Tuesday, August 30, 2005

LOST in Space

Man that is an awful title for what I am about to provide to you.

First, the "LOST" reference.

Last night I was in the grocery store, getting some toiletries for Tegan and myself, as well as some cough medicine for Ruth. As I entered the store and passed alongside the checkout lines, I noticed the magazine racks and the TV Guide in particular.

You can from the cover why I was so mesmerized.

Naturally I bought it. (I mean . . . it's got THE DRIVESHAFT SONG!!!!!!) The articles are interesting and the promise of LOST-related interactive media was just too much to pass up.

Now for the "Space" part.

Have you heard of MESSENGER? (I fully expect Dr. Actually's hand to be the first one in the air here.)

It is a space probe that is heading to Mercury. Right now it is approximately here.

But to get there, it had to leave Earth orbit, obviously. Lucky for us, while doing so its Hi-Res cameras took many images that NASA has pieced together into a very nice little movie.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A myriad of topics--some hairy, some sexy (or not)

My plan tonight was to begin with a request from Ariel to me over the weekend. She asked me where my beard went and claimed that she liked it when I grew a beard.

Currently I don't feature a beard, but I did have a full beard this past winter.

So, my plan was to give you the opportunity to vote on what sort of beard I might grow to appease Ariel, because you know I love to give you, my loyal readers the chance to make me dance like a puppet on a string.

Ariel claims that she prefers a goatee style rather than the full facial model, so that is what I am limiting my choices to at the moment.

But before giving you photographic choices, you must learn about the various styles.

I won't use all these tedious names but will give you a few choices (complete with my own personal names) to make the voting simpler.

Should I got with what I call the traditional modern goatee? How about one of my personal favorites . . . the Red Sea goatee (because the moustache and chin are separated)?

Or maybe the chin model?

How about the reverse T?

Let me know what you prefer by providing a comment. I'll give the votes due deliberation and begin growing soon . . . as long as you don't make me look like a fool. I can do that on my own with no help from you and besides, I do have a public career to consider.

And, oh yeah . . . Ariel and I thank you for your input.


In a COMPLETELY unrelated bit of posting, I found this story on Slate tonight that just demanded discussion amongst the MFJF 4-square (and all of its subsidiary members). But I will give you a HEADS UP WARNING at the start--this article deals with sex (but doesn't have any graphics, so don't worry about that). If you are turned off by such things, then don't venture down the link above.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

School supplies

Ariel will begin kindergarten in a little over a week.

Many parents would take this opportunity to moan and groan over their little girl, I don't want to give her up, boo hoo, cry all the way to the front door of the school, yada, yada, yada.

Tegan and I are not like that. That is due in part to the fact that Ariel (and Ruth) have been in daycare under the careful eye of other people eight hours of every work day since they were 3 months old. We are very comfortable with their situation and have no qualms about what Ariel is about to undergo.

Besides, it is only part of the day and then she returns to the Kindercare that she is very familiar with.

So, spare us the waterworks. She'll be fine and is looking forward to it.

What do kindergarten kids need these days? Well, I can at least give you the supplies list that our elementary school provided to us. This weekend marked the first of many future school supply purchases. As the children age, we'll do it again and again.

Here's the list (and I hope you appreciate it, since I snuck into my sleeping child's bedroom to retrieve the bookbag from her closet--I couldn't find the paper list, and apparently I'll do anything for a blog post.

5 folders for holding papers and such
6 glue sticks (but no huffing please!)
8 No. 2 pencils (Tegan went with the nice metallically hued multicolored ones.)
1 set of washable watercolor paints (8 colors to a set)
1 box of washable markers (8 colors in a box)
3 boxes of crayons (non-toxic please, and yes . . . 8 colors to a box)
1 pair of safety edge, blunt tip Fiskars brand scissors (yes, they specified a brand name here)
1 pencil eraser
1 large backpack

How any of this will help Ariel get into Harvard or become an international artist I don't know. But I guess that is why they are the teachers and I just _________ for a living.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Fighting comment spam

If you have been keeping up with my site . . . and why would you not? . . . you might have noticed some comment interplay between Jack Thunder and I on the problem of blog comment spam.

It has occurred twice on my blog and I dutifully sent in a warning to Blogger about it, hoping to get some feedback on how to deal with it.

I noticed on the Blogger home page that they have provided a way to deal with the problem--comment verification.
I mention this for two reasons: 1.) to pass on the knowledge to other bloggers and 2.) to point out that I will enable this IF comment spam continues to become a problem. My personal feeling is to avoid doing this, as it adds another step to commenting and might discourage people from responding to my posts (which I definitely don't want to do). But, if the spam continues to grow, I will have to take measures to combat it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The last days . . . Napa? Meh!

You have probably already heard my audioblog as we exited the airport this afternoon, summing up our feelings on arrival back in Ohio. We ARE glad to be home. The kids were excited to see us and really didn't care that much about the awesome souvenirs that we brought back for them. I suppose being happy to see us is the better choice.

But, Tegan did take pictures of our last two days out west, so I dutifully place some of the most evocative ones here for your amusement. It really was true that if we had come home on Sunday we would have saved several bundles of cash and probably would have a better overall feeling about the trip. What was different?

Well, Napa just isn't our thing. We don't care THAT much about wine. I mean, I like to drink it and it goes well with food. And I'll enjoy learning about how wine is made and take a tour of a winery (we didn't) if you price it reasonably and tell me some interesting stuff. But, to just drive around, pay people to sip their wine, and call that a day? We gave it a brief try, but decided we just didn't care that much.

So, we wandered around some of the towns in the Valley, saw some sights, ate expensively priced food (as ALWAYS on this trip), greatly enjoyed warm temperatures and bright sunshine. We did go the to Napa Valley Museum, which was free on Mondays.

Here is Tegan beside a statue of a bear. It was outside the museum.
Another reason that things might have been more stressful and less leisurely on the last few days was the additional of the rental car. Besides adding another expense, for a part of the trip that we came to minimize, the two of us driving around in unfamiliar territory is always cause for some tense words, missed road signs, badly interpreted maps, etc. It always happens, it always will, and we continue to love each other and vacation in the future.

Tegan did get some pictures of grapes growing as I drove, to prove that we were actually where we said we were . . . since we didn't bring any bottles home. (Sorry.)

Oooh, look. The sepia feature on the camera makes this one look all "Grapes of Wrathy" or something.

Once we'd had our fill of Napa, we chilled at our less than stellar Holiday Inn in Vallejo (remember the one right across the street from the Six Flags?). The next day (our last non-travel day) we drove back to San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge this time and to our hotel near the airport.

But along the way, we spent an hour or so wandering the Berkeley campus. Tegan took a few more shots on another pretty day.

Here is a clock tower. I wondered if something important happened there in the Sixties, but maybe I'm getting it mixed up with the maniac in the U.T. clock tower. There was one odd moment when I was thinking of how on of my history books treats the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, showing some pictures of student protestors and wondering if I might recognize the appropriate buildings, when Tegan points out that we are walking past the Free Speech Cafe. Odd.

After Berkeley, we headed back downtown into the Financial (downtown) District of San Fran. Tegan wanted me to see a building that we had noticed marked on a map simply as the "Frank Lloyd Wright" building. I could not remember him doing anything significant in downtown San Francisco, but I wanted to see it if I could.

We followed the map and found the slender street (more of an alley besides Union Square, really). Nothing there that at first screamed FLW. The only possible building was

a squat, brick structure that was more modern looking than all the other buildings.

The archway out front reminded me of another Wright archway in some other city, but what really clinched it was the interior.

I didn't take a picture, because it is now an art gallery of sorts, but the interior is clearly like the Guggenheim's spiraled ramp structure. This building, the V.C. Morris Gift Shop was built before the famous New York museum, and this spiraled interior was Wright's attempt to refine the design in a smaller space before he did it in New York. The ceiling of this gift shop/art museum also reminded me of the interior ceiling treatment of the Johnson Wax Building. I was glad that I got to see it. That's one more FLW structure that I have been inside.

Then we relaxed outside in the sun at Union Square.
We ate cheesecake in the bright sunshine and tried not to think about returning to the work-a-day world.
It was a great vacation overall and we were very happy to have this time together. Thanks especially to Tegan's parents who braved the parenting of two young children for a week while we had fun.
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, August 22, 2005

The last few days

(8:49 pm PDT)

Well, things have definitely changed in the last few day of our trip--not badly but different.

First the temperature is different. Heading away from the coast has warmed us up considerably and there isn't the chilly winds coming off the bay either.

We headed over the Golden Gate bridge on Sunday and spent the day at Muir Woods park. It is full of sequoia redwood trees and is a very tranquil and peaceful spot.

When we got into the park, I noticed a strange sign.

You can see by my quizzical expression that I don't really know what is going on here. The sign says: "This area has been set aside for individuals or groups exercising their constitutional first amendment rights. The National Parks Service neither encourages or discourages, or otherwise endorses these activities and receives no funds in relation to these activities."
I thought of Sven Golly when I first saw this sign and wondered if he had an answer for who might use this spot, conveniently located near the bathrooms, to practice their rights. Stay tuned for the compelling answer.

Once we made it past that political hotbed, we got into the park.

The trees here are amazing. I have always wanted to see redwoods and I was really relaxed walking through this place.

This place really is quiet, but it isn't muggy like some forests. It is almost entirely silent (aside from the many people walking through the paths and trails). Most of the animals are active at night when all the people have gone away. To give some sense of scale, I am the small blue figure at the base of that tree.

Here is my beautiful bride; we really enjoy the tranquility of this place and spent about two hours wandering around, taking our time. Part of that was due to my ankle hurting a bit, but mostly because this place just demands that you slow down and look.

This was a small video that I took of the Redwood Creek that runs through this part of the forest. I don't think you will be able to activate the actual video here, but if you could, you would hear about ten seconds of water bubbling over rocks. It reminded me very forcefully of many camping trips that I took as a kid. I love the sound of small creeks.

When we had our fill of Muir Woods, we walked back to the car and on the way we say that the First Amendment zone had been put to use since we first arrived:

The Sierra Club was hard at work getting the word out about the need to conserve nature. Good for them.

We got in the rental and drove around the northern top of San Pablo Bay and ended our day at Vallejo, which is just south of Napa Valley. This part of our journey has been a significant change of scenery and tone as symbolized by the sight right across the street from our Holiday Inn:

We are across the street from Six Flags Marine World. Our hotel is much more normal than the swankier place that we enjoyed immensely in Fisherman's Wharf . . . but it is cheaper.

Today we drove into the Napa Valley and tried to do the wine-tasting thing. We found out that it wasn't really something we cared that much about. We stopped into one winery and tried some sips of some red wines. We talked to the person working there and paid our wine-tasting fee ($10 each!). It's just not that big a deal, to us and we've spent more than enough on this trip as it is.

We have really enjoyed our time in California and really enjoyed the time in San Francisco, the variety of people and nationalities around us, the wonderful food, the gorgeous scenery, and most of all our time together to relax. But we will be glad to be home with the girls soon.

Tomorrow we are back in San Francisco and grabbing a very early flight on Wednesday morning. We haven't yet decided what we will do tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow I'll post the pictures we took driving around Napa.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Last night and today

(3:54 pm PDT)

Last night, we went to dinner at Lou's House of Blues. Upstairs there was a rock quartet playing rock and blues. After a pretty nice dinner we tried to think of what else to do and where to get dessert.

We left the restaurant down on the Wharf and started walking up toward the center of town and into the North Beach area. It started getting dark and we were beginning to get tired and cold, but we found a nice place squeezed into a small triangular building at the corner and across the street from Washington Square. The name of the place was Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store. They served pizzas and strombolis and sandwiches. But we just wanted some coffee and some dessert. So, we got cappuccino and a slice of chocolate cake. After a nice relaxing time, we headed back down to the hotel and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

This morning we decided to get some cheap breakfast and pick up some sandwich meat and fixins' at the local grocery store. Combined with the sourdough buns and some apples, we had a cheap picnic lunch. We grabbed the Muni--the local bus service and headed down to the Golden Gate Park.

I don't really know why they call it Golden Gate Park, since you can't really see the bridge from the park, but whatever. We wandered through the park for the afternoon, looking at the nice trees, seeing flowers, watching families play. We ate our lunch beside a pond and just spent our time walking.

You can see some of the pictures we took below.

Here is a picture of me recording the audioblog that you can link to and hear in the post below this one. It was chilly and foggy--just like every other day that we have experienced here.

Here is Tegan taking a break from searching for sea shells. Apparently this part of the Pacific Coast didn't offer up any shells.

We didn't find this particular lobster during our time on the beach. Rather it was one of the many whimsical bread shapes available at the Fisherman's Wharf bakery where we bought our bread this morning.

Here we are preparing to enter . . . well, you know.

Did you know that there is a small herd of American bison inside the Golden Gate Park? Yep, there sure are.

There are lots of pretty flowers around the park and there are also some nice lakes as well.

I particularly liked this little creek that ran alongside one of the roads. It fed into Lloyd's Lake, named after the man that sponsored the creation of the park. The creek ran for several hundred yards and reminded me of the many camping trips that I took as a child.

When we stopped to eat our picnic sandwiches, we attracted many pigeons and gulls(?) that clearly hoped that we would give them some scraps of the bread.

This particular bird and many others were constantly moving in on us and bugging us. I didn't give them any of my food, but Tegan felt like being friendly.

On the way home from the park, we took the Muni bus back to our hotel's neck of the woods. The bus route took us along Haight Street, which was the closest we got to Haight/Ashbury. I definitely felt a kind of groovy vibe, but maybe that was the extremely crowded conditions on the bus and my sweat.

It was a good day. Tonight we will be having dinner at the restaurant beside the hotel. Tomorrow its a shift of scenery across the Bay and into new adventures.
this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, August 19, 2005

A morning cruise around the Bay

(1:30 pm PDT)

This morning we got up early again (before 7 am) and decided to get going. Our plan was to head over to Pier 41 and try to get tickets for the Alcatraz tour . . . the ones that I NEVER preordered . . . because I'm an idiot? Yes!

So, we grabbed our complementary coffee and walked over to a sidewalk restaurant that assured us it had famous waffles. Tegan got some and I had a bagel. It was good, but I don't remember the name of the restaurant. It was Perga--something. The owner was out hustling business when we walked up and when we were done he showed us the upstairs area that will be soon serving dinner. He was nice and personable.

Then we headed over to the Pier and got in line. We weren't able to get tickets to Alcatraz, but we bought a bay cruise that went under the Golden Gate bridge and around Alcatraz. By the time we got done it was lunchtime, so we grabbed a simple sandwich at the Hollywood Cafe on North Point Street (go eat there if you are ever in the area). Now we are resting in the hotel before braving the buses and trying to head over to the Golden Gate Park.

If you want to see some pictures of this mornings cruise, then you can go here.


In a completely unrelated news story, Google and Microsoft Word has united to make it even easier to post written things to your Blogger site. So, booyah! on all of you LiveJournal users!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Walking around . . .

(4:25 pm PDT)


We've been a lot of places today. This morning, we caught one of the three remaining cable car lines that begins near our hotel and we rode up, up, up the hills past Union Square and to the downtown Financial District.

We walked down Market Street and visited the local LensCrafters. The people there helpfully adjusted Tegan's frames and tightened my frames to put the lenses back in place. Along the way to LensCrafters, we found some interesting buildings to take pictures of,

such as this nice building that (unfortunately) housed a Gap.

There was also the Apple building that I felt deserved a picture.

Also along the way I saw many of the hated Dove ads.

So, naturally, I wanted to get a picture of "Stacey."

After that was finished, we walked through Chinatown. There we stopped to rest at a nice little park that was filled with locals reading the newspaper and playing cards, kids playing, etc.

I took this picture of some shops behind the park that looks to have a little shrine out front of one of the storefronts.

We continued to walk up through Chinatown and visited the Cable Car Museum. It was a nice place to rest and get some education of how these very historical transports work. Tegan took lots of notes on diameters of wheels, cable configurations, etc. I guess she will try to work these into her upcoming California books. I also bought my traditional refrigerator magnet in the shape of a cable car.

We then walked back down through Chinatown to eat lunch at the House of Nanking restaurant. It was recommended by one of our guide books and the concierge at the hotel also said it was a good place to go. We walked in, told them we wanted scallops (me) and chicken (Tegan) and they came back with something.

It was very nicely prepared and I enjoyed it a lot.

From there it was up, up, up to Telegraph Hill to visit Coit Tower and get some really good views of the surrounding bay. We rested there and tried, tried, tried to post some Audioblogs. Then we walked down the eastern section of Lombard Street before hiking up the very steep incline of W. Lombard Street that is topped by the

famously curved part. It was a pretty good workout, but you got

some very nice views of the area.

One nice man agreed to take our picture. You can see Coit Tower in the distant background where we walked after lunch. This sort of gives you some idea of how high we are as compared to the rest of the land.

From there we walked back down Hyde Street, paralleling the cable car route we had taken that morning.

Now we are back at the hotel and resting before we decide on what (cheaper) place to visit for dinner. I noticed an In-N-Out burger place a few blocks away, which is a place that some people said we should visit.

Tomorrow morning we are going to try and work out a trip to visit Alcatraz Island. If that doesn't work out, then maybe we'll rent some bikes and tour areas west of Fisherman's Wharf.

Day 2

(6:50 am PDT)

Well, we avoided jet lag problems and stayed in bed until approximately 10 am EDT, which is a pretty good long sleep for two parents with young kids.

Last night we discovered a small problem--Tegan's glasses got bent on the plane by our seatmate when he was squeezing past us. (She has taken them off due to a headache and had hung the glasses off of the seatback in front of her.) And then as we were getting ready to go to dinner, I discovered that one of my lenses was ready to pop out of it's frame!

So, today, our first goal is to head down into the Chinatown district, or thereabouts and visit a Lenscrafters to (hopefully) get our glasses repaired. There is lots to do down in that area, so we may just make a morning of it.

Last night we went to Pier 39 for dinner and ate at the Crab House, home of the Killer Crab! I decided to have the crab enchiladas and Tegan had halibut. It was good.

We wandered around the tourists Pier, which reminded me of Chicago's Navy Pier. We took some pictures of the bay in early, foggy evening. I'll try to download some later. We also got to see the sea lions, per Jack Thunder's request.

Well, its time for breakfast and then glasses repair!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hangin' at Fisherman's Wharf

(3:43 pm PDT)

Well, we made it, but slightly later than we expected. Our plane from Cincinnati was delayed for two+ hours due to excessive fog in Raleigh/Durham. But still, we soldiered on . . .

Once we made it to San Francisco International--four hours or so in the air--we collected the rest of our bags and decided to take the BART to the Embarcadero, which curves along the bay, forming the eastern boundary of the peninsula and the edge of the Fisherman's Wharf area.

Once there we realized that it was a fair hike on foot to our hotel on the northern tip of Fisherman's Wharf, so we grabbed a taxi and soon arrived. Driving along the edge of the bay was nice. I got to see the many rows of old loading piers that are now converted or soon will be converted into restaurants and shops.

We are in our room now . . . it's mid-afternoon and a pleasant, bright 65 degrees. Tegan is probably already asleep, having worked herself to death for the past three weeks in the vain hope of feeling a sense of achievement with her project before leaving.

We've spoken to the girls at home and they seem to be doing fine without us, as I knew would be the case. The fact that Nana and Poppa's van can play Mary Poppins has apparently soothed some of their fears--as I knew it would.

We'll rest here for a bit and probably grab an early dinner at some place close.

Coming up at WWYG?! . . . four days in San Francisco!

What will happen next?
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

D Day minus 1

Our D(epature) day for our San Francisco trip is early tomorrow morning.

And you know that I am ready . . .

. . . to leave the office.

Yep. I've taken great pains to get a bit ahead on my project (so things won't fall behind while I am gone), I've made lists, today I'll send emails and talk to people covering things for me, etc. Yessiree, work is in tip-top shape.

Now, there IS the pesky problem of what we are actually doing in San Francisco that is presenting a bit of a challenge.

It was supposed to be easier than this. Tegan's parents were arriving last night. I was going to pay last minute bills, look through guide books to nail down something of an itinerary, and I was going to pack.

But an emergency phone call from a friend hit me and T. at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. Our friend's husband was out of town on a business trip and she was afraid that she was having an asthma attack. So Tegan and I got the kids from school, I said hello to the grandparents, and I drove off to help her get her two boys out of school, get fed, and let her relax a bit until they were ready for bed. She began feeling much better and I got to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban again, so it's all good.

But I didn't get to work on my itinerary and I didn't finish packing.

But, I have decided this morning not to worry. After all, San Francisco is chock full of interesting things to see and do, right? It's not like we will be struggling to come up with activities. And it will actually be nice to sleep late and discuss what interesting and fun things we would like to do every day over a leisurely breakfast. The last time Tegan and I discussed anything leisurely over breakfast was . . . probably five years ago?

So, the trip will take shape as it wants to and as we want it to.

I just want to be alone with Tegan and enjoying a city I've never been to. And unless something catches fire, I don't want to know about it.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Another book review

Well, I finished another book--and this time I finished it only one day past the due date. It's tough being topical and having to fight others for books on a library's hold list . . . you don't get to renew them and so, if you aren't sufficiently dedicated in your reading, you'll end up paying fines. But, at least the money is going to a community service.

This book Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter is a very interesting read. The title says it all . . . the most dangerous items in our culture, the banes of our children's existence--TELEVISION, VIDEO GAMES, the INTERNET--aren't really turning our minds into mush. They are, in author Steven Johnson's opinion, making us smarter, smarter even than we were thirty years ago.

We are getting smarter precisely because these media outlets challenge our brain moreso than conventional wisdom would have you believe. There is still bad television out there but the average plot on television is more complex today than it was thirty years ago--the number of characters interacting, the amount of interactions, etc. It helps the brain learn to deal with complexity--even if the show is not Pride and Prejudice or Nicholas Nickleby.

This applies to reality TV as well--surely one of the most vilified genre's on television. Johnson isn't defending Fear Factor but he does argue that the complexity of interaction and plots on a typical episode of Survivor gives your brain a workout. That is what is really the crux of the matter here. No one is saying that television or video games are nourishing in a cultural or artistic sense, but they do challenge the synapses and encourage the brain to keep track of multiple plot threads and multiple character arcs over an extended period of time.

This sets TV and today's computer games apart from their predecessors in earlier generations--the level of complexity that modern viewers and gamers take for granted. Gunsmoke is to 24 as Pong is to Grand Theft Auto.

I found the book to be very engaging and convincing in its arguments. Now that doesn't mean that I am going to let Ariel and Ruth spend all day in front of the TV and wave it away as stimulation for the brain. But I won't worry so much if they want to watch Finding Nemo for the eighth time . . . after all, it is a lot more complex than Bambi ever was.

Lunchtime conversation

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

New book review

I wrote something about Bernard Goldberg's book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37).

You can read it here.

Remember, please, that this is Goldberg's list. I'm just commenting on it.

I agree with others that the people he lists miss the heart of the problem while I acknowledge his point that culture is crasser than it used to be. But do these people have the kind of REAL influence that can make lives better or worse. Let parent's police the next generation's cultural exposure Bernie.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The family that is lame together . . .

. . . stays together.

"Hey Burb! Whatcha doin' now, huh?"

Well, I'll tell ya.

I'm sitting here at the dining room (is it really a room? more of a dining area) table, listening to The Killers while sitting across from my lovely wife.

"How nice . . . playing Scrabble are you?"

Nope. Both doin' some work . . . but we are drinking some wine to make up for it. We decided to open a bottle to go with dinner and I proceeded to begin mangling the cork. Tegan helpfully finished the mangling (while also chipping the bottle opening).

So, with no cork we HAVE to finish the bottle--or more likely throw some of it away. We just don't drink that much, okay?

I am REALLY enjoying The Killers (and I KNOW that some of you are shaking your heads, because it's only be popular for months now, but forgive me).

I am also enjoying Mashuptown.com more and more. Trust me that you haven't completely lived until you have heard The Doors "Light My Fire" combined with Sesame Street's "Phenomen, Mena (Dit do dit do do)" song. And to make it ever crazier, it throws in a bit of "Macarena." Go find it and enjoy.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Memories, new and old

Ariel did another interesting piece of artwork the other day, one that I thought I would share:

In this picture, the family has gone camping (that was the theme at her daycare last week). The quarter-circle thing in the middle is the tent. Notice, please, that she has cleverly placed the tent on the high ground, so that if it rains, we won't sleep on damp earth. I don't know who taught her that trick, but it is nice too see.

The family is lined up beside the tent. I am right beside the tent, probably after just finishing putting it up. Mom (in the hip yellow slacks) is beside me. Ariel is next (notice the characteristic long hair. Ruth, with her signature curly hair is last in our family lineup.

On the other side of the hill is Ariel's bunny that she sometimes sleeps with (see the ears sticking up?). Ruth's Elmo doll (I think) is beside the bunny, and both of those sleep aides sit atop our multi-colored sleeping bags. I guess we need to move the sleeping bags into the tent to take advantage of the high ground.

You can also see that Ariel has placed the classic tree at the left edge of the drawing. I have drawn countless trees as a kid and they all ended up like this one. with the hole in the middle of the trunk. Ariel has chosen to color her hole yellow while I always made mine black, but she has always used a wider color palate than I.


In other news, I have some more scrapbook pages to review today.

The smudged piece of per at the top of this page are the shorthand directions for band marching maneuvers. Back when I was in middle school I and a few other band members helped one of the high school band students perform a 5 minute marching demonstration (think the scene from "Stripes" but without the funny dialogue and guns). The high school student was John Perry and it was his job to design the maneuvers, teach them to us, and perform it in front of the high school band directors. This was part of his audition to be a drum major that year.

I won't reproduce the entire thing, but my poor 14-year-old cursive begins: "I am 12 steps from sidelines, 2 steps behind person in front of me. I am 4 steps off the center line. MT (that means mark time hut) 4 (step in place for four steps). Right flank, forward 4, right flank, forward 4 (FTL--which means "follow the leader"). After flank, forward 4 . . . etc. Plus I have notes for horn moves--I played trumpet at the time. I don't remember if John was selected as drum major or not.

The other item on this page is a Peanuts cartoon that spoke to me then . . . and still does today. Charlie Brown is in bed at night, trying to sleep.

"It's very strange," he says in the first panel. "Sometimes you lie in bed at night and you don't have a single thing to worry about."

"That always worries me."

(Sounds like my recent attitude about the job . . . . It seems I haven't changed much since 1985.)

On this page you see me on my 13th birthday. (I guess I should have discussed this page first.) I don't know why I wrote 12 years if the date is indeed October 17, 1984. (I thought my math was better than that--considering I was born in 1971.)

Don't I look laid back and don't those glasses do nothing for my appearance? Behind me are four of my good friends at the time--Stan, Ronald (who had the pool and lived next to Stephen), Nathaniel, and Jay. Stan and I got into trouble a few years later when we went walking across town late at night when we were supposed to be camping in his back yard. It was the only time I ever got picked up by the police. Jay had recently moved into town and was often misunderstood by the other kids. His family had recently lived in Pennsylvania and a lot of kids gave him hell for being a Yankee. It bothered him at times, but we got along. We both had fun playing computer games and reading L. Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth series. (And, to my knowledge, neither of us became Scientologists.) I lost touch with Ronald and Nate during Jr. High and High School. Jay, Stan, and I joined the band and went off to do band things.

The second picture is of me at Desoto Falls Campground, where my family spent many summer vacations. I loved camping there as a kid and sometimes wish that I made more of an effort to take my kids camping now. Tegan never camped at all as a kid, so she might be a bit against it . . . and I have never had to start my own fire and cook my own food (thought that can be solved with sandwiches). Mostly, I am being lazy and will regret it. But I keep saying when the kids get a bit bigger--but who knows when I will convince myself that that magical time has arrived.

The last item is a clipping of the newspaper show time for Dune, that Kyle McLaughlin starring, Toto soundtrackin' monstrosity of a movie. I had read the book already--having borrowed it from my oldest brother MSquared who was attending Georgia Tech at the time. This was my first exposure to David Lynch. Five years later I would be a card-carrying, cherry pie eating fanatic of Twin Peaks. And I would see Blue Velvet in college. But that was all to come. I didn't know the movie was bad at the time, but I enjoyed it a lot. They handed out vocabulary lists as you entered the theater (something that I have NEVER seen happen for any other movie, no matter how odd) and I thought my sister MA would turn around right there. To this day, I am not sure why she went with me. She's not a big science fiction fan and certainly wasn't when she was 15 . . . maybe it was Sting as Feyd Rautha.


I also saw a good movie this weekend. You can read about it here.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Cheeseburger in . . . Limbo?

Tonight after work, Tegan and I decided to take the girls out to a restaurant. And so we decided to go to a place that we had not been before--Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Yeah, shut up, okay? I am well aware about how some of you feel about these sorts of restaurants. I didn't ask you to go.

The food, well, it was what you expect.

Lots of drink options . . . or so it seems (more on that later), several varieties of cheeseburger, other grilly, restauranty fare. My burger was well cooked and suitably sloppy. The fries were tasty and not badly done. Tegan got a chicken quesadilla that she deemed "quite good."

I had decided to order a mohito with my meal. (I saw Emeril make one once.) But it never came. At least I didn't get charged for it.

We pointed it out to our "islander" when she brought us the bill mostly so she might learn from her mistake, but I doubt she will. It seems like she was working to get us out of there, since we arrived in the last moments of Happy Hour and right before the serious dinner rush began. She naturally wanted to try and maximize her opportunity for tips by cycling us out of the way. But really, she never filled up our water glasses (important considering we were not given our other drink options), she only came by one time other than when she dropped off the check. We sort of seemed to be an inconvenience.

She never acted that way towards us, but it was mostly neglect . . . and she really didn't act very apologetic when we pointed out her mistake. She sort of mumbled an apology while taking away plates and when she dropped off the bill with my credit card she started to say sorry behind my back, but I kid you not, it just sort of tapered . . . off . . . into . . . nothing.

Oh well . . .

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Whoa . . . I'm closer than I thought, but still only a wanna-be

I am 27% Hippie.
Wanna Be Hippie!
I need to step away from the tie-dye. I smell too good to be a hippie and my dad is probably a cop. Being a hippie is not a fashion craze, man. It was a way of life, in the 60’s, man.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Some caution, some advice

Sometimes I blog on my hit count, like I did in the post just below.

You might think that I am obsessed with such meaningless numbers or caught up in some sort of race. That isn't REALLY true.

I watch my numbers occasionally, but I don't think about them every day.

I guess I am just wondering if anything I do will cause my numbers to grow. I don't really have illusions that my blog will become famous or well-known. The odds against that are just so high. (But yes, I still check Newsweek every week, secretly wondering if some technology editor will take pity on me.) The reason I think about it, I guess, is that I habitually read other blogs by people that have been doing it for five or six years and, through some sort of alchemy or extreme networking, found a way to build an audience of critical mass.

So, I wonder how to do that . . .

But then I read stuff like this from one of the BusinessWeek bloggers: "I've put a huge amount of work into my FIVE blogs and gotten next to nothing in return. Sure, I've made a few good contacts, but I was doing that with email and my five web sites before I even started blogging. . . . I won't say that it's been a complete waste of time, but I can confidently say that it has not been a productive use of my time."

Pretty harsh, right?

But still I persevere.

Others on the BusinessWeek blog suggest that I post on Apple, as a way to drive up my hits. So, okay--have you seen the new Apple Mouse? It is completely the coolest mouse ever.

Unfortunately, I have a already very cool trackball mouse for my work computer and the new Apple mouse, no matter how cool it is . . . it isn't cordless, so I'm not gonna use it with my iBook. I guess I'll just have to wait for the cordless, Bluetooth version.

So, there you go . . . I'm linking to successful blogs; I'm writing about Apple. Anybody want to discuss Harry Potter some more?

The awful truth

So Dr. Actually, Flipper, and I got into a discussion of blogs this afternoon and Dr. A wondered how my hit traffic was coming along.

So, I dutifully checked. Here is the awful truth:

The two HUGE (for me, anyway) spikes corresponded with the beginning of July, right after Ruth's birthday; the second was right after Ariel's birthday.

So, this proves that people don't read UNLESS I am discussing my kids. They are driving my traffic!

(You know, I should find out how things were going when I was obsessing about the air conditioner . . .)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Entry that is apropos of nothing

I feel like crap today--have a cold since yesterday and probably running a small fever (or maybe that is just the 95+ temperature and the humidity.

Anyway . . . why can't I relax? On the surface it looks like my work project is rolling along and everything seems to be on schedule.

But I can't trust the dates and the papers that I look at every day, trying to discern if I am missing something. I have convinced myself that I will miss something and soon . . . VERY soon, it will all become clear to me and everything will crack and crash down on top of me.

(deep breath)

Seriously, what is wrong with me?

I used to habitually worry about stuff like this a lot. So much so that my parents had me talk to a counselor/psychiatrist when I was in high school. He was a very genial sort of guy and we spend our weekly sessions just talking about my week. I don't for the life of me remember what we did to make me better. No breathing techniques or meditative postures or anything.

And while I worry, so many people do, right? It's not exactly uncommon in our stressful, job-centric culture. But why can't I just let go and take the day as it comes?

Happy birthday to Jack Thunder. We had a nice lunch with him at semi-local Middle Eastern eatery. Every time I go there, I say to myself "I should eat here more often . . . or this food more often." But it would be hard to convince Ariel and Ruth to try the Shawarma, and Tegan and I don't go out on dates NEARLY enough.
So, back to work. Gotta keep an eye out for that creeping disaster. I am sure it is just around that corner over there.