Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy new year!

In the words of Franz Liszt, "Merry Christmas, y'all." (Bet you didn't know he was from SOUTHERN Hungary, did you?)

It's been a busy year at Burton Manor, home of the Burton-Lyfords (or, if you prefer, Lyford-Burtons). We have spent a lot of time adjusting this year. The boys are both doing very well at Montessori School. Kid1 has started kindergarten at The Big School and is learning so much that in two years he'll be overqualified for management. Kid2 is now one of the older kids at The Little School (aka preschool) and is starting to develop leadership skills. However, I don't know if I like his plan of annexing Ohio first. Kentucky seems a better target, but you have to let kids learn.

The boys have also started karate classes, to help with their coordination, concentration, discipline, and appreciation of old Bill Cosby bits. "Now he only picks on jello and whipped cream."

Richard took Eva to her first Indy 500 this year. What a finish! What a first race! Not only was it one of the best finishes ever, it was great for her to see another Andretti loss in her first race. She wrote about it in her blog in June, so you know it's huge if it's been blogged. She may not be too interested in going again, especially on such on a hot day, but it is something everyone should try once.

We took two trips to Brown County State Park this summer. The first was a day-trip to go hiking, with a side stop at the Oliver Winery, which we've been asked if we own now that we wear the Oliver hats. While on the hike, kid2 spotted a bullsnake that kid1 had passed and wanted to step into poison ivy-laced undergrowth to check it out. From a distance, it looked like it might have been a rattlesnake, and that hiss sounded close enough to a rattle. Richard, fortunately, did not need his spare set of boxers, and the boys got a nice lesson: nature is not all Disney. We also saw some wild turkeys in the park, which nearly inspired the adults to crack open the wine on the way home after a day of kid-herding. The second trip was in late summer, right before the boys went back to school. We stayed at one of the Abe Martin Lodge cabins in the woods. It was neat for Eva and the boys, but Richard, having grown up listening to Waylon and Willie, didn't find it quite as fascinating. This didn't involve too much danger, except for short but steep climb at the end of one hike. There was also a huge scary-looking spider near the cabin that inspired all sorts of Tolkeinesque stories, some from the kids.

During the summer, Eva and Richard went to southern Ohio to visit his mother's relatives, the outdoor toilet side of the family. Oddly enough, Eva did not run screaming to the horizon, though that does make sense given the local snake population. That she didn't immediately file for a divorce/annulment is a good sign, though we shouldn't expect her to wear a Git'r'done belt buckle with Daisy Duke shorts any time soon.

One of Richard's highlights was taking the boys to their first Colts game, a pre-season affair with the Bengals. The Colts do know how to do pregame introductions, with both boys' eyes rivetted to the field. A big motorcycle on the field! Fireworks! Cheerbabes! Popcorn! It was the coolest thing in the world!

You may not have heard, but there has been an addition to our family. On that fateful day, Richard called his father to let him know that he was about to become a grandfather again ... of a bouncing baby beagle. As soon as she came into the play area at the Humane Society, we were all sold. Eva dubbed her Perl, after Richard's favorite programming language, and she has become the center of our family life. Eva and kid1 took her to a few basic obedience training classes, and Richard took over when Eva got sick. (Too bad the place only works with dogs, not kids.) Perl is an absolute sweetie, though there are days when Eva is accurate in saying she is "slightly less trouble than she's worth." She still has a lot of puppy in her and has charmed everyone she's met. Our house and life is very dog-oriented. Seeing how Perl and the boys interact, Eva and Richard are now wondering why they didn't get a dog earlier.

Here's hoping for a better new year than the end of this year was. Eva has been sick for four straight weeks and counting, kid2 and kid1 have been sick off and on, and after holding it off for so long, Richard has finally succumbed. Eva wants to call a "do over" on November, but Richard's knowledge of physics and time says that this is unlikely to happen. On the other hand, Richard is considering a correspondence course to be medicine man, starting with the "You Too Can Speak Sioux in Twenty Lessons or Less" cassette series.

Here's to a happier, healthier New Year for all.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Did they finally take me seriously?

I just realized today that it appears my family and loved ones finally took me seriously in my regular affirmatons about the benefits of using the public library collection, the Project Gutenberg e-books, my fussing about lack of space for book storage, and angst over my ever-growing hopper of books to read at my bedside. For the first time in, probably, ever, I didn't get a book for Christmas.

Oh, they all did plenty well with gifts (Star Trek DVD collection! Woo-hee!) but I was shocked to receive not a single piece of literature. Not one. Nada.

And, as the kids said, it was still the best Christmas ever. I was home with my children and family, everyone fairly healthy, well-fed, warm and secure - I really couldn't ask for more, except hoping that everyone else enjoyed the day too. Merry Christmas, all!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I'm trying to make sure this holiday season that I'm logging 10,000 steps a day, to combat the rising digits on the scale with rising digits on a pedometer. I'm doing ok, but have seen no real change in the scale yet, though a previously unwearable pair of jeans has now become merely tight. That's ok for now. I'm also thinking that setting an average goal of 10,000 steps a day in the new year may be something that gets me up and moving, breaks my sedentary habits, and is an exercise I can actually get my heart into (and hopefully, for the holidays I'll get a cool and more usable pedometer to replace my old but servicable one; unfortunately, the reset on that one is prone to jarring and a heartrending 00000 appears midday.) I don't watch tv or sit around much, other than when computing. After wearing the pedometer for a few days without consciously trying to change my habits (although I suppose I must have just by putting on the pedometer!), I found I logged a baseline of 5,000 or so steps 'natively'. After trying to adjust my habits a little - by following the Jane Fonda credo to "park far and walk" to get in shape, I started to get up and moving more - and that surprisingly nudged me up to around 7000 steps easily. Wow, a 40% change with just a little more thoughtfullness. Yesterday, I put the dog on the leash and we went for a trot; this sent me right up to 13,000+ steps.

I'm also planning to log my steps at Check out the nifty widget they have for me, now debuting in my sidebar. I love useless statistics and trivia, and this widget blends them so artfully.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Fiddling with Frappr

I set up a Frappr map a while ago for a set of friends, and then today stumbled upon their "Friends" map feature that allows me to create a map which I could use to let blog visitors note that they've visited. Neat! However it looks pretty lame, brand new and all, with just a few paltry pins in it. It passes muster for a post but definitely not for my tweakily obsessive sidebar - yet. (I have this eerie vision of a beautiful, badge bar type of sidebar where all the badges are only 80 pixels wide and still legible, interesting, and thematic. I must be dreaming.) Help my Frappr map by adding a pin or two and maybe it can make the grade. : ) And thanks to my pal Jenni for (I think accidentally) clueing me in to this feature in Frappr by updating her Frappr profile!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sometimes I spend too much time nailing trees to cliffs

I am finally, finally feeling better and the possibility of resuming my normal life does not seem so remote. I just love this kiwi video. It completely captures my life this month; I have been spending all my time nailing trees to the cliffside, but now it is time for me to fly. Let's just disregard that bit about landing for now, though; I'll figure it out when I get there. I always enjoyed improv.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lala widget

I was thinking recently of how well I like my librarything widget and that there should be similar widgets available for music, video, etc. I googled for something on a Lala widget and found the following courtesy of another blogger, jaXed - thanks fella. I modified it a bit, so blame me for any breaks - it works well on jaXed's site. I'll take a test run in this post before porting it to the sidebar; I'm being cautious since I just moved to Beta Blogger, also I figure discretion is the better part of valor when coding under oxygen deprivation, even when it is just HTML. I have to figure out how to slim this to a width of 80 for the sidebar, by dropping out some of the columns; just shrinking it makes it look like a sheet of microdots.

lala widget

February 22 2008 update: I was alerted by a reader that my widget (and the one I referenced by JaXed) are broken; sorry about that, they did work earlier. Here's what the lala widget used to look like. I wrote to asking for help from them - I will post here again once they answer.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Meming away on a day of gratitude

With courtesies to Liz at Fidoknits, I'm joining this meme to try and cheer me up. My life of late has been focused on trying to breathe and it is tiring. I am so very sick and tired of being sick and tired, and being sick on a holiday is such a double whammy. I am grateful today that I am able to breathe better now, after 3 weeks of not doing so well with this basic activity.

The instructions for the meme are: you can only type one word, no explainations. Go!

1. Yourself: Breathless
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): Monkish
3. Your hair: Panacheful
4. Your mother: apart
5. Your father: Absent-minded
6. Your favorite item: PowerBook
7. Your dream last night: none
8. Your favorite drink: custardchino
9. Your dream car: FX35
10. The room you are in: Dining
11. Your ex: unremarkable
12. Your fear: forgetfulness
13. What you want to be in 10 years? Content
14. Who you hung out with last night? Family
15. What You're Not? Religious
16. Muffins: Pumpkin
17. One of your wish list items: Ahisma
18. Time: fleeting
19. The last thing you did: Childrearing
20. What you are wearing: Levi's
21. Your favorite weather: clear
22. Your favorite book: many
23. The last thing you ate: Cookie
24. Your life: changing
25. Your mood: Down
26. Your best friend: Husband
27. What are you thinking about right now? oxygen
28. Your car: Red
29. What are you doing at the moment? Blogging
30. Your summer: Unpredicted
31. Your relationship status: Married
32. What is on your TV? CyberChase
33. What is the weather like? 7-up
34. When is the last time you laughed? Yesterday

In other news: I am trying and mostly liking OmniWeb, however I am peeved that I have to keep blogging in Mozilla because Blogger acts wonky in OmniWeb. I like Mozilla well enough, but I wanted to use OmniWeb. Darn.

Kudos to another pal, Karen, for joining the blogosphere - I have no idea why I'm surrounded by Blogging Knitters, but if you need more knitting knews check out T-Town Knitiot!

Thursday, November 2, 2006

There goes some of my 15 minutes

I managed to startle my husband today when I wasn't even in the room. He sure puts up with a lot from me. I'm sure his hair was standing on end. (After all, he needs a haircut.) Here's his reaction (overheard at a forum):
Oh .... my .......... God.

I just got a chance to finish listening to this episode, and when you mentioned comments at podcastalley, I wondered if mine would be brought up. (These guys make plays! They make plays!)

It wasn't, but MY WIFE'S WAS. *sigh* First, anyone who is married knows that you can't really force your wife to do something like listen to a sports podcast. Not if you want to sleep soundly, anyway. And now I have to let her know that, with about two minutes to go, she gets her name mentioned on a podcast.

I'm not sure how this will go ...
Thanks to the guys at Bang! Cartoon Radio Hour, my PodCast Alley comment was featured on their weekly program as an outro. It led to a frank and funny discussion of humor in relationships, which I thought was pretty good fruit to bear for a little seed of a comment. I'm still amazed that they pronounced my name correctly, too. Here's a link to a clip from their 'cast: Clip.mp3

Note to the listening public: PodCasting is hard work, and if posting something to the Alley helps a Podcaster keep on with their work, it is the least you can do to post a vote!

Artwork and audio credit to the fellows at Bang Productions.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Meme tracking

I found this at Cipriano's blog , crediting Dorothy W., who credits Dr. Crazy who credits Anastasia, but the blog link is broken there and I couldn't continue the meme's trail.

1. Grab the nearest book.

I had to modify this a bit, because the nearest book was Machines at Work by Byron Barton, a board book which my 4-year-old checked out from the library recently. It has only 31 pages. So, I cast further afield, and the next nearest book is one my husband is reading off my bookshelf, something I'd acquired pre-matrimony.

2. Open the book to page 123.

Ok. Easy enough.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

Yah. Here 'tis: "You just keep slinging the same bullshit! shouted the SUBbie, and slammed back into his seat."

4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog along with these instructions.

"Casimir Radon listened to these exchanges with consuming interest. This was what he had dreamed of finding at college: small lectures on pure ideas from the president of the university, with discussion afterward. That the SUBbies had disrupted it with a pie-throwing made him sick; he had stared at them through a haze of anger for the last part of the meeting. Had he been sitting by the side door he would have tripped the bastard."

5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

Uh, see the example; I clearly didn't.

6. Blog visitors should guess the book referenced. Good luck!

Photo credit: Jay Queue at Flicker. I have a personal connection to the building displayed in the photo, and it also concerns the book I reference. For clues, click the link to his photostream.

Monday, October 2, 2006

New pup

We have a new beagle puppy at home, and finally found a name that fit her: Perl. She is extremely affectionate, eager to please, and gentle. We got her from the "older puppy" room at the humane society of Indianapolis. As an 8-month-old she came house-trained, leash trained, and is very people-friendly. She was picked up as a stray, although from her behavior I think she was abandoned. She recognizes a lot of basic commands like "sit" although the humane society staff says they didn't teach her these. She has a few scars from her days roaming and bays when left alone. Speaking of baying, she has the most amazing voice - it sounds like she's singing. I've only ever heard her bark once, other than the baying.

She has some hilarious facial expressions, and is all about her nose - she wuffles and snorts her way around the house. We repaired the fence, and she is taking to squirrel chasing eagerly. The squirrels look quite astonished, so far as a rodent can look astonished.

The boys are really happy to have her home, though I'm having to work with Oliver on being gentle and not hugging her too hard (especially since she still has stitches from surgery).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Elephant mania in Indy; the baby debuted

Here is the news story: Indystar: Ivory's baby

The story discusses nursing - the baby gets up at night to eat, so I guess they family bed too.

Oh, and mom "decides" to wean when baby gets tusks - I was wondering how nursing would work with tusks anyway!

Ivory is the mother's name. I hate the name. It seems like the equivalent of naming a horse "Glue". I hope the baby gets a better name.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Falling and fire

What must it be like, in the last moments of a relatively normal life, to have to choose how you will die? There must me a moment of stupefying horror at the realization that your remaining choices aren't anything as mundane as tall or grande, but whether you will stay and burn or jump. I can't imagine what people went through making this choice 5 years ago today. But I do hope, for one of them, that the choice wasn't just over this way of death or that one. Maybe there was someone that decided, for 10 seconds of a life cut too short, to take control of a chaotic day and chose to fly for the experience of it - a last chance to hold and have life, however briefly, rather than have it turned to ashes. The photos and images of the jumpers are what stay with me from that day; the inferno and collapse are too much at times to encompass, but the righteous humanity evident in taking charge of those last moments is something I mourn. Peace to them all and their families.

Thanks to Mike Faurote for sharing the fallen leaf image on Flickr.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Limericks and road trips.

I'm travelling this weekend to Chicagoland. I've packed Seize the Daylight for the trip; this is my light road-worthy reading. My hardcover copy of Team of Rivals is too darned nice to risk scuffs in the totebag.

Today, I did a brief presentation titled "13 feet in 5 minutes." It went fairly well. The topic was Limericks. This gave me reason to read one of my favorites, by an anonymous person:
There was a young lady from Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And a smile on the face of the tiger.
In the presentation, I emphasized the use of limericks as a vocabulary-building exercise; that reading limericks by authors who use obscure words can make those words lodge more permanently in your gray matter, and that by writing them you can revitalize little-used words in your own memory when trying to complete an interesting rhyme. I also learned a few things about the topic myself. I never imagined, for example, that my favorite could be disparaged due to having a repeated word and a sight rhyme - the best sort of limericks avoid these crutches, according to some. For more fun - and very original limericks, see The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form.

Hooray for Craigslist

Selling a truck in Indiana isn't hard, but wow was it easy with a listing on craigslist. The biggest problem was managing all the emails! I had about 20 responses since I posted it Monday at midnight, 10 of those were serious, got an offer and sold the truck tonight. Wow, I'll use the list again in a heartbeat. Usually selling a car is such a pain, waiting for test drivers & etc...

Monday, August 28, 2006

I Claim thee in the name of England!

I'm now listing my blog so that I can be found. Link to my Technorati Profile.

Monday, June 5, 2006


The first love of my life is reading. Nothing compares to it. There are activities I like better, sure, but as for solo pursuits reading is tops. Learning, exploring, expanding the mind - all of these and more have come to me by way of the written word. As a paean to literature, in forms both high and slimy, I start this blog to meander through the world of letters.

evagation - \Ev`a*ga"tion\, n. The act of wandering; excursion; a roving or rambling.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

These nap supervision gigs are great if you can get 'em.

Actually, I mean "please wish me luck as I am home with my kid who threw up at school today."

Apparently, he sucked down a mustard packet in one gulp at lunchtime and does not share my affinity for mustard. I suspect it was on a dare from one of the older kids, but can't confirm it.

We're following my standard policy for getting sent home from school; he was sent to nap and is already asleep. Home from school sick days can't be fun, after all, or I suspect I'd get called to pick up more often. Though I don't think it is an illness, per se, he is looking kind of peaked and fell asleep really easily. I'm now working from home. Enjoying a chance to catch up on laundry, too.

Mustard photo credit by greefus groinks

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Bystanding gawkers or good samaritan cells?

On NPR yesterday morning I heard: Babies' Cells Linger, May Protect Mothers. Very touching, if true - and I also liked the discussion by the scientists of how they have to resist being seduced by the hypothesis while continuing to work towards proof.

In sum: the article discusses an unexpected finding, that in healthy mothers fetal cells from all her pregnancies are found in her bloodstream, and are found in particular abundance near sites of injury or disease. Whether the cells are helping a'la stem cells, hurting the mother, or simply bystanding hasn't been proven, but the scientists are leaning towards - and evidence suggests - that the fetal cells may be helping the mother recover from injury or disease.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ipod fodder

Check out the American Rhetoric Site for great speeches to add to your ipod.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

2005 Festivus Greetings

It’s been a busy year, so I feel I should catch you up on the events of 2005.

After lo these many years, I asked Eva to marry me, and she said yes, the poor deluded fool. I’ll never forget the proposal; on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the weekend of the US Grand Prix. I wanted to make a point of asking her that weekend, since Raphael’s “La Fornarina” was on exhibit and she’s such a Ferrari fan.

We were married in August at The Milano Inn, an old Italian restaurant downtown full of old Italians; our first dinner date was there, it held special meaning, and I don’t just mean the Chicken Vicki. The wedding went well, and I only passed out three times: twice from nerves, once from the bar tab. Well, that’s family for you; they’re getting sticks for Christmas.

That’s the biggest news, aside from the fun Colts games. (One must maintain one’s priorities, after all.) And yes, She Who Must Be Obeyed is a Colts fan and insisted we keep those tickets, much to my elation.