Wednesday, July 29, 2015

So much for sleeping through the night

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Our kids are getting up earlier and earlier each morning.  If it isn't one, it's the other.  With a single baby, at an appropriate age, you can ignore it so it learns to sooth itself back to sleep.  Unfortunately, with twins (or two siblings sharing a room) it isn't fair to the sleeping child.

Yesterday Natasha got up just before 5* and I got up to get her.  I rocked her for a little bit but that wasn't enough so I made her a bottle.  Unfortunately she was already up for the day and her brother soon followed.

Today I thought I was smarter and went right to the bottle.  It worked and she went back to sleep.  Unfortunately, brother woke up when I wasn't in the room and he woke up up too.  It was a rough morning.

(*) this is working off sleep deprived memories so it could have been a different night and the time might be slightly different. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dream Houses and Sandra Bland

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Emailing like its 1998! I'm hardly ever in front of a keyboard at home and the iPad doesn't lend well to writing long emails.  It's almost like the mid-90s when you had to go into work to check/write emails!

Which doesn't lend well to keeping up with blogging.  I posted a quick copy and paste about Sandra Bland and I wanted to follow up on it a little bit more.

Whenever you get what I call the News Issue of the Week -- be it Confederate Flags, School/movie shootings, Travon Martins, etc -- you usually get two polarized camps that sum up either side.  It's more nuanced than that but for the purposes of where I'm going with this let's say that it usually gets split evenly 50-50 between sides.

This feels different.  It feels more like 70-30 or even 90-10.  From what I'm reading, most people agree that a traffic stop should not have escalated this way or lead to being put in a jail cell and of course ended tragically.

You have some dickheads who chime in that you should never under any circumstances commit Contempt of Cop and if you do, you deserve whatever you get.  But luckily, more and more people seem to be saying: whoa! wait a minute, just because that is how it is, maybe that shouldn't be the way it is.

Maybe we are finally getting tired of being afraid of the people we pay to serve and protect.  That you must always defer meekly to the police.

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We like our house but.... Nightingale asked me yesterday what I envisioned life would be like in this house after we bought it.  I thought about it for a while and then said: "I thought if we had children, your family would visit more often."

I'm not saying that I'm not happy with our Forever Dream House 1.0 but I wouldn't mind if I could get a house with a better layout and a different distribution of space.  I guess what I'm saying is that when we looked for this house, we were going off my Dream House Requirements list that were developed when I was a single person, not thinking about what is needed for a family.

I'd still prefer an old house with character and charm but one with all the necessary modern updates.  Electrical, Central Air and probably zoned heating.

I'd like a separate office.  Yes I did have one until the kids arrived and there is a benefit to having a separate room with a door you can close. 

Our attic is too hot and too short for a grownup to use.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sandra Bland, Black Lives and race relations

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I learned this week that I work with a relative of Sandra Bland.


"Imagine that you're sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don't get any. So you say "I should get my fair share." And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, "everyone should get their fair share." Now, that's a wonderful sentiment -- indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad's smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn't solve the problem that you still haven't gotten any!

The problem is that the statement "I should get my fair share" had an implicit "too" at the end: "I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else." But your dad's response treated your statement as though you meant "only I should get my fair share", which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that "everyone should get their fair share," while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.

That's the situation of the "black lives matter" movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn't work the way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn't want footage of a black or Latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That's not made up out of whole cloth -- there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it's generally not considered "news", while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate -- young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don't treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don't pay as much attention to certain people's deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don't treat all lives as though they matter equally.

Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase "black lives matter" also has an implicit "too" at the end: it's saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying "all lives matter" is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It's a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means "only black lives matter," when that is obviously not the case. And so saying "all lives matter" as a direct response to "black lives matter" is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem."   -- Source (link may no longer work)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sleep and bonus deferrals

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Portage Park multiyard sale
In some vampire shows -- Vampire Diaries comes to mind -- they show one of the characters breaking their humanity vow and going on a killing spree because their thirst for blood is insatiable.  That is how my thirst for sleep is right now.

On a good night, we do get 6 to 7 hours of sleep.  It might not be consecutive since there may be a quick wake up to soothe a baby, or our body my betray us and invite the Insomnia Gnome into our bed.  But the kids are doing their part by going to be around 7 and not getting up until 5, give or take a half hour.

On a rare occasion,  I do manage to sneak in a daytime nap.  Whether it is 30 minutes or 2 hours the end result is the same:  I wake up feeling as if I just put my head down a minute ago and my body screams for more sleep

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Somewhere my financial Advisor is laughing his ass off:  In anticipation of Things to Come I changed my tax withholding and adjusted my 401K contributions for this month.  Our bonus check was coming and in the past I always put 25% in my 401K, but didn't want to do that this time.  On July 4th I logged in and changed it to zero, or at least I thought I had.  It turns out the change didn't commit.

It could be because I didn't realize that it didn't save because when you change your contribution rate, you have to check the yes/no box about resetting your catchup contributions or something like that.  It could also be that I got distracted by Moose and Squirrel or a half dozen other things but I'm gonna take the blame for this one.

Could that money do better for me over the years in a retirement account?  Absolutely.  I crunched the numbers and it comes down to an additional $200 in taxes but $500 in my pocket now that I can use to pay some of these bills that are piling up.

I've contacted the retirement fund but I'm guessing that because it is a such a huge hassle to reverse this, there isn't even a mechanism to do it even if they agree that my login records show that I at least tried to make this change.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Kids, Cats and Gutter cleaning

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This weekend, like many weekends, we didn't get nearly as much accomplished as we would have liked.  The major difference was this was more or less on purpose. Saturday morning came, it was a beautiful day and we didn't do much except veg -- at least as much as two adults could veg when you have two 9 month old energizer bunny rabbits crawling around your floors.  We even had my mother over most of the day Saturday.

Squandering the weekend
So while we did squandered an opportunity to get some yard work done and make meals for the week and barely got the necessary grocery shopping in, I'd like to think that this All-Stop that our bodies made us do was a necessary re-charge for what is to come.  It's going to be a busy rest of summer and there are some things coming up down the road that I cannot talk about now but am secretly writing up and will publish once I can.

Our cat Austin is not in the best of health.  The guy is 15 years old and finally showing it.  For the last year or so, he's been peeing outside of his litter box and more recently crapping in and out of it as well.  Now he is limping and not eating.  I fear his days are numbered if we don't invest the money to keep him on kitty life support.

A few weeks ago I hired a crew to do some work around the house.  Specifically, power wash the house, back deck, driveway and garage.  I also wanted to get my windows washed including the tracks.  And I needed my gutters cleaned.   I wanted one crew/vendor to handle all of this even though I knew it would be a big expense. 

I called VENDOR they gave me what sounded like a fantastic price quote and I scheduled the service and then scheduled my plans around that appointment.  Unfortunately it didn't quite work out the way I had hoped.

First, the work crew showed up 3 hours early!  This is not good.  I was at a doctors appointment that I specifically scheduled based on the start time of crew.  Nightingale had to wait until I got home before she could drop our kids off at daycare -- this is a major inconvenience because she had things she needed to do.

Next, the crew didn't know about the gutters or the garage.  I called to ask and whomever answered the phone (the owner I believe) said they would contact the guy in charge of the crew and circle back.  They never called back until I wrote an unfavorable review on Yelp.  I asked the crew leader to do my gutters and I'd even pay his quoted $180 for that, but he didn't have the right sized ladder.  He promised to come back the following week, but didn't.  He also told me that he would have charged me a lot less for the power washing & window cleaning.
This is just one of many examples of me paying someone to do something I ask and yet still not getting exactly what I paid for.  BTW: the crew did come back and clean the gutters on the house -- a day later than the owner said they would and naturally I was not home to supervise.  The crew lead called me and asked what he was supposed to do.  I told him clean gutters and power wash the garage.  He repeated "Power Wash the Garage" like I had instead said "Give me your sister's kidney" so I said "just handle the gutters" and called it a day.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Days like these

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I should write more posts about raising twins and where we are on that train ride so that I can look back and say "oh remember what life was like with 9 month old" or "remember when Natasha wouldn't let anyone hold her but me and mommy."

Montrose Beach July 5, 2015

My mom has been a big help in many ways, the simplest being an extra set of hands to hold a child so either Nightingale or myself can get something done.  She also does a lot of stuff when we are away at work, like empty the dish washer, fold our laundry, and get the kids cribs back in shape for the next round of toddler wrangling.  and she was even here last weekend so we got some yard work done!

There are some challenges though that do drive me crazy.  For instance, if my mom had her way, she would bundle our kids, especially Boris, in sweaters.  EVERY DAY.  Even when the day's forecast is going to be 80 or higher, a slight morning breeze or chill in the air makes her exclaim "it's cold".

Yes, at 6am it probably is a little cooler but it's still 50 degrees, not 5. It's less than 100 yards from our backdoor to the garage, so even if it's chilly, it won't kill the kids to be in the "elements" for the 60 seconds it takes to get from our back door to the garage and place them in car. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

That time I took dance lessons

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About a decade ago, as part of a New Year’s Resolution, I decided to take professional dance lessons. While the euphoria of the New Year was still in the air, I mentioned the idea to several friends and they all jumped on the dance bandwagon. Of course they immediately all disappeared our schedules didn't mesh well enough to take classes together. I decided to take a class anyway, thinking it might be better to do this without knowing anyone in the class.

I found a Studio near my home and a beginner's group class that fit right into my schedule.  Here's the write up of that experience on my commercial blog. Like a lot of my posts on the commercial blog, I  left out some stuff.  Enjoy:



Some personalities have already developed. There's Stripped Shirt Steve. S3 is this older guy -- white hair, I'd guess in his late 40s early 50s. He is with Patty who is quite striking, probably in her early 40s. Our first time dancing together, she managed to let me know she's divorced. [Remember, we are together for less than 60 seconds.]

Last week S3 kept a low profile but last night he decided to be "boyish" by making mock strangling actions behind Christa's back. I guess he didn't realize that she could see what he is doing in the mirror. He would also wander over to the girls side to be with Patty. So when Christa has us line up, there's more delay thanks to S3.

Now I'll make fun of myself. When Christa was demonstrating a turn move, I couldn't see her footwork because these guys in the front row were blocking everyone in the back. She noticed this and had me get up there and dance with her during the next demo. You might think anyone who was in that class should have seen that I can't dance, but it had the opposite effect. People then thought "well the instructor picked him, he must be good" and the next line up, two ladies actually "fought" over getting to dance with me.