Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Few Days Away

Dawn and I took the kids and went up to my aunt & uncle's cabin near Donner Lake for the last couple of days. Yes, believe it or not, I took 3 days off from work and actually did not work. I know! Call Ripley!

We got up there, with a nearly obligatory stop at In-n-Out burger, about 9pm Sunday and didn't get Rachel to bed (she had to look at all the bedrooms and switch which bed she was in a few times, ending up on the futon in the loft outside the bedroom we were going to be in) until after 10, which is really late for her...

We went for a walk at Donner Memorial State Park and Rachel and I did some rock climbing. She really seems to enjoy it, so I'm going to be taking her more - we went to Berkeley Iron Works on Wednesday after we got back.

We also spent a bit of time at a nearby lake, which was quite cold. Fun, but very cold. We also had breakfast one morning at a joint called 'Coffee And' in Truckee. Food was OK; Dawn loves joints.

On the way back, we stopped at Ikeda's for lunch and to pick up some fruit & pies. Lunch was OK, at best, and the marionberry pie wound up being disappointing, but the blackberry cobbler was quite tasty.

The trip was very nice & well worth it. I had trouble getting to sleep the first night after we got home because I was trying to figure out all the different hums (from the various electronics) in our house!

Too Cute

Our dear friends Dan & Karyn got this cute stuffed dog chair for Zachary. It is very soft and fuzzy and I'm sure he will love it. Today, however, Cynthia decided it was time to test it out... it's only made cuter by the fact that she is recuperating from an injury...

Thursday, July 17, 2008


My friend Duane posted a note on his blog about GraphJam, so I started looking. My work in software for data analysis make some of these even more funny than they might already be.

The first one I saw was the Death Star, which is somewhat amusing:

song chart memes

I especially like the one about Mr. T and fools:

song chart memes

And this one is funny:

song chart memes

But so far, this one has us (5 co-workers and me) laughing hardest:

song chart memes

Some of them aren't particularly good, and some are very esoteric, but overall just brilliant.

Little Boxes

Dawn and I have been watching Weeds on Showtime lately; we've seen all of the third season and the episodes aired* so far. It is well written and very quirky, starring Mary-Louise Parker as a suburban (at least in season 3) mother and pot dealer.

During the third season, the opening title sequence used a different version of Malvina Reynolds' song Little Boxes, about a ticky tacky subdivision that went up on a hill in Daly City in the late 60s or early 70s. The opening sequence consists of multiple scenes showing people who look the same.
  • 5 men jog by, all wearing the same clothes.
  • Big black SUVs file out of driveways and down the street.
  • Children file off a school bus and toward their, all wearing the same clothes and backpacks.
A perfect video of the song, really, if it had been written in the music video era.

I remember the song from my childhood, mainly from Pete Seeger's version, which they played in full at the end of the 3rd season finale. I found myself riveted to the opening sequence of every episode, and I always fast forward through opening sequences, because they're normally the same throughout the season. I recognized the voices of Malvina Reynolds and Joan Baez on their versions.

I don't think I disliked a single version, though perhaps my fond childhood memories of folk music had something to do with that. Linkin Park did a rap-ish version, one of our favorite childrens' singers, Laurie Berkner did it, some group that did it half in Russian... I am hoping I can find out all the bands, just out of curiosity.

Warning - Spoilers Ahead!

Thanks to several the twists and turns of several conniving characters, by the end of season three, Nancy (Parker's character) has a grow house in the subdivision in which she lives and most of the subdivision goes up in flames thanks to a wild fire. At some point, the fire fighters break into the grow house to make sure it's been evacuated and discover, of course, pot.

Now, the reason I bring all this up, besides that I really enjoy the show, is this story from CBS about a grow house in Oakland. Evidently there was a TV news report Dawn saw in which a neighbor is quoted as saying "it's just like that show Weeds!" Somehow more amusing is that we were about half a mile away just before the fire.

* Although we don't get SHO over the air...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Roaster Coller

One of the several blogs I read regularly (I use Thunderbird as an RSS reader, as well as for personal email, so I get new posts quickly) is Danny Evans' Dad Gone Mad. I think he's very funny, and I can relate to a lot of his stories.

His post today, about pushing his son to ride Space Mountain with him reminded me of our trip to Disneyland three years ago. I can't believe it's been that long. We'll have to go again when Zachary's a bit older.

Rachel was, of course, mad about all the various princesses, and wanted to go on the Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs ride. She did OK on that ride; physically it is very tame, but at one point I thought her heart was going to leap right out of her chest. She much preferred the even tamer stuff - the Mad Hatter's spinning tea cups, some of the Bug's Life stuff, the carousel's were big and she LOOVED the huge "Ferrist Wheel". She wasn't especially interested in the things she called "roaster collers", but she adored the Heimlich caterpillar train ride (I think she rode that more than any other).

Somehow, we managed to get her to go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride with us. I'd never been to Disneyland either, so Dawn really wanted me to go on it. To help Rachel see that it was OK, we played up throwing our arms up in the air and enjoying ourselves. She did fairly well with it, though I don't think she really thought it was that great. Not like "It's a Small World" (and now I'm going to have that damned song rattling around in my head the rest of the day. Good job.), certainly, which she went on several times, but no abject terror.

A few weeks later, I picked Rachel up from my parents' place on my bike. At the time, she was still riding strapped into a seat mounted directly to the bike behind my seat. My parents live on a hill, so we had to start out going down said hill. I happened to look down and see her shadow on the ground -

arms thrown up in the air, yelling "wheeeeee" as if she were on a roaster coller.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No longer common courtesy

As I was standing on BART this evening, a large and obviously injured woman, with her leg resting across her companion's lap had her friend get up to let an obviously pregnant woman sit down. Why are there so few people who will give their seats to people who need them?

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Positive Attitude Check

I hate Huggies.

Me too, we should get Pampers next time.

Yeah. Just remember "hate Huggies" and buy Pampers.

That's pretty negative, honey. How about "prefer Pampers"?

Tempted fate...

Yesterday at lunch with a couple of friends, we were talking about how Dawn and I had a diaper-free period (actually quite a long one) between Rachel's not needing them anymore and Zachary's birth. We had a 'soft' reintroduction, since dirty diapers won't get really toxic until he starts eating things other than formula.

I mentioned to my friends that since he generally fills his diaper during the day, while I'm at work, it seems as if I haven't had to change one in a couple of weeks. I should have known better than to tempt fate that way.

When I got home, I offered to change him so Dawn could sit down to dinner. One very full dark green pasty diaper...

Then this morning I changed him when he woke up... And was surprised to find another dirty one. And then after breakfast, he filled another one!

Evidently the price of commenting that I'd managed to avoid dirty diapers that long was 3 in a little more than 12 hours.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I'm standing in the BART station closest to my office in San Francisco. As I walked on to the escalator down to the platform, they were saying over the PA that there's another train directly behind this one... And reminding people in stern tones to stand behind the yellow safety strip. Never a good sign.

So I got down to the platform as a train was closing its doors. The paltform was somewhat crowded, but not ridiculously so. Rumor has it that was a Pittsburg train. As soon as that one left, another came. I got on that one fairly easily.

Then came the trouble closing the doors. Then the operator had to leave the cab to lock the door that wouldn't close. THEN they took the train out of service.

Next in was a Richmond train... It started to seem as if something was wrong when the sign said it was 10 cars but it ended before the back of the station. After a moment, they annoinced it was having a mechanical problem and wouldn't open its doors. It left fairly promptly after that. I think that's 3 straight trains leaving without picking anyone up. From what they're saying on the PA, it sounds as if they've locked the entry gates because it is so crowded down here.

The next train in was another Pittsburgh train, but I couldn't squeeze on. There were many pleas and dire warnings not to hold the doors open. The train managed to leave, to many cheers, as did the next, a Dublin train. I am now stepping onto a Pittsburgh, which will surely be chock full. And there's a woman here with her bike...not allowed at this hour.

I overheard a guy after the 2nd train telling someone on his cell phone that it is laughable. Most people are being fairly good natured about it. So far.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Evidently the entire room of jurors was there for a single trial. About 9:30, the judge came down, with her staff, to announce that she had some good news and some bad news for us. Once the good news that we're all excused and our service is complete for a year was announced, I was surprised that she thought the bad news was worth announcing. It is as if we might have known we were the for a single trial or what said trial was about and therefore care that one of the parties is sick and the trial won't start today.

Don't get me wrong, it is too bad one of the parties is sick, but I don't even know whether it was a civil or criminal trial, much less who the parties are, so it can't really be considered bad news.

Then the judge introduced her staff... Two clerks, a reporter and a bailiff. Again... Why is this important to me? And why is it worth the judge's time to drag her staff down to the jury room? I suppose now that there's no trial today, none of them have anything to do.

All in all just a slightly odd way to spend a morning. I was shocked to see only three or four people asking blatantly stupid questions. There was one guy who's actually in jury selection since last week, but didn't evidently understand he's not due back until NEXT Tuesday. Or the guy who called over and over last night trying to find out whether to report; perhaps if he'd called the jury number rather than the office he'd have gotten the message that he wasn't needed.

Justice system propaganda

We were just shown an orientation video. It starts out very patriotic, both for the U.S. and for California, which it says, and I quote, "is the greatest state in the Union". Later, it turns from direct patriotism to how good being a juror will make you feel and even mentioning that many jurors keep in touch after their trials are over. That drew a few chuckles. I spent a lot of the video trying to decide whether the judge in the video might be one of the two judges I know from my childhood. Turns out I do - she looks just like an older version of her daughter, with whom I went to high school.

Now we sit and see whether they need us. It looks as if there may be wireless, so I suppose I should have brought my laptop.

I am really hoping they won't select me. I am generally interested in being on a jury, but this is not a good time. I have deadlines at work that don't just magically go away (perhaps I can get some of them extended some, but I don't know), we have the finalization hearing for our adoption of Zachary in a few days, and I'm taking a vacation a few days after that. I'm not going to make a good juror right now.

A friend of mine said to wear a tie-dye and play up by liberal Berkeley roots. I may well do the later, if it seems appropriate, but, as the son of a lawyer, I couldn't bring myself to do the former.

Another friend tells a story about showing up to juror selection in a Bart Simpson t-shirt with the words "I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, nobody can prove anything.". He claims to have been excused as a result.

A First Time For Everything

I am sitting in a jury room in Oakland. For the first time in my life I've actually been called to report for jury duty. Until today, I've always checked in the night before (and usually then again the morning of) and been told my service was at an end.

There have also been several times I've been summoned again in less than a year and gotten out of it thanks to recent 'service'. My favorite was a few years ago, not long after I moved from SF to Oakland, I got a jury summons from SF.

The summons was addressed to me in Oakland; the envelope had a large admonition to the USPS not to forward it out of county, but in their defense, it was SENT out of county by the court, not forwarded. I wrote 'see mailing address' on it and sent it back. I am convinced that someone in SF, on opening my reply, called someone at the court in Oakland... "Hey, summon this guy."

Happily, it had only been three months or so since I was last summoned in Alameda, so I just wrote the prior badge number on it and sent it back.

Good try, though.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Two Kinds of People

"There are two kinds of people in this world. Cake people and pie people."

Long pause for this to sink through Dylan's attention as he reads something on the computer.

"What did you say?"

Dawn points at the cookbook in her hand. "It says that right here: there are two kinds of people in this world, cake people and pie people."

"It does not say that!"

"It does!" Dawn holds up the book to show the title. "And this is the pie BIBLE."

"OK. And where's the cake bible?"

"Right behind you."

The Anti-Raisin

We ran out of raisins a week or so ago. Who knew what trouble this would cause? The real amusement, though, has been in how hard it has turned out to be to replenish our supply. As of yesterday morning, Dawn and Darryl have forgotten raisins on at least three different shopping trips, so when I went to do some shopping for the BBQ we were going to, Dawn put raisins on my list. Darryl usually has raisins in his oatmeal and Rachel likes ants on a log. For the BBQ, though, Dawn was planning on making cole slaw, and needed raisins. Naturally, Rachel and I forgot them despite their presence on my little list.

Fine, so we'll stop by the store on the way to the BBQ and get some, no big deal. I also wanted to pick up some drinks. By the time we got to John & Karolyn's, it had become abundantly clear that we were going to have enough food to sink a ship, so Dawn didn't bother making the slaw.

Cut to this morning as Darryl was trying to make his oatmeal concoction.

Darryl: Where are the raisins?

Dawn: I don't know... Dylan?

Dylan: I don't know, I didn't unpack them. They were in the bag with the cole slaw stuff.

Dawn: Do you see any bags left to be unpacked?

Dylan: No. Wait. They weren't in the bag with the slaw stuff, they were in the bag with the drinks... which didn't come home with us.

Clearly Dawn's conclusion that we are the Anti-Raisin Household is correct. Some mystical force is preventing raisins from coming to our house!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

So much for MMS blogging

On the 24th of June, I sent two posts to this blog by MMS. As of right now, they still haven't posted on their own, so I dug them out of my blackberry's outbox and posted them by email. Evidently MMS blogging needs some work. I will stick with email now, although I wish that it used the same font for posting that way. I still don't understand why there isn't a blogger app for the blackberry.