Sunday, October 25, 2009

Spider and web




I've never seen a spider like that before. It looks more like a crab to me.


When we came back later, it had snagged a bee.

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See anything wrong here?


Give it a moment.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

BBQ Sauce recipe

I got this in a spam. The message had no attachment, no links, and no more text. Sounds like it'd be a pretty decent sauce.

Recipe for great BBQ Sauce:

1 quart apple cider vinegar
1 (20 ounce) bottle ketchup
1/4 cup paprika
1 pound dark brown sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup lemon juice

In a large container, mix together the apple cider vinegar, ketchup,
paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder,
Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Pour into an empty vinegar bottle,
ketchup bottle or other container and store in the refrigerator for up to
1 month.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Especially if the hoop's on fire...

Being willing to jump through hoops, or even to invent imaginative hoops to jump through, will make you a better parent. That is to say, you'll get a lot more cooperation when you engage your child on her terms, and create a fun and goofy narrative to pull her through the things you need to do. I suck at it, but I'm married to an excellent practitioner of the art.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Anti-social networking

There's something disturbing about the way online tools enable a passivity in social interaction. Mass emails, blog posts, Facebook statuses, Twitter tweets, etc. are all ways to announce things to people as a group, without taking the extra initiative and personal touch of communicating with the individual. It's sort of like the passive bribe often depicted on screen. "I'm just going to leave this money here, and if it's not here when I come back...."

Everything is either a broadcast or a reply. People seem a lot less willing to initiate direct, person-to-person communication, and we're losing something because of it. It's perfectly understandable why it happens. It's a lot less effort to send out a lowest-common-denominator message. There's no risk of being ignored or rejected when you're announcing something to the world at large.

It takes out some of the risk, but also some of the sincerity. And it puts the onus on other people to respond, which may be safer, but also reduces your chance of meaningful communication. I guess a lot of people prefer to increase their chance of failure if it means they can blame others rather than themselves. That also encourages them to participate in the same fashion, because your reply does not itself demand a reply, so when there is none, you aren't wounded. Furthermore, since someone else has chosen the topic and established the thread, it's a lot less effort for you to chime in. Of course, it's a lot tougher to have a meaningful, thoughtful communication that way, but it's certainly easier and leaves you less vulnerable.

I also sense an element of narcissism in some cases. The broadcast is inevitably about the one thing that is common to the group: you. Whether it's something about you, in your life, or of interest to you, it all comes back to being about you. Nobody sincerely asks about a friend's well-being this way, after all. And then it validates your ego when the other people take the initiative to reply to you, even if a reply doesn't demonstrate the the same interest. Passively soliciting replies it enables you to continue to see yourself as the star of your own show.

Of course, the world doesn't work like that, and it impoverishes your interactions with other people. Other people will sense that you don't think them worth the effort of a direct, personal message, and all the indirect, impersonal messages in the world won't fix that. Indeed, they'll actually make it worse, because they'll create a stark contrast between what is and what should be.

The upshot is that you should only broadcast things when they make sense to broadcast, and don't let these broadcasts take away from individual emails. If it's a message that's trivial or entirely about you, then it makes sense to put it in a broadcast tweet or something similar. After all, half the reason those tools exist is to tell people about yourself.

Send things to group lists when it's an interest group, rather than just an assortment of people that you know. If there's something that would be of interest to multiple people you know who don't know or care about each other, then send a separate message to each one. If that's too much effort, then maybe it's not as valuable a message (to them or to you) as you assumed. It takes very little thought or effort to add someone to a CC list, and everybody knows it. If you add me to your 43-strong recipient list for your "Happy Diwali" list, can you really truly say that it's important to you that I have a happy Diwali?

Broadcast messages have their uses, but they should be kept to those uses. Make sure you take the time to communicate personally and directly on an individual level. That's how you show you care. And if you don't care, it'll be obvious. In fact, it already is.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Ugly diagrams of the planned house

First floor and second floor. These were marked up for my reference. I know they're ugly, and that there are two Bedrooms 4 upstairs, etc. And yes, it's quite a large house (3400 sf according to the builder).

The original version of this plan had the upstairs bathroom 2 between those two bedrooms on the left. I thought those two rooms were a little small that way, and the upstairs gameroom was huge. So I thought of moving the bathroom and killing two birds with one stone. The pink lines in those two rooms show the original size.

The area marked "Unfinished attic space" is where a media room option goes. We didn't want to pay for a media room, either up front, in maintenance, or in taxes. However, someday we might want that space. Alternately, if we had to move out, we'd be able to finish that space and add a few hundred square feet and a nice feature to the house that would help us sell it. It will be storage space accessible through a door (not indicated) until then.

On the first floor, where the master shower is was originally a big old tub. Everybody gets those, and nobody uses them. It seemed like a complete waste of space. The shower was originally to the left of the sink that is against the exterior wall. We took that out, converted the tub to an expanded shower (with a bench seat), and extended the walk-in closet.

This is also not the latest version of this plan. The builder had modified it so the master suite expanded to include the adjacent study. The master suite was something like 17'x23' in its largest dimensions constructed that way. That's just crazy big. We preferred being able to carve off a separate room to use as a study, workout room, or whatever.

A three car garage may seem a little extravagant and nutty, but first off, every house by this builder in this neighborhood has one, and secondly, remember this is a 20-year house. This is the USA, not Europe, so you drive everywhere. That means that in 12 years we're going to have a third car. With the hailstorms we have around here, we're going to want to be able to park them all inside. Besides, the three car garage is becoming a common feature of middle to upper end houses; not having it would be a liability if and when we sold. In my parents' neighborhood, which was built out 10 to 20 years ago, I'd estimate about 25% of houses have a 3-car garage.

What else? Oh, both patios, front and back, are covered. The island in the kitchen is a single level, not split. Any questions?


Monday, October 12, 2009

Can we depopulate her?

That’s what I believe. I am not an expert. I have no case worth presenting in a court of law. There are hundreds of hours of research on the swine flu and related vaccines that I have not done and I am not going to do. It is just what I believe, listening to the people I respect, and in no small part because if you map out all the financial ecosystems around the issue and people and incentives involved, it seems to me to be the logical conclusion.

Just what we need, more people who "believe" things without a shred of basis. If you don't know anything, and you know you don't know anything, how about shutting up? I know what the response would be. "These are just my beliefs and feelings, and I have a right to them." Translation: "I see no problem with being an idiot."



Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bathroom fail


Push faucets, to minimize yucky stuff transfer via faucet handles: check.


Soap: check.
Hand sanitizer: check.
Hands-free paper towel dispenser: check.


Having to touch the same bathroom handle as all the drunk frat boys who peed all over themselves and walked out without washing their hands: FAIL.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What I believe they call the "before" picture



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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Black beetle





I'm pretty impressed with the quality of the macro mode on my subcompact point-and-shoot.

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A flock of (not) seagulls




Saw these this past evening. I couldn't get a good shot of them because I was in the car. They were awesomely close at one point, just a couple hundred feet overhead. They were some kind of large wading bird (my favorite kind).

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Friday, October 2, 2009

A bold statement


For Uma's room



Ok, I am totally getting that.