Friday, December 25, 2009

New toys

Sylvia is now old enough to enjoy opening presents. Said enjoyment didn't last long enough to get her through the pile of presents we stacked before her unaided, but she did tear through the first few like a banshee and only had to be coaxed through the last couple. Well, and through the middle when she found the noise-making toy from Grandma Hasterok--at least until that toy quietly disappeared.

I'm not sure how we're going to get the new outfits, stacking toys, play phone, cookie cutters, and everything else my little girl accumulated back to West Lafayette, though I'd guess the post office will be involved somehow.

I knew what I was getting, thanks to my email address being on the account at B&H photo, but that didn't stop me from being very happy with my brand new 70-200mm lens. It's so cool. I put that thing on my camera and it looks like a serious camera, especially with the hood on. I only played with it a little bit today--Sylvia's VERY interested in the camera and getting pretty grabby--but I'm looking forward to playing with it more. In fact, for the LMPIA blog I've been attempting to run in my copious free time, I may have to dig up friends in the Lafayette area and ask if they'd be willing to pretend to be models for an hour or two so I and the other participants can play around and practice. I so wish I'd had this lens for Philip and Kelley's wedding. I did an okay job, but there were definitely some shots I wanted (like the ring exchange, the first kiss, and some better pictures of them holding hands, for starters) that just weren't possible with the kit lens. Sigh. I never knew I actually liked wedding photography until *after* I got married. I'll probably never do more than take pictures at weddings of friends and relatives, and I'll probably never be paid, but it sure is fun.

Anyway, I'll post pictures of Sylvia tearing through the wrappings when I can, I promise. This blog has far too many words, and far too few pictures on it of late.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas

I think Sylvia's going to enjoy herself tomorrow.

Philip and Kelly picked up something for Sylvia while they were on their honeymoon and I wrapped it--twice--because Sylvia just needed to tear the paper off something and I figured their present, since it was still inside nondescript, opaque packaging (thanks to FedEx) that would be the best option.

My mom sang with Sotto Voce at the Methodist Centenary church for Christmas Eve services there, which we attended. I quite like going to Christmas Eve services anymore--it's a great reminder of the season and exactly what it is being celebrated--not just the return of light, not just the presents and the gathering of families and friends--also the return of hope, and the promise of an atonement for the evils of this world. It's such a lovely, comforting service, reading passages of such familiar scripture interspersed (frequently!) with familiar, beautiful music.

Most of the program at Centenary was music (which I really liked) and involved much audience participation (which I really REALLY liked). I haven't had many opportunities to sing Christmas music in the past few years, and I miss it. The last time I felt like I really dug into Christmas music was before I started grad school when I participated in the ward choir in my ward in Midvale. That choir was so great--and so inclusive--and we put on a program that had much of the same feeling as the services at Centenary.

After the program there was a small reception, including refreshments. I took cinnamon rolls to share with the other members of Sotto Voce. This morning Sotto Voce was on the Doug Wright show (and was definitely the highlight, I might add--the Santa they have was borderline inappropriate, and NOT funny) and I sent a pan of cinnamon rolls with my mom to share. She offered one to Doug Wright and he took the whole pan! In a way I'm glad though; my first batch turned into a bit of a "test run" figuring out how to bake them. The recipe says to bake them at 400, but then says 375 works better, but neglected to mention you have to bake them longer at 375, so I tried baking them cooler but for the same amount of time and ended up with somewhat underdone (though still tasty) cinnamon rolls in the first iteration (which includes the rolls I sent with my mom). So if you make those rolls, I do think 375 works better (they were a little dark baked at 400) but it takes longer and I'd bump it up to 400 for the last few minutes to get them nice and golden brown on top.

Since my Grandma Whitaker was also in attendance we took a picture with four generations from my grandma to my daughter. At some point when I can upload pictures again I'll have to put it up here to share.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yuletide greetings

One advantage of having family who follow different holiday traditions is that you end up with a longer season to celebrate. Today being the first day of winter--and the shortest day of the year--my sister and her family celebrated Yule. And she kindly invited us over for a tasty dinner of ham, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, accompanied by my mom's knot rolls and followed by pecan bourbon pie and apple dumplings.

Now, I admit, I am not the best at following recipes. In fact, sometimes I downright suck at following a recipe. Today was one of those days. I managed to assemble the dumplings as instructed (mostly--I did put in two pieces of apple sometimes, and for half of them I used my mom's oh-so-tasty apple pie filling instead of fresh apples) but then it all went to pot. My mom was making her pecan pie and the first egg she added to the filling didn't temper right, so I volunteered to use that for my filling. I've made pecan pie before where the egg sort of cooks before it gets fully incorporated into the custard and it's worked out okay, so I just sort of whisked it a bit, added some vanilla, and went on my merry way, blithely ignoring the facts that 1) there was less butter than called for, 2) the pie filling had brown sugar, not white sugar, and 3) the pie filling had an egg in it. Even though it was a little light on the sauce, I went ahead and baked the dumplings. Boy, were they ever good. I love mistakes/experiments that work out well.

After dinner and at least a half-hour of opening presents we drove home. Strange man that he is, my husband sniffed my hair and decided it still smells of a tandoori oven. Now, the last time we had Indian/Pakistani food was last Thursday when we went to this little greasy spoon sort of in a sort of less than good part of San Francisco (place called Shalimar and ate ourselves sick on Pakistani food that was waaay too good. I mean, amazingly good food. The kind of food to dream about on cold, hungry evenings. Mind you, I don't mind smelling like good food, but it's been a few days since we ate there and I've washed my hair a couple of times since then, so for him to claim I still smell like a tandoori oven is a little disturbing. I hope the scent is just wishful thinking on his part. Maybe we need to find a little hole in the wall greasy spoon Indian/Pakistani place in Salt Lake to displace this olfactory hallucination!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hockey sticks

Tonight, after a lazy Sunday afternoon, we took Sylvia to watch Grandpa Wayne play hockey. The game started late enough I wasn't sure if Sylvia would be happy all the way through, but as it turned out she was her normal charming self, and even went to bed very well for me (amazingly enough--though I did sing a couple of extra songs before putting her down).

Grandpa Wayne's team blew the other team out of the water, winning by 10 to 2. I think Derrick enjoyed watching the game, though he said it felt like everything was going about half speed. Perhaps when we're living nearer a city with a hockey team I'll get him tickets to a game so the game will feel like it's going the right speed to him.

Sylvia watched a bit, and I think liked seeing the men skating around on the ice (though I think she missed many of the finer points of the game). Mostly she walked up and down the stairs or begged for candy or gum. She had Reese's Pieces for the first time this evening and liked them enough we had to get a second handful from the dispenser for her. As a mom, I feel a little self conscious, maybe a little silly, keeping track of all of these oh-so-important "firsts." I realize they're really important to me as I watch her reactions and from them learn about my little girl and how she's growing and changing. I'm guessing I won't be quite as conscious of them with subsequent kids. Even so, I'll probably keep making note of them with Sylvia, even if they're as silly as a first hockey game or a first handful of Reese's Pieces.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Breather

Starting just after Thanksgiving life is always hectic. We left for Utah on the 3rd of December and have been going and going since then. I made a poster basically in two days, Sylvia ran around at Mimi's and at my Mom's, and then we left for San Francisco. AGU (the conference I went to this past week) was good, though I discovered a few things that annoy me--particularly people "correlating" data to other data (sun spot cycles, for instance) with no mechanistic explanation of why they'd be correlated. Oh, and if your wiggle matching requires you to draw diagonal lines between your wiggles--especially with different slopes--THEY DON'T MATCH. Many friends suffered through a much longer version of the abbreviate rant above, so thank you, friends, for listening to my rant.

We're back in Utah now. Sylvia was happy to see us--so happy she woke us up at about 4 AM to greet us. I guess she missed us because she's been very clingy all day long. She was very upset that we required her to sit in a car seat while driving.

So, I know what I'm getting for Christmas. Derrick bought me a very nice gift from B&H PhotoVideo, which happens to have my email address on the profile since we use the same profile to order stuff. So I got an email titled "ord-status confirmation" with a very large number attached to it and though, "oh no, did someone get our credit card number and buy something? That would suck right before Christmas when we're in Utah." Nope. Just Derrick. Thank you, dear husband, for the thoughtful, expensive, and no longer surprising Christmas present. At least I don't have to re-wrap it before sticking it back under the tree.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's beginning to feel a bit like winter

Finally. Not that I mind the warmth, but it is a little disconcerting to only need a light jacket this late in November. I said a few weeks ago my garden was done; well, I actually harvested a few heads of lettuce, a pretty good bunch of bussels sprouts, and a few parsnips I'd missed (yeah!) just a couple of days before Thanksgiving. As glad as I am to have fresh, home-grown veggies this late in the year, it seems a little odd. But I guess that's what we're in for in the future--later and later winters and earlier springs.

Apparently there's a bit of a tempest flaring over global warming, specifically over a bunch of emails and some data that were stolen from the University of East Anglia's Hadley Climate Research Unit. Dianne Rehm has a show about the upcoming Copenhagen climate change conference, which includes some discussion of the leak and the meaning of the emails. Michael Mann is his usual arrogant self, incapable of admitting any wrong. While those are useful traits in the realm of scientific discussion (since being right is of paramount importance), and as right as he may be, those traits are off-putting and probably unhelpful when dealing with contrarians (I will adopt his terminology here, as I think it's good).

I haven't read the emails in question, and realistically probably won't. I don't doubt the most damaging statements have been cherry-picked and published out of context. I also don't doubt that passionate scientists expressed some rash opinions in emails they expected to stay private. I hope in the end it won't matter, or even better, that more scientists other than the realclimate crowd--people like Judith Curry--will start to engage the public and contrarian crowds so we can show more clearly why there's consensus and where there are arguments, and which arguments are spurious and which are substantive and worth paying attention to.

On another note, since it's being claimed the reason the data sets in question weren't released to the public stems from them being proprietary (even though most of them were produced by governments using tax money) maybe people will start clamoring for more publicly funded government data to be made freely available. It's always seemed silly to me that scientists or other people wanting to use some kinds of data have to pay for access--even though their tax dollars already paid for the research to be conducted in the first place.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

POM wonderful

After a tasty, tasty dinner of roast turkey and cranberry sauce, stuffing, three cheese potatoes au gratin, and roast green beans, followed by a dessert of maple-walnut pie and blueberry cobbler with an oatmeal raisin cookie crust, we opened up a pomegranate. Definitely the highlight of the meal for the two kids. Here's Sylvia covered in juice:



And here's the tasty maple-walnut pie we made:


(next time I'll stick with the Kentucky pecan, though!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

black or white

Today is the 150th anniversary of the publication of "The Origin of the Species"--a book that changed the world, changed our understanding of our place. And I've never actually read it. I should, but it's one of those books I've just never gotten around to reading. I've buckets of other evolutionary research, but have never taken the time to read more than a few excerpts of the books upon which that other research is based. (That may sound bad, but it's really surprisingly common--it's usually faster and easier to learn the conclusions of basic research from textbooks and reviews than it is to go read all the basic literature yourself.)

Over at BCC, there are a series of posts on the relationship between evolution and faith, particularly Mormonism. In this post, SteveP argues the God of the gaps embraced by ID (and by too many Mormons who want to embrace ID) is not just bad science, it's bad theology.

I have to agree. If you assume God is in the gaps, science truly is constantly pushing God into a smaller and smaller space. Which it's not.

I don't know what God is, other than my creator, but I do believe s/he/it exits. My religion says God is a man who was once as we are, who created us, who had a literal son who died and in so doing atoned for my sins. That teaching, as many others, resonates in my being in a way that makes me believe it is true. But it could be wrong. The teachings of the temple resonate in a way that makes be believe them. But it too, could be wrong. Other stuff I think could as easily be made up as true. Even the stuff I believe I acknowledge could be made up or wishful thinking (though that's as much the doubt of a scientist speaking as anything else).

Even with that uncertainty, I'm okay having faith, understanding what I believe may be very different from the truth. I don't think that uncertainty means there is no God, only that we humans have an incredibly incomplete understanding of God, and since we don't like uncertainty, we've filled in the gaps in our understanding with stories that sound good--at least until some evidence comes along that contradicts the story, forcing a re-examination of beliefs. I would rather hold to the stories, acknowledging their potential weakness, than hold to an either-or philosophy that claims either we have it all right (which is highly doubtful) or it's all wrong (which is unsatisfactory).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Uncle Philip's wedding

In spite of Sylvia getting sick Friday and loosing her lunch on the way to the rehearsal, and then me coming down with whatever she had on Saturday (though sans puking), I think we all managed to have fun at Philip and Kelly's wedding. I didn't take nearly enough pictures, especially before the wedding itself. I'll let the ones I did take speak for themselves.


























Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fairness

CEO's make a lot of money. Really, it's understandable--the top dog should get paid the highest wage. Top management decisions are very important to the proper functioning of a company and I'm sure the job of a CEO is very time consuming and high pressure.

But is it really fair that a CEO makes more than 100 times the salary of the lowest paid employee? Are they really working THAT much harder; are they really worth THAT much more?

Free market economists would probably say sure. The free market (as free as it is) values them that highly, so that must be what they're worth.

This paper argues differently. Using thermodynamics as a base and equating fairness with entropy, it estimates a CEO is worth about 8 to 16 times what the least valuable employee is, and so should be paid accordingly.

It's nice to know the outrage so many have expressed at the magnitude of CEO pay packages is based on sound principles of fairness. It's also really cool fairness in an economic system can be expressed mathematically.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Evils of the dole

There are some weeks when I am incredibly grateful to not have to teach Sunday school. Not that there's really any probability of me ever teaching in church--my one RS lesson was a bit of a mess. Anyway, this week I'm rather glad I didn't have to find a way to teach the SS lesson. Welfare is a thorny subject to begin with and trying to figure out how to teach a lesson when most of the quotes talk about the "evils of the dole" would be more of a challenge than I'd want to tackle, especially in a ward full of people utilizing government programs to make their and their children's lives better.

Here's the problem: I don't think welfare, or going on welfare, is evil. I don't think it's a bad decision for most people who make it. I don't think those who go on welfare for a period of time are in any way taking from the rest of us. Most people who utilize government assistance are women with children, typically divorced or widowed (though most often divorced). Most women who go onto welfare are off within 4 years, many far earlier. Basically, welfare acts as a bridge during a period of financial distress, allowing recipients to enjoy a reasonable standard of living while they retrain, find a new/better paying job, or get remarried. Because the main benefit of welfare goes to women and to the children they care for, the anti-welfare rhetoric, both from the church and from the republican party, feels very anti-woman and very anti-family to me.

I realize most of the quotes for the lesson came from the depression, but again, I find it terribly anti-family to speak so ill of programs that literally kept families from starving to death. It's one thing to tell people to stay off the dole in a farming community, where there is a possibility of a community coming together to keep people fed and sheltered at least during times of financial stress; it's quite another when your communities are urban and the best, most efficient way of taking care of people is to pay for it.

I think the "evils of the dole" rhetoric stems from a lack of trust and respect for those utilizing those resources. An idea that if you are utilizing welfare it's because you're lazy and if you just worked harder at a worthy job you wouldn't need to be on the dole. It's a belief that "I'll never need this" and a lack of recognition that those who do need welfare could be those close to us (or even us, given the wrong circumstances).

I for one am glad welfare exists and blesses the lives of those who are in need of it. I'm happy that small percentage of the tax money I pay to my government goes to keeping people from falling into destitution. As I'm sure I've said before, I'm glad my country takes care of its less fortunate citizens, recognizing those who are less fortunate today may very well become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow, if they just have a chance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mass wasting

Inspired by a story I heard on Radiowest about the Extreme Ice Survey, I baked this cake:






I call it the mass-wasting cake. It's very tasty--pumpkin spice cake sliding around on cream-cheese frosting. I keep thinking there's got to be a lab in here somewhere--something about viscosities and angles of repose. Mmm, yummy science.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Belief

I've talked about belief before, mostly in a religious/political sense. Scientific belief is quite a bit different in that science isn't so much a "belief" as "I agree X is the best explanation for Y because the weight of data/scientific evidence convinces me it is true." I shorten this to belief for the sake of brevity, but it's really quite different than testimony, which is what I talk about when I reference religious belief, or social/economic/governmental conviction, which is (at least closer to) what I'm talking about with regard to political belief.

Why do I bring this up? Because in a scientific way I believe in global warming and wish there were a better way to express that than to say I believe in it. I am convinced global warming is happening because numerous proxies, including borehole temperature profiles, tree rings, corals, and many others, show the surface temperature of the Earth is higher now than it was a couple of centuries ago. I am convinced our output of greenhouse gases--CO2 and methane primarily--is changing the composition of the atmosphere, and those changes are causing the temperature to increase. Demonstrably shorter and warmer winters, changing habitat ranges for many species, shrinking glaciers--all point to a world that is getting warmer.

Now to my beliefs--I don't believe a warmer world is a bad thing, though I would be sad to loose glaciers and pika, and the pine trees that I associate with the mountains in the west. There are certainly things that will be better, and things that will be worse. I believe it is our reaction to the changes that are going to happen that will determine whether the warmer world we are creating will be a better or a worse one. Which is why I hope the discussion moves swiftly from "is this happening" to "what are the consequences we're going to face."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beware the wolverine!



When Derrick and I were in Canada on our honeymoon, we learned to respect the wolverine. Notably, wolverines are very curious: they've been known to break into cabins, open doors and drawers--locked or unlocked!--just to take a look around. They're also determined, one might say, apparently just walking over whatever terrain they encounter rather than going around. There are tales of wolverine tracks continuing straight over the edges of cliffs, in fact.

Sylvia isn't as grumpy, or as dangerous as a wolverine, but she's definitely as curious and as unwilling to deviate from a straight path. She'll walk over any obstacle left on the floor--and there are plenty of obstacles around since she also insists on emptying drawers and cabinets and shelves and scattering the contents.

The pictures above are of Sylvia wearing socks on her hands, which is where she prefers to wear them. She'll pull the socks off my feet and insist I put them on her (as pictured above). Then she'll walk around, clap her hands, smell them, pull the socks off again, walk them over to me and insist I replace them where they "belong"--on her hands.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Junkie

And I just got a fix. I found an interview with James Parriott, How Defying Gravity would have progressed straight from the creator. While not as awesome as watching the whole thing unfold from the comfort of my padded space couch, it's great to see where things were going.

I really, really hope Defying Gravity continues in some form or another--like a book series. That would be so awesome.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Parsnips

Last night I used the last of my home-grown parsnips, the last of my cabbage, and the last of our home-grown carrots to make egg rolls. We aren't out of produce yet--we still have three daikon radishes, some small heads of lettuce, a bucket of brussel sprouts, and a few jars of tomatoes. Not to mention the several pounds of peppers Derrick's been smoking and drying and turning into salsas to preserve. But I feel the end of our wonderful summer bounty at hand and I'm sad.

I liked the parsnips. There's something very earthy about their smell that's just right. Parsnips were one of our experimental veggies this year, and I wish we'd planted more. We had a hard time getting them to sprout (though I admit, that difficulty may have been one of identification more than sprouting--the first ones may have fallen victim to an overzealous weeder unfamiliar with their broad leaves). We also planted them near our brassica relatives (broccoli and brussels sprouts, specifically). Those plants grew tall and broad, and probably shaded the parsnips until we finally pulled some of them out. Definitely, I'll plant parsnips again.

This was the first year we grew tomatillos, too. They're kind of a weedy plant--sort of expansive and floppy. I didn't do a great job weeding the grasses out from around them, but they didn't seem to mind the competition once they were well established. They were prolific producers, too--even with Sylvia snatching some to snack on. They do best in groups, though--the few we had on their own didn't really produce fruits. As it turns out, they're self-infertile, meaning you have to plant them in groups--something to keep in mind when we grow them again.

Okra I wish I'd discovered earlier. I don't think Derrick will ever enjoy the stuff, but I like it. Unfortunately, I didn't realize you have to pick it very young--smaller than 4 inches long--or it's too tough to eat. I offered one of the few small ones I harvested to Sylvia and, after nibbling on an end she shoved it in my mouth (how wonderful it is she's learned to share). Raw okra turns out to be quite tasty. It's a pretty plant, so Derrick may allow it as an ornamental, as long as I don't make him eat any. I hope I get a chance to grow this one again.

Brussels sprouts were actually an experimental crop for us this year, and they worked out well. We planted transplants from a local nursery and let them grow all summer, and have had an impressive fall harvest.

Potatoes were good. I wish we hadn't had quite so many problems with fungi, but if the weather doesn't cooperate, there's only so much you can do. Purple potatoes were fun, and the plants are quite striking. The foliage made our garden look so verdant and successful for that first month or so until the weeds revealed how woefully inadequate our commitment to gardening really was. Still, high success for low-input--definitely a crop to revisit.

Daikon radishes are very mellow, and I've really liked them in stir fry. They did better in the fall for us, though I think trying to get them to produce seeds (as Derrick wanted) wasn't the best choice. If we grow them again, I'm definitely voting to eat the radishes, and not wait for the seeds. We didn't eve harvest many seeds, so I'm guessing whoever inherits our plot next year will be battling the radishes in whatever they attempt to grow.

The three sisters (corn, squash, and pole-beans) didn't work out as well, though we did get some wonderful corn. Indeed, I got my fill of corn this summer and doubt I would need to grow corn next summer even if it were an option. Garden fresh corn is the bomb, by the way. We didn't do so well with the beans. Between everything being very close together and me not doing the world's best job of watering, most of our pole beans died about July, just as they were starting to produce. Still, it seemed the squashes did much better when grown in amongst the corn. Perhaps a bit of competition is good for them. I think if we try this again, I'm going to suggest we grow a little less corn, a little further apart, and put in a few more squash.

I'm sure there were other lessons I learned from gardening this year, but they'll have to wait.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

So, I had grand plans for Sylvia this evening. We were going to go trick-or-treating and then head out to visit some old neighbors, maybe even go find some of Sylvia's friends (or rather, the women who sit Sylvia and their children). Unfortunately, I chose to give Sylvia some fruit snacks from her loot before we went out. Sylvia choked and puked up everything she'd eaten beforehand. Yum.

We stayed home after that.

For those of you who missed her, she was a pretty cute bug. See evidence below.




Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkins, dinosaurs, and stripes

Sylvia loves dinosaurs, growling at her dinosaur books when we read them to her.




I took these pictures of Sylvia in a stinkin' cute outfit last Wednesday at my friend's neighborhood potluck.



And this picture just the other morning while Sylvia played with our pumpkin.

Autumn



Monday, October 26, 2009

Why I read books

Last night Derrick and I watched the final episode of Defying Gravity. The last one EVER. And I'm sad because there are so many unanswered questions, so many unfinished plot-lines, and no hope for any real conclusion. Yet again, I've found a show I like, and, just like with Kings it's been canceled after the first season. Grr.

Which brings me to why I read books. Books don't typically get canceled after the first season. Sure, if you're an unproven author they may only let you write the first book of a (planned in your head) trilogy or series, but usually that lets/forces you to wrap up significant plot arcs by the end. In TV, not so much. If a show doesn't get ratings, it's gone. I understand--producing a TV show is far more expensive than printing a book, but especially with the current move toward longer character and plot arcs, even multi-season plot arcs, it's really annoying to get involved in a show and then see it canceled just as things get good.

James D. Parriott, will you please quit TV and start writing books? Can I be your ghost-writer?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sickness

Unemployment is at highs our nation hasn't seen in decades--largely because banks made bad decisions that were motivated by greed and obtaining the largest bonus possible. So what are bankers doing now? Paying themselves huge bonuses. How, do you ask, can they justify paying themselves so handsomely? And less than a year after a close brush with a second Great Depression that was only avoided because taxpayers ponied up the cash to keep these bankers in the black?

“We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all,” says Brian Griffiths.

I had thought trickle down economics had been discredited by this point. Really, trickle down economics and unfettered capitalism lead ultimately to feudalism--something only the princes and princesses want and the rest of us surely want to avoid. I admit, I'm not sure I like the idea of the government going in and telling people what they can and can't be paid, but I do think the government should do something about this incredibly brazen greed--through taxation. Let them get paid half a million dollars on average for gambling with others' money--and let the US government take, say, 60 or 70% of anything over 100,000. Let some of that largess flow back to the people who are ultimately producing it instead of letting it simply be funneled into the pockets of the people who just think they own it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blogs or facebook?

One of my old college roommates had her second child, a daughter, on the 2nd (and is she ever cute!). I've been checking her blog pretty frequently for the past couple of weeks, waiting for an announcement. Turns out, she announced on facebook, not on her blog.

Another former roommate (whose son is about a month younger than Sylvia) also has a blog that I check frequently, but again, she apparently updates her facebook page and lets her blog pretty much languish. Turns out, a lot of my old college friends are on facebook and either don't have or rarely update blogs.

I, on the other hand, update my blog about every three days and really only look at facebook when someone adds me as a friend or sends me something.

Thinking about my online behavior compared to that of my friends, is the divergence evidence that I prefer the format that allows me to write longer, less twitter-like updates on my life? Does that mean I'm more contemplative, or simply less busy? I see the advantage of writing quick, pithy updates pretty much constantly--the time commitment is low and you probably present a more organic, perhaps truer picture of the flow of your life. Am I less interested in interaction (though I do love comments!), preferring the format that allows me to navel gaze without so much commentary? Blogs do seem to require much more effort, especially if (like me) comment verification is turned on. Or, is this a timing/generational difference? Did I just get into blogging before facebook (being at one of the second generation schools rather than a first generation school like so many of my old college friends), so now that's just what I do, and just what they do? Perhaps this is just evidence that I'm slow to take up the newest, coolest technology, preferring instead to stay with the familiar, comfortable technology. I am, after all, a bit of a fuddy duddy in my old age.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Endings

The end of our gardening season is here. Tonight it's supposed to reach freezing, which will almost certainly kill our tomatoes and peppers and most of our herbs. Probably the brussel sprouts will survive a light frost, as will the lettuce and a few of our other hardy veggies, but the gardening season is pretty much over. I'm going to miss it. I've loved having fresh veggies, loved having an excuse to go outside and dig in the dirt. I've loved watching Sylvia wander through the garden, letting her pick peas and beans to snack on earlier in the season, lately more tomatillos and tomatoes and the occasional pepper. It's fun to watch her reaction to the different fresh foods--some she eats, some she spits out; she never stops picking them and trying them, no matter how unpleasant the first taste! It's obvious she knows which parts of the plant are meant to be eaten, which is amazing given she's so young. That knowledge must be somehow ingrained in the human psyche by eons of evolution. In the Pleistocene would my small daughter have helped me picking fruits in the forest, or gathering legumes from the edges of the savanna? Do the plants take advantage of our proclivities, or do we take note of theirs?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Houston, we have liftoff





Yep, she's walking. Real, honest to goodness toddling, forward movement included. The pictures don't really do it justice, but you can see the joy in her features as she masters a new set of movements.

This evening we stayed for dinner with some friends who live at Purdue Village (mostly grad-student housing). Sylvia wasn't interested in eating, of course, wanting only to play with me. The most interesting activity for her was holding my hands and walking after the other kids who were playing. At the time I was a little annoyed since I was hungry and more interested in talking to adults than in following small children around. Tonight, watching Sylvia take those small, tentative steps I felt a pang of sadness, knowing the days she'll want to hold my hands, the days she'll want my help, the days she'll need my support, are few and are rushing past.