See, this is what happens when two nerds get married and have little boys.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Pics!

Just time for a quick update with Christmas pictures!






And some from a while ago setting up the tree:




Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm an Aunt!

Sonora Walsh was born this morning, at 12:53. She is 20 inches long and weighs 8 pounds, 12 ounces. My Dad says she is "priiiitty". Pictures at a not-awful-hour!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sorry, Macs really ARE more expensive!

Got a lot of visits today on my last post (over 200 today, which is pretty good traffic for this blog). Here's an interesting comment, and my response. I guess I should clarify even more though -- there's a lot you can TRY to quantify about why Macs are "a better value" -- but I'm talking really about price. Pure, easily quantifiable $$$$$$. Sure, your frustration with Vista may equate to money -- but that's hard to quantify. That's value, not price. You can't say that the price for ground beef and steak is "a wash" because steak is so much better. It IS more expensive.

Blad_Rnr said...


I agree with the premise of the article, but you repeatedly say Macs are more expensive. I think you are generally wrong.

When compared to what you get on a Mac (Firewire, the iLife suite, Unix security, no AV software needed to subscribe to, ability to run multiple OSes, etc.) the price is not a representation of what you would typically get on a Windows PC. Yes, when you compare a $1099 MacBook to a $699 Inspiron, it appears more expensive. But if you equip the Dell with what the MacBook has, it is pretty much a wash. Numerous comparisons have been done to show the gap is very small and sometimes favors the Mac.

I do agree that MSFT is out of touch with consumers. They have failed miserably in the consumer market, i.e. they lose money on everything they make (Xbox, MSN, Zune, etc.). They are not hip anymore and they just don't get it. $399 for an OS that is a resource hog and requires 2-3 times the processing power when compared to a four-year-old Mac that can run Leopard, it's no wonder they are failing with Vista as well.

Cheers.

9:32 AM, December 07, 2007



James said...

Ah, perhaps I should clarify then: I've read the articles that show a Mac as about as expensive as a similar Dell -- but they really don't take into account the frequent sales. There are frequent sales on Vista machines, so if you're a smart shopper you can really get stuff at a great price. Also, some additions (like RAM) can be bought far cheaper on your own.

To illustrate, I have a friend who just got a dual core laptop with 2.5Gb RAM for under $500. That's about half the price of a basic model macbook, AND has more than twice as much RAM.

If you want a decent video card, price rises very quickly. A Dell XPS with a 8600GT in it is $1500 -- a MacBook Pro with that same card is $2000, and has a smaller hard drive. That's NORMAL price for the Dell -- I'm sure sales can bring that down. In fact, you can't get leading edge consumer video cards at all on a Mac, even on the top of the line models.

Lets not even consider crazy coupon codes and rebates, and just take a look at some desktop models to drive home the point.

You can get a 20" imac with a midrange graphics card -- OR a dell with a 20" monitor, three times the ram, nearly the fastest consumer video card out there, and quad instead of dual core . That Dell also includes Office BTW, so don't say that it doesn't have the same software!

http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsdt_420?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&~tab=bundlestab

No shopping around, and I've found yet another example of how Macs really are more expensive!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Why Apple?

I've been thinking a bit about Microsoft since I interviewed there last month (BTW: they didn't offer me a position, but I did accept a lucrative offer from Amazon in their Digital Media division). I enjoyed interviewing with MS, and liked the people I talked to. It's always interesting posting about a discussion I had with real people -- if anyone I interviewed with stumbles here, hello, and don't take anything I say personally!

Since I was interviewing for Program Manager, I decided to ask some questions about how strategy is decided in the Windows Experience group. I voiced my opinion that there were some strategy issues with the vista lineup -- perhaps a bold move in an interview, but it is something that I want to know. I specifically asked how MS decided which features to leave out of the lower versions. He corrected me and told me that they don't try to leave features out -- they try to look for features to ADD to the more expensive version. Well, in my book that sounds like marketing hype.

First, you should know that there are 4 versions of Vista that matter to individual users:
1) Home Basic: This version is, well, basic. It may be 'more secure' than xp, but certainly has steeper system requirements too. It costs $99, and doesn't offer a whole lot different from XP.
2) Home Premium: This version is interesting. It costs $199, but includes media center (very cool), a shiny interface, a dvd maker, 3 'premium games' (chess, mahjong, and inkball -- no shouts of excitement here), and a backup utility. Really, it only lacks one program: Remote Desktop. This is something that us nerds DO care about, so we can access our home PCs on campus, or from another room if you just don't want to get up.
3) Business Edition: This costs the same amount as Home Premium. All it does is include Remote Desktop, and leave out Media Center. Remote Desktop though IS an important feature for a lot of people -- who now have to make a choice between Media Center or Remote Desktop -- you can't have both, unless you get...
4) Ultimate Edition: At $399 (TWICE that of Premium), this was supposed to be the uber cool version. The interviewer I asked about strategy told me this was the version for those people who "just want to have it all" -- like some kind of status symbol that you could brag about to your friends who only have Premium Edition. Strangely enough though, this version doesn't actually DO very much more. You get Remote Desktop AND Media Center. That's really the ONLY REASON a power user would get it. As far as the 'people who want to have it all' group that the interviewer thought they were targeting, they may be the people who buy something 'just because' it's labeled the best, and MS may sell a few copies. But here's the list of features that you get in Ultimate:
a) Moving desktop backgrounds
b) A Poker game
c) Encrypt your entire hard drive, just in case you're paranoid or work for the FBI
d) Use more than one language on the computer (ie, switch between English and Spanish)
e) Media Center AND Remote Desktop

Wow! All I have to say is that it's asking a lot from users to ask them to pay $200 more for a poker game and remote desktop. You can get free programs that do Remote Desktop stuff. Sure it would be nice to have it built in -- but not for $200. And unless I'm mistaken, Remote Desktop only allows one person to use the machine at a time (two people can't remote login), unless you get some other Server / Enterprise edition.

After mentioning some of these arguments to my interviewer, he agreed that Remote Desktop would have been nice to see on Home Premium. But he still thought that there was a reason for a $400 Ultimate Edition, and I still disagree. If their target market is the status symbol market, then I think they picked the wrong target -- and then didn't back it up with any actual features. Since all DVDs are cheap to produce, paying extra for extra features just doesn't feel the same as buying luxury items for a sports car. Sure, there are development costs, but $200 to add poker?


Microsoft is getting too complacent if they actually believe this is a good strategy. I hate to make comparisons to Apple, but I think it's appropriate in this case. Sure, MS can say that they're far above Apple in numbers (and they'd be right) -- and they have the business section that Apple isn't even interested in (right again). But more and more I see people switching to Apple -- even though the machines are expensive. I give MS no more than 5 years before they start really feeling pressure from Apple. At first, they're quite secure in the business realm, since the IT staff don't want to have another platform to support -- until a manager high enough on the food chain demands to have a mac at work (he likes his powerbook at home) and the IT guys have to listen.

So why do people switch to Apple? Why is it the status symbol that Vista Ultimate isn't? Macs ARE more expensive after all. I think it comes down to strategy again. If you buy a mac,

1) Buying a new OS comes in a single $129 version
2) New machines come with iLife and automatically get the 'cool extras' like a movie maker and garageBand.
3) Adding a very functional word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software is $80. (Remember, if you want to actually (gasp) use Vista to write school reports, you need to go buy Office for another $150).

Sure macs are expensive -- but they offer consumers the feeling that they're getting a bunch of exciting features for that money. There's things that are lacking in the Mac OS -- the equivalent Remote Desktop is a totally different program, though you can share your screen for free. But Apple doesn't present those as add ons like candy at a grocery store -- they portray their OS as COMPLETE to begin with. MS gives consumers the feeling that they AREN'T getting features because they're reserved for the 'special versions.' Leaving aside potential interface or 'easier to use' considerations, which may be significant, and the fact that the 'extra features' in vista are really pointless, there is a fundamental good strategy in making users feel like they're getting all our cool stuff, instead of being denied stuff.

On the issue of OS pricing, I also asked my interviewer why the price was so steep for Ultimate. He replied that he thought it was an amazing thing that Windows hasn't changed it's price since Windows 3.1, many years ago. He said that with everything going up in price, isn't it great that Basic, which is way more functional than 3.1, still costs $99? The problem with this idea is that we're dealing with computers -- where processing power doubles every 18 months and keeps getting cheaper and cheaper. If your software doesn't do a ton more than it did two years ago (not to mention 15 years), something is very wrong! Remote Desktop, Media Center, and chess (a specially touted feature of Premium and Ultimate!) have been around for YEARS -- why does MS treat them as new features that you need to pay more for? Oh sure, it's not just Chess, it's 'Chess Titans', and don't forget 'Mahjong Titans' (since Titan is a cool word, you might as well use it in both products).

It's like selling a car with only an FM radio, an option to get cassette, and (if you're really into that status symbol thing), a CD player. And the FM radio costs only as much as it did in 1980! Sure, there are additions -- but they don't feel like anything special, and the lack of progress instead feels like regression. Claiming that adding a poker game and moving desktop backgrounds (which have also been around for a while) is progress only adds salt to the wound.

Of course, Apple still doesn't have an answer to the gaming market, sadly enough -- and strangely MS doesn't even market that capability, probably because they don't understand their markets like Apple. When Apple has gaming on it, they will be even more of a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully MS will change their strategy soon, or they're in for some rough times in five years.


Linkage

Teeny Manolo-- lists of good stuff: best kids movies, books, games, etc. Also really cute kids' clothes, which I can look at, if not afford:).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Some people hate playing games with me....

I'm not entirely sure why. I just try to keep games fun and interesting! If a game is not quite fun enough, a little rule modification or careful deal making is obviously in order. But some people call that creativity 'infuriating.'

I guess it's because I have a long history of 'adapting' games. When we were younger, my brother and I constantly modified game rules. Well, mostly I modified them. Sometimes we played games of monopoly where we both ended up with 15k and substantial hotel strips. We gave each other free rent all the time -- it was Philanthropist Monopoly, where you really just tried to accumulate as much money as possibly. We'd have to convert $1 bills to $1000 bills, or use 10k bills from other monopoly type games. Another childhood game we modified the rules to was "Hit each other with big sticks." If you're a guy, you've probably played some variation of this game. I have some friends who played "hit each other with 2x4s" which I suppose you'd call "eXtremE childhood games." I modified the game to include 6 foot pipe insulation so there was less chance of actual injury, and a greater chance of convincing my 4 year younger brother that he really did have a chance.

So while some people call my monopoly deals frustrating, they're really done out of good intentions. I think it's really just my creative part expressing itself, trying to make life more interesting. If you're not particularly good at creating your own house rules, it's ok -- you can learn. I found a guide to help you out. Try it!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Picapalooza Part Two-- Snow Day






First snow for the Willex! (I figure it doesn't count until you're old enough to play in it)

Picapalooza Part One

Sorry sorry sorry sorry. I know I've been promising pictures. Here you go:



At the Pike Market. There was a guy there who called himself "El Rey de Chiles" (the king of peppers)-- and he deserved the title. Fantastic wreaths of peppers, not to mention about 40 varieties that you could mix and match for $2.25 a pound. He had a pepper called a mango chile-- doesn't taste like a mango, but MAN they're good.













Look at all the different kinds! This is at Pike's too.











This and the next are both at a glass store in downtown Seattle called Vitria.


























The Willex!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Andrea tagged me!

Thanks Andrea!
The Rules:
A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.
B. Each player lists 6 facts/habits about themselves.
C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Here goes!

1. I learned to hate seafood in Japan. I actually liked the occasional fish stick before then, but we lived on the coast, and when the fog rolled in, the whole base smelled like old sushi. Blech!

2. I hate wearing socks. I take them off if at all possible. Ditto with shoes. In fact, I think I used to leave my socks and shoes over at Cara's sometimes, which leads me to...

3. If the water is weird at your house, I will bring my own. I used to leave cups over Cara's all the time, along with my shoes and my socks.

4. I love cheese. When I lived in the dorm I used to go buy a block of sharp cheddar and cut chunks off with a plastic knife. Heck with crackers! No Urkel jokes, please:).
4a. If you bring Camembert cheese within fifty feet of my front door, I will shoot it. With a bazooka.

5. My secret (well, not so secret anymore) ambition is to create and publish a photodocumentary on American men. They get such a bad rap, and they're mostly such good guys!

6. It concerns me when no one leaves comments on my political posts. Am I too weird?

The end! Whom shall I tag??? I tag Cara, Amanda, Amy, JoAnne... and everyone else I can think of with a blog has already been tagged! Oh, except James! He's tagged too.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What do you do when it's 3:08 in the morning and you're not convinced that your baby's REALLY asleep?

You blog!
Have you guys ever read Mental Floss? Apparently they're a magazine too, but I've only ever seen there website. The tagline is "Where knowledge junkies get their fix". FUN FUN website.
James helped me clean the house tonight. It looks very nice.
Walmart has a scent of candle I've never seen before. It's called Mandarin Cranberry (or is it Cranberry Mandarin??). It's very nice-- a kind of clean winter Christmas smell. Think of how your kitchen smells when you just finished cleaning after baking Christmas goodies. You know, that kinda uber-clean cookie-y smell. Something like that.
I doubt I'm making any sense, but hey, at least I'm awake!
And now I'm going to bed.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cara: Remember, it's never too early to teach Emmy a new phrase:

Mariteddu Tamant'e Un Ditu Ieddu Voli Essa Rivaritu - Corsican: a husband must be respected even if he is very short.



Respect the short people.

This one's for you, Mitch

Lest people think I only slam Hillary and Saudi kings:
John McCain says that his Republican rivals aren't as qualified to be president during war because they have no military experience.
Now I'm the last person to say that military experience isn't a bonus. But please do correct me if the Constitution doesn't specifically state that military service is NOT a prerequisite to the presidency, and that, in fact, being an active-duty service member is the only job that one must retire from before running for the presidency.
For someone who's supposed to be working on a rebound, this wasn't the smartest move. Especially not coinciding with Musharraf's possible coup.

See, Mitch? I'm an equal opportunity propaganda spewer! (Oooh, look at that last sentence. Three liberal buzzwords in a row!)

Friday, November 02, 2007

In retrospect...

OK, now that I had time to think about it maybe I didn't do badly at all. And, after having dinner with someone who lives here, LDS, with kids and a single income, maybe it is perfectly doable after all? There do seem to be a good amount of bonus & stock given, and performance type raises too. So the potential for growth is good; he said with today's market conditions it's not unreasonable to expect to be able to buy in a few years. We'll see -- I may not get an offer. If I do, there will be a hard decision to make, but I'll face that when I come to it.

Jobs :(

I'm in Redmond today; Microsoft flew me out to an interview. I was excited, though nervous, to come -- but after a day full of interviews and driving around Seattle last night, I really just want to be home.

I guess it was just an underwhelming day -- so underwhelming that I feel pretty burdened down with it. I didn't really do good on the interviews, and I highly doubt I'll get an offer. It's not that I did bad, but I don't feel like I really connected with the interviewers like I hoped to. But even if I did get an offer, would it be something to celebrate?

According to my interviewers and recruiter, Microsoft 1) does not offer a signing bonus like Amazon, 2) doesn't care about a Masters degree, and 3) pays about $10k less than Amazon. Sure, they claim have a "better atmosphere" and aggressive bonuses with more flexible hours. Maybe that's true, but it's REALLY hard to know that from the outside. One interviewer told me the wage if I got hired as a college student, 'level 59,' is 75k; plug that number into this site:

http://www.cityrating.com/costofliving.asp

and you'll see that it's similar to making a bit under 45k in Provo. Yikes! OK, granted, this calculator seems low. Some other ones say it's more like 60k. Hard to say though, really, when homes are 350-450k! Gas prices are $3.20 here. In fact, a lot seems "more expensive" overall; it's not just the housing to consider. Everything is "more expensive" and homes are impossible to afford unless you bought 10 years ago before the housing boom. Since it's all so expensive, it makes it that much harder to gauge how much you'll really have to afford a home.

On top of that, throughout this whole salary job hunt process I've been a bit discouraged by the general inability for people to actually accurately represent cost of living in the Seattle area. The people from these companies that I talk to seem to think it's great, but they all are in very different circumstances. They all say, "Oh yes! It's very easy to live on what they offer! I just got a job here, and we already bought a home!" And then you find out that BOTH them and their spouse have the same 80k job, and they have no kids. Niiiiiiice. Another group of people say it's easy to live on 80k... but they aren't married, and have a roomate to share rent. So the vibe I'm getting here is that it's a great wage, if you're single or dual income childless. I've heard no real compelling arguments that 75k is a "great wage" from someone who has done it with a family. I do however read on forums things like: "It is very hard to make here with a family if you make under 80k. "

I have to say I'm a bit disappointed. I was hoping to maybe save for a few years, then buy a low end but livable home. I was hoping that getting a masters degree, work experience at IBM, a job at one of the top companies would be a fairly good step up from living as a collage student. I thought 75k would be a prize! It sure sounds like it should be. But adjusted for cost of living? We'd certainly never buy a home when home prices here are 350k-450k. I feel like I could give a speech when I graduate: "Hey everybody! I'd like to thank my wife for going through a master's degree with me! She's been great, and patient, while our other friends get houses and 'real jobs' -- and now that my grand plan for success is over and I work for a great well known company, we're going to celebrate by NEVER OWNING A HOME! Isn't that great? You can visit us anytime you want -- we'll be in a burned out van down by the river, since the rent is so cheap there..."

I know, I know -- I'm exaggerating. I guess I'm just disappointed at what I thought was a poor performance on my interviews, combined with no one really telling me what it's like to live in Seattle as a family. I haven't gotten my offer from Amazon; when I do get it though, how do I accurately asses what it's like to live here? Am I worried about nothing? How much does IBM need to offer to be not only 'competitive' but to make me really want to move to CT? I'm not sure, but everything I read on Seattle cost of living scares me.

Mostly, I just want to go hop on a plane and be home. I want to get back to life as normal and forget about strange expensive cities where no one actually has a family on one income anymore. I look forward to reading a Cara blog entry about the nobility of a classic family provider-homemaker arrangement, just because at this moment it feels foreign to everyone up here.

We'll see what Monday brings; I get my offer from Amazon then. I'm hoping that a good night sleep, some research, and a good offer turn my day around on Monday. In the meantime, I'm going to sit alone in my hotel room and do schoolwork -- at least school is something in my comfort zone. Or, maybe, do my work for IBM, where I'm one of the experts on our little project.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Best music choice EVER

Shortly after 9/11, the military band that plays at Buckingham Palace played "The Stars and Stripes" (I believe they usually play "God Save the Queen"). Yesterday, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia arrived at the Palace to meet the Queen.
A little background might be in order here: A scandal involving the books for sale in many British mosques has recently erupted. The books are terrible-- calling for the gruesome death of homosexuals, among other ghastly things. And guess who funds these mosques and sends these books? The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not just some random Saudi guy, but the actual government. If I remember correctly, these Wahhabi sects produced the terrorists who set off the bombs in July of 2005.
Anyway, the king of Saudi Arabia showed up at Buckingham Palace, with the Queen and the military band there to greet him. And what did the band play?
"The Imperial March", from Star Wars. Darth Vader's theme.
MAN I love the military!! Watch the video:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And the pander-fest continues...

Remember Hillary Clinton, or HRC, as she she's often called, (I can't help reading it as "Her Royal Clintonness") saying that she wanted to give $5,000 to every child born in America? Well, after taking that off the table, she came up with another grant idea that would cost more than the baby one. And then there's this one: "No child should have to leave his or her hometown to get a good job".
The problems with this are legion. The first one to strike me? "Children" don't leaving town for jobs. Adults do. How old do you have to be before HRC considers you a free-acting adult instead of a victim? 25? 30? 40?
The second problem? Let's look at this whole idea mathematically, shall we? According to HRC, you should never have to leave your hometown, right? Well, say you come from a small town like my hometown, North Pole, Alaska (or any town, really. Just take North Pole for an example). There are probably about 5,000 people in the area. Now, according to HRC's assertion, thee good people of North Pole have two options: they can either A) breed at EXACTLY the replacement rate, and hope that there's a one-to-one correlation between workers, stay-at-home Moms, and unemployed people, or B) create one new job for EVERY child born, and deal with the unfilled jobs that will be created when people choose not to work... somehow. But heaven forbid that new people should come in and fill those open jobs, because they would have had to leave their hometown. Oh, never mind. You can always use illegal immigrants for those jobs, according to HRC. Not leaving your hometown is only for Americans. (This option also involves every hamlet, village, town and city in America growing at the birth rate, melting into each other and sinking into urban chaos, forever and ever amen.)
Brilliant, Hillary. Just brilliant. Would you, please, stop telling different groups of people exactly what that particular group wants to hear? The cognitive dissonance is starting to make my ears ring.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

What was she thinking?!?

If she was at all... Hillary Clinton says she "likes the idea" of giving every child born in the U.S. $5000 in an account to be accessed after they graduate from high school. Every child.

Any guesses how many kids are born in the U.S. each year?
4 million. In one year! That's twenty billion dollars PER YEAR. Of course she didn't say how she'd pay for this $20 billion a year. Tax increase anyone?

And that's assuming that she even meant it. Somehow, I doubt it. At least, I hope she didn't mean it. You see, it's not her job, or anyone's job in the government, to take care of me, or my kids. That's MY job, thank you very much. I want my kids to work to earn money for college. I want to earn my home. I DON'T want Hillary to give it to me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Civics test

I got a 76%-- and I STILL beat seniors at Harvard, Yale, and all the other Ivy League schools.
Give it a shot! Leave your scores and thoughts in the comments section.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Today

Six years ago, at this time, I was sitting at my computer in a cinder-block apartment, staring at CNN's website. We didn't have a TV in out apartment, and I couldn't stand watching the one in the lobby anymore-- too many people were coming through, and I couldn't look at their shell-shocked faces anymore. They looked too much like I felt, and it wasn't a fun thing to see.

I didn't go down to the television again, in the weeks that followed. I stayed glued to my computer, lapping up any news of someone being pulled out of the wreckage, until those stories ended. And then I didn't want to see anymore. But I couldn't stop. I remember wanting, almost, desperately, to not go to CNN, or MSNBC, or CBS, or any other news website, not wanting to see those pictures again, not wanting to read any more of the same words... But I couldn't stay away.

For years, every time I saw a flag at half-staff, I wondered if I had somehow managed to miss hearing about another attack. I spent the rest of the day slightly jittery until I could go home and make sure nothing cataclysmic had happened.

I was one of those people who spent a week or so of autumn 2001 flinching when I saw a jet fly overhead.

I have looked at the news very nearly every day of the six years between then and now. There have been 2-- yes, I counted, 2-- days when one of the top stories was not something related to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Honor and remember the dead.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

School

An eighth grader in Arizona has been suspended--for drawing a picture of a gun.
No bullets, no bodies... just a gun (the boy said it was supposed to be a laser gun). And the teacher (mistake number one) sent him to the principal, who (mistake number two) suspended the poor kid for five days (she later reduced it to three). She then called his parents to go get him. When he got there and tried to reason with her, she referenced Columbine and zero-tolerance policies.

Unlike Cara, I don't particularly want to home school. (I admire her to death, I just don't think I could pull it off. If I live near Cara when our kids are school-age and we can double-team them... perhaps I'll reconsider.) I enjoyed school, with the memorable exception of fourth grade (and math, from second grade on). But then, I went to military schools for all of elementary school (again, with the memorable exception of fourth grade), and this NEVER would have happened in a military school. At least not in the military schools I grew up in. I dearly hope they haven't been wussified as well.

I am tempted to insert a diatribe on the state of society in general here. But I read a lot of the comments on the story that I linked to, and you know what? It's not society that's the main problem in this story. It's the school's administration, and the school board... You know, folks, school boards are elected officials.

Anyway. My kids are (hopefully) private school bound. I worked in a public school. And I loved my job, and cried when I left it. But public schools are way too prone to things like this-- hyper political correctness, thought-policing, and demasculinization (seriously, all you education-administration types: there are some games that everyone can't win. Really. Nor is playing with toy guns a step on the way to using them on someone else for the VAST majority of human beings. But that's another post.).

Anyway. Don't send your kids to public school unless you have already changed the system. And if you have... spread the mojo.

Monday, August 20, 2007

While I'm blogging...

Can I just tell everybody how wonderful my husband is? Not that he's done anything particularly spectacular (other than work his tail off... big product release September 1st) today. He just is, and always has been-- or at least he has been since I was 16:).

The Willex

Will will (Will'll? Will shall? The name is pragmatically problematic... but so fitting) be a year old tomorrow. Bizarre, folks. I was looking at some pictures of him when he was little (littler) the other day, and it amazes me how different he is. He walks, he talks, he plays soccer, and is inordinately fond of phones, remotes, USB cables, computer mice, and all other things techie. He knows what "no" means, can unzip a zipper, and loves Mexican food (he DEFINITELY takes after James).

He is still perfect.

Yikes

You know you're getting old when you have to do some significant scrolling down to find your birth year to sign up for stuff.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

To give Cara something to do...

Cara's stuck up until at least 11 o'clock tonight waiting for her in-laws to get there for Michael's graduation... so in order to give her something to do till then:

I have some super cute fabric in Christmas colors (dark green, burgundy, and a kinda goldy-cream)for my niece being born in December... but I have scant experience making quilts, and even scanter experience with GIRL quilts. Help!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Welcome back to me!

Sorry guys.
In our defense, I will say that the past three months have been absolutely insane. Our transmission blew up, we bought a new car, Will and I got the stomach flu, James got food poisoning, Will got three new teeth, we went on vacation... I'm sure that there a couple other things in there too.

So anyway, here's the updates:
Congratulations to Matt and Kylie! They have a new little boy named Jonah.
Congratulations to Eddie and Andrea! They have a new little boy named Thomas.
Congratulations to Mike and Cara! They're having a little one in February (my bet is a boy).
Congratulations to Adam and Amanda! They're having a little one in December AND they survived having James and me over for a week!

Yep, we went to California on vacation. Let the pictures commence!
First stop: Monterey Bay Aquarium. I've wanted to go to this place since I was 10 years old folks. Cool stuff:

You wouldn't think that jellyfish would be so photogenic, would you? The MBA has tons (literally) of cool stuff-- sea and river otters, penguins, frogs, seahorses, sharks, and these wonderful touch tables-- you can pet urchins (SOFTLY), starfish, and various other invertebrates. They have one pool where you can pet stingrays. They feel wonderful-- not scaly like you'd think, but like very thick, short, wet velvet on a rubber backing.
After the aquarium we drove down the beach a bit and visited tide pools and this place called Moss Landing. Wonderful sand and waves, plus these little critters called sand crabs that you can dig up if you follow a wave.

We also went to Yosemite National Park. It's gorgeous! Here's a few pictures to prove it (also to prove that I did in fact swim in Yosemite--scratch that, Merced-- River):



A couple pictures of Will to finish things off. Oh, for those who are wondering, there aren't pictures of James because he took them all:)-- except these pictures of Will. I'll claim credit for those:)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Yargh!!

So our transmission blew up.
No,it really blew up. As in, big ol' hole in the side, with debris and transmission fluid scattered across the freeway. MAN I hate cars. At least horses don't spontaneously combust. Usually.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Revelation!

So, my sweet little baby has recently moved his wake-up time: from 7-7:30 back to 6, 6:30, back to 5:30. Stinks for me. So as I was changing is diaper this morning, thinking, "What next, 4:30?" this thought popped into my head. Actually, it was a page from a book I'd read when we were trying to teach him to sleep at all (by Dr. Ferber. GREAT BOOK.). On said page was a table showing how much sleep a case study baby was getting. Her parents said she wasn't sleeping enough at night, but when you looked at the table, you saw that the baby was getting 15-16 hours of sleep in one day and night... she was just napping a lot. She didn't need to sleep any more than she was at night.
And the light comes on! Will naps really well. It used to be that he'd nap two times a day, maybe three if he'd had a rough day. But lately (say, since the whole move-back thing started) he's been doing 3 or 4 naps a day. And they've been good long naps too.
You know, you'd think this would have occurred to me earlier. Just goes to show what the humility brought on by sleep deprivation can do for you!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Home

We found a coffee table book called Spectacular Alaska. I just finished looking through it. MAN I miss home. I know that home is where my family is... but there's something about Alaska.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Feminists.

They drive me crazy. There's an article in the New York Times today, entitled "Off to Work She Should Go". It's by a woman named Linda Hirshman, author of the book Get Back to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World. You can look it up on Amazon, but only if you want to get angry. Quote from the article:

That the most educated have opted out [of work-- ed.] the most should raise questions about how our society allocates scarce educational resources. The next generation of girls will have a greatly reduced pool of role models.

1) What, I can't be a role model to girls because I chose to stay home and raise my child? Talk about feminist garbage. They say they're all for women having choice-- as long as it's the choice to kill their unborn children. If I should want to choose to stay home and raise the baby that I brought into this world, well I've obviously been brainwashed by some patriarchal despot, and that's the end of the story.

2) Why should SAHMs (Stay at Home Moms) raise questions about how society allocates educational resources? I don't know how many of you saw the article (also in the NYTimes, I believe) quoting professors lamenting the fact that so many of their grad students chose to be full-time mothers, masters degrees and all. One of the quotes from one of these great "intellectuals" flirted with the idea of using a woman's desire or lack thereof to be a SAHM as a litmus test. If she wanted to, then she would be less likely to be accepted into her masters program because she would "waste" it. And a lawmaker in Europe (Belgium, I believe) went even further. In her country (yes, this was a woman), the state pays for higher education. This woman wanted SAHMs to have to pay the state back for their education, as they had "wasted" the state's resources.

This is sick. Sick and wrong. Nobody has the right to tell me what to do with my life-- except me. Nobody has the right to decide who should raise my child-- except James and me. Nobody can say that I wasted my education or anything else, just because I chose to be a SAHM. What are they thinking? That because I had the temerity (as they view it) to produce a child in the first place, I should be uneducated, barefoot and in the kitchen? That because I chose to work here instead of there, I don't deserve to learn and grow? That because I choose to raise kids, that makes me so unworthy that kids can't look up to me? Society will be in a pretty state then, when children shouldn't look up to their mothers.

I chose this life. If they don't want it, fine, but I do. I haven't been brainwashed, I haven't been abused, I haven't been bullied or indoctrinated. I simply love my family and my home. I love what I've accomplished here. I've even (gasp) learned and grown. This is my life, and I love it. So, Ms. Hirshman, I'll thank you to keep your indoctrinating, insulting, bullying feminist nose out of it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A rant

Don't you hate it when those simple things that you think you know exactly how to do don't work? And even worse, when they spectacularly don't work? I'll explain when I get the blasted thing working, gosh darn it!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Saddening news from back home :(

In the village where I grew up
Nothing seems the same
Still you never see the change from day to day
And no-one notices the customs slip away

Late last night the rain was knocking at my window
I moved across the darkened room and in the lampglow
I thought I saw down in the street
The spirit of the century
Telling us that we're all standing on the border

In the islands where I grew up
Nothing seems the same
It's just the patterns that remain
An empty shell
But there's a strangeness in the air you feel too well

-- From "On the Border," Al Stewart

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Heroes

I've been thinking the past couple weeks about the usage of the word "hero". You hear it used all the time-- Olympic athletes are "heroes", the blind guy who climbed Everest is a "hero"... actors, athletes, politicians, dare-devils, you name it, they're "heroes" in this day and age.
It's disgusting.
People do great and inspiring things. I love watching the Olympics-- what people have trained themselves to do is incredible, and the humility of (some of) the athletes is a good lesson. The first man to climb Everest and return did a great thing, to say nothing of the blind man. Even some of the celebrities have done great things. But does that make them a hero? Nope.
A hero is a person who takes substantial risks for someone else. Climbing a mountain is cool, yes, but unless you did it to save the life of someone on the other side, that doesn't make you a hero. Winning a gold medal? Not hero status.
It seems like the true heroes don't get remembered for very long, unless it's by the people closest to them and their heroism. How many people, in five years, will understand why some people find the phrase "Let's roll" moving and inspiring? How many people will remember (or even know today) the name of Liviu Librescu? In yesterday's shootings at Virginia Tech, this professor, a survivor of the Holocaust, was shot while saving his students. Lacking a barricade, he made himself into one. He blocked the door with his body, and gave his students time to run. He died, but none of his students did.
We remember tragedies for a time. We teach our children to remember the dates, the numbers. But not the names. We teach them, instead, to know names the names of actors, athletes, and reckless dare-devils. I want my children to grow up knowing and honoring names like Todd Beamer and Liviu Librescu.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A few more flower macro pictures




These are slightly cropped (Denise's inspiration). I used a flash so I could get enough depth of field.

Audio heaven...

I've piled on the hours the past couple of weeks, despite being a bit sick and having some late night projects, so Denise and I could have some spending cash. We've already got cool stuff, so it's not like we needed it. But I figured hey, lets have some fun. It's much more motivating working extra when you know you're working for something. We decided that extra time gets put 33% to savings, 33% to me, and 33% to Denise. Sorry Will.

So anyway, I now have a pair of AS-B2s in my living room. They're bookshelf speakers, being discontinued so on the uber cheap. Normally bookshelf speakers means "something you'd put on a bookshelf"... in this case, it turns out to mean "the size of a small bookshelf." They're huge. And gorgeous. They are timbre matched to our other speakers, so surround sound is still great. I'll post pics later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Best Defense is a Good Offense, etc.

Willex has a walker (yes, I know that you're supposed to avoid them like the plague, that they don't develop the proper muscles, etc., but a) we don't have any stairs, and b) he likes it). James plays a game with him where he (James) sneaks up on Will (in his walker). Sneak probably isn't the right word, as James is usually out where Will can see him and get excited... what is the word... stalk! James stalks toward him-- it always reminds me of the raptors-in-the-kitchen scene from Jurassic Park. Anyway, Will used to see him coming and would try to back away (his little feet scrabbling madly while he laughed hysterically), but he could never get away fast enough. So he's now formulated an offense. As soon as he sees James coming, he charges him (full speed ahead!) with his walker. Stinkin' hilarious. I wish I had a video camera so you guys could see. He gets this excited look, and then off he goes. He also figured out how to say "Dada" today. And he likes pizza crust. A lot!
Anyway, I've got a few pictures for you. Yay for macro!


Monday, April 02, 2007

Megapost

Sorry for the long time it's been since I put anything of significance up. It's been a difficult past couple weeks... but I've gotten a lot of thinking done.
First off, James' Mom (Ronnie) came to visit last weekend. It was a lot of fun to have her here. She also came bearing the Minolta Beercan Lens... but more on that later. I miss having her handy. So does Will!
Speaking of the Willex-- he's trying hard to learn to crawl and walk at the same time. He likes to hold on to our fingers and totter around the room on his own two legs, which is a relief to my two legs (and arms!). He's also just figured out how to get both of his legs straight out behind him when he's on his hands and knees. Before, one leg would straighten, and the other would stay at a 90 degree angle to it in front of him. He pushed up onto his toes today trying to crawl (picture an upside-down V)-- I was impressed!
Anyway, with the thinking. Cara lent me her Thomas Jefferson Education book, and I've been looking through it. I'd be hesitant to believe that education is in the state described, except for the inconvenient fact that I spent 4 months at Sunset View Elementary here, working as an ESL teacher. I've seen public education, at least in this school district, and it's scary. More scary to me right now, however, is the state of my education. So I have a new goal (along with my goal to lose 20-30 pounds, figure out how to keep my living room decluttered, and all the other ones): to read the list of 100 classics at the end of the book. Possibly excluding Nietzsche, but I'll at least give him a shot. I was looking through the list, and realizing that I hadn't even heard of some of these people. I started thinking-- I've heard General Authorities quote these people without thinking twice. Reading older books like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, characters routinely quote great authors. When I read these books as a child, I always kinda figured that I'd be able to do that too, when I grew up, or at least after college. Well, I'm 26 this week, I have a husband and a baby, and I graduated from BYU 2 years ago this fall. I'm both grown up and a graduate, and I can quote (or even paraphrase) very few of the works on this list (if anybody wants it, I'll email it to you. I copied it down out of the book). So, by the end of 2008, I want to have all these books read. Then I'll start on the 200-piece long list of children's classics. My record is significantly better whith those, but still not what I'd like. I can't decide where to start on my list though. Alphabetical order? Chronological? Regional? What do you guys think?
Anyway-- pictures. As aforementioned, Ronnie got the Minolta Beercan (telephoto) lens as a gift for me (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU). So now we have a pretty nifty set of lenses that'll do just about anything we want. I've never had a telephoto before, so I'm still practicing taking pictures with it, but the past couple weeks we've gotten some pretty good ones with all of our lenses. Behold: The Stevenson Photo Gallery (part xxxvii, or something like that).
NOTE: Blogger's doing some weird things to the layout of the pictures, so if the captions don't quite line up with the pictures, I'm sorry! Also, it's putting tons of space between some of the pictures, so make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom of the post.


Ah, my little Bug Baby:) This is from the same expedition where James took the menu picture (see below). I think those are my Dad's sunglasses.



















With Aunt Amanda (who will have a little one of her own in December!! YAY!!!) at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake. This picture came out overexposed (I think James forgot to turn off aperture priority), but I actually like it that way. I think it condenses it down to its essence.















Willex hitches a ride. I actually really like this picture of me. It makes me look a lot cooler than I really am:).



















Ronnie (I think. It was either her or James) took this one in front of the NuSkin building in Provo. I love the colors.











James, Ronnie, and Will. Awww:)















This settles it. I have the cutest kid in the world. Ever.
That's Ronnie holding him. It's a picture I took when I was trying to get a picture like the one above, but James and Ronnie came out blurry. Willex, however, is perfect.












Well, that's it for this Megapost. I'm gonna have James do another one with some seriously cool pictures we got the other day outside our house. Oh, one more for Eddie and Andrea. I said I didn't want you to remember me as a whale... It's not the greatest picture, but also one of the only ones where I don't look like I have a double chin:). Here you go!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

ugh

5:33 in the morning. Trying to get Will to go back to sleep. Nuff said.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Update

I haven't posted anything lately, so I figured I'd put up a quick update... not that I have much to say:). Life's been pretty smooth-going lately... except for the plumbing incident. Somehow our pipes got clogged 80 feet from the kitchen sink, so we didn't have a kitchen sink for a couple days. It wasn't really that big of a deal, though.
James' Mom is coming in to visit today. Should be fun... maybe I can talk her into going to the Gateway with me. I'd never been there until we went to meet Amanda and Adam there (see the menu picture further down). Everything looks like it's WAAAAAAAAY expensive (except Old Navy), but it looks like it would be pretty fun to explore.
Anyway, that's about it. I'll post some pictures later. So... later!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

It runs in the family...



Yes, that is a menu. No, it's not a posed picture. He wanted to hold it; perhaps he wanted to see their selection of fine Gerbers products? (I heard 2007 was an excellent year...)









He also seems to appreciate fine music. After expressing extreme curiosity over my (very excellent) Siberia Icemat headphones, I decided to let him try them on. I think perhaps I should cultivate this music interest; I saw a $60 Paradigm sub that would work rather well!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

DON'T LAUGH

I've submitted an editorial. To Mugglenet. About Harry Potter.

Seriously, don't laugh! Anyone who knows me well knows how much I like Harry Potter. I was reading along the other day, and I had a pretty good idea... so I wrote it down. And edited and revised and got James to read it and revised some more. And by then the crazy thing was publishable (and over 1200 words long)... so yeah. I win on the nerdality scale. I'll let you guys know if it gets posted... and if it doesn't, well, that's what blogs are for!
It's nice to write again. Beyond this blog, I mean. I used to write fairly often, for all sorts of different reasons, and it's nice to write something that requires a little bit of critical reasoning.

Yes, I already know I'm a nerd.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Word of the Day

Gigantimungahuge.
Yep, you read that right-- giganti-munga-huge. James just woke up, and this is how he described what he envisions as the pizza of my dreams (with double cheese!).

Book Tag

Well, when I read Cara's post and realized I was it, I realized I had a problem. I happen to be using James' laptop, and I'm sitting right next to a gigantic bookcase. I don't think that's quite the point of the game-- although it could be interesting. What if the nearest book was Plumbing for the Dexterously Impaired or something? Anyway, being Denise, I am reading something at the moment, although nothing as ground breaking as Cara's book. I am reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Here's my contribution:
"She's Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (gotta love grandiose titles in Harry Potter) and she's the one who will be questioning you."
"Amelia Bones is okay, Harry," said Tonks earnestly. "She's fair, she'll hear you out."

Darn it. Cara, why couldn't you have tagged me the other day? I was reading in the Collected Works of Robert Browning-- that would have made me look cool! Alas:)
Anyway, I believe I'll tag the librarian. You're it, Andrea!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Random thoughts

1. It's weird how much more responsible I've become since becoming a mom. And how much I'm capable of doing that I never dreamed I'd be able to pull off, pre-mommyness. My house is clean. My husband is happily ensconced in a LAN party. My baby is sleeping in his crib, which he was put into on time and with no fuss. I know what's happening this next week in far more detail than I ever did pre-Willex. I'm clean (it took a while to remember to shower regularly after he was born. Don't laugh). And I'm more at peace with my world than I thought I could be right after my little guy was born.

2. It's time to start reading again. I'm fairly well-read, I like to think, but there's so much out there that I want to put into my head. So many worthy thoughts to occupy my mind, so little time (and money!).

3. Life ROCKS.

New visitors, please leave comments! Say hello!

Two visits from China and a visit from South Africa... and no comments from either... :(

I'm interested in knowing who visiting this blog, and why -- we have only a small handful of friends visiting, but a good number of people who I don't know stop by randomly. Let us know who you are, what your blog is, how you found us, etc... I'm too curious not to throw the invitation out there. Especially if you're not from the US. How did two people from China find our blog? I'll never know; they didn't leave any comments.

Also, if you're interested in seeing who visits your blog... I use http://www.statcounter.com/ 'cause it's free. Cara found it first though. You put an image on your page that tracks page visits. Every time the image is loaded, it has to go to statcounter to get it, so it's easy enough for them to see what country/city the requesting IP address is.

Friday, February 23, 2007

MEME

I usually don't do these (they smack of forwards to me, although I do enjoy reading ones that other people have filled out)-- but this is funny. You put "(your name) needs" and "(your name) is the most" into Google (don't forget the quotation marks!) and see what happens:
Denise needs:
a little love in her life
fame and glory
ignorance
to view Crunch Fat Burning Pilates and take some lessons
her mouth wired shut
prayers
to go to National Enquirer Anonymous
to shut mouth... a 747 could have flown in there

Denise is the most:
experienced woman civil mediator in the state of Indiana
awesome woman I've ever seen
wonderful woman in the world and fearless
worked and requested Madonna double ever
gorgeous woman alive
beautiful creation God has ever produced

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gadzooks! I've been turned into a Zombified Mutant Morning Coder!

Sorry to have to one-up Denise on the nerdality scale, but I just finished a coding project (at 4am) and caught a minimal amount of sleep. I enjoyed the project, too, despite the fact that I started work at 9am yesterday, took an hour lunch break and an hour dinner break and coded the rest of the day. Four hours of "pay me next week" work and 13 hours of "I sure hope this pays off in a couple years when I'm done with grad school" work. I was training a neural net.

I slept as long as I could after that -- until Will's "If you're happy and you know it" Plush Monkey of Incessant Electronic Noise(tm) summoned me to wakefulness. If you can call my current state wakeful, that is. I need a haircut (badly) and my eyes can't decide if they're going to crawl off my face and slowly roll their way back into bed. (That would be a bad idea, by the way, since Will would probably find them and try to chew on them.)

And Denise just notified me that she has a really bad stomachache. Whoo hoo! An Undead coder with a "feeling nearly-dead" wife! So I'm off to finish a couple other assignments and keep Will from screaming. Or chewing on my eyes, which I think are halfway down the hallway already.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Alright, folks.

This is COOL*: www.literature-map.com

Here's how it works: type in an author that you're fond of: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robin McKinley, J.K. Rowling (all favorites of mine), whoever. Literature Map brings up a cloud around the author of other authors people are likely to enjoy if they enjoy the work of the person they typed in. The closer two names are to each other, the more likely you are to like one if you like the other. Make sense? And it actually works! I put in Tolkien. When it brought up the cloud, not only had I read a lot of the other authors, but they're very well related, and I like them (LOTS). If you're looking for something to read (Cara), this will definitely help. Andrea, what do you think? (Hat-tip: Jonah).
Other cool internet discovery: Lists of Bests. Credit to Cara on this one. Lists of Pulitzer winners, Caldecotts, and other categories. Just cool stuff! Especially for someone whose library is running thin on books she hasn't read a gazillion times:).

*How much of a nerd does it make me that I think this is one of the coolest things I've seen online in eons?

Footnote (for Harry Potter fans only): read this editorial. It'll take you forever, but it's interesting if you can survive the white-on-black font. And it's the only thing that's ever made me think that maybe, just maybe, Snape isn't, or at least wasn't, evil. Discuss!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dreaming

I had this really bizarre dream last night. I woke up scared to death... but you'll laugh.
I dreamed that I was still single, and living in a boarding school for college students (not a dorm-- the people who lived with me in this place were the only students). And all this stuff was going on that I was supposed to help with, but I kept getting distracted, or forgetting, or coming up with excuses, and not doing anything that I was supposed to. People were disgusted with me. And when I tried to change nobody believed me. I think it comes from lingering guilt from not being able to take food to ward parties. Sigh. But when your baby's bed time is at 7:30, and the party starts at 7:00, I just can't bring food. I can't even go to the party! If only I would remember that when they send the sign-up sheets around...
Moving on... Eddie and Andrea are having a boy!! I'm so excited for them. Boys are cool, dude!!
Speaking of little boys, Will is coming along. He's learned to push himself up on his arms when laying on his stomach (he looks like he's doing baby push-ups), and when I went to get him up yesterday, he had his knees pulled up under him. That boy will be crawling before too long. He's also figured out how to grab the bar on his swing and stop himself. A 20-pound baby swinging on high generates a good bit of momentum, so I'm proud of my buff little baby. And he's learning to give high fives.
James gave me these two awesome books for Valentines day: A Blessing of Bread and More Words You Should Know: 1500 More Words Every Educated Person Should be Able to Use and Define. Both books are great fun. The bread book is a cookbook for Jewish bread (challah!!), and the word book is self-explanatory. So far I've known most of the words, although I finally learned what the heck absinthe is, and I didn't know that abominate (think abomination) was actually used as a verb. Word of the day: acme (yes, it is a real word outside of Wiley Coyote cartoons).

Friday, February 09, 2007

Mister Moose



Alex (James' brother) sent Will a stuffed moose (and us a money order! Thanks Bro!). Will LOVES that moose. Within 5 minutes, it has attained "most favored toy status". Here's a few pictures:

Monday, February 05, 2007

Pictures





I am so proud of some of these pictures. These are all from the Tanner building on campus.