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?)