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Some of you may be looking for Faraday's Cage is Where You Put Schroedinger's Cat. I decided to separate my science and engineering blogging from my personal life (mostly). FCIWYPSC has moved to http://cherishthescientist.net.

That being said...

For those of you who may have come upon this journal while via some far off blog (like in wordpress or blogspot), feel free to comment using OpenID. I'm always interested in reading someone else's blog. I'm always happy to swap links, as well. You can either leave a comment here or email me from the Full Profile (Source Radiation) page.

The links up top are (translated, for those who don't speak geek):

Recent Transmissions - Recent Entries
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Quantum Universes - My Friends LJs and RSS Feed
Source Radiation - My Full Profile
Evanescent Waves - Personal Favorite Entries, usually about my kids

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Smoothie recipe

I make smoothies almost every day during summer. Usually we're getting sick of them about the time fall rolls around. I just wanted to post this here so that I could find it later (i.e. next summer):

2 cups ice
1 cup strawberries (usually about 8)
1/2 cup blueberries
1 1/2 - 2 bananas
1 scoop vanilla whey powder (Tara's Whey is gluten free)
6 oz plain yogurt
8 oz orange juice

Makes 3 servings

Per serving nutritional info:

Calories 250
Fat 2 g 15 cal
Carbohydrate 51 g 288 cal
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Protein 12 g 47 cal

Vitamin A 18.4 mcg 700.0 3
Vitamin A 222.1 IU -- --
Vitamin B6 0.32 mg 1.3 25
Vitamin B12 0.32 mcg 2.4 13
Vitamin C 72.6 mg 75.0 97
Vitamin D 0.0 5.0 0
Vitamin D 0.0 -- --
Vitamin E 0.57 mg 15.0 4
Vitamin E 0.85 IU -- --
Calcium 160.3 mg 1,000.0 16
Cholesterol 23.2 mg -- --
Copper 0.12 mg 0.9 13
Iron 0.89 mg 18.0 5
Magnesium 40.9 mg 320.0 13
Manganese 0.42 mg 1.8 23
Niacin 1.1 mg 14.0 8
Pant. Acid 0.79 mg 5.0 16
Phosphorus 121.4 mg 700.0 17
Potassium 642.2 mg 4,700.0 14
Riboflav 0.24 mg 1.1 22
Selenium 3.2 mcg 55.0 6
Sodium 61.2 mg 1,500.0 4
Thiamin 0.13 mg 1.1 12
Water 251.1 g -- --
Zinc 0.7 mg 8.0 9


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Compare and contrast

You know Highlights magazine...the kids' magazine that seems to be ubiquitous in doctor's offices? Each issue seems to have a 'compare' picture where you're supposed to find the differences in the picture.

We kind of had our own version of that yesterday. I have a 'picture frame' on my computer, and this picture of me from 18 months ago came up. It was truly awful to look at. I called Mike over to see, and younger son had to see what the excitement was about.

"That's a picture of me from a while ago. Do I look different?"
"What's different?"
"Well, your hair in that picture is blonde, and I don't like that. It's too golden. But your hair is really dirty blonde, which is the same as mine, and I like it better." (Mike and I are snickering at this point already. The reason I'd been coloring my hair is that it was coming in a gunky grey-brown prior to my celiacs diagnosis.)
"Okay...what else?"
"You're wearing earrings now, and you weren't then. Also, you went to Florida and have this really cool NASA shirt that you're wearing now."

He wandered off at that point...never mentioning the fact that I looked pale, puffy, and sick in the picture.

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Progress on the doggy front!

I took Rainier to get a bath yesterday.  He didn't enjoy it, but his coat looks a lot better.  I was primarily concerned with keeping things clean because of the skin infection (so I used the oatmeal shampoo and conditioner), but I was really surprised at how much better he looked.  After his first bath (just over a week ago), his coat felt greasy and was kind of a flat black and off-white.  Yesterday, he looked all glossy and clean, and his white seemed a lot brighter...or maybe it was just the contrast with a nice dark coat.  Not sure.  

I didn't dry him, though, because the groomer told me last week that he didn't like the dryer.  Not that I was expecting much, but I get the sense he wasn't bathed very often.  We'll have to fix that.  We walked home from the bath place and it mostly dried, except his legs.  I'll take him again next week as I don't expect the rash will be completely gone by then.  I think I'll try drying his legs, maybe start on getting him used to the dryer.  He's going to have a gorgeous coat when it comes in, but I imagine it'll be a bit of work to take care of it.  (I know fixed females coats are more prone to mats and stuff like that than unfixed females, but I don't know anything about males.)

We tried soaking his front feet in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water.  His right foot is still tender, and he didn't keep it in very long.  The left foot went better.  Hopefully this will help them to heal up as they're very inflamed between the metacarpal and toe pads.  I was wondering if he'd been hot and/or was digging for food a lot after his 'liberation'.  The groomer said she'd had to clean a ton of stuff out of his feet.

I was petting him yesterday afternoon while he was lying on the floor, and you won't believe what he did: he flipped on his side (almost on his back) and wanted a belly rub!  Seriously!  I think he was still not 100% sure about it, but he let me rub his belly for a while.  :-)

We're working on getting him to wait before he starts eating.  This is really hard for him, but he's starting to get it.  He's learned he has to stay seated, but once the bowl is on the floor, he wants to go for it.  On the up side, he seems to have no issues with food aggression at all.  I've taken away his bowl a couple times when he was in the middle of eating, and the only thing that happened was that he looked at me with those pleading eyes of his.  Yesterday morning, the cat decided he wanted to try some of the rice goop that Rainier was eating, so he stuck his head in and helped himself.  Rainier let him and just kept eating himself.  So not only is he okay with people taking his food, he's okay with cats taking his food.  (Ada hasn't tried it yet, though, so I have no idea what would happen if another dog tried.)

I think I need to work with him on some heeling, though.  He really has no idea where to go when we're walking.  He's incredibly alert to human body language, so he stops when I do, but if he gets ahead of me and can't see me, he'll start circling around me, which makes walking difficult.  I think he'll pick up on the heeling fairly quickly, though.

He still seems to have a strange relationship with Ada.  There are more 'corrections' going back and forth from each of them.  She plays too rough, and she's okay with his mounting to a certain point.  The humans are getting less freaked out when these corrections happen, which is good because there's usually 2 or 3 each day now.  But they still like to play together.

Rainier has started to run in short bursts, just a few steps each time.  I'm hoping this will improve once his feet are better and he's lost some weight.  I think he needs to lose 10-15 lbs.  He's got some serious neck rolls and I can't feel his ribs.  The good thing is that he really enjoys walks (comes running whenever I pull out the leash), so I think exercise will be an easy way to work on it.

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Disturbing things about Rainier

There are two things that really disturb me about Rainier.  

First, he obviously has no clue what "fetch" is. Ada and I play a variation of fetch that I like to call "fetch-tug".  I throw something, she brings it back, and then she want so play tug rather than give it back.  Probably not the healthiest habit to get her into, but she seems to enjoy it and the whole "drop it" thing just wasn't coming.  I'm assuming it's a maturity thing.  However, when we play this in front of Rainier, he seems to have no clue what the whole thing is about.  He just stands there and looks at us like, "What the hell is wrong with you two?"  I tried playing fetch with a rawhide.  He picked it up and brought it back but really didn't want to let go of it.  The second time, he didn't bring it back...went someplace else with it.

Second, belly rubs make him nervous.  I'm getting him to lie down and so I can rub his back.  Tonight, I nudged him over on his side, and started rubbing his belly.  When I do this with Ada, she gets SO happy and rolls completely on her back.  Rainier looked very nervous the whole time.  I think he took it as my attempt at dominance.  He never rolled onto his back and wouldn't look at me.  I think it must've felt pretty good (especially with the rash on his belly) or he wouldn't have let me do it.  He was definitely nervous the whole time, though.

Other interesting things: he let Ada jump on him, so I'm not sure if he's going to start backing down on being dominant.  She likes to go up and put her head on his neck.  It's very cute, but I'm sure it's a dominance play.  

I brought him for an evaluation at a doggy day care/boarding kennel, and he did great.  We have a trip planned soon, so he'll be able to stay at the kennel.  (Ada will have to stay with a friend since she's not fixed.  You can't fix dogs while you're showing them.)

I think Rainier is definitely younger, probably 5 or 6.  He's run a couple short bursts, but definitely seems reluctant to do much more than that.  Also, he tried to jump on me a couple times.  One was first thing after I let him out of the kennel this morning and then when I got home from work tonight.  I think it was excitement.  While I don't like being jumped on, I am happy that this means he's getting some energy back.  Also, his digestive issues seem to have settled down, and I'm transitioning him from the rice goop I made onto some Purina.  I decided I am going to put him on Acana after that simply because it'll be easier for me not having to do separate food for the dogs.  We gave the dogs bones tonight, so I hope that'll help his teeth...but I am worried it might bug his tummy again.

He's definitely coming out of his shell, but it's also apparent he needs more training.  I tried to do some training with him, and Ada came over and started showing him up.  I started having both of them execute commands, hoping he'd follow her lead.  Not sure how well that will work.  But I have to admit that doing that showed me how well trained she really is...she's just terribly impulsive yet.  I really wish we could get Rainier to lay down and stay while we're eating dinner.  His head is easily above table level, and this  makes it hard to block him...not an issue we have with Ada.

Anyway, the more I see of him, the more I wish he could talk and tell me what was going on.  The belly rub thing really got to me...

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Five days and counting...

When we were looking at getting a dog, I said there was no way we would start out with a rescue dog.  I was terrified that what we'd end up with was a 150 lb. monster whom I couldn't control but would've felt guilty sending back.  I therefore find it ironic that having one in my house has only underscored what a brat my own dog currently is...the dog that I have raised from a puppy who came directly from a reputable breeder.  Boy, I sure hope she grows out of this.

On that note...

Rainier's health is continuing to improve.  He's been on antibiotics for a day and a half, and his eyes have cleared up.  Hopefully his skin will soon, as well.  He sure loves it when I clean off his neck.  He leans over and presses his neck into my hand.  Ears are starting to look better, too.  I'm supposed to clean them twice per day as well as give him triotic ear solution.  He doesn't like me messing with his ears, though, and the other day, he ran and put his head in a corner.  He's getting more cooperative, though.

He doesn't like teeth brushing, so I've just been rubbing some doggie toothpaste onto his gums.  He seems okay with that.  Between that and the dentasticks, and perhaps improved diet, his breath is almost tolerable now.  His parasite screening came back negative, which is good.  His stools are still up and down but are overall much better than when we first got him.

His barking has stopped almost entirely.  After that first night, he hasn't really barked in the kennel at all during the night.  He does a bit when I put him in during the day, but Ada does it far more than he.

He and Ada are still working things out.  She loves to play chase.  He just likes to crawl on top of her.  There have been a few tense moments, but overall there's a lot more interaction and tail wagging than there used to be.  She's not sulking as much, but she's still very ornery about not eating out of a dish he's eaten from.

Rainier is still getting better with complying with commands.  He's got sit down very well along with "go home".  Down is still giving us a lot of trouble.  When we're eating dinner, Ada will come up and sniff, and she is told to lie down.  She does that until we're done eating, and then we usually give her a chunk of table food (usually the younger boy's leftovers) as a reward.  Rainier doesn't understand this yet, and even worse, he's tall enough that when he comes up to sniff the food, he can get his head almost a quarter of the way across the table.  This is probably our biggest problem area.  Otherwise, he just needs to learn some commands.

I take the two of them for walks in the morning, and this is where it becomes apparent what a pill my own dog is.  Rainier just generally walks along side me, keeping my pace. He may veer off to sniff at something, which I let him do.  When I tell him to go and start walking along, he stops whatever he's doing and quickly gets next to me again.  Ada, on the other hand, is a nightmare...and pretty much always has been.  She pulls, veers off, will bolt whenever she hears a strange noise, won't come away from an interesting smell unless I pretty much drag her.  Believe it or not, we've gone through about six obedience classes with this girl...and we still have these issues.

I think some of this is because she was the only dog.  She thinks she's boss and can do all this stuff.  I'm hoping that Rainier will have a positive effect and demonstrate how she ought to be behaving.


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One day with Rainier

If you read my other blog, you know that we took in a foster dog (another newfoundland).  Since he'll be a temporary boarder, I want to write down my observations of him.  I'm hoping this will be helpful in letting his adoptive family (when we find one) know what he's like and some of his more quirky behaviors.  I imagine I'll be posting frequently to begin with and it will taper off with time.

If you want the details...Collapse )


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Very pragmatic

I don't know if I posted this before (it happened a while ago), so I'm doing it now to make sure I don't forget.

When the younger son was being evaluated for occupational therapy, he was asked what he would buy if given $10.

"I would buy something that costs less than $10."

Can't beat that logic.

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I took the younger boy to the orthodontist today. While he was going through an examination and telling the tech what notes to make in his file, the younger boy pointed at one of his teeth.

"This one's D?"

The orthodontist looked surprised and said yes. They began a little conversation where the younger boy got to learn the 'names' of all his teeth. When they were done, the orthodontist gave me a very serious look and said, "You know he's pretty smart."

I guess I didn't think anything of his figuring things out...but then I'm not an orthodontist and don't have a frame of reference for determining what is normal and what is not in that context. From his reaction, I gather it's pretty infrequent when a 2nd grader figures out the code language he's speaking.

Younger boy and the orthodontist hit it off, so younger boy seems okay with the fact he's going to need braces for a few months.

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Younger boy in math

The younger boy is officially half-way through fourth grade math. We had him doing 20 minutes a day until about a month ago, and then we switched to 40 min per day (5 days per week). I decided to do this because it seemed like he'd finally get warmed up and make good progress and the program would quit on him. The funny thing is that his progress more than doubled. Not only was he better able to get into a groove, but he also retains it much better.

So we're fully expecting him to finish fourth grade math by the end of February and fifth grade math by the end of the year.

He has gotten upset that it's hard a couple times, saying he doesn't want to do it. He doesn't like it when he gets things wrong. I've had to sit down and say that, yes, it is hard. However, it's okay to get things wrong sometimes, and he really seems to have fun once he gets into it. He likes to figure things out, and you can tell he's proud of himself when he struggles through something and then finds the answer. I think this is helping him to work through some of his perfectionistic tendencies.

I'm very glad we talked the school into this arrangement. It's going far better than we expected.

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The way will open

I'm probably going to post a 'resolutions' post at my other blog, but I wanted to talk about something here.

A lot of stress this past year is going to lead to a lot of changes in the coming year. I'm hoping those changes are for the good, but you never can tell. This year has been pretty good by all accounts...and it seems like I have better odd-numbered years that even.

However, I've been dwelling a lot on the potential outcomes of all these circumstances. I keep asking myself what I should be doing because I really don't know. How do you prepare for the unknown.

Recently, a Quaker saying popped into my head: "The way will open."

In other words, when the time comes, I'll know what move to make or how to handle the situation. I just need to keep paying attention and stop worrying so much about things that are beyond my control.

I guess I'm inclined to believe that things happen for a reason, but it's not always apparent what that reason is at the time. I need to just keep in mind what's important to me and then make a decision when the time comes.

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Personality Patterns

This is courtesy of funnel101 and can be found at PsychCentral.

You are Passionate, Conscientious, and Intellectual.


You are in touch with your emotions, and sometimes you react before you think. The good news: you don't tamp down your feelings. The bad news: you sometimes say or do things that you later wish you could take back.
You do not live your life on an even keel; you do not go for long periods without experiencing some mood swings.


You feel it's important to work according to a plan and finish every task, to do things correctly and thoroughly.
You are not the kind of person who abandons a project before finishing it, or slacks off when you've lost interest.


You are thoughtful, rational, and comfortable in the world of ideas. People find you interesting to talk to. You're the living embodiment of the saying "You learn something new every day." In general, those with a high score on the "intellectual" trait are employed in such fields as teaching and research, and are enthusiastic about reading, foreign films, and classical music.
You do not avoid abstract conversation, experimenting with new ideas, or studying new things. It bores you to stick to the straight and narrow of what you already know.


You like to think a task through before you embark on it. If it's the slightest bit complicated, you make a list (even if it's only in your mind) and methodically work your way through it. When you have a goal in mind, you're not satisfied until you reach it.
You are not one of those people who ignore the details, and you don't understand how anyone can get anything accomplished without thoughtful planning ahead of time.


You are good at solving problems, coming up with original ideas, and seeing connections between things, connections that most other people miss. People with a high score on the "creative" trait often are employed in such fields as finance and scientific research, and enjoy avant garde and classical music as well as literary fiction and scholarly non-fiction.
You do not shun abstractions and concepts in favor of the concrete and tangible.


You have a knack for knowing what's going on in the hearts and minds of those around you, without their having to tell you explicitly. People tend to turn to you with their problems because they know you care, and that you will likely offer good advice and a helping hand.
You do not feel that people with sad stories are just looking for attention, or have brought their problems upon themselves.


You like to get to the bottom of things. You're not content knowing what someone did; you want to know why they did it.
You don't simply take things as they are and move on; you're not content skimming along on the surface; you don't feel you're wasting time by digging for the meaning of things.


You behave in a confident and forceful manner, take charge of the situation, raise your hand in class, stand up for what you think is right, and lead others. Among those who have a high score on the "assertive" trait, many have jobs in which they are valued for their organizational skills as well as their talent for supervising others.
You are not interested in fading into the woodwork, leaving everything to fate, taking more time than necessary to accomplish a task, or avoiding confrontation.


You are willing to take the time to find out what's going on with other people, especially if they're in distress. You're a good listener, you don't criticize, and you offer unbiased, respectful, honest advice when it's requested. With a high score on the "understanding" trait, it is likely that you are enthusiastic about charitable work, helping others, and making the world a better place.
You don't feel the need to impose your standards on others or say things that, even though true, cause pain.


You come up with a lot of ideas; if one doesn't work out, there's always another waiting in the wings. You often have interesting solutions to difficult problems. You're practically a one-person brainstorming session.
You are less interested changing the world than in dealing with things as they are. Unlike those who spend all their time trying to solve problems, you prefer to zero in on things that work and stick with them.

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Awesome eggbake/crustless quiche recipe


6 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
2 c. fresh spinach
4 oz. cooked breakfast sausage (~ 4 links)
1 c. shredded cheese (usually use colby jack or mild cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350°. Blend eggs, sour cream, milk, mustard, and pepper until smooth. Chop spinach coarsely and finely dice sausage. Mix spinach, sausage, and cheese into egg mixture. Pour into oiled pie plate. Bake 50 minutes. Serves 6-8.


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I am very disturbed...

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Ready to pull my hair out

Someone with whom I'm working and I had the following conversation:

OP (other person): Now we have A covered. What about B?
Me: Don't worry about that. I wrote that out for someone else. Just focus on B.
OP: But I can do B, too.
Me: You can if you want to, but you don't have to. I think the more important thing is getting A done.

A couple days later, we were meeting with someone else (whom I'll call IP for important person).
OP: We're planning on doing A and B.
IP: Are you sure? You know that we don't have the widget for B yet. Will that hold you up?
OP: No, getting the widget for A will be the difficult thing.

And what happened this morning, less than two weeks later?

OP starts complaining about how the widget for B isn't ready, which is holding him up, and then has the audacity to claim I TOLD him to do B.

I am amazed at how some smart people can be so dumb.


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Reading is boring

Last week, we pulled the younger boy out of school and stuck him in day care. There was a very obvious change in his behavior immediately. He was so much better behaved and happy.

This week, he started at the new school. He seems much happier there. He actually comes home and tells us what he did during the day.

We're still having one major conflict, though. He keeps refusing to read. And I am placing the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of the previous school.

By the end of kindergarten, we knew that he could read. He would only read to me, but he could read. We attributed this to his perfectionism issues: apparently he isn't as worried about making mistakes in front of me as everyone else. Strangely enough, his kindergarten teacher didn't seem perturbed by this: she just kept sending progressively more complicated books home and assuming we were getting him to read.

At the beginning of this school year, they started sending home books that were below the level he was reading at in kindergarten. They kept saying that he wasn't showing good comprehension. Honestly, I couldn't comprehend what was going on in most of these books. They were so worried about keeping certain sounds throughout the story that they apparently thought a plot wasn't important. They were confusing, and it was no wonder he couldn't figure out what was supposed to be happening.

We asked the school to PLEASE send more appropriate books. The teacher kept arguing with us about how he couldn't comprehend things. Finally, she gave in and started sending two books home. One was a phonics book (i.e. a nonsensical thing with pictures) and the other was a bit better...but usually not much. Mike and I opted to ignore the phonics book and get him reading the other books. Really, we have a bunch of Bob books at home that he already knew how to read. No reason to make him go through that again. (And the Bob books seemed to have a better way of setting up a story than some of these other books.)

Honestly, I would've been fine if they'd been sending home Captain Underpants books, just so long as the books were understandable and helping to learn how to read.

Now the new school is sending books home. These are definitely appropriate to his reading level. Interestingly enough, when we got the first one, there was a letter talking about how parents' feedback on how their child is reading is very important. We're supposed to let the teacher know if the books are either too advanced or too easy. This is a huge contrast, where the teachers were the experts and we were just supposed to play along and not make waves. And we're fortunate that the teacher set the reading level just at just the right level. He's a hair shy of chapter books right now and that's what the teacher sent home.

Getting him to read, however, has been difficult. He starts crying and saying that books are boring and he hates reading. After what they were sending home before, I'm not surprised at this reaction. In fact, he'd basically started to refuse to do any homework at all by the time we pulled him from the other school.

He won't listen to reason on this issue, so we took a different tack. We basically said that his new teacher likes him and wants to pick out books that are fun. I also said that I felt like the books he was getting from the old school really were boring. We told him that if he thought this book was boring, maybe he could ask his teacher if he could help pick out books that aren't boring.

That seemed to do the trick. He read the book, and better yet, he said he liked it. I imagine we're going to be struggling with this for a while, but at least we're making a bit of progress. And it helps that his teacher is apparently better at figuring out where he's at.

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Fart Beer

This weekend, we made our first batch of ginger ale. From scratch. It was going to be root beer, but that was a bit more involved.

The younger boy wanted to know how all the stuff works. Basically, there are four ingredients: water, sugar, flavoring (or extract, if you want to be fancy), and yeast. I explained that the yeast eats the sugar and then makes gas from it. He didn't understand exactly what that meant, so I said the yeast farted.

Oh boy. All I've been hearing about all weekend is farting yeast and how we made 'fart beer'. I'm betting the kids at school are getting an earful, too.

At least yeast farts aren't too malodorous.

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The exercise week in review

I'm getting back into my exercise routine, and I thought I'd try to update weekly on how it's going.

Goal #1: finish the half-marathon at the Fargo marathon in May. More to come after, but for now, that's what I'm setting my sights on.

I'm actually riding my bike as I'm writing this. This is usually late for me to be exercising (I prefer the morning), but I think this is a good sign.

See, I thought about skipping. But I didn't. I decided that I didn't care if it was 9:30, I was going to STICK with it.

So the good news is that I have done my exercise this week, the first week of the plan.

There is one but...

Part of my plan is to be doing some swimming. I have decided to put the swimming on the backburner due to lack of a cheap, easily accessible pool. I'm going to have to figure out what to do around April, but I figure this is one area where I can probably wait a bit.

So my plan is to ride bike 2x per week as if I were training to do a sprint tri in May as well as walk twice per week as if I were doing a half-iron. In reality, the actual goal is the half-marathon. I can't handle walking six days per week, like most half-marathon training plans recommend. I like cross-training. The goal is to finish, and that's all I'm worried about.

Week 1 is finished with 100% of biking and walking workouts complete. Woot!

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I woke up in the middle of the night, and in my half-awake stupor, I started thinking about ideas for a reality show. I determined that it should be about a dozen mimes fighting each other. Of course, being mimes, they aren't actually going to physically touch each other, so I guess it would be 'mime-fighting' or 'fake-fighting'. Anyway, last mime standing gets to go to the next round. I'm not sure if they'll have mimes passing out from fake blows or exhaustion first.


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Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is having a Merry Christmas.

I am now going to collapse into bed (after doing pretty much nothing all day) because I still have this cold and will be having a small crowd over for Christmas dinner tomorrow.

Also, the Kuchen baking should be happening tomorrow morning. Wish me luck.

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How not to have fun...

1 - Cram your entire work week into three days.
2 - On the fourth day, drive to another city.
3 - Day five, have a surgery. Make sure it's traumatic. Spend several hours driving back home.
4 - Spend the weekend in pain. Add in restless children to maximize distractions.
5 - Realize that school gets out three days earlier than you thought, so scramble for daycare.
6 - Get daycare for only half the week. (Although remember to have fun Christmas shopping with the kid.)
7 - Get a cold. Be terrified that every time you sneeze, you're going to reopen your surgery wound.
8 - Have a boatload of papers to read.
9 - Have a book chapter to review. Make sure it's already past its deadline.
10 - Have a boatload of meetings at work so that you have to be there. Make sure critical people don't show at one of the meetings so that you sit and wait and then end up rescheduling.

I have to admit that I thought things would be a bit easier without having a boatload of labs and exams to grade. Instead, we're starting a new project at work, I was asked to add on a second project (although I expect the time commitment to be fairly minimal), and then I had everything else like normal.

Still...even though I'm hopelessly behind, I know I'll catch up when I'm feeling better, and it's still much better than being in Minneapolis. However, I almost fell asleep driving yesterday (started drifting into the center turn lane), so I decided that today after my meeting, I'm going to come home and try to do some work from home...and rest if I need it. Don't want to be a bundle of ickiness this weekend with family here.

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My letter to the FDA

The FDA is accepting comments on the petition to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to 'corn sugar'. If you'd like to make comments to let the FDA know that you oppose changing the name of HFCS to "corn sugar". Click the "submit comment" button on the upper right.


This is my letter:

I am not representing any organization, but I am one of many people who suffers from fructose intolerance. I was initially diagnosed as having IBS, which afflicts approximately 10 percent of the world population. Recent research has indicated that up to half of IBS sufferers actually suffer from saccharide intolerance, including an intolerance to fructose.

I personally am extremely sensitive to fructose, and consumption of fructose, even naturally occurring fructose such as in fruit, leaves me very ill for the next 48-72 hours. This reaction is so severe that I am unable to leave my house and, in the past, has led to other serious side effects such as chronic dehydration resulting in kidney stones.

Consumption of high fructose corn syrup almost always causes a reaction. I have to choose carefully what I eat and, because of the prevalence of HFCS in processed foods, cannot eat out and must prepare most of my own foods from scratch. It is already extremely difficult to avoid HFCS. However, changing the name to corn sugar will only serve to make it more difficult to identify and avoid this already ubiquitous substance.

Please do not allow the name to be changed. There are many people like myself who rely on proper labeling in order to avoid adverse health effects caused by consumption of high fructose corn syrup.

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Assange again

Every time I go to read some news, I come across more and more about Wikileaks and Assange.

I have a lot of thoughts on the topic, but I think I can summarize them briefly:

1 - Assange is a jerk. He's a manipulator. But after reading the accounts of what happened with the two women in Sweden, I still don't know that he's a criminal. It sounds, by their own accounts, like the women are pissed off because he was a two-timing jerkoff. It's reprehensible, but not criminal.

2 - Assange being tried under the Espionage Act strikes me as the stupidest thing ever. Anyone with any familiarity of wartime history understands that he Espionage Act (and the accompanying Sedition Act, which was later repealed) has traditionally been used to shut people up who disagreed with government acts during wartime. In particular, it was used initially to throw socialists in jail, a response to the 'red scare' after the Bolsheviek Revolution. The act itself is an attempt to curtail freedom of speech and keep those in power from being questioned.

3 - I think Wikileaks is, in general, a good thing. I think that too many people are willing to hand over their critical thinking abilities to the government and never question that what it's doing is wrong. During the Bush (W) years, I was horrified at how American's rights were being suspended and the Constitution was followed only when convenient. The Patriot Act should have never happened, nor should Guantanamo, among other things. Despite Obama's statement that government needs to be more transparent, he's not delivering...perhaps realizing that those empowered by this arrangement, once entrenched, are loathe to give it up. I couldn't help but laugh at the commentary that Wikileaks is helping to keep Obama good on his promises.

4 - I am horrified by the continuing ignorance of constitutional and international values. Lieberman apparently has no clue about the notion of a free press (see here). And then there are the calls for the assassination of Assange. What about a trail to determine if he actually HAS broken any laws? Hague convention, anyone? And, of course, there are issues of things we are actually doing, being exposed by wikileaks, which are probably violations of the Geneva convention. All of these things need to come to light.

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Go Bug!

The younger boy dragged me to the kitchen table last night, babbling away about some game he'd come up with. After I sat down, I realized he wanted to play Go Fish! using some insect cards I'd bought years ago for the older boy. But since these were insects, he was calling it Go Bug!

Easy enough.

"Do you have a paper wasp?" he asked.

"Nope. Go bug! Do you have a carpenter ant?" I replied.

After three rounds, I realized something that should have been obvious.

Every card was different. These were identification cards, not playing cards. If we'd kept playing, we would have pulled all the cards and had no matches.

I'm thinking we'll try a different game tonight: learn about biological classification and identifying the correct order of the insect. I don't imagine it'll go over all that well, but you never know.

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Low carb clam chowder

I guess with the arrival of winter, I got a crazy idea while I was at the store that I wanted some clam chowder. When I lived in CA, I used to love the clam chowder they served at Hobbies restaurants, but that became a no-no when I had to watch my carb intake. I found the recipe along with one for low-carb clam chowder and put them together into this one. (Unfortunately, it's got a texture closer to chicken soup than traditional cream-based clam chowder, but it still tastes fantastic.)

I will warn you, however, that this is anything but low sodium.

I also suspect it would taste good with potatoes in it...but since it's low carb, I've never tried it.

So here goes:

Low carb New England clam chowder (3-4 servings)

3 tbsp. butter
5 pieces of bacon, diced
1 med. onion, diced
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. white pepper
2 cups chopped celery
1 bay leaf
2 - 6 oz. cans chopped clams
2 cups low sodium chicken broth or seafood stock (or you can use the liquid from the clams, but be aware it usually has boatloads of salt - just be sure to drain the clams if you're using the broth)
2 tbsp. fresh minced parsley
2 cups half and half (or heavy cream, if you really want to cut out the carbs)

Cook bacon in butter in a 3 qt. saucepan. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent. Add celery, thyme, oregano, basil, and white pepper. Cook until celery is softened...up to 45 min. (I usually add small amounts of plain water frequently at the step so that things don't stick to the pan and start to burn. It also seems to speed up the celery cooking.) Add clams, broth, bay leaf, and parsley, and simmer for 15 minutes. Lower heat and add cream while stirring. Continue to stir and heat to desired temperature but do not boil.


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Throwing out the training manual

Some of you may remember that I did a sprint triathlon four years ago after 8 weeks of training.

Ever since then, I've been dying to get back to it, but my body has not been cooperating, not to mention I haven't had the time, and then I keep injuring my knee.

A couple months ago, I got it in my head that I need to get back into it, so I have started training. When I initially trained, I used Eric Harr's book. I was considering using it again, but I wasn't sure I wanted to because I had some real problems with the training program. It's not that it's hard to follow...in fact, I think it's one of the easiest ones to use. However, I learned a lot from that experience that I decided meant I was going to have to come up with something different. I looked at all the free training programs on the net and decided none of them were suitable, either.

Some things I learned: I have a hard time exercising two days in a row. I simply cannot handle three days in a row. (The exception is bellydancing, which I seemed to do on my off days and be just fine, probably because it was a bit less intense and worked different muscle groups.) It's easier for me to do long periods of exercise less frequently than frequent small workouts. I really need to watch my heart rate so that I don't set off a flair of fibromyalgia.

What I decided to do was come up with my own program. I decided I would start very simple...three days a week, every other day. I'd start with small time frames (e.g. twenty minutes). I'd do two easier workouts during the week and then a harder one on the weekend and give myself two days to recover. After a while, I switched from 3x per week to simply every other day...so 7 workouts in the 2 week period. I also switched to two more intense workouts and one long, slow workout on the weekend. I'm going to keep working my way up, trying to get to the point where I do an easy workout one day, a hard or long workout the next day, and then have a day off. My schedule won't be based on a certain number of hours per week...it'll be something like a six day cycle instead.

The down side is that I'm just currently working on walking, but haven't incorporated swimming or biking into the mix. I'm working on racewalking as I don't think I can ever handle running.

It seems to be working so far. No overtraining or exhaustion or getting sick, which is what happened pretty often before, and I've been doing this for the same period that I trained for the triathlon. And I have definitely seen some improvements, which is always a good way to stay motivated.

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I've been reading about the rash of suicides that have occurred due to bullying as of late. In fact, it really got my attention when the North Dakota suicide occurred.

I think the most surprising thing about this is that people seem surprised. This isn't something new...both Mike and I have talked about our experiences being brutally teased and harassed in school. So I have seen it on a very personal level.

I've seen my son go through it. In fact, it got to the point where I had to go with him to the counselor and effectively complain about sexual harassment on the part of another student. Nothing happened to that student. The student reduced the bullying, but it never did stop. My son was often targeted in sixth grade to be picked on while the teachers turned their backs. When they started paying attention, the other kids would snap to and my son would be left steaming and frustrated. When he said something, he was the one that ended up in detention, not the other kids.

After that year of school, when he went into a full-time gifted program at a new school, he was so defensive that he would lash out at the teachers and other students. He thought they were all out to get him. It took him nearly a year to realize that the people at this school really did want to help him. Then he had another year where he was finally treated kindly and no one mistreated him because of his quirks. Were it not for those people's kindness and patience, I think he would be an angry and potentially violent kid.

Which makes me think of Columbine...have we forgotten that already? How many times have people talked about school shooters often being the victims of bullying and mistreatment?

When I have told people that I homeschool and they say kids ought to go to school for "proper socialization", I guffaw in their face. Are people just waking up to the fact that "proper socialization" usually entails some group of kids mistreating another group, and neither group has the emotional maturity or skills to deal with the problem? I'm sorry, but schools don't and generally can't do much about it, but it is rampant. It has always been a problem. It never stopped.

Primarily, however, I'm disgusted by the example being set by adults, by the media, by every place that tries to polarize people against each other. Our national conversation is one of anger and derision of anyone who disagrees with us. We can't compromise or try to see the other side. We can't respect that people have good reasons for their beliefs, even when they differ from ours.

We can't have a conversation where people respect differences of opinion or differences in people, so how can we expect our kids to?

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Feeling contemplative

I've had a lot of 'heavy stuff' going on in my head.

I'm not sure why, but I remembered something that happened a long time ago, when I was still a teenager. I became friends with someone via email. This friend actually was someone fairly important and stood up for me when other people were refusing to do so, even when they agreed with me. I decided meet this person, but due to a chronic illness, I would have to go meet him where he lived. I planned the trip, but a couple weeks before, I realized that my financial situation was more tight than I had thought it would be, so I cancelled the trip.

I didn't think too much of it, planned maybe to go a few months later if the situation improved. Unfortunately, less than a month after my planned trip would have been, this person passed away. I was in complete shock and still, to this day, am so disappointed that I never got to meet this brave person face-to-face.

At that point in my life, I decided to start looking at things a bit differently and began accumulating some thoughts about the 'right' way to live.

I've been pondering on this, and in the meantime, my friend Antoinette sent me a great video of a poem on being alone. I thought both might be worth sharing.


Be independent. Don't depend on other people. Accept help when others offer it with good intentions but not if they give with strings attached. Be a person they can depend on, even if they don't want to.

Never take your friends and loved ones for granted. Never hold back your feelings for them. Take every opportunity to let them know you care about them and appreciate their place in your life. Spend as much time with them as you can. You will regret missed opportunities later on.

Don't wait around for other people to do things. You miss out on a lot of wonderful experiences, and our fears about doing things alone are often unfounded.

Don't expect loved ones to easily let you know their feelings because a lot of people aren't very good at expressing them. Just know that caring for a person never goes unappreciated and take their words at face value.

There is an unlimited supply of love in the universe, and you're free to give out as much as you can. And you should!

Don't be too hard on yourself and don't hang around others who are negative about you or anyone else. You can't make everyone happy, but you should be honest with yourself and be the best person you know how to be. That doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement, though.

Never react to someone in anger. If you're angry, take some time to go away and think about it before you say something stupid.

A person will remember the way you treated them and talked to them for the rest of their life. Think about that every time you interact with them. This is especially important when this is your family and you'll be around them for many years.

Have goals in life, but be flexible. Having goals doesn't always mean reaching them, and failing to reach them doesn't reflect badly on you. The path toward the goal is a means to growing as a person, and that is important than reaching the goal. Sometimes, often times, those diversions away from the goal will make you a better person.


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Sometimes advertising can lead to some uncomfortable discussions in the car. For instance, I used to regularly drive past a topless bar in town. Shortly after the older boy started to read, we were driving past, and he asked what "waitress night" was. Umm...a night where the customers have to be very appreciative of the waitresses?

The younger one is in the same stage (reading everything in sight), and when we drove past Hooters today, he started talking about it. The older used to see a sign on a bus stop bench with the Hooters logo and a large owl. He asked to go a couple times. When I asked why, he said he wanted to see the owls. When the younger one started talking about it, the older one immediately asked if he wanted to see the owls and then snickered. The younger boy said no, there's no owls there. I asked how it got its name, and the younger boy said that the construction workers who built it decided to name it that.

After babbling on a little while, he suddenly piped up, "That Hooters is better than Mom's Hooters." Both the older boy and myself completely cracked up. After we'd finally stopped laughing, I asked him to explain. Apparently, that's a different restaurant (that he made up).

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I wasn't ever a big fan of Hitchens...

Despite that, I found the funniest comment in his most recent article in Vanity Fair on how he's dealing with cancer.

A different secular problem also occurs to me: what if I pulled through and the pious faction contentedly claimed that their prayers had been answered? That would somehow be irritating.

Just for the record, I think this is one of the very few times that I have agreed with everything he's said.

If you think that God gave cancer to Hitchens as punishment, then you should also believe that everyone who ever had cancer did so because they, too, were being punished. If you don't believe that it's punishment for everyone, just him, then I think that's your own hatred talking, not your religion. Frankly, I think anyone ever deserved to have cancer is speaking hateful things, regardless of who the person was or is.

The article highlights points out that what people are say or believe may very well contradict or violate their own belief system or represent ill will toward some. It's something that I think people should consider very carefully if they really want to be consistent in their beliefs. Maybe you may not like the source, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of truth in what he's saying.

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Homeschooling: Day 1

Woot! We made it. :-)

After the older boy's classes at the high school, I picked him up and we had lunch. Then we set to work. I talked to him about how we wanted to do his schedule. My goal was to have him work 1-5 or 5:30 and then he would either have the evenings free or have time to do homework in his other classes. His major classes are going to be English, US History, algebra with trig and chemistry (all of which are meant to be at college freshman level so he can take the CLEP exams), but we want to spend a small amount of time on handwriting and keyboarding skills. Since his concentration peaks later in the afternoon, we figured he should hit English and and US history first. Then he'll take a half-hour to work on handwriting or keyboarding, then finish up with chem or math. He had the option of doing more classes per day, but he said that he doesn't transition well, so too many changes would be hard on him. (Try telling that to his high school!) I'm glad he's aware enough to say that.

We have it worked out to do A weeks, where he does English, handwriting, and math on MWF and the other subjects on Tuesday and Thursday. Then he'll flip the following week.

We started with English. I am starting with a course from the Teaching Company called Building Great Sentences (or something like that). There's also a booklet that comes along with it, which has a couple questions. After that we'll do a very comprehensive grammar review, and then finally hit the freshman comp text that I picked up at NDSU.

He watched the first lecture and surprised me because he stopped to take notes. He actually sounded very interested in the topic and excitedly told me the gist of the lecture.

Handwriting is handwriting. The kid has major problems because while he was young, he refused to learn the mechanics of it choosing instead just to get the visual correct. So how he's fighting the tendency to start with upward pencil strokes. He can write neatly, but it takes some serious effort. To break him of it, I'm teaching him cursive. Fortunately, we're at a point where he understands how important it is for his handwriting to be legible...probably because he's gotten comments about how it looks like something a little kid would write.

We're using Aleks for both math and chemistry. He used that at his old school for algebra I and geometry. I really like it because it seems to do a good job of assessing things regularly and breaks things down into reasonable chunks. It's great for working independently. This always starts out with an assessment, which he worked on yesterday for algebra.

Mike has said that, as far as he's concerned, once the boy has finished college algebra, he's done with math, if he wants to be. I kind of wish he'd keep going, but realistically, he wants to do something in English and it's a waste of time to put him through four more years of math when he only needs one.

The nice thing about this schedule is that we basically set a timer for the end of a period. If he wants to finish things up, he can, or if he's ready to pack it in, he can. I think we both like that sort of flexibility.

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Official end of summer

We had a last hurrah this weekend. Tomorrow the older boy will begin homeschooling and the younger first grade. Supplies have been purchased and are lying in wait in backpacks.

In a twisted up way, things ended up working out for the older boy's high school classes. He decided to take both semesters of the computer applications class. He said learning more powerpoint and Excel was probably a useful thing, and the second semester would cover Access, so he'd get some experience with databases.

It turns out that half of the second semester covers web design as well. So he'll get to have some web design after all, and he won't have to do it through independent study. Despite all my fretting, he will get some useful skills as well as the stuff he wanted. His first couple days went well.

He got Friday off, however, as we went to the Minnesota State Fair to see Rush in concert. It was a great concert, although I was slightly dismayed by the fact that I am extremely vertically challenged and the people in front of me were...not. (Funny comment of the evening: Friend who was standing next to me, and is significantly taller, said he'd never seen Alex wearing a plaid shirt when they came out on stage. Then he looked at me and commented that I still hadn't.) There was sampling of some unique fair food. We also took some time to veg over the weekend, especially indulging in the hotel's hot tub and some excellent Chinese food. We normally run a million miles per hour on vacation, but we really tried to avoid doing that this time. Hopefully we're all rested up and prepared for the school year to begin.

But I am very anxious. I am always anxious at the beginning of the school year as I never know how soon crises will start popping up and, now that the younger boy is officially in school, which child may be the first to have one. I am hoping that maybe I will have a nice, anomalous year, and everything will flow smoothly. Not counting on it, though.

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Here we go...

What a case of bad timing. The younger boy's school, which also happens to be his daycare, closes the week before school starts.

So right when I have deadlines at work, a chapter to finish, and background material on dissertation stuff to read, I am home full-time with the world's most hyper six-year-old. After listening to him talk for an hour solid, my poor brain has gone into shut down, and I'm falling into the mindless nodding and agreeing one does when it's obvious that nothing can stop the verbal onslaught.

I think if I took the Myers-Briggs test, my I would jump to about 99%. :-P

I love my children, but how in the world can they talk that much? Older boy was the same way at this age. All he ever talked about was Lego Bionicles. How long can someone go on about them? In his case, about 3 years solid.

But the older boy, who is no longer such a talk box, came back today. It was nice to have some almost grown-up conversation and someone with whom to share those "What the heck is he talking about?!" stares.

Unfortunately, I had to turn about to the older boy and talk incessantly for a while. After dinner, we went through the eighty million forms that the school sent home for us to go through. He did say that he might be willing to try the computer applications class or another class. We'll see if one of them sits next to his German class. Then we went through what we're doing at home. He seems reasonably enthusiastic about the idea of CLEPing a bunch of his courses. We discussed that doing this would either be a good foundation for going to a big name school or help him get done with classes if he went to a state school.

He admitted he'd been thinking a bit about college and said he'd probably rather go to a state school either here or an adjacent state.

Can I just admit that I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he said that? I realize that's not the final word, but I have had terrible anxiety about what might happen if he decided he wanted to go to a high-powered school and discovered what a pressure cooker it can be. I really don't think he needs to go through that.

Yeah: I'm so stupid that if my kid got accepted to Harvard or some place similar, I would tell him not to go because it really isn't worth it. I think he'd meet a lot of cool people there, but I also think he'd run into a lot of things that suck for no good reason. Maybe I'm wrong, but then again, I'd also tell him that there's a good chance I'd be wrong and he should go where ever it is he really wants to go. Really, it's up to him. But I let him know that if he wants to go there, he's going to have to start working for it now.

Back on track, my goal is to have him take English Comp, US History I and II, and Chemistry by the end of the year. I'm going to set him up to do math using the program they used at his old school. And then he'll have a course or two and possibly lunch at the high school. :-)

I am a bit amused because Dean Dad wrote a post talking about whether faculty from other departments should be able to teach certain courses in related fields. I have been giggling wondering if I'm going to be okay teaching a series of varied freshman level courses to my own kid...and if he does well, maybe I could go pro. Not really, but this is the best solution I can come up with to make sure that the older boy is getting a good education and that I have indisputable proof of such.

So tomorrow he starts high school...

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Good for you...

Do you know what is uber-frustrating? Trying to rethink the way you eat because you have always been told that certain foods are "good for you" and you should eat a lot of those foods.

I get such incredulous looks when I try to explain that many "healthy" foods are actually horrible for me. It's really hard for people to understand that fruit is one of the absolute worst things I can eat. Next up is stuff with a sweetener that is anything other than plain sugar and certain vegetables. And then we go to the grains.

If I had to be a vegan, I would starve to death.

For most of the past six years, I've been trying to deal with the constant upset stomach by having things like bread or applesauce. The last thing I want to eat when I feel that way is spinach, for instance. But it's those foods that have been helping me to feel better.

It's funny that now that I'm finding out what's been causing all this shrek, if i can force myself to eat things like spinach and some chicken or steak, my stomach will feel better. I don't enjoy eating it at first, but it gets better quickly. The thing I do have to be concerned about is feeling full. Ironically, if I feel that way, it's usually a sign that I've eaten something that doesn't agree with me and that's my body's way of letting me know. Unfortunately, it's also usually after-the-fact, so I will end up being sick later.

I'm starting to feel like everything I've been told about 'healthy eating' was a big lie. Except the cake. That's still not a good idea.

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More high school stuff...

A couple of you mentioned community colleges in my other post about the older boy going to high school. We don't have any 'community colleges', but there are two 'tech schools' which offer classes locally. Neither will take a student who does not have a high school diploma or GED. There is a four-year religious college and two universities locally. The universities will take early entry students. Don't know if the religious college does, but there's no way I can afford the tuition. I'm looking into getting the boy admitted to the early entry program at NDSU, but he needs to take his SAT first, which will happen this fall.

But really, the big problem is that the older boy wants to go to high school and be around people his own age. He doesn't want to go to college. He seems to think that somehow, he can do things so that he'll fit in and his teachers will be okay with him. In the two years he was at his other school, he's forgotten how nasty they were to him. He seems to be blaming everything on the school psychologist. (Whom he nicknamed the "psychopath"ologist.)

I have tried to tell him that I took college classes and that the college students were far nicer to me than my fellow classmates were. My profs seemed to be more helpful and encouraging than my high school teachers. This is one of those things that's coming from me, however, so I think he doesn't believe it...or thinks I don't know what I'm talking about.

As far as the web design class goes, I have decided not to push the issue and am going to let him take it through independent study. I don't know how things are going to go with him in school, and I don't want to push to get him into a class only to find that he decides he's not happy with it and starts acting out...or does remember how bad it is and ends up dropping.

I am amused, though, that I'm getting calls from the school to remind me that he needs to pick up his schedule before school starts on Wednesday. He's getting back tomorrow, and we already arranged for him to take care of those things on Wednesday morning. Still, the calls are coming.

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Breakfast discussion

The younger boy found a book I bought for the older boy called "Life in the Universe". While he was looking through it over breakfast, he asked if stars really shoot. I think he was relieved to hear that they did not, but that shooting stars are actually meteors burning up as they enter Earth's atmosphere. "And those are the same ones we make wishes on?" Yep.

Later on, we ended up in a discussion about telescopes. There was a picture of a radio telescope, so we ended up explaining how light has different wavelengths (I explained it in terms of how fast the photons jiggle) and how we can only see some photons...which led to an explanation of the electromagnetic spectrum. (Yay, Google!)

All this discussion made the younger boy get very excited. He was quite animated when asking questions, trying to make sure he understood what we were talking about.

Mike made a point: how can people say that understanding how things work takes away the mystery? Just because I know how something works makes it no less fascinating or even exciting for me, and not knowing can be frustrating until I figure it out. All I can figure is that some people are more confused by the answer, which is why they prefer not knowing.

On the more practical side, it seems the younger boy has the basic concept of multiplication down. He has decided he wants to be a film-maker, and he said he needs to make enough movies to have 66 scenes. Each movie is supposed to have six scenes, so he asked his dad, "Dad, how many times does 6 go into 66?" Mike responded eleven. "That means I need 11 movies to fit all 66 scenes!" Then he wondered how many sixes he would need if he already had three and figured out he'd need 8.

I'm rather surprised by this. First, he seems to have a good handle on the fact that multiplication is really addition or subtraction of groups of the same size. Second, he seems to understand how it can be applied to a real problem and that it's not just an exercise in numbers.

I have the feeling first grade is going to be interesting. :-)

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Political facepalm

On the way back from Minneapolis this weekend, Mike and I saw a billboard that said, "Tired of jobs leaving for North Dakota? Vote Emmer!"

I looked up this guy. He's a republican running for MN governor. One of his biggest complaints is that MN's largest employers are the state and the university system.

I don't know where he's going with this because the largest employer in ND is NDSU. UND is like the 3rd or 4th.

And last time I checked, it's not like we've had a huge influx of people from MN. Even with all the oil activity in the western part of the state, my understanding is that they still can't get the people out there that they need because people don't want to live in rural ND.

Based on that alone, I'm not sure the guy has done his homework...

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Why physicists should not be parents.

Mike keeps saying that I remind him of the dad from Calvin and Hobbes. I suppose tonight's conversation with the younger boy didn't help:

YB: "Mom, did you know that we live in a giant web and it's invisible? And dragons and aliens live on other planets!"

Me: "Actually, we're floating in neutrino soup."

YB: "Is that the web?"

Me: "Pretty much. And dragons live in Calabi-Yau spaces."

YB: *pause* "What about the aliens?"

Me: "They live in different Calabi-Yau spaces than the dragons."

YB: "I knew it!"

Poor kid is going to be so messed up as an adult.

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Why would anyone want to go to high school?

I went to the high school to sign the older boy up for the two classes he wanted.

They won't let him take one because it's not on the list of approved freshmen classes.


It's a web design course. They said he could take a 'computer technology course', which teaches you how to use Word, PowerPoint and Excel. He's been using Word since he was 7 and spent the last two years giving presentations on all his work at the previous school in PowerPoint. I declined.

I guess the whole thing was horrible for me because his high school counselor is the same one I had in high school.

The one who wouldn't let me take geometry with algebra because supposedly they're sequential. The one who didn't want me to sign up for so many AP classes. The one who told me and my parents that I shouldn't try early admission to the college because "I was going to burn out." The one who made it impossible for me to get calc before I showed up at Caltech.

I wanted to say, "Forget it." I'll see what the boy wants to do, but I'm going to tell him he can take it independent study if he wants or, if he'd prefer, he can sign up for one of the other "approved" classes at the high school. One or the other, but not both because I don't want him overloaded. I want him to have time for his books and writing.

Oh yes...and I was asked again about the paperwork for homeschooling (which is none of their concern...I deal with the district for that) and there was the comment made that it might be easier if I weren't so set on homeschooling.

Easier how? Maybe it's easier on them and even me, but he still won't get to take the design class.

Personally, I'd prefer that he just drop out of high school and go entirely with homeschooling. I know that's pushing my bad feelings about the place on him, but I really hate the idea of dealing with all these people who are so rule-bound that they fail to recognize what's best for the kids, especially when it happens to be my kid.

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I love conversations with six-year-olds

We had a pretty spectacular show of rainbows this evening as a bunch of showers passed through. The younger boy was musing how we'd seen a rainbow in western ND earlier this summer. He said, "I knew it! The rainbow started there and ends in Fargo!"

A few minutes later:
Younger son (YS): Ow! Ow!
Me: What's wrong?
YS: The back of my neck hurts.
Me: Why?
YS: Because there's gum stuck to it.
Me: Why did you do that?
YS: Because I wanted to see what it would do.

I'm not sure what he thought it would do. We spent about an hour using vinegar to rub it out of the peach fuzz on the back of his neck, which was pretty red by the time we finished.

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