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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Late Evening Rants

So I've spent some time in the car today, which means that I'm listening to WCCO Radio (good stuff) -- the mighty 8-3-0. This means less to me on a weekend (since there are several shows I generally don't follow and most of the afternoons are taken up with sports programming or sports-oriented shows which don't really hold my attention at all. But, they still do the news every half hour...and so I was able to hear a few things.

First off, we'll stay 'local' -- and by that I mean Minnesota. There was a bill which has apparently been passed by the MN House to raise the gas tax by 10 cents per gallon. The last time anything happened to the gas tax in Minnesota was in 1988. Considering how we're a high service, high tax state, I personally don't see how making a 10-cent change once every 19 years is such a big deal. I won't like paying it, but when it comes right down to it, it's not going to make a huge dent in my checkbook at the end of the month.

But, we have this wonderful governor who has vowed to veto this 'tax' increase. Lest we forget how many 'user fees' have been proposed and mandated under this man's tenure. Those aren't taxes, though -- so we're OK!. Give me a break. Whatever the verbiage may be, the same effect is felt -- user fee or tax. Just because of this issue even being in the news, I'm really hoping that the legislature can get together and override his intended veto. Just to prove a point. Hell, change the verbiage to call it a 10-cent-per-gallon 'user fee' and I'll still bet he'll veto it. Turns out (if you ask me), anything that's not his idea for an income generation mechanism is called a tax no matter what it's actually called, but anything of his idea can never be called a tax, but rather a user fee...

Anyway, enough of that. :)

I'll try to keep this next rant a bit shorter and more to the point, but I also heard some reports of our magical president chastising the legislature for their various mandates to (over some period of time) get out of the bullshit in Iraq. Now, I'm not exactly sure what the best route to go would be, but that's not the point. The point is that it has to (and needs to) end eventually. But this dude is so set in his mind that this will never be the case. Here again, I hope the same damn thing happens at the federal level that I hope happens to the gas tax in Minnesota.

It's about time the executive branch gets pruned by the power of the veto override. After all, that is part of the checks and balances system between the three branches -- and it's about time it gets used a little more. After all, "of the people, by the people, for the people" -- so, come on, people!

I never have liked that man, and it's amazing to me how many people fall into the 'he's the greatest thing since sliced bread' mentality. Of course, I guess there are also a lot of people in this country who don't think for themselves either...which is becoming more blatantly obvious in certain circles.

But, I digress. And now I've done enough political ranting for a while and I feel all armchair activist, so I'm going to bed. Until next time...

--MZ

Miscellaneous Saturday Thoughts & Happenings

I slept in a little bit this morning, until about 9:15 or so, and after about fifteen minutes of being up, I went and laid down until about 10:15. I got up around 9 because Beth was in the shower and Kirstin was a little fussy. I can't say I blame her, because she had one eye matted shut. Well, not really, but she had a lot of gunk in one eye and could open it at the time. So, while I got that cleaned up and waited for Beth to get out of the shower I was up and around the house. Didn't really sleep during the latter part (from 9:30 through 10:15), but it was good to just vegitate for a while. Of course, due to the NCAA tournaments, I didn't get to sleep until 11:45 last night because the late news was preempted by the tournament coverage.

I might add, I am incredibly upset with how the post-game show is handled. They would do an intro (about 30 seconds) of what was coming up after the show, then about a minute-thirty of interview-ish material, then two minutes of commercials. Where it got frustrating for me was that they did this three or four times before the post-game show was over. Had Beth and Kirstin not been sleeping in the same room, I'm pretty sure we'd have been looking for a new TV today, because I was ready to throw heavy objects at it.

Anyway, the usual Saturday morning ritual of cereal, mail, and newspaper reading (because the Morris paper comes out on Saturday and Wednesday), it was time to get ready and head to Alexandria. Of course, it was after 2pm when we finally got going, but that's beside the point.

When we were at Wal-Mart, a strange thought occurred to me (since I'm intending to get our taxes done this weekend yet). One can get taxes done at Wal-Mart by visiting with a professional (the kiosks I've seen are from H&R Block). This begs the question -- do people (and more importantly, how many) actually do this?

I'm not saying it's a bad idea; I can certainly see where the convenience would come in handy. And I'm sure returns are done well (with a fairly reputable organization). But for me there would be this mental block. "I got my taxes done at Wal-Mart" is a phrase I can't imagine ever using. It just seems too southern American (e.g. Arkansas) and redneck. But it must pay off, because they've got the kiosks there and they wouldn't do it year after year if it didn't make money for someone... I would be very interested to see some statistics on Wal-Mart usage, though.

Often times when I make an entry here I'm listening to music. Those of you who know me fairly well also know that I have an MP3 collection which spans several genres and is in the 4,500 individual title range (last I checked). It was also (last I checked) somewhere in the 20GB range. Many of these titles I've accumulated over the years, and most of my CD collection is also in this list. Anyway, that aside, I often go through phases where I listen to the same thing frequently. Conversely, I often listen to very random things...and considering that it usually takes me 15-45 minutes to make each post...I often listen to several items during a post. I've thought about trying to somehow catalog or note the tunes I'm enjoying while writing this, but the list would often dwarf the post...so I've given up on that idea from a practical standpoint.

Anyway, tonight's musical choice is a rendition of Daydream Believer done by Mary Beth Maziarz. I'm not a huge fan of the original done by the Monkees (I've got that in the collection), but I get into certain moods sometimes where a fresh version of a tune really makes a significant difference. She (Mary Beth Maziarz) is a solo artist who (in this particular case) plays the piano while singing the tune in a deliciously crisp and relaxing way. I'm a sucker for a killer piano riff (or player), and this definitely falls into that category.

Another tune that I periodically enjoy is a recording of Etta James' "At Last," which was originally released in 1961. I have two words for this particular recording -- deliciously slutty. It's an amazing tune and vocal performance. In just checking up on Wikipedia, I noticed that she's actually still alive and touring! Amazing.

Okay, I need to move on to a different topic or post before I use the word delicious to describe something (aside from del.icio.us, which is something else entirely) before I start to sound too homosexual...

--MZ

Fidgety In A Dress


Fidgety In A Dress
We had to get a few pictures of one of the dresses
she got on our shopping outing to Alexandria this
afternoon. There's a particularly cute one for
Easter (we didn't take a picture of that one), but
this one is just as cute for an everyday sort of
outfit.
So we spent part of the day shopping today. It was our first big outing on a shopping trip to Alexandria. By and large, it went pretty well. The trip basically included stops to eat (at Perkins) for a late lunch, Fleet Farm (for cat food, since they had a neat sale going on where they give out a $10 gift card per 17.5lb bag of food), Wal-Mart, and Target. It takes a little getting used to hauling her around (it's not bad, but the business with carts and her car seat and the extra gear), but we were nearly (!) pros by the time we were all done.

I wasn't always convinced that the infant carrier business would be the way to go (because you've got to lift it in and out of the car), but I am since convinced. It's not something I'd like to use for very long (maybe 6-8 months), especially once she starts getting heavier, but for right now it's absolutely amazing. In and out of the car is trivial (I suppose it helps to have a four-door car; I can't imagine that a two-door car would be much fun with that due to how one would have to stretch), and there's no need to wake her up in a transfer. Click and go, dude!

So, we picked her up a couple of outfits, one for general purpose -- the one in this picture -- one for Easter (and I'm sure it'll be used after that as well), and another one for general purpose. Good times.

Anyway, I'm deciding to do tonight's posts in a series of individual posts, namely because I made a list of things to ramble about and I don't want to mix too many things up (and make one super-huge post nobody will read).

So, until the next post comes along...

--MZ

Friday, March 23, 2007

Woohoo! Friday!!!

Well, the week has come to a close. And I am ready for that. I have a few projects I'd like to accomplish this weekend, and I think it'll be nice to have some time to do them. One in particular is to upload a bunch more pictures to Flickr -- the ones I didn't get around to selecting or categorizing before Kirstin came along. I've done some more looking around, and I think I've got a game plan in mind, so I'm hoping to get some time to sit and do nothing but that (and watch the girls, of course).

I'm also hoping to get our taxes done this weekend (or at least start them). Fortunately they're fairly easy, so it's just a matter of actually doing the data entry portions. I can usually do them in an evening or two (I usually spend the first evening going over everything and the second actually doing the work. I've got everything in one bundle for tax purposes (just like in years past), so it should go pretty smoothly...and all will be well.

I'm also intending to print a few pictures and prepare for mailing to a few people without Internet access (who obviously wouldn't be reading this post or seeing the pictures online). That'll be good times.

Today at work was fairly laid back. After all, it was Friday...and you can't work too hard on a Friday. Yeah, right. :) We actually spent most of the day (when we weren't having coffee or eating lunch) taking care of loose ends or meeting (pow-wowing) about schedules, requests, and deadlines. I don't always like to pow-wow on a Friday, but in this case it worked out pretty well. We're not done (more to come on Monday), but we made some significant progress (considering that Kevin and I haven't been in the office at the same time for the last three weeks or better).

Beth came in to town in the mid-afternoon and hung around for a while. We ended up going over to Willie's for a few things before we left town for the evening. Our supper consisted of some chicken quesadillas -- made with the magic quesadilla maker I got for Christmas from Mark and Abby. Good stuff, that was. Before supper, I went out and gave the dogs some love...and ended up talking to the neighbor (he was warming up the grill) for a while and giving him the updates (he'd not known that Kirstin was around yet).

So anyway, it's been pretty quiet here now since we gave Kirstin her evening bath. I imagine I'll be heading for bed soon in hopes I can get another night's sleep. She's slept really pretty well the last two nights (not making terribly much noise aside from when it's time to eat or be changed, which usually coordinate with each other), and that's been good. She's slept well since we got her home, but it's been better in the last two nights.

I just came from upstairs where I put her down for the night (while Beth was getting ready for bed), and I had a very unique experience with Kirstin. While I was holding her to calm her down for bed, she got a big wide open smiled grin on her face, which promptly went away. When I asked her if she could do it again, she shortly thereafter did do it again, followed by a very neat giggle. I'd not yet heard that type of noise come from her...so it was neat. It was definitely a giggle type noise. Cute. No, awesome!

So yeah, that's been the day in general. I'm looking forward to bedtime now. Soon as I finish typing this post and reading up on a few things I'm researching, I intend to head that way and enjoy the night.

Until next time...

--MZ

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Day, Another Dollar

So it's been a pretty good day; fairly busy, but not too overwhelming or off the charts. Always a plus. I spent the morning at the office, and that was good. Keeping on top of things (as best as possible) is always a Good Thing.

I left around 12:30, because Grandma & Grandpa Zaske were coming up to meet Kirstin for the first time (they're her Great-Grandparents). We had a nice visit for a few hours, and then Jill came by with Henry. They hung around for another few hours and we all had a good time. Henry's grown quite a bit -- of course, it looks exaggerated when he's put into context of Kirstin. Nine very good months versus nine days. Big difference. In a way, it kinda validates why I'm doing the daily photo experiment.

Most of our snow is now gone. Even the snow piles that were on the North side of the house are pretty much gone. It was in the 50's today with some wind. We also had some drizzle and rain yesterday for a bit, so what snow is left really isn't any sort of match for weather like that. In a way it's nice, but yet it's kinda sad -- I do like snow. :)

Kirstin's umbilical cord stump fell off yesterday (I forgot to mention that). It was a bit interesting to see, namely because it'd undergone such a strange transformation from the time when I cut it. And no, it wasn't kept as some sort of keepsake -- yikes. No thanks. It's good to have gone, though, because one doesn't have to be quite so careful to not accidentally rip it off.

I've been looking through more of my digital picture archive; namely the bits I haven't yet uploaded to Flickr. I'm pretty sure that (if I get a chance this weekend) I'll be uploading quite a few of those pictures and categorizing/captioning them. I'm currently at 884 pictures on Flickr, and I'm pretty sure that by the time those other images are put up, I'll be over 1000. There are pictures of all sorts of things.

Changing the subject yet again, we got a big envelope from the hospital today. I was not expecting anything, so it was awfully interesting wondering what was inside. Upon opening it, I discovered that it's a 'Birth Certificate' from the hospital with the names of everyone involved (not just Kirstin, Beth and myself, but also Paige, Libby and Sharon as well). It's a pretty neat thing and has a place to put the footprint cards we got. Very cool stuff. I continue to be impressed by the facility from start to finish. In smaller town environments, it's often easy to hear just negative things about a particular facility (and I've heard plenty)...but it's also good to personally experience the good stuff. So yeah, that's that. :)

So Beth is set up now with a (free) Flickr account and is set up in such a way so that she can make comments on any picture of my account. Good times. I know she's put a few comments out there already, so that's cool.

Anyway, that's about all I can think of off hand. So until next time...

--MZ

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Day In The Real World (TM)

It has been a long day today, that's for sure... :)

Today Beth brought Kirstin out and about in the 'Real World' outside of the house. It was a good experience, I believe, and several people got to meet her (namely at my office building and over at Willie's (the fantastic grocery store)) for the first time. She did pretty well overall as well. That's always a plus.

Beth went home then around 1pm, and I stuck around at work for a few more hours (I got home around 4). I had a fairly productive day, but it'd have been nicer to get a few more things done. Ah well. There's always tomorrow. :)

So I came home, sat down on the couch, and read the paper. Pretty soon it was time to head in for church (outing number two in the same day). That experience also went pretty well. She got to meet more people and it also got Beth out of the house for a bit more time -- another plus. Kirstin's really not to any point where she interacts with people, so it's a lot of staring and whatnot...but there's nothing wrong with socializing the child from the beginning.

On our way home after church and choir was done, we had to make a quick stop by Beth's long-term sub's house (to exchange some items). It's really not that far out of our way (rather than take a nine-mile diagonal drive, we instead go five miles straight West (which is about where she lives) and then seven miles straight North (back to our normal road)), so it wasn't that big a deal, and it's also a change of scenery. Anyway, while Beth and her sub were socializing (I stayed in the car with Kirstin), I decided to do something that I'd seen done by a few other people. I'm going to take a picture a day of Kirstin and put it in its own set, Kirstin On A Daily Basis. The idea is simply that (especially when viewed as a slideshow) one can view the gradual progression of how she changes (daily) over a long period of time. How long a period of time? I don't know. I'll keep doing it (hopefully daily or at least close to that depending upon the situation) until I don't see a good purpose in it anymore.

I recently ran across a family of five who have taken yearly pictures since 1977. That's a 30-year set of photos. Granted, those are once per year...but it's still cool too see. Another one I saw was a fellow who has taken his own picture daily for over eight years and made a video of that. That's a bit less interesting to me (because he was in his twenties if I recall correctly) since he doesn't really change that much over a period of time. But, the principle here would be to see the very big changes that take place in someone so small.

So, we'll see where that leads us. I imagine as time goes by I'll probably slow down the frequency, but who knows. I'm kinda excited. It gives me a purpose to take at least one picture of her every day I can.

Anyway, in other news, I went to the County Recorder's office today to get a few copies of Kirstin's birth certificate. While that process itself is fairly uneventful (although I had a good experience there), I was surprised to see how birth certificates have changed over the last nearly 27 years. I don't look at my birth certificate often (although I usually get it out of the safety deposit box when I travel to Canada -- just in case since I haven't renewed my passport yet), they really have changed over time. Mine (an original) is fairly ornate (with a gold foil embossed seal) and utilitarian with its typewriter print over line blanks on a form. Hers is on a unique linen paper (kinda like currency) with multiple colors and pretty basic with its layout of information.

So anyway, it's now after 11pm as I finish this post, so I'm going to bed. We'll see what tomorrow brings!

Until then...

--MZ

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Week Ago...

So, it turns out that (as I write this), exactly one week ago we were preparing to go and on our way to the hospital anticipating the forthcoming delivery of a child. It's kinda weird to think that it has already been a week!

I spent the better part of the day at work today, mostly getting caught up with various communications. I had put a few people off since last Tuesday, so it was about time to start really answering some messages. I had done some yesterday, but only the easy ones. :) I didn't really get loads of stuff accomplished, but I'm pretty well caught up with that stuff, which is a Good Thing.

Aside from that, I've pretty much been killing time -- taking advantage of being home a bit. I did a lot of looking around on Flickr last night, and have been doing plenty of Stumbling. It's kinda neat, but I'm not completely convinced I like the StumbleUpon bits yet (the randomness is cool, but their periodic ads for themselves and also the rating system I don't really like). I understand I have to teach it to find things I like (which is where the rating system up or down is nice), but yeah.

Anyway, it's about time to make some food. Then I'll probably be back to upload some pictures to Flickr. I invited Beth to have an account (the free variety) which she can then use to post comments and whatnot on the various pictures. That'll be cool -- she can be more involved with the public perception of the images.

Anyway, until next time...

--MZ

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday Check-Up

So it's now Monday afternoon, and everything has quieted down some since the relatively busy weekend. Beth's folks left around noon, and then there was a little quiet time before Paige showed up for her home visit. That went pretty well, and we found out that Kirstin is back up to her birth weight, a mere five days after birth. She was 8lbs, 3.5ozs at birth, on Friday morning was 7lbs, 10ozs, and today registered at 8lbs, 3ozs (this scale doesn't register fractions of an ounce).

So, there's no shortage of healthy baby here. She's looking really good and beat the traditional goal of 'back to birth weight by two weeks.' Go team!

I also found out that Paige got some use out of the Flogging Molly tunes I put on a CD for her as a bit of a gift -- so far as to insinuate that she wanted to tell someone (who was being quite unpleasant to her) to 'Kiss her Irish Ass' which just happens to be one of the tunes on the CD. :)

I've been catching up with work-related communications today. It's amazing how just a few days can kinda put one behind (especially since I didn't respond to anyone as I only skimmed emails of that account for the last several days), but that's going well. I probably won't get any code written today, but I didn't expect that either. Amongst other things, that's a goal for tomorrow.

So that pretty much brings us to the now. I think I'm going to get back to more work-related stuff and possibly take a short nap myself. We've all been sleeping pretty well, but I've got a bit of food coma going on right at the moment. Maybe I'll work through it, maybe not...

Until next time...

--MZ

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Busy Sunday

It has been a very busy day today! At first (yesterday) I wasn't sure if I'd go to church or not (I knew the girls wouldn't be coming along), but then I figured I could just as well -- after all, I needed to go brag and whatnot. :)

So I did just that -- of course, I didn't need to brag a whole lot, as the pictures did that for me. I literally got swarmed when I announced I had some pictures. Women came out of the woodwork to see them. Of course, I got a few hugs and many handshakes. It was a good time.

After I got home, Rick and Deb were at the house and we all hung around for a few hours. I took time for a bit of a nap, and in the mid-afternoon, my folks and Mark and Abby showed up (with food). So we all hung around for a while (I took a load of pictures many of which, of course, I uploaded to Flickr), and it was generally just a good time.

Everyone pretty much had cleared out by the time 7pm rolled around, and since then we've been hanging around on the couch or back in the office while Kirstin sleeps. She's had a big day, so she's been sleeping pretty hard since everyone left. Hopefully that trend will continue through the night. I can always hope.

I'm pretty sure that I'll probably not be in at the office tomorrow, although I will work on some things from home again as I get the chance throughout the day. There are some things to catch up on (like emails), but mostly what I need to do is simply get back to writing some code. Good times.

Anyway, I really don't have that much more to say right now -- I'm getting to the damn tired mode of the day, so I think I'll be heading for bed shortly. Things should start falling back into the 'normal' (if you will) realm over the next week or so -- visitors will slow down in frequency, and a shift back to a more usual schedule will be a welcome thing.

So, until next time...

--MZ

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