Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What advice would you give to bloggers who are inclined to return to their published blogs to edit them for grammatical errors or remove embarrassing info?

I would council against both impulses.

Regarding the most important part of the question--the second part--you initially wrote that "embarrassing" info for a reason. And even though the Internet is not permanent in any sense, you should honor the original impulse behind why the statement in question was created. To go back and edit yourself later calls into question the reason for the writing in the first place.

(I also don't think you should go back and rip pages out of diaries or journals or notebooks. I have written embarrassing things in the past and they are still in existence in pages. I just do my best to keep them out of the reach of my children, who aren't at an age to understand it--or even need to understand it. And it is instructive to me to go back now and then and say hello to that former self, to read what he was thinking and gain some perspective on what has been going on in my life since then.)

Now, as to the question of correcting grammatical errors . . . that's probably not a big deal. Certainly, I am guilty of many, many such mistakes. And in my daily work, it is something of my job to avoid letting such things become part of the final product. But that is in a final product that is being sold for profit and (therefore) demands a higher standard of quality than a personal blog that I write, that no one has to read, and is being thrown out there for free.

Of course, when I describe my electronic writings in such a way, it's no wonder I've been writing for over five years with no noticeable increase in viewership. But I guess I'm a bit too honest about the quality of what I'm doing. I'm NOT producing something for sale or for any REAL permanence. It is a collection of momentary thoughts that are thrown together in between kids baths, meals, TV shows, and any other time that I have fifteen minutes to spare and feel an urge to be creative.

Such are the quotidian impulses of my blogging lifestyle. But it IS the honest truth.

If you aspire to make something out of your blog; to make it something that has lasting, permanent value. If you want it to be useful, then maybe you can go back and edit your past.

But, if you do that . . . then you're no better than George Lucas.

Anyway, there is my answer.

Thanks for asking.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is it better to love and lost, than to never have loved at all?

I say yes.

Experiencing love is a difficult thing. It opens us up to enormous vulnerabilities. But at the same time, it opens us up to new sides of themselves that might never be realized without the challenge of love to push us in new directions and new perspectives.

If we never have the chance to love, we live in a world that is more selfish and more limited. While it is potentially hurtful and heartbreaking to experience love and either have it unreturned or to have it fade away, a person who has loved is no longer the same as they were before.

So, I say, push yourself. Acknowledge the possibility of more for yourself and the one you love. And don't be let fear of what might happen become so overwhelming that it precludes the chance to risk.

(Admittedly, this sounds super-great coming from secure, mature, 38-year-old me. Teenage me, college me would never, never, NEVER be so confident as to throw this down.)

But, really, that is part of what I'm talking about here. Those earlier, more scared, less mature, less loved versions of me are NOT who I am today. And it is age and love and relationship that have put me here.

I also realize that I am extremely lucky to have found someone to love that loves me back and that we don't disagree on important things--or at least when we disagree, we adjust what we think is important in service of that love. I haven't had my love go wrong. So, I guess I don't truly know what it means to have loved and lost.

But I do know that having loved successfully and seeing how it has changed me, I don't think I would want to miss out on that experience.

Anyway, that's my answer.

Thanks for asking.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Has there ever been a technological wonder that you thought would just be a passing craze and then it ended up being something big?

I have been struggling to answer this question for a good while. And I guess the best answer that I can come up with is the Nintendo game system.

I grew up when Atari was brand new. We even had the first model and I promptly played Space Invaders and Breakout and Combat so much that I broke the first set of joysticks. And then, when Pitfall came around, I played that a lot as well. So, I was around when video games in the home became a "thing."

I tell you this to help establish my credentials. And perhaps that helps further establish the fact that when I didn't later embrace the Nintendo system it helps answer the question that this was a technological wonder that I didn't jump on quickly. You see?

But the truth is that we didn't (nor have I a history of) have tons of video games when I was a kid. My family didn't upgrade and/or replace the Atari over time. Other friends has the Intellivision and any of the other systems to come after, including the original Nintendo, PlayStation, Sega, and whatever else. When Ninetendo and the original Mario Brothers game came out, I was alrady out of the gaming scene. And when I did try to play, I was easily frustrated and definitely beaten by young punks half my (then) age of 14 or so. And it was this missed connection with the Nintendo (and a sort of frugalness that comes with being a high schooler/college student with little money) that kept me out of the burgeoning video game system phenomenon in the late 1980s and 1990s that stil continues today.

Now, we do have a Wii and I and the kids play it. But it is a different thing now. I'll always feel that the most important period of videogaming history--other than the orignal period--passed me by.

So, there is my answer.

Thanks for asking.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Goodbye Party Month 2010

This year's version of Party Month seemed stretched out and at the same time, it felt less substantial than in year's past. All of the party's went well, though one still remains to be pulled off next weekend. Grace's birthday party seems like such a distant memory . . . the buildup to The Last Airbender that was such a disappointment to Lynda and I. But luckily, Grace didn't seem to mind that much. She got to have good fun with some of her friends and there was indoor and outdoor activity and food and drink and cake and presents and . . . well, what more can you ask for when you turn seven?

Lynda's birthday went by anticlimactically. I got her useful gifts (a quality citrus reamer and a good zester) that she wanted and that are functional and practical and  . . . well, what more do you want when you are an adult and have three kids, a mortgage, car repairs, and whatever else life decided to throw at you? I think she appreciated the things I got and we will continue to use them in our food cooking for a long while.

Our anniversary (15th!) was a bit more special. We managed to secure a baby sitter and splurged on a very nice dinner at the Ocean Club. And then we say Toy Story 3. Though we didn't plan it as such, the first Toy Story came out in theaters the same year that we got married back in 1995. So, it was sort of full circle, I guess.

Sarah's actual tenth birthday came and went without tons of specific fanfare. (Her party is the one that is still lagging . . . to be completed this upcoming weekend.) We partied a lot this past week in our church's Vacation Bible School and didn't miss the opportunity to present Sarah with a cake and a room full of people to sing Happy Birthday to her. I think she liked that.

And she bought herself the present she wanted, her very own iPod Nano. She has saved money for months to get it and has done extra chores to earn more money. She even bought some songs this afternoon to start filling it up with stuff she likes. (I'd list the relevant songs, but I think she is writing a blog post about it now. So, instead, I'll just leave the descriptions to her, in her own words.)

So, I'm in a more peaceful place than the last time I blogged.

I've still got LOTS of work to do and didn't force myself to spend time working on it. I'm quite sure that tomorrow will result in some pulled hair as a result of that decision. But life is for the living, so I'm not going to regret spending time relaxing and enjoying pool parties with friends of our kids. (Which is what we did last night . . . and that was lots of fun.)

So, good bye Party Month. You were fun, you were frustrating, you made me anxious, you made me hectic. You remind me of all the good things and good decisions in my life and you remind me why I bother to go to work in the first place.

You've done your duty for another year.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In space, no one can hear you complain

. . . and that's probably a good thing, since no one likes to hear other people complain about their problems. But I'm going to spend some time looking back over the very difficult, turbulent week and I might slip into some complaints before it is all over.

The week has mostly been dominated by three very different, yet interconnected things.

First, Sarah has been sick all week. Yes, ALL week. She has been running a fever every day since Tuesday. And yes, we did call the pediatrician. And, yes, as always, they said that they wouldn't do anything until she had maintained the fever for a week. Which we finally got close to this weekend, when we finally gave up and took her to the urgent care and they told us that they suspect she's got an ear infection and might be developing a slight infection in her lungs. (I think I got that right, as Lynda was the one that took her to the U.C. and when she told me this, the blood was pounding in my ears and I might have missed some of the details.)

So, not only was Sarah at home all week, completely missing each and every day of Girl Scout Camp, but she was probably feeling worse and worse. But not that we'd know it because our doctor wouldn't bother to see her until she was . . . oh, I don't even know.

Now, because Sarah was home all week, missing Girls Scout Camp, that meant Lynda and I were scrambling every day to figure out who was going to stay home with her and manage to try and do our 9 to 5 job that simply won't make the courtesy of going away and making our lives easier. Nope, instead, our jobs have decided to get progressively harder each and every week, dumping more and more work on us while we juggle sick kids and all of the other responsibilities that we are foolish to take on.

Which leads me to item 3--Vacation Bible School. It starts tomorrow night and I am (foolish enough to say I'd be) the organizer this year. I might have done a better job at it if I hadn't been faced with items 1 and 2 this past week and if I'd been smart enough and organized enough to start thinking of all of the details and problems sooner. But I hope in the end that the kids find enjoyment and learning in it and that is more important in the end than the decorations or the food or whatever else. (Though I would be entirely sunk if I had not had the help of several people in our very nice church that were willing to take on leadership roles early on and have been working on their own to handle their part of the event.)

In combination, these things have really screwed me up this week. And while I could have handled my VBS duties more effectively and probably I could work EVEN harder to attempt to catch up at work, I don't know that I could have done much about Sarah's predicament.

It's just be so confusing and trying and frustrating all week long.

(And I didn't even tell you what a disaster occurred yesterday thanks to the worst FedEx driver this side of Memphis.)

I have been very down on myself and certainly I haven't been any fun to be around or to live with, either at home or at work--the few days I managed to get into the office. I hope that as VBS kicks off each night this week, I can see that things will go fine and that the kids will find the importance behind the decorations and food and whatever else is there. And I hope that accomplishing that task, I can try to focus a bit more on work and try to make some sense out of the mountain of a project that looms over me every day. And I hope that Sarah gets better and can get her summer back. It's her 10th birthday coming up this Thursday, after all. She certainly deserves better than she's gotten this week, either from a health perspective or from the companionship she's gotten out of me.

So, I hope to put some of this worry and frustration down into this post and walk away from it after I hit PUBLISH. I need to move on mentally and emotionally.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Read me first, then check out my friend

Last week you may have seen my video post in which I nearly disrobed in an attempt to get you to vote for my good friend Greg's organization CASA. And you may have noticed that I did a pretty lame job of explaining exactly what CASA does or why you should have spend the time voting for them so that Chase bank can give them money . . . so that they can continue doing the good work that they do.

Well, regardless of how unprepared I was in my video script, the Internet must have loved looking at me in a wife-beater because Coastal Plains CASA got enough votes to win $20,000 from Chase Community Giving and now 41 more foster kids in my home region of Georgia are going to be better served.

And that is great. I always knew that my biceps could be used for the forces of good.

Wait . . . you think international country star Tricia Yearwood's Facebook support had much more to do with it than my home-grown manliness?

Well, you can think whatever you want.

I choose to think that Greg's clever pledge to eat as many green salads as he got votes from his Facebook friends was a crucial element in the charity drive's success. (As you may remember--if you are a recurring Why Won't You Grow?! reader--I am a fan of food-based stunts as well. I just hope Greg's stamina & resolve turns out to be more impressive than my earlier attempt.)

So, please follow along as CASA Greg Goes Green. Read about his foray into healthier eating. And get to know a guy that I'm happy to say I've been friends with for many, many years. We're all rooting for you Greg. I'll send along my own salad recipes soon.

I'm adding his blog to my list of sidebar items. Or you can sign up to follow him. The more people that put eyes on him, the less likely he'll be to backslide.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spoiler alert! The Ferris Bueller Fight Club Theory

You might not have ever watched David Fincher's Fight Club movie or read the book by Chuck Paulhinuk. But I bet you've seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off, perhaps Matthew Broderick's best movie ever and certainly in the top three best John Hughes movie lists.

But are you aware of the Ferris Bueller Fight Club Theory?

(Aww, who am I kidding? Most anyone who answers that question is probably going to say yes. If I just heard about it today, then it was probably old news a year ago.)

Still . . . as a public service to you, I am offering up these nice bits of Internet-y goodness for your edification and enjoyment.

First, read the post.

Then, enjoy the video.

And if you haven't seen Fight Club, don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Boxers or briefs? Or other?

As a kid . . . briefs.

In college . . . boxers.

These days . . . boxer-briefs.

The lesson?

Never forget who you were, but always be ready to embrace the new.

That's my answer.

Thanks for asking.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What is the most delicious thing you've ever eaten?

I once said during lunch at the office cafeteria that I didn't care that much about how food tasted. What I meant was that I didn't find myself able to distinguish the finer naunces about whether something had paprika in it or cardomom or too much cayenne and not enough all spice. In short, I'm not a "foodie." I can and do care if food is palatable or disgusting and I can tell if something has too much salt for my liking. Well . . . I think you get the idea.

But, how then do I answer this question?

I guess I go back to food that have been memorable to me, for whatever reason. And the first one that comes to mind in that regard is a random series of memories I have from childhood about a restaurant that we sometimes went to in Albany, Georgia.

Albany is about 45 minutes west of Tifton, where I grew up. Mostly I visited Albany to a.) experience a real Mall with lots of stores and restaurants inside the Mall (something Tifton never could provide, even in the best of years) b.) visit my orthopedic doctor/surgeon on a semi-regular basis. But I can remember a few times when we went to eat at this restaurant. I wish I could remember its name, but it registered as a fancy place. (It had white tablecloths on the tables and cushiony, leathery type chairs to sit in.) We probably only went there a few times in my childhood because my Dad had gotten a salary bonus or something kind of unexpected and he was treating us to something special . . . not that I would have known that at the time or even paid much attention to it if it was said out loud. But that was likely the circumstances for it.

ANYWAY . . . what made this restaurant special to me was the salads they served before the meal. It was something about the dishes the salads came on, or the way that the different dressings came not in bottles but in smal individual bowls all carried in a metal caddy. (I distinctly reember the caddy.) But above all of that was . . . bacon. I remember crumbled up bacon on the salads. Honest-to-goodness bacon that had just recently been cooked crumbled and put on my salad just before it came out to my seat. It was still warm and slightly chewy. It wasn't Bac'n Bits from a bottle. It was warm, REAL bacon.

I still carry a faint trace of that culinary surprise, even if I can't piece together much more than that.


What since childhood? Well, there were many good restaurant experiences during our honeymoon in Charleston, South Carolina. I remember the red beans and rice that I ate our first night after driving into town from Savannah. I remember the she crab soup I ate during a lunch stop one day at a small restaruant tucked away in a neighborhood of Charlestonian row houses. I remember the fancy pasta that we at at the only restaurant I remember by name (The Library at Vendue) and especially the salads we ate that night . . . because it consisted mostly of greens--funkily shaped leaves the likes of which I wasn't used to in my salads from childhood or salad bars or college. But mostly I remember that we consciously spent more on food during our honeymoon than most anything else. We ate well (for recently being in college) and we really liked it.


When I was in Hawaii many years ago, I remember eating a piece of pork tenderloin that had been marinated in soy sauce for a long time and it was tender and flavorful and really, really good.


I remember the first dinner entree I made for Lynda in our first aparatment, when she came home from her first day of professional work. (Skillet fried chicken fingers I cut myself from chicken breasts, accompanied by a homemade honey mustard dip)


Come to that, I remember one of the first meals we ever ate at a couple after the honeymoon, lving in the Town Terrace in Tifton, eating early morning cereal and drinking coffee from our newly washed wedding china.


There are lots of random food memories over the years. But what is the most delicious thing out of these memories and many, many more?

I guess I don't have a very good (or completely satisfactory) answer to that question. Because I remember more about the people and some of the circumstances of the eating than I do the food itself. Maybe that means I just haven't eaten anything truly exceptional. Maybe that will come later in life. Or maybe I'm back to where I started this post. Maybe I just don't care enough to come up with the correct answer.

But anyway, that IS my answer.

Thanks for asking.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Go vote for Coastal Plains CASA

Learn more about CASA via:

Go vote for Coastal Plain CASA in the Chase Community Giving competition via this link.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Movie review: The Last Airbender

Let's start with Sarah's opinions on the movie.

So, let's break it down, shall we?

1. Upsetting: The cartoon was bright, vibrant, joyous--even though it was also about a group of kids setting out to save the world from tyranny. But along the way, there was always time for penguin-sledding, koi fish surfing, and many, many soothing cups of tea.

2. Out-of-character: Their names might have been the same (but see point #3 before you make a final judgement on that), but otherwise . . . hard to identify in some cases. Especially Uncle Ihro's portrayal in the film, who only barely got to do anything that resembled the character that was a steady, moral presence in a world spinning out of balance. Shyamalan's "Ihro" was mostly a cypher. You occasionally got the feeling that he had principles but he wasn't funny, wasn't relaxed, wasn't helpful.

Also . . . Sokka was pretty well wasted in this film. The cartoon allowed him to be comic relief, interjecting much needed humor and levity at every turn. But he never had anything witty to say in this film. (Let's let Jackson Rathbone go back to whatever he was trying to do in the Twilight movies. If The Last Airbender Book 2 ever gets greenlighted--a pretty large if, despite how the movie tried to set things up in the final moments, Sokka needs to be recast . . . immediately.)

3. Not funny: There were no opportunities for childishness in this film. Despite his age and his responsibilities as The Avatar, Aang is a ten-year-old kid who grew up in the happy-go-lucky confines of the Air Nomads temples. Aang LOVES a good joke and always wants to have fun. Noah Ringer's Aang is conflicted and mostly silent, except for when he's discussing how conflicted he is. I completely blame the script writers for this problem. And I suppose I should blame  the casting directors. And sure, I'll throw blame on M. Night as well. And . . . sadly, I thing I'll also place some blame on Executive Producers Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Koneitzko.

DiMartino and Koneitzko created the original Nickelodeon cartoon that began running in 2005 and has become a beloved property. Without the popularity and goodwill generated by their creation, this movie would never have been made. They should have done more than take a paycheck and put their names in the credits. (And if they did work mightily to improve earlier versions to get to this version of the movie, then Hollywood movie-making is irreparably broken.)

This movie was dark and muddy--and that was not just a result of the inadequate 3D effects that were mistakenly placed on a 2D movie. (NOTE: I wisely didn't pay extra for the 3D version.) It lacked charm and life. Sad.

4. Mispronunciations: On top of all of those problems, every time a character spoke another character's name . . . they pronounced it wrong. This is mysterious and inexcusable.

In the cartoon, which is the source materials and acts as the Canon, Aang's name rhymes with "bang," not "gong."
You pronounce Sokka similarly to "sock-a," NOT "soak-a!"
Uncle Ihro should sound like "eye-ro," not "ear-ro."

Honestly . . . step up DiMartino and Koneitzko. You KNOW how these characters talk! Fix it.

So . . . given all of that . . . what grade can I give this?

I'm going to agree with Sarah and say C-. And I think that is being generous.

I give them credit for getting a lot of the actual canon into the movie, but they did it in a ham-fisted and inelegant way. I recognize that they had to condense 22 30-minute episodes (10+ hours of story and character development) into a 100 minute movie . . . but the journey simply felt terribly rushed. We never had any time to learn anything about the characters and the actors weren't skilled enough to make us really want to. The situations were forced and rapid. The editing was choppy.

It reminded me of

a.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in which the movie was so slavish to the content of the book that there was a forced quality to it--a sense of joyless obligation to the dialogue and the situation . . .  a distinct lack of imagination; and

b.) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which the movie so heavily edited the content to fit it into the time slot that it felt horribly uneven and rushed.

The only thing that came as a surprise to me was the presence of The Daily Show's Asif Mandvi. I had no idea that he was in the movie and he played a prominent part to boot. (Oddly, I felt he also gave one of the better acting performances . . . though if I had to hear him mention "his important discovery in The Great Library" one more time, I was going to walk out. (Again, bad editing . . . )

M. Night Shymalan's The Last Airbender was distinctly disappointing. Any potential sequel needs to learn MANY things from the failure of this movie. And because of that, the likelihood that such a sequel will ever be made it highly dubious.