Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Checkerboard Illusion - Life?

I have immense trouble wrapping my brain around this one, but it's absolutely true.

In the graphic below, the squares represented by "A" and "B" are exactly the same color.

(click the image for a larger version)

Impossible to believe? I thought so too, even after reading all the proofs found here.

To help you see it, I've clipped out the squares and placed them side - by side.

And if you compare the two shades in Photoshop you see they have the exact same RGB values - 120,120,120. Amazing.

But that hints at something deeper to me, how our perceptions of reality are shaded by things around us. How we can cling desparately and loyally to a sports team even when the star players are in and out of jail, the coach is in a gambling ring, or the owner is a gangster. Our preconcieved notions and the intensity of the glare around them blind us to the fact that it's not really what we see. Only by removing the context and shading our eyes from the sun do we see the reality.

It happens every day here in America, whether it's politics, race relations, economics, human rights, popular culture, whatever. Some of us are so influenced and dazzled by the glare or shadow around an issue we can't see it for what it is. Remove it from the glare or shadow, and what's left behind is truth.

I bet you reading this can think of many, many examples in today's world where this is true. I bet it's especially easy when it's an issue you oppose or don't agree with. Don't

How do we escape the influences on what we see and do? There's not an easy answer, but I think each of us can come up with them on our own by recognizing that the truths we embrace and cling to so precariously sometimes are actually surrounded by such interference we don't realize just what it is we're believing in. Don't be afraid to ignore the clutter, cut through the white noise and look - really look at what you believe. See if they match. If they don't, you might need to make a bit of a reassessment.

Sometimes Photoshop helps :)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Checking In

A Couple Nights Ago:

11:30 pm. I'm at a post-show cast party. Brainyboy (v10.05)'s at a friend's house spending the night. Laura's in bed, half-asleep.


Laura: Hello?

BB: Mom?

Laura: BB? What's wrong?

BB: Um. Nothing. Um, I was wondering...my friend and I were wanting to watch "Men in Black II" but I wanted to check with you to see if it was ok to watch it. It's rated PG-13...

Laura: (fumbling through the fog, at once relieved that there's nothing wrong) Ok, read me what it says on the DVD case about the rating...

BB: Um...mild language and sci-fi violence.

Laura: (thinking it over) Ok, son, it's ok for you to watch it...thanks for checking with us...


How many 10-yr-old kids would call home to ask their mom if they could watch a movie they know we might find questionable?

(Michael poses some related questions having to do with movie ratings...)

Guess we're doing something right.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Gift For The Mad Scientist In Your Life That Has Everything...

Carnivorous Creations(TM)
"This deluxe Carnivorous Creations kit has seeds from over 10 varieties of carnivorous plants, including the Cobra Plant, Venus Fly Trap, Pitcher Plant, Trumpet Plant and more. You'll make your won authentic bog with the included peat planting mix, blue Swamp Rocks, three Bog Buddies and colorful decals!

This rare and unusual collection of plants will flourish for years in the specially designed terrarium with proper care and stratification."
This is great - I want one of these.

And they're only $21!

Plus, if you have some experience in genetic manipulation and nuclear science, you could grow your own mutant army of Audrey II's!

(Noticed on Boing Boing)

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Feast Eighty-Two

Appetizer - Choose one: moving to another state, having triplets, or never being able to eat chocolate again.

Well, I'm not a big fan of chocolate so that one would probably be the easy choice. Moving to another state would be very difficult - my whole life is here in Knoxville, my parents, my in-laws, all the friends I've spent years cultivating... that would be the hardest, I think. Triplets? Got two, what's three more? :)

Soup - Name a news story that truly shocked you.

The riots over cartoons continue to defy belief, but it's not really that shocking. Of course 9/11 is probably the most shocking news event of our lifetime (and I hope it continues to hold that title for a long time...). I remember being shocked watching the footage from some of our space probes, like the Mars Global Surveyors and all the Voyager fly-bys.

Salad - What was your very first job?

My first real job was a Work Study program at the UT Music Hall when I was a freshman in college - although it was actually set up more like a scholarship program you had to work for. My first real off-the-street fill-out-an-application job was at Halls Cinema as an usher that following summer.

Main Course - If you had the chance to read the diary of someone you're really close to, would you? Why or why not?

Interesting. My mind says no, of course not, but my gut tells me I may not be able to resist.

Bad gut. Bad...

Dessert - What's something you're looking forward to?

Wow. I look forward to walking my daughter down the aisle someday. I look forward to riding a roller coaster with my son. I look forward to my next cruise (whenever that will be). I look forward to the day when I can finally spend a lot of quality time with my wife. I look forward to holding a grandchild. I just look forward to finding out what every day after this will hold...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Come See "Ruthless" For Free

"Ruthless" opens tonight with a special preview performance. "How special is it," you ask? It's so special it's free!

Anyone in Knoxville up for a great evening of devilish musical theatre fun on the house is invited to come see "Ruthless", Thursday Evening, February 23 at 8:00 at the Oak Ridge Playhouse. Click the link for driving directions.

Although I'm playing backup keyboards and we're set up behind the set, watch for a special cameo.........

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cell Phones OK in Hospitals?

From USA Today:
"No ill effects found in hospital cellphone use

Despite signs in hospitals nationwide, little evidence exists that modern cellphone use interferes with medical equipment, and allowing doctors to use cellphones decreases medical errors, a paper in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia finds.

Cellphone bans in hospitals are "annoying, and you're doing it for no reason. It's all voodoo," says Roy Soto, an anesthesiologist at Stony Brook University in New York and lead author of the paper in the February issue.


According to an informal survey cited by the American Society for health care Engineering, about one-quarter of all hospitals ban cellphones entirely, half ban them from patient care areas, and the remaining quarter have no ban.


The bans go back to early reports from the 1980s that turning on a cellphone could turn off a ventilator or disrupt monitoring equipment.

But in surveying the engineering and medical literature on the topic, the researchers found that most incidents were single-case reports rather than widespread problems.

Modern digital cellphones use much less power than older analog models. And in 1979, the Food and Drug Administration created guidelines for shielding electronic medical devices, the paper notes.

Michael Imhoff, a physician and medical information specialist at Ruhr-University in Germany, says in an editorial in the journal that many of the communication errors cited might better be addressed by electronic patient records.

But for safety he suggests the 3-foot rule, which means keeping cellphones at least an arm's length away from medical equipment."
That's fine for medical personnel - it speeds up information flow between physicians and outside sources, which improves medical care.

Unfortunately, the news for the public isn't so good:

"Still, Imhoff believes cellphone use should be restricted to medical personnel and not for use by visitors and patients, "not only to limit the risk of electromagnetic interference but also to reduce overall annoyance from private cellphone use in patient areas."
Some of the hospitals in the health system where I work allow cell phones, some don't - it's not a uniform policy. But maybe this is a good, documented step toward allowing their use across the board.


I'm doing a quick show this weekend and next, "Ruthless" at the Oak Ridge Playhouse. I'll be playing backup keyboards, while someone else handles the Music Directing for a change :) It's nice - no stress (except actually learning the part). I don't have to worry about working with the cast or making sure where all the cuts and entrances and cut-offs are, I just roll with it and enjoy.

Mistaken identity and deep secrets, revealed, are the hallmarks of both farce and melodrama. Add to that, zippy dialog, snappy tunes, and a multiple personality disorder or two, and you've got Ruthless!: the Musical, which opens Friday night at Oak Ridge Playhouse. When eight-year-old Tina Denmark determines that she was born to play Pippi Longstocking in a school production, she lets nothing stand in her way. Not her mother, not her agent, not her teacher, not her critics, and not, in the least, her competition.
Unfortunately, it's not paid. Ah well. But it's one week of rehearsals plus two weekends of shows - no big deal.

Come see it! This weekend and next weekend at the Oak Ridge Playhouse. I'll be the one in the mustard-colored lounge lizard jacket. ;)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Not the Only Birthday Today...

Today is my dad's birthday. Congratulations to the man who made me who I am today - a sci-fi fan with a high forehead and too tall for my own feet ;) Too bad I didn't inherit the golf skills, but he certainly taught me a love for baseball, fairness, justice and hamburgers.

Oh, yeah, and he taught me all the right things about being a husband and father along the way. :)

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Hail to the Chief

Today is President's Day, that day when we mix together the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, stir, add paprika, shake well, and distill them into one 24-hour period. Actually, it's a day set aside for honoring and remembering all the presidents of the United States.

I wonder when the last time half of America came upon a President's Day (or the individual birthdays before this particular holiday existed), looked at whichever president was currently in office, and didn't curse under their breath?

Since 2000, half of America has hated George W. Bush. Between 1992-2000, half of America hated Bill Clinton. I think George Bush, Senior pretty much got a pass during his four years, especially since the (limited) success of the Gulf War. Reagan was despised by almost all Democrats, and Carter was despised by most Republicans. And it goes on and on.

But I wanted everyone to read the lyrics to the national song of the Presidency, "Hail to the Chief":

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.

Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!

Do we believe that, as a nation? Do we, as Americans, "pledge cooperation"? Do we all, no matter who is in office or how we feel about his political affiliation or actions, "salute him, one and all"?

Is respect for the Office of the Presidency just a pipe dream in this day and age, or is it something we should strive for - putting the partisanship and pettiness behind us, to honor the office that once held men like Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, Jackson, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy?

If not, what's the point?

Friday, February 17, 2006

We Are Not Alone...(But We're Not Especially Excited About It)

Last night BrainyBoy and I watched, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I'd talked this movie up quite a bit, and I finally rented it.

Ok, you know how sometimes when you look back through the haze of time things seem much better as you remember them, rather than how they really are?

Case in point.

I enjoy a good Spielberg flick as much as the next guy, but oh my, I'd forgotten how long, tedious and ponderind CE3K really is.

The final Devil's Tower/Contact scene lasted around 30 minutes, and BB's eyes were drooping by the time Richard Dreyfuss disappeared into the Mothership.

And another thing, the DVD version I rented was the original, the one without the view inside the ship and the soaring orchestral rendition of "When You Wish Upon a Star". Bummer. But it was in the score as he's being led into the ship by the "alien children", so there's that at least.

And BB and Tink did get a kick out of the little boy in the movie being named, "Barry."

It was a masterpiece for what it was, in its day. And there are a number of parts that are still very good. But it just doesn't hold up well over time. Ah well.

Casting Quirks, or "I love IMDB.com"

Little Barry's mom, Jillian, was played by Melinda Dillon, whose face tugged at my memory the whole movie - I could swear I've seen her before. Or since. Turns out she was the mom in A Christmas Story.

Bob Balaban was the cartographer/translator for the French scientist on the project. Balaban had a notable guest spot on Seinfeld as an NBC exec, but was also a big part of three of my favorite movies, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind. He was also the great Dr. Chandra on 2010.

The Good, the Bad, and the Untamed

Tonight we invite four of Brainyboy's friends over to a) the movies, b) dinner out, c) sleepover, d) pancake breakfast in the morning.

If you don't hear from me in the next couple of days, you'll know it's because I've been tied up, dumped in a closet and left for dead.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Just A Thought..

I really feel Curling is to the Winter Olympic Games as "Simon Says" was to "Battle of the Network Stars".

What I Love About My Kids

  • Dancing and singing with Tink while we rap the song, "It's a Hard Knock Life" from Annie - complete with those weird hand gestures rappers use with the index finger and pinky pointed out on both hands. It's quite surreal watching a 6-yr-old blond girl rapping with her voice real low.

  • Night before last:
    Brainyboy (to my wife): Goodnight!

    Laura: Sleep tite!

    Me (singing): "And pleasant dreams..to you."

    Laura and I (singing): "Here's a wish...and a prayer...that every dream comes true.
    And now 'til we meet again - Adios, au revior, auf weidersehen..."

    Brainyboy (watching us with bemusement and not a little pity): Whatever..


Last night I brought home takeout from Calhouns after working out at the guy for a half hour. Everybody enjoyed their meal, but after about 2/3 of the way through my Smokehouse Salad, I determined I wasn't enjoying mine so much.

I think something to do with the fact I had pushed myself a bit at the gym, along with some certain combination of salty ham, honey mustard and deviled eggs gave my stomach the collywobbles.

Which, by the way, is a wonderfully descriptive word. On of those few in the English language that means exactly one thing - no more, no less, no fooling around. If you've had the collywobbles, you know exactly what I mean.

So My Valentine was nice enough to let me lay on the couch for a while - even after My Valentine had gotten a cortisone shot in her foot earlier in the day and was herself laid up for a while - and put the kids to bed while I went on to bed myself about 9:30.

I felt better as the evening went on, and I laid there and read the first half of Stephen King's new book, "Cell", which is kind of like "The Stand" meets "Night of the Living Dead". At least so far.

I haven't watched "24" yet from Monday night, so nobody spoil me.

I don't know where those collywobbles came from, but I'm glad they left quickly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Yeah, But When You Get Down To It the Grand Canyon's Not Much More Than a Big Hole in the Ground...

Great Smoky Mountains National Park rates poorly in magazine survey
"[In this issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine] three-hundred experts graded the condition of 55 North American national parks and the cities that surround them. Problems like traffic, haze and invasive species landed the Smokies in the "Rock Bottom" category."
I can see what they're saying here. Coal-fired plants, combined with car exhaust, commercial industry and the natural topography of the region have produced a nasty, anti-natural haze that continues to threaten not only the beauty of the area but also the safety of the flora and health of all that breathe the air. That's man's problem, and more specifically men and women that live in East Tennessee/Western North Carolina/SE Virginia.

Invasive species we can't do a whole lot about, but I would imagine if there was less problem with the pollution, there might be more time and resources freed up to deal with outsider plants like kudzu (or as Becky calls them, "broccoli") and Garlic Mustard, insects like balsam woolly adelgids or plant diseases such as Dutch Elm Disease.

However, that's not the only thing National Geographic took into account when rating our park poorly:

"The issues they brought up are all valid and are very worthy of discussion," says Leon Downey, who is director of tourism in Pigeon Forge. "A lot of discussion has gone into all the topics that they mentioned."

But Downey does take issue with some of the more scathing comments that refer to the gateway towns of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Cherokee as "horrible," "appalling" and "distasteful." He says Tourism has always been part of the plan.

"That was part of legislation that development Great Smoky Mountains National Park was that economic development would not occur primarily inside the park, but in the surrounding area around the park because it was an economically depressed area," Downey says."
We that live in East Tennessee have all visited the Great Smokey Mountains National Park dozens of times. And to get to the Park, you have to go through Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Townsend, and several other "gateway" towns. We've all made our little jokes about country hicks, and mountain living, and Dolly Parton and Dollywood being the poor man's Disneyworld and all that. No, Pigeon Forge is no Las Vegas and Gatlinburg is not Vail - there is a tackiness that pervades small and large parts of all those places. But I continue to love driving through them, and enjoying them because they're what we are. They're a part of our culture, our community, and filled with people who are just like us - hard-working, friendly, (for the most part) courteous, often religious, down-home Southern mountain/valley folk. I love to visit Gatlinburg, personally, and have since I was a kid. It's a refreshing escape from life in Knoxville, and the beauty of the surrounding mountains is always appreciated.

But for the editors to call them "horrible," "appalling," or "distasteful shows me they may have driven through without stopping and meeting the people, getting to know the character of the natives whose ancestors lived and breathed in these same mountains for generations, and would take great exception to their characterizations. It smacks of snobbery and an elitism you often find in views of the South from other areas of the country.

Personally, I'd rather spend a week in Gatlinburg and the Smokeys than a month in some of these other parks on their list - I'll bet our folks are friendlier and more welcoming to visitors than 80-90% of the other parks. But I guess some folks will never find that out now, since we seem to be such a "horrible" place to visit.

Well, Maybe I'll Just Have This One Leg of Lamb. But That's It! I Swear!

Saddam Says He's on a Hunger Strike
"Saddam said he had not eaten in three days, while his former intelligence chief, Ibrahim Barzan, said he had been on strike for two days. Their claims of a hunger strike could not be independently confirmed."
Yeah, right. After 30+ years of living high on the hog off of the sweat and blood of his Iraqi slaves subjects citizens, Saddam could no longer endure an extended, self-enforced time away from food than I could. He'll have guard sneaking him in Hershey Bars and Ho-Ho's by the caseload.

But then, I'm not sure this is a bad thing. I mean, how ironic would it be for Saddam Hussein, former royal potentate, grand poobah and lord of all he surveyed to slowly starve to death while the court, his subjects, his people, the country and the rest of the world stand around, looking at their watches and saying, "Mm-hmm. Ok. Refuse to eat? Hey, no problem - more for us, anyway."

Monday, February 13, 2006


Valentine's Day (Feb. 14), 1995

I stopped at Crouch's Florist on Kingston Pike on the way to meet my wife for a Valentine's dinner at Naples Italian Restaurant. I held little hope for finding anything at that time of the evening on February 14th, but I was pleasantly surprised to still be able to purchase a nice bouquet. We met and had a lovely evening, just a young couple still in the first few years of marriage. A family had been considered, but was still in the future.

The Day Before Valentine's Day (Feb. 13), 1996

I was able to find my way to the waiting room in the hospital. Walking down the halls I felt in a bit of a daze, having only a few moments before held my newborn son in my arms for the first time. For some reason I was wearing a thick hooded sweatshirt, and the bulk of the fabric made it difficult to feel the sensation of small limbs, small body. But he was there, full of life, examining the world it had just been born into. I had handed him back to my wife, and went out to tell the good news to my parents and her father (her mother had been in the birthing room with us).

My dad was sitting down, my father-in-law standing nearby. My mom was not in sight, having gone to get a Coke I believe. I smiled wearily and sat down next to my dad. I gave them the good news, relaying the vital statistics that I could recall through the fog. I don't recall at what point it happened, but I finally lost control and dissolved into tears of joy - racking sobs of release and utter joy at the culmination of such a journey. I leaned against dad's shoulder and he put his arms around me with great warmth. My mom chose that moment to return, and I instantly was fearful she might get the wrong idea and think the worst had happened. I straightened up, dried my eyes and told her everything was fine, he was here and he was wonderful.

He was here and he was wonderful.

Well, he still is. Today, Brainyboy turns 10. He's a star student in the fourth grade, a wonderful older brother, a born musician and comedian blessed with a comedic timing to rival mine. He has a tender heart and a warm smile. His teacher tells me he is notable for welcoming new kids in his class and making them feel at home. He's not blessed with particular athletic ability, but he loves to run and loves to compete which is all I care about. He is a good soul, a good boy, a good man.

He's ten today, and before he went to bed last night I told him how proud I was of him.

Happy Birthday, son. I love you.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I Mean, Just to Be Fair...

"An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece.

The state-run daily Etemaad reported on Saturday that 18-year-old Nazanin confessed to stabbing one of three men who had attacked the pair along with their boyfriends while they were spending some time in a park west of the Iranian capital in March 2005.

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said that after the three men started to throw stones at them, the two girls’ boyfriends quickly escaped on their motorbikes leaving the pair helpless.

She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said.

The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death."
I wonder when sharia law will be recognized for the human rights violation that it is, in as much a league as Saddam's People Shredders and China's lack of due process (among many others), and be dealt with accordingly? Dealt with of all nations who adhere to it.

Of course, I don't imagine that will happen anytime soon - too many Muslim countries who adhere to it can block those kinds of resolutions in the UN. But still, it's apalling, and should have no way to hide behind "accepted religious practices" in the eyes of the international community any more than cannibalism or genocide.

Caveat: I understand from here (take it as you will) that sharia law doesn't just call for hanging young rape victims, that some Islamic scholars say it can help keep the peace by enforcing laws. Maybe so, maybe not. But if the heart of such a moral code and law it accepts these practices as both necessary and mandated by relion, I can't imagine the entire law has much of a moral leg to stand on.

Of course, at first glance, one could say the same about some practices of Christianity - but thank goodness that example only has about 6 members.

What a Guy

U.S. suspect agrees to extradition
"A British man charged with the murder of his American wife and baby near Boston has agreed to be extradited to the United States, his lawyers said Friday.

'He is anxious that any delay might cause his wife's family and his own family additional distress, something he wants to avoid.'

Entwistle's wife, Rachel, and their 9-month-old baby, Lillian, were found shot to death last month at their home home in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, near Boston."
Awww, isn't that sweet. It's really heartwarming that the guy doesn't want to cause his or his wife's - excuse me, ex-wife's...excuse me, late wife's - family any more distress. You know, it's great you're concerned about causing them excess distress now - too bad you didn't think about that before you shot and murdered their daughter and granddaughter in cold blood. Cause, you know, that might've been the more proper thing to do old chap.

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Friday, February 10, 2006 - Feast Eighty

Appetizer - What was a class or course you took while in school that you realize now was a total waste of time?

I took 2 whole years of Calculus in college in pursuit of a Computer Science degree, barely passing each quarter (Yes, UT was in quarters back then...). Since I eventually switched to Theatre about my Junior year, those two years worth of math were worthless.

Soup - Who is the tallest person you know?

Probably my friend Stan at church. It's interesting because as a tall person myself (I'm 6'2" and taller than 90-95% of the people I know or see on the street) to see and interact with a person taller than myself can be pretty intimidating. Especially Stan, as he's got a pretty deep voice, and also commands a particular amount of respect in our church.

Salad - What's your favorite midnight snack?

Bag o' chips.

Main Course - Have you ever found money somewhere? If so, where did you find it, and how much was it?

I think I may have found a $20 bill once, but I don't recall where or when.

Dessert - Where would you like to retire?

My first answer would be the Carribbean (see here for more dreaming) but assuming I have grandkids by around that time, I would hate to be away from them. I expect we'll still be here in Knoxville, especially as I hope to continue to work in theatre and music when I retire and there are still opportunities for that.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Case of the Phantom Post-It Note

God only knows who added item to agenda
"A resolution recognizing God as the foundation of "our national heritage" was mysteriously added to this month's Knox County Commission agenda.

Jolie Bonavita, director of the commission office, said all she knew was that she had a note on her desk to add the resolution. She said she did not know who requested that."
Ok, let me get this straight. You're saying a note appeared on your desk, requesting you add this item to the Knox County Commission agenda. An unsigned note, apparently. And you went ahead and did it without consulting anyone? Is, um, the way business is usually transacted at the City County Building, by corners torn off of napkins?

I think I'm going to pay a cleaning person to leave an unsigned note on her desk for me that requests the county cut me a check for about $100,000. I'll let you know when I get it, and take all the Knoxville bloggers out to dinner ;)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Fable

Once upon a time there was a traveler, who wandered far and wide upon the world.

One day he arrived at the shores of a far off land and came upon the house of a humble farmer, who bade him enter and share in his bounty. The traveler made to enter the house, but the farmer politely asked the traveler to remove his shoes as a sign of respect to the farmer's customs. The traveler happily complied, and there was a great feast and good company. The next day the traveler took his leave of his host, collected his shoes, and invited the farmer to come visit him one day. Thanking his God for the blessings of good friends, he continued his journey.

Some weeks later he arrived at yet another far off land. Feeling fatigued from his long trip, the traveler came upon the house of a modest tailor. The tailor welcomed the traveler and invited him to share in his own bounty. The traveler made to enter the house, but the tailor politely requested the traveler speak in the most reverent silence as the house and all that dwelled within had been consecrated to their Lord. The traveler happily complied, lowering his voice in the utmost respect for the dwelling of his host. That evening there was again a feast, and the next day the traveler once again continued his journey, first inviting the tailor to some day join him at his own home. He went out, singing a joyous song to his God as he left the tailor's home.

Several more weeks passed as the traveler came upon a hilly area, filled with many herds of cattle and sheep. The traveler marveled at the beauty of the area and stopped at the home of a nearby rancher. The rancher welcomed the traveler and invited him to share in his own bounty. The traveler made to enter the house, but the rancher politely requested that the traveler remove his clothing before entering his house, as a sign of humility before his gods. The traveler was puzzled at this request, but happily complied, removing all his clothing down to the least loincloth in respect of the rancher's customs. That evening there was yet another feast, and the next day the traveler bade his new friend farewell. As the traveler was leaving, the rancher asked where the traveler was headed, and that he might want to visit him sometime. The traveler told the rancher that he was welcome in his own home at any time, and extended a warm invitation. The traveler then replaced his clothing and resumed his journey, at last arriving at his home.

Some months later, a knock came on the traveler's door, and who should be there but the rancher. The traveler greeted him warmly, and invited the man to come in. The rancher frowned, and as he began to disrobe he asked why the traveler wasn't doing so as well, in respect for the rancher's gods. The traveler said, "Friend, it is a great belief of my people, that we are free to express ourselves by extending hospitality to those who seek it, and invite others of all faiths and customs to partake in our bounty. Come, what I have is yours. You are free to follow the customs of your own gods, of course." The rancher, however, was greatly angered at this sign of disrespect from the traveler and killed him.

Oscar The Grouch's Love Child

Sing it with me!

Oh, I love trash!
Anything dirty or dingy or dusty
Anything ragged or rotten or rusty
Yes, I love trash!

We see here a singer who's steering a car
A babe on her lap and the side door ajar
Her husband's not here cause he's drunk in a bar
We love it because it's trash!

Oh, I love trash!
Anything dirty or dingy or dusty
Anything ragged or rotten or rusty
Yes, I love trash!

The cameras are fol-lowing, so she must drive
No time for the carseat, to K-Mart arrive
Who cares then if little Sean gets there alive
We love it because it's trash!

Oh, I love trash!
Anything dirty or dingy or dusty
Anything ragged or rotten or rusty
Yes, I love,
I love,


Love Trash!

(click here to download the tune)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Yin and Yang

Mark Evanier:
"I have the feeling that a lot of people who insist on the right of the president to trump certain laws won't feel that way the next time we have a Democratic president."
Yes, I will bet you're right. But until you also admit that Democrats won't protest too loudly about it the next time we have a Democratic president.

I stand firm in the belief that if Al Gore had won in 2000, we'd be in pretty much the same situation we're in today - except the roles would be precisely reversed.

Politics is universal. It doesn't matter what's right, only that you're wrong.


Tink: Daddy?

Me: Yes?

Tink: Um, you know, in the Star Wars church? Whenever they say, "May the Force Be With You" everybody would say back, "...and also with you."

(dissolves in a fit of giggles)

Random Thoughts During the Super Bowl Halftime Show

1) What every cheering girl in the crowd was thinking, "I don't know who these guys are, and I've never really listened to their music, but I think they used to be kind of big so I'll cheer for them..."

2) Please, Mick, don't take off your vest...Please, Mick, don't take off your vest...Please, Mick don't take---D'oh!!

3) Ok, guys, a melody line once in a while, huh?

4) How this group was ever a serious competition to the Beatles I'll never understand.

5) I think Detroit could've exhumed Marvin Gaye and Rick James and they would've been more lifelike than these guys.

6) Hey, I bet if you turn that giant tongue banner over, there's a sliced up American Flag from the '96 Super Bowl on the back...

7) I'd much rather watch a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction than this. I'd almost rather watch a Michael Jackson wardrobe malfunction than this. I'd almost rather watch a Peter Jackson wardrobe malfunction than this...

8) It's over, Stones. Give it up. Go away. Retire. Find some nice country manors somewhere and live out the rest of your lives in luxury and comfort. Please. Now.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Feast Seventy-Nine

Appetizer - On a scale of 1 to 10 (10=highest), how sociable are you?

I guess a 6.5, when it's all averaged out. While I'm very outgoing and sociable when I'm around people I know, I have a lot of trouble interacting with people I don't know. This past weekend our kids' school hosted a gala fundraiser auction/dinner, attended by a number of parents, faculty and other donors. While my wife helped work the door getting people registered, I wandered the area aimlessly. There are a few parents that I know but mostly the place was filling with people I didn't know. It's very difficult for me to simply strike up conversations with people I'm not familiar with or have little in common with.

Soup - Name 3 DVDs you currently own.

Just 3? Ok..."Pirates of the Caribbean", "Finding Nemo" and "Perfect Storm". That's three random ones off the top of my head. Want to hear the other 297?

Salad - If you were to win a superlative award now (such as most talented, class clown, most likely to succeed), what would it be?

I came in 2nd as Most Talented in high school behind a guy who had dropped out at the semester. Go figure.

Main Course - What is your favorite radio station?

I flip between WNML-FM 99.1 "The Sports Animal" and WNOX-FM 100 "NewsTalker" most of the day.

Dessert - Complete this sentence: I believe __________ because __________.

I believe Jesus loves me because the Bible tells me so.

That was easy :)

I also believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter, because, well, duh...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Poison of Deep Grief

Police Remove Sheehan From Bush Speech

I think we've all seen this story. Argue all you like about legality of such a move, or suppression of free speech, or need to regulate decorum in a government facility - all those are less important to me than watching the descent into madness of a mother torn apart by grief for a son killed in combat. And more sickening is how her grief is being taken exploited and applauded by her "supporters".

More evidence is when she did this last week:

Chávez hosts peace activist Cindy Sheehan

Sheehan praised Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and agreed with singer Harry Belafonte that Bush is `the greatest terrorist in the world.'

"O, this is the poison of deep grief;
When sorrows come, they come not single spies, But in battalions.

-- King Claudius (Hamlet, Act IV, scene v)"

“Excess of grief for the dead is madness; for it is an injury to the living, and the dead know it not”

-- Xenephon, Greek Historian