Saturday, July 31, 2004

Library Sale

After the class, Evelin and I spend a lot of time cleaning off the bookshelves downstairs. We have two tall bookcases in the basement (both of which had two rows of books on them, plus another stack on the floor next to one. And there's another short bookcase down there.

A little while ago, I'd promised Evelin that we could go through them, culling books that we don't need/want anymore. This is not easy for me to do, but we managed to put a bunch of books (rough estimate: seven or eight stacks, each about a meter high) to the side to take to a second-hand bookstore or something.

With everything off the shelves, Evelin decided we should try to organize everything, too. At one point (about three moves ago), I had my books pretty well categorized. I didn't use the LOC or Dewey decimal system or anything, but I knew that poetry was on one shelf, African history on another, etc.

Between various moves and blending Evelin's books and mine, that system went out the window, but now the downstairs stacks are more or less in groups. History, biography, linguistics and languages, American government, higher education, and mythology and folklore are wedged into one shelf; the other has fiction, drama and screenplays, poetry, travel, natural sciences, religion, philosophy, and essays. Things are subdivided to varying degrees on the shelves, too (e.g., Civil War, African, American (North, South, and Caribbean), European, East Asian, South and Central Asian, Australian, etc.)

Now there's the matter of the various shelves upstairs and the books that should be grouped with related subject matter in the basement ...

Learn' About Birthin' (Part I)

And so it starts. We went in this morning for the first two two-hour HypnoBirthing classes. Normally, the classes would be spread out over a month, but because we're getting pretty far into the pregnancy and because it's the class we could find, we're doing a weekend seminar that squeezes the four classes into two days.

It was taught in the basement of the instructor (who is also a midwife) and the first thing we learned is that her eight-year-old son was born in the corner of the classroom. We learned this when he came in while we were waiting for the third couple to arrive, sat down in the corner chair, and announced that it was his corner because that's where he was born.

I'll admit to being a bit unaware about HypnoBirthing going in, but Evelin had done a fair amount of reading and this is the method she wanted to use, so I'm fully on board. Basically, the idea behind HypnoBirthing is that birthing need not be painful or stressful or something to be feared. By using self-hypnosis, guided imagery, and relaxation techniques, one can effectively keep from fighting the contractions (or "surges" to use the preferred word within HypnoBirthing) and ease the entire birth.

In the three birthing videos we watched, the women seemed pretty out of it during contractions. There was some heavy breathing, but nothing like the television sitcom version of Lamaze classes (which is my only reference point).

We went through an overview of the method, its history (including a slightly odd digression into the history of how childbirth has been viewed in prehistoric societies, Ancient Greece, the Dark Ages, and the Modern Age up to today), and a relaxation exercise or two.

I know relaxation techniques like guided imagery can work well, but the instructor wanted us to drop into a relaxed state very quickly and it didn't work too well for me, but we have a lot of time to practice things. Plus, Evelin didn't have that problem and she's the one who needs to be able to fall into a relaxed state for birth, not me.

After a break for lunch -- Evelin and I ran out to the Olney Grill, which wasn't too bad; we figured the Olney Ale House would take longer than the hour we had -- we saw the birthing videos and did some more exercises. Then it was off for the night.

No-mah Traded

I understand it (for the most part), but it seems wrong for No-mah to be sent to the Cubs, especially when he says "Hopefully, we'll see them in the World Series." That sounds like a karmic backlash waiting to happen.

Plus, it must be really weird for Doug Mientkiewicz to play against the Red Sox on Friday for the Twins and then to play against the Twins on Saturday for the Red Sox.

Friday, July 30, 2004


There's been a slightly musty odor in the basement lately and we've talked about getting a dehumidifier to see if it'd help. While in Massachusetts, Evelin picked up a stray catalogue at her parents' and noticed the eva-dry portable dehumidifiers. Instead of paying the $30 or so the catalogue wanted, I checked Froogle and found the same things available for $16 or so.

We've had three of them in the basement for less than a week and the mustiness seems to be completely gone.

Basically, it's little sealed balls that wick moisture out of the air; when they get saturated (which is evident because they change color from blue to pink), you just plug in the unit and it discharges the moisture from the balls.

I'm guessing it uses heat to reënergize the balls, but I won't know for sure until we try. We also think we'll try to discharge them outside; the instructions suggest discharging in a bathroom or somewhere else where the locked in moisture won't do any damage, but outside sounds best to me.

ADDENDUM: A lot of people see to stumble on my site by googling "eva-dry instructions" only to find this entry.

Well, the instructions are pretty simple. Hang them in the basement, closet, wherever, and check them every week or so. If the little balls in the window are pink, then plug the unit into an outlet and let it dissipate the heat.

I've found that the three in different parts of the basement need recharging every 10 to 12 days and it takes a good 14+ hours to bake the things back to blue. I plug them in outside in the morning and try to remember to bring them back in before I go to bed. (1 September 2004)


Not sure why, but I seem to be staying awake a lot. Blaugh. It's not so much waking up in the middle of the night (although that happens, too), but I don't seem to be able to fall asleep until fairly late and I wake up an hour or so before the alarm.

You'd think I'd use that time constructively, but if I go downstairs and fire up the computer, I seem more likely to read through newspapers, other people's blogs, Wikipedia, etc., instead of try to edit (work) things or do my own blogging.

I do clear the spam out of my work e-mail box from home; I guess that counts for something, but that's probably the most productive thing I manage to get done.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Promotion Official

This is part of what's making work a bit stressful. There's a bit of a reorganization going on and, to make a long story short, I am now Editorial Director for the company. The promotion was announced today and becomes official on Monday.

It is the one position I'd seen for me to advance toward in the company, but, instead of being my sole job, it comes as an addition to my two magazines (a monthly and a quarterly) and it means my role with the division that publishes daily newspapers for tradefairs is expanded, too.

It'll probably be a little while before what this all means (and what exactly the position will entail) becomes clear, so the excitement is tempered with anxiety and trepidation.

In the end, I still think (to use a phrase another coworker used in a conversation with me that I think is pretty apt) I have more the soul of a managing editor. That role seems to well suited to my temperament and skills, but we'll see what the new position brings.

Amish in the City

I do have a weakness for reality television at times. Originally, I was worried about the premise of Amish in the City: it sounded like it was going to be a constant stream of jokes about the Amish and how unfamiliar they are with the world of the "English." But an "All Things Considered" interview with Daniel Laikind, the show's executive producer, piqued my curiosity.

And thus I was sucked into the two-hour première.

All in all it was pretty good. At it's heart, the program is The Real World (maybe circa second season) with a bunch of good-looking kids "picked to live in a house to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real." All the expected sources of tension are there -- ex-boyfrieds/-girlfiends, dietary restrictions, sexuality, close living quarters, etc. -- but with this something extra where the Amish on rumschpringe* and the city kids both end up discovering things about themselves and each other.

While there are still eight more episodes for things to spiral out of control, the first two episodes were surprisingly engaging.

Yes, the Amish kids are a bit naïve in some ways, but they actually come across as more honest and refreshing than naïve. In comparison, the cynicism of the city kids, for the most part, comes off as annoying and pointless.

The producers seem to have picked Amish kids who are very well suited to the experience, as well as city kids who, again, for the most part, are exceptionally narcissistic and annoying, but it could be interesting to see how it all works out.

*rumschpringe is a Pennsylvania German word that basically translates into "running about" and it describes the period of time Amish youth are given as teenagers/young adults to experience a little of the wider world before deciding whether or not to be baptized into the church. (UPN uses the spelling rumspringa and translates it as "running wild," which isn't inaccurate, but it does sort of hype things up.)

Schpringe, as a verb, means "to run" or "to skip," while rum is an adverb meaning "about" that is also used as a separable prefix, as in the case of rumschpringe.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Barack Obama

John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one people.

If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent. If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief -- it is that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper -- that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: "E pluribus unum," out of many, one.

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?
(Transcript at; my quoting cuts out the many breaks for applause.)

The audio feed on NPR and the video on C-SPAN both have trouble buffering the speech (it's probably a matter of too many people trying to view/listen to the speech), but even reading the transcript gives me chills: Obama put together so well and so effortlessly what makes America a special place.

I don't know if it's because I am about to become a father or if it is because the aims and policies of the current administration and its allies are so wrongheaded, but this election does feel like the most important one since I came of voting age. We need people like Barack Obama, Tony Knowles and Nancy Farmer in the Senate; Al Weed, Ginny Schrader, and Jim Stork in the House; and John Kerry in the White House.

I don't agree with all of them on all of the issues, but they (and many other candidates -- and not all of them Democrats) do have a grand vision for the country that promises a greater future.

I was recently rereading Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" address, which outlines his the vision of a good society where free nations cooperate to ensure freedom of speech and worship and freedom from want and fear. This is the world I want for my child, and the first step to attaining it is ensuring that people like Barack Obama are leading the United States of America.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Recap of Evelin's Birthday

I cut out of work a little bit early because I was riding Metro yesterday and I wanted to get home in time for us to go to dinner.

Sunday night, Evelin'd looked through the places offering Restaurant Week deals and nothing that popped up tickled her interest (at least nothing that had a 7:00 or so seating available), so we started thinking of places we hadn't been to yet that we'd wanted to try. ZΛYTINYΛ came up and Evelin opted for it.

Zaytinya is part of José Andrés's D.C. restaurant empire, along with Jaleo (one of our favorite places) and Café Atlántico. It's the same basic idea as at Jaleo, but with a Greek-Levantine twist. Instead of tapas, the menu features a variety of mezze, but the effect is the same.

Since my mother was in town, we were able to get a good number of mezze to try, and most of them were excellent: the manitaria saganaki (wild mushrooms, green onions and shallots topped with Kefalograviera cheese) and yiyavtec (giant beans in tomatoes with red onions) really stood out.

Since my mom had hung out at home while Evelin and I were at work (we both had projects going on that we couldn't skip out on), she made a chocolate cake for Evelin's birthday, so we'll have to wait for another trip to try Zaytinya's desserts.

Monday, July 26, 2004

On Your Wife's Birthday ...

... when you're leaving the house early to take the Metro to work so she and your mother can have the car for the day, it's not the best idea in the world to just leave the present in the bed next to her because she probably will put her big body pillow on top of the box and roll out of bed on the other side and never look back ...

Or at least that's what happened this morning.

I got to work and called home to let Evelin know where I'd moved the car (because of the sewer work, we can't park in front of our house -- or the neighbors' houses for a few lots up/down the hill -- after 7:00 a.m.) and I was waiting to hear something about whether or not she liked the bracelet. Finally, I had to ask if she'd noticed anything in bed this morning; it turns out not, so she went upstairs and found the box almost covered by the pillow.

I guess it's a good thing I didn't try this trick with a puppy or something.

It's an interesting Turkish bracelet, mostly silver ropes, but with a watch-face-sized setting of garnets. It's kind of retro, but kind of not. I wasn't sure she'd like it, but she did -- whew!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Mom's in Town

My mother is back in town and staying with us for a day or two. Like a few months ago, she came up with my aunt who's visiting her daughter and granddaughter.

We picked her up this morning, visited with my cousin for a little while, and then went home. After a quick lunch, we went up to Laurel and took the plunge, buying an armoire at a North Carolina furniture outlet place. We've been talking about getting this piece for a while now (we want something to hide the television in), but have been going back and forth over it because we aren't sure where it should go.

If we put it upstairs, where the television is now, it would block the pull-down stairs to the attic. If we put it downstairs in the living room, we have a TV set in the living room, something neither of us are 100% certain we want. There's also the issue of whether or not the armoire would be able to fit up the stairs and then through the turns into the hallway to get into the guest/media room.

The piece has to be ordered, so we have a few weeks before it will be delivered, which gives us time to figure out what we'll do. And then there's still the matter of needing a crib ...

After buying the armoire, we stopped by Behnke's to see if they had a lime tree for Evelin. (She was thinking it'd be nice to have a little citrus tree that could be moved outside for the summer and then in for winter; plus, we'd like to have fresh limes.) But it was not to be; the only citrus they had at this point in the season as a variety of dwarf orange.

I had a panda-watch shift scheduled before my mom made her plans to come up, so they dropped me off at the Metro and Evelin and my mom went to Ikea. It was my mother's first time at an Ikea; the closest store to her is five hours or so away in Houston.

The pandas were doing well. The weather was overcast and cool, which seems to be good panda weather. They had a very good play session in the front of their enclosure, and Mei was very aggressive with Tian Tian, which is a good thing. He still stole her fruitsicle later in the afternoon.

After the Metro ride home, I made us a quick pasta dinner -- yellow tomato sauce that was made from last year's crop -- with Tofurkey Sweet Italian sausage. It was pretty tasty, but I liked the kiełbasa better.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Tessie You Are the Only, Only, Only

I'm treating myself to a little martini tonight (Luksusowa vodka with blue cheese stuffed olives) in celebration of the Beloved BoSox's come-from-behind win in a long, tortured game against the Hated Yankees.

The lyric at the top of the entry is from "Tessie" the song Nuf Ced McGreevey and the Royal Rooters [MP3 on linked page] used to cheer on the 1903 Boston Pilgrims to victory in the first World Series. Last night, the Dropkick Murphys opened the series with New York with their updated version of the song (mentioned in Boston Sports Media Watch). The magic didn't take hold last night, but tonight it did.

The original chorus is:
Tessie, you make me feel so badly,
Why don't you turn around?
Tessie, you know I love you madly;
Babe, my heart weighs about a pound.
Don't blame me if I ever doubt you,
You know I couldn't live without you
Tessie, you are the only, only, only.
The new version tells the full story of McGreevey and the Royal Rooters, which directly ties the song to baseball (unlike the original, which is from a musical entitled The Silver Slipper). The new chorus is:
Tessie, Nuf Ced McGreevy shouted
We're not here to mess around
Boston, you know we love you madly
Hear the crowd roar to your sound
Don't blame us if we ever doubt you
You know we couldn't live without you
Tessie, you are the only, only, only
Last year, it was Cowboy Up; this year it may be a 101-year-old song ... whatever it takes.

Friday, July 23, 2004

30 Weeks

We're in the home stretch: Evelin is at 30 weeks today so this baby is three-quarters baked and will be here sooner than we realize.

But things are slowly coming together. While Evelin was up in Massachusetts, we got a call from the HypnoBirthing teacher about a class. We're set up for a weekend seminar that squeezes the four classes into two days; hopefully, it will teach us what we need to know about birthin' babies.

Evelin's also signed up for a breastfeeding class and I think we're both signed up for a "taking care of your newborn" class.

We still need a pediatrician and a crib.

I also talked to my brother last night and it looks like we're going to try to either drive down to Atlanta or meet them half-way or something to pick up some things the twins have outgrown (swing, bouncer, etc.)

Evelin made it home from Massachusetts without any troubles. The flight on Wednesday was full, but she got a seat toward the front of the plane and managed to make it out of the pier and into baggage claim before I got to the waiting area at the end of the pier.

This meant I was standing around inside, waiting for her to come out of Pier C while she was already outside on the curb waiting for me. I didn't hear my cell ring or something, but I thought to look and saw her message. We eventually figured out where each other was ...

The other thing that's going on is the big new vehicle parked in front of the house, a Komatsu PC78US some may think it's not a practical choice, and we're not sure where the carseat will go, but Evelin likes it ...

Evelin's New Car

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Footnote's Longer Than the Entry!

With Evelin in New England, I'm reverting to some bad, stereotypical bachelor eating habits, including some that I didn't have as a bachelor. Last night, dinner was sausage and cheese (a nice bit of Stilton and a Tofurkey kiełbasa*) washed down with a good bit of the growler of the local weißbier I picked up at Franklin's. Tonight, it was more Stilton, a nice cucumber salad, and more weißbier.

All in all, I could have eaten a lot better and I could have eaten a lot worst ... after all, I didn't order a bunch of pizzas.

*Generally, Tofurkey scares me. Their signature product is just plain odd, and the newer flavored versions (teriyaki, etc.) aren't any better. (Full disclosure: I have never tried a Tofurkey Roast, but they do scare me.) A few weeks ago, I stopped at the TPSS food co-op on the way home from the farmers market and saw the Tofurkey kiełbasa and decided to risk it. YUM!

This should be a blog entry in its own right, but I used to be weirded out by fake meats, but I've flipped 180° on this. The Boca bratwursts are quite good, and the Tofurkey kiełbasa is great. Now if someone would only come up with a vegetarian andouille ...

Recap, BoSox, Baby Names

Okay, Tuesday and things are going okay. The weekend was pretty staid: We saw Shrek 2 on Friday night, did some lawn work and errands on Saturday, and then woke up very early to drive to New Jersey for K---'s christening on Sunday morning.

Shrek 2 was really cute. I think I liked it better than Shrek, but I don't remember what I liked/didn't like about Shrek to say for certain.

Saturday, I started off on the roof because storms were forecast for that night and all day Sunday. I wanted to make sure the gutters were clean so that I wouldn't come home Sunday night to any surprises. I also decided to remove the screens I'd added at the top of the downspouts. I think they might work in other areas, but with all the squirrels around us, the bits of broken leaves, nut halves, etc., that end up on the roof and in the gutters end up creating a dam around the edge of the guard that probably causes the gutter to fill up more quickly and to drain more slowly than it should. I probably should look into somesort of gutter cap or something.

The rest of the day was pretty calm: cut the grass/ogräs, run some errands, dinner at the 94th Aero Squadron. The dinner place was because I was hungry and started throwing names of places out that were near where we were. I like the WWI airfield theme, but it would work better if the College Park Airport weren't suffering under post-9/11 security restrictions on D.C. area airspace that make flying in/out of the airport very difficult. One plane landed during our dinner and that was it. Plus, they really could use at least one vegetarian option on the menu. We went in with Evelin wanting a steak and me knowing I'd get a salad and potato, but still ... it'd be nice if there were something on offer to tempt me.

The trip up to New Jersey on Sunday was pretty clean. We drove out of most of the rain before getting to Delaware, and traffic was easy (as one would hope, considering we left D.C. at 5:00 a.m.). The christening itself was nice; K--- slept through the whole ceremony and waited until after the service to get fussy. The christening was at an Episcopal church, and, as far as I can remember, it was the first Episcopal service I've ever attended: All in all it wasn't bad, just a middle ground between Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant services. Some word choices in the Apostle's Creed, Lord's Prayer, etc., were different, causing me to stumble, however.

Evelin went back to New England with her family. She wants to spend a few days visiting friends and family up there and I couldn't get away from work, so this works out well. She's flying back tomorrow.

The drive home was not as smooth as the drive up. Not only did I not have Evelin to talk to, traffic from the Jersey shore had the Turnpike backed up, forcing me to take smaller roads to get to I-295. Once in Delaware, I-95 was backed up five miles before the tolls, so I bailed and headed to Route 40. 40 wasn't bad, but the stoplights convinced me to try getting back on to I-95 somewhere around Aberdeen. Big mistake; I should have run by Ripkin Statium to see if there were any tickets for the IronBirds game. Construction on the overpass blocked my view of the interstate and once I was far enough down the ramp to see the backups on I-95, I was already committed. Things loosened up far enough before the next exit for me to risk continuing on I-95, which was a big mistake. The road slammed back to a stop just past the exit, so it was another seven miles or so before I could bail and head back to Route 40. All in all, the three-and-a-half-hour drive took about five. Blaugh.

Since I was home alone, I stopped at Potomac Video and rented Still We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie. Man, that was great: the entire 2003 season compressed into nearly two hours -- the highs, the lows, Game 7 of the ACLS ... I found myself at more than one point sitting on the edge of my seat. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I thought for a moment that Grady was going to pull Pedro.

Which segues into last night, with the other Boone's hit in extra innings to steal a game the BoSox should have won. (To be fair, Boone should get less credit for the hit than Foulke does for blowing the save, but still ...) It also rankles me that Arroyo's last two showings have been very good, but they ended up being thrown away. But, unlike 2003, last night's Boone hit doesn't end anything. This afternoon is the rubber match with Seattle and then its back to Fenway for a few games against Baltimore.

The baby name bit in the entry title is baseball related: Seth Stevenson had a great open letter to Roger Clemens [ Slate NPR ] that included a side comment about how Clemens and his wife named their children:
Speaking of your kids, their names all start with K. Because K is the symbol for strikeout. That's lame, dude. If I named my kids after something I'm really good at, they'd all be named "Calling-Roger-Clemens-Fat Stevenson." And that's just too unwieldy.
The Clemens kids are named Koby, Kory, Kacy, and Kody -- that's just plain mean and not just for the K thing. All four names also end in y, are four letters long, and Kody and Koby are the same name with the third letter flipped on its axis. And Kory's not far off from Kody and Koby. (Via King Kaufman in Salon)

Monday, July 19, 2004

Friday, July 16, 2004

I am Observatör!

The Ikea "Family Personality Test" quiz I mentioned yesterday is working today, and apparently I am an Observatör TV stand.
You are a typical OBSERVATÖR TV stand!

OBSERVATÖR TV stands are usually described by their friends as being good listeners, quick-witted and with a keen eye for observation. Enemies, on the hand, see them as watchful, suspicious, trouble-making control-freaks. Such criticisms do not worry TV stands too much, since you know exactly who your friends and enemies are. More importantly, you know who you are. Other important qualities of the OBSERVATÖR TV stand include self-knowledge and the ability to see things in perspective, as well as individualism and a sense of humour. In troubled times, TV stands may be prone to attacks of melancholy, followed by feelings of cynicism. At such times, the OBSERVATÖR TV stand should take care not to be superior in his/her dealings with friends. There is nothing more risky than taking your friends for granted.
TV stands may not admit it, but the fact is that they enjoy a good gossip, hence the well-known phrase: "TV stands know about it before it even happens". If you want to be in the know, talk to an OBSERVATÖR TV stand.
August Strindberg is one of history's most famous TV stands.
OBSERVATÖR TV stands include several professional categories. One group is composed of artists, painters and other creative people. Driven by an urgent restlessness, their desire to push back boundaries often leads them to success. Another group includes good listeners who tend to gravitate towards occupations such as social workers, psychologists, priests and maritime pilots.

In the social arena, TV stands can be refreshingly impulsive, and at times even scintillating, although they can also be suspicious and aloof. On the surface, their relationships may therefore seem rather chaotic. But deep down, TV stands know what is best for them. They also know that ignoring your own instincts would be an unthinkable form of self-deception for any independent-minded OBSERVATÖR TV stand.
TV stands love to share a drink with a PÖSIG cushion. He/she also intuitively enjoys the company of the GRUNDTAL dish drainer. Wherever you find a SKYAR floor lamp lighting up the surroundings, you are also bound to find a TV stand in a corner somewhere enjoying the floor lamp's company. Being more superficial, the floor lamp is able to satisfy the TV stand's desire for gossip and scandal. When it comes to affairs of the heart, OBSERVATÖR TV stands should consider courting the NORDEN dining table or the RISKA hall mirror for a genuine romance that will sweep them off their feet.
Oddly, there seems to be some truth in some of this ...

Before I realized Ikea now offers an English-language version of the test, I took the Swedish language version, "Vilken möbel är du?" Not surprisingly, I flubbed my understanding of a question or two and it said I was a Riska, a hall mirror available for $29.99, €35, or 299,00 Swedish krona.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

House Construction & Destruction

First, an informative story about big knives and watermelons. Last night, Evelin asked me to halve the watermelon I bought at the farmers market on Sunday. No big deal. I place the watermelon (a cute little Sugar Baby) on the cutting board on the counter and pick up a big, not-as-sharp-as-it-should-be knife from the drying rack. It's at this point that I decide to get cute, swinging the knife high and smashing through the ceiling.

The watermelon (and more importantly Evelin) were not hurt by this, but I did get a nice bruise on my thumb that's still a bit sore and one of the plastic panels that makes up the kitchen ceiling shattered.

(The kitchen has a dropped ceiling that consists of a grid of plastic panels. Above them are fluorescent lights. When the lights are on, it makes the whole ceiling glow in a way that Evelin hates, so she's not so mad about the damage to the house -- actually she laughed a lot -- but we have no idea where to find a replacement panel.)

After cleaning things up a bit, the watermelon was cut with much less flourish. And I realize I should not be allowed to play with knives. Plus I am sure to set many bad examples for the child over the coming decades.

So that's the destruction part of the evening. The construction part involves the green room, the finishing touch for which is the curtains. On Monday night, Evelin and I ran out to Linens-n-Things to look for drapery stuff. She gravitated pretty quickly to the Umbra Scroll rods, which were more expensive that I wanted to go with, but Evelin won out saying we could spend more on the rods and less on the curtains.

Since we were out in College Park, we stopped into Ikea in search of cheap curtain options. Evelin fell in love with the Alvine Bi curtains. Of course College Park was out of them, but we figured we'd be passing Ikeas in Baltimore and Elizabeth, New Jersey, when driving up to visit relatives at some point during the summer, so we could look for them later.

[ASIDE: Thinking of all things Ikea, a while back Margaret Marks of Transblawg provided a rundown of how Ikea comes up with its product names, and, even longer ago, Néablog linked to the Ikea Furniture Test. Sadly the link seems to be dead, so I can't bumble my way through the Swedish to see if I'm a Billy bookcase or a Granås chair or a Strömling dish drainer ... ]

Instead of waiting for a long drive, it looked like a slow day at work yesterday, so I decided to see if I could speed down to Potomac Mills during my lunch hour. It turns out they had the Alvine Bi curtains, and I was able to make it there and back in about 75 minutes.

So, after dismantling the watermelon and kitchen ceiling, I hung the curtains. Now we just have to decide upon something to hide the television in that room in and it'll be pretty much finished. And then there's the small matter of still needing a crib ...

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Baby Clothing

I'm just imaging a little newborn in October wearing something from this site: Boston Red Sox Apparel Kids Clothing ... maybe some Sox socks or a nice onesie. And then maybe one of these infant T-shirts for November?


Not the 1984 movie, but those stubborn bugs that cause all sorts of technological glitches. A coworker was translating an advertisement into Spanish and was having trouble with a line that talked about the "headroom" of a soundcard. Talking it over with him, we decided "range" was probably the best substitution, but I took a glance and the original. The paragraph ended with "and other gremlins" and I asked how he translated that and R--- said he just used "other problems."

That didn't seem colorful enough for me but R---, and a Brazilian coworker who shares his office, both insisted that English has a million different euphemisms that personalize or anthropomorphize or something "problems." R--- said that if he used chupacabra or some similar beastie, people would figure out what was meant, but it would sound ridiculous. El chupacabra is a specific thing, not a generic sort of problem, and Spanish (or Portuguese for that matter) doesn't blame a folkloric or mythic entity for a problem. Even when talking about bugs in a computer program, R--- said, the word "problems" would be used.

According to The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition, the word gremlin first appears in the 1920s as "a Royal Air Force term for a low-ranking officer or enlisted man saddled with oppressive assignments." The word evolved from there:
Said to have been invented by members of the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I, gremlin is used in works written in the 1940s for "an imaginary gnomelike creature who causes difficulties in aircraft." The word seems likely to have been influenced by goblin, but accounts of its origin are various and none are certain. One source calls in Fremlin beer bottles to explain the word; another, the Irish Gaelic word gruaimín, "ill-humored little fellow."
The Shorter OED gives the etymology as "probably after goblin."

Monday, July 12, 2004

Blogpause? I Doubt It.

First things first: Anita of "And Baby Makes Seven ..." had her baby yesterday: Welcome to the world, Conor.

We now return to our of late irregular blogging ...

I'm wondering if I should declare a brief pause in blogging. I was kind of surprised that I managed to make it to my first blogiversary without taking a hiatus, but right now I'm finding myself stretched a little thin and not doing a good job of blogging. Especially not first thing in the morning.

But it could just be that my schedule has been thrown so out of whack with work and various doctors appointments lately. I'll fall back into a new routine soon enough. Until then, please excuse any missed days of activity ...

This weekend was a mix of sedate and hectic. Friday night and Sunday were sedate. Evelin has definitely caught whatever cold bug preceded my sinus infection, and she's pretty miserable. At her request, I made matzo ball soup for her yesterday (from a box, I'm sad to have to admit) and it seems to have helped. She also took today off from work, so hopefully she'll be snap back soon. But the midwife did say that pregnancy weakens one's immune system, so she could be feeling bad for a while yet.

Saturday was the hectic day. C---, my neighbor from back in Louisiana, was in town for a sorority convention and she stole away to spend the day with us. It was her first time in D.C. since a school trip in high school, so we tried to take her around to all the sights, including the National Arboretum. Since C--- is a forestry person, we also asked her to take a quick look at the oaks that tower over our house, and she pronounced them as in pretty good shape, which is reassuring. There were one or two things we need to watch, however.

After a quick trip through the National Museum of American History, we took her to Jaleo for dinner. It remains the perfect place to take out-of-towners; the food is great and the tapas are exotic enough to be exciting for the Louisiana folk. Plus, the food is great.
There were a few new dishes on the tapas de temporada section of the menu to try including an organic tomato with picón salad and fava beans with garlic romesco sauce and, from the tapas frías menu, escalivada catalana: roasted eggplant, onions, peppers, and tomatoes with olive oil and sherry vinegar. We were too full for desert.

This morning, I went in for a follow up and the doctor admitted that I didn't have TB. I'm still not 100%, but he wants to give me another week before referring me to an ENT. In general, I feel a lot better, but my sinuses are still acting up and my ears are blocked.

Friday, July 09, 2004

A Couple of Those Sorts of Days

It's production week and since I've been missing time due to doctor/midwife appointments, I've neglected the blog in favor of working with Quark. But I think I have things (mostly) back on track, at least until T--- sets sail and leaves me short-handed again.

Quick wrap up of yesterday:

The appointment with the midwife went well. It turned out to be the same midwife we saw last time, but we still have a lot more appointments to meet the other midwifes in the practice.

I don't have TB. There was just about zero reaction to the PPD test. I literally walked in, showed my arm to the receptionist, who asked my name and flagged down a nurse while she got my chart. After the nurse took a quick look, I was then told I could go. Monday, I have a follow up which will hopefully result in the referral to an ENT.

The one other thing I forgot: On Sunday or Monday Evelin pulled up the rest of our garlic. It's now drying in the basement and letting off an odor that I find yummy but that makes Evelin nauseous.

And I'll probably be quiet over the weekend. I think one of the lightning storms earlier in the week may have fried our modem. I have a few other things to check, but it seems to not be working.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Personality Type

Hurm, according to the "20 Questions to a Better Personality" test, I am an SEDF:
You are an SEDF--Sober Emotional Destructive Follower. This makes you an evil genius. You are extremely focused and difficult to distract from your tasks. With luck, you have learned to channel your energies into improving your intellect, rather than destroying the weak and unsuspecting.

Your friends may find you remote and a hard nut to crack. Few of your peers know you very well--even those you have known a long time--because you have expert control of the face you put forth to the world. You prefer to observe, calculate, discern and decide. Your decisions are final, and your desire to be right is impenetrable.

You are not to be messed with. You may explode.
I don't think this is reading me quite right, but it's an online personality test, so it must be accurate, right?

According to at least one variation of the Myers-Briggs, I am an INTJ, which seems to fit pretty well in a lot of cases ... and I'm not too sure that it contradicts the SEDF determination ...

(Via Logan's Dave, but I just noticed that Less Than Nothing links to the same quiz today, too; I guess something's in the zeitgeist.)

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

It's Not TB ...

Quick wrap up of the weekend: It ended up clearing enough for most of the fireworks to go off, but Evelin and I played it quiet and stayed home to watch Two Weeks Notice, which we'd rented Friday night along with Hope Springs and Sixteen Candles.

Sunday, in between other things, I put down two coats of primer on the yardsale dresser and Monday I put on two coats of paint. It looks pretty good, so we just need to find new pulls for the drawers and give things time to dry/cure and we can bring it up to the nursery and start putting away baby clothes.

Okay, and now the TB thing... This morning, I went to the doctor because on Friday, I'd decided I was suffering from a sinus infection, not a cold as originally thought. I showed up and he starts going on about tuberculosis. Actually, he didn't mention TB, but as soon as I said I'd noticed some blood amidst the other gunk I was sneezing up, I could tell from the questions about overseas travel where he was leading. Long story short: I have to go back on Thursday to have the PPD skin test read. He also gave me a prescription for Zithormax, which is the only thing that actually addresses the sinus problem.

Oh, and to top things off, my assistant editor who started back in May and who has been doing a great job just gave notice. She just got the chance to join the tallship HMS Bounty, and I can't blame her for wanting to have a bit of adventure instead of an office job at this point in her life.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

No Fireworks Tonight (Probably)

It's been raining for the past three hours or so, and there's little sign of it letting up anytime soon, so I'm guessing the only fireworks we might see tonight will be if there are any on television (assuming we don't lose power).

Saturday was spent cleaning up the mess from the Thursday storm. The gutters weren't too bad to deal with; the leaves hadn't had time to start to decompose, which made the job quick and relatively painless. Plus, since I was planning to mow next, I could just toss things off the roof into the yard. The one limb that came down didn't damage the roof, thankfully. After mowing everything, I was feeling pretty wiped out and lazy for the rest of the day.

Today, before the rain started, I ran out to the hardware store to pick up some paint and got a first layer of primer on the yardsale dresser. I might get a second coat of primer on it later today and then one or two top coats on tomorrow. If that goes as planned, we could have a place to start putting away baby clothes by midweek or so.

Friday, July 02, 2004

At Least There's Still a Farmers Market

We got hit hard yesterday evening. I had come home early because the coughing was bothering coworkers, which gave me a chance to sand down the yardsale dresser we bought a while ago. At 5:00 p.m., I picked up Evelin from work, and we drove up to Laurel to where I thought an unfinished furniture place was to see if we could find an armoire for the television (thus giving us a place to hide all those wires from prying little hands in a few months). The place I was thinking of turned out to be a scary finished furniture place, but we did find another store that had two pieces that might work.

On the way home was when we had an inkling of the trouble that awaited us. The sky was pretty dark and there was a bit of lightening to the south. As we got closer to College Park, the rain started and then got heavier and heavier. I thought I saw little bits of ice bouncing off the hood, but I wasn't sure.

In downtown College Park, water was over most of the street in a few places, but it wasn't until we got to Hyattsville that we noticed the streets were covered with leaves. Whatever sort of storm had passed through did a good job of stripping leaves, twigs, and branches from the trees.

The cross-street down the hill from us was taped off because of a downed live wire, and we had a bit of water come through two windows. (Replacing the windows jumped above getting a crib on our priority list last night.) But the real shocker was outside.

As soon as we drove up, we could see the battering the hanging baskets on the porch took, but the backyard was amazing. It turns out we got a good amount of hail. I could see some ice on the porch and in the front garden, but in the backyard the hail combined with the wind to strip a lot of leaves off the pepper plants and to snap the tops off some of the tomatoes. Even the now wilting garlic took a pounding. The corn is still too small to present a big target, which is the only reason it was spared, I think.

We trimmed the broken bits on the tomatoes and retied/staked them, but I imagine this storm has reduced our harvest by a bit.

Also amazing are the plants in the pond. The leaves on both the pickerelweed and water canna were shredded. Actually, the midridge on the leaves held and the outer edge pretty much held, but the interior of the leaves were ripped into slits. They look sort of like venetian blinds.

The water hyacinth had covered much of the surface of the pond, and I was looking forward to their blossoming, but now I can't tell what's shredded hyacinth from bits and pieces from surrounding trees. I actually found a few twigs/leaves in the pond that don't look like any of the trees in our yard or the neighbors' so I'm not sure where they were carried in from.

Saturday, I guess I'm back on the roof. There is at least one large limb up there, and I'm sure the gutters are clogged again.

Oh, and the other fun part was that our neighbor had to pull out his generator to kill any of the quiet that comes with a power outage. Across the street, our neighbors were chatting from one porch to the next while I was trying to sweep up the debris from our porch, but the noise from the generator drove all of us back inside our respective houses.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I Am Clumsy ...

... seriously. Falling down happens. Evelin was teasing me about it just the other day; I don't remember the circumstances, but I'm sure it looked something like Chevy Chase's impersonation of Gerald Ford.

So, as part of Evelin's commentary, I was warned that I better not fall while carrying the baby. Full of indignation, I said no such thing could ever happen.

Then I read defective yeti. Even worse than what happened to Matthew (which I totally could see happening to me) is that the comments are FULL of other falling-and-dropping-the-baby stories.

I am so doomed. (Via

Hvar er eitt útvarp?*

I've been spending a bit of time over the past week looking through Danish and Faroese news sites to see if I could find out about anything interesting going on with radio in the Faroe Islands. All in all, I didn't find much, but it did give me an excuse to poke around the language a bit, including listening to streams from Rás 2 and Útvarp Føroya (the later have to be accessed through

Sadly, finding a Faroese dictionary seems to be next to impossible. My Lonely Planet Scandinavian Phrasebook has a surprisingly decent section on Faroese, but other than that, I'm at a loss.

I did find a few glossaries/word lists on line, however:The other odd thing I ran into: All the Faroese newspapers seem to be subscription based. You can see the frontpage of both Sosialurin and Dimmalætting, but to get to any of the jumps or archives requires a subscription.

* "Where can I find a radio?"

Other Stuff

Sick: I think I am either coming down with a cold or a relapse of the bronchitis from last October. Blaugh.

Baseball: I don't want to think about baseball much today. Two more errors and a loss that should not have happened last night. (Boston Sports Media Watch has links to all the ugliness.)

Right now, I'm thinking the best solution is make a radical bid to salvage the season. Terry Francona should go; I'm not seeing any sign that he is getting the best out of the players. Jason Varitek should be resigned ASAP as player-manager. If he gets a three-year deal and his knees started getting too old to play catcher in one or two, then he stays as manager. He has the best read of the team at this point, and, given that he called a player's only meeting before the game last night, he seems to see that the BoSox are in trouble.

It would be a fairly radical solution and might just work. If it doesn't then there is time to start figuring out how to restructure things for 2005. But I'm not willing to give up on October yet.