Archive for the 'Personal' Category


It’s working

For several years, Minnesota required that vehicles pass an emissions test before they could be licensed. It was a simple enough process for most of us, but I know it irked many. They grumbled about the small fee and the trouble of having to drive to a testing station. But the air got cleaner.

When Jesse Ventura was governor, he lifted the requirement.

Why? Because it had worked. The air was cleaner, he argued, so the emissions testing program has done its job. Now we can stop testing.

Uh, yeah. Right. Not the conclusion I had reached. I would rather say that the program was working rather than that it had worked, and so we should have kept it going. But it was a popular decision, and now we can just go on polluting. Yay for us.

My four year old has had a cough for several weeks. A persistent, non-productive cough that sometimes interferes with his sleep. He never coughs when we bring him to the doctor, of course, so they can’t verify or attempt a decent diagnosis. As an experiment, we’re trying a non-dairy diet. Within a day after starting, his cough had stopped. It’s been several days now, and he hasn’t coughed once.

The first day, he said to us, “See? It worked. I’m not coughing. May I please have some milk now?”

It’s working, kiddo, let’s stick with it awhile longer.

He understood.

Books, Personal

What I’m Reading

One of the things I liked most about being a student was all the required reading. I usually picked my classes based largely on their reading lists. But it’s not like I have any shortage even when I’m not in school. This is what’s in my reading queue right now, keeping me busy:

  • Tutorial and spec for Scala. At this point, this is mostly so I can work with the lift framework, but I am very interested in Scala, too, as a language.
  • I’ll be reading the Erlang book shortly after it’s published in July.
  • Java Concurrency in Practice. I’m almost afraid to dive into this in much detail, but I really do need to understand concurrency better. With multi-core machines becoming the norm, concurrency is going to be important. This is half of why I want to learn Erlang and most of what still interests me in Java. First, though, I need to review the relevant sections in Thinking in Java.
  • Java Generics and Collections. Because it’s just incumbent on me to understand these as well as I can. The book has come highly recommended.
  • Kiara‘s book. She’s made changes to the manuscript and I need to get caught up.
  • The Myths of Innovation, Scott Berkun‘s latest book. I very much enjoyed his book on project management so this was pretty much a no-brainer.
  • The Ruby Way. I certainly need to know Ruby better
  • Several papers from Burton Group, mostly around the topics of software development methodologies and digital identity.
  • Security Metrics. Gunnar recommended this, and I figure: hey, security? Metrics? I’m on board.
  • Cross-Site Scripting Attacks, a long-awaited book from the likes of Jeremiah Grossman and RSnake.
  • Speaking of Faith. I love the radio show and have been looking forward to the book. I’m listenting to this on CD, which you might think I’m doing because I like Krista Tippett’s voice, but the real reason is that the printed book wasn’t available at the library.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy on global climate change.
  • Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near. Al Essa‘s been bringing this one up a lot lately and I thought it was about time I read it.
  • Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series. Have I mentioned before that I’m a sucker for pre-teen fiction? No? Oh. I think it’s because I never read it when I was a pre-teen.


Another scene from my life with Owen and his Dinos

“The deinonychus is coordinated. That means it’s attached to a cord.”

Our boy does like the dinosaurs. And puns, apparently.


Why I Smell Like Fennel

(another scene from my life with Kiara)

We use unscented laundry detergent. We have a baby, after all, and perfumes and dyes aren’t good for his delicate skin. They’re not very good for our skin, either, so we favor unscented detergent. But the stuff we’re using now smells bad. I don’t mean “my jeans don’t have that fresh aroma of spring clouds that makes me dream of diving into a mountain stream.” No, I mean “something died.”

Fed up with this, Kiara grabbed a bottle of essential oil and ran downstairs to mix some into our laundry soap. Only after she started a new load did she look to see which bottle she had chosen.


Yes, we have a bottle of essential oil of fennel. And yes, now most of my clothes smell vaguely like something drowned in a tub of black licorice.


Another scene from my life with Owen

I told Owen today that a musician named James Brown had died. He sat quietly for a moment, then came over to give me a hug.

“His music is still alive, Papa.”


Another scene from my life with Kiara

Me: People keep talking about how cool it is that Mac laptops wake immediately from sleep, and I never understood the big deal. I mean, our older Macs have done that forever. But after having just waited a minute and a half for my brand-new Windows laptop to wake up, now I get it.

Her: It’s because PCs are such big boozers.

Personal, Uncategorized

Storm in Seattle

Show you how up on things I am. Seattle got pounded by a hell of a wind storm last week and is just now getting power back. Uh, Chris? Check in.

Blogging, Personal

More or less just to move the cats below the fold

I got a sales call last week, and since the email address that the salesperson had for me was an one, they checked the site before calling me. “I liked the story about the cat,” she said. “Cute.”

Oh god. One of the few times I fall into the cliché cat entries, and that’s what gets noticed.

It gets worse. At the Minnesota Government IT Symposium this past week, the wiki that I set up for the MnSCU Webmasters was highlighted in a presentation on “Learning 2.0,” along with my blog. Traffic from state IPs picked up noticeably. What have these new seen? My cat.
Truth be told, I’m neither embarrassed nor apologetic. I just think it’s funny.


Chocolate Crinkle Cookie Mistake

I got it in my head to make chocolate crinkle cookies with Owen this week. In a hurry, I just grabbed a recipe from the first hit on Google. Big mistake. That is a recipe created by someone who apparently feels that neither chocolate nor crinkles are important characteristics of a cookie that has both those words in its name.

The lesson? I should have just taken the time to call my mom and ask for her recipe. Calling mom? Hardly ever a mistake. Trusting random recipes off the web? So far, pretty much always the wrong move.


He loves that boy!

We have two cats, Niki and Takeshi. When our first son was born, Takeshi was indifferent. “What,” he seemed to be thinking, “is this lump in the way of my lap?” And he would sit in my lap anyway, baby or no baby. Niki, on the other hand, freaked out. For weeks he kept at least ten feet away, staring wide-eyed at this new, screaming, thing. As Owen got older and more interested in yanking cat tails, Takeshi casually stayed out of his way, while Niki kept letting himself get cornered so we’d have to intervene. He still feels ill-at-ease around Owen.

With Alec, our second son, Takeshi’s response has been pretty much the same casual indifference. Niki’s different this time, though. Niki still lets himself get cornered, but from day one has been very tolerant of the boy, letting Alec pet him in that way only a ten month old can get away with, even affectionately snuggling up next to him to sleep.

Sitting in the living room with Alec the other day, Kiara heard Niki jump off the kitchen counter. “Oh great,” she thought, “he got a cracker.” Niki is nuts for crackers. Thiry seconds later she heard him jump down again and went to investigate. She opened the door between the rooms, which had been open a crack. Sure enough, there he was on the kitchen floor, eating a cracker. Then she turned and saw Alec happily eating the cracker that Niki had brought to the door and pushed through to him before going back to get one for himself.

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