Our first video of the little one.

So, raising a small child is no small task – as any parent who doesn’t retain the services of a nanny can tell you.  One of the few regrets I have at this point is my reading time is near kaput.  Zip.  Zero.  Non-existent.  I can pretty much only catch time when I’m traveling or in the unlikely combination of sleeping baby and no chores to do (yeah, right!).

What this means is I’m looking forward to an upcoming trip so I can finish a book I started several weeks ago and am only half way through – America’s Constitution: A Biography, by Akhil Reed Amar.  It’s a well written analysis of what the Constitution says/means and provides some great historical perspective.  I mean really, how often have you read the Constitution – NOT the first ten amendments?  Most people, myself included, focus more on those amendments than the meat of the Constitution that formulates the government, voting, etc.  It’s been an interesting read and I can’t wait to finish the last half.

The Mrs. and I, not yet even 30, have a strong obsession with retirement – specifically with building / renovating a house to our own desires. We’ve moved around so much in the past that we haven’t found the justification to spend the time, effort, and money on major remodels of any house we’ve owned. It just hasn’t been worth it. So instead, we surf the internet looking for land we could build on, but probably won’t buy. We buy books and magazines for architectural / layout / just-plain-neat ideas.

In general we’ll cycle through a low and high period of ‘Dream House’ contemplation every 3-4 months. Every cycle we refine, just a little bit, what features we want and what details we’re willing to sacrifice in order to keep the cost ‘reasonable’. We’re not looking for a 5,000 sqft house with Cape Cod beach front and a helo pad, but as a ‘forever home’ we aren’t exactly going economical in all aspects.

The basic idea is a house in the Northwest with ready access to infrastructure like major airports and Home Depot, preferably Portland. Approximate size of the house is 1,800 to 2,000 sqft. We got those numbers based on the space our current hobbies require and anticipating future growth to those hobbies once we retire (i.e. we MUST have a dedicated library). We’re fans of the Not So Big House concept, but aren’t going to take ‘smaller is better’ to the extreme.  An open floor plan is highly desired.

Just last week while reading the most recent Better Homes and Gardens magazine, we saw an article on a bungalow that sparked a new peak in the Dream Home frenzy. The bungalow was based on a plan created by The Bungalow Company – the name aptly describes what they do. After surfing their site for a while we determined that a) we’re big Arts and Crafts bungalow / cottage fans, and b) we found a plan that matches 80% of what we’ve talked about previously: The Manzanita (Option 1).

It’s bigger than we really want and obviously set up for a household of 4+ (by the time we retire ours will be 2), but we’re sure it can be massaged as necessary. The interior pictures are good – although their photographer needs to figure out how to adjust for windows in every shot so we can see more of the kitchen.

Our favorite details are 1) the laundry upstairs where the bedrooms are, 2) the wall cut-out in the stairs so people descending can see the fireplace in the living room, and 3) the nook in the kitchen that opens into the entry and living room – it looks like a perfect place for grandkids to work on a puzzle / play cards while dinner is being cooked.

So much fun to dream and plan. :)

Via Instapundit, I learned today that Serenity was voted best Sci-Fi movie by readers of SFX magazine.  It beat out Star Wars (2), Blade Runner (3), and the Matrix (5).  SFX readers are the core of the hard-core sci-fi fans, so I’m not real surprised Serenity took the top spot.  It’s an outstanding movie and I highly recommend the TV series Firefly which is what Serenity is based on.  If you haven’t seen either, I can’t recommend them enough.

For those who don’t know, the Mrs. and I like to shoot.  It’s a fun sport and we’re somewhat good at it (the Mrs. picked up some gold at a national championship when we were in college and I may have a medal or two of lesser status).  So we have a vested interest in the right to keep and bear arms (RKBA) that is enshrined in the Second Ammendment.  My blogroll has a couple bloggers who write on this issue from time to time and do a much better job of it than I can.

This is a long way of saying that you should go read this essay by Kevin of The Smallest Minority.  He does a thorough take-down of an anti-gun/gun control supporter using logic and simple statistics.  It’s a fairly compact summary of most anti-gun arguments and the proper counter-arguments.

Go.  Read.

If you click on ‘More’, you’ll see part of an email that was forwarded to me from one of the higher-ups at work. I imagine something like this would snag me…it’s sneaky. That said, a quick internet search revealed it may not be entirely true. From About.com (http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_credit_card_fraud.htm):

There’s no way to verify whether this anonymous, first-person account is authentic, but the type of fraud it warns against is real enough, so the message is worth heeding even if it is slightly misleading.

It’s misleading in that it gives the impression that this type of scam is brand new and only pertains to the three-digit security code now found on the backs of most credit cards. In reality, it’s a very old and familiar form of fraud that requires credit card holders to be protective of all the information pertaining to their accounts.

Any of these individual bits of information may be just what the scammer needs to “fill in the blanks” and gain full access to your account, so beware.

(more…)

A Merry Christmas and happy holiday to everyone.  I thought I’d pass on one of our holiday traditions.  On Christmas Eve the Mrs. and I settle into a cooking frenzy in anticipation of Christmas brunch and our annual Christmas Eve dinner – mac & cheese and hotdogs.  After making a breakfast casserole for the next day we toil on a gourmet mac and cheese dish with a garnish of hot dogs.

This was born, as all good traditions are, out of a unique event that became a signature dish for the Mrs. and I when we were first married.  Our first Christmas together we couldn’t find anything tempting for dinner in the larder.  On a whim, the Mrs. decided she was craving mac & cheese.  I can’t stand mac & cheese from a box without a hotdog to cut that cheese (yes, I appreciate the irony of using fake meat to deal with fake cheese).  The next year we successfully found a better recipe for mac & cheese and we’ve used it ever since.

Whatever your traditions are, I hope they strengthen familiar bonds and give the holidays the warm glow of happiness.

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