A Political Dilemma

I have a bit of a dilemma politically. The candidate who I am currently planning on supporting during the January 3 caucus in Iowa wants to eliminate No Child Left Behind. While I think NCLB has many issues, and philosophically I wouldn't be sad if the program were scrapped, my job developing tests owes quite a lot to NCLB. Now I don't think the testing industry would disappear if NCLB were to go away, but I don't think it would be good for business.

The candidate I am supporting is not one of the top tier candidates, so it isn't likely that he will win the nomination, but it does bother me a bit to be supporting someone who has a position which would hurt the business I work for. Now there are other aspects of the candidate that I like for which he has earned my support. I do have a backup candidate who is in the top tier of candidates running who will get my support should my candidate's group not be large enough to be deemed viable at the caucus site I attend and he does not plan on eliminating NCLB, so my job is probably secure in that sense.


Weight Watchers Week 31

Thanksgiving week was a good one to me from a culinary perspective, but not from a weight-loss perspective. I ended up gaining 2.4 pounds this past week, bringing my weight back up to 202.4 pounds for a net weight loss of 29.0 pounds. Not being able to get my weight much lower than 200 pounds is becoming frustrating. I suppose I just need to follow the plan, and it should work. I admit, I have been doing some snacking at work that hasn't been recorded into the Points Tracker. Recording everything I eat is definitely what I want to do if I want to lose the last 7.4 pounds needed to reach my goal of 195 pounds.


Emma Stands

On Wednesday I posted a video of Emma crawling, which she just began doing the Friday before. Then, this past Saturday, Emma began to pull herself up to a standing position all by herself! I tried to get a picture of her standing then, but she fell down before I could get the camera ready. Tonight I finally got a picture of Emma standing. It won't be long now, maybe a month or so, before she begins walking. Then we're in for trouble.


Fist Fight at the Galaxy 16 Cine

The Cedar Rapids Gazette is reporting that the manager and four other employees of the Wehrenberg Theatres Galaxy 16 Cine in Cedar Rapids today. According to the article, a group of moviegoers were being disruptive during the movie. Other patrons complained to theater staff about the group and after not settling down when confronted by the manager, the manager asked them to leave. They then assaulted the manager and other staff who came to his assistance before fleeing the movie theater. One thing the article did not mention, but which I am interested in, is what movie they were viewing. I'm just curious, that's all.

Shopping with Baby

For the third time in three days, Emma and I went shopping. On Friday we went to Westdale Mall; yesterday we went to Home Depot and Wal-Mart; today we went to K-mart, Kohl's, and Lindale Mall. I have noticed that strangers really like to talk to parents about their babies, or even just to talk to the babies themselves. I don't mind as I enjoy talking about Emma to people who will listen. I just find it interesting how strangers will just begin talking to me about her. In shopping with Emma, I learn about other people's babies as well since they will invariably tell me that they have a grandchild around her age. They will then proceed to tell me about the developmental milestones that these other children have achieved. Children, especially little girls, also love to look at and talk to Emma when they see her.

The one thing I don't like though is when they get the baby's gender wrong. Now I understand that it can be difficult to tell baby boys from baby girls, but they could at least ask if it's not apparent. To avoid the possible gender confusion, I try to put Emma in clothes that are obviously "girl" clothes -- pink, purple, or flowered clothing. Now I thought that Emma's red turtleneck shirt with black pants that she was wearing today looked feminine, but apparently that was not the case as I had more people think she was a boy today than usually do when I am shopping with her. I guess I need to go back to the girlie colors next time we go shopping.

There was one really cute moment of our shopping expedition today. After we entered the elevator in Younkers, we were followed by a couple who each had a stroller with them as well. The man of the couple was pushing a double stroller with twin boys who appeared to be about Emma's age. The woman had a stroller with a somewhat older girl in it. As the three of us with our collective four children rode the elevator down, the children all just looked at other, not sure what to think.


95th Birthday

Tonight we all went out to dinner for my great uncle's ninety-fifth birthday. We typically celebrate his birthday in the Amana Colonies, and tonight was no different in that respect. One difference tonight is that we went to a different restaurant than we usually do. We went to the Ox Yoke Inn, and I have to say that it was a good decision. I felt that the food there was better than it is at the restaurant we usually go to. They didn't have as big a selection of salads there, but there was enough, and the hot dishes were really good. I really hope that we go there again the next time we go to the Amanas for dinner.


Black Friday

The Christmas shopping season unofficially began today, and I did my duty as an American in spending money to help the economy. However, my shopping began by returning a pair of jeans that Mel bought last Saturday. After putting the jeans on at home, she discovered that one of the legs of the pair of jeans was an inch or two longer than the other leg. Well, that's no good. I did do some actual buying of goods though while I was out. I bought one Christmas present. I also bought some Pyrex storage containers. It was an eighteen-piece set that had a regular price of forty five dollars. After all the discounts I received on the product, it ended up costing me just eight dollars! Now that was a bargain!


Thanksgiving Dinner

Mel had to work today (as well as tomorrow and both days this weekend) so my mom and sister came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner which we has this evening. It was the first time my mom had ever cooked a turkey, and it turned out really good. It was also the first time I had ever carved a turkey, and I think I did an adequate job getting the meat off the turkey carcass if I do say so myself. I actually enjoyed having a Thanksgiving dinner for which I did not actually have to travel anywhere. It was also only the four of us, plus Emma who slept during dinner, so it wasn't too crowded and there weren't really all that many dishes. And because there were only four of us eating the twelve-plus-pound bird, there is plenty of turkey left over for sandwiches the next day or so.

Emma Crawls!

For about a month now, Emma has been able to get around the room by crawling backward and by scooting forward. Last Friday Emma began crawling forward! Here's a short video of her crawling in the living room.

Write Your Own Caption

I saw this photo of a stormtrooper, an Imperial officer, and Darth Vader in the local newspaper yesterday. It was taken at a local sci-fi convention. I don't want to say anything unkind, so I will leave the comments up to you, the reader.

First Snow of the Season

We had our first real snow of the season yesterday in Cedar Rapids. It actually accumulated some in the grass. Fortunately, all the snow on the driveway and sidewalk melted, so I didn't have to shovel it off. As the snow began to fall yesterday, I noticed my neighbor across the street mowing his lawn! During the summer he typically mows about once every three days. I guess he wanted to get one last mowing in before putting the mower away for the season.

Last night was also the first time that Emma was out in the snow. She seemed a bit confused by the freezing bits of frozen water falling on her face, but it didn't really bother her. She experienced the snow as we were walking into the Irish Democrat to meet a friend of mine for dinner. It was a nice dinner. I tried something other than my typical order last night. Instead of the ribs and chicken strips, I had the Democrat burger. It was good, but I think I like the ribs and chicken strips better.


Walker, Presidential-Candidate Endorser

Chuck Norris has endorsed former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee for the Republican nomination for president. And Huckabee's plan to stop illegal immigration, Chuck Norris. There is a pretty long border separating the U.S. from Mexico. I don't really think that Chuck Norris will be able to adequately stop people from entering this country illegally. Who knows, if Mike Huckabee wins the nomination, maybe he'll make Chuck Norris his running mate. Chuck could really kick some diplomatic ass!

Sleeping Through the Night

Monday night and last night were the first nights in a couple weeks that Emma slept through the night, at least for the most part. She did wake up once each of those two nights around 11:00, but giving her pacifier back to her was all it took to get her back to sleep. She even slept in a little bit, not waking up until 6:15 yesterday morning and 6:00 this morning. Emma must be feeling a bit better since being sick last week.

Weight Watchers Week 30

Once again, I was scolded by the Weight Watchers website for losing too much weight this week, losing 3.8 pounds bringing my weight down to 200.0 pounds. This is just one pound above my lowest weigh-in weight since beginning Weight Watchers thirty weeks ago. This brings the difference between my starting weight and my current weight 31.4 pounds.

Will the weight loss continue this week, or will I maintain or gain? We are going to the Irish Democrat for dinner with a friend tonight and having a Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. Then on Saturday we are going to the Ox Yoke Inn in Amana for my great uncle's ninety-fifth birthday. With all this eating, maintaining my weight loss will be a challenge, but I think I can do it. Anyway, I am just five pounds from my goal, so if I don't lose any weight this week, that's alright too.



I had to work for a couple of hours this morning. It has been a while since I have done work on the weekend, not counting travel time for business trips. This work was participating in the training of some subcontractors for the project I am working on.

Early this afternoon, Mel, Emma, and I went shopping. We had to get a birthday present for Mel's cousin's five-year-old daughter. After buying a Barbie doll for her at Target, we went to JCPenney because I wanted to try on some jeans so I would know the style and size to ask for when I complete the Christmas list that my mother would like me to complete. Because of the good price on the jeans, I ended up buying one pair today, although I can still use some more. I also ended up buying three polo shirts. I normally would not have made such a purchase so close to Christmas, but it was a deal I couldn't pass on. I was able to get three thirty-six-dollar polo shirts for $2.54 each! This will make a good addition to my wardrobe as I haven't added many new polo shirts in quite a while.

After our shopping expedition at Westdale Mall, we went to the birthday party at Pump It Up in southwest Cedar Rapids. Pump It Up is a place where kids can go and play on inflatable slides, bouncing areas, and other similar things. The hour and a half we were there was quite enough. The twenty-something children around the age of five seemed to have a great time, although it was a bit noisy.

After the birthday party we headed home so Mel could get ready to go to a RoughRiders game with her friend Penny for Penny's son's sixth birthday party. While Mel was at the hockey game, I had a friend over to visit. We played a few board games. I hadn't seen this friend in a while, so it was good to have him over.

Now that I have finished writing this blog entry, I am going to check if Emma has gotten back to sleep so that I might be able to go back to bed for the evening. Hopefully she sleeps through until morning. That would be a nice change from her new routing of waking up at midnight and at three in the morning as she has the past few nights.


Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!

Well, actually I do need a badge to get into the building at work, and today I got a new badge. This summer my company changed its identity by eliminating a couple of words from its name, and therefore the company logo also changed. So today some of us got badges with the new company logo. It's nice to have a new badge since the one I had was getting a bit worn and the picture on it was fading. Now my work badge has a nicer looking picture on it.


Back to the Dentist

After my headache didn't subside following my dentist visit last week, I got a prescription for an antibiotic from my doctor, thinking that I had an ear infection. After completing the round of antibiotics, I still had some pain, although noticeably less. However, this pain was located more in the area of one of my teeth, and it seemed to come on more while and after eating. So this morning, my dentist removed the filling that I had in that tooth and replaced it with a filling of medicated cement. So far I haven't felt any pain, but that could be due to the fact that the effects of the local anesthetic hasn't completely worn off yet.

Weight Watchers Week 29

I managed to turn things around this week and lose a significant amount of weight, 5.4 pounds to be exact. The difference between this past week and the prior two weeks is that I actually paid attention to what I was eating and recorded my Weight Watchers POINTS. Now my weight is down to 203.8 pounds for a difference of 27.6 pounds from when I started Weight Watchers. Now I just have 8.8 pounds to go until I reach my final goal of 195 pounds!



Yesterday afternoon I got a phone call from my daughter's daycare provider informing me that she had just coughed up some of her formula and did not sound good. So last night, Mel and I took Emma to the doctor where she was diagnosed as having croup, a viral infection that causes a tight, low-pitched barking cough. She is also making a raspy breathing sound called stridor. The doctor made her diagnosis the moment she walked into the exam room and her Emma breathing across the room. For treatment, Emma got a shot in her leg. The shot seems to be doing some good as her breathing is sounding a little better this morning than it did last night. However, due to the fact that she is contagious, she is staying home with me today and tomorrow. That actually works out pretty well for me as I didn't have a lot of work to do today.

So far today, I have done about a hour of work while Emma was napping. Other than that, she and I have been doing a lot of cuddling, trying to comfort her despite the fact that she is uncomfortable. She recently began another nap. Hopefully she feels even better when she wakes up.


Kitchen Stuff

Mel, Emma, and I went to Ankeny today to visit Mel's sister and her family. While that was one of the reasons we went there, we also went to attend the Pampered Chef party that Mel's sister was hosting. I had never attended one of these sales parties before, and that's probably a good thing as there are a lot of kitchen gadgets in the catalog that I would be very tempted to buy. We did end up buying a few items, but there were other things I wouldn't mind getting. Perhaps we can get a few more in the future.


RoughRiders Hockey

Tonight I went to my first Cedar Rapids RoughRiders hockey game. In fact, except for a hockey game of one my of eighth graders several years ago at the Coral Ridge Mall, this was the first hockey game I ever attended. It was fun, but I think I should read up on the rules of hockey before going to see another hockey game. It would probably be even more enjoyable to watch if I understood everything, or even most, of what was going on. Unfortunately, the RoughRiders lost 4 to 2 to the Omaha Lancers. We went to the game tonight because Mel's work got tickets for employees and their families who wanted to attend. We plan on going to another RoughRiders game next month with one of Mel's coworkers, Penny, and Penny's sister, a former student of mine and a former coworker of Mel.

Prior to the hockey game, Mel and I went to dinner at Applebee's. Unlike the previous time we went to Applebee's, I ordered dinner from their WeightWatchers menu tonight. The meal was quite tasty, and it wasn't too bad for me. Unfortunately, we were delayed in getting our check because the people at the table behind use had an awful lot of questions for the waitress, so she couldn't get us our check right away. We ended up arriving at the hockey game just as it was about to begin.


Home Two Days in a Row

I worked from home yesterday as I have been doing on Wednesdays for a few weeks now. Today I stayed home again though because I wasn't feeling too well, and I needed to take Emma to the doctor as well. Emma is just fine. Taking her to the doctor was just a precaution as we thought she could be coming down with an ear infection. However, the doctor didn't find anything wrong.

I, on the other hand, do have something wrong. For about a week now, I have been getting headaches on the right side of my head. Initially I blamed it on a tooth that I have previously had a filling in. I figured that it had developed another cavity. I went to the dentist yesterday for a regular checkup and I asked him to check out the tooth. There was nothing wrong there. Despite that, my headaches have gotten progressively worse over the course of the week. After my dentist appointment, I noticed that the dull, throbbing pain was located more in the area around my inner right ear, so I began to think that I had an ear infection. I tried to get in to see my doctor today, but she didn't have any appointments available. Despite that, my description of my symptoms to her nurse was enough for her to phone a prescription for an antibiotic to the pharmacy. With all errands I had to run today -- taking Emma to the doctor and to daycare, and picking up my prescription -- I managed to get some work done that had to be completed today.


My Blog's Reading Level

After seeing that Brent from Law & Disorder found a website that rates one's blog's reading level, and finding out this his is rated "elementary school," I decided to check out what the website thought my blog's reading level was. Here are the results:

cash advance

I can't say that I am at all disapointed by the results.

The Google

One of the things that I like to do with my blog is determine how people stumble upon visiting Mathman's Ramblings. The counter I use tracks such information, providing me with web site addresses of the pages from which people follow links to my blog. Sometimes I am amazed at what searches people do to find me and with where I place in some web searches. One recent example is a person from Portland, Oregon, who found my blog around 10:40 last night by Googling "maiden wine bitter dregs." In early September I wrote about the song sung by Spock in an episode of Star Trek, "Plato's Stepchildren," so it didn't surprise me that such a search would lead to my blog, but what I did find a bit surprising is that my blog is the third entry in the search as of 6:30 this morning, preceded only by a link to a YouTube video of the song, and the entry about it on Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki.

Weight Watchers Weeks 27 and 28

I knew the news wouldn't be good this morning when I weighed in once again after not weighing in last week because of my business trip to Atlanta. My last weigh-in before my trip began on Sunday of last week was 202.4 pounds. This morning's weight was 209.2 pounds, for an increase of 6.8 pounds in the past two weeks. This makes the change in my weight since starting Weight Watchers 22.2 pounds, down from the maximum of 32.4 pounds that occurred on October 3 when my weight was down to 199 pounds. This week, I am going to carefully follow the Weight Watchers Flex plan and get the exercise that I need. This should help to get me back on track.


City Election Day

Today is Election Day 2007 and there isn't much to vote on in my precinct in Cedar Rapids. The only race that I can vote on is one at-large city council seat. So, I get to choose between four candidates for one city council seat. Two of them are names I recognize, Tom Podzimek, the incumbent who seems to be doing a fairly decent job, and P. Thomas Larson, who has been running (and losing) in almost every city election I can remember for a very long time. In addition to these two, there are relative newcomers to Cedar Rapids politics, Nancy L. Bruner and Larry D. Sharp. They may have run for office previously, but I honestly can't remember them. Once dropping Emma off at daycare this morning, I will be stopping at my polling place to cast my ballot. I don't anticipate much of a wait in line as the county auditor is not forecasting much of a turnout for the election today.


Return to Standard Time

Last night before going to bed, I went throughout the house setting every clock back an hour in preparation of the the of standard time at 2:00 this morning. Lately, Emma has been waking up around 5:30 in the morning, which works out pretty well on weekdays, since that's around the time Mel and I get up for work, but naturally, Emma doesn't quite understand the concept of daylight saving time/standard time. Of course, there are many adults who don't understand it either. Anyway, despite my trying to explain to my seven-month-old baby that she could sleep an extra hour this morning, she decided to wake up at about 4:15, which to her is about the same time she has been waking up every day. Since I volunteered to get up with her, I do not get the extra hour of sleep that often comes with standard time. Perhaps I'll go back to bed if I can get her to go back to sleep this morning. Now I just have to figure out how to get the baby to adjust to the change back to standard time.


Free Time in the ATL

We got done with the work we had to do in Atlanta yesterday afternoon, but we didn't finish with enough time for me to catch a flight last night, so today two of my coworkers and I did a little sightseeing in Atlanta. We went downtown to see the World of Coca-Cola. I got my picture taken on my cellphone camera with the Coca-Cola polar bear. The World of Coca-Cola was neat. We saw a 4-D movie with a hundred or so fourth graders who were there on a field trip for school. The movie was fun, but my favorite part was the tasting experience which offered over seventy different products that produces for different parts of the world. I tried every one of them except for the varieties that are commonly available in the United States. One of my favorites was Sprite Ice from India. If you drink it really fast, it actually seems to get colder as it is drunk. I also liked the pineapple-flavored soft drink that they sell in South Africa.

World of Coca-Cola Polar Bear
After visiting the World of Coca-Cola, the three of us walked through Centennial Olympic Park to get to the CNN Center where we had lunch at Jocks & Jills Sports Grill. We had a good lunch before returning to our hotel which we promptly left to get to the airport.

CNN Center Atlanta

I got to the airport a little after 2:00, but my flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 7:45, so I had a lot of time to kill. I ended up watching a couple of Star Trek episodes, "Requiem for Methuselah" and "The Cloud Minders," on DVD on my laptop computer. That took up some of the time. I also walked up and down the concourse and had dinner. Fortunately, the flight left on time and I arrived back in Cedar Rapids around 9:00 tonight.


Embassy Suites

Despite the fact that I haven't been sleeping that great, I do like the hotel that we are staying at, the Embassy Suites Hotel Atlanta Airport. They serve a really good breakfast each morning with made-to-order omelets available. The lunches we have had at the hotel have been really good. I've heard that today's lunch is grilled chicken and grilled salmon. I am really looking forward to the salmon. Then, each evening from 5:30 to 7:30 is the Manager's Reception in the hotel atrium with free drinks. I have been limiting myself to no more than two drinks at the reception. Despite that, I think I am still going to be returning home from this business trip at least ten pounds heavier! I have no plans on weighing myself until my next regular weigh-in day though, next Wednesday.

One problem with staying at the hotel near the airport is that I haven't really seen Atlanta at all. I could be staying in a hotel in any city for what I have experienced being here. After arriving at the airport, I took the shuttle to the hotel. I did leave the hotel Tuesday night with a group of my coworkers to walk to a restaurant, Joe's Restaurant and Bar, for dinner. This is the only restaurant within walking distance from the hotel, aside from the hotel's own restaurant of course. But I suppose that is a common issue with business trips, as the last trip I went on, to Philadelphia, was quite similar. At least with the last project I worked on, we drove to our destination, so we had a rental car and were therefore able to get out to a wider variety of places to dine.

Still Not Sleeping Well

I have not slept well at all this week at the hotel at which I am staying in Atlanta. At the beginning of the week, I thought it was due to the temperature in the room as I had a hard time setting it where I want it to be, but at this point I think it is because I am coming down with a cold. I just haven't been feeling that great, and I think it's affecting my sleep. Also, the flight coming into Hartsfield-Jackson Airport at 5:00 in the morning doesn't help much since it sounds like it's right outside the window of my hotel room.