Sunday, July 31, 2005

Memory lane, part 1 in a very long series

I haven't posted a lot in the last few days. There just hasn't been a whole lot for me to talk about. Tegan has continued to stay busy at work . . . she had to go into work on Saturday for about 4 hours and was also there for a few hours today. Unfortunately, this had nothing to do with her ACTUAL project, but for a last-minute weekend thing that her department had to deal with. It is something that happens in the company now and again, so we are both used to it. That doesn't mean that either of us like it, but sometimes you have to do it.

I have had fun with the kids--mostly. There is usually one moment each day where I over-react and do the wrong thing. You would think that I could start getting over that . . . but I've still got to work on it.

I hope the Lunch Bunch had fun watching the WORST movie of all time . . . Manos: The Hands of Fate. I am sure I'll get a chance to see it soon.

So right now I am getting ready to start grilling out some dinner. Tegan has taken the girls to play miniature golf on the rainchecks we got last month.

But, before I do that (and since I don't have anything else to write about) I thought I would reenter the memories of my childhood that I started a few weeks ago. And now, I think I am going to systematically go through my old scrapbooks. As I mentioned before, I started keeping a scrapbook when I was almost thirteen years old and kept it up through my first year or so of college.

I got the idea from my brother Muleskinner, who also kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and stuff from his high school days. He was the banjo player in a local bluegrass band that played at some local events and won some awards, so he was sometimes in the paper. Plus he was a band member, which also meant some paper coverage.

My first scrapbook volume begins (according to the date I wrote on the inside front cover) in April of 1984. I was 12 and a half years old. This was the first thing that I decided to keep:

It is a certificate that I received from the local agricultural college located in my home town--Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC {pronounced A-back} for short). I attended a computer programming class they offered. It was extremely rudimentary BASIC programming, but it was my first exposures to the wonders of computers. I believe they were Apple IIc's. Yeah, those were the days. We programmed very simple things, like snake-like lines that twisted and turned according to the line codes we devised. I was also introduced to simple games like "Paratrooper," in which you aim a ground cannon that is firing on soldiers that parachute down from planes that fly overhead. Curiously enough, that same game now resides on my iPod--but in color. It's the same game, however.

Why save that memory? I don't recall why I chose to, but as I continue down this road, you will ask that question many times. I might occasionally have an answer.

The next thing that I'll share today is photographic evidence of a story that I have told before (at least at the lunch table). It is a photo of the Alamo and me post-surgery at my aunt and uncle's house in San Antonio. This was taken the summer I had my first surgery to deal with the orthopedic problems that stemmed from my premature birth that I mentioned last time.

The picture of the Alamo is self-explanatory. The other picture is me . . . so young. See I DID have blonde hair once upon a time. I was recovering from surgery on my hamstrings and had casts on my legs. In this picture, it appears that one leg was fully encased and the other only went up to my knee. Strange, but I remember having two full length ones--but I might be confusing that with another surgery that I had at another time. I was confined to a wheelchair mostly, but I did have some crutches. As I have mentioned before, this was the time that my poor brothers MSquared and Muleskinner had to carry me around when we toured the San Antonio River Walk area and this is the wheelchair that I had a lot of fun in at the San Antonio Zoo. I rolled down hills with great abandon during this trip.

I also remember that my entire family--all six of us--drove to Texas from Georgia in our Buick station wagon while I was in casts. This was uncomfortable, to say the least, but I don't know if it was worse for them than for me. At least I got to sit in the front passenger's seat most of the time, a luxury that was almost unheard of in my family on every other car vacation that we took each summer. You can imagine that Mom got to sit there most of the time and the four kids fought long and hard to get to sit there and stretch their legs for a few hours between each bathroom or eating break while we drove from place to place.

I look like a pretty happy kid in that photo, and I was. It was my first trip to Texas and I thought it was pretty exotic. Not strange or anything, but historic and big, and interesting. Much more so that the Georgia that I had grown up in, at least. It was a big city . . . and I didn't get many chances to see those as a kid. Plus, it was a chance to visit with my aunt, uncle, and three female cousins--all of whom were sort of exotic to my young eyes. My uncle was from Iran and so, that family stood out amongst all of my other relatives. And it was the only family from my mother's side that I ever got to know very well.

So, that was an interesting trip. There is more to come on another day when I don't have anything in particular to say . . . which is often, after all.

[9:38 pm update]

I just had to mention this. Tegan got Ruth to bed and I put Ariel to bed. Then Tegan announced that she was going to head back to the mini golf course (where there are some batting cages). She wanted to work on her swing before tomorrow night's softball game. When she came home she said that she was hurting her wrist when she swung. So, I gave her some swing tips . . . cause I'm a huge athlete and all. And then we got out the whiffle ball and some whiffle bats and worked on swinging and hitting in the living room.

I thought that was a funny image, and one that our two little girls would not imagine us doing while they are upstairs. I don't know what they do think we are doing, but I doubt they would ever consider that. And I don't think I would have ever considered that of my parents when I was a young lad. (Of course, we didn't have two stories when I was a kid . . .)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I give up . . .

on pretending that I was really reading Fast Food Nation.

It is an extremely informative book . . . as it was when it was published about a decade or so ago.

It has lots of shocking information and well written passages. It just is surrounded by more dissertation-like sections that I just couldn't successfully plow through.

And besides, I now have 100 People Who are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37) awaiting me. It's a library book and the clock is already ticking on its return. So, I've gotta make choices.

I am sure that 100 People . . . will make me angry and provide lots of fun quotes that I will provide when I am done reading and give a review.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

War on Terror . . . now with more whitening power

This is what happens when the leader of the administration says he wants to run the White House like a MBA runs a business.


(I also heard this story on NPR on the way to work this morning, but I couldn't find a link to it on the NPR site.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ariel's 5th

Ariel's birthday was this past Friday. Tegan held the party yesterday at the house. Last year, as you might or might not know, Ariel requested a mermaid theme from "The Little Mermaid." We had just moved into our current house and Tegan worked very hard and (I think) pulled together a nice party.

This year, we are both significantly busier than we were last summer at this time. Not a night goes by that T. doesn't have to do some work or consider going back to the office to do work there. I am also fairly busy, but nowhere as busy as her.

The first job in any party prep is to decide on a theme. And while "Little Mermaid" was a no-brainer last year, neither Ariel nor Tegan and I could figure out what to settle on this year. We discussed many things. I pushed for "Kim Possible" because I think it is a funny show. But in the end, we went back to that old stand-by programmed deep within a little-girl's heart--PRINCESS!!

So, once we got that out of the way, then what exactly would be done? When? How? It was very difficult to get the details worked out. And so, we . . .

outsourced the party preparation this year! I feel a bit sheepish about this as it seems like such a Yuppie/Starbucks kind of thing to do . . . and because I didn't have a whole lot to do with the preparations to begin with. So, I am a loser no matter what.

But, we did what we did. And, in the end, I think that everything worked out well . . . or so I was told. I wasn't there. It was MY job to take Ruth away and make sure she didn't disrupt the situation. Maybe an over-reaction, but I thought (and Tegan agreed) that it was best to be safe. Hopefully Ruth will forgive us some day.

The party planner came at 3 pm on Sunday. I took Ruth out of the house before then and we spent the afternoon playing in the kid's area at the mall and then having a little bit of fun at the local swimming pool. After all of that we went out to eat.

What I know of the party itself comes from the pictures that Tegan took and what she told me about the event.

Ultimately, I think that everything went well. That is especially true since we had it all figured out within a week's time. So, enjoy the pictures, since I seem to have run out of ideas for this post.

Here is Ariel "suiting up" for the party. The party planner provided all of the cute dresses for the girls to wear. It was this level of other stuff that helped sway this lady in our minds. The food wasn't spectacular or anything, but the dresses and the effort to create an atmosphere was nicely done.

Here is Ariel with one of her friends from the old daycare back at our old residence. Oddly enough, no one of Ariel's friends from the new center were able to come to the party. I think that was a function of the fact that some of her friends have recently moved to a different daycare that was constructed right next to ours. Also, there was the short notice for the party combined with the summertime vacation issue. But there were seven kids that came, and I think that is a very manageable number.

Here is Ariel with more of her friends. You can see that there were some boys at this party (three to be exact) and while the girls dressed as princesses, the boys got to be knights. The party planner had three knight costumes, and luckily there were three boys who accepted our invitation.

And here is Ruth in the aftermath of everything. She takes a good picture, doesn't she? I wonder what we are going to do for her birthday next year? I guess we should start planning now . . .


I apologize in advance for the foul language and the misspellings that this post might contain, but I've gotta get this out.

My kids just piss me off sometimes. I am especially susceptible to it right now because I feel like the house is just filled to the roof with plastic CRAP that I can't get rid of.

WHY in the world do we have all of these toys? Why must ever toy made be composed of 859 separate plastic pieces that have to be pieced together in about 5 hours of mind-numbing work. And furthermore, why must these toys be so complicated that no child below the age of ten have an ability to enjoy these toys without countless hours of adult supervision.

Is THIS how we teach our children? (I know the answer, okay. Don't tell me.) Is this the point.

(And yes, I am aware of the irony of Mr. Pop Culture being overwhelmed by the mindless ephemera of what is children's pop culture.)

God! Why does it have to be this way?

And furtherm0re, why do my kids choose to not let me do anything with them the minute their mother comes in the door? Why can they be doing well and behaving perfectly fine, but as soon as she comes in the door (two hours later than she should have to) I might as well be in another state for all of the good that I can do for them. They wouldn't let me carry them out of a burning building if their mom was available.

WHY? Do I raise my voice too much? (Yes, sometimes.)

What am I doing wrong?

It makes me sick, sometimes.

And no, I am not going to back to edit this or take anything out.

I am sorry if it bothers you, but I am pissed off and I can't yell anymore. I doesn't help, it only makes me feel bad afterwords, and it is not useful.

So, skip this post. If I ever have to do this again, then I'll come up with some signal so you won't have to read this kind of angry junk again.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Farewell "Spec"tacular

Today is Spec's last day with us. Those of us who have known him, both in his corporeal form and in his blogging capacity, are sorry to see him go and have decided to team up and send him on his way to New York with kind words and remembrances.

I didn't know Spec that well at first, though I should have. His first encounter with our company was during his brief holiday stint as an intern several years ago. I was on my customary trip to see family in Georgia and he spent some of his time in my cubicle. We have been spiritually bonded ever since.

When he came to work full time, we were enemies. Why? Well, because he palled around with a rival lunch table that dared to sit apart from the mighty 4Square, also known as Millard Filmore's Japanese Friends. (Why? Don't ask . . ) We shot many nasty glances his way and said equally nasty things about him.

But eventually the rival lunch table collapsed and he came limping over to us with his tail between his legs. Jack T. said that he was a good guy, so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Spec has a way about him, that's for sure. As you will see by reading my blogging compatriots today, he has affected each of us in distinct ways.

Memorable? Absolutely!

Shocking? Frequently!

Entertaining? Constantly!

What are my favorite memories? Well, there will always be the hallway of Jack's apartment during Christmas time. THAT is something I can't forget--especially since there are pictures.

But I also remember the Team Foos-Booyah! excitement of last summer. Spec willingly went along with my insanity and was a brave Human Foos-Booyah soldier, taking numerous kicks to the shins in defense of our goal! We couldn't have triumphed without his play. Plus, he helped make the shirts that every team was envious of that day.

And of course, he single-handedly converted about fifteen people in our office to the Apple lifestyle. I do feel bad for him, though, since all of our iPods are so much cooler than his. But every time I blog on my sweet laptop, I'll think of Spec. Every time said laptop makes my thighs warm . . . you KNOW I'll think of Spec.

He supported my Tobey obsession and I don't remember him ever belittling me for it. He wasn't able to go see Spider-Man 2 with us, but how often do people get to go to Mali?

I always enjoyed the weekly tennis games, both when we played together and when we played against each other. Spec could always be counted on to get more angry and make (at least) as much noise as me. Heck, he even beat up on his rackets like I do. And how did I thank him for being a tennis role model? I beaned him with tennis balls and encouraged him to steal tennis equipment.

Sure, he sometimes played a little rough with others, but we forgave him. We knew that he didn't mean it and inside he had a soft and creamy center of yummy nougat.

Can't you see the soft and chewy center? It's there. You just have to look a little harder.

We'll all have to look a little harder to see Spec now. But he'll always be in our hearts and his fingerprints will always be on the books that we are forced to reprint for years to come. And, if I ever get to Brooklyn, I can go see him . . . as long as he acknowledges that he knows such Midwestern squares as me.

Safe travels my friend.

My home and my blog comments are always open and ready for business.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

me, Me, ME

And verily a cry went out across the blog-o-verse: "Tell me of your past, Burb! What has made you so Burbalicious?"

Where to begin?

I was born on the sandy floor of a log cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky. My momma had just finished picking corn on the back forty when . . . nah.

In a hole in the ground there lived a Burb. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a Burb hole, and that means comfort.

Closer, but no.

Burb was small and skinny, with brilliant green eyes and jet-black hair that was always untidy. He wore round glasses, and on his forehead was a thin, lightning-shaped scar. . . . Hmmm. Maybe?
In reality, I was born in the smallish south Georgia town of Tifton. I was the fourth and last child, the third boy. You've met my siblings (at least in passing) in previous posts. MSquared is the oldest, Muleskinner was next, and my sister MA round them out. Mom and Dad both grew up in Kentucky.

My dad moved to Georgia to run a research station for corn hybridization. I have mentioned the importance of corn in my familial weltanschaung. You can call me crazy if you want, but hey . . . it's my brain.

(Man, doing this stuff off the cuff is hard. I could NOT write memoirs well, unless of course you didn't want something every day.)

What important bedrock things about my life make me who I am? Well, corn, obviously plays some kind of odd role. Another important and more trackable variable are the consequences of my birth.

(I will admit right up front that talking about this makes me uncomfortable. Not because it is uncomfortable or that I am embarrassed about it or anything, but putting it down feels (to me) like I am setting myself apart in some way, making myself grandiose. Yes, I ACT grandiose, but you certainly know it is all an act, constructed for humorous effect. But, I will try to turn off the filters and just get stuff out. Let critics and psychologists debate what everything really says about my own neuroses.)

I was born 3 months premature and severely underweight--2 lbs., 12 oz. That sequence of numbers has always seemed somewhat mystical to me. I was not expected to live--prenatal care for preemies not being anywhere near as good in 1971 as they are today. Mom and dad baptized and confirmed me that day . . . just in case. There are pictures of me as a newborn--very small and fragile looking. I wish I could post one now, but I don't have any with me and certainly none in the digital format.

I held on and eventually turned some sort of corner. I had to stay in the hospital for several months but eventually went home. As my brothers used to kid, once I got healthy I fattened up really fast. Babies in my family line have a tendency to be plump little suckers. If you ever saw Ariel or Ruth in their first year you know what I am talking about.

So . . . miracle baby . . . yada, yada, yada. :)

I didn't die, but there were some consequences. I had a mild case of cerebral palsy. Nothing serious certainly, but noticeable. This condition led to leg braces, regular visits with an orthopedic doctor, and eventual surgeries to address developmental concerns as I grew older. It all sounds traumatic and grim, but it mostly boiled down to wearing oddly-shaped leg braces when I was in elementary school and sleeping with a FDR-style brace and shoe on my left foot when I was a bit older. (Remember the Daniel Day-Lewis movie, My Left Foot? Didn't that character have cerebral palsy? Never saw it . . .)

It feels like I am really glossing over this stuff and if any of my family is reading this, they are probably thinking, "YEAH you are!" They had to listen to me complain at various points in my younger life, whining about braces and the frustration of being visibly different at an age when kids don't think twice about asking you point blank "Why do you walk funny like that?" THAT was an upsetting day . . .

But I am glossing over it, because I don't remember everything. I remember vague impressions. I remember flashes of a scene. I'll have to dig through photographs to really try and recall details of that part of my formative childhood years. But it wasn't all Helen Keller struggles and traumas. Far from it. I was a bit different than most, but insanely lucky in every important way. I had a problem in the technical sense, but it didn't truly prevent me from doing anything. Maybe my therapeutic methods called attention to that technicality, but I don't think anyone ever considered me to be physically disadvantaged.

I certainly didn't think of my situation in these soothing terms on the days that I was depressed about myself, but I did know that I was lucky. One of my good childhood friends, Ronald, lived next door to a boy named Stephen. Stephen has a pretty severe case of cerebral palsy. He used to come over to Ronald's house to swim in the pool for therapy. (I also used to swim a lot to strengthen my leg muscles.)

I found a picture of him in my high school scrapbooks. (Yeah, I kept scrapbooks during those crucial high school and early college years. It will certainly come in handy if I keep these retrospective blogs coming.)

This newspaper article was about Stephen and another friend of mine who had a severe car accident the summer prior to his senior year. After a lot of physical therapy Chris was able to participate in the band again by pushing Stephen's wheelchair. This story was written when my high school band visited St. Petersburg, FL for a multi-day music competition.

Whenever I felt down about myself, all I had to do was remember that I could have EASILY been in Stephen's shoes. But I wasn't. So, I really should try and remember that I have been blessed and to take advantage of the opportunities that I can take--no matter how ordinary they might be.

Because I am lucky enough to be ordinary.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A new way to raise the hit count

You might think that I take things too far if I attempt to use my blog for this purpose.

But I wouldn't apologize.

Shouldn't I be a fitting ambassador of the human race on planet Earth? Aren't I better than the reruns of The Honeymooners and Adolph Hitler speeches that are already out there floating through the ether?

I project a wholesomeness (with a slightly offbeat sensibility) that would make aliens want to get to know us better, not invade us and probe us for their own sinister purposes.

So, come on NASA. What about you, FCC? Hey Dubya . . . think about me? I'll be the ambassador to aliens . . . your friendly neighborhood Burb.

In other news, read this very nicely worded post by Velcrometer's M. Giant. He is only saying stuff that all bloggers think about from time to time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Everyday life

Sometimes people say to me, "Burb . . . what is your life REALLY like, man?"

You wanna know?

Here it comes . . . brace yourself.

After we got home from work this evening around 5:30, Tegan and I entered the nightly rituals. I got the mail while she shepherded the kids inside. We started thinking about dinner--a) what's available in the leftover format? Failing that b) can we concoct something easy, not taking too long about it? Tonight we went with option a.

But first, the mail. Normally I am the one that sorts through the mail, discarding into the larger pile all the junk that immediately gets recycled or thrown away. Tonight we decided to throw caution to the wind and look at the mail together. The connection that we shared over that pile of mail was almost indecent in front of the children, let me tell you.

"Yeah! What about the kids?" you're probably thinking. Well, tonight was an unusual night in that the kids were eating cake (CAKE!) while this was going on. I can hear you saying, "But you haven't even started COOKING dinner you wastrels!" Well, forgive us, but the daycare is in the midst of saying goodbye to the current director and hello to a new one. The large sheet cake was positioned right by the doorway. YOU try telling a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old that they can't have the cake that everyone else is having. And then, just try and tell them that they are allowed to have cake, but must ignore it's presence until some undetermined point in the evening after we have decided upon, and then cooked, and then eaten dinner. It just isn't that easy. So, shoot us.

Anyway, while Tegan and I were getting hot and bothered over the pile of junk mail (really, I'm just kidding about that) the kids were eating cake. And when the cake was gone, we broke out a new surprise for Ariel and Ruth--a new educational software game which we had received in the mail the previous day. The girls were aided in their reading skills by Reader Rabbit while Tegan and I unloaded the dishwasher and got dinner prepared.

We ate leftover chicken from Spec's party, some freshly cooked corn-on-the-cob, and a side of leftover spaghetti. An odd combination, maybe, but again . . . shoot us, okay? During dinner we had the usual kinds of meandering, pointless conversations that escape my memory a few hours later. I do know that near the end of the dinner, Ruth starting singing "Head, shoulders, knees and toes" but she consistently left out the shoulders part. Ariel tried to help her out, but Ruth continued to do it her way. Halfway through the singing, it occurred to me that this might make an interesting audioblog (assuming, of course, that the dial-up number decided to function today). So, I got up to locate the cell phone, buried somewhere inside Tegan's purse. I couldn't find it and gave up. The kids had stopped singing anyway.

I do remember now that during part of the dinner conversations I was watching Ruth eat corn and thinking about how I have a familial connection to the simple act of eating corn. Because my dad made a living creating corn hybrids and each of us worked for dad at some point, and because I have many memories of shucking several wheelbarrows full of fresh corn each summer . . . the act of eating corn is (to me) a family ritual. It makes me happy to see my kids eat corn because it makes me feel that they are connected to their grandparents and their aunt and uncles in ways they may never understand or appreciate. I, however, appreciate it.

While wool-gathering on that issue, I also thought about how you sometimes hear people say that becoming a parent is a narcissistic act. But I don't understand that at all. My kids aren't going to be like me, any more than I am like my dad. Sure, there are mannerisms and superficialities that connect us together. There are even similarities in belief that tie us, but I am not him and they are not me--never have been and never will be. Their life experiences will greatly diverge from what I lived through and there is absolutely no way I grew up as my dad did.

After I finished daydreaming on such thoughts and wondering if/how I might convey that in a blog entry (I'm always thinking about that sort of thing now) we ended dinner and the next phase of the evening rituals--cleanup and the long transition towards bedtime.

Ariel and Ruth went back to more Reader Rabbit edutainment while Tegan helped me clean the kitchen. After a few minutes of this, T. took the girls upstairs for their baths and toothbrushing. I sat down to finish folding some laundry and read a Newsweek story on Karl Rove. Ruth came down to kiss me good night while Ariel went back to more Reader Rabbit. I let Ariel play on her own for a bit while I read some more. T. finally got Ruth to sleep and then I heard her putting away the laundry upstairs. I then pulled out my small bit of work that I brought home and got that underway.

Tegan came downstairs to deliver a freshly dried pile of clothes and get ready to go back to the office. But before she left, she read Ariel a story. Then I read two stories of my own to Ariel and started convincing her to head upstairs. It took a few minutes but eventually she got up there with some paper to color on. I came back downstairs to fold the aforementioned pile of new clothes. After a small interval, I heard Ariel come downstairs (as I knew she would). She needed me to position her fan . . . oh, don't ask. But then she was done and in bed.

I came down, finished the laundry while Sex and the City was on. (Yeah, I KNOW, okay?!) But normally we have our bible study group on Tuesday and so I don't have much TV knowledge of Tuesday's schedule.

Got the laundry folded, re-basketed and staged it at the foot of the stairs. I'll take it upstairs later tonight and redistribute the appropriate piles in the appropriate rooms tomorrow.

So, here we are. I'm blogging, Tegan's at the office working, the girls are asleep. $40 a Day is playing on the Food Network.

Exciting, huh?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Harry Potter update and review

Yeah, I finished it last night.

Stayed up a bit late (that being about 1:30 am), but I was in the last 60 pages where all the stuff happens--or as I now call it, the Mustafar Zone--and decided "What the heck?" Of course all day today I felt rather tired, but it was worth it, I think.

My full review is over on Onmimedia . . . and yes, there are spoilers.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hey Warriors! Come out to Partay!

So, as you can see, there was a party going on at my house this weekend. Lots of people (the biggest crowd yet for one of my shindigs), lots and lots of good food, and enough stuff going on to make us forget that it was all about saying goodbye to Spec as he prepares to head off for New York City in a few weeks. I am glad that everyone came and I hope they all had a good time. Some people had to come and go, but it was a nice event. Spec made it even more special by letting us watch what is surely one of the worst movies of all time, The Warriors. I didn't get to see it all, but I saw enough to know that I don't think I'll ever need to see it again.

In other news, the new Harry Potter book arrived on my doorstep yesterday afternoon before the party began. I haven't read a third of it yet, but I am already surprised by a few of the plot developments and I have a very firm belief of what happens. Stay tuned for more vague references as time goes on.

Tegan is probably going to spend several hours at the office this afternoon, so I'll be keeping up with the kids. Maybe I'll read a bit (and ignore work until this evening) while naps are being taken.
Yeah. It was a good party, even though this rather scattered and disjointed post doesn't do any justice to all of the fun and good humor that was displayed by all involved.

(8:43pm) Wow! Looking back on this very crappy post that I wrote, you wouldn't have any idea that anyone had a good time. Did I mention the cool water balloons that Jack T. and Cordelia brought? Did I mention how poor Raisinette got doused by (at least) two water balloons and that the rest of us managed only to get our feet wet when the balloons broke? Oh, and did I mention that I stupidly threw an errant water balloon that broke near Spec's iPod and Bose speakers or that Raisinette's less than two week old iPod also got caught in the water balloon crossfire? Why they are speaking to me is only a function of the fact that I didn't (apparently) damage their machinery.

I also didn't mention that the grilling of the food was marred by a very strong storm that blew threw halfway through the cooking time? All the rest of the party crew retreated inside but only the brave and resourceful Anthony remained outside to keep me company while I cooked thr remaining Boca burgers and chik'n patties? He is quite a nice kid (and even allowing for the fact that he might have been on his best behavior while visiting a stranger's house--and how many ten-year-olds do THAT these days?--he is a nice boy.

All in all, it was good. I hope Spec felt loved.

Now, I've got to try and convince myself that preparing work materials is more important than reading one hundred more pages of HP and the H-bP.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The tennis match that lasted 30 DAYS

Tonight Spec and I duked it out mano-a-mano on the tennis court. The tennis group usually meets every Thursday after work at Local park to work on our tennis game and get comfortable with the idea of sweating and stinking in front of our co-workers. (It totally doesn't diminish the amount of respect that I get from them every day . . . really!)

We decided to flip the tennis game to Wednesday night tonight because the rain forecast for tomorrow is grimmer. It did rain before the game began, but it did stop and let the humidity settle back in. The courts were covered with puddles, but they eventually dried well enough.

Spec dispatched me pretty easily in the first set (6-1)--even though my serve was pretty good. In the second set I did a bit better but he still handled my game with not much trouble (6-2). BUT in the third set, I came on strong. We pushed it to a tiebreaker game and I finally prevailed (7-6 and 10-8 in the tiebreaker). It was awe-inspiring, let me tell you.

I took Spec out to dinner after and then went home in time to read a story to Ariel and get her in bed.

Now I am blogging while Tegan and I watch that awesome show 30 Days. I've written about this show before, but tonight's episode is (I think) right up Lulu's alley. In this one, two New Yorker bar employees are living "off the grid" eco-village in Missouri known as Dancing Rabbit (have you heard of it Lulu?). I am recording it and will route it around to my coworkers who want to watch it. (On the FX page, click the Episode Guide link and choose "off the grid" to see pictures of the people and the situation.)

Tegan warned me to try and verify the Dancing Rabbit web link that I provided, so I checked Morgan's own blog site and he provides the same link and some others as well.

So, go forth and check out the links.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

More bicycle stories

Yesterday I posted on Ariel's increased forays into the world of successful bicycling. Well, it got me thinking about my own bicycling history, which I have always thought was a bit different than most kids.

You see, I didn't ride a bike actively or confidently until I was . . . I think . . . 14 years old or so.

Does that surprise you?

I have always thought that it made me a bit strange. Don't most kids start riding a bike steadily when they are much younger, maybe 6 or so?

Why did it take me so long? I don't remember any specific traumas that caused me to fear all things on two wheels or anything like that. I suppose it had to do with my perpetual bad balance (something rather important for successful bike riding). I don't know if I fell off too many times or was just uncomfortable up there . . . I don't know. But the fact remains that I was a very slow biker.

When I finally got into it, I had a very distinctive first bike. I think my neighbor's across the street won it in some contest and gave it to me. It was reddish-brown and had a banana-style seat. I think it had some sort of cowboy theme. (I swear I remember the word "buckaroo" somewhere in the name.) You would think I grew up in the Fifties, but no, it was the Seventies.

Anyway, I rode that one for a while but when I got older I got a black beach Cruiser style bike. I didn't like ten-speeds or those curly racing bars. I used that one for many years in high school, riding around from my house to my friends house and riding around town on the weekends listening to my Walkman.

In college I bought the bike that I have today--one of those off-road style Trek bikes that all the cool kids had in college. It even has the clips on the pedals to hold my foot in place for when I go off-roading, which I totally do all the time. Yeah, it's an awesome white color and even features a Greenpeace sticker (that was back in my activist years).

These, then are the brief impressions of my bicycling past. Illuminating, no? Don't you feel that you know me even better than ever?

Playing "footsie"

Hey ya'll.

I've been on a roll posting these days, putting something together (no matter how pointless, family-related, or uninteresting it might be) almost every night.

But, I've also been tweaking some design items, most of them subtle label changes that matter more to me than anyone else.

Now, however, you have a chance to place your OWN stamp on the WWYG?! empire.

Imagine that you had the chance to buy Microsoft stock back in 1983, but didn't do it. How would you feel?

Well, don't experience that now! TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY to shape the internet, one WWYG?! page at a time.

If you scroll down to the bottom of my page, you will see my hit counter. Before now, all it did was faithfully tally up the three visitors I get per week.

But now, it is sharing space with a bit of footer text.

The contest is . . . "What should Burb's footer text say?"

Exciting, huh?

Post a comment with your suggestion. Whomever I deem to have the best idea gets it emblazoned on my page forever, or until I decide to change things up again.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Built for two

Tonight was a nice time with the kids.

Tegan was playing softball so I was corralling the girls. We had some leftovers for dinner and they played for a bit. Then we went outside for a walk down the block to see the creek that runs under one of the neighborhood streets. Every once in a while I take the girls over there to peer down at the water. Once we saw a snake swimming through the water and so from now on every time we go we hope to see the snake again. Ruth was even calling out "Snake! SNAKE!" hoping that it would suddenly appear, but no dice.

Once we got back to the house, Ariel wanted to practice riding her bike. (Tomorrow is Bike Day at her daycare. What does that mean? I don't know, but all the four-year-olds can bring their bike to school.)

Now, Ariel hasn't had much bike time in her young life. She has tried a bit, but with little success. But she was fairly determined tonight. She was successfully pedaling up and down the sidewalk in front of our house. When she hit the areas where the road begins sloping up a bit, she slowed down and had trouble keeping her momentum going. But she had success, and just like on Sunday when she finally started working on her swimming, she began enjoying herself and wanting to see more success.

These last few days interacting with her like this have been very rewarding for me (and I hope for her). It has been nice to feel that I was able to teach her a bit and see the success. And it was nice to see the happiness on her face when she knew that things were going well.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sunday evening in the backyard

Right now I am sitting on my back yard deck, trying to be productive with some work on the laptop.

This might be the highpoint of my brief laptop ownership right now--sitting in the cool evening of early July, listening to the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers perform O Magnum Mysterium in conjunction with the birds.

It certainly is productive, but not in the original sense with which I ventured out here. Tegan was desperately trying to conquer a bad patch of millet grass that has sprung up in the little gravel box that the kid's sandbox is in. The girls were wandering about, playing with dolls and messing with stuff. So, I decided to be mobile and try to come up with some more geography GN ideas tonight. I worked on them earlier today, but I am not very proud of the ideas that I pounded out. Maybe Shirtless, Stretch, and I can refine them more adequately tomorrow.

So, as you can see, I sort of abandoned that pursuit to pursue a blog entry, encouraged by Robert Shaw and the birds.

So, you can see that it was productive in a spiritual sense, if not in a monetary sense.

What happened this weekend? Well, Friday night Tegan and I left the kids in babysitter's hands and went to eat celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. The dinner was nice. Then we tried to think of something to do. There weren't any movies we were dying to see, so we tried to think of something new to do. We settled on miniature golf--a fun and very "datelike" experience. Unfortunately, we got stuck behind four slow players and we knew that we were going to get rained on. (We could see the clouds rolling towards us and lightning flashes.) We only made it through four holes before the rains began and we were forced to collect our raincheck. (But, its not so bad. T was kicking my butt. She aced the third hole and I quadrupled number four.)

We then tried to regroup. Bowling? No. Comedy club? Didn't have reservations (who knew?). So, we decided to rent some movies and head home. It wasn't exactly the perfect evening, but as Tegan pointed out, someone else fed, bathed, and bedded the kids. At this point in our family life, that can be enough. (Besides, we'll make up for it all next month in our week long trip to San Francisco. That's the REAL anniversary gift.)

Saturday we went to the local music and arts festival. VG, EH, Flipper, and Spec were there to hear Tim Easton. Me and the family didn't stay long enough for that (Ruth was groggily signaling naptime) but we did spend a few hours outside and experienced some community with others.

Today, we went to the pool in the late afternoon for about an hour or so. Ariel made her strongest strides towards swimming yet. She actually started coordinating the arms, legs, floating, and breath-holding into a unified purpose. Best of all, she had some fun doing it and genuinely responded to the success and the positive praise. So, that was an excellent development.

The grass got cut, and some preparations were made (in my head at least) for the big farewell party for Spec that is coming up next Saturday. It should be a fun, if slightly sad affair. Well, we'll be sad to see him go, but hopefully the party itself won't be sad (i.e. lame). Course, when was the last time I threw a lame party?

(Don't answer that . . .)

[11:30 pm]

Go read my Omnimedia post on the movies we rented, if you haven't already been there.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

PBS validates my entire childhood!

PBS has recently broadcast a show focusing on Southern American English (SAE). What is the salient point of the broadcast? Maybe this:

In a recent study of folk beliefs about American dialects, Dennis Preston (1996) found that 90% of his respondents from Michigan and Indiana and 96% of those from South Carolina recognized SAE as a distinct variety of American English. Both the Michigan and Indiana respondents, however, also evaluated SAE as the most “incorrect” variety of American English (New York City speech was the only serious competitor), and the South Carolina respondents were ambivalent about its correctness as well.
Am I ambivalent? Not really. I doubt that the "typical" Southerner that might be "fixin' to eat breakfast" would understand the particular linguistic nuances of this website.

But there are some interesting items embedded within this site. For example, you can use this link to answer some questions on English usage and see how you compare to others.

Friday, July 08, 2005


July 8, 1995.
I didn't feel that we were too young. I didn't feel that we weren't "ready." I knew that we wanted to be together and that we wanted to build our own life.

It was a brutally hot and humid day, as summer days tend to be in South Georgia. The day before I had spent at my house with my dad, my brothers, and some friends. He just relaxed and had a cooked. Nothing terribly memorable and certainly nothing debased. Just a simple affair.

I woke up the next morning and got ready. My brother/best man Muleskinner had the tuxes ready and so Mom made breakfast. I got everything on and then we got in the car. We drove the 45 minutes down I-75 to Tegan's hometown. (We grew up that close to each other but didn't meet until college.)

The first place I went in Valdosta was the site of the reception, the Crescent. We took a lot of the formal wedding pictures that morning, before it got terribly hot and the lighting for the cameraman got too bright. The photographer had a bit of fun with me during all of this. I had not seen Tegan before all of this and so, the idea was to maintain that tradition as long as possible. He staged a series of pictures where Tegan was behind me, then getting closer and closer, all the while preventing me from turning around and then getting a picture as I saw her for the first time. It was annoying, but produced an effective picture.

After the pictures were all finished, we drove up the road a bit and arrived at Tegan's hometown church. I spent the rest of the time before the wedding hanging out in a back hallway/office area of Tegan's dad, who was the minister there. He kept jokingly asking me if I was still willing to go ahead with this? (As if he was gonna let me get away . . . as if I wanted to.) Muleskinner and I just waited. Some of my high school/college friends were ushering people into their seats. Tegan's aunts and future sister-in-law were singing songs. I was fiddling with my small microphone that was attached to my coat lapel (to have better audio on the videotape).

The waiting seemed to go on for ever. Finally it was time for me to take my position at the foot of the altar and wait for Tegan to arrive. The ceremony was good. Tegan's dad officiated and did the vows. Our minister from our college-town church came to officiate the Eucharistic ceremony. It was a longer wedding service than most of my friends were used to, but it was meaningful to us.

The reception was an endless blur of friends, relatives, etc. I didn't get a chance to talk to anyone as long as I wanted and probably didn't talk to some of the people there at all. I don't even remember eating much except the obligatory piece of wedding cake for the photograph. Truthfully, as Tegan would surely tell you, I was somewhat concerned that my friends would screw up the car--even though I had given orders not to. One unfortunate consequence of my concern was that when all was said and done and we were departing, we got in a different car--one that didn't have the food that had been collected for us by Tegan's mom.

When we did get in the car, we drove to Savannah for the night and then headed to Charleston for the next four days. There we spent a great deal of time eating great food, seeing a beautiful city, and just relaxing as a married couple.

It was a great day and the start of a great new life together.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Of Genius Sperm and Movie Geniuses

I finished "The Genius Factory" over the weekend. I found it to be a very quick and enjoyable read. Just the kind of quirky subject that seems engaging enough to a) keep the author motivated through the long slog of writing and b) keep the reader interested to keep reading.

So, did this quirky attempt at eugenics in the 1980s produce any "superbabies?" No. David Plotz uses his internet resources at to troll for anyone who was born of the Nobel Sperm Bank and see if they wanted to share any of their life experiences. Are these children, supposedly conceived through the DNA of smart people, better equipped to succeed in this world? Are they destined to lead the world and discover the cure to diseases?


Are any of them even the product of Nobel Prize winner's sperm?


Is the answer to question #2 the reason for the answer to question #1?


It's a quick, interesting read. You should check it out.

(The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, by David Plotz)

In other media, check out this WWYG?! Omnimedia post on the "permanence" of today's Hollywood stars.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Holiday activities (updated at 8:30pm! And further enhanced with aforementioned link)

It's been a busy weekend.

We had Shirtless and his wife over for dinner last night. And then after that we went to see the fireworks at the Central College church down the road from where we live. The kids did pretty well . . . Ariel complained a bit about the loudness of the bangs, but they got to see some fireworks just the same.

This morning, we decided to try and support our church at the New Albany parade, but we weren't quite sure where to go (having decided at the last minute), so we didn't find it in time. That kind of put us all in a bad mood, but we got over it in time to eat lunch and head to our own community parade. We got some good seats under the shady awning of an Uptown shop that was strategically close to Graeter's ice cream. Ruth and Ariel enjoyed some chocolate (with rainbow sprinkles) while Tegan and I really enjoyed the chocolate coconut almond.

The parade got going and we saw the best and brightest of our town cruise past. I noted that the politicians give out the largest volume of candy. Ariel complained earlier about the heat and the wait for the parade, but when the candy started showing up, she got happier.

I think I saw my friend (and fellow blogger) Sven Golly drive by in his truck. I got a flier from an establishment that I think he (or at least) Gven Golly are affiliated with and I would be glad to put in a link to plug it for him, but I guess I need to get permission first. (And since I did get his permission--see comments below, here it is. Go expand the mind and train the body.)

(That is the worst thing about these blogging "aliases" that I have established. I feel that you need to get clearance before you do anything involving people. Oh well, better that than getting stalked by some crazed internet fanatic--and I KNOW I've got to have some out there somewhere.)

Anyway, it was a successful weekend celebrating our national holiday. I hope you had a good one yourself.

evening update!

So, we decided to go out for dinner tonight. We were not jazzed about trying to fix dinner. We survived that . . . but only barely. The couple (with kids) to our three o'clock apparently got food for the kids but the parents never got theirs. The couple (with kids) to our twelve o'clock got their adult food so late that it was a mess. We survived by only having one of our children orders mixed up . . . which was rapidly replaced. So, lucky there.

The other interesting thing here was that when we got home, we got the kids in pajamas and started getting them ready for bed. Books began getting read and teeth were brushed. However, Ariel was explaing that she had not yet had dessert. Luckily, she had a plan. There was lots of candy left over from the parade earlier in the afternoon and so Ariel was going to have some of that.

Unfortunately, she wanted to take her lollipop upstairs to eat while Tegan was reading books to Ruth. This, you see, was not a good idea because then Ruth would want to have some candy. So, I told Ariel that she could decide: either stay downstairs eating her lollipop while I read her books or go upstairs (without lollipop) to listen to books.

Naturally, she decided her lollipop didn't taste all that good after all.

So . . . now I know that I can't get kids to hang out with me--even if I hang lollipops around my neck. :)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Remember this?

Tegan and I have spent the morning working in the yard--pulling weeds, cutting the grass, putting down new mulch, trimming limbs.

I am exhausted.

So, while I try to get some energy back, I decided to review progress on the 101 in 1001.

I have accomplished the following ones: 44, 70 through 73, 75, 84, 89.

Hey, I've made some good progress!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Birthday to You

It's Tegan's birthday. She has grown up quite a bit since this photo was taken. But I still say you can see lots of Ruth in this little girl's face.

I have always known that marrying Tegan was the best decision I ever made and will ever make. And the best thing of all is that I have never doubted that choice a single time. And this comes from a person famous for second-guessing most every important choice I have ever made. But joining my life with her's was never up for debate.

We met in college. I was a sophomore and she was a freshman. We were both members of the Georgia Southern University Bell Honors Program--a scholarship program that selected a maximum of 18 students each year, kept each year's class together in special classes that were run like graduate school seminars. Each new group grew to become great friends or soon got tired of one another. And, each year's class had a built in group of friends, allies, mentors, potential apartment roomies, in the classes above and below them. When the new school year started, the upperclassmen would throw a welcoming party for the new group of freshmen. It was held at Honors House, an on-campus house dedicated for the BHPs use. I and my roommate Rampant Fox were the two students that lived at Honors House.

I still can't tell you why, but something about Tegan captivated me the first night I saw her. I talked to her most of the night, along with a couple of my friends. I was polite and brought her water to drink. Most other people were drinking, of course, but she wasn't interested and I wasn't either at that time. So, I brought her Coke to drink. (She later confessed to me that she worried that I was spiking her drink while in the kitchen.)

We were in different classes, but we saw each other a lot, walking between buildings. We soon ate lunches and dinners together and she often came over to Honors House to study, use the computers to write papers, and do laundry.

At first we were just friends and I can't tell you how and when, but I knew that things were different with her. I think my family knew something was different when I came home for Thanksgiving that year and spent a great deal of time being depressed and silent.

We've rarely been apart for any serious length of time since--except of course for that three weeks at Christmas when I was in Hawaii. (She still hasn't forgiven me for going and leaving her behind.)

We've been through a lot together, so much of it good and only some things bad. We've been very lucky over the years (blessed with wonderful family and equally wonderful friends), but we've also worked pretty hard to create the life that we now enjoy. I wouldn't want to significantly change the life that I have now, and so much of the reason for that is due to Tegan. She has made my life better, richer, more meaningful.

So, Happy Birthday T.
I love you.