Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Fifty

Appetizer - How many pieces of jewelry do you wear most days?

All I have jewelry-wise is my wedding band. That's it.

Soup - What is your favorite instrumental song?

Probably any of a number of cuts from a John Williams Soundtrack. "Princess Leia's Theme" from the original Star Wars soundtrack is especially memorable. I'm also partial to "Carmina Burana" and "Pines of Rome".

As for popular music, I've always enjoyed "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams (or whoever's performing it at that particular moment). I also like "Hoedown" by Aaron Copeland, made famous in the "Beef, it's what's for dinner" commercials. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young made a good recording of that one.

Salad - Who has a last name that you like?

My wife, cause she decided to marry me :)

Main Course - Name a popular movie you’ve never seen.

I've never seen "Casablanca". Or "Gone With the Wind". Or "Citizen Kane". Or "West Side Story". Or any number of popular older films. Most new films that were immensely popular I've eventually seen.

Dessert - Fill in the blank: Nothing makes me ___________ like ____________.

Nothing makes me happier like a vacation does.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Top Tennessee Political Blogs

As some of you know, BlogNetNews has released a list of the top 20 political blogs in Tennessee.

Michael Silence is on there, as of course is Knoxviews and several others I've read. And that's all well and good, and congratulations to all who were on the list.

But really...if you blog about politics and feel politics is so important and newsworthy that it gives your blog a top 20 ranking in the state... isn't there something more interesting and productive you can do with their time?

Like, I don't know, blog about something interesting... like this. Or this. Or even this...

Can you tell I think politics is useless? I thought you could.

FOLLOWUP: Michael Silence is looking


We endured our first dress rehearsal for Suessical last night. One down, two more to go then we open Thursday night.

Last night was not a good night for the cast as the energy was way down. It was a good night for the band, however, as we began to pull together and find a good volume level.

So many of the cuts in the show make playing difficult - forever turning pages, skipping entire marked out sections of music, repeating where no repeats were notated... it can drive a band (and leader) crazy keeping everything logical and in order.

The choreography for the show, plus all the costumes and multitude of props and set pieces the cast has to deal with is very complex and it's taking up all the cast's brainpower to remember where to go, what to do, what to hold and what to wear. As a result, energy, enthusiasm, vocal precision and commitment to character and story begin to suffer. I have high hopes these next two dress rehearsals will smooth over those problems so that when Thursday night comes they'll be ready to tell a story to the audience through music, words, dance and visuals.

I am tired, probably more tired than I've been coming up to a show in a long time. Part of that has to do with me staying up late when I get home to play work on my new computer. But I need down-time, and I can't simply go to bed, nor does watching TV do it for me all the time. Keeping my brain active while my body rests is what's relaxing to me, not vegetating.

It's interesting, though, I have more confidence and less stress about the band than any show I've been in. What helps is having good, talented seasoned pros around me that I've worked with many times before. I really enjoy spending time with them and having a good time.

Come see us!

Monday, June 25, 2007


I've been profiled in BlogsWeLuv's inaugural "10 Questions With.." series.


8. How has blogging made you a better person?

It’s helped me organize my thoughts, and make sure I understand what I believe before putting them down on paper/the PC. I also have become more politically aware and more interested in the way things work around me. I’ve learned about other points of view, especially other religions and philosophical interests. I’ve also learned a lot about how people in other parts of the country and the world think and live their lives - and how interesting it is that most folks aren’t all that different than me. Everybody has the ability to communicate with everyone else, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Oh, The Thinks You Can Think...

...when you're the honored recipient of one of these babies, a Thinking Bloggers Award.

Thank you, Tish, for including me in your list of five Thinking blogs. I'll try to continue to at least do a little thinking on an ongoing basis.

Here are my five Thinking Blog Awards:

1) Hit Coffee - Will Truman posts about his life and work, but every post is an essay on the human condition. Or something lofty like that. He used to work in, Deseret, a fictionally named Mormon state that bears no resemblance whatsoever to any other state fact or fiction no sir nope unh-unh... but he moved and is in the process of finding new ways to relate to live, love, wife, job and friends.

2) The Beast's Lair - Philip is a seminary student and former youth pastor from the Nashville area. He's the brother of my former college roommate, and recently got married. Like me he's an amusement park afficianado (he and his brother visit the Disney and Universal parks on a regular basis, so they're light-years ahead of me). Most importantly he blogs on religious and Christian issues and I enjoy his perspective. Interestingly I haven't met him in person since he was a high-school kid, visiting his brother when we were at UT. It's been fun seeing the bright, intelligent young man he's become.

3) Searching For Oz - Becky became a friend of mine through Michael when she lived in Hawaii. I've followed her move to Seattle and enjoyed watching her find some peace and contentment. Becky is a unique individual and has a large extended family and a new boyfriend that makes her happy, and that makes me happy. She loves movies and TV and enjoys commenting about them, and has a single gal's perspective that's very interesting and un-pretentious. I got to have lunch with her once when she was coming through town and I'm glad I met her.

4) Slacktivist - While I at least glance at all of Fred's posts, the one series I enjoy a great deal is his ongoing evisceration of the Left Behind series. The amazingly-yet-incomprehensibly popular apocalyptic saga has sold millions of copies while completely missing the mark Biblically, and Fred takes it page-by-page, exploring not only the textual and Biblical inaccuracies but its literary deficiencies as well. A lot of good insight, and his regular commentors are among the best I've read at discussing ideas and coming up with new ones.

5) Logtar - John hails from Columbia (Hail, Columbia!) and I enjoy reading his takes on American culture, his own heritage, and how they mix together. We've done a podcast interview before, and hope to do another very soon.

There are many other blogs I enjoy besides these and if I've left you off I apologize - but these are the main blogs that make me think. Some blogs make me feel comfortable, amused, challenged, informed and some just make me mad. All are enjoyable. One in particular I will be highlighting in a future post....

Congratulations to each of these blogs! Now it’s your turn to pass on the award. The rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to five blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of this meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the “Thinking Blogger Award” with a link to the post that you wrote. Here is an alternate silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I'm the Blog Equivalent of a Zombie Movie

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

* dead (4x)
* zombie (2x)
* pain (1x)

Remind Me Again Why I Do This To Myself?

I went in this morning at 10:00 am for Suessical rehearsal.

I got back home about 10:30. PM.

Yes, that's a 12 hour rehearsal.

I just keep repeating to myself....I love theatre, I love theatre, I love theatre....

Suessical opens this coming Thursday at Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville (in the Bearden area). Tish is coming - everybody join her!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Barry's Familiar Quotations

Everybody has their favorite famous quotes.

From Mark Twain to Shakespeare to Will Rogers....W.C. Fields to Winston Churchill to the Bible, throughout history we have remembered and looked back on famous quotations by famous people in famous situations.

I suppose you either have to be a famous politician, statesman, writer, performer or religious figure to have your quotes remembered and passed on through the generations.... I thought about this and realized there was no outlet for quotes to become famous that are uttered by totally ordinary people.

Until now.

I've devised a quote that I want to be remembered for. 100 years from now, I want someone to write an e-mail (or the equivalent of that time period) and use me as their sig line. How cool would that be.

That said, here's my quote. I actually used it in a post last year commemorating on the victims of 9/11. I Googled the quote word for word and that one entry was the only one that came up, so I'm feeling pretty confident it's original.

Here it goes:

"To hear music is to hear the voice of God"
---- Barry W
Wow. Just looking at it makes me feel special.

Soon everyone's going to be saying it. And hopefully I'll get credit for it.

This is your chance - make up a pithy, profound quote that's catchy, easy to remember, contains at least a nugget of wisdom and is 100% original, then put it on your site or in the comments. This is your chance for the voice of the common man and woman to be heard!

We're listening....

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Forty Nine

Appetizer - Name a funny habit you have.

When I'm watching TV or listening to people talk, I'll tap my fingers in cadence to their speech. If the sentence has 10 syllables, I'll tap my fingers 10 times. That sort of thing.

Soup - If you could instantly know how to play a musical instrument, which one would you pick?


Salad - How long is your hair?

High forehead, thinning on top. Not long in the back, but usually too long because it starts to curl up.

Main Course - When was the last time you forgave someone, and who was it?

I take offense at few things, so there's little to forgive. I haven't forgiven someone, however, who made a stupid decision last August that a lot of people are still having to deal with...

Dessert - What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

This is seriously a question?

Ok, I like my George Foreman Grill. Yum - good grilled cheese sammiches...:)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jesus is Here! Muhammed is Here! Oh Wait...

And in the "Just Not Grasping the Concept Department":

"I am both Muslim and Christian"
[Rev. Anne Holmes] Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she's ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she's also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.


Redding, who will begin teaching the New Testament as a visiting assistant professor at Seattle University this fall, has a different analogy: "I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both."

Redding doesn't feel she has to resolve all the contradictions. People within one religion can't even agree on all the details, she said. "So why would I spend time to try to reconcile all of Christian belief with all of Islam?

"At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That's all I need."

She says she felt an inexplicable call to become Muslim, and to surrender to God — the meaning of the word "Islam."

"It wasn't about intellect," she said. "All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be.
This poor lady has so deluded herself and diluted the two religions she professes to have faith in she's completely lost. I hope she doesn't develop some kind of following.

True, Christianity (and Judaism) and Islam have some common historical ties - namely Abraham - but thematically, philosophically and theologically they couldn't be more different.

In fall 2005, a local Muslim leader gave a talk at the cathedral, then prayed before those attending. Redding was moved. As he dropped to his knees and stretched forward against the floor, it seemed to her that his whole body was involved in surrendering to God.

Then in the spring, at a St. Mark's interfaith class, another Muslim leader taught a chanted prayer and led a meditation on opening one's heart. The chanting appealed to the singer in Redding; the meditation spoke to her heart. She began saying the prayer daily.
I think she's basing a theological epiphany on a moving religious experience.

The Meme is Here! The Meme is Here!

Got tagged by Tish but I still respect her.

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Nope, my parents wanted a name that was impossible to shorten, so they picked Barry. Which means "spear" I think.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Sometimes when I'm driving down the road and think about something my kids have done, or are doing, or haven't gotten to do, or might do in the future, I tear up. I'm just that way.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? That depends if I'm writing cursive or printing. My cursive skills stopped at about eighth grade level but I have a nice printing style. My trouble is I'm too impatient to keep it neat all the time. Plus I tend to be a little dyslexic at times and rearrange letters in a word, so there are sometimes mistakes I've marked through.


DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes, and they are my raison d'etre

IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I think so - I try to be accommodating to everyone I meet. My other person self would have to have some distinct common interests, like theatre, music, sci-fi, etc because my tastes are fairly narrow.

DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? To myself or when I'm one-on-one with someone but I try and avoid it when I'm around groups of people. Unlike SOME lowlife hoplophiles I can mention....


DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Nope. Tonsil-Free since '73! I just made that up.

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Nope, nor would I jump out of an airplane, but I would totally hang glide. I'd jump off the Grand Canyon to hang glide. I guess it's just the horizontality rather than the verticality that sounds safer.

I just made those words up, too.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Lucky Charms, although I used to love Crunch Berries when I was a kid. And Kaboom. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm....


DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Sometimes I surprise myself. I guess it's more a fact of leverage being 6'2" and >200 pounds, rather than pure arm strength.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Black Cherry - especially from the old Kay's Ice Cream in Fountain City. I don't think I've ever found anything quite like it...

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Where their eyes are looking - if someone's looking me in the eyes, I generally know they're sincere. If they're eyes are wandering around, I have doubts.


WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My inability to take a chance and do things that need to be done. There are times I'm terrified of upsetting a status quo, even an undesirable status quo, that I don't take a chance on improving a situation for fear of making it worse.

WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? I miss Michael, who moved to Nashville several years ago. I also miss my colege roommate Gary in Denver who I recently reconnected with after many years. I miss my high school friend Beth who lives in Louisville, KY and raises horses because I'd like to show off my family to her. I miss my church choir director who chose to leave us last fall. I miss my grandmothers and my uncles. I miss my grandfathers, neither of which I ever met.

WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Light khaki pants and loafers. Typical work clothes.

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A bag of popcorn from Target.

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The clattering of the people in my office typing on their computers.


FAVORITE SMELLS? Good Smells: Fresh popped popcorn, baking bread, sizzling bacon, barbecue grilling outdoors. Odd Smells: Hot asphalt, because it makes me think of going to Six Flags over Georgia when I was a kid.

WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? I guess my wife, who called my office to chat a few hours ago.

FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? I love watching a football game on TV, but I don't get to watch enough baseball. America's Game.

HAIR COLOR[S]? Light brown. And not enough of it, unfortunately.

EYE COLOR? Hazel-ish grey


FAVORITE FOOD? Italian food (especially fettuccine alfredo and spaghetti) my dad's grilled hamburgers, my mom's and my MIL's chili, and pizza from Godfathers or Stefano's

SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? I don't care for scary movies at all. Just don't see the point in them (sorry, Beast). I'd rather have a movie with either a happy ending or an ambiguous ending.

LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Olive green polo shirt. The collar is folded funky, though, and no amount of ironing has helped it.

SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer, by about 1000%

HUGS OR KISSES? Kisses. But, you know, both please. And hand-holding, and direct closeness at night.



LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Nikki, because she typically doesn't do memes

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Re-reading an old Star Wars book, "Vector Prime" (see sidebar) I'm saving up new stuff like Stephen King for vacation in 2 weeks.

WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? At work it's a custom one we made to promote our company's websites (internal and external) from about 7 years ago. At home the new PC has a generic DELL mouse pad I just unpacked last night.

WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? A little bit of "Enterprise" I DVR'ed. Most of my free time last night was spent working on the new PC. Tonight I'll be watching a little Picket Fences.

FAVORITE SOUND[S]? Huey Lewis & the News, Phil Collins, kids laughing, a triumphant John Williams symphonic score, the ocean surf, jungle noises, amusement parks, cheering crowd at a UT Football game, tight harmonies.

ROLLING STONES OR THE BEATLES? The Beatles. What, are you kidding?!?!?


DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I have a talent at "reading" people's emotions. A special empathy, sort of. I've mentioned it here before in past stories.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Baptist Hospital - Knoxville, TN

WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? I guess I'll tag all the people I've linked to in the post, plus Becky and Lane. But please, anyone else post their own answers in the comments or their own post.

The Canadians are Here! The Canadians are Here!

Sometimes the things we take for granted elicit wonderment and joy from kids.

The other night the family went to eat at a place called Beef'O'Brady's (motto: A place with three apostrophes in the name can't be bad!) for dinner. In the corner of this very green, very video-enhanced restaurant are some video games, clawtraps and other geegaws.

Tink wanted to play a racing game and inserted a quarter. It wouldn't fit and kept being returned so she needed some help. I went over and started to put the quarter in myself.

I noticed it felt a little lighter, and a little smaller than a real quarter. I glanced down at it and saw a giant silver moose head looking up at me. Flipping it over, there was Queen Elizabeth II (and not Helen Mirren, either).

"Oh, honey, no wonder it won't work - this is a Canadian quarter"

Tink took the quarter with wide eyes and a little gasp, "Wowwwwww".

You would've thought I'd given her a quarter from the moon....

Picket Fences is Here! Picket Fences is Here!

Yeah, I'm going to be using titles like that all day. Get used to it.

Picket Fences, Season 1 DVD is released in stores today, and I'm going to head off and pick up a copy - thanks to an excellent Father's Day gift card to Target.

If you've never watched Picket Fences, treat yourself and either pick up the DVD set or rent it when it's available at Netflix or Blockbuster. It's an early David Kelley series (it's basically the one that eventually made him so full of himself to create "Ally McBeal" and "The Practice") about a small town named Rome, Wisconsin, the sheriff his family, and the people of the town.

Strange things happen in Rome, and while never quite supernatural they're all unusual and the underlying quirks of all these seemingly normal people are exposed for us to see. It's a fantastic show, and I can't wait to start watching all over again.

The New Phone Book's Here! The New Phone Book's Here! *

My part of the Dell saga is over - it arrived yesterday. I've assembled the basic essential components (monitor, sound, power, Lego Star Wars) and will attempt to transplant the cable modem from the old to the new.

Interestingly, I haven't located:

a) a manual for either the monitor or the PC. Perhaps they're on the myriad of CD's that came with each

b) a parallel printer port on the PC (say that three times fast). I'm a bit concerned, as I don't know if our printer has a USB connector.

The monitor is astoundingly huge - 22". It fills up the monitor width cubby on my desk, but being a flat screen now there's a lot of room in front of it to set manuals, paper, pencils, packs of crackers, glasses of tea, medium-sized cats, etc.

No Dell elf (Delf?) was kind enough to secretly install an extra GB of memory, just 'cause.... but that's ok. I didn't expect it, certainly. That's the only bad point thus far, because assembly and shipping was lightning quick. I placed the order last Tuesday and had it in hand last night. Sweet.

* Special prize to anyone besides Michael or Becky who knows the quote

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dinner Theatre Returns to Knoxville

Grab bite, take in show for one-stop entertainment
Patter Productions was founded to return dinner theater to the Knoxville area. The group's first production is the musical comedy "Nunsense," opening Friday at Faith Lutheran Church in Farragut. It will be presented Friday and Saturday, June 22-23 and 29-30.

Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. Fridays, prior to curtain time at 8. The 1 p.m. Saturday matinee will be presented without a meal.

James Fisher and friend Tracy Walker, both theater performers, partnered up to create Patter Productions.

The team at Patter Productions also includes Fisher's partner, professional theatrical designer De Wayne Kirchner; Walker's husband, bandleader Bill Walker; and actress/singer Julie Stelter.

Theater companies tend to do the warhorse musicals and plays that are familiar to older people, Fisher says. Patter Productions wants to attract younger audiences, while also pleasing the mature theatergoer.

Fisher and Walker say the dinner theater will offer "a good show and good food and very affordable prices."
Bill and Tracy Walker are the founders of The Atomic Horns and have become good friends. I've also worked with Julia, James and De Wayne on several Oak Ridge Playhouse shows as well.

Come support a new up and coming theatre company in Knoxville!

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Ultimate Item on my Geeky Wish List

And I'm totally serious.

How to create a do-it-yourself Stormtrooper costume

And if I also had a fully-authentic black outfit with the helmet and all the winky-blinkys, I'd make a great Darth Vader...

What? Why are you looking at me like that?

A Small Amelioration

Got an email yesterday from Dell, that my new PC had already been shipped and would be here in 3-5 business days.

A small Woot for Dell. Their standard business practices are in fine working order, which is why I like them overall. It's their inability to be flexible when necessary that bothers me.

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Forty Eight

Appetizer - Fill in the blank: The best thing about where I live is _________________…

The best thing about where I live is the people are very friendly. I haven't traveled a whole lot, and a number of the places I have been have had very nice folks, but overall the East Tennessee area is the most hospitable place I've ever been.

Soup - Create a new name for a deodorant (like “Flower Fresh” or “Shower Scent”).

"Parisian Summer" - Yes, you too can smell just like Paris Hilton after she's spent 45 summer days in the L.A. County slammer"

Salad - What was the last piece of software you installed onto your computer?

I installed the free DivX upgrade on my work laptop, as well as some software to try and interface with my cell phone. It hasn't worked yet.. :( (and advice would be appreciated).

Main Course - If you were to receive a superlative award today beginning with the words ”Most likely to…”, what would the rest of the phrase say?

"Most Likely To Be Remembered By His Kids When He's 80" Award

Dessert - What two colors do you like to wear together?

You're supposed to match colors? I just try to alternate light/dark...

I Resent the Insinuation, Thank You...

Urban Word of the Day

June 15, 2007: digital immigrant

Someone who grew up before the digital age and is fairly new to the internet. Basically anyone over the age of 28.

YouTube is foreign to the digital immigrant.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Memo to Spammers

In From field of spam I got today:

From: Mr Emma Roberts

Dudes, I feel for you. I really do. Poor folks trying to make a dishonest buck from their basement PC setup.... but the least you could do is just try.

Unless I miss my guess, there's never been a male born named "Emma".

Thanks, this has been a public service announcement.

Customer Support - Pt 2

[Continued from here]

On the Phone

So when we last left our heroes, I was forced to pick up the phone and actually place a phone call. Muster up your midichlorians, young padawan.. Ok.

I dialed the number in the email and spoke to someone almost immediately. Points there... I believe her name was Michelle, but she had an accent so it was difficult to tell if I was talking to Austin, India, Outer Mongolia, or a Jarada. She was polite, and eventually informed me I that since I had already placed an order, I had to speak to someone in the Order Modification department. And she transferred me.

Ok. Order Modificatin sounded vaguely Orwellian, but I was willing to play along for the moment. The next person I spoke to (again, a lady with an accent but an American name) was not in the Order Modification department, and was not hesitant to inform me of that fact after a few moments of wrangling and re-iterating my problem. She transferred me, once again, to Order Modification. Or tried to.

I think I got the main switchboard at that point, in which I needed to talk to someone in Order Modification. The helpful switchboard operator (too bad it wasn't Pam...) transferred me to....somewhere. I think it was the Sales Department. The lady there, this time with an American accent, was somewhat more helpeful although she told me there was no such thing as an Order Modification Department... strange. Anyway, I went over my problem with her in great detail.

Here's the problem as I explained. I just bought, through Dell, a new computer system that was - in my mind - applicable for a free memory upgrade offer advertised on their website. In plain words it said they would provide a free upgrade from 1GB to 2GB memory with the purchase of a C521 Desktop with X2 4000+ processor. Their contention was that if I wasn't offered the option of choosing the free upgrade during the order process, then the offer wasn't applicable.

Now, if you've never purchased a Dell system online you start at the beginning with the model of PC and work through screen-by-screen choosing, accepting or modifying various options along the way. I got the opportunity when building my system to choose the type of monitor I wanted, how much memory, type of video card, etc. According to them since on the Memory screen I wasn't given the opportunity to choose the free 2GB upgrade option, it wasn't applicable here.

My contention continued to be that the ad explicitly specified the criteria for the upgrade was a particular model/processor combination, which my selection fulfilled, and they needed to honor the advertised promotion and give me the free upgrade.

I wasn't snotty about it, simply expecting them to honor the upgrade offer that they advertised.

The Customer Service rep said the only way I could get the free memory upgrade was to have her cancel my existing order, and to go back and rebuild my system from the ground up - this time adding in the option for free memory. I told her that was never an option for me the first time around, and she asserted that it was. So we were at an impasse. Since we were at an impasse, she offered to let me speak to someone with some more authority, so I agreed. A 10-minute wait on hold followed.

tap tap tap...

I would've hung up, except I seemed to be working my way up the ladder - hopefully to someone who had the authority to simply pull up the order form, verify the terms of the offer and upgrade the memory themselves. Similar to the enchilada problem in the first post, none of the employees I had spoken to were empowered to sidestep corporate policy and try to do the right thing for a customer. Up to that point, a loyal customer. And we're only talking about a $100 upgrade, at best (that's how much it would've cost me to upgrade the memory myself on the order screen and pay for it).

During the hold, I actually went through and started two more orders - one from the link I started from, and the other beginning from the Dell Home/Home Office page. I soon discovered that starting from the Dell site builds a slightly different C521 package, one that does indeed automatically give you the option of a free memory upgrade but does not include the monitor. The resulting comparison of the two systems differed by almost $250, with my system being the much better deal. So I could see what was going on, slightly.

I finally talked to another lady who was actually quite helpful. She understood my contention, we spoke about the two different ways to build the systems and that one gave the option for the memory upgrade and one only gave the monitor addition option. According to her, there are special package offers all over the web that aren't covered in existing promotions like the memory upgrade.

I told her I completely understood the distinction and the Dell-originated C521 order process is the only one that had the upgrade offer built-in, but that according to the wording of the promotion on their own website, no distinction was made. She seemed to agree with me but was powerless to do anything about it. She offered to speak to her manager.

I was a bit hopeful.

For only a moment, however, because she came back and confirmed yet again there was nothing they could do, that the upgrade could only be applied through the other offer. I hesitated to play the "I'm a loyal customer and need to be taken care of if you want my business in the future" card because I think it's tacky and childish...although I did float it out at one point and the bait wasn't even nibbled at, so I didn't pursue. I even considered saying, "I'm going to so blog about this...and then you guys will be sorry!!!" but decided against that as well :)

I considered asking to speak to the manager myself but at that point was tired of talking on the phone and ready to eat lunch. So I thanked her for her assistance, complimented her on her knowledge of the products and ordering system and patience (much more than any of the previous "Customer Service Reps" I had spoken to). She apologized for not being able to do anything and that was that.

Final Thoughts

What was clearly to me a matter of honoring an advertised offer became a case of red tape and one group not talking to the other. Advertising an upgrade as being for certain well-defined systems, but not including the offer to all system builds was a mistake on their part. That, or the person that wrote the copy for the advertisement forgot or was not informed that only systems built from the Dell site were applicable. Again, a breakdown in communications. Better communications would've alleviated a lot of confusion.

But employee empowerment, to me, was the bigger problem. That and allowing Customer Service employees to actually address specific problems without the endless transfer cycle. Only when I went either to the more individual department and higher up the command chain, did I find people with knowledge of the products and offers they were supporting. However, none of them (as far up as I went) were willing or able to bend the rules a bit to right a wrong, make a customer happy, and give a win for everyone involved. As I said before, all it took was a tap-tap on the keyboard by someone with the power to change an order, then make a note in a log that a customer's day was brightened. The blog entry would've ended on a happier note, some good PR might've been spread around, and Dell would've benefited - all for about $100, the price they were eating for the upgrade. Actually a lot less than that because that was their retail price, and I wasn't going to buy it anyway.

So all you employers out there - my advice is to trust your employees, let them use their intelligence and wisdom, and give them some latitude to make changes that please the customer and cement that long-term relationship so many companies crave. Whether it's cars, clothes, hospitals, computers....or enchiladas.


Do you think I should lodge a complaint of any kind? I'm debating it, and not sure...

Customer Support - Pt 1

(A bit of a long post, so be patient)

The Background

Recently Will had an interesting experience at a local (to him) Mexican eatery:
I ate at a restaurant that I usually don’t eat at [...] but I won’t be eating there again.

The problem is that all of their enchilada plates only came with two enchiladas. I’m a three enchilada guy at least, four if I forgo the rice and beans or if I’m really hungry. Two just whets my appetite. I asked the waiter if I could pay extra to get a third enchilada and he told me that they didn’t sell enchiladas a la carte. If I wanted that third enchilada, I had to order a second plate and spend a whopping $13 for four enchiladas for lunch.

Whether I go to a place or not depends on whether or not I can get what I want. So nevermind the extra buck they would have made by charging me two for an enchilada, they’ve lost my business.

I commented:

I think a lot of restaurant businesses, especially those that are more fast-serving than others, are so tied to the buttons on their cash register there’s no room for improvising. If there’s not a button on there for “Double cheeseburger with extra pickles and a little relish” then you can’t have it that way because there’s no way to ring it up.

And in a sit-down place like a Mexican restaurant the employees may have been given explicit instructions from the management not to make up special orders because they don’t want to give the waiters and managers the power to set prices on non-standard items. While it would seem a no-brainer to sell one enchilada a la carte for $3.50 when a two-plater costs $7, what do they do when someone wants a special three turkey tacos, two guacamole enchiladas, an all-bean burrito and a side of vegetarian con queso? I wouldn’t even know how to start pricing that one, so the owners probably say NO SPECIAL ORDERS, period.

It doesn’t make sense to be short-sighted enough not to offer a la carte in the first place, but that’s what I think the reason is at that restaurant.
The bottom line is that in some establishments, most particularly franchises of large chains or bureaucracy-heavy national companies, employees and managers are not given any freedom to improvise service for customers that have special requests or needs. If an item or combination is not on the menu, it's simply not available. No breaking up a $3.50 2-taco combo into 1 taco for $1.75 for you because management won't allow it, it's not on the register, I don't know how much to charge, there's no way to record it, it'll mess up the bookkeeping, etc. This can be frustrating for the consumer that expects good customer service.

Now, this doesn't excuse some consumers who want special treatment for everything and get frustrated when the employee doesn't bend over backward for their every need. There's a middle ground that is difficult for some consumers to reach as well. So we're not entirely blameless.

But still, giving more flexibility to front-line employees and mid-level managers to adapt goods and services to the immediate needs of the customer would be a smart idea for any business.

Case in point for me, Dell Computers.

Dell Computers

Some background: About 5 years ago I bought a Dell Dimension 4100 desktop system online, and have been quite happy with the setup. Now that BrainyBoy is entering middle school I figured it was time to give him that PC and upgrade the family unit. A few days ago I saw an online promotion at, an online site that finds good deals for merchandise across the web. The link led straight to the Dell website, and I was able to follow the online process and get a nice new Dimension C521 Desktop.

(specs if anyone's interested)
* AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+
* Genuine Windows XP Home Edition
* 1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs
* 160GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/ DataBurst Cache
* 16X DVD-ROM Drive
* 20 inch E207WFP Widescreen Digital Flat Panel
* NVIDIA GeForce 6150 LE Integrated Graphics GPU
* Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio

Anyway, the great thing about the promotion was the Digital Flat Panel monitor was included, which knocked about $250 off what the total price could have been. In fact, I added an additional $40 to bump the monitor up to a 22" model. Sweet :)

But I digress.

Anyway, as I'm placing the order I notice a separate promotion prominently featured all over the Dell site offering a free 1GB to 2GB memory upgrade with purchase of a C521 system with Athlon X2 4000+ processer. Double sweet! The problem was I couldn't find any instructions on how to apply the upgrade to an existing order. My order was placed and being processed (with an additional bonus of free 3-5 day shipping - triple sweet!!) but no notice that the 1GB to 2GB upgrade was automatically applied.

Customer Support - Chat and Email

So I started the customer support route. The Award Winning Dell Customer Service. First I tried the revolutionary Online Chat service - a very handy tool, actually. I was connected to a live rep...somewhere. Actually, I eventually spoke to about 3 different Online Chat Reps, and each was unhelpful, referring me to a different Chat area. Finally I gave up, as Online Chat support was unable to provide any useful information. In each case I provided them with specific information on the system I had bought, the memory upgrade promotion, and what I was expecting Dell to provide via terms of the offer.

Next I tried the regular customer support email route (note that I am always loathe to talk face-to-face via phone to tech or customer support... I am not a good phone talker, and prefer to take time to sort out my thoughts and facts on a keyboard rather than try to remember everything I need to know at the spur of the moment). I emailed the customer support rep with a detailed explanation of my problem:
I have just purchased, through Dell, a Dimension C521 system with an Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+ processor.

The advertisement listed as going through June 13, 2007:

says free upgrades from 1GB to 2GB are available for C521 purchasers. I would like to know how to go about getting that free 1GB to 2GB memory upgrade.

Thank you,
Here's the reply I got, the next day (Tuesday afternoon)
Thank you for contacting Dell.

I understand from your email that you wish to know how to upgrade the memory from 1GB to 2GB. I will certainly assist you withis request.

I request you to contact the sales department at 800-284-3355 so that they would assist you in making the necessary order modifications.

Dell records reflect that order number xxxxxxxx was placed on 06-11-07.

The estimated ship date of order number xxxxxxxx is 6/18/2007. The estimated date of delivery is 6/21/2007-6/25/2007.
So, as you can see, email tech support was unhelpful, did not address the actual problem at all, and instructed me to call customer support by phone.


Yesterday afternoon I took some time to begin the phone trail.... the fun was just beginning....

[To Be Continued]

How Old Am I?

How Old Am I?

Here's the list of the artists/bands I've heard of that are playing at Bonnaroo this weekend:

The Police
Ziggy Marley
Old Crow Medicine Show (Maybe?)
Smokin' Dave and the Premo Dopes

Yep, and that's about it. Out of about 144 bands, comedy acts and other artists.

Eh? What'd you say? Just hand me my walker, somebody...

You know, I do notice one noteworthy omission from that list. Maybe next year, hm?

The Zombies Attack - Final

*blink blink*

What was that all about? Wow, what a weird dream....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Biggest Sports Non-Story of the Year

One small aside from the ongoing zombie invasion:

Earnhardt to join Hendrick Motorsports

You've gotta be kidding me.

Paris Hilton's jail-time is more relevant than this story, and it's big news in the sports world today.

If there's anything more superfluous to the sports world than the NBA it has to be Auto Racing.


The Zombies Attack - Part 2


Things have gotten worse. I don't know how long my internet connection will last.

I'm going to try and sort things out in my mind.

The undead birds won't stop thumping against the window. Half-roadkilled possums and raccoons attempt to get into my trash for food they can no longer eat nor digest. Animated dogs, cats, gerbils, parakeets and even a few fish crawl and flop across the driveway, looking for sustenance. All the live animals have fled - even our own cats and dog have gone to ground inside the house.

I can't get an outside line on my landline or my cell. Cable's been intermittent. All I see are the various websites and blogs that are reporting on the variations to the theme around the country.... It sounds like this is a widespread thing, and there's no explanation.

Except that everywhere but here, apparently, there are zombie humans. So far, thankfully, I haven't seen a single soul. Or unsoul. Whatever.

None of the neighbors have made an attempt to come out...well, except for old man Finkel across the street. He came out for the paper, still half-asleep. Our other neighbors old huskey that died 6 months ago took him down quickly and....doesn't look to be quite done with him.

I don't dare open the doors or the garage, because who knows what holes they could use to get in the house. I've piled up furniture against the glass doors out to the deck in the back, but that's no guarantee - only enough to fool anything into thinking there's no actual entrance there.

It's all over the web - the dead are rising from the grave. Except here it's just the animals.

What's next?

What's ne-- wait, what's that noise???

The Zombies Attack - Part 1


It started with a moan.

As I woke up this morning, I heard what I thought was possibly a low helicopter or maybe several leaf blowers in the distance. When I went out to get the paper, the noise persisted, although it seemed to be coming from all directions. And something just didn't smell right... There were low clouds, and the world seemed to be holding its breath.

The family had already left for the day and I was by myself. I flipped on the Today Show and all I got was NBC, no ABC, no CNN, no HGTV, no Scifi Channel - no Knology cable at all. Something was definitely amiss.

I fired up the laptop to see if I could tap into some sort of news feed when I saw a flicker of a shadow outside the window. Glancing up, I wondered if my wife had returned home for some reason. As the laptop booted, I pulled back the window curtain--

--to see my recently deceased and formerly buried cat staring at me through the window.

I don't recall much from the next few minutes. I found myself sitting on the floor, staring at the back of the house so I couldn't look out the window. Shaking my head I risked another glance out the window and the cat was gone. If it was actually there in the first place.

I looked out into the yard - there he was again, near the tree licking a paw. Except..well it wasn't really a paw anymore. Mostly the remains of a paw. And a dessicated tongue. I quickly closed the curtains and sat in the chair quietly for a few moments, thinking of nothing. I reached out and opened a browser on my laptop.

Thankfully the wireless internet connection was still active. I slowly typed in and got the dreaded white-page-with-black-text-from-over-access, last seen on 9/11. The headline on the page slowly appeared:


And underneath, several linked stories:

Massive reports of dogs, cats, rising from graves

Undead elephants cause panic at San Diego Zoo

Central Park in chaos as reanimated pets attack joggers

Will we see dead people? Leading experts disagree?

Now not only is my dead cat sprawled contentedly on the grass outside, two half-rotted dobermans just trotted down the street, one holding a recently-living squirrel in its mouth. I suspect the squirrel will be up and about soon.

I've decided to stay indoors and live blog the event as long as I can. I can't reach anyone by phone, and I just hope my family has sense to stay indoors wherever they are.

Help us..


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Strange Doin's in Women's Basketball

First Tennessee cancels its series with UConn Lady Huskies. Speculation is rampant over the reasons for that, ranging from money to suggestions of cheating to bad blood between Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma to wanting to not play them so often when they meet in the NCAA Tournamet almost every year.

Strangely, Pat and the Athletic Department have kept silent. John Adams doesn't like it one bit, and makes his feelings known in a rare criticism of the Lady Vols by the News Sentinel.

We may never know the real reason, but I think as time goes on public pressure will mount to give some sort of explanation. Real or made up.

Then today former Lady Vol All-American and Los Angeles Spark All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw retired from the WNBA after eight years on and off in the league. She had battled depression during that stint, and it's unknown whether her retirement is related to that. Holdsclaw gave no official explanation.


UPDATE (06/14): Edited to correct first link location. Sorry about that...


I bwuised my widdle thumb...

(I can hear all of you: "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww..........")

Ok, maybe not.

But for the first time in a while, on Saturday, I returned to playing upbeat rock, swing and jazz after a month or more of accompanying a cast on Broadway tunes. The difference in styles is not terribly far apart, but enough to make me remember I have a lot invested in my hands...

Anyway, the tip of my left thumb is bruised because I slammed it repetitively too hard on the keyboard Saturday night. Now it hurts to play it just normally, and even to use the computer. I take for granted how much I rely on ol' lefty - that's the finger I use to hit the SPACE bar, also the ALT button. Both get used a great deal - look back and you can see how many times I hit the SPACE bar in writing just this short paragraph. You see the pain and anguish I put myself in for YOU, Gentle Reader????

Ah, the sacrifices I make...

But seriously, I think from time to time the vital importance I have in my hands. I am a full-time web programmer, so obviously I'm on the computer all day. The mouse can only do so much, there are times you have to use the keyboard. If something ever happened to my hands, even one of them, my livelihood would be put in temporary or even permanent jeopardy.

That doesn't even take into account my avocations - musical theatre, my band, church music.... they all require me playing a piano keyboard of some kind or other. If even one of my hands were injured, I would be unable to play at all.

Does anyone remember the M*A*S*H episode where the soldier lost some functionality in his right hand, but was a concert pianist? I think about that sometimes. Charles found him some specially written concertos for the left hand. What a guy, that Winchester.

Hey, it just occurred to me if something happened to my hands, I couldn't blog. Some of you might consider this a good thing.... :)

It's incumbent upon me to protect my hands, because if I lost their use even for a short time, my job would suffer and I'd have to quit any show I was working on.

It's a little scary.

Hang in there, guys...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Groupies

A big thanks go out to Tish, Rich, Mark and LissaKay who came out after the Knoxville Blogfest to hear The Atomic Horns last night in Oak Ridge.

Guys, you don't know what it meant to me to see you out there and to listen to and read your kind compliments about the show. I really appreciate it.

Tish has photos of the gig, and rumor has it Rich may have some video in the future ;) Go check them out!

The band doesn't have any more public gigs scheduled at the moment, but we'll definitely be going back to the Eagle's Lodge in the future. I'll make sure everyone has plenty of notice. :)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Atomic Horns in Concert Saturday Night - Oak Ridge

(click to enlarge)

True Definitions I

Now it all makes sense...

Po' * ke * mon - noun
    badly animated cockfighting

Thank you James Lileks for clearing that up after all these years!

Oh, and Michael your bookie.

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Forty Seven

Appetizer - What do you consider to be the ultimate snack food?

As much as I love the simplicity of a nice, plain potato chip the greatest snack in the world has to be a bag of microwave popcorn. Had a bag tonight as a matter of fact ;)

Soup - On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as highest), about how popular is your last name?

Probably about a 6. There are more in this area, because it's a Scottish/Welsh name and there are a lot of people of that descent here.

Salad - Who is your all-time favorite sitcom character, and why?

Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce from M*A*S*H, because I think he has great character and great sense of humor. And many other reasons, although I am very much a B.J. Honeycutt in real life.

Main Course - Do you shop online? If so, name some sites you like to browse for goodies.

I've buy from Amazon fairly often, and I've bought a couple of DVD's from other online places. I bought a pair of boots online several years ago - probably my first online purchase ever.

Dessert - Fill in the blank: I think ___________ should be ___________.

I think politics should be apolitical. Meaning when we choose our leaders and representatives, the election process should be devoid of parties, platforms and "politics". Let the candidates state what they believe in, what they stand for, and what they plan to accomplish if elected to office. If we agree with one candidate or another and he or she seems to be sincere in their beliefs, then vote for them.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My Outrage at the Demise of a Nashville Blogger

How angry am I that Britney got fed up and quit her job at Nashville is Talking due to incessant troll attacks?

How angry am I?? I'll tell you how angry I am...

I...really don't care. I never read her. Apparently that makes me a blogosphere community of about one two who doesn't see what the fuss is about.

I'm sorry she was insulted. I read some of the comments to her post and was disgusted, but not surprised. People out to attack other people are everywhere, finding small ways to fill up their small, sad lives.

Some people continue to insist it's partisan, when it has nothing to do with who's a Republican and who's a Democrat. It's human nature, and it's exacerbated by online anonymity and a sense of entitlement and inflated self-importance. Why is that so hard to understand?

I hope Britney finds a new gig soon, because pay is pay and lives are disrupted when one loses their job. She probably should've shrugged a lot of this off and kept going. But don't treat it like the end of the world, or that it's some big shock to the blogosphere, cause it's nothing new.

I'm far from perfect but I ain't all bad,
And it hurts me more than it makes me mad.
We all do things that we don't want told,
And we all throw stones that we shouldn't throw.
You shatter my image with the stones you throw.

Long time gone and a long time ago,
When I shattered my image with the stones I'd throw.
The world is cruel and people are cold,
Now they shatter my image with the stones they throw.

Shatter my image with the stones they throw...

-- Dolly Parton

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My Sports Commentary of the Day

She totally missed the base. Completely. Utterly. Wasn't even close. I was closer to touching home plate than she was. Saturn was closer to touching home plate than she was. We wuz robbed.

And that's your totally unbiased sports commentary of the day.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Naked Emperor

I know MySpace is the most popular spot on the web these days, along with YouTube and the various Google properties...

Networking sites are all the rage, along with some like Yahoo 360, Facebook, Frappr and MyBlogLog

But the granddaddy of them all is MySpace, which apparently anyone who is anyone has a MySpace page.

Why is MySpace so popular? Because it's popular, as I read somewhere a while back. It's a self-popularizing website - "Everybody has a MySpace page, so I have to, too."

Any band worth its salt has a MySpace page, they're not taken seriously until they do. And there are other examples.

But what nobody seems to want to talk about is how mind-numbingly ugly MySpace sites are...

I've been a web designer for 10 years, and have seen sites evolved from the ever-popular <blink></blink>'ing text to content crammed into every imaginable corner, to minimalist design and maximum interactivity.

But MySpace is's just so badly designed to be laughable. Features are strewn haphazardly about, graphics and videos that people are encouraged to post force extra-wide screens requiring side-scrolling, topdown-scrolling, diagonal-scrolling, longways-scrolling and every scrolling imagineable. The color backgrounds are blinding and the text unreadable. Columns bump into each other and paragraphs of text overlap. Yet everyone continues to accept this as where you have to be.

It's too bad we as web consumers don't demand better from the sites we frequent. I personally can't stand visiting anyone's MySpace page because I know it's going to be an incoherent mess of animated graphics, unwanted indie bands (ok, that's my own prejudice there) and unreadable content.

This Emperor not only has no clothes, they're really, really, really ugly. And no one will tell him about it.

Llamas on the Lloose

This was also from our trip to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. Llamas run amok.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Yay Me!

Barry helps tame wildfires in Ga., Fla.
Tropical Storm Barry and its remnants gave a much-needed soaking to thousands of acres of burning swamp and timberland in northern Florida and southeastern Georgia.

The remains of the storm rode up the East Coast Sunday with gusty winds and rain falling as far north as Upstate New York, according to Weather Underground, a commercial weather service.
Did Barry solve the drought?
People in the Bay area are seeing greener lawns this morning. But how much of the drought problem did Tropical Storm Barry solve over the weekend?

On average, the Bay area had two-four inches of rain during the weekend. That put a dent in drought conditions, but the Bay area remains in a drought and needs considerably more rain to return to normal levels.
Tropical Storm Barry Helps Out Wildfires
Tropical Storm Barry brought some much needed rain to the wildfire that has been burning for weeks on the Florida-Georgia border.

Firefighters said that the rain definitely helped with the Dairy Road fire in Starke, Florida.

Glad to help!


Overheard in the movie theatre the other night

Two 13-yr-old kids running down steps of theatre, one stumbling: "Sh*t!"

Man with wife, passing them on stairs going up to seats, back at the kid: " 'Shoot!' "

Thank you sir. It probably didn't make a difference to the kid (who looked back at you with bemusement and scorn as you passed) but it was a good try nonetheless.

End of an Era

Pardon me for a moment, while I indulge myself in a bit of geeky nostalgia.

Michael will likely appreciate this, maybe others of you as well.

Twenty years ago in 1987 I was a junior in college, the home VCR trend was really starting to take off in a big way and units were affordable even for the average student. It was actually close to the fall before my senior year at UT and I had entertained thoughts of buying myself my first VCR. I was getting ready to move into Andy Holt Apartments on campus (cable!) and it was time.

Plus there was another little event coming up....the premiere of an obscure new TV series - some kind of update to an older show. Maybe you heard of it - "Star Trek: The Next Generation"?

TNG was set to start, so I figured this was as good a time to buy my first VCR as any and tape the episodes. Which I did. Myself and a number of friends (this was before I met Michael, or he would've been there) camped out in the living room to watch this new show, brand new VCR humming.

So I taped. And taped. And taped.

Eventually I had all 178 episodes of Next Gen taped. And all 176 episodes of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". And almost all the 172 episodes of "Star Trek: Voyager" (I missed a couple here and there, what with being married and a father by that time). Plus the first couple of seasons of "Star Trek: Enterprise".

Suffice to say, my videotape collection was quite extensive.

And they didn't just sit on shelves, at least not at first. I watched and re-watched, and eventually reintroduced some of them to Brainyboy. They've been a well thought of collection.

But now it's at an end.

For the past several years, the set of tapes has resided in the top of a closet in the kids' playroom. We're in the process of moving Brainyboy out of his small room upstairs and into the bigger playroom downstairs, and moving what's in there to his old room. And that means the tapes have to go.


It wasn't a terribly difficult decision, since all the series are readily available on DVD anytime I want to buy them. It's just the history of it all, and the time I spent making sure every episode was taped, labeled and stored.

But alas, this weekend they've all been boxed up and put in the garage to be tossed. What with the advent of recordable DVD's and the DVR on my cable, I have no more use even for blank videotapes. I remember the days I'd hoard any scrap of blank tapes to record shows on. No longer.

Well, for almost 20 years it's been fun guys. Remember me fondly.

Wait...ok, confession. I kept the first and last tapes from each series, the premiers and finales.

Gotta have something to hold onto.

Friday, June 01, 2007

First Plane Trip

BrainyBoy and Tink on their first airplane ride:

We were all singing this song.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

On our trip to Texas, one of the places we visited was the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, a free-roaming animal safari featuring antelope, rhinos, buffalo, steer, zebra, ostriches and other wildlife. Driving our rental car through the landscape was an adventure. Here are some photos:

A zebra apparently didn't appreciate me petting his nose...

...but he relented and decided to pose for us....

...then one of his buddies took his place and discovered the inside of the car was cool..

...and decided to stay a while... breathing the cool air conditioning...

"Peace out, dude. Now kindly leave."

"This is Traffic Tracker...we have a road block on highway 109..."

This furry fellow licked Laura's arm. Yeah, I said "ewww" too.

This is some kind of Asian steer. His horns came close to piercing the car door.

"What you lookin' at, mate?"

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Forty Six

Appetizer - Name something you think is “the best.”

The Best Things in my life are my family, my wife and my kids. I wish I spent more time with them, although after the last five days on vacation together in Texas was about all the togetherness I could stand :)

Soup - On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 highest), how stressed are you today?

Just being back at work and back at rehearsals upped my stress level considerably since we got back. I'd say about a 7. Although the flight back on Tuesday was fine, the drive home from Nashville (we flew from San Antonio to Nashville) was stressful because of a wreck on the interstate that kept us either sitting still or creepy crawling for 1-1/2 hours. That made the anticipated 12 midnight arrival at home turn into more a 2am return. So the stress started early...

Salad - What kind of cleanser do you use to wash your face?

What kind of girly questions are these? Cleanser? Ha! I use brillo pads, pumice and barbed wire fence to clean my face. Actually I just use soap in the shower.

Main Course - Tonight is a blue moon! What is something that you believe only happens “once in a blue moon.”

The news is slow enough so that a guy carrying TB is the main headline on the Today Show.

Dessert - When was the last time it rained where you live?

It hasn't rained since we got back Tuesday night, so I have no idea how long before then it rained. I do know from talking to folks and listening to weather forecasts it's been really dry here for a while.