Friday, April 29, 2005

Thank Goodness!

He wasn't returning my calls... I was beginning to wonder.

Friday's Feast

Feast Forty-Five

Appetizer: Which keys do you have on your key chain?

Good question - let's take a look, shall we?

1) My car
2) My car's trunk
3) My wife's car
4) Electronic lock opener for my wife's car
5) My office
6) My church (I'm on staff part time)
7) My front door
8) My parents' front door
9) The roll-top to the new organ we bought. It was so tiny that was the best place to keep it safe
10) Unknown - possibly a cabinet in my office
11) Unknown - possibly the trunk key from a former car
12) Unknown but to God

Also two grocery frequent-shopper cards (one from a store I never go to) and a News Sentinel Advantage card, which is basically worthless cause I never remember it

Soup: What is the most spontaneous thing you've ever done?

I don't think I've ever done anything spontaneous...

Salad: Who is the best cook in your family?

My wife. But that's like saying who's the best brain surgeon in our family - none of us really cook.

Main Course: If you were to write a "how-to" book, what would the title be?

"How To Raise Kids to Appreciate Themselves and Their Families"

Dessert: Name a recent fad you've tried.

I can't think of any fads that I know of. I'm tempted to buy some new stylish workout clothes, but I haven't had the courage to yet ;)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Utter and Abject

Have you ever been utterly and abjectly embarrassed and humiliated?

Tonight was the final night of my racquetball league. 8 weeks of losing every single match, and every game except one of each match. 8 l-o-o-o-n-g weeks of being blown away, run over, knocked around and batted about like a child's plaything.

But, incredibly, all that wasn't the worst of it.

Tonight was the round-robin tournament. Where 8 of the 10 players got together all at once and played each other player one game. At the end the W-L records would be totalled and a winner declared. So I ended up playing 7 11-point games this evening.

Guess....just guess....which player lost all seven of the games??

The closest I came was the first one, where my opponent came from down 10-8 to win 11-10. It went down from there.

Now I ache. Everywhere. Even my wrists, as I type this.

It's What I Like About Me

I've picked up the stick, and now I'm going to attempt to post the:

10 Things I Like About Myself:
  1. I like the fact that I'm tall. Tallness is great, especially the fact that I'm not too tall. I'm 6'2", which lets me see over crowds fairly easily, get things off of high shelves, block a basketball shot (occasionally) and stretch for that errant throw from shortstop to first base. I'm not so tall that I have to consistently duck under things like doorways, fans, tree limbs. The only problem is that if I move the wrong way in the bed, sometimes my feet stick out the other end :)

  2. I like the fact that I can sing, and am musical. I believe I have a good voice, and enjoy singing all kinds of styles - rock, jazz, show tunes, choral..(I don't have the chops for opera). I also love that I understand music. Anyone can appreciate it, but I think I understand it. I can feel key changes...see chords...I can understand the texture of notes, rythms, harmonies and counterpoints. I think it's almost like another sense to me, sometimes - one that only I have. That makes it difficult to explain to others, and at times it can get frustrating ("Don't you see?? You just have to blend into the new key at this point...."). But I think it's a precious gift.

  3. I like that I seem to have a gift of empathy. No, I'm not an empath. Nor do I have a degree in psychology or other counseling... But a lot of times I seem to be able to feel what other people are feeling. If someone is sad or troubled, I can tell - it's probably more by facial expressions, vocal tone and body language than anything, but who knows? If a person is getting irritated or bored in a conversation, I can tell and gauge whether to continue or altar tactics. If someone us hurting, I want to help. Now, whether I can actually feel the rage and impatience burning inside the guy in the car behind me when I'm waiting to turn left at an intersection, I don't know - but it sure seems that way.

  4. It goes without saying that I love being married and having a family. I love that I have the capacity to be a good husband and father. See the entire blog for details ;)

  5. I like that I have the ability to take the optimistic point of view in a lot of things. We're living in a cynical world these days. More and more people tend to believe the worst in people: the rude waiter; the greasy-palmed politician, the hypocritical preacher; the corrupt cop; the bee-yatch who just cut you off in traffic; the list goes on and on... Sure these people exist but I reject the notion that we must assume these are the most likely scenarios. I would rather live life trusting in the much greater likelihood that the waiter just learned his girl left him, so he's not in the best of moods. Cut him some slack - maybe you're the one being rude. That soccer mom in the SUV with the cell phone pressed to her ear is not trying to run you off the road so she can get home to see "Desperate Housewives" - she's trying to find someone to pick up her girl at school before it closes so she can get home and take care of her son she just picked up at his school, who's running a 103-degree temp and her husband's out of town. Everyone has stories, everyone has their own problems and people have no right assuming it's all about themselves. I love I have the ability to look around the corner and understand that there are other worlds than these. Maybe that ties into #3, I don't know, but I think more it's just a basic trust in a humanity that has done me far, far more good than it's ever done me bad.

  6. Wow, I'm up to 6 already? This wasn't quite as hard as I thought...

    I like the fact that I like children and they seem to like me and feel comfortable with me fairly easily. This, of course, helps with #4 above that I am very comfortable rolling in the floor wrestling with BrainyBoy or going out this morning to get the paper and listening carefully with Tink at the woodpeckers. Or being v-e-r-r-r-y careful not to bother the squirrels. I've taught and been around lots of kids my life and I love that I can appreciate their innocence, celebrate how they learn and explore and be a small part of their growth.

  7. I like that I can see a problem and solve it - or at least help tie up loose ends (or people) and bring them together to solve a problem. So many times projects lie flapping around, undone - not through negligence or incompetance, but due to lack of direction. I can move them along and get a result. I think I would be a good project or department manager someday, if I can get a chance.

  8. I like that I am spiritual and not only feel a responsibility to go to church, and raise my family in the church - but that I enjoy it. And that I can see and feel the presence of God in my life through my children, through nature, through the patterns of leaves growing on a particular branch to the direction a cloud races across a sky. The presence of God's surrounds me and I like that I can allow it to engulf me and take me along for the ride...

  9. I like that I am passionate about a lot of things. I wish that I had more opportunities to direct those passions into things that are useful and constructive...

  10. I like having a healthy sense of humor. I love to laugh ("---Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha--loud, and long, and clear...") and I love to make people laugh. I love to belly laugh at a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I love to chuckle when Hawkeye puts down Frank Burns. I love to laugh at a great joke. I love to tell jokes. I love to laugh in a group, in an audience, to feel that communal sense of shared joy. I love to hear my kids laugh. I love to see the humor that can come out of the worst of tragedies, that reminds us all is not lost, and there is always hope. I love to see someone's face turn from a dark thundercloud, to a light rain, to a sun breaking through as their emotions change from sad to happy. Humor, as they say, is 90% timing, 10% material, and 10% irony.

    Ain't I a stinker?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What Gender Is Your Brain?

Your Brain is 46.67% Female, 53.33% Male

Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

The Character of the Castle

From an interview in old Walt Disney World handbook, former Imagineer John Hench related these words about how Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom reflects the "Disney Magic", and more how that magic permeates the entire park. Just read:

“Well, this theme show idea really works at both the conscious and the subconscious levels in the guest’s mind. There are a number of things that happen to them which they may very well remember…a ride…a personal contact with an employee…a lunch…a particular show…or any one of dozens of others. But equally important, if not more so, is the sum total of all the thousands of little details of which the guests are never quite fully aware…details working at the subliminal level.

Take Cinderella Castle, for instance. Most people walk up to this point and take a picture. In fact, more pictures are probably taken right here of that castle than anything else perhaps in the world. But if you walked up and asked a guest WHY he likes the castle…WHY is it worth photographing?… He could never tell you. He’d probably stammer out something like ‘Because it’s just beautiful’. And yet, when he gets back home and shows his pictures, the feeling will never be the same that he experiences simply standing here.

The fact is, as we stand here right now, there are literally hundreds of stimuli etching an impression…and an experience in our minds through every one of our senses. Probably the most conscious and obvious stimulus is visual…we are looking at that castle and we think it is beautiful. Yet consider the factors that are playing on our sense of vision….the colors…the lighting, the shapes and designs. There is a static nature about the castle structure itself that makes you think its been standing there for centuries. And yet there is motion…the motion of those flags, and the trees around us made by the wind. The movement of people, vehicles and boats, water, balloons, horses, and the white clouds passing by overhead.

Look up at the top of the castle. At the base of the highest tower are a series of tremendously detailed gargoyles which you can barely see from the ground. And yet they are also part of our ‘magic formula’. They are part of a thousand little tiny details we are looking at right now but don’t consciously perceive. Individually they are nothing. Collectively, they add up to a visual experience that the guest can’t find anywhere else.

Now consider what is happening at this moment to our sense of hearing. As we stand here, we are hearing something that the best stereo or quad system in the world can’t duplicate. We are hearing an ever-changing background: music, the sounds of waterfalls, horses’ hooves, bells, a marching band, popcorn popping, and even the familiar crowd murmur that we usually sort of consciously tune out.

Think about the sense of touch…inanimate objects like this rockwork…animate objects like that horse pulling that trolley car. Or those Fantasyland characters in the castle’s forecourt. Those things are not projected film---they are real. If you close your eyes, you can reach out and touch them…feel them.

Those flowers aren’t plastic…you can smell them. That popcorn…you can go over and taste it.

Think about it carefully. As we stand here and look at that castle, every one of our senses are coming into play. This is total involvement. You can never capture this moment and take it home with you in a camera or tape recorder. You can only take this experience home in your mind. Now, multiply this moment by an entire day…by a week…by a thousand other different experiences…and you start to get some idea of the Disney theme show.

Of course, there are some limits to how far you can go in a theme experience. We don’t want to add smoke to the fire effects in the Pirates of the Caribbean…that would be a negative stimulus. In our jungle we keep the real insects to a minimum. In Frontierland, we could be more authentic by making dirt streets, eliminating air conditioning in the buildings and replacing restrooms with outhouses. How many medieval castles ever had piped-in music or drinking fountains with chilled water? Frankly, if we created a totally perfect, authentic themed experience where we had complete realism, it would probably be ghastly for contemporary people living here in the 1970s.

What we create is a ‘Disney Realism’, sort of Utopian in nature, where we carefully program out all the negative, unwanted elements and program in the positive elements. In fact we even go beyond realism in some cases to make a better show. Don’t forget, people are coming here to be entertained…it is a show, you know. We create a world they can escape to…to enjoy for a few brief moments…a world that is the way they would like to think it would be.

The Jungle Cruise is a good example of what I’m talking about. It began in 1955 as an adaptation from our ‘True Life Adventure’ films. We created an attraction where all the things that you might see on a jungle river journey actually do happen. The truth of the matter is, you could probably spend two years on a real journey like that before you’d see everything.

Later, in selected Jungle Cruise scenes, we further enhanced the entertainment value by adding a touch of fantasy here and there. Take the elephant bathing pool, for example. Our guests know that real elephants wouldn’t lurk under the water and then rise up to squirt the boat. And they know a real herd of elephants wouldn’t be quite so happy with a strange boat in their midst. Real elephants would have either retreated defensively into the jungle or smashed the boat to pieces. But again, we’ve programmed Utopian realism, added a touch of fun and fantasy and the guest love it.

Interestingly, for all its success, the Disney theme show is quite a fragile thing. It just takes one contradiction…one out of place stimulus to negate a particular moment’s experience. Take that street car conductor’s costume away and put him in double knit slacks and a golf shirt….replace that old Gay Nineties melody with a rock number…replace the themed merchandise with digital clock radios and electric hair dryers…tack up a felt-tip drawn paper sign that says ‘Keep Out’…place a touch of astro turf here…add a surly employee there…it really doesn’t take much to upset it all.

What’s our success formula? Well, it’s attention to infinite detail…the little things, the minor picky points that other companies just don’t want to take the time, the money, the effort, to do right. As far as our Disney organization is concerned…it’s the only way we’ve ever done it…it’s been our success formula in the past and it will be applied to our future projects as well. We’ll probably still be explaining this to outsiders at the end of our next two decades in this business.”
This magic is an idea that slowly slips away from the caretakers of the parks - the true meaning of that cliched word "synergy"...where all parts work together to create an experience that is greater than what meets the eye.

Now, see, if I were in charge....

Thanks to Jim Hill Media for resurfacing this nugget. Read the whole story and more there.

Cheese back to Tennessee??? Eh, Guess Not.

Henry trade talks finished
"The Titans made a run at disgruntled Bills running back Travis Henry during last weekend's draft, but they failed to offer enough to entice Buffalo to part with Henry. "His name did come up, but it is very unlikely anything else will be made of it," Titans coach Jeff Fisher told The Tennessean. "As far as I'm concerned, it was a draft day issue." The Bills were seeking at least a third-round pick for Henry, but Bills president and GM Tom Donahoe told Buffalo reporters that no one offered such a deal during the draft."
Now this would've been sweet. Travis Henry was one of the lynchpins, along with Peerless Price, Travis Stephens and Tee Martin, of the 1998 Tennessee National Championship Team. He's had a nice career so far with the Bills, but got hurt last year and spent most of the season on the bench watching Miami grad Willis McGahee (feh!) steal his spotlight. Bringing "The Cheese" to the Titans would have been a great fit, and I think any former UT players they can add to their roster can only help.

But alas, not to be.

Hopefully Travis will land somewhere he can make a contribution. Just not anywhere in the AFC South. :)

Rain, Rain...

Poor BrainyBoy.

He loves soccer. Bless his little heart, he's not that good, but he enjoys playing.

If only the Rain Gods would allow him to...

His spring soccer season officially "started" (in quotes because...well, you'll see) the middle of March. Since then, he's actually played 2 real games and 1 real-game-that-became-a-scrimmage because neither team had enough players.

For some reason here in East Tennessee this season - in amongst all the gorgeous neo-spring-like weather, it still manages to rain almost every Friday and Saturday. Which, naturally, are the days he practices and plays games, respectively.

So the make-ups pile up, and the actual last game on the schedule is May 14, in three weeks. And they're off this weekend because all the refs will be at a tournament somewhere.


If that weren't bad enough, we got home last night around ten after 6pm, and a message on the phone from the coach's wife informed us that they just found out (around noon) that a makeup game was scheduled that evening at 6pm. i.e. ten minutes before we arrived home. Why, thanks...thanks for letting us know.


So another week will go by without a game for him. Which is a shame, because he enjoys it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


  • ...From Danielle: Secrets of Firefox 1.0
  • Interview of Trumwill

    Next on the list is Trumwill of Hit Coffee:

    (copy and paste the questions into your own site, and answer there)

    1) You've decided to throw caution to the wind, empty your bank account, and do something you and your wife have never done before. What do you do, and where?

    2) Living around the Mormon community, do you find yourself subconsciously thinking or acting as they do?

    3) What is one of the most memorable things about your home town?

    4) What was the situation surrounding your first real kiss?

    5) Talk about what you love most about your wife...if you're brave, tell us what you dislike most about her...

    Don't forget to follow the rules below, and let us know in the comments when your answers are up!

    Interview of Mays

    Mays of In a Mays (I think that's his secret spy name) volunteered to be interviewed, so here we go:

    (copy and paste the questions into your own site, and answer there)

    1) What is one thing that, as a child, you dreamed of doing as an adult but never quite came true?

    2) You mention that you like to play and watch baseball (softball). What is your favorite thing about baseball, and how important is it, really, to American culture?

    3) You seem pretty firm in your political convictions. Is there anything that would drive you to being more liberal or more conservative?

    4) When in your life have you ever actually been struck speechless?

    5) If you were to suddenly find yourself trapped on a desert island with three other people, what would be your first order of business?

    Don't forget to follow the rules below, and let us know when your answers are up!

    You Know You're Getting Old When... have to stop your son from giving up spoilers he's heard about the new Star Wars movie.

    BrainyBoy v9.2: Dad, one of my friends told me that in Episode III, Anakin has to fight--

    Me: What?? How could you know that?

    BB: One of my friends told me. And that xxxx is going to die--

    Me: HUSH! I don't want to know! Tell your friends to be quiet...

    I've waited over 20 years for this movie, and I'm not going to have the plot spoiled by someone who wasn't even born when Return of the Jedi came out. Not even my own son.

    I'll make him think Dark Side....

    Monday, April 25, 2005

    Yet Another Interview

    Hey, by cracky, I've been interviewed again - this time by Extra Strength Surfing Fingers (ESSF) (who I believe is a female and quite possibly also human).

    Anyway, here's goes:

    1. Assume that it’s a given that you have to work for a living. With that said, what is the one occupation you would choose and why?

    My dream occupations would be either as Artistic Director for a Community or Professional theatre, or working for the (Michael Eisner/Bob Iger/anyone else associated with them-less) Walt Disney Company in the animation or sound division. Or as an Imagineer.

    2. If you were your parent/s while you were growing up, what is one thing that you would/wouldn’t do that they did/didn’t do to you?

    I wouldn't beat me all the time! Every day, it was the same thing...the 2x4 with the rusty nails, the straps, the broken bottles....OH, the HUMANITY!!

    Sorry, just kidding.

    I would have liked for us to have taken more trips together outside of our region. Growing up we had relatives that lived in Atlanta and every summer we'd stay for a week with them, visit Six Flags and come home. Now, I have great memories of that time in my life - and we also went to the beach a couple of times - but I wish we could've made that one big Brady Bunch trip to Hawaii or the Grand Canyon or Hollywood...

    3. What was your favorite TV show growing up? Your second favorite?

    Hoo boy. A quick spin through my site will reveal several favorites, but let's just say any incarnation of Star Trek will always be my favorite. Second favorite would likely be "M*A*S*H".

    4. What temperature do you prefer your house/apt. to be when falling asleep at night? Covers or no covers? Clothed or buck naked?

    I prefer my house to be a bit warm, since my parents' house was always kept fairly warm - that's what I'm used to. In any situation, if the room or house temperature starts getting chilly my fingers and toes start to get numb. And who wants numb fingers? So give me warmth, baby. I can always kick off the covers although I generally stay under them all night regardless of the temp.

    And speaking of kicking off the covers. As for the last part...well, first of all we have two youngs kids in the house so a certain amount of decorum is advised - especially for those early morning "Daddy-it's-time-to-get-up" bouncing parties Tink seems to enjoy throwing. That could get awkward and embarrassing. Now, on the mornings I get up early before the kids I generally don't wear anything. I'd do that all the time if I could get away with it - clothes and me seem to always turn opposite directions when I shift positions in the bed, and when we have flannel sheets...don't you want to be able to feel it just about everywhere? (Calm down, ladies..calm down). So anyway, on normal nights I just wear a pair of shorts. If it's the dead of winter, I may wear flannel pajama pants.

    5. If you could write one new law or change a current law, what would it be? What would you want the punishment to be for that crime?

    This may be heresy, but I wish certain Intellectual Property laws would be relaxed a bit. I understand that people work hard for their art, and should be duly recognized and in some cases compensated for the efforts, but having to extensively credit and document every photo, clipart, snippet of music, piece of well as require one to jump through numerous legal hoops and hurdles to utilize it I think defeats somewhat the purpose of the art itself.

    Mankind has used art to express him and the problems he's faced since first picking up a stick and drawing in the dirt. A work of art, a page of music, a thought, an idea - they should be shared as much as possible. With all the demands and limitations in distributing such material, it makes some artforms and other works virtually inaccesible. And that's a shame.

    I totally understand that a lot of artists require money paid to them to continue producing, and freely distributed copies of the work would dilute their income base. It's a totally valid argument and I understand it. That just solidifies the notion that it's a tough issue, that won't be solved until humans resist relying so much on money to produce art.

    I'm sure punishments for violating the existing laws vary wildly, but I certainly don't think jail time would be appropriate for anyone - unless maybe it was obvious they were doing it to make unnatural profit for themselves.

    If you would like for me to ask you five questions…
    1. Leave a comment saying “interview me” if you’d like to be interviewed.
    2. I’ll respond by asking you 5 questions here. They’ll be different than those above.
    3. Update your blog with your answers to the questions.
    4. When you do so, include this same explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same manner.
    5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you’ll ask them five new questions.

    Thanks, ESSF, for the questions!

    Am I Blue?

    Why yes, yes I am. I'm depressed, bored and frustrated.

    Somebody cheer me up...

    Back to the Land of the Lost?

    Um, ok, on the surface this is great news. It seems they're finally going to make a big-budget "Land of the Lost" movie.

    But then you see who's starring, and the premise...

    [Will] Ferrell Going Back in Time for Universal's 'Lost'
    'The "Saturday Night Live" alumnus is attached to star in a "Land of the Lost" comedy feature based on the 1974-77 television series of the same name.


    Universal acquired the feature rights from Sid and Marty Krofft, executive producers of the original NBC series, who will produce the feature for the studio. Jimmy Miller [co-producer of "Elf" and producer of the upcoming "Get Smart" remake] and Julie Wixson-Darmody [also a co-producer of "Elf"] also will produce via the Mosaic Media Group banner.

    Adam McKay, a former "SNL" writer who directed Ferrell in "Anchorman," [and wrote "Bewitched"] is attached to direct, with Chris Henchy [who has written for TV] and Dennis McNicholas [original head writer for "Saturday Night Live"] signing on to adapt the screenplay.

    As I've said before, I'm a big 70's kids TV nostalgia buff. "Land of the Lost" was my favorite show, and was a big part in kick-starting my love of dinosaurs, sci-fi and all things fantastic and amazing.

    I'll reserve judgement until I see some plot reports, but at first glance I can't say I'm encouraged. Will Ferrell seems to be well-respected in the light fantasy/romantic comedy genre ("Elf", "Bewitched"), but I desparately don't want them to take this show and make it a farce. The fact that all the producers, directors and writers mentioned are comedy veterans doesn't help matters either...

    Maybe with the right combination of drama and comedy, and the right actors to play Will and Holly, it might come off.

    The kids and I are right now in the middle of watching the DVD's for the second season of the show, and they are as into it as I was (although Tink runs and hides whenever she sees a Sleestak). Plus BrainyBoy and I are watching/rewatching all the Jurassic Park movies as well, so dinosaurs are definitely on our mind.

    So, we'll see...

    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Friday's Feast

    Feast Forty-Four

    Appetizer - Name something that helps you fall asleep.

    Reading a book at bedtime puts me to sleep pretty easily. Especially on those nights when I don't want to got sleep...

    Soup - Who brings out the best in you?

    My kids. When they're in learning/searching/growing mode, I love to be around them and help, and advise, and be there with them.

    Salad - What do you like to do on a rainy day?

    Well, rainy of sunny I have to work so it doesn't really matter what it's doing outside. And if it's the weekend...plans typically don't change on account of the weather, unless soccer is rained out. But to actually stop evading the question... I guess read a book is the best thing to do on a rainy day. And if it's night-time, subsequently fall asleep (see above).

    Main Course - Complete this sentence: In our home, we never have enough...

    "...time, to do the things you want to do once we find them..."

    Dessert - Which shoe do you put on first?

    Ok, now really. *sigh*. Ok, left. Because you read left to right, silly.

    And Let That Be a Lesson To You!

    Fake Hospital Inspectors Probed

    Those Were the Days

    A few days ago, a cryptic comment appeared to one of my posts. Basically, it said "Guess who?" signed Tanis (aka Moria Destroyer). Well, Tanis was a character in the Dragonlance books I love so much (that the "Inn of the Last Home" is named after) and Moria is a video game me and my roommates used to play back in college.

    So welcome, Gary, back to my world. Gary was my roommate at the University of Tennessee from around 1987-1989. Not only did he become a good friend, he was a groomsman in my wedding. We lost touch after the wedding, he had moved on to Law School at Vanderbilt and eventually made it out to Denver, CO where he's married and apparently he and his wife have a great loft overlooking the Pepsi Center.

    I wanted to introduce my regular visitors to him, and ask that he comment often and get to know you folks as well. Gary's a rare person, he's easy to know, easy to like and gets along well with anyone. He's bright and enthusiastic and bailed me out of a couple of tough scrapes back then. With his permission, I'll tell a few Gary stories...
    • The first time I met Gary he scared the crap out of me.

      I had moved into the Andy Holt Apartments at UT that fall as a junior. The suite we shared held four people, and my roommates at the time were Allen and (oh, I can't remember his name, sorry) in the first suite and Benton and myself in the second. Benton was unable to come back the second semester, so I knew I would be getting a new roommate, I just didn't know who. So about the first day of classes in the Spring Semester, I'd just taken a shower and was drying my hair (it was fairly early in the morning. And I actually had hair to dry, go figure) when I see out of my peripheral vision--this guy. Tall, blond hair, a little lanky. Staring at me with a goofy grin on his face and waving. Of course, I almost freak and drop the hair dryer, with this strange guy standing in my room. "Whoa, it's ok - he said. I'm Gary, your new roommate. They gave me a key and I came in while you were in the shower but I didn't know how to tell you I was here without scaring you".

      "Well, you did a good job!" I thought. But we laughed about it after my heartrate went down.

    • I'll have to ask Gary to supply the next thought - his first night on campus wasn't actually around me, but with Allen, our other roommate, and his friend as he helped them go on a hunt for Allen's girlfriend. But I'll let him supply those details.

    • Eventually, Allen's roommate basically moved into his girlfriend's apartment somewhere else and we never really saw him again. But then at the same time, Allen's estranged, somewhat loopy girlfriend Wendy moved in with him. All unofficially - she had an official residence somewhere else on campus, but basically lived there. So it was three guys and a girl.

      Wendy had Allen wrapped around her finger, and made her presence known when she wanted the least little thing. We'd be sitting in the living room watching TV and would hear, "Alllllllll-LLLLLENN!??!??!?!" from the back bedroom... Allen would immediately spring to his feet and exclaim Aldrichly, "Coming dear!" and trot off to, like, turn her pillow or something.

      Not only that, she used about 3/4 a roll of toilet paper everytime she went to the bathroom. We could never really figure out why she needed so much, but it was almost always empty. As far as I know she never replinished it.

      Ok, that wasn't really a Gary story but I'm sure he remembers it..

    • One spring break Gary and his girlfriend and I and my girlfriend (Laura, who I eventually married) travelled to Panana City Beach in my car. One evening we were driving around getting something to eat, and Gary happened to be driving. (Gary do you remember this? :) ) Apparently Gary didn't know the difference between a speed bump and a concrete parking barrier...well, let's say our heads hit the roof of the car and my suspension was severely insulted...

    • Gary, remember the girl who existed in two time zones? (Sorry, that one's not for polite company)

    • As a theatre student, I took a directing course one semester and was required to stage a one-act play. Spring was coming up, and student actors in the department were becoming scarce. The play I chose, "The Public Eye" called for three characters, and I had no trouble casting the husband and wife from fellow students in my department. For some reason, I couldn't find anyone to play the lead - the ones I asked who would be good in the role had prior commitments, or were leaving town. Time was growing short, and while griping about my woe to Gary, he said, "I'll play it." Um...ok!

      And he did. He took the part, memorized the script, rehearsed with the other actors and the whole thing was great. He saved my bacon on that one..

      Unfortunately I didn't tape it - ah well.

    • I graduate at the end of summer, 1989 and after spring was over I moved back home for the summer to finish up. Gary stayed in the apartment and roomed with former Vol quarterback Jeff Francis. We didn't get together much over the summer, and my graduation day I hadn't seen him for about a month or two. As I was walking down the aisle, diploma in hand and got back eventually to my family they said, "That was nice how you got to walk next to Gary with your diplomas".


      Apparently, since they form two lines in and out of the platform, we walked off next to each other and had no idea the other was there...
    I'll try to add more as I have time...

    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    Meep Meep

    Wily neighbor not wanted
    "Wesley Road, West Knoxville (WVLT) - The next time you look out into your backyard don't be all that surprised if you see some wildlife you're not usually accustomed to seeing.


    "It definitely isn't the sort of thing you expect to find in Knoxville, even a suburban area like this," says Bill Stack, who saw a coyote in his backyard.

    "It looked like a dog, about the size of a German Shephard, but has spindly legs, long, pointed snout and a big, bushy tail down between his hind legs, no dog I've ever seen looks like that," continues Stack.

    The coyote is apparently making itself out home in this neighborhood, four sightings all within a mile of Bill Stack's yard."
    You know, about a hundred jokes ran through my head when I read this, but there's just too many opportunities to create a humorous anecdote. So, as a public service, I'll just supply you with the funny terms and you create your own jokes:

  • Road Runner
  • ACME
  • anvil
  • oncoming train
  • "Good morning, Sam." "Good morning, Ralph."
  • birdseed
  • ManBat Costume

    There, that should do it. Mix and match and enjoy!

    Oh, I do love this quote..
    "As long as they're not rabid, they're no threat to you, but keep a close eye on any small pets. Wolfe says they're easy targets for a coyote's next meal."
    Now, let's think about this a second. If an animal is rabid, that would mean pretty much it would have to bite you. Well, if it can bite you and transfer rabies...couldn't even a non-rabid coyote still bite you? How does a non-rabid but still biting coyote pose no threat? Last I heard, bites, like, hurt...
  • Ho hum - Another Day, Another Dollar

  • Can't muster up enough creative juices to write about much today. I have a lot to say over the weekend, when I'm going to be talk a lot about an old buddy I recently got back in contact with. In fact, regular readers kind of witnessed it in the comments to this. That's coming, soon - amusing college stories.

  • I play racquetball tonight, and softball after. That groan you hear will be my aching bones crying out in protest. Well, that's assuming it doesn't rain - we've spoiled ourselves the last several days with more nice weather than we normally get in a row. Rain's forecast through Saturday, so we'll see.

  • BrainyBoy didn't win anything in the Science Fair earlier this week, but he certainly took it in stride, and everyone in his class was very happy and supportive of the kids who did win. I find that heartening. Of course, it's just third grade and the big jealousy virus probably hasn't hit very hard yet but still it's fun to see kids root for and not against each other. He also got on TV briefly, as did I - the local Channel 10 news did a short piece on the Fair Tuesday evening. He could be seen behind the shoulder of another youngster explaining his exhibit and I was in the background later. Woo! Famous!

  • So, we're supposedly getting Traffic Cameras. Big whoop. I don't care who sees my picture driving, and if it helps prevent accidents good deal. There's reports of illegal or at least immoral kickbacks in the deal and that should be investigated but all the paranoia and "privacy concerns" are much ado about nothing. If so-called "Privacy Advocates" get their way, we'll all be walking around with bags over our heads.
  • Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    My Answers

    I've updated my Favorite TV Characters post to include all the rest of the answers people didn't guess. Big thanks to everyone who played!

    Oh, and as I was looking at the Battlestar Galactica website for the spelling of President Roslin's name, they're letting everyone watch the first episode, "33" as a free online viewing. Very cool!

    Have a Pleasant Day

    Read Sheila on one of my favorite movies, although it frustrates me at times, Pleasantville

    Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

    Your Linguistic Profile:

    55% General American English

    35% Dixie

    10% Yankee

    0% Midwestern

    0% Upper Midwestern

    (Found at Scorpy's)

    Public Service Announcement

    This puff of white smoke is brought to you by the Vatican Pontiff Selection Committee. Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

    New Food Guide Pyramid. --er, Pyramids.

    Yeah, so you think selecting a new Pope is important? Hah! Today we also got a smorgasbord of new Food Guide Pyramids - brought to you straight from the Beef Industry Council of America.

    Government Issues 12 New Food Pyramids
    "Concerned about steadily expanding waistlines, the government flipped the food pyramid on its side, adding a staircase for exercise and giving consumers 12 individually-tailored models for improving their eating habits.

    Inside the pyramid released Tuesday, rainbow-colored bands representing different food groups run vertically from the tip to the base. The old single, triangle-shaped pyramid had a horizontal presentation of food categories that many found confusing."
    Interesting, I never found it confusing. It was actually pretty simple: Grains, cereals - very good. Fruits and veggies - good. Meats and milk - pretty good. Sweets and Oils - bad. Each in its own moderation. But now with a good generation of carb-conscious public outcry, fueled by a number of successful diets and vocal dieticians, it's all been turned on its head. Or side, as the case may be.

    But there seem to be one for each food group, or occasion, or body type or possible policital party as well. But that's good, because we have one for fat kids, skinny kids, kids that climb on rocks, tall kids, short kids...

    Even kids with chicken pox.

    Are You Ready For Some Football? NOPE!

    ''Monday Night Football'' leaving ABC for ESPN
    "`Monday Night Football,' which 35 years ago was one of the biggest gambles in television history and then became the backbone of ABC's revival, is headed to cable. ESPN, which like ABC is owned by The Disney Company, will take over, beginning with the 2006 season, what has been a TV institution and made the NFL a prime-time ratings draw."
    Well, as much as everyone likes John Madden (or at least they must, since he seems to be propped back up in the booth every year due to "popular demand". Or he's holding their children hostage.) I for one will be glad that he's finally retired.

    That's assuming they can keep him from pulling the big camper up and parking in front of the doors to ESPN studios.

    Personally, I can much easier see him, Andy Rooney and Wilford Brimley sitting on the front porch together, whittling, eating oatmeal and yelling at the damn kids to get off their lawn...

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Best. Day. Ever.

    If you don't, or have never lived in East Tennessee - especially in the spring - you missed it this weekend.

    Saturday dawned clear and cool, and we headed out to BrainyBoy v9.2's soccer game. BB's on the 9/10-year-old team, and at this level the positions are still a little fluid. He played goalie for 3 quarters and defense for one...really, defense is his best position but he's just not nearly fast enough to play forward and his size makes him a little intimidating. We should be getting a team picture soon, and I'll post it as soon as I can.

    Unfortunately the other team wiped up the field with us - they were bigger, stronger faster and as such I suspected bionic or possibly Borg enhancement. Plus they had ten kids and could rotate three in and out every quarter...we only had seven and everyone played the whole game, and was exhausted by the end. We ended up losing 8-3, but kept it a game until the fourth. BB...poor guy. He tries his best to play goalie, but in his own words..."I don't want to get hit by the ball!" Can't blame him I suppose.

    As a rule, I can't stand soccer. Sorry, just can't. As most of you know, I'm a baseball guy. Soccer, like hockey and even basketball at times, is just too random and chaotic for me. I know people tell me there's infinite strategy involved in soccer, but sorry folks..I don't see it. That being said, it's all thrown out the window when your son's playing. GO FIREBALLS!!!

    After the game, we gathered everyone up and headed to downtown Knoxville to the open-air plazz known affectionately world-round as Market Square Mall (or just Market Square to the purists). You see, this is the time of the Dogwood Arts Festival here in Knoxville...a time of great rejoicing, celebration and merriment where we celebrate - a tree.

    No, not just any tree - the Dogwood tree. And thus...we dance.

    On Market Square, there were food booths, craft booths, game booths, Shirley Booths (ok, she skipped the event) plus singing and dancing and boot-tapping. We ate at a great new (to us) Italian place on the Mall called "Oodles". If you're down there sometime, check it out.

    Some of the teachers from the kids' school performed in a singing group, which was fun to watch.

    After tooling around there for a while, we drove out to tour a couple of the "Dogwood Trails" - specially marked neighborhood routes around the county that are especially flowery and such, which makes for a nice afternoon drive.

    See Michael Silence's blog for some examples of what you might see along some of these trails. Unfortunately, we don't own a digital camera so photoblogging is not in my immediate plans...although it would be fun. If anyone wants to buy me a digital camera, feel free to contact me at any time.

    Anyway, the weather was beautiful...the sights, the sounds....just great. We came back home, the kids played outside with the neighbors... I mowed the lawn, played with the dog.

    Best. Day. Ever.

    Update: Fixed broken link to Michael Silence's site - sorry, Michael.

    Friday, April 15, 2005

    Friday's Feast

    Feast Forty-Three

    Appetizer: What was your first "real" job?

    My first real paycheck job was as an usher at this place when it was just the Halls Cinema 4. I started the summer of my freshman year in college in 1985, and stayed for a little over a year. That was a great year ;)

    Soup: Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity?

    Walt Disney World, definitely. There's something in the air that just defies even the machinations of the Disney Leadership. Almost my whole life I've wished I could work for the Mouse, and it was an early dream of mine to work in sound for animated films. Ah well.

    Salad: Complete this sentence: I am embarrassed when...

    ...I forget things, even basic things. Peoples' names, faces...whether we've met before. Simple number combinations like phone numbers or addresses. My short term memory is swiss cheesed, which causes no end of frustation and embarrassment.

    Main Course: What values did your parents instill in you?

    Be fair. Be kind. Think of others. Be humble, don't brag or push for an unfair advantage. Be honorable. Respect others and their opinions.

    They taught by word and deed. Thanks, folks - I hope I can carry on what you started with me... :)

    Dessert: Name 3 fads from your teenage years.

    My teenage years were technically from 1979-1986, so...

    1) Parachute pants (yes, I had a pair. One.)

    2) Members Only jackets (I had one, and it was nice - I liked it)

    3) "Flashdance"/Jennifer Beals-esque Leg Warmers (no, I didn't have any of those)

    Ok, this is fun so I'll add a few more:

    4) Feathered hair, boys and girls. There was something really attractive about girls with feathered hair. I tried to get mine to do the guy's equivalent, but as you can guess by looking at my picture, even then it never quite worked ;)

    5) Hanging out at Mr. Gatti's on Clinton Highway after the football games. Not really a fad, but more of a tradition.

    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Blog it Forward Day 2005, and Guess the Character

    Uncle Mike tosses out a few bones to the blogworld today...

    Apparently it's Blog It Forward Day 2005! I think I did this last year, so let's see who we can poke a stick at recommend this year.

    1) Tommy Blaze, who just started visiting the site. He's a standup comedian from Florida, and I look forward to reading about his career..

    2) Big Dan is a minister who is going through one of the roughest experiences anyone can go through - chemotherapy. Go give him some support and linky love....

    3) Finally, over to little April at Drips Drops and Silent Thoughts who is preparing for a big move and some other big changes in her life.

    Then, Mike wants us to name 10 of our favorite TV shows, and challenge our readers to guess who our favorite character on it is. Then you have to go back, post the right answer when someone guesses, and explain why.

    So here goes mine (any similarities to Michael's is entirely unavoidable):

    1) Star Trek (all incarnations)
        (Montgomery Scott ("Scotty") - Not so much the movie incarnations, but his character on the episodes was always decisive when he was in command, and dedicated in the engine room. Plus he knew how to enjoy himself, and was always messing up around the ladies. Yeah, sounds familiar...)

    2) 24 (overall)
        (Former President David Palmer - He was an unusual presidential candidate/president...he actually had a conscience. Only when his close associates and his family started conspiring against him did he start to fall apart. We'll see what he's like when he comes back later this season... (oops...did I say that?) )

    3) The West Wing
        (Chief of Staff C.J. Craig - I just like her. No real reason, I suppose.)

    4) The Dead Zone
        (Dana Bright - the intrepid redheaded news-reporter and sometimes-flame of Johnny's, who inexplicably vanished all last season....)

    5) Battlestar Galactica (new)
        (President Laura Roslin - Ok, along with Palmer...maybe I have a thing for Presidents. If I'd picked Bartlett on The West Wing I'd know something was wrong with me.. Anyway, I like Roslin for one reason because I really like Mary McDonald, mainly from Independence Day. Plus she's a fairly minor government beauracrat tossed into an impossible situation of leading an entire species, and always came across as decisive and compassionate. Well, at least until she started getting all prophecy-wigged out. Too bad her character has to die not long into next season from cancer...

    6) Picket Fences
        (Judge Henry Bone - Ah, Ray Walston. We miss you, and I miss Judge Bone's understanding that judges are supposed to be arbitrators and not just people who hand down verdicts of guilt or innocence. Now, GET OUT!

    Partial credit goes to Carter, the M.E. Poor guy, always had a theory about whatever wackiness was going on in Rome, Wisconsin and was rarely taken seriously. The typical mousy scientist/doctor guy, who never got the girl.

    7) Friends
        (Chandler - because I thought he was the funniest one and evolved into the most believable and mature character of all of them.)

    8) Farscape
        (Dominar Rygel XVI - Sparky! every scene this little guy was in was improved by his running sarcastic commentary. Normally, I don't go in for characters like him but something about his runtness just came alive.

    He's the Anti-Yoda :) )

    9) Babylon 5
        (Commander Susan Ivonova - it killed me when the producer failed to get her contract renewed for the final season. Strong, sassy, smart...with a sense of fun that endeared her to me. Much better character than her counterpart on Farscape, the eternally dour but no less brunette Officer Aeryn Sun.

    10) Sesame Street (Ok, it's been a while...)
         (Grover - when I was a kid I loved watching him be Super Grover, and he was always frustrated when he did things that didn't quite work out right. That was me!)

    It's Not Easy Being a Parent

    I mentioned the other day of my fear that I may miss an opportunity to impart great wisdom or guidance on one of my kids, due to either negligance or ignorance on my part. It's a constant concern of mine, and while it doesn't affect my interaction with them overtly it's always in the back of my mind.

    Last night one of those opportunities arose, and I'm not sure I passed. Well, just being there for him I'm sure most people would consider sufficient - but then again, I'm not most people, I'm his father.

    BrainyBoy v9.2 has just enough of his dad's personality in him to be able to appreciate some of the quirkier and retro things in life (old Saturday morning TV, old Sci-fi movies, etc). I've also (I thought) fairly successfuly helped him "resist" some of the more popular kid-oriented distractions activities that tend to occupy too much of kids time these days, like XBox, certain movies, and the like.

    Add to the fact he's not the fastest kid in the world - while he's the biggest kid in the class (height and bulk, mostly) he's not thin and wiry like some of the other kids and hence not nearly as quick and athletic. Some of his friends tend to run circles around him, and not want him on their team.

    So this came to a head last night, as we were reading a devotion about "sowing what you reap". The conversation turned to how kids who made fun of other kids, or were mean to them sometimes got mean things done in return, or had had things mean done to them in the past. Or a variety of other things - the point being that if you are kind, expect to receive kindness. Standard father/son advice, we'd been through it several times before.

    I then asked him if anyone ever makes fun of him - he named a couple of kids, one in particular he's been pretty close to for several years - that make fun of him because he doesn't know about this particular hot new video game, or a movie they've all seen, or airplanes or some other subject they have an interest in, but he doesn't. Similarly, his interests are still in Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards and action figures, dinosaurs, and other fairly typical 9-year-old stuff. He seemed a little distant at the end of our conversation, but I thought little of it and wished him a good night.

    As I walked down the hall, I could hear him crying softly to himself.

    Oh crap.

    I went back in and sat on his bed. Between muffled sobs, he said nobody would be his friend anymore at school.

    How in the world do you counsel that? You can't make his friends like the things he does. You can't make him, or really even suggest that he conform to their interests if he doesn't like them - or more importantly, they're inappropriate. I've recently relaxed my movie restrictions to include things like the Jurassic Park movies, Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future and others that have a higher level of violence and some language, but still all firmly under my guidance. And he knows, and appreciates it. We don't own a gaming system, partly because we have a nice PC and have, and do, purchase games he enjoys playing on there...and partly because we see the effect gaming systems have on other kids' physical and mental acuities. I see the gamer slugs occasionally, and I don't want him growing up like that. Hey, I had my Atari 5200 growing up and played it a lot but that was a different world then - a non PC-based world, where the highest end game was Pac Man, not Grand Theft Auto IV: Maximum Body Count.

    So he tells me a rambling stpry how yesterday he was "refereeing" a game of BattleBall at school, then teams changed and he was odd man out. Two of his classmates were playing nearby, but didn't want him to play with him. So he ended up swinging by himself. It's an image that breaks my heart, seeing him by himself with no one to play with....

    So what to say? I told him when I was his age, I only had a couple of really close friends. He does acknowledge his church friends are closer to him than his school friends....but the point is I don't want him to start doubting his own worth or relevance at one place he needs as much self confidence as possible - school.

    In the end, I just hugged him tight and told him not to worry about it. He seemed to calm down and got ready to go on to sleep.

    I came in an talked to Laura a bit about it, wondering why it's so difficult to be fighting an almost proxy battle with other parents over the things they let their kids do and watch... how we not only have to compete with the media for our kids attention and values, but other parents through their kids.

    I'm sure I'm over-reacting a bit in the particular. I've known these kids and their parents for almost four years now that he's been at this school, and they're all good people. Good people who care about their kids - not just the education, but their character. I've written before how that even though the kids all wear uniforms, their individuality and creativity is readily evident in all of them. They're good kids. But they're kids, and these things happen. I just need to be aware of what's going on, and there for BrainyBoy when he needs me.


    UPDATE (04/20/05): Logtar has some comments.


    Tink: "Look, daddy!"

    Me: (looking over) "whatcha doing?"

    Tink: (holding out storybook exactly half-way open) "If this was the Bible, I'd be in Psalms..."

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    Another Weekend in the Neighborhood

    The weekend was typical, yet fresh in many ways. Sunny, warm weather is a huge plus for me and everyone else around here. Coupled with Savings Time (Motto: "We're adding two months, and passing the savings on to you!") the whole town seems to be in a better, more uplifing mood.

    I was fortunate enough to attend a series of lectures from a Dr. Jim Fleming on the Parables of the Bible. Dr. Fleming is an archeologist who runs a history museum in Jerusalem, and also trains Christian, Jewish and Muslims as tour guides around the Holy City. He spoke of the archeological and social backgrounds of the time of Jesus, and how they related to the context of the parables He related. Very, very interesting stuff and if you ever hear of him coming round your way to speak, you should check him out. He'll be in Cleveland TN for the next couple days, then in Atlanta.

    One of the more interesting things he spoke about was a background on the current Middle East situation, and his impressions of the prospects for peace after living in the area for 31 years. He said several months ago he never felt the prospects for peace were more remote, but today he's never felt they were so close. What with the recent elections in Palestin and Iraq, plus the decision of Israel's Sharon to renegotiate the settlements, the future does appear to be getting much brighter.

    The kids had plenty of time to run around outside in the sun with the neighbor kids, and for me to do a little yardwork. How little? Very little. It was even a better weekend for sitting in the chair by the open window, with a good book, feeling the breeze. And watching your son finally get the knack of riding his bike for the first time...

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    Blogcess - It's What's for Dinner!

    Caught from Seductive Kisses...

    It's Blogcess - 22.

    1) The last time you filled up your automobile how much did you pay per gallon?

    About $2.15. And every time I pass a gas station and see what's being charged today I get livid. The highest I've seen lately is about $2.22 at an interstate exit/full service trap Shell Station near where I live.

    2) What was the last piece of clothing you purchased for yourself?

    I honestly don't recall the last article of clothing I bought for myself. I am looking for some workout clothes, though.

    3) What was the last thing you bought at the grocery?

    We went to this fairly new healthy food store the other night called "Earth Faire". If you live in Knoxville, it's like the Fresh Market and is out in Turkey Creek. It has lots of proudly organic, sugar-free, cholesterol-free, glucose-free, preservative-free, taste-and-substance-free groceries for sale. But we got some corn chips, some all natural sodas, some honey and a few other items.

    4) What did you do on the last night you went out with friends?

    Hahahahaha! Oh..please....stop! You're killing me!! Hahahahahahah!!!!

    5) Let’s spread some “It’s Blogcess” linky love?

    Ok, toss of the softball over to:

    1) The tv-crazed Big Orange Michael,
    2) The penguin-crazed Becky at April Fool, and
    3) The just-plain-crazed Will from Hit Coffee

    The Best Democratic Ticket I've Seen Lately...

    Then if you're of the Republican persuasion:

    Personally, I'd go for either one.

    New Features

    A couple of new web features have sprung up recently and caught my attention:

    • Yahoo's 360º page. It seems to be a one-stop shop for information on those using Yahoo's personalization services. Email, Groups, etc with room for pictures, testimonials, about each individual person.

      What's odd about it so far is it seems to be by invitation only - I send out e-mail invitations to people to come view the page and join the "Friends" list, thus creating some sort of separate circle of links to others' 360º pages...or something like that. It's all very confusing. So if you see an invite in your inbox do the inthing and make an in--er, entrance.

    • I'm now the happy recipient of a Best East Tennessee Bloggers Award (which seems to be given out to just about anyone who asks -- sortof like Rocky Top Brigade membership) from the nice folks at the Award-Winning Tennessee Bloggers site. This seems to be a very slick site, with feeds from news sources and bloggers all over Tennessee. Worth a visit.

    Again, I'm not certain what it means but it all seems terribly prestigious so I'm happy to be a part of them both!

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    News For Those on the Go....

    So, I'm driving back to work today from lunch, and I'm on the Pelissippi Parkway...

    I look over and the guy in the little red Mazda driving next to me has the newspaper open and draped across the steering wheel, so he can presumably catch the box score of the game last night or catch up on his stock prices while he cruises...


    And I thought I was the only one who did that...

    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    PeggiKaye Interviews Me

    The meme spreads...pretty soon I'll be interviewing Barbara Walters.

    1. Start with an easy one: Why did you choose your blog name?

    Ok - The Inn of the Last Home is the name of a fictional inn from the Dragonlance series of fantasy novels. It's the "home base" of the main characters in the stories, and serves as a respite and gathering place for the principles when in their brief periods of downtime. My wife and I have always joked that if we ever bought one of those beach houses that people have given cutesy names to, like "Sea Haven" or "Gulf Bungalow" we would name our "Inn of the Last Home," so our friends and family would always know they were welcome. So when I created the site I wanted it to be a "calm spot in a world of dragons," where people could come escape some of the heated rhetoric and side-taking of some other sites and hopefully enjoy some interesting stories and conversation.

    I don't know - have I succeeded?

    2. What has been the hardest & most rewarding thing of being a parent?

    The hardest thing so far (our kids are 9 and 5, and I'm certain the problems evolve accordingly as they get older) has been a constant, nagging fear that I will do or say something wrong at a critical time...or not do or say something at a critical time that should've been done or said, that will cause some harm or otherwise neglect to our children when they need it the most. I tend to over-obsess (is that a hyperbole?) when they're sick, or seem to be sick. Only recently have I let them venture out of the confines of the yard by themselves to visit a neighbor. I hear so many stories about kids who had loving parents and good homes, but turned out to be rebellious and causing tremendous family strain - I can't allow that happen if there's something I can do to prevent it. I want to be the best father I can be, at all times and in all ways - any less than that I consider a personal failure and a source of potential harm to the kids. That's a hard obsession to fight.

    The most rewarding thing I think is simply spontaneous hugs and kisses from them. I'm sitting by yourself, reading a book or watching TV, and Tink will trot by, hop up on my lap and give me a hug, saying, "I love you, daddy". Then snuggle in. That's the reward like no other, there, and evidence I must be doing something right...

    3. If your life was a sporting team, what kind of team would it be, and what position (player) would be missing to make it the most balanced, highest quality team possible?

    My life is a baseball team - many specialties, all working together for the common good. No DH - no shortcuts for me. Everyone pulls his weight. The one thing that I'm lacking is a good Relief Pitcher... that one guy who comes in during the middle-late innings to pick up the pace and push through in the stretch toward winning the game. I'm afraid I may become complacent, eventually in life. Right now I figure in my life it's about the top of the fourth, and my starter is still in - but who knows? I need to have confidence about the future that everything is well taken care of...

    4. If your life was the team stated above, and you had to sell that team to a buyer, what qualities would you say it had to make it worth the buy?

    The players and coaching staff would be honorable, and worth the investment made in them. They would play fair, with sportsmanship and creativity - not always going for the orthodox or standard type of game, but finding ways to improvise and improve on existing strategies. They would be able to understand the other teams strengths and weaknesses, and deal with them accordingly. Finally they would win with grace and lose with dignity but realize that the important thing is to enjoy the ride.

    5. If there was on turning point in your life that you could say changed the direction of your life, what would that be, and why?

    Ok, here's one I hadn't really thought of until you asked. After I graduated from college with a degree in Theatre, I applied to several schools for graduate study in Directing. Although I was accepted at most of them, none of them came through with the financial support I would have needed to continue my education at that level, so I soon abandoned the prospect of going on to grad school. Incidentally, all of the schools (except for Memphis State) were outside of Tennessee.

    Had I decided to attend, it would have taken my away from Laura who was at the time my girlfriend, but not yet a fiancee. Since we both stayed in Knoxville after she did graduate from UT Grad School, we got jobs and built careers here in town.

    If I had gone out of town to Graduate School and gotten an M.F.A, who knows where that might have taken me? The career track for directing M.F.A.'s is either into Artistic Director-ship at professional theatres, or traveling around the country to direct shows wherever. Either one might've signaled the end to our relationship, which would've meant our present together with our family would've been nonexistent.

    Strange what happens in life, isn't it?


    That sound you just heard was me coming home to realize 24 didn't tape last night......

    My (Former) Sleep Habits - Part II

    Here is the chart from my second night of sleep study, the following week:

    (click to enlarge)

    Note I slept about an hour less than I did the first time: 10:28pm - 6:12am (about 7-3/4 hours). I'm not sure why she woke me up when she did, though I think I was just coming off a sleep cycle and rousing slightly, so it would have been easier to wake me then than an hour later.

    So, compare the two studies and you can see a radical change:

    The first line charting sleep stages is a lot different, but I happened to not sleep as well that night - mainly due to general tiredness, plus that I was wearing a CPAP machine on my face and not familiar with the sensation. I had a few dream periods apparently, but not as lengthy and not as intense. Similarly the second line of sleep position shows I was on my back most of the night, except for a brief period when I laid on my side. This was also due to the CPAP, as I was afraid moving around much would knock it off.

    The third line is where the improvements really start showing up. The frequency of hypopneas episodes (or shallow breathing) was vastly decreased, and the apnea episodes (no breathing) were practically non-existant.

    The fourth line shows the oxygen saturation level stayed in the 90-95% range the entire night, which is a quantum level difference than the previous night.


    So, that's why I wear the monstrosity at night now. It's gotten remarkably easier to wear after several trial-and-error sessions of getting it to fit just right. I have good nights and not-so-good nights. Sometimes my nose gets extremely irritated and sore, and some mornings I wake up with dry mouth and sore throat. I haven't really noticed any marked improvement in my day-time "feel", but the doc said that mostly the patients who experienced a lot of drowsiness during the day (which I really didn't) would feel the most obvious outward signs that it's working.

    But the test doesn't lie, and obviously more oxygen in your system and less interrupted sleep can only be better for you so I'll be patient.

    Monday, April 04, 2005

    My (Former) Sleep Habits

    I don't know if this would be of interest to anyone, but I found it fascinating.

    Here is the actual chart of the first night of my sleep study. I was wired to detect everything detectable about me, but with no breathing assistance:

    (click to enlarge)

    You can see I went to sleep at 10:21pm and was awoken at 7:05am for about 8-1/2 hours of sleep. Even with my cold, it was the best night's sleep I'd had in several days :)

    The top line shows sleep stages, with accompanying periods of dreams in the darkened in areas. You can see I had some shorter dream periods about an hour into sleep and another a little after midnight. Then what's really interesting to me are the two dream cycles at about 3:45-4:05am and from about 6:15-6:50am. I remember these two dreams having occured (the first was fairly intense, while the second very detailed). I remember wondering if they had recorded these instances and, indeed, they had.

    The second line is sleep position, of which I slept on my back most of the night except for between 4:30-6:30 when I slept on my side. Sleeping on my back, as you'll see later, is what causes a lot of my sleep apnea problems.

    The third line records each instance of breathing anomolies during my sleep, which is where things start getting interesting. Hypopnea is a slowing down of breathing in general, while apnea is the brief stoppage of breathing altogether. From the tons of little lines on the hypopnea row, you'll see I slowed my breathing down to abnormal levels hundreds of times during the night, and the apnea line below shows I actually stopped breathing (for only a few seconds at a time) during the deepest parts of sleep. Correspond that to the first major dream cycle (which was the intense one) and you can see that it actually was very high. The doc said I recorded over 350 episodes of apnea/hypopnea during the night, which averaged out to around 45/hour. That's basically a little more than once a minute I stopped breathing for a short period. A good range is about 5-15 episodes/hour, of more concern is about 15-25 episodes/hour. You can see now where I actually stand. This, my friends is what is technically referred to as Not Good.

    And here's the kicker.

    The fourth line shows oxygen saturation, which most of you know is kind of required for healthy living. Normal human beings live their lives, then slumber blissfully with an oxygen saturation level of about 90-95% in the bloodstream. For me however, even in the first half-hour to hour of sleep the readings fluxuated up and down as low as 80%. Then, corresponding to those deeper levels of sleep, beginnings of dreams, and increased episodes of apnea/hypopnea the O-2 saturation went down to 70%, then in the middle of the night actually got down to a low of about 65% for a brief time. That information, combined with the other readings is what compelled them to bring me back for a second round of study the following week.

    More on the follow-up visit and the readings that resulted next time.

    Interview of Logtar

    Here are my questions for Logtar. I'll link to his answers when they're ready..

    1) You mention in your bio that you are a translator and interpreter. How many languages do you speak, what is your favorite, which do you think is the most unusual language you know and tell us an interesting incident you had using your translation skills.

    2) You list several Dan Brown novels as your favorites, including "The DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons". What about Brown's writing attracts you, and do you read similar novels? Also, in light of reading "Angels and Demons", how did this past week's death of the Pope resonate with you?

    3) Why did you decide to study martial arts, and how do you think this study has helped or otherwise influenced your spiritual life?

    4) Why did you decide to start a blog?

    5) Tell an amusing anecdote from when you and your wife were dating that she would kill you to reveal to the world :)

    UPDATE (04/05): Logtar's answers are here!

    Opening Day 2005 - Put Me In Coach

    Well, basketball is over - but it's time for God's sport to begin...

    Ball, strike, out, safe, foul, single, double, triple, home run, first, second, third, home, outfield, infield, pitcher, catcher, hitter, batter, left, right, center, suicide squeeze, bunt, pop-up, fly ball, grounder, Spring Training, Opening Day, All Star, diving catch, play at the plate, "Holy Cow!", "What's interesting here...", the Babe, Mick, sandlot, in the dirt, four-bagger, around the horn, bases loaded, ducks on the pond, double play, triple play, riding the pine, off the bench, pinch runner, pinch hitter, designated hitter, inning, wins, losses, saves, Pete, Earned Run Average, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, Sandy, Ted, "if you build it, they will come", Little League, "Walk of Life" video from Dire Straights, Jackie, Cal, sacrifice fly, hot dogs at Fenway, Budweiser at Wrigley, sushi at Dodger Stadium, "...and DOWN the stretch he comes!!", Johnny Bench, hit and run, double steal, extra innings, Mr. October, bottom of the ninth, runners on the corners, fast ball, slow ball, slider, curve, change-up, eephus, knuckler, Neikro, "K's", The World Series, The National Anthem, "Take me out to the Ballgame", low and away, high and inside, brush-back, bean, bench-clearer, balk, walk, strike-out, hit-by-pitch, cut-off man, rounding third, relaying the throw, making the tag, out at home.

    Glove, bat, ball.


    Put Me In, Coach, I'm ready to play.

    (originally posted here)

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    What does your birth month reveal about you?

    Take the quiz: "What does your birth month reveal about you?"

    Loyal and generous. Sexy. Patriotic. Active in games and interactions. Impatient and hasty. Ambitious. Influential in organizations. Fun to be with. Loves to socialize. Loves praises. Loves attention. Loves to be loved. Honest and trustworthy. Not pretending. Short tempered. Changing personality. Not egoistic. Take high pride in oneself. Hates restrictions. Loves to joke. Good sense of humor. Logical.

    Well, I think that sums it up quite nicely.

    Friday, April 01, 2005

    Interviewed by Logtar

    Following is my interview from Logtar. God have mercy on my soul..



    1. Can I call you Berry? LOL. I actually found your blog before I even found Michaels, I have read it and commented here and there. Of all of your posts in your blogs which you do you think was the most controversial and least commented?

    By far the most controversial topic I ever touched on was Concealed Carry laws. It actually started with a comment on another blog, regarding my opposition to untrained people being allowed to carry guns on their person in public, that spun out of control. I felt a need to post this rebuttal, which just fueled the fire. I still hear about the controvery today as occasionally gun-rights advocates will dredge my comments out for their own general amusement and righteous head-shaking.

    My least commented post....well, very few of my posts garner many comments which is a source of some consternation on my part at times. I'm not the type of blogger that posts to see myself post - I love interaction, and I love knowing that people are not only reading me but thinking about what I write about. Unfortunately, I don't know this for sure unless they comment - stats are nice, but feedback and interaction are true measures that what I'm saying is interesting and worthwhile.

    There have been several posts I've made where I've bared a small sliver of my soul that has received few if any comments. I understand that what's important to me isn't necessarily important to anyone else but it's nice to know people out there feel and understand the emotions and passions which others apply to certain situations, and empathize.

    2. Now that I got you thinking this is going to be all disconnected and not too personal I will in deep. I know that you love Laura… but my questions is, can you pinpoint for us, and I am hoping not to get you in trouble, the exact moment when you knew she was the one.

    Ah, memories. I posted a few days ago how we first met, and with her permission (after the fact), I'll post a little more.

    We had been going out a few times - I don't recall specifically what we did early on, but we eventually ended up getting takeout at Wendy's one night. She drove me back to the UT Wesley Foundation, where I'd parked my car, in her Turbo White LeBaron. I think we sat in that car talking, chatting, BS'ing, flirting - with the engine running (both the car and mine) for about an hour. I would pretend to get out and leave, and she'd holler for me to get back in. After a long time of her chatting, I leaned close, said:

    "You know what?"

    "What?" she replied, puzzled..

    "You talk too much." And I kissed her. And thus was the beginning of the future.

    3. I know you also care for Michael like a brother, ok maybe like an ugly step brother. As a brother what is the thing you have wanted to tell Michael that you have not said already. And do not get out of this one easy, I know there is something there.


    No, that was to Logtar, not you Mike. That's for making me answer this question...

    Mike, if I'd known you then like I'd known you now I would've made a place for you as one of my groomsmen in my wedding way back when. But at the time, I'd only known you for a little while and had no idea the kind of influence you would eventually have on mine and my family's life. Thank you for all you've been for us, and I hope we eventually grow old watching "Star Trek XXI: Revenge of the Imaginary Friend" together.

    4. You had no idea what you were signing up for did you :) but that is just me. We know you have two children and a loving wife, besides getting married and the birth of your little ones what will be the happiest moment of your life?

    East Tennessee Redneck Answer: The day the UT Vols won the National Championship in 1999, bay-beee!!!!

    Ok, sorry.

    Maybe as the cruise ship sailed out of the port of Miami, as Laura and I began the 10-day celebration of our 10-year anniversary with 1,500 of our closest Caribbean friends...

    Hmm...where should we go for 20....

    Ok, next let's look ahead, shall we?

    The day my kids graduate.

    The day I walk Tink down the aisle.

    The day I hold a grandchild.

    Ok, have to stop now :)

    5. For the last one I will let you out easy. Give us your top 5 authors, your favorite book from each one of them and a small snippet about the book. Now, for the easy part, tell us what makes each one of those books great to you.

    1. Stephen White: "Warning Signs" - reasons explained in a full post here.

    2. Robert Block: "The Burgler in the Library" (Bernie Rhodenbarr Series). Bernie and his friend Caroline pursue a rare book at a mountain hideaway. Bernie is a not-so-reformed cat burglar who runs a Manhatten rare book store during the day. Something about Bernie's attitude toward life is compelling, and great reading. I wish there were more books about him than the 7-8 that Block has written.

    3. Agatha Christie: "The ABC Murders" and "The Labours of Hercules" - Two books chronicling the famous mystery solving skills of Christie's legendary Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. What can you say about Christie? You feel stupid you didn't see the clues right there in front of you!!, and Poirot ups the ante with his snootiness. Great stuff, great fun and eminintly re-readable.

    4. Stephen King: "Insomnia" - A widower experiences lengthening bouts of sleeplessness and becomes aware of an otherworldly incursion into our own - and "Hearts in Atlantis" - series of novellas and short stories, centering around a reformed Breaker and the children he influenced later in life... He's Stephen King - 'nuff said.

    I can only think of four, really. Timothy Zahn and Peter David are my favorite niche genre writers so combine them for #5.

    Amazing but True Facts

    • Molecularly speaking, water is actually much drier than sand.

    • The term "bank teller" originated in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, when banks began hiring low-paid workers to "tell" throngs of frantic depositors that their money was gone.

    • The brand name "Jelly Belly" was created in 1982 after Nancy Reagan made a much-publicized quip about her husband's 20-pound weight gain.

    • The Internal Revenue Service audits 87 percent of women who claim breast implants as tax deductions.

    • Scandinavian berserkers used to cut out their eyes before battle to spare themselves the sight of the carnage they invariably wrought.

    • Human tonsils can bounce higher than a rubber ball of similar weight and size, but only for the first 30 minutes after they've been removed.

    • Comic duo Cheech and Chong were originally known as Spic and Span before changing due to pressure from Chicano organizations.

    • The city of Slaughter, Texas (population: 11,284), has never had a homicide occur within its boundaries.

    • Rubbing Tabasco on one's upper lip before bedtime is an effective temporary cure for sleep apnea.

      (Hey, if I'd only known!!! - ed.)

    • British pop singer Baby Spice is the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandniece of Archduke William Pinkley-Hogue of Standishfordshire, making her 103rd in line for the throne of England.

    • The curved shape of a hockey stick is a throwback to prehistoric use of mastodon tusks in a similar game.

    • A Native American tribe in South Dakota collects bottle caps left by campers, using them as currency. Several banks in the area now recognize the caps as legal tender.

    • Fish have "dandruff" caused by flaking skin, and it is impossible to filter all traces of it from drinking water.

    • Moths are unable to fly during an earthquake.

    • The first case of the common cold was diagnosed in 1611 in Stratford, England. The patient? John Common, who coincidentally gave his cold to William Shakespeare who said the new malady exacerbated his lovesickness, thereby inspiring several of his most fondly remembered sonnets.

    • "Hello Kitty" began as part of a covert propaganda campaign originally proposed by Prime Minister Tojo during World War II.

    • When in heat, female hippopotami secrete an oil with a flavor similar to strawberries. Kalahari bushmen use the oil to make flat-bread treats for children.

    • If an average human scrotum were stretched until all its wrinkles were smoothed out, it could hold a basketball.

    • Ingesting small doses of ink over an extended period of time will change your eye color slightly.

    • To commemorate ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, U.S. playing card manufacturers replaced "staffs" with "hearts" as the fourth suit in the deck. The world soon followed.

    • In 1960, a then-unknown Dan Rather auditioned for the voice of cartoon character Dudley Do-Right but was turned down by animator/director Jay Ward.

    • When subjected to an electric current of at least 50 volts, a cat's tail always points toward the north.

    • If the current trend continues, by the year 2215 midgets will outnumber "normal-sized" people.

    • Scientists estimate that sleep lost due to daylight saving time reduces the average lifespan by nearly two full months.

      (SEE!?!? SEE!?!?!? I warrrrrrned ya'...Din't I warrrrrrrn ya'? - ed.)

    • In the late '90s, Microsoft secretly developed its own version of Linux, but shelved it after quality control researchers deemed it "too stable."

    • No NCAA basketball team from a school located in its state's capital has ever won the national championship.

      (Sorry, Vandy. But we kinda knew that already... - ed.)

    • The African black rhinoceros excretes its own weight in dung every 48 hours.

      (The average politician does that as well. - ed.)

    • The top three names for female babies born in China last year were Huan Yue, Jia Li and -- unlikely as it seems -- Buffy.

    • Peter Maas, creator of the character Serpico, got his character's name from an ultra-expensive, highly-prized Malaysian liqueur made from fermented viper venom.

    • Shortly before his execution, Timothy McVeigh constructed a scale model of the Lincoln Memorial with soda crackers.

    • There have been four documented cases of humans who have hibernated through an entire winter.

    • Strains of bacteria similar to E. coli have been found in spent printer cartridges -- but only in the cyan ones. Scientists have no explanation.

    • The four different people who, at various times, tried -- and failed -- to become the Guinness Book of World Records'"Human Milkshake Volcano" by drinking five gallons of milk and then riding the Six Flags Screaming' Eagle roller coaster all shared the same birthday: September 18, 1970.

    • The Australian aborigine language has over 30 words for "dust."

    • Anyone convicted of animal cruelty in Sedalia, Missouri, is sentenced to a month's confinement in the county animal shelter.

    • Fewer divorces occur in families in which the children wake their parents before 6 a.m. on Saturdays.

      (I have trouble believing this. However, I also have trouble believing that the children would live long enough to complete this survey... - ed.)

    • A futuristic automobile designed by Ford for the movie "Blade Runner" was produced and sold in limited quantities as the "Ford Harrison."

    • John F. Kennedy was an accomplished ventriloquist.

    • A bad case of laryngitis forced Abraham Lincoln to lip-sync the Gettysburg Address. The speech was actually delivered by an aide hidden beneath the stage.

    • A prominent organization of anthropologists has predicted that by the year 5000, humans will have two rectums, but only one nostril.

    • For over a decade, the number of drive-by shootings has been directly proportional to increased gas prices.

      (So, for those citizens of Knoxville I say--- LOOK OUT!!! DUCK!!!! - ed.)

    • Two-thirds of all the world's coriander comes from a single valley in Italy.

    • As the sheer volume of Internet traffic has increased, the friction of the electrons passing around the planet has increased the overall global temperature by .07 degrees.

    • Contrary to popular belief, the white is not the healthiest part of an egg. It's actually the shell.

    • A comprehensive multi-year study using pattern-recognition software determined that Millard Fillmore is the most common identifiable U.S. president seen in cloud formations.

    • Baking soda and vinegar will make your scrambled eggs fluffier.

    • The first prototype defibrillators delivered 1,200 joules of electrical energy instead of the now standard 360, occasionally causing dead bodies to sit upright momentarily as though they were still alive.

    • Ancient Egyptians used molted cobra skins as condoms.

    • Using its anal sphincter muscle, the Mongolian tapir is capable of creating high-pitched tones that can be heard by dogs nearly 30 miles away.

      (Also known as "Britney Spears". - ed.)

    • Customs officials have dogs that are trained to distinguish between Cuban cigars and all other cigars.

    • Archimedes' screw was the basis for Max Factor's invention of the twisting lipstick holder.

    • A Tokyo inventor has developed a laptop computer whose battery is recharged by energy generated from the movement of the user's mouse, yet Sony lawyers have successfully blocked every attempt to produce a product using the technology.

    • Female black cats can actually see their shadows at night.

    • Ballpoint pens were invented by a Michigan scientist attempting to reduce the number of birds killed for their quills.

    • Glamorous movie star Brad Pitt once had a summer job posting warning signs at coal mine entrances.

    • The National Weather Service will pay $30 for the rights to any original photograph of lightning.

    • U.S. Army medics in World War I knew of the germ-fighting properties of rodent saliva and carried hamsters in their medical bags to sterilize wounds in the field.

    • An early draft of the Declaration of Independence included a line by Benjamin Franklin inviting King George to "kisse our collective arse."

    • Nearly three percent of the ice in Antarctic glaciers is penguin urine.

    • The sound made when a duck passes gas is the precise acoustic opposite of its quack; if it does both simultaneously, there's no audible sound.

      (Yes, but does it echo??? - ed.)

    • Contrary to their popular image as spinsters, the average librarian has 5.9 random sex partners per year.

    • The rhesus monkey is the only animal that can be taught to hum a tune.

    • With the exception of a small 200-square-mile section of Antarctica, every single square kilometer of dry land on the planet has been walked on by at least one human being.

    • If you've made it this far and believed a single one of these, you're a bigger April Fool than the person sitting next to you on the subway when you're in Chicago three years from now at the Firefighter's convention.

    (Found at Top 5)