Monday, March 30, 2009

Grandkid sleepover madness!

Important note about the NCAA Tournament: I don't care any more.

The grandkids actually got to have a sleepover somewhere other than at a hospital - they spent Sunday night at our place! It was mostly fun, although I tend to forget how inexhaustible their demands for pretending can be. Things like tea parties involving whole fruit in the cup, being a pirate who locked the princess in a tower (three times, each with slight revisions involving a super dog and the pirate being a bit daft), and endless hours of making a variety of stuffed animals talk in comical voices.

In any case, here are some pictures.

Mrs Notthat found a small bicycle somewhere that the grandkids have been dying to use. It's had two flat tires so it's been just laying around. On Sunday, The Boy and I managed to get air to stay in the tires long enough for Riley to sit on it and immediately fall over. Riding on two wheels is a bit more tricky than the average three-wheeled vehicle. The bike has laid on its side since. (But once the weather actually gets nice I will suit them up in body armour and teach them how to fall without getting scraped. Well, at least bad enough to require a trip to the hospital.)

We set up the teepee as a kind of windbreak, and it was good fun for a bit, but the wind and less than graceful grandkids kept us busy repairing it.

Riley wanted to help water various plants and fence rails. Amazingly, he managed to not water himself.

Darci then had her turn (and a LOT more water ended up on the plants).

The sleeping arrangements involved the kids and Mrs Notthat all in the same room. Mrs wanted to be there in case Riley was to wake up with breathing issues. Riley woke up with "where the heck am I?" issues instead. The kids were excited about all these beds. For a bit.

Darci ended up having a meltdown for the ages during the official toothbrushing period. It was loud. And sustained. And extremely frustrating since nothing could be done to calm her down except waiting for her to wear out, which she finally did. Riley, in the meantime, fell asleep on the couch.

The next morning, Darci woke up perky and composed after a good night's sleep. Everyone else was dragging. Here she stirs the strawberry pancakes.

Darci wanted hot chocolate, so I had her spell out "chocolate" using the magnetic letters. She was creative at coming up with substitutes for missing letters.

Meanwhile, Riley played with his Hot Wheels sets. He refused to explain the purpose of the purple bungee cord, but insisted it was required.

And that's about it. Both kids are on a variety of medications, some requiring a loud mini-air compressor, and seem to be getting better.

We hope the improvements continue.

That's it - move along...

PS: The big news around here was a small earthquake this morning. It was big enough that you were sure what it was, but small enough to not do any damage at all. Of course, it will be the lead story on the news for at least a week.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Some updates and Darci gets organized

Just a few quick updates on the past week's posts plus some Darci fun.

Riley is back in the hospital, although things are not very serious (but serious enough that he will probably be staying one more night). This is particularly troubling since this was the weekend that WHM and NCN were to go off to a springtime Yosemite while we kept the kids for a couple of nights. It's their fourth anniversary (we call ours Pansy Day - I've no idea what they call theirs, but there's a chance it isn't fit for a family blog).

Hopefully they will manage to squeeze some goody out of the weekend, but it won't be what had been hoped for. In any case, Riley was in great spirits, considering where he is, and everyone is coping as best they can.

The picture up top relates to my next two items: IDT's eye and Darci's organizational skills.

IDT does not like getting drops in his eye. Who would have guessed that? In any case, as you can clearly see in that picture, things are looking better (or so Mrs Notthat says - I don't see much of a change, but then he could start wearing a nose ring and I probably wouldn't notice that either).

Yesterday Mrs Notthat watched Darci while Riley was getting situated. Darci decided to organize our Disney VHS tape library. See if you can guess her criteria. 

Basically, she grouped all the animal movies together and then all the people movies together. She had trouble working out what to do with Toy Story though, and put it in the middle. It's a little disturbing that she put Barney with the people, and seems to think that bugs are more animalish than mice, and that 101 Dalmatians is more about Cruealla DeVil than all those dogs, but it's pretty amazing that at 4 ("4 and a half grandpa" she would correct me) she is noticing and caring about such things.

And finally, the Jayhawks. They lost last night, but that's OK. I've heard rumors (unsubstantiated, except for the fact they were typed right in my face) that not everyone shared my enthusiasm. Again, that's OK. I still have Missouri and Oklahoma to follow, so I can ease my way into the baseball season. The hat that WHM made for me worked pretty well - the Jayhawks ended up MUCH better than expected - and there is always next year.

That's it - move along...

PS: WHM = Weird Haired Mom, winner of Klub Kaiser's frequent stayer award (non-sick person division). NCN = Needs Cool Name = grandkids dad. IDT = Idiot Dog Teddy, who got a nice walk this morning with our stunningly nice weather.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Idiot Dog Teddy goes to the doctor

Several months ago a cyst (or something like that - I'm not a doctor) appeared in the corner of IDT's right eye. It didn't seem to bother him and he didn't spend any time scratching at it or rubbing it. So we ignored it.

Until last week.

I was getting ready to head to work and I gave him a goodbye face rub and was a bit alarmed that my hand ended up with blood on it. I worked out that it wasn't gushing, washed my hands, and headed out the  door. And then came back in when I worked out that he had rubbed his face on my pants (I later found out that my shirt was not spared either - weirdly this was one of the days that I visited the grandkids at Klub Kaiser).

In any case, it was decided that it was time to take IDT to the dog doctor. And today Mrs Notthat did just that. This is not a job for the faint at heart, and I was more than a little nervous that she volunteered to do this on her own. 

IDT has the social skills of Darth Vader when he is around other dogs, and it seemed likely that there would be other dogs at the dog doctor. But it turned out fine - there were no other dogs to test Mrs Notthat's (and the leash's) strength. 

I fully expected him to come home wearing one of those humiliating cones, but instead there is just a small bottle of drops we get to put in his eye.

If you look REALLY closely and have a GOOD imagination, you can see the cyst in the picture.

But it would have been more fun to see him in a cone.

That's it - move along...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My new office production enhancement device

I sit in a cluttered office filled with thousands of dollars worth of high-tech computer gear, and the thing that has gotten the most attention is my new $13 red rubber ball.

I bought this on sale at a sporting goods store with the intent to use it as a part-time office chair/back strengthening device. The box clearly stated that it contained a 75 cm gray ball. When I opened it, there was a red ball with a paper that said it was 65 cm. Further reading and some quick math (really, how many of you know how big 75 cm is? Would it fit under a 28" high desk?) proved that I really did have a 75 cm ball that was red instead of gray. (Did I mention this cost $13?)

The thing took forever to pump up (I stopped just short of 75 cm since I wanted it to fit under my desk). Is it comfortable? Yes, mostly. You do find yourself unconsciously bouncing a bit on the thing which probably adds to the subtle exercise element. The biggest problem is that you can't swivel on it, which it turns out is something I do a lot of in my office. I've been told that there are $100 dollies that you can put the ball on that will allow it to swivel, but that's not going to happen.

An interesting thing is that two different people have mentioned an incident involving Leo Laporte and a live podcast where everything is going along normally when suddenly there is a loud explosion as his ball popped and he ended up on the floor. Everyone laughed once they got over the shock of it, but this incident makes me feel like sitting on this ball is more of an adventure than advertised. (If you click the above link, be patient. It is a one hour show and the explosion is not until about 45 minutes have passed.)

So I'm living dangerously part time, and allowing guests to live dangerously the rest of the time.

And getting strange looks nearly all the time (not that that is anything new).

That's it - move along...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March Madness for those who could not care less

Look, I know that none of you care about the men's NCAA tournament, but I'm not going to let that stop me from going on about it anyway. However, I'm going to go on about it in what I hope is at least moderately interesting to most of you.

Some basics you need to know:

• There are 64 teams that show up. (Technically, there are 65 teams, but you can ignore that. I do.)

• Last weekend eliminated 48 teams. There are 16 teams left. (See - I'm even doing the math for you!)

I love that there are always a number of teams that I have no idea where they are from or what their team name or mascot is. Morgan State? Robert Morris? Siena? If any of you know where these schools are located, you are pretty good. (The answers will be in the PS. If I remember.)

My favorite team name is the Akron Zips. Zips refer to the rubber overshoes made in Akron many years ago. Naturally, their mascot is a kangaroo.

How about the Chattanooga Mocs. Mocs is short for mockingbirds (I would have assumed that it was snake or Indian related). The Radford Highlanders have a large Scottish guy as their mascot.

There were four teams with Eagles in their name, and between them they won one game. 

There were two teams with Wildcats in their name, and both won all of their games and are up to four wins so far.

There were four teams with Tigers in their name, and they have five wins so far.

There were six teams with large mammal-based names (Bruins, a couple of Bears, Rams, Longhorns, and Bison) that only won two games between them. Meanwhile the large rodent teams (Badgers, Wolverines, Gophers) each won a game. 

Teams named after Indian tribes (Utes and Seminoles) lost all their games while the team named after cowboys (Cowboys) won one game.

I was hoping to come up with a pattern that you would use as a guide for choosing likely winners (like maybe the Wildcats, definitely not the Eagles), but nothing jumps out. There are way more teams named after large cats and birds than are named after dogs. There is one team named after a tree (Buckeyes, no wins) and another named after a French battalion that fought in WWI (weirdly, the Blue Devils, two wins and still going). Two are named after famous colors (Orange and Red - the Orange are still going).

There are several states that have four teams in the tournament (California, New York, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania) and one state that has five teams (Ohio, although if I counted that stupid 65th team, New York would also have five teams in the tournament). North Dakota had a team in the tournament for the first time ever (they promptly lost to Kansas and are now fighting extreme flooding, probably not Kansas' fault).

OK, enough trivia. There are 16 teams left and they start playing again on Thursday. Who should you root for? Glad you asked.

Obviously, Kansas is your top priority. Following them are Missouri and Oklahoma. And just because it bugs so many people, Arizona. Gonzaga just because they are from the west. And that's about it. The rest of the teams are just varying degrees of me hating them. Like Duke and North Carolina.

So have fun watching the games (pretend, OK?).

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!

That's it - move along...

PS: I remembered! Morgan State is in Maryland (I should have known that). Robert Morris is in Pennsylvania. Sienna is in New York. How many did you get right? (I would have gotten zero right.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

The last (hopefully) post about grandkids in hospitals

I just wanted to post some pictures from the last two days (some we took, others I stole from WHM's Facebook stuff).

Here's Riley petting what could have been Idiot Dog Teddy's little sister. He got to pet two different dogs while in the hospital.

This is Darci still in Redwood City, getting ready to be transported to Santa Clara.

Getting loaded into the ambulance.

And a bit later standing in front of her princess bed. She never did get as tied down as Riley had been.

Mrs Notthat and Riley rejoicing over the arrival of Darci.

Today we brought each of them a present. Darci opened hers first - a small Snow White with several rubber outfits. Even Riley thought that was fun for a bit.

Riley then opened his present on his race car bed.

Riley got a Hot Wheels with Dinosaurs thing that was fun. Maybe even more fun than dressing up Snow White in rubber outfits.

Here is Riley enthusiastically playing in the playroom they have set up here. It has lots of interesting toys that Riley enjoyed once he was no longer tied down with tubes and wires. There is also an outdoor area they can play in. The pediatrics area of this hospital was really well done (if a bit confusing to find). It's a good thing since Kaiser is considering closing the pediatric area of the Redwood City hospital.

And that's it. Everyone is home now, although I'm sure it will take a few days to get back to any kind of normal. Next up - I get to go through Mrs Notthat's pictures from her Maryland trip and post my favorite here! (Or more accurately, those I can make fun of.)

That's it - move along...

Quick grandkid update...

First the good news: Riley is ready to be discharged!

Second, the bad news: They want to discharge Riley.

To fill those of you in who aren't following on Facebook, yesterday Darci started having really bad breathing issues. Ryan took her to the Redwood City ER and they decided to admit her. Since Riley was already down in Santa Clara, Kaiser took Darci down there to be together with him, simplifying grandkid management issues.

So she got a ride in an ambulance too - just like her brother! (She has been extremely jealous of him getting all this attention, and had asked me when it would be her turn to go to the hospital. There was no way to convince her that it wasn't exactly the same as going to Disneyland.)

In any case, they are ready to discharge Riley, but the logistics are getting complicated. If they discharge him, they can't give him any more medication, and he needs regular treatments. Darci is better, but at the earliest won't get discharged until this evening, maybe tomorrow morning.

In any case, things are looking up, if a bit cockeyed. I'll post more later once things work their way out.

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Riley Pictures

Here are some pictures that WHM just posted here (the link might not work since it is Facebook).

Note the dinosaur face on the mask. Apparently this is theirs, and it helps Riley deal with his treatments.

Ryan helping out. This is earlier in the day when things were not going well.

It took all these people, equipment, and that ambulance to get him from Redwood City to Santa Clara! They have a pediatric intensive care unit there.

And this is later, when he was feeling a lot better. It sounds like they are going to start weening him from some of this tonight.

What a day.

That's it - move along...

Sick grandkids not fun

This has not been a good grandkid day.

Last night Riley started having trouble breathing. At first it seemed controllable, but it got worse as the night went on. So WHM ended up taking him to the hospital and they admitted him. By this morning things were not much improved and it was decided to take him to a different hospital that had a pediatric intensive care unit. 

Since he had an IV and other tubes stuck in him, they transported him in an ambulance (!) from Redwood City to Santa Clara - to a hospital about a mile from where I work (and about 20 miles from where all of us live). 

He's now stabilized but far from having a good time. The hope is that tomorrow they will be able to move him to a normal room and maybe Friday he can come home. This has been his worst breathing episode so far.

Mrs Notthat kept Darci today. They wanted to go visit Riley, but Darci has a raging cold going on right now, and feels miserable. She keeps asking when it will be her turn to go to the hospital. It doesn't take too vivid of a description of the needles and tubes to convince her that she is the one better off right now.

The picture is her on my lap in the rocking chair watching a bizarre show called Peep and the Big Wide World. We then watched a whole episode of This Old House.

That's when I knew she REALLY wasn't feeling well.

That's it - move along...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Toolboxes and Big East bias

The Boy marked his toolboxes last night with a shield based on the logo of a local pirate-based football team that hasn't had a winning season since Johnny Depp started playing a pirate in those Disney movies. (Coincidence? Maybe, but man, their team lately has played like they were in a Disney cartoon with Goofy running the show.) 

(I apologize to the Goofy fans out there - I now realize that it was rude of me to compare him to Al Davis.)

In any case, the chrome logos came out pretty good. The real question will be how long they will stay that way once the toolboxes start getting used daily.

And now a few thoughts about the NCAA tournament. (I saw that - you rolled your eyes, didn't you?) 

The Kansas Jayhawks, with a number 3 seed that nobody would have predicted at the beginning of the season, on Friday play the first team from the state of North Dakota to ever make the tournament - the Bison of North Dakota State. 

In a fit of bitterness, I will be rooting heartily against all seven (!) of the teams from the Big East conference that made the tournament. The crowning insult is that three of them were made number 1 seeds. Please join me in hoping for the worst for all of these teams: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Louisville, West Virginia, Villanova, Syracuse, and Marquette. Of these seven teams, I can cut some slack for West Virginia due to in-law ties and Pittsburgh due to my boss's ties. But that's it.

Assuming Kansas gets by the Bison, they will most likely get to play West Virginia in the second round.

Thursday begins one of the most glorious sports weekends ever contrived. If Kansas survives, next Thursday will also begin one of the most glorious sports weekends ever contrived. (Those of you with short memories may have forgotten that Kansas won it all last year, leading to four consecutive most glorious sports weekends ever contrived. That is highly unlikely this year, but...)

Sorry Mrs Notthat. And sorry to all of you who couldn't care less about the tournament (which I suspect is all of you).

That's it - move along

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Conspiracy theories (grandkid free!)

A couple of quick things that are bothering me a little bit.

1) Bernie Madoff. When was the last time you remember a guy with basketfuls of money walking into a court room and saying "Yes, I did it. I'm guilty. Please march me off to prison for the rest of my life." He can hire many expensive lawyers and, no matter how obviously guilty he is, he could have at least postponed the march to prison. But instead, he gave up. 

Here's what I think - the reason he gave up was that there were some really interesting things that he (and others) REALLY did not want to come out. I believe there is a LOT more to this story that we will never know about since good old Bernie fell on his sword. And no, he and his wife should not get to keep the millions that they claim to have attained legally.

2) NCAA teams taking dives. At the end of the men's college basketball season, there is a 65-team tournament called March Madness. Schools that get invited into this tournament can stand to make significant money for themselves AND their conferences. Just before the big tournament, most conferences have their own mini-tournament. This year, almost all highly ranked schools (including the mighty Kansas Jayhawks) have lost early in their tournaments, which means that lower ranked schools are going to finish up looking better than expected.

Why does any of this matter? Two reasons: 

A) The good teams are guaranteed berths in the big tournament already, so losing early means they can rest up a bit with little, if any, harm to their standing in the big tournament.

B) Letting some other, lower ranked team finish well just might mean that one more team from their conference will make the big tournament, meaning more money for their conference.

I know, this is just the whining from a bitter loser, but it has been amazing how many top 20 teams lost in their tournaments, and not in the championship round.

Not that this is going to stop me from rabidly following the tournament starting Thursday. (Sorry Mrs Notthat, but I may be a bit distracted this weekend. And next. And next.)

That's it - move along...

Grandkids and a fitting end

With Mrs Notthat out in Maryland shopping and eating in fine restaurants and generally relaxing, it was up to this blog to keep the grandkids out of trouble and somewhat entertained on Friday.

What better way to start is there than filling them with syrup drenched strawberry pancakes? After breakfast we took Darci to preschool and then got down to business. Specifically, Idiot Dog Teddy's business.

The first rule about playing in the backyard is to pick up poop. Riley wants to help (notice the blue newspaper bag on the left hand and a grocery bag in the right - is this kid left-handed?), but he just can't work up the nerve to walk on the grass until he's given the all clear signal. So he hung out on the edges, pointing out the poop piles to me.

Once the yard was safe, we headed to the sand box. Normally the sand stays dry in its plastic turtle, but it had gotten wet during those storms we had last week. While this meant that the toys that rely on dry sand wouldn't work, it also meant we could build sand castles. Notice that I let Riley wear the Jayhawk hat in the hopes that this might help the Jayhawks in the upcoming tournament. (It's slightly possible that they need more help than this though.)

Once we picked up Darci from school we came home and baked cookies, using the easiest recipe ever (not counting the tubes of dough that you just have to slice and bake). You take a box cake mix, a can of diet soda, some chocolate chips, and mix them together. I used a yellow cake mix and a diet root beer. We then added a bit of food coloring so that Darci could have pink cookies. (Just in case you had not picked up on this, pink is her favorite color. I asked Riley what his favorite color was, and he said "pink" too. I decided it should be blue, but the blue coloring in the yellow cake made the cookies green. WHM told me later that pink really is his favorite color, which apparently annoys Darci to no end. What a great kid!)

We headed back to the backyard while the cookies baked.

Darci picked (and ate) our first crop of snow peas - about a dozen of them all together.

Eventually WHM showed up and took the grandkids home, freeing me to go through the mail.

And this was what was waiting for me.


That's it - move along...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A warning and a recommendation, sort of

First, the warning. Mrs Notthat is leaving tomorrow morning (Thursday if you don't want to have to work that bit out) for Maryland. A niece (Haras, not her real name, but kind of funny looking with my sophisticated code) is getting married. Mrs Notthat is not going to the wedding, but is going to the wedding shower. This makes sense, but honestly I don't remember why.

In any case, it means a couple of things:

1) The Boy and I will be on our own for six days - Mrs doesn't come home until Tuesday. This may be sort of fun for a couple of days, but for nearly a week?

B) I have to take Friday off to watch the grandkids. Work is a bit exciting right now (code for "stressful"), so taking a day off means I will most likely have to make it up over the weekend. But since I was probably going to be working over the weekend anyway, this really is no big deal. The good part is that the weather should be pretty nice on Friday, so we can spend time outside.

Now for the recommendation. Of a sort. 

I just finished reading one of the books I got for Pansy Day - Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde. I love books that are slightly off - I've written before about how much I loved The Princess Bride by William Goldman - and Jasper Fforde is exceptionally good at being slightly off. It is really hard to describe his writing, but it is very British and is mostly based on playing with other books - treating them as things that are sort of alive, with characters you can interact with. (This book has Hamlet as a relatively major character - I've never read Hamlet or even seen the movie, but that didn't matter - it was easy to have fun with him anyway.) 

If you are pretty well read, I suspect you get more out of his books than someone like me, but I still found myself laughing out loud often and being amazed at the cleverly weird twists of this book. If you do decide to take a chance on one of his books, start with The Eyre Affair - the first in the Thursday Next series. I'll even loan you my copy if you'd like.

But he is not for everyone. It's not fantasy or science fiction, but it's also not normal. 

Maybe that's how I'll pass the next six days - reading the other Jasper Fforde book I've got. Well, after the work is done. And the Grandkids watched. Oh, and The Boy and I need to do a bit more tool shopping. And of course Idiot Dog Teddy will need a walk. And maybe the Jayhawks will be on TV sometime. And then...

That's it - move along...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Legal and screwed tire updates

It's been a busy week. Work has left me with little time or energy to keep up with recreational internet activities, but I will hopefully be able to pick up the pace this weekend.

First, the screw in the tire issue was handled on Monday by Mrs Notthat. As I feared, they pronounced the tire as unrepairable - any issue with a tire's sidewall is pretty much fatal. But since we bought the tire from them about a year ago, it came with a warranty and they replaced the tire for less than $15. 

Second, The Boy and his legal issue was resolved. As reported back in November, The Boy got a speeding ticket. On Tuesday, three and a half months after the event, The Boy finally got his day in court. The judge started by listing the variety of punishments that were possible (just about everything short of hanging). He then had The Boy tell his story. The Boy apparently was very convincing, and that, on top of being nicely dressed and suitably sorry, caused the judge to just have him pay the fine ($130 or so) and have his driving restricted a bit for a month. After this, it will be as if the ticket never happened. The Boy and us are greatly relieved while our insurance company is going to miss out on a windfall.

Third, remember my parking ticket? I wrote a nice letter to the Transit Parking Enforcement people about a month ago and have been waiting for a response. I got it today. Pay up or go to jail they said. However, I then noticed that they had reduced the fine from $30 to $10. So my nice letter ended up worth $20.

If everything I wrote paid that well, I'd be happily living on an exotic island watching a beautiful sunset, sipping a designer ice tea, and eating gourmet sunflower seeds. But it doesn't, so I'm sitting on the couch watching Monty Python, sipping Lipton ice tea, and eating generic sunflower seeds. 

Actually, not bad at all!

That's it - move along...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bikes, tools, and getting a bit screwed up

My main goal Saturday was to try to empty the storage "shed" that holds the bicycles, sleds, and garden implements.

Here are the bicycles.

There are seven of them (not counting the two scooters). Some of these are pretty old, from when The Boy was a much littler boy. In any case, I was not able to work out a better place to put them (although I did find the garden implements a new, more accessible home). After talking it over with Mrs Notthat (between her Solvang shopping binges) we decided to look into making the shed thing a bit more weather-proof and just be happy with the garden as it is.


The Boy got his 204 piece toolkit sorted out.

The trick now is to mark them so that they can be identified in a class where half a dozen others might have the same set of tools.

So we came up with a rig to paint black stripes on them. Not elegant, but hopefully functional.

We took a few minutes to wash some of the winter gunk off the cars, making them nice and clean for today's rain. (It is raining now, but it's pretty light. More is promised for this week, but Governor Arnold has already declared the state to be in a drought disaster. Maybe a big garden was not a great idea.)

Then The Boy noticed this in his rear tire.

Who knows how long it's been there, and the tire isn't losing air, but the car now sits until Monday when it can be taken in and repaired.

Mrs Notthat comes home today, so I'm busy doing some cleanup stuff (well, and watching the Jayhawks - it's not like they are on every day you know). It will be great to have her back. One can only eat so many pizzas and Pringles.

That's it - move along...