Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You Really Can't Get Good Help

For many years, we've had a lady come to the house a couple of times a month to do the big cleaning. You know, the floors, the bathrooms, that kind of thing. She doesn't do windows. She doesn't do laundry. If there are dishes in the sink, she doesn't put them in the dishwasher. Most of the time, she leaves dust on surfaces. She has never cleaned a ceiling fan.
We agreed to a price. She has accepted our money. We've given her a cash bonus every Christmas. She's not the best housekeeper in the world, but she has been reliable about showing up. She has been trustworthy in the house. Those two things on their own have great value.
Knowing she was coming today, my wife wrote a note asking her to vaccuum the sofas and this one chair. It's pretty reasonable request. She left the note along with a check and left the house for the day.
When she got home, there was a note from the housekeeper saying that she did not do the couches. She wrote that what we have been paying her is outrageously low...that after she buys gas to get here from wherever she lives and brings her own supplies, the fee she earns "even makes it lower." Can I emphasize that she agreed to the fee, that we never asked her to bring her own supplies and that where she lives is irrelevant since she took the job?
Here's the kicker, keeping in mind that this is something like only the second time we've left a note asking her to do something specific: she finished with a flourish, "so to add extra duties not gonna happen." I guess respect and punctuation would require an extra fee.
Know what else is "not gonna happen"? She's never setting foot in our house again.
So, I need someone to come to the house a couple of times a month to help us clean up after ourselves. We'll buy the supplies.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Whaddaya Know? She DID Sing!

We were graciously given two tickets to tonight's Shreveport Opera event at the Riverview Theater. So, to the culture we went. We enjoyed the evening. It was an excuse to kind of dress up and it got us out of the house. The music was Mozart, and we all know Wolfgang could get it done. Patrons of the arts, particularly our benefactors, may not truly appreciate what I endured.
See, the NCAA Tournament was going on while we were listening to the pretty singing. Villanova and Pittsburgh were engaged in a classic tournament game....one for the ages, I'm told. I wouldn't know. I was at the opera. Oh, and our Arena Football team opened its season tonight with a one-point loss. While I was at the opera.
I might have been oblivious to all of this, except for a combination of modern communications and some abusive friends. My Blackberry was abuzz with text messages and Tweets about the games. Abuse was being heaped upon me. At approximately the same moment there was an on-stage death, I was forced to surrender a chunk of my sports fan credibility as Villanova drove the length of the court to score a game winning basket with five-tenths of a second remaining in the game. I kept my electrnoic correspondents amused by updating Twitter and Facebook from my seats in the orchestra section.
If there is a bright side, it is this: I was able to get absolute confirmation of an enduring truth. The opera is indeed not over until the fat lady sings.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Different Kind of Broadcasting

I was offered another opportunity to be on the radio, but this experience was unlike any I have had. I was part of the pledge drive for Red River Radio, the network of regional stations affiliated with National Public Radio. I was on the air for an hour with amiable host Kermit Poling.The delivery for public radio is decidedly different from that used on your typical sports talk program. It's more laid-back and the subject matter has a tendency to be a little more highbrow.
I made what I hope seemed like heartfelt pleas for contributions. After all, Red River Radio would not be on the air without the finanical support of generous listeners like you.
It was interesting, because I assume there's very little crossover audience between this network of stations and the listeners who might have stumbled upon my little dog & pony show all the years I was on regularly. I got some nice feedback, especially from people at work, many of whom know me only in the context of my duties there. One nice man even sent me an e-mail saying I sounded "very professional." It was a nice compliment. Does that mean I get paid?

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Brink of Humiliation

Originally uploaded by Darrell
I drew an assignment, on a hard deadline, to take some aerial photos. My little journey to North Carolina for the NCAA basketball tournament, combined with more than a week's worth of low cloud ceilings in advance of the trip, put me under the gun. Here is evidence that I made it . What you can't see is how aggressively I flirted with disaster in the process.
I had to have the photos by close of business Monday. The day dawned overcast, but by midday there was a break in the clouds. That was the good news. The bad news was the wind, which was whipping around at almost 30 miles per hour.
Did I say I had to have the photos? So, up we went in a Piper. Yes, airplane, not helicopter. This meant circling my targets while being buffeted by ridiculous winds. Literally bouncing my head off the ceiling of the plane while trying to focus with a long lens, I began to sweat like I had faucets attached to my forehead. Then, I started having hiccups. Could a lunch refund be far behind?
Somehow, I willed myself to not hurl. Somehow, I got all my photos in color and focus.
Then, it was time to land. During final approach, the tower issued a wind shear advisory. "Oh, swell, we're gong to drop like a rock." Fortunately, the landing went much more smoothly than the flight. When I found terra firma, the pilot looked at me, giggled and said "you look like you've had the flu for a week." Trust me, I felt like it, too. I said "this is my punishment for taking three vacation days."
A couple of good things came out of the experience. for one, I satisfied the client and delivered on time. Most importantly, there's a new story to tell. I'm supposed to do this airplane photo tour once a month until further notice. In April, I plan to stay around town to give myself more options for flying in better weather.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Random Sights From the Regional

(Greensboro, NC)- At a sporting event of this magnitude, you expect to see sports celebrities. Since it was a basketball tournament, there were instantly recognizable faces from the hoops world; but I was caught a little by surprise when University of Texas football coach Mack Brown walked right past me.
It was impossible not to notice the LSU entourage. In a sea of two shades of blue, Purple and Gold stood out in the crowd. The typical Tiger flair certainly helped.

There was some hilarity during the LSU-North Carolina game. The Tiger crowd was small but vocal. They were helped remarkably by the assembled Duke faithful who were sitting on the opposite side of the arena. Duke people hate Carolina so passionately, they became Tiger fans for a couple of hours. They even participated in LSU cheers. The Purple and Gold People would yell "geaux!" and Duke people would responded with "Tigers!" The best part, though, was the response of the Carolina fans, who got fed up and just yelled "Shut up!"
The last word went to the people in the lighter shade of blue, because their Tar Heels won. Duke got even a little later when the Blue Devils beat Texas. So the state of North Carolina is happy.
I must say that in my travels through the years, I have not encountered a group of arena workers, police and assorted officals who were more friendly, helpful and reasonable. The fine people of Greensboro have hospitality figured out. Despite losses by the two teams we were here to see, the stay has been pleasant with a lot of legitimate fun thrown in as a bonus.
So long, Greensboro. Glad to know you.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Stuck in Blue Tar

(Greensboro, NC) - Ultimately, North Carolina was just too blue for LSU. The Tigers fought gamely, even storming back to tie their NCAA Tournament second-round game against the top-seeded Tar Heels in the second half. The Heels had too much fire power and pulled away for a 14-point victory.
This trip has been a nice vacation, a brief immersion into the world I inhabited professionally for a quarter-century. As an event, it certainly did not disappoint. The Tigers were involved in two thrilling games, as were the Texas Longhorns. Neither team advanced, but they really weren't expected to get past the second round.
For me, it has been a chance to spend a lot of time with one of my closest friends and witness sports played at a high level.
I got to goof around with my camera a little, although I didn't try too hard.
And of course, I couldn't possibly pass up an opportunity to get a photo made with a mascot. I waited until the second half of the last game to even try. It's a nice, appropriate punctuation mark to a remarkable week on the road.

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A One-Man Multi-Media Machine

(Greensboro, NC)- I've had the opportunity over the past few days to observe the work of television crews from Louisiana, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Indiana. I'm here to tell you no one is working harder or under more duress than hometown guy Tim Fletcher. He's producing multiple stories for his television stations, providing original web content, and even hosting his two-hour Radio/TV/Web show each morning. He's working an insane pace and is doing so while sleep deprived, hungry and hurt.
I have watched him sustain himself on one real meal a day with an occasional Kit-Kat bar to help him power through. His work ethic and desire to get the most out of himself are something to behold, even though I've been witnessing this first-hand for almost a decade and a half.
Now, he's debilitated by some kind of hip malady which has left him with an obvious limp. He's been in so much discomfort that he's had trouble sleeping. I've been calling friends in healthcare for a few pointers. He was given some advice about stretching and he's been a somewhat compliant patient when he can find the time. We are told his symptoms are consistent with an ailment common to long-haul truckers. Aleve, Advil and Capzasin have him going...but not going strong.
Tomorrow, he faces a fifteen-hour drive home. Trust me, only a well deserved rest can put Humpty Fletchy back together again. But knowing him as I do, I suspect he won't take one.

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Killin' Time in Carolina

(Greensboro, NC) - What a study in contrasts this place is. We had lunch in a chain steak restaurant where it's traditionally popular to eat peanuts out of a bucket and toss the shells onto the floor. Here in Greensboro, we were gently cautioned to throw our shells into a spare bucket because it has been deemed to be some kind of health hazard to drop them at our feet. Yet, here on Tobacco Road it's perfectly okay to smoke away in restaurants. Some things just don't add up.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, my best efforts to find time on a treadmill in the fitness center went unfulfilled. All the machines were in constant use. The guests, at least, are fitness minded. Waiting for a spot, I parked myself in the elevator lobby and just watched people come and go. Fans of Texas, North Carolina and Duke all passed by. Alarmingly, I saw no one from LSU.
I struck up a conversation with a man who seemed studious and revealed himself to be erudite in matters of sport. He was a Michigan fan who lamented his school's inability to lure LSU football coach Les Miles away to lead the Wolverines. He spoke with a great depth of knowledge about college sports in general. It turns out he's an economics professor who left Michigan recently for the University of Chicago. He made the trip here specifically for the NCAA Tournament.
You generally don't think of your average economics professor as a sports fan, but my new friend Kerwin Charles bridges the cultural gap quite effectively. It's nice to know there is some intellectualism in sports, since most of the time it seems essentially primal.
My conversation with Professor Charles was the highlight of the morning. Things are sure to pick up when the Tigers and the Tar Heels tip off a little later.

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Wild Times in G-Town

(Greensboro, NC)- There is life in Greensboro, after all. You just have to stay up late to see it. We started Friday evening at a restaurant called Ham's, which apparently is a local chain. The place we visited is across the street from the hotel, so there was no thinking involved. It's in the Applebee's/ Chili's vein, so it served us well as a venue to watch games on TV.
The traveling companion and I are by far the oldest people in our pack of Louisiana media types, so the young folks herded us out onto the road. First was an obligatory stop at Hooters, which was two doors down from Ham's. I mean, can you go to a sporting event in any town in America in a group of guys and not stop at Hooters? I don't think so.
Then, it was back downtown where thankfully we passed by the legendary Natty Greene's and wound up at a nightclub called Stumble Stilksins. It was a great setting to watch basketball. It was not a great setting for two married guys in their forties to fit in. The place was a magnet for the city's young and beautiful. They were doing what the young people do on a Friday night. It was fascinating to watch until I realized rather quickly that I was literally old enough to be everyone's father. I just tried to slink back into a corner and wait for a ride back to the hotel.
It was nice to see the nightlife, though. I don't do that very often. Even if I had been inclined to misbehave a little (which I wasn't), the sobering fact that just about everyone has a camera/ video camera/ cell phone in their pocket is quite inhibiting.
So, It's off to bed and back to the business of basketball on Saturday.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Earning My Keep

(Greensboro, NC) - Nobody needs to be thinking I'm freeloading up here. A sad but true circumstance of local media these days is a new emphasis on "videojournalism," or what we traditionally called "one man bands." This means stations send reporters to locations alone and they are expected to shoot their own video and edit their own stories. It's not easy.
The presence of someone with an abundance of experience who is basically a freelancer or "independent media professional" has been welcome news to a few solo artists here in Carolina. I have happily picked up TV cameras for stations from Louisiana, Minnesota and Indiana over the last few days. In exchange, grateful broadcast professionals have happily picked up a dinner bill or two.
Yes, I'm working for food. Hey, it works out. I'm seeing the games for free in premium seating, and there's great value in that.
I've been been out of the business since 2005, but most of these tasks have still come naturally to me.
Oh, there was this one incident. Not a big thing, really. I mean, there are a lot of knobs and switches on this TV equipment and I have been away from it for a while. I shot two stories for a reporter working on deadline. The interviews went well. But later, we walked several blocks and up some pretty serious inclines to record his stand-ups and his audio track. When we got back to the media compound, we discovered that I had not turned on the receiver for his microphone. No sound. Oops.
Hey, you get what you pay for. We did it all over again and to be honest, they were much better the second time around. Can't you say that about many things in life?

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No Games, Little Action

(Greensboro, NC) - Now, this is harsh. A media member this morning described this city as "the butt crack of the universe." That's just not nice, but it says a little bit about the mood around the Greensboro Coliseum on the day between games.
Players and coaches from LSU, North Carolina, Texas and Duke are meeting the media. Our focus, of course, is on the Tigers and their next opponent. The LSU players are in an upbeat mood. Some might say it's because they have nothing to lose. Maybe it's because they're confident as they prepare to play the #1 seeded Tar Heels. Conversely, the Carolina players seem businesslike while their coach runs a comedy riff from the podium.
I have to say I've been impressed with My Main Man Tim, who has proven to be a soundbite generating machine. His questions to LSU plyers in advance of their game against Butler elicited responses about "getting mojo back," and several broadcasters and writers hooked their stories on those quotes.
This morning, he asked the LSU players about their center, 6-10, 205 pound Chris Johnson matching up against All-America Tar Heel center Tyler Hansbrough. The question had to do with what they've said to Johnson about slowing Hansbrough down. LSU's Marcus Thornton said, "I don't think we should tell Chris anything. If he can't get up for this game, he doesn't need to be playing basketball period. Tyler Hansbrough is one of the greatest players in the conference today. If Chris can't step up to the plate like he needs to, he doesnt' need to be playing." Now, that's a quote to build a story around.
There's more elbow room in the media compound today because four teams have lost and the reporters following them have left. But remember, we're in North Carolina, so the local and statewide media is camped out in force to cover the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils. They're competing with one another, so we visitors from the west are kind of sitting back watching them throw elbows among themselves.
All of the real work for the day should be wrapped up by early evening, which means a free Friday night in Greensboro. I think I'll be grateful for the flat screen TV in my hotel room. After all, here in the anatomically disadvataged region of this state, it's all about the basketball.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's Going On in Greensboro

Sadly, we have said "so long" to our friend Dave. The team he was here to cover, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, are one and done in the NCAA's, having lost to Texas. What a terrific bonus to see him, though. It was an unlikely and welcome reunion.
The Longhorns will play Duke on Saturday. The Blue Devils held off a pesky squad of Binghamtom Bearcats to advance to the 2nd round. The Greensboro Coliseum took on a darker tint of blue this evening. Somehow, the crowd from Carolina seemed a little larger and a little louder. I suspect on Saturday, when the Tar Heels' and Blue Devils' opponents are LSU and Texas, it will be pretty raucous in there. I'm really looking forward to it.
There is life in Greensboro outside of basketball, I suppose, even though I haven't found it yet. We have spent two evenings in a downtown landmark called Natty Greene's, a bar/ restaurant where they sell fifteen microbrews along with the steak, crab cakes and a big pile of nachos. It has HD big screens spread liberally around both floors, so how can you go wrong?
I feel a little out of place, an SEC guy in ACC country. The scarcity of LSU fans isn't helping. Hopefully, more purple and gold people will show up in time for Saturday.
Maybe until then there will be time for sightseeing. Since we are neither on the coast nor in the mountains, the challenge will be figuring out what sights to see. I mean, Natty's is nice, but a little Greene goes a long way, especially when we're surrounded by blue.

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We're Sticking Around

(Greensboro, NC) - The LSU Tigers beat Butler in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and this means we get to hang around Beautiful Downtown Greensboro until Sunday morning.
LSU played well, but their next opponent is North Carolina, widely considered to be the best team in this region and one of the top four teams in the nation. So, we will enjoy the LSU season while it lasts.
As teams lose, the media following them start to clear out. So, there's a little more elbow room around here, even now. This is good, because close quarters and a lack of food were a sticky combination. A media person from Indianapolis got into a sarcasm match with a guy from New Orleans, which was simultaneously unsettling and amusing.
The cultural contrasts are worth noting. Midwest values versus South Louisiana sensibilities made for some interesting comparisions. The schools' cheer squads were remarkably different. Butler's girls were in traditional shirts and skirts, bascially in black and white. LSU's women were quintessentially golden, complete with skin-tight pants, bare midriffs and sparkle. There's nothing to complain about here. We were sitting on the front row at center court, and you can't beat that. Now, the question is: can anybody beat the Tar Heels?
One more "small world" moment: we were sitting there in our center court seats and we noticed a guy nearby who looked really familiar. We quickly realized it's Rick Hall, who used to be the head coach of the Continental Basketball Association team in Shreveport. He lived in our town in 1995-96. Now, he's an assistant coach at Radford, the team that lost to North Carolina. We got to spend time time with him catching up on his career. You never know who you'll run into on the road.

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Quick Hitter from Greensboro

(Greensboro, NC) - We're less than a half-hour from the start of the NCAA basketball tournament, and the energy is picking up here in beautiful Greensboro. We had the opportunity to watch the LSU and Butler teams warm up on the court, but no photos were allowed. This is interesting, because there were fans in the stands firing away with their digital cameras. Go figure. You want to follow the rules, though, because who wants to get kicked out?
In the bowels of the coliseum where the media are forced to dwell, folks are getting a little cranky. There's no food available. Before you break out the tiny violins, keep in mind that everybody's working, they're stuck outside the arena in a cinderblock fortress and there's nowhere to go.
A reporter from Baton Rouge took the bold move of going into the arena to buy some "chicken fingers" at a concession stand. How daring. Soon, the basketball will begin and all of this hunger-induced angst will be forgotten.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Feeling Two Shades of Blue and a Little Purple

(Greensboro, NC)-Madness, indeed. How else would you describe driving fifteen hours overnight non-stop to watch basketball? That's exactly what my friend Tim and I have done, and so far it seems worth the trouble. The LSU basketball team is here for the NCAA Tournament. So are the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Duke Blue Devils, the Texas Longhorns, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Three other schoools you probably never heard of are represtented here, too. I mean, everbody needs an opponent. All eight teams were in one building today, which means legendary coaches were prowling around.We're here primarily for the Tigers, of course; but LSU is completely overshoawed by Duke and Carolina. Each of those teams attracted more than 5000 fans to the Greensboro Coliseum today for shoot-arounds. A shoot-around isn't really a practice; it's more of an exhibition. The players take to the court wearing shorts and practice jerseys in team colors and basically, well, shoot around.
Duke fans and Carolina fans hate each other's teams, so their appearences were well-spaced, with a Texas or a Radford or a Butler thrown somewhere in between. The players barely broke a sweat, but the cheers of their assembled faithful were ear-splitting nonetheless. The most piercing screams were for the Tar Heels' tough-as-nails senior Tyler Hansbrough, who seems to enjoy celebrity status on a level with certain rock stars. To his credit, after the event he mixed in with the students and fans and signed autographs for an impressively long time.
Things get serious on Thursday with four games in one day in this building. LSU goes first, but we certainly plan to stick around to watch everyone. If the Tigers win, they will likely play North Carolina next. That game would be on Saturday. If LSU loses to Butler, we will turn around and drive home Friday morning. Frankly, I hope LSU wins because I'm not looking forward to another fifteen hours on the road. At least pushing it back a couple of days would give us a chance to rest. Geaux Tigers.
Tim and I ran into our old friend Dave, who is a sportcaster in Minneapolis these days. He's here to cover the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who play Texas. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to spend down time together. For that to happen, LSU and Minnesota would both need to win. Geaux Geauphers.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

The Digital TV Revolution

It took a couple of dry runs and an annoying number of phone calls to my technophile buddy, but I figured out this tangle of TV cables in my attic and actually added to it. The idea was to get the best possible "over the air" (OTA) signal to my fancy high definition (HD) TV's.
I am convinced that satellite TV is vastly superior to cable, but sadly satellite providers are not offering local stations in HD on their service. Now, don't go arguing with me that the cable companies do have local HD's, because there's no dispute. Point conceded. I can tell you, though, that a good, strong OTA HD signal is much better than the one provided after the signal is squeezed down and sent across miles and miles of cable.
To meet my own HDTV demands, it was necessary to set up a Sattelite/ OTA combo. Thanks to the technophile and no thanks to the satellite installers, I was able to service three HDTV's with one antenna in the attic (with capacity for a fourth.) Awesome awesome awesome. This invloved using six little gizmos calls diplexers, two or three splitters and who knows how many jumpers (short cables), but it's all working fabulously and I have magnificent satellite and OTA High Definition. As a bonus, I'm even picking up some distant OTA signals not offered on the satellite service.
Trying to explain what's over the air and what's coming across the satellite dish to the rest of the family has proven to be a challenge, particularly for the young adults in the house who have never known life without cable or satellite.
All they know is since I moved the antenna from the living room into the attic (diplexers, whatever!), most of their favorite shows are reliably in HD. As long as they know what button to push and which remote control to use, that tangle of cables in the attic is just Dad's problem.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Afternoon Manliness

While these pixellated cell phone photos appear to be clandestine images of some militia training compound, nothing is further from the truth. What you see, instead, is a monumental event. These are hastily captured images of my first experience with firearms. Yes, I lived almost fifty years without firing a weapon.
Today, under threat of emasculation from my friend Andrew, I tagged along with him, his son and one of his friends to a shooting facility out in the country. I am inclined to believe that calling these guys well armed would be an understatement, but I'm not sure that's true. Since I'm not really a gun guy, I have no real frame of reference on the degrees of individual armament. I know they brought along a vast array of weaponry, from handguns to old style rifles to semi-automatic assault weapons. Determined to go big and then go home, I pulled the trigger on every single one of them. Along the way, Andrew's son asked me if I was excited. Hmm. No, I wasn't. I was absolutely neutral on the whole experience. I wasn't scared. Aside from being cold out there, I was comfortable. Those guys exercised an abundance of caution, perhaps because they had an utter novice in their company.
Interestingly, it appeared that I have better aim using my left eye. Now, I have loaded and emptied guns, an everyday event for some but a milestone for me. I'm not planning to spool up and start packing heat, but I'm glad I have some experience. You never know when it might work to your benefit.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

I DIdn't Get My Nap

This being the first day of Daylight Saving Time in 2009, I planned to nap in the afternoon to offset the "lost hour" of sleep. Instead, I wound up in the Great Outdoors rescuing young pine trees.
A couple of years ago, out on the land, we planted a stand of pine. We have been patiently watching them grow and they've been doing so reliably. It's starting to smell piney out there in the woods.
Some kind of weather phenomenon blew a few of them over. It was intersting to see, because there was a discernable pattern in the fallen saplings. I assume it was weather. It might have been a supernatural force similar to that which forms crop circles in England, but that seems farfetched.
So, instead of sleeping, I spent an afternoon staking trees. My father and I straightened them and strapped 'em up. At one point, it dawned on me that I was using skills I learned long ago: making ropes, tying knots, lashing: Boy Scouts!
Maybe in a few years, we can camp out under those pines. I guess that's when I can catch up on my sleep.

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Best Commercial ever

If I didn't already have a MasterCard, I'd go get one because I love the latest commercial so much. How did they do it? I don't know. But the idea of a dinner party including The Gorton's fisherman, Count Chocula, The Morton's Salt girl, Charlie the Tuna, Mr. Peanut, The Vlasic stork, and Chef Boyardee is just inspired. Throw in Poppin' Fresh, the Pillsbury doughbhoy walking around on the table, that's just plain funny. And then, the idea that the Jolly Green Giant is so big he can't come in, but waves at everybody through the window...That just floors me. I guess he can't say "Ho Ho Ho" if he leaves the valley.
While the MasterCard narrator goes through his list of prices on his way to saying "Getting everybody together for dinner: Priceless," the dinner table conversation goes on. At one pause in the narration, the Gorton's fisherman (off camera) asks Count Chocula, "How's Frankenberry?" That is so subtle yet so brilliant. I'm just a little disappointed they didn't bring up the lightly-regarded BooBerry.
When dinner is over, Charlie clears the dishes and takes them into the kitchen to discover Mr. Clean in there ready to was them.
I'm not sure what they're serving. Creepily, tuna casserole, I think. Pickles, dinner rolls and meatloaf seem to be on the table. I guess they had peanuts with the drinks, and there was probably some kind of pasta in there (unless the Chef is just a guest, but he has hit hat on!). There has to be some kind of fish. Everything is salty enough, to be sure....even the vegetables from the valley.
If anybody spends the night, they're having chocolaty cereal for breakfast, to be sure. It's a party I wish I had been invited to.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Who's That Guy With the Camera?

Over the last couple of years, I've snapped a few photos. I've grown fond of saying "I'm not a photographer. I'm just a guy with a camera." This certainly is true. There are many fine legitimate photographers who produce magnificent art with their cameras. I occasionally stumble onto a moderatley pleasing image.
This week, I was thrilled and honored when a local facility rounded up a few of my photos, had them matted and framed, and hung them in a hallway. The images seem to be serious business. They are protected by some kind of special glass which minimizes fading and the nice man who mounted the photos used 'security" hardware, whatever that means. As if anyone would stroll by and lift one of these things to hang above the sofa.
All that being said, I have to admit it's a neat feeling to have my little hobby affirmed in this way. It makes me want to walk down the hall.

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Hot and Steamy

The house "update" project is ongoing. New curtains have been ordered. Can complementary bedding be far behind? Until all of this is properly in place, many of the newly painted walls remain bare, a Spartan circumstance which occasionally leaves me feeling somewhat like an inmate (but just a little). Even the kitchen feels a little naked, despite new floors, countertops, backsplash, sink, and fixtures. The cabinets have been stained, giving the place a completely new look and feel. We're really pleased with all of it. There is one little gizmo which stands out, though.
It's a dispenser for "nearly boiling" water, an innovation we had to push our contractor to install.There's a little self-contained water heater under the sink and from this faucet comes water which is perfect for tea or instant coffee. The water is also hot enough to help with stuff baked onto pots, pans and plates.
In an instant gratification kind of way, this is a real bonus. No more waiting for the water to boil. Sadly, the kettle has been rendered superfluous. It is exiled to the dark reaches of the pantry, where it waits in lonely silence longing for a day when it can again produce enough steam to produce a low whistle. This has long been a clear sign that an energizing hot beverage or maybe a batch of dumplings can't be far away. But now, thanks to 21st-century thinking, we're sipping something steamy a little sooner.

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My Wife the Scofflaw

Never one to be bound by "rules" or "laws," my wife threw caution to the wind and boldly parked on the street outside a local nursing school this week. As this photo clearly shows, she is in violation of the local parking ordinances. Thank heavens for the alert officer who spotted this flagrant transgression and alertly dropped a ticket on her windshield. Hang on a second. Which way is the arrow on that sign pointing? "No Parking Anytime...." Thisaway, not thataway! Would any reasonable person not come to the conclusion that, if you are parking on the non-pointy end of the arrow, you should be okay?
All sarcasm aside, she thought she was well within the Rules of Society parking where she parked. This whole thing has her flummoxed, miffed even. When I saw her, she wasn't exactly flush with anger, but her ears were a little pink. The fact that she took the time to snap photos of the crime scene with her BlackBerry should tell you everything you need to know about her reaction to this miscarriage of justice.
It's a fifteen dollar ticket. The easy thing to do would be to just pay the fine and move on. That usually would be her way, but this time she is stung by the injustice of it all. She plans to go "downtown" and press for an explanation. I've got her back on this one.

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