PAgent’s Progress

Words Are My Favorite Toys

September 24th, 2006

The Last Knit

When knitting becomes obsession…

September 23rd, 2006

The Introverted Parent

After decades of both blatant and subliminal harassment, I was fortunate enough to discover that I was an introvert. Well, that’s not quite accurate, I knew I was an introvert, it’s just that I had been conditioned to believe that this was a defect, on par with other forms of mental illness. It was only after dabbling a bit in Myers-Briggs personality typology that I learned that introversion was not a character flaw, it was a predisposition. And that there were others that, like me, did not enjoy being surrounded by strangers.

(If you want a quick run-down on the difference between Extroversion and Introversion, this is a good summary)

This was a revelation. After all those years of apologizing because I didn’t really want to go hang out in a crowded bar, or go to someone’s party, or even stand in line for tickets, I could acknowledge that my feelings were legitimate. For those of you that may have realized that you are now (gasp) living with an introvert, I suggest you read this excellent article on the care and feeding of introverts.

It’s all well and good to acquire self-knowledge, and to reach some accommodation with your own predispositions. However there are still obligations imposed by society that require us to face difficult situations head-on. And for us introverts, there are few obligations quite as demanding as a Grade School Open House.

My wife, bless her heart, is active in our children’s school. She has a nametag. She has been on committees, worked in classrooms, and knows the staff by their first names. It is not unusual for a small child I have never seen before to run up to us and give my wife a hug. I strongly support her commitment to our school and her involvement in our children’s education.

Except when it begins to conflict with say, having edible food in the house, but I digress.

However, even though my wife is glad to shoulder the burden of being a parent activist for our children, there are still several times each year when I am invited to attend a function at their school. And by invited, I mean expected to attend. The Open House at the beginning of each school year is such an event.

I believe that It Takes a Village to raise a child, and I’m the first to acknowledge that this school is Our Village. I think it’s important to hear the school’s priorities, and their philosophy on conflict resolution. It’s good to actually meet your child’s teacher, and hear what they expect from your child. But dear God, I’d rather have my toenails pulled out with rusty needle-nose pliers than attend Open House.

The school is filled with parents and small children. The noise level is indescribable, as children from kindergarten to fifth grade are constitutionally unable to either sit still or remain silent. Plus, younger siblings being pushed around in strollers add their wails and shrieks to the mix. Going down the hallway means rubbing elbows with the horde, while squeezing into the cafeteria for the spaghetti dinner ($2 suggested donation) or into the gymnasium for the presentation requires a genuine effort of will. And of course with so many bodies, it gets hot and stuffy in short order.

This would be challenging for me under the best of circumstances. But I don’t have the option of coping with the chaos when I’m fresh and rested. No, I have to come straight to the school from work, straight from my evening commute. I’m starting out feeling wilted and cranky, and it only goes downhill from there.

After perching on a tiny wobbly bench seat to eat spaghetti and garlic bread from a paper plate, after sitting in a noisy gym listening to the principal describe how important it is to read to my children, after fighting through the hallway like a salmon trying to spawn, I am now perfectly willing to saw my own leg off in order to escape.

We run into parents that we know. They look at me with concern. “Rough day at work? You look really tired.” Frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted from the constant struggle not to run screaming out onto the playground to get away from all of you. And every second I stand here in this waterfall of sound with a couple hundred other parents, and still don’t bolt for the door is a minor miracle.

Eventually, the evening comes to an end. Teachers have been introduced, classrooms have been visited. We have found our children’s artwork in the hallways. We have learned the expectations for homework in each of our children’s classes. Hands are shaken, and meaningful noises are made. And then I can finally escape. Escape home to the computer, or the XBox, or the solace of a good book. Finally, I can take a deep breath and begin to unwind from the stresses of the day, in the refuge of my own space.

And I try not to think about the Christmas program looming on the horizon.

September 22nd, 2006

Music Video Madness

Culture Club - Time (Clock Of The Heart)

Oooh - note the appearance of a ‘keytar’.

Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time

Styx - Too Much Time On My Hands (Live)

REO Speedwagon - Time For Me To Fly (Live)

September 21st, 2006

What up, my ninja?


go to Fodey for your own animated Ninja text.

September 20th, 2006

Wet and Wild

Okay, I’ve ridden home in the pouring rain twice now, and I have to say, I don’t like it.

I’m not a big fan of riding when it’s cold. But I have a whole new perspective now on cold and dry, versus cold and wet. My glasses get covered with rain droplets, and they fog up. As my socks get soaked, my toes get cold. Puddles obscure the potholes in the bike lane, and the whole bike jars when I hit one. It’s just thoroughly miserable. By the time I get home, I’m chilled

The last time I visited my General Practitioner, and I explained that I was riding my bike a lot more for exercise, he said “What are you going to do when it starts raining?” I’ve got rain gear, I said. I put fenders on my bike. I’ll keep riding.

He just looked at me. “Get a gym membership.” he said. “So you keep exercising over the winter.”

Please, just let me get through September, and we’ll see how it goes.


The girl continues to be … better. Lately, though, she really seems to be pushing her luck with some particular behaviors. If you tell her to do something, she’ll argue with you. If you tell her to do it NOW, she’ll dawdle. She’ll ask one of us, while we’re fixing dinner, if we can order in Thai food, and when she is told ‘no’, she’ll stomp off and pout.

It’s beginning to drive me crazy.

Several times her behavior has been outrageous enough that either the wife or have checked to verify that she has taken her pill for that day. And she has.

This has worried me a bit. It seems like the girl is acting out in ways that we had hoped her medication would help mediate. Are we losing ground? Is she accommodating to the meds? But when I actually mentioned my concerns to the wife, she quickly gave me a reality check. It seems that the mothers of the other girls that are pushing 11 years old are seeing the the same kinds of behavior.

This isn’t something that we can deal with through either therapy or medication. This is the looming foreshadow of having a teenager in the house.

I’m afraid.

September 19th, 2006


I realize that my ramblings on this site tend to gravitate toward geek humor, eating, and the travails of parenting.

Well, I’m going to make a conscious effort to change that. From now on, you can come to PAgent’s Progress for some real culture. For sophisticated entertainment. The kind of thing you can tell your English teacher about, and she won’t just groan and pop another Prozac.

To show you how serious I am about this, let me start off with this excerpt from the greatest of Shakespeare’s plays — Hamlet:

September 19th, 2006

Highly illogical

our results:
You are James T. Kirk (Captain)

James T. Kirk (Captain)
Jean-Luc Picard
Deanna Troi
Will Riker
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Geordi LaForge
Beverly Crusher
Mr. Scott
Mr. Sulu

You are often exaggerated and over-the-top
in your speech and expressions.
You are a romantic at heart and a natural leader.

Click here to take the “Which Star Trek character are you?” quiz…

No way I would have expected that result. Always thought I was more of a Scotty or Geordi.

Shamelessly horked from Miss Cellania

September 18th, 2006

Weird Al - White and Nerdy

I thought this was a great video. The only problem was, I had no idea what song he was parodying. I actually had to do a Google search to find out.

PAgent is sadly out of touch with pop culture.

September 18th, 2006

Cackling Cephalopod

I got an email from my hosting service today.

Effective immediately, we have increased the disk space and bandwidth
quotas associated with all of our hosting plans. These changes have
already been applied to your account at no additional cost. Here’s
what has changed:

Tiny Squid

disk space: 150MB increased to 200MB
bandwidth: 8GB/month increased to 10GB/month

Basic Squid

disk space: 400MB increased to 500MB
bandwidth: 20GB/month increased to 30GB/month

Giant Squid

disk space: 800MB increased to 1000MB
bandwidth: 40GB/month increased to 50GB/month

Squid Forwarding

bandwidth: 15GB/month increased to 30GB/month

Here’s more info on our hosting plans:

The timing on this is perfect, as even with the new and more robust hosting plan, at mid-September I had already blown through 84% of my bandwidth for the month. This may very well see me through to October.

And how cool is that? I once again congratulate myself for having Chosen Wisely.

September 17th, 2006

Family Dinner

My sister called me up this morning, and told me she felt like cooking something. She wanted to know if I wanted to cook something and have dinner together.

Silly question, really.

I made a list then ran off to the store for a couple of roasting chickens. After stuffing the cavities with about 50 (unpeeled) cloves of garlic each, I tied up the drumsticks and dusted them with an herb rub mixture. This is what they looked like:

Garlic Chicken - rubbed and ready

Once the Traeger was preheated, I tossed them on the grill and cooked them at ~325 degrees for about 2 hours and 45 minutes, using pecan pellets. When they came off the grill, they looked like this:

Garlic Chicken

I fished the roasted garlic out of the birds to squeeze onto bread, but it wasn’t quite soft enough to be spreadable. My sister brought over a huge pan of scalloped potatoes and ham, and some fresh sugar snap peas.

I made a tart to finish out the meal. It’s one of my favorites for summer get-togethers, and really shows off Oregon’s supply of delicious berries:

Berry Tart

That’s a pastry crust, cooked, and filled with a mixture of mascarpone and heavy cream, whipped with a little sugar and a touch of vanilla extract. I tossed blackberries, raspberries and blueberries with a glaze made by reducing a little orange liquour and marmalade, then piled them on top of the mascarpone. This is one of the best recipes I have. It always turns out terrific. The glaze adds a touch of sweetness, but doesn’t cover up the fresh flavor of the berries at all. The mascarpone filling is heavenly and light. Usually you would also add sliced strawberries to the mixture, but my wife loathes them.

With the weather turning, and berries going out of season, I don’t know how many more meals like this I will be preparing. This one turned out well, though.