Thursday, July 20, 2006

Moldy Cheese

Admitting that you have a problem is the first step towards getting help. Well, I have a problem. I write poetry.

"Hello, my name is Ben, and I write poetry."

"Hi, Ben."

So what's the problem? It's not like I tie people to chairs and force them to listen to my poetry. Heck, I can count the number of public readings I've done on my thumbs.

The problem is that, often, my first instinct in any given situation is to write a poem about it.

Take last week for example. I'm in the break room at work, pouring myself a cup of coffee, when I notice that some one left a block of cheddar out of the fridge too long. Now it's got "friends". You know, green and gray fuzzy friends.

No one's name is on it. It's obviously no good. But did I toss it in the trash? No. I wrote a poem:

Whose cheese is this? I think it's old
For I have noticed growing mold
And I have not yet grown so bold
That I should toss it out

So what have I done? The cheese is still moldering on the counter, I've wasted at least 5 minutes of my life writing useless doggerel, and I've potentially alienated fans of Robert Frost.

Maybe there's hope for me yet. I mean, I did admit that I have this problem. And, more importantly, I went back and threw out the cheese.

Wooden Trains

Did I mention that Harry likes trains? He made this one yesterday. No help from anyone:

Wooden Train

By the way, he'll be four next month.

Wooden Train Creator

Last night, Harry and I looked at some steam powered robots some one had made.

He really liked the hybrid of a steam locomotive and an RC centipede. I liked them all. Genius!

Harry wanted to know if we could make these. I said yes, but -- looking at the massive complexity of it all -- definitely not tomorrow.

"Can we do it tonight?"

He's a cutie.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy Birthday, Gilly!

In honor of Gillian's second birthday today, I am reposting two blog entries about her. Happy birthday, cutie!

Gillian with beads

Family News

Gretchen had a doctor's appointment on Monday.

The appointment with her ob/gyn was to investigate a few irregularities Gretchen's been experiencing lately. At the doctor's office, she had an exam, a blood test, and she and the doctor discussed what might be causing these problems. The discussion focused the possibility of a fibroid mass or an enlarged ovary, but of course one subject couldn't be avoided: cancer.

Despite the impending snowstorm, Gretchen was scheduled for an ultrasound on Wednesday -- today. She and her doctor agreed that it was best not to wait. When the storm proved to be minor, we were relieved that Gretchen would be able to have her test. Out of concern for her health and for reassurance, I took a personal day. I watched Harry while she was getting her ultrasound.

The ultrasound pictures, combined with the blood work results, are conclusive. She has a cancer growing inside her. Well, we're pretty sure it's a cancer. It could be a leo. It really depends on whether this baby will be born in early August or late July. That's right! Harry's going to be a middle child!

Gretchen is very, very happy. I'm also happy, but very, very stunned. I honestly expected much worse news. I'm tempted to name the sucker "Fibroid Apoptosis" as payback for the stress.

# Posted by Ben Ide on 1/28/04

19 inches, 6 pounds, 14 ounces

Gretchen's water broken at about quarter of eleven Saturday night when Nicky, our oldest, surprised her at the side of our bed. He'd just had a nightmare, and when Gretchen twisted around suddenly, gloosh! She dribbled off to the bathroom while I reassured Nicky...

Six-year-old logic:

"Where's the glass?"


"Mommy's glass?"


"You said her water broke. I don't want to step on the glass."

"Oh. Um, it's not that kind of water. There wasn't a glass or cup or anything."

I hear giggling from the bathroom.

"So where did the water come from? Did it fall out of her mouth?"

Now the giggling is outright laughter. It grows to hysterics as I try to explain in as little detail as possible while mopping up the floor.

Gramma comes over and we drive to the hospital by 11:30. At 1 AM we're in the delivery room but the baby's not cooperating. Two measly contractions and that's it. At about 5 AM we opt for pretosin. Gillian Sophia Ide is born at 10 AM, Sunday, the 18 of July, 2004.

I was in a deep fog for the rest of the day. Even a two hour nap and a shower only barely helped me regain focus. Today, I've gotten a full night's sleep and a couple cups of coffee, so I'm doing much better.

# Posted by Ben Ide on 7/19/04



More of my famous neighbors, this time it's the folks who work downstairs from me, the Lamont Library Reference Department.

Harvard has many, many libraries but what make Lamont's Reference professionals stand out is not their specialization but their generalization. In a world of detail-oriented specialists, sometimes the hardest thing you can do is answer any question on any topic (at almost any time).

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Nicky's home!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Hey, Kids!

Print out two copies of this picture.

Cut out all the white parts of the first printout.

Now cut out all the gray AND white parts of the second printout.

You now have a two-stage stencil to use with light-colored spray paint on dark-colored surfaces.

Rather use dark-colored paint on a light-colored surface? Just cut out the black parts and then the black and gray parts on your two printouts and go to town!


The Truth About Superman

...He's a dick.

I didn't quite believe it at the time, but a while ago I'd heard that Superman was originally conceived to be more of a villain than a good guy. I mean, if he was evil, what would have stopped him from destroying the world, or doing anything else he wanted for that matter? But no, he wasn't evil, he was just a jerk.

Later, his image was changed to make him into the mild mannered defender of truth, justice, and the American way that we all know and love.

But he was really a dick.

This is a happy camper
Nicky's at camp this week -- ECC. He loves it there.

Cute, but fretful
Gillian, looking cute but fretful during the drop off.

Watching, waiting...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the kitties eagerly await Nicky's return.

Monday, July 10, 2006

From the New York Times (Arts/Art & Design); July 10, 2006
Renovations to a Study Room by Aalto Splits Harvard Faculty

A renovation of a Harvard University poetry reading room designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto has drawn heated objections from architects and preservationists.

I've included some "before and after" pictures for those of you who don't know what the uproar is about.

Here's the before:
Woodbury Poetry Room

And the after:
Total crap

Nice, huh? Very spacious. And modern, too!

Spying at SCSU (my alma mater)

From Edupage, July 07, 2006:

Surveillance reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the Department of Defense monitored student e-mail as part of its efforts to identify and track potential terrorist suspects. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network filed requests for the information, and the reports released so far cover e-mail surveillance at the State University of New York at Albany, Southern Connecticut State University, the University of California at Berkeley, and William Paterson University of New Jersey. Student e-mail was monitored when it dealt with protests against the war in Iraq or against the military's "don't ask, don't tell" program concerning gay and lesbian members of the armed forces. Instances of monitoring were evidently prompted by reports of suspicious behavior, but a Pentagon spokesperson would not say who submitted the reports that led to the monitoring described in the surveillance reports. Kermit Hall, president of SUNY-Albany, said his institution is investigating the nature of the monitoring and how it was conducted and would decide later how to proceed.

Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 July 2006 (sub. req'd)

Thursday, July 06, 2006


My doctor tells me that death is unavoidable for most people in my
income bracket.