Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Wonderful Wife has a website

WW is a consultant for Creative Memories, a scrapbooking hobby supply retailer. She loves the books she produces, and enjoys helping others do the same. Check out her site at

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Summertime is Jeep time

I love my Jeep Wrangler.
I loved it since the day i bought it six years ago.
I have loved Jeeps even though one almost killed me in high school. (horrible Jeep-rolling accident. No big whoop.)
I had owned a Jeep Grand Cherokee before, but it just wasn't the same. I have owned an assortment of cars: Dodge Ram 50 pickup, Honda Civic DX, Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, BMW 318i, Dodge Neon. But it wasn't until I bought this car that I realized what I was meant to drive.
I took it with me from the North when I moved to the Deep South. I have taken it on road trips, including ones to the Outer Banks to be able to reach the most northern coastal points where there are no roads but beautiful beaches. I drive it every day to work. I miss it when I swap cars with my wife.
Driving the Jeep up north was great during the winter -- you can get anywhere with four-wheel drive. With it's higher-than-normal ground clearance, I can hop curbs and park anywhere.
Down south it has been even better -- it is a convertable and more. I can take the rear windows out and catch a breeze. I can leave the top up and take the doors off giving it a "golf-cart" kind of feel for cruising around town. It's maneuverable, with a tight turn radius, so I can make my way easily through tough Atlanta traffic.
Best of all, it makes me feel good. I am happy driving that Jeep.
With Summertime here, I need to find a way to minimize the amount of rain that gets inside my Jeep on the days that I am enjoying the Jeep-benefits. The current project is clearing out the garage of the accumulated kiddie-stuff: toys, wagons, strollers (there are four...), cribs, walkers, megasaucers, desks, etc. I need to organize the tools, lawn mowers (there are two of those), wheel barrows, and other lawn maintenance accessories that go mostly under-used. And lastly I need to throw away all the old boxes from gifts, appliances, monitors and other purchases that we have saved "just in case". Once that is all done, there will once again be room in the garage for both cars.
I have the doors off the jeep and the windows out right now. I have the top up to keep the sun off my perpetually thinning dome. I love driving it this way, but I have to pay much closer attention to the weather forcast than I normally would. It is supposed to rain on Thursday and maybe a little more on Friday. After that there will be 10 days of sunshine.
I can't wait.
Remember how I once wrote that I needed to sell the Jeep? I hope that day doesn't come too soon.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Bubba likes food.

Big Boy has shown enough interest recently in people food that we have started him on baby cereal. He was so excited to eat food on a spoon, he quickly graduated from rice cereal (blick!), to baby oatmeal, to a mixture of barley, rice and oat cereal. Those of you with kids know what I am talking about. For the masses who have no idea why I haven't given my kid Rice Krispies yet, you have to understand that this is no ordinary cereal that we are feeding Bubba. This cereal is in a powder/flake form and all you do is add water, formula or milk to it and WHAMMO you have baby cereal: a puree of rice mush. It is worse than it sounds, but our kid loves it.
No one is surprised. Bubba likes food.
After about three weeks on cereal it was time to advance him up to vegetable purees. Oh yeah, you only wish you could eat this good.
Yesterday we opened up a package of sweet potatos for him. Dabbing a little bit of the food onto his lip, we sat back, watched and waited. He went to work on it, probably hoping for some bland cereal. Instead he got the shock of his short life: flavor.
His eyes shot open and he smiled wide. Mikey likes it. After a few small spoonfuls placed into his open mouth, I loaded one up with a good sized bite. So much flavor hit his palate at once, he shook and winced at the surprise. It was almost like the look someone makes when they take a lick of a lemon -- the shocked reflexive reaction when their face screws up from the sour, then a smile of pleasure at the sensations. He squeals for the food until we give him another bite. He eats everything and leaves nothing left over.
No one is surprised. Bubba likes food.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I can't stop watching horror movies.

I don't know why I do this to myself.
I have a Netflix account. It is fantastic. I go online, pick out a bunch of movies I want to watch and then they ration them out to me a few at a time. My Wonderful Wife and I share the account, and we each have our own queue. She picks out all the girlie movies she wants and then I have the responsibility for choosing movies that we both would watch in between the ones that only I would be crazy enough to view.
Once every couple of months I queue up a horror flick. Normally it isn't the old fashioned movies, although I have given myself a history lesson now and again. Usually it is the cutting edge of mainstream horror films; the scariest, the grossest, the most tension-giving films you can't even imagine.
I love the rush, the thrill, the adrenaline of being scared by these movies.
But they scare me so much that it is a torture for me to watch them.
Take tonight's fare: "Hostel", a movie about American back-packers travelling Europe, lured by the promise of easy women to a particular, off-the-map, hostel where tourists are captured and used as torture victims for rich deviants. It's gory, it's scary and it's a complete stress-fest.
This movie is only 94 minutes long, but i have been watching it for over three hours. I take breaks to read up on the latest baseball scores, play a video game, write this blog. I need the breaks or I would cry myself to sleep later. I still might.
Normally, after watching one of these movies, I turn on all the lights on the way back to my bedroom. I turn on the one ahead of me before going back and turning off the ones behind me. I normally check all the doors to be sure that they are all locked. Tonight I forgot. On my way to sleep I try to distract myself from everything I just saw, normally without much luck. I sit awake, scrutinizing every sound in the entire house.
An hour ago, Little Bubba stirred himself awake. As a reflex, I paused the movie, went down the hall, entered his (dark) room and closed the door behind me so I can soothe him without bothering anyone else. As he fell back asleep, I realized how dark it was in the room. I realized how dark it was in the hall. I realized how little I wanted to open the door to leave his room.
Silly, right? If the movies bother me so much, why do I watch them?
I have no idea.
I can't help myself.
My wife just shakes her head at me. There is no way she will watch with me.
I actually only have one friend who will go see horror flicks in the theater with me: Darryl. We saw "The Village", "Saw" and some Dragon movie that wasn't really a horror film. Ok, "The Village" wasn't that scary either. But it was supposed to be. Darryl is the only one crazy enough to see these movies with me.
I still have no idea why I do it.
I am sickened by the gore, I am frightened by the shocks, I am upset by how tense the movies are.
I keep renting them.
I have about 10 minutes left in this movie. Probably not much left that will scare me, but I still needed a break to diffuse this stress I was feeling.
I'll do it again. I have fifty different horror movies in my Netflix queue, all just waiting their turn. I won't get to all of them. I'll see a lot of them.
My mother wouldn't let me watch horror films when I was a kid. I never saw any of the classics: Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Omen, Amityville Horror, Evil Dead, etc. I did see Poltergeist, and it scared the pants of me. There was a birthday sleepover I went to as a kid and (I remember this distinctly) I spent most of the night in the kitchen with the kid's mother while everyone else watched "The Thing" in the living room. I knew that if I watched it, my mom would be very disappointed.
Now I know she doesn't really care. Well, I'm sure as she is reading this she is shaking her head at me just like my Wonderful Wife does, but that's okay. I have seen most of those old classics now -- I have caught myself up on the essentials.
In high school I went to the movies often. I remember seeing two horror movies in particular: "Serpent and the Rainbow" and "Prince of Darkness". Those two were enough that I didn't watch horror movies very often after that.
In college I watched the Hellraiser series. Nightmare central, my dorm room.
So what's the other movie I have? The one that is "wife approved"? "The Producers", starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. We watched the first 20 minutes of it and it was so awful that I couldn't put myself through another two hours of it. The songs were silly, the acting was over-done, and the jokes were barely funny. I normally like Mel Brooks, but I couldn't handle this. My wife checked out ten minutes earlier than I did, reaching for her book.
So I put on "Hostel" instead.
Three hours later I am tired, and I can't wait to go to bed, but I am so nervous that I am not looking forward to it.
I can't stop watching horror movies.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Let the festivities begin!

My sister, Bean, is getting married! After dating her boyfriend, Mike, for about a year, he decided to make her an honest woman. (whatever that means.)
Wedding dates are tentatively scheduled for this fall, and the planning is underway. I can only imagine how excited she is, and I am very happy for her.
She has asked me to sing with my sisters during the ceremony, the same song that they sang for me at my wedding. I have also been requested to sing a **gulp** solo. I may need some help picking out the song... (hint hint).
More to come.

The best part is that I wasn't the last to know. In fact, I may have been one of the first to know. Amazing.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Warm Beer

The grocery store in the town where my parents live has this special section, near the rest of the beer coolers. I couldn't believe it even existed. Ok, I understand that there might be a need for a "non-alcoholic beer" section. In fact, we should definitely segregate that class of beer off and away from my kind of beer just in case I accidentally pick some of that up. No one will ever be able to accuse me of non-alcoholism.
What really caught my eye was the entire section, large enough to sign it, dedicated to Warm Beer. It's an insult to my eye, but I had to share it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Shoe Repair follow-up

Here is the response from the Dr. Marten's support center:

Thanks for the clarification. Dr. Martens warrants against manufacturing defects, but not against wear and tear or comfort/fit issues. Though we cannot offer you a refund for your merchandise, we will replace it if there is a factory defect. Unfortunately we do not have facilities for repairs.

Looks like Matt is getting a new pair of sandals. Thanks Dr. Marten's. You have renewed my faith in your product.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Now I can have my Sunday nights back

"Grey's Anatomy" is finally over for this season and I can have my life and my wife back.
I didn't want to watch another TV show.
I don't mean that. I didn't want to get caught up in another TV show.
Too late.
My wife has watched this show from week one, and as a result I have as well. I try to avoid the trivial episodes, but I can't miss the big ones. Ok, maybe i don't actually try very hard to miss them. Maybe I will fold laundry during the show to feign indifference.
I saw the "Code Black" episode after the Super Bowl. Actually I only watched the Super Bowl just so I could know when "Grey's Anatomy" would start.
I had to watch the three hour season finale too. I needed to know what was going to happen.
It's over.
Only one cliff-hanger for the summer. I'll forget about it in a day or so.
What else can I do with my Sunday nights? I'm sure I'll think of something.
A few months until I have to give my Sunday's back to this show. See you this fall, ABC Network.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

My favorite shoes, giving me a problem.

I have a pair of sandals that I love that I can't wear. They cost more than the average pair of shoes, especially sandals. They broke after I had them for about a year, the buckle snapped and what were a barely worn pair of sandals were now an unwearable waste of money. I would normally just return them or refuse to ever buy from that manufacturer again, but these are Dr. Marten's, and if you know anything about "docs", then you know I love these shoes. So here is my predicament: I don't want to give up on these shoes, but I don't have much recourse. They were a year old when they originally broke, but they are three years old now. Not much left to do, but to appeal to the people in power.
Can you see me flexing my internet muscles? I am. I wrote an email and here's how it goes.

06/18/2004 05:46 AM
Subject: disappointed with quality of Fisherman sandals
Hi! I love the shoes, and own five pairs of Dr. Martens. One of the pairs I own I bought last summer, a pair of the 8092DUN in Bark, recently broke. The buckle for the ankle strap completely snapped off and I can't repair it myself. I am very disappointed, because I can't wear them at all anymore. They were very expensive and I would like to return these for replacement. Who should I talk to?

The Deep South

********************* wrote:
Thanks for the question. We have replacement buckles for style # 8092 that we will send to you. Look for them in about 10 business days. A local shoe repair shop can snap them on for you!

Consumer Relations Dept.
Dr. Martens AirWair USA

05/14/2006 11:01 PM
Subject: disappointed with quality of Fisherman sandals
Me again. I am up to 6 pairs of Dr. Martens shoes now, and I still have the same pair of sandals that I wrote about below. I continue to have the problem with the buckles. Both left and right shoes have repeatedly snapped off the buckles that keep my these sandals on my feet.

It's not from overuse -- I barely get to wear them since they are constantly broken. I repair them, and it isn't too long before a buckle snaps off again.
I think it's either a design flaw or some kind of manufacturing defect. I have another pair of DM sandals that are only one year newer, and those have never broken. The problem now is that they have been repaired so frequently that the hole where the buckle snaps into has worn out faster than the rest of the shoe.
It is unacceptable that I have had to incur the cost of repairing this shoe multiple times for something that is an obvious problem with the shoe. It seems that it is enough of a "known issue" that you have packages of replacement buckles ready to send out when needed.
I was originally satisfied with the replacement buckles because I didn't think that the problem would continue. I am no longer satisfied with that solution.
Thank you for your attention.

We'll see what happens.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Dr. Sheila has moved her web address

Ahh, ok, she is working on her doctorate still, but it's fun to call her that.
Her blog has recently moved, so update your links!

Soda flunks out: bad beverages no longer allowed on campus

When I was in high school, I lived on Mott's apple-grape juice and chocolate chip cookies. I would buy both for less than two dollars total from the "snack lady" in the cafeteria. I never ate much for lunch, and by that, I mean I didn't eat much else than cookies and juice. But it didn't seem to matter; I was tall and on the skinny side of out-of-shape, and I still had the wrestler's metabolism from my freshman year.
There were two drink machines in our school, a public school in Connecticut where the average class size at that time was less than 300. One machine was more of what I liked to drink for lunch, Mott's fruit juices in all sorts of flavors. They were tasty and delicious, and I didn't care that they were healthy. It wouldn't have even occurred to me that they would be actually, since they tasted so sweet it felt indulgent.
The other machine was a Coke machine.
That machine stayed turned off until after last period had begun.
I might have liked the Mott's, but I craved Coca-Cola.
It didn't matter that it was pure sugar dressed up as sweet caramel colored liquid goodness. I just new that it tickled my nose and made me hyper. As if I needed any encouragement.
It didn't matter that there were rumors that the phosphoric acids in it would stunt my growth. (coke lore link) I was already over six feet tall and rising. With my coordination I had no hope of ever getting a basketball scholarship.
Looking back, however, I think I was pretty active. Active enough to balance the soda I would wait patiently for. Eventually, after a few college years of drinking alternative carbonated beverages, the cokes would have a greater effect on me.
Nowadays, Diet Coke is the way to go. One of the first things I eliminated from my diet was "sugar sodas" and I think that was a huge help in losing the first fifteen pounds. After a while I didn't even miss them. Diet Coke tasted almost as good as the real thing.
Anyway, there is a recent development that has soda machines being locked permanently in schools. This is probably a good thing, but I think that just taking the fat kid's soda away won't solve the problem.
Get the kid off the couch and back onto the soccer field, and then you will reduce the obesity problem in kids. But that's just my two cents.
Here is the link to the article: (link to the St. Louis Post Dispatch)Worth a quick read.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Poll reveals Connecticut's favorite baseball team

There seems to be some discussion about which team is more popular in Connecticut, the Red Sox or the Yankees. As if there was any dispute.

My friend Archie, a New England native is often accused of being a Sox fan because of his roots. Not so. Couldn't be further from the truth. link

While I was recently visiting CT I noticed more Sox hats than I remembered in the past. If it wasn't for one measly World Series in 80 or so years, one particular team wouldn't be so obnoxiously popular.

Here is the poll results, as reported by the unbiased Hartford Courant: article

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Back at Wild Wing CafĂ© tonight, and Wings are on the menu. Additionally, I am sampling a new (to me) appetizer called “Buffalo Chips” which is their own, home fried potato chips, sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles, and accompanied by a southwestern-style ranch dip. Yum.
The wings for tonight will be the JoJo’s Red Dragon Wing, which is a hot teriyaki, and the Gold Rush Wing, a spicy honey BBQ. I have been looking forward to this for weeks. Originally, the plan was to meet at a different local restaurant to watch the Yankees-Red Sox game. A well deserved stop off at Wild Wing trumps the opening innings of the game – when you don’t get out much, you have to make sacrifices.
The beer special is the 24-ounce Miller Lite. Ok, it’s cheaper than I like, but we’re on a budget. This place has a huge beer list. It comes in a laminated notebook, filled with the names of unusual bottled beers from all over the world. There is even a decent variety of draft beers to make it easy to find something you would like. But it’s Miller Lite tonight. At $3.50 for a 24-ounce tall-boy bottle, I can’t beat the price.
But no Yankee game tonight; it's rainy in Boston so I'll have to make do with a Braves game.
Someone at the table next to me ordered the hottest wings on the menu, the Braveheart. Just a sample. They brought him two or three wings in a small bowl with the warning, “these are hot.” His first bite seemed to go down easy, until he sniffled. That’s when his eyes started to water. His second bite was drenched in ranch dressing, but by then it was too late; he couldn’t close his mouth anymore. The wings were so hot (much to his pleasure, “these are awesome,” he said), he breathed with his mouth open for the rest of his meal, whistling breaths through his open lips. It was funny to watch him “enjoy” his meal.
By the way, the official diet will resume tomorrow. No one here is skinny, except the waitresses (but not all of them). Fried in oil, then dredged through a butter based sauce, Buffalo-style wings are not for the calorie conscious.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Odd Baseball Statistics

Baseball is an intellectual game. It is a game of finesse as well as a game of skill. It is also a game surrounded by statistics.
Players are ranked and compared based on a number of production statistics: how many home runs they hit, how many batters they strike out. These are the kind of stats that put people in the seats. It's those great numbers that fill baseball stadiums and pique people's interest in the sport.
Baseball statisticians then can crunch all those numbers and make predictions about how certain players will perform in certain situations against certain teams in particular ball parks at specific times of the day. Yep, they get very granualar.
Some statistics are very interesting. For example, Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees is currently having a great season. He leads his team in home runs (9), has a high number of RBIs (27) and has a great batting average (.328). Sounds like he is Mr. Steady, right? Ole Reliable he is not. Actually, if you are an opposing team, you are praying that you play the Yankees at night. While during day games Giambi is hitting a super 8 homers, 21 RBIs and .556 batting average, at night he is only hitting a meager 1 home run, 6 RBIs, and .162 average. Awful. This is the kind of information that makes the game of baseball all about matchups, and strategy based on statistics.
An unusual stat was brought to my attention recently. It is so oddball that I needed to mention it here. The Kansas City Royals team doesn't have much to celebrate in the past twenty years. Their team is, well, miserable. There is one thing of note, one thing that the statisticians found to give the Royals credit for, and it has to do with the right side of their infield. The two players who currently play first and second base for the Kansas City Royals hold the record for the longest names for active first and second basemen on the same team. Their names are Mark Grudzielanek (2B) and Doug Mientkiewicz (1B).
When Skip Carey, radio announcer for the Atlanta Braves, was informed of this particular feat, he noted wryly, "oh, that'll bring 'em out for the games."
Everyone has to have something to brag about.