name! that! puppy!


The puppy is nine days old today. In that time, he has managed to almost triple his birth weight, from 8.5 ounces last Tuesday to to 22.5 ounces today. He is one chubby little thing. I’m thinking low-carb diet, or he’ll never be trim enough for those dog food commercials.


Now he just needs a name. The naming conventions of his line gravitate toward Arthurian names, but we’ve already used Arthur, Bors, Ban, and Lancelot for previous dogs. Mordred is pretty much right out. Any suggestions from the Internets? Bonus points if it can be shortened into a nickname—this is just for his kennel name in the AKC papers.

grrrgl & etc.


I had to go to the vet last night at 2am because the doggie mom was being extremely restless and panting at an alarming rate. All is well now, but counting the c-section and the ER visit, that puppy is now worth about $200 per ounce.

I got two hours of sleep Tuesday night and about four hours last night. Now excuse me while I suck down some caffeine sludge to stay awake for the home appraisal guy due at noon. Talk amongst yourselves while I get my brain functions back online. In the meantime, have a puppy picture.


the weekend that wouldn’t end.

So yeah, about the last few days:

  • Quinn turned 7 yesterday. Parental schedules being what they are, we had an early birthday party for him on Saturday. We had eight kids and as many adults in the house, and it was pretty lively. There was chili, cake, liquor, and those awesome little cocktail sausages that someone slathered with a home-brewed BBQ sauce which turned the little things into CRACK. Then one of our friends and her three kids stayed for a sleepover, so festivities were not really concluded until noon the next day as far as the kids were concerned.
  • Yesterday we took our female dachshund in for her planned c-section. We bred her again because we still don’t have the girl out of her that we wanted so we could continue her mother’s line. OF COURSE the c-section yielded…two males.
  • Last night wasn’t so hot. I had to stay up and check on the mom and pups every 15 minutes or so. I fell asleep around 2am. Robin got up just after 4am to discover that one of the pups had died. Now Raven is down to a single-pup litter, and we’re hoping he’ll make it. He’s active and nursing like a champ, so chances are good, but they’re not really out of the rough until they’re a few days old at least. He’s a very pretty color, deep red mahogany like his sire. I predict we’ll end up retiring Raven from breeding, keeping the male, and then buying a female to breed him to when the time comes. So this breeding didn’t go as well as we had hoped, to put it mildly, but we’ll make the best of it.
  • The wife and kids are coming down with something, possibly acquired when the house was packed with adults and kids on Saturday. That means I’ll be getting it too sooner or later.

So that was my exciting weekend that sort of dragged all the way into Wednesday and shows no signs of ending. I could stand about a week away from Daddy duties at this point, maybe drive down to Key West and pound down some Mojitos at the beach or something. Alas, I’m never off the clock here. At least I can do the mojito thing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a garage to clean up and some furniture to reshuffle for tomorrow’s refinancing home appraisal. Then I have to start the sausage & kale soup for dinner, and possibly collapse on the couch and sleep for eighteen hours straight.

his middle name is “facepalm”.

When you elect clowns into public office, don’t be surprised when you get a circus show.

<HONK HONK> AIDS came from some guy screwing a monkey! Death certificates for aborted fetuses! Can’t say “gay” in school! Gay teens being bullied is a big lark! You can’t get AIDS from hetero sex! <HONK HONK>

<cue circus march>

(And lest you Northerners shake your heads and mutter something about ignorant Southern rednecks: Stacey Campfield is a Yankee carpetbagger. He was born and raised in New York, and moved to TN at the age of 25.)

our well pump won’t.

When we got up this morning, there was no running water. We have a well and a pump in the garage, and when it gets too cold, the water in the pump tank will start to freeze, but this morning it was merely a balmy 24 degrees. I went to check on the pump and found that the controller switch is in a state of calcification usually not seen outside of limestone caves or retirement homes. Luckily, a replacement is available for the low, low price of twenty-something bucks at the hardware store in our sleepy little burgh, so that’s where I will be heading this morning.

You know what we have coming up on Saturday? Quinn’s 7th birthday party. He invited a bunch of friends, which means that we will have the house packed with kids in the 2-9 age range who will then proceed to get hopped up on cupcakes and Xbox Kinect games.

On second thought, I may go to Home Depot instead to get that pump switch. It’s closer to the liquor store.



dachshund #3, the model with the volume stuck at 11.


This is Ban. He will be ten years old this year. Ban was a one-pup litter back in 2002, and even though we needed a girl, we kept him just because he was the only puppy from that breeding.

Ban is a sweet dog, very loving and eager to please. He just has one annoying habit—he barks at everything. If there’s a truck driving by on the road 200 feet away, he’ll bark. If there’s someone walking past the property on the way to the pond, he’ll bark. If there’s unfamiliar dialogue on TV in the next room, he’ll bark. And he absolutely, positively cannot run outside without winding up that bark while someone opens the door for him, and then sounding the fanfare as he runs outside through the covered porch. Every. Single. Goddamn. Time.

Now, as I mentioned, he’s a really sweet dog, if a little high-strung, so I’ve put up with that habit of his for ten years now. But if we ever get unwanted nighttime visitors intent on redistributing the valuables in our house, I am almost convinced that this dog will sleep through the whole thing.

AWD power activate!

So our driveway is about 200 feet long and unpaved. We had it finished with hardpack, and it’s fine most of the year, but when we have prolonged cold spells, it can be tricky for a front-wheel car to get up the incline to our house.

Well, we currently have a cold spell like that. The temperature has been around 20 during the day and in the negatives at night for a week or so now. The hardpack has been covered with snow a few times, scraped and shoveled, and left with a thin layer of snow that has frozen and smoothed out into something that now resembles one of those Olympic luge tracks. I have to park the Grand Marnier in the spot at the bottom of the driveway because the front-wheel drive does not do well when the driveway is all ice. The UPS, FedEx, and Sears service trucks have all had to capitulate and park at the bottom for their deliveries and service calls for the last few days.

Today I went out with the kids for the weekly grocery run. When I got back, I had to park at the bottom of the hill again and haul all the groceries up through the snow on the path through the Forbidden Forest, bypassing the driveway, because it was so icy I fell on my ass three times trying to walk up it. Took me twenty minutes to get all the groceries into the house. I was utterly convinced that the wife would not be able to make it up the hill tonight to park in her usual spot right next to the house.

Well, she gets in past dark, I see the headlights coming up the driveway…and the Subaru just trucks up the icy incline like it’s freshly laid gravel in the middle of July. She said she never felt a tire slip.

The Grand Marnier is nowhere near on its last leg, but when it’s time to replace it, I want a frickin’ Subaru too.

the 21st century comes to upper cryogenica.




When we moved to Castle Frostbite, the castle grounds were not connected to any sort of Intertubes infrastructure except for the phone line. Since then, we’ve had a succession of services:

  • For the first two weeks, we had dial-up, which was almost entirely useless even back in 2007.
  • Then we ordered the only thing available to us that was faster, which was HughesNet satellite internet. HughesNet was awful—expensive, bandwidth-limited (220MB per 24 hours), and unreliable. The connection would crap out every time there was a storm or more than just mild rain. Latency was insane—1000ms on a fast day. World of Warcraft was playable once you got used to the casting delay, but forget about first-person online shooters.The dish went out of alignment periodically, requiring a $125 service call every time for a tech to come out and re-adjust it. Speed fluctuated, but usually pegged around 64kB/s.
  • As soon as the two-year contract with Hughesnet was up, we switched to a local provider I had discovered in the meantime. They offer WiLAN connectivity over the 900MHz band. That was better than Hughesnet—no data caps, low latency (60-ish ms), and a fairly consistent throughput of 64-96kB/s. They also charged half the monthly fee Hughesnet did. We kept them until January of last year, when I discovered…
  • …that FairPoint had hooked our street up with DSL. Passed the “DSL Available Now!” sign at the end of our street on the way home from grocery shopping one day, ordered the service the second I got home, and have been enjoying low-latency megabit-and-a-half Internet for a year now.

Well, it seems like the bandwidth fairy has decided to do us one better, presumably to compensate us for all our suffering trying to do Internet banking over a flaky satellite link in bad weather, or trying to cast spells with a two-second casting delay. We got a letter from our town informing us that our neighborhood is currently being wired for fiber-optic cable. Faster than DSL or cable Internet by a factor of anywhere between ten and a hundred—the current state-of-the-art in residential bandwidth delivery. We have friends up in Orford whose house has been hooked up by the same project, and their download speeds are insane. It makes DSL look like dial-up. The letter says they’ll be finished running cable and connecting the infrastructure by June.

I’m quite happy with the DSL we finally got, and if it turns out that “gee, sorry, Mister, but your street is the only one in town that can’t be hooked up”, then I’ll be content—it works well for everything including Netflix streaming and such—but will I have them hook us up with fiber the second we can get it? Hell yes.

the ebook wars are over, and paper has lost.


I checked my Amazon account the other day, and of the last fifty books I purchased on Amazon, forty-nine have been Kindle books. (The fiftieth was a gift for someone else that went directly to the recipient.) I don’t know about you folks out there in Intertubes land, but for me, the Paper-vs-ebook debate is over, and the ebook has won.

My current reader is a basic fourth-generation Kindle. I also have the Kindle app on both the iPad and iPhone, but I do most of my reading on the Kindle because the e-ink screen is easier on the eyes than the backlit screens of the iThingies. I picked the basic Kindle because it’s the smallest of the bunch (small enough to fit into the back pockets of my jeans), because I already have 3G capability on my iPhone, and because I dislike touching a screen for turning a page. The hardware page turn buttons on the Kindle are easier to use one-handed and require less finger movement, and the screen doesn’t get all smudged with fingerprints.

I’ve given all the major players fair shakes—I’ve purchased books on the Nook via B&N, on iBooks via Apple, and on the Sony reader via pitiful Sony ebook store. In the end, I’ve settled on Amazon for several reasons:

  • Kindle books are usually cheaper than the same books on the iBooks store or the Nook store.
  • Amazon has the biggest catalog of titles.
  • Amazon offers the easiest and most convenient browsing and buying user experience.
  • The Kindle is the best reader out there in my opinion—and I’ve tried all the current competitors. The new iteration of the basic Kindle is everything I need in a reader—small, flat, long battery life, perfectly integrated with, and not loaded with features I don’t need or want to pay for.

Yes, Amazon has its problems. Among those are the proprietary ebook format and lack of support for the open .epub format. But with Calibre, I can convert .epub to the .mobi format the Kindle does read, and the advantages I’ve listed outweigh the problems for me. Open standards are good, but ease of user experience and quality of integration trumps open source for me. (That’s why I have an iPhone and not an Android phone, which is a whole other argument and a topic for another day.)

So yeah—I love my Kindle, and while I still love and own paper books as well, I’ve converted to ebooks a while ago. Don’t get me wrong—I love browsing in brick-and-mortar bookstores, but with the Kindle, I can buy the books I want in thirty seconds without having to leave the house or even put on pants. They don’t have the paper smell and feel, but they don’t need to be stored and are easily moved, they don’t have to be thrown out by the boxful because of water damage from a leaky roof, and I can carry a thousand of them around in a four-ounce device that fits into my back pocket. The words are the same whether you read them on paper or e-ink, though, and that’s what counts in the end.