Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Random thoughts on the porch

I stayed at work late tonight to participate in some market research. Tegan corralled the kids and they went out to eat. When I got home about 6:30, T. and the kids were still gone, so I put my bag down and went back outside to sweep up the little, oval-shaped, orange leaves that our trees dump on the sidewalk, the driveway, the street curb. Sure, I know its a pointless waste of time right now, to sweep up leaves that will be dumped again in a few days and I'll do it again. But it was a good time, being outside in the autumn evening, alone with my thoughts and the dinnertime sounds of my street.

After I was done with that, Tegan and the kids were still gone. But I didn't feel like going back inside, so I sat down on the porch steps to let the sweat dry on my shirt and to watch the twilight deepen.

While sitting there doing nothing in particular, I had lots of random thoughts float in and out of my brain. Naturally, I didn't have a piece of paper or a tape recorder with me, so I didn't capture them as they came . . . something that I kind of always wish I could do in these kinds of circumstances. I am sitting there, wanting to remember all of these thoughts, but I don't want to go back in the house for paper or to get the laptop because I don't want to break the spell of sitting there. It's not like I was accomplishing anything, but I didn't want to systematize it by making it intentional . . . but at the same time, I was actively thinking about the fact that I wanted to remember it and KNEW that I wouldn't be able to achieve an accurate memory of my thoughts.

Anyway, what was I thinking? There are some of the things that I can remember:

  1. While cars drove by or while kids on bikes pedaled by, I was wondering which was I should look--towards College or towards Spring? And should I settle on one direction or keep switching back and forth? And do I just look weird sitting here on the porch? Do people think I am peeking in their windows?
  2. Man, I should get a decorative bench or something on the porch. The cement steps get hard after a while.
  3. Why is my next-door-neighbor's flag not fluttering back and forth while mine (right above my head) whips around much more vigorously?
  4. Why is it that every time I hear a car approach or see headlights, I involuntarily turn towards it, wondering if it is our station wagon? And how can I do this while looking nonchalant about it all?
  5. How can I construct a post that takes advantage of the really excellent discussions between ESPN's Sports Guy and Chuck Klosterman? Would my regular readers want to read about that? I really identified with their observations that people today spend an inordinate amount of time talking about TV and movies (and I am SO guilty of that). And how about their critical views of bloggers that don't do anything but link to other people's work and then act like they have done something valuable . . . I don't do that, do I?
  6. I really want to read some of Klosterman's books, but I can't because I have a library fine that needs to be paid and I can't find the book that is getting more expensive every day.
  7. What would it be like if we rearranged the furniture in the house . . . moving the TV from the den into the front room. But I can't put the TV in front of the big windows, so maybe against the wall facing the windows? But then, won't people be able to see inside and watch our TV? Maybe I could put wooden blinds or something to create more privacy . . . I don't like those green curtains anyway. But if the TV goes in there, then do we move the computer out of that room and into the den? We could rearrange the den furniture so that the computer goes along that long wall that is the back of the garage. But I'd like to get rid of the computer desk we've got now, replacing it with a nice long desk or series of modular desks (something from Pottery Barn?) that can go alongside the entire wall, creating a place for the desktop computer and seating areas for the kids to do home work or draw . . . but then where do the couches in the room now go? And if we move the TV out of the den, we'll need to put something else else on the bookcases, right? I wonder if I can make an overhead sketch of the rooms and rearrange the furniture with little cardboard cutouts?
  8. Oh, here comes the station wagon . . . remember to look nonchalant.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Home of the Braves

WARNING! This post focuses primarily on sports. If you have absolutely NO interest in this, drop out now. But if you do, you might miss valuable insights into my psyche . . . or not, who knows?

As of this moment, the Atlanta Braves are up 7 to 1 in the 6th inning. Baring a massive collapse (which might occur, you never know) the Brave will clinch their 14th division championship in a row--a continuous span of excellence not seen in professional sport of any sort.

Why mention this? Well, growing up in Georgia, I have always been a Braves fan. For most of that time, that meant being the fan of a crappy team. But since my sophomore year in college (1991, if you are keeping score) the Braves have never lost their division. While it is true that the team has only won 1 World Series during that time (1995) and lost four others (1991--the greatest World Series ever, 1992, 1996, and 1999) and haven't made it out of the first round of the playoffs in the last . . . oh, four tries (is that right?) . . . their success MUST be acknowledged.

Every year, about this time, ESPN runs an article celebrating the success of the Braves, lining up these statistics, comparing them to the flashy and championship Yankees while trying to acknowledge the undeniable success that the Braves have shown. This year's story is extremely long, but if you are a Braves fan, its worth reading.

As I said, my history with the Braves is a long one, steeped in childhood. About every year or so, my family would go to Atlanta, maybe on the way to Kentucky to visit grandparents, and we would stop to attend a Braves game at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. During most of this time the Braves were not good or at best mediocre. The team wore powder blue uniforms and I lost AT LEAST three or four Braves caps over the years in Atlanta area restaurants after the games.

The one year of Little League success that I ever had, my team celebrated it's championship trophy by going to a Braves game in Atlanta. We sat in the picnic area and got our picture taken with Chief Noc-a-Homa. In today's world, the Chief is a terribly offensive thing, but it was a less polite, more brutal time in the 1980s. I remember the brief years of success in 1983 and 1984, when they won division titles. Dale Murphy--that Mormon sensation--won MVP awards. I have a good memory of listening to the radio broadcast as the Braves won 13 games in a row in my parents bedroom.

In the 1990s, when the Braves began their run of success, I was in awe of the team. I stayed up late suffering over endless one-run games. I suffered through the stressful, exciting, ultimately disappointing 1991 World Series loss to Minnesota. I was in Savannah with my sister the night the team won the World Series in 1995 (I didn't even WATCH that game. I was taking a ghost tour of the colonial squares in the dark of night.) I heard crowds in bars yell out faintly in the distance, either when David Justice hit the home run that was the only run of the game or when the final out was recorded.

I have pictures of some of the years in between, celebrations on campus during playoff wins. I'll scan those in when that scrapbook comes up in the rotation. Until then, well, this will serve as one of my few sports-related posts. You can all survive a few can't cha?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Yet another Omnimedia post

It's a busy blogging weekend both here and on the sister station.

Various stupid posts from yours truly are there, but don't miss Jack Thunder's latest post on important books that he's been reading.

Anyway, read here, read there, read everywhere.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bob Dylan's new home? Omnimedia

The Martin Scorsese bio-doc No Direction Home is ready to be be released to television next week, I think. But before you watch that to see what all the fuss is about, check out the new Omnimedia post on all things Dylan.

Friday, September 23, 2005

West Side Story

I'm killing time, waiting for Battlestar Galactica to start and I run across West Side Story (the movie version) on TV.

I bought the VHS tape of this back in high school. While you might think of this as an odd purchase for a high school kid, it really makes sense in the larger scheme of who I was at the time.

First--the songs. Any honest person who appreciates American music has to admit that West Side Story is filled with some of the greatest American music created by an American composer. You can make jokes, as I certainly have over the years, that the movie is parody and funny. The idea of street tough gang members singing their operatic heads off, the cliched phrases, clothes, the knock-off Shakespearean plot . . . but the music, the lyrics, the complexities of "Tonight" where everyone is singing, preparing for a date or a rumble and everything else . . . all that transcends the hokey nature of the film. Some of Leonard Bernstein's best music ever.

Second--why I first loved the songs. This answer is deeply embedded in my love of band, martial music of that sort, and my (then) intense pleasure with Drum Corps. One of my first memories of Drum Corps International was hearing The Garfield Cadets (now known as the Cadets) perform a twelve-minute marching performance of their interpretation of West Side Story. The music was wonderful and stirring and the combined intricacy and chaotic precision that mark the Cadet's marching style made it an eye-opening experience. Remember that I had grown up wanting to be in band and seeing it presented in such a pure, intense form made a big impression on me.

Third--the actors in the movie. Rita Moreno was, to the younger me, always associated with Maria on The Electric Company. To see her as a sexy Latina in New York was always interesting. Natalie Wood was neither here nor there, but it was the presence of Russ Tamblyn (Riff) and Richard Beymer (Tony) that cemented my love of the film in 1989. For, you see, Tamblyn and Beymer were prominent members of my favorite TV phenomenon of my high school youth--the LOST of its day--Twin Peaks. Beymer played the deeply insane Benjamin Horne. Tamblyn played the clinically nuts Dr. Lawrence Jacoby. These dudes were weird, okay?

So, there are many reasons why, on a Friday night, I stopped to watch a good film based on a great set of music.

And now, you know as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Company picnic, human foosball, tandem bikes, etc

This afternoon rather than eat at the 4Square in the cafeteria, "Millard Filmore's Japanese Friends"(or most of us anyway) enjoyed the company picnic.

As was true last year, the food was acceptable . . . maybe. I do think the lines were much faster this year, so that was an improvement. It definitely was as hot as last year . . . which played a role in the activities.

As was also true last year, the events at the picnic featured something called Human Foosball. Last year, our Team Foos-Booyah! dominated, losing nary a game. This year, things were a bit different.

First, the configuration of the large inflatable court was totally different than last year, severely restricting the overall movement of each individual person. Second, the size of the court was much less. It only accommodated five players per team. This was a problem because all correspondence prior to arrival indicated team size should be between six and ten. My motivational emails and awesome team shirt designs had netted us a total of eleven people at the picnic. Plus, there was only one other team willing to play.

So, Team Foos-Booyah! divided itself. The first team played very well and beat the Savage Penguins 7 to 3. Team Foos-Booyah!(b) didn't do as well, losing to the Savage Penguins by a score of 7 to 3. I played in one of the two goalie positions and didn't do such a great job of preventing scores. I really had trouble keeping myself from snarling in the lines that held me in "position." Spec would have done a better job of it, I am sure.

Oh well. Over the course of two years, Team Foos-Booyah! has a record of 4 and 1. Plus our shirts get better each year. I plan to play again next year . . . and go undefeated again.

After messing around with some other stuff for a while and trying to stay cool it was just me and Shirtless. But before we left, we took advantage of a cartoonist who was offering free pictures for picnickers.
The awful truth is revealed below. If you are up this way and want to see the real thing, swing by my office sometime. You won't be sorry!

Oh, the ho-yay!

While waiting in line, we discussed what set-up our picture should be. Some people before us were walking a dog, playing tennis,whatever. For no particular reason, we asked him to draw up beating up on each other. He couldn't so that, I guess, but what he gave us was wonderful in it's own way. But, I think he did get the heads on the wrong bodies.

Dr. Actually used his new camera to get some pictures of the games as they were being played. If I can acquire those images, I'll give more details when there are visuals to accompany . . .

Monday, September 19, 2005

My new fall season has begun

It's official. I am now watching new TV shows.

Tonight I watched "Arrested Development" and "Kitchen Confidential."

"AD" was, as always, quirky, funny, fast-paced, very smart . . . "Frasier" for people who can look at themselves with pride the next day. The constant, dry, deadpan voice-overs by Ron Howard never fail to underline the humor that is often so fast that you might miss it if you weren't paying sufficient attention.

As for "Kitchen Confidential," well, it's hard to tell. I enjoyed the premiere. I always liked Bradley Cooper on "Alias" and he does a credible job on this show. I am a huge fan of Nicholas Brendan and while his character on "KC" is definitely NOT Xander, I don't find myself wishing for Xander either. I just enjoy seeing him there and listening to his character.

"AD" is endless inventive and always fun and unpredictable. I can see "KC" becoming very predictable over time, I guess or simply derivative. But, what else is there worth watching on Monday nights--unless you decide to start reading books or something?

So, PLEASE go out of your way to watch "Arrested Development." You'll be glad that you did.

The Life Aquatic

I like Wes Anderson. I have watched and enjoyed "Rushmore." I didn't love, but did appreciate "The Royal Tennenbaums." But, I really dig "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou."

And the scene that sold it for me was Bill Murray, as the famous (if washed up) oceanographer kicking pirate butt clad in nothing but a speedo, a bathrobe, and a Glock. The pirates high-tailed it out of there (but left their three-legged dog).

What else can you saw about a movie that features its own trademarked shoe? Well, the fact that the actor playing Steve's financial money hound is also the dude that plays Albus Dumbledore in the recent "Harry Potter" movies.

And then there is Jeff Goldblum, who is actually funny and likeable in a film for the first time in maybe a decade . . . if ever?

Plus, the rescue scene at the Hotel Citroen put me in mind of the best action sequences of "Mission: Impossible" and maybe a bit of "The Matrix" but without some of the special camera tricks.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Nothing to say? Go back in time!

Let's turn back the clock a bit more tonight, why don't we?

Hey . . . don't blame me alone, all right? Everybody's doin' it!
So, we've finished my first scrapbook and are moving onto my second one, which covers some of the year 1986--my freshman year of high school.

Entering high school meant entering band, of course.

(We had about 150 people in the band, a large one by most high school standards. I think the circled one is me, but I don't remember and you can't tell at this distance.)

It was never really a question of whether or not I would be in band. It was something that I had wanted to do since I was about ten. In my hometown we only had one high school and so everyone made it a large high school. Football was the dominant sport in south Georgia so everyone went to the football games on Friday nights. I didn't care so much about that growing up but I loved watching the band perform during halftime. As a young kid I would stand on the bleacher bench in front of me to see over people to watch the halftime show. I waved my arms around to "conduct" the band as they played. Truly, I was destined to be a band geek--or as we were derisively known during my HS years, "band fags."

When my brother Muleskinner joined the band I had even more reason to pay attention. The Blue Devil Brigade, as the band was known, was a regimental style band with military-style uniforms (deep royal blue tops with white stripes; white pants for home games, royal blue pants for away games) and a pretty strict, traditional marching style. We definitely didn't do the very loose, easy-going types of marching that you might have seen in Drumline.

Anyway, I started out in band in seventh grade as a trumpet player. My difficulty playing high notes eventually led to my switching to French horn. During the marching season, I played a similarly-toned instrument called a mellophone.

(I got my own close-up picture because I was one of the freshman representatives on the band council.)

I was always a bit shorter than everyone else, I guess, as you can see from these photos. But I took it all VERY seriously. Muleskinner has always been very musically talented (trombone in HS and college on a music scholarship; taught himself to play guitar, banjo, fiddle, recorder, probably something else I am forgetting). He was drum major his senior year--one of the most successful competition years in the band's history. The Brigade won all of its competitions that it entered that year and performed in New York at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I remembered all of this and wanted to have similar success during my years.

Being a freshman in high school meant undergoing freshman initiation at band camp the summer of 1986. One thing that was NOT good about following my brother and my older sister MA in band (MA was a junior when I was a freshman. She played the alto sax.) was that I had already heard MANY stories about previous initiations. Trust me when I tell you that I was a bit obsessed and worried about it all.

I won't bore you with all the details. It wasn't as bad as I had been led to believe and pretty stupid in many other ways. No one was allowed to hurt anyone, so it boiled down to stupid humiliations, being forced to recite stuff

(This sheet contains the words to the school fight song and the alma mater. For the alma mater text, see the comments.)

(like the school alma mater, which I kept--along with my first locker combination) carrying upperclassmen's luggage and instrument cases, and the like. In the long run it was more challenging to learn the music and the corresponding marching maneuvers in the hot August summer on an asphalt parking lot.

But that wasn't all that happened in 1986 of course. I was also deeply involved in my love of Berkeley Breathed's "Bloom County" comic strip.

I owned all the books and I bought the catch-phrase tee shirt of the time . . .

. . . do you remember that? See, I was political even then. I bought that tee shirt after the 1984 election and probably took that picture to commemorate the shirt once I could no longer wear it.

Anyway, music and politics . . . defined me then and defines me now, right?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Blame the Beatles, if you must

I'm sitting here TRYING to get some productive work done tonight. Heck, I even turned off the TV . . . there really isn't much on Monday nights (unless "Kitchen Confidential" turns out to be good . . .).

But, I can't keep my mind on work.

So, I am presenting another page from one of my early scrapbooks. Maybe it is "Abbey Road" (which I am listening to) that is bringing this on.

What's on this page? Not a whole lot and I confess that I can't explain why I chose some of these things at the time that I put them in the book. But what you can see are clipped out photos of the Space Shuttle that I cut from a model rocket catalog I used to get in the mail. My brother Muleskinner and I (but him mostly) went through a model rocket building phase. Remember please that this was in the early to mid-1980s when I cut these pictures out . . . the space shuttle was still relatively new and glamorous to geek types such as I.

Running sideways up the side of the page is a laminated newspaper clipping that one of my parent's friends gave me. The small story congratulates me on being named as an Academic All-American by my junior high school (that would be 8th grade to those of you who have never heard of Jr. High) math teacher, Mrs. Boyd.

I honestly don't remember Mrs. Boyd at all, so that is her repayment for taking an interest in me so long ago. But I can do mental math in my head much faster than my math-writing editorial wife . . . so, I've got that going for me.

The other image is studious All-American me, hunched over my handmade desk, doing some homework, or something.

I am providing a larger version of that image for your enjoyment and for maximum humiliation.

What can I tell you about this particular wonderful shot? Well, I don't even know who took it. Was it Mom? Maybe MSquared? No clue. I do know that I didn't set a camera up on a tripod and activate the shutter myself with a bulb under my foot. What sort of self-referential wacko would do that? (And if you think I am ironically telling you that I DID do that, then you are wrong.)

Anyway, I am sitting in my bedroom, that used to be my two brother's room. The dark line along the right side of the photo indicates the transitional opening in my wall where their bedroom begins. I would later move into that room when they moved off the college.

I think I inherited this desk from Muleskinner. I am guessing that Dad built it at some point. What I remember most distinctly about it was the secret slot alongside the right edge, which consisted of a small hinged piece of wood that provided a shelf to hide stuff. I put my pocket knife there, but I guess I could've hid marijuana joints or cocaine there (if I had done such things).

You can see that this particular corner of my room was pretty austere in its decorating style. There is another Space Shuttle poster (not yet the last nor the biggest Space Shuttle poster that I would eventually own).

The window behind me was a particular source of memories from my childhood. Every year or so I would rearrange my room furniture, which I always found fun and provided a weird sense of vertigo every time I entered it that first day or two of a new configuration. But, given limited options and square footage, the bed always ended up somewhere around that window. No big deal, except that as a much younger boy I was always convinced that the Headless Horseman was going to enter my bedroom through that window and chop off my head to take it as his own. I eventually got over that fear, but I can't help but remember it every time I see that window.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Man, I am getting old

On the way out of the zoo today (which was Saturn car owners day) I signed up for a Saturn Sky car.

I did it because it was free, but on the ride home, I thought to myself . . . why?

I can't drive the kids around in it; the insurance for something like that is probably too high to accept. Heck, it probably wouldn't even fit in my garage or something.

So, yeah. I guess I am getting old and stupid and boring (even more boring than ever).

So, if I win it, who wants it?
this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Book review

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umbert Eco caught my eye in the library two weeks ago. I was there with Ruth to get some kid's videos and while walking past the new book display, I saw it.

It had very graphic drawings on the front and I recognized Eco's name. I have never completely read one of his books, but Dr. Actually has high praise for him. So, I read the dust jacket and the story seemed intriguing.

It involves a man who, through some mysterious accident loses his memory. In the process of trying to regain it, he encounters the comic books and stories of his childhood, trying to resurrect memories of who he was.

It sounds interesting . . . and it is up to a point. I got about half way through the book before my due date caught up to me and I was forced to return it. My problem with it was that it is set in Italy, about twelve years ago and it stays in Italy. So, the comics and stories that this sixty-year-old man discover are from Mussolini's Italy. None of it exactly spoke to me very much, so it didn't quite capture my attention and hold it.

Oh well. At least I gave it a shot.

Today I went to the library with Ariel, after her eye doctor's appointment and I grabbed another book off of the new books display. It is a bit shorter and is a mystery set a few years ago. We'll see if I can make it through this one in two weeks. sigh

Friday, September 09, 2005

New Omnimedia post . . . by me!

I finally got around to adding something new to Omnimedia.

And because I don't say it enough, thanks to my fellow Omnimedia members who keep throwing stuff out there and giving shout outs to their favorite films, music, tv, whatevers. I always appreciate the read and I hope you are all happy when something new arrives.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fall TV preview, part iii

Finally we reach the final part of the Fall TV preview. Sickness and other random events have conspired to slow down my momentum.
As always, if you have not read part i and part ii, you should do so now to achieve maximum knowledge and continuity.

Now, onward . . .


Chris Rock tells the tale
about when he was thirteen.
Should have been on Fox?
New night, same Sydney.
Missing latex . . . maybe Vaughn?
Is Vartan leaving?
Murder in '86.
Friends meet after 20 years
to solve a murder.
Why do I mention?
Never watched the show, it's true,
Must see? I doubt it.
Original . . . best
Tarantino was last year,
but will influence.
(wb@8--but not in this area)
Clark in the Arctic
Builds the Fortress of Ho-yay
Tom Wopat will show.


Yes, that's the title.
J.L. Hewitt takes Joan's spot.
She'll help out the dead.
Amy Grant helps out
much like Ty Pennington does.
First task . . . New Orleans?

That's all I've got here.
Friday is not for TV,
Unless . . . Battlestar.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Fall TV preview, part ii

If you haven't read part i, STOP RIGHT NOW and read it!

Now onto part ii.


Chick in the White House!
How ya like me now Bartlett?
Oval is easy?
Atoning for sins
is Lee's character named Earl.
Funny and quirky?
Another chick show!
Snappy dialogue? You bet!
Star Hollow's their home.
Forensic anthro
and David Boreanaz.
Syllables galore.
After Gilmore Girls.
Is this show 'bout Santana?
Nope. Urban legends.
Sounds like new format
focusing on family race.
Will it be as good?
Steve Carell is
"40-year-old manager."
Still no BBC?


Hey, what's in the hatch?
What about the guys on raft?
Many questions here.

What's her catch phrase, hmm?
Someone said "Your goose is cooked!"
Hair better than Trump's.
Florida town gets
over hurricane damage.
Oh . . . add "aliens".
Pentagon drama
featuring Dennis Hopper.
"Dont' f--- with Daddy!"
It feels like Buffy.
New season-long murder plot.
Steve Guttenberg, ya'll!!!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Fall TV preview, part i

Well, it's September so you know that I am gearing up for my 2nd annual Fall TV preview. This year, like last year, I warn you ahead of time that I am not heading off to California and New York to conduct personal interviews with TV producers or bothering Tom Welling or Dominic Monaghan. Rather, I am sitting on my butt in my own home and reading Entertainment Weekly's Fall TV double issue and surfing to a few websites.

In short, I am blatantly repurposing the hard work of real journalists and passing it along to you. I hope you don't mind. I doubt that I will cover every new show or give opinions on every returning show. Instead, I'll try to convey what some new trends are for this year, what are the shows getting lots of early interest, discussing some favorites from the past, and casting criticism on bad shows that should never have money wasted on them (Whoopi anyone?).

But, in an effort to spice things up a bit this year and to make it more interesting for you and me, I will present my thoughts on shows in haiku form . . . so, its fun for everyone.

On with the preview.
Fall TV is upon us.
Let's get it started.


Emmy noms for them
Alfre on Wisteria
Is it hot once more?
Now on Sunday night
Alda runs for White House berth
Does anyone care?
New sitcom on Fox
Smells like Married . . . with Children
Dime-a-dozen show
Works for CIA
Voted for Dubya--no doubt
It's no Family Guy
Ty P. as savior?
What happens when camera's off?
Palace in the 'hood!
Seventeen seasons . . .
How can they keep it going?
More Sideshow Bob, please!
Never watched the show
But it's got Sandra Oh, right?
No wine; she's a doc.

Alias' Will and
Xander from Buffy means that
I'll give it a shot.
Flashback from future
Tells of dates in the present
Wonder Years . . . Doogie!
Ten years of this crap?
Only on WB, I reckon
Red States must love it?
Debuted last Monday
Already gets lots of buzz
Brothers in the clink
This is a "Lost" clone
Sea creatures cause stir world-wide
I think about Signs.
Critics love this show
but its ratings always poor;
will Mondays fix that?
Returns from last year
Want to try out a new spouse?
e-mail ABC

Friday, September 02, 2005

Information on Technical Tweaks

Attention everyone:

Herein follows a boring technical post that describes the minor design changes that I implemented on WWYG?!

This occurred this afternoon while I was at the office but technically was "off" since the building officially closed at 2 pm to honor the Labor Day holiday. (We are off on Monday.) Tegan had stuff to do, so I caught up on my Internet time-wasting and fiddled with web page template design.

So, what did I do?

Well, I removed the NotifyList box that was cluttering up the sidebar. It's a good idea, but it didn't do what I thought it was going to do. I hoped it would automatically send notifications to those that signed up, but all it does (seemingly) is provide me a handy list of well-wishers that I must then email to tell when new posts are live. NotifyList is a good idea, but I don't need their help to do that, so off it goes.

Second I adjusted my Links list (or as I like to call it, Interesting Sites to Visit). I took a few web pages off--pages that don't need my help anyway and adjusted my settings so that when my listed links update, you can see it with a pretty "New" starburst. (If this encourages my fellow bloggers to update more often, then that is good for everyone don't you think?)

I hope you enjoy these twiddly bits as much as I enjoy wasting my time putting them there. If I make further changes, then you will be the first to know.

Hurricanes, floods, celebrity concerts, Homeland Security, and other disasters

I haven't said anything about the continuing aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the growing societal nightmare that is unfolding along the Gulf Coast for two reasons: 1) that's not what this blog is really about, if it's about anything at all and 2) there are others who do it much better than I could.

What I usually do is throw together stuff and try to find links between them or just write to amuse myself.

Plus I don't want to diminish what is happening to Real People when Awful Stuff Happens by sandwiching it amongst my musings on "Desperate Housewives" and what my youngest daughter said at the dinner table last night.

But I have found a way to combine some stuff in such a way that it gives me justification to throw in my 0.75 cents.

Entertainment Weekly informs me that (in the depressing tradition of most media-publicized disasters) musicians are performing tonight to raise money for hurricane relief. That is fine, I guess, if you like that sort of thing. It always stirs my cynical nature, however, when these concerts happen. I would rather give to the Red Cross than be motivated into it by Tim McGraw.

(Speaking of giving, my company is providing matching funds for our donations and Tegan and I have offered to donate some money that my bible study group had been gathering each week for a (then as yet unknown) charitable donation. Now our small amount of money can be doubled. So, good for my company. I don't know how long this corporate-matching program will continue for Katrina, but if any of my family is planning to donate to the Red Cross, why not send it to me and make your money go farther?)

But, back to business . . .

The celebrities are mobilizing quickly to sing and dance for aid, but the government is taking lots of heat about the slow response to get supplies and aid into the hurricane zone. Personally I keep going back and forth on this. I understand that mobilizing anything down into a twisted, flooded mess with no transportation infrastructure is REALLY hard to get done. But at the same time, that IS the mandate of the Department of Homeland Security, isn't it? If not them, then who?

I helped clean out the flooded house of one of my dad's colleagues back when parts of Southwestern Georgia flooded in the early 1990s. It is my only experience with the aftermath of such disaster. I remember the stifling heat, the muck, the smell, the almost total loss of interior furnishings, and non-structural stuff. And that was only 4 feet of river water--nothing like what is happening in Louisiana and Mississippi.

So, I am worried that things are getting worse before they get better. And I try to remain hopeful that the people in power are doing EVERYTHING they can do to set things right as fast as possible. They'd better be.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Kindergarten blues

I know that I take a lot of time on this blog talking about my kids, especially Ariel's development into a young girl.

But tonight I realized that Ariel really is still a little girl in all the most fundamental ways. She sometimes acts older and I remain convinced that she is ahead of the curve in a lot of developmental stages, but she is (after all) only five years old.

Tonight she got upset as we were trying to get her down to bed. Not extremely angry or throwing a tantrum but just general crying and weeping. The cause? I think it was a feeling that she isn't getting enough attention. Tegan has been working too hard and while I have been handling both kids lately, I have had to focus more on Ruth . . . because she needs more attention being younger and because she's been sick lately. And, I had always reasoned this choice by saying that Ariel is older and can play more by herself if necessary.

Well, I think Ariel is bothered by all of this and maybe she is feeling a bit of psychic stress about next week's upcoming kindergarten start. It has been so long ago since I was in school, and impossible to recall what kindergarten was like anyway, that I don't recall the turbulence that schools can place on kids, especially when they are experiencing it for the first time.

So, I was reminded tonight about Ariel's still tender years and the fact that she has many years to go before she is self-sufficient and more than willing to avoid me and ignore whatever I say.

Having said all of that, please stop a moment and marvel at this recent drawing done by Ariel. She created it weeks ago, but it was done in pencil and on a legal sized piece of paper. That is important because it took me a while to trace the pencil with ink and then reduce the original image to fit on my scanner bed.

It is still a bit hard to tell what is going on, but I can provide a bit of explanation. Down in the bottom corner is a small girl who is holding a kite by a very long string (the kite is in the upper left corner). What is strange about the picture, however, is that the girl is dreaming about another person who is the central image of the drawing. This boy and his dog are both wearing crowns and are the most detailed figures in the picture. This boy is also dreaming of something in the top right corner of the page, but it isn't clear what that dream figure is. Surrounding this central dream bubble are a mixed up collection of random letters.

What I found most striking about this picture is its surreal quality: someone dreaming something that is also dreaming about something. It's kind of like Salvador Dali, but without all of the artistic training.