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March 13, 2006

Hot Hands, Cool Night

Saturday night I burned my rusty hand on the rusty grill as I cooked the first hot dogs of the season.

Sunday morning I wisely grabbed a skillet with my bare hand as I attempted the urgent repair of a misfolded omelet.

But Sunday night I went out under the stars with my wife and our son and we watched a gorgeous pass of the International Space Station. Clouds and trees covered more than half the sky so we couldn't see Andromeda, from which the ISS would rise into the sky. So my eyes were on the first large gap of clouds high in the west. My wife saw it first, a diamond point of light much farther north than I'd expected to catch it, low but rising steadily and steadily burning brighter as it crested the meridian. It was a brilliant beacon even beside the bright stars of Orion and still brighter Sirius, even in the glow of the nearly full moon. We kept our eyes on the space station as its own night fell, and it slipped into twilight near Procyon, high above our home. Then we went back inside for bathtime and bedtime, talking about what we'd seen with our little boy. And when he awoke this morning he was still talking about it: the moon, the stars, the dark blue sky.

March 10, 2006

A Good Day So Far

After a very sweet bedtime last night my son woke up cheerful this morning and gave me a birthday kiss. A day can't go too wrong after that. Even my dentist appointment was a pleasant experience (I really like the people there). On my way back from that I purchased too much of a good thing for lunch from Margon, and ate all of it sitting outside in Bryant Park. When I got home we ran around at the playground in 70°(F) weather, ate another good weighty meal at the steakhouse, and came home to brownies and ice cream, bath and bedtime, and a couple of cards and gifts. The rest will wait until tomorrow, when this nice day continues.

Big thanks, by the way, to NASA and JPL for delivering the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter safely for me. I can't wait to see what it can do!

March 09, 2006

The night is angry

Last night at bathtime my son decided to demonstrate his almost two-year-old powers and vent a little rage on me for about a half an hour. It was pretty unpleasant but I think we weathered it just fine. Then I got in the car and drove out to attend a talk. Flipping through channels I came across a weak and unpleasant signal which I felt compelled to listen to for a little while: hate radio.

[I want to be careful with keywords here:] Two men were frothing the old bit about "income t_xes are illegal" (unless you're an immigrant). I have encountered this idea before, but I was surprised by what came next: they don't want to pay taxes...to a bunch of "greedy j_ws." Then they invoked W_co, where U.S. Army troops ("not National Guardsmen, no, real Army troops from Fort Bragg, and other forts!") shot U.S. citizens "some of whom have not yet been released!" (?). The government is "not killing, murdering" us, they say. These guys despise George W. Bush for running an "illegal war", for risking the lives of our sons and daughters serving in the Army (suddenly they care). But what exactly is wrong with this war? It's because we're "fighting for the J_ws!" The More You Know.

Five minutes was about all of this I could take before switching away. I listened to mega-network classic rock radio to flush the bile out of my ears while I spent half an hour parking.

What I am curious about is whether this is a licensed commercial radio station or whether it's a pirate broadcast. I feel very strongly about free speech and as far as I'm concerned these guys have every right to make asses of themselves as long as they're not actively inciting violence, but I'm interested to know who's paying the broadcast bill. Are there local businesses financing this message? So far I've been unsuccessful tracking down any answers, but I'll keep working on it. If anyone has any suggestions (beyond "Google") please send them my way.

March 05, 2006

Last chance to get in on the Oscar Contest!

The Oscars are tonight, and you have just nine hours left to register for Songdog's 2006 Oscar Contest and enter your predictions before the ceremony starts. Time to get cracking!

March 03, 2006

A Plague o' Both Us Spouses (and our Kid)

My wife has been ill since Sunday night. On Tuesday, she was diagnosed with strep throat. Our son had a runny nose and a related rash since Monday. On Tuesday, he was diagnosed with strep throat. I started feeling crappy Tuesday morning. [Later] on Tuesday, I was diagnosed with strep throat.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

So we all got on antibiotics immediately. My wife had been feeling abjectly miserable for two days so this was an immediate step up for her, though not nearly enough of one. Our son, at twenty-two months, could not tell us what was bothering him but he'd been acting the most like himself of the three of us. I hit rock bottom Tuesday night and have been slowly recovering since then, though both of us adults seem to be suffering from a cold (or something like it) in addition to the strep and have been sick at home ever since.

Now you don't know, because I haven't told you, that a couple of months ago I was in a car accident (not my fault) which did an unpleasant amount of damage to our brand new car. It's all covered by insurance, but it took nearly a month in the shop, divided among three periods of treatment, before the car was back the way we like it. After we got it back we still had to let a decent interval elapse before my wife could stomach taking her old car into the shop to find out what it needed to top off its vim. Rather a lot, she was told, but she bit the bullet and laid down the charge card, because as working parents we feel we'd better keep both cars in good shape.

Why on earth do I bring this up? Because we just got the car back from the shop. They kindly dropped it off for us and my wife pulled it into the driveway where, yesterday morning, our neighbor backed into it from fifteen feet away and bashed the door in. And drove away, leaving us to learn of the incident about twelve hours later from our landlord, the only person it occurred to her to notify. This neighbor is a person who lives eight feet away from us.

Oh, did I tell you yesterday was my wife's birthday? Fortunately she is a hardy individual, and the happy mother of a delightful child, and she still seemed to have a nice day on the whole. I thought I was the bright-sider of the family but I have to say I may have been mistaken.