Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Tet Offensive - 40 years later

Forty years ago today, following on the heels of premature attacks the day before, the infamous Tet Offensive began with co-coordinated strikes across South Vietnam.

From a military standpoint it was a blessing in disguise for the South, as in hindsight both sides agree the attack was a military disaster for the Communists.

It inspired no general uprising against Saigon - on the contrary, it inspired a wave of anti-VC sentiment. It did not lead to the disintegration of the ARVN (South Vietnamese forces); they fought some of their most successful actions during Tet. Casualties were high, virtually eliminating the Viet Cong as a military force and morphing the action from a perceived civil war into a blatant inter-nation conflict as the North was forced to assume the brunt of combat duties.

Of course, the perception was that the North was alarmingly successful, and in all things perception is 80% of the battle. The media and the American public came to the conclusion the war was a quagmire and, right or wrong, that victory was not possible.

It was the beginning of the end, for both American involvement and the nation of South Vietnam.

My father was there with the Air Force, stationed at Phu Cat airbase. From my understanding he arrived in-country not long before the attack and spent the majority of the next few weeks helping supply Khe Sanh.

On admittedly short notice I asked him to compile a few memories of his experiences. He has yet to get back to me, but when/if he does I’ll post it here, in this entry, and I’ll let folks know of its arrival via a quick new entry.

The anniversary of the attack garnered no media attention that I saw, heard, or read, not even a mention on Refdesk.

I suppose as a nation we don’t feel the need to look backwards or dwell on the past, and dredging up memories of Vietnam probably isn’t very popular in light of our involvement in Iraq. Besides, I doubt the media is eager to admit they altered the course of history by abandoning their role as objective or reasoned observers. Best all around to forget.

Well, I remembered. And to all the servicemen, US, ARVN, Australian and ROK, who held the line and turned back the Offensive, granting South Vietnam seven more years of precious freedom, . . . Thank you. Your sacrifice, even in light of Saigon’s fall, was valuable and honorable.

Again, thank you.

J-Land Photo Shoot #127

I enjoyed last weeks contest, so here's another entry in Sometime's I Thinks J-Land Photo Shoot.

The subject this week is OLD.

This is a picture taken on my first tour of the home I live in now, which was vacant for a number of years. 

The cloth electrical wires and old-school fuses above, when combined with a vastly outdated power supply (to my recollection, less than half the juice that flows into a 'normal' home), were not enough to power a modern fridge or washer.

As a result the house had only an old ringer washer and an icebox. As you can imagine we replaced and updated the electical service.

Now that I look at the link above I realize I've posted this pic before, as part of that tour. So, in the interest of not selling the same item twice, here's a shot of the washer I mentioned (there were actually two in the basement).

* * * *

Tonight Lost returns for Season Four, and let the word spread far and wide: knock on my door, call my phone, Nextel me, or otherwise interrupt the glory of watching my favorite show in HD on a big screen (for the first time) and you will face a wrath unseen since the time of the Pharoahs.

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A follow up on our efforts w/ AOL Journals

I want to thank everyone who stopped by and supported our efforts to get a save and print option for our Journals.

Just so everyone knows I didn't give up the cause, I sent the following letter to some AOL editors.

"To all AOL Editors:

 

Last week I used my blog to request that AOL give us a means of making our journals a little more permanent, either by creating a ‘save’ feature or a ‘printable’ version of each entry.

 

http://journals.aol.com/slapinions/Slap-Inionscom/entries/2008/01/13/to-all-aol-journalers/2206

 

The entry seemed to hit a nerve in J-Land, since as of this writing nearly a hundred journalers have stopped by to lend their support in the comment section of that post. And small wonder – for most of us our journals are scrapbooks and biographies recording entire years of our life.

 

Each of these journals represents not only a valued customer but a consistent source of ad revenue. Remember, an ad banner runs across every page of an AOL Journal. There are many blogs that post dozens of entries a month and garner hundreds of hits or more- with each visit putting money in AOL’s pocketbook.

 

We ask again that AOL create both a save and a print option for our journals as soon as possible.

 

Thank you,

 

Dan (aka slapinions) and luddie343, hunybea4him, midwestvintage, mutualaide, manda2177, mleighin21st, rebuketheworld, sunnyside46, deshelestraci, irisheyes1929, merry1621, quartrlyfecrysis, oddb0dkins, fowfies, ladymagnolia1963, heavenlybama, helmswondermom, ma24179, jeanno43, maryajacobs5, jibaro6543,sybilsybil45, mariealicejoan, libragem007, redpoppy007, tendernoggle, ora4uk, wwfbison, blazensun, winivere2002, chasferris, gaboatman, thegirlnexdoor77, innxdoor, sylviam4000, easteeleco, southernmush, onemoretina, jhorky, layla44808, preciousone25, slimhawk,lsfp1960, stupidsheetguy, bojgill4375, justplainbill, jckfrstross, shrbrisc, magran42, barbpinion, nelishianatl, sdoscher458, cacklinrosie101, abaleman666, yakima127, kaydeejay5449, rdautumnsage, justaname4me2, bhbner2him, peytonswater, memes121, seraphoflove9001, astoriasand, oldetownephotos, lv2trnscrb, csandhollow, valphish, luvrte66, labdancer51, nightmaremom, jackiepie,aniracj, gehi6, madcobug, adlessor, thebaabee, bgilmore725, monponsett, catslittertray,bookncoffee, pharmolo, specialadyfink, kirkbyj05, edwardssoapy, geocachelinda66, jeanno43, rap4143,jeadie05, scotthlori, kellwitch, chevyz71gurl74, alphawoman1, astaryth,jeannescorsone, fisherkristina, quartrlyfecrysis, gaboatman, abaleman666, kirkbyj05

 

* * *

I wanted to send it to the editors/authors of all the 'editor blogs' located on the AOL Journals homepage (http://journals.aol.com) but the vast majority open to standard web sites, so I was unable to obtain their screenames. Moreover many of the blogs state that they've moved on to .com addresses.

Why AOL editors would choose to blog in a format completely unlike what they offer us is open for debate.

In the end the email went to:

 -----Original Message-----
From: ">slapinions@aol.com
To:
JournalsEditor@aol.com Williammorris@aol.com" _nanciymeng@aol.com; leonaoflaherty@aol.com
Sent: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 4:46 pm
Subject: AOL Journals

But as it turns out nancyimeng has changed her email address so I forwarded it on to here new one: nancie.meng@corp.aol.com.

I'm also going to pop on Magic Smoke and copy the email into a comment there.

I'll let you all know what, if anything, I hear.

UPDATE: Mere hours after sending the email, I received this:

Thanks for the email on this!
Would printing to a PDF file be useful?
http://presence.webmail.aol.com/IM/?sn=williammorris&locale=en-us&pd=0 ______________________________________________________________________________
William Morris
We've got Community! Try our new People Connection... http://peopleconnection.aol.com
 
Could a solution be on the horizon??



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Crazy Day, a worrisome furnace, a physical and a Big Red Dog

Here's a few pics of the girls as they prepared to depart for school today during Catholic Schools Week.

Today was designated as "Crazy Day" and we took full advantage the opportunity to not hunt and peck for uniforms and matching socks. Not seen in the pics are their mismatched shoes.

 

Smiley got in the act too.

It certainly seemed crazy to be having school in the first place today, with temperatures of -4F,winds of 20 mph, and a wind chill approaching -40F. Many of the Catholic schools in the area are closed - most I think - but ours stays open whenever (Milwaukee) Public Schools give it a go, and so school was in session. Nevermind that MPS is insane and is making thousands of kids wait on bus stops in this weather.

 The wife asked if we should keep the kids home. Heck no, I said - it’s a warm building and a warm meal (we drop them off so there was no bus issue) and that ‘warm building’ was something I couldn’t guarantee here.

You see, at about 5 am I was woken up, in my cozy bedroom on the second floor, by the knock-knock-knocking on my chamber door of my basement furnace.

I headed downstairs thinking of that Dad from A Christmas Story “who closed the damper!"and wondering what magic he had to keep his furnace going. For those who don’t know, my furnace is age-old, certainly older than me.

Me? No clue. So at 6 in the morning I called my friend the Socialist, who said he’d be over in 20 minutes. He arrived promptly and fixed it almost as quickly, lubricating a drive shaft in what he called the ‘squirrel cage’. Maybe, just maybe, we can still hold off on a new furnace until next fall.

Once again Socialist has proved his worth and his loyalty, and I thank him.

 * * * * * *

YaYa and LuLu both had shots yesterday, and YaYa had a comprehensive physical. She weighs 47 pounds and stands 48 inches tall (“You’re almost a square!,” the nurse said) and is in good health.

Her eyesight didn’t come out that great though. It was 20/25 in one eye and 20/40 in the other and she was referred to an eye doctor. Not a big deal, seeing as both her parents wear glasses (I started in 1st grade), but there was some thought she was tanking the test for shi*s and giggles. She’s never shown signs of bad eyesight nor complained about it.

 “Are you sure? Do you have trouble seeing at school?“ my wife asked.

 “No,“ she answered. “Well, sometimes I can’t see the spelling words on the board, but that’s it.”

Oh, well, as long as it’s not affecting something important like your education kid.

 * * *

Lisa ran out of gas on the way home from the physical, and in a bad neighborhood no less, as she missed her original freeway exit. Just wanted my gallant rescue on the record. That’s all. :)

 * * *

I missed A.I. last night but gobbled up four episodes of Family Guy split between several stations. Lisa was laughing because as soon as one episode ended I’d holler “turn on channel 57, Family Guy’s on!”

Sure, I’m doing my usual binge, no doubt followed by a sharp purge in the near future, but for now Family Guy makes me burst out laughing time after time.

Obnoxiously, no less.

Here's a clip of the 'over' sketch from the episode where Stewie and Brian buy a home.

* * *

 I took my measurements on November 11th as my current weight-loss effort started and again last night. Despite a bad week here, the evidence was pretty clear.

 I lost 2 inches in my chest and stomach, an inch in my thighs, a half an inch in my waist, etc.. Last I checked I weighed in at 342, down maybe 30 from my 2007 highpoint.

 I can’t see the difference, although my clothes no longer feel like a girdle. The trick is to keepup the effort and push forward.

 * * *

Re: Clifford the Big Red Dog “Clifford grew so big the Howards’ had to leave their home . . “. That’d be the f*ing day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Some Shots of Lauren

 

Here's some pics of Lauren. For some reason the photo program would remove the red-eye on some pics but not others; if I ever have time I'll try to touch them up in the future. I love the last pic, by the way :)

Whoa, Nellie that's a big head! Mine, I mean, not the baby's.

 


Tags:

Three shots of our living room and a chance to show off some of my wife's work

First, a little before and after. Before, circa Jan-Feb of 2007:

And then in September of the same year. Granted, it's mainly cosmetic (except the floors) but impressive all the same.

The painting above the fireplace was done by my wife. She has an impressive knack for the visual arts/crafts/decorating/party-planning. I have none of her skills in that area, but I have her on one point: she has no imagination for stories or make-believe. I'm serious. If you erased all stories from human memory and assigned her, and her alone, to get the ball rolling and come up with a story . well, better luck having me design a prom dress.

Here's another project of hers I find very impressive. She took an old painting we purchased at a yard sale and covered it with four squares of hand-selected fabric. I've always felt this rocked and that is was an imaginative improvement over the original painting.

[Note: I'm sorry the picture leaves a little to be desired. I just dashed upstairs to take the shot (it's 12:49am), flicked on the light, took the photo and dashed out before I woke up my wife. No time to orchestrate a great shot}

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Where's an editor when you need one?

From an AP article on the 2008 State of the Union address, written by Terence Hunt. The emphasis is my own:

"Bush made only one mention of Osama bin Laden, who remains at large more than seven years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 . . . "

Bear in mind that the last time I checked it was January 27th of 2008, nearly 8 months shy of the attack's seventh anniversary.

My intention here isn't political, and I know mistakes happen. I just find it amusing that an elementary school math error could slip past a professional journalist and his various editors.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Wife's Artwork for Catholic School's Week 2008

Catholic Schools Week begins Monday and my wife, as room mother for both of my daughters' classes, had the responsiblity of decorating their classroom doors. She had to make sure to work in the theme of  "Catholic Schools Light The Way"

Here's LuLu's door:

Each of the paper dolls is dressed in 'clothing' crafted from fabric scraps my sister Katie donated to Lisa. They each also hold a candle in their hands to 'light the way' - the candle being a string of white battery-operated christmas lights Lisa bought for the project.

YaYa's door features an idea I came up with, the use of fireflies:

Because this one was in some part my idea, in concept if not execution, I include a second photo.

Each of the fireflies features one of the before-mentioned lights on their behind.

A heck of a job - kudo's to the Mrs. Here's hoping the kids remember some of what she did for them years down the road.


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

OMG! (and please excuse all the !'s)

THIS IS NOT A JOKE

Woohoo!

People magazine's online edition is reporting a reunion of the New Kids on the Block, the seminal boy-band of the late '80's - early '90's!

Long time readers will recall that my wife and I have nearly 30  videotapes chock full of concerts and news footage of the band, and we have a trunk in storage jam-packed with everything from NKOTB slippers to trading cards to marbles and lunchboxes.

We even spent the turn-of-the-millenium in Boston at a Joey McIntyre concert. Hey I know it sounds odd, but my wife was a super fan and what the heck - they grew on me.

Who says you can't love Zeppelin and New Kids on the Block?

Man, what great news!

Here's the complete text of the article:

After months of speculation and rumor, the Kids are coming back. A well-placed source tells PEOPLE exclusively that New Kids On The Block are indeed getting back together.

The band's Web site,
www.nkotb.com, which had been dormant, is now back up and running in anticipation of the official announcement, which the source says will be made in the next few weeks.

The site currently features a television graphic with a fuzzy, flickering photos of NKOTB in their heyday, and a link inviting fans to sign up for info.

The boy band, which made legions of tweens swoon in the early '90s, selling more than 50 million albums, became a worldwide phenomenon before calling it quits in 1994.

Eighteen years later, they're still "Hangin' Tough." The oldest "Kid," Jonathan Knight, now a real estate developer, will turn 40 later this year. Since the band's demise, former members Donnie Wahlberg, 38, and Joey McIntyre, 35, have seen acting success, while Danny Wood, 38, has worked as a music producer and Knight's brother, Jordan, 37, has continued to record.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder, My Mother-In-Law and the Glory of Working Speakers

A major triumph last night.

[note: don't let the length of the post scare you off - 80% of this post is composed of lyrics that you may read or skip at your leisure]

After months without a working printer or speakers I managed to install our printer/fax/copier/scanner/refrigerator/bidet on our computer in less than three minutes. Who knows why I failed so many other times.

Then I attacked the sound on our computer. In the fall Lisa had stepped on the control unit for our speakers, rendering them useless. Subsequent efforts to install a working unit failed and we've been deaf for months.

[You know, most of the time when we had sound I'd have the volume on 'mute' and not give a dang, but the minute it was taken away it seemed every day there was a different song or video that we couldn't enjoy.]

So I figured out that we were missing a driver (thank you medion.usa.com!) and thought I had it solved.

No sound.

I went to bed, I went to work, I came home and had the computer freeze, restarted it . . and a few minutes later AOL belted out "Welcome! You've got mail!"

Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog! I'd forgotten to reboot to finalize the fix!

* * * * *

So I've been enjoying quite a bit of misc. noise online tonight . One of these is Jackson Browne's The Pretender, a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law.

She was quick to point out that the song didn't mean what she originally thought it did. It was intended as a song that empathized with my life, with work on one hand and a full family life on the other and not so much as a spare moment in between.

The song does that, but I think you'll agree there's a whole lot of resentment and regret and pity to go along with it, none of which applies to me. Here's the lyrics:

I'm going to rent myself a house
In the shade of the freeway
I'm going to pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I'll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I'll get up and do it again
Amen
Say it again
Amen

I want to know what became of the changes
We waited for love to bring
Were they only the fitful dreams
Of some greater awakening
I've been aware of the time going by
They say in the end it's the wink of an eye
And when the morning light comes streaming in
You'll get up and do it again
Amen

Caught between the longing for love
And the struggle for the legal tender
Where the sirens sing and the church bells ring
And the junk man pounds his fender
Where the veterans dream of the fight
Fast asleep at the traffic light
And the children solemnly wait
For the ice cream vendor
Out into the cool of the evening
Strolls the pretender
He knows that all his hopes and dreams
Begin and end there

Ah the laughter of the lovers
As they run through the night
Leaving nothing for the others
But to choose off and fight
And tear at the world with all their might
While the ships bearing their dreams
Sail out of sight

I'm going to find myself a girl
Who can show me what laughter means
And we'll fill in the missing colors
In each other's paint-by-number dreams
And then we'll put out dark glasses on
And we'll make love until our strength is gone
And when the morning light comes streaming in
We'll get up and do it again
Get it up again

I'm going to be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender
Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of the spender
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can buy
Thought true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender
 

I certainly appreciated her effort to find the song (even calling a DJ for the name). And besides, her daughter had once famously made the same mistake. Lisa once lovingly told me that the Pearl Jam song Betterman (my favorite) reminded her of me.

Fine and dandy, except that it's a song about a woman who wishes she had a better man.

Oopsie.

* * * *

Speaking of PJ, here's a video of Eddie Vedder's solo efforts on the Into the Wild soundtrack.

The song is Hard Sun. I heard it on a local station and quickly fell in love with it. I certainly wouldn't mind getting a copy for my birthday in March.

When I walk beside her
I am the better man
When I look to leave her
I always stagger back again

Once I built an Ivory Tower
So I could worshi from above
When I climb down to be set free
She took me in again


CHORUS:
There's a big
A big hard sun
Beating on the big people
In a big hard world


When she comes to greet me
She is mercy at my feet
When I see her pin her charm
She just throws it back at me

Once I dug an early grave
To find a better land
She just smiled and laughed at me
And took her bruise back again


There's a big
A big hard sun
Beating on the big people
In a big hard world

There's a big
A big hard sun
Beating on the big people
In a big hard world


When I go across that river
She is comfort by my side
When I try to understand
She just opens up her hands


There's a big
A big hard sun
Beating on the big people
In a big hard world


Once I stood to lose her
When I saw what I had done
Bound down and flew away the hours
Of her garden and her sun

So I tried to warn her
I turned to see her weep
Forty days and forty nights
And it's still coming down on me


There's a big
A big hard sun
Beating on the big people
In a big hard world

There's a big
A big hard sun
Beating on the big people
In a big hard world

(Repeat chorus 6x, fading out)

I need help with the About Me section

Ok, I need some help. After three years and change on AOL Journals, you'd think I'd remember a thing or two.

Apparently not.

I'm trying to update my 'about me' section. I'd like to add some graphics there, graphics that link to another site.

Namely this one:

I added the picture via the handy 'camera' icon and then hit the 'globe' and tried making it a link to the site in question (as that site had recommended, actually).

No go.

I also tried adding a smidge of HTML into the About Me to 'create' a banner, but I can't remember how to do that at all.

This is doubly important because I am waiting for the arrival of a new masthead (or what I guess is a 'tag', although that term is new to me; either way it's the thing at the start of each of my entries) and a sidebar graphic with updated pics.

I warn you in advance - should you submit some advice and it fails to work, I might email a follow up question or two.

Thanks!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

J-Land Photo Shoot #126

On a lark I decided to jump in and particpate in the weekly photo shoot over at Sometimes I Think.

This weeks' subject: Black and White.

I had originally intended to contrast the beauty of our recent snowfalls with the dirt, grime, and salt that quickly turns the side of the road into a dark slushy mess.

But in reality that's more brown than black, so no-go.

As it turns out I think I like this shot better, although I admit it's nothing fancy. 

Speaking of snow, we followed that wonderful -7 (F) weather with a good six to seven inch snowstorm the next day. It was a pretty odd brand of snow, very loose and almost artificial. I remember thinking as I shoveled out our parking slab that it seemed to be composed of thousands of tiny individual balls - like a Willy Wonka-ish blizzard of Dippin' Dots.

                        

Of course, gimmicky or not, it didn't make digging out any more fun that it's been for the other three feet of snow we've had this winter. And as always I wonder- my ancestors leave central Europe, travel halfway around the world . . and stop here. Why???

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger, Fred Thompson, and Courtney Love (but not in that order)

It's hard to imagine just how shocked I was when a "News at 10" promo came on and casually announced the death of actor Heath Ledger.

I wouldn't describe myself as a 'fan' - I don't think I can say that about any current actor, except perhaps Tom Hanks - but I respected Ledger and his work.

He was charming in '10 Things I Hate About You', cheerfully anachronistic in "Knights Tale" and his performance in 'Brokeback Mountain' was as near to a complete transformation as an actor will ever accomplish.

When you saw his name attached to a movie you walked in with high expectations, and his death, by whatever means it came,was a waste of true talent and ability.

He will be missed

* * * *

Ledger's death took a lot of the wind out of my sails. Earlier in the day I was irate about an article about Courtney Love that I saw online - angry enough to bend my wife's ear while she was on break at work.

She patiently told me I was getting worked up over nothing, that Love had every right to do what she did, and that I should give her the benefit of the doubt.

Translation: Kurt Cobain is long dead, get over it, and please don't call me at work to rant about his widow.

She has a point.

Then again, so do I. Love has announced the go-ahead of a feature film of Kurt Cobain's life, based on Charles R. Cross' bio Heavier than Heaven.

I'm not a big fan of the book and frankly, [full disclosure] couldn't read it cover to cover. To me it just seemed to be a book-length gossip rag supported by, and perhaps catering to, Courtney's version of events. There's a lot of items that come out of left field that are unsubstantiated and seem designed to sell copies.

And of course, the book ends with an infamous narrative of Kurt's last moments that openly incorporates fiction and guesswork - 'New journalism' perhaps, but piss poor history.

[Here's a few comprehensive objections to the book. I agree with some and find others as odd as some sections of the book.]

So I'm naturally leery of any feature film based on the book, especially when Love's people call the movie "an accurate, credible glimpse of her life with Kurt" and a "labor of love".

Credible, huh? Then why ask Scarlett Johansson to play you in the film?

Courtney was always hot in that bad girl/crack addict kind of way, but for Johansonn to pull it off she'll have to do more work than Charlize Theron did for Monster. 

All grumbling aside, I'll see the movie. How could I not?

* * * *

By the way, here's a pic of Kurt's daughter Frances Bean, who was about a year and a half when he died. Man, we're all getting old.

* * *

In politics, Fred Thompson gave up the ghost (oh, poor choice of words given the rest of this post) and dropped out of the race. So much for my friends theory that he was simply laying low until voter fatigue set in for the other candidates.

I watched some of the Democratic debate last night. They'd best be careful. You have to fight tooth and nail in the primaries, but if you rip the competition too effectively you eliminate any reasonable chance of being a plausible VP, and perhaps more importantly on a grand scale, how can anyone buy your future support for the nominee in the general election?

Monday, January 21, 2008

A not-so-brief intro to Slapinions

With all the new visitors in the last few days I thought I should provide a brief introduction to this journal and its author.

[Sure, I know most of the folks jumped in to sign the AOL petition and that’s that, but someone’s browser might freeze and force them to read this, right?]

The intro link on the sidebar does a fairly good job of giving you the background of how this site started and a taste of my writing. 'Trouble is, that intro was written around the midway point of 2005 so it’s not exactly breaking news. There’s plenty of good, bad, and indifferent writing that I’ve posted in the past two years. Still, I think it’s worth a look if you have the time.

As far as my biography, I’m Dan, a 33 year old who’s about two months from turning 34. I’m a married father of four and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee.

In person I stand a few inches past 6 feet and weighs upwards of 300 pounds. As always, I’m trying to change that last part (the weight, not the height) but it’s a small part of my life and you‘ll rarely hear me whine about it. After ten years of smoking I quit in November of ’06, which I thought I‘d never manage to do.

I’m Midwestern, white, middle aged (or dang near), Catholic and vote Republican, and I’m sure I fit many of the stereotypes those things inspire. Oh yeah, I’m pretty far down on the American economic ladder, although hardly destitute. I still worry about how I’m going to pay the heating bill every month and the day before payday is often spent with fingers crossed and leftovers on my plate.

But at least I can afford the plate.

I like football OK but worship baseball. I follow my hometown Brewers because I have a fondness for lost causes and the Yankees because they have no idea of what the term ‘lost cause’ means. I strongly believe Arod is the best player in the game and that the Cubs suck.

I’m one of the rare people who genuinely like all kinds of music, from jazz to rap, metal to country, but of course I have my preferences on who I like and dislike. My favorites: Artie Shaw, Buddy Holly, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Garth Brooks, Nirvana (Kurt I miss ya) and almost any early to mid ‘90’s music that involves the wearing of flannel.

For the most part I’m either goofy, sentimental, or pissy. Too much of the latter in the last few years, so I’m trying to reign that in.

I read a lot, although I’ve never met my goal of 100 books in a year. Dorky fact: since ‘94 I’ve kept a complete chronological list of every book I’ve read.

I’ve also written a book, although it was rejected by publishers.

In my life I have met, among others: Jimmy Page of Zeppelin, Jessica Simpson (a b**ch, let me tell ya), the Black Crowes (drove their drummer to the airport when he found out his wife was in labor), the guy who played Chewabbaca in Star Wars, James Lofton (NFL Hall of Famer), LFO, a handful of Senators, Congressmen, and Alderman, and I’ve seen George W. Bush on three occasions.

That list always makes my life seem more exciting than it is, trust me.

In the late summer of ’05 I earned a large promotion at work and now manage a company that employees 43 people. I don’t talk about work here except in passing, and I never identify the name of the place or even the type of industry I'm involved in. In part this is due to my respect for the business, my desire for anonymity, and the fact that I don’t like talking about the place when I’m at home.

Truth be told, I’d rather be writing for a living. Trust me.

I met my wife Lisa when she was 4 months past her 18th birthday and married her just five days past her 20th. (I was 20 and 22). The worst part about marrying young: people expect a quickie divorce so the gifts suck.

We’ve been married nearly 12 years now and it’s still the best decision of my life, hands down.

We annoy the heck out of each other at times (such as now, when she’s insistent on talking to me from another room. Why not walk over and talk to me in person? I can’t stand it when she does that and she hates that in protest I answer in monosyllables ) but she’s without a doubt my best friend and I truly enjoy her company more than anyone else’s on earth.

Plus she makes some pretty cute kids so she's not all bad :)

YaYa is my oldest child, a 1st grader born right before our 5th anniversary and just after 9/11, which means like all my children she’s lived her whole life in wartime. Man, that’s depressing.

Anyway, she’s very outgoingand into acting and performing, which means she’s got a lot of her mother’s genes. However, like me she’s turned into an avid reader and often writes a story in her notebook before bedtime.

On the negative side she has a selfish streak and can be a pretty good shyster for a 1st grader. For instance, just this past weekend, while visiting at my Mom’s, she conned her into believing she couldn’t possibly do a book report because her teacher ‘doesn’t allow us to use library books for the report’.

How my Mom bought that for even a second eludes me, but that’s YaYa.

Oh, and the name? When she was 3 or so she’d get in the car and refuse to move over for her sister, citing this reason or that. My response? “Yeah, ya, move over” which her little sister then picked up as a nickname and eventually carried over to the site.

Next in line is LuLu, a K4 student whose nickname derives from a morph of her true name and that of a store in the mall. She is a cute little cabbage patch doll of a girl who thankfully was gifted with my hair. She’s very into dolls and tea parties and quick to both anger and compassion.

Without question she is the kindest and most giving of all my children and she has always adored and doted on her younger siblings.

But she was also the Middle Child for two years. She has a strong sense of competition with YaYa and a bit of a persecution complex in general.

Add to that the fact that right now she’s 4, and at least in my experience that’s a far more emotionally draining year than the over-hyped ‘terrible two’s’.

Oddly, I can picture the grown up LuLu as both a wife and mother of four herself, and/or a rock-pop singer like Avril Lavigne. Yeah, I don’t understand it either.

Smiley is my only son, a strapping ladwhose birth was chronicled on this site. He’s going to be a giant of a man.

For a while I nicknamed him Quake, as in ‘men will quake when he enters a room and women will swoon’, but I quickly dumped that because it was nearly the direct opposite of his personality. “Maker of Trouble and Mayhem’ fit, but it didn’t ‘flow’. So Smiley he became.

You know how people brag about how friendly and outgoing their child is, and then you meet the kid and he’s a brat well on his way to being the next Krushchev?

Yeah, not the case here. He hasn’t stopped smiling since he learned how and he’s full of giggles and laughter and so much good cheer it’s incredible. He’s inherited all of my goofiness and none of my moodiness (so far, knock on wood).

He had some ear problems that seem to have delayed his speech, but tubes in both ears have corrected his hearing and we’re working on the problem.

Last but not least is the Baby, not as yet blessed with a nickname of note.

She is a mere 5 months old but is arguably my favorite baby of the bunch. For the first time I’m the primary caregiver at night and the two of us have bonded. She looks at me with love and a smile, I look at her like a living alarm clock. I jest, I jest. I’m horribly fond of her and just love the heck out of her, to the point where I don’t even mind getting up at night.

She is the loudest of the bunch, or at least the quickest to a loud shriek among all the babies, and has rapidly abandoned an early preference for solids in favor of the bottle (which we are trying to reverse again). She has a problem with spit-up and vomiting (usually on Mom) and despises being in a dirty diaper for even a moment.

Aside from the kids we have two cats, Billy and AngelCakes, a turtle named Franklin and a praying mantis eggsack I hope to have hatch in the spring.

So that’s it – a quick who’s-who of my immediate family and of moi himself.

I hope you return to the site often and enjoy what you find here.

Thanks!


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