Thursday, January 31, 2008

Strong Enough?

Last week when Abigail was sick, we were watching TV downstairs. When it was time to head upstairs for bed she said, "Carry me Daddy." I tried to make excuses like, "Daddy's back hurts. You can walk." Her reply was, "Daddy, you're strong enough."

I carried her upstairs.

Profitable? Good? Necessary.

I was reading some comments on the OC Register's blog a few weeks ago. A commenter wrote that recycling plans are a waste of money. They are not profitable and must be subsidized by the government. He wrote that we are not in danger of running out of landfills, we are only in danger of running out of nearby landfills. We will just have to ship our garbage further afield in the future.


We live in a society that lives and dies by the (not so) mighty dollar. In the eyes of many, an enterprise must be profitable in order to have merit. If something is not profitable it is not worth doing. I disagree.

While making profit is necessary for enterprises to exist in the long term, a portion of those profits should be used to subsidize activities which are not profitable. Certain enterprises are not profitable but are necessary for our continued existence on this planet. While it is true that it is not profitable to recycle some items (plastics generally), the alternative is a planet filled with our refuse.

Who cares?

Our children will care. Our grandchildren will care. Our great-grandchildren will care. The people who live where we are going to ship our garbage will care.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mmmmm! VIII

About four years ago I became obsessed with baking bread. I've always been obsessed with bread but I hadn't really tried to bake it. Every week for about a month I baked a couple of loaves. I was getting pretty good at it until I made a loaf of oatmeal bread and forgot to put in the salt. It was not very good; actually it was horrible. It is amazing how a little salt can change a loaf of bread from a bland lump to a tasty treat.

For Christmas three years ago I got a Kitchen Aid Mixer, the kind with a bread hook for kneading dough. You might think that I immediately whipped up a loaf of yeasty, crusty bread. You would be wrong. I used the mixer to make pancakes but mostly it just sat on the counter next to the coffee maker. Tabitha used it quite a bit but I didn't.

Last weekend I got a bee in my bonnet. I have bread flour, whole wheat flour, and oat flour. I had the raw materials for making bread. I found a few recipes for bread but most use all-purpose flour. I prefer bread flour because it has more gluten, making the bread less crumbly. I was stressing about the flour.

And then I thought, "It's just bread. If you have the flour, yeast, liquid, salt and sugar it's going to be fine." So I modified a recipe from the Kitchen Aid recipe book. I used bread flour instead of all-purpose. I used brown sugar instead of white. I incorporated some whole-wheat flour instead of just using white. You know what? It turned out just fine.

Actually, it's probably the best bread I have yet baked. It tastes good, it has a nice crust, and it smells awesome. Abigail, who doesn't normally like crust said, "Daddy, I love this crust." The reviews are in and critics agree - the bread rules.

One thing is kind of weird though. I love cheese and I love bread. I love to eat cheese while eating bread. But I don't like cheese bread. Go figure.

We are now Wireless

Now I can use my laptop as it was intended. I'm no longer tied to the desk.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Another Thought

A baggy shirt doesn't make you look skinnier. It just makes you look like a fat guy wearing a baggy shirt.

I Was Thinking...

... it might be a little easier to run if I wasn't carrying around an extra 25 pounds.

Umm... What was the Question?

I was listening to an interview of a psychiatrist, Edward Hallowell, on the radio a while ago. He wrote a book called Driven to Distraction about adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. As I listened to his description of the characteristics of adults with ADD, I thought "that sounds like me." So I bought the book.

I started to read Driven to Distraction and then got distracted. It sat on the shelf for about a year when I decided I should finish it. It shined a light on many of the things I have felt while growing up. These are symptoms of Adult ADD from Wikipedia:

- A sense of underachievement, of not meeting one's goals (regardless of how much one has actually accomplished). Yeah.
- Difficulty getting organized. Oh, yeah.
- Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started. Where do I begin?
- Many projects going simultaneously; trouble with follow through. Yep.
- A tendency to say what comes to mind without necessarily considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark. Open mouth, insert foot.
- A frequent search for high stimulation. Not so much this one.
- An intolerance of boredom. Yes.
- Easy distractability; trouble focusing attention, tendency to tune out or drift away in the middle of a page or conversation, often coupled with an inability to focus at times. I'm sorry, what were we talking about?
- Trouble in going through established channels and following "proper" procedure. I'll do it my way.
- Impatient; low tolerance of frustration. Okay, maybe a little.
- Impulsive, either verbally or in action, as an impulsive spending of money. Maybe you should ask Tabitha.
- Changing plans, enacting new schemes or career plans and the like; hot-tempered. Not really.
- Physical or cognitive restlessness. Does a bouncing leg and drumming fingers count?
- A tendency toward addictive behaviour. If french fries are an addiction then yes.
- Chronic problems with self-esteem. Yeah.
- Inaccurate self-observation. Not me.

As a child in school I was always a step behind in the classroom. When the teacher asked me a question I usually had no idea what she had been talking about. I was lost in my own little world. Every school year I told myself that I would work really hard and get good grades. I would usually do well for the first month or so and then I would slip back into my old patterns. There was always a gap between my test scores and my grades. I tested well, particularly in reading, but had mediocre grades because I failed to turn in assignments.

I've talked to my Dad about this. As a child I remember lots of unfinished projects around the house. He was also a day-dreamer in school. I watch Abigail and how she behaves, and I see the same issues rearing their ugly heads in her. At least for Abigail we know what to look for. For my Dad and me, there was no answer to our problems other than "Pay attention," "sit still," or "if only you would try harder."

Imagine how frustrating it is for Tabitha, a highly organized, high achieving planner, to live with me. I'm unorganized, I don't plan ahead, and I procrastinate. I have trouble relating to people in social situations and am constantly saying things or behaving in ways that embarass her. She calls me a "social moth."

I look at the symptoms and they seem to fit my situation, but it is impossible to accurately diagnose a condition in yourself. I need to make an appointment with the psychiatrist, but I keep putting it off.

It's Raining

I really enjoy the rain. At least when I don't have to be outside in it. Because we receive so little rain here and always seem to be in a drought I never complain about the rain.

We've Created a Monster

Aidan thinks it's hilarious when he pretends to burp.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another Thought

While cucumber and zucchini look similar, they are not interchangeable.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's Like a Christening...

... only there's no water involved and he wasn't wearing a frilly dress. We celebrated Aidan's baby dedication at church tonight. Bill and Hillary Catling were our dedicating couple. Here are a few photos.

The Tooth Fairy...

...visited Abigail for the second time last night. This time she got a Susan B. Anthony dollar. The Tooth Fairy is very generous these days.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Like Manchester United...

... but I don't like Manchester United the same way the red part of Manchester does. I can't. I wasn't born there. I've never been to a game with my grandad, father or my mates. I didn't grow up following them through the bad times of the seventies and the glory times of the nineties. I came to my love of ManUtd late and a continent away.

Football clubs in other parts of the world are not like professional sports teams in the United States. Football clubs in England grew organically in their community. Manchester United Football Club started in 1878 as the Newton Heath Cricket and Football Club, a sports club of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. The name was changed to Manchester United Football Club in 1902. ManUtd have been playing their home matches at Old Trafford since about 1910.

I became aware of ManUtd when I was in college watching the UEFA Champions League, the European club championship. I saw players like Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Andy Cole, and Ryan Giggs. When I started watching the English Premier League consistently in 2002, I struggled with deciding which team to support. ManUtd seemed an obvious choice but I didn't want to just jump on the bandwagon.

My father-in-law is from Birmingham. I always drink coffee from a Birmingham City FC mug when I'm at their house but he isn't really a soccer fan. The only soccer game he attended as a child was an Aston Villa match. He remembers the Aston Villa supporters, in an ale soaked rage, destroying the train on the way home from the match.

I thought about supporting Hartlepool United FC, a team known for their mediocrity. They have never won any major trophies, but have also never been relegated out of the Football League. They are not good and they are not bad. I like that. The problem with a club like Hartlepool United is I would never get to see them play. They play in the lower divisions and are seldom on television.

So, being free from the constraints of geography and familial loyalty, I chose ManUtd.

I know a little about the rivalries. As a ManUtd supporter, I am supposed to hate Liverpool. I don't hate them though. I want them to lose to ManUtd every time they play but I don't hate them. I'm supposed to hate Arsenal also. Okay, I do hate Arsenal. I'm supposed to hate Manchester City FC (the blue half of the city), but I can't get too worked up about them.

I'm not from England and I'm not from Manchester. I'm not even English. I'm an American who likes watching exciting soccer. ManUtd plays exciting soccer. ManUtd has exciting players - Rooney, Tevez, Ronaldo, Giggs, Anderson, Scholes, Vidic, and Ferdinand. ManUtd has an intense, interesting manager in Sir Alex Ferguson. Sir Alex always seems as if he is going to explode. ManUtd have won a lot of trophies but only a few since I started following them. They will probably win many more.

What a View

Would you believe it if I told you the view of Mt. San Gorgonio this afternoon was stunning? The recent storm dropped a light dusting of snow starting around the 5000 foot level. The gray clouds hung around the base of the mountain shielding parts of it from view while the setting sun lit up the mountaintop in a blaze of light. The air was so clear it didn't seem like it could be real. Where was the haze we are so used to?

I was having trouble paying attention to the road it was so beautiful. I didn't have my camera but any photograph I would have taken would not have come close to capturing what we saw this afternoon. Days like this are rare here so we have to appreciate them when they come.

What's that Smell?

I just went to the bathroom and was reminded that I had asparagus for dinner.

Home Sick

Abigail picked up whatever virus is going around her school. Last weekend she had a fever so I took her to the doctor. She had a raging ear infection. She's had a fever off and on all week so I have been staying home with her. We can't risk getting the other kids at the babysitter sick.
They are starting to wonder at work if I am ever coming back.

Darn You Inner Monologue

Every time I check in at the airport I have to fight the urge to make a joke such as, "I left my bomb (or gun) at home today, thanks." Every time. So far I haven't said anything but I don't know how long I can hold out.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Our Kids Like to Exercise

Aidan and Abigail like to walk on the treadmill. Abigail walks at two miles per hour while Aidan only goes one mile per hour. He has short legs. Who needs to go outside in the rain?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Perception is (My) Reality

What number do you see? I see a bunch of dots.

It turns out that I'm colorblind. Just a little bit. You know those colored dot tests where the colored dots are supposed to make a number, they don't always make a number for me. I was kind of shocked because I've seen colors my entire life. I know the difference between red and green and yellow and blue and orange and pink.

I see 45. What do you see?

When I went to join the Navy almost 20 years ago, I scored really well on the ASVAB test (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). They were trying to get me into one of the nuclear programs. I wasn't all that interested because I wanted to be a journalist or photographer. When they found out I was slightly colorblind, they pulled those offers off the table and gave me nothing. And I still joined. What was I thinking?

I know the difference between Ferrari red and Aston Martin green. I have never mistaken a fire truck for a forest service truck. I have never attached the red wire to the green wire. But apparently I don't see these colors the way they really are. I see them through the filter of my cock-eyed mind.

I can still appreciate a cloudy sky as much as a clear blue sky. I just don't know what they really look like.

I Ran so Far Today

Okay, it was just three miles in 30 minutes on the treadmill. At least now I can say I have actually used the treadmill for a run.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Good Grief! Not Another Post About Cheese!?!

Cheese, glorious cheese. As many of you may know, I like cheese. I've stumbled across two that are now among my favorites. The first is Kerrygold Dubliner from Ireland. And then this summer I was introduced to Beecher's Flagship.

Kerrygold Dubliner travels all the way from Ireland to my supermarket. I don't know how they do it, but you can find it at your finer grocery stores. My sister, Judy, has even found it in 2 pound blocks at Costco. While a little more expensive than the store brands it is still relatively affordable.

It is yummy. Dubliner has a creamy white color with a texture similar to an aged cheddar (hard and crumbly). It tastes of grass, oak, parsnips, and sour coffee. I'm just kidding. It has a mild nutty flavor. Judy says it melts really well over pasta but I have not tried it that way yet.

The second cheese is from Beecher's, a Seattle cheesemonger in Pike's Place Market just down the way from the original Starbucks. Beecher's actually make cheese in their store. If you go at the right time you can watch through a big window as they turn milk into heaven .

Flagship is a semi-hard cheese aged for one year. The texture is crumbly but slightly softer than cheddar. It has a nice sharp taste redolent of wind-swept seaside pastures. I don't know what that means, I just made it up. Beecher's will mail you cheese if you send them money or you can do what I did. Give your sister-in-law ten dollars when she goes to Seattle and wait for her to return with eleven dollars worth of cheese. Thanks Elizabeth.

Bumper Sticker Evangelism

If you have a bumper sticker on your car that proclaims your faith, don't drive like a jerk. If your car has a sticker that reads "Jesus," "NOTW," "Blessed to be a Blessing," "Harvest," "The Grove," "I Found It," "Jesus Saves," "In Case of Rapture, Car's Yours," "My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter," or "Follow me to (Insert Church of Choice Here)" be polite and obey the law. Don't cut people off, change lanes without signalling, wave with an extended middle finger, or my personal weakness, speed.

If you choose to put a sticker on your car that proclaims the King James Version of the Bible is the only divinely inspired English Translation or one that implies real Christians only attend church on Saturdays, drive however you like. Nobody cares.

I don't have any stickers on my car.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mmmmm! VII

I love clean sheets. There is nothing better than climbing into bed on a cold night and slipping between freshly laundered sheets.

I rotate between two sets and wash them once a week. I wash the dirty sheets from the hamper and use those to make the bed when they are dry. I put the dirty sheets from the bed in the hamper to be washed the next week. That way I don't have to fold clean sheets.

You might be saying to yourself, "this guy thinks way too much about sheets." Yeah, you're right. I do. Do you have a problem with that? Should I be in the garage building something instead? Well, yeah, I do have that canoe I'm building. Maybe I should stop obsessing about sheets.

I'm going to bed. In my nice fresh, clean sheets. Good night.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I Edited a Wikipedia Entry Tonight...

... but I won't tell you which one. Ask me in private.

A Cool Vacation Idea...

... for those who like a slow pace.

Freighter Cruising

Rules We Could All Live By

I found this on the LA Times Blog.

A plan for staying alive

The (highly-unofficial) Marine Corps Rules for Gunfights are tacked to the wall at a Marine outpost in the Iraqi town of Anoh in the Euphrates River Valley. Among the rules:
1. Have a plan.
2. Have a backup plan because the first plan won't work.
3. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.
4. Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

— Tony Perry, in Anoh, Iraq

My Car

Waiting for the ferry on Orcas Island, WA.

I would love to drive a Dodge 2500 Megacab 4x4 Cummins diesel with 35 inch tires. However, I would not like to pay for the fuel on such a vehicle. So I drive a station wagon.

Yep, I'm the dad who drives a station wagon. The Station Wagon Dad is a dying breed in our country. Very common in the Sixties and Seventies, the Station Wagon Dad, like pipe smoking and dressing up for dinner, has mostly disappeared from our country. The minivan put the first nail in the coffin of the station wagon and the SUV nailed the box shut. It got to the point where one could hardly find a station wagon to buy.

I don't like SUVs because they don't really have very much space in relation to the size of the vehicle. I am fine with minivans but Tabitha would never let me buy one. So I bought a station wagon.

My station wagon has plenty of room for our family of four. It has a nice dead cow interior. It has a turbo motor that hauls a** while delivering excellent gas mileage. It's a sweet ride.

The only fly in the ointment is that I drive it too much. Between my long commute, two trips to Montana, and a trip to Seattle my station wagon has 52,000 miles on it. I've only had it for about a year and a half. I love my car so much I'm going to wear it out.

More Bodily Functions

Aidan is getting interested in bodily functions. Every time he farts he says, "poo poo." I check his diaper and it is clean. He tells our baby sitter, Liz, that he needs to go poo poo. She puts him on the toilet where he sits for ten minutes and then says "all done." No poo poo.

We can be playing at home when I notice a familiar pungent aroma. "Aidan, did you go poo poo?" "No Daddy," he replies. I check his diaper and find he has.

The other day he was in the bathroom watching me water the porcelain pot. He reached out and tried to put his hand in the stream. Needless to say, I prevented him from doing so.

He's got the basic idea down. We just need to work on the details.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Check Out My Weather Widget

North Slope, Alaska will have a heat wave this weekend. It's going to get up to 10 degrees. The North Slopians can break out the shorts and tank tops knowing their flesh won't freeze upon exposure.

Can You Say "Mmmmm!" About a Sport?

I like soccer. There, I said it. I like soccer and I'm proud. I like to play soccer, I like to watch soccer being played, and sometimes I will even watch people watching soccer being played. I have a small collection of soccer shirts in my closet. They make fun of me when I wear them to work. I don't care.

I paid $200 for a pair of soccer shoes (don't tell Tab) that I only wore for a few months before I sprained my knee and stopped playing. I wore a pair of shin guards that the cat peed on. You can't get that smell out. I have many pairs of soccer shorts in the colors of the rainbow (blue, white and black). I have long soccer socks that stretch over my knees if I don't roll them down. I have generic soccer shirts that have grass stains and sweat stains on them.

I pulled my calf muscles twice. I pulled my hamstring twice. I twisted my ankle once. I sprained my knee twice. I broke my big toe once. I got a red card for tipping a ball over the cross bar with my hand (I wasn't the goalkeeper). I broke up fights. I started fights (little ones - with words). I kicked a guy on the ankle so hard I thought I broke something. I apologized.

I wasn't particularly good. But I wasn't terrible. I could break up plays and make good passes. I scored a goal with my left foot (I was trying to cross the ball into the box). I scored a goal with my right foot (I was trying to score a goal). I probably scored an own goal ( I don't remember). I gave away at least one penalty (they didn't score, at least once). I was enthusiastic.

A Message to Our Fans

I have decided that "Antihistamine for the Soul" will no longer function as a musical entity. I would like to thank all of the fans who came to see us play. Who can forget the show at the Whisky. Or the time we were arrested in Tulsa for public indecency. It turns out you can't do that on stage. Who knew?

I would like to thank all of the people who bought our Cd's and downloaded tracks from I-tunes. Thank you.

For my Band-mates - A-dub, Micah, and our hard working manager, Elizabeth: thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys rock hard. It was an experience that I will not soon forget. I still have the scars.

I will now be embarking on a solo music project entitled "TimB's Solo Music Project". I will be exploring new musical soundscapes. I envision it as a cross between Justin Timberlake, Bjork, Dvorak, and a few other musicians whose names end in "k". The Cd will drop sometime in early 2018. Order presale copies now.

My One-Hundred and Third Post

Wow. That went by pretty quickly. Wow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sleep Like a Baby

Last week we had dinner at the Catling's. Bill and I were sitting in the computer room looking at blogs and talking about stuff. It was getting kind of late, about 9 PM. Abigail was next to us sleeping on a chair. Not "in" a chair, but on the chair. Her feet and knees were on the floor and her head was resting on the seat cushion. She was sound asleep.

Abigail will go to sleep just about anywhere. If she is tired and wants to go to sleep, she will go to sleep. It must be nice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

That's Not Appropriate

Once upon a time I was a teacher. Okay, maybe "teacher" isn't the right word to describe what I did. Once upon a time I sat in a classroom filled with 6th graders and collected a paycheck.

There was a young lady in the class who had a tendency to complain. She complained about me, her classmates, the school, the desk, the weather, the trade-imbalance with China (maybe not that one), and just about everything else.

One day I was trying to explain the lesson to her when a boy in the classroom said, "You have to speak her language - woof, woof, woof!"

I had to try very hard not to laugh.

More Greenism

We use disposable diapers for Aidan. While disposables are phenomenally absorbent, they are also a huge waste problem. They are not bio-degradable. When a future society excavates our civilization, all they will find are shiny metallized plastic discs and disposable diapers.

Aidan will probably be potty-trained before too long so I'm not too interested in looking into alternative diapering technologies. I have found a way to reduce by half the number of diapers we use.

Instead of changing his diaper every time he soils himself, I'll leave the diaper on and wait until he soils again. This won't be too much of a problem when he pees. Those diapers will hold a lot. I've changed some that seemed to weigh about 5 pounds. It will be a little messy when he poops but it will motivate him to get potty-trained.*

*The preceding post is sarcastic in tone. In no way does the author intend to make his son walk around in wet and soiled diapers in a misguided attempt to save the environment. The author will continue to change his sons soiled diapers as soon as they are discovered. The author does commit, however, to exploring alternative diapering technologies for any future children the author and his wife my acquire through natural or artificial means. The author would like to thank his readers for their patience and good-humor. The author will continue to refer to himself in the third person for the remainder of this post. The author also really likes cheese.

I Try to be Green, But...

In an effort to be a little more "green," I bought a roll of paper towels made from recycled paper. They were a little more expensive than the usual high quality name brand paper towels that we normally buy. Sometimes it costs a little more to be environmentally conscious.

The towels might be "green" but they are practically useless. They fall apart. They aren't absorbent. You end up using twice as many towels as you would of the old kind. They make me not want to use paper towels.

Maybe that's the point. Make a product so frustrating to use that the customer will just give up. That will save a lot of landfill space. Maybe I should just let the spills dry on the floor. No cloth towels to launder and no paper towels to deforest vast tracts of land and fill up landfills.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Flame War

This is the funniest comment thread I've ever read. Kudos to Brant Hansen's "Letters from Kamp Krusty."

The Fruit of My Labors

A while back Tabitha bought a small press for making prints for her classroom. The press came without a stand. Tabitha tried several ways to set it up without any success. So she commissioned me to build a stand.

I had been thinking about how to build it for a while. A long while. I'm a very conceptual person. There are many things that I think about doing that never get beyond the concept stage.
Today was the day to do it. It was time to turn concept into reality. I bought some oak from Lowe's. And then I proceeded to burn up my drill bits and saw blade. There is still smoke lingering in the garage. Oak is a very hard wood.

I finished just a few minutes ago. I hope it works.

My New Band

I just claimed a name for my band over on Adam's blog. We are "Antihistamine for the Soul." We are post-punk, neo-new-wave, electroclash, synth-pop, bluegrass.

If you play an instrument, write music, or sing drop me a line on the blog. I expect we will be selling out the new Wembley stadium by late 2008. I hear U2 is going to open for us.

It's gonna be awesome.

I'm Feeling Better Now, Thank You

My fever was gone yesterday morning but I was still feeling a little fatigued. I managed to go to church (for the second week in a row!?!) but I took a four hour nap yesterday afternoon. Today I feel great.

I'm working on a project for Tabitha right now. I would be done if my drill batteries would hold a charge. It seems that oak is a tough material to cut and drill.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Temperature is...

... 101.7. That's not a radio station. That's a fever. At least I only have three more hours at work.


Here is an article in the London Times that seeks to explain why humans are always wanting more. Interesting.

Caveman Blues

For Arthur

ManUtd 6 - NewcastleUtd 0

Running - My Occasional Mistress

I have always enjoyed running. At least I enjoy it once I motivate myself to get outside and do it. I was doing really well for a while and then the job changed. And I found excuses not to do it at home - there's a soccer game on TV, it's too cold (yeah, right), my feet hurt, blah blah blah.

I get to work about an hour early. But it's not enough time to get up to the locker room, change, go back outside, run, come back inside, shower, and get dressed for work. Excuses.

And then a thought hit me. I could drive to work in my running gear and then I would have plenty of time to go for a run. Genius, huh?

So that is what I did on Friday. I ran for a little over three miles and felt good. But there was a problem.

I left my change of underwear at home.

Fortunately I had a couple of extra pair in my locker. Crisis averted. I won't make that mistake again.

I'm getting motivated again. I renewed my goal to run a marathon before I turn 30. Okay, before I turn 40.

If Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body...

...Then I must be getting herculean. Or I might be coming down with the flu.

Those Aren't Six-Pack Abs

Those are Pony Keg abs.
Flattering photo by Abigail.

I Can Take a Good Photo Every Once in a While

Useless Bay, Whidbey Island, Washington in June 2007

Oh My Aching Back

My back has been sore for a while. I think it's because the cat sleeps between my legs at night. He pins me to the bed, and I get stuck in twisted up positions.

Some might say that my fat belly and weak abs are causing my back pain, but I choose to blame the cat.

Starry Night

I like that there is not much atmospheric light where we live. When I arrive home from work late at night when it's clear, the stars are breathtaking.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Our Time On Earth is Short

When we used to live across the street from the cemetery, I would occasionally take a walk among the tombstones. There were many tombstones from the early part of the 20th century. Tombstones of people who died in the teens, twenties and thirties. One thing that struck me was that these tombstones were rarely visited by anyone, much less family members.

We are known for only about 5 or 6 generations - our grandparents, parents, siblings and friends, children and grandchildren. A few lucky people will know their great-grandparents or great-grandchildren. Our memory will last for only about 100 years.

A few, those who become famous, will be remembered for much longer but they won't ever really be known. We can't talk to Abraham Lincoln's friends, George Washington's soldiers, or Shakespeare's family. Even for those who write, most will just fade away, forgotten in a dusty bin in a library.

My point is that we realistically have a very short time to make an impression on a very small number of people. We can influence people in positive ways or negative ways. I hope that I will have a positive influence on those people I know as my predecessors had a positive influence on me.

I never knew my great-grandfather Howard Malcolm. But I did know his son, Dan Abbott and his grandson, Dean Malcolm. I know from reading Grandpa's memoir that Howard, a Baptist preacher, wanted to serve God. He passed this on to his son, his grandson, to me, and I will pass it on to my children. I hope they will pass it on to their children and grand-children. Each generation must make this faith their own. We won't always agree on everything but we don't have to.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Knock, Knock

While we were driving home from school on Monday afternoon, Abigail decided to regale us with "knock, knock" jokes. Here are two examples:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Mountain who?
Climb a silly mountain.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Sky who?
Sky blue sky.

Every joke she told was along those lines. You would have thought they were the funniest jokes in the world from all of the cackling coming from Aidan and Abigail in the back seat.

My Son has Unusually Large Hands

An Amusing Cheese Anecdote

Here is a quote from Grandpa's memoir about some food ordered from Montgomery Ward after World War I:

The second item was a five pound block of cheese. It was wrapped in foil and had a violent orange color. On its wrapper it proclaimed that it was made of sheep's milk, in Belgium. Now my Father would eat almost anything if it was labeled "food," but one taste of this cheese shattered his record! Now, there was a roving greyhound in our neighborhood, which regularly canvassed our back yard for possible snacks. Mother, not knowing what else to do with this "disaster" put it out in the backyard, in the hope that the dog might dispose of it. Which he did: I looked outside the window just in time to see him drag it off to one side, dig a hole, and bury it!

I would say that Belgium is not really known for its cheese. Now if it were chocolate? Mmmmm!

To All my Democratic Friends

This Republican voter would be willing to vote for a Democrat in the 2008 Presidential election. However, that Democrat is not Hillary.

Do the right thing on February 5th.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I Went to the Dentist Today...

... to have a cavity filled. Without anesthesia.

That's the kind of guy I am.


Before my Grandpa died he wrote down his memories of growing up. My aunt and uncle typed and edited the hand-written pages and then gave bound copies to all the family. I decided it was time to read it. Grandpa wrote an inscription on the inside cover: "To Tim and Tabitha. We have enjoyed living this life together. Grandma/Grandpa Brown." My eyes misted a little when I read that.

Born in Kansas in 1905, Grandpa saw a lot of changes in his long life. He lived on various small farms and houses in Kansas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York. Many did not have electricity or indoor plumbing. He wrote about using a privy and drawing water from a well. In many ways, life on the farm in the early part of the 20th Century was the same as what you read in "The Little House on the Prairie."

Grandpa was an engineer who had an eye for all things mechanical from a very early age. He provided descriptions of threshing machines, corn shuckers, water pumps, and many other mechanical devices. These devices were powered by hand, horses, or steam. Automobiles and tractors were very rare. They didn't have television, radio, video games, or the Internet, but they still managed to survive.

I never knew Grandpa as anything but a senior citizen. I was surprised that his mother called him Danny. My Grandpa, "Danny," was once a young boy who played games with his friends, loved to read, and had childhood crushes. He was more than the gentle white-haired man I knew who wore flannel shirts, drove an old VW bus, and could build anything. I am now even more grateful for the time I got to spend with him.

Grandpa has been gone for several years now. I still miss him.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Another Thought

Switching to Diet Coke is not an effective weight loss plan.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I Went to Church

Because of my schedule I rarely go to church. I was off work yesterday so I went for the first time in several months. I had read our pastor's e-mail about the weekend services and was prepared to be disappointed. It sounded lame. You see, I am deeply cynical.

What I got instead was a metaphorical punch in the face. The sermon was "Restored: to Live Anew." A singer named Sylvia Lange was helping to lead worship and then she gave her testimony. She spoke about how she had tried to fill the hole in her life with work, relationships, and "church." She told about a night when she wanted to die. She went to a neighbor's house (who she didn't know) and spent the night talking to the husband and wife. About this point in her testimony I lost it.

I was trying very hard to keep my composure. I try not to cry in church, because... well... um... because I'm a cynical a--hole. I always pretend that everything is okay when I'm in church. I put on the smile and crank up the charm. I wouldn't want the people at church to know that I am filled with doubt and anger. So I just pretend everything is okay.

Tabitha leaned over while Sylvia was speaking and said, "You look completely bored." I wasn't bored. I was just trying not to lose it completely.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Another Thought

When Tabitha concedes that I'm correct during an argument, I shouldn't gloat. It's not classy.

Even though I'm almost never correct.

Another Thought

Ice cream is not health food. But it sure is good.

Mmmmm! VI

I love asparagus. It is such a primitive vegetable. It's just a stalk. But when you drizzle a little olive oil over it, add a dash of salt and pepper, and then grill it over some hot coals you have something truly special. I have had some fresh cream of asparagus soup that was really good. Canned asparagus is not so good but the fresh stuff, wow!

I does make your pee smelly though.

Ouch, That Hurt

Not too long ago, I was running three or four days a week for 4 miles. I was losing weight and getting fit. And then my job changed. Now I sit at a desk all day.

Today, I got to work early so I decided to go on a short run. I discovered, during the course of my run, that I am now fat and out of shape. My knees hurt and my back was sore. I coughed for three hours after.

I wonder if I am fat because of all my favorite foods - cheese, beer, chocolate, french fries, and pancakes?

No, that can't be the reason.

Another Thought

If your wife is angry, don't tell her to "calm down." This will only make her angrier.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Abigail's Cousins Come for a Visit

The Brookman's are spending the night with us before heading back up to Montana. We enjoyed dinner and then retired to the garage to play ping-pong.
It's hard to play when you're giggling so much.

I think they're ready for bed.

A Correction

In my previous post "Mmmmm! V" I began by discussing my love for pancakes. I then changed tack and started discussing syrup.

For this, I apologize.

The post was not up to my usual standard of writing. I will endeavor to prevent posts of this nature in the future. Once again, my deepest regrets.

I do like pancakes though.

A Thought for 2008

I'll bet the Indians weren't too happy when my ancestors snuck into this country in the 1600s. They brought disease and alcohol with them, abused and exploited the natives, and didn't share the same values.