Monday, October 31, 2005

Local Politics

Those following Tooele's mayoral and city council races will want to read these articles for interviews and info about the candidates.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Bagel did this Thursday night:

We took this as a sign that it was time to switch him over to the toddler bed.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Parallel Universe

I am up early today, due to a horrible dream in which I was teaching math at Hogwarts, and Professor Snape made me prove my mathematical prowess by solving a thorny calculus word problem, the objective of which was to find the coordinates of the Whomping Willow. The problem took me over an hour to solve, mostly because he made me do it while I was completely exhausted and I kept making mistakes.

This past weekend I was a vendor at the Pumpkin Walk in Stansbury Park (near Tooele). I will never do that again. Aside from the fact that in two days I sold about as much merchandise as I had done in a single morning at the Gardeners' Market, it was horribly demoralizing. I felt like I was in a parallel universe. I'd come from one where my merchandise was cool and people would at least look at it, to one where it was not even worthy of a glance inside the booth.

All my best sales tactics didn't work at all. One thing I do, for example, is to ask people if they'd ever seen a dish scrubber like mine before. In Logan, the answer was always "no"-- it was only ever "yeah" if they'd received one as a gift from one of my other customers. Here, the answer is "yeah, I've seen 'em before" even though hardly anyone has bought one. To which I would reply in my head, "Liar!" These are my own original design, and to the best of my knowledge, nobody else who makes dish scrubbers does them with nylon yarn or makes them in cute shapes like mine. Most crocheted dish scrubbers are plain and circular and made with nylon net, which is not as nice a material as it isn't as durable in the wash, and tends to collect crusty bits of food inside it.

Another tactic that usually works, but didn't, is to put out a small child's chair. (After dark I put out a propane heater instead.) Small children wandering by will go and sit in the chair to rest (or warm their chilly hands at the heater) . When the parents chide them for it, I tell them it's OK with me if they rest (or warm themselves) for a minute. When I speak, the parents turn to look at me, and they see the merchandise, and so they let their child rest while they take a minute to look around. This totally did not work out here. Parents seemed to have no sympathy whatsoever for their poor little children. I knew the children had to be tired because I'd just seen them walk around the entire place in the Costume Parade, or cold because they were in flimsy costumes in 40 degree weather; but nevertheless their parents, every one, grabbed them by the hand and literally yanked them out of my booth. Except for the nearby vendors who had brought their kids, not a single parent allowed their child to remain where it was warm or comfortable.

When they weren't yanking children out of my booth, the adults were just walking on by. Very few of them even glanced inside my booth as they walked. It was like I was totally invisible, with my display of brightly colored tie-dyes and sparkly beaded ornaments. The few who did pause long enough to talk, told me that they already had several tie-dyed onesies. This surprises me-- where on earth do you get tie-dyed onesies, if you don't even look in craft booths? And if you make them yourself, do you use the high-quality dyes I use, or do you use (spit) Rit dye (spit) and color your entire wash load every time your kid urps on his clothes? There is just no appreciation for quality around here. If you can't get it at Wal-Mart, it simply doesn't exist; and if you can get it at Wal-Mart, why would you bother getting it from a craft booth?

I don't think I'll be doing many more shows in Tooele.

This week I'm doing a show in Ogden that I hope will be more lucrative. It is my first central checkout show ("central checkout" means that all purchases are paid for at registers at the exit, like a supermarket). I don't have to be there all the time, which is nice, but I do have to go out to Ogden every day and re-set my display, which is not (it's a solid hour's drive to Ogden from here). The show is heavily advertised, with radio, TV, and billboards as well as flyers, so I have high hopes. However, my merchandise looks really out of place there. Most of the other merchandise is really "country" looking-- lots of painted signs to hang on walls, every other thing decorated with raffia, and skinny scarves knitted out of chunky yarn. It's not really my style, and my funky tie-dyed onesies and silk scarves stand out like a sore thumb. Some days I just want to pack it in and go home, especially after the demoralizing Pumpkin Walk. But then yesterday, as I was leaving after re-setting my display, I noticed somebody was carrying around one of my velvet scarves, and I felt a little better.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Over the summer we had a hard drive crash. That was when we discovered to my horror that Quickbooks had not been backing up my data to the thumb drive like I thought, but to the very hard drive that had crashed. I lost about four months' worth of sales transaction data and bank account information in the crash. Fortunately I have paper records to back it up, but it was going to be a long and extremely tedious process to get it all entered back in.

It's not totally fixed now, but it's fixed enough that I can function again in Quickbooks. The cash box still doesn't balance, and I don't have all the deposits matched up with the sales transactions yet; but my bank accounts balance now, and since all my sales transactions are entered, I can calculate my sales tax liability. I've spent all day today working on it, and I'm very proud of myself.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ultrasound Results

We had our ultrasound this morning.

The baby is perfectly healthy, has a 4-chambered heart and all the usual brains and kidneys and stuff, and, as the ultrasound tech put it, "outdoor plumbing".

Yup, we're on line to get a third boy! That'll be nice for Bagel to have a little brother close enough in age that he won't mind playing with him. Princess will be terribly disappointed, though; she was rooting for a girl, even though I explained to her that an 8-year age difference will mean that she as a teenager could be sharing a bedroom with a little kid.

I'm now officially 3 for 4 guessing the genders of my kids; I thought this one would be a girl, based on all the vomit. I should have known better-- I could read math texts, if I could get the time to sit down and read for more than thirty seconds at a stretch. Oh well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

Names? Tentatively, Anthony Vincent. We'll call him Tony. That way if I find that somebody's messing with my family, I can threaten to send Tony out to break his knuckles.

Monday, October 17, 2005

An Interesting Proposal

David Dobbs proposes that to fight the flu, we ought to be immunizing the children instead of the elderly:
Specifically, vaccinating 30 percent of preschool and schoolchildren would reduce a community's chance of flu epidemic from 90 percent to 65 percent. Vaccinating 50 percent of kids would cut the chance to 36 percent. And vaccinating 70 percent of them would shrink the risk of epidemic to 4 percent. Any of those scenarios would prevent more elderly deaths than giving flu shots to 90 percent of seniors.
Yeah, that sounds about right to me. Kids spread disease to each other. Sick kids are mostly taken care of by moms, to whom they also spread the disease. Moms with sick kids go to the store to get food and medicine for said kids, sometimes bringing the sick kids along because they have no other options (it's hard to find someone who will watch sick kids). Sick moms go to the store too, because there's nobody else who will do the shopping and the family has to eat. Elderly people go to the store and get sick. Moms also form a large portion of the nursing corps who take care of the isolated elderly who don't go to the store. Conclusion: If moms never got sick (ha!), then they wouldn't be transmitting disease to the elderly.

Of course, maybe this just resonates with me right now because I spent my weekend being a sick mom-- and I was still the one tasked with going to the store to get food and medicine, and administering same to sick kids, even though (unlike many moms home with sick kids) I have a perfectly capable husband.

(Link via Typical Joe, via Basil's Blog.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Mrs. Huntsman's Great Self-Esteem Campaign

For those who don't live in Utah and haven't seen these billboards, there have been lots of billboards put up, which depict a clothing label boldly emblazoned with a single derogatory word such as "Freak" or "Failure". This week the labels are being torn away to reveal billboards encouraging people, particularly teens, not to label others or themselves.

This whole thing is the brainchild of Mary Kay Huntsman, the wife of Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who wants the ad campaign to boost the self-esteem of our youth. And while the Deseret News speaks of it in glowing terms, I can't help but wonder: isn't there anything better for Utah's First Lady to be doing?

I mean, self-esteem is nice and all, but I've found that I get much more personal growth from learning how to keep my chin up in the face of the names others call me than I do from being coddled and told how wonderful I am. Sure, we all need that kind of stroking from time to time. But is it really the obligation of everybody around us to provide that for us?

This seems especially wasteful at a time when Utah schools are, as always, looking for more funds. Contrary to popular belief, increased self-esteem does not boost academic performance-- that's why U.S. students suck eggs at math and can scarcely speak their own native tongue, but rank highest in the world in inflated self-image. If Mrs. Huntsman wants to help the youth of our state to succeed, maybe she should start by, you know, actually getting them an education.

Aren't there more pressing issues in our state that are more deserving the First Lady's attention? Isn't there real child abuse out there? Aren't there diseases going undiagnosed? How about that staple of First Lady Issues, literacy? If literacy is just too jejune or doesn't currently need any help, may I suggest numeracy? As far as I know, no First Lady has ever taken up the banner of math education, and believe me, it is desperately needed.

Mrs. Huntsman isn't doing any harm with her silly ad campaign, but she could sure as hell do better.

If It's A Girl...

On Wednesday we are going in for our Big Ultrasound, wherein hopefully we will find out with reasonable certainty whether our Baby Bun is a boy or a girl. I was hoping to have names picked out by now, or at least have it narrowed down to a few choices, but we've made almost no progress on girl names and none at all on boy names. I favor Annalise Marie for a girl, but FH doesn't like Marie and won't come up with any better suggestions. He wants Rhonda and Susan. Sure, those are fine names-- if you were born during the five-year time span in the 50's when these names were in the Top 10.

However, we have discovered that it is considered "cool" to name your child after the surname of a former President (e.g. Madison, Harrison, Jackson), so I thought we'd add a few names to the list. We like to be modern, but not do exactly the same thing as all the other people, so I came up with these. You tell me which one you like the best:

(1) Harding
(2) Van Buren
(3) Coolidge
(4) Buchanan

What? These aren't cool Presidential first names for babies???

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Movie Review: Sons of Provo

Friends and regular readers will remember that I'm not a humungus fan of the emerging Mormon Comedy genre of films. They're funny enough, and cleaner than the trashy sex comedies Hollywood seems to think we want to watch. But past films in that genre (The RM, Singles Ward) were only really funny to Mormons or people with Utah connections, since they were parodies (albeit very good parodies) of the Utah Mormon lifestyle, and you really can't appreciate a parody of something with which you are not familiar.

Sons of Provo, though, is really, really funny, and I think it would be funny to people outside that small population. I laughed so hard I cried! (Of course, being pregnant, I cry a lot more than usual right now, but it was still funny.) I've heard it compared to the movie Spinal Tap, but I can't comment on that because I've never seen Spinal Tap.

Mormon comedy films are getting better and better, as well as increasingly accessible to the non-Mormon population. I'm looking forward to seeing the recently-released Mobsters And Mormons when it comes out on video (or in the theater, if I ever get out on a date with FH).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pain's Gone Down, Thanks

How goes the costochondritis? Well, the pain's gone down a lot, but mostly at the expense of cutting back on my activities. I can sleep without the Lortabs now, but I had to buy Princess school lunch for all of last week, skip running errands (much to the chagrin of the kids who had no yogurt to eat for breakfast and had to have cereal instead), and make a lot of un-tasty but quick-cooking food. I'm still not getting an adequate night's sleep, though, so I've had to take a lot of naps, which has cut into my housework time. I'm still behind, even more so now from taking a week off. And of course, the pain is still bad enough (especially in the mornings) that I'm having to take ibuprofen to get me through the day on some days, especially on days when I cough or sneeze or, like I did the other day, throw up.

Bagel's been sick with some cold that gives him a croupy cough, so I've been doping him up to get him to sleep by the vaporizer. That's been a nice change from spending all the time I could be doing housework trying to keep him from knocking over the piles I haven't gotten to yet. However, this doesn't seem to have translated to an increase in housework done, because I've been spending the extra time sleeping.

Dumb Fish Stories

Everybody's talking about this crazy PETA comic that claims that fish are smart enough to use tools, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to tell some Dumb Fish Stories.

FH and I have been keeping fish for most of our 12-year married life. My very first fish was a betta that I bought to keep me company while FH was in Korea. This fish spent his entire day swimming around and around in a more or less spherical bowl. We put a mirror along the side of the bowl, and every time he'd pass the mirror he'd flare up and give nasty, aggressive looks to the "other fish". He spent every waking hour doing this, until the day he contracted fin rot and died.

When FH got back from Korea, we got a larger tank with some more interesting fish. We got two convict cichlids and two jewel cichlids-- the guy at the pet store assured us they'd all get along. Several dead fish later, we discovered that the problem was one of the jewel cichlids. He was biting the tails off the other fish one bite at a time, then coming in for the kill when they didn't have enough tail to swim away any more. By the time we discovered this we were down to Spot (the over-aggressive jewel) and one half-tailed convict we'd named Sergeant, so we put in a tank divider. At first we noticed that Spot was moving the gravel, one rock at a time in his mouth, trying to dig under the divider. Then we heard this "Thunk!" sound from the tank. Spot had jumped through the air, over the divider, ricocheted off the hood, and was going after Sergeant with a vengeance. After that, we got Spot his own tank, where he spent his time threatening the fake plants. We put a mirror in his tank to keep him company, but he kept on bashing his head against it trying to attack the other fish. When the mirror fell over and lay on the bottom of the tank, he hovered head down over it. When we'd reach in to adjust something in the tank, he'd bite our fingers (it didn't hurt; his teeth weren't big enough to penetrate the skin). My brother took advantage of this to torment the poor fish-- he'd just put his finger on the glass and laugh his butt off while Spot repeatedly ran himself headfirst into the side of the tank. Meanwhile, Sergeant got a larger tank, which he shared with his three new bunkmates, all female.

People, fish are dumb. The only "tool" I've ever seen them use is their own mouth. They will take advantage of things in their environment, like hiding in plants or making their own hidey-hole in the gravel, but that's about what you'd expect from any dumb organism capable of movement. You can catch the same fish over and over again in a lake. They've got the brains of... well, a fish.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Down With Pain

I haven't been very active on the computer lately for two reasons:

(1) We experienced a motherboard crash this weekend. FH was up all night last night trying to get the computer in workable condition so that I could have my online job interview for a tutoring job.

(2) As of yesterday's visit to the emergency room, I have been diagnosed with an interesting condition called "costochondritis." Basically it's a pain in the butt, only it's in the chest instead. ;) Seriously, it's an utterly benign and totally untreatable severe pain in the chest, caused by inflammation in the cartilage. This inflammation is caused (in this case) by severe episodes of coughing and puking, the former brought on by a cold/bronchial infection, the latter by the normal symptoms of early pregnancy. I told my doctor about it, and when it got very much worse, he sent me to the ER to have it properly diagnosed. They gave me an EKG and some Lortabs and sent me home. The Lortabs don't help, by the way. I took one last night and still couldn't sleep for the pain. And I can't take any during the day, because you can't drive while on the meds, and since nobody wanted to carpool with The New Girl On The Block, I have to drive kids to and from school in the morning, mid-day, and afternoon.

I do all right as long as I'm sitting up or standing and moving around very gently... which, being a mother of three, lasts all of thirty seconds before I have to bend over or reach out to catch a falling toddler, or lay down to combat the fatigue of pregnancy. I have to be very careful not to cough, laugh, hiccup, sneeze, or breathe deeply. Sneezing is the worst; it makes me pine for the pain of labor contractions, which at least lets up for whole minutes at a time. In fact, if given a choice between this pain and the pain of squeezing a full-grown baby out through my nether regions, I'd choose the latter, because childbirth would only last for a few hours, then I'd sit on a rubber doughnut for a couple of days, and that would be the end of it. This pain has gone on for a week already and it's likely to go on for the remainder of the pregnancy and possibly after that as well. I've spent three of the last seven days in bed with pain.

It looks like it's going to be this way for quite some time, folks, so I'm afraid you can't expect very much blogging from me in the future.