Saturday, April 29, 2006

Lutefisk and Aquavit

I found this googling -- An Ode to Lutefisk, which contains the following instructions on how to actually enjoy this famous national dish:

To understand the relationship between aquavit and lutefisk, here's an experiment you can do at home. In addition to aquavit, you will need a slice of lemon, a cracker, a dishtowel, ketchup, a piece of lettuce, some caviar, and a Kit-Kat candy bar.

1. Take a shot aquavit.
2. Take two. (They're small.)
3. Put a bit of caviar on a bit of lettuce.
4. Put the lettuce on a cracker.
5. Squeeze some lemon juice on the caviar.
6. Pour some ketchup on the Kit-Kat bar.
7. Tie the dishtowel around your eyes.

If you can taste the difference between caviar on a cracker and ketchup on a Kit-Kat while blindfolded, you have not had enough aquavit to be ready for lutefisk. Return to step one.

Sounds about right!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Leading by Example

From Yahoo today --
House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Ill., center, gets out of a Hydrogen
Alternative Fueled automobile, left, as he prepares to board his SUV, which uses gasoline, after holding a news conference at a local gas station in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2006 to discuss the recent rise in gas prices. Hastert and other members of Congress drove off in the Hydrogen-Fueled cars only to switch to their official cars to drive the few blocks back to the U.S. Capitol.
So, let me get this straight: drove to the gas station for a press conference and showed up in a spiffy alternative fuel vehicle. Looks good, makes the news, "we're for saving oil!".

But....barely a block away swapped back to their gas-guzzling SUV to ride the rest of the way back to the capitol. And apparently they weren't smart enough to switch where no one would see them.

Way to lead by example, guys!! Honesty in politics! Why am I not surprised?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Joining the Workforce again

My old client (you know, the one who nearly made me crazy?) -- they must have been watching with bated breath for me to log in to IM so they could ask me back. Yikes! They really, really wanted me to come back and do more work on the reporting system I did for them. I suppose it's nice to be wanted but ...NO.

Well, almost no. I'm doing about 16 hours of work for them, including heading into the office in the tech center tomorrow morning for a 3-hour meeting to go through the reports and discuss how they should be changed and how to manage the new requirements. Apparently they want to do something entirely different (am I surprised? nah!) and can't figure out how I made the report work. It wasn't really that hard, and I thought I had documented things well...ah, well. It will be nice to see the people in the office.

I head out to Chicago on Monday for a (probably) 2-week gig. It was originally presented to me as an 8 week project, but the guy managing the sale only got the ok for 2 weeks. With no statement of work. He's done this to me before (and then I spent four weeks in Peoria!) so I'm a bit irked. But, the client sounds like a good one, and I'm working 4x10s, so we'll see how it goes. Even if it does to go 8 weeks, I can probably work remotely for half the time. Not too bad.

I think the Adorable husband is actually looking forward to me going. He hasn't really been alone in the house for...well, for three months.

Muppet Carpet

Ok, I may have just crossed over the line from 'interesting decorating' to Muppet Chic.

We're painting the theater purple. Walls and ceiling, in about this color. So, the guy comes to pick out carpet and tile and such and -- after fruitlessly searching for carpet that matches what we have (why is that so hard? it's just...beige), we discovered that we could do a different color in the theater....and I found...purple carpet.

It looks rather like Muppet hair, and is the perfect match to the paint and the velvet drapes. Over the top? Probably.

The framing is done, and the electric rough out will finish tomorrow in time for the inspections. Next week: insulation and wallboard!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dungeon Construction Day 10

Things are definitely looking up! More walls today, and the plumber is finally finished with the rough-in (and inadvertently left the hot water off at the hot water heater, go figure). Things are beginning to take shape pretty well!

The electricians have been here for two days following the spiffy color plan that I did -- they got most of the lighting done and the outlets (in the walls that are up) and started pulling the speaker wire and subwoofer cables. They had a hard time getting things even, since the studs on one side of the room are not aligned at all with the studs on the other side of the room, but they managed to get the boxes for all the sconces in, and the subwoofer wire, and the boxes for the speakers, and all the enormous cables from the receiver to the projector.

The rough inspections are initially scheduled for tomorrow, but I think they not going to make that -- there are still quite a few of the soffits that need to be built, and they have to be in place before the wiring can be finished. They can inspect the plumbing and HVAC, I guess, but not the framing yet. Maybe they'll postpone a day or so.

The electricians have been great -- Doug and Dom have been incredibly conscientious about getting the speakers in the right place, actually made up a block to make sure that the outlets are all at the same level, and have moved switches and boxes specifically to make things look nice. I really appreciate it. I'm a bit overly-controlling about the whole thing (what with color schematics and bulletted lists of "things to do!" and they take it all in stride -- in fact, they have come upstairs to ask questions about things a few times to day, which is nice. I try to make sure that I don't bother them during the day, which is awfully hard for me.

The rest of the wiring tomorrow, and hopefully the rest of the soffits. The theater is off-center, but that's just becuase it's a narrow room and we have to cover up the hvac vents on the left, but want to have as little "low" ceiling as possible -- the Adorable husband will definitely brain himself if we aren't careful. And no, I'm not trying to hide his identity...he thought it was funny to refuse to let me take a picture of him to share with my imaginary online friends. Hah!

Black Death?

Yikes -- I missed this in the paper last week. A woman in California was hospitalized with Bubonic Plague. It's the first case since 1984, and is unusual because it occured in LA, not in a rural area.

We get outbreaks of plague in the prairie dog population every year or so in Colorado -- usually a few animals get it, and we've had nine human deaths since 1957. Erie had an outbreak in the empty field out behind our old house a few years ago.

Scary stuff, although we have adequate antibiotics nowadays and are unlikely to lose half or more of the population.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Benefits for Business

From AP: WASHINGTON - President Bush on Tuesday ordered a temporary suspension of environmental rules for gasoline, making it easier for refiners to meet demand and possibly dampen prices at the pump. He also halted for the summer the purchase of crude oil for the government's emergency reserve.

Hm. Didn't he say that he wasn't going to do this? Instead he was going to "jawbone" the Saudis into managing the price of oil? As DailyKOS notes Bush seems to follow a pattern here of suspending the rule of law to handle difficult situations. Wages rules after Katrina? Not needed. Rules about phone taps? Nah, the president can override those if he feels like it. Rules about declassifying information? Nope! We can do what we want and it's by definition legal.

Those pesky laws. Why do we even have them?

Monday, April 24, 2006

No Offers of Cash, Yet

In the past two days, I've had THREE requests to use one or more of my Egypt pictures in published books. Two of the requests came from "book packagers" writing teacher's materials in India and China, and the last came from a nice gentleman doing a scholarly work on pyramid construction.

Rather flattering! The photos are just the same-old tourist pictures, but over the last few years I've had a number of emails asking to reprint those from Scotland and Egypt in a number of different venues, including a newspaper in Scotland wanting to print a picture of the LOST sign that keeps getting stolen, and a "sister city" wanting a photo of their Scottish counterpart to hang in their town hall.

Dungeon Construction: Day 8

More DEconstruction that construction today, since we made the poor framers take down the soffits around the beams. Our basement is unfortunately short, and since the Adorable Husband is not a short person, we have serious head-bumping issues in the basement.

They originally framed around the beams entirely, which lowered the space under them by 4 inches. Not good. Lots of forehead bruises in his future, I think. Since the original discussion we had about planning including "The husband is TALL, we neeed every single inch of headroom inthe basement we can get", they took down the original framing. They'll redo it with everything flush to the bottom of the beams, so we have as much headroom as possible. So -- lots of banging and cursing today, and only a bare dozen feet of new wall put up. Hopefully, they'll get things caught up tomorrow, or they're off schedule for the electrician.

The screen arrived today! UPS delivered it this morning. Cables should be here tomorrow (we have ordered HDMI cables and component video cables to hook everything up -- yes, I now have way more information about video signals than I ever wanted) and we now have everything except the receiver.

And -- just to add to the festive's SNOWING here. Yes, yes, we had eighty degrees on Saturday and today, a mere 48 hours later, it's snowing. I'm probably heading off to Chicago for two weeks on my new gig starting next week, too. Things are quite exciting at the Phouka household.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cellphone Communicators

If you haven't had a chance to see this, check out 'How William Shatner Changed the World'. It's on today and tomorrow on the History Channel.

I've long argued that modern technology had better conform to Star Trek's view of the future, or we'll reject it. The most popular cellphones look like the flip-top communicators, blue-tooth receivers look like comm badges, a palm pilot looks like a tricorder to me, and we can talk to our computers now, right?

If they ever manage to produce a food replicator, or transporter, it had better be like ST, or we're likely to think it's "not right". Seriously.

The show, in which William Shatner is at his self-deprecating best (he's never funnier than when he's playing up to the stereotyped, charicatured version of himself as Kirk) goes through how Star Trek was years ahead of everyone else, and how many new inventions came out of this short, cultish television show. It's actually a lot of fun.

Interesting Essay

This popped up in one of the forums I frequent, discussing the faulty belief that the bible clearly condemns homosexual behavior. It's interesting, if a bit linquistically technical.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dungeon Construction: Day 7

I'm absolutely sure that the electrician and his helper, and Ethan were all doing some major eye-rolling after our walkthrough last night. You've seen the lighting and speaker layout that I did for the basement, and we walked through to make sure that they understood exactly what I want and where things go. I had charts. I had color charts. And specific measurements (e.g., mount outlet plates 12" from floor).

The electrician had some good ideas to balance things out a bit, and moved a few switches, but I was able to emphasize that things need to be right and the outlets need to be even and all that stuff that makes me nuts. They all laughed -- but the last time we had an electrician in, he ended up using a laser-level to make sure the outlets were at the same height.

No work today, though. With a couple of jobs going, scheduling seems to be tight. They'll be here tomorrow (Saturday) to wrap up the framing and get all the soffits built.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Looking back through the blog, I realize I haven't posted anything resembling the plans for the basement. So, here they are:

On the left is the wine cellar and the theater, on the bottom is unfinished storage, and the bathroom and sitting room on the top.

{Edited to add that an exercise room is on the right!}

Dungeon Construction: Day 6

Problems resolved, and copper is in the walls for the bathroom. They only set off the smoke alarms once today, while soldering pipe. Framing is going more slowly than I would like, but Ethan doesn't seem concerned and they can probably finish things up tomorrow. There are only a few walls to frame, and then the soffits.

They had to jackhammer out the drain for the shower, which was very loud and scared the dogs (and me!) this morning. They wouldn't let me use the jackhammer, though. I really wanted to!

The double wall is up for the wine cellar, and the wall with the French door is up. I discovered that we have to have a 36" door to the storage area, because it has a furnace. It makes no sense to me, because the door downstairs is only 32". Ah, well. Looks pretty good. They need to wrap the beam and build the coffering in the theater still, which has to be in place so we can do the wiring.

You can probably see where things go in the bathroom, now. Just a shower (under the beam, which will be interesting for anyone taller than about 5'8"), a toilet and sink along the far wall. We're all still staring at the pop machine and wondering just what in the heck we're going to do with it. Originally, we thought to just enclose the existing shelving unit, but that really was a pretty stupid idea. However, we can't really take it apart -- it would require new parts to reassemble properly -- so we need to built around it and then sort of move it all-at-once into a closet with the condenser suspended from the ceiling. The catch? We need to be able to get to the top of the machine to add water periodically. It's very close to the ceiling now, since we got a short tube to the actual bar gun, so it's going to be right fit.

The electrician is coming tonight to do a planning session and make sure we get everything we need in place. With the theater, there are some specific locations that are required for speakers and things, and we need to get cable and phone in the right places, too. I have three drawings (electrical oddities, lighting, theater speaker placement and wiring. I suppose I could let them handle all of this themselves, but this way, I know I get what I want. So I have lists and memos and I write everything down.

I think the plumber, at least, thinks I'm a lunatic. But at least he doesn't have the tools to wall me up in the basement if I become too much of a pest.

Dungeon Construction: Day 5 1/2

Small crisis this morning, and waaay more noise than before.

The plumbers showed up this morning, which was a surprise to me, and while they pretty much knew what had to be done, they also showed up with rolls of plastic piping. I know that this stuff is up to code, and in fact is used in most of the new houses we've seen recently, but I can't get over the fact that it's plastic and plumbing should be copper pipe. Everything else in the house is copper and I'm of the completely unscientific and unknowledgeable opinion that metal is superior to plastic.

So, much consternation on the part of the plumber, who insists that plastic is fine, and me insisting that we specified copper and want copper. He doesn't have copper and will need to head back to his shop for it, "and might not be able to work here today." Called Ethan (the contractor/pm) and he straightened it out tout suite. Copper it is. He's going to rough out the bathroom, move the oddly placed sprinkler system pipe, and move the pressure tank on the hot water heater so that we can built the wall at an angle. At least we kept the bathroom in the same location as the existing drain stuff.

And, jack-hammering unexpectedly at 8am is definitely a way to perk people up. They have to move the drain for the shower, which entails busting up concrete. That thing is noisy.

We bought the speakers last night, and already I'm having buyer's remorse. We got the "middle" size of tower speakers, and I'm wondering if we shouldn't have bought the "large" size, since I know we might have speakers for much, much longer than any of the other components and we're eventually going to want bigger ones. For the techies among us, we got the Definitive Tech speakers (DP7004 fronts, CLR2300 center, and four BP2X surround speakers. Specs here). I've also done a rather nice schematic of how to wire the speakers and their locations - click on the image to get the full size one! I am such a geek.)

We also decided on a receiver -- Denon AVR-2807. It has an ipod control dock, and something called HDMI switching. All I understand about it is that you can input pretty much ANY type of cable from your components (svideo, component, cable, digital) and it will output a single, digital, converted signal. So, one cable to the projector, not four or five. Works for me.

More pictures tonight -- framing should be almost done and plumbing in place.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Apologies to Dr. Seuss

I'm the decider.
I pick and I choose.
I pick among whats.
And choose among whos.

And as I decide
Each particular day
The things I decide on
All turn out that way.

I decided on Freedom
For all of Iraq.
And now that we have it,
I'm not looking back.

I decided on tax cuts
That just help the wealthy.
And Medicare changes
That aren't really healthy.

And parklands and wetlands
Who needs all that stuff?
I decided that none
Would be more than enough!

I decided that schools
All in all are the best
The less that they teach
And the more that they test.

I decided those wages
You need to get by
Are much better spent
On some CEO guy.

I decided your Wade
Which was versing your Roe
Is terribly awful
And just has to go.

I decided that levees
Are not really needed.
Now when hurricanes come
They can come unimpeded.

That old Constitution?
Well, I have decided
As"just goddam paper"
It should be derided.

I've decided gay marriage
Is icky and weird.
Above all other things,
It's the one to be feared.

And Cheney and Rummy
And Condi all know
That I'm the Decider -
They tell me it's so.

I'm the Decider
So watch what you say
Or I may decide
To have you whisked away.

Or I'll tap your phones.
Your e-mail I'll read.
`cause I'm the Decider -
Like Jesus decreed.

Yes, I'm the Decider
The finest alive
And I'm nuking Iran.
Now watch this drive! -- Roddy McCorley

Dungeon Construction: Day 4

No huge update last night. Felled by a migraine and we were both in bed at 9pm. So here is the Tuesday update, just a bit late.

They've got the double-walls up for the wine cellar (that was pretty hard to do, I imagine, since they couldn't actually attach it to the ceiling because of pipes. It's hung on a ledger board from the original wall). Inistead of getting an AC unit and humidifier, we're going to try a 'passive cellar'. The temperature in the basement is relatively stable -- most of the walls are buffered with another layer of concrete for the porch floor, so there is a concrete wall, six feet of dirt, and another concrete wall. The area we've put the cellar in is completely 'double-walled' like this. So, we are going to leave the concrete wall uninsulated, and super-insulate the other walls to keep that corner cool and (hopefully) moist. This can be done with regular walls and a few inches of foam board, or by two insulated single walls with a space between, which increases the r-value to some ridiculous number.

Being a bit detail oriented, I have cross section drawings for the constructions guys so they insulate this properly and get the vapor barriers on the right sides of the walls. I also have wiring diagrams for speakers and detailed descriptions of where things go. Me? Controlling?

And the HVAC guy was here, putting in new vents and returns. Apparently we're pretty lucky that we aren't boxing in the furnace and other mechanical stuff, or it would be hard to get the venting right. Since we have a large storage room that just includes the furnace, AC, and water heater, the outside air venting doesn' t have to move. Less work for the HVAC people. There's only one vent in the theatre, though. It's a long room and I wonder if it should have two. I'll ask.

The pictures haven't changed much (just a few more walls), so I'll wait until the end of Wednesday to post new pics. By the end of next week, we should have all the electrical and plumbing in place, and the first week of May wallboard and the rest. Yeeha!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Dungeon Construction: Day 3

Well, the Easter weekend was too much for the poor framers, and the contractor only had about half of his normal complement show up for work today -- lots of sick calls. So, no framers here today. Ethan assures me that the framing will still be done on schedule and we can start the hvac and electrical stuff on time.

I spent the day trying to track down some information on how to wire the 7.1 surround speakers we have selected, which have bi-polar subwoofers in the main towers for the front speakers -- and thus, do not need to have a separate sub and have their own LTE (subwoofer) inputs. We don't know if we're supposed to wire them separately using a Y-splitter, not use them, or if they are available only if you have a subwoofer to run them through. I've been wading through AV forums online for the last few days and, frankly, I'm confused. These are people who are building audio systems with four pre-ams and mono-block amplifiers and all sorts of things only truly geeky AV people do. I have no idea waht these things are -- I just want to know how to pull the wire so that we have it in place for the possible speaker configurations before we get the wallboard up.

So, I CAD'ed out the theater and the location of the speakers so we know where the wires need to go, now I just need to know what kind of wire and if I need more than one. It's not that complicated, I hope.

We've decided on Definitive Technology speakers, which have gotten rave reviews (and we liked the sound of them in the theater showroom at Magnolia), so all I need to do now is pick a receiver so we know what inputs/outputs we're working with.

And, you ask -- why am I not at work yet? I was supposed to start back today. Well, I am...sort of. THey don't have a gig for me yet, so I'm still at home and going through docs for the new toolsets and possibly doing some sales support. Otherwise, I"m technically off until next week. We'll see. It's not that big a deal, but I'm surprised they didn't have something lined up yet. So, I can hang around and "monitor" the basement building without worrying about having to run off for meetings or anything else.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Eagle has Landed

Aha! The Adorable Husband has successfully landed (and is still under his own power) after his first jump today with Mile-Hi Skydiving.

They cancelled jumps yesterday due to high winds, but today was gorgeous -- sunny, warm, clear, and still. He headed out to the airport this morning and did his first jump with two instructors and is elated. He says he can't remember being that scared in a long time, but he really liked it.

Me? Well, I'm not going to jump out of any airplanes, but he's going to go through the seven levels of class stuff and continue jumping, I think. I still wonder what they'll teach him in the next six classes that wasn't important for the first jump!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Midlife Crisis, or Just Insane?

I'm fairly certain that the Adorable Husband is having a midlife crisis. Or perhaps he's gone insane. Suddenly, he decided that he needs to learn how to SKYDIVE. Oh, yes. Leap out of perfectly good airplanes.

Why? I haven't a clue. He's fairly excited about it, though. Four hours of class last night, review this morning, and he will be making his first jump. He's too big to do a tandem jump (where the instructor is actually hooked to the newbie) because there is a weight limit (200 lbs) for that, and the Husband is a Big Guy. So, he has to take classes in order to jump solo.

It's hella windy today, though. The wind was just howling when we got up; there's a good chance he won't be able to go up today and will have to reschedule tomorrow. Yeah.

Can you tell I'm thrilled with this? He did ask if I wanted to go, too. No way! I have a hard enough time getting on an airplane that I intend to stay on....jumping out is definitely out of the question.

Peep Research

Every Easter season, the shelves are suddenly filled with pink and yellow (and blue?) marshmallow chicks and bunnies. Peeps. You may love them, you may hate them -- but there they are, every year; then, accompanied by the 50% off sales of Easter candy, they disappear.

From whence do they come? Where do they go? What is the natural habitat for Peeps? The fine folks at Peep Research have delved into the issues of cold resistance, heat resistance, solubility, and the appropriateness of Peeps as jet pilots. It's a hoot.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dungeon Construction: Day 2

Much noise and activity today! The framing crew was at work by 8:30 (despite being completely lost for half an hour) and were soon soon laying out the base plates and fastening them in with a concrete nailer, which uses .22 shells to drive nails into the concrete floor. In Colorado, we have to have suspended walls, because the ground here is notorious for heaving. We haven't had any problems in our house in the three years we've been here, but it's common practice. So, the base plates are put down, fastened into the floor, and then the walls are set a few inches above that, held in place with long nails.

They got a lot done today -- the theater is mostly framed in, the wine cellar has the interior wall in place (it's being built with a doubled 2x4 wall for insulation) and the bathroom is mostly framed in. It's looking good!

The light fixtures I ordered last week showed up today (we bought the sconces to match those upstairs, since I found them online for half the price even the contractor could get them for.

I ordered the projector today from, and just got an email that it shipped. It will be here Monday. The package comes with the projector, 106" screen, dvd player, power supply thing, remote, and cables. We will be looking for speakers this weekend, if anyone has suggestions.

Factoid Central

Two interesting things that I learned while sitting on my butt watching the Science channel all day yesterday:

1. During part of the year, the Mekong River in Cambodia actually flows backwards. The river floods dramatically each year (up to 10 m), which is a critical part of agriculture in the region. However, so much water flows down the river from headwaters in Tibet that it actually backs up one of the major tributaries and fills up the Tonle Sap lake -- which grows to five times its normal size. It is assumed that this backwards flow allowed stone and building materials to be moved to the site of the Angkor Wat temple.

2. A patrician Roman during the height of the Roman Empire consumed nearly 20 mg of lead every day. Lead was used in cookpots, water storage, in wine, concentrated in many of the food stuffs because of lead in the storage containers; it was in makeup, and generally permeated the environment. Current studies show that the human body can handle 1-2 mg a day without ill effects (only about 5% is ever absorbed), but safely levels are in the micrograms. No wonder they were all insane. (Learned this one from Hot Rocks).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dungeon Construction: Day 1

The contractor arrived today with the framing guy to lay out the walls in the basement. They stopped by yesterday and confirmed the plan, so we're on our way.

We entirely forgot about bookshelves along the wall of the sitting room, and I gave them details on where the projector is supposed to be mounted; I think those are the only updates we have so far. They'll be loading the materials into the basement this afternoon, and the whole framing crew starts tomorrow. By thursday next week, we should be getting the electrical walkthrough to make sure that we have everything laid out properly.

Here's the empty space (look! How clean it is!) that will be the theater (on the left) and the wine cellar (right). The blue thing is the outline of where the screen will go:

And the bathroom/sitting room:


Just in time for enormous bunny. What on earth have they been feeding that thing? Yikes!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Puppy Lust

The neighbors just brought home the cutest golden puppy I've ever seen -- little squishy face, fuzzy chubby puppy butt.

I'm in love. And I want another puppy now.

The Adorable Husband is mean.

Have You Actually Read it?

A public note to the...ah, idiot who got into a flame war with me on one of the forums that I frequent:

The "sin" of Sodom was being inhospitable to strangers.

All that homophobia is of your own devising. If you're going to use the bible as a reference, at least R.T.F.M.

007 No More

Yeah! I am no longer an International Woman of Mystery!

I finally managed to find the right combination of documents, runes, and omens to get the Social Security office to correctly change my name on their records to match the name that I have been using for the last seventeen years.

As I posted earlier, I apparently did not get my name changed properly when I got married, which is JUST NOW showing up in the governments records as a discrepancy (and we trust these people to run the country? I mean, really!) When I went to change it before, my birth certificate and marriage license were no longer enough to validate the change. They needed some sort of evidence that I was who I said I was...seventeen years ago. It needed to be an 'official' document with my maiden name, birthdate, and SSN.

They suggested medical records. Well, my doctor has long since retired, and they never had my social security number anyways. Marriage license -- well, I had one and it doesn't contain birth date. Transcripts from nearly all major universities (the UofM is no exception) no longer include year of birth or social security number on their transcripts, because of Sarbanes-Oxley laws regarding privacy.

They eventually found the original microfiche of my two extension classes and copied those. The databases had not yet been consolidated and could still have that info on them.

So, I am who I say I am. Finally.

I rather wanted a Theme Song, though.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pack Rats Anonymous

The Adorable Husband and I are pack rats. Not pack rats as in 'can't walk from one room to another' or 'bags of garbage in the hallway', but we have a hard time getting rid of anything that we bought or were given or, somehow ended up with that might be useful someday.

We don't need four sets of mixing bowls. We probably don't need to keep every tea towel we've ever received. We don't need extra dog bowls. Eventually we should throw sheet sets out. We have a hard time with these things -- it's never been used ! it's probably useful! There's nothing wrong with it! The classic reasons for keeping things.

However, since they are supposed to start work on the basement this week, we had to clear out all the boxes and go through everything that we've tossed down there. Some of the boxes were moved directly from the attic in the old house -- never opened in 14 years -- and some were even earlier than that. When we moved in here, we unpacked most of the boxes and put the daily-use things away and just left the rest of the boxes in the basement. Figuring rightly that we'd open them and get the stuff we needed as we needed it. Well, mostly. Sometimes it was easier just to get new stuff. This is why we have three sets of Pyrex measuring cups.

I'd already gone through the boxes of books and purged almost 3/4 of the paperbacks. (This made me quite nauseous). That only left about thirty boxes and a dozen or so of those plastic storage bins on various shelves in the basement. All of which had to move from where they were to the "new" storage area. We found all sorts of things that we had totally forgotten we had -- down comforters, champagne flutes, hiking boots, christmas decorations, photo albums, my sewing scissors. And a bunch of quite useless stuff that we finally sorted through. The Adorable husband winnowed his army stuff down to one bin, we got rid of clothes we've been hauling around since 1980 (although they are probably back in style now), coats, empty three-ring binders, extra xmas lights, and everything else. Friends took the three room-sized rugs we had, and were happy to take the old computer hutch. I think we donated or simply got rid of. about half of the stuff we had. Perhaps more. And -- we packed everything up in bins and can actually find the stuff we now have. Sailing stuff in one bin, christmas decorations in another, winter toys in a third. I actualy feel organized!

We did keep the two original Macintosh computers, though. One of them has signatures in it -- while it probably doesn't work any longer, we just couldn't get rid of it.

We'll have to go through things once more when the basement is finished, since we packed all the storage stuff in front of the current wine racks, but it should be a much easier process. I hope!

Every once in a awhile I watch the Discovery Home channel, where they have a show called 'neat' (there's a similiar show on HDTV called Mission: Organization) -- where a "professional declutterer" goes into someone's home and helps them clear out years of clutter. It makes me feel better. If "pack-rattedness" has a range of 1-100, with 1 being a zen-like acetiscm and no belongings whatsoever, and 100 being unable to walk through your home or enter rooms because of the junk...well, some of these people are in the 90s. We are maybe 30. We keep too much, but it doesn't actually impact our daily life.

And no, I don't believe you can actually have too many books!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Um. No.

I honestly don't know if this is a real product, in production now; or if it is part of some weird new product R&D idea. It looks a bit too avante garde to me, but the Uni-P sounds like a seriously bad idea.

As commenters on the site noted, whoever designed this has obviously never had a woman "test drive" it -- we tend to wear more than a miniskirt, and few of us go commando all the time. That would be the demographic that might use such a thing: panty-less miniskirt wearers. A bare step above squatting behind a tree.

Amusing, though. The website has some...ah...interesting things on it. Too chic and cool for me.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Dungeon Begins

We finally managed to get all the bids from the basement contractors, and I spent an afternoon making excel charts to make sure we were actually comparing the same thing from each builder (same number of doors? right specification for insulation? did they all include vapor barrier in the wine cellar? correct sink? all that stuff). It was color-coded and everything.

We've settled on a builder from Longmont, after a glowing recommendation and visit to one of their current customers. We just liked the guy, and he was very up front about things. And (he got big points for this) he remembed all the weird specifications that I had on the first try. Double-wall construction and blue-board in the wine cellar, seat in the shower, pulling speaker wire, etc. It was amazing how the others just didn't "remember' that we had very specific plans for the cellar that would require different things. But we signed the contract and work begins next Monday, after the permits and such are pulled. I'm so excited!

And a little frustrated. The front-projector we wanted for the theater (Optima HD72) might not actually fit in the theater. The ceiling is slightly less than 8' down there, and this projector has a huge offset -- the lens is actually above the top of the screen and it project downward to the wall. It isn't adjustable. I spend the evening digging up my math skills to measure projection angle and viewing distance (yeah, I knew understanding tan() and such would come in handy). With our ceiling height, the screen ends up too close to the floor. Well, unless we get a smaller screen and I really want to stick with the one we have picked (106"). I've been reading through forum posts from the audio-visual gurus at AVS and trying to see if this is a do-able setup or if I have to start searching for another projector.

I ordered the light fixtures that match the upstairs sconces, and we'll pick carpet and tile next week, I imagine. Rather fun! Assuming that it's done in the 8-week timeframe that has been proposed. Considering that we lived in kitchen-renovation hell for almost a year, I'm hoping that this goes a bit closer to schedule. Admittedly, we had only one person doing all the work at the other house, with a bit of help from the Adorable Husband. I got used to having a microware in the living room and the fridge out in the hall! This shoudl be much less painful -- they'll come and go through the basement windows, for the most part, and mess upstairs should be minimal. We hope!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sign of the Apocalypse

This is it. The End is near.

The fact that there is a Precious Moments Theme Park -- including a chapel is definitely a sign of the impending end of the world as we know it.

I can't stand the little pweshious wittle kewtsie PM figures anyway. They creep me out big time. But this is too horrifying to comprehend. And -- you could get married there. Swoon.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fools

I really did think I should post some horrible April Fool's joke in the blog, but I really couldn't think of anything funny that wouldn't be in quite bad taste and piss off people to no end. Other than replacing all the Inspirational posters with Demotivators in the office, I've never really had good ideas for jokes.

So instead, I point you to the Top 100 April Fool's Hoaxes for a few giggles.

One Thing He's Done

Well, the shrub has accomplished one thing in his tenure -- the obsolescence of the debt clock in NYC. Some time in the next two years, the debt will have grown large enough that the famous debt clock (which shows the current National Debt) will not have enough digits. It won't be able to handle TEN TRILLION DOLLARS.

Apparently, the last four digits are having a hard time keeping up as it is.