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March 27, 2007

More things Caitlyn says:
  • "mok" (for milk)
  • "fok" (for fork - dining at other people's houses can be so much fun... "Fok! Fok! Fok!")
  • "plow-wo" (for pillow)
  • "inch-ada" (for enchilada)
  • "wha-wha-gigs" (for whirlygigs)
  • "finging" (for swinging, a favorite activity)
  • "nik-el" (for nipple)
  • "upsie down" and "upsie up" (for upside down and right side up)
  • "see water" (for sea otter)
  • "Mama drive now" (upon being buckled into her carseat)
  • "basketball" (for the action of throwing an object in an upwards direction, used as in "Basketball Caitlyn!", loosely translated as "Throw me in the air and catch me!")

March 20, 2007

So, the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war came and went with a flurry of emails urging me to join this vigil, that march, to make more calls, write more letters. Maybe I'm feeling pessimistic, but what's the point? Does it really matter to the cabal in charge that I don't like the war? That there were so many candlelight vigils, so many marchers?

I don't think so. It didn't matter to them that people thought it was a bad idea to begin with. As long as whatever world-domination need they have is getting scratched, and the coffers of their multinational corporations are getting fatter (nothing like having your friends destroy the infrastructure of a country and then give you the no-bid contracts to put it back together again), I think they are probably utterly non-plussed that people are against the war.

Over the weekend, a friend mentioned the pointlessness of marching. It doesn't really get anyone's attention, and it doesn't have any visceral impact. So, you marched. So what? Instead, he suggested, what might have happened when the buildup to the war began, if instead of marching, everyone who opposed the war stopped shopping? What if all the angry consumers simply stopped consuming? Would it have been enough to damage the (almighty) economy? Would it have captured and held the attention of those setting up this runaway train?

It's an interesting proposition, one I'm not sure how to put into action. They say it's important to vote with your dollars, and I'm inclined to believe it. Corporations and the government that loves them don't seem to pay attention to anything else. I'm just not sure what to stop buying, where the lack of my money would make the maximum impact...

March 15, 2007

Apparently, I'm suffering from "Daylight Saving Time Jet Lag", as Ian put it this morning. The clock may say it's time to wake up, but my circadian rhythms want that hour back.

I don't like DST. According to my mother, I never have. And this year, I like it even less. By extending DST for one month, starting on the second Sunday in March and running to the first Sunday in November, "Daylight Saving Time" now lasts for 34 weeks. That's 65% of the year. Which means that "Standard Time" is only 18 weeks (35% of the year). If "standard" still means what we commonly accept it to mean, then DST is the new Standard Time. Perhaps it's silly, but the mislabeling really bothers me.

I'm also bothered by the increased disjointedness between humans and natural rhythms. The clock and our methods of measuring time are completely arbitrary, but they do make sense when there is some relationship between the clock and the sun. By moving the hands on the clock, though, we are attempting to compensate for the fact that we can't control the sun. And, frankly, I think humans should be accepting and even grateful of that fact.

So, please, can we leave the clocks alone? If moving an hour of daylight to the evenings really results in astounding savings in barrels of oil, let's adjust something that's within our scope. As far as I know, it's not inscribed anywhere that business hours must be 8am to 5pm. In the summer, open businesses at 7am. In the winter, open at 8 or 9am. Use all the daylight the season has to offer, whenever it happens to be.

I'm not convinced that the total energy savings is really worth getting all worked up about, anyway. Moving the clocks forward moves darkness to the morning, when we are all waking up. We heat our houses earlier, turn on more lights, and get into more traffic accidents as a result. School age kids, especially teenagers, do worse in school. So there's more light in the afternoons and we turn on lights and TVs at home later. But we're also out driving our cars and "growing the economy" more, which consumes energy, probably more all told than what we'd use if we all were at home.

Last week, I woke up with the sun shining on the bedroom windows. I woke up feeling refreshed, invigorated, ready to face the day (more or less, I'm still not a morning person). This week, it's darker outside when the alarm goes off, and I have to fight my way out of a dense sleep fog and drag myself into the day all because Someone Somewhere thought messing with the clock would save a barrel of oil. I'd wake up earlier and take advantage of the naturally increased amount of daylight all on my own in a month or so, and I wouldn't have this foggy feeling in my head.

And if that Someone thinks maybe we should save a few barrels of oil, maybe Someone should stop focusing on the small change, holding two pennies tightly in each hand while the silver dollars tumble through the holes in the pockets. Increase fuel efficiency? More solar panels? Alternative energy? Mass transit and incentives for telecommuting? Anyone? Anyone?

March 09, 2007

Sing with me: "It's a small world, after all..." Ian's mother and uncle took high school chemistry and physics from the same teacher, at the same school, I did, though about 20 years before me. And well, P. Q. Boomer is still at it, according to this article, which Ian's father forwarded to me.

Boomer is a performer. Too bad he didn't start his own circus or something. As a teacher, I'd say, not so much. It's always amusing to read these profile articles full of fond memories, but I'd really like a slightly more balanced approach. Not all the (former) students who don't like him didn't do well in his class. I did just fine. But, he definitely plays favorites to (a) popular students and (b) students whose parents he taught. His textbooks, in the early 1990s, dated from the late 1970s (so there is no mention of anything recent in chemistry or physics). When the text book wasn't clear enough and he was confronted with a student question, his response was always "Go read the book." And, as best as I could tell, he never reviewed the homework that was turned in; as long as your responses looked like they were long enough to be right, you got your points. It's entirely possible that I would remember much more chemistry and physics today had Boomer actually taught, instead of relying on old books, recycled lectures and showy demonstrations.

That said, he's quite the character, and the greater SLV area is more colorful with him, Boomeria, his castle (complete with secret passages!), his guillotine, his (homemade) pipe organ, his portcullis ("Slowly! Heads are softer than Iron!"), his catacombs, his water wars (which were a thing of the past when I was a student at SLV nearly 15 years ago - drought and all), and his trusty attack geese.

He will likely keep teaching until they do have to haul his cold body off his lab table. I think the school board should have made him an honorary teacher ages ago, so he could keep doing his explosions and keep luring folks to Boomeria for his annual Christmas Carol Organ-a-thon, while also bringing on a new science teacher to "complement" his class with up-to-date science and explanations for those confused by textbooks or who simply want to know more. Boomer may have inspired some students to "lucrative careers in Silicon Valley and Hollywood", but I'd bet they are all of the generation preceding mine. The gentleman whose quote closes the article is likely the father of one of my peers; he's 50 and I recognize the last name.

March 08, 2007

"Four" doesn't exist. Caitlyn counts the corners on the breakfast table: "One corner. Two corner. Three corners. Five corners." Same thing when she's counting pancakes on the griddle: "One pancake. Two pancake. Three pancakes. Five pancakes." This afternoon, she was counting books: "One two three five six seven eight nine, seven eight nine."

Just to be sure, I asked her to say "four": "Caitlyn, can you say 'four'?" She looks at me, tucks her chin, and says, "Five".

March 06, 2007


"So, have you written anything lately?"

One would think I had, given how much I've been working in the backyard. Gardening is supposed to be good for the writer's soul, if all those Romantic Poets knew what they were talking about. But, I have no words to show for my labor, just some boxes and a lot of imported dirt.

In a month or so, there will be more green back here. And maybe with the arrival of the green, the words will follow. Or maybe the words come later, after the garden is well established. Or maybe I should get used to my shortage of words. Caitlyn may have stolen them all.

March 05, 2007

March. 59 wonderful degrees. Birds (ok, crows). Actual shadows. And little tiny new leaves on some of the trees in the neighborhood's central park. Little tiny new leaves on the shrubs that have been sticks for months ("Caitlyn, don't step on the plants, they're sleeping." "Sleepy plants." And then she drops her ball on them.). There's even a crocus in bloom in the neighbor's yard...

After a long, dark, freezing winter, let's hear it for Spring!