Saturday, December 30, 2006

20.25 in 2006 (a 101 in 1001 review)

Back in February of 2005, I first posted the 101 in 1001 list. As I often do at the end of each year, I stop to take a bit of stock and see how things are going, either personally or on my 101 list.

Unfortunately, and possibly as a result of Blogger's move to the new design-which I STILL can't transfer over to, thanks very much, I can't access the original list. You can read my original post here if you like and see the periodic updates that I have made to it in the past.

But to see where things stand at the end of 2006, I am going to have to reproduce the entire listing here and place any new updates to it.

So, before we jump back in the car and drive back home to Ohio on Saturday afternoon, let's review.

101 in 1001
1. Reroof house. DONE 5/11/05
2. Replace gutters on house.
3. Visit California. DONE 8/17-24/05
4. Paint guest bedroom. DONE 4/14/05 by T.
5. Lose 5 lbs. Accomplished with laid up in hospital . . . promptly gained it back, so still pending? This is a perpetual, never-ending goal, so I'll never truly complete it--until I'm DEAD!!! Happy New Year!
6. Ride my bike once a week (in good weather, of course).
7. Read one book each year (for pleasure).
8. Fix lawnmower. DONE 5/1/05, but now re-broken (?), Used Shirtless's ancient mower for end of Summer/Fall; will buy new one in Spring?
9. Take kids to July 4th fireworks. DONE 7/2/05
10. Enroll Ariel in piano lessons.
11. Paint Ariel's room. DONE 4/15/05
12. Paint Ruth's room. DONE, but I don't remember what month in 2006. It is a beautiful purple color.
13. Paint our bathroom--apparently Tegan doesn't like that orangy-red color or the rooster wall border. (You just can't understand some people.) DONE in the flurry of 2006 painting that occurred when we did Ruth/Grace's room.
14. Paint deck. (Man, there is a whole lot of painting going on!) NOT DONE but we've since decided to tear down the deck and replace it with a patio. Those plans are pending until Springtime 2007 at the earliest.
15. Plant boxwoods beside deck.
16. Remove tree beside kitchen window. DONE 4/20/05, but the stump keeps producing small branches and leaves.
17. Watch four good foreign films . . . and I am willing to take all suggestions. 10/05--City of God . . . Talk to Her--11/06; does David Lynch films count as foreign?
18. Do some sort of physical activity as a family once a week--swimming, bike riding, walking . . . looks like painting is a strong contender in this category.
19. Join church activity--a new one each year. I started teaching Sunday school 9/05. We are now (as of Fall 2006 the Sunday School coordinators for our church, so we've stepped it up in this category.
20 Call family members at least once a month--not a problem for Tegan, but something that I should be working on. Sadly, I STILL suck at doing this.
21. Have at least three summer cook-outs for my friends. I don't think I pulled this one off then or this summer either. Sorry guys!
22. Frame the family caricatures. DONE 2/22/06
23. Play scrabble once a month with Tegan instead of watching whatever bad movie happens to be on television.
24. Teach Ariel to swim. Made good progress this summer. Not finished yet. Well, as of Summer 2006, we turned it over to Swim Class professionals. I think they are DONE and for those prices, they'd better be.
25. Make decision about having or not having another child. Still uncertain . . .
26. Remove junk from basement utility area--old paint, crappy metal shelving, other odds and ends. I actually kicked some organization butt this summer 2006 and whipped the basement into semi-shape. I'll call it DONE.
27. Purge junk from garage--stray wood, other bits of crud that is just bad looking. Stray wood in the rafters is still there, but I reconfigured shelving and made serious organizational progress here during summer 2006.
28. Replace mulch beside house with rocks--better to avoid water wicking against the foundation.
29. Get rid of ivy beside house. We already killed it off near the swingset. Mostly done!
30. Drink the champagne that we got when we closed on the house--over half a year ago! Don't we have anything worth celebrating?! DONE at some point . . . but I don't remember when. Must have been a helluva party?
31. Teach Ariel to ride her bike. She made progress this summer (2005), but not finished yet! Still not going anywhere fast on this one in 2006.
32. Limit myself to three desserts a week (that is going to be a hard one). HA! Getting nowhere here. Sigh, still a pipe dream.
33. Find a place to hang Ariel's and Ruth's art boards. DONE! 1/4/05
34. Put drawer guides on oldest dresser.
35. Paint dressers.
36. Get new family picture taken. DONE for Church this summer 2006.
37. Take more pictures.
38. Frame more pictures. I put up some good family pics and frames some of my favorites from our trip to San Francisco. 2/22/06
39. Display more pictures. Well, I'm posting some on Flickr; doing much better here in 2006!
40. Plan Spiderman 3 event . . . if I plan it now, it will be really good when the movie is ready!
41. Take Ariel to a baseball game in Cincinnati.
42. Get promoted (Burb and Tegan). Yes for Burb in October 2006, sadly not yet for Tegan/Lynda.
43. Develop new record storage system for home files, and get rid of the beat up filing cabinet we are using now. We've reorganized furniture during Thanksgiving 2006. Does that count?
44. Develop some better organizational system for the main floor play room. Done sometime in late May or early June. Further done by moving it all down to the basement at Thanksgiving 2006.
45. Play golf 4 times a year or hit golf balls more often at a driving range. Actually played in November, 2005.
46. Cook a French meal.
47. Eat at the "Refectory."
48. Visit a new state--not counting California, since we are going there on an anniversary trip in a few months. We went to Arizona during the Summer of 2006, so DONE.
49. Sell the Escort.
50. Teach Ruth to swim.
51. Teach Ariel how to tie her shoes. She can do this now, but I forget when I happened . . .
52. Go camping.
53. Buy a desk for Ariel's room.
54. Write an update letter to Dr. Hew Joiner and let him know how we are doing.
55. Buy some new luggage to replace the enormous black thing we call the BFL. (That stands for Big F*%@$ Luggage--an adaptation from the monogram on the second-hand suitcase. That thing is just TOO big.) DONE! 1/8/05
56. Go to UK basketball game in Lexington sometime.
57. Buy a nice cast iron skillet.
58. Use aforementioned cast iron skillet to cook steak once a month.
59. Get a new grill for outdoor cooking. DONE Father's Day 2006.
60. Get rid of old toys in basement and clean up the toy clutter. Started on 1/4/05. Probably as DONE as it'll ever be until kids move out of house.
61. Remove wood by backyard fence.
62. Buy and install shelves for bedrooms and den to display pictures (see # 39).
63. Purchase some Keen sandals to replace the ones that I currently have. (My mom swears by these sandals.) DONE on 5/1/05.
64. Set up a new savings account.
65. Alert Social Security Administration of new address . . . something we should have done before now, I am sure. Not a problem . . . as of the weekend of 5/1/05
66. Get trapped in an elevator during a power outage. Seriously! I really want this to happen to me sometime.
67. Get rid of weird spasmodic cough. It seems to be slowly going away (1/22/05)
68. Begin reading The Chronicles of Narnia to Ariel. Started 1/9/05, but never finished and now the movies are passing me.
69. Get my new pajama pants hemmed before I trip on the hem and fall down the stairs . . . for the SECOND time--that's right, I did it a few Saturday's ago and nearly DIED!! DONE! (thanks Tegan!) 1/17/05
70. Get iPod! DONE in mid-June 2005. Can I get a new one now in 2007?
71. Get a new CPU instead of getting a new laptop. Also DONE in mid-June 2005 but we ended up getting the iBook. In Fall 2006 we replaced the old desktop PC completely.
72. Transfer all programs and files from old CPU to newer one--conditional on accomplishing #71 of course. Also DONE in mid-June 2005.
73. Get a faster Internet connection--this dialup is just too slow, and since we aren't getting a new laptop, we can probably afford it. DONE 6/18/05.
74. Do taxes for 2004. DONE 4/10/05
75. Do taxes for 2005. DONE, before April 15, 2006, of course.
76. Do taxes for 2006.
77. Finish this LIST!!!! DONE 2/2/05
78. Build snowman with Ariel and Ruth. DONE 1/29/05
79. Paint a mural on the stairwell going down into the basement.
80. Repair driveway.
81. Fix sidewalk.
82. Get faucet in guest half-bath repaired. DONE 1/17/05
83. Get water heater repaired. DONE 1/17/05
84. Get my project at work completed . . . PLEASE! I am ready to move on to something new. Yeah, I got moved on to something else all right! Can you say "King Copyright" 2007? But now, as of 12/06 that is also done and I am onto the 2008 work.
85. Eat more soup.
86. Eat less chocolate.
87. Seriously, finish this list already! Again, DONE 2/2/05
88. Do something nice for Tegan on Valentine's day (and again, I am open to suggestions). I am sure whatever I did was nice, but I'll be switched if I can recall what it was.
89. Use the movie tickets. Used them 7/1/06 on Tegan's birthday. We left work early and both saw Batman Begins.
90. Fix TP hanger in kid's bathroom. DONE (thanks to T's dad) 4/13/05
91. Put good shelving in garage to better organize in there. Well, I made better use of the existing shelving during the summer of 2006, so I'll call that one DONE and done frugally at that.
92. Do more dusting and vacuuming around the house.
93. Clean the bathrooms more. (Which is violating a marital agreement that we set up a long time ago. But, I was young a foolish then. I am a better person now.)
94. Visit the Used Kids CD store.
95. Give
96. Up
97. With
98. This
99. List and
100. Move
101. ON! Sadly caved in and posted on 2/2/05

So, based on my calculations, I've accomplished several more items on this list in 2006 (20.25, I think if I am adding it all up correctly) and have made surprising progress in getting these done by the ending 1001 days. Who'd have thought, huh?

We'll see how things turn out at the end of 2007. I'll probably be sitting on a golden throne while orbiting the earth by then, but maybe my accomplishments will be a bit more modest.

Here's hoping your 2006 was as memorable as mine and 2007 turns out to be wicked awesome!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy Christmas? Well, that depends . . .

Actually, I've had a good Christmas so far, which I'll get to at the end.

Christmas Day at Cherry Log was nice and relaxing. I got the Beck CD that I wanted and even was able to design my own album art via the multitude of stickers that came along with the CD case. You know, for a wacked out Scientologist, Beck is pretty okay. :)

Sarah and Grace were thrilled with the multitude of pencils, notebooks, makeup and other accoutrements that they can now put in the new little purses they have received.

We drove to do Tifton Monday morning and spent the next day in Valdosta visiting with Lynda's brother and his son. The girls have had lots of fun playing with their cousins from all sides of the family, have enjoyed showing off their fun new toys and have enjoyed playing with the toys of everyone else. (But really, what kid isn't going to have fun when they get a new Christmas with a new set of family every second or third day?)

My family all managed to get together at Mom and Dad's house over the last few days. We opened all of our presents last night and opened our stockings as well, which is usually where you find some chocolates, some fruit, and assorted nuts. But, as I was beginning to open my stocking last night, I saw my brother Muleskinner get the attention of my other brother, MSquared. He pointed me out silently, and then I saw that others were also beginning to look my way.

I wondered if my hair was sticking up or if I had something hanging out of my nose. I even asked "What?!" but no one would say anything, so I went about pulling the packages out of my stocking.

As expected, I found some assorted chocolates and another small wrapped bag (similar to everyone else's). But I thought everyone was still staring at me and I was missing something.

I soon found out when I opened my wrapped bag. Inside I found that thing that everyone warns you might come your way at Christmas, but you never REALLY expect to get it . . .


I got COAL in my stocking!!!

Never did I ever expect this to happen, but it did and everyone seemed to be in on the joke but me, which explains why everyone was laughing and pointing and waiting to see my reaction.

Apparently, it was Dad's idea and he admitted that it wasn't actual coal but was instead charcoal. But the effect, you have to admit, was pretty damaging no matter what. It's a good thing I am pretty secure in myself and in my own inherent goodness to not let this most crippling of Christmas experiences crush my own sense of self or anything like that.

And you have to admit, it was a pretty good joke. Do you know anyone that has ever actually received coal in their stocking at Christmas?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Clutter and Care

As you might have guessed from my description of our station wagon's contents as we traveled down from Ohio to our Georgia families, I have a bit of an issue with clutter.

I admit that I am not perfect, though in my mind, I should be living in a glass and steel Miles van der Rohe house deep in the woods, surrounded by industrial, modern sparseness.

So, while drinking hot tea, standing at Nana's dining room table, the title of a magazine article in AARP: The Magazine caught my eye--"Conquer Clutter: How to Dig Out Once and for All."

(You should read the entire article here, especially at this time of year, when we are guaranteed to acquire more clutter and more gifts that will surely end up in a garage, basement, or closet soon.)

One of the more eloquent passages is reproduced below:

"In Dante's Inferno, there is a circle of Hell reserved for two warring armies, the Hoarders and the Wasters, who spend eternity rolling enormous boulders at each other on a desolate sun-baked plain. The boulders are actually diamonds and represent the possessions they had such unhealthy relationships with during their lives. 'Why do you hoard?' the Wasters shout. 'Why do you waste?' the Hoarders scream back. This represents, endlessly, joint punishment for their respective sins.

The contemporary earthly equivalent of this infernal battlefield is the self-storage facility, the charmless metal sheds that sprout alongside interstates and in industrial parks across the country. All but unknown before 1970, such facilities now number 45,000 nationwide, representing slightly less than 2 billion square feet of rentable space filled with the excess material burden of Americans whose caches have outgrown their houses and garages. (This despite the fact that a quarter of homeowners with two-car garages use them exclusively for storage and park in the driveway.) The rise of the self-storage industry in the past decades has been accompanied, counterintuitively, by the supersizing of the American home, which has swelled about 60 percent since 1970, from an average of 1,500 square feet to about 2,400 square feet today. So voracious is our appetite for acquiring stuff--and so great our attachment to it once acquired--that we are willing to rent space to hold it, miles away from these homes, even though the investment in monthly upkeep is typically greater than the worth of the contents themselves."

Have a Merry Christmas, yes, but consider this (as I am going to do this year). For every new shirt, book, toy, or other item that you acquire from family and friends, take an older one and donate it to a charity, church, or volunteer organization of your choice. We are all lucky enough to be blessed with many things. Let's take advantage of our largesse and try to help others also.

The Georgia Christmas has begun!

We drove out of the building yesterday afternoon and headed down South into the rainy December night yesterday to kick off our holiday travel extravaganza.

Our car laden with people, suitcases, Christmas gifts, potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, apples, trail mix, juice boxes, a computer (with cigarette lighter AC adapter!), DVDs, an iPod loaded with seasonal (and not so seasonal) tunes, pillows, two different weights of coats (cause you just never know), and other things I'm probably trying to block out of my memory . . . we hit the road.

Driving at night can be tiring, but the girls are more inclined to sleep the hours away, it lends a certain giddy thrill to the tedium of the Interstate experience, and it doesn't make you give up an entire day of vacation.

We pulled into Cherry Log, Georgia (near Ellijay!) about 1:20 am to be greeted by bleary-eyed Nana and Papa. We unloaded, pajamaed-up, and piled back into beds. Hello Georgia!

Today is the first day of the rest of our vacation.

I'll keep you posted as all the thrilling events unfold!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Icecapades

I think it was a week ago . I know it was a Thursday night. Lynda and I headed to the beautiful downtown urban cityscape to engage in a wintertime ritual . . . ice skating under the shadow of skyscrapers.

The occasion was a Christmas party hosted by Jack Thunder and Cordelia. They are hip urbanites that live in the outskirts of the downtown area, unlike Lynda and I—godless, soulless suburbanites that we are.

So, we got our next door neighbors to babysit the girls and we headed to the ice-skating rink. It wasn't exactly skating in New York City at Rockefeller Center, but it's as close as I've ever been.

Did I mention that I've never ice-skated before? Truth be told, I've never done any skating of any kind (ice- or water-). Since I grew up in the 1970s, I've certainly roller-skated as a child, but I wasn't any good at all. Tifton had it's own roller skating rink (the Roller Drome!) but I was one of the lame-o kids that was only comfortable skating on the carpeted area by the entrance and around the cinder block wall that separated the skate counter/snack area/video games from the concrete oval that was the epicenter of my childhood shame.

So, I couldn't skate well and I truly lived in mortal fear of the Hokey Pokey, that awful event that ended each roller skating party. All of the kids skated out into the center of the rink to "stick their left foot in and shake it all about" to the strains of that haunting song (hum a few bars in your head now). For someone who couldn't balance well and certainly wasn't able to skate away from the wall, heading out into the middle of the rink to purposefully shake on one foot or another was like asking a blind person to pilot the Space Shuttle.

So, anyway, given all of that, it was a courageous thing for me to lace up ice skates and give December ice-skating a try. I actually thought things were going well when I found that I could stand up on the skates inside the skate house and that I could even walk around on them on the carpet (naturally!). But when I actually stepped out onto the ice, it became clear that I wouldn't be going far beyond arm's reach of the wall that night.

I tried to propel myself like I was walking, but that doesn't work for me (or possibly anyone). I was told to push out to the side to move myself forward, but that didn't work because I couldn't get any traction on my right foot and it would simply slip away from me. So, that didn't really work all that well.

Lynda showed surprising skill and was able to skate around unassisted, but I held onto the wall and pulled my way around the rink while Christmas tunes blared from speakers set up outside the rink. Everyone else was pretty good as skating and while they occasionally took pity on me and stopped to say hello, they joined the crowds circling the oval in the clear December air.

I won't/can't complain, because it was a beautiful clear night with a satisfying chill in the air but no snow or rain or anything. The skyscrapers were lit and it felt like Christmas. I'm glad I went and I'm glad Lynda and I could spend time with Jack and Cordelia, Shirtless and EC and Raisinette.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Harry Potter & the DH

The news hit this morning and I heard about it when I logged onto my computer here at work.

J.K. Rowling has officially chosen the title of the final Harry Potter book.

I won't divulge it here, but the initials are teased in my blog post.

You can search Google, Yahoo, or any number of news sites (or probably watch your news this evening) to find out.

If you want to have fun finding out, go to Rowling's official website ( and once you get to her desk, click on the rubber eraser on the desktop. It will transport you to the secret door that is almost always locked with a Do Not Disturb sign on the knob.

If you follow these instructions, you can navigate the secret steps to unlock the door and have your chance to discover the title.

Anyway, I, like you am perplexed by the title and wonder how Harry ending the Designated Hitter rule in the American League will defeat Voldemort. But I guess we'll have to read the book to find out THAT answer.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Finally . . . YOU Grew a Bit

"The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s."

So says TIME Magazine. Lots of Intriguing and Important stuff happened this past twelve months, huh? And yet, TIME, in all of it's infinite wisdom, chose YOU to be Person of the Year for 2006.

History will look back and say:

"TIME's Person of the Year thing always was a bit of a gimmick, but the choice for 2006 was a clear sign that the editors at TIME were clearly getting ready to give up on the whole process. I mean, come on . . . all of those people that we mentioned at the beginning of Burb's blog post will be much more influential down the course of history than the flash-in-the-pan technology that is MySpace, blogging, FaceBook, and all the other social-networking items that made the TIME people cop out and select YOU as Person of the Year in 2006."

Hey, thanks for reading my blog History. I appreciate your comments. You should look into getting a new font, however. You're never going to get past your dusty, boring image if you don't find a better way to market yourself. I'm just saying you should think about it, okay?

ANYWAY . . .

While trying to further describe my feelings of disappointment regarding TIME's Person of the Year choice, I also thought it was funny that on the same webpage touting YOU as so important, you (or should I say "one" so we won't confuse you with YOU--Person of the Year) can also see pictures of people that might really have had a significant impact on the year that is now ending. (You can judge for yourself by clicking on this link and checking out the Gallery of Less Important People.)

I feel that there is more to be said on this topic, but I just can't get my brain to say it. I guess that it is odd that I am against this choice, since I do or am familiar with many of the YOU-things that made YOU so important this year. I am a blogger (though not at all famous or even slightly influential). I know what YouTube is about and have even wasted precious bandwidth with my own video offerings. I frequently listen to a variety of podcasts, though I have the good sense not to try and create any of my own.

So, you would think that I am the perfect guy to stand up and applaud this decision. But, it just seems wrong--for all the reasons listed in the quote at the top of this post . . . and the TIME people are the ones that WROTE that! Wouldn't you have liked to be in the meetings where the editors struggled to come up with a good definitive choice for 2006, struggled and struggled and struggled and then finally with sweaty brows and fear shining behind their eyes just gave up and went with YOU.

(Actually, I am a bit surprised they didn't go with iYOU, because everything is better with i iin ifront iof iit.)

And if you think the TIME brass had trouble swallowing this choice, I can't imagine what the good people at Chrysler think right now.

What's next year's choice going to be? ME . . . WE . . . TREE . . . GRASS . . . WICKER. Only time (and the smart guys at FameTracker or maybe The Onion) can tell. While you wait, go over to Who in the What Now? and play word association games.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I am Jack's Angry Half?

Why is Jack Shephard so angry?

Why is the resident doctor on LOSTaway Island so full of rage? We know that Jack never passes up a chance to yell at people--deserved or not--but maybe he is angry that recent spoiler news for an upcoming February episode of LOST will show his relationship with actress Bai Ling. Speculation is that she will be involved in the tattoos that Dr. Jack has on his shoulder.

Yeah. Thanks LOST producers.

We don't want to know where the island is,
how the passengers survived the crash,
who the Others are,
what the DHARMA initiative is,
who Ben is,
why all the passengers know each other,
what the smoke monster is,
why everyone keeps seeing visions of the dead,
visions of horses,
religious visions,
mysterious dreams,
why Locke can walk,
why Locke once lost the ability to walk,
why Locke was able to walk again later,
what the whispers are,
how the Black Rock was shipwrecked in the middle of the island,
what happened to the electric cable on the beach,
what happened to Rousseau,
who Alex is,
why the Others wanted "Good People,"
what the Numbers mean,
what happened when the Hatch imploded,
why Desmond is now clairvoyant,
if Michael and Walt got away from the island,
if Walt was superpowered,
if Claire's baby is evil,
whether Kate and Sawyer escaped from the cages,
if Jack let Ben die on the operating table,
what the 4-toed foot statue meant,
whether Penelope was really looking for Desmond,
who the Portuguese radio operators were at the end of season 2,
whether the Portuguese radio guy really was Matthew Fox,
who is Jacob,
and what about Jacob's mysterious list,
or why were all those notebooks from the ? station being dumped in the middle of a field.

Yep, I'm really glad that we're FINALLY gonna get the lowdown on Jack's tattoos.

(I hope the tattoos at least caused the plane to crash.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I'mmmmm Movin' Out

People "of a certain age" might recognize that reference to a Billy Joel song. I grew up in a room next to my brothers, one of which (MSquared) was a Billy Joel fan.

So, um . . . yeah, Billy Joel reference.

Okay. What I meant to say is that the aforementioned Billy Joel song was in reference to the fact that things at work are changing. The division that lived on the fourth floor of our building moved out a month or so ago, and so the rest of us left on the three other floors are now in the process of moving around, moving up, moving down.

My department is moving up to the fourth floor later this week. Tomorrow and Tuesday we are all packing up our cubicles and getting ready for the movers to take all of our stuff upstairs to our newly assigned locations. We have been ordered to vacate the building on Wednesday at lunchtime.

So, I don't know if I'm going to get a lot of meaningful work done this week and I have to admit that I haven't worked very hard this weekend as a result. I'll pay for it later, I am sure.

But, in honor of my (now) old cubicle and to help me remember where all of my stuff is located once it is unpacked, I took my camera to work on Friday and took some photos of my desk. (I'll admit right now that I stole this idea from Omar G., TWOP recapper extraordinaire. You can see his own desk here. It was from his pictures that I realized I could add notes to my pictures, which is the humorous reason to even go through this exercise.)

Anyway, enough pointless rambling. If you are interested in delving even further into the tedium that is my life, delve away--here, here, here, and here.

(Come to think of it, I could have referenced "The Jefferson's" theme song.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

More Random Ephemera!

It's a Why Won't You Grow specialty--bringing you the stuff vomited up by the internets when I've got nothing better to say.

So, here we go.


There is always room on my blog for news about Spiderman 3. Did you know that the movie is coming out in May 2007? Well, it is and I'll be there to see it. There is a strong likelihood that I'll be pestering you about it much more as the months proceed.

True story: Just yesterday I was thinking about the fact that December is almost upon us and that this means the year is almost over. So, you might think I began woolgathering about my life, my accomplishments, the things my kids have achieved and learned in the past twelve months, right?


The first thing that occurred to me was: "Hey, if 2007 is almost here, that means that Spiderman 3 is almost here." I guess the lesson here is that some people waste a wonderful life.

But, if you, like me, enjoy each and every random bit of movie progress coming out of the Tobey Maguire/Sam Raimi camp, you might appreciate this new teaser trailer poster image.


More randomly--if you watch Studio 60, but think it's too Sorkinesque for your ultimate liking, or if you want to hear what a real writer's room on a REALLY good show sounds like, you should check out this post on Slate, which describes the awesomeness of Battlestar Galactica and gives you access to a podcast of the writers at work.


If you are interested/worried about the future of HD-DVD, Blu-Ray, and good ole regular DVD, then you should read this Slate article claiming that you should simply relax because on-demand downloads directly over the internet or cable line is the wave of the future. I hope they are right . . . as I don't want to replace all my DVDs (and I don't have that many!) and I haven't YET committed to buying an HD TV. When will I do that? Will it be the next time I purchase, which could be within a year?


And well, it wouldn't be a post without some sort of reference to LOST, right?

Well, I think even those of my readers who dislike LOST (Lulu) or simply don't watch (Dr. Actually, Cordelia, and Jack), I think you might like this post. Think the show has too many unanswered questions and have little faith that the answers will be forthcoming? Well, you've got nothing on these web heads, who have listed everything that has yet to be resolved.

It's quite an extensive list of mysteries.

Have fun getting angry!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

@ Home

This week I am leaving work at 3:15. Normally I do this so that I can pick up Sarah at 3:30 but now-a-days, she's got Drama Club at 3:30 right there at the school. So, I stayed a bit longer at the office tying up a few loose ends and then I left.

Work has been stressful for months now, what with the personnel changes, reorganization of the entire division as a result of adding a group that used to be separate and is now being folded in. This means new job openings, new management interviews, lots of uncertainty, upheaval, rumors. And all of it on top of the most stressful and time-intensive work schedule that most of us have faced in quite a few years.

Yeah, it's been stressful.

I have tried to not let it get to me, to try and not take it all personally and only take home stuff that I NEEDED to take home. And I suppose that I have been mostly successful in keeping things sane and in perspective. But, I know that I have made my share of mistakes in the projects I'm shepherding through and while I think I've caught them and corrected those to the best of my abilities, I know that I'll make more before all of this year's tasks are completed. And I know that when I discover the next one I'll struggle with my confidence, mistrust my abilities, and generally be in a bad mood for a day or two.

And for that, I am sorry to myself, my family, and those working around me.

As much as I try not to equate myself with my job, that still seems to be my default reaction when confronted with problems. (Oddly, I don't tend to do the same when presented with successes?)

But I am still learning and growing. I may struggle with these personality traits for ever. Maybe they simply are who I am and I must learn not to eradicate them but to work within their existence. After all, these personality traits also contribute to my desire to do quality work that I am proud of. They help make me conscientious to what I do and to those I work with. These traits give me drive and motivation. Those aren't bad things and they have contributed to my ability to get hired, get promoted, and assist in providing for my family.

So, life isn't REALLY all bad, no matter what my body language and facial expression may show at any random moment. And if you see me moping about, you are allowed to smack me upside the head and remind me of these words.


In other, more quirky news, there are interesting bits going on out there in the internets that I feel compelled to pass along to you.

1. One of my favorite websites, Adfreak, alerted me to a contest over on, a site that specializes in photoshop jokes. Seems they wanted people to take their favorite work of art and modify it to serve as an advertisement for a modern company. Just the sort of thing to annoy people that are annoyed by such things. (Note that some of these are probably considered "risque" but, hey, Renaissance art was all about the human form and it can't be any worse than the lies propagated by Dan Brown and The DaVinci Code, right?)

2. For fans of the recently cancelled Arrested Development, there is some good, if repetitive news.

Some of the show's early episodes are now available for viewing online.

I admit that while I was a fan of the show while it was on . . . and while I wish Fox hadn't gotten rid of it so soon, I feel a bit silly when thinking about how some people have obsessed about the show.

3. Speaking of silly things, how about this report that Hurley's dad on LOST is now going to be none other than Cheech Marin. Is LOST going downhill so fast that it is resorting to guest-casting as a stunt gimmick? Please, PLEASE, tell me that it isn't so!

4. I've got nothing else to say and my mind is befuddled.

Yet another disappointing finish to another blog post.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holidays are exhausting

It has been a very relaxing and very productively long holiday weekend.

I brought work home, but I don't think I'm going to do any of it tonight. I figure that work will always be available, but holidays don't come around that often and I should take advantage of them when they do arrive.

We went over to an old church friend's home for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Ruth, as always made delicious turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, seven-layer salad (my favorite thing), white chocolate cheesecake, date bars, and a nice relaxing time. Our kids played a bit with her grandchildren and best of all, we didn't have to cook anything at all (though we did help clean up a bit).

Lynda went shopping early Friday morning and I stayed home with the kids. Yesterday we pulled out all of the Christmas decorations and started getting ready for the Christmas season.

We got out our original tree and started putting decorations on it. The girls enjoyed putting on the ornaments and rocking out to "Holiday" music.

This year we bought a second tree (it was on sale) since we now have so many decorations that we can't fit them all on our original tree. And it gives us the opportunity to instigate a plan we formulated last year, but didn't implement until now--a theme tree, showing off the numerous snowmen ornaments that we have been collecting for the past many years.

It wasn't planned, but we suddenly realized a few years ago that we seemed to have quite a lot of snowmen stuff. So we decided to make it intentional.

Other than these typical holiday pursuits, Lynda and I did watch a few movies this long weekend.

First there was Pi, the Darren Aronofsky movie about a mathematician that is obsessed with finding the mathematical predictability behind humans systems. In the single-minded pursuit of his goal, he runs afoul of mystical Rabbis in search of God's true name as well as a criminal group looking to use his promised mathematical system to crack the stock market.

Lynda fell asleep about halfway through, as I suspected she might. But I found it to be an interesting film. It brought up things such as the underlying mysteries of the universe and whether or not we can understand them, the importance of numbers and number sequences, and odd obsessions with computers. Frankly, it reminded me a lot of some of the broader themes of LOST and I can see, after watching Pi, why Aronofsky wanted and tried to direct an episode of LOST during season 2. I hope he has the time and desire to try again in seasons 3 or 4. I think he would bring some interesting angles to the show.

The other film that we watched was in a theater--Stranger than Fiction, the Will Farrell movie about a ordinary man that discovers he is the character in a woman's book and she is planning to kill him off. We both thought that this movie was tons of fun to watch and we able to just relax and enjoy ourselves. Ferrell was funny and very understated in his role of Henry Glick. Dustin Hoffman was interesting as a English Lit professor pulled into service to try and identify the mysterious author that is omnisciently narrating Glick's life. Emma Thompson plays the author that is tortured with writer's block and then faced with remorse when she realizes that her literary musings might really affect someone's life. And Maggie Gyllenhaal rises above her brother to portray a bakery owner that gets intertwined in the story of Henry's impending demise.

Some parts of the movie made me think of J.K. Rowling writing the final Harry Potter book as we speak; I speculated if she shows remorse for her characters as she plots their demise. Whether you care about that or not, if you want some light entertaining fun, go see this movie that has a distinct visual style and is fun to immerse yourself in for a few hours.

Well, I'm going to stop this ramble now. It is a bit disjointed, but that's where my brain in right now, befogged with too much turkey, desserts, and relaxation. I'll try to sharpen my game a bit next time.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Thing That Came Out of the Library

Do you know what you are looking at right now?

It's called a "cloud," a graphical representation of any grouping of things, sized in such as way as to indicate the relative percentage of each item within that grouping. This particular grouping, as you can likely guess if a collection of authors--more specifically, the collection of authors represented in my home library.

You might wonder how I created this cloud and if you are, I can tell you that I did it while enjoying a very useful and interesting item on the internets.

It's called LibraryThing, a website that allows you to create a listing of all of your books. Once you have created your library of books, you can then search the site to find other people that have the same books as you or you can use the database to find other books that fit within your indicated likes and dislikes.

I think of it as something like the Netflix "Friends" feature. It is an example of how the internet's social functions can help open up new avenues to information and connections faster and easier than in the past. (Plus, it allows me to put a nifty widget on my blog sidebar displaying a random selection of my library's book covers, sort of like my Flickr photo widget.)

I think just about all of my blog-reading friends and family would find this site useful, interesting, and fun to peruse. And with the holidays coming up, it is a convenient place for you to check and see if I already own that book that you were thinking about buying for me.

Go check our my site, start your own, and have fun.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Giving Thanks

Monday night

I'm thankful that someone at Fox Broadcasting had the human decency to not air that dispicable O.J. Simpson television interview.

I'm thankful that the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix teaser trailer is up and viewable and I am thankful that those nice people at the Leaky Cauldron work so hard to help me stay informed without me doing a whole lot of work.

I'm thankful that there weren't mass arrests and riots and fires as a result of this win.

(I'll add more in the coming days . . .)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Expressing Anxiety Through Metaphor

Lately I've just been trying to keep my head above water.

The problem is, as soon as my head breaks the surface and I start to breathe, a shark swims by and bits my head off.

Truly, I am between a rock and a hard place--neither spot is terribly comfortable (though not life-threatening or positively destructive, but all the same both positions are damaging and scaring.


Calgon . . . take me away!!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Justin Long--a defense of sorts

I just heard that Justin Long, he of recent (in)fame(y) has been fired from the "Get a Mac" commercials. (You might say he has to "force quit." HA! Mac humor!)

Anyway . . .

I know some people didn't like Mr. Long, but I've always enjoyed his humor and his sort of understated geeky elegance--if there is such a thing? Maybe his quality should be called "approachable hipsterness" or "everyday dweebishness"?

ANYWAY . . .

I feel sorry for Justin. I liked him on "Ed," when he played earnest/anxious/neurotic Warren Cheswick. But you don't have to worry much about Justin. He, apparently, has an answer for Apple and the widespread accusations of his smarmy acting style. And, also, he may be in line to be the next John McClane!

You read that right.

I would love to see Justin try to outsmarm Alan Rickman.

I would LOVE to see Justin and

The Spidey 3 Trailer EVENT

I think it was simulcast over several networks at once last night and hit the web at the same time.

You can watch it here.

I don't take back my concerns in the previous months that this movie is taking on too many characters, too many stories, but the trailer does look good.


--Everyone is talking very in very subdued voices--even Mary Jane and Peter. They seem pretty depressed, which is either a function of the darker story line or the actor's being tired of their roles.

--THC's character is (apparently?) the same guy that killed Uncle Ben in movie 1. What? Can anyone say retcon? It's a different actor!!

--Spidey never missed a chance to pose in front of a humongous flag, does he?

--Topher Grace isn't seen much in the trailer. Is he supposed to be Eddie Brock?

--Where does the black ooze symbiote (I'm assuming they are following the comic book Venom storyline) come from? Did John Jamieson bring it back from space? He's nowhere to be seen in the trailer either. Is he still recovering from the wedding day jilting.

--Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood should sue Sam Raimi and Tobey for stealing that whole "falling backwards grabbing at the ring thing." Though I suppose Peter Parker might be a LotR fan . . .

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An Open Letter to the Creators of LOST

Dear Carlton and Damon:

Everyone loved your first season. Hey, you single-handedly saved a network and inspired other networks to created mindless clones of your show that weren't very good. You created a phenomenon, spawned countless arguments, chat room discussions, web searches for Geronimo Jackson, even made people try to read classic literature. You've gotten people to talk about electromagnetism, cloning, and polar bear mating patterns (sometimes at the same time!). You've spawned hundreds of websites, launched dozens of podcasts, and inspired a whole summer of internet cross promotion.

I've totally defended you for the past season and a third. I hung in there during the slow down of season two (hey, everyone can have a sophomore slump). I supported the button, the strange heiroglyphs, the debate over whether the button was important or not, whether the countdown was real or a psychological experiment. I was excited about the black-light map, the first looks at Smokey the Lostzilla Monster. I didn't HATE Ana-Lucia and I was genuinely shocked with the actions of Michael (though I got reeeallly tired of his yelling for Walt).

I really enjoyed season two's finale--the hatch implosion, the violet light, the sound, the kidnapping, the Jack doppelganger in Portugal or wherever he was.

I even patiently explained to everyone that the split schedule for season three was a good thing. Six episodes in a row and then a break (it's during the holidays when people don't watch as much TV anyway). And then . . . nonstop LOST all the way to the end. I'm okay with that (even if I'm NOT okay with Taye Digg's show).

But, seriously guys? Have you been reading the internets? Have you been searching with the Google? Are you aware that people are giving up on you guys and giving up on your show? Are you so isolated with your yes men, show runners, and coffee delivery that you aren't aware that Heroes is eating your lunch? That is it the new darling, the new LOST season 1? That Tim Kring (who I have heard is a friend . . . whatever) is pointedly saying that HIS show gives ANSWERS and doesn't make the fans WAIT. Are you gonna take that?

More importantly, am I going to look like a deluded jerk for supporting you when this is all over? You said that this first six episode pod to begin season three would be great, would be exciting, would carry us over until February.

But, so far, I'm not sure. What have we learned? Why do we still have NO inkling how the people in the Hatch escaped from it's implosion with no (permanent) damage? Why are you foisting Nikki and Paolo on us when there is absolutely no indication why they are important at all? Is the eye-patch guy in one of the other hatches even REMOTELY important?

What you have shown us this season is the departure of Eko . . . but no understanding for why. Sure, it seems that Locke might have gotten some of his momentum back, but what's he going to do with it? And hey, thanks for all of the deep insight into Jack, Kate, and Sawyer and whatever the hell is happening over on Other Alcatraz. It's been great fun to see Kate and Sawyer bust up rocks while Jack sits around and does absolutely nothing but yell at people. (Heck, he used to do that back at Lostaway camp, but at least there Hurley got to say "Dude, calm down." every once in a while.)

So, what I'm saying is . . . get on with it. If you are going to start showing sixteen nonstop episodes starting in February, they had damn well better be worth it.

Proposition Sawyer to join the Others Team.
Bring Michael and Walt back from their wanderings in the boat.
Explain why Desmond can predict the future.
Give Charlie more to do that be a enormous asshole.
Make Hurley the bastard child of Alvar Hanso.

Whatever. But do it fast . . . because if you haven't heard, all people want to do now is

Monday, November 06, 2006

Our excursion to Springfield, Ohio

As promised a few posts back, I gonna describe the exciting time that Lynda and I had in Springfield, Ohio last Friday and Saturday. (That's right--for fun we chose to spend the night in nearby, picturesque Springfield, Ohio. Hey, don't knock it if you haven't tried it.

The reason for visiting Springfield was to go see the Frank Lloyd Wright Westcott House, a Prairie Style home that he built for an auto-maker living in Springfield at the turn of the century. This is the only Prairie Style home in Ohio and was opened to the public in October 2005 after many years of restoration. I heard about the house from Jack Thunder and Cordelia a few months back and at the time, I said that I would go with them sometime to experience the glory.

But then . . . my parents came to visit and they kindly offered to babysit overnight so Lynda and I could have some go out on a date. Lynda agreed to see the Westcott, since Springfield is pretty close--only thirty minutes west.

While investigating the Westcott House website, I noticed that there was a offer for a tour package that included tickets for the tour, a special gift and book from the gift store, and a night's stay in the Marriott hotel in downtown Springfield, which also included dinner and breakfast at the fancy bistro restaurant in the hotel.

We'd never been to Springfield, and so we didn't really know much about what was there or the quality of the restaurant. But we were extremely pleased with the food. It was great and the amount of money we spent on the room and the food we ate were more than covered by the price of the tour package.

But Springfield itself was nice also. The weather wasn't as nice as we wanted, but the hotel downtown was in a nicely renovated area, which seemed to me to be a former train station area.

These are buildings across the street from our third floor room. It could be a church (frankly I'm not sure) but it might also be part of an old, renovated train station complex. There was a railroad line that ran through the area right next to the hotel. The hotel lobby offered complementary ear plugs to drown out any train noise, but it didn't bother me.

The next day, we visited the house.

On the way back home, we drove past this nice old power plant. I took a picture of it because during the tour, our guide mentioned that Springfield was one of first towns to get electricity. Now I don't know if that is true or not, but it made me appreciate this old building.

These posts don't really do justice to the whole experience of the visit. But it does give me a handy reason to use this opportunity to launch my latest web site addition to the Why Won't You Grow?! family.

Why Won't You Visit?!
is a thematic site, intended to list many of the sites, sounds, and things to do in the area. It is not complete yet, but I'll be periodically adding to it to provide a resource for those who dare venture up here to visit the family . . . if coming to visit me isn't reason enough, that is.

So, come for Burb, stay for the Frank Lloyd Wright, enjoy the wide variety of stuff. You'll be glad you did. I promise.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Good News? No Aliens!!

I posted a rambling review of tonight's episode of LOST, "The Cost of Living," over on WWYG?! Omnimedia. I put it there to avoid anyone reading spoilers they might want to avoid . . . and to fulfill my tri-monthly use of the Omnimedia location.

If you don't want to read my ramblings on LOST, might I suggest you try "Doc" Jensen's brand of DHARMA kool-aid? It seems that he's been drinking a LOT of it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick-or-treat live blog, year 2

The official trick-or-treat time has arrived and my two princesses are off with Mom and the kids from next door into the rainy darkness to panhandle for sugary snacks.

I'm here on my porch, accompanied by season-appropriate drawings affixed to the door, my autumnal scarecrow, and a traditional jack-o-lantern accompanied by a cat-o-lantern designed by my oldest princess.

I've got three bowls of treats arrayed in front of me and I'm ready for any visitors in this dank, damp night. I can hear a few voices across the street and wonder why they didn't cross. They seem to intent on milking the neighborhood in a systematic fashion rather than randomly hitting whatever houses seem inviting.

I was prepared to be the walker (as opposed to being the treat-giver). I was even going to bring my old wizard costume out of the closet this year, but at the last minute, I decided I'd rather sit and listen to the holiday happenings around me instead of being a part of it. (That sounds like I'm against it all, but that's not the case.)

Random note #1--I just heard some kids across the street successfully get candy and then walk away singing "BAH DAH BOP BAH BAH, I'm lovin' it!" (sigh) McDonalds wins again.

Still no one comes to my side of the street. Am I putting off some sort of anti-Halloween vibe? Are my jack-/cat-o-lanterns not good enough? I'm developing a Halloween complex. Where is the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? (And it's only 18 minutes in!)

Speaking of preparations . . . I briefly though about trying to figure out how I could get our synthesizer piano keyboard in the basement to record and then playback spooky sounds and dissonant organ music. Wouldn't that be creepy? Next year . . .

Come on kids . . . if you don't hurry up and start taking my candy, then I'll have to eat it myself. That would indeed be a scary thing.

Random note #2--there is an ant with a leaf or a spider or a fly crawling around on the porch with me and I know there is a small spider on the porch banister beside me. I purposely didn't get rid of them to increase the spooky ambiance.

SCORE! My first visitors . . . a nice young man dressed as a skeleton and another kid dressed as Ghost Rider. Nicolas Cage would be so proud--and his movie isn't even in the theaters yet.

A group of 13/14 year old girls (about six of them) just arrived and they were all dressed as The Desperate Housewives (complete with one in fairy wings serving as the disembodied narrative voice of Mary Alice. Rest easy Marc Cherry . . . your show has reachieved some relevance in its bounce-back third season.

I thought about dressing up as something for Halloween at work today, but I just couldn't come up with anything. I kind of wanted to be a LOST character, but how to pull it off? Admittedly, I didn't try to think really hard about it, since my parents have been visiting, but I should have been able to come up with something, right?

(My parents' visit was great, by the way. We had a really good time and Lynda and I got to get away Friday night/Saturday morning to beautiful Springfield, Ohio to visit the newly restored--rebuilt really--Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Westcott House. I'll post a much more extensive and detailed description of the trip tonight or tomorrow, maybe.)

Another group of two girls just came and went--as Supermodels. I've got to say that the kids are being very cautious in their candy-taking. The Supermodels even asked how much they could take. Most everyone has only taken a few pieces. Don't I remember people just grabbing handfuls in the past?

Finally another two boys arrived (it's 6:30 now) and one was dressed as Ball Pit Boy, while the other had on a suit and was carrying a briefcase. I would have thought suit boy was a secret service agent--because he had some sort of headphones as well, but the briefcase didn't work. Secret Service Agents don't carry briefcases, do they? Wouldn't it sort of slow down their reaction times? Unless it was armor plated and used as a shield? Hmmm.

How can I make my house spookier next year? I should probably hang a ghost or something in the tree in the front yard. But it would be impossible to see at night unless you hit it with a spotlight, which would expose it as a fraudulent decoration and defeat the entire purpose. Many people have inflatable pumpkins and stuff like that, but I don't really like that. And at the grocery store I see very elaborate snow globe-like inflatable things with swirling confetti inside it. Those things just aren't right, in my opinion.

Now I had two families in quick succession with their infants--one dressed as Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer and the other in a fullbody plush duck outfit. I made sure the parents took some candy, because otherwise, it's just going to go to my desk at work and my local readers will have to eat it.

But, back to my spooky decorations . . . maybe I should get some Halloween-colored lights. Except that my outside electric outlets don't work, so it's harder to rig up lighting out there. No, wait . . . I can use an extension cord to snake to another outlet. So, yeah . . . maybe Halloween lights would be a good way to go next year.

I am proud of our jack- and cat-o-lanterns. This is the first year that we actually carved pumpkins and it has worked out great, I think. The jack-o-lantern is as traditional as they get and Sarah did a great job of drawing the cat-o-lantern. Lynda did an equally fine job of carving it.

It's 6:45 and I've still got LOTS of candy here. Come on kids! Get a move on!

(I just ate a White Chocolate Reese's Cup . . . I'm only human!)

I'm now searching through my iTunes library trying to find spooky music to play while I sit here. I don't find much of it, truthfully, though the album names can be deceiving: "Bury the Hatchet," "Mutations," "Hello Nasty," "The Mysterious Production of Eggs," "Funeral," "Revolver, "Medulla," "Blood on the Tracks," "A Rush of Blood to the Head," "Beautiful Freak," "The Best of Elmo," "Demon Days," "Monster," "The Execution of All Things," and "Clones." Maybe I should choose some Radiohead. It is usually strange, but not really spooky--unless you believe Chuck Klosterman's assertion that Kid A is really a description of the events of September 11, 2001. (Click on link and then scroll down to the heading Lyrics and Meaning.)

I hear my kids crossing across the street. They've been out for an hour and should have a pretty good haul. I've had sporadic visitors, but they've only put a dent in the candy I've got here. And most of it has come out of the chocolate left by our neighbor.

Now that it is one hour down, I'll probably see more teenagers than little kids (it is kind of cold, after all), but even the teen boys that just walked away with their stereotypical scary masks only took one piece each! What is it with kids anyway? Have they finally grown worried about the excessive increase in diabetes in young children and the epidemic of obesity in America today??

Or does our candy suck?


I'm hitting a lull in my steam-of-consciousness blog tonight, but now there are lots of kids approaching. And I'm not kidding . . . a LOT of kids, maybe 12 all in a big group. Boys and girls in a whirl of skeletons, Spidermen, zombies, princesses, cowboys, bandits, and stuff I couldn't even identify. They asked if they could take one candy from each bowl--the left filed with Starburst and Skittles, the middle basket with Reeses cups, and the right filled with Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops.

I just had another group of girls, two of them with enormous red fur hats and wearing shaded glasses and dresses. They claimed to be the non-descript catch-all costume of divas. Divas, huh? When I was a kid, we dressed as actual, definable things like Raggedy Andy and Underdog, Superman, and Captain Kangeroo. Now kids just throw on random junk from a thrift store and call themselves a diva. I guess Tyra Banks would be proud?

I hear another herd of kids approaching from down and across the street. I reckon they'll come by soon, once they hit the corner and turn.

My neighbor catty-corner to my really sells it whenever people approach. He exclaims delight at the costumes for all to hear, shouting that he "loves it!" for each visitor. Me? I'm more of a soft-sell. I am polite and welcoming, I think but much more subdued. I chat a bit and try to be generous with the snacks, but I'm not going to yell and exclaim. Maybe I'm just not good enough? Or is it the scented candles burning in the jack-o-lantern and cat-o-lantern? Is it a scented candle or the gradual roasting of the interior pumpkin flesh of the sacrificial gourd?

Random note #3--someone just screamed up the way, causing a gaggle of girls to shriek in the dark. I guess it was a boy who found himself lacking an inkwell to dip pig-tails into. But such is the intricate mating dance of the pubescent teen.

Another group of three girls just left, all dressed similar to Vicki Lawrence as "Mama" (remember "Mama's Family"?). One even had a walker. Carol Burnett would be proud.

Random note #4--I've been hearing strange kaboom noises to my right most of the night and I think I've finally solved where it was coming from. Since I ruled out the presence of small cannons in the neighborhood, I noticed that several kids have been carrying balloons up to the porch. The kabooms must be balloons being stepped on.

(It's 7:27 and I'm beginning to get a chilly feeling in my legs that the corduroys can't banish. Plus, the Reeses Cups are almost gone and any future visitors will be forced to select from Skittles, Starburst, and various Tootsie-themed snacks.)

Random note #5--I haven't seen any pirates so far tonight. Has Johnny Depp's Caribbean persuasion finally flagged? I mean, Nicolas Cage's movie has demonstrated a presence tonight.

(7:44 pm)

I'm entering the home stretch. Now I'm hearing teenagers screaming and running in the dark more than I'm hearing any trick-or-treating. I just finished reading last year's Halloween post--the first of the trick-or-treat blogs. I think this one is better, even if I haven't gotten into the costemery as much.

We'll definitely have leftover candy, but there's nothing to be done about it. I am now concerned with how my kids are doing inside the nice warm house. How much candy have they consumed? How insane is their sugar rush right now? Will they ever go to bed? Will Lynda and I ever have the time tonight to watch the recorded episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Heroes that Dr. Actually lent me today?

I think when I go inside, I'll warm up with some nice microwaved apple cider. Unless we don't have any more of that, in which case I will probably go with a mug of hot chocolate.

Random note #6-- Do you say hot chocolate or hot cocoa? Is that a regional preference? "Cocoa" just sounds sort of pretentious to me, but maybe I'm just insecure.

Now Sarah is keeping vigil on the porch with me, along with our next-door-neighbor's girl. Sarah was out here initially to try and cajole me to let her have another piece of candy. (Apparently, Lynda had set a two-piece only limit tonight, so maybe the sugar rush won't be so bad.) But now our neighbor has gone home and Lynda is getting the kids ready for bed and trying to deflect further entreaties for candy.

So, I'd better shut down and help get the kids asleep. I'll probably leave the lights on and the candy out for a bit.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Feeling LOST

I'll talk about last night's episode sometime, but what I'm really here to talk about now is the preview for next week's episode, entitled "The Cost of Living."

This might get spoilerific, so if you DON'T WANT TO GET SPOILED, THEN STOP READING NOW!!

The promo talked about "two episodes left" (until the hiatus till February) and "the Island" getting restless.

But the image at the end is what is controversial and disturbing. Last night, it looked for all the world like an alien down in the hatch. I had scary fears of this episode being written by M. Night Shyamalan or other horrible fears.

After watching the promo and seeing some stills (which you can also if you follow this link), I am a bit more at ease. Certainly, M. Night isn't involved (that was only a joke on my part) but the imagery doesn't look like an alien.

The brief synopsis that I've seen tell me that this is an Eko-centric episode, in which he "deals with the demons in his past." Are the mysterious figures seen on the hatch screens Eko's demons?

Let's hope that is what they are . . . cause if it IS aliens, then I'm throwing my LOST DVDs away and burning my TV.

Pictures from the past

It's been a few days since I last posted, and you can't wait too long between posts or people will become disinterested and find other, more reliable internet entertainment.

So, here's my post for today, in honor of my parent's arrival into town. I wanted to be ready for their visit with my newest blog project, which I occasionally hint about but have never revealed the details (which I continue in this post today). Someday I'll get it done, but don't be too disappointed . . . you probably won't find it very useful.

Anyway, the way to honor my parent's arrival is to post some pictures that Shirtless had of me as a wee shaver. Why did he have them? Well, honestly I don't really remember all the details--my memory is getting worse. But they are good pictures, don't you think.

Think Van Halen here . . .

Dedicate one to the ladies...
Now summertime's here babe, need somethin' to keep you cool
Ah, now summertime's here babe, need somethin' to keep you cool
Better look out now though, Dave's got somethin' for you
Tell ya what it is
I'm your ice cream man, stop me when I'm passin' by
Oh my, my, I'm your ice cream man, stop me when I'm passin' by
See now all my flavors are guaranteed to satisfy
Hold on a second baby

I got bim bam banana pops, dixie cups
All flavors and pushups too

I'm your ice cream man baby, stop me when I'm passin' by
See now all my flavors are guaranteed to satisfy Hold on, one more

Well I'm usually passin' by just about eleven o'clock
Uh huh, I never stop
I'm usually passin' by just around eleven o'clock
And if ya' let me cool you one time, you'll be my regular stop

All right boys!

I guess Dad took these pictures, but Mom is the one responsible for purchasing the red, 1974 pants! My question is, how much line is out in that pond if I am that far away from the bank?

Anyway, enjoy yet another trip down memory lane here on WWYG?! I'll get back to current events and other random junk some day.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Studio 60 and other things Hollywood

Have you watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? Do you have a strong opinion (either positive or negative) like most other people that watch the show? Do you want to see it succeed or would you rather it fail?

I have watched the show and I can say that I am of mixed opinions regarding whether the show is good or bad, ridiculously pretentious or simply more of the same Sorkinesque style that we should all have expected from the beginning.

I watched a bit of Sorkin's first tv show about backstage TV (Sports Night). As I've said to readers around the office, I found the dialogue a bit off-putting. No one really talks like Sorkin writes and while I understand that it is refreshing to see people challenge one another verbally on television for a change, it just felt TOO forced.

I never really watched The West Wing. I admire what it stood for and what it did, but I just wasn't that much of a fan.

So, why have I been watching Studio 60? Mostly because it (and Heroes) are the best thing on Monday nights and I can't sit and do office work into the night or blog all the time, can I? Plus, I am a sucker for buzz . . . and this show had lots of buzz heading into September. The idea seemed interesting, so I thought I would give it a try.

I . . . like it, but that is a qualified like. I still find the verbal patter to be grating at times, and I don't like the fact that this feels exactly like the West Wing, but just transplanted from the most famous building in Washington D.C. to the back stage of a Hollywood studio. And, I don't like the reports that the plot line so far are just warmed-over retellings of Sorkin's own romantic and professional mistakes.

Some fan I am, huh? Nothing but criticism.

But, the potential for something is there. Having someone of Sorkin's intelligence and (undeniable) skill with words and rhetoric turning his pen towards television could be really great. Unfortunately, Sorkin doesn't know how to be funny in the Saturday Night Live style. (It is debatable if SNL remembers how to be funny either . . . but well . . .) Anyway, the sketches of the show-within-the-show need to be greatly improved or simply removed from view. And I like the Harriet character. She's a Christian, but she's not a stereotypically right-wing mindless Christian (I think). We'll see where it goes, but it had better move away from the romance of Mat and Harry really fast. I'll get my romance somewhere else, thanks.

But enough about what I think. I found that the hard-workers over at Entertainment Weekly have interesting things to say about Studio 60. Many of them absolutely don't like the show, while others are standing up for it. I like the arguments that people gave the West Wing a pass because it was supposed to be important, while television is not important at all.


If you don't want to discuss that, then how about this list? Who ARE the most influential fictional characters in culture? I am instantly worried about the fact that the Marlboro Man is more "influential than Santa Claus. (Huh?) I also a bit stunned that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is more influential than Batman. (That sort of tells you how old the writers are.) And please, pity poor Paul Bunyan who is deemed less influential than John Doe, who is a fiction of a fiction--if you see what I mean. This list is taken, I think, from a book recently published.

I like these sort of stupid lists and I always wonder why I'm not writing these sorts of things. Do people actually make a living writing this? Where do I sign up?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I got some interesting emails from my Dad this morning. There is a cotton field across the street from his house and a while back he was showing it to my Uncle during a visit. (My Uncle grew up in Iran.) Just a few days ago, Dad took photographs of the cotton as it neared harvest.

Dad, being an agronomist, knows quite a bit about growing crops in Georgia. He grew corn, soybeans, sorghum and other varieties for research in south Georgia for thirty plus years. Plus, as you'll read below, he has a rather intimate relationship with growing and picking cotton.

I found the photographs and the accompanying explanations very interesting and a slice of history and life. I hope you enjoy it. (The rest of the text is written by Dad and taken from his emails.)


I am sending some pictures and will try to explain something about what is seen in the pictures.

This first picture shows several bowls (this is the roundish growth) that have split open and is ready to harvest.

This picture shows a fully opened bowl with cotton locks hanging out. Hard rains can beat the cotton out of the open bowls, so it is important to get the crop harvested before a big rain occurs. Fortunately, September & October are very dry months, making for good harvest weather.

This picture shows a view of the entire field approaching harvest time. You can't see from this view, but about half of the bowls have cracked open and about half are yet to open. The farmers sprayed a chemical over the field about 2 weeks ago that causes the leaves to dry and fall off and promotes the cracking and opening of the bowls.

This is a view of two open bowls with cotton removed. A bowl with cotton still intact is in the background. The bowls with the cotton removed are called burs. The points are quite sharp and can hurt your hands, if one had to harvest by hand. Of course, they have large "cotton pickers" (machines) that remove the cotton and partially clean it, removing leaves and field trash.

Shows close-up of components of mature cotton bowl. Cotton removed (referred to as "lint"), burs with cotton removed and small cotton seed. I pulled these out of the lint by hand so you could see them. Normally you do not see these in the field. The seed will removed by a machine referred to as a "cotton gin." It is a place where the farmers takes his cotton crop for sale. The company who buys the crop dumps large loads into a large machine called a gin which separates the lint from the seed. The lint is baled in large bales what weighs about 500 pounds each. It remains in these bales until it is sold to a company that would make cotton thread of differing sizes, which is then used to make cloth material or other products. The seed would be "cleaned" to remove the fuzzy lint that remains after the ginning process. This cleaned seed could be used to plant the crop next year or used to make "cotton meal," an excellent source of plant protein used in animal feed, including pet foods.

Another view of a plant with several open bowls ready to harvest. The farmer has to wait until about 99% of the bowls are open and ready to harvest, so you have bowls in various stages of being "open" or ready to harvest. Heavy, prolonged rains during this waiting period can cause lots of damage since some of the cotton can be knocked to the ground by rains and strong winds and would be rendered useless to the farmer. Or it can begin to sprout (germinate) in the open bowls, again making it useless. This field was grown without irrigation and limited rainfall, so it is not a great field of cotton. You can't see it from these pictures, but there are many small bowls that are about half mature and are partially open. These are not worth much to the farmer since it reduces his overall yield potential.

Close- up view of a beautiful, open bowl, ready for harvest. It would be excellent if all of them looked like this.

Another close-up view of a beautiful bowl open and ready to harvest. If one picked by hand. like I did as a child, you would love to find a field like this. You can quickly remove the lint from the burs and move along to the next plant. It took lots of hard work to pick 200 pounds a day. Farmers only paid about 4-5 cents/pound so you had to work extremely hard to make $8-10/day when I was about 10-12 years old. I recall coming home from school in the fall and heading for the cotton patch. I might get 15-20 pounds picked before it was time to head for the house and feed hogs. chickens, or milk cows before dark.. Oh, the good ole days.

Get your sack, the long tube-like sack that we pulled along behind us and held the hand-picked cotton, and meet me in the cotton pitch. It was kind of fun in ways. I recall several very serious talks with my mom as we worked along beside each other, picking cotton and discussing the meaning of living a good life, working hard, being honest, loving God and neighbor, so it was more than just picking cotton. Guess we miss some of that closeness these days.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Audio memory

A few posts ago, I wrote about a scent memory that I had which reminded me of my days working at the college museum.

Tonight, as we do on most Tuesdays, we drove to Hilliard to attend our Bible study group made up of old friends from our first church. While it is sometimes hard to fit the drive into our weekly schedule, we find time to do it most days.

Since it is Autumn, it is dark when we are driving home on the interstate, crossing the top of the city's outerbelt around 9 pm. Maybe it was the slight chill in the air, certainly it was the darkness, but most importantly, it was the sounds that made it all come back to me.

The low, throaty ululation of the tires rotating on the asphalt.

The creak of the brake pedal being depressed and the slow rhythmic slowing of the car as it pulls up to a stop sign.

The sound of a hand rubbing along a turning steering wheel. The slight whoosh of air as another car passes on the other side of the road.

I heard all of these things as we drove back off the interstate and through the streets to our house. It reminded me of the trips to see my grandmother in Kentucky during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, driving the last thirty miles or so through the state highways and country roads of Western Kentucky, after nightfall and following a long day of very rhythmic interstate monotony.

Those last few miles through the Kentucky darkness, through my unfamiliarity, into my Dad's childhood always sounded different than the 400 miles of I-75 that proceeded it. I always wondered how my Dad did it, driving those last miles in the darkness, into his past, never needing a roadmap, always knowing where he was going.

Of course he knew where he was going.

I look at my hands now and I see that they are of my Dad's hands. Certainly my hands are not his hands. They have been put to different uses in their past and have different stories to tell. But they are related to one another. The shapes are similar; the hair patterns are familiar.

I now know something of what it is to be a Dad. I wonder if my kids think similar things of me when we drive at night. Do they wonder how I keep it all straight? Do they wonder if I understand everything, that I have everything in control? I certainly wondered that about my own Dad at times. I never worried about his state of mind. I never worried that he wasn't certain about who he was, what he was doing, and the daily pressures of his job, his faith, his work.

I think I know enough now to realize that he did have all of these worries, these fears and I was simply too young and inexperienced to realize it.

And that is how it should be.

God bless youth. May those of us that are older remember that innocence and take advantage of that perspective when we need it the most.

I'll also never be known as Mr. Underhill

I really ought to say more and do more, reflect more on this day . . .

I'm now two years older than Frodo was when he set off with Sam for the Inn at the Prancing Pony.

The chances that I'll ever see a dragon, drink honey mead with Tom Bombadil, or visit elves is pretty slim.

But on the plus side, Frodo never got married to a wonderful woman and had two wonderful daughters. And while Bilbo was a good uncle and a kind hobbit, Frodo never had the benefit of my parents, brothers, and sister, nor the wide array of friends that I have had over the years.

Nope, I'll never wear a mithril shirt under my waistcoat, but I've done all right.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

(If you can think of a good title that pulls all of this together, please suggest it in the Comments section below)

We got out twice this weekend, because you can't deny the power of a beautiful October weekend when the air is crisp, you've got to put on a jacket and you enjoy the particularly clear quality of the Autumn air.

I should explain that we initially intended to get out once (at least) this weekend, but events transpired to get us out more than that. Lynda and I knew that our community was holding a Fall Festival this weekend at one of the local parks close to our house. We figured that would be a fine way to spend some time outside with the girls . . . food, carnival games, crafts. So, we were all set on Saturday afternoon . . . spurred on by the fact that we chose Saturday morning as the day to finally paint Grace's bedroom and we knew the paint fumes and paint-drying times would push us out of the house.

So . . . Friday night we wiped off the walls in Grace's room and Lynda put up the painters tape on the jambs and baseboards. Then Saturday morning, we started cutting in along the baseboard, across the ceiling and down the corner seams. Then Lynda took the kids to the grocery store while I put down the primer coat. By the time that was done, we both had paint headaches and were ready for lunch. So, off we went to the Fall Festival . . . only to discover a big fat bunch of nothing at the park.

Turns out we had the wrong day . . . which, I suppose we should have known seeing as how the OSU football team actually playing a football game that day and it takes nothing short of a nuclear bomb to get people to consider other things on Football Saturdays. So, we punted, turned around for home, packed up a picnic lunch and returned to the quiet part to eat a lunch and play for a while, waiting for the primer coat to finish drying.

When we got home, we got the kids interested in some movie or something and quickly started painting the walls--three a light purple and one dark purple for accent and contrast. (Grace had chosen the purple color. You may also remember that we did something similar for Sarah's room, but with shades of pink.) We let the paint dry overnight and got the kids to bed late--Grace slept in the guest room (sometimes known as the Haunted Room, according to Shirtless).

Today, after church we headed back to the park for the actual festival, which was pretty fun. The food choices weren't as varied as I would have preferred and the carnival games were all ticket-based (this was a fund raiser for some community organization), but we spent some money on games. Sarah had a good time on the rock-climbing tower and I herded Grace through the inflatable obstacle course. They clambered for cotton candy and then proceeded to be pretty underwhelmed by it once they ate it.

When we got home, feeling good about being outside two days in a row, I finished putting Grace's room back together. I am pretty happy with it, I must say. It looks like a bigger girls room and not a baby room or some unknown kids room. I think the kid's are beginning to impose their personality into things now and that is okay.

Speaking of imposing personalities, you might recall the post about Grace's daycare photos from last March. Well, she got another set of photos taken recently and you can see that she is growing up rapidly. Most important of all, however, especially considering how hard it was to get her to smile last year, this one is REALLY good:


In other random news, I have finally gotten another of Sarah's books scanned and ready for viewing by the anonymous internet masses. She wrote this book during our trip to Arizona this summer. When she wasn't learning about the different kinds of cactus or ignoring the grandeur that is the Grand Canyon, she sat at her Great Aunt's dining room table and created storybooks. This was probably the best one she made during the trip:

It's entitled Bippity Boppity Boo. (I will provide transcriptions of the text, not because I don't think it is legible, but because when I repaired the book with staples, it cut off some of the text along the margins and so the scans are not as clear as they should be. Unfortunately, my daughter is not yet aware of the concept of a book's gutter.)

(You can see that she already has the author's need for recognition.) "My Mom is magic." (Presumably she means that her mom has magical abilities or is a magician, not that her mom is the personification of the concept known as magic.

"I go to school and I tell my friends about my Mom. But they didn't believe me."

"When I got home my Mom was practicing her magic trick. 'Mom,' I say, 'What are you doing, Mom?'"

"The next day my Mom is going to the Magic Show. I got to school. 'Bye!' says Mom."

"I am sad my Mom is not coming tonight. The next day my Mom comes back."

"I had so much fun." (Playing checkers with Mom--not pictured.) "I like magic."

"I love my Mom. This is for two-year-olds from PBS Kids." (I found it startling that she branded the book and even considered the book's level. Completely unprompted, by the way. Do you think I would encourage this? It's best when such things are spontaneous and surprising.)

The End


Hopefully, you have enough patience for one more observation that occurred to me yesterday evening. While cleaning up after the kids and putting toys away, I took a good look at the box cover of the Princess Monopoly game.

This probably says more about me than anything regarding the Disney company, but the poses of the myriad of princesses seemed to say something about their personalities to me. Ariel, front-and -center exudes a girlish charm that befits the youngest princess. I would say that Disney is being anti-ethnic by placing Pocahontas and Mulan on the edges, but there is Arabic Jasmine right near the center. (Placement must have something to do with overall box office receipts than with nationality.) Princess Aurora, nee Briar Rose, nee Sleeping Beauty is mirrored by Cinderella on the flanks. Both seem to carry themselves with the confidence of many years of Disney Princesshood. Similarly Snow White exudes a confidence of stance that I do not think is appropriate considering her antiquated style of singing. I don't really know why Belle (of Beauty and the Beast) is the only princess with her back to the "camera." But she has the best come hither expression of all the princesses and I must confess that I like her the best--she's got book smarts, you see.

Now that I think about it, all of the princesses are foreign--with the exception of Pocahontas. They all come from other countries or kingdoms. Belle from France, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Cinderella from undisclosed European places, Mulan from China, Jasmine from Stereotypical Arabia, and Ariel from Under the Sea. Pocahontas was from Virginia.