Saturday, April 03, 2004

Pookums is Home

Our lovely young daughter spent the night with a friend. Now she is home again. The quiet of our home has been replaced by a voice that is a study in decibels. The floors resound with flouncing and the occasional stomp. All seems an exhuberant exclamation that "I am here. See me. Hear me. Acknowledge me. And while you're at it, bask in the glory that is Pookums."

There is a certain charm about teenagers. At times it is an obnoxious charm. Or perhaps a charm that strikes strings of wistful melancholy in us. But, at least this morning, there is no denying the vigor and elan of the young.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Documentation and Design

just a couple of links for examples of poor documentation and design

Technical Documentation Weirdness --

This is Broken --

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Flying South

Birds do it. Bees may do it. And even monkeys in the trees ... well, probably not them. But we're doing it. Shortly, we will be trekking to warmer climes. A week of sunshine and, naturally, the three R's. There will be visits with family members. There will be bridge (likely lots of bridge). There will be diving. There will be ... well, there will be lots of stuff crammed into a little bit of time and then we will turn around and come home. Because by gum this is 'merica and that's how we do things here!

I'm developing an undeniable appreciation for European vacations. The six-week kind. That's for me. I guess we'll just stuff a week's worth of living into each day.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Three R's

Reading: I've read three Mercedes Lackey novels in the past couple of weeks. I really enjoy her characters.

Resting: For me this is synonymous with reading. That's because I do it while I am ...

Reclining: Something I do while I'm reading and resting.

I need to find new hobbies. I find I'm getting caught up in the stories and staying up until midnight. That's no big deal, except the mornings come far too quickly. And they begin with the Princess' alarm kicking off at 5:30 a.m. This is usually followed by muttered curses at the dog, the indignity of rising so early, and the lack of compassion on the part of her servants, who want to stay abed a bit longer.

That's why I make the most of the three R's.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Whoever Said, "Happiness is an Understanding Wife?"

Oh yeah. I did. I have had my eye on (but not my ears in) a set of Grado SR60 headphones for a couple of weeks now. I caught a link of of that rated them as "pretty darn spiffy" [my characterization of their characterization] for full-size headphones that can be used with the iPod.

May I just say that the Grados are to cool and chic as military issue spectacles are to fashion. Aesthetically, with the iPod they are roughly equivalent to Porsche Boxter pulling a trailer made from the rusted leftover bed of a '72 Chevy pickup. Needless to say, the military issue spectacles serve a greater, more noble purpose than haute couture, and so do the Grados. They sound fine.

I was first attracted by the combination of their acceptance and their price. These are $70 "cans" in the lingo or technologically savvy, a clique to which I've had little access over the years. In those circles, the Grados compare quite favorably to headphones selling for 3 or 4 times as much. So I have called local audio shops hoping to avoid purchasing them over the Internet. Eureka! Audio Video Solutions, in Laurel, MD had them. I have known Michael Grabill since his shop occupied a corner of the Laurel Shopping Center. They have fine equipment, are served by knowledgeable staff, and charge fair prices for the quality of their wares.

I called ahead on Monday, asking if they had the SR60s in stock. They did. I appeared on their doorstep like a ravenous foundling on Monday evening and found that another discriminating client had called regarding those same headphones on Monday afternoon. When told that the sole pair in the store was still on their shelf, he prudently sent the little Mrs. on an abbreviated buying spree. Probably so he could gloat that he now had them and I did not. Lucky jerk.

The guys at the store came through. The fellow I had spoken with that morning said, "They are gone." "Do you have the SR80s?" I asked. Not missing a beat, he replied that they did and added those words that so warm a consumer's heart, "... and I can make you a deal on them." Thank you, Lord. Mercy survives. Charity is not dead. It ain't cheap, but it survives. The SR80s are $30 more, but the store 'split the difference' with me, charging but $15 more. The difference that was split is probably not a reflection of the difference between wholesale and retail. But it does represent the difference between immediate gratification and a nasty little pity party I was ready to throw if I'd gone home empty-handed.

Bottom-line it, you say? Alright. I like them. Plenty. And the more I wear them and listen to them, the better I like them. When I go to work tomorrow, so will they. We're headed to Florida soon and oddly enough the Grados are travelling south at the same time. If I didn't look ridiculous in a shower cap, ... well, you get the picture.

For those of you who, like me, eschew fashion for function, these headphones have my vote. If you're in the market and wondering about them, fear not. And if you live nearby, give Michael and his staff a shot at your business. They are near Chili's at the corner of Route 1 and Cherry Lane in Laurel. Nice folks.

The most beautiful thing about these headphones is not their dusky good looks. It's the raven-haired beauty in my kitchen who saw me sheepishly walking to the back door and greeted me with a smile saying, "I'm glad you got them and you like them." Ahh, love. Mrs. C's the best.

Hey, Good Lookin'

I had a wonderful time just hanging out with a friend tonight. Brandon came over and we fixed the stereo, moved it to the computer room, and played some bass. More importantly, to Darling if not to two guys intent on hanging out, we rehung the mirror in the guest bathroom. Now she can begin her morning by seeing something beautiful.

I tried that in our bathroom and the results were less than I'd hoped for. I've decided that tomorrow I'll shave. Little things do matter.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Weekend: the Blur that Just Passed

The princess was away this weekend, so we did the couple thing. How cool is that?

There was a really interesting time of meditation on Friday. A labyrinth was laid out on the floor of the meeting area at church and there were several stations built into the labyrinth. All those participating were given a portable CD player with headphones. A narrator and music guided the participants through the various stations, allowing more than adequate time for reflection. Some challenging questions were raised. There was a special time for personal communion. And there was opportunity to simply sit and be. In all my years participating in organized religion, this is one of a mere handful of creative, paradigm-smashing encounters with our Creator that I've had the opportunity to participate in.

Saturday we did a bit of work around the house. Thank you to all my crafty mentors. The faucets in the bathroom now run and the sink drains. Simultaneously. And this is a very good thing. Not only that, but the wayward flaps of wallpaper that felt 20 years was more than enough time to stay attached to a wall have been shown the error of their ways and are now back on task. And the towel bars are now securely being one with the wall in a very Zen sort of fashion.

The towel bars were formerly semi-detached. One end of the towel bar (in each bathroom, no less) would regularly pop out of the drywall. Since we vetoed the idea of re-papering, we were left seeking a solution that would both cover the growing hole that ever more loosely contained one end of the towel bars and secure the towel bar to the wall.

My first response to this issue was pragmatic. I got one of those doohickies that hangs over the bathroom door. Suddenly, I was the proud owner of THREE towel bars. They are not of the finest quality. They bang loudly and annoyingly against the door when I pull my towel or washcloth from them. But they have a fancy hook on one end that will hold a belt, a backbrush, or BVDs. And the whole deal doesn't pop out of the wall. What's not to like?

Unfortunately, this left my bride to fight the escaping towel bar on her own. Hey, I solved my problem. Now it's hers. Certainly you can see that? Yeah, well, neither could she. So this weekend we took one more item off the If-I-Had-A-Real-Man-Around-The-House-I'd... list. Enter the leftover baseboard. Wait. No! That is not baseboard. What were we thinking? That is chair rail. Definitely chair rail. Never to be kicked again. What's more, it is a chair rail in rooms that have only one chair, if you will. And the odds of that chair EVER being against that chair rail are so slim (and the results would be so messy) that they are not worth mentioning. Still, it fulfills the purpose. It hides sins and keeps those pesky towel bars in its manly grip.

Having nailed that "chair rail" into the studs, I am feeling nearly as secure as the towel bars themselves. If this thing comes out of the wall, you were not retrieving a towel. You were doing chin-ups. And shame on you.

In addition, I replaced light bulbs that were many, many years old as well. Now everything is bright and shiny (except for the mirror that I need to remount), staying up, and all that anyone could have hoped for given our budget.

So today, while our princess was in transit, we painted. We painted walls that became exposed when we replaced the cabinets in the bathroom. We painted walls that had reached a level of ugliness that could no longer be ignored, in our foyer. We painted trim around the doors on the deck, and we painted a switchplate. If you doubt me about the switchplate, come and look. And bring an FBI agent to verify my thumbprint in the lower corner. Yeah. I didn't know we painted the switchplate. That tells you it was painted by the royal "we," and that ain't me. It looked safe when I picked it up. That's all I can say.

Other than turning a compost pile, chatting with a friend, watching a DVD biography of Gene Kelly, and beginning a book by Mercedes Lackey (another in the Heralds of Valdemar series), we did absolutely nothing this weekend. And we're better people for it.