Monday, April 30, 2007


We went minigolfing.

How many people does it take to teach a 3-year-old to play minigolf?

Aiden took a fairly direct approach to a low score.

Where did it go?
We managed to retrieve one of the balls, but we eventually figured out that there was a rock in there, and there were at least six balls backed up, including ours. Fortunately, we had gotten an extra ball for Aiden to play with, and we borrowed that to finish out the evening...

Sittin' by the dock o' the golf course, just a-wastin' time...

The princess and her castle.

Aiden occupied himself with the many pinecones (or, as Fiona calls them, pinecorns) that littered the course.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

How to pet a cat

This is the right way to pet a cat.

This is not the right way to pet a cat.

Aiden, with ball

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Beautiful Flowers

While we were playing out in the field behind our house, Fiona came up to me and said, "I have a be-yooo-tiful flower for you, Daddy!"

You think I'm going to tell her they're weeds? No way, baby.

I was touched, and went to fetch a camera to record the moment. Of course, that kind of attention doesn't go unnoticed. If Daddy reacts that way yo one flower...

...then a whole handful must be even better!

You'd be forgiven for confusing Fiona's hand and mine. Except for calluses and the ring, the only difference is size. It was one of the first things I noticed about her when she was born.

I briefly considered this as a means to dandelion control, but, for now, we'll be happy with sentiment. :-)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Signs of the times

Spring is in the air. Earthmovers move about, digging up random patches of land. Signs spring out of the ground. And the citizens of Winona Lake all wonder: What are they doing now?

Most of what I'm noticing these days has to do with the further construction of the bike path/greenway. And, I'm sorry to say, there are several parts of it that look either poorly thought-out, or downright unfriendly.

Winona Lake is acquiring a sad history of unfriendly signs; for many years, there were signs all over the place stating that "This Park is for the Use of the Village at Winona Patrons Only" ...which was offputting, to say the least, given that we'd been here longer than the Village, and it was previously just a public lawn. Those signs, fortunately are gone. More creative, I thought, were the ones stating "Parking in designated spaces only" ...with a notable absence of designated spaces nearby. But some, I can only look at in wonder, and ask, "What were they thinking?"

Take this one, for example:

This is, I must stress, on the lawn of the bike shop. Neither Nancy nor Rob were in at the moment, so I couldn't ask what was going on there, but I can't imagine they're pleased about it. No bikes! At a bike shop! If you want to say, "This is not the bike path you are seeking" then it would be better to put an arrow towards said bike path. Banning bicycles from that street isn't the answer. I might note that there's a similar sign right across the street. The deep irony there is that in about a week, they're going to be running a number of criterium-style bicycle races right down that very street!

Here's one that's just confusing, even a bit dangerous:

Use crosswalk? I don't see a crosswalk. There's a semicircular sidewalk, did they mean that? Are bikes supposed to go on the narrow sidewalk? If a cyclist makes that assumption, then there's trouble once s/he gets to the next sign:

Routing bicycle traffic down that little passageway looks like a recipe for disaster, especially given the two sets of double doors that open right into it. I can only hope that some future painted lines help clarify that cyclists should go on the asphalt; otherwise, there are going to be some painful accidents and probable lawsuits.

Here, though, is one that I agree with:

The bike route ends here. It was supposed to continue on for several miles, all the way to the other end of Warsaw. But Warsaw seems to have dropped that ball. So: Winona Lake: Kudos to you, in spite of the signs. Warsaw: get crackin', ya slackers!

One more sign

If you know me well, you know this is strange territory for me. Yes, that's a campaign sign. Yes, that's my front lawn.

I don't normally get caught up in local politics (or any politics, for that matter) but in this instance, I knew the candidate involved, and was more than happy to give him some space on my lawn.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Maybe that's why it seemed like news to me

About four weeks ago, I blogged about this article which was picked up by a number of news sources. I remember reading it and thinking, "Well, that is news to me..." and apparently I had good reason. The Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation has posted a rebuttal here (PDF, 156k).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fiona's first photo

I was up early, getting ready to go to church — I had to run the video and audio recording — and Fiona wandered out, saying she was looking for her camera. There were four of these little "cameras" running around, but I couldn't find any of them. "What do you want to take a picture of, Fiona?" I asked. "I want to take a picture of your bicycle." "Would you like to try using a real camera?" "Sure!" ...and so, I present to you, Fiona's first photograph:

OK, so there was a bit of coaching and handholding, but I'm proud of her anyway.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A nice mug of cold chocolate

So it's supposed to be Spring? Don't worry! A nice mug of cold chocolate will cool you right down again!

A taste of Koscuisko County

Last week, we all went down to the County Fairgrounds for the annual "Taste of Agriculture in Koscuisko County." (You know you've been living here for a while when you can spell "Koscuisko" without looking it up...) We've been before, so some of these might look a little familiar to some of you, except that the kids are a year older.

Right when you get there, there's a tractor blocking the way. And it's huge. I dread coming across one of these things on a backroad in fall, because it takes up both lanes, even with one of the wheels off in the ditch, going 15 miles an hour...

Aiden, inside the hub of one of the wheels of an enormous tractor. The whole thing was about as wide as our house, and probably cost about four times as much.

What? I need a caption?

One of the reasons we enjoy going every year is the free samples. It is, indeed, a taste of Koscuisko. They're handing out popcorn as you walk in (corn) and really, really good hand-made ice cream (dairy) as well as getting samples of things you can't eat, like soy candles.

Let's see, there's an egg, barbecued buffalo (small cup at the top), buffalo sausage, roast duck (at bottom), lamburger (far right), and I don't recall what's in the cup on the far left, although it was tasty.

Mentone, IN, just to the southwest of us, purports to be the "Egg basket of the Midwest" and includes such attractions as the World's Largest Concrete Egg. They also bring along warm fuzzies...

Two chicks.

I love the expression here. This is obviously one of those "Don't call me a chick" chicks.

While we were there, we got to see guys handling livestock... hey, wait a minute... how'd that photo get in here...?

There were, of course, other things to see an touch, like pigs (pre-inked with cut lines) and sheep (who being sheared every half-hour or so) as well as demonstrations of horseshoing and the like.

"I'm not too sure about this human..."

If only I had thought to have my goatee on the outside of the board.

Monday, April 16, 2007

From the mail bag...

Fill in the blank:
"You're so _________, Google sends you snail mail."

I don't even know where to start with this one. First Class Mail Received from Original Parcel Post and Answered Via Duplicate Airmail. Huh? The poem included with the order was cheerful enough. This one certainly counts as the most interesting letter I've received this year.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A grand canvas

Since October, I've been working, an hour here, a half hour there, on a canvas out in the shed. By chance, I happened across a post on CycleForums from a couple out in Washington that wanted a charcoal-on-canvas drawing of motorcycle parts to hang over their mantel. A few emails later, I had the job. It's not a small piece, and neither charcoal nor canvas are forgiving of mistakes, but I'm having a good deal of fun with it.

The working environment — the shed was the only place I could fit a canvas this big. Back when it was real cold out, It took over an hour of running the heater full-blast to get things up above freezing. The brown bottle contains Skullsplitter, which I highly recommend, if you're the sort that takes such recommendations.

Progress to date. For those of you completely unfamiliar with motorcycle parts, that's a rear shock overlaid with a brake rotor. More parts will be appearing in the days to come.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ego Surfing

Inspired by Jonadab's post, I Googled my own name. (Yes, that's a verb now. I side with the neologists.) Now, it used to be that — back when Yahoo! was the only good way to find things on the web — my own homepage would come up in the top of the rankings every time. That's no longer true. Apparently, I now have a much more storied existence: I am a great conservationist, I have football stadiums named after me (which is unusual, as I'm apparently a rugby player) and, improbably, I am both a Colorado state representative and a member of Scottish parliament. I didn't know they allowed one to assume simultaneous roles of leadership in multiple countries.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More snow?

Whoever bumped the thermostat back to "winter," please go and adjust it to the proper temperature. It's April. The joke's over, OK? Thanks.


Every few years, I hear about this enormous Christian conference in Urbana, Illinois. Thousands upon thousands of people attend. And whenever I ride south on Rt. 13, I can't help thinking, What if they got their states mixed up? What if, instead of Urbana, IL, they go to Urbana, IN?

I rode through Urbana a few weeks ago, on my way down to pick up Deborah's sewing machine. Out here, they'd call Urbana a blink'n'missit; out East, it would be a poke'n'plumb — poke your nose in, and you're plumb through. It's a rural farming community, with a short row of houses, a gas station, and... Pam's Cafe.

I've always admired the paint on this place. If they'd pained it a solid white, I probably wouldn't have given it a second look.

This place has always intrigued me as I've ridden past it, partly because of the paint, and partly because of the fact that I had never seen it open. This day, however, open it was. So I parked amidst the dozen or so heavy-duty pickups, and poked my head in.

"WELL, YOU LOOK COMFORTABLE." The two waitresses — one of whom I suspected to be Pam herself — were on break, smoke curling up from their mirrored cigarettes. Comfortable? I had to laugh in spite of myself — I'd obviously been riding in the rain, every inch of my riding gear dripping. "I'm OK," I chuckled, "at least I'm dressed for it." "WHAT CAN WE GETCHA?" I wanted to get something — breakfast sounded good — but I hadn't seen any credit card stickers on anything, and I knew I didn't have the cash, but I asked anyway. Pam's raspy, pack-a-day, small-cap voice took on a hounded note. "NO HON, NOT YET, WE'RE GETTIN' IN ONE OF THEM MACHINES NEXT WEEK. YOU CAN GO TO ONE OF THEM MACHINES UP AT THE MINI-MART, OR WE CAN TAKE CHECKS. WE'RE OPEN UNTIL TWO." I needed to get down to Marion before the sewing machine shop closed anyway, so I said I'd be back.

Open until two, I mused. No wonder it was never open when I went past. As I motored on, I realized that I actually had my checkbook inside my coat pocket. D'oh!

An hour and a half later, sewing machine retrieved and firmly strapped to by passenger seat, I was back, and hungry for lunch.

Fortunately, Deborah has a nice, small sewing machine, and the gals at the shop down in Marion gave me a few bags to wrap the case in. The top bag hides the heavy-duty tie-downs that are actually holding the case to the bike.

I hadn't relized it on my first glance, but Pam's Cafe was... a farmer hangout. The scenes on the outside walls hadn't tipped me off. The John Deere wall plaques, toy tractors, and the seed-company mug did, though. A group of farmers sat in the other room, swapping stories. "He took his Case out into the fields last week, rutted 'em up something bad." I and my city-boy self felt like we'd stepped into an alternate universe. "Say, how do you get yer innernet service? I've got a satellite hookup, but I've been thinkin; one of them DSL lines might be better, can you get that through the REMC?" My alternate universe took an odd twist. I started to gather that things worked a whole different way out here. Phone companies I'd never heard of. Prices for corn and soybeans checked every morning. Satellites and GPS. No one mentioned the rain. Clearly, my view of farmers needed an update.

It was fascinating to just sit and listen to the world go by here. These guys seemed like they hd all the time in the world. It was like I was transported into an episode of Prarie Home Companion.

There were customer photos all over the walls. Well, all over the walls that didn't have farming motifs all over them.

Lunch arrived. My waitress had said the tenderloin sandwich was pretty good, so I got that — although it took me a minute to realize that it was, indeed, a sandwich — the breaded meat hid both halves of the bun and hung over the edge of the plate. It wasn't until I'd eaten a four inches of it that I discovered the lettuce.


After my second cup of hot chocolate, it was getting on towards 2:00, and things were shutting down. I discovered my check underneath my plate, and went to pay. I resisted the temptation to play with the toy tractors on the counter while my waitress added up the bill. I left that afternoon, my hunger sated, and my mind satisfied that I'd finally gotten to experience this place after riding past it so many times.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Readers

On the evenings after we come home from the library, you really shouldn't expect to get anything done around this house. It just doesn't happen.

Eggcelent Eggs

I've always felt that Easter eggs have a pretty tenuous connection with Easter (More with Ishtar, perhaps?) but they're still fun to do. We didn't even start these until about 9:00 the night before — they were still warm as we decorated them — but they came out pretty nice nonetheless.

Deborah's (left) and mine (right)

Paul's (left) and Fiona's (right)

Aiden's first Easter egg.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

That's my boy!

This afternoon, May gave Aiden some "Hoppin' Hot Habanero" kettle chips — the ones that ended up requiring a warning in front of them at my birthday party — and he loved them! He kept coming back for more! I'm so proud of him.


OK, I took my swing. Your turn!

It took a bit to get the kids to understand. We told Aiden to hit it with the bat, and he tapped it gently as everyone cheered. Some of the other kids refused to do it at all, horrified that we were going to break this thing. Once the candy started flying, however, they caught on...

Where is this thing? I can't find it!

I got a bit of a surprise while I was getting my three hits in — a strange trickling sensation on my head! Matt Williams later confessed. I said it was a very brave thing to do to a guy who was holding a bat...

A hit, a palpable hit! Mike Carl takes a chunk off the piñata.

Paul, however, was the one that finally brought it down.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Gotta start somewhere!

Quick — name a movie or show directed by Tim Burton, starring James Earl Jones and Leonard Nimoy.

You're probably thinking to yourself, "What kind of movie is that? A creepy Halloween-sci-fi-political thriller?" ...ah, think back further, before those guys got defined in their signature roles and styles. Now, imagine them in extremely low-budget productions — you've seen more elaborate props at a high-school play. Imagine them acting melodramatic — complete hams.

This is the joy of watching Faerie Tale Theatre. Shelley Duvall, executive producer, didn't spend a lot of money on these things, but she had an uncanny knack for picking actors who would go on to be big names in Hollywood. May got the whole collection for Christmas, and we've been watching them on nights when it's too late to start a full-length movie, but want to watch something.

Tomorrow night, Robin Williams as the frog in the Frog Prince...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I don't feel that old, though

For those of you who count in binary, I am 100000 years old today. For those of you that don't... well, there are only 10 types of people in the world: those that can count in binary, and those that can't. :-)

I do wonder what's going to become of my birthday party this evening; we had initially planned for outdoor games in the backyard with my friends and their kids, but with near-freezing temperatures and 50-mph gusts, we might have to find a different location. Indoor piñata, anyone?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

5 minutes

It takes about five minutes for two adults to re-roll half a roll of toilet paper. Guess how we know?

Done! Well, almost.

I handed off the inside pages of You Know You're an MK When... to the printer this morning.


Now I just need to update the covers.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Could this be a first?

For work, I created a drop-down website menu. Nothing new, right? Ah, but have you ever seen a drop-down menu in cuneiform? I thought not! Check it out here.

I'm to blame for some of the other stuff on that page, too.