Monday, March 29, 2004

This evening I pushed Julia in her hand-me-down umbrella stroller as we followed Allie around the neighborhood. Deb stayed at home and cooked a wonderful dinner for Allie and me. Julia would have to settle for strained sweet potatoes and pureed bananas.

Allie rode her bike. She tells me she has to get mad before she finds the strength to get the pedals going. Once she's in motion, though, Allie can fly down the sidewalk on her little bike. I was nervous watching her. I could feel my eyes darting back and forth, up and down scanning for any sign of danger. I'd see a car and yell at Allie to pedal backwards (for some reason Allie's not ready to accept the hit the brakes command while she's in the midst of her best Lance Armstrong impression).

We'd come to a corner and I'd repeatedly yell at her to make the turn. "Make the turn, Allie. There's a turn here, don't forget to turn. Slow down and turn," I'd tell her.

"I know. I can turn."

At every corner I was convinced she'd keep pedaling right into traffic and wind up directly beneath a 2002 silver Camry with Michelin tires on its alloy wheels (yes, the visualization was that vivid).

"Allie pedal backwards. Slow down. You need to turn."

"I can turn. I'm gonna turn."




She'd turn perfectly each time.

Then I'd breathe.

It wasn't all tension and repeated pleas for proper steering. It was fresh air, nice level sidewalks and time to spend witnessing how and where my kids are growing up. And they're growing up fast. Faster than Allie can pedal away from me even when she finds that mad strength and sails down the sidewalk.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Richard says:
Mr. President. . . I will always remember the courage, determination, calm and leadership you demonstrated on September 11th.

Richard says:
President Bush, reading the intelligence every day and noticing that there was a lot about al Qaeda, asked Condi Rice why it was that we couldn't stop "swatting flies" and eliminate al Qaeda. Rice told me about the conversation and asked how the plan to get al Qaeda was coming in the Deputies' Committee. "It can be presented to the Principals in two days, whenever we can get a meeting," I pressed. Rice promised to get to it soon. Time passed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Bob Edwards' ouster as anchor of Morning Edition provides more evidence that regardless of how consistently good you are you will eventually be cast aside.

This is true of every role you will play throughout your life.

I'm trying to be factual, not fatalistic. I swear.

So the question is, why work so hard to be consistently good? All that effort and the payoff is a perfunctory nod and a call if your replacement needs to know where you hid the good three hole paper punch.

Our parents will tell us any job worth doing is worth doing to the best of your ability. That Midwestern work ethic is the cause of many ambulance rides from office buildings all over these parts. I'm not saying that we don't have the capacity to shirk responsibility or do a half-assed job (you should see my basement) but we always feel guilty about it. You can't shake it. It's somehow hard wired into our brains.

Bob is from Kentucky so his Southern version of this work ethic got him out of bed in the wee hours, dragged his butt to a studio to do his level best to deliver information to us better than just about any other source available. He did this for 25 years and then NPR's programming and news management decided that was enough. Laura Gross said NPR made the change as "part of a natural evolution," she said. "A new host will bring new ideas and perspectives to the show. Bob's voice will still be heard; he'll still be a tremendous influence on the show. We just felt it was time for a change."

That doesn't make me feel any better. But if I was Jay Kernis, NPR's Vice President of Programming, would I have dumped Bob? Well, more than likely, yes. After all, it's part of a natural evolution and if I didn't shake things up then someone would have naturally evolved me out of a job instead of Bob. Would I have let Bob stick around for the 25th anniversary of Morning Edition? Well, more than likely, no. Introducing Bob's replacement right after you celebrate Bob's achievements would make for a really awkward transition.

Just because I understand it, doesn't mean I like it. I'll miss Bob Edwards. Just like I miss Johnny Carson and Mr. Rogers (er, not like Mr. Rogers because he's dead and that brings up an entirely different set of sentiments).

On April 30 my clock/radio will go off and I'll hear Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne instead of Bob and I'll think I'm getting old and I'll be replaced soon too. And I'll wonder why I bother to drag my butt out of bed and drive myself to work knowing that sooner than I would have ever imagined I'll be asked to go away.

I'll understand it. But I won't like it. And when I get the call about the three hole paper punch I'll say, "It's here with me at home now. If you want it, you'll have to come and get it. But you should know, I've already planned for this by shopping at the army surplus store and I've got enough dehydrated food and chemical toilets to last at least three months. You may eventually get the three hole paper punch but you're really going to have to work for it."

Sunday, March 21, 2004

So what does Sunday morning look like where you live?

Monday, March 15, 2004

Saturday was Schwaklakk.

What's Schwaklakk?

Rather than diminish this wonderful tradition by making up a bunch of crap about it, I thought it would be nice to offer you some real information for a change. So here's our exclusive Greg & Deb on the Web's e-nterview with Kandy W., the person responsible for the holiday.

Greg: Kandy, let me know if I've got my facts straight: Schwaklakk is a holiday born from the yearly rite of kids being forced to bring bars of soap to school so they can carve sculptures from them?

Kandy: Actually, the kids wanted a day off of school, so they decided a holiday was in order. I told them holidays usually required some sort of celebration/memorial/event to qualify and forced them to go to school. But that evening, I felt a little bad, brought home some soap and we declared it Schwaklakk. This was March 11, 1996. We've since moved our party to the nearest weekend, which the "kids" protest, because after all, it was created to get a day off, but the government has not officially recognized us yet. The boys have friends though, who throw their parties on March 11.

Greg: What else would you like people to know about this holiday?

Kandy: You do need to use Ivory soap. It has the best texture for carving. And if this should become some a huge event, I wouldn't want everyone to be pronouncing it wrong. Both Schwak-and -lakk, rhyme with "clock". Oh, and the leftover soap carvings, are known as "schwakings". I could go on here, but I'll leave it at that.

Greg: Do you do a lot of dope?

Kandy: Ivory fumes get me off. We do have an official drink, which everyone gets a shot of about half way through the carving. Equal parts Baileys Irish Cream, Kaluha, and Malibu coconut rum. You can use cheaper variations of these liquors, but the name "Baileybulua" came from these three.

Greg: How many bars of soap do you go through for each Schwaklakk?

Kandy: I buy almost three times as many bars as there are people coming. Some of us are happy working on one bar all evening, where others go nuts and pump out five. It all depends on your skill and patience.

Greg: Of all the Schwaklakk creations you've seen over the years, do you have any favorites?

Kandy: That's a hard call. Certain people never fail to impress me. My son's friend, Donny, took about six bars last year to build a robot with movable joints, and this year he made a sandwich, banana and pickle on the side. As for the 30+ crowd, Joel is a 3D artist and amateur potter, so his pieces have a lot of detail and texture to them. It can just be a fish, but it's a damn fine fish!

Greg: Did you ever consider other media like hot tar, for example?

Kandy: Chocolate would be fun. Soap's cheaper. I personally like making snow sculptures, but they already have events for that.

Greg: Have you ever heard of anyone bathing with a Schwaklakk sculpture?

Kandy: Yes, some of our early pieces have disappeared in that manner. And sculptors have the option of taking their work home, so God only know what they're doing with them. But most just leave them behind to add to our collection, which we display during the party every year. We now have three shoeboxes full.

Greg: My only frame of reference for this holiday are my family's celebration of more traditional holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving. So I'm wondering if anyone has gotten drunk and started screaming recriminations at one another during Schwaklakk?

Kandy: The great thing is, you don't have to invite Uncle Bob, cause that jerk would ruin everything! If Grandma would be offended by seeing a penis or a set of boobs carved out of soap, don't invite her, cause I guarantee someone will most likely decide this is their year for it! Personally, my Grandma would be first in line to carve a penis.

Greg: What exemplifies the true spirit of Schwaklakk?

Kandy: Bringing together generations of insane people to bond over knives and liquor for some "Good, Clean Fun!" -- our motto, by the way.

Greg: Are you afraid of the commercialization of your holiday? For example: If you noticed Bath & Body Works at the mall started displaying their Schwaklakk bath bars each year earlier and earlier until the Schwaklakk season started in late January would you be upset?

Kandy: Guess I better hurry up and get this copyrighted then.

Greg: How would you respond to someone who might say, "I'd like to celebrate Schwaklakk! What do I need to do?"

Kandy: If you can hold a bar of Ivory in one hand and a knife in the other without any damage to self, pets, or furniture, you can join in. And even if you do cut yourself? Hey, it's a clean wound.


Kandy's brilliant and Schwaklakk rocks. I'll do my best to keep a little Schwaklakk in my heart the whole year through. By the way, Kandy slipped me a couple of bars of Ivory. Allie and I will get busy and post the results of our belated Schwaklakk celebration here soon.

For more information about Schwaklakk you really should explore these sites:
Someone in New York found Spalding Gray's body earlier this month. None of the articles I've read mention who found the corpse. I'm glad it wasn't me. I'd hate for that to become the defining moment in my life. However, at this rate, I can see how it easily could be. I'd be at a party and someone would say, "Oh hey, Carol, have you met Greg? Greg's the guy who found Spalding Gray's body back in '04." Then Carol would say, "Really." And then I'd say, "Yeah. He was wearing black corduroys." Then there would be an uncomfortable silence and Carol would slink away.

Dwayne's got a QuickTime movie of his new daughter, Lourdes, on his Web site. For those of you with slow connections and browsers that don't support multimedia I'll describe the scene. First you see the beautiful baby lying on a blanket crying. Then you see two hands gently tending the small bundle. Next the two hands tenderly lift the baby off-screen. If you turn your volume up, you can hear Dwayne in the background drunkenly slurring curses at his wife and child. Then you hear what sounds like some sort of power tool. After that there's a small thud as something hits the floor.

Mom stayed with us last week. I hesitate to mention this but by Friday she was puking.

Before before visiting our home, talk to your doctor if you
have kidney disease
have liver disease
have asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or another respiratory disease
are depressed or have suicidal thoughts
are suffering from an imunodeficiency of any kind.

For more information contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Thank you.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Raquel and Dwayne have a baby!

Here's the email we received the other day:

Raquel and I are the proud parents of Lourdes Dianna Springman.
Born: 5 March 04 at 0840
Weight: 7lbs 7oz
Length: 19.5 inches.
Lots of dark black hair, long eyelashes, dark eyes.
Mom and baby are doing spectacular.
Photos in the near future.

Because there are no photos yet I thought I'd offer an artist's rendering to tide you over:

Deb is feeling better. In fact, everything seems to be returning back to normal.

One of the side effects of whatever was plaguing Deb's throat was bad breath. Actually it wasn't bad breath; it was horrid. It was the stuff nightmares are made of. I could almost see it coming out of her mouth in puffs of sticky green/yellow death. It's not as if she could do anything about it. Poor girl. I'm just glad she feels better.

This damn keyboard. Alex spilled lemonade on it and the spacebar is sticking. I'm going to have to take the thing apart and wash it down.

This is why she has our old Mac. It's upstairs. In her room. That computer's keyboard is nice, clean and functional (too bad I can't just swap them out). I should melt some caramels and go and eat them over it and see what Allie thinks of a sticky keyboard.
Dr. Kramper stuck his finger up my butt the other day.

I suspected that something like this was going to happen. After all, every guy I know my age has already had it done to them. That doesn't mean I didn't feel every ounce of blood leave my face when Dr. Kramper mentioned the procedure.

That look. The one our cat gets when the vet takes her temperature. I get it now.

Monday, March 01, 2004

If you haven't already heard, Debbie doesn't have strep throat. She does, however, have an allergy to Penicillin. Therefore if you were planning on giving her any Penicillin for her birthday you may want to rethink those plans.

Deb got the Penicillin that hasn't helped her symptoms and that has caused a nasty rash on her body from urgent care on Saturday. The physician's assistant she saw today doesn't know what it is causing her high temperature (102) and sore throat. If Debbie is not feeling better by Thursday she's supposed to go back to the clinic. In the mean time Deb was prescribed and alternate antibiotic despite the fact they don't really know what they're treating.

I don't want her to go to work tomorrow, but Deb says she'll need a doctor's excuse. That shouldn't be too hard to produce so hopefully she'll stay home rather than protract her healing process.

As for the girls; they don't seem to be exhibiting symptoms. Although Allie did say she had a sore throat this morning. One or two sips from a Dixie Cup seemed to help take care of that. Julia has been in a good mood (for the most part) and is quick to smile when smiled at.

As for me; I am surly to say the least. I've been taking care of stuff and trying to get some things done around the house (namely a semi-thorough sterilization) but I certainly haven't been very nice about it. So far I've slammed some doors and beat up an appliance ("Daddy, who knocked over the vacuum?"). I'm tired. What's more I'm thinking about the fact that I have to leave again on Saturday morning. But at least, so far, I have my health and with that in mind I should be a cheerful sunbeam.

I'm not.

I'm a prick.

Did I mention we're not alone in our misery? Poor Judy and Glenn. After helping us with the girls all week their reward was a nice bacterial/viral/whatever kick in the shorts. They left our house on Friday feeling like shit. Judy says the house is cursed and she won't be coming back.

Okay, she didn't say that. But I wouldn't blame her if she did.