Sunday, December 31, 2006

Our Christmas day picture

We still haven't sent out our Christmas cards yet. My 'explaination' is that this is a true Christmas picture--actually taken on Christmas day--so it is really physically impossible to have them out early. dbp

Surenna tries on her new Aunt Kerry hat...

Surenna and her sisters all love their new hats plus matching silk purses.

Dahlia's new hat...

Dahlia tries on her new hat. She loves it and the snugness around the opening nicely accentuates her big roung head.
dbp

Jemma's new hat

Here is Jemma enjoying her new Aunt Kerry hat.

Lets see how this 'add image' button works...

Well, this seems just as easy as using Picassa! If the quality is good I will just post pictures this way instead.

dbp

Update: The quality looks okay (the original image was slightly out of focus)

Here are the girls modeling their new hats and purses.

This is what I get for being nice.

It had been a while since posting anything, so I thought, "why not post some Christmas pictures"? When I went into Blogger it asked me to upgrade and so I did. Then I launched Picassa, and it too asked me to upgrade. Now, of course, I cannot post pictures. Nice! dbp

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why We Believe...Or Not.

A few days ago I was listening to author and professor of philosophy Daniel C. Dennett on WBUR. He was talking about his new book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. His thesis seemed to be that we can fully explain why people from all cultures form religions. The explanation is that there are natural (biological) reasons why this happens—it is not due to supernatural happenings. I haven't read the book and this is not a book review. What Dennett indicated on the radio show, is that since there are natural reasons which can explain the emergence of religion, it is therefore not rational to continue to believe in the supernatural content of religions. There is a certain logic to this: If you already have a complete explanation for a phenomenon, then there is no logical need to seek further reasons. What Dennett overlooks is a piece of circular, but nonetheless persuasive reasoning. If there is to be a coherent religion, it would assume there is a God and that he wants to be known. So, if there is a God and he made the universe and he wants us to worship him well...wouldn't it follow that he would design things in such a way as to make this possible? His creation would have to contain, at a minimum, creatures who are able to conceive of God. But that is really not enough. Just because his creatures are able to think of God doesn't give them any reason to actually do so. He could either come down and manifest himself to them every so often or he could make his people such that they have an internal need for religion. I happen to think that the latter is the better solution. Much like planetary mechanics via Newtonian physics is more elegant than earlier solutions which called for constant divine intervention. To look at it in a different light: If there is a God and he wants to be worshiped, wouldn't it be odd to make creatures who have no need or interest in religion? To put it into a natural selection perspective: If there were a selective disadvantage to religion, then religion would have been bred-out of humanity. A God who wants to be worshiped would make a world such that religion conveys some kind of benefit to his people; this way, they would never out-grow it. On a more respectful note, I don't think that any God worthy of worship would want it for the sake of his own ego. It would have to be for the good of his people. There may be something fundamental about sentient creatures (such as those found in mankind) that we need the divine (or the idea of the divine) in order to lead lives in which we find meaning.

2003--The first time I had been to Story Land. Dahlia was only 3 and it was a real accomplishment just to get her to go on the ride. If you examine the expression on her face, it is clear that she expects to die...right away. Posted by Picasa
This year we went to Story Land over the 4th of July weekend. We all went on the Bamboo Shoots ride, but this was the only time the picture came out. You can see that Surenna is scared by how she is clutching my knee, but mostly she is thrilled. Posted by Picasa

Haven't posted much...

I haven't posted much here, so I will use comments I have made on other sites for filler... For some backstory...I had made a short (critical) comment on Oscar's site about a post he made about an impeachment teach-in he had attended. Ann piled-on with another comment--she wanted more juicy details and also thought the idea of impeachment was idiotic too. Well Oscar eventually came back with a long post defending the idea. It was probably mostly Ann who goaded Oscar into such a long response, though he mostly addressed my concerns rather than hers. I felt that since he had gone to such efforts, I should make a long riposte. So here it is: Here is the link... to Oscar's first post and here is the response post. Hi Oscar, I hope it was Ann rather than me who was mostly responsible for you taking such an effort on this post. You put a lot of work into it and so it deserves some kind of response: 1. I don’t want to split hairs on impeachment v. being removed from office: I am well aware of the difference,-when one speaks of impeachment it is usually assumed that the end goal is removal from office. As an aside, I won a bet back during impeachment days on this very distinction. If the purpose is not to remove Bush from office, why not just pursue a resolution (in either chamber of Congress) of censure? It has twice the chance of passing since you have two chambers to work with, while impeachment must originate in the House only. 2. I never brought up the possibility of a back-lash because, while I suspect there would be one, it is hard to have much assurance one way or the other. The Republicans did loose 4 Senate and 2 House seats in the election of 2000, so it would be hard to say that they gained from impeachment. The argument should be whether Republicans were hurt and if so, by how much. 3. We can debate on the chances of such a project being successful: Impeachment itself would be one degree of success and removal from office a much higher level of success. I am not a Democrat, so maybe I just cannot relate, but I don’t see most liberals liking Cheney better than Bush. I will grant though that it might end up with a Ford-like situation, where the President was too weak to do much against an energized opposition in Congress. 4. I think you will agree (or maybe not) that a minimum requirement for success in this impeachment project is, at least a Democratic majority in the House. If the Republicans retain control, why would they give the opposition an impeachment proceeding to play with? Further, the Republicans would not have to defend an unpopular president. The burden of proof is on the accusers: All the Republicans have to do is rebut any accusations the Democrats make. 5. I see a lot of “Bush lied…etc” when I wander through liberal sites. In most cases it is all about the WMD, which were highly pushed in the lead-up to war and turned-out to be not-so-abundant. For Bush to be a liar, he would have to have known that there were no, or very few WMD there. How do you propose he would know this while the CIA and every foreign intelligence service thought that Iraq retained WMD stocks? On a similar vein, if Bush was so power-mad why would he have kept the lid on the actual poison shells that have been found in the last two years in Iraq? A real demagogue would have trumped each find, instead he kept it quiet to prevent insurgents from seeing if they could find some to use on our forces.I won’t re-fight the Clinton impeachment here—I followed it closely at the time and have no urge to dredge-up all of that again. I made the bet that Clinton would be impeached a couple of days after he was re-elected. I thought it would be due to abuse of executive privilege claims, or recess appointments of officers already rejected (voted down) by the Senate or maybe Chinese spy issues etc. I think the Lewinski affair would certainly have sunk a Republican president, but probably saved Clinton’s since it lured the Republicans into pursuing weaker (but easier to prove) charges. The impeachment never had anything to do with disagreeing with Clinton: The only major things that got done then: Welfare reform and NAFTA were ideas that Republicans liked. The things Republicans didn’t want; BTU taxes, national healthcare etc never got anywhere anyway. Jeeze Oscar! You goaded me into posting the longest comment I have ever made, so we’re even. Best regards, dbp

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Novel Idea

This idea for a story hit me just a couple of weeks ago. Given the topic, it should have occurred to me around 4 years ago due to the unusual circumstances of my 3rd daughter’s birth. Anyway the idea: A woman is pregnant, not just pregnant but due in a week or two. Normally a woman in this condition will not travel, least of all fly, but this one has little choice. She has received word that her father (or it could be her mother or anyone really close to her) is on their deathbed in a distant city. I was thinking of the woman living in Seattle and her dad living in New York. So, she goes off to NYC and sees her dad before he dies—it is all emotional and there is plenty of room for flashbacks and back story in general etc. On the flight home she delivers the baby on the plane. There is a retired obstetrician on the plane who is glad to help and it is this woman’s 2nd or third child so everything goes smoothly. There could even be a side story on how this delivery effects the doctor, makes him change his views, reevaluate what he is doing with the rest of his life etc. Or even, since he is on a flight to Seattle too, it is because he is also on his way home and the mother and he become friends or confide in one another etc. The key point here is the location of the birth: We found out from when our daughter was born at home that the hospital (in another town) could not issue a birth certificate. It had to come from our own town—which does not have any hospitals. It turns out that accidental births at home happen a couple of times per year, so our town officials had no problems issuing a birth certificate for us. What about a kid born while whizzing over the countryside at 500 mph? Luckily, the real doctor, a professional to the end, wrote down the time of birth on a pad. That and computerized navigation made it easy to ascertain just what county in Nebraska they were over when the baby was born. Here is where events sort of propel themselves: The mom writes to the county seat asking for a birth certificate and so, after a few certified and notarized letters are exchanged, she gets a birth certificate for her new born son. (Maybe the son is named after the recently departed grandfather. The daughter can honor her dad with an easy spirit now that he won’t be around to gloat and make her regret the decision.) The local paper for this Nebraska county seat regularly checks with the town officials for any matters which could go into their announcements section—births within the county always qualify. A reader brings this happening to the attention of her ladies club and they decide to, as a gift, send a permanent subscription of the local weekly paper to the mom who had her son in the air over their county. The boy grows up knowing this story and seeing the local paper laying around his home. Maybe he decides to go to Nebraska for college. Things could take any turn then: He could meet a girl in college or end up founding a business while in college etc. Something which ties him to the area would happen and he would end up living there. I think a story could be made out of it. I have certainly read stories hung on less plot than that. dbp

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

How To Age 15 Years in 45 Minutes--or--She Only Looks Her Actual Age Just-After a Tough Race.

After the Groton Road Race I went to the website to see pictures from the race. I noticed from browsing the pictures that there was one of me from the start of the race in addition to the usual finish-line picture. While browsing around I saw that there was a shot of a group of young women who had gathered just in front of my group. This got me thinking: I never saw any of them again and yet don't remember passing any of them. Just out of curiosity, I punched one of their bib numbers into the results page and got a huge shock!
  1. # 258 finished 9 seconds ahead of me! Well, that would account for why I never saw her again.
  2. OMG! She is 39 years old--I would have thought maybe 25 from the starting line picture.
  3. It was easy to find her finish-line picture since it was evidently on the same page as mine. Okay, she sort of looks like she could be her actual age based on her finish-line picture.
  4. But, if running makes you look 14 years younger than your actual age--except for a few minutes just after running--then this is a very nice feature of running.
  5. On the other hand. The genetic endowment which gave our 39 year-old the ability to out- run all but about a dozen of around 200 women in the race, could also account for resistance to the ravages of age.
  6. Hey, it is a theory. I think I look just as old and decrepit at the start as at the finish--maybe I didn't push my self as hard or I just have the genetics to finish in the top 1/3 of the guys while our 39 year old is in about the top 1/20 of the ladies.

dbp


No wonder I never saw her again. She finished two places ahead of me.  Posted by Picasa

I noticed a group of young women standing just ahead of us. I didn't remember passing them or seeing them again once the race began. Posted by Picasa
Here I am at the start talking up how great my Nike Free shoes feel, sockless. Note: I am not especially suseptible to blisters, but had massive ones on both feet (in my arches) by about mile three. To say the least, the final three miles involved "some discomfort". Posted by Picasa

Just finishing the Groton Road Race (10 K). This year's time: 46:31. This is about 3 minutes faster than last year. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Finally, the top half of the project is done. We have been using the buffet (the bottom half of the project) for about two years now. I built the buffet in about two months while looking for work. Once I landed a job, it took two years to complete the top half (the hutch). This just goes to show how having a job can cut into one's free time! Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 03, 2006

How I spent my first free Wednesday

I just went from five, eight-hour days to four ten-hour days at work. My first extra day-off was March 1st, Ash Wednesday and my sister’s birthday (who I still need to call).

The first part of the day was identical to any normal work-day: Vaishali drove off to work around the time I got out of bed. I got the girls up, gave them breakfast and helped them get ready for school. It was very cold out so I drove them all to the bus stop and saw the two elder ones onto the bus, then drove the mile to Jill’s house and dropped-off Jemma there. Normally, I would then continue on to work. This day, I just drove back home. I was home by about 9:00AM.

When I got home I began to sink into lethargy—a nap in the sunny patch in the middle of our bed enticed…I fought off the urge but still wasted a good hour reading the WSJ and working a soduko (curses on the grave of the inventor!). I broke the spell by making a fried-egg sandwich and washing it down with hot coffee and orange/pineapple juice.

It was now 10:00AM. I decided to revive a furniture project which had sat idle since last summer. A china hutch is complete except for sanding and finishing. I began to sand. For the next four hours I sanded, with the only interruptions being to relieve corners with the block plane or scrape-off bits of glue with a chisel. I did a once-over with 100 grit paper and only neglected the inside shelf—which was on the other side of the basement, forgotten.

I was covered in dust, it was 2:15, I had to pick-up the girls at the bus stop at 3:30 and I wanted to go for a run. I did a good 5 mile loop and made it to the bus stop 15 minutes early. (If I had been more ambitious, I would have showered before meeting the bus) Surenna, always solicitous of my feelings, pointed out later that I looked geeky dressed in black running pants, white running shoes, sweatshirt and gloves at the bus stop. She was probably right, but I was too hot to put on a coat, plus I wouldn’t want to get a coat all sweaty…

Once we got home, I enjoyed a long and hot shower: Really best to wait until after picking up the girls—I was fully cooled down and could take my time. After my shower and dressed in an un-geeky style, I set about making dinner, chicken pot-pies. First I Made the crust: Flour, butter, salt, and sugar were cut together and then three tablespoons of cold water gently added. I made the crust into a ball, put it into a plastic bag and let it rest in the fridge. Next, I peeled and diced one large potato and put it on to boil. Then I finely diced one large onion and began to brown it over ghee and then added a few crushed garlic cloves to the onions. Next, I peeled a carrot, diced it and added it to the boiling potatoes—turned off the onions. My time was up: Time to go and get Jemma, back by 5:15.

The next stage was to prepare chicken. We had left-over roasted chicken, so all I had to do is separate bite sized pieces of meat from bone and skin. Once I had accumulated a respectable pile of meat into the cold onion pan, I threw a handful of frozen peas into the potato and carrot pot and then drained it. After mixing all the ingredients in the pan I got out the dough to roll out the pie crusts.

To make one large pot pie is an easy mistake to make. It is not much harder to make a series of single serving ones—which are easier to serve and more pleasure to eat. Once I started to roll out the dough, I realized I should have doubled the crust recipe. It was all I could do to make sufficient area for two stoneware cereal bowls (adult pies) and three metal dessert dishes (little girl pies). Final assembly: meat and vegetable mix plus a healthy dollop of left-over gravy, then the top crust laid-on and sealed to the bottom crust. I got the pies into a 400F oven by 5:45 and had the kitchen cleaned and was upstairs helping the girls with their showers by 6:00.

Vaishali was home in another 15-20 minutes and whipped-up a salad for the adults—I gave apple sauce to the girls as a side course.

All in all, a fine first free Wednesday. Doh! Still need to call my sister!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Pecchia Christmas Letter 2005

Dear Family and Friends, We hope that this letter finds all of you in good health and good spirits! It has been a while since we last wrote a Pecchia Family letter. We may not have kept in touch with all of you very well, but please know that you have been in our thoughts and hearts. The last couple of years seem to have flown by. The children have grown, of course, and they delight us daily as we see the world and enjoy life through their points of view. We've experienced a lot of "firsts" with them – first slumber party, bike ride, and ribbon in a horse show for Surenna; first tooth lost, play date by herself, and school for Dahlia; first hair cut, airplane ride, and trip to Washington for Jemma. I think our most significant "last" has been diapers! Surenna, our 8 year old, continues to enjoy school as she is in the third grade this year. She is evolving into a mature, studious, and a generally quiet girl (when she isn't wrangling with her sisters or belting out pop songs with her friends). Taking after her father and her Grammy, she has found great joy in reading. She gobbled up all the Roald Dahl books she could get her hands on last summer and "The BFG" was by far her favorite. She's working her way through the "Chronicles of Narnia" and screamed when she got book the 12th of the "Series of Unfortunate Events". She also loves to write small stories and poems (in cursive), create beautiful pieces of art, and she has been scrap booking too. Dahlia, our gregarious middle child, has found kindergarten to be the perfect social outlet, full of small, like-minded people who hang on her every word. Being a November baby, she had a painfully long wait after turning 5 to start kindergarten. Like her big sister, she adores school and learning in general. Her interests are toward nature and science. She constantly challenges our understanding of these matters, not to mention how to appropriately word our answers to a 6 year old. "Mamma, how do babies get 23 chromosomes from their Daddy when they are growing in their Mommy's tummy?" Our youngest, Jemma, is just as spunky as ever. She is proving to be a handful – defiant and aggressive. She doesn't let anyone get away with anything. But her high-spiritedness is thankfully tempered by her utter sweetness, and she is, after all, the baby of our family. She turns 4 in less than a month and has two more summers to go before starting school. But seeing her sisters in their academic pursuits has inspired her and she does have an interest in learning. She can quite nicely write her first name. David and I are still working full time. He has been with Millipore for 1.5 years now. He enjoys his job working with the clients and has been on several trips for on-site training and meetings lately. In February, he goes to Puerto Rico (lucky). At home, he has been spending time on home improvements, most notable of which are a lovely stone patio in the back yard and an entire new room (an office) on the back of the house that he is constructing from the screened porch. Last year, he created several pieces of furniture by hand – a table for Dahlia's room, a cabinet for Surenna, and a buffet for me. The china hutch is in progress! I have been with Emdeon Corporation (formerly named WebMD) for 3 years, working with the Practices Services division performing quality assurance on medical information reporting and analysis software. I feel blessed to have a job that affords me the autonomy and freedom to work from home whenever I choose. I am home when the children get off the bus and I can attend any school function. What a gig! David keeps a great blog on www.pecchia.blogspot.com where he recounts events in our lives and includes photos too. Take a look every so often to see what we're up to. Most likely, you will see a picture of you there! Please do keep in touch with us and remember that you are always welcome in our home whenever you would like to visit! Take care, God bless, and best wishes to you in the coming year! With Our Love, David, Vaishali, Surenna, Dahlia, and Jemma

I hope that we sent our Christmas picture to everybody we have the addresses for, but just in case; here it is! This is the day before Christmas in our porch--which is in the process of being converted to an office. Vaishali dressed them all up in Indian outfits for the occasion. Posted by Picasa

Trying to catch-up on my posting...

Toward the end of last Summer my work sent me to DC for a conference. The ony time I had for tourist activities was during a break in the middle of the day. My turn to man the booth had ended just a few minutes too late to go to a conference session, so I had a couple of hours free. I went for a camera tour/jog (I like to get in my daily road-work). The hotel was only about 5 blocks from the Mall, about half-way between the Capitol Bldg and the Washington Monument. So I ran to the Mall, then towards the Capitol and around it. Then I ran to the Washington Monument, then over to the White House and then back through the city to my hotel. The previous day when I had just flown-in, I ran (sans camera) in the opposite direction toward Catholic University and then back by way of Howard University. There were some scary neiborhoods there, but it was Sunday afternoon and things were pretty quiet. Just about the only people I saw that run were people all dressed-up for church. After my run and a much needed shower, I met up with an old friend from the Marine Reserves. It was great to catch-up on what he had been doing. He has been to Iraq a couple of times in his capacity as a Navy dentist, among much else. We are lucky as a nation to have folks like this.

I met up with an old pal from when I was in the Marine Corps. He is now an officer in the Navy and his lovely wife works for the same company as my lovely wife. Posted by Picasa

The Supreme Court Bldg. is right across the street from the front of the Capitol Bldg. I didn't get any shots of the front of the Capitol Bldg. due to construction all around the front. Posted by Picasa

The back side of the U.S. Capitol Bldg. Posted by Picasa
Washington Monument from the Capitol Bldg. Notice the white pavilions which look like they are at the base of the monument? Two pictures below this one is a shot of the Capitol from the Washington Monument. From this shot you see that the pavilions are about halfway between the Capitol Bldg. and the Washington Monument.Posted by Picasa

Here is the Washington Monument at its most monumental. Hey, sometimes 'a monument' is just 'a monument'. Posted by Picasa

The Capitol Bldg. from the Washington Monument. Posted by Picasa

The White House from the Washington Monument. I think this shot illustrates why the hijacker went for the Pentagon instead of the White House. You can hardy see it from the air, it isn't very large and all the buildings around it are taller. The only clear approach is from the Washington Monument and then youv'e got a giant tower in your way. Posted by Picasa

Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Monument. Posted by Picasa

Aha, the classic front of the White House shot. Posted by Picasa