Thursday, June 29, 2006

Iran next?

The Divine Strake bomb test in Nevada has been postponed until at least September, but appears to be related to Iran's supposed hiding places for nuclear materials. Sigh.

In other news, I'm on the county Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Advisory Board and we are seeking new members. If you know anyone who wants to apply, let me know. Maybe we will let you on even if you live 3000 miles away.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mr. Messy Mouth

Thanks to Tommy's mom for bringing over some cupcakes.

Now we know what Douglas will look like if he ever grows a beard.

Schools, schools, schools

The Task Force did a workshop with the school board last night that I attended and presented their recommendation for closing our school. The Board seemed to take it very positively, which sort of surprised me. About a half dozen people stood up and gave reasons why Valley Oak should not be closed, but overall there was not too much public comment. The Board asked the Task Force to do more outreach to the VO community, particularly the non-English-speaking parents, and to study a few more angles of the issue such as transportation. But overall it appears that this may well happen. Even the board member whose kids are at VO, while she was very upset about it and didn't want to rule out the possibility of keeping all the schools open, said "I can kind of see the writing on the wall."

It looks like there may be just one more year for Valley Oak.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Nice weekend

We had a fun weekend, including a playdate with Owen and friend Eleanor (involving stacking every movable item in the room against the bedroom door so no one could come in), a nice visit with Rob, and a trip to Berkeley yesterday. Mom, Douglas and I went to Article Pract, a cool knitting store in Oakland. Apparently (according to the website) the name is based on a spoonerism for "practical art." Their phone number is 595-PURL.

Friday, June 23, 2006

School, continued

I went with the mother of Owen's remaining friend in the class to the District office to fill out an intradistrict transfer form today for the fall. We'll see what happens. We are crossing our fingers.

Then we went to the UC-Davis Rec Pool. Quite cheap ($2.75 for me and the two kids to get in), and a fun pool. We saw several people we know there. It was 103 yesterday, something close to that today and it's supposed to be 105 tomorrow.

My friend Rob Edsall from high school will be stopping over at our place tomorrow night en route to a conference in Portland.

School worries

I went to the task force meeting last night and they decided unanimously to recommend to the school board the closure of Valley Oak for fall 2007. They will be meeting with the school board on Monday night to go through their recommendations. While it's up to the school board to decide, clearly Valley Oak at this point is going to have few resources and little backing. I also learned that the teacher we have grave concerns about is quite likely to be Owen's teacher for this fall.

Given those two facts, plus the fact that almost all of his friends from kindergarten live in the new neighborhood and thus are going to be at the new school this fall, we are seriously considering trying to get an interdistrict transfer this summer so that he could start elsewhere in the fall. Part of the problem is that if the board does decide to close it, we don't know with absolute certainty what school he would be sent to in 2007. However, the school that is the "overflow school" this coming year is Birch Lane, and that is the second closest school after Valley Oak, so it is not unlikely that he would be sent there in 2007 anyway. So, we may try for that.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

101.5 F

according to our thermometer in the front yard. Here is Owen with some neighbors on the slip 'n' slide.

GA library

Georgia library cuts funds for Spanish books - because some illegal immigrants might read them.
It's a good thing no native English speakers ever break any laws; otherwise they wouldn't deserve to read any library books, either.

Thanks a lot, GWB, for manufacturing a crisis and causing outcomes like this.

Hot, hotter, hottest

I took the kids to the pool yesterday afternoon, which was a nice break. It hit 100 yesterday and is expected to be at least that high, probably higher, for the next several days.

Owen is going to baseball camp in the mornings this week. He is really enjoying it. Two of the kids were on his tee ball team this spring, so it helped that he knew some kids already. Yesterday they had a scrimmage (with the 5, 6, and 7 year olds) and he hit a single, a triple, and a home run. He also played first base and got someone out.

We managed to catch the Colbert Report last night, which we rarely do any more now that it is light so late and the kids are staying up later. My favorite line was when he was discussing the new (female) leader of the Episcopal church. He began a sentence with, "Now, I don't have anything against women in church - after all, somebody's got to run the bake sale..."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Shasta Lake

is where we will be camping next weekend with friends from Oregon. Not bad, eh?

Other summer plans include Norfolk (and the Norfolk Tides and Virginia aquarium), and NYC (and, according to Julia, the Diana Ross Playground).

Monday, June 19, 2006

Baseball Camp

Now that school is out, we've had to plan a lot of activities to keep Owen busy and us gainfully employed. Today was the first day of the Davis Youth Baseball Camp, which runs through the week. Owen was looking forward to it, especially since he'll get to show everyone his new cleats (it's all about the gear, you know).

I couldn't help but feel sorry for Douglas, though. All the talk about baseball camp got him really excited, and he was very disappointed to learn he wasn't old enough to go. All morning, he claimed he was going to "little baseball camp." I guess his time will come.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Douglas at the pool

today... he saw his bathing suit shorts dripping and said, "Mama, I didn't pee. My shorts peed."

Happy father's day

to all the dads out there.

Dan is outside pitching to the kids right now.

Friday, June 16, 2006

LTE published

I wrote the Bee earlier in the week because they had an article about maternity leave illustrated with a cartoon of a woman bottle feeding. They published it today. I wasn't really intending for them to publish it, so it's not terribly well written, but I'm glad they printed it anyway. Here it is:
Re: "Pregnant pauses," Scene, June 13.I would appreciate it if The Bee would choose breastfeeding rather than bottle feeding as a topic for illustration. Most new mothers in California do breastfeed, and it is by far the healthiest way to feed an infant. The more it is depicted in the media, the more normal and expected breastfeeding will be. For the health of children in California, please do what you can to support breastfeeding.

-- Katherine Heck



Owning a home is so much fun.

We have termites eating a hole in our computer room floor, just confirmed by the pest guy. Hopefully not a very big case of them. The guy said often they just come straight up a post from the ground, in which case it wouldn't be too big. They will be able to crawl underneath the house next week and find out how extensive the damage is. Then they'll spray the ground - thank goodness for having a raised foundation; if it were a slab they'd have to drill holes in the slab to treat it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Last day of kindergarten!

Today was the last day of kindergarten. The kids counted 180 blocks, one for each day of the year. They gave some little performances for the parents.

Here's a picture of Owen receiving his "diploma" from his two teachers.

And participating in a brief play called "Fish School." His line was, "Make sure you bring enough worms to share with everyone."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

High Country News

We just got our first issue of High Country News. It's a biweekly newspaper based out of a small town in Colorado, that publishes environmentally focused articles about the West. So far it looks interesting.

Last week of kindergarten.

Owen gets out of school on Thursday. For some mysterious reason, the afternoon kindergarten is going in the morning all week, along with the morning kindergarten class. They are basically having a fun week with no learning whatsoever. Yesterday they went to the park; today they did art; tomorrow they are going to the Sacramento Zoo; and Thursday they are having a sort of graduation ceremony, or something like that.

Dan was working late tonight (fortunately arrived home just before the kids' bedtime). I took the kids to the hospital to see our neighbor and drop off some magazines for her. She's been in 8 days already and will probably be in for quite a while longer. She has 3 young kids at home; her parents have come to help take care of them. I hope she is better soon. She hasn't been able to eat for close to 6 weeks now. Today they took her to the hospital in Sacramento to have a nutrition line put into her vein so at least now she is getting some nutrients.

Monday, June 12, 2006


James Carville at Loyola University's commencement last weekend: "How many of you here graduated with a 4.0, raise your hands? I had a 4.0 on my graduation day. It was my blood alcohol level."

Events of the day

Owen and friend today. Afternoon kindergarteners are going in the morning all week... who knows why. I had these two after school today. They had a good time playing baseball and fooling around at the park.

Violet has grown a lot! She's still very affectionate and playful. Yesterday she had her first trip outside, and she went outside again for a little while today. So far so good. I am a little worried that she will go over the back fence and disappear, but so far she's been staying pretty near the house.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


We had friends over for a barbecue last night and the grill ran out of propane just as I was about to put the burgers and hot dogs on. Oops. Dan unfortunately was stuck at work until 12:30 am. Hopefully that is about done for the season, though, since the legislature was closing out yesterday.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Tonight is Valley Oak's school carnival. Perhaps the second to last?

I organized the pizza donations for the carnival and am in charge of the bean bag toss. Hopefully Dan will be able to get off work in time to attend.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

More school stuff

I went to the schools task force again last night. They came close to making a final decision to recommend closing Valley Oak. They will go to the School Board on the 26th with their final recommendations. They crossed off several of the options they have discussed because they are not workable for one reason or another. Still possibly on the table is the "9 school option" of running all the schools (advocated by one member in particular), but several task force members indicated they would not support that option because it is too expensive and has negative ramifications for the school environment both at Valley Oak and Birch Lane.

We have mixed feelings about all this, but ultimately I think closing the school is the least-worst option, particularly if they do mitigation such as help with transportation for the kids who need it most. I feel good that at least I helped to transform their closing option into something that I think will be more viable for the kids at Valley Oak.

More school stuff

I went to the task force meeting last night. They came close to making a final decision to recommend to the school board that Valley Oak school be closed. They will meet again next week to sort their final list of recommendations to the school board. Then they're going to the board on the 26th to give them their recommendations. They crossed several options off the list last night as not being workable or viable for one reason or another.

It's a difficult and painful process to see them reach this conclusion, since it will effectively destroy our local school. At the same time, the option of keeping it open is, I think, even worse given that they are most likely going to open the other school and suck away most of the families who really support Valley Oak. We have mixed feelings for sure, but I think this is the best option, or at least the least-worst option.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Elections and other stuff

The city council race ended in a surprise, at least on one front: the 27 year old Safeway bagger and UCD linguistics lecturer, Lamar Heystek, cruised to a second place finish, behind the mayor. Those two will be on the city council, along with three others who were not up for election this time. It was a very close race, with just 300 votes separating the 1st and 4th place finishers.

Dan and I were disappointed that Phil Angelides beat Steve Westly in the gubernatorial primary. We doubt Angelides can beat Schwarzenegger, but we thought Westly would have a shot.

However, we were delighted that Measure G, the local parks tax, passed with more than 70 percent of the vote. Our family are great users of the Davis parks and we're happy to help fund their upkeep.

Last night I started reading Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America by James Webb, who is running for Senate in Virginia. The book tells the history of the Scots-Irish and their emigration. It's pretty interesting, sort of along the lines of one component of Albion's Seed. I noticed Webb referenced Albion's Seed in the notes.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ballot Box Blogging

Tomorrow is an election day here in California. In addition to the statewide primaries, we need to decide on candidates for the Davis City Council. There are two seats open, and I'm having a very hard time making up my mind. A big issue in town is growth, both in regard to what extent we should grow and how we should go about it. This is a particularly important issue as the next council will be responsible for developing the city's next General Plan. The current plan expires in 2010.

The town is still smarting a bit from the fight over the proposed Covell Village development, which would have converted open land into a 1,900-unit housing tract. The controversial project was approved on a 4-1 vote by the city council, and was rejected 60%-40% by the voters, who, under local Measure J, have the right to vote on proposed open land developments. Some of the city council candidates, as you might expect, are using the issue to gain traction in the election.

The two biggest "antis" in the field are Lamar Heystek and Stan Forbes. Both candidates are firmly in the slow-growth camp, but, temperamentally, couldn't be more different. Stan is a local farmer and book store owner who has served previously on the council. He's a white-haired gent with a beard and a subdued demeanor who loves to talk about zoning laws and general plans. Not much for pandering, Stan gives the appearance of the reluctant candidate. Lamar, by contrast, is a young Safeway employee who gives the appearance of preferring campaigning to anything else (at age 26, he's already in his second council race).

Linked by the local progressive community, Stan and Lamar have been running almost as a team. It's very common to see yard signs of both candidates in front of local homes. To the extent there is a consensus on the race, though, it would appear that only one of them is likely to win a seat on the council, if any, as most assume that incumbent Ruth Asmundson will win one of the two available slots.

The other major candidate (sorry, Rob) is Mike Levy. Mike is an attorney for the state Water Resources Control Board. He's more or less been paired with Asmundson as a pro-growth candidate, but he doesn't appear to be quite as strong on the development pedal as she is, as noted by the fact that he was okay with Covell Village when it was a 900-unit proposal, but opposed the final package due to its size. Mike has focused great attention in his race on the fact that he is the only candidate in the race with young children, and he'll bring a family-friendly perspective to the council (as a father of two young boys, I assume he'll also bring a very tired perspective to those lengthy council meetings...). He is also interested in providing free city-wide Wi-Fi access.

I had been leaning toward Forbes, but I was troubled to discover that he was in favor of Prop 187 several years back. He now says his thinking has evolved on the issue, but it does give me pause. The problem I face is that I would like some more balance on the council in regard to growth, but I'm reluctant to vote for Heystek as I think he is all hat and no cattle, as they say in Texas (at least, I hope they say things like that). My conversations with him have rarely gotten past bumper sticker responses.

So, I guess the questions I'll be weighing over the next 14 hours or so are:

1) Should growth be the number 1 consideration? It's obviously an important issue for Davis, but has the community shown it can handle the issue through the exercise of Measure J?

2) Has Forbes truly evolved enough to earn my vote? I feel there is much to recommend him as a candidate, but some of his earlier views make me wonder how I'd be represented if he were elected.

3)Would Levy provide any meaningful brake on the current council's pro-development leanings? His "smart-growth" approach would fit nicely on a more balanced council, but he might not represent more than a speed bump for this council.

4) Would Heystek be a good choice for this council regardless of my misgivings over his seeming callowness? He is energetic and would clearly provide balance for the council. It also might not be a bad thing to have one person on the council that was younger than 40. Of course, if elected, he'll probably just start campaigning for his next office...

One way or another, we'll know the winners tomorrow night.

Bay Area fun

We went to the Bay Area yesterday. Dan and Owen went to see the A's, who beat the Twins 5-1. They saw a couple of home runs.

Douglas, my mother and I went up to Tilden Park and rode the merry-go-round and went to the Little Farm. Douglas enjoyed patting a bunny and seeing some brand new baby piglets nursing from their enormous mother.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Poison oak?

Owen has a rash on the back of his legs, and I'm starting to wonder if it is poison oak from our camping trip. Apparently it takes 7-10 days for it to show up if it is the first time you have been exposed. It is in kind of an odd place though, toward the top of his legs... ? Maybe he sat on some? I'm not sure, maybe it's something else.

Nothing much new...

Dan worked late last night. Yesterday afternoon I took the kids over to sign Owen up for the last of the summer camps he'll be attending. Soccer, baseball, science, basketball, and friends will be there as well... hopefully it will be fun.

We don't have too many plans for the weekend. Dan has a double header - two softball games tonight. Their team is the Food Fighters, since most of the players work in (or are graduate students in) the UC-Davis food science department. The women on the team are really good. Dan and our friend Matthew are kind of the old guard. Most of the players are in their 20s.