Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sarah's Christmas Eve poem

It was the night before Christmas,
And all I could think of
was Santa and his reindeer,
flying above.

While I was sleeping,
I thought for a while
What Santa was giving
To each little child.

So I snuck out of bed,
And I went down the stairs
Santa smiled at me,
He didn't care.

But then in a flash he was gone,
And I awoke out of bed.
I ran to the window
And saw a tiny sled

With my family I went,
To the Christmas Tree
There were lots of presents,
I spotted one for me.



Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope, wherever you happen to be, you are enjoying some blessings, some family, some good food, and a bit of relaxation.

Stay safe and we'll talk again soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sarah's newest blog

She takes after her old man more and more all the time.

She decided today to add a blog--but she differs from me in the decision to delete the old one.

So, keep an eye out for entries from "My Girl's Sleepover" on the right side listing of blogs.

(And, p.s.--would you please take the time every now and then to comment on a post that she has written or answer her questions? She is occasionally discouraged--as am I--that more people don't read her blog.)

Thanks and I hope your day before Christmas Eve is wrapping up nicely.

I'm now going to drink some tea, read a bit more, then fall asleep and hope that I don't wake up with a full blown cold.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Christmas Sickness

Hannah has been getting worse rather than better since last I wrote.

She still spikes a fever about every four hours or so, unless we knock it down with Motrin or Tylenol. She is also very lethargic and not at all her energetic, talkative self.

Lynda took her to see my sister's pediatrician this afternoon and Hannah was given a shot to help control the fever (which had risen to 102+ degrees at one point).

We are taking her back again tomorrow morning to determine if she has RSV, a common childhood viral infection that I've never heard of. It seems more and more certain that the antibiotics have not knocked out the ear infections she's been fighting since last weekend. (Ear tubes are surely in our near future in the beginning of 2009.)

So, that's a sure-fire bummer . . . but anyone who has tracked our holiday travels over the years at WWYG?! knows that this sort of thing happens with frightening regularity. We'll muddle through and hope we can find a treatment that allows Lynda and I to interact with the rest of the family without having a cranky, sweaty, feverish baby attached to our hip most of the day. And, of course, we want Hannah to feel better and be the charmer she is for the people that just never get to see her.

I have plans to write more about common travelling perils and other random stuff, but it'll have to wait. I shouldn't be spending too much time here on the screen when Lynda's tending to the baby. But . . . in my defense, I DID get up with her at 5 a.m. this morning, so maybe I'm due? Who knows? But I've probably already used up that grace period.

So, possibly more interesting, cheerful topics to come in later days this week. In my head, it sounds funny. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

When I say TRAVEL . . .

. . . you say SICKNESS!



That's right. Last night Sarah couldn't sleep because of a painful stomach.

Twenty minutes later she threw up.

By the time Lynda woke up from her doze of putting Hannah to bed, she found Sarah and I dozing on the couch. Sarah got to bed and so did I.

But when I woke up this morning, I immediately heard that Hannah had exhibited a slight fever during the early morning hours and that Grace had also thrown up sometime this morning.

(sigh . . . and okay, another sigh)

So, who knows that today, tomorrow brings?

Everyone seems fine now and maybe it was some sort of psychological, spiritual reaction to all of yesterday's travel.

We'll see.

I guess we've just got to live in hope.

Regardless, we're hitting the road again this afternoon, after church. But you can bet I'll say some extra prayers for healing this morning.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Go South Young Man

Well, the "young" part is probably debatable at this stage of my life . . .

I type this from the cozy, dry environs of Cherry Log, Georgia, home of Lynda's parents. We successfully completed the 600 or so mile journey from the Midwest into the Deep South today.

The journey was very smooth considering it was conducted in a medium sized van filled with suitcases, a bag of road snacks, two preadolescent, one toddler, and one adult female. (And also me.) We didn't have to pull over the side of the road at any point and strangle each other. So, all well and good.

I toyed in my mind (while driving) that I should have taken some video from the drivers seat or tried to conduct interviews with my fellow travelers as we went. But that would have been hazardous to do while I was driving and probably would have resulted in video tedium the likes of which you might never recover from. Certainly the view outside the windows would not have impressed. It gray from sunup to sundown as we traveled southward. And once we hit southern Tennessee it rained and rained and rained and rained some more.

We had originally planned to leave after work last night, but the promise of perilous weather from our crack Storm Team 4 on Thursday night was "just" convincing enough to make us wait another half day. Naturally, Friday was rainy but otherwise nothing at all to get worked up about. And once again, I question the millions of dollars that our local news channels spend on Street-Level Doppler Radar and the Hi-Speed Weather Helicopters, not to mention . . . well, I've complained about all of that before.

Tomorrow will be church with the family, lunch, and then back on the road for the last leg of this part of the journey--Tifton, Georgia, home of the world-famous (??) Agrirama.

Until later, hope your final preparations for Christmas are going well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This morning's dream

Another post about a dream . . .

In this dream I was in jail. But it wasn't a glamorous, rock pile Shawshank type of edifice. Rather, it was a much more low-rent "jail."

Really, I never experienced the cells and bars, key and lock, two floors with metal catwalks and a big open yard to recreate in kind of jail setting. Instead, it was simply the baseline knowledge that this place that I was in WAS a jail. It didn't look like a jail. It didn't operate like a jail. I was never physically locked into anything at all. I never saw guards, wore a striped uniform. I didn't break rocks or haul around a ball and chain.

I just KNEW, deep inside, for no reason, that this was incarceration. Such is the bizarre logic of dreams.

So . . . what was it like?

It was more like a prefabricated building. A modular building that is crane-lifted into place and held together with staples, caulk, and hidden clamps that pull the seams of the double-wide together into a big lobby that is carpeted over and called the latest branch of your local South Georgia regional bank. It really felt more like the kinds of trailer-type buildings that I took classes in in college when the campus was expanding rapidly and all the construction money was going to the nursing school or the business school and the humanities were left out in the cold.

So, the actual environment of the jail was more like a big 20 x 20 room in this modular construction. The other inmates were milling around in this room that seemed to be a game room of sorts. There were tables and other people, but it all was very vague. What was immediately around me was sharp and worthy of remembering, but everything else was just an impression of a space and people.

I know that the committee of people that ran the jail operated out of a conference room that was adjacent to the community game room. I could see inside it through two glass French doors that I never did open. But through the glass I could see big photo-realistic paintings and semi-abstract art hanging on the walls surrounding a ovalish conference table where the jailers sat and discussed whatever it was they did. The most interesting thing about this room/the paintings/and the entire situation really was that I KNEW that I was related to the people running the jail.

I knew this because some of the paintings on the walls featured my brother Muleskinner back when he was in the high school marching band. I could recognize his image through the French doors. I knew that people in the conference room knew me. I had a feeling that I belonged in there and NOT in jail with the other inmates. I also thought that I could use this personal connection to the jailing committee to curry favor--snitching on inmates, feeding the jailers choice bits of gossip, whatever, to improve my own lot while incarcerated. And maybe if I played my cards right, I could be sprung early on "good behavior."

But I was playing a dangerous game.

I couldn't let the other inmates know that I was squealing on them. I couldn't let the inmates know that I had some sort of familial (if that IS what it was?) connection to the people that ruled their lives. I had to play it cool.

I was sorting out all of these potentials and dangers when I woke up.

Too bad, really. It might have led to some very interesting insights.

Friday, December 12, 2008

You'd better watch out

. . . you'd better not cry.

You'd better not pout.

I'm telling you why . . .


Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Christmas Blunder

Christmas is a bit of an issue here at the Ohio Martin's household.

You see, Christmas is coming extra early this year.

We've decided to begin our holiday travels on the 19th, and we want to give the kids time to enjoy their Christmas gifts before we leave them behind for almost ten days.

So, we've decided to ask Santa to come this Saturday. (!!!) He was gracious enough to look at his calendar, consult with his elf foreman, and rearrange one of his rare December days off to make my kids happy. (Truly Santa understands the spirit of the season!)

But . . . I really caused a problem earlier tonight.

You see, I unthinkingly ate Santa's cookies.

Lynda had made some of her signature Christmas cookies last weekend. (Check out this video to see the making of the batch two years ago.) We had a few left after giving some of them to the daycare teachers and . . . well . . . I ate them.

Cookies are my green kryptonite, you see. They are my severe food weakness. I guess brownies would be my red kryptonite--exposure to which weakens my inhibition about trying to eat too much.

So, I convinced everyone to put down the pitchforks and let me bake a batch of brownies so that we would have something sweet to thank Santa for coming to our house so early. To make it appropriately Christmasy, I placed a candy cane on top of the brownie batter. It'll be baked in crunchy goodness.

So, crisis averted.

But next time, just put the cookies in a lead-lined box.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What am I missing?

I listen daily to Planet Money.

According to Tuesday's podcast this recession is remarkable because consumer spending is disappearing rather than corporations restructuring their bad spending (which is apparently the typical recessionary cause).

But I don't feel that my family has radically changed our spending habits despite the daily dire news.

So, what am I missing?

Lynda and I are very lucky to have two good jobs that appear solid and not in danger--either because our industry is more secure (not likely?) or because we are "too valuable" (a foolhardy assumption EVER). But I'm foolishly putting it out there--really a reflection of my laziness to consider the possibility of job searching nightmares.

So really we aren't so much lucky as I am shortsighted and foolish . . .

ANYWAY . . .

I keep hearing that everyone has stopped spending, but we are still spending money daily on groceries, buying lunch at the work cafeteria rather than brown-bagging, we've bought Christmas presents (maybe a few less, but not SEVERELY so). In short, it doesn't FEEL that different for me.

So, again, what am I missing?

One person on the podcast mentioned that he was also buying big ticket items for Christmas, but rather than heading to Best Buy to get new, he was purchasing used big screen TVs and game consoles off of Craig's List.

So, is this what's really going on ? Are the economically profligate getting smacked in the head with their speculative ways while the more economically cautious troll along behind them, sucking up their cast offs over the Internet?

Is the recession a reboot of consumer irrational exuberance AND an Internet-based/consumer 2.0 attack on brick-and-mortar, person-to-person consumerism?

Or am I simply missing what's really going on?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Video Tuesday: The Gateway Toy

Tonight a cautionary tale about the perils of the gateway toy!

You may think everything is fine and dandy in this typical suburban home on this typical December evening.

Supper is finished; dishes are washed; children are playing cheerfully. But a baleful presence lurks!

NOTE: To appease Lynda, who refuses to see the humor here, let me state that this video does, in no way, aim to cast any aspersions upon the general cleanliness of the house. I fully recognize that our home is very neat, tidy, organized, and put together--extremely so when you consider that we have three children. I am simply pointing out the concept of toy creep--how one toy leads to another, leads to another, leads to . . . well, whatever.

Yet, in fairness to ME, I must point out that the video was taken AFTER I had picked up a bit. To say that the toys don't get cluttered is to be willfully in avoidance. I will also say that keeping the toys in their corners IS a daily task, as I said. We could--like many parents--simply give up and let the chaos reign, winding out footsteps through a Sargasso sea of stuff.

I chose NOT to accept that lifestyle.

And so, the Gateway Toy is, in my view, presents a valid--and intentionally humorous--point.

My plea is now over.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Updates on LOST

The premiere of Season 5 of LOST is slowly approaching.

You can get a glimpse of a new promotional poster for season five, PLUS a two-minute preview of the season premiere episode "Because you Left" via

You can also catch up on previous episodes via a limited time offer on the seasons one through three CD boxed sets via this link. (h/t again to

But if you don't want to spend that kind of money right now, then you can catch up on some of the most important moments in LOST history via the five videos I have linked to over on WWYG?! Omnimedia.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Of Lights, Dates, and Pumpkin Cakes

My back hurts.

I don't really know what I did to tweak it, or pinch the nerve, or whatever has led to the pain. I just know that if I twist the wrong way or bend a bit too far, the dull ache in my right mid-back flares into something more difficult.

Perhaps I just tried to get too many things done today.

It started out well, pretty much.

Going into the weekend, I had some things I wanted to accomplish--get the Christmas lights put up outside the house and also get my Gluttonfest baking done.

What's Gluttonfest, you ask?

Well, Gluttonfest is a December tradition at my office department. It used to be a month-long sybaritic celebration of holiday food. Every day someone would bring in brownies, a cake, some doughnuts, popcorn, fudge, cheese, olives, fruit, you name it. (Heck, one year, my man B. cooked waffles to order on a electric skillet.)

The idea was, I think, kicked off by one of the department managers before I showed up. But after he left, I took over the unofficial oversight of the Gluttonfest insanity. A few years back, I cut the length of the affair down to two weeks in December to appease the growing number of people who were slowly revolting against the excessive food and extra poundage that every December signalled. 

And but so, tomorrow is  the first day of Gluttonfest 2008. I am bringing some date bars (recipe courtesy of Grace's godmother--she of the excellent white chocolate cheesecake) and a new cake creation that is some sort of fusion of pumpkin pie and a yellow cake. I've never tried it before (and, truth be told, Lynda put that particular recipe together this morning . . . so I still haven't created it) so, when it gets tasted tomorrow, I hope it is well received.

I usually end up going first on Day 1, since I'm the organizer--I keep the sign-up sheet at my desk and I'll send out the email announcement tomorrow morning. I feel I should go first to keep the pressure off of anyone else. Though I worry that I'll completely shatter my on-again/off-again "diet" during the next two weeks, Gluttonfest is an important morale booster around the office (I think, anyway) so I don't want it to fade away.

The other task I accomplished today was (with Lynda's help) getting lights strung up out front. We hung some icicle lights on the porch eaves and draped a few more icicles lights around one of the bushes out front. But it wasn't enough! I went out later in the evening and found a nice outdoor lighting thing of a polar bear and a wrapped Christmas gift. It wasn't hard to put together and I think it adds a nice whimsical touch to the outside of the house--plus a bit of extra color. I'm not about to start over-accessorizing and turn the house into some kind of Clark Griswoldian nightmare . . . but it is nice to have a cheery looking home when the snow on the ground makes everything seem dark and cold.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Chock full o' video

Tonight's post is some text, but really, the text only exists to deliver the video.


Well, perhaps today I am textually bankrupt. (Does that even mean anything?)

Or perhaps I am thinking about concepts--always THINKING about concepts and never fully making concepts become viable, regular reality.

But, the REAL reason is that I am trying out a new camera with a stouter memory card that allow for more lengthy videos. And with lengthier videos comes the idea of video podcasting now and again. I won't go so far as to prematurely announce Video Thursdays or anything, but the thought did cross my mind. It would be something new--and I'm always thinking (but not doing) something new.

So, here is a video. It's lengthy and you can probably skip right on past bits of it--if you don't find kid-based stream of consciousness interesting. (But you will get to see brief Christmas decorations--but no presents yet, so back off Internet thieves!!)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


December 3 is STANDfast day.

On this day, why not give up some regular purchase that you make every day and instead donate that little bit of savings to the STANDfast organization? All of this collected money will be donated to relief efforts in Darfur and eastern Burma.

Most people (in the U.S. at least) would probably say that we don't think about the plight of these people enough--if at all really. Most people, if asked, would like to find a way to help.

This opportunity to fast from something of your own and turn that money toward something more beneficial is such a small sacrifice. But collectively, these small actions can add up to something impressive.

(Taking a deep breath and hoping this won't turn anyone off. PLEASE just hear me out!)

I first heard about STANDfast through my regular Harry Potter podcast listening, where I was introduced to Andrew Slack, who created the HP Alliance. This grassroots organization has taken the compassionate example shown by  many of the characters in the book series to act on behalf of the less fortunate and the severely disadvantaged all around us today.

I must say that I have always been mightily impressed by the charitable willingness of the Harry Potter fans that have taken many opportunities to turn their purchase of HP-related items into sizable charitable donations over the years. (For instance, the last two years, sales of a Wizard Rock Christmas album has generated money for Book Aid International.

So, give up Wednesday's cup of Starbucks. Eat a smaller lunch--to save weight and to gather some donatable savings. And make sure that whatever money you save is submitted to STANDfast.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I love James Lileks.

He does more on the Internet on a daily basis than I can accomplish in a month. He's observant, writes exceptionally well, and devotes time to his site so scrupulously that I am never disappointed.

He is helping me celebrate Thanksgiving by providing a wonderful, multi-page view of The Gobbler hotel and restaurant in Wisconsin. It doesn't exist anymore, but Mr. Lileks has painstakingly put together a site that celebrated (and lampoons) the design "choices" that made the Gobbler worth remembering.

So, please take a moment to click on this link and read about the site.

I hope it brings a smile to you face--either before or after the tryptophan begins to kick in.

May all your turkeys remain juicy and all your pumpkin pies taste smooth.

Have a great and relaxing weekend.

LATER . . .

The oven sighs and ticks as it cools down; the dishwasher gurgles and steams as all the evidence of the meal is slowly cleaned away.

And it was a good meal.

Turkey breast; stuffing laced with sausage, apples, and raisins; mashed potatoes (garlic & non-garlic); green beans (both casseroled and regular); rolls; cranberries; gravy; a little bit of wine.

Everything you could want and it wasn't an all-day cook-a-thon. Lynda did a great job planning it all out and we were done eating within thirty minutes of when we projected.

After we stored the leftovers, we drove to Grace's godmother's house for her signature Thanksgiving deserts--her (and now my award-winning) white chocolate cheesecake and frosted date bars. (I'll admit that I ate more than one date bar, but they are so good! I've got the recipe and I should make some to take to work . . .

We've been going to Grace's gm's house for several years. She always cooks SO much food and she has always been so kind to offer up her home to us when we stopped traveling to be with family. We stayed at our house for the main meal in part because combining our growing families together in their house would just be too stressful for her and in part because we wanted to tackle the whole meal ourself this time.

Note . . . the kids just don't care about the Thanksgiving parade and I increasingly don't blame them. I guess it is a tradition of a sort . . . but the more I try to watch it, the more I don't enjoy the pause every ten minutes to interview the "star" of a network show that isn't doing well in the ratings and really ought to be cancelled. And the parade-related entertainment just isn't that entertaining.

So, we do other things.

Today, Sarah and Grace spent most of the morning designing, coloring, and playing their own version of the Pokemon trading card game. (Also note that we GAVE Sarah some actual Pokemon cards last Christmas--which she asked for. But, as usual, they end up having more fun with the stuff they create and imagine than the corporatized stuff they are told to like on the TV.)

Anyway, now the day is done; the kids are asleep and we are drowsy. I'll end by saying that I am extremely thankful for my wonderful family both here in Ohio and in Georgia. I'm thankful for my good job, my many comforts, and all of my most excellent friends. 

Have a great rest of your weekend.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The latest in a series

As J.J. Abrams "Star Trek" movie comes closer to reality, I'll be spending time here throwing out the creative thoughts and opinions of others--sometimes even my own!

Here is a good guess how The Shat might have reacted to the recent trailer release.

(h/t to / for the original post.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tonight's plan

It's short notice (and I don't think anyone is sitting around getting this as soon as it's posted), but I think I'll use Twitter ( to post my thoughts of tonight's episode of "Smallville." [I KNOW that I'm supposed to say tweet when describing my own use of Twitter, but that is simply too emasculating . . . even for me.)

I haven't used Twitter in a while, so this is an excuse.

I might not be able to get to the TV @ 8 o'clock since I'll be busy with getting kids to bed. But I always tape. Just know that tonight I'll throw something together that might make you laugh 2.4 times while you read.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


For today's post,  I've got two stories that happened within the last month and involved walking.

First, my family participated in the annual Crop Walk for Hunger a while back, sponsored by my church in New Albany.  I got some generous pledge donations from friends and we prepared to walk with other from our church and other churches in the surrounding area. The motivations for doing this were: a) it's a simple way to help the disadvantaged, b) it reinforces to the kids the idea that we need to spread the wealth (please note that this last phrase was chosen very specifically) to help those that need helping, c) it provides us necessary exercise that comes in very short supply, d) the walking route went right past our neighborhood.

So, all good reasons. But there were important problems to be solved as well. First, to participate as a family, Hannah would be involved. But that's not a real problem. She can ride in luxury in her stroller. (As you will later learn, she had the best situation of all of us.) But, Sarah and Grace, unaccustomed as they are to walking extensive miles of distance, would need some thinking about. I figured I had a good plan. They could ride their bikes. It would help them grow more proficient on their bicycles and help them keep up with the rest of the crowd. Brilliant.

So, after church on the designated day we drove home, had a quick lunch and packed up our walking provisions. We got water bottles for the girls and put them in their bicycle baskets. They also got granola bars to snack on when they grew hungry. Lynda and I would share a water bottle and Hannah was ready with her own drink. We loaded the van with the bikes, the stroller, and drove down the block to the local church's starting point.

The complete walk was several miles in length, and I had no illusions that even under my current plan we could handle the entire route. But there was a halfway cutoff that split the trek in half. So, we had our plan, we gathered, said hello to our friends, said a quick prayer, and gathered outside with the celebrity walker--one of the news anchors for a Columbus TV channel. (She and her kids led us down the route for a block or so before peeling off and going on her way.)

The crowd hit the sidewalk and started . . . that's right . . . walking. But it quickly became clear that my bike plan for the kids was in trouble. If we were walking in the street (like the big fancy March of Dimes walk where thousands participate) it would have been okay. But our smaller hunger walk doesn't have the necessary charity cred, so we were on the regular old sidewalk. Sidewalk + crowd + girls on bikes = problem. They've got no wiggle room and they can't keep up their speed. 

So, the bikes were a bust. Lynda agreed that, unfortunately, the girls would have to hoof it. A bit angrily, I wheeled the bikes back to the van. Unfortunately, here is where (I think, anyway) more mistakes were made. 

Lynda, bless her heart, knew that I was frustrated. So, she held back the family so I wouldn't be alone. But in doing so, she isolated us from the group. Now we were just a family alone trodding a block-and-a-half behind the mass of walkers and our friends. I wanted her to keep the girls up with the group, to help them stay distracted from the fact that they now had to walk. But it was too late. The crowd was moving on and we were alone.

Sure enough, the complaints started. "My feet hurt." "How much longer are we walking?" "I'm tired." And on, and on, and on. And I'm telling you we weren't even CLOSE to the 1/4 point. And this was already going. By now I was REALLY frustrated. And I knew it wouldn't end. So, I threw down the gauntlet and told everyone to stop. I told them to sit down in the shade and wait. I turned around, retraced my steps (fuming and cursing and muttering every step of the way--exactly the mindset you're supposed to have on a beautiful charity-based Sunday, right) and drove the van back to them.

We went home and our walk was over.

It was a very disappointing hour or so of my parenting life. Looking back on it several weeks later, I recognize that I expected too much out of the girls. Heck, even ON bikes, we likely couldn't have completed the entire thing and maybe not even the half walk. It made me question my kids fitness level and their expectations about exertion. It just frustrated the Hell out of me.

But our hearts were in the right place. And maybe, with better foreknowledge, we can approach it differently and with a more positive outcome next year. As I tell the girls all the time, truly learning something doesn't mean avoiding mistakes, but recognizing what a mistake is and avoiding doing it again.


Oh, the other walking story?

That's another post, on another day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Taxi Driver

One can only hope that she grows up to be a strong, confident, and successful as Jodie Foster did.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Geeks Attack!

Did you know that a  new Star Trek  movie is coming out in 2009?

Did you know that uber-geek media guy J.J. Abrams and his team at Bad Robot  is helming the project? (Since what appears to be the ACTUAL corporate Web site is appropriately mysterious, I give you this one.)

If you, like me, are a fan of Star Trek and a devotee of Mr. Abrams, this is exciting news.

The Star Trek movie franchise has suffered in the last decade. The quality of the films have grown progressively weaker--

not in design and presentation, but in story quality. It just felt like they were going through the motions to fulfill contract obligations and projected target deliverables.

Well, Abrams, who is NOT a ST disciple, is bringing his brand of geek credibility to the table to "reboot" the franchise--much like outsider Christopher Nolan has resurrected the Batman movie franchise.

How's it going so far?

Well, the media has been supporting the endeavor to this point, but they are just doing their job. It's the fan boys--call them Trekkies or Trekkers in my opinion--that matter most.

They've taken a wait and see approach so far . . . at least until yesterday, when the first full look at Abrams' version of the iconic spaceship was revealed.

You may not think there is much to be excited about here. It looks pretty similar to the original--even the refit--but there is the crux of the problem.

It's the nacelles!!! And probably some other stuff!! The arguments and backbiting on the comments to this post are what you would expect. And it exposes me for what I am, a fan but not a apostle in the Church of Roddenberry.

Oh well. I still think the movie will be good.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It's a rough day when . . .

. . . getting hit in the head with a three-foot stick might be one of the better experiences.

(But I'll get to that later.)

Work was hectic today.

The Current Project is coming to a conclusion--dependant as it was on the 2008 Presidential Election. Now that the votes are completed, the final bits of my work begin. And Iteration A is piled upon by Iteration B, and also Iterations C and D . . . not to mention Spinoff 1 and Spinoff 2.

(As usual, to say things more specifically might get me "dooced" so I leave it vague. Just trust me that things are piling up on top of each other. Such is the nature of my job at this time of year. It gets hectic.)

I had to deal with that hectic-ness all throughout the day, went to meetings, felt inadequate at meetings, had discussions with people, felt inadequate after discussions. A typical Thursday.

And while balancing all of this stuff, compound it by the fact that I had to leave early because I was picking up the kids after school. Yes, I did arrive at work a corresponding earlier time, so it's not like I didn't work a full set of hours . . . but, well . . . I still felt like I had to get things done faster.

But so, then, I got the kids and went home. And I had to bake some chocolate chip cookies so Sarah can donate them to a school bake sale. This wasn't THAT hard because I used a mix, but I had to keep Hannah occupied with toys and stuff, while rapidly getting the mix ready and into the oven.

I did accomplish a good thing by getting the kids to play out in the backyard, though.

After I finished baking the cookies and remotely connecting back to the office to tie up one or two loose ends (while Hannah complained at my feet), I got Hannah to play outside as well. I pushed her in the swing for a while and then I let her crawl on the grass while the other kids played.

The Stick Incident occurred while Grace was playing with a random tree stick. She was holding it and pointed it in my face. I told her not to do that, so she decided to swing it instead and it connected solidly with that portion of my forehead above my left eye. I reacted loudly and angrily and Grace ran into the house in embarrassment and fear. But after I got over it, I got Sarah to get her and we talked. They pointed out that I was bleeding a bit, so I requested a band-aid and now I look like I visited my local Fight Club.

So . . . was THAT the best part of the day? Well, probably not. Perhaps I didn't have a best part. But then again, the day isn't fully over yet, so maybe I shouldn't give up all hope.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Can he, yes?

Sincerest of congratulation to you President-elect Obama. My young daughter, who (thankfully and hopefully has no notion of how remarkable it is for this country to elect you to its highest office) walked around the house this morning saying "Rock Obama won, Rock Obama won.")

Now, the media paeans begin . . . at least until the first attempt to knock you off your pedestal arrives. But keep your head.

You may think you have a national mandate. You may have broken into Red States that haven't swung in your party's way for decades. You may have the most decisive Electoral College victory in the last several elections.

But, the popular vote shows that almost 48% of the people voted AGAINST you. Large parts of the country still went the other way. Members of Congress are going to inevitably worry about themselves instead of YOUR agenda.

And you've got enormous issues to begin fixing:

A systemically sick economy
Two nebulous war fronts
Deeply-felt cultural disagreements

I want you to succeed. I want the large amounts of people that you inspired and motivated and engaged to stay that way and care and think and work. But can you compete with TV and sports and the daily grind of living? Can you?

Yes, you can?

I want to believe that.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election results will be reacted to

Once the kids get to bed, I plan to Twitter my reactions to anything interesting on the election results as it all happens.

So, starting somewhere around 8:30 or so, check out to get regular 140 bursts of my mental pearls of wisdom. You'll be GLAD you did, I'm sure . . .

I'll be balancing this task with regular work that I'll be attempting to do also, so tonight's going to be a mega-multi-tasking kind of night.

Democracy day

I got up and showered at 5:45 this morning, then got Hannah out of her crib (she was already awake) and make some coffee. Lynda got up and got her shower as well and I was out the door with my travel mug of Joe (NOT the Plumber, please) to place my early morning vote.

I drove down the street to get to Sarah's elementary school which is my polling location. The sun was not yet up, it was still ten minutes until the doors officially opened, and there was already a line 100 strong queued up on the sidewalk.

I wound through the adjacent neighborhood and found a place to park the car (the school's lot was already full). I waited, but didn't immediately pull out the iPod. I eventually chatted with the woman in front of me and the man behind. She said that she usually votes this early in the morning and she always walks right in. She'd NEVER seen lines like this. She was happy about this development. The man behind me lived in the neighborhood that I had just clogged up with my car. He also said that he had not seen lines like this before, but he normally voted a little later in the morning.

Once the doors opened, the lines moved with a decent pace. Getting the voting authorization slip (according to last initial) took some time, but then the wait began. The line to get to the electronic machines twisted and turned like a snake trying to eat itself and it took at least thirty minutes for me to work my way to the front of the line. 

But then I got a machine and cast my vote (carefully verifying that the paper printout beside the electronic touch screen displayed the name that I had just chosen. Then on to clerk of court, various judgeships, and the artfully worded state constitutional amendments and ballot issues. 

And then I was done. Now MORE waiting begins. As soon as Lynda makes her way through her own set of lines, we'll head to work and try not to think about the numbers piling up across the county. Tonight, I'll be watching the voting results come in and Twittering my thoughts (, so be sure to check that out as you sit and watch the same.

I COULD have voted early, but the line wait downtown the last week or so has been even longer than the hour+ that I faced this morning. And I had a (not entirely irrational--this is OHIO after all) fear that early votes might be lost, set aside, or whatever. I want my vote to count today.

The political Super Bowl is here. Let the best team win.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The election is three days away

I took Hannah for a walk through the neighborhood, up and down the many cul-de-sacs, on a very pretty late October afternoon today.

Here is the tally of signage I saw as we walked:


= 10

= 4


If you are further interested, I tried the various combinations of 14, 10, and 4 and have only found one valid zipcode out of that bunch--
say hello to Covington, Kentucky! (I wonder what the signage tally is like in THAT town?)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

(To see the costumes, see the post immediately below this one.)

It's been a good night of trick or treating. We started out down at the other end of our street having a hot dog and covered dish dinner with Lynda's coworker's family. While there, we met up with one of Sarah's classmates (who sits right beside her incidentally). After the dinner Sarah, Grace, and A. teamed up to start canvassing the neighborhood.

Lynda took Hannah the Bee home to man the front porch while I got to know other parents and get some exercise walking around the neighborhood.

It is surprising how many of Sarah's classmates live all around us. Simultaneously, it is also sad how unaware I am of this fact. 

(Case in point . . . last weekend, Sarah was invited to one of her classmate's birthday sleepover party. When I googled the address to get directions to her house, the map informed me that she lived a block-and-a-half away. In as condescending a way as a mute computer screen could, it told me that it took "about 23 seconds" to go from our house to the destination.)

So, we are spectacularly uninformed. 

But, this is how we can start breaking out of our shell. From these small occurrences, perhaps we can forge new tendrils of relationships.

Grace got tired after about fifteen minutes and wandering back and forth through our neighborhood. So she peeled off for home to help Lynda hand out stuff from the porch. (They have always enjoyed the giving just as much as the receiving.) But Sarah kept going for a while with her friends A. and A. We parents talked about Halloweens past, political signs in the yards, and the absolutely wonderful weather. (When we started, the temperature was mid-60s with a blue sky and white fluffy clouds. It did get a bit colder when the sun sunk below the trees, but everything was much better than last year's cold, rainy night.)

All the parents and many of the older kids we encountered instantly recognized Sarah's costume--though they almost always thought she was Hermione at the initial guess. I was glad that she got such positive feedback from everyone. And I was very glad that she got to interact with her classmates. We kept on running across more and more of them as the night continued, all of them walking in packs. I was all for us combining our groups into a roving, marauding herd of candy bandits, but Lynda called me on my phone (equipped with Order of the Phoenix ringtone, to keep up with the theme) and asked me to come back home so she could take a break and get Hannah to bed.

So, I came home and I've been blogging on the porch while Sarah and Grace play with M. from next door. They've been handing out candy, running around in the dark whooping, and pretending to be new kids coming up to the porch to gather more candy. When I tell them that I'm not tricked by their game, they say that they are "advertising for other kids to come by." 

I say this every year on Beggar's Night, but it's nice to have people interacting with each other outside, away from the TVs and stuff. It's nice see your neighbors and fellow neighborhood dwellers sitting on their porch. It's nice to hear the chatter of kids excitement floating across the darkening air. It's not scary or spooky, but it is a vague reflection of the mythical (and possible entirely fictional) community that we want deep down in our muscle memory and are afraid to try and find. 

(Even though I think I was just slightly dissed by a preteen for the Obama sign in our yard . . . I think I'll stick to the hopeful tone that I am ending this post with. YES WE CAN!!)

Halloween costumes

Doing this quick with little commentary this morning.

You've got Hannah in seasonal clothing, but not yet in bumblebee costume, Grace as Padme Amidala, and Sarah as Ginny Weasley. (Her "wand" got cut off from the top of the picture.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another dream sequence

Over this past weekend, I had another dream in a mall.

But this was a regular mall, not a weird surreal Mall of Madness.

It went down like this.

Lynda, Hannah, and I were in the men's clothing section of a generic anchor store in your typical generic mall. It was probably either J.C. Penneys or Sears or maybe Belks. But I was in the market for a track suit. (Perhaps I was getting ready to go back in time and reinvent myself as a 80s style rapper?)

I had my eye on a nice red number that one of the mannequins was sporting--bright red (to get the ladies attention?) two piece ensemble with a zip-up jacket/hoodie and straight-legged pants (no elastic at the cuffs, yo!). But what really set it all off was the addidas-style white stripes (think Fat Boys, not White Stripes) running down both pant legs.

So, I knew what I wanted. I just had to get the right size. I got the proper jacket, but for some reason I couldn't locate a corresponding pair of the red pants. I waited around for a bit, hoping to get some sales clerk assistance, but even in a dream sequence, no help was to be found.

I eventually cornered a store manager and he told me that they were completely out of the pants, but he directed me to one of the sales clerks. Lynda and I (and I was holding Hannah) discussed our problem with the clerk (who, for whatever reason I can't begin to explain was of Arab descent). He led the three of us through the men's department and out of the store into the mall corridors.

At this point I thought he was going to lead us to some separate storage or merchandise staging area where the appropriate pants were available. But we just kept walking past store entrances and through the wide mall expanses.

Suddenly, I found that part of the mall floor was moving. (You know how in airport walkways part of the floor is a motorized belt that speeds you along faster than regular walking?) Well, I and Hannah were on this moving part--which wasn't a rubberized mat but was made of the same tile as the stationary mall floor that Lynda and the store clerk were on.

As I realized that I was on this moving floor, I lost my balance and fell backwards. I landed safely--kind of like if I was sliding down a waterslide, not flat on my back but semi-upright--and kept Hannah from harm. But I felt the floor's pace quicken and I could see that it was propelling me toward a wall that jutted outward from a Chik-fil-A entrance. (The floor just kept moving underneath the bottom of the wall protuberance.) As I slid non-stop to this barrier (which was also . . . oddly . . . guarded by a regular sidewalk bench that was supporting a couple sitting in front of the Chik-fil-A; again, the moving floor just slid right beneath their feet), I leaned over and sort of handed off/tossed Hannah to Lynda, who was on safe, predictable solid "ground."

With the baby safe, I just sort of curled up and let myself get slammed into the bench/barrier at the feet of the sitting couple. It turns out--though I couldn't have told you who they were in the dream--Lynda and I knew them from church. So, I got up, got off of the moving floor, and we chatted for a few minutes.

But then we went on our way, again following the sales clerk who was now leading us out of the mall itself and suddenly we were walking with him through a moderately forested area (tall, Georgia pines) that cast a shady area on a courtyard of an apartment complex. On either side of the little artificial glen screen doors indicated the entrances to apartments. There were little squares of concrete that was each entrances stoop and I sat down on one of these in the piney shade to see what was going to happen next.

At this point, I was now rationalizing that the sales clerk we had been following was going to offer me a pair of red (and white striped) track suit pants that he owned, even though he was at least six inches taller than me and probably 50 pounds more muscular. (He was wearing a generic sales outfit of black pants, white shirt, and black suit vest. He was very handsome in a non-me sort of way.)

So, I'm sitting, Lynda is standing to the side holding Hannah just waiting and staring at the apartment screen door that the clerk is opening. Upon opening, he is greeted by an older man that is clearly his grandfather. I don't remember that the two exchange any words but the clerk who has led us all this way without so much as speaking to us now turns to Lynda (ignoring my presence COMPLETELY) and asks her to marry him.

. . .


To her credit, Lynda immediately slumps a bit in disappointment, turns to look me in the eyes and gives a full-bodied, very weary sort of sigh.

And then the dream ends.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

a "Harry" eyeball

On Thursday I have my eye exam with the specialist downtown. The task of going to a different office and dealing with people who are touted as a higher level of eye doctors gave me a faint memory tug of when Muleskinner and I drove to Macon (GA) almost twenty years ago.

The Macon trip was to get a higher order of doctor's opinion on the double vision that I was struggling to control. While it was a condition that I could remember having far back into my childhood, it had seemed to get worse the summer before my senior year in high school. It was at that point that I confessed to Mom and Dad that I frequently saw two of everything . . . or at least I saw the single thing split into two images if I stared at it for a long amount of time. When I blinked, the two somethings resolved back into one and that was that.

But, as I got older, the splitting into two became more frequent and more bothersome. As the Macon specialists explained things, my brain had become "tired" and unable to properly compensate for the vision problem any more. It wasn't as uncommon an affliction as you might think, but it is usually caught earlier in life when the ability to retrain the brain or surgically correct the problem is more successful.

Even so, the Macon doctor had a plan. He could, right there, in the exam room, lean me back and try to reposition the muscles that attach to the eyeball itself. This repositioning might, he explained, pull the right eye back into proper alignment and correct the basic fact that I saw two of things because my eyes were operating from slightly different angles. This difference in perspective was the cause of my two images. I agreed, as it seemed to most direct and sensible thing to do--but I didn't ask Muleskinner's opinion. He had come along to drive, since I had anticipated having dilated pupils and not being able to drive back home on I-75 for an hour-and a-half afterwards.

I was correct about the driving, but for the wrong reason.

The doctor did indeed lean me back and numbed the eye so I wouldn't "feel" the surgical procedure. And while I can report that--of course--the anesthesia worked, it simply took the pain sensation away. I was still quite aware that someone was tugging and moving things around on my eyeball.

Owing to the fact that I had not stepped into the office that day with any of this in mind (and owing to the fact that, for obvious reasons, you have to watch the doctor bring the anesthesia needle toward your forced open eyeball, I was a bit shaken and sweaty when the procedure was finished. Muleskinner was also shaken up, because he had to sit there beside the chair and watch it all happen, seeing my hands grip the arm rests, seeing my body twist slightly in the seat. He drove me home slightly bemused and a bit shocked. I leaned myself back in the passenger chair of his Accord and just tried to relax.


That procedure did not work back then, so ever since I've been wearing glasses with a prism in the right side that bends the light to try and artificially correct the different eye angle. It works a bit, but the splitting vision can still be a problem now and then. (I just try not to use it as an excuse when I don't play well at tennis or golf.)

My visit to the doctor THIS time wasn't for that issue. I figure that is just something I'm going to be living with for a long time--or at least until someone figures out how to replace them with Geordi Laforge eyes. This exam was to judge the state of my cataract in the right eye and get the specialists opinion on whether surgery is necessary. (The answer, I am glad to report, is YES and the surgery is scheduled for late January.)

What I found amusing was that as I was preparing to finish the visit and was scheduling the surgery, I had to sign a few forms. Mind you, my eyes were dilated from the exam during this, so I found it difficult to clearly read the text on what seemed to be a pretty blindingly white piece of paper, much less clearly see the swimming line that was supposed to support my signature. (I just hope I didn't sign away my right to sue or something . . . that's a joke.)


On Friday, I had to pick up Sarah after school and quickly get her a present to take to a birthday party that I had only just heard about the day before. I think Sarah has received the invitation earlier than that but had neglected to let me see it. So, I found out that this party occurred the night after I read about it, I had to plan time to get a gift, AND it was a sleepover party to boot. But I knew what to do. I'd get Sarah, we'd go to Meijer and find a gift, then we'd pick up Grace and Hannah from daycare. We'd all troop home and Sarah would get packed for the night out while I cooked the Friday night pizza quickly so Grace would have enough time to eat before the daycare Halloween Boo Bash began later, after Sarah's party was already underway. whew

But first, Sarah and I had to find a gift.

This was one of Sarah's new classmates, and as such, wasn't someone I was familiar with. Buying a present for a pre-adolescent girl is always hard enough (even though Barbie products is a fairly reliable default setting), but to do so in the blind, for someone you have NO context for? That's even harder. And I'll be honest . . . since I knew this girl was African American, I had the added question of whether or not I ought to buy a darker skinned doll. (I didn't ask Sarah her opinion on the matter.) I was rolling this question around in my head while Sarah was trying to distract me by talking about some of the many other dolls in the aisle.

Ultimately we sidestepped the issue and purchased a Barbie furniture set that didn't come with it's own doll. I rationalized by saying that it was likely that Sarah's friend had many dolls that would have fun playing with the furniture. I knew I had done a pretty good job when, as we drove to pick up Grace and Hannah, I heard Sarah say wistfully from the backseat "I wish I had this." That was all she said, but it gave me some confidence that the toy selection would be greeted happily.

When I got home, I was greeted with welcome mail for me. The latest CDs in my Wizard Rock ep of the Month club arrived, along with the long awaited Harry: A History, Melissa Anelli's story about the growth of the Harry Potter fandom from the late 1990s until the publication of Book 7. I've done my best to read it through this weekend and it is a complement to Melissa's writing and her chosen subject that I have tried to plow through it as quickly as I have the books that constitute her source material.

I have not been an HP fan from the start, picking up the books around 2001/2002 (after GoF before OotP) and not delving deeper into the web world of The Leaky Cauldron until 2006 or so . . . but I have been a strong advocate for the books ever since I picked them up. Reading about the life Melissa has led makes me realize how much of a stand-offish fan I am in comparison to the very many that live on the discussion boards late into the night and wake up to be the first ones to experience the newest trailer or bit of book news. Still, I get Leaky news on a daily RSS feed and I have never missed a single one of Melissa, John, and Sue's 170+ podcasts. (Sarah and I and Shirtless even attended the live podcast they held in Columbus back in the Summer of 7.) And I spend many non-work-related moments with Master P in his cubicle arguing about what this bit of text meant or how it would all turn out in the end.

So, yeah, I'm a fan and I'm proud. If you know someone like me, Melissa's book would be a nice gift. If you want to understand that person (or me) a bit better, reading this book might give you some insight.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

David announces his endorsement!

Where "Joe da Plumber" at, yo?

The clash between Obama and McCain and Joe and small businesses have roiled the news cycles for days and day now. I am going to vote for Obama because I like his compassion and desire to help improve inequalities in the country. I know people how say that he (and Democrats generally) are rewarding laziness and a sense of entitlement that damages the credibility of the American worker. While that is likely true for some segments of any mass crowd, I don't think that the playing field is level enough across the board for most Americans. I am blessed with a steady job, secure lifestyle, and many, MANY luxuries. Some people--NO MATTER how hard they strive--are always a mile behind.

ANYWAY . . .

My favorite economies podcast, NPR's Planet Money, has recently put out a challenge to its readers who could help answer the question of whether typical small businesses make $250,000 a year as McCain and Obama have been disagreeing on.

Feeing LOST?

The first official video clip promoting LOST season 5 is now out there on the web. I've got it up over on WWYG?! Omnimedia.

If you haven't seen any of Season 4, but you are planning to get on board this year (and if you ARE considering that, talk to me so I can help you out), then you want to avoid this video. The first half recaps a lot of season 4.

Thanks to Doc Artz, Nik at Nite, and Slashfilm for all hitting the web with this quickly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Political Roughage

It is a measure of how hectic her life must be that Lulu hasn't taken time to provide her own comments on the Open Letter that author Michael Pollan recently published to the Next President. 

As I briefly heard on NPR's Fresh Air (w/ Terri Gross), Pollan is advocating a change in the nation's agricultural policy, with an general goal of reducing a reliance upon pesticides and other chemical aids to increase crop yield, reinvigorating markets for locally grown products, and changing the regulatory system that benefits the factorization of farming and animal production.

These are, as any regular reader of Lulu's blog knows, all topics that are near and dear to her heart and to her way of life.

If she wasn't busy single-handedly revitalizing small town Missouri, she'd be extolling us on her own methods of animal husbandry and Little House on the Prarie-ness.

Take a break Lulu! Read and listen. Then give us your opinions on the matter. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Abrams: "Fringe" talent?

I am a fan of J.J. Abrams.

I acknowledge his very frequent use of story tropes

I know that he doesn't always stray very far from his comfort zone.

You might say that he has a very definite shtick.

You could accuse him of constantly relying on his established cadre of actors.

You might wonder why he consistently turns to this stable of performers.

I propose that they already understand the Abrams tricks of the trade.

Why try to teach a new troop your bag of tricks?

Especially when everyone understands what is within their wheelhouse?

(Enjoy an Abramsesque experience on Tuesday nights @ 9 pm with FOX's Fringe. And don't forget to clear your calendar for the return of LOST on ABC in January 2009.)

h/t to this week's printed edition of Entertainment Weekly for the graphic. Read the text here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

This year's birthday post

On Thursday I said a stupid thing at work and I continue to hear those words in my head--as my brother Muleskinner said during our phone call on Friday (He always calls Johnny-on-the-spot for my birthdays.) that words always hurt more than sticks and stones . . . and they bounce around in your memory for a lot longer. I apologized for my stupidity and I hope it'll be okay.

The kids did very well during Lynda's absence. They try harder (I think) to be good listeners and they play more willingly with each other when L goes on a business trip. It like they know to cut the home-bound parent a little slack when he's a man down. (That also means that they don't feel the need to be so conscientious when we're both here, I guess.) The fact remains that they are, without a doubt, excellent kids.

I took my birthday off from work (something I have not done in past years). I planned to have fun and relax, but my plans were changed for me when the van began showing symptoms of brake problems--ABS dash light kept coming on and a slight shuddering resistance one time when I depressed the brake. So, I "took advantage" of my day off and promptly threw it away by spending the hours between 9 and 1 sitting in the service center's lobby. I listened to podcasts (four of them, totaling 2.5 hours) and read two issues of Newsweek. But I was still staring at four walls in a small waiting area for the entire morning. Finally the mechanic said the brake pads and rotors were in good shape and didn't require changing for another 6 to 8 months and that the dash light is too intermittent to indicate a specific problem. The computer for the van indicated that it was a left rear wheel speed sensor (????) that was acting up and that I should let the issue turn into a "hard fail" permanent dashboard light warning before fixing. So, I only had to pay $33--along with the additional expense of my entire morning.

I resurrect the rest of my day off, I decided to get lunch at a new chicken restaurant close to the office that I hoped would bring back memories of my favorite college-era chicken restaurant. (The verdict? A pretty close match.) However, I discovered that because this was the opening week of the restaurant, a free food promotion was going on that day. It was, of course, monetarily good for me but the crowd in the parking lot made it less smooth than I was hoping for. Is it a sign of the economic times that people were lined up so far for free chicken or just an indicator that people love new fast food novelty and friend chicken? (Given the enormous lines at Chipotle before the 2nd Great Depression began, I'm choosing the second option. But keep on "committing to be fit Columbus!"

I got my free chicken and went home to watch "Good Night and Good Luck." It was a good movie, but now I feel like a putz for watching TV for enjoyable pablum all these years of my life rather than letting it educate and en-noble me. Thanks, George Clooney and ghost of Edward R. Murrow! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Post Debate breakdown

My fellow Americans, earlier today I took on the challenge of using Twitter to continuously post my reactions to the final debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.

I am proud to say that I successfully completed this task . . . despite the misstatements from my blogging opponent and his HTML cronies. I KNOW what it is like to blog for an hour and a half. My opponent is not ready to type like I am. My opponent wants to take away your right to blog. My opponent's position on blogging is a threat to the fundamentals of democracy itself.

I can proudly report the following facts . . . and the facts are these  . . . and they cannot be in dispute:

Senator McCain only called himself a maverick ONCE. I call that an October Surprise.

Senator McCain only used the phrase "my friends" once, but it was of course, bestowed on the suddenly ubiquitous Joe the Plumber. 

William Ayers featured prominently for about ten minutes in the debate. But reports are clarifying the accusation by McCain that Obama "launched his campaign" in Ayers' living room. It was, in fact, launched from a Ramada Inn. Perhaps Ayers was living in the Ramada at the time? (kidding . . . REALLY!)

McCain only used the word cronies once I think and he didn't tie said cronies directly to Obama.

Obama "uh'ed" and said "look" countless times. I didn't keep a definitive count, but did specifically mark 40 separate instances.

Obama came out strong and mentioned the middle class tax cut twice, but it was early on and later topics veered away from that.

Obama said something about McCain being honorable and in agreement with him on two instances.

I only heard the word fundamental used once.

There you go. I think McCain was strongest in this debate than in the previous two. Will it shift the polls? What ARE the polls? What's Wall Street going to say? What's Main Street going to say?

Tonight's presidential debate coverage--UPDATE

UPDATE: I am getting ready to begin the Twittering for the debate, which is only eighteen minutes away. If you don't know, Twitter only allows 140 characters per entry, so don't expect deep reflections on statements, but visceral reactions and quickly tossed off reactions. (Given that, I wonder why I can't get paid by MSNBC or CNN for their post-debate coverage.

So, you'll get lots of quick reactions. Add it all up and see if anything matters in the end. 

The biggest problem with doing this is that I can't go to the bathroom . . . and I have to sit through the whole thing.


But I do it for you.


As I teased a few days ago, I am planning to "live blog" tonight's final presidential debate via my Twitter page.

So, if you are watching tonight and you get tired of listening to Bob Schieffer complain that the candidates are not following the rule structures designed by their campaign staffs, then flip on over to my page to get bored with me instead.

Things I might track:

  1. number of times McCain says "my friends"
  2. number of references to William Ayers or terrorists
  3. number of times McCain calls himself a maverick
  4. number of times Obama's "cronies" are mentioned. (Seriously, the guys been in Congress about five years . . . how many cronies can he have yet?)
  5. number of times Obama says "look" or "uh"
  6. number of times Obama says "middle class tax cut"
  7. number of times Obama says that "McCain is an honorable man, but . . ."
  8. number of times either candidate uses the word fundamental

I'll take any/all other suggestions.

Tune in tonight @ 9 pm and watch the civic hilarity ensue!

Monday, October 13, 2008

WWY Work Together?!

No, this isn't the announcement of a new blog that I have created.

Rather, this is to let my five faithful readers know that tonight (Mon. 10/13 @ 10 pm) I'll be doing my best to unite my disparate digital presences to do something entirely pointless.

That pointless thing will be using my Twitter page to "live blog" reactions to the NBC premiere of "My Own Worst Enemy." Maybe you don't care about this, but it will serve as a test case for more useful Live Blog topics in the future--such as the final presidential debate between McCain and Obama later this week, the Academy Awards later on, the Super Bowl, the Season 5 LOST premiere in January . . . you get the picture.

So, check out my Twitter page here tonight at 10 pm and join in with the fun. (Hopefully I won't totally stink at this.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

A long awaited post in which I attempt to make up for weeks of neglect by dumping idea after idea down and wondering if any sort of theme emerges.

So . . . how is everyone?

I've been okay. 

My workload has increased more in recent weeks just as I suspected that it might. As the main part of my current project proceeds nearer to its conclusion, the secondary and tertiary phases are beginning. While this is normal and causes a certain amount of overlapping, this year's project--dependant as it is upon Election Results--end-loads the heavy lifting even more than normal. What I'm saying is that much of the new content can't be written and proofed until after 11/4, and it's all got to be done and printed by mid-January. So, my holidays (what I have of them) should be more hectic than I want them to be. Such hangs the head of the Project Manager.

That said, I am also involved in two or three additional technology endeavors that serve to confuse my sense of what I should be focusing on each day. I need to work in a few different directions each day, but for the last ten days I succeeded in singlemindedly ignoring all but one task.

I don't complain because 1) these other tasks are very interesting and have potential to be very exciting and dynamic additions to our future product line. And 2) I've got a job. Given the state of the economy, I'm holding onto it.

Speaking of the economy, I've done more thinking about the economy and attempting to understand words and phrases like financial instruments, mark-to-market, commercial paper market, than ever in my past. Amazingly, I might be soaking in some basic knowledge through osmosis. Primarily I've been listening to NPR's new Planet Money podcast and reading their blog pretty much every day. Additionally, I've relied on two excellent episodes of the This American Life podcast that presented the ins-and-outs of the growing crisis in simpler terms. Of course, things are changing every day, so what was informative last weekend is already old news.

I decided to create a "group" for the Planet Money podcast on my Facebook page and it led to an interesting message from some of the actual NPR producers of the podcast. It seems I created my Facebook group before they had gotten around to it. Rather than sic'ing their lawyers on me or something like that, they were very nice and appreciative and wanted me to know that they had just created the Official Group. I'll admit, sheepishly, that I secretly (or not so secretly now, I guess) wonder if this slight breath of notice from Actual Media Types in Important Places might be the mysterious tipping point that propels me from anonymity to digital stardom. Now, what I might even DO with such (phantom) stardom is likely nothing . . . but it is fun to fantasize about it just the same. Naturally, talking about it negates any chance of it occurring. And that is as it should be. Send the fame to the people who are willing to grab it by the collar and ride it to ruin. I would likely do neither. 

Regarding Internet and Fame--

I have been trying to balance the ever increasing number of digital locations that I am a part of. Since you are here reading this (aren't you . . . still?), you already know about Why Won't You Grow?! the blog. But I have dabbled off and on with a Facebook page and I just a few days ago jumped on the exhaust fumes of the Twitter bandwagon that passed by around ten months ago. You can gain access to these David-related offshoots in the sidebar to the right. (They are, naturally, headed Why Won't You Facebook?! and WWYTwitter?!

You might wonder if it is advisable for me to spread my digital self so thinly when I can't even manage a blog post on a daily basis. But I defend myself in this way--a) they are all free in a monetary sense . . . I haven't and won't calculate the time cost of all this digital narcissism; b) it has become--for better or for worse--my "other" hobby alongside TV watching; c) there would be no chronicle of my children's achievements, thoughts, or development without it. That alone makes at least the blog beneficial. And I think that Facebook is replacing my musty Flickr page as the go-to location for my family photos. The procedure for uploading photos to my Facebook page is much easier than Flickr and I have forgotten the passwords necessary to get back onto Flickr. It's an imperfect system, but it was all created ad hoc. (Kind of like the sub-mortgage problem, right?)

So, what am I to do with all of these digital places? I want to keep up with them because they sort of play different roles. WWYG?!, as a blog is best suited for long form thoughts and ramblings like this one. WWYFacebook?! might do lots of things, but I mostly use it to update my status with pithy reflections of my awesomeness. Facebook also give one the voyeuristic thrill of seeing what's up with those you are connected to. I'm still getting used to Twitter, but it distills the main use of Facebook down to the status updates and nothing else. 

I am quite certain that if I had an iPhone, I could better utilize these sites on a more frequent, Tourettes-like basis. (One can only look forward to that debilitating future!) But I DO think that we need a Digital Einstein--someone who can unite these many disparate web environments in a Unified Theory of Digital Existence. Someone smart and connected to a Venture Capitalist needs to Get This Done! 

Other random stuff I want to toss out opinions on--

I. It is interesting enough to know that civilian Richard Garriott is going into space. But, he's taking the DNA of Stephen Colbert! My geek past is tied to Garriott--a.k.a. "Lord British" of the Ultima computer games and I always wanted to fly in space. (At least ever since I was impersonating Han Solo in my backyard.) But the thrill of this is diminished a bit by connecting it to Colbert. It makes it seem more like a David Blaine-esque stunt. 

II. This bit of news made me sad. I was a very big fan of Bloom County back during the Reagan years. (I even would have voted for Bill and Opus if I had been old enough.) Not being a regular subscriber to any newspaper, I haven't kept up with Outland or Opus, but a part of my childhood is going away.

III. My wife and my friend Shirtless will be interested to read this link and not just because they have an affinity towards math. I can't say more about it here--since it edges towards the dangers of being Dooced.

IV. What does it say about me that I was EXTREMELY excited while viewing this video?

V. I am glad that work is progressing on the Hobbit movies but I am glad that I am not alone in my concerns that they are trying to create a movie where one should not exist. And please don't try to make a parallel between this decision to create two Tolkien films with Warner Brother's decision to split Harry Potter movie 7 into two parts. (I am a great proponent of splitting up Deathly Hallows.) Critics will say that Warner Brothers (like the Hobbit guys) are attempting to generate extra money with two films. But the Deathly Hallows book is very large and splitting it in two ensures the best chance of getting as much of the book's plot in as possible. This is a very good and quite essential think, in my opinion. I don't think you need to do the same to a movie about The Hobbit. The story and necessary plotting don't require more than two hours to do correctly. And the decision to create additional plot (from where exactly?) to create a bridge between Hobbit movie and Peter Jackson's LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring movie is unnecessary.

VI. Have I told you about my grass-growing prowess? (And no, sorry, it's not that kind of grass.)

VII. If you are still trying to catch up with my memorial readings of the late David Foster Wallace, you can use this useful link to a fan-gathered collection of his works. I'm sure I'll be referring back to this soon again very soon.

VIII. Finally, as a reward for making it this far, here is a seasonally-appropriate photographic blast from my past.