Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Rockin' 11 p.m.?

Tape delay is a wonderful thing. Especially at New Year's when you absolutely, positively, must start the new year off watching the waterford crystal ball drop live via satellite in New York's Time Sqare at midnight.

Except in Oklahoma.

The local affiliate station insists on carrying the "live via satellite" literally and broadcast the ball dropping in New York at 11 p.m. local time. No one hour delay to make it coincide with our midnight. No explanation that they are carrying it live, which sends you scrambling to check the correct local time. No warning that your kids will forever wonder why we have to celebrate the new year on Eastern Standard Time, instead of in our own time zone.

Which is why my wife still laughs about being so confused as a kid, wondering what the big fuss was at midnight, when it actually became the new year at 11 p.m. -- according to America's Oldest Living Teenager and his "rockin'" tv show.

So, here we sat at 11 p.m., watching the ball drop and seeing our children jump up and down in celebration of the new year.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Memorable for all the wrong reasons

Christmas day saw the passing of my daughter's only remaining great-grandmother. My wife's grandmother. My mother-in-law's mother.

Grandma Smith was 91.

Some impressions of our surreal Christmas holiday...

Found another home that followed my guidelines for a box of tissue in every room...a funeral home. Hmm, may have to rethink my guidelines.

My brother-in-law didn't anticipate being a pall bearer at his grandmother's funeral when he packed for his trek home for the holiday, so he had to rent a suit. $100. Custom fit. Nicely tailored for 24-hours notice. Good to know of such things.

My 2 1/2-year old finally grokked what was going down and spent most of the funeral service explaining to people what she had recently figured out. Her exact words to people were, "Gramma Smith is dead."

The funeral home wanted to charge $300 for a "family car" to take the immediate family from the church parking lot to the cemetary. Wouldn't have been such a jaw-dropping amount had it not been for the fact that the church was 100 yards away from the cemetary. The family passed on the limo.

I was astounded by the variety and scope of food that distant family, friends, and well wishers brought by. Generally speaking, bundt cakes seem the most suitable of mourning desserts to me.

I was asked to be a pallbearer for the services, and during my long walk down the aisle, escorting the body of one of the dearest, sweetest ladies I've ever met, all I could think about was the time when S took a 2 1/2-year old C to a funeral, and she blurted out "they're bringing in the box," as the coffin was wheeled into place.

In my eldest daughter's short 6 years of life, she's now buried 3 great-grandmothers.

My wife had one-hour to write up an obituary for her beloved grandmother before the local newspaper publication deadline passed. Here's what she came up with...

Rose Louise Smith, long-time resident of Yukon, died December 25, 2005 at Deaconess Hospital in Oklahoma City after a short illness. She was 91.

Funeral services have been set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, at Saint John Catholic Church in Yukon. Burial will follow at the Yukon Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Yanda & Son Funeral Home of Yukon.

Louise was born April 2, 1914 in Oklahoma City, to John and Mae Wedman.

She was a 1932 graduate of Yukon High School. She married Forrest “Cottie” Smith in January of 1935 and raised their three daughters on the Smith family farm north of Yukon. She had a life-long appreciation for clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics and eventually took a job away from the farm, selling women’s fashions for the Halliburton Department Store in downtown Oklahoma City.

She delighted in music and never missed an opportunity to dance or sing, whether it be square dancing, or taking part in a celebration at Saint Ann’s Nursing Home, where she lived most recently. Louise was an active participant in the Saint Ann’s Chapter of the Red Hat Society. She was an artful conversationalist, and prided herself in staying informed of current events. She also held a profound interest in the wide-ranging Oklahoma weather, and possessed an uncanny ability to predict it.

Survivors include daughter and son-in-law Jxxx and Jxxx Wxxx of Yukon; daughter Tina Harmon of Houston, Texas; sister Marie Wedman of Oklahoma City, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Forrest, daughter and son-in-law Beverly and Thomas Long, sisters Myrtle Frances Johnson and Aleine Patton, brother Paul Wedman, and great-grandson Grant Hagg.

Peace be with you, Louise.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Dear Santa

Another gem from our local small town newspapers publishing of kids letters to Santa.

5-year old got game.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

All I want for Christmas...part 2

Mailboxes are a big "to do" here in my small town.

In addition to the lawn ornament selection you choose to adorn the street side of your abode with, the mailbox you select rates high on the "who-I-am-and-what-personality-I-choose-to-present-to-the-neighborhood" meter.

Here's one I thought presented the perfect picture of form, functionality, and artistic expression.

It's a small block Chevy.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Another familiar face at the post office

No, not the ones posted on the wall under the "Wanted" sign...

This familiar face turned out to be mine. Familiar to someone else, that is.

The story goes, I was standing in line (4 deep, 1 window open, but I was the only one not grumbling about it -- hey, people, try standing in line less than a week before Christmas at the Burbank Main Post Office -- if you can even get IN the building).

The kindly woman in front of me turns around and says point blank to my face, "don't you live close by?"

Taken aback slightly, I recovered and responded, "Why yes, I do...just a few houses away."

Donning a large grin and nodding her head, she replied, "I thought found my son's phone!"

Let me explain.

Several months back, I found a brand spankin' new flip-up Verizon cell phone lying in a 4-way intersection, open and on. Since I was on my way to drop C off at school, I simply grabbed it, tossed it onto the floor of my car, and zoomed off.

After the fracas of the morning school drop-off (enter from the north, exit from the south, keep the line moving, don't shut off your motor...) I returned home and preceded to try to track down the owner of the phone.

First name on the address list was "Dad." I called him.
Dad - Hello
Me - Hi, I found this cell ph--
Dad - Who's this?
Me - My name is Xxxxx and I found this cell phone---
Dad - Sorry, what -- I don't know anyone -- what -- hold on, my son wants to talk to you.

Some familiar fumbling and tussling sounds eminate from the speaker before the line goes dead. Call dropped.
I call Dad again.
Dad - Hello
Me - Hi, me again.
Dad - Oh, it's that same, you talk to him, I can't hear him that well...

His son gets on the line, we clear it all up and he's going to come by my house to pick it up. Apparently he was on his way to the airport, opened his door, the phone fell out of his jacket pocket, and they've been driving around for 20 minutes looking for it.

I gave him my address, directions from where they were (3 blocks away), a description of my house, landmarks, even a quick rundown of what I looked like (dashingly handsome, early-40's cross between an Asian-Elvis -- before he got really phat, and Bolo, the ugly bad guy from "Enter the Dragon").

I told him I'd keep HIS cell phone on me and to call HIS cell phone if he got lost. He asked for my cell phone #, just in case, which I don't understand why he wanted it, but I gave it to him anyway.

10 minutes later, no sign of them. I have HIS cell phone which hasn't rung. I go inside to find MY cell phone ringing.
Yep, it's them. Why he didn't call his own cell phone is beyond me. Maybe he was short on minutes.

I answer MY cell phone, go back to my front porch to play disaster-movie-air traffic controller and talk him in.

A quick 180 degree scan finds him sitting at the intersection diagonal to me, talking on his Dad's cell phone, scanning the street for me and my house.

I can see his face. I can see his Dad's face. I can see his panic stricken eyes darting up and down the street.

I resort to wild arm gesticulations to get his attention.

His eagle eye spots me. They're headed my way, but have to navigate the 4-lane highway to get to me.

I lower my arms in calm relief. Mistake.

The iron grip I had on the phone a split second ago has been replaced by the unguarded feeling of final release. The phone, their phone, HIS phone, plummets to the ground proximal to my slipper clad feet.

It bounces. I scramble. It doesn't shatter. No harm done.

They pull in to the driveway. Did they see?

Apparently not.

They were in a rush, but very appreciative and the Dad seemed happier than the Son to get the phone back. Handshakes were exchanged, nods and smiles were the norm, and they headed back south, never to cross my life path again.

Until today.

The mother-of-the-son-whose-cell-phone-I-found and I had a nice chat reliving the events of that morning, and she expressed her appreciation for what I did.

Guess she figured that there are so few of us Asian-Elvis / Bolo looking guys in town, that I must have been the one who found/returned her son's phone.

What would my small town do without me?

For a companion story to this one, go here

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A sight of the suburbs, in my small town

Spotted this a few streets down from our house...

Take a closer look...

The sight of the random pair of sneakers hanging from a power line strangely filled me with a sense of satisfying familiarity.

Good to know that kids here are basically the same as those I grew up with in East LA, so many years ago.

A sight to behold indeed.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The blowing of the cellulose

"Cellulose settles into voids and gaps, producing a monolithic, blanket-like thermal barrier."
Our 100-year old house had very little insulation. The walls were void of fiberglass. The floors were nil on cellulose. The Oklahoma wind made it's home in our home via the pathetic use of Wal-mart caulk-in-a-tube around the windows.
Something had to be done, and so it began.
The bags of cellulose was bought.
The contraption to blast it was borrowed.
The blowing of the insulation has begun.

My father-in-law was upstairs, adeptly using his man-sized hands to man-handle the long and thick manly hose and remote control (with variable blower manly).

I was outside, standing tall in the back of his 5-year old Tacoma alongside the $50-a-day rented insulation blower contraption. Basically, it's a 55- gallon plastic drum sitting atop a large fan with a hose coming out of the bottom.

Imagine a big, heavy, overweight, ugly, blue single legged octopus.

It was my duty to feed the octopus a seemingly endless supply of cellulose, lifting and slicing open the 25 lb. bags and stuffing the overpriced, minutely shredded-up and compacted newspaper into the hopper, being careful not to get my fingers stuck in the rotating blades of death that mercilessly sends the hapless cellulose onto it's one-way-trip via the blower hose.

The wind ravaged outside, between 20 and 30 mph. Temps were in the low 40's, so I couldn't don my normal attire of bermudas and a t-shirt.

Yes, I felt very wussy putting on an insulated shirt, long pants, and gloves.
Yes, I am ashamed that the many passers-by who smiled and commented, "blowing some insulation?" didn't get to see my fantastic muscular legs.
Yes, I'll turn in my "California Dude" license that states I must wear shorts whenever making a trek outdoors.

But I was warm, it was freaking cold (wind chill put the temps below 29 degrees), and I wasn't too happy anytime the north-westerly blew some precious cellulose out of the big blue hopper and into my already squinted eyes.

We ended up blowing over 40 bags into the old lathe-and-plaster walls, and onto the upstairs floor.

For you home improvement uber geeks, that's equivalent to an R value of 25 for the upstairs alone.

Booyah Oklahoma winter. Bring it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Relatively nice evening. Temp at 11:21 p.m. is a warm 38 degrees. No freezing tonight.

I trek outside the front door, my feet snugly tucked into my $2.99 slippers from Wal-Mart as I step onto the front porch to unplug the christmas decor that currently adorns our 100-year old house on main street, small town, Oklahoma.

I unplug the yellow cord, which puts to sleep both the tall and short vintage plastic Santa figures that my wife is so fond of. Tall Santa is fading fast, the jolly red of his suit and cheeks now a pasty pale pink, as time and use have weathered him to a lighter shade of his former self.

Short Santa manages to stand tall in the winds that nightly whip down the main highway, his position secure in the knowledge that the socks we filled with rocks and dirt are safely tucked away inside his and all of our figures plastic poly-formed feet.

I unplug the red cord which darkens the three plastic snowmen, all of them wondering how they could all possess such distinct facial expressions.
"Happy Snowman" to my left, "Mildly Jocular Snowman" to my right, and "Sad Clown-faced Snowman" hanging out close to the doorway.

The main strings of lights hung below the eaves of the front go dark as well. I prefer the big, old, colorful bulbs to the contemporary look of the hanging icicles, or the saturated hues of the rope lights, or the overpowering brilliance of the walls of twinkling, gigawatt strings of white lights.

Red, green, blue, white, orange.
Red, green, blue, white, orange.
Red, green, blue, white, orange.

I watch the inflatable penguins, in the inflatable snow dome deflate, as I unplug the green and final plug. This was a recent addition to our holiday menagerie, and we seem to be the only one's in our small town to be proudly displaying it on our front lawn. If you've never seen one, look here.

Shut up, it was a gift from a brother-in-law who seems as fond of presenting these types of thing to his sister, as he does tormenting me with these very same things.

The final light display is inside, so I bid my fellow front porch sitters a fond winter's night, and head back inside, my feet cowardly seeking more warmth than my Wal-Mart slippers can apparently provide.

Our 9-foot fake Douglas Fir sits in the front room, it's 1800 pre-lit twinkling white lights filling the large 6"x 6" plate glass window that dominates the front view of the large room. My big toe emerges from the warmth of the discount store bought slipper to adeptly hit the switch on the power strip.

The fir descends into darkness.

Just another night's end in the life of the kitschy Christmas decor we love so dearly.

Monday, December 12, 2005

All I want for Christmas...

Spotted this in a salvage yard a few miles down Route 66 from my in-laws place...

Doesn't every good boy deserve the nose cone from a P-40 vintage WWII fighter? At least, it's painted to look like a Flying Tiger.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Small town Christmas parade

The other night, we bundled up the kiddies and made the two-block trek in 39 degree weather to lend our body count to our small town's annual Christmas Parade.

First of all, they still call it a Christmas parade here, not a Happy Holiday Parade, or Season's Greetings Parade, or Joyous Season Parade.

Political correctness has no place in my small town.

The parade consisted of the requisite pickup trucks pulling flatbed trailers, filled with freezing, candy-tossing townsfolk bundled up in either OU or OSU stadium blankets.

We waved, they tossed candy, PK and C gathered it up.

Then there were a couple tractors, a couple classic cars, a couple hot rods, a couple harley riders, the fire department, the police department, three Shriners in wheelie-poppin' dune buggies, an all-female color guard, the high school marching band, the local dance school ankle-biters adorned in holiday wrapped cardboard boxes, a few entries by the main commercial entities in town, and of course, Santa made an appearance -- as a blow up lawn ornament figure on the back of a trailer.

Everyone was tossing candy. Everyone was freezing their smiles off. Everyone was in the holiday spirit.

The girls came home with a half-grocery sack full of candy and this item, being handed out the by local Methodist Church.

I take it Mary and Joseph didn't have spell check on their computer.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Really putting my foot into it

Stumble/bumble stay-at-home-Dad + Lath and plaster walls and ceiling = constant repair work.

My Father-in-law and I were pulling new wire for the ceiling fans/lights. This was the last step in our on-going efforts to replace all the old copper in this house. The old wiring is circa 1940's, non-grounded and generally pretty nasty.

With the floor boards pulled up in the upstairs area, you have to be very careful walking around up there.

Anyone who knows me knows that careful is not in my vocabulary.

And through the floor/ceiling my foot went.

The patch I made and installed was a pretty nifty job (if I say so myself). But it will all be in vain as this will all be covered up by wallboard in the near future -- hiding that nasty 70's cottage cheese ceililng.

S calls me "one-step-forward, two-steps-back" construction guy.

Quote of the day, when my F-I-L came down and saw the hole, he simply muttered, "well, sheeee-it."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Never too young

My Father-in-law tells me that last weekend was the end of deer hunting season (with a rifle...there is also black powder deer hunting season, bow deer hunting season, and they may add wrist rocket deer hunting season in the near future).

Given that, this will probably be my last post of deer kill pics from our local paper for awhile.

Course, it is rabbit season now.
Or is it duck season.

Rabbit season.
Duck season.

Rabbit season.
Duck season.

Picture # 1 - sweet "siblings-on-their-first-hunt" story on the surface. But something tells me that big brother knew a big old buck would be following the doe he "let" his sister take down. Still, they seem pretty happy with their kills, don't they.

Here's the poster child for youth activities in rural environments.

Nightmare #42 - C - "Daddy, I'd like you to meet new boyfriend."

Oh, I'm sure he's a good enough fella...from waaaaay over there.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Buying chickens

Yesterday, I took my mom to our one and only local small town market to get a whole chicken. Being a mom, she wanted to make some homemade chicken soup.

As they will on occasion, the meat department was running low on some items.

Flank steak
Fresh bratwurst
Whole chickens


Our search for a whole chicken to cook and consume reminded my mom of something my dad talked about doing when he was a kid.

A little background first. My dad grew up in a small house in a small camp on the outskirts of a small town on a small island in a small state in the middle of a very large ocean. If you guessed Rhode Island, go back and study your U.S. geography.

For fun and adventure, my dad and his siblings would experiment with the digestive systems of the various animals they would find around the house or neighborhood. One day (I can only imagine what inspired him to think of it) he fed some kite string to a chicken, then excitedly waited to see how long it would take to exit said chicken.

And, when one experiment is a success, shouldn't it be followed up by another?

Taking the end of the string that had not yet fully exited one chicken, he fed it to another. I guess chickens don't have much of a gag reflex, since by the end of his experiment he had 4 chickens "strung" together on the single piece of string.

For those of you who are having a hard time grokking this in your minds eye, it must have looked something like this...

I never found out if he tried to "pull" the string out of the four-chicken-string-kabob.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dipping of the cookies

Attempted my first batch of homemade Original Nestle TollHouse Chocolate Chip Cookies.

My Mom's recipe.
It's the best.

Yes, I've "tasted" better than Mom's cookie recipe, but nothing comes close to the childhood memories of the experience of my Mom's choc-chip cookies (frozen) dipped in milk. Sense memory is strong, and can supercede common sense or current memory in effect.

I wanted my daughters to have this childhood memory as well, so off to the land of beaten up butter and raw-cookie-dough snackin' I ventured. As both daughters watched, I read, measured, beat, measured, poured, measured, mixed, measured, scooped, baked and cooled.

It was at this point that the cookie consumption controversy commenced.

My wife loves her cookies hot and fresh from the oven, soft and gooey, rich and chewy. She also likes her pudding warm as well.

Me, I'm a cold food guy. I like my fruit cold, my veggies cold and raw, my pizza cold, my pudding, cookies, and doughnuts (yikes) cold.

Besides, if I'm to imbed the same memories I have of dipping my Mom's cookies into milk, they must be cold to do so. Warm, soft, mushy cookies won't tolerate the drastic change in temperature and the sudden submersion into the white, wet environment of a glass of milk.

My brother uses chopsticks to dip his cookie into his glass of milk. A technique developed out of common sense and his need not to get his fingers wet with milk.

I am a traditionalist. I use my fingers, but only dip the cookie in about 7/8's of the way into the milk, leaving just enough cookie above milk level to keep my fingers dairy-free. Sure, the entire cookie is not treated to the taste sensation that comes from a milk bath, but I have learned to ingest the remaining 1/8 of the cookie dry. Sacrifice is my middle name.

So, as I'm quickly bagging up as many cookies as I can to enter the required hour of deep freeze before being eaten, my girls are flagrantly following their mother in violation of the Family Cookie Act of 2005 -- two-handing them right off the cookie cooling rack into their crumb encrusted mouths.

Alas, I was able to "save" a dozen or so of the hearty chocolate chipped confections, and they sit happily being acclimated in the correct cookie consumption conditions -- the freezer.

Let the dipping of the cookies, begin.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Real or toy?

Pulled into our local Love's/Subway gas stop/convenience store/sandwich shoppe the other day.

Saw this upon entering the store...

Take a closer look..

I just hope the clerks are trained to be able to tell the difference between the toy guns and an actual gun being used in a robbery.

Only 26 shopping days left!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Carrion as carry on

My brother-in-law came to town for the holiday weekend to go hunting with his dad, my father-in-law.

After 4 days, the tally came to 1 (one) 200-300 lb. feral pig, 1 (one) 9-point buck, 2 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts, and 4 cups of questionable truck stop coffee.

The majority of the pig (squeal and all) was left out in nature to contribute to the local food chain. Pork chops and the ugliest wild pig head you can imagine, came home with the intrepid hunters. Wanting to keep the skull for a trophy -- enhanced with some major tuskage -- my bro-in-law looked for someone in town who had "those bugs" that would munch the pigs skull clean of flesh and muscle in a matter of days. Didn't find anyone, so he spent an afternoon skinning it, then bagged it and stuck it into his folks upright freezer. It was the highlight of our Thanksgiving dinner.

His buck was a simpler task. After field dressing it and dropping the bulk of the hulk off at one of many meat processing stations in the state, he brought home the head, skinned it, and chopped off the skull cap section where the antlers were attached. I didn't ask, but I imagine the rest of the head went out back for the coyotes to munch on. The antlers and head pelt he'll take back home where he will mount it himself -- in addition to being a talented outdoor writer and PR Director for a national sportman's organization, my humble bro-in-law is an experienced taxidermist.

So, the frozen pig skull (sans skin) is packed up and will go through check-in. The deer head skin and bear pelt (that's another story -- he sent it here to be tanned by a fella he learned taxidermy from, after killing it in Montana earlier this year) will also be checked in.

The buck antlers will be carried on by his lovely and understanding wife.

Would love to see the TSA Officer's reaction when they x-ray the bag with the pig skull in it. Are razor sharp tusks considered contraband?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

YASTM news

In todays edition of our small towns local paper...file these items under "stuff you don't see in print much in So Cal."

Item #1
"Brock Boeckman, the 8-year old son of Bart and Dee Dee Boeckman, reported that he shot a seven-point buck on the opening day of deer season with his new rifle that he bought with his summer earnings from plowing."There are so many points in that last item that boggle my mind, I don't know where to start or how to elaborate. I'll just point them out for effect.
  • "...8-year old..."
  • Bart married a woman named Dee Dee
  • "...shot a seven-point buck"
  • "...opening day of deer season"
  • " rifle"
  • "...bought with his summer earnings from plowing."
  • And before any PETAn's raise a stink, read this quote I found elsewhere in the same newspaper, under the heading, Deer hunters share their harvest"
    "Last year Oklahoma hunters donated 33,227 pounds of venison, that's more than 16 tons, to the Hunters Against Hunger program. That is enough meat to provide nutritious meals for nearly 133,000 people."

    Item #2

    What sort of vehicle is your 5-year old wanting this Christmas? Bet it's not John Deere green?

    The "work light" is my favorite item. I'm picturing a denim overall'd 5-year old named "Bobby" pulling over to the side of his play yard, getting out his worklight and using it to look down to see what his John Deere pedal tractor is hung up on.

    Thursday, November 24, 2005

    The Lion, the Witch and the...

    C has been bugging me to see The Chronicles of Narnia since it's recent release.

    The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was one of my favorite stories as a young LA suburbanite. My Mom, being the librarian and uber-reader she was, was very careful about what books she exposed my brother and I too. Generally, they were award-winning books (Newberry, etc.) and of the fantasy-genre nature.

    The Hobbit, Wind in the Willows, A Wrinkle in Time, The entire Chronicles of Narnia, The Little Prince, any Roald Dahl selection, Charlotte's get the idea.

    I watched the trailer online and even though I have a really bad jonezing to see TCofN by myself (as I did with HP-TGOF last week), I have deemed the film too intense for a 6-year old (yep, C had a birthday earlier this month) who still has nightmares about monsters, still believes in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairie.

    Then, J (my mother-in-law) reminded me that sometime last year she took C to see a local children's theatre company's production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. She also said that C seemed bored by the entire thing.

    This morning, while watching the girls get more Brummel and Brown spread on themselves than their biscuits, I asked C if she remembered seeing the play.

    She responded,It was about a girl who goes into a closet and is met by a deer, and she meets a Lion who is the king, and I think his name was Leo, and they called it a wardrobe, but I called it a closet.
    The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is rated PG, so it looks like I'll wait to get the DVD and C and I can enjoy it after she's read the book.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    The b-word invades the universe

    bed·lam bdlm (n.)
    A place or situation of noisy uproar and confusion.

    Ask just about anybody in my small town (or my small state for that matter) what their interpretation of the word "bedlam" is and the absolute last and final definition they'll give you is the actual meaning of the word.

    For you see, the b-word has been the unofficial label of the annual football match between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Oklahoma State University (OSU).

    Actually, the media seems to bandy about the bed-word at any mention of any contest at anytime and anywhere whatsoever between the two rival 4-year funhouses. Note - (I'm not sure if that applies to Badminton matches between the two schools. Although "Bedlam Badminton" does have many possiblities for marketing madness due to the b-sound alliteration. Retailers, take note.)

    There seem to be bedlam contests spewing forth from every outlet offering any sort of merchandise or service vaguely related to football.

    Big Bedlam Sales!
    Boisterous Bedlam Announcers!
    Booming Bedlam Radio Ads!
    Brawling, brutal, bold, barbarous, and bloodthirsty attempts to capitalize and exploit the once-a-year event.

    Alas, even C's elementary school has gotten into the fracas. The notice she brought home in her backpack read,"Bring in your Box-Tops for Education, and drop them into the box of whichever Bedlam Team you're rooting for."Sure enough, in the lobby of the school we found two boxes - red/white and orange/black.

    OSU's season is in the toilet, so they're just playing for bragging rights and to spoil any bowl hopes that OU may have.

    We'll be celebrating my lovely and talented wife's birthday all that weekend, so bedlam won't invade our abode at any point in time. Not every day my wife turns 29, er, 39...ah, 39+ again.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Mutant Squirrels

    Recently on our morning walks, PK likes to mimic the squirrels that have taken up residence in the trees surrounding our neighborhood.

    Every acorn she finds on the ground, becomes the property of said 2 1/2-year old toddler.

    She gets frustrated because the size, girth, and weight of the acorns on our block are such that she can only fit a few into each pocket.

    Which explains why the squirrels around here aren't afraid of the cats, opossums, skunks, or medium sized homo sapiens -- they still shudder with fear at the sight of me, but are unphased whenever C or PK approaches them.

    This morning PK wanted to take our Radio Flyer wagon on our walk. Not to ride in, mind you. She just wanted to hoard more acorns and needed to bring in the heavy equipment.

    Least she won't starve this winter when our supply of rice runs out.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Kewl Zoo

    Yesterday, S set aside the afternoon to have lunch with some of her old Pi Phi buddies at a shore side restaurant at Lake Hefner.

    After dropping her off, I took the bundled up girls to the Oklahoma City Zoo. We're fortunate enough to have a relatively good sized and well staffed natural-enviro zoo. They've done away with the concrete jungle habitats and steel-barred cages of zoos of old, and have spent mucho dinero on building/maintaining green and lush living environments for the captive beasties.

    The cool temps (upper 40's - low 50's) made for some spectacular varmint viewing. Slight drizzle didn't hurt in keeping the crowds away as well, as there were maybe 20 cars in the visitors lot.

    We shared the playground, the pathways, the seal viewing seating area, and the Canopy Cafe with very few other families. Mostly weekend Dad's, attempting to balance discipline with offspring bonding. More than a few of them seemed sad beneath their half-hearted smiles of forced indentured weekend servitude to their kids. I even caught one Dad looking through a Bass Pro Shops circular while his sons led him to the elephant paddock.

    C tried out her new MPEG-4 video camera (birthday present via an gift cert. courtesy of her Uncle B in So Cal) and was delighted that all the animals came out for her latest foray into documentary filmmaking. Even the brown bears were out, play fighting with each other, doing their best to make a 6-year old with a new video camera happy.

    The big cats emerged from their leafy forested habitats in force to celebrate the cool weather.

    We found ourselves inches from a huge pacing leopard, his eyes never leaving the tasty morsel my 2 1/2 would have been to him.

    The sumatran tigers were bouncy and playful -- as bouncy and playful as feline mankillers can get.

    An ocelot entertained us as he stalked a cardinal that happened into his habitat. Being cooped up must have dulled his speed, since his master pounce missed the red bird by a few inches. Had he been in the wild, and had he been hungry, I'm sure that cardinal would be nuggets by now.

    While watching a diver vacuum up the seal poop that was littering the bottom of the aquatic habitat, C commented that whale poop must be as big as PK was. That seemed to freak out PK -- her little brain trying to imagine looking eye-to-eye with a piece of dung.

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    Someone for everyone

    Recent wedding announcement in our small town paper. Gander at the happy couple, but don't try to read the text. I scanned it small to save you the tediousness of the written word.

    There was one paragraph that caught my eye however..."The bride's three-tiered cake was decorated with fresh autumn flowers."Strange that the bride's cake only warranted one short line of text. Yet the bridegroom's cake..."... was decorated with a miniature John Deere combine, tractor and grain cart that were replicas of those used in his harvesting business."Ahh. I see. Priorities, people, priorities. Seems however, that the tractor cake wasn't enough for the bridegroom. Read on."Also featured was a three-layer doughnut tree which held a variety of different doughnuts."Party on Mr. and Mrs. Brian Benson!

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Having more in common with a 10-year old

    Sitting at C's tumbling class, I noticed the brother of one of C's tumbling mates was reading the latest Harry Potter novel.

    He looked up and I asked him what part he was up to.

    What followed was a one hour discussion of the book so far, the series, the upcoming film (opening tonight at midnight), and all things Harry Potter.

    It was a most enjoyable conversation, since my daugthers aren't old enough to read, my wife doesn't have time to read, and even if she did, the HP books would not be at the top of her reading wish list.

    Several parents were seated nearby, including this bright young lads mother and father, who had either found interest in our conversation, or were just suspiciously monitoring the situation of a strange man talking to their impressionable son.

    I told them the story of meeting a fella by the name of "Tom Riddle" the other day. My reaction to him, was of course, one of amusement as I completely expected him to immediately come back with a comment regarding his famously villianous name.
    Quite the opposite. This Tom Riddle wasn't aware of the infamy of his literary namesake in the wizarding world of JK Rowling. He had never read the HP books, seen the films, or shown any interest in it.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the young boys jaw dropped and he loudly uttered, "no waaaaaay....Tom Riddle?" I smiled and nodded in agreement, enjoying the proper reaction that any HP fan would display, having heard the name, "Tom Riddle."

    His parents and several other adults in close proximity reacted to the young lads loud reaction.

    I surmised that none of them knew the infamy of the name, Tom Riddle, either.

    10-year olds of the world unite (including my 44-year old brother and 70-year old mother). And if you're reading this and don't shudder (or smile, depending on how much evil fills your heart) at the mere mention of the name, Tom Riddle aka Him whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken, then rest easy knowing those of us who do know the name, will keep the rest of you safe and free from his influence.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    The Red Balloon

    My wife and I got to witness the first time our 2 1/2 year-old daughter lost a balloon to the ugly gods of helium and gravity.

    She's had balloons before and I was sure she had grasped the concept of it floating away if she let it go. The way she held onto the purple ribbon with a firm grip was a clue, as was her fixed stare on the floating orb dangling on the end of it.

    It must have been that momentary lapse in attention when she was getting out of the car that the balloon seized the opportunity to "slip the surly bonds of the earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings."

    Her reaction was classic and true to form for a 2 1/2 year-old.

    First she screamed, "Oh, get it, get it, get it, get it, get it!" (picture the balloon getting further away as each two-word phrase emits from her scared 2 1/2 year-old voice).

    Once she realized that there wasn't anyway TO "get it," she immediately kicked into the rationalization monologue of "that's okay, we can get another one," repeated about a dozen times.

    The next and final phase saw the sheer and utter sadness that only a toddler can muster, emerge from her downturned mouth, crocodile-tear filled eyes, and quietly empty hands.

    Then she cried.

    And S hugged her, providing the level of comfort only a mommy could provide on such a somber occasion.
    And I kicked into "bad cop" mode, reiterating why the balloon flew away, and how it was a good lesson to learn (okay, let's call it insensitive-jerk mode -- there, happy?)

    And C? Well, she handed over her balloon, secured in her hands from lessons long learned, to her little sister and told her to take hers since she was done playing with it.

    Insert awwws and oooohs here.

    Yep, we must be doing something right with these girls.

    PTO Net newbies

    PTO meeting last night.
    Lesson learned: Don't suggest something unless you're prepared to take charge of the very thing you are suggeting.

    Since parental participation in actual PTO functions seems to be higher than the number of parents who can/do attend the monthly meetings, I innocently suggested that the PTO could create and maintain a website to help those who were absent but interested, stay in the loop.

    You know, a simple site with a calendar of events, contact info, meeting minutes, maybe some pictures from past events.

    I haven't faced so many blank stares since I told my friends back home that I was moving to Oklahoma.
    Crickets chirped. A cool breeze filtered the air. An infant cried in the distance.

    Finally, someone spoke up with an intelligent and appropriate question...

    "How do we do that?"

    Guess I just volunteed to create a website. Sigh.

    The irony of it all was that the PTO meeting was being held, as always, in the school's computer lab. Row upon row of windoze boxes. Sigh.

    To wrap this post up with semi-related panache, I received this lovely popup ad the other day and it has become my favorite. Mac users will see the humor. Windoze users may convulse at the site of the word, "Registry."

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    Seedy underbelly

    I'm not a poker player.
    I don't even play one on tv.

    But last night S and I were invited to a Texas Hold 'em poker night at a friend's house here in town.

    Other than some quarter machines in Vegas. neither S nor I have ever played real, cards-in-your-hand, chips-on-the-table poker. But I knew the basics of Texas Hold 'em (does anyone play any other type of poker anymore?) so after 30 minutes of passing on what little knowledge of the game I had to her, we rustled up a pea and cashew salad for the potluck table, left the kiddies with her folks, got a $20 from the seaweed jar for our "buy-in" and headed east to the poker "barn" on the outskirts of town.

    The poker was fine. The food was good. It's the company that rocked the most.

    We both came away from the evening minus $20, and 1/2 a bowl of pea salad, but also with an utter sense of being a stranger in a strange land.

    Our poker partners, most of which grew up in our small town, revealed sordid information about people, places, events, buildings, and organizations that it would have taken us years of comprehensive Columbo-esque sleuthing to find out on our own.

    Affairs. Criminal activity. Religious fervor. Punishment.
    What's buried under that building?
    Who's their real father?
    When did she become a 36C?
    Where can you get the best onion-fried burger?
    Why are there none of THOSE kinds of people here?
    How did they get away with what they did?

    Anyone remember the tv drama-dy Picket Fences?

    Later that night, as I pumiced S's feet while she bathed, she dryly commented, "we are so naive."

    Indeed. We hardened city folk, me with a lifetime of "suburbic-living" a short 5 miles outside the downtown West Coast capital of the United States (okay, that's not true, but if you're from LA, you must think it's true), came to the realization that we knew nothing about the small town we now live in.

    But at least now we know, that we know nothing.

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    A skunkie came a calling...

    Had some warm evenings of late, strange for early November in Oklahoma to be in the 70's after the sun goes down.
    Yet it enabled me to spend some peaceful late nights sitting by an open window with my laptop, enjoying the fresh fall breeze.

    The other night, I heard the familiar sound of what I thought was a neighborhood cat rooting around in the brushy area beneath our kitchen window.

    I profess no great love for cats, especially ones that use my flower beds as their litter box. I stood up to get a good look at this particular night pooper and readied my best scary voice to send it scampering away in the dark.

    What at first appeared to be a familiar black and white feline, to my great surprise, turned out to be a full grown skunk.

    Pepe Le Pew was in the hizzous.

    He/She/It rooted around for awhile, not at all interested in the homo sapien male that was getting ready to tear apart both sash cords as he slammed down a window at the first sign of aggressive skunk behavior. It left without incident.

    Later that night, I heard ol' Pepe get into a tussle with one of the many alley cats that frequent our environs. From the darkness emerged the unmistakeable sound of a skunk assuming it's best defensive position with the cat paying the price. The malodorous melee took place at the far end of our neighbors yard, yet I'll be keeping the windows closed around the house for awhile.

    Good thing the temps turned cold yesterday.

    Wonder if cats like bathing in tomato juice?

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?

    The Dr. Pepper bottling plant is somewhere down in Texas. Can that possibly have any bearing on why Dr. Pepper consumption in Oklahoma (and the surrounding states) is so much higher than the national average?

    7-11's carry Dr. Pepper flavored Slurpees.
    Every fast food restaurant I've frequented has Dr. Pepper on tap.
    Southwest Airlines offers both diet and regular Dr. Pepper in their complimentary in-flight beverage service.

    From a press release I found here
    Per capita consumption is at 456 annual servings of Dr Pepper for every person in the territory served by The Dr Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Company of Elk City, Oklahoma,"

    "In comparison, other areas of the country are under-developed in Dr Pepper consumption, such as in the Northeast, upper Midwest, Northern California and Florida."

    "There is no reason for Dr Pepper consumption in these areas not to be at least at the national average,"

    "When we achieve that goal, Dr Pepper will be well on its way to the billion cases annually set as a goal by the end of 2009. We doubled volume in the last decade, and I see no reason why we should not do that again by the end of the first decade of the 21st century,"
    So, pucker up all you Northeasterners, Midwesterners, Northern Californians and Floridians -- soon, you will be a Pepper too.

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Costume that cracked me up

    Napoleon Dynamite has seemed to have made a lasting impression on the good people of my newly adopted state.

    I've seen "Vote for Pedro" shirts on the backs of people in places where you'd least expect to find them. Not to mention Kip's "I'm training to be a cage fighter" t-shirts and bumper stickers.

    Is this phenomenon taking place in other parts of the country, or it it's popularity isolated here in Native America?

    I must know.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Will had a Mac

    Always knew that one of America's most celebrated writers, typed all this stories on a Mac. Looks to be a 1st gen. 15" G4 Powerbook. I found this pic here. Claremore is another small town a little ways north of Tulsa.

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Hours are 6-8 p.m.

    My small town has announced that Halloween Trick-or-Treating will be on Monday (the 31st) and that trick-or-treating hours will be from 6 to 8 p.m.

    Did I miss something here?

    From what S tells me, many towns in OK not only dictate what DAY trick-or-treating takes place on, but what TIME the kiddies can solicit free treats via knocks and doorbells.

    Now, for the last four SoCal Halloween celebratrions, we had some record breaking, 300+ handfuls of candy nights. Ankle-biters and their tag-along mini-Snickers mooching parents (c'mon, folks, at least put on a costume for a free treat), would start showing up just after the old 9-5 day ended - not even dark yet.

    On our street, kids were being bused in from surrounding neighborhoods. One night, a fella with a 15-passenger van parked in front of our house, dumped his load of kiddies, and sat in his land yacht while his charges pillaged and looted our block. Later, when the van, now full with kids and candy, refused to start, I went out and gave them a jump.

    We'd finally shut off the pumpkin lights and locked up the candy corn chute between 10 and 10:30 p.m. -- well after the last lurkers came a'knockin.

    I am of the mentality that I will never run out of candy and will welcome any and all trick/treater's until they decide their plastic pumpkins have enough provisions to last through the next 11 months. Has to do with some personal scarring suffered as a tot in my own trick-or-treating days.

    As a result, I am slightly irritated that a town can limit the hours of this long standing tradition of spooks, goblins, and dental decay. I understand the reasoning behind the limits and safety procedures, and times today are much different than when I was a cantalope-sheeted ghost (Mom wouldn't let me use one of her good white sheets, besides, as Mom put it, "it was dark and who would notice?" Um, just everyone with a porch light, Mom.)

    I'll be manning the candy bowl next Monday, while S and my in-laws take the girls on their limited hour run around the neighborhood. Our porch light will shine brightly, as will our oversized, plasticized plug-in pumpkins.

    I may even leave our light on a few extra minutes past 8 p.m. Just to see what happens.

    Danger is my middle name.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2005

    Oh, the horror!

    Yesterday, the girls and I took the two block trek out to the local county health dept. office for our free flu shots, courtesy of the state of Oklahoma.

    I went first while PK napped on my shoulder. NP

    PK was still snoozing for her shot, so no problem there -- or so I thought.

    She woke up momentarily upon insertion of the pointy object, and probably would have gone right back to sleep, had it not been for the pre-innoculation-blood-curdling-hair-raising screams emanating from the deepest bowels of C's nightmare-on-elm-street inner pained self.

    I had to get another nurse to hold the now wailing PK, while I picked up and held onto C during her shot.

    Held? More like anaconda-gripped, tightest-burrito-you've-ever-eaten wrapped up to contain her kicking legs, flailing arms, head-butting head, and kung-fu grip hands.

    Good thing I trimmed her nails the other day.

    As most shots go, it was over before it started and we were all sucking down ice cream scoops at Braum's Dairy soon afterward.

    Normally I wouldn't partake due to my lactose intolerance, but I ordered a double shot of chocolate chip cappucino to help heal the emotional scars of the experience.

    Upside to this anecdote came as we were leaving the building, both girls in semi-recovery of their senses. I told C that she didn't have to get another flu shot until next year.

    She muttered to herself, "..I'm gonna tear that building down before then."

    She's a slugger, that one is.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Kleenex box follies

    On the average, how many boxes of kleenex (tissue) do you have in your house?

    1, 2, 3?

    I grew up in a home that had one box of tissues in just about every room in the house.
    Each bedroom had one.
    Each bathroom had one.
    Kitchen, one.
    Living room, one.
    Dining room, ditto.
    Hallway, you got it, just the one.

    So, now that I'm a grown-up with my own mortgaged dwelling, I'm following suit with my childhood hovel habits in trying to populate it with multiple boxes of tissue as well.

    Much to the chagrin and constant ribbing of my spouse.

    She thinks it's a California-thing, as she's only witnessed this one-box-per-room phenomenon in friends and family dwellings back there.

    Out here in Okie-land, it appears not to be the norm.

    Darn inconvenient when you want to blow your nose in the living room, but have to migrate to a central tissue-bearing point in the house for a good hooter-honking.

    Monday, October 24, 2005

    So long, skeeters

    Mosquito tally for this summer stands as follows:

    Me - 14 bites
    S - approx. 7 bites
    C - 4 bites
    PK - 19 bites

    Family total - 44 bites

    That almost matches the number of sand flea bites I got from a long weekend in St. John, US VI a few years back for my cousin's wedding.

    That just about equals the number of times I watched S wince as our nursing daughters chomped down on their milk maid meal ticket.

    That comes close to the number of licks it took me to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop.

    That equals exactly the number of times I've bit my lip when watching people buy a Windoze box over a Mac.

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Butterflies are free...and plentiful

    I've seen more butterflies in and around my small town in the last three months than I have my entire lifetime.

    There, I said it.

    You heard me, butterflies.

    Let me just stay that if these insects were called anything else other than butterflies, men wouldn't feel strange about dreamily watching their elegant flight paths that act as a stimulant to compose cheesy poetry worthy of a Susan Polis Schultz Blue Mountain Card.

    Right this very instant, there are what my non-entomologist eyes tell me are three monarch's slurping up nectar from a yet to be identified white-flowered bush outside my kitchen window. A menage a Danaus plexippus.

    All my life back in So Cal, I don't think I've seen more than a dozen or so butterflies.
    Moths, sure. Turn on a 40-watt on your porch and you can catch and torture as many as you want.
    But butterfly sightings were a rare and treasured occurance. At least in the San Gabriel Valley.

    However, after 3-months of the winged beauties flittering around, I find myself sadly jaded to their multitudes.

    No longer feeling sorry for the stray one that gets splattered on my windshield at 65 mph, or the one who finds itself helplessly lodged underneath the tin arm of my windshield wiper.

    Fact of life that beauty in the millions becomes ordinary and if you ask out 1000 super models, at least one of them is bound to say "yes."

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    Career Day, or lack thereof

    Yesterday was Career Day at C's school.

    Neither S nor I participated, so I won't be too critical of those who did. In fact, I should be thankful that some brave parents did show up and do their best to present their job choices in a positive light.

    My sincerest thanks.

    However, when I perused through C's book bag at the end of the day, I discovered a plethora of souvies and handouts apparently presented to the kinder waifs by the visiting Career oriented dignitaries.

    From a medial professional of some type, two rubber gloves, a medicine cup, some band-aids, and a sterile mask.

    We blew the gloves up into Mickey Mouse hand balloons, washed the medicine cup for future liquid children's benadryl applications, and drew a mustache on the sterile mask, which drew chuckles from the peanut gallery at home. The band-aids will go into our stash of band-aids, since the girls have determined that any "boo-boo" feels better by the magical antiseptic and pain-killing properties found in each sterile, sticky, beige strip.
    Who knew?

    A banker left this exciting, action packed picture for the kiddies to color to their hearts content.

    I don't think we have enough gray and black crayons for C to complete this picture. Perhaps a dull brown or boring beige will suffice. Mind the criticism, at least the guy showed up and had something to hand out. Although I think some fake money (or real money) would have been a more interest-inducing hand out for this particular group of 5-year olds.

    My favorite tchochkie from her day was this coloring book, from a visiting beef rancher.

    I love this coloring book. It's filled with all sorts of facts on the Oklahoma beef industry and traces how we get our various beef products from farm to table. Of course, the slaughterhouse segment is glossed over (by omission), but everyone knows how humanely we kill our cows here, right?

    I'm sure PETA would approve. Just look at how happy that young girl is to be appearing on the cover of the coloring book? She must be performing the ritual "cow-going-to-slaughter" dance -- note the twisted position of her left foot, and the semaphorically saluting position of her arms.

    In tribute, I attempted chicken fried steak for dinner last night. With sausage gravy, bacon fried green beans, and chocolate pudding for dessert.

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    Squirrel Nut Zippers (the candy, not the band).

    Every year, on our wedding anniversary, my wife and I pull the name of a state from this glass Ball jar, to determine where we'll be for our next anniversary.

    It's a tradition that has guided us to visit many states in our wonderful country, that neither of us would ever dream or dare of visiting.

    Last year, on the observation deck of the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois. we pulled Massachusetts.

    Which is where my wife and I just returned from a few days ago, after an extended trip away from our small town.

    Some observations relevant to my small town blog.

    Massachusetts is covered in trees. When we spotted a road sign indicating "Gas Food Lodging" we had to trust it's validity, since the trees surrounding the highways and exits afforded no view of any road side establishments.

    We logged over 800 miles on our Jeep-for-hire, in search of fall colors. Sadly, the bulk of the leaves hadn't yet turned, and the rainy weather dulled our retinas to the colored leaves that were staunchly hanging onto the branches.

    Massachusetts has a severe lack of roadkill. Which is amazing since the entire state is covered in trees. Trees, to me, means abundant wildlife. Abundant wildlife, to me, means roadkill. And yet, our pristine 4x4 ran over not a single dead dog, cat, coyote, deer, opossum, raccoon, armadillo or other nocturnal marsupial. These yankee varmits could teach our local population a thing or two about the rules of the road.

    Rotary(s) (aka roundabouts) intersections are cool. I loved them when driving in England and Scotland. I love the one in Santa Monica, and I loved the ones we spun around in on Massachusetts' intersections. I enjoy driving round and round and round. It affords me time to decide which is the exact exit I need to take, gives me the thrill of NASCAR (left turns only), and provides me the entertainment of watching S get car sick.

    Okay, that last one is neither fun nor funny.

    Dunkin' Donuts are as common as all-night taco stands in East LA. They seem to have perfected the art of drive-through donut consumerism. Bless them and the donut wagon they rode in on.

    Massachusettese is not a pretty accent. Say what you will about LA flop slang, and Okie twang, but when some fella is telling you about his hunting trip and he says, "when I staart'd the caar an the daags staart'd baarkin'," you start to appreciate the sections of the country that have no accent -- if they indeed exist."Everybody says words different,' said Ivy. 'Arkansas folks says 'em different, and Oklahomy folks says 'em different. And we seen a lady from Massachusetts, an' she said 'em different of all. Couldn't hardly make out what she was sayin'!"

    -- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939

    And finally, what do Squirrel Nut Zippers have to do with our trip to Mass? Revere, Mass is the home of Necco, the New England Confectionery Company, makers of the legendary Necco Wafers and the ever popular, Squirrel Nut Zippers (of which I am chewing on now).

    Gimme a second, these suckers are chewy.

    For those interested, for next year's anniversary, as the great Ray Charles sang it so beautifully, "...Georgia's on my mind."

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    Teacher with a good grip

    C's teacher and I have a lot in common. She milks cows in the mornings before going to school and I pour milk onto the girls cereal in the morning.

    Will things like that ever cease to amaze me?

    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    All things Apple

    Mac users
    Mac users are scarce here in my small town, but I managed to find one.

    Standing on a street corner waiting to cross the street, of all places.

    He was searching his 1st gen iPod for a particular song and was carrying a notebook on which was stuck the trademark frosty Apple sticker you get when you purchase a new Apple computer.

    A definite user.
    Me - (pointing to his Apple decal), how do you like your new G5?
    MacGeek - (grinning) I wish.
    Me - Yeah, me too.
    MacGeek - Dual 2.7 G5's...awesome.
    Me - You seen the new Nanos?
    MacGeek - Only online. Bet they don't make it here for a few months.
    Me - When's the Apple Store opening up at Penn?*
    MacGeek - Supposed to be by Christmas.
    Turns out he's studying web programming (likes Perl, hates Java, can't seem to grok CSS's just yet). He was a Windoze user until a prof at Tuttle turned him onto the Unix/Mac operating system on his iBook.
    Then he got his iPod on eBay.
    Then he got an Apple loan for his iBook (where he got his decal).
    Hasn't looked back since. Yet another switcher.

    Also gratifying to hear that there are some safe and sane tech profs at the vocational school level that aren't blindly preaching the benefits of what I consider to be the lowest common denominator of operating systems, windoze.

    We mac geeked out for awhile, then I started to get that old feeling of Steve Jobs worship, so I had to leave.

    Steve Jobs is not a God. Steve Jobs is not a God. Steve Jobs is not a God.

    .mac account
    Just had to renew my .mac membership for $108 and some change. Worth every penny of it, but I only mention making the payment since a co-worker at my old employer would get it comped for me -- u da man, Seth, baby.

    Not much I miss about the old cube farm (other than the people, the work, lunches with the nerd herd, comped .mac account, new Mac's every other year or so to work on, friendly competition between us and the Windoze engineers, my Herman Miller Aeron chair, etc.).

    *Working for Apple
    I got a call a few weeks back from Apple-Cupertino about a resume I had sent in last March. When I was still in my job-hunting phase of our move to OK, I was thrilled to see that an actual Apple Store would be opening at a nearby mall.

    Intrigued, but not at all interested, I called the Apple person back, we spoke.
    A different Apple person called back, we spoke some more.
    The first Apple person called back and wanted to set up a face-to-face.
    I told them I wasn't interested at this time.
    They said they'd only keep my resume for 6 months. I said fine and asked when the store would open.
    Holiday Season 2005.


    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    Stairway to Heaven

    Spotted this abouut 20 miles south of our small town. Historical marker identifies it as the former site of a Mennonite enclave.

    You can almost hear Page's telecaster and JP Jones recorder in the distance.

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    Hey, get your car washed today...

    Car washes are not a luxury item here in my small town. You can find multi-stall do-it-yourself car wash joints in just about every town with running water.

    This land isn't called Red Earth Country just to pay homage to it's original residents. Oklahoma's trademark dirt is red, sticky, and refuses to stay on the ground. Dry, wet, windy, humid -- no matter what the environmental conditions, Oklahoma's top soil WILL end up on your vehicle.

    CLK to F-150 -- sano your ride for $.75

    Why do the varmints cross the road? I've blogged this before.
    Here, here and here.

    From completely intact bug carcasses, to road kill remnants stubbornly sticking to the ribs of your aging sexy import. Dead or near dead impromptu hitchikers can add severe poundage to the GVW of your ride.

    Grand Am to Grand Prix - expunge the carrion for $.75

    One thing I noticed at our local car wash was an extra setting on the select-o- dial labeled "Engine Cleaning and Degreaser."

    Steam clean your Tonawanda built big block V-8 for $.75

    This engine cleaning setting was outlawed in California about the time I was in high school, looking to steam clean the grease off the chrome laden small block in my hot rod Nova.

    EPA didn't like the thought of millions of gallons of soapy motor grease running out into the Santa Monica bay.

    No such restrictions here (least not for the time being). Wonder where all the millions of gallons of soapy motor grease runs out to here in my small town?

    Funny tasting well water for $.75?

    Yes, we have a reverse osmosis filtration system on our drinking water.

    Who stole the IKEA catalog?

    File this under, "if you can't get it here, it must be cool."

    At S's office, a floorwide e-memo circulated regarding the missing IKEA catalog from the break room

    Seems someone wasn't willing to share the 150 page treasure trove of Danish furniture and accessories in living color with their fellow employees. After a brief, but happy existence atop the magazine and catalog pile in the breakroom, it went missing.

    And the uproar began.

    Having spent the lat 18-years in LA, S was rightly confused as to why this would cause such a ruckus amongst her fellow floormates.

    A co-worker in an adjoining office summed it up and made the entire incident clear as she described her recent vacation to Minnesota.

    She described some of the sights, sounds, and interesting people her and her husband experienced in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. However the main destination of their trip was their two-day jaunt (yes, they spent two entire days) at an IKEA store.

    They cruised the aisles of pressboard furniture and overstuffed pillows.
    They marveled at the directional arrows painted on the floor.
    They dined on swedish meatball plates and lingonberry juice.
    They became different characters, fitting the mood and decor of the mini-decorated dioramas on the showroom floor.
    They filled their yellow sack with small household items with names such as "britta" and "gorn" and "cmirt."

    It was the highlight of their trip.

    As you may have guessed, IKEA has not yet made it to the dusty cosmopolitan roads of Oklahoma.

    There are three in Texas, but our big ugly neighbor to the south is a big a*s state -- and someones got to furnish it.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    Daylight Donuts

    I consider myself very fortunate to have settled my family into a small town that has a donut shop.

    Yep, just the one.

    Growing up in SoCal, I was accustomed to eating what I believed to be the best donuts, made by a group of people who I still believe to be the best donut makers in the states, Cambodians.

    I'm not sure why, but during the 70's, when there was a large influx of refugees from the Southest Asian peninsula, Cambodians gravitated toward donut shops, when selecting businesses to open up in the LA area. After 30 years and several generations of making the fried, doughy, objects of desire, I believe they've achieved perfection in this particular culinary art.

    And donut shops are as plentiful in LA, as road kill is on the highways of central Oklahoma.

    So you can see why I was hopefully skeptical when I first entered our local donut chain store several months ago. Hopeful, because I knew it was the only donut joint in town. Skeptical, because I knew there was a slim to none chance that I'd find a friendly Cambodian family running the fryer in the back.

    I take PK once a week for her sprinke donut after dropping C off at school in the morning. I usually get a sausage biscuit (warmed), a couple plain cakes and a small coffee. Call it an Okie power breakfast.

    My small town's donut shop is a chain store, but the people that run it make it feel like a small mom&pop operation.

    I was delighted to find that the donuts were made fresh every day by ladies who seem to really care about their product. The selection was limited but with enough variety to satisfy both my aging donut-intake palate for plain, cake donuts, my lovely wife's passion for buttermilk bars, and the girls innate need for chocolate covered and sprinkle covered sugar rushes.

    They offered both kinds of coffee -- reg and decaf. No frilly french roast here, just real, black, hot coffee worthy of being carried in Juan Valdez's burro's backpack.

    The drive-up window service is a nice touch, complete with a surplus rollover sensor that must have been rescued from a gas station of old. The familiar "ding-ding" sound that reverberates throughout the donut shop as a pick-up truck rolls over the black, rubber hose in the drive-up lane, is a welcomed sound from my childhood. Alas, another sound rendered obsolete with the extinction of full-service gas stations.

    I sit amazed as PK commences to remove all the frostine and colored sprinkles (aka jimmys) from her inner-tube shaped pastry, leaving behind a bare, yet beautiful cake donut. I've also watched C methodically lick off the entire chocolate covering from a long-john in similar fashion.

    I break apart and dip a cake donut into my small cup of steaming, light brown (cream and two sugars) coffee, feeling the excess dribble off my chin before coming to a violent end on my outstretched napkin.

    There's a neon clock on the wall, a bulletin board filled with snapshots of family members, and a nice lady who periodically saunters by with what always seems to be a freshly made pot of coffee to refill emptied or near empty styrofoam cups.

    I enjoy watching the folks who eat their donuts with a knife and fork, always taking the time to wipe clean the white plastic utensils supplied completely gratis by the shop.

    The elderly couple who have met here every week for the last 40 years inform PK and I that a cold front is coming and that we should bring all of our sensitive plants indoors. They take one last loving look at the cuteness that is PK with donut trim surrounding her mouth and pile into their town cars in the parking lot.

    Cambodian donuts they may not be. But as far as donut shops go, I'm comfortably at home.

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    "Well, I'll be..."

    Our small town is fortunate enough to have our own dump.

    Actually, it's just a long ramp that takes you to the top of a dumpster, that gets hauled away on a set schedule or whenever it gets full.

    To dump your load, you must be a resident off my small town. Acceptable proof of residency is a utility bill.

    Easy enough.

    Last week I took a load consisting of a broken limb from the recent storms, the remnants of our tile kitchen counter top, a few bags of grass shavings, and a trash can full of wood shavings.

    I drove the loaded El Camino up the ramp and started unloading everything non-organic, since there are piles located elsewhere in the dump for those items.

    A 60-something fella I've never seen or met before, comes walking up to me. He's about 5 foot nothing, 200 and something, coke bottle glasses, red bandana tied round his balding but thankfully comb-over free pate, stained t-shirt (no holes), and rustic blue jeans. And he has three eyebrows.
    Picture Boss Hogg on a rough day spent out at Cooter's garage.
    BH - Whatcha got?
    Me - Just some stuff to dump.
    He raises an eyebrow. Uh oh, me thinks trouble is brewing.BH - You got something to show me?
    Me - Oh, okay. Here.
    I pull out my Oklahoma driver's license and show it to him. He peruses the laminated card which allows me to operate a motor vehicle in this state and hands it back to me.
    BH - That means nothing to me. I need to see a utility bill that shows you live here.
    Me - Well, my address is right there on my driver's license.
    He pauses long enough for me to think several things, the last of which is what I'm gonna make for dinner that night. Finally he raises his second eyebrow and says,
    BH - Well, I'll be.I try my best not to show any emotion at all, but my brain is racing to remember the following dialogue for this blog entry.Me -I've been here loads of times before. Showed the young fella my license and my power bill back in April and never thought twice about bringing a bill out every time I'm out here.
    Still looking at my license. He looks up at me and raises his third and final eyebrow. I sense a confrontation.
    Me -...however, since your the new boss around here, I'll be sure to bring my power bill out the next time, and I'll be sure to stop in and check out my load with you.
    He smiles, extends his hand out.
    BH - My names Hank, pleased to meet you.
    Me - Likewise (shaking his hand)
    BH - Just saying, I don't know you, never seen you around here, and I've been here for 3-weeks now.
    Me -Well, you probably won't see many Asian fellas driving a classic red and white El Camino hot rod around here, neither.
    BH - I reckon'
    Me - Okay, well, sorry to make a mess of things, and I'll be sure to bring out my bill next time I'm out here.
    BH - I'd appreciate that very much.
    The idling El Camino beckons me to get behind the wheel. I get in and am careful not to spin the wheels as I drive away.

    Don't want him to think I"m some disrespectful punk kid

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005


    The other night, I attended my first ever PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) meeting.

    In addition to wanting to become actively invovled in C's education, I wanted to see if I could get to know some other folk in our small town and start to build some friendly relations.

    I also wanted to bring up the whole - encouraging obesity with stickers - policy at C's school re: finishing their school lunches.

    S prepped me with her encouraging words and coached me on not only what I was going to say, but how I was going to say it -- saying it without the accusatory "you" language and suggesting alternatives to what we felt was an improper policy.

    You may recall from a previous post that C came home from school one day and asked if she could take her lunch tomorrow instead of eating the school lunch.

    When asked why, she responded that she wanted to get a sticker.

    Seems the school rewards any student who finishess their lunch with a sticker. And since the lunches are too much for C to finish, she never gets a sticker.

    She figured that if she brought her own, smaller lunch, with portions she could finish, then she could get a sticker and not have to keep eating.

    Now, we've always taught our daughters to listen to their bodies, to eat what their bodies are telling them to eat, and to stop eating when they get full. Never clean your plate unless you really want to and definitely not because someone is telling you to - or bribing you with stickers.

    This reward system that the school is pushing appears (at least to us) to be encouraging behavior that leads to obesity -- which we all know is a huge (no pun intended) problem in our country.

    We addressed the issue by re-stressing to C the importance of listening to her body and that she didn't have to finish her lunch.

    Back to the PTO meeting. The agenda was light and breezy and I was tempted to say my peace, but the numerous members that appeared to be dealing with the obesity battle (losing or totally giving up) stifled any desire I had to bring up the subject.

    Maybe some other time. In the meantime, we also stocking up on stickers for C to play with and enjoy when she gets home from school.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Lyrical looniness

    The next Kindergardener you run into, ask them if they know the words to a showtune.

    Any showtune.

    C has been in her Kindergarden class for a little over 3 weeks and last night she sang the entire main theme song from "Oklahoma."

    What, you were expecting "West Side Story?"

    I remember the first time my then-girlfrend/now-wife brought me to visit her Oklahoma hometown over 18 years ago. Her parents had bought us tickets to see a local college's stage production of the classic Rogers and Hammerstein's musical extravaganza.

    I sat in awe as my "not-yet-totally-jaded-and-corrupted-by-Los Angeles future wife," seemed to know every single word to every single song in the show. I was enamored by her Okie innocence, and since she has one of the lovliest voices in the entire history of human voices, I remember listening to her more than any others.

    Then, at the finale, when the main theme bursts from the orchestra pit, and the actors are running forward on the stage, hands locked and smiles wide - the entire audience got to their feet and sang the final stanza with all the pride and joy of a Mother giving birth to twins.
    "You're looking fine, Oklahoma,

    Wonder how many 5-year olds in California can spell "California?"

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Bass Pro rocks!

    Bass Pro Shops are amazing.

    Now, I'm not an outdoor/sportsman/huntiing kinda guy, but even I can appreciate a great big air conditioned supermart of outdoor sports gadgets, clothes, toys, food, etc.

    Downtown OKC is fortunate enough to have such a store and we frequent it, not so much to purchase camp stoves and ammo, but to take in the sights of all the non-PETA approved stuffed animal carcasses, the wonderfully realistic displays, acres and acres of merchandise, and the huge indoor lake habitat aquarium, completely stocked with fish that can be found in Oklahoma's lakes and rivers.

    Because we're within the 100 mile radius of this Bass Pro store, we periodically receive the large Bass Pro newspaper sales flyer.

    I need some explanation of this item.

    Why would I spend so much for a rock? Do I take this hunting with me? Do I use it to deliver the killing blow to the helpless animal that I've bagged, to put it out of it's misery?
    Sure, chuckle at my ignorance, but you've got to see some humor in my curiosity?

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    Oklahoma is a small town

    During this time of the year, the entire state of Oklahoma becomes one giant small town. However, these small townsfolk find their loyalties split in two, due to the popularity of one sport and the two major colleges within the pan-shaped borders.

    That's right, it's football season. and the majority of Okie's bleed either Sooner red or OSU orange.

    Even the AOR rock station that I listen to is playing a mixed track that consists of the Sooner Boomer fight song, the OSU fight song, finishing with a rousing chorus off Roger's and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma."

    C'mon, sing with me. Everyone knows at least one line of lyrics in THAT song.

    And now, you too will be humming it all day long.

    You're welcome.

    Monday, August 29, 2005

    The season of laundry

    I spend a lot of time doing laundry.
    Working wife - professional outfits (thankfully, not a lot of dry cleaning), working-on-the-house-weekend outfits, morning-walk outfits, and miscellaneous just-plain-living outfits.

    C - school outfits, play outfits, really-hard-play oufits, I'm-5 1/2-and-I-like-to-change-my-clothes-every-hour oufits.

    PK - I'm-2 1/2-with-the-God-given-right-to-smear-whatever-I-want-onto-my-clothes outfits.

    Me - Working-on-the-house-grungy outfits, mowing-edging-the-lawn-extra-grungy outifts, working-on-the-Elky-or-in-the-garage-extra-extra-grungy outfits and miscellaneous just-plain-living outfits.

    With temps in the mid-upper 90's and humidity to rival Florida moments after a summer hurricane, I can soak a t-shirt in a just a few minutes of outside activity -- taking out the trash, chasing away a cat that's pooping in our yard or flicking some locusts shells off of our house.

    Still, as bad as it is, I can't help thinking of past residences of our 100-year old house, that had to suffer through these furnace-like conditions with no central air, no central plumbing, no ice maker, and no Sonic slushes to see them through it.

    Cooler fall temps are rumored to be just a few short weeks away, as the big OKC Fair hits town mid-September. Folks tell me it always seems to rain on the Fair, bringing brisk and welcomed autumnal temps to the state.

    I was always glad to bid summer a fond farewell in So Cal, but saying sayonara to summer and all the sweat soaked laundry that goes with it has become a consuming obsession with me here in central Oklahoma.

    What laundry challenges will the next season bring me?

    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    A 5-year old figures it out

    We bought the school lunches for C for the first semester. Just to see how it goes. The prices were reasonable (even by OK standards), we got to sample the menu selections (see blog posting Open House), and her being new in town/school, we didn't want her to be only brown bagger in her class. At least for now.

    She's been enjoying the well-rounded, government approved, surprisingly low on fried foods, but seemingly carb-heavy school lunches.

    Get ready to drool...

    Today's meal was:
    Mini Corn Dogs
    Macaroni & Cheese
    Green Peas
    Afterschool C asked me if she could bring lunch tomorrow. I asked why.
    She told me that any kid who finishes their lunch gets a sticker, and that she hasn't gotten a sticker because the lunch is too big and she can never finish it off. So, if she brought a lunch that she could finish, she'd gobble it down, and get the sticker.

    Hmm. Rewarding a kid for cleaning off their plate. Sounded to me and S a little like obesity training circa 1950 or so.

    Are there really anymore starving kids in China who would love to have my lima beans?

    However, I couldn't argue with her logic and desire to acquire the overeaters anonymous reward sticker.

    I promised to make her a lunch later this week that she could eat in it's entirety. She had already decided on the contents:a diagonally cut pb and j on whole grain bread
    a string cheese stick
    juce box
    orange wedges.
    Tomorrow however, I'll fork over a special SpongeBob Squarepants sticker that I've been keeping for myself. It was destined to adorn one of my peechee folders, but such are the sacrifices of parenthood.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    Kill a mouse, save a tree

    S found what she deduced to be a relatively fresh mouse poop in the attic, so off to the store I went to buy some critter catchers.

    Package of 4 for a buck and two bits plus tax and I was in hunter/killer mode.

    A spoonful of peanut butter for bait, and my mouse neck snapping playground was open for business.

    Found this written on the back of a mouse trap wrapper. Made me chuckle to think that the mouse trap manufacturers were trying to appease the tree huggers. Guess they thought better of trying to appease PETA.

    -click on pic to enlarge-

    Stay tuned for the run down on my pest poach.

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    Road Kill #1

    It was a quick turn of events.

    I believe it was an armadillo.
    Medium sized. Wandering across the highway in a driving rainstorm. Horizontal rain. Low visibility.

    It didn't see me coming either.
    It didn't turn it's head to look at me.
    It didn't show me it's fixated eyes, big as saucers, staring into my halogens.
    It just kept it's focus on getting to the other side of the road,

    It was a fateful crossing.

    I wasn't about to try to swerve around it. The slick roads made that decision for me.
    I wasn't about to try out the ABS brakes -- yet another decision made for me by Mr. slippery-when-wet roadway.
    I wasn't about make the slight correction necessary to align the critter with a tire, humanely killing it with a momentary squish.

    It was a quick decision.

    I was just going to try to aim straight for it and hope that the armored-vehicle-on-four-legs would be low profile enough to fit beneath the lowest point of our car -- the oil pan....or so I thought.

    As I crossed the threshold and the critter momentarily disappeared from my view, I held my breath.

    It was a quick breath.

    No thundering thud. No fleshly munch. No exoskeleton crunch. Had the silvery sloth relative cleared our 4-bangers 4-quart pan?

    I was in mid-starting-to-breath-my-sigh-of-relief when I heard and felt what must have been the critter making contact with what WAS actually the lowest point of our car -- the rear axle.

    It was quick death.

    The rain streaked rear window afforded little view of the carnage that I had left behind. As before, the near flooded two-lane forced me to keep my eyes focused straight ahead.

    I would have to look for the carcass another day.

    The next time I'm forced to watch The Lion King DVD for the umpteeth time with my daughters, I'll be sure to sing "The Circle of Life" with just a bit more feeling.

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    Bad Company in concert...well, sorta

    Big date this weekend.

    S and I are going here.

    By linking to this site, am I in no way, shape or form endorsing the performance of this fella, nor am I endorsing the continued patronage of any lead-singer-from-a-now-extinct-and-not-all-that-popular-when-they-were-popular-from-the-70's band.

    Okay, I think they may have had one top-40 hit in the 80's as well. Props for cracking the charts in the post-disco era.

    The swap meet should be fun too.

    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    Geeking out on dino bonez

    Okay, I'll admit it. I was a dino geek as a kid.

    I fondly remember the days when paleontology was an obsession with me and I would live for the day when King Kong would rerun on tv so I could catch a glimpse of the stop-frame animated dinosaurs battling the big ape for a piece of Fay Wray.

    It got so bad that my 2nd grade teacher suggested that I bring in something other than a plastic dinosaur for show-and-tell, since I had already gone though my vast collection of brightly colored hard plastic thunder lizard's several times over.

    Last week I took the girls on a 70 minute drive down to Norman, OK to check out the dino bones at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History.

    Seeing as how C's current ambitions in life are to be a "bone-digger" or "snorkeler," a big part of me digs the fact that she's digging the same kinds of things that I dug as a kid.

    The museum is compact but filled with enough eye candy for the kids (adult kids like me as well), and information for the literati who enjoy reading backlit factoids on all things natural and historical.

    The ancient man exhibit was a bit too realistic for my 2 1/2 year old, but the rest of the museum fit her nicely.

    We all had some rainbow Push-Ups at the adjoining cafe afterward (a first for the girls), and both of them napped on the drive home.

    A great stay-at-home-Dad day.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Open house

    Went to C's new school for the Open House/Meet the Teacher event.

    Our small town has one public elementary school, grades Pre-K to 4th.

    There are two Pre-K (AM and PM sessions), five Kindergarden, five 1st grade, four second, third and fourth grade classes. I noticed that each class has an average of 16 - 18 students and looked pretty evenly divided according to gender.

    Highlight was meeting her first real school teacher (sturdy looking woman), checking out the classroom (such tiny chairs) and sampling the dizzying array of culinary delights from food vendors competing for the school breakfast and lunch program.

    I was astounded how many vendors showed up and the decent quality of samples we were offered. My grade school lunch menu never had lasagna with meat sauce, vegetarian enchiladas, and your choice of chicken, turkey, or all beef corn dogs.

    We snarfed for an hour before realizing we were no longer hungry (it was dinner time) and only needed that final visit to the Hostess table for a Ding Dong to satisfy our "craving-something-sweet" palate.

    Weird being back in a school.
    Even weirder being back in a school that my kid is going to.
    Weirder yet was seeing one of these in the hallway...

    Tell me that doesn't bring back memories of grade school.

    Pencils with your schools name engraved in gold lettering on the shaft...priceless.

    Well, maybe not priceless. More like $.25.

    Of course I bought one..I have just as much school spirit as the next stay-at-home-Dad.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    Unhooking a fish

    My father-in-law exclaimed that when he and my mother-in-law take C out on the lake and stumble upon a school of surfacing bass, he spends all of his time unhooking fish from everyone elses line, and never gets his own pole into the lake.

    This past weekend, C's curiosity and growing need for tactile experiences overcame her fear of touching "icky, alive, things."

    At 5 1/2, my daughter will now fearlessly reach up and grasp a freshly caught lake bass, in all it's flip-flopping, wet and wriggling wonder, hold it tight, and even give it a gentle stroke as she quietly reassures it with her innocent cooing voice.

    A nearby adult still has to unhook the squirming scaled creatures as we don't want C going near the hooked lures. However, I imagine she'll be reaching into the gaping mouths of the suffocating beasts with her adolescent digits and extracting sonic rooster tails in no time at all.

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    Back to School

    It's been 29 years since I was last enrolled as an elementary school student.

    Those of us who were semi-prepared, usually had a pencil or two (pre-sharpened), a peechee folder, maybe some three-ring paper, and an eraser that didn't make too huge a bulge in your pocket. A goody comb in your back pocket (black was the popular color, but I had to have a red one), some change for lunch or a quick snack at the local Trader Joe's after school, and you were set.

    Things seemed to have changed a bit.

    C starts kindergarden at our small town's public elementary school this week and she apparently has a list of required school supplies she is expected to bring on her first day of class. REQUIRED!

    WalMart has a rotating display with separate supply lists for each grade from all of the surrounding area schools. You simply find your child's school and grade, pick up the corresponding sheet of paper and go happily skipping down the school supply aisle, shopping cart at the ready -- yes, we needed a shopping cart and not just one of those plastic carry baskets.

    Our small town newspaper was extra heavy this weekend as they printed the school lists for all the grades and surrounding school systems as well. This was good reading, let me tell you. Some of my favorite required items included:

    • 7th & 8th grade / Multi-subject notebook for notes and cumulative knowledge -- cumulative that what they're calling public education these days?

    • 8th grade / Wide line notebook paper -- I think I was using the narrow line paper way back in 4th grade cuz it was cooler to write smaller..or so I remember.

    • 2nd grade on / No. 2 pencils - now really, why were No. 2 pencils singled out as the be-all, end-all of pencils?

    • All grades / Two reams white copy paper - wow, two reams worth. That's some heavy lifting on day one of school.

    • 3rd grade / Pink Pearl Eraser - anyone know what this is...anyone?

    • All grades / antibacterial wet wipes - ahh, I love the smell of antibaterial wet wipes in the morning...

    School supply accumulation has reached red (severe) terror alert status as local radio stations and desperate communities are having round-the-clock school supply donate-a-thons in parking lots across the state.

    I imagine most, if not all of the public schools in this country are subjecting their students to similar requirements before the bells ring in the next few months -- and may have been for quite some time.

    It's just been awhile since I've been exposed to the world of public education. What other adventures lie ahead for this stay-at-home Dad are yet to be seen. PTA? School fundraisers? PeeWee sports leagues? BAKE SALES?