It could be worse, though. My family received something in the neighborhood of 8-10 inches. I'll take this "already melted off" version over that.
Potstickers version 2.0 (in contrast to the beta that I made inedible with a liberal application of red pepper) looked much prettier. I'm finally figuring out how to fold them correctly without tearing them. Unfortunately, the social stigma against tofu is alive and well amongst certain of my friends, so I have a large quantity of tofu dumplings for my supper this week. This segued into an amusing little tete-a-tete with Cris over whether pork (his preferred dumpling base) is red meat or white meat (we agreed to disagree) and concluded with me deciding to try chicken next time.
Finally, I should be touched that Alec chose me, out of her available options, to sit with her in the bathroom and hold the bucket while her parents cleaned the results of her unplanned stomach voiding from her bed last night. We had a nice little sleepy/queasy/giggling conversation about how everyone gets sick now and then. Kyle slept like a rock through the entire thing.
Provided for your enjoyment, my first real experiment with the new 17-40L lens. I'm not that impressed with the photo results (the twins of course were as impressive as usual). Either I'm really out of practice or even an L-class lens doesn't make me a good photographer.
Inspired by this site, my own take on chocolate arachnids: chocolate mini-cakes with pureed cherry filling (the "guts"), coated in hard chocolate and adorned with Pocky legs (32 pieces of Pocky individually cut and reglued at an angle), then decorated with eyes (and, for Lane's, fangs and a black widow decoration).
They only took two hours (partly because they have a lot of parts, and partly because I ruined an entire pan of melted chocolate and had to start the coating process over again).
The twins were thrilled (although Alec quizzed me very closely to make sure there weren't any *actual* spider parts in it). Lane about died in delight.
Shortly after that, Kyle thanked me by accidentally clocking me with a toy, leaving a hideous bruise the size of a 50-cent-piece in the middle of my forehead that everyone seems to find funny.
I introduced the twins to Skype earlier this week. They were a little unsure at first, but with Lane's help they got the hang of it. Alec in particular was fascinated and spent a good ten minutes making faces at me (while I made faces back). Kyle thought it was great for awhile, but then, in Kylie-fashion, got distracted by other shiny things in Lane's room.
That reminds me that I need to load Skype on Haley's MacBook.
I'm babysitting all this week, much to the delight of certain almost-three-year-olds (and possibly an approaching-thirteen-year-old, even if she feigns annoyance when I set up "booby traps" on her iMac . . .). We've been "benturing" ("adventuring" in Alec-speak), worked on counting to 10, played numerous games of hide-and-seek and watched blackbirds and bunnies in the backyard (yay for alliteration). Amidst such a carnival of activity, Lane and I have discussed American pre-WWII isolationist policies, talked about installing BootCamp on her Mac and started watching the "Indiana Jones" trilogy in anticipation of the upcoming fourth movie.
The most memorable part so far came when the twins and I were watching "The Land Before Time" and Kyle was talking about a character that's some sort of purple fish. I asked her if it was a dolphin and she said "No, it's not a dolphin." I asked her if it was a shark and she said "No, it's not a shark." I asked her if it was an icthyosaurus. She looked at me in a very puzzled way and then sternly pronounced "That's not a sticky horse! That's Mo."
- If you let a toddler crawl on her hands and knees on the pavement in new shoes, it scrapes the leather off the toes (which makes parental units somewhat unhappy).
- Twins can become addicted to turning over stones in the backyard once they learn to spot the centipedes and earthworms.
- "Lane's Cheerios" is colorful two-year-old language for "Count Chocula." Offering them regular Cheerios will earn protests. And oddly, Alec picks the marshmallows out and gives them away (those are the best part . . .).
- No matter how much your nose itches while you're shaving, don't scratch it with the electric razor . . .
Posted at 11:22:00 AM. |
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Sunday, March 30
Things I learned this weekend:
- "If you play in Wal-mart, you don't stay in Wal-mart!" (Instructions from an irate Wal-mart manager to a pair of obnoxious high school boys bouncing balls in the aisles, leading Meghan and me to wonder if there are additional corporate-taught rhymes for other infractions.)
- The common adage that hoses should be disconnected from outside faucets before freezing weather should be taken seriously. If you don't, when you go to fill up your bird bath for the first time in spring the puzzled furrow on your face at the hose's lack of pressure will resolve to a bitter "well, that was stupid on my part" irritation at the water flooding your basement floor. I do so love water in my basement. I have rough instructions from my father regarding the necessary repairs, but plumbing really isn't my specialty so I may be filling up the bird bath by hand until the next time he visits.
- Thrift stores are nifty repositories of photographic props. And apparently the final hiding places of large quantities of Barry Manilow and Kenny Rogers vinyl records.
- Alec was attached to me today to the point of insisting on sitting on my lap through dinner, which made eating rather challenging. Kyle is showing fine mimicry and rhythm skills by singing songs from her kids' shows after hearing only the first few words.
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Thursday, February 21
This and That
-The lunar eclipse last night was pretty spectacular. Too bad it coincided with a typical Nebraska night in February. I tried taking some pictures out a window in my house, but I'm afraid the warm air escaping into the freezing dark may not have been the best photographic situation (they're still on the camera; no need to look for the missing link in this paragraph).
-This week's Tales of the Twins(tm): *Scott takes away Kylie's water cup* Kylie: "Why the hell did you do that? I not making a mess." There's something about two-year-olds swearing that's inherently wrong and yet engenders laughter all the same.
-"Dexter" is a fabulous show. I might have more to say about it later. If I can come up with a passable way of drawing parallels between my psyche and the main character's without giving off the creepy "wow, he might be a serial killer" vibe.
Although the frustration I experienced attempting to photograph the twins in a "professional setting" on Sunday probably doesn't bode well for my future as a photographer of any sort, I did manage to Photoshop a handful of them into something presentable to friends.
Posted at 11:21:00 PM. |
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Monday, November 19
A humble offering in penance of a lax posting schedule.
I've been finishing the exterior trim painting on my house in small snippets, weather permitting, over the last several days. All that remains is the back of the house (the gutter and downspouts and three windows), which can ride until spring at this point (the other three sides color-coordinate). I'll have pictures of the various house upgrades sooner or later.
Saturday was spent with my surrogate family, and contained such interesting highlights as the trip to the pet store so Lane could finish her research on budgies (her upcoming pet) and an hour of playing in the dark with the surplus Halloween glowsticks I bought a few weeks ago (the twins enjoyed those immensely). Of more particular note:
- Kylie's fascination with oranges led her to actually take a bite out of a whole one, a bite consisting in its entirety of the rind. Despite clearly finding the taste unpalatable, she refused to spit it out simply out of stubbornness (giving me a mischievous smile instead as she shook her head when I held my hand out under her mouth). As I was proceeding to peel and cut the orange (and bundle her into her high chair), I was vaguely aware of Alec behind me in the kitchen, but it wasn't until I heard the crunching sounds that I realized she had pushed a chair from the computer room into the kitchen to give her access to the counter, from which vantage point she had delved into the cupboard and was gorging on parmesan and garlic potato chips. My first admonition (issued while still cutting up the orange) was met with no reaction, but when she realized I was washing my hands to come get her she began frantically gorging herself on the chips. When I finally arrived on the scene and relieved her of the bag, she gave me a guilt-free giant smile and said "Nummy chips!", as though she'd "accidentally" discovered them and had no idea I was chastising her. She's going to be a handful.
- I discovered a gap in my training program when I referred to Alec as "the little MacGyver" (for her ingenuity at reaching the cupboard) and the following conversation occurred:
Lane: Who is MacGyver? Me: Alec. Lane: Yes, but why did you call her that? Me: Because she figured out how to get into the cupboard. Lane: How does that make her a MacGyver? Me: . . . Me: You don't know who MacGyver is? Lane: . . . Me: The guy who makes plastic explosives out of chewing gum and old socks? Lane: What? Me: Wow, that's something we're going to have to correct.
Sunday found Meghan and me at the Orpheum, enjoying the Cirque-Works Birdhouse Factory, a curious (but fantastic) blend of storytelling (without words), machinery, contortionism, acrobatics and juggling. It was an excellent turnout to an excellent show.
Halloween was enjoyed in fine fashion at Lane's house this year, starting with a visit to Vala's Pumpkin Patch. There, amidst the throngs of revelers, we roasted hot dogs (and, in Lane's case, intentionally charred a handful of marshmallows), rode the ponies, took a hayrack ride, picked out pumpkins and explored the animatronic storybook displays. The twins bonded with the petting zoo animals, and Lane spent some time with the llamas. Vala's sold handfuls of food for the animals (small green pellets that may well have been Soylent Green) in vending machines (a quarter gets you a scant handful, so I'm sure they're making a profit there), although endless streams of toddlers had already dropped so many of the pellets on the ground near the pens that buying them seemed almost pointless (I kept a near-continuous pile in my hand for the twins to plunder just by mining the ground in front of me).
Halloween itself led to quite the haul at the household, with a mountainous pile of simple sugars in colorful wrappers festooning the table under Lane's watchful eye. The twins were more interested in the trick-or-treat bags themselves, although they earned their own stashes in their skeleton costumes (stashes they're not going to get to keep, but they're still in the out-of-sight, out-of-mind stage so they're not likely to notice). The highlight of the evening came near the twins' bedtime, when a straggling group of late trick-or-treaters came to the door, one in an especially scary mask. Kylie was unconcerned, but Alec took off like a shot, wailing as she ran into the kitchen, insisted on being picked up, then insisted on being put back *down* on the other side of the baby gate that separates the kitchen from the family room, then ran to the far corner of the family room (the most distant point in the house from the front door, indicating that her spatial geometry skills function perfectly well when she's terrified), pushed an end table away from the wall and cowered behind it. She refused to come out (even when I offered to hold her), until I built her a "cave" by putting a blanket over the space between the couch and a lounger. She sprinted from the corner to the cave and sat on my lap for the next fifteen minutes, whimpering. It took Lisa to coax her out, under protest.
This led to the following observation I made to Scott: "Now we know which of your kids is going to survive the zombie apocalypse. Lane: 'Whoa, a zombie! Cool!' *bite* Kylie: 'Hi, zombie!' *bite* Alec: 'Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!' *running until she's in the next county'"
(For those concerned, Alec was perfectly fine the next morning.)
Although the term "weekend" is at times vague, encompassing, on those rare, happy occasions, as many as three days (and not always those beginning with an "S"), I'm using it in a looser context here, referring to a time period stretching closer to five days. It seems an overabundance of accrued leave is a bad thing in the modern work world, and thus my house received (and will continue to receive in sporadic chunks throughout this month) extra attention beginning last Wednesday.
I'm continually amused at my vast underestimation of the time investments required for projects I've never undertaken before. I accomplished but a fraction of what I had expected, leading me to believe that either my expectations are unrealistic or I'm simply lazy. I did, however, sand, prime and repaint my garage door, put a layer of fibered aluminum roof coating on the garage roof (which has still not completely fixed the target leak, to my consternation), reorganize a few of my kitchen cupboards and paint the registers and socket covers on the main floor. I took some time out to fraternize to greater and lesser extents, meeting one new person, consoling another friend through a difficult time and going on safari with the twins. I also rented "1408," which was not nearly as scary as promised. I will at some undisclosed point in the future have "before and after" photos of the house, preferably when I've accomplished enough for the changes to be more noticeable.
For those who follow the adventurous exploits of the Wonder Twins, Kyle's new catchphrase is a very gravity-laden rendition of "it's very dark!", applied on a regular basis to everything from the space beneath her crib to holes in the backyard to the inside of the "cave" we made from blankets and furniture. The admonition is given more as a statement of fact rather than any hint of concern, and is at times accompanied with a smile. The twins have also developed a love affair with sidewalk chalk, going so far as to carry it around the backyard even when no concrete is in sight, and Alec in particular has a similar crush now on crayons, which she has secreted away all over the house to challenge the inevitable moments when Lisa relieves her of her current implements.
Lane's family interaction has been somewhat curtailed by her constant hyperventilation over the distant-yet-concrete release of Spore.
As a token of humor to reward those of you who slog through my writings, I also present a (very) rare glimpse of me with facial hair (of a sort; that's almost a week's worth of not shaving, which on most men would be something more than stubble . . .).
Amidst their other language acquisitions, the twins have honed the art of addressing individual people by name (although Kyle, when faced with new and unknown people, defaults to the generic "boy," as in "Hi, boy."). Interestingly enough, Alec has started using nicknames of her own design. She consistently refers to Kyle as "Gigi" (a derivation of "Jean," from "Kyle Jean"). To Lane's mixed amusement and annoyance, Alec has started calling her "Ree" (for reasons completely unknown, since that name doesn't resemble any part of Lane's real name or nicknames). I've decided to go with "Ree" as well, which would likely induce an outburst on Lane's part except I'm providing her with Doctor Who episodes, so she has to grit her teeth and be nice to me. ;)
As a cute side note, Alec sat on my lap at Lisa's dining room table for 10 minutes on Sunday while we each read our own section of the paper, one of us whistling a random song and the other humming along (I'll let you guess which one was which).
Any sort of whining or implied discontent with my lot in life cowers in humbleness at Lisa's week, which, in one day alone, involved a brand-new-yet-broken refrigerator Sears is adamantly refusing to fix on a technicality, an auto accident with an uninsured driver and an overflowed toilet. Bad things come in threes, right?
Saturday my friend Elizabeth and I attended Film Streams, Omaha's valiant attempt at a non-profit art-style theater (showing independent and artistic films), where we saw "Lady Chatterley." The film was good, although the eventual shifting of the audience leads me to believe I was not the only observer who felt 3 hours was probably too long for a movie with a single plot line.
Sunday the twins and I explored the backyard, where Kylie delighted herself with chastising the birds for not taking their baths as she splashed in the bird bath. Later, while exposing Lane to a variety of musical samples on iTunes, we discovered that Alec has a marked preference for techno (she literally had no reaction to top 40 or Weird Al, but started bouncing in my lap and swinging her arms on both of the techno songs I played). As a foreshadow, Alec has also learned to ask "Go shopping? Pweeze?" after Lisa took her on a quick shopping trip to a bookstore.
I've begun rewatching my Sports Night DVDs as a "comfort food" of sorts the last few nights. On the surface it would seem perhaps ironic that someone with such an antipathy for organized sports in general would enjoy a show called "Sports Night," but anyone who has seen the show will agree with the show's one-time tagline "It's about sports the same way Charlie's Angels was about law enforcement."
Lane and I saw Transformers today, which, I'm happy to say for the sake of my childhood memories, was good (although John Turturro's character was annoying as hell, and it amuses me that this is the current primary picture for the movie on IMDB). I have a box of Transformers somewhere in my basement, kept carefully from the 80s, so I have some passing familiarity with the concept, if not quite the same vested interest as die hard fans; thus, I got most of the inside jokes inserted in the movie that the majority of the audience missed, and I was also happy to hear (not see, mind you) that they hired the guy who did the voice of the leader of the good Transformers in the 80s cartoon to do the voice of the same character in this movie (it's a *very* distinctive voice, and for fans it feels familiar). The ending, of course, set up a sequel, and I imagine it did well enough to warrant one. Lane enjoyed it as well, although she rolled her eyes nearly hard enough to fall over when I pointed out the poster for the fetid stain upon entertainment that is the upcoming Bratz movie.
The twins are developing language at a rapid rate. Kyle in particular is now regularly stringing words together into short-but-complete sentences. "I'm so tall!" when riding on my shoulders, "I'll be okay!" after a choking on a mouthful of pool water, "I say more!" when she wants me to swing her around in the air again, "Where did Alec go?" and, my personal favorite, "Come on, Jay. Let's go swing!" Alec is almost constantly pointing at things and saying "What's that?" and then mimicking the response.
The twins have also shown a notable divergence in their manipulation tactics. Kyle has chosen the "brute force" route, employing crying, screaming and insistence to achieve her goals. Alec, on the other hand, in displays of almost eerie effectiveness for a two-year-old, has already adopted pouting and puppy-dog-eyes (and she's damn good at it). We're talking sighing, burying her head in your shoulder and just sitting there looking sad for *10 minutes* without even the hint of a smile. Of course she snaps right out of it when she gets what she wants, or a suitable alternative, but I fear Scott and Lisa are going to have their hands full.
The only other note of the weekend concerns an interesting discovery at my homestead. I suppose I was bound to be subject to the random act of theft eventually (I've lived here 8 years, after all, and it's pretty much impossible to completely burglar-proof everything). I realize I'm supposed to feel victimized and outraged by the personal intrusion. I find myself oddly amused and confounded instead, though, as the stolen property in question wasn't my new $100 fire pit or $50 patio chairs or $25 copper torches. No, it was a set of cheap, black plastic solar-powered sidewalk lights I bought for $20 two years ago from Wal-Mart (lights that have seen far better days). Which were right next to the copper torches (two of the lights were within two feet of the torches). And it wasn't all eight lights, but rather 5-1/2 (they left the base of one and two other complete ones). It seems like the oddest thing to steal, unless you're specifically out looking for a set of sidewalk lights (and even then, there are *much* nicer lights along my block). I suppose if you're going to be robbed, that's the best way to do it . . .
To add to the last post, I present a roughly hewn and unpolished video of the festivities (including Alec's infamous mispronunciation of "Rich"), as well as the product of 160 photos and two hours of boredom.
Posted at 11:22:00 PM. |
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Tuesday, April 3
Spring *Almost* Sprang
But now it's cold again. Silly winter.
Before that, however, we had a nice weekend. Except for Saturday, which rained me out of working on my yard, so I spent 5 hours at work preparing a report that's due tomorrow. There's excitement for you.
Linde, for those curious, is doing well. She sent me a picture yesterday I affectionately dubbed the "Night of the Living Dead" photo. She sent me one today that's *much* better (just a faint red line on her face). :)
Posted at 11:34:00 PM. |
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Thursday, February 15
What's in a Name?
Something short of two years ago Lisa entrusted in me the sacred duty of finding middle names for the twins. Then, despite a veritable consortium of supporters (including all of her other family members, led by an extremely enthusiastic Lane), she balked at my choices, deeming "Alec Anakin" and "Kyle Kenobi" unsuitable even in the face of their obvious worth.
So I've come up with new ones. I probably won't garner the same level of support, given their relative obscurity in comparison to the celebrated Jedi, but I'm officially proposing "Kyle Cthulhu" and "Alec Azathoth." Given the so-called "Terrible Twos" are fast approaching, they seem appropriate.
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Tuesday, February 13
Assorted photographic and video evidence will attest to the twins' opinion of the new digs (and that roller coaster is pretty damned cool). I'm also told that the twins have started asking when I'm coming back (in suitable one-syllable sentences), which is very cute.
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Sunday, January 28
I spent most of the weekend with Lane and the twins. Lane is adoring the new iMac (which is essentially her own tv in her bedroom, although, alas, after the move it will be in the study/library/computer room instead). I was the big hero of the weekend due to my procurement of Blue's Clues plushies; the twins ask for that show by name, or some approximation thereof missing the "L" sounds, so it seemed appropriate. They carried the plushies around both days I was there, so I'd say they were warmly accepted.
I nearly filled up my memory card with video. After editing and compressing, I narrowed it down to a select few. The "large" and "small" ones are the same video; select your size based on your bandwidth and patience. The Blue's Clues video is the grand unveiling of the plushies (and I'm even in it, *gasp*). The Happy Dance shows off Kyle's enthusiasm. Lane and the Twins is touching (although I'm sure Lane will give me the Eyes of Death(tm) the next time she sees me). The next one documents Kyle's new love affair with the orange (she'll eat two whole ones by herself if you let her). Finally, the last one showcases Kyle's new favorite phrase. Technically it's her first multi-word complete sentence, but I'm pretty sure she thinks "wherediditgo?" is all one word so I'm not sure it counts. But it's still very cute. :)
We also have a preview of an upcoming episode of "Blue's Clues" (entitled "Blue finds the third clue and discovers the Necronomicon buried in the backyard . . ."). "Blue's Clues" is Kyle's new favorite show (she'll look longingly at the tv and say "Coos coos?"), so I bought the twins some plushies from the show. Lisa vetoed giving them a plush Cthulhu or Nyarlathotep. (The shoggoths are kind of cute, though. Maybe I can sneak one of those in.)
This is one of the chairs that has been sitting outside my office for the last week (a candidate for replacement chairs for the secretaries, I think). I've never seen a chair that reminds me of lingerie before.
And finally, courtesy of Lane, proof that America is destined to fall from its superpower status. In the words of Lane, Oh. My. God.
I also compiled a video of the twins from last weekend. (If you have a high-speed connection and feel like waiting, you can download the higher-res version, but be warned it's 30mb.) If you watch all the way to the end you get to see Kyle's happy dance.
Lisa had me splash together some separate photos into a single entity for her Christmas cards (because, really, convincing Nick and two toddlers to cooperate for a picture is just slightly less difficult than licking your elbow). Despite portraying what many people would find to be an accurate representation of the mixture of emotions prevalent in the season, she passed on this picture and instead chose this one.
Posted at 11:19:00 AM. |
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Tuesday, December 12
Hazy Shade of Winter
We had enough fog last night for one-block-or-less visibility. It was very cool, in the "I can't see the stoplight; what color is it?" kind of way.
My family's Christmas presents still haven't shipped. I've been advised to have a backup plan, which I do. "Congratulations, you're all getting a second Christmas at Haley's graduation in May."
I have all of my other Christmas shopping done except for Lane (because someone bought her the book I was going to buy her . . . *grumble*). Maybe I'll get her a shirt that says "Wake me up when Spore(tm) is released." We've been having an ongoing dialogue about the proper term of reference to describe the two of us. She prefers the appellation "nerd," while I'm more inclined toward "geek." Given our respective family histories of stubbornness, it's not likely to end anytime soon.
My mom had her first non-sedated MRI last week (an accomplishment for someone with severe claustrophobia). She's had some back problems, but apparently they're going with physical therapy and over-the-counter pain medication for now.
Alec's new favorite word is "apple" (because she likes these little freeze-dried apple pieces Lisa buys). Kyle's new favorite word is "tickle," which she employs liberally when she actually tickles Alec.
Caring, responsible uncles provide their charges with toys that incorporate the wonders of science, ya know. Although I suppose the twins have to develop language beyond "shoes" and "puppy" before I can explain how ionizing a low-pressure gas creates plasma.
She Flies Through the Air With the Greatest of Ease
Alec has learned a new trick; needless to say, greater diligence must now be employed. Her demonstrable lack of acrophobia will, in due time, lead to rock climbing and rappelling outings, but for now the trick is to keep her in one piece.
While the origin of the phrase in the title has apparently been lost to time, I'm going to use it anyway. I also have some relatively large videos of the twins walking which will probably be of little interest to those who haven't actually met them.
Posted at 11:29:00 PM. |
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Sunday, August 27
The Starting Gun
Alec started walking a few days ago. She's quite excited about it. She's also found amusement in pushing Kyle around on a push toy (although neither of them steers, so quite often it's just Alec pushing Kyle into a table or something).
Pictures here (some of them even have me in them).
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Monday, August 14
Otherwise known as the "blah, I don't feel like writing an entire entry one one point so I'm going to scatter topics in front of me like M&Ms and let people pick the colors they like" mentality.
I took the twins to the zoo on Friday. Kyle loved the diving penguins. Alec loved the glowing jellyfish. Surprisingly, they both liked the Kingdoms of the Night. Then I babysat them the rest of the evening (the three of us sat on the couch and compared belly buttons).
Marcy and I returned to the zoo on Saturday. Wall to wall people. Go on weekdays, people.
"V for Vendetta" was fabulous. Delicious dialog and excellent social commentary. And Hugo Weaving is incredible, even if he does wear a mask for the entire movie. "Lord of War," on the other hand, was just sad.
A little over a year ago the World-Herald wrote an editorial about people moving back to rural areas; I wrote a counter-argument about the World-Herald being incredibly naive about the topic. A new article yesterday with the latest census results lends support to my position (as much as I'd like to see it go the other way).
Joseph Lieberman pulled the "if you vote for him, you vote for terrorism" sucker punch after he lost the primary election in his home state a few days ago. Normally I'd be loathe to use the harsh phrase "sore loser," but given such anti-democratic comments as "I cannot and will not let that result stand" (which basically translates as "The people of my state aren't competent enough to know they were supposed to vote for me," which I would think qualifies as an insult), I think such a phrase is warranted. You lost in a fair election, man. The people spoke. Move on. Trying to scare people with claims that terrorists are celebrating your loss is just petty.
I had to buy and download the newest version of Norton Internet Security because Norton quit supporting my previous version. Upon installation, it claimed to be incompatible with Spybot (one of the more popular spyware removers) and demanded I uninstall it before continuing the installation. Curious, I did a search on it. Turns out Symantec (the company that makes the Norton suite) is doing it intentionally, probably because Spybot is freeware and is cutting into its profits. That lowers my opinion of Symantec considerably. (Incidentally, there is no conflict. It's a false-positive.)
They're designating me the "administrative knowledge portal contact" or somesuch at work. I'm not entirely sure what it means yet, but I think it means I'll be in charge of badgering the office managers into updating their sections of the firm intranet on a regular basis. That should be interesting.
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Sunday, August 6
They Call It "Babysitting"; I Call It "Fun"
I spent most of Friday playing with the twins, keeping an eye on Nick and talking about Flash programming and the Matrix with Lane. Lisa calls it "babysitting" and thinks I should be compensated in some form. I call it a "mental health day." The twins took great delight in feeding *me* Cheerios (one at a time), which was just cute as hell. Pictures here (currently the last 11, starting with this one).
Scott and Lisa were kind enough to invite me (they prefer the terminology "pleading for assistance," but that's just silly) to their family BBQ for the Tuesday holiday, where I spent the majority of the day as one-half of the Alec-Jay Velcro Strip(tm). Uber-friendly Kyle loves being passed around from person to person, but Alec is in the "Let's see your ID, pal" phase where she's content as long as people she doesn't know aren't touching her . . . or looking at her . . . or within 100 feet of her . . . (Okay, that last is an exaggeration.) There are about four people on her pre-approved list (basically her parents, her babysitter and me), and attempts to pass her from one of those four to someone not on the list elicits her patented "gecko finger grip" that bonds her to the shirt of the one holding her. By the end of the day she'd warmed up enough that she only gave suspicious looks to the people cooing at her, but it only took one person tickling her tummy to send her into a crying fit that didn't end until I took her around the corner of the house where she couldn't see anyone.
I'm not complaining, of course. It means pretty much unlimited baby-holding time for me. So we watched fireworks out the window and ate the monkeybread I brought for Lane for most of the day while Kyle enjoyed depotting an African violet and all the kids and kidlike-adults had water balloon fights. It was a fun day.
You have to grease a Bundt pan with shortening to get the cake to come out in one piece. So Jamie and Matt got cake #2, while the assorted pieces of cake #1 went to Lane and her family (according to them, "cake is cake").
The twins have started to learn what they should and shouldn't be doing, as evidenced by Lisa's newfound concern whenever the house becomes *too* quiet. One such interlude of silence culminated in this photo. It was bound to happen eventually.
Happy birthday to the twins! Ms. Alec and Ms. Kyle turned one today. A party was held, strawberry shortcake was served and presents were opened. Pictures here (it's the last 20 or so; I'm particularly proud of this one).
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Sunday, May 21
Walking on Sunshine
The twins and I had a fun afternoon on Saturday (Lisa took advantage of the free babysitting to wash windows . . .). The rest of the pictures have been added to the end of this set (I'm particularly fond of this one).
As promised, Easter photos. I was the hero, with an X-Files DVD for Lane and a set of used plastic bunnies from eBay to augment the dwindling supply I bought for Nick 3 years ago (he got 12 originally; I added another 63). The twins and Nick were tickled.
I also put up the video of the twins. The quality is a little low, a result of Canon's insistence on using a file format not supported by Premiere and not the inherent quality of the original video (which is very good). Enjoy.
I took a few hours off from work tonight to watch the moonrise. It was a full moon that peeked its head over the horizon about 3 minutes (I actually checked the sunset and moonrise times online) after the sun set, so for the first 15 minutes or so I had a wonderful pinkish sunset-lit moon while there was still enough ambient light to see the landscape. After twilight, I had to choose between seeing the details on the moon surrounded by blackness or the silvery, featureless disc hanging above the land (there was no happy median). I took some of both, but only the closeups looked acceptable.
I know, I know, everyone is tired of pictures of the moon . . . ;)
After taking photos, I didn't really feel like going back to work, so I stopped by to chat with Lane (and drop off a couple of movies) and play with the twins. Alec was less enthused (as usual), although she's getting over the "wail at the first sight of a stranger" phase. Kyle knows I'm going to pick her up and carry her around while I'm talking to Lane, so she's usually smiley.
Posted at 11:06:00 PM. |
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Sunday, February 26
All Smiles . . . Eventually
Lane went grocery shopping with me this evening (and our consensus is that the Whole Foods market is great, even if I'm still a little dubious on the star fruit). We talked about vampires, Flash programming, the Silmarillion and the general immaturity of 10-year-old boys (and I'm afraid I disappointed her when I informed her that it's a general trend among the entire male population).
The twins hadn't seen me in awhile, and took a little awhile to adjust to me. As in, frantic screaming for about 5 minutes. Alec has a definite dislike of new people; Kyle is more jovial, but tonight she was the one recoiling. They eventually decided I was safe (and thought it would be fun to play with my camera lens).
My camera does okay in low-light, but not as great as I'd like. I knew that was a limitation when I bought it, but it's a pretty common limitation (lower light means a longer shutter speed, which means more movement blur). The image stabilization doesn't help much because it's designed to eliminate blur from *me* moving, not the subject. The continual shooting mode, on the other hand, is slick (2 frames per second for as long as you hold down the button). I took 5 or 6 pictures for each one that turned out and just picked the least blurry one (plus with kids you can get a range of expressions instead of trying to predict when to take the picture).
Alec's not as fond of holding still as Kyle is, so she tends to be a blur in most low-light pictures (hence the disparity). But I also played with my movie mode, and even she doesn't move fast enough yet to escape 30 frames per second. I'm a little annoyed, though, that Canon had to use motion-jpeg instead of mpg for its video compression. That means Premiere won't read it; I'm going to have to find a way to import clips without quality loss (which means an extra step converting it in another program).
As an addition to the babysitting I did on Saturday, I presented, in carefully packaged parcels, my Christmas presents for the kids. Lane got a 250-million-year-old trilobite pendant set in silver that I stalked methodically for a month on eBay. The twins got a plaque for their room. Lisa prohibited me from buying presents for anyone else in her family. :P
The twins have begun learning the joys of solid food. Kyle is taking to it somewhat better than Alec (who has learned how to block the spoon with her tongue). They pretended to like their Christmas present, though (although maybe they've just figured out I'll pick them up and play with them).
If you've ever wanted to have your face on a postage stamp, this is your big chance! Today in the mail I received a present I ordered for Scott and Lisa last week: a sheet of Kyle and Alec postage stamps (yes, they're real stamps). The United States Postal Service has licensed three companies to make custom postage stamps based on users' own photos (with some obvious restrictions; sorry, Jamie, no naked stamps and no celebrities, Cris, so you'll have to pass on Sean Astin stamps). I used Zazzle, since it worked through my Yahoo photo album (and I liked their stamp design best).
Now for the catch. They aren't cheap. Stamps with a face value of 37 cents cost about a dollar each (a sheet of 20 came out to around $22). So you probably won't be paying your bills with them, but they're great for baby thank-yous and birthday/Christmas cards.
I spent Halloween afternoon and evening providing technical support (in the form of costuming adjustment) and management support (in the form of amusing and caring for two five-month-olds) so that "mom and dad" had their hands free for all of the other myriad activities involved in Halloween.
As promised, a picture of Lane the Jedi in all her Force-wielding glory.
Also, a small pictorial on "How To Confuse Five-Month-Old Twins" (subtitled "Have three people simultaneously try to induce them to smile"): 1. "Look, mom is making faces at us. She must like our Halloween pajamas." 2. "Wait, so is Jay." 3. "So is dad. What the hell is wrong with these people? Have they already had too much sugar?"
In the meantime I taught Lane how to play Scrabble. She did well, but she couldn't compete with my piéce de résistance ("quest" on a triple word score). We also tried to figure out why the copy of "Neverwinter Nights" I loaned her keeps crashing (to no avail).
My mother e-mails me to see if I'm still alive if she doesn't see a post for more than three days. I don't really have anything new to add (other than I saw a reply to my Public Pulse comment today that completely missed my point, so I think I'm done submitting things there), so everyone will have to settle for pictures of the twins.
I finally pulled a couple of pictures off of it (just 'cause Cris asked nicely).
I discovered a present next to my car (actually nestled comfortably against a tire as though carefully placed there) when I was leaving one night last week. Is anyone missing a size 4 toddler shoe? Either it fell out of the car next to me or my mom is hinting about grandkids again. ;) I put a notice on the bulletin board, but no one has claimed it yet.
Later I babysat while the rest of the family ventured out to light fireworks. Turns out Kyle likes me. Even if she has hiccups. And even if I put her down to go check on her sister. Alec, on the other hand, doesn't like me. She has some sort of sixth sense that says "Let's start wailing 10 seconds after Lisa leaves." This was about as happy as I could make her.
Alec was sleeping when I visited, but Kyle was awake and entertaining. Big sister is excited that they're staying in her room. She's also excited that she talked her parents into a copy of "Age of Mythology" (she's looking forward to crushing me in online competition . . .).
A summary of the day, presented in balanced counterpose.
I've never had any conflict with UPS before (they've always treated me well, except for the whole "trouble finding their distribution center to pick up a package the night before I left for my parents' for Christmas," which wasn't their fault), but, alas, all good things must come to an end. When I arrived home last night I found a small UPS sticker on my front door, announcing, so I imagined in my rain-fogged brain, that they had attempted a delivery and would return the next day (when I would be home). Unfortunately, what the note actually presented (a message promptly greeted with a cacophony of swearing) was a notation that the package had been left by my side door. The one time in my life UPS didn't require a signature was the one time it rained 4 inches after UPS dropped off the package. So I'm obviously not returning that box. Compounding said disgruntledness with irony is the fact that the box held my new dehumidifier (whose first task was to dehumidify the puddle on my basement floor from its own box).
I chanced across an artist named Imogen Heap on iTunes a couple of nights ago (it's one woman). This is my favorite so far. Enjoy.
I managed to contract a nasty piece of spyware on my computer that I'm still trying to remove. People need more constructive things to do than write malicious code.
The twins are doing well and have middle names (Kyle Jean and Alec Leigh).
Posted at 12:13:00 AM. |
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Tuesday, May 31
I stopped by the hospital today and visited Lisa and the twins. I think I labeled the pictures right, but don't be surprised if Lisa tells me I have them backwards whenever she gets back online (I had the twins straight at one point, but some of the pictures on the camera are out of context).
This, by the way, is the "I may only be a day old, but I'm still really unimpressed with that camera you keep pointing at me" face.
Please congratulate Lane on the arrival early this morning of her twin sisters, Alec and Kyle Chapman. (You can also congratulate Scott and Lisa, if you feel that's appropriate.) :D Pictures coming soon.
(I would also like to point out that the twins do not, at this time, have middle names because Lisa turned that over to me and then balked when I came up with what I think are perfectly sensible middle names. I'm still not certain why she rejected "Alec Anakin" and "Kyle Kenobi." Lane and Cindy were both on board . . . *grumble*)