Sunday, September 30, 2007

Blogging from Orlando - Day 4

Oy, this is killing me. But it's a good hurt.


Universal Studios

  • Actually slept in today - woke up about 10. Had a late breakfast, hung out for a while and we were ready to head out around noon.

  • Spent the afternoon at Universal Studios. Tonight was one of their "Halloween Horror Nights" so the park was closing earlier than usual. This also meant that while the crowds were light in the early hours, they increased as the afternoon went on. We got snagged by a survey taker soon after entering the park - as we found out yesterday, sometimes there are nice perks for taking surveys and gladly obliged.

  • We rode Earthquake, watched the Blues Brothers stage show (and took notes for the Atomic Horns performances. Me and Paul from the band do better Jake and Elwood than these guys...). Men in Black a couple of times (I'm still no better at scoring points than the last time), Jaws, E.T. Adventure, Terminator 2: 3D (Laura's favorite), Shrek 4-D and still my personal favorite at Universal, Twister: Ride it Out. I know my friend Gary will be shocked we didn't do the Mummy, but we just weren't up for the fast stuff today. This was rest day! And we still did a lot.

  • Today was much less intensely hot, but the wind also kicked up a great deal. No rain, though, just a great day for going to a park.

  • It's nice to have time to kill - the passes I bought online allow 7 consecutive days of entry to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure and we have 4-5 days to visit both as much as we want, so no need to cram everything in.

  • Still disappointed Back to the Future closed, which was my next favorite ride last time I came. It's been dismantled for a new Simpsons ride next year. It'll probably be good, but it still won't be a BTTF.

  • We left the park around 5:30 and once again got surveyed - this time about our experience in the park that day. Perks? Perks? No perks. C'mon, USF - show some love. Ah well.

  • Had dinner out in Orlando and came home and swam. Got to get some rest for the big day tomorrow....

Tomorrow: EPCOT's 25th Anniversary!

Blogging from Orlando - Day 3


Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom

  • Rode a shuttle bus from the resort to the Magic Kingdom about 8am. The driver told us we would be able to watch the fireworks shuttle and could be back in plenty of time for the return bus at 9:30. Remember this instruction, it comes back into play later.

  • While waiting in line at the front entrance, near the front of the line, a nice young Disney Cast Member asked us if we'd like to come take a quick survey - we'd finish quickly and actually get to enter the park before the rest of the crowd. Well, duh, no brainer. We followed her through the gates and took the survey in a small building just inside. After we finished it was still a few minutes till 9 (rope drop) so we just walked on down Main Street USA. It's a surreal sight to see the street mostly deserted, only some welcoming cast members waving a friendly hello. Cinderella's castle loomed in the distance.

  • We headed straight to the newly refurbished Haunted Mansion and rode it twice in a row, no wait. The new enhancements are amazing. We then rode Pirates of the Caribbean twice, again no waiting. This coming in right after opening is amazing - 4 rides in less than an hour.

  • Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain (first time) and It's a Small World rounded out our morning at the Magic Kingdom. It was just after noon and time to head out of the park.

  • We'd noticed several couples wearing "Happy Anniversary" Disney buttons, so just before we left the Magic Kingdom we stopped in Guest Relations and asked for some. Received them with no questions asked, and a congratulations. From then on the rest of the day many cast members we encountered congratulated us on our anniversary. You could tell pretty soon the management had mandated all cast members encountering someone wearing the buttons do so, but it was still thoughtful.

  • We caught a Disney shuttle bus to Animal Kingdom and headed straight to Dinosaur - The Ride. We got caught in a downpour but made it there anyway, soaking. Again, no wait. Some late lunch and over to Expedition Everest. The wait there was actually 30 minutes, but a kindly soul gave me a FastPass and I got in right away. Very nice ride - I liked this one.

  • We then saw the new Finding Nemo: The Musical show (quickie review: songs and voices somewhat lacking; energy, puppetry and spectacle fantastic) and headed back out of the park, and back to the Magic Kingdom.

  • This time we took the Ferry boat back to the Magic Kingdom, and spent the evening in Tomorrowland. Stitch's Great Escape, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, one of personal favorites the Tommorowland Transit Authority, and Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor. In the Laugh Floor, certain audience members are put up on the big screen and interact with the computer generated monster on the screen. Well, yours truly found himself on the big screen making a fool of himself in front of about 300 people.

  • We found a prime spot to have some dinner, watch the Spectromagic parade and watch the fireworks show "Wishes" with a full view of Cinderella's Castle. In honor of our Tink, the live Tinkerbell that flies down a wire from the top of the castle passed right over our heads.

  • Tired and sore, we exited the park and tried to make it back to the bus. When we got there at 9:36 pm - no bus. They had waiting only 5 minutes or less, and left. We ended up making a visual circuit of Epcot on the monorail and finally caught the 11pm bus back to the resort.

Except for the trouble with the bus at the end of the day, it was absolutely perfect. I made a schedule and plan before we started, and was able to hit everything we wanted to in the time we had. I love it when a plan comes together.

As much as we enjoy having the kids with us at Disney, there's something really special about spending time there with the one you love. Something very special, indeed.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Short Interlude for Baseball Update

Here's a quick update to the BrainyBoy baseball situation. We missed his game last night (Thursday) so called him from Pop Century this morning to check up on how it went.

He played outfield for 2 innings, and third base for 2 innings. According to him nothing was hit his way, but he tagged a man out leading off of third. Good for him! More progress, hopefully, in impressing his coach.

I'm encouraged.

Thank you to all those who offered helpful suggestions - they're appreciated.

Blogging from Orlando - Day 2

Sometimes you're just hardwired to wake up at a certain time. Laura is, I'm not. We had till 12:30 to check out and she was awake at 6. Old habits are hard to break. Up and at them!


  • Had breakfast in the massive Pop Century food court. We had surprisingly good portions of eggs'n'bacon crossiant and a standard egg/sausage/bacon/hashbrowns plate. Very tasty and great way to start the day.

  • Decided to walk off the breakfast by taking a leisurely stroll around the resort, taking in all the decorations and gaudy kitsch. It was freakin' hot. By 10am it was likely pushing 90 degrees. We were able to walk the whole resort, keeping in the shade when possible and taking several photos.

  • After checking out, we drove over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge to look around. This resort, one of the most upscale of all the Disney resorts, is unique in that several animals routinely roam "savannahs" closely visible from the guest rooms. Giraffes, zebra, gazelle, bongos, buffalo and many variety of birds move here and there in full view of the guests. We explored all over this resort, just watching and seeing what was there. The theming of the Lodge was gorgeous, in African motifs and pleasany native music. We took our time and enjoyed the lodge. It would be great to stay here someday, as the lobby and restaurant area, plus the pool, are beautiful. Unfortunately it's pretty much out of our price range in our life time. Onward.

  • Next we drove over to to Port Orleans resort and had some lunch. The section of Port Orleans that we visited has a Mardi Gras, French Quarter feel and as we at lunch in the on-site restaurant, giant decorations stared down at us from the walls. Huge masks and over Mardi Gras decorations filled the walls and ceiling. We bought some beignets and a ham and cheese sub and people-watched.

  • It was time for check-in at the resort where we will stay for the rest of the trip here - Wyndham Resorts at Bonnet Creek. There's a lake behind the resort, pools, a lazy river floating area and walkways - more importantly it's a place to dump our stuff. On the way to the resort we stopped and got some groceries and somehow in the process of getting from the store to the room we lost one of the bags. Cheese-it Crackers, Chips Ahoy cookies, bandaids and camera batteries - gone. Crap. Anyway, we rested in the room for a good while until around 5pm.

  • Drove out to Downtown Disney and had dinner at the House of Blues restaurant. I had a pulled pork barbecue sandwich and Laura had corn chowder and a salad. We took the boat launch from the West Side around to the Market Place, shopped for awhile then walked back through Pleasure Island and back to the car. Not only does Downtown Disney have the world's largest World of Disney Store (since the one in Knoxville moved locations it isn't the same), a Lego Store and (Laura's favorite) Disney's Days of Christmas, my favorite place is the Art of Disney where they sell artwork, cels, sketches and other renderings of Disney characters and movies. There are some truly breathtaking works in there, and we will probably return and purchase some Tinkerbell prints for our Tink's room....

  • Got back to Bonnet Creek about 9, just in time to watch the Epcot fireworks show from our balcony. I shot some video and will try to post it eventually as well.

  • Early start tomorrow as we hit the Magic Kingdom and Animal Planet. 999 Happy Haunts wait for no one - there's room for 1,000... Any volunteers?

Blogging from Orlando - Day 1

Day late and a dollar short.

Actually, this is being typed on Day 2. I just got internet connection in our hotel room, so I'll have to recap yesterday.


  • Plane left Knoxville for Orlando about 8pm. Flying Allegiant Air was interesting for the first time. Pretty no-frills. The flight was bumpy, but not too bad. Got into Orlando and on the road in a rental car around 10:30.

  • Drove out to Pop Century Resort and made it there a little after 11. Talk about sensory overload. I'll post photos when I have time, but suffice to say every artifact and saying of the 50's-90's is painfully (and playfully) on display here. We checked in, had a snack and went on to bed. Tomorrow's a busy day!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

One of THOSE Parents

I have a dilemma.

A couple years back I suddenly became on of THOSE parents - you know the ones, that argue with the umps at a Little League baseball game because a call didn't go my son's way?

That's almost the Cardinal Sin of Little League - a parent interfering with the flow of the game, especially because of some real or imagined slight against their child. Of course my reasons were perfectly valid and just, at least to me.

But that's not the point. The point is I'm considering committing the REAL Cardinal Sin of Little League, which is interfering with the coach regarding playing time for Brainyboy, and more precisely where he plays.

BB plays what they call, "Fall Ball", which is less intense, less competitive than the leagues that play in the spring, which should allow more participation and greater opportunities for the kids to learn about the game of baseball. It should either prepare them for the more competitive leagues, or at least instill in them a love and enjoyment of the game.

In my humble, parental opinion, BB is not being given a fair shake.

Now, he's not the greatest player in the world I admit. There are a number of kids on the team who are more skilled both at baseball in particular and athletics in general. But he's improved this year dramatically and has succeeded way beyond my expectations. I'm really proud of his progress, and have told him so several times.

Yet while the coach allows a brand-new player, another boy on the team, to play 2nd base the whole game last night, BB is stuck in Right Field. And every game before that he's been stuck in Left Field. He's played 3rd for one inning (making an unassisted double play, I might add) and 1st base one inning (picking a runner off the base), but in 7 games all other times it's been in the field.

Now, typically Little League teams are pretty static - you play one position and generally stick there most of the season. But this league moves kids around - you might have an inning where the entire infield has shifted around. So there's huge precedence for it.

Last night he was highly upset at not being given a chance to play infield, even for a couple innings, in situations and positions in which he's excelled and done everything the coach's asked in the past.

So that's my dilemma - do I speak to the coach, ask him why he's not playing BB in other positions, try to use some influence to get him to move him around some more?

Just that is not that big a deal. You see, earlier in the season I sent the coach an email suggesting that BB might be ideally suited for 1sy Base (just like his old man). The coach obliged for that one inning - BB did a fantastic job - and that was it.

So a subsequent email or conversation would seem to me to be excessive parental griping and tampering. At least that's how I might consider it, were I the coach.

Now, my dad coached me and my brother in baseball and continued coaching Little League for a long time. He's told me many stories about kids who had no talent that believed they could pitch, and how they and their parents would lobby him to "Put The Kid In". These situations are ridiculous, because it should be obvious to some people that their kid's skills has a limit. But it doesn't apply in this situation because the skills are there, the heart is there - he's just being completely overlooked.

What do I do?

UPDATE (09/27/07): I decided not to say anything to the coach, and let matters play out as they will. I urged BrainyBoy to mention something himself about wanting to play the infield, but he vigorously refused. He's become somewhat jaded about the process himself. We'll just wait and see what happens.

He has a game tonight, but we won't be there as we'll almost be in the air at the time, plus we'll miss his games next week which is disappointing. There's not much more I enjoy than watching my son play baseball...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Car, My Pal

Remember my car? It's a 2005 Ford Focus (long term readers might recall my run-in with a deer)

I just got an email from the dealer where I bought my car--

--addressed to my car...

Dear Focus:

"Happy Anniversary" from your friends at *Dealership Name*!

I hope you and Barry are getting along well and that Barry is taking good care of you. If you have any bumps and scratches, aches or pains, just come in and see us. We are here to care for you. As always if there is anything I can do, please call me at *Dealership Name* at 865-abc-defg.

I hope you and your owner have an excellent day!

*Manager's Name*
General Manager
I just thought it was nice my car has a friend out there. Maybe we'll invite him for a sleepover in the garage one day.

I don't know, the van might get jealous.

Childhood Dreams

If there's one video to watch on the web today, it's this:

Dying Professor's Lecture of a Lifetime

Randy Pausch, a 46-year-old computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has terminal cancer and expects to live for just a few more months.

This week, he said goodbye to his students and the Pittsburgh college with one last lecture called "How to Live Your Childhood Dreams," on his life's journey and the lessons he's learned

The Wall Street Journal called it "the lecture of a lifetime" and those who have seen it have more than agreed.
Dr. Pausch lays everything on the line with grace, humor and wisdom. By telling his life and career story, he explains how everyone can fulfill their childhood dreams (one of which included being Captain Kirk, so Michael, you're one step ahead of the game right there).

He speaks of developing a Virtual Reality simulation with Disney Imagineers, teaching a hugely popular course in Virtual Worlds at Carnegie-Mellon, developing graduate programs in imagination building and finally completing work on a new system for teaching kids how to use computers.

He's given me a lot to think about. A whole lot.

An important point he made that I have to consider deeply involved setbacks and things that block our progress:
Though he achieved most of his childhood dreams, Pausch flashed his rejection letters on a screen and talked about career setbacks: "Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls aren't there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show us how badly we want things."
We all have brick walls in our lives. Some happen naturally as a result of circumstances. Sometimes other people put them up to block our way.

Sometimes we raise them ourselves and keep building them, brick by brick, while we try and convince ourselves that they are not of our own making. These are my most challenging walls to overcome, and maybe I can find the strength to overcome them.

Anyway, if you ever had childhood dreams watch the video of someone who overcame them - and see how he deals with death, for some the biggest brick wall of them all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, EPCOT

This time next Monday, as part of our 15th anniversary trip, my wife and I will be attending the 25th Birthday celebration for Epcot at Walt Disney World.

On Oct 1, 1992 the combination permanent World's Fair and Future Technology celebration opened its doors for the first time. On Oct 1, 2007 the Disney company will hold a celebration commemorating this event:

Epcot 25 celebration to take place next Monday
After months of denying that there would be any official public recognition of Epcot's 25th anniversary next Monday, Walt Disney World is now planning a rededication ceremony and other events to commemorate the park, which opened on October 1, 1982. Disney's plans were perhaps spurred in part by the huge response to the "Celebration 25" event created by Jenn Waitt and Adam Roth, and to a smaller event called "The Epcot Thing" created by Nathan Rose. The fact that several hundred people were willing to travel to attend an unofficial event helped convince Disney to involve the "Celebration 25" group in the official rededication ceremony that takes place at the Fountain of Nations plaza behind Spaceship Earth.

In addition to the 10:01 a.m. ceremony—which echoes the park's original dedication ceremony—Epcot is installing a special exhibit in the south corridor of Innoventions West near the character greeting location, distributing commemorative buttons to all park guests, and adding a special ending tag for the evening's showing of Illuminations. The tag will feature well-known Epcot music and the voice of Walt Disney, most likely from "The Epcot Film," and will include perhaps as many shells in the closing seconds as the show's entire holiday tag.

"Retro" guidebooks, menus and other souvenirs will also be involved in the event. The Innoventions exhibit will be in place through at least the end of the year; we'll bring you photos from the exhibit in the October 8 Park Update.

Also, park guests will have the opportunity to chat with Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar in the Circle of Life Theater inside The Land pavilion, though seating will be limited. World Showcase restaurants will also get into the act, providing menus reminiscent of the original 1982 menus. It will be interesting to see how that integrates with the opening week of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Despite that, much of Disney's focus remains on cast-oriented events, as originally planned. The 300 opening-day cast members who still work there will be recognized, and other giveaways, decorations and celebrations are also involved.
EPCOT (its original spelling, which Walt Disney named the "Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow", has morphed to the present "Epcot") is my favorite of all the WDW parks and the one I most enjoy spending a day just walking and wandering. Here's a great article about Illuminations, the nightly fireworks/lasers/fantasy show at EPCPT

Illuminations takes it for granted that you know full well where you are, and proceeds from the assumption that you want to be entertained, you want to be astonished, you want to be moved. It doesn't try for humor, because its designers knew that a smile genuinely earned is better than one that's forced or coaxed.

And I'll say it again -- it succeeds despite (or, more likely, because of) a complete and utter lack of anything overtly Disney, save for a few fleeting seconds of Walt Disney's image in one of its visual montages. Despite music that becomes bombastic, overwhelming images and the thunderous fireworks, Illluminations is paradoxically subtle.

It conveys all of the values, all of the spirit, all of the inspiration and emotion of EPCOT's core themes (an ideal future, a peaceful world, a collaborative people) by combining music, images and a visceral experience with flair, creativity and, dare I say it, artistry.
When we as a family first visited Walt Disney World, they were in the midst of the huge Millennium celebration in 2000 so we got to see this show close to its debut, and it's simply amazing.

I missed the 25th Anniversary of the 1982 World's Fair here in Knoxville back in July, so at least I'll get to see this one in Orlando next week. I can't wait.

However, all that said, the thing I'm most looking forward to is walking down the paths and streets of EPCOT, holding my wife's hand and just enjoying the company :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Sixty One

Appetizer - What is your favorite type of art?

I have trouble getting behind visual art. My brain is much more attuned to the music and dramatic arts than visual. One painting/sculpture/portrait is pretty much like any other to me. I do enjoy landscapes and other realistic forms of art rather than abstract or post-modern. None of this cans of tomato soup garbage.... ;)

Soup - When was the last time you got a free lunch (or breakfast or dinner)? Who paid for it?

My good friend Shea took me to lunch a couple weeks ago. He's the outgoing youth minister at our church and we were talking about what will be going on after his departure. I'm "retiring" for a while from teaching the senior high class after October.

Salad - On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how emotional are you?

I'm very emotional, but I don't let it show a lot - at least negative emotions. If I'm happy or excited, everybody knows it. But if I'm angry or depressed, I try to keep an even keel. It doesn't always work, especially the latter. So I guess about a 7 (since I'm more often positive than negative)

Main Course - Approximately how long do you spend each day responding to emails?

Since a lot of my work involves emails, I probably spend about an hour a day total.

Dessert - To what temperature do you usually set your home’s thermostat?

We're usually about a constant 71 in the summer, maybe a little warmer in the winter. Our house heats strangely - it can be toasty warm upstairs but chilly downstairs, so it's sometimes difficult to keep a consistent temp through the house.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Music in My Ears

Next week my wife and I will be winging down to Orlando (for free!) and spending a week park-hopping for our 15th Anniversary. We plan to spend two days at the Disney Parks, and also have a 7-day pass for the Universal parks so our days and evenings will be quite busy :)

Flying on the new Allegiant Air, they still seem to be getting some kinks out. A month or two ago we were notified second-hand (through an emailed updated itinerary) that our departing flight had been canceled and we'd been bumped to a later one that day. After some discussion we decided to actually book a flight out the night before.

Hey, an extra whole day! I'm not arguing with that...

Of course, what that meant is we needed to find someplace to stay that extra first night since our lodging reservations were already set in stone. So we chose to stay one night at one of the value Disney Resorts, the Pop Century (official site). For those unfamiliar with Disney resorts, this one is themed to each of the last 5 decades - in other words, there's a 50's section, a 60's section, a 70's, 80's and 90's. Each is festooned (there's really no better word) with various pop icons and other kitschy details. It's great :)

Anyway, I called this morning to make our reservation for the one night. I'm talking to the cast member in Reservations on the phone (her name was Norann - very nice lady) and she's taking down all my numbers and information, etc. We're about to finish the reservation when she needs to put me on hold for a minute. I said fine.

So I'm on hold. In my ear the song, "Out There" from Hunchback of Notre Dame is playing. This is one of my favorite Disney songs, so I'm singing along...

Out there, Where they all live unaware
What I'd give
What I'd dare
Just to live one day out there

Out there among the millers and the weavers and their wives
Through the roofs and gables I can see them
Ev'ry day they shout and scold and go about their lives
Heedless of the gift it is to be them
If I was in their skin
I'd treasure ev'ry instant

And I'm just singing along, having a great time. And I realize the music's stopped..

Norann says, "Hi - wow, you were just singing along weren't you?"

I'm a bit embarrassed, but hey, I have a nice voice - maybe it was an audition?

I tell her I really like that song and just got lost in the moment. She said she was glad I did, and it brought a smile to her face. I replied that I was happy to oblige ;)

We completed the reservation and that was that.

I wish now that I'd asked her if it got me a discount...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Brush With Greatness - An Evening with Jessica Alba and "Good Luck Chuck"

My ever-connected wife scored us two VIP passes to see the premiere of "Good Luck Chuck" Tuesday evening. The stars of the movie, Jessica Alba and Dane Cook were there at the Regal Pinnacle Theatres in Turkey Creek and we snapped a photo of Ms. "Sue Storm" Alba as she greeted her loyal fans:

The movie was actually pretty good. It was very predictable, as a typical Hollywood boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl, boy-shares-girl-with-stuffed-penguin movie always is. The laughs pretty much kept coming, although a couple of the jokes actually fell flat and you could feel the space kept in the dialogue where they expected the laughs to be.

There was quite a bit of n*dity in it (of the topless female variety) and also an extended scene where the hero is shown having sex with about 20 women, each in their own little video women (a la Brady Bunch). The sexual content in the movie is quite often vulgar, as the hero's sidekick is the most annoying character I've seen in a movie in quite a while. Think Sam Kinison and Wayne Knight's love-child. The sexual and typical (today) gross-out humor was there too, and as always not funny.

But the leads were very good - Jessica Alba has an unfortunately limiting girl-next-door-aw-shucks appeal to her, and Dane Cook is a talented comic actor. The two of them held the movie together through an engaging first half and slower, more broad second half.

See the movie if you like either of these two actors but don't go expecting a Shakespeare in Love.


Don't tell anyone, but Tish just followed up her BlogsWeLuv review of my site with lovely "Best Kept Secret" blog award. This award says, "We all have a Best Kept Secret blogger or two we visit regularly — a blogger with great style and wit and warmth who hasn’t been discovered yet.” This award gives a little recognition to those bloggers.

Thanks lots, Tish!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

I’m used to them on kids, ugly as they are – but on adults? .... Crocs for adults say “I can’t even manage Velcro"
James Lileks

So This Is How the Invasion Starts...

Mystery illness strikes after meteorite hits Peruvian village
Villagers in southern Peru were struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area, regional authorities said Monday.

Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a fireball that many were convinced was an airplane crashing near their remote village, located in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region, near the border with Bolivia.

Residents complained of headaches and vomiting brought on by a "strange odor," local health department official Jorge Lopez told Peruvian radio RPP.


"Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned," he said.
Didn't War of the World's pretty much begin this way? Only this time, they're giving the illness to us...

Time to head for the hills!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Arrr! I Be Takin' A Day Off 'er Work!

Cathy reminds us that Wednesday is...

International Talk like a Pirate Day!

Someone Please, Please Remind Me....

...why every year at our church picnic I insist on playing in the youth/adult 2-hand-touch football game, and every year I regret it the day after?

...why I refuse to take sick days when I have a bad cold and come to work instead? Even though I have a laptop and could work from home if I choose...

...why I love Tennessee football? Because I really can't remember today.

...of the time when we had to nice, loving kids who adored each other and one didn't say, "I HATE YOU - you're the WORLD's WORST BROTHER!!!" to the other?

...why we got a dog? stop eating so many blasted chips.

...of the times I got 100+ visits a day at the Inn.

Must've Missed Something

Weren't we in the middle of a heat wave?

Almost as Good as an Emmy. Okay, since The Sopranos Won It's Even Better!

Tish, co-webmaster of blog review site BlogsWeLuv has reviewed The Inn of the Last Home:

...Inn of the Last Home has a permanent spot in my RSS feed reader. The content varies greatly from day to day. There are posts that make me laugh, posts that make me cry, and posts that inspire me.
Wow, Tish, thanks so much for the high praise!

Those folks visiting from BlogsWeLuv - welcome! Leave a comment and let me know you stopped by.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Big Shot

Last night at the baseball game, Brainyboy not only got two nice hits - a single that was dropped by the left fielder and a clean double to right-center - he made an unassisted double play in the field at third base...

It was the first inning, our pitcher was having troubles and several kids from the other team had walked and subsequently scored. I believe we were down 4-0 already in the top of the first. At this point of the game, there was man on third taking a lead toward home. The first player to actually hit for their team smacked a line drive toward third base, Brainyboy reached out and snagged it, then alertly ran over and stepped on the bag before the runner could get back. Double play!

I love that kid ;)

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Sixty

Appetizer - When was the last time you visited a hospital?

Just a couple weeks ago, when I had an upper GI scope to determine what's causing some discomfort in my abdomen. The results were negative, although they did find a spoon...

Soup - On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how ambitious are you?

I'm not ambitious in the sense that the object of my existance, personally or professionally, is to get ahead and be the most important person in my field. But I do have a certain ambition to do things that stretch me intellectually and creatively, and that bring me great happiness. So far I've really done neither.

Salad - Make a sentence using the letters of a body part. (Example: (mouth) My other ukelele tings healthily.)

Boy, really amazing ideas never seem to enter me!"

Main Course - If you were to start a club, what would the subject matter be, and what would you name it?

Well, since my wife would probably frown on my starting a local branch of the He-Man Woman Hater's Club. I guess I'd start a club on Disney Park Lovers of Knoxville. Boy that sounds geeky.

Dessert - What color is the carpet/flooring in your home?

I don't know...beige or something. Actually, it is ;) I vacuum it often enough, I should know. We have a cool rug in the middle of the living room, too.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Man, there is seriously nothing going on out there that is worth blogging about.

  • Atomic Horns in concert
    October 6, 2007
    Eagles Lodge
    Oak Ridge, TN
    8pm-12 midnight

    Come out all bloggers!!

  • I could blog about Knox County politics and the Sunshine Law lawsuit, but truly, other than these guys - who understands it? I can't get through one of their posts without sitting back and going, "huh??"

    Part of the reason is that the crux of the blog coverage thus far has been pre-trial, and thus mainly commentary on the integrity of the Sentinel's coverage. Since there's no factual information to report on yet, it's just random griping. And of course, the partisanship and bias is showing through already. Which means, of course, we still won't get an unbiased look at the trial. The bias and preconceived ideas regarding each side of the aisle is going to make this difficult to understand.

  • 9/11 for my family means my newly married brother's 36th birthday. Happy Birthday, bro!

  • When you've spent 6 months trying to get to the heart of an annoying, chronic and particularly vexing non-serious medical problem and it finally ends with a big *shrug* from the doc, and you're back at square one - particularly when you waited 1-1/2 hours in the doctor's office for a 5-minute consult - one can be tempted to lose one's cool. Not that I would, of course. I'm way too even-tempered for that..........................

  • Two more weeks + 2 days till a week park-hopping in Orlando with my wife for our 15th anniversary!

  • Have you ever seen a more scarily useless group of people running for president?

  • It's nice to be in demand for Music Directing jobs, but I've pledge to take the rest of the year off from theatre unless a plum directing job opens up. I've already had about 3 requests to be MD, and had to turn them down (one of them twice!). Guess it's a case of careful what you wish for...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering Rebecca Lee Koberie

Last year I participated in the 2966 Project, an internet commitment to pick a victim of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, learn about their life and post a tribute to them. On today, the 6th anniversary of the attack, I want to repost what I wrote that day about Rebecca Lee Koborie.

"A Requiem for Rebecca" - Sept 11

Today is September 11.

Rebecca Lee KoborieI've struggled deciding what to post about Rebecca Lee Koborie on the actual day. I've spent the last several days posting tidbits, remembrances, tributes and anecdotes of her life that have been left in various places online.

One thing that comes up time and time again was Rebecca's obvious love of music and performing. That's something that easily and quickly resonated with me as I have been in love with music my whole life. I continue to be involved a great deal in many different musical expressions, including church music, a band, musical theatre, even just singing with my kids in the car. This evening I discussed with some friends that sometimes I feel I love music so much that I lose sight of God in the notes and words and rhythms. They correctly pointed out to me that in many cases, God is the notes and words and rhythms. His voice reverberates in the songs of a choir, the sound of a marching band, an orchestra, a string quartet, a cabaret band, a soloist, a duet, a pianist, a cellist, a drummer, a harpist. Sometimes most eloquently in the sweet, pure voice of a child singing "Jesus Loves Me."

In Les Miserable the final line of the show is "To love another person is to see the face of God"...I've always firmly believed that to hear music is to hear the voice of God.

Therefore I quickly discovered the fact that Rebecca was randomly assigned to me not by chance, but by some sort of design. Her deep involvement with music allowed her to be one of those lucky folks that convey the voice of God to her brothers and sisters in music.

On September 11, 2001 that particular instrument was stilled.

I never met her, never heard her sing. According to one person she was a mezzo-soprano, which to me is one of the loveliest tones a female vocalist can possess. I also never heard her play the piano, which unlike any other instrument can invoke emotional reactions that audiences never realized they had. I will never hear her play, either.

I thought for a while that this final post would be a rumination on the loss of a musical artist to the world, how her voice would never again inspire, create, emote, or cherish. I thought I could best pay tribute to her by remembering her song.

But then I thought some more, and a deeper meaning came to me.

If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
I Corinthians 13:1

What Paul meant was that one can sing, one can play an instrument, one can create beautiful music - but if there is no love in your heart, the music is hollow and empty.

I have no idea if Rebecca was religious, but I feel certain she would've agreed with this passage. And I feel strongly that while it's a tragedy a great musical talent was lost five years ago, something more important was lost. And the comments on the tribute sites, while almost always mentioning music, consistently mentioned something else. She was a good friend.

She was also a daughter. And a sister. And an aunt.

All the people I've read who offered stories of Rebecca remember her for her kindness, her friendship, her love. If she didn't have these traits, and if these traits didn't come through in her music, few people would've remembered her. She cared about her friends and her family as much or more than she cared about music. The music was simply a way to express her love of life and those around her.

God's voice spoke through her, and used the music to help her express her love and caring.

So while the world lost a wonderful musician that I will never hear, more importantly the world lost what might've one day been a good friend. She lived in New Jersey and worked in New York so it's doubtful we would have ever met, but now that chance is gone forever. And along with the many, many people's whose lives she touched and continues to touch to this day, there are hundreds and maybe thousands of people she will never touch because her life was taken from her too soon.

I miss her. And I never met her. But I'll think about her from time to time when I hear a piano.

I titled this post "Requiem for Rebecca". But it's not a dirge, not a song of sadness. It's not largo or grave. This requiem is full of joy, it's andante, allegro, or cantabile because the lives she touched will always remember her and rejoice because of it. Even if they never knew her.

If you knew Rebecca, or had some connection and would like to contact me with personal stories or anecdotes, please email me at I'd especially love to hear from family members and friends who can tell me more about her musical interests and history with music.

2996 Project

Rebecca, I never met you and I miss you.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blogger Block

What to write?

I'd love to dive into the issues of the day but I don't have time to do a lot of research on linking, justification, fact-finding, all that. So here are just a few salient points and opinions that float about my head. If something doesn't make sense, just ask and I'll try to clarify.

Please, feel free to comment or discuss anything that strikes your fancy. I want to talk :)

  • Gauntlet, Gauntlet II and Gauntlet Legends may just be the best trio of arcade video games ever created. And the trio were designed over a span of about 15 years. Discuss.

  • I apologize if this offends anyone, but the idea of pulling our troops out of Iraq is ludicrous. The chaos that would result is unacceptable, and would result in a much larger net problem than staying and trying to fix the problem.

  • In a related vein, there's no way to accurately get an idea whether the "surge" is working or not, because almost each and every report you see is biased one way or another. And the idea a US Senator (Biden) purports to know more than the General in charge is asinine.

  • Ok, enough about foreign policy. I wish I had enough free time to be able to watchblog about the News Sentinel's trial vs. Knox County goverment. Rich, do you guys find the time?

  • It's a happy, happy day when Michigan and Notre Dame are 0-2. I almost thought Miami was 0-2 as well after they got pasted by Oklahoma but they're 1-1, so I have nowhere to talk. It's also nice when Georgia gets beat. Tennessee looked better vs Southern Miss than most people give them credit for. I've picked them too many times vs Florida and been disappointed to pick them this time. But I'll be happy to be surprised. Florida 24-10.

  • Bob Kesling, radio announcer for UT Football, is simply terrible. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and is a knowledgeable sportscaster as well as competent basketball announcer, but he has no real skill to call a football game. He was good as a sideline reporter for Jefferson Sports on TV, but that's it. It's embarrassing. I had a whole huge post about this but decided not to post it, because I don't want to hurt somebody's feelings that I don't even know. And I don't want Smokey to visit my house in the dead of night...

  • Tink turns 8 in a couple weeks. Brainyboy's playing Little League baseball. Just catching everyone up.

  • My shoulder hurts, my wrists hurt, my back hurts, my side hurts, and sometimes my pride hurts. Did I miss anything?

  • Why do I not seem to be able to write like I used to on this site? I used to be able to do some nice, long posts about my life I was proud of. That hasn't happened in a while. I wonder why?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Fifty Eight

Appetizer - Using only one word, how does grocery shopping make you feel?


Soup - What is your favorite part about the season of Autumn?

I love the smell of leaves turning, the coming of football and the mindset that always comes about around a campus at the beginning of a school year. I like the slightly cooler days, crisp evenings and crystal blue skies.

Salad - Have you ever had any bad experiences online?

Thankfully I've never been cyberstalked that I know of, nor have I had my identity or credit card #'s stolen. I haven't made any enemies or gotten in the middle of any particularly vicious flame wars, so I suppose I've been pretty fortunate.

Main Course - Name three things that make you happy daily.

Putting my kids to bed, waking up a little early knowing I have about 15 minutes left to sleep, getting comments and email from friends - although it doesn't happen as often as I'd like (looking sternly around the blogosphere, eyes slightly narrowed)

Dessert - What one household cleansing or organizing item would you not want to be without?

The dustbuster picks up a multitude of sins. Usually around the litter box - the cats don't do a good job of wiping their widdle paws sometimes....

Blogging for Clarinets

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is sponsoring a blogger night at their Sept. 27th concert at the Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville.

Stephanie Burdette, Communications Director for the Symphony, has invited area bloggers to win free tickets by emailing her at by 2:00 on September 27 and pledging to blog about the event. Unfortunately we'll be leaving that day for our trip to Orlando, but if we get tickets I know plenty of folks who would love to have the opportunity to hear the Knoxville Symphony.

Hat tip to Frank Murphy (you can read more on his page as well)

Videos For Everyone

Here's an assortment of YouTube videos I've come across lately. Something for everyone!

Classic comedy bit, "Who's on First" by Abbott and Costello. If you've never actually seen it, or someone in your house hasn't seen it (like BrainyBoy), here's their chance.

Amazingly, I'd never heard of former Cub Rick Monday's patriotic save in a 1976 game between Chicago and the LA Dodgers. Tell me you don't get a shiver when he explains what the fans did after the excitement had died down...

Beautifully edited look at Star Trek in all it's (pre-"Enterprise") versions. The music is from the movie, "Nixon" but it's amazingly appropriate.

And here's another one:

This was made in honor of Trek's 40th Anniversary. This one's more linear, going from show to show to show and uses an actual Trek score, the beautiful "Inner Light" Suite from TNG.

The Potter Puppet Pals in "The Mysterious Ticking Noise". Has to be seen and heard to be believed.

A plane crashes behind the outfield wall at a minor league baseball game. I've never seen anything like it...

And finally:

Celtic Woman - Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring (live)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Many Faces of Tink

And you wonder why
I call her Tink?

These images courtesy of me finally figuring out how to download photos from my camera cell phone...

The Classics

Sometimes we have to be reminded of the greats of literature:

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night
by Snoopy

Part I

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out!
A door slammed. The maid screamed.
Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon!
While millions of people were starving, the king lived
in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was
growing up.

Part II

A light snow was falling, and the little girl with the
tattered shawl had not sold a violet all day.
At that very moment, a young intern at City Hospital was
making an important discovery. The mysterious patient in
Room 213 had finally awakened. She moaned softly.
Could it be that she was the sister of the boy in Kansas
who loved the girl with the tattered shawl who was the
daughter of the maid who had escaped from the pirates?

The intern frowned.
"Stampede!" the foreman shouted, and forty thousand head
of cattle thundered down on the tiny camp. The two men
rolled on the ground grappling beneath the murderous hooves.
A left and a right. A left. Another left and right. An
uppercut to the jaw. The fight was over. And so the ranch
was saved.
The young intern sat by himself in one corner of the
coffee shop. he had learned about medicine, but more
importantly, he had learned something about life.