Thursday, February 28, 2008

A what free what now?

Bourbon Mom keeps making me laugh. Well, not with the downer cattle video. But almost all of her posts have something funny.

[ What? ... Really? ... I assumed that it was because of drinking - Well, never mind. Let me try again. Sorry. ]

'Burbanmom keeps making me laugh. And now, using the same mind control techniques she uses to make me laugh, she's making me turn off the TV, the computer, and all that other blinky stuff for one day a week.

Actually maybe it's Melinda's fault. She started this whole thing.

What am I even talking about? The "Take a Technology Free Day" challenge. Here's a doo-dad to prove it's existence:

For the month of March, the idea that for one day a week, you stop using the computer (blasphemy!) and the television (madness!) and the rest of their electronic friends. The rules aren't specific about what's included, but I'm not "going Amish" as Morgan has sometimes wondered. I do think it'll force me out of bad time-wasting habits (especially here on Teh Cyberweb).

I don't think it will be too hard, but I'm interested to find out. And I do have some books that I really need to finish.

And I'll be sure to keep a running blog diary of how each technology free day is going, as it happens...



Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Should we start the countdown yet?

Thirty-seven weeks. Our baby is into the "full term" category at this point. The midwives came over the other night to make sure they could find their way to our house, to see how we're set up, and to go over contingency plans and so on. We even get a "bonus" doula slash third midwife-in-training.

And yes, in case you don't know already, we're planning for a home birth. It's got to be better than our hospital experience. We're also using hypnosis. These two items probably put us on the remotes fringes of normalcy. I remember being normal. What a long strange trip it's been.

Knowledge of these two facts would probably also send most of my relatives into fits and convulsions, made worse by trying to remain polite and not accidentally scream, "WHAT ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZY?!" But if we wait and tell them after the fact, they'll raise admiring eyebrows and become very inquisitive and tell us how cool they think it is. So they'll just have to hold off on that part of the story. We're not highly secretive about it, but that kind of thing doesn't come up. And I don't feel the need to cause undue worry. So there you go.

Meanwhile, the excitement and anticipation is starting to build. We've probably got at least a couple more weeks, but we're about as ready as we'll ever be.

Well, except for picking a name...

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is it just me? It's just me, right?

Just for the record, you're not going to hear me endorsing or campaigning for any Presidential candidate here. It's your own job to do your homework and figure out who you think will do the best job as President. Personally, I haven't heard any candidate saying the stuff I think needs to be said or talking about the stuff that we should be talking about. I'm not much for political commentary, at least in the form I usually find it.

Besides, the fewer of you who vote, the more my vote is worth! So forget that civic duty crap and just skip voting, especially if you haven't taken the time to look into the issues and policies. Let's not pick our government based on what we heard on the teevee that one time.

But I have to share a story. Well, more of a revelation, I guess.

I was driving home from work last night, and alas, I had no audio book. At some point, I turned on the radio, and I heard a bit of Hillary Clinton giving a speech to her supporters - rallying the troops.

There was something vaguely familiar about the sound of her voice, especially when she was raising it to be heard over the crowd. She sounded, well, a little annoying. She sounded like somebody else. It took me a minute to put my finger on it, but it finally came to me.

Hillary Clinton sounded just like Richard Simmons.

Okay, maybe it is just me. But from now on I don't know if I'll be able to listen to Hillary speak without picturing her with frizzy hair, a tank top, and short shorts. This can't be good.

Here's a clip of Hillary, rallying the troops earlier in the campaign, and definitely not plagiarizing Barack Obama:

Here's a clip of Richard Simmons on The Late Show with David Letterman:

Close your eyes and make sure you can tell which is which...


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love is in the air!

With Award Season apparently in full swing, there's love flowing all around the blogosphere. Unfortunately, this particular blog is turning into the place where memes come to die.

I both appreciate and resist these things. There's a fine line between recognizing the effort people put into their blogs, and seeing the whole thing turn into a giant virtual circle jerk. It's also hard to figure out who to pass these things along to, because thanks to the magic of RSS feeds, I have literally dozens of sites I check regularly, and dozens more that I skim semi-regularly. (Actually, I just checked, and I currently have 92 feeds from blogs, news sites and other sources. Yikes.)

Some people post occasional gems, and others provide insights daily. Some make me laugh, and some make me think. And providing a list of three or five or ten always leaves some on the cusp. Just like those college basketball teams who feel slighted when they get edged out of the last slot in the sixty-five team NCAA tournament. So I don't like tagging other people with this stuff. Just like I am a curmudgeon about Valentine's Day. And a scrooge at Christmas. I'd rather share the love any day and every day in a variety of ways.

So thank you to Kate, Chile, and BG for the compliments. I'll find ways to point people to my favorite blogs, don't you worry.

Now, having said enough about that, I have to admit that this "archive meme" is pretty cool. The idea is to dig through old posts and pick out your favorites in the categories of Family, Friends, Self, Something I love, and Anything. I'm very tempted to tag people with this one. But I won't. If you are reading this and you want to play along, do it and leave a comment saying as much.

Here are some of my "greatest hits" based on my own feelings and the feedback of others...


One for Amelia: Little Miss Sunshine
...and one for e5: We're Gonna be Rich
Sorry Baby. Your day will come...


Fun with Bloggers and... (Amelia sneaks her way into this one too.) I could have gone with the Secondhand Baby post, but I don't know if that quite qualifies as "archive" just yet.


My Crazy Scheme as it appeared over at Groovy Green. You can also find links in that one (or dig through archives here) to get the Director's Cut, which is like four times as long.

Something I love:

Chestnuts of (Permaculture) Wisdom. Well, I do love trees. Permaculture is pretty fascinating too. (The good people at Midwest Permaculture just contacted me about using this piece on their site. Cool!)


Life Immitates Art, wherein I accidentally blow our cover by using my son's (and my) real name instead of that catchy pseudonym. Those pesky black helicopters must have been controlling my brainwaves that day. But I guess that tricky blog name doesn't fool them anyway...

And finally, a big public Valentine to my wife, who has been spending this week as a single parent while I am out wining and dining in beautiful San Francisco.

I thought it would be funny to have a picture of myself and my old college roommate drinking beer in some bar with smiles on our faces, juxtaposed with a picture of my eight-months pregnant wife and the two little heathens (miss you all!) looking miserable. But I think that would only be funny if I waited ten years or so first.

For what it's worth, I did everything I could think of to get out of this trip, I've spent most of the week with a migraine, I'm stuck in a classroom all day, and I seem to be coming down with a nasty cough. But Lori's still got the harder task by a long shot. So thank you one more time, my Love.



Monday, February 11, 2008

Secondhand Baby

One day when e5 was particularly frustrated with his sister, he wondered if we couldn't just be done with her and trade her in at the local thrift store. And you know, there are days...

But that's not where I'm going.

Our baby... The new one... The one that's due in a little over a month...

(Jess, since you asked - so far everybody's doing very well, even if the little guy is spending most of his days and nights either having hiccups or playing kickety kick ball. No stories to tell because everything is going just swimmingly on the baby front. But don't worry, the stories will come...)

Anyway, nothing but the best for this kid. We've gathered together the finest hand-crafted mahogany crib suite, with embroidered silk bedding and matching curtains, a personal HD DVD player with satellite link to The Baby Channel... you know, all the usual stuff. And since we sold or gave away all of e5 and Amelia's stuff the last time we moved, we had to buy it all again new.

Of course, you know I'm lying. This poor kid is going to live a deprived, unfulfilling life, and we'll have huge counseling bills when he reaches his teenage years, because as far as I can remember, we have not bought a single thing new for this kid.

My friend Morgan is Central Hub for Baby Things. If you have baby stuff you don't need, let Morgan know and she will either take it or find it a home. On the other hand, if you need baby stuff, ask Morgan and she will deliver a small truckload. If she doesn't have it, she finds someone who does. She remembers who's having a baby and who's kids are old enough to be outgrowing their baby gear. And she knows a lot of people. I kind of think she should start a business doing this and charging money for it. Everybody needs a Morgan.

I mean seriously, how much wear does a pair of baby pants actually get in the two months it spends occasionally adorning a baby? What is the life expectancy of a crib? Do baby-themed lamps routinely stop working when the baby outgrows the nursery decor?

After we combined Morgan's services with the local thrift store, Craigslist, Freecycle, and the occasional yard sale, we've got a crib, a mattress, bedding, gender-appropriate and gender neutral clothing, a huge pile of onesies, a breast pump with all accessories, blankets, a front carrier, a sling, a swing, baby monitor, bouncy seat, booster seat, car seat, pack-n-play... heck, even a pile of cloth diapers.

Once again, you can call it green, or you can call it frugal. Wise, pragmatic, or just plain cheap. I don't think this kid's really gonna care. He'll have his hands full just trying to navigate his way among his crazy siblings and his wacky parents.


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Friday, February 01, 2008

Warmth and Happiness and Light... least in a hypothetical sense.

The more involved I get in gardening - specifically food-oriented gardening - the more I yearn for a small greenhouse. Or at least some good cold frames. I even scouted out what kind of materials my dream greenhouse would be made from, drawn up plans, the whole nine. I wasn't planning anything too elaborate - maybe 4' x 10', but even so, I could never get it high enough on the priority list to allocate any funds. It wouldn't even take a ton of money to do what I want if I supply the labor myself, but other things have always taken precedence so far.

But sometimes, where there's a will, there's a way. So after a year or more of keeping my eyes and ears open, my evil plan is finally coming together. And practically for free.

I got a few dozen salvaged windows from a campus house that was being renovated, at no cost.

I got a pile (actually a few piles) of cinder blocks from some guy's barn when he wanted to clean it out. Also at no cost.

I got some food-grade plastic barrels - perfect planting bench height, cool-season thermal mass and warm-season irrigation - from a trucker up the road. Not free, but cheap. (Nothing says "rainwater cachement" like the scent of Apple Schnapps flavoring...)

I bought some pressure-treated 4x4 posts a while back in anticipation of this project. I had to pay for those. I've also got a bunch of scrap lumber leftover from various other projects here and there.

And I'm pretty sure I've managed to arranged for some free labor. Well, not precisely free, but bartered.

The plan is to build it off the south side of the pole barn, right about here:

(You like our high class chicken shelter on the left there?)

Now I just have to see if my hired (bartered?) hands and I can turn these pieces into something functional once the weather breaks. Of course, this is from somebody who has had an unfinished grape arbor of the simplest design standing unfinished off the back of the house for the better part of a year. But still...

Here are some ideas I'm kicking around. Feel free to laugh, point, and tell me how foolish I am...

My hope is that the rainbarrels can catch water off the roof, and store up some heat on sunny days in late winter and early spring. The idea is that if I put a little platform on top of the black-painted, water-filled barrels, the sun-heated water will provide a little overnight warmth for seed germination.

Of course, in reality, I'm almost certain the barrels will freeze, because it'll be cloudy every day and I'll have started too early. So maybe some cold-frames as backup. And maybe only one or two water-filled barrels as an experiment.

I'd like to include that window on the pole barn inside the attached greenhouse, so that I can use it as a vent to let warm, humid air into the barn on cool, sunny days.

I thought about bowing a cattle panel over the still-mostly theoretical greenhouse, to act as a trellis for some climbing annuals, so the glass would be shaded by high summer. I don't remember hearing of this being done, and there's probably a good reason for that, but I don't know what it is.

It's also been suggested to me that I put some hardware cloth or similar over the glass to protect from hail damage, since this is actual, real glass. That might make cleaning the glass difficult, depending on how it's done. I wonder if I can somehow combine the arbor idea with the hail protection idea. I don't remember the last time I saw any serious hail, but it'd only take once.

Hopefully I can find uh, well... a window of opportunity to make this happen. If nothing else, it'll give the chooks a place to hang out where there's daylight and not too much wind.

[Speaking of wind... I've probably mentioned that it's always windy here. Ridiculously windy sometimes. I often have to fetch trash can lids, and sometimes empty trash cans, from a quarter mile away. Our west-facing fence lines are like big trash nets. And when a nasty storm came through the other night, it took the neighbor's trampoline - one of those big deals with the netting around the outside - across their yard, over their fence, and into a crumpled mess a few hundred yards away in the other neighbor's back yard.]

Anyway, so that's my evil plot, more or less. I'll let you know if and when it happens...

Wish me luck.


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