Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Do you recall . . .

Apparently, companies that sell product made in China do. If you don't follow the news, there have been numerous recalls of products this year that are traced back to poor quality control or deliberate malfeasance on the back of the Chinese manufacturer. The latest is a recall of tires missing a gum strip that helps prevent tread separation - the same problem that got Firestone into a lot of problems back in 2000.

Hitting closer to home for parents with young children are some two dozen toys being recalled. One of the latest announced was the June 13th recall of Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway Toys because 'surface paints on the recalled products contain lead.' Lead paint? Good grief! I thought we got past this as a new problem 30 years ago, but it keeps coming back. Another is the recall of some butterfly necklaces whose clasp contains high amounts of lead.Other recalls include children's jackets whose zippers pose a choking hazard and earrings sold at Kmart which also contain high levels of lead. Some toy drums has also recalled, again for use of lead paint.

In non-lead related recalls, Fisher-Price Rainforest Infant Swings have been recalled. Infants can shift to one side of the swing and become caught between the frame and seat, posing an entrapment hazard. Fisher-Price has received 60 reports of the infants becoming entrapped, resulting in cuts, bumps, bruises and red marks.

Make that 61. Liler'E got caught in ours a couple of days ago, though he wasn't hurt since I was right there watching him. Only after this incident did we find out about the recall. Now we're working on returning the swing.

I must admit, I'm not the best at keeping up with product recalls. I should try to do better about that. If you want to know more about general product recalls, check out the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which lists the latest recalls. I'm adding it on my Miscellanea links list, and plan to start checking it about once a week for anything relevant to me.

Tags:
, , , , ,

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 5

Kristin fasts today, and talks about Health Education Africa Resource Team and about educating our children. Good thoughts. Pray for her today.

I find today that I have a bit of guilt when I go to eat a meal. Knowing that someone else with whom I am collaborating is going without today makes me feel almost traitorous when I take a bite of food. But, ya know, that's the point of all this. We give up a day to remember and help those who don't have the basic things we are fasting from. So, I'll keep praying for Kristin today, and for Chaotic Hammer tomorrow, and Stephanie the day after that.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Day Two

Two days. Two fasts. Two bloggers.

One purpose. One love. One God.

Pray for Kat, as she leads this effort, and for Brant today. Pray for SAM tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The 40 Day Fast

Who:
40 bloggers who will each fast for 1 day.

What:
They will blog about the experience as well as an area of need in the world (either a cause or a country) and an organization that strives to meet that need.

They will also link to the blogger who is fasting on each day of the fast and encourage their readers to join the fast on the 40th day.

Why:
The purpose behind it is to give people an opportunity to:

  1. Experience a bit of need.
  2. Learn about the need in the world.
  3. Do something about it.
(Thanks to Kat for initiating this.)



June 2007
SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
22
Kat
23
Brant Hansen
24
SAM
25
Shaun Groves
26
Kristen
27
Chaotic Hammer
28
Stephanie
29
Stephen
30
Jeanine
July 2007
1
Truevyne
2
Ryan G.
3
Jeremy Thiessen
4
Steven
5
Susanne
6
Valerie
7
William Guice
8
Todd
9
Scott
10
Transition Pete
11
Marianne
12
Mark Jaffrey
13
Michelle
14
Lucas Parry
15
Tim Harm
16
Andrew Osenga
17
Shawn
18
Lorijo
19
Euphrony
20
Brody Harper
21
Amy
22
Erin Mount
23
Dray
24
Jessica
25
Los
26
Mom
27
Ted
28
Charla
29
Rick
30
Tressa
31
Toby


Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, June 18, 2007

Boy, do I ever need this

OCD CycleAt long last, I made it back home Saturday night. I step out of the cab to see that Lil'E had been sitting in front of the door waiting on me for a good while. I loved the reunion and missed my family.

Then came church time on Sunday morning. Ah, for me Sunday mornings get to be about the rush. Everyone has to get up, get moving, get fed and dressed, and get in the car. Punctuality is an obsession of mine. This Sunday was a bit more hectic than many, so I'm on edge. So, what follows this? Why, my dear sweet little girl who waited by the front door decides to push my buttons. During worship, she exhibits - no, flaunts - the fact that she has switched the caps on the markers we gave her to color with. The red cap is on the black, the blue on the brown, the brown on the green, etc. She giggles as she sees me, quite obviously, restraining myself from grabbing them all away from her and putting things right. You see, she knows at the age of four that her daddy is obsessive/compulsive and knows just how to manipulate me for a good laugh on her part.

And then, as we were driving Sunday afternoon, Mrs. E randomly sees a billboard advertising
this: the 14th Annual OCF Conference. I did not realize that there was an Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, much less that they were holding a conference in my back yard next month. We laughed about that; but we both wondered if it was something that I might need, if not today then for the future.

It's no secret that I am, to some degree, OCD; although I am functional, I still have periods where it overcomes me and the results can end up hurting others (as I seek to right what my mind deems wrong). Don't put me in front of a video game, not if you ever want to interact with me again. If I play Tetris, I see the blocks falling in my mind 24/7. If it is something that requires more thought, I find myself strategizing all the time. This obsession I came to grips with when I visited a children's home and found myself playing their Nintendo rather than playing with the kids; I was terribly ashamed.

I mentioned the above marker caps being mismatched - I'm big time into things have to be in their proper place. When people visit our house and help out in the kitchen, they place items back where they think they belong. I follow behind them and completely rearrange things to their "proper" order. Mrs. E knows better and leaves emptying the dishwasher to me. Of course, I'll also rearrange everything someone has put in the dishwasher to a better, more "efficient" order. On the plus side with this, you should see how I can pack up for moving or storage!

I do count, though not so compulsively. I find myself driving and either counting poles and signs, or more often I'll count the time it takes to travel between them or the time between when the car in front of me passes a spot to when I pass the same spot. I know that the cat's eyes (reflectors in the road) are spaced so that when traveling at 60-mph you will pass one every second (that's 88 feet). I've counted the timing on and off over the last twenty years (since before I started driving). Walking through hallways I find myself reaching out to touch the wall at times, especially at corners. Walking down the street, I'll reach out to touch the occasional pole. I'll even arrange my footsteps, either to walk in step with people or to walk with specific spacing on tiled or sectioned floors.

I have no problems with germs. Dirt? Ah, who cares!

Oh, did I mention light switches? You know how sometimes there are two switches that control a single fixture? I hate it that they are not both up or both down at the same time. Hate it. In our living room, there are two lights, each with two side-by-side switches; one of the lights has a third switch on another panel. If that third switch is used, then the side-by-side switches don't match (both up or down at the same time). I will go out of my way to switch the third switch so that symmetry in the side-by-sides is restored. Lil'E also plays on this compulsion, at times.

Let's not talk about proper folding of papers.

So, what do you think? Should I attend this conference? Mrs. E says I should, even at $250 for the conference. Do I sound like a man in need of therapy for his OCD, or therapy for an overactive imagination? Maybe if I go, I won't feel so strange by comparison to some of these wack-jobs, er, obsessive compuslives.

Tags:
, , , ,

Friday, June 15, 2007

Miscellanea

Stavanger, Norway

  1. I've been in Norway for the last week. It is about 37oF cooler here than in my hometown, with a strong breeze.
  2. Stavanger is a lovely city, with many things within walking distance - up and down hills like this.
  3. Whenever I try to do any blogging, I have been having to translate the commands and buttons from Norwegian - Blogger knows I'm in Norway, and thinks I must be Norwegian.
  4. Being only eight days from the longest day/shortest night of the year, it does not get dark here. Seriously. Not dark, as in I can read a book on the street without the aid of any lights. I have seen neither moon nor stars this week.
  5. For a person who is not used to it, not getting any dark can really mess up your sleep patterns.
  6. I ate at a lovely island last night, with the rest of the conference attendees. The restaurant, Flor & Fjære (Flower and Beach), is a thirty minute boat ride from the city. They have palm trees, grapes, olives, and banana trees - among other tropical plants - growing there. Did I mention this is Norway, not the Bahamas?
  7. I did not get back to the hotel after dinner until midnight. I left for dinner at 7:00.
  8. I gave my presentation at the conference this afternoon. When I was getting in my cab this morning, I felt the seam in the seat of my pants rip. Lovely. At least I could go back up and change clothes.
  9. I get on a plane tomorrow morning and leave Stavanger at 6:50 a.m. Tomorrow night, I get to hug my wife and kiddos for the first time in a week. Just in time to share Father's Day with my family. I've missed them!
  10. Don't tell Mrs. E, but I plan on bringing a nice box of chocolates home with me.
Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Gated Community"

It had to be done. This is a song that must be shared with the world. The truth, captured by digitally animated veggetables, cannot be denied. Truly a reflection of our world today. If this reaches just one person . . .


Tags: , , , ,

Monday, June 11, 2007

God Dag fra Norge

Lil'E with stickeritisIt was a close call, but I boarded that big jet plane yesterday and flew to Stavanger, Norway. It was, to say the least, a very long, very trying week. I was sick - sick enough, with a white blood cell count low enough, that we were not sure if it would be safe for me to travel. I contracted a virus, which made me feverish, weak, lethargic, and made my skin hyper-sensitive. Eventually, after three blood tests in one week, we saw on Saturday that my white cell count was coming back up into a normal range and the docs cleared me to fly. To go with my being sick and simultaneously preparing for a trip I was not sure I could make, Lil'E caught the same virus. Except her symptoms were very different - high fever, excess energy
(to enable bouncing off walls while cooped up at home), and these strange blotches on here face. She called it "stickeritis".

Stavanger, NorwaySo, good day from Norway! (God dag fra Norge!). This picture is from my hotel window, looking over a park in the center of Stavanger (at 5 pm). It's a much better view that my last hotel's view, and the shower does not leak into the bathroom floor. However, I still am sleeping on a glorified couch. I should have some free time tomorrow, while I get adjusted to local time and before the conference starts, to do some walking around and see some sights.

As for the flight over, I watched the movie Shooter with Mark Wahlberg. Don't you make the same mistake. I had little to choose from, and I don't know how many times I smacked my head in disbelief that they just did that cliché so seriously. Here is my favorite quote, in reference to Wahlberg's character declaring why he was going to kill a lot of people:

You don't understand how serious this is. They killed my dog.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Contrast: Neil Peart

Buddy Rich was almost obstinate in his refusal to use two bass drums, which became increasingly popular during his life. With his speed, he didn't need two drums. However, it has become commonplace today, even among the great players of today.

Here is Neil Peart, drummer for Rush and extraordinary musician (he write most of the lyrics for Rush's music). Where Buddy Rich exuded personality while he played, Peart is more focused. His playing, often, seems almost casual - like he is simply turning on a light switch. I don't think I can do anything as casually as Neil Pert plays the drums. Another obvious difference is in Peart's use of many drums, even on a rotating stage, while Buddy Rich kept things more basic.

Two different men. Two different styles. Both great drummers.



Notice the crossed-arm drumming that Peart does in this solo (about six minutes into the solo)? That is an homage to Buddy Rich, straight from his playbook.

Tags:
, , , , ,

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Buddy Rich vs. Animal

Some of you may be asking "Who is Buddy Rich ?"

Buddy Rich is well known among percussionists. He was a very good player, if not well liked for his mercurial personality, best known for his power, speed, and ability to improvise. He often would get into drum battles, competing head to head with some of the great players of the day. Here we see him meet his match, with Animal sticking it to him in the end.

Note, though, Buddy's minimalist equipment, especially by today's standards: a single bass drum, rather than two; no fancy rigging; no electronic cues for pre-recorded riffs. Just some serious beating of the skins.


For those who could care less about drumming, or are not amazed at the speed and dexterity with which his hands fly over the drums, I give this alternative. A full page of Drummer Jokes! As a sampling, here is the first on the page:

How do you tell if the stage is level?
The drummer is drooling from both sides of his mouth.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Random Rambling

  1. It pretty well sucks to be sick. I've been feeling very odd for the last week - weak, poor vision, sensitive skin, some fever. The docs say I have a virus, and it is slow getting over it.
  2. I'm headed to Norway again this Sunday, so I sure hope I get over this sickness before hopping a transatlantic flight. I'll be gone for a week, giving a paper at a conference. For those interested, they have some strange ideas in Norway - one of the most environmentally conscious nations and they love their cetaceans (for dinner). They have a couple of slogans:
    "Whales: Intelligent food for intelligent people."
    "If we had dolphins, we'd kill them, too."
  3. Norway also includes portions of Lapland, whose people actually retain their own language. Lapland is known as a traditional home for reindeer (but they've not yet found Santa's workshop). While I'm there, I plan on eating me some Rudolph!
  4. The Norwegians eat a lot of fish - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I will as well, while there. The Norwegians I know best also have a great love for drink. One, in particular, always has a story to tell and has informed me that they have worked out, mathematically, at just what point it is less expensive to buy specific liquors inside Norway, in the duty free zones in airports, or in foreign countries. It is actually less expensive, in some cases, for French wines to be exported to Norway and then re-imported for sale than if it had not been exported in the first place.
  5. I'm also having feline scatological issues. This has been going on for some time, but my cat refuses to use the litter box. I, almost daily, clean the mess off the floor. Mrs. E has suggested sending the cat off to kitty boot camp. Disgusting and frustrating.
  6. After more than a month, it seems the Lil'er E is finally over is bout with thrush. That took a long time, but he is a happy camper these days. He has also been laughing some, but only on Monday's and only for Lil'E and me. Poor Mrs. E has been absent from the room every time.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,