Monday, November 08, 2004

A New Tactic, But Who Won?

We've been having a lot of trouble with Rachel and naps on the weekend lately. She's probably on the cusp of not needing to nap regularly, but it's still usually pretty unpleasant when she doesn't nap. Yesterday, we decided to try a new tactic: take her for a drive and let her sleep in the car.

We've done it a couple of times before, though not as deliberately. We've gone shopping twice in the last couple of months, knowing that she might fall asleep in the car on the way, so I took a book. Worked out quite well those times... I just sat and read while Dawn did the errands and Rachel slept.

This time, Dawn just took her for a ride until she fell asleep and then came back, parked in the driveway, and slept while Rachel slept. This seemed to work well. They got good naps. I did some stuff around the house and then an errand or two on my own. When Rachel woke up, she was refreshed and happy and must more pleasant as the day wore on. We did discover that for some reason the truck battery had almost died while they were sleeping. Dan pointed out that if the ignition was on, it would have sucked the battery pretty fast.

So far, so good. So we have to push the truck out of the driveway and jump it and then drive it around a little bit to recharge the battery. Not that big a deal, and we can figure out why it died and make sure that doesn't happen next time. OK, cool.

Then we went to push it out and jump it. Not a big deal. Dawn was nervous about whether she would be able to stop the truck without the power brake, so I sat in the truck and pushed with one foot while she pushed from the front. Still OK. Got the truck in position; the jumper cables are nice and long, so we don't even have to bridge with the ones we borrowed from Xin.

Here's where it gets fun. The alarm. I wasn't surprised when it went off when I turned truck on (it actually almost started just from the Accord's battery, but not quite). I was rather surprised when it didn't turn off, however. Hmm. Turning the truck off doesn't work. The remote isn't working. And I'll tell you what... with the hood up, that alarm is flippin' LOUD. So loud it's more like a concussive force than a sound.

Dawn takes the truck and goes up to the busy street near us to stop hammering our poor neighbors, while I go looking for the manual (I thought there might be a way to turn it off with the remote or the valet switch) and a couple of wrenches and a flashlight. She's around the corner for about 30 seconds before a cop shows up. Of course, it's 9:30 and we were getting ready for bed when we remembered we needed to deal with the battery, so naturally she doesn't have an ID with her.

The cop hangs around until I show up. As I'm heading for the front of the truck, Dawn says something about her ID. It hasn't really occurred to me that he might want to see it, so I ask him if he wants to see it, and he says "might be nice." I managed not to say anything snide or flip and just showed it to him. He could have asked, though...

Anyway, disconnected the battery, let it sit for a few minutes, and then put the cable back on and, lo and behold, no more unbelievably loud and obnoxious alarm. Dropped Dawn off at home and then drove around for a bit to make sure the battery was charged back up. Oh, and did I mention... on the way back to the house at some point during this adventure, I stopped to take the jumper cables off the Honda and close it's hood... and it's damn alarm went off too!

So, was all the alarm crap just payback for tricking Rachel into a nap?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Despite various predictions and hopes, even more people voted for Bush this time than last. In 2000, there were 105 million votes cast, 50,456,002 for Bush, 50,999,987 for Gore, and 2,882,955 for Nader. This time, as counted so far, CNN reports 59,117,523 for Bush, 55,557,584 for Kerry, and 395,969 for Nader. I assume the rest of the candidates got less than a million combined (such as Leonard Peltier, who got some 21k votes in California, in spite of being in jail). Let's call it 500k even. That's a total of 115,571,076. Basically, what happened, then is Bush got 9 million more votes than last time, or almost all of the increased turn-out, because Kerry got 2.5 million of Nader's votes plus the other 1.5 million-ish of the increased turn-out. So much for the Democratic efforts at registration and motivation.

Obviously, I'm less than pleased. Bush is certainly going to get to appoint at least 1, probably 2 or 3, Supreme Court Justice within the next four years. He's going to throw more of our money and lives (not to speak of other countries' citizens) at the so-called War on Terror. He's going to continue his efforts to ravage the environment and the world for the betterment of his friends. And he's just generally going to make this country less well educated, more fearful, more conservative, and more fundamentalist.

Some interesting blogs I've run across today:

Badda Blog!
E's Surf Report
Mike's Message I'm rather surprised he hasn't written anything since sometime yesterday. Perhaps he's, as one of my co-workers said, too depressed to think about it.

On the bright side, now there will be more chance to impeach him. Of course, with a more Republican Congress than before, it'll have to be something particularly egregious and especially undeniable.

Here's a joke for you... how do we get Bush out of the White House? Wait. Just four more years. No problem, right?

In other news... To top off the fun of trying to manage a diet, especially now that I've figured out I'm not supposed to be eating peanut butter, cashews, or hummus, I seem to be coming down with something. My throat started feeling odd yesterday. I'm hoping various supplements and "sticks and twigs" from our accupuncturist can keep it at bay, or at least from turning into anything big.

I've taken lunch to work three days running, now. I thought Michelle and Duane and I had planned on Wednesday's being days to eat out, but Duane suggested Friday when I called him to make sure this morning. So, Friday it will be. Which is fine, since Michelle's been out sick for a couple of days now.

I went and did some shopping tonight to fill out our meals for the next couple of days... chicken apple sausage, more eggs, lots of veggies (discovered I like Swiss Chard, at least the way Elisabeth made it tonight; don't remember having it before, though I certainly may have), apples, oranges, pears, and frozen strawberries (the fresh ones are 7 bucks for 2 pounds - no way!) Bacon. I know Ann Louise Gittelman (author of the Fat Flush Plan) wouldn't like it much, but that's just tough. Will be having bacon on Friday morning. Ground turkey breast for meatloaf tomorrow. I think we've tried the one from the book before, but it might have been from the South Beach book. Not sure.

Oh, and I started doing push-ups and crunches on Sunday. Only managed 2 sets of 10 and 1 of 6 pushups on Sunday... then 3 sets of 10 monday... then almost couldn't make all 10 in the third set yesterday, but got a little better today. Need to increase the crunches too; I've managed three sets of 20 each day, but I'm only lifting my shoulders. I like to do leg/hip crunches too. And more of them.

But, I'm tired. Good night.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

It's Heeee-eeeere

Well, as little attention as I've paid to the election campaign, I can tell I'm going to have to fight to focus on my work rather than paying excessive attention to the election through the day.

We can see our polling place from our house, and the first person was in line about 6:45. By the time the polls actually opened at 7, there were at least a dozen people in line, and now there are a dozen people in line outside, besides the people who must be inside. I've seen several people (it's trash day, so I've been out there twice already) pull up and run in to drop off absentee ballots. I'll be doing that myself shortly.

My mother was thrilled when I told her that Ohio courts had ruled that the Republicans couldn't have registration challengers in polling places. Now it seems the Court of Appeals has ruled they can be right outside, which is not much better. My neighbor's biggest worry is how the Republicans will find to cheat... like the Republican funded organization in Nevada that registered people and then tore up registrations of Democrats.

Monday, November 01, 2004

What are you doing?

I asked Rachel tonight, "What are you doing?" She said "Nothing." Wasn't sure she had the first time, since she was downstairs and I was surprised... turns out she was, because I asked again and got the same answer. Keep in mind she's 3. My parents don't remember how old I was when I did that...

Plodding Along

It's a little odd being back on standard time again. It's only 7:30, but it feels as if it ought to be 9 or so. It's not all because it got dark at 5ish... I also left work early to go see my doctor for a check-up and spent some time before Dawn and Rachel came home trying to figure out where I stand on the 45 BILLION issues on our ballot tomorrow.

Some of them are ridiculous, and the sniping between the people for them and the people against them is even worse. Not sure why I'm surprised. Of course, I don't have time to really get into them, so I'll either go with my first instinct or just skip the ones I'm not immediately sure about. The only ones I really care about right now, really, are the federal and state elected offices. In particular, which idiot we are less opposed to having in the White House for the next 4 years. Saw a great t-shirt the other day while walking on Telegraph after lunch... had outlines of two people, about the same size... one said Bush, the other Kerry. Kerry's male genitalia were substantially larger in this drawing than Bush's. I don't think there's anything more important than getting Bush out of the office he was given by Judicial Fiat four years ago.

My next door neighbor is convinced Kerry's going to win, for four reasons I can think of:
  • because no sitting president polling under 50% has ever won re-election
  • because the polls that have them so close together only take into account "likely voters", which does not include the newly registered
  • because there are something like 14 or 15 million newly registered voters with a distinct advantage on the democratic side, and
  • because a large percentage of undecided voters tend to vote against the incumbent - they don't really need to be convinced whether to vote for him because he's been in office for four years... they're just taking time to decide whom they actually will pick

I've also been hearing that turn-out in certain groups could make a significant difference. For instance, Kerry has a 2-1 advantage in the 18-34 (I think) year-old age group, so every 1% of the total turn-out that comes from that age group represents a 1/3 percent net gain for Kerry. Only time will tell.

I've actually paid unusually little attention to this race. John asked me a couple of days after Kerry's acceptance speech whether I had watched it. What for? There's nothing to change my mind... if there were someone I believed in more than Kerry, which probably isn't hard, I would only dare vote for him or her in an election when keeping such an awful choice as George W. Bush out of office wasn't a problem. Though I agree with some of his politics, I'll never vote for Nader in anything ever. He says he's staying in the race for the good of the country, but that's either bull or he's lost his mind. Maybe both. While there are certainly similarities between the evils of the Republicans and the Democrats, there's simply no way to justify helping Bush stay in office.

During the primaries, a campaigner for Kucinich came to my door and started talking about him. He's for socialized (or at least universal, anyway) health care. The right to choose. Peace. Basic civil rights. Education. The environment. I was actually quite impressed with the obvious intellectual capabilities of the campaigner, which I realized then have actually been lacking in those of most other candidates. I asked, "why should I vote for him? he doesn't stand even a snow-ball's chance in hell of winning." Imagine the response - the point is not to win the primary, as there's no chance of that, but if we can get a significant showing, maybe we can get some real attention from the party when it comes to making the party platform for the election. I voted for Kucinich in the primary on principal because I think his ideas much better represent mine and because there's no way a vote for him at that time could possibly interfere with getting Bush out of the office!

Work has been a lot of long hours for several weeks. Not as badly lately as early in the month. I spent the last week of September in NJ visiting M to go over their requirements for the next build. This led to a significant amount of time working on the spec and refining it with them through the month of October until we got them to sign it and the price structure on the 29th. Hallelujah. Bob, who was our project manager on M's implementation and left right before the conference in NJ, and Derek, who was Patrice's boss and was laid off in... July I think, evidently had a bet about the signature. Bob said we'd get it signed but not until the end of the calendar year. Derek said we wouldn't get it signed at all. I'm a little disappointed in those assessments. Their faith was overwhelming. Especially considering that I've really not found M to be anywhere near as unreasonable as the seemed before Patrice and I took over and that the project was in an absolute shambles before then. For instance, we were in NJ sitting in the conference room with them making the project plan! How anyone knew what was going on or when things were supposed to be done, I do not know. M, I'm happy to say, has come to realize lately how much better things are now.

I think I'm already behind schedule on M and we only got sign-off on Friday!

Meanwhile, Dawn and I are planning a night away for our anniversary, which is coming up on the 11th. It's our fourth. I have both the 11th and 12th off, though I'm not lucky enough to work for any of the huge number of employers in the country (not to mention Europe) who take the 11th off, so I have to take 2 vacation days rather than one. Not that big a deal, but it seems as if it should be really cool to have Veteran's Day (or Armistice Day) for an anniversary... So, we're going to have dinner at the Lark Creek Inn where we got married and then spend the night at a b&b-esque cottage near Point Reyes. I figure we'll spend most of the 12th out there wandering or whatever and then come back in time to pick Rachel up from school.

Rachel will stay home with Elisabeth... I think that should go pretty well. I'm hoping we can see about having a practice night before then so Elisabeth can put her to bed when we're not in the house. It shouldn't really be a big deal at this point, since she's getting to spend a lot of time with E (and her cats). In a real pinch, we'll be close enough that we can come home if we have to. I don't think anyone's ever dropped Rachel off at school besides us, though... not that there should be any problem there either; we just have to make sure the school knows it's going to happen.

We're really looking forward to this. I was thinking about calling up the woman who made our wedding cakes and having her make two small cakes for us again; she did that for our first anniversary when we went to the Lark Creek as well. They were delicious, but I think we'll go with the desserts they have. I know that whole meal is going to be outside our diet plan, along with breakfast the next day. The cottage will provide an "ample" supply of organic breakfast materials, including pancake mix, fruit, eggs, and on and on. Ample really is how they put it, but I seem to remember the food they provided for us when we stayed in one of their other cottages with my parents being enough to feed at least 6 people. Not that we'll over do it... we can probably bring some of it home with us too.

I need to look around and see what we should do on the 12th around Pt. Reyes... I don't think it's whale watching season yet. Maybe we'll just wander around Pt. Reyes itself and go to the light house. Hmm...

A Diet Odyssey, Day 1

Dawn and Elisabeth (who is presently living with us, by the way) and I decided that we should go on a diet together. I've pretty much leveled off and have been maintaining a 5 lb weight range (235-240) since the end of June, but I'd like to see if I can kick myself down another 20ish. Dawn and Elisabeth also want to lose some weight and/or size. My friends & co-workers, Duane and Michelle, were also talking about wanting to get back on their respective diets last week. And our friend Karolyn was over Saturday night and we were all talking about it, so she's joining in the "fun" (and I use the term loosely) as well.

Duane's diet started today after lunch, because he decided he couldn't let last night's pizza go to waste and ate it for breakfast. He and Michelle and I have agreed that we'll have to go to Zachary's for pizza when we're finished with the diets, although it does occur to me that we'll need to be very careful about what we eat from when we finish this first phase (in a couple of weeks) through the holiday season. I think Michelle and Duane are doing the South Beach diet, while the rest of us are actually doing the Fat Flush Plan.

Both plans start with a 2-week (or more) phase 1 that cuts out essentially any carb that's not part of a vegetable, most or all artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and so on. This helps stop the tendency toward insulin overload - insulin is a fat storage hormone, so keeping insulin levels reasonable helps avoid storing excess fat in the body and, in fact, in eliminating the excess that's already stored. The Fat Flush plan takes it a step further and attempts to enhance liver function by adding essential fatty acids and cranberry juice (straight, though it can be sweetened with Stevia Plus). The liver is quite good at processing fat for elimination rather than storage, provided it isn't eternally busy processing all sorts of other junk like artificial sweeteners and many medications.

So, today it begins. For the three of us living in my house, breakfast was the Long Life Cocktail (cranberry juice, half a lemon, 1 tablespoon each of flax seed oil and ground flax seed meal) followed by a blueberry protein shake, which was fairly tasty, although it might have been nice if the protein powder had been mixed in a little better. I think it's time for my mid-morning snack, either an apple or orange (chosen highly scientifically: the one that comes more easily to hand when I go get it). Karolyn reports that she didn't find all the flaxseed to be so bad as she expected, but that the urge to have a second cup of coffee (one cup of organic coffee is permitted per day) is! I'd suggest some Tylenol for the impending headache, but it's not great for the liver :-)

Duane and Michelle and I will be bringing our lunches with us four days a week, at least, and going out at most once, on Wednesdays. The nice thing about these diets is that as long as you have a reasonable array of choices, and we have plenty between the Emeryville Public Market and the Bay Street mall, it's not all that hard to find things to eat that stay within the constraints of the diets.

Karolyn and I decided that we should have a joint blog where we can all write in, so I've created one. I'll probably post my entries there as well as here, but we'll see.