Sunday, December 27, 2009

Movie Out

Crab Mama and I went out to a movie this afternoon for the first time in months.  Very nice.  We were sadly one of the last people to arrive (as usual), and had to sit in the second row.  Luckily the movie didn't have any explosions or action, so it was fine.  With the previews I thought I was going to hurl.  Ok, how old am I?

We then went home got pizza for us and the in-laws.  It was very nice to not have to cook.  I love cooking (even though I basically suck at it), but after a couple of days in the kitchen, it becomes a drain.

Two of the three in-laws (plus two of the four dogs!) leave tomorrow.  Fantastic!  Maybe I can start my vacation!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Post

Crab Mama says that no one with a real life would post today.  So, I am posting, just to prove that I have no life.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Wow, I have only posted twice this month.  That is just sad.  Here are some updates, which I will pretend are mini-blog-posts:

1. Fail!

For the first time ever, four students have failed my class.  There was a report that was worth 16% of their course grade, which they didn't bother turning in.  It wasn't that hard of an assignment, and I graded it with a very lenient bend (the lowest score, without taking off for turning it in late, was 85%).  So, if they had written five pages of random words, they would have done better.  One of the students contacted me and told me that their report was on their USB stick, which they can no longer find.  Why is it not on their computer?  Well, they didn't want their hard drive to crash, which would wipe it out.  It was the best excuse ever!  One a more positive note, more students got an A+ than failed.  I must be doing something right.  I love teaching, but I hate assigning grades.

2. AGU: Done!

The American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco was just absolutely insane this year.  First, I didn't have either of my two talks even started before I left on Sunday.  Second, I felt like I was shot out of a cannon - I was busy from the moment I woke up until the moment I closed my eyes every day.  As an example, on Sunday, I got up at 5:45 EST, to catch my 9:00 flight. When we got to SFO, we took a taxi directly to the meeting, which started at noon.  Meeting until 7 PM.  Dinner with colleague, work on talk a bit, then bed at 10 PM PST (for a ~19 hour day).  Each day seemed like this, although none were really longer.  I typically take a few hours off on Friday to shop and such for Christmas presents, but this year I didn't get a chance to do this until about 4:30 on Friday.  It turns out that all of the exhibits closed well before then, so I couldn't get fossils and such for the wife and kids.  How sad!

3. PD Update

My PD who is going home for the holidays is going to be gone much longer than expected.  When he came to the US, he bought a round-trip ticket, with a return date last week.  To get back to the US, he had to buy another ticket, which was very expensive at any reasonable time.  This means that he is going to spend 3 weeks in Euro, instead of 2.  And then he has to go back in ~March, because his Visa expires.  Sigh.

4. Wife doing all of the work

Crab Mama has to be pissed off at me.  She has been doing a crap-load of the house work for the last few weeks.  I have been so busy working, that she has had to take over all of the crap work.  Now I am not working, but I am exhausted and still unable to do anything.  Well, I did wash dishes for 3 hours the other day.  But, she cleaned the basement for about 20 hours yesterday, so I can't really say anything about doing anything.  All pales in comparison to the awesomeness of the wife.  I promise that I will step it up soon!

5. Broken!

Crab Boy broke his arm two days ago.  It was a weird series of events that led up to this event.  A few days ago, the kids went down to the pond in our yard and cleared off a bunch of the snow, just to play around.  They spent hours down there, and were having a lot of fun.  We decided that we should get them some ice skates for Christmas, since they were having so much fun just sliding around.  The next day I bought some ice skates.  The day after that, their friends came over, and brought their ice skates.  This is interesting, since we never mentioned to them that the kids were getting ice skates for Christmas.  The mother of the kids knew that our kids didn't have ice skates.  So, why did they bring ice skates? I have no F-ing idea.  So, they all go down to the pond and the friends start ice skating, while my kids just watch them.  Crab Boy comes up to the house and he is practically in tears.  I felt like sh*t.  So, I go to the basement and get them their ice skates.  Lace up and skate!  A few hours later, after I have gone to work, and Crab Mama has come home, Crab Boy falls down and lands on his hands.  His right wrist gave out a bit, and he came back up and complained to Mom.  She felt around and didn't really like what was there.  Call the doctor, call the urgent care place, etc.  Eventually, everyone decides that he should just go to the ER.  After a couple of hours in the ER, he gets an X-ray, and it turns out that he has a buckle fracture, which is basically like a compression of the bone.  The Dr said that if he was a grown up, it would have really broken, but since he is a kid, it just broke a little bit.  He now has a neon-green cast for three weeks.  Not too bad.

6. In Laws!

There are three in law types here (Mother, Sister, Brother in-law-in-law) for the next 4 days.  With two extra dogs.  Yeah.  Enough said.

7. Dance, Dance, Baby!

Crab Boy performed in his dance recital this last weekend.  It was a hip-hop routine with 5 boys that are all under the age of 10.  He tried very hard.

I guess that is about all that has happened in the last few weeks.  I am emerging from the depths of the great blue ocean, so I should be able to write a bit more in the coming weeks.

Merry Christmas.  I hope you get exactly what you want!  I am sure that I will get what I deserve!

PS - If you find out what Crab Mama is getting for Christmas, it is not because I wanted to get it for her.  I didn't want too!  She has been asking and asking and asking!  I had nothing to do with it!  Ok?  I am NOT a bad husband!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Week

Wow, it has been over a week since I wrote something.  That is crazy.  I am entering a super busy time.

Typically, in December people in my community go to a gigantic conference.  This is almost always during finals, which is next week.  So, as I am trying to finish up class, by making a final, grading all of the stuff that I should have graded a week ago, and holding students hands; I am trying to help all of the people who work for me to finish their posters and talks and stuff.  Oh yeah, I have one proposal that is absolutely due next week, and one that I hoped I could turn in (not going to happen).  And, since I am going to be gone for a full week, I would like to spend some more time with the family (ain't gonna happen either).  Today I got to work at 8 AM and left at 7:40 PM.  I came home, ate some cereal and went back at it.  I can't really work anymore, since my brain is fried.  But, I finished my final exam - two versions!

I have yet to actually work on my two talks that I have next week.  The really bad thing is that I have done very little on one of my talks, which is early in the week.  This means that I am screwed.  The other talk is easy to put together and I could do it in an hour or so.  But, that one is Friday.  I really wished that they were reversed.

Crab Mama says that I should go to my first talk, and when they call me, I should just say "pass!" and they can move on to the next person.  If only.

One of the other things that makes life a little crazy right now is that all of the students projects are finishing up.  So, I today I had to go to an almost 2 hour design review for one project, and tomorrow I have to go to another 2 hour review.  That review is after we meet with students to go over their presentations and time them and such.  Then, to add insult to injury, there is a faculty meeting at 3:30 tomorrow.  They can have fun without me.  Finally, tomorrow I have to give version 1 of the final exam from 5-6.  After that, I can go home and start working on my talks.  And do laundry.  And pack.  And see the kids.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Five Minutes

Ok, even though my last post said that I have entered a state of strange calmness, it doesn't mean that I am actually less busy.  I should put that right out there.  It is very difficult for me to even find five minutes for me to do anything like read blogs, let alone post.  I haven't read any blogs in almost a week.

One of the issues is that on the homeschooling front, I am starting to do more with the kids.  I don't really want to - but this is an argument that has been had over and over again.  So, I have been spending a lot of time helping Crab Girl with math.  She is learning how to do some pre-algebra stuff.  For example, simplify the expression 3(6y-4x)-2(5x-2y).  She is having to learn how to multiply by negative numbers and group like terms, etc.  It is interesting to see how minds work to process this.  She has to have a little table:
++ = +
+- = -
-+ = -
-- = +
to do the multiplication.  These are little things that you don't even think about anymore, but are a small hill for her to get over.  It is both frustrating and exciting to see her understanding grow at the same time.  BTW, the answer is 22(y-x).

I have to have a talk with my Post Doc about vacation time and international trips.  This last summer, I sent him on an international trip to a conference that I was interested in attending.  He extended this trip and took a 4 week vacation.  He is going back to his home this month for another 2 weeks.  Then he asked me if he could attend another international trip in March (to his home country again).  This is the part of the plan where I have to put my foot down and say that 6 weeks of vacation is more than enough for someone in one year.  I don't get 6 weeks of vacation in a year.  Post Docs shouldn't really either.  Conversely, the question could be raised - if you are accomplishing all of the goals that are set out for you, should you be allowed to take as much vacation time as you want?  For me, if I accomplish all of my goals, I think to myself that I set my expectations too low, so I make more goals. (Hence the reason I don't have five minutes.)

I have to go so I can teach class in a few minutes.  Students are starting to come into class.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Super Lame

I have been paying a lot more attention to my other blog, which is focused on taking a picture every day for  year.  It is, I must say, insane.

While I was in Europe, the students in my class took a test.  There are 118 students in my class (no drops at all this semester!)  There were 7 seven students that didn't show up for the test.  A few of them e-mailed the morning of the test that they couldn't make it.  Swine Flu.  What are we to do.  A couple more missed the exam because they forgot.  WTF?  This is insanity!

It seems like work has reached some strange metaphysical equilibrium.  I seem to be much more calm at work and I don't seem to worry as much as I used to.  I don't really know why.  It is possible that I have completely given up on accomplishing anything.  I now am going to live vicariously through my students and post docs.  I have admitted it.  In fact, I took a 3/4th finished study and gave it to my post doc.  It is mostly written up, but I just don't have time to finish it.  She will hopefully finish it off and publish it. Serenity.

Friday, November 13, 2009

In Euro

Crab Girl and I are in Europe right now.  I decided a while ago that I would like to take the kids with me every once in a while on a trip, and so this is her turn.  We have been here for 5 days now, and it has been pretty nice.  There have been food issues, but those were expected.

A friend of mine who comes to this particular city a lot gave us a map with all sorts of things indicated on it, that we were supposed to find and take pictures of.  That kept us pretty entertained for a long time.  Before my meeting started on two of the mornings, we wandered around looking for things.  Today we took the whole day and wandered around.  The hotel has some motorized (assisted) bikes that we could use.  It was a lot of fun to go back and forth through the city.

We ended up at the History Museum, which is different than the Natural History Museum, which is what we thought we were going to.  It was basically a lot of war stuff.  There were other displays, but it seemed like there was a lot of violence taking place in Europe years ago.  We then found the Natural History Museum and got to see lots and lots and lots of stuffed birds and other animals.  It was quite impressive, although there were no dinosaurs, which may have been disappointing for the younger crowd.

After that we found some statues and paid a couple of bucks to ride an elevator up from the river, just to do it, then walk the 180 steps back down to get our bikes.

We almost got killed about 20 times today because of the traffic and our lack of maneuvering ability on our bikes.  Left!  We want to go left!  Oh crap, now we have to figure out how to turn around and not get hit by the giant busses while we do.

Tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM we start our 19 hour voyage home (walk to the train station, 1.5 hours on train, wait for flight, fly for 1.5 hours, wait for flight, fly 10.5 hours, sit in line at passport control, wait for luggage, drive home).  We have books, movies, games, a math book, and knitting.  That should pass the time!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I have to say that today I am relatively pissed off.  There are a few reasons for this:

1. We live on a road in which there are only 10 houses.  Therefore, we have to pay to have our road graded, plowed and maintained.  Many of the people in our neighborhood chose to build their houses right on the road, even though they have 3-10 acres of land to choose from.  So, to them, dust control is very important.  I don't care about dust control because I live in the woods, where no dust settles.  We have to pay for three dust control applications every year.  The people also want to regrade the road twice a year, even though it only serves 10 houses.  I find this ludicrous.  Further, for weeks after the grading, the road is covered with loose gravel that is impossible to bike on.  I bike.  I also have kids that love to bike.  It basically makes the road unusable for biking for a few weeks.  Yesterday they graded the road, after only 5 people voiced that they wanted the road graded (with one adamant NO - me).  So, that really pissed me off.  And it will continue to piss me off for a month.

2. Maine struck down their gay marriage law.  So now about 31 states in the good old US of A have explicit laws banning gay marriage or explicitly have countered laws that have made it legal.  It is just a travesty.  Aren't we the land of the free?  What does "free" mean?  You are welcome to do whatever you want as long as it doesn't counter my beliefs.  Even if it has absolutely no affect on me what-so-ever.  If I believe something and you believe something else - screw you.  The sad thing is that over half of the people in all of these states voted to do this.  We, as a society, believe in discrimination.  We believe in taking rights away from people because of who and what they are.  It is unbelievable to me how hypocritical people are in this country.

3. I am obviously PMSing, even though I don't have the right junk.  No amount of Mt. Dew will help.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Global Warming

Today, on the way home today I heard an argument about global warming that I had never really heard, but similar to other arguments.  The guy stated that we are human beings, and therefore animals, just like all other animals on the planet.  We have altered our environment, like other species have.  It is a completely natural thing to do, and so we should not worry about it.

While talking to Crab Mama about this, we came to the conclusion that this is completely natural.  What happens is that the top of the food chain ends up over-indulging and the food chain completely collapses.  Once this happens, the population completely collapses and reduces to something like 10% of the original population.

So, what will happen, if we continue along the path that we are traveling, is that we will completely destroy our food chain and our population will be decimated.  Luckily, we in the United States of America won't suffer nearly as much as the rest of the world, because we will continue to buy land to grow cattle and corn over the whole globe while the rest of the world starves to death.  Well, the strong survive, which is also completely natural.

It is pretty clear that people will just come into a new equilibrium with nature (the similar argument), but there is an extremely good chance that this will be with a significantly reduced population.  Which is completely natural.  Which is sad.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The glory of daylight savings time

Well, ok.  Not really.

But, at least on Sunday, when noon came around (according to my grandfather clock) and I still hadn't gotten dressed, I could justify it because it was actually 11 AM according to my computer.

Tonight it feels like DST has been completely squandered.  It is 10 PM and we are not in bed yet.  We vowed that this year we would take DST to go to bed early and get up early!  Alas, it lasted less than one day.  Such is the way of things in our house.  Vows are like Halloween candy - here one day, gone the next.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shot out of a cannon

That is how I feel.  Last Monday I left for work, and I don't think that I have stopped since then.  It won't stop tomorrow.  It won't stop Tuesday.  It definitely won't stop on Wednesday, when I have to be on an airplane at 7:10 AM (F*CK!)  Maybe Wednesday night I can try to go to bed early, but most likely I will have to go out to dinner with fellow researchers and socialize.  Thursday?  I can fly home and then go straight home without stopping at work?  Maybe.

I am tired.  Really, really tired.

Tomorrow we have to leave the house by 8:00, so I can drop the kids off and then get to class.  While that is not very early to normal people, I have kids who are now accustomed to getting up at 8:30 or so, so 7:00 AM comes really early.  Oh well.

I am not complaining.  I am just whining a bit. 

Oh sh*t.  I forgot to finish the laundry.  Crap.

Well, now that the dishes are done, I can go do that before I go to bed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


8882589966 (call now, with your pledge!)
That's 8882589866
Let me say it 14 more times, just in case you didn't hear me 2 seconds ago:
8882589866 (how much should you send in?  well, that is up to you!)
8882589866 (but we are looking for a dollar a day)
8882589866 (or maybe a dollar a week)
8882589866 (or whatever you want!)
I want to kill myself.

Before I do, I should will all of my money to NPR.

 I was going to do a calculation of how much time is spent in commercials on a normal radio station over a year, and then add up all of the "commercials" during a normal day on NPR, and then take the 2 solid weeks a year (more like 20 days...) in which we are bombarded with 8882589866 (call now with your pledge!)  I bet that my NPR station spends almost as much time as a commercial station if you factor in the two pledge drives.



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mike Doughty

Last night, Crab Mama and I went to see Mike Doughty in concert.  It was at a very small venue, with only about 200 people there.  It was probably the most intimate concert that I have ever been to.  We were in the 5th row, which is just crazy.  It was a great deal of fun.  He had a Question Jar where you could put questions in and he would answer them.  It was hilarious (e.g., What elevates a normal Bon Bon to a Super Bon Bon?)  Crab Mama and I had seen Soul Coughing in concert in about 1997 (with Geggy Tah - ha!) in Subaru, CO.

I should have taken my camera, but I am lame.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Boulder, CO, should be called Subaru, CO.  I would estimate that 10% of all cars in Subaru are Subarus (Subari?)  That might not sound like much, but imagine if every 10th car that you saw looked identical.  That is what it is like!  Subaru is a homogeneous city of outdoor loving, vegan, smart, Subaru-loving left-wing nut-jobs!

Ok.  I am just saying that.  Subaru is a great city.  It is just freakish in its love for Subari.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On Travel


But this time it is a bit different.  Crab Boy and I are in the great state of Colorado, at meeting on how the aurora is affected climate change.  Wow.  It is a bit of a stretch, but this is what scientists do - leave no stone unturned!

The most interesting talk that I heard was from a woman who is quite unique.  She has to be about 75 years old, and wears dresses with flowers all over them.  She also wears a flower in her hair.  Unique.  She got up and gave a talk on why the idea of airlines worrying about flying over the poles because of high energy particle precipitation is complete bull sh*t.  She pretty much used those words.  It was hilarious.  I expected that her talk would be quite boring and casually dismissed, since she is an "old guard" scientist - no using any data from after I was born, but it was inspiring.  She looked back at ice core data and other long term data (old school!) and came up with the highest energy precipitation events that have EVER occurred.  Then she figured out how much exposure airplanes would have gotten during the events, and concluded that they would have had to fly around for something like 2000 hours in the middle of the storm (which lasted < 2 days), to get a dose that anyone would consider dangerous.  Now - she did say that a pregnant woman would have only had to fly around for something like 20 hours.

The very next talk was a report on some grant that people had gotten to study this very thing.  They used the latest, greatest data and models, and came to the exact same conclusion - but didn't actually say that it was then worthless.  They reported the numbers in the exposures that you would get, but didn't say anything about maximum dose rates or anything.  If you remembered from the previous talk, the numbers were almost exactly the same, so they were the same tiny dose.  They concluded that they had a great product and that the airlines should use their models.  I think that they concluded that the airlines don't need to use their models....

Crab Boy and I have eaten out a few time, gone on a hike, and had a good time with some friends.  We have hung out together and basically just enjoyed being together, which is what this whole trip was about (well, the science was there too...)

I discovered an interesting thing about children today - they don't know how to tie shoes anymore, since all of their shoes are either slip-on or Velcro.  Crab Boy just (re)learned how to tie his shoes this last week, after the purchase of a pair of new tennis shoes.  Here is a picture of his accomplishment this morning of tying his shoe for the 3rd time ever!  I would say that I almost cried, but, in truth, I almost cried when I found out that he couldn't tie his shoes in the first place.  But, after thinking about it, I can't actually remember the last pair of shoes that he had in which he actually had to tie them.  Ahhh... modern technology.  Tying shoes is so, like, iPods with buttons.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pandora Love

Yesterday I did a system upgrade on my laptop, which makes you reboot.  One of the things that was installed was iTunes 9.0.  So, when I fired up iTunes today, I got to wait for about an hour while it refigured out the gapless play list crap.  So, while it did that, I rediscovered Pandora.

God, I love Pandora.  It is the best website ever.  We besides google.  And Wikipedia.  Well, better than Wikipedia.  But, you get the idea.  It is really, really, really good.

So, if you have never pandoraed, I would highly recommend going to, getting an account, typing in your favorite artist, and start listening.  Then type in other artists, and see what comes up.  You won't be disappointed.

Would I lie to you?  Would I say something that wasn't true?

Got a car today.  2005 Subaru Outback Sport.  Silver.  5-speed manual.  Very nice.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mirror Images

Looking at my kids, I see a large amount of myself in both of them.  It is often very scary.  For example, my daughter likes better to set things up than to actually do them.  Getting folders and pencils and paper and everything for school is exciting, but to actually write is a drag.  She has joined a robotics club and she is working on a robot, but is not really all that excited about building the robot.  She knows the wiring diagram by heart and can do it, but just doesn't really want to.  When I have done it "for her", she then is very happy and quite excited to clean it up (i.e., redo the whole thing with shorter wires, making it all look much neater).  She also doesn't have much interest in programming on the robot, although that comes and goes.  With the Lego robots, she figured out how to do the programming and basically dropped it after that - even though she really only scratched the surface of it.

I definitely see myself in this behavior.  I think that since I am older now, I have much more patience, and can actually see that there are important things left to learn.  I also think that some of the issues are with fear of failure.  She shows that she can pick up the stuff that is mildly challenging with ease, but doesn't want to delve any deeper for fear of not being able to do it.  Maybe.  I think that I do this, and so am pushing my emotional whateverness onto her.

Anyways, it can sometimes be quite frustrating, since we start doing these projects together, and we are both sort of excited by them, and then she loses interest.

Well, I probably should just be happy that I can get my pre-teen daughter's interest in anything, let alone stuff that interests me too.

Now, my son.  I have to say that he is a complete mirror image of me.  I think that someone took some of my cells, cloned them, and stuck them in my wife.  If there is a part of her in him, I am not sure where it is.  Actually - he is MUCH more adventurous than I am.  That is definitely from my wife, which may shock some of you who know her.  While he is not fearless, he will try new foods and is not nearly as fearful of new things as my daughter and I are.  This is definitely a good thing.  So, he is just like me, but better!

Ok, now that sounds like I love my son and have issues with my daughter....  That is really not true at all.  My son is just like me, which means that he is a loud-mouth pain in the *ss.  They are both great kids and wonderful to have around.  They are, by far, the best things that have ever happened to me.  (Even if I do yell at them sometimes.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Under Water

There have been a fair number of posts on various blogs that have reported having too many meetings and such to survive.  I am in that position also.  This week, of the "40" hours of time that I am supposed to be at work, 13 are NOT in meetings.  That is 13 hours in which my graduate students and Post Docs and undergrads can come and ask me questions.  13 hours in which I can answer e-mail from people asking me to schedule more meetings, sign documents, and actually do things for the meetings that I am attending.

I had a student send me a $25K proposal to JPL that we are working on last night at 10:54 PM, and asked me to send a revision back to him by the end of the day today.  I laugh.  I have exact 1 hour of free time today, and I can pretty much guarantee that I will be asked to do many other things besides this as soon as I get back to my office from class.

Luckily, many of the meetings that I had the week are once in a lifetime meetings.  Let's take a look at some of the more pleasant meetings:

1. Yesterday I got to be "yelled at" by my department chair (again!) and head IT person for buying non-rack-mountable computers that we put into the server room.  The head IT person got it into her head about a year ago that our department chair was going to cut the room in half, and therefore we would have to get rid of machines and make everything much more compact.  She started telling people that they could only buy rack-mountable hardware.  Well, this type of hardware costs 2 times the amount of other hardware, so it is not very cost effective.  Also, the premise is absurd - the department chair is not going to cut the server room in half.  So, why should I buy these systems?  Well, now it is because she has forced others to do it, so everyone has to.  What an asinine reason - spend twice as much money because I forced other people to do it!  Oh, and the kicker is that the machines were not for myself, but for the department chair.

2. I had to deal with a co-investigator who we are building some hardware for.  He won some grants, and we are building the instruments for him.  He asked us if we could lower the amount of the subcontract if he bought the raw parts, and we would integrate everything.  I agreed to this, as long as everything was extremely clear.  We also have a very hard to meet deadline on these instruments, because all of the engineers are overbooked for the next N months.  So, yesterday, the guy tells us that he can't order any parts until December, because his funding from his university wasn't going to be in yet.  I have engineers who are waiting on parts that were supposed to be ordered already (we thought they were ordered).  WTF???  So, after explaining all of this to him, he agreed and is going to order the parts understanding that his university will eventually give him money.  What a pain!

3. I had a meeting with all of the College's departmental and college-level advisers.  Every time I go to one of these meetings, I feel like an idiot.  Everyone there has been an adviser for about as long as I have been alive.  They have these great systems set up and know exactly what to do when X, Y, or Z happens to a student.  I, on the other hand, have no training what-so-ever in being an adviser, and don't even know some of the classes that students are supposed to take to graduate (like what the hell is the difference between humanities and social studies?  Why do we care?  And what is a humanities sequence? These are things that I should KNOW!)  I raised this issue at the meeting, and they are going to start having training meetings for advisers.  Wow!  That is fantastic!  The first meeting that they are having is going to be a report on what people learned at some advising conference.  What? This has nothing to do with training us!  The first meeting should be an open meeting to ask "What do you people not know? What questions do you have?"  Let's get the known unknowns covered before we start talking about the conferences that we don't have time to attend.

Ok, I have overstayed my welcome and now actually have to work.  Hopefully I can stick my head out of the fox hole in the next week and blog again.  And maybe I won't get my head shot off.

Friday, September 18, 2009


The night before last we did our normal ice cream Wednesday.  We normally go to Dairy Queen, because the kids love it and it is the closest ice cream place to our house.  Last night we went to a different place that Crab Mama used to go to when she was but a wee little lass.  We had our ice cream and were headed home, when a Toyota FJ Cruiser ran a stop sign and plowed right into us.

No one was hurt.  They hit us right on my door and front quarter panel, which is probably the best place to be hit if you are going to be hit, and don't want your kids to be hurt.  Crab Girl was a little freaked out, while Crab Boy took it pretty much in stride.

Yesterday we learned that the insurance company would like to total our car.  We have only had it for about a year or so.  I just bought snow tires last year and rims at the beginning of the summer so we wouldn't have to go swap wheels every 6 months (I can do that in the garage!)  Crab Mama has complained for a while about her wonderful MiniVan.  So, the question is, What Now?

When we got our (now dead) car, we did a lot of research on reliability versus mileage versus affordability.  We also have been buying foreign cars for the last 15 years.  We wanted to give an American car a try (or at least the perception that we were giving it a try...)  We ended up buying a used Pontiac Vibe, which is a Toyota Matrix with a Pontiac sticker on it.  That cleared our conscience while meeting all of our other criteria.

After looking around for an hour or so last night, we have come to about the same conclusion.  Crab Mama basically said we should just replace the Vibe with an identical one.  Then people can ask us if we got our car painted!

My selfless self wants to sell the MiniVan at the same time and buy Crab mama a Rav4 (her new dream car), and me a crappy old Toyota.  This doesn't help the conscience, but it does help the husband brownie points.  Crab Mama says she would rather have solar panels or a wood-burning stove or some "useful".  Come On!  Are you an American???  It is all about the car! Come On!

Well, so, there it is.  We will probably buy another Vibe that is grey or gray or silver or .... red.  So, if you see someone driving down the street in a Vibe that looks just like me, but it can't be me because that isn't my car, it's me.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pre-Class Blurb

Last semester, my class started at 10 AM.  It was great, because I could show up to the building that I taught and sit there for about 90 minutes by myself.  It was a very nice relaxing time in which I could do class prep or read e-mail or blog or whatever.  This semester, my class starts at 9 AM.  In some ways this is nice too, because I am done with class an hour earlier.  When I get back to my office, it doesn't feel like the whole morning is gone.  But, it does mean that I don't get that extra hour.  Right now, I should be uploading my lecture and not blogging.

I think that more blogs will therefore happen at night, then, instead of in the calm right before class.

Ok.  I have to upload.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The End

This is the end.  My only friend, the end.

Today is the end of summer.  Tomorrow I can no long shirk responsibility and must become a grown-up again.  The alarm is set for 6:30.  The homeschooling schedule has been set.  We all know what we have to do.  Now, we just have to do it.  Tomorrow is the beginning.

For the last week I have felt like crap.  I have been congested and have been basically feeling like warmed over turds.  So this weekend, I didn't get much accomplished.  Neither did Crab Mama, since she was feeling about the same for the last couple of days.  I read a bit today.  Sat on the couch and read.  I don't do that much.  Today I said "F*ck it, I am going to sit my John Big-Bootie on the couch and read!" And that is what I did.

Yesterday we had the strangest visit of a relative that I have ever had.  Ever.

I figure that you can measure the length of stay of a relative by some factors, some of which include how long it took them to get to your place, how close you are, how long it has been since you have seen each other and how many other people you have to visit while you are in town.

Crab Mama's family sort of breaks many of these rules.  For example, when her Dad comes and visits us (a 45 minute drive each way), he typically only stays for about 30-60 minutes, which puts his travel time over his visit time.  Interestingly, we only see him 2-3 times a year, which seems like it would mean that the visits should be longer.  Also considering that he isn't very busy at all (so the variable drops out of the equation), you can solve for the variable "closeness".  As is self-evident, this is relatively low.

Yesterday blew all my understanding of "closeness" (or "strangeness") out of the water.

Crab Mama's aunt was going to be in town for a day.  She flew into Indianapolis and was there for work or something.  Yesterday morning she drove up and was visiting with old friends and seeing where she used to live and such.  Now, she used to live about 5 miles from us, so we were told that she was in town.  About 6:00 yesterday, she calls and says "hey, do you mind if I stop over and visit?"  Crab Mama says, "Sure, you are more than welcome!"  So, we quickly clean up the house and prepare for the imminent arrival.

About 30 minutes later, the doorbell rings, the dogs go nuts, and she has arrived.  Crab Mama steps outside to give her aunt a hug, and they just stand there.  Her aunt brought a friend.  I was standing in the kitchen, waiting for them to come in, but they just stood there.  After about 2 minutes of talking, Crab Mama says "you can come in", but her aunt says "oh, no, we need to go".  Uh. Ok.  We convinced her to come into the house.  She stepped in and looks around (like, stands there and looks around).  We talk for a minute about dinner and such and she mentions that she is going to go out to dinner and has to go because she has to go to dinner with her friend (who is standing right there).  We suggested a restaurant and they left.  It was clear that they were going to the restaurant by themselves. So, uh, maybe they would ask us if we wanted to go? Spend a little time with your niece? WTF?  They were there for literally less than 5 minutes.  Crab Mama hasn't seen her aunt in about 5 years or so.  And all it comes to is a five minute visit?  That was just bizarre.  My world is turned upside down.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

To Do List

These are the thing that I have crossed off my to do list in the last week or so.

1. Read Student #2's paper #1.
2. Read Student #2's paper #2.
3. Read Student #2's reply to the referees.
4. Read Previous Student's paper. Again. And Again.
5. Read Student #1's thesis. Again. Fax completed thesis paperwork.
6. Print out paper work from person, fill it out and drop it off.
7. Write a letter of recommendation.
8. Buy tickets for Switzerland trip.
9. Buy tickets for Boulder trip.
10. Reserve hotel and car and register for Boulder trip.
11. Buy tickets for Mike Doughty at the Ark.
12. Write a thank-you e-mail to NASA person.
13. Bug collaborator about workshop that he is organizing.
14. Figure out class schedule. Make web site and crap for class.
15. Get Student #1 to run model for a few months and give results to person that I don't want to collaborate with (#1), so they can sit on the results and do nothing with them.
16. Figure out why Crab girl is not feeling well (not completed).  Call Dr. Schedule appointment.
17. Get IT people to finish installing software on laptop (not completed).
18. Go to the bank.
19. Reimbursements - June meeting #1, June meeting #2, June meeting #3, Balloon crap.
20. Set up meeting times with six students/post docs/engineers and group meeting.
21. Get dry ice.
22. Test magnetometer.
23. Finish AGU abstract #1 and #2.
24. Finish paper and get feedback from people.
25. Write on my blog.

Now, wasn't that an exciting post!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Paper One "Complete"

Well, I pretty much have finished the first paper that I had as a goal to finish this summer.  I have to address some comments by co-authors (Damn you co-authors! You know who you are! :-)  I have also figured out a big step forward in my next paper.  I have one week to finish this next paper.  One week.  Only four work days.

Oh Crap.

Only four work days until classes start.

Oh Crap.

What am I teaching again?  Wow.  I have to really start thinking about this class.....

I think that this year I am going to try to take the kids on more trips.  I will try again to take each on a separate trip and see how it goes.  The first trip I took Crab Girl on went pretty well - she played video games and watched movies pretty much the whole time, and then, on our off hours, she wanted to play in the swimming pool the whole time.  I don't think we left the hotel the whole week.  She got to ride in First Class on the way home, which thrilled her (they upgraded me, and then couldn't downgrade me when I requested it since the plane was full, so they upgraded her!)  Crab Boy's first trip was pretty good also.  We went to Washington DC for three days.  Two days were in meetings and one was just walking around seeing the sights.  He collapsed in exhaustion a few (dozen) times, but besides that it was a fun day.

This year I think that I will probably take Crab Girl with me to Switzerland (a week) and Crab Boy to Boulder (3 days).  This means that I have to take Crab Mama somewhere better than Switzerland (in November).  It is our 15th anniversary next year, so the trip better be (1) without kids; and (2) good.  Any suggestions?  Oh, we are talking about the end of February.  So, no Alaska or Maine or Canada.  One of my students went to Italy a little while ago.  How does that sound?  Expensive?  Oh, and I should say, Saline is out of the question!  So is Milan!

Ok, back to thinking about how the summer is almost gone and how little I have accomplished this summer and .... sob.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Did It!

I bought Welcome to the Pleasuredome by Frankie Goes to Hollywood!

Shocking, eh?

We're a long way from home....

Ok, enough of that.

Today was a crap day.  Crab Mama is out doing field work all week, so I am in charge of the kids.  Yesterday I had a lot of meetings and crap, but the person who normally takes the kids on Mondays (we take her kids on Wednesdays) couldn't this week, since one of her kids is sick.  So, they got to have a fun-filled day in the office with me.  We got to go to a lunch meeting. Fun, fun, fun!  Today, Crab-Girl woke up really late, so we didn't get to the day care place (day care for an 11 year old?  I am not sure what to call it...) until 9:30.  Then I discovered I had a very low tire.  I drove to a gas station and bought some air (what the hell is up with buying air? It's air!) only to find that there was a hole in the side wall.  So, I inflated as much as I could and got to spend the morning at Belle Tire.  I got into work at about noon.  Then had to leave at 2:20 to go pick the kids up and take them to guitar lesson.  Just over 2 hours of work!  Wow!  I got cheered up a bit late in the day by going to out ice cream with the family.  Then, when we got home, they gave me my birthday present - a food processor! Hells Yeah! Now I can make all sorts of stuff from Cook's Illustrated!

Well, it was a frustrating day, but I actually managed to write a bit today, which is good.  I am hoping to submit two papers before school starts.  I have two weeks from tomorrow.  I think that I am screwed, but who knows, maybe I can pull it off.  I have the first paper almost completely done.  It is a nice piece of work, I think.  But, I am biased.  The second paper requires a fair bit of work.  I actually have third and forth papers sitting in the wings too, but I don't think that those are going to happen.  Maybe before the end of the year?

AGU abstracts are due September 3rd.  Do you have yours done?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Me
I'm one hundred and three
I look like a monkey
And I have to go pee.

According to the CDC mortality statistics, there is a good chance that I will live 40.5 more years.  On the other hand, I could die tomorrow.

It is interesting that at this point in my life, I think about death on my birthday.  At what age does this happen?  Does it happen to everyone?

I am not actually depressed about it.  Just thinking.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Paper Length

Spacecataz says:
To be fair, said former student has been in a political slap fight with a scientific adversary, and this has been the main reason for the ridiculous size of the paper. The other guy keeps demanding more and more in the paper because he doesn't believe said student's results.

This raises a couple of excellent points:

1. How long is too long of a paper.

2. What do you do when reviewers or exterior people keep asking for more and more from the paper.

The first is relatively easy to figure out. Journals have guidelines for this, and the typical one is that papers should be no longer than 10 pages. While this is often difficult to do, it is a very good goal. In fact, some journals penalize you for going over 10 pages to the tune of $100+/page over 10 pages. For a 20 page paper, that is $1000. In publishing land, that is not a HUGE sum of money, but it is costly. For the specific paper that we are discussing, once it is journal format, it will be something on the order of 40-50 pages, which will cost $3000-$4000 extra, just in penalties. Not to mention the color figures and normal page fees, etc. This is looking to be a $8,000 paper. That, my friends, is expensive for a publication.

Next you have to consider how much people can swallow in one bite. A ten page paper is something that can be read in one long pull. Once you good at reading papers (i.e., you can skim it and get the salient points very easily), it is easy to digest a 10 page paper in under an hour. When you go to a paper that is over 20 pages in length, it is excessively difficult to actually accomplish this. A 20+ page paper no longer has a central focus - it has many areas of focus. This makes it harder to skim and gleam the major point(s). The details start to take over, since it is probably chocked full of them. In fact, this is probably the main difference between a 10 and a 20 page paper - the details. In a 10 page paper, there is a central (simple) theme that is conveyed with the minimum number of details to get the point across. In a 20 page paper, it may either have multiple points or one point with an overkill on the details. These details become the primary object of the paper, and the central point loses its importance. Envision forests and trees and all that crap.

On the second point, this is a little more tricky to deal with. Let's say you have a paper and the referee disagrees with you fundamentally. Instead of just saying (or in addition to saying) that the paper is complete crap because it disagrees with their line of research, they say that they don't believe this aspect of the method or that aspect of the method or this detail or that detail. This gets you into a battle about (possibly) trivial things that take away from the central theme of the paper. What they are in essence doing is having you focus on the trees instead of the forest. If they get you to focus on the details instead of the central theme, then you lose readers and your effectiveness to communicate.

I imagine that this may not be intentional, since they may be interested in the details, but often times what I think happens is that the reviewer disagrees with the outcome of the study, so they are gunning for anything that they think is "incorrect". If you same something like, "this term is negligible", they will automatically say that it is not negligible and therefore the entire study is flawed. You then get into a debate about how that term is or is not negligible. Very few people probably care about this argument except the reviewer, but in order to satisfy the referee, you have to address it somehow. This can totally derail the review process.

Now, what to do about it? That is a fantastic question. There are a number of strategies, some of which are effective and some of which are not:

1. Keep the argument within the reply to the referee. This allows you to address their specific issues without detracting from the main point of the paper. You can always add a couple of sentences in the paper on these issues, but, unless it adds to the central theme, don't go into gory detail! Go into gory detail in the response only.

2. Deflect their arguments by trivializing them back in the response. Don't even acknowledge the importance of their argument. This is very risky and could easily backfire. Some referees don't ever want to see a paper again after they have reviewed it once, so this strategy works well on them, but often the referee will only get very angry after a casual dismissal. So, use this method rarely.

3. When I was a Post Doc, the guy that I worked for addressed all of the reviewers comments within the paper, then, when it was accepted and going through the copy editing process, he removed a significant amount of the additions. Don't do this.

4. Add some strong sentences in the conclusions about the assumptions that you have made. State them in the methodology section, and then again in the conclusions that that you have acknowledged that there are assumptions and that they could impact the findings. This way, you still have an extremely tight central theme, but you concur that there could be other findings with different assumptions. This pleases the reviewer because it says right at the end of the paper "I could be wrong". They read this part as the most important, but very few other people will. You please everyone.

The main problem with this is thinking rationally once you get the reviews back. Typically, you are just so pissed off that you are seeing red. You want blood. But, you have to set your emotions aside and think about how to effectively respond to the comments. I am not the best example of this. I get overly emotional about my papers and blow a fuse when I get a bad review (on every paper!) I try to put my feelings aside, but I have a very hard time doing it. I will try harder in the future.

Ok, I have to go and help Crab Mama put rocks around the fish pond....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Picnic Euphoria

Tonight we had a picnic for work. It was a blast. Tomorrow we have a picnic for my wife's work. Both at the same place. How many hamburgers and hot dogs can one person eat???

Yesterday I spent the day reading my student's paper. Today I spent the day reading another student's paper. Tomorrow I have to read a former student's paper. It is really, really, really long too. One of his problems had been writing way too much. Now I have to help cut his 100+ page paper down to something manageable. Boy oh boy, am I going to have a fun day.

Hear is another piece of news. I started drinking Diet Mt. Dew. Holy crappoly. I first started drinking Mt. Dew Throwback, which is a sugar version of Mt. Dew, instead of corn syrup. This took the sweetness down a fair bit (although not the calories). Once I got used to that, going to Diet was easy. Now, let the pounds drip off!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blueberries of Love

My sister asks us to come blueberry picking with her. We say sure, we will call you. We don't. Then, the wife decides that we should go blueberry picking on Sunday morning. We invite our neighbor to go with us, since she was at home alone with her son. After we get there and pick berries for an hour, we pay and get ready to leave. Well, who should show up? My sister!

I am sorry!


I am such a bad brother! I am a total sh*t!

But, I must say that the blueberries are so freaking good. I mean, really good.

Monday, August 10, 2009


NSF MRI proposal is done! Hopefully it will review well and I will get a couple of million dollars to build some instruments!

After I turned in my proposal, I got to spend a few minutes cleaning my office, which is fantastic! I haven't cleaned my office in months.

Tonight the kids had a Lego competition. They each made something sort of ... less than spectacular. We were all pretty impressed with the winning "sculptures". The kids are super-motivated to build something for next year. They are going to build a bridge that is being attacked by a monster shooting lasers out of its eyes. People will be jumping off the bridge and at least one person will be chopped in half by laser eyes. Sweet. Those are MY kids!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fish Ponds and Dog Farts

It is August already. Crap. Where did the summer go? I was supposed to accomplish so much, and yet, I don't feel like I have accomplished much at all. In a month, I will have to start teaching again, and will be drowning in class.

But, let's just focus on the now.

Or the past week.

Some interesting things that have happened lately:

1. I got a tattoo:

Why? Good question. Maybe I should address this in a separate blog post.

2. We are making a fish pond in the yard. That is a lot of fun - the kids are going crazy working on it. We have basically finished the majority of it - we have the hole dug, the liner in, rocks around the outside of it, and have filled it with water. We would have put fish in it today, but it is pouring rain.

3. The kids went to Grandma's house last week. They were gone from Sunday to Friday. They had a great time. She took them to an amusement park, which we have never done before. So, they were extremely happy about the whole thing. We went and saw one movie. We should have gone to more movies, and gone out to dinner more, but we worked a lot and then had to come home relatively early, because...

4. We are watching someone's dog. So we have 3 dogs right now. 3. Dogs. And it is raining, so they are all covered with mud. And the visiting dog doesn't agree with the dog food that we have, so she has gas. Holy Crap is that some nasty-*ss-sh*t. And then she crapped in her crate the other day while we were at work. That is nice. Welcome home. I feel sorry for the dog. But, because I am terribly insensitive, I just want the dog to be done. I don't really care how. Gone. We have 4 more days of dog farts.

5. I am working on a huge proposal. There are major issues to deal with here, which I won't go into here. It is a painful process, since I basically have no admin support for the proposal, so I have to do EVERYTHING for it. Luckily it is a FastLane proposal, so you can sort of see what you need to do. I just have about 15 Supplemental Documents to upload, and am not sure whether I should include others or not. And I have to finish writing the proposal. And the place that I am submitting it from hasn't even gotten me their budget. And it is due on Monday. Nice.

6. I made up with my 'boss'. One of the reasons that we have so much conflict is that he is not really my boss anymore. We discussed this point and basically both of us agreed that we should act more like adults.

7. I rode my bike to work twice this week. I was hoping that I could ride more, since the kids were gone, but life got a little out of hand.

8. We launched a balloon on Thursday. It carried an actual scientific instrument, which was the whole point of all of the balloon launches that we have been doing lately - working up to carrying an expensive piece of equipment. It was a great launch, and pretty much the best landing that you could hope for. We saw it land. I think that someone got it on video, so, when they post this, I will make a link. The balloon missed a large cluster of large lakes by a very small margin. It was very close, and we were all a little nervous. After trying to ask the farmer for permission to go into his field, and finding that he wasn't home, a few students went out into the field to get it. After recovering the balloon, the farmer showed up and was a little angry that we trespassed onto his property. Words were exchanged - actually he yelled at me a fair bit and I just tried not to give not-to-smart-ass answers to his derogatory comments. It was fun!

9. My second post doc started work about two weeks ago. My new grad student started last Monday. My old grad student is defending in a week. My other grad student got back from China last week after being there for about 4-5 weeks. So, now we are all there. I have to figure out how I am going to manage all of these people and still get work done myself. This is the key - I have to admit that I won't get any work done on my own any more. Managing people is becoming the largest percentage of my time.

10. I am going to take a shower now. It is about 3:00 in the afternoon and I haven't taken a shower yet. I stink. And my tattoo itches. But I am not allowed to scratch it.....!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

10 ten simple activities i love

Bryan started it. So, here is my contribution:

10. Drinking Mt. Dew.
09. Reading a book.
08. Walking through the back door, after getting home.
07. Reading to my kids.
06. An unmentionable act that one does with a spouse. I am not sure that it is "simple", though.
05. Riding my bike.
04. Cooking a good dinner. Eating a good dinner. Eating dessert. Eating. In general.
03. Watching really funny TV shows (Arrested Development, 30 Rock, etc.)
02. Listening to music.
01. Coding. Creating something from nothing.

Obviously, I screwed up the order. Drinking Mt. Dew is #1 after I dew #5. #2 is #1 almost all of the time, but can be done with all other things. #3 should not be done with #6. Not a good idea. #6 and #5 don't mix either. Tried that. Didn't work. #8 sometimes changes from #1 to off the list when I hear the screaming and yelling going on. It can also change from off the list to #1, when everyone rushes up to me with open arms screaming "Daddy!"

I work for an *ss H*le

I got into an argument with my boss about a trip that he wanted me to take. At first, when he stated that he wanted everyone in the group to go on this trip, I protested. He didn't listen. Then he told us that one of the other members of the group would just go for one day, while the rest of us are going for five days. I didn't say anything at this point.

This trip was basically to support our large code(s). He wanted us to go and work with a group that I have been working with a lot over the last few years. I have been extremely supportive of this group and have been doing code modifications for them a lot over the last 6 months.

At a meeting about 2 weeks ago, he went around the table asking people when they were going. I said that I wasn't going because I have been traveling way too much, and that I would support the meeting over the phone. The room went dead silent. Eventually, it passed and the person who was going for a day said when he was going. I volunteered that I could possibly go for a day also.

But, that day came, and I didn't go. I didn't tell him that I wasn't going. I didn't talk to him at all about the trip before the trip. He didn't ask. I didn't volunteer. So, he called me when he got off the airplane to ask me where I was. I was in my office. He blew up. I blew up more. I yelled at him about how he doesn't listen to me when I talk to him, so there was no point in actually talking to him. I told him that I didn't want to go, expressed this to him, and he didn't listen. He said that I obviously didn't think that the people and the relationship with the people he was visiting was important. That is when I exploded. I yelled that I had supported the people more than anyone else in the group. That I spend days and days writing code and testing and doing all sorts of crap for them, while no one else in the group had done this. (There is one other member of our group who has probably done as much work as I have, I should say...)

Eventually he said, something like "I guess there is nothing else to say." I said "I guess so." and we hung up.

About an hour later I was on the telecon talking to the people about the code problems. I help resolve some issues and I think that we made the code much more stable. Without me being there. I did a bunch of runs at work and contributed to the meeting.

So, today (three days later), I get this e-mail:


Your membership in `group-CORE' has been suspended. You are still a member of
the `group-ALL' group.

If you wish to discuss this please make an appointment with my assistant. I will
not respond to email about this matter.

[Your boss]

Nice. I am punished.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lance in Third

Yesterday, Lance dropped to forth place, but today he climbed back up to the podium. He has one more incredibly difficult stage to go, but I am confident that he can keep third!

Let's cross our fingers!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Some Kick-*ss Balloon Footage

Click here to see some really freaking cool video of our last balloon flight.

If you get tired of watching, fast forward to about 2:45, and watch for the next few seconds. It is crazy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

No! Lance! No!

Lance all but gave up yesterday. He didn't climb as well as he used to and basically stated that Contador was a much better climber. He also said that there is no way he will win at this point.

No! No! No!

Oh God!


Don't do it Lance! Don't give up. You only have to believe harder! If you want it bad enough, your legs will be stronger in the mountains! You only have to believe!

Or... as some believe... is it only a deception, and he will come back on the last day, and whip everyone's *ss? Yes. That must be it! He is just holding back a few days. Just waiting for the perfect time to win! That must be it!

(Oh God Lance! That's it, right????)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New Bike!

I got a new bike yesterday:

It is a Felt X-City with a Shimano 8-speed internal gear hub. This is so that the maintenance is minimized. The wheels are road bike sized wheels. It has an aluminum frame too. So, it is like a road bike, but has fatter tires and more of a mt. bike geometry. It should be a good commuter bike.

I rode 16 miles this morning and then Crab Boy and I rode to the lake, which is 4 miles away. He splashed around a bit, and then we rode home. So, 24 miles in a day.

First real mountain stage today. It is exciting!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I'm Sorry Mom

A lot of people tell me that my son is exactly the same that I am.

This morning, he wakes me up, and we go down stairs to eat breakfast and stuff. It has been about an hour now, and he hasn't stopped talking to actually breathe yet. I am waiting for him to pass out from lack of Oxygen. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk.

He is now talking to me about how we can wash our hands in the water behind the dam that he is going to build in the water run off thing by the side of the house. And there are going to be rocks in it. And it will last forever.....

If I was like Crab Boy, I am sorry mom. Truly sorry.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In the Grips of the Tour

I have tour-mania. If you don't know what I am talking about, then you are obvious a football loving American.

Will Armstrong win again? He is in 3rd place right now, only down 8 seconds from the leader. Very exciting stuff! It is quite funny listening to him talk now, since he seems to be much more relaxed about stuff and jokes about how serious everyone else is. He makes comments about how old he is. It is a little more refreshing. Lance said in an interview before the race, something like "look, there will be a break away. The Peleton will pull them back. Cavendish will win, since it is a flat stage."

Paul Sherwin just said "completely and utterly", which is his saying. Every year. Every day. Completely and Utterly.

Cavendish wins again! Surprise!

The thing that I hate about the tour this year, is that many (many!) of the mountain stages end with a long downhill section. This means that if you beat a bunch of bastards up the hill, they can catch up on the way down the mountain. This means that riders are very hesitant about exerting a lot of energy on the way up, when other people can just catch up to you. So, there is no real race there. It is very sad! Two monster stages last week ended up being completely blah because of this. Oh well.

Monday, July 6, 2009

At Grammy's

Well, we survived Chicago. I gave a talk at the Adler Planetarium. We went to the Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, the top of the Sear's Tower, and the Aquarium. Quite a weekend.

It was a wonderful, family filled weekend in which we really had nothing important to do. Very nice.

Tomorrow we are going to go to the beach and spend a few hours just playing. We then have to drive home and get back to reality. Wednesday, work and dogs!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Fish Out of Water

Today we are in Chicago to see the fireworks. I have to give a presentation on Monday, so we thought we would come to Chicago a few days early to see the fireworks, which are raved about. We booked ourselves into a relatively fancy hotel (thank goodness for membership cards and AAA!). The parking is valet only and is about $45/day. So, we abandoned the car in South Chicago and took the train. It was definitely an interesting experience. Not bad, but interesting.

When we got to the hotel, we got a room and then went out to watch the fireworks, since it was about 9:00 at night, which is what time the guy at the front desk said they would start. We got to the park as they were starting.

The "Taste of Chicago" is going on at the same time, so the park was full of booths and lights and stuff. We started to walk into the park, and I got bumped by a cop who was manhandling someone in handcuffs out of the park. Nice. About this time, I think we realized we were in a very different place than our normal firework viewing location. The people around us we not hillbillies. They were more of the inner city type of folk.

While we were standing there, with thousands of others watching the fireworks, some people started running out of the park. It was like a bomb had gone off and everyone was panic running. We stepped behind a barricade thing and just stood there watching the fireworks while people ran like crazy for about 10 seconds. And then, everyone calmed down and it was over. Very, very strange.

Next a little golf cart dealy with a stretcher came racing from the entrance, horn blaring. Everyone moved out of the way to let them through. Another little vehicle came through with more police on board. It was all just a little surreal.

We moved a little bit away from the rest of the people, down an isle of trees, so we could see a little better and get out of the main stream of things.

Then, the fireworks ended. Just like that. Well, there was a nice ending, but it was all of a sudden.

There was a little kid standing in front of Crab Boy with a little light saber. He was waving at him, basically saying "Look what I have!" Once the fireworks ended, his big brother took the light saber away from him, broke it in half and threw it on the ground. Then proceeded to smack him on the butt a few times because he was crying his head off. Nice. Once we got far away from them, Crab Boy asked us what we would do to punish him if he was in our family. I don't really know. It is so foreign, that I just can't really comprehend it. Crab Boy suggested that the older kid have to buy the younger kid a $100 Lego set.

Now we are in our hotel room. In the water.

Next year, we will probably stay at home and watch the fireworks from our normal place near the car wash on the lake, with all of the hillbillies. While we will feel like fish out of water there too, there will be less people and fewer police.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Same Place as Last Week

I am sitting in the same hotel, one floor up and one room away from the hotel that I was in last week at this exact same moment. Tomorrow I am going to take the same flight home and eat the same breakfast on the airplane. What is this, day 9? I am not looking forward to Sunday, in which I will, once again, leave the kids.

I had about and hour long phone conversation today with Crab Boy, while I was driving through the mountains and into Denver. For the first five minutes or so, all he did was talk baby talk to me. Most of the time, that just bugs me, but today it was cute. Maybe because all I had to do was listen to his baby talk and drive. There were no meetings or people or other crap to deal with. It was nice. He has never talked on the phone for more than about 5 minutes with me before. Today, he talked and talked. Then had to hang up to eat dinner. Then he called back, and he talked more. Then the phone went dead, and I called him back when I got out of the mountains. He is growing up.

I gave a 45 minute talk today at the workshop I was at. It went ok. I was pretty worried about it, since it was, in essence, a non-science talk. My ex-grad student called it a 45 minute advertisement. Which it was - it discussed the history of this code that some people use to do data assimilation and how it has changed and enabled a huge amount of science that could not have been done before. But, I think that people enjoyed it. I joked around a lot. I don't think that anyone fell asleep.

The sad thing is, though, that I have no time off. I have to prepare for my travel next week - I have a talk first thing on Monday. So, I have to do a bunch of crap (crap = model runs) this weekend to prepare.

An update on my Post Doc - he went to Europe a few days ago. He finished the paper that he was supposed to get done before he left. We are unsure of the results of the modeling study, since he got different results than I got (hmmmm....), but the paper is going to be in a non-reviewed conference proceedings, so it doesn't matter too much. We will clear up the model issues when he gets home in a month.

One of my grad students is off to China next week. She is really the work-horse of the group. It is totally unbelievable the things that she can accomplish. We have outlined two papers that she is going to work on (one is almost finished, one has the runs and such done). These will be her 4th and 5th papers that she has written. And she is just finishing her 3rd year. I am pretty ok with her taking a vacation!

Today I did something that I haven't done in a long time - I took some time out of the conference and went for a hike with some of the student (well - some are now ex-students). It is sad that I don't do this more often.

Well, time to relax a bit and work on some more talks!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today is Crab Boy's 8th birthday. He currently has 5 friends in the basement screaming and yelling and generally having a good time. We are going to eat cake in a couple of minutes.

We bought Crab Boy a Lego robot for his birthday. It's mainly for me. Let's be honest.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 2 of 20 Days of Travel

Ok, I won't actually be traveling for he full 20 days. I flew to Colorado yesterday, fly home tomorrow. Fly back to CO on Monday morning. Back home on Friday. Santa Fe on Sunday. Back on Thursday. Chicago (with the family!) on July 4th/5th. Back on the 8th - don't even know what day that is. Then, my boss wants me to go to Washington DC for a week starting something like the 20th. Yeah, right.

Life is very interesting. I just read my friends blog. I would have to say that his job is 100% the same as mine, but yet he reports that he loves his job, while I, I am sad to say, don't. It makes me think about what it is about myself or about my job that is.... different.

Many of the things about our job that he lists that he likes, I like too. For example, teaching students, doing research, etc. I like doing all of those things. I seem to concentrate my thoughts on all of the things that (most likely) just fall off his shoulders. For example, meetings all of the time, mundane paperwork, letters of support, travel, and ... I have to imagine that he gets so much more joy out of the more fun bits of his job, that these don't bother him, while I, on the other hand, tend to concentrate on these aspects of my job, and make it so I want to scream.

I could imagine a therapist saying something like "When you truly love someone, and they fill you with happiness, then their flaws just don't matter at all. But, when you are not filled with happiness, then it is easy to get sucked down into thinking about the flaws of the other person all of the time." Not that I have ever heard anyone say this type of thing... just imagining is all I am doing.

I think that this is true of my job also. I need to figure out how I can fill my black heart up with love for my job, so I won't get caught up in all of the crap that I have to do. I do admit that there are aspects of my job that I absolutely love.

One of my (many) problems that I have, if you have not figured this out, is that I tend to spread myself too thin. I am like the guy in a game of Risk who thinks he can take Asia and hold it. You just can't hold Asia. And it is ok to not hold Asia. Why not settle for Australia or South America. These are nice little continents that give you some armies, but don't tax your resources. I need to accept that life would be better to just hold Australia and not Asia.

For travel, I imagine that one of the reasons that I hate travel is that I have this PERCEPTION that my family is basically miserable without me, and that it is my fault. I also am a homebody. These two things make traveling sort of miserable for me. I have to work on saying "yes, I am leaving my family, but they will be fine without me, so I might as well enjoy myself." If I don't enjoy myself, is it making their lives any better? By making myself unhappy, does it make my wife more happy? While this is true at home, where she can witness me being miserable, it doesn't work while I am out of her sight.

Ah well. That is enough for on night in a hotel in Denver.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Singing the Post Doc Blues

Today I rode my bike again. You will think that I actually ride my bike often, if I keep this up!

But, I can't, since tomorrow I am off to somewhere in Colorado for a 5 hour meeting. Then back for the weekend, then off to Colorado again for 5 days, then back for the weekend, then off to New Mexico for 4 days. Ahhh, travel - how I have missed you in the last 3 weeks!

Yesterday I had an interesting day re my Post Doc. A couple of months ago, we decided on a project for him, which was basically to take someone else's model results as the lower boundary of our code. We started by downloading a very large data file and extracting what we needed from it (I wrote a bunch of code to extract some of the data, then he finished it off by extracting all of the data). He then modified the code to read in the data files that we created and use them for a bottom BC.

Now, take this next part with a grain of salt, since he has never used the model, and I wrote the model from scratch.

He came to me stating that he had finished it, and wanted to do some runs to show how the result changed and do some physics. I wanted to see results right away. He said I should wait, since he had a bunch of runs to do and wanted to look at the results. I agreed. Well, it turns out that all of the results were bad. I am not blaming him at all, since we all make mistakes. You just have to recognize the possibility of mistakes and show your work to someone who has actually used the model...

So, yesterday, while he search for the bug, I took his code and rewrote it from scratch (using his as a guideline for what to do). It took me about 2 hours to code it and test it, verifying that it worked perfectly. It took him over a month to do this.

Once again, I wrote the damn code, and I used his code as a template. But over a month versus two hours. This frustrates me a little bit. It would be great if he could have done it a little faster, since this was his only project during the time and we have a pretty hard deadline (presenting model results on Thursday...)

BUT - we got it done. The model now has a more dynamic lower boundary. We can probably publish at least three papers showing simple results from this, which is just fantastic.

Interestingly, he is going back to Europe for a conference, where he will present this research also. Then he is off to go back to his school, visit his family, and do other things. So, I won't actually see him for the next 4-5 weeks. Well, we had discussed that he HAD to finish this before he left. And he has. With some help. And just in the nick of time.

My second Post Doc arrives in July. Man, this year is going to be fun!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Sunday

Today I slept in until 9:15, woke up, ate breakfast, took a shower, and went to see Star Trek by myself. This is the first time I have gone to a movie by myself in a very long time. When I got home, I cleaned all four bathrooms (yes four!), folded a bunch of clothes, and started more laundry. We then went and trained the dogs on the new buried fence. Lilly sure can jump when she is electrocuted!

For the last two weeks, Lilly has discovered that she can run much faster than we can. When she escapes from us, all she has to do is head into the woods and she is home free. She is forced to take a shower when she returns an hour later, but that seems to be worth it for her.

Well, no more. She is wearing the new shock collar right now (so is Heidi). We took them around the perimeter today with the collar on for the first time just a little while ago. Lilly got zapped a few times. Hopefully, she learned that she had to run towards the yard when the zap happens.

On to Star Trek. I enjoyed the movie very much, but kept getting hung up on the fact that all of the crew ended up being in place by about 3/4 of the way through the movie. This makes sense for continuity with the TV series and such, but it makes no real sense in a military outfit. Everyone on board the Enterprise was so great in getting to their current position, but then failed miserably at every getting a promotion again (until some movie, in which they decided to promote people - I can't remember which one - after something like 20 years in the same position). If you set aside this fact, and many other coincidences within the movie, it was a very good action flick. It made me want to go out and rent The Wrath of Khan (or Khan Strikes Back in Star Wars lingo).

Ok, the wife informs me that I should call our friends who are going to come and pick up their daughter and invite them to dinner. I guess that means that I need to shut up.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Good Day

Today I rode my bike to work. 14 miles there and 14 miles back. It rained all the way home. That sort of sucked, but it wasn't that bad. I think that riding my bike gets me all energized and pumped, giving me energy to do my wonderful job!

I also have been huddling in a room with another person every Thursday morning and writing. We have committed to writing during this time every week. So, last week I wrote proposal stuff. This week I actually worked on a paper! Holy crap! Paper? Yes! I made a few figures and started working on the paper, which I started about a year ago.

I did have a conversation with one of my students about what she wants to do with the rest of her life and more specifically about what she wants to do in the next year before she finishes. This was an interesting conversation. My student is extremely talented in just about everything that she does, but she doesn't really seem to like to do science. Science is extremely hard. It involves realizing that the solution is not straight forward. That may be a trivial thing to say, but it is hard to take. In everything that everyone does throughout school, there is a solution. It may be extremely hard to get to that solution, but there is a solution. With science, there may not be enough data or the simulations may be extremely difficult to figure out. If you hit your head against this wall over and over and over again, when you have never had to hit your head before, it is hard to take. This is a lesson that she will have to learn. It is not an easy lesson. It sucks.

I actually have no real idea how to teach her this. She is obviously smarter than I am and pretty much an equal when it comes to coding and such. How do I then teach her how to think independently and come up with unique solutions? All I basically do is tell her what I would do next. Lead by example. I am not really sure if this is the best way to teach something like this, but I'll give it a go for a while.

My Post Doc is doing pretty well. He has made a bunch of code modifications to a model that I developed and is starting to get some results. One of the problems that we are running into is that the model is slow - most other models that are of this type are simplified so they can run fast. My model is not simplified, so it runs slow. We have optimized the crap out out it, so it runs about 2-3 times faster than it did about 6 months ago, but if you are used to using a model that runs a day in about 4 hours on your desktop and you need 64 processors of a supercomputer to do the same thing, it is a drag. But, he is working on it. We have a pretty hard deadline to get some of the research done. I am going to a meeting next week and he is going to Europe the following week. Both of us have to give presentations on what he is doing. Needless to say, it is put up or shut up time. He is confident in the put up, so tomorrow he has to show me results. Should be another good day, eh?

Then one of the undergrads that is working for me finished one of the steps in a 100,000 step process. He didn't really know how to program before he started work 5 weeks ago. He learned Fortran90 and a bit of IDL, then played with C to reproduce what he did in Fortran. Next he has to learn how to program in CUDA, which is NVIDIA's parallel programming language. Did you know that your video card in your computer is like a little super computer? Why do you think that you can play Quake so well (ok, I don't know what the latest 3D games are... 3D Pac-Man? Actually, Halo 3 would be my best bet...) So, you can program your video card to do a bunch of really, really simple math very, very quickly. The key is to figure out how to do it. My undergrad is going to figure it out. Hopefully. Well, enough that I or someone else can take what he did and figure it out.

When I got home, the wife had dinner ready. It was soup and bread, which is good, since we tend to over eat a LOT, so having a light meal is great a couple days a week. I got to read to the kids for about 30 minutes (over half way through Eragon now - he's in jail! What's going to happen???? Tune in tomorrow, unless Crab Boy has a sleep over, in which case, tune in Saturday.)

And now I am blogging. A couple days in a row. Wow!

Ahhh... I was also going to start putting in lyrics to songs that have some meaning to me. Like the other day's Gun's and Roses lyrics. But different.

Let's play name this song....

When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

Ok, that is probably pretty obvious. But, there it is. Maybe I will make it harder and harder and harder, so only Rico can answer!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I get up around 7
get out of bed around 9
i don't worry about nothin', no
cuz worrying's a waste of my time

Monday, June 8, 2009


I feel like my brain has turned to mush - at work and at home.

At work I have made a gigantic todo list, and have been slowly plowing through the list. Very slowly. I am in so many meetings and have so many students working for me, that I can't actually get any work done at all. I guess this is what a manager does, eh? People get work done for me. I tell them to do something, and they do it. Move on to the next person.

I am a person who likes to actually do stuff, though. I hate the fact that I can't take the time to actually build a payload for the balloons. Or that I make my student rewrite her code because it runs out of memory for me when I run it on a problem that she didn't test it on. I can do this stuff - I just don't have time to do it.

So, when I am sitting at my desk, thinking that I would like to program or do something "useful", I have to look down at my todo list and force myself to do something on the list. I really don't like working like that, but this is what it has come down to. Maybe when my 3 weeks of travel starting next week is over, I will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and do some stuff.

One very nice thing that I have started to to actually set aside Thursday mornings to write. For the last two weeks I have been working on my big proposal. This Thursday, I will probably work on a paper. I have not written a paper in a long time. I have been forcing my students to do it, while I have not. I really hate writing papers. But, I should probably lead by example.

On a completely different note, I have to say that Nina Totenberg kicks ass. She did a story last week on Sotomayor which was a one-two punch to the right-wing pundits out there who are calling Sotomayor biased. It was great. It basically said that she is pretty impartial in racial cases, having fallen on both sides of the issue, while also saying that she doesn't believe that the courts make policy. Here is her last sentence - "The treaty's language is clear and it is not for the courts to make policy, she said, adding that if policy is to be changed, Congress or federal agencies must do it." I just laughed at this, because it was such a subtle jab to republicans that have been saying she has said that the courts make policy. Nina Kicks It!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Proposal Time

I am working on a major proposal for NSF. If I get this proposal, it will basically change my life. Normally, I work on modeling and that is about it. I have a couple of students and a post doc who do nothing but modeling and data analysis work. It is a good life. But, I really like doing hands-on type of stuff. For example, I did a huge amount of the work on our new house. Modeling is fun to me because it involves writing code and building stuff (not real stuff, but fake, codey stuff).

This new proposal will be to build a bunch of actual, real, stuff. And then deploy that stuff all over the United States and Canada. It is a big proposal. And somewhat important, since it could be life-changing, as alluded to above. Why would it be life-changing? Because it is building so many of these things that it will basically force me to do this 100% of my time for the next 3 years. Then, when the stations are all built and deployed, I will have to do science with the data and manage the operations and the data flow and all sorts of other aspects of them, implying that I will have significantly less time to actually do the modeling. Since I have a lot of grants to do the modeling, I will have get more students to do the modeling and such.

Life could be very different.

One thing that I am finding, while coming up with a management plan, is that I will be doing a lot of driving over the next three years. The furthest station is about 300 miles north of Edmonton, Canada (Fort Smith - 2,755 miles away from Ann Arbor!) The closest station is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I have to figure out how to deploy 18 stations all over North America in 3 years, with each taking about a week. This is going to be an adventure!

The first hurtle of this proposal is that I have to get it through the university. We are only allowed to submit three proposals from each university, so they have to judge which ones are the most likely to be funded, and which will benefit the university the most, etc. It is going to be harder to get through the universities filter than through the NSF filter, since there will probably be 20-30 proposals submitted to the university, while they have to pick three (a success rate of about 10%-17%), while NSF is expected to fund about 40% of those submitted. (Yeah stimulus money!)

Ok, back to work on the proposal.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Weekend

I finished the talks. I don't think that either one was that great, but, they existed. There was no standing ovation.

I talked to a lot of people out at the Air Force Research Lab. They are working on some pretty interesting things. I am actually quite biased against scientists who work in labs like this, since I see them as basically not contributing to science hardly at all. It seems like many of them get jobs, then are beaten down by the government regulations or whatever, and end up just in in-office retirement.

For example, I was trying to give the person who invited me to come and give the talk my power point presentation. He asked me to mail it to him. I couldn't, since I have movies and stuff that are larger than the 50 MB that our mail server can handle. (Note - don't send 50 MB mail attachments. They really suck down your mail program.) I then suggested a USB thumb drive. No - the government won't let them put USB drives in their computers. (What???) Next, put it on a web page. Well, I can't actually connect to the internet because my computer may explode the Air Force base (or something). So the solution we came up with (he came up with - having gone through this once or twice before) was for me to burn a CD with my talk on it. Then he takes the CD and puts it in his computer and copies it to his hard drive. We then throw away the CD, which fulfilled its destiny in 30 second.

Ah, viruses. I think that the terrorists have won this battle.

Imagine living everyday with this type of logic at work in your life.

"Can I do this?"



"Because we have determined that if you do that, something bad could happen and that would be bad."

"But, by not allowing me and everyone else working for the US government to not do it, you are cause untold amount of lost time and inefficiency."

"Yes, but if we get a virus, we could be down for a day."

"But, if you add up all of the time that is wasted to circumvent this illogical madness, it is MUCH longer than the down time if the worst probable thing happened."

"Follow the rules."


"Follow the rules!"

I think that after a few years of this crap, I would probably join the in-office retirement community of our great nation.

Moving on.

For my talk in Boston, there were a bunch of people out of town. It was a real shame, since there are a large number of people there that I would like to talk to. This was all caused by my moving the day that I was supposed to come and give a talk from the middle of April (during classes) to the middle of May (during summer). I was traveling too much, so I asked if I could move it, and they agreed. But, many people were out of town and a significant amount of the discussion that I could have had with people was cut. Oh well, such is life.

I then climbed on an airplane and flew to an undisclosed location in a state that begins with the letter P and hopped into the minivan to drive to another state that begins with the letter V. The wife and kids and dogs all met me at the airport (she arrived within 15 minutes of my flight arriving, even though she had to drive 5+ hours to get there - how is that for timing?) This all happened at 11 PM. We had to find a hotel that would take dogs. It turns out that in the great state of P, it is difficult to find a hotel that (a) takes dogs or (b) is not completely booked by Halliburton workers. Seriously, the entire Comfort Inn was taken over by Halliburton workers. It was a little scary. We finally found a hotel after asking 11 of them if they let dogs stay. It was crappy, but I had spent the previous night in a bed and breakfast in downtown Boston (I would have to say at least $250/night) and the night before that in a Marriott (about the same price), so pretty much anything would look like a Hell Hole. Hey, there was only one bug that I saw, and it was in the bathroom, so it wasn't all bad.

In the AM, we slogged into a Bob Evan's and ate some good old food for breakfast. I realized, once again, why we never go out for breakfast. Crab Girl eats about 438,625 pieces of french toast. At home this isn't too prices (just ~20,000 loaves of bread), while at a restaurant, it is about $2/piece, which ends up being a fair bit. And it doesn't come with eggs, so you have to order that extra. And juice costs $5/ounce. So, a breakfast that would have cost you about $5-$10 at home costs about $35-$40 at Bob's. Oh well. After we left, I vowed to get a hot plate, a skillet and some pancake mix.

Am I a bitter old man or what?

We decided to take the shorter, yet more scenic route to Aunt Crabby #4's house. This meant traveling through the mountains on a two-lane road. It must have been the breakfast, because I almost hurled. Up and down and round and round. I was even driving. It seems like the mountains in Colorado were up and up and up and then down and down and down. These were up and down and up and down and up and down and ... Ralph. Oh sorry.

We arrived at Aunt Crabby's house where we had a doggy love fest - four dogs in < 1000 square feet. It was all dog, all the time. It is funny, because I remember one of Aunt Crabby's dogs being very big, but compared to Lilly, he was tiny. Lilly is now a gigantic moron dog (not just a little moron dog!)

Aunt Crabby put us all to work on little gifts for all of the attendees of the wedding. They were very well thought out and nice gifts. She spent a lot of time and energy making things that she thought people would really like. So, we helped finish some stuff up and put bows and stuff and other things.

The next day we got to do more running around and going to rehearsals and going to rehearsal party and such. Fun times. I really wasn't involved at all, but Crab Mama was the Maid of Honor, while Crab Girl was the Junior Maid of Honor, and Crab Boy was a flower boy or something (he got to throw flowers while looking embarrassed). We met up with Grandpa and Grandma (divorced, one remarried, the other bitter... awkward!) at the party, and hung out for a while.

It was quite humorous, since people put a movie on for the kids to watch, and after about 30 minutes, the groom and the best man made their way over to the couch and sat and watched the movie, while the rest of the people talked. It was at the groom's house, and 75% of the people their were his family. I should have been the one on the couch! I have no relationship with these people at all (well, ok, I married in the deranged family, but you get the point) and HE is the one sitting there watching the stupid kid's movie, while I talk up the wife's father. Grrrr....

The next day was the wedding, which didn't start until 6:30. So, we had the day to kill. I took the kids to see "Night at the Museum 2" (sucks monkey balls). And arrived back to a freaked out bride. I am not really sure why she was freaked out, but, after a little bit, she calmed down and she and Crab Mama packed up and left for the wedding place. I took Crab Girl to the store to print some pictures for Crab Auntie, while Crab Boy stayed with Grandma. We ended up getting prints and then going to Bed, Bath and Beyond, since I realized that we hadn't actually bought them a present yet (oops!) Then, it was off to the wedding!

It was a very small wedding. I actually felt much better about our wedding, since we had a ton of friends there, while Crab Aunt didn't have many friends there at all. Considering that it was he second wedding and she is about 10 years older than we were when we got married, maybe it is to be expected. The reception was fun. We danced a fair bit. I know that there is some crazy video of me dancing to Come On Eileen, which was the fastest/most modern song the DJ played. Since I now have tenure, I don't have to worry about these types of things anymore (right?)

We drove home on Monday. It was a very nice day for driving. I drove like a bat out of Hades through V, WV, and P. As soon as we got into O, Crab Mama took over and there were Police Officers EVERYWHERE. We didn't see any until this time, but once she took over, they were spaced about every 10 miles on the interstate. She drives much ... better ... than I do, so there was nothing to worry about.

Never, ever, get a burrito from anyplace associated with Hardee's.

It took us about 10 hours to finally make it home. Home Sweet Home.

My next trip is in three weeks. I don't know whether to be happy that I have three weeks, or to be frustrated that I only have three weeks.

Bed time!