Thursday, March 31, 2011

A losing battle

Smoking Hot Roommate has corrected me...she in fact used to have a Jeep Wrangler at the beach when she was in high school. Big Sis bought it for her for her 16th birthday, and she kept it until she left for college and wanted something a little, um, "sturdier".

So now, the two of them are fully convinced that it is their right and possibly even their obligation as siblings/parents/guardians/etc to buy Munchkin the car for her birthday.

For Chrissakes...can someone please talk some sense into them?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(Legally) Driving

So, no one figured out my trivia question...

Sunday is Munchkin's birthday. Munchkin's 16th birthday.

A quick consultation of the driving laws in Massachusetts would tell you that said age makes her eligible for her learner's permit. Which means that Monday, after school, we are heading over to the Registry in Chinatown (on the corner of Washington and Essex, hence the clue:-)) so she can get her permit.

This also means I have to find someplace to take her to practice driving, since we clearly aren't gonna just pull out of the garage, hop on Storrow Drive and learn that way. Honestly, most of that will likely wait until summer when she can practice in a place with a lot less traffic and angry drivers (and a place where, ahem, she has some experience already).

This leads to the obvious...which is that, like all 16 year olds, she wants nothing more than her own car. More specifically, having spent two summers at the beach, and planning to spend them all there for the foreseeable future, she has her heart set on a Jeep Wrangler. I think she loves the idea of bouncing around the island with the top off all summer long...and really, who can blame her?

I don't totally love the idea. She would really only end up using it three months a year, and that seems kind of wasteful. I almost never drive anywhere (except school), and she would drive even less than I will be a while before I feel comfortable letting her drive around downtown much. I just don't think it is a great idea to insure it and leave it basically idle all winter (we do, however, have a parking space for it, though).

Her pretend sisters, however, think this is the best idea ever...which presents something of a problem. Because they don't usually do what I tell them to;-) Also, both claim to have long wanted to have a Wrangler at the beach (although seriously, if they really wanted one that badly, they'd have bought one, right?:-P)

Fortunately, I think I have talked them out of buying her a car this weekend...but I may have to settle for one of them buying her own, and leaving it at the beach house, which would largely make it Munchkin's anyway.

This remains to be negotiated;-)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Trivia Time

Anyone want to guess what I am doing a week from today that requires me to leave work early?

I will give you two hints...the first (for the locals) is that it will require me walking through Downtown Crossing, down Washington Street to Chinatown. The second (for everyone else) is that it makes me feel REALLY old.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I had lunch with Papa Bear and Big Sis yesterday, which is always a treat. We talked about some work stuff and some "family" stuff but mostly just visited. At one point, the conversation turned to the missing sisters: Smoking Hot Roommate and Munchkin.

Papa Bear noted how remarkably similar they are, and how similar Munchkin is to SHR when she was her age. There are the obvious they look a lot alike, both are fantastically athletic and first in their classes.

But Big Sis, in her own insightful way, summed it up as follows: "Most teenagers struggle to figure out who they are and where they fit in. SHR knew exactly who she was at age 16, and I have never seen anyone else have that same kind of self-awareness until Munchkin."

That made me smile:-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More ranting on Libya

Only a couple of responses on my Libya comments...which I think sort of gets to the point here. No one really knows what to think. We all beat up George Bush for not letting sanctions and the inspection process and diplomacy run their course in Iraq, but now we seem to have just skipped all of that stuff, shoved through some bogus UN Resolution and started bombing.

But, in the absence of the sort of debate that led up to Iraq and Afghanistan (they may have ignored a lot of the debate, but there was at least a debate)...does anyone know what we are doing? What our goals are? What the objectives are? Obama says that overthrowing Ghaddaffi (and for real, how the fuck does he spell his name?!?!?) is not an objective, but the Brits and the French say that it is. Isn't this the sort of thing that we should iron out ahead of time?

The prevailing argument seems to be a humanitarian one...what's-his-name is being extra mean to his own people, so we need to step in and stop him. As noble as that sounds, why has no one intervened in Darfur? And where were we in Rwanda? Or the Ivory Coast? There is a lot worse stuff going on in other places in the world. And right now, in Bahrain and Yemen, almost the same things are happening...political demonstrations being broken up by excessive force by authoritarian governments. So, why is Libya worth intervening but those other places aren't? The economic arguments are weak, too...there isn't even that much oil there. If anything, the risk of violence on the Arabian peninsula destabilizing Saudi Arabia is a much bigger economic story.

So, I remain mostly just confused by the whole thing. George Bush will be judged by history as having made specious, borderline-truthful arguments about Iraq. But at least he said something. The Great Diplomat has decided to have a couple quiet meetings, drop some bombs and then think about maybe explaining it later on. If he gets around to it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Random Stuff, and Libya

Munchkin is home safely, which I was maybe a little tiny bit worried about when people started lobbying Tomahawk missiles at Libya on Friday night (more on that in a second.) She had a wonderful trip and wasn't totally heartbroken leaving...I feel like every time they see each other it is a little easier on her saying good-bye. Which, I guess makes some sense.

Her little shopping trip produced a suitcase full of stuff, almost none of which was for me, boo!!! I can't really even borrow that much from the rest of them...they all share clothes that are too big for me! I did score an adorable little waist-length red pea coat (jacket?) that I look forward to wearing. Looks a little like this, but it is a little lighter (weight, the color is a little deeper) and even shorter, and has some black trim on it, too.

And just to clarify: there was never an expectation that I was paying the bill;-). Smoking Hot Roommate was hoping I would see the statement and have a fit and then she would cop to the whole thing, but in truth I would have known what was up the second I saw it. If they really wanted to get me, they should have had her spend like $500-$1,000 because then I wouldn't have immediately known what was up. The numbers were so big as to make it clear what was going on...she has used the card like twice in her life, there is no way she was going to suddenly go hog wild and max it out...

Anyway, The Boy took the girls up to his parents house on Saturday night, which gave me and Munchkin a chance to hang out and catch up. We had a very early dinner, then bummed around in our pajamas and watched TV. Asleep by 10:00!!! She didn't appreciate my cuddling efforts and kept kicking me back to my own side of the bed:-)

Total change of subject: What the fuck are we doing in Libya? Did we not already own enough countries, so we figured we needed another one? I am just having a hard time seeing why this is really worth committing troops to for 20 years - which we have absolutely just done. There is no such thing as "just air strikes" when your stated goal is to remove the leadership.

And more to the point, how does this differ dramatically from Iraq, where we debated the issue for months, nitpicked every single report and opinion and never reached a global consensus on the best approach. But here, two days of discussion and everyone is on board for regime change? Something is fishy...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dangerous Combination

In case I haven't really made it clear, there is a simple mathematical equation that has become a key part of my life:

Munchkin + Smoking Hot Roommate = Trouble!

I mean this, of course, in only the most charming way. Munchkin's two pretend sisters make up an incredibly important part of her family, her support structure and her emotional foundation. They have provided positive influences in her life of a magnitude that I could never even begin to accurately describe. They may be pretend sisters, but they are very real friends.

But sometimes, they may not be entirely the best influences;-) I am pretty sure that Big Sis was responsible for the love of drinking things out of Martini glasses. And Smoking Hot Roommate has been known to pick her up early from school if there is some super important sporting event on (speaking of...I took Pittsburgh. For no reason.) But in the full picture of Munchkin's overall awesomeness, the two of them have total authority to do these things, because they are just that good to her.

Anyway, Smoking Hot Roommate was over last night for dinner, and asked me with a little smirk whether or not I had checked my credit card balance this week. Now, it doesn't take a genius to connect the dots on that question...I have a credit card account. It has three cards. One for me. One for The Boy. One for Munchkin. Who is in Paris. France.

Supressing laughter, she copped to having encouraged Munchkin to do some shopping, hoping that I would check the balance in horror before she told me. In fact, she specifically told Munchkin NOT to tell me. Because these are the kinds of jokes that they like to play on me.

To be more accurate, she encouraged her to do a LOT of shopping. Like, "I am not sure whether or not she will be allowed to import that much stuff back into the country" lots...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Super sick...totally LK's fault...she has been sick for a few days before me.

Monday night, I was so cold that I spent the whole evening underneath three blankets and wrapped in a giant sweatshirt, but I still couldn't warm up. Yesterday, I was a freaking mess...headache, sore throat, stomach ache. Even my back hurt!!! So, I stayed home from work and laid on the couch all day, drifting in and out of naps. I also watched the Swedish language "The Girl Who Played With Fire", which was pretty good.

Feeling moderately better today, but not much. At least I am not feeling remotely as light-headed and dizzy as yesterday, which is obviously good! But just to be safe, I have a babysitter coming over after she gets out of school (hopefully 2:30 or so) to help me out. And maybe let me nap a little bit:-)

I guess that's about it...pretty exciting, eh?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Cooking Assistance

Greetings all...remember when I used to blog every day? Wow, that seems ambitious. Heck, when I started, I even blogged every weekend day!!! Oh, how times change. You might think that the quality of my blogging would improve as the quantity decreased, but you would be wrong about that, too;-)

Anyway, let's see...Munchkin and I did some shopping last night because she needed a few things for her trip (a coat, a sweater, some shoes...nothing too exciting). She leaves after school on Friday and will be gone for a week or so...poor kid;-). I am at least a little sad that we don't do our spring break trips anymore, but I suppose there is no rule that says we can't start again in the future.

I have been cooking a lot more lately. Usually I leave work before 4:00, which gives me some time that I have never before had in the evenings...kinda nice. I am still a novice cook, but I think that I may be graduating to intermediate. I am willing to take any and all suggestions...

Actually, I have a random question...I tried making chicken parm the other night, and it came out pretty well, but I have a technical issue. The sauce was just crushed tomatoes with oregano, basil, bay, salt, pepper and some other random spices that I threw in. The chicken was not breaded, I just sauteed it quickly in olive oil with some salt and pepper, and then put it all in a glass 9x13 pan, poured the sauce over it and covered it with shredded mozzarella, Parmesan and provolone.

It was really good, but the sauce ended up getting too watery. So, my question is, how do I get the water out of the tomatoes? Should I try diced tomatoes and drain them? I feel like that won't really solve the problem. Should I cook the sauce longer to boil some of the water off? This is the sort of technical issue that I don't have the skills to figure out on my own.

Help appreciated...

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Enough already!!! And random book thoughts

Seriously, winter, you have had your get the fuck out of here!!! I understand that it is still March, and having spent most of my life in cold weather places, I know darn well that you still have quite a bit of bite left. But for real, 12 degrees? Are you serious? That is just plain cruel...

Moving right along...

In the several weeks, I have read two books...Glen Beck's Broke and Paul Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal. Not surprisingly, they see the world in very different ways;-) You may think that my head is now ready to explode from the conflicting views on the role of government...and notably, the conflicting view of history.

Honestly, while they both kinda make me angry, they are probably both worth reading. At a minimum, they are both consistent in their arguments: Krugman calls for a high-tax, big-government, high-service welfare state, and Beck calls for a low-tax, low-service, small Federal government. But they are both far superior to our current low-tax, high service, big government and therefore big-debt state.

First, on Glen Beck...I know, I know. His show is unwatchable, and he retains some of the overly simplistic confidence in his ideas that many conservative media members have. But, he can be quite funny, and he is much more insightful than most talking heads. This is the third of his books that I have read: Arguing With Idiots was pretty good, An Inconvenient Book was awful, and this is the best of the three.

As a diagnosis of our long-term fiscal problems, he is right on. He may stop one step short of my own thesis on this - that Baby Boomers are evil - but he gets the big issues summed up really well. While the book is clearly partisan (as he is) he doesn't have many nice things to say about many Republicans, either. More than anything, it takes to task the practices of the Federal Government since the 1940's, regardless of who was in charge: spending money without raising it. There is also a very lengthy un-Republican section on waste in the Defense Department.

I would say that my biggest quibble with the book is his insistence that the decreasing role of religion is intimately related to our inability to balance a budget...I just don't think it is that strong an argument. But other than that, most of the diagnosis is pretty solid.

Krugman's book is actually much more partisan, which I don't think is an accident. According to him, there are only two reasons that anyone has voted for a Republican since Eisenhower: either they are incredibly wealthy and strictly looking to protect their financial interests, or they are a stupid, racist white person. You may think I am exaggerating, but that is basically his oft-repeated premise. (Never mind that he glorifies the post-WWII era as an economic and social golden age, which is know, unless you were black, a woman, a potential immigrant or didn't want to weld steel all day long.)

And to be honest, the economics of the book, which should be the strength of it, are pretty weak. He is really big on listing three or four reasons that something happened, and then picking the one he likes best as the most important reason...and the evidence of its importance is not always clear. His passage on "institutions and norms" and their impact on runaway executive compensation is right on, but then he abandons that thesis when he gets to differences in high school and college education rates. In reality, it is the same set of factors...the cultural norms around the importance of education drive the quality of public schools much more than does spending or facilities or teacher training.

The section on Health Care is far and away the best part of it, and is a very sound economic and social case for at least some form of Universal Care. I think he leaves out some important parts (like the role that our overpaying for care plays in driving medical innovation) but from beginning to end it is a really sound, rationale argument. And I say that as someone who is basically leery of the idea of a Government run or sponsored health care system.

Anyway, I hate to get all serious on you here, but that is what I am currently thinking!!!