Saturday, January 31, 2009

The week winds down

Friday night was a bit unusual because Lynda wasn't here.

She decided to hang out with the girls and have a night out with dinner and movie. And I say "more power to her." She NEVER does stuff for herself like that and desperately needs to have some fun on her own (minus the kids and me) more often.

So, here's hoping she had fun (writing this stuff for later posting is growing confusing!).


So, I spent the night with  the kids. Hannah was tired and went to bed without much fussing at all. S & G watched some cartoons and relaxed while I straightened the kitchen, tried NOT to think about the laundry mountain downstairs, and fiddled around on the Web. Later, I watched Battlestar Galactica and attempted (again) to finish reading Infinite Jest. (I'm VERY close to finishing, but . . . not . . . quite . . . there . . . yet.)


But, let me get Friday morning's gripe off of my chest.

I was driving into work and got stuck in a crawling line of traffic about a block from my office building. Turns out there was an accident at the intersection ahead of me and lanes were merging and slowly mixing with other lanes heading to the Interstate. 

ANYWAY . . . I finally got to the top of the line and was halted by the traffic light. No worries, I'd cross over when the light changed and head on into the building. The two accident cars were directly to my left, blocking the left lane that turned into the crossing road. No one could go straight and all must merge into my lane to head across or turn left. (Got the image in your head? OK, let's move on.)

Now, understanding what I've just explained, you'll now know why I got peeved when a car nonchalantly rolled up to my left, right beneath the wrecked cars. Clearly this dork was unsatisfied waiting in the line behind us all and thought he and he alone deserved to bypass this mess and move on with his life before the rest of us. Nevermind that NO ONE ELSE was in the same lane as him--since we ALL had eyes, functioning cerebellums, and common decency and could recognize about 400 yards back that the left lane was a non-usable lane.

NOPE, this guy deserved to be in front and he even started rolling up to try and merge in front of me when the light turned green. I gunned my car forward, tires slipping on mounded snow to ensure that this princeling wouldn't get in front of me.

I also noted with satisfaction in my rear-view mirror as I crossed the road that he remained sitting there, behind the wreck and the righteous line-waiters passed him by as well.

Served him right.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Is THIS what we think of women?

Look at this commercial for Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs of Oreo Mini Cakesters:

Is this how women should be portrayed? Mindless, shrieking drones who care for nothing more than chocolate--and the important fact that this chocolate is delivered in 100 calorie form, further indicating that women only care about their appearance and diet?
I know that commercials don't exist to portray the truth--far from it, but they do exist to sell and product. And is that how women (presumably?) are to be lured . . . but showing them in a very shallow, unflattering light?
I finally found the OTHER ad that I originally wanted to pair with this one. The product is John Morell's "Off the Bone" carved lunch meat.
In this ad you see an American schmoe who is working on a schmoe-like sandwich. It's sad, wimpy, BORING.
In comes a random Australian dude that the Web site hosting the commercial video calls "Sandwichodile Dundee," who teaches the schmoish, ineffectual girlie-man about the true manly sandwich that he's missing out on. And they proceed to construct a dagwood style sandwich that probably features three-quarters of a pound of thick-cut sandwich meat.
Now . . . I ask you . . . have you EVER, on your own, constructed a sandwich like this? It is a favorite eat of comic character Dagwood Bumstead, but normal people don't eat like this. And, why is the Australian inherently gifted with the knowledge of what constitutes manliness?
It's just a stupid commercial.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A crackling flag day

That is going to be my new idiom for days when the snows come down and the freezing rain makes everything difficult--a Crackling Flag day, for the sound a frozen stiff with ice flag makes as it shifts in the frozen wintry breeze.


Wednesday was one of those raggedy days where I woke up in a surly mood and the hecticness of the remaining hours just drove me further and further into a funk of unhappiness. Bad times.

I knew it was going to be bad weather wise. The weathermen predicted a mix of snow, freezing rain, and more snow. So the driveway had to be shoveled out this morning and what I was pushing around was yesterday evenings inch of snow topped with a half-inch (?) of ice on top. I was gingerly moving my way down the sloping driveway, crunching the icy crust and tossing segments of the ice/snow cake into the yard with a moisture laden thump. But I wasn't in too much of a hurry. The schools were closed today, so the girls were either staying home or going to the daycare for the day.

But when Grace woke up, she appeared to be developing symptoms of pink eye--highly contagious and a notorious daycare no-no. So, I took Hannah to school and Mom hoped to stay home and work (the older kids can usually be trusted to play by themselves and let us do work for stretches when we stay home with them). NOTE: Grace was fine. No pink eye.

The drive to daycare was a harbinger of the rest of the day. The roads were completely unplowed and only filling up more with snow. But it wasn't far from our house to the center, so I drove slowly and made it there in fine shape. When I dropped Hannah off, the teacher indicated they might be closing the center early. So, when I drove back home to switch cars, I told Lynda about that and told her that if the center did close, I would come home from the office to help out.

Then I drove to work.

The roads were fine, really. Not plowed, but semi-cleared by the repetition of other drivers passing over. Again, I drove slowly and made it to work without much trouble. Not many others were on the road as I neared 9 am, but that only made it better. Snow continued to fall. The ice had stopped earlier that morning.

When I got to the office, I saw that almost no one from my department had driven in to work. But it was still only 9 am. Surely people were just driving more slowly? And I didn't have much time to think about it anyway, as I had to turn around in thirty minutes to have my week-after-surgery eye doctor visit. The really unfortunate part about that was that the doctor's office was in downtown Columbus, twenty minutes away, straight down the Interstate. But, I had called ahead and they were open.

So, I did next to nothing at the office, downed some coffee, and got back in the car. The snow was continuing to fall, filling up the parking lot and reducing visibility. I pulled onto the Interstate, successfully driving over the churned up snow that always accumulates in areas where cars turn, cross lanes, and drop their snow piles as inertia shifts. These drifts can be problematic, but if you keep moving and turn slowly, you can plow through them.

Plows . . . yeah, what ABOUT those? Where WERE the plows all day today? If they were busy plowing streets and highways, they weren't anywhere near me. I drove all the way down to downtown C-bus--at about 35 miles an hour--in the semi blinding flurries, guessing where the lanes were and basically staying behind the cars in front of me and not too close to the ones beside me. It was nerve-racking, but necessary. And I got there on time to find a waiting room completely devoid of any other patients.

So, I had my appointment (all good news. I can now go back to my regular eye doctor for final prescription adjustment) and then drove BACK up the still unplowed highway, in more blinding snow to get back to the office. But this time, my windshield wipers were icing up and I couldn't stop on the side of the highway to break off the ice. I also didn't want to pull off the highways into who knew what condition of surface street, afraid I might get stuck somewhere else. I just kept the wheels turning, cranked the defroster to HI/HOT and crouched to see out of the part of the windshield that wasn't becoming frozen. Not the best idea, I grant you, but I was already in the midst of it. And I wasn't driving fast anyway.

It all worked and I got back to the office just in time for lunch--not having accomplished any actual work yet. After lunch, I heard from Lynda that she had just finished reshoveling the driveway and was going to get Hannah from daycare, fearing that the roads would grow worse later in the day. She requested I come home as soon as possible.

So, I made the command decision to turn around and give up on the office. Before I left, however, Lynda called me again to say that when she arrived back at the house, she slid in the driveway and ended up sideways, halfway up. 

 . . . yeah . . .

When I got home, the van was back at the bottom of the driveway and pointed OUT toward the street. She had enlisted the help of two neighbors to right the van somehow. But the icy conditions on our sloping drive caused two people to fall during the van extraction. I cautiously parked on the side of the road and got to work attempting to clear the driveway for use. 

It became clear that the ice was pretty bad. I nearly fell and when I hit the sloping part, I had almost no traction at all. I began sliding and just gave up. I parked both cars at the end of the driveway out of the road and hopefully clear of any plowed, thrown snow. (HA!! See above for the likelihood of that happening, apparently.) Lynda put down some ice melt and we waited.

The older girls played outside in the afternoon for a while until their feet got cold and then they and the neighbor girl came over and made a mess of the house for the rest of the afternoon. I occupied Hannah once she got up from her nap and I reconciled myself to the fact that I was counting this as a vacation day and would NOT get any work done. Lynda tried her best to work, work, work, and catch up while kids played around her. (I kept Hannah in the basement for the most part.) It was a wearying, stressful, difficult afternoon.

Eventually, I got back outside and hacked away at the melted, slushing ice enough to get both cars safely back up the slope and into the garage. (Hopefully we make it back down again tomorrow with no significant difficulty.) I'm mentally done for the day and just want to watch TV.


I noticed during this day that when I get angry and stressed by the unpredictableness of weather, kids out of school, no work getting done, weary of snow-blind driving . . . when I get in this stirred up, surly mood, I try to maintain order. That usually means I start picking up messes and folding laundry. But that usually means I must first stomp around griping about the messes being left by kids who abandon one lump of toys in this room to go play with toys in THAT room and then mutter about all the laundry. THEN I grudgingly start picking stuff up, throwing papers away, folding things, and attempting to make something in an unsettling, flag-cracking day, make sense to me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


One of the shows that I have enjoyed a lot over the last few years is Ron Moore's readaptation of Battlestar Galactica on the Sci-Fi channel.

I've written about the show before, but I am here to confess that my love for it has waned a bit over the last few seasons.

One reason for this is that Sci-Fi, the writers strike, and television economics have all combined to stretch the time between season installments into very long intervals. I have put up with this same thing with LOST, but the ABC show has maintained my interest throughout and I've been motivated to stay engaged.

I still like BSG quite a lot and I always recognize the complexity of the show (as well as it's absolute superiority over the 1970s version, that I was a fan of at the time also).

Why then, has my ardor for this complex, quality show slipped?

I think it is because the plot, shifting as it has from the merciless pursuit/evasion pattern that was established in Season 1 has eventually changed into struggles over political issues, alliances and betrayals by factions of Cylons, and the perplexing changes in the character of Gaius Baltar.

He was so twisted, complicated, and bizarre for the first half of the series run, but since he morphed into a quasi-religious figure, I've lost my hold on what his point is anymore. He used to be someone racked with guilt for his part played in humanity's destruction, combined with his mysterious/insane relationship/vi sons with the Six model. Now, he's more human, more explainable, and less compelling.

But there are eight more shows to go before it is all wrapped up and over with. Ron Moore and the Sci Fi team have shown that they are quite adept at creating great television out of something that was (shall we say) less than quality. So, I have hopes that all will be done well.

I'll be watching anyway, so I guess they have already won, right?


To wrap this theme up in a bow of crazy, please read this story about how bitter are the grapes eaten by Dirk Benedict (Starbuck of the original BSG).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Every family has their own strategy for spreading out household chores and getting the kids involved in the tasks.

Here is ours . . . after much trial and error and plenty of false starts.

Originally, we created a "chore chart," one for Sarah and Grace. The chores were divided into morning tasks and evening task and encompassed such things as:

  • make your bed
  • brush your hair
  • brush your teeth
  • put dirty clothes down laundry chute

Other chores that occurred in the evening and especially on the weekend included:

  • put away clean clothes
  • clean up your room
  • set dinner table
  • hang up coat

Every chore was to be accompanied by a pictorial representation of the task and each girl would move their Velcroed pictures around as needed to indicate that they had done the task.

It was an excellent plan. All that was required was completion of the chart. And we almost got there too . . .

Pictures were taken, printed out, laminated (for durability), charts were also laminated, columns drawn, names affixed . . . and then it just sort of stopped. Maybe I didn't have all the pictures taken. Maybe we ran out of Velcro circles. Maybe the charts were too small and needed to be redrawn. Maybe we just couldn't decide where to hang it all. It just ground to a halt in the eleventh hour.

Still, the chores were accomplished, even without the pictorial chart. It involved lots of verbal reminders and reminders and restatements and reminders. But they figured out some things that became mostly automatic and there are some things that maybe Lynda and I have let slide.


Recently, however, Lynda has begun anew. The chart idea hasn't been reborn. She has just put her foot down and made evening dinner-related chores become part of the expected routine. What we have told them and enforced is that one person is responsible for setting the table or helping cook dinner--putting out plates, napkins, silverware, glasses. The person who does not help set the table or cook dinner must help the other parent clean up--clearing the dirty dishes, loading the dishwasher, wiping down the table, helping wash and rinse the pots and pans.

There was the expected amount of grumbling and mumbling for the first few weeks, but recently things have gelled into a nice, communal work flow where everyone participates and the work gets done more quickly and more equitably.

It gives me a good feeling.

Monday, January 26, 2009

About cookies

But not the computer-type cookies, rather about the Girl Scout kind of cookies.

A few weeks ago I blogged about Sarah's foray into the world of Scout cookie sales.

She did just fine, thanks to the appetites and charitable feelings of many coworkers and family members. All Lynda and I did was put the form out and people happily (I hope?) purchased. I didn't even have to resort to placing a beseeching photo of Sarah pleading for assistance.

And so, now, I must report the statistical results and make snarky comments (if such comments come to mind). Because, well . . . what is a blog for?

(And I'm utilizing my new HTML table-making skill--such as it is.)

Cookie Sale breakdown

Lemon Chalet Cremes7 boxes soldWould they sell better in Switzerland?
Trefoils9 boxes soldShortbread appeals to some; Girl Scout logo appeals to rest?
Do-Si-Dos14 boxes soldCheerful name, average sales
Samoas15 boxes soldI'm surprised that more of these weren't sold. My favorites! Big sellers in Pacific Ocean?
Dulce De Leche8 boxes soldAffirmative Action sales?
Sugar Free Chocolate Chip0 boxes soldDiet food FAIL!
Tagalongs13 boxes soldNot worried about salmonella, huh?
Thin Mints38 boxes soldWhy so popular? Sure, they're good, but . . .

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Town Terrace memories

If James Lileks and I were friends, I would surely have informed him about The Town Terrace, a 1950s style motor court in my hometown of Tifton, Georgia.

The Town Terrace has been around since before I was born. It earned its mid-century decor the honest way. The rumor that surrounded the place was that the widowed owner of the place, Violet Van Gundy, used to play Darla of Little Rascals fame when she was a young girl in the 1930s.

It turns out that rumor was partially correct, if this newspaper article is any indication.

I think Mr. Lileks would really enjoy the Town Terrace, and might even want to put it in his Web page on similar hotels of the era. He does have a Georgia section, but it doesn't feature this particular place.

But I have my own reasons for liking The Town Terrace. It was my home for approximately a month and a half during the summer of 1995. You can read all about it here. (Ultimately, this is the whole point of this entire series of links and posts, so please make sure that you read this one at least. Thanks.)

Maybe I'll let Lileks know about the place. And if he likes it, perhaps I can tell him about another place I know that fits a different Web site of his. But that is another post at another time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

365 days and counting

Hannah, you were one-year-old yesterday. Congratulations on getting through might be both the most difficult and the easiest year of your entire life.

Certainly, year one is confusing. You are brought forth into a world you didn't ask for and have no context within. You are bombarded with stimuli and sensations that are nothing but confusing for hour upon hour, day upon day. Everything is unknown and all is a challenge. But you have been resilient and bore up against the strain and madness with a determined force that will grow and develop into a unique perspective and life that all around you will benefit to know.

And on the other hand, this first year is also your easiest. All your needs are met--much more so than at any time thereafter, let me tell you. You are enveloped with unconditional love and admiration from all sides. Even the slightest success on your part is held up for extravagant praise. You can do no wrong and what you need is always what is taken care of.

You have grown to recognize those around you who mean the most to you. The tall thing with the soft voice, the warm embrace, and pleasing smell is Mother. She is always there for you, immediately ready to lift you up, sing your praises, and steer you in the right direction. Mother will lay down her life, her work, and her all for your needs. Remember her and honor her today and for every day thereafter.

The Quiet One Who Plays With You Quietly is Sister 1. She is protective of you and watches you. She understands how to meet you where you are, but can challenge you in ways that stretch your abilities. She has a happy laugh and a quick smile all for you whenever you need it. She talks back to you in ways that you understand.

The Quick One With the Energy is Sister 2. She loves you so much and is always excited to show you what to do. She will be your fiercest protector as you get older and will share all that she knows with you. I can see you two becoming friends for many years. She will surround you with energy and vibrant love that will take your breath away.

The Tall One with the Loud Voice is Daddy. Sometimes he is quietly watching you but he will challenge you to take on new discoveries. If you want to, Daddy will hold you safe and tell you secrets that no one else can hear. He loves to make you smile and feel best when he hears you laugh. You are given permission to crawl all over him . . . as long as he gets to flip you upside down whenever he wants. He will always be there for you.

You have many years ahead of you and lots more to learn and see. These people with you will be there to share those experiences. With us you can always be yourself. We've known you from the beginning and we will be with you until the end.

(To see a video of the birthday girl enjoying her birthday cupcake, click here.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Eye opening video (w/ afternoon update)

I thought about naming this video "Yes, eye can!" but I chose against it.

Also, today is Hannah's birthday.

Happy First Birthday Hannah! (I'll write more on that subject later today.)

12:30 pm UPDATE: I just got back from the eye doctor post operative visit. Lynda took me back downtown and brought me home. The metal shield and the bandages are now removed and I can see out of my newly-constructed right eye.
It's all very good news. If I close my left eye and only rely on the right eye, I can now see quite clearly. Before the surgery, using only my faulty right eye, things were extremely blurry and fuzzy. I had no ability to see distinct shapes with clear, defined edges. Now I can see everything as you normally would expect.
When I did the typical "read the letters on the wall" eye exam, things were also dramatically improved. Before surgery, using the faulty eye,I could only see one letter projected on the screen at something like 50 point font--pretty large. Just an hour ago I could read with almost complete accuracy, a series of letters several clicks down the scale at something closer to 8 or 9 point font--MUCH smaller.
Whether this means I don't NEED glasses to correct my overall vision is not yet determined. I need to let my eye continue to heal and settle into its final state before I go back to my regular eye doctor and determine what my new eye prescription will become. And even if I stabilize at 20/20 vision, I'll still use glasses to provide the prism that helps adjust my double-vision problem. But it could significantly reduce the cost of glasses for the future?
I still will need to wear some sort of clear shield while sleeping and showering for the next week or two and I must be careful about bending at the waist and picking up heavy objects to avoid straining the eye. But it is clear that things are MUCH improved and I am well pleased.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I can see clearly now?

I've had plenty of surgeries before today.

I've had orthopedic surgery on both of my legs when I was twelve (or thirteen?) and another orthopedic surgery on my left foot a few years later.

I've had surgery on my right eye.

I've had abdominal surgery.

And today I've got cataract surgery on that troublesome left eye again.

I'm not worried about it. 

I got up this morning to eat breakfast (toast and black coffee) before the 6:30 am cutoff for food. And I realized that the laundry has piled up this week, so I sorted and began another load in the washing machine. But there are two folded stacks that need to get put away later, if I am feeling up to it.

Lynda will be home with me today to bring me back, keep an eye on me, and probably do work this afternoon.

I've still got LOST reactions to post, but that'll have to come later.

See you soon!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Breaking News: LOST premiere tonight

Yeah, I know . . . you already know this if you've been around me lately.

But I needed a reason to have two posts today, prior to tonight's three-hour event.

Hour 1: (8 pm) The now traditional (and mockable) "recap" episode that attempts to catch you up on the twists and turns and blind alleys and UN of characters for the past four years. All in 45 minutes! Probably complete with cheesy voiceover introductions. If you have to miss something, miss this first hour.

Hour 2: (9 pm) The first episode of Season 5 begins. I won't go into plot because I don't have that kind of time now and because I've avoided spoilers. I can tell you the episode is called "Because You Left."

Hour 3: (10 pm) The SECOND episode of Season 5 will be shown. It is entitled "The Lie."

I'll be Twittering my thoughts later in the night as I watch, but it'll probably be delayed since I am scheduled to attend a bible study group tonight and might not get back home until 9:30. Which means I'll have to wait until 11 pm to begin watching and won't go to bed until 1 am?

And I've got eye surgery tomorrow morning.


Maybe I can talk Lynda into letting me stay home from group tonight?

Well, anyway, just enjoy and you'll catch up to what I'm writing later.

Because of the surgery and whatever else is happening tonight, Thursday's post might not be up at 7 am. But I'll find time to post something before the day is over. I can't let my streak end now.

Inauguration thoughts & other stuff

The cafeteria was uninhabitable on Tuesday due to the water pipe break that I mentioned from Friday. So people were spread throughout the building at TVs watching the Inauguration ceremonies.

I stayed at my desk so that I could continue to field any project-related emails (Inauguration-related, don'tcha know) and write and rewrite lists of tasks that needed completion. And I loaded the C-SPAN streaming video on my work computer to keep track of what was happening in Washington.

Of course, the video . . . buffered . . . skipped . . . wasn't . . . continuous . . . but what was I to do? I managed to get reliable audio and so I imagined that I was back in 1933, listening to Franklin Delano Roosevelt get inaugurated for the second time. I don't REALLY need the video imagery do I? Radio was good enough for the Greatest Generation, so I think I can hack it.


1. Should John Williams get paid money for his "original composition" when we basically ripped of Aaron Copeland throughout? I question . . .

2. Chief Justice Roberts screwed up the oath!!!! That was extremely disjointed?! Does it count?

3. Whoops! 44 Americans have NOT taken the oath of office, Mr. President. It's just been taken 44 times. Gotta remember those who were REELECTED.
[UPDATE on my stupidity--I am, of course, wrong on both counts and I choose to keep this factoid of stupidity in my blog to point out that in the heat of the moment, I incorrectly jumped to the wrong conclusion. Surely, such a thing has never happened in the history of blogging! Mr. Obama was correct that 44 Americans have taken the oath, because any history book (or web site) can tell you that he is the 44th president . . . signified by the fact that he took the oath. ALSO, I was additionally wrong to state that the oath has been taken 44 times. In fact, it has been taken 56 times for each of the Inauguration ceremonies.]

4. Alright, start out dire and eventually bring the HOPE?!!

5. Is this the firs time "bitter swill" has been used in an Inauguration speech? I think so.

6. He wrapped up on a high. And I didn't do a good job. Sorry everyone. I'm multi-tasking badly. Listening to speech, reading/answering emails, and blogging reactions are not working cohesively. Mostly I'm half-listening and not blogging at all.

Now I've got to locate a decent public-use video of the speech and a transcript of the words.
Now that the pomp is out of the way, we can move on to other stuff. Everyone will start judging Barack to see if he reshaped the world in 100 days, to see if the First Kids do something embarrassing at Sidwell Friends, and to mercilessly harp on First Lady Michelle for her clothing choices and hairstyles.
And we'll ignore that to celebrate two items:
1. The return of LOST, season 5 is TONIGHT!!!!!! I am so, SO glad. Here is today's parody video that in no way, shape, or form, helps you get ready for the Wednesday night premiere.
Also there is this . . .
2. The eminent release of WATCHMEN. [SPOILER ALERT!!] Here is the link to the official movie site. The photo at the top of this image is a melding of the now famous Obama poster and Rorschach, a character in Watchmen. For all other Watchmen information, check out this Wikipedia entry on everything.
Well, that's it for today's random posts. I'll possibly Twitter my LOST reactions as I go tonight, so check that out. Or come over and watch it with me, if you're in the area.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

LOST is almost here . . .

. . . but if you haven't been keeping up for the past few years (or if you bailed out a while ago), then how can you hope to start now or come back in?

Well, there are lots of recaps of the previously aired episodes. It'll take lots of page loads and screen-reading, but it might be faster than watching.

If you can borrow a friends Seasons 1-4 DVDs you can cherry pick the most important episodes or scenes to remind yourself of what happened in the past.

Or you can watch some satirical videos that might give you advice.

To wit:

Or you could just call me up and I'll walk you through the whole thing . . . or at least I'll try.

I'll do whatever I can to make sure everyone slightly interested gets the chance to enjoy.

Yeah, I'm THAT committed.

(h/t to Dr. Arzt's LOST blog for the original heads up on the video.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Why did I choose to do 365 posts?!!

Surely I was either stupid or New Year's Eve drunk when I concocted this foolhardy plan to do 365 posts--one per day mind you--for 2009.

Boy, was THAT a stupid idea.

And still I'll try to soldier on. Its gone pretty well so far in January . . . until Sunday night. Trying to think of something for Monday's delivery has been difficult, mostly because I just want to sit and do nothing. Heck, I don't even want to sit down and try to do some of the work that I brought home with me this weekend. It's the curse of the Long Weekend. I feel the overwhelming desire to moss over and do as little as I can get away with.

Still, I'm going to work tomorrow, in part because there is work to be done and because it's going to be a (further) shortened work week for me anyway. My cataract surgery is coming up on Thursday and I'll be out of the office on Friday for recuperation. I hope I don't miss a day during this time, because it might provide me with something to write about. But that will come later this week.

I DID have another plan for the subject of today's post, but I am hesitant to post it. I'm embarrassed by it really. You see, Facebook has reconnected me with many old college friends and I've had that part of my memory reawakened a bit. So I've been digging through old photo albums and other stuff to remind me of that crazy (not so crazy for me, necessarily, but I did witness some crazy stuff) time. And I've found old essay written for classes.

All of this demands more time and detail that I am willing to give tonight, but I might delve into it at a later point. But whatever comes out of it, I'm sure it will involve me providing embarrassing stuff about me at a younger age. Embarrassing photos, embarrassing choices, embarrassing thoughts. But I was younger then. Must I judge my younger self by what I am now?

Anyway, here is an old video of the kids playing on a weekend. It'll help round out the last of this post.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Island versus Force

Last week while I was watching Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope with Grace, I realized that Josh Holloway's portrayal of "Sawyer" on LOST depends a lot on Harrison Ford's wisecracking Han Solo performance.

Therefore, in honor of the Wednesday's arrival of LOST's season 5 premiere, I present this suggestion on which LOST character equals which Star Wars character.

[PLEASE click on the left and right columns with the character names. I spent about an hour painstakingly linking bio pages on each LOST character and each STAR WARS character. And it will help you prepare for the some of the details on LOST as Wednesday night approaches.]

LOST versus Star Wars

Sawyerwisecracking ladies manHan Solo
Jackheadstrong leader full of conflicts and daddy issuesAnakin Skywalker
Katelady that bounces between two lovesLeia
Benvillainous guy once good, then bad, maybe good again?Darth Vader
Lockenaive follower in search of true selfLuke
Hurleyhairy sidekick loved by fansChewbacca
Sayiddark-skinned; sinister past; torture happens aroundLando
Charlieshort; sometimes annoying; ultimately saves the dayEwok
"Jacob"ghost that likes to give ordersObi Wan Kenobi
Shannonwhiner; golden-colored (hair)C-3PO
Dr. Arztwisecracker; tries to save day; often failsR2-D2
Nikki & Paulouniversal source of fan hatredJar Jar Binks
Marvin Candle/Edgar Halliwax/Pierre Changold guy full of mostly questions, few answersYoda
Clairemother of prophesy-tainted childShmi Skywalker

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I'm not sure why I persist in thinking that I am done with the laundry.

Laundry is never done. It is simply in varying degrees of a mess.


Usually the Mess that I can Live With is a moderate pile sitting in the basement basket under the chute, alongside neatly sorted baskets of colors, whites, and towels/sheets awaiting their cleansing spin. And that sits down there unseen by me most of the time.

The Mess that Bothers Me is the basement basket pile that has grown during the week, piling itself ever higher, defying gravity above the lip of the receiving basket, creating slopes and sliding arms like Richard Dreyfus carving a mountain of mashed potatoes.

When I see this, I have to sort and begin washing.

And that is fine and good until I make the crucial mistake of thinking I am DONE. I do a few loads, carry them upstairs, put those clean clothes away and say DONE.

But then I go downstairs, see a new pile sitting in the basket, unsorted, unclean. I am NOT DONE. 

Wash, spin, sit, fold, sort, hang.

Until I go down again . . .

Hurray, its 4 degrees outside. Feel that warmth!

When the kids got in the car to head off to work/daycare today (school was closed due to superfreaking cold temperatures), they counted down the in-van temperature as the digits fell:



















. . . and then it held steady.

Yeah, really cold.

But then your body adjusts and you move on.

Inside the office, where no one cares what the temperature is, work continued.

There was a new development during the lunch hour, however. I was consulting on one of my ongoing projects down on the second floor when the fire alarm went off. I cringed for two (or maybe three) reasons:

1. The buzzing alarm is extremely loud and there seems to be a speaker about every ten feet.
2. Fire alarms mean everyone has to go outside until the ALL CLEAR. (And remember that it was super cold!)
3. Through the oddities of chance, I am a Fire Warden--which means that I am partially responsible for checking to see that everyone follows the evacuation plan. I get a bright red trucker hat as the symbol of my authority and a walkie talkie that I don't really know how to use properly.

So, I had to go back upstairs--use the stairs rather than the elevator, please--and get my coat--it's COLD outside--and collect my walkie--to find out when we are allowed to head back in.

But it was a bit different this time. I saw some people actually looking concerned and walking fast, so I got the feeling that something might really be up this time. Eventually, I checked the rows, had my gear, and was heading downstairs. But people were already coming back upstairs at this point. The ALL CLEAR had been announced from outside, I guess, while I was competently protecting my colleagues.

What happened was this. Apparently, due to the very cold weather, a water main in the cafeteria broke and water was pouring onto the floor. That was bad enough but there was a concerning smell that made witnesses fear that it was worse than just water (turned out later it wasn't, but no one knew that at the time).

In the end, all was well, but it was an unexpected turn of events.

And no, I still didn't get out there to take some pictures of the snow. Because, really, it's just snow and you've all seen it before. Now, if I can find a way to keep my garage door from freezing shut, I'll be just fine tomorrow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another memory of the recent holiday

It seems like I stared at a flickering screen all day Thursday. And that's mostly because I did.

When I got home, I REALLY didn't feel like working much at all.

But I did.

What this all means for you is that I didn't have much energy to write a detailed blog post for Friday delivery.

Luckily, I have some leftover holiday travel video to share. (As I type this now, it is minus 2 degrees outside and my feet are cold. When this video was made, I was probably wearing short sleeves and might have been a bit warm.)


Grace invents a new game.

Can you guess what the rules are?

Nope, neither could I.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Speed the Plow

What is the play "Speed the Plow" about anyway?


It surely isn't about a Midwestern capital city (and its suburban satellite cities) that overreact to a perfectly acceptable level of January snow and begin cancelling things left and right is it? Oh, wait, no, that was my Wednesday afternoon.


You would think, would you not, that a city firmly within the North and not at all unaccustomed to the actuality of frozen precipitation in the depths of calendric winter would be able to live with the weather patterns that define it. But for reasons that I'll speculate on later, it seems that Capital City mid-Ohio is not willing to live with its meteorological lot in life and insists on thinking that it is Hawaii or something like that.

Let me begin near the beginning . . .

Today, at least, the weathermen got it right. They had forecast up to four inches of snow throughout Wednesday as the temperature dropped into the single digits. And snow it did, building up while I was at work this morning. There was about three inches of snow on the ground by noon and a steady but not overwhelming snowfall continued throughout the day.

But at lunch, Lynda leans over to me and asked if I had heard that the local city schools were going to be closing an hour early to allow kids to get home before roads got worse. I said that no, I had not heard anything because . . . well, it was only three or so inches of snow. That isn't blizzard level is it? But, when I got back to my desk after lunch I checked the school's Web site and, yes, indeed, kids were being released an hour early.

Again, I just don't understand. It is SUPPOSED to snow up here. My taxes pay for the plows that are supposed to keep the streets passable in all but severe storms--and this is NOT a severe storm. Additionally, we are talking about suburban schools that are on local roads, surrounded by houses. We aren't out in the Ohio hinterland where plows are few and far between and roads can indeed become treacherous.

But, I can't fight city hall--especially on only one hour's notice. So, I packed up my work bag, my laptop, and my anger and headed home with the kids. The roads were nicely plowed and quite drivable. I saw one accident near the daycare but it HAD to have been due to stupidity, not the weather. People just don't respect the necessity of driving cautiously--even in the simplest of weather changes.


Once I got home I shoveled the two-and-a-half or three inches of snow accumulated in the driveway. And I had to do it again after dinner to clear out the another inch-and-a-half that fell during the afternoon.

There is something oddly satisfying about having a shoveled driveway. It is yet another status marker in suburbia. Because my house's driveway is on a slope, I have to be vigilant about keeping it clean, lest the slippery angle make it hard to get from the road to the garage. So I might shovel mine more often than others do, but even so, you look askance at an unshoveled driveway in the winter, just as you look down your nose at unmowed grass in the summer.

And besides, the sharp edges of the piled up snow drifts on either side of a shoveled driveway and along a sidewalk bespeaks an orderly house. (Perhaps it also tickles that former part of me that studied archaeology and attended field school during college.)

So, my driveway is clean and ready to freeze over a hard as a skating rink tonight. If my garage door motor doesn't freeze itself shut tomorrow, I'll be at work on time.


One more significant complaint about the schools being released early today. When I got Sarah from elementary school, she informed me that the kids went to a play today . . . during the morning hours . . . while the snow was falling thickest . . . to downtown Columbus!

What about safety? What about weather conditions? W . . . T . . . F!!!

Now I'm moving on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Richard Montelban died on Wednesday.

Fans of Fantasy Island and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan are sad today . . . as are, of course Montelban's family, friends, and colleagues.

Why did Tom Cruise break his winter hibernation to strike down the man behind Khan Noonien Singh and the voice of Kim Possible's Senor Senior, Sr.? Well, I believe it was because of Tropic Thunder.

You see, in Tropic Thunder, Cruise received rave reviews for his energetic and vulgar portrayal of movie studio executive producer Les Grossman. Cruise was so pleased by this outpouring of Hollywood happiness.

But then came the lukewarm acceptance of Valkyrie, Cruise's holiday Nazi flick. (Because nothing says Happy Holidays like Good Nazis trying to eradicate Hitler.) Cruise was angry that his latest Kampf was NOT so well received.

And so he slipped into his murderous fugue state, which in this case hearkened back to his most recent successful part--studio executive.

And what movie studio released Tropic Thunder?

Why, the same studio that released Montelban's signature role as genetics overlord/Kirk-bane, Paramount Pictures.

The Dream--Described

Tonight, it's not about MY dreams but about The Dream.


Tuesday night at dinner, I was talking to Lynda, discussing how I expected to work this coming Monday (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) to help wrap up a work project that is coming (partially) to a close next week. I also noted that I would probably be working late next Tuesday to get final items finished.

But when I mentioned Martin Luther King, Jr., Grace piped up: "I've heard of him! I've heard of Martha Louffa King! I read a book about him at school and it said that without him my friend D___ would go to a different school than me!"

She said this with frank disbelief in her voice, as if she simply could not conceive of a reason why she and her friend D____ would be in different schools for any reason.

Sarah asked if Grace had ever heard of Rosa Parks. (Grace had not.) Sarah then explained that one day Rosa Parks got on the bus and later a white man told her to get up but since she was tired she refused to get up and go to the back. And she got thrown in jail for it. And Sarah said, "And he told people not to fight back but do be peaceful!"

I asked Grace if she understood WHY Martin Luther King, Jr. worked so hard. (She didn't know.) I told her that it was because he and Rosa Parks believed that they didn't think they were any different than anyone else because of their skin color and so they should not be treated any differently.

Sarah chimed in again and said not only that, but a long time ago black people were slaves and they had to do what white people said and if they refused then they were whipped! (She said this with frank disbelief in her voice.) Grace couldn't believe this bit of news.

At the end of our conversation Grace said: "I'm SO GLAD that Martha Louffa King worked SO HARD, because I WOULDN'T BELIEVE IT if D____ couldn't go to MY SCHOOL!!!"

In statements like these, multiplied by the thousands over countless families, can we someday achieve a post-racial world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why Won't You Chimp?!

(If I play my cards right, maybe I can be as famous as Bruce Vilanch. )

Let me explain.

Monday at lunch, one of my coworkers mentioned that she ha recently seen Space Chimps with her kids. I immediately (and quite sensibly, I think) said that I would NEVER go see a movie with chimps in it. "The last movie I saw," I said, "that featured chimps was Project X and that was good mostly because of Helen Hunt." "Nevermore," I stated flatly "would I see a chimp movie."

"Even if that chimp movie was the just a really good movie that had a chimp in it."

And thus it began.

My work friends then spent the next fifteen or twenty minutes reworking the titles of just about every movie we could think of

Top Chimp

Return of the Chimp

The Good, the Bad, and the Chimp

The Remains of the Chimp

You get the idea. (It might not sound funny now--I don't know--but it was REALLY funny at the time. Perhaps you have to hear the chimpified titles and immediately image the newly configured image.)

But here's the larger point I'm trying to make.

Wouldn't this make a GREAT opening bit at the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony? Every awards show starts with a montage of the Best Picture movies. Well, imagine replacing Slumdog Millionaire with Slumchimp Millionaire. How about The Curious Case of Benjamin Chimp? Or maybe Chimp/Nixon? And who wouldn't go see Chimp After Reading? They could even make it more impressive by digitally replacing a character with a chimp. So, instead of Brad Pitt aging backwards, you get an "actor" who goes from this to this.

ANYWAY . . . I need to pitch my idea to the aforementioned Bruce Vilanch. I think he is still the guy that writes many of what passes for "jokes" during the Oscar broadcast. I think this idea is a winner.
And if no one will go for that . . . then a full scale, live version of this item will be almost as good:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Modern Bowling

This weekend the girls and I have been bowling (both virtually and in reality).

I have recently achieved a promotion to PRO in Wii bowling, but as my skills are inconsistent, I frequently slip below and above cut line. Once Sarah realized that such a goal could be achieved (with a fancy looking new bowling ball), she set out to achieve it with determination.

Grace found that she enjoys Wii Sports (Golf) and is surprisingly good at the Beginners Level. I was extremely proud of her on Saturday when she rammed home a sloping putt from about fifteen feet away. I shouted in glee and she gave me a very proud look, immediately coming over to get a hug. It is nice when we can celebrate with each other.

As a result of all this "sports" action, and because the weather has gotten colder and they were inside more, they asked if they could go bowling for real. So, on Sunday I took them across town to an alley that wasn't infested with league play and actually allowed regular human bowlers to participate before the sun went down.

I've been to this particular bowling alley before, but it's been a while. They have done a nice job of sprucing the place up and this is the first alley I've visited in years that didn't smell at all like smoke.

As is true of all bowling alleys now, paper scoring has been replaced by computerized calculating screen with animation between frames. While this is certainly eye-catching and fun, I feel the art of actual hand scoring is being lost. And what was so hard about it anyway? But never mind.

Oddly, for all the modernizations in today's bowling alleys, the hold onto the decorative styles of the past remains strong. Here is what I mean:

(I apologize in advance for the poor quality of most of this pictures. My camera phone is not very swanky and you're just going to have to work with me.)

Here is a picture looking down the lane we used. You can see the distinctive diamond-shaped pattern that spells BOWL above the lane as well as being reflected in the wood below. Now, nothing says Fifties Bowling more than this diamond pattern . . . except for the next two images. (And yes, Grace picked up the spare here.)

This blurry fellow was on the large wall that paralleled the lanes to my right. He looks like he's a happy-go lucky Joe enjoying his night out with his pals from the sales team. Sure Kitten is at home cleaning up the pot roast dinner and getting Alice and Mike to sleep, but it's real nice to put away the gray flannel and slip into the swanky red pants, white bowling shoes, and navy blue bowling shirt. He deserves this, dontcha think? At least the weekly bowling helps him forget the nightmares he sometimes gets about trying to land that balky P-51 on the swaying deck of an aircraft carrier when he damn near out of fuel and one of the engines is threatening to quit on him . . .

Now Jane here is the kind of girl that Joe on the opposite wall saw painted on the nosecones of B-17 back in the Pacific. She's got a no-nonsense attitude, fills out that dress, and wears those bobby socks with a certain air that says "I handled a rivet gun once upon a time fly boy and I know what I'm doing!" Joe likes that kind of confidence in a lady. And he likes watching her pick up that 7-10 split (if you know what I mean). Anyway, Jane likes to get out with her girlfriends now and then to show the boys she can enjoy herself too. Life isn't all about pot roast and pearls.


You get my ham-handed point, right? Even here in 2009, we still view bowling through the decorative eyes of the Greatest Generation and the post war abundance that made bowling so popular. Is it the distinctive diamond shaped font treatment? Is it the starburst fireworks things that you can clearly see around Jane (and would see beside Joe if that hadn't turned out so blurry)?

Don't get me wrong. I like a lot of that decoration, as any habitual reader of James Lileks must, but it just got me thinking.

BTW, I have my own bowling ball, bequeathed to me from a very nice man that was a member of the first church we joined here in Ohio when we moved. For all I know, he first bought it during this flowering time of post war bowling. His initials BWB are engraved on the ball, below the finger holes.

I have always said that the BWB stood for Bowling W. Ball.

Seems appropriate.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

CSI: Brady Bunch

Here's a story
'bout a man named David. 
Who was living with four very lovely girls. 
All of them had hair of (goldish) brown, 
like their mother, 
the middle one with curls.

So, as you might have guessed, Friday night's dream involved (to some degree) The Brady Bunch.

Here's how it happened.

In my dream, I was trying to convince someone that The Brady Bunch was set in the San Francisco area. To support my opinion, I cited an episode (which might have been completely dream-based) in which some of the older Brady kids were driving from their home through the Bay area streets and they visited a shopping area near the wharfs.

(Now that I think about it, the "wharf set" was kind of similar to how they used to portray similar wharves on Days of Our Lives, but the less said about that, the better.)

Anyway, I'm describing how during this visit to the wharf, the Brady kids encountered a "crazy wharf lady" that is a weird combination of a sea hag and the crazy prospector character played by Jim Bachus when The Brady Bunch Goes West. As I'm describing this episode, suddenly I'm inside the episode as a ghostly observer, watching Marcia and Jan drive a totally groovy convertible to the wharf, exclaiming over something in a shop window which the Wharf Hag mutters in the background, and then they move on.

But my dream camera stays on the Hag as the Brady portion of the dream comes to an abrupt end. Now the Hag is listening to the whispered conversation of two military men who walk by describing the secret midnight test of a new gas dispersal weapon that is scheduled for this very night! The orb-like device will fly through the target area, releasing its toxic gas and killing everyone the gas comes into contact with. The military guys are unconcerned that the Wharf Hag is in the area because she is obviously crazy and not to be trusted if she tries to blow the whistle on their rogue, anti-Constitutional actions.

The scene shifts to an anonymous dude driving a white pickup truck down a highway at night. He doesn't know it, but he's about to be the focus of the rest of the dream. For as he stops his truck by the side of the road, the gas dispersing orb floats by at ankle level, silently trailing its deadly gas. When truck-driving dude opens his door and places his foot down on the ground, bathing his ankle in the lingering gas, he seals his fate.

He drives on, but the gas begins to take effect. His death is slow and hard to understand. The gas doesn't eat his flesh or cause him to bleed. He just slows loses control of his vision, his breathing, and ability to control the truck. He swerves back and forth on the road, narrowly missing a big tree here and there and then jumps the road, going into a suburban neighborhood. His truck barrels through a backyard and then the truck tips. 

Sloooowly, ever so slowly (is my dream camera running in slo motion?) the truck tilt, slams on the driver-side door and slides across the grass.

Cut to early morning as the police investigate the dead man and the wrecked truck.

Up stroll Gil Grissom and NotWarrick from the CBS #1 scripted drama CSI. (It was at this point when Lynda interjected "You watch TOO MUCH TV!" as I described the dream to her on Saturday.) Grissom and NotWarrick are obviously here to determine how this truck driver died in such as unusual way, lending all of their forensic science and observational acumen to the task.

As is usual, Grissom soon determines that the guy died of some kind of gas poisoning and also deduces that the military must be behind it all. Unfortunately for him, the Rogue Military guys are also assisting in the investigation, standing around in the crowd that mills around the wrecked backyard.

In sped up dream time, we see that the military guys quickly begin seeding doubt about how Grissom figured this out so quickly. Could he, famous forensic investigator, Gil Grissom, they wonder publicly and suggestively, be behind the gas attack?

The other gullible investigators quickly agree that Grissom MUST be the perp and they quickly clap him in handcuffs. Grissom, in his buddhist-like way accepts their suspicions with equanimity and tells Not Warrick to keep going with the investigation. The evidence will soon enough clear him of all suspicion and the true killers will be identified.

And that is when the dream ended.

What does it all mean? Should I have been watching more CSI these past three years?

Well, I think it means I'm psychic because on Saturday, when I slid my way down the driveway slope the mailbox, I discovered this issue of Entertainment Weekly waiting for me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

CF ya later

Friday night as the pizza was baking in the oven, I doomed our planet to some sort of WALL-E, futuristic, detritus-laden nightmare.

It wasn't by refusing to recycle the cardboard box that the frozen pizza came in. It wasn't by keeping the car running in the garage to keep it warm in case I had to run an errand. It wasn't even by creating a rudimentary bowling alley out of empty plastic water bottles.

Nope, I simply wrote regular light bulbs on the white board grocery list hanging in our kitchen.
Why didn't I write compact fluorescent light bulbs instead? Well, to put it simply, I've grown to dislike them more and more.

Sure, they are supposed to last longer. And they are supposed to demand more energy, reducing our energy consumption and making the world a better place. But (at least in this house) they don't work with the type of reliability that I would like. 

Meaning, when I flip the switch in a room that features a ceiling fixture using a CF bulb, sometimes, the fixture doesn't turn on. At least five times in the last year I've replaced a burned out Edison bulb (as I am now choosing to call the non-CF kind) with a CF and very soon afterward, the fixture begins flickering or simply won't operate.

I don't think I'm taxing the socket with inappropriate amperes or wattage or whatnot. I admit that I'm not quite sure WHAT I'm doing wrong. I just know that the CF bulbs aren't reliable in our home.

So, if I want illumination, I've gotta go with the Edison bulbs--deadly though they may be.

Unfortunately, since I hadn't committed myself to such Luddite tendencies until today, we didn't HAVE any spare Edison bulbs when I endeavored to replace the burned out bulbs in the office space this morning. So, I had to cannibalize the hall closet and one of the torchiere lamps in the TV room to make it possible to type this post under something other than candle light.

And as a result, my grocery list is now a weapon of mass destruction.

Friday, January 09, 2009


Hello all you fans of LOST! It’s been a while, and we’ve got less than two weeks to go before the premiere of Season 5. There are mild SPOILERS that follow for anyone who hasn't watched LOST and for some reason decided to wait until the entire series was completed and wanted to watch every episode in a continuous marathon that lasts (oh, I don't know) a week and a half.

You have been sarcastically warned.

One of the gifts I purchased with Christmas $$ was the Season 4 DVDs of LOST. I've been watching them here and there, especially at night to stave off that horrible desire to work in the evening hours once the children are nestled snug in their beds.

Last night I watched “Meet Kevin Johnson” (the return of Michael episode) on my Season 4 DVDs, it struck me anew how compressed the timeline on the show has been. I had lost track of it since the show itself is four years old but the time on the island is barely more (?) than four MONTHS old.

As best I can figure without actually taking the extra time to verify all of this on the Lostpedia or The Fuselage or over at Doc Artz or wherever LOST fans hang out these days. . . .

--Plane crashes on September 21, 2004. (or is it 22nd?)

--Michael is released by Ben (end of Season 2) which is roughly early to mid November, 2004. In “Meet Kevin Johnson” his mother says to the distraught Michael that “he had disappeared for two months.”

--Almost immediately, Michael informs Walt of his killing Ana Lucia and Libby to free Walt and escape. Horrified, Walt separates from him to live with his grandmother and Michael spirals into depression and attempted suicide. (This is still mid November, or at least immediately after Thanksgiving, 2004. When Michael is recovering from his failed car crash in the hospital, there is a Christmas tree in the background.)

--Michael fails to kill himself and Mr. Friendly appears in New York to recruit Michael to serve as Ben’s spy on Widmore’s Freighter.

--Michael joins the Freighter Folk, sails to the Island and begins sabotaging the radio/engines/etc. By now it is Christmas Week, but it is still 2004. (We know this because in Season 4 episode “The Constant” Desmond tells Penny he’ll call her—from the Freighter, aboard w/ Michael—on Christmas Eve, 2004.)

So, in the space of mere WEEKS, Michael escapes from the Island, despairs, is recruited by Ben and returns to the waters around the Island.

I never fully realized before how QUICKLY all of this has happened in the show’s time span. It’s gotten so hard to keep hold of elapsed time as we’ve mixed present Island Time w/ character flashbacks and flashforwards.

Anyway, that’s enough of that.

Because I don't have much else to add here tonight--gotta do some work and then watch LOST dontcha know, I'll give you links to some nice LOST stuff. Enjoy and then set your VCRs for the premiere!

Season 5 Promotional Postcards

LOST Connections video to remind you of who knows whom and what is what.

Exec. Producers Lindelof and Cuse's weekly podcast will be up and running soon with the start of a new season. Subscribe now (and listen to past episodes) to learn about the mysteries of Carlton's banjo playing.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Scenes from a Tifton Christmas

Here is a brief moment from our recent trip to Tifton during the Christmas vacation.

Don't be fooled by the things I say in the video. You can be sure that I am always in favor of travelling to Georgia for Christmas--even though we do have a very strong predilection for getting ill while we are there. (It's an unfortunate conjunction of winter weather, small children, and gathering lots of people together in a shared location. I guess if we were anti-social, it might not be a problem.)

One of the nice things about taking two weeks off is that we can get home before the rest of the families arrive and we have some one-on-one time with Mom and Dad.

As you can see, we congregate in the kitchen--as everyone tends to do during the holidays. I was barely maintaining my weight (certainly not successfully losing any) during December. But going home to Mom's cooking, and the fudge, and the cookies, and the coconut cream cake, and the pecan pie, just pushed me back over.


Here's an example of how having the ability to do something doesn't mean you should do something:

I was downstairs in the basement Wednesday night before dinner, transferring some clothes from the washer to the dryer. Simultaneously, Sarah was dumping some clothes from the second floor down through our laundry chute to land in the waiting basket beside me.

As the clothes landed with a thump, I thought "Hey, wouldn't it make a cool video if I could somehow drop the camera (running in video mode) from the chute entry in the second floor hallway down through the pantry closet on the main floor and out the chute in the basket in the basement?"

Now, assuming that you'd see anything at all besides darkness on this journey, it would surely blast the camera (which is only a month old) into a million little pieces. So, that's a stupid thought to begin with.

But I've always been fascinated by these sorts of chutes, ever since I first saw one (the only one I had ever seen) at my aunt's house in Kentucky. Being from south Georgia, where no one has a basement, we never needed one.

It just seemed cool.

And now I have one.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Worried about work

(No, I'm not worried that I am going to lose my job or anything. In fact, quite the opposite. I'm worried that my job is too much for me to lose . . . or something like that.)

The point is, I've got LOTS of work to do in the next three months as this new year dawns. So much so that it was all broken out for me by my managers so I could track how badly I am going to be at keeping up with the difficult pace. Still, I'm glad the road map was provided, as I would surely lose my place in the flurry of tasks that sits before me.

Another of my resolutions for this year is to not let hectic times at work overcome me. I tend to take everything very personally and berate myself strongly if I don't measure up to every last jot of expectation that is put in front of me. Yet, I worry that--given staffing and the economy and a grand pool of other circumstances--I (and all around me) are given too much to do in an unreasonable amount of time. So, to complete the tasks, we must work beyond normal.

I also recognize that working beyond normal has become normal in the modern workplace. And if I was truly put off by the expectation, I am the only person who has the opportunity to step out and find other employment that better suits my desire for work. But that sort of overstates my position. I LIKE what I do and it pays me well. I HAVE a good job in a time when many are fighting to hold onto any employment.

So, I need to make it less personal. I need to be dispassionate. I need to put in my time, working conscientiously and well when I can and turning it off when I am done.

I guess my problem lies in defining when I am done. Can I work hard, then leave it at the office so it doesn't affect my home life? If doing so jeopardizes the time table set before me, can I conscientiously let that happen--as long as I make others aware that I need more help? Or do I continue to make it my personal responsibility to keep going after hours to keep up?

It's a lot of internal moaning that I am subjecting you to. Sorry.

But that's the dilemma I've got right now.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Girl Fight!

Both of my oldest girls are now involved in Girl Scouts--Sarah is in her first year as a Brownie Scout and Grace has just started the younger Daisy Scouts group.

Usually this is not any sort of problem. It provides an avenue for girls to socialize with their friends in a community-oriented and fun way. They get to do crafts and wear vests and earn badges.

It's the sort of fun that's been going on for many generations.

But when the new year begins, the gloves come off and the cookie wars begin.

This is Sarah's first foray into Scout cookie sales. Frankly, I'm worried for her as we are already behind in tactical strategy. Monday morning as I was working at home, I received two email from members of my department informing me (and all of my colleagues) that their daughter is selling cookies and come on by to their desks to purchase your cookies that will arrive in March.

Well, wasn't yet at work to offer my OWN form--which we don't' get until later tonight anyway at the Monday meeting--and Sarah was feeling sick on Monday anyway. How can she compete? How can I compete FOR her?

Really, it's a stressful situation. I don't want to get into a cookie arms race with the other mothers (and some fathers, presumably) who are only trying to let their kids succeed. And I am not comfortable with sending Sarah door-to-door to get cookies, especially since I know that other Scouts live in our neighborhood anyway. AND consider the fact that I got a call Sunday night from our neighbor daughter--who is also a Scout--and she wanted us to buy cookies from HER!! The NERVE, honestly! : )

So, in the span of less than a day, my kids are significantly behind the cookie eight ball. And where will they turn for help? What master plan can I conceive that will get them through this difficult time?


And then there is this. It seems like someone or multiple someones have been sick in the family since last Thursday. Can I say it seems like people have been sick since last year? My brain is kinda fuzzy and I don't want to look at a calendar right now.

I want to sleep on the bed, but Hannah still needs looking after, Lynda is exhausted from not feeling well herself and watching the kids all day while I tried to keep up with work, and Sarah and Grace have both thrown up today . . . more than once.

So, I don't get to rest for a while.

Will this bring low my strong beginning to the New Year's blog resolution? Will I muster up something to make it seven days in a row?

Frankly, I don't know.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Goodbye to Christmas 2008

We finished taking down the decorations on Sunday. The tree was folded up, the decorations were packed away, the Christmas dishes were stored for another year.

But before everything is consigned to history, let's stop for a minute and remember the fun that was had this year.

We were so glad to leave our worries behind when we hit the road that Saturday a few weeks ago. Though it is undeniably difficult and often stressful to leave your home behind to have Christmas elsewhere, it does provide a convenient break between the regular working life and the holiday trip. We can really leave everything behind and switch our minds to relaxation, family, and more fun than we usually expect to have.

So, as you know from following this year's travel posts (Start with this one and read the next couple of days.) we began our travels with Lynda's family. Even on short notice, they were happy to provide a sanctuary for the road weary and we even got to attend church with them on Sunday, treated to a nice cantata of Christmas songs. The kids got a second Christmas of opening gifts and we reconfigured the full van to keep traveling on down to south Georgia for the extended stay with my family. But no worries for Lynda's side. We would later hook up with them in Waycross for a nice visit with her brother's family.

The visit in Tifton was remarkable because we were doing two things at once. Preparations for Christmas were the main focus of everyone's visit, but we were also secretly planning a surprise 70th birthday party for my dad that would be sprung on him the Saturday after the holiday. This planning sometimes meant a lot of lying and falsehoods directed toward my Dad as Mom had to button up the details of the event and others shifted party clothes from place to place and all kept it out of Dad's awareness.

Christmas Day was fun because we gathered everyone together in the living room--which grows more and more cramped as families grow--and listened while Grandmother and Pappaw outlined the rules of present opening. Do not try to circumvent Grandmother when she is defining the rules of opening presents. It just slows things down and she won't bend. But we love it when she takes charge.

I got just the right amount of nice gifts from family and we continued the surprise plans for Dad. When the time came on Saturday night, we hid out at my sister's house so we could change into our party clothes and not arouse suspicions. We then drove over to the Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage where the surprise went down. A great many of Dad's old work friends, church friends, and friends about town gathered to wish him a early 70th birthday and lots of good food, good drink, and good music was enjoyed by everyone in attendance. I enjoyed Andy's music so much, I even danced with Grace right up in front for everyone to see (sorry about that ya'll!). But it was a great evening.

The funny thing about this Christmas trip was the theme of photographic history that ran throughout the entire affair--and a great deal of it was done without the knowledge of anyone else. You see, all of the kids had decided to give Mom and Dad an album of family photos for a Christmas present. We had emailed each other for a few months and M.A. had coordinated the photo collection and book production. Meanwhile, Andy had been putting together a slideshow of old photos of Dad to be presented at the surprise party. And further meanwhile, Dad had been putting together his own slideshow of family photos that he placed on a thumb drive and gave to each of us while we visited.

So, we were all enmeshed in the mutual celebration of our families past and its many, many photos of all of our time together. I am sure that I will have opportunity to go through the slideshow from Dad and remember the earliest times of my childhood and before that, reliving the captured moments of our family. And I hope that over time, I can bring some of those photos here and use them as starting points for many discussions of the most important people in my life.

It was a great Christmas trip all around. If you want to see some more photos of our journey through Georgia, click on this link.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Routine

Lynda said about 2:30 on Saturday that she felt like things were finally getting settled again and she felt comfortable in The Routine.

Of course, it took several days of us sitting around aimlessly, not getting out of our pajamas until almost 11 am and wandering around the house in a stupor before we allowed The Routine to capture us again.

I assume it is somewhat true for everyone, buy maybe it isn't. Do you have trouble sliding out of the Holidays and back into the Regular Workaday Routine? I  think Lynda and I have to get a bit depressed by the loss of Holiday ease before we struggle back into the Regular Stuff. 

But, with the resumption of laundry chores and The Trip to the Grocery Store, we declare ourselves committed to the 9 to 5 and say goodbye to the time with family, the strange combination of not doing anything, but having lots to do, and the occasional  card/board game that breaks out during the holiday visit. These things don't usually happen when we're by ourselves.

Anyway, I've still got some holiday-related stuff to catch up on as January continues. I have removed most of the holiday decorations over the long weekend, but I've let the decorated tree stand. Maybe I'll take it down on Sunday, or I'll just let it sit for longer. Who knows. 

I did take down the outside lights on Saturday, but they had mysteriously stopped working a few days ago anyway. The culprit could be the seemingly annual outdoor light Failure or maybe something went wonky in the electric socket that the extension cord is plugged into. That is quite likely the issue, but who knows. I suspect I won't know for sure until I either plug something else into the socket--which might not happen until spring since I don't usually use that plug during the winter months. Or it might be delayed until next November when we attempt to decorate again. So, stay tuned for THAT drama!

Other than undecorating, I haven't yet written a summary of the holiday events. And there are things to report.