No, we&#039're not dead.  We've just been really, really busy.  Since I last wrote in this space more than just one or two things have been keeping us busy. For starters, Sarah and I have working our way down the pothole-laden road to home ownership here in Madison.  It seems as though the entire home purchasing industry is designed to move in two modes:  light-speed and trapped-in-tarpits.  Banks move at the speed of dinosaurs trapped in La Brea; everyone else moves at a rate of speed that would be illegal if it involved travel on an interstate highway.  Need a home inspection tomorrow?  Sure, no problem.  Offers and counter-offers that expire eight hours from now.  Not even worth discussing the time element (or lack thereof).  What?  You want a pre-approval letter?  Oh.  That will take a minimum of ten business days.  An appraisal?  That takes on average thirty days.  Why is that that banks are singlehandedly trying to resurrect the idea of a not-just-in-time economy? So, anyway, barring any more bank-related fiascoes (our loan officer is a bit of a blame-shifting, forgetful, nitwit), we will be home owners on or about 24 Jun 03.  The house we are purchasing is a ranch-style home on Madison's West Side.  The house has a little over 1100 square feet of living space on the first floor.  The basement is a full basement, but about 650 square feet of the basement has been finished to some degree.  As such, the house has about 1700 sq. ft. of space in which two bedrooms, one and one-half bathrooms, and a variety of other rooms are crammed.  It needs some work (a touch of plumbing that we will do ourselves, a new roof, and a new electrical panel) in the short term.  Like all houses, it also has some long term needs (lot re-grading, an exterior paint job, new/more insulation in the attic, etc.).  So, we should be busy playing house during the next few years.  If you cannot find me, try the local home improvement center. In addition to buying a house, I have been busy playing home health care worker.  Sarah hurt her knee while we were out biking on 18 May 03.  We were riding the Military Ridge Trail and were taking in the town of Mt. Horeb before turning around and heading back to Madison.  However, Sarah planted her knee wrong at an intersection, her bike started to pull her over into traffic, and she ended up placing all her weight on the planted knee at a funny angle.  This was the knee in which her ACL was torn when she was younger.  So, I helped her into a local bookstore, where we waited for the local emergency medical services.  Soon, two police cars showed up, as well as the world's largest ambulance.  Sarah and I rode in the world's largest ambulance to the UW Hospital in Madison.  Once there, our lengthy and thorough examination of an Emergency Room exam room was occasionally interrupted by doctors and the like.  They prescribed a series of pain-killers, a set of crutches, and an appointment with an orthopedist.  We saw the orthopedist on Wednesday morning.  He scheduled Sarah for an MRI on Wednesday afternoon.  We then made a trek to visit the UW Sports Medicine department on Thursday morning.  Once there, the Sports Medicine doctors told us that they had gone ahead and scheduled Sarah for surgery the next morning.  So, Friday, 23 May 03, found Sarah headed into the operating room at the UW Hospital for some arthroscopic surgery.  I brought her home that afternoon.  Since then, she has been fighting boredom at home because, until last Thursday, she was unable to drive, bike, or even walk very far (because she is still on crutches).  However, since the surgery the swelling in her knee has diminished significantly, and she is even able to almost straighten it out.  She has to be on crutches until at least 12 Jun 03.  By then, I'm reasonably certain we will be planning a bonfire in the backyard onto which the much maligned crutches will be cast. Both of these events have more than kept Sarah and I busy.  While I was/am playing home health care worker I keep threatening to unionize.  Sarah keeps threatening to break out the puppy-dog eyes. But, just in case we found a free minute or two, Sarah and I have been planning a wedding for this fall.  Sarah has been researching local venues and we have visited several in the last week.  In addition, she has been dress shopping with one of her local friends.  Preliminary negotiations regarding music, catering, and the like have been bantered across the dining rooms table.  The progress is slow, but certain. Today, we took time for a picnic at the UW Arboretum.  While we were lying on the blanket, post-gorging, four wild turkeys made their way across the park no more than twenty feet from us.  Big, ugly, but colorful birds. From our Obligatory Political Commentary Department:  George W. Bush and his Administration.  Their reign of evil, and not even thinly veiled arrogance continues, unabated.