you all real soon.

Monday, August 10, 2009

You know...

atheism is not a religion in the same way that health is not a disease.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Pissed off deer

This deer head hangs on the living room wall in the house we are staying at. He looks kinda pissed-off. I'm just sayin.

We had a LOVELY day today. A long bike ride down the shore and back, then a family trip to the beach at Chambers Landing. Today's weather was absolutely gorgeous, low 70's with a very few puffy clouds and a gentle mountain breeze. We all went swimming in the lake at the beach and Sharon painted another watercolor.

We are planning on going to Evergreen for dinner pretty soon. It was absolutely great food when we ate there a few days ago. Less ambiance than Sunnyside Resort but for $100 less, I can do without some atmosphere.

I'll leave you with this art shot of Jessamy from the beach.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wish you were here

Hi all. The lake is fabulous, even when it's raining. Stop by and set a spell.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Baaaaaad blogger

Yeah, like the blog thing. Uh, I got all busy and, yeah, I didn't, like, blog. I beg your forgiveness. Here's the updit.

Do you remember Savemouse, that fabulous blog that went dark? Well, you can read it all again on the Wayback Machine here. As Mouse says: Hulee feckeeng crapp!

So we went to the SLO Renaissance Faire. It was a blast furnace and we had a great time partying with our friends in Morro Bay.

Then there is the inevitable project - The Cannery. This is the area round the side of the garage whare the recycle bins and the garbage can and the hose are kept. This involved the aforementioned post holes, and some fencing, and a gate, and a hose bib to be plumbed, and some pavers, surrounded by a concrete curb, and a motion activated light because it is pitch black out there when the sun goes down. I should be finishing the light right now instead of blogging.

As if that wasn't enough, there was the inevitable re-painting of one of the bedrooms, the re-assembly of the desk, the pool maintenance. Oh yeah, there was work too.

So at work, I actually get to hire someone!! If you can do new product introduction, manufacturing engineering, and instrument assembly, get a hold of me. Check the official listing here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


So tired. Demolished fence bits and dug half a hole for one of four posts. Feel like I've been hit by a supertanker. Ugh.

And it's raining. WTF?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

With pen in hand

I write to you my dear gentle readers to share a story of three men, some ladders, a mini pickup truck, and several buckets of paint.

They arrived on Monday morning, shortly after I got to work. While I toiled away at making a brand new piece of instrumentation made largely of aluminum, the began the awesome transformation of our 60 year-old house made largely out of wood.

In the twenty-year span since our house had been painted it had become really shabby looking. In places, the paint was peeling off, not just a little here and there you see, but in great large areas. It was noticeable to even the casual noticer. It was, my friends, an abomination before men.

Now in addition to the condition of the paint, there was the color. The last color selection was done by my beloved mother-in-law. Her tastes are more traditional than my dear wife's. (Sharon's more avant gardé color palette was but one of the several reasons that I proposed to her, and not her mother.) Thus the muted blue-gray with darker gray trim was termed "boring" and "ugly" and a flock of other pejorative adjectives - sometimes in thrilling combinations with modifiers like "butt-ugly" (my personal favorite) thrown in for good measure. I, the dutiful colorblind husband, wholeheartedly agreed.

Thus the search began for just the right color combination. We have been discussing this (rather Sharon has asked me about my opinion of various colors to which I have always replied, "It doesn't matter to me, Honey.") for literally several years now.

Back to Monday morning...

Having hired out several of the huge jobs - roofing, exterior painting, obstetrics - it never ceases to blow me away how much work you can get done in a week if there are several of you (or ten of you) and you don't live at the house and therefore aren't subject to requirements of sleeping in, putting away laundry, filling/emptying the dishwasher, fiddling with the pool, or any of those other things that distract me when I am working up the gumption to actually get started on a big job. (Sorry about the run-on sentence there.)

In five days, these three guys got as much done as it would have taken me 15 days to finish. Amazing. They'll be back on Monday and probably Tuesday too to finish up the trim. Seven days for them would have been an entire month for me. I have a lot of vacation time, but not that much.

You can see the view from the pool in the picture at the top there. It's fuckingorgeous. (Try and just look at the house, not the towels hanging off the fence.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Not so fast, buddy

So, the job kinda ate my life there for a few weeks which I'm sure that you, my gentle reader, noticed as a distinct lack of posting here at the old flaming scroll. Fear not. Posts will be coming fast and furious now that the product is launched.

So let's start with the job thingy. We had a successful launch of the two new instrument products on the same platform. I put in a whole lotta hours and received lots of thanks and kudos from co-workers, my boss, and the president. I think of it as running the last leg on a relay race. A lot of other people did a lot of really smart work. I just ran the last lap. Now, there was a LOT of catching up to do in that lap since there were numerous delays but no negotiating on the final date. That final date was today.

To cap things off, we had a whole mess of orders for product we had in stock, making for a record sale day, a record month, record quarter, blah blah blah. Is a very good problem to have in the current economy.

Let's talk about HOME IMPROVEMENT for a moment. The casa here was painted about 20 years ago. Now we are re-doing it. It'll be grand. Now I'm a REALLY AVID DIY dude, but scraping, washing, sanding, patching, priming, and painting a big-ass house like this one was way beyond my effort budget. So we are paying professionals to do it up right. Importantly, they know when to stop finessing and move on. I'm a perfectionist and frequently spend 50% too much time in a combination of overdoing things and not having the professional's knack.

Sharon picked out a really nice pumpkin color, and got a big sample part painted. She and the kids and approved it and the green trim color. I'm trusting them completely on this, my colorblindness being well-known. Do you think I should post pictures?

OK, now we get to the sign-off and me going to bed part. I'll write you all some more delightful posts real soon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Return of the king

Dude, I'm back. What the hell has been happening?

First, we went to teh renfair at Tahoe AKA Valhalla. Check out the Good Old Times...

Her's Kurt relaxing as Wagstaff (get it?) next to a courtesan. Rydell, as Lord Leicester commanded me to feed him since he (Wagstaff) is a worthy pig farker. Rydell is shown here trowing grapes into his mouth as Shawna holds it open.

We took Frannie along for the second weekend. She had a great time.

We saw Kate and Shery there. The goofballs.

And Amy played Juliet to make Her Majesty cry (in her new gown that she sewed up at our house).

We were feeling a little sheepish once the sun came out on Sunday. We were then presented to the Irish as a present from her Majesty. Baaaa.

Here's Nathan as Thisbe. He (she) was absolutely hilarious. Pyramus (Silas) lies dead on the right.

When it rains and it's bitter cold, I grin. Apparently.

Maggie and Lauren stopped by court. We tried not to fawn over them too much.

This is Sharon's all new gown. It's fabulous.

This box is what I have been working (very diligently) on at work. It is a very big box that we will sell for a buttload of money.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Hit me! Hah!

So there we were, minding our own business, stopping for the car in front of me who was stopping for a pedestrian. The I hear, "wham - WHAM". And, yeah, that last wham was the lady behind us smacking into us after getting hit from behind.

The Suburban, not too bad. Bent the bumper, pressed in the sheet metal a tiny bit, about the size of a silver Dollar. Back doors undamaged. The car behind us - lots of obvious paint damage to both bumpers. Lady in the middle had a pretty sore shoulder.

Car in the back, totaled. Front smooshed in about 18 inches, airbags deployed, windshield broken. Mom and two kids pretty shaken up.

I should have taken pictures. Delayed our departure from the Bay Area for 40 minutes placing us in way bad traffic It took about six hours to get to Tahoe as a result.

Please watch where you are going.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Silver, with golden bands

I couldn't let today pass without marking it here. Twenty five years ago today, it was really hot in what is now my back yard. About 120 guests arrived for the grand event, and soon we ran out of beer. There were balloons, and blue slacks, matching ties, and bride's maid dresses from Laura Ashley. There was a pastor named Bob, all of our relatives, and quite a few friends. The catering didn't go so well but the people being honored that day looked like a million bucks.

Every picture of me has me with my mouth open. Most of the pictures are slightly tilted because our "official photographer" who took pictures on a point and shoot camera was in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Most of the good pictures are snapshots from friends.

We started mostly on time, as I recall, though it seemed that some family members rushed things a bit. The vows were sweet, though not nearly as sweet as the 25 years hence, or as my pretty young bride.

I still remember that day very fondly. We were wed where our swing set now stands.

To all of our friends and family who were there, and all of those who we met later, I would like to say thank you for being there for us and supporting us as a couple. Thank you for the interest you have shown in us and our lives.

My biggest thanks go to my wife, of course. Thanks for putting up with me, through good and bad and worse times. Thank you for sharing your life completely with me, and for believing in me even when I deeply doubted myself.

Any of us who could go back in time with the freedom to change what we didn't like would do so in a moment. I would change a lot of things - and buy Netscape too - but there are few no decisions that I have made that have that have had such a profound and positive influence on my life as the decision to marry Sharon. I can't imagine a better choice and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

So friggin busy...

Well, here is one of the three tables. As of tonight they are stacked in the garage drying. This project has been much more time-consuming than I expected. Sheesh.

Monday, May 18, 2009

13 days!!

Sorry about leaving you all out of fresh flaming scroll there. I got all busy and stuff.

So we went to Cain's Crossing Renaissance Faire and that was a lot of fun. Other than that, tables, work, tables, work, tables...

And there was that TRRIBLE BAD MOVIE Greaser's Palace. Don't EVER watch it.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Magical Progress Faeire Visits Bob

So I made some progress on those projects. Here is the evidence, Your Honor.
Behold, the nut case. This is how I eventually solved the difficult task of embedding a nut in the middle of a block of wood, and still being able to use the nut. I'm so clever.
Here is what it looks like before you put it together

I also glued up, cut, and chamfered the feet. I made 13 just in case something bad happens to one of them.

And then there are all the legs that the nut cases are part of. The nut case goes on the bottom of the leg. It accepts a piece of threaded rod that is glued into the foot. See?
Gluing takes LOTS of clamps. They are like stitch markers, only a lot bigger.

And that little project at work got wrapped up on Monday, an 11 hour Monday as I recall.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Briefly shrinking from greatness to blog

Having committed to three simultaneous complex projects with Actual Deadlines has me stressed. I know that I will ultimately be successful, but it's a sense of 'this is too hard' coupled with having two other projects that are also 'this is too hard'. Ugh.

Project 1 is the launch of a new product at work. In my role as manufacturing guru I find that I am increasingly relied on by the product development people to get all of the loose ends tied up; the ones that they have inadvertently created. And lots of the development work is untested, specifically the parts that will form the enclosure that the customer sees first, and an automatic door mechanism - one that I have yet to see function. Bear in mind that the first commercial shipments of this product are in about eight weeks.

Project 1a is the manufacturing cell for the product. The instrument is about 150 pounds give or take a few. So you can't really just pick it up with anything resembling the control needed to lift a quarter million dollar product. It has to be hoisted. So I designed, specified parts for, did all the metal work for, and am building a pair of workstations with an integrated gantry crane. I started assembly yesterday. Let's just say that it is challenging, even for me. Here's a picture.

Project 2 is the four benches and two tables needed for The Guild Of St George Renaissance faire troupe. I need to bring them with us when we go to Lake Tahoe on the 29th of this month. So I have four, uh three, uh two and a half weekends and some scattered evenings to get all this stuff built, and finished with stain and varnish. So far I have 2/3 of one of the 12 adjustable legs built. The glue is drying as I type. The complication is that I committed that the tables would have adjustable, folding legs. Mind you that this furniture that I am building needs to look ornate as well, to suit the presence of Her Majesty. Let's just say that it is challenging, even for me.

Project 3 is the completion of the carpentry preparations for the painting of the house. The aforementioned windows were a major part of that. There is also the completion of the installation of the trim around windows I installed in 1996, a replacement of a decrepit back door to the garage, and about 50 feet of a trim bit that makes the finishing joint between the top of the siding and the eave. When all that is done, we can paint. Let's just say that it is challenging, even for me.

And the sprinkler solenoid in the front yard failed two weeks after replacement. And the right-hand keyboard lifting clip broke. Time for a cup of tea in the mug with the girl with the beach ball size boobs. (see the broken clip?)

Once all that is done, we can remodel the kitchen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Again, Again!!

So Sunday I put the replacement window into the back porch. This required moving a whole mess of stuff in the three cabinets installed OVER the original window. The exterior of the house is slowly but surely getting ready for paint! (which is overdue since the place hasn't been painted for about 20 years)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A window on my world

This, gentle readers, is the OLD window that was original to the house. Now I'm SURE that in 1949, the state of the art was to have nice strong STEEL windows that were undoubtedly strong and made of steel like the warships that had won the war and the bridges that spanned the mighty rivers of this great nation. Steel that had been poured from the crucible in the heartland of the United States of America!
Only problem is that no matter how hard you wish it wouldn't, steel rusts. Especially if you install it in the kitchen, right over that steamy sink, with single pane glass that forms condensation even in late Spring! So old Rusty had to go, replaced by...
A great big HOLE, which Sharon and I both really liked. It was airy, and bright, and the view was unobstructed, and there was NO RUST! Except a fly came flying in. So...
I put in this handsome PLASTIC window that will never rust. It even has steel part in it that are made of - wait for it - STAINLESS STEEL so they'll never rust either.

I'm so happy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I get a strange magic

So I have not one, not two, but three count'em three big projects underway.
  1. Replace two windows in house - kitchen and back porch. Windows arrived today so I went and picked them up. I have to say, the people at Lowes are so much nicer than the people at Home Depot. Anyway, the windows qualify us for a 30% tax credit (!) because they are highly energy efficient, so we get like $200 back next tax time. I toyed with the idea of making my own windows, but ultimately decided that there were some things that I wasn't good enough at to satisfy my high expectations. There is a reason there are factories that do nothing but make windows, and I'm (just) smart enough to know that they do a better job at it after making millions of them than I would after making one.
  2. Build those tables and benches I talked about. It would be simple but I have thrown in an extra-credit challenge and volunteered to make tables with integral leveling legs - all out of wood. Idiot.
  3. Big giant erector set construction at work that is essentially a crane with two integral work surfaces. This will allow the building of our ~160 pound instrument and then provide a means of lifting it up off the bench and setting it down on a pallet on the floor. It allows one person to pack a unit that is about 1/4 the volume of an upright piano made out of $70,000 worth of parts. Good times.
And I hope to have a Bad Movie Night soon - featuring Greasers Palace - which I am led to believe is awful.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm a hottie, with wood

It's finally hot enough. We went swimming today, in the solar-heated wonder. It was teh funzorz. I've had enough 50 mph winds for a while. Let's just keep this weather for the next five months, OK?

We said goodbye this morning to our friends who are moving to a farm in Ohio. They are going to make goat cheese. The cost of living there is way less than here. I wish them well.

And later today (in a few minutes!) I'm starting on my biggest woodworking project ever - building three folding tables and four folding benches for Renaissance Faire. I started by buying ~$500 of wood. So now, I've got wood. I'll post pictures of my wood later.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirates life for thee

Well it seems that all you need to defeat the pirates is three bullets and an ice pick. I suppose it helps if you have snipers with night vision scopes and your target on a 100 foot rope line.

I predict that the piracy trade in Somalia is going to become quite a bit less attractive as a career path, soon. Now that the pirates have pissed off America, we will probably help the other nations involved realize that the status quo of simply paying the ransoms is making things worse, not better, and that pirates are gonna have to start DYING. In a few months someone is gonna sink a pirate craft, and kill a lot of people who chose violence over civilization. And this will be a further wake up call to the rest of the people on shore to get their shit together and do their own nation building this time.

Hey Somalia, Game Over. Don't bother asking for any more help unless you are willing to man up and form a real government. There won't be an UNOSOM III.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The time has come

Today, we talk about religion. Happy Easter.

Did you know that in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a tradition of spanking or whipping is carried out on Easter Monday. In the morning, men spank women with a special handmade whip. This is supposed to ensure their continued beauty. The women thank the men with an egg, or sometimes money.

I'm not making this up. Let's call it a religious practice just for fun.

A couple of days ago I got one of those godawful jingoistic religious emails from a friend of the family. It talked at length in pictures and large type propaganda language about how the USA was founded by Christians and that the Ten Commandments and other biblical writings were inscribed all over government buildings. It went on to suggest that only Christians should govern, and that the non-Christian 14% people who don't like all the biblical stuff on government property and the words "In God We Trust" on the money and "under God" in the pledge of allegiance should "SHUT UP". The text of the message challenged me to forward the message if I was in agreement or to delete it.

Needless to say, I was not the target audience. I chose to reply instead.

I ended up spending a couple of hours writing than re-writing a response. In the process I learned a couple of things.

1. Abraham Lincoln was the first to use the phrase "under God" in reference to America, in political speech. It was in the Gettysburg Address, which I read for the first time last night. Also, the Gettysburg address was a two minute speech that followed a THREE HOUR oration by Edward Everett.

2. The pledge of allegiance dates from 1892 - not revolutionary times. Insertion of the the phrase "under God" was first spearheaded by the Knights Of Columbus in 1951. Ultimately it was the result of a sermon that Eisenhower was present at that sealed the deal. Read all about it.

3. The United States Constitution explicitly prohibits the use of a religious test as a requirement for holding public office. "... no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." (Article 6) The text is very explicit; "no religious Test shall ever be required". I really like that.

So here is my point for the day. Religious freedom in the United States is precious because it allows us (if we choose to) to act as a nation undivided by religion. It makes America strong because our government does not value citizens based on their faith, only on their standing as citizens. Religion must remain strictly out of government to assure ALL citizens their religious freedom.

To those who say we are a Christian nation, you are foolishly confusing the majority of religious preference of the citizens with the actual form of government and society that exists. I suggest re-thinking the matter.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rum & Coke

I wish the Coke was the kind made with sugar instead of HFCS.

It's been so long, I get to wondering how you people even get to sleep at night without a missive from me. Here is the catch up:

1. I had a dream last night about how difficult it was to get our instrument to work with Macintosh computers. Since we are running a .NET application and we have at least three hardware drivers, all Windows, it was very difficult involving lots of things that only exist in dreams, like cross-platform hardware adapters.

2. I don't think we are going to get another dog. Do you want to buy a very slightly used crate?

3. We got a new garage door. Now, I know what you are thinking, "YAWN!!", but really it is SO MUCH better than that old piece of crap door that was the original plywood tilt up jobber that was layered up with paint and supported on Frankenstein hinges. OMFG the new one is so nice. Steel inside and out with a foam core. Bonus - it is about one foot higher in the garage so you can move big stuff around with ease. No more greasy Frankenstein!!!

4. I discovered yesterday that I plumbed the solar panels backwards - the cold water is supposed to enter the bottom and exit hotter at the top - but I'm having a hard time believing that this is the cause of the back pressure being too high in the system. I think the solar panels mey be clogged with scale. :-(

5. I ordered a couple of windows for the house. It seems like the whole house is wearing out all at once. Next we have to paint. Did I mention the failed sprinkler valve solenoid?

6. My movie is about to start. Bye.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

It's mom's birthday today. I called her and wished her well and then got a cavity filled. She wanted to know how everything was and was delighted to hear from her son who calls her all too-infrequently. She lives far away and can't travel easily.

Now remember that this is the same lady who painted a rainbow from one end of the living room wall to the other end. The same mom that posted Playboy centerfolds around the house to de-mystify naked women after finding us two boys too curious about dad's magazines. The same mom who took a bully kid out of my class and took him on personal field trips because she thought that would help him be sociable (so did his mom who I suppose was raising this angry boy on her own). The same mom who gathered the neighbor kids together in the kitchen and taught them how to make puppets. The mom who our young neighbor Susie asked, "Mrs Collier, learn me to cook."

Mom made our lives as children simply magical. At the time I didn't know it. Thanks Mom. I love you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oops, missed a spot


That post on the 14th was on my 4 year blogaversary. Oops - forgot to toot my own horn there. I'll never do that again. I'll remember on 3/14/2015 that it's the 10th.

If you are really REALLY bored, go back and read all 458 other posts.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Two thoughts on authority

I mentioned a few posts ago that I had good news at work but I couldn't share it yet. Now I can. March 1, I was promoted from Manager, to Associate Director of Instrument Manufacturing. Since then I have received many congratulations from my co-workers along the lines of "well-deserved" and so forth. Needless to say, I agree.

At first I was simply grateful to be given the recognition and acknowledgment. Over a couple of weeks I have noticed subtle changes in deference and trust on the part of some folks. The fact of my promotion at least as much as my actual title seems to be giving people the license to place their trust in me more. It is very gratifying to hold a position of trust.

These thoughts didn't really gel until I had lunch with a friend who is in a career search.
(When I was working with Right Management after getting laid off from GMI, that was the euphemism I learned for being unemployed. It actually re-frames the situation quite well since it describes the activity instead of the state, and the pursuit of that activity is the important part of the state of being.) He related his own respect of my skills and efforts, as well as those of former coworkers.

We also talked about the need for one to take an active role in the management of their own career instead of just leaving things to chance. For a long time I left things to chance and expected others to advance my career for me. I later learned that I could and should have exerted more control. If I can give advice it would be to do that yourself - Own the management of your career. Don't let others control it because they have their own interests, or (legitimately) the company's interests, in mind.

And besides all that...

I have heard a ton about the new fad of sexting, apparently done by thousands of naked youth. Yeah, I get it. Sending naked pictures of yourself to your romantic partners has been done for a long time and ain't gonna stop. And kids are not gonna stop having phones, or homones that drive them to get naked or want to see naked people. And phones are not gonna stop having cameras, or being able to send pictures to one or more recipients, and since the pictures can be copied effortlessly they will be - especially since they are of naked people and naked people are, so I have heard, all the rage (at least for the last few centuries anyway).

What I don't understand is the attempts to prosecute post-pubescent children for child pornography crimes in these cases. Something isn't right there. I think it is a case of the state thinking that it is the parent. It should be the parents who are saying
"Amanda, sending naked pictures of yourself to your friends might seem like harmless fun, but those pictures can - and will - get sent to a lot of people you don't know and who you really don't want to have them. Furthermore, they will use those picures repeatedly for their own sexual gratification, and you are old enough to know what that means and I'm sure it grosses you out. Lastly, Amanda dear, those naked pictures of you will remain in play for a long time, well after the time when you still think it is appropriate. The presence of them will embarrass you, and you will feel needless regret. If you REALLY want your friends to see you naked, you should gather them together in your bedroom and take off your clothes for them. Let their memory be the only thing that leaves the room."
Arresting children for foolish behavior is like arresting dogs for barking. You wish they wouldn't but they inevitably will.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Now back from my trip to Antarctica

It's Summer there, you know. Downright tropical. Almost sweaty.

Uh, really I was just all busy and crap.

Oh yeah, my fivefour year blogaversary Is in five days. I was so kerflempt I forgot to blog - or I was busy.

Let's see...

No new pets this week.
Sharon is up to her neck in work - they said ten to twenty hours a week, it's been more like five to ten hours a day for a week. Needs less to say her relaxo time has been hoovered up like cookies at a PTA meeting.
Work has been going great. Except for the lumpy sales pattern.

I have been working since Friday on a show called, Shakespeare Goes to Gravel Gulch. It is (duh) a children's show produced by San Carlos Children's Theatre. It's quite good.

This time I'm the Tech Director. This means I get to make stuff work. Up til tonight everything was perfect. Then tonight, the light board operator had taken home the cues and forgotten them, the video feed broke, and the headsets didn't get charged. Other than that it was great. We even figured out how to move the 250 pound stage extensions.

You see, the play is being done at Heather School in San Carlos. Every school night, everything that is in front of the proscenuim that isn't part of the Multi Use Room has to get struck... Speakers, cables, sound board, amplifier, light board, video camera, video monitor in the green room, and worst of all - the 250 pound stage extension pieces that sit on the steps up to the stage.

Now we aren't allowed to attach them in any way. They just have to sit there. So each one is weighted. With 150 pounds of sand. In bags. My back hurts just thinking about it.

The show opens Friday - Come see it, it's only $10!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


today a friend posted that her grandmother - her inspiration, the woman that made her who she is today - has three months to live...

today my neighbors at the corner met me on a walk and I noticed she was expecting (a boy), she said she is six months...

in three months my friend will grieve

in three months my friend will rejoice

I can remember the beginning of my life, brief glimpses of early childhood. I am old enough to have held the hands of dying relatives, to see myself in them, brief glimpses of my own mortality.

Perhaps I'll live as long as I already have so far, but it is more likely that it won't be quite that long.

My life is often joyful, and I try to bring joy to others (perhaps even you). In case I've overlooked thanking you for the joy you've brought to my life (however small it may have been) let me say, thank you now. Eventually, (in a long time) like my friend I won't have a chance to say that.

PS (I'm a fan of the parenthetical)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

An inconvenient pooch

Sadly - and I really mean that - I returned that cute cute doggie to the SPCA today.

Despite the cuteness, he was overwhelmed by the activity level in our house, deeply anxious without his brother and sister, and unaccustomed to being with people. This manifested itself in fear behaviors like dropping his head and tail, slinking away from us, peeing when we petted him, growling and snapping, and the last straw; biting both of us when we tried to pick him up, on several occasions.

I sincerely hope that another person or family will have the time and patience to socialize the little fellow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Not quite sure what to call him yet. "Charlie Brown" is the front runner.
This was a lot less blurry in my mind's eye.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Classics

Yes, I watch a lot of movies the main attraction of which is nipples but from time to time I throw in a "real" movie just to keep the folks at Netflix guessing. Tonight, on Kate's recommendation I watched the 1946 Best Picture winner The Best Years of Our Lives. It was quite a worthy flick.

The story is that of three men returning from WWII, their friendship, and how their lives have been changed inexorably by their time in service. Great performances all around and a very long and intense exploration of how delicate our lives really are. It is clear that in some circumstances you simply must accept the fact that the past is the past and cannot be relived or remade. If you have 2 hours and 50 minutes and you want to learn about life and love and loss, you should watch it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Thanks to my friend Tanya for this picture of me in my Renaissance duds!

As I was saying elsewhere (tribe) about the latest dust up between the American Family Association and Human Rights Council...

The story header:
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, today issued a national action alert against the American Family Association's (AFA) one-hour television special called "Speechless: Silencing Christians," which is promoted to "reveal the truth about the radical homosexual agenda and its impact on the family, the nation and religious freedom." Within an hour of that action alert announcement, the Grand Rapids, MI station which had planned to air the deceptive programming rescinded that offer. (story continues)

Here is what I have to say on the subject.
Yes, HRC is nominally doing what AFA "says" they are by attempting to (and in this case succeeding) prevent the AFA from presenting their message.

But "freedom of speech" (First Amendment speech) doesn't mean that other groups cannot protest to anyone that they choose to about your speech - or your proposed speech. It means the government - though force of law - shall not abridge your right to say what you like, no matter how much it offends. That isn't what is happening here at all. The law has not entered into it, nor is it remotely likely that it will.

The AFA wants people to believe that equality in marriage and family law for LGBT persons = state sanctioned destruction of religious freedom. Their arguments are many and fallacious. Religious freedom (the Constitutional kind) means the government - through force of law - shall not impose a religion on the citizenry, nor shall it punish or reward a citizen on the basis of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

HRC's mission is to remove or change laws that punish citizens unfairly for their refusal to accept religiously based beliefs, for that is now clearly the basis of the discriminatory laws. This fact is made plain by the groups that choose to oppose the HRC and their espoused reasoning for the opposition.

Let me be clear. HRC are the good guys. What the AFA wants is to mold American law to enforce Christian values onto everyone whether or not they are Christian. This means keeping existing discriminatory laws, legislating around court decisions that eliminate discrimination (Prop 8). They try to dress this up as "protecting our culture". Here are some of their lies and the truth they don't want you to know. (From

1. Lie: If hate crimes laws are passed, pastors will be prosecuted for preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Truth: Pastors will not be held liable for hate crimes based on preaching anti-gay sermons. The First Amendment protects a preacher from being charged as an accessory to a hate crime simply because of their speech. The Matthew Shepard Act only punishes violent crimes, not a person's speech, beliefs or thoughts. In fact, the legislation contains language specifically protecting free speech.

2. Lie: Legislation that will provide employment protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity will force churches to hire homosexuals.

Truth: The federal legislation contains language exempting the vast majority of religious corporations, associations and educational institutions, and permits all religious organizations to condition employment on compliance with its significant tenets, including ones barring LGBT employees.

3. Lie: Homosexual acts have a key role to play in the spread of all STDs and HIV/AIDS.

Truth: HIV and STDs don't distinguish by gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic. Statements such as those made by the AFA in this video hamper efforts to prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases by spreading ignorance and misinformation.

4. Lie: Allowing the government to redefine marriage hurts children because studies show children need a mother and father to do well in life.

Truth: All scientifically reputable studies on the subject of same-sex parenting show that the sexual orientation of a child's parent does not affect a child. Furthermore, all leading children's welfare and rights organizations conclude that there is no measurable difference between children raised by loving lesbian and gay families and those raised by different-sex couples.

So, AFA - DIAF. PS. You have the ugliest website I have ever seen.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Good times

When I look at the tee-vee news and read about the world on teh interwebs it all seems so incredibly BAD. I like to try and look on the bright side because I'm a Pollyanna an optimist.

We did manage to elect a president who can form a sentence and pronounce words and stuff. And he is talking about running things differently than the previous fellow who, by all accounts, fucked up. That's good. Seriously, I think the feature that the liberals really have over the conservatives is the embrace of moral relativism. Everything isn't actually black and white and you really do have to think critically with an open mind and consider other people's perspectives is you are going to govern a diverse nation. Unflinching dogma is so last century.

I have actually read about people coming to the realization that people who were essentially playing giant shell games with money that didn't exist, SHOULD NOT be rewarded with 8 figure salaries for essentially CREATING NOTHING. I think that's progress.

House prices are coming down. This might allow mere mortals to buy them without pawning a testicle. It will also put a stop to the proliferation of "Flip This House" shows on the tee-vee featuring bickering idiots. Sweet!

I heard tell of a plan by some Republicans to take some of the money that people have been socking into government bonds (because the stocks suck) and making home loans at 4% with it. The details are complicated, but just imagine what all of us could do with the savings from refinancing tens of millions of home loans. It would make a palpable stab at the foreclosure problem too. That's good.

Despite all the terrible news about tens of thousands of lost jobs, not everyone is getting laid off and not everything is horrible. Are you in a position to hire someone in the next few months? Guess what, you'll have your pick of really good candidates and that will help your company be better faster. That's the position that I'm in and I'm actually looking forward to the hiring process in a couple of months.

Do you think that part of the stimulus package that will soon be passed will be used to fund green power initiatives? I do. I think there is a HUGE industry waiting to be built to harness the energy sources in nature around us that will eventually cut funding to the politically flawed oil producing nations. When they cannot export oil and use the petrodollars to prop up their regimes that oppress their citizens, change will happen. Maybe it won't all happen in my lifetime but I see that we in America are in a unique position to create the technology and sell it to the rest of the world. That, my friends, will create millions of jobs for many decades and provide the key to change the face of the world.

Peanut products anyone? I think the recent debacle with the salmonella tainted peanut butter might spur food safety efforts to be better. That's good. I heard about a plan to simplify the patchwork of oversight. That sounds good.

I got really good news at work. I can't share it here yet but I will soon.