Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Picture and Story 12

Giant jawbreakers. Or, if you had the money to spend, the high-end brand name Willy Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers®.

I probably spent $100 on these as a kid, and paid dearly for the pleasure with a special sort of pain you only get with this particularly candy.

I don’t know how to describe the pain other than to call it a tongue abrasion. I couldn’t bring myself to stop licking until the pain was unbearable. I think I even remember having my tongue bleed a couple times.

Do you remember? What fun.

I introduced my kids to these this past summer on our mega road trip around the country. We found them in a wooden basket sitting on the floor of a little old fashioned gift store. I got so excited I called for the girls and showed them. They each plunked down $1.50 for their choice and the fun (and the days of sore tongues) begin within the hour.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Shadow Proves The Sunshine

Switchfoot’s “Shadow Proves The Sunshine” is one of my favorite tunes. Check out the lyrics below, and you can listen to the recording at the very bottom of the home page if you like. The shadows proving the Sunshine in the attached photo are of my family at Yellowstone Park this past summer.

Sunshine, won't you be my mother
Sunshine, come and help me sing
My heart is darker than these oceans
My heart is frozen underneath

We are crooked souls trying to stay up straight,
Dry eyes in the pouring rain
The shadow proves the sunshine
The shadow proves the sunshine

Two scared little runaways
Hold fast to the break of day light where
The shadow proves the sunshine

Oh Lord, why did you forsake me?
Oh Lord, don't be far away away
Storm clouds gathering beside me
Please Lord, don't look the other way

Crooked souls trying to stay up straight
Dry eyes in the pouring rain
The shadow proves the sunshine
The shadow proves the sunshine

Two scared little runaways
Hold fast to the break of day light where
The shadow proves the sunshine
The shadow proves the sunshine

Yeah Yeah, shine on me
Yeah Yeah, shine on me
Yeah Yeah, shine on me
Yeah Yeah, shine on me

Crooked souls trying to stay up straight
Dry eyes in the pouring rain
The shadow proves the sunshine
The shadow proves the sunshine

Two scared little runaways
Hold fast to the break of day light where
The shadow proves the sunshine
The shadow proves the sunshine

Yeah Yeah, shine on me
Yeah Yeah, shine on me
Yeah Yeah, shine on me

Shine on me,
Let my shadows prove the sunshine

Sunday, October 26, 2008

90% Weed Free

Today at lunch my wife Michelle expressed to me (read that as complained forcefully) that the rest of the family doesn’t help out enough in keeping our landscaping weed-free. She certainly bears the brunt of the back-breaking work- bending over pulling weed after weed, one at a time.

Its no small feat. I would estimate that we have somewhere around 2000 square feet of landscaped area. Estimating between 1-2 new weeds per square foot, per week, you can do the math and realize quickly that’s a heck of a bunch of weeds to bend over and pull out.

We took two cars today. We had to split up after church so Michelle could take one of our girls to a birthday party on the other side of town, and I had some errands to run (the dangerous trip to Home Depot where I traditionally spend 10X more than I intended).

After the complaints about the lack of help, I decided after lunch to head home and surprise her.

Its 3:30PM, and after 3 hours of weeding, we’re about 90% weed free. I really don’t think we can get too much cleaner than that- there’s always tomorrows weeds just under the surface of the mulch waiting for a new day to break free.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Olive Garden Is A Hate Crime Against Italian Food

In August our family decided to give Olive Garden another try. The last time I had been in one was sometime around 1994 or so. That experience was so awful I vowed to never step into one again.

We gave it another try, all six of us, while traveling on our vacation this summer. The feedback from the family was almost instantaneous. 6 our of 6 votes against ever going there again.

It began as we walked towards the front door and were treated to the stench of the dumpsters nearby (a smell that lingered within our olfactory glands for a good 30 minutes). It continued with the dry tasteless cardboard breadsticks (sporting freeze dried garlic sprinkled on top), and the crapyness reached its zenith with the arrival of our entrées. Several of us really, and I mean REALLY, thought we were going to throw up after dinner.

If you’ve ever tasted fresh homemade Italian food from a family restaurant outside of Florence, or dined outside in a Roma piazza, or even had a good bowl of pasta arrabiata from Macaroni Grill (or for that matter, a nice styrofoam platter of spaghetti at a public school lunch room), you know that anything Olive Garden serves is just so much tomato saucy goop.

With the vast selections of decent independent and chain Italian restaurants in almost any city and town in the United States, why does anyone still eat at the Olive Garden?

ps. if you are a fan of Olive Garden, PLEASE, seek help. If you tell me what town you're in I'll be happy to send you a few suggestions in your area of where you might test out an alternative or two.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crazy Dog People

Next month our family will finally enter the world of dog owners. We’ve fought it off for many years but the war is over. I’ve lost.

I do love dogs. I’ve had a total of four dogs in my life. Chocolate (killed by a neighbor with a shotgun when he pooped in his yard one too many times), Smokey (a gorgeous Dalmatian who we gave up when we moved to Hawaii), Daisy (died of old age after a happy life) and Ringo (ditto).

The reason I pushed hard against dog ownership as an adult is two-fold. One- at least two of our four kids have bad allergies. Two- much more selfish… we have a nice home, and the thought of a dog fouling rugs, scratching wood and doors and other mischief is bothering me greatly.

We have a family tradition though- and that is when each child reaches 13 years old, they get to choose their hearts desire for their gift. Anything in the world (with certain rules and restrictions you can read about here).

L turned 13 in June, and her choice? A puppy.

We’ve all been warming to the idea. It took a couple months for L to choose the breed she wanted (Yorkie), and find the right breeder and puppy. We landed on a cutie earlier this month and the deposit has been paid. We pick up Bella (or Brooklyn, or Piper, or whatever other name L thinks about between now and then) later in November. I have prepared myself for the new family member. I am starting to even look forward to it.

Until just now.

I have been at Panera Bread outside of Indianapolis for 2 hours now getting work done while waiting for my first film of the day to start. I’m attending the Heartland Film Festival as part of my work for Sony and have a few hours to kill before the “work” day begins.

For 90 minutes of that two hours I have been treated to a NON-STOP barrage of chit-chat between a mother (appears to be in her fifties) and her daughter (mid-twenties) about their dogs. It’s nauseating. I use the present tense because ITS STILL GOING ON AS I’M WRITING.

I now know the following about these two ladies dogs: diet, medical conditions, medical treatment, other dogs in the neighborhood (by name) they like to play with, toys, tv shows they like, clothing, what mom and daughter did (with their dogs) on vacation this summer, where the dogs sleep, what they do during the day, how excited they are when their respective owners get home, the condition of their fur and teeth, how cute they are in the morning, where they sleep (“she’s so cute…she crawls up under the electric blanket between my legs and licks my knees, blah, blah, blah”). The attached photo was JUST taken showing these two going at it with this blog entry being written on the screen to the right.

I’m going insane.

A warning to L and my lovely wife Michelle- if you turn into these two ladies I’m going to build a guest house on our land and move in there.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Moving To Canada

Ah... the fun of surfing the net and finding funny video files. Here's one for the "if McCain wins I'm leaving America" crowd. Of course, as Alec Baldwin proves- they never do.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Zero point zero-zero-zero-one-nine-three. Do you know what that minuscule number represents?

The total percentage of likely voters in the United States that have been polled, since the completion of the conventions, about whom they would vote for in the presidential election.

That is an incredibly small number. 27,388 people to be exact, according to That number is about ONE HALF the total population of my little town of Franklin, TN. And that’s supposed to represent the gazillions of voters that are spread from Hawaii to Alaska, Florida to Maine and to dozens of foreign nations where our citizens and soldiers live?

I just don’t get it. So many people live and die by the polls, yet year-in and year-out they’re shown to be just so much fluff.

I have NEVER been called by a pollster. No one I know has been. And, if they did, we wouldn’t answer it because we have caller ID and we don’t know who these stupid UNKNOWN numbers are.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Finally. After several unsuccessful attempts to reduce our skunk population in time for campfire season (those amazingly cool and crisp Oct-Dec weekend nights), my new shiny expensive “Skunker” caught something other than a raccoon.

As dawn broke over the grounds, I walked up to the sprung trap and peered through the viewing slots in the trap door. There he was- a cute and pungent skunk peering back at me.

A friend tipped me off that Williamson County Animal Control will come and pick up trapped skunks and “take care of them” for me. I have a pretty strong hunch what that means, but the prospect of disposing of the skunk myself, and in the process risk becoming a stinking skunk target, was enough to pick up the phone and call the government for help (a recent trend it seems).

I had no idea how finely tuned the system was for taking care of live trapped animals. When I called I spoke to a nice and efficient operator that asked how she could help me. After telling her about the catch she transferred me to a “dispatcher.” After another minute or so describing the situation, I was put on hold while the nearest control officer could be contacted. She patched me through to an officer that was on his rounds not too far from my house. He told me he’d be there within the hour, and I let him know where the trap was since I was headed out for the rest of the morning.

I got a phone call after lunch that my trap was ready to be picked up. I stopped by late in the afternoon after running errands.

The control officer that picked up the skunk told me how much he liked my trap. He hadn’t seen anything like it and wanted to know where I got it ( We chatted for a bit about the merits of the Skunker, how many skunks I’ve seen wandering around our yard (at least 3 more skunks including a massive albino skunk that’s white with a black stripe), and other chit-chat. What we didn’t talk about was the elephant in the room:

I didn’t ask “so, buddy, what did you do with the skunk I gave you?”
And he didn’t reply with something like “oh, yea, that- well, we killed him dead. He won’t be spraying you and your family and friends out by the campfire anytime soon.”
And I didn’t reply “so, how did you kill him?”
And he didn’t respond back with possible techniques like “well, we poisoned him, or shot him, or suffocated him, or …..”

I really didn’t want to know. I didn’t ask. He didn’t tell.

A couple days later I caught another skunk. And despite Tennessee law that stipulates live trapped skunks are not to be released, I couldn’t bear sending the little bugger off to the big house. I strapped the trap onto the back of my truck and drove to a remote area and let him go. And I will continue to do so until we clear the population of stinkers around the house.

If I run into the animal control agent again hopefully he won’t ask me if I’ve caught more skunks. And I won’t tell.