Thursday, 29 March 2007

links for 2007-03-29

posted at 9:22 AM in links
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Wednesday, 28 March 2007


I didn’t used to be one for custom ringtones on my mobile phone. When I got my Sony Ericsson T616 a few years back, the only additional ringtone I used on it, other than Sony Ericsson’s fairly nice included set, was a ring that sounded like an old telephone. But when that phone went belly up, I ended up with the Motorola V551 (since replaced by a V557). The ringtone selection that came with the Moto was anemic, and you can bet I wasn’t shelling out three bucks for ringtones from Cingular AT&T.

I’ve become one of those people who can’t stand the default rings on most phones, and for whatever reason it irks me when someone’s phone rings in public and you can instantly tell it’s a Nokia, or a Motorola, or they’re with Cingular AT&T, or Verizon, because they never bothered to change the default ring. And so many people don’t change the default ring, how do you ever know it’s your phone that’s ringing when you’re out in public?

But I digress. Yes, there are plenty of of free ringtones available online, but this time around I thought I would just make my own. One copy of iTunes, one copy of Audio Hijack, and voila!—instant custom ringtones. I only needed 22 seconds of any particular song, as that’s how long the Moto rings before it goes to voice mail.

The first song I ripped was The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. The synthesizer at the beginning makes a great ringtone, and people always seem to look at me with a sense of wonderment when they see it’s my phone making that sound. They may not be able to place the music at first, but they know they’ve heard it somewhere before. This is my default ringer.

The other song I ripped was New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle”. This ringtone was applied to all of my wife’s numbers in my address book.

“Bizarre Love Triangle”?? Really, Chris?

Yes, I know it may sound odd to have a song so named be the default anthem for whenever your one and only beloved calls, but there’s a profound and sensible reason behind this.

Oh, this should be good.

Oh it is. You see, when I was in high school, I was a metalhead. Oh, I didn’t necessarily hang out with the metalhead crowd, but I was in to heavy metal and hard rock, with a little punk thrown in on the side. This was my big teenage rebellion; having grown up on a lot of classic country (some of which I still enjoy), along with Neil Diamond and other assorted light pop, I went a different direction, musically. This is nothing new; the kids who followed Elvis and The Beatles were rebelling against their parents’ choice of music, too.

My wife, on the other hand, was in to the “New Wave” stuff, the alternative stuff of the ’80s before it took on something of a grungification in the ’90s. One of the groups she followed was New Order.

After we met in college and began dating, I was gradually exposed to this world of music her high school years had been spent in, and out of all of that, there were a handful of songs by New Order that I could stand, and a couple I actually liked. “Bizarre Love Triangle” was by far my favorite New Order song. So because it was something from my wife’s past that I grew to like, thus becoming something we now share, and it has that cool opening to the song, that’s how it became the custom ringtone for when my wife calls me on my mobile.

Okay, okay. That’s pretty good.

See? I told you. Now, you’ve read this far, and you’re probably wondering why the heck I’m bothering to tell you all of this. Here’s the payoff:

I’ve been using BLT as my wife’s ringtone for coming up on a couple of years now. Yesterday, in the Pilot on the way to the little phisch’s karate class, my phone rings. “Bizarre Love Triangle” begins to play, and the from the back seat, without any input from me whatsoever, the little phisch cries out, “It’s Mommy calling!!”

This morning, my wife is taking the little phisch to school, and on the radio, what song should happen to come on? You guessed it. At this point the little phisch cries out, “It’s Daddy’s phone!!”

Kids have amazing minds.

posted at 11:32 AM in music , parenting
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links for 2007-03-28

posted at 9:20 AM in links
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38 Pitches

Red Sox ace Curt Schilling is blogging.

(And for all the geeks, he’s using WordPress.)

posted at 12:53 AM in baseball , tech
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Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Time to switch to Yahoo! Mail?

TechCrunch is reporting that Yahoo! has announced unlimited storage for all email accounts, beginning May 2007. Gosh, just in time to be ready for all those new iPhone users…

[Via Michael Arrington on Twitter.]

posted at 8:30 PM in iphone , tech
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Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades…and thermonuclear weapons

So dropping game four this past Sunday was a little frustrating. I can’t speak for the rest of the team, but that’s how I felt. Our opponent played a make-up game just before our scheduled bout, so you’d think they would be more tired than usual, but in reality it appeared to have just been a decent warm-up for them.

We got behind early, again, but would tighten up as the game worn on. We just couldn’t quite come all the way back, and we lost by two runs. As a team, we weren’t as patient at the plate as we should have been, and that went double for yours truly. I was two for four on the day; one of my outs was a pop-up, the other a grounder back to the pitcher. On both of those, I should’ve been more patient. My best hit of the day was my first, a deep single I ripped to left-center that scored two runs.

Defensively, I was at shortstop, and had a little action, but spent a goodly portion of the game playing cutoff man to the left side outfielders.

Once again, if we would have had time for another inning, we may have been able to pull this one out. That’s how close it was coming down the stretch. If we could be as tight at the outset of a game as we get midway through, we’d have no problems overcoming run deficits.

In the end, though, it’s still just a game, and while winning’s always more fun than losing, it’s getting to play that keeps me going back. There’s always next week!

posted at 11:45 AM in softball
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links for 2007-03-27

posted at 9:20 AM in links
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Thursday, 22 March 2007

links for 2007-03-22

posted at 9:23 AM in links
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Wednesday, 21 March 2007

The duel

Monday evening a promise was kept and shopping commenced for a lightsaber for the little phisch. We charted a course toward the Toys R Us system, arriving there just a few parsecs after dinner time. (It might’ve been faster if Solo had loaned us the Falcon, but whatever, he’s too busy dodging Imperial cruisers or something.)

The purchase was made of a blue lightsaber, because we figured this would juxtapose nicely with my own double-bladed, red lightsaber. (And, more importantly, it was the only color in stock.)

Alas, by the time we arrived back home at Echo Base, it was bed time for the little phisch, so any dueling with Daddy would have to wait another day. The new lightsaber spent the night on the night stand next to the boy’s bed.

Last night, the promised duel was held. The missus insisted it take place outside, so on to the back deck we went. Daddy only used one of his saber’s blades, to, you know, keep things “fair”. Both of us had an awesome time.

The little phisch held nothing back. Every swing of his blade was meant for limb severing, for disemboweling, for decapitation (if he could have reached my neck, that is). My knuckles held the proof of his relentless onslaught.

I also learned a bit of how Count Dooku and Palpatine must’ve felt going up against Yoda: it’s actually tough countering the attacks of someone half your size. That, and since I was seeking to have fun with my little guy without causing injury, played a part in my own defense and counterattack.

(For the record, yes, I injured the boy, but it was a tap on the shoulder that didn’t even leave a mark, and he was quickly over it.)

The little phisch is also quite the drama king. He has a great fake death scene, acting it out more than once when I stabbed him in the tummy. We should get video of that.

posted at 4:56 PM in Star Wars , fun , parenting
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Kottke on Twitter

Picked up Jason Kottke’s thoughts on Twitter from Gruber, but for me, I thought the interesting part of Jason’s remarks came after the bit John quoted.

For people with little time, Twitter functions like an extremely stripped-down version of MySpace. Instead of customized pages, animated badges, custom music, top 8 friends, and all that crap, Twitter is just-the-facts-ma’am: where are my friends and what are they up to?

Twitter’s like Flickr without the images.

When one thing (i.e. Twitter) is easier than something else (i.e. blogging) and offers almost the same benefits, people will use it.

I have a MySpace account, but I rarely use it. I’m certain part of that is age-related, but the other bit is that I already have my own blog, on my own domain, so why do I need to reinvent the wheel over on MySpace? (Other than the juvenile reason of not wanting anyone else to have “”, I’m hard-pressed to explain why I even bothered.)

But there are bits of life’s detritus that I don’t feel like going through the trouble of blogging, and I think my Twitter account is a great place for those to accumulate, and it’s a heck of a lot easier, as Kottke points out, than either blogging or MySpace.

posted at 3:44 PM in Twitter
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Quote of the day

From Amy Gruber, on Twitter:

What’s worse than going to a bachelorette party at a male strip club? Going with your mom.

posted at 12:33 AM in Twitter , fun , quote
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Tuesday, 20 March 2007

links for 2007-03-20

posted at 9:30 AM in links
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Monday, 19 March 2007

Happy days are here again

Ameriquest Field is no more. Long live Rangers Ballpark in Arlington!

Personally, I could have done without the addition of “Rangers” to the original name for the park, but I can live with it. I never cared for the corporatization of The Ballpark’s name; why would you rush to rename your ball field when it has such a classic name as “The Ballpark at Arlington”? I pretty much refused to dignify the corporate name by speaking it, and have continued, lo these many years, to simply refer to it as “The Ballpark”. And now it’s “The Ballpark”—only with “Rangers” in there, too—once again.

Best of all, that stupid bell in the left field mid deck is gone, gone, gone!

posted at 8:39 PM in baseball
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Real faith

Mike Messerli:

There’s a lot of discussion about faith these days. I hear many on Television telling me it’s a force. They tell me that I can “use” my faith and make things happen. I have watched as many of them worship at the altar of faith and elevate it above the God who is supposed to be the object of their faith.

Let me simplify this a little. The bible makes it clear that faith is simply a dependance on someone else to do for me what I cannot do myself. Real biblical faith is trusting God, and believing he will really do what he says. That’s it! It’s not hard. It’s not a lever I pull to get a jackpot. It’s not a formula that I can work to get God to act.

[Emphasis added. —R]

posted at 1:26 PM in God
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Dropping number three

So yesterday was the third game of the spring softball season, and we faced for the first time—this season—the good folks from Flower Mound United Methodist Church. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I really like playing against these ladies and gentlemen. Lots of kindred spirits, they keep the game in perspective, and yes, it’s really a lot of fun to win, but if you can’t do that, at least have fun playing the game.

The first inning was a back-and-forth affair, the score 1-1, our team playing the role of the visitor. The second inning we became unraveled, with their tacking on something like five or six runs. Before we knew it, we were down by seven, 9-2. Our defense tightened, but our hitting couldn’t get anywhere.

In the fifth inning, we staged something of a comeback, closing the run gap to only three, before we took our first out, but then it was two in a row, one of our hitters got on, and then the last out to end the game.

It was a decent day for myself at the plate, going two for three. I didn’t see a lot of action on defense, being in right-center. Had some stuff drop way short in front of me, which was surprising since the hitters were men, and no, they weren’t trying to place the ball there, they were popping up and going just deep enough to get behind the second baseman. Two shots were deep, but high enough to pick up for easy catches. (Though the wind yesterday was hell on figuring out initial trajectory.) I’m just glad that nothing got behind me.

We were missing a couple of our regulars, due to this being the first weekend of spring break for our school system, so things weren’t quite running as smoothly as they might have otherwise. But it was an enjoyable game, and I, at least, had fun playing.

posted at 1:03 AM in softball
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Suddenly I’m thinking…

…that it might be time to do a little shopping.

posted at 12:42 AM in firearms
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Friday, 16 March 2007

The newbie’s guide to Twitter

It’s been difficult trying to explain Twitter to some of my friends and family. (My wife just doesn’t get it.)

Thanks to Twitter’s “unpaid evangelist”, Robert Scoble, I came across Rafe Needleman’s great intro to the Twitterverse. Read, join, add me as a friend.

posted at 12:07 AM in Twitter , fun , tech
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Thursday, 15 March 2007

links for 2007-03-15

posted at 9:26 AM in links
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Wednesday, 14 March 2007

links for 2007-03-14

posted at 9:24 AM in links
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Tuesday, 13 March 2007

It happened

Last night, the missus had a work-related dinner to attend, so it was a guy night in the phisch bowl. The little phisch consumed mixed veggies and fish sticks (the irony of this statement is not lost on me), whereas I consumed mixed veggies with leftover red beans & rice. And we watched Star Wars.

The first attempt at the viewing with my son of the movie which made such a tremendous impression upon me when I was six was met with some…boredom. He knew who some of the characters were, after all. I don’t think you can know me at all, or swim in this tank we call home, without encountering, in some random, non-deliberate fashion, characters from the Star Wars universe. But we never really made it through that first viewing of the movie. Not together, anyway. While he decided he was bored and went off to play with Thomas on the train table, or roll Lightning McQueen around the floor, I finished watching the movie.

Because, c’mon, it’s Star Wars.

I’m not sure what changed between then and now. Perhaps it was my receiving the entire Star Wars Mr. Potato Head collection for my birthday this past December. Darth Tater, Storm Tater, and R2 Tater have all occupied a place of semi-honor in the formal dining room, and the little phisch has been allowed to play with them. We’ve read this Luke Skywalker children’s book I picked up two years ago at the Friends of the Flower Mound Library fund raiser. But we haven’t really talked about the movie all that much.

So I was pleased when I was greeted with a enthusiastic response after suggesting Star Wars last night. After dinner, we enjoyed watching about an hour of it.

He asked a lot of questions. A lot. I’m not sure I can begin to describe the totality of “a lot of questions” to those of you who do not have three year-old boys.

Bed time was approaching, and we agreed to stop the movie after an upcoming scene. The missus arrived home just about that time, the movie was stopped, and the bedtime rituals commenced.

The payoff came this morning.

I stumbled downstairs, where the missus and little phisch were already eating breakfast, and on the TV I’m greeted by…Star Wars. Han and Luke are firing down the detention bay while Leia’s already diving in to the garbage chute, and Chewie’s complaining about the smell.

I’m informed, “Daddy, those are stormtroopers!”

I smiled, gave him a pat on the head, and turned so the missus wouldn’t see the tears welling up. It’s done. He’s converted.

Oh, I forgot to mention he wants his own lightsaber now. He told me last night.

Where are the tissues?

posted at 11:03 AM in Star Wars , fun , movie , parenting
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Monday, 12 March 2007

The new shirt arrived today

The new shirt arrived today

posted at 3:50 PM in God , Macintosh , fun
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How much has actually changed

Mark Steyn, in the introduction to America Alone:

1970 doesn’t seem that long ago. If you’re in you fifties or sixties, as many of the chaps running the Western world are wont to be, your pants are narrower than they were back then and your hair’s less groovy, but the landscape of your life—the look of your house, the layout of your car, the shape of your kitchen appliances, the brand names of the stuff in the fridge—isn’t significantly different. And yet that world is utterly altered. Just to recap those bald statistics: in 1970, the developed nations had twice as big a share of the global population as the Muslim world: 30 percent to 15 percent. By 2000, they were at parity: each had about 20 percent.

And by 2020?

September 11, 2001, was not “the day everything changed,” but the day that revealed how much had already changed. On September 10, how many journalists had the Council on American-Islamic Relations or the Canadian Islamic Congress or the Muslim Council of Britian in their Rolodexes? If you’d said that whether something does or does not cause offense to Muslims would be the early twenty-first century’s principal political dynamic in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom, most folks would have thought you were crazy. Yet on that Tuesday morning the top of the iceberg bobbed up and toppled the Twin Towers.

This book is about the seven-eighths below the surface—the larger forces at play in the developed world that have left Europe too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia and that call into question the future of much of the rest of the world, including the United States, Canada, and beyond. The key factors are:

  1. Demographic decline
  2. The unsustainability of the advanced Western social-democratic state
  3. Civilizational exhaustion

Let’s start with demography, because everything does.

I’m already enthralled.

posted at 3:35 PM in national security , non-fiction , read
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Today’s observations of the humans

The first observation took place as I was nearing the end of my lunch. I was still masticating the remnants of fried corn tortillas, the rest of the meal vanquished, when a mother and her daughter were seated in the booth behind me. Seated as I was, I was able to view them as they entered the restaurant, interacted with the hostess/waitress, and moved to their table. The mother was on her mobile phone the entire time.

It was obvious from her side of the conversation this was a good friend, and the conversation was quite pleasant, resulting in a few giggles and laughs. The conversation continued throughout the seating process, the delivery of the menus, paused briefly to place drink orders, then continued. At about this point I lost interest, returning my full focus to the contents of the magazine I had brought with me.

The judgmental thought which entered my mind was this: what must this woman’s daughter think of the fact that they are out to lunch on a school day and her mother is on the phone?

Now this young lady may have thought nothing of it. She appeared to be the age of those attending middle school, and may have cared less that her mother was on the phone. Certainly there are those in their teen and pre-teen years who are thoroughly embarrassed to be seen in public with their parents, even if there is little or no chance of their being seen by their peers. She may have had this attitude.

She may have also wondered how in the world her mother could ignore her by continuing to chat on the phone with a friend.

Perhaps lunch between mother and daughter is nothing special. Plenty of us go out to eat or eat at home with some sort of constant interruption. For myself, we’re making a concerted effort to have media turned off and phones put away during dinner at home. The little phisch isn’t old enough for GameBoys or PSPs yet, so when we’re out to eat—and I don’t see why parents allow their children to play with such devices while they’re eating out—we don’t have that distraction, and we minimize the interruption by the mobile phone.

Behind my wife and child, I love my parents more than anyone else on this blue marble, but I’d still ask them if I could call them back when we’re finished eating. There is a part of me looking forward to the day when I say to a friend or family member, “Hey, I’d really like to talk more about this, but can I call you back? I’m having lunch with my son.”

* * *

The second observation took place shortly thereafter, as I transported from the restaurant to the grocery store for a few staples. As I entered the checkout line, I observed two women in front of me, of similar height and similar dress. The one closest to me was clearly a young lady, most likely high school age, perhaps early college. From the look and dress of the other woman with her, my first instinct was that of a friend.

I learned soon enough, however, when the second woman turned to pay the cashier, that she was in fact the young lady’s mother.

On the one hand, I think that if a woman has the figure to wear the same clothes as her daughter, more power to her. On the other hand, there is a part of me that wants to scream, “Grow up already!”

* * *

The final observation for this post concerned the time in transport from the grocery to my abode. I have long been fascinated by the concept of “talking with one’s hands”, and I do not refer to sign language when I say this. Some people can simply not help but gesticulate while speaking. This goes beyond the mere use of gestures to get a point across. It is as if, as my mother put it, some people would suddenly go mute if you were to tie their hands behind their back. Either that, or their bodies would convulse wildly to compensate.

Such was the nature of the man in the pickup truck in front of me. His left hand held a mobile to his ear, while his right hand gestured repeatedly throughout the conversation. He was, quite simply, driving with nothing more than one wrist. This was deeply troubling. Granted, we were never above approximately forty miles an hour with regard to our speed, but his behavior could have led to disastrous consequences. It made me ponder whether I should keep a stash of hands-free sets in my vehicle to toss at random to such persons.

posted at 2:41 PM in that's life
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Sunday, 11 March 2007


I totally forgot to blog about the spring softball season opener last week, so for those of you who could really care less, here’s all there is to know up through today’s play.

There are only four teams in the league this season, which is kind of crummy, but this just means we play everyone three times instead of the usual two. The newcomers are from Westside, and I don’t know if that’s Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, or whatever; I should have asked them when we played them today, but just like forgetting to blog about the game last week…

Right, last week. We opened against Faith Lutheran, and to sum up, our hitting didn’t show up and theirs did. We chalked it up to the team gelling—we’ve got a few new players—and getting back in to the rhythm of play. Like the rest of the team, my own time at the plate wasn’t well spent. I was only one of three, including hitting in to a fielder’s choice.

I was in left-center while on defense. I let one ball get behind me, and another took a wicked doink! off my glove, both of which allowed for extra bases. I owned the third inning, though. All three outs came at the expense of their hitting my way, and it was especially pleasing to get that last out while on the run.

So the first game was a loss, but we were optimistic about the future, and we’ll have two more cracks at the Lutherans.

Today we played Westside, and it’s always interesting playing a team for the first time. They won the toss and elected to bat first, and the first inning didn’t go well for us, with their scoring five runs. The extra bases were usually a case of our team trying to make something happen when we would’ve been better off just hanging on to the ball. We put a run on the board, but gave up another in the top of second. But then it was time for our bats, to quote one Pedro Cerrano, “to wake up”.

The end result was a 17-8 victory for our squad. Our defense settled down and tightened up as the game progressed. I was at short this time around, and had a chance at turning a double play twice, but couldn’t manage either. I took a cleat-clad toe to the knee while tagging one guy out at second, so that’s slightly swollen and aching quite nicely, thanks. The injury streak continues!

My pal Brad was monster at the plate today, ripping an in-the-park homer his first time up, putting a few runs on the board. His second trip to the plate was a triple which netted us at least one more run. No chance at hitting the cycle, though, as with only an hour to play, he only had one more at-bat, and popped out to left-center.

I was .667 at the plate today, with an unintentional bunt my first time up. Hey, it advanced a runner, and I made it to first without a throw even being attempted. (I may be chunky, but I’m quick.) I’ll take it. My last at-bat was my best thus far in the early season, a shot in to left-center I should’ve stretched in to a double: I thought the fielder had made a good catch off the ground and was coming up throwing, so I trotted back to first when I could’ve been going to second. Oh, well; the base coach thought he was going to get the ball back in quick, too. I did bring in two runs on that shot, so I’m hoping that’s a trend for the rest of the season. My RBI total this past fall was paltry.

So the team’s at five hundred two games in, and we played much better during this second game. Things look to be a little tough for us next week; we’ll be short one of our gals (meaning with only nine players we have to take an out at the top of the batting order), and we’ll be playing our friends from Flower Mound UMC. Of course, this latter means I’m really looking forward to the game, as it’s always fun playing against them.

posted at 8:36 PM in softball
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Quite the memory

The memory capacity of three year-olds is amazing.

As we were wrapping up dinner, my wife put forth the possibility of our going out for some ice cream for dessert. We kept this to ourselves for a few moments, thinking we may need to use it as a possible bribe with the little phisch. We did not have to, thankfully, and when we mentioned going out for ice cream, he stated he wanted “Cookie Monster Ice Cream!”

Cookie Monster Ice Cream?!?!?

So on the way to Emack & Bolio’s, the missus and I are wondering if this is one of their flavors. If it is, then we would be suitably impressed, as the last time we were at E&B’s, it was before Christmas, and the little phisch remembered having it more than three months ago.

We walk in the door, and sure enough, there it is: Cookie Monster Ice Cream. Cookies and cream, with chocolate-chip cookie dough mixed in. One kid’s cup was ordered up.

The boy has some memory.

This could be trouble.

posted at 7:08 PM in food , parenting
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Tough but worth it

Now see, the hamburger was his idea.

There was a discussion about going to grab a bite to eat, then drop by the shoe store to pick the little phisch up some new sandals. For lunch, he wanted to go to the “apple place”. (No, techno-nerds, not that “apple place”.)

As we pulled in to the parking lot, Mommy asked if he wanted chicken fingers and fries, his customary meal at the “apple place”. After a second or two of silence, he replied, “I want a hamburger.” Mommy and I exchanged glances.

From that moment, until we actually placed the order with the waitress, we repeatedly checked that he was still on message. Did he want chicken and fries? No, he wanted a hamburger. Do you want cheese on the hamburger. Yes. Do you want chicken and fries? No, a hamburger, with fries. Okay. A hamburger with cheese, with fries.

About three or four bites in to the hamburger, it apparently lost its luster. Then the struggle began, most of the heavy lifting being done by Mommy, as she was the one sitting next to the little phisch. As any parent with a toddler will tell you, the point of bribery was reached—this time rather quickly, given the circumstances—and bites of hamburger were exchanged for more fries. More quickly than we would have thought possible, the bribery stopped working.

Then the whining set in, following swiftly by sniffling, and then that slow-building, deep-from-the-pit-of-the-stomach-and-hell-itself mournful wail that sets any parent’s teeth on edge, especially when in a public place.

Fortunately, Mommy and I had finished our meal, the bill swiftly arrived, and we paid. The little phisch did not want to leave, of course, he wanted more fries. Our getting up from the table led him to throw himself on to the floor and begin the launch in to full-blown tantrum. At this point I had to scoop him up and carry him out, nearly tossed over my shoulder like a thirty-pound bag of dog food, his cry of “More french fries!” resounding in my ear.

As he was loaded in to the car, his plaintive wail for more fries continuing, it was explained to him that he could have had more fries, but he chose to not do what was asked of him. The tantrum erupted, and continued as he realized we were not, in fact, going to look at sandals, but were instead heading home because someone had hit his wall after going ninety miles an hour the entire morning, most of which had been the province of Mommy to oversee, and she was exhausted, too. “More french fries!” was replaced by “I don’t want to go home…”

But to home we did go. He had mostly quieted by the time we pulled in to the driveway, and allowed Mommy to remove him from his seat and carry him inside. Once in the house, however, the tantrum started up again, and I had to again throw him over my shoulder and carry his kicking and screaming body up the stairs and to his room. Mommy followed behind, and after a few minutes was able to get him to calm down. Still a few minutes later, he asked for me.

“I want to snuggle,” he told me, so I lay down beside him in his bed, and he folded himself in to the crook of my arm, resting his head on my shoulder/chest. After a few seconds, he told me he wanted covers, so I pulled the sheet up over his legs. Then he wanted Snoopy, and I reached down to grab the Peanuts mutt, handing it to him. He was quiet for a minute or so, then he wrapped his fingers around my thumb, his fist swallowing the digit, and gave a squeeze.

“I love you, Daddy.”

And everything from the past half-hour disappeared.

The Peace Corps, for all its good work, has it wrong. That is not the toughest job I would ever love. I’ve already got that job, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

posted at 1:39 PM in parenting
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Saturday, 10 March 2007

I love how Dewey thinks

Unshelved comic
If the comic is too small to read, click on it to go to the Unshelved page.

posted at 3:09 PM in fun , read
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First photos with the 400D

My first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix, the model number of which I cannot recall, but it was one of those swivel-body jobs, purchased in 2000 prior to our first trip to the Hawaiian Islands. This was later sold to a friend when, a few months prior to the birth of our son, I got a Canon PowerShot G3.

The G3 died last week, its sensor having given up the ghost. (Though apparently not entirely giving up the ghost; what you get on the LCD and in photos is an ethereal quality, something like a film negative only much more otherworldly. I’m sure there’s a horror movie plot in there somewhere.)

I had been wanting to step up in to the digital SLR (dSLR) world for a while, and knew I would make the leap with Canon’s 400D (the Digital Rebel XTi in the U.S., but 400D sounds much better, is easier to say, and definitely easier to type). Yesterday, my 400D arrived from B & H Photo, and after charging the battery, I set the lens and camera on auto and took some test shots in the backyard.

Click on the photo to see the entire set.

I have a lot to learn, but I’m looking forward to it. Ever since my parents got a Kodak Disc Camera for me during middle school, photography has held a certain fascination, much more so than video has. (Which explains why we have a ton more photos of our son than we do video.) I inherited my dad’s old 35mm, which saw a ton of use shooting black-and-white rolls when I was on the yearbook staff as a high school senior. A Minolta 35mm, which we still have and sits in a closet, went with us to the United Kingdom in ‘95, and elsewhere, until the Nikon came along. Since then, with a few exceptions, I’ve shot entirely on digital, and I’m happy to be back in the SLR world with the 400D.

posted at 11:36 AM in photography
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Thursday, 08 March 2007

links for 2007-03-08

posted at 8:26 AM in links
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Wednesday, 07 March 2007

Recently added

New additions to my ever-increasing Amazon wish list:

Just thought the readership might be interested in some of these titles for their own reading (and learning) pleasure. (And in the interest of full disclosure, all of the above links are through my Amazon affiliate ID.)

posted at 11:32 AM in fiction , non-fiction , read
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links for 2007-03-07

  • an extendable monopod that allows you to take a photo of yourself and anyone who happens to be with you, without having to ask a stranger to take the photo for you
  • Mix tapes for the 21st century
  • “Video messaging in a blink.” No software to install, and you can subscribe to videos via RSS, a la a video podcast in iTunes
    (tags: email tools)
  • “The Granite™ USB 2.0 HIGH-SPEED Bridge Adapter allows any 2.5”, 3.5” or 5.25” SATA or IDE Drive to quickly be attached to any computer. This is the perfect tool to duplicate, copy, backup, or transfer large amount of data from one drive to another.”
posted at 8:29 AM in links
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Tuesday, 06 March 2007

Jobs using iPhone in the wild

Flickr user Thane Plambeck captured a shot of Steve Jobs using a test iPhone in the wild:

According to Thane, “Yes, the photo is for real, and yes it is an iPhone that he was talking on, or at least it was the same size and shape. He took it out of his pocket to make calls using the touchscreen.” He adds, “It’s not like this isn’t public information that they’re developing the iPhone, and I wasn’t surprised to see him using one (presumably they’re testing prototypes or something). I just thought it was kind of cool that he was using one.”

As Thane says, not really surprising, but cool nonetheless.

posted at 1:19 AM in iphone
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Hoo goes there?

Taking the garbage to the curb tonight, my eye caught winged movement to my right. I looked up to see a bird alighting on one my neighbor’s gables. This wasn’t a bird the size of a robin or some similar worm feeder. This was definitely a bird of prey, and what birds of prey hunt at night, dear children?

A few minutes later, I followed the lads out in to the backyard, them to do their business before we retired for the evening, me to see if I could spot the owl with my flashlight without said light finding its way into neighboring windows. Both of the dogs reacted as the owl flew overhead, and it landed on the very top of the house behind ours, the silhouette unmistakable against the nightly sky of a nearly full moon.

After a few seconds the lads lost interest, but I remained still, except to point my torch at the bird and hit the light. He was facing away from us, but did swivel that head around for a quick peek, the light reflecting orange in his eyes. I killed the light and continued to watch, and about thirty seconds later, off he flew toward another house. And despite the usage of the commonly associated owl call in this post’s title, not a peep out of the bird the entire time I was able to observe him.

I really wish I had some NVGs or a night-vision adapter for my camera, or something. There’s an owl stalking within our neighborhood, and that’s really cool.

posted at 12:55 AM in nature , pet
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Monday, 05 March 2007

Yeah, what he said

Tom’s thoughts on the National Anthem mirror my own.

The missus can regale you with many a tale of Super Bowl, college bowl, NASCAR, baseball, hockey, and other sports viewing wherein I severely critique the anthem singing because they fail in one of the ways Tom speaks of.

Look, we know you’re a good singer. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have been chosen in the first place. And if it’s a major sporting event, we know you’re a great singer.

(Or you’re just the flavor of the month, since we all know popularity doesn’t necessarily reflect impressive skill.)

(We do know that, right?)

posted at 1:41 PM in baseball , football , hockey , rant
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Sunday, 04 March 2007

links for 2007-03-04

posted at 8:21 AM in links
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Saturday, 03 March 2007


My wife has coined a new term for certain members of our household. Last night, as she was scolding Clancy and Winston for some typical doggie misbehavior, she apparently could not decide which one to name first, and it came out “Clanston”. Now the lads have a collective name.

posted at 10:40 AM in pet
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Friday, 02 March 2007

Yeah, I’ll be heading back next week

So, with the spring softball season upon us, I went to the batting cages this afternoon. After a four-month-plus layoff.


The experience started out rather nice. I asked for three tokens (20 balls per token) and forked over my five bucks. The attendant “miscounted” and I went to the cages with four tokens. Must be a slow day.

The first twenty balls were all about just connecting and getting timing down. The second set of twenty were the best of the day, and I was putting them where I wanted to, more or less. After a brief respite, I started on the third set, and could tell I was tiring midway through. Another rest, then the fourth set, and I was pretty much hitting every ball back to the pitcher or shortstop. Mental note: longer rests between sets next time, which would help if other people went with me.

It actually was a slow day at the cages. There was a guy in the other slow-pitch cage, and he left when I started on my third set. There was a guy and gal taking turns in the 75 mph baseball cage, and a mom watched her son in one of the slower-speed baseball cages. So I appreciated the fourth token, even if it didn’t yield desirable results.

posted at 4:18 PM in softball
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ATPM 13.03

Oh, right. The March issue of About This Particular Macintosh is now available. You’d think someone on the editorial staff would be more aware…

Angus decides to reward Microsoft’s recent marketing efforts regarding the Zune and Vista by purchasing a brand-new 17-inch MacBook Pro. Yeah, when I first read his column, I had problems with the logic there, too, but someone informed me it has something to do with this thing called “sarcasm”. In this month’s Bloggable, Wes tracks the biggest news making the circuit of the Mac blogosphere, Steve Jobs’ recent condemnation of DRM for music downloads.

Mark has a quick hit on publishing formats, notably the resistance coming against Microsoft’s Office Open XML, because the words “Microsoft” and “open” go so well together, don’t they? (I like this sarcasm thing. Must note to use it more.) Lee continues his fabulous series, Photoshop for the Curious, this month walking us through color calibration. I really could use one of those monitor calibration tools. Miraz has a great column on web accessibility this month, one I can really relate to, given how I am amongst the spectacled crowd. (We also learn Miraz’s age this month, and please note this was volunteered by the author; our mothers taught us well enough to know better than to ever ask that of a lady.)

This month’s desktop pictures are courtesy of ATPM reader Le Anne Brown, and feature the land of Tasmania (coincidentally, the home of ATPM’s own Tasmanian devil, former staffer Raena Armitage). Strange things are afoot for Cortland at the swing dance-hosting lodge, which appears to be more than meets the eye. Staffer Linus Ly doffs his editorial cap for that of an artisté, introducing the ATPM readership to Qaptain Qwerty.

You may notice a striking similarity between Qaptain Qwerty and the review of Art Text. As a member of the editorial team, allow me to reassure you, this is not accidental. Ed got his hands on a piece of tech that’s found its way on to my personal gear lust list, the SnapScan S500M, by Fujitsu.

I never thought I’d have the opportunity to write, “Ellyn lays the smack down with Smack Mahjong”, but you can’t pass up those opportunities when they present themselves. Finally, Lee reviews the intriguing TuneView from Keyspan: leave your iPod connected to your entertainment system, but have its screen in the palm of your hand with the TuneView remote. Sounds sweet.

As always, you can enjoy About This Particular Macintosh online, or in a manner more appropriate for your reading preference.

posted at 3:12 PM in Macintosh
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