Monday, November 12, 2012

Mia Love

Mia Love recently lost to Jim Matheson in a Utah congressional race.

One day last week while we were eating, Christy said out of the blue: "Mia Love's coming over to feel Madeleine's hands."

Huh?  What?

I muddled around in my head trying to figure out how we knew Mia Love... and why she was coming over to our house to feel our baby's hands.

Then I realized that she was talking about a little girl in our neighborhood named Mya, who loves coming to feel Madeleine's hands.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

!00th post1 sort of

This is supposed to be this blog's one hundredth post.  However, after deleting all the unpublished drafts, it turns out that this is only the 95th post.  But such a mistake plays nicely into:

Even Numbers

Why are even numbers so attractive and desirable?  In this context, I don't mean even as in "divisible by two," but any number that is "nice."  for instance 100 is a nice, even number.  But in the context of weeks, 7 might be considered an even number.  Hmm... maybe using even to describe 7 will be confusing.  I need a different name: maybe roundish?  K, let me start over:

Roundish Numbers

Why are roundish numbers so attractive and desirable?  When we're doing push-ups, why is the goal 25 or 50 or 100 (or 10 if you're as strong as me)?  Why don't we set out to do 38 or 99 or 57?  If you told someone you did 99 push-ups, they'd ask why you stopped.  Or that girl who set out to make 1000 paper cranes -- why 1000?  Why do I celebrate my 100th blog post as remarkable and not the 95th?  Why was breaking the 4 minute mile more remembered than the 3 minute 54 second mile?  And while we're on the subject, why is running a mile more notable than running 1.1 miles or 0.9?

Is there something intrinsic in push-ups that demands we do multiples of 5?  Is there a physical limit built in to the body that prevents it from running a mile in 240 seconds?

I've come up with several reasons why I think we like roundish numbers:

1. It looks nice (seeing the odometer roll over to 1,000,000 just looks fun)
2. Roundish numbers tend to have shorter names: one hundred, ten, one thousand, quarter century.
3. Math is a little easier on some roundish numbers.

The year is ending soon (we're in the 10th month), which means it will be time for people to start talking about resolutions.  I challenge you to make non-roundish resolutions.  Resolve to lose 3.4 lbs (or gain 7.6).  Resolve to run 0.4 miles every day.  Actually, instead of resolving to run 0.4 miles every day, pick a landmark and resolve to run to it and back -- don't bring the measurement into the resolution.  Celebrate someone being born on a day other than their birthday.  They're just as alive today as they will be then (although birthdays are actually tied to something real -- the position of the earth relative to the sun).

I don't think roundish numbers are bad (Remember, I celebrated my 10,000th day of mortal life.), I just think we shouldn't limit ourselves to them.

Printing from the bathroom

Right now, our printer is in the bathroom:

Earlier, Christy was blending tomato soup out in the garage.  The reason for both out-of-placements is simple: we're crazy.

And the blender and the printer are loud.  And Madeleine was sleeping last time we used both.

But mostly we're just a little insane.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Essence of Childhood

On my way home from work today, I stopped at the store to purchase some baby soap sans scent.  I looked up and down the soap, shampoo, deodorant and band-aid aisles for too many minutes, only finding stuff for kids, but not babies.

"I guess Harmon's doesn't target my demographic," I concluded.

After giving up, I walked toward the bread, when both Lo and Behold showed me that there's a separate aisle for baby needs.  Who knew?

During my study of the various bottles, I came across a bottle of "Baby Oil" like this one:

"It would be so fun to put one of these over by the olive and canola oil," I thought as I laughed.

But really, it's terrible.  Making baby oil should be illegal.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wicked Disco

In church today, a 10-year-old girl talked about when she had just moved into their house.  At the time she was two.  She was playing downstairs and accidentally set the downstairs kitchen stove on fire.  As a two-year-old, she didn't understand fire (so she said).  So she went with her mom to drop off the older kids at school.  When they came back, her mom, following an impression, went downstairs and, in the words of the girl telling the story, "She screamed."  The fire had spread to half the kitchen.  Mom put it out, and she was very glad.  All ended well.

I imagined little Madeleine setting fire to our house.  Right now, her crying is the most unpleasant thing she does.  I can't imagine when she starts burning down our house, or driving our cars through walls, or leaving the bath water running, or...

I substituted as the pianist in Primary today.  The teacher asked the kids, "What kind of music can drive the Spirit away?"

A girl piped up: "Disco!"

Later, the teacher asked, "What are some things that drive the Spirit away?"  Autumn answered, "When someone has worked really hard on a Math assignment, and they've put a lot of time into it, and then you take it and rip it in half."

"Oddly specific," I thought.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why I Love Windows: A step by step guide to backing up photos

Christy brings a lot to our marriage: postage stamps (I was running low), milk for Madeleine, household decorations, love, and a laptop running Windows Vista.  How do I know it's running Vista?  Because of the sticker under my left hand.  I wonder if Windows 7 comes with a replacement sticker.

To our marriage I contribute a little laptop running Ubuntu (a flavor of Linux) and an old pile of junk computer that stays in the garage (also running Ubuntu).

On the Vista box are many photos that we'd like to keep, like this one:

Notice the large gash on my arm earned defending Madeleine from a pack of marauding wolves.
Here are the 5 simple steps I performed to preserve my magnificent arms for future generations:

Step 1: Choose some software

I research backup solutions and finally decide on CrashPlan because the software works with both Linux and Windows (and Mac, though we don't have one).  You can store backups on local hard drives or your friends' computers, for free.  (Or you can pay $6/mo to backup to their servers).

Bam!  Download it and back up the photos to a USB hard drive I had sitting around.  Then, bam!  Back up my Eeepc.  Now everything is backed up.  Except, if I've learned anything about backing things up:
  1. It has to be automatic or you'll never keep it up
  2. There needs to be redundancy or the same grenade that blows up your laptop will destroy your backup too.

Step 2: Buy some hardware

After several days of hunting, I decide to buy one of these Synology DS112j NAS boxes:

And fill it with one of these:
Which holds about 2 trillion of these:

(without the chocolate or peanut butter)

Step 3: Set up the network

When the Synology box, a kind of Network Attached Storage (NAS), arrives, I excitedly put it all together (dead simple) and set up a private network.  Here's a diagram of the network (brought to you by

+--------+           +----------+          +---------------+
| Vista  |           | wireless | ethernet | Synology      |
| box    +( ( ( ( ( (+ router   +----------+ NAS           |
|        |           |          |          | lots of bites |
+--------+           +-----+----+          +---------------+
            the waves of   _
+--------+    wifi         _
| Ubuntu |                 _
| box    +( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( (+
|        |

Perfect! Now both computers will be able to access the big wad of bits simultaneously, from anywhere in the house.  And CrashPlan will continuously back up our stuff!

Step 4: Mount a network drive in Vista

To mount a network drive in Vista, I click the branded orb in the lower left-hand corner, then choose "Network".  In the window that pops up

I see SYNNY (the name I gave the NAS; remember, the one with the chocolates in it?) so I double click it.  It asks me for the username and password.  I put the credentials in, and then I see the acer.bak folder that I made for backing up Mr. Vista.

I right-click and choose Map Network Drive... (don't read too much into the ellipsis; it's neither intended to instill a sinister sense of foreboding nor foretell the myriad sorrows awaiting those who seek to map the network drive)

Okay, so map drive Y: to the \\SYNNY\acer.bak folder and it will reconnect at logon.  Great!  Just what I need.  I press the Finish button.

Step 5: Direct CrashPlan to back up to network mapped drive

I open CrashPlan, go to the Destinations tab and...

Hey?  Where's the Y: drive?  Maybe it got disconnected?  I click the Start crystal ball, then Computer where I see that the Y: drive is definitely available:

I Google my problem and end up with CrashPlan's official instructions for backing up to a network-mapped drive.  In short: CrashPlan can't back up to mapped network drives unless they are mapped by the SYSTEM user.

The SYSTEM user?  Lemme see, Control Panel > User Accounts > Manage another account and:

Ah, yes!  Found it.  As depicted, this computer obviously has 3 users: Christy, Guest and SYSTEM.

As a bonus, if you click on the What is a user account? link at the bottom of that window, you are taken through the Existential Wizard which helps you answer the big questions: Where do user accounts come from?  When a user account is deleted, what happens to it?  If a user account is created in a forest, and there's no one around to see it, will it make a sound when you log in?

Step 4: Mount a network drive in Vista as the SYSTEM user

The (un)recommended way from CrashPlan is to make a batch file that uses the net use command to map the drive.  I close one eye and turn my framed security credential certificates to face the wall as I put the username and password into an unencrypted file visible to anyone on the computer.  That's definitely secure.


Step 4 1/2: Schedule a task to mount a network drive in Vista as the SYSTEM user

To schedule a task you go to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler, then... uh oh:

I click OK.  I think "OK" in this context means, "Don't let little red Xs slow you down, buddy.  It's OK.  Everything's under control."  Phew!  Had me worried.

I create a task to run my batch file when any user logs in and run as the SYSTEM user.

This SYSTEM user seems pretty powerful, and I made sure to check the Run with highest privileges check box.  But don't worry, you won't be burdened with having to enter a password for any of that.  Click OK:

Got it, Vista.  Somethin's been tamperin' with Ronald's update.  Click OK.

Step 4 3/4: Log out and log in to see if... it... :(

I love Windows!  After trying several times (not shown in this post) I think the task is running correctly, and logging correctly.  In the log, I see this:

Z: has a remembered connection to \\\acer.bak.  Do you
want to overwrite the remembered connection? (Y/N) [Y]:

Hmm... I'm ready for a challenge.  Somehow I've got to answer the question... in the task's command... to which I have no direct input.  But have no fear!  You can get the command's help with net use /help.

See in the help text where it says you can supply a /y flag to the command to answer yes to every question?   It's right there, between... the top... and the, uh... details, details!  Where would the fun be in documented parameters?

I add /y to my command, hoping that the second question isn't

Would you like to format this drive?  (Y/N) [Y]:

Small aside in defense of Windows

To its credit, Vista does document its errors well.  At one point, when trying to remove one of my network mappings (which the good Computer dialog thought was there), I ran into this error:

Less patient people would immediately throw up their hands.  But Vista's got your back with more help info:

But of course!  The network connection could not be found!  Now we're cookin' with gas!

Step 4 7/8: Log on again and make sure the drive was mapped.

I log back in.  The drive isn't mapped.  Hmm... must be that the task is running before it's getting a connection to the wireless network.  I add a delay to the command, then log on again.  And finally it works!

Non "techy" people might be discouraged by such a prominent red X and words like "Disconnected."  But those silly people would do well to remember the earlier prophecy from the Task Scheduler:

Remember, bright red Xs couched in warning language means everything is A-OK.

Step 5: Direct CrashPlan to back up to disconnected, network mapped drive

I go back to CrashPlan, and voila

the spoils be mine!!!!  Now everything is backed up!

Unrelated Step 6: Auto-mounting a non-SYSTEM drive automatically, without user intervention, automatically, on login, every time, without fail, automatically

Along with storing backups, we use the Synology NAS to share files between our computers.  So, I map drive as in step 4 above (the earliest step 4).  When it asks for the password

I make sure to check the Remember my password check box.  What's cool is that Vista provides a quick link to the mapped drive right after logging on:

The yellow triangle means it's important.  I click "to check the status of [my] [automatically mapped] network drives."

then I double click the automatically mapped, public share drive

I put in the password confirming that when I originally selected the Remember my password check box, I wasn't lying:  I do remember my password.


There's not much to conclude.  I love Windows, and everything works:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bayonets of Fire!

Our baby doesn't sleep in a bayonet.  She sleeps in a bassinet.  It's not her bayonet which is dirty and needs cleaning.  No foe's blood soils her sword.  She hasn't fought in any battles.  She doesn't even have a rifle on which to affix her bayonet.  She has no bayonet.  It's bassinet, (bassinet, bassinet).

Generous people have showered Madeleine with gifts -- mostly well-appreciated clothing.  On one jumper, there was attached a gigantic warning written in both Spanish and English: "Warning: not flame retardant.  Loose clothing is a fire hazard."  Not flame retardant?  What kind of rummy clothing is this!?  Can't even stand fire!?  How do they expect us to get on with normal infantile activities?

Yesterday morning, after a night of interrupting Madeleine's sleep every three hours by pinching her until she cried, Christy was a little tired.  I showered and got ready for work, brushed my teeth, then went to bid her farewell.  She was asleep, so I got close, getting ready to wake her gently.  All of a sudden, still asleep, she hawked and spit.  Like she meant it.  She opened her eyes and saw me, then asked, "Did I really spit?"  "Yes.  You sure did," I said smiling.  We couldn't stop laughing as she described her dream, in which she was brushing her teeth.  Her roommate wouldn't let her spit in the sink.  Eventually, she made it to the sink.  And her pillow.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse is a carefree magician of a writer.  I just finished reading "Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves."  Like many of his other works, this one also made me laugh out loud.

I don't read these books with a paper and pencil (though maybe I should), so I can't as readily share snippets I like.  But here's an effort that you might have a taste of Wodehouse.

When Jeeves deals with Wooster to give up his beloved, blue alpine hat with a pink feather (which Jeeves detests), Wooster describes it thus:
    I gave him the hat.  It made me feel like a father reluctantly throwing his child from the sledge to divert the attention of the pursuing wolf pack, as I believe happens all the time in Russia in the winter months, but what would you?

When Spode (who is big and angry) confronts Wooster about planning to steal something:
    "So I was right!"
    "In my suspicions."
    "They have been confirmed."
    'Stop saying 'Eh?', you miserable worm, and listen to me."
    I humoured him. ...the muscles of his brawny arms [were] just as much like iron bands as they had always been, and the way I looked at it was that if he wanted me to go easy on the word "Eh?" he had only to say so.
    Continuing... he said:
    "I happened to be passing through the hall just now."
    "I heard you talking on the telephone."
    "You were speaking to your aunt."
    "Don't keep saying 'Oh?', blast you."
    Well, these restrictions were making it a bit hard for me to hold up my end of the conversation, but there seemed nothing to be done about it.  I maintained a rather dignified silence, and he resumed his remarks.
    He snorted and said "Ha!" and I thought it a bit unjust that he should say "Ha!" if I wasn't allowed to say "Eh?" and "Oh?"  There should always be a certain give and take in these matters, or where are you?

Wooster to Jeeves:
    "Did you ever see a film called The Vanishing Lady, Jeeves?"
    "No, sir.  I rarely attend cinematographic performances."
    "Well, it was about a lady who vanished, if you follow what I mean..."

And many other very funny moments.  Read it.  You won't be disappointed.  Also, "Joy in the Morning" is another great read.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Je suis un père

Madeleine and Mom hiked to Delicate Arch
 Madeleine Josephine arrived on Wednesday morning.  Yesterday (or today -- my memory has blurred the last series of sunrises and sunsets... so when I refer to a specific day, I may be wrong) as I shaved, I paused for a moment to look at the boy turned dad.  And I smiled.  I'm excited to be a dad.

Every stage of my life has been good to the degree that I have faith in and obey my Father in Heaven.  The last few stages (missionness, bachelorhood, newlywedity) were thus and I expect this stage to be no different.  It's not to say that I am always happy.  But overall, I am happy.

I feel like I can now see the opposite of Thestrals.  I have a greater respect for Christy, for my mom, and for mothers in general.  I had some idea of what birth would be like, from videos and classes.  But it's different feeling your own wife squeezing your hand.  And it's a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.

What a great word!  Say it a few times: "midwifery, midwifery, midwifery."  Isn't it fun?  Also, the people who own the title are great.  We decided to see the midwifes of the Central Utah Women's Clinic for our labor and delivery.  What an excellent choice!  I recommend midwifes one hundred percent.  Our midwife was at Christy's side the whole time she labored at the hospital.  She encouraged her in just the right ways, and was absolutely great.  The midwives are happy to dispense with unnecessary procedures and to let mom do things her preferred way.  Most of the nurses were also exceptional.  We really couldn't have asked for a better experience.  Doctors are great when you need them.  But if you don't need them, choose a midwife!

Expensive Yellow Wedding Dresses
While staying at the hospital, I went out to our car one day and passed through a waiting room with the TV on.  A bright yellow wedding dress was showing on the screen with "$200K" written underneath.  A lady was yammering on about the dress.  I thought, "How silly."  Really, how silly.  Having just seen my daughter born, I thought, "huh, the lady talking about the dress was born once... she was a naked, scrawny baby."  Now she's yapping away about something really ridiculous.  There's so much more to life than what we get ourselves caught up doing.  I want to share a part of a letter I wrote home as a soon-to-return missionary (maybe I've shared it before):

"Everyone is busy doing things... things, things ,things.  Man has invented things so that he can do more things and so he can do some things in more comfort.  Technology has progressed, but I wonder how much mankind has progressed.  There is much of unkindness in the world.  There is much of unfairness -- I have learned this first hand several times during the past two years.  There is too much sensuality, and along with it too much complacency.  Greed is evident in any part of the world.  Men, born naked, clothe themselves in expensive suits and adorn their lives with titles, classes, clubs and cliques.  Others, likewise born naked, remain in poverty throughout."

I'm not perfect.  I chase after some "expensive, yellow wedding dresses."  (Not literally... I don't actually have any interest in yellow wedding dresses)  But I hope to maybe chase after a few less having seen a new life come into the world.  And I'm excited to help her see the difference between expensive, yellow wedding dresses, and the truly important things.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One source of happiness, and a good book

I recently watched some clips of an old British game show called Golden Balls.  At the end... well, just watch (if you keep reading, there are spoilers):

That's a lot of money!  But, in this one the jackpot was £2.85:

There's not as much money on the line, but the man still seems slightly sad that he was cheated.  Then, there's this one:

See how happy they both are?  In the first video, neither person is happy.  In fact, I feel bad watching it.  In the third, both are happy.  Perhaps it's just a "game," but the happiness or sadness is real.  Life is better when we think of others.

Lastly, on this kick, if you haven't watched any of the other videos, watch this one:

Part B of this Blog Post

I just finished Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie.

I liked it.  It's a quick read.  I liked the typesetting, the doodles and the stories.

I really like his chapter on corporate organization, The Pyramid & The Plum Tree, in which he promotes an organization like a plum tree rather than a typical corporate pyramid.  "Upper" management is the trunk of the tree -- the stable foundation providing nutrients to the rest of the tree.  Middle management are the branches.  The creators and producers are at the top of the tree.

Chapter Nineteen, Orville Wright is spot on.

It's a quick enough read that I might run through it again with a pencil and paper.

Section 3

Our baby girl is coming soon.  How soon, we know not.  But we've been getting ready.  We have the training wheels on the bike, so she can get on that right away.  Also, I pulled out all the old math textbooks I have on hand.  We can probably get up through Trig before we have to come home from l'hopital.

It's kind of fun to have this bit of unpredictable waiting for us.  As organized as we are... it'll be a surprise and probably different than we expect.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rex Lee

I'm pretty happy about running my first 5k this morning (the Rex Lee Run).  Christy and I have been "following" a training program for the past few months, "running" several times a week.  (Being pregnant stifles speed somewhat)

We walked the first part (the uphill part) together, then I jogged to the finish line alone.  It was fun to walk the uphill part for a few reasons: 1. I didn't have to run it, 2. everyone else was dead tired after running it, so I could easily pass them, which is strangely motivating.  As Christy put it, when you pass someone (anyone; even the lady in the cast, carrying a baby in her arms, pushing a stroller with a broken wheel) you think, "Yeah, I'm fast!"  You might be going an inch an hour, but passing someone still makes you think it.  Motivated by such, I jogged to the end without stopping!

Both water stations on the course were out of cups when I passed.  At the first, the girl cheerfully said, "Sorry, we're out of cups, but the next station is only three quarters of a mile away."  What a politically astute way of describing the 1 mile distance to the next station.

At the next station, the girl said (also cheerfully), "Sorry, we're out of cups, but you're almost at the end."  Maybe the psychology department volunteered to handle the water stations to conduct an experiment.  You could probably extend the almost-there logic to really reduce costs for a Marathon.  Place stations a mile apart staffed with apologetic people encouraging you to just jaunt on over to the next station.

Luckily it was cloudy and cool (and it's only 3 miles), but I stopped anyway to put my head under the water cooler for a mouthful.

Good day!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stickin' it to the Man

About two years ago, I bought a lawn mower, if you remember.  Since that time, I've been paying back the money I borrowed from the bank to purchase the lawn.  The bank makes a lot of money off my desire to mow a lawn.  People should be able to earn a living, and the bank has found a niche that enables "it" to earn a living.  But they could still make a comfortable living on much less than what I give them.

I've always liked tangible metrics.  I would sometimes place MnMs on the piano, one for each song I had to practice, and eat them one at a time after doing the required work.  I have a jar I fill with marbles after accomplishing some of my goals (it's about 1/4th full now).  Christy and I had a paper chain counting down the days until marriage.

Now, there's a man living in my closet:

 We refer to him as "The Man."  Notice the stickers that adorn him.  Every time we pay down a certain amount of the principle (or principal) of the loan on the lawn and surrounded home, we stick it to the man.  It feels great.  I originally thought we could stick pins in a doll, but Christy pointed out that it wouldn't do for inquisitive children to happen upon a porous Cabbage Patch hanging in daddy's closet.

Also, we clean our house each week by reading clothes pins.

Each pin represents a job and has a numeric frequency written on it (you do the number 2s every other week.)  You clip the pins to your shirt while you work, then hang them on the line for the coming weeks (put the 3s on the line to be done in 3 weeks).  It's fun.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Belly good

People who don't live around us have been wanting to see how Christy looks now that she's several months pregnant.  So we took some pictures.  Here they are:

I think she looks great, don't you?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Them people

I heard on the radio that some people somewhere were asking for legislation to prohibit ocean liners from  sailing within a certain distance of certain Italian shores.  They want the laws because of what happened with the Costa Concordia.  I think such legislation is ridiculous.  How often have cruise liners crashed in those waters?  If such a law already existed, would it have prevented the reckless captain from making the same choice?  The captain ought to be punished; and people will learn from the experience.

I've been thinking political thoughts lately.  Sometimes, I wish I had a quiet place, like a moon base, where I could go ponder in peace.  And sometimes I wish I had a quiet place, like a moon base, to which I could send politicians.

I want to vote for a normal American: someone who has worked hard to earn their living.  I would really like to vote for someone who does not want to be a politician.  If a farmer ever ran, I think I would vote for them.  Good farmers don't do stupid things -- they just get the work done.  Ammon, I would vote for you.  I would also vote for someone who did no fundraising.  Why should you need to spend a lot of money to become elected?

I have other thoughts, but I haven't yet sorted them through in my head.

Also, sometime in May, Christy and I have an appointment to meet a little girl at the hospital and bring her home to live with us for a few years.  I expect she'll want a name.  And probably some food and clothing.  She'll likely cry sometimes, too.

I hope she can do math when she arrives.