Monday, July 31, 2006

Tooele County Fair

I went today to enter stuff in the Tooele County Fair. I entered about half a dozen dish scrubbers including the brand-new penguin scrubber, the rainbow dishcloths and the "fire" dishcloths, a skillet handle cover, four onesies and two bibs, a hat, a poncho and a soap-holding turtle that I did for a special order that never panned out. The ladies entering my stuff were very kind and did all kinds of mental gymnastics to find categories for all my dish scrubbers (they don't have a category for dish scrubbers and you can only enter one item per category).

I'm hoping for a nice blue-ribbon sweep like I got two years ago in the Cache County Fair. I don't know if the judges here will appreciate my kind of ingenuity, though. Anything that leaps out of the Wal-Mart mold just goes right over the heads of Tooelians.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Creating Demand In The Marketplace Of Ideas

Today I got a call from one of those family-film companies disguising their sales pitch as a survey. They had horribly leading questions like "Don't you agree that Hollywood is producing 12 R-rated movies for every G-rated movie and that since Hollywood is the only source of movies, it should produce more family-friendly films?" One "question" went on for about three long sentences. When the telemarketer finally finished her paragraph and let me get a word in edgewise, I told her I disputed her premise that Hollywood is the only source of movies. I explained to her how people upload content to the internet and we spend a lot of time watching crazy movie clips of people having skateboarding accidents. She promptly replied "ThankYouByeBye" and hung up.

Today I also got a friend started on cloth diapers. She has a two-year-old who's potty training and poops regularly in his pants, and a 1-month-old baby. I told her how much stress it took off me to be using cloth diapers for a smaller baby while potty training the older child, because I could put the dirty underpants in the diaper pail instead of having to wash them individually. She thought that sounded appealing, especially thinking of all the money she'd save on diapers for the little one. So this evening I gave her a diaper pail tutorial and lent her my newborn size diapers to try.

I've been frustrated lately because there just doesn't seem to be much demand in the Marketplace Of Ideas around here. So today was a good day. I got to spread some ideas around.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Your Dose Of Baby Cuteness

So many onesies, so little time...

New Free Stuff

My dad gave us a whole bunch of laptop computers that weren't working. FH, ever the computer genius, got the best of the lot working in about 15 minutes (it had been dropped and something came loose, which he plugged back in). It is a Dell Latitude, very nice. Since FH knows I've been wanting to save up for a laptop for my business, he very generously let me have it.

I think he was in a generous mood because he also got some free stuff this weekend. A few months ago he made Employee Of The Month and got a $250 Best Buy gift card. He had also gotten a $50 gift card and had traded for another $25 gift card, so he had a lot of free stuff coming to him. He chose a widescreen monitor and the biggest power supply they had in stock, since we've had a lot of problems lately with computers going down due to inadequate power supplies. All this cost more than his gift card, though, so I paid for it out of the business funds because I use the computer with the inadequate power supply for the business. I also got a headset with microphone for my tutoring. Nobody ever asks for voice tutoring, but since the software has that capacity, we're all supposed to own a headset mic.

Anyway, the laptop is perfect except that the battery is toast. A new battery only costs about $50. So for $50, I'll have a working laptop for my business! How cool is that?

The reason I wanted a laptop is so I can take it to my booth when I go to sell, and record sales in Quickbooks as I'm making them. At the moment I'm recording them on paper and entering them in when I get home. It is time consuming and I'm often interrupted by kids, losing my place in the receipt book. And I often make mistakes. I track onesies by size as well as style, and if I enter in the wrong size of onesie, I can end up having to dye an extra one to fill an order. So now I'm looking at getting a USB barcode scanner to increase my accuracy. With a laptop and a barcode scanner, I will be totally tricked out and better than every other craft booth. I will be the envy of everyone on my craft show Yahoo group! But more importantly, I'll be saving a LOT of time. One mistake can mean hours of work re-inventorying merchandise or dyeing single onesies.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Please Don't Bash The Mormons

Well, folks, it's time to git out yer Mormon-bashing stick and get over to IMAO, where there's some good ol-fashioned Mormon bashing to be had! (The post itself is fine, it's the comments.)

Seriously, it never ceases to amaze me what people will say and do about the "Mormon problem". In total ignorance of our beliefs, they will go out of their way to tell everyone how horrible we are over some doctrinal difference. They justify it by saying "well, you believe X, Y, and Z that's different from the truth!" What a disingenuous load of steaming horse crap. I mean, honestly, they have more doctrinal differences with Muslims, but nobody goes out to picket the open house of a brand new mosque or pass out flyers or get their panties in a wad over their belief that Mohammed was a prophet. People will make fun of Mormons but not Muslims because there's no Council for American Mormon Relations. Mormons don't make nasty publicity about our attackers; there's no radical faction of Mormons that blows stuff up in the name of God; we just sit there and take it. So like a kid who knows his mom's not gonna hit him back, they rail at us to express their immaturity and unconfidence in their own beliefs. Honestly, it sometimes gets so bad that it makes the Danites sound like not such a bad idea.

They also justify their attacks by saying that Mormons insult them by coming to their doors. Again, another flaming sack of poo. Do they also maintain that people who send them junk mail have offended them? That door-to-door salesmen are a menace that needs to be stopped? Do they rant at Girl Scouts selling cookies that they are misguided little feminazis-in-training? My experience selling Girl Scout cookies tells me no.

If Mormon-bashers spent half the time they spend trying to defeat this specific church out there helping the poor and needy and teaching them their version of the truth, this world (and likely the next, even in their point of view) will be a much better place. But they don't. It's easier to make fun of someone who's out there putting in the effort to try to build something worth having, than it is to go out and build something worth having yourself. So when you Mormon-haters go out and bash my church, keep that in mind. You rant about how we're not going to change your mind, but guess what? it works both ways. If it's impossible to change someone's mind, then your efforts to change our minds are also pointless.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chef Bagel

I just bought a rather large and inexpensive stock pot. Yesterday Bagel dragged it into the kitchen and instructed me to "cook!" Since the pot hadn't been washed for the first time and I had no immediate plans to use it, I allowed Bagel to play with it. But he was overtired, so he went down for his nap.

This morning, when he got up, he wanted to play with the pot. He removed five potatoes from the potato bin and put them in the pot. Then he tried to spear one with the spoon I had given him, but he decided the potatoes needed something. He brought one to me, mimed the action of peeling, and said "cut!" So I peeled the potato. He brought me each of the five potatoes and I peeled them all, laughing because it was so cute. Then he said "wawa!" and pointed in the pot, so I put some water in the pot. What he would have done after that, though, we will never know, as he got into a tantrum having something to do with a mislocated chair, and is now preoccupied by eating a slice of cheese which has been buttered at his request. But I think he might have been trying to make potato salad.

Obviously, someone's been paying VERY close attention when Mommy's cooking.

In unrelated news, Bagel has been learning his colors. He can reliably identify blue, white, and green, and unreliably identify red and yellow. I haven't tried orange yet, as I suspect it might make him hungry.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's Pottie!

Bagel loves to identify things he knows. I was surprised to learn that he knows Harry Potter. Every time he sees Harry Potter, he says "It's Pottie!" and starts singing the theme from the movies. He can identify both movie images and book images as "Pottie". At the moment he's going around calling out "Hermione! Hermione!"

Even more surprising, though, is that he knows Dora the Explorer. We don't watch Dora, not because I have any particular objection to her show, but because we only get broadcast TV stations. I don't know where he learned about Dora, but when he sees her image he says "Dora!"

The Swimsuit Conundrum

I own three swimsuits. The first is black with a little skirt, and is left over from my pre-baby days. The second is also black with a longer skirt, and is left over from my earlier post-baby days. The third has no skirt and is navy blue with a blue floral print. Despite having three bathing suits, I have nothing to wear to the pool.

The first suit fit a little tight through the chest when I tried it on. By "a little" I mean "a lot," and by "tight" I mean "quite revealing." I wasn't so boobalicious when I bought the suit as I am now, and it really shows. I looked in the mirror and thought I looked like a 40's-vintage pin-up girl. I asked Knuckles if he thought the suit was too lacking in coverage on top, and he said "Sorry, what? I was thinking about lunch."

The second suit is too big. I'm in the process of losing weight, and evidently I've lost enough that my post-baby suit is hanging off my bod. I feel like it's about to fall off. I wore the suit downstairs, and Bagel immediately pointed at my chest and said "Nur-nur!" which was when I noticed that I was sort of falling out the top. So I can't choose the second suit either.

The third suit has no skirt, which means the full glory of my butt-white stretch-marked thighs will be on display for all the world to avert their eyes from. Not only that, but the back scoops low enough to show my scar. The scar looks terrible and I have to explain to everyone who asks that it was not from some horrible abuse.* This suit might be fine for me, but I have to consider everyone else too. Nobody wants to swim in a pool full of vomit.

Suit #1 isn't looking so bad at the moment.

Fortunately, I did some digging through the drawer and came up with Suit #4, which I had forgotten about entirely. It has a skirt and sufficient dorsal and ventral coverage, and is heavily worn and the seams are popping out. Now I remember why I bought Suit #2: because this one was way too tight, and I couldn't wear Suit #3. Looks like Suit #4 will be our lucky winner today.

* For the record, the scar came from a maternity back brace that I wore in a foolish way. The end of the boning wore a blister the size of a quarter into my back, which I didn't notice until I got off my feet and the pain in my feet subsided enough that I could feel the pain in my back.

On The Nightstand

This edition of On The Nightstand is brought to you by Interlibrary Loan. Interlibrary Loan is my friend. For just $2.50 a book, it turns the novel-oriented Tooele Library into a reader's paradise of non-fiction books.

First up is #3 in the Honor Harrington series, The Short Victorious War by David Weber. Someone described this series as Horatio Hornblower in space, and I'd say that's a pretty apt description. If you like military science fiction that gives a realistic picture of human nature, try this series. Dale Franks of QandO got me started, and I think I'm hooked.

Next is Glenn Reynolds' Army of Davids. Not the best book ever written in the English language, but then again Reynolds (heh) is better known for his advocacy of ideas than for his lucid prose (indeed). And the ideas are interesting ones.

Finally we have Thomas Sowell's Conquests And Cultures. I'm a big Sowell fan and I was intrigued by this book, which explains the concept of "cultural capital." I've made fun of that concept before, but I have to admit that until I read this book I had a distorted idea of the concept; I will not make fun of it any more.

I first encountered the idea of "cultural capital" in a sociology class taught by an extremely left-wing professor. I think I got a distorted version of it because she didn't understand the corresponding concept of economic capital on which the cultural capital idea is based, and saw the theory only through her own very polarized filters. The version she communicated to me sounded more like "poor benighted darkies, they don't have museums and stuff so their culture is deficient and they can't achieve success as measured by high school graduation rates," and I thought that was a rather racist and odd attitude. I've encountered people from a lot of cultures, and I knew that cultures were adapted to the environments they developed in. While no culture was without its faults, you could not consider, say, the Native Americans' lack of museums to be some sort of debilitating problem, especially considering that lots of undeniably successful cultures don't (or didn't) have museums. And to use high school graduation rates as the metric of success just seemed so centered in our particular culture that I felt it was incompatible with her cultural relativism.

I can see now that my prof was conflating race with culture (as she frequently did in class, much to my frustration), seeing capital as consisting of the trappings of Western culture, and measuring success by inappropriate metrics. Sowell's theory is much better developed than that, and he shows how not only technology, but attitudes and cultural values can affect a culture's perpetuation, growth, and transmissibility over the centuries; he defines a "successful" culture as one that perpetuates itself and creates a higher standard of living for its members.

Next week on the nightstand is another Theodore Dalrymple book, Our Culture, What's Left Of It. I love Theodore Dalrymple's prose. It's so delicious! I would read dishwasher user manuals written by Dalrymple. He writes so well!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

As of Sunday, I am thirty-hmphhmph years old! Hooray!

I was very pleased to receive gifts of clothes. After getting clothes for four kids and a husband, there's usually little left in the clothing budget for me, so I almost never get new and stylish clothing. Not that it mattered, because for the last few years the styles have been, shall we say, unsuited to a woman of my carriage. Women who have had four babies and zero personal trainers ought to find it beneath their dignity to wear hip-hugger pants, lest they find the waistband of the pants falls beneath their, um, dignity. And it didn't help that the Shirt Design Committee evidently didn't send memos to the Pants Design Committee, because shirts were kept short as waistlines dropped, creating a highly unacceptable gap between shirt and pants at the midsection. Maybe it's not so unacceptable if you're 17 years old and really hot, but if you're much older than that, the midriff doesn't look so good.

Fortunately the Shirt Committee finally got to talking to the Pants Committee, and shirts have gotten longer so that now those of us with stretch marks can at least tuck our shirts into the hiphugger pants, thus covering up the rolls of fat (although the tightness of the shirts ensures that no one will miss the fact that the rolls are there). I received a few of those shirts, along with a very nice skirt in the modern tiered style. And finally, I can now wear that pair of fashionably low-slung capris my sister got me for my birthday in a previous year, and not look like a Goodwill refugee.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Ultimate Cool

I would just die of delight if they signed my very favorite director, M. Night Shyamalan, to direct a Harry Potter movie. Pleasepleasepleaseplease let it be so!!!!!

Link via MuggleNet.

UPDATE: Pottercast has an interview with Shyamalan on the topic!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Safety Nannies Strike Again

I joined the Tooele Freecycle group because I like free stuff, and I have some stuff that really wouldn't be worth selling on eBay because it's either too big to make shipping worthwhile or too old to be likely to sell. So the first thing I listed was my old baby car seat. We were using this car seat until a few weeks ago when someone gave us a different one. It was still working, but there was a tiny plastic piece that broke off inside one of the yellow buttons that release the seat from the base, so every time Vince would take the car seat out of the van to drive the carpool, he'd turn it upside down and the yellow button would fall out. He could never be bothered to not turn the seat upside down or pick up the button, so it was causing me a lot of grief and when someone offered us a free car seat, we took it.

So I list the car seat, and before I got even one email from someone who wanted it, I got three emails from people who didn't want it. These well-intentioned people were all telling me that a used car seat is unsafe, that various groups don't want used car seats, that someone they know had a used car seat that was not as old as mine and they took it to some car seat clinic and it was rejected, etc. etc. If they'd bothered to do a Google search, they would have learned that car seats like mine are safe enough for a bit more use, but evidently the amount of labor that would take exceeded their capacities (although the amount of labor it took to shoot me off an email was evidently NOT beyond their capacities). I have to wonder if, when people list used clothes on Freecycle, these same people email the lister to tell them that there are organizations that don't take used clothes or that sometimes used clothes can have spider eggs or mouse droppings in them. Or if someone tried to give away a working fridge, would these same people email the giver to tell them that landfills won't take fridges unless the freon is drained and that kids can die from being stuck inside a fridge?

What kind of world do we live in where people are so convinced that anything that lacks the latest safety features is a total death trap, that they would see it as a public service to warn people about it? Why the hell is it that you can't even give away a used safety device to somebody who can't afford a brand new one without catching flak from the Safety Nannies? Why can't something that isn't the most totally guaranteed safe thing in the universe be safe enough? Why does everyone rubberstamp restrictions on freedom so long as they're labeled "For The Children"?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bagel's Meds

During that fateful trip to the doctor's, Bagel got a 'scrip for Zyrtec as well as one for an albuterol inhaler. This is (mostly) the same regime FH is on for his allergies (FH has eyedrops and a nose spray in addition). And can I just say, it is like a MIRACLE. I can take Bagel outside to play and he doesn't cough till he pukes any more. Trust me, you DON'T want to be stuck inside with a two-year-old boy when everybody else is going outside to play. He'll beat you with his shoes and claw at your arms because he thinks you don't understand that he wants to put his shoes on and go outside.

We are blessed that he likes the inhaler. We have an Easivent which is a chamber that attaches onto the inhaler and lets him inhale the albuterol more easily. He loves to use it. He hated the nebulizer which was noisy and took a long time (well, long for a two-year-old), but he gets immediate relief with the inhaler so he's willing to use it. If we tell him it's time to "breathe his special air," he just sits right down and does it.

We still have to use the inhaler if he's doing some heavy play (like if he's on the playground equipment or running around a lot), but he's no longer puking. Most especially, he's no longer puking when he gets worked up from not being allowed to do something he wants to do (like bite his brother or climb the furniture or do something else besides use the nebulizer). That's a truly great thing in itself.