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Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
3:50 pm - Cookie cookie cookie starts with C
We are now taking cookie orders. $4 per box.

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Monday, October 19th, 2009
11:15 am - Small changes with big results
For some time, Newton has been thinking about, and then moving toward a robo-trash system. (It sounds cool that way, huh?) This means they gave everyone in the city new trash & recycling bins, and the truck that collects them is driven by one guy, and the bins are picked up and dumped by robot arms. (OK, it looks cool too) The problems with this are that you only get one trash can unless you rent an extra ($$!!), and how snow banks affect the collection. I have been very skeptical about this program, but since we started two weeks ago I'm cautiously pleased. The trash can has a large capacity, larger than our normal weekly output. This may require some trash juggling from week to week during times when we generate a lot, but I think we can manage it. Secondly, the recycling is now single-stream -- no separation.

I had no idea what an impact single-stream recycling could have on my life. This means we no longer have to maintain a paper recycling area, which in our house was in the knee space of the built-in desk in the kitchen. I bought a small filing cabinet to put there, which does take up some of the knee space, but not enough to bother me. This means the stacks of papers on every non-food surface are put away out of sight. Furthermore, since the desk is now clear of paper, I can put my laptop there (it used to stay on the kitchen table, where it was in danger of spills) and actually get work done. Wow.

Second little change: for some time I've been trying to find a way to encourage our kids to do chores. Not onerous stuff, it really amounts to picking up after themselves. 530nm330hz doesn't like the idea of paying for chores, since he feels a family is a socialist entity. I agree with that principle, although my higher priority is turning out children who are considerate, clean, and responsible with their property. So we're trying a new system, based on systems we've heard other people talk about, but customized to our needs.

I bought a bucket of 1000 colored plastic disks, and two small plastic boxes. I labeled the boxes with the kids' names. Then I sat down and wrote a detailed list of things I wanted the kids to do, and assigned point values to them. I assigned low values to lower priority things and also to things the kids already do fairly consistently, and higher values to higher priority/more difficult items. The whole family discussed it and agreed to try it. They have the opportunity to earn about 20 tokens per day, plus about 20 more on a weekly basis for less frequent chores. They can spend 10 tokens for a half hour of tv or computer time, or save tokens to convert to money, 100 tokens to the dollar.

So far, it's great. They love earning the tokens, and there's been very little token-spending. We have more cooperative kids and the house is running more smoothly with a lot less parental angst.

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Friday, April 17th, 2009
1:57 pm - movie time
I took the kids to see Monsters vs. Aliens. Yes, just now. Yes, on a Friday. Yes, on the one day between Pesach and shabbat. Sheesh.

It's a very fun, silly movie. I have a low tolerance for the kind of bathroom jokes that pass for humor in kids' movies (and a lot of adult movies) but I was kept entertained throughout. Sure, it's formulaic, but it's meant to be a parody of all sorts of monster and alien movies, so it's as it should be.

It's loaded with voice talent -- when the opening credits announced that Stephen Colbert plays the President, I laughed just in anticipation of that performance. I was left wondering though, if American viewers of "House" would leave the movie unable to recognize Hugh Laurie using his normal accent.

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Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
9:49 pm - That's right Facebook, that's what it's all about

I am amused.

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Monday, December 1st, 2008
12:43 pm - an observation
I walked in the shul on shabbat morning with gnomi. We paused in the entrance for a few moments and I said to her, "Your mother is sitting with my boss."

Don't get to say that every day.

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Sunday, October 12th, 2008
9:17 pm
'Twas the night before sukkot, and all through the sukkah,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a ...

Um, never mind. Chag sameach, one and all.

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Thursday, May 29th, 2008
5:31 pm - For the love of God, Montressor!
I have just agreed to knit a vest and pants for a Webkinz (TM) toy.

O! M! G!

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Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
1:27 pm - Good and bad customer service
Our oven is a problem oven. It is eight years old this month, and has had a minimum of five service calls on it, one of them within a week of installation. For the past year, approximately, it's been having intermittent problems where the electronic control panel effectively crashes, and needs to be rebooted by being shut off at the breaker. We've put up with this, I guess out of lethargy. For the past three weeks, it has not been able to recover from rebooting; it crashes immediately on being restarted. This is a completely unacceptable state.

All of our service has been handled by the distributor we bought it from, Jarvis Appliance. They have been unfailingly polite, fairly prompt, and full of good advice throughout our relationship with them. Today, I stopped by their store to get a copy of our service records as ammunition in a phone call with Thermador's customer service. I was assisted by a lovely woman who I suspect is a part-owner, since "Jarvis" is part of her name. She must have spent half an hour with me, painstakingly going through the computer records and writing them down for me. She gave a bunch of tips on dealing with Thermador, and helped me schedule a service call, squeezing me in for this afternoon. So, yay for Jarvis. They've earned our business.

When I got home I called Thermador customer support, and read them the litany of problems with this oven. The part that is [probably] causing the current problem has already been replaced -- twice. The very polite phone service employee who spoke to me was very apologetic, but all they can do for me is offer a 25% discount if I buy the new part directly from them. This is customer service? This oven has never worked right, it's had serial breakdowns of the same part, which leads one to conclude that there is a major design flaw with it. But as we know, phone customer service people are really just trained to say no politely.

We're fixing it this time, mostly because I can't afford to be without an oven before shavuot, and replacing it will be a huge expenditure of time and money. But next time it breaks, which I suspect won't be long, we're replacing it.

And not with another Thermador.

An Update:

There is a difference in treatment between an insider and a member of the public. The Jarvis service guy was here, and called up Thermador's tech support to confer about the problem. They agreed it was the third-time-failing part, plus some contributing factors. Then the tech support guy forwarded the Jarvis guy to customer support (I'm suspecting Tier II customer support) who agreed that Thermador would pay for all the parts.

Am I happy? Well, I'm glad I don't have to pay $300 + out of pocket. But the fact that Jarvis guy got satisfaction just illustrates my point: Thermador's (Tier I?) customer service's job is to say no. Politely.

current mood: infuriated

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Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
8:26 am - April Fool's
This morning 530nm330hz was running late, but came running back in the house to tell me that raccoons had had their way with our trash, and he didn't have time to clean it up. A little while later I went out to deal with it.

Alissa, apparently remembering a story I'd told her recently about how she locked me out of the house when she was 15 months, decided to play a trick on me. She didn't just decide to lock me out, though, she really put some thought into it. When I came back to the door after my task, I found the door closed and deadbolted, but sitting on the railing next to the door were my keys.

I unlocked the door and congratulated her on her trick. She's very proud of her April Fool's.

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Monday, March 31st, 2008
1:51 pm - Pesach cleaning and allergies make for a cranky me
I spent all day yesterday sneezing and sniffling from a combination of tree and dust allergies. I am so happy that I tolerate pseudoephedrine well, I couldn't get by without it.

I am not quite done with week 2 (ABK) cleaning, it's a long list -- but I've completed the Worst Job of the Year. That is, cleaning out the kids' art boxes and recycling a good portion of it. We permit the kids to save anything they want in their art bins in the dining room, both the things we'll want to save forever and the ephemeral things that need a cooling-off period. Since the bins are kept in the dining room, they really need to be cleaned out before pesach. So today I emptied, sorted, shook out the bins and swept behind them, and put the keepers into long-term storage.

It's a necessary but daunting task that brings out happy emotions of reviewing the wonderful things they've done, and sad emotions of letting many things go. In T's case, a lot of the stuff he brings home is art he worked hard on, and writing or math exercises that I want to keep. He also brings home monstrously large things he's made out of construction paper, and some of these have to go. Alissa produces massive amounts of art, some of which is very thoughtfully crafted.

Now I have to hide the bags of recycling.

current mood: melancholy

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Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
10:41 am - Finally, Grocery Shopping for the 21st Century
This morning I found myself in Watertown and needing some groceries, so after hitting Russo's for produce, I went down the street to Stop & Shop (corner of Pleasant & North). I don't shop here often because my neighborhood Shaw's is more convenient, but I'm going to start doing so. It's a near-clone of the Brighton "Planet Stop & Shop" with the one drawback that the bakery is not heckshered. (That's probably for the best) I went there today because of its physical convenience and because it has an easier bottle return than my nearby Shaw's.

When I entered the store, I encountered something new, a display of handheld scanners. You scan your loyalty card, read the terms and conditions, and then take a scanner. The terms amount to: they won't sell your name blah blah, you agree not to loan out your card, and they reserve the right to double check your cart at the exit. There are bags at the scanner display so you can bag as you go, but I had my own reusables with me.

It was easy, sort of fun, and convenient using the scanner. The screen displays what you have just scanned, the price, quantity (you scan multiple times for duplicate items, a minor drawback) and any discount. At the bottom of the screen is a running total, and you have the option of deleting any items (although I didn't try to). I don't know how produce or other UPC-less items get scanned, since I had just bought my produce at Russo's. I imagine you just save them to the end and scan them at the checkout, which would partially defeat the purpose.

When I completed my shopping, I decided to use the self-checkout line. While these are a good idea, I have had lots of problems with them in the past and I don't think they really save time. There's the slowdown and potential embarrassment factor that the register has to announce loudly what you've just scanned and the price ("Condoms, $10.50. Whipped cream, $1.29") and the hassle of having to put each item carefully on the belt so it can be automatically weighed. Then if your bagging area fills up, the register makes you stop and take care of that.

This time, there was no hassle. I re-scanned my loyalty card at the checkout, and my scanner uploaded automatically. Then it was just pay and go. There is the option of scanning coupons before you pay but they won't let you scan the bottle return receipts, even though a UPC is printed on it. It was another minor drawback to redeem those at the customer service desk. I popped the scanner back in the display, and I was out the door in record time.

All in all, the ability to have a running total; bagging as you go, thereby eliminating the time-consuming and annoying need to unload the cart on the belt, explain how you want things bagged, and get it reloaded; and the rapid checkout were very, very cool. I'm probably willing to live with the minor problems, although this may only last until the first time I get my cart double-checked by a snotty employee.

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Monday, March 24th, 2008
9:42 am - I've got it!
It's time to convert my car over to burning whole milk instead of gas. It'll be cheaper!

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Sunday, March 23rd, 2008
5:41 pm - And so it begins
Today I did almost all of my Week 1 tasks from my four-week list leading up to... you know. Week 1 is a complete cleaning of the second floor, including closets, medicine cabinets, and the kids' rooms. It should surprise no one to learn that Tani is his father's son -- I think they have magpie genes in there somewhere. Fortunately I had already done the kids' closets two weeks ago so cleaning the two kid rooms only took... um... 4 hours? Geez.

Naturally it goes much faster without "help" but it's also necessary to teach them how to clean and organize. Tani would much rather do the scrubbing kind of cleaning than the putting away, straightening, and throwing away kind; but I told him in a couple weeks he'll have plenty of that. Alissa is a master of the art of passive resistance, but I assigned 530nm330hz to help her in her room and they seemed to do okay without the conniptions I had with Tani.

Next week: Downstairs ABK (All but kitchen)

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Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
4:03 pm - The weather today, 3:15-4:00 pm

I love you, New England.

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Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
12:41 pm
Alissa: I'm drawing a picture of your bones, Mama. This is your leg and foot! (draws for a while) Now I'm going to label it. N for knee... F for thigh*... K for cow**...

* She pronounced it "fie"
** If you haven't guessed yet, she meant "calf"

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Thursday, February 7th, 2008
10:20 am - Fun for all
Today I am stuck home with a feverish child, condemned to hours of children's television while comforting her and finishing the sewing for Tani's siddur cover. I'm glad it's not Tani that's sick, or I couldn't work on it today (it's a strict surprise) and the deadline is tomorrow. (and yes, I'm ashamed of myself for being glad that it's Alissa that's sick and not Tani)

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Tuesday, October 30th, 2007
8:03 pm - Luckiest Kid in Boston
Yesterday I got a call from Tani's school that he'd been sent to the nurse's office for suspected conjunctivitis. Tani has been prone since the age of two to eye infections/allergies that look a little like conjunctivitis, but really aren't the same. Nonetheless, I was fully aware that I wasn't going to be able to convince the school that he was fine, so I agreed to pick him up. As expected, one eye was discharging some goo, but there was no sign of redness. It was kind of a toss-up to me whether I should just home-treat as usual or take him in, but since he hadn't had one of these episodes in a year, I decided to take him in to the doctor's office.

Read more about Tani and the Red SoxCollapse )

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Friday, August 24th, 2007
1:53 pm
I have a good shabbat menu this week, so I'll post mine.


-chicken soup leftover from last night's Chicken in the Pot
-honey roast chicken stuffed with apples & onions (a collaboration between Tani and me)
-brown rice
-brownies and fruit

Tomorrow's lunch:

-green salad
-fajitas made with:
--chicken and beef marinated and grilled
--black bean salad (another Tani/Mama collaboration)
--steamed tortillas
-strawberry rhubarb pie

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10:08 am - Crossover
It isn't often that my interests in science fiction and knitting have an intersection, but sometimes you see something like this.

There's lots of Harry Potter knitting, which is mostly pretty attractive even if it doesn't appeal to me, and there's a Princess Leia wig/hat pattern which is a hoot, but knitting something as hideous as Jayne's hat for the sake of fandom takes real dedication.

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Thursday, August 23rd, 2007
9:13 am - Ugh
Today instead of knitting, I am nitting. Blech, yuck.

In happier news, 530nm330hz was right about Quiddler. Cool game.

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