End of Weekend Randomness

For absolutely no reason at all:


Happy Thanksgiving

I leave you with a drawing from a series I created many moons ago. I attempted to give turkeys some ideas on how to hide at Thanksgiving. This was one of my favorites. Enjoy but enjoy tomorrow even more...


Tuesday Tracking

In October, Dave Fiore encouraged me to apply the Google Analytics code to this blog. I entered this phase of my blogging “career” with more than a little trepidation. The whole purpose of this blog is to give me an outlet to rant, share and create, regardless of who reads it. To actually see the hard numbers of the traffic on the site was potentially intimidating. Sort of. Since Oct. 16 (when I installed the software), the results are about what I expected in terms of total visits (445) with 84 unique visitors. I have had a high of 19 visits on several days and have never experienced a day with no one showing up. (Thanks for that mom and dad; keep up the good work!) What has been the most fascinating aspect of the reporting is that I have had visits from nine different countries. Having a daughter in Italy helped with that stat as well as my insistence that she check my site when she visited Norway. Some of the other countries are more puzzling. Iran, Brazil, and Poland all have one visit and the United Kingdom and Germany check in with two visits each. Canada is the other lone “single digit” country with four visits. Since the first group visited but never returned I will surmise they showed up by mistake but it is still pretty cool to see the countries listed. (No, the thought that my site did not interest them never crossed my mind. Why do you ask?) I promise I will not bore you with this information on a regular basis but I thought one report of the report wouldn’t hurt. Who knows, it might entice my new friend from Tehran to visit again.

Tuesday Trivial Tableau


Friday Musings

I rode the bike home from work again yesterday. Without a headwind and armed with some familiarity of the route, I arrived at the house five minutes earlier than Tuesday. Okay, five minutes is no record savings but it was an improvement. One thing that I am excited about is I am able to use my honed “whispered greeting” skills as I ride the bike, thanking the cars that do not pull out in front of me with a wave and a mouthed “thank you.” The circle of life continues.

I could not find the television remote last night. Nothing can make you feel more foolish than envisioning how you look as you crawl around the floor looking under chairs and cushions for the lost device. It is a powerful little machine, not only in its control of your TV but, maybe more so, in its control over the user. Unfortunately, the new TVs are practically useless without a remote control (which is what every person searching for one swears is a fact) so finding it was paramount to my plans for later in the evening (see the next paragraph). It was finally located but in a very odd, but explainable, place. Apparently it had been swept up inside a blanket that was stored in its proper place under the coffee table. The odd part was it had somehow made its way inside the blanket—a handmade quilt—so I had to sit on the sofa and push it around the edges until I found the hole it entered from. The things we do for love.

Last night I spent some quality time on the Man Porch. My wife was off at a meeting and the boys were not home so I ran the double-double. The TV in the house (visible from a chair on the porch) was displaying the Thursday night college football game and the TV on the porch was showing the FSU/Stetson basketball game. I burned a Sancho Panza, ate some plain M&M’s and enjoyed the cool weather. Although outcomes are not critical to Man Porch success, both teams I was pulling for won. Another stellar night at home.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to watch sports with no emotional attachment to the outcome. To simply watch a game and admire the quality (or not) of play. It will never happen—it is too late—and it could be what makes the games so enjoyable is the emotional investment. I think you could still appreciate a good play or lament a mistake but, at the end of the game, still be able to say, “Good game” and not care who won. Would that be a refreshing experience? Or an empty exercise and a waste of time? Discuss amongst yourselves.

This morning I discovered that the difference between a cheese and veggie omelette purchased from the cafeteria is onions. The letter of the law was not in my favor.

Stay warm and enjoy your Friday and your weekend.


Alternate History Through Doodling

Below is a flow chart I created during a teaching at church. I am not sure when this was, it is not dated, but it is a fascinating (or not) glimpse into what can happen when I hear an Old Testament word that makes me chuckle and I decide to rewrite history. In this case, there were several chuckle words and the following chart was the result. Any true Bible scholars may want to check my accuracy (or not) but I suggest you just let it ride. I will only blame the research interns and they are so easily replaced. After the chart I have offered a synopsis in case you cannot decipher my handwriting. When the ideas are flowing I cannot be expected to practice excellent penmanship. Besides, it’s hard to write neatly when you are trying to hide what you are doing from the nosy parishioners sitting around you (as well as your wife).

The Evil Line of Babylon
It all starts with Japheth. He sired four children: Gomer, Magog, Tubal and Meshach. At this point, the evil begins in earnest (who was a distant cousin and did not make an appearance on this chart).

Gomer married Lou Ann Poovey (this is good) but then had an alleged affair with Sgt. Carter (this is bad). (Bad=Evil.)

Magog begat Eggnog who begat Agog (an emotional, shocked leader) who begat Gag (this is bad). (Bad=Evil.)

Tubal begat Two balls who begat Three Balls (the first juggler) who begat Mimes (this is bad). (Bad=Evil.)

Meshach begat Youshach who begat All God’s Chillin’ Gotta’ Shack who begat Shaquille O’Neill (who is bad because he dumped the Magic for the Lakers). (Bad=Evil.)


Random Thoughts from the Weekend

I have noticed a rash of commercials using text as the main graphic device, popping it on the screen in the rhythm of the speech cadence. Add a few graphic elements and music to jazz it up and they can be fairly effective. We used to do these type of vignettes using Flash more than a few years ago. We would place them in online educational Web sites. I loved to storyboard them and they were pretty effective in their use of animated text to tell the story. If I was cynical I would suggest this is yet another time I was about seven years ahead of my time but I’m not so that thought never crossed my mind.

After our trail ride on Sunday I have decided that I enjoy the more technical trails with a lot of tight fits between trees and cutbacks that rely less on speed and more concentration and control. This could all be based on my bike which is, to put it politely lest it somehow read this and get its feelings hurt, built for things other than speed. Yesterday was a beautiful fall day, the temperatures in the 60’s, clear sky and the trails were pretty clear despite the two days of hard rains last week. I also have started noticing, finally, that I am getting a bit more acclimated to the hills. I know this because I have moved beyond the desire to lay down and take a nap after a particularly hard climb. Now I just want to rest my head on a tree. Progress.

Another note about the bike ride yesterday: I wore the skeleton shirt my brother and sister-in-law bought me for my birthday and received another “nice shirt” on the trail by someone I crossed paths with. So far, all but one comment has been by a female. I don’t know what to make of that but I will try not to read too much into it. Let’s keep this away from the scientific research realm and just accept the compliments, okay?

I have one comment about the FSU debacle on Saturday: When the punter is the leading rusher, things did not go as planned.

Once again I was reminded how incredible technology is when it is used for good. Like allowing me to talk to my daughter in Italy as if she is just around the block and especially when we can hook up video chat and can see her in real time. It tends to melt the distance somewhat. Now when they come up with a virtual hug that feels real, it would complete the process. Or it will mean we are on the fast track to Creepy Town. I’ll have to decide when we get there.

I am going to attempt to ride the bike home from work on Tuesday. I have treated this like a military maneuver, mapping out the safest route, solidifying plans with Hope to drop my bike and me off at work in the morning, buying a lock and an outrageously bright orange vest to wear for visibility reasons. I realize I am not breaking new ground and there is a distinct possibility that I will never want to do it again after 6 p.m. Tuesday. But I must give it a try. Pray I avoid any interaction with automobiles and that I make it home before it gets completely dark. Updates to come.


Hand Made

I am currently working on the family Christmas card, trying to get it in some semblance of ready before Thanksgiving. That has been my personal deadline for years so thus it shall be in 2008. I enjoy creating the card, trying to come up with something different that I can pull off with as little outlay of cash as possible, so I am not complaining. I created my first Christmas cards on a “mass” scale in 1981. I’m sure I was trying to impress my fiance with something creative and 27 years later I am still trying to impress her (but now she has been my wife for 26.5 years). Trying to stay thrifty usually means it will be designed so that it can be copied onto card stock or bond paper and assembled by hand. Not quite at the level of using a letter press but practically the modern equivalent. (In fact, if I had a letter press you can believe I would be using it.) I like the idea that each card has been touched by my hands—minimally messaged, folded and stuffed in an envelope—and I have refused to go the route of laser generated labels in lieu of handwriting the address on each envelope. Combine that with the randomness of the placement of the stamp and postal ink and I am assured that every person on our list is receiving a unique card. What I regret is what I am doing is almost a lost art. Heck, I’m still using technology to the point that I’m hard pressed to refer to the cards as “hand made” in the traditional sense, but there is still some art in the process along with the manual labor (not ignoring that we send out over 100 cards every year which makes me appreciate the little technology I use). I find the entire process very satisfying.

I wish I could make money doing this kind of thing but I am afraid that would necessitate moving to some mountain town and getting in good with the local shops so they will display my wares for the tourists to buy. And when the visitors ask the proprietor’s who created the collateral they can talk about the crazy man on the mountain and they can all laugh. Nervously. The man on the mountain may very well be crazy but he’d be happy.


Quick Hit

I found it humorous to read of all the worry and gnashing of teeth in regards to how awkward the first meeting between the Bush and Obama families was going to play out at the White House. President Bush has survived and risen above eight years of ridiculous name calling and having a sit down with someone who only called him a failure was not going to bother him very much. I am sure W was gracious and professional, just as he has always been, and that the meeting was not awkward at all. Besides, if anyone knows how clueless President-elect Obama is, it would have to be George W. Bush. He was in the exact same situation eight years ago.


Brush With Greatness

Watching some of the celebration and documentary style remembrances for Bobby Bowden’s 79th birthday I was reminded that I have an Ann Bowden story. Yes, it would be much cooler if I had a Bobby Bowden story instead of a story about his wife, but it’s all I have so everyone will have to deal with the almost-meeting-famous-people-but-usually-meeting-their-spouse life. One day several years ago my mother-in-law called me and asked if I could do her a favor. I dutifully agreed and she informed me she had a friend who owned a rowing machine that she was tired of and had promised to another friend. The issue was they had no way to get it from point A to B and thought, since I owned a truck, I could help them out. (Anyone that owns a truck has heard this spiel more than once.) I agreed to help, got the address of friend A, convinced a buddy to help me and we made our way to the house to pick up the rowing machine.

When we arrived, we found out the machine was upstairs and had to be maneuvered down the narrowest set of stairs ever designed by an architect. The task was made more difficult by the 100 framed pictures lining the wall of the stairwell. Once we finally had it in the truck, the previous owner of the machine informed us that the new owner was only two houses down the block. I did some mental calculations and realized we were delivering the rowing machine to Bobby Bowden’s house. Pushing aside the ridiculous notion that the Bowden’s could not afford to buy a new rowing machine (and pay someone to deliver it to their house) I got excited. We followed owner A to the new owner’s house where we were greeted warmly by Ann Bowden, Bobby’s wife, at the front door. My friend and I carried the machine into the house and were told we needed to deposit it upstairs (of course, although her staircase was wider). Once we had the machine in place, Mrs. Bowden asked me to show her how to use it. I reluctantly climbed in the seat and showed her the few things I knew but quickly got up, feeling a little awkward.

As soon as I was standing, Mrs.Bowden jumped on the machine and decided to see if I had taught her anything. She eventually got everything moving in synch and seemed quite pleased with herself. The rest of us stood around and watched, slowly wishing we were elsewhere. When she finally finished her impromptu workout, she looked up at me and said, “This is going to be great, especially for my legs.” At this moment she reached down to her shorts-clad legs and grabbed the inside of each thigh with her hands and started shaking the loose skin. “As you can see, I have some work to do in this area.” Horrified, I found I couldn’t move which was a shame because I suddenly had a desire to leave. Instead we all chuckled uncomfortably as she cackled and then I helped her up out of the machine. We quickly said our goodbyes and accepted her thanks. Once outside, sitting in the truck, I looked straight ahead and told my friend, “We must never speak of what we witnessed today.” He agreed but, since I cannot remember who it was that was with me, I decided to break the vow. Thus ends my brush with greatness.


The Day After

I voted for John McCain. That is probably not a mind expanding revelation to anyone who knows me, but I wanted that out of the way before I say what I have to say. I am disappointed with the results but the historical gravity of the election is not lost on me. Forty years ago a man of Barak Obama’s race was using a separate water fountain and restroom; today he is president of the United States of America. No matter your preference of candidate, that is a pretty remarkable thing. I can take some pride in that as an American.

Barak Obama is an enigma, one of the least vetted candidates in the history of our elections, so that makes it really difficult to anticipate what is next for him and for our country. So that means I will pray. For him, his decision making, his safety, his family and that he has Divine wisdom for however long he is president. I will also pray against the nastiness of the last eight years and that he does not have to endure the vile hatred that engulfed George W. Bush throughout his eight years in office. The natural response from the right will be to jump into the fray and “pay back” the left, applying the new rules they invented, and gloat when the inevitable mistakes are made. It was ugly and uncalled for then and turning the tables makes it no less wrong. I pray mature, sane people will start making the rules and learn to enforce them.

And I will also pray that all Christians—regardless of denomination or race—will never rely on anything but God for their security and peace. Never a government, leader or idea. Man and his schemes will inevitably disappoint us but God can’t and won’t; there is no greater anchor. So take the time to refocus, carve out time to read your Bible every day and listen for direction and Godly wisdom. And then follow it. And do not lose focus on the simple guide for living that Jesus gave us: Love God and love people.

The times are always interesting but for some reason I think they are getting ready to take a very interesting turn. We cannot always control the outside forces but we can make choices about the inside. Be ready by being secure in what you believe. Then enjoy the ride, peacefully.


The Day Before

Words of wisdom to bear in mind over the next 48 hours (and forever).

The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.
Proverbs 16:33