Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

A different tree.

This looks like a nice one...

Ugh. The best tree is always in the back 40.

Home, for the next few weeks.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Step 1 in making a chinup bar...

Cut down an oak tree.

Between shoveling snow this weekend and setting up a Christmas tree, I made

this. Out of this:

Yes, I could have bought a dowel from the hardware store, but where is the fun in that?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Jemma's dresser: Done!

Saturday, I applied the last coat of shellac, put on the knobs (which Jemma picked-out), figured out how to stop the drawers from accidentally being pulled all the way out and hauled the thing up from the basement. Jemma spent the night at her grandparent's so she didn't see it until this morning. She was out of her mind with excitement!

I didn't get around to taking a picture until right before bedtime, so she had calmed-down quite a bit by then.

Saturday, we finished painting Dahlia's room.

Sunday, we got all the tape off the walls and put her furnature back in place. Now she can sleep in her own room again!

Last, we picked up a fridge...

Sunday, we brought home a small extra fridge. We put it in this afternoon and already the girls have adorned it with every magnet they have. Probably pent-up demand since the stainless steel one upstairs will not attract magnets.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

My Wife Really likes Red Cars

It was pure luck that the (heavily discounted) 2007 show floor model happened to be red. It was bad judgment by the Volvo dealership to not make a reasonable offer on a V50. Had they done this, we would never have even visited the Saab dealership. On another note: It is a little odd that this time, having previously purchased new cars by Toyota, Buick, BMW and GMC--we only considered the two Swedish car makers. Of course those manufacturers are owned by GM and Ford.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Finally after many days of travel and such...

I Get a spot of exercise!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

If you thought the Hummer was big...

Take a look at this.

I went to the International website and these go for between 80 and 120 Thousand. This is not such a bad deal when you consider that a Hummer (the big one)lists at over 50K and is basically an SUV. You can tow heavy construction equipement with one of these rigs and have room for a crew of 5.

Note: In case it seems odd that I didn't really post many pictures of D.C. The reason is that last time I was there, I took all kinds of standard tourist pictures. They are posted in the Jan 2006 archives--so if you want some nice pictures of The National Mall and the White House, go there (the Jan 2006 archives).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

At the PDA/FDA joint conference in DC

Not much to post at this point: I took a few pictures when I got here, mostly of the Lincoln Memorial. It was quite a moving experience, mostly in reading the inscriptions carved into the walls: The Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address

Fellow-Countrymen: AT this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. 1 On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. 2 One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." 3 With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

I don't know the guy in this picture and do have one shot with just the statue, but I like this one because it gives some sense of scale.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Very difficult to not get choked-up reading those lines in that place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jemma goes to kindergarten

For two years she has watched her two sisters get on the bus. On this day she will get on too.

Happy anticipation...

All lined-up...

Getting on...


Recession 2008?

This was the sobering title of an OP/Ed in last weekend's WSJ by John Makin. He starts out:
Over the past half century, every U.S. housing downturn as sharp as the current one has translated into a U.S. recession. U.S. house prices are falling at an annual rate of nearly 4%--an event not seen since the Great Depression--and the downward trend is accelerating.
I am no macroeconomist, but my pet theory for housing prices is that prices are based upon what people can afford per month. I don't think too many people purchase homes with cash, they get a 30 year mortgage. For example: Say a worker can afford $2,000/month on a mortgage. If the interest rate is 5% then he can afford a $372,000 loan, if the interest rate is 10% he can afford only a $228,000 loan. When interest rates are low, people can afford bigger loans and so they bid-up the prices of houses. When the rates are high, fewer can afford houses and sellers must accept lower prices.

The standard view on interest rates is that, once you account for inflation, the rate depends on the demand for money. When an economy is strong there are lots of good opportunities available and the demand for capital is high, which drives up interest rates.

Could a strong economy have in it the seeds of its own downfall? Yes, this is why macro always did make my head spin.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Only one run while in NH

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Running debate

A coworker brought this article in for me today: A running debate Competitors split on headphone ban at road races By Irene Sege, Globe Staff | August 20, 2007

I am certainly sympethetic to the view of people who think that the best running experiance involves awareness of the environment and of your effort. That is fine and on some zen-level, they are probably right. So what? Not everybody is out running to achieve oneness with nature. I run, mostly to allow me to eat a lot without getting fat. This is pretty much the opposite of spiritual.

There used to be practical considerations. When I was a younger, faster runner and the music devices much larger and heavier than the mp3 players we now have, my objection to running with music was that it looked really uncomfortable and not at all worth it. Now that an Apple Shuffle is about the size of a matchbook and holds about 16 hours of music, the practical problems are gone.

The whole controversy is about banning headphones in races. There is a whole liability issue, which in our risk-adverse society, makes it understandible for race organizers to entertain bans. A well-enforced ban might casue fewer runners to enter a race, so organizers will have to take that into consideration too. If I ever run a marathon distance again, I think it would be nice to listen to music--three and one half hours of just pounding the pavement with no entertainment doesn't sound fun to me.

Why would anyone else care? I mean, yeah it is all, "you're missing the whole spiritual side of running dude", but making rules involves telling people what they can't do. Most people are fine with rules when it is all about protecting innocent bystanders but if the only justification is that it ruines the experience, well that is tyranical or at least bossy and not in a good way.

I say, unless there are a few specific instances of accidents in races, traced directly to headphone use--let people do what pleases them.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pooja time

UPDATE: Here are some more pictures of the event--Thanks Nithin!

The airconditioner in that little room (about 150 square ft) is 12,000 BTU and has proven to be a bit oversized. I got a large one because with all those windows, I figured it was better to over size it. In this case it was just right. There were about 20 people at the pooja and it was on an afternoon where the temperature was 90F. I had the unit set to 68F and it ran continuously and never got below 70F.

5 of us, 2 in-laws, brother and wife (2), Uncle and family (4), Aunt and family (4), Guest of Aunt (1), Guest from Brookline (1), Guest of Uncle and family. =20

Her name is Calypso

My Sunday run

I ran for 2 hours and really should have covered more like 15-16 miles in that amount of time. I would have done this too, but around mile 7 or 8 I lost all energy. I took around an hour for the first 8 miles and spent another hour on the final 5.


I ran this again last Saturday and did it in three fewer minutes. If I can cut another 11 minutes off, I will be on the pace I need to do a 3:30 marathon. Assuming, of course, that I could run a 2nd 13.1 miler just as fast as a first one! dbp

Friday, August 03, 2007

Our new dog

Jemma just had to check out the pet carrier we got. The actual dog doesn't come untill Monday--Knock on wood. Update: Looking at the picture, I bet Dahlia could have fit. She wanted to try and crawl-in but I thought she was too big and would get stuck.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I was half-sleeping last night and watching HBO. I was awake for part of a show called Flight of the Conchords and it was great!

Here is a video by the guys from the show.

It is mildly not for kids.

Half-asleep HBO discovery.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Our weekend:

It started on Friday: My wife took all three girls plus a friend of our middle daughter to Ratatouille. At the start of the movie, they ran into a family we are friends with, and would be coming over to our place for an evening cookout.

I haven’t seen the film but I understand there is some point where there is a rally or triumph (of rats) and our youngest daughter whooped-it-up and shook her fist. The theater must have been fairly rife with kids but wife reported that the J. was the only one to give a shout out at that point in the film.

Meanwhile, I had gotten home from work around the time the movie began. I was a little late because a co-worker had come to me with a problem related to the density of steam (given the pressure and temperature). A CRC would have been handy—had one been handy, so I tried to find a table on the web and could not find one. I decided to get at least a ballpark figure by just using the Ideal Gas Equation: PV=NRT. What I got was around 28CubicFeet/Lb. I didn’t like the answer and so resumed the search for a table, which this time I was able to find. The table indicated an answer of around 10CubicFeet/Lb. I knew that water is not very ideal gas-like, so the true volume should have been less than what was calculated by the formula, a three-fold difference was kind of a surprise though.

Wife and children didn’t get home from the movie until around 9:00 and so it wasn’t until around 10:00 that the kids were all washed-up and tucked-in. We could then settle down and have our dinner.


The parents of our daughter’s friend picked the girl up nice and early since they had plans to go to Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend. We went out to a local farm to pick blueberries and look at dogs. They have and breed Shortie Jack Russel Terriers, which are shorter than regular JRTs, but also less hyper. The dogs are really sweet, and it was fun picking blueberries.

The party had us (of course) and two other families, each of which have two children. The seven kids played amongst themselves and really were no problem at all. We cooked on the charcoal grill: A whole chicken, followed by a dozen Italian sausages, then burgers and hotdogs for the kids, then a Korean marinade flank steak and finally sweet corn (in the husks). Yummy! My wife AKA sidedishsally, controlled herself and only made two kinds of salsa (hot and not hot) with tortilla chips, cheese (two kinds) and crackers, classic potato salad, green beans from our garden and fruit salad (which a guest brought). Drinks? Of course: Two kinds of beer, hard cider, and a couple bottles of wine. Later we had coffee with dessert. The kids satisfied their beverage needs with juice bags.

Conversations were wide-ranging and friendly: The two families we invited had not met each other, although the kids largely knew each other from school. So, a lot of the talk was a kind of get-to-know-you type of thing. One of the dads related some show he saw where I guess it was funny that war supporters were not enlisting in the military or something like that. It struck the storyteller as funny, because it showed the war supporters were not sincere & so forth. For myself, I couldn’t follow the logic. I mean, we are all for law and order, education and healthcare, but we can’t all be simultaneously doctors, lawyers, police men, teachers etc. We don’t expect anyone who likes a given service to go into that profession because that would be nuts. How dare you purchase an airline ticket if you are not willing to go to flight school and learn to fly the plane yourself—greedy bastard! On a more serious side: We are committed, for a lot of good reasons, to civilian control of the military. The idea that pro-war people have a special obligation to serve, and anti-military people do not, flies in the face of this ideal. As it is, plenty of people who believe in this war have signed up. Does this make anti-war folks more disposed toward it? Nope.


My wife’s parents came over, along with my mother in law’s cousin (who is much younger than my wife) for Sunday brunch. We had waffles, bacon, sausage and fruit salad outside on the deck. The weather was perfect: Sunny but not hot.

The cousin had to catch a bus back to NYC in the late afternoon, so he, my wife and I picked up S. from her sleepover and all drove to Wellington Station. Wow! There was tons of parking. Yeah, because the station was closed! Ah, there are free shuttle busses to the next stops. We got out at the Community College stop and walked up to Bunker Hill. We walked all over town from Charlestown to Boston Common. Sore calves this morning.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lamb and Fish Grilling Marinade..

This recipe will vary depending on things like whether we have fresh mint or rosemary in the garden etc. but here is the basic formula...

First, squeeze the juice of 1/2 Lime into a small bowl (lemon is okay if you don't have limes)

Next crush a couple of cloves of Garlic with a garlic press into the Lime juice.

Then add a teaspoon of Olive oil, and half a teaspoon of Mustard. The Mustard acts as an emulsifier and keeps the Olive oil and Lime juice from separating. (I use brown mustard, but any kind is okay)

Last, add herbs and spices: Black Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Rosemary, Mint, Basil, Oregano etc.

I don't usually put in all of those spices: I leave out the Red Pepper if there are kids or spice intolerant adults. I normally use Mint or Rosemary, but not usually both etc. And, I like to add salt while grilling rather than in the marinade. When we have fresh Rosemary or Mint, I like to chop it up finely before putting it into the marinade.

The marinade should be pretty thick, I normally spoon it onto the Lamb Chops and then spread it around. You can put the marinade on the meat a day ahead of grilling, but most of the time it is applied no more than 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Added Note: I use almost exactly the same mixture for grilling Salmon (fillets or steaks), just leave out the Mint and Rosemary. You have to grill the fish the same way (not as long though) as the lamb--directly on the grill, over the coals. No wrapping in foil.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A funny video

I originally came across this on Althouse, but then my 10-year-old daughter saw it and loved it. So, she tried to view it from her Mac mini on YouTube and also from Althouse, but it was slow to load and wouldn't play right. Just to let her see it, I tried just posting it to my own blog and now it seems to play fine. dbp

Monday, July 16, 2007

My Sunday Run...

I was hoping this would have ended up being 12.5 miles, but only ended up being 10 and change. It took me 100 minutes and one second.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Running Calorie Counter

Here is a site that has a pretty good Calorie counter.

I like it because it takes into account what you weigh, how fast you go and how long you run.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Flash Animation--not to be missed!

This is really good. I have played it on my PC and on my daughter's Mac, so just about anybody should be able to view it with no troubles. It is a fight between a lootiefull* stick-figure and his creator. It is called Animator vs. Animation II. There is so much going on on the screen that you will have to view it a few times to get all the details. Of course, this is part of a whole genre of stick-figure flash animations... Enjoy, dbp

Lootie is a Konkani* word which means what it sounds like: Full of mischief.

Konkani is the ethnic group centered around Goa, India. And the Konkani word for Konkani (the language) is Amchicala. FWIW.
Animator vs. Animation II by *alanbecker on deviantART

My Sunday 13.5 miler.

The Good news: I haven't run this far since I was 18. The bad news is that it took me 116 minutes (8:35 per mile) That is 35 seconds/mile off of what I need to do in a marathon and this was only a little more than half-marathon length.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Email Dialog Between a Mother and Her Daughter

Dear Mommy,

It's soooo hot out side. I know that if you had to go outside, you wouldn't want to because of the heat. I know that you're trying to be nice when you take us out somewhere, but if you are all mean and crabby while doing it, it's not fun for us. Maybe you should think about that!

- S.

Dear S.,

It is very hot outside and I know I wouldn't like it because I don't like hot weather. But I thought you and D. might enjoy getting outside for a bit since you have been cooped up inside all day. The heat doesn't seem to bother you guys very much.

Good point about me ruining your outing by being crabby - I understand and I am sorry for blowing up at you. I was trying to do something nice for the two of you and I had to give up working out to take you to the library. Remember - I have very little free time and if I use it to do something, that means I can't do something else. I was upset at you because I felt you didn't respect that fact. But mostly I was upset because not only did you fail to pick out a book but you also blamed me for that failure. You had the audacity to accuse me of not giving you enough time (we were there for 45 minutes) and not helping you (I submitted the request for the book you wanted that they didn't have and I told you to look for another book in the chapter book section).

Let us make the most of these outings and let us not be so crabby.

I love you,


Dear Mommy,

Thanks for the compromise. I'll be thankful when you take us out on trips. But you don't act all crabby while doing it. I also understand that you thought that we would like some time outside. Since it was so hot I didn't feel like doing anything outside. So I came in.


Love, S.!

Dear Moonoo,

Thank you too! Here is a Haiku to tell you how I feel about you...

Delicate as flame.

Fierce as fire. Bright as the Sun.

My Surenna glows.

I love you,


Monday, June 25, 2007

My Sunday 9-Miler

This run took me 77 minutes! That is like 8:34/mile and I plan on running a marathon in under 8:00/mile. I don't think so.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Yesterday my older sis sent me a funny ppt. on this odd hairstyle. Now, I don't know anybody personally who sports a mullet, I still have a theory about its appeal:

It has the same shock-value of really big obnoxious tatoos, without all the expense, pain or permanance.

ADDED: For those who haven't seen me in a while...

This is not a picture of me! I am white, skinny and possibly disreputable looking. But this is just a picture I harvested off of the internet tubes. dbp

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Separated At Birth?

Last Saturday on our anniversary weekend in Boston, we got the chance to visit a Thomas Moser showroom. I had gotten ideas and dimensions for the hutch I made from various sources; but mainly from the picture below.

My view upon seeing it in the wood: Theirs features better workmanship than I can do. OTOH, I spent about $1000 on the wood and hardware and theirs is about 15K. So, there is that.

Their rocking chairs are unbelievable and worth every penny of the $1400 or so that they cost. Someday I will have one. That is a life goal.

One thing I did differently from Thomas Moser is that I used a lighter wood for the back. It gives a nice contrast to the cherry in the front and it provides more light so that you can see the items that are in or on the piece.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Off to a good start..

My wife and I are just starting to enjoy our anniversary weekend: This post is being made from the Park Plaza concierge lounge--where they have computers! It is nice. There are snacks, coffee and cold drinks available to us all day. dbp

Added: Later we will go to a fancy steakhouse and then to a play.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Weekend Projects...

A shelf for the recycling bins

And changing a doorknob, puting-up curtain rods, installing shades, repairing an elephant's tusk

...and taking my wife out to see Grindhouse in Davis Square. Actually, that last thing wasn't a chore but rather a guilty pleasure made possible by her parents staying over to watch the kids.



Earth Plants

I kept missing my chance to take a picture when these were in their prime--I would get home late or it would be cloudy. Finaly, I had a nice bright day but it is after two days of heavy rain--so the flowers are kind of beat-up now. So, you have seen these way early and past their prime. Maybe next year I will do better photo-wise. dbp

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Should I or should I not?

I have been considering doing a marathon (again), but...

I don't want to do it unless I can run it in 3:30 or less.

Why this magic number?

That is the time which would qualify me to run in the Boston Marathon. It seems to me that I should be able to (at least) meet the minimum requirments for such a race, to have any business running 26.2 miles. The problem is that I have only raced at the 10K distance the last few years, so how do I estimate what I could do at the much longer distance? (A marathon is more than four times the length of a 10K) Google grants wishes: I found very quickly (first search attempt) a website which has such a calculator.

It converts my lateste 44:41 10K into 3:25:20 for 26.2 miles.

Yay! It looks as if I have a reasonable chance of meeting my goal. Now I just need to pick-out a marathon held in New England this Fall.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day Run

Here is a new run I tried out on Mother's Day.

I wanted a run which was 10 miles long (this is 10.5) and I wanted to stay out of the woods since the trails are still mosh-pits from all the rain.