Kenny Smith | blog

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Myers-Briggs, for some reason, was all the rage of the weekend's conversation. I haven't taken one of those personality tests. There was a great deal of curiosity about whether my score would change. Of course it will, these things are specious at best. The answer will obviously be different because all I remember from the last run at this test was that I was an E-something.

There was some thought of whether I'd be an introvert or an extrovert, but we all know how that's going to turn out. Besides, if there is such a thing as testing well, I'll test through the roof here as the yes/no format allows you to portray only your ideal best self.

For example ...

I'm ENFJ, which sounds about right. The teacher idealist Keirsey calls it. The best part is the comparative lists. You're most like this person. Or how we suspect this person would be. Or how we imagine this fictional character would score.

Wings' Joe Hackett. A little stuffy, a little neurotic and obsessive-compulsive, but I'll buy that.

Hey, late in the series he had really good hair ... and he always had a way with the ladies: "One minute we were smackin' each other with meat, then it got weird."

I watched X-Men this afternoon:
Whoa. More visual than storyline, naturally. Provocative heroes. Better than the sequel.
Some movies can't wait until the dollar theater. The comic book guys around the office would have no doubt ruined this by the time it came out. Oh, and stay until the end of the credits and prepare to be underwhelmed by the extra.

It's housework time. Laundry, unpacking.

Moving things from Pile A to Pile "Hey, THAT'S where that went!" It is a full and deliberative afternoon. And by full I mean in that way in which the afternoon is lapped by the night time and no one is really sure how that happened, or why. An afternoon that will be remembered solely for the observation that, Ya know, it is a good thing you mowed the lawn last week.

I got nothing.

Fun links: Someone's thinking ahead, tomorrow's tomorrow's New York today. I'm looking for the flying cars because, I think we've all learned by now, flying cars equal fiction. Oh, sure, we always wanted to believe, but there's a harsh truth here: the asphalt syndicate will never let it happen. They have too much to lose. Or, why you shouldn't believe everything you hear. Even in that article. Or in the Da Vinci Code. But, definitely in this tangentially related story.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Travel day, heading home. Despite the axiom that Romeo Void and James Bond both taught us about never saying never, this could be the last I see of State College. I don't generally think of things in these terms and I don't know why I do know. I'll blame the long layover on why I'm doing so now.

We had lunch at The Corner which is one of those charming local things you must do before you can say you've been to a given town. We actually sat in The Corner, the one where Smoking Joe Frazier once dined, where a picture of local fly fisherman is displayed. The menu, complete with little factoids about when the town got the first phone line, is on sale for a dollar. Way back then phone calls were a quarter. Good thing no one else had a phone either, that would have been expensive.

I met Brooke and Stephen's friends Heather and Rise, both very nice ladies. They are from Michigan and Texas, respectively, and hopefully they'll visit Brooke and Stephen and we can laugh about carefree lunches in the corner booth over carefree lunches in a new corner booth. It'd have a nice symmetrical ring to it.

I copied Rise's lunch idea and then she split a milkshake with me. Ordered with a complete stranger in about eight seconds. Can't do that with people I've known all my life.

Took a quick pic of Old Main, which I later learned has a history dating back to 1863, before being razed and rebuilt in 1929-1930. Not quite as impressive as Auburn's Samford Hall, aesthetically or historically, but how could it be?

They may have AU on the art, though. Look at those frescoes. Wish I'd walked inside.

Then I fly. Or I don't. It really is an issue of whimsy at this point. US Air, the airline that, twice this trip, had late crew.

In Philly, on the way into State College, the co-pilot strolled -- literally strolled -- in as the plane should have been leaving. Wish the passengers could get such a deal.

On the way back into Philly from State College that jet's air conditioner was broke. The stewardess offers cups of water. That's all. Don't trouble yourself, hon. It wasn't because it was a short (and, naturally, delayed) flight. On the way to State College from Philly we got a drink and a pretzel.

The delays at State College didn't hurt because of a huge layover. And more delays in Philly. After a nap, the original start time of 5:05 is pushed back to 5:20. I'm looking out a window and watching the sun and the clouds and my life drift by in every literal and figurative sense. At 5:20 that crew ambled in, blaming the air traffic controllers for swamped conditions that kept them from making this plane. Rank amateurs, those air traffic controllers! Set them all adrift! Or make them fly with U.S. Airways.

As I walk onto the plane the co-pilot looks up, says to the flight attendant "Oh. They're here earlier than we expected."

Earlier than you expected, yet late at the same time. What a conundrum. What a paradoxical schism.

This must clearly be the cause of all of the happiness that was to follow.

Push off at 5:35, just 30 minutes late, with the promise of being just a few minutes late to land. Then we're told it'll be five minutes before take off. And then the copilot comes on and says, "Uh, folks we told you five minutes because we were told five minutes."

At 6:10, 65 minutes from the scheduled flight, we're wheels off. The stewardess comes down offering drinks. She opened a can right over me, so I'm misted, which isn't a big deal at all, but the whole "Its only apple juice" thing does not sit well. Everyone else gets cans. I got a cup.

All this and half a can of apple juice! Awesome. She only hears me muttering, and then thinks to offer me the whole can. Don't trouble yourself.

When the trash bag came by I found myself hoping it dripped on her shoe only to then somehow, miraculously, bounce up and landed in the pilot's hat. You have to work really hard to make me wish the laws of physics would be broken for my own personal merriment. That's where this flight had taken me. It was not a pretty picture. There were many sighs and eyeballs dizzy from all the rolling.

And it was about here that I stopped blaming the Philly air controllers because the promised hour and a half flight turned into almost two hours. (I wonder now if we were lost.) This crew had turned into everyone's favorite self-absorbed and childish teen, the one never at fault for anything. My faith in them had deteriorated to the point that I didn't want to trust that crew when they'd said we'd landed. That bump was surely just a hard cloud. And all the Philly air controller's fault, no doubt.

When I got off the plane the stewardess meekly offered an apology, but I'd evolved to the "If you can't say anything nice, don't obliterate someone that might get you arrested by a federal marshal" rule that our parents always told us.

It is not surprising the airline went bankrupt. It is surprising that you people survived the reorganization. Oh, and, you smell nice, was the most polite thing I could thing to say anyway.

Besides, I'd written witty retorts to their language on the little cocktail napkins. ("Fly with us." Not a chance. "Want to explore ...?" Yes, I do. With someone who has the capacity to arrive at the scheduled time.) Left that in my seat, hope she read it.

You know, after the last bad U.S. Airways experience they sent me a voucher. Half of their maximum allotted voucher, I later learned, which prompted the question "Who has to die for you to get a $200 coupon?" Scabies just won't do the trick.

Vouchers, by their nature, seem an inherently odd business choice. You are operating on the faith that, as a provider of a service, my horrible experience was so emotional devastating to deserve a compensation, but not memorable enough to keep me from choosing your service again.

I bet, after this flight, I could get another voucher for $10 or $20. Why I'd ever trust any future plans to these people is beyond me. I'd say this is anecdotal evidence. Twice on two consecutive trips seems less of an outlier. That the airline has a nickname among air travelers is telling. Remember these and similar stories when booking your next flight. If avoiding U.S. Air requires you to drive to the state's second largest airport two hours away from your destination it may well be worth it. Useless Airlines, indeed.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Went caving today. And Amish hunting. We found no Amish in the caves. They were separate experiences. We also went searching for treasure, but we could not find that in the cave either.

The cave was Indian Caverns, reputedly Pennsylvania's largest limestone cave. Its not DeSoto or Blanchard Springs, but every cave has its own charming features for the imaginative. This one is privately owned, making it even better. The gift shop needs updating. There are things on the shelves that should be cluttering boxes in grandparents' attics. Knick knacks they bought while touring the country in the sticky old jalopy. The best being a bald man's brush. Stained and laminated pine handle, no actual brush. Because it belongs to a bald man. He wouldn't need it you see. Oh ho. We best get inside the cave.

There was also a post card for the place with a U.S. flag flying 48 stars. Before Hawai'i and Alaska. Pre-1959.

Why I didn't buy one (or all) I don't know.

Saw one bat, a dinosaur and an Indian display. There is a musical rock. You hit it and it gives you a tone. No one knows why. The theory is it is hollow, no one wants to find out. There has to be a way, but, again, this is a private cave and probably can't call on the USGS at every turn. They could core a bit of the hidden part, but no one has had that idea yet. All else fails they could core it, string it and call it the world's original rock guitar.

Indians lived in these caves, as you might expect by the name. Mohawk and Algonquian by the looks of things. When the Wertz family bought it and prepared to open it workers found remains and hundreds of artifacts.

Cavern photography seems overly difficult for me. I should practice more.

Once upon a time we did a bit where the good-natured Amish were the butt of unnecessary jokes. It became a joke within a joke. "What are they going to do, hear us on the radio?" I won't make that joke here, because they very well could find me on the internet. No one needs that sort of confrontation in life.

"Thou hast angered me with your bufoonery!"

I'm fairly witty (in person, if not here), but I have no idea how I'd reply to that.

Anyway, we're out on a Sunday drive, and we figured the Amish would be too. We were right. Ran across four or five carriages. One of the courting variety (no top, so there's no question of the occupants' character). Saw one swerve, aim and run over roadkill. Young guy driving it. Can't be that different than your average American kid. Only he couldn't roll the windows up and avoid the righteous stink. We happened to have the windows down. Oy vey.

Visited a local dairy. The type place where they still send you home with bottles. There was a sign on the door, asking people to bring their empties back. I can imagine the neighbors getting there for ice cream on a hot spring day, seeing the sign and then scurrying back home.

Apparently dairy direct milk is a little more expensive than Publix. Probably fresher though. I did not ask if it was pastuerized. The kids working the counter were ... well, they worked in a dairy. And let's just say I'm developing a theory about the correlation of intelligence and proximity to lactose products in the young person's work place.

Perhaps it was for the best that I cleaned carpet in high school. I didn't get around occupational dairy until just before graduation -- Chuck E. Cheese's, where a kid can beat up the mascot! (me) -- so we can blame all my shortcomings on that.

Made it home just in time to see From Here to Eternity. I've seen this before, of course, but what the hey:
Lancaster. Clift. Reed. Sinatra. They don't fill a screen like that anymore.
Ernest Borgnine is in there too, but he'll always be Quinton McHale to me.

Visited friends after dinner. Brooke and Stephen's friends. I met them over Trivial Pursuit, in each my team just barely won and where Bill Clinton came up far too often as an answer. Sometimes knowing the release date of your version of the game is important. The game was called on account of darkness, but much fun was had by all. Except for those who lost.

(Sorry Brooke, if I have to take your beating in fantasy baseball just know, I'll gloat over a board game. Just wait until football. And don't forget who's the reigning basketball champ.)

Fun pics, wherein I share interesting photographs I couldn't be troubled to work into the context of the story above. First we ran across a round barn Stephen's theory: So the devil doesn't have a corner to hide in. That's pretty closer to the Shaker's belief, who built their barns round because "the devil can't catch you in the corners." Apparently the Shakers are a nimble lot, but their passivity keeps them from being dangerous when backed in a corner, hence the architectural difficulties.

Speaking of architecture: The 1866 Brockerhoff House Hotel. Railroad boom, after the war, created the need in Bellefonte. Refurbished Victorian in 1890, the building now houses offices and restaurants.

Best grocery store sign ever, Somewhere, Pennsylvania.

Yeah, he's going to law school. That's at Meyer's Dairy. Optical illusion, friends. He's not really sitting on their roof. He is enjoying their ice cream.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

I watched a TSA agent patiently exchange hand signals with a Chinese traveler about how to handle a laptop at the airport's metal detector. There should be brochures for this sort of thing. As it is, the whole thing went very well. The guy was perhaps the kindest TSA agent I've run across in a big airport since the agency started stuffing people in those swanky white shirts.

Waiting to board the plane we watched the president deliver commencement at West Point, where he spoke at great length on fighting terrorism. Underneath the flatscreen monitor was a guy watching Team America on his laptop. Here we have some of our nationa's finest young men and women, and the scruffy guy with the big curly hair watching a DVD on puppets, and on each screen the goal was the same. Somehow that seemed appropriate, may God bless America.

I sat next to a man who apparently didn't speak any English, but he was fluent in gesturing. It was a quiet flight.

Land in the abandonded step-child terminal of Philadelphia. I've never been outside of this city's airport, and all I have to show for it are bad pictures of the skyline (through two panes of airplane glass) a pic of the welcome signs and a bad experience at an airport T.G.I. Friday's, which I avoided today. The signs, by the way, are lovely. This terminal is quiet. Occasionally there's an announcement over the loudspeakers, but mostly people seem solemn and contemplative.

And then I see the size of the planes that service this terminal. You want me to fly on that? I do, on the second row even. (Felts like it had four.) If the propeller slips free and flies in this direction it'll take me off at the knees. The propeller stopped! In mid air! Not really. That's a shutterspeed of 1/4000th of a second. In the large, uncropped version of the photo you can read most of the words at the base of the blade.

I love this camera.

Brooke and Stephen pick me up at the State College airport. Right away they take me to the biggest tourist draw in town. Note which name earns priority there without regard to connotation.

They gave me the driving tour of Penn State. There was a JoePa sighting! Apparently the salty old coach still walks to work every day. We could probably hang around the athletic department until he ambled in, but the State College police probably why a different name for that sort of hobby, so perhaps it's best that we didn't do that.

The campus is currently overrun by high school students. It is the summer term, after all. The college kids are complaining, always makes me laugh. Just a year or two ago that was them. Or, for the old college kids, three to five years. How quickly the memory dims and is wiped clean on a college campus, where six years earns you the recollection of a townie, where 24 is absurdly old.

Once you get on the other side of that age barrier there's not a backpack in the world that you can swing over your shoulder to fit in again, even if you wanted to. Stephen's sister graduated from high school this week; she'll be at Auburn in the fall. Now we really feel ancient and no one is sure how this happened. Entropy holds mysteries for us, yet.

I'm still in my twenties, only the knowledge that everyone else is growing old faster than I am gets me through. I've got entropy figured out, she doesn't have anything on me.

Dinner and movies at the Drive-in. Not much in the way of a website, but a fine place to catch a movie. Sunday night they are doing an all-nighter, and if I didn't have other plans I'd be there, because that sounds like the best gimmick in movies.

This is a nice little place. Very communal and friendly. Kids are playing ball together. I'm sure I saw someone grilling out. Lots of lounging in chairs and chatter across the rows. The movies are good, and dirt cheap. Five dollars per person to get in, and tonight is a double feature. I bet no one has jumper cables.

First was Over the Hedge:
Not really a kids movie, but funny. Shatner is here, its perfect.
After a brief intermission, when the drive-in turns over the radio frequency (no tinny sound boxes here, this is strictly bring your own sound system) to oldies for a few minutes so the lines can queue up at the food bar.

The concession stand smells of burnt popcorn, they have reduced rates midway through the double feature to get rid of the leftovers. The food is good, and dirt cheap. That has to be the source of their income, and has that "just grubby enough to be good" feeling to it.

Up next is Mission Impossible III:
Philip Seymour Hoffman is terrific. Needs more Ving Rhames. Formulaic, stuff explodes.
And now it is getting late, and time for bed. My room has no air conditioning. This is not a problem; it is a nice night for crickets and warm breezes and there is a fan, I'll be perfectly fine. Separate from that I've picked the wrong time of the year to be here. It could well be that I'm in south Alabama. Except I concientiously avoided using "y'all" when trying to help someone look for jumper cables at the drive-in, couldn't have a language barrier interferring, but it didn't matter. There were no cables.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Atlanta again. Flying to Pennsylvania in the morning and driving over today is a better plan than driving over harried tomorrow morning. The company's nice, the road construction is down for the holiday and the early trip allows us the opportunity to explore another stop on The Dreamland Odyssey.

The Yankee joins us for another installment, she's been on lots of these now, it seems. Her poor arteries. We're at the Peachtree Crossings store. This may be the newest of the Dreamland restaurants, opening in March of last year. The building is very nice, giving off the vibe that these walls have never been shared by a previous tenant. They only know the sweet smell of barbeque. Makes sense, this whole area feels crisp and new.

The ribs here are good. They've got the formula down. The waiter didn't ask if he needed to explain the rib sandwich. A little overeager -- he has no other tables or this is his first job, he's that young -- except for when the tea glass is empty, then he's nowhere to be found. He's confused by the sizes of banana pudding, but he tries hard, and I applaud that in the young people.

Pardon me while I shuffle to take my metamucil.

Anyway. The place is decked out in the typical college gear. There are high school posters on the walls too. A local team is back-to-back state champions in one sport or another. My attention fell apart when the ribs showed up. I did, however, notice that there seems to be a large amount of Auburn propaganda on the walls. Maybe I'm just biased, or perhaps it is because of the large contingent of Auburn graduates here, the largest out of state group anywhere.

All of the Dreamland restaurants have old articles about the original mounted on the walls. Here I found a 1993 AJC article where the writer visited the Jerusalem Heights original and counted one man from Jacksonville, Fla., a couple from Canada, three people from Africa and four Air Force pilots from Robbins, GA who flew all over the region for barbeque. It told the story about how Mr. Bishop had to pay more than a $100,000 to thestate in back taxes.

Mr. Bishop talked about how his years of workign with cinderblocks ruined his knees, about how he prayed to find another way to make money. Finally he came upon the idea of a restaurant, which he built himself, block by block, over three years before opening his doors in 1958.

Mr. Bishop, in 1993, said it hadn't always been easy, that every day hadn't been Sunday. It brings to mind little girls and their fussy mothers trying to keep the sauce off their church clothes, grown men in fine suits wearing plastic bibs and little boys and their helpless white shirts. He was 35 years into his venture by then, and the ribs have been nothing but good for as long as anyone can remember. That story started with a local man who'd been eating there since the 1960s, a hundred pounds later, he was addicted.

Every day seems like a Sunday now, even at the franchises. Ever day seems like it should have sauce.

Which does not have moonshine in it. Mr. Bishop said.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Our interns are getting younger and younger.

One of the coworker's daughter came for a visit today. Cute as can be. Smiles all the time. Waits for the camera. Waits for it. Patiently. Not the first child I've seen do this, but I bet it is a condition just a generation or two old.

Previously parents and admirers had to be quick. Now the child sits there, twitch free, waiting for the camera to power up, you to focus, get the right composition and so on. That moment at the dry erase board could have lasted forever. That's the power of the digital age. This child will no nothing of life without it always been thrust into every moment of her life. Anything less will become a disappointment.

A fantastic evening at the homestead. Got the yard cut. Most of it. Very suburban, my neighbor was on his mower this afternoon as well. It was almost as if I shamed him into it. "Well Kenny's working in the yard, I can't be the only one to not do that this week."

That mower sounded awfully resigned when it started up. Even moreso than mine, which still must be jumped from the car. Almost didn't want to do that, but I finally convinced the mower that the running for 40 minutes option was much better than the alternative I had in mind if it decided to retire unannounced. Every good mower, after all, should go on a goodbye tour of the yard.

The day was getting too low and the sun was already getting ready for the long weekend by the time I got to the back yard. One big square there left to do, I'll catch it another day. I adjusted my car's headlights instead. Got the laundry finished. Didn't hang it all. Took a nap instead.

I needed that. Those two hours supplemented the last four days of four hour nights of sleep quite nicely, thank you. Of course, now, I won't be able to sleep tonight.

Fun links: Maybe there's just something wrong with one of my many body clocks. Whatever it is, lately I'm not getting enough sleep. Probably the sun's fault. I promise I did not seek out those stories based on my lack of snoozing.

Oh, here's our new intern settling in at her new desk.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Here's another one of those days that just quickly got away from me. Turned around and it is dark-thirty and I should be in bed.

Didn't cut the grass today -- it needs it, we held a competition at work and mine is the longest -- but did do a few things inside. I'll get the yard tomorrow. Sat in front of the computer for too long already today, so this will be unapologetically brief. You may celebrate now.

Taylor won, which is cool. I watched the last six minutes of Idol, which is plenty. The reaction shots are good, the two other brief segments I watched tonight were about two segments too much. Baseball was much better. Taylor's right, though, he's living the American dream. He's emotional, his family is excited and crying. David Hasselhoff is crying.

What? Oh yeah, Germans love David Hasselhoff, but Hasselhoff is SOUL PATROL.

Now we can all move on and buy the guy's records. Until then you can play Taylor PacMan.

Fun links then: Watch a barrel roll without missing a drop. Incredible pilot, incredible video. I bet time stretches in times like that. Or when you're in a fire.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Got the transfer software for the digital recorder working at work. Pardon me if I'm giddy. The external microphone quality is excellent. For some reason I'm only recording in mono there, but I can convert a conversation to stereo with three clicks in post production.

The built in microphone has a certain high end pitch. The recorder itself has some equalizers I'll play with, but even if it doesn't get any better the sound is great from such a small device. The whole thing is about the size of a hairbrush handle. The internal microphone is about as big as a pinhead. It records from across the room. We're going to have fun playing with this.

The Dreamland Odyssey is underway. Mentioned this over the weekend, but wanted to hold off until today. Let's face it: I need the content on Tuesdays.

The most recent Dreamland experience, and my silly need to build tasks and goals for myself, started this experiment. Fortunately for my arteries there aren't many Dreamland restaurants. Currently there are eight, over the years I've managed to dine at three (without the Odyssey in place).

Two of those I've been to many times. To start the Odyssey off we'll revisit the most recent experience at each one, beginning with the original Dreamland.

Tuscaloosa -- I'll admit it; I got lost last January. It was dark, hadn't been there in years. That part of Tuscaloosa has grown just a bit. The restaurant itself hasn't changed, and there's something comforting about that.

That day was notable for running across Conway Twitty's son, Michael. He was on his way to Hattiesburg to play to the local gentry at a country club. I was on my way to Tuscaloosa to meet with one of my advisors. She stood me up with a migraine so The Yankee and I (intent on meeting with one of our favorite professors and seeing some gymnastics) went to Dreamland instead. That night I wrote:
Years since I've been to the original. I'm spoiled by a franchise just a few miles from the office. This place, though, is still sticky from the last time I was here. They've added banana pudding though -- their only sides remain white bread and chips while their descendants have something approaching a full menu. The original's pudding is better than the rest of the stores.

Still too much Alabama propaganda for my tastes though. They're now letting people decorate paper plates and pin them to the wall. I know how it sounds, but in a tiny little room that's littered with the after-thoughts and dreams of a football team's fanbase it works.

Those ribs still work best, though. And they were perfect tonight. That guy had his mojo working over the coals. At Dreamland, there might not be an end to it.

I want some more right now just telling you about it.
I dubbed it a perfect Friday, "even if it did involve the Alabama campus."

Birmingham -- This was just a few weeks ago. My parents were in town for my graduation and Rick, the Texas refugee in Indiana, wanted Dreamland. Never one to disappoint, we loaded up the car. I wrote:
These aren't the best ribs I've ever had, but they are close. They put the barbeque equivalent of crack in the sauce, so you always go when someone mentions the place. If you don't know the joys of Dreamland you can order through their site to ship anywhere in the country. Fine stuff.

Anyway, we eat the ribs, Rick orders the smoked sausage as well. I'm pleasantly surprised here; it is delicious. Good seasonings, not overly or under cooked, but smoked just right. We had the banana pudding, naturally. We piled on, naturally. Heather, the waitress, who wore this shirt just right, apparently made everything tonight. She took pride in her work, which is all you can ask out of a barbeque vendor.

I'm sure they get tired of the food there, just like every other restaurant, but it occurs to me that the Dreamland staff is probably very popular with their friends.
The original Dreamland, now somewhere in its sixth decade of service, has a sense of history. It is carved into those walls, poured onto those tables. Everything about the place is authentic. The Birmingham store, open since 1993, has a sense of the contrived, distressed look. This store came along at a time when it was important that restaurants had a charm.

The owners didn't want to cultivate it organically, but propagated the process. There are clever license plates, a few neon signs, some t-shirts and autographed headshots on the walls. It has the time-tested advertisements in the always-sticky tabletops, but otherwise it feels like a newly minted halfway classy place trying to cater to the elite. The original, meanwhile, is a "Come as you are, and don't make Bear jokes" kind of place.

Given proximity, Birmingham wins in a head to head competition. Birmingham has an edge on sides and extra seating. Tuscaloosa wins hands down on charm and the banana pudding makes this comparison entirely unnecessary. If you want a franchise you can go to Birmingham; if you want something important, exit I-20/59 on McFarland Boulevard and turn left.

Roswell -- This was last Friday night. Got sat way in the back, remarked about that to no one in particular that this seat is way in the back. "Ya, I know, we're crazy busy tonight," says the hostess.

Walked right in. Sat right down. Found a parking space up front. I don't think Georgia in general understands the Dreamland business model. Further proof: the table isn't sticky, the whole place is altogether too clean.

Still further proof: when I ordered the rib sandwich, the waiter makes sure I, as an unwitting customer, am not expecting a McRib sandwich. I've never had this discussion in Tuscaloosa or Birmingham. Something else you won't encounter in those two places: menus. Their banana pudding, served in actual bowls rather than in styrofoam cups, is on par with Birmingham. The ribs also came on plates, and remain comparatively solid. They have some sides, but not the full slate on tap at Birmingham. They also don't have the sausage, which was something of a disappointment.

The rib sandwich, it should be said, is not a McRib. You get ribs, you get bread, but it isn't a sandwich. If you aren't at a table full of hungry folks the sandwich is a good bet. I believe mine had six or seven small and average ribs, just enough to make me full.

This whole restaurant, though, had a sterile feel. The waiter, a really nice guy, said the building had housed a different barbeque place prior to Dreamland moving in during 2000. Previously it had been a Western Sizzlin. Those are two things -- opening in the same place as previously closed stores and following a Western Sizzlin -- entrepreneurial restaurant owners would ordinarily avoid, but Dreamland seems a success here, though our definitions of "crazy busy" appear to differ.

One big problem: the decor trended to UGA, which is fine, but the rest of the SEC schools and Georgia Tech were all too prominently promoted. That sort of pandering should be left to lesser barbeque joints.

Ummm, the Golden Rule site has music. Don't click that.

Fun links: Brooke sent this, someone named their kid after a Star Trek character. But not just any character, the character. I wonder if this name will get him beat up a lot in his generation as it would have, say, a few decades ago. I bet he plays with Star Wars Mr. Potato Head one day.

Mom sent that one. She also shares eternal sunsets.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Does the afternoon ever get away from you? Am I the only one? Come home from work no surprise there, start tidying up a few loose ends and the next time you turn around its dark outside. Very Twilight Zone.

Or it could be that I received a new toy today. Last week I ordered a digital recorder. Stumbled upon a review, looked like it the gadget had what I wanted. Found it on Overstock and took it for a steal.

It is a 512MB flash memory, can be used for playback, an FM tuner, an open air microphone and has an external microphone jack. All of those features work, there's a little tweaking to be done to improve the open air mic's quality, but otherwise I have no complaints. OK, the menu is a little counterintuitive and the screen is prone to fingerprints, but now we're just picking nits. Struggled getting the transfer software to work at home, but I'll try it at work tomorrow and see how that goes. I'd play with it more here, but, as I said, the afternoon sped by.

The Bauer Hour! The exciting, two hour season finale. I'm exhausted from this guy's day, but excited about seeing the conclusion. I'm not sure if I expect it to be completely satisfying or if things just spin out of control once again.

Oh the jets won't make it to the submarine, rendering the surface to air missle to twart the submarine to surface missle option moot. Isn't life always like that? So Jack, with a great sigh and a weathered grimace, expects he'll be solving this problem too.

In the 24 universe we're spending billions upon billions of dollars federally and on the state level for security purposes and they never produce tangible results. Maybe President Logan should pull that money and reinject it into biotech work. We could clone an army of Jack Bauers and forever be safe. I'm willing to overlook the ethical squishiness if it means we won't have a $16 or $32 million dollar eyewitness circling the devastation in a fighter cockpit. I mention both prices because I forget if we're talking F-16s or F-18s. Doesn't matter, either way, the supersonic jets are super late.

So Jack finds a chief petty officer. An engineer. They cast him as a young guy, which is better than a crusty old salt. And then Jack asks him to kill a guard. Jack, weakened from lack of food, has done an awful lot of delegating. Turn off the A/C, hack into computers, knife the guy with the semi-automatic weapon ... he's not that assertive.

So the guard takes the fall, the American submariner shows his expertise of a Russian vessel and leads them to the control room. A fight ensues, the submarine is neutralized just in time for reinforcements to arrive. We never hear the jets, nice job teevee Navy.

I have no doubts that the real Navy could have handled this before the first commercial break. I have no doubts that a Russian vehicle of war would be somewhat more overtly guarded in an American port. A civilian port, no less.

Christopher Hitchens bought a bullet. But he's already died once today! Someone monitor the body for rigor! Possibly for an awfully long time, how many times has Jack come back from the dead?

Jack gets a car, meets up with Aaron -- now obviously vying for his own show, Stoic Guard Man -- and the president's chief of staff who is surprisingly easy to convince of the president's duplicity. The people on this show are the most powerfully persuasive speakers the world has ever known. These aren't easy conclusions to jump to, as we hear, there's some treason in the horse stable (where all good treason should start) but the man closest to the president goes right along with the first lady's ideas. She could be over- (or under-) medicated, but that doesn't slow this guy down. He doesn't even deliberate it during a commercial break, but rather quickly decides to spirit Aaron and the dead Secret Service agent's body off the grounds.

Jack meets up with them, uses a holocaust cloak from The Princess Bride to hitch a ride on Marine One -- that has to be harder than printing out a laserjet copy of a forged ID, right? While Jack is orchestrating this flimsy premise the first lady has to take one for the team.

It looks like she's going to throw up in her mouth just a bit at the thought of it, though. Can't blame her, but on the other hand: Wow that was quick. As Brian points out in a quick Email:
Charles had just called SS to delay the flight, and at exactly 5: 58.03, they kiss. The very first scene of the final hour, Charles is buttoning his shirt back up. Right at the dot of 6:00 am. So, "Presidential Authority" apparently doesn't mean as much as it used to.
How much of America just had the same thought?

He tasers two Secret Service agents with the CTU special weapon that not only neutralizes the central nervous system but renders them unconscious until their next convenient plot point. He confronts the president, orders the helicopter down and says nothing. He won't do it. He won't go as far as he has to go.

Jack will take the president to an abandoned printing press and sets up the mother of all webcasts. The president won't crack. He looks shaky, but this president, like all of those since Kennedy, realizes that his body language in this trying moment will be his most famous. The nonverbals have to be just so. The president holds out, now that he knows torture is off the board this is just a matter of time. Here's Jack's gun, the shaky gun. He won't do it. Here's the military, and Jack is in custody.

I neglected to mention Morris. Where it took me about 20 hours to like President Logan, I liked this guy in about 90 seconds. "Can you do it without talking?" Chloe, his ex-wife, asks. "Yes," Morris replies, "but that would be a waste of my charm." What the world needs now is more hulking Mr. Clean types who are computer geniuses when they aren't selling women's shoes in Hollywood. It's the only thing that there's just too little of.

The president, meanwhile, is now safe and at an airport prepared to discuss Palmer's death. The first lady causes a scene, the president does his Ike Turner impersonation, sans cake. There's a lot of dialogue here, in that stilted teevee way. They're either trying to catch the audience up on obvious plot points or there's about to be a turn for the worse.

The president makes his speech, meanwhile CTU is on the phone with the attorney general. He's skeptical at first, but willing to confront the president with a simple audio playback. Not throw cold water on the whole situation, but these things can be faked. The nation's top law enforcement officer, however, is quickly convinced. The federal marshals confront Logan, he has a moment of epiphany as he looks at his wife and chief of staff. That's a good moment, but not strong enough.

There's a rabid following among the Lost audience, which I have not been watching, about how they incorporate microwebsites pertaining to the storylines. A manuscript that one character is reading has become a best seller on manuscript. There's a lot of effort in extending that mystery beyond a weekly television program. Just a hint of that here would have been great. What if the first lady had walked up to the president at that moment and whispered something in his ear? We'd all be twisting in circles trying to figure out what that conversation was.

As it is, he simply gets in the car, weighed down by the knowledge that he let the still-unnamed Trilateral Commission Big Oil group down. Again.

And then Jack gets kidnapped. The show should have ended right here, leaving us with suspense about who did the dirty deed. It did not. I wish it had. In protest of the last 10 minutes of the show I'll let Brian wrap things up.
Jack's been kidnapped precisely at 6:49 am (and was I the only one, when Jack is told he has a phone call from Kim, recounted Jack's previous words "How can I be so stupid?"). At 6:57.15, Jack is shown in the cargo hold of the Shanghai (nice creative boat naming, folks). Took them 8 minutes to get from inside a warehouse in an industrial complex to the cargo hold of a ship, and oh yeah, (severly beat up) Jack in the meantime?
Tune in next January, when the Chinese feed Jack some fried rice, but that won't satisfy. He'll only be hungry again 45 minutes later.

Fun link:Made a new shirt. It swings.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I feel like this today, and that's OK too. That's what warm Sunday afternoons are for, I think.

Had a sandwich picnic as the sun beamed through the windows. Watched a little television. Enjoyed Mexican food for dinner. No mariachi, but there was a guy doing balloon tricks. Looked like he had three tricks up his sleeve. We should put him with Magic Balloon-dude Dale. Great enchiladas made up for it.

Visited a different ice cream shop. The girl that made my dessert was completely upset by the concept of ordering the small, but putting it in a medium-sized cup for spillage consideration. After seeing that I couldn't, in good conscience, ask my deliberate question to find out if she knew when the store closed.

On the upside they were hiring. You could walk in tomorrow and be running the southeast region by the end of the fiscal quarter. If you know the closing times you'll go far.

Took a swim, aggravating my wrist. I re-hurt it yesterday. I believe it hurt more than the original injury. That's humbling. Back in the brace for me.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Had lunch at Willy's. I suggest the charolita with the cilantro garlic steak. Delicious. A light, airy taco. A nice warm day snack. A perfect start to a perfect day.

Spent the afternoon at Piedmont Park taking pictures of pretty much everything. This will basically be a picture post and, fortunately for you, no history lesson included.

Figured out the joys of the continuous shooting mode of my camera. Three shots per second for pretty much as long as you want. That's a nice toy.

Caught a whole series of the kite flying. And most of the tail strands stayed in frame. Its the little things, of course. That make you happy. Lot of that today.

Some things just make you laugh, like the idea that even the dogs in this park are yuppies.

Kids were throwing bread at ducks. Their father was so into the moment I had to give him a card, offering him a copy of some of the pictures. Once upon a time I did that a lot. Not as much lately, but I found reason to do it twice today.

When I wasn't getting in quick draw competitions.

The next time you go to a big festival, try this. Let me know how what happens. The private potties were for The White Party, which was some sort of cult that continued growing every time you walked by. Lots of theories, finally heard the truth: it is a long running reunion where everyone simply wears white. My theories were better, but next year I'll wear lots of white and try to mingle in for free.

Just for the private potty.

Met Sam, playful and trusting as the day is long. He was every bit as cute as Madison, everyone met Madison, who had mischief in her eye. The pictures of them together are absolutely precious.

Dinner at Meehan's. Got adventurous and had the sun-dried tomato turkey burger. I'm branching out, I know. Got burger, but your mind is prepared for one thing and your mouth tells it something else entirely. The first two or three bites can throw your composure.

Maybe that's what's wrong around here today.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The car's working just fine, so there's road tripping to Atlanta. Made it out of town before the traffic, beat the construction crews to closing I-20. If you're heading that way, use this site.

The construction crews were a bit behind. When I breezed through they still had the east bound lanes open and the west closed. By that time of the afternoon that was supposed to be reversed, but I'll take the break. The timing worked out just right; the whole trip took two long CDs from door to door.

Met a blonde, in a parking lot of all places.

Found an empty parking lot at Dreamland. Found an ambitious and artery clogging plan to visit every Dreamland. More on that next week.

Dinner, and then it was pretty much time for sleep. I'm a wild man.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I had a stupid moment today. It was the head in hands type thing in which everyone indulges and that must be proclaimed loudly if you write online. I believe that was an amendment of the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002.

So imagine the perfect day. A day so beautiful that you'd postpone the lawn work that was on the agenda. A day to daydream about fluffy clouds. A day to sit under a tree. A day to leave work, go downstairs and discover your car will not start. Has power, the lights don't dim, but "click," and that's it. Not even an exclamation point. Just "click."

My car, though only nine years old is acting like a teenager. "Whatever."

We discuss it in the office and all agree that the starter has fouled. We know this because the relays and the fuses are still in good shape. We take a precision tool, a mini-crowbar, and whack the starter a few times. (Wouldn't teenagers be better off with such spare the rod treatment?) Call the mechanic, go through the arduous process of having his truck guy come get me.

I don't want to get into this too deeply here, because they're all kind, good people, but it must be mentioned: You can't call me back without my phone number. And, if in the entirely possible event that you do have Caller ID, you can't drive to my location with your truck if you don't have the address of my location.

So, finally, all this agony is worked through. All my options for the day, including yardwork, have been wasted. I've resigned myself to not going to a baseball game as I'd planned. I'd resigned myself to working from home tomorrow. Now I'm just figuring out how I'll get to Points A, B and C with a starterless car, which was rather apathetic on the whole subject, "Click."

The guy drives into town, finds my building -- after I insist upon giving him the address of my physical location -- pops the hood, pounds on that, torques on this, "Do it again." And the car springs to life. The truck guy is a hero, I'm a fool, and I've escaped yardwork. And, throughout the rest of the day the car has behaved perfectly normal. I had a bad connection to the battery terminal, an idea we considered and discarded. We overthought the whole thing, which is why we have tow truck drivers in our lives.

So with cutting the grass now removed as an option -- sorry guys, I know some of you love those tales, but visit again Monday or Tuesday -- I went to the baseball game.

The Barons are playing sub-.500 baseball and it showed in every fashion tonight.

Some nice pictures though.

Here's Lance Broadway, last week's BC Powder Southern League Pitcher of the week on his way to getting rocked. The top prospect's final line: 4.0 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. Some nights you just don't have the good stuff.

My favorite is Jason Pridie laying down the bunt. Notice how the ball has already hit the bat and is being redirected. Dumb luck on my part to catch that. The batter before him squared around to bunt and then hit a ground rule double to the deepest part of the park.

The relief for the Barons looked solid, scattering four hits, but allowing three runs in five innnings. The defense didn't help, but the game was long out of hand.

Favorite picture of the night was a mental one. A broken bat pinwheeled towards me. Some young guys had been heckling a very muscular player on the Biscuits' team. Late in the game "Juice" -- as the kids had been calling him -- sawed off a bat and sent it three rows into the seats on the third base side. I was sitting in the fifth row.

Not having that pic, I'll settle on this photograph: Baseball personified. A dad, a son, baseball and Cracker Jacks. They had a great night at the park. We all did. Except for the guy that got beaned with a bat.

Fun links:
There is honor among thieves. A guy breaks into a home, steals a safe and makes a startling discovery. Startle yourself, upload a picture and see how you'll age. And, finally, how valuable is your website? This place is worth 13,000 according to LeapFish, but I doubt I can command that kind of dough.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Had dinner in Cullman with Kelly tonight.

Got there early, toured a too-expensive used book store. Used books, lady, they aren't supposed to cost me a 10-spot for generic, run of the mill hardbacks. I showed her. I did not buy, but rather made a special note of the two titles I was interested in picking up to find them on Amazon. Promptly I forgot them while off taking pictures.

First I ran across an old ad for Jazz Foods and the Cullman Banana Supply. That's a trucking company which still exists. I believe Jazz Foods was a grocery store, and I doubt it is this group or that group.

That street, unknown to me, is a fruitful place for ghost signs. They just keep appearing on each new building. Half a block away is C. Arnold & Son. That sign may have came much later, but I find one historical reference to Mr. Arnold, that in an area newspaper dated Jan. 7, 1886. It was apparently cold that day. Probably made people ride out the next morning inquiring about new doors and sashes. Beneath it you can make out ads for a bank and peanut butter. It seems incredible that there was a time that advertising peanut butter would have been a big draw.

The next building down was once the Ratliff Grocery Co., your choice for flour and feeds. There are still some Ratliffs in Cullman, saw a sign while out driving -- for a home or car service business I believe -- and there are six names in the phone listings. There's also a record of C.W. Ratliff heading west in March of 1887, must have been the nasty January weather they had that year. The Moulton Advertiser ran the notice of Mr. Ratliff leaving. That paper is still publishing, thought to be the oldest weekly in the state.

Anyway, back to the buildings. Mr. Arnold got a bum deal on this ad. It fronts a tree and not much else. Acutally the backyard of this building slides off into a gentle hill and "overlooks" the "town." I emphasize this to say that Cullman, still small (though now with more bustle!) was emphatically small back in the old days. During a recent visit to the Wallace State Library, expert on all historical things Hanceville and Cullman, I found some old glass photographs taken during this period and from a similar position. This would have been a commanding place to advertise, and Mr. Arnold chose to boast of his cement and various other industrial wares.

Same building, side parking lot G.W. Ponder got in on the sweet advertising action. This building, she's made a living on the world's third oldest profession, no? The Ponders, too, are still in Cullman. In large numbers according to the white pages. Peters Shoes, painted on the far right of the building, were of high quality to get such special mention. Not to advertise for them, but you can pick some up today.

These last three, Ratliff, Ponder and Arnold, are all on the same building. The sequence of the timeline remains a mystery, but most likely where one left off another one served the community. And every year the brick painting guy got a good chuckle out of the whole thing.

Catching up, somewhat, to modernity, we passed the Economy Inn. Now we know how they do it. Fewer light bulbs! Makes you question the turn down service. And how bad is that mint on my pillow going to be? Probably for the best that I never lodge in Cullman, though there's something like five hotels that've been built off the interstate in the past decade. The reasons remain a mystery.

Delightful dinner. We sat on the porch and talked for hours, old people that we pretend to be. Drove around looking for food before settling on the steak house next door to where we'd been chatting. After all that she got a hamburger. That'll be the lasting laugh of the trip, I think.

This trip brings with it some unhappy news though. On the way up I stopped to take a new, better picture of the Jasper Bait'N'Tan, but it is no more. Now it is just the Jasper Bait. The wall to the far right has been painted over. Tragic tale, an end that does not suit the story. Co-workers found this place, dubbed it the Jasper Bait 'N' Tan and songs were sung of its glory. Of course, the place is 40 miles from Jasper, but the name just fit, and stuck, the guts of live bait binding the names together. Those apostrophes didn't hurt either. So, since the establishment has changed -- one wonders if there was a big shake up with the Board of Directors -- we'll remember it fondly here.

Fun links:The New York Times is publishing Matt Gross' attempt to go around the world on the cheap. Your mileage may vary on the definition of cheap, but this should be worth Wednesday reading for the next few months. Looks like they found Capt. Cook's boat, maybe. And I made a new shirt. A great gift for all your neighbors. Buy yours today!

Maybe I should take out some space on a brick building.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Another day on downtown's northside. A little warmer today. More clear skies, late in the afternoon a dully colored cloud threatened rain. I felt one drop, but was on my way back to the car by then anyway.

I drive through the buildings that make up the spartan skyline here everyday, on interstates and expressways I zoom by them in two directions. I'm not sure that this building has ever registered in my mind, but it jumps out today. The American Life company moved out of the Stonewall Building years ago. It, too, will soon be a luxury condo site, but nothing about that view says luxury today.

If you brought someone to that building with no context of American life and from this scene their image had to be put together they would then request a visit to the roof so that they might fling themselves off. On that roof they might wonder about the smokestack. In 1925, when the 12-story building was completed, it surely served a valuable purpose. To think, now, that first one insurance company and then another used this as a base of operations makes one question the smokestack. Perhaps that's where they burn the policy notes after a catastrophe strikes, forcing a bankruptcy and retirement to the islands.

Saw the best looking 80-year-old in town. Not the best angle, of Electra, but I'm not sure where the really beautiful shot I've seen of her was taken from. (We've talked about Electra here before, for more go here and here.) It was about here that I realized the skyscrapers weren't captivating me today. I'd just walked between them all and stood in front of churches and at crosswalks more than those buildings.

Pondering this I stumbled onto 16th Street. This remains the epicenter of all things historical in Birmingham's modern history. Just across the way is the Civil Rights Museum, definitely worth your visit. Freedom Walk, a self-guided audio tour, is in a park diagonal from the church, where you'll find some of the most pointed and poignant sculptures that leave little for interpretation. Children before jail bars, a police dog attacking a man, dogs attacking you.

Here now men, black and white, spend their spring afternoon chatting amiably with one another. Just across the street a child dances carefree, not yet aware of the solemnity of this place. It bends the mind to think of how far it is that we've come in these short decades, but how long it took to get there, and how long that path remains.

And then the AmSouth Center brightens your day. Someone remind me to come back at Christmastime and take this picture once again. The whole building is decked out in Christmas cheer for the commuters, and here's a low angle most of them don't get to see.

The old Age-Herald Building is largely unseen as well. Tucked into the business district the old building now quietly serves as anonymous office space. That was a noisy building once upon a time, a newspaper founded through an 1888 merger printed there. This was the paper of record in town for 30 years and can trace a direct line back to Birmingham's original rag, founded by John Cantley in 1850.

Victor Hanson, the patriarch of modern newspaper publishing in Birmingham, bought the Age-Herald in 1927 and published it with his own (and still existing) Birmingham News. In 1950 the Age-Herald name disappeared following a merger with the Birmingham Post. That paper, the Birmingham Post-Herald, published for 55 years, closing abruptly last September.

Happily, it is always 2:45 at the Age-Herald.

Right now it's time for Denny Crane! Two hours tonight, so the smarm was really laid on thick. Denny's west coast counterpart, played by Robert Wagner, was underwhelming, but the episode was great. A little something for everyone: romance, intrigue, drama, drugs, pratfalls. Every episode should be two hours. Maybe every episode should have Jeri Ryan. They should all include at least two or three comments lowering the fourth wall. These characters knowing that they are characters brings in the audience in a charming way.

"Welcome into our game. Stay awhile, invest in us," they always seem to say when they cast a wink and a nod at the television setting (at least three this episode). Now they say "See you next season." Can't wait. And hopefully we'll see another season of a still healthy and vibrant Denny Crane.

Season One comes out on DVD next week.

Fun links:Best ad ever, crab division. Wads gives us the classic clip by Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy doing Ebony and Ivory.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Another perfect day. Coolish, hint of rain, bursts of sun, dark clouds, brilliant skies. A little something for everyone, meteorologically speaking.

Fulfilled part of a promise to myself, part of the Take Back My Life Tour '06. I don't have such a tour, but suddenly the concept seems appealing. Let's give that some thought later in the week. Anyway, went to the north side of town, often travelled by, rarely travelled through, and I have one day's worth of photos to show for it.

So there we were today, me and the new camera, soon to be in a full-fledged relationship of our own. Across the tracks, though I'm never sure if this town has a proverbial wrong side. You could say, in some instances that it would be the north side. There are segments of town where that rings true, there are portions that stink of decay and there are certainly high profile hustle and bustle business and activities across the tracks. Maybe that isn't the wrong side either. (I know where the official wrong side of the tracks is in town. I rarely travel through there and have never stopped for too long, out of an abundant and abiding sense of overcaution.) You can actually strike up a conversation with folks on the north side of town, professional, transient or otherwise, and still feel relatively safe.

Just don't squint the second eye closed too tightly when peering through the viewfinder.

Having shot up much of the southside, most everything on the downtown's northside looks new, even the old. There's Grants, a store of which I know nothing about. They were apparently known for values, but values will take you only so far in the rough and tumble retail world it seems. Perhaps that is one of the many former W.T. Grant stores. Five and dimes downtown across America, 1,200 on their best day, but couldn't adjust to the suburban boom. Defunct in 1975, before I was born. That blue facade treatment could be trendy again, but is it possible no one has been inside those doors in 30 years?

The Cabana has been empty since 1983, when the state declared it unfit for low-income apartments, which it had been for just two years. In a previous life it had been a hotel called "The Pride of Birmingham." Soon it will be the condos that the hip will flock too. The Leer Corporation is renovating the 305 hotel rooms into 65 units. A mere $230,000 will get you in, $400,000 will get the other tenants jealous. Expected to open next year, the old trademark signage will be going away.

Yeildings went away long ago, but the brothers stuck around for a long time too. Bankrupt in 1996, the dream died, the brothers are buried at Oakhill, they lived on Norwood Boulevard, when it was the place to be.

Here's a ghost sign I've wanted for some time. Drink Coke! Buy baby supplies! The two were apparently correlated. Makes one want to stay away from the carbonated beverages, lest there be unanswerable questions at the bottom of the glass. Storkland still exists, now in a different location, and they seem to sell a lot in the way of Elizabethan furniture. Coke probably never saw that one coming, but then, neither did you, and that's what you get for drinking Coke.

Pepsi, on the other hand, promises only to refresh and invigorate. And they'll do it for a nickel. Nothing quixotic about your beverage drinking affairs nine months from now, its just delicious and healthful. Pepsi: the next nine minutes, not nine months. That would have been a great slogan.

This particular Pepsi ad pre-dates the Coke painting by a generation, though. The Coke logo is from 1969 or later. The Pepsi painting is pre-1939, based on the bottom text and the absence of the twice as much for a nickel too slogan. Interestingly, it seems that Pepsi cribbed the extra wording from Coke, circa 1907.

One more ad, this one for Sloan's Liniment which, despite the ancient feel, is still around today, though this wall lately seems to advertise some sort of peas.

A certain generation knew all about Sloan's treatment, but he's largely forgotten today, even by the internet, which does offer his recipe. His is a fascinating story though. Here's an even better ad for Sloan's.

Somewhere down my trek down one street -- just past Cabana was my turning point -- and before Yeildings the rains flirted with falling. The skies, for a few moments got ominous, but the streets remained dry. Big clouds coming from the west made finding the car seem like a good idea. Lesson: always look over your shoulder, too. Nothing ever came of it. Moral: The "20% chance of scattered showers" confuses even the storm clouds.

The Bauer Hour: We're in the homestretch now, with the final two hours airing next week. That's good, I think, because I'm detecting a bit of CTU fatigue within myself. Jack could, no doubt, scream in an impassioned voice about how he doesn't have time to explain it, but that I need to fall under his Jedi mind trick spell and "FOCUS KENNY, FOCUS!" and I probably would. Right about now I want the guy to have a sandwich, bacon this week, and a nap.

Mostly I'm wondering why no one needs to shave. Is that some new government protocol? What level of security do you need before this is enacted? Can I be a part of the program?

Also, Aaron Pierce, dear guy that he is, is a bad, bad man and he needs a CTU spin off. His non-love interest in the first lady is a compelling that will no doubt become forgotten and ignored, but let's talk about the dirty work she's doing. A few weeks ago we noted how her day was a lot more involved than that of any other first lady. Yeah, well, neither Dolly Madison nor Eleanor Roosevelt can hold a candle to her now, not after her justifiable shooting of a guy set to brain our secondary hero.

Remember, Aaron has the second highest killrate on the show, and he did that in one little exchange. He's also winning in the often overlooked Tell Off Competition. Calling the president Charles was a nice piece of work for a man beaten about the mouth and nose.

I thought we would learn the secret identity of the Geppettoes with the cool phones and good scotch, but I'm still disappointed. Perhaps the best line was Dr. Romano, Big Oil Man's confession of being surprised to hear from the president again. I'm sure the NSA is baffled by their recent exchanges. Oops, sorry, they don't listen.

Next week: Jack threaten's to be a pipe hitter on the president. Ving Rhames, where are you when your country needs you!?

Fun links: Travelling through Georgia? See where the delays are in The Construction State. See the traffic for Birmingham. I'm waiting for someone to walk in front of those cameras and make a scene. Perhaps a dance. Perhaps the evolution of dance.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Another day, another dive. Swam over a bus and a boat, conserved air very well, shivered less. Somehow being out in a beautiful spring day but in the same cold water plays all sorts of tricks on the mind. It should be warmer, but its not; the water shouldn't feel good, but it does.

I got to ride one of these. Diving for years, never even seen a scooter, but here we go. The right button turns it on, the left button gives you turbo. Stay along the rocks we're told. Mind your air I remind the guy who I'm scooting with. He's only just been certified a few moments ago. He has only 1,000 PSI. We ride the rocks, he turns left, towards the center of the quarry and we ride for a long, long time.

I started that trip with 2,000 PSI, which is quite a bit, but the other guy -- who's name I don't even know -- was sucking it down pretty quick. Finally he stops, we're at about 15 feet with maybe 15 feet of visibility. He has 500 PSI and wants to dive deeper on his scooter. No one has yet adequately explained to this young man how the bottom of the tank works.

Finally I convince him to go to the surface, where we realize we are hundreds of yards off our starting point. He's ready to try and swim it, but muscles are already cramping in the water -- 68 degrees, remember -- so, no, we snorkel and let these the scooters pull us along the surface. Everyone was safe, there was never any real danger, we all got a good laugh at it.

You can't, by the way, ride on those things without humming the theme to James Bond to yourself.

Later in the day, of course, there was mariachi. They must be recognizing my camera now, one of the fiddlers asked me to bring him some pictures next time. He's a really nice guy, a fine singer, but his English isn't very good. Makes you wonder if they know what they're singing all the time when they do American tunes. Surely they don't understand all the underlying subtext in all of them. Kind of like my only vague understanding of the huapango that is La Bamba and the classic Guantanamera, but there I am, butchering the lyrics with broken language all the same.

Round out the day with some ice cream. Forgot to ask the kid what time they close. How I can report on the education of today's youth without asking the key questions that lend us so much insight? I'll have to work harder at this. That means more ice cream I guess. Oh well.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Nothing quite so invigorating as 68 degree water when its rainy, overcast and about the same surface temperature. The sadistics of physics, of course, mean that's going to be really cold. Diving in a spring feed rock quarry was a good idea, but shivering May is a new experience.

Only went about 40 feet down, convenient since that was the thermocline that began sending the shut down signals to the body. All the warm thoughts in the world -- hot tubs, hot fires, hot chocolate -- won't help you there.

After that, picked up my car, went home for a late afternoon nap. Nothing as sinfully decadent as a nap for no other reason than you fell asleep. I should look into that more.

Steak for dinner rounded out the perfect day.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Since the car is in the shop I had to depend on a ride to work from Wads. With a house now under contract they are just loitering around my place, good thing as it turns out, otherwise I'd be stranded. My car at least has the deceny to become unbearable only when company is around to ferry me to and fro. It is a very considerate car, where most might be cranky at 213,000 miles.

The guy called me this morning to tell me what the repair price would be. My car just experienced a slight increase in value, but this should fix a few problems at once, so aside from needing a bolt of whiskey and a bullet to bite down on I gave the OK. The desire, no, the demand of driving safely and with brakes intact is a powerful motivator.

This stranded me at work, for the afternoon though. My car was ready to go, but I had no way to get to it. They'll get to hang on to it until tomorrow. So I spent the afternoon catching up on Things I've Been Meaning To Do. I'm slowly whittling away at that list in reverse chronological order. Thank you notes will be the next big thing to work off, probably early next week. I did manage to catch up on photographs for the site, however. The April pictures are here. Just 30, but not a lot of repetition and there's the thesis excuse too.

Beautiful weather this afternoon, 72 and sunny, picture perfect. May has been the mildest month; many are noticing, but none are complaining. While I waited on my ride -- I'm just that dedicate to have a 13-hour day at the office on Fridays -- I took a walking tour of the neighborhood.

This is one of the older parts of town, having undergone a successful rehabilitation into a community of shops and stores and offices, with the occasional restaurant. It isn't a destination, but it is a viable business area. Some of the wrought iron artisans have problems cleaning their yards, making the place look dead or dilapidated, but there's a charm to found among the tetanus.

Never noticed the old sign about two blocks up and aimed at the alley, but this was once the home of the John R. White Co. The closed up shop here years ago and moved about 10 blocks over to the north side and 10 blocks up. Apparently the dairy products and nondurable goods business is booming there. Here, even the weeds and vines have learned the location is a bit lacking for their needs.

This particular block is a quiet, desolate feeling place, especially as the suns wears itself out on a Friday. Walk down the side alley dodging puddles and you emerge upon an array that stupifies the senses. The graffiti is colorful here. Despite all the steel and the rust and the asphalt and formerly good ideas who've outlived their welcome, nature is making a humble comeback in places. Very humble, but the quiet elegance of a berry vine wrapped around chain link makes the surrounding clutter a little more palatable.

OK, maybe not, but the light was sneaking through the leaves just so, and the berries looked nice, though I can never bring myself to eat those things, even in more pristine natural settings.

Speaking of eating, there was a crowd at Pie Day with Wads and Brooke joining the table. The manager at the Homewood store (who now also remembers us) noted we'd multiplied. We're the gremlins you don't throw water upon. Feeding us after midnight would be fine, so long as there's pie involved. So the manager there knows us, and we'll no doubt be notorious soon if there are other regulars at that restaurant, but the wait staff just doesn't seem to be as hip to people as the Hoover store. That we've never had the same waiter twice could be part of that.

Fun links:Scratch south Texas as a vacation destination. Perhaps we should use Platial -- a social community centered on maps, "the people's atlas" they call it -- to find a safe place. Can't be safe in the X-Men universe, judging by the new seven minute sneak peek. Maybe they could beat some lessons of tact and civility into O.J.

Tennis anyone?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Put my car in the shop this afternoon. Had to go to four places before I could get it looked at, and even then I'm imposing on half the people I know to survive in the modern mobile world until Saturday.

My normal tire guy couldn't do it today. My normal mechanic guy couldn't do it to do. The Express place wanted to, but one of their guys just left to tend to his son who'd had a car wreck moments before. I know this story to be true because I drove by it just after that. Pretty nasty, one car T-boned another, the car with the front end damage had the worst of it. Both cars were exactly the same color so no one knows if they, in fact, swapped paint. Hopefully everyone was OK.

On my car, however, the brakes were gone. Suddenly and drastically. I had brakes Tuesday, it rained all day Wednesday and I had no brakes today. I guess that'd be that acid rain we heard so much about in the late 80s, it dissolves brake pads. Quick! Someone blame the president!

Anyway, nothing some new pads and a big check won't fix. So I drop the car off, get a ride home, and see my company off for dinner with friends. They left me at home and told me to not wait up. I won't.

I've been passing the time by wandering around the yard, taking pictures, eating leftover ribs from Dreamland, watching baseball and straightening up just the slightest bit; your usual Thursday night in.

Whoa. I just glanced out the window and discovered, with alarm, that my car isn't sitting patiently below me. That one gets me every time.

Rather than share more agony about the car -- being stranded, hating the feeling of imposing on others and the sudden urge to drive anywhere now that I can't -- I'll just share some pictures. Fortunately for you I think I've now exhausted the list of flowers in the yard. I've probably exhausted your goodwill toward them as well.

Last week I mentioned the honeysuckle I couldn't bring myself to cut. Here it is. There's nothing special about it, except to me. Every little drop of sweet goodness inside a honeysuckle flower brings to mind learning about that sugary secret. Every little drop brings back the recollection of sharing it with others. Sometimes the most powerful lessons of heritage are miniscule.

Across the yard is a tree of still undetermined species. We bought dogwoods years ago, dug through three miles of clay and planted them in the ground. This was, at the time, the largest. It has been passed in the tape measure category. Three are still alive, one is stunted and this one is not a dogwood. The leaves look like it, the bark is nowhere closer, nor are its flowers. They're pretty enough, no matter the name.

Flowers are the training wheels of photography. The first pictures of every camera I've ever owned have been of flowers. They always seem to be a winner; they're very patient and don't mind at all how the photographs turn out. We'll be moving on to slightly more complex subjects now that my fingers are learning where to go around all the buttons on the back of the new toy.

Scientists are using old ship's logs. Other scientists are solving a key Darwin question.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

That was a lot of rain. At about 7:30 this morning the sky was as dark as the Rapture. Naturally we ran to the windows. Later in the day the second band of storms fell upon us, drowning more low crawling creatures and making the sky dark in the mid-day. Alien ships or an eclipse, either would have looked preferable to the dark-yet-light atmosphere of this afternoon.

The internets were down at home for some time this afternoon. Half the cable channels were fuzzy and distorted. Call the cable folks, where they tell me to unplug (three times) and then tell me it is a problem with my equipment, meaning a technician will be out Monday.

I love the cable people, but hire more technicians. You can't train society to have immediate access to everything they want and then expect them to wait for it until Monday. You're going to make me go all weekend without Email? But I wasn't panicked, oh no. I went through this same experience last month while trying to write a thesis and didn't necessarily have three days to waste.

That previous time I was in a discussion with the guy trying to convince him that the problem was theirs, not mine, and that it would not (as in: Would. Not.) take four days to fix. Just then the cable internet people's phone banks lit up. Being just after 5 p.m. everyone got home to realize "No internets." The guy then said, "Oh, this isn't a technical issue inside your home, but rather a problem in a nearby node." So, instead of four days, we were back online in two.

Anyway, today the guy is convinced that "Only 15 of the 250 nearest modems were reporting outages, which isn't enough to declare an outage, so see ya Monday!"

An hour later they called back -- and this is the part that I love -- saying they were wrong, the problems do have to do with the storms, and we'll be back on soon. The cable and the internet connection were restored during dinner.

So Brooke wanted something light. Somehow that translated to Chinese. We had that low-brow buffet kind with pizza on the end of the bar. I'd make lots of notes about the service, but that's not what any of us want to read here. I'd say something about the shrimp with the extremely long antennae, but that was enough to make you swear the stuff off somehow. We could talk about the Jell-O with the skin on it, but that's hardly Chinese, unless it is. The fortune cookie was good, but the guy that prints the fortunes in Columbus, Ohio is really starting to slip.

This is the place in Hoover that changes names with each new moon. The first time I ate there it was Asian Bistro. A few incarnations later it is now Mongolian Grill, where they serve Chinese. Most of the folks dining there probably don't get the historical ties. They just go there for the pizza.

Had a great lightning show on the way home, the kids watched Lost, I watched baseball and celebrated the return of the internet. And, hunkering down for more potential storms, that's pretty much been the day.

Fun links:These guys were stranded at sea for 22 days before text messaging saved them. I wonder if they saw any unusual mirages. What would a mirage look like through a baby's eyes? How about a flower from my backyard.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Brooke and Wads found a house. That took all of an afternoon, I think. They'll be making an offer tomorrow. Tonight we celebrated with thunderstorms and pizza. We had three waitresses, all very persistent and attentive, all asking odd questions. We'll just chalk that up to Bessemer.

We watched American Idol tonight. I'll blame that on Brooke, as I generally don't watch the show for reasons of musical preference. That one guy, though, he's good. The other one, he's nice. The girl is probably a great choir singer back home and, if I ever have need for a party with a singer, that third guy might be available.

Otherwise there was more teevee. Boston Legal was great, building into the season finale next week. I jokingly objected just before Denny that the witness wasn't speaking English. Ahh, the little joys of television. If the plot twists and punchlines were any more similar they'd seem torturously predictable. Right now the similarity is just charming. Moments like these, and the hand-in-hand thoughts I had about 24 last night make me wonder if I should go to L.A. if there's ever another writer's strike. There might be a career there.

Does that mean they've learned to think like me or I've been brainwashed to think like them?

Denny Crane's best Denny Crane moment being when he identified himself as "United States of America." Or when he objected to an "unpatriotic" argument in court. Or when he lamented, in the prologue, living in a blue state. Or when he realized, also in the prologue, that he couldn't wait until next week.

Ehh, Tuesdays. I got nothing.

Fun links: Communication, solved. Same month I finish the master's. Coincidence? Please. The six minute project is a "coolaborative multimedia experiment." It means, take a picture every hour. The Ancients, from space. The internet is poised to go at light speed. "(O)ne optical fibre has a capacity of hundreds of terabits a second." Meanwhile, other scientists believe they can cure cancer in mice.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Took the folks, to the airport today. They met Greg, Brian and I for lunch today. Greg and Brian are notable enough to be invited, I was asked to go too! That picture, by the way, was from graduation dinner Saturday night. I uploaded it and promptly forgot to display it. Whoops.

So after lunch, horrendously slow with a genius waiter. We're talking about the lessons you learn in life outside of a classroom and the guy drops into the conversation Some people have the ability to add into a discussion with input that is welcome. This guy was lacking that quality, it could be his tortoise-like pace of delivering lunch.

Everyone tunes him out, I get stuck with eye contact and he says "Yeah, like don't use UPS."

He's standing between my chair and my step-father's. To the genius waiter, the whitest spaced out surfer working in a Thai restaurant in Alabama, I point to Rick while offering, in a stage whisper, He flies for UPS.

The waiter reacts with horror, putting hand to mouth, realizing what he's almost done. And then he proceeds to tell the story anyway.

Its a great story, though, if true, but it is hard to build up credibility on an empty stomach, and this guy won't bring me my chicken.

After glaciers pass by the window we can finally leave. Narrowly avoiding a wreck in which a kindly old gentleman decided to try and turn left into oncoming traffic. The multi-lever process of stoking down the fires and whoaing the horses that pull my car around town somehow hurt my wrist again. And then the guy honked at me ... the indignity of it all!

Took the parents to the airport, avoiding any further disasters or calamities. Got back to work just in time to leave for the day. So I stayed longer, just to balance out my 40-hour a week kharma.

Got home to goof off with Brooke and Wads. Took them out for barbeque where a guy asked about my camera. He saw the hoopla surrounding the opening the other night and is on the market himself. It's the subject, though, and not the photographer.

They'll be my social calendar for the next few days, when they aren't house shopping. The laughter doesn't come across as well on the phone. Being in person is the surround sound for the soul. That they could live close by is just like old times.

Except that we're older. And more mature. OK, older.

The Bauer Hour is getting predictable. Either the audience thinks like the writers or the writers are being really simplistic. Whether you're watching from your television or on the set dictates how you feel about that.

I'll say this, for all the silliness, the big leaps, the selling off of his wife and everything else, I finally like the President. It was that literally life-saving phone call at the very end (which I predicted) that finally turned him into the level of weasel worth watching. I also knew who the call was coming from.

And I've figured out who Dr. Romano is. He's Big Oil! Think about it, the president is chummy with this guy, they're all first names and "Come round for barbeque" and what not. Logan was doing this "in the best interest" to secure ... Oil!

Game over.

I wonder what kind of security those guys have around them. That's the next likely candidate for Angry Jack. Our super agent, by the way, left the air marshall in the hold of that plane. I hope someone thinks to look there.

Jack knew where to look to find Audrey, who -- despite bleeding out, being drugged, choked, gased and whatever happened to her on her commute into the office -- has great eyeliner. Maybe the DoD should get into cosmetics. Peace through superior makeup.

One note on the bad guys: sure was wise of them to infiltrate CTU -- again -- and plant a security agent as the criminal transport driver. You know, just in case the uber bad guy, who's in reality about seventh string on the bad guy roster, gets captured and someone feels the compelling urge to transport him. The thoughtfulness of the bad guys astounds, while the inferrential leaps the good guys must take to keep up make one thing, "Ehh, they aren't that good at being bad. They can't be Big Oil!"

No bad guys bought it, but know I know how Jack manages to grab a bite to eat. I also know what he's doing at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

You're going to have to see this a lot for a while as I play with my new toy, and I apologize. But, ooh! Ooh! Look at what I found in the yard! There were the flowers on the bush I could not bring myself to trim. There is a mimosa tree holding the light just right in the back yard.

The mimosa, so delicate, so beautiful, so much better in someone else's yard. If you aren't careful they'll take over everything. If they and kudzu ever get together, realize they are both bent on flora domination our lawn tools might not survive the day.

Got by today in a very low-key way. Played with cameras in the late morning, had the traditional sandwich lunch, lounged around watching teevee and movies during the afternoon.

And then, mariachi!

Got there late and the place was mostly filled with hispanics, earning more music from home, most of which was unfamiliar to my Americanized ear. The fiddlers made their instruments do the wolf whistle at all the pretty girls. Hadn't seen that one before.

The fiddlers are the class clowns, and though it takes three of them to equal Charlie Daniels, they will play Devil Went Down to Georgia just fine. The trumpets still get all the attention. They have to stand away from the tables so the singers can be heard, but they're always there, the omnipresent power of the tough in the schoolyard. The guitars and the bass make up the middle ground, deserving more acclaim than they receive, content to flesh out the music, avoiding too much praise. I'd give it to them, too, if they'd just stand in the right place for a picture, but they're always just drifting away. I could seek them out, but this is a more casual affair. Photos from the booths only, please. Wouldn't want to get in the way of the dancers, of which there were many.

Brooke and Wads were waiting on my doorstep. They're in town for law school orientation and house shopping and are crashing this week.

Of course they arrived to a home that had no water earlier in the day followed by slow waters of a different sort later in the evening. They must think I live in a third world neighborhood. Brooke is passing time by working on her fantasy baseball team -- in a league in which she is currently beating me -- in my driveway.

You know, if you're going to be company, and steal connectivity, you could at least let me beat you.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Friday, May 5, 2006

My mom drove me to work today.

Let me rephrase that. My mother, who's visiting for the weekend, needed to borrow my car so she rode to work with me and then stranded me there.

That sounds more adult than "My mom drove me to work today," no?

Anyway, I stay in the office all day. Nowhere to go, really. Still, knowing I don't have a car down one floor and over a few dozen feet can make you twitchy. Mostly I'm thinking that I left the folks in a car that has all the quirks that come in a car with 213,000 miles. There are few, it really is still a great car, but what if something routine happens that they aren't expecting. Twitch.

There's a subpar and overpriced yuppie Mexican place in our building. The patio is full, and the normal three over-the-door speakers aren't enough. They had to bring a "DJ" to play all the hits from 1993 through a studio monitor, very loudly, right by the exterior tables. So I'm out there wandering around taking in the sights of Cinco de Mayo when my folks come to pick me up. If I didn't drive the car home myself it would have felt entirely like elementary school.

Pie Day has been temporarily renamed Cinco de Pie-o. Big turnout, but lots of people were still missing. My folks, Brian, Elizabeth, The Yankee and Taylor all joined Ward for the evening.

Taylor stole the show, after my mother stole her heart. It was shameless, she bought that child's affections. Out and out bought that child's love with a Princess Mermaid giftbag full of crayons and stickers and who knows what.

Suddenly this big box appeared before me. Covered in balloon wrapping paper. This must be a graduation gift, I half-thought to myself. Suddenly I was very tired and little was making sense. The contents of the box were very clever, arranged in a theme for a summer trip that's on the agenda. The items were very summery. Sunglasses here, sun screen there, shorts over there, flip flops in the other corner.

And then I stumble on a card reader and a lens cleaning kit, which didn't make much sense at the time. Seemed out of place given the theme. I'd not yet caught my second wind, when I stumbled on a camera bag. Inside of the camera bag were various camera accessories and, oh ... over here ... why, a camera box!

So then, opening the camera box I see the Canon Digital Rebel XT. No lenses, as my print lenses will work on this camera's body. Rick's hand appears with a lens that they'd stolen from my bag at home. Someone puts a battery in my hand and I hear Brian say, "Good plan having a battery charged." Someone else said, "Go wild" which is about where my brain took things off autopilot and started working again.

Though everyone at Cinco de Pie-o was involved in pulling off this incredibly thoughtful graduation gift the honor of the first picture was obvious, though everyone took part and contributed to wonderful and wholly undeserved gifts. Lots of hugs and thank yous and notes to go around now.

The second picture is my now former digital camera, lonely already, though it will go to a fine new home this weekend. Dear, sweet, old camera, through your viewfinder I saw so much, and we had so many wonderful experiences together, it will be a shame to lose you. What we had was beautiful, but let's be realistic. You'll always have a special place in my heart. And I'll always know that I wouldn't be the photographer I am without what you taught me. I'll miss your sunsets and sunrises the most, and I'll think fondly of your durability (remember that waterfall?) but the random power downs, the painfully slow shutter time and the short focal length are just too much to forgive.

Don't cry, old camera, whenever I take pictures I'll always have a place for you in my heart.



And if you're still reading after that emotional and all-too-public scene I hope you'll indulge me a semi-serious moment of more-than-usual personal sappiness. Not a day passes that I don't realize how lucky I am to have such wonderful family and terrific friends. Not all of them could be here tonight or tomorrow, but they are all well-represented. I thank you all (where I don't thank you enough) for tonight, and every day really, for the goodness you bring me.

I'm a blessed guy.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Picked up the parents at the airport today. I'm very tired after very little sleep last night. This is going to be short.

I'll wait while you celebrate.

We sat around and talked for a while at the house and then went out for Dreamland. These aren't the best ribs I've ever had, but they are close. They put the barbeque equivalent of crack in the sauce, so you always go when someone mentions the place. If you don't know the joys of Dreamland you can order through their site to ship anywhere in the country. Fine stuff.

Anyway, we eat the ribs, Rick orders the smoked sausage as well. I'm pleasantly surprised here; it is delicious. Good seasonings, not overly or under cooked, but smoked just right. We had the banana pudding, naturally. We piled on, naturally. Heather, the waitress, who wore this shirt just right, apparently made everything tonight. She took pride in her work, which is all you can ask out of a barbeque vendor.

I'm sure they get tired of the food there, just like every other restaurant, but it occurs to me that the Dreamland staff is probably very popular with their friends. We did meet a barbeque guy a few weeks ago who still ate his food. Said he's put on 40 pounds in eight years. He must have been a stick back then, but I digress. Eating your way to arteriosclerosis at Dreamland wouldn't be the worst way in the world to arrive there.

Fun Links: If LiveJournal isn'tt melodramatic enough, there's MySpace, of course. Occasionally you can run across some good musical acts there, though. It is always someone you found through your brother's cousin's nephew's uncle's myspace account. And isn't he a cad? Anyway, I might be the last guy in the world to hear of him, but here's Matthew Jordan who poses the question "Who says piano can't rock as hard as guitar?" Not me. Then there's the more familiar Bowling For Soup who want you to know they are "Steve Martin meets Cheap Trick on speed," which is both a fair assessment and funny enough to make you push play. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Much work has been done. Many rooms cleaned. Grammar destroyed. Completely.

Dusting will do that to me. The particles get in the sinus cavity and somehow float their way through the porous regions of my gray matter. From there it is a coordinated attack on the left brain functions that ordinarily run things around here. It's a terrible conspiracy.

Beautiful day today. Light, sunny, mild temperature. Just perfect for working indoors, walking outside for 45 seconds and then returning to an enclosed environment from which you can't escape. I was really not into housecleaning today, can you tell?

The burn pile, by the way, continues to smolder. This should be a metaphor of some aspect of my life, I'm certain.

Dropped off some movies. I'm a very prolific movie watcher, having caught three of five. That's Hall of Fame numbers if you're a baseball player. OK, OK, on one movie I was only interested in the extra scenes, so call that a foul tip.

Went to a thrift store looking for a joke gift and wound up leaving with four books, currently priced on Amazon at about 35 bucks. I paid $5:
Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream
The Wallace Story
Men at Work : The Craft of Baseball
The Greatest Player Who Never Lived : A Golf Story
That Wallace book was written in 1966 -- I believe by his longtime friend and press secretary -- just before his first term ended. Should be interesting reading.

Much like the reading of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake over a tasty Zaxby's chicken sandwich. That's from the Smithsonian magazine which I enjoy more and more with every issue. It is the only subscription I take now, everything else I read online. I won't drop this subscription, not anytime soon at least. Despite all the advantages of the online version there's something vitally important about having at least some tactile experience in your reading habits.

Besides, I'm not interested in lugging around my PC into every restaurant in town. A book, a magazine, they're always up for satisfying the occasional craving. The text in a book or a magazine will go anywhere, and that's a terrific selling point. I don't ask a lot out of my dinner dates, do I?

Back to cleaning.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

The burn pile is still smoldering. I'm sending smoke signals to somewhere. Who knows what they're making of this on their end. I've great stamina and charcoal making ability, I'm sure. They're writing songs of my endurance, no doubt.

I lay down on the bed plotting out my plan of attack for cleaning the house and the next thing I knew I was drooling on the cover. Unexpected afternoon naps are a glorious invention and whoever had that brilliant should be celebrated on dollar bills and The History Channel.

So that was pretty much the afternoon. Not that I remember any of it.

Did catch Denny Crane. If you like dark comedies and aren't watching Boston Legal you're missing out. Don't worry; the first season will be out on DVD later this month. Tonight, Alan got arrested, Denny got him off with the jury by showing his tuckus. There was a bullseye there. Denny was making a point, but I couldn't get over the memory of giving those boxers to an uncle once upon a time.

Last name, Crane. First name, Denny.

Shirley Schmidt let her inner lawyer out and that was feisty and scary and good. So she's a decent, restrained person. Alan Shore is a heel with a heart of gold. Denny is Denny and Edwin Poole, triumphantly played by Larry Miller, makes his brief and looney return. They had a great exchange in the earlier going, where it was asserted that both of their names were on the door.

That's my new favorite expression: Name's on the door.

Sorta says it all, doesn't it?

More fun tomorrow; I'll be awake.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Today was a yard day. After a chill in the air last evening this afternoon has been a glorious and beautiful beginning to May. I mowed the lawn. And burned things. And burned. And burned.

Made it to Wal-Mart for house necessities and dinner. I didn't drop the cell phone call to my mother -- a first for that cinderblock cavern -- and I didn't run into anyone I knew. I found, right away, three of the things I needed. One guy beat me to an Express Lane, where the cashier took that to mean that it was probably a good idea. If only I'd been able to decide on food quickly it would have been the perfect Wal-Mart trip.

I only go in there about twice a month, tops, and know that a perfect Wal-Mart experience is a myth, so I was pleasantly surprised. Got home to more smoldering. Some leaves and grass clippings just don't know when to quit.

My hand has been odd today, with some slight numbness in my thumb and two fingers. Yardwork didn't help, but I brought that on myself. Otherwise, it has been another perfect day.

Almost a year ago to the day, I took this picture. Today, while working in the yard I took this one.

Same area of the backyard. The background should look similar. In one picture I'm standing in front of a cluster of trees, in today's I'm standing behind it. Otherwise they are eerily similar. That's the second time recently that I've captured nearly identical photos a year apart. Must be a rut.

This midtown traffic picture is the best of the day. Not sure why I like it so much, but the two reflections just captivate somehow. Maybe its the middle of the day, beautiful weather, top down feeling. Don't know, but I'm glad I caught it.

The Bauer Hour. Made it back inside from firefighting duties just in time for dinner and the show, where I discovered an extra benefit. I don't have to keep tabs on the pizza in the oven, 24 has that cool clock they keep flashing on the screen, so I'll know precisely when I get to eat. A cruel torture for Jack, I'm sure; he is starting to look sluggish.

The past two episodes haven't been recapped on these pages, as I finally got the chance to watch them this week. (Thanks Brian!) He put those two on a DVD for me, made a cool menu page and even clipped the commercials. Brian's does choice work, if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

No promises, but I'm hoping that I'll have a chance to revisit those two episodes in the next day or so to add snarky comments here. It may not happen, as there is a lot of cleaning on the agenda and a possible day trip out of town, but we'll see about padding the content.

Anyway, in no particular continuity -- which is pretty much how the last three hours of the show seem to me right this moment.

Who is Dr. Romano? Does he run the Trilateral Commission?

Why doesn't the President have this plane shot down? Lost a British diplomat, which is regrettable, but problem solved. You're a killer, Mr. Fake Teevee President, do something devious. Or are you just a cog in the machine again? It is hard to keep you straight.

And, yet, its the first lady who's supposed to be crazy. Talk about your rough day. She's already been blown up, mugged, drugged, groped, committed, brought back in the Circle of Trust and now taken back out, found out her husband is a killer, got busted with her Secret Service boyfriend, tried to seduce that guy and now she can't get her drugs.

Eat your heart out Dolly Madison.

I still want to know why Jack didn't just alert the media from the safety of the bank vault. If only he'd had a boiled egg for brain food he could have thought of that. Similarly, why doesn't he just do that now. If Chloe can get him through to the pilot, why can't she call ABC? I have their number in my non-secret non-spy phone. I'll call them for you Jack! Its toll free even!

Tazers don't knock people out, but that Chloe did it to that guy twice is hysterical. Similary, the first lady's trials and tribulations wouldn't be funny -- and hear I mean her mental ones -- in reality, but for a television character they are hysterical.

Jack Bauer should probably come over to the house when he's done defeating the president -- we haven't seen any terrorists lately -- that fire is still smoldering, and I've doused it three times so far tonight.