Monday, February 26, 2007

Big Night

Alas, there is no time for a REAL post. But I desperately needed to check in and write something. So here are some of my thoughts as I quickly check today's headlines.

I was perusing the headlines on the CNN home page this morning - Iraqi Pres. has stroke, Iraqi Vice Pres. is wounded, Cheney warns Pakistan, Bush plans Iran bombing, 41 killed in Iraq University bombing, etc, etc. With my mouse-pointer passing slowly over each headline, and a trigger-finger over the mouse button, a little voice inside my head was going "Wait for it... waaaait for it... w-a-i-t... waaaaiittt.... THERE!" I clicked on the video headline: "Pillows Fly in Massive Free-For-All". I mean, who could resist watching naked women have a pillow fight on the beach?! Let me tell you, I was sorely disappointed. I had to recheck the home page twice - I could have SWORN I saw the words "naked women" and "beach". Instead, the video featured a shirtless, hairy, fat guy in biker shorts. I moved on to more important headlines: "Beyonce: SI's Swimsuit Cover Model".

The Oscars have apparently provided much-needed relief from tonsorial headlines about Britney "Shears" (heh, heh). Of course, there never were any REAL stories about the event - only non-stop stories about other news outlets that were shamelessly running non-stop stories. I mean, really! Talk about LAME - covering something that you deem "beneath" you, by poking fun at someone ELSE covering it. It just... hm.. um, let's move on.

So I guess the Oscars were on last night - of course, I would never watch such silliness. Well, I did manage to catch just the beginning. Is it just me, or does anyone else think that all the male leads are trying WAY too hard? Those imitative facial mannerisms and voice inflections that Cruise and DiCaprio use are really starting to get on my nerves. Whatever happened to REAL male leads like Gary Cooper, Clarke Gable and Gregory Peck? Dammit! Now their imitative facial mannerisms and voice inflections were REAL.

So Scorcese finally won. At least, that's what I hear - Like I said, I only watched the beginning. There is just something about that guy. I can't watch him without thinking he's going to break into a standup routine at any moment. Still, it was a great acceptance speech. At least, that's what I hear.

Hey, here's a ground-breaking headline! (no pun intended. seriously.) The coroner associated with the Anna Nicole Smith saga is trying to convince people that they should get the body into the ground - quickly. I mean, hasn't it been weeks? Does this guy really have to convince people? And then there's this drama over paternity and custody. I mean, married men are stepping forward, claiming to be father of the child. ReallY? 'Cuz like, I didn't even know you could do that. I'm going to have to rethink my whole paternal strategy. First, I guess I'd better run it all by the Headmistress, just in case she isn't familiar with this new social heteronormativity.

Anyway, you know you're in trouble when there's a nasty battle over your estate, and a guy named Howard Stern appears to be your only voice of reason. So now all these tourists are flocking to the Bahamas, where Smith will eventually be buried (presumably, just as soon as she's finished with her decomposition). I seriously don't know why the rest of the world doesn't like us.
Seriously?! You think a guy named HOWARD STERN should get a former Playboy Bunny's corpse?Oh, I suppose you think YOU should get the body?Puhleeeeeze!  Get a life!Now we're talking!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gone Swimmin'

The Headmaster, whom you may recall went fishing yesterday, has fallen in and is now smimming in it; he's up to his eyeballs in work. Posts will be sporadic, at best, over the coming weeks.

Stay tuned, I don't swim very well...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Gone Fishin'

The Academy is closed today. The Headmaster is out fishing. For a paycheck.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Blogger Smack-Down: Part I

K, listen up, bloggerhood. This is a good, old-fashioned smack-down. Here is the challenge:

1 - Write a short story for the photograph above in 1,500 words or less
2 - Submit it to the Washington Post Valentine's Day Fiction Contest
3 - Post three teaser excerpts over the course of the next three weeks

My first post, from a rough first draft:

Just like yesterday and the day preceding it, today's pattern will be drawn from an interwoven series of forced distractions, each eventually fading as she gravitates again and again to the voice in the message - young, impetuous, and fun. Wending their way into the most vulnerable recesses of her brain, his words will lodge there long enough to spawn perfectly unthinkable thoughts. She'll hang up and stare off into the distance, trying to shake them and suppress the pain she feels in her heart. It is impossible to escape the uneasy feeling that each time she listens to the message, she slips imperceptably further off course - perhaps .055 percent further. Slowly, she is drifting away from order, stability and security, toward something unsure and unpredictable, in a way that she finds at once exhilarating and quietly horrifying. It all seems so irreversible, as though an unstoppable internal timepiece, whose silent advancement reverberates clearer and louder than any alarm clock ever has, plots an impending arrival time down to the nanosecond.

She replaces the handset, switches off the alarm and retreats with a sigh into the disheveled silence on her side of the bed. "Brian, get up."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Extreme Resting

Snowboarding was ostensibly invented to push the envelope on an already daring sport, and take it to the extreme. I think it was actually invented to divest Joshua of his allowance money. Now that they've gotten his last dollar, I'm sure the sport will fade into oblivion.

Not long ago, a friend suggested a weekly parent/child playdate that would enable Josh and Kyle to get some time away from each other. Most people are shocked to learn that Josh and Kyle had, until just recently, spent less than half an hour apart since birth. That half an hour came about only as a necessity, since the car we'd just purchased had only two seats, and they both wanted a ride in it. Before the car had made it around the block, each was sorely missing the other.

So a few weeks ago we started a weekly playdate that we call "free pass". They each get an official "pass" that entitles them to an hour or two of Mommy or Daddy time. Today, after weeks of finding excuses, we gave them their second free pass.

Josh was adamant that we go to Dick's Sporting Goods so that he could buy himself a snowboard. Seriously? 'Cuz that $50 allowance and tooth-fairy money that's burning a hole in your pocket won't even pay the SALES TAX on a snowboard. Still, he persisted, so off we went. WAY back in the corner of Dick's Sporting Goods store, between the snow sports section and the skateboard section, Josh found an obscure area called "Cheap Snowboards for Kids With $50 to Blow".

Since he couldn't possibly wait until we got home to try it out, I headed over to Columbia Gateway and found a construction site - in a few places where the site wasn't oozing red clay muck, it had some decent snow-covered mounds. In spite of a sour disposition brought on by the thought of red clay all over my truck's interior, we had a blast! Joshua was actually quite good at balancing himself down the slopes. In the end, it was well worth the 25 pounds of muck that we tracked back into the truck.

Back home, all the kids got involved, and the Headmaster spent the afternoon chasing an unmanned snowboard down the neighbor's hill. Even after I'd dragged all my tools out into the snow and fashioned an ankle leash, the kids still managed to become separated from the snowboard, and I still had to chase it, and the leash, down the hill again and again.

Now, all is quiet. Joshua has no money, and I have no idea how I'll ever manage to drag my sore butt out of this bed. I can actually hear every muscle in my body groaning. In the next room, there is a steamy, hot shower with my name ALL OVER IT. Except that between here and there are 15 steps that certainly DO NOT have my name all over them. Where's the ski lift when you need it most?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Son of Beckett

You may recall that in an earlier post, I had a mission to Kill Beckett. I am happy to report -- Mission Accomplished. And I'm not talking any of that swagger-on-a-carrier-deck soundbite BULLCRAP. uh-uh. This is a done deal. I personally cut him into a dozen pieces and loaded him into a dumpster at the Howard County Landfill. So long, Beckett.

However, as is often the case in the sordid underbelly of the oil industry, revenge reared its ugly head this afternoon.

After the oil delivery truck left, I tried to fire up the furnace. I started, of course, at the thermostat. This little exercise in deja-vu failed - I'd failed miserably at a similar endeavor earlier in the day at Cornerstone Church. At any rate, no button on the thermostat seemed to be connected in any manner with the actual heating device.

Down in the furnace room, I removed the furnace cover and recoiled in horror at what I saw. There, staring down at me with eyes of fury, was Son of Beckett. Unfortunately, my screams went unnoticed, since the family is pretty much used to them at this point.

I was, however, pleased to find a large red button, conveniently labeled "RESET". Seemed promising. One touch and the oil burner fired up immediately - all seemed well. Until I got the cover back onto the furnace, and the burner promptly shut itself back off again. Undaunted, I tried again, this time pushing the red reset button all the more firmly. Once again, the burner cut off the instant I got the cover back on. Beckett was toying with me. After playing his cruel game for half an hour, I decided to call the service company, and request an after-hours "emergency visit" (read - financial emergency for you and your family).

Fortunately, the fellow on the other end was very perceptive - sensing my keen mechanical insight, he said he'd try to talk me through the restart procedure. Since the procedure he described seemed to require every tool I owned, I asked him to call me back in five. I ran to the garage and began to assemble an impressive array of hardware. My cell phone rang.

"Okay, you ready?"
"Yup, lemme run back downstai...... SHIT!"
"uh, everything ok?"
"No. I'm locked in the garage."

Of course, all the door-banging in the world couldn't have possible been heard down in the opposite corner of the basement, where the family was huddled around a space heater.

"Uh, sir? Maybe you need a few moments?"

I got the instructions from him, ran outside, banged on a window, and managed to get someone's attention. I bled the oil lines, and everything seems to be working. For now.

But Beckett still lurks.....

Baby, its cold outside...

"You're only as good as your last film"

This quote, which is often attributed to Myrna Loy, is generally applied to all areas of professional and personal life. Baseball pitchers are only as good as their last game. Writers (and bloggers) are only as good as their last story. Lovers are only as good as their last romantic gesture.

So as you can imagine, the Headmaster was feeling quite proud of himself, having performed admirably this February 14th. Thanks to the timely advice of a certain esteemed member of the bloggerhood, I chose to go with a simple, yet thoughtful, handmade card. And going somewhat against the conventional wisdom, I sent a dozen roses.

Note to the guys: roses are good (nay, required) when your wife works. The key is to have them delivered to her office, where she can gloat over them to her coworkers.

The Headmistress was quite pleased with me, I must say. Until about 1:00 am this morning. That's when we were awoken by the sound of icicles forming on our noses. It seems the Headmaster let the oil tank go a little too low this time around.

Yeah, that didn't go over so well. That new laundry room I built? That bedroom makeover? The venetian plaster wall treatment? Uh, don't mean a thing now.

That new 5-burner, electronic ignition gas cooktop with range hood I installed? Its not quite so awesome when it becomes your only source of heat.

So what you gonna do now loverboy? Its pretty cold out there on the back porch, isn't it? All the Valentine cards in the world won't save your ass now...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Freeze Frame

On this cold, cold morning, I just felt like taking some photos...

The fire pit

Egg and dart coping on potted plant

Stained-glass view of backyard

Valentine's faux pas

Faux pas - closeup

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fighting Back

In the spirit of recent bloggerhood activities, here is something that you may not know about me. I have a superwoman sister.

Its funny because, like most superheroes, she does a good job of covering it up. Meeting her for the first time, you might not associate her with super human powers. But looks and demeanor are deceiving. I think she just may be the strongest of what was a very large litter (we are, after all, Catholic).

Now don't get me wrong. I was blessed with the lion's share of the Chandler good looks, intellect, wit and strength. But Elizabeth came just two years after me, so she rode the coattails of my aura and picked up on a lot of those traits. Hey, I don't mind - its the least I could do.

Yet, in spite of my generosity, it hasn't always been easy for her. She has dealt with a great deal of adversity in her life. At one point, she worked the streets of Washington, D.C. as a hooker (customer's face removed to protect the good looks, intellect, wit and strength of the innocent).

Elizabeth, far right. Pat, exerting bad influence, 2nd from right.

Through it all, Elizabeth has managed to raise one of the finest blended families you'd ever hope to meet. We're talking about the quintessential All-American family - the kind you watch and admire. And its all due to her strength and perseverance.

These are qualities that will help her now, through the biggest challenge of her life - neuroendocrine small-cell cancer. Don't doubt for a second that she will prevail. She is that strong.

Yeah, don't piss her off.

Happy Valentine's Day, Sis.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Aw, I'm always it...

I've been tagged, and now I'm it. I'd better get to it before someone else uses one of the few other bloggers I know.

Five things you don't know about me:

1: I mooned Senator Joe Biden

2: I had to pick tampons out of my boss's office plants

3: I was escorted through Ronald Reagan Airport by four prostitutes

4: I was nearly gang-banged in a limo, and barely escaped with my life

5: I've had a total stranger ask me how big my "package" was

Oh, and all five things happened on the night of Clinton's first Inaugural Ball. Pat - no additional information, please.

ok, so Mrs. Quad, Nurse Jhonni, Gustavo, and Chrysti, you are IT.

Hey, I never said I was good at math.

I Got You, Babe

My cat loves me. Yes she does. She loves me so much that when I walk in the room she splays herself on the flloor in front of me and gives me that "come hither" look. I swear, I can hear Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" playing in the background somewhere.

My cat is in heat. Oops! Guess I shoulda kept that Veterinarian appointment last month.

The poor little thing sashays herself all around the house, just begging for someone to help her out. Thank goodness they don't make lingerie for cats, 'cuz things would get really weird around here if they did.

Anyway, I hatched up this plan to get everyone out of the house, then take her down to the barn and see if I could get her a little action (of course, I'd wait outside). With all the tomcats hanging out in my barn, putting her in there would be like lighting a stick of dynamite. It would be worth having grand-kittens just to hear the fight.

But I didn't do it. I don't know, I realized that I kind of like the attention - you know, having someone constantly look at me like I'm ALL THAT. I mean, is that wrong?.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Kinky Blog

Tonight, I was really struggling to write a blog entry. This was discouraging, because when I review my last 100 posts or so, I can't help but think that I've run out of ideas, or I've run out of words, or both. Each entry is more difficult to write than the last, and each entry seems to be less inspiring than the previous one.

So I decided to take some action. I mean, something had to be wrong, and I needed to get to the bottom of it. And if I was going to get to the bottom of it, I was just going to have to bust through the bedroom wall. I mean, certainly there had to be a kinked ethernet cable, or a loose Cat-5 plug, or something that was clogging up my blog pipe.

Well, I'm happy to report that I found the problem in the Cat-5 ethernet plug. A reversed blue- and green-striped connection was constricting my writing style, and a loose blue wire was preventing all my good blogs from getting out. But its all fixed now.


Yup, its all cleared up now.

Mm hm.


hmm. Maybe there is a kink in there somewhere too.

Seriously, I ran Cat-5 cable back to the bedroom 'cuz the signal from the wireless router wouldn't reach back there. So now I can lie in bed all day eating bon-bons and writing little blog jewels. Well, I've got the lying and the eating part down. I'm sure the writing part will come anytime now...

All On

There's something very appealing about betting it all. Something about operating with reckless abandon that suits me. Forget managing your risk, hedging your bets, diversifying your... whatever it is that needs diversifying. Its all or nothing, baby. Take a chance, cash 'em in, go for broke, stick your neck out, lay it on the line. Lemme see what you got.

"Put up or shut up, people! You can't touch this. You think you bad? Huh? You think you BAAAAAd? I'm ALL ON, baby!"

"Jim, sit down. First of all, its "All In". Second of all, this is only the first hand, and I haven't even finished dealing. Jaysus! Chill out, will you?"

See, I stink at poker. I don't know how to be reserved. I don't know how to be cool. In fact, I probably wouldn't play the game at all if it weren't for that "ALL IN" thing. Gawd, I LOVE doing that!

A delapidated fixer-upper at peak price way above neighborhood comps? Variable-rate, interest-only loan with 10-year balloon payment? Triple my mortgage and take on some very expensive headaches? Pay closing costs for the sellers, their in-laws, and their babysitter's parents too? YYYYES! I AM ALL IN!

But its not just the betting. I can't deal either. Clockwise, counterclockwise - I can never remember. Burn and turn? What the HELL is that? And I can't manage the chips. Why do they have SO many freaking colors? I can't even remember the names of the games, much less how to play them. Mexican Sweat, English Stud, In the Hole, Down and Dirty, Screw your Neighbor, In-Between, Flop your Nuts. Its all so baffling. I'm always left feeling isolated and confused, and yet... strangely aroused. I forget whether a full house beats a straight. Crap, what's a straight again? How many chips do I put in? Are three Aces good? Is it my turn yet?

Yeah, my friends LOVE it when I come to poker.

I belong to a poker club, of sorts. We play maybe 4 times a year, with rotating host. It all started back in a former job, when a bunch of us would gather, maybe 30 times per day, to play a game called "Liar's Poker". Its a game you play with a dollar bill - the serial number is your poker hand. Except you build your best hand based on ALL the unseen serial numbers from ALL the players. And the point of the game is to lie your ass off, but don't get caught. See, THAT I understand. Anyway, we REALLY played it a lot. I mean, when you stop at the bank on the way to work to get a stack of fifty clean dollar bills, you kinda got a little problem. But DAMN we had some fun.

Now though, its all about Texas Hold 'Em. And people are freaking out about poker these days. I mean, people used to trade stocks, but now they're supplementing their income on And after playing themselves into a pasty-white, bug-eyed plasma glow, they come to poker night ready to KICK YOUR ASS. God help you if you push on a ragged flop - they'll be up in your grill, pointing out how incredibly stupid you are. Damn, when did sitting around drinking with friends get all competitive?

I stopped going. A few of us have started a splinter group that meets occasionally, with rotating host. No cards, no chips, no flops, and nothing "In the Hole"? Good food, alcohol and cigars? I'm ALL ON.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bill-Payin' Fool

This is the first installment of a whole "BoreBlogging" series.

According to Wikipedia:
   Boreblogging: Writing about personal matters that are barely interesting even to the writer.

I suppose one might argue that this defines my entire blog. sigh....

Anyway, today was bill-paying day. And you know what that means... put on some headphones and listen to music videos all day. I only paid one bill, but I listened to a lot of good music. Here are some of my favorites from today.

Shirley Manson. There is no more to say.

Garbage - Milk

Ok, seriously, this is the best music video ever produced. Stephane Sednaoui has done a number of Bjork videos, but this was the best. Yeah, the music rocks, but the video is so simple its almost zen-like. Standing on a flat-bed tractor trailer driving through the crowded streets of NYC. She also did a nighttime version, and I had a difficult time deciding which was better. In the end, I really love her energy as she moves around the flatbed on this one - classic Bjork. She didn't move at all on the nighttime one.

Bjork - Big Time Sensuality

I really like the Sneaker Pimps, although they pale in comparison to Portishead. Mostly because I love the whole trip-hop genre, even though it was rather "trendy" - WAS is the operative word, 'cuz its time has come and gone. Kinda like me.

Sneaker Pimps - 6 underground

Ok, I admit I'm a Limp Bizkit fan of sorts. They certainly have their limitations, and their videos (including this one) are juvenile male-fantasies. And this is one of the only songs suitable for consumption by the general public. Something about combining rap with head-banging rock REALLY appeals to me for some reason.

Limp Bizkit - Take a Look Around

Why don't they make good grunge music anymore? I really miss Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, etc. This is standard rock concert footage. But daaaammnnn - I swear I'd do Eddie Vedder.

Pearl Jam - Black

Ok, Korn kicks it - straight up. It scratches an itch somewhere. Its like taking the 90's band "Living Color" and kicking it up several notches. And this is a cool video, although I'm not sure what it all means. I can't stop listening to the music long enough to concentrate on it.

Korn - Freak on a Leash

Yeah, all their stuff is exactly the same, but again, I really like the combination of rap and rock. Shinoda and Bennington compliment each other, but it gets old after a while.

Linkin Park - In The End

Weather Wars

Sen. James Inhofe (R Ok), who serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, recently exposed the truth about global warm-ongering. I mean, he really blew the lid off this thing.

Inhofe: "Its all about the money. I mean, think about what would happen to the Weather Channel's ratings if people stopped being scared."

HA! In your FACE corporate...-ish America! We're not swallowing your "weather reports" anymore!

"Increased cloudiness, continued warmth and a chance for rain in the evening? Sorry, not buying it.

"Afternoon breezes, 10-15 mph, with gusts to 25 mph? Yeah, nice try.

WE KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING - you Weather Channel fat cats with your big lobbying money! We know that you topped your own record for the biggest annual profit by a U.S. company last year, racking up earnings that amounted to $4.5 million per hour. We know you posted net income of $39.5 billion - despite a 4 percent drop in earnings in the final three months of 2006. We know you spent a record amount as one of the top Capitol Hill lobbyists. And we know that you won the dubious "Worst EU Lobbyist" award in 2006, for your shameful efforts to dispel scientific data on climate change. Oh, wait... damn, that was all Exxon Mobil - my bad.

Still, you've been exposed, you Weather Channel... "meteorologists", you. So take your scam somewhere else man - its cold as SHIT outside!

And thank you Mr. Inhofe, for setting the story straight on this "War over the Weather". (Jesus Christ, why is everything a goddamn war these days?)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Shoot me now

Everyone who has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for a while probably has a Wilson Bridge story. I remember spending the night on the bridge once. It was 20 degrees, and since I typically ran my car with less than a dollar's worth of gas in the tank, I couldn't run the car all night. Which didn't matter, 'cuz it was an old Volkswagon Beetle that had no heat even when the car was running.

But my all-time favorite Wilson Bridge story was one I read in the Washington Post, some time ago. This guy was traveling through the area with his family on I95 North. He got a flat tire just as he entered the bridge from the Virginia side. You may recall that the Virginia side of the river, at that spot, has a couple hundred yards of muck at low tide. Anyway, after getting his family out of the car and positioned in a relatively safe place, he returned to the vehicle to fix the flat tire. As he was getting things out of the trunk, he saw a car speeding towards him, and it was obvious the car wasn't going to stop. So he did the ONLY thing he could do - he jumped over the jersey barrier to escape certain death. A couple of seconds later his car was totalled and he was chest-deep in muck (his family was fine). While he stood there stuck in the muck, he must have reflected back on how, just a few short minutes earlier, he'd been sipping his coffee and talking quietly with the wife.

Today, I was that guy - figuratively speaking. Yesterday, I was Mr. Mom, happily unemployed. Then I got the call at about 7pm. This morning, I was up at 5. It was 8 degrees out. I rushed out the door and schlepped my way around the Beltway with a bazillion other poor schmucks. I drove to Charlottesville for a day-long meeting - my first in YEARS.

I too did my own reflecting. I thought about a commercial I'd seen during the Super Bowl. Portrayed in a rain-forest setting that resembled a "Lost" episode, these office workers were sent running for their lives when management called a meeting. Hundreds of these office workers ran past a security guard and dove off a cliff to certain death.

At one point during today's meeting, the thought of jumping off a cliff did occur to me. Hey, its a paycheck.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

Today the students conducted a science experiment involving sound waves. After receiving a lecture about sound and how it travels through matter to the tympanic membrane (exasperated look - "Daddy, do you mean, like, the eardrum?"), they were given an experiment involving a tin can with a string attached. The students put the string into one ear, and then closed both ears up tight with their fingers. The instructor would then speak into the tin can on the other end, and the students would see if they could hear what was being said.

It went something like this:

Instructor: "Hello, Joshua."
Student: "Hello, Daddy!"
Instructor: "Can you hear me, Joshua?"
Student: "Yes, Daddy! This is cool!"
Instructor(recognizing an opportunity): "Joshua, can you please go clean your room?"
Student: silence
Instructor(a bit louder): "Joshua, please go clean up your room!"
Student: silence
Instructor: "Joshua! Why can't you hear me?"
Student: silence (cocks head to one side - with puzzled look, for effect)
Instructor (softly): "Joshua, go play some video games."
Student: "THANKS, DADDY!"

Caught Red-Handed

Today the students updated their birding journals. While its kind of a bummer my camera doesn't have remote shuttering capability, I was able to use the interval timer to get these shots...

House Finch

Tufted Titmouse


American Goldfinch