Friday, March 30, 2007


We had planned to all go out for a bicycle ride together, but only two out of five of our bikes (the kids' trailer makes six, I guess) were ready to ride; the rest needed some work to get them road-worthy again. The first one Paul and I worked on was the tandem, which, just when we thought we were done, blew a tube. By the time we walked over to the Trailhouse, got a new one, and installed it, there wasn't really enough time to all go for the ride we'd been planning. So we took turns taking spins around the island on the tandem. It was a very new thing for May and Paul.

It's not a box!

Look sharp, mateys. Pirates off the starboard bow!

C'mon, sweetheart, this box can do 0 to 100 in six seconds flat! You want to go for a drive with me, I know it!

Coming around turn 5, Aiden Kerr steers his one-man boxsled down the ice to a new Olympic record!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oh, that was written for someone else, not me...

Since the first edition of You Know You'r an MK When... people have taken up the book and started reading it, chuckling over items, asking questions, etc. And then they get to number 70.

70. You really do enjoy Oriental folk music.
Every single one of them looks up, and says, "You do?"

I don't, actually. It's one of the items in the book I've never liked, and it's one that I've gotten voted down on for changes in the last five editions. But tonight, Deborah relented, and we can choose a new item to go in it's place. My short list of contenders:

You frequently say, "I don’t know, I was out of the country."

If someone asks what school you went to, you reply, "depends on the year."

You miss people before they're gone.

A more telling question than "Where are you from?" is "What countries are you following in the Olympics?"

When your parents say "home church," you're not sure which one of the dozen or so they're referring to.
Which one would you choose? Any items in your copy that bother you, or that you think are no longer relevant, or dated? Speak now, or hold your peace for another few years!

One more

I've been seeing these little booths out on the backroads for years, but it wasn't until recently that I learned what they were for. They're for schoolkids, waiting outside for the bus to come. Most of them are little more than a few walls to keep the wind off in the middle of winter, and scarcely larger than the chilren they're built to protect, but reportedly, some of them are pretty fancy, with windows, TVs, space heaters, and microwaves.

The subtlety of Indiana

When I first arrived here from Spain, I thought Indiana was terribly dull, gray, and monochromatic. After nearly 13 years, I've come to appreciate the subtlety — soft, earthy tones, punctuated by a bit of man-made color.

It took me quite a while to get where I was going the day I took these. I kept making U-turns to go back and get another shot of something I saw.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I assure you, I'm not getting $1 million per volume

I was just sent a link to this article this afternoon, a story on the progress of the Encyclopaedia Iranica. What's my connection to all this? Well... I did a large part of the typesetting and layout on volumes 10 through 13, and I'll be doing more work on volume 14 this afternoon. I've gotten very well acquainted with Iranian culture in the process.

Too bad they didn't have one in avocado green

I got a nice bonus at work for my part in a pleasantly profitable 2006. So, being boring adults, we splurged on... a new fridge. We were going to have to do it at some point anyway; the green thing was dying, and din't always keep things cold in the middle of summer. I think the only thing I really liked about it was the color (a very homey avocado green) and the price (free with the purchase of a house.)

What can you tell about someone by what they keep on their fridge?

Out with the dirty, leaky, always-running, rusty, sucking-up-two-thirds-of-the-electric-bill old fridge...

And in with the bright white, better-sealed, hopefully-far-more-efficient model.

Ooooh. Ahhhhh.
(Admire it now. It will never be this clean again!)

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'd probably have to buy a new motorcycle...

Next time I say, "I can't imagine how it would take longer than 15 minutes..." kindly and gently remind me that I have very little imagination.

My motorcycle came with two keys. One normal key, one wallet key. The wallet key has since wandered away, and my attempts to get a new spare cut haven't been encouraging. I've been to every hardware store in town, and no one has a blank that matches. So finally, while I was out at the dealership on Saturday to pick up my new mirror, I asked them for some blanks. They looked a little nervous, but found me some Suzuki-stamped blanks that looked about right. I was delighted, even at $5 apiece.

After I got home and finished insalling my other purchases, I told Deborah I was going to pop over to the hardware store and get the spares made. "How long will that take?" she asked. "I can't imagine how it would take longer than 15 minutes..." ...oh, how wrong I was.

I handed over the key and the blanks, and the guy got this very serious look on his face. (I still wonder what it is they're looking at...) He said he'd give it a try, and spent an inordinate amount of time fiddling with the machine to make sure it was set up right. After 20 minutes and several dry runs, I finally heard the whine of metal being cut. "Did you ride this here?" I did, and we walked out to the parking lot to try it out. No go. We wnt back inside for more fiddling on a different machine. When we returned to the parking lot, the key opened the gas cap, but wouldn't work in the ignition. Back and forth we went, trying this, trying that, even trying out one of his own blanks that he thought might work. Finally, after more than an hour, he apologized that he couldn't get it to work. "No charge."

So now I have a spare key fo the gas cap. I don't know what I'm going to do if I lose the other one...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Editing and Ice Cream

Many years ago, I participated in an editing contest at work. (For those who don't know, I work at a publishing company.) The prize was a Subway gift certificate, and the goal of the contest was to see who could best edit a single sentence and correctly identify all the errors therein. To my surprise, I won. (This probably has something to do with the fact that all the professional editors were barred from the contest.) Aside from pinning down most of the grammatical errors, I was the only participant that actually did any fact-checking — turns out that a major premise presented in the material was false, and my entry was praised above all others for catching that.

Returning to the present day, as I've been working with Deborah to go over the text of YKYAMKW for the next printing, one item caught my eye:

271. You get excited about ice cream, but think that Baskin Robbins might be a legal firm, Häagen Dazs a European conductor, and TCBY a mission organization (Taking Christ’s Blessing to Youth).
Now, aside from some punctuation issues, it's always bothered me that I'd never even heard of TCBY as a missions organization. TCBY frozen yogurt, yes — I'd had it twice, back in California, with the LACC youth group — but missions, no. I always thought it was a weird name, anyway. So, after having this entry in the book for over ten years now, I decided to look it up.

Guess what?

It doesn't exist!

Or, maybe, it did, and it was so obscure that there's no mention of it anywhere on the web outside of YKYAMKW. Have you ever heard of it? Have I been duped for over a decade into thinking this was a real organization? I would dearly like to know.

In the meantime, I wonder what I should do... leave it as it is? Found a missions organization by that same name? Make up an alternate ending involving Ben and Jerry, those obnoxious twins from the other dorm? Go have some ice cream....? Hmm, I answered my own question...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Almost there...

After being sold out for much too long, the seventh edition of You Know You're an MK When... is almost ready to go to press. Deborah and I have to haggle out a few last changes, and then, off to the printers. Again. For the seventh time.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

At least he's ordering from us...

Consider the following:

  1. We don't have a litterbox for our cat. When he wants to go outside, he tells us.
  2. We don't have a cat flap in our door.
  3. Our bed is set up as a loft, with the computer, desk, and business equipment underneath.
  4. The cat usually wants to go out at about 4 a.m.
  5. We have a very bright cat...
Now, put that all together.

Have you figured out how the cat gets me up to let him out in the middle of the night? Yep... he jumps up on the desk underneath our bed, and starts pushing buttons on the credit card terminal. Beep! Beepittybeepbeep! Beep! Beep! Beeeeeep!

I can't sleep to it. No one could. I have to get up and let him out. And every time I do, I can't help but admire his ingenuity.

Not so much of a Monday after all

Now that I've been home and actually seen the car, I'm much relieved. The way Deborah described it on the phone, you'd think an entire corner of the car was missing. In reality, though, the lens on the cornering light is broken out, and the light still works. Other than a few small scratches, that was the only harm done.

The lady Deborah hit called back later — there's a call you'd dread returning! — but it was just to make sure that Deborah was OK. You run into the nicest people around here...

So now both sides of the car match — which I find oddly comforting, somehow. Not that I can explain why — perhaps I just like symmetry, even if it's symmetrical damage. Or perhaps it's the same sort of pride Deborah and I take in having completely mismatched, multi-sourced silverware. Yes, we could probably afford to have a nice, matching set, but somehow, the sentimental value (this set was given to us by a co-worker; this set was given to us by the Spites when Deborah first got her apartment here, this was passed on to us by my sister...) far outweighs the oddness of the place settings. Character triumphs over appearances. The world doesn't have to be perfect; in fact, it makes for a better story if it isn't.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday, continued

I just got a call from Deborah saying she got into an accident on the way to work. Something about not seeing a gray car on a gray day and pulling out into what turned out not to be an empty street. There's apparently little damage to the other car (a hubcap fell off) but she says the headlight on ours is completely gone.

Monday's Champion

I'm having a Monday.

I'm sending out Mrs. Potato Head to do battle as my champion.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Wonderful Warm Weekend

You couldn't beat the weather this weekend. The temperature was all the way up in the 50s and 60s. The vast wastelands of slush and mud were receding, and there was no reason to stay inside whatsoever.

Saturday morning, I volunteered to take Deborah's sewing machine to be repaired — in Marion, a good 65 miles away. On the motorcycle. (Of course!) She'd been pining to have it repaired for some time, but the local repairman evidently either didn't know how much of a gem a Singer Featherweight is, or was trying to cheat us out of it by offering us $40 on it as a trade-in — and neither interpretation inspired much confidence. So with the case ratcheted down to the passenger seat, and a big grin on my face, off to Marion I went, to a shop where we've had it worked on before. I tried to make out like I was doing Deborah a great service, but she wasn't buying it. She knew I just wanted to go for a long ride.

Along the way, stopped at a light in Wabash, I saw this building, which I'll let speak for itself.

How do you get a chicken drunk, anyway? They drink like birds!

Sunday afternoon was even warmer and sunnier.

Paul found a Frisbee that the kids hadn't stepped on, and several of us retreated to the back yard. Deborah said she'd be out once Fiona woke up from her nap.

Deborah catches one

May grabs gracefully

Paul plays with a handicap

Even Fiona got into it!

Deborah brought a Koosh ball to add to the mix. So after a while of simultaneous 3-way frisbee and 3-way catch, the game turned into something akin to shooting skeet. (Or Calivinball; I miss Calvin and Hobbes...) One person would throw the Frisbee, and the other person would try to knock it down with the Koosh ball. We teased Paul about not being able to hit the Frisbee, saying it wasn't his fault, because the reticle hadn't turned red yet — a lighthearted jab at his video game playing.

Deborah, knocking the Frisbee out of the air.

It was many hours before hunger drove us back inside.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A long look at the lake

I may as well post this one now. It'll be summer before I finish working on it to my complete satisfaction. (Frustrated perfectionist, that's me!) Anyway, I have no idea what Blogger is going to do to this one, or how much you'll be able to see, but it's worth clicking on the picture to open this one up bigger.

A long view of the lake.

This is a severely downsized version; the original is something like 150MB, and, if printed, would be 10 inches high and about 13 feet long. It's made up of 26 shots. (If you want to see a larger version than what's here, email me.)

A few weeks ago, May was clamoring for a chance to go out walking on the lake, and May, being May, didn't want to go do it alone. So Paul and I went out with her. We walked down our street, to the edge of the island, and, well, kept on walking. The snow was about four or five inches deep on the surface, so Paul and May spent a few minutes kicking aside the white powder so that they could actually stand on the ice itself.

Paul and May, on ice.

While was trying out the panorama/stitch feature on my camera (Click, turn, click, turn, click... I did two of these, and you can see the sun is lower at the end of the sequence than it was at the beginning!) Paul and May got quite a ways out — that's them in the first picture, about two-thirds of the way over.

After I was done, I jogged to catch up with the other two, who were chatting with the only other people out on the lake that evening. It turned out to be a father and son, out spending some time together in the cold. None of us had really had any contact with anyone that did ice fishing, so we stayed and chatted a while. It's a fairly complicated activity, to hear them tell it; I would have thought the fishing would be the easy part, and the main attraction would have been the quiet time out on the ice, away from all the noise of everyday life. Apparently that's a side benefit. (It might expalin why I've never caught much of anything when I've gone fishing, too.)

On the way back in, I noticed that the cheery glow coming from the houses wasn't the result of artificial lighting. It was a reflection of the natural glory of the setting sun.

"Picture window" takes on a whole new meaning.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Night Out

My mother-in-law gave all of us Barnes & Noble gift cards for Christmas. Thing is, there isn't a Barnes & Noble store within 50 miles of Winona Lake. So we had to make it a night out on the town. Such a sacrifice. :-)

Our first stop was next door, at the FlatTop Grill. This was a new experience for me; the idea is that it's a build-your-own stir-fry restaurant.

You'd be forgiven for thinking the long counters were a salad bar. In actuality, they're the main attraction. You get a bowl, and start going down the line, adding ingredients and sauces, and at the end you can add a small bowl of meat, and hand it over to the cooks.

There were also some colored swizzle sticks you could add to the bowl, indicating that the chefs should do something additional, like turn it into a soup, or a wrap, and add tofu, shrimp, etc.

I hadn't had more than a noodle soup and a banana all day, and I was starving. Aiden was evidently even hungrier than I was, and once he saw the food, it was quite a job keeping him from crying, at least until I realized that I could put together a bowl of food that didn't have to be cooked, and take it back to the table right away. Problem solved. Restaurant owners, take note... parents who can feed their kids while the adult food is cooking can be very good, grateful tippers... the ability to choose exactly what was in the bowl was a huge bonus. Most "kids' menu" items are hot dogs or mac 'n' cheese. Brown rice with black bean sauce went over far better!

By the time Aiden was satisfied, the food started arriving. My first attempt at making my own stir-fry was... subtle. White noodles with eggs, tofu, tomatoes, mushrooms, and chicken are good, but none of those ingredients exactly burst with wild flavor. My second attempt more than made up for the subtlety of the first: Yellow noodles with tomatoes, cilantro, tangerines, a load of hot peppers, mushrooms, red and green onions, and beef, drenched an an Asian peanut sauce. Oh, that was good. The Kerrs split a mango sorbet for dessert.

Once we settled up the bill (kids four and under eat free; that helped balance out the right-side-of-the-menu sticker shock for adults) we walked next door to Barnes & Noble.

Deborah found a large, squashy armchair and a small table, and sat down with the kids and a few books to read to them, while I was sent to gather more. We took turns reading to the kids and exploring the store. I found a Calvin and Hobbes collection that had somehow eluded my attention all these years; there went my portion of the gift card. We found a neat book called Not a Box for the kids, and got a copy for a friend of ours, as well. Deborah got something by Mercedes Lackey, and I have no idea what Paul and May got. (The person who gave us the gift cards is reading this, which is why I mention all this.)

We stayed way past the kids' bedtime — the store closed at 11:00! — and paid dearly for that oversight when we got home, but it was, on the whole, a very fun night out.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Dangerous Animal

For several weeks — months, now? — I have been joined in my outdoor activities by a small, very affectionate grey kitten. Taffy seems to get along with it quite well, and it is very cute...

I let him/her/it inside last night, just to see what would happen. Mostly it slunk around, hid under things, and inspired a lot of commentary from Fiona. Deborah told me not to get any ideas.

I have my own doubts, anyway, largely because of the missing tail. [Squeamish readers should skip to the beginning of the next paragraph] Now, I don't mean a little furry stub, I mean I can see the vertebrae. It doesn't look infected, but it's been that way for a few months now, so presumably it's not a fatal. How long does it take to heal over — or would it heal over at all? I'd hate to adopt it if it needed surgery.

Still, it is very cute...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Leave it to the Italians to make something inherently dangerous, and make it look cool.

From everything I've found on the web, this is a real machine. Of course, and it killed it's owner the first time out, while he was waving to a pretty girl. Ghastly accidents aside, I'm rather impressed that he was able to ride it at all, let alone confident enough on it to be both a) riding it in the mountains, and b) able to take at least one hand off the bars.

Cute little bugger, though, isn't it?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Life and times of some gingerbread men

We made gingerbread men.

Then, we decorated them.

What, did you expect normal? From us?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Memories at the back of the Fridge

There's something to be said for familiarity. You could say quite a lot, actually. It breeds contentment, contempt, or, maybe, that it clutters up your fridge.

The latter is the case here. Exhibit A, one lump of goat cheese. At this point, it's more useful as a building material than it is as a foodstuff. Food really shouldn't go "clunk" on your plate.

So why do I still have it?

Memories, really. Goat cheese, in this house, used to be known as "Arthur Bait," the one substance known to invoke an appearance by the Arthur twins — Alison and Andrea — by it's mere mention. We used to go through a lot of goat cheese. But then, the twins graduated, and moved away. And here is the cheese, years later, reminding me of fun times we had with them here.

In all honesty, though, I don't have much use for a lump of semi-petrified cheese at the back of my fridge. So I'm chronicling it here, and then, I'm going to throw it away. And so, perhaps, one day, either Alison or Andrea will come across this, and say, "We need to go visit Andy and Deborah!"

And if that happens, I will go and buy a new block of cheese.