Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year's End

With so much happening over the holidays and with my taking some vacation time, it's hard to find time to sit back, check email, skim the RSS feeds, and post something here.

So, I thought I'd share some quick thoughts on memorable moments that have happened over the past week or two.

Elizabeth stopped me one day while I was sharpening the kitchen knives on one of those wheely-sharpener-thingies and asked how it worked. So I showed how you sharpened the knives, then explained how it was like the emory board you use on her fingernails. After giving her an example with her fingernail, she said something to the effect of "Dad, you're the bestest teacher. You always take the time to explain to William and me how things work and we learn it so fast. You're a great learner."

I finished Abercrombie's final book, The Last Argument of Kings. While I can certainly see how some may take the ending as below par for his level of work, I must say I can see his subtle hand in the workings of the greater machine of a genius author. All those comparisons of him being the Tarentino of fantasy aren't true. He's better than that. Glotka is gruesome. Logen is human. And Bayaz makes the Emperor in Star Wars look like a sissy boy.

It snowed today. Briefly, but it snowed. Yvonne and I got a "grown-up day" while the in-laws babysat the kids. We did some returns, spent time together, had lunch, and painted a plate (at a pottery place - something I haven't done in several years).

There were presents galore. So many presents I know I didn't get pictures of them all. Me, I got a Les Stroud book, and a jacket, pants, and new shoes for running. Yvonne got lots of stuff she returned (so much for me thinking I know her size), books, and movies. Oh, I got movies too. We scored big on DVDs this year. Movies, TV shows, etc. And of course there were a ton of toys and clothes for the kids. A few duplicates we returned today, but overall some nice stuff. Like stuff I'm excited about playing with too.

William is getting big. And he's starting to understand more and more everyday. Lately I've noticed he's learning to shake his head "no" when he doesn't want something. You'll ask him if he wants a "milk" or a "toy" and he'll shake his head. Trust me, it's an improvement on him just shaking his head "no" when you tell him not to do something.

Oh, and if you've made it this far, I've started a new blog (this will be number four in my resume) over at Library Dad. Go there to see what it's all about. I'm hoping, really hoping, that I'll be able to spend most of my year over there instead of here. Which means fewer updates on my life and more updates on the library.

There are of course more updates of a more personal nature, but I'll just leave it at saying I love my wife and I like our (joint) New Year's resolution.

I'm over halfway through Chabon's Kavalier and Clay novel. Not quite as good as his Yiddish Policemen's Union, but still a work of art. Chabon is a master with words.

I also finished The Road Taken by Megan Hart. Simply put, it's a short, lame, romance novel with some dirty scenes in it. But it was free.

I'm still reading the Bible. I'm in 2 Samuel and it's actually (and surprisingly) getting interesting. More so than some of the other books I've read this year.

I'm looking forward to you, the reader, to tell me what to read next over at Library Dad.

And I think that's it. If you care, I don't really have a New Year's resolution for myself. I would like to run most or all of the Grand Prix events in the area (tomorrow's race isn't part of the Grand Prix, but I figured, hell, what's some frigid temperatures when it comes to starting the year off right, right? Yeah. We'll see if I freeze, run, walk, and finish.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas Everyone

Elizabeth wishes you all a Merry Christmas. She's sharing her latest photos with you here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A giant igloo

Edinboro University opens it's new dome for sports.

And the sad part is, they probably could have used snow to build it. Lord knows there's enough of it there.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Sunrise Lands

I know I've talked about this book before, in fact it was the first one on my list for this year. How fitting it's near the bottom at year end.

After re-reading what I said back then, I'm pretty much still in the same frame of mind. The end wasn't quite what I wanted, but still good enough to keep me hooked.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sekrit Projekt Trial Run

I'll be making my attempt at a trial run today for my Sekrit Projekt. Who knows how it will work, but I'll give it a shot. It's not the original idea I had a few weeks back, but I'm taking a spin on it and hopefully it'll work out better. Right now, it's kind of a lame idea, thus the "sekritive" nature of the project. Part of it is tied into a resolution I have for the new year (not the one below) and the resolution isn't so lame (in fact I've seen some more "professional" reviewers/bloggers taking it up. Oddly, it isn't due to the "economy," it's due to my OCD nature of being a completist. Anyway, we'll see.

As for my not-so-sekrit-projekt, I'm making an early resolution for the new year. Running. Yes, that self-abusing sport of running. I did pretty good with my first race (2nd place for my age group plus a trophy) and my second race was a bit of a wash (but I walked with a four year old, so it really wasn't all that bad). My personal goal is to run the race in 30 minutes or less. That's five minutes faster than my best race (of old age, not of all time - that's in the 21 minute range from high school - but let's not count that, shall we?). I have an eight-week training schedule mapped out, scheduled time off you-know-where, and hopefully enough motivation to do well. The race I'm training for is the first in a series, in fact a local "Grand Prix" sponsored by various local businesses. Maybe if I'm fast enough, I'll reward myself with some uber-cool shoes I saw this weekend.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The AFI Top 100 Movie List

I've long been a fan of movies. I grew up watching them nearly every week as a kid, so it's no surprise that there was once a time when I knew the production company associated with each logo. Flying unicorn? Tri-Star.

Anyway, AFI published this list back in the mid-1990's and I've been slowly trying to cross them off my "to watch list." Those in bold I've seen and those in italics and underline are on my DVR.

And no, this isn't a new idea. Take a look at January of this year where I stole the idea from Paulie (and you can check my progress).

1 Citizen Kane
2 Casablanca
3 The Godfather
4 Gone with the Wind
5 Lawrence of Arabia
6 The Wizard of Oz
7 The Graduate

8 On the Waterfront
9 Schindler's List
10 Singin' in the Rain
11 It's a Wonderful Life
12 Sunset Boulevard
13 The Bridge on the River Kwai
14 Some Like It Hot
15 Star Wars
16 All About Eve
17 The African Queen
18 Psycho
19 Chinatown
20 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
21 The Grapes of Wrath
22 2001: A Space Odyssey
23 The Maltese Falcon
24 Raging Bull
25 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
26 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
27 Bonnie and Clyde
28 Apocalypse Now
29 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
(on my other post, I had this as Rosemary's Baby)
30 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
31 Annie Hall
32 The Godfather Part II
33 High Noon
34 To Kill a Mockingbird

35 It Happened One Night
36 Midnight Cowboy
37 The Best Years of Our Lives
38 Double Indemnity
39 Doctor Zhivago
40 North by Northwest
41 West Side Story
42 Rear Window

43 King Kong
44 The Birth of a Nation
45 A Streetcar Named Desire (on the DVR)
46 A Clockwork Orange
47 Taxi Driver
48 Jaws
49 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
50 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
51 The Philadelphia Story
52 From Here to Eternity
53 Amadeus
54 All Quiet on the Western Front
55 The Sound of Music
56 M*A*S*H

57 The Third Man
58 Fantasia
59 Rebel Without a Cause
60 Raiders of the Lost Ark
61 Vertigo
62 Tootsie
63 Stagecoach
64 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
65 The Silence of the Lambs
66 Network
67 The Manchurian Candidate

68 An American in Paris
69 Shane
70 The French Connection
71 Forrest Gump
72 Ben-Hur
73 Wuthering Heights
74 The Gold Rush
75 Dances with Wolves
76 City Lights
77 American Graffiti
78 Rocky
79 The Deer Hunter
80 The Wild Bunch
81 Modern Times
82 Giant
83 Platoon
84 Fargo

85 Duck Soup
86 Mutiny on the Bounty
87 Frankenstein
88 Easy Rider
89 Patton
90 The Jazz Singer
91 My Fair Lady
92 A Place in the Sun
93 The Apartment
94 Goodfellas
95 Pulp Fiction

96 The Searchers
97 Bringing Up Baby
98 Unforgiven
99 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
100 Yankee Doodle Dandy

Now, on top of that, I have another five planned out for the rest of this month, but I'm not sure if it will conflict with other recordings or events. Trying to get something on the weekend is often hit or miss since we may or may not be home.

So, to steal a line form Friends, challenge extended. Where do you stand with AFI's Top 100 list (the original, don't even get me started on the 10th anniversary one)?

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Wal-Mart Bailout

This has been floating around the interwebs of late, but in case you haven't seen it, it may make you stop and think.

1. At Wal-Mart, Americans spend $36,000,000 every hour of every day.
2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.
4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target + Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.
5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people and is the largest private employer.
6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the World.
7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger & Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only 15 years.
8. During this same period, 31 Supermarket chains sought bankruptcy (including Winn-Dixie).
9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.
10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are Supercenters; this is 1,000 more than it had 5 years ago.
11. This year, 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at a Wal-Mart store. (Earth's population is approximately 6.5 billion.)
12. 90% of all Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart
13. Let Wal-Mart bail out Wall Street!

My spin on bailout

So I’ve been sitting on this idea for a few days. Part of it was spawned by my mother asking me how I would save the economy, but it was mostly due to the recent news of the big automobile bailout. That’s right, Ford, GM, and Chrysler all want money from the government to solve their problems. In return, the government takes part ownership and sets some rules. Well, here are a few rules I’d like to suggest.

Rule 1 – Fewer Models and Choices
I think the major automobile manufacturers have been systemically flawed in their business model for years. Let’s pick on Ford for the moment. They currently have seventeen models to choose from under their Ford brand alone. That’s right, take a look at the list:

  • Ford F-150
  • Ford Flex
  • Ford Focus
  • Ford Focus Coupe
  • Ford Fusion
  • Ford Mustang
  • Ford Taurus X
  • Ford Taurus
  • Ford Edge
  • Ford Escape Hybrid
  • Ford Escape
  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford Explorer Sport Trac
  • Rod Ranger
  • Ford Super Duty
  • Ford E-Series

So out of these seventeen models, there are four trucks to choose from. Four. Why? And that fundamental question is what brings me to where the auto makers are thinking poorly. There are simply too many models to choose from.

This rule would require car makers to reduce their model and feature selections in half. Ideally, they should offer a two door car, a sedan (four door), a truck, a mini-van, a sport utility vehicle (SUV), a van, and a sports car (that’s seven models, leaving them another one or two models to produce). Why should they reduce their offerings? Two reasons. First, consumer spending on automobiles is down drastically, something the manufacturers have admitted to themselves. Second, they need to spend the bailout money on mass transit (see Rule 2).

Rule 2 – More Mass Transit
This rule would require car manufacturers to produce mass transit solutions. The solutions need to be scalable for large and small communities, interchangeable with other producers of mass transit, and uniform in basic design. Let’s say Ford produces a small, medium, and large light-rail car. The mass transit car should be compatible with one produced by GM or Chrysler. There will allow for interchangeable parts, uniform design, and non-proprietary training of maintenance crews. What the car makers produce will also need to be compatible with existing modes of mass transit. The Metro in Washington D. C. and Metra in Chicago may not travel the same rails, but the car makers can produce cars for each as well as modes of mass transit in between (buses, rail cars, street cars, etc.).

These rail cars, trolleys, and buses would not only support our infrastructure, but help drive sales for the car makers in a new market. Some may say they would be drastically reducing the need for individual cars themselves and that may be true in the short term. However, the United States has long been a culture focused on cars. They have allowed us to travel, stay mobile, and commute as we desire.

Rule 3 – More Alternate Fuel Options
The big three automakers are touting their plans for more flex fuel and hybrid cars. But their production rates and prices are often too low and too high respectively to help the average citizen. Tax incentives are helpful, but again they tend to benefit those with the money to buy a new car to begin with. Until most or all of the cars available operate on some sort of alternative energy source, the general public won’t benefit. Perhaps for every five alternative fuel models produced an automaker can get a waiver to go above their allotted model limitations.

Rule 4 – Lower Executive Salaries
Plain and simple, executives make too much money and get too many benefits. While this is not limited to automakers, it’s a good place to start. If an executive can afford to fly a private jet to attend a meeting, maybe he shouldn’t be an executive. The ultimate goal of any business is to make money. Would it not make sense to reduce costs to drive profit? How much could have been saved by flying first class instead of on a private jet? And if you know the meeting is coming, why not take your time on the train?

And it isn’t just the salaries of the executives either that needs pruning. What purpose would a two million dollar, interest free home loan serve for an executive? Can’t they get financing like the rest of us? If their credit is so bad they need to rely on their employer to fund their house, they should choose a cheaper house or work on repairing their credit.

By no means should an executive work for free. They should make a proportional amount more than those reporting to them. If the guy working the production floor makes twenty dollars an hour, his boss makes forty, his boss makes eighty, then his boss should make one hundred. That’s only $208,000 a year. A reasonable sum of money for a high-level manager or executive.

Rule 5 – Last Chance
This is your last chance. As in, if you still go belly up after you get the money, you’re done. No more money, the government takes over your company and does as it pleases with it.

Ford website, Retrieved on December 9, 2008 from

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Dense or Whimsical?

Your choice.


Ford's Plan for fixing themselves.

GM's Plan for fixing themselves.

Chrysler's Plan for fixing themselves.

A much lighter view on things from a young girl named Tavi that's into fashion. Sometimes I wish I was this care-free again. Not a worry in the world beyond what to wear to school and if I'd get my homework done in time to watch Woody Woodpecker.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Catch Up Reviews

No, not like ketchup you put on a burger, catch up like I'm behind in writing a few reviews.

First, we have Crusade, the latest book of the Destroyermen by Taylor Anderson. Now, his first book was okay. Clearly not in the league of S. M. Stirling, but decent enough to read the next book in the series.

His second book follows much in the same vein, but shows some signs of improvement. There are certain aspects that I still don't much like (especially the pacing), but Anderson seems to have gotten better at his craft. The characters are developing (slowly) and the action has certainly picked up a notch (and far outpaces the first book). Anderson shows clearly he knows about battle at sea and on land. His Grik bad guys and Cat Monkey good guys make for an interesting twist on the "normal" alternate-history genre.

What I noticed most about this installment was the humor (it's getting better and is well placed) and the dialogue. Certain characters seem to have these two or three page speeches throughout the book. While certain books couldn't support this style, Anderson does well with it.

Next, we have the books that I had to stop reading. Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley, The Disappeared by Kristine Kathyrn Rusch, and Roughing It by Mark Twain (I've read it before, but had to stop since it was pretty dry listening). Most disappointing was Winterbirth as I really, really wanted to enjoy this one. Unfortunately, it was just waaaaaaaay too slow for me.

Which brings us to Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale and illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation to the first two). I'm not a big graphic novel kind of guy, but this one had a cover that caught my eye at the library (yes, the library, that's your one and only clue about my next project idea).

The art inside was fantastic and the storyline was much like Shrek. Funny, entertaining, and pretty close to the original stories to bring in some big names. Like Jack (of beanstalk fame). Anyway, a pleasant read.

And I'll finish off with A Meeting at Corvallis by S. M. Stirling. This one was actually a re-read (well, I read it the first time and listened to it this time). As usual, Stirling delivers. Plenty of action, drama, double-crosses, and witches. Can't wait to get deeper into the storyline of the Change because I'm hooked again.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Because I can't say it

And because Jim says it so well, I'll let him say the rest:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

2008 Turkey Trot

So, I never posted my time from the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. It's still in my inbox and I seem to keep avoiding it. Maybe I'm subconsciously ashamed of it.

Congratulations Neil you finished the Turkey Trot 5 km on Nov 27, 2008 with a
time of 01:04:47. You placed 1807 of 1816 runners, 871 of 874 Male runners and
57 of 57 in the Clydesdale division. You scored 2 Grand Prix points in this
race. Weather on Race day was 38 degrees, sunny.

Yes, that's right. An hour and four minutes. But I was sick and walked it. With a four year old. And yes, I registered in the Clydesdale division. Something I doubt I'll do again (not because it means I'm fat, but because it seems to take you out of the "normal" men's division).

Aside from being slow (and sick), I'm okay with my time. I hadn't really trained for it and didn't really feel motivated to run it. But when I saw those guys cruising back before we even hit the 1 mile mark, I wanted to get well and run.

Overall, I was amazed at how many runners there were. I mean, this is Thanksgiving morning. And it's freezing cold out. And over 2,000 adult runners showed up for the 5k, plus another 600 or so kids ran the mile. What I enjoyed the most, was the attitude of everyone involved. Sure, some of the kids were being dragged along that one mile route, but nearly everyone was happy to be there. Add a few kegs and it would have been a regular party.

And the sportsmanship of those involved was also great. Cheers went up for the race leaders. The girl in the wheelchair. The stragglers like us. And several people were amazed that Elizabeth did the race. Several people asked "Did she do the whole thing?" or "She's only four?"

Yep, she did it all by herself. I carried her after the Finish line. And she ran a good portion of it too, just in spurts. I think next summer she may be able to do some one mile runs.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

One less monkey

So, I now have one less monkey on my back as I share some recent photos of William, Elizabeth, and our Turkey Trot.

But as I look at the photos, I realize some are missing. So pardon me while I fix that.

Okay. Fixed. Now you can view the entire collection here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A bit of an update

Yesterday's post about the fire has become a temporary obsession of mine. I recently discovered a few sites that may interest you.

First, an image of the funeral services from Life magazine.
Second, an image of a mother in grief from Life magazine (the man looks like my grandfather, but I'm pretty sure it isn't him).

Finally, what appears to be the best source of information (photos, statistics, maps, etc.) about the fire.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Our local paper ran this AP Story yesterday about the 50th anniversary of the fire that killed several students and teachers at the Our Lady of Angels School in Chicago's West Side.

Why did this story make me stop and read it? It has close family ties. Years ago (1996 to be precise) my mother gave me a Christmas present. A book called To Sleep with the Angels by David Cowan and John Kuenster.

And while nobody in our family died in that fire, my grandfather (my mom's dad) knew many of the firefighters involved in fighting the blaze. You see, my grandfather was a photographer for the fire department. And while I never knew him (he died when my mom was a kid), I feel proud that he was such a friend and asset to the department.

So, if you have kids in school, say a little prayer today for those that lost there lives 50 years ago today. If it weren't for their sacrifice, we wouldn't have such high standards for fire protection and prevention in our schools.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Digital Publishing and Rejection Letters

First, we have the digital publishing topic rearing it's ugly head again. I still have mixed feelings on this. If I had some sort of e-reader, I might be more interested. As it stands now though, I have a slew of free books in PDF but have barely finished one book in nearly a year. Oi.

Then we have a very funny rejection letter. While I find rejection rather crushing to my ego, I found myself laughing as I read this. But then again, I wasn't the one being rejected. But then again, I wouldn't have submitted a theme song either.

And with that, I'll bid you a good holiday. Don't be a foodwhore!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Triggers: Mine and William's

We'll start with William, since I'm sure more of you out there care about him more than me. Lately I've been noticing he's learning words and phrases and responding to them appropriately (or humorously). So here's his list with responses:

- Are you hungry? - And he goes to his high chair and tries to climb in. Sometimes he'll even get an applesauce on the way.
- Do you want a milk? - And he runs to the fridge and tries to open the door.
- (no word or phrase) - When Henry scratches to go out, he runs to the door and tries to help him outside.
- Are you ready for your bath? - And he runs to the bathroom and tries to climb into the tub.
- Do you have a dirty diaper? - And he runs to his room.
- time out - Even when he's not in trouble, he'll go and sit in time out sometimes.
- Henry - He does a little "woof woof woof" sound.

I'm sure there's more, but that's all I remember right now. Moving on to my triggers, this is directly related to the sour state of the economy and my compulsive counting. How so? I recently scored a free subscription to Forbes (thanks to Yvonne's online survey addiction) and just got my first issue today. And was unpleasantly surprised by the overwhelming number of personal jets and expensive watches I saw advertised. Me thinks the economy is sour because some executives are making too much money.

Where does my compulsive counting come in? Simple. Here's a break-down of the adds in the December 2008 issue of Forbes Life:

- Watches - 12
- Resorts - 8
- Alcohol - 6
- Electronics - 6
- Clothing - 6
- Jets - 5
- Cars - 4
- Cigars - 2
- Food - 2

- Misc - 2 (a film festival and a sailing race)

Screw the economy, I'm thinking I need to become a corporate executive.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The power of 3

*Caution - There will be swearing in this post.

I've long been a fan of the number 3 (sorry Paulie, I have to use the number, not the word here). Probably because I was born on the 3rd. Or just because I'm weird. Anyway, the number 3 has appeared in many things cool. The Star Wars Trilogy. The Back to the Future Trilogy. The Icewind Dale Trilogy. A "silence of three parts" in The Name of the Wind.

I've been re-reading (listening actually) S. M. Stirling's saga about The Change. Repeatedly there's the idea or concept of "the three-fold law" essentially saying that if you do something good, it will be repaid to you three-fold. Same goes for evil. Kind of like what you dish out, you get back. I've never been a big fan of this "pay it forward" kind of mentality. After all, look what happened to the kid in the movie.

Which brings us my weekend. It sucked. Shopping when you're tired is NOT a good idea. Tired and cranky makes it worse. Tired and cranky in a sea of people, well, you get the idea. Saturday was spent at the local library getting a library card (more on that in a later post), watching Elizabeth learn about money, shopping at the local craft fair (more on that in a second), and shopping in town for groceries, Christmas presents, and the like.

While at the craft fair, there was a dearth of parking spots. So I parked in what one would assume to be a normal spot, behind someone else. When we left, someone decided to park behind me, effectively making my day. And if you happen to be that TN VOL fan, I'm not sorry I pushed your fucking car the few inches I did to remove myself from the parking lot. You're damn lucky I didn't push you to the other side of the fucking lot because I easily could have. So enjoy your early fucking Christmas present and I seriously hope I don't run into you in the next week. I might do something stupid just like you.

Yesterday was even more pleasant. Instead of six hours of sleep, I got four. But the sea of people had ebbed a bit, so I was able to ford my way through. We did get some more groceries for the holidays and I gave a few chuckles at Victoria's Secret. Elizabeth and I went to pick up some free underwear and I decided to shop for a Christmas present. Elizabeth was anxious to leave so she could ride the "rides" in the mall (those little car-thingies that move around). Well, when she heard I wanted to "shop" there, she said "Why daddy? Everything in here is for girls." "Yes sweetie, everything in here is for girls, , but I wanted to shop for something for mommy, not for me to wear." The woman passing by did her best not to laugh out loud. At least not while I was close enough to hear her. Then we had Yvonne losing more of a crown last night. It's a wonderful, wonderful thing that I don't like beer. I might be an alcoholic if I did.

And this morning, things looked brighter. Our dentist was nice enough to update us on the changes made based on our letter (which was based on our poor experience with Elizabeth's teeth). So that made me feel better. And my hygienist was chatty, which was okay, but it still makes me wonder if deaf people talk while at the dentist. Anybody know?

So now that I've let off some steam, I'm starting to gear up for next year and what projects it will bring. I'm brewing one right now, but we'll see how it works out. Meanwhile I'll be counting to ten.

One Abbamondi

Two Abbamondi

Three Abbamondi

Four Abbamondi

Five Abbamondi

Six Abbamondi

Seven Abbamondi

Eight Abbamondi

Nine Abbamondi

Ten Abbamondi

I am now at peace with the galaxy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A goat by any other name

Is still a goat. So, recently, author-extraordinaire Pat Rothfuss has been working up some fundraising for Heifer International. And at over $15,000, the fans are answering loudly.

Which brings us to a goat-inclusive music video.

So, for all you college kids out there, are these guys really that cool?

And for the rest of us fogies, are they hippies, emos, church choir, or something else?

PS - While I would greatly appreciate some Rothfuss swag, you can save some money by shopping from my Christmas list:
- iTunes money (I want to buy a Whiskey Bards album)
- The Cosby Show (entire series - this would be for both Yvonne and myself)
- The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe
- Survive! by Les Stroud
- The Audacity of Hope by Barak Obama
- Costco gift card (any amount, we shop there all the time)
- Lost (any season on DVD)
- iPod video docking station (still not sure if I want this, but it's an option)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Make me an offer I can't refuse

So I'm actually watching The Godfather. After Roger Rabbit getting dipped, I decided for some action. And, like Lord of the Rings, I never really got into the Godfather series. One would think if I could stay awake and enjoy Lawrence of Arabia, I could do the same with The Godfather but when I was younger, I'd fall asleep. I knew it was out there, I knew it was good, but I'd only seen bits and pieces of it.

So far, it's decent. No Untouchables yet, but decent.

Moving on, we have two interesting articles from Publisher's Weekly. The first covers covers. As in book covers. Something I'm utterly fascinated with and, honestly, biased about. If a cover is good, I'll buy your book. If a cover is bad, I won't even pick it up. Simple as that.

The second answers some queries about query letters. Quite an interesting insight into how a slush pile is dealt with and how query letters may become passe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My day in pictures

So last night was the second night in a row that I've had a scary dream. And no, not scary like monsters. Scary like, like, I don't know. I didn't so anything illegal, but I was scared by what I was doing. So scared, so freaked out, I don't even want to talk about it, let alone think about it.

Moving on, I went to the gym and did a regular work out. Then, as I was getting into the shower, I dropped my underwear. My clean underwear. In the water. Damn.

As my day progressed, things looked better. I even got the chance to finish watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But the DVR decided to record all but the last 5 minutes. You know, when the bad guy gets it. Double Damn.

And I finished my daylight hours replacing the headlight bulb in Yvonne's van. In the freezing cold. Triple Damn.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Measuring Body Parts

Done laughing yet?

Are you sure? Is that a giggle I hear?

Well, if you can calm down and breathe for a second, I'll explain my Title. I've measured myself on occasion over the past few months and my trips to the Y have paid off a little. How much? Take a gander at what I've lost:

Forearm - 1/4 inch
Chest and Hips - 1/2 inch
Waist - 3 inches

I also gained some mass.

Thighs and Calves - 1/2 inch

I'm not too surprised by this as I've mainly been running and working out my lower body (calves and thighs). My weight has dropped a little, but not a dramatic amount. I'm not looking anorexic by any means and I haven't really changed my eating habits. Yet.

But the fact that I can run a few miles and feel fine when I'm done makes me feel great. I'm hoping to switch to an upper body workout here soon (after Thanksgiving) and get a good weight routine down. The Y has plenty of machines to use, it's just a matter of finding what works best.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Gun Soap Box

Warning - this is a bit of a long-winded rant/soap box speech. Feel free to skip it.

So this article was in the local paper over the weekend and it kind of tweaked me as a gun owner/carrier. I've been told by many people that I was born for politics as I often sit on the fence or in the middle when it comes to arguments and hot topics.

But I think it's more my attempt at trying to compromise to make everyone as happy as possible. And one of those areas I'm willing to compromise in is gun control. Yes, I have a gun. Yes, I open-carry my gun (as allowed by state law). Yes, I conceal-carry my gun (as allowed by state law). Over the past few years that I've been open/conceal-carrying, I have been stopped by law enforcement officers.

One, a city officer, asked me if I was in law enforcement. Obviously I said no but stated I had a permit. From there the conversation went to what was the best model, caliber, etc. The second time was by a state trooper. Again, he asked the same "what department are you with" question. When I said none, he politely asked me for my ID and permit. Well within his rights and mine. Both times I was treated professionally and politely.

But it's the reaction from the general public that always amazes me. Most of the time, I'm completely ignored. I think most people assume the big blob of black on my waist is a PDA or something. For those that notice, there's generally some shock, maybe some pointing and whispered words, but usually that's the extent of it. Most do take a step back and leave me alone.

But more interesting is the more vocal reactions I've gotten. Like the young wanna-be thuggie that yelled "5-0!" when I walked out the hardware store. Or the grocery store clerk that said "see, they don't buy just donuts" after I bought some cookies. Or the clerk in Best Buy that said "I'm glad you carry that in here. I carry too and I know it irritates the security in our store." Or the people in Wal Mart that outright denied me access to the store, saying guns were banned (which they later apologized for and said they weren't). Or the Costco manager who said I needed to leave. Rudely. Even though I was in the process of paying for my shopping cart of stuff.

Where does sitting the fence come into this? I think we should be allowed to own guns. Even to carry them. But I think there needs to be limits on that. Criminals shouldn't be allowed to have them. You shouldn't be allowed to carry them in certain places. And I think Virginia has done a good job in balancing the right to carry and the right to prevent weapons from being on certain property. In fact, there's one place I think should be added to the list of no-carry sites, and that's a doctor's office. And I generally don't carry there. Something about making your doc nervous while he sticks a needle in your arm doesn't appeal to me.

Anyway, I think our new President may bring change to gun-ownership laws. I've read some states are seeing an increase in gun sales because of this "fear." But I don't see it as a fear. Sure, Obama likely supports stricter gun laws. He's from Chicago and Illinois, two very tough areas to carry guns. But I don't see him restricting me protecting myself in my own home. Maybe on the streets, but if that means I need to get a "federal" license to carry, so be it. I'm sure I can pass the course. And it would make me feel safer that when I saw that fanny pack on the dude in the store, I knew he too had passed the course.

And while I'm sure we won't go to something as extreme as you can see in some European countries where guns are only carried by cops or where every citizen is in the "militia" and is expected to have a gun, I think I could live with that too. Gun related crimes are usually lower in those countries, so maybe it works. But I don't see that coming. It would be too much against the nature and backbone of our country. We'd have better luck getting rid of all the cars on the road.

Okay, I'm off my soap box. Congratulations if you made it this far.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Is there a Doctor in the house?

So, my previous post was about how good today was, right? Well, I got a polite email from my lovely wife that I should include some other big news in the post.

And I hardily disagree because I think it deserves it's own post. To shove it in with my usual drivel is, well, a great way to tarnish the accomplishment.

To cut straight to the heart of what I'm beating around the bush about, my sister-in-law has finished defending her doctoral thesis and was successful (I'll apologize now if I use the wrong words, terms, or phrases - I only have a lowly B.A. in Criminal Justice and know nothing of the process or the field). After years of hard work (about 10 I think) in class and in the lab, she's finally jumped the last hurdle. And to top it all off, it's got something to do with micro-biology, space-alien-like lab equipment, and testing something to see if it does something.

Yeah. Can you tell I understand what exactly she does? I've asked before and after hearing the simple explanation, I just felt too dumb to continue pretending I knew what was being said. Instead, I think I'll stick to my treadmill in the morning, my interwebz during the day, and my reading at night.

So congratulations on the huge achievement. I wish I had words of wisdom, but, I think you're a few years ahead of me in the department.

Good news or Bad news?

  1. The peanut butter is gone from the three mouse traps. Good
  2. No mouse in the mouse traps. Bad
  3. Eight new glue traps placed. Good
  4. Found potential hiding place of mouse. Good
  5. Hiding place is over kitchen cabinets. Bad
  6. 38 inch waist pants keep riding low, gangsta style. Bad
  7. Waist appears to have shrunk from working out. Good
  8. All shorts and pants are 38 inch waist. Bad
  9. The shed getting primed some more today. Good
  10. The weather is in the 70s today. Good
  11. Survivorman Season 3 starts tonight. Good
  12. This stupid list. Bad

Total Bad = 5

Total Good = 7

Therefore, it's a good day.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I can haz big gunz?

Until I started doing you-know-what at home, I never knew the local gun range was used so much during the day. Granted, I never expected them to use it all that much at night, but they have in the past. Even on weekends. But weekends are always a little different as schedules vary all the time.

But during the week, I'm on a pretty normal routine. And having big guns go off during that routine never occurred to me. Now that I hear the air raid siren, it's at the front of my mind. Oh, didn't I tell you? These are BIG guns.

It's a place called Pumpkin Neck (even though that's not the "official" name the Navy gives it. Here's a blurb:
The Explosives Experimental Area (EEA), located to the south of the creek on Tetotum Flats, consists of 1,641 acres. The EEA is more commonly referred to as Pumpkin Neck (Figure 4). Approximately 8 percent of the EEA consists of developed areas, over 60 percent is hardwood and pine forest, and marshland is also common. Two large open field test areas are located in the center (Navy 2003a). These areas are used exclusively for testing naval ordnance and include static detonation arenas, drop test towers, static thrust stands, thermal test retaining cages, fast and slow cook-off facilities, shock test facilities, and high explosive vibration facilities. Access to the EEA is through a gated entrance and is open only on request with proper authorization. Access is denied to most personnel during explosive testing events when the one access road is blocked (Navy 2003a, B. T. Weedon, U.S. Navy, personal communication, January 18-20, 2005). Access within EEA is controlled by test specific Standard Operating Procedures (V. Lovejoy, U.S. Navy, personal communication, January 27, 2006)
Source: Public Health Assessment.

And while I'm sure they still test conventional weapons like this:

There's also a bit of technology in their newer tests:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'm tired

But happy. Very happy. There's so much going through my tired and feeble mind, it can't keep up. This may be one of those days where I break open the emergency caffeine cache and drink three cups extra just to stay awake.

And while I'm clearly too old to stay up to 1 am, I still feel like I'm part of the youth of this country. That's right, I'm 32 years young.

I voted. After arriving semi-early (7 am), I got to wait in line. And wait. Nearly 45 minutes later, I finally got inside before it started to rain. I then waited some more, checked in, and stood in line yet again for the electronic voting machine. Since I started voting 4 years ago, there has never been a line for this machine. In fact, 4 years ago, I was the first person to use it. Yesterday I stood behind 3 people.

While waiting in line, I heard the woman in front of me say "for the first time I'm voting for the other party." If she was talking about local elections or Presidential, it didn't really matter. My precinct and county was heavy on the Republican side of the ticket.

An hour after arriving (compared to 5 minutes 4 years ago), I finally headed back home. After continually checking Google electoral maps, I discovered I was more excited than I thought about the election. Imagine, me enjoying an election while I hate politics.

Last night, I was up late watching the coverage. Mostly on NBC, but later I switched to CNN. If I had been thinking about it, I would have switched to Fox (or Faux as I call it) News to revel in the glory just a little more. I'm sure they're still coming to terms with a black man being President.

I watched McCain's speech and was flabbergasted at the people booing. Seriously? Booing? Do you really think Obama will make all you white, rich, Arizona republicans sit in the back of the bus and drink from different water fountains? How very non-Christian of you.

I then watched Obama's speech and, while I didn't hear much substance (not that I expected much), I did have that feeling of hope. And after talking to my Mom this week, that's the best way I can describe how Obama makes me feel. I think if I had lived through the 1960s with JFK, I would have felt the same.

I'm recovering. It'll be a long day, but I'll make it.

And while I feel proud that America has turned the racial corner and may be able to leave our spotty past behind us, I'm most proud of the fact that I'm not gloating and rubbing in the victory. It's taking a lot of effort to not stop at every McCain sign on my road and do a little victory dance on it.

And with that, I bid you a good day. May we all have an O Face for the next four years (how's that for a double entendre).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Who are you voting for tomorrow?

(or today if you're in bed as I'm writing this)

Personally, I'm leaning toward Boone. He's always done the right thing and isn't afraid of being friends with Indians.

But, Walter certainly has a chance. He's always been a straight shooter.

In the end, I think I'll just stick to the Democrats.

Gingerbread Houses

While out shopping this weekend, Elizabeth and I saw these awesome constructions:

We also scored a signed copy of Tomie De Paola's Brava, Strega Nona. He was in town for a signing and I have to say, this is by far the best pop-up book I've ever seen. Not only are the scenes artfully done and colorful, they are so finely engineered, it's amazing. I mean, they do things I never would have thought possible in a pop-up book.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Zookeeper's Wife

I just finished reading the sad and inspiring tale about a zookeeper's wife in Poland during WWII. Why was it sad? Because a lot of people died in Poland during WWII, many of them Jews. When I read Night by Elie Wiesel I wanted to cry, vomit, and do my best at removing everything associated with the images it left in my brain (they haunt me still). So I wasn't too enthused about that part of the story, but I will say that Ackerman did a great job in keeping it accurate, but muted. This is by no means a story about Nazi hate and Jews being killed. It's a story about a woman doing everything she can to save her family from the horrors of war.

Oddly, and interestingly, that family included animals. Sure, some of us have pets, but think about taking care of hyena pups. Or a badger. Or a lion. Or an elephant. Then try imagining worrying about those animals (and your own kids) while planes are bombing the city. Yeah, tough job.

Overall, it's a good read. It gives you an inside look at zoo life, the war in Poland, and how luck always seems to find the right people. I'm always amazed at how luck seemed to find the right people at the right time during the war. From family stories of my great-uncle getting shot down over Russia (and surviving) to stories like The Forgotten 500 (a group of Allies that flew out from behind enemy lines).

And that's what the zookeeper and his wife had; luck. And lots of it. They survived the war and kept their family intact.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Blatantly stolen from Erik Scott de Bie's blog:

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change, and change is coming, my friends!

JOHN MC CAIN: My friends, that chicken was a maverick. Why did he cross the road? Because that's what mavericks do--they stand up to their own side and sometimes they cross over to the other side . . . but not really.

JOE BIDEN: To get away from the sidekick of the failed economic policies of the last eight years.

SARAH PALIN: He wanted to get back to the *real America,* over on the other side. Hey, no, that's not what I meant--you and your gosh-darned "gotcha" journalism!

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road . . . and tried unsuccessfully to see that every other chicken in our great country gets equal road-crossing coverage. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me--this is about what's best for all our chickens.

JOE THE PLUMBER: Sounds like socialism to me.


KARL ROVE: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here. (Also--the chicken might be a lesbian. Just sayin'.)

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road. No--no sir, the international intelligence community *assures* me that that's what it is.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of crossing?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it. It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it, until facts or political expediency demand otherwise.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white?

RUDI GIULIANI: Nine-Eleven!!!

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens . . . unless he just made up that story about crossing the road. In which case F*** that.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road. More on this situation as it develops.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmers Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

J.K. ROWLING: He was imperiused.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it "the other side." Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay, too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like the other side. That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

SOCRATES: I don't know this--I don't know anything!

DESCARTE: I cross therefore I am.

NIETZSCHE: The chicken is dead.

NEO: Woah.

RANDOM 9-YEAR-OLD GIRL: Mommy said not to talk to strangers.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: It's all relative: did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

OZZY: Because I was, like, bitin' heads off his mates, right? F***in' Prince of F***in' Darkness, I am.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world . . . crossin' roads in peace. Yoo-hoo, hoo-wu-woo . . .

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, balance your checkbook, and *not* email your financial information to Microsoft. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never crash.

STEVE JOBS: [snerk]

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Photos swiped from Yvonne's phone

I pulled these off while trying to get the Christmas list photos off (which I hope to finish up soon, just give me some time).

Elizabeth at some sort of function (I forgot to ask):

Elizabeth wearing her presents from Aunt Mary:

William looking rather handsome (like his dad of course):

More photos from the pumpkin farm:


The other day, after Elizabeth went to the bathroom, she was pulling up her pants and said "I wish we had one of those spray things like Miss Carolyn [ her baby sitter ] that makes it smell better."

This one is too good not to share:

Then we have one of those patented jokes from Elizabeth. It goes something like this:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Joke? Joke who?
Joke's going to make you laugh so hard your head falls off!

And finally, a little "autumnal" porn for Paulie.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There's a mouse in the house

There's a mouse in the house

The war is on between you and me
I have set traps that number three
I hope you die before I wake
I pray this for my sanity's sake

When I heard you skittering last night
You gave me a terrible terrible fright
For I don't like furry mice or creepy bugs
I'd rather get beaten by a gang of thugs

So this morning I baited you with peanut butter
In hopes it will be the last squeak you utter
Because when I hear that trap snap
I am going to jump and clap

I hope your death is quick and clean
Despite my hate for you, I'm not mean
I no fan of suffering while dying
Yet when you go I won't be crying

And since I'm not living in your house
You furry, creepy, little mouse
Please don't live in mine
Or you'll join the divine

Monday, October 27, 2008

How would your favorite fantasy character vote?

Thanks to the constant media attention on the next election, I clearly have politics on my brain. And thanks to Palin's scheduled visit to the area today and the most recent RNC radio ad about Obama taking my guns away, I've been forced to inject some humor into politics. Or at least try to have some fun.

Kvothe - Anarchist - This was a toss up between Anarchists (who don't appear to be on the ballot) and the Libertarians. In the end, I think Kvothe would prefer the anarchy as it would allow him to hide form those greater forces that may be looking for him.

Drizzt Do'Urden - Democrat - I know they say race isn't an issue, but seriously. You know people are going to vote for or against Obama because he's black. While I don't think Drizzt would do this, I do think it would give him some pause when decided who to vote for. In the end, I think he'll look for a more peaceful party that wants to end the war in Iraq.

Jig - Undecided - By far the easiest one in my list. Jig clearly is undecided until someone tells him who to vote for. He only cares about surviving the next adventure.

Simon Canderous - Democrat - Another easy one, mainly because he lives in New York City, a hive of scum, villainy, and Democrats. I also think Simon would get a bit more funding for his department with a Democrat in office, something he and his co-workers need.

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy - Republican - Because he's in the Navy, and was last seen fighting the Japanese armada in the Pacific Theatre of WWII, Reddy is going to vote for McCain. he may not be thrilled about having a skirt as Vice President, but she does have a pretty face.

Juniper Mackenzie - Green Party - As a Witch and survivor of the Change, she and her clan are clearly in the Green Party's hip pocket.

Looks like it'll be a close race.

*Profuse apologies to the creators of these fictional characters. If you see a flaw or would like to explain why your character is voting a certain way, feel free to let me know.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Make sure you celebrate tomorrow!

That's right ya'll, tomorrow is Livermush Day! What's livermush you ask? Start here:

And if you can still stomach it, read here. And of course, the article that started it all.

And for the record, not even a cute girl like this:

Could get me to eat this:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Great Pumpkin

No, not Charlie Brown. But Elizabeth, William, Yvonne, and I went hunting for a pumpkin last weekend. It was very cold and windy, but we stayed bundled up and had a great time. Unfortunately for me, I forgot to charge the camera battery. So, after three pictures, the rest were on the cell phone (and therefore, not that great).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Did Heroes Jump the Shark?

I've been a big Heroes fan since it started. I know a lot of people last season were loosing faith in the show but I hung around and enjoyed it. Granted, it wasn't as good as the first season, but I expected that. Think of all those great trilogy movies out there. The first and third movies are usually the better ones.

Anyway, I've grown disappointed in Heroes this season. I'm expecting a greater show, better plots, better acting and all I get is crap. Of last night's episode, the only part I truly enjoyed was Hiro, Ando, and the African painter. Seriously. That's it. Maybe a little of Daphne and Parkman. But just a little.

Nikki's twin sister? As boring as Nikki.
Nathan? I liked him better when he was dead.
Peter? Lost his power? Now I don't care about him.
Sylar? Growing a conscience? BORING!
Mama Petrelli? You mean she's not dead yet? Damn.
Mohinder? Give me a can of Raid and I'll take care of him.

Seriously, please, just get back to the writing of the first season. Put down all those X-Men comics you've been using for your research. You can do a better plot line, trust me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I am such a dork

Make that a Dork with a capital "D." Why? Because not only do I "get" the comic below, I actually know what a "null" is.


Monday, October 13, 2008

A Hyper Productive Weekend

And it all finished with Yvonne finding her earpiece this morning at school. Needless to say, she's been a basket case since Saturday afternoon.

Yesterday was full of household chores, mostly centered around "winterizing" things for the change in weather. So I cleaned, sharpened, and oiled all the outside tools. Got the snow shovel and window scraper out. And cut the grass. I also washed the mower, my car, and Yvonne's van. Prepped the weedeater, leaf blower, and lawn mower for winter. And painted a piece of scrap wood for Yvonne to mount her iron holder to in the laundry room. I would have mounted it yesterday, but the batteries for the cordless drill are totally shot, so it'll take me time to use them or scrounge for the corded power drill in the shed.

Yes, I'm working my way backwards to Saturday. We did the usual grocery shopping and errand running. Yvonne's phone has been acting up, so she should be getting a new battery in the mail soon. And now that she's found her headset, she'll be able to drop that off to get fixed.

And yes, I've finally arrived at the highlight of my weekend. The local 5k race I ran Saturday morning. As you saw earlier, I did a great job at not only beating my primary goal (finishing it), but also my secondary goal (finishing in under 45 minutes). In fact, I crushed my secondary goal with a time of 35 minutes, 20 seconds. A full 4 minutes faster than what I ran it in last weekend.

Elizabeth and Yvonne walked (and ran some) the race in an hour and 5 minutes. Not to shabby for a four year old. Everyone was pooped and hungry for doughnuts, but I wanted to stick around to see where I placed in the race. Specifically in my age group (30 to 39). Which meant I had to wait until they finished calling out the top three finishers in each group. Which meant I got my answer faster than expected.

I got second place. Not too bad for a fat guy.

So there, Paulie, Kelly, Stone, and Melissa. There's your motivation that you can set a goal and accomplish it.

And my loving wife? She was very proud. Then she proceeded to tell me to "buckle down" so I win a cash prize at another race. Such love.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

King George Fall Festival 5k Run

My time was 35 minutes and 20 seconds. We all had a great time but the end of the event was even better!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


*Caution: If you squirm at the intricacies of exercise, running, or the blathering of an old man, you might as well skip this post.

I've finally decided to "officially" let the cat out of the bag. What's the big news? I'm running in a race Saturday. I know, boring stuff, but it's big for me. So sit back, while I regale you with my sad story.

In high school I ran cross country and track. In track my even was the 400. I have no idea why I chose to run that race other than I thought I could sprint. I couldn't. Cross country was much easier for me once I got into shape. It didn't take long to do that as I was young and thin. I topped out around 160 to 180 pounds and maybe 5'10" to 6'0".

I had long legs and a long stride but I wasn't the fastest on the team. And that didn't bother me. There were taller kids and shorter kids and even girls that were faster than me. But I wasn't the slowest, so I was fine with that.

Anyway, our coach (who ran and looked like a dwarf - as in the fantasy kind, not the little people kind) had a good routine for our training, stretching, etc. Part of that still sticks with me to this day. The memory, not the practice.

Fast forward 14 years. I haven't run on a regular basis since high school. I'm now 32, married, and the father of two. And while my height hasn't changed much (still 6'0"), my waist has grown considerably as I now weigh in around 230. I know that's big, and I want to get smaller. But I also know that it could be worse. A good friend lives in pain from his weight and I don't know how he does it. I think I'd become overly depressed and eat more. Instead, he's working out.

So taking some inspiration from him (and a few others), I finally realized I had hit the bottom of my barrel. I was tired of being tubby and wanted to move closer toward chubby (yes, there's a difference in my mind). So in searching around the various interwebz, I discovered there was a 5k (that's 3.1 miles) race this weekend (the same distance we'd run in cross country).

So for the past month and a half, I've been training. Yes, training. My goal? Several. First, to finish this race. Second, if I finish it, I want to finish it in less than 45 minutes. The long-term/overall goal, was to generally increase my level of fitness and hopefully drop some weight. Nothing specific, but if I have to buy a new wardrobe because my pants are too large, then I'll be super-happy.

My training has also been aided by the motivation that I'm paying for it. We recently got a YMCA in the county, so it takes me all of a few minutes to drive there and back. With doing you-know-what at home now, I have the time to workout, shower, and get back home with time to spare.

Now, for the motivational part for those looking to start a workout regime. So, how have I done in my training so far? In late August, I could barely run a few laps around my yard. Since then, I've been able to run for a mile in under 10 minutes. And most important to me, I ran the old cross country course this past weekend. My time? 39 minutes.

Not too bad considering my age, weight, and overall fitness level. I'll bore you all next week with how the race goes.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The bestest birthday ever

Well, maybe not, but still it's been pretty good so far. We saw yesterday what came in the mail. Today, I was greeted by a cheerful four-year old with a card and present. My present? A letter opener.

Yes, that's right, I wanted a letter opener. I've been opening letters with my finger on the short side of the envelope for long enough, I tell ya, long enough. Now I can use my handy-dandy, metal (pointy but dull) letter opener. No fancy engraving. No fancy tassels. Just a letter opener.

My card? Well, I'll let everyone enjoy (and add some explanations from the "artist").

That's a snowman Daddy.

The arrows tell you where to read. I used my stencils to draw the heart and I wrote my name all by myself. [when I asked her about the thing in the upper right corner, she replied] That's your birthday cake.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's like Christmas

Or my birthday.

A few days back, I got my first freebie in the mail. Two actually. One was for free cat litter (I know we don't have a cat, but it will be good for oil spills in the shed) and the other was for some popcorn rice-cake like snack (which was okay).

Then yesterday my mom sent me three books (all for my birthday). One was on my list, the other two were suggested reading from her.

And then today, the UPS guy sent a cooler full of hamburgers! They're for the whole family, but hey, I'm still gonna eat some!

Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Destroyermen and HBO

First off, I finished Destroyermen: Into the Storm this weekend. The easiest way I can describe it is:

Imagine Kurt R. A. Giambastiani met S. M. Stirling. They concoct a story. They invite Robert Jordan to tell it.

Yep, that's right, Giambastiani's dinosaurs, Stirling's alternate history, and Jordan's pacing. Now, if anyone understood that, congratulations. You're one of about five people in the world to get it. For everyone else, keep reading.

Giambastiani wrote a series (The Fallen Cloud Saga) that tells the story of General George Armstrong Custer (and his son) in an alternate version of the US. One where the natives (i.e. Indians) ride dinosaurs. Sounds odd, I know, but if you haven't read it, give it a shot.

Stirling wrote (and still is writing) a series about the Change. It starts with Nantucket getting "zapped" back in time. The rest of the world (the one we know) suffers a change in physics resulting in guns, cars, and pretty much anything modern not working. Great series. Another must read.

Jordan wrote (and Sanderson will finish) the Wheel of Time series. A simple story of a young man destined to save the world and go crazy in the process. And by simple, I mean one of the most long and drawn our series of all time. Well, until Martin and a few others came along.

So, dinosaurs, alternate history, and slow pacing. That's the gist of this story. But don't get me wrong, I liked it. The chapters are massive. And by massive, I mean the average size book had seven chapters. Yeah. And there were times when the story plodded along as slow as an ancient turtle. But there's a gem in there. The gem is the overall story. Right now, we just get to brush the dirt and grime off the outside edge. And I'm sure the next installment (below) will be better.

In other news, I was recently reminded of the shows HBO has done in the past. I'm nearly finished with John Adams and have felt like it hasn't quite lived up to the others I've seen (Deadwood and Band of Brothers mostly). So I decided to see when HBO did their shows. Not when where they released, but when in time. So enjoy my spreadsheet goodness below.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Politics are like ticks

They suck your blood and give you diseases.

And because of that, I've tried to avoid talking politics here. I have opinions, admittedly strong ones, about the candidates. But I do believe that you and everyone else out there can believe in what you want.

To that end, I'd like to say two things. First, I'll let renowned author Paul S. Kemp speak my mind.

Second, I'd like to direct your attention to the crackpot candidate running for House of Representatives in an effort to represent our area. One Mr. Nathan Larson. For those of you not wanting to read the entire thing, here are a few choice quotes:

A better solution would be simply to privatize all schools and eliminate government funding for education.

Nathan supports providing police, courts, and prisons through the private sector. To help prevent abuses, it is desirable that citizens and communities be allowed to choose among competing vendors of these services.

All federal taxes should be repealed, and government services should be completely privatized.

And my favorite:

Nathan supports completely abolishing the United States military and replacing it with an anarcho-capitalist system in which private defense agencies compete for the business of American customers.

So in effect he wants to eliminate my wife's job, eliminate my job, and allow anyone with enough money and guns to run the country. I love the wild west and western expansion. But not that much.

Winnie the Whiz

First, if you're looking for some inspiration in your writing, maybe something involving castles, check out Gabriele's blog. She has some of the best damn castle photos out there.

Second, Target has started selling Sony Readers.

Target has started selling the Sony e-book Reader in all 1,634 of its stores. This represents Sony’s largest rollout of Readers to date, bringing the number of U.S. retailers carrying the device up to roughly 3,000. Target is selling the device for $299.

And finally, Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years (aka Danica McKellar) appears to be a math whiz. Her recent book is called Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss. And no, I'm not posting the other photos I found of her. You'll need to find those on your own.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lost, Found, and Lost again

I've finished An American Robinson Crusoe by Samuel B. Allison and was left disappointed. Sure, it was a good spin on the original Robinson Crusoe, so good, it was pretty much the same book. Just shorter. And for kids. And that was the good part. But it clearly pointed out much of the similarities between this work and Swiss Family Robinson. Both are great books in the "cast-away" genre, but, well, it's just not the same. Can't put my finger on it, but it's just not the same.

With the end of Crusoe, I started The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. And right now I'm lost. I think I'm just far enough into it to have a lot of questions, but not far enough into it to have any answers.

Which brings us to Lost. The TV show. I'm totally hooked. Granted, I've heard good and bad about the show and I'm only in season 2 (supposedly before it gets bad), but I'm really enjoying it.

The most dangerous bird in the world

Apparently it's the Cassowarie, a native of Australia. How dangerous? It can kill you at worst. At best, it'll just break your leg or slice your skin open. Scary. And kind of mean looking.

For me, all birds are deadly. Well, chicken and turkey at least, I've never been brave enough to taste anything else.

On a side note, don't kill the Cassowarie and eat it, it's endangered.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Only in Shebby

Only in Shebby (aka Shelby, NC - where we used to live) would you see a headline like this: Police: Man bites woman's ear; dog bites man

Sometimes I miss the place. Sometimes I don't.

And Google appears to have partnered with a former employer (Books-A-Million) to include a new widget on their site, aka Google Preview (which doesn't work for me right now).

Oh, and Heroes was on last night. It was good, but I don't have anything major to say at the moment. Give it time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I feel bad

...and it makes me feel good. I skipped the Y this morning as I appear to have been every one's bathroom/snoring/coughing/crying buddy last night. Which means dear old dad got about 3 or 4 hours of sleep. So in an effort to curb The Grouch inside of me, I went back to bed for a bit.

In other news, I installed the lights in my shed yesterday. Four, shiny, fluorescent lights now hang form the ceiling. I also trimmed the grass and pulled some weeds (some - not all). And of course I watched the Steelers loose. Yuck.

Saturday was spent running around town buying groceries and filling prescriptions. I did manage to put in a little workout that afternoon, but nothing major. Although I am very proud of my sub-10 mile (despite how old it makes me feel).

I also finished the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy this weekend and didn't much enjoy it. I think it's the whole Monty Python style of humor that, while I find mildly amusing, I don't find overly funny. Maybe if Mel Brooks would have been a bigger influence I would have liked it more. I also started An American Robinson Crusoe and was surprised. Here I was thinking this would be an American version of the classic. Unfortunately I was right. It seems to be more of a kid's book than anything, so I'm cruising through it pretty fast.

Destroyermen is moving along nicely. Still a bit clunky at times and certainly dense, but it makes for a good challenge as I really want to see what happens.