Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fauna

We have had several exotic animal sightings in our neck of the woods lately. Luckily, I was able to capture some of them on film.

Below is a lizard whom I have named Trevor; he kept me company for a while yesterday while I did yard work. He was a sneaky little guy because he kept disappearing and reappearing.And off in the distance (in the very middle of the photo) are three of the five deer we saw on our jog this morning. They were not as friendly as Trevor, and bounded off before we could get too close.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Exam!

Good luck to Abbie, who is commencing the bar exam today! I'm so proud of how hard she has been studying for the last two months!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tesh

Every evening around 10 p.m., Abbie turns on the radio to entice the cats up onto our bed (for some reason, they are both big radio fans). Whether or not the cats join us, those few minutes of radio are always well-spent, because John Tesh, the notable DJ with over 45,000 followers on Facebook, comes on the air. Tesh's most popular segment is "Intelligence for Your Life." Because both my lovely wife and I are lax in following the latest scientific research and other tidbits that might impact our lives, we tune in eagerly.

Tesh never disappoints. For instance in the last couple of weeks, we have learned:

  • bow ties are coming back in style, but only for the young and hip or the old and hip
  • horseradish can detoxify our livers
  • a "mysterious new condition" called "pine nut syndrome" is sweeping the nation. The insidious effects of this syndrome consist of 1) a metallic taste in one's mouth that is "unbearable" and 2) nothing else. However, be warned, because "pine mouth" is on the rise!
  • Washing up can clean more than hands. It also wipes one's conscience clean. Thorina does not wash her paws after stealing Arwen's food, so I shudder to think what her conscience looks like.
  • Men are so fed up with newfangled shaving razors that they are stockpiling 4 years' worth of blade replacements! Although I shave but rarely, I recently bought a new set of razors just in case my favorite ones become obsolete!
Armed with this knowledge, Abbie, the cats, and I are ready to seize the day and drop off to sleep.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Memory

I recently came across a collection of essays by Ralph Raimi, a curmudgeonly old math professor. They are generally short, and quite interesting. I was glad to read in one of his essays on memorization that he shares one of my values.

While in school, many of my classmates (and even I myself, on occasion), complained about the injustice of memorizing formulas and the like when reference books would be readily available when they were needed. Since that time, I have changed my thinking (perhaps mostly because I realize how ridiculous it would be to have to depend on books so much in my daily working life).

As readers of my erstwhile blog may know, I am a proponent of memorizing children's poetry. I would support other memorizings, such as historical documents or speeches, but poems are my preference.

Here is what Professor Raimi has to say on the subject:

I believe I will call for a campaign to restore memory to the position of respect it had up to about a hundred years ago, when school children memorized orations of Abraham Lincoln, scenes from Shakespeare, The Wreck of the Hesperus and Casey at the Bat, not to mention the procedures of arithmetic. The fact that some teachers drilled children in routines that were not given sense does not mean that drill as such creates a vacuum in the brain. I have known actors who memorized scenes from Shakespeare and also knew what they were about. I have known chemists who knew the size of the dihedral angle in a regular tetrahedron (do you?) and understood organic chemistry too.

There is no harm in knowing things, and much value. Some of the actors who memorized their parts in Shakespeare (I have known them quite well, all my adult life) did not in fact understand much of what they were saying during the first few read-throughs, but would never have got on to their characters if they hadn't first had the words in their minds and ready to their tongues. Why is a technique thousands of years old, and still considered valid in the teaching of music and theater, reviled in school mathematics?
Click here to czech out some of his other essays.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Theft

You may recall that Arwen has not been in tip-top shape as of late. To help her to a speedy recovery, we've acquired some expensive, rejuvenatory cat food. I must say that I don't think it's very delicious, but Arwen sure is eating it with gusto.

Because this food is none too cheap, it is exclusively for Arwen. Thorina, unfortunately, has a problem with sharing, or her sister's lack thereof. I caught her red-pawed trying to break into the stash only five minutes ago. Discipline is quite lax in our house when it comes to the felines, so her only punishment here was for Abbie to say, "Look how smart she is to lift up that lid. Good kitty!!"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Babysitting

Hello, readers!! This is Abbie reporting in again for some special news: this is my 1,000th post! I love my blog and really appreciate all of my faithful followers. My following may be small, but it truly means a lot that you all stop by to read my ramblings. I am planning a funner post about my blog for when I return, and in the meantime, here is David again:

Hello, faithful readers. This past weekend, I had the pleasure to chaperone my two nieces and one nephew. They are generally delightful kids, but I was still a little worried that the evening would proceed like this (click image to enlarge):Luckily, there were no youthful rebellions, although Emma did get a little nervous when I added a non-macaroni type of pasta to the macaroni and cheese.

My greatest triumph of the evening was getting this young lady to sleep at a decent hour.When Sarah and Steve returned home, I was able to proudly proclaim my success. "She has been slumbering deeply for about an hour," I smugly stated. My assertion was punctuated by the pattering of the small feet of the young lady in question, who had evidently decided to make me look the fool.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Birthday, part II

Many thanks to my faithful assistant, Abbie, for her birthday shout-out. I did indeed have a splendid birthday.

In the evening, Abbie and Matt joined me for dinner at Blanc Burgers, where I had a mean bison burger. If you've never had a bison burger before, be prepared for one thing: it tastes a lot like a beef burger.

We polished off the evening with a smorgasbord of cupcakes that Abbie whipped up from the local cupcake shop. They were fabulous.But the biggest birthday surprise was that my sneaky sister and her bevy of children stole silently into our house and stashed another cupcake and birthday note in our microwave! It was a dessert utopia.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, David!

Hey, this is Abbie again. I'm coming out of my hiding place to wish David a happy birthday today!!! For his birthday, I promised him that I would work on his man cave in our house (after the bar), from picking out artwork with him, to letting him pick out the colors, to painting it by myself without his help, to finally getting some furniture down there so we could enjoy the space.

Happy Birthday, Bubs!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All About Arwen

Arwen has been causing some ruckuses around here because of her nocturnal activities. Starting about a week ago, she has decided that 3:17 a.m. is the perfect time to try to punch her way out of our room through the bedroom door. Since this continues until one of us wakes up, I generally stumble out of bed to let her out, but then she is back banging on the door to get in 5 minutes later.However, it is tricky to stay angry with a cat who looks so charming. Also note how she's practicing her camouflage skills in the above picture, blending right into her surroundings.

Arwen has been under the weather for the last three months or so, but we've been trying various remedies to help her shake off the illness, but to no avail. We're taking her to see the doctor this weekend, who will hopefully tell us an easy fix for her ailment. After all, as you can see above, she is suffering quite a bit these days...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Old friend

On Thursday, our old friend Matt returned from a year-long stint in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Abu Dhabi! Abu Dhabi is known for the fact that the average net worth of its citizens is a cool $17 million. Does anybody else think there is no way this can be right? Although I suppose if there are several trillionaires who live there, it could work.

I spent yesterday evening with Matt at a Happy (four) Hour(s), and enjoyed catching up with him. Matt attended college with Abbie and me, and we have been good pals for quite some time, so I am glad for the chance to reunite, albeit for a short time. He'll be attending a running camp in Ethiopia for most of August, and then is heading back to the aforementioned cosmopolitan metropolis for another whole year of teaching!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Round two

As promised, following are a few photos from the fireworks festivities. It certainly seems like a good idea to give three-year-olds firebrands with which to run around...
I think that sparklers are Abbie's favorite piece of fireworks; she gets as excited as Noah to run around with them!Practicing their ninja stealth moves in the smoke bombs. They were both really bad at vanishing into the veil of smoke. Even young Alexandretta did her part to honor the founding fathers.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Party

Our Independence Day was relatively low key, but we did invite my sister and her family over for the holiday bbq. I barbecued my first ever rack of ribs, using Bobby Flay's delicious dry rub recipe, and while I am not as diligent as Abbie with photographing food, they looked kind of like this:After the meal, we shot off a small collection of fireworks, which Sarah's kids really enjoyed (ok, the adults enjoyed them too).

We tried to find the city fireworks nearby to watch a more impressive show, but it started pouring just as we left to drive there. As we were driving around waiting for the rain to stop, some members of the party seemed to run out of steam.

It is always a fun time when we get to hang out with my sister and her family. I am glad that we live so close to each other now!

As I am unable to access the actual photos of our fireworks adventures, you will have to wait until tomorrow to see the footage.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Literature

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is an annual contest wherein contestants try to compose the worst hypothetical opening line to a novel. The most interestingly ludicrous line wins the prize. It's crazy what kind of contests people come up with these days.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the runner-up in the detective fiction category:

As Holmes, who had a nose for danger, quietly fingered the bloody knife and eyed the various body parts strewn along the dark, deserted highway, he placed his ear to the ground and, with his heart in his throat, silently mouthed to his companion, “Arm yourself, Watson, there is an evil hand afoot ahead.
I would definitely continue reading this book.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Cardinals

Two weekends ago, our old college friend Laura came to town for a little Cardinals/Royals showdown. We hung out with her and some other old friends, and it was a great weekend. Unfortunately, we saw the game on Sunday during which the Royals put the smackdown on the Cards. We still got to bbq and hang out with a pre-game tailgate, although it was about 119 degrees outside! I've never tailgated before a Cardinals game in St. Louis, and my recollection is that almost nobody does. This is a big mistake for St. Louisans to make, because the tailgating is often just as fun as the actual game.This was our first Royals game of the season, but hopefully we'll get to see a couple more this year!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day to all readers! On holidays such as this, when we are supposed to be honoring America's history, it is worthwhile to review what actually went down on the July 4 of old. Here is what I think to be the most interesting paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, although the whole document is interesting reading:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Thorina

Three years ago tomorrow, I sat on the couch in our new house, minding my own business. Suddenly, I heard a loud, prolonged yowling coming from down the street. A few minutes later, Abbie's parents arrived with the newest--and most vocal--member of our family.
So four days after our wedding, twelve hours after returning from our honeymoon, Abbie had already managed to get a cat into our house.
Thorina wasn't by herself for long, because Paco joined us in the fall. But she certainly got used to being treated like we were living in ancient Egypt. And Abbie still caters to her every whim, which is why we have pictures like the one below.
We love all of our pets and they all fit well in our family, but Thorina has got extra memories because she was with us when we were first starting out.
Thorina, by the way, is named after Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarf company in The Hobbit. We were first going to get a male cat, but he sadly came to an untimely end, but we (particularly Abbie) like the name so much that we still wanted to use it.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Fun thing Friday

One of my biggest laments in our old house was that we didn't have enough room for a table tennis table. My brothers and I spent most of our evenings playing ping-pong; we even occasionally held family tournaments.I was unable to play much in college, and not at all while we lived in our last house. So one of the first items I wanted to get was a table for the man cave in the basement! If any readers want to visit and play a little table tennis, I will certainly be a willing opponent.

On a slightly related note, I evidently am not the only family member who enjoys the new table.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

This is why desserts don't last long in our house

I made a delicious pan of brownies to celebrate today's event, but did not follow up my cooking with appropriate vigilance. 1.3 seconds after setting the brownies on the stove to cool, I turned around to set down my potholder. During that time, Abbie ghosted behind me and left this scene of destruction in her wake:
The next two hours involved each of us trying to sneak bites while the other wasn't looking, and now all that is left is a slender rim around the outside. Oh well; if they're gone already, perhaps we just need to make another batch tomorrow!