Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekend with emilie

Emilie was kind enough to come up and stay with Jenny while I drive 11 hours to and from Baltimore tomorrow; *unlikely* that she's going to give birth right now, but she'd rather not take the chance :-).

So we went on a gentle hike to Thacher Park, bought more apple cider doughnuts (there was almost a 2-hour line behind us when we bought ours - amazing!), and went to Aidan's school picnic. A very good weekend, even if I am now at work prepping for Tuesday's class!

[Oh, and some random guy was practicing bagpipes in the parking lot of our builder when we went to sign papers. Albany has a very strong Scot-Irish presence..]

House update 2

...and this is the second set, fully up-to-date. Some of the pics we took are intended to give us at least some idea of where wiring is, should we ever need to go back in to the walls :-).

I am finding it amazing how much my perception of the house changes at the various stages; the drywall especially is really altering how I see room sizes. Which is fun but scary: worry about whether we're going to aim up where we were aiming! I'm sure that it will be fine, and Jenny has been through this before!

We have a basement floor now, and it begins to feel like a house. Good!

house update 1

A couple of recent visits to the house; things are really moving along, we think. Brick is complete, the insulation looks pretty complete and drywall is going up - that should be finished this coming week, and is the trigger for a bunch of activity (kitchen is ordered, ditto lighting, ditto appliances, and we're looking at paint and so on). Still behind schedule, but with *luck* we're still aiming to be in for Thanksgiving... I want to use my fancy new ovens to cook the traditional repast!

Anyway: a bunch of pictures. This is the first set, with brick half-done and walls still able to be walked through...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tax plans

One of the biggest lies being told in the current US political campaign - at least that I've heard - is the McCain campaign attempting to assert that Obama would raise taxes and they would not; usually this is phrased as 'raising taxes on the middle class' which is where most people see themselves.

The graphic below is the most accurate representation I've seen of the *actual* impact of the stated tax plans for the two contenders (McCain and Obama). Net: if this is the basis on which you wish to vote, than unless you make more than $160K/year - and even if you do, assuming that you care about any form of social justice or income redistribution - you should be giving Obama your vote.

Yes, those making more than $600K/year should vote McCain. I expect that this is a group that Obama is willing to lose the votes of (even if not their contributions - which in and of itself might be a point to consider: who's catering to the big donors?).

Hat-tip to ChartJunk for the work in putting this together; thanks.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More US Politics... sorry!

A revealing graphic from the Washington Monthly, putting into graphic form the (trustworthy) Tax Policy Center (sic) report on the likely impact of candidates' proposed tax policy.

So how can it be that some non-rich folk still believe that they are better economically served by a Republican administration? Beats me. Back-of-the-envelope math suggests (if my numbers are close) that the McNay family share of the US debt has gone up by roughly $60K [if we count 'bleep' as a 4th member - it's ~$15K per head] during the Bush tenure. We're far from being at the median national income, and we're way, way worse off - how $%^#ing screwed have the working class been??

[Oh, but I forgot. McCain thinks that an income of $5 million a year is needed to count as rich. I guess under that metric some non-rich folks *are*, possibly, better off these days...]

Friday, September 12, 2008

The internet's 524,985,126th Sarah Palin post

Marbury is a British commentator on (primarily US) politics; I generally find the content sensible.

His take on last night's Sarah Palin interview is the same a mine: this - which, ye gods, she had to *know* was her one chance to appear credible? - just confirmed that she is way out of her depth as Alaska's governor, never mind as a VP for a near-dead President.

And yet... this election appears to be closer than I could have imagined possible. Argh!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Summer UK visit

This was back in May, at the end of a family trip the pics from which I need to post. But I was looking for a family pic for Aidan at school, and this jumped out: from the left, that's Aidan's great-grandma Ed, me, Aidan, and his great-aunt Val (my mother's sister, Ed's younger daughter). Cute pic.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Not quite Cthulhu.

[You've seen the bumper stickers, yes? "Cthulhu in '08. Because why vote for the lesser of two evils?"]

Still, as presidential candidates go... well, speaks for itself, really.

First day of school

OK, one more (hurried!) post. Last Wednesday was Aidan's first day of 'real' school, in first grade. He's been looking forward to this excitedly for a *long* time now, and I'm happy to say that he seems to be enjoying it and happy; even the bus-riding after school, which was stressing him, has not been an issue.

We have yet to meet his teacher - although we have an appointment set up to do so - and have some lingering worries about whether they - or anyone! - can keep Aidan from being unstretched and a bit bored, but we do hear good things about Mr. Rawitsch (who, to my great relief, does not insist as Aidan's kindergarten teacher did on being addressed thusly by parents as well as children!) so so far, so good.

Anyway: just seemed like a milestone that grandparents might like to see the pictures of. So here they are :-).

Hey! We have titles!

No, this is not *really* a post about the existence of titles; but it *is* a further step in maybe, perhaps, understanding what I am doing here.

This post is really about this past weekend - which means that I am giving up on trying to catch up in chronological order on nascent posts from the summer, but they will/should/might appear in a random order...

...highlights of the weekend:
* raspberry picking at Indian Ladder Farms, a very close and great PYO place; the raspberries were indeed great, but they also had several serendipitous elements, including apple cider doughnuts (oh, yum!), the delicious chocolates of local maker Chocolate Gecko (complete with free samples) and hayrides (although we didn't have time for the last).
* grilling at Vaishali (my new postdoc) and Avin's place - thanks, guys! - where Aidan insisted on playing his new game LandLock as well as TransAmerica
* picnic with psych faculty and grad students
* catching up on sleep. Go sleep! :-)

OK. Now I have to go actually work. More later. Maybe.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Mostly for grandparents :-). Bleep is at 33 weeks now; all systems go (and almost 5 lbs, apparently). Photos from yesterday's visit: yeah, looks like a baby, huh?

I will refrain from putting into print my own immediate comment on these images ;)
I have to start getting my news from The Daily Show.

Seriously. Take this as just one example of some of the most pointed analysis seen anywhere on mass media:

Kudos, Jon Stewart..

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

It will be obvious that I'm new to blogging; and also - gee, surprise! - short on time to make substantive posts. There are a bunch in my head, most regarding new faculty concerns and academia in general, but also regarding impending baby, amusing cats, and joyful five year-old. I'll try to catch up! But right now it's 1 a.m. and I'm prepping tomorrow's lecture...
Incidentally (sorry, this is just a p.s.): if *I* were a Republican delegate - yeah, now *there's* an alternate universe! - I would right now be working out how I could in fact _not confirm_ that Palin nomination.
Shark? Jumped.

At least, I have to believe so: that is, that with the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP ticket-mate, the election just ended and Obama (along with Joe Biden, from whom I am only two steps* in Bacon terms, likely the closest I am going to get to a US presidential candidate!) won. I just don't see ANY way for the electorate not to see this as a cynical, frankly desparate, poorly thought-out, hasty and potentially dangerous (for the country) gamble. A religious fanatic, clueless (she believes, for example, that the pledge of allegiance written in 1906 was 'good enough for the founding fathers' - there are many other such direct quotes already), already in the midst of scandal, lacking in any apparent qualification... well, wow.

Now, I have to admit that one of the enjoyable things about this whole election has been that there have been *lots* of folks on the Democrat side with whom I would have been
at least reasonably pleased as President - or VP - but not a single one from the Republicans. So McCain didn't exactly have a stellar draft pool. But even the process appears to have been botched: a single meeting between McCain and Palin? No background vetting? Markedly annoying other leading party figures? Wow.

I hope I'm right...

[*He's from Delaware. Jenny's family is from Delaware. It's not a big place :-)]