Friday, April 30, 2010

If an alien ship came down and opened the door, and if your wife and kids weren't watching, would you get in?


(Really, nothing more needs to be said . . . but I guess I will.)

Do you think me callous? Willing to abandon my family for the cold, unknown void of space?

But in this case, I would be serving as the ambassador of the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE. (And who better than me, right?)

Isn't it more important for me to serve as a willing ambassador than to continue overseeing my family? And isn't the woman's liberation movement all about trusting my wife to take over the reign of my family in the event of my departure by alien abduction? (I'm pretty sure that Susan B. Anthony mentioned that in some 1920 speech.)

Would any of YOU pass up the opportunity to see things in space that you simply can't even imagine?

Sound off in comments, please and tell me that I'm crazy or that you are entirely on my side.

That's my answer.

Thanks for asking!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

to travel into the PAST or into the FUTURE?

I have studied and received college degrees in both anthropology and history, so I'm supposed to say the Past, right?

Well, partly, yes.

There are things in the Past that would be undeniably cool to see--the first Model T driving down the road, the Wright Brothers flight, the creation of the lead pencil, the painting of the Sistine Chapel, the first episode of "Moonlighting!"

But, I've always been captivated by the FUTURE. (As I think I've noted in some digital space before, I'm the kid that spend summer afternoons with nothing but a wooden picnic table, a folding camp chair, and my imagination as I piloted the Millenium Falcon through asteroid fields and past Darth Vader's laser cannon bursts.)

So . . . I think I would pick traveling into the FUTURE!

In that way I could:

a.) find out how LOST ends before anyone else! (My current theory is that the last six years of the "Island" is simply a dream being had by one of the DHARMA polar bears held in captivity at the Hydra Station.

b.) learn what the marginal tax rate increase will be in fiscal year 2012!

c.) Get an iPad . . . WITH FLASH capabilities! (Oh . . . wait, we're talking about the FUTURE here, not alternate realities.)

d.) fuel my DeLorean time machine with banana peels and the last swallows of a Diet Pepsi + the aluminum in the can.

e.) and all sorts of other fun things.

BUT . . . there is a problem with traveling to the FUTURE.

The Past is (mostly) a known quantity. It would be exciting to be a fly on the wall as Julius Caesar is brutally knifed to death in the Roman Senate. It would be great to watch Thomas Edison create the light bulb. But there are all things that are not mysteries. I would just get to see them with my own eyes.

The FUTURE is unknown. And perhaps by traveling into the FUTURE, I would find that it is one of those Blade Runner-esque dystopic futures that are nothing but a big fat bummer. I would want to FUTURE to be something sleek and cool, kind of like the GM World of Tomorrow at the World's Fair or Disney World's TomorrowLand, full of monorails, chicks in unitards, food pills. You know, a really far out gas.

But if the FUTURE turned out to be something like "12 Monkeys" where everyone lives underground because evil David Morse destroyed the world with the Ebola virus . . . well, that would not be much fun at all.

So, the Past is the safer bet.

But I'm gonna roll the dice and hold out for a better FUTURE.

Anyway, that's my answer.

Thanks for asking.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Visual Inspiration

By now you know that we didn't have a new episode of LOST this evening--either because you tuned in and saw that there wasn't a new episode airing at the expected time or because you were logged in to Twitter or Facebook and weren't bombarded with random comments from me with the hashtag #4815162342.

But, I have spent some time tonight flipping through the so, so fabulous LOST inspired posters of artist Gideon Slife. He set about to make a poster for each and every LOST episode. So far he has completed 78.

To say that I would like to purchase each and every one of these is an understatement.

To say that I hope he convinces a publisher to produce a coffee table book of them misses the fact that I want them all now, hanging on my wall in individual frames.

To say that the very fact of the images has inspired me to rewatch each and every LOST episode from the very beginning and write individual reactions to them all over again . . . simply so each post on my blog can be tied to these images . . . well, let's just say that the posters have got me thinking about all the things I could do to celebrate LOST and celebrate this art.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Random Stories

You can be forgiven if you think this post title is a reference to WWYG?! generally, but that is not the case.

In fact, random stories is what Sarah and Grace request of me while we drive here and there during errands to pass the time. In form, these are impromptu tales (often--by specific request--with no teaching moral) that I am expected to construct on the fly with no preparation.

In recent weeks I have told short stories about:

1.) a brick that once lived in a wall, was knocked out of said wall, carried across town in a dog's mouth, then eventually ended up in a decorative path in front of a house.

2.) a dog named Woofy who was descended from Blackbeard's Pirate Dog, tasked with guarding the treasure chest in a Florida cave.

3.) Joe the college student who spiced up his humdrum job of advertising a barber shop with a roadside sign by dressing up in a different costume every day. He got catcalls and car honks, but his growing notariety led to a local news story and a college scholarship in the theatre department.

4.) the strange tale of a sentient bologna sandwich that led a revolt of foods against their human oppressors.

Ultimately, you had to be there, I'm sure. But I like the challenge.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


She's very "demanding" these days. When she isn't happy with what you have decided to do (a not infrequent occurrance, let me assure you), she immediately responds with a boisterous NO! and a quick whine.

Some days it seems that I get 7 or 8 of those reactions each morning.

But, she loves to go on walks--more than I can say for the older two. Sure, they may be meandering walks that don't get you very far. But you'll learn the location of every barking dog and are guaranteed to stop to get a better look at any ant that crosses the sidewalk. (And she'll even step on them. Where does that dominance over ants thing cms from?) But she also tries to converse with the ants. Usually by saying HEY ANT!

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Vertigo . . .or whatever it is

Lately I've been struggling with an unexpected new source of physical problem.

Longtime readers of Why Won't You Grow?! are familiar with my pre-existing leg issues, childhood surgeries, and premature birth problems. And on a daily basis, these physical challenges are extremely minor and nothing to be concerned with at all.

But I have experienced some weird leg problems at church in recent months . . . problems that came to a surprising new height on Easter Sunday.

Here is what has been happening.

At church, I occasionally get to read the scripture as one of lay readers at the beginning of the service. And, as our volunteer organization is set up, the people that do the readings also help serve the communion wine during the Eucharist. When I am a reader, I have to get up and walk to the lectern to read the passage. Not really a problem, though I am a bit self-conscious about possibly tripping and falling in front of everyone. But it has never happened and really, its just walking. If I can't walk in front of people, I'm in pretty serious trouble.

The issue has developed when I am service as a chalice bearer during the communion at the end of the service. In this capacity, I have to stand near the altar and offer the chalice of wine to people as they pass. They take the chalice from me, take a sip, and give it back to me. Nothing too difficult, except that I am standing in front of everyone, managing to hand off & receive a ceramic cup full of wine again and again. I have always been a bit worried about mishandling the wine and dropping it. But this concern has begun to manifest itself into a weird leg spasm.

While I am worried in my head about mishandling the chalice handoff, my legs tense up. This leg tension results in my (always percarious) balance being thrown out of whack, causing me to get kind of dizzy and momentarily vertiginous. Naturally, this makes the smooth handoff of the wine chalice more and more difficult.

So, my psychological fear of dropping the chalice is now physically manifesting itself into something that can actually cause me to drop the chalice. sigh

And on Easter Sunday it got really bad. At the beginning of the communion service, I was handed the chalice by the deacon. I was then required to turn and walk to my position near the altar. But the fear from the inital handoff caused me to seize up and get a bit dizzy. Then while trying to calm down and turn my body to walk into position, I nearly lost my balance and fell . . . but didn't. I got into position, but was a bit rattled. (And perhaps it didn't help that I was wearing a suit--not normal attire, but it was Easter Sunday--and was a bit hot?)

ANYWAY. . . I managed to keep it together until halfway through the Eucharist. But randomly, I got psyched out again and seized up for a moment again. I literally had to reach out and grab hold of the unlucky parishoner who I was serving at the time. (Sorry Al!) He probably thought I was passing out because of locked knees or overheating or something. And I didn't want to get into a discussion of the problem in the middle of the service. But I assured him I was okay and everyone moved on. (I'm not even sure people noticed.) But then, it happened again a few more people down the line and someone did notice. She helpfully stepped up and asked if I wanted to let her finish . . . which I did. I quietly walked out into the hallway to cool off and drink some water. When I felt better the service was concluding and everything went along as normal.

Lynda hadn't even noticed that I had left, so I was reassured that I hadn't made a spectacle of myself. (But, it could have been worse, to be sure.)

And I thought . . . well, that was unfortunate. But I thought it was a mental thing that I could overcome. I was now nervous about it and preparing myself to do this thing. It was a predetermined result of my brain thinking about it before it happened. Maybe I could find a way to calm down, trust myself, and do my job.

Then . . . this past Sunday, I was going to receive the chalice from another person and my legs seized up on me as I took the cup to sip.

This time it was happening to me on the other side of the handoff. Even as a regular taker of the Eucharist, not as the provider, I was having the same psychological/physical freak out.

So, now . . . what do I do? How can I overcome this problem? I have long ago accepted the physical limitations that my condition set in me as a young kid. But it has never bothered me mentally until now. And I have never let my physical limitations prevent me from doing things in the past. I don't want to let this hold me back . . . but I'm not going to lie . . . I'm kind of concerned.

I don't expect an answer from you, Reader. I just wanted to take this chance to write something about it and hopefully take a step or two towards facing this (admittedly minor) problem. Maybe I can start to overcome it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Italy or Denmark? Be honest.

The first thing that I'll be honest about when answering this question is that I'm not sure why I wouldn't be honest in the first place. Is there some sort of burning rivalry between Italy and Denmark that I don't want to get mixed up in?


Well, I suspect that the answer to this question will reveal some important facet of my inner personality--some part of me that I desperately want to keep hidden from public view, but will be inexorably revealed by my choice. If I choose Italy, am I a seeker of power? Or does Italy reflect a deep-seated conservatism that simply won't be denied? On the other hand . . . if I choose Denmark, am I revealing to the world that I just want to have fun and damn all the cares of responsibility? Is it a northern climate versus a southern climate thing? Northern Europe versus Southern Europe? Staid versus hip? Ancient versus modern? Earth versus water? Swarthy and stolid versus nubile and fair?

I'm sure you won't be stunned that I pick Italy.


Italy carries with it the promise of stellar food, fantastic ruins, history at every turn, museums and art. And while I know that Denmark can offer all of that . . . in addition to what I am sure is some particularly awesome post-modern architecture . . . I still would not miss the chance to go to Italy. Because if I had the opportunity to actually go, I'd want to go there MORE than I'd want to go to Denmark . . . because I might never get another chance. And if a chance to go to Italy was missed, I'd be more sad to miss it than I would be sad to miss Denmark.

Anyway, that's my answer.

Thanks for asking.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is it worth the effort and time to read Infinite Jest?

Yes, I think it is. But you must be prepared to read it one of two ways:

a.) embrace the entire monstrosity of the 1,100+ pages and struggle your way through non-linearity, footnotes that wander off into unknowns of optics and pharmaceuticals.

Or . . .

2.) choose a particular story--i.) the drug rehab story, ii.) the tennis academy story, iii.) the mystery of the Entertainment and focus on that.

The first time I read the book, I threw myself in whole hog, was awash in confusion, and tried to hold it all together.

The second time I read it, I cut out the drug rehab story and simply tried to focus on the other two threads.

IJ is a book that must be read more than once, no matter what you do, so just take a chance and try to find things to enjoy. While this wasn't my first exposure the David Foster Wallace, it will be the work that he is going to always be remembered for. So if you are interested in DFW at all, you should give Infinite Jest a try.

(But if you simply give up, I will recommend "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" until my dying day. Make SURE you sit down to read that one.)

(And if you can't take IJ, please, please, please give "House of Leaves" a chance instead.)

And but so, that's my answer.

Thanks for asking.

Snap out of it

I've been feeling disconnected lately--and I need to snap out of it. I can't let work freak me out and I just have to take every day as it comes.

Things seem odd as the seasons transition and as work shifts from one phase to another. But I am the master of myself.

(Sorry for the public pep talk, but I wanted to remind myself that my blog was still out there.)

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Friday, April 09, 2010

Grace's Invention Convention

I mentioned that one of the cool things to happen to us in the last few weeks since I posted was Grace's experience with the elementary school's Invention Convention competition.

Think of the Invention Convention as a junior Science Fair. The rules were to state a problem and devise a solution to fix that problem. In the end you have to come up with a model prototype of your solution. It is a method of getting kids to think about how to go through some of the steps of the Scientific Method. Along with the model, each participating student has to keep a log of their thought process and invention steps.

Grace decided that her problem was how to fix yourself some food if both of your parents were sick. To that end she considered describing a food-making robot to fix her some food . . . but soon realized that a robot was too complicated and mostly unnecessary. Eventually she decided that devising a simpler machine that could automatically make macaroni and cheese was more possible and easier to model.

She called it The Mac. I help prod her with though-provoking questions and guided her in realizing when she was going down a difficult path. I did NOT do her work for her, but helped out when she asked and gave her advice on some model-building questions. (I also used the hot glue gun when making the model so she wouldn't burn herself.

Here she is on the day of the presentation dinner. We had built the model for The Mac over the previous weekend, taking a shoe box that was spray-painted gold. We glued a plastic spoon on the ride to act as the lever that would open the back access panel of the model to push out the completed bowl of macaroni and cheese. (Remember that this was non-functional and only representing what could happen.)

Here is a look down into the insides of the model. The plastic bowl at the bottom is filled with blue tissue paper which represents the water the macaroni would boil in. Once cooked, the plastic swirly spoons on the sides of the bowl (mechanical levers) would lilt the cooking water & noodles into the device on top of the photo. This mesh netting would catch the completed noodles while another straw underneath siphons away the cooking liquid.

The the noodles would be tilted back into the first bowl to be combined with the melted cheese and mixed. (We couldn't get into a lot of these mechanical details on the model, but there were described in a step-by-step sequence by Grace in her Invention Log.)

She had to describe all of this to the judges and answer questions about her model and her process during the school day. That night there was a catered dinner for all of the participants' families. The school principal announced the winners in each grade level (K-2, 3-4, 5) as well as the overall winner that would continue on with their invention to the district competition.

Grace won for her age group and we were very, very proud of her. I really like how she took on this challenge and did so much of the work and thoughts on her own. 

What's the absolute youngest age at which donning a moustache is acceptable? Or, are moustaches acceptable at any age?

Well, first of all, (in order to rile you up) I'm going to question the use of the word "don" as a description for growing a mustache. Is that some sort of unconscious slap against Italian mafiosos? Or something else?

Now . . .

are mustaches acceptable at any age? I'm inclined to say NO, because I look craptastic with only a mustache. I certainly could never pull off the majesty of the most glorious mustache of the last few decades (

But there are people ( who are always ready to grow a mustache . . . and judging by the intricacy of some of them, they must have started at a very young age.

But they are biased. And I am not.

Mustaches in the extremely young is disturbing ( and unsettling. But even mustaches in the appropriately aged can be poor choices as well (

I guess in the end, you have to give something a try and see if it works for you. And, just as importantly, see if it works for others. If they say "No way, dude!" then maybe you need to rethink your facial hair choice.

Because while I don't normally advocate marching exclusively to the drum of people other than yourself . . . a seedy mustache is a danger to everyone. And it is everyone's responsibility to maintain beauty in the world.

Anyway, that's my answer.

Thanks for asking.

The last few weeks

I know that I have a few FAQ questions that are waiting to be answered, and I will do so (thanks for the submissions!), but the last few weeks have been unusually "interesting," so I thought I would actually generate some content of my own by describing what I've been up to.

First, Grace and I were in a car accident two weeks ago. It was on a Monday night and I was taking her to her Daisy Scouts meeting a few blocks down from our house at the local elementary school. Lynda, Sarah, and Hannah were already on their way to church for one of the weekly Lenten book discussion meetings. As Grace and I were leaving our neighborhood and turning left at the four-way stop onto Spring Road, the offending driver came barrelling right at me. I saw her coming right at me in the corner of my left eye and had just enough to to think that she wasn't even attempting to slow down for the stop sign facing her. I stomped on the gas and attempted to avoid her, but it was too late. She came straight through the sign and hit straight into the driver's side passenger door--right where Grace was sitting behind me. The station wagon spun about 180 degrees and we ended up in the middle of the intersection facing diagonally into the lane that she had just driven through.

In those brief few seconds, I heard Grace scream and then it was over. Once the car stopped, I turned around to see how Grace was doing. She was shouting something like "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!" but then she stopped and heard me as I asked if she was okay. She was.

I tried to get out of the car, but I couldn't open my door. I crawled out of the passenger's side front door and tried to open Grace's door. But it was already crushed and the top of the door was sticking out of its frame. I went back around to the other side of the car, opened the door, and crawled inside to get a good look at Grace. I immediately saw that she had a small bump in the corner of her left eye and the beginnings of a bruise that was running down a streak on the side of her face. But she wasnt bleeding and it seemed that she was mostly okay.

I got out to survey the damage and try to figure what to do. And there was another bystander who stepped up and helped me keep calm and make sure that things were stable. It was really nice to have complete strangers take time out to help. We waited for the police to come and I finally located the offending driver's car off to the side, parked on the side of the road past where the accident originally occurred. The driver was staying in her car--either because she was simply waiting, or because she was worried about whether Grace had been injured, or I don't know what. But throughout the entire process of turning in information and talking to the police she stayed away. (It was probably precautionary, but I didn't blame her for staying away. It wasn't because I was mad. I just didn't know what to say to her and I was more worried about Grace. She remained lucid and calm throughout and I stopped thinking that she was injured. But I made sure that the arriving EMTs took some time to ask her questions and make sure there weren't any concussion problems.

Once all the paperwork was done, the tow truck was there to take the car away for evaluation and the policeman drove Grace and I back down the block to the house. I kept an eye on her for the rest of the night to make sure that she didn't pass out or anything that might indicate some concussion symptoms.

And after that it was the ordinary bureaucracy of determining what to do with the damaged wagon (it was determined to be totaled by the other insurance agency), finding a replacement vehicle, and figuring out how to pay for it. Most of this was done during Holy (Easter) Week, helped mightily by Lynda's dad. (Her parents were visiting during that time.) By the start of this past week, we had settled on replacing the station wagon with another (newer) minivan, figuring that our current minivan (main car) will probably also need replacing in the next few years so we'd have another one ready to roll by then. It is a Chrysler Town & Country and has a few nice features that wasn't featured in the Dodge Grand Caravan that we bought from the Thompsons a few years back . . . but still retains all the features we liked about that van.

I enjoy the time spent getting used to a new car, the new buttons, features, radio presets, and such. It is a prototypical "male" time for me and I do my best to live up to the expectation. The only problem is that all cars today--especially the more complicated ones--have HUGE key fobs that instantly make your keys into a snarled mess that reminds me of how girls use to gussy up their keys back when they were in 6th grade. (Something I never did as a 6th grade girl.) But, such is the technological life.


For the past two-and-a-half days, I 've been traveling (as you might have surmised from my Twitter and Facebook posts). It's unusual for me to do that, so I enjoyed the difference. But I am glad to be home and even more glad to have a day off at the end of the week to close our my kids Spring Break. Next Monday everything resets back to normal and I dive headlong in my new work project.

I hope I am able to resurface sometime before Christmas.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

There's Finally a Dock to Turn iPhones Into Corded Desk Phones [Retromodo]

Click here to read There's Finally a Dock to Turn iPhones Into Corded Desk Phones

At lunch a few months ago, my work colleagues and I were talking about how cell phones provide one distinct disadvantage with regards to old, corded phones. When you were angry at someone during a phone call, you could slam a corded phone back into the cradle and get two bits of satisfaction: 1. the person on the other end got an ear-full of "SLAM" and 2.) you got the tactile feeling of dissipating your anger.

With a clamshell cell phone you can only close the phone like a locket, missing the essential force and sound of an angry hang up. And with a fancy smart phone like the iPhone? Well . . . you'll just shatter the face and you'll have to face the reality of $$$ wasted and anger management classes needed.

Well, my friends and I decided to fix that. We were going to develop an iPhone app that allowed you to push a button that sent a loud noise to the person on the other end, giving them that SLAM they so richly deserve and it would also use the vibration feature of the cell phone to give you the satisfactory tactile feedback that you want on your end.

Great idea, right?

Well, it looks like we waited too long and someone beat us to a similar idea.

(Click on the post title to be take to a linked story describing the Desk Phone iPhone dock.)

[h/t to]