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Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Just for fun, here are some photos of our very sweet cats (In the cats folder, of course). Actually, the kitten is not ours anymore, we brought her in out of the wild and gave her a home with the large short-hair calico cat in the one pic. Ours are the big white & gray guy (Kostya) and the lovely long-hair tortoiseshell (Vyera). Kostya is sweet to everyone save Vyera; Vyera is mainly sweet to Kostya. Every now and then, Kostya remembers his obligations to lesser creatures and is kind to Vyera, but he really prefers human company.

Vyera (the Russian word for faith, also a common name) moved into our crawlspace, where she gave birth to a litter of four. Vyera made us aware of her family's presence one fine day in September 2001 (after the catastrophe). Paul found her in the morning and thought he should call animal control. I found them in the evening and thought I should feed them. Paul's incentive to act (no added cats) seems to have been weaker than mine (cute baby kittens!), and the cats had a patron. Other (big, mean) cats were eating their food, so I called a vet and was told that Kostya would be safe from anything they had as long as they stayed in their own room. So I brought them in after getting Vyera checked out and starting the whole lot of them on dewormer- not as easy as it sounds, but a potentially long story.

Kostya never got along with my past roommates' kittens, so I didn't intend to add to our permanent population, just give the mom & babies a safe place to stay 'til I could find homes for them. The kittens went pretty quickly to friends and my about-to-graduate sister, but for some reason, nobody wanted the invisible mama cat. The babies could be persuaded to come out and play, but Vyera wouldn't show her face to anyone but me. She endeared herself to me early on by coming when I called, starting the very morning after I had met them. Well, her confidence in me (limited though it was) was too touching for me to send her back out into the world, so she stayed with us.

She is now (just recently) brave enough that she usually comes to see what's going on when we have guests, but she only lets me pet her, and only sometimes. This makes her the perfect companion for Kostya, since she doesn't compete for the attention of his beloved people, and she knows her place (auxiliary cat). Friction develops occasionally, like in the mornings when she hears Kostya purring lustily as we pet him in bed, and decides to join in for a few caresses of her own. Kostya will often view this as an affront and jump down, which always leads to Vyera leaving very soon thereafter. But they do make an attractive pair, and we even found them curled up together when we returned to our 42F house during the massive ice storm/power outage of December 2002. Two cats are better than one!

Monday, April 26, 2004
Work frustrations continue this week. I noticed that we were without certain important data elements in one of our databases, and couldn't find anyone willing to take responsibility for fixing it. Rather than continue on this wild goose chase until I got tired and dropped it, I submitted a problem ticket to our tech folks, figuring that they could find out who the problem belongs to. I notified the folks who had disavowed any responsibility that I had taken this step so that things would be fixed without my further efforts. So the one replies that he doesn't see what needs to be changed. (Yes, one of the codes may be industry standard, but that doesn't mean I can look at a '1016' and know what it means, and since the fellow can't point me to any table which would tell me what it means, industry standard or not, it's indecipherable). The other guy says it's not his fault because the data isn't where he's pulling it from. I finally sent them another e-mail saying, in essence, I didn't say it's your fault; I said it needed to be fixed and that there's nothing I can do to cause it to be fixed. So I'm letting "the machine" handle it.

Makes me wonder if someone doesn't have a wee bit of a guilty conscience...

One of the most destructive ideas we have to battle in this country is the liberal fantasy that everyone has a right to sex without consequences: just wear a condom, and you'll be fine. This is why we need to pump billions of dollars into AIDS research- it's the last obvious counterexample. Everything else is "treatable", including pregnancy. When did this inalienable right come into being? How do you eradicate the emotional consequences of having sex? How do you eradicate the emotional consequences of killing your own child? How can the people who advocate this point of view believe so completely that they have the moral high ground, and that it is "violence" against women to require that they face the consequences of their actions? What reasons can we offer our children for practicing abstinence if they're told that there's nothing wrong with "safe sex"?

It really makes me angry to see these people casting the President and John Ashcroft as the enemies while they're busy killing helpless babies and telling the mothers that killing their children will solve all their problems and make everything ok again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
I love watching the controversies that arise in Chapel Hill politics. I'll admit that it's total Schadenfreud, but it's just precious watching liberals throw conniption fits because Habitat wants to build near their neighborhood. Or when the NAACP accuses them of racism because some people object to renaming a major street after MLK (the current Martin Luther King Street is admittedly not a prominent one). Liberals coming home to roost...

It makes you wonder, though, where this will all end. Will they rest while there is one American town without a prominent MLK Rd? Why is Martin Luther King, Jr. the only historical figure who needs to be memorialized by every municipality? Or are they just targeting Chapel Hill because they think it'll be easy?

It's been one of those weeks at work. I'm starting to wonder if as soon as my e-mail leaves my pc certain important parts aren't being eaten. It's really frustrating when three different people in one (half of a) week ignore information you've already given them and then ask you for the information. I mean, it's possible that I do this to friends occasionally, but there's no way I would skim a business e-mail and simply assume that the person sending it was stupid enough to omit key information! It makes it difficult to be diplomatic when you have to say things like, "I don't need you to answer the pieces I didn't highlight. That's why I said you should give me the data in the three highlighted rows" when someone freaks out because all of a sudden he notices the additional questions on a spreadsheet he's had for days and assumes for some reason that you really want the stuff you told him you don't need! Or worse, "actually, sending me the data I was asking you about does NOT answer my questions. Once again, here are the questions:..."

But frustration builds character, right? Maybe God's just preparing me for parenthood...

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Here's a great reason to root for the Redskins this season!

Monday, April 19, 2004
The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done

So one of my big difficulties with this whole getting ready for baby thing has been (and will continue to be) my JRA (Juvenile [onset] Rheumatoid Arthritis). From about the age of ten, I've had to adapt to painful joints, progressive weakness and worsening deformity (especially in my hands, since college). As a result of my disease, I found that I could not operate a single infant/toddler carseat currently on the market- the seatbelt latches are far too stiff. One website recommended buying a device from a medical supply store (for the aged or just plain decrepit) designed to push buttons on car door handles. So I found one that looked about right, paid upwards of $20 for it, only to have it prove to be of no use whatsoever when it comes to car seats. "Well then," I thought, "I guess if I plan on going anywhere with this child without company, I'll be walking".

But I wasn't quite ready to give up, so I visited the hardware store this weekend. I explained my problem to an employee who wanted to be helpful, but who probably had never pondered how to open a car seat in the case of failing fingers. I looked over a few things and came to the conclusion that I probably ought to just try a C-clamp, which Paul, being a piano technician, could easily supply. Saturday, when I told him (once he stopped laughing at the thought of me cranking away at the infant's belly-button with a C-clamp), Paul went out to his car and grabbed me a nice one with a cross-bar. I wanted to try it out Sunday, but Paul wanted to spend our $10 coupon at the brand new Kohl's by our church, and they didn't happen to have any car seats there.

So, (after being grumpy yesterday when Paul took me straight home from Kohl's) I went to Toys'R'Us on my lunch break today, and what do you know, the C-clamp worked like a charm! I even found a travel system with a car seat I can latch and unlatch from the base and the stroller, besides which, I can sometimes move the carrying bar up & down! I am no longer doomed to a homebound existence!

And then to top it all off, I learned how to Blogroll. If only I were making this much progress at work!

God bless this Marine!

Thursday, April 15, 2004
Kiev makes Drudge Report.

Mystery Solved

I've finally figured out something that's been bothering me for years. A large and growing number of American motorists believe that they (and their cars) are invisible when they drive. If you understand their delusion, suddenly their behavior becomes rational. You know that car riding six inches off your rear bumper on the interstate? It's not someone wanting you to go 75 instead of 70, it's someone conscientiously avoiding a collision. Don't believe me? Try going 75, 80, they're still on your tail, right? Think about it: if you were invisible, you'd want to occupy a space no unsuspecting driver would try to occupy. Only invisible cars would take the risk of tailgating (since it's actually safer for them), and, apparently, they can see each other (thank goodness!)

Invisible drivers also seem to believe that using their turn signals makes them visible. It's not coolness or machismo which prevents them from signaling before pulling into your lane with a foot to spare. No! They just don't want to startle you with their phantom car. Then there's the group who's had enough of living on the edge. They leave their turn signals on continuously so they aren't invisible.

I propose that we send out the state troopers to round these unfortunate souls up and get them some treatment. Invisible cars. Tchyah!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Good news on little Marta Anna! She's off the respirator (on C-PAP?) and making progress! Monika finally got to hold her this week. Thanks for all the prayers.

Monday, April 12, 2004
Thanks, everyone for the tips on living with old furniture! We went ahead and bought the dresser this weekend, so we'll make use of your suggestions. I think the drawers may simply be resting on one another. I didn't take the whole thing apart, but we'll have a look at the innards when we move it (didn't one of you ladies use that term? Very good. Descriptive of this 70-yr old relic!)

I dragged Paul around to see what else was out there before we went to see The Dresser. As it turns out, there wasn't much! It's hard to find separate pieces. Anyway, it was hardly an exhaustive search, but Paul's patience for cruising furniture stores was well-nigh exhausted by the time we got to Granddaddy's. He wasn't really enthusiastic about my find (his bottom line was, "Well, it won't bother ME [that we have a junky dresser in the baby's room]"), but I think we did the right thing =-]

Thanks to Angie for this excellent news

Paul, time to hit the post-Easter sales! BTW, dark is best =-]

Prayer update: our niece, Marta Anna, was delivered Friday by c-section. She weighed 2 lbs, 11 oz and was 15 inches long. She is on a respirator. As far as we know, Monika is doing fine. Please continue to keep the family and especially little Marta in your prayers.

Thank you!

I hope everyone had a joyous Easter.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Good news on the crib front! I've been wanting a Jenny Lind crib with a foot release in cherry finish after seeing the oak one by Evenflo at Babies'R'Us. Angel Line makes one, but it's $30 to $40 more at best, on sale, with free shipping. I wasn't too keen on spending that much for a different finish, when I could paint it yellow and be just as happy. Babies'R'Us told me it didn't come in any other finish. Well, it doesn't at Babies'R'Us, but it does at Sears and Meijer! It's hard to tell from the pics, but the maple finish looks nice and dark. The one at Sears is only $120, but I'm not sure what the price at Meijer is. If any of you midwesterners happen to be in a Meijer in the baby section in the next little while, check the price for me if you think of it. I'm not opposed to paying $120 for a crib, but if there's a better deal to be had... And another decision down! 19,999 to go.

Friday, April 02, 2004
How cool is this? Somebody in our county sent his to a museum (I wish I could remember where). Before this week, I had never heard of such a thing. Check out the history for an idea of the power held by the US consumer in the 60's.

Thursday, April 01, 2004
Good news on the crib bedding front! A very good friend just bought me the Pottery Barn Kids Counting Sheep set on e-bay! One decision down, just 30,000 to go!

No word on Monika and the baby. In this situation, I guess no news is good news. Please keep them in your prayers!

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