September 29, 2017

Kitten Anxiety

Today our baby is over with her grandparents for the day. It's lovely for my wife and I, we can get stuff done without the constant attention an infant needs.

But whenever  the baby is out of the house, our cat gets super anxious. She's normally an independent sort of cat, but when the baby is away the cat is constantly underfoot, literally.

I don't think it's that she likes the baby; rather, while cats aren't as domesticated as dogs, they still experience neoteny, a retention of immature traits in adults. Cat mothers occasionally switch dens, taking their kittens from the old to the new one at a time. (I've got a story about that from Afghanistan- I'll tell it sometime.) So our cat suspects that we are moving the den. We took the human kitten over already, so she's staying underfoot so we remember to bring her over as well. It wouldn't do to get left behind!

And of course this is related to us moving in a few weeks, but the cat doesn't actually know that.

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September 22, 2017


Ah, what a lovely warm spell in mid-September. The trees are turning colors, but the last few days have been gorgeously warm.

We met friends at an ice cream place downtown and sat outside. We arrived at seven, so we had great seats as dozens of hipsters showed up. It's a fashionable joint attached to a super-fashionable taco place, you see. And there we were with babies and unfashionable clothing, talking about a book published in 1951. What is best in life? That.

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September 12, 2017

Big Money

So, we're buying a new house! It's just across town, but it's larger, to suit our expanding family. The mortgage application process is a nightmare of document production. It took less paperwork for me to sign my life to Uncle Sam at the recruiter's office.

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June 23, 2017


There's a house down the street with a couple of grade-school age kids and a cherry tree in the back yard. Yesterday the kids and a friend of theirs picked the cherries, put them in mason jars, and went door-to-door selling them. The price was high but not unreasonable.

I don't like cherries, but there's no way to not buy some.

(Luckily my wife does like cherries.)

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June 14, 2017

Gift Cards

My father-in-law is a retired accountant. He hates receiving gift cards; when he does get one he spends it as quickly as possible, for fear that the store will declare bankruptcy and the card will be worthless. I found this behavior somewhere between "charming eccentricity" and "relic of a bygone era".

Two Christmases ago, by brother-in-law gave me a gift card to Gander Mountain, and outdoor-goods store. I shopped but found it overpriced, and there was nothing I needed at the time, so I held on to the card.

As you've probably guessed after reading the first and second paragraphs, Gander Mountain has declared bankruptcy. The card is now worthless. When I asked at the front desk they gave me a slip of paper with information on how to make my claim at the bankruptcy court. I guess I might, but honestly there's no chance that it'll get so much as a penny on the dollar. I'm a junior unsecured creditor behind basically everyone. I guess I'm senior to the shareholders but that's it. And everyone knows they're getting nothing.

Ah well, maybe I can put it aside for 50 years and sell it as a curio.

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April 26, 2017


It is with great pleasure that I announce the birth of my daughter. She was 8 lbs ½ oz, and 20.5 inches long. After a few days in the hospital, mother and child are both home and doing well. The cat is grumpy.

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April 06, 2017

Oh Poo

There were some fun times at work last week. A few blocks downstream from my office, a city sewer main collapsed. We're talking a 60" diameter pipe, so as you can imagine, it wasn't an easy repair. It took them four days to accomplish. During which time, my office building was open to "essential personnel only" as they was nowhere for our effluvium to go. Or rather, fluid dynamics being what they are, the effluvium certainly would have gone somewhere, but not where we'd all prefer.

About 1500 people work in the building, so 3000 kidneys converting coffee to... not coffee... would have been a problem. The building engineers thoughtfully provided two (2) port-a-potties by the smoking area.

It wasn't necessary to use them, as they also procured the services of a "honey truck" to empty out our building's own sewer pipe, so we were able to carry on using the porcelain fixtures as usual. That was quite a relief.

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March 22, 2017

Petty Corruption

We've got an artificial Christmas tree. The tree "trunk" is held in place in the base by three turnscrews. When I went to set it up last December, I discovered that one of the three screws had gone missing. I used a shim to get through the holidays, then sought out a replacement after we took the tree down.

The local home improvement store was useful in that they had a little sizer doo-hickey that confirmed that the screws were metric. But the store, despite being larger than any aircraft hanger I've worked in, did not have a replacement. So I ordered them off They took about a month to arrive.

Anyway, they came today in a little pouch mailed from Hong Kong, China Post to  the US Post Office. It had the customs information printed right on the pouch. According to the customs declaration, it was a gift of the category "Cell Phone Accessories".

The screws were only a few bucks for the set. I'm sure the tariff saved was only a few cents. I'm not going to write my Congressman and demand an investigation. But it struck my fancy as being an excellent example of the petty corruption that one hears about in societies were the rule of law has not taken hold.

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March 08, 2017

They Call the Wind "Wind" Because It Would Be Odd to do Otherwise

Wow, that was quite the windstorm. There were reports that the wind derailed a train outside of town. The highway was shut down due to multiple flipped trucks. Emergency vehicles were rushing up and down my quiet side street, apparently because the main road was blocked with downed trees and/or power lines. Some of the neighbors lost shingles- I think I'll look over my roof in the morning.

It's kind of reassuring to be in a century-old house during a bad storm. You know it's not the house's first rodeo.

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January 20, 2017


Well, there's been another peaceful change of presidential administrations. My hopes are not exactly high, but I also have confidence we'll get through this. The new guy doesn't excite me with his competence, but we've had no few prior presidents that couldn't carry out the law and/or didn't care to, and we've muddled through.

When I say this on Facebook, I get attacked for "showing my privilege". Sure, I get that- I'm middle-class monogamous white straight cisgender male native-born protestant healthy & employed. (I'm not sure if being a veteran is a plus or a minus in the privilege score some people like to calculate.) I think I'm viewing this as a historian, not a MCMWSCMNBPHE scumbag, but who knows.

Here's the thing, though: I'm going to make some predictions. Feel free to grade me on them in four more years.

  1. Roe v. Wade does not get overturned. First, Trump is personally pro-choice. Second, polling shows people freak out when it looks like it'll get overturned, including people necessary for the R's in congress to get reelected. So while there will be laws picking at the edges, abortion will remain legal.
  2. Gay marriage will remain legal. Again, overwhelming popular support, even more so than abortion. And the Supreme Court, even with new conservative members, hates to go back on itself. (Stare decisis.)
  3. I'm less certain about the Affordable Care Act. Congress is intentionally painting themselves into a corner to replace the popular parts, but the popular parts aren't separable from the unpopular parts. If enough of their constituents lose medical care they will either panic or get thrown out of office. So I expect there will be something closely resembling Obamacare in five years. It will probably be rough on some people over the next two years though.
  4. We won't go to war with another major power. (E.g. China or Russia). Trump's easy to manipulate. His advisors will flatter him into visions of getting a copy of Obama's and Roosevelt's Nobel Prizes if things ever get too heated, plus the warning that his overseas property would get seized or destroyed.
  5. A general trade war is unlikely. We'll probably get something like the Chicken Tax, i.e. highly distortionary tariffs on a small sector of the economy. I suspect we'll be the first major nation to sign a new trade treaty with a post-Brexit UK, because Trump likes the cut of their jib.
  6. Trump only serves a single term. First, he might get impeached. Seriously! He has no friends in Congress, but his vice-president has plenty. It looks to be easy to find grounds to do so- start with the Emoluments Clause and go from there. If, on the other hand, he completes his term, the Democrats are likely to take either the House or the Senate during the mid-term elections, if for no other reason than the president's party almost always loses seats in the midterm. He's not likely to enjoy facing an explicitly hostile Congress, and will choose not to seek re-election in order to spend more time with his family.
There you go, those are my predictions. I guess we can check back in four years.

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