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Showing posts from 2010

Ruminations on Christmas/December/Solstice

Each year I get to watch my boy appear and disappear in a 24 hour period.  I hate that.It's amazing how rewarding it can be to put something together with your kids.  This year, I got to put together a playschool dollhouse, a K'Nex Twisted Coaster, and an er...um....something to do with mechanized hamsters that need exercise.  A toy is evil if and only if it requires batteries.I find Michael Bay's Transformer's movie mesmerizing in that "If its on, I have to watch it" way I usually reserve for Airplane!, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and The Ten Commandents.Bad news is worse at Christmas somehow.  It's like you're in the foxhole, getting shelled, and the guy next to you farts.  Nothing to do but smell it.The Mattress sales industry should be regulated tighter than casinos.  Casinos at least offer comps.If you're on the hook to feed your buddy's dog while he's on vacation, wear comfortable footwear.  Said dog may be off her chain and feelin…

Inside the mind of my 3 year old

So, the other day, J-man and I were trekking to Shelbyville, Maria in the back seat.  Joey was bored and he started the "Guess a number between..."  Each time we play this game, I calc the ceil(lg(N)) of the higher number and request that many guesses, and I win every time.  ("Stand back, I'm going to try science!")

Anyway....Maria wanted to get in on this, too.   Which is fascinating, since she CAN'T COUNT.

M: I'm thinking of a number between four and nine.

J: 7

M: No

H: 5

...we proceed to guess every number between 4 and 9, inclusive.  Twice.

M: No guys...you're doing it wrong!

Inspiration struck.

H: Is it forty nine?

M: YES!  VERY GOOD DADDY.

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My one parental gift is a capacity to think like a 3 year old.

Randomness, December 21st edition

Ruminations for today:
It's a crime there's no site where you can put in reasonable search criteria ("manual diesel wagon") and have it monitor AutoTrader, eBayMotors, Cars.com, Craigslist, etc. Sort of like Kayak.com does for airline tickets or Mint.com does for finances. Corollary thought: Some techno-geek/gear head like me invented just such a program, but loved it so much never left his Mom's basement. Plurality of choice sucks.Both 'cancelled' and 'canceled' are correct English. The single-L form makes my brain want to explode.So, okay...until we invent telepathy, we're stuck with language of some form to communicate ideas. Each language has its own strengths and weaknesses: brevity, density, beauty, expressiveness. Could we come up with something BETTER THAN ENGLISH, please?!Corporate communications is where English majors go to die.In no particular order, here are the new cars I want to test drive: Mazda 2Mazda RX-8Ford Fiesta hatc…

The weekend that was: Dec 11th, 12th

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I sit here in office 249, staring down the last work week of the year, the Meghan McCain tome Dirty Sexy Moneywinking at me. Outside, the temperature hovers at 17 F, as arctic air chills most of America.


Yes, I blinked, and the weekend was over.
So, what happened?
First, I saw Despicable Me with Maria Thursday night (yes, a little Daddy/Daughter time). Wonderful film, even if the tickets cost us $3 and the concessions cost $19. I laughed a lot, and Steve Carell is a genius. I've subjected Whitney to my (bad) Gru impression since Friday.
Friday was an odd day. I got my soul RotoRootered on Thursday afternoon, so I felt off-center Friday. Emotional and talkative, rather like my Real Self© got to come out and play for a few hours. That's me that isn't crushingly overbearing, self-absorbed, defensive, etc. The guy who wrote poems, played (and liked) music, and put himself out there every day. 'Twas nice.
Anyway, so I had a couple of meetings on interviewing technique …

Tradeoffs

Background: I have a 6 week old infant daughter.
In an ongoing effort to avoid sleep deprivation psychosis, my wife and I now alternate "standing watch" for Grace each night. Last night was my night. Man, a day that ends at midnight and begins at 4:30 sucks. Really could've done with another hour of sleep at least.
Still, it beats Sunday night/Monday morning, at which time my daughter went to bed at 11:30, then woke up at 2:30 and screamed the next 18 hours.

The Weekend that was: Nov 12, 13th

Yes, I've caught the blogging bug. I feel different enough from my former self that it seems to make sense. Maybe I'm reading too much Peter Egan these days. Whatever, I'm here, again.
This weekend was another hole in my soul weekends when Joey gets to go to Louisville to be someone else with Dad #1. This is not how he phrases it, but that's it in effect. From my perspective, I drop him off @ 7pm Friday, he goes into a fugue state for 48 hours, then I pick him up at 7pm Sunday. In any case, it kills me, as Joey's my only defense against the giggly, shopping, toe-painting brigade known as the Combs Women.
Actually, I overstate. The women of my family are wonderful, well-rounded folks. Still, they're women, and it's difficult to crack jokes that begin and end with "poop," "balls," or "fire." With them. Joey and I could do 10 minutes of standup on the word "poop" alone. I think of us as the two stooges.
Ahem, anyw…

Routine these days

From time to time, I like to check-in on what daily life is like. Yeah, it's mundane, but it helps me remember what I was like at any given moment.
5 am: Alarm Clock Goes off. Hit snooze bar.5:09am: Alarm Clock Goes off. Hit snooze bar5:18am: Alarm Clock Goes off, wakes 6 week old infant. Wife hits me. I turn off alarm clock and get up5:30->6: Wash dishes from night before, read RSS feeds on Google Reader, listen to podcasts on iPod (particular favs: "Things you missed in History class", "FLOSS weekly", and "Wait, wait...don't tell me".)6: wake-up Joey for school, walk him to the bathroom.6:15: go back to bathroom to rouse comatose Joey6:30: Shower, shave, yada yada yada7:15: Leave to take Joey to school7:45: Pick up Del for carpool8:15: Arrive at work8:30->10:30: Most productive time of the day10:30: first SCRUM standup of the day. Dysfunctional, slightly dramatic team. Lots of contempt. Good product, though.11: second SCRUM standup o…

Anti-Bragging

Inspired by @tr0x on Twitter.com, here's my anti-bragging list @ age 32.
I suck at most anything sports related. I'm egotistical and I hate to lose, from which naturally follows I never liked being on any sports team. I was on a T-Ball team when I was 6. I played right field, couldn't catch a ball to save my life, and that team ended-up winning the league championship. I chose to retire on top, you might say.
I'm physically incapable of cleaning a bathroom adequately. Sad, ain't it?
Invariably, I start a project, get 25% to 75% through it, then let it languish until it's overdue, then half-ass it to the finish. Yes, this drives me nuts about myself. I've no idea why I do it. Yes, it makes my longsuffering wife want to kill me.
I suck at simple arithmetic, particularly that done in my head. Love higher math, but simple addition and subtraction is like kryptonite. I'm almost phobic about it; I have nightmares where I run a cash register and I can&…

Quotable quotes from class last week

I was in a training class last week, and thought these quotes were interesting:Game time is not the time to improve skills. It's the time to apply the skills.Projects have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Operations go on forever.Marry not the person that makes you happiest, but the person that makes you least unhappy.Metrics allow you to get rid of the losers. They DO NOT let you pick the winnersThe difference between a job and a career? About 20 hours a week.

Pissed at myself

I'm 31, and I have arthritis in my lower back.
THIRTY ONE YEARS OLD.
Mom's prophesy has come true: "You need to get up and move, or you'll have arthritis by the time you're 30." You were off by one, mom.
Can't really lay blame on anyone but myself here. I'm the one who decided sitting around like Jabba the Hut for the last decade was the way to go. Twenty six percent body fat, zero flexibility, and no core strength.
Sorry, this is my first "you'll have this for the rest of your life" moment.

Review: Toy Story 3

I've been pulling lots of OT at work lately (as has my whole team) and this past week, the walls started closing in on me. That's appropriate--I work in a windowless lab surrounded by high-walled cubicles and machines that wouldn't pass FCC Class B certification with a bribe and a reactor radiation shield. Our lab has a sign with fake (?) blood on it that says: "Stress relief: Bang head here."
Anyway, my manager strongly suggested some time off. As did my wife. As did the janitor. So, I took today off and took Maria to see Toy Story 3, the latest computer-animated masterpiece from Disney/Pixar.
Okay, so our family is a Pixar family. We often don't speak English; we speak in citations from Pixar movies, our favorite being Finding Nemo and Cars
Nevertheless, after suffering through the turdly Shrek: Somebody Shoot Me a month ago, I was gunshy about walking into the 3rd installment from this franchise. Where could the story go?
To another plane of existence,…

Eventful day

Most of my Saturdays involve me getting to "sleep in" to 7am. Today was special--I got to sleep in to 8:30, at which point Bella declared, "Well, I've been awake for 2 hours at this point, might as well get up."
To encourage domestic sanity, Whitney and I have an arrangement--each of us gets alone time for around 4 hours each weekend. Traditionally, Whitney gets hers Saturday mornings 'til 1pm.
Yep, I'm to be a single parent for the next 4 hours or so. Easy enough, right?
Actually, it's pleasant. Usually. I have great kids--conversant, responsive, unspoiled. They appreciate time with Dad, especially when he puts the laptop down and unplugs his NPR-podcast laden iPod.
Today was going to be great--we'd take the recycle to the recycling center, hit a motorcycle shop or 3, maybe con our way into a test-drive of a car with a manual transmision, then hit the UK arboretum and some other goings-on in Lex.
Plans change.
Got everyone in the van, loaded-…

Stages of Coffee Addiction.

(As related to Kim Tegge, the lone coffee holdout at work)
Stage 0: Coffee?! BLECH! Does smell good, though.
Stage 1: Coffee?! BLECH! I'll take a Mocha Frappuchino, please.
Stage 2: Coffee?! BLECH! I'll take an instant French Vanilla Cappuccino, please. I drink one of these every couple of weeks or so.
Stage 3: Latte, please. I can't stand coffee. This is my first one this week.
Stage 4: Hmm...no latte? No Starbucks? Need something...I'll take some coffee with my cream and sugar. Never had this before.
Stage 5: Dark roast Starbucks house blend with a shot of cream. You know...maybe a couple per day.
Stage 6: Black coffee. Any will do. 4 cups per day.
Stage 7: Reheated black coffee from yesterday while I'm brewing the extra-strength coffee at 5am because I've had a coffee headache since 4:30. 6 cups per day. Actually, I can't remember how many I drink per day. I NEED ANOTHER CUP!
So, where do you fall on that scale?

Now, she can breathe

This morning, my daughter Maria, had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy at an outpatient surgery center in Lexington. She did very well, considering. She wasn't happy to have all that pain when she awoke.
She cried, and I held her in the recovery room as they took the IV out of her left arm. The nurses and staff at the outpatient center were attentive, answering our every question.
We took the slow trip back to Georgetown in the Cube (still no van 'til next week), and she dozed lightly with mom keeping her company in the back seat. Since then she's taken her Tylenol 3 (with yummy Codeine) and 2 popsicles.

Easter? What Easter? It's "Ressurection Sunday"

This year, I was puzzling over the word 'Easter' itself. Doesn't seem to have any religious connection, does it? All the Latin-derived languages borrow from "Pesach," the Hebrew word for passover.
Surprise, Easter is named for an Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring. Traditionally the goddess Eoastre saved a frozen bird by turning it into a bunny. A bunny who could lay eggs, like a bird. BANG--"Easter Bunny"
For me, this Easter has been a real bust. Really, the whole Lenten season, too. Usually, I get into everything from Ash Wednesday through Pentecost--purification, focus on religious life, prayer. This year, it's been a succession of issues: Pregnancy, Mom's cancer returning, ongoing illness in my wife & kids, work, a car accident, dealing with insurance company. This weekend's been the exclamation point on that--missed our Good Friday chorale because of shuttling J, then missed Easter because J's got stomach flu. Three roundtr…

Review: Nissan Cube (Loaner)

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Since March 22nd, my family's been tooling around in a Nissan Cube.


Let's be honest: We hate it. We miss our Honda Odyssey and look forward to its return. Heck, this thing makes me yearn for the consistent handling, quiet competence of my 10 year old Toyota Camry.
Yep. This brick is Hello Kitty with wheels, and yikes has it overstayed its welcome.
For those who don't know, a Nissan Cube is a Nissan Versa with a different body. A Nissan Versa is the smallest Nissan automobile sold in America, featuring a coarse 122 hp 1.8L engine and a Continuously Variable Transmission. Pic of the versa:


Beauty is subjective, but I'd say ugly is obvious. How these TWO rolling monstrosities made it past clay models is beyond me. Anywho...
So, what you have with the Cube is a box-it-came-in car, with amazing interior space. Let me describe what it's like to drive this car: Imagine driving your patio deck around with an underpowered engine and Satan's own transmission. T…

And that's married life....

Chat convo with my wife:
Bella: I'm gonna need that $ back.
Harvid: Sure, right after I put that deposit down on that motorcycle
Bella: Oh, so you're leaving me then?
Harvid: Oh, didn't the guy show up with the papers? ;)

Review: "How Starbucks Saved my Life"

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Finished reading this book Saturday night
It was an interesting tale of an entitled, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) whose life completely unravelled in his late 50's. This true story follows Michael Gates Gill, son of Brendan Gill of The New Yorker magazine fame, graduate of Yale, member of Skull & Bones. Gill's never worked a real job in his life--he moved from Yale to a prestigious Madison Avenue ad agency, living a jet-set life and leaving his kids behind. As he entered his 50's, he got downsized and went home (for the first time, really) to a wife he didn't know and children who grew up without him. He descended further, carrying-on an affair with a younger woman and fathering a child at 60 years old. Then his wife left him. Then his ad clients stopped calling him back.
Then he had a young African American woman ask him at Starbucks: "Do you want a job today?" Yes. Yes, he did, and so begins our story.
The book is a very quick read, with t…

Notes from the 2010 Louisville Auto show

I'll get some pics up soon...just some thoughts from attending the 2010 Louisville Auto show
It's much better going with your 3 year old daughter than with your 1 year old daughter. Maria was my wingman...er...wingdaughter. Awesome!The Ford display triumphed. They had position right in front of the entrance, and the cars were great. They (understandably) didn't have the 2011 5.0 Mustang GT on display--who would by the 2010 4.6? The new Taurus is incredible. Great styling. Sumptuous interior. I can't believe this platform began as the VW Passat-derivative Five Hundred. It's a completely different car just when America's ready to return to cars after gorging on SUV's for 20 years.That being said, the new Fiesta's too small. Unless they can make money on this car at $14k or less, forget it. People will buy the redesigned Focus instead.Toyota's display, right next to the entrance as well, was a ghost town. I felt sorry for these guys as the…

Kentucky's broke...wait, What?I

I live in a dysfunctional state.
Actually scratch that...I live in a dysfunctional Commonwealth.
Looking at this logically: We have 4.3 million peopleWe rank 22nd in population densityWe have a state sales tax of 6%, except on foodstuffs.We have a state income tax of 6%, basically for everybody.We pay property tax assessed on cars, yearly.We pay property tax on LEASED CARS. Think about that for a minute.Lots of our local municipalities levee income taxes as wellYeah, so of course we're flat broke. Comically so, like your friend who's lived off credit cards for the last 10 years, then can't convince Citibank to up his limit.
There are some bright spots. Crit Luallen, our auditor, is a gem. She's the all-seeing eye. She causes embezzlers and graft-takers to shudder, as they should. When things go wrong, she arrives like a pissed off Darth Vader hunting Princess Leia. (As my commenter, Dash, corrected me, the muckrakers at the Herald-Leader play a huge role, as wel…

The weekend that was, and other musings

Trying to journal a few things from the past weekend:My wife likes Ducatis and Triumphs. She thinks that a Nighthawk 250 and the Honda Rebel are ridiculously too small for me. In other news, I actually got Whitney to go to a motorcycle shop with me :-)I'm considering selling some of my Voigtlander R1 Rangefinder kit, particularly the 15mm Heliar f/4.5 and the 90mm f/3.5. I haven't snapped any pictures with this camera in 2 years, and the 35mm and cannon 50mm f/1.2 are good enough. I keep waiting for the day when my kids go, "What's that stuff you're putting into that camera? 'Film'...is that like a coating for light sensor? Where's the 32GB memory card go in that thing? What do you mean it doesn't use BATTERIES!?"I had chills and low-grade fever Saturday evening through Sunday morning, and still don't feel 100%Currently reading Peter Egan's excellent compillation Side Glances. It's much the same old stuff--Peter buying old…

Review: James Cameron's 'Avatar'

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I paid $4.00 at a matinee to watch Avatar, now 3 weeks after its worldwide release. The 2.5 hour video gamemovie amazed me, and at the same time, its overarching vanity and irony haunts me. Let's talk.
The movie itself tells the story of former marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington)'s journey the new world Pandora, where he's embedded with a corporate mining operation of 'Unobtainium', a mineral essential to old Terra. Jake takes over for his Ph.D. identical twin, who's killed months before he's supposed to ship out to be an Avatar driver. In return, they'll fix his paraplegic legs after his 6 year hitch on Pandora.
Pandora's an earth-like planet orbiting a gas giant with several other moons (think Titan, only habitable). Not only habitable...the planet's teaming with life, including an indiginous group of 10 foot tall blue natives, the Na'vi. The Avatar drivers remote-control company-grown Na'vi bodies, enabling them to walk and ta…

Niches: Blogs versus Facebook/Twitter/*

Yes, the blogging fad is over.
When it was invented, blogging was a giant leap beyond "creating your own website" by hand-coding HTML or using a program to 'publish' your site. Suddenly, you could type out your thoughts, embed images and let some other program handle all the layouts, storage, archiving, and hosting. Blogging exploded.
However, blogging is lonely, hierarchical. Comments made it better, allowing you to engage with other people. Still, it's not a *conversation*. It's like standing in a room with one person yelling statements and thoughts, then yelling 'Whatta ya think of that?'
So, sites like MySpace (*shudder*), Facebook (yay), and Twitter flattened that all out. You weren't the tip of a conversational pyramid; you were part of a web of conversing people. Sometimes, you can be blabby; other times, you can just hang out.
So where did that leave blogging? The 90% of blogging that was "here's what I'm doing today…

Cars I've owned in the Awful Aughts

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So, here we are, at the end of the Awful Aughts. The automobile in America has pretty much jumped the shark, maybe for good (Exact moment: The day the movie 'Cars' was released).
Still, I'm a gearhead. I'll die a gearhead. The 2000's coincided with my twenties; having no debt to speak of, a well-paying job, and no one to answer to besides myself, I wasted as much of my own money and my inheritance on cars as I could. Motorcycles are much cheaper and more fun...wish I'd figured that out 10 years ago. Anyway, onward. This list is pretty-much chronological:
* 1995 Nissan 200SX SE-R: (140hp/FWD). Nickname: "Little Green". My parents bought me this car, brand new, when I was 16. I drove the crap out of it until 2001, when I traded it (and my soul) for a VW Jetta. This car was my first love. I dated my future wife in this car. Yes, it got some rattles after SIX YEARS OF ABUSE. Honestly, I redlined this car every time I drove it if I could.
* 200…