Thursday, September 3, 2015

Icebreaker Shares

This is a Public Service Announcement, to remind all of you out there who pay quarterly estimated income taxes that, in the skewed view of the government, June-Aug is the third quarter.  It’s time to pay up, Bub.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not against paying taxes.  I'm just against the screwy quarterly schedule the government has thought up.

Here is a related conversation I had yesterday at the Common Household dinner table. 

Me:  Today I bought one share of an icebreaker. 

Husband:  What?!  Why?

Me:   To protect us from the Russians.

Husband: How much did that cost?

Younger Daughter: Isn’t an icebreaker one of those silly exercises you have to do at the beginning of a meeting, to force you to get to know other people? 
(spoken like a true and proud introvert!)

Me:    This kind of icebreaker is a giant ship that can break up Arctic ice.  I heard on NPR that the Russians have forty icebreakers, but we only have two, so we need to build more icebreakers.  It’s important to keep up with Putin.

Husband:  But what do you mean, you ‘bought a share’?!

Me:  Today I paid my quarterly taxes.  An icebreaker costs 1 billion dollars, and in my view we paid enough taxes to buy a share.

Husband:  (sigh)



* * * *

The truth is that my quarterly tax payment on my part-time income is about enough to buy a share in a cup holder on that future icebreaker.  I should have framed it that way, because cup holders in vehicles are very important to the Common Household Husband.  Maybe I could get his name inscribed on the cup holder in our nation’s next icebreaker.


Dear Reader, what is your favorite icebreaker?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Guest Post: Workout Music

Here is a rare thing: a guest post from the Common Household Son.  When I dropped him off at college last weekend, my jaw dropped when I saw where the college was housing him.  I told him he would probably never again live in such a swanky place.  I’m glad he’s taking advantage of his situation.

* * * * * * * * * *


Having spent all summer at a desk job and eating wonderful food provided by my mother, I decided this semester to try out this hip new thing called “exercise”.  I am currently staying at a 4-star hotel until my dorm is finished being constructed, and since it has a fitness center free for guests, I resolved to avail myself of this opportunity.

One difficulty that presented itself was what music to listen to.  Music would be essential to my workout, since there is no way I could exercise continuously for more than 5 minutes without any sort of entertainment.  The problem is, I am as selective in my music choice as I am in my diet (as I’m sure my mom will attest), and I listen almost exclusively to classical music.  Slow lyrical music is nice, but it’s not very motivating, so I had to go through my playlists and pick out the pieces that had little to no slow section.  I came up with the following exercise playlist, reproduced here for anyone else who just can’t pump iron to the sound of Mozart:

Symphony #5 Mov. 1 (Beethoven)
Symphony #5 Mov. 4 (Beethoven)
Ride of the Valkyries (Wagner)
Festive Overture (Shostakovich)
First Suite for Military Band Mov. 3: March (Holst)
Pas Redoublé (Saint-Saëns)
Kingfishers Catch Fire Mov. 2 (John Mackey)
Jupiter (Holst)
Symphony #4 Mov. 4 (Tchaikovsky)
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley (Koji Kondo)
Gerudo Valley (Koji Kondo)
Candide Overture (Bernstein)
Star Wars: Main Theme (John Williams)
Star Wars: Imperial March (John Williams)
Star Wars: Battle in the Forest (John Williams)
Star Wars: Throne Room and End Title (John Williams)
E.T. Flying Theme (John Williams)
Superman Theme (John Williams)
Raiders March (John Williams)
March from 1941 (John Williams)
Olympic Fanfare and Theme (John Williams)
Wine-Dark Sea Mov. 3 (John Mackey)
Symphony #7 Mov. 4 (Beethoven)
L'Arlésienne - Suite No. 2: Farandole (Bizet)
Children of Sanchez (marching band version)
Big Noise from Winnetka (marching band version)

I spent an hour on the treadmill, running 5 mph in 10-minute intervals, and didn’t even use up half of this playlist.  I realized too late that it might not have been a good idea to do this the night before the first day of school, when I had to bike all over campus.  I’m still sore, and I’ll probably do it again on Wednesday.  Still, I at least have some excellent exercise music to help me through.  If you have any suggestions for classical exercise music, feel free to post them in the comments.


* * * * * * * * * *

Bonus:  photo tour of his 4-star hotel room:

We'll start with the bathroom, which is twice the size of the
usual college dorm room.

The bed is twice the size and has twice the mattress thickness
of the usual college dorm bed. 

When he first went to college, we forbade him a TV.
For the next few weeks, he's got the use of this one. Plus cable!

This is the hotel lobby.  Mahogany pillars.

Hotel lobby with non-ratty furniture.
Doesn't being in college *require* the presence of ratty
 furniture as part of the experience?

DO NOT TOUCH THE STUFF IN THE MINI-BAR!
THOSE ARE $20 POTATO CHIPS!



Sunday, August 23, 2015

For students and teachers of all ages

Coloring Prayer
for students and teachers of all ages
on the occasion of the
start of school


Thank you for teaching!

Thank you for learning!




Thursday, August 20, 2015

Time-traveling pie

Clearly this month has got the better of me.  This is a busy time of year for grain crops and the people who attempt to estimate them (including me).  Add these:

- transport to and from marching band camp,
- a church planning retreat,
- a major funeral and
- a shiva minyan gathering at our house,
- driving lessons for Younger Daughter,
- allergies waking me up every night,
- getting YD ready for 11th grade,
- getting ready to take one kid back to college,
- figuring out how to help my vision-impaired aunt get her car registered while I reside in a different state from said aunt and car,
- going to a baseball game on my birthday, for which we got to go onto the field which was way exciting and fun,

and I’ve got myself in a state of befuddlement. 

Note that the list above includes at least two reasons you should pay close attention out on the roads. 

We also have a major plumbing problem, so there are three holes in our walls (1 – living room ceiling, 2 – our bedroom, 3 – our bathroom) which are going to remain holes for a while.  This magnifies the sound of the plumbing being used.  The most egregious leak has been fixed, but Mr Plumber-man says that other pipes are about to burst.  He suggested that we move the piano out of the way of potential leaks.  Ha.  Like we could ever move that piano ourselves.


But any life that has a time-traveling pie in it is a good life.  Son and I made this blueberry pie way back in June, but we put it in the freezer because Canada, birthdays, moving stuff, and beachvacation.  


Timey-wimey pie.  You can tell it's a time-traveller because
it is wrapped in foil, just like a lot of characters in sci-fi shows.
Son said that it was folly to make a pie and not be able to eat it. He vowed that he was going to eat that pie before going back to college, which meant we had to get started on it last night.  Forced pie eating is also not a terribly bad thing, although what with all those things on that list above, any pretense of keeping to the Weight Watchers plan is completely shot. 


So life is good, if puzzling and sad sometimes. God created pi, which allowed us to create pie, and that is very good.
Not the prettiest pie we've ever made, but
oh, it tasted so good.  And it is gone.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Concerto for Horn and Bathtub


In the list of statements I never imagined I would hear during my life, this one is near the top on the Unexpectedness Scale:

“My horn is about to come out of the bath,” said my son. 

Apparently French horns need to have a bath every few years.  How was I supposed to know? As a former violinist and pianist, I never gave my instruments a bath.  But then, maybe I should have - it could have improved the sound.

Then Son said something I have heard a number of times in my life. “I am planning to let it dry on the dining room table.”  This is the first time the “it” was not kids’ art work dripping with paint.

I gave my usual reply. “No, you are not planning to do that.”  

I told him that he could let it dry in his sister’s room.  That’s what that room is for, now that she has her own apartment.  Plus, it has a ceiling fan, which will help with the drying process. 

For those few who are interested, here is how to give your horn a bath
1.  Watch several youtube videos on the topic (not shown here).  But really, get some professional youtube advice.

2.  Before taking things apart, take photos so you can remember how to put it all back together.  
Looks more complicated than threading a sewing machine.
3. Run the water in the bathtub, with a little dish soap.  Take the horn apart.  Clean tubes with tiny metal snake for brass instruments.





4.  Put all the parts in the bathtub.  Promise your parents you will clean the tub afterward. Soak for an hour or so.

5.  Remove horn parts from bathtub.  Dry it off as best as you can.  Put the parts on a towel in your sister's room to finish drying.

6.  CLEAN THE BATHTUB.

7.  Go to see the movie "AntMan" with your Dad.

8.  Reassemble the horn.  (Ha!  Good luck with that! I think this is where a history of playing with Legos comes in handy.  My son has not yet done this step.  We'll see.)