blawwgery grace in small things

Grace in Small Things #1

Puttering around the internets, I saw a link to Schmutzie’s Grace in Small Things project.

I figure any war against embitterment can use as many people as possible, so I’m going to give this a shot. Maybe it’ll get me accustomed to posting more over here. This site is quickly becoming a repository for the Attrition Game and YouTube videos I don’t want to lose.

Without further ado….

  1. I have access to central air conditioning. This is WONDERFUL, considering mid-MO’s been in the midst of a massive heat wave for over a month.
  2. I now know how to play chess. I never thought I’d be able to learn. Now I have the rest of my life to hone my skills. This makes me incredibly happy.
  3. I worked out over lunch, so now my evening’s completely free.
  4. Avocados.
  5. The last FOX race is on this weekend. (I may use this more than once. Is that against the rules?)

Yes, I realize everyone did this back in 2010 and stuff. What can I say…things take a little longer to get to mid-Missouri?



Today was a Good Day.

  1. I played chess. A lot. I’m learning from probably the best teacher out there. He’s not a chess master, but he knows how to teach. Helps massively.
  2. I watched a group of my students walk across the stage and accept their undergraduate degrees. Of the four who walked, two are coming back to complete their Master’s degree in September. Feels good, man. Feels good.
  3. Did I mention the chess? Seriously. I have never felt so challenged in my life. Learning from someone else – not from a book, not from aimless trial and error – is refreshing.

As part of my ongoing quest to learn chess, I’ve started talking to some of my peers regarding their knowledge of the game. It’s interesting to hear how many people were taught by their fathers (my sample is still small, but once I’ve collected more data I will report final findings back to my loyal reader). My dad never learned, and I’ve honestly never asked my mom if she played chess. I know it was never around the house (unless it was part of a checkers/chess set). We were more of a Trivial Pursuit/Scrabble/euchre house.

(Oh, euchre. That’s a post, all by itself. Why don’t more people know how to play? A true shame.)

Do you know how to play chess? If so, who taught you? How old were you when you first learned to play?


Attrition Game: Bahrain Grand Prix


I feel a bit like crags does…that we really should not be racing in Bahrain. However, Mr. E runs that show (not me, obviously!) and I don’t get to call the shots. I just hope for a clean, fast, safe race for all parties involved.

With that said, what a race!

WINNERS: For the first time this season, we have a winner! Actually, two winners! With four cars retiring before the checkers flew, @renee__french and @LargeEddie scored the first Attrition Game points for the year.

UPDATE: @mihalis68, I missed your name. We have THREE winners. (go kimi) Very, very sorry for the oversight. Won’t happen again, I promise.

Well done, you! Well done.


Coconut Macaroons

For @lvp1955

(Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook…you know, the one with the red-and-white checkered cover.)

  • 1 package (5 1/3 cups) shredded sweetened coconut
  • 8 egg whites
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar (I may eventually cut this down, but this is how the recipe scaled)
  • 1 tablespoon good Mexican vanilla extract

Preheat over to 325 degrees. Make sure your oven rack is in the center of your oven. Lightly spray a baking sheet (I use Air Bake sheets) with cooking spray.

Using a stand mixer or other comparable implement of whipping destruction, beat the egg whites and vanilla at high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, beating constantly, until stiff peaks form and the mixture starts looking glossy and wonderful. Fold in the entire package of coconut.

Use a small scoop (mine holds probably about a tablespoon of dough, maybe less) to portion out cookies on the greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes on the center rack of your oven, or until cookies are lightly browned.

Remove from oven, cool for about a minute, move to rack to cool completely.

I usually rotate two sheets, and let the baking sheet cool between batches.

Makes about 40 cookies (I don’t know; I end up eating some of the broken ones, so it is hard to get an accurate count).

Warning! Cookies are incredibly fragile.

blawwgery F1

Tying Up Loose Ends

I post too much on Twitter. I don’t update here like I should if I really want this to take off.

Continuous incremental improvement, as my Boss would say.

In case you missed it, my sister’s health scare was a bit of a false alarm. She’s still got some sort of growth, but it’s not cancerous. With (new! updated! accurate!) information, it now sounds more like a ganglion cyst.

It’s complicated. I’ll leave it at that.

Today was a Good Day. I took a vacation day. Spent the morning talking with a good friend, making plans and discussing various topics. Sometimes the best conversations have no real point or purpose. They just happen.

Finished planting impatiens in the front flowerbeds today. Weeded the front herb garden, too. What a mess! I was going to mulch the asparagus in the garden (flowering already! strange spring!), but I ran out of time and momentum. With any luck, I won’t have to do any real work in the flowerbeds for the rest of the season.

I also made coconut macaroons today. If you have a stand mixer, these are the easiest cookies in the world to make. They’re sticky, though. Very, very sticky. They’re currently cooling in the kitchen while I watch the live stream of FP1. Limited running on track right now…the rain’s keeping the cars tucked away in their garages. Visibility (always dodgy in Shanghai) appears close to nonexistent with the ongoing drizzle and low clouds.

Final thoughts for today, at least on here: how on Earth will Circuit of the Americas fill those grandstands? Maybe I just hang in the poorer circles, but I’m not seeing a lot of folks biting on the PSL/season ticket options for the Austin track. I desperately want this race to work – there’s nothing quite like race weekends, for sure – but it just seems as though this plan isn’t going to help build momentum for the track…or for F1 in the US in general. I hope I’m wrong, and the grandstands are a total sellout.

(I still miss my $85 paddock box seats, though, right on start/finish. Oh, Indy.)

blawwgery F1

Now For Something Completely Different


…a contest!

I am still working out the details in my brain, but I think I need to take the next step with the Attrition Game and make this into a full-fledged contest.

What is the Attrition Game, you ask?

For years, my dad and I have watched the races “together” via Messenger. We trash-talk and joke throughout the entire race, and it’s a blast. Spending more time on Twitter during races has cut down on some of the messages, but the real gems are reserved for my dad. One of the regular “features” of our weekly race conversation concerned the Attrition Game: guessing the number of cars that would not finish the race (take the checkered flag). Over time, this grew to include the number of cars that would not make it through the first corner. Winner got nothing but bragging rights for the day on a completely stupid (and kind of mean) datapoint. I LOVE the Attrition Game.

Enter Twitter. Last year, a handful of incredibly fun people to talk to during races started providing their guesses. Winner got a shout-out post at the end of the game, and their own bragging rights for the day. Last year’s game even featured a nice Hamilton-Massa sub-game (lap number of first contact). Good times.

This year, I feel I need to reward those who play this silly game. However, I’m not sure how. I’m also honestly not sure about how to set some of the existing rules in stone – this game really started out as a silly joke between dad and kid, and was never designed to scale.

Suggestions? Hit me up on Twitter, please – I’m not ready to mess with comments yet.


Difficult Conversations

(For a little additional background, here’s a post with links and stuff: Distractions)

I talked to my parents last weekend.

“We told your grandmother.”

I told them of Hansland, and how I will be blogging about this saga (within limits, of course). Dad seemed a little surprised, as I hadn’t mentioned the site. I think he liked the idea of having a place where I could collect and disseminate information to the family, and they both agreed it was okay.

Monday morning, my cell phone rang. It was my little sister.

“I need someone to talk to me, to tell me what’s going on. What are they going to do? Why won’t the doctors just take a biopsy? I need someone to give me straight answers, and I can only get that from my big sister. I know you won’t bullshit me.”

Here we go.

I spent the next 20 minutes explaining how I thought they would do the biopsy, and how they could choose to do the biopsy if they wanted to remove the tumor immediately and start limb salvage at that time. She wanted to know what the chances were it wasn’t cancer. I told her I wasn’t sure, but it didn’t look good. I used this as an opportunity to remind her to follow Wheaton’s Law, to listen to her doctors, to ask questions, to find advocates and others who can help her navigate this new reality, to take care of herself.

Possibly the highlight of the entire conversation:

Me: “If the biopsy comes back, and it is malignant, they will take that part of your leg. They may have to take your knee, too. BUT! If they take your knee, they will give you a new Terminator knee! You will be CYBORG JENI. Wait a minute. Which leg is it? I’ve always gestured using my right leg, but no one seems to know!”

Jeni (formerly B): “The right leg. My driving leg. OF COURSE.”

Me: “Sweet! That should give you another excuse when a cop pulls you over for your chronic leadfoot. ‘But officer, my prosthetic knee locked! I couldn’t get off the gas!’ Who would give you a ticket after hearing that?”

Jeni: *laughing*

Yes, I am using her real name. I told her of Hansland, too. She is fine with this site, and has made this public, and it is silly to think you wouldn’t be able to find out my sister’s name.

I’ll be honest. My sister and I have always fought. Always. It’s embarrassing. After about 48 hours, we tend to start grating on each other’s nerves. She’s asked me to come and stay with her – to help out, to keep her entertained, to be there when she needs me. It may be a week or two. It may be more.

I’ll do it. Without hesitation.

March 21st is when she meets with the doctor, to find out the plan. No diagnosis until biopsy. No diagnosis until biopsy. No diagnosis until biopsy.




Still waiting on official word, but it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s probably wrong. B* was turned down today by the second surgeon, and referred to a surgical oncologist affiliated with Northwestern University. Dr. Peabody specializes in sarcomas, limb reconstruction, and metastatic disease. Looks like B is in some incredibly talented hands.

(* Not a real name, obviously, or even the correct initial. I prefer to provide some anonymity for my family. B is over 18, and has a right to privacy. Leave it alone, please.)

Naturally, I’m spending too much time online researching limb salvage surgery, long-term survival odds, treatment plans, etc. (while I am not that kind of doctor, I like to learn as much as possible when faced with the unknown, and I have a feeling this will come in handy in the near future). I need a break. I need…


It’s almost the start of the 2012 Formula 1 season, and its time to make sure copies of the regulations are ready to go for the first race (soon….so very soon). I had to hop over to The Site and grab this year’s technical and sporting regulations. Too bad that only took about five minutes.

(Ooh! They have an appendix to the technical regulations, too! Can’t forget that.)

A friend of mine was talking about blue towels, and it made me think of the blue canary in the outlet by the light switch (who watches over you) – and if you didn’t get that reference, I’m a little sad for you. Anyone who has lived without They Might Be Giants as part of their personal musical soundtrack is missing out a little, I think.

While I couldn’t find a good copy of “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” I was able to find “The Guitar,” which is both awesome and underappreciated.


You’re welcome.


Bad News

My family was given some potentially devastating news over the past week (nope, sorry, that’s all you’re going to get until something’s official) that’s caused me to ponder several things. How do people, in general, transmit bad news? Blurt it out to others, in the hope that it somehow dilutes the power of the message? Speak in hushed tones, in coded conversations, dancing around words that still can’t be said out loud? As if that somehow makes things more real if spoken?

(Family dynamics and relationships also play into this, I think. Oh, yes.)

The other part of this is dissecting how people react to bad news. I’m sitting here, for example, writing a veiled post full of nothing instead of doing something productive. Coping mechanism? OF COURSE! I really just don’t feel like cleaning right now, which is Option Two. Option Three is knitting.

Then again, there’s always Option Four.



So. Hey. Hi. Guess I’ll give this a whirl.

I’m still using this place as a place to play, so things may go sideways from time to time. It’s just how it is in Hansland. You’ll get used to it.

I’ll get some more content up as soon as I get some real work done.

If you like knitting, Formula 1, irreverent humor, randomness, geeky stuff, and/or Futurama, you’re in luck. I make no guarantees on posting frequency, or whether you’ll like what I throw out there. If you don’t like what you see, that’s cool. There’s plenty of other places on the Internet where you can hang. Sorry you didn’t like this corner.

Thanks for stopping by.