Thursday, June 30, 2005

July 4th Parade

My small town is gearing up for it's annual 4th of July Celebration.

A small parade down Main street, which unfortunately will not pass directly in front of our house. We have to walk up about a half block to get good seats. Bummer. I was hoping to be able to setup on our front porth to watch the parade. That would be too Americana for words.

C entered the 4th of July parade last year down in my in-laws small town. She won first prize with her Paul Revere-inspired costume and "yankee-doodle dandied" up bicycle that S made to look like a horse (complete with a painted up cardboard and plaster-of-paris head piece).

This year we'll just be spectators since it'll be our first fourth in our small town. Carnival, games, rides, and contests will take place at the largest park in town a few blocks away as well. C is hoping for a watermelon eating contest.

(Hold on, sarcasm coming) Weather should be nice for it.

Predicted temps will be in the high 90's with humidity in the 75% range due to a series of storms that are due to hit tonight and carry through to Saturday. Swell. Gotta make sure to "Deet'up."

To prep the city for the onslaught of visitors from the neighboring communities (25 - 50 people, maybe), the Chamber of Commerce is handing out patriotic bunting for homeowners to decorate the front of their homes with. We had our own, thanks, but if I did partake of this CofC freebie, would I have to return it....washed?

Our inflatable Uncle Sam awaits all comers to our small town festivties.

Whether he can stand up to the wind, rain, and hail of the impending storms, is yet to be seen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Lake doins' Part 2

I caught a glimpse of C as a speed demon teenager while at the lake.

At 5 1/2, she is a seasoned seadoo-er.

She can start it up, get it going, steers it around boats, stumps, turtles, and the occasional downed water skier.

Her hands are still a little too small to sqeeze the throttle control to maximum -- which is a good thing. Generally she tends to keep it under 35 knots.

But the seadoo my in-laws own is a 90 horsepower model (my Civic has 85 hp!), and if C were on it alone, I doubt she'd be able to hang onto it at maximum speed (50 knots or so).

I'm not all that crazy about personal watercraft. Too much like riding a motorcycle for me -- no doors between you and the pavement/water. Heck, I'm not even that crazy about convertibles.

C, on the other hand, has stated on several occasions that "all cars should be like our Corvette where the top comes off."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fishing license and smoked meat

Had an opportunity to do some casting and reeling while at the lake, so I trekked the few blocks to the local convenience store/bait shop to pick up a state mandated $20 piece of paper granting me the right to put a lure in the lake.

I was greeted by a portly clerk, sporting blue blocker sunglasses, a teeshirt advertising a local cruise/poker run, and a visor covered in what appeared to be pins from some Olympic event of the past century.

The clerk only took a few minutes of scrutinizing my new Oklahoma driver's license before asking me which name was my first name.
"The American sounding name at the end, there," I told her. Hey, turns out by maddening coincidence I share my first name with one of her favorite nephews that caught a 3 lb. sand bass a few weeks back. Swell.

Several humorous anecdotes later, I had my license to kill -- fish. I was off.

Or so I thought.

The clerk continued to talk as I made my way for the heavy glass paned door...
"You may want to swing by here tomorrow afternoon. We're bringing up the smoker and will be cookin' up some meat in the parking lot here." Meat? Smoking meat in the bait store parking lot? The heavenly odor of animal carcasses being slow cooked combined with the smell of the bait tanks wafting over.
"Yep, we got some ribs, and some hot links...a ton of chicken."I smiled and nodded, anticipating my exit, stupidly not expecting what was coming next...
"...and also something you'll probably want to get in on...we got some teriyaki chicken and steaks we'll be cooking up special."Uh huh.

Nothing more I can add to my entry other than my favorite movie reference to the "Japanese Marinade of the gods" in the Woody Allen film, What's Up, Tiger Lily?
"My name is Teri Yaki...and this is my sister, Suki Yaki."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Small town lake doins' Part 1

Oklahoma has a lot of lakes. My in-laws built a house on one of the most beautiful lakes in the eastern part of the state. It's their weekend retreat and the girls love to spend time out there doing lake-type activities.

While wading around in the lake this past weekend, I decided I needed to pee.

Big lake, family was a good distance away, not a snapping turtle in sight -- good time to practice one of natures true joys in life. I sat back, tried to relax, got into the frame of mind that all mammals of higher intelligence zone into during the pre-urination ritual.

I couldn't muster a drop.

Minutes later, still nothing. Surrounded by megatons of lake water, in the privacy afforded by the underwater veil of secrecy, I and my pathetically full bladder remained innert.

Only thing I can figure is that at 41 (about to turn 42), my mind is still somewhat in control of my body, even on a subconscious level. So ingrained in my brain is the proclivity to "hold it in" until an appropriate time, that even when I'm relaxing in a semi-warm crystal clear eastern Oklahoma lake, can I not produce even a single drop.

After failing the most basic of biological functions, I climbed back into the boat and we lazily motored ourselves back to the cabin.

You guessed it. I needed to go all the way home.

But I was able to hold it in. I am, after all, still a man. I now know that my urinary limitations involve porcelin fixtures and maybe an occasional tree/bush.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The name game

Listed in the Classified/Personal ads in our local paper this week.
Item #1
"Notice: I will not be responsible for any debts other than my own."
Esther Peck

Item #2
Amy Leck, CMT
For appointments call 317-379x

Item #3
Congratulations to Ryan Jech
High School Grad, '05
The Jech Family

Peck - Leck - Jech: apparently the poetry patrol was having a coffee and curler with our paper's editor.

I don't know why Esther is being all uppity about paying off other people's debts.

Amy is a Certified Massage Therapist, and not a cable station dedicated to country music.

The Jech's (pronounced "yeck") are a prominet family here in town. They sell insurance.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Chihuly Exhibit

Took my visiting Mom to see some class and culture not offered in my small town.

Trekked over to the OKCMOA to peruse the amazing glass artwork of Dale Chihuly, including the jaw dropping 55-foot tower.

Truth be told, this Chihuly guy is whacked, but makes awe inspiring glass works of art.

Oh, and he wears an eyepatch.

Don't think it's for looks. Industrial accident. My guess is, oh, I don't know, got a piece of glass in his eye?

Truth be told, the museum would be pretty pathetic without the Chihuly exhibit. Did have on loan some Japanese wood block prints and some kimonos from the 20th century. Tried to take some pics but was stopped by the docent nazi. Guess I should learn to read the posted signs.

Lunched at a noodle shop downtown. Refreshing to see chopsticks being used properly out here in red-meat and spuds land.

Truth be told, I don't even use chopsticks correctly. Works for me though, so I can't criticize anyone else.

S uses them correctly and is quite adept at them, but she holds her fork in a weird way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Video job I won't be applying for

S saw this notice for a state videographer/photographer position and sent it along to me.

Summary of Job Duties:
Under the direct supervision of the Information Supervisor, the position is responsible for performing a variety of communication functions, including shooting/editing broadcast quality video; writing copy for scripts, news releases and magazine articles.  Perform basic desktop publishing for newsletters and other publications, and collect still photographs for Outdoor Oklahoma magazine and other internal and external publications.
Pretty standard stuff. Video and DTP work for their state run outdoor oriented tv show and magazine, newsletters, etc.

Must be flexible enough to work extended hours, weekends and work outdoors in extreme weather.  May be required to stay overnight out of town.
Extreme weather? You mean like, 80 mph winds, 100 degree/100% humidity temps, tornado-infested conditions?

Must be able to operate standard/automatic transmission vehicles, including ATVs, and operate vehicles with a trailer attached, including boat trailers.  Must be able to lift and carry a minimum of 50 pounds for a distance of 100 yards, lift, carry and use resource trunks, boxes of educational material, display cases, signs, cages, audio-visual and photographic equipment. 
ATVs are good, but I'm no good at backing up a boat trailer. Friend of mine who bought a boat took the trailer out to his local Target parking lot early one morning to practice. Good idea.

Here's where it gets good...
Requires the ability to handle wild animals in live and dead condition, walk or jog over rough terrain for extended periods and swim. 
Um...pass, thanks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Extreme backyard gardening

And you thought your backyard vegetable garden was big...

This guy needs a tractor for his garden.

Monday, June 20, 2005

C's tornado basket

So, what does a 5-year old want to take to the cellar in her "tornado basket"?

  • Three dvd's - Garfield, the Movie, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, and Princess Sing-Along-Songs
  • Her coin purse with all her mad money in cash.
  • Laserpointer flashlight
  • Wonder Woman Pez dispenser (no candy left however, so it's just for decoration)
  • Dog (stuffed)

  • Amazing how her basket's contents are nearly idential to mine, with the exception of the DVD titles -- I just added the entire 1st (and only) season of The Lone Gunmen TV series set that my brother gave me for Father's Day.

    Also, my coin purse is empty yet my Pez head is almost full...

    What's in your tornado basket?

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Missed yet another earthquake...[sigh]

    We don't have earthquakes here in my small town. Unless you mistake the rumbling of a dozen or so combines heading down Main Street as a 5.0 trembler, the only shaking our house does is under 70 mph winds or the [yawn] occasional tornado warning.

    I have to admit to be experiencing some withdrawls having heard about the 5.2 shaker on Sunday just outside of Anza -- which was felt all over the Southland (what the local newscast call the greater LA basin).

    Digging deep, I don't miss the actual moving and shaking, per se. Since the survivability rate of earthquakes (so far) is astronomically in your favor, the event itself can be scary at the onset. However, once your brain kicks in and you realize what's happening, most of the time you just ride it out, watch for falling bookshelves, and can't wait to turn on the TV.

    See, what I really miss about earthquakes is the local news coverage afterward.

    I missed the big Northridge quake in '91. I was in a remote part of Oklahoma, researching and co-writing a historical screenplay. With no tv reception where we were staying, we had to run into the nearest diner that had cable TV, and convince them to switch on the news.

    In LA, the local news "post-quaking" coverage is live TV at it's pinnacle of silliness.

    If the quake is early enough in the A.M., you may be fortunate enough to see normally perfectly coiffed on-air talent without pancake makeup or hairspray.

    Witness your favorite news personalities ad-libbing inadequacies as they scramble to find words not yet scrolling on the teleprompter.

    Scoff at the quick response teams on the street, frantically interviewing the most inarticulate quake witnesses they can find.Was it more of a rolling or sudden jerking motion?And yes, you are reading the blog of an actual witness to NBC morning anchor Kent Shocknek, ducking under the newsdesk as an aftershock of the '87 Whittier Narrows quake hit the southland during his broadcast.

    He defends his actions here. Scroll down to "Part Three with Kent Shocknek."

    It made the national news and he was chided for his behavior, but I liked Kent for his brazen display of self-preservation on live TV. The term "pulling a shocknek" even entered the slang lexicon for a short time, defined as "savings ones own butt."

    Shocknek love y'all.

    Sunday, June 12, 2005

    Donnin' a doo rag

    With local temps in the 90's and humidity levels sweltering in the 70% range, I've been sporting my preferred sweat collection apparatus on my head when I do something strenuous and perspiration taking out the trash, getting up from my chair, or thinking really hard.

    Doo Rags.

    S thinks the locals will think I'm a gang member.

    Out here? A gang member. I guess it's possible.

    Ay, yo trip. Boo ya...y'all.

    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    Death Cage Matches

    The girls and I were taking a wagon ride a few blocks away and across the train tracks to the local pool for an hour (or two) long dip.

    Well, okay, they were taking a wagon ride. I was exercising my gastrocnemius muscles -- which are not too shabby for a 40-something year old, I might add.

    Onward we trudged in the 90 degree (60% humidity) Oklahoma sunshine, when suddenlty the Radio Flyer wagon's wheels squealed to a stop. We stopped to witness several teenage boys involved in, what can only be described as, a

    "Trampolining Backyard Death Cage Match."

    Here is what they were using as their death cage.

    Wifey tells me that trampolines are big here in the prairie states. Big back yards means having big backyard toys.

    We watched in horror, then humor, then horror again as the teen's pummeling of each other grew more intense with the presence of a non-paying, but present audience.

    The girls waved to the boucing trampo-gladiators as the pneumatic tires of the red wagon "peeled out" under the power of the weary gastrocnemius twins.

    Will the girls have nightmares tonight? We can onlly hope not.

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    A truckload

    Load that I followed for a few miles driving into our small town.

    Wheat harvest is coming to a close in the areas surrounding our small town. Farmer's are starting to dot the downtown landscape again. And no sign yet of the promised mouse overrun, little black wheat beetles, or dust filled atmosphere.

    Joy of joys.

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    Sonic Drive-In's

    Here in my small town we're fortunate enough to be big enough to have a Sonic Drive-In.

    It's a chain, that acts like a good old-fashion drive-in, fast food, hang out. Pull up into a stall, peruse the menu, push a button, spew your order into a squak box, and in a few minutes a cherubic Sonic employee carrys your order out to your car on a red tray.

    On good days, you may even get your food delivered via a roller blading high schooler.

    I'd say it was just like the good old days, but since I wasn't around for the good old days, I'll have to just assume it was like the good old days.

    Just one time I want pull up and replay a scene from one of the best films of all time, American Graffiti and order the following:

    "I'll have a double Chubby Chuck, a Mexicali Chili Barb, two orders of French fries and two cherry cokes."

    Course I'd need to be in a white 1958 Chevy Impala Sport Coupe, with a 327 Chevy, 6 Strombergs, Duntov cam, and a bitchen tuck and roll interior, sitting next to a bottle-blonde booze-luvin' girl named Debbie.

    Think a 10-year old black civic and my two daughters will suffice?

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    Anything you need

    Drove by a salvage / surplus yard just south of town and saw this the other day.

    I was needing one of these the other day and was so happy to find one.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    Graffiti Bridge

    Walk into any ACE Hardware, WalMart, Home Depot, or Sears, and you'll be able to grab (as in physically touch) a can of spray paint off the shelf, hand over a few bucks American, and drive home to spray to your hearts content.

    No cages, no glass partitions, no workers clad in orange smocks suspiciously eyeing you as a potential lacquer larcenist.

    No warning placard posted near the paint section about age limits. No signs citing the current fines/jail time imposed on convicted graffiti gangsters.

    I imagine young pickup truck drivers around here don't yet have an interest in declaring their territorial borders in their "hood," nor do they find it necessary to let others know they were standing in that particular spot at one point in their youthful lives.

    Although I did spot this example of local tagging on the railway overpass that is the eastern entrance into/out of my small town.

    Monday, June 06, 2005

    Teen Drivers = Menace: Part 2

    S was perusing our local paper this weekend and took notice of a listing in the ever popular police blotter.

    Last week, just a few blocks away from where S had her accident, a woman in her 40's with an SUV full of kids, was hit by a 17-year old kid in a pickup truck.

    What caught our attention was that the woman (she's named in the blotter entry) is the same one who stopped to render assistance to S and the girls when they had their run-in with a 16-year old pickup truck driver a few months ago.

    Immediately after the accident, she stopped, asked if they needed medical aid, and offered to let the girls hang out in her SUV for shelter and warmth (it was night and around 40 degrees at the time). Her kids kept the girls company while S took care of the accident carnage and police report.

    She even stopped by the next day to see how everyone was doing and offered her SUV to S if she needed to take the girls anywhere.

    Yes, people like this do exist, until some teenage-pickup-truck-driving-menace takes them out.

    Happily, the blotter entry states that the estimated damage to the SUV was $100 while the pickup truck sustained an estimated $2500 in damage.

    Geesh, that must have been one tough SUV.

    Saturday, June 04, 2005

    PiOK vs. PiLA

    Today was my first taste of production in Oklahoma in awhile.
    Actually, it was my first taste of production anywhere in awhile.

    The tv program that S works for was shorthanded a video cameraperson this weekend, so she asked if I could fill it. I confidently accepted.

    Now I'm guessing she regrets doing so as I've seem to have forgotten a few basics of talking head interview camera work...such as headroom, lighting, and mic levels among other things.

    The rest of the footage is decent, but the interview section will have to be saved in post. Good thing her show has competent editors.

    Anyhow, the entire day reminded me of how relatively painless / painful production of any kind can be.

    Painless in Oklahoma (PiOK) / Painful in Los Angeles (PiLA)

    PiOK - We parked our production van, in a loading zone, in downtown OKC for over an hour, fully loaded with our equipment, and not one homeless person urinated on our tires, not one cop cited us for illegally parking, and not one shady character peered into our windows.

    PiLA - None of this would happen in LA, since you'd need a permit to park your production van in a loading zone, and even with a permit, you'd be towed after 15 minutes.

    PiOK - We arrived at the location and were given preferential parking to facilitate ease in unloading our equipment.

    PiLA - Production vehicles are usually assigned parking spaces which are typically far enough away from the location that you need to take the production shuttle to and from the set.

    PiOK - Not once did someone ask us for our shooting permit, insurance vendor information, proof of insurace certificate and proof of $1,000,000 liability insurance coverage. Nor did anyone have their hand out to pay for the "inconvenience" of shutting off their lawn mower.

    PiLA - $20 is usually enough to make a neighbor shut off his lawn mower, but don't even bother asking a kid in a low rider to turn down his stereo. In addition to the harsh stare you'll get, you may have just painted a target on your back.

    I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    Roily Water

    The small headline in our local paper recently stated the following:
    The City will be testing and flushing out fire hydrants between June 6 and June 10.
    I had to look it up too.

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    They call me Ming

    The other day, after C's Circus performance and final day of school, S was talking to a fellow student's mother.

    The conversation eventually led to the class field trip last month to the Oklahoma City Zoo.
    "Your husband was really a trooper at the field trip. Anytime something would be going on, there was Ming right in the middle of it..."???

    Ming. Ming?

    When did I become a fellow named Ming? Ming doesn't even sound like my real name.

    Not even close.

    Okay, we share the same amount of letters.

    S and I had a good giggle pondering how that name somehow became associated with me, and if we allowed it to continue, how it would spread throughout our small town.

    So if anyone ever visits, and someone says "Hey Ming" while you're in my presence, just play along.

    Ming will live and thrive in my small town.

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    House Calls

    There are basically two doctors in town. An older one and a younger one.

    We tried both. Stuck with the old one. He's our age.

    Thanks to the spring bloom and the havoc it has created with the girls sinus' we've been to see the doc more often than we'd like.

    C got a spring fever with the high temps and symptoms that moved from her nose to her throat, to her chest. We ended up at the docs for some of the pink anti-B.

    A few days later, we get a knock at the side entrance and were surprised to see our Doctor behind the door curtains.

    "Just walking by and wanted to check on C to see how she was feeling."

    Turns out our family practice, HMO accepting, educated-at-a-big-university-and-moved-to-a-small-town doctor, lives two houses away, on the next block. He walks by our house on his daily walks.

    Almost 42-years old and this was my first ever house call.