Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Burb in Dreamland

This is, to the best of my memory, the dream that I had during the early morning hours of Tuesday.

I am with Sarah at a theater. It looks like Kill Bill, vol. 2 is on the screen. The theater space is not a traditional theater with seats, but rather a open space that seems like a cafeteria or gym. People are sitting, lounging on the floor, which is covered by a dark-colored tarp.

I realize what the content of the movie is, but I don't take her out of the theater. As a fight scene begins on the screen, I try to distract her from watching by explaining that the movie and the characters are not real. It seems that I am succeeding in distracting her. She is looking away from the screen and is paying attention to me. Then she begins to fall asleep in my arms.

Just then, J.J. Abrams and a friend or entourage member arrive in the theater space and recline in front of us. J.J. wants to talk to me and we get into a conversation as the movie continues. Then, after we have talked for a bit, he disappears, as does the movie-watching crowd. Now I am alone with J.J.'s friend. We turn our attention to two people behind us in the corner of the empty space. It is dark, but these two are lit with a spotlight. They are preparing to battle each other, reminiscent of Kill Bill. J.J.'s friend informs me that this is something J.J.'s friends have to do. It seems like a sort of initiation or cyclical test of dominance.

Then I am in the movie. Sarah is gone and I have a small grey and black kitten that is asleep in my arms. This scene is taken from a recent David Lynch short movie I saw. I don't know the names of the two actors, but they are frequent participants in Lynch movies. We are all standing in a field (it feels like Texas or somewhere in the Plains--sunny, dusty) beside a split rail fence.

I am also here with some of my other friends from work, but I don't know who they are. They are sort of on the periphery of my vision, but I can't quite see their faces. I know they are there, however. As we stand by the fence we see another man appear. He is one of those Hey! It's That Guy! actors. I think it was the same actor that played the owner of the Double Deuce but he seems more quietly sinister than his character was in Road House. (After writing this I realized he is also the actor that played Locke's dad on LOST.)

He invites me and my friends (not the other actors standing at the fence) to walk across the field to his house. I agree to do so, but have to put down my sleeping cat in the weeds beside the fence, which is also bordering a drainage ditch and an asphalt road. I carefully put the cat down and walk towards the house. The Double Deuce guy also has two large, furry white dogs that follow along.

Once we are in his house, he allows us to choose three novelty items that are all laid out on a big table in his den (the sort of plasticky stuff that kids get at the dentist office or in a coin operated vending machine). I and all of my friends begin to examine the choices. I get the feeling that we can't leave the house without permission and that we are being carefully monitored.

Eventually I begin to worry about my sleeping cat back beside the road. I ask permission to check on the cat and the Double Deuce guy allows me to check on the cat, but only from the yard.

I go out the back door and then decide to leave the yard anyway. I leave his property and enter a small wooded area with small trees. It's not a forest, just a collection of small pines, sort of like you might find at the edge of a golf course hole. I have to jump over a small ditch to get to where the fence is. (I'm now wearing white ankle socks, but no shoes.)

As I crawl through the trees I can see that the cat is awake and is running back and forth in a scared, panicky manner. I can also see scratch marks on the cat's fur (an injury reminiscent of one our last cat, Pierre, sustained before he got sick and died).

I can also see a kind looking father and son has stopped their minivan beside the roadside ditch and is trying to calm the cat and coax it into the van to come with them. The father sees me slowly crawling through the trees. I tell him that the cat (which I am now calling Grace) is mine and that I am trying to keep her from running around and come to me. . . .


So . . . WTF?
Is it a commentary on my parenting? What does it mean? It's been a LONG time since I've had such a vivid dream and I NEVER remember them.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Blogging Mystique

Regular readers will note that my posts lately have been mostly about the children and not a lot about me and what's going on in my life. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it isn't what I intend WWYG?! to be about all of the time.

So why have you been served a regular diet of children?

Simply because NOTHING is going on in my life! Work is a shapeless mass of blah every day. When I'm not working, I'm trying to think of what to make for dinner ; in fact, I think I'm channeling Betty Friedan right now.

If I was a better writer and more imaginative, then I could overcome these problems of ordinariness and make each and every post scintillating. For example, see how a much more talented blogger handles something as mundane as clogged plumbing.

Now that's good writing.

Maybe I'll be able to make my own entries more evocative someday. Or maybe I'll resort to taking a hammer to my crappy stove in a desperate attempt to make things exciting. Until then, you get reflections on Sarah's art classes.

Sarah has been to two Young Rembrandts classes so far. The first class was mostly an introduction to the principles of art, which I am sure covered the discussion of the vanishing point, the culturally-specific notion of what constitutes art, the dilemmas of the popular artists in the modern world, and . . . oh yeah . . . a drawing of snowmen.

During the second week Sarah and her classmates designed currency--not, presumably so they can become the first artists to be wealthy (albeit illegal counterfeiters)--but to emphasize planning, the layering of objects, a unity of design and function, whatever. I don't actually know WHAT the purpose of designing currency is, since I'm not in there during classtime. Instead I have spent the first two sessions hanging out in the elementary school library.

The first week I listened to my iPod in the corner behind the stacks (so the kids in there for remedial reading wouldn't be distracted by me). I read a TWoP recap of Battlestar Galactica (which I am going to stop reading since I very much dislike the recapper's writing style). The second week I was trained on how to properly check in and reshelve the library books. I didn't make much of a dent in the books that needed reshelving, but the school's secretary was embarrassingly happy to get any help at all. We'll see how far into it I get this week.

In other news, Sarah's reading is slowly developing. Lynda and I enrolled her in a Hooked on Phonics program that is taught by one of her daycare teachers. She brings home simple books that we read at night and I have also helped her read some pages in some of her other storybooks, which are considerably more challenging. I have observed that she is so focused on the phonics and syllables of each word that I think she has no concept of the message being conveyed by each sentence. I am sure this is entirely natural, but I am slowly trying to get her to realize that if she can eventually maintain an awareness of the sentence as well as the words, her comprehension will improve. (But I don't say it like that and she's not really listening right now anyway.) But, I'm going to keep pointing out the bigger picture so she won't get entirely wrapped up in the small details.

Grace was in a REALLY crappy mood tonight because she didn't take a nap at school today. And believe me, you don't want to get mixed up with her when she's in a bad mood. It won't go well. It doesn't help that she has a cold that has made her uncomfortable for several days in a row now. But, when she's in a good mood, she is great fun and is very joyful.

As I type the Arts & Entertainment network is broadcasting the first movie about the plane crashes of September 11. Apparently this made-for-tv movie, Flight 93, isn't as bad as you probably expect it to be. I don't have any interest in watching it.

I suppose that this is a more appropriate memorial to what happened on that plane. But, I have to admit that as much as I appreciate the artistic effort behind memorials and the architectural ideas behind the construction, I am a bit weirded out by the language on the website. I don't know how I would word it, and I suppose I should be glad that it didn't fall to me to confront it.

Well, on that note, I'll put this post to bed, fold some clothes, or maybe iron some pants.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday at the zoo

I knew that Lynda was going to be at work this afternoon, so I was trying to decide what to do with the kids. When we got up this morning and prepared for church, it didn't look there was much hope of doing anything outside. The sky was cloudy and there was pretty steady rain.

But once church was over (the Bishop visited, seven people were confirmed, I read a very confusing letter from Paul to the Corinthians and managed not to drop the chalice) the sun was peaking through the clouds and there seemed to be hope that it might be possible to get the girls outside for a while.

First, however, it was resting time. Sarah and Grace went into their rooms for an hour of individual play time/rest time/nap. I hit the bed and napped myself. Normally, I don't nap during these weekend rest periods. I either catch up on some reading or do laundry while watching some TV. But once I got home from church and put on some jeans, I just fell back on the bed and slept for as long as I could get away with it. Lynda changed, got the kids in their rooms and headed off to the office.

At 3 pm, I woke up and got the kids going. We decided we would try to go to the zoo, even though it wasn't a picture perfect day.

When we got there it was clear that this was going to be a very different zoo experience than we were used to. The parking lot was absolutely empty. We could have parked in the first lot by the entrance, which is unheard of in my several years of zoo-going. But, I haven't visited before on a late January day.

I felt for the employees that had to work on this day, when it was clear that not much had been going on. Of course not all the staff was there--the food and souvenir vendors that are always around in the summer weren't there, and it seemed that all the restaurants were closed as well. Of course many of the animals weren't out and about in January either, but I didn't mind and I don't think the girls cared TOO much.

The main area where the giraffes and zebras are usually out (beside the lions, who also were not outside) is being renovated. Apparently they are converting that area into a new Asia-themed area, with more tigers and other cool stuff. It will probably feel similar to the Australia and SE Asia exhibits they have opened in recent years. If they actually have tigers out and about, I'll be happy. The white one the zoo has displayed before is big, but he is enclosed and hard to really watch.

Sarah and Grace did have some fun posing on some of the statues for me. And we did make sure to go to some of the inside exhibits. I really liked the deserted feel of the place. There were no crowds, just isolated families wandering from one place to the next. Maybe it was busier earlier in the day, but we were there during the last two hours of operation. We decided to see if the outdoor playground was open (alas, no). But on the way there we passed by the merry-go-round, which is just about the best invention in the world in Grace's eyes.You can see how much she enjoys it. I have only once convinced her to sit on a horse (while I hold onto her standing beside it). To this point, she prefers to sit in one of the two benches.

I got a video of our ride today, but I have been unable to upload it right now. (When finally do, I'll place a comment.)

We also wandered through the reptile building and enjoyed the turtles and snakes.

Once home we got the kids to bed and I spent some time balancing the checkbook and "savings" account. It's a depressing, but necessary, action that I put off far too often.

Now I'm catching up on the latest LOST podcast and wondering if I should get myself involved in a movie (Lost Highway) before going to bed.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saturdazed (now updated!)

Man, I am tired.

I helped a friend move today and though it didn't take a long time and I didn't have to do a lot of it myself, when I got home my tiredness hit me really hard.

I guess it is an inescapable fact that I am out of shape, try as I might to deny it.

But, you couldn't ask for better weather in late January--mid 50s, bright and sunny. If all the trees didn't look like dead sticks, you might think it was early Spring.

So now I'm home with Grace while Lynda and Sarah are at a birthday party.

The laundry is laying downstairs in great piles, just laughing at me. It's daring me to ignore it!



I didn't/haven't done any laundry yet.

Instead Grace and I went into the backyard where I swung her on the swingset for what seemed like twenty minutes of straight pushing. It doesn't exactly qualify as a workout, but it might be the best I get today. I pushed her so long, it began to feel like she and the swing were stationary and I was the one oscillating back and forth, back and forth.

While we "swang" we had a good talk, as only two year olds can. Imagine a constant stream of statements and questions that always have to be acknowledged or answered lest you hear the same identical thing five times in a row.

But it was good because we talked a lot about what she wanted for her next birthday party. She informed me that she wanted a blueberry cake with either white or chocolate icing. The food that is to be served at the party include soup (not sure what type), cheese sandwiches, gummies for a snack and water to drink. The games to be played and the decorations all seem to be centered around the color pink and the word princess.

Yep . . . sounds like my daughter.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A Million Little Annoyances

So, you've probably heard about the great media circus of the moment--the "controversy" regarding James Frey's truth/lack of truth in his "memoir" A Million Little Pieces.

I read this book about a year ago, thanks to a tip from Flipper. This was long before Oprah got involved and named it as part of her resurrected Book Club. I liked the book, thought I didn't relate to the litany of drug problems, rehab, lies, alcohol, and crimes that Frey described. I did think while reading it that many scenes Frey described were very extreme and I wondered how anyone could have gone through the mistakes and pain that he described.

Turns out he didn't experience it either.

But I'm not writing this to review the book. Instead I am commenting on the media shit-storm that has arisen around it since The Smoking Gun.com began questioning Frey's memory and how Oprah devoted so much time to belittling Frey while distancing herself from his truth/lack of truth.

My biggest response to all of this is . . . who cares?!

Who IS Frey, after all but some guy with problems that spun his mistakes into a book that gained popularity? It's not as if someone of importance or national merit was caught telling lies. Naturally this all comes out of the Jayson Blair/New York Times controversy, which had much more merit, since he was a "journalist" whose job was to report the truth.

But Frey is just a writer and not anyone significant anyway. I know that many people have found inspiration from his story and used his "triumph" over his problems to give them the courage to solve their own issues, but it's not like Abraham Lincoln lied about writing the Emancipation Proclamation. Again, it's not significant.

Unfortunately, what actually is significant is harder to understand and identify these days. One reason for that is because it's a lot easier to get noticed and become famous these days than it used to be. Back in the past you had to accomplish something more worthwhile to really be treated as important. But these days, being a jerk on a reality show is about all you need to become the talk of the town for several weeks.

And so, it become a large problem when no-name moderately successful authors get wrapped up in the Importance of Being Oprah. And really, that is the key to the issue here. If Oprah hadn't chosen A Million Little Pieces as part of her Book Club, then we would most likely never have heard much about Frey's "truthiness." By besmirching Oprah's name, it became a much bigger deal.

After all, Oprah is Important; Oprah is Inspiring; Oprah gives hope to us all. And by exposing her Book Club choice as Less Than Worthy, it opens the crack to wondering, what else isn't Oprah thinking long, deep thoughts about? Does she really care about me as much as she claims to? Does she truly want to help ME as much as she promises? Does she truly understand my problems?

Is she as much of a fabulist as Mr. Frey?

Say it ain't so, Oprah!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Finding acceptance through exhaustion

I wasn't in a great mood tonight . . . and the thing was, it just came over me very suddenly.

But looking back over it now, I can see where parts of it came together, building and then arriving all at once.

The kids and I were home. I was trying to figure out what to do about dinner. (By tonight, my creativity was pretty well shot.) I didn't have any meat thawed; the kids didn't like my quiche from Monday--which was really good but the kids aren't ready for that; I'd also whipped up some creative potatoes AND utilized some of the cooked turkey for yesterday's meal; basically, I had nothing.

Usually that means one of two things (for the kids, I mean)--heat up some frozen chicken nuggets or cook a frozen pizza. And choosing the pizza option ACTUALLY means both, since Sarah refuses to eat pizza . . . and I wasn't ready to fight about separate meals tonight. And that is NOT something we do in this house. But, I am tired.

Anyway, these options are running in my head, and I chose pizza (and nuggets).

The kids ate okay. Sarah did her usual dinner thing, in which she eats one bite, then waves her arms all over the place, then mugs for her reflection in the mirror, then waves her arms around a bit more, then thinks about eating another bite . . . but chooses to begin telling me a story instead and then I get frustrated and reminder her to eat--probably more forcefully than I should.

And then Lynda got home. And while it is completely not her fault, the fact that she is STILL coming home late and she had nothing but bad news to report about her project and blah, blah, blah, I just got angry and tired about her entire situation and how it has affected all of us. So that made things seem worse.

However, things improved eventually. Lynda took the kids upstairs and got them in their pajamas, teeth brushed, etc. I sat down to watch Good Eats. After that was over (the episode was about sugar/caramel), I decided to play "Tickle Monster" with the kids.

This game involves a whole lot of running, screaming, tickling, tackling, whatever. As long as it doesn't also involve running into each other (which DID happen tonight, Grace going one way around a corner while Sarah went the other way) or bumping into sharp edges, then all is good. You can see a bit of the madness here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wherein I call Dan Brown a hack and then secretly hope he'll call me so that we can discuss my book idea.

I admit it . . . I've been obsessing about Dan Brown lately. (Just ask my lunching friends, as I've talked about him for several days straight.)

I got into the Dan Brown craze later than most. I didn't read The Da Vinci Code until this past December. I just finished Angels & Demons this week. But, reading them so close together has given me insight.

Dan Brown has been writing the same novel for years.

This is, maybe, not the most shocking thing ever. After all, successful novelists often churn out similar books, using similar characters. There was the woman who did all the Cat Detective books. Tolkien used the same universe and the same characters for several books. Tom Clancy even wrote several books with the same character. (But at least Clancy set one on a submarine vs. Soviets and another in Ireland vs. the IRA.)

Dan Brown, however, has chosen to take his most famous fictional character, famed "symbologist" Robert Langdon and drop him into two identical plots.

For instance:
  1. Robert Langdon is awakened to solve a mysterious murder.
  2. He travels to Rome/Paris to uncover the nefarious plot of the Illuminati/Opus Dei.
  3. Along the way, he hooks up with brainy, but unconventionally beautiful academic woman. They face peril several times but escape each time . . and all within the course of a single day.
  4. The Catholic Church is the enemy . . . even if you don't' think it is. Basically, the Catholic Church is ALWAYS lying to you.

That's about it really. Sure, details are different here and there. One involves branding, the other artwork. Sprinkle in a great deal of architecture/art history, some fifty references to Harris Tweed, bingo . . . a "Dan Brown" novel.

But I really shouldn't be so hard on Mr. Brown because I hear he's almost finished with another in what I am sure will be a thrilling Robert Langdon page-turner. This one is supposed to be set in Washington, D.C.

So, that got me thinking . . . could I write a Dan Brown book set in the nation's capital? (And didn't Nicholas Cage already make the movie last year?)

I think the plot would go something like this:

Harvard "symbologist" Robert Langdon awakens in a hotel in Burundi.

He's in the middle of sleeping off a night of drinking, which followed a rather heated conference Q & A session about the dual meanings of the Roman

Langdon groans, but quickly awakens, accustomed as he has become to this sort of early morning interruption. He throws off his Harris tweed sheets (custom made by the Burundi hotel), slips into his Harris tweed slippers, and pads to the hotel door clad in only his Harris tweed pajama bottoms.
He opens the hotel door to silence the incessant pounding and is confronted with the night shift hotel manager.

Langdon groggily listens while the manager first apologizes for interrupting his sleep and then informs him that he has received an urgent pdf file via the hotels central computer email. The manager seems a bit bewildered by this, since, as he claims "No one knows what our central email address is . . . but, here it is anyway." He hands Langdon the printout.

Langdon tries to wipe the sleep out of his eyes and focus on the piece of paper that is swimming in front of him. He also momentarily thinks that he should have put on his Harris tweed bathrobe instead of standing in the chilly doorway with no shirt on. But, he mentally shook the cobwebs out of his mind and looked at the email. Langdon immediately hopes he is dreaming and will soon wake up . . .


I can't tell you that . . . at least not until either 1) Mr. Brown and I agree upon copyright issues for this story or 2) Ron Howard and Tom Hanks calls me for a screenplay treatment.

What I CAN tell you is that in the course of a very hectic and thrilling day, Robert Langdon and the comely daughter of an Iraqi archaeologist will race from Cairo, Egypt to Memphis, Tennessee to Mount Vernon, Virginia, wherein they will discover a heretofore unknown connection between ancient Egyptians, George Washington, and Elvis Presley.

(Psst . . . Dan, email me!)

Depression and Britney

You may know from yesterday's news and from numerous bloggers that yesterday is considered (statistically) the most depression day of the year.

Now, as difficult as that may be (and believe me when I tell you that I know some people who are pretty depressed today), you COULD say that at least the most depressing day is over with and now, lets get on with the rest of the year. It's gotta get better, right?

Please, someone tell me it'll get better!

I'm doing fine comparatively.
Yesterday evening as I was putting coats on the girls in preparation for our weekly drive to our small group meeting, Sarah asked me what innocent meant.
I told her that it meant "you hadn't committed a crime" and asked her why she was asking.
She said she had heard the words "not that innocent" and wondered what it meant.
Well . . . I told her that those words in particular were part of a song that I didn't particularly like and didn't think she needed to be listening to. (I knew that there are times in the morning at daycare when I drop her off that the school-age girls are listening to Britney Spears on the CD player. I have spoken to the teacher about it before and it had stopped being a problem, but I might have to bring it up again.)
Sarah then wanted to know why she shouldn't listen to that song.
I told her that that song had a bad message for girls that I didn't want her to think about, that such messages encouraged girls to focus on how they looked, the clothes they wore, if boys liked them or not . . . stuff that wasn't as important as trying to be nice to other people, trying to learn as much as you can and be kind to others.
I am sure that I oversimplified things a bit, but I hope she understood. I told her that I loved her mom NOT because of her clothes, or how pretty she might be, but because she was smart, kind, good to others.
That is the kind of girl I want her to be.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Thursday afternoon/Saturday afternoon

On Thursday, I took Sarah to her first Young Rembrandts art class at her kindergarten/elementary school building. There were around fifty boys and girls waiting to start the class and they all gathered in the school's gymnasium, where they would be sorted into two groups (K through 2nd and 3rd through 5th grades). Meanwhile the rest of the school's kids were going in and out of hallways, lining up to get on their buses for home, general chaos--the kind of chaos that I haven't felt in many years, not hanging around schools much lately.

Finally, the kids were sorted and the two groups went into their separate classrooms. But what was I to do for the next hour? I could have left, but knew I would not get very far before I would have to come back again. It was a bright, sunny day, so I could have sat outside the school (I had brought reading material and my iPod), but I admit that I didn't want anyone thinking I was stalking the kids and casing the school like some sort of pervert.

So, I asked the school's principal, who was nearby, where I could go and wait. Dr. E suggested I try the library, which sounded fine to me. So, I signed in at the office, got a visitor's sticker on my sweater vest and was directed to the library. Dr. E offered that if I had nothing else planned, I could volunteer to resolve books while I waited. I declined on that day but have mentally filed away the notion of doing it next week. It seems like the community-spirited thing to do.

When Sarah was done with her class, we drove back to the daycare to pick up Grace. As we were buckling into the car I made a snap decision. Since the weather was so bright and sunny (if chilly) why not take advantage and play for a while at the small park beside the daycare?

The girls greeted my idea enthusiastically and we spent the next thirty minutes playing on the slides and park equipment as the sun began sinking behind the trees of our nearby neighborhood. The park quickly filled up as several other daycare parents had the same idea as I. Grace had fun with several of her classmates, running up and down, sliding again and again on one of the slides. Sarah helmet the bridge of her own ship, with me serving as her engineer while I kept an eye on Grace.

Once the sun disappeared, I called Lynda and set a family dinner rendezvous at Wendys. (We haven't gotten to eat together as a family much lately.) While eating, an older man walked by our table and gently tapped Grace on her head while heading to his seat. She smiled at him. I began thinking that almost everyone responds kindly to children her age.

It is undeniable that Grace is cute and when in a good mood has a magnetic smile that people really like, but there is something about her age (2 t o 3) that draws people. Sarah is just as cute as a five-year-old, but she is more "aware" of the world and people around her. I think she has grown more reserved as she has aged. Grace remains blissfully self-centered (as all good psychology students will tell you she should be) and therefore responds happily to everyone. Maybe that is why people love good-natured kids of that age. They reflect the way we wish the world to be.


Now I am sitting in the local library, blogging in public. It's a nice feeling to be out of the house on my own for a bit.

Lynda brought no work home with her this weekend and didn't need to go to the office today. So, out of a complex mixture of love, gratitude, and guilt, she allowed me to go off and do something on my own.

I chose to spend a few quiet hours at the library, reading a book (after blogging a bit). And, I rode my bike here, so good vibes surround me and I am contended and happy.

I hope your Saturday is/was as nice as mine is now.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

America's Next Top Project Runway Model?

Lynda and I had an interesting discussion this morning in the coffee room at work.

I had left the house early (since I was taking Sarah to her first Thursday art class today and will have to leave work early to get her there). So, she had to awaken and dress the kids herself.

I heard Lynda bring Grace into the bedroom while I was finishing up my shower. Grace doesn't usually get up that early, but at least she was up and in a pretty good mood. Lynda told me that Grace was actually very cooperative while getting her clothes put on.

Sarah, however, was not as cooperative in the getting out of bed, putting on her clothes department.

This is not entirely new with her. Ever since she's been old enough and coordinated enough to do so, we've been giving her the license to get up and dress herself. I figure it's only right since it takes away one thing that we don't have to do ourselves.

Of course, if we give her the freedom of choice, we sometimes have to live with that choice . . . and there lies the rub to this particular story. For, you see, Sarah has her own particular notion of what style is, especially when it comes to color choices, pattern mixture, and the like.

Which brings us back to the discussion that Lynda and I had in the coffee room this morning. She was telling me that Sarah was slow getting out of bed and getting dressed, and that once she did get herself moving, she decided to wear a particular outfit that Mom wasn't happy with.

The outfit--a green, flowery summer dress that my mom made for her--wasn't suitable for the temperature. When Lynda pointed this out to her, Sarah's solution to this was to put a striped purple and blue shirt on top of this.

Well, Lynda wasn't gonna let that outfit happen either. So, she made Sarah change into something more suitable for January. What did Sarah choose? See for yourself. Lynda wasn't entirely happy with this one either, but she let it go.


I generally have a more "live-and-let-live attitude about Sarah's dressing choices. She will soon enough be making her fashion decisions based on magazines, other girls, whatever, rather than what she envisions in her own mind about herself. I would rather empower her own self-image and confidence as long as possible (as long as her choices are temperature- and weather-appropriate).

But, of course, this is coming from the kid who refused to wear blue jeans until college, who used to wear sweatshirts tucked into his pants. (Please, don't ask! Rest assured that I will burn all pictures of this hideousness whenever I come across them. Maybe my parents know where these pictures are, but I don't . . . and frankly, I don't want to know where they are.)

I also once tried to wear grey sweatpants with a white dress shirt and a skinny tie. My mom and sister tried very hard to prevent me going outside in such an outfit.

In college I had a plaid flannel shirt that I dearly loved. (Hey! It was the high point of Nirvana-inspired grunge, okay?) Naturally, Lynda hated that shirt. Sometimes I tried to pair the shirt with a pair of flannel pajama shorts that were also plaid, but the shorts featured a different pattern with different colors (red, green, black I think). I threatened to wear them both around campus one day in some sort of "up-with-plaid" motivational outfit. Lynda would have definitely beat me senseless . . . and we weren't even married yet!

Today of course I am polished to a high-gloss sheen, but I admit to having a spotty past when it comes to fashion sense.

What's my point?

Well, as usual, I don't really have one.


If you didn't like that story, read this.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"Second Night's" abstract

(About two weeks ago I offered up some topics for you, the reader, to vote upon. Since Jack Thunder voted for it, I will provide a small piece of information about my Masters thesis, detailing the effect of interstate construction on one Georgia town. What follows is the brief abstract of my thesis, as it was completed in 1997.)

I first thought of this topic when I was helping conduct oral history interviews in my college town for the county's bicentennial celebration. One of the people I interviewed was the daughter of a family that once operated a local restaurant. In the course of talking to her I saw that her family had witnessed a steady stream of tourism through town during the 1950s and 1960s prior to the construction of Interstate 95. The construction of this interstate, which diverted traffic further east and away from the local state highway, altered the previous traffic flow. I began to wonder how this shift in traffic flow impacted this particular town and several other towns that existed along the same stretch of state highway.

Thus was the kernel of the idea that became "'The Second Night's Stop': Effects of U.S. Highway 301, Tourism, and Interstate 95 Upon Statesboro, Georgia, 1950-1975."


I admit that I am nervous about writing this here, sure as I am that it is written childishly or that the thoughts are obvious. But, this is the simplest and briefest overview of my research. Sometime, after some more work, I might post the full thesis separately for everyone to ignore.

Anyway, ignore if you like, read if you want, be kind or don't be.


The history of the automobile is a vital part of the history of the twentieth century United States. The automobile began to significantly reshape America following the second World War. The construction of the enormous National Interstate and Defense Highway System assured the dominance of personally-owned automobiles as the mode of transportation in the United States. Improved highways made far-flung suburban communities possible and the 41,000 miles of Interstate highway traversing our nation and entering the metropolitan areas assured crowded city streets and time-consuming traffic jams.

What, however, has the Interstate system done to the rural areas of our nation? This examination of Statesboro, Georgia gives some insight. The invasion of Interstate 95 down the eastern coastal area of Georgia radically altered the existing traffic and tourism patterns that had slowly developed since the 1920s and rose to its highest levels in the 1950s and 1960s. Statesboro--as its police shoulder badges attested--was known as the "Tourist City" and relied upon Northeasterners visiting Florida for a significant portion of its yearly income. The main travel artery that carried this traffic before the Interstate system was U.S. Highway 301, which ran through the heart of downtown Statesboro. The Interstate system could have a profound effect upon rural communities, depending upon where the highway was routed. In Statesboro's case, Interstate 95 was constructed fifty miles away, effectively cutting the community off from the traffic that would use the newer road. The loss of tourist traffic, due to I-95's construction was an additional hardship upon Statesboro.

Statesboro's tourism memory and the reaction to the Interstate are the heart of this work, as well as a look at where Statesboro is today and efforts to revitalize some tourist traffic on the old regional highway. Along the way, the changing world of highway travel will also be examined, paying special attention to the "homogenization" of the roadside experience, from chain restaurants, to impersonal motels, to the death of small towns.

Why Won't You Apologize?!

Just a quick note to say that since the weekend I have noticed my blog sidebar content fluxuating oddly.

It seems that my (brief) list of interesting Sites to Visit keeps appearing and disappearing. (Maybe they are off somewhere talking about interesting things while the loser websites mill around muttering to themselves and glancing over their shoulder at all the Cool Sites . . .)

I can't explain this odd change in reality. I hope it rectifies itself soon, as I can't seem to do anything that makes the problem go away.

Bear with me, please . . . and thank you for visiting.

Monday, January 16, 2006

My Golden Globes "live"blog

7: 39--Hey! It's going to be another edition of live blogging tonight. Up this time is tonight's telecast of the 2006 Golden Globes, that mish-mash of TV and cinema awards that serves as a warm up and indicator of the much more boring, predictable, and uptight Academy Awards.

I had not planned on doing anything with the GGs tonight. Frankly, I'd forgotten that they were being telecast, but I got an email plea while home today, and since I've got nothing else planned for the evening, no movie or book begging to be watched, and both kids in bed early . . . well, I don't really have an excuse outside of getting some sort of instant intestinal virus.

The telecast will be starting on NBC in about fifteen minutes . . . and I've already starting battling the typos. I've gotta get my battery fully charged and a good drink by my side. And then we'll see how an awards show stacks up against the second straight night of FOX's "24."

(DISCLAIMER: I call it live blogging in that I type it while watching. I don't plan on posting while I type. It would make my site look all messy tomorrow. So, it's "live" but you shouldn't be watching the show and checking me out at the same time. Tune in on Tuesday to see how I reacted to it as it happened. Call it instant history.)

8:00 pm--Here comes the red carpet; and we've had the first of what I am sure will be numerous Olympic commercials. Red carpet interviewers--Nancy O'Dell, Dean Cain (!), and someone else who's name I forgot. The hot name first interviewed is George Clooney--tonight's triple threat for director, actor, and producer. (Any mistakes that I make are not my fault as I am struggling to keep up and not make any typos either.

8:02 pm--Mariah Carey has tied Elvis for the most #1 singles?! Stop the world please! Something is seriously wrong . . . and I don't even like Elvis that much.

8:04 pm--Johnny Depp must be filming "Pirates of the Caribbean 2," because his voice on the red carpet sounded a bit like Captain Jack Sparrow. There was a bit of a strange lilt to it.

8:05 pm-- I'm gonna drop the "pm" soon. I'm already tired of it. And I wanted to make some point about someone or something, but the horrible song based on "Don'cha" made me loose my whole train of thought.

8:08--Got sidetracked by a phone call right as I was getting started, but George Clooney gets the first award of the night as Best Supporting Actor for "Syriana." And Paul Giamatti gets his first snub of the night, both in the voting and as mentioned by Clooney. And Clooney also also makes the first political attack of the night, against Jack Abramoff. Not very funny, but topical.

I still can't get used to Princess Amidala with short hair. But it looks like Adrien Brody took all of the hair she cut off and stuck it randomly on his head. And the award for Best Supporting Actress goes to Rachel Weisz for her role in "The Constant Gardener." So that's two movies that I haven't seen yet. Her speech sound like a warm up for the Oscars, and isn't' very exciting. Come on people, don't you know the GGs are the fun awards?!

8:17--second Olympics commercial. Did you know the 2002 team inspired America? Yep. But back to the awards and the first LOST nominees (Best Supporting Actor in TV Series or Miniseries) Naveen Andrews. He's up against heavyweights like Donald Sutherland and Paul Friggin' Newman. Of course Newman (an American institution, by God) wins and isn't there.

Whoa! Superman sighting! Brandon Routh and Teri Hatcher team up to award Best Supporting Actress in TV Series or Miniseries. Most of these shows and miniseries I haven't seen/don't watch, but Sandra Oh wins for "Grey's Anatomy." Another snub at Paul Giamatti? I'm gonna interpret it as such. And she must have been drinking too much of the fuc*ing merlot because she got lost on her way to the stage and had to weave through the chairs. And while she's the first funny moment of the night, she's also sad and ineffectual while giving her acceptance speech. It's just me I guess, but if I was a nominee who lost, I'd like to see the winner get up there and be smooth and clearheaded with their verbal smackdown of my work.

8:27--Drew Barrymore wearing an unfortunate dress. (As Lynda said "Get a bra!") But she is here to nominate the first Best Picture nominee "Good Night, and Good Luck," a movie that I should go see and wonder when I will.

Wait, did someone say that "Poseidon" was an upcoming movie? Really? Is it a remake? But some comely young lass that will be starring in it is here to introduce the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that sponsors the GGs. He must be the guy writing all the banter, because he delivers it with a dryness that is suitable for a martini.

And the winner for Best Actress (TV drama)? I'm betting Kyra Sedgewick for "The Closer." I'm wrong! Geena Davis for "Commander in Chief." I am surprised by that choice, honestly. I haven't watched that show either and I bet, based upon the distance she had to walk to get on stage, no one else expected her to win either. Clearly, Geena doesn't have a speech ready either, but she does make a plug that women ought to be president someday by making up some fictitious girl who wanted to be president talking to her outside the theater. You should be impeached for that tissue of lies! And lay off the fuc*ing merlot, Geena. And also prepare a better speech. You'll never get reelected if you ramble on like this at press conferences President Davis.

8:35--The winner for Best Actor (TV Drama). It's all about doctors--Patrick Dempsey on "Grey's Anatomy," Jack on LOST, Dr. House, the dude on "Prison Break," and Keifer Sutherland for "24." But the winner goes to Hugh Laurie for "House," the show everyone loves and I don't. Plus, LOST is getting completely ignored!!!!

(You can tell Hugh Laurie is British because he says "trouser pocket.")

8:43--Melanie Griffith has a tattoo on her shoulder but I can't read what it says. She is here to announce something called Miss Golden Globe? What is this? Oh, its a chance to announce that her DAUGHTER is the winner? But they are also here to announce also the first Comedy movie--"The Producers." Also, it seems that her daughter doesn't do anything but stand there while Melanie rambles on and on.

(You know . . . the entire auditorium seems awfully small. And the whole affair here seems to be a bit unprepared and slip shod. But maybe I just expect too much. And also, the announcer who is announcing the Best Miniseries is far too chipper for some of the subject matter. You can't talk about a terrorism movie like "Sleeper Cell" in the same jovial, happy-go-lucky tone that you use for something like "Empire Falls." And that's the winner by the way, in case you wanted to know. Did anyone watch it? It had a great cast--Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ed Harris, Helen Hunt, and Paul Newman,)

Best Actor in TV series or Comedy--Please let it be "Scrubs" Zach Braff!! Please! But it'll either go to Jason Lee or Steve Carrell. Yep, Steve Carrell is certifiably smoking hot these days. He might be able to walk on water right now. Let's hope that all the great treatment that NBC lavishes on "Scrubs" will assuage Braff's pain. (Oh, wait, they never help out that show.) But, give it to Carrell. His "speech written by his wife" was funny.

8:53--Commerical break. Whew, I get to give my fingers a rest. Hey . . . hasn't it been a while since we heard about the Olympics? Yes, it has. But I can tell you that Saab has the worst slogan around . . . Born From Jets. That sucks!

8:57--Tim Robbins is here to nominate "The Constant Gardener." But that probably won't give him any time to lambast the Bush Administration. And that's probably how the cowards at NBC wanted it.

Jamie Foxx is next up, ready to award Best Actress in Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy. (You know, I hate the GGs because the category titles are too long and hard for me to type.) I don't think there is any doubt that Reese Witherspoon will win here. And I was right, no doubt. Plus, she's sitting right beside the stage, so it was fully expected. She gave a nice, heartfelt speech to her husband, who is apparently an actor . . . but she never mentions him by name and so it's not clear (I know who he is by the way).

Chris Rock is here to nominate Best Actress in a TV Comedy and just about everyone is from "Desperate Housewives." And I think that Mary Louise Parker is not feeling sorry for herself as much as she is hating all of the ladies on "DH." But yeah! Mary Louise won for "Weeds." And all of us that have grown tired of "DH" (already!) is happy about this. And Mary Louise is clearly enjoying sticking it to the ladies of "DH" as well. So, you go Mary Louise Parker. She had to put up with condescending remarks masquerading as humor from Chris Rock, but she deserves it. It's like when Texas Western beat the University of Kentucky in the 1960s, you know? "Glory Road," right? You know that movie right?

9:06--Is it an Olympics commercial? Sort of. It's a commercial for Chevy, by way of the Olympics. But time for a drink break.

On yeah! The best commercial of the night was Zach Braff trying to talk to Steve Carrell in the bathroom while Donald Faison (Turk) steals the Golden Globe from underneath the bathroom stall with a walking stick. That's right, "Scrubs," Tuesday nights at 9 on NBC.

9:20--Back from a brief break in which I transferred some chinese food into more airtight containers to keep the smell at bay in the refrigerator. I missed two awards, but I don't think they matter too much. You can read about it on some other blog that is doing a better job than I am.

9:25--Crap. I was perusing the actual live blog posts over at ew.com and almost missed an Olympics commercial. Did you know it was coming to the Networks of NBC this February? Well, it is! And did you further know, that this is America's BEST TEAM EVER?! It totally is.

Now we're back and the nominee for "Match Point" is up. It looks good in the sense that it doesn't look at all like a Woody Allen film . . . and Scarlett Johansen is easy on the eyes also.

Now nominees for Screenplay Motion Picture. It should go to Clooney for "Good Night, Good Luck" but might go to "Munich" or "Brokeback Mountain." Harrison Ford awards it to "Brokeback Mt." which lost out in its other nomination of the night so far . . . Best Supporting Actress for that chick that used to be on "Dawson's Creek." (Michelle Williams, right, that's her.) We'll see if "Brokeback" picks up steam as the night goes on. And we've still got half a show to go . . . whew!

Oddest moment of the night so far . . . Larry McMurtry thanks his typewriter. The Golden Globes ARE unpredictable!

9:35--Best TV Series, Musical, or Comedy goes to "Desperate Housewives." I can't really say if this is deserved or not, since I started losing interest in it near the end of last year and have almost entirely taken a vacation from it this year. I would have liked "My Name is Earl " to win, but it was worth it just to see Teri Hatcher try to take over the mike and then see Felicity Huffman back there shooting daggers into Teri's back. The overall response in the room was mostly underwhelming and I think, awards or not, the bloom is off the rose for that show. But I'm not paid to be an expert.

9:39--It seems that Sarah Jessica Parker is doing nothing but romantic comedies these days. And I bet they all stink. But she is here with Matthew McConaughey ("Failure to Launch," coming soon!) to announce that "Paradise Now, Palestine" has won for best Foreign Language Film. I'll leave any reaction to that win to Jack Thunder, who could give a much more informed opinion on this and the other nominees than I could.

9:46--Aw, while they were introducing the nomination of "A History of Violence" I noticed that Pierce Brosnan has shaved his funky "Matador" goatee. That's too bad, because he looked quirky and fun in that beard. Also . . . did Viggo Mortensen just kiss a man in the audience? It was on the cheek, and not that there is anything wrong with that, but I just wondered.

John Williams just won for Best Soundtrack "Memoirs of a Geisha." Does this guy even write speeches any more? Obviously not, since his remarks lasted about ten seconds. I think he needs to build a separate wing to house all of his awards . . . just like Mariah Carey needs to build a separate wing to house her breasts that are threatening to burst out of her "dress."

Did you know that Alanis Morissette performed a song for "The Chronicles of Narnia?" Well, it doesn't matter because the song from "Brokeback Mt." won for Best Song, so suck it Alanis! You weren't right for a fantasy movie anyway--though the White Witch looks like she might understand a bit about "You 'Oughta Know."

9:52--As we go to commercial, and as the announcer tells us that Gwyneth Paltrow will be awarding the Lifetime Achievement Cecil B. DeMille award to Anthony Hopkins, we see Gwyneth sitting at her table talking to someone. The male someone reaches out and fingers the lacy ruffle of her dress shoulder. I imagine that she is discussing how her daughter Apple threw up on it before the telecast and luckily the waiters at the arena provided some club soda to clean it up. Hey, it coulda happened that way.

Since Anthony Hopkins is coming up and I don't want to hear him ramble about how insignificant his career has been, I'll take this opportunity to stretch my legs, go to the bathroom, and plug in the laptop to give the battery a quick charge for the home stretch.

Back in a bit. . .

10:13--Clint Eastwood awards the Best Director Motion Picture. It goes to "Brokeback Mountain's" Ang Lee. And while that might be totally deserved, it will never, EVER erase the horrible taste that "The Hulk" left in my mouth. Damn you for that Ang Lee. But, congratulations on the award for "Brokeback." He says that he has seen and loved so many of his competitor's films (which included "Match Point," "Munich," "King Kong," "The Constant Gardener," and "Good Night, and Good Luck"). So, while he stated that he "enjoyed" these films, I choose to believe that he isn't really including "King Kong" in this list.

10:17--John Travolta awards Best Actor Motion Picture, blah, blah, and blah. The award goes to Joaquin Phoenix for "Walk the Line." He should give part of his award to Jamie Foxx for last year's "Ray" win, but that is my own personal soapbox. I have heard nothing but nice things about the movie and Joaquin's performance. Ryan Philippe tries to upstage Joaquin's speech by indicating that J. owes him (Ryan) money for losing a bet. Or maybe he is indicating that his own film career is going nowhere fast and is asking Joaquin for a hand-out. THAT ought to embarrass Reese. But I guess it works for their marriage.

Joaquin strikes me right now as a kindler and gentler, more approachable version of Sean Penn. And for that, I salute him.

10:25--Tim McGraw appears, wearing his enormous black hat made (apparently) of leather. A quick shot of Chris Rock looking bemused and shocked, possibly composing a joke or two. But, no, he's only here to nominate "Walk the Line" as one of the Best Picture films.

Now Renee Zelwegger is here to award Best Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy. It would seem that "The Producers" should win since it fits nicely into each slot in that cumbersome category. But, the actual winner is "Walk the Line." I don't think that any film or show or anything has been a "big winner" tonight. While "Walk the Line" has been gathering steam through the night, I wonder if it will be seem as the behemoth heading into the Oscar race? I notice that traditional powerhouses like Steven Spielberg and "Munich" haven't gotten nary a sniff of the stage. Will it overcome its political storyline to achieve big later? Will the same hold true of "Good Night, and Good Luck?"

Commercials . . . breathe . . . almost done . . . flex fingers. (A very brief Olympic logo promo.)

10:34--The cast of "Will and Grace" make their last appearance together and they are here to award Best TV Series Drama. The challengers are "Commander in Chief," "Grey's Anatomy," "LOST," "Prison Break," and "Rome."

The winner was LOST! Hurray! I notice that many of the Tailies are also on stage tonight, though I think this award is as much for last year as for anything this year. So, why should they be involved? I wonder if Dom Monighan sat with Peter Jackson at all during the night? And Damon Lindelof did all the talking, but I don't think he gave any further hints on what's going on with The Numbers. But maybe if you add up his words, the syllables are 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42?

10:40--Leo Decaprio sighting! He's here to award the Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama to Felicity Huffman, who's performance is the closest thing to the unstoppable "Return of the King" item in this awards season. She's is sure to get an Oscar for her performance in "Transamerica." I wonder if she will thank the "DH" crew for giving her the exposure that might have helped her get the role? I don't know and maybe she shouldn't, but it surely will get dredged up in the gossip columns if she doesn't, right?

Oh well, she did fit them in at the end, after saluting her husband (noted character actor Bill Macy) and right before the music blew her off--the stage, I mean.

10:48--Hillary Swank is here to award the Best Actor Motion Picture Drama. The nominees are Russell Crowe ("Cinderella Man"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote"), Terence Howard ("Hustle and Flow"), Heath Ledger ("Brokeback Mt."), David Strauthern ("Good Night and Good Luck"). PSH wins for "Capote" as most indicators guessed that he would. I wonder if he'll have legs to make a similar splash at the Oscars?

Best Picture Drama award coming up after these commercials! Stay tuned.

. . .

Was the wait long enough for you?

10:55--Here comes Denzel Washington, ready to award to one of these nominees: "Brokeback Mt.," "Constant Gardener," "Good Night and Good Luck," and "Match Point." (I think I left one out . . .)

Anyway, "Brokeback Mountain" won. I really should go see a lot of these movies, none of which I have seen. And I've even got some theater gift certificates.

So, there you go everyone . . . this year's Golden Globes. Was it like being there?

(Not) Working @ Home

Read the morning's installment of this blog here.

Well, I haven't gotten any real work done today and I've decided that I am fine with that.

But, to this point, I've been managing my time with worthwhile pursuits.

After reading Lileks a bit more this morning, I decided to take a walk around the block, taking advantage of the sunny, if chilly weather.

It started out feeling a bit more than chilly, but I was confident that as my stride got going, I would heat up. Getting warm while exercising has never been a problem for me. As I can out of my garage I found that city workers were lopping off tree limbs that run along the street on the "public" side of the sidewalk. As I turned left and started walking, I was fiddling with my iPod to turn it on while weaving around the largish limbs strewn along the sidewalk. But once I turned the corner the limbs cleared out and my iPod started shuffling up songs.

My walking gait is not very smooth, but I got into a rhythm eventually. Once I got on one side of the block the wind was blocked and the sun was at my back. I started warming up and quit looking at my feet and tried to pay attention to the neighborhood around me. (Why I walk with my head down is probably explained with a whole lot of deep psychoanalysis, but I think it has something to do with my propensity to stumble over nothing. After you have fallen flat on your face in public enough, you start being more cautious.)

Sure enough, I did stumble twice, but then things evened out. About the time I got halfway to my next left turn, crossing in front of Lynda's coworker's house, I realized that I could have been riding my bike rather than walking like a sucker. Oh well. . .

Then I turned left and headed for the halfway point of my around the neighborhood stroll. About here I started trying to convince myself to make this a frequent habit, walking/riding more. But the only way to do that consistently during the week is early in the morning. Maybe it was the good weather, the sense of activity (endorphins rushing to my brain?), the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's version of "O Magnum Mysterium" in my ears, but the thought of getting up an hour earlier every (every other?) morning to walk in the predawn chill didn't sound quite so ludicrous. And my shower would feel more soothing and earned each and every time, by God!

We'll see what comes tomorrow.

My trip around the neighborhood was shaped sort of like a square that was topped by a tilde. The tilde part was a passage along a bike path that curved through a subdivision and around a small residential pond. As I walked around the pond I encountered a jogger ahead of me. Just then I also encountered a wet spot running across the path, which due to the January chill was slightly icy. My traction shifted a bit and I was glad not to be riding a bike then. While I pondered what I should do on a bike in that situation, the jogger simply shifted off onto the grass to get past it. (Duh!)

Once I got home I saw that my brisk walk had taken me about forty minutes, something that would be doable in the mornings--depending on the weather. I hope I can give it a try and see what happens.

After cooling off for a few minutes, I got in the car to pick up Lynda at work and take her to lunch. We had a nice time eating at a "sidewalk cafe" near the office. But it was busy and we felt obligated to get up as soon as our final crumbs were consumed to give way to another group fluttering around us. I swear to you that they didn't even let us get our coats on and pick up our trays before they were plopping their stuff down!

After dropping L. back at the office I swung into a bike store that fronts the road to work. I've been wanting to drop in since they opened, but never have. Today I wandered around, looking at various biking gear, child seats and trailers to carry Grace around. I talked to the CSRs, who were a friendly duo--helpful but not pushy. I took a catalog, got on the mailing list, purchased a book on bike trails, and made a mental promise to myself.

"Working" @ home

Today, I'm sitting here at home by myself.

It's MLK, Jr. day and we don't have to work; I say don't have to, because Lynda is working today, as are some of my other coworkers who have more to accomplish than I think I do.

The daycare is open today, so the girls are there. I am finishing up some coffee and trying to get my mind in that particular place that allows me to get some work done while at the house.

As I told Lynda last night, I simply can't work properly at home. Ever since I decided to abandon the rest of graduate school and get a "regular job," I've tried to keep as much separation between home and work as possible. Naturally, there are times and projects that have forced the two to blur (sometimes meld) but if I can get away with leaving it at the office, that is the way I'm always going to go.

Heck, They aren't paying overtime, right?

However, I did bring a smallish bit of work home with me for the three-day weekend and now I have got to try and convince myself that getting started on it is the best thing to do with the rest of my morning. The problem is, there are so many other things that are pleasingly diverting.

That is why I can't work at home--I don't have the mental/physical willpower to force myself to choose that unpalatable idea.

Right now, I can catalog several other things that would be much more fun to do. Such as:

1. Go to the library, buy another cup of coffee, sit down and browse through a book that I pick up off the shelf. (I never enjoy the library as much as I should. When I'm there with the kids, its more of an operation--keeping them behaved, picking through the mountains of children's books that I don't remember, wondering if this one or that one will be interesting.)

2. Read some more of the Lileks archives. Yep, I've decided to tackle Mr. Lileks from the beginning (which is to say, beginning in February 1997). Given that he writes something every weekday, I've got some speed reading to do or I might never catch up and he'll always be doppler-shifting away from me in the distance. But, he is an undeniably good writer, tells interesting stories, and can probably help me figure out how to best tackle the art of blogging. (Or maybe I'll just copy/plagiarize him.)
He certainly has led an interesting and varied life, one that I hope will become clearer as I sift through the years to see how he arrived at his current state of media giant. It seems that even in 1997, he was well-connected.
But, back to other interesting things to do . . .

3. I could watch some of the LOST DVD, maybe catch a commentary or two.

4. I could think about where I'll take Lynda for lunch today.

5. Naturally, there is always laundry to fold and folded laundry to put away. I could change the sheets on the beds, or I could begin my threat of throwing away nick-nacks and other detrius.

As you can see, even housework is more appealing than work. I DEFINITELY need the structure of the office to make me focus. I'll be back to that cubicle soon enough. Anything I get done between now and then will be seen as a bonus.

Maybe I'll reward myself for this determination by watching some LOST! :)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Gettin' Smacked

About a week ago Flipper told me that she had a dare for me.

Now, as you know, I'm a thrill seeker by nature, so it didn't even take details before I was ready to taker her up on whatever she had in mind.

She told me about a website that she had found . . . I Talk 2 Much, a site run by several women who's goal in life is to be as critical as possible about other people's websites. I am including a link to the site above, but I'll warn you that they often use crude, blunt language.

So, Flipper wanted me to submit my site for their review . . . which I immediately did. It took them a while to get to me, but sometime this past weekend, one of the reviewers posted their thoughts.

Generally, she was kind . . . if not at all thrilled by WWYG?!

Her money quote was: "He talks about TV a lot and kinda just sorta rambles along. He’s not totally tedious to read but it lacks something..somethingg I can’t quite define." (You can read the rest of her short review by clicking on the website title link, then scrolling down and reading the third review on Sunday. "Bitter" really does seem to be going through the motions on a slow Sunday--not that I'm complaining, really!)

So, clearly, I'm not completely wasting my time here, but I've got work to do.

In some endeavors, having that certain undefinable quality can be a good thing . . . a bit of mystery, right?

Well, I don't think that will work for me.

I've got to sharpen up my game. I've got to find better ways to make my voice stronger and my writing cleaner.

I admit that I have felt pretty detached from my writing these days, sort of like I've lost my desire to post lately. I've gone through these doldrums before, so I am sure that I'll get back into it soon.

So, thanks for the outside criticism. I'll see if I can live up to the (further) challenge.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

WWY_____? update

Jack T. was the only voter in this quickly conceived (and just as quickly abandoned) project.

I just wanted to let you know why you couldn't find the pictures if you read this post and then wondered "Wha Happened?"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Do they call the Pope's staff a "Jesus stick" behind his back?

I was going to talk about LOST, but I just don't have a lot to say.
I liked the episode; I liked that they introduced the Monster Cloud again (Boy, DID they!).
But the coincidences are piling up higher and higher on this island. If the writers don't have a carefully thought out way out of this, people will NEVER be happy.
Ultimately, that is the only end result of this show. You won't satisfy people with an attempt at explanation.
So, they are doomed. But, its a fun show anyway.
Other than that, I've got nothing else to say about it I guess.

PiMPing the TV

While waiting for coffee to brew the other day, one of my managers said to me "So, how's the TV watching coming?"

Caught a bit off guard by that, I asked him for some clarification. It probably sounded something like "Wha . . huh?"

He said, "Well, I hear that's all you do; watch TV."

Folks, this is the guy that does my PERFORMANCE REVIEWS every year and now he's got me pegged as a no-account TV watchin' boob. Not good times.

(Also . . . apropos of nothing but my instant desire to justify myself . . . he admitted that when he was sick recently, he realized that he couldn't get HBO On-Demand for his bedroom TV and quickly called the cable guy to install it while he was laid up in bed for several days.)

But, back to my problem.

Do I watch too much TV? I'm guessing every one of you reading this will say, "Well, hell yeah!"

So, let's break it down:

Monday--The only thing worth watching on Monday's was "Arrested Development" and its not long for this world. While I have been known to sit down and watch some of Monday Night Football, I don't care enough to make this a important thing. I used to watch "American Chopper" on this night, but that seems to have been a phase that has run its course.

Tuesday--Currently, the only thing going on here is "Scrubs" which might be on Thursday next month or gone completely. Most Tuesdays I am driving to and from our bible study group. I hear that "Bones" is good, but haven't made an effort.

Wednesday--Naturally, "LOST" is big on this night. Similarly, when "Alias" isn't on hiatus, I watch it on Wednesdays. So, here is the first truly multiple show night.

Thursday--I used to religiously watch "CSI" on this night, but for whatever reason, I've let that slip this year. I still like the show but haven't been going out of my way to watch it. In my viewing area, this is the night that "Smallville"is on, which is what I focus on.

Friday--Here is "Battlestar Galactica" night. But, its one of those shows that has four months of episodes and then goes on a hiatus for six months.

Saturday--nothing permanent

Sunday--Getting kids to bed has (seemingly) permanently damaged my ability to watch "The Simpsons." I have slowly given up my interest in "Desperate Housewives." So, there isn't much here that I consistently catch.

So, what do we see here? I have a steady cycle of shows that I try my best to keep up with, about one per night. That doesn't seem abnormal or excessive.

The point, however, is that I KNOW a heckuva lot ABOUT TV. I read about it on the web and in magazines. I certainly don't watch it all, nor have I ever. I do TALK about it a lot, because it is a point of commonality among many kinds of people--much as sports serves a similar function.

But, do I turn the TV off when these shows aren't on? Well, no, I admit I don't. I surf around a lot (and I occasionally stay up to watch "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report"). But more often than not . . . if I am not watching a designated series mentioned above, I settle on the Food Network.

I find it both entertaining AND educational. I have learned some valuable cooking tips from those shows that has made me a more confident cook and my wife at least appreciates that.

Basically, I think the perception of my TV obsession is slightly overblown (with my admitted participation in that at times). I don't think I'm that bad, honestly. I am generally aware of the TV choices and I think I am fairly judicious in my choices.

And if you don't like it, well . . . at least YOU are completing my performance reviews.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

[ ]

I REALLY don't know what (if anything) this post will turn into.

I might just stop halfway through and delete it all . . . but I feel I've got to make some sort of effort on understanding what's going on in my head today.

Shirtless told me today that I have been in a depressed mood lately, and upon reflection, I guess he's right.

But what is the reason for this? I am sure there are many, most of which I have forgotten over the course of this day of reflecting on it and trying to guess what I was going to say.

One constant source of frustration is Lynda's work. For the longest time, we have been looking at next Tuesday as the drop-dead deadline for her work projects. Things has to be completed by that day or nothing else afterwards would matter. Well, the good news is that it looks like her projects will meet that date on time.

Of course, not too much will change as a result of it. She'll still be working hard, but maybe not until 2 am. She'll still have a lot on her mind, but maybe her work won't be all-consuming. Maybe she'll be able to come home from work at a more reasonable time and maybe we can even out the child care stuff a bit more evenly, but it probably won't start next week.

I don't know what to say about my job right now. I do know that I'm not terribly satisfied with it. I suspect that some of that has to do with the abnormal schedule I have experienced lately. The Christmas holidays and New Years threw off the routine and I got accustomed to having short work weeks, getting off early on a Friday . . . that party/festive atmosphere.

Now, its just grey days and deadlines around the office.

Not good times.

Let's see, what else?

Aww, screw it. I'm not in the mood tonight.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Everyone's favorite "sea cow"

Is it just me . . . or did this Entertainment Weekly Popwatch article compare Jake Gyllenhaal to a manatee?

It's all about "cute characteristics" that we respond to. Both the Gyllenhaal and the slow, thick manatee have forward-facing eyes.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Random Bits from the Mainstream Media

Leafing through Newsweek yesterday evening I saw a few items that I was interested in expounding upon.

But, I wasn't interested enough to do it last night.

Now the kids are home, I've got lasagna cooking in the oven, and I've go a bit of time on my hands. I'll start now and probably finish up later tonight once the kids are in the beds.

Item #1: It seems that Newsweek has abandoned it list of weekly "blogs of note" or whatever they were calling it. I am sad, but not too sad--not too sad because Why Won't You Grow?! was never noticed . . . sad because it will NEVER be recognized by Newsweek if the feature doesn't return.

Random Thought A: I checked my website traffic last night and noticed something nice. The average page visits per month rose from 300 to 500 in starting in June and held steady through the second half of the year. Even leaving out the Mormon-inspired spike to 900 during that one glorious month, it is clear that more people are checking me out more often. What will 2006 bring?

Item #2: Newsweek clued me into the very funny video "Lazy Sunday" (also known as "The Chronic of Narnia"). Since I don't watch Saturday Night Live ever, I didn't see this video when it first aired during December . . . and since this video has quickly become the latest internet phenomenon . . . I thought I would pass it along. You can see the video linked from this post. You can also read about the growing importance of the Internet as a pusher of ideas via this Newsweek story. If you somehow find a way to catch people's attention, the Internet can open up the world to a lot of people. (And I don't seriously think this ever applies to me . . . but it might apply to some people.)

Item #3: In easily the saddest news item in this week's issue . . . riding a scooter has become "the new walking" according to this article.

I mean, come ON!! One of the scooters mentioned in the article (a husband and wife team) indicate that between the two of them, they own seven of these motorized monstrosities, "one for each floor of their home, some for outdoors, some for travel. After several operations, Ed needs them. Yvonne is mobile, but prefers to ride next to Ed in their prize model--a double-wide--when they go to car shows." (They'd better watch it before they become double-wides.)

People in this country are already fat enough, okay?

(At least Segways make you stand up.)

Item #4: Can you believe that NBC is actually making a successful move at reviving Must See TV? It's true! They are developing a serious comedy block on Thursday nights . . . anchored by My Name is Earl (that everyone swears to me is good) and The Office (which seems to have finally found itself outside the shadow of the British version). Add to that the addition of new sitcom "Four Kings" (which I know nothing about . . . but does include the always awesome Seth Green).

Now, if only NBC would put Scrubs in the Thursday night mix! (Yes, Scrubs did finally return last night, after about twelve months of hiatus. And, yes, it was very good and very funny.) Speaking of hiatus . . . Alias is disappearing into a hiatus until March. This can/should/will be blamed on Tom Cruise.


Well, he chose Alias/LOST creator J. J. Abrams to write/direct Mission Impossible: 3. So, blame Tom for killing the last season of Alias and you can also blame him for weakening LOST this season (if you happen to think that LOST is not as good in its second season).

Random Thought B: Have you hear about The Book of Daniel? It's a show debuting this Friday night on NBC that focuses on an Episcopal priest who stuggles to right the ship of his family life, his congregation, and himself. He does this by sometimes talking to Biblical figures as he goes about his business(and they are portrayed by actors). So, imagine a combination of 7th Heaven and Herman's Head.

But, that (good or goofy) isn't why I bring it up. The show has drawn fire from some conservative Christian groups for being anti-Christian. Since I haven't seen the show I can't say if they're right (but I'm gonna guess they are over-reacting). However, Newsweek quotes actor Aiden Quinn (who portrays the priest) when he describes the show:

"I'm an Episcopalian priest who struggles with a little self-medication problem, and I have a 23-year-old son who's gay, and a 16-year-old daughter who's caught dealing pot . . . and a wife who's very loving but also like her martinis. I can't tell you how many people have said to me, 'Hey that sounds like my family.'"

Let those without sin cast the first stone . . .

Monday, January 02, 2006

First Day

There is an old wives tale that says: "Whatsoever you do on the first day of the year, methinks you shall do evermore throughout that selfsame year."

So, in that selfsame spirit, I kept rough track of the things I did yesterday, to judge how accurate, over the next twelve months, those old wives actually were.

But just to spice things up a slight bit (after all, its only a list), I thought I would give my own educated guess as to how likely I think yesterday's outcome will be as a predictor for my upcoming year.

Ok? Here we go:

January 1, 2006

12 am-1: Thus enters the new year while I watch Splash on TV with my wife and drink a small bottle of champagne. There is probably a 0.5 % chance that this will all happen again at the same time, just because when you get the chance to watch Splash, you'd better honor it with champagne.

7:45 am Awakened by Grace. Lynda continues to sleep. Sarah soon gets up and the three of us watch some kids shows on TV while our bodies wake up. There is a 85% chance this will happen again in the future; heck, it happens just about every weekend. But sometimes, Lynda gets up first.

8:45 am Get some breakfast on the table for the girls--scrambled eggs, toast, cheese grits. (I waited too long to do this, as we have to get to church soon, so I am in a bit of a frazzled mood now.) Plus, Lynda isn't awake yet either. 20% chance of this happening again. I cook breakfast frequently on the weekend, but not usually under these circumstances. And Lynda hardly EVER sleeps this late.

9:20-10:10 am Now I am really worried. Lynda is out of bed and has had her shower. But I haven't yet, the kids are finishing eating, no clothes, hair drying, we're NEVER going to make it to church on time. We actually leave the house at 10:10; church starts at 10:15; it will take fifteen minutes to get there. Likelihood of being late to church? Hmmm. Higher than I want to admit, but I'll leave it at that to avoid domestic problems.

10:30 am-12 pm A low-key church day, not much attendance. We hang out for a while afterwards talking to people and generally taking it slowly. Likelihood of Sunday church attendance, 99%--barring sickness of some sort.

12:30-1:20 pm Get back home, pay some bills. 100% chance that I'll have to pay bills.

1:30-2:15 pm Lunch. ALSO a 100% chance I'll be eating lunch. First, it's delicious and second, it's the best part of the workday.

2:30-4 pm The kids go to their rooms for a hour (if we're lucky) of Quiet Time--an innovation we learned from another teacher when we learned we wouldn't be able to convince the girls to take naps in the weekend afternoons. They have to spend it in their rooms, playing quietly by themselves. If it turns into naps (which it frequently does, so much the better. During this Lynda does a bit of work and I watch some football and then decide to nap myself. (I didn't go to bed the night before until 1 am, okay?) 50% chance of this happening on most weekends because you can't predict what Grace will do. Sometimes she simply refuses to play along.

4:30-8:30 pm Here is where the wheels come off an otherwise ordinary day. (If you are named Jack Thunder, you might want to avert your eyes.)

Sarah received from her kindergarten teacher a Christmas coupon for a $5 game card and a free kids meal at Gameworks--a jazzed up arcade place. We decided to go there for a while yesterday afternoon. It is at Easton, an uber-hip, posh, shopping "destination" east of the city and south of where we live. The best thing to be said about Easton is that is houses an Apple Store and has a big theater.

Gameworks doesn't take quarters. You have to purchase a card and then load it with points. A dollar equals 10 points and five dollars equals 70 points, and upward in some sort of exponential curve encouraging you to spend hundreds of dollars. The games are played by swiping your card's magnetic strip on a reader. Points are deducted off your card. Each game costs a variety of points, calculated to confuse you and make you never know how much you are spending or how many points you have left on the card. I kept it at five dollars, reloaded $1 once to do one last game and get the hell out of there. Plus Sarah had her five dollar card.

The games themselves were completely wrong for a five-year-old. The arcade-style games are too complicated for someone her size and coordination. The ticket-collecting games seem to serve one purpose (according to Lynda) to teach the kids to gamble. The only arcade game that Sarah even remotely liked was a horse-race game where you sit on a horse and bounce up and down to make it gallop against other computerized horses.

Anyway, we finished up the "experience" by using the rest of our card points on the ticket games. We amassed quantity of 23 tickets that we were going to cash in on crappy prizes. We waited at the prize counter behind a gaggle of kids trying to figure out what combinations of prizes added up to 100 plus tickets. Once it was Sarah and Grace's turn we discovered that we needed to go to another side of the counter to get the tickets weighed and credited to our card before we could redeem anything (WTF???). So, I waited, weighted, deposited and got back in line at the prize counter. NOW, there was a family of slack-jawed yokels asking for the expensive prizes that are kept in the back room under lock-and-key. This turns into ten minutes of waiting while the yokels cash in their butter-and-egg money to get the prizes nobody could get for Christmas. Finally, I cash in on the two crappiest prizes in the whole place--such was the ticket-gathering skills of my cerebral children--a hand tattoo for Grace and a plastic sheriff's badge for Sarah.

As soon as I got the badge, I knew problems were coming. This thing was so cheap that it was getting ready to break. As I struggled to put it on Sarah's shirt, I handled it gingerly. The very rigid plastic clip fused to the back of the flimsy star gave no hint that it would accommodate the thick collar of Sarah's shirt. Just as I was convincing myself that it would be best to reconsider and try to attack it to her thinner pants waist (or pocket), I heard the predetermined CRACK!

Sure enough the piece of shit had broken in half--after a fifteen minute wait in lines and exactly 45 seconds of ownership. Sarah began tearing up and crying; I earned father-of-the-year awards for not screaming at the top of my lungs while choking half the employees of Gameworks. Lynda got us out of this sixth circle of hell and we decided to go to Claires for a cheap bit of costume jewelry that would make Sarah cheer up. Naturally, being New Year's Day, the Claires of Easton was closing. It was already after 6--how many hours of torture had we spend in that place?

Okay . . . plan C. We get in the car and drive to an area Target. No costume jewelry there but we find a very cheap toy that Sarah can be happy with. Now . . . time to eat!

We also received a T.G.I.FRIDAY'S gift card for Christmas and asked at the Target for the closest one, on Cleveland Avenue. It's nice and dark and based on our luck to this point, I was sure it would be closed. But, it wasn't! We got in and turned the evening around with a long, relaxing, stress-free dinner complete with drinks for mom and dad and dessert for everyone! The girls were very well behaved, played well, kept themselves occupied and Lynda and I got to talk, laugh, relax. Wonderful! Chances of going to Gameworks again? Is there a percentage that equals "When Hell freezes over?"

Afterwards . . . Got the kids to bed by 9:15 and the rest of the evening went uneventfully. Lynda did a little work, I watched a few funny episodes of Mythbusters. Got to bed by 1ish.