Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prolo plus seven weeks

Almost two months after my prolotherapy injections.

Five weeks of physical therapy.

I feel great! And I'm very happy with the results.

As a refresher, my initial complaint was a constant pain in my right shoulder (an area called the anterior deltoid.) It would get worse after I went to the gym. The pain would diminish if I didn't work out, but it never vanished on its own.

Doctor Benson diagnosed a torn rotator cuff and gave me a dozen or so shots in the deltoid and bicep. Within three days, I had no more pain. And I've had none ever since.

I finished my last round of physical therapy today. She recommends one more dive under the needle, to get prolotherapy directly in top of the rotator cuff.

I'm still having some trouble with my rotator cuff, across the very top. (Not in an area that Doctor Benson injected.) If I carry something heavy (a 50lb bucket of mortar for example) with just my right arm, I get a mild sensation of my shoulder being stretched and some weakness in the area .

So on August 13th, I go back for round two. If I have as much success as I did with my first experience, I should be good by September, Maybe this time I can get video?

Anyway. Back to the needle. Once more into the breach.

Searing my thumb

Working on the house. Standing on a ladder. Cutting off the head of a nail that I couldn't remove with my Cat Claw. Used my Dremel. Diamond edge cutting wheel creates a lot of friction. The head of the nail falls off. I put my hand down as I step off the ladder. Then the pain. Like a tiny knife stabbing in my thumb. Except it isn't a knife, it's the red hot remains of the nail. And it is searing my thumb.

It leaves a nice blister. And delays my future as a successful hitchhiker.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Little Things

It isn't uncommon for me to get wrapped up in work. Or get drawn into the housing projects. Or over-do it at the gym. And my head gets all twisted around such things. Doesn't do any good for my stress levels or my sleep cycles. Very consuming and ultimately not very rewarding.

To throw off the shackles of this modern life of mine, I go back to the simple stuff: a quiet house, a good meal, and time with the kids.

Pound for pound, I honestly think nothing in my life is as fulfilling as these little things. And I'm amazed how often and how quickly I forget to enjoy them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This Olde House - Patched Drywall

I'm a big fan of "Measure Twice, Cut Once." I'm also a big fan of planning out as much as possible. Yet even though I measured everything multiple times, and draw a layout over everything, I somehow managed to put the sole electrical outlet in the wrong place. I put it far too high. It screwed up the placement of the medicine cabinet. All in all, it put a big damper on my good mood.

So I had to burn more time and effort fixing my mistake. Cut out a large enough piece of drywall to pass over the studs. Moved the outlet down about a foot. Screwed in a new sheet of drywall. Cut the edges as cleanly as possible. And used a box knife to angle the sides of the groove, to help conceal the lines once I start to patch it.

Hopefully I can get some tape and a layer of drywall mud down this weekend, sand it, prime it, paint it, and get the medicine cabinet in place.

Very eager to be done with this project. It has stopped being fun at this point.

What the....

There is no way to prepare for being a parent. Not when they are babies. Not when they grow older. Never. It's a non-stop adventure.

Walking to the car, trying to go to work, and I detect something odd lurking in the bottom of my shoe. Hobble to the car. Flip off the footware. And... what the heck is this? Why was it in my shoe?

At least it wasn't in my underwear!

Monday, July 28, 2008

This Olde House - Bullnosed Tiles

I wrapped up the tile in the bathroom tonight. Put some long, bullnose pieces along the edge of the exposed tile in the shower. The grout is still a bit wet. When it dries, it will look like the rest of the tiles and blend into the wall a little better.

It will take me a minute to seal the lines tomorrow. But otherwise, I'm going to put a big red DONE! stamp on the tile for the bathroom.

And I"m off to the next stage of the project.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This Olde House - Fixtures Installed

Busy busy day. My cousin, Bobby, came over and we installed the sink/vanity and toilet and shower fixtures. When I say "we," that actually means Bobby did the bulk of the hard work and I ran around doing all the odd little things that needed to be done.

The shower was the biggest problem. I had installed the tile too close to the handle. Bobby had to viscously apply a diamond-edged grinder to it and cut in inch thick circle through my handiwork. And then the screws were too short. But they were apparently cosmetic because everything went into place and functions just fine.

I had the wrong bolts for the toilet. Bobby needed "t-bolts." I bought "tank bolts." I was incorrect that the "t" in "t bolts" stands for "tank." Other than that, the toilet went down without any notable issues. And the vanity was a no-brainer. Oh, it didn't come with knobs, though. So I'll have to buy those and install them later.

First time in like six months, I have running water, a functional toilet, and a hot shower in the small bathroom. Now all I have to do is about 20 little things, and I can move on to the next project.

Friday, July 25, 2008

MindSpring Revisited - Lisa Mooty

I've been remiss in my posting duties as of late. I can only blame my non-stop work on the house, working on a side project, and an usual burst of activity at my day-job. However, I've returned with another update on a long, long amiga: Lisa Mooty.

She sent the following peeks inside her world:

  • How were you involved with MindSpring? In a lot of different ways, starting as a tech support rep and ending as a network operations center reporting analyst. Most people who remember me at all probably remember me as the Atlanta tech support trainer, because I met so many folks that way. My favorite job was NOC engineer.
  • What was one of your favorite adventures at MindSpring? I can't remember any specific adventure as standing out from the rest, but I do remember the sense of camraderie. Watching the lights in the data center blink was cool, too.
  • Share a memorable event from MindSpring? The old family reunions! I think I met Jon McDougal for the first time at the one in Birmingham.
  • What is something other SpringHeads might not have known about you in those days? Gosh, I kind of let it all hang out, so I can't imagine that there's stuff folks didn't know!
  • Why did you part ways with MindSpring? It had grown and changed so much (and so had I) that I wanted something different. Well, that was true the second time I left. The first time, I was just excited someone wanted me to work somewhere else with them.
  • What are you up to these days? Just started working for the State Department and will be posted to the Philippines in September.
  • Did you learn any lessons at MindSpring that you still carry with you? It's better to come clean and say you don't know something or own up to a mistake than to try to cover it up.
Ah, memories. Seems like a century ago that I was checking the daily null modem report and running you Waffle House at 0200 for what we loosely termed: breakfast. I miss you, Lisa. Thanks for playing and good luck on your new adventures!

Another update coming next week. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This Olde House - Name That Idiot

Ventilated mask? Check!

Rubber gloves? Check!

Can of potentially toxic chemicals?

What is the idiot in the picture is going to be doing?

Hint: It doesn't involve any sphincters.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This Olde House - Bathroom Walls Grouted

Made a discovery today. A couple of them, actually. First, I don't like getting dirty. Second, when grouting walls, about half of the grout ends up on your body. Third, I don't like grouting walls.

That being said, I grouted the bathroom walls. Incredibly filthy work. I was regretting it after the first minute. For every inch of grout on the wall, there was an inch on my legs or on my hands or in the tub or on the floor. Trying to keep it clean wasn't an option as it doubled the amount of time I spent on the project.

Cindy contributed some muscle this time. I'd put down the grout, smoosh between the tiles, and wipe off the big chunks. Then Cindy would step up and clean off the little stuff. While her role was less messy, she had to three times as many passes over the tiles. It gave me a slight respite to clean up the rest of the mess outside and in the bathroom. It also gave me peace of mind to know that she was putting some skin in the game. Maybe she could appreciate the effort more knowing what it takes to get the job done.

End of the night, the grout was all done and everything was cleaned. Next step, "sealing" the grout.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Big Burger Time

Liam and I stopped by Burger King for lunch. He tried a double meat Big Kid's meal. I tried a Loaded Steakhouse Burger.

Liam ate his ENTIRE BURGER. Two big ol' patties. Washed it down with a Sprite and some fries. He actually finished before I did, too. Very proud of that kid. He's growing up to be a fine, strapping carnivore.

A few comments about my Loaded Steakhouse Burger:

  • It was indeed loaded! Jam packed with bacon, crunchy little onion strings, A1 Steaksauce, and mashed potatoes. MASHED POTATOES! I took a photo to prove it!
  • Easily the best fast food burger I've EVER had. It had all the food groups and a zingy dash of flavor from the A1.
  • Unlike every other burger available today, IT FILLED ME UP! I couldn't believe it. I was stuffed. And I didn't have any fries or soda. Just the burger and all its glory.
Bottom line: super double extra nummy. Very satisfying on every scale. I highly recommend it to any male that is looking for a truly challenging burger. Try it.You won't be disappointed.

A Little Off The Top

Me and my barber, Dane. I don't let anyone else touch my hair. If I walk into the shop and Dane isn't there, I'll leave. Helps that he owns the place. And helps that we've known each other about twenty years.

After Katrina, my boss at the office suggest a local barber. "Go to the corner of Gate 7 and Pass Road." I did. There were TWO barber shops. I picked the one with nicer sign. Inside, this cat about my age had an empty chair. I plopped down and received the more intricate, detailed, careful haircut I've ever had. And then the dude whips out a straight razor and shaves the back of my neck! That was a first. Then, for the whole procedure, I paid like $9. And I was hooked.

I probably went two more times before we started talking and figured out we both went to school in Long Beach, and when he said he was a drummer in Junior High, and graduated in '89, I said, "You're Dane M.!!!"

He said he was. (Which helped to explain the sign that said "Dane's Barber Shop.")

I said, "I'm Jon McDougal."

"No! You are not!"

"I am."

And we've had a good laugh ever since.

I swing by the shop about once every three weeks. And sometimes bring Liam. Our kids are about the same age. Our wives are about the same age. And we swap tales about old friends we come across. One of the perks of living in a smaller town.

Friday, July 18, 2008

This Olde House - Floor Grouting

Attacked the bathroom floor today. Grouted the monster. My first attempt at every grouting anything. Didn't go too badly. And nobody got hurt.

Garry loaned me his grouting tool and advised me to pour a big lump of grout onto the middle of the tile and then pull a portion into each of the lines between the tile. I tried that and found it to be extremely messy. It also seemed a bit excessive. I tried pouring the grout closer to the edges (tracing around each tile) and then drawing the smaller line of grout into the seam. Color me crazy, but it was quicker, easier, and notably cleaner. Maybe I was doing it wrong the first time, but I certainly had better success with my improvised method.

Once I had the gaps filled, I used Garry's grouting sponge to scour away the excess. Quite a mess, too. The rough side of the sponge is for the first couple of passes. Once the majority of the stray grout is removed, I would switch to the soft side. Then it was a matter of passing over the tile again and again and again, until I stopped picking up anything.

About an hour to get it down. About an hour to clean up the extra. Half an hour of prep. Half an hour of clean up. Three hours total. A bit slow, but I am very happy with the results. And, for a change, I think I did as well as any professional. Without the cost of a professional. I'd call it one of my more successful projects.

Next up: baseboards, then sealing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another New Food

Cindy fired up some Gorditos today. She makes them because they are easy to prepare. And I love them. The kids, however, previously caved in to their fear of new foods and refused to try them.

Tonight, they took a brave step. I made them put their own little Gorditos together so they could see how simple it was. Liam had "just meat," but Meg had meat and cheese and a touch of sour cream.

Liam liked his. He ate the whole thing.

Meg chewed through most of hers without fussing.

And then, a modern miracle, when she had about a third of hers left, Liam grabbed the leftovers, and ate them!

Very proud of both of them.

Full Moon

Liam wanted to use his telescope and check out the full moon. We grabbed everything and ran outside, to the driveway in the front yard. The moon was rising over the house. And it looked surprisingly orange.

I told Liam the German myth about "The Rabbit In The Moon."

And we enjoyed a few quiet moments. The two of us and Luna.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

MindSpring Revisited - Stanley Cline

I wanted to kick of my first installation of "MindSpring Revisited" by dedicating my thoughts in fond memory of Stanley "Roamer1" Cline.

I met Stanley in March of 1997, on my first day at MindSpring's NOC. It was a Saturday. I was starting work at 0600. Stanley was leaving after his twelve hour shift. He said hello in his usual way: very quickly, rather faintly, and without any eye contact. That is my first brief memory of him.

Stanley passed away a year ago, today. He was at home, in bed. There was no sign of foul play. It looked as if he had simply gone to sleep, and just never woke up. If you google his name, the first page is a testament to his prolific contribution to the online telco community, as dozens of posts announce his passing. I think he would have been proud of the impact he made with just his words and advise.

For "MindSpring Revisited," I've asked everyone similar questions. Since Stanley isn't with us to provide his own answers, I'll provide what I think he may have said. But I invite contributions from any of his friends who happen to stop by, even if is it just to honor his memory by giving him a shoutout.

  • How were you involved with MindSpring?
    Stanley was a NOC Engineer and a font of telco wisdom. We leaned on him heavily to handle things like trunking issues, unstable SS7 links, and problematic telco switches. During my last stint, as NOC Manager, I had the honor of promoting Stanley to the first "Senior Engineer," in the Atlanta NOC.

  • What was one of your favorite adventures at MindSpring?
    Stanley never ceased to amaze me when he would get on the phone with an engineer from one of our vendors and then proceeded to educate the engineer in elaborate detail about the ins and outs of the vendor's network. Rarely (if ever) was a vendor able to argue with him. On technical matters, he was unstoppable and defeated every feeble argument thrown his way about why the vendors' networks stunk. It was humbling to see how easily and how often he did it.

  • Share a memorable event from MindSpring?
    During "the Last MindSpring Party" (where McQ opened a bottomless tab on his AMEX and let everyone drink until we were turned into Wookalars) Stanley tried Long Island Iced Tea for the first time. I believe he had five of them. Afterward we cruised up and down Peachtree Street in my car. It was a rare moment when Stanley let his guard down. Talking about everything and nothing and just laughing and yelling at people on the sidewalk.

  • What is something other SpringHeads might not have known about you in those days?
    Stanley had a quiet passion for driving hundreds of miles, just to take a few pictures and check the availability of various cell phone providers in the area. It wasn't unusual for him to tell me he drove six hours just to snap a pic of a statue and check to see if Sprint coverage was good in Memphis. Sometimes he'd eat a meal before heading back, but never a local eatery, always a fast food burger, often eaten in his car.

  • Did you learn any lessons at MndSpring that you still carry with you?
    I like to think that Stanley learned there people actually found the REAL Stanley Cline interesting and enjoyed his company. I hope he learned there is no such thing as "normal." Especially at MindSpring.

  • Come up with a unique question for someone else:
    Stanley would have said: NIC! NIC! NIC! and shown us Potato Head.

Rest In Peace, Mister Cline, where ever your may roam now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

This Olde House - Bathroom Walls Tiled

So the walls in the bathroom finally went up. Green board ("Why is it called Green board when it is yellow?" Cindy asked multiple times) with cement board around the shower. On top of THAT, Cindy decided to put 6" x 6" Brazilian stone tiles.

I borrowed a tile saw from a co-worker, mixed the mortar and went to town. Grimly boring stuff. Staggered the different levels of tile. Thankfully the edges were rough and I didn't have to make laser sharp lines. The back wall kept tormenting me. The wall isn't perfectly square. From the top of the tile to the bottom, by the tub, it loses an entire inch. Kept having to compensate. A constant challenge to make everything line up with my eye, rather than with a ruler and a level. The eye was right. The measurements (though they were right) looked badly angled. Thankfully, only one wall was off. The other two were fairly true, and didn't put up as much of a struggle.

Did I mention I had a helper? Miss Meg joined me several times. I'd cut the lines and she'd wash off the debris. I think she mainly enjoyed playing with the water more than helping her Daddy. But she was a great helper and it made the time pass somewhat quicker.

Ended up working until 10:30P. I stopped short of finishing the whole thing because my hands stopped working. I was having problems focusing. And since I knew there was still an hour of cleaning to do, we called it a night before laying the last line across the top.

Still have that final row. And then the grout. Also going to use some longer, bull-nosed tile for the baseboards. And a thin line along edge, where the shower meets regular, painted wall. And I'll find time to seal it. One day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tybalt's Grave

It is always hard to part with a family pet. I had more than my fair share of dogs when I was younger. And they have all crossed over. Cindy has had Tybalt Capulet Kristofferson for seventeen years. That would make him nine hundred and nineteen, in human years. A centurion of a pet. And all by his lonesome, he survived Katrina as the storm surge crept up 4 feet in the house. And he toughed out many long, un-air conditioned weeks of recovery with nary a complaint.

Sadly, he hasn't been eating much lately. He's lost close to 20% of his body weight in recent weeks. He doesn't do much more than nap throughout the day. And I'd be hard pressed to remember the last time he was in a playful mood. So preparing his grave wasn't unexpected, but it wasn't the least bit pleasant.

I started with a Tupperware box. Big enough to hold said cat. And big enough to show me how far to dig. (I figured twice the depth of the box would be sufficient. Once I had the faux coffin in place, I cut a single piece of turf with the tip of the shovel. I pried it up, and placed it to the side. In theory, after the ceremony, Cindy or her Mom would be able to cover the grave site with the still-intact grass. For the curious, seems like the turf was nearly ten inches thick. And it doesn't like being carved out with a shovel. However two hundred pounds of fatman can cut through protesting foliage easily enough.

Once the chunk of greenery was removed, I set to work digging the rest of the hole. Fortunately I only encountered two notable roots. Unfortunately they were notable because they were the size of my wrist. And they squirmed when I tried to jumped on the shovel and cut through them. So I struck them with a two-handed, downward stabbing method. Miserable work. Extremely jarring to the wrists and my damaged shoulders. Not to mention the savage July heat. But after another hour, I'd managed to dig to a depth and width that contained the box more than twice its height, all below the grass line. I considered it a done deed.

I took a break, observed my work, and snapped a self-portrait. This is what it looks like to labor under a raging Mississippi sun. Note the multiple beads of sweat. The angry, solemn gaze. The soaking wet shirt.

And that is how I dug Tybalt's Grave.

Toyota Prius Comes To Town

Fantastic news for The Magnolia State. Toyota has announced that its next generation hybrid (which may include solar panels on the roof) will be built in my home state of Mississippi. Very good news all around: 1) It will bring much needed jobs to the state (we're not too far behind DETROIT on unemployment), 2) It will bring such vehicles to market sooner, and 3) The proximity of the production will reduce the impact on the environment by shortening the delivery process. Very glad to hear the news and hope to hear more like it.
Blue Springs, Mississippi:

"As part of a sweeping set of changes that reflect the state of the automobile business in the United States, Prius production will begin here in late 2010 at a brand-new plant currently under construction in Blue Springs, Mississippi."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nice Marmet

See! This is what I get for moving back to the Gulf Coast instead of going with my gut instinc and hauling butt to Louisville, KY, when I had the chance. Now I'm going to miss ANOTHER LEBOWSKI FESTIVAL!

From the FAQ:

What exactly is Lebowski Fest?
Lebowski Fest is a bowling event celebrating all things relating to the Coen Brothers 1998 film, The Big Lebowski. It can be likened to a Star Trek convention in a very loose sense. The event takes place at a bowling alley and includes unlimited bowling, costume , trivia, farthest traveled, and bowling contests, prizes, and what-have-you. The friend of the Coen Brothers who inspired the main character played by Jeff Bridges, Jeff "The Dude" Dowd has been known to make an appearance and drink some White Russians.
I am the walrus.

Karmic Debt

For the past couple of weeks I've been sifting through my change, plucking out the state quarters or the new one dollar coins and keeping them on my desk. I had a nice collection going.

Today, I get to work and discover that about half of my collection has either walked away on its own power or been pilfered after I left.

A quick call to House Keeping tells me what I already deduced: our offices were cleaned last night.

But I think to myself: If that person needs 6 quarters and two dollar coins bad enough to risk their job by stealing it, I'm not going to complain. He or she needs the coins more than I do. So I mark it up as payment toward a karmic debt.

Rotated Right

Not to be outdone by her brother, Meg had a surprise in store for me tonight. I go to turn out her light, and find that not only is she on top of the covers, but she has rotated ninety degrees to the right. Both feet are nearing the ground and one arm is draped over the side.

Yo, Meg! If you wake up tomorrow and your back hurts, this is why!

Little Heroes

As soon as it came out, Cindy bought Aerosmith's Guitar Hero. Having never played a video game, never touching a guitar in her life, and being way too old, she was surprised to learn she wasn't good at it. Liam, however, plays video games on a daily basis, is way too young, and has built-in moshing genes. Therefore: he rocks! Short of beating Joe Perry, he has mastered the game, aldready.

So, today, we pick up a copy of Guitar Hero: Legends Of Rock. Shortly thereafter, I discover that nothing makes a man's heart break in half like watching his son jam out and bang his head to IRON MAIDEN! If it that were not enough, my wee girl Meg reaches over and starts rocking the "whammy bar." Then my little guitar heroes tore up a set of Number Of The Beast and followed it with a slightly restrained (but very jammerific) version of One, by Metallica.

It was a thing of beauty.

And as I turned around to call Roger (to share the thrill of the moment with him (as Cindy couldn't appreciate the true sense of love and adoration I had reached)) I saw the hudled masses behind me were also moshing and thrusting their arms violently in a sign of respect. And there was much rejoicing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

MUSIC - Tone - Small Arm Of Sea

Tone (Sofie Nielsen) a female "indietronica" singer, songwriter and producer released her first albulm, Small Arm Of Sea, back in January. I've had it lurking around here for a while and never hit PLAY until recently Three comments resulted:
  • I've never reviewed music before. But this one was so impressive and interesting that as I listened to it, I thought to myself: I need to tell people about it.

  • I don't know what "indietronica" is, but it appears to meld electonica, smooth vocals, and a subtle touch of pop. The whole albulm is very crisp, hypnotic, quietly intense, and mellow. There were many subtle effects that I only caught due to my iPod blocking out the rest of the world. One of the most challenging pieces of audio I've sampled in a long while. I certainly won't be working out to Small Arm Of Sea, but I'll listen to it in traffic (or what passes for traffic down here!)

  • Tone was released to stores in the normal man, but also released completely free and unfettered online. You can download the entire thing here.
Grrrreatly enjoyed Tone's first alumb. Well worth the price of admission and worthy of a strong recommendation. I hope other people at least download it and try it out. I'm certainly looking forward to additional works from her.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

This Olde House - Bathroom Updates

Several small steps toward finishing our little bathroom. It is very encouraging to see so much getting completed and knowing we're almost there.

First, the electrical is done. My father was able to wire up the new electrical outlet (far right) and it is a GFC, unlike the original. He also tied in the new light (up top) and it is independent of the outlet, unlike the original. And he put in the dual switch (left) for the new vent/fan. Everything came together nicely and I'm super impressed with how much lemonade Dad made out of my lemons.

Second, the walls are up and the mud is pulled down. I had a new guy (George) work on it. He did a great job getting everything hung and he did it much quicker than I would have, but he didn't finish the job. Fortunately, all I really have to do is sand down the excess. And that's not a big task. I should have it smoothed in a couple of hours this weekend. Also have to add some additional cement boards, to take the tile higher than we initially thought, but that shouldn't be an issue, either. Measure twice, cut once, dozen screws later, and I'm done.

Finally, just today, we installed the new vent/light in the ceiling. I crawled up in the attic and tackled it from the top, while Dad climbed on a chair and tackled it from the bottom. Nearly two hours in the poorly-vented attic, in very cramped quarters, stretched prone on ancient insulation, under the hot July sun. I was super thrilled to get the unit in place and show Cindy that it was working. But it was an arduous task. And it was only made possible with my father's help. I'm going to put some CFC bulbs and then put on the ultra-cool cover.

Still to do:
  • Sand the walls - on Friday
  • Tile the floor - on Saturday
  • Tile the walls - on Sunday
  • Paint the walls - next week
  • Put in the fixtures - next Saturday
  • Put on the new door - next Sunday

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Liam Takes Wing

Went to turn off Liam's TV and I found him like this. Arms up. Wrists out. Like he's going to take wing and fly away.

Yo, Liam. If you wake up and your hands are sore? This is why!

Springheads Revisited

Back in the 20th Century, I worked for MindSpring. It was an interesting place, to say the least. It was the anti-corporation. Staffed by pyschotic, unkept, blue-haired freaks and neo-hippies, like me.

We had Core Values & Beliefs. We had a three-legged mascot. We were under-paid and over-worked. But we given crazy levels of respect and responsibility. And a lot of us liked it.

I still talk, almost daily, to many of the people I met back then. I miss seeing them. We all miss MindSpring.

I think I'm going to ping some of the old crew. Get updates on them. See if they'll let me share their stories. Sort of a "Where Are They Now?" Or a Springheads Revisited.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Harboring fond memories of this weekend's adventures with Kimmer and The Ladies. Good to be away from the kids. Good to be around The AlphaDawg. Good to spend some quiet, un-rushed time with Cindy.

Hard getting back to the reality of a family and a job and a long list of To-Dos for the house. Like jumping in the trenches for a second tour of duty.

Back to the battle field of my own reality.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Sun Dog

We drove to the small town of Seaside, FL. Cindy had spent some time there a few years ago. She wanted us to see her favorite little bookstore: Sundog Books. It sits right in the heart of the quaint little beach community. The bottom half of the two-story building is dedicated to books. Lots of hardware floors and large open windows. Stacks of oddly arranged books. Plenty of atmosphere.

The top half of the building is dedicated to audiophiles. A place called Central Square Records. Far less bustling than its downstairs neighbor, but equally packed with adventure. All different genres of music whimsically placed under hand-written signs. I liked the mottled atmosphere but I was depressed there wasn't a DJ spinning live tunes on an old turn table. And I don't think I saw anywhere to buy any coffee in the place. Music and books and coffee go together like Hemingway and Cuban Rum.

Back downstairs, I think I found the Sundog himself. Curled up in the middle of the scuffed wooden floor. Resting in the sunlight. An old stud of a dog. Slow and graceful. He didn't bother anyone. And didn't look up as I captured his image. Sat there and enjoyed the noise and heat of the crowd spinning around him. I don't know if they named the joint after this dude, or not. Maybe he showed up after-the-fact and claimed the place as his own. Either way, it was amazingly appropriate and smacked of obscenely good karma. Quite a comfortable place for everyone involved.

Amid the stacks of books, on a display table close to the front door where they'd get the most attention, I found a curious pair. The combination made me chuckle. How many folks passed by without catching the joke?

 Next time we find ourselves in Seaside, FL, we'll be stopping by Sundog Books to pick up our intellectual supplies.

The Price We Pay

Two chairs and an umbrella for the day: $40

Half a dozen mixed drinks: $60

Escaping from parenthood for the first time in eight years and finding yourself surrounded by oiled-up bikinis: Priceless

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Childless Holiday

Our last vacation without the children was when Liam was a wee baby. Back then, we went to Disney World with our buddies Chris and Christie. Since then, we have either taken the kids with us, or just not gone anywhere. So for the first time this century, we set out on our own.

We left around eleven, detoured to Mobile, AL, shopped at Kohl's, and went looking for lunch. After we married, Cindy and I moved to Mobile. We both tried Chinese food for the first time there. And we went looking for our old favorite: China Doll. But when we get there, it is empty. They're closed for the holiday! As we cruise around looking elsewhere, most of the rest of the city is closed, too. Fortunately, we found an open Panera Bread. But we were sad that we wouldn't get to revisit the first place we ever tried Chinese.

Finally, we made it into Destin, FL, and found our resort: Baytowne Warf. Beautiful property. Recently built, in 2002, and very well tended. The staff was great. The entire facility was extremely clean and intuitive to explore. Full of little shops and bars and eateries. Lots of families with young kids. Lots of Northern accents. It reminded us of Disney World. Especially the little trams we could take from place to place. Yet even with all the amenities, it wasn't overly expensive. And (thankfully!) it wasn't remotely crowded.

Eventually, we caught up with Kim "AlphaDawg" Hall and his lady. Things rapidly got blurry. We had some drinks (one strong margarita and Cindy was loopy) then ate then walked around the marina then drank some more then hung stretched out some blankets on a lawn and hung out to watch fireworks.We just caught up and compared notes and drank. In the background, some annoying local band was playing. A longwinded guitarist, a shrill violinists gal, and an unspeaking drummer. Not the best entertainment on the trip. But very refreshing to be with other adults and not have to worry about getting back home any time soon.

Just after 9PM, the resort set off their firework show. Muuuuch different than the $40 show I put on last night. A lot of aerial bombs and some thunderous explosions. Some very forgetful music. A lot of ooohs and aaahs. Throw in a smooth buzz. It was all good.

Tired from the trip and the excess delights, we parted ways and drifted back to our rooms. Resting up for tomorrow.