Quoth the Chef…

In case you were wondering how to make yourself a decent meal:

First you get a big pot.  Then you put water in it.  Then you put the pasghetti in it.  Then you put the sauce on it!

The boy’s right.  That’s definitely all I do.

The Future Of Everything…

Scientists have developed a form of synthetic rubber that repairs itself.  I originally found this on BBC News, but couldn’t get the video to play at the time and since forgot about it.  But it has resurfaced again.
I can’t help but feel that this is going to spark something.  Materials that mend themselves?  How could this not be one of the greatest things invented?  It still blows my mind a bit.  The possibilities are limitless, really.  As soon as a mass manufacturing process comes about, and it sounds like the ingredients are plenty easy to come by, our world will start looking quite different.  Like looking back at the first half of the 20th Century and seeing toys only made out of wood or metal.

And I tell you, as a father to an impressively boisterous son, toys that can put themselves back together will be handy-dandy.

Oh, and as a Minnesotan: rubberized roads that mend themselves?  Best.  Thing.  Ever.

Floating Down The Road…

Last night, I got my new car!  And it’s my dream car.  What, you mean I got my SUV that runs on personal methane and hope?  Hardly.
What I am now the proud owner of is a 2002 Ford Focus Wagon.  Yes, folks, I have a station wagon again!  It’s lovely silver (adorably matching M’s car) and has merely 60k miles on it.  What’s also really cool is that it has the slightly bigger and more powerful so it can haul the extra weight of the wagon’s end.

My father in law found it from an insurance auction, needing a new bumper and door.  He loves projects like these, and by the time he was through with it, I swear the new car smell had returned!  It’s practically pristine, so much so that I almost feel better leaving it in the garage.  Bless his heart for all the work he’s done for us on this.  I owe him a great deal of wood chopping and hauling work this year.

And man oh man… this thing is quiet.  And fast.  And smooth as can be.  It just floats down the road.  The boy and I can converse without shouting over barely-working heaters and the loud banging of doubly dead suspension.  It just floats down the road.  Now I don’t have to blast the stereo to hear the guilt-trip of public radio’s pledge week.

Really, best of all, is that I don’t have to worry about the car.  I know it runs, and runs well.  It’s clean and reliable and gets nearly 30 miles to the gallon.  I can carry people and things without warning them ahead of time.  Peace of mind is ridiculously valuable, especially once you’re a parent.  I have enough to worry about every moment of every day.

Oh, and it has cup holders!

(Rest assured, I’ll post up pictures later this week.  And for those who know me, The Cheat is safely adhered to the left rear window, where he belongs.)

Categorize Me…

For a long time, I have held the view that the American political system was never intended to have parties.  While all legislative maneuvers boil down to a yea or nay vote, each legislator would represent their constituents and vote in whatever direction they feel will benefit them.  The very concept that a land of three hundred million people, or for that matter, a group of three or more, can fall into one of two camps has always been sheer nonsense to me.
I have always felt apart from the two major political parties of the United States.  The things I believed in would toss me across both sides of the aisle.  So what to do?  When the time came, I did not register with any party.  I was always planning to vote for the person I saw fit for any given office, as I think it should be.

Sparked by an article I read about Generation X (of which I am at the very tail end, I think), and having always had these ideas in the back of my mind, I started listing out my own political beliefs.  Now, most feelings I have on these points are fluid, and it depends on how the world turns for me to retain or change my ideas.  Basically, I’ll I’m saying is that these ideas are far from permanent, and hardly fully explained to their greatest detail.

The list is just after the jump.

Continue reading

Gun Control…

For some time now, I’ve been keeping up with The Becker-Posner Blog.  They are a pair of professors at the University of Chicago, and always an interesting read.  It is cool to read two different perspectives on the same topics.
The most recent pair of posts are on the topic of gun control.  It’s an interesting idea, from an economic angle.  Mr Becker sees the tool of increased taxation as a viable method of legislating changes in culture.  And he puts in the way to counter the black market movement of arms is to increase the cost (punishment) for dealing in that world.

Posner’s commentary, I think, is the more interesting.  He does not buy the argument that Americans buy guns solely to counter the criminals being increasingly well armed.  We have a gun culture in this country, and a proud one.

I’m not going to state my position on things here (and admittedly, they’re rather fluid).  I would love to think there was an easy solution.  And if there was a way to grasp the causes of these mass-murder preludes to suicides, I’m sure the problems on this would be easier to solve.  Still, I’ll put up my views on gun control as part of another post.

Geniuses…

I swear, if this is true across the mammalian board, my cats must be brilliant.
I wonder if my couple of minutes of closing my eyes between yelling at a pair of toddlers to stop throwing things around helped my test score last night at all…

Kids Are Not Savvy…

This morning is my first back at work since last Wednesday.  Where my desk is, I can readily hear hall conversations before the day begins.  Of course, that is assisted by the fact that few middle school children know how to speak in a relaxed tone to someone three feet from them.
Today has been especially rough.  All I kept hearing has been these emotionally-challenged youngsters attempt to curse as sailors and spit out quotes from the movie Superbad.  Apparently, they all went out to see it this long weekend.  I don’t know what parents allow their twelve year olds to see that rubbish, but they should be incarcerated.  Besides, I don’t think you can even get half of that movie unless you’re over 21 and happened to grow up with the lot of friends that I did.

But the big thing on my mind: don’t these kids have grandparent language skills?  You know, where you learn when you’re in public, or at least in earshot of authoritative adults, you start speaking as though you were at your grandmother’s house?  I remember junior high, when using swear words as much as possible was fun and novel, even when one is completely inept at it.  However, we all at least had the skill to switch it off when necessary.

Of course, I could very well have been just as obtuse when I was that age and am remembering things better than they were.

Still, we’re in a confined space with teachers ears every 20 feet.  Think McLovin can wait until you’re walking home with your buddy?

My Kid Is Savvy…

All this weekend, we have been hosting our niece while her mom was out of town. She’s eight, and not always the most keen on being actively engaged in her own experiences. She is used to far more passive time than we have at our house. This weekend was especially tough on her because I was still finishing up the rubbish going through my system and in the process got deeply absorbed in a book. So, against all odds, they managed to survive without playing video games and watching tons of movies that would disturb my utter enjoyment of the written word.
Yesterday evening, M and I headed out to another in the series of doctor appointments that go along with being pregnant. All standard stuff. We left our son with M’s brother and our niece and were driving merrily on our way.

Not yet even out of our neighborhood, my phone started ringing. After doing my awkward ‘pulling the phone out of my pants while driving’ maneuver, I looked at the display to see who was calling. It was the Uncle.

“Yeah, Joe?”

There was a moment of silence. Then came a hope-filled, “Dad?”

Here is where I thought to myself, oh I forgot to give him extra hugs at every point in my departure, and just had to call and say bye to me. It’s sweet, but it does add to the time it takes to get out and actually do something.

“Yes, Austin?”

“I… um… can… can I play Nintendo, please?” This was said in perfect unison of M in the passenger seat, softly guessing his question.

I chuckled a bit, “Yes, you may.”

I hear a bit of distant, “We can play Wii!” in the background in the phone, then “Oh Dad, I miss you and love you the bestest mostest ever!” Nice, that’s when it comes. I repeat his lines to my wife, who is busting up.

“Thanks, bud. You go have fun now.”

“Bye, Dad.”

I wonder what I would have been had I said no…