Friday, June 29, 2007

Commenter Appreciation: Simon (Wordless Wednesday #10)

Ah, Northern friend with an enlarged vocabulary. I met him through Cheeseburger Brown's comment section and thought to myself "Wow, that guy's a geek." Later I realized that he's disturbingly like me...which probably tells you more about me than it does about Simon.

He runs a thoroughly entertaining blog called Simian Farmer where he shows off both his wit and his adorable kids.

I thought about posting an appreciation to Simon with some sort of Star Wars theme. Nah...too obvious. Instead it occurred to me that few things make Simon happier than making inappropriate captions to other people's pictures. And so, with that in mind, I dug into my archives to find a picture that would serve as open season for Captain Caption.

Also, it bugs him when I post my Wordless Wednesdays on Tuesday night. So here,'s Friday morning and I'm still calling this one a WW. And it's not even wordless!! Deal with it ;)

Note: Everyone is encouraged to have some caption fun with this one. I'll chime in later today to explain the origin of this gem.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wordless Wednesday #9

Click for a bigger drink

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Commenter Appreciation: Mike

Mike is a relatively new commenter round these parts, but it's great to have him on board and it's always fun to see what he's doing over on his blog. I met Mike through Anna who I met through Mark who I already appreciated last Thursday. It’s a testimate to the connectivity of the Internet that through my blog friend in Texas I found a photoblogger in London who had a blog in her blog roll called “Ozark Photos.” I said to myself, “Hey…I grew up in the Ozarks!” and the resulting history has been stamped in the comment sections of both of our sites.

Mike likes front porches. He likes talking about front porches. He likes sitting on front porches. But, most significantly for his blog, he likes photographing front porches. And so the last time I was up at my in-laws Iowa farmhouse, it was with Mike in mind that I trekked outside before breakfast (before Breakfast, Mike!!) just to take the following shots.

Click to enlarge photos and check out Mike's photos at Ozark Photos.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Commenter Appreciation: Mark

Over the next few days or so, I plan on publishing little blog post cards dedicated to some of the wonderful folks I’ve met out here. I’m enjoying getting to know each of you and know that this site is a better place for your comments.

Mark has, for the past nine months or so, become obsessed with a cup that has been lodged in a drain on his way to work. We’ve all waited with breathe held as he has somehow spun the tale of an unmoving piece of trash named Blue Straw into a gripping tale through a series of Cupdates.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wordless Wednesday #8

Snow Tunnel

Click to release the picture's full vastness.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Mysterious Logic of Norah Lu

In keeping with her heritage, my daughter has developed quite a few bizarre eccentricities. And I, being the bizarrely eccentric father, am more than proud to show off these behavioral ticks with just as much enthusiasm as I do her more traditional achievements.

Behind the Head

Norah gives her wicker basket a place of honorObjects of affection are awarded a special place behind Norah’s head. I’m not sure whether this is fun because it stretches her arms or whether she has modified my instinct to put funny things on her head. One way or the other, the fact remains that a treasured toy will be hefted up and lowered behind her noggin only to be hefted and lowered to the front. This process is repeated until it looses interest at which point she locks it against her back and toddles off.

Hide the Toys

Objects of affection are also better appreciated through their absence apparently. Little Lutine delights in placing a toy just inside her room and then slowly closing the door on it. It’s like David Blaine for the under-one set. It just disappears!!

Similarly, she seems compelled to throw her toys over baby gates. Through the course of the day, Norah will deposit a variety of toys and books, and shoes, and remote controls, and assorted other objects over the either of the two gates she has access to. She does not appear to enjoy this. There is no giggling involved nor even smiling. She strolls to the barrier, quite seriously deposits her cargo on the far side, and the marches away without a glance backward.

Part Fireplace, Part ToychestIn this picture, you can see that a book, a plastic shovel, and a stuffed Pooh ring have been safely stored in the fireplace.

Face Dunking

I’m told that children Norah’s age may be afraid of the water. Or, at the very least, afraid of getting their face under the water. Norah, on the other hand, has an obsession with submerging her face. She’s been working on it for some time and has only arrived at her current level of strangeness in stages. First, she would lean over in her bathtub to dab her forehead against the water. We assumed early on that she was trying to drink the water, but it soon became clear that the face to water contact was the goal. Slowly, she started smashing her face into the water with greater vigor. She would raise her head, water pouring off her little face as she grinned proudly at Moonshot and me. “Did you see that?” she seemed to be saying. We told her she was very brave…and she’d promptly do it again.

Lately, she’s upped the ante just a bit. Instead of bending down from a sitting position, she will roll over onto her belly so that her dunking is more complete. She now holds the dunk for longer and longer times…apparently trying to learn to hold her breath. Granted, she’s not very good at holding her breath since this game now routinely leads to her jerking her head up suddenly and coughing for a few seconds before charging straight back for another attempt. I’ll admit it’s a bit eerie and unnerving to watch. While she’s clearly having a good time…I’m a nervous wreck outside tub, mentally reviewing the steps for baby CPR. I want to let her explore, so I just keep thinking she’ll either scare herself away from the game or grow bored with it. But so far, neither has happened. So I just keep a close eye and shake my head in disbelief.

I have no doubt that as she grows, her list of oddities will increase, but these are my current favorites. I just wish I knew what was going on in that baby brain of hers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wordless Wednesday #7

Bigness ensues upon image click

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Norah, Cale, and Abby

An Overdue Norah Update

I realized a few days ago that it’s been a while since I’ve given an official update on Norah’s progress into toddlerhood. I’ve been having such fun posting caption-resistant photos every Wednesday and waxing melodramatically about slimy drainage tunnels, that I’ve forgotten that without my willingness to turn the focus away from myself for a few moments…you, my faithful readers, are unable to enjoy the subtle changes that make up day-to-day life with Little Lutine.

The primary change since last we spoke of it is that she’s dramatically increased the speed with which she can reach forbidden objects by rejecting the crawling method of locomotion and charging into walking. She took her first steps about a month ago. Then, in typical Norah fashion, she proceeded to ignore her new ability for about a week or so (just to play it cool) before standing up and toddling across the room. These days…she crawls infrequently and falls to her butt quite often. In fact, the most precise gauge of Norah’s mood these days is her reaction to falling. Giggle or utter lack of concern is the normal response and indicates she is in her typical high-spirited frame of mind. Whining or a few seconds of pouting tells us she’s getting tired or hungry. And rarely, we see a full on meltdown…and this usually means it’s well past her bedtime or that she’s not been napping well.

She’s fascinated with boxes and containers these days. Taking things out of or putting things into boxes is pure joy. We find her toys stacked haphazardly in the basket that holds Arlo’s dog toys. Or stuffed into decorative vases. Or dropped over the gate that leads to our attic bedroom. Or pretty much anywhere else she notices a toy will fit.

She has no words yet, but she has a few signs she will occasionally use. Anything that runs around on four legs gets a slap to her thigh (doggie). And a sudden lack of cereal on her tray will occasionally warrant the tips of all her fingers being bounced together (more). Waving is thrilling and she has been known to wave to the television if a character says “goodbye.” Clapping has also become an exciting past time, but it is usually in response to some one else clapping. Last night, however, she seemed to applaud herself upon rescuing her reindeer puppet from the bottom of the clothes hamper.

She’s slimmed down. Her newly active lifestyle has severely reduced the number of chins she sports. In the last month, she’s gained quite a bit of height and held her weight steady…a sure sign of a more svelte Norah.

She’s become obsessed with stuffed animals. As she makes her ways around the house, she often has a plush friend tucked under her arm. And she giggles more when we animate the animals for her in play. I can only assume that she’s made the connection that the abstract shapes form rough approximations of faces. This clearly delights her.

She’s finally going to sleep easily. After a bit of practice and learning on both sides we can, on the vast majority of nights, bathe her, read her a story, sit with her fir just a minute or two with the light off, lay her (still awake) in her crib, and walk away. It is a glorious, glorious feeling every time it happens. I walk away and pause, still expecting to hear angry wails…but none come. She calmly watches me go as she rolls over to sleep with her little butt in the air.

In short, she’s growing up wonderfully. And though I frequently forget to bring everyone up to speed on her development, the changes from the front lines are just astounding. Almost every day brings some small growth and I’m just in awe watching the process.

The Twins Come Home

Cale Gets Love from his Daddy and Big BrotherI don’t think I’ve mentioned it here before (and in retrospect, I’m not sure why), but my cousin Caleb and his wife, Summer, have been expecting twins. Long-time readers will remember Caleb as the guy after which Norah was almost named. The twins finally arrived about two weeks ago, a girl and a boy…Abby and Cale. They were held at the hospital for a while since they were born just a bit early (totally normal for twins), but I just got word this morning that both of the newborns have made the trip home where they can snuggle in with their big brother, Austin.

Abby, Cale and Austin with their proud GrandmaAnd while this might not be the most exciting bit of story telling for those of you who don’t know Caleb and his family… I’m quite excited about it all and wanted to do my part to spread what I consider to be wonderful news.

Welcome aboard, Cale and Abby!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wordless Wednesday #6

(Click to Bigify)

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

An Afternoon McGuyverism

There’s very little in this world that I love more than a good McGuyverism. Not quotes from the show, mind you. I never watched the show. I’m talking about jury-riggin’…a little good, old-fashioned Ozark ingenuity, as my Dad would have called it. I enjoy the three-toothpicks-and-a-tube-of-toothpaste type challenges and like to think I’m a good one to have on your side when creative use of the tools at hand is required.

Trixalot, my network admin, says I get a particular look in my eye before I dart off to the warehouse to grab some long forgotten piece of junk that could be used in whatever current crisis we’re facing. And he would know. In the six years we’ve worked together, he’s seen me tackle many of these types of problems.

When moving into our current office, Trixalot and I were charged with crafting a new home for our servers. I got five six-and-a-half-foot tall, enclosed server racks at a storage locker auction for $25 total and then set about trying to figure out the cooling. This involved ducting the air from a window AC unit across the room into the case using cardboard, duct tape, and dryer vent hose. It was a monstrosity to behold, but from it we were able to learn the best placement for an AC unit to vent into the server rack. Plus it was a load of fun to make.

And today I got to have just a bit of McGuyver fun.

We’ve been having trouble with our AC here at work lately. Out came Mike, the HVAC guy, to climb on our roof and inspect each of our four rooftop units. About ten minutes later, one of my upstairs co-workers rushed into my downstairs office with a tale of “water everywhere.” Now, I know how these things tend to get exaggerated, so I calmly asked where and how much. She merely responded, “it’s coming from the ceiling…it’s everywhere!” before zipping back out in a panic.

I walked up the stairs and was actually surprised how much of a mess there was. Certainly not “water everywhere” but there was a pretty steady stream dripping and spraying from a return air vent. Tiny trash cans from various desks had been collected and strewn haphazardly in the general vicinity of the spray, but there was no way to really catch everything because it was dripping randomly from about a four by four area and splattering through the vent screen.

I ran outside and shot up the HVAC guy’s ladder and let him know what was happening. He sort of nodded said, “Yup…that would be happening. AC was frozen up and it’s defrosting. I’d say get some trash cans.”

“How much ice are we talking about?” I asked.

He gestured into the belly of the unit and I squatted for a better angle. A huge block of ice filled the six-foot long enclosure. I sighed and returned to the seen of the mess, grabbing Trixalot from his server room office as I went. We removed the ceiling tiles first to keep them from getting too damaged. Then we took the screen off the vent, hoping to mitigate the splash/spray effect. But neither really changed the amount of splatter hitting the carpet. And then I’m told I got that particular look in my eye.

I rushed to the warehouse with Trixalot in tow. Tucked away on a high shelf, forgotten since the days of our eBay drop-off service, was a dispenser once used for foam packing peanuts. A large, roughly funnel shaped device, I was hopeful we could use it to channel the water into one central can. Add in some string to attach it to the rafters and suddenly, we had a salvaged floor.

I tell this story not because it was the most clever thing I’ve ever done, nor even a particularly difficult jury-rig. Rather, it’s just that being ripped away from writing an instruction manual to our store managers on procedures for reporting and deleting trade lines from our customers’ credit reports to manically construct an impromptu water catcher made me smile. As I write this, my dress slacks are dirty from dust and mucky water. I probably stink just a little from sprinting up and down ladders in a dress shirt not designed for breathability in an office with defective AC. And I’m only now, at 3 sitting down to eat my lunch. But, I’m smiling anyway. Because there’s very little in this world that I love more than a good McGuyverism.