Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gasoline Has Now Broken The $3.00 $3.10 $3.20 $3.30 Barrier In Knoxville

...and I wonder if anyone can show me or tell me, in layman's terms, why the $.50 increase was justified because of the loss of oil production in the Gulf Coast.

In other words, if oil has topped $70/barrel, how does that equate to $.50/gal at the pump?

Someone please explain it.

GAS AVAILABILITY UPDATE: The Weigels on Topside Rd. ($3.29/gal) will be out of gas by the end of the day, and will not be receiving any more until Sunday.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Orleans Needs Saints

I donated online. How about you?

(I hope the New Orleans Saints don't mind me editing their logo slightly. Feel free to use on your own site)

This is Your Brain...

This is your brain on horrifying, mind-addling, all-perspective-on-reality-losing grief:

I take responsibility partly for my son’s death, too. I was raised in a country by a public school system that taught us that America was good, that America was just. America has been killing people, like my sister over here says, since we first stepped on this continent, we have been responsible for death and destruction. I passed on that bullshit to my son and my son enlisted. I’m going all over the country telling moms: “This country is not worth dying for. If we’re attacked, we would all go out. We’d all take whatever we had. I’d take my rolling pin and I’d beat the attackers over the head with it. But we were not attacked by Iraq. {applause} We might not even have been attacked by Osama bin Laden if {applause}. 9/11 was their Pearl Harbor to get their neo-con agenda through and, if I would have known that before my son was killed, I would have taken him to Canada. I would never have let him go and try and defend this morally repugnant system we have. The people are good, the system is morally repugnant.

We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now.


It’s okay for Israel to occupy Palestine, but it’s – yeah – and it’s okay for Iraq to occupy – I mean, for the United States to occupy Iraq, but it’s not okay for Syria to be in Lebanon. They’re a bunch of fucking hypocrites!


And we need to, we just need to rise up. We need a revolution and make it be peaceful and make it be loving and let’s just show them all the love we have for humanity because we want to stop the inhumane slaughter.

Read more of the transcript of her speech from back in April here. Brought to my attention at Rich's site, which has a lot more detailed commentary.

After reading this, I realize how far adrift in grief this poor woman has floated. Her facts are distorted, misguided...wrong. Her emotions direct her words, her grief overwhelms her common sense...I don't know how else to put it.

What's sobering is that I couldn't rule out the fact that if one of my kids were lost this way, I might not end up the exact same way.

Any questions?

Sad But Inevitable Question of the Day..

How long will it take until a wacked-out "Christian" minister or speaker happens to say that New Orleans, being the den of depravity, iniquity and general modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah that it is, deserved to be "washed clean" of its sins and was dealt this tragedy by the vengeful Hand of God?

If it hasn't happened already, I give it till tomorrow. But it'll happen.

Maybe good ole' Fred Phelps and his band of merry men can turn right back around from leaving Nashville and demonstrate in front of the survivors.

UPDATE: And SayUncle found it:
"Tonight, I heard one of the worst things I have heard in a long time: a supposed man of God suggested that the South deserves the death and devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina because it is revenge for centuries of racism."

Hedging Their Bets

I just thought this was amusing, that in the midst of all this destruction...

...we see the severe weather advisories from Weather Underground. But as you see in the circled portion:

they seem to be taking no chances. I suppose if you live in Hawaii or Seattle (or Yellowstone) that might come in handy...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Backtracking at Warp Speed

US evangelist apologizes for Chavez remarks
"Conservative U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson apologized on Wednesday for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying he spoke in frustration earlier in the week."
Oh, that's rich...
""We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," he said on his "The 700 Club" television program."
This wasn't some backroom conversation, Pat, and you weren't debating someone in the heat of the moment - this was on your own show.
"His earlier remarks, said the leader of the world's fifth largest oil exporter was a "terrific danger" to the United States and Chavez intended to become "the launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.""
These are not the remarks of someone speaking of the cuff - you were speaking with deliberacy and forethought.
"Robertson said that while he was criticized by U.S. political and religious leaders, he found the attention he wanted for what he said was "a growing problem which has largely been ignored.""
There's the money statement right there - "he found the attention he wanted"...
"Earlier in the day he said his remarks had been misinterpreted and "take him out" could refer to kidnapping."
Ho ho ho...Pat! Kidnapping? You're killing me! Ha ha ha - Oh my...
" The Venezuelan foreign ministry said it was not satisfied with U.S. officials' dismissal of Robertson's remarks and wanted the White House to take legal action.

"This public call to assassinate a head of state, considered a crime by all modern legislation, is prosecutable by its very nature. That is what the civilized world is expecting of U.S. authorities," the Venezuelan government said on Wednesday."
However, on the other side of the pond this is almost as amusing. Obviously a dictatorship like in Venezuela would never have heard of free speech, and would assume his statements - as asinine as they were - would be in any way illegal. Every idiot has the God- and state-given right to speak his peace. And it's also amusing in the scary sort of way that Chavez would consider Robertson a "U.S. authority." That probably has Pat pretty proud of himself, right there...
""Mr Robertson has been one of this president's staunchest allies. His statement demands the strongest condemnation by the White House," Venezuela's ambassador to the United States Bernardo Alvarez said."
Well, they actually got that one right. Even broken clocks are right twice a day...
"Chavez was elected in 1998, survived a referendum on his rule last year, and is seen to have a strong chance of winning re-election in 2006."
God Bless Democracy...

This Just In...

Study: Placebos Make People Feel Better
"Patients will feel better if they believe they're taking painkillers — even if their doses contain no medication, according to a University of Michigan study.

The study, examining the placebo effect, shows that the brain releases chemicals that relieve pain in patients who believe they're being treated."
In other news, scientists discover that Bactine helps the hurt stop hurting, Band-Aids make the owie go away and a spoonful of sugar in fact does help the medicine go down. In a most delightful way.

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Pick One...

From April's: Here's the deal - pick what you'd keep if you had to give one up, pick both, or neither (something like that).

Chickens or Cows - Cows...I like steak 10x better than I like chicken. And chickens look and act funny
Doritos or cheetos or other - Wow. What a choice. I think I'd ultimately have to say Doritos, though I don't eat them as much as Cheetos because they're more expensive.
Kid’s cereal or adult cereal - I don't eat cereal much, but the kids do so I'll say kids. Oh, get rid of them both and bring me a big plate of bacon and hash browns...
Republican, Democrat, third party, apolitical - Independent, the only way to be.
Leno or Letterman - You know...if you go out in the back yard late at night, and listen v-e-e-e-r-y can almost hear the people crying: "Dave.....Dave.....D-a-a-a-a-v-e......."
Camping or Hotel - Hotel.
Bus or train - I don't think I've ever ridden a train outside of an amusement park, but it looks fun so I'll say that.
Jerky or gum - Neither.
Dogs or cats - Hm. I like both types of my domesticated friends but I'll say cats
Autumn, Winter, Spring, or Summer - Right now, spring. Ask me in a month and I'll say fall.
Oceans or Mountains - Both. Can't have either, nope nope nope...
Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny - While I can do a great Mickey voice, and my daughter loves him and the whole gang, they really don't have anything on a good "Ain't I a stinker?"
Golf or tennis - *snore*..."wuzzit..what?"
Chimpanzees or Dolphins - Dolphins. Well, I used to like the Dolphins a lot but now I like the Titans and the Colts.
Sailing or gliding - Gliding on what, a rocker? I've never actually been "sailing" although I did ride a catamaran once. And I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night...
Squirrels or bunnies - Don't talk to me about squirrels.
Butterflies or flowers - Butterflies kind of creep me out sometimes. It's not that there's anything ugly or wrong about them - they're lovely. Just the way they randomly flap around, and sometimes get in your face...*shudder*. I'll take a nice field of flowers over a field of butterflies, cause if I was hiking and came upon a field full of butterflies I'd start wishing I'd packed the Napalm.
Cheesecake or strawberry pie - Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....cheesecake.
Ice tea or soda - Ice tea, baby. I once picked Coca-Cola as my favorite food, but those days are long gone...
Thumbs or big toes - Thumbs, although I suppose if I had no big toes I couldn't walk. But with no thumbs I couldn't pick things up, and I can always crawl...
Sunsets or Sunrises - They still have sunrises? I never see them. I love a gorgeous ocean sunset...
Volley ball or frisbee - Volleyball. I had the chance to play mud volleyball against a team from Hooters once. Once.
Hip hop or country - Country. Hip hop's not music, it's....chaos theory with good P.R.
Books or music (ouch!) - Argh. Not choosing.
West Coast or East Coast - East Coast, cause that's where all the culture is. But hey! The West Coast has...well, let's see. It, well it had that thing, and that thing - oh! and that other thing. Plus it almost had the USS Iowa but San Francisco got cheeky...
Tiger Woods or Phil Mickleson (sp?) - Eh. I still pick Chi Chi Rodriguez.
Ponies or ice creme - huh? What do these...why are they in the same...oh skip it. keep the ponies, who needs the grief?
TV Remote control or TV volume - Remote Control...because then I can turn up the volume. Silly quiz.
Radio or TV - TV. They still broadcast radio?
Beatle music or Rolling Stone music - Beatles!
Epicureans or Stoics - I pick the Epicureans by 3 with a long field goal by Plotinus in overtime. And Epicurean quarterback Plato will throw 3 TD's to Wide Receiver Aristotle.
McDonalds or Taco Bells - I actually like Taco Bell a little better these days...well, these days being a misnomer since I haven't actually eaten at a Taco Bell in about 3-4 years. But that just shows how I've grown to dislike McDonalds lately.
For TN people> Krystal or Back Yard Burgers - BYB. Because they's owned by my good buddy David. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What is a Sin?

As an exercise and sort of a poll, can you list those things you believe are sins?

Feel free to defend if you like, but mainly I'm just interested in seeing a list...

UPDATE: The list thus far:

1) Pride.
2) Envy. (10th Commandment)
3) Gluttony.
4) Lust (7th Commandment)
5) Wrath.
6) Greed (10th Commandment)
7) Sloth.
8) Vandalism (8th Commandment)
9) Theft (8th Commandment)
10) Deceit (9th Commandment)
11) Betrayal
12) Infidelity (7th Commandment)
13) Disregarding others' feelings
14) Killing (6th Commandment)

I've added where I think the Commandments have addressed these, if you think a commandment addresses one I haven't specified, let me know.

I'm also looking for sins that aren't directly tied to a commandment... Keep going, this is great...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Changes In the Air...

I can feel them. And it's not just the loss of summer, slipping noiselessly into fall.

Fall 2005 seems to be shaping up as a season of change for us. Some things are definite, some are planned. Some are big maybes and big hopes, and some are big pies-in-the-sky. But even if only a few of the changes come to pass, life at the Inn of the Last Home will soon be quite different than it was back in the spring.

The definites involve the kids: BrainyBoy v9.5 started baseball practice last night, which tickles me to the depths of my Field of Dreams-lovin' soul. He played little-kid coach-pitch when he was in kindergarten and first grade, then switched to soccer for the last two years. Now, with due encouragement from dad, he's gone back to baseball again - at least in the fall. We'll go back to soccer in the spring and likely alternate as the seasons change. Now, through my own PeteRose-colored glasses, he looks like a bit of a Natural on the field. The right size, the right build - he'll never be a shortstop but he has a fluid catch and a decent arm. Last night he made some great catches in left field that wowed even his coaches (and me), plus he's solidly built so he should be able to make some decent contact at the plate. Besides, just seeing him on a diamond, wearing a baseball cap, sends chills of normalcy down my spine. I love it.

The other definite is for both kids - they auditioned Saturday morning and were accepted into the Oak Ridge kids showchoirs, "Sound Company" (for BB, and "Sound Company, Too!" for tink). Neither has been in these kinds of groups before, but they're both great singers and good performers so it shouldn't be much of a shock. The group(s) will be performing around Oak Ridge and Knoxville in the coming months, so keep an eye out for them.

Yes, big changes. There will be scheduling adjustments that need to be made, which will involve sacrifices and hard work for all of us. But that may just be the beginning.

I'll keep everyone abreast of what's going on in our lives. Some of the other things in the hopper may never come to pass, or maybe they all will - who knows. But either way, I like it. Because change is something that should always happen, lest we get too comfortable. We'll see.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday's Feast

Feast Sixty - Friday, August 19, 2005

Appetizer - Do you get excited when the season begins to change? Which season do you most look forward to?

That answer's changed a bit over the years. When I was a kid, I looked forward to summer the most (of course) but as I've gotten older I've gotten to enjoy spring and fall more. Spring especially, since I can't stand winter and it means warmer weather is coming. Fall means crisp air, the smell of fallen leaves and football. Change is nice, at least when you're changing from something good to something else good. Going into winter is horrible.

Soup - What day of the week is usually your busiest?

Tuesday is the busiest work day since I always have a Bible study in the morning at Shoneys with some friends of mine from church, and we have a staff lunch in the afternoon at work. Wednesdays are the busiest overall because we have church stuff all evening. Fridays are typically the lightest days.

Salad - Would you consider yourself to be strict when it comes to grammar and spelling? What's an example of the worst error you've seen?

I am pretty strict when it comes to grammar and spelling - I'm usually quite good at catching my own mistakes. It hacks me off to see the lack of precision and caring that a lot of online writers (term used loosely) who care more for just regurgitating their thoughts without regard for conventional writing rules.

My biggest pet peeve is spelling "lose" as "loose" - as in "He's a looser"...

Main Course - Who has a birthday coming up, and what will you give them as a gift?

Tink's 6th birthday is coming up in about a month, and we're planning some kind of princess or fairy party for her. As to what she's getting....I have no idea. Ask my wife ;)

Dessert - If you could have any new piece of clothing for free, what would you pick?

A complete Darth Vader costume for Halloween, complete with all the blinky lights and everything. Because since I was a kid I thought it would be the coolest thing ever (especially with my height and build) to be Vader for Halloween. So, if anybody has one lying around....

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Weep For Me...

Just returned to Blockbuster: "The West Wing" - Season 1

Just rented from Blockbuster: "The West Wing" - Season 2


The End of the Beginning...

  • Finished "The West Wing" season one last night - great guns, who will survive??? Guess I'll find out tonight when I return it to Blockbuster and get Season 2...

  • BrainyBoy starts baseball in a couple of weeks. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do. He played coach-pitch for a couple of years when he first started school, then soccer took over. Now he wants to play baseball again, which is great. The Fall leagues are less competitive, and we found out yesterday his new coach is the father of one of his good friends from school, and we've known their family for years - plus his buddy will be on the team, so he'll have someone he knows right away.

    He seems to have some natural ability, so we'll see what happens.

  • Both BrainyBoy and Tink are going to try out for the Oak Ridge Children's Choir this Saturday - one memorized song each. I personally thought they should sing the "Henry VIII" song, but I was voted out...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

First Day Back

Today was the first day back to school for BrainyBoy v9.5 (4th grade) and Tink (1st grade).

These things are getting more and more routine. It's BB's fifth first day, which is nothing to him now except enjoying seeing his old friends. With Tink, it's her second and she's already a pro.

I don't have really anything particularly poignant about the day, except just to say how amazingly proud and in love with both of them I am. ;)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gas Horror Stories

As I mentioned before, I drove to Nashville to see the Tennessee Titans play on Friday. Overnight Thursday night, gas had jumped from $2.19/gal to $2.35/gal. I filled up before I left, muttering and cursing all the while for not doing so the night before.

Now, my little Taurus holds about 13 gallons or so, and gets a decent 23mpg on the interstate - when I don't run my AC. But since I was still recovering from the Cold from Hell (®), I was ordered advised by my wife to use it. Normally, I like to roll both front seat windows down and leave the vent on - that's enough to keep me cool, even in the hottest weather. But I did what every American husband did, followed her wishes.

So after driving about Nashville to downtown and to Michael's house, I had to fill up again on Saturday. Now by this time, gas (in Nashville, mind, but it was similar here) was up to $2.45/gal. Another dime, in one day. I made it to Cookeville, which is about 1/3 of the way back, but it was still the second time in two days I'd had to fill up. Thankfully my cold was better and I was able to keep the AC off and roll the windows down.

Finally, I had to fill up again yesterday (Monday) due to driving all over East Tennessee at the lake, helping out my wife, running errands for work, driving the kids to where they needed to go.... so at the highest gas prices on record, I've filled up my tank three times in the past four days. Thank goodness I did find gas for the cheap, cheap, cheap price of $2.39/gal at the Shell station on Asheville Highway.

What's next? I'm down to 3/4 tank since then. Next fill-up, probably Thursday or Friday if I'm lucky.

Here's my big question - where, O where, is my flying car??? We were promised flying cars, and I want my flying car! Not that it would save me any money or gas, necessarily, but after I install my flux capacitor I'm going back in time to 1980 and buy stock in Microsoft. To pay for my next tank of gas...

Monday, August 15, 2005


I am obsessed with "The West Wing".

I have rented the 1st Season of from Blockbuster.

I have watched the first sixteen episodes and half the extras already.

I have six more to go, plus the commentaries and the rest of the extras.

When I close my eyes, I see Janel Maloney. This is a good thing. When I open my eyes, I see Richard Schiff. This is not a good thing.

I hear the theme in my head. I'm contemplating learning to play it on the guitar. When I walk around, I imagine I should be talking to people as I walk.

I worry about things like whether they can actually see the Washington Monument that close up from a window in the Pentagon...

Every so often I feel like I should be going to do the, you know, the "thing". What "thing"? Oh yeah, the "thing". Sorry, I have to go - I have a "thing".

I also am starting to wonder what it would be like to do something that important.

Help me.

Because I still have about four more seasons to completely catch up on.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Cancer is a Jerk

Daniel Champion from Popping Culture has died.

I found his site not long ago from frequent references from The Sheila Variations. He was a minister, an excellent writer, a great humorist, and ultimately a cancer and pneumonia victim. I looked forward to visiting his site daily for his great wit and great courage in the face of surmounting odds. His courage has been and will be an inspiration.

Dan, you will be remembered fondly.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Go Titans

Headed out to watch the Titans and Bucaneers play tonight in Nashville with Big Orange Michael. Still sick, so I took the first half of the day off to rest up (chest cold, head cold, that sort of thing. I'll be ok).

See you guys later.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Scottish Play

Here's an interesting article which gives some background on why the Shakespearean play Macbeth is cursed, and why He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named cannot be said in a theatre outside actual dialogue.

Ask any actor about "The Scottish Play" and they'll know what you mean...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Here Comes the Sun....I Wish.

Is there a website that goes into more depth (from a layman's perspective, not geekspeak) on how much power can be generated from solar energy in mass quantities, and in general at what price? I'd just like to see some hard numbers. How many kw/h can be produced with solar, compared to fossil fuels, and how does the price compare in building and maintaining these new power plants?

I mean, sure, we don't want thousands and thousands of sq. miles of solar panels - but could there be a compromise balance created, at least temporarily until technology and economy catch up? So that while we may still be depending on oil we're not depending on it nearly as much?

70%? 60%?

What if solar (and other non-fossil fuels like nuclear, wind, hydroelectric, etc) were pooled together to power stationary objects like cities and leave oil-based to power vehicles? What would that save? Would that be doable? I just want to see some #'s...

The Piano Man Mystery

I feel sorry for this guy, but what a great mystery:

Doctors say identity of 'Piano Man' may never be knownDoctors say identity of 'Piano Man' may never be known
"The so-called "Piano Man", a tall blonde-haired stranger thought to be in his 20s or early 30s, was found on April 7 on the beach at Minster, on the south coast of England, soaking wet but fully dressed in a black suit and tie, with no clue as to his origin.

He has not spoken since and has not responded to written appeals while being kept under observation in the psychiatric hospital.

But he has fascinated social workers, the British media and the general public over his one means of communication: playing classical piano music.

When given a pencil and paper by hospital staff, he drew a grand piano -- and then, when shown a piano at the hospital chapel, he impressed his carers with a remarkable virtuoso performance."
They have no idea who he is, where he came from or where his relatives might be. No one has come forward to identify him and he is unable to speak to the doctors. He obviously has to have a story, but what could it be?

1) Did he fall off a cruise ship or other boat where he was a guest or entertainer?

2) Did he get drunk at a soiree and go for a swim, fully clothed?

What's interesting to speculate is whether his piano-playing ability has any real relationship to the fact that he was dressed in a tux - he could have been just a guest at a party, but was incidentally also a talented pianist. The one could have nothing to do with the other.

Who knows. He could even be faking amnesia or catatonia or whatever he has. Or the memories of a horrible trauma could be repressed. I hope he recovers, for his own sake and the sake of his loved ones, but I also hope the mystery is someday solved...

Multiplication Rocks!

One of the joys of summer vacation for parents is the end of it. No, not necessarily because it gets kids out of the house - they're out of the house all day anyway. It's the prospect of seeing their kids start a new school year, and anticipating everything that will happen to them in the next nine months or so.

However, in our kids' school the upcoming teachers sometimes assign over-the-summer homework - not that uncommon, really, and it's more like prep-work than homework. In preparing to enter the fourth grade, BrainyBoy v9.5 was to be able to discuss one book he's read over the summer, and also to become proficient with his times tables.

Now I'm sure many of you will remember the grueling hours spent with flash cards, math books, paper and pencil...attempting to commit the dreaded "twice times", as A.A. Milne put it, to memory. I recall sitting in the corner of my elementary school classroom with my teacher, popping the answers out of my brain as she pointed with a very long stick to different equations on a large sheet of paper. 2 X 5? 10!.....7 X 9? 63! For the most part, I think I did pretty well. But I, as did many of my generation, had a little extra practice. On Saturday Mornings.

Schoolhouse Rock, as most of you know, was the set of musical cartoon shorts they played between Saturday morning TV shows on ABC back in the 70's and 80's... Grammer, History, Science and Math rocked to the beats of "I'm Just A Bill" and "Conjunction Junction". Hardly an American between 35-45 can't sing to you, on demand, the Preamble to the Constitution.

Well, a couple years ago I just happened to purchase the entire DVD collection of Schoolhouse Rock. Strictly for my kids, of course - I would never admit to rewatching them myself.


So tonight, in reviewing our lagging-behind times tables, BrainyBoy (and Tink, because, well, cartoons are cartoons) began their weeklong journey into learning the multiplication tables by song. And that's how we spent our evening: watching, singing, and learning that...yes, indeed, Three is a Magic Number.

Monday, August 08, 2005

I've Regained My Weekends...

Well, the play is over. We finished our fourth and final weekend of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris yesterday, and it's good to be over. It's always the same for any play...although you generally have a good time performing, after a while it can get really old and routine. "Jacques Brel" never got that far, mainly because it was so short (1-1/2 hours), and ever after all this time we still enjoyed doing the songs.

I don't know what I'm going to do next. I'm planning to speak to the Artistic Director about possibly directing a show or two at the Black Box Theatre in the next year, and I may come back and music direct their next musical, whatever it will be. I'd love to explore joining their company or board of directors, as well. Who knows, I may hook back up with the Oak Ridge Playhouse, where I haven't been for a couple years now, since I finished Company.

However, one thing is true - it seems to become more and more difficult to look on the faces of my kids when I leave home in the evening for rehearsal or performance. The expressions I see when they realize I'm leaving at 6:30 for the theatre and won't see them again till tomorrow morning is nothing to be desired - nor is the fact I'm voluntarily giving up one evening I could spend with them to selfishly pursue my own hobbies. Were they older I likely wouldn't feel the same way, as they would probably be wrapped up in their own evening activities, but at 9 and 5 (almost 6), every moment with them is precious and not to be taken for granted.

Last year I even traveled to Florida to music direct a show, and was completely separated from my family for two whole weeks. What are the long-term effects from that? What could they have been? Fathers all around the country travel out of town for work and leave their families behind for a brief period, and I'm sure most of them love their kids as much as I do. My own dad used to spend every Monday night in Kentucky as part of his job, and it never bothered me that much - I knew he was coming back, and we still had plenty of time to spend with each other the rest of the week.

One justification is the fact that I occasionally actually get paid for my efforts - in this case, surprisingly well as a nice bonus was added to my check to make up for the fact we only had two band members instead of the planned four. And the extra money will always help. But is it worth it? Is there a point where indulging this hobby of mine - if you can call it a hobby, after all it was my college major and directing and performing are what I love to do more than anything - interferes too much with my family life. And as much as I love theatre, I love them infinitely more.

I get nothing but encouragement from my wife and friends, although it is an added burden on Laura to take care of the kids by herself while I'm out enjoying myself. Most everyone knows how much it means to me, as well as knowing the value I place on my kids. The difficult part is knowing, inside, when the balance has been tipped too far one way or another.

Ah well. For now, with nothing concrete on the horizon the point is moot - kids win (as they should). But when the next opportunity arises...will I snap it up, or walk away? Time will tell.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday's Feast

Appetizer - Briefly describe your living room.

The most obvious thing about our living room is its height. It's two stories tall, with a vaulted ceiling - this lets in a lot of sunlight, which is great, and gives a sense of lots of space which we like. We just bought a new couch/chair/ottoman set, which I love. We also just got a new entertainment center that kind of dwarfs our TV ;) but at least I now have a place to store my DVD's. There's a fireplace, a coffee table, and a gold highbacked chair that used to belong to Laura's grandparents. Finally, at any moment of the day any number of toys will be strewn about the floor. Some of them even belong to the kids...

Soup - List 3 things you'd like to accomplish before the end of 2005.

Great question.

1) Finish the redesign and redeployment for all the hospital websites I manage. Folks in the Knoxville area, look for ads soon about new websites for your local hospitals...

2) Secure some kind of short-term future for myself in theatre, either directing, music directing or acting at the Black Box Theatre

3) Enjoy a week's vacation at the beach in October - relaa-a-a-a-a-a-ax!

Salad - When you're online, what do you spend the most time reading/playing/doing? Suggest a site for us to visit.

Truthfully, reading blogs. That's what I spend the vast majority of my time doing these days. What other time I'm online I spend on e-mail, TV and movie discussion sites, and fantasy baseball/football.

I would suggest fans of TV shows such as "Battlestar Galactica", "The West Wing" and "24" visit Television Without Pity, a site that posts synopses and discussions on your favorite shows. I read it all the time for those three shows.

Main Course - What would the title of your autobiography be?

You know, these questions are starting to sound awfully familiar... The title of my autobiography would still be "Renaissance Man"

Dessert - What time do you usually go to bed?

Between 12am and 1am.

Volunteer Tailgate Party - August 2005

Michael at Big Orange Michael is hosting the latest Volunteer Tailgate Party, a periodic compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade.

La Question de Cinq

  1. Got any stories about your ball playing days as a youth. (youth being under forty.) (Mark)

    I practically grew up in and around Fountain City Ball Park. From T-Ball age up through junior high school I played Rec League baseball and basketball there. My dad coached several of my teams, and my younger brother played as well. The Park was a place we went, not only to play games but to see others play and generally just run around making fools of ourselves.

    If was a different time then - generally speaking, we could roam the grounds...and frequently did. When my friends and I were not on the field, we were on the sidewalk playing pick-up games of "cup ball". We bummed quarters from our moms to buy Cokes and "suicides" and little plastic fruit-shaped containers full of powdered fruit-flavored sugar to eat. We'd sneak into the press boxes to watch a game. We'd explore the banks of grass and dirt behind the Rec Center. What a great place to have fun, enjoy friends, play outdoors and just grow.

    Oh, yes, we did play ball occasionally. I love baseball, and still do. I enjoy playing first base, then - as now - having the height and reach to do a decent job. I never was a hitter, and was frequently frustrated at constant strike-outs but I never let it get me down, because the game was what mattered, not individual glory or achievement.

    And you know who taught me that? My coach. My dad.

    And I'm trying to do the same thing to BrainyBoy and Tink - teach them that individual accomplishments are nice, but adding your distinctive talent to the whole, whether it's on a ball team, in a play, in a band or symphony or choir, or just a class project - that's what's important. The ability for people to pool their efforts to create something greater than themselves solely for the fun and enjoyment of doing so is far more important than individual acclaim or glory.

    Let's see if I can do as well as my teacher :)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A Question.

  1. You've been sentenced to musical life in prison. For the rest of your life you can only hear one college fight song, and it can't me anything relating to Tennessee. (Lane)

    Which fight song would drive you to self destruction the fastest?

    University of Notre Dame Fighting IrishRepeated listenings to the Notre Dame Victory March have been known to cause episodes of violent spontaneous combustion in laboratory rats, USC Trojan fans, and old Ukranian women named "Yulga".

    Which fight song would lead you to the most violent end?

    University of Georgia BulldogsThe obvious choice would be the Florida Gators or Alabama Tide, but no - the Fight Song that, if played over and over forever would grate on my nerves and cause me to do unspeakable things to innocent little bulldogs would be the University of Georgia's Glory, Glory. Now, I like "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as much as the next guy, but the way this vile little version is played...well, imagine the syllable "nyah" on every note and you'll see how it could cause any decent, God-fearing Tennessee fan to want to find former Bulldog QB David Greene and slap him around a few times...

    Is there any fight song that would allow you to live more than 48 hours?

    Florida State University SeminolesI could handle listening to Florida State's Tomahawk Chop War Chant, because it's also the Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Chop War Chant. And I luvs the Bravo's ;)

    This is actually a very good recording...take a listen.

Ok, enough of this silliness. Here are the REAL songs:

Little to Nothing...

I got nothing. Every topic I think about discussing will surely alienate half of what little audience I have, or will be only of interest to, you tell me.

What do you want me to write about? What do you want to know about me?

  1. If you go to play one character on Broadway, who would it be and why? (Becky)

    It would be the Baker from Into the Woods. The character has such a soul - all his life he and his wife want a child, and to do so he must brave the woods to break the curse on his family. He wants to protect his wife, so he goes alone - she loves him as well, so she follows. The whole play revolves around their love for each other and desire to have a baby - when he loses her at the end and must now raise the child alone, he realizes that he has a larger family than he ever realized. His friends and the whole world are his family, and he doesn've have to be alone. It's just such a great part, to play someone with such devotion to wife and child, and also is a natural leader of the rest of the group...

  2. Why haven't you watched Firefly yet? (Michael)

    Mostly because, like Lost, I missed the first couple of episodes and didn't want to jump in in the middle. Maybe I can find the season set at Blockbuster to rent.

  3. You were part of the greatest marching band on the planet during your college career. As we count down to football season, tell us a story of some of the fun you had and what kind of routines you did...memories of band. (Michael)

    Probably my greatest memory of being in the UT Marching Band was participating in the 1986 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. We formed a big eagle, and I was the tip of the beak (I played trumpet). Lee Greenwood sang "God Bless the USA" (this was around when it first came out and was hugely popular for itself, not like now when it's considered the Bizarro America National Anthem). I've never experienced a crowd reaction like that - flashbulbs popping all over the stadium, the crowd cheering their lungs out. It was phenomenal. (Tennessee being ahead 14-7 over Miami at the half didn't hurt) ;)

    Alas, I have no "American Pie" band camp stories. Well, there was this one.....nah..

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Breaking Scientific News...

A leading NASA spokesman today reported that an object in near-Earth proximity was determined to have developed an unusually strong gravitational reaction. The object was reported by scientists as being unusually massive and dense, which up until this point had remained unnoticed by the scientific community. However, approximately three weeks ago readings taken by astronauts in the Internation Space Station in preparation for the Space Shuttle Discovery's visit had detected increased gravimetric distortions in the vicinity of Hollywood, CA.

The object in question, Jessica Alba's lips, had no comment.

What's It Like to Be a Parent?

Brother Lane explains it all...

And nothing else need be added :)

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ethics in the Workplace

A friend of mine spoke with me about an ethical quandary he's come up against at work lately. Before I relate some of the particulars, I want to assure everyone that I'm not actually talking about myself, nor is this business the one I work for. Ok.

This friend works in a well-respected technical service company and is a designer and manager for one of their departments. He, of course, is salaried, but has hourly employees working for him in secretarial and other roles. He is doing well in his job and is someone who is well grounded in Christian morals and ethical principles.

Over a long period of time, he's noticed several payroll discrepancies that his company seems to be perpetuating - due to an unusual accounting practice, all the hourly employees in his company are being shorted several hours/year in their paychecks. As a result, the employees are collectively out about a total of $7,500 for the year.

Now for a company like this, $7,500 should be a drop in the bucket, more or less. Is that amount worth skimming from your payroll, and shorting your hard-working hourly employees?

He noticed this discrepancy and has brought it to the attention of the HR departement and higher ups, all the way to the president of the company. And he's been rebuffed, redirected and ignored at every turn. Which has made him angrier and angrier each time his inquiries have been pushed aside.

He's gotten to the point where, because of these ethical violations, he's ready to quit the company. The problems are, a) he's in line for a promotion a couple years down the road that will put his income in six figures. It will also put him in a position to actively do something about the account problems, b) if he leaves the job, there are only a couple other comparable businesses in town that he might be able to move to - and if they don't work out he may have to move, and c) he has a young family with a stay-at-home mom and two young kids.

He hasn't done anything yet, and is biding his time. He claims he will not leave the company until he has some kind of safety net - however, there are a couple other unethical practices he's noticed his company has engaged in, and I'm afraid his temper may get the better of him one day...leaving him high, dry and fired.

Here's my question - should an upstanding employee feel obligated to "fall on his sword", as it were, if he perceives that the ethical standards of his business are not up to where he thinks they should be? Should he feel he has to quit in order to satisfy his sense of right and wrong? As I said, he's tried over and over to work within the existing system but has failed to affect change. It's the higher-ups who are either cheating their employees or unable to see that other executives are massively screwing up. My friend hasn't done anything wrong himself, and is doing good things for the people he works with and for - including his hourly subordinates.

What level of ethical standards must an employer maintain in order to keep you working for them? What line do they have to cross to make it so uncomfortable that you might give up a future 6-figure salary and put in question your comfortable life and family financial security?

In my opinion, the details of the "violation" don't seem to be quite heinous enough to warrant quitting, even when combined with the runaround he's gotten from the brass. If the leadership were blatantly ignoring construction or jobplace safety regulations in order to pad their pockets - sure. I can see that. Or if the boss was quietly allowing noticeable environmental damage as a result of manufacturing I can see that too. Even if they were bilking their customers out of scads and scads of money (lawyers and their hourly billing rates - sorry, Gary - do this all the time to the point of it being a source of pride for them and a joke for rest of us) I could see that as being a reason to not be able to stay.

And one more thing - April linked yesterday to a great post called The Seven Deadly Trappings of Evangelism that mentions the difference between the noun "witness" and the verb "witness":
#6 Witnessing – Evangelism isn’t a form of Multi-Level Marketing. If you want to sell something door-to-door make it Amway products not the “Good News.” If you want to “witness for Christ” do what Christ did and love other people. Especially the “unlovable” – the smelly, unbathed men down at the mission, the annoying kids at church, the bonehead who cuts you off in traffic. In the context of the Christian life, “witness” should be a noun more often than a verb.
Could someone in my friend's position do more good staying at their job, being a "witness" (noun) to others on how the ethical game is to be played, rather than "witnessing" (verb) his objections by leaving?

The Naming of Planets is a Difficult Matter..

For what it's worth (some folks take Wikipedia entries with grains of salt), here's their history on the naming of the planet Pluto
"In the matter of Pluto the discretion of naming the new object belonged to Lowell Observatory and its director, Vesto Melvin Slipher, who, in the words of Tombaugh, was "urged to suggest a name for the new planet before someone else did". Soon suggestions began to pour in from all over the world. Constance Lowell, Percival's widow who had delayed the search through her lawsuit, proposed Zeus, then Lowell, and finally her own first name, none of which met with any enthusiasm. One young couple even wrote to ask that the planet be named after their newborn child. Mythological names were much to the fore: Cronus and Minerva (proposed by the New York Times, unaware that it had been proposed for Uranus some 150 years earlier) were high on the list. Also there were Artemis, Athene, Atlas, Cosmos, Hera, Hercules, Icarus, Idana, Odin, Pax, Persephone, Perseus, Prometheus, Tantalus, Vulcan, Zymal, and many more. One complication was that many of the mythological names had already been allotted to the numerous asteroids. Virtually all the female names had been used up, and male names were usually reserved for objects with unusual orbits.

The name retained for the planet is that of the Roman god Pluto, and it is also intended to evoke the initials of the astronomer Percival Lowell, who predicted that a planet would be found beyond Neptune. The name was first suggested by Venetia Burney, at the time an eleven-year-old girl from Oxford, England. Over the breakfast table, one morning her grandfather, who worked at Oxford University's Bodleian Library, was reading about the discovery of the new planet in the Times newspaper. He asked his grandaughter what she thought would be good name for it. Venetia thought that as it was so cold and so distant it should be named after the Roman God of the underworld. This idea was mentioned by her grandfather to a former Astronomer Royal who cabled his astronomer colleagues in America. After favourable consideration which was almost unanimous, the name Pluto was officially adopted and an announcement made by Slipher on May 1, 1930."
However, I'll be damned if they call it "Mondas".

I think now I'm going for Melmac. Or maybe Orc.

He's Got Something...!

Just to get your blood pumping, how's about A Miracle?

Pat, we'll miss you. Mike, get 'em to do it again this year!