Capitalist Experiment

This summer, we were faced for the first time with more kids capable of mowing the lawn than we have lawns to mow. Last year, with Teleri and Aerin mowing the lawn, it was pretty easy to simply have them work out who wanted the front yard and who wanted the back. They had distinct preferences so things were pretty smooth. This year, we needed to add Rhys to the mix.

Facing this organizational headache, and the prospects of argument and recriminations, I was struck by inspiration (which is not, as Melissa claims, best described as “an episode”). How about establishing parameters that allow them to work it out themselves? So that's what I did and since it has worked out pretty well all summer, I share the results with you now.

Capitalist Experiment
Dad's Capitalist Lawn-mowing Experiment (with Communist Back-stop) click the picture for a full-size image.

The communist back-stop was needed because the kids aren't motivated that much by monetary concern. Doing work for free when they could get $5 for it, on the other hand...

I did find that it wouldn't work properly until I created a bid-sheet that they could use easily. For your edification, and in case you want to try something similar yourself, I provide it here for your very own use and adaptation.

I've just done an informal poll and the kids all seem to think that it has worked out well this summer (informal in that it wasn't anonymous or anything—just me asking them how they thought that it went). At least, they does an abortion hurt like it better than having me decide, or even mediate, who gets stuck mowing the lawn.

We had one or two times where I got multiple bids for a weekend, but for the most part they colluded to determine who would submit the winning (i.e. only) bid. I even had Aerin push for a larger budget one weekend after the lawn had been neglected the previous week with the added justification that I knew she would do a good job on it—do I even have to tell you how I responded to that one? (with pride I wouldn't dream of displaying except in acceding to the request, of course!)

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4. October 2008 14:47 by admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

Rogue Impressions

Rogue Impressions

Melissa has been grooving on the jewelry thing for a couple of years now. It’s an activity she enjoys, both the design/layout/planning and the actual act of putting it all together. Which is a good thing, even though it removes an entire category of things I can safely buy for her.

Well, she now has more than any single non-rap “singer” can reasonably wear in a lifetime so instead of despair and waste, she has begun offering her skill to the masses. Or to discerning individuals at any rate. You can view her after morning pill shop at Etsy, Rogue Impressions, if you want to see what she has made available.

riJadis My personal favorite are the crystal-form d8 sets. I don’t see the earrings listed, but she’s done those as well. She has a whole section dedicated to her designs using gaming dice—each named after a character from our roleplaying games (uh, I hope that wasn’t a secret. I guess I’ll find out...)

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31. July 2008 20:36 by admin | Comments (4) | Permalink

Camping

I gripe about it enough that most people know that Melissa and I are not fans of camping. Unfortunately, we are a small minority with our family and friends so we end up doing our share of it. This year, we’ve managed to keep our camping commitments to a single outing to Cherry Campground near Springville, UT.

I brought a camera. As has happened in prior posts, I choose to share. This time, I’m using a photo sharing site so that you can click the images and choose how big you want to see the photos. Not many photo hosting sites would actually give me access after the fact abortion shot to my originals, but Ovi turned out to have the right mix of utility and price (uh, free).

You can check out the whole channel if you’ve a mind (if you’re a member, let me know and I’ll add you as a "participant" to the channel so you can post comments, your own tags, view the original high-def images, and even upload your own photos to the channel). Below is the embedded slide show version of that channel (click on a picture to view it in full).

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21. July 2008 13:13 by admin | Comments (3) | Permalink

The Outdoorsman

We had a family dinner/weblos activity tonight. Since I had my new toy, I thought I'd share the results. The kids generic abortion pill were completing their Outdoorsman Badge or something and that involved putting a pack together and putting up a tent and cooking an outdoor meal. I arrived late, so all I really have is the tent stuff.

Starting Out
Starting Out

Spreading the Tent
Spreading Out

 Leaving them to it
Leaving them to it (this is not me)

 Staking the Tent
Staking

 Threading Poles
Threading the Poles

 What Next
Consulting the Expert

 Inspecting our Progress
Progress Inspection

 Setting the Awning
Setting the Awning

 Enjoying the Results
Enjoying the Results

Packing it in
Packing back Home
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14. July 2008 13:27 by admin | Comments (2) | Permalink

Me Meme

My mom wrote me an email recently saying that she missed reading my blog. Things have been sparse here lately, so I think I'll crib one of those TMI memes from a friend of mine.

In five words, explain what ended your last friendship?

Not on last one yet.

How was your prom night?

It was good. I went with a girl I haven't heard from since graduation. It was a “friends solve mutual problem” situation.

Do you have any famous relatives?

Not really. Had one fall off the Mayflower, but that's more of an ancestor than a risk of abortion pill relative.

Have you taken out loans to pay for college?

Yes.

What did you receive last in the mail?

A bill of some kind.

What beverages have you drank today?

Water. And a swallow of milk this morning.

Do you leave nasty messages on people's answering machines?

Never.

What's the most painful surgical procedure you've had done?

I can't remember ever having actual surgery. The stitches in my lip kinda hurt, but my memory of it is weak. When I was a baby, I had Pyloric Stenosis, but I don't remember the surgery to correct that at all.

What is out your back door?

A deck and an awning.backDoor

Also some kids.

Do you usually go out on the weekends?

Most Saturday nights will find me playing D&D with friends.

Do you like what the ocean does to your hair?

No. I kind of hate it, actually. Fortunately, when you're hanging out at the beach, who cares what your hair is doing?

Have you ever visited a planetarium or do you even know what one is?

How do you not know what a planetarium is? I went to Hansen Planetarium when I was a kid (when did it become Clark Planetarium? Clark, you do something last time you were up here?)

What is your favorite flavor of pudding?

Tapioca. Seriously.

Describe your keychains:

There are two rings, a lot of keys, and an LED flashlight that looks like a USB drive.keys

Where do you keep your change?

In Melissa's purse.

When was the last time you got up and spoke in front of a large crowd?

Four months ago in Church.

What kind of winter coat do you have?

A big fluffy one with a lining I can remove.winterCoat

What was the weather like on your graduation day?

I don't remember. Since it was May in Phoenix, it's safe to assume it was sunny.

Do you sleep with the door to your bedroom open or closed?

Yes.

Is there anything purple within 20 feet of you?

Yes. My daughter's pencil case.pencilCase

What is the strangest thing you've put in the microwave?

Uh. Cheese on a plate?

Can you speak any Japanese?

No.

Do you look good in the color yellow?

Surprisingly, no.

Do you spit or smoke?

Ew. And no.

What is your favorite color(s)?

Forest green.

Ever played an instrument?

Four years of piano lessons, a year of guitar, and a year of drums (in a band, not the cool kind). All when I was a kid. A better question would be if I've ever played an instrument well. That answer would be no.

Do you believe in Bigfoot, or Sasquatch?

No. I wasn't aware that Bigfoot had founded a faith. I'll ask him about it next time we talk.

Ever been to a palm reader?

Not formally, no.

Did they tell you the truth about your future?

Of course not.

What are you thinking about at this very moment?

People will believe any stupid thing.

Have you ever received a black eye?

No.

What is your biggest current disappointment?

My children. I kid! I kid! My biggest disappointment is more private than I'm going to share in a blog post.

What are some of your favorite drinks?

I like water. And Dr. Pepper. And milk. Not all at once.

Do you have anything that hurts on your body at this time?

Not really. My conscience a little over the children quip.

Have you ever ridden in a taxi?

Yes. Once in Las Vegas. A couple of times in both Italy and Germany.

What is the last alcoholic drink you had?

None. I've never actually drank alcohol. I've had rum candies and there was a nasty vodka-based glaze on some ice-cream I had once, but that doesn't actually constitute drinking.

Did you do anything special last night?

We finished the first season of Angel with my oldest girls. Also, my Dark Templar made it off Tortage.

What is your very favorite food?

Good question. I'm not sure I have a favorite. Domino's thin-crust pizza, maybe.

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11. July 2008 20:43 by admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

Book Geek

BookSearch I always perk up when I see a list of books. A friend recently posted an interesting blog entry with a list of books with the challenge to highlight those she had read. I was all set to follow her example when the question occurred to me: “who the heck made this list?”

What followed was an interesting diversion in random weirdness. It started when I tracked down the original claim made by someone named Jill that “The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.”

This piqued my curiosity further, prompting all kinds of new questions. Like “What’s the Big Read?” and “What criteria for selection were used for their list?” and “How do they know that on average people have read 6 of their 100 books?”

Well, the eventual answers have proven interesting enough to make the rest of this blog post (though I do mark those I’ve read in the end).

What’s the Big Read?

The difficulty started at once because it turns out that while there really is an organization called The Big Read and it really is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, they unfortunately don’t actually have a list of 100 books. They have a list of books they recommend, but there’s only 16 of them with another 6 “coming soon” (though I can’t imagine what is holding them up since all of them are already in print—some of them for over a hundred years). That’s some 78 shy of the list of 100 books being put forth as admirable.

Undaunted, I searched some more. Eventually, I found a five-year-old initiative by the BBC that is also called “the Big Read”. Plus bonus: they have a list of 100 books. Even better, the list of books starts off roughly similar. The list was voted on by folks in the U.K. which turns out to be significant. Still, the list simply doesn’t match and the BBC seems to have abandoned the Big Read after the single go ‘round, so it is unlikely that I’m looking at a yearly variation that later (or earlier) produced the precise list in question.

What Criteria Were Used to Select the List?

Well, at this point I abandoned the Big Read as a likely red herring and went for list composition. The ordering of the list is specific and that should be something I can search against, right? After all, how many lists start off with Pride and Prejudice, right?

Well, more than you’d think.

However, this line of enquiry eventually turned up an article in the Guardian from March of last year. The article mentions a number of books and gives their ranking. Better still, the numbers and titles all match “my” list. Best of all, the Guardian tells us where they got the list right in the subtitle of the article, “World Book Day poll places enduring quality of classics ahead of recent triumphs”.

Awesome!

So the list was put together by a bunch of stuffy Brits*. Unfortunately, World Book Day, while they have a spiffy website, doesn’t actually provide handy things like the results of their polls anywhere I could find (let alone anything so prosaic as how their list was gathered). The Guardian had another article that included the complete list so at least I was able to verify that they are the same. That’s something, right?

Still, I hate it when people/organizations don’t keep copies of things they’ve released to the public around. Have they no pride? No self-respect? And what about methodology? The best indication about their methodology that I could find is again from The Guardian. They include this little snippet in the original article “[the poll asked people] the most precious book they have read”. There’s no indication for how the people were selected or sampled, but I guess I’ll take what I could get.

On Average 6 out of 100?

Which leaves us completely in the dark for the claim that the average person has read 6 of these 100. Frankly, I can’t fathom where that claim comes from. It looks completely made up to me. I suspect that it comes from the common statistic that the average person reads six books in a year. (Being the suspicious sort, I looked that up, too, and it turns out to be true according to the NEA’s “Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America” from 2004 (page 17 of the PDF document, page 4 of the report). I don’t know if that’s actually where this spurious-seeming number comes from, though.

My List

All that aside, I still like the challenge so here’s my rendition of the list. Books I’ve read are highlighted.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (well... most of them...)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie for abortion and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So there you go. 47 of 100, though I have to admit that a good many of those came as assigned reading while obtaining my sometimes-useful education. I might also mention that if I had actually done all the reading I was assigned, I could have highlighted an additional half-dozen. And hey, if you counted posh movie versions I’d chock up another one or two here and there...

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26. June 2008 07:07 by admin | Comments (9) | Permalink

Tagged!

Well, Jannalee tagged me so I’ll respond, safe abortion pill I guess. Um. Am I a procrastinator? Lessee, I meant to respond when I first read her post and that was very nearly a month ago. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that I qualify. What do I win?

I’m not a fan of these meme things as a general rule, so I’ll refrain from tagging others. Unless someone wants to be tagged...

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5. May 2008 03:59 by admin | Comments (3) | Permalink

Being Dad

Dad Scolding One of the joys of parenting is having the opportunity to mess with your children. I always wanted to be like Calvin’s dad (from Calvin & Hobbes) when my children were young, for example. It’s no wonder Calvin has such a unique perspective on reality when his dad explains that the sun is really only the size of a quarter and that we know how much weight bridges can take by driving progressively heavier trucks over them until they fall down.

But that only lasts while they’re still gullible young.

Entertaining Young Persons

I’m discovering a new, related, joy as my kids enter adolescence. I might, if I were pretentious, call my new hobby "forming their taste", but I’d just as soon have the word with the bark on (as Georgette Heyer’s characters would put it) and call it what it is: indoctrination. I have the opportunity, as they begin exploring the worlds of art and entertainment, of expounding at length on those things I consider interesting or of value. The result is gratifying and evident in such things as Teleri’s latest school paper (a research paper this time, so I put it up in its own file).

I half expect to be brought up on charges of child abuse for things like celebrating Pratchett’s birthday yesterday with all the kids. Even so, I can’t express how fun it is to see Teleri devouring his latest, even if that means she becomes competition for the family copy (hey, being able to take her in a fair fight has to be useful sometimes, right?).

Family Entertainment

Our newest tradition, for which I fully expect to spend time in the hell of syrup and fire-ants, has been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the older kids. We haven’t set an age on the tradition, or anything. When we think they’re mature enough to be capable of rational discussions of sex and violence and moral agency, we watch our DVDs with them. We have a similar (sometimes concurrent) tradition with Firefly.

This is certainly a controversial tradition. I mean, both shows have sex and violence and many lifestyle choices we are officially against. The thing is, on a deeper level, I think that both shows are also deeply moral. They explore things like family, the nature of evil, and doing what you believe is right even when doing so is likely to be both hard and painful.

Which isn’t to say that we hand them the DVDs with a jaunty "Knock yourselves cost of abortion out." and hope for the best. We watch them together and discuss things we think are important or interesting. This probably robs some of the fun out of it for the kids, but hey, we are still parents and we have a natural right, obligation even, to be pedantic whenever fun threatens to obscure important life-lessons.

And heaven knows that Joss Whedon didn’t flinch from difficult moral choices, so our discussions are wide-ranging. It isn’t likely that any of us will face the particular choice between sending a loved one to hell and saving the world, but there are plenty of relevant topics there (starting with "love isn’t always enough" and "deus non machina"). I guess what I’m saying is that we palliate our consciences by pointing out the obvious. Hey, they’re kids. They might not connect all the right dots; my favorite of which remains "if you have sex before you are married, your boyfriend will turn into a monster."

29. April 2008 20:17 by admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

Greener Pastures

Okay, that was way too easy. If you were quick enough to catch the small warning post I put up before the change you can rest easy, uncross the fingers, and put the chicken down. It looks like we migrated seemlessly.

And in case you're wondering what happened, I'll explain a bit. My previous web host had an outage last week. They were pretty uncommunicative during the outage, referring all trouble tickets to a forum post that was a one-sentence "we're working on it" kind of post. After more than 24 hours, they finally updated that with "it should be fixed now". Which would have been good if it had been true of my account. Worse, my new trouble tickets were referred back to the same forum post that claimed everything was all right now.

You can guess how well that all sat with me. While they eventually got things working, the amount of time and complete lack of explanation left me feeling somewhat raw. In short, I went looking for a new hosting provider. It didn't take that long to find one that was about the same price range with the same features. As a pro abortion facts bonus, it looks like some collegues are here as well.

I'm not sure if webhost4life is any better or not, but so far things seem to be working okay. Time will tell I guess. By all means, if something botches up, please let me know.

18. April 2008 17:31 by admin | Comments (0) | Permalink

A Neutral Good Human Wizard

Yet another goofy quiz. This one was longer than most, but then, it had more to do.

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-12
Dexterity-16
Constitution-12
Intelligence-16
Wisdom-15
Charisma-16

Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard’s strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

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16. March 2008 02:49 by admin | Comments (3) | Permalink

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