Monday, February 28, 2005

The Misguided Post about the Oscars Feb 28th

I watched most of the Academy Awards tonight, a useless bit of trivia unless you're tallying up all the hours I've wasted in my life.

Making it all the more pathetic is the fact that I've only seen one of the contenders for Best Picture, the over-rated Ray, which made the experience about as thrilling as watching election results from Bolivia.

Still, there were some items of note:

I thought Chris Rock was a funny host, even if his misplaced Bush rant embittered me almost as much as the "Vote for John Kerry!" sermon at a Barenaked Ladies concert this summer.

(I say almost, because Rock is an American citizen and entitled to his opinion; it was awkward enough paying to see a Canadian band, much less one that didn't know how to mind their own business)

But it's hard to hold a grudge against someone that starred in Friday. I got over it.

Anyone else think Renee Zwellger looked older than Clint Eastwood? Yikes.

I'm in love with Kate Winslet (okay, lust) so I was hoping she'd win, but to be honest I don't think her role in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was worth a nomination.

I am, however, quite happy that Sunshine's writer, Charlie Kaufmann, won an Oscar.

Having Penelope Cruz and Selma Hayek partner up to present an award must have been someone's idea of a joke. I haven't had to wade through that an accent that strong since my cable box was stuck on the Yakov Smirnoff festival.

Joke ruined by a mere week's timing: Is it just me, or have you noticed that Alan Alda and the BTK killer resurfaced at the same time?

My wife took offence to Scarlett Johnannsen's answer to "What actresses did you idolize as a child?" saying it sounded rehearsed and unrealistic when she said "Judy Garland."

Maybe. But she's still mighty hot.

Al Pacino: if that hair gets any higher he could trade places with the singer from Counting Crows.

Robin Williams should thank heavens for the gag order imposed on him. At least now he has an excuse for not being funny.

'Bout time Morgan Freeman won an Oscar.

Antonio Banderas, Carlos Santana, and a movie about a Communist murderer. There should be a joke in there somewhere, but I can't think of one.

Most overblown blog response to the Oscars: to paraphrase a right-leaning site that shall go nameless, an author blasted the left-wing Hollywood establishment. He then went on to praise the hard-working farmers and construction workers of America whose "only golden statuette is the silhouette of the morning sun upon their brow."

Uh, yeah.

I was amazed to see that Virginia Madsen was nominated for best supporting actress. I don't mean that as a knock. After all, in my teenage years I spent many a fond moment watching her fine performances in late night cable movies.

Or as I like to call them "porn, but don't call it a porn because it's R rated and they only take their clothes off and fake having sex"

Guarantee: despite their lack of nominations, twenty years from now the only movies people will remember from 2004 are Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11.

And finally, 'tho I never thought I'd see the day, a moment where I felt a certain fondness for Ms. Streisand, as she seemed genuinely happy for Clint Eastwood.

So did his 96- year- old mother in the audience. Thank God for her genes indeed - maybe it means we'll have another twenty years to see Clint work his magic.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Best Wishes

Basil, a regular customer at work and occasional reader of this site, is leaving for an extended trip to China on Monday. Here's to a safe and enjoyable journey.

Quote of the Day

Last week my three-year old misbehaved at a store, yet stubbornly argued that she should still be rewarded with a candy. Her admament defence dragged on for nearly the entire ride home.

"I'll say this much for you," I told her "You're a tenacious little girl"

As soon as I saw the evil glint in her eyes I was fearful. "Why you say I have ten asses?" she said.

"I didn't say that, I said tenacious. It means stubborn. And don't say that word."

"Ten asses?"

"I said don't say that!"

"Why? Why you  say  I have ten asses? I don't have ten asses. Momma, Daddy said I have ten asses .Do you think I have ten asses?"

"You know full well what I said! Now stop saying that! It's not funny!"

Which was, in retrospect, not all that believable a statement while my wife was giggling in the front seat.

Raise my daughter among less reputable parents and you'd have a cross between Michael Corleone, Ozzy Osbourne, and a Disney Princess.

 

The Post about the Olympics Feb 27th

I stopped at my parents' house tonight to pay my respects. As expected they offered me a bag of groceries from their cupboard (they often confuse my rotund appearance with the symptoms of starvation. Not that I mind; they buy much yummier food than we can on our budget).

I was also, by sheer lack of timing on my part, subjected to the evening news.

Now I detest television news: national and local, cable and broadcast. Every cliché on the subject is dead on - from the stilted banter and thirty-second in-depth analysis, to the hysterical weathermen who want this overweight smoker to buy into the idea that a thunderstorm may just be my undoing. I'll stick to the newspaper and the 'net, thank you.

[Of course, on the plus side, some of the local anchors are hot.]

But my parent's are addicted to the stuff, so there I sat. And wouldn't you know it, right after the 'special investigation' into whether those work-at-home emails are a scam (surprise, they are!) I actually learned something.

It seems the US is pushing hard to host the Olympics again, this time in New York City.

For a good minute I was filled with pride. I was ten years old when the Olympics hit Los Angeles and I remember what a big deal it was - the majesty, the patriotism, and the boatload of free food McDonald's had to give out as prizes when the Soviets backed out and ceded the playing field to us.

Then I thought about it, and now I'm left half-hoping we aren't awarded the 2012 games.

If I were a New Yorker, I'd be hard-pressed to see the economic value to my city. Say it is well-organized and does well, which is no sure thing. Is that enough to offset the cost of building an 80,000 seat arena in Brooklyn - a building that has to be built if New York has any shot at all of winning the bid?

Add in years of additional traffic congestion and the fact that building these projects means evicting and leveling countless businesses and residences, and I don't see how this adds up as manna from heaven.

Let's not even bring up the subject of security . . .

But I'm not a New Yorker, and so my opinion, rightly, means as much to them as their opinion on foam cheese heads does to me.

But as an American, go back to what I said about the magic I felt watching the '84 Olympics. It seemed like a rare and special event, something that may not be repeated in my lifetime, an athletic Haley's comet.

So much for that.

In the last twenty-five years we've hosted one version or another of the Olympics on four occasions. Add New York to the list and,I'll have seen five Olympics on American soil before my fortieth birthday.

By that time, the Olympics will seem about as special as a rerun of Home Improvement.

Wile I normally hold the admirably Americentric view that the rest of the wold can take a flying leap, I wouldn't blame folks overseas if they looked upon us as a monopoly, ready and willing to outspend everyone for the honor.

That's not the Olympic image I want to cultivate.

I'm sure most people disagree with me; so be it.

One last parting shot though - if one of my kids ever makes the Olympics, I'm sure the trip of a lifetime would be all the more special for them if it didn't begin and end at someplace serviced by Greyhound.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Pictures

I must truly be stupid, because everytime I try to load the pics the proper way they're so big they warp the page . . . I think I have to change the pics themselves before doing the whole AOL thing, but I don't know how to go about that.

Odd, they look great on the monitor and on paper . . .

So anyway, follow the links below to view the pics (I'll be adding more later).

And yes, I'm in one, but I look like poop. But to be fair I was sick at the time, dressed in scrubs, and most importantly, everyone knows the camera adds 150 pounds.

 

The Post about the Bunk Beds Feb 25th

[If you are reading this via email updates, check the site itself later today. I'm going to try and load some pictures of the room in question. Wish me luck]

Taking care of a baby doesn't seem like half as much trouble as preparing for their arrival. (Of course it helps that I work and get a pass on most of the sour moments, but I digress)

When our oldest was born it meant tearing apart the room we used as an office/library, disposing of one cherished collection after another from our more than quarter-century of child-free years, painting, and decorating.

Our second was a bit easier, since they were both girls and would share a room, but still involved a drastic reduction in income and space.

Alas, this third time to the maternity ward will produce the long awaited Parker, son of Daniel, son of Edward, Son of Michael, son of John.

'Bout time my wife's eggs managed to recognize a Y-chromosome.

(kindly skip the science lecture. Science will eventually discern that that while the man directly determines a child's gender, a woman's egg has a specific gender preference and can accept or refuse a given visitor.

Thus, it's all her fault)

Now, last summer we'd moved into a three-bedroom flat to give us more breathing room. Like most old houses in Milwaukee, the bedrooms are small. The girls occupied the smallest as a bedroom, and we made the second into a playroom for them, with my wife painting a mural complete with a castle and princess on the wall.

Parker's impending arrival meant scrapping the playroom, which broke my heart.

We needed to move the girls out of their room and into the playroom, but to do that seemed impossible. Two beds - even toddler sized - would chew up almost all the space in the room. Remember, we still had to account for their toys, rocking horses, TV, dresser, bookcase, and table.

The solution seemed to be bunk beds, but standard bunk beds would chew up most of the room too. No one seemed to sell toddler sized bunks, even online, and a carpenter we contacted said no one would make them because of the danger of putting a toddler on an upper bunk.

Well, necessity being the mother of invention and all, I decided to make them myself. My wife's brother offered to help, and I accepted. Since he knew what he was doing and I didn't, it seemed like a wise choice.

Let it be known that I am not well known for my mechanical prowess. I can tune up a car, I can do light household maintenance, and once upon a time I built a nice little shelf in shop class, but that's it. If I'm shown what to do I can replicate it, but I have very little experience and thus very little knowledge.

Plus I can't measure worth a damn, which is a bad trait for carpentry.

Never-the-less, we pushed on.

I based the plans on a picture of some beds I found online, and used some ideas from a very basic plan I found on a different site, but modified it quite a bit. We reduced it in size, making the top bunk only 51 inches off the ground and the total height (including a canopy) 67 inches. Instead of a single post on each corner we crafted duel posts secured with carriage bolts, which made the bed strong enough to hold the weight of both my brother in law and myself - some five hundred pounds - before we'd even finished making the braces or screwing it together.

We made sure the bed rails and ladder steps were spaced a safe distance apart, routered the boards to eliminate sharp edges, abandoned the original design for the bed support and used both 2x4's and particle board, and recessed the mattresses to prevent them from slipping.

It wasn't easy. It was time consuming, there were mistakes and do-overs, and it ran so close to the end of the pregnancy that my nerves were getting frazzled.

But we did it.

And we did it cheap too - the total cost was under $150, and that included the satin fabric my wife bought to drape the bed like a princesse's castle.

(as with everything, you don't see problems with a design until you actually use it. I found the height of the canopy so low my daughter hits her head, so we're redoing it. Which means the pictures don’t show the fabric, which sucks).

And did the girls like it? Please! On February 19th, the first day it was in the house, they didn't want to leave the beds all day, not even to eat dinner! And my twenty-month old took to her bottom bunk - her first time sleeping outside a crib - like a champ!

Now all that was left was the nursery.

Many thanks to Bob Kohn for his help in making the beds, Eric Chambliss for transporting it and his wife Chris for some free hardware for the construction, Jonah Slapczynski for helping sand them, and Jeanne Scorsone forthe loan of a second sander and for some fantastic work on creating the canopy.

 

PS. Here's a pic of the completed canopy - the only negative is we matched the sheer fabric too well to the walls, rendering it almost invisible.

Clarification and Etc

I appreciate all the kind words about the delivery, both in the comments and via email, but let me clear something up: while the stats show progress towards the birth, we haven't entered the home stretch yet. Some women can take weeks to move from 2 to 3 centimeters. The due date remains either March 5th or a week later, depending on if you go by ultrasound data or the last missed period.

I'll keep you all updated and I hope the wishes are repeated when it is time for the big event :)

Also -if you are not an AOL user, feel free to use the comments page that can be found on the left of the page in the 'about me' section.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Update on the Pregnancy

Just in case anyone is interested, according to the doc my wife is now two centimeters dialated, 30% effaced, and the baby's at -2 and counting.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Post about Internet Quizes Feb 21st

One of the great advantages to being part of the Blogsphere is a growing understanding of myself as a person. For instance, just the other day I learned that I am a "'you're so dumb' happy bunny", defined as "you are brutal in your words and enjoy putting others down."

No guidance counselor was ever so accurate.

This and similar insights come from an abundance of surveys and quizzes scattered throughout our little electronic world of make believe. If I so desired, I could learn what color I am (in the Crayola sense of the word), what Star Trek or Star Wars character I best resemble, what superhero best describes me (Spiderman, tho' the foolish test came up with Supergirl. A guy wears a dress one time . . .), and even if I should best be called Earth, Wind, or Fire (I'd insert a EW&F joke here, but I'm woefully ignorant of their music catalog).

That I've chosen to take any of these goes against my grain. Oh, I love when I'm drafted at the mall into taking a consumer survey, and I'm the only guy in America that enjoys telemarketing calls, but I hate quizzes. They smack of Cosmo, that bastion of anti-masculine culture, and I cannot cross the line.

[Side note: I have a friend who subscribes to Cosmo, claiming that as a single man it provides him incredible insights into the female brain. How an article entitled How to make him Scream in Bed is something he'd like to incorporate into his own repertoire brings up questions we don't ask.]

So what's the difference? One cannot feel like part of a community until you participate in the actions considered important by that group. Thus, the quizzes.

Plus, I was bored.

Never-the-less I gotta say some of them are spot on. One dandy labeled me 26% white trash, a level that "will not keep you from becoming a doctor . . but will keep you from a good haircut and fashion sense." Another determined I was 33% tortured artist, not enough to "drive your life into a dark abysmal hole where you are alone against the world." Good to know.

I was also determined to be 57% Evil Genius, a score I think derived from a question asking if I've ever scared someone away with a look and then laughed at them. (hey, that old lady deserved it). I ranked as a moderate internet addict (no knowledge of some alphabet soup programming stuff) and surpassingly, a low level geek (based, I believe, on the fact that I do engage in actual intercourse. With a female. A non-avitar female. )

Some were far off the mark. I placed at the 24% level for 'raver', despite never attending a rave in my life. And the one that ticked me off - I rank as a mere 40% grunge. Excuse me? Grunge was the one true love of my college years. I once spent $40 to buy an intentionally distressed flannel, which I wore every other day for five years. I know the family tree for every Seattle band of the early '90's, bought anything SubPop put out, and I continue even now to collect evidence that Courtney killed Kurt.

40% my ass.

But let us end on a positive note. On the Hotlanta Kink Test I earned 350 points, placing me as "definitely a kinky player". Shamefully, I'm quite proud of this score, although it's a sham. I didn't answer all the questions honestly.

If I had, I'm sure I would have qualified as "Super Freak! You da Bomb!"

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Re: Where have you gone?

Sorry I haven't posted lately.

I haven't grown sick of blogging, nor am I suffering from burnout, psoriasis, or anything stronger than a cold.

I've just been very busy in a mad effort to get the house ready for the baby  - hopefully  in time to allow a week of relative relaxation before the birth.

I'll try to get the site back on a normal schedule by Monday.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Misc chatter

1. I was just checking my BlogExplosion stats and noticed that one person has actually dropped me from their Blogmark page. Ouch. I didn't think the book list was that boring.

2. BTW, the books in blue (in the post below) I whole-heartedly recommend. I tried to edit the post to tell you that (and correct some typos) but it keeps freezing on me.

3. To answer an email question, The DaVinci Code isn't on the list because I read it in '03 (the 30th of 79 books that year). Let us be clear on my opinion - the book sucks on a hundred different levels. It's success can only be explained away by reminding ourselves that at one point our society also raved about Vanilla Ice, Teletubbies, and above ground nuclear testing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

The Substitute Post while I paint the Nursery Feb 9th

My wife and I are hard at work prepping the nursery for the arrival of Parker in early March?. To my shame, I haven't had time to scrabble together a post. In fact, I took an extra day off work - something I do maybe twice a year - just to finish the painting.

So, here's something I wrote about a month ago but considered too boring to post. Ain't that a great recommendation?

A long time ago I read Louis Lamour's posthumous autobiography, The Education of a Wandering Man. At the end of the book Lamour included a list of every book he read over the course of some of his 'yondering' days.

Although the lists were panned in reviews of the book, I resolved then and there to start taking stock of what books came across my plate. Beginning in 1994 and continuing to this day, I've done just that, jotting down the name and author of every book I've read.

Yeah, I know. It sounds lame to me too.

But I keep doing it. My shortest list was the year I met my wife, when I was too busy to care about heading off to the bookstore. My longest was sometime in the last three years, when I cleared eighty-some odd books.

I keep aiming for the century mark and falling short.

To rationalize my failure a bit, the list is very particular. Not only do I have to complete a book, I have to have read any and all forwards, footnotes, appendixes, and dedication pages. Maybe five books a year fail to make the list for failing to meet one or all of these criteria.

Lamer still, I know.

Anyhow, before I ramble myself into a straight-jacket, here's the list for 2004; and I warn ya, it's a weak one. I was mired in a few monster works of non-fiction for most of the summer that knocked me off pace. In addition I generally don't read other people's work when I'm stressing my own writing.

Floating Dragon by Peter Straub

Koko by Peter Straub

Mystery by Peter Straub

The Throat by Peter Straub

Julia by Peter Straub

Shadowland by Peter Straub

Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davis

The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Buddy Holly, The B.B, and Ritchie Valens by Larry Lehmer

Big Bad Wolf by James Patterson

Bad Business by Robert B Parker

Shall We Tell the President? By Jeffrey Archer

A Marginal Jew Vol. 1 by Joseph P. Maier

If you Copuld See Me Now by Peter Straub

The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub

The Birth of the Messiah: A commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke by Raymond E Brown

Double Play by Robert B Parker

The Enemy by Lee Child

Tripwire by Lee Child

The Possession of Joel Delaney by Ramona Stewart

Hark by Ed McBain

LazyBones by Mark Billingham

Plan of Attack by Dale Brown

Absent Friends by SJ Rozan

Sharpe's Escape by Bernard Cornwell

The Bone Parade by Mark Nykanen

The Madman's tale John Katzenbach

Sudden Prey by John Sandford

Hawke's Harbor by SE Hinton

An Unpardonable Crime by Andrew Taylor ? ?

Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham

Cold Blood by Theresa Monsour

The Music of the Spheres by Elizabeth Redfern

The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great by Stephen Pressfied

The Godfather Returns by Mark Winegardner

Melancholy Baby by Robert B. Parker

You'll notice I tend to binge on a single authour and then move on.

My favorites? Well, I'll tell you the worst of the bunch - Plan of Attack by Dale Brown and the oldie by Jeffrey Archer. My favorites are harder to sort out, but I must say that I was really drawn to the non-fiction biblical studies this year.

I swear, I get dorkier by the minute.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

For my Wife's Peace of Mind

Lisa is slightly disturbed by the personal nature of the two posts on mice.

Let me set the record straight: if we had a problem with rodents or pests, I would have gone insane years ago.

In nearly ten years of living together this is only the second mouse I've seen in our home (the first was one my cat killed and brought home as a 'trophy'), and we've never had a problem with other pests. The mice mentioned in the rest of the piece were at work or at other locales.

Also, I feel it neccessary to point out that while rodents are my achille's heel, it does not in any way reduce the fact that I am, to be fair, the studliest man in America.

 

Dan

Super Bowl Prediction

Not much of a surprise here, but I'm going with the Patriots.

Above and beyond the fact they play like a brutal, uncompromising machine, have the edge in experience, and shut down Indy in the playoffs (in what was probably the best game of the year), they just flat out have more attractive uniforms than the Eagles.

Pats 27 Eagles 17

Although the score was tighter than I expected, the Pats walked away with yet another title. Two observations:

Where was this vaunted coaching of Andy Reid? The Eagles time management was awful, as was their play calling in the closing minutes. Yikes.

When you look at McNabb's stats, you don't get this impression - but the man choked. Not only did he give up the ball at the worst possible times, he looked sick to his stomach when Philadelphia got the ball back with a chance to win it all.

JMHO

 

The Post about my Mouse Feb 5th

For those of you paying attention, yes, the chronology in this post and the one before it seems a little out of whack.

 In truth the previous post was written in November, but not posted becasue I feared it would jinx me. When it didn't matter anymore (see this post) I decided  to give it a whirl.

 

Curse the fates.

A mouse made the migration.

About a week ago I was helping the wife make dinner when I saw what, to my eyes, looked like chocolate sprinkles in the cupboard.

You will note that chocolate sprinkles, while never advertised as such by the manufacturer, bear a striking resemblance to mouse droppings.

My wife put me at ease, pointing out we did have sundae toppings on that very shelf and the kids probably spilled some.

Fine.

Now explain why a few days later a box of crackers was chewed to bits.

Here's where my wife lost me. Normally, to salvage my fragile sanity I can deny reality at will. Not so my wife, who is overly realistic to a fault.

So forgive me for doing a cartoon double-take at her response:

"Maybe the kids did it," she said.

Hey, my kids are beasts when it comes to snack food, and the youngest does have quite a set of choppers, but I doubt they would choose to chew through a box instead of just . . . opening it.

And how did she explain the equally violated box behind it?

"I think I remember yelling at Olivia for doing that," she said.

Yeah, uh-huh. Hey, who knows? If she believed that, maybe she does mean it when she tells me size doesn't matter.

Within a few minutes, the frightening truth came to light: by way of a crack between the cupboard and the wall, a mouse had been feasting on our rations.

[as this isn't Fear Factor I'll leave out what we found in the box of rice; nor will I mention that we'd made chinese food the night before]

I've already explained my fear of mice, so we'll gloss over the aftermath: the panic attack, the persistent and morbid belief that every gust of wind was a mouse crawling on my skin, and the fact that my wife had to all but slap me and tell me to be a man before I'd handle a bag of garbage that included the cracker boxes.

My only hope was that we'd catch the bugger soon. After my wife set the traps (what, you expected me to do it?) I spent an uneasy night tossing and turning.

Overnight the traps had been licked clean without catching a thing.

To say this heightened my anxiety is an understatement. That evening, I came up with a new plan - newly baited traps, each surrounded by a wall of glue traps.

If he figured a way around that, forgetaboutit - no way I was staying in the same house as something that'd escaped from Nimh. .

We got him.

He died heroically, as mice go - he'd gotten tangled in the glue traps, each paw stuck to a different trap, but pushed onward towards his destiny (in this case, the spring trap)

He stayed where he was for a few hours after I found him, until my wife woke up and arranged his funeral.

As for me, I am still recovering.

Despite the fact that I have cleaned the house top to bottom and found no trace of another beast, and that the traps we set out as a precaution remain untouched, I'm leery. Even with fresh groceries I still won't eat anything from the cupboard, and the kitchen gives me the creeps.

The upside to this? Our family has enjoyed more dinners out in the last week than in the whole of 2004.

Of course, by doing this we can no longer afford a mousetrap if we do get another visitor . . .

Friday, February 4, 2005

Civil War Shorthand

 I came across this on a websearch for 'shorthand' and thought it funny enough to share - although it may come across as an inside joke for history buffs.

 

 E-MAIL SHORTHAND THAT CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS WOULD LIKELY HAVE USED IN LETTERS HOME HAD THE TECHNOLOGY BEEN AVAILABLE TO THEM.

By Rob Eccles

- - - -

w/o:roht
Without reward or hope thereof

ryahud;)
Remaining your affectionate husband until death

iop/loc
(With/by) Impulse of patriotism and love of country

iawap:)
I am well at present

s't
Shan't

iaotl:)
I am among the living

y:(
The Yanks

i-r
I reckon

frot:)
(In) fond remembrance of thee

s!
Shelling

iaptiy:(
I am pained to inform you

iwot
In want of tobacco

=|:(#
Old Abe

s-r
Snug as a bug in a rug

lisnbatwtya
Lest I should not be able to write to you again

bfo
(The) bitter fruit of orphanage

Gc&t
(In honor of/for love of) God, country, and thee

lt
Lieutenant; lead thither (situational)

bt2m
Been through the mill

sa2ht
Scarce as a hen's teeth

$;)
Greenbacks

~
Body lice

B!
Bully (to you)!

t't
T'weren't

i3ntisfotbfmc:(
If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Buddy Holly

Today, take a moment to listen to a Buddy Holly song and realize why it's called the day the music died.

 

The Post about my Neighbors' Mice Feb 3rd

My next door neighbors have mice.

This wouldn't be a problem if we lived in a nice new sub-division with half an acre of land between their house and ours. But this is the south side of Milwaukee. Our house isn't just a stone's throw away, it's a stones throw for a one armed child with tennis elbow.

It may also pose a slight problem because of my deep and unyielding fear of any rodent that doesn't have a theme park named after him.

For those of you who know me, this is old news. You may skip down the page without fear of retaliation. For those of you new to my world:

I am a 6'3", 300-pound man.

I have been charged by pit bulls while working for a land surveyor.

I have escaped harm at the hands of a group of drunk thugs by pure bravado.

I have, as a hotel manager, kicked out many people with bad mojo in their heart and good firearms at their side.

I have also pushed my wife off a chair and jumped atop it at the sight of a mouse.

I once, at the age of twenty-nine, considered calling my Dad to pick up a dead mouse I found on my property.

I had an on-duty police officer intervene the sole time I tried to kill a mouse, and had him reprimand me for asking him - seriously - to shoot it.

In short, I have a slight fear of mice.

So you can imagine my distress when my neighbor casually dropped her news in my lap. It's just one or two, she said. One or two? That, to me, is the difference between a panic attack and hospitalization.

I thought back to when I moved in. I asked the departing resident - smoothly, I thought - if there had ever been any, you know, mice or anything?

"Oh, we had a mousy here or there, but nothing for years now, "she said. A 'mousy'.

It took my wife a week to get me to stop sleeping in the car.

Logically, I know there is no guarantee that these monsters will visit my home. I can rationalize that my neighbor is a filthy, uncombed woman (which sadly, is untrue). I can conclude that my foundation is miraculously more secure than that of her house. I can hope that she terminates these creatures quickly and completely.

Yet these are just convenient lies. I have no doubt that my neighbor is a clean, meticulous housekeeper. I am sure her basement foundation is as tightly sealed as Don Corleone’s alibi. I know she will fail to punish these rodents as they deserve. Already I can see, in my mind's eye, the mice marching calmly from her house to mine.

So my mind fills with battle plans. Do I purchase traps now, with the idea of ending the threat before I even see it? Do I explore the idea of an exterminator? Or do I do what, frankly, seems like the only intelligent thing to do:

Pull up stakes and move immediately.

Yes, there's the possibility that some minor harm would result. Certainly the kids would miss their friends, our modest investment would be for naught, my wife would be incensed; insignificant riff raff, all. For me, it's worth it.

Or, I could bite the bullet and act like a man. I could put the worries out of mind, and when and if they materialize I could face my phobia and overcome it once and for all.

Uh, yeah.

See you in Toledo.