viernes, junio 30, 2006

The Whirlwind Tour

A different city every day – that was the theme of this visit. But first things always come first. The Don-abee came in Thursday night and, being Philly, the first thing we did is hit Pat’s Steaks for a good ol’ cheesesteak. Yes, the cheesesteak, Philly’s contribution to the culinary and cardio-pulmonary worlds. Steak, cheese, long roll are the basics, fried onions are the only topping common enough to not be ordered by name. You order just by type of cheese and whether onions are on it – a “whiz wit’” has Cheeze Whiz and onions, an “American wit’out” has American cheese and no onions. Other toppings are available – pizza sauce, mushrooms, hot peppers. My personal favorite is a barbecue bacon cheesesteak (wit’out). And as you’re sitting back, all fat and happy, you can hear your arteries clog. Ahhh … but I digress.

So the tour goes as follows: DC on Friday, NYC on Saturday, Amish country on Sunday, Philly on Monday, and Atlantic City on Tuesday. Then the Don-abee finally gets to rest on Wednesday – that’s when he catches a plane back to California.

miércoles, junio 28, 2006

Location, Location, Location

My cousin, the Don-abee, is coming to visit. The Don-abee is too much like me for his own good – he’s smart but sometimes lacks focus. He’s a good natured and funny guy, but he got caught up with the wrong girl and it had a lasting effect. Like me, he carries a lot of baggage around in his head. And, since he is neither a jackass nor rich, girls don’t exactly flock to him. (Sorry ladies, but its true.)

The good news is he was able to put himself back on track. He now works a steady job in his chosen field: accounting. (See! Too much like me!) He is turning things around and moving in a much better direction. The bad news is he is not living in the best city for a single guy looking for a possible Ms. Right.

He left the Pacific Northwest and moved to San Francisco.

The city by the bay has many things going for it: wonderful weather, a vibrant economy, plenty to see and do. But it’s also a place where the women are women … but so are a lot of the men. True, even in that other city of brotherly love heterosexuals outnumber homosexuals, but in a place where alternative lifestyles are prevalent to the point of ubiquity, presumptions you make about people you don’t yet know change. There’s nothing unusual about moving to a new city to make a new start – people do it all the time. Cities are where the jobs are – especially in accounting. You presume that a single guy moving to New York is looking for work, a single guy moving to Los Angeles is looking for work and scantily clad women. A single guy moving to San Francisco is also looking for work, but could care less about the scantily clad women.

Jeff Foxworthy talks of things that men only do if they are married or gay; sleeping on a bed with seven pillows and a dust ruffle, for example, or going shopping during the big game. I think my cousin is finding out that moving to San Fran is on that list.

sábado, junio 24, 2006

Best Letter to the Editor Ever

From the May 27 issue of the Economist

“SIR – Please do not ever mention George Bush. And Winston Churchill in the same sentence again, even if you must break all the rules of grammar to do so.

Steve Pettit


viernes, junio 23, 2006

First Day Back To The Gym


This is what my arms feel like:

Originally uploaded by ef-u.

jueves, junio 22, 2006

Turning Japanese

Gone are the days where overpopulation was the big concern on everybody's mind ... now it's underpopulation (at least within your own country and your own type of people).

It is well documented that birth rates decline as cultures become wealthier and more educated. To a point, this is a positive, but a lifetime birth rate below 2.1 children per woman causes population decline (one to replace the mother, one to replace the father, and .1 to account for premature mortality), which in turn increases the relative burden of the aging population on the members of younger generations.

In Japan, that rate is currently 1.25.

Austrailia had already instituted a birthing bonus, paying women to pop out those youngins; now they are about to raise it significantly. The Japanese have a simpler recommendation to their breeding-age citizens: just do it.

A recent study showed that the Japanese don't turn Japanese often enough - at least not as part of a collective effort. If the people could get funky a bit more often now, in about 20 years there will be an ample workforce to support them. If not, they may regret their decision to keep busy instead of get busy.

The old line about our Navy sailers was they spent 6 days a week sewing their seed and the seventh in church praying for crop failure. The sad commentary about the situation in Japan is the owners of the fertile fields are unhappy with the choice of farmers, and vice versa.

miércoles, junio 21, 2006

No wonder they make a run for the border

Originally uploaded by

This was my absolute favorite part of my one-day trip to Tijuana, Mexico, last summer. This building was just a short walk from the border. Notice the two signs:

Souvenir Shop
Clinica Dental

Yes, it's a combination dental clinic / bric-a-brac broker. You can get a root canal and a painted donkey T-shirt in the same visit – and pay in pesos or dollars.

I can only imagine the haggling that goes on over the price of fillings.

lunes, junio 19, 2006

Their Cup Runneth Over

So after a painful game one, and an even more painful game two, and a split at home, the Edmonton Oilers became only the sixth team in Stanley Cup finals history to force a game 7 after going down 3 games to 1 in the best of seven series. Game 6 was the high point for Edmonton fans, as the Oilers clobbered the 'Canes 4-0 in front of thousands of overjoyed fans.

Three-to-one was featured prominently in the past few games. 27 teams had gone down 3-1, 16 of those teams lost game 5 and six more lost in game 6. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs came back to win (and in their series, they had actually gone down 3-0 before winning 4 in a row to pull off the ultimate Cup coup).

It was fitting, then, that score at game's end was Carolina 3, Edmonton 1.

For the second finals in a row, Canada's entrant failed to bring the Cup home after losing the seventh game. The past two champions now are Carolina and Tampa Bay - two hockey havens, for sure.

Oh well ... maybe next year.

domingo, junio 18, 2006

A Happy Baby’s Daddy Day

Or babies’ daddy, in my case.

My kids are up visiting my folks, so this was my first Father’s Day without them. Insomuch as their mother likes to take “a day off” on Mother’s Day (because spending an entire night every week with your children can be oh, so tiring), I happen to prefer spending my Father’s Day with them. Last year was one of my best FD’s ever, and I didn’t ask them to do anything for me. I took the day last year to do things for them. We went to New York so Emily could go to the American Girl Store and Alex to We B Toys and, as an added bonus, there was a street fair on Sixth Avenue so we spent several hours checking out booths and just enjoying our day. It was quite the day.

So today the kids are up with my dad and brother. A few weeks back they asked me what I wanted from them for Father’s Day. I told them to make sure that Grandpa had a great Father’s Day. I just got off the phone with them – they said he slept all day. I asked if they woke him, they said no. “Perfect,” I said. “Remind him that you gave him the best Father’s Day present ever!”

Since kids were not an issue for us today, Ms N planned a surprise trip. After church this morning instead of going home, we drove up the world famous New Jersey Turnpike to New York (my second Babies’ Daddy Day up there in a row). This time, though. instead of the American Girl Store, I got to go somewhere a little more masculine.

We went to a Broadway musical!

The show was Spamalot, the updated and made-for-stage version of Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. It was hilarious. While much of the best original material made it in unscathed, there were several improvements. For example, the mariachi llama intro was replaced by the Finland Fish-Schlapping Dance. They found a way to get the Black Knight scene on stage, we find out that what happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot, the Lady of the Lake (the watery tart who anoints kings by throwing swords at them) is quite the diva, and Lancelot … well, let’s just say they take his character in a whole new direction.

We had a great dinner at Chevy’s, a Mexican restaurant on 8th Avenue, and I was able to ponder some interesting new possibilities for hybrid cars on the ride back. Plus, we had the special privilege of sitting next to two children who reminded me how lucky I am to have the ones I do.

Thank you, Ms N, for a wonderful Father’s Day.

jueves, junio 15, 2006

At least it wasn't a baseless decision

Britain’s Royal Academy, one of the hoity-toitiest hang-outs for the hoity-toity crowd of one of the hoity-toitier countries, made an interesting judgment recently on what constitutes art – at least art worthy to be displayed in such a prestigious setting as Britain’s Royal Academy.

The academy states that “it is accepted that works may not be displayed in the way that the artist might have intended,” but perhaps this time stretched its artistic license. Keep in mind that the modern art scene has its wealthy and elitist patrons, which means its experts can not only mingle in many of the right (well, left) social circles but also pocket some serious coin while they’re at it. One would assume that those responsible for determining what pieces get displayed (not to mention how and where) in a gallery such as the Royal Academy boast substantial credentials and support (perhaps even envy) of their peers. One would also suspect the compensation for those few deemed duly qualified to serve in such a capacity would be commensurate with said qualifications.

I, for one, grant little credence to those credentials. Modern art is a sham, as evidenced here by the Royal Academy and elsewhere through countless actions by the cultural elite. I am reminded of the gallery that lost an entire exhibit because their janitor mistook a pile of garbage for a pile of garbage and threw it away. Just because it’s eccentric doesn’t mean it’s art.

David Hensel submitted to the academy for consideration a sculpture of a head. He also sent a stone plinth upon which the sculpture should be displayed and a bone-shaped piece of wood that would hold the head in place.

During the process in which submissions are judged, the sculpture of the head – the actual piece of artwork and the product of his creative efforts – was rejected. It is currently “safely stored ready to be collected by the artist,” according to a statement by the academy.

Now, I haven’t seen the sculpture and it’s quite possible that it is a piece of crap. That’s not the point of this story.

Despite the rejection, Mr. Hensel still has a piece in the London gallery’s summer exhibition. And perhaps, through the publicity he obtained as a result of the circumstances surrounding its selection, he may gain more recognition (and presumably thus more sales) than he would have if the gallery had done as he had expected.

Have you ever bought the perfect Christmas present for a toddler? You search high and low to find the thing, the kid gleefully unwraps the present, and the parent laboriously frees the toy from the packaging. Then the kid promptly ignores the toy and spends hours playing with the box. This is pretty much what happened to Mr. Hensel.

Mr. Hensel did not send the base in the same container as the sculpture. The people in charge of the summer exhibition – those hoity-toity know-it-alls with the keen artistic eyes – apparently fail to recognize functional relationships. Put these people in charge of a construction site and you’ll be left with a tower of scaffolding but no building.

In contrast to his sculpture, which apparently lacked sufficient artistic merit, they deemed the base meritorious. The base – a pedestal and a stick – was accepted and now is Mr. Hensel’s “artwork” currently on display at the gallery.

lunes, junio 12, 2006

Summer Vacation

My kids just left this morning for their summer vacation - two months with Grandma and Grandpa in Alaska!

I love having my kids around and I am going to miss them dearly ... but man is it nice to have some time like this. They love their time with my folks, they have their own little circle of friends in my parents' neighborhood, and my mom always makes sure they have fun and productive things to do, so I do not have to worry that they're lacking for love, inspiration, or amusement. Summertime boredom, it's not. And unlike their visits to their "as little as I have to keep them to still claim to be an active mother" mom's house, I don't have to worry about what's being said that I don't hear. Meanwhile, I get a chance to recharge. It's win-win.

So while they are having play parties, taking Tae Kwon Do, riding their bikes all day long, and just plain enjoying their youth, I will be catching up on work, fixing things up around the house, fixing things up in my personal life, visiting friends, spending more time with Ms N, and, of course, napping. I may even post more.

Ah, this is nice.

For now.

I give myself until Monday before I'm looking at their empty rooms, unplayed-with toys, and still-made beds, then find myself counting the days until they return.

martes, junio 06, 2006

The day of the darned is upon us

At long last, it’s here: June 6, 2006 – or, as you’ve probably noticed by now the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year. 6/6/6

Today is the day when we find out if Tom’s premonition will come true. Remember, that was written 149 days ago. Today is also the day that many people plan to get married at some of the more morbid wedding chapels in Las Vegas. And The Omen gets released today.

So will this be a day to revel in stupidity, will it be just another day, or are we about to face our final destiny? Will my ex-wife suddenly rule the world? Only time will tell. However, the day is technically mostly over (ask any Aussie and Asian - the Americas follow the rest of the world in this regard) and not much has happened ... yet.

Then again, George Bush, gay marriage, and Mary Kay Latourneau are topping the news right now. Maybe the day of doom is upon us - perhaps it's just more subtle than we think.

So how do we avoid burning in Hell today? Well, according to, sunscreen wouldn't hurt. And don't forget your anti-histamine - there's a pollen warning today.

lunes, junio 05, 2006

D'oh! Canada

They just announced that Roloson will not be back this series.

Whoa, Canada!

I’m watching Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals. Edmonton lead 3-1 after two periods, but now trails 4-3 with 9 minutes remaining in the third period.

Period – schmeriod! These haven’t been periods, they’ve been exclamation points!

This has been one hell of a game. The Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers are two of the fastest teams in this year’s playoffs, and both teams came out skating fast and hitting hard. Oiler defenseman Chris Pronger beat Hurricane goalie Cam Ward on a penalty shot, Carolina killed off a 5-on-3 power play, and the hits! Guys have been slammed into the boards and knocked off their feet throughout the game. The game’s first penalty came on a clipping by the near-side boards. All you saw from the main camera angle was a head and torso in red suddenly fall out of view and two red legs appeared in their place. And now, after leading 3-0, Edmonton is busily trying to regroup after giving up four unanswered goals and the lead.

Oh, yeah! Now it’s tied at 4! What an amazing play by a guy who was airborne when he made his shot!

Oh, crap! Now the Oiler goalie is injured. A three-player pile-up forced him into the net and he can’t walk.

Lord Stanley’s Cup hasn’t been hoisted over a Canadian rink since the Montreal Canadiens bested the Los Angeles Kings in 1993. Only two times since then have the canucks managed to field a team in the finals – the Vancouver Canucks lost game 7 in Madison Square Garden in 1994 and the Calgary Flames lost game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning two years ago. This is quite a contrast to the 80’s, when Canadian teams won the cup seven years in a row (five times by Edmonton).

These Oilers look like they can return the Cup to the Great White North. (Besides, the Cup is due back. C’mon, the defending champion is Tampa Bay?!?) They eked into the playoffs with the final spot in the West and then knocked off league-leader Detroit in the first round, then faced a double-dose of California en route to the Western Conference Championship. They are spunky, and definitely hot at the right time.


OK, perhaps giving up the game-winning goal with 30 seconds left because the goalie and defenseman bobbled the puck behind the net doesn’t support my statement, but hey, this is just game one.

Anyways, this series looks to be a great one, despite the rally in Raleigh. I’m worried about the injury to Roloson (the goalie), but the Oilers are slick (yeah, I know, boo – hiss). I know the NBA championship is going to have better ratings, but they will not have a single game as good as what we’ve seen tonight.

viernes, junio 02, 2006


Our representatives in DC may be the best politicians that money can buy, but in this era when all public statements are first privately run through the PR people they have lost some of their rhetorical luster over the years.

Thankfully, there's Canada.

Yes, our neighbors to the north (or east, for my Alaskan readers) still have a way with their words. For example, much to his chagrin, former Immigration Minister Joe Volpe, a contender for leadership of the Liberal Party, had to return over C$16,000 (about $15K US) when it was discovered that the contributions came from adolescent children related to the chairman of a drug company.

Had this been Washington, the strongest zinger from the other side may have been some comment about a "culture of corruption." Not Ottawa. Not New Democrat legislator Pat Martin.

"The Liberal Party is like an egg-sucking dog ..." he said, "they dig under the fence to get at that money and they just can't be cured. With an egg-sucking dog, all you can do is put them down."