Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stuck in Time

I am stuck in San Francisco time. There is really no reason to exit that time-zone, since the kids are relatively stuck there also, and when they wake up, all they want to do is play the new Wii. Which means that wii can sleep (wii!!!).

One of my problems that I have with work is that I want to work on the things that I like doing. For example, I like coding on the models that I create. This is the fun part of my job. But, really, I have all sorts of other crap that I really should be doing. Like e-mailing students who ask about books and grades and crap. I just don't want to deal with it. I want to code and live in a little bubble where I can enjoy my job. I shouldn't have to deal with it on vacation, right?

Well, I am going to code for a few more minutes while ignoring the rest of the world and the 2800 e-mails in my inbox that I should really be going through and filing and crap. I typically take the week between Christmas and New Years to clean out my inbox. I just have no motivation to do that.

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Book List

This is a book list that I saw on The Professor Chaos Blog. The idea is to bold the items that you have read, italicize the items that you started and leave plain the items that you have never read. Interesting stuff....

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (I read all of these out loud to my kids.)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (high school)
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (high school)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (read the 1st one to Crab-Girl)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (high school)
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (high school)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (a few times, once to the kids)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (high school)
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (high school)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (the first one)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (something like the first 5 of them)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (kids again - I would have to say that this is probably one of the best kids books out there)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (high school)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (oh the shame!!!)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving (best book on the list)
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding(high school)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (I should try this again)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (high school - sad, so sad)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (I'm still confused....)
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White (to the kids...)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (I heard an abridged version of the story, I don't think that this counts, though)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Here are 10 more "classics" that should be added:

101 Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
102 Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
103 Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan
104 Neuromancer - William Gibson
105 Sundiver - David Brin
106 The Shining - Stephen King
107 The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov
108 Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein
109 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K Dick
110 Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

Maybe if you copy this, you could add 10 more. Send me a message if you do copy this. It has sort of inspired me to read some of these. Some of my 10 added is from a top 100 SF list.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Complaint Number One

What did I get on my final exam??????? [Answer - not what you wanted.]

I got [blah] on the first exam, and [blah] on the second exam, and did all the homework and missed [a few] quizzes.

I did [the other assignment] also!!!

I don't know why I got a [lower than expected grade], I was expecting to get [a higher grade than I got].

I answered by stating what they got on all of their tests, assignments and quizzes. Then what the average of that was. Which was a solid grade (i.e., 3 points typically separate grades, and they were 1.4 points into the grade.) I am not sure how to reply to this. Uh, you got this grade. Sorry that you don't like it.

Ok, I just figured out how to make a histogram in excel. I gave 20 A+s, 15 As and 16 A-s. I would have to say that this was an easy class. Too easy.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More SF Fun!

We are still in San Francisco, and are basically being forced to relax. The crablets go to bed every night at something like 7:30-8:00, and since we are staying in America's Smallest Hotel Room (tm), we have no choice but to sit there quietly and read for the next couple of hours until it is our bed time. Ah Shucks.

Last night I did have a stressful event, though. I logged on to the web page to enter my grades and couldn't figure out how to enter them. I looked around and around and around, but couldn't figure it out. Well, it turns out that one of the admin people in our department has to give me permission to enter my grades, and they sort of forgot. And it turns out that I had forgotten my own dongle thing that gives me the constantly changing password. It is in my winter coat in my closet in my mud room at home. The computer people were nice enough to send me a temporary password that would let me enter my grades, but it expired this morning. So, with no ability to enter grades and an expiring password, I was a little stressed out. I let it go though. No cursing. Aren't you proud of me?

This morning, the admin person gave me permission and the computer people gave me an extension. I entered my grades while at the poster session of AGU. Double checked them (only found 2 mistakes - good thing I checked!) and pushed enter. I think (please!) that I am done with this semester! Yeah!!!

Well, probably not. I would imaging that I will hear some complaints. I hope to God not, but I am not too optimistic. I gave something like 15 A+'s, so I would think that it would be hard as hell to get a C in my class. But, some people did.

I think that I have learned an extremely valueable lesson teaching this class - make a grading policy and stick to it like glue. No non-predefined extra credit. No wiggling on how much crap is worth. Make simple statements that can not be argued. I keep thinking that the students are reasonable people who want to learn and understanding that they have to actually work for their grade. Some are. Some are not. It is amazing how much energy you spend on the ones who are not willing to do work themselves.

Change of subject!

Tomorrow we are off to Muir Woods. That should be fun. The kids and Crab Mama have been having a good time in SF. They have been to the Exploritorium and other museums. They have gone to the Aquarium twice. They have taken a couple boat rides (one out to Alcatrez). We think that Crab Boy may have been very nervous about going to Alcatrez, since we think that no one told him that the jail wasn't actually used anymore. Can you imagine being an 7 year old boy and your mom is taking you to jail on an island. Yikes!

Alright, I have to finish some other work for the kid's school, so I should go now....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

San Fransisco Treat

I am now sitting on a bed in a hotel in San Fransisco. Crab-Mama is reading her blogs in the corner chair, Crab-Girl is reading her book in bed, and Crab-Boy is asleep. We are in a hotel room that it probably quite large by European standards, but we are a long way from Europe. We may be closer to Japan. Well, it's bit by their standards too. Sh*t. The room is freaking small, ok? When someone is sitting at the desk, no one else can move in the room.

One of the great things about sharing a hotel room with people that you love is using the bathroom. Enough of that sh*t. Next subject.

I am attending the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting, which has about 14,000 people showing up. There are just a crazy insane number of people here. I feel very small when I am in a sea of people who are all scientists "in my field", and I don't recognize anyone. There are just too many freaking geologists in the world!

Last Friday was a complete cluster f*ck. It was a culmination of all sort of crazy things. For example, I held my final exam "make up" Friday morning. Didn't even think to reserve a room, since classes are over and all the rooms should be empty, right? No. They were holding some sort of a seminar on Friday morning at 9 AM in my room. F*ckers! So, I had to figure out where to hold my exam right there on the spot, with a bunch of student standing around waiting for it to start. Nice. So, I happen to see a sign that says the building supervisor's phone number on it, and call him. Nice Guy. Finds me a room right away. Fantastic! Problem solved. Students all take the test and we get on with the day.

Problem number two. I am getting my office renovated. When would be the best time in the world to get your office renovated? While you are on travel! So, they are starting the renovation tomorrow, which is fantastic. The problem is that I had to have all of my stuff out of my office by the time I left on Friday. Everything. Every Freaking Thing. So, Wednesday, I pitch (well, recycle, which doesn't roll off the tongue like "pitch"...) about 4,000 pounds of paper and pack up a lot of crap. Thursday I do a little bit more. And Friday I have to move my computers and my desk and clean up the pile of crap that I can't decide what to do with. Nice.

Problem number three. I am leaving for AGU the next day and have a poster. That means that I have to print the poster. Which means I have to finish the poster. I had a nice blank spot on the poster for a certain project that I was working on, that I had hoped to make more progress on, but alas, I did not have the time (surprised?) So, I found some results from an e-mail that I sent out while on my trip to Finland (hey, you can read about that in my blog!) and stuck those on my poster. Problem solved! Now, I just had to print the thing.

Printing the poster shouldn't be a problem. You just export the inDesign document to PDF and viola, you have a universally transportable document. Bull Sh*t. Everytime I have tried to print a document from a PDF from inDesign, I get screwed. So, this time, I (a) make a PDF; (b) make an EPS; and (c) take the inDesign document and all of the figures and crap with me. Then, when it doesn't work, I can just whip out a new one. Well, crazy thing - the place that I go to (at the university!) doesn't allow you to print to the poster machine from a Mac any more. F*ckers! Turns out that the PDF file looks fine on the Windows machine, but when we print it, it misses the bottom 1/3 of the poster (preview printing, not full up...) The EPS file is missing all of the fonts, so it subs in some crappy looking crap that craps out. Then, printing directly from inDesign appears to work! Hells yeah! Except it doesn't. 35 minutes later, the poster is still stuck in the queue and they don't know why. I spend the next 30 minutes while the guy behind the counter tries 100% exactly the same things that I tried before (PDF, EPS, inDesign - works! come back in a little while.... come back... hey it didn't print - got stuck in the queue....) F*ckers! I blow a freaking gasket at this point, since I was now late to pick up the kids (read problem four below). I stomp over to a Mac, load up my poster and make a gigantic TIFF file at 300 DPI (104 Megabytes). Even f*cking Windows can't screw up a TIFF file. I should have done this about 4 hours before. Next time, no f*cking around - strait to TIFF. Anyways, the poster printed. I ran on the ice to my car and drove like the wind to pick up the kids.

Ok, let's take a moment to calm down. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Stop dropping the F-bomb. You can do it. In. Out.

Ok, I can continue.

Problem number four. Crab-Girl had a play-like thing on Friday evening at the school's curiculum fair. At 5:30. On the night before we leave for 8 days. Well, timing is always key in these adventures. I, like the Dr. Dumbass that I am, agreed to drive all the way across town to pick them up at Grandpa-Eyore's house and take them back to school (Crab-Mama works 5 minutes from Granda's house and 5 minutes from school.) So, in the midst of the poster delema (as revealed above), I tried to call Crab-Mama to ask her pleasantly to please pick the lovely children up and take them to school, since I would be running perhaps a little behind schedule. As later reported, Crab-Mama's cell phone was set to vibrate and she never received my 20 phone calls - the last of which went something like "F****************************!". I call Grampa to ask if he has heard from CM, but he hasn't. So, I drive like a freaking maniac over to his house to pick up said children. But, in the little burb where I hail from, you can't drive like a maniac, because there is really no where to pass people who are driving 5 MPH UNDER the speed limit. F*********************!!!! DRIVE!!! DRIVE!!! COME ON!!!!! HOLY SH*T!! CAN YOU NOT PRESS ON THE LITTLE PEDDLE????? THE ONE TO THE RIGHT!!!!! F******************!!!!!

Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.

We make it with 2 minutes to spare. The "play" starts 10 minutes late.

And that was Friday. Oh, I forgot - we had to pack once we got home.

Saturday we pack up the rest of our stuff and take off to the airport. Now we are in the big city.

One of Crab-Boy's comments was something like "I don't want to stay in one of those big buildings because if an Earthquake comes it could be knocked down." A boy after my own heart.

Ok, I think I am going to go piss my wife off. The 14,000 pound dinner burrito is not really sitting well with the $2 piece of pizza I had for lunch. It sounds like they are having quite an argument. Why couldn't they at least put a freaking fan in the bathroom....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

On a Cold Night in December

Man is it cold outside. Perhaps I am a pansy. Perhaps I am just weak. Perhaps it is really freaking cold. Who knows. I just walked over the the neighbors house to pick up Crab-Boy from his sledding play date. He stayed over there all afternoon and ate dinner over there. We just finished dinner here and all, so I get all bundled up and walk over there. It is probably about a 1/2 mile round trip. Grueling, I tell you. It is also dark. Anyways, I trudge over there, only to find out that they are in the middle of a movie, and can Crab-Boy stay longer. Who am I to deny a little crab some Kung Fu Panda? So I turn around and trudge home. Oh well.

A couple of weeks ago we hosted Thanksgiving. 26 people over. A freshly killed free range organic turkey was the main course, while others brought tons and tons of food. We also made a bunch of pies. Others brought lots of desserts to. I would say that if you didn't count the turkey, we had more desserts than other food. I ate so much food the my stomach hurt all of the following day. It was great to see all of our family members and talk about life. Everyone got along great, and a good time was had by most of the people.

Crab Momma's sister and boyfriend spent the week with us. This was an interesting time. In case you don't know, Crab Momma doesn't really like people. Especially people who are not Crabs (i.e., the 4 of us). And to have non-Crabs spend a week was quite stressful. And there was much arguing. Then, to add a little fuel to the fire, my sister and her husband come up from Miami to spend Thanksgiving with us (therefore they spend the night before and the night of Thanksgiving). My Mom also came over for the same time. So, it was like taking Crab Mamma and putting her in a pressure cooker for a few days. Incredibly, she survived and didn't kill anyone.

The crab-lets are learning to play "Yellow Submarine" on the guitar. Crab-Girl learned how to play the beginning of "Wish You Were Here" today. Guitar lessons are pretty fun for the kids. Their teacher is fantastic. He really knows how to entertain the kids and teach them on the level that is appropriate.

Monday is the last day of class, except for the final exam. I can not express how incredibly happy I am about this. But, with the end of the semester comes the end of class grovelling. Many of the students who are getting crappy grades are now coming to me asking what they can do to not fail the class. I have to say that my class is not hard. It is not hard to get an A in the class. It seems impossible to me to actually fail the class. They have to just do a few things like come to class, do the homework and do a mediocre job on the tests to get a B in the class. Miss a bunch of classes and you might dip down to a C. To get ewer than this, you have to do little homework and royally f*ck up the tests. Anyways, enough bitching about students.

This was a mish-mash post. I am sure that you forgive me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crab-Girl Speaks About Bunnies

I have 4 pets, Draco the bearded dragon, Fishy the goldfish, Sunset the guppy, and Paul the bunny. I love animals!!!!!!!

A long time ago, we worked at Pig Hoppers, which was a shelter for bunnies. One day we went to the bunny hospital, there we saw Paul, he was stuffed in a tiny cage. We were there to look for a friend for Sarah, my bunny who died. I wanted to see if they would be friends, they were. I wanted to bring him home, but I couldn't because there was a fair that week so I had to wait until the bunnies and the people came back, and hope that Paul wasn't sold. He wasn't so I got him and still have him.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Here, There and Everywhere

Last Wednesday I headed off to Berkeley to help with a proposal. I got to visit my buddy Tom and his family over there in hippy-ville. I learned a lot about how to write a NASA satellite proposal. I have to say that it is just nuts. NASA requires a HUGE amount of work, with the proposals covering every single aspect of the design and build - from how to fit together the instruments to the bus to how many meetings per month the project manager should have with different team members. Everything. The review that I was at was to make sure that they actually accounted for everything, and not just almost everything. This happened on Thursday.

On Thursday night, I flew down to Los Angles to spend a day with my friend Joe. We spent the night chatting about crap. Then in the Morning I got to see how a different family does school in the AM. I was amazed. The kids got up and watched a little TV. Then, when Joe got up, they got dressed and got ready to go. Joe handed them a granola bar, grabbed their lunches and we left. Holy Crap! No 20 minutes of eating Rice Krispies! No arguing about wearing jackets or coats (since it was 70 degrees!) It was like a Festivus Miracle! If only we lived in LA! The grass is literally greener on the other side, since it is snowing here.

After dumping the kids and a nice breakfast (no granola bars for us!), we went looking for a bike for me to ride. We found a place that rented mountain bikes ($20 for the day!!) I don't think that there was actually a new bike in the place - all used. It was interesting.... We debated for a little while about getting a patch kit and a pump, but hey who every gets a flat?

Next we drove north on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway for all you non-hipsters out there) past Malibu, to a little state park. We unloaded the bikes and started off down the trail. Joe had only been to this particular place once, so, of course, we got lost. No big thing. We biked about 7 miles in before I got a flat.

Turn around, start walking.

We come to a fork in the trail, and being smart and all, we decided to take the route that we had not gone down before, thinking that it would be a short cut. We also thought that there may be more people. We did run into someone after about 1/2-1 mile. He had a patch kit and all, so I changed my tire. Here is a nice picture of me in action with the nice fellow who helped out.

At that point, the guy (who Joe called "Frenchie" - you will never guess why) informed us that we were going in the wrong direction. We were like "nu uh!" and he was like "you guys are morons". After the tire was changed and all, we got back on the bikes and went back the way that we came. At the branch Joe whipped out his iPhone and realized that without cell service, the GPS doesn't provide much info. So, being tricky (and a smarty pants), Joe holds his iPhone up to the sky. God beamed down the appropriate information, and we got the map. Frenchie was right. We are idiots.

On the way back from biking, we stopped in Malibu to go to Starbuck's and hit the bathroom. Interestingly, Joe knew exactly where there was a public toilet. Of course, with kids, you know where every bathroom is within 20 miles of your house (in LA, this is expanded to 100 miles, I guess?) After that, we headed back home, had dinner and headed to the airport to catch the red eye.

I actually slept a little bit on the plane, which is pretty good for me. I think that this is two flights in a row (both red eyes!) that I slept on. The airport is always fun at 5 AM - all the stores are closed, there are people sleeping on benches, and it is typically quite empty. Anyways, I grogged out to my car. When I went to the airport on Wednesday, the lot was quite full, so I had to park someplace different than normal. So, of course I walked out to my normal spot, looked around, and realized what a moron I am, turned around, and walked back to where my car was. Did I mention that it is much more cold in Michigan than in California?

I then head off to Monroe High School, where Crab-Girl had a Lego Robotics competition. Her school entered the competition with no real experience with the Lego robots or the competition or anything related to it. So, with a month or so to go before the dealy, they started working on a robot and accomplishing all of the things the robot was supposed to do. Crab-Girl is leaning over my shoulder while I write this, so I will defer my description until later. As a small taste of the event, envision, if you will, 150 middle school students trapped in a cafeteria with free access to Mt. Dew, Pizza, Candy and robots. Yeah, you get it. Here is a picture of Crab-Girl with her team mate at the competition, running the robot. She was the lead programmer. Hell yeah.

We stayed there until about 4 PM (after arriving at 6 AM, 2 hours before anyone else...) We gave her team mate in the picture a ride home, and who would guess that they both love fishing? There was much Bass-Talk in the back seat as we drove the hour home (she points out that they were also discussing Pikes). Once home, we collapsed. Well, at least I did. Who the h*ll knows what anyone else did.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What a wonderful week

Good things that happened this week:

1. Obama was elected president.
2. A conservative judge was replaced by liberal judge on the MI supreme court.
3. We went to a Coldplay concert on Monday night.
4. My students did their talks on Friday, so I didn't have to prepare a lecture.

Relatively bad things that happened this week:

1. I had to make a make up a test for the class.
2. I had all day meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday with visitors from Japan, then had individual meetings with them on Thursday and Friday. While the meetings were interesting and I got to talk to people who do a lot of stuff like I do, they took a long, long time.
3. I have yet another proposal due early next. It is a great idea. I just need to utilize the concept that I don't have to act on all of my ideas.

Overall it was a pretty freaking good week.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Here I am in Fairbanks, Alaska. I flew in on Friday afternoon (well, it took 12 hours to get here...) and flying back tonight (Sunday night). We are installing a Fabry Perot Interferometer, which measures the winds in the upper atmosphere (250 km altitude). It does this by looking at the doppler shift of the light emission at 630 nm, which is where Oxygen transitions from an excited state to the ground state.

Above is a picture of a radar that is encased in a building. They do this because the wind can push the radar around and make it so you can't point it where you want it to go. I thought it was cool because it completely blocks the sun, which only rises about 20 degrees about the horizon. The temperature here is a little low. It is Fairbanks, after all. I think that when this picture was taken, it was about 5 degrees out. Earlier, when we were leaving the house, it was about -15. That isn't overly cold, but it is shocking when you are used to 40s and 50s.

This picture shows the FPI being lifted up to the platform in the high bay room where we mounted it. The black thing that looks like it has little wings is the FPI. The wing things are there so we can do different filters (i.e., look at different wavelengths).

This is the FPI attached to the pieces of plywood that are supporting it.

From the floor you can see the jumble of wires and crap that make the FPI work. It is pretty amazing, since the thing is a relatively simple design. There is a lot of "support" pieces that go along with it, which complicate thing a bit. Heaters and lasers and sky-scanner boxes, and all sorts of other stuff.....

This is a view from inside the dome. The FPI looks out into the sky, so you have to have a clear dome. I stuck my head up an took a picture, and this is what I see.

Ok, it looks like one of the guys that I am working with fixed the problem that he was having with the software (wrong camera setting!!!), and so I have to go back to work.

I'll be back in Michigan in about 19 hours!

Before I go, here is a lovely image showing just how crazy wife is.... If you get one of these for Christmas, don't say that I didn't warn you....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

blogging when I can

Here I am at the kid's guitar lessons, stealing wireless from the next door business. Crab Girl is in with Super-Cool-Guitar-Teacher working on scales. Crab Boy is playing on my Blackberry next to me, but just asked if he can play on my computer. It is about the first free moment that I have had in a long, long time.

My class is 1/2 over! I am hopeful that it will ease up a bit in the next month. I gave the students a project to do - they have to make a 7 page powerpoint presentation on a space topic - almost any topic that they want at all, as long as it is related to space or science. Then - for extra credit - they can present it to the class! If 1/2 the class wants to present, then that would be about 45 5-10 minute presentations (or 225-550 minutes of class time). That is a lot of time, and will take 6-10 classes! Holy crap! I only have about 20 classes left! That means that I only need to come up with 10-14 more lectures! Yikes - I still have a LOT of stuff that I have to present!

Last night I bought tickets to go see Coldplay and Metallica. I am going to do more stuff that I want to do and stop feeling guilty about simple things like this. I bought two tickets to each, but don't have anyone to go with. Maybe my wife will go with me to the Coldplay concert. Who knows? I have to find someone to go to the Metallica concert with. Anyone want to come?

I played soccer on Thursday and pulled a muscle in my leg. I rode my mountain bike to work a couple of times this last week, and really worked out my quads (I think that those are the muscles....???) So, going into soccer, they were already sore. Then, at some point during the game, my right leg just started shouting in pain. Not screaming, just moaning sort of loudly. Now, two days later, my muscles still hurt a lot. Fun. I wanted to ride my bike in to work on Friday, but was afraid that it would hurt too much. I am getting old.

Crab Mamma is having a party tonight. One of her co-workers is leaving, so she decided to throw a party for him. It is strange, since she is quite anti-social and does not like being in crowds of people. Maybe, since it is pretty much her friends, it is ok. Hmmm....

I finished a proposal to NASA this last week. I interviewed a few people for a post doc positions. None of them are perfect, so I am not sure what to do. I think that I will actually hire two Post Docs, and hope that I get some more money in the next two years. I am pretty confident, but who knows. My boss is trying to pressure me to hire someone who, most likely, will not fit in. That is because she is the wife of someone he really wants to hire. It makes sense from his point of view. The problem is that she doesn't do any modeling. I am a modeler. I model. She doesn't. I have hired people who don't model into my group before. It has not worked. They don't want to model, which ends up being a small problem. Which grows into a big problem. So, then what do I do? How many times can you tell your boss to bugger-off? N or N+1? I am up to N+1000. I am constantly fighting back. So, more stress. Instead of being a complicated decision, it end up being a quagmire.

I would imagine that you have noticed that pretty much all humor has gone out of my blog. That is how I feel right now. Life pretty much s*cks *ss.

But - I was told that I get to teach this class next semester, which means that all of the prep work that I am doing right now gets to be reused again! My life will be MUCH easier next semester. Then, a year from now, I teach the same class again, which means that it will be great! So, while life is sh*t right now, it will be better shortly.

Oh - on a better note, we are all going to San Fransisco for AGU this year. So, around the middle of December, we are taking an 8-day trip to California. That should be a good time. The lead up to AGU is going to be painful. I have to do a million things. I don't really have time to do them, but I have to. Well, I am sure that it will work out, and we will have a great time. Then, once we are back home after AGU, I am spending two weeks doing nothing. Nothing at all. Glorious nothing.

Ok, that is enough of a pity party. Sorry.

Monday, October 6, 2008


What has happened in the last week? Uh...

I went to South Carolina to set up an instrument to measure the winds in the upper atmosphere. It was an interesting trip. I hate flying in small airplanes. I am a chicken sh*t. I admit it.

Oh yeah, I worked on lesson plans, too.

Speaking of lesson plans, I really need to work on some....

Sorry that this blog sucks b*tt right now. Maybe in a couple of months from now, my life, and therefore my blog, will be better.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Sitting on the bathroom floor

As I write this, I am in my pajamas sitting on the kid's bathroom floor, watching over the bearded dragon, who we are giving a bath, in the hopes that he takes a dump. Ah, what depths we sink too as parents. You see, bearded dragons relax in baths. The relax so much that they let loose. Draco hasn't taken a dump in about 3 weeks or so, and he has to be mighty clogged up, if you get my drift. So, I sit, waiting for him to sh*t. I actually doubt it will happen. He is too clogged. We have done this before, and typically it takes about 15 minutes, but it has been 30 or so. F*ck. This is bad news. Come on, you little dragon, sh*t.

I am listening to the new Coldplay disk. It is very good. I imagine that I have blogged about this before. Since I ran out of disk space, I moved all of my music off my hard drive and onto a portable disk that never seems to move around. So, when I get a new CD (e.g., Coldplay), and rip it to mp3s, it is the only music I have on my computer. I guess I listen to it a lot.... well, only 10 times since ripping it....

I got the new Metallica album also. It is pretty good. The first few songs are fantastic, but some of them are a little boring. I was majorly impressed with the album, then I read a review and they railed on it (lame, nothing new, same old crap as on all the last 5 albums), and I felt like a dumb-*ss, since I liked the album. Now I hate it just like everyone else. It's a good thing that I can think for myself. Actually, I like the album. A few of the songs rock pretty hard.

I have got to rant here for a couple of steps:

1. If McCain and Palin win, we are f*cked. I guess I don't have to say much more than that.

2. If we bailout Wall Street with $700,000,000,000.00, I will be disappointed. The whole US budget is $2.5 Trillion dollars. Something like $625B is paid in interest every year already. Can you believe how much money we owe. I mean, holy sh*t. We, the people of the United States of America, owe China and other countries so much money for wars and other crap, that we are drowing. The value of the US dollar is going down because we owe so much. Then the cost of oil goes up because it is traded in US dollars, and people can put gas in the guzzlers. Which causes people to not be able to buy all the crap that they want too, which then causes the economy to go into the crapper. Now, if we give Wall Street $700B, people can borrow more money to buy their crap and jump-start the economy. Maybe if we used the non-existant $700B to bailout the people who can't pay their mortage, instead of the banks that gambled with the money that they thought that they would get with they ever-increasing house valued mortages, it may actually do some good - the banks would stop failing and Americans would be saved from increasing interest rates and such. (Is this a run-on paragraph?)

3. Did I mention that I think that this $700B bailout is complete sh*t?

4. GM and Ford and Chrysler buried themselves with crap cars for a long, long time. We lost a lot of jobs in Michigan, and did the US come and bail them out? Well, oh, I guess the auto industry just got $25B from congress also.

5. The stock market took a dump today. Draco needs to learn from the stock brokers. 780 points. Ouch.

6. I need to work more. I don't think that I am actually dead yet. I'll try harder.

7. I feel like I am actually getting into shape. I was riding my bike all over today and actually felt good. I didn't feel too much like hurling. Now, I am sure that once I feel really good, winter will set in and I won't be able to exercise for 3 months, thereby turning my *ss into flab and my rock-hard calves into jello (or ice cream, ummmmm, ice cream....)

Ok, I done with p*tching a b*tch.

Palin for President!!!! Oh, God, no!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Week

Wow, I am starting to feel pretty lame. I am overwhelmed by my class. By the time I get done with my lecture for a Monday, I still have to make the homework. On Mondays, I am overwhelmed by meetings and teaching class. Tuesday is probably the best day of the week for me, since I have many lectures done for Wednesdays. In a few weeks, this will change. On Fridays I am doing demos and discussions about bad movie physics. I have no lectures done, so Thursdays are pretty tough coming up with a lecture. Sundays are horrible also, since I have to come up with Monday lectures. Blerg.

Crab Boy's fish had babies. We now have little itty-bitty fish living in the tank. It is pretty cool. We cleaned the tank out yesterday, and hopefully we didn't kill too many of them....

Wow, that is probably the most exciting thing that has happened this week. Holy Crap.

I am going to Clemson in a couple of weeks. Then to Alaska a few weeks after that. Then San Fransisco in December. Then, maybe Chili in January. Then Hawaii in February.

Oh, here are a few things:

1. Our soccer team has lost 3 games in a row, although we play better each week.

2. Metallica released a new album. The critics seem to hate it. There are some pretty rocking tunes on it.

3. I destroyed Crab Mama's bike. Imagine, if you will, driving into a garage with out taking the bike off the roof rack. Ah, you get the general idea.


Monday, September 15, 2008


Well, it has started. Classes. I have pretty much disappeared off the face of the Earth and am working like a dog for the 3 hours of lectures that I have to present each week. Then there is the homework. Luckily, we have figure out how to get a computer to grade them all, instead of us (I have a graduate student helper!) having to grade them.

The kids started school last week - or was that a couple of weeks ago? Holy crap, this month is going fast. Like a blur. Ok, the kids started two weeks ago. They seem to be loving school. Crab boy now has some friends in class, which is fantastic. Crab girl seems to love being in middle school right now. Hopefully, that will continue. If she starts hating school and is permanently marred by the experience (and who was not marred by middle school), my wife will kill me. I will never, ever, ever live it down. All I can say is:

I am sorry dear. I know that you were right and I was wrong. I am slime.

Hopefully, I will never have to use that line. Well, maybe I will just put it out there, knowing that it is pretty much applicable everyday....

Crab girl is now at middle school camp for the week. It is the first time that she has been away from home without a parent or grandparent present for any length of time. I am sad. My little girl is growing up.

Ah, another thing that I have been doing is playing soccer on Thursday nights. It has been pretty crazy, since the games start at 11 PM. I have to admit, if you didn't know, I am typically in bed by 11 PM. Asleep. Like, really asleep. So, to start playing at 11 is hard. The game ends around midnight, home by 12:30, sitting around sweating until 1:30, then try to fall asleep by 2. Up at 6:45 to start the day. Kids to school by 8. Teach at 9. F*ck am I tired.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Salsa Experience

Crab-Mama has gone insane, in case I have not mentioned this before. She is canning everything she can get her hands on. It is crazy. In the middle of the summer, she canned 42 jars of strawberry jam. Then a few weeks ago, she canned a b*tt-load of blueberries. Then a mountain of peach jam. Well, when we got home from our vacation, there had been a tomato explosion in our garden. Something like 45 kilo-tons of maters ripened while we were away. What to do with this many tomatoes? Easy - can them!

So, she made a lot of tomato sauce, some pureed tomatoes, then went out on a limb and made some catsup. That was insane. Do you know how many tomatoes you need for one pint of catsup? Something like a million. Then you boil and boil and boil until it gets down to a paste. After 3 hours of slaving, she got one pint. You could say that she was rather disappointed. I am not sure when we will ever use it, since it is like gold to her now. I can envision the dinner table conversation, when Crab-girl slathers the catsup on her fries - "That's too much! Do you know how long it took me to make that! Jesus-H-Christ!" (what does the "H" stand for anyways???) Anyways, it tasted good, so I am going to try to get her to make more.... Or not....

Next, we decided to try Auntie-Crab-1's recipe for salsa. (Well, I didn't decide. I am not the decider. I am the follower.) We end up having almost everything to go into the salsa, except some of the hot peppers, so we go to the farmers market and get some there. We then figure out the Auntie's recipe calls for some dried peppers, but we only had fresh peppers. I say that it is all right, call Auntie up to check, she says it is ok, but the dried peppers are more intense and concentrate the flavor more, so Crab-Mama decides that we have to do this. Everything is put on hold while we dry out some of the peppers in the brand new-to-us, slightly used, food drier thingy. The next day, we pick up where we left off and make a bunch of salsa. Did you know that salsa is like a fine wine? It has to age for a while before it is good? Auntie says at lease a month. A month? I can't wait a month! I want to try the salsa that we made now! Crap! Did you know that you can go to the store and get salsa and eat it in seconds after to pick it up from the shelf? Man, this waiting crap is for the tree-huggers. What I want to know is if you make a nacho cheese dip with homemade salsa and Velveeta, will I go to Hell?

Crab-Mama planted a few stalks of corn in the garden a few months back, and it is starting to produce ears. Well, three ears to be exact. And at different times. We picked 2 and put them in the fridge. Then the other day, we picked another ear and decided to see if the rumor that corn is best within 30 minutes of being picked is true. Holy crap - it is! The ear that she just picked was the best corn we had ever tasted! The other two ears, picked a couple days back, were complete crap compared to the super fresh corn.

Fresh veggies have taken over our lives! Someone help!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Vacation - Part II

Alright, where did we leave off? Oh yeah, in "bed". Reason number 462,747 to love backpacking - sleeping on the rock-hard ground. Ok, enough on that subject. Needless to say, I hurt in the AM.

I got much better in the morning making hot water. It turns out that you have to pressurize the gas can a little bit more to get a hotter flame. Oatmeal for breakfast for all of us except for Crab-Girl, who doesn't like oatmeal. Luckily we brought some Honeycomb(tm) (subtle product placement) along.

Now, for those who are faint of heart (or don't like discussion of poo), you should skip this paragraph. After breakfast, we all decided that we had to use the bathroom, but did not want to use the pit toilet. Crab Kids kept running right by the pit toilet, refusing to enter it. So, after a family vote, we decide to walk 1.5 miles to the nice toilet, then walk 1.5 miles back before actually starting the all day hike. While walking the 3 miles, we discussed how to design a good pit toilet (Leslie Science Center has a great, poo-ready pit-toilet with a composing poo-poo bin! Or so Crab Girl informs me.) So, what will people do for a clean toilet with running water? Oh, I know, walk a really, really, long way!

After unloading, and walking said 3 miles, we started the day. We walked to a shipwreck, well, not to the ship wreck, but to a bluff overlooking the shipwreck. Along the way, we saw many mini-bears, a few giant millipedes and a mess-o-snakes. Then, at the shipwreck, we saw about 450 million birds.

Here is the point in the story in which the brand new camera stops working. Suck.

Then we walked to a gigantic sand dune, which was somewhat like a bluff. We walked and walked and walked some more, and then seemed to loose the trail. So, we had to make a choice of going down the bluff (at around about a 75 degree angle) or turning around and walking back. Well, Crab Mama was all for going back, since there was danger involved in falling gradually (or quickly...) down the bluff. I was all for jumping, but I am a chicken sh*t, so my vote didn't really count for much. Crablets voted for running off the edge. They won! So, we sat on our a**es and scooted down the 1000 foot drop to the beach. I had so much sand up my pants that... well, you get the general idea. I have to admit that I was still a chicken sh*t and went down last, supposedly to make sure that the kids were getting down OK. Here is a picture of the slope with the kids half way down. Oh, wait, no camera.

Walking down the beach, we saw some crazy crap. There were millions and millions of shells on the beach. At one point, the entire beach was made up of little shells. Something like 1 foot deep by 15 feet from the water for 10s of feet. Huge number of shells. Absolutely crazy. Here is a picture. Oh wait, no pictures.

Crab-boy basically falls apart here. Pretty much stops walking and things just go to pot. So, we take a break. I carry him for a while, which makes him perk up. Then, after a few more miles of hiking we make it back to camp.

Dinner tonight - noodles! More boiling water. This time the noodles are pretty thick, so, even with my pump action pressure build up and turning the knob 10 times (max recommended: 3), we still got to wait for about 45 minutes for the noodles to soften up. At one point Crab-boy takes a noodle, sticks in his mouth and instantly says "it's done!", even though it took him about 5 minutes to finish chewing the thing. Needless to say, everyone was hungry and willing to kill the "chef" for some food.

It was around this time that we learned the true destructive nature of the "micro-bears". Even though we had (laughingly) hung our food from a tree in a sack, a chipmunk somehow climbed into the sack, and ate a bit of our food. We have no idea how. Maybe we didn't pull the drawstring on the sack? Who knows. But the d*mn thing got into the sack (while hanging from the tree), ate food and somehow got back OUT of the sack (while hanging from the tree). WTF?

Now, keep in mind that Crab-Mama had carefully considered everyone's eating habits and caloric needs when packing, so having a chipmunk eat away at some food is bad news for someone. Also, it should be noted that the chipmunk did not properly eat the food - i.e. maybe munch on a single pita with a little peanut butter slathered on it, no, no, he (or she) took a little nibble out of everything that we had left. If we were back in civilization (i.e. some place with clean toilets and pizza), we would have pitched the food on the idea that we could get some horrible disease from the little rodent (wasn't the plague spread by chipmunks???) But, these were extenuating circumstances - I was hungry. So, I took all of the food and just striped away the parts that the chipmunk chewed on. I am not proud of this moment, being an American, willing to throw away "tainted" food for the good of our family (even though I was brought up to not waste food - what would the starving children in Africa think?)

After dinner, washing the dishes, and cleaning up a bit, we sat around wondering what to do. I suggested that we go down to the beach and look at stars. So, we did. Except that the sun hadn't set yet. You would think, being a physicist and all, that I would know how long it takes the sun to go down and the stars to come out and such. Well, time has a way of slowing down when you have two kids running around proclaiming how boring it is to sit on the beach and look at a dark blue sky that has no stars in it. After about an hour with only seeing one star (I think it was actually Jupiter or Mars), more stars started to pop out. Slowly. I mean really slowly. Like, every 2-3 minutes, you could see one or two more stars. So, 15 more minutes of "I'm bored", and we gave up. Oh well. We have vowed to go outside at home and look up more. When it is dark. Maybe we will see shining objects in the sky. Well, this is Michigan, so we will probably just get rain in our eyes.

Bed time! This time, my left side hurt all night and my right side was fine, while the last night, it was exactly the opposite. Who can figure this camping crap out?

We wake up, eat some breakfast, break camp, and haul all of our stuff back to the boat launch. We were told that we should show up as the boat is getting there (about 11:30), since they may spontaneously decide to not stay for the day and just leave the island. So, we make sure we are there (bonus - we get to unload in the nice bathrooms again! Although after eating noodles, oatmeal, and chipmunk-chewed-on pita bread for a few days, there isn't much to unload....) Since the boat didn't leave immediately, we had 4.5 hours to kill. It turns out that the boat people give tours of the island. So, we see a group forming and quickly butt in to go on a tour (via truck - no walking!)

We go around to all the cool places on the island that we had not gone to before (the one-room school house, a couple of farms, the graveyard, the lake in the middle of the island, etc.) The tour killed about 2 hours and educated us greatly. One problem - the tour actually cost money. Oops. We didn't actually have any money. The tour guy got out of the truck at the end and said something like "ok, you can all pay me now." At which point Crab-Mama and I looked at each other and sh*t our pants. Luckily there was nothing to sh*t. We talked it over with the guy and he says that we can just pay when we get back to the mainland. Whew.

After that, we played cards for a while and waited for the boat to leave.

Once we got back to Leland, we got ice cream and took off, stopping in some town on the way home to grab a pizza to stop the hunger pains. Arrive home at 11:00 PM, unload the car and go to bed. Home sweet home!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Vacation - Part I

I guess this is going to be a once a week type of thing.

We went on vacation - took a boat ride out to South Manatou Island, where we hiked and camped for two days and came back on the third day. Now, I love (i.e., hate) camping. But Mama Crab loves (i.e., loves) backpacking and camping, so we went along.

One of the glorious parts of camping and hiking is the shopping at REI that comes before the camping and hiking. Really, that is what it is all about - the lightest tent and sleeping bag and stove and ... But, I am a huge wet blanket and don't want to get anything new. I am like a relentless two-year-old in my complaining about not buying new things. I think that Mama Crab wants to kill me. Seriously, if she could get the Sierra Design 4.9 lbs 3-person tent and all she had to do was axe me, she would. We got out of REI only spending something like $100, which is pretty good. All it took was a few tears on my part. I am not ashamed to cry if it will save us money! Of course, Crab-Ma probably looks on it as a victory too ("If I tell him I want a tent, a backpack, a new stove, ... and only get a backpack, he will think he won - and I get to see him cry like a baby!!!")

Anyways, we pack all of our crap in our backpacks and head to the great white north (ok, less hot north). A four-hour car ride up through Traverse City and into Sleeping Bear National Park brought us to sand, sand and more sand. I mean, a mountain of sand. We went up to the top of the mountain and dug down something like 2-2.5 feet and it was still sand! Then we convinced crab-girl to climb into said hole and bury her! Well, it was really only up to her thighs, so she wasn't really buried. Lots of laughs. Lots of running down the sand jumping and rolling and such. Crab boy kept running up the hill, then turning around and basically face-planting himself on the way down. He loved that sand.

Then on to Leland, through a little berge called Glenn Arbor, where there was gas for sale for $4.09 a gallon. There is no way in hell that I am paying $4.09 a gallon when it is $3.75 in Ann Arbor. So, I blow by the place. Take note of this. Important mistake. We then drive another 20 miles to Leland. At which point the gas guage is below (well below) the empty line. And, guess what, THE gas station on Leland is closed. Nice. It is open 8:30-5:30 M-F. WTF? When is the last time you saw a gas station that was not open on the weekend. Well, for me, it was last Sunday. So, we park the car and start looking for hotels on foot. Now, I am not normally a dumb-a** (well, often less than twice a day), but that day really took the cake. If you are in the middle of no-wheres-ville, MI, and you see a gas station, and you are on empty, get some gas. They have you by the balls. Pay them to let go. Enough of the gas story, let's move on.

First hotel we go to has a price sheet out in the front lobby. $95 off season rate, $185 in season rate. It clearly says Labor Day is the end of the season, and this is (clearly) before labor day. So, it is quite obvious (even to a UM professor) what the cost is going to be. But, I have to ask anyways, thinking maybe the person would take pity on us and give us a break. "Uh, do you have any rooms for the night?" "Yup." "Uh.... about how much would it be?" Stare. "$185" Ouch. "Wow. Ok. Uh...." Stare. "I guess I could give it to you for $165 if that would help." (It is 6:00 in the evening and no one else is coming through the door, so maybe $20 would swing the deal.) "Uh.... I think that we are going to go look around a bit. We might be back." "Yup."

Next we stop by the Riverfront Inn, which is a Posh Establishment. They take one look at the kids and basically, in so many words, tell us "we don't want your kind here." Leaving the fine place, we see a minivan full of people who must be at least 90 years old unfolding themselves and heading towards the front door. Ahhh, now it makes sense. Old Crabs and Young Crabs don't mix. Of course, it could have been my t-shirt that said something like "F*ck old people". I am not sure which.

Let's try the third hotel (actually, I think that we were in motel land....) The Leland Inn. We walk in and the office was closed (remember, 6:00 on a Sunday night), with a sign that said, "See Bar Tender for Rooms". So, I walked into the bar, pointed at the Bar Tender and said "You're the man!" And he said "I'm the man!" (Keep in mind that this guy is probably 21 years old, and probably appreciates my t-shirt, which says something like "I wish I was young again!") He walks into the office, where I ask him how much, and he says something like, "Uh, I think that it is not the in season anymore, so let's see..." I didn't correct him. "How about, hmmm... $99?" "Ok!" He takes my credit card, writes the info down, gives me a key, and we're done. The room is pretty cool - they have a king size bed, and two wall-mount beds that fold down (Murphy beds - but not quite the same) - one on the top and one on the bottom. Of course, the Crab-kids start arguing about who is going to get the top bunk. Flip a coin. Crab-boy (which is a relief, since if it wasn't him, there would be a fair bit of pouting and crap). We have dinner in the restaurant, which is completely empty, except for the people eating with their mouths open two tables away. Nice. Oh well. Bed time.

Next morning, we get up, eat a crappy breakfast, get some gas ($4.11 per gallon - Mother F*ckers! But, screw them, I only got 4 gallons! Ha!), dump our stuff at the boat, park the car, walk back to the boat, get on the boat, and take off. The vacation is officially underway!

We were told that the boat could be cold. We have been on boat-rides before, and we were expecting cold. So Crab-Mama packed gloves and mittens and snow pants and crap, but then boat ended up going something like 10 knots, which everyone in the crab family can run faster than that. So, not cold. Take off the hats, parkas, etc, and start baking in the sun. ("But it COULD have been cold!") We get to the island, and undertake the orientation, which is basically a little description of the camp sites, where to find water, a stern warning ("Don't sh*t in the camp grounds!"), and a lecture about how chipmunks (a.k.a., micro-bears) can get into your food and eat everything, so hang stuff from a tree. Mama-Crab and I laugh. No one else does.

BTW, word of the trip - "micro-bear". If you want to kill yourself as a parent, make-up a stupid word and tell it to your kids. They will repeat it over and over and over and over and over again. Kids get sick of nothing (except whatever you are interested in doing...), especially when you start pulling your hair out. They think that sh*t is hilarious and will just say it over and over some more. (When I started this blog, Crab-Girl leans over my shoulder and says "make sure to say something about the micro-bears!")

We hike for about 1.5 miles to our campsite, each carrying 10%-20% of our body weight on our backs (there is a formula here, you know!) Set up camp, and go to the beach. The crab-kids instantly notice that there are two other kids in the water, and want to go play with them. We try to convince them that this is a family vacation and that we should stick together. Needless to say, that lasted about 30 seconds, and then they are off down the beach to play with the strangers. I am left sitting alone on a beach. About 15 minutes later, I realize that no one is coming back, so I pack up all of the crap that we have to go to the beach, and go find the kids and Crab-Mama. They play with the other kids for about 30 more minute and we go back to camp.

Now, when you are an experienced backpacker, you can probably boil a pot of water for dinner in a few minutes. I am not an experienced backpacker. About 30 minutes later, I get the water starting to produce bubbles from the bottom of the pot. About 30 minutes after that, the noodles are to the point that the little crabs can chew them without breaking their jaws. Then I have to make the cheese sauce, and then the boiling water for the dehydrated peas. I think I expended more effort making dinner than the calories I ingested. Which, I think, is the point of backpacking. We crawl into our tents (Did I mention that we have two tents? Yeah, Mama-Crab definitely does not approve of two tents - especially when they weight 11 lbs and 8 lbs respectively. Why do we have two heavy tents? Because I am a cheap-a**-b*stard!) and go to sleep.

Here ends the tail of vacation, day one. Join us tomorrow to learn more about starvation, micro-bears, snakes and walking torture. I am going to bed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me....

The little crabs were pretty excited this morning.  They had bought me an apron for cooking, but it was plain.  So, yesterday, the drew pictures and wrote stuff on it in fabric paint, and gave it to me for my birthday.  Pretty sweat!  Mama crab got me a mailbox!  Not exactly what I wanted, but I got her a rain chain for her birthday, so what can I say?  It is a very nice and very sturdy mailbox, which is fantastic.  Right now our mail box is the cheapest one Lowe's had.  Indeed, one of the numbers fell off, so we replaced it with a completely different style of letter.  It is awesome. Our neighbors must think that we are the biggest losers in the neighborhood.  Anyways, I guess this means that I will be digging a big hole in the coming week or so....

Tomorrow we go on vacation.  Up north to go camping.  Yippee!  I love camping! Ok, I can stand camping for the sake of my marriage. You got me.  It should be fun, though.  We are going to South Manitou Island, which is right off of Sleeping Bear Dunes.  We can play in the sand and run around like crazy people.  And relax.

You ask what I did today?  Uh.... open presents, pack, go to REI, eat dinner at Potbellies, pack some more, fart around on facebook, write on my blog, and go to bed.

Happy birthday to me.  Happy birthday to me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


meetings. meetings. meetings. meetings. meetings.

Oh, did I mention meetings?

2:30 (phone call interruption)
3:30 (phone call meeting)
5:30 (phone call meeting)

I am not really sure, when was I supposed to actually work? Can you see it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

History of my life

Ok, let's clear something up. I suck. I can't seem to find time to write on my blog. Oh well, I will do it when I have time. Trust me. Yeah, right.

I have been spending an astronomical amount of time working on my class lately. I am teaching another new class this semester. I vowed that this semester I would prepare lesson after lesson after lesson this summer so my semester would be much easier. Oh, that really happened. Well, I have two weeks until class starts, and I have about 6-7 lessons done. That is better than last year at this time (0 lessons done), but I was hoping for about 20 or so by now. Well, two more weeks.

One of the problems that I have is that I seem to actually give a crap about the classes and want to teach with lots of illustrations and movies and stuff. It seems to take a lot of time to find all of the illustrations and examples. Anyways..... I have no idea how people did this before the internets. It would be impossible. Much homage to all those who came before.

I must say that soccer players in the Olympics are a wee bit better than I am. They are unbelievable. It is just insane how well they control the ball. Insane.

The other night crab-girl and I went outside at 10 PM and looked at stars. We saw Jupiter, the moon, and the big dipper. That is about all I know. She thought that it was beautiful. Maybe we will get a telescope and take a look at the stars more. I am hoping that as winter comes and darkness comes earlier and earlier, we could all go outside and look up. One of the reasons we built our house out in the middle of now where is that we could look at stars. Well, now I am going to do it! Anyone have a telescope? Or know anything about stars? I think I know what the moon looks like....

Mama Crab canned peaches the other day. A whole a** lo*d of peaches. Did you know that there is actually peach jam? I never knew. I thought that there was only grape. Concord's Grape Jam. Isn't that the only thing you need? Oh, I guess you need peanut butter. What else is there? I guess that it turns out that there is peach jam. Who knew? She added the 20+ jars of peach jam to the 175,263 jars of strawberry jam. Guess what you are getting for Christmas?

Today she canned tomatoes. From our garden. How cool is that? Neither of us have any idea how to make a good spaghetti sauce, unless we are starting from something 3/4 of the way to good already. I think that we will have to experiment with a whole lot of basil, oregano, tyme, garlic, and other stuff.

Mama crab has also been working a huge number of hours lately. She has been in Flint for days and days - getting up at 4:45, leaving by 5:00 or so, then getting home between 6 and 7 each evening. Sucks for her. Sucks for us. Sucks, sucks, sucks. Yesterday was her last day in Flint. Tests were successful. That is good. It is over. I have to remember that her working 14 hour days for a week is just the same as me going on travel for a week. Sucks.

Ok, that is all for tonight. I promise that I will try hard to write more often (and fail).

But, that is the history of my life.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


About a year ago, I took crab-girl with me to a conference in Utah. We had lots of plans about how we were going to do hiking and go do all sorts of touristy types of things, but we ended up sitting by the pool a LOT. She loves the water. The hotel had an indoor/outdoor pool, which she really, really loved. So, we spent hours and hours playing in the pool. Which was fine. Not exactly what I had planned, but she was more than satisfied, and I got to read a little bit while she kicked around (although playing by yourself in the pool is no fun, so I had to play also....)

Fast forward a year.

I had promised crab-boy that I would take him on a trip with me also. So, after avoiding this for a while (13 months to be exact), we finally settled on a trip that would be good for him and not be too boring. Washington DC.

So, tomorrow and Thursday I have a NASA working group meeting in Maryland. Today, we flew into National Airport, took the metro to downtown and proceeded to walk around and see the sights. Here is a tour of where we went (this should bring up a walking map):

1. Air and Space Museum - hey, I am a space scientist, I would naturally go there first, right?

2. Lunch in the park - crappy bagel and crappy turkey sandwich - $10.

3. Washington Monument. We didn't take the elevator since I thought the wait would be too long. We should have done it, since the line was moving quite quickly. Next time....

4. WWII Memorial. I had never seen this. It is quite beautiful.

5. Random bench.

6. Ice Cream Stand. Water, ice cream. $7. Eaten under a tree. Dripping everywhere. Some of bottled water used for cleanup.

7. Lincoln Memorial. Take picture. "Ok, can we go?"

8. Steps of the Lincoln Memorial. (Have you noticed that the distances are becoming exponentially smaller?)

9. Vietnam Memorial. Son duly impressed.

10. Bench.

11. Side of the road. (collapse. "Come on, we are almost there." "Can we rent a car?" "Where would we get the car?" "Can we take a taxi?" "no.")

12. Park in front of the White House. Police man: "You can't walk though here." Me: "Why - we only want to go right there" (points 100 ft away to the other side of the park, where there are lots of people looking at the White House.) "Security" "It's only 100 ft!" "It's closed." "F*ck! How are we supposed to get through there?" (pointing to collapsed boy laying on ground, looking longingly for a National Car Rental outlet) "You will have to walk around" "F*ck! You have got to be kidding me!" "I have a map" (proceeds to pull a map out of his motorcycle) "I have a map too! I know exactly where I want to go, and exactly how to get there! G*d D*mn I*!" Pry half dead child off the ground, turn around and walk backwards.

13. See 11.

14. Metro Station to pick up Auntie Crab III (i.e., the third in a series of IV - actually, she may be IV, hmmm, I will have to check birthdays between the wife's and my family.... anyways, you all should know who I am talking about.... The aunt that now carries a gun and knows how to use it.)

15. Dinner at Cosi, which I have seen many times in DC, but have never eaten there. Now I have. It is good. Chicken Pesto Sandwich. Very good. We closed the place (ok, not saying much, since they close at 6:30...)

16. Starbuck's. Lemonaid smoothie split with crab-boy and a treat from Auntie Crab III. Score!

17. Metro station.

18. Cab to hotel.

19. Bed for crab boy. Computer for me.

20. Bed for me. Night.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Week in the Life

The week started off quite sadly, with a funeral for my cousin's husband on Monday. This was quite difficult, since we have been friends with both my cousin and her husband (who was about 12 years older than me) and one of my cousin's kids, who is about 12 years younger than me. He died of brain cancer. It was a sad day.

Tuesday, my mom decided to steal the crablets for a few days. So in the AM we packed and ran some errands, then had lunch, played with the neighbors (I worked), and said goodbye. I wend to work for a few hours, then the Mrs. and I caught a movie (Hancock - I would give it a 4 out of 5). Home, eat some blueberry pie, and bed.

Wednesday, Mrs. Crab and I biked to work. Since it was two weeks since I had ridden, my legs burned and burned and burned - and that was before I got out of the driveway. For me, Wednesdays are meeting day. At 2:00, I finished the morning meetings, and headed out for lunch.

We were given the opportunity to run on a brand new super computer that is owned by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. It has 4096 processors, and we are going to be allowed to utilized a significant portion of the machine for long periods. In order to prove that we can really utilize the machine efficiently, we had to do a bunch of tests. So, Wednesday was spent trying to get the code working on the new machine and doing "scaling curves" - this is where we create a problem, run it on 32 processors, then 64 (which should be completed twice as fast), then 128 (4 times as fast), 256 (8 times as fast), etc. If the code is actually 2, 4, 8, etc. times as fast, it is said to scale perfectly. It is impossible to do forever, since you run out of cells or whatever. For us, given the problem size that I chose, we ran just fine up until 1024 nodes. I then redid the calculation for a problem 8 times larger, and showed that we could run just fine up until 2048 processors (1/2 the super computer!)

I biked to Mama-crab's office, home, cereal for supper (we eat so well when we work long days), a little "So you think you can dance" (I am ashamed), and then bed. Crab-kids doing fine at grandma's. Playing at the beach.

This morning I took the dog (scaredy-crab) to work, since I was at work for a long time today. More scaling and testing at work. I had an annual report due a tiny bit ago, so I had to write about what I was working on for the last year. I love reports. They are so fun. The super amazing thing about the National Science Foundation is that I finished my annual report today, submitted it this afternoon, even got a question on the science from my program manager, then, just now, I got the money for next year. (time line - reminder at 7:33 AM, turned in at 1:47 PM, approval at 2:00 PM, new money at 9:16 PM.) I am not going to dog on any other funding agency, but NSF has it's sh*t together.

Tomorrow we are off to Grammy-Crab's to watch her in a play and to pick up the kids.

Well, I would say that this is a typically week, but, I honestly have no idea what a typical week looks like. So, I guess it is typically in that it is completely unlike any other week I have had in the last many, many months.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Home Again

Yesterday was a slightly long day. It started at 3:40 AM, Finland time. A quick trip to Amsterdam, breakfast at the McDonald's there (pure American food!), and a wonderfully long trip home to Detroit, put me home around 2:00 PM, EST (i.e., 9PM Finland time). Once I get home, the kids are so busy playing with the neighbors, they basically don't notice that I am home. Nice. Crab-boy was over at their house, and didn't bother coming home at all when told that I was home. Oh well. I got to take a nap on the couch, which is good.

Some pizza, some TV, reading to the crab-monsters, and some more TV, then bed time for the master-crab.

Today was a pretty good day. For I mowed the weeds for a bit, while Mama-Crab weed-whacked the super-tall weeds. Crab-boy helped both of us, found some frogs to play with, and rode around on the bike for a bit. Crab-girl was listening to a little book-on-tape. We went Blueberry picking (14.8 lbs!) in Dexter, then came home and canned most of them (pies, pancakes, and buckle in the future!)

As I made some left-over dinner for everyone, Mama and Dada Crab got into a lovely discussion about home-schooling. Yeah, that was nice.

Crab-girl made some ice cream after dinner, while I made blueberry pie (a little sour, but for the first time, with fresh blueberries, it was great). Then bed time for the crablets. TV for us. Soon to bed.

That, my friends, is my life.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Party Time!

Ok, I am drunk. I admit it. According to the clock it is 0.27. That is funny.

Russian vodka tastes good. Or, more correctly, Russian vodka doesn't taste bad.

I am going to bed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What I learned

Last night we went downtown Helsinki to take a tour. Finland appears to be a pretty amazing place. Here are some things that I learned:

1. Finland has about 5,000,000, of which 1,000,000 live in the greater Helsinki area.
2. There are only 17 people per km^2 in Finland. That is a pretty low population density.
3. Pretty much everyone owns a sauna.
4. And a boat.
5. And they all go to some island like twice a year (how is that for vague?)
6. May 1 is a holiday in which all of the college students come out and wash the statue of the naked lady in the main square (I sh*t you not). They even have invented this lift thing that raises them up to the statue's level. Maybe she is just hotter than you can tell from the window of the bus....???
7. Sibelius is about the most famous Fin. There is a pretty cool monument to him in Helsinki.
8. They have good ice cream at the ice cream stand by the beach. You know the one?
9. The tour lady says that they have good ice cream because Italians moved up to Finland and opened an ice cream factory a long time ago. Yet another powerful piece of information.
10. The trolley costs 2 euros, and you can ride it for an hour. I think of that as expensive, but everyone else was, like, that is cheap ($3 for a bus is cheap???) And, if you get on the trolley without paying, and they catch you, it is an 80 euro fine. Wow. Yike.
11. They have beer stands in the middle of town in Helsinki. You buy a beer and sit down (or walk around) and drink it!
12. The Swedes controlled Finland for a long time (something like 700+ years).
13. The Russians controlled Finland for about 100 years.
14. They liked the first Russian leader (Alexander, I think), but hated the rest. So they built a statue to him and rubbed the statue in all of the other's faces, saying "why couldn't you be like him?" Nice.
15. Kids in Finland are required to take 2 foreign languages - one of which has to be Swedish (if your native tongue is Finish) or Finish (if your native tongue is Swedish). Which leads to...
16. Both Finish and Swedish are the official languages of Finland - every street is labeled in both Finish and Swedish.
17. Only 5% of the people in Finland speak Swedish natively. Which makes all of the street signs a little silly, if you ask me (which you didn't).
18. Finland was on the losing side of WWII. I had forgotten that.
19. There is a lot of meat and potatoes eaten in Finland. Even for lunch. And sometimes for breakfast.
20. The president of Finland is a lady. Our tour guide pointed this out. She also pointed out that when the president goes to a sauna no one seems to give a crap, but when a rock star or a soap opera star goes to the sauna everyone is googley-eyed. I guess we have more in common with Finland than just meat and potatoes.

Well, that was some good bits-o-info.

And with that, I bit you good night (or good mid-day, what ever time-zone you may be in).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Did you know that the internets are so smart that they can magically detect where you are and serve everything to you in your native language? When you go to a foreign country, say Finland, The Google gives you everything in some crazy language (what language do you people speak here??? It's crazy, whatever it is!) And another thing - English should be near the top of all 8 languages when telling people how to dial the telephone or hang your towel up in the bathroom, not near the bottom. Do you not know that America rules??? And yet one more thing - where is the Mt. Dew? I am dying here!

So far, I have not seen very much of Finland. The meeting that we are having has gone on all day, and we are in the middle of nowhere with no car, so it is difficult to go see anything. But, flying in, Helsinki looked pretty cool. The are lots of little islands off the coast, and it is quite beautiful. Tonight we are taking a bus ride downtown, which should be quite nice. I forgot my camera (what an a**), so I have to ask people to give me some pictures.

Crab update - Mrs. Crab is still on the front lines with the combs and Crab-boy may be finger maimed for the rest of his life ("and this scar is from when my parents didn't take me to the emergency room to get stitches and the cut just kept bleeding and bleeding....") Ahhh, there is no guilt when I leave my family.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The end is near

Two more days of the Tour! Who is going to win? We are all biting our fingernails! It looks like it will come down to the last time-trial tomorrow morning! Ok, really, can anyone actually name a single person in the Tour this year? Sastra is in Yellow. Christian Vandevelde is the best ranked American at around 6th place, but he is a few minutes down. Cadel Evans is most likely going to win. Today is a fast forward day....

In case you care (which I am sure that you do not), the average speed for today is around 28 MPH. Ok, I can go 28 MPH also - with the wind at my back and going down hill. They went 28 MPH for 125 miles! Holy crap!

Crab-boy cut his finger today. Blood everywhere. At first he was only shocked. Then we got the band-aid on him, and he was relatively fine. When we got home, I took the band aid off, since he was complaining that it was too tight and his finger tip was turning purple (am I a bad dad for making his finger fall off???) This is when the bad stuff happened.... (those of you with weak constitutions, stop reading here.) Band-aid comes off, blood gushes everywhere, boy cries out ("It hurts! It hurts!"), I panic. Water only makes it hurt worse. Wash cloth seems to do nothing against the torrent of red. So, I quickly throw another Neosporan (crappy spell-checker doesn't even know how to spell Neosporan, or whatever) laced band-aid on the boy, and things settle down for a couple of minutes. Only problem is that there is too much blood and water and crap to allow the band-aid to stay on properly. So, we get a better band-aid, and Crab-boy bravely takes the other one off (Holy-Crap!) There is actually no bleeding now (Yeah Neosporan!!), but the next band aid goes on quickly (and tightly!)

Crab-boy goes to sleep just fine after reading a little "Fun in the Sun" to me.

Hopefully he is asleep. Could he be passed out from lack of blood? Oh crap, I better go check!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

be gone!

Today was a day of ups and downs. Crab-boy spent the night at the neighbors a few nights ago and has been a crab-a** for the last few days due to a complete lack of sleep. I set out to be a great father today, and seemed to fail miserably. I suggested that we all go to on a canoe trip (well, the kids and I - Mrs. Crab was at work). Crab-girl loved the idea, but Crab-boy wanted nothing to do with it (could it be because his sister want too? Hmmmm, we will never know.) So, we agreed to go to Jump-Zone, which is something like a big open space with a bunch of jumpy things in it. The bad news - it was closed! Holy crab! Turns out Jump-Zone is only open from 10 AM - 1 PM. What????

Next we go to Jungle Java - picture children running around through hamster habitrails, while parents sit around drinking coffee and working on their laptops. The kids start up the slides, and I got my computer ready for a couple hours of uninterrupted coding. Well, 2 minutes later, an announcement comes on that they need all of the kids to exit the habitrail. Turns out that they have to do some work on the electrical coming into the building and they need to turn the electricity off for a few minutes (only a few!) So, they want all of the kids to come out, so when the lights go off, they won't be afraid. So, we sit there waiting for about 30 minutes or so for the lights to go out, all the while mini-Crabs asking why can't they play on the slides? "We won't be scared!!!" I agree - they won't be scared. But what can you do - the manager won't let them play. So, after the lights go out, we figure a few more minutes. Wrong! 30+ minutes later, we just left.

We then have to run some errands, which makes everyone happy. BUT - I bought them the original Batman Movie (Adam West!) which they really love. It is so freaking campy. I love it.

Then - joy of joys, we have to do-louse our house! We learned last night that the neighbors kids have lice. Yikes! It turns out that the mini-Crabs have lice too! The first thing we try to do is give Crab-boy a haircut. He screams. He yells. He cries. He gets his hair cut. Then he informs us that he is not going to let any one see his hair until it grows back. Crab-girl offers to let her get cut (about 5 inches - shoulder length now!)

After all of the hair cutting, we did the shampoo crap. That was super fun. Then, showers for everyone. Sheets washed. Stuffed animals onto big bags. Vacuum everything (sorry Mrs. Crab). Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, all lice is gone, gone, gone.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hot Hot Hot

Today was hot. No doubt about it.

Crab-boy and I went and helped another researcher install a magnetometer out in the middle of nowhere. We helped put a 200 foot cable through a bunch of conduit, then buried the conduit. Luckily, someone had dug the trench (Bob!) before hand. But, we still had to fill it in, then make sure the mag was working properly and such. It was a pretty good day.

Lunch at Wendy's. Crab-boy's choice.

Once that was done, we headed over to our "summer house", to get a radon mitigation system installed. They were 2 hours late, and only took 2 hours to install it. Nice guys, though. Just wished that I have remembered my laptop, so I could actually get something done, instead of sitting around with my thumb up my blackberry.

We call it our summer house, since we own two houses, and can't seem to sell the second one. It is a great house, and we finally (cross your fingers), have a buyer who is "willing" to take it off our hands, and we will only lose about $12K on the deal. Like, bring $12K to the closing. That sucks the big one. It's not like we bought the house while the housing market was flying high or anything, it has just dropped so freaking low in this great state that I live in that you can barely give the house away (or pay someone to take it off your hands!!!) The realtor asked me today if I was happy to be done. I am relieved to be rid of the house (if it actually goes through), but am I happy that I have to pay someone to buy my house that I have spent a huge amount of time fixing and calling my own? No. I am not. I wish the world was fair (how pathetic is that statement? Some people may argue that the world is fair, and I am a bastard who is getting what they deserve - you be the judge. If I am a bastard, dial 888-259-bas1, if I am not a bastard, dial 888-259-bas0. Or just post a comment that I am a bastard.)

Well, crap. It is late. Mrs. Crab just stopped snoring, so it is safe to go to bed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crabby Day #1

Alright, I had a pretty crappy day.

Mrs. Crab has been working in Flint for the last couple days, which make me in charge of the little crabs. Crab-girl is going to a summer camp this week, while crab-boy is staying at home. It makes me realize how much easier it is to totally ignore a 10 year old than a 7 year old. He is constantly wanting attention, and not wanting me to actually work. I mean, come on.

I guess the main problem is that I am pretty freaking busy at work, and I have a hard time letting go of my outrageous stress. And the fact that crab-boy has no idea how irritating it is to be asked if he can go play with the neighbors 162,347 times in 3 minutes. He also doesn't want to go run a bunch of errands. Enter my rage.

Here is where the dumb-ass part of me comes out. Mrs. Crab and I call me "Dr. Dumass".

I should just abandon my want, no, my desire, to actually work. I should spend time with my son, building with Legos, going for a mini bike ride, or playing a board game, or something. Or, just let him play video games and watch Pokemon all day long (what he really wanted to do!)

Well, tomorrow, he is going to Grandpa's house. Let's see if he can get Grandpas to play with him!

I promise that Thursday I will be a better dad. Unless I am not.

Bed-time for bad-dad.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Typical Sunday

Sundays are strange days. Sort of lazy, sort of busy. Many Sundays start out slow, like today. The mini-crabs and I watched Spiderman 3 this morning. I gotta say, the movie sucked. I just kept wondering when it would end. Crab-boy liked it a lot, since he is a superhero fiend. Yesterday, he dressed up as Batman pretty much the who day. He watched most of the movie wearing his Batman cape and sunglasses (don't ask what the sunglasses were for - no idea). Crab-girl didn't really give an opinion. Mrs. Crab was not present. She typically likes to spend Sunday mornings reading or spending a little time on her own.

After the movie, Mrs. Crab went to work for a bit, while I tortured the kids. Discovered a good way to get the kids to clean their room - bribery. $0.50 for a clean room. Not a bad deal. Since it would take me 30 minutes to clean each of their rooms, $0.50 is a steal. Crab-girl organized her PlayMobile, taking about 90 minutes to put it all away. Crab-boy discovered a great way to streamline the process - he put most of the stuff from the floor into the garbage can. When I asked him about it, he said that "Mommy did it, so why can't I?" Needless to say, we had to put that crap away ("Do I still get $0.50???"). While they cleaned their rooms, I vacuumed. We have hard wood floors, so we use a shop-vac for this wonderful task. Did I mention that we have a dog? That sheds? A lot? We also live on a dirt road, with a dirt driveway. So we get a lot of dirt in the house. Dirt and dog fur. Man, I love that crap.

Lunch. Stale bagel with peanut butter. Yum! Stale bagels are a staple in our house. I gotta say, though, that a stale bagel from a real bagel place is better than a store-bought bagel that is pumped full of crap. We used to get those types of bagels all the time. Man, they last forever. Literally. Now it is stale bagel heaven. Alright, not really heaven. Toasting it helps. Microwaving helps.

Crab-girl has serious food issues. For the last few years, it was nothing but three cheese tortellini, chicken nuggets, and hot dog buns (NOT hot dogs!). In the last couple of months, she has broadened her horizons a bit, but it is slow going. So, for her, stale bagel with cheddar cheese is pretty much IT for lunch. Every day. Every freaking day.

Crab-boy is much more adventurous. Stale blueberry bagel with butter. Open faced.

Then, it was a little forced school work (I have probably not said this yet, but I am a real jerk). Crab-girl did a timed multiplication test. Only missed one - 8*10=88 ("I though it was 8*11!!!"). Crab-boy had to read me a book (Drip-Drop - a classic). I read every other page, and helped with many word. We are hoping to get Crab-boy reading pretty well before the end of summer.

Next, a little work outside. Some digging to trench out a path for water to get away from the house. We have had a butt-load of rain lately, so we discovered that the trench that I dug before wasn't long enough. Mrs. Crab got a rain chain for her birthday (as one of our friends said - "you got your wife a gutter for her birthday???"), so it was good timing to do a little trench work. Crab-boy helped out a bit. He gathered a bunch of rocks and helped fill in the trench with rocks and gravel.

Mrs. Crab comes home. We all go outside. I mow the weeds. Literally - we have no grass, it is just weeds. The only thing I am really accomplishing is keeping the thistles at bay. I mowed around the garden a bit, which helped. Mrs. Crab did a little gardening. She has set up a great garden. We have all sorts of crap! I might have to actually start eating vegetables. Blerg.

Kids washed their bikes and sprayed each other off with well water (55 degrees!) Crab-boy shows me some great moves on his bike - he gets going, then stands up on his seat (holy sh*t!). I try not to scream at him. I try. The solution I come up with - "Well, if you don't mind falling off you bike and landing on your head, I guess you can do it...." - Crab-boy taps his helmet and says "that's why I wear this!" This is what he learns from his old man?

Dinner of chicken (organic, free range - as if the wife would let me buy anything else...), sugar snap peas (yes, locally grown), trader joe's baked beans (yes, organic), and lemonade (Ha! From concentrate!) Crab-girl eats the chicken (with ketchup), and tries the rest (miracle!). Crab-boy eats most. I eat the peas (another miracle).

Another miracle - I do the dishes after dinner. Mrs. Crab puts the kids to bed. Then, off to the store to get some brown sugar. Home, then make some cookies for camp tomorrow. Must have dessert in the lunch box. If you have to suffer through stale bagel in a lunch box, there better be a cookie. I make oatmeal chocolate chip. With a touch of peanut butter. That is some good crap.

Mrs. Crab comes down stairs and we finish the dishes. You may get the impression that we actually do the dishes a lot. Not true. Mrs. Crab does the dishes a lot. I dry them about 25% of the time. I am a poor excuse for a dish washing husband. But I make up for it in other ways. Trust me.

After dishes and other crap, we retire to the basement to play on our computers and watch a little Tour de France. I gotta say, this Tour sucks. I am not rooting for anyone, so I just watch and see what happens. It is not very much fun when you don't give a crap who wins. The sweat thing about this tour is that the two American teams are kicking ass. A word of advice about watching the Tour - TiVo it. Then watch the first 3/4 of the stage on fast forward - but watch closely for the crashes. Then, when the final climb or the final sprint takes place, watch in detail. I can't imagine watching the flat stages without TiVo. Holy crap would that be boring. The only reason the Tour has flat stages is really just to beat the crap out the bikers and soften them up for the mountains.

Well, Mrs. Crab already left the room, and went up to get ready for bed. With 2.5K to go. It's like she doesn't care who wins! I should have fast forwarded a little bit longer.

How many times does Paul Sherwin say "Completely and utterly" in the three weeks of the tour? Many, many times.

I am completely and utterly ready for bed.

Go Ricco.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I love music. Here is a little bit of what I really love:

When I was but a wee child, I really liked 80s alternative rock stuff. Like New Order, Depeche Mode, OMD, etc. I guess I should confess, my first album was Cindi Lauper's She's So Unusual. But my favorite group was The Police. Ghost in the Machine is one my perfect albums. Wait, I almost forgot, my sister introduced me to many, many groups - Run DMC, The Bee Gees, Price, Egyptian Lover (ha ha!!!), Abba, etc.

In High School, I fell into a little White Snake. My mother was horrified. I mean, holy crap, I had a White Snake poster! Wow.

Then, I saw some of the light. I got a Pink Floyd album late in high school. It was something like a best of tape. Still didn't quite see the light, though. I listened to The Wall for the first time in college. And the Black album by Metallica. College. Can you believe it?

I guess everyone and their brother listened to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Alice in Chains. Smashing Pumpkins. Well, I bet you didn't listen to Underworld. Maybe you listened to Ministry? I did. Jesus and the Mary Chain.

Post College. Let's see. Uh.... More Underworld. They turned techno. Love the techno crap. But it needs more than just the beat.

And then I became angry. Metallica, Metallica, Metallica. Maybe a little Tool. Rage Against the Machine. Really, f*cking angry. Like, Stigmata off of Ministry's Live album is just about right.

Ok, at the same time that I had been very, very angry, I listened to a lot of other, more mello, stuff. Like Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Dave Matthews Band, Peter Gabriel. Oh, I listened to Phil Collins a bit too. Genesis - Nursery Crymes is one of the best albums made.

Now what do I listen to? Pretty much the same thing as always. Lately I have been listening to Guano Apes, Flyleaf (chics rock!), Bach's Cello solos (but only when we are eating dinner), and Metallica's concerts (how cool is it that they make their concerts available on the web?).

Alright. Gotta go to bed.