Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

Gift Idea Generator

Not sure what to get your honey for the holidays? No problem! Check out the Gift Idea Generator and then hit the mall prepared!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The mad face

Big Sis has the cutest mad face. Sometimes she hams it up a bit when I have the camera out. I used one of her recent mad faces on the Scrooge Yourself site. Here is the result. Enjoy!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Foreign Support

How frustrating.

4:50:18 PM System
You are now being connected to an agent. Thank you for using Dell Chat

4:50:18 PM System
Connected with Deepa Balakrishnan

4:50:23 PM Deepa Balakrishnan
Thank you for contacting Dell Customer Service Chat. My name is Deepa. How may I help you?

4:50:28 PM matt

4:50:42 PM matt
i just placed an order for a ********

4:51:00 PM matt
and it tells me that it will not ship until February!

4:51:06 PM matt
is that a normal delay?

4:51:20 PM matt
over two months seems extreme.

4:51:23 PM Deepa Balakrishnan
I have not received a response in over a minute. please respond within the next two minutes to allow me to continue our chat.

4:51:31 PM matt

4:51:35 PM matt

4:51:40 PM matt
are you a bot?

4:53:21 PM matt
you posted your first message at 4:50:23 and i posted my first message at 4:50:28... looks like five seconds to me.
4:53:23 PM Deepa Balakrishnan
As there is no response within the last two minutes. I will be ending this chat session. If you need additional support, please contact us at We will be more than happy to assist you.

4:53:23 PM System
Deepa Balakrishnan has left this session!

4:53:24 PM System
The session has ended!

Ugh. It's a shame, but I waited 15 minutes in a queue for this help.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oh, Jesus!

The Family celebrated Thanksgiving Day at Mo and Bill's house this year. It was a great day, and the kids had a lot of fun playing with all the cousins. Mo is an Episcopal priest, and her prayers before our meals are always a treat. There was so much food, and we all stuffed ourselves. Even the kids ate well for a change.
By the end of the night, it was pajama time. My Wonderful Wife carried one kid and I carried the other up to Paddy's room to change them for bedtime. Little Bubba was exhausted, so getting him into his PJs was fairly easy. Big Sis, on the other hand, was still riled up from all the holiday excitement. We finally got her head through her pajama top, but she struggled to push her hand through. "Oh, Jesus!" she stated plainly.
Well, in my head, there was nothing plain about it. I couldn't believe my ears. Where the heck did she hear that before? I can't imagine where she could have picked that up. And she was actually using it in context, too. I was shocked.
And then she pushed her hand through... and in her hand was Paddy's little Jesus action figure. It was like a little Buddy Christ. You couldn't imagine my relief.

I'm the Director

I just got a pretty decent promotion at work -- I'm now the Director of Quality Assurance. It means I am basically a manager who manages other managers and their projects. Since becoming Director, I walk around the office shouting "CUT!" and "ACTION!", and at the end of the day I state, "That's a wrap!"
My Wonderful Wife is tiring of my "bossy" attitude.
Anyway, I try not to talk much about work on this site, so if you are interested in hearing more drop me a line!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Another Pitcher passes

What's going on here?? Oakland starting pitcher Joe Kennedy collapsed and died late Thursday night at the age of 28. It's odd hearing about this after Cory Lidle died last year. I just find it shocking when young people pass, especially when it is seemingly for no "good reason".
Anyway, Joe Kennedy played for five teams over his short career, with a Win-Loss record of 43-61, an ERA of 4.79 and 558 strikeouts. I think he was always just short of great, and never played for contending teams that could have backed him up better, or provided better run support. We'll never know how great he could have been.

Back from Connecticut and the longest three hour trip ever.

We had another fun trip to CT this past week, visiting family and spending the Thanksgiving holiday with the cousins. We packed Bill and Mo's place for the big event and I think the kids had a great time seeing everybody again.
In order to cut some travel costs, and to work around the usual horrible T-Day traffic, we decided to fly back to the Deep South early on Friday morning. The plan was sound, and it proved to be a good one: with kids in their sleepers and GrandDad driving, we made it to the airport in record time. The Westchester County Airport was barely buzzing with activity -- I think everyone else was at the Kohls or Best Buy. With lots of extra staff around obviously bracing for the holiday crowds, but without any lines at check-in or security, we were quickly loaded up onto the plane, ready for our 7 AM departures.
And that's when it all went, um..., south.
After an announced "short delay" to have the maintenance crew examine something that failed the pre-flight check, we were actually deplaned and sent to baggage claim to grab all of our luggage. Our flight had been cancelled. It's 8:30 AM now, and instead of being home before lunch, we were stuck in a small town in New York. While the Wonderful Wife worked over the Delta staff at the check-in counter, I exercised the kids by running them through the stanchion maze at security.
Eventually, it was determined that the best way for us to get home would be to wait in the airport for the 3 PM flight. Ugh. Somehow we'll have to occupy ourselves for six hours in this tiny airport.
Breakfast in the airport diner, naps on airport furniture and delivery pepperoni pie from a local pizza joint and we made it through the day. And Big Sis documented it all herself with our camera.

I like her perspective.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

She's a fan, what can i say.

My daughter thinks Laurie Berkner is the biggest star in the whole world, and I'm starting to believe it to. She loves to sing along, and sometimes acts like she is the one in the videos.

Dang, that kid is cute. It's even funnier that the proper name for the state is actually "Al Abama".

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I am assimilating into the Deep South

You might have read about I was considering a change of vehicle. Well, the decision was easy since I have been living in the South for son long. I haven't actually read the particular law, but I have been told that all Southerners need to own a pickup truck.
So, I didn't get the GMC Canyon after all.
But I got the next best thing. I ended up getting the Chevrolet Colorado which has the exact same body style. The bonus was that i got to buy a 2006 leftover at a significant discount. Sweet!

Anyway, a year later, and I love this car. My first car was a Dodge Ram 50, a tiny version of a pickup truck. I loved it then. I love it now. I think I was born to live in the South.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Seriously, Nobody Tells Me Anything.

My cousin, Dan, is getting married soon, and we are all very happy about it. I have been close to Dan for years, and he is one of the people I missed most when I first moved to the Deep South. After I moved, he met a very nice girl that I am sorry that I did not get to spend much time with, but reports from my family tell me that "she's a keeper."
Our whole family is excited about getting together for the occasion. The last time we got together was for my sister Bean's wedding. That was a hoot. This time however, none of us are the ones getting married. We get to sit back and enjoy it and spend the entire time together as a big family.
Or so I thought.
Turns out that I will be singing at this event.
Not that I mind. I am actually flattered to be asked. I will be singing in the family quartet again, performing "An Irish Blessing" during the ceremony. I sung the same song with Katie and Annie at Bean's wedding, and this time she'll be joining us. It will be great.
Nope, I don't mind that at all. I'm really looking forward to it. In fact, I think it will make the event even more special.
The thing of it is, I didn't find out that i am singing until last night. My mom told me during our Father's Day phone call. Turns out she has known for quite a while. Turns out my Wonderful Wife has also known for a little while. Nobody tells me anything.
It's really not a big deal. I'm just complaining for the sake of the story. It just supports the cause of the blog, I guess. My WW was saving the news for a time closer to the event so I didn't spend the upcoming weeks fretting over how my voice sounds, what the parts were, whether or not I remember the words. And she's right -- I would. I'd hem and haw over it for days.
Bah. The bottom line is that it would be the same either way, whether or not I knew about it. I have been singing regularly for months and I pretty much know the song. I could learn about anything in a weekend, and I have way more than that to practice this one.
Funny how well my wife knows me.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I have Zombies for children

I think that in the best way possible, kids can be your favorite wind-up toy. All you have to do is just turn the little key in their back, wind 'em up, let 'em go and then just sit back and enjoy the entertainment. I think that this principle works both ways; you can program your kids to be awful little buggers, too, under certain influences. I choose to use my powers for good.
You might have read once or twice about my love for horror movies. I've seen a few in my time. There are a bunch of zombie movies that i find particularly entertaining, mostly because they are actually kinda funny, the Return of the Living Dead series. I don't watch them often, but like most of the horror movies I watch, they stick with me. These movies are filled with slow-moving undead in search for human grey matter. Yep, that's right, brains. It's not just that they are looking for brains, it's that they actually chant the words, "brains! brains!" while they are stalking after their victims.
Now imagine for a moment my two sweet kids, both under the age of three and less than three feet tall. Imagine us out in public somewhere, in a mall, at church, in a restaurant. Picture me telling my daughter quietly, "Go eat your brother's brains." Can you imagine what happens next?
After I wind her up, Big Sis will raise her arms up over her head and run after Little Bubba yelling, "Brains! Brains! I'm going to eat your brains!" My boy will run away from her, giggles pealing out of him in this nervous, high-pitched way. When she catches up to him she will actually grab him by his shoulders, put her face against the back of his head and make a "num num num" sound while she pretends to,, ...well, eat his brains.
Now the best part. It's as if fandom for horror flicks is genetic!
My boy will now turn around and chase Big Sis around yelling "Brains!" until he catches her. It's as if he actually knows that once a zombie eats your brains, you become a zombie too! He's so smart. I'm so proud.
The payoff is looking around the room to see who is watching this all unfold. Some people have actually no idea. Maybe they are just trying not to notice. Others will stare wide-eyed, with half of a smile until they see me smiling. Those are the ones who really enjoy it.
The best part is that the kids are completely enjoying themselves. They are not putting on a show for me at all -- they are just playing with each other in one of the many ways they know how.

Friday, June 15, 2007

We are underway!

The Cobb Community Summer Singers has begun its 2007 season, practicing on Monday nights, building up for a concert in August. It's very exciting. The first rehearsal last week drew almost 50 voices, and we sound great already. The Director, Lynn Fowler, tells us that everyone who was expected couldn't make it, so we'll be even bigger next week. I can't wait!
Our program contains the following songs as of the first rehearsal:
Hallelujah Chorus from Mt. of Olives, Beethoven
Sanctus from Requiem, Faure
How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place, Brahms
Let All the World in Every Corner Sing, R. V. Williams
Hark! I Hear the Harps Eternal, arr. Parker
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Wilberg
How Can I Keep From Singing, Walker
When I Can Read My Title Clear, arr. Parker
Elijah Rock, Hogan
Give Me Jesus, Fleming
John the Revelator, Caldwell / Ivory

Many of these I have sung before, so that is great nostalgia. All of the songs are challenging, and that makes the whole thing worth while -- I get enough "easy songs" at my regular weekly church choir.
The bass section is made up of mostly deep basses, and only one baritone other than myself. There are only about 5-6 tenors, so we are a little light in that section. Otherwise, they sound great. This chorus has something I haven't seen in almost 15 years -- female tenors. I haven't sung with girl tenors since college. They add a different sound to the tenor group -- I don't love it in a small ensemble, but it's great for a whole chorus.

Free Monday nights and live in the greater Marietta area? Come on down!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Cobb Community Summer Singers

Last year, my former choir director invited me to participate in launching a local community chorus. Flattered, and very interested, I jumped at the chance to work on the project.
We launched the Cobb Community Summer Singers in 2006, held rehearsals on Monday nights from June until August and then held a concert which was very well received. The program consisted of some classical sacred music as well as several spirituals. The recording sounds great, and I am really proud to say that I was a "founding member" of this chorus.
This year, Year Two, we are hitting the ground running. We are trying to improve on our numbers, recruiting more than the 40 we had last year. One of the ways we decided to get the word out was to use a website. Who would create such a website, you might ask. Me, of course.
This is my first ever web creation. I had to start it from the ground up, purchasing the domain name, finding a hosting service and then creating and publishing the actual code for the site. It was a challenge for a novice like myself, but I think it turned out all right. Let me know what you think! I am happy to hear any suggestions you might have.
My next task for the site development is to add some photos that I will take during rehearsals. I'd like to also add two pages: one to list out sponsors and donors, where others can choose to make a donation via paypal, and another to launch an application for membership and scholarship (tuition assistance). I think that I can do it, but it will take me some time to work out the particulars.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Don't Go. Don't Go. Don't Go.

I am going back to the gym again, I have been going for the past two weeks. Six pounds in six visits. Not bad, I think.
That's the good part about hitting the gym again. The bad part is that I don't get to spend my mornings with my kids anymore. I used to wake up with them every morning and we would play and have breakfast together before I headed off to work. In order for me to make it to the gym before going to work, I leave a full hour before they even wake up.
The past couple of mornings, Bib Sis comes into our bedroom after she wakes and asks her Mommy where Daddy is. "At work," Mommy tells her. This morning, Big Sis enters the bedroom and before she even asks, she looks at the empty place on my side of the bed and says in a disappointed tone, "Again?"
Ugh. I keep telling myself that it's a good thing for me to keep going. Stories like that really bum me out.

Speaking of things she misses, I traded away my Jeep for a pick-up truck. That's a story for another day, and one worth telling. Big Sis, on the way to dinner tonight asked me where the Jeep was. I told her that we had traded it in for the pickup truck.
"Your pickup truck?" she asked.
"Yep, my pickup truck." I answered.
"I don't like it. I want the Jeep back."
So do I, kid. So do I.

Big Sis is doing great with her potty training. The best part is when she lets my Wonderful Wife know that she has to go, it is all-of-a-sudden the biggest production for her to get to the bathroom.
You know how Road Runner would run in place for a few seconds before he would actually takc off? She's kinda like that. It looks like she would be running sprints in the Olympics, but there isn't much forward motion for all that movement.
The whole way to the potty, she whispers to herself, "Don't go. Don't go. Don't go."
She is a hoot.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My wonderful daughter

Let me fill you in on the past few days around here.
My daughter is wonderful. I love her like crazy, and I'm so glad she's here.

You could stop right there, read no further, and get the message. Want more? Keep right on reading.

Potty Time
Not long after Big Sis turned two we started to encourage her to use the potty. We bought an assortment of "pull-ups", the diapers that work like training pants, and used them whenever we could get her to sit on the potty. We would sit together in the bathroom, waiting for the magical moment when she would produce a few tiny drops and then celebrate with Mini M&Ms and her pull-up diapers.
After a week or so of trying, she started to get bored of the potty. When we asked her if she wanted to sit on the potty, she would tell us, "No," shaking her head in an indifferent sort of way. "I want to use my diaper."
She even got a gift of big-girl underpants from her Grandma with the Disney Princesses. They were a big hit, but didn't change her mind about the potty. My Wonderful Wife and I were a bit discouraged, but we decided we just wouldn't push her. If she didn't want to do it, if she wasn't ready, we couldn't force her. My WW told her, "you can use your diaper until you turn three years old," giving her more than six months, plenty of time to warm up to the idea. "When you are ready to use the potty, you just let us know."
Big Sis seemed relaxed about that, grateful that there was no more potty-pressure. And we all went happily along, using diapers that way for another few months. It wasn't a big deal -- Bubba is still in diapers too, so we have plenty around.
Three days ago, while I was changing her diaper, Big Sis looks up at me and says, "I want to use the potty, Daddy." Stunned, I said, "That's great! ...are you sure?"
"Yes," she said, "It's time."
Um... how old is this kid? "It's Time"?? I couldn't believe it. I wisked her off the changing table and plopped her down on her potty.
And she went.
There was much celebration. Her reward? A pair of her princess underpants. The Snow White ones, to be exact.
Since then, she's had only one accident (that I know of) and she has been using her "big girl underpants" throughout the day. Diapers still at night, of course. Tomorrow is the big test; she returns to pre-school and will spend three hours away from home armed only with some thick training pants.
I am positive that she will do just fine. I am very proud of her.

Mr. Brown Can Moo
For those of you familiar with Dr. Seuss, you might recognize the title of this particular book, Mr. Brown Can Moo. Bubba got this and another Seuss board book as a Christmas gift, but Big Sis has taken them from him for her own personal use. She particularly likes hearing me say all the sounds that Mr. Brown can do, but none more than one special one: the rain. Mr. Brown can sound like the rain, the book tells us. "Dibble Dibble Dopp. Dibble Dibble Dibble Dibble Dopp Dopp Dopp".
I didn't even notice that she took an interest in this one until a week ago when she was singing a song back to me that I was teaching her (I can't remember what song it was -- either "the Song That Never Ends" or "Dr. Worm" by They Might Be Giants). Whenever she couldn't remember the words she would ad-lib with a few dibbles and a few dopps.
My daughter talks to herself a lot. My daughter is kinda funny like that. It's not anything weird, or anything that i worry about. She will narrate her way through the day and not think twice about it. Occasionally she will involve you in her self-carried discussion, but only when she thinks it's a good idea. A day or two after learning how Mr. Brown can sound like the rain, she was using Dibble-Dibble in between sentences.
This wouldn't be a big deal unless you know my sisters. And the big deal isn't actually my sisters, but rather what they remember about me when I was a kid. When I was young, I used (over used) a certain nonsense word often to express all kinds of things, including anger and frustration, satisfaction and happiness. That simple word was "dibby". I even created different forms of that word like it was a Latin noun with different declensions. Oh, I can't even believe I am writing this, or confessing it, but hearing my daughter using "dibble" in between sentences brought back quite a few memories of my own nonsense word.
And it now reminds me of how my three sisters love to bring it up to me whenever we get together. They love to kid me.
With that in mind, I decided to teach my kid something different (but equally funny) to say while wandering around the house...

Gooped up on Gop
You know how you get certain phrases stuck in your head after watching a really funny movie? Movies like "The Mask" are extremely quotable, and these memes have become part of our vernacular. How many times have you heard someone say "Somebody stop me!" in that Jim Carrey tone of voice? Too many times, I'm sure.
The same kind of phrase stuck with me after watching "Austin Powers in Goldmember" a few years ago. The character, Goldmember, while entertaining Austin Powers in his office, offers him a "Smoke and a Pancake". The thing about it is that it sounded more like "Schmoke and a Pankeg", which, to me, is pretty funny. I can't explain it any better, it's just funny to me.
That phrase popped into my head on New Years Eve and as a result I had half of the people at our houseparty that night saying it. "Schmoke and a Pankeg." Cracks me up.
It's even funnier to hear Big Sis say it. Oh man, she is a hoot. She's just trying to please when she repeats it back to me, but man, she is funny.
I started her on another one tonight -- "Gooped up on Gop". I heard it on the radio, referring to how Paula Abdul sounded during several recent interviews. Paula sounded like she was Gooped up on Gop, drowning in the sauce. Of course the publicist blamed it on faulty equipment, and a technical glitch, but let me tell ya: I heard her, and she's gooped up on gop.
Big Sis has a little more trouble saying that one, but we're working on it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Co-workers, Friends and Readers

I recently had a co-worker mention that they read my blog and they like it.
That's cool.
It's also a little interesting... I didn't expect that this website would remain a secret or anything. A few of my friends know about it, and when anyone asks about it I don't avoid the topic. But there is something a little unsettling about having a co-worker read some of these things.
I have a tracker on this site which tells me data about each visitor to the page. I can find out all sorts of things about you -- where you live, what kind of computer you have, and even some of your web browsing habits. But it doesn't tell me who you are.
I put myself out there on the page and don't expect anyone to sign in or sign up. I don't have a guest book for people to record their visits. I offer a place for comments, but it's certainly not required. The point is, I don't really know much about my reader, but they know about me.
It's true, I don't write much, if anything, about work. I almost avoid the subject entirely; it's just not the point of this blog. And that is a good practice, since I'd like to continue working at that place.
Basically, the reader's benign complement ended up as a reminder that people do read what I write, and that I should be careful about the kinds of things that I post. And that's the reality of the world around me.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why I watch these movies, and Why I don't go spelunking

The long awaited film, "The Descent," finally arrived from Netflix today. The same night where the mother-in-law offers to take the kids for the evening to give me the the Wonderful Wife a night to ourselves.
After a dinner of wings at an establishment called Buffalo Wild Wing, a place which pales in comparison to my favorite wing joint, Wild Wing Cafe, we decided to head back home to watch an episode or two of "24: Day 5". When we got there we realized that my other Netflix pick showed up as well, the horror flick. I figured that I would have to watch it solo, in the dark quiet of the late night in my office above the garage after WW had gone to bed.
On my way to my comfy chair, I jokingly suggested that we could watch "The Descent" instead of boring old "24", and she said, "Sure."
Did she just...
"It's been over three years since I watched anything scary," she adds. Upon becoming pregnant with Kid A, she quickly grew a distaste for anything violent or tense on TV, and absolutely refused to watch any kind of thriller or horror movie. Over 36 months later, she has decided that tonight was the night to jump back into the ring.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"Yeah, sure, it sounds good."
And it was.
This was one of those horror movies which makes you feel uncomfortable from the moment it starts. You don't know exactly why, but things just aren't right. Ok, someone dies right in the beginning of the movie, but from a car accident and not by any supernatural means. Ok, it was particularly shocking, and even a bit gruesome, but it wasn't the scary part of the movie. It served it's purpose for the story, and helped to set a disquieting mood for the rest of the film.
The protagonists of this particular story are a group of six girls who decide that instead of enjoying a weekend of basejumping, mountain climbing, white water rafting or any other of nature's thrills, the best way for them to spend their free time was exploring some underground caves. Boy, were they wrong.
They should have asked me what to do. I never would have sent them into that cave. Why? Because of the monsters, of course.
There was a good hour spent in this movie heightening the tension by following the girls through narrow, dark cave tunnels, each leading to another series of tunnels further underground, even darker than before. They are forced to push on after a (well named) cave-in blocks their known exit. It was just after one of the girls falls and breaks her leg that you see the first of the monsters. Not so creepy at first. Hard to see in the dark. But you know it's there. And the girls can't escape.
And I can't move from my chair.
And I am so uncomfortable.
And my poor wife is enduring this along with me because she loves me.
And she can't move either.
Normally I watch these movies alone and I can pause to take breaks whenever I feel too much pressure. I avert my eyes or press pause and breathe deep before continuing with the movie.
Not tonight. Not with my wife with me. Not if I am going to make it though this thing. We press on, taking only one bathroom break during the first hour.
And that's when all heck breaks loose. Thirty minutes follow of terror, on screen and off.
No, I didn't scream like a girl and embarrass myself. I may have jumped a few times and clutched at my heart for fear that it had stopped, but I didn't yelp or cry out once.
By the time it was over my entire upper body was numb from holding my muscles tense for the last 30 minutes. Yikes that was gross. Ugh, that was scary.
At the end of the movie, my WW jumps up from the sofa, grabs the "24: Day 5" DVD and replaces "The Descent" in the player.
"I don't understand why you watch these movies," she says. Same reason I don't go spelunking. It's all because of the monsters. And now I've seen the proof.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Big Sis at Christmas

Down here in the Deep South we do things a little differently than I had up North. On Christmas morning, the kids are awed by all the gifts from both Santa and Family, but all the Santa gifts are left unwrapped. It is as if Santa pulled them directly from his sack upon arriving from the chimney flue, and just couldn't find where we kept the tape or scissors.
Not that I mind, it's less for "Santa's Helpers" to wrap during the weeks leading up to the big day. If I can avoid the nights of measuring, cutting, and taping, well that's okay by me. It just feels funny, strategically placing and arranging all the Santa-gifts late on Christmas Eve. Organizing them in a particular way to highlight certain things and to make sure that everything from Santa can be seen all at once.
What makes this such an event is that Santa always brings one "big gift". It might be a lot to live up to in Christmases to come, but these have been good years. This year's big gift for our daughter was a Disney Princess Castle doll house. This thing is as tall as bubba and three times as wide. It has a piano which plays music, working lights, and an oven which makes a strange gurgling noise that only a Disney Princess could explain. It's really extravagant. Along with that our little princess found a Snow White and a Belle doll in each of the bedrooms in the upstairs of the doll house. These are really nice, Barbie-like dolls which she really seems to like.
She calls it Cinderella's Castle. That only makes sense since Cinderella is her favorite of all the Disney Princesses. There are quite a few to choose from: Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine, and even Mulan. I might have even missed one. But Cinderella is her favorite. She has been reading the story for years and watching the movie for months. She knows all the character names and probably could tell you the entire story if you left her alone with the book.
Shortly after Christmas, during the week before New Year's Day, I over heard someone ask Big Sis what she got from Santa. She thought about it for a minute, like she does most things, and answers, "a Cinderella Castle!". She pauses for a second and then adds, "but no Cinderella!"
No Cinderella.
Here, she gets all this neato cool stuff and she is focused on what she didn't get. Does it really start this early? I couldn't believe it! Hello?? Snow White?? Belle?? Are they second class doll citizens??
I decided it wasn't worth getting too worked up over and it wasn't until later when i mentioned the incident to my Wonderful Wife. "She has a Cinderella already," she tells me. "In fact, she has a Cinderella, a Prince Charming and an entire horse and carriage to go with it." You're kidding. She is so focused on what she got that day, she has totally forgotten what she already had!
We should have just put the same Cinderella inside the castle on Christmas Eve. Maybe next year we do it a little different. Maybe next year we just give her something she already has. I'm not sure if she will notice.
The good news is that she loves it. We set it up in her bedroom; it's previously been a "sleep only" room where we kept her clothes, her bed and her books. There were a very few things in there that she could play with, mostly because we wanted to emphasize that this room is for sleeping. The castle is now the only real toy in there. Sometimes we find her in there humming and talking to herself playing with the dolls and arranging them in the house. She is so wonderful to have around. Looks like this present worked out after all.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

My Wonderful Wife reminds me...

I just told my WW about some of the things i have written about and she looks at me with this blank look and says, "when are you going to write about something pertinent?"
"What do you mean? What would be more pertinent?" I asked.
"You started this whole thing so that you could stay in touch with your family, remember?"

Ah, yes. I remember. I am just warming up. I've been out of practice for some time. This is just clearing the slate, clearing the mind. I need to get this all out of the way so that I can get to the rest of it.

Here's a little taste of the family news:
Bubba is almost walking. He is saying a few words now along with a few signs, so we are really communicating well. Two more teeth have poked through for a total of eight.
Big Sis is in school two mornings a week (although she is on break right now). She is the best singer in her class, and really shined during her holiday performance.

More to come, when I can really tell the tales.

The Flood continues...

Okay, where did I leave off last night?
Ah, yes. Here.

Words, Words, Words
I love Etymology. I ended up as an English major in college, and probably should have minored in the Classics since I spent a great deal of time learning Latin and reading the works of many Greek philosophers and playwrights. As a result, I have a keen eye and ear for words. I pay attention to how people use them, I notice when they are used out of context or incorrectly. I sometimes agonize over the right word to use while writing, because I know the right word is out there, I just can't think of it.
Etymology is almost like history -- the history of words; where did they come from, who used them first, what did they really mean, and how did they come to mean what they do today. There is an interesting website that i have stopped at once in a while called where you can look up all sorts of words and learn about where they came from and why we use them today. Check it out sometime.
My friend SB recently posted on her blog about the history of a particular Christmas song, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". In the same way i love words, I found this fascinating. It's hard to imagine that this song was actually intended to be sung as a sad goodbye, from one sister to another in the musical Meet Me in St. Louis. You can read more about this song's bitter origins at its Wikipedia article.

Speaking of Bitter...
I was a bartender for a few years before I moved to the Deep South, and during that time I learned quite a few things about mixing ingredients to make delicious beverages. I rarely ever drank the drinks I made, but I have been told that I was very good at the craft.
Tonight I found my bottle of Angostura Bitters and felt a rush of memories about family parties, watching my father create what seemed to be a witch's brew for my Grandmother. He would make her something called a Manhattan, and, if he had the right ingredients, he would even mix an occasional Old Fashioned. I was a little kid back then, and my Dad much older. My Grandmother, even older (imagine that). But these drink names seemed ancient. It was like my Dad was mixing up some part of the old world, and the secret ingredient was "bitters". "Only two dashes, son," he'd tell me. "Don't overdo it." By the smell of them, two were plenty.
And there they were. The bitters. In my refrigerator. I read the entire label. I learned some of the history of the bitters (created by J.G.B. Siegert), I learned that there is alcohol in the bitters (a whopping 45%), and I learned an interesting recipe for a non-alcoholic drink called the Southampton: juice of half a lime, two or three dashes bitters, tonic. I happened to have tonic in the garage and a lime in the fridge. I made the drink immediately.
Even better than Pirates of the Caribbean, and just as sour.

The Wonderful World of Wiki
I linked a reference to the Christmas song above to an article posted on Wikipedia, the open-source, community driven, free encyclopedia. This is a great tool. It's also great for an interesting read during the lunch break at work. Want to know something about Quantum Physics on a lark? No problem. Have a need to peruse a Glossary of Ballet terms? Piece of cake. Just head to and search for it. What you get is an easy to read, easy to navigate page about everything I could possibly want to know about the subject.
The best part is that if you think you know something about the subject, and the page lacks the detail that you have to offer, you can submit edits to any page and teach the encyclopedia what you know. Brilliant. Unfortunately, I haven't found anything that I know enough about that I could help write. But I still like the site.

...and I'm still not done. But I need a break. More to come.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Too much going on in my head

I have been too busy to sit and write for a while, as I expected I might be. I have been too busy to even write down some of the ideas I have had to write about lately, forget about sketching them out in outline form. So, due to the overwhelming stress these unwritten ideas are causing me, here comes the Brain Dump!

Man takes Gore Verbinski out to the woodshed, film at eleven.
I just watched the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie last night and I want my one hundred and fifty minutes back. Director Gore Verbinski has taken an interesting movie about a lovable scoundrel, Captain Jack, and turned it into an epic trilogy filled with distracting special effects and a boring story with a meandering plot line. Sure, the whole Davey Jones' Locker extrapolation was interesting, but each time Davey Jones appeared on screen I was mesmerized by the tentacles hanging from his face. How many of those thing were there? I tried to count each time, but they kept moving and i couldn't keep up with them. What? A story line? Did I miss something? Two and one half hours after this snooze began, we wind up with the most major faux pas any movie can make: a CLIFFHANGER ENDING. Only TV shows are allowed to write cliffhanger endings into their stories, keeping us engaged until the next week's episode. That's just the way it is. Movies aren't supposed to do this. ESPECIALLY when the follow-up won't be released for an entire year after the last.
The Matrix did something like this, but each movie really was a capsule of the story, and can stand alone (with some minor explanation) without the other films. The Star Wars Trilogies may have left us wanting more at the end of each movie, but they did nothing like what this film did, cutting us off at the knees, waiting for some resolution. Gore might have been better off if he had yelled "CUT" in the middle of the last sentence and wrapped it right then. The viewer left with the same unfinished, unsettled feeling. The ONLY movie to have ever done the cliffhanger right was the Back To The Future series, but the simple reason for their success was releasing the third episode only ONE MONTH after the second. We really don't have to wait very long for the exciting conclusion.
Bah. I expected more, and was left wanting still by the movie's end. Leave this one on the shelf.

Oprah spends her money the way she feels like it, insults millions.
Ok, so Oprah spends $40 million on a school in South Africa to enable 150 girls to get a better education. Maybe I'm a bit naive, but that's quite a tuition! Ok, sure, there is a beauty salon and a yoga center on the campus, but so what? These elite students are here to learn right? I wonder what else is available for these lucky 150? I have heard that the student class size will grow to be almost 450 some day. That's just so inclusive, isn't it? Maybe i really don't understand what it costs to educate the nations youth, but I feel like that is a steep bill to pay to do so much for so few.
Really, it wouldn't bug me much except for what she has done to mischaracterize the youth in America's "inner city schools". The way she has labeled the inner city youth as "not wanting to learn" and materialistic, is ironic. Oprah, you should be ashamed of yourself for using such a broad stroke brush to paint these kids in such a way. You have just alienated all of the hardworking, good students struggling to succeed in the environment you see as so awful.
In a speech she made regarding the opening of the school, she says "her whole life had led her to this moment." Wow. What's next? I'm sure she is spending some money in her home state of Mississippi, but I never hear of it because none of it generates so much publicity. The problem with her current Cause is that it emphasizes her own materialism, underscores the flagrant materialism on her TV show, and could ultimately promote the same sense of materialism in these special 150 students she has chosen to attend her special school for girls.
Oprah says that all these girls really want are uniforms so that they can go to school. Hopefully they won't wake up and start demanding Ipods with their plaid skirts.'s late. More to come soon.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Word on the Street

I have been told that people have been having issues posting messages on the blog. I'll look into it and see if I can figure it out. Try to post again soon and let me know if it still isn't working.