Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A new year, a new look. Kind of.

You may have noticed that going to doesn't look the same as it used to. It looks a lot like the blog page did.

Long, long ago when I first put up a webpage at this domain I created everything using either Frontpage or good old notepad. Once I made or edited a page I'd then launch an ftp app or would upload it through a cmd prompt. Old school baby.

A few years ago I decided that it was a giant pain in the backside to do this when sites like blogger, wordpress, etc. made on the fly edits so much easier. I could just type and click publish! I could send updates from my phone!
For some reason though I didn't switch the index page to this website over to that then. I kept updating the $*@! thing manually. I'd actually publish a blog post then go and change the index page to reflect that there was a new blog available by clicking a link.


Anyway, the index page now goes directly here. The sidebar on the right has changed a little bit from the old blog page. I dropped a few things that I used to have on the index completely. In the coming days and weeks I'll probably change the design of this page but, in the interest of making this switch before 2009 began, I kept the old template since it was easier to hack up and and make the sidebar changes to.

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not much for New Year's resolutions. I'm not much for celebrating on December 31st in general. I find the thought that everything "starts fresh" just because the calendar turns a page to be pretty stupid actually. So while I'm not going to make a list of resolutions for the coming 12 months, I am going to do my best to keep this in mind every single day of the year. And the year after. And the year after that...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas is almost upon us

We're done shopping. Yay!
Making Christmas candy tonight. Yay again.
The MLB channel debuts on January 1st. Triple Yay. (That has nothing to do with Christmas, but it needed a yay).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Welcome to Chicago

I'm expecting Joey Gathright to be a late inning defensive replacement/pinch hitter/pinch runner. Those are all nice titles but I prefer "dude who can jump over a parked car".

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Emphasis helps

Bad news: You will go through hard times.
Good news: You will go through hard times.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My new favorite Thanksgiving memory

Thanksgiving Rick-roll baby!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Playing a game of 'Daddy pulls me in the cart by me hanging on to his scarf'.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A couple of random Holden pictures

Holden watching a choo choo with Grandpa. It's amazing how content he is sitting in Grandpa's lap just watching trains. He certainly doesn't have an attention span problem in this area!

Holden hit his head a couple of nights ago. Daddy showed him that a Curious George band-aid makes everything better!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The treatment of Bush and hoping I'm wrong

I've expressed more than my fair share of disappointment in the way President Bush has run things. Particularly because, in my opinion, he hasn't allowed our troops to fight this war to win and for nationalizing more than you'd ever think a free-market supporting president ever would dream of. That said, this article is correct. The partisan politics in this country is out of hand. I truly feel more people voted for Obama because they hate (not dislike - hate) George W. Bush than because they support (or can even name one of) Obama's policies.

Am I happy about the outcome of the election? Absolutely not. I feel we took a wrong turn as a country and have to keep reminding myself that it took four years of Jimmy Carter to get to Ronald Reagan. That said, am I going to let myself become one of the foaming at the mouth, rage filled people that I've watched so many acquaintances on the liberal side become over the last eight years? I'm going to try my best not to.

Congratulations President-elect Obama. Prove me wrong. Hell, Jim Edmonds did it this year and I was about as much against Dempster becoming a starter as you'd find. And, in both cases, it felt really good to be wrong. Let's go for that blissful feeling of being wrong here too.
The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace
What must our enemies be thinking?

Earlier this year, 12,000 people in San Francisco signed a petition in support of a proposition on a local ballot to rename an Oceanside sewage plant after George W. Bush. The proposition is only one example of the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president.

According to recent Gallup polls, the president's average approval rating is below 30% -- down from his 90% approval in the wake of 9/11. Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right.

This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."

Those bipartisan efforts have been met with crushing resistance from both political parties.

The president's original Supreme Court choice of Harriet Miers alarmed Republicans, while his final nomination of Samuel Alito angered Democrats. His solutions to reform the immigration system alienated traditional conservatives, while his refusal to retreat in Iraq has enraged liberals who have unrealistic expectations about the challenges we face there.

It seems that no matter what Mr. Bush does, he is blamed for everything. He remains despised by the left while continuously disappointing the right.

Yet it should seem obvious that many of our country's current problems either existed long before Mr. Bush ever came to office, or are beyond his control. Perhaps if Americans stopped being so divisive, and congressional leaders came together to work with the president on some of these problems, he would actually have had a fighting chance of solving them.

Like the president said in his 2004 victory speech, "We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America."

To be sure, Mr. Bush is not completely alone. His low approval ratings put him in the good company of former Democratic President Harry S. Truman, whose own approval rating sank to 22% shortly before he left office. Despite Mr. Truman's low numbers, a 2005 Wall Street Journal poll found that he was ranked the seventh most popular president in history.

Just as Americans have gained perspective on how challenging Truman's presidency was in the wake of World War II, our country will recognize the hardship President Bush faced these past eight years -- and how extraordinary it was that he accomplished what he did in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.

Mr. Shapiro is an investigative reporter and lawyer who previously interned with John F. Kerry's legal team during the presidential election in 2004.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted

Thoughts from voting this morning.

• No line to speak of at all. I spent more time reviewing my ballot than I did waiting for my turn to vote.
• The only real delay I experienced was because some moron ahead of me couldn't get his ballot in to the machine after he filled it out. The 142 year old woman working there asked the 187 year old woman behind the table what to do. They finally hit on the solution of READING THE ERROR MESSAGE and determined that the guy filled out too many circles. Two presidents? Eight soil commissioners? We shall never know.
• Some guy came in right after I did and said he wasn't sure if he was registered to vote. Excuse me? You're not sure if you're registered to vote? Go home.

So I've voted. Now I sit back to watch what happens. I don't have a good feeling about what seems to be on the horizon. I'll first say that I rarely, if ever, take a position blindly. I study the issue, or issues, then try to see both sides before coming to my conclusion. When I do take a position, I'm at peace with myself in the decision I've made. This year? Yikes. If I could have the John McCain who ran for president in 2000, I'd be a lot happier. That said, I don't understand the support Obama. He seems to have been immersed in Marxism for his entire life. A leftist mother, a Communist mentor in Frank Marshall Davis, Marxist professors and pastor. It's no wonder. But this is America. It looks clear that the Fairness Doctrine, Cap and trade, and class warfare are all part of the package with Senator Obama.

I don't want Holden to look at me and ask why my generation sold the freedoms of his grandparents and great-grandparents out. I fear an Obama presidency with a Democrat controlled House and Senate would quite likely do just that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Changing minds

I received this via e-mail last week.

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my somewhat unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient needed money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application. I say we try this in the next 10 days and we might be able to change a few minds...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tweets from the Sarah Palin rally

If you're not on Twitter, check it out.  It's pretty useful for a lot of things (woot offs anyone? Cubs beat writers posting the lineups as soon as Lou releases them.  Reporters following candidates, etc.) as well as just kind of fun to follow friends in their daily life as they update.  The following are my twitter updates from Leah and I attending the Sarah Palin rally in Des Moines earlier today.

An Obama supporter just called me a communist. Seriously? Can we define that word? about 8 hours ago from txt 

I might actually hate secret service more than the TSA. Which is saying quite a bit. about 7 hours ago from txt

 Listening to aaron tippin sing at the rally. about 7 hours ago from txt  

 Some dude at the rally near me keeps dropping ass. Not cool in close quarters dude. about 7 hours ago from txt 

Sen. Brownback just took the stage. about 7 hours ago from txt

 Chuck Grassley just took the stage. And the miserable dbag close to me is still making life unpleasant. about 6 hours ago from txt

 Governor Palin will be on stage in a minute. about 6 hours ago from txt

 Some poor kid just walked through the crowd at belt level just as my least favorite person dropped another one. about 6 hours ago from txt

 Sarah takes the stage. about 6 hours ago from txt

The protestors leave before the rally is over? Weak.about 5 hours ago from txt

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ronald Reagan Quote

“Freedom is something that cannot be passed on in the blood stream, or genetically. And it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. Every generation has to learn how to protect and defend it, or it’s gone and gone for a long, long time. Already, many of us, particularly those in business and industry, there are too many who have switched rather than fight. And it’s time that particularly, some of our corporations learned, that when you get in bed with government, you’re going to get more than a good night’s sleep.” - Ronald Reagan


I wanted eleven wins in the post season.  Thanks to a choke for the ages, I didn't even see one.  Perhaps as the days pass I'll be able to put this in to perspective a little bit more but for now I'm trying to wrap my head around how the team that played six months of outstanding baseball - by far the best ball I've ever seen a Cubs team play - could absolutely SUCK this badly when the calendar hits October.  Even during the six game slide in late Aug/early September they didn't look like this.  This was awful.  No pitching, no hitting, no defense.  Completely inexcusable.
I typically rotate the quote from Rogers Hornsby about looking out the window waiting for spring during the offseason with one from Bart Giamatti's book "The Green Fields of the Mind" between October and March on the index page of this website.  Although what I'm really thinking and feeling is nowhere near this eloquent (or proper for mixed company), I'll put the Giamatti quote here.  It's one of my favorite quotes of all time but hits even closer to home than normal right now.
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Playoff time

Game 1 of the NLDS begins in 7 hours. Eleven wins are needed. Frankly, eleven wins may be all that keeps me sane at this point. I need this to keep myself distracted from watching the United States turn in to a country I never thought it would. I need to keep myself distracted from looking at my 401k statement. I really need to keep myself distracted from Obama supporters who don't know their collective ass from a hole in the ground. I've tried - honestly, I've made a real effort - to get a few of them to tell me why they support him. Good God, has anyone really taken a close look at this guy's policies and history? All I get for a response to why he's getting support is one or more of the following:
  • Campaign slogans parroted back at me. (Yeah. I get it. Hope and Change. They sound great as long as you don't ask for a definition of them)
  • Anti-Bush venom. (Bush screwed the pooch on a lot of things. I agree. You don't like him. I get that. He's done in January. Focus.)
  • Anti-Republican venom. (Yeah, the minority party in the House and Senate is completely responsible for the mess this country is in.)
  • Letting YouTube do their talking. (If you want to sway me to your position, can you do a little better than sending me something "funny" that some jackass on TV said?)
  • And my favorite because I've gotten this from three different people over the last couple of weeks - "evidence" of Obama being right about things has been presented by sending me a link to an Obama website.
That last one is fantastic. Based on this, I can throw up a text file on my webpage that says "Lowell is a ninja" and direct people to it as the only facts needed to back my claim that I'm a ninja. The Obama site that the Barak disciples seem to like to point me towards most often ( actually has a section where you can copy and paste a full e-mail to send to your unenlightened friends to give them the "truth". I think it's great that the Obama camp is thoughtful enough to help their supporters not have to put any original thought in to things. Research is hard. Writing things on your own is even harder. I <3 sheep.

So, like I was saying, I need eleven wins to keep my mind of things. It's been an amazing season. It would go from amazing to unforgetable with these eleven wins. Make it happen Lou and 25 suiting up tonight.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Happy birthday Holden

I can't believe it's been two years from the first picture to the last picture. (Okay 1 year, 51 weeks to the last picture but it's pretty close). For a guy who had come to accept that he'd never have a son to hearing such a wonderful little boy yell "Daddy!" every time he sees me is simply a miracle. I couldn't ask for a better son and feel blessed that you're in my life Holden Ryne. I know that my best intentions aside, we'll have some ups and downs and bumps over the years of you growing up but my goal will never change. I promise I'll do my best to be a good father. I'm hoping I do my job well enough that when you've grown and gone out on your own I won't be just your Dad but someone you'll want to call a friend as well. I love you little guy. Happy birthday.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pictures from a Day Out With Thomas

Pictures from visiting Thomas the Train can be found in the gallery. There are a couple more to be added when I get around to scanning them.

More crying tree hippies

This is fantastic. Go here first if you haven't already watched the original.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Surprised on the train ride

The official "surprise face".

Another cake picture

Since the cake is screwed I figured I might as well make it Thomas with a pacifier. Two of Holden's favorite things!

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Having a dog is great

What happens when a yellow lab gains access to the room where a Thomas the Train cake is cooling.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Snack time to celebrate talk like a pirate day.

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I hate you people

Every. Single. One of you.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No No!

Everyone bow to Big Z! The magic of 2008 continues.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Who among us hasn't told a paraplegic to stand and be recognized?

Our boy Joe Biden gave a speech and told Democrat Chuck Graham to stand up and be recognized. Chuck Graham is a paraplegic. Fantastic work Senator.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We cannot forget

Given the chance, this could happen again. Never forget.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Lesson In Friendship

From the September issue of Bits and Pieces.
Here is a story from a reader that illustrates
what can happen when we take a friendship for

WHEN I WAS SIX, my older brother and I were
followed home by a stray dog who’d been hang-
ing around a livery stable. I took some meat
from the house and fed it to him. And from that
moment on, I had a new best friend. I called
him Butch.

Butch accompanied me every morning on
my paper route. He even helped me with the
contest I entered to sign up new subscribers.
While I spun a tale of how I hoped to sell extra
papers to earn the money to buy my dog a li-
cense, Butch would sit nearby looking sad. It
worked like a charm.

That winter, a friend gave me an old dog
harness that I used to hook up Butch to the
sleigh. By now, he knew the paper route by heart.
Butch pulled me around the neighborhood as
I threw the papers from the sleigh. We were

But things changed after I went to high
school. When I discovered girls, I spent less
time with Butch. And he didn’t like that.

Once, we visited my friend George whose
dad was a blacksmith and worked out of a barn
on their property. I don’t know if it was the
horses or the hay that evoked memories of the
stables, but Butch immediately took a liking to
the place.

George made a big fuss over Butch. He fed him
and played with him. And when it was time to
go home, Butch didn’t want to leave.
There were times after that when Butch
would go off and not return for days. I soon
learned that Butch was hanging out at George’s
place, and sleeping over.

One day, I was coming out of my dad’s cof-
fee shop with Butch. George walked by and
called out to him. Was George trying to steal
my dog? I called out to Butch, too. For a few
moments, Butch just sat there looking between
us. Then he got up and went to George. I was

That day I learned that the best way to keep
a friend is to be a friend.

Contributed by reader David M. Vassos
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Maybe McDonald's isn't so bad

Why must commercials from other countries be so much better than ours?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Not to disagree with you but...

my peep > your brain.

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You're absolutely correct Lou

Lou Piniella when asked if the 2008 Cubs are a "team of destiny":
I don't believe in destiny. I believe in good pitching and good defense and timely hitting. That's destiny. You do enough of that, you create your own destiny.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why Holden's going to learn to throw a punch

A bite mark in the center of his back. I guess the biter is just a little bit older than he is. Still too young to explain the concept of "have some balls and attack when the other person is looking at you" I suppose. We may have to take some time that's allocated to watching Thomas the Train to learning self-defense.

I can handle you being a socialist but this is over the line

From an interview with ESPN via the Chicago Sun Times:
We all knew Barack Obama is a Sox fan, but he took it a bit further in an ESPN interview.

Obama joked about the stereotype of Cubs fans, who probably are tired of being described as partying people-watchers instead of serious fans.

"You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there,'' Obama said, according to ESPN transcripts. "People aren't watching the game. It's not serious. White Sox, that's baseball."

Fantastic. The lord and savior of humankind is busting on the Cubs. Let's go with a little more time coaching your wife on the intricacies of not saying incredibly stupid things to the press and maybe defining a little of that "hope and change" and a little less time talking sports. I'd hate to have to change my screensaver from "Bitter white person clinging to God and my guns" to "Bitter white person clinging to God, my guns and the Chicago Cubs".

side note: yes, I realize he was being at least mostly facetious. I'm at least 4% facetious in my response as well.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Giving flowers to the living and zooming out

These were both in my inbox when I arrived at work this morning. The first is one of those little things that many people (including me) just don't stop to think about all that often.
Working with my Aunt Helen in her flower shop during my teenage years, I learned many Christian lessons. One of the most powerful was in her succinct sermon, "Give your flowers to the living."
She went on to explain, "I have spent much of my life arranging beautiful flowers to help people show their love after someone has died. Imagine how much those flowers would have meant to the person while he or she was alive."
As I've grown older, I appreciate the Christ-like message of my aunt's words. Yes, in love, Jesus gave his life for our eternal future after we die; but Jesus also demonstrated God's love continually to the living while on earth. He walked and talked with those around him; he healed, cried, and rejoiced. Jesus gave the gift of love to all those he met as he walked the earth, as well as to all humankind through his death and resurrection.

"Give your flowers to the living". Such a simple sentence that leads to such deep thought.
The second thing in my inbox...

My dad brings his camera along wherever he goes. For him, even a walk around the neighborhood can turn into an opportunity for a photo shoot. As years have gone by and our family has welcomed in-laws, children, and grandchildren, Dad has zoomed out his camera lens more and more so that we all fit in the picture.
Watching Dad has taught me something important. To help us maintain perspective on our circumstances, my wife and I apply the concept of zooming out. When money is tight, a loved one is ill, or a conflict arises, we take a few minutes to shift from our limited viewpoint to God's more long-term outlook. This is a practical way to increase joy and to decrease fear.
Focusing on close-up shots of any problem can be overwhelming. God does not want us to live in fear. Rather, God wants us to experience the abundant life possible for us. When we feel consumed by a situation, we can "zoom out."

"Zoom out". Another very simple phrase, but one that I really have to learn to do. I think I'm way closer to the "Give your flowers to the living" concept than I am the "Zoom out" one. I suspect I'd have a lot fewer sleepless nights and unexplained stomach pains if I can start to live the zoom out philosophy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A sign of the end of times?

I'm seriously looking forward to the release of a Kirk Cameron movie? The kid from Growing Pains who has grown up to be seriously nutty in a lot of ways? Wow. This has to be a sign of the Apocalypse. I really am excited about seeing this movie though.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

Some will read these lyrics and immediately think "The Animals". Others will think "Nina Simone". Maybe Joe Cocker, or even Santa Esmeralda. I could even (grudgingly) accept Cyndi Lauper because, God help me, her cover was pretty good.
To me though, this song is Elvis Costello. Whatever the case it's a damn good song and has, quite fittingly, been on a loop in my brain for the last few days.

Baby, do you understand me now
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But don't you know that no one alive
Can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be bad

But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

Baby, sometimes I'm so carefree
With a joy that's hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that all I have do is worry
Then you're bound to see my other side

But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

If I seem edgy I want you to know
That I never mean to take it out on you
Life has it's problems and I get my share
But that's one thing I never meant to do
Because I love you

Oh don't you know I'm human
Have thoughts like any other one
Sometimes I lie awake long regretting
Some foolish thing some little simple thing I've done

But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
Yes, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

Now playing: Eva Cassidy - Over the Rainbow
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, August 17, 2008

One more train picture

It would have been fantastic if I'd managed to not leave my camera sitting in my office over the weekend. Fortunately these cell phone pictures came out pretty well.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Train ride

Seeing how much steam engine soot he can swallow. :)

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A caboose

Holden checking out a toddler size caboose after our train ride.

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Holden's first train ride

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

What a series!

I have truly enjoyed the last four days of baseball.  Nothing wrong with a good old fashioned on the road sweep!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cubs stuff

Injured Cubs fan throws out first pitch.
Dominic DiAngi will probably never forget his eighth birthday Saturday.

The Frankfort, Ill., boy, who was hit on the head by a foul ball at the Cubs' July 10 game, got to meet several big leagues players and threw out a ceremonial first pitch to Ted Lilly on Saturday. DiAngi was struck by a ball off Lilly's bat, and hospitalized.

"It's going to be awesome to see him, and I think the guys will be excited to see him," Lilly said. "This will be a good experience for him. I'm glad he's willing to come back after the experience he had."

Lilly and teammate Derrek Lee had visited Dominic in the hospital after the incident.

"[Lilly] was visibly shaken," said Pete DiAngi, the boy's father. "I believe he brought Derrek for moral support."

Dominic has made great progress, and was not experiencing headaches, his parents said. He didn't know he was going to a Cubs game Saturday, but thought he was headed downtown for a birthday lunch. He arrived at Wrigley wearing his Aramis Ramirez jersey and Cubs cap.

He got to sit in the dugout, and talk to several of the Cubs, including Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Theriot, and Alfonso Soriano.

His parents seemed more excited than Dominic about the experience.

"I can't stop touching the grass," Pete DiAngi said, as he stroked the Wrigley Field turf.

That's simply a fantastic story. You can't help but smile that the kid is okay, still a baseball fan and got to meet a couple of real class acts in Ted Lilly and D-Lee.

In other Cubs news that makes me really happy - Leah finally took my advice and paid close attention to trying to lip read when Lou Piniella makes an appearance on the field. I was hoping she'd watch him when he was chewing a pitcher's ass out on the mound but she hit the jackpot. She got to see him go off on an umpire and get run from the game today. She did a fine job of figuring out what he said about the replacement ump Drake (thanks TiVo for helping with the replays!) and is now looking forward to the next episode of this little game I've been playing since he came on board as the Cubs skipper. Atta girl Leah!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Milking a cow

Holden at the county fair.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'll miss you Peaches

My dog Peaches died this afternoon. I've had her since early 1995. She was at least two when she became part of my family and had been abused by whatever miserable excuse for a human had her before me. I remember her being afraid to walk from one room to the other when she first came to live with me. I was very proud of spoiling that fear right out of her in short order.
She was with me through more than I could list right now. Definitely way more than I'd like to go back and think about in fact.

Life's stressful right now. Other than a few months in 2005, it's about as stressful as I hope I ever have to deal with. Not that there's ever a good time, but losing one of the best friends and listeners a guy could ever ask for right now is a pretty big blow.

I hope you're at peace Peaches. In fact, I hope you're with your friend Akita right now somewhere playing like you guys used to. When it seemed like no one else was there, or even cared, you were always right there beside me. Thank you. I'm going to miss you.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

July 4th weekend

We had a nice extended weekend thanks to the July 4th holiday. On Thurday we went to the state capitol to listen to the Des Moines Symphony's Yankee Doodle Pops concert. I was particularly surprised and pleased to see that Craig Schulman and Simon Estes were both performing with the symphony. It was fantastic to hear two world class voices in such a beautiful setting with the family. The girls, as expected, enjoyed the music but came away most impressed by the fireworks. I took all three kids down to within a quarter block of the canons that go off during the 1812 Overture. I sort of expected Holden to at least jump the first time they went off however he found the loud noise to be hilarious. Seriously - the kid did nothing but point and laugh.

Friday was a nice relaxing day at home complete with the traditional Fourth of July grilling and making of homemade ice cream. That evening we headed to the Herman Park Pavilion where I played in the Boone Municipal Band's annual patriotic concert. I've been in the group for 18 years now but still find the playing of taps and the armed forces salute moving every time we have this concert.

After the concert at the Pavilion, my mother joined us for the city's fireworks display. The kids all had fun with sparklers and other fireworks that their father just happened to have. The kids are old enough for me to explain that some laws were just made to be broken, right? :)

On Saturday, after much thought and discussion, we had Holden spend the day with my parents while we took the girls to Adventureland. Both of the girls (particularly Gillian, although I'd never call her out as a wuss publicly. Oops.) had their moments of "I don't want to ride that, it's scary!" however, each and every time they'd utter those words, we'd try to convince them - not push them - but convince them to give the ride in question a shot. Each and every time they got off the ride wanting to do it again immediately.

One of the new features at Adventureland this year is called "Kokomo Kove". The description and a video follow:
  • Approximately 65 feet tall at its highest point
  • The “Kokomo Kove” area will be approximately 30,000 square feet
  • Over 200 lounge chairs for sunning and relaxing
  • 7 waterslides of varying lengths and heights
  • 123 different water jet features including water guns, tipping cones, hose jets, and umbrella jets
  • 91 different play features, including net bridges and climbs, crawl tunnels and pull ropes

  • This is "The Outlaw" (video from YouTube - not something I took). It's also know as "one of the bumpiest damn things I've ever been on in my life". Leah and I rode this together. One of the turns did a sweet job of popping something in the bad spot I have in my neck and I spent the next 20 minutes with a tingling arm and hand. Good times.

    We ended up spending about 10 hours at the park and, other than the 60 minutes we spent in line to ride the Raging River, didn't have any horrible waits for rides. The weather was beautiful all day long. Leah commented several times how impressed she was with the park. I hadn't be there since I was in high school and was pleased with it as well. It's nice to have something like this so close to us to take the kids to. It certainly won't be an "every other weekend" type thing thanks to the admission costs but it was very enjoyable and everyone is looking forward to going back. It was a good decision to take just the girls because either Leah or I would have had to sat out of probably 70% of the things we did if Holden had accompanied us however I can't wait to take my son there. He's not big enough to do most of the things there but I know he'd have a blast on the things geared towards little kids. And so will his Daddy.

    One final Adventureland note - we usually don't fall for the "buy a really expensive picture that we just took of you" scam at places like this however I had to purchase this one. The look of terror on Gillian's face is something that needs to be remembered.
    Vacation Bible School at our church starts tonight so it looks to be a busy week ahead of us. No time to relax and catch up from the fun of the past weekend. But, all in all, I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Wednesday, July 2, 2008

    New pictures

    New pictures posted!
    Sub-albums in fact. There is now one with softball pictures, one with Relay for Life pictures and some random ones in the root Spring Summer 2008 album.

    Leah and I both want to thank everyone for their support and donations towards our Relay for Life fundraising goal. After a mid-afternoon rainstorm and threats of bad weather during the evening, we ended up having beautiful weather during the time we were supposed to walk and were very pleased to be party of this very worthy cause. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't do more "fun stuff" with our team, have a tent set up, etc. but still feel good about the experience. It was great to have my mother and friend Chris' mother, Charlotte, be able to walk a few laps together again this year as well.

    The kids doing a lap during the first hour of the relay:

    In other miscellaneous household news...

    Chris and I helped the United Methodist Men serve breakfast for the WHO Radio Great Iowa Tractor Ride last week. Chris has some pictures and brief recap here. It was a great opportunity to help the church raise some money however it will probably always stick in my mind as the day the name "Meth Men" was born.

    Softball is now over for the season. It was a very enjoyable couple of months working with all of the girls. I was amazed, pleased and very proud at how much better the whole team got from the first day of practice to the last game. Ally and Gillian both started out the season afraid of the ball but ended up by wanting to know if we can go to the batting cages every time I turn around. Jesse and I are planning to coach together again next summer. I don't know that we'll be lucky enough to assemble such a great group of girls (and parents!) as we had this year but I'm already looking forward to finding out.

    In other little league happenings - I was elected to another tem on the Boone National Little League board of directors this past weekened. It appears that my oratory and campaigning skills remain legendary.

    Vacation Bible School at our church begins next week. I will decline to make any predictions on how it will go and will reserve any further comment on it until after it has taken place. Stay tuned.

    The family is off to a municipal band concert this evening, going to Des Moines to Yankee Doodle Pops and the accompanying fireworks tomorrow (side note: watching Leah's reaction to the canons in the 1812 Overture at last year's July 4th concert when she wasn't expecting them was one of the highlihgts of the year 2007 for me) then sticking around Boone for the Municipal Band's patriotic July 4th concert and fireworks on Friday. Saturday and Sunday seem too far in the future to speculate right now but I'm pretty sure the phrase "trip to the pool" will be heard at least once.

    We hope everyone has a safe and happy Independence Day!

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Fantastic catch

    If I weren't married, this is the kind of thing would make me attracted to someone.

    Ball Girl Makes Incredible Catch - Watch more free videos

    Friday, June 20, 2008

    A round of applause for Bob Brenly

    You've probably heard the stupid whining that Hank Steinbrenner has been doing about the National League playing real baseball (which means with no DH) because one of his pitchers went on the DL after getting hurt running the bases. I don't think you can find a better, or more accurate response, than that from Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly.
    "How about conditioning your players enough so they can run around the bases without falling apart?"

    That's simply fantastic.

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    A second generation

    Years ago my friends Jesse and Chris would stay at my house or I'd stay at one of their houses almost every weekend. Fast forward a few decades to the present and you'll find Jesse's two youngest girls spending the night here at my place with my two girls. It's safe to say that this isn't something that ever crossed our minds when we were younger and spending hours trading baseball cards, playing video games and watching movies during sleep-overs, but I think it's fantastic. Very cool indeed.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Holden leaving Jamie and Julie's

    I absolutely love this picture.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Little league pictures

    Photographs from last Saturday's little league game, courtesy of the man behind Photography 139, Chris Bennett, can be found in the Spring/Summer 2008 gallery.

    Jesse and Lowell

    Friday, June 6, 2008

    Every Man

    A fan made video that I'm fond of to the Casting Crowns' song "Every Man".

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    Holden's Baptism

    Holden was baptized on May 25th. I can't put in to words how pleased I am that Jamie and Julie Frye agreed to be his godparents. Holden wasn't remarkably excited about having water put on his head during the service but didn't completely go off the reservation as I've heard other kids have done.

    A couple of other pictures from the baptism can be found in the gallery..

    An update on the softball season and dance recital coming soon...

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Holden grocery shopping

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    Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    Holden and his bulldozer

    Ask and you will receive

    From today's "Upper Room"
    Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.
    -Matthew 7:7

    WHEN my children were infants and I rocked them to sleep, I sang to them and prayed for them. I remember holding my 14-month-old son and praying for his future relationships with his roommates, his friends, his wife. For years, I came back to the same prayer. I know I must have wearied the Lord with my prayers; but Matthew 7:7 tells us to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking.
    When my son went off to college, I couldn't wait to hear about his roommate. "Well, Mom, he is a recovering drug addict. He was sent here for a year of rehabilitation and is studying art, taking part in sports, and trying to reenter normal life."
    I felt as if God had let me down, and my disappointment came through. "I don't understand. I have prayed for 18 years for you to have a good roommate who would have a good influence in your life."
    My son, wiser than I, answered, "Maybe his mother was praying the same prayer." My son knew that he had been nurtured all his life and now had a chance to nurture a young man with serious problems.
    God answers our prayers from wisdom greater than ours. I thought that my son needed a strong Christian friend; God knew that my son needed to be a strong Christian friend.

    Enough rain

    Seriously. Enough rain. Stop. Go away. I need to be able to do the repair work in the basement that will keep water from creeping in but in order to do that I need it to be totally dry first.
    This is driving me nuts.

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    New pictures

    A spring/summer 2008 album has been started in the photo gallery.

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Catching up on family news

    It's been a busy time with the family lately. The biggest news, as far as I'm concerned, has to do with Holden.

    On April 5th we took the kids to the park. To make a long story short, he broke his leg. In two places no less.
    How does an 18 month old break his leg? He twists it underneath him while going down a slide.
    It took twelve days, one ER visit, two pediatrician visits, two different sets of X-Rays and one MRI to determine that it's broken. He's in one of those nifty walking casts that's held on by a billion pieces of velcro until the 12th of May. He's also really good at taking it off when he's seen enough of it. Fortunately, it's become easier to put back on as we get the hang of it. It was taking me about ten minutes to do what he could un-do in about 20 seconds for the first day or two.
    I am pleased to report though that he doesn't seem to be in tremendous pain now. Finally. He was living on Tylenol and Motrin for the first couple of weeks. As soon as it would wear off, he'd scream and cry. The poor little guy (your choice if I'm talking about him or me) didn't sleep through the night for about 15 days after the accident happened.

    Little league has begun! Ally and Gillian are in the T-Shirt league on the Cloverettes team. The weather hasn't cooperated with us at all this season so far (c'mon - snowing on the day we were to have our first scrimage!?) but they've had a lot of fun when we've been able to practice and have games. I'm coaching them this year with Jesse. It's been very nice to get back out on the ball field with someone I've been friends with since before I was in Jr High school and for our girls to get to know each other. I'm really happy they've gotten so excited about playing. I've seen some drastic improvements already and have been pleasantly surprised that the one thing they want to do every night when I get home from work is to go outside and practice.

    In other news, we officially joined the First United Methodist Church on the 13th of April. We've been attending since the first of this year. I did a pretty long and thorough search before feeling comfortable with where we've landed and couldn't be happier with the way things have worked out. The girls truly enjoy it and love going to their Sunday School class each week. I've become a member of the Men's group and will be helping out with my first official project later in May when the UMM serves dinner for the Mother-Daughter banquet.

    My friend Chris referred to himself as "Johnny Joiner" recently. I'm stealing that label for myself after the last few months. As I noted, the family and I joined the FUMC, I joined the United Methodist Men, and began coaching Little League softball. As of last Saturday, I'm also a member of the Boone National Little League Board of Directors. I'm ready to jump in and help with the daily operations of this great organization. Check back after my first full week of board duty to see if I've changed my mind. :)

    Miscellaneous pictures coming soon.

    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    Parents of the Year

    Parents Fight Over Which Gang Toddler Should Join

    A couple fighting about which gang their 4-year-old toddler should join caused a public disturbance that resulted in the father's arrest, Commerce City police said Thursday.On Saturday, Joseph Manzanares stormed into the Hollywood Video store where his girlfriend worked, threatened to kill her and knocked over several video displays and even a computer, Commerce City police Sgt. Joe Sandoval said.After he ran out of the store, police were called and the 19-year-old was arrested at his home.

    His girlfriend told police that they had been arguing about the upbringing of their son and which gang he should belong to. The teen mother, who is black, is a member of the Crips. Manzanares is Hispanic and belongs to the Westside Ballers gang, the woman said."They have different ideas on how the baby should be raised. Basically, she said they cannot agree on which gang the baby would 'claim,'" Sandoval said.

    Manzanares was charged with disorderly conduct, harassment, and domestic violence. He was transported to the Adams County Detention Facility.On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to a year of probation. The misdemeanor harassment charge was dropped.

    Monday, March 24, 2008

    Relay For Life

    As you may know, Leah and I both have relatives who have battled cancer. In some cases, they've won the battle. In other cases, they've come up short. We've both been touched by the disease however.

    For the past two years we've dropped by the Relay For Life event held in Boone to see the opening ceremonies and to take the "family lap" with my mother. Last year as we were leaving we started talking about joining a team to fully participate in the 2008 event. We thought that perhaps we could get something going at one of our places of employment. As the months went by, we made some changes that lead to us being invited to join a team with our new church.

    So here we are - 2/15ths of the Methodist Team A. Not the most clever team name in the world, I'll give you that, but it works. There's a logo for the Relay For Life over on the right sidebar of this page. If you're inclined to support this very worthy cause, and to help us reach our fundraising goal, I invite you to click on this logo to be taken to our donation page.

    Thanks for your support!

    Sunday, March 23, 2008

    Sometimes people are funniest when they don't mean to be

    My wife and I were talking about Beatles songs earlier this weekend. I'm not sure why although, sadly, it was probably because of American Idol.
    Anyway, I mentioned the song "Yesterday". Leah said "That was played at my parents' wedding".

    I almost hurt myself laughing.

    You do know the lyrics, right? It starts:
    All my troubles seemed so far away,
    Now it looks as though they're here to stay,
    Oh, I believe in yesterday.

    I'm not half the man I used to be,
    There's a shadow hanging over me,
    Oh, yesterday came suddenly

    Once I caught my breath and told her what the lyrics were she puzzled it over for a few seconds before deciding that perhaps that wasn't the song after all. (Side note - she's thinking of the song "If" by Bread. I read it in the newspaper clippings from their wedding that I saw while we were in Mississippi earlier this month).

    Even now I don't think she's given much thought to why I find this so funny.

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    Friday, March 21, 2008

    Easter Bunny picture

    Holden wants nothing to do with the Easter Bunny - hates him in fact - so he's missing from this picture.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    I could be cranky this summer

    According to my weather widget, it's 54 degrees outside right now.
    Explain to me then why the thermometer on the bulletin board in my office looks like this:

    Something's got to get fixed before it gets too warm outside. I don't want to start looking for a job in a Honduran sweat shop just to get cooler working conditions.

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Poor Holden is cutting four

    Poor Holden is cutting four molars right now. That has to hurt!

    New blog time

    Yeah, so this probably doesn't look much different to you. If it doesn't, it's simply because I have a good memory in how to put things back together. You see, I was a bit irritated with...well...everything a little earlier and decided that the "Delete Blog" button would be a nice thing to press in a way to symbolize how I was feeling.

    It works as advertised.

    While watching the individual files fly off the directory it occurred to me that I kind of liked the template itself. I sort of wished I'd written somethings about it down.

    Eh, it's cleansing. A rebirth of the blog. All old posts are gone and it's a clean slate (although the first post about a good quote technically appeared on the last blog, it was only there from late last night on so I'm not going to count it).

    A good quote

    I'm not positive what the exact quote is but I was listening to an interview on the radio this morning on my way to work. Jan Mickelson had Stephen Covey on his show talking to him about his new book that was released today. The quote was something along the lines of:
    You can't talk your way out of something you behaved your way in to.

    I think that's fantastic. Covey went on to talk about how you must behave your way out of things you've behaved your way in to and elaborated on how words alone won't cut it.
    This is fitting in so many ways right now. From politics (I'm looking at you Sen. Obama) to occurrences in my daily life it is just a perfect thought to meditate on.