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.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Anyone else out there like to float peanuts up in your bottle of beer? I think I learned that from my sister-in-law. Today, all I had in the house were spicy buffalo peanuts.

That adds some adventure to an otherwise ordinary Budweiser.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

(Lack Of) Progress

It's been awhile since I've updated my progress on the 20 pound weight loss goal. With 18 days to go, I'm down a total of . . . three pounds. That means I have to lose nearly a pound a day. Not likely.

At least I've made a little progress. That first week it was easy to lose five pounds or so, but I also lost my will and went back the other direction. I'm not sure why this is so hard. I quit smoking cold turkey six years ago and it wasn't all that bad. Probably means I get much more pleasure out of food than I did smoking.

There have been a lot of events and stresses the past few weeks, too. Excuses, excuses.

Two positive outcomes, so far: I have (slightly) reduced my beer intake, and I got on this touch football team, which forces a bit of exercise. Bad outcomes: the football made me sore all over and hindered my day to day workout plan; and the weather has made it completely unnecessary for me to mow and whack the yard, which is a good workout. It takes me close to an hour just to mow. Two or more if I do a good job and get the trimmer out. Grass hasn't grown here in weeks. For some reason, I don't work up as much of a sweat just walking for an hour.

Next week things should calm down a bit. It's getting cooler. No more heat excuses, no more other excuses. When I used to go to the YMCA at 6:00 AM before work, I slimmed down quickly. That may be the new plan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I know, I know. Everyone has seen this. According to YouTube, it's been viewed over 26 million times, but it's been a crazy week, I'm tired, I don't have a real post in me tonight, and this video makes me laugh out loud every time.

Maybe it's juvenile, but hey, it's been nominated for an Emmy so I'm not the only one with a crude sense of humor!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Southies Fall Short

Our first touch football game was this afternoon, and in spite of better speed and a larger turnout (our opponents had no one to sub in, we had four extras), the Southies lost a heartbreaker 26-22.

I'm sore as hell.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Circle The Block Party Today!

4-7 PM at the South Roanoke fire station. Music by Monkey Fuzz. A moonwalk and face painting for the kids. Fun for everyone. Pack a picnic and come on down!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Downtown Roanoke: 1995-2007

Except for a two year diversion working on Starkey Road in the county, and six months at RMH, I've worked downtown since 1995. I try to walk around and stretch my legs from time to time, and when I do, the difference I see from then to now is impressive.

In 1995, there were maybe three downtown residences. Now, there are condos or apartments on nearly every block. The promise of a restored Grand Piano building, with (sorta) reasonably priced apartments, will bring dozens more.

Back then, for dining we had Billy's Ritz, Awful Arthur's, Carlos, First Street, the Mediterranean, Corned Beef & Co, Alexander's, and the market building. Not much else. Retail? Yes, the farmer's market, smaller versions of Twist and Turns and La De Da. Sam's was about the same as it is now. There was Books, Strings, and Things but that was in it's autumn years. A few gift shops. Art gallery space was primarily limited to the second floor above what used to be a bagel shop.

Now, the 100 block of Campbell has become quite an artist's haven. It seems like each time I take a walk, a new gallery pops up. T&T and LDD have expanded. We have that new place that sells the pricy jeans (sorry, I can't remember the name). The Campbell Mart has pared down and cleaned up. There are dozens of buildings undergoing renovation (at varying paces, of course), but that is hopefully a sign of good things to come. Take a look at Kirk Ave. west of Jefferson. Practically the entire block is being gutted and fixed up.

We lost Carlos to the county, and there have been comings and goings (sorry to see Billy's Ritz closing soon), but we've added some great places: 202 Market, Metro, Arzu, Blue 5, Table 50, Wertz's, Trio, Tong's Thai, Martin's, Nawab, Swagat, Nico's, Wasabi and others - sorry if I left you out. Alexander's and Corned Beef are still going strong.

In spite of that, we still have a way to go: what to do with the Heironimus building, the old ABC store, the old Campbell Mart? These are large properties, and each could be a good location for a mid-sized grocery to help maintain the growing downtown population. I know I would go there from time to time if I wanted a can of spaghettio's for lunch rather than a sandwich.

Also, the truth is that a lot of the architecture downtown is just plain ugly. Either from age, neglect, or botched attempts at remodeling. Several properties should be bulldozed. I often wonder about the "Junior Lunch" on Franklin. It's been vacant for (at least) 12 years.

There are unanswered questions, as always: how will the Riverside Center affect things? Will it draw people downtown or siphon them away? Will downtown's improvement be to the detriment of other city neighborhoods? I believe strongly that we need to bring up the city as a whole, not only through population and job growth, but also through preservation of our neighborhoods (without oppressive review board policies that discourage homeowners from improving their properties. There has to be compromise.)

Still, when I compare today's downtown to that of 1995, I'm proud of the changes I've seen. Who knows how it all transpired? Who cares, really? Say what you want about city government, Darlene Burcham, or city council's supposed ineptitude. Bitch away about stadiums, amphitheaters, mountaintop hotels, streetcars and parking garages.

I don't like the parking fee proposal, either, but truth is, there is more to do downtown, people need places to park, the garages need to be maintained, and that costs money. I don't think $2 is going to deflect people to shop at Wal-mart. The experience is completely different and anyone who has experienced the city market already knows that. Besides, if you are willing to walk a few blocks, there is usually street parking available somewhere. Just circle a time or two and you'll find it. On the weekends, there is generally no time limit.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: we're getting a huge, shiny, prominent new art museum right smack in the middle of it all. OK, it's a little odd looking, but so what? It's a sign of major progress. It's a sign of a city that wants to prosper and grow. It means we are willing to put something out there that will make a casual passer-by on 581 say, "Whoa, what's that all about?" They may think it's an eyesore, but they will certainly notice it.

Great things have been happening, and we should take a moment and reflect on that. Incessant complaining does nothing but divert time and energy away from progress. City Council is trying to make decisions for a more prosperous future. If anything they are too careful and studious about making those decisions. But we should be glad we have something here to complain about. It's not like they out there passing laws about baggy pants or dirty dancing at the prom.

Promises Promises

I know, I know. I promised all sorts of changes to the site over the Labor Day weekend, and here it is the following Thursday and what do you see? The same old tired Realist. Well, the weekend was so nice that I decided to be outside as much as possible. At the pool, in the yard, at football practice (I agreed to join a touch football team. This should be great fodder for blog material. I was sore for two days.)

We watched a movie, went out to dinner, hung out with friends. No time for website design. It's coming, but it won't be this weekend either.

You see, the good folks at the Circle, along with Monkey Fuzz, are hosting the Circle The Block Party on Saturday, from 4-7, at the South Roanoke fire house lawn. My wife is helping organize the event, and I'll be involved with setup, cleanup, and whatever other chores they toss at me. If you're free, come on out for some great music and good fun!

By the way, the latest South Roanoke Circle is available. Click the link to a PDF of the current issue. Read about Monkey Fuzz in the cover article, enjoy the entertaining and informational columns throughout, and I'm in there on page 19 with some observations about airports and hotels. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Positive Attitude

I wish I had my son's positive outlook. Last night, we were driving home from the pool, last day of summer, end of a long weekend. I was glum, and I could feel the dark cloud of doom forming over my head. I don't hate Mondays or dislike my job, but I think it's a part of working regular M-F office hours. Sunday night is the end of something. When it's a three day weekend, it's worse.

Anyway, today is the first day of school for TB, so last night as I was feeling low, he says from the back seat, "Daddy?"

"Yes, T?"

"I'm going to like first grade even more than I liked kindergarten." And that's saying something, because he liked kindergarten a lot. Good for him! I wish I had that attitude.

Another example: this morning I had a 9:00 meeting. The facilitator of the meeting said, "Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend."

Snidely, I replied, "Yeah, but this is a horrible time to ask about the weekend."

To which he said, "There will be another one."

There's a lesson in there.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Rockin' Good News

Last night, LBB and I suddenly found ourselves free of child. TB wanted to have his best buddy from across the street over for a sleepover. Problem is, the buddy doesn't like to sleep over here because TB keeps him up too late. So the sleepover happened across the street.

LBB and I went downtown to Nico's for dinner. I'd give it three out of four stars. I had a scallop and pasta dish, which was tasty, but it had kalamata olives in it. They were not mixed in, but rather laid to the around the edges of the dish. I love kalamata olives, but they seemed out of place in this dish. LBB had fettuccini with asparagus and it was very tasty. I had a side of mushrooms, which seemed to have balsamic vinegar on them. I wasn't too happy with that. The crostini appetizer was fantastic. Also had a very nice bottle of chardonnay for $30. Wish I could remember what it was called.

We got home about 9:30, and miracle of miracles I was able to convince my wife to stay up and watch a movie! 9:30 is past her witching hour. So we watched Wild at Heart, which is not one of Lynch's best but an amusing film nonetheless. One thing that struck me, now that my son's front teeth are in various stages of missing or emerging: he looks a bit like Bobby Peru!