Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween

We did our trick-or-treating last night. Here are the kids in their Halloween costumes:

Tiny Princess is on the left and Sonshine on the right.

And just in case you don't have enough proof that Bagel is the cutest little bug in the world:


Election Day Menu

I'm debating what to serve for dinner on Election Day. If I serve chicken, and Kerry gets elected, then I'll be having chicken two nights in a row. Kerry's all but promised a chicken in every pot, and I've got several pots, at least one of which is likely to be out on the stove at any given time. I just hope he deposits the chicken in the clean one. At any rate, if he wins we will be serving waffles for breakfast.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bagel Food

I gave Bagel about a tablespoon of rice cereal last night. I was going to exclusively breastfeed him for six months, but I gave in because hoped I could get him to sleep for once. I could really do with a night's sleep, or at least a quickie with Favorite Husband.

I put a bit of the cereal in Bagel's mouth, and he gave me this quizzical look like "What's this? It doesn't taste like milk!" Then I put a spoonful of it in my mouth, and you could see the realization come over his face-- "Ahhh, it's that 'food' stuff you guys eat! Cool!! I've been wanting to try some of that!" And he ate it all gleefully.

And then he slept. Not too long, just long enough for me to get a little bit of stuff done.

We'll give him some more tonight...

UPDATE: The second feeding didn't go well at all. With each spoonful he gagged and threw up a considerable amount of milk.

Looking For A Prophet?

Doug Giles is looking for prophetic leadership for Christians.

I think we can accommodate him...

Friday, October 29, 2004

Designer Tin Foil Hats

Just in time for all your post-election needs: Designer Tin Foil Hats. Link via Mim.

Probabilistic Election Model

Q and O provides a link to a probabilistic model of the election, done by Stanford. I like this model better than the models based on polling data (and not just because it's predicting Bush will win, either, since all the ones I've seen also predict a Bush win.) No, I like it because it's based on probabilities. See, even in a "statistical dead heat," there is always some probability that your guy will win, which can vary quite a bit. For example, if Bush leads Kerry 50 to 48 with a 3% margin of error, you have to consider not only the scenario where Kerry wins 51 to 47, but also where Bush wins 53-45, etc. etc. It's not always a 50% chance that your guy will win just because the poll has it statistically tied. Not only that, but the very idea of the 3% confidence interval is that 95% of the time, the actual numbers fall within that 3%; that leaves the 5% chance that they don't. This model takes all of that into account.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Pick a Number Between 1 and 10

Most people, when asked to pick a number between 1 and 10, pick an integer. Me, I prefer to pick numbers of mathematical significance. It just comes with the territory of being a math nerd.

If you want to be witty and impress your physics major friends, you can choose Pi (3.141...) or e (2.718...). But if you really want a number with distinction, you will choose the Golden Ratio ((1+ sqrt 5)/2, or approximately 1.618...) It is found all over nature, has a distinguished history among the ancient Greeks, and is an algebraic number (unlike Pi or e, which are both transcendental).

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Test The Shopping Cart!

The shopping cart is ready on my business website. It's now time to see if the cart really works from computers other than my own!

I would like to invite my readers who come across this message on or before 1 November to test out my shopping cart system. It's quick, easy, and fun! Just go to the website, select whatever you want (no limit, since you're not paying!), and check out as if you were buying it! When it asks for your billing info, just enter some nonsense like sdlkfhklasjhd (be sure to enter a bogus e-mail addy too) and when it asks for payment method, click "Test Payment Option". You won't be actually buying anything. (If you really do want to buy something, though, you can, but you will need to give a real address and choose a real payment option.)

Just for fun too, if you place a test order, you can try entering one of these options where it asks for a voucher number. If you enter 111040015 it should give you 15% off, and if you enter 211045629 it should give you free shipping.

You can place as many test orders as you like. Try a bunch of different options, add items from different pages, etc.! Make sure to e-mail me, though, if you encounter any difficulties or notice any room for improvement, broken links, returning you to a page you weren't shopping on when you return to shopping, etc. When I first started testing the cart system, it kept tacking on enormous shipping charges (like $270 for $10 worth of merchandise) until I figured out what it was doing wrong. Stuff like that I'd like to hear about.

Thanks in advance, everyone!

Happy 4 Month Birthday, Bagel

Bagel turns four months old today!

Blood For Oil-- Damn Straight!

William F. Buckley does it again! I love his writings. This one's about oil and how it's worth expending blood over. Link via Instapundit.

It's always struck me as ironic how people will write "No Blood For Oil!!" on their polyester T-shirt, drive to a rally in their SUV to chant "No Blood For Oil!!", and on the way home stop at the market for a plastic half gallon jug of milk and imported organic carrots from Chile.

Gender Neutral Bathrooms

I'm not a "prude" when it comes to bathroom functions. When you have a baby and have an entire medical team poking and prodding your private parts looking for somebody else's head, you kinda lose your sense of privacy. By the time you potty train your child, you pretty much don't care who sees you squat, because your days already entirely revolve around the bathroom. Breastfeeding can assist women in getting over their fear of nudity too. You learn not to live in mortal fear of that blanket slipping. I figure I haven't got any "equipment" of any type people haven't seen before, so I've got nothing to be ashamed of if occasionally a glimpse of me is caught despite my best efforts.

Nevertheless, people (being, sadly, not all me) can get pretty vocal and upset about using the bathroom. I once witnessed a fight nearly break out in a women's bathroom because a lady brought her seven or eight year old son into the ladies' room at an IKEA store. One woman (who admitted she had never had children) claimed the child was peeking at her through the crack in the stall door, and took the mother to task for it, saying she ought to have left the child outside the bathroom (in Southern California, yeah right!!!) instead of bringing him in with her so that she could use the potty. She nearly came to blows with the mother after the mother had already handled the situation by lecturing the boy on privacy in the bathroom-- what else could the mother do after the fact?-- and she said she would not be satisfied until the mother corporally punished the child in public, something that can get you arrested in California. Evidently the childless woman was less concerned with whether the boy received guidance and more concerned about scratching the boy's visual image of her sitting on the pot out of his mother's eyes. Someone had seen her in the Sacred Act Of Pottying, and the little infidel must now be sacrificed to purify the Porcelain Temple.

So it comes as no surprise to me that there are people who are upset that there are no transgendered bathrooms-- they've been upset about it at least since I was in college ten years ago. And it also comes as no surprise to learn that there are people who are upset by the idea of transgendered bathrooms. What I'd like to know is, why hasn't anyone considered a solution to the problem that will not only satisfy everyone involved, but also benefit families and the disabled?

Out here in Utah it's not uncommon to see three bathrooms in public places: one for men, one for women, and one "family bathroom". The family bathroom contains the usual bathroom features (with the addition of a diaper changing table) and is commodious enough to fit a small pottying child, his parent, and his entire entourage of lesser, stroller-bound siblings and eye-rolling older siblings moaning about how this is his third trip to the bathroom in ten minutes. The family bathroom serves dual purpose as a bathroom for the disabled, being large enough to accommodate a wheelchair and/or assistant. The family bathroom would have been the ideal solution for both the childless woman who must have absolute privacy while pottying, and for the mother whose child was too old for the ladies' room but too young to stay outside by himself. And a family bathroom would easily be able to serve the transgendered, who would see the male/female sign outside it and find inside it relief from (gender) pressures. Those who would be upset by the installation of a bathroom specifically for people they find repulsive would be appeased, because the bathroom would be for families (families being much more prevalent than the transgendered).

It wouldn't be pandering to a special interest group to install a family bathroom, since they are so useful to so many different people (as well as helping meet building codes that require facilities for the disabled). So why don't we just install more family bathrooms as the opportunity arises?

Just a thought.

Lunar Eclipse

I think I will take the telescope outside tonight (weather permitting) and show the kids the lunar eclipse. For once the eclipse is taking place at a time they can decently be up. There is no school tomorrow for Tiny Princess, and Sonshine doesn't have to be to school until 9:30, so I think I will let them stay up for an hour past their bedtime to see it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Now I'm Confused

I just saw a commercial on TV wherein the Republican candidate for Congress, running against a Democratic incumbent, accused the incumbent of voting against the prescription drug benefit for seniors. Am I on the right planet??

UPDATE: Yup, it's true.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Gratuitous Baby Picture

It's been a while since I posted a gratuitous baby picture, so here's one:

This is Bagel (on the right) and his cousin, who is six months older than him. Would you believe just by looking at them that they are full first cousins??

BTW they're both laying on the organic cotton blanket I made for Bagel.

Endorsement: Matheson for Governor

OK, it's time for Organic Baby Farm (A.K.A. me) to endorse a gubernatorial candidate in the Utah race. After a careful overview of the major issues and the candidates' websites, I am endorsing Scott Matheson (yes, the Democrat) for governor.

The two candidates, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Scott Matheson Jr., are actually pretty much alike. Both come from prominent Utah families. Both take pretty much the same sorts of positions on some of the major issues (probably because you can't get elected in Utah if you don't, as current governor Olene Walker found out). It's almost six of one, half dozen of the other.

On education, one of (I think) Utah's most important issues, Matheson is for charter schoools, against vouchers and tuition tax credits. I'm for charters and tuition tax credits, but I'm against vouchers (that's a whole other post). Matheson also wants to "eliminate duplicative and unnecessary state mandates," something that I think bogs down our districts. Matheson does not like NCLB, but I really don't either. I'm not thrilled about his attitude toward its objectives (which I do think are admirable), although I think he's likely to make policy decisions that work in the direction of improving our schools, which is the main objective of NCLB.

On water, Matheson sounds like he would be aggressive in claiming our water rights on the Colorado, the same river that feeds Los Angeles and other large cities that have a history of expanding without making the same environmental considerations that places like Utah do with regard to water supplies. On the environment, Matheson is against nuclear waste storage in Utah (in this I disagree with him), but the very first item on his environmental agenda is clean air, which is one of the more pressing environmental issues in Cache Valley. Every winter we get weather "inversions" that trap air in the valley, making our air pollution levels peak temporarily. They're starting to talk about enforcing vehicle emissions standards. We are trying to take care of this ourselves before the EPA has to come in and make our lives miserable.

Huntsman favors tuition tax credits, and his position on education appears to be closer to mine. Huntsman's positions on the environment and transportation appear to be identical to Matheson's. So you might ask, why endorse Matheson over Huntsman, if I agree more with Huntsman's positions? Well, it all gets back to my extreme dislike of voting for someone who campaigns with platitudes instead of concrete plans. Huntsman's "plan" is full of rhetoric and nice-sounding phrases, and my experience has been that people with that sort of "plan" end up making laws that sound nice but have no teeth to accomplish their nice-sounding and worthy objectives. Matheson, by contrast, has on his website issue-by-issue "executive summaries" of his plan, plus a more detailed plan available for those who want more detail. These are all packed full of specifics. I'd rather elect a candidate with a plan I sort of agree with, than elect a candidate who expects me to buy a pig in a poke just because he says this pig is perfect for me. I understand that not everyone will be interested in reading a point-by-point plan, but Matheson has dealt with that adequately by giving summaries of his positions and making a detailed version available with a single click.

And finally, we turn to the "intangibles." Huntsman has an adopted daughter. I know this because he regularly shows pictures of her in his commercials while loudly proclaiming that he loves his daughter just the same as his other kids and would never use her to his political advantage. It seems to me that is using her to his political advantage; if he really felt exactly the same way about her as about his other kids, it would never have occurred to him to point out how different she is from them. I also read a comment that he made during the Republican primaries, which accused his major opponent, Nolan Karras, of using his status as scion of a prominent Utah family as a crutch for his campaign. When I read that, I just laughed out loud. If Huntsman really were concerned about not playing the Huntsman family card, he would drop the "junior" from his name in the campaign. I didn't even know Scott Matheson was a "junior" until I scrolled down to the bottom of one of his executive summary pages and saw his signature.

So I am endorsing Scott Matheson for governor. I don't agree with all his positions, but I figure the only way I'll ever find a candidate I agree with 100% is to run myself. But his best feature is that he is willing to put his neck on the line and tell me where he stands, and I respect that.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Interesting Genealogical Fact

Bush and Kerry are eighth cousins twice removed.

Link via Citizen Smash.

Scripture of the Day

Proverbs 12:25

Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

Make someone glad today.

John Kerry: Man Of My Dreams

I had a dream about John Kerry last night. I was out for a walk in downtown Logan and we both ended up waiting to cross the street at the light. He walked with me a bit. He was trying to campaign at me, and I could tell he was desperately trying to tailor his message to me based on what demographic profile he thought I fit. It was awkward and quite laughable. Also I kept snacking on little raw pumpkins; they were quite soft and sweet and delicious, like fruits.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Busy, Busy, Busy

In addition to making the really cool Javascript on my business website (did I mention it was really cool?) I got my garlic planted yesterday. I planted an area of approximately 48 square feet in nothing but garlic. Why yes, I do love garlic a lot. Actually, the reason I plant so much is that I have two brown thumbs. I figure if I plant a whole lot of garlic, I won't be capable of killing all of it, and then I'll have some garlic to cook with. I also plant garlic because everybody else on my block plants tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, and zucchini.

I almost didn't get the garlic in. The last few rows were hastened along by the constant cries of Sonshine, who got sent to his room for the duration of the planting because he stepped on Bagel's stomach the minute I went out. Sonshine needed to use the toilet and was evidently stymied by the fact that a spot on the bathroom floor had suddenly and inexplicably become sticky, so he was wailing for me to come back in and solve his dilemma, preferably by instantly cleaning the floor. I was afraid he would relieve himself on the carpet, so I went back in to assist him. Unfortunately for him, I made him step over the sticky spot and use the potty anyway.

This summer I was disappointed in my garlic harvest because practically none of it grew. I had purchased my seed garlic last fall over the internet, and alas, very few of the plants came up in the spring. So this year I got my seed garlic locally, and I also used some of my garlic from last year that actually did come up (that worked out well). I bought some Inchelium, Silver Rose, and Spanish Roja, and also this really gigantic garlic from a guy at the Gardeners' Market who didn't know what kind of garlic it was, but that it always produced really gigantic heads. The garlic I saved from this summer's harvest was either Killarney Red or Spanish Roja, I forgot to label which it was so I got it mixed up. It's not like I can tell the difference anyway. I want the softneck garlics for braiding, because I want to make garlic braids for my sister just to piss off her husband who hates garlic (just kidding, L and C, you know I love you anyway). I use the hardneck garlics in my kitchen because it's easier for the kids to help peel them so that I can make vinha d'alhos or chicken adobo.

Fun With Javascript

Check out the really cool thing I did with Javascript! (Javascript geeks can yawn at the simplicity of the code, but it's all new to me).

Ohh, allright, I fess up. I copied the code out of a book. I don't know anything about Javascript, and the last computer programming I did was a C++ class in college. But isn't it really cool?? And I did it without asking Favorite Husband for any help. And, what's most amazing, I did it in between Bagel's feedings. It was so quick, I didn't even have to take a "milk break"!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Should We Encourage People To Vote?

There have been a lot of voter registration drives and "get out the vote" movements in preparation for the election. Some people are wondering if it is a good idea to merely get warm bodies into the voting booths, if those warm bodies are attached to heads that have not been following politics and/or are basing their votes on a flip of their lucky coin.

My view on the matter is colored by my experience with fair division, which was the topic of my Master's paper. In fair division, where a "cake" is divided up fairly among a bunch of players, the players are all assumed to have a "value system" (measure, for those technical math junkies out there) by which they determine the value of any given piece of cake. As part of the rules of fair division, players' value systems are not questioned or challenged. If a player says that piece of cake is 30% of the entire cake, that's what it is to that player, even if someone else thinks it's 20% and another thinks it's 50%. If you start requiring players to value a piece a certain way, it throws off the fairness of the algorithm.

Likewise I leave each voter's measure of the candidates to their own devices. If you want to base your vote for a candidate on which is alphabetically first, on how much he pays for his haircuts, on the aspects of Venus in conjunction with Jupiter, on the basis of numerological analysis of the book of Hosea or the fact that he came to your town before the election and the other guy didn't, that's your prerogative. I can think you're stupid for doing it (that's my right), but I can't take away your right. The law says that if you are a citizen, you have a right to vote. Period.

Now ideally I would like people to make decisions the way I do, which is a natural human impulse since we all like to think we are right. I can try to persuade people to vote in a particular way or for a particular candidate. But I would not support, for example, a law requiring a certain level of education about political matters as a voting test. How do you administer the test? Where do you draw the passing cutoff? What do you do when a party unfavorable to your view steps in and makes holding their political views a requirement for voting? We would laugh at the disenfranchisement of people who base their decisions on coin flips, and we would almost all laugh at taking away the vote of people who base their decision on astrology, but when they take away the vote of the people who base their votes on Biblical prophecy or a misguided sense of what's "good for the environment", we won't be laughing.

So we laugh at the people who vote for Kerry because they think Bush is personally coming to steal their jobs out from under them, and we laugh at the people who vote for Bush because they think Kerry is personally going to take away their guns. But don't you dare take their votes away from them.

UPDATE: Xrlq provides us with a perfect example of one of the quirky ways in which people, even informed people like Xrlq, make their decisions of whom to elect.

Rain, Rain, Enough OK???

It has been raining here all week, pretty much nonstop until yesterday afternoon. And rain or snow is in the forecast for each of the next ten days, except for today. So I have today to do all my yardwork: plant my garlic, put the cinderblocks around the tulip bed, plant the xeriscaping perennials I traded for, etc. I don't know if I'll get it all done-- particularly the tulip bed, since that requires hauling dirt from the landscaping place-- but I'll have to try.

The rain is a good thing-- we are in the sixth year of drought and our reservoirs and lakes are dangerously low-- but we've already had more rain in this week than we usually get in the entire month of October. If it helps get us out of the drought, I'll grumble and put up with it. I really shouldn't grumble, though. I don't have a choice whether or not it rains, so the only thing I can choose is my attitude about it, and I ought to choose to have a better attitude. I do wish it would rain for only a few days at a time, though, so that Sonshine could get outside and play. He's starting to get cabin fever.

Being a Stay At Home Mom

I am really enjoying staying home with my kids, so much that I am seriously considering not going back to teaching at the university next semester-- or possibly ever. My kids are eminently enjoyable, and I owe them my attention. I like being able to sit on the couch and crochet while Sonshine invents new worlds out of toilet paper tubes and prattles interminably about their origins and futures. I love being able to withstand the furious eye-rolling of Tiny Princess as she's told to clean her room again. I enjoy having the time to catch baby Bagel's eye and make him smile, then on a whim play with him for a minute and make him laugh. I am under so much less stress now. I don't get mad at the kids when they dawdle for a minute, putting my precisely timed schedule off. I can handle it when Favorite Husband calls to let me know he's bringing home dinner tonight, even though I already started cooking dinner.

Women who want to stay at home with their kids can find a way to do it. It requires being creative and unconventional. You may have to invent your own business or create your own work-at-home job. This is hard work, but not impossible. Necessity is the stay-at-home mother of invention.

And it is sooooooooo worth all the effort.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Don't-Pledge Drive

Our local NPR station is having its bi-annual pledge drive. Once again, I beg my readers not to donate. A rational argument why not is here. But this time around I urge you to not donate in order to teach these people a lesson in economics: if you offer a product for free, don't expect anyone to buy it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Why I'm voting this year

It was an ordinary Tuesday morning. My husband left early for work. He kissed me as I lay groggily in the bed cuddling our eighteen-month-old son. My nearly four-year-old daughter was still asleep. Soon I would have to get up, but I'd wait for the consensus of the kids, and I'd catch just a few more much-needed Z's.

The radio had been playing softly all night, and was tuned to our local classical music station, which played NPR in the mornings. As I drifted in and out of sleep, the news of the day repeated. Gradually, bits of it, as in a dream, came into my consciousness.

A plane.

A plane crashed.

A plane crashed and it was horrible, horrible (I rolled over and went back to sleep because the media always think plane crashes are horrible, horrible)

A horrible plane crash.

A horrible plane crash in New York City.

I sat bolt upright in bed. Sonshine startled and woke up.

I went into the living room and turned on our TV, the place I had always gotten my news before I started listening to radio instead. And I saw the second plane crash. And I knew then, before anyone would say it definitively, that the first had been no accident. Because despite everyone's fears of a fiery death, the odds of a plane crash are very, very low. The odds of a plane crash in Manhattan were astronomically low, although it could happen. But the odds of two plane crashes right next to each other in Manhattan was just way too low for this to be an accident. I watched dumbfounded as it sunk in that this had to have been planned by a group of my fellow human beings.

As the second plane crash was played over and over again on the television, my daughter began to get scared. She saw the fireball and knew something bad had happened in which people surely had died, but she didn't understand it. So I turned off the television. And I logged onto the internet. I've been getting my news over the internet ever since.

I don't sleep with the radio on any more. Every morning I wake up, log on, and load up my favorite news website. I don't really read the news much any more; I don't have a lot of time in the mornings, now that Tiny Princess needs to get off to school. I just want to see what the banner headline is. If the banner headline is "Democrats Rude To Republicans: Republicans Give As Good As They Get", then I know I'm safe today and the world will go on as planned for twenty-four more hours. I say my morning prayers, and I thank the Lord for giving me one more day.

But I fear the day that the banner will read "Chicago devastated by 'dirty bomb' attack" or "Chemical weapons released in Los Angeles". I have relatives in Los Angeles. I want the group of my fellow human beings who make this sort of thing possible hunted down and brought to justice. God will surely condemn them for their murders. I would like for someone to arrange for them to meet with Him as soon as possible.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Movie Review: Man On Fire

I'm a fan of Denzel Washington, but I'm not going to recommend Man On Fire. It has an interesting enough plot, but the violence is gory and the sountrack sounds like it was recycled from the movie Gladiator. Worst of all, the cinematography is done in that gritty, trendy hopping-around-on-a-pogo-stick-while-high-on-ecstasy style that our kids are going to roll their eyes at the same way we roll our eyes at other dated film styles. I almost turned it off after the first ten minutes because it became completely unwatchable; it made me dizzy. If you are prone to seizures I highly recommend you pass this film by.

Doesn't My Service Count?

Note to readers: this post is full of Mormon references. I've tried to make it comprehensible to the non-Mormon, since the feelings behind it are universal and human. I hope it goes without saying that my readers are respectful enough to not post comments denigrating my religion.

The weekend before last, Favorite Husband and I went to the temple. Someone (I don't know who) came up with the idea that to honor the late Marjorie Pay Hinckley, wife of our church president Gordon B. Hinckley, we should have a "temple drive" of sorts and try to reach a specified goal of increased temple service in the month of October. I didn't see anything wrong with a "temple drive", although I was a little bit uncomfortable with doing it in honor of Sister Hinckley. Sister Hinckley was a great person, but something tells me she's a little too humble to want to be singled out for honor like that. And besides, I don't believe we should elevate our church leaders like that, let alone their wives. They are in positions of authority, but I think some people's adoration of them borders on saint worship.

When we got to the temple, a sign was up at the front desk saying they needed people to participate in sealing ceremonies (eternal marriage ceremonies, done by proxy for our ancestors). Typically a session of temple service is participation in the endowment ceremony on our ancestors' behalf, and this is done individually. Sealing ceremonies, however, cannot proceed without the presence of three or four men, and it is not uncommon to see a sign there suggesting people go up and do sealing ceremonies. Since F.H. and I like to serve where we are most needed at the temple, we went up and did sealings instead of endowments. We had a great time, met some people who were related to other people we knew, and the temple president himself popped his head in and thanked us for our service in the temple.

This Sunday at church, a clipboard was circulated whereon people who had gone to the temple as part of this "temple drive" were to record their service so that it could be counted toward the goal. But I was told they only wanted to count endowments done, and that sealings didn't count. After the lady collecting the data had said the words "sealings don't count," another lady realized how crass that sounded and assured me that, in the eternal perspective, sealings do count, just, um, not for purposes of these statistics. Nice save, but a little too late.

The sealing ceremonies are just as important as the endowment ceremonies, but it seems to me that the person who cooked up this "temple drive" idea must be one of those people who evaluates righteousness by bean-counting selected good works. You know, one of those who judges the success of someone's mission by how many people they baptized. We should rejoice in the service of our Lord, no matter what the statistics say. Making service all about the statistics, especially service in the temple, I think is wrong. Even though I'm all for increased temple attendance, I don't like this "temple drive" one bit.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The End Of The Gardeners' Market

The Gardeners' Market is finally over! It's been great, but getting up at 6 every morning to go set up my booth was getting really old. Making organic cotton oven mitts is getting really old too, but they're one of my bestselling items, so I don't think I can afford to stop now.

We had an excellent sales day. Tiny Princess brought the sachets she's made, and sold fourteen of them for one dollar apiece. She came home so thrilled that she spread her fourteen dollars out in front of her brother and her friends. I've instructed her to bring $1.40 of it to church to pay tithing, and put the rest in an envelope to take to the bank.

Mim took over $100 in special orders, and I took nearly that amount as well. The kids got free pumpkins and free face painting. It was a great day.

Now I have a month to regroup, fill the special orders, finish all the yardwork that didn't get done on Saturdays because I was just bone-tired, and work up all the new stuff for the Winter Gift Market on November 20. After that there will be two weeks until the AVA Artisan Day, at which I'm considering setting up a booth. Hopefully between both of those events I'll have made enough money to have a nice Christmas.

UPDATE: you need to be an AVA member to put a booth up at Artisan Day, and membership appears to cost $25. I'm going to have to find out how much traffic they expect to get, to see if it will be worth even setting up at Artisan Day.

A Tale Of Two Restaurants

Last weekend Favorite Husband and I were able to sneak out for a date (although we had to come back to nurse the baby in between a visit to the temple and dinner). We went to a new restaurant in town called Hamilton's. This restaurant is the brainchild of the local restaurateur behind the successful and very tasty Cafe Sabor. Hamilton's turned out to be the kind of classy place you'd take your prom date or anybody, really, that you want to impress. Tasteful decor gave a lodge atmosphere without actually making everything out of logs and festooning the walls with the heads of dead deer (a popular decor style out here). I liked it so much that I took my friend there the following Monday for lunch, where the waitress I'd had on my date recognized me and greeted me. While there we spotted a former mayor of Logan, which I guess is a local celebrity. The food at Hamilton's was excellent.

Last night we took the family out to dinner and it was my turn to choose the restaurant. I'd seen many ads for Chili's and their Citrus Fire Shrimp And Chicken, and it looked so tasty that I wanted to try it. So we went to Chili's, and that's what I ordered. Our table was actually vibrating (they said it was the shake machine making it vibrate) . When my food arrived it was not quite as attractive as it looked on TV. The food was tasty enough, but it just didn't have that "clarity" that fresh-made food has, and some jalapeno peppers were not mixed in well with the food, so I would get three bites of bland and one of extra-hot. The service was poor and slow. We were all given only forks to eat with, and had to ask for knives and spoons. And as I looked at the decor, I realized that all the chili-fest signs on the wall were fake. I bet there are identically painted and distressed signs in every Chili's restaurant from Los Angeles to Boston. For some reason that had not really occurred to me before.

What a study in contrasts! I think I've about had it with chain restaurants. Guess which restaurant I'll be going back to.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Last Night's Debate

I have to admit I didn't watch last night's debate. I'm probably the only blogger who didn't, but I had to take Tiny Princess to tumbling, and after that put the kids straight to bed for their early school morning this morning. By the time that was all done, I turned on the TV and the candidates had just finished their closing statements. I started reading the transcript, but in a 1000 square foot house containing three kids and a business, there are always better things to do.

I did, however, catch a few minutes of the debate on the radio, on the way home from tumbling. I had to turn the radio off, because I was starting to yell at Kerry on the radio and I didn't want the kids to hear what I really had wanted to say. As it turns out he was talking about the minimum wage, trying to drum up sympathy for some 9 million single mothers who would really like to be making $7 an hour. Anyone who has studied the most basic economics knows that the effect of raising the minimum wage would be to decrease the number of single mothers (and others) who can find jobs at minimum wage. If he were really concerned about single mothers, there are better ways he can help them.

This evening I read King's post at SCSU Scholars pointing me to this article which says that not even the 9 million figure is accurate-- nor are single mothers the most likely candidates to be "helped" by a minimum wage increase. Only 1.6 million people earn minimum wage, and only 11 percent of those are single heads of households.

I hate it when people pull statistics out of their butts. Some studies suggest that 84% of statistics are made up on the spot, and 42.689475% of statistics are way too accurate to be true.

THAT'S What I Like To Hear

Up on campus today, I ran into a former student. He told me how he was doing and said that while my class was very difficult for him, he's found his subsequent math classes easier. That's what I like to hear from former students. It means one of two things: either I'm a more difficult teacher than others in the department, or I taught him so well that he actually retained the knowledge. Or maybe it's both. Anyway, it really made my day.

Slow Posting

Posting will be slow and intermittent as I work on getting my new business website up and running. I want to have it at least marginally working by Saturday.

I feel so "with it" now-- I have my own website, my own cell phone... I'm getting all modern and stuff!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Turnabout's Fair Play

The same people who hailed the release of Fahrenheit 9/11 are now decrying the upcoming TV broadcast of "Stolen Honor", a documentary about Kerry's post-Vietnam anti-war activities. How come they think it's so unfair? It wasn't unfair for Michael Moore to make an anti-Bush documentary and release it on video in October. Both productions purport to be based on facts. Aren't facts a good thing?

Now, with all the controversy over Fahrenheit 9/11, I have never heard President Bush or any of his surrogates making remarks like this one from official Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton:
"I think they are going to regret doing this, and they had better hope we don't win," Clanton said.
If anyone affiliated with the Bush campaign had said those exact same words about Fahrenheit, you can bet dollars to doughnuts there would have been such a kerfuffle as you'd never seen in your life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

New Blog Features

Organic Baby Farm... now with Haloscan!

Products to Buy

Ooooh, here's a product I'd like to buy!

Oh wait, I already have one. ;)

Dance With The One Who Brung You

Some of my readers in other states may not be aware of what has become a hot-button local issue in Utah, which is Utah Valley State College students' controversial decision to spend their entire $40,000 speaker budget to hire Michael Moore. This has created a lot of fuss among the highly conservative local population, who insisted there should be more "balance" in choice of speakers (never mind that speakers in the past have been conservative), who decried Moore as not worthy of speaker money, etc. etc. The issue is so hot that Sean Hannity himself came out last night and spoke for free, with his travel expenses being paid by friendly conservatives (I think I remember hearing that John Huntsman Jr., Republican gubernatorial candidate, offered the use of his private jet).

Clark, a commenter at, gives this advice to the Utah Valley State College students:
... Utah County's elected leaders in the Utah Legislature began fighting tooth and nail for Central Utah's right to a share of the higher ed dollars.

And in fact it was those conservative citizens of Utah County and their elected leaders who about ten years ago voted to raise the sales tax on the food purchased at restaurants in the county. And what reason would a bunch of conservatives have to vote themselves any type of tax increase? To get the funds to build the McKay Events Center on the campus of UVSC where Mr. Moore is going to speak....

And now is a good time for UVSC's students to gain a lesson in civics and know just exactly who it is, and has been, who have been buying those tickets to the scholarship balls, donating money for the building of a new library because the state of Utah can't fund what is truly needed, creating those living wills and trusts that have blessed the place with millions of extra dollars, and buying the tickets to the concerts, performances, and sporting events that help underwrite the day-to-day activities of the school.
Read the whole thing.

Kids with Dog Tags

This is just lip-bitingly sad.

Link via Joanne Jacobs.


One of the things I don't like about Halloween is the cast of scary characters-- zombies, ghosts, ghouls, etc.-- which frighten little children who don't know the difference between real and imaginary. But witches bother me in a much different way.

I've met real witches-- wiccans, if you will-- and whether they believe it or not, they are still God's children. It doesn't help us expand our Christlike love for God's children to portray some of them as having green warty noses and eating unwary children. Think what you will of their beliefs, but don't lampoon them that way. (Harry Potter witches, Strega Nona, and other literary witches are a different story, because they are portrayed as human.)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Are Our Kids That Vain And Punctual?

My kids take tumbling classes over at the Middle School. Lately I've been using that time to walk all around the school and get some exercise. I went down every hall (including the one that smells like the toilet flooded) and I noticed something that I thought was odd. Every thirty feet or so is a full-length mirror, but there isn't a single solitary clock in any hall.

[old crone voice] When I was in junior high, back in the Pleistocene, [/old crone voice] there was a clock fully visible from every point in the halls. But if you wanted to look at yourself, you had to go to the bathroom and find a spot on the mirror that wasn't covered in lipstick.

Are our kids so punctual that they no longer need clocks in the halls to remind them to get to class, and so vain that they can't walk thirty feet without checking their appearance?

Too Tired To Post

Must... stay... awake... Baby... nursing... Kids... coming... home... from... school... Up... since... three...


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Friday, October 08, 2004

Great... Now How About Clothes For The REST Of Us??

Sears is getting praise for its "multicultural marketing"-- which seems to boil down to having styles of clothes that customers in their area like, in sizes that fit them.

Great! More power to Sears for being responsive to their customers' needs. Now how about offering some clothing at non-"multicultural" stores that fits people like me, who don't fall neatly into some well-defined "victimized" ethnic category, but still don't have the "ideal" figure, which nowadays seems to be that of a busty eleven-year-old boy in a Wonderbra. Narrow hips, flat tummy? What percentage of women of any ethnicity do you think actually have that sort of figure? Worse yet, what percentage of women who don't have that figure are still having to squeeze themselves into hip-hugger pants, with rolls of hip and belly fat hanging over their stylish belts, just because nothing that fits better is available?

I went shopping for pants yesterday, and it was a disaster. None of the fashionable pants had waists that would cover my butt-crack. All the pants with waists that would fall above my thrice-child-stretched belly were elastic waisted "grandma pants". Elastic waists generally don't fit me because my waist is so much smaller proportionally than my hips. I need pants with belt loops so I can cinch them in. I've had to shop at thrift stores and get outdated styles of pants, just to get ones that fit.

Some of us, especially the ones who've had kids, aren't exactly fashion-plate material, but we still want clothes that are stylish and feminine, not dowdy elastic-waisted knit pants. Give us some pants that don't have waists that fall below our bulgy bellies! Sell us shirts that cover our stretch-marked navels! Make us clothes that will look good on women who have developed all of their secondary sex characteristics, not just the ones on top!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Clever Husband!

Favorite Husband has found a work-around solution until I can afford to buy my own copy of QuickBooks!

He has a program called Virtual PC that allows you to simulate a computer running a different operating system. We've used it in the past to run old programs that would run in, say, Windows 95 but will not run in Windows XP. He also uses it when he's providing phone support to people who are running different operating systems. One of the things it allows you to do is to "save" the state of the virtual computer before you shut down your actual computer, starting it up again like nothing ever happened. And it works normally, although it runs very slowly at times.

So he installed QuickBooks 2004 trial version on a Virtual PC. I only get 15 uses of the trial version, but if I "save" the virtual computer's state, I never have to get to the other 14 uses. My husband is so clever! That's why I love him.

Halloween Scariness

Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays. We spend the entire month before Halloween with Sonshine in our bed. He keeps on "seeing" ghosts and other assorted ghoulies during the night, even though by day he says he's not scared of them.

Although I don't think Halloween is evil or Satanic, I still think it's not a good idea. Every culture needs a holiday to celebrate by dressing up, but I think we could do something more like Purim, which doesn't involve dragging out dead bodies in contradiction to the doctrines of the Gospel we're trying to teach our children. Kids who are too young to know the difference between Real and Imaginary are constantly being confronted with images of death, and the scarier the "better." I should clarify that don't try to shield my kids from the idea of death-- they've had older relatives die, and their father frequently plays piano at funerals-- but these grotesque, unrealistic images of graves, bodies, and ghosts are just over-the-top scary and cause excessive nightmares.

There's just no way to avoid this imagery at Halloween time. We can decorate our house in a harvest theme, but the neighbors can turn their front yard into a scary graveyard visible from the kids' window and we can't have anything to say about it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Cleaning Sonshine's Room

I've tried to clean and organize Sonshine's toys a couple of times, but to no avail. First, the job has to be done while Sonshine is at preschool, because he is such a pack rat that he can't stand the idea of getting rid of any of his toys, although he doesn't miss them when they're gone. Second, he has so many of these useless toys spirited away, along with all sorts of other things, that it takes longer than his preschool session to go through all of them. And last, the garbage must be taken out and the toys with life still in them must be disposed of or taken to charity before he comes home. He will wait until you're not looking and fish the toys out of the garbage. Anything that doesn't belong in his room must likewise be put completely away out of sight before he comes home, or he will fetch it right back in.

Because I cannot complete the entire job in one preschool session, I just boxed up the crap from his room (trash and all) and chucked it in the storage unit. I can go through a box every time he goes to school. It will take a few weeks to go through it all, but I have no other choice. There are a large number of things on the porch waiting to be dealt with that depend on being able to get into his room.

Today I found in his room pieces of a toy that was broken months ago, fixed, broken again, and thrown away at least three times that I know of. I found several items that had been missing, including two small pumpkins I'd bought for decoration (he insisted he was using them to decorate his room, but they were "decorating" the underside of a pile of toys under his slide.) I found some heavily-stomped packages of noodles, and several cans of food I'd thought I was out of. You never know what you'll find in Sonshine's room!

Passive-Agressive Games

Our homegrown server is recognized by AOL (and a few other places) as a potential source of spam, so none of our e-mail addresses can be used to send mail to AOL users. Unfortunately one of my main yarn suppliers has an AOL address, as do my grandfather and other important correspondents. So we have a work-around solution whereby we send e-mail through a different account (that AOL somehow does not think could be a source of spam). If I forget to send the e-mail through the other account, though, I get messages saying the mail is undeliverable. Evidently my husband also gets these same messages from my e-mail mistakes, since he has recently spent a good deal of time complaining about them whenever I make a mistake sending my e-mails.

I usually try not to play passive-aggressive games with Favorite Husband. But he's been complaining to me lately because of a problem I have no control over, and I have to do something. So now whenever I send a message the wrong way and get an "undeliverable mail" response, I am e-mailing him with a profuse apology. It's probably not the best response, but it sure beats getting chided even after I've explained to him that I do sometimes make mistakes and the error messages are not hurting him in any way.


Every so often I feel the lack of a particular spiritual quality in my life more keenly than all the others I'm lacking in. This summer it's been faith. How much faith do I really have in the Lord? Oh, sure, I have faith that the Lord could move mountains if He wanted to. But do I have faith that He can move itty bitty piles of dirt, so to speak, in my own life?

I've known for a long time that for the sake of my family I ought to quit working and stay home full-time. Favorite Husband's job pays just barely enough for us to get by (without paying down our debts). When Bagel was born it was bad for us financially. We'd saved up some money to get us through the summer, but it had to be spent on repairing a water-damaged wall in our house instead. It was so tempting to drag myself back to work like I did after Tiny Princess and Sonshine were born, but this time I decided I ought to have more faith in the Lord's ability to make this work out.

And so far, it has. We've been able to pay all our bills, even if some of them are a bit late. I've been able to start up my business, which I hope will start bringing in a bunch of money by next summer.

It's been really difficult, though. It is a real challenge for me to trust the Lord to take care of financial issues. This past Sunday was the first Sunday I've not worked on my merchandise to sell. I've prayed that the Lord would help me to keep the Sabbath day holy by helping me increase production on the remaining days of the week, and the Lord is answering my prayer. Now I just have to have enough faith that the Lord will come through for me.

Scripture of the day: "But without faith shall not anything be shown forth except desolations upon Babylon..." D&C 35:11


Everyone is familiar with the opening lines of this poem:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
It's a very simple poem, kind of a beginner's poem. It is not terribly sophisticated. But nevertheless it, like all good poetry, can be quite profound. The next two lines:
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
And that right there is an image I've kept with me all my life. The sort of image that changes your perception of the world, or as Emily Dickinson put it, takes the top of your head off. I read the poem for the first time, and a couple of days later I saw a tree standing on top of a hill and remembered the image. But I didn't fully understand it until I began breastfeeding my kids.

Read the whole poem. It won't take you long.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

Monday, October 04, 2004

Push! Puuuuush!

It's a girl!

Please welcome my first blogdaughter, who in a rather incestuous twist also happens to be my sister Mim:
Mim's Knitting Frenzy

What Would You Do With A Million Dollars?

Michael at Master of None asks: what would you do with a million dollars?

I'd buy a few consumer goods for myself-- finally I'd be able to afford a new mattress and some comfortable and durable shoes (and of course, QuickBooks)-- and put money away for the future. The thing I'd really like to do with a million dollars, though, is be a patron of the arts. In particular I'd like to secretly fund scholarships for poor kids to get music and dance lessons. Secretly, because I don't want people to come looking for me. I want to find deserving kids myself, whose parents want to send them but don't have the money, and then have their parents get a letter in the mail saying, "please bring your child to such-and-such music store to pick up her violin and arrange for lessons."

What would you do with a million dollars? Leave your answers in the comments.

crazy go nuts.

The felted bag turned out not so good at first. The gray shrunk more than the other yarn and the whole bag just looked distorted and seriously weird. Turns out there is a very good reason for that as I found out when I bought this book. It most likely got wrapped around the agitator and then stretched in funny ways. But I felted it again since I still had stitch definition and it turned out acceptable. As a note to myself though, I will probably never try another fairisle-ish felted bag again.

I think I will weave the cord in to make the handle.... not quite sure yet how I want to do that. I think it's interesting how mottled it got. The green tea-dyed yarn that was only slightly darker than the natural went crazy in the wash and turned that nice toffee brown. So not a complete failure afterall. But I had a better more fulfilling adventure in felting as well this weekend. I made this striped bag out of wool that WH and I Kool-Aid dyed about a year ago. The color was just lovely and I wasn't sure what I should do with it, but then I decided this was it.

Before, front and back:

After, front and back:

I'm happy with the way it's turned out so far. I still have some stitch definition (after 2 cycles), but I don't want it any smaller, so I think I will line the whole thing and then make a strap that matches the lining fabric. Maybe a blue/cream floral print thingy.... I'll go to JoAnn's and see what I can find.

I got a few other things done including hats on the knitting machine, but this is already getting long, so I won't hijack WH's blog anymore than this :D

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Field-Testing The Merchandise

I have a set of the oven mitts I sell-- in fact, that's one reason I'm selling them, because they are so superior that I use nothing else-- and I have a whole bunch of my own dishcloths too. But I've never had the opportunity to field-test the scrubbers. They sell so well that I've never felt I could afford to spare one for my own personal use. Earlier this year I developed a soap sack for use in the shower or bath, because customers asked for them. I've been selling a bunch of those too in a cross-promotion with The Spirit Goat, a fellow Gardeners' Marketeer that sells goat's milk soap. And I've never field-tested one of the soap sacks either, although my customers tell me they work very well, especially for using up those pesky ends of soap bars.

So tonight, as I was bathing the kids, on a whim I decided to field-test one of my soap sacks, if for no other reason than I conjectured it might keep them from playing find-the-submarine with the soap, dissolving the entire bar into the water.

The kids were fascinated when we first got it wet and started working up a lather. The organic cotton side began turning green (it's supposed to turn green when washed) from the center out, and as we lathered it the green spot expanded. The lather even worked its way through the nylon scrubby side. Another plus was that the kids actually lathered themselves up without having to be reminded several times.

So the soap sacks, much to my relief, really do work as advertised. The customer, as I discovered, is always right.

Business Is Booming

Things are going well for Curious Workmanship, my fledgling business. We had our best day ever yesterday, with sales exceeding even Memorial Day weekend. Mim sold almost all her knitted items and took orders for many more, and I had several customers who bought multiple gift sets. We think the cold has driven people to start thinking more about warmies and Christmas gifts.

Yesterday's sales will allow me to buy all the yarn that I need to get me through the Christmas season without investing my allowance or going into debt. Yay! Another day like this and I may be able to afford to take the QuickBooks donation link off the sidebar!

In the meantime, as the Gardeners' Market nears the end of its season, we are looking into holiday markets. We signed up for one in November, but we'd like to do one in December as well, to sell to those who need to get fully in the holiday spirit before they buy their gifts.

Enjoying Baby

There is nothing sweeter than having a baby asleep on your chest. Such a tiny yet complete person, totally dependent upon you for his sustenance and maintenance, an exhausted Odysseus washed up on the beach, tired by his daily struggle to move, to eat, to breathe.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Felted Bag

I finished the bag yesterday evening. All in all, it took a really long time, because I kept getting bored with it, but I like the way it looks so far.

The pattern close to the top I came up with because I was sketching a drawing of what I wanted the bag to look like and I drew it too short, so I scribbled out the old top line and drew a new one and then realized that it would be cool as a pattern across the bag. I'm still working on the I-cord for the straps, and I think I will felt the i-cord separately. I don't know how much it will shrink and in which directions, so I want to be sure the straps are the right lenth and in proportion to the bag. It's made from the New Zealand wool that WH got on E-bay :D The red we dyed ourselves, and the gray is leftovers from my sweater.

Also this week I finished up these things:

The booties are made from the yarn that my MIL brought me from Germany. It's a wool & nylon blend, it's really nice. The toddler mittens are a recycled Rayon/Nylon/Angora blend that I got from a sweater. They're really soft.

This is from the same yarn as the booties, only cream.

All in all, I'm a very busy girl! Sheesh!