Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Story for Allie and Julia at Christmas

When I was a little boy, growing up during the depression, Christmas wasn't about presents or luxuries like food. Christmas was about stealing a little extra coal from the railroad yard so we wouldn't stick to the freezing floor we slept on each night.

Christmas meant we could wear our dress up sock (we were only given one) when we were out on the streets begging. Of course a nice sock on the foot meant a little less money in our hands. People would scream at us, "Why should I give you this penny when you have such a nice sock?" We didn't really know what to say as we stood there shivering in our burlap sacks and one good sock. A penny or two less was worth the pride we felt as we limped through the ice in our treasured footwear. It was even worth the beatings we received from Nan and Papa for being a single cent below our quota.

Those Christmas beatings were the only gift Nan and Papa were able to give us and we were grateful. They were so much more special and creative than our usual, day-to-day beatings. Nan would gather some of the prettiest rocks you've ever seen to throw at us. Papa always found the time to make up new swear words just for the holiday as he helped Nan toss rocks at our heads.

Christmas was such a magical time when we were your age. We knew that giving was better than getting. There was so much joy to be found in the faces of our loved ones as they received whatever we were able to provide. Like the time we held Uncle Shannon down and he was able to give us one of his kidneys. He screamed a lot, but we could tell they were screams of joy because he knew what that kidney would mean to us at Christmas. It was the same thing for Aunt Kim when we harvested a lung, or when we took Aunt Pam's left shin bone (there's an old table leg in there now) and Aunt Shell's right cornea.

I hope letting you know a little about Christmas past helps you understand why our Christmas present is such a special time for our family. And what's more, I hope you both enjoy your wonderful, new Christmas dress up sock.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Building You a Spice Rack

There was a time when this blog was all about the words. I have proof of a time when I couldn't wait to tell you about something or just remind you, in a long-winded way, that I was still around.

Lately it's all about the AV. That's not a bad thing. Pictures and videos aren't bad; but they do seem a little lazy to me. There's no need for me to attempt to provide you with the flavors of a moment. Now there's no heavy lifting involved at all. I just press a button at the right time and suddenly I have something to show you.

I don't need to write to you here anymore.

When did that happen?

I suppose I wouldn't have a problem with losing the urge if your mailbox was visited by a letter or two from me or if the journals I once kept for Deb and the kids were running out of space. But this is not the case. It's like I've sobered up and the voice in my head doesn't sound so good. It's the same melody only I realize I'm a little flat and the lyrics aren't quite as meaning charged as I once believed.

I'm not pouting. I just want to feel like getting back in the workshop and make a nice table or maybe a spice rack for you. I've got some tools and whether you think I use them to make a mean bird house or not it's a shame to let them just gather dust.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Two Things

#1) Crop Circles

I run into these elaborate arrangements of toys all the time. I don't think it has anything to do with play. It's some kind of symbol or glyph that only the mother ship can interpret. When I get sucked up by the tractor beam I'll finally know what it means.

#2) Romulan Bird of Prey

Every year Debbie makes a minor fuss about putting this on the Christmas tree. She knows that it's going on no matter what. I'm pretty sure the protest is now simply something we're supposed to do. It's a part of our holiday tradition.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Holiday Parade 2008

There are No Pictures of Thanksgiving This Year

I brought the camera. I left the camera's battery charging in a wall socket at the in-laws. I didn't think to use the camera in the phone. This means I missed the elaborate chicken dance choreography that Allie, Julia and their aunties worked out before the meal. I missed capturing the smiles, the obligatory shots of a beautiful turkey and plates filled with goodies. There is none of the usual video footage of my daughters gambling coins from their piggy banks and losing them to their relatives.

I was very forgetful this trip. It's the explanation for why I couldn't stay awake. After the meal I fell asleep on the floor behind a couch. See, I forgot something else essential to my well being. Left it at home on our bed.

I did remember the DS. I spent large chunks of time playing this dumb puzzle game I bought for it. So while I wasn't distracted by the game, I was drowsy and a little more disconnected than usual.

I did have a nice holiday, though. The company (when I saw them) was wonderful. There was a warm fire and a huge HD screen filled with images of the Lions getting trounced. I had my thrice yearly Old Fashions expertly crafted by my sister-in-laws. I peeled carrots and potatoes with a brand new peeler. I sat and digested huge amounts of food while I stared out a big window at snow on the ground and lights on the neighbors' lawns. I got to see bits of an old Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors match from 1977. I learned all about the new HD receivers for the Feb. 2009 conversion. I had a slumber party each night with Julia and I got to walk with a cane. I had lunch in one of the coolest grocery stores I've ever visited and used mint scented hand sanitizer after filling up the car with gas.

There are no pictures of Thanksgiving this year. But that doesn't mean I'll forget it anytime soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This Kid is in School Now

Happy Birthday, Amy! Feel better, Evan.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I was never much for poetry but I want you to know about one I like. It was one of my favorites in college. In those days I had to study the stuff so most verses weren't actually read but gulped like doses of cod liver oil.

This is one that I let hang around and got to know a little.

It was only when the three of you fell into place that I claimed this poem as my own (even though I stopped wearing Victorian nightgowns after I turned 30).

Do me a favor and read it more than once. Even if you don't like it please read it knowing that certain lines still knock me over. Ask me if you want to know which ones and we'll talk about them.

Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

Hockey Mom in St. Louis

Sarah held her own with Joe.

But let's not forget just how low the bar was set for her. Almost to the point where if she avoided drooling on the podium most Republicans would tell you she did a remarkable job.

If I was a cynic I'd wonder if the CBS interviews were tanked intentionally.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Allie, Julia. If you liked the spaghetti you had this afternoon here's how to make it:

I started by choosing a recipe that had the bare bones I needed to get started (the right types and proportions of tomatoes) and then I took it from there.

You'll need:

One big onion
Four slices of bacon
Olive oil
Four cloves of garlic (smash 'em good)
Two 28-oz. cans of whole tomatoes
One 16-oz. can of crushed tomatoes
One of those little cans of tomato paste
Some bay leaves
Finely chopped fresh herbs including:
A palm full of Italian parsley
Five big basil leaves
Onion powder
Dried red pepper flakes
A palm full of sugar
A cup of beef stock
A pat of butter
Salt and pepper

Mince the bacon and the onions (you hate onions so the finer the better). Fry the bacon bits to the point where they've given up all of their grease. Then toss in the onions and cook them until they've reduced down to almost a paste (remember, the reason you don't like onions is the texture so make sure you remove that obstacle). Hold off on the garlic until you're just about ready to add all of this to your sauce pot. Burnt garlic sucks.

Get the blender and puree the tomatoes, then throw them in a big ass pot along with the crushed tomatoes and the tomato paste. Then dump everything else I've mentioned above into the pot and bring it to a boil. Let it really boil for a few minutes and then turn it down and let it gently bubble for an hour.

I thought a little red wine might be a nice addition but maybe that's something you can add to help make this recipe your own someday.

While the sauce is cooking, time to make the MEATBALLS!

Pound of hamburger
Pound of Italian Sausage
Three large eggs
Handful of bread crumbs
Handful of Parmesan cheese
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Black pepper

Throw all the ingredients into a big bowl and scrunch them together. Then make little meatballs about the size of both your noses combined and put them on a cookie sheet (line it with foil and you'll have easy clean up). Bake them at 450 degrees until they're brown.

Take them out and throw the meatballs into the sauce and cook for another twenty minutes or so.

Boil some spaghetti and ask some people to come over for dinner because this makes a crap load of sauce. Sprinkle your pasta with some finely shredded mozzarella and Parmesan. Throw some garlic bread and a salad into the mix and I'm guessing this will be enough to easily stuff eight or nine people.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just Right

This one's too slow.

This one's too fast.

This one's just right.

So I bought it.

I know. I know. My wife doesn't have a job. Aren't you putting your children's Christmas in jeopardy?!

Hardly. . .

I sold the Bandit for what I paid for it. Well, that's not true. I came down $50 because the buyer asked and I didn't want to be a total dick. I was surprised at how sad I was when the guy loaded it up on a trailer and drove away. Julia stood on the front lawn with me and said, "Bye-bye motorcycle," which choked me up a little. I did love the bike but like many of the things we love they are just not good for us. The Twinkies Deb slipped into my lunch box today are a good example. The Bandit was like a big, creamy Twinkie and the more I indulged the more likely it was going to do me harm.

The Bandit's engine was too big. It gulped gas and the bike's small fuel tank meant I was constantly at the pumps. Plus, big engine means big power and I abused it. Every morning I'd tell myself I was going to take it easy and every morning some truck or sub-compact would do something stupid causing me to twist my wrist way more than I should. But the weight and balance of the bike always reassured me that I was in complete control. But just about everyone who rides safely will tell you that anything above 80 MPH is probably unnecessary and almost always dangerous. That said my Bandit never really seemed comfortable at any speed other than above 80.

So I sold it. My rationale was it was too much bike and now is a good time to have some extra money in the bank (plus no insurance payment). It was a very sensible plan that worked out nicely for everyone until I started poking around on Craigslist. That's where I found the V-Strom.

This new motorcycle has caused some discord in my marriage.

I'm not a good negotiator. Wait. More accurately - I'm not a polite negotiator. Part of my job is negotiating and I'm always convinced that while my terms might favor my position they are always fair and clearly the appropriate course of action. This is why I have a very hard time making concessions. This is why when any part of my argument is challenged I'm unable to offer a counterpoint and listen to a response. I just get downright aggressive. And when the negotiation is with someone I'm very familiar with, I just get downright hostile.

Don't get me wrong. I am almost always right (wink-wink). But that doesn't mean I have to be such an asshole about it. So when things do go my way often times I never know if it was a well presented argument or my unnecessary petulance that tipped the scales. If you want to know
which of the two it was in the case of this motorcycle you'll have to ask Debbie. I do know that the majority of our conversations regarding this purchase were not all that healthy and that's no way to live.

As of right now there is no acrimony between us. But I am tempering displays of enthusiasm. This bike was a bargain that did not require the involvement of much of our resources and passing it up would probably just mean paying even more for something similar at a later date.

Yes. That was a massive rationalization you just read. Even so, it still seems inappropriate to be seen grinning and giggling when I think about my new bike being parked in my garage.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008


One of my favorite children’s books, even before I began to read it to Allie and Julia, is Bread and Jam for Frances. It’s about a little badger who refuses to eat anything for breakfast, lunch or dinner but bread and jam.

I believe this book went far in shaping my parenting style. Frances goes for days without eating anything but bread and jam while her mother makes wonderful meals for the rest of the family. This passive aggressive torture finally shatters Frances. She breaks down and cries because she’s eating bread and jam while everyone else is slurping up spaghetti and meatballs. I have used this method in my many attempts to bend and snap the will of my children. It takes a lot of endurance but once or twice it’s actually worked.

But Frances’ mother wasn’t the only one taking part in breaking down her resolve to eat nothing but bread and jam. Frances’ buddy, Albert at school brings these incredibly elaborate lunches. Here’s an excerpt I found on the Web:

Albert took two napkins from his lunch box.
He tucked one napkin under his chin.
He spread the other one on his desk like a tablecloth.
He arranged his lunch neatly on the napkin.
With his spoon he cracked the shell of the hard-boiled egg.
He peeled away the shell and bit off the end of the egg.
He sprinkled salt on the yolk and set the egg down again.
He unscrewed his thermos-bottle cup and filled it with milk.
Then he was ready to eat his lunch.
He took a bite of sandwich, a bite of pickle, a bite of hard-boiled egg, and a drink of milk.
Then he sprinkled more salt on the egg and went around again.
Albert made the sandwich; the pickle, the egg, and the milk come out even.

Holy cow! Ever since I’ve read this book I’ve wanted to have an anal retentive lunch like this. Well, I’m writing to let you know that I’ve come pretty close.
Deb has been making my lunches each day and each day I’ve been impressed with the diverse and well executed menu she has prepared for me. Here’s what was in my lunch box today:

A bag of sweet baby carrots.
An apple.
A pluot.
Soy and wasabi flavored almonds.
Two sour cream cookies Grandma Ellen sent for my birthday.
String cheese.
A bologna sandwich with ketchup on white bread.

All this is accompanied by a napkin with a small heart drawn on it with a Sharpie.

I wish I could say I ate my lunch with the same panache that Albert demonstrates in the book but I don’t. I eat the carrots in the morning (I like them but not as much as everything else so I get them out of the way). Then I usually eat a piece of fruit soon after. Everything else gets wolfed down quickly around noon. Then all the debris gets shoved into a single baggie then thrown into the trash.

I avoid using the napkin with the little heart on it. I can’t seem to bring myself to get anything on it.

Lunch these days seems to be the only bright spot in my working day. I’m very grateful that Debbie takes the time to make my day. However, I am still waiting for the ultimate lunch. It’s the menu that Frances gets once her parents and Albert have finally broken her will. She gives up the bread and jam and the book describes what her mother makes her for lunch:

The next day when the bell rang for lunch, Albert said, "What do you have today?"
"Well," said Frances, laying a paper doily on her desk and setting a tiny vase of violets in the middle of it, "let me see." She arranged her lunch on the doily.
"I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup," she said. "And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread. I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery. And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries. And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with."
"That's a good lunch," said Albert. "I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice."

That’s a good lunch!? What the hell, Albert? He’s a badger for crying out loud. We all know he should be happy gnawing the heads off half-rotten earthworms. But for this particular, metrosexual badger a lobster-salad sandwich makes for just a good lunch. Not incredible, or spectacular or the best lunch ever. It is good. And that’s enough to teach us all a lesson about adding more than just bread, jam and half-rotten earthworms to our diets.

So as much as I can’t wait to open my lunchbox each day I’m still waiting to experience the ultimate, Frances lunch (cardboard shaker of salt and all). Maybe I’ll make it this weekend. I can’t wait to see how Julia reacts to black olives, let alone lobster-salad. I’m guessing the paper doily is the key. It’s either that or another dose of passive aggressive torture. As for me I’m thinking paper doilies are passive aggressive torture.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Q & A

Q: Why did you kick me?

A: I didn’t kick you.

Q: You didn’t kick me?

A: No. As I walked down the stairs you smashed your face into my shin then the forward momentum of my foot slammed you into the wall.

Q: So why did you kick me?

A: Because you’re an idiot.

Q: What’s an idiot?

A: An idiot is an animal that hurls itself against something and then slinks around for an hour as if it was attacked. You should Google it.

Q: I can type?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Can't Buy Me Love?

It started this morning when Allie brought down her piggy bank. She wanted to see how much she had inside the thing. I told her that if I cracked open the little door in the bottom of her pig that all the dough inside was going into her bank account.

She agreed.

If Allie had her bank downstairs, that meant Julia had to have hers. When I explained the same deal to Julia she burst into tears and screamed that she didn't want anyone touching her money. Fortunately Deb found the girls' passbooks. I explained to Ebenezer that this deal was going to make the number recorded inside grow. Next I pointed out that it was indeed her name on the account and suddenly she was cool with handing everything over to the bank.

For a while now both girls have been walking around with a fairly big wad of cash that they've collected from holidays and gifts from family. A great deal of Allie's stash came from her lemonade stand sales. I told the girls that because they made substantial contributions to their savings accounts that it would be okay to spend their non-piggy bank funds on whatever they wanted.


We took Julia to the Mattel outlet store which allowed her money would go a lot further than it normally would. She brought home an enormous Polly Pocket jumbo jet. This thing is pretty cool and Julia had a difficult time doing anything but play with it this evening. In fact, we had more than one blow up over this jet and so I'd really like to just move on from here if that's okay. . .

As for Allie, she had her heart set on an iPod Shuffle. I put a kink in her plans by letting her know she had accumulated enough money to buy a bike.

If you have ever witnessed my daughter endlessly riding around our cul-de-sac you would know that she loves her bike. She has spent hours riding up and down our street only to stop for a drink of water or to pee. No change of scenery is required for her. All she needs is a strong pair of legs, a decent sense of balance and, of course, her bike.

Maybe I'll get an iPod for Christmas.

Deb said they had bikes at Toys-R-Us. I really didn't believe her and if she was right I was certain the selection would be anemic.

Toys-R-Us has a shitload of bikes.

After about 15 or 20 minutes of deliberation Allie chose "Belle". Sea foam green Belle has hand brakes (a minor issue), six gears and shock absorbers on the front forks. We went 70 (Allie)/30 (us) on the purchase which in my mind means Allie bought her own bike.

We were glad that no one was behind us as we counted out quarters at the register.

As I type this, Allie would have her new bike in her bed next to her if she could. But it's parked in the garage for now; waiting for Allie to wake up and go for a ride.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


When I was around six or seven there was a commercial that used to crack me up to the point where I couldn't breathe.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

An Entire Bottle of Pinot Noir and Two Beers

I'm celebrating/lamenting the end of my two weeks vacation from work. Just a few days ago I was sitting in my driveway etching "Two Weeks Wasted" on to the concrete with sidewalk chalk. I'm not sure why. Particularly because it's not true. It wasn't two weeks wasted.

I have to confess I thought two weeks away from the job would provide some major insight(s). So far I haven't figured out anything but this:

Bacon rocks.

There's that. And this:
  • I sent my kids to daycare to find out what would happen when left to my own devices and discovered my own devices aren't at all what I though they'd be.
  • I know Julia is evil.
  • Her sister is, too.
  • I'm pretty sure they've trained the cats to be evil.

It's late; I've had a bottle of wine and I really should not be blogging.

I should be getting back to work.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Deb is so Old. . .

She can't even walk without a little help these days.

Hope the 15th was a happy birthday. I love you, Deb.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Happy Birthday

This went fast. . .

Sunday, July 20, 2008

First Ride

Thanks to everyone who provided tips on how to get Allie riding without training wheels. I almost went with Donna's suggestion of Pedal Magic but I spent the $20 on a Balance Buddy instead. Donna's tip probably would have saved me some jogging up and down the street but obviously a little running will do me no harm.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Dear Kim,

I was thinking about you and cars.

You put me behind the wheel of a some very powerful machinery at a young age. I remember one day heading down country roads with you trusting me not to kill us. I'd jerk the wheel toward the ditch then slam on the brakes every time a big truck came our way. There seemed to be a lot of trucks. Fortunately you laughed each time and just let me keep driving until I figured out there was enough road for everyone.

And when I wasn't driving, you were on the prowl. "Let's look for some cops to run from," you'd say. My heart would jump because I knew there was a fairly large percentage of your brain that would allow this to actually happen. Then you'd turn up the radio and search for empty parking lots.

The perfect doughnut.

The car would spin and gravity knew just what to do to exhilarate me.

Now I think about the prospect of my kids riding around in 400 horsepower automobile looking for the perfect parking lot and maybe a cop or two to run from.

I think about that scenario and I wonder if, as I was grounding them for life, they'd be able to tell I was jealous.

Thanks for the rides.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Major Weather Event

Downstairs it sounds like a cocktail party. Allie is talking to herself. Julia is talking to herself. The weatherman is talking to all of us. I'm thinking of starting a conversation with myself.

Tornadoes are being sighted all over the place. I'm glad I put a toilet in down here.

All conversation has suddenly stopped. Power flickered.

Allie says to Julia, "We're not going to get out a game. We're about to have a major weather event and there's no time for it."

Embedded tornadoes in the rain shaft or hell shaft.

What the hell is the hell shaft? Maybe I heard it wrong.

In the middle of all of this there's an escaped convict running around near us.

Wait a second. Gotta run. Doorbell is ringing.

Monday, June 09, 2008

One Bad Chomp is All it Takes

The table on the deck is covered with cherry pits.

As hard as she tries, Allie isn't able to propel a pit more than a few feet away from her body. Come to think of it, I wasn't able to launch them much more than ten feet or so. I seem to remember being able to make them fly great distances. I don't know if it's diminished lung capacity or rusty technique. It doesn't matter, I've got a whole bag of these suckers to practice with.

Allie needs to practice even more. She likes cherries a lot but just doesn't have the knack for eating them. She does as much damage as you could imagine to each piece of fruit and comes out looking like a gunshot victim after eating four or five. This evening I couldn't stand the carnage so I took the bowl away from her. I reverted back to when she was very little and I had to bite the cherry in half and remove the stone for her. It's kind of gross when you think about it but she seems to prefer these half-eaten cherries. It's not just the convenience. She reads my face to see if she should pass on the sour ones.

After cherries we made smoothies.

It must have been fruit night or something.

How the hell are your supposed to eat a mango? Do you use a peeler and then just cut into the thing until you can't cut into it anymore? It seems like you waste a lot of the mango because the dense interior makes up so much of the fruit (although it is kind of fun to gnaw on).

Where was Julia?

I don't know. I think I made her afraid of cherries.

"One bad chomp and they'll shatter your teeth like glass."

Julia stayed inside.

Anyway, this was another memory I want to keep here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

More Batteries for the Weather Radio

Deb and the girls went to see the in-laws this weekend so I took the time alone to get some things done. The thing is, after I mowed the lawn yesterday the humidity suck out all of my ambition. I wound up in the basement playing Verbosity.

While I was down there I guess my neighborhood was being roughed up by winds high enough that some of my neighbors claimed it was a tornado.

I did hear the weather radio going off upstairs, but I was too busy describing a cow as a "mooing thing".

Later I came upstairs and the power went off. That left me without much to do so I started moving things around out in the garage. I wasn't accomplishing much when Larry and Karina pulled up in the driveway and asked me if I wanted to go with them to survey the damage.

I didn't know what they were talking about. I had noticed some trees in the park looked damaged and I saw some kids picking up pieces of siding. I knew there had been some high winds but. . . duh.

We drove around in the truck and I was on the cell phone describing the damage to Debbie. A block away I saw a few trees uprooted, some swing sets trashed, siding gone, even a roof blown away. It wasn't the total devastation of the tornadoes we saw three years ago but it was as close to the house as you can get. I'm amazed and grateful that we didn't at least lose a tree and a shingle or two.

Later I came home and sat in the dark and played with the girls' Leapster. I totally trounced Allie's high score on I-Spy. Heh.

Now the weather radio keeps going off telling me watch out for flash floods. The basement had 65% humidity last night. I'm going downstairs to see if the walls have caved like the National Weather Service keeps telling me they might.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I want to make Strawberry ice cream from scratch.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Curing Cancer with Lottery Winnings

Yes. Yes. The entire house is sick. We all have blood running out of our eyes. And while I've sequestered myself upstairs with my new Neti Pot I'm still feeling pretty good.

As far as I know I don't have pancreatic cancer.

Randy Pausch does.

I realize that the perspective Pausch's Last Lecture has provided probably won't last much longer than 11:30 p.m. tonight when I go to bed. But for now I feel moved enough by it to mention it to you.

Pausch talks about dreams. I keep thinking about my childhood dreams. I never had any; really. I remember day dreaming a lot about taking a pet lion to school. I also spent a lot of class time on a spacecraft that had unlimited range and maneuverability yet was small enough for me to park near the bicycle racks. Then there was my bubble city. That was a major project.

So I suppose had dreams but never the kind that translate well to anything attainable in my adult life. Sure, I could have been a lion tamer or aeronautical engineer but as elaborate as my fantasies may have been, they really weren't rooted in anything my unambitious adult-self could hope to make come true.

I'm not pouting. I just hear this dying guy tell me about the importance of making your dreams come true and I'm not really sure if I have any beyond the oh so very pedestrian rock star kind of stuff.

So what do I dream of now?

If I think about it I suppose I waste a lot of time on spending imaginary lottery winnings. I also save a lot of important people (or people significant to me) from things like minor harassments all the way up to certain doom. Every now and again I find myself autographing slips of paper on my desk. Best wishes, Ted. Thanks, Carol. Greg Lee. Not really sure who Ted and Carol are and why they would want my signature, but it's somehow gratifying to go through the motions.

But these aren't the kind of "dreams" that make a difference. There will be no cancer cures stemming from me imagining how I'm going to save the entire fourth floor of my office building from terrorists. And that's too bad because maybe I could have saved someone like Randy Pausch. A guy who has the kind of dreams that eventually make a difference in someone else's life.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Happy Mother's Day, Marcia.
Happy Mother's Day, Judy.

Judy was in bed with pneumonia when Deb tried to call her this morning. I'm guessing this isn't the best Mother's Day ever for her. I hope she's feeling better soon.

I got a hold of Marcia.

I wonder if she realizes how much I've learned about what it means to be a parent now that I am one. I wonder if she knows how grateful I am. I wonder if she knows that I understand why she still buys me shoes. I bet she knows that when I'm her age I'll be sending Allie and Julia shoes (or something like them).

By the way, turns out I am hip enough to Twitter.

I have a link now over there; to the left.

See it?

Can't see it? Click here. [sigh]

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Meanest Thing I Said Tonight

Julia: There's a bug in my room.

Me: I hate to tell you this, but there's probably a lot more than just one bug in your room. But if you lie still and go to sleep they're probably not going to bother you.

Julia: [Blink-Blink]

Me: Love you. 'night, 'night.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Not Hip Enough to Twitter

Since it takes me three days to text anything and I haven't signed up for a Twitter account here's what's going on in 140 character or less tidbits:

-Mom ran into Matt Damon at the mall today. No kidding. She says he's a cutie. Pictures? Maybe soon.

-Motorcycle didn't run. Took it apart; big time. Replaced some things. Now it runs. I only have two parts left over. Shocked and amazed I pulled it off.

-Allie had a bad day today. Fought with friend. Left coat at school. Didn't have swimsuit. Dropped ice cream. She was a mess. Ate some noodles. Took a bath. Life not so bad.

-Julia is fine. That's all I have to say about Julia.

-Deb needs to get new contacts and was supposed to email her Dr. this evening. I bet she didn't.

-Glenn and Judy got sick during their visit. Judy is coughing. Glenn is doing something else.

-Doctor prescribed cough medicine with codeine. It has made me really loopy, forgetful and unable to think clearly. In other words, the narcotic has had little or no impact.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Allie's Blog

Recently a friend of Allie’s came over to play. It wasn’t long into the visit when they announced they were bored. That’s when I said if they wanted to make a movie I’d tape them. Later Allie’s friend’s Mom came over to pick her up and was told, “Allie’s Daddy made a video of us!"

I’m sure she was completely freaked.

She probably was further freaked when after she viewed the raw footage I asked if it would be okay if we posted an edited version of the video on Allie’s blog.

The next day the Mom said something to Deb about a friend of theirs who is a Sherriff’s Deputy. The Deputy told them that no eight year-old should have any sort of presence on the Internet.

Deb and I are not naïve about the dangers of the Internet. We’ve read the statistics and we’ve heard the horror stories. And while I hesitate to compare Allie’s Web page to a newspaper story or some other media exposure that would probably reveal the town she lives in and the school she attends I still am predisposed to view the Internet as presenting a greater threat.

Our girls have never had unsupervised access to the Web. As far as Allie’s blog goes I filter all comments and watch her page stats carefully to see if she is receiving undue attention from anyone I don’t know. But here’s the thing; I allowed Allie to have a blog so that she can create, brag, complain, praise, share and do anything she’d like. That said a great deal of what she’s going to want to share is going to feature her friends.

Our level of comfort with Allie’s blog has no bearing whatsoever on other parents' feelings or attitudes. Speaking for myself, I do want some modicum of control over where Allie’s name is mentioned and/or her image displayed. If someone is posting images of my kid on the Internet, I’d want to be able to make sure I knew everything there is to know about who, what and how those images will be used. This is why Allie’s blog has become by invitation only.

If you want to see what Allie is up to, drop me an email at gbgone@aol.com. You may need to have a Blogger log-in or a gmail address. I know many of you already have those but if you want to view the blog you’ll have to let me know so I can add your email address to the “approved” list. Jeannette, I know Allie really likes to read your comments so please write soon and I’m taking care of the Grandmas.

You should know Allie posts about once a month and with summer almost here I’m pretty sure this frequency will diminish. But if you like to read about hairdos, playdates and eye boogers Allie’s blog might be worth jumping through a few security hoops.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hollywood Minute

Donna is going to be in a Johnny Depp movie. That’s great and I’m really excited but her news pales in comparison to what I found out last night.

My Mom called to let me know their old Mercedes is going to be in a Matt Damon movie.

That’s right. A car I rode in - a car I’ve driven on more than one occasion will have (what I imagine to be) an extremely prominent role in a new Steven Soderburgh production starring Matt Damon. Of course my parents don't actually own the car anymore so they won't get the $270 a day payment from the production company but that's not really the point.

It’s not my intention to steal anyone’s thunder by sharing this information. But there’s no denying this announcement is far more exciting than any other Hollywood related news you may have recently read.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Go Spartans!

Michigan State University used to be just a T-shirt that my Grandma Ellen bought me when I was a teenager. I loved that shirt; mainly because it was green and it was from a university that was out of state which automatically made it cool.

This week I finally got a chance to make MSU something more than just a shirt by spending a few days on campus. It's a nice place. I had a good time walking around making snap judgments about the futures of all the students I saw. It was hard for me not to smile when I saw the girl in the trench coat and beret (semester in Europe) or the guy wearing a floor length skirt with a save the planet T-shirt (when he graduates he'll probably continue to wear Birkenstock's and white socks with his sleeves and tie - at least until his first promotion).

I knew these people. I used to walk around as one of them. It was cool to get a glimpse of these works in progress. It was energizing.

They all walk very fast.

After work I walked to the strip and found a Chipotle restaurant. I'd heard good things about these places and I don't get a chance to eat burritos very often so I decided to have dinner there. It was a beautiful evening so I made my way to a small courtyard in back and ate outside.

While I was finishing up my dinner I heard, "HEY!" I looked up and a man was standing in front of me. He had two emerald green deposits of snot beneath each of his nostrils and each of his words were slurred even before they left his mouth.

"Mind if I join you?" he asked, loudly.

I looked around at the six empty tables in the courtyard and I said, "Yes. I do mind. You need to keep walking."

I have an uneasy relationship with panhandlers. But I'm usually very courteous and, for the most part, an easy mark worth at least a buck or two. This evening I was tired and just wanted to be left alone.

"I hear ya." he said and just stood there looking at me.

I was getting pissed. "You didn't hear me well enough. You need to keep walking." As soon as I locked eyes with him he decided I wasn't worth the hassle and left.

I felt bad. I started poking at my dinner and then dumped the rest of my burrito in the trash (the thing was huge and I was almost done with it anyway). I started walking in the direction I saw him go. A block or two later I caught up to him. He was wandering around a bus stop full of people and suddenly I felt really self-conscious and almost walked away. But it was too late and I got his attention.

"I'm sorry I was rude back there but you startled me." He just stared at me. "You scared me. . . a little."


"Was there something you wanted to talk to me about?" I asked.

"SURE! Let's have a seat." He pointed to an area on the ground off the sidewalk.

I wasn't in the mood for a street side pow-wow so I cut to the chase. "Are you hungry?"

"Nah! I'm fine. Well. I don't know."

"I'll buy you dinner."

"Okay! Eatin' is better than drinkin'!"

We were standing near a Chinese restaurant and a Taco Bell. I asked him to choose a place. "Beggars can't be choosers," he told me but he kept walking toward the Taco Bell and so we went in.

When we walked in the restaurant he took off past the counter. I asked him where he was going. "I gotta get HYDROED!" he said and disappeared into a bathroom. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about and wondered just how long it would take a person to get hydroed. It didn't take long. I had hoped that during the hydroing process the big green boogers under his nose would have gone away but they were still there; gleaming.

We got up the counter and he asked the girl for a milkshake. She informed him that Taco Bell didn't serve milkshakes. "What's the biggest meal you got?" he asked her. She smiled and pointed at a sign over our heads that read, THE BIG MEAL. That's what he ordered. Then he turned to me and apologized for ordering the biggest thing on the menu.

It didn't take long for the girl to deliver THE BIG MEAL. I hadn't planned to give the guy any money but the bills that were left were just about enough for another fast food dinner and not much more so I felt okay about leaving him with the change. I knew just how sanctimonious I was in limiting the amount of money I gave him but still I slid the money over while simultaneously saying, "Take care."

I almost made it out the door when I heard, "WAIT!" He was being loud again. He walked over to me and wrapped his arms around me. I hugged him back. While this was happening, I couldn't help but note the angle of his head in relation to my shoulder and attempting to calculate the probability of a portion of his great, green boogers winding up somewhere on my shirt.

And while he may not have left any boogers he must have made some kind of a mark because I can't stop thinking about this guy. When he first approached me I was ready to deck him and now. . . now I just hope he's found a place to get regularly hydroed, have enough BIG MEALS and clean out his nose.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I wouldn't call myself an addict. The most I'll claim is that I am dependent to a certain extent. I use heroin mainly for my children. You see, without it, I think I would be a less effective parent.

I won't bore you with a grocery list of all the things my kids do to drive me to take narcotics. You've seen the list. Many of you have lived the list. Heroin helps make the things on the list bearable. With Heroin, something from the list happens (like a kid refusing to eat a meal they requested and that you spent hours preparing simply because it looks retarded) and it's okay because you know that needle is waiting to soothe and calm you.

It's always waiting just for me.

I don't have a special brand of heroin. I buy most of my stuff from the senior center on Main St. You might think revealing my source is kind of silly. I don't mind telling you because A) I'm pretty sure these individuals have a solid relationship with local law enforcement and B) I promised Mrs. Deetle that I'd provide her with a plug in exchange for a dime bag.

By the way, a dime bag refers to $10 worth of heroin. A gram of heroin here in the U.S. will cost you around $300. So a dime bag is around 3.33 mg of heroin. This relatively small amount of the drug is usually enough to take care of most everything your kids throw your way. However, when your child drops your digital camera and converts it to paper weight status you're probably going to need to consider something like 24.5 to 25 mg.

I'm happy to share this information with you so that you can become a better parent. Sure, you may not be the loudest, or most coherent in the cheering section at your kids' next sporting events. You may not bathe them as much. You might not be able to respond to their pleas to get you to stop using their toybox as a urinal. But you will be calm and you will not yell. The list will disappear and with it will go all the tension, empathy and awareness that was making you feel like a bad mom or dad.

So head over to your local senior center and get on the path to better parenting today.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Apparently that's the headline you use when you have (for the most part) parked your blog.

I'll get rid of mine when he gets rid of his.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Allie Oop

Allie now has her own blog:


She's writing the thing on her own. She had a little help from me with some typing for her first entry but the content is 100% Allie.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Go Sledding You Little Asshole!

Somewhere in the U.S. tonight there's an eight year-old kid named Austin. He's sitting in his bedroom, holding his Nintendo DS and laughing his ass off at me.

This is just a guess. For all I know Austin could be another gadget obsessed, 41 year-old geek wasting valuable moments of his life repeatedly killing strangers via Metroid and a WiFi link. To be honest I would prefer this scenario to some little eight year-old mother f$^%@r blasting me over and over and over again.

HE'S KILLED ME 15 GODDAMN TIMES! This little freak has the hand-eye coordination of a flippin' Olympic ping-pong gold medalist. Where ever he is I'm sure he'll be tracked down, recruited and ultimately dissected by the Pentagon.

Serves him right. If he was standing in front of me I would kick his little ass. I don't care if he's eight. He has a fighting chance. I get winded very easily and he'll probably have plenty of energy despite spending way too much time playing video games.

Who are his parents? I want a word with them. Austin needs some fresh air for crying out loud. I mean get the kid a snowsuit and make him go sledding or something. If he continues down this path and refuses to develop his mind and body he probably won't get laid until well after grad school.

That's not healthy. That's no way to live.

Dammit Austin.

Stop killing me.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I was listening to a man on the radio tell everyone that he and his wife don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. In fact, his wife’s unwillingness to participate in the tradition was one of the things that made him fall in love with her. The man, by the way, was discussing his new anthology of love stories. It’s no surprise that the love stories in this new book were more about disappointment and dysfunction rather than the more pedestrian love conquers all variety.

The guy said Valentine’s Day commoditized something that is better expressed spontaneously and in a more private way.

There was a small part of my brain that agreed with him. But the majority of my head and heart told me that his view is deeply flawed. After all, when asked if he is romantic he said he thought he was “too old” for it. He mentioned something about being a husband and a father and that he evolved into a “familial romantic”.

What the heck does that mean?

I thought I should feel sorry for him but I didn’t; I don’t. He’s smart enough to know that any chance to remind your sweetheart he or she is the apple of your eye is a good thing. If you don’t take advantage of it simply because you feel commercially goaded into it then you’re way too self-conscious for your own good. You’re missing out.

I’ve always looked at Valentine’s Day as being like a wedding reception when people clink on their stemware until the bride and groom kiss. The newlyweds always make a face like oh brother, not again but they kiss. And everyone in the room knows the chance to demonstrate their love for each other is always something magical. This it true regardless of how many times it may be someone else’s idea to cue them to do it.

Every February 14 I hear glasses clinking.

So screw “familial romanticism”. One day, after the kids are gone I know I’ll still want to celebrate the fact that I have the hots for my wife. And if I don’t, I’ll figure out why and work very hard to fix it. And while we’re at it; screw eschewing Valentine’s Day.

This morning my wife and I exchanged gifts. We held our breath while we kissed (I hadn’t brushed yet). We honeyed our voices and wished each other a happy Valentine’s Day.

It may have not been the peak of our shared romantic experience but however commercialized or pre-packaged it may have seemed - it was still another chance to remind Debbie that I love her.

I wouldn’t miss that for anything.

Can you hear it?


Sunday, February 10, 2008

By Request

Click here. This link to the multimedia page takes you to some pictures from Disney World. We'll show you the rest next time we see you.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

While Surfing One Day I Found a List of Songs Like This and Discovered a Bunch of New Music That I Really Enjoy So I Thought I'd Make One Too

The Way I Am 2:13 Ingrid Michaelson - Misery Business 3:32 Paramore - Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop 4:30 Landon Pigg - Remind Me 3:39 Royksopp - Blueside 3:17 Rooney - Hoppípolla 4:29 Sigur Rós - Spaceship 3:30 Angie Aparo - Wouldn't It Be Nice 2:25 The Beach Boys - Julia 2:54 The Beatles - Gepetto 3:25 Belly - Big blue sea 4:04 Bob Schneider - Let the Day Begin 3:51 The Call - Sunray 3:47 Brenda Weiler - Cloud Cult Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus - Bubbly 3:17 Colbie Caillat - Fresh Feeling 3:37 Eels - Fugitive Motel 5:11 Elbow - Feist 1234 - Beautiful Life 3:06 Fisher - Hey Julie 2:37 Fountains of Wayne - Mad World 3:10 Gary Jules - Perfect Day 3:30 Hoku - Hide and Seek 4:16 Imogen Heap - Are You Gonna Be My Girl 3:34 Jet - Cover Me 4:33 Mae - C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips 3:29 OK Go - Die In Terror 1:03 The Residents - The Real End 5:04 Rickie Lee Jones - Love Song 4:21 Sara Bareilles - Six Feet Under 3:54 Sneaker Pimps - Pig 2:23 Sparklehorse - You Are The Sunshine of my Life 2:55 Stevie Wonder - The Book Of My Life (Feat. Anoushka Shankar) 6:16 Sting - Chicago 6:05 Sufjan Stevens Sufjan Stevens: Illinois - Schism 6:48 Tool Lateralus - Jaan Pehechaan Ho...Mohammed Rafi 5:29 - Teenage Dirtbag 4:16 Wheatus - Rump Shaker 5:13 Wreckx n Effect - Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude 2:21 Yo-Yo Ma

Larry's Polar Express

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pictures of People

Most of our plants are named Dennis.

Dennis is a friend of the family. When I was little, I got to hang out with him every now and again. I remember riding around in his cool, loud, fast car with Alice Cooper blaring from the stereo. One time Dennis let me play touch football with a bunch of his friends. I'm sure the reality was that me on the line looked a lot like Billy Barty trying to block Franco Harris. But in my delusionally enhanced memory, I was representin'. Although, I do remember getting the wind knocked out of me and trying very hard (and unsuccessfully) not to cry in front of every one. That part didn't matter. Dennis thought I was hip enough and big enough to hang with him and his friends and that easily placed him among the coolest people in my world.

That's why after that game almost every pet, action figure or anything that required naming was dubbed Dennis. Even now whenever I need to name something, the first name that pops into my head is Dennis. It's ingrained. If Debbie sends me a plant the card sometimes reads, "Say hello to, Dennis," or "Meet your new Dennis".

After all of these years, I finally had the chance to get a picture for my family of the man for whom the majority of our house plants are named. It's not the greatest quality, but at least they'll know I he's a real person.

He looks nothing like a phyladendrum.

Julia says, “We’re having girls over to our house tonight.” She looks at the high school girl bagging our groceries and says, “They’re gonna be our slaves!”

The grocery bagger looks over at me and probably sees that my face has gone from red to really red. I said, “They’re our guests, Julia. And that means we have to do whatever they’d like to do. They’re not our slaves.”

Julia gave the grocery bagger a shrug. I can’t say that I blame Julia for being confused. After all, I did tell her that these girls were going to be our slaves. The truth is the women were from a Millikin University Choral group and they were looking for a place to stay after a performance. The alumni association has my address so because I live in the area I got a call.

Debbie did this sort of thing when she was in college so I concluded it was time to “pay it forward”. I imagine it must be difficult to find places for 65 college kids but from what I understand it wasn’t a problem.

I almost got off the hook because I told the coordinator that we have two cats. He said the last two students had allergies and thanked us but said he’d find someone else. I looked at Debbie and told her that the phone was going to ring in about two minutes. Sure enough the phone rang and he said he was going to switch some kids around. So we came close to getting out of the deal.

Anyway, the women from Millikin stayed in our basement over the weekend. Allie and Deb caught their performance. Deb and Allie were blown away. When Natalie and Lexie arrived they were polite, fun and Julia didn’t make them clean her bedroom like she had planned.

Friday, January 11, 2008

As much as I like fiberglass members. . .

I got an envelope today. It was from New York and there was a USTA logo on the return address. I belong to the USTA so I thought it was another offer for discount tickets to the U.S. Open or a list of local ladders.

Inside was this:

*Gasp* Holy shit!

That's what slipped out as I sat on the couch with the girls.

I couldn't believe it. I'd been a fan of Alex Robinson's since Dan sent me a copy of Box Office Poison. Dan had mentioned that he and Alex corresponded a few years back, but. . .

I have to say that this is the most horrible thing one person could do to another. Not only does Dan send me something so cool that it could never be reciprocated but he involves really talented, famous people in the process.

How am I supposed to top this? Dan has set forth a fundamental karmic imbalance in the universe and I don't know how to set it right.

I suppose I could say, Thank you to both individuals.

Yeah, right.

Now I have to go find a pair of white, cotton gloves and find some place that can handle a $400 archival framing job.


No, really - unbelievable. Thank you so much, Dan and Alex.