Friday, August 31, 2007

The Crows Are Talking

If you are an animal person- the kind that despises anyone that hurts any animal- don’t read this post. If instead, you are ok with the general concept that some creatures can be classified as pests, and humans may on occasion rid their domestic dwelling from such pests, then you will probably be ok with this. Read on.

We had in infestation of crows. Big ugly screaming crazy crows. They tortured other birds, ruled the land, and continually fouled our water fountain in the front yard. I decided to take care of it the only way I know how. My trust Daisy BB gun.

For several days I took pot-shots at them, never really coming close (BB guns are not noted for their accuracy beyond about 6 inches). I finally downed two of them. And it seemed to have sent a message to the local crow community.

I have heard these creatures are very smart and very aware of their surroundings, including threats. The word is out about DigitalRich and his scary “fire stick.” We are down from 15-20 crows that were continually patrolling the property to an occasional 2 or 3 that show up every few days. And if there are any crows in the area when I step outside the racket begins. I really think they are warning each other that the crazy man with the killer BB gun is out and about.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Couple of Murphy’s Laws of Cell Phones

1. Any new cell phone will be dropped and scratched immediately AFTER removing the protective plastic cover from the screen. Usually several days after one gets a phone and has spent those days wondering if the cover could be kept on permanently.

2. One will only remember to set a cell phone to vibrate when entering a meeting or move theater when the battery is about to die and no calls can be received.

3. If a cell phone owner owns an extra batter, AND remembers to charge it, it will be forgotten at work or home on only the days it is needed.

4. Important calls that are waited on all day only arrive when the battery is about dead, or when the only dead cell zone in the geographic area is about to be entered.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The 405 North, LA

In LA on business, but no rental car today. I just landed 30 minutes ago and am now in a cab. Have two meetings in Hollywood, then a cab right back to the airport this afternoon to head to Denver.

I have never taken a cab in LA, and now that I think about it have always driven myself around these parts.

This particular cab is a van, providing me with a view into the cars that we SLOWLY pass on the highway, or pass us. Here's a running coomentary:

Mom text messaging while a baby sits in the backseat. Man dozing off almost laying down with his seat fully reclined. Woman singing her head off to some latin song. Man watching a movie on a laptop in the passenger seat. Older man and woman looking straight ahead and very somber.

Fortunately I didn't see anyone in a rage pointing a gun around, and no police chases.

Well, the GPS is talking to my cab driver and telling him we're almost here. I guess LA is too big for the cab drivers to know how to get around without it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

School Lunch

Today Michelle and I went to our girl A's school for lunch. It's her 9th birthday today.

We've been there before for lunches, and planned on buying lunch at Puckett's to bring with us- the last thing we wanted to do was actually buy lunch AT school again. Not only is the food bad, but there's not much of it. Which, I guess, is a good thing.

We ran out of time and had to do it- we had no choice if we wanted to eat with A. We got in line with a few 3rd graders and went through the line. We were shocked.

We had a nice sized chicken breast filet/chicken finger thing with honey mustard and BBQ sauce, baked potato with cheese and sour cream, steamed broccoli with cheese sauce, side salad and a roll. Sweet iced tea instead of 1% chocolate milk that tastes like college-ruled paper completed the meal.

I think I might bring a few clients there for lunch meetings. Not sure you can best that meal for only $3.00.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Can Do It

For several days I watched her struggle with the assignment. It was fairly simple- for her English class K had to interview a classmate assigned to her and ask him 10 questions, then assemble the answers into an oral report to be given to the class. The teacher required each report to be between 2 and 3 minutes long.

K's problem with the assignment was simple too. Firstly, despite her best efforts, she could barely get the words she had written to stretch beyond one minute. The second is of course her fear of public speaking. According to the Book of Lists, it ranks number one with most people when asked what they fear most. Number two is most often death.

Michelle mentioned to K that I might be able to help her, since most of my life I have written and rehearsed words to be delivered to hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people. On many occasions I have done it off-the-cuff, and despite a natural fear of public speaking I have managed to conquer it for the most part. I listened to Michelle encourage K to ask me for help (I was sitting on the couch nearby) and observed K's response- she shrugged and told her mom she could figure it out and would work on it more in the coming days.

She reminded me of one of our families favorite animated characters- Lola. She always tells her older brother Charlie “I can do everything that’s anything, on my own.”

Last Wednesday night, the night before the report was due, I watched K argue with one of her sisters. K was standing in the kitchen next to the microwave using the timer button by setting it to 2 minutes and trying to get her latest revision of the oral report to get to the minimum mark. She was still barely over one minute. Her sister was nearby making a racket doing one thing or the other that was distracting K and causing her to reset the timer again and again. I suggested to K that she take my Blackberry and use the stopwatch software I had and go in the other room and practice. As she came to get my phone I let her know that I was here and ready to help her if she needed it. She thanked me, said she could do it by herself and went in to the other room.

Sometime later she came back into the living room and sat beside me. She smiled, and then asked if I could help her. Finally, I thought.

I read through her report and pointed out where she could expand on her subjects answers, use more descriptive words to paint the picture of how he answered the questions, especially the hard ones. I uncovered more and more information about her interview that she never thought to capture in the report. In under 10 minutes we had expanded the report to run over 3 minutes so we had to go back and cut a bit. Within 15 minutes she was done.

On Friday morning I had coffee with a friend at my favorite local coffee shop, The Good Cup, in Franklin TN. Few people know about this place, so it is so much more pleasant to have meetings there rather than at Starbucks. We chatted about several things, and I recounted this story for him. He pointed out something rather interesting to me. He thought it was a wonderful illustration of how we interact with God. He is there. We are here. We need his help. He knows it, and waits on us to reach out to him- to lean into him for help and guidance. And too often we try to do it on our own. We struggle, push, pull, fight, fail, tire and then throw our hands up in frustration saying “this simply can not be done.” Then, in desperation and as a last resort, we come to the Father. We say simply- I need help. I cannot do this alone.

And he helps. And either we succeed with His help and direction, or we learn that what we have been trying to do all along may not be what we should be focusing on and we are led or directed elsewhere. The whole time he is there, waiting, for us to turn our face and heart to him. He is always faithful and there for us.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Old Hardware & Software

A quick organizational burst brought out a few cluttered boxes of stuff from one of our storage closets. In it were obsolete software titles (3D Landscaper, Microsoft MapIt, some graphic design stuff, old games) as well as old hardware (a couple wireless routers from 1995, a modem or two, and a few things I cant exactly recall what they are).

These are like old friends to me. They have absolutely no use to me, and its not like they would mean much to the folks down at the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

I can barely bring myself to throw them out. So I don’t. I just packed them back away but neater this time.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Rise And Fall Of A Small Business

My mother is rather creative, coming up with ideas for products and businesses that she jumps in and tries. I think it’s where I got that trait from as well- though her track record for actually launching them is better than mine.

She called up recently and asked if I could help her launch an eBay store for a little doohickey thing she made several versions of and sold to a little gift shop near her home. She wanted to take a shot at retailing them herself online.

The Travel Jewelry Pouch is a nice idea- compact with little pockets for rings and necklaces, and a large area in the middle to hold oversized jewelry. She made them in tons of different colors and designs.

She came over the house on a Friday night and I helped her lay them out with jewelry for some product photos, edited and cropped them, and then set her up with an eBay and PayPal merchant account. I had her ready to load new products in no time at all.

Then the hard part came. What do you want to charge for these? She wasn’t sure, but thought $19.99 was reasonable. I did some quick competitive research and found some similar products online for as little as $5, but many at the $10 range. I asked her what her cost of goods were (knowing that she would not really know what I was talking about and I would get to tease her a bit) and she didn’t know. We walked through her cost of materials (fabric, rope cord, thread) and her time (took her about ½ hour to make one).

We came up with a cost of about $4 per item in materials, and another $5 in labor (assuming that she wanted to make $10 hour for her time). So, our rough COGS was $9, and assuming a cornerstone mark-up, that did put us in the $18 range. Problem. While her pouches were hand made with the finest materials and lovingly stitched together with top-notch designs, she still had to compete with Chinese made versions with crappy fake silk for $3.99.

We launched the store at $19.99. No bites. Tried a lower price. No bites. Oh well. At least she tried.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Brave, Almost To The End

The day started crisp, clear and painfully hot. Yesterday was our 15th day of 100 degree weather in the lovely Greater Nashville area. R was excited to have the day begin- it was her first day of kindergarten.

I was uplifted by her enthusiasm. She was so ready for this day to come, and looked so cute with her backpack on and a smile ready for the world. This was her day. She was officially a ‘big girl.”

In contrast, her older sisters that had started school the week prior, saw today as just another school day. The faces were long, eyes sleepy, and bodies moving slowly. R was unfazed. This day was the start of something new. A new chapter in her life, a new independence, a new world really, filled with new friends, teachers, fun, games, and walking the hallways in single-file while looking up at the giant 6th graders. Her spirits were soaring.

When I watched her, and listened to her talking about how excited she was, I could almost…barely…remember a glimmer of my first day at school. Disjointed flashes and images come to mind. I think I can remember what my class looked like, I think I see images of a blackboard and a lunch room when on Friday’s we could get ice cream cones for 20 cents.

She had not a trace of fear in her- she was good to go. Until it was time to leave her classroom after dropping her off. Then everything changed. The tears flowed, she hugged Michelle and said she was afraid. Michelle wouldn’t let go and started to tear up. I played my part in the drama- “Michelle, come on, its time to go. R will be fine.”

We left as the teacher kindly jumped in and hugged R and showed her to a table with puzzles and games.

Several hours later when Michelle picked her up, R was on top of the world again. She was so excited about her first day and couldn’t wait for the next. She wait until dinner to tell us about her day. We typically have our other 3 girls tell us about their school day during dinner conversation, and she could finally participate.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Picture and Story 9

Here is a photo of my wife Michelle (left) and her sister Jackie taken sometime in 1969.

What a couple of cute kids. It’s so hard to imagine that we were born in a time when b&w photography ruled, as did b&w TV.

Home movies were rare, and the moments and images of our lives so seldom captured for us to later recall and reminisce.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cows At Night

Most people have at least one thing that creeps them out. Something that, when thought about or confronted with, raises the hair on the neck and makes the heart skip a beat. Or several beats.

For me, it’s rather weird and obscure- it’s a scene in a movie that I couldn’t finish, and the few seconds I watched it has stuck with me the years that have gone by since I saw it.

It really freaked me out. In the movie “Ghost Ship” there is a scene where the crew and passengers are on the deck of a cruise ship enjoying a starry night and dancing while the ship’s orchestra plays on. A steel cable on the ship snaps and whips across the deck at an amazing speed, slicing each passenger in half at about waist level in an instant. The orchestra slowly stops playing as each passenger’s upper half slides off their lower half and drops to the ground with a thud. Their legs stand a moment longer and then crumple to the ground.


Guillotines freak me out too. It’s the whole “hey, my head or upper torso just got separated from the rest of my body..crap…what am I going to do now?” thing. Its freaking me out even now….I have to stop for a bit…I will be back shortly to finish this.

I’m back. So, anyway, my wife Michelle has her own thing that freaks her out. While spiders and other creepy crawlies (including field mice that find their way into our house) scare her, the thing that FREAKS HER OUT are cows. In fields. In the dark.

We live in an area with large properties, horse farms and pastures filled with bovine characters of every stripe and color. At night, as we drive the rolling winding roads our headlights occasionally light up a portion of a pitch black field…and there…starting ominously at us like they’ve been waiting for us all night…are…..cows.

I like to flash the high-beams and point out various patches of cows to Michelle as we drive. She doesn’t appreciate it.

She can’t really explain why it freaks her out… she quite loves cows during the day. She has always been partial to them, and even slows down to a near stop while driving the roads (IN THE DAYLIGHT ONLY) to "ooh" and "aaah" at the newly born calves that hobble along next to their mothers. But at night, they transform into the creatures of her darkest nightmares.

What freaks you out?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Volleyball Game

Last night girl #2, L, started her volleyball career. Even though she is only in 6th grade, she made the A team (7th and 8th grade team) and got her playing time a few minutes into the first of two games.

She was so nervous yesterday before the game she thought she was going to throw up- just like she felt before the first fast pitch softball game she pitched this past spring.

It’s so easy to get worked up before the big…game, meeting, project, anything where others are counting on our performance. I had something similar a few weeks ago where I had to be “on” in a big way, and it was killing me. Then, once it started, it flowed naturally- I had been thinking about it and working on the project for some time, and the practice paid off.

I told that to L, and asked about how she felt during the game- certainly once it started and she made her first few serves (she made all her serves over the net last night) and big plays her nerves settled and she had a great time…right? Nope. She felt like she was going to throw up the entire game.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Walgreens Stalker

When I was in high school I had a math teacher that allowed his students to raise the grade of one test each semester, by one grade level, if we brought him home-made chocolate chip cookies. He encouraged us to understand the value of each test, what our grade average was currently, and the impact of raising the grade by one level for each particular test to find the best time to bring him cookies. We thought it was a bribe. He was actually teaching us math the whole time.

Last night I had to go to Walgreens and buy a box of staples. There is a connection here…stay with me. My daughter K told me that one of her teachers told the class he was short on staples, and anyone that brought him a box of staples would get 10 bonus points. I found this both interesting and disturbing. Needing chocolate chip cookies I get…being a teacher at a school in one of the wealthiest counties in the US and needing students to bring in staples I don’t get. But hey, 10 bonus points for K’s GPA. I’m in.

I headed out to Walgreens about 8PM last night and arrived in the parking lot about 15 minutes later. I pulled into a parking space right next to another car. As I got out I glanced at my parking lot neighbor, a mom and her young son, who looked at me warily. I don’t blame her- she was vulnerable right next to me in a surprisingly dark parking lot as she was getting her young son out of her car. I followed her into Walgreens. Not purposely- she just happened to be right in front of me and we walked in together.

She of course headed right to the school supplies aisle. I followed her. She stopped a few feet into the aisle and was looking at the school supplies right where the staples were. I waited near her. She glanced at me a couple of time and I smiled. She didn’t. She seemed very nervous and concerned with my continued presence, especially after I snapped the picture of her shown above. She moved on down the aisle while I grabbed the staples and headed a few aisles over to get bread for Michelle. After that I went an aisle over to grab the obligatory Starbucks Coffee Frap (a Walgreens ritual for me). She was there. Getting a gallon of milk. She looked at me again and I smiled. She didn’t. She left and disappeared around the next aisle and I headed to check-out.

Of course the mom and her kid popped out from an aisle in front of me and walked towards the cash register too. As she approached, she turned and saw me. I ended up right behind her in line. After I paid I headed out to the parking lot just as the lady got into her car. She pulled out as I started my car, and I assume she breathed a sigh of relief. I pulled out from the Walgreens parking lot and of course she turned right- that was my way home. I turned behind her and we both stopped at the traffic light on Downs Boulevard in Franklin. She was turning left…and so was I.

We both traveled down the road towards a relatively lightly populated part of the county where I live. It’s a long drive down route 96 west, and off we went, the nice lady, her son, and me. Miles went by. I was thinking that this lady certainly must think I’m a nutcase stalker out to get her, and I hoped she turned left into Westhaven- the last development in the area- so I could cruise on by her. Nope. She continued on and so did I. Several miles later as we approached my turn off she put her blinker on to turn left. I did too. She slowed down noticeably and turned her blinker off. She then put it back on, and turned left onto the road that runs by my house. I followed her. Another few miles were driven and I can only assume she was calling someone on her cell phone for help. She was weaving quite a bit probably watching me in her rearview mirror. We finally got to my house and I turned off the road onto my driveway and for the first time in almost half and hour I wasn’t right behind this stranger.

So, did I imagine she was concerned (or freaked out)? If you are a woman, and this happened to you, what would you think? Oh, one more thing...I was kidding about taking the picture on this post. I found it on Google images :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chocolate Chip Waffles

Several years ago, sometime after a Halloween when the house was awash in chocolate, I made my fairly regular Daddy’s Breakfast for the girls.

On a whim I asked if the girls wanted crushed Hershey bars on top of their pancakes. After a loud and resounding yes from the crowd, a tradition was born. It’s got a bit out of hand.

Now, after a few years have gone by, and hundreds of bags of chocolate chips consumed, the “chip-count” per pancake or waffle has risen beyond the acceptable level. With pancakes I can control it somewhat (when I add them at the griddle versus manual application at the table by the girls). With the frozen waffles, which the girls can make on their own, the standard number of chips is now up to 20.

This came as a surprise to me as I plopped little R’s waffle on a plate this morning and asked her how many chocolate chips she wanted. I couldn’t remember if the standard was 8, or 10. Perhaps 12. “I’ll take 20” was her response. After my expressed surprise and refusal to surrender that many precious particles of chocolate she informed me that was how many the girls used now. I guess it’s like a chip for every single indention in the waffle.

Nope. I gave her 12 and let the household know that was the top limit of chocolate for breakfast.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I Like The Beatles More Than Aly & AJ

Sweeter words were never spoken by any other 8 year old girl. It happened while driving to dinner at Macaroni Grill. I had made a mix CD to play out by the pool a few weeks ago, loaded with some of the best Beatles songs (not all well known), and it ended up in our family van.

Michelle was driving- I was just too exhausted after a long day. I leaned back in the seat, closed my eyes, and let the Beatles pour out of the speakers. All four girls have learned most of the songs and were singing along.

During one of the quieter songs- I think it was Across The Universe- A mentioned casually that she liked The Beatles more than Aly & AJ (the nearly undisputed music heavy weight with the girls. Switchfoot and Relient K are up there too). All 3 of the other girls agreed, and a couple even mentioned The Beatles were their favorite group.

My life is complete.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dirt Pie For Dinner

I thouroughly enjoy The Drudge Report ( The site is often slammed as a right-wing news outlet, but I cant understand that at all. Drudge doesn’t say a THING on his own… he simply culls from the vast selection of domestic and international news outlets and provides links directly to the source, without editorial comment.
Below the news are tons of links to opinion sites, blogs and news sites. Through it I have discovered some very interesting sites. When I am bored and want a laugh I read North Korea’s Newsites. They never fail in spewing Orwellian newspeak, and calling black white. Its like the NY Times on steroids. Here is a ‘headline’ from today’s edition:

Western Countries Using ‘Human Rights’ Claims to Conquer The World

Pyongyang, August 17-- Rodong Sinmun today in its editorial article calls for resolutely frustrating the imperialists' "human rights" offensive, noting that it is a grave factor of preventing the independent development of each country and nation and threatening the global peace and security. (WHAT?)

The imperialists consider the "human rights" offensive as important leverage in carrying out their strategy for world supremacy, the article says, adding that it is, in essence, intended to force other countries and nations to introduce the "model of human rights" of Western style in a bid to Westernize and Americanize the world.

The danger of the offensive lies in that it is used as a lever for openly interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and infringing upon their state sovereignty and a prelude to the war of aggression against other countries, the article notes, and goes on: The above-said offensive is mainly targeted against anti-imperialist independent countries, the revolutionary countries.

The offensive against socialist countries is the most persistent and vicious of the imperialists' reactionary "human rights" rackets. The imperialists' moves to destroy the politico-ideological unity and the collectivist way of life of the socialist society have reached a phase of dangerous actions. Their offensive is fierce as it is aimed at defaming and bringing down the socialist state and social system.

The main thrust of their offensive is to slander the leadership function and role of the party. Thoroughly frustrating the imperialists' "human rights" offensive is the key to winning the victory of the popular masses' cause of independence against imperialism and consolidating and developing the socialist society, the article points out, and continues: The practical experience of the Korean revolution clearly proves that it is important to firmly defend the country's sovereignty and adhere to the revolutionary principle, the working-class principle in order to smash the imperialists' "human rights" offensive.

It also proves that it is necessary to hold aloft the banner of Songun in order to foil the above-said offensive. It was entirely thanks to the Songun policy that the DPRK government could take a series of self-defensive measures to protect the country's sovereignty and dignity in the period when there prevailed a touch-and-go situation and greet the dawn of a great prosperous powerful nation after victoriously concluding the "Arduous March," the forced march.

Songun precisely means the life and soul of the Korean people. This is the faith they enshrined while weathering out stern trials. They will hold higher the banner of Songun in the future, too, and eternally glorify Korean-style socialism where genuine human rights are fully guaranteed.

I can almost see in my mind a proud and patriotic North Korean peasant reading this while eating a dirt pie and drinking muddy water and raising his arms in celebration at the great strides his nation and party are making in improving his life. Assuming of course it is daylight (see above picture to see North Korea versus South Korea at night), he has electricity, and a computer, and internet service...and can read.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Friday Is Important Again

Summer is over. School is back on. And the days are gone when our kids would not remember what day it was. That phenomenon starts a week after school lets out, and ends abruptly on the morning school starts up again.

For almost three months the wonder and excitement of Friday’s has been gone. Tomorrow, however, the magic will be back.

Our exhausted and beaten-down kids will suddenly have their spark back. Laughter will come to their world again. They will seem brighter, lighter, and ready for the new day.

Why? Because it wil be FRIDAY! The end of the week! No school the next day! Sleeping in, no homework! The world will be right again.

Oh, one more reason... High School Musical 2 premieres. The kids are about to lose their minds.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Old Men?

I am getting to that age. I had a dinner meeting with two other gentlemen, both in their mid-50s. I am still 15 years away from that, thank goodness, but got a glimpse of what is to come.

As I prepared to enjoy a fine meal, a lovely merlot, and a mix of business and personal conversation before our real meeting with the whole team the next morning, things went sideways.

One of them talked about a medical procedure he had awhile back, and that started a full hour full of medical horror stories of cancers, heart attacks, lost friends, scars, surgeries, prostate issues, and much more. Much more.

I could barely enjoy the meal while I listened politely and didn’t say a word.

I thought this was supposed to start in the late 60’s or early 70’s after retirement?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Picture and Story 8

First, the cast of characters- from left to right: Fireman #1, My dad, my nephew C, my sister Carla, and Fireman #2.

Now the story… Carla was leaving my parents house on a lovely 100 degree day, and buckled C into his car seat. The car was running, A/C on, and she closed the door to go back in and get baby J to put him in the car.

While this was happening, C unbuckled himself, climbed into the front seat, locked the doors, and proceeded to check out the contents of Carla’s purse. When Carla came out to put the baby in the car all heck broke loose.

C wouldn’t unlock the doors, and probably didn’t quite understand much of anything. Besides being 2 years old, the music was BLARING out of the speakers thanks to C cranking up the volume.

Things really got out of control when my dad came out to see what was going on. He gets a little wacky under stress and all he could see were two possible outcomes to the horror he beheld in his driveway: 1) C would shrivel up and die in the heat when the car ran out of gas later sometime the next day and the A/C stopped. 2) C would shift the car into drive and crash into the house killing all occupants in the house and car despite the emergency brake being on.

And so…the fire department was called. They got C out in no time at all, and you can see from the photo at the top my sister was not embarrassed at all by the episode. And C’s look pretty much says it all- “what in the world is going on here?”

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Monday, August 13, 2007

High School

So it happened today. I drove my oldest girl, K, to her first day of high school. The moment she left the car and headed to class, with her gorgeous hair flowing down and walking as tall and beautiful as her mother, it all hit me.

It seemed the weight of the world lowered onto my heart. A pain covered me and tears flowed as I drove away alone in the car.

My little girl is in high school. There are only 4 years, 208 weeks, 1,456 days, and 24,944 hours before college.


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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Gatlinburg, TN

The two most amazing places to see the culture and the people of the true south have to be Graceland and Gatlinburg.

We came up here to the mountains this weekend to escape the Nashville/Franklin heat. A balmy 88-90 degrees instead of 100+.

As always, we were amazed at the number of motorcycles, tattoos, mullets, tank-top tees, big hairdos, cigarette packs in tee shirts, cut-off jeans, skull caps, air-brushed art, pancake houses, wedding chapels, souvenir shops, old tyme photo places, taffy machines, Ty and Webkinz stuffed animals and Daisy Dukes.

We gave in and let the girls get an Old Tyme Photo. We fit right in. Scary.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

July 1993 Heat

Here in Nashville, like much of the south, the heat this week and last is unbearable. Consistently over 100 degrees, the oven is turned on full blast and we have had about enough of summer. Sure, those in Arizona and Nevada scoff at a mere 100-105 degree heat- they regularly endure 110-120 in the hottest days of summer. But I have been there on those days…and I would take 115 in Tucson over 105 in Nashville ANY day.

Michelle reminded me that she has much more experience dealing with intense heat without relief than I. In the summer of 1993 Michelle was near full term with our first child, K. I had to head out to a convention the first week of July and we reasoned that since she was not due for another couple weeks it would be ok for me to go.

My boss got me an open ended ticket and I could fly back from Atlanta on a moments notice if I needed to. I tried to get out of the trip altogether but my company wouldn’t allow it.

No sooner had I landed in Atlanta than my cell phone rang and Michelle informed me the air conditioner in our apartment had broken and the temps outside were well over 100 degrees. The thermostat in the apartment read 98 degrees and rising. The bad news? Our apartment complex told her it would be 4-5 days before they could fix it.

She spent that night alternating between bed with a couple fans pointed at her, and the bathtub with ice cubes poured in. The next day she had to check into a nearby hotel by herself. Her mom drove up from Gaithersburg MD to Allentown PA where we lived to keep my miserable wife company for the weekend.

I, on the other hand, enjoyed 24/7 air conditioning, fine dining, parties and events all that weekend and into the next week.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

After 300, These Are A Few Of My Favorite Posts

Today is post # 300 at DigitalRichDaily. For bloggers that have been at for awhile, or those that post multiple times a day, that is no great feat. However, as a once a day poster, it’s a pretty big deal for me.

I will take this occasion to remember a few past stories posted here that are my favorites. I think I was inspired by my post yesterday. In that spirit, I am pleased to announce to you that this blog has been voted the BEST BLOG on the internet (by me and my family). Here are my favorite dishes for your enjoyment (in no particular order):

Our Families Off-Road Adventure
Fly The Friendly Skies
Switchfoot And Stolen Cars
Rain In The Middle Of The Night
Follow The Leader
The Almost Great Leipers Fork Fire
Showdown At The Carmike Cinema Corral
The Love Letter
Unanswered Questions
Experminenting With Forms Of Government
My A-ha Moments
My Worst Presentation Ever
The Great Race
I Couldn’t Make This One Up

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Voted Best Restaurant!

That's the message on the highway billboard sign that convinced our family to exit and dine at a Knoxville restaraunt. As we arrived the message on the front door of the place almost drove us away- an Italian restaurant with southern roots. For a moment I thought perhaps they meant southern Italian, which is most decidedly different from the north of Italy.

Nope. They meant exactly what they said.

They are trying to be a fine dining establishment, but they blew it with the special. When the waiter showed up he told us about it – “a nicely baked scrod (Scrod is defined as any sort of ‘everyday’ white fish that is often unidentifiable) sprinkled with Ritz cracker crumbs and baked to perfection!”

I opted for the ‘Italian Sausage, Shrimp and Grits’ which the waiter assured me was his favorite. Michelle went the safer route taking the joint up on its Lasagna. My food was disgusting, consisting of de-tailed shrimp looking particles that probably came from the bulk frozen aisle at the local Costco, while Michelle’s looked almost exactly like a particularly gruesome possum road-kill plate.

‘Steve’ is the owner, the waiter told us, and my guess is that he and his family were the sum total electorate that voted on the best restaurant in Knoxville. As we got back on the highway we saw Macaroni Grill off the next exit. I had a fleeting thought of the ancient Romans and their vomitoriums. I sure could go for a nice Spaghetti Bolognese.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Amazing Coincidence?

Last month I wrote about a film that impacted me personally (“Being Right” is the name of the post, not the name of the film). It really helped me see what the world sees in me when they find out I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. And its not pretty. The film has not been released yet- looks to come to theatres sometime in the first half of 2008.

Oh the world seems to gravitate to most of the teachings of Jesus, and many even think he was a pretty cool guy. But wrap American Christianity around someone, and they are seen as a pariah. So many outspoken and hurtful people have cloaked Christianity with a heavy coat of weights. Judgmental proclamations, pointed fingers, shouts of “hey- look at that sawdust in your eye!” (if you don’t get that last one, check this out).

So, anyways, yesterday I met up with a gent here in Franklin TN who runs a marketing consulting firm. As we started our pre-meeting chit-chat I told him how I’ve been (a response to the standard greeting of “how ya been?). If you know me personally, and you don’t feel like hearing me drone on for way too long, don’t ask me. I tend to really answer that question honestly.

In my response I mentioned this film and how I had the opportunity to screen it as part of my work for a client. He told me the filmmakers, Dan and Jeff from Portland OR, were across the street at a lunch meeting with someone from his staff. I couldn’t believe it. Neither could he.

After our meeting, at my friends recommendation, I wandered over to Puckett’s Restaurant and introduced myself to Dan and Jeff. I told them I had seen their film and was greatly impacted by it. I told them what a wonderful job they had done. They asked me how I had seen it and I told them I downloaded it from an illegal peer-to-peer file service. There was an instant there they believed me and they didn’t seem very thrilled.

How amazing. How weird. Yet again, something that in no way could be coincidence. Impossible. Here’s another one- one of my clients- a friend, was in Italy with his wife a couple weeks ago. While there, wandering the streets of Milan, he ran into a mutual friend and former co-worker Greg, his wife and two kids. They hung out a bit and remarked on what a coincidence it was that two people from the same small town in TN, friends, would run into each other in a city of 5 million, 5 thousand miles away.

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