Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Call For Data Points

I was recently contacted by a prof at the University of Texas, who asked if I might help him with a study he is doing about Stay at Home Dads. I agreed. So if you're a SAHD, you might want to follow the link here or over there on the side to the study questionnaire.

Its basically a series of questions about your attitudes towards various aspects of life, work, and family, with an emphasis on things that would apply to our particular situation. The survey doesn't ask anything that struck me as terribly outre', and no personal information is taken, so in my view there are no privacy concerns.

Let's give this guy some data!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Um, Hello, there

Well, it has been a while. There comes a point in every blog's life, some sooner, some later, when you to decide if this is still fun or a chore. For my part, I always wanted this to be more than an on-line diary. But the simple truth is, as I wrote once before (I forget when and I'm too lazy to try and find it), that as time went by and this strange "new" life became simply "my life", new insights to pass on came further and further apart, and all there was to talk about was doorbells, and school hijinks, and the best way to make a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich.

Woof, that was a long sentence.

But now this basically is an on-line diary, where I try to wax whimsical about the things that I see wander by every week. I'll have to see how that continues to grab me.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Post Thanksgiving, Pre-Christmas

Sorry for the lack of updates. We had a busy November, including a wonderful visit by Trish's sister Leslie and her beau, Mike. It was Leslie who helped us so much in decorating our house, and she also had good words on contractor choosing and how much work to try and get done before moving in.

They were here a week over Thanksgiving, and a heckuva week it was. We had enormous amounts of wonderful food and all kinds of great wine, trekked down to the ranch for stargazing, canoed, rode bikes, and generally had a blast. Mike was very patient with Jacob, and seriously earned his keep in my eyes by regularly making killer margaritas. Leslie also finished this massive paint job on the hall bathroom, this amazing undersea motif, with sea creatures of all kinds, sunken ships, etc.

As good a time as that was, I was a week recovering. I did get most of the Christmas lights up on the house. Most of the light gear is still out front, as I hope to do some more any day now, but any day keeps getting pushed back. Then there's the Christmas tree to decorate, and gifts to buy. I also need to send Jake's grandmother a list of suitable choices. And I have all of two things picked out for people to choose for me, exclusive of the stuff on my Amazon wish list. I always have a tough time picking out stuff for others to get for me. At least, stuff that is under budget and not of a technical nature. Trish refuses to buy me anything having to do with computers, for fear she will make a mistake. For my part, after the last fiasco, I avoid buying her any sort of clothing more complex than a scarf.

At least Jacob's Advent calendar is mostly filled with goodies.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Various Ruminations

I think 90% of my hits are Google searches. Which means only 10% of them are actually people coming here to read. Well, when one updates at most once a week, you can't complain about traffic.

Its finally feeling like Fall around here. Despite a couple of prior cool snaps, today (as I write this) was the first time we had a truly blustery day. Leaves blew, a few branches broke off, the air chilled. It has also caused seed pods from our giant oak tree to fall onto the carport with a sound like guns going off in the street. Trish to remarked that it’s a good thing we don't have a metal roof over the whole house, or we'd be diving under the couch on a regular basis.

We had a tin roof on my grand-dad's old place. No nut-dropping trees, but I recall it could be kinda loud when it rained. Despite the noise, tin or other metal roofs are making a bit of a comeback. They are almost impervious to hail, and the lighter colored-ones reflect light and heat and so contribute to energy efficiency in hot areas (like here).

Next week is Thanksgiving, which means that soon after I need to put up the Christmas lights. This being only our second Christmas in this house (and since during the first one I didn’t even know where the lights were, much less care about putting them up), I have NO idea how they should be put up. Well, not quite NO idea, but very little idea, I can tell you that.

Huh. That reminds me that it is almost our first anniversary of moving in here. Amazing that it has been nearly a year already. Wowzers.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Bit of a Confession

I used to spend a lot more time reading blogs than I do now. Political blogs, the SAHD blogs, whatever. I kept up with everything, it seemed. Nowadays I don't do that. In fact, I realized that I hadn't even looked at the blogs in my link list in a very, very long time.

I finally did yesterday, and discovered that almost half of them have either vanished or quit updating months ago. Guess some housekeeping is in order soon.

I feel a bit guilty. I know some of those folks still pop in here from time to time, and occasionally they even leave comments. Sorry, folks. I'll try to pay more attention in the future.

Still, I think I can trace my decline in following other SAHD adventures pretty closely to the degree that being a SAHD evolved from being this strange thing I was learning how to deal with to…what I am. Kinda funny, that.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


It's funny being one of the Afterschool Moms. Well, I suppose I should say, one of the Afterschool Parents, but I'm pretty much the only Dad out there on anything like a regular basis, so…one goes with the name that’s already there.

I may have posted a long time ago about what it was like to wait for the bus with Jake, and how the moms there on our block seemed unsure what to do with me. I never really felt as though I were accepted. I was a dad hanging out in their mom-space, and no-one was comfortable.

It has taken a while, but hanging out after school almost every day so Jake can play for a while has literally gotten me a place at the table. The picnic table, to be precise (there are 2-3 picnic tables set up around the playground). There, school policies are dissected, teachers compared, summer programs evaluated, and world problems occasionally solved.

I mostly just sit and listen, though I do contribute. I am most uncomfortable, oddly enough, when things get silly, because, lets face it folks, guy silliness is not quite the same as gal silliness, and I'm afraid I might overstep the bounds were I to cut loose.

Its cool, though I am slightly disappointed that Trish gets the invite to the "Mom's Only" party instead of me. :-)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tripping the Lights Fantastic...

I eventually got that water filter for the ice maker installed. I had to stand in front of the tubing fixtures at Lowes for a good 30 minutes before finding the right ones, but they did the trick. No sprays, no drips. Gotta love that Teflon tape.

In the end, though, I also had to clean out the freezer and the refrigerator sections in order to get rid of all the stuff that was contributing to the funny-tasting ice. Probably should wipe down the freezer more often.

But anyway, on to the topic at hand...

So when we were working on this house I got into compact fluorescent bulbs. They've been around for a while, and what with the cost of oil and whatnot, they've gotten a real push here lately. I'm sure you've seen them. They are getting pushed because they use less energy, put out less heat for the same light, and last longer. They cost a lot more too (and have a bit of mercury in them, so recycle the suckers, don't just toss them), but the trade-off is supposed to be worth it. I bought an early one years ago for a lamp, but in those days, "compact" was relative. The thing wouldn't fit in the lamp, and I lugged it around for years before putting it into an outside light socket.

The first CFL's were a bit bigger than incandescents, and had a small but noticeable and annoying delay before they came on. Some of them made a buzzing noise, too. And, that little swirly shape just didn't look right. It was with these things in mind that I selected the first batch of CFL's for this house.

The initial ones were some brand called Bright Effects. They were enclosed bulbs that looked like slightly larger incandescents, and they advertised that they came on instantly. And so they did, but rather dimly. Over a period of a minute or so, they brighten to full. You can actually see the light coming up as they do that. Well, that wasn't quite what I was hoping for. I'm not sure I can describe it right, but somehow the initial dimness of a room with these lights made it a less pleasant place, even after the lights had brightened.

As a temporary measure, I mixed in some different brand swirlies that did the delay thing but came on full brightness. So the lights were mixed, but at least the brightness issue was dealt with. I wound up doing this in several places.

Recently, I had some old incandescents go out and got a bunch more CFL's to replace them. I stayed away from the Bright Effects this time, and decided just to put up with the swirly shape (how often does one look directly at a light bulb, anyway?). The next batch were Sylvanias, and I think some technological shifts had happened in the meantime, because most of these came on with no delay I could notice, and came on full blast as well. I noticed this because I was nearly blinded when the 150W equivalent CFL I put in the tool room blasted on as soon as I flipped the switch.

Cost or no cost, I might ditch some of those old Bright Effects for these new guys so I don’t have to worry about dim start-ups or mixed bulbs.

I have to say I like these things. Some people don't like CFL's because they don't like the quality of the light, but 1) I don't mind that much and 2) they have done a lot to make the new CFL's a lot less, err, fluorescent-looking than they used to be. They are also a LOT cooler burning. No doubt about that at all. You still wouldn't want to grab one bare-handed, but they won’t turn a closed room into an oven, either.

One oddity for me is that people are used to measuring their light's brightness in watts, which is a unit of power, as opposed to lumens (or even candela or candles), which is the light brightness measure. That sort of made sense in the old days, but now its making things confusing, because as you may have noted above, the CFL's are put out in "brightnesses" corresponding to the old wattages people are used to, 40-60-75, etc, even though a 150 "Watt" CFL only uses 37.5W to get the same amount of light. And most lamps and light fixtures are also rated in regard to incandescent bulbs. I'm certain you could stick that 150W equivalent CFL into a lamp only rated for a 60W bulb, because the CFL pulls only a bit over 1/2 the power (and heat!) while spitting out 2.5 times as much light as the 60W.

If you haven't done so already, I'd suggest making an investment in these things as your old incandescents give out. I think you'll be pleased.