Friday, August 25, 2006

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times

If you need some motivation to blog...

One of these days we will create some Shakespeare or Blickens.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Top Ten Toys

A recent discussion over children's toys has made me curious (all right, I was already curious to begin with, but now I'm curious about something as opposed to being merely odd ...).

Jon's musings on technology reminded me about our (Nick and I, not Jon and I, just to clarify) recent trips toy shopping for Lucy's first birthday. There were some great toys, but there was also a lot of crap. But in the end, Lucy really liked the toys that flashed lights and made noise when she pressed a button (luckily there's a volume control). She also liked her other more "traditional" toys: a ball, books, and puzzles. This whole experience has made me realize that I haven't paid much attention to toys since I was a kid, and that I really need to remind myself about what makes a good toy.

So my question here, after all that, is what were our favorite toys (as children)? What were the ones you always liked to play with, that your friends liked, and that you played with over and over again growing up? And, if you like, why did you like them so much?

Here's my top 10 (in no particular order):
1. Legos
2. Giant cardboard bricks and playhouse
3. Lincoln Logs
4. Wood blocks
5. Brio trains
6. Transformers
7. Cars and a "city" carpet
8. Playmobile
9. Fake food and cookery items
10. Book and record sets

I also have fond memories of our marbleworks set, my "visible woman" kit, model rockets, my hula hoop (I named it "Hulay") and playdough/clay ...

I really liked building things (I think that's clear) and making up stories about the things I built. I know I played with dolls, but they tended to be integrated into the story I was constructing (they were in the playhouse or on the city carpet--more accessory than focal point). I remember always wanting a Nintendo and a trampoline but we never acquired either. We did play a fair amount of computer games when I was a bit older on our Mac Classic: Dark Castle, Carmen Sandiego, and Brickles were my favorites.

Hope this was mildly interesting--please share!


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Career Options

You look great as a nurse, Erin. Have you ever thought about becoming a firefighter?


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Minas Tirith, Trampolines and Cake

Well, after one sick baby, two birthday parties, three missing trampine springs, four marshmellows, five days at the ocean, six levels of Minas Tirith, seven tanks of gas, eight hundred miles times two, nine birthday presents, and ten cousins, we're back. I am referring of course to our vacation up to Washington. It was a vacation that marked a few milestones for us: Lucy's first vacation, the first time that I really wanted to move back since I've been gone, Lucy's first times getting hurt, etc...

Like every year at the Washington coast, I built a big sandcastle with Steven, Jenny's brother. This year it was Minas Tirith:

It took us about five hours. Towards the end, we were getting tired, and this woman whose kids we let "build" with us (ie, babysit) came and helped us with the finishing touches. I wanted to make all the buildings individually and give them detail, but there just wasn't enough time unless it spilled over into the next day, and I had had enough Minas Tirith building for that week.

It was Lucy's birthday that week, so of course we had to have two birthday parties, one for each family. She got her first taste of cake which she gluttonously shoved into her face with both hands. She ate all four marshmellows on top too. She was pretty proud of herself:

As I mentioned, it was also the first time Lucy got hurt. We were on the previously mentioned trampoline that was missing three springs in a row, we turn our backs for half a second, and...whoops! There goes the baby through the hole, hitting her head on the wood boards keeping the dirt in place (the tramp is half underground), and luckily landing on her diapered bum. We were all a little distraught, I think us more than Lucy. She came through it with just a flesh wound but I think we are permanently scarred. She does really love the trampoline though:

While the ocean water wasn't really swimmable (it was colder than the high alpine lake I swam in last month), it was really refreshing to be there after the several weeks of post 100 degree weather in Utah. The weather is what made me want to move back. It didn't rain once, and it was in the 70s and lower 80s every day, with one or two in the upper sixties (and that was at the coast). And the proximity to water up there is a plus as well. And of course, Lucy seems to enjoy it:


Monday, August 21, 2006

Nurse Erin...but after this, I may consider computer engineering after all...

And no, Jenny, that's only a harmless placebo in the syringe.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why I Prefer Numbers over Words

Forgive me if I’ve already ranted about this.
Has anybody else noticed that automatic phone systems in call centers are becoming more advanced? By “more advanced”, I mean less intuitive and more obnoxious.

Let me relate an experience.
I called my phone company to cancel my long distance service a few weeks ago. I was greeted by pleasant pre-recorded voice asking me to say or enter my phone number. Since I despise talking with machines that will likely misunderstand me, I entered my phone number on the keypad. The machine soon told me something to the effect of “briefly give the reason for your call.” I said “Cancel long-distance service.” The machine replied with, “I understand you want to cancel your phone service. Are you moving?” I said “No” though I was sure that the machine had misunderstood me. I waited for precisely 15 minutes on hold before hanging up. I called right back. After entering my phone number again I said “change phone service”. The voice then said, “Our records show that you called us just a little while ago. Are you calling again because we did not resolve your issue on the previous call?” I said, “Yes” and was connected to an agent in less than 3 seconds who helped me.
Now I don’t know if the que was really just shorter when I called the second time, though I doubt that. There could be a separate “disgruntled customers” que that they send people to when they have to call back a second time. Maybe when Mr. Machine thought I said “cancel service” the first time they gave me a lower priority than anyone else and people that called after me but weren’t “cancelling service” were getting agents before me. Maybe some combination of those. Anyway, the point is that there was something going on that was much less intuitive than “first come, first served”.
There have been a few other companies/ agencies I have called that are trying this type of speech recognition technology (one was the post office). In each case it was maddeningly unhelpful and much worse than “Push 1 for your bill balance, Push 2 for … etc.”
Didn’t anyone learn anything from Jurassic Park? I thought the only moral that could be extracted from that movie is something like: “Just because we have the technology to do it doesn’t mean we should.”
Anyway, do you agree with me? Do you disagree with me?
I apologize for taking up more than my “quota” of quotation marks.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I promise I’ll stop starting … now.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Father Shem

Has anybody ever noticed a word that means something that they don't think it should mean?

I mean, in any language you have words that are variations of each other, and they have definitions that deal with the same subject or object. For example, the word "typical" means "regular" or "usual", the word "atypical" means "irregular" or "unusual", "typically" is an adverb meaning "usually" or "normally", "type" is a noun meaning "example" or "of a particular group", etc. These relationships between words with a common root make sense and follow a pattern similar to other words.
So here is what I don't understand. The following are entries from from (Please excuse the hard to read formatting.)

Main Entry: Sem·ite
Pronunciation: 'se-"mIt, especially British 'sE-"mIt
Function: noun
Etymology: French sémite, from Semitic Shem, from Late Latin, from Greek SEm, from Hebrew ShEm
1 a : a member of any of a number of peoples of ancient southwestern Asia including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs b : a descendant of these peoples
2 : a member of a modern people speaking a Semitic language

Main Entry: Se·mit·ic
Pronunciation: s&-'mi-tik also -'me-
Function: adjective
Etymology: German semitisch, from Semit, Semite Semite, probably from New Latin Semita, from Late Latin Semitic Shem
1 : of, relating to, or constituting a subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic language family that includes Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and Amharic
2 : of, relating to, or characteristic of the Semites

Main Entry: an·ti-Sem·i·tism
Pronunciation: "an-tE-'se-m&-"ti-z&m, "an-"tI-
Function: noun
: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group
- an·ti-Se·mit·ic /-s&-'mi-tik/ adjective
- an·ti-Sem·ite /-'se-"mIt/ noun

You'll notice that even though the Hebrews are one people of many included in the term Semite, the word "anti-Semitic" seems to mean "anti-Jewish". That doesn't make sense. It's like saying that "anti-American" means you don't like Californians. The logical meaning for "anti-Semitic" is "against Semites" (including not just Jews, but all Hebrews, Arabs and other Semitic peoples). That kind of makes the thought of Ahmadinejad being anti-Semitic comical.
When people use the word "anti-Semitic" I really do think of being "against Semites", but that's not what they mean. So should I just give up, even though I think I'm right and everyone else is wrong? Am I making the classic blunder of getting too caught up in semantics?


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Salsa Night

We finally had a salsa night. The tomatos were teasing me for weeks, and then they all got ripe all at once. We even had a southridge friend there to have it with us. Some of you might remember Naomi Frandsen who lived right below Jenny for a year when we were at the Southridge ward. Then I think she was in the same ward as Jared and maybe Warren while she was in DC. Well it wasn't really a salsa night since it wasn't really salsa- it was more like a fresh non-cooked spaghetti sauce, but it was close enough. If anyone is in town this Friday night, I think we're going to make some real salsa, with everything fresh from the garden except the limes.

A 73 year old farmer from the ward gave me a tomato from his garden yesterday. It was huge. I tasted it, and it was nice but it was actually kind of bland, more like a store bought (a very good store bought). He's the kind a farmer who believes in fertilizer, and lots of it, which is not a bad thing usually though I think I've inadvertantly discovered (more due to our poverty than anything else) that less fertilizer on certain crops like tomatos might not make them grow as large, but the taste is incredible. Its like each tomato is alloted only a certain amount of taste at the beginning of it's life, and the bigger it grows the more diffused that taste becomes, until you get the huge monstrous tomatos that are just bland mush. Now, there are certain things that I wouldn't mind if they were bigger and milder- like my onions, which are more powerful than I prefer, but I would rather have my tomatos bursting with flavor, even if they are smaller.

Which reminds me, I've taken pictures of the garden for 4 weeks now meaning to put up my garden journal posts, but we've just been busy. Work, school, baby, scout camp, girls camp, etc...

Anyhoo, if you're within a few hundred miles of Sandy on Friday, make sure you come to salsa night. I'll take pictures.