Sunday, July 27, 2008


Well, it's been a pretty good weekend.

The Irish Woman went through her stuff in the basement and repeated the amount I got rid of last week. I helped out with the heavy lifting. She found some of her baby pictures, and it's amazing how much Baby Bear looks like both of us.

Our peach tree finally ripened its fruit, so I picked it all on Saturday night. After blanching, quartering, and mixing with a light syrup we made, we got 6 quarts of peaches to freeze for later and enough left over for a peach cobbler tomorrow night.

I actually got a couple of hours to myself this afternoon when the Irish Woman took Baby Bear to a baby shower. I took an uninterrupted nap, and then practiced with my bow. Only a few more weeks until bow season starts, and I want to be sure that I hit what I'm aiming at.

Oh, and the countdown has started. 7 days to the return of football! Go Raiders! Go Vikings! Go Redskins!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Out with the old....

Well, this afternoon I broke down and cleaned out the storage area in the basement. I've been holding onto some old furniture and stuff from before the Irish Woman and I got together. I threw out three boxes of VHS tapes (do I even own a VCR anymore?), most of the furniture, and a lot of old junk that I've been dragging around for who knows how long.

I find I need to clean out my clutter every so often or it takes over. Having Baby Bear made me look around at my life and realize just how much cruft I'd allowed to build up, both physically and mentally. Over the past 3 months I've gotten rid of a lot of excess baggage, gotten a handle on my workload at the job, and cleaned out a lot of closets. I've had 3 weeks of vacation to spend with the kids and relax, and I've been able to breathe and prioritize a bit.

I haven't done something like this in a long time, and it shows. But I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff, I'm feeling better, and I'm happier.

Monday, July 21, 2008


This was a great weekend.

Saturday morning we all went blueberry picking. We got there at 9 AM and it was really nice out. There were a lot of people out filling buckets, and we had a good time picking and talking to the other families that were there. Baby Bear took a nap for the most part, and Girlie Bear had a good time filling up her own bucket.

There was a family one row over from us with two toddlers. I hope they did a before and after comparison of the kids' weight at the check-in stand, because these kids were purple from all of the berries they had tasted. They were enjoying playing hide and seek in the bushes, and it was a lot of fun to see and hear them. It's what we have to look forward to when Baby Bear gets to that age.

We got about 20 pounds of blueberries picked by 10, and then the sun came up over the knobs.

The temperature immediately went up almost 15 degrees, and it became a great day to spend some time in the air conditioning. Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky have really nice springs and falls, but when summer really kicks in around here, it becomes nasty quickly.

We checked out and headed back to town. On the way back, we stopped to see family in Indiana. We had a good afternoon with them and I was asked to go fishing that evening at a place I'd heard of and never been to.

Went home, took a nap with Baby Bear. You know, there's nothing better than feeling a baby fall asleep on your chest.

Went fishing from about 6 PM Saturday until 2 AM on Sunday. Didn't land anything, but had a really good time. I got to use a bunch of tackle for bass and bluegill that I'd never tried, and I'm planning a trip to Bass Pro for some additions to my tackle box. My partner only landed 4 or 5 small bass, and that was only just as the sun went down. He's one of the best fishermen I've ever known, and he normally gets enough fish to fill his stringer. We got bites all evening long, but nothing was that interested in our lures and bait.

The water temperature was probably the problem. This lake goes to about 30 feet deep, the water temperature at the surface was 86 to 88 degrees. Everything seemed to go deep and stay still all evening long.

Even though they weren't biting, it was a great evening. We were far enough out of town that there were no lights, and we got to see more stars than I've seen in a long time. Lots of other wildlife came down to the lake after dark, and we saw raccoons, deer, and opossums. Lots of birds were active, including whipporwills. We even saw bats in the moonlight.

Sunday, the Irish Woman let me sleep in until 11 AM, and I woke up to hot coffee and blueberry pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup. Got to love a wife who knows how to cook.

Spent the rest of the day puttering around the house and having fun with Girlie Bear.

What a great way to spend my last weekend of vacation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

iPhone fanboyishness

OK, I'm an Apple fanboy. I've been using Apples and Macs since I was in grade school, and I've always loved them.

I wanted to get an iPhone last year, but I just couldn't justify the cost. I may be a geek, but I'm also a dad with a mortgage. I fretted about it for a year, and then heard that a new iPhone was coming out at a reduced cost.

So last Friday, Baby Bear and I went to an AT&T store out in one of the outlying towns to get in line at about 6:30 AM. I wanted to go to the Apple store at the mall, but the line was out the door and around the block. Not a scene for a geek with a baby. When I got to the store, there were only 4 people in front of me in line, so I knew they wouldn't sell out before I got in.

When they opened at 8, there were about 30 people in line. The store manager went down the line to make sure people knew what they were going to get, and was honest when he had accounted for all of the cheaper 8GB models. Several people left the line when they found out that all that would be left for them would be the 16GB model.

I got the 8GB model, and had absolutely no problems getting activated. I attribute that to being one of the first to get into the system. My gut tells me a lot of their problems later in the day were related to scalability on their servers when everybody in the Eastern time zone tried to get in all at once.

Overall, I'm very happy with my iPhone. The 8 GB size is big enough for the music that I like to have with me. I'll still carry my 80GB iPod that has all of my movies, podcasts, and music, but the phone will be good to have for situations where I don't have the iPod.


The GPS function seems to work pretty well, and the 3G network works about as quickly as the air card I use on my work laptop. Getting onto my home wireless network went smooth as silk. Syncing to the phone from my Mac was as easy as it gets. I like the easy use of the App Store, although I can tell that only apps that Apple approves of will be available through this conduit.


Battery life is a concern. I spent a lot of time on Friday playing around with it, and the batter drained after a few hours. When I plugged in the car charger I purchased for my iPod, the iPhone spat it out. I got a messages saying that the charger wouldn't work with the iPhone. I ended up spending another $25 at the store for another charger. I've had a couple of lockups, but nothing horrendous. Since the only browser is Safari, occasionally I'll go to a website that doesn't work too well. And of course, Flash content doesn't work.

Overall, I'm very happy. I'm glad I waited until version 2.0 came out.

The continuing adventures of Gopher Girl

We noticed this morning that the smaller pond was down a few inches. We let it go until this evening, and after dinner Gopher Girl climbed into her pond to find out what is going on. Seems that some of the creek rock had torn small holes in the new liner, so she had to patch it.

In true redneck form, it wasn't patched with a real patch kit. It was done with a piece of scrap liner and Gorilla Glue.

Here's hoping it holds. Nothing ignites Gopher Girl like a leak that won't stay fixed.

Day at the Zoo

This morning Girlie Bear, Little Bear, and Baby Bear took me to the zoo. This is one of our favorite things to do when the weather is nice.

The Louisville Zoo is pretty much evenly divided between an African side and an Islands side. Each of these sides wends its way down the side of a ridge, with a cafe and splash park at the bottom of the ridge. It's really convenient that the park is where it is, because you can walk half the zoo, have lunch, either picnic or cafe, then let the kids play in the water for a while to cool off before conquering the hill up to the rest of the zoo.

The kids had a really great time, and I enjoyed being outdoors with them. It's finally getting hot here, so we went early. The weather was OK, not too hot and sticky, until about mid-day when the wind quit. Then we started to fry.

Today we went down the Islands side of the zoo, and had a look at the tigers and such. The kids really enjoy going through the herpaquarium and seeing all of the reptiles and birds. They especially enjoyed the vampire bats, but they're at the age when gross things are fun.

Had lunch at the cafe and then the two older kids went for a splash while I gave the baby his lunch. It was pretty crowded, but not too bad.

When it was time to move on, it was really getting hot, so we decided to skip the other half of the zoo and come back some other time. Of course, this meant a trip on the train or the tram up the hill, which was enjoyed by all.

Overall, a really great morning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fresh corn, anyone?

Girlie Bear, Baby Bear, and I went to a local produce farm this morning to buy some stuff. I was hoping they'd have blackberries for picking, but no luck. We did get some really nice squash and zucchini for dinner tonight, and about a bushel of sweet corn that was picked early this morning.

There's something wonderful about the smell of freshly picked corn. Reminds me a lot of my Grandmother's house in North Dakota. She always had fresh produce from her garden and the local farms in the summer, and would spend weeks canning in July, August, and September. I honestly can never remember Grandma buying actual food at a grocery store, just dry goods that she couldn't grow herself. Her freezer was kept stocked with deer, fish, and pork from her multitude of grandkids, and she lived off of that and the canned fruit and vegetables.

Anyhoo, Girlie Bear will be shucking herself a bushel of corn this afternoon, which will then be blanched, cut, and put in the freezer for later this year. With the cost of food going up as much as it has, the Irish Woman and I have decided to put back as much meat and produce as we can while it's still fresh and cheap. I'll keep back a few ears for dinner tomorrow night, and a good time will be had by all.

Gee, you think?

The AP has published a story about how Senator Obama has decided it was a bad idea to let his kids participate in an interview with a gossip show.

Step 1 - Allow yourself and your wife to be interviewed by Access Hollywood so that your "human" side can be seen by your adoring public, as if the frothing at the mouth crowd needed any more reason to love you.

Step 2 - Let the reporters get to know your kids.

Step 3 - Let the reporters tape the interview with the kids in the shot.

Step 4 - Let the reporters put microphones on the tots and ask them questions.

Step 5 - After the interview has aired, express regret for allowing your kids to be used as a cute distraction to the fact that you're a vacuous excuse for a human being.

Step 6 - Profit!

I wonder what his next trick will be, maybe letting them spend the weekend over at Britney's so that TMZ will get some shots on their front page?

Just one more reason that I'd vote for a yellow dog before I'd vote for Obama.

Monday, July 14, 2008

NBC, Please make up your mind

I was watching the Today Show last week, and they were all ga-ga over the new pictures of Jamie Lynn Spears' new baby. I personally don't think that showing glamorous pictures of an unmarried teenage mother with no education and no job on national television is such a good idea. Let her raise her child and get out of the spotlight. I also almost barfed when the "reporter" on the segment mentioned how her mother, Lynne Spears, raised her in a traditional household. Yeah, traditional in the "let my teenage daughter dress up like a street walker and dance on TV" sense. Puhlease.

But I held my craw down and went on with my morning rituals while I waited for the real news to come on.

A few moments later, Today did a segment on the new NBC program called "The Baby Borrowers" in which teenage couples are given the responsibility of caring for children in different stages of development. The producer was on to defend the show as a social experiment which tries to convince teenagers in general how difficult it is to raise a family, especially at a young age. I'm not a fan of the show, but the Irish Woman is intrigued by it, so I've seen one episode. Some of the kids do really well, and most of them really try to do the best they can. Some are real train wrecks, and it's sad to watch them.

I don't agree with the idea of letting young strangers be responsible for your children, but I agree with the message.

But it occured to me that NBC was sending mixed signals here. In one breath, they were talking about how beautiful it is that an underage girl can have a baby, and in the next they're trumpeting a show that's ostensibly designed to prevent teenage parenting.

So which is it, or do they not have an agenda at all? Are they caught in a moral quandary where they want to coo over a baby while at the same time trying to prevent identical situations from happening, or is this a case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing?

I dropped an email to the NBC ombudsman, but no answer so far. I'll not hold my breath.

Monday, July 7, 2008


OK, here we go. As I stated earlier, I'm a Republican. I'm not arch-conservative about most things, but I tend to agree with the GOP than I do with the Democrats.

This year, John McCain is the nominee of my party. Senator McCain was my senator when I lived in Arizona, and I've had a few chances to listen to him speak. Overall, I agree with what he has to say. Yes, he tries to work with the Democrats, and he doesn't toe the party line each and every time. That's a real reason I like him. I'm not interested in electing another party drone idealogue who has to have it his way or no way.

That being said, he still has to earn my vote.

I know he's very good on defense, but what about economics? I saw a headline that he's promising to balance the budget in his first four years, so I want to see details on how he's going to do that.

What is he going to do about shrinking the footprint of the federal government? He's always seemed to be anti-pork in the past, but what specific cuts will he try to get through Congress in order to limit government and cut the budget?

He says he's for the individual right to a firearm, and overall his record agrees with that. But what will he do to better enforce the existing gun laws?

I'm not extremely happy about his stance on illegal immigration. I don't know how we're going to secure the border, but something needs to be done. And a big fence isn't the answer. If people want to go over, under, or through a physical barrier, they will find a way. What is Senator McCain proposing to do about the millions of illegal workers that are here already?

And while I know the government can't do much about the price of petroleum, is Senator McCain willing to start a Manhattan Project for renewable energy that doesn't come from overseas and doesn't destroy the environment and drive up the price for other commodities?

So there you are. You'll notice that I didn't mention gay marriage (none of my business, I'm married to a woman) or abortion (I'm against it, but I'm even more against the government telling someone what to do in regards to their morals and body). Not that I expect replies here, but I'll be keeping an eye on the news outlets for answers to these questions.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Animals

Our family has quite the menagery.

We have two dogs, Blue and Shadow. Blue is a purebred yellow English lab. She's a good dog, but she's as dumb as a bag of hammers. She's also built like the proverbial brick house. She runs like a thoroughbred, and has been known to take a running start at me from two yards over and tackle me when I'm trying to catch her. She is the Irish Woman's dog, but loves everyone.

Shadow is a black lab mixed with something big, possibly newfoundland. He's a great porch dog. His favorite activity is to lay at someone's feet and stay in contact with a human, no matter how slight. He is Little Bear's dog, but will take attention from anyone.

Of the two of them, Blue is the barker, and Shadow is the guard dog. As laid back as Shadow is, I'd hate to have to fend him off in a fight. He's the friendliest creature I've ever met, but he protects the house and the kids very well. Blue would probably annoy a burglar into leaving, but Shadow might just turn the guy's leg into a meal.

We have three cats, Koshka, Annya, and Timmy.

Koshka is a Siamese, and she's as chatty as they come. I rescued her from a pound in Arizona. She is the alpha female in our pride. She is my and Girly Bear's cat.

Annya is a very small tiger-striped tabby. I got her as a kitten so that Koshka would have someone to play with. She and Koshka are very close. They'll take naps together and do a lot of social grooming. Annya is the Irish Woman's cat, even through she claims to not be a cat person. Annya also has an undying hate for the dogs. Shadow either ignores her or plays with her (Swat me, OK, I'll swat you!). Blue, who ways about 80 pounds, is terrified of this little 5 pound cat. Annya tormented Blue when she was a puppy, and seems to have kept the attitude now that Blue is much bigger. I've seen this poor dog backed up into a corner with this little cat chewing her out at the top of her lungs.

Timmy is our newest pet. He's a black cat with a white blaze on his neck. He's Little Bear's cat, but will take love and treats from anyone. We got him a couple of years ago as a kitten when Koshka and Annya started getting older and more sedentary. They were putting on weight and not exercising, so I thought a younger cat would give them some healthy fun. And it worked. Timmy is now fully grown, and spends his time stalking and pouncing on his sisters. He then runs for his life because they want to throttle him.

That's the domesticated pets. The Irish Woman has also made pets out of some of the wildlife. We've already discussed the frogs and fish in the ponds, but she also likes the squirrels in the neighborhood. Two in particular, Peanut and Corny, have become members of the family. Peanut gained his name because Irish Woman puts out peanut butter crackers for him, and he's become so accustomed to the treat that he'll come up on the porch and wait for them. Corny gained his name from Girly Bear when she saw him munching on a cob of corn the Irish Woman put out for him a few winters ago. There are lots of other squirrels that come and go, but these two seem to have set up residence in our trees.

So, we have two adults, 4 kids, 2 dogs, 3 cats, 20 frogs, 40 fish, and 2 squirrels. Is it any wonder that I'm crazy?

Preparing for Vacation

I'm taking a few weeks off from work to spend them with Baby Bear in July. I sent out the obligatory email to my coworkers and customers letting them know I'd be out. The avalanche of work has begun. I may be starting vacation in 36 hours, but I may be working for the next 36 hours straight. Got to love it.
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