Friday, December 28, 2007

One More Fool in the Chimney

Just in time for the New Year, and just as I was thinking of taking down my chimney-fool roster, here is yet another one. This time, in Australia.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto Assassination

I haven't been great about following current events, especially world affairs, but even with my limited knowledge I can safely say that we all saw this coming. Pakistan is a shaky mess, so this could get very, very ugly.

Christmas Update Soon to Come

I've got a few funny stories and other tidbits from Christmas and the run-up thereto, but I need to get organized first. I have some pictures to sort through, thoughts to unclutter, and the rhythm of work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep to get back into.

Once I get it together, I'll share the joy.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I just cut out some manufacturers coupons for our next grocery store trip. Oh, yes, I'm more than willing to risk scorn and ridicule to save $1 on a jar of Mount Olive pickles. That's a buck for another jar of pickles.

This week, there was a whole page of coupons for this new McDonald's McSkillet Burrito. Apparantly it's quite something, because it's all over the TV and the radio.

Here's what's killing me, though: there are two coupons for $1 off the McSkillet. There are two coupons for a free McSkillet if you buy a drink. Then, there are two coupons that say if you buy a McSkillet you get a free breakfast sammich, but if you look in the fine print, you can get another McSkillet, a biscuit, a McGriddle, or a McMuffin . . . but you CAN'T get a "Bagel product".

I didn't even know that McD's had bagel products, but why confuse your staff and piss off your customers over this technicality. Do they want to sell the McSkillet or no? Come on, I hate to second guess one of the biggest corporations in the world, but that is some stupid McThinking right there.

One More Traffic Rant

My two mile commute up and down Jefferson Street hardly causes high anxiety. Before we moved to Roanoke, we lived south of Alexandria, VA, and commuted into DC every day. It could be 20 minutes or 120 minutes on any given day.

Not so much here in Roanoke. My commute now takes less than five minutes. LBB commutes about twenty feet from upstairs to down.

Still, peeves don't break for the holidays, so let me get one more thing off my chest before fully embracing the spirit of the season.

This drives me nuts, and it happens every single day on the way home from work: someone planning to turn left at a light doesn't bother to flip on their turn signal until after the light turns green. They have to wait for oncoming traffic, and you are stuck behind this Numbnuts because fresh traffic is now passing you on the right. You could have passed by earlier, had you know that Numbnuts was not going straight through the light.

The only reason I fall for this day after day is that I think it is considerate to stay out of the right lane, just in case someone is planning to turn right!

In DC, you can only be peeved at the masses. You're stuck in traffic because a million people are trying to get from A to B at the same time. Here in Ro'noke, it's easy to place the blame on some inconsiderate fool.

If you are turning left, do me a favor and give me a signal. Ok?

Lists of Four

I found this meme deep in another blogger's archives, so because his original post is so old, I'm not going to link back to it. Plus, he's deceased so I guess he won't mind.

Anyway, here are my answers.

Four jobs you've had in your life:
supermarket cashier, convenience store clerk, dump truck driver, information systems consultant

Four movies you could [and do] watch over and over:
Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Godfather

Four places you've lived:
Poughkeepsie, NY; Rochester, NY; Washington, DC; Roanoke, VA

Four fiction books you can't live without:
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway; The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane; Catch-22 by Joseph Heller; Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Four non-fiction books you consider essential:
the dictionary; A Susan Sontag Reader; Hoyle's Rules of Games; Rand McNally's Road Atlas

Four TV shows you love to watch:
Curb Your Enthusiasm; South Park; Sports Center; America's Funniest Home Videos (the boy loves it, especially the skiing accidents - sorry Sonny Bono!)

Four places you've been on vacation:
the White Mountains of NH; Outer Banks of NC; Key West, FL; Wintergreen, VA

Four websites you visit daily:
The Onion; Wikipedia; Overheard in New York; my Google Reader page (I know that's a cop out, but it's how I get to everyone's blogs!)

Four of your favorite foods:
almost any kind of seafood; fetuccini alfredo; anything rolled in a tortilla; egg salad

Four places you'd rather be:
Key West; skiing; home in front of the fireplace; having a catch with my son

Four albums you can't live without [Note: this was nearly impossible to limit to four]:
The Royal Scam, Steely Dan; Seventeen Seconds, The Cure; Presence, Led Zeppelin; Ambient, Moby

Anyone else want to play along?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Went and Got Myself Hit By a Goddam Car

Leaving work today, as I was walking to the parking garage and whistling a jolly tune, I went and got myself hit by a goddam car. It reminds me of this classic piece from The Onion.

I only have to go through two intersections to get to my car, and today I didn't even make it through the first one.

I was walking with the light. I had the bright white WALK sign in my favor. There was a car in the cross street planning to turn right, across my path, but she had a red light. Granted, there was not a "No Turn On Red" sign, but she needed to heed the pedestrians and there was traffic coming from her left.

This was a late model Audi, I think.

The car was partially into the crosswalk, but did come to a complete stop. I had ample room in the crosswalk to pass in front of this car without impeding the oncoming traffic parallel to my route.

Well, I got one step in front of this woman and she gunned it. It's a good thing I was there or she would have been t-boned by the oncoming traffic. The scary thing though, as I hopped on my right leg and rolled face first on to the hood of her car, was that she was shoving me into the oncoming traffic that she obviously didn't see as she wasn't paying attention to me.


So, thankfully, she did stop quickly, and I rolled off her hood into the intersection. I gave her the New York "WTF?" sign - no, not the finger, but outstretched arms, upraised palms and a chagrined look, pleading, "Why?"

She mouthed, "Are you OK?", but she didn't get out of the car, nor did she roll down the window, nor did she put down her cell phone.

I'm sorry, people. I've done it (rarely), I'm not innocent, but there is not a one of you that can convince me that it's safe to drive and talk on the phone. I got lucky. I'm fine, but next time, some schmuck is going to get his ass totally creamed by a goddam car. Blammo!

Delays, Barriers, and Hindrances

Somehow, I'm not meant to get any Christmas shopping done this year. Things are not working out.

Monday night, TB had a swim team dinner at Henry's Memphis BBQ. I had promised him we would shop for his Momma on Tuesday, but then he wanted to have a friend over and there was a group going caroling, so Tuesday was no good. We finished up our BBQ about 6:45 Monday, so I thought, let's squeeze in an hour or so right now and maybe we can finish up.

We headed out toward the big mall, but there was a crash on the interstate. 45 minutes of not moving an inch, with bedtime creeping up on us, convinced me to do the big U, go the wrong way down the shoulder, and exit backward off the highway toward home. Everyone else was doing it, too.

I thought we had enough time to get to one other store that is near home. We pulled up about 7:55 thinking, surely the week before Christmas they will stay open until 8:00. Nope. Closed at 6:00.

Home we went.

Tuesday, the boy had his friend over and went caroling so I shopped solo. First I went to Target. My wife has said repeatedly that anything you need you can get at Target. Let me tell you, she couldn't be more wrong. They don't have shit. I did find one impulse item each for LBB and the boy, but the one thing I was planning to buy was out of stock. On the off chance that my wife will actually read this post (ha! never happens), I'm not going to mention what it is.

Then I headed to Lowe's because my son said he saw a "big #48 Lowe's car" there, that being Jimmy Johnson's car. Well, they had one but it was $25 for something he's just going to use to crash into his already demolished #1 Pennzoil car. I love my boy, but neither of us are big NASCAR fans, so forget it. I can find him something better for $25. He already has the Wii coming, so enough is enough. I did get him Battleship at Target. He loves Battleship.

I was still looking at stuff in Lowe's when I got paged for work, so I had to cut it short and head home. I realized I had forgotten to look for the basketball cards the boy wanted. He asked for them for his birthday, next June(??) but I thought they would make a good stocking stuffer.

So, Tuesday's excursion was less than successful. The item I really wanted at Target I went ahead and ordered from their website. 3-5 day shipping, it promised, which would be about Monday. Perfect. This morning, they sent an email that the item shipped. I clicked on the link to track it, it still said 3-5 days, but also said expect delivery "between December 28 and January 7." Strange definition of 3-5 days. I know, I know. I should expect it this time of year.

Today I looked around the downtown market area a bit. I found one thing for LBB, and some towel hooks I really liked but the colors were all mismatched. We are getting ready to paint the master bedroom and bathroom. I know towel hooks aren't the most romantic gift, but I think it's sort of thoughtful. Right? LBB wants to paint some shades of green and brown - yes, this terrifies me - so it wouldn't take much of a difference in tone for the color to be all wrong.

Tonight, busy. Tomorrow night, busy. So I guess I'll be among the desperate procrastinators in the stores this weekend.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good God, More Rachael Ray?

Looks like Rachael Ray has yet another TV series coming up. This isn't the type of thing that I would normally take time to discuss.

I had never watched her daytime talk show, and never sat through an entire episode of "30 Minute Meals". I have seen her on talk shows, a million magazine covers at the grocery store, and yes, I've downloaded a recipe or two from her show off the Food Network website. I didn't search for her show, specifically, but if you are looking for a certain type of dish, a lot of easy stuff comes from her show.

All in all, up until recently, I thought her rather attractive, with a nice smile and a pleasant attitude.

Then, the other day, I caught a snippet of her talk show and it was like she was on crystal meth. She was cutting up celery or the like in a state of crazed ecstasy. Her drippy descriptions of the whatever she was making, complete with "Mmm, boys", and other bizzare sound effects was just too much to take. I had to shut her off in less than a minute for fear my TV screen would crack from the enthusiasm. It was just too much.

So folks, I ask you a simple question: what do you think about Rachael? Love her or hate her? Sweet or psychotic? Either way, she's going to be in our face for a few more years.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I'm getting ready to go pick up my wife's car from the shop. Check that one off the list, and then we will fix my fender bender in January.

Then at 6:00, TB and I get to ride on a float with his Cub Scout pack in the downtown Christmas parade. I think we get to hurl candy at bystanders.

I haven't been in a parade since second grade, when the Flutophone players marched and tooted out "Marching to Pretoria" or something like that. Remember the flutophone? Do kids still play those things? I remember thinking they were shrill even when I was eight years old!

Then we have about a hundred parties this weekend and I need to start some Christmas shopping. Usually, I buy a lot online. This year, I haven't done anything. Zero. Nada. I know what I'm looking for, I just haven't had time to get out. Maybe I'll drag the boy for my annual visit to the mall on Saturday. I'll bribe him with a Chik-Fil-A.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stuck in the Chimney

Fourteen days before Christmas. I've collected fourteen stuck in the chimney stories. Most are recent, but a few are from long, long ago. See the left sidebar for the whole list.

Anyone have any more drunks in the chimney stories? I'm just trying to make a list so Santa knows which chimneys to avoid.

New Songs

I added a few songs to the long neglected FineTune player tonight, specifically some Roger Waters, Shriekback, Dwight Yoakam, and . . . ah, um . . . one Journey song that I really like.

I haven't clicked over there in awhile, but tonight, after I added these, I kicked it off. About five songs in it played the Johnny Cash version of Hurt. Auuughghh! Listen to that and if you tell me you're not torn up, well, I don't believe you.

Go to the left sidebar and have a listen!

It's Too Ironic

Don't you think?

The definition of irony has always troubled me, and many others. It's certainly not "rain on your wedding day", as Alanis Morrissette sang. It's more like, wife runs off with the priest on your wedding day.

Its other meaning isn't quite sarcasm, either. It's more wry, less venom.

So why is it that it's still the first word that comes to mind in situations like this? My wife and I, last Christmas (2006) decided to get gas logs for our fireplace as our mutual gift. Well, we waited and waited and never got around to it, and finally, two weeks ago, we bought the logs.

We called a few plumbers and other contractors of that ilk to get estimates, and finally settled on the company we already contract with for heating and cooling.

So they came today, ran the gas lines, set up the logs, and now we are ready for a warm, cozy maintenance free fire.

Except it was about 72 damn degrees today, and it's still over 60 at 9:15 PM. Who needs a fire?

Isn't it ironic? Don't you think? I bet you do, but it isn't. It's not really a shame, either, if you want to be technical about it.

This coming weekend, icy conditions and cold air should present perfect conditions to enjoy a synthetic fire. That, I think, is just a bit ironic.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Vehicular Homicide

Three days after fussing about all the recent troubles with my Camry, this morning I crashed my Eclipse into a cement pillar in the parking garage. I can still drive it, but the passenger side is all messed up. The rear quarter panel will have to be replaced. I'm hoping the door is OK. I was so disgusted with myself that I just locked my car and went to work without really looking at it too closely.

Now I want sell that car, like today, but I guess I need to fix it first. Rats!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Blue Oyster Cat

Wholly crap! Mr. Helpful recently reminded me about a band that was huge in my childhood: Blue Oyster Cult. They were from Long Island, and they played frequently in my hometown. The big story was that they used to perform at a local club as "Soft White Underbelly", without any hype, as they prepared for a tour. I'm not sure if that was true, because I was too young to verify it.

Well, let me tell you, as many good songs as they had - and you know them: Godzilla, Don't Fear the Reaper, Burning For You, and many more - they had a whole mess of shitty songs, too. In an era of album oriented rock, I can't believe they actually made it. Most of their albums had a hit, one or two other good rocking songs, and a whole lot of odd mess.

I had the Agents of Fortune album, but that was ruined along with all the rest of my records when one of our cats decided to pee all over them. I chucked them all in the dumpster when we moved to this house.

You wouldn't believe how many great albums that cat ruined. The whole Kiss collection (through Dynasty - that's as far as you need to go), the complete Led Zeppelin collection (except for III, which, oddly, is the only one I now have on CD), several Crosby Stills and Nash records, Fleetwood Mac, some Tangerine Dream, The Smiths, The Cure, The Cocteau Twins, a bunch of Yes and Genesis. Even the Grease and Saturday Night Fever soundtracks. The biggest loss was Aerosmith Rocks, which I think is the best rock album of all time. That and Get Your Wings are the only Aerosmith albums you need. They started to suck about 1977. I'm not sure why they've made it as far as they have.

That cat trashed hundreds of records, and he peed on the lower levels of my CD collection, too. I didn't toss them out. I did the best I could to clean them up, but those in the R's and S's are somewhat compromised. The discs are OK, but the cover art is all pale and crisp. Those hardest hit were the Rolling Stones, REM, and Sade.

Damn cat.

Vehicular Suicide

Both of our cars are acting up lately, and I feel a bit betrayed since I was praising my 12 year old Camry just recently on the blog.

The Camry, a 1996, has 145,000 miles or so, and it's never needed anything but routine maintenance. It's been a great car. No serious issues.

Two weeks ago, though, the trouble began when the starter burned out. Then last night it started making this moaning noise when you turned the wheel. It sounds like a humpback whale. Turns out now it needs a power steering pump.

So now, nearly $1000 later, I'm starting to wonder about this car. These repairs are in the bag, so I guess we will hang on for awhile, but now I feel like it might become a money pit. It's been our "family" car since we bought it, and it's what we use on long trips, because the other vehicle is a 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse which is not exactly passenger friendly in the back seat. I bought it about six months before we found out we were having a kid, otherwise we might have made another choice.

The Eclipse was a fun car for awhile, but now I just get annoyed cramming my big ais in that little tuna can. Plus, it being a two door, I have to really squeeze to get in and out of it in the parking garage downtown, where the spaces leave you only about 3 inches on either side.

There's nothing wrong with it, mechanically, and it only has 54,000 miles on it, but there are a few things that drive me nuts: the radio pops and crackles, the driver's side window freezes shut, it's really low to the ground and somehow gets water up inside it whenever it rains hard - thus leaving a mildewy smell that lingers for weeks, it takes forever to heat up -I'm at work before it's even starting to get warm, and it's a somewhat effeminate blue/green color that I regretted shortly after purchase.

I want to get rid of that car, not the Camry. The plan has been to sell the Mitsu, I'll drive the Camry to work, and for LBB, buy a fuel-efficient small SUV, like a Honda CRX. That's my wife's pick, although I kinda like the Acura RDX. We will probably end up with the Honda, because the Acura only comes in 4-wheel drive, which we don't need (most of you out there who think you need 4-wheel drive are, quite simply, wrong). Also, LBB doesn't want leather seats (for ethical reasons - yawn, whatever), and I doubt you can get the Acura without leather.

I'm still a bit leery of hybrids. Although I'm all for the concept of it, I've heard that if the power pack (or whatever you call it) goes bad, it could be a $7-8K repair. Plus, other than the Prius, the mileage on most hybrids isn't all that much better if you stick with front-wheel drive four cylinder vehicles.

So, any recommendations?

We've Been Elfed

There's a whole lot of elfing going on this week. It's better than being punk'd, I guess.

That's me on the left, elfed by the Circle's photographer, along with Carter (Legaleasy columnist), Brent (Circle publisher), and Paul (Economics 24014 columnist).

OK, Maryann, you know what they say about paybacks, right?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

TV: Possessed!

Anyone ever had a TV set that turns on all by itself without provocation? It's happened five times that I know about, four of them when I was on the computer (just a few feet away) and once in the middle of the night. This is a 7 or 8 year old JVC TV, connected to a Cox Digital cable box. We recently obtained a new remote for the cable box because the old one died. This never happened before the new remote. I have a few theories. Which do you think it is?

1) Someone cleaning the house squirted windex up on the TV and it drippled down into the control panel. That messed up the TV, it shorted out, and it is turning itself on.

2) Something is f'd up with the new remote and it's turning the TV on without anyone even touching it.

3) Some other device is sending a signal to the TV, such as the router, a cell phone, the microwave, or a neighbor's security system.

4) Gremlins.

5) My whole family is hallucinating.

I'd prefer answer #5, because that is the only one that would be any fun to troubleshoot.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Getting Ready for Santa

Aha! See, I'm Not Alone In Disgust

This note just goes to show you that rudeness is universal, harkening back to my earlier complaint.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How Did I Miss This?

Those of you about my age and with the same musical sensibility will be scratching your heads over this, just like I am: how in the world had I never heard New Order's Power, Corruption, and Lies album before tonight?

New Order has always been one of my favorites. They hit big right around the time everything was all emotional and huge for me, so their combination of beats, guitar, bass, dance, and moodiness was just what I needed.

First album of theirs I bought was Low Life, then, I think Brotherhood. After that, I backtracked to Movement and some old Joy Division. Somehow, though, I completely ignored Power, Corruption, and Lies except for the songs that ultimately showed up on Substance (Blue Monday and The Beach).

How did I miss this record? Here I am at forty listening to music on Rhapsody, and I feel like I found something completely fresh and new, yet it was right there for the taking 25 years ago.

This is almost how tortured I felt last year when I discovered the Rolling Stones 1976 Black and Blue album. I'm glad I finally found it, but my goodness how it would have helped way back then!

An Ish Wish Dish

I'm right proud of my son tonight. Last time we had a guys weekend, I made a delicious chicken casserole. He loved it, but it was full of deathly heart clogging fat and sodium.

So, of course tonight I wanted to make it again. TB told me that he thought is was good, but "no, no, no casseroles tonight, Daddy!"

I suggested meat loaf, which I haven't had homemade since I went to college in 1985. I'm craving it, but since LBB is vegetarian, it's not likely to be served here on Jefferson Street.

"I don't even know what meat loaf is, Daddy! No, no, no!"

He suggested we make pizzas together. We've done that a few times, it's great fun and tasty, but I wasn't in the mood for that tonight.

"How about fish?" I queried.

"Sure, I like fish," he said.

"If you had a choice of pizza or fish, which would you pick?"

"A wish. I would wish and wish and wish for fish in my dish."

Yeah, OK, he was (sorta) quoting Dr. Seuss, but I was pleased that he picked fish over pizza. Surely he's not thinking of it being more healthful, but he is branching out nicely with his meal preferences. The boy is growing up and turning into a real human being, with thoughts and feelings and conversations. I love it, but it makes me a little sad, too.

This morning we both had haircuts, and on the way home, I remembered that LBB had already gone to the lake, so I thought it might be a good time to go find the Christmas light penguins that she wanted. We hit the local K-mart, but they were out. So we headed to the next closest one and we got the last set on the shelf.

And as much as TB was excited about surprising Momma with the penguins, he still reminded me, "Daddy? You know what we should be thinking about? We should be thinking about what to get Momma for Christmas."

He's a good boy, he loves his Momma, and he's great fun to be with. We tossed the football for darned near two hours this afternoon after putting the lights on the bushes and setting up the new penguins. Now, he's racing the Hudson Hornet (Doc) against the Pennzoil #1 car (circa late 90's NASCAR), and he asked me when I'll be done writing my "memoirs" (his name for my blog, a la LBB).

Bath, stories, and bed. The boy has it made. Nothing makes me happier.

Friday, November 30, 2007

How About That!

Look here! I've been given a Community Blogger Award by Country Dew of Blue Country Magic. She's a fine writer, and I couldn't be more proud that she enjoys my random carrying on. This came at the end of a rough week, blogging was far from my mind, and when I thought of it, no inspiration came. This may be the ais kickin' that I needed.

Anyway, in the spirit of honoring those I enjoy reading, I'd like to pass on a few Community Blogger Awards myself, in the random order that my neurons are firing:

To Rebecca of On The Market: a wonderful advocate for the Roanoke city market and all of downtown, she keeps us informed of events and vendors, shares her wonderful photography, and occasionally gives us a glimpse of her life and sense of humor. She also makes some super soap. My wife loves it. I'll be back for some stocking stuffers soon.

To Roanoke-Found, of Just Another Day in Roanoke: he's one of the first local bloggers I found when I started this lark back in January. If there is one blogger in town that believes in community building, it's RF. He's got his eye on the city government, he has organized groups and activities in his neighborhood, and he doesn't mind telling you what he thinks - with very clever allusions along the way. I don't always agree with him, but he likes Rush and the Buffalo Bills, so he's OK with me whatever he says.

To Ron Bailey, of Ron Bailey's Weblog: we have a lot in common, and very different ways of expressing it. We have kids about the same age; he puts up pictures from time to time, I prattle on in my posts. We seem to have nearly identical political, social, and religious beliefs; he says it with venom, I keep it veiled. We both like a variety of music; he puts it right in front of you with YouTube clips, I give you the FineTune player so you can go get it yourself. And, he put up a picture of Tacocat, which is one of the strangest things I've seen in awhile.

Cheers to you all on this Friday night. I don't get out there and comment as much as I'd like, but I read it all. Thanks for sharing and playing along!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Don't tell my boy, but my wife found us a Wii yesterday. Oh, boy, am I'm looking forward to this Christmas now! I've never been much of a gamer, but the one time I got ahold of a Wii, I was immediately hooked.

Further details tomorrow. Things have been busy on Jefferson St. for the past week or so, and work thoughts have shoved any notion of blogging right out my brain and on to the sidewalk.

TB and I are having a "boys weekend" Saturday and Sunday. That usually leads to some good stories. LBB will be off to the lake to cluck with the hens, so maybe we will get the Christmas decorations started and surprise her.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another One Stuck in the Chimney

This is amazing: yet another person got stuck in the chimney this week. This time it was a teenager trying to sneak in past curfew. Is it really worth it? No good ever comes from sliding down the chimney unless you are Santa.

Looks like I'm going to have quite a list by Christmas.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Yesterday I was in a bad mood, and I promised I'd give thanks today, which is going much better, thank you! Here are some things I'm thankful for:

1) That my son was able to have his G'diddy around until he was old enough to have some good, solid memories of him. G'diddy hung around until almost 97. I think the boy was a big reason for that.

2) That my wife puts up with all my peccadillos, and I hers.

3) That the presidential election is less than a year away.

4) That the Bills and the Redskins are both having semi-decent seasons and have a chance, however slim, to make the playoffs.

5) That my oldest brother (21 years my senior) lives nearby my parents and is able to help them out with some things, and that my youngest brother (14 years my senior) has helped keep their finances in order. It's tough being 550 miles away from elderly parents.

6) That my son loves sports and music and we have a lot of common interests. We have a great time together, as long as he's not whining.

7) That we are able to live comfortably although LBB works only part time. She's been able to remain very involved with our son and his school.

8) That the Southies finally won a game!

9) That we have so many great friends and neighbors. Although we have no family in town, it feels like we do, like my son has dozens of little cousins.

10) That we live in a time where people can prattle on, put it out to the world, and call it a blog.

11) That the editor and publisher of the South Roanoke Circle gave me a monthly column. I'd love to "semi-retire" in 10-15 years and do some freelance writing. That gig has given me the confidence that I might actually pull it off.

12) That our son loves our cats, and has never asked us to get a big ole' smelly dog.

13) That we live in gorgeous part of the country.

14) That I've remained close to my college friends, scattered though we may be.

15) That my 1996 Camry with 140,000 miles is still running well.

16) That we visited New York a few weeks ago, and we don't have to be on the road this Thanksgiving. It's nice to stay home.

17) That it was 72 degrees today, on Thanksgiving, and we were able to have a great bike ride, toss the football, and get some yard work done.

In an hour or so, we head a block up the hill for the holiday feast at our friends' house.

So, what are you thankful for this year?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Matter of Protocol

I know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we need to take time and reflect on all the good in our lives. I'll get to that later.

For now, I'm grumpy. I'm mad that everything has been breaking in our house lately: the PC (now up and running, but still having display problems - we have a new video card on order), my wife's car (the starter went kaput, $400 - and now the headlights won't turn off automatically), the dryer (needed a new belt, $75), my home wireless network (no longer connecting since we loaded a new anti-virus/firewall program), and not to mention my job (I've been fighting to get one lousy report to work correctly for days now).

And here's another thing: office men's room urinal courtesy. If you are tall enough to reach the catch basin, you are tall enough to reach up and give the handle a tug when you're done. I'm tired of having your leavings splash up at me when I use it after you. It's a matter of protocol and a matter of hygiene, you pigs!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Santa on a String

This doesn't exactly qualify as someone stuck in a chimney, but it is Santa, he's stuck, and he likes to slide down chimneys.

Another Schmuck, Stuck

This fool got stuck in a vent shaft and was rescued after being greased up with vegetable oil.

Southies Taste Victory!

This weekend was beginning of the double elimination playoff in the Salem Parks and Rec adult touch football league. The Southies entered the tournament with an 0-10 record, so we clearly had the bottom seed locked up. (My wife asked me how a winless team can make the playoffs, and I didn't have a good answer to that.)

Saturday at 10:00, we played the number one seed. Our strategy was ball control on offense, since our defense had been shaky. The Southies struck first, but we allowed a touchdown with 2 seconds to go in the first half. 8-8 at halftime against the number one seed. Not bad! The second half didn't go so well. Final score, Tap Out 30 - Southies 8.

So Sunday at 12:30 we played our second game against the number 5 seed, The Renegades. These guys played ugly. It's the first game we've had where flags were thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct. This was also a game of ball control. Wind was a major factor (in our favor). Both teams scored two touchdowns, but our opponents were unsuccessful converting the extra points. Last part of the second half, we tried hard to give it away by tossing several interceptions. Fortunately, so did they. In a two minute stretch, there were four pickoffs.

In the end, the Southies held the ball and were victorious 16-12!

That led to a second game yesterday, at 5:30 against the number three seed, The Franchise. They beat us down severely, right from the beginning. Final score, Franchise 58 - Southies 12. At least it was better than the 62-6 loss to them earlier in the season.

The Southies went 1-12 for the season and playoffs, but that one victory was sweet. I just wish we had more than four hours to enjoy it!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gray Man Group

Tonight I was playing a game with the boy and the radio was on a classic rock station. I think it was a Foghat song. TB said, "This sounds like a gray man screaming."

For someone who says he wants an electric guitar for Christmas he's not convincing me that he's ready to rock.

A Pleasant Surprise

Remember back in mid-August I vowed to lose 20 pounds by the end of September? Well, I pretty much blew that off right from the start. Since then, I haven't done much else about it. We did switch gyms, to one that has a location right in my office building, so I would say my twice monthly workouts are up to once weekly. Also, I'm playing on that football team.

As far as eating habits go, the only real change is that I've been eating breakfast. Normally, I just have a glass of juice, or if my stomach is rumbling I stick a fork in some leftovers or grab a piece of cheese. Not exactly a great start. I'm really averse to cereal, just because I had it every morning, day after day after day when I was a kid. It seems like next to nothing to me.

Lately, I've been eating a bowl of grits in the morning. I know, that is really nothing, but it's about all I have the energy to fool with in the morning.

Maybe it's kicking my metabolism up a notch, because today, on a whim, I got on the scale and I'm down seven pounds. That's compared to my August weight, but at least it's a step in the right direction. I'm feeling motivated now!

This weekend, we have two, and possibly three, football games. I'm may even try to squeeze in a workout this afternoon.

The whole impetus behind this, aside from the obvious need to lose weight, is that my cholesterol has been creeping up. I really, really don't want to go on cholesterol medication, so I need to work on the exercise and diet before my next doctor appointment. Maybe I'll try the oatmeal method.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What About The Jolly Green Giant?

These Australian Santas-in-training were instructed not to say "Ho, Ho, Ho" because it might be offensive to women or frightening to children.

Just how much more ridiculous can things get? I think it's best if we don't say anything at all anymore. Then no one will be offended. Just stay quiet and everyone will be happy. That means you, Santa!

"When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed." - Talking Heads, Psycho Killer

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Was Right All Along

Display driver problems: that's what hosed my PC last week, not a blown hard drive. I'm back in business now, but I'll spare you all the trials and tribulations and the count of system recoveries we did to figure that out. Anyway, some advice: if you have a recently purchased HP PC, don't download the game Peggle. You'll be sorry.

And even more significant advice: don't buy an HP PC, because they don't play nice when something goes wrong. Everything is so proprietary that you have to fight like a little dog ahold of an ankle to get any answers out of them. Their service reps read (or chat online) from a script and then ultimately ask you to send the PC to them because it "must be a hardware problem". Once we were 100% sure it was a display driver problem, they wouldn't give us any instructions how to recover that driver from a DOS prompt (which is what we needed, because the PC kept rebooting itself without fully starting up).

Ah, well. A learning experience.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Southies Complete A Perfect Season!

0-10 finish in the 'A' league.

We didn't win a damn game. There were at least three we could have, and should have won. We didn't.

Next week, we go to the playoffs against the same team that slaughtered us tonight 58-0.

It's been fun, though. We went out and laughed it off with a few beers after the game, and guess what? I think most of us will be back to try again next year.

In the 'B' league, we hope.

Feeding The Fussy

So, I was all ready to put together a chicken casserole last night when TB announced he wanted pizza. Oh, crap. How do I redirect this? I had already defrosted the chicken and laid out all my ingredients (yes, I'm a bit too methodical in the kitchen. That's why I don't get to cook much. My wife says I take too long).

Finally, after some negotiation, he agreed that I should make the chicken casserole AND a pizza. So I found a little Totino's frozen pizza and brought it upstairs just in case. About the chicken dish he asked me, "Is this something you and Momma eat, because I won't like it."

To which I had to say, no, Momma wouldn't eat it because she's vegetarian.

"Well, maybe if I see everything you put in it, I will try it."

"That's why you're going to help me," I said.

So, we took a couple chicken breasts. Browned them up in a pan with some oil and garlic salt. Then cut it into small chunks. Meanwhile, I boiled up a pound of pasta - letting him choose the variety - he chose the San Giorgio "Trio" (shells, twists, and ziti - very festive!).

In a casserole dish, we dumped the pasta, the chicken, two cans of Cream of Chicken soup, milk, onion, oregano, parsley, and black pepper. Mix that together and add about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, and top it all with stuffing crumbs. Bake for about 40 minutes.

I had some canned mushrooms on the side that I mixed in separately for myself. That would have been a deal breaker for TB.

Yeah, we had a ton of leftovers. Barely looks like we touched it, but yum! We both had seconds. This morning, it's the first thing he told his Momma about. "I loved it!" he said.

Well, then! After eating, we watched the first half of the Virginia-Miami game. While we were laid up on the couch he said, "Daddy, I like when we have dinner together."

We have dinner together most of the time, so I took that to mean he really enjoyed guys night in with his Dad. It was a great night.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Boys Night In

Last night, not an hour after posting about picking a movie, I realized I was falling asleep, so I was in bed by 9:30. So, no movie. Aren't we wild and crazy on a Friday night?

Tonight, TB and I are on our own. LBB is doing a movie and dinner with friends to celebrate a birthday. There are a lot of good games on the tube. I think it's an excellent night to hunker down at home with some comfort food and football. I'm going to whip up some kind of chicken casserole. Hope the boy likes it. He's not a very adventurous eater, but I'm hoping if I let him help prepare it he will experiment a bit. He likes everything I'm going to put in it, but sometimes he's funny about mixing things together.

I need to grind out a Circle column tonight, too. I'm still not coming up with a topic. Maybe I'll write about the Southies 0-9 football season. Tomorrow we play a team that's 8-1. Probably the same team we will face in the playoffs. We've already locked up the bottom seed.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Movie Night

Nothing much happening here on Jefferson Street tonight. After LBB and I eat some delicious curried cauliflower on basmati rice, it's time to put TB to bed and then watch a movie. I checked what was on pay-per-view. All I saw was Knocked Up, and something else I've never heard of.

LBB has a pile of People magazines on the nightstand, so I think she's going to leave me high and dry. So, looking at my meager DVD collection I'm trying to choose a film. I'm not in the mood for David Lynch. We watched Lost Highway last weekend, and I'm still confused. Not what I'm thinking tonight.

So, it's either Mystic River, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, or The Outlaw Josey Wales.


OK, last night I went over the edge and posted a really bad analogy between Mexican food and the Bush administration. Forgive me, I'd had a few cervezas. Still, flimsy as that connection may be, I'm leaving it up there. I'm still mad.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Of Taquitos and Troubling Times

Our town is overrun with Mexican restaurants, which is fine with me, because I love me something rolled in a tortilla. We have one big fat chain restaurant called Abuelos. I've been there once. I'd go again, but I'm not standing in line for it.

There's a new place soon to open downtown called Alejandro's. I'm excited to see what they are going to offer.

Mostly, though, we have several local chains that seem to have sprung from the same menu. They've changed some over the years. I don't see "#F" as an entree anymore, but I wish someone would explain why that was always there and what it means.

Tonight we went to the closest local place. It's cranked up the prices, ratcheted down the portions, and substituted canned tomato sauce for their burrito sauce. I ate every bit, but it wasn't what I was expecting. Ask my wife: there is nothing that rages me up more than when things aren't the way I expected them to be.

I coasted through it OK, because I know, we all are under ridiculous economic stress because it costs $5 for a gallon of milk, and the corn is getting pricey, and it costs eight times more to feed the chickens, so the eggs are $3 a dozen, and because oil is $100 a barrel and soon it will be $5 a gallon for gas . . . I think inflation is already here . . .

... because of our insane president.

OK. . . there, I digressed quite far, but my Burrito Deluxe was more expensive, much smaller, and covered in Ragu, and guess what: I do blame that on Bush.

You know why? Because he spent billions and billions and billions of dollars on a war that accomplishes nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I'm an economic conservative. You know what pisses me off more than anything? I expect (and support) that a Democratic candidate will win the election. I expect my taxes will be increased greatly. I know for a fact that will piss me off and I'm going to fuss at my wife for some small expenditure that used to be within the budget.

I don't want to fuss at my wife simply because the taxes go higher, because we elect a president that makes sense, and he/she has to raise taxes to pay for the previous president that was a complete loon.

Guess what? If we hadn't spent squillions in Iraq we wouldn't have to repeal those "Bush tax cuts" and then increase taxes even more, but that's what's coming. Yeah, there is a business cycle, the economy is going to ebb and flow, but right now, I think we are deeply screwed. Say goodbye to your lower tax rates, because the Bush administration spent so much on this war. Your next president is going to have the joy of raising your taxes and taking the blame.

My Mexican food cost too much... because of President Bush. I wish the elections had been this year. I'm so ready for things to change.

And then here's the thing about these local Mexican restaurants, as much as I love the food, I always leave my coat in the car, because the fried bean odor clings and won't let go. That's how I feel about this presidential administration. We need to toss it in the wash and rinse it away.


Turns out I have a blown hard drive. It spins a-ok, but it's not seeing any of the directories. We can't even get to the recovery partition to copy the missing boot files. Ah, well, a new one is on order.

It amazing that you can get a 320G hard drive for less than $90. What would that have been ten years ago? $10,000?

Also, another Circle deadline lurks just a few days ahead, and I have no idea what to write about. Somehow it's always like that and I pull it off at the last minute.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Evening Wear

Tonight, we went to Applebee's. That is not something we generally do, but I'm not averse to it, either. I had a gift card.

The first thing we saw walking in the joint was an ancient woman, sitting at the bar, in her nightgown and slippers. I thought maybe she was nuts, but then she was escorted by a 40ish couple to a table, and we realized she wasn't nuts, but maybe they were.

I have an 83 year-old father with Alzheimer's disease. He doesn't have any idea who I am, or even who my mom is, but he can still get around a bit. Last weekend, up in Poughkeepsie, we took him out to eat. We didn't take him in his PJ's.

I'm glad these folks took their mom, or grandmom, out to eat. But at what point has society devolved to where we take people out in their nightgowns? Maybe a two year old at the ice cream shop, but not a 90 year old in Applebee's. That doesn't show much respect for grandmom, or to anyone else in the place.

The other thing that surprised me was that I had the rarest steak ever at Applebee's tonight. I never order a steak, so I'm not sure why I did tonight except it's what I was looking at when the waiter showed up; but when I have one I want it barely grazed over the flame. So, he didn't even ask how I wanted it cooked - they don't anymore, since the diet police say it must be burned to a char. Hope I don't get some chef in trouble, but this thing was really raw.

The boy ate like a champ and we had a fine time. Next time I'm just going to wear my undies.

Does Good Luck Come In 3s Too?

Over the past weekend: my PC shat the bed, the water heater stopped working, and the clothes dryer died.

The water heater problem was just a blown pilot, so we got that going again. My dumb ace had turned off the gas rather than the water in an attempt to drain the sediment from the bottom of the tank. Hey, the pipes all look the same, right!

The dryer, which is a cheapo Magic Chef model, 13 years old, just had a broken belt. $12. It's back and happily tumbling our duds.

So, Mr. PC fixit is coming tomorrow. Our breakdowns came three-at-once. Let's hope for the same luck in reverse!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

PC Troubles

My long absence is primarily due to the fact the our PC is completely fried. I'll try to give you the short version.

Thursday morning, my wife called me at work and said it was booting up with "funny colors" and then the monitor would go to sleep. It would then attempt to reboot and only allow it to boot in Safe Mode.

I came home at lunchtime and gave it a look, and sure enough, I couldn't get it to boot normally either. The last thing I had done the night before was play Peggle (that game I'm still addicted to). So real quick, I scurried out and bought some memory sticks (our DVD writer isn't working, either), I backed up all our files and my wife's Outlook Express. Damn! She had 3 gigabytes of email saved! I had to zip that.

I uninstalled a bunch of stuff, and eventually tried reloading the nVidia display driver. That fixed it! For about 15 minutes. Once again, the last thing I did before it went south was play Peggle. So, I uninstalled Peggle and decided to go ahead and do a standard system recovery (which runs from a partition in the hard drive, and is supposed to restore the original factory settings without losing any data).

That worked, all I had to do was reload MS Office, virus and anti-spyware software, and import my wife's address book and email settings. Everything was looking nifty. This was Friday night.

Saturday morning, because I can't help touching the wet paint, I played Peggle again. Sure enough, within 5 minutes, the PC spontaneously rebooted itself and was again having the boot up problems.

Crap. OK, so I try the standard recovery again. Hmmmmm . . . this time, hitting F10 to start the process did not work. It took it back to the Safe Mode boot screen. Now what? OK, I have all the files backed up, so I figured I would try a FULL recovery, using the recovery DVDs I made shortly after buying the PC.

That took several hours to run, but it seemed to be running correctly. Well, in the end, it didn't help. Now, I'm still getting the funny colors, still getting the safe mode boot screen, but it won't fully boot up, even in safe mode. I can't even get a command prompt. It keeps telling me "setup incomplete. Run setup again." I've tried that three times.

Anyway, I'm done with Peggle, and everything else at this point. Someone's coming to look at it this week. He thinks the game wrote something to the registry that corrupted a file needed in the boot sequence. This is officially beyond my level of computer competence.

At least the laptop still works with a wireless connection to the router, so I'm not fully out of commission, which is good since I'm on call this week.

So now you know the whole story.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Happy Halloween, everyone. Tonight, LBB and I will be heading to a pre-trick-or-treat party and then we will take turns manning the door and escorting the boy. It looks like it should be a warm night, so I'll throw open the windows and play eerie music to frighten all the little ones.

As a last tribute to a waning Star Wars obsession, TB is dressing as Jango Fett tonight. He's was bugging me to make him a jet pack to wear on his back, but he hasn't mentioned it in a couple weeks. I hope he forgot, because I did. Oops! I think it would be annoying after awhile, anyway.

Be safe and spooky this evening!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is Anybody in the World Playing Baseball?

The other night, I watched the last game of the World Series with my mother, which was great because she loves basesball. Too bad she asked me deep into the 8th inning if the Mets were playing that night (grrrrr....).

Congratulations to the Sox and their fans (I know there are a few of them who check in here from time to time). Looks like a New England sweep, between the Red Sox, the Patriots, and what should be a phenomenal Celtics team.

I was pleased to see the National League get crushed. Just proves that the best team (the Mets) should have been there.

While we were up in New York this weekend, my wife bought me a Mr. Met t-shirt.

I explained to TB that the Red Sox won the series. He was excited because I told him that's who we were pulling for, and then I said that the season is over. He asked me, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Do you mean since the World Series is over that nobody in the world is playing baseball anymore?"

The boy takes things so literally.

Long, Long Way to Go

We spent a few days up in Poughkeepsie with my parents. Friday, the drive up sucked. 535 miles in heavy rain. Every single goddam mile it rained. It added about two hours to an already long drive.

The trip back Monday was just fine. Perfect weather, light traffic. OK, TB did bake into a bag about 3/4 of the way home, but we've gotten so able to deal with that, we didn't even have to slow down.

It's the up there in New York that deserves telling. I'm just not up to it yet.

Good Evening, This Is the Voice of Enigma

This evening I'm revisiting a musical microtrend from the early '90's. Remember when chant music was almost popular? Enigma and Deep Forest were huge for awhile. Occasionally you would hear them on the radio, but they were huge in clubs. I was in my early 20s in Washington, DC at the time. I was more of a dull homebody than I should have been during those years, but even I know this was exceptional sex music.

OK, so why am I listening to it all alone tonight? Because of House and Nip/Tuck, that's why. My wife is laid up watching the TV, so I'm having my own affair with old music.

After Enigma and Deep Forest, there was a hit album from the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo, called "Chant". That was a great record, but I guess that's where it stops being sex music.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Further On Up The Road

I'm going to be offline for a few days. See ya' next week!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Whoa! Wow! It's Raining Hard

This afternoon, about 3:00, I was about to go into a meeting and my boss said, "It's raining, really, really hard."

I had to double back and look outside just to confirm. Sure enough, hard, driving rain.

It's been on and off since then (mostly off) but for the last hour or so we had a heavy soaker. It just stopped.

We are on the northern border of extreme drought. I'm not sure how we've avoided a more severe rating, because I don't think we've had a serious rainfall since June, and even that was nothing much. Stats show that we've been below average since last November.

We need another few days like this. The forecast looks favorable. Fingers crossed.

Not Exactly a Chimney But Close

This fool got stuck in an airshaft trying to rob a CVS in Florida. It's not quite the same as getting stuck in a chimney, but it's close enough that I added him to the dumbass roster over on the left sidebar.

I'm getting quite a list. Still, none beat the guy who tried to bust in his ex-girlfriends house (through the chimney), only to have her pelt him with beer bottles when he got stuck.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Google Ads

I'm fascinated by the Google Ads that pop up over to the left. Not because they are bringing in lots of new found cash, but because of the content. For weeks, 3/4 of the ads were about Niagara Falls. I put up one toss away post about going over the falls in a barrel and it completely hijacked the ad content.

Since then, there were a bunch about Jessica Biel (yeah, I know, I was asking for that), real estate in Denver and Kansas City (??), and other randomalia.

Today, it's all about baseball card collecting. That makes sense because I went to town about that a few days ago.

I just think it's interesting how it latches on to certain things.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

At Least We Were In This One . . . For the First Half

The Southies struck first this weekend. 8-0, with 10 minutes to go in the first half. That's the first lead we've had in weeks, so it was a good feeling, for three or four minutes.

We kept it close for the first half, but it the end, another disappointing loss: 36-16. I sat out this week with an injury, but I was suited up and ready if needed in an emergency. Turned out we had three extras, so I didn't have to get in there. Lost another guy to a hamstring pop, though. The injured reserve list is getting longer and longer.

Next week, I'm out of town so I'm out, but we're playing a 2-5 team. Maybe this will be the week.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dry, and Driving Us Crazy

Last two nights, if you paid attention to our local forecast, it was gonna rain and rain hard!

It did. Just before noon, for about 45 seconds, and right around 6PM for about a minute-and-a-half.

Forecast now calls for sunny skies, well into the future.

Something about this ain't right. We haven't had a good long rain since last spring.

If it doesn't snow this winter, deeply and repeatedly, we're in for some trouble.


We've already gone through a number of "collections" with our six-year-old. You know how they get obsessed with certain things and can't get enough? First there were the (lead tainted) Thomas the Tank Engine toys. Then we moved on to Rescue Heroes. There was a mercifully brief dabbling with Transformers (those things torture the living hell out of me). We are still in the throes of a Star Wars obsession, which has mostly involved Legos, light sabers, and DVDs.

Now the new thing all these first graders are up into is Pokemon cards. I'm not sure TB knows exactly what a Pokemon is (I sure don't, beyond that there is some kind of yellow animated thing with pointy ears. I have no idea if he stands for good or evil.). Still the boy is begging for them because some conniving little wretch other kid brought some to school.

7-11, in their merchandising wisdom, has a display of these cards right as you walk in the door, and if you have a soccer playing youth, you know that Slurpees are a common post game treat. Therefore, we have a choice: 1) skip the Slurpee to avoid the Pokemon issue, but suffer the Slurpee tantrum, or, 2) run the gauntlet to the Slupree machine and hope the boy doesn't notice the Pokemon cards on the way in.

These cards are $4.50 a pack, so I'm not falling for it!

But then I got to thinking about my own experience with cards. In the summer of 1974, I was seven-years-old, and deeply into baseball. I liked my hometown Mets, but I was completely nuts for the Cincinnati Reds. This was the era of the Big Red Machine: Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, and my favorite: Johnny Bench.

Without my really asking him to, my father started bringing home packs of Topps baseball cards a few times a week. At first, he'd bring a pack or two a week. I'd open and look at the cards, study the statistics on the back, and chew on the rock hard stick of pink bubble gum that came inside. After a few weeks, the collection started growing. My Dad, who's obsessively meticulous, started organizing them. Before I knew it, he'd bought plastic cover sheets, three ring binders, and tally sheets to keep track of our cards. He'd let me trade the doubles and triples.

As far as I know, this was before you could go to a card shop and buy a whole series in one giant box. What fun is that, anyway? Soon, Dad was bringing home ten, sometimes fifteen packs a night. He was getting into it, big time. Sure, he was stopping off at the deli anyway for Kent Kings and a six-pack of Rheingold, but it seemed like the closer we got to finishing the set, the more he would buy.

I couldn't keep up with the gum, so my Mom would save it in Baggies Alligator Bags.

As the summer wore on, and the collection of 660 cards neared completion, I started getting more and more desperate for the elusive Johnny Bench card. We had nearly all the teams completed, all the all-star cards, all the checklists, but a handful of cards were still missing.

Eventually, it reached a point where we only needed three cards to complete the set. Some nights, out of ten packs of cards we'd get nary a new one. We had shoeboxes full of duplicates. Dad kept buying them, but I was getting distraught. Before long, the season would be over and they would start shipping the 1975 cards.

Finally, one night after I'd been out playing late, I came in for a snack before bed, and there on the kitchen table was the Johnny Bench card.

I remember I was so excited I nearly tackled my father to the ground. He lifted me up and I held on and he spun me around like we had just won the lottery. That's what it felt like. To this day, it's one of the most joyous moments I can recall. I think Dad was just as excited about that card, and my reaction to it, as I was.

We collected the next couple years, but not with as much follow-through. We did complete the 1977 season, but only after we realized that you could write to the company and request specific cards. I think we lacked a dozen or so and we just ordered them. By that point, the Reds were heading downhill and it became an American League world, with the Yankees winning back to back series. Our collecting trailed off after that.

I'll always be a baseball fan, probably because of that experience in the summer of '74.

So, am I depriving my son of a fabulous experience by avoiding the Pokemon cards? I don't think so. Those things are crap.

But next season, we're going to watch more baseball, root hard for the Mets to redeem themselves, and maybe, just maybe, we'll buy some baseball cards. If we get Jose Reyes, we might have to work on completing the set.

The Ultimate Fashion Flop

I know I'm probably going to offend a few of you today, but I have to let this out: there is no further depth of fashion than the holiday sweater:


Unless you are sipping cocoa at the North Pole, there is no excuse for this. I can accept it maybe on a pre-schooler, or a pooch:

but if you are a fully grown man or woman, please, just don't.

Why is this getting me riled up today? No, it's not the beginning of my annual holiday-time psychosis. Oh, yes, blog world, this will be your first exposure to my seasonal meltdown. Enjoy!
Actually, it's Halloween that triggered my ire. It is rapidly exceeding Christmas for over-the-top low-brow Americanalia.

Today, I spotted a few of these coming in the office:

I'm sorry, people, but today is not Halloween, and if you ask me this is never, ever, appropriate workplace attire. It's questionable even wearing it around your house, but if you must, I can't tell you what to do in the privacy of your home. Please, keep it behind closed doors, OK?

Thursday, October 18, 2007


G'diddy was born in 1910 and raised in downtown Richmond, Virginia. He had a very distinctive regional accent, very Southern, but not with a slow, heavy drawl. Certain words he pronounced in ways I've never heard from anyone else but his brother.

One example is how he would say "Maryland". It wasn't "MAR-i-lind", as I was taught up North. It came out more like "m-RR-ln". It's like he removed all the vowels and just for good measure, took a big spoonful of peanut butter before saying it.

He was a huge college sports fan, so oftentimes there would be a basketball or football game he watched, involving the U. of Maryland, and it would give LBB and me ample chance to make fun of him. (One of G'diddy's most endearing traits was his ability to take it and dish it out.)

As TB got older, he began to join in, and he would giggle whenever G'diddy talked about Mrrln.

Fast forward to a couple nights ago. We were reading a Magic Treehouse book to the boy, one involving a wizard named "Merlin". See where this is going?

He's rapidly learning to read, but still stumbles over longer words that he may not have seen before. So after I said "Merlin" a couple times, he finally stopped me and said, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! That's not right. It's not Merlin, it's MAAARR-i-lind."

It's fascinating how kids learn and what they remember.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Bye bye now. Three hits in three weeks, and I wasn't seeing any interesting links on the widget. I canned it.

Mo' Hawks

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed a sudden rise in the number of pre-teen boys with mohawks lately? What sparked this revival?

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Nerd Rating says I'm a Cool History / Lit Geek.  What are you?  Click here!

Football Is Killing Me

Yeah, we lost again. The Southies are 0-6. This week, we lost our quarterback to a dislocated finger, two minutes into the game. So we also lost one of our short yardage guys, who drove him to the hospital (after unsuccessful and nausea-inducing attempts to pop the thing back in place).

The ripple effect was that our speediest receiver had to QB and we had only two extra players to sub in. I was nursing a tender ankle, which has never been 100% since a major sprain a couple years ago, so I begged light duty before the game, but under the circumstances that was not to be, since I'm also a short yardage guy. I did sit out a few defensive series, which wasn't much because our opponents scored often and quickly (and also ran back a couple interceptions for TDs).

Early in the second half, I suprised myself and everyone by sacking the opposing QB for a ten yard loss. I only got him with one hand, but the whistle blew and that's all that counts.

On offense, I tried to break my ribs on a short five yard reception by getting my legs tangled up and falling with the point end of the ball directly into my chest. I kept playing and had one more reception after that, but today I feel like someone beat me with a crowbar.

In the end, we lost 54-0. Not a good day for the Southies. Next week, we play a team that we almost beat in week one. They scored on the last play of the game to win 26-22. Maybe we can get one, if we can field a healthy team.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Boy Ain't Right

Holy crap! My son is having the biggset conniption. He had some big ones at age three, but now he's six and for the most part he's been fun and mostly even tempered. Right now, he is losing it like never before. Screaming, kicking, wailing, and carrying on like nothing I've ever seen. He is completely losing his shit.

You know why? He went to a pirate party today, and he lost his eye patch. Then he found the eye patch, but he can't find our cat. Then I told him that the cat went outside and he's freaking out because he can't find his Star Wars book. Then we gave him some water but it wasn't "fresh water". For crying out loud!

Fifteen minutes ago, we were across the street with neighbors having a fine time. What in the world is going on here? LBB says he's just like me. Scary, but maybe true.

Thankfully, it's Momma's night to take him to bed.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Peggle: Harmless Fun or Hopeless Addiction

You know what's eating up a big chunk of my life lately? Peggle. It's one of those play online Pop Cap games. I got so hooked on it that for the first time I actually purchased and downloaded a game. My son is all up into it, too. It's like the first thing we think of when we get home in the evening.

My wife thinks we are nuts, but as long as we aren't underfoot torturing her, I think she's secretly happy about it.

Just In Time For A Crackling Fire . . .

. . . I've found a few more stories of dipshits getting stuck in the chimney, including one from 100 years ago! See left sidebar if you are are as puzzled by these fools as I am.

I'm going to keep looking for more until Christmas.

Movie Night

A friend of mine has started a movie club, an idea triggered by a loose association of guys that are into horror movies. Although I am a David Lynch fan, I'm not that big on horror, and frankly, I haven't seen many movies at all over the last five years or so.

Still, I was invited to attend, and it proved to be a pleasant way to spend a Thursday evening. The first selection was The Messengers. I think it was primarily chosen because it was a Blue Ray disc, and our host has a whopping huge TV and a Blue Ray DVD player. The display was amazing. I think watching eggs fry in Blue Ray would be captivating.

The movie itself was so-so. The plot was extremely thin and predictable, although it was a bit of a twist on the typical haunted house theme. The direction was an obvious homage to Hitchcock. The soundtrack and the ending reminded us a bit of David Lynch. I love the fact that one of the directors is "Oxide Pang". Exceptional name!

There were some definite jump out of your seat moments, so it held our interest. It seemed like a TV movie, especially with a cast including Dylan McDermott, John Corbett, and Penelope Ann Miller, and also considering the lack of profanity and gore. Still, it was suspenseful and proved that you can make an OK horror film with a PG-13 rating.

Kristen Stewart, who played the daughter and had the largest role, is a definite hottie, but she needs a sandwich.

I'd give the film two out of five stars.

So, I can't compete with the giant screen Blue Ray, but I do have a 32" set that will have to suffice when I host. Any suggestions for a good semi-horror movie? No zombies, no slashers, no teenagers at summer camp, please. I still haven't watched Inland Empire, but I think I'll preview that myself before throwing it out to the group. Maybe Jacob's Ladder. I remember thinking I needed to see that a second time to figure it all out.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Clambering Out Of A Pit

Wow, a six day gap. It's time to get back at it. I've been in a whirlwind of activity lately, and also suffering the crushing disappointment that sports can bring.

First off, my Mets finished off a historic tailspin and missed the division championship, and worse, the wild card spot, on the last day of the season - a season in which they led the division without being challenged, all year, until the last week. Sports journalists will be talking about this for decades.

At least the Yankees didn't get far. At this point, I'll have to pull for the Red Sox.

Then, Monday night, the Buffalo Bills allowed the dreaded Cowboys to score nine points in the last 20 seconds to blow a near upset. I've been a suffering Bills fan since the Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed era. At least the Redskins are looking good.

Finally, this past Sunday, the Southies were eviscerated by last year's league champions, 62-6. It was a bloodbath. Still, we could have won three of the five games we lost, so I think we will surprise someone before the season is over.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Slim Pickins

Posting will be weak over the next few days. We have a cub scout camping trip this weekend, which sounds great except for the camping part and all those cub scouts. LBB isn't going so she's all atwitter about have the joint to herself.

Then, another Southies football game Sunday afternoon, I have a Circle column due on Monday, and a dreadful work week coming up.

So, see ya' next week sometime.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

3200 Miners

Oh my! This is really frightening, and you know why? If you look around the internet you'll find headlines saying that they are all feared dead. The link I gave you seems to tell of a more positive outcome, but you can't tell it from the headline.

I hope it's not the tragedy we've been lead to expect.

Infinite Foosball Update

I took the infinite foosball standings off the sidebar because the summer interrupted any serious play, but we got back into it tonight. I can't seem to beat a six-year-old. TB 44 - JSR 40.

We are playing to 100 games, so I have plenty of time to catch up.

Nam Prik Pao

This Thai chef in London was fixing a dish so spicy that it was mistaken for chemical warfare. I'm a major chile head, so this sounds like something I want to try!

Years ago my wife made a Mexican rice dish liberally laced with habaneros and serranos. I started sweating even before the first forkful reached my mouth. I accused her of trying to kill me, but it was actually quite good. We've not since reached that pinnacle of fire, but whenever we come close we have to say, "Naw, it's not as hot as that rice!"

What's the spiciest meal you have ever had?

Monday, October 1, 2007


It's always fun to see what type of Google searches people do that bring them to this site. Here are a few recent winners:

"man who lived niagara fall in a barrel"
"oktoberfest hotties"
"light saber"
"ty pennington's waist size"

and this one is my favorite - "shrivel head"

Three Unrelated Failures, Personal and Otherwise

#1 - Remember my twenty pound weight loss goal, set in mid-August, and to be achieved by the end of September? Well, final results are in: I'm down three pounds. Clearly, I lost my way. Frankly, I just gave up on it about three weeks ago. It's time to refocus. One step in the right direction: we joined a new gym, which has a satellite location right in lobby of my office building. No excuse can supersede that convenience.

#2 - The Southies lost yet another tight one yesterday, 21-12. It was a lot closer than the score reflects, too, because our opponents busted open an 80 yard run for a touchdown with 1:45 left in the game. Other than that, it was a game we could have won. In fact, even though we are 0-4, three of those games could have been wins if just one or two plays went our way.

#3 - The Mets. Oy! The Mets. I've been quiet about baseball lately, because somehow, after they got trounced in two series by the Phillies, I knew how this was going to turn out. I know this major collapse was completely out of my control, but somehow, as an avid Met fanatic, it just hurts. This was a season they should have dominated in the National League. Instead, we have a historic free fall that sports writers and fans will be talking about 50 years from now. Gaaahhh!

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Those fifteen of you who come by regularly, you might have seen a big ugly banner up at the top of the site recently. Here's the thing: I don't mind throwing ads up there, but nearly every time I looked it was an ad for a payday loan scam scheme. Not something I want to promote.

Once I figure out how to fine tune the content, well, you may see a new banner ad, but not tonight anyway.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

An Astute Observation, Well Linked

Props to Ron Bailey for finding this. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Jefferson Street Gourd Festival

Apparantly last fall, we hurled a gourd over the wall by the front of the house. This year, it grew . . . and grew . . . and grew. All these little gourds from one plant. Not sure what we are going to do with them, but here they are.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Drunks in Chimneys, Part Two

Another drunk stuck in a chimney. Seems to be such a common occurrence lately, it almost deserves it's own sidebar section. Hey, why not? Let's see how many stuck-in-the-chimney stories I can accumulate between now and Santy Claus time.

Unexpected Referrals Regarding Jessica Biel

Yesterday, I suddenly experienced a rush of blog hits from people doing image searches for Jessica Biel, and more specifically Jessica Biel's breasts.

This makes no sense to me, becasue, while I certainly appreciate why one may wish to view Jessica Biel's breasts, I have no idea why their search would lead them to me. I've never made any mention of Jessica Biel on my site. I barely even know who she is. Isn't she dating Justin Timberlake or something?

Anyway, if you're here looking for Jessica Biel, sorry, you're out of luck.

Now, if you were looking for Jessica Alba, I'm happy to oblige.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Third Little Pig Was Right

Forget the Big Bad Wolf. Here's another good reason to build your house of bricks.

The Joy of Reading

Somewhere up in my attic is a box full of all my old workbooks from grade school. My mother could never bring herself to throw any of our stuff out, and after my son was born, I wanted to keep it so I could compare to the curriculum 34 years later. I haven't pulled the box out yet, but one thing I remember: in 1973, textbook cover art was hideous!

I don't remember much about the process of learning to read. In elementary school, we did "SRAs" and "Pilot Library", but it seems like I was reading right along by then. Probably the ability to read is one of the things that helps cement our earliest memories.

TB is in first grade now, and I was a bit worried that we underachieved over the summer. The kindergarten teacher gave us a few worksheets to go through, which we did, but beyond that we didn't do anything academic. He's six, so I want him to enjoy his free time while he has it.

Two weeks into school, though, he's become obsessed with reading. It's like all the sudden the lights came on, and he's cruising right along. LBB and I are hardly obsessed with cramming our child full of knowledge. Our simple approach has been to read to him nightly, which we have, almost without exception, since he was old enough to sit up.

The other night, he was reading through one of his books and he said he wanted to take it the next day in his backpack so he could finish reading it in school. It ain't Les Miserables, or anything, but he sure is proud. So am I. Here's the first "chapter book" he read on his own. It's probably one of the first books I read, too:

Over Niagara Falls in a Barrel

This may seem odd, but lately I've been a bit consumed with the idea of going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. How Stuff Works has a pretty comprehensive article about it, including both the geographic story of the falls, and the history of those that have gone over in a barrel - or in a kayak!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Southies Lose A Heartbreaker

Our touch football team let one get away this afternoon. Tied at 8, with 12 seconds to go, we had one play left on our opponent's 19 yard line. We decided to try a drop kick for a field goal to win. The kick failed, so we went to OT. Overtime in this league consists of each team getting the ball at the 20 with four plays to score. We took the ball first, tossed an interception, and then allowed them to score in three plays. Final score: Knights 14 - Southies 8.

Despite our 0-3 record, there is a bright side: #1, it's better than the 54-8 blowout last week. #2, at game time, we had only six guys (eventually we had eight). #3) We played a team of 20-somethings (we are mostly late 30s to mid 40s). #4) Our short pass game looked good. #5) Our defense played much better. We intercepted four times. (Unfortunately, so did the other team).

Ah, well. Better luck next week.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blue 5

LBB and I, and another couple, squeezed ourselves into Blue 5 for dinner last night. Clearly, it's doing well. We didn't have a reservation, so the 45 minute wait wasn't too bad. Exceptional draft beer selection available during our wait.

It's definitely worth another visit, although it is a bit pricey. Everything is a la carte, so to put together a salad, an entree, and a side you'll quickly be up around $30. I had shrimp and grits, which was quite tasty. LBB had a veggie pasta dish. One of our friends had scallops, and they were some of the biggest I've ever seen.

They plied us all with some super-alcoholic blue drink. I can't remember what it was called, but it must be the house specialty because they were everywhere. I'll just call it a Blue Demon, because we were all done in by it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

And Surprised I Was

Not because they didn't bother to look at the door lock, but because they scolded me for declining the recommended transmission fluid flush. Funny, I don't remember declining anything because I never directly spoke to anyone there all day.

Ah, well. Good news is, I got out of there for less than $30.

Oh, What Surprises Await Me

I took my wife's car in this morning for an oil change and tire rotation. Also, a few days ago, the key stopped working in the driver's side door. The door unlocks if you use the key in the passenger side, so it's not an electronics issue, just something mechanical with the key receptacle, I guess.

I mentioned it to the service guy as I dropped the car off this morning, with the caveat that "I don't want to spend much money fixing it." I have this theory, that I can back up with receipts, that when you ask an auto repair shop to "take a look at something" beyond your normal, scheduled maintenance, you're going to get socked for at least another $200.

See, this car is a 1996 Camry with 130,000+ miles on it. It will probably run forever, but it's at that stage where you don't worry about cosmetic stuff anymore. Walking around the car to unlock it could become tiresome, but LBB doesn't seem to mind and neither do I.

What I'm afraid of, though, is the message from the repair shop about an hour ago saying the car is ready. No mention of the door lock issue. So either they ignored it, or I'm in for a $200 bill. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Man Hits Wife in Head with an Onion

This story leaves so much out. What were they arguing about? How far away was he when he threw the onion? What kind of onion was it? A red onion would raise much more of a bump than a yellow one because they are much more dense. Why is a man married to a woman half his age getting drunk and throwing onions at her? We just want to know.

We Dyscordians Must Stick Apart

I spent some time last night flipping through Pictures of Walls. One thing I can conclude: European graffiti is much more interesting than the domestic variety.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


From a suggestion by Venomous Kate, I thought I would try Blogrush to see if it sends any traffic my way. You'll see it on the right sidebar titled "From the Blogosphere".

I also added a FeedBurner link and bumped the FineTune player down a ways. No one was using it anyway but me. I have a good mix of songs in there, so sometimes I'll just click it on and work on other things.

[From the editor, 9/21: when I posted this, it really was on the right sidebar. Now it's on the left. The blogroll is now on the right.]

Drunks in Chimneys

What is it about getting drunk that makes some idiots think they can slide down a chimney like Santa? You hear about this kind of thing all the time. Have these dipshits never looked UP a chimney to see what size opening they are hoping to squeeze through?

I have some minor claustrophobia issues, so maybe it's just me that's crazy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Two Year Old Calls 911

Yes, a two year old called 911, and it made it on ABC news (sorry about the ad you might have to sit through). That's impressive. My six year old, partially by our own negligence, probably can't do that.

But you know what else is a major factor? Every phone is different! The buttons are never the same. Sometimes you have to press "talk" and then dial. Sometimes you have to dial and then press "talk". Some phones don't have a talk button. Most have a "flash" button that you use to flip over for call waiting, but they are never in the same place. Some are labeled above the button, some below, some to the side, some directly on the button.

Then cell phones are another whole thing.

I've never been good with phones. Ironic, since my father worked 38 years for New York Telephone.

So if you call us, unless my wife or my son pick up, it's likely I'll hang up on you. No offense intended.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Football, Joy and Pain

This is our first football season here at JSR. Let me say, I love the game, enjoy watching it, but I'm not a raving looney about it, either. I'm not a big college football fan, which is at odds with most of our neighbors here in Virginia Tech country.

I have always preferred NFL football over college, and college basketball over the NBA. I could give you some boring reasons why, but I'll spare you.

My NFL teams are the Buffalo Bills in the AFC, and the Washington Redskins in the NFC. I've been a tortured soul for many years. The Bills this year, Oy! I don't even want to talk about it. Redskins, I predict a 6-10 frustrating season, just like we've seen over the last few years. Tonight's game against the Eagles is key, and they just ended the first quarter with a 3-0 lead. Nice start, anyway.

On the local scene, our touch football team, the Southies, got the living shit kicked out of us yesterday, 54-8. The reasons are myriad, the pain is deep, practice is necessary, and practice we will.

I'm as sore as I've been in awhile, and I didn't even play defense yesterday. Something between my upper chest and upper back is grabbing and stabbing at my ribcage. I can't even get comfortable sitting in a chair. I need to hit the weight room and tone up some muscles, once they stop throbbing.

LBB even took pity on me tonight and offered to take my turn with TB bedtime duty (we alternate nights, isn't that nice?) I must in obvious pain, because I was a bit of a cock this past weekend and sympathy is hard earned here on Jefferson Street. I expected she'd tell me to get over it.


Sometimes, if the blog has been blah, and I'm off my game, I like to do one of those self-loving lists that float around out there. The past several days, I've been completely uninspired because I was struggling mightily with my October Circle column, losing severely in touch football, and attending my son's first cub scout pack meeting, among a dozen other things.

So to get back in the swing of things, I thought I'd give this list a whirl, which I found here. Do you like my new word? Narcillistic? Clever, huh?

Here's the list:

Tired of those same old 55 questions about me surveys? Well here are 55 I guarantee you’ve never answered.

1. Is your second toe longer than your first?
No, they are about the same.

2. Do you have a favorite type of pen?
One that I can find when I need it

3. Look at your planner for March 14, what are you doing?
Working, but at least it's a Friday!

4. What color are your toenails usually?
Natural nail color

5. What was the last thing you highlighted?
A book I was studying for a certification exam (which I didn't pass by one lousy point)

6. What color are your bedroom curtains?
Green and orange (it's not as bad as it sounds)

7. What color are the seats in your car?

8. Have you ever had a black and white cat?
Yes, but he was 99% black

9. What is the last thing you put a stamp on?
A credit card bill.

10. Do you know anyone who lives in Wyoming?

11. Why did you withdraw cash from the ATM the last time?
To get money to go to a Greek festival for lunch

12. Whose is the last baby that you held?
my neighbor's

13. Unlucky #?
84 (see question #5)

14. Do you like Cinnamon toothpaste?
Ick, no

15. What kind of car were you driving 2 years ago?
Mitsubishi Eclipse (still driving it now)

16. Pick one: Miami Hurricanes or Florida Gators?

17. Last time you went to Six Flags?
1981, I think (Great Adventure in New Jersey)

18. Do you have any wallpaper in your house?
Not anymore.

19. Closest thing to you that is yellow?
a notepad

20. Last person to give you a business card?
Someone I met at a training class

21. Who is the last person you wrote a check to?
the milkman

22. Closest framed picture to you?
My son, behind me, looking over my shoulder.

23. Last time you had someone cook for you?
Specifically for me? A couple weeks ago.

24. Have you ever applied for welfare?

25. How many emails do you have?
Addresses? Six.

26. Last time you received flowers?
I don't think I ever have.

27. Do you think the sanctity of marriage is meant for only a man & woman?

28. Do you play air guitar?

29. Has anyone ever proposed to you?
Sort of, but it wasn't under the best of circumstances.

30. Do you take anything in your coffee?
No, black coffee only.

31. Do you have any Willow Tree figurines?
Excuse me? What's that?

32. What is/was your high school’s rival mascot?
I don't think they had a mascot, but our biggest rival was the FDRoosevelt Presidents

33. Last person you spoke to from high school?
My friend Craig, about 16 years ago

34. Last time you used hand sanitizer?
last night

35. Would you like to learn to play the drums?

36. What color are the blinds in your living room?

38. Last thing you read in the newspaper?
sports section, trying to figure out why the Mets can't beat the Phillies

39. What was the last pageant you attended?
never have

40. What is the last place you bought pizza from?
Papa John's

41. Have you ever worn a crown?
Only the kind from Burger King

42. What is the last thing you stapled?
My father-in-law's estate inventory

43. Did you ever drink clear Pepsi?
Never heard of it

44. Are you ticklish?
Not so much

45. Last time you saw fireworks?
July 4, Avalon Pier, Kill Devil Hills, NC. The pier caught on fire. Twice!

46. Last time you had a Krispy Kreme doughnut?
Golly, years ago

47. Who is the last person that left you a message & you actually returned it?
a coworker

48. Last time you parked under a carport?
Hmmmm . . . 3 years ago?

49. Do you have a black dog?
No. No dogs for me

50 . Have you had your mid life crisis yet?
I'm in the midst of it right now

51. Are you an aunt or uncle?
Oh, yes. 9 nieces and nephews. 10 great-nieces and great-nephews. And I'm only 40!

52. Who has the prettiest eyes that you know of?
my son, or maybe Jessica Alba

53. What kind of soap or body wash do you use?
whatever is on sale

54. Do you remember Ugly Kid Joe?
Just the name, not the music.

55. Do you have a little black dress?
No, I'm a big burly man. It would look ridiculous, and besides I don't have any shoes to go with it.