Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Forgive Me, I Blitched

Looking back at last night, I believe that I was blitching too much about my table and chairs. Seeing them now in our sunny nook on a springlike day, I say it was well worth the trouble.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My Evening Has Been Tabled

Tonight, a new kitchen table and chairs arrived on Jefferson St. I'm struggling with the nuts, bolts, and allen wrenches of Malaysia. I think I must have a hundred allen wrenches from projects like this.

The table is very solid, but the diagram that tells you how to build the chairs is partially a mirror image of the real thing - but not fully, I think I could deal with that. Trust me, it's not the beer.
I looked at it again and again, and it's backward. I had problems trying to flip-flop half the picture in my mind, but finally I chucked the picture and just built the damn chairs.

So far, table and three chairs are done, one chair to go. Then the real test: my big self sits up on them to see if they will hold up.

Oh, and the TB took yet another game from ole' Dad tonight.

Welcome Jake!

A huge "Welcome to the Neighborhood" to, Jake, formally known as Michael Jacob L. All 7lbs. of him arrived last night. Mom, Dad, and baby doing great and coming home tonight. I threatened an online naming contest, because it came right down to the wire, and they didn't like my suggestion of "Cadillac".

Improved Winning Percentage, But Still Losing

OK, TB and I went 1 - 1 last night, so I still haven't caught up. Maybe I should wake him up at 3:00 AM and make him play then.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Infinite Foosball

Toward the bottom of the right column you will see the Infinite Foosball Tournament standings. For Christmas, G’diddy gave TB one of those 9-in-1 game tables. Some of it is worthless, but much of it is quite fun.

On top, it has a regulation sized foosball table. Beneath that is a mini ping-pong table, which is ridiculous. Ever tried playing on a 54 inch ping-pong table? It is darned near impossible to keep the ball in play. Flip that over for checkers, chess, and backgammon. Then there is a thin laminated sheet that has baseball on one side and football on the other. Baseball is pretty cool, because you just smack this little marble with a tiny bat and if it lands in the right circles on the field you get singles, doubles, triples or home runs. Not much to it, but it’s a fun time waster. We haven’t even touched football. All you do is flick around a little plastic triangle. It’s less sophisticated than Chinese football at the grade school lunch table.

Beneath that is a wee little pool table. It’s fun, but the action is unpredictable. The board is only a quarter inch thick, so whenever you line up your shots, balls roll all over the place because you are skewing the level of the board.

Then there is air hockey below that. It works pretty well, but for some reason they decided to make the score tally thing bright red plastic with bright red raised numbers. We just use a chalkboard, because I can’t even see the numbers on this thing. It might be readable by touch, but not by sight.

I’ve seen a couple versions of this table, including one of high quality wood. Ours has thin plastic legs and the cabinet is primarily compressed particle board. So, it’s the cheap one. I went to put it together about 11:00 PM Christmas Eve, and it was hopelessly damaged. LBB called the store the day after Christmas, and they agreed to bring a replacement. Fortunately, in a way, TB wasn’t feeling well on Christmas day, so this was not a huge disappointment. But when the second table was also a shattered mess, he was not a happy boy.

This time, the store didn’t have any more in stock, so we had to wait a week or so to see if one would show up “on the next truck”. Well, thank goodness, it did. It was delivered, and it was intact. It is a bit flimsy, though, so I’m constantly reminding TB that he and his friends can’t lean on this thing or it will collapse beyond repair.

By far, foosball has been the favorite. As you can see, the boy and ol’ Dad are about even, and he’s kicking the crap out of his momma every time. We are getting beat mercilessly by a 5-year-old! He has to stand on a little stool to see the board clearly, so I’m thinking about shortening one of the legs so he has to play on a tilt.

I’ve told him repeatedly that it’s more fun to play than to obsess about winning or losing. It’s perfectly fine to strive for victory, but I cannot abide any sore loser nonsense. He makes me proud, because he plays with intensity, but he doesn’t gloat in victory or sulk in defeat. The biggest lamentation I hear is, “It’s not fair!” But that’s only when he accidentally puts the ball in the wrong goal. Well, sorry, that is unfortunate, but it’s fair.

Honestly, though, if I can’t string together a few victories and take the lead in this tournament, I might have to grease down his handles with olive oil or something.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sure, I'll Try Some

I went here to try to stir some ideas, and what it pitched me was: Name 10 types of food or dishes I've never eaten that I'd like to try. OK, in random order.

  1. Buffalo burgers
  2. Caviar
  3. Octopus
  4. Sea urchin
  5. Collard greens
  6. Alligator
  7. Pomegranate
  8. That japanese fish that has to be cleaned and prepared just right or it kills you. (is it cuttlefish?)
  9. Frog legs
  10. Lutefisk

Well, How About That

You Are Lemon Meringue Pie

You're the perfect combo of sassy and sweet

Those who like you have well refined tastes

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, LBB

Today is my lovely wife's birthday. Here's to you, LBB! Pisco Sours all around! I recommend Pisco Capel, now available from time to time at the ABC, but at twice the price of Washington, DC stores. Don't get Peruvian pisco, it is sub-par.

Girls' Night

Hilarious post today from Dad Gone Mad.

Keep this in mind, as you gather to cackle and drink wine in the guise of bunco, or Pampered Chef, or whatever it may be: while you are out clucking with the hens, we are putting your children in peril, and they love it!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

For the Sake of Posting

As Jim Anchower says, it's been awhile since I rapped at ya'.

When I first put up this blog I vowed it would not go the way of most New Year's exercise resolutions: first a zealous daily workout, then a few times a week, then you catch the flu and it derails you for awhile. You try to get back into the rhythm, but things have been really crazy at work, and the kid's schedule and all, and then it's once every Sunday afternoon, and then nothing for two months, a quick flurry of activity before your beach trip, and then nothing but the YMCA bill for the next six months.

No, I knew I had to hit the ground running if I want to keep this up. So, 22 posts in 28 days. Not bad. I've also spent a good bit of time working with the layout, and just going out there reading blogs to try to see where I might best hit my stride. To get organized, I even set up Google Reader tonight.

I have a number of drafts in the works. Started one yesterday about how this would not be a political forum for me, but how shades of things would come forth from time to time. Before I knew it, I was spilling every arbitrary political opinion I have. As my blogroll grows, you'll probably get a sense that I'm all over the map. The World's Smallest Political Quiz pegs me a liberal libertarian. Maybe so, but I'm not committing to it. Give it a try and comment whether you think it's accurate.

Then I have another half-done post explaining why I still listen to Yes, and I'm not ashamed of it, as long as I'm all alone late at night with the volume low, and there's no chance that LBB will walk in the room. Seriously, though, give Heart of the Sunrise or Close to the Edge a whirl. Goofy lyrics or not, the music was certainly unique.

That's all for now. Crazy, whacky work week going on, so I've got to be tip top tomorrow.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I had some of this last night at a new restaruant that just opened nearby, Tony Pope's Bistro. Never had it before, but it was very good. Just about everything on the menu was tempting, so I'm glad I was adventurous and ordered something I have never heard of. I'm told they will be changing the menu nightly, so I look forward to another visit. Now, I wonder where I can get some wahoo around here to make at home?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Not Really Black on the Inside

I made some design changes tonight, because I wanted to bring in some chile peppers. Then, I thought I needed some colors to match, so I changed color of the title and links. Then, I got to thinking, why the black background? Do I have a dark side? Am I depressed? Do I have a Death Wish?

No, none of those things. I just like the black background. It looks good to me. I don't want a picture of the mountains, or a swan, or a basket of cute kittens. I changed my banner to a Smiths lyric, and decided, hey, it's fun to change the banner, too. So I put a banner history on the bottom of the page. You can follow the progression of all the inspirational quotes and lyrics I plan to put there.

So, tonight, black on the outside is simply about the screen you're looking at, and black on the inside is probably just how my liver looks. But, me? I'm happy as Larry!

Cliff Hangers

I had this old sound file saved, and while I was cleaning out some things, I thought in honor of Bob Barker's retirement, we should give it a listen. He's a good friend to the animals, thus a good friend to LBB.

I just love Price Is Right. It's been on at 11:00AM since I was a wee tot, and it's the only constant that has remained on weekdays from then to now. Oh, I suppose General Hospital is still on, but I was never into that. Give me PIR, High Rollers, Joker's Wild, and the Match Game. I never got into Press Your Luck, that was just too goofy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

May The Force Be With Me

For Valentine's, because no holiday big or small comes without the expectation of a gift, the TB received yet another light saber. But you see this one was different because it lights up different colors! Well, the box was all taped up, and I feared a problem, and sure enough once I popped in the batteries: no light, no sound, nothin'.

So yesterday, LBB searched the ‘Marts for a replacement. The Walmart toy guy informed her that they no longer have that kind. Now they have a new spring-loaded version, but it is not multi-colored. Well, we already have four daggone light sabers in the house, so I don't want some "new version" adding to the mess. Fortunately, LBB didn't fall for it either.What she did fall for, when I saw it I nearly screamed, was a Transformer version of the Millennium Falcon that is built out of two robots: a Chewbacca and a Han Solo. Well, TB was thrilled. I was mortified. I cannot stand a Transformer. I just don't have the patience to figure out which way to twist and fold the damn things into their proper, transformed shape.

Sure, they give you a diagram, with the ½ inch 2-D replicas of Chewy and Han, arrows directing you this way and that. To me it’s about as clear as z = x3 - 3xy2. I remember all those standardized tests back in school, and I did well overall, but the ones where you have to fold shapes in your head and then figure out the end result? Those kicked my butt. I could never be an engineer. I’ve seen five year olds assemble these wretched transformers patiently, and with ease. I want to take them outside and run them over with my car (the toys, not the children).

I gave LBB the snake eye when I saw the box, but the boy was excited, so I shut my mouth. Of course it was hogtied in all those gray wires and invisible rubber bands. And you know, after fighting with the packaging, turning Han and Chewy into a spaceship wasn’t all that hard. Done in about 20 minutes. Which led to a couple hours of uninterrupted spaceship flight, though our house and on down to G’diddy’s apartment.

Well worth it in the end, but if he drops the thing and it falls to pieces, I’m handing him the diagram so he can figure it out himself. The box did say ages five and up, right?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What I Save in Gas Pays My Real Estate Tax

Very interesting thoughts today from Roanoke-Found on the state of the City. My next column in the Circle discusses some of the developments in the city over the last few years, and how I think they are a sign of forward thinking and a prosperous future for our area. But this post reminded me that it's important not only to attract people to the region, but primarily to the City of Roanoke.

I have always been amazed how many workers haul themselves in to Roanoke from Franklin, Montgomery, or Bedford Counties, or even Martinsville. In many cases, these are folks who can barely afford the gas to make that drive every day. What keeps them from considering a move to the city?

Me, I live on Jefferson and I work on Jefferson. It takes me less than one song on the radio to get to work, and that's exactly how I like it. How do we make the City attractive to people from all professions? I think the advent of downtown living has been step one, the revitalization of our inner neighborhoods should be step one-and-a-half. But Roanoke-Found has offered some very valid points about how that needs to be done very carefully.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Medium is Rare, and Rare is Impossible

We went to Applebee's last night for a quick dinner after TB's swim practice. I haven't been there in probably ten years, but I had a gift card so off we went.

I wasn't in the mood for a Three-course Blowout, or whatever they call the specials, and the dinners weren't calling to me, so I went for the bacon-cheeseburger. I was a bit stunned when the waiter asked, "Do you want that well done or medium-well?"

Excuse me? I thought that was a strange question. I know that restaurants have had the clamps put on them by the Health Department, so I was surprised to be given a choice. I ordered this burger knowing in advance that it would be overcooked, crispy around the edges and dried up throughout. That's not what I prefer. I like my burgers juicy: drippity-dripping down my chin and forearms juicy. But I know when I go out, that is generally not an option, so I can live with whatever I get.

LBB will tell you, and my father-in-law, G’diddy, will concur, that there is almost nothing I consider inedible. G’diddy is amused by this, and usually just comments by saying, “Woh! Wow!”

So I ordered medium-well, and of course it was desiccated. I wish they would just skip the pretense of choice, eliminate the faint hope of a little pink-in-the-middle, and put it right out there on the menu: “You’ll need a big squirt of ketchup and a dollop of mayo. These burgers are dry!”

LBB had a nice plate of shrimp, and the TB annihilated some chicken fingers and fries. Overall, just what we expected. Next time, though, I’m getting a salad.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Uh, That All?

Roxanne? OK, I would expect that for a Super Bowl halftime, but was that all for the Grammy awards? C'mon, at least a little Da Do Do Do . . . ? Some King of Pain? Message In a Bottle? Anything? I can't decide weather to stay up hoping for more or just forget it. That wasn't the tease I was hoping for to make me excited about the tour.

Voices Inside My Head

I love trance music, so I should go out to clubs more often. Somehow, I missed the rave scene by just a few years, and I'm kinda glad because there are a lot of drugs that go along with that, and my ability to say "no" can be very limited.

Tonight, though, I'm very excited that The Police are playing live to open the Grammy awards. The hell with the rest of the show, but I'm there for this performance. The Police are often called a "punk" band, which may apply to their early songs and about half of their first album. Then they threw a bit of ska or reggae flavor into Regatta de Blanc. But on Zenyatta Mondatta, I think they presaged the growing popularity of trance and ambient music.

Give a listen to When the World is Running Down, then even better yet, Voices Inside My Head. The best song from a band that had very few clunkers. My only complaint is that they didn't make that song about twenty minutes long. But I can always listen to it over and over, which I have done many times, and which I'm doing now.

If The Police go on tour, this may well be the first time I spend a ridiculous amount of money and effort to get to a concert.

Friday, February 9, 2007

I'm On To You

I work typical office hours, usually about 8:00 to 5:00. Sometimes I go in early, say 6:30 or 7:00. But regardless of the hour, it seems there are an unusual number of other drivers on the road in the morning who are on their cell phones.

Now I'm not going to fuss about talking and driving. I've had that conversation with LBB time and time again, and I lose. I don't use the cell phone much, but I can't say I pull over to the side of the road when I do, so I'd be a hypocrite to push that agenda.

What puzzles me is, who are all these people talking to at the crack of dawn? I don't like a lot of chit-chat in the morning, so perhaps it's just against my nature, but the practical me wonders just who do you need to talk to on the drive IN to work? You just left your house, so it's not your family. You are on the way to work, so it's not your boss or your co-workers. It may be your clients, if you are a high-powered business type. But that's not who I'm really seeing out there.

And then I figured it out: if you are on the cell phone, in the car, at 7AM, you are talking to the person you are having an affair with, who is in their own car, on the way to work, on their cell phone. Gotta make lunch hour plans, right?

Yes, I know what you're up to you early morning talkers. And to think that I saw it on Jefferson Street . . .

Thursday, February 8, 2007

I Up and Registered

Was it ego, or good sense? I don't know, but I went and registered a domain for this little blog today. I could have done www dot jeffersonstrealist dot com, but that's a lot of letters. Then I thought about www dot jeffstreal dot com, but it seemed confusing. Jeff Streal? Jeff's Treal? It just didn't look good.

www dot jeffersonst dot com was already taken. www dot jsrealist dot com? I thought about that for awhile, but what if I wake up tomorrow an idealist, or a fantastacist, or a romantic or a psychic?

So here is what it will be. Go ahead, add me to your favorites!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Strange Events Today

A lot of odd things today, locally and elsewhere . . .

Right here, an 85 year old woman smashes a rabid cat into a utility pole.

Of course, this astronaut mess.

And then, a boxing champion goes after a rival in the woods with a hatchet.

. . . Always drama.

There's a Good Reason We Keep Hearing These . . .

Here are three songs that I used to love, and I haven't heard in years, and the thing that sucks, is that they are either commercials or background music for funny videos:

This Is The Day - The The
Graduate - Third Eye Blind
Bound For The Floor - Local H

We used to be so cutting edge ... or so we thought. At least we hit it for awhile before the age when everyone could create their own edge ... and now we are marketing targets.

I'm not sure Death Cab For Cutie is going to be able to bring in the dough 20 years from now.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Super Sleepy

Went to a Super Bowl party last night, but I was so tired from earlier weekend activities that I just couldn't get into it. The company was genial, the snacks plentiful, the TV massive. But right after halftime we beat it for home to get TB into bed. I took to the couch and halfway paid attention to the second half on my wee little 32" screen.

Part of my lack of enthusiasm comes from being neutral to both teams. I'm a Bills and Redskins guy. I leaned slightly toward the Bears, just because I naturally pull for the underdog, and I was tired of hearing how inconsistent Rex Grossman can be. At least this time he was consistent: consistently bad. I had a feeling, after the Bears returned that opening kickoff, that the Colts were going to take it. It seems like a big early strike portends miserable play through the game.

It was fun watching the scrambles for the slippery ball, but overall, the thing that held my attention most was waiting to see if Prince or one of his dancers would slip in a puddle and go headfirst off the stage at halftime. I also liked the rock, paper, scissors Bud Light ad. Sick but funny. Most of the other commercials were creepy, like the beating that high blood pressure gave to the heart-suit man. The Sierra Mist ads were dreadful. I was oddly amused by Robert Goulet sneaking into your office and messing with your stuff, but I don't even remember what that one advertised.

Friday, February 2, 2007


Here's our big snowstorm. At least we also dodged the ice that was supposed to follow. The kiddies went back to school today. If it weren't for the fact that TB is only in Kindergarten, I'd say they should go on Saturday to make up for lost time.

Thursday, February 1, 2007


OK, all you Southerners have heard this before: a yankee rant about what happens when it snows in Dixie. Well, here's my tirade to add to the others.

Today, schools were closed based on a FORECAST of 1-2" of snow, followed by the possibility of a little sleet. It is now afternoon, and we haven't had nary a flake. This is completely ridiculous. Now, we do have some mountainous areas surrounding us, where I realize the travel can become much more treacherous very quickly. But our district is in an urban area, in a valley. We have a few hills, but c'mon now!

Now here's my old yankee rant: where I grew up, in Poughkeepsie, NY, we never, not once, had schools closed based on a mere forecast. I do recall shutting down early a time or two, but I know the morning buses rolled on time, even with the snow already coming down.

I went to college in Rochester, NY, where in four years, we never, not once, had a class cancelled because of the weather. It snowed darned near every day up there, but we got up and got ourselves through it.

Now I realize I am an old crank of 39, and times are different now, because we sure don't want a lawsuit on our hands if a bus skids into a lamppost; but a 60% chance of 1-2" is no reason to keep the kids home. My wife is now scrambling to keep TB occupied, and it's not like they can go out and make a snowman.

I could allow this: if we had a forecast of a 100% chance of 4+ inches, alright, shut it down.

The other problem is that we are always right on the borderline between snow, sleet, and freezing rain. After 12 years here, I finally do agree that ice is worse than snow. But today, they were clearly calling for a wisp of snow. And we got nothin'. This is crazy . . .