Friday, July 29, 2011

Punk Rock Friday - $wingin' utter$ - I Got Your Number

In what I view as an homage of bad band names, the ever lasting, poets of punk, The $wingin' Utter$ are covering I Got You Number by the classic British band, Cock Sparrer.  The Utter$ were one of the first punk albums I bought way back in '96 or so.  I have always loved there music and lyrics.  The lyrics tend to be both extremely straightforward but also very poetic - not just your archetypal typical punk rock tunes.  At least to me anyway.  But this is a cover... so what I am talking about lyrics for?

I chose this song today to reflect my thoughts on the current state of American politics.  Assholes in Washington playing with real peoples futures so they can toe the party line.  On both sides of the aisle.  Typical millionaires having no idea what is going on with real people.  If all the annual percentage rates on my loans and credit cards go up, I really don't know what I will have to do... kind of scary.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ant induced rage and potty training disaster

Ant Party
Your party ends now you bastards!  Photo credit: flickr user tarotastic

I have a new goal in life - the utter obliteration of all ants!  I declare war on you bastards and I will have my revenge!  I swear it on all things I hold holy (punk rock, German beer, Irish whiskey, Lagrangian mechanics, Feynman diagrams and the Badger State)... there will be a reckoning.

So, as you may have figured out, we have an ant problem at my house.  I believe we have what is known as a super colony living under our house.  From April until October I battle the bastards.  I am like the Father from A Christmas Story - I am one of the most feared ant fighters in southern Virginia and in the heat of battle I have woven more than one tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan (or the Atlantic...).

His nemesis: furnace.  My nemesis: Ants!
Let me start at the beginning.  So after a great day at work, I pick up the Berserker brood from daycare.  Everyone had a great day at school and they were both in good moods.  I walk into the house and begin making dinner.  The toaster oven trips the circuit breaker and I notice and MASSIVE infestation of ants crawling out of my pantry.  I hustle the kids out of the kitchen, restart the toaster oven, and begin my extermination campaign.  I realize they are everywhere!  I am so annoyed.  The whole time Little Berserker Spawn is sitting right on the edge of the kitchen whining for a toy car that is in there.  I try to ignore him.

But I get to work, cleaning and killing.  I feel no pity for them.  I squish them.  I spray them with cleaner.  It is about 80 degrees in the house, because I turn off the A/C while we are at work, so I am sweating my ass off.  LBS is still whining for his toy - I tell him [well growl is probably closer to the truth] to find a different car - you have 80 of them - and go play for 5 minutes.  Then I check the toast - I burned it... RAWR!  So annoyed.  I put some new bread in and start it.

I then decide to check on the kids... Oh.My.God...  I find Sweet Little Hellion in the living room sitting on the potty - no pullup on.  OK.  That seems ok - odd, since she hasn't used the little potty in a month - but fine.  She pops up off the potty saying "I did it!"  I clap. [wait for the cosmic bitch-slap back]  She turns around, and she has diarrhea all down her backside...
Potty training kids, just got easier?
Oh yeah, potty training is all stickers, smiles, bunnies and bears.  Photo credit: flicker user byte
I scream, "WHERE IS YOUR PULLUP??????"

She points at the couch.  I see a diarrhea laden pullup sitting on our cream couch. [I know... brilliant.  We bought it before we were even married... idiot no kids couple we were.]  LBS, the whole time is saying "Good job SLH, good job" and "She had to poop Dad" over and over.  I yell at him to go in the man cave and leave me alone for a bit.  [aren't I nice... UGH... really great parent sometimes... poor little guy - I made it up to him later and apologized...]

So, then I realize the SLH has poop all over her shorts.  So, she must have pulled the diarrhea pullup off, placed it on the couch, then waddled with her shorts around her ankles across the room to sit on the potty... GREAT... naked diarrhea butt hanging out walking over the living room carpet... JUST GREAT!

So I clean her up and get a pullup on her.  I check the toast... BURNT AGAIN!  At this point my head is really about to explode.  So, before I unleash my berserker rage, I decide to let the kids play in the living room (I checked the floor - no obvious poop trail... luckily) while I change out of my work clothes into shorts and a tshirt.

I come down stairs and, luckily, Beautiful Wife has arrived home.  She looks at me and I say "I need you take over with the kids."  She takes the kids upstairs away from me. I make peanut butter sandwiches for dinner with oranges and peas [I sure know how to pair food, don't I?].  Then I finish murdering the ants, cleaning, sanitizing and chemically defending my home.  After which, I drank a beer in silence in the kitchen by myself.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Haiku Monday - Finally

Months of 12 hour days
Struggle, toil, fail again
Success is so sweet

Friday, July 22, 2011

Punk Rock Friday - Seneca Falls - The Distillers

Today's Punk Rock Friday features Seneca Falls by The Distillers.

For those who are not familiar (I was not until I heard this song and wondered), Seneca Falls is a reference to what is known as the Seneca Falls Convention.  It was an very early women's right convention held in Seneca Falls, New York way back in 1848.  Over 70 years before passage of the 19th amendment in the US allowing women the right to vote (known as women's sufferage).  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pluto's New Moon

Researchers using the Hubble telescope have discovered a previously unknown moon of Pluto.  The new mini-satellite has an estimated diameter of 13-34 km (8-21 miles), which is truly very small.  By contrast, Earth's moon has a diameter of approximately 3500 km. The new moon is being initially called P4.

From the NASA science news article:
The dwarf planet’s entire moon system is believed to have formed by a collision between Pluto and another planet-sized body early in the history of the solar system. The smashup flung material that coalesced into the family of satellites observed around Pluto. 
"This surprising observation is a powerful reminder of Hubble's ability as a general purpose astronomical observatory to make astounding, unintended discoveries," said Jon Morse, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

P4 was first seen in a photo taken with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on June 28. It was confirmed in subsequent Hubble pictures taken on July 3 and July 18. The moon was not seen in earlier Hubble images because the exposure times were shorter. There is a chance it appeared as a very faint smudge in 2006 images, but was overlooked because it was obscured.
The Hubble Space Telescope is such a great instrument.  It is capable of such a great amount of observations and has really revolutionized our understanding of the our solar system and galaxy.  It has also been utilized as a great science outreach tool.  The vast majority of the beautiful pictures of space floating around the internet are courtesy of Hubble. See some of them here:

The Hubble will eventually fall out of orbit, due mainly to atmospheric drag, sometime between 2019 and 2032.  The large range is due to the uncertainty of how active the Sun will be, which effects the amount of drag on the satellite.

The James Webb Space Telescope is was set to succeed Hubble in the next decade or so.  However, the current budget situation in the US, it is on the chopping block.  I am not too optimistic that the project will survive. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NASA News - Shuttle Leaves ISS, Vesta Pictures, Happy Birthday John Glenn

Lots of NASA news on the table today.

STS-135 Mission Patch
Space Shuttle Atlantis

First off, the Space Shuttle Atlantis detached from the ISS early this morning (2:38 am EDT) for its final voyage home to Earth. This was the 135th space shuttle mission, named STS-135. STS stands for Space Transport System. In 30 years, the shuttle program has taken 355 astronauts into space. It is a sad moment.

Dawn Mission and Vesta

NASA's Dawn mission was launched 27 September 2007 with the overall mission to study the asteroid belt and help characterize the early solar system.  To accomplish this task, the Dawn spacecraft will observe the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.  Ceres is by far the largest object in the asteroid belt and may have a weak atmosphere with the possibility of frozen water on the surface.  Water means the possibility of life.

Vesta as seen from Dawn on July 17, 2011.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/
Vesta is the 2nd largest object in the asteroid belt behind Ceres.  It is thought to be a remnant protoplanet with a differential interior.  This means the interior of Vesta is thought to partially liquid.  At 05:00 UTC on July 16, Dawn inserted into orbit around Vesta.  On July 17, 2011 the above picture "was taken from a distance of about 9,500 miles (15,000 kilometers) away from the protoplanet Vesta. Each pixel in the image corresponds to roughly 0.88 miles (1.4 kilometers)." [quote from JPL website.] Very cool!

John Glenn's 90th Birthday

The former Marine Corps pilot, senator and astronaut turned 90 yesterday.  Famous for being the first astronaut to orbit Earth, he also logged over 200 hours in space and holds the record for being the oldest person to fly in space.  Happy Birthday Senator Glenn!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jedi Robots!

Something fun for the kids:

A project out of Stanford creates a Jedi robot wielding a lightsaber. It both attacks and defends.

My plan, hold onto this for a few years then bash my Star Wars loving children over the head with a Jedi Robot! Or use it to edge them closer to a job in science/engineering. One of the two...

May the geek be with you!

Haiku Monday - Marriage

It's hard to explain
But you can't marry your sister
Nevermind, you are 4...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Punk Rock Friday - Maturity - I hope not...

You know there ain't no street like home
To make you feel so all alone
Plenty of folk to tell you what to do
But they don't speak the same language as you


They wanna have me here
Have me and hold me near
Hold me down fasten and tie
But the cars are all flashing me
Bright lights are passing me
I feel life passing me by

The fuss is buzzing in my head

My father argued and my mother begged
It's not their words ain't tugging at me
But gotta stretch them break them get myself free


Gotta gotta gettaway
Gotta gotta gettaway
I'm leaving home
-Stiff Little Fingers "Gotta Getaway"

I loved this song when I first heard it in college. The Stiff Little Fingers were so raw and the lyrics really said a lot to me.

I was listening to this song a few months ago and I thought it summed up my adolescence extremely well. Jake Burns seemed to be singing my own adolescence to me. It was sort of astounding to look back on it actually.

An explanation may be in order - I grew up in a little town (20k people) in Wisconsin. Yep, pure corn and cow country. Nothing much to it. We were not far from some bigger towns (100K or so people), but my little suburban wasteland was its own special sort of place. All green grass and picket fences. The sort of place I wouldn't mind raising my kids.

WOW! How I have changed.

To a rebellious, angsty, angry adolescent, those perfect lawns were like iron bars. That quiet town held nothing of interest to me. You couldn't skateboard anywhere because it was illegal (except in our own yards...). Nothing to do, no where to go. That is the way I felt anyway. It is certainly not entirely true.

So, this song says a lot about me. I worked 3 jobs through college at one point, just so I wouldn't have to ask my parents for money.  Make it on my own - do things my way.

I had great parents, actually. They didn't meddle in my life too much. Kept quiet about the girls I dated, even though they hated them. (and rightly so I later came to find out.) Kept me out of trouble the best they could. Were understanding of my teenager-ness mostly. Made sure I valued my education and encouraged me to live up to my potential. Hell, they even encouraged me to go away to college. To get away. They didn't want me going to the small liberal arts school in our town. "Go and explore," they said. The rest of my family, though. Boy oh boy. "Why would you want to go to school in that big city?"

It wasn't my parents. It was the town. Where everyone knew me or knew of me. In fact, I got into much better schools than the one I chose to go to. Why did I go there? Well I told everyone that I liked it best and it had a physics program. One of the main driving forces, however, was that I knew of not a single soul from my high school going there! And you know what - I don't regret it one bit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Daycare Birthday Party - The Event

Birthday Cake - Candles
Attrribution: Jessica Diamond via flickr.  CC BY-SA 2.0
This is a follow up to the Daycare Birthday Party Rant.

I did not bring goody bags.

The world did not end.

Not a single kid noticed (at least they didn't say anything to me).

Much joy was had by all the kids, especially Little Berserker Spawn.  He was all smiles!


So, after we had already given LBS his gifts for his birthday, Beautiful Wife and I were upstairs.  I suddenly remembered that we did not even get Sweet Little Hellion (LBS' little sister) a little something so she wouldn't feel left out**.  BW laid down the law on me - "No way - I hate doing that.  It isn't her birthday, she has to learn sometime."  So, it is not just me who is the grinch around here!

**Note: SLH was fine with the whole situation and LBS shared his new toys like a champ.  I almost fell right over when I realized this.

Imagine Awesome - such a great idea.

The Fort - artwork by Archie Makice & Garrett Miller.  From flicker user kmakice.  Used under the Creative Commons

(CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Remember when you were a kid and you took out your pen or pencil and just went to town drawing crazy, outlandish things that came into your head?  Kids are so brilliant when it comes to conception of ideas and imagination.  I know, however, my artistic skill never quite matched up with the brilliance of my imagination.  I never cared, because I saw it in my head.  I am a very visual thinker. 

But what if a talented artist took your drawing and expanded on it.  Polished it.  Professionalized it!

That is exactly what Garret Miller is doing over at  You send a hi-res version of a kids picture and he re-imagines it - re-executes it.  Making a super awesome, professional-professional quality version. 

Have a look at his site.  Maybe send some of your kid's stuff in!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Final Shuttle Flight - Atlantis

Space Shuttle Atlantis' final voyage - STS-135
On the July 8, 2011 the final space shuttle mission took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  It is the end of an era.  Never again will the world watch as a shuttle launches into space.  It really is sad.

You know what is even more sad?  The federal government spent $20.2 Billion on air conditioning for our two war efforts every year.  That is more than NASA's entire annual budget (approx $19 Billion).  The shuttle program is dead with no replacement imminent.  So very, very sad.  Yes, the US government spends more on air conditioning in desert wars than on NASA.  I have discussed NASA's budget relative to the rest of the federal government in a previous post: The Federal Budget, NASA and Science Funding

There has also been some chatter on the 'net and news agencies of the issue of some space junk hitting the space station.  As it turns out, the space junk will pose no threat to the ISS or the docked spacecraft.   From the article:
"Mission Control has verified that the track of a piece of orbital debris will not be a threat to the International Space Station and space shuttle Atlantis," agency officials said in a statement. "No adjustments to the docked spacecraft’s orbit will be necessary to avoid the debris."
So, there it is.  ISS is safe.  Atlantis is docked and safe.  Last shuttle flight, ever.

But, don't despair too much.  I don't think manned space exploration will end.  I hope it won't anyway.

Haiku Monday - In-Laws

Nothing tests resolve
Like a mother-in-law surely
Berserker enraged

Friday, July 8, 2011

Back home - a quick recap of Northwoods insanity.

Was on vacation for the last week and a half.  Went to the great north woods to our family cabin for the 4th of July holiday.  Kids played in the water from sun rise to sunset.  I enjoyed some swimming, hanging with the family, and relaxing.  Mainly, I just enjoyed returning to the cabin.  I had not been there for 6 years.  I spent weeks every year up at that cabin with my brother and some assortment of adults.  I also enjoyed having my family watch my kids so I didn't have to always be on call for them.  That was AWESOME!  It totally sucks living 1000 miles from any family...

A quick rundown of my world as I was gone:

The Kids were GOOD!
I have some very odd relatives.
I openly fought with my mother in law... OH JOY!
I treasure my family and worry for my wife's family.
After 2 weeks of 16 hour days (before vacation), I don't want to go back to work.
10 days of vacation is enough.
Little Berserker Spawn turns 4 on Monday.
I am NOT making goody bags for his preschool party.
I need a vacation from my vacation...

I may go into more detail later.  I need to decide if I want to dig into the whole fight with my mother-in-law or not.  I might try to convince Beautiful Wife to post about it.  She needs to get it off her chest more than I do.  That means I should probably let her know about the blog... ROFL... oh yeah, I never told her... It has been my personal sounding board... that discussion should be interesting.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Punk Rock Friday - "To Have and Have Not"

I spend and have spent a lot of my life pondering life's inequities.  I think it was part of the reason I was drawn to the punk rock scene in the first place - there is a camaraderie and brotherhood (sisterhood also) associated with the scene (to me anyway).  One where, I thought as a naive kid, actions meant more than superficial qualities like the color of your skin or where you grew up.

Now, as anyone in the scene knows, the reality of the subculture is not so rosy.

Anyway, back on topic here. In the vain of social and economic disparities this Punk Rock Friday is with Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards.  The song is To Have and Have Not off their self-titled album. 

Some of you may know Lars as the guitarist of Rancid, a band who saw some moderate mainstream success in the 90s.

I encourage anyone and everyone to post any thoughts they have on the song, the meaning or my post.  Please share!
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