Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bowling

Highlights from the Bowling Tournament yesterday..

Lindsay is getting ready to hurl the ball into the ceiling.

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Sara tried and tried but never made that hole in the lane she was trying for.

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Woo hoo! They each won a game. My score did not really “count”. I owe my best score in the last ten years to the bumpers, which I will now request every time even if only playing other adults.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to School

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No, I’m not talking about Thornton Melon. Today is the last day of summer vacation for the kids. Summer barely lasts two months here and it seems that there is quite a movement out there to squeeze it down even further. It seems to me that they are trying to fix the problem with quantity and not quality, but I guess I will leave it to the experts to hash this one out. It’s just a shame that we are becoming a society focused so much on work that there is little to no play and now we are applying that way of thinking to our children. We all know what all work and no play does.

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Last night was “Meet the Teacher” night and I realized how much I can’t stand sitting through a Powerpoint presentation. There were two key things that made me plot my escape the entire time:

  1. The Powerpoint was not in show mode so I could tell, via the scroll bar, how excruciatingly long the Powerpoint was going to be. I’d rather not know how long the torture will last. If you want the terrorists in Guantanamo Bay to talk, this is one way to make it happen.
  2. I was sitting in one of those very tiny chairs that are made for a nine year old. I’m built more like Santa Claus so I need one of those thrones like he sits on or I just can’t get comfortable.

The kids are finally starting to stir so that means it’s time to figure out something fun to do for their last day of freedom.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph

In the one journal that I saved from my high school and college years (some I lost, most I destroyed during my anti-nostalgia phase a few years back), there appears the following entry: ‘Sunday, July 29, 1990. 9:09PM. Stacey died today. It is impossible for me to write about how I feel.’

Twenty years later, I sit here staring at the screen trying to think of what to write and I realize that time hasn’t made the task of putting feelings into words any easier.  I have not forgotten Stacey over the years and I can’t help but think of her when I flip through an old yearbook or go to the occasional high school football game.

I have gotten older but she is still frozen in time in my mind. The last time I talked to her was on senior picture day just four days before she died. I think her picture was taken right before mine.  I’m sure I replayed our conversation repeatedly in my mind when it happened – I can’t recall any of it now. Even though I knew she had problems, I just thought that we were all going through similar teenage stuff. There was nothing that led me to think that Stacey was so close to making the choice that she did. Now there is The Jason Foundation and other resources available that we just didn’t have back then. I have wondered today who she might have turned out to be had the outcome been different.

Sometime around the end of 1988 or the start of 1989, Stacey gave me a tape of songs. I can’t recall now why she did it – maybe I copied some stuff off for her and she returned the favor. 

She ended the tape with this song:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Music Tuesday

I heard “Bluer Than Blue” recently and for a second thought it was a cover by Michael Bublé. It’s actually the original from 1978 by Michael Johnson. I had no idea there was a video for this.

There are quite a few vocal similarities at times between these guys. I expect Michael Bublé to see this entry and cover this song any day now.

Play this Michael Bublé video and make your direct comparison. Also enjoy seeing the most extravagant grocery store music video every made and try to help me figure out why I always think he is saying “one half’s timing and the other half’s sluck” at 1:19. I need to figure out what sluck is and where I can get some of it.

In other Tuesday news, I worked a bit late tonight but it was worth it since I am off until Monday! I can already feel the stomach knot loosening.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Senior Picture Day!

It’s time for a history lesson. Once upon a time, there was no such thing as a smartphone or iPOD or even a Palm Pilot. If you kept track of your schedule, you actually had to put pen to paper. Yes, life was much simpler once upon a time. I kept one tote of assorted school stuff in the attic all these years and in that tote are several of the little pocket size weekly planners where I kept my work schedule and other things I tried to keep track of. I was terrible about forgetting dates and times for things. (This is probably why I still have a bunch of to do’s and reminders in my Outlook calendar today.)

Thanks to this little archive I know that twenty years ago today at about 1PM I was up at the high school getting my formal senior pictures taken for the yearbook.

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Yes, that is me – the July 26, 1990 version of me – still hanging in the den at my parents house. I must have had my serial killer looking glasses in my pocket. We didn’t have cell phones or stylish glasses back then. We pretty much all wore the same ones that Mark Chapman wore when he shot Lennon and that everyone wore in Revenge of the Nerds.

I wish I had all of that hair back. 

That completes our trip down amnesia lane. One more day of work tomorrow and then I am off for the rest of the week! Yeah!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday

This is a weekend I am glad to put behind me. It has been a weekend of sheer emotional exhaustion. There has just been too much quiet time – time to ponder and replay what happened Friday night with Angel over and over again. I’m surprised at just how much the whole ordeal took out of me but I think being worried about my parents makes it much worse. Seeing how much of a hole it leaves for them has surprised me. I know they are getting older but this weekend has really opened my eyes to a lot of the changes that I guess have been quite subtle. They described the house to me today as being way too quiet. I think it will take a lot for them to adjust to Angel being gone because Angel really kept them active. I know I will be doing a lot of driving back and forth to check on them in the coming weeks.

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For us, having the kids back now keeps us so busy that it is hard to stay in a funk and we did have one good surprise for the kids when they got home – we traded in my 2003 Pontiac and drove home in a much more roomy 2008 Escape. We preserved the one car payment budget and we got a pretty nice vehicle out of the deal. I only hope that the gas won’t eat us alive. It’s not quite as economical as I would like but I do like the idea of them being in something that is a bit bigger than the paid off Saturn that I inherited out of the deal. I now plan to drive the Saturn until the wheels fall off.

Finally, it’s also incredibly hot here. The near 100 degree temps are wearing us out. And, I saw Halloween items for sale at the Cracker Barrel tonight three months early. I guess it is nice to think about the cooler weather that will hopefully be here in three months!

So, that’s it from here. We keep on moving forward. We’ll see where tomorrow finds us.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Angel the Dog (1996-2010)

We got Angel, our Yorkshire Terrier, as a puppy in Cincinnati in 1996. She was the first “kid” in our marriage and taught us a lot about not being selfish. Once you bring in a puppy, your life suddenly revolves around that animal. In a lot of ways, the pets own us a lot more than we own them!

In 2002, when we moved to a rental house where we could not have pets, she “temporarily” went to live with my parents while we looked for a house to buy here. Over the few months she was there, they became so attached to her that they pretty much begged us to let her stay with them. I was very reluctant to do so but I had the feeling that my mother needed Angel in her life. I think Angel’s presence during my mother’s ordeal with cancer helped get her through it. I worry about how losing her will impact both of my parents now while they each deal with health issues.

Angel would have turned 14 next month. She became ill suddenly this morning and spent part of the day at the vet. She seemed to be doing much better and went home this afternoon. About 7PM, I got the call that they were rushing her to the emergency vet. I did not want my parents to have to go through it alone so I made the 40 mile drive to the clinic but I did not get there before she passed. I was able to see her and hold her one last time. It’s strange to admit that a 7 pound Yorkshire terrier can reduce a 36 year old man to tears.

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I drove back to their house and gathered up the toys scattered all over and put them all back in her box (Yes, this is a dog that had her own toy box).  I also emptied her food and water bowl so they would not have to. It seemed almost unreal. The saddest part of losing Angel was having to watch my parents deal with the loss. Luckily, our kids are out of town and did not have to be a part of this. We now have a couple of days to get ready for that talk.

Our pets become part of our family. They give much more to us than we give to them and they don’t even realize it. Angel was a loving and good dog but much more than that, she was a great comforter. It is hard to drown in self pity during the bad times when you have a ball of fur beating you up with a toy – ready to play and ready to be as spoiled as possible.

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Pet lovers will understand this. Those who have not let a dog or a cat take over their lives might think I’m a tad silly. If we are to love a pet, we also have to be prepared to one day say goodbye. The goodbyes are very sad but what a pet does for a person is something I think is irreplaceable.

I also think I’m going to have to let our dog, Alex, hog the covers a bit more than usual tonight.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Music Flashback: Bread

I have long been a big Simon & Garfunkel fan but only in the last few years did I really develop an appreciation for Bread after hearing them pretty often on XM’s “70’s on 7”. My favorite song by Bread is “It Don’t Matter to Me” which you cannot find a video or decent embedded player for. If you hit this link, it pops up in Google and you can choose to play it from iLike.

In other news, it is HOT. If you stand outside in the sun for about 10 minutes you’ll know what it feels like to be microwave popcorn. I’m glad this week is about over and I do look forward to the weekend even though I know it will go by way too fast.

Enough bemoaning the short weekend and complaining about the heat. Let’s go back to the 70’s for a bit with this sampling from Bread:

David Gates wrote this song as a tribute to his late father. It was released in 1972.

Bread only had one number one in the US and this was it. “Make It with You” hit number 1 in August of 1970.

“The Guitar Man” is from 1972. This is as close to rock as Bread got. I would think it is the best known Bread song but I also thought that new Coke tasted pretty good. This proves I don’t know a lot.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer days

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That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.

-   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday

I am listening to it absolutely pour down and it seems we’re getting a little hail in there with it also at times. The weather service adjusted the forecast quite quickly from 20% chance of rain at 5PM to a 60% chance of storms now. The good news is that I took a chance once I saw all of the dark clouds moving in and I decided not to water the new Charlie Brown tree and the puny shrubs I bought for $1.80 a piece.

I haven’t had anything particularly interesting or inspiring about all weekend so I’ve mainly just posted a picture here and there. The weekend flew by as they all do. I ended up at Walgreens picking up a prescription around 9PM Friday night and I realized that trips to get medicine or make a Walmart run are really the only reasons I go out after 7PM at night. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been out of the house past 9PM in the last six months. Even right now I can’t help but keep glancing up at the clock (9:20 PM) and thinking about how soon the 5:30AM alarm will be going off.

Work was so frustrating today – one problem after another and so many different things happening that it was hard to keep up with it all. Then, poof – things started coming back together again and the day ended in silence. I guess problems are like yawning – they are contagious.

I’m hoping for an uneventful day tomorrow. I’m looking forward to my 5 day weekend next week. I need some time away from the Blackberry and Outlook before I suffer an information overload.

The rain has stopped and the clock is edging up on 9:30. That means it is time for sleep -at least until the dog wakes me up to go outside in about 3 hours.

Weather Service Practical Jokes

“O.K. Who put the temperature sensor in the freezer? You keep doing this crap and Obama is going to cut our funding again!”

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Music Flashback: 1988

Are we supposed to be nostalgic for the music we listened to back in high school? A local radio station here has a weekly Saturday morning show where music from a chosen year is played for four hours each week. I could barely sit through 1988 this morning. I knew we were in a drought for decent music back then but I sure didn’t remember it being as bad as it was. In order to push all of the terrible songs I heard out of my brain this morning, here are a few videos of some of my favorite songs from 1988.

If you love Australian bands and mullets, you’ll be in heaven watching this. It’s also the only time I’ve even seen someone hold a sax upside down on their shoulder (2:35). I would expect spit to be leaking out all over. Not cool.

There is no video on this one – just music. It’s Bruce Hornsby and The Range. Just close your eyes and visualize a mullet.

I’ve always liked the ‘driving in autumn’ part of this video. I always think of that when I hear this song.

The original video for Orange Crush is so odd that I am posting a 2005 live version in its place.

This is a live performance from The Cure on MTV in 1989. The Cure is one of the bands from this time period that I still really like. I don’t think I appreciated how good they were at the time.

If there is ever a bio-pic about The Cure, I think Robert Pattinson would be a perfect Robert Smith.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

HOT!

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You wouldn’t think 82 degrees would be that hot but with a dew point right now of 74 degrees, it feels like an oven outside. I stepped out and was surprised that it is just about hard to breathe out there. Maybe this is all of the dew evaporating or maybe I am just getting old and worn out. I wish I was still in the same shape I was in when I handled 7 years of band camps!

I have the feeling that a lot of people are going to end up looking like the Wicked Witch by the end of today.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday

Wednesday brought news that saddens all of us crazy enough to be Vanderbilt University Football fans. Coach Bobby Johnson – the coach that brought the only winning season Vandy has had since 1982 – the coach that led Vanderbilt to victory in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee – is retiring. When you are a Vandy fan, you obviously love the underdog and every win is like a bowl game win. To say Vandy has had a drought would be an incredible understatement. Vandy is just a tad mismatched in the Southeastern Conference but I guess they are there to stay. It won’t be the same without Coach Johnson but we’ll grit our teeth and keep our fingers crossed this season just like we always do.

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Yesterday I finally got enough time to plant my latest “Charlie Brown special” from Walmart. At the end of the planting season, all the trees and shrubs go on clearance.

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Yes, I expect Snoopy to bring the gang over and start decorating it with ornaments and tinsel at any moment.

I keep reminding myself that just last year these two looked exactly the same way:

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These were also $9 specials. It’s taken a lot of work and a lot of watering and they appear to be thriving now.

The storm a couple of nights ago gave us right at three inches of rain. This was enough to almost collapse the teetering pool so I also had to drain it completely and shore it up. It is now refilled and on level ground. It looks great and I think we’ll get a few good weeks out of it between rain storms before fall starts making an appearance.

So, between work and my nightly chore list, things have been pretty hectic around here. I would say I am looking forward to the weekend but I am not sure how many birthday parties I have to drive the kids to. Also, I’m afraid to ask.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday

It was hard getting up and going back to work this morning. I drove to Cookeville and set up a printer. It was refreshing to break out of the typical day of support calls and conference calls and emails.

I would share interesting stories from this weekend but it was nothing more than a blur of Walmart, Birthday parties, and yawning.

I watched Fidel Castro live on CNN sitting behind a very tiny desk. I guess Cuban desks are smaller than American desks?

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Fidel Castro is single-handedly bringing back the track suit. I hear it is the hip new style of senior citizen dictators around the globe.

And now the rain is on the way back in for the night. Yes, we need the rain. Blah, blah, blah. It would just be nice to not get it all at once every time.

That’s all for tonight. Yawn.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Good movie: Despicable Me (and random Friday thoughts)

I made it to the last matinee of Despicable Me tonight with the fam and it was enough to make a grouchy and busy day at work vanish into thin air. It was just that good.

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No wonder Steve Carell is leaving The Office. He’s got it made at the movies if he keeps up the good projects like this. The kids loved it and there is plenty of funny stuff for the old people like myself.

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One of the funniest parts of the movie are the Twinkie like Minions. I see spin off TV animated series in their futures. Hostess should have gone all in on this. They need little packaging on the Twinkies that looks like overalls. Listen to me Hostess – I could have made you millions!

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Now, for random Friday thoughts.

  • Mel Gibson – You are a total, class-A nut. Please go away. Lethal Weapon was a movie. It wasn’t supposed to be auto-biographical.
  • I actually deleted a blog entry for the first time this week. You’re not going senile. I deleted my entry singing the praises of Hot in Cleveland after quite the sub-standard showing this week. I’m no prude but they went completely in the gutter at times and it was all just cheap jokes. Blue humor can be funny if it is written well. It shouldn’t be used out of laziness. They’re going to have to clean it up and stop being so lazy. The talent on there deserves better. It will be interesting to see if CTV runs that one in prime time next week. I’d be amazed if they can without cutting it to pieces.
  • Two birthday parties tomorrow – this is the life of a parental unit. If the kids were socially awkward like I was growing up, I would be saving a lot of money. I guess they weren’t lying when they said that popularity came with a price.
  • Stupidity also comes with a price, but enough about Lindsay Lohan. I still feel like she had no one in her life that was protecting her and that’s why she has turned into a mess as an adult. Still, writing tiny obscenities on your fingernails is so 1992. Geez. She should end up in the slammer based on that alone.
  • Finally, our Friday music flashback - “Don’t Change” by INXS. It still seems weird to me that this came out in 1982. It was played at the end of Adventureland, which I finally saw this week. The movie was OK – it had some funny parts. It was set in 1987. I guess it might seem retro to someone who wasn’t around in 1987 but to me it was just slightly off. For Kristin Stewart to not have all curled up Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally hair was so unrealistic. Or, maybe that’s what made her the rebel? I don’t know. I’m still wearing the same sort of crap I wore back then and my hair is basically the same except that there is less of it.

This song reminds you of how good Michael Hutchence was. What a weird shame.

Oh, Dunkin Donuts! You’ve ruined my life!!

There goes my motivation to get out of bed for the next week.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Role Model

I turned Lindsay Lohan’s latest step in her rapid descent into a teaching moment for the kids tonight.

They know her mainly from The Parent Trap.

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Now, after watching her reaction in court today, they also see her as an example of what can happen when you get into drugs. I hope that parents around the country are pointing out this example for their children because she is a role model – like it or not. It’s just that some role models are in a role you don’t want to find yourself in.

But, even as we discussed this with the kids at the dinner table, it is still not totally fair. As much as some want to wag their fingers and not feel sorry for the rich girl, she certainly didn’t get where she is today (or where she will end up in two weeks) by herself.

By having parents that appear to be almost complete nutjobs (especially her attention addicted father), she grew up unprotected from all of the pressures of fame and money. And, she was forced to be the main breadwinner for her family since she was 12 years old. She’s been followed around for years by paparazzi that seem to be immune to the law and she is probably one of the most photographed and harassed people on Earth. Imagine trying to just go to McDonalds with 100 people following you. Now, do that 24 hours a day for 6 years and think about how it must feel.

Consider all of the money she has made all of these “media outlets” like TMZ and the tabloids (and not to mention the mainstream networks who gladly jump on the bandwagon to cash in every chance they get). These people want her to be a walking mess because that’s what sells magazines and drives up internet traffic. TMZ wasn’t running a live stream from the courtroom out of concern for Lindsay Lohan or to educate America on the perils of drugs. They do it because they are making money off of the fact that America has a sick desire to watch people flame out.

Plenty of people have cracked under less pressure and plenty of people have succumbed to addictions with less access to drugs. Why should we expect her to rise above it and save herself when she is surrounded by enablers? Today, this judge took a step to save a life. Only time will tell if that is successful.

For my kids, I think watching what happened to Lindsay Lohan today was more powerful for them than anything I could say on the subject. For us, as parents, we’ll continue to work to be the parents to our kids that she was not fortunate enough to have.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Holi-daze

This was as close as I got to the beach this long holiday weekend-

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It’s odd how much my Nintendo character looks like me. I also discovered that some crazy programmer at Nintendo has quite the sense of humor.

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It was a very busy 4 days around here. In order to get through it, I had a bit of help from my friends Aleve and Cool Whip.

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Aside from being tired to the point of falling asleep during the fireworks last night, there is plenty to be happy about. We shot off some fireworks Saturday night and we all still have all of our fingers. The pool that looked like it wanted to collapse all weekend is somehow still standing. The grass hasn’t grown because it has not rained so I have nothing I have to mow.

Tomorrow – back to work.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The return of the pool

Every year I say that I am not going to mess with another one of those do-it-yourself pools. And, every year I feel guilty that the kids are burning up and don’t have an oversized bowl of water to jump in so I end up putting up one of those do-it-yourself pools.

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I got two years out of the last one but it was time to move on. This one is a bit smaller but it will do.

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Inflating that ring is a workout. It says ‘easy set’ on the box but my aching back disagrees.

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Time to figure out what chemicals I have and see how long I can keep this thing from turning into a swamp. Also, it is slightly tilted due to the huge slope in the backyard. We’ll keep it up until the yard slope wins and it starts to fall over. Then we’ll drain it, move it, and try it again.

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Of course, now that I have put up a pool, there will most likely be an unseasonal cold spell just like last summer.

At least the pain of keeping the pool maintained always makes me start looking forward to autumn.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canada Day

I kept up our now many years tradition of having a Canada Day mini-celebration at the house tonight. The weather was perfect.

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The decorations went up.

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There was plenty of pizza and we put the BAD back into badminton.

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A good time was had by all. We’ll do it again in three days and we’ll blow up some stuff (hopefully not ourselves).

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I look more and more like Santa Claus every year.