Monday, February 28, 2005

Tech Tip of the Day

When preventing nuclear power plants from melting down, simply type:


Then switch to Channel 11. That should work.

Caution: Does not work with hydroelectric plants

The Squirrels In My Yard Are Conspiring Against Me

The squirrels in my yard are conspiring against me.
I know that they're watching me walk.
I go to the mailbox to get today's paper,
While they all talk their chattery talk.

Beady eyes flicker as I step through the leaves,
Their minds gauge and ponder my gait.
"Will he go left today? Go right? Try to sprint?"
The little fiends wonder with hate.

Up in the treetops, tiny pencils are drawing,
Charts of my daily routines.
I don't know this for certain, though I'm sure what I feel,
It's the reason I'm weak in the knees.

I find the newspaper, little protection that it is,
And make plans to return to my home.
Their plans, however, are much bigger and bolder
And require things like plastine and chrome.

But for now things are quiet, they nibble and pause,
Storing up knives and meat cleavers.
But for all their malevolance, still I must say,
Thank God they're just squirrels and not beavers.

School Uniforms

A Knoxville News Sentinel reader wrote a letter to the editor yesterday regarding the question of school uniforms in Knox County Schools.

An excerpt:
"I feel students should be allowed to express their individual personality and style of clothing. By allowing students to express themselves in a personal way, it will support building individual character and independence."
I try my best not to take seriously letters-to-the-editor since most are written by people who are more at home yelling at those damn squirrels to stop watching them, but this one caught my eye in its emphasis on a societal norm...

Apparently this writer feels the only, or at least the main way that students can express their individuality is through fashion. Or in most cases, the color, style and messages on the clothing they wear. I read this and just shake my head at the shallowness of how society considers our children.

BrainyBoy and Tink go to a private school, and have worn uniforms since day 1. It's basically a grey or white polo shirt, with navy pants or shorts. In Tink's case, they also have the option of a navy blue jumper over white shirt. In the older grades they can wear khaki's with white Oxford shirts. There are some small variations such as sweater vests and sweatshirts as well, depending on the weather.

In the 4 years that we've been involved in that school, I've seen more individuality in those kids than I would have in most any other non-uniformed elementary school in town. Children, and adults, use their minds to be individuals. They use their hearts, they use their minds, talents, skills, wit, creativity....

I understand that people might be hesitant at such a drastic change in the culture of the schools. I know that when I was in school, the idea of wearing uniforms would've been met with resistance simply because it was change. But don't push the "freedom of clothing choice = individuality" idea, because it's a cop out. Our schools, and our kids, need real avenues to express themselves, and fashion is not where they should be directing their energies.

Parents, how know, fighting for better educational opportunities for your kids..fighting for more time for yourselves to spend with them outside the classroom. Not fighting against what you perceive as:
[looking] like we all are in a prison chain gang.
Read his last quote and you'll see where the hyperbole hits:
Allow us all be united and stand for our individual rights of appearance. Let us now draw a line to this display of dictatorship and vote "no" to implementing school uniforms.
Ok, now - on to Proffits!

Sleep Study - Part 2

...If anyone is actually interested. Ok, whatever.

So I close my eyes - I'm lying flat on my back, covered with wires like a cheap stereo. My arms are to my sides, palms down on the bed. I'm a bit afraid to move, although she said I was free to turn over whenever I liked.

Due to the early hour, plus being a little intimidated as to what the night would be like I didn't fall asleep right away. After about a half hour, I did.

The night passed surprisingly well, and quickly. I woke once out of an intense dream, blinked, and wondered where I was briefly. I also wondered whether they were recording that particular dream...of course, I knew that was impossible but...I hoped not anyway. *ahem*

Back to sleep a minute or so later. The passage of time was difficult to see, since there wasn't a clock in the room and no light through the curtains in the window. I woke a couple of times coughing, still shaking the vestiges of my cold, and noted that I was breathing clearly.

Finally I woke out of another fairly intense dream that had to do with me driving a school bus full of UT Band students on the way to a football game, stopping at my son's former day care for a visit (?), realizing there was a child inside who had died and was wrapped up in a blanket on the floor (teachers response: "Oh well, these things happen..") and then I was trying to back the bus out of a parking place and ended smashing into a couple of cars. I woke, blinked my eyes a few times then saw the bright light of the hallway as my tech came into the room to wake me.

It was 7am, and she had to wait until I was out of my dream state before she could wake me - which meant they were tracking my brain states as I dreamed.

She had a piece of advice for me: don't sleep on my back, and I'l sleep better - thanks, I kind of already guessed that - but interestingly I felt as if I'd slept pretty well.

I got up and sat in a chair while she removed all the hookups. After changing clothes and filling out a post-sleep survey, I was on my way. Of course, I'm still picking bits of adhesive out of my hair...

I'll have to go back this week for the next phase, where I'm fairly certain I'll have to wear what's called a CPAP - a device worn on the face that's used to open the nasal airways while sleeping - and if there's any interest I can write about it, too.

Question of the Day

Why, exactly, do your dashboard lights need a dimmer?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sleep Study - Part 1

I took off work a bit early on Thursday, went home and rested for a little while then left for the hospital. After picking up some dinner, I arrived at the Fort Sanders Sleep Disorders Center at about 7:20pm.

I was instructed to bring some cotton pajamas, snacks and a drink if I wanted, and whatever meds I might need to take. Overnight bag in hand, I made my way from the parking garage through the hospital, then across the crosswalk to the Professional Building.

As I walked in the door of the center, I noticed "QUIET - SLEEP STUDY IN PROGRESS" signs peppered about the area. The office was deserted, though still well lit. As I stood patiently waiting for someone to show up, a young tech appeared and asked my name. I gave it to him, and he asked me to follow him back into the testing area. I was a bit surprised there wasn't more necessary to check my ID or insurance info, but he eventually led me through the halls to a testing room. It was pleasantly furnished, with a normal full-sized bed, a TV on the wall, a standard hospital chair and a lamp. The tech told me to make myself at home and another tech would be in to see me shortly. I tossed my bag on the chair and settled on the bed to wait.

Eventually the tech who was to coordinate my study came in. Her name was Jackie, and she reminded me of the character "Sam" on ER. She explained that she'd be hooking me up shortly, that she had another person to take care of and then she'd be in for me. She reiterated that I just take it easy and it wouldn't be too long. This was about 7:45 or so. I lounged and watched TV for a while. I also went ahead and changed into my pajamas.

Around 8:45, she came in and said she was ready. We went down the hall to a computer room where I sat in a chair and she attached to each of my lower legs electrodes with trailing wires. The wires ran up the pajamas legs, out the waistband, up my t-shirt and around the back to hang. These were to measure my leg movement during sleep, as a number of people have tendencies to kick and move their legs around. Next was a set of electrodes on either side of my upper chest. Their wires too slung over my shoulders and down the back. I wasn't certain what these were for, possibly for heart rate or respiration.

Then the fun part - my head.

There's a particular type of adhesive they use for these, which is a cold, goopy substance. She put the adhesive in about 7-8 different locations around my head, then after affixing the electrodes she used a compressed air device to blow really, really cold air on each of the nodes. Did I say it was really, really cold?? These devices would keep records of my brain wave patterns, mouth movement, eye movement and other actions during sleep.

A unit was placed around my face and under my nose to measure breath. It was actually a holder, for the actual measurement device would be placed right before I went to sleep. I wished I had shaved off my mustache before this, because it tickled :)

Two elastic straps were placed around my chest and around my abdomen to measure my breathing while asleep. They would expand and contract with me while I breathed and when matched with the breathing pattern in my nose and mouth would give them an idea how much oxygen was actually making it into my lungs.

A friend of mine said they heard it described as being wired up like a cheap stereo, and it was true. A metal box collected the ends of all the wires, and I could carry it around with me if I wanted to be mobile. I felt like a Borg as I walked back to my room, assimilating random people as I went. At that point it was around 9:15, so since I don't normally go to sleep until around midnight I told her I'd watch TV for a while, then read to fall asleep. I watched "The Apprentice", which was enough to put anyone to sleep.

(Next: Good night...)

Your First Favorite Song

I was eating at a restaurant for lunch today (ed. Where else would you eat - the dry cleaners? Shaddup.) and it was golden 70's day on the radio. Not only did I hear the Theme from "Shaft!" (can you dig it?) and the Theme from "The Partridge Family" (can you dig it?), but I heard an old favorite, "Smoke from a Distant Fire" by The Sanford-Townsend Band.

Not only was it an old favorite, it was my first favorite. Way back in May, 1977 my best friend and I heard WRJZ 62 in Knoxville (then a pop station) was giving away a number of sets of two free tickets to a special sneak-preview showing of a new science fiction movie. This movie (say it with me) was Star Wars - no bloody V, VI, I, II or III, Special Edition or none, but the original.

So my friend and I spent all our free time listening to the radio station, hoping against hope and dialing against dial that one of us would make it through and win them. Lo and behold on May 24, 1977 - one day before it opened nationwide and changed the world - we were the first ones in the theatre. (For all you old Knoxvillians, it was at the old Cedar Bluff Theatre, near where McDonalds is on Cedar Bluff Rd and I believe where stands now Dale's Winning Edge golf store at the corner of Cross Park Dr and Cedar Bluff).

I digress.

Anyway, for all the time we listened to the radio that month, "Smoke from a Distant Fire" became the first "pop" song that was a favorite. As a matter of fact, when I hear it I get sense memory of Happy Joe's Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor, rec league basketball games and all the other things I did when I was a kid.

What was your "first" favorite song?

Sleep Center

I'll write about my experiences later tonight. You'll have to drop by then.

Suffice to say it was...different. And sticky.

Friday's Feast

Feast Thirty-Seven

Appetizer - Name something that makes you scream.

The Dinosaur ride at Walt Disney World. This ride is an immersive jeep trip through the jungles of the late Cretaceous period, just before the landing of the huge meteor that wipes out the dinosaurs. You're riding around in the near dark, animatronic dinos all around, when right at the end a Carnatours bursts out of the bushes next to your car, leans down and roars right at you. I happened to be on the side of the jeep just under his jaws - and I couldn't help it. I screamed like a 2-year-old. It was great :)

Seriously, if you want a taste of what it's like, go to the link above and watch the 30-second movie clip that autoplays. The part I'm talking about is right at the end - you'll know it when you see it...

Soup - Who is a musician you enjoy listening to when you want to relax?

Jimmy Buffett or James Taylor

Salad - What was the last book you purchased?

Higher Authority by Stephen White, which I'm just about finished with. Course I'm in the middle of about four others...

Main Course - If you could live one day as any historical figure, who would it be, and what would you do?

"Ok, Al. Tell Ziggy I'm reading to go Leaping again..."

A couple of possibilities: 1) One of the shepherds in the field that not only got to see the baby Jesus, but also the heavenly host proclaiming his birth. 2) Any of the signers of the Declaration of Independance. 3) Paul McCartney, when The Beatles debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show. 4) Al Michaels, getting to call the Miracle on Ice. And I don't even like hockey...

Dessert - Tell about a time when you were lost. Where did you end up? How long did it take you to get back to where you were going?

When I was in sixth grade I went, as a lot of other kids did at that time (circa 1977), to Washington DC with the AAA-Sponsored Safety Patrol trip. I and my friends were visiting the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and I got separated. It was an odd feeling - I was alone in Washington DC, hundreds of miles away from home, but in exactly the place I would like to get lost in. I finally caught up with them down near the huge stuffed Wooly Mammoth they have in the rotunda. It's still there, isn't it? It was scary and exhilerating at the same time...

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Back at Work, and Sleepy

I'm back at work today, relieving the tomb-ness that results when either myself or Hatamaran are not in our offices. Feeling a bit better...I could've stayed home another day -- I've got app. 1,441 hours of sick time built up -- but the accumulated work that builds up while I'm away from my desk is not worth the extra day of couch-hugging. So here I am.

Plus, I have my sleep study tonight. At 7:30pm, I'm scheduled to show up with my cotton pajamas (not actually on at that moment, I'm assuming), snacks, drink, this book and hopefully a little less illness than I have now.

We're trying to determine whether I have sleep apnea, and if so how severe or non-severe. According to reports published on the AP by my wife, I snore at night. A real honker, apparently. Also, there are moments during sleep where I stop breathing abruptly for several seconds at a time (those moments where I've wandered into a dark alley in a dream, no doubt), then suddenly recover. I don't recall these moments, but I suppose we'll find out if they're true.

I'm stuffy, though, and still cough-y and congested-y, so I hope it won't disrupt the results. If they need another go-around, I'm already scheduled to go back again next week. I'll blog about the experience tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ugh. Me Home.

Sick. Sneezing, aching, stuffy head. Suddenly degenerated to cave man. Must fit stubby neandrethal fingers onto keyboard.

Play good, people.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Long Hot Bath...?

This is the weekend when everyone in Knoxville needed to take a long, hot bath. Rain, cold, sloggy weather.

Unfortunately, not time for such nonsense. Too much to do, too little time to do it in.

Besides, my legs are too long to fit in a bathtub comfortably anymore anyway....

Friday, February 18, 2005

Friday's Feast

Feast Thirty-Six

Appetizer - Name 2 things you do that you consider beneficial to your health.

1) I've started exercising and working out. I feel better already.

2) I don't smoke and don't drink.

Soup - If you made a New Year's resolution, how's it going so far?

I didn't make any resolutions...

Salad - Name something that has happened lately that bothers you.

I haven't been able to do any theatre in almost two years, and that bugs me. I want to get back on a stage.

Main Course - What is your favorite quote, and who said it?

"We are the music makers, We are the dreamers of dreams" (Arthur O'Shaughnessy)

Dessert - What do you collect?


No, seriously...

I don't really collect anything unless it's DVD's of old 70's Saturday Morning TV shows.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Road Rage

Road rage led to man being shot in leg (Knoxville News Sentinel - Registration Required)

Sometimes these things just write themselves.
"A case of road rage left a Clinton man with a gunshot wound to his lower left leg early Wednesday morning, Oak Ridge Police Department Lt. Alan Massengill said.


James E. King, 35, of Oak Ridge, admitted he shot [Joseph David Early, 42] with a 9mm handgun shortly after the Clinton man vandalized his 1988 Volkswagen Jetta."
Notice it was after...not before, or during, but after.
"Early jumped out of his car at the intersection of Melton Lake Drive and Oak Ridge Turnpike, broke both side windows on King's car and dented the driver's side door, Massengill said.

King shot Early as he was walking back to his vehicle, the lieutenant [Oak Ridge Police Department Lt. Alan Massengill] said."
Wow, it's a good thing Mr. King had a gun with him in the car. Otherwise Early might've actually made it back to his car without being shot. Was King trying to arrest him for vandelism on his own? If so, I thought it was in the handgun owner's creed to always shoot to kill, and not to disable. Either that or he's a bad shot. Or...well, see below.

Now, benefit of the doubt - Early may have been going for his own gun in the car for all I know. But at that point, King didn't seem to know this....and shot him anyway.

I wonder if he was trained in how and when, and when not to use a firearm? Could this legally be called self-defense?

I'm also going to assume for the sake of argument that both men were probably drunk off their skunks, and if you read the whole article for the details of the "chase" I think it's likely. Again, I don't know for sure. But that makes King possessing and using a gun even more frightening.

Had King shot Early while the attack/vandalism was going on I could understand it a bit more. But after he'd given up and was leaving...that sounds more like a shooting motivated by anger and vengeance than self-defense.

Nothing's More Important Than the Team

A bit from Howard Dean's first staff meeting as head of the DNC:
"He said that to compete and beat the GOP, these investments in people and organizations need to be made, and we will beat Republicans because they are a top-down organization that does not trust the voters - but we do."
Emphases mine.

But don't you think, Republican or Democrat alike, the desire to "beat" the other guys is what keeps us constantly at each others' throats?

Are we're finally acknowledging that this culture of political competition is nothing more than a big football game where winning is all that matters - regardless of common sense, patriotism and pragmatism?

I personally think it's the worst thing in the world that we can do now.

So many people choose up political sided and remain loyal to them like they do their favorite college or NFL teams, and God help anyone who says or does anything bad against that team.

How many people stick with Alabama, SMU, and Florida after all their recruiting/NCAA scandals? How many still vehemently deny their team ever did anything wrong, and that it was the "other guys" fault in the first place.

That's the way Democrat/Republican politics is now, and we're all too stubborn and proud to change it, much less admit it to ourselves.

This is not some stupid sport, people. It's not a game. It's real life, and if you believe in this kind of rhetoric you'd better start growing up, hanging up the cleats and living in the real world.

Volunteer Tailgate Party - February 2005

Thomas of Newsrack is hosting the latest Volunteer Tailgate Party, a monthly compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade.

This month, he's also compiled some of the best RTB posts of the year 2004, so it's, like, a double dip of bloggy goodness.

Go visit! Click the Links! Now!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bet You Think You're Funny, Ha Ha...

GQ counts down history's 100 Funniest Jokes

(caution: some naughty ones are included)

Here a couple good ones that I had never heard before:

#13 - A guy meets a hooker in a bar. She says, "This is your lucky night. I’ve got a special game for you. I’ll do absolutely anything you want for $300, as long as you can say it in three words." The guy replies, "Hey, why not?" He pull his wallet out of his pocket, and one at a time lays three hundred-dollar bills on the bar, and says, slowly: "Paint…my…house."

#53 - I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. "Well, there's so much to live for!" "Like what?" "Well... are you religious?" He said yes. I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?" "Christian." "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant ? "Protestant." "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" "Baptist" "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" "Baptist Church of God!" "Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off. (Emo Philips)

"#67 - I bet the main reason the police keep people away from a plane crash is they don’t want anybody walking in and lying down in the crash stuff, then, when somebody comes up, act like they just woke up and go, "What was that?!" (Jack Handey)"

Plus one of my old favorites:

#26 - A guy has a talking dog. He brings it to a talent scount. "This dog can speak English," he claims to the unimpressed agent. "Okay, Sport," the guys says to the dog, "what’s on the top of a house?" "Roof!" the dog replies. "Oh, come on..." the talent agent responds. "All dogs go ‘roof’." "No, wait," the guy says. He asks the dog "what does sandpaper feel like?" "Rough!" the dog answers. The talent agent gives a condescending blank stare. He is losing his patience. "No, hang on," the guy says. "This one will amaze you. " He turns and asks the dog: "Who, in your opinion, was the greatest baseball player of all time?" "Ruth!" goes the dog. And the talent scount, having seen enough, boots them out of his office onto the street. And the dog turns to the guy and says "Maybe I shoulda said DiMaggio?"

This Just In...

Game Off! NHL season canceled
"The NHL canceled what little was left of the season Wednesday after a series of last-minute offers were rejected on the final day of negotiations."
This development has left America stunned, as millions of sports fans all ask the same burning question:

"What's the NHL?"

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

That's No Moon....It's a---wait, never mind. It's a moon.

Saturn's moon Mimas bears an uncanny resemblance to a popular fictional space station:

Photos were taken recently by the Cassini spacecraft in its Saturn flyby.

Stories here and here.

Early reports of small, furry creatures living on Saturn have proved to be false.

I, for one, welcome our new Imperial Overlords...

I've Got a Beeeeeellion Dollars For You...

Why do these "long lost relative from Nigeria who used to be a deposed king but was killed in a fiery helicopter crash in the Congo and now his heirs need your help to smuggle his fortune out of the country for the low low price of only $10,000" spam email's never get caught in a spam filter?

Yahoo's spam filter is great - very rarely do I ever get any unwanted email in my inbox. But when I do, invariably it's one of these kinds.

I will admit, they are pretty creative and sometimes make for good reading.

Oh, and if you never read the account of how a guy turned the tables on one of these spammers, go here and follow the links at the top of the post called "Catching Up". It's a great set of stories where a gentleman pretended to be a disgruntled housewife and actually took the spammer up on his offer. Hijinks ensued...

The Sounds of Silence...

Michael Silence's Knoxville News Sentinel blog "No Silence Here" has moved here"

Adjust your links accordingly. RTB Blogroll has been updated.

Monday, February 14, 2005

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Upgrade Released

Yesterday morning, approximately 12:01 am, BrainyBoy v9.0 was released. The new version promised to be an improvement over the old version 8 in many ways - including:
  • cleanliness (self and room)
  • temperment, toward parents especially
  • not beating up his sister quite so much
  • less time on the GameBoy, more reading books
  • will solve world peace and hunger, and bring about harmony and prosperity to all mankind before the end of the year
(we're still working on that last improvement)

The new upgrade should prove to be more efficient that previous versions, and go to bed earlier and easier, get up sooner and actually clean up after his hamburger wrappers.

Unfortunately, this upgrade is a prototype model and is not available to the general public. His newfound maturity has made him available to anyone wanting a good singer and actor for a 9-year-old boy in movies that will pay him and his parents big bucks. Like a remake of Bugsy Malone, the Broadway stage version of Newsies, or perhaps Indiana Jones' new son, "Tennessee Jones". Fees are negotiable.

(Note - if the producers of a "Newsies" Broadway musical need someone to play the Bill Pullman role, I'm available)

Congratulations to the entire BrainyBoy v9.0 production team, and here's to success in many future upgrades to come.

Oh yes, and Happy Birthday BB :)

Match Made in Heaven

This guy, meet this guy.

I'm sure you'd have lovely conversations...

I'm The Media Guy

I'm starting to become The Media Guy here at Healthcare Central.

At work, we recently bought a new SOTA video camera to use in shooting stock footage, interviews, and other video features. These primarily have been used in our interactive kiosk at West Town Mall, but lately we've been shooting for other things. TV commercials are becoming more called for, and I've been out lately taping participants training for the 2005 Knoxville Marathon.

Today was a first - a press conference was called to demonstrate a new robotic surgery device, and I was asked to not only video the event for later broadcast on our local PBS affiliate, but run mikes to all six speakers at the event, and integrate the sound into the camera.

Now I've run sound and used sound board for years in theatre and choir, so I certainly know my way around the various switches, toggles and displays. But today was a first in that I'd never used external audio for the video camera.

So there I was at 8:45 am this morning, lugging in a rented 12-channel mixer, the video case, tripod and bag 'o assorted gear. I met Teresa/Hatamaran (who was taking still pictures of the event, and also uses the video gear a good deal) to begin setting up.

The press conference started at 10:00 am, and it wasn't until 9:45 that I'd worked out all the bugs and actually gotten an audio signal :) From there on, the event went smoothly and I got some great footage.

Trials by fire are never fun while they're going on, but it feels good after knowing you can take on a new project and succeed.

However, there's the old saying - nothing succeeds like success. I now seem to not only be the Website Coordinator, but I pretty much the new Media Guy. And I have a feeling I'm going to be asked to do this again someday :)

The Name Game

An interactive website charting the history of peoples' names and their popularity over the last century here.

One of my candidates for Coolest Website Ever.

(Hat Tip: No Silence Here)

Friday, February 11, 2005

What Do You Get...

...when you cross:
  1. scads of junk food

  2. several 2-liter bottles of soda

  3. DVD's, Gameboys, iPods, lightsabers and footballs

  4. Four hyperactive nine-year-olds over for BrainyBoy v8.98's birthday party sleepover
Give up?



Friday's Feast

Feast Thirty-Five

Appetizer - What do you want for Valentine's Day?

All I really want is some quality quality time with my wife. Free from sick kids, work, school, church... Dinner, movie...whatever.

Soup - If you could change the color of something you own, what would it be and which color would you make it?

I love green, and my car is a kind of lightish green...but I'm a bit over it. I'd love to get a new one, or paint it something else. What other things do people own that are specific colors? Their hair? Their house?

Salad - What's your favorite day of the week and why?

For some reason my favorite day's always been Thursday. I don't know why - I think at one time all the good TV shows came on Thursday or something.

Main Course - What excuse do you use most often?

Ok, so you're going to force me to say it. All right... the worst excuse I use is that it was somebody else's fault. "Well, if they'd just been more on top of things and given me the material sooner, the project wouldn't have been late" (disregarding the amount of time I procrastinated on it).

Dessert - Name something or someone you feel sorry for.

I feel sorry for people that are so stuck in tradition, or pride, or cowed by those with stronger wills that they are unable to clearly think through issues and make clear, reasoned decisions for themselves.

I'm guilty of it myself, sometimes.

These past two years have seen intense partisan debates on a multitude of topics: war, terror, presidents, economy... the battle lines are clearly drawn. But so many people on both sides are where they are simply because: a) They always have been, just like their parents were and everyone they know, b) I made this choice a long time ago and to suddenly change my mind and adopt a different viewpoint would put my intelligence or judgment into question, or c) all the cool kids are doing it, and it feels good.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

You Know It's Really Cold When...'re out shooting footage for a commercial your company is putting together, and as you're filming a dad wheeling his 8-month-old twins around the park in 30-degree weather you realize you can no longer feel your fingers. This renders you unable to press the RECORD button on the video camera.

Breezy, frigid and cold.

Or, as I was working with Tink on her French the other night (yes, French. In kindergarten):

Il fait froid - It's cold.

Il neige - It's snowing.

And to addd my own embellishment:


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Confessions of a Salty Mind II

A couple years ago, not long after The Inn opened, I commiserated with you about my nasty, nasty habit. I eat too many potato chips.

I gave up potato chips, tortilla chips, cheetos, cheese curls, cheese crunchies, cheesy poofs and Funyons for Lent in 2003. I made it, too. Not only was it good for my body, it was good for my soul.

Last year at this time I was getting ready to travel to Florida for an out-of-town music directing job, so I knew it would be very difficult to make sure I had enough to snack on eat. Therefore I chose not to pursue a Lenten decision at that time.

This year is different - I'm home with no major plans and no excuses. I'm doing it again. Starting today, Wednesday, February 9, 2005 I can have no more chips until Easter. That's about 47 days. 47 l-o-o-o-n-g days.

But that's not all. I'm thinking of taking this one step further. I'm thinking of giving up caffeine as well. I know it would do my body good to cut back on it - the only hitch is this afternoon I have a consult with a Sleep Physician to figure out if I have a sleep apnea.

Yes, I snore. And apparently, quite loudly. Laura says I have several episodes at night where I apparently stop breathing for a few moments, then restart breathing rather explosively. So after a number of months of cajoling, I'm going to investigate it.

What does this have to do with cutting out caffeine for a month and a half? Well, you know what effect caffeine has on the body, and I'm afraid if I suddenly cease intake, it will disrupt my normal patterns and interfere with the sleep study. So I'll ask the doc today what he thinks - if he doesn't believe it will make a difference, I'll start the caffeine tomorrow.

I realize that you don't give up certain things for Lent just for diet or physical enhancement - that it's a personal covenant between yourself and God, and a character test. However, there's nothing wrong with killing two birds with one stone, hm?

I'll be chronicling the Sleep study in the blog, as it will likely require I stay the night at a Sleep Clinic for observation. I'll be napping with the electrodes on my head, as my brain turns to mush. Well, that happens every day so it shouldn't be much different.

So, here we go again. Goodbye, Lays. So long, Ruffles. Manana, Munchos.


There's always crackers....

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

TV Tuesday

Week 42: The Super Bowl

It's the biggest spectacle in all of sports--the Super Bowl. It's more than just a game, it's the pre-game, half-time show, post-game report and the coveted post-Super Bowl spot to pump up a show. And let's not forget the commericals.

This week, we turn our attention to...the Super Bowl.

1. How much of this year's Super Bowl did you watch? Do you watch any of the pre-game hype?

Very little. Watched a bit of the second half, but since I was interested in neither team and didn't get invited to any Super Bowl parties I didn't pay much attention.

I did tape it, so I'll be going back later to watch whichever commercials they say were decent...

I watched none of the pre-game.

2. What was your favorite commercial during the Super Bowl? Least favorite?

Haven't seen them yet - but I did see the one about the guys jumping out of the airplane after the case of beer on the Today show Monday morning. That was great :)

3. Did you like the half-time show?

I watched a little of McCartney singing "Live and Let Die" (I love that song) and "Hey Jude" (I like that one, too).

4. What's your favorite food to eat while watching the Super Bowl?

Same as for any other football game - my wife's special Gameday queso cheese and sausage dip.

~ BONUS ~ A lot has been made over the years about the post-Super Bowl slot to highlight or launch TV shows. It was the post-Super Bowl spot that brought us the A-Team and the Wonder Years. Do you stay up to watch the post-Super Bowl shows? What is the most memorable post-Super Bowl show you've seen?

Probably the best post-Super Bowl show was the hour-long Friends with the return of Marcel the Monkey, and Brooke Shields. I've seen others that were just plain bad. I taped the Simpsons and will watch it tonight.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Force Will Be With Him...Always

Sunday, I kid you not...

In the newspaper listings for local births - a couple gave birth to a little boy. The little boy's last name was, let's say, Smith-Jones.

His name?

Anakin Skywalker Smith-Jones

I weep for his future.

Actually, that's pretty cool. In about 18 years, his parents will have twin grandchildren!

And the Band Plays On

Apparently I'm #1 or thereabouts on Google for Faeries Aire and Death Waltz

Google search for Faeries Aire and Death Waltz

The Continuing Crisis

When this current flu crisis in East Tennessee is eventually over, I would really like to see some reliable statistics on how many people who got flu shots eventually came down with the flu, and how severe it was.

Each year I hear anecdotal evidence that the shots didn't do much to protect people, usually because the wrong strain was antipated. But I think it would be important to know this so we can determine how useful flu shots actually are.

Blog Pet Peeves

As I've been surfing around using BlogExchange, et al, I've noticed a disturbing trend.

I won't assume to be the world's greates blog template designer. I mean, hey, just look around... But I do design regular websites for a living, and you pick up a few things.

There's one thing that will make me jump right past your site without a second glance. And I'm sure I'm not alone:

A huge graphic header that takes up the whole screen.

I know a lot of people out there are wonderful graphic artists, and love to show off their craft. But a blog should be an information source, and if I have to scroll down even a little just to find an entry, I'm moving on. If you want us to see your handiwork, that's great - link to it, or feature it on down the page. But not at the top. Headers should be understated, not overstated.

Agree? Disagree? Pelt me with rocks and garbage?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

And the Fun Just Keeps Coming

Do you remember the old Agatha Christie story, "Ten Little Indians"? Ten people are invited to be guests at a mysterious mansion on a distant island, and one by one they are all killed off until only one is left...

I kind of feel that way myself. First BrainyBoy v8.95 got sick, then Tink. Friday Laura called me on the way home from a meeting in Oak Ridge with the grand and glorious news that she, too had succumbed. A day later and she's recovering, but still weak and sore.

I feel like that final poor Christie victim, as she watched her compatriots killed off one by one, knowing that she was next.

It's Saturday evening about 11:15pm. So far, I'm fine.

So far...

UPDATE: Monday morning, 12:33am. Still fine....

Friday, February 04, 2005

Volunteer Tailgate Party

Mike of Half-Bakered is hosting the latest Volunteer Tailgate Party, a monthly compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade.

Go visit! Click the Links! Now!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Friday's Feast

Feast Thirty-Four

Appetizer - If you were a dog, what breed would you be, and why?

I'd be a yellow lab or a golden retriever. I have no idea why.

Soup - What does the color purple make you think of?

Well, the obvious first idea is royalty, since that's why the color was first sought for. But my second grade teacher, Mrs. Peters - Mrs. "Purple" Peters - wore purple outfits every day of the year. I mean every single day. Purple skirts, purple blouses, purple suits.... you name it.

Salad - Approximately how long does it take you to get ready each morning?

I get up at 7:00 am, and leave the house to drop the kids off at school between 7:50 and 8:00. As for actually getting myself ready, I can be done with a shower, dressed and appropriately groomed in about 20 minutes.

Main Course - How many cousins do you have, and are you close to them?

Right now I have 5 cousins. Unfortunately, I'm not really close to any of them in particular. Only one lives here in Knoxville, 2 more live in the Atlanta area and the other 2 I believe life in South Carolina. The Knoxville cousin I see at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and she is expecting her second child.

I had a 6th cousin - a younger sister to the two that live in Atlanta - who died when she was about 15 or so. She fell off the top of a waterfall while on a hike and was killed in the fall.

She was the same age as my younger brother.

Dessert - Take your initials (first, middle, last) and come up with something else those letters could stand for. (Example: SFO = Sweet Funny Otter)

BWW - Best When Warm. Stupid groundhog...when's spring coming???

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Thanks Goodness There's Another One!

Everyone create a new account at Blogazoo and let the clicking commence!

Quick! Now! What are you waiting for???

New Iraqi Fighting Force

Due to the continuing levels of danger to the common American G.I., the Army has announced the introduction of an automated defensive/offensive force to the region.

These mechanical war machines will begin to replace the standard G.I. "Joe" already in the field, which apparently is prone to capture by enemy combatants. It is hoped that the new models will be in the field by the Christmas season.

When Good Hospitals Go Bad...

King/Drew Stripped of Accredited Standing
"A national healthcare accrediting agency revoked its seal of approval Tuesday from troubled Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, a rare sanction that underscored repeated lapses in patient care at the hospital."
I don't actually have anything to say about this, I just read the story and thought of a great blog post title to go along with it.

Organ Donation

We bought a circa-1910 Beckwith Reed Organ, sold by Sears in the early 20th century.

Seems, as kind of a lark, I put down the opening bid for the organ - and no one else bid for it ;)

Now, I play the piano but know beans about organs. Some of the keys are stuck, and a few of the labels have come off the stops, but the exterior is bee-u-tee-ful.

The picture above is from another website, and not an actual photo of our organ - I'm still researching the exact model and date of manufacture, but it's very close to ours.

So, there you go... tres cool, huh?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Round 2

Now Tink is sick with 101 temp, throwy-uppy last night, headed to the doc, yada yada yada.

So far neither Laura or us have it. It's called mycoplasma, which is a preliminary form of walking pneumonia that we had last year. Caught early, it goes away fairly quickly.

On the positive side, BrainyBoy v8.97 is back at school today. Tired, a little cough-y, but much better.

(by the way, if you've noticed BrainyBoy's version numbers steadily and inexorably creeping upward lately - understand that his 9th birthday is in about 2 weeks. And he doesn't let us forget)

UPDATE: Tink has the flu. Actually, two flu's - type A and type B. "It's two (click) two (click) two flu's in one!" Laura and I have both had our shots, so we'll see what happens. Actually, so far today she (Tink) hasn't had that high a fever, and none of the other typical symptoms, so we're holding our breath.

Knoxville and Loudoun County schools have been hit hard by the flu and these other illnesses. One local elementary school had 80 kids - 1/4 of their population - out today. Keep us all in your prayers.