Monday, March 31, 2008

Movin' on a deluxe apartment in the sky

This weekend, Hoot got some new digs.

Being as how he's a celebrity and all now, I believe this shot was captured by paparrazi using a telephoto lens. I think Hoot may be bathing, but luckily the design of his window does not permit one to catch a glimpse of his nether regions. Which is good, because this is a family-friendly blog and all. I'd hate to have to resort to using black rectangles to cover his owl-bits, and it would be a disgrace for Hootie to fall to the level of several female celebrities who eschew undergarments. He's a sophisticated owl, after all.

The paparrazi were required to use the telephoto lens because Hoot's new abode is now miles above where he used to reside, which was in a regular old Pantheon of Owly Greatness that basically sat on the floor.

Zozo had requested that her father construct a "Hootie Tree House," or so he claims. I'm not sure that she actually asked him for that, but if the boy needs an excuse to play with oversize Legos, then so be it. They began construction together (she serving as General Contractor and Chief Lego Stealer, and he serving as architect and primary carpenter), until it became time for the General Contractor to take her daily nap. Then it was up to the carpenter to finish under his own auspices.
Hoot was installed in his new Penthowlse post-haste and with much fanfare upon the General Contractor's awakening.

This will probably be the main publicity shot used for the newly formed Hoot Towers LLC company, which specializes in sturdy, colorful homes for small woodland fowl.

And, of course, the shot of the mastermind with his creation. Both of them, actually.

And the fork ran away with the poon

M and Zozo had this conversation yesterday, while I listened and, of course, cracked up:

Z: Daddy, eat with a poon.
M: Spoon.
Z: Poon.
M: Ssssssssssssspoon.
Z: Poon.
M: Sssssssssssss
Z: Ssssssssssss
M: Ssssssssssssssssp
Z: Ssssssssssssssp
M: Sssssssssssssspuh
Z: Sssssssssssssspuh
M: Sssssssssssspoo
Z: Ssssssssssspoo
M: Sssssssssssssspoon!

Zozo wins.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Print Bliss

I printed tonight. Which makes me obscenely happy.

This is a major event, seeing as how I haven't printed in probably over a year now.

Normally I have to spend half the day cleaning up the DDR (digital dark room) to even find the 2200 printer, by which point all creativity has been beaten out and I'm so disgusted with cleaning that I'm content to look at my nice, clean DDR and call it a day.

But I cleaned out the DDR Thursday night, which left it wide open for printing tonight.

Only, I haven't printed since I upgraded the operating system on the Mac, so a good 40 minutes was spent trying to figure out why the hell my Print Center wasn't working. I bounced from Epson's site to Apple's site to random Google search result sites, all of which pointed me to the next site. It was the photo printer equivalent of Who's On First.

Finally, I bypassed the Print Center system by sticking a piece of plain copy paper in the 2200 and sending a text document (that said "test" of all own creativity astounds me) through. This brought the printer up in my dock (those of you who aren't Mac heads will not understand this), at which point I tagged the little ^%$#er and told it to "stay in dock." The malfunctioning Print Center can go to hell now, as I've got direct access to the 2200 from the dock. Sweet!

Having access means I can run maintenance on the 2200 and clean out my clogged nozzles. While this sounds bad, it's a relatively painless exercise that takes a bit of time and some ink. Three cleaning cycles did the trick tonight, my nozzles were unclogged, and I was ready to go.

After all that, I had to figure out, again, how to feed extra-thick paper through the 2200, which involves manually loading it sheet by sheet from behind (which wouldn't be too difficult except that I'm working in a computer cabinet that feels like it's about the size of a telephone booth) and setting the paper feeder to "envelope." Why a photo printer has an "envelope" setting is beyond me. They should have just called the damn thing "thick paper" and been done with it.

After all that, I printed. Two glorious prints, one of whom has been owed to a friend since last September, and the other for the man who owns the small business up the street. Turns out the reason he had to do all that renovation is because some bastard in a flatbed backed through the front window and robbed the place. I don't know if the man has any recent photographs of his business before the burglary, but I do, and so I'm printing some for him.

I'll print more throughout this week, though, as after all that effort to get the 2200 up and running I'm plum tuckered out. Statistics homework has been turned in, the final load of laundry is drying downstairs, and I just might get to bed at a decent hour tonight.

Zozer had two more corner-worthy episodes this weekend. Man, does she hate that corner.

She also felt it necessary to show me Hoot's heiny and to point out that his heiny is where he goes poo-poo.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Easter Images

A couple of these aren't what you'd call your typical holiday snapshots, but I like them anyway. And besides, I like to think of myself as atypical anyway.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Heart Photoshop

Today my aunt Jo asked me, "Can you remove the background from this photograph? I really like it, but the background is distracting."

I'm all about helping friends and family photographically, so of course I said, "Yep!" I've done a few restorative and clean-up jobs in the past, but this one was a particular challenge. Lots of angles, small crevices, that sort of thing. To give you an idea of what I had to do, I'll tell you that for much of this I worked with a virtual "brush" that was 4 pixels wide. That's pretty damn small.

Still, doing something like this is quite relaxing for me, and even, dare I admit, fun. I put on some good tunes, fire up Photoshop and work away like a busy bee. I was pretty pleased with my final result:
But of course, you know I can't stop at that. It would be too boring, too vanilla.

I dug into my archives.

This was way more fun than doing my statistics homework.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Chapter 4: Basic Probability, pg. 154

"Being male and female are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive events."

No shit.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hippity Hoppity

In between being bad yesterday, we went to visit the Easter Bunny. During which time we were very, very good. Perhaps she thought that if she were within eyesight of the Easter Bunny, the Easter Bunny would not know of her previous or future transgressions and would still bring her Easter eggs.

Well, it worked. About six times over given the amount of Easter gifts she received today. You'd have thought it was Christmas. The Grandparents were the worst offenders, by far, but aunts and uncles came in a close second.

Anyway, standing in line yesterday to meet Mr. Bunny, I asked Zoe a series of questions. Mainly to distract her from the fact that she was about to sit on the furry lap of a large stranger. We talked about a few different things, and then I tried to steer the conversation around to the Easter Bunny.

"Zozo, what does the Easter Bunny say?"

As soon as the words left my mouth I knew I was in trouble. I have no freakin' clue what the Easter Bunny says. He's a rabbit, for Pete's sake. Rabbits don't really have an easily identifiable sound. Pigs oink, cats meow, dogs woof, horses neigh, sheep baa, owls hoohoo, cows moo...what the heck does a rabbit do? Especially a giant one with a bowtie and a permagrin?

Zoe looked at me and matter of factly stated, "Easter Bunny says, 'Helloooooo!'"

Oh. Okay. That's good to know.


Saturday, March 22, 2008


Today was a big day. We went to see the Easter Bunny, which is always an event, but we also tried a new form of discipline.

Zozo has decided that her favorite thing to do, when alone with Mommy and Daddy, is to push Mommy and Daddy's buttons. Over and over again.

Her method of choice today involved two modes: hitting us, and kicking the seats in the car. Kicking the seats is a weekly favorite, but we really thought we had the hitting thing licked months ago. Today it came back. Multiple times. Along with the new twist of pulling Daddy's glasses off his face. Mommy got rid of that issue last October, but Daddy still offers a spectacle smorgasbord.

As I wrote about earlier, we've tried reasoning with her. "Zoe, if you keep doing that, you won't get cookies or fruit snacks after dinner." That's when she negotiated, admitting to no cookies and no fruit snacks, but asking instead for a cupcake. Then we went to "No desserts. Period." She took it in stride. Better yet, she shouted gleefully, "Kick seats! No desserts!" as she kicked.

Step two: raised voices. Today, for the first time ever, we actually yelled at her. Loud.

She took it in stride. Better yet, she laughed in our faces. And kept kicking.


M and I looked at each other. Shit. What do we do now? This was foreign territory for us. She's always been a good girl. Usually a stern "No!" suffices.

So we tried something we've never done before. We tried The Corner.

In the car on the way home from Sam's, I said, "That's it. When we get home, you're standing in the corner."

She spent the rest of the car ride saying, "Stand in the corner! Go home and stand in the corner! Stand...stand...stand in the corner!"

This wasn't going as planned.

When we got home, and after another round of seat-kicking, I pulled the coat tree out from the corner in the family room and stood her there. She looked at me quizzically and questioned, "Stand in the corner?"

"Yes," I commanded, "Put your nose in that corner."

She did as instructed, putting her little nose right in the corner.

Half of me wanted to laugh, she looked so tiny and ridiculous standing there in the corner.

The other half of me fought my breaking heart from scooping her up and cuddling her, she looked so tiny and ridiculous standing there in the corner.

I shot a look at M, and saw my mixed emotions mirrored on his face.

At the exact time I thought it, he whispered it: "Go get the camera."

I'm not sure how many parents photograph the disciplining of their children, but we do.

I made some images, and put the camera down. We continued unloading the car and kept an eye on her. Finally she turned around with one big tear tracing down her face and her lower lip trembling. "I'm sorry."

That's when my heart broke all the way. We picked her up and talked about what she had done wrong, and that if she is a good girl, she won't have to go in The Corner any more.

That lasted most of the evening, through dinner, until it was time to brush her teeth. She wanted to play while we wanted to brush, and when we tried to get her to sit still she pulled M's glasses off again.


M picked her up and headed for The Corner. She wailed on the way there this time, and then refused to stand up.

Fine. Sit then.

She sat quietly for a few moments, then sent up another wail.

I'm not sure how effective this will be as a long-term method of discipline, but it seems to be working so far. It at least has an immediate effect on her.

And on us, for whatever frustration and anger we're feeling when she misbehaves melts as soon as we see her standing in the corner.

I'll post the Easter Bunny image later. It's a good one, but not nearly as funny as these.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


What I've learned tonight:

In regards to stratified samples, the homogeneity of items within each stratum provides greater precision in the estimates of underlying population parameters.

What I've also learned tonight:

Statistics isn't that difficult if you actually engage your brain.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Some wee facts

Courtesy of National Geographic. Except for the comments in italics. Which are, obviously, mine.
  • St. Patrick's Day marks the Roman Catholic feast day for Ireland's patron saint, who died in the 5th century. St. Patrick (Patricius in Latin) was not born in Ireland, but in Britain.

    Irish brigands kidnapped St. Patrick at 16 and brought him to Ireland. He was sold as a slave in the county of Antrim and served in bondage for six years until he escaped to Gaul, in present-day France. He later returned to his parents' home in Britain, where he had a vision that he would preach to the Irish. After 14 years of study, Patrick returned to Ireland, where he built churches and spread the Christian faith for some 30 years. Some day I'd like to be known as a Irish brigand.

  • Many myths surround St. Patrick. One of the best known—and most inaccurate—is that Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland into the Irish Sea, where the serpents drowned. (Some still say that is why the sea is so rough.) But snakes have never been native to the Emerald Isle. The serpents were likely a metaphor for druidic religions, which steadily disappeared from Ireland in the centuries after St. Patrick planted the seeds of Christianity on the island. Even though the whole snake thing is a myth, it doesn't stop drunken frat boys at University of Missouri-Rolla (or whatever the hell it's called now) from buying hundreds of rubber snakes each year for St. Patrick's Day, throwing them on the campus ground and yelling at freshmen pledges to "kill the snakes, freshman!" with their shillelaghs. While unfair and brutal for the freshmen, it's downright funny for the rest of us to watch.

  • In the United States, it's customary to wear green on St. Patrick's Day. But in Ireland the color was long considered to be unlucky, says Bridget Haggerty, author of The Traditional Irish Wedding and the Irish Culture and Customs Web site. As Haggerty explains, Irish folklore holds that green is the favorite color of the Good People (the proper name for faeries). They are likely to steal people, especially children, who wear too much of the color. Which is exactly why I dressed Zozo in purple today. She's got a bit o' the green, mind you, with her plastic shamrock beads and her green sequin shamrock pin, but there ain't no faeries gonna steal my wee Bug.

  • By law, pubs in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick's Day, a national religious holiday, as recently as the 1970s. Must be an American thing to take another nation's sacred religious holiday and get rip-roaring drunk on it. Next up: Cinco de Mayo! Before you know it we'll all be plowed for Chinese New Year.

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 34 million United States residents claim Irish ancestry, or nearly ten times the entire population of Ireland today, which stands at 3.9 million. Among U.S. ethnic groups, the number of Irish-Americans in the U.S. is second only to the number of German-Americans. Unlike most American mutts who claim Irish ancestry on this day, I can actually back it up. My grandmother's parents came over on the boat, making Grandma 100% Irish, Dad half Irish and me a quarter Irish. Which means O'Zozo is a whopping 1/8 Irish.

  • Since 1820, 4.8 million Irish have legally immigrated to the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The agency reports that only four countries—Germany, Italy, Mexico, and the United Kingdom—have sent more native-born residents to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Yup, my ancesters were 2 of those 4.8 million Irish. Dad and I visited the port of Cobh (pronounced "cove") when we went to Ireland, which is the port that 99% of them left from. It's humbling to stand in the place where you know your great grandparents stood, and wonder what they must have been feeling as they left the country of their birth. They probably could've used a Guinness.

  • Guinness stout, first brewed by Arthur Guinness in Dublin, Ireland, in 1759, has become synonymous with Ireland and Irish bars. According to the company's Web site, 1,883,200,000 (that's 1.9 billion) pints of Guinness are consumed around the world every year. M and I are, not suprising, responsible for some of this consumption. Mmmmm, Guinness.

  • Ireland is about 300 miles (480 kilometers) long and 200 miles (320 kilometers) wide. And it's great fun to drive through in a wee rented car. Just ask Dad. He had just gotten used to shifting with his right hand and whizzing through roundabouts when we had to come home. Think it's about time to go back, don't you, Dad?!

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all you Irish folk, and to the rest of you pretending to be Irish today!

Friday, March 14, 2008

What are the odds?

Holy crap.

I just logged into my on-line course because today is the first day we have access to our new course's content.

Yeah, that's a real mood-killer for the weekend.

This term, in BUSN 5760: Applied Business Statistics, I shall be learning things such as:
  1. Discrete Probability Distributions and Normal Probability
  2. Binomial Probability
  3. Central Limit Theorem
  4. Confidence Intervals for Means and Proportions
  5. Simple Linear Regression
  6. Chi Square Test of Independence
  7. Multiple Linear Regression
  8. Time Series Analysis with Smoothing and Seasonality
I've said it before and I'll say it again: maybe this MBA thing wasn't such a great idea after all. I pretty much gave up theorems when I left Rolla. And, you know, I didn't leave Rolla under the best circumstances. (Although I would like to clear up the common misperception that I "flunked out" of Rolla. I didn't. I chose to leave. Directly after some creative academic adjustments that included pulling college credits I earned at SLU in high school down to Rolla my last semester to keep me from going on academic probation. If that doesn't show an MBA mindset, I don't know what does.)

Here's the thing. I'm quite sure that in no point in my career will I need to use the Chi Square Test of Independence. I don't even know what it is yet, but I'm willing to bet cold, hard cash that I will never, ever use it again after this course.

I think that an MBA ought to consist of one simple question: Do you know how to hire people to handle all the stuff you don't know?

I consider myself a pretty bright person. I mean, I can figure most things out on my own given enough time and the resources to do it. What I pride myself on more than that, though, is that I have the ability to say, "Nope! Can't do that! Gotta get some help!" Which is really, I think, probably one of the more fundamental keys to success.

I mean, yeah, basic intelligence and perseverance and tenacity and all that other bullshit, yeah, that's important, too. But being able to understand that you don't know multiple linear regression from Tuesday, but there are people you can hire who that's smart.

You know, accounting was a little different because there were principles and ideas I could bring back to the spa. My work did benefit from that class. But statistics? I guess maybe I'll be able figure out the mean, median or mode of brazilian wax clients each month of the year, but really, do I need that? (I shudder to think of what my career will have morphed into if I do.)

Well, check in with me in nine weeks and we'll see. Who knows. Maybe I'll be all geeked out on statistics.

Gosh, I hope not. That would just be sad.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


What is the antonym of regret? Relief? Gratitude? I don't know. But I do know that whatever is the opposite of regret (anti-regret? regretless?) is what I'm feeling today.

Last June I started a photography project. This is a project that isn't for anyone but me. I don't even know if I'll ever post the photographs from it here. It's on-going, although to be honest I haven't worked on it for months. I think most long-term art projects are like that, though. I read in LensWork about people taking years to complete a portfolio, when they've gone to far-off distant lands to make images. "Wow," I used to think, "That's dedication."

Nope. It's called having a life outside of photography. You can't just do one thing all the time, unfortunately, no matter how much you like it. You work on it a bit, then do all the other things that make up your life, then you get back to it when you can (whether it's waiting for time or get back to it when you can).

So I worked on my project a few times, and have taken a break (i.e. gotten busy with other things), and I'm thinking it might be time to dig back into it. Especially now that we're going into spring and the weather will cooperate a bit more. It's a pain in the ass to lug around all your gear on top of a coat, gloves, hat, etc.

Every day on the way to work I pass by the site of my first shoot for my project. It's a small business in a little building, owned by the same man for many, many years, and by his father before him. It has intrigued me since I started driving on Manchester regularly, which was when we moved about, what, six years ago now, I guess.

Last June, after five years of driving by and wistfully thinking, "I'd love to make images there," I screwed up my courage, readied my gear, and introduced myself to the man. I asked him if I could make some images. Thankfully, he was very kind and agreed. And while I worked we talked. Or rather, he talked. And I listened. I am so, so grateful for his time and his willingness to let me work. He's the cutest little old man, just adorable.

I went back once more to make some more images, and listen to him again. Then things got busy and I haven't been back. I really need to return and give him some prints of what I shot.

A couple of months ago, driving to work, I noticed that the little building had plywood covering its windows. I was immediately alarmed. Had something happened to the man? From my car stopped at a red light, I frantically searched the building with my eyes. I saw his car parked there, and finally caught a glimpse of him, and then my light turned green and I drove on. Still wondering what was going on, but at least knowing he was okay. I called M when I got to work and told him what I saw. M knows everything about my project, after all. He reassured me that since I had seen the man, everything was probably okay. M is good at reassuring me, which is why I call him with all my goofball concerns.

The plywood has stayed up all this time, and I've seen him, and the man who works for him, on and off. They closed early the day we got all the snow, which wasn't suprising. I check every time I go by, just to make sure they're okay. Not that I could do anything if one day they weren't there, but still. I keep an eye out for them. (I could do something, I suppose...I know where the man lives - he told me during one of our long talks. He lives close by, between his business and my home.)

So today I drove past the business and the plywood was down. Or, rather, it had moved several feet inside the big glass windows on the front of the building. The windows are new, and there is a new door. It's the kind of door you get from Home Depot, from a big stack of doors that are all made of plastic and all look exactly the same. The windows are clean and shiny, and don't have the hand-painted letters spelling the name of the business. I can tell by where the plywood is positioned that much of the interior has been cleaned out. I saw the man working inside, moving the plywood around.

My heart broke, because the character of the little building, what made it stand out, what made it special and drew me to it to begin with, is gone.

And then I realized that it's not really gone, for it will always be in the photographs I made of the little building and the man. And I'm so, so glad I screwed up my courage last June and asked a total stranger if I could take pictures of him and his business.

So that's what I'm feeling this morning. Anti-regret. The whole notion of, "Whew! Glad you shot that so you're not kicking your own ass right now!" And awe, once again, at the power of photography to catch things that don't last forever.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Change I can admire

My very favorite magazine in the whole wide world, LensWork, just did something unthinkable for a magazine. And cemented itself as my very favorite magazine in the whole wide world for all time.

LensWork, wonder of all wonders, stopped newstand sales entirely.

Starting with the very next issue, you may now only purchase LensWork via subscription, or, if you still want to purchase them one at a time (which is not financially sound), via their virtual newstand.

The editor and publisher, Brooks Jensen, stated that 70% of all magazines produced end up as waste. 70%. Think about that. It's not just the trees that were felled for no reason, it's the ink and the glue necessary to print and bind them. It's the power required to run the printing presses, and the fuel used in the trucks needed to transport them all over the country (never mind all the noxious pollutants belched out by those trucks).

Although LensWork, granted, doesn't have the sort of circulation of most other publications (let's face it, pretty much only fine art photography junkies like me read it), it's still a step in the right direction.

Mr. Jensen explained that the reason magazines overpublish is because ad revenues are dependent on circulation. If you publish your magazine and send millions of copies across the nation, you can charge your advertisers for the millions of eyeballs that are supposedly looking at their ads. Apparently advertisers are unaware of the fact that 70% of those eyeballs don't exist, and the magazines end up in landfills.

I love to learn new things, and firmly believe that education is the first step towards change. Not that learning how the magazine publishing industry operates empowers me to change it, but at least I know more than I did yesterday and my commitment to cut the printed materials flowing through my mailbox has been reinspired.

Most of the catalogs have stopped, as well as the credit card offers. I whittled down my magazine subscriptions to just my two absolute favorites: LensWork and Real Simple. The former feeds my soul and the latter feeds the anal-retentive organizer that lives in my brain. Keeping both quiet is essential to my sanity.

What I haven't been able to figure out is how to stop the free mailers that have ads for the local markets, and the free newspapers that wind up cluttering my driveway. Both don't even make it into the house, landing directly in the recycle bin by the garage door. I think it's pointless to have to pick them up every week just to toss them in the recycle bin, but someone told me once there was no way to stop them.

Hmmmm. I like a challenge.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

3-2-1 Liftoff!

I'm still on the No-Britney-News wagon, which is good, and easy because there is so much real news to read: NY Gov. Spitzer is a complete idiot, all our drinking water is tainted with pharmaceuticals, another outbreak of violence in Iraq...on second thought, maybe I will go back to Britney. The world seems a lot safer when you're just reading about one person's personal spiral into hell.

Actually, a piece of good news today: space shuttle Endeavour launched early this morning. I continue, to this day, to be awed and amazed by the idea of humans venturing into space. There's a part of that dream from my childhood of wanting to be an astronaut that never went away.

M and I are watching a DVD series given him by his folks for Christmas called "From the Earth To the Moon." It's a Tom Hanks/HBO production that dramatizes the U.S.'s efforts to land a man on the moon in the tight timeline set forth by JFK. Knowing nothing about it, we popped in a DVD for the first time the other night. Now we're absolutely hooked.

If NASA called M some day and said, "Hey, we'd like to launch your butt into space. Wanna go?" he'd jump at the chance. I tell him I wouldn't let him go, because of the inherent dangers and all that. But, truth be told, I'd not only push him to go, I'd try to get a seat next to him. And if they didn't have a seat for me, I'd tell them about his penchant for motion sickness (he couldn't handle the Top Gun ride at King's Island, for Pete's sake) and reassure them that my stomach of steel is up for the flight.

Because, really, who wants to be strapped into a small space next to a guy who starts wretching? It's not fun. Trust me, I've been there (see Top Gun reference above). All you want to do is get as far away from Barfy as possible. I can't imagine how much worse it would be in a weightless environment. His "clean hurl" record would be demolished.

The boy claims he would load up on Dramamine, of course, but still. I think NASA would probably be better off sticking with someone who doesn't require little pills to get through the entire mission.

Besides, I have far more training than he does. I have a week's worth of SpaceCamp under my belt, after all, where I was Mission Specialist I for my flight and CapCom for my mission control stint. We only died about three or four times on my flight (turns out it's not so good re-entering the earth's atmosphere with your cargo bay doors open, and it's even worse to leave your payload specialist out there at the same time...hey, he was at least tethered). I learned from my mistakes, though, so feel I'm pretty ready for a real flight. I even ate me some french fries shaped like space shuttles in the SpaceCamp cafeteria.

I also have an understanding of space shuttle design that only one other person in the world has: Papa. I'm pretty sure that there isn't a single other person in the world who has put together an intricate model of the space shuttle with a hot glue gun. Papa didn't want me working with toxic model glue, so he got out his trusty glue gun and went to town. My space shuttle model had, let's call them "reinforcements," in the way of strings of glue that stretched from the wings to the fuselage.

I wonder if NASA still performs all the health checks on their astronaut candidates that they used to. If so, I'd say I'm still the better candidate. I've had my eyes fixed now, so that's no longer an issue (M still requires correction for his peepers, plus he's got that whole pars plinitis thing). I still have my appendix (M doesn't, having had his removed since it was in danger of, you know, bursting and all). I don't know that an appendix is required for space flight, but just for the sake of argument, let's say it is. He's had some issues with his ticker, and had to have his bum shoulder repaired. Right now he's nursing a sore neck, and God help the space program if he got a head cold up there. He'd have to take an entire wing of the international space station and create his weightless germ nest.

So all this adds up to the fact that I would be a better candidate for NASA to send to space. You know, if they ever decide to randomly call civilians and offer free rides. It's a good thing I have all my calls coming through my cell now. The NASA call isn't one I'd want to miss.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm Forrest freakin' Gump

I went running this morning. And not that stupid "power walking" bullshit that gives me shin splints and makes me look like an idiot. Nope. I was running.

Turns out that the broken foot isn't the problem. The problem is my now-shot cardio and my unwilling quads, which at this point in the morning are just starting to complain. This doesn't bode well for later today or, especially, tomorrow morning.

Still, I put in a little over 2 miles and it felt great. I felt like hopping off the treadmill and yelling, "I'm back, baby!" but I figured that the other early a.m. gym rats wouldn't appreciate that so I just got a drink from the water fountain instead.

M and I have been thoroughly enjoying our almost 2-week break between terms. I've gotten a lot of stuff done that's been bugging me, like cleaning out my closet and the guest bedroom, filing the backlog of investment statements that had been in a 3" thick pile next to the filing cabinet, and getting our taxes ready to go to the accountant.

Saturday was spent mostly hanging out with Stef, driving around the Lou and getting the lay of the land for her. We got lost very little, really, once going the wrong way on Grand and another time circling back through the Tower Grove area just to re-locate the Sonic (someone wanted a milkshake). I suppose I'm either quite easily amused or Stef is that great a person that simply driving around for a few hours is highly entertaining and a great time.

Saturday night M and I went to a trivia-night fundraiser for Tobacco Free Missouri. We're not involved with the organization but have friends who are, and they invited us and we're all about not developing lung cancer from other peoples' decision to light up their cancer sticks, so we went. We had a blast. How did we do? Let's just say we're beacons of mediocrity, landing squarely in the center after round 10.

Yours truly got to show her "Woo!"ing skills during the music round, when I was invited to stand and deliver the first "Woo!" in Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like a Woman." Turns out when you're singing along to the song and you don't know when they're going to stop the music, your "Woo!" can come out at the most inopportune time, which draws the emcee's attention and causes her to call you out in front of a giant room of people to repeat your "Woo!" during the answer portion.

I'm pretty sure it was another of those times where M shakes his head and thinks, "Holy crap, what did I get myself into?"

Zozer is talking non-stop these days, and testing us regularly. Her new favorite is to kick the seats in the car, which she knows drives her father absolutely batty. They have this discussion:

M: Zoe, don't kick the seats, please.
Z: No kick!
M: That's right, don't kick the seats. What happens when we kick the seats?
Z: Kick cookies, no fruit snacks!
M: That's right. So, since you kicked the seats today, you get no cookies or fruit snacks for dessert tonight, okay?
Z: Okay. No cookies. No fruit snacks. No kicking.

Then, later, after dinner, Zoe says this:
"Zoe kicked seats. No cookies! No fruit snacks! Ummmmm, how about...cupcake?! Please!"

I'm waiting for M to start running down the entire list of desserts next time Zoe kicks the seat. "No cookies, fruit snacks, pie, cake, cupcakes, ice cream, graham crackers, pudding..."

It's a good thing he's around, because when she turns those blue eyes on me and sweetly says, "Mommy? Zoe have ike meem (ice cream), please?" I just crumble. I'm a sucker for her sweet adorableness. And she already knows it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Accounting is DONE!



I'm not sure if I'm more excited about getting 100% on the final or finishing the freaking first course of our lovely MBA sojourn.

So, here are our final grades for the class, as estimated by M and his trusty Excel spreadsheet:
M: 99.73967006
A: 99.53660063

I'd say we nailed the A.

I'm now going to take the rest of the week off, and not give one single thought to income from continuing operations, minority interest in earnings of a subsidiary, or preferred dividend coverage ratio.

We hadn't planned on doing the final tonight, but after taking the last infuriating weekly quiz we both decided to just plow through and be done with the damn thing. The final was open-book and we were encouraged to discuss amongst our classmates, which is quite easy to do when you sit across your dining room table from one. We did our work independently, then compared answers. Out of 21 questions, we disagreed on only 3. After 10 minutes of discussion we came to agreements on all three, we triple-checked our entries and then on the count of three clicked "finish" at the same time. Which was rather anti-climactic as then we had to count to three again and say yes, we were sure we were ready to submit our answers.

Now, I'm tired, and I am going to go to bed with aforementioned classmate.

And tomorrow night, at the Blues game, I'm going to have a beer. Or five.

Monday, March 03, 2008

My butterfly

Zoe has developed favorites among her animals. She calls them her "babies" and carries them around, and they get special kisses at night before bed. Sometimes they go to Grandma Carol's with her and get carried around there, then brought home again at night. She's a very good little mother.

Her current babies are Hoot (of course, he's the standard baby), Heart (a little beanbag heart from V-Day that Papa Ray and Grandma Judy gave her), Butterfly (a stuffed butterfly from God knows where) and Other Butterfly (a smaller butterfly that's a wrist rattle from when she was a tiny baby when, ironically, she wanted nothing to do with it).

For the last week or so, Hoot, Heart, Butterfly and Other Butterfly have gone just about everywhere with the child. She fills up her little arms with all her babies and off she goes.

Then, last Tuesday night, tragedy struck. Other Butterfly was inadvertently misplaced. I knew it was in the house somewhere, and likely in the library, but it was already bedtime and Mommy was single-parenting it that week and has become very, very good in the art of deflection. "Mommy doesn't know where Other Butterfly is. Other Butterfly is hiding. Look! Let's read your favorite book! It's Corduroy!" We went to bed with 3 of our 4 babies' whereabouts known and although she was concerned, it wasn't the end of the world. Whew, I thought. That was easy.

Then, first thing next morning: "Mommy find Other Butterfly?" Oh. Shit.

Um, no, sweetie. Mommy did not find Other Butterfly. But Mommy now knows how to calculate diluted earnings per share, so it wasn't like Mommy was sitting on her butt eating bonbons after you went to bed.

We looked again that night to no avail. Then the next night, and the next. Yikes. Other Butterfly appeared to have flown the coop.

This weekend she asked again, so we recruited Daddy to help in the search. We looked under every chair cushion and every ottoman. We dumped out the toy box. M checked her little kitchen thoroughly, and I even looked in her wee pots and pans (Hoot has wound up in a Dutch oven in the microwave before, so hey, anything is possible). We checked her bedroom and ours. Zoe even helped in the hunt, going so far as to check the Puffs box on her nightstand. No such luck. Other Butterfly was still missing.

A short while later, the search was called off and we all moved on to other things (Mommy paying bills, Daddy fixing something or other, Zoe playing). As I was sitting at the dining room table Zoe ran in, stopping as soon as she saw me. Her whole little face was beaming and she pumped her little right fist triumphantly in the air, clutching Other Butterfly:


"Oh, my goodness, Zo! That's awesome! Daddy, look! Zoe found Other Butterfly!"

She danced around the dining room table, looking much like a butterfly herself.

"Zoe 'cited! Mommy 'cited! Daddy 'cited!" And it was true. We were all very excited that she finally found Other Butterfly.

"Zoe, where did you find Other Butterfly?"

"In Pooh car!"

Ah, yes. One of her favorite stash spots. Under the seat of her Winnie the Pooh car. Rookie mistake, Mommy. The Pooh car should be the first place checked. I won't make that mistake again.

Later that evening we got Zoe ready for bed. I searched the Pooh car and found Other Butterfly there again. And Hoot, Heart and Butterfly. The girl is consistent.