May 30, 2003

Shit - Estes gives up a double and the Astros jump out 4 - 0. This doesn't look good.
Cubs pitcher Shawn Estes has loaded the bases with one out in the top of the 4th. Is the June Swoon beginning in May?

Houston 1
Cubs 0
How about an update:

Both kids threw-up at dinner last night. That's right. They both vomited at the table.

I love parenthood.

Even though they both have been sick, neither up-chuck incident can be linked to any illness. Ian, it's my belief, ate a pear way too fast. I think he snarfed the thing down in 3 minutes instead of his usual 5. The result: 3 healthy heaves of partially digested pears on the table and floor. Ian's response: "What happened?" Heather and I couldn't answer immediately, because neither of us knew the answer.

So we get him cleaned up and sit him down with a cracker and instructions. Eat Slowly I noticed that Emma has been taking it all in, safely perched upon her highchair, like it was part of the evening entertainment. Daintily munching a Ritz cracker and sippy water, she contently took in the dinner theater - like atmosphere that we had created for her.

No sooner do I sit down to return to my meal of cheesy-broccoli and chicken (which, mind you, is fairly difficult after watching your son tossing his cookies onto the kitchen table), then Emma take too big a bit of her cracker. Part of it becomes stuck on the bag of her tongue, causing her to gag. I try to reach in with my finger to remove the offending salty baked snack, but my efforts were in vain. He gags turn to full vomits, as bursts after bursts of masticated crackers, water, and bile spew forth in her body's attempt of dislodging the stuck Ritz.

Luckily, (and I use the term loosely) I am able to hold her head forward so that the vomit ends up on the highchair tray - making for easier cleanup. Of course Emma is scared and crying after the incident - just as much from vomiting as from having her head held forward by her father while her mother jumps across the table in panic.

Needless to say, that was the end of dinner for Heather. After watching two displays of our children's vomiting techniques, she decided cheesy chicken just wasn't in the cards. She got out a big bowl of cereal.

Both Ian and Emma are fine - showing no ill effects from their dinnertime high-jinks.
I've always considered all the government conspiracy stories just that - stories. They were fun to play with, but I really didn't think that there were any secret governments that actually ran the show, or events were staged for political or public control reasons. However, something small like this Jessica Lynch thing is starting to make me question if my quick dismissal of the government conspiracy fringe element as pure fantasy.

Did she fight back or didn't she? Was she in a hospital full of Iraqi soliders, or was she? Did the special forces units use blanks or live ammunition? Was Jessica shot or not? Does she have amnesia or doesn't she? Did the government tell the Lynch family not to talk to the press or is someone making that up?

its all crazy. If Clinton dishonored the Office of the President with his antics, W and his administration is effectively discrediting the Office of the President and U.S. Government as a reliable source of factual information with what is starting to look like 12 months of intense propaganda. Why should I believe anything a public official tells me from this point forward?
Who doesn't love a good militaristic radish dance

May 29, 2003

Title Bout

Its a weekly column at Movie Poop Shoot that's suppose to preview some of the comics coming out that week - it rarely stays on topic. This week's edition is particularly funny. A.K. (the author) goes all over the place: Hardee's commercials, Hulk smegma, MTV documentaries, and the American Family Association's recent attacks on comic book conventions. Its hysterical.

Here's part of his rant against the AFA that made me laugh out loud:

Here's a quote from probable-closet-case Randy Sharp, "director of special projects"(isn't it scary that they have special projects- it sounds like they arrange military coups in South American countries): ""It is ironic that Make-A-Wish fulfills the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses, but uses money from an industry that devalues women and shatters families."

Is that really irony? See, I don't think that's irony as I understand the meaning of the word irony. And comic books shatter families? Man, I want to meet the pimply nerd family that was shattered by a comic book? "Dad kept yelling Hulk Smash when he beat my mother. And he'd get into these drunken digressions about Hulk Smegma with my little sister -- totally inappropriate." Man, growing up with an abusive father is one thing, but when the abusive father is a nerd, what's more -- god, that must be the fucking worst... Some guy in Spock ears and a Captain America t-shirt beating the shit out of your mom -- that's where serial killers come from, I bet.


COMIC BOOK SUPERHEROES UNMASKED debuts on The History Channel on Monday, June 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET

Send the kids to bed early and fire up the ole betamax, its going be wild good time on the History Channel!

According to the press release, "The program was designed to bring visual depth, energy and movement to classic comic book images while still preserving the integrity of the artwork." Looks like they'll be showing interviews with some great comic creators (or at least some of my favorites) like, Will Eisner, Denny O?Neil, Michael Chabon, Kevin Smith, Frank Miller, and Neil Gaiman. I'm really looking forward to this program.
Washington shelved report of 44-trillion-dollar deficit

Apparently former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, who was fired by W back in December, oversaw a report that indicates the US Government will be working under a $44 trillion deficit in the near future. Not only does the report claim sharp tax increases and massive spending cuts will be necessary, but that the government's future deficit problem can/will be attributed mainly to being overwhelmed by the 'baby boom' generation's future healthcare and retirement costs.

So, not only will I not see a penny of the money I've been pissing into Social Security all this time, now it looks like my Dad won't see a penny of my money either.

HOLY CRAP - Social Security pisses me off. I think its time to say, "Thank you Greatest Generation. You destroyed the Nazis, you rebuilt Japan, you sent us to the Moon. We've paid you back, but now its time for the store to close." Then shut down Social Security and let me control my own fucking financial future!

Social Security makes me so mad.
Educational Structures: circa 1997

Thanks to Ed Stenger, a most righteous individual, I was reminded that I could take a look at old versions of the website I used to work on back in Cleveland, OH. I've talked about this company before. A bunch of guys straight out of college, working on an educational-curriculum website. Frat house atmosphere with plenty of beer, cards, sports talk, and network Doom play. Oh yeah, those were the days.

Anyway.

In 1997, I was essentially all they had in way of a graphic designer. (Sad, I know) For some promotion or something (I can't remember now), I created this character called Globey. Our corporate logo incorporated a globe, so this little cartoon character was the natural progression. Everyone in the company (all 10 of us) loved it and he quickly became our mascot. It was suggested that he be used on the public and product website. We had globey everywhere for about a year until we decided to go with a more professional, grow-up design on our site.

Globey's run was short, but it was memorable. It great to still see him living on the web somewhere.
Happy Birthday, Bob Hope. Love his movies from the 40's and 50's, especially the "Road to" flicks with Bing Crosby
Dum, Dum-Dum, Dum

More and more people are getting uneasy with the fact that no evidence of weapons of mass destruction or ties between Saddam and al-Qaeda are turning up in occupied Iraq. No shit, Sherlock.

This story also lets us know that last year Rumsfeld created a special office to go over gathered intel from the CIA to try and find proof of Iraqi wrong-doings - anything to help the case against Iraq. Apparently he was displeased with the work the CIA was doing. Rumey didn't think the CIA was finding enough strong evidence, so he had his Office of Special Plans find this evidence for him.

We're getting folks from within our government and the intelligence community to admited - though cautiously - that was passed off as intel to the UN and the American people was really nothing more than political propaganda.
The fact that producers decided to use a real phone number in Jim Carey's latest flick has gotten a considerable amount of press since Bruce Almighty opened, and most of it has been the "Hey, isn't this funny" type of stories.

However, if you look past the human interest angle the press tries to spin these stories through, you'll see that the maker's of Bruce Almighty inane decision to use a real phone number "because it does not exist in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, where the movie is set" is causing normal people all across the country in areas where the phone number does exist a lot of problems. A woman in Florida has threaten to sue the studio because the 20 calls an hour are clogging up her phone - and I don't blame her. It was a bone-head move by the studio and if some of the people effected by their decision can get some restitution from them - good for them.

May 28, 2003

How about an update:

Emma is walking everywhere now. She's only 9 months old. She's also a climber - stairs, chairs, tables, couches. If she can get her knee up high enough for leverage, then up she goes. She's going to give her Mom and Dad a heart attack. Ian wasn't a climber and didn't walk until he was almost one. She still has her cough. Its not as bad as last week, but it sure is hanging on a long time. Makes me a bit concerned.

Ian is Ian. He's still an over-active 3-year old. Its like living with Robin Williams 24/7. Sure its fun for a while, but at about hour 6 or 7 it starts to get a little crazy.

He's currently on a huge Scooby-Doo kick. He's borrowed two tapes of Scooby-Doo episodes from our neighbor across the street and is constantly asking to watch them. The Scooby-Doo section of the Cartoon Network website has become his new favorite destination on the web. Thomas the Tank Engine, Star Wars, Power Rangers, and Justice League are still popular, but Scooby is gaining quickly.

Ian is horrible about keeping secrets, but I've managed to convince him not to tell me directly what he, Emma and Mommy bought me for Father's Day. I had him whisper it to cowie, the giant stuffed cow that sits on his bed. He had to tell me something tough, so Ian gave me some hints instead: "its Star Wars. Its not an action figure. Mace Windu holds it. Its purple." Hmmmmm. What could that be.

Heather is wonderful. She does a great job of keeping it all together. She also made a fantastic Sausage and Peppers meal for dinner the other night and topped it off with this great ice cream desert thing.

Me - I'm trying to figure out what makes people think they have the extra-sensory powers to be able to walk down a crowed street or train platform and read a book/magazine/newspaper. YOU CAN'T DO IT POINDEXTER! YOU'RE WALKING REALLY SLOW AND WEAVING LIKE A SORORITY CHICK ON HER WAY HOME FROM THE BARS ON SATURDAY NIGHT! PUT THE DAMN BOOK AWAY AND JUST WALK DOWN THE FUCKIN' STREET!
Hey! Hey! Looks like we're back in business!

Of course its the end of the day and I don't know if I'll get anything in today. If not, I'll be back in force tomorrow.
I wonder if the blogger API is working yet. I haven't posted anything new to the journal all day. Not having w.bloggar available is cramping my style.

May 27, 2003

2003 Reuben Awards

The Reuben awards are handed out by the National Cartoonists Society and honor the best cartoonists of the year in a variety of categories.

Blah, blah, blah - skip down to newpaper strip of the year.

Newspaper Comic Strip Division: Darby Conley ("Get Fuzzy")

Get Fuzzy is a fantastic comic strip, worthy of the award. I'm glad to see Darby getting this type of recognition. Jim Meddick was also nominated for his work on Monty, a strip I just discovered recently and have been enjoying a great deal, and Stephen Pastis' work on Pearls before Swine, a comic I find cute - not interesting, was also nominated.

You can check out these two comics, and bunch of other great stips, at Comics.com. Of course, you'll have to weed through all the Cathy, Marmaduke, and Alley Oop re-treaded crap - but that's a given in the comic strip industry.
The American Family Association takes on Comics

5 years ago this wouldn't have me worried. But with W in power and the Christian Right McCarthy-ism benefiting from his position in the top office of the land, I start to get nervous. A couple of back-country, Bible-thumping hicks could walk in with their uneducated and out-dated notions that comics are only for kids, stir up public support with mis-information and lies, and bring the comic industry to its knees. Fredric Wertham did this back in the 1950s with his book Seduction of the Innocent.
Problem is this: Blogger.com - the site I'm using to run this daily journal, is in the process of a major software migration. They are trying to switch all the blogs being run on their software currently to the new version of the software. Its a messy process.

w.Bloggar - the client app I use to simply and quickly add items to my journal is having posting and publishing to Blogger because they're in the middle of this upheaval.

It makes my quick and care-free daily updates less easy - less spontaneous. Hopefully everything will be sorted out shortly.
I'm trying out the latest version of w.bloggar this morning - version 3.01. I had been using v2.03 - missed a version. What's nice about the 3.0 versions is that they now have spell check. So now when I've got some spelling I'm not sure of, instead of copying and pasting in Word, I can do it right from the client app.
Here's an interesting news item: American interrogators were forcing Iraqi prisoners to listen to songs by the rock band Metallica -- as well as the "Sesame Street" theme song and the "I Love You" song by Barney the purple dinosaur -- in order to make them talk. "These people haven't heard heavy metal. They can't take it," said one Psy Ops officer. "If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken. That's when we come in and talk to them."

May 23, 2003

Pulp Phantom

Not sure if this parody is any good or original - they're essentially just taking Star Wars characters and dropping them into the Pulp Fiction script. However, it is an interesting diversion on a Friday afternoon.
I know I might have talked up Jim Lee as a great superhero comic book artist - and he is. But recently I re-discovered how fantastic a penciler and comic book artist I think Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is.

When I started reading comics again in high school, the first Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight story I read (the 5-part Venom)was penciled by this fantastic artist. His artwork quickly got me excited about enjoying comic books. In my opinoin, his renderings of any of the DC Heroes strike a classic, pure interpretation for me. Garcia-Lopez draws Batman like I imagine Batman in my mind. In fact, most of the images of Superman and Batman used for licensed products in the last 25 years were created by Garcia-Lopez.

For those of you looking for a unique Father's Day gift for me, you might not need to look any farther than here
US Seizes What May Be $500 Million in Gold in Iraq

Who gets this gold? The US? The new Iraqi government? That's what I'd be interested in learning.
Hey! i think Ian and I need new beach towels.
June 27, 2003 - July 24, 2003
McDonald's and SEGA are teaming up to offer McDonald's first interactive electronic handheld games in Happy Meals. Featuring characters from SEGA's top-selling Sonic The Hedgehog® and Super Monkey Ball? franchises, these innovative, one-of-a-kind, action-packed games exclusive to McDonald's Happy Meals are perfect for summer road trips or competing with friends.


Looks like we'll be having Ian's and Emma's birthday parties at McDonald's. I want an electronic handheld game.
House Passes $330 Billion in Tax Cuts

Maybe if new something more than "supply and demand" when it came to economics I could respond to this. Reading through what's going happen, it looks like a good thing to me. We'll be able to claim $1,000 per child and the tax brackets are dropping. Ultimately I'll be bringing back more money every month in my paychecks. This is a good thing.

Now, if we could talk about dropping or cutting the huge Social Security with-holdings, then I you'd see me start talking. Nothing gets me more steamed than seeing so much of my earned money getting put into a system that I am absolutely certain I'll never get to collect on. If the current generation of geriatrics don't bleed it dry, than the baby-boomers will suck every last cent out of the system before I hit 40.

Its pissing money down the drain. I'd rather take that money to invest away for Heather and my golden years. I hate Social Security.

May 22, 2003

I guess if you discover a real need in the market, any product will sell.

May 21, 2003

Its Weinerdog Racing!!
Oh boy, is Emma sick. Poor girl is having a real rough time - so's her mommy. Emma's coughing most the day - you can hear the gunk draining out of her nasal passage and down her throat. its effecting her sleep and making her cranky. Having to deal with Emma and Ian right now is really wearing Heather down. I help out the best I can when I get home at night, but the fact remains that Heather has to take care of them for at least 12 hours on her own. That's how long I'm away from home each day.

I really feel for her. I hope things get better soon.
Skepticism on Bush's Weapons Claims Grows

No shit, Sherlock. It's been over 2 months of searching in Iraq and not a single scrap of evidence has turned up. Now CIA Director Tenet's warning last year that an attack on Iraq would send any forbidden weapons to Islamic terrorists is getting some legs. If that is true, you'd still think the facilities to create those weapons would have been found by now.

Colin Powel said it's just a matter of time. I guess 2 months of searching is just the beginning. What happened to all those satellite photos and eyewitness accounts Colin? It's rather remarkable. After the first Gulf War back in the early 90s Colin Powel emerged as a statesmen. He was regarded an intelligent, rational politician who wasn't beholden to one party. Now he's comes across as a puppet for W and his hawkish, fundamentalist cronies.
Kidman's Puffing Has Anti-Smokers Fuming

I don't know what bothers me more about what is stated by the anti-smoking lobby in this article:

1) Their implication that a person in the public spotlight has a responsiblity to resign all personal freedoms and surrender themselves completely to the random whims of the politically correct.

- or -


2) Their implication that we (specifically fans of Kidman) are all mindless cattle, ready to follow our pop idols over any cliff. Nicole was seen smoking - now everyone is going to go out and smoke!

Please. The woman is a goddess. Leave her alone.

May 20, 2003

The Bernie Mac Show is one of the funniest television shows that I never get to watch. The best I can do is read the funny quotes from the show posted to imdb.com.

How sad.
Ooooh My Gawd! Man Forces Eyes From Sockets As Protest
More Comic Book News!!

DC Comics announced that Alan Davis will be creating and publishing a follow-up to his 1998 three issue mini-series, JLA: The Nail. The new project, titled JLA: Another Nail is due out early next year and builds from the story started in The Nail.

The premise for the story of the first book found its inspiration from the nursery rhyme that began, "For want of a nail, a shoe was lost." In Davis' version of the DCU, the Kents' truck runs over a nail, causing a flat tire. Because of this, they are not in the right place at the right time to find the infant Superman, freshly delivered from his doomed planet Krypton. The result is a very different world.

JLA: Another Nail will pick up where the first mini ended - Luthor defeated and Kal-El, who has grown up in an Amish community, discovered by the other heroes of the DCU. Its slated to be a 3 issue mini as well.

Alan Davis pencils a gorgeous comic and his writing isn't half bad either. I absolutely loved The Nail - in fact it is one of my personal Top Ten comics of all time. I'm definitely going to make room for this series in the budget in 2004. If for no other reason than to have three beautifully printed comics showcasing Davis artwork, it will be worth the price of admission.
In the tradition of The Real World and American Idol, Todd Nauck is creating a comic about a made-for-TV superhero team called WildGuard: Casting Call. Its going to be a 6 issue mini-series being published this fall where the cast will be begin large and will eventually be whittled down to the five WildGuard members. Just like in American Idol, the readers will be able to vote for who they'd like to see remain in the team.

While I'm not a fan of the current reality-TV craze (though I can't say the same for Heather), I've always enjoyed Nauck's art. I always hated the fact that I had to cut Young Justice from my comic pull list because of budget constraints. His style is a lot of fun - an American Manga type form that isn't too stylized. I might be inclined to pick up the first issue or two to see how he handles writing on top of penciling.

You can check out the WildGuard website here ==> WildGuard
Here's an interesting news tidbit: White House aides asked people listening to a speech by the president to take off their ties so that they would look like the regular folks who the President claims will be the primary beneficiaries of his latest tax cut for the wealthy.

May 19, 2003

Its the poor man's Mile High Club. Make sure you read Lt. Rob Callahan's entertaining reports.
Hot Shot Business - is an online business game that sprang from a partnership between Disney and the Kauffman Foundation. Its designed to help introduce you kids to the world of business - particularly in regards to running your own business. I gave it a try - opened a comic shop. I stayed in business and turned a small profit after 6 weeks, but overall wasn't too successful.
Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but the one art sample looks nice. Its kinda an Americanized Manga style of art that I enjoy on certain projects. Not sure if new Ghostbuster comics are really needed. Ghostbusters is as popular as it is because of the movie - the script, the direction, the performance of the actors - all converging at once in 100 minutes or so of wildly entertaining film. Success in one entertainment medium is very difficult to replicate across other mediums. Great entertaining art really is capturing lightening in a bottle.
Hey this is funny: famous male indie-comic booke creator disappears for 20 years and then turns up as a women in San Fransico selling magic mushrooms. read about it

May 16, 2003

Where do I even begin with Mr. Brain's Pork Faggots?
Indiana Jones DVD update: all I got is cover art and packaging, but still, I'm just so geeked out about these movies coming to DVD I can't control myself. Here another picture of the packaging - its a bigger pic.
Just about a week ago I downloaded and installed iMusic 4.0 for our iMac at home. Since then both Heather and I have discovered how wonderful Apple's iTunes Music Store really is. They have got gobs upon gobs of music. Its easy to search for - easy to download - and easy to pay for. $.99 is a great price for an individual song. Even when you consider that there is $.06 of tax added for a $.99 song, so that the end price is really $1.05 - who cares? We can get a whole mess of songs for roughly a dollar a pop. And just pick and choose the songs we want. No need to buy entire albums. Then we can mix em all together and burn our own custom CDs.

Its wonderful. We're both looking forward to collecting more music for our own enjoyment - both on the computer and on our stereo. iMusic allows us to burn a CD either as a regular music CD or a CD-ROM with MP3 coded songs. The new stereo we bought back in February can play either. So these music collections won't have to be limited to just listening on the computer.

Heather is full into the techie-world now. She went full-bore with the home theater system back in February. She's all into our Mac - doing digital photography, downloading music. She's marvels at Steve Jobs vision. It brings a tear to my eye. I think with a just the slightest of pushes I can convince her to let me get an iPod.
Got back from San Diego yesterday. I was out there to attend an apartment association conference. All in all it went pretty well. The show was a little too small, but beneficial none the less. The weather in San Diego was fantastic on Wednesday, so during my lunch break I got get outside and spend some time walking along the bay.

The company put all of us up at the Horton Grand Hotel. It wasn't your typical place to stay on business. Very quaint - very bed-n-breakfast. It would be a great place to stay if, say, Heather and I went to San Diego for weekend alone. It was a little lacking for the business traveler, but for two nights it did fine.

Ian's kicked the pink-eye. He even learned to sit and hold his eyes open for the drops. He's a real trooper. Of course, Emma came down with pink-eye as well. Getting eye drops into a stubborn 9 month old is no easy task. To do it effectively, Heather and I actually have to work together.

To make matter even worse, both Emma and Ian have got colds. Just coughs really. Ian's isn't too bad. Emma's is 80-year old, chain-smoking hooker bad. Its effecting her sleep - and ours as well. Last night she was up from 12:50am until 2:40 am. Heather had her from when she woke up til 2am, then I took over at 2. Hopefully tonight is much better.

Finished reading both Gerald Jones' Killing Monsters and Jeff Parker's The Interman while on the trip.

Killing Monsters was an interesting read. Jones' makes thoughtful and well researched argument for the need of fantasy and pretend violence in a child's world. He does a good job of answering the critics and poking holes in many of the studies that erroniously link television/movies/music/computer games and real world violence. Jones also asks, and effectively answers, the question of why kids love the things that they love.

Where he falls down, in my opinoin, is in helping us understand how to make sure that the violence is used constructively. He makes excellent arguments of how usefull a violent video game or TV show helps a child develop emotionally in a healthy manner, but he fails to finish these arguments with any sort of concrete suggestions of how parent's can do this effectively. He too often ends with platitudes, and provides no concrete advice.

The Interman was as advertised - a great adventure story in the tradition of The Phantom, Tarzan, or any of the great adventure serials or pulps from years long past. The art could be stronger, and I didn't care for the coloring all the time, but overall a recommended read for anyone with interest in the action genre of storytelling. Parker's script and dialogue are excellent - the true star of the book. I look forward to seeing more Interman novels from Parker in the future.

May 13, 2003

FCC proposes changes to ownership rules

I knew that this was in the works and I read an interesting article about it in Sunday's Chicago Tribune.

Looks like Colin Powell's little boy (FCC Chairman Michael Powell) has it in his head that if mega-coprorations like News Corp and the Walt Disney Company have even more television and newspapers, they will be able to deliver better local content. Yet the lossening of radio ownership that occured almost a decade ago has resulted in exactly the opposite. There are few stations on the air with more syndicated or voice-tracked content. Radio has become bland and generic - as same in Cleveland as it is in Nashville. Local flavor on the radio is harder and harder to find. Only in larger markets like Chicago or LA have any unique radio stations been able to remain. People no longer have any options and only get a limited point of view through the radio now (See: Walmart is Ruining America)

I dread the effect Michael special interest boy Powell's decision will have on the newspaper and television landscape if his policies are accepted.
Thought this was interesting: Famous blues rockers are sueing DC Comics

Johnny and Edgar Winter appear as the albino half-worm, half-human Autumn brothers in the sci-fi Western Jonah Hex I remember when the mini-series came out back in 1995. While I didn't read it, I don't recall any mention of any of the characters in it being based on any musicians.

The Winters are claiming that DC Comics is stealing their images to sell comics. DC counters with the argument that the Autumn brothers are a parody. Yes, they resemble the Winters brothers, but the fact that the comic characters are half-worm, half-human with green tentacles sprouting from their chests, should protect the creators' rights to create a piece of fiction.

Read through the article it looks like the Winters brothers have little support. It'll be curious to see how this plays out.

May 12, 2003

Whoa - what a weekend. When last I wrote I indicated that it had been one very interesting week. Well, it finished off with a bang.

Some rain Friday night and Saturday morning gave way to a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Sunny and hot, Ian, Emma, Heather and I got to play outside and I got to mow the lawn (which I live for). Seemed like the horrible week was finally over. Then the storms came Friday night.

We had big storms in the Chicago area. The same storms that were dropping tornados by the dozen in Oklahoma and the Plains States came roaring through the Chicagoland area. Wind gusting up to 50 miles an hour, severe storm warnings, and the dreaded tornado watch were also standard issue Saturday night.

(short aside: I am deathly afraid of tornados. Not sure why, I've never experienced one. But as soon as a weatherman starts talking the possibility of a tornado, I don't sleep - literally - until the watches and warnings have long expired.)

So the house is swaying back and forth from the thundering storms outside, and then hell breaks loose inside. Before putting Ian to bed Saturday, Heather and I figured out that the poor kid has pink eye, which he contracted from the neighbor's kid. (See Friday, May 9th's post to see how this contributed to what will go down in McKillip History as The Week That Was) We get Ian and Emma in bed and they are sleeping, but she and I are up late tracking the storms rolling into Aurora. Finally around 11, Heather makes an effort to go to sleep why I watch the weather channel in bed next to her. Just as the warnings and watches are expiring, and radar indicates Aurora is in the clear in regards to weather, Ian wakes up complaining about itchy eyes. Emma then starts crying - luckily she goes back to sleep on her own. Ian finally goes back to sleep after much motherly care from Heather. I finally fall asleep shortly after midnight.

1 am Emma's awake again and crying loudly, very loudly. I jump up and go to her, Heather goes in to check on Ian - who has woken up again. I'm with Emma til 1:30; try to lay her down but she'll have nothing of it. So Heather takes over and begins walking. Eventually, at 2:30am, Emma falls asleep in our bed. Heather picks her up and puts her back in the crib. I fall asleep about 3am.

4 am and Ian is awake and complaining out itchy eyes again, Heather goes in to take care of him. He wakes up again at 5:30 and is looking to get up and start the day. I go into his room and convince him to remain in bed until 6am, its Mother's Day after all. At 6, he's out of bed and Emma is awake. My feeble attempt to give Heather a enjoyable Mother's Day morning amount to letting her sleep until 6:45am, at which time Emma is looking to nurse. All total Heather and I got about 4 to 5 hours of sleep. I can't remember the last time we had a rougher night. Even when Ian was sick and throwing up it was only me who got such little sleep. Here both Heather and I clocked in at under 5 hours.

Of course we now have to get treatment for Ian's pick eye. Luckily his doctor is willing to prescribe medication over the phone. We didn't have to take him into any urgent care center. Still, we now have to look forward to the prospect of putting drops into the eyes of a stubborn, melodramatic 3-year old 4 times a day.

Still we motor on with our Mother's Day celebration. Heather loves her gifts and the card Ian got for her. Ian continually wishes her a "Happy Mother's Day" every chance he gets. Heather prepares a special desert for herself - which insists she wants to do. Very tired parents battle to deal with tired and sick children the best they can.

The last tragedy comes late in the afternoon. My mother was suppose to come over for dinner - and she still planned on it even after Ian's pink eye diagnosis (My sister chickened out of her invite. Something about not wanting to risk getting sick at the same time she has final exams for law school.) Ian loves it when people come over to visit. When he got up from his nap he told me that he would stand at our bedroom window and watch for Nana to arrive. Unfortunately, Nana never arrived. She called me at 4:30 to let me know that the horrendous winds had knocked down power lines in their area. No power means the sump-pump in their basement isn't running. No sump means a basement full of water. She had to cancel on dinner so that they could secure a portable generator to hook up to the sump-pump so that their entire basement wouldn't end up looking like a set piece from the Poseidon Adventure. Ian was not pleased.

Eventually Sunday, and hopefully the week, ended. I'm very much inclined to put this week behind us and move on. It can't get much worse, can it?

One good thing: tried out Apple's new music service - you know, $.99 to download and song, $9.99 to get an entire albulm. Apple's music store is stocked. They've got tons of music online. This could be great. I downloaded one song (Audioslave - Like a Stone) to test things out. The download was long - about 15 minutes for a 4:50 minute song - for our 56K modem connection, but I think its doable if we're just downloading a few songs here and there every once and a while. I don't think I'd download entire albums until I get a faster connection.

May 09, 2003

FREEBIRD!!
People Are Idiots: Example #121

Disabled S. Jersey senior is ruled sole valedictorian

Now she really isn't disabled, not how the title would lead you to believe. She has a physical condition that makes her extra tired. She doesn't have the energy to be at school all day. Hence, she takes many of her classes at home and is excused from taking other classes.

What's crazy is the first paragraph in the story:
A federal judge yesterday scolded Moorestown school officials for trying to make a disabled senior share valedictory honors with a student who has taken a regular load of courses.

When the school tried to name her co-valedictorian because she hadn't taken the same course load as other students, she and her Superior Court judge father sued the school for the tune of $2.7 million in damages.

Here another great tidbit from the article:
U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson said school officials violated Hornstine's civil rights by engaging in a "strange and relentless" effort to discredit her achievement. It's a classic case of discrimination, Wolfson said in her Camden courtroom.

"If forced to share the award, the stigma would likely be unshakable," the judge said. "She would be seen as 'the disabled valedictorian,' not 'the valedictorian.' "


Well now she's gonna be seen as the whinny brat who sued the school because she didn't get to be valedictorian even though she didn't take the same course load as other students.

Have I expressed that one item enough. This girl did not take all the classes as the other students and she worked at home most of the time. She's undoubtedly book smart, her 1,570 out of 1,600 on the SAT is testiment to that. However, if you haven't gone through all the same obstacles and challenges as the rest of the field, how can you consider yourself the best of the bunch?

Added some great photos of Ian and Emma. Check em out in the Photos section.
I would think this should make Shakespeare fans happy.

Am I right Kevin?
Been an interesting week.

It started off pretty rough with a horrible Monday. Out of the blue Ian wets his bed at 6 in the morning as I'm trying to get out the door for work. Emma wakes up crying, a good 30 - 40 minutes early then she usually does - so now she's awake, hungry, and crying. Ian's all upset cause he wet the bed. Great start to the morning.

Then it's my usual inspiring trip on the train downtown with the rest of the cattle to start the workday. At work I had people doing stupid things on projects that I am overseeing. Collosal things that horribly impacts our customers. Naturally, I am completely reliant on the work they are doing (not an easy thing for someone like myself who subscribes to the adage: if you want something done right, you do it yourself), which naturally cranks up the tension level. So once I got that all straightened out it more of the usual general stupidness and workday annoyances. Another soul-sucking train ride back to Aurora and I'm in my car headed home. Once home I find out that the neighbor's kid has been over, and he's got pinkeye. So now I'm looking at the prospect of my 3 year-old and 8 month-old contracting pinkeye and dealing with all the frustration of a child being sick. Just at the moment the mother of the kid calls our house. Who knows why? I lose my cool and unleash the frustrations of the day and the last 4 months on her unsuspecting ears. Needless to say, that didn't sit well with her - or her decidedly-larger-than-me husband. One apologetic phone call to the mom and a "talk" out in the driveway with the husband later and I'm ready to for the day to end.

Tuesday and Wednesday were relatively non-eventful. Usual work goofiness.

Thursday was the day of meetings, including a 4-hour marathon that I actually organized. Its part of a project that I am leading that might actual breathes some life and creativity into my job. Attributes that seem to have been lacking of late. Work has been work. It's made me feel a bit like a corporate monkey - jumping for peanuts and throwing shit at people. Anyway, according to my manager, our Senior VP who was in the meeting with me mentioned that he was really impressed with the work I had done.

Does the fact that I even mention this make me even more the corporate monkey? I like the Senior VP, he's down to earth Cleveland guy - but I don't work to impress others. I work to impress myself. And while I don't strive for recognition (I prefer to let other beat the drum for me - an activity my manager seems to do with gusto), it is nice to see that other notice that I've got skills.

Thursday ends with a last minute cancellation of monumental system upgrades. Meaning I have to scurry at ten to five to get the communication out to our sales and affiliates that the down time I have talking about for the last 2 weeks isn't going to happen for at least a week now.

Friday is going pretty well. Gave blood this morning. The workday has been pretty lazy. Cubs are probably playing, I'm gonna check and probably bring the game up online.

One of the good things to come out of this week's craziness is that it's got me talking to Heather more. After exploding at the neighbor, Heather got me to admit to her and myself that I am I still holding much too much inside. We've talked more. I've expressed more of my fears and concerns. She's listening. 30 years of being the quiet stoic makes this type of emotional expression very difficult, but its better the being unhappy with the type of person you are - or at least think you are.

So it goes.

May 07, 2003

The latest SARS fashions are hitting the fashion runways now. Look for them to be in stores later this spring.
To follow up on my Indiana Jones post yesterday, here's a trailer/commercial for the DVD set.
Dozens Dead in Chicago-Area Meatwave

Make sure you check out the photos in the story. There is a great one of a guy on a stretcher holding onto a string of sausages while he's being loaded into an ambulance.
funny stuff
Dick Cheney is still alive? Cheney Confirms He Will Be Bush's Running Mate
This is a great idea. Putting a mail box, so to speak, right at airport security checkpoints so that people with banned items can mail it back to themselves instead of handing it over to security (in which case you'll never see it again) or walk all the way back to your car to return the item.

Make me realize that there has to be new business ideas all around - I'm just not looking for them. I'm not opening my mind to all the possibilities.
This makes me feel good: Henson Family to Buy Back Muppets
Wal-Mart is ruining America

A store can chose to carry or not carry any products they want. I completely support that. If Wal-Mart doesn't want to carry FHM, they don't have to.

However, when they start dropping all the products that they have an ideological problem with (i.e., albums that have explicit lyrics, or alternative points of view) and they are the country's largest retailer, it only contributes to the dumbing of the American population. Its widely know that Wal-Mart has been so successful by essentially being a mile wide and inch deep - they only care the popular brands of everything. Consumers going to Wal-Mart really have no choice. They just buy what Wal-Mart has.

You take Wal-Mart and couple it with McDonald's (and restaurants like McDonald's) and culture that worships television, and you'll see a country of zombies matching down the path of unoriginal thought.

When you see more and more people lazily following the corporate-created American experience, it's not hard to see where the current ideological climate of "If you're not with us, then you are wrong/evil/a traitor" can flourish.

May 06, 2003

Found this at a friend of mine's website (estenger.com)

Apparently a kid videotaped himself showcasing his exception lightsaber fighting skills using his school's camera. Unfortunately he forgot to take the tape with him.
Star Wars Kid (WMV file - 3.0 Mb)

But then some creative young lad to take the video and mix in some great sound effects and music.
Star Wars Kid Remix (WMV file - 1.0 Mb)

As Ed so perfectly points out on his own website, if this kid does this 10 - 15 years ago, he only has to suffer regional humiliation. Now, thanks to the internet, the entire world can see how ridiculous he looked.
Here's another intersting tidbit I've recently picked up: A new study estimates that a shadow economy largely driven by marijuana, porn, and the labor of illegal aliens now constitutes up to 10 percent of the American economy.
This just grabbed me as wierd: Pilgrims who bought tickets to see the Pope on his visit to Spain were given a McDonald's hamburger, medium fries, medium drink, and either an ice cream sundae or an apple pie. Also included in the ticket price was a "pilgrim's bag" with a baseball cap, a rosary, and a copy of the Gospel According to St. Mark.
God Save the Queen
Indiana Jones Finally Comes to DVD

This is fantastic! There are only a few movies that I have on VHS that I would love to have on DVD to enjoy with the home theater systerm. The first Star Wars triology of course. A close second is the Indiana Jones triology of movies - widescreen of course.

Paramount is releasing the remasted films on November 4th - just in time for my birthday!
Violent Lyrics Linked to Aggressive Thoughts

If I had to sit in a lab, listen to a bunch of music with little scientist people hovering around, and then have them ask me a bunch of inane questions like classifying the word "rock" or "stick", I'd probably come off as aggressive too. Don't care how much they are paying me to be a part of their study.
Something I really shouldn't be reading about on an empty stomach: Texas Man Rides Bike Wearing Black Thong

May 05, 2003

This is great way to kill some time: flyguy
I want me one of these
This is great
Heather and I got away for a dinner and movie this Saturday. Mom came over to baby-sit and we made a dash for the door.

It was a toss-up between A Mighty Wind and Identity, and we opted for the thriller (my favorite) John Cusack and Ray Liota. It really was a good flick. Great ensemble cast. The star of the show really is the plot though. In the tradition of recent movies like The Usual Suspects and , the story is crafted wonderfully and the otherwise unbelievable plot twists are handled so deftly that you feel wholly entertained - not tricked. Don't think I would enjoy the movie as much the second time, but watching it fresh it's fantastic.

We went to dinner after the movie. A strange twist, I know, but without going into the complicated world of breast-feeding schedules and their physical impact on the mothers, this worked best for us. Food was good. It was also nice to have a meal that did not include to constantly talking (or crying) children.

In penitence of spending so much recreational time on Saturday (Ian and I also spent some time at the comic book shop for Free Comic Book Day before Heather and I went out), I spent the entirety of Sunday working. No rest for the wicked. I am horrendously behind in all the stuff I want to do around the house this spring. Really need to pull things together and plan / use my time more effectively.
Agassi Loses His No. 1 Ranking in Italy - At least he knows where he was when he saw it last. It should be too dificult to find again. HA!

May 02, 2003

This is way cool. One of my favorite writers, Greg Rucka, is auctioning off a character in his next book. Essentially, if you win the auction, Greg takes you and works you into the story.

Bidding is already up to $355 and I know Heather would never understand spending $400, $500 or even higher just so I could be a character in a book, but a boy can dream about it.

Maybe I should just write my own stuff, then I can put myself in where ever I want.
I wanna be this guy.

Not that I want to cut my arm off, just to be able to have the mental strength and resolve to do what has to be done. The guy is a warrior.
This is sad, mostly because it appears that good ole Lex Luger might not have been treatin' Miss Elizabeth too well. I remember Miss Elizabeth back when she was the manager for Macho Man Randy Savage during my (very) brief interest in professional wrestling in the late 80s.
I think what this world needs is more Diamond Dave

May 01, 2003

Architect Jean Nouvel or Dr. Evil? You decide
I think I could even prosecute this case: Grocery shopper/crook picks wrong line to pay for her groceries
Finished reading Oddjob this week. Fantastic comic. Totally different, original and funny. If you love the absurd, you love this comic.

Simple, clean art does a wonderful job or complimenting and realizing bizarre, fun scripts.

The book follows Moe, Investigator of the Odd, as he and his friends Moose Mulligan, ex-ballplayer, muscle, and landlord of Spiral City's second freshest smelling bar, and Robin the Clown, 'performance' clown, investigate reports of men made of gummi, ancient clown flowers, 12-foot mutant chickens, and an Amish-Cyborg - among other things.

Every page will elicit a laugh. Most fun I've had reading a comic in a long time.
Just added a photo to the my website that I forgot all about. Back in February, on Valentine's Day, Heather shot a series of photos of Ian and Emma laying on the floor. They were all kinda cute.

I noticed though, that if the images were viewed in rapid succession, like a flip-book, they made for a quick, silly little movie showing siblings not sitting still for a photo shot.

So I took the images, spliced them together, and made a simple animated graphic. Its been sitting on my computer at work for 2 months now.

Check it out here