Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Stacey, my mom, and I went up to beautiful Delta Ohio this Saturday and brought back Heidi the Siberian Husky:

We bought her from a Husky rescue group, and dealing with them was both inexpensive and painless. If you're looking for a young adult pet, I recommend trying a rescue group.

Heidi is affectionate, energetic, and fun to have around. Stacey loves her, the kids in the neighborhood enjoyed playing with her, and she enjoyed trying to jump on them and lick them as I tried to keep her down on all fours. I picked this breed because of its reputation as being kid-friendly, as at some point during the week at least 4 of the 8 neighborhood kids come over for dinner, wreck Stacey's playroom and bedroom, play in the backyard, etc, and we needed a dog didn't have aggressive tendencies or stranger anxiety.

Read more about Siberian Huskies here.

Heidi already understood a few hand gestures and verbal commands, but more importantly is interested in trying to figure out what you mean, which I think will make her easier to train.

We've introduced her to most of the kids in the neighborhood and their parents, and it was relatively painless to coax her into not jumping up on them all, but she really wanted to. Everyone but one girl liked her and petted her, and a couple of the kids have asked me and Stacey to bring her out to play with. The girl who stayed away is shy around new things for awhile anyway. Ironically, one of her two dogs is a Husky, so she'll probably come around.

No biting or aggression, although she has done a little playful nipping once with me when we were playing, and was remorseful when I told her to stop. I think the only real problem we'll have is getting her to settle down in the dog park, where she is playful, but a little domineering with the smaller dogs, and once she gets excited she wants to go meet all the people and jump up on them. I'm confident that will work itself out, though. On our next couple visits to the dog park, I'll keep her leash on, and work on some voice control beforehand.

She's comfortable with us, and although she has a lot of energy, she already lays down in the family room when we're watching TV and doesn't demand constant attention, just as long as she can stay in the room with us. She's also comfortable sleeping beside the bed, or in it if I let her. If I make her get down, she doesn't mope. Good natured dog, we're definitely happy with her.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Back to normal

By the grace of God, a good sized tax return, and my .mac calendar, Stacey and I have made it through the busy season of little kid activities, and are returning to standard daddy/daughter time. This Sunday was the first in a long time that wasn't busy or rained out, so we went down to the local park to learn some soccer and softball basics, and capped the day off by inviting some of the neighborhood kids over for dinner, my famous oven-fried chicken and cream of chicken rice.

Stacey's first tap recital was Saturday, which was the last major activity before her trip to Oregon at the end of the school year. The recital was interesting, it was mainly about a select few high school senior girls who were skilled and in about 5 or 6 acts each. Stacey's class was in one act, where they danced to a big-band tune that had a Squirrel Nut Zippers sound to it. She was happy to be on stage again, and happy to get her flowers and trophy at the end.

Next on my Stacey agenda is this year's birthday party this August, which I already have planned and partially paid for. The theme this year will be climbing. We're going to a place that has rope courses and climbing walls, and letting Stacey and her fellow 9 year olds climb on the ones that don't go up too high. Should be a lot of fun.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A haypenny will do

Prize tickets at my favorite video game parlor buy about a half-cent to two-thirds of a cent of prize value. Some of the prize categories are stuffed animals, childrens games, Barbie stuff, RC cars, OSU memorabilia, CDs, game cartridges, consoles, and handhelds, and miscellaneous cheap doo-dads for the kids who didn't win very many tickets.

I've been playing there for the better part of a year now, and can bring in close to 1000 tickets on 8 quarters on my favorite game, VRS Marbles. That works out to somewhere between 60 and 80 cents of prize value per quarter spent (my old website has a lengthy article about my habit).

"So what, you foul braggart" you ask? Allow me to explain.

In the recent past, Stacey and I have used ticket caches to purchase birthday presents for her friends, usually a big stuffed animal, and usually a big hit. Last December, I used some tickets to buy Christmas toys for a children's charity that AEP sponsors, which felt good to contribute to.

Stacey saw a 20,000 ticket item that she wanted, and I don't know what it is, but I'm saving up the tickets for her anyway. I've been playing aggressively over the last two weeks, and have saved up about 18,700 tickets so far, each ticket counted and thrown into the back of my car in giant stacks. Good game play tonight will put me over the 20,000 mark.

Hitting the game's jackpot score takes intense concentration, good timing and reflexes, and quick planning. It's mentally tiring. I'm dreaming about patterns of marbles now, and I can't go more than a few hours without thinking about the game. After hitting my ticket goal, I'm going to stay away from the place for a little while.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Last week's goings-on

My kid is still a genius. She passed four time-trial multiplication tests in two weeks, the first try on each of them. She had previously missed a time (nines, I believe) and had to take it again, and afterwards became a drilling, flash card reading machine so that it wouldn't happen again. The test requires writing the answers to 16 questions in 30 seconds. Try it. Try it with a random set of 12s questions. I managed to make the time with a few seconds to spare, but then again I can also drive a car, something I wouldn't expect a third grader to need to do.

I survived my third reorg in eight years without getting laid off or fired. This is one of those things that makes me unhappy with big business and yearn to become self-employed. Some reorgs are legitimate attempts to better structure a company, some are unnecessary and serve as a front to shake up an organization so the less desirables don't have a place to land, and most have a curious side-effect of saving the company a lot of money in salaries. I tend to believe my current company is trying to solve some internal development and communications problems with this reorg, and hopefully that will be the net effect. My last company had some unchecked politics that tended to favor those who followed the party line and kept their mouths shut when they saw things they didn't like. Honest and moral people tended to get either beaten into submission (metaphorically) or laid off. I was pleased to leave that atmosphere.

I survived a month without using a credit card. Going back to cash-only required only a couple of weeks of skimping, and a major rewrite of my budget spreadsheet. Now I simply substitute a debit card for a credit card, don't eat out, and watch the numbers very closely. By my current estimate, I'll have the card paid off and in the trash by the end of the year, along with my second mortgage. After that, I'll have extra money to pay off my car loan early, and then more extra money to put into Stacey's college fund, my retirement, and the home mortgage. All I need to do is keep my job, learn to love Ramen Noodles, and wait.