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I am The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

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Tomorrow I turn 42 and I wanted to share some thoughts from this past year.

The two biggest events this year were that we are getting ready to welcome our seventh child and my grandmother passed away.

My grandmother was a force. She was the quintessential matriarch and almost everyone gave way to her. Like most people forged in the era of the Great Depression, she worked very hard and had a great appreciation for family.  She always seemed happy, except when she was upset about something.  That happened a lot actually, though it was usually short lived.

She had an affinity for dyeing her hair and it was only in her twilight that she stop doing so.  The picture I had originally wanted to show was similar to the one above, but with a kids birthday crown and her attempt at a smile.  (Right, she didn’t smile when she was smiling. She could totally smile, but just not when she tried.)  This was a picture from the last time I saw her, and it has superseded most other images of her, so I posted this one.  I’m still going to try and find the birthday picture.

I very rarely saw any kind of emotion from her, save when we went to visit grandpa’s spot in the wall.  All she said, in a broken voice, was, ‘I love you, papa’.

Her second son passed in 2002 and even then I did not see a great change in her, but that was grandma.

Grandma was also my last grandparent.  With her passing comes a macabre realization that my own parents are next in line. The conversation I have with my parents now involve topics of what we will do after they are gone. Those conversations as are not as difficult as I had originally thought they would be, but I still feel unsettled discussing the topic.

My father was born when my grandmother was 18. He commented that his mom had been a part of his life for 72 years.  I really don’t have the context to fully grasp what that is like.  My grandfather passed away in 1991 and I was young enough for it not to have a major impact on me. My maternal grandparents also passed away in the 90s and my memory of them with somewhat abstract.  But not grandma.  She was a force.  And now she is in heaven trying to convince Saint Paul that he is really a Lutheran.

Happily though, there is another family member coming along to help fill the void.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  He doesn’t have a name yet, so we have been calling him, ‘baby what’s-his-face’, or ‘baby sierra three-five’.  I imagine we will have a name in a few weeks.

I can’t help but wonder if this kid will inherit grandma’s spirit, a-la Avatar.  That would be an interesting ride.

And so it goes.




Support the WWF!

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So, every now and then I find a picture on the internets that just really slays me.  Above is one such example.

For all the filth and slime I find on the web, you can occasionally find a random funny nugget like this.  It’s nice to find.

On a similar note, one of my Facebook groups is called SAGE – Society for the Advancement of Gooder English.  (I say ‘my’ like I created it…)  This is good clean fun that does not single someone out, but allows us to laugh at the absurdities that are already out there.

Please be sure to share some of your own examples!

And so it goes.


Fruit Be Not Proud

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Here is  a screen shot of my Game Center account for Fruit Ninja.  FN is the game I play when I am bored.  You attempt to slice fruit and earn points.  If you play the multiplayer, as I do, you try to slice more fruit than they other guy.  For every win, you move up in the rankings.  I am currently ranked #796 out of 1,283,153 players.  That puts me in the top 0.00062% of players.  While I think that is sorta cool to be ranked that high, I am a little disturbed by it.  I play about 20 games through out the day.  The games last one minute, so it’s not like I play a lot, I just play consistently.  I keep telling myself that there is nothing unhealthy about it.  I hope I’m correct.

On another note, we need to talk about hyperlinks.  If you see some text that is slightly blue and has an underline when you put your mouse over it (like this right here), you are supposed to click on it.  I use them in my blogs to add an extra dimension, so please, experience the treasure trove of extra content!

And so it goes.





Relational Database

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Happy Father’s Day to dads of all kinds.  Speaking of fathers…

These glasses belong to my father-in-law, Pete.  We hit the farmers market this week and I noticed Pete’s glasses.  I haven’t seen a pair of Vuarnets in probably 20 years.  A picture of my brother immediately came to mind.  This picture is of him wearing a blue and gold rugby shirt from the high school rugby team, his long blonde hair, his high school acne, his car, and his Vuarnets.  So to summarize:

  • Rugby
  • Long blonde hair
  • An aqua-blue ’65 Chevy Super Sport Impala
  • Vuarnets

What struck me was the way I remembered this picture.  It was not just a flat picture, but more of a multi-dimensional picture, a welter of imagines cascaded until what I was remembering was only related to original subject by implication.  Here is how that original list panned out:

  • Rugby
  • Blue and gold rugby shirt
  • Rugby shirts have a single piece u-neck so they won’t tear when someone grabs your shirt
  • They also have rubber buttons to protect the players eyes in case one comes off
  • Long blonde hair
  • Biffie refused to cut his hair for a long time
  • My great-grandmother had very long brown hair, much like Biffie’s
  • Acne
  • Biffie took Accutane to help with his acne
  • Accutane can result in deformed bones or cancer
  • Biffie used to give his Accutane to Brett because he also had acne
  • Brett played in a death metal band and I bought their first (only?) album
  • Accutane also causes dry lips
  • Biffie used to carry Carmex with him all the time.  We still find old containers around the house 20 years later
  • An aqua-blue ’65 Chevy Super Sport Impala
  • My mother bought this car brand new in 1965 after graduating from nurses school.
  • Pop (my grandfather) wouldn’t let her get the big motor, just a 283
  • The car had a black interior because Pop wouldn’t let her get white
  • A garbage truck backed into the car and dented the quarter panel
  • That dent let to a complete rebuild of the car
  • Vuarnets
  • Vuarnets have V inscribed on the lens
  • Biffie scratch the bottom of his frames so he could identify the glasses if they were stolen.  And they were.  I don’t know if he ever got them back…

(The format of this just didn’t turn out quite right.  It is supposed be hierarchical, but wordpress doesn’t support that bullet style to well.)

Most of that came to me with 10 seconds of seeing the glasses.  I titled this posted ‘Relational Database’ because I feel like my brain built a giant query and sent me the results.

What would be really interesting is to know how much of what I ‘remember’ never really happened…

And so it goes



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No, GE!

No, G-Free!

Both my wife and the Alpha Child have a gluten sensitivity.  It isn’t full blow Coeliac disease, it is enough to floor both of them in different ways.  Alpha has a very severe eczema.  We put her on a G-free diet about five months ago.  Her skin went from being broken, split and irritated to irritated and hivey.  Believe it or not, that is a big improvement.  She used to have cracks in her skin that would bleed and become infected.  She still has scratching fits, but overall there is an improvement.

My wife had a attack of diverticulitis.  It runs in the family.  For the past year she was really struggling with the aftermath of the attack.  A few months ago I was reading and article in the WSJ about gluten sensitivity.  It was as if the journal interviewed my wife and wrote an article about what she was going through.

Now that both of them have successfully transitioned to a G-free diet, I have found myself doing more food prep to support that.  Key in this endeavor is making bread at least once a week.  You would be appalled at the amount of money you can spend on a loaf of gluten free bread.  My daughter will buy some from the baker at the farmers market for $3.00 a loaf ($4.00 for everyone else).  I get a box mix and use it to make two loaves at a time.  I also make flax bread for my wife, as well as deyhdrated almonds.

The new hit in the house is rice pasta.  It cooks differently, but once you throw on some sauce, you’d never know the difference.  I used to make a pound for dinner, but the boy eats so much of it that I have had to switch to at least 1.5 lbs just to keep up.

Since going G-free, Alpha has lost about five pounds.  She has never been overweight, but losing five pounds made her look healthier.  I guess that is a common G-free side effect.  Maybe I should do that too….

My wife has started reading a book by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, from that Afternoon Yak show, about how to be G-free.  An interesting aspect is that it covers the social aspect of how to inform a party host that you won’t be eating their yummy spread.  Or how to handle the situation where someone shoves a piece of sourdough bread in your face and tells you that you must try this!  Food is such a part of people’s identities that you can offend someone if you don’t take the proper approach.

The comforting part is that she is not alone.  There are a great number of moms-with-kids-who-have-gluten-problems-have-blogs-that-tell-you-all-about-it.  Wifey always has lots of ideas to that are gleaned from those blogs.  My MIL even sent a great cookbook.  Come to think of it, I think she sent the G-free book as well…

Great ride this  morning.  5 miles.  It’s a start.

And so it goes.


Beware Of False Profits

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So, I work at a bank.  I have to admit, it is a nice gig.  We get every federal holiday off and the most vacation I’ve ever had.  My department doesn’t keep banker’s hours, but we don’t work a crazy schedule either.  The poor accounting department though…

We don’t have a lot of exposure to residential real estate, so we escaped the slaughter that has infected other major banks.  Almost.

In statistics there is something called survivorship bias.  The premise is that if you are measuring, say, mutual funds, and you only include those funds that didn’t shut down, you will be overstating your performance because those funds that didn’t survive aren’t around to drag down your average returns.  Or the winner’s curse, where a company tries to take over someone else and outbids everyone to the point where they win the company, but have over paid so much that they will never find value in the transaction.

I’d like to steal those two phrases and reuse them.

Survivorship bias is a bias against the banks who did things well.  If you have a bank account then you are probably familiar with:

Well, the money that is used to pay that $250,000 comes from insurance premiums paid by member banks.  As more banks fail, more money is needed to fund the insurance.  Since there are fewer banks, the surviving banks need to pay more to make up for both the increased risk and smaller pool of premiums.

In the same vein, the winners curse applies because we didn’t lose, we are cursed with higher premiums.

I wonder what the word is for people who purposely misuse existing phrases to fit their own agenda.

Another aspect of the increased government oversight of banking is that we are required to keep more capital on hand to meet expected future losses.  Basically, we are required to reserve our profits from today in anticipation of losses tomorrow.  As a result we would have posted a profit of $30 million for 2010.  Then the regulators came in, shook the magic 8-ball and read:

A quick reference to a random number generator told them that we should reserve $50 million against future losses.  All of the sudden we had to post a $20 million loss.  (Needless to say, these are our real numbers, but you get the idea.)

I admit I am being flippant about the process, but at the end of the day, it’s our accounting mumbo-jumbo against their regulatory mumbo-jumbo.  Some day, we’ll recover from all of this and get back on track.  What I  am most interested to see is the new financial crisis that results from the rules imposed from this financial crisis.  I predict that the new regulations will cause a spike derivatives, led by midgets taking a short position on Bonds, who they think he won’t be prosecuted for PEDs.   Cattle growers will then be bullish on futures, fooling the dance teachers into thinking the markets are in contango.  Naturally, this will lead the auto manufacturers to invest heavily in the ABS market, not realizing that it won’t keep the credit markets from seizing up.

I’ll bet all of my WaMu stock that this happens.  Any takers?

And so it goes.


Father of Daughters

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I have the pleasure of being a father to four girls and a boy.

Our oldest, known here as the Alpha Child, is joyful, eccentric and can be, um, difficult.  She is a natural performer.  This past year she sang, ‘A Few of My Favorite Things’, from The Sound of Music at her schools talent show.  Did a great job for a nine year-old.  My Facebook friends can poke around on my wall and find the clip.  When she was researching saints at school this year, she had to say what cause she would be the saint of.  I suggested that she could be the patron saint of dramatic little girls.  Note to self:  Dramatic little girls don’t like to be called dramatic little girls.

Our second daughter, Julia Grace, died when she was very young.  She still looms very large in my perception of the world.  She would be turning five about this time of year.  The kids have a cousin that is her age and I often watch cousin Izzy and wonder what Julia would be doing now.  And so it goes.

Next down the line is The Cuteosaurus.  The running joke with her was to pick an adjective or action and add ‘osaurus’ to it. Burposaurus, screamosaurus, eatosaurus, etc.  The CS has steel in her.  She is four and half now.  When she was 1-2, she would scream this piercing scream to get what she wanted.  It drove my wife to go back to work.  Seriously.  It took a lot of work to get her to stop screaming and start asking, but we got there.  Now she is the easiest of the kids to manage.  She just wants to make you happy and has a mostly sunny disposition.  The screaming will return on occasion, but nothing beyond the scope of what one would expect from a kid her age.  The CS is the most driven of our children and I expect that she will be the one to go into the business world.

Finally, we come to LJ.  (That not a nickname or anything.  Her nickname has her actual name in it and I’m one of those paranoid types who tries not to list his kids names on his blog.)  LJ is two and half and knows the exact moment when my wife and I are too busy with the others to pay attention to her.  She can switch between ornery and sweet very quickly and I never know quite what to expect.  I got her out of the bath the other day and she put her head on my shoulder and said, ‘I’m so happy to see you daddy.’  It really get’s you.  Five minutes later she was screaming at me because she didn’t want me to put lotion on feet.  That really gets me, too.

So there you go.  With summer around the corner,  I expect things to get a little hectic.  We put in an offer on a house last month, so if all goes well, our summer will include a move.  Four kids and a move?  No sweat.  (end delusional statement)

I’ll cover Biffie (the boy) later.

And so it goes.