Friday, December 30, 2005

Exciting news at last!!!

Tonight is the night. Finally. I can tell you some exciting news. My first paper since 1998 is now published. You can see the abstract here. Okay, in my business, publishing is expected. What is so exciting about that? Well, a couple of weeks ago, my editor friend informed me that one of my figures was going to be used on the cover of the journal. This issue is in honor of my first postdoc advisors 65th birthday. So, having my figure as one of two on the front or back cover is really an honor. The figure is similar to this one:

Now, I'm sure you're probably thinking what's all the fuss. Well, this postdoc advisor means the world to me, so having a paper published in his special issue and having a color figure on the cover is just too cool. I owe my career to this guy. I'm just glad I was asked to contribute.

Political blogging

Today, I made my first post on the DailyKos political blog. And a quite good one at that, so I'm thinking.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Today's the Day

visitor 1000 will arrive at some point, probably before midday - identify yourself in the comments :o)

and just perhaps, if some folks in New Jersey will get off their asses, there might be some exciting news as well. But, after waiting for the last 4+ weeks, I'm not hopeful...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Chanukah and visitor 1000

Today is the first day of Chanukah - the festival of lights, a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for 8 days. Last evening we lit the first candle of the menorah. We light an additional candle each night for 8 nights. We give gifts of gelt - chanukah money - which is then given to those less fortunate. And of course, we eat latkes and play dreidel.

I can't say exactly who visitor 1000 to the meadow will be since I didn't start keeping track at the beginning. However, sometime in the next few days, the counter will hit 1000. Who will the lucky visitor be, a neighbor? a local friend? family from back home? Mrs. Bloom? a new friend on another continent? a random visitor from Live Journal? If you happen to be the one, identify yourself in the comments.

Friday, December 23, 2005

American Girl revisited

I ranted about how the Christian right was boycotting American Girl over some straw man in the name of "pro-life" here. Well, it looks like Mattel and American Girl caved in and will end their support of Girls Inc. at the end of the year. It sucks that American Girl will not renew the agreement with Girls Inc. in support of Girls Inc.'s academic activities for young ladies. So, for James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson, I've got a Christmas present for you right here.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

411 Sulphur Springs Road

On this piece of land in the town of Manchester, Missouri, stood a modest old farmhouse. The Martin Engler House was built as a residence in 1906. It looked about like any other early 20th century white clapboard farmhouse. This one had a small screened porch that protected a beautiful wooden door. There were majestic maple trees in front of the house and a shed and garage out back. Now back in 1906, there probably wasn't much in the way of suburbs surrounding this farmhouse. It would have been on the edge of Manchester proper. This proud old farmhouse looked out of place once its farm was covered with postwar ranch houses, all looking the same, boring babyboomer style. You know, with the fancy picture windows and carports.

I loved that old farmhouse. It came on the market a couple of years ago. We could have bought it. Alas, it wasn't practical - too small really, and no airconditioning. That old white clapboard farmhouse was my favorite house in all of West County. Driving home from God knows where the other day, I saw the pile of splintered wood in the lot and the big scoop in the yard crushing what was left of that grand old house. Today, they were removing the last bits of the rubble. The old radiators had been removed and set aside - I'm sure so someone could sell them to someone doing a refurbish job. Those big beautiful trees have been pushed over. The whole lot cleared. By now, I'm sure it's all gone. I just found where the city granted the owner a variance to create two non-regulation lots where this old house once stood. That can only mean that soon, two brand new, 21st century, cookie cutter retro-style homes will soon be standing on this treeless lot.

Those bastards.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Johnny you rat bastard!!!


Damon jumps to Yankees: "A Red Sox offseason of discontent and upheaval took another shocking turn last night when free agent center fielder Johnny Damon, who had achieved rock star status in Boston, defected to the New York Yankees, agreeing in principle to a four-year, $52 million contract that will become official when he passes a physical."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


not today. Maybe tomorrow...

Monday, December 19, 2005


Well, the president admitted on radio that he violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, but no one seems to give a shit. Let's see - get a blowjob, get impeached. Violate the Constitution, get a free pass. I wish someone would hurry up and give this scumbag a blowjob so we could impeach his ass.

In the words of Ben Franklin:
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security

So, I really have no news. It's really out of my hands. Tomorrow maybe, or so I'm thinking...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Yes, it is official. I'm on vacation through Jan. 2. My employer closes from the 23rd to the 2nd. I've added my unused vacation days to that to get my annual year end reprieve.

Boston was great. I could definitely get used to Cambridge. There's something about sitting and watching the ice flow down the Charles River with the city as the backdrop. I could listen to people paahking the caaahs down by the haahbah all day. I also didn't know that they had my all-time favorite restaurant there, The Helmand. It is an Afghani restaurant that I first experienced a couple of years ago in Baltimore. We had dinner there again. Their baked baby pumpkin with garlic yogurt appetizer is to die for. The spicy meatballs are the best I've ever had. If you ever make it to Baltimore or Cambridge, you must try this place.

Mission accomplished in getting the kids Sox hats to go with mine. M. got one of these

and K got this one

I didn't forget TG either. She's got a nice warm Haaahvahhd sweatshirt now.

I also got some other exciting news, but it'll have to wait a bit longer, or so I'm thinking...

Monday, December 12, 2005

blogging from Boston

I finally made it. A pilgrimage to Fenway Park. I took a pic from my camera phone, but for some reason, I can't email it. Essentially, my pic was of this view

I made it to the gift shop across the street and picked up a couple of hats for the kids, and I got my own Ted Williams t-shirt. It's a cool area of town. Had lunch at Boston Beer Works brewpub. Had a nice tall glass of Fenway American Pale Ale. Tasty. Hopefully, next time I visit, I'll actually be inside watching the Sox.
Back to the midwest tomorrow. But God, it's great to be in New England again.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Off to Boston

Quiet this week as I didn't want to write anything before the anniversary of Lennon's death and bump his pic from the top. I'm off to Boston - actually Cambridge (home of MIT and Harvard) - tomorrow to visit our remote site and work with some of the folks there on my project. I don't really need an excuse to go to New England, even if it is the dead of winter. My hotel is right on the Charles River, so hopefully, I'll have a room with a view. I've been promised lunch down by Fenway Park and a visit to the gift shop to pick up a few things for the kiddos (and myself...?). I'll be back on Tuesday evening, but I'll try to blog from the road.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

December 8, 1980

I was 14. I was a fan of the Rolling Stones. My cousin Alex was the Beatles fan. I was all about the emotion of rock and roll. Alex was into the heady side. He called me that night to tell me that Lennon had been shot. I'm sure we both went back to our rooms and turned the stereo to the local rock station. Beatles/Lennon songs filled the playlist. Fans called remembering John. The next evening, there was a tribute show on the radio. Alex recorded it. I bet he still has it in a closet somewhere.
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

At the time, I suppose I didn't see Lennon's death as anything more than a celebrity of the recent past meeting a cruel and untimely death. I know I watched all the tv specials. But as I've gotten older, I've paid more attention to the man John Lennon. Here was a gentle soul with a platform to do just about whatever he wished. Yet, he used his platform to try to make the world a better place. Sitting here in 2005, I'm pretty certain the world isn't a much better place than it was back in the early 70s. The more I think about it, the scarier the parallels. The world may not have changed much, but I know we're better off having heard the songs of John Lennon.

All we are saying is give peace a chance

Friday, December 02, 2005

An update on P.

You may remember my good friend who was diagnosed with cancer this summer. I got a note from his wife today. P.'s had 9 rounds of chemotherapy and has just had his second set of CT scans. There are no new tumors and the original one has shrunk considerably. There is no longer lymph node involvement in his stomach area. After the first set of CT scans a couple of months ago, they said that remission was a possibility. P.'s getting tired of the treatments, but there is hope on the horizon. Hopefully, we'll be able to see him this holiday season.

A Wreath for Emmett Till

I wrote about Emmett Till back in the summer here. Recently, I was told about this new book telling the story of Emmett Till's brutal murder. The book is written as an heroic crown of sonnets - 15 sonnets where the first line of each sonnet is the last line of the previous one. The last sonnet is composed of each of the first lines of each of the previous sonnets. The imagery in both words and illustrations is haunting, horrific, and at the same time beautiful. The sonnets are complex in their symbolism, challenging the reader to think. Due to the nature of the crime, this book is not appropriate for small children. But, when the time comes, it is a story that must be told to them, lest we revert to a time and place where this brutality becomes the norm again.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Drinking all the kool-aid

Well, it's now official. I'm drinking every flavor of kool-aid my employer offers. I've never been one to wave the company flag or buy into all the usual corporate b.s. Not that anything is that different now. But, I recently got a little more visible responsibility for a particular project. Now I'd much rather operate behind the scenes as much as possible. However, that tactic usually just results in some asshole taking all the credit for your ideas. But in the last couple of years, I've managed to push a major idea to the point that it has recently become a widely accepted approach on multiple projects.

The company has a mentoring program that is quite limited in numbers. There is an application process and the powers-that-be choose the participants. So, a few weeks back, the annoucement for this coming year's program was made. I decided that this little mentoring gig might be just what the doctor ordered in helping to mitigate my slight badboy image around the office. Yeah, I know - very uncharacterisitc (the changing my rebel image part). So, I applied. Today, I found out I was one of the 44 chosen to participate. Of course, in typical fashion, I managed to once again co-opt the system, at least I think. I've already identified someone I'd like to have as the mentor. Luckily, he's participating and will be putting in the word that we want to work together. So, perhaps I'm not drinking ALL the kool-aid just yet.

Monday, November 28, 2005

nothing to write here

I feel so bad. I see how many of you come here each day only to find the same posts. I'm sure it's an easy click on the bookmarks to see there's nothing new. I haven't felt all that inspired lately. At the other place, I wrote a piece on the progressive stages of cussing - something at which I hold a postgraduate degree. It's not for the faint of heart, so click at your own risk. I'll be traveling to Boston in a couple of weeks on business. Should be fun, and it is always good to be in New England.
Being December, that means one thing, my annual take-all-the-extra-vacation-days-before-you-lose-them month. I'll be off of work from the middle of December until the end of the year. Perhaps I'll be more inspired then. Although, I do have a book chapter to write and a paper to revise. That should keep me busy.

Sorry for the rather boring update. I do have a bombshell to drop at some point. Perhaps the time will be right before you know it.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

In 1986, a 10 year old boy who lived in a NY City "welfare hotel" testified before the House Select Committee on Hunger:

My name is David Bright. I am 10 years old. I am homeless. I am often hungry. Right now, I live in the Martinique Hotel. The Martinique is a mad house. The hallways are dangerous. Many things could happen to you while you're in the hallways. Like you could be shot or raped. The roaches and rats are a big problem, too. But being raped is worse. There are people who rape little boys in the hallways.
I am often hungry because I don't get enough to eat. Homeless kids are taken to schools far away. When the bus comes late, I can't even get breakfast at school. When I arrive the bell rings, then breakfast just stops. I just can't think in school when I'm hungry. My mind just stops thinking and this can't go on forever. That's because I want to learn. I want to get a good education. Learning is fun for me.
There are too many little kids in the hotel who never go to school. There is just not enough room in the schools for them. Just like there's not enough homes for poor children and not enough food.
When I grow up I will be President of the United States. When I am the President, every American will have a home. Every American will have something to eat every day. Everyone in America will have a little money in his pocket. When I am President, no 10 year old boy like me will have to put his head down on the desk at school because it hurts to be hungry.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

November 22, 1963

Our nation changed for the worst on November 22, 1963. Oh how we need another leader of such vision and inspiration as John F. Kennedy.

I look forward to a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.

Monday, November 21, 2005

That's what Uncle Remus say

I was six years old whenever I first saw it. On a snowy winter's afternoon, I went to the local theater with my neighbor friend and we saw Disney's Song of the South. It was then that I fell in love with Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear, and Uncle Remus. Everyone must be familiar with the story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. This movie is based on the folktales collected by Joel Chandler Harris. These tales are the dialect tales told by African American slaves that Harris had heard as a small child in Georgia. Their documentation provides a glimpse into 19th century African American culture in which these humorous tales also carried a means of commentary against the suppression of Black Americans by the majority Whites.

Tonight, while Mrs. Bloom was off at critique group, I broke out my copy of The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus and introduced Brer Rabbit and Uncle Remus to my kids. McK asked if we were going to read the whole book. "Yes," I said, "all 870 pages tonight!" We read 3 or 4 of the tales and then broke out my bootleg copy of Song of the South and began watching the movie. K wasn't too impressed with the stories, probably because of the dialect, but he was all about the video. When it was time for bed, McK asked with a hopeful look in her eyes if we could read some more Uncle Remus tomorrow night. Absolutely!

"It's the truth. It's actual. Everything is satisfactual!"

Sunday, November 20, 2005

what's new?

y'all are dying to read something new here, aren't you?
I guess the problem is that I'm not really dying to write anything new here.
I thought about railing on the administration about having a chump with FIVE deferments from the Vietnam War criticize a highly decorated US Marine for suggesting we need to get the hell out of Iraq sooner rather than later, but then we have to endure these assclowns for 3 more years, so I'm sure I'll have ample opportunity to spray more piss and vinegar their way.
Instead, I'll just leave you with this

you can order yours here.
until next time...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

the purpose

The Purpose Driven Life is a popular book these days. I haven't read it, and I doubt I will. But I suppose that it must be inherent in our genetic makeup to sit around and ponder what this is all about. Does it really all boil down to, "I think, therefore I am?" Perhaps you can find the answer sitting in a shack by a pond in Massachusetts. But you can't find all the answers in the woods. Nowhere in the trees or the ponds lies the answer to why some people seem to be destined to battle their entire lives - the souls who fight unseen demons inside, one after another, until the very end. And so, when that final battle comes, I guess all we can do is pray that their souls find peace.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

the new toy

for those that asked... My photography doesn't do it justice.

Friday, November 11, 2005

God bless Leo Fender

and all his beautiful guitars.

Today, after many years of wishing, I am now the proud owner of a 50th anniversary American Standard Stratocaster. It's metallic candy apple red with a white mother of pearl pickguard and a maple neck. This guitar is truly a masterpiece.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The American Girl phenom

My seven year old has a love for all things American Girl. For her birthday, we made a weekend trip to take her to The American Girl Place in Chicago. If you aren't familiar, the American Girl dolls are a line of dolls from America's past. Each has a story relating to the general life of kids throughout America's history. The dolls have all the usual accessories, but they also come with a series of books that tell the story. McK first fell in love with Addy, an African American slave girl. She could't read the stories fast enough. McK cried as she and her mother read the trials of a young black girl in 1860s America. I know the story of Addy showed McK how lucky she was to born at her time, place and circumstance.

But now, the Christian Coalition is all up in arms over American Girl's support for Girls, Inc. which used to be known as Girls Clubs. American Girl is sponsoring math, science, and athletic programs at Girls, Inc. Apparently, Girls, Inc. also believes in health education which includes reproductive health. Well, this is where the CC gets all up in arms. Nevermind that the money from American Girl will not go to those programs. Doesn't matter - they're going to boycott the store after Thanksgiving anyway. What a load of crap. F- James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell and the rest of the lot. They don't have the market cornered on morality. If I have to choose between a company that promotes reading, science, math, history education over a group that continually spews hatred and exclusion in the so-called name of God, then that's a pretty easy choice.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

To a life well-lived, Rosa Parks

From the back of the bus, to the Capitol rotunda.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005


I was having my daily chat with my supervisor yesterday and my mind was busy multitasking as usual. We were talking science, and the talked drifted to the business part of science. As we talked some business matters, I started thinking about how much I've learned from my supervisor, who is really more of a mentor. Coming from academia, I knew nothing about science business or intellectual property. Over the last few years, my way of thinking has morphed into considering the business and intellectual property issues of science as much as the scientific merit of the work. I would have never imagined that would happen.

In the larger context, I was thinking about mentors and how important they are in helping one be successful. The important life lesson is the importance of surrounding yourself with good people. I've been quite lucky to be able to do this most of my life. I suppose your immediate family unit is where it all starts. Since we don't really get to pick our parents, this one falls mostly to luck. I was fortunate to have parents and grandparents who instilled a sound moral foundation within our family. Skipping ahead to graduate school, I made a rather poor choice for a mentor. By the time I realized this, it was too late to change it. But, I managed to seek out the counsel of another faculty member who was invaluable in making up for my original choice. This professor steered me to my first postdoctoral advisor who happens to be one of the tops in our field. Being in his lab with the high quality folks with which he surrounds himself was yet another step in making up for my poor grad school choice. My first position at my current company was another matter of not being surrounded by a quality leader. I managed to figure that out relatively quickly and moved to my current position.

In reflecting on all this, I realize that the times in my life whenever I made significant leaps in my growth all had one thing in common - a strong mentor. As a parent, I think the most important thing that I can teach my children is for them to always surround themselves with the best and the brightest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

what kind of thinker are you?


You are a Logical-Mathematical Thinker

Logical-Mathematical thinkers:
  • Like to understand patterns and relationships between objects or actions
  • Try to understand the world in terms of causes and effects
  • Are good at thinking critically, and solving problems creatively

Other Logical-Mathematical Thinkers include
Isaac Newton, Archimedes, Albert Einstein

Careers which suit Logical-Mathematical thinkers include

Physicist, Chemist, Biologist, Lawyer, Computer programmer, Engineer, Inventor

You are a Naturalist Thinker

Naturalist Thinkers:
  • Like to understand the natural world, and the living beings that inhabit it
  • have an aptitude for communicating with animals
  • You try to understand patterns of life and natural forces
Other Naturalist thinkers include
Charles Darwin, Jane Goodall, Johnny Morris, David Attenborough

Careers which suit Naturalist thinkers include
Biologist, Meteorologist, Forester, Farmer, Astronomer, Alternative therapist

Well, the real question is, am I a biophysicist because the way I think, or do I think that way because I am a biophysicist? Hmmm

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks

The world is a poorer place tonight without Rosa Parks in it.
May your courageous soul find eternal rest.

a blaze of glory

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-Dylan Thomas

The first real cold blast came through over the weekend. There is now the distinct chill of frost in the air in the early morning. The brisk north wind signals the coming of the end of my favorite time of year. The cold fingers of that first frost cover the woods down by the stream signalling to the trees that the end is near for another season. It is time to rest, time to go gently into that good night of winter. But the trees refuse to listen to the howling from the north. Over a matter of days, the green and yellow rages orange bright and red deep in a final act of defiance against the coming long dark winter. And we stand back and bask its glory.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Game day

It's a crisp autumn morning. Today on a field one-thousand miles away the unbeaten Texas Tech Red Raiders will battle the undefeated and much despised University of Texas Longhorns. The last time this game had such implications, I was but a young boy. My grandparents used to live a few blocks from Jones Stadium, home of the Red Raiders. As a child, I remember the Saturdays we would visit while there was a game taking place. From my PaPa's front porch, you could see the upper corner of the stands filled with fans in their red and black. You could hear the roar of the crowd, the sounds of the Going Band from Raiderland, and the announcer yelling, "touchdown Red Raiders!"

As I got older, my dad would take me to the football games. He would make cotton candy to sell in the concession stands. I would get to see much of the game, soak in the sights, the sounds, the smells of an autumn day on the gridiron. I even ventured to try to sell cotton candy in the stands just so I could go with him and see the games. I wasn't very good at it and my career didn't last a season. But, I still got to go. As I got older, the cotton candy stand was traded in for the souvenir stand. I watched my own table, sold pennants and rubber footballs emblazoned with the Double T, and made some money. Sometimes, my cousin and I would go down to the lockerroom to get autographs from players.

After enrolling for the fall of 1984, I became a student season ticket holder. Every game, win or lose spent yelling for the Red Raiders. Those were some great Saturday afternoons spent with my cousin G. and some of our friends.

I haven't been back to campus for a football game since November 1998 when I went back to see my Red Raiders beat those hated Longhorns 42-35 in the final minutes. Again, I went with G. The game was won in the final minutes. It was just like always. The sound of March Grandiose from the Going Band as they marched through campus. The "Go! Fight! Win!" before the fight song. The Masked Rider circling the stadium after another Red Raider touchdown. And after a sweet victory, The Matador Song.

And so, every Saturday, I fly the Red & Black flag at my house and think about the days of Red Raider football with my PaPa, my dad, and my cousin G.

Beat the hell outta Texas!!!

Monday, October 17, 2005

old friends

When I was in college, my small group of friends used to hang out in the donut shop parking lot until 2 a.m. We'd often argue deep philosophical issues to no resolution - stuff like why there are stars, and is there such a thing as time. I recently found something that I had written about that group of friends in the not-too-distant past:

The memories of that time have indeed lost some of their edge. I no longer think of what began, what ended, and what might have been. That time has become something more. I think of the way we were, the age of innocence for all of us. Those were the times when we sat and contemplated the meaning of time - when it seemed like we had
forever. It now all seems like so long ago. And now, we realize how short the time is as the seasons come and go in what seems to be weeks or days instead of months. And we see the time pass in the faces of those close to us and we see that time stop in those that have gone on, either in our lives or on to the journey beyond this life - each suspended as when we last saw them.

here's to old friends...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Some new links

If you scroll down the sidebar on the left a bit, below the Favorite Dandelions (website links) you'll find links to some of the blogs we read here in the meadow.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What are you good at?

From Rabbi Gellman's Newsweek column this week.

That knowledge of what God made us good at is precisely what drains out of us as we supposedly grow up. It's not that every adult has forgotten it, just most of us. It's easy to spot the ones who have not forgotten what God made them good at. They are the happy ones. They are the ones who have smile wrinkles, not frown wrinkles. One guy who did not forget said to me, "God made me good at chemistry and at hunting down sick genes." That man is Dr. James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA. One man 100 years ago this month said, "I was made good at tracing the lines that flow from God." That man was Albert Einstein. One grown-up woman who recently died said, "God made me good at doing little things with great love." That woman was Mother Teresa. Some extraordinary adults remember what all ordinary children know: the key to life is to love what God made you good at and to do what you love.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I'm watching you

you see that little counter waaaaay down there at the bottom? Not only can it count, it knows who you are. Since you people weren't commenting, I figured no one was reading. Not any more. I can find out when you visited and how long you stayed. Oh, there are some of you that don't map too well (AOL users) and there's a mystery guest from the UK. But at least I know I'm not just writing this for my own health :o)

I was supposed to go to Iowa and visit my buddy with cancer tomorrow. I have a stack of letters from his former colleagues, a few cards, and a couple of books. I got a call from his wife this afternoon telling us not to come. It seems some jackass took their sick kid to the same daycare where his kid goes. His kid caught a cold/the flu from the sick kid, and now P. has come down with it. Under these conditions, it could turn out to be a matter of serious consequence. I'll never understand why people who are sick won't stay the hell home and leave us healthy ones alone. I don't want your freakin' germs. I don't want my kids catching your freakin' germs. STAY HOME!!!
We'll figure out another time to visit. I did talk with him on the phone this evening. He sounded pretty sick. He is greatly looking forward to our visit though. I can't wait to go either. I guess it's a good thing I chickened out and didn't shave my head yet. My other buddy and I were talking about going bald before we visited since P. has lost most of his hair from the chemo. I may still chicken out...

I realize I write a lot of stuff here that isn't all that entertaining, much of it on a serious note. However, you should read Mrs. Bloom for humor. She's the yin to my yang. Her stuff is funny (well, except for that heavy thing she wrote today...). If you dig around there, you might find that I also write somewhere else with a little more levity than here. But, the other place isn't high on my priority. I much perfer this meadow.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Maine foliage update

what we're currently missing (click photo for larger, clear image)

Keep track here.

Hello, October

I'm baaaaaack. Did you miss me?

It's definitely autumn here now. One day this week, the red plum tree in the front yard suddenly dropped one-third of its leaves one night just before it got really cool. I guess we're not the only ones that need winter blankets. My early morning walks start out in the dark now. We live in the Meramec River valley and I get to see the sun break over the bluffs down by the creek that is covered with fog. The other morning, I had a quarter moon light my stroll. Very refreshing.

I got a "promotion" at work week before last. Well, it isn't really much of a change in what I do, and I get no more pay for doing it. My neck is just stretched out a little further to make it easier to chop off when things don't work right. Now instead of trying to do all the things I'm supposed to do, I have to make sure 4 or 5 other people get their crap done, too. Oh, and I get to go spend a few days in Boston, so at least there's that.

Lastly, I had my first visit to the doctor in almost 9 years today. Damn, I'm getting old. I had to lay there and get my chest wired up so she could make sure I hadn't inherited heart disease from my parents - I haven't yet :o) When I left, I had a bag of pill samples - you know - the little purple ones that make your heartburn go away. I have no idea what those 4 vials of blood are going to tell them. Hopefully, it's all good.

The Sox were swept by those idiots from Chicago tonight. I hate that town.

Friday, September 30, 2005

the end of the baseball season

Red Sox and Yankees - 2 games for all the marbles.
Go Sox!!!

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Screw You! Cancer

Got a note from my friend's wife today.

Great news! The orginal tumor is markedly decreased. There is no longer any visible involvement in his stomach or abdominal lymph nodes and the lymph node in his neck is dying, at least in the center but possibly more. We have 2 more months (4 treatments) on the same course, then we'll reasses, change the arm pic line to a clavical shunt and go from there. They're actually saying remission is a possiblity!

So, take that you s.o.b. You're not staying here.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

iPod - it's alive

must have been some mysterious battery discharge and a bad USB cable. I finally managed to bring it back.
Apple still sucks ;o)

Now, back to listening to Bob Dylan: No Direction Home soundtrack

Friday, September 23, 2005

this is me alright

Your Personality Is

Rational (NT)

You are both logical and creative. You are full of ideas.
You are so rational that you analyze everything. This drives people a little crazy!

Intelligence is important to you. You always like to be around smart people.
In fact, you're often a little short with people who don't impress you mentally.

You seem distant to some - but it's usually because you're deep in thought.
Those who understand you best are fellow Rationals.

In love, you tend to approach things with logic. You seek a compatible mate - who is also very intelligent.

At work, you tend to gravitate toward idea building careers - like programming, medicine, or academia.

With others, you are very honest and direct. People often can't take your criticism well.

As far as your looks go, you're coasting on what you were born with. You think fashion is silly.

On weekends, you spend most of your time thinking, experimenting with new ideas, or learning new things.

iPod - RIP

My iPod died sometime overnight. A short life, really. Only 4 months.
I hate Apple.
(I was smart enough to get the 3 year protection plan) :o)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Religion, politics, & the right wing

The ultra-right wing seems to think they have a monopoly on "values", religion, or even God.
Well, it just isn't so.

Check out Street Prophets to see religion and politics from the left.

Monday, September 19, 2005

but you already knew this

You are a

Social Liberal
(78% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(18% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Friday, September 16, 2005


I sit
and click
the link
to see
your pic
to read
your words
not here
not there

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I'm getting nothing here, Jerry

nothing I tell you. Absolutely nothing!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


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The first breath of autumn
blows through the trees
And the nights are getting long
and growing colder
And the maples are turning
and the fields have gone brown
And the waves against the shore
make such a sad sound
-Dan Fogelberg

There are really few words that adequately express my feelings about the state of Maine. It truly has become the place where my inner compass gets reset. After our very first visit back in 1996, I wrote in my Maine journal:
I'd always wanted to go there, mainly out of curiosity. I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea that the very foundation of my soul would be shaken by that place. It's been a year since that first visit, but not a day has passed since that I haven't thought of it. How much I want to go back there, how much I want to live there, how much I don't ever want to leave there.
This trip did nothing to change that. I have never felt more at home than I did out on that wooden sailing yacht. The water, the popping of the sails in the wind, the seabreeze blowing in your face, all conspire to bring focus and direction. Everything I do now is centered on our permanent relocation to Maine. The path is neither short nor straight, but the destination is set.

Friday, September 09, 2005


bumped back to the top
On the way back to Boothbay Harbor this a.m. Yipee!!!

It's Maine...
And it's Autumn
The birches have just begun turning
It's life and it's dying
The lobstermen's boats come returning
With the catch of they day in their holds
and the young boys cold and complaining
The fog meets the beaches and out on
the Reach it is raining --
It's father and son
It's the way it's been done since the
old days
It's hauling by hand ten miles out
from the land where their chow waits
All the days get so lonely and long
and seas grow so stormy and strong but
The Reach will sing welcome as homeward
they hurry along.
And the morning will
blow away
As the waves crash and fall
And the Reach like a siren sings
as she beckons and calls
As the coastline recedes from view
And the seas swell and roll
I will take from the Reach
all that she has to teach
To the depths of my soul –
-Dan Fogelberg, The Reach

Once again, September will find us on the coast of Maine.
Maine has become a safe harbor for me. A place where the natural order is restored once I step off the plane in Portland and get the first whiff of saltwater or hear the longing of the seagulls along the waterfront. My inner compass gets reset and the things that seemed to matter just a day before are all of a sudden reduced to their intrinsic insignificance. The smell of the pines along the bay clear out the haze and once again focus my thoughts on the journey ahead.
And when it is time to leave
the bellowing of the foghorn as the fog creeps in on cat paws,
the popping of the sails on a schooner in the harbor,
the falling of the yellow, red, and orange leaves in the woods as a winter's blanket for the trees,
the ringing of the buoy bell,
and the flashing light from the lighthouse on the island,
are all calling me to come back "home" again soon.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Two Americas

John Edwards used parts of this speech in his 2004 Presidential and Vice-Presidential campaigns
And we have so much work to do. Because the truth is, we still live in two different Americas: one for people who have lived the American Dream and don't have to worry, and another for most Americans who work hard and still struggle to make ends meet.

It doesn't have to be that way. We can build one America.

We can build one America where we no longer have two health care systems. One for people who get the best health care money can buy and then one for everybody else, rationed out by insurance companies, drug companies, and HMOs millions of Americans who don't have any health insurance at all.

It doesn't have to be that way.

We shouldn't have two public school systems in this country: one for the most affluent communities, and one for everybody else.

None of us believe that the quality of a child's education should be controlled by where they live or the affluence of their community.

It doesn't have to be that way.

We shouldn't have two different economies in America: one for people who are set for life, their kids and grandkids will be just fine, and then one for most Americans who live paycheck to paycheck.

And you know what I'm saying. You don't need me to explain it to you, you know you can't save any money, can you? Takes every dime you make just to pay your bills, and you know what happens if something goes wrong a child gets sick, somebody gets laid off, or there's a financial problem, you go right off the cliff.

And what's the first thing to go. Your dreams. It doesn't have to be that way.

Now I have friends who told me that the Two Americas idea was just a load of political nonsense. Of course they would say that. I'm pretty sure most of them have never seen the "other" America from the comfort of their small town or sterile suburb. Oh, they think they know. They'll hear the buzzwords of welfare mom, or food stamps, or Medicaid and then go into some rant about how "those people" are too lazy to get a job. Well this past week, the "other" America showed up in their living rooms in the faces of the thousands of people too poor to have a car in which to escape or enough money to pay for gas and a hotel room on the way out of town. The "other" America was shown living in squalor inside a sporting arena on every single news channel. But those who refuse to acknowledge the Two Americas focused on the few thugs whose opportunistic crime sprees gained airtime. "That's just how 'those people' are." Those who refuse to acknowledge the Two Americas watched Hardy Jackson break down as he described having to let go of his wife as the storm surge ripped their house in half, and then had the nerve to say that Hardy should have left town sooner.

Katrina has brought a much needed spotlight on the "other" America. People all over the country have opened up their wallets to help those in need, because that's what Americans do. But this is the face of the "other" America. It won't vanish whenever the last family leaves the shelter and disappears back into anonymity in another city, in another state, in the "other" America. They will still be there wondering why it takes a natural disaster for anyone to notice, or to care.

Like all of us, I have learned a lot of lessons in my life. Two of the most important are that first, there will always be heartache and struggle. You can't make it go away. But the other is that people of good and strong will, can make a difference. One lesson is a sad lesson and the other's inspiring. We are Americans and we choose to be inspired.

We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems; optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what's right even when those around us say, "You can't do that." We choose to be inspired because we know that we can do better because this is America where everything is still possible.

What we believe is that you should never look down on anybody, that we should lift people up. We don't believe in tearing people apart. We believe in bringing people together. What we believe what I believe is that the family you're born into and the color of your skin in our America should never control your destiny.

Labor Day

June 28, 1894

An Act Making Labor Day a legal holiday.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the first Monday of September in each year, being the day celebrated and known as Labor's Holiday, is hereby made a legal public holiday, to all intents and purposes, in the same manner as Christmas, the first day of January, the twenty-second day of February, the thirtieth day of May, and the fourth day of July are now made by law public holidays.

APPROVED, June 28, 1894.

"It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership -- the American worker."

Labor Day was declared a national holiday in 1894. It is a tribute to people like my grandparents and great-grandparents - the sharecroppers, the farmers, the linemen, the cabinet makers, and soldiers of The Greatest Generation. Each and every one of them working hard every day to provide a better life for their children. And in passing down the ethics of a hard day's work, they've ensured that each generation that has come after them has indeed had a better life than those before. So on this day, I think about my forefathers who worked hard each day to make this a better place.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Louisiana 1927 (or 2005)

lyrics by Randy Newman

What has happened down here, is the winds have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
It rained real hard, and it rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

The river rose all day, the river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood, some people got away alright
The river had busted through clear down to Placker Mine
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline

Louisiana, Louisiana
They're trying to wash us away, they're trying to wash us away
Oh Louisiana, Louisiana
They're trying to wash us away, they're trying to wash us away

President Coolidge come down, in a railroad train
With his little fat man with a note pad in his hand
President say "little fat man, oh isn't it a shame,
What the river has done to this poor farmer's land"

Oh Louisiana, Louisiana
They're trying to wash us away, you're trying to wash us away
Oh Louisiana, oh Louisiana
They're trying to wash us away, oh Lord, they're trying to wash us away
They're trying to wash us away, they're trying to wash us away

American Red Cross

Thursday, September 01, 2005

For the people of New Orleans

Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans
by Louis Armstrong

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss her each night and day
I know I'm not wrong because the feeling's
Getting stronger the longer I stay away

Miss the moss-covered vines, tall sugar pines
Where mockingbirds used to sing
I'd love to see that old lazy Mississippi
Running in the spring

Moonlight on the bayous
Creole tunes fill the air
I dream about magnolias in June
And I'm wishin I was there

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
When that's where you left your heart
And there's one thing more, I miss the one I care for
More than I miss New Orleans
may God bless the people of New Orleans

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Thomas Paine and Bob Dylan

Thomas Paine from The Rights of Man
Bob Dylan from Chimes of Freedom

The revolution of America presented in politics what was only theory in mechanics. So deeply rooted were all the governments of the old world, and so effectually had the tyranny and the antiquity of habit established itself over the mind, that no beginning could be made in Asia, Africa, or Europe, to reform the political condition of man. Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think.

But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, — and all it wants, — is the liberty of appearing. The sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from darkness; and no sooner did the American governments display themselves to the world, than despotism felt a shock and man began to contemplate redress.

Far between sundown's finish an' midnight's broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An' for each an' ev'ry underdog soldier in the night
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

As America was the only spot in the political world where the principle of universal reformation could begin, so also was it the best in the natural world. An assemblage of circumstances conspired, not only to give birth, but to add gigantic maturity to its principles. The scene which that country presents to the eye of a spectator, has something in it which generates and encourages great ideas. Nature appears to him in magnitude. The mighty objects he beholds, act upon his mind by enlarging it, and he partakes of the greatness he contemplates. — Its first settlers were emigrants from different European nations, and of diversified professions of religion, retiring from the governmental persecutions of the old world, and meeting in the new, not as enemies, but as brothers. The wants which necessarily accompany the cultivation of a wilderness produced among them a state of society, which countries long harassed by the quarrels and intrigues of governments, had neglected to cherish. In such a situation man becomes what he ought. He sees his species, not with the inhuman idea of a natural enemy, but as kindred; and the example shows to the artificial world, that man must go back to Nature for information.

In the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin' rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

From the rapid progress which America makes in every species of improvement, it is rational to conclude that, if the governments of Asia, Africa, and Europe had begun on a principle similar to that of America, or had not been very early corrupted therefrom, those countries must by this time have been in a far superior condition to what they are. Age after age has passed away, for no other purpose than to behold their wretchedness. Could we suppose a spectator who knew nothing of the world, and who was put into it merely to make his observations, he would take a great part of the old world to be new, just struggling with the difficulties and hardships of an infant settlement. He could not suppose that the hordes of miserable poor with which old countries abound could be any other than those who had not yet had time to provide for themselves. Little would he think they were the consequence of what in such countries they call government.

Even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An' for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look
Spellbound an' swallowed 'til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse
An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretences for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey, and permits none to escape without a tribute.

As revolutions have begun (and as the probability is always greater against a thing beginning, than of proceeding after it has begun), it is natural to expect that other revolutions will follow. The amazing and still increasing expenses with which old governments are conducted, the numerous wars they engage in or provoke, the embarrassments they throw in the way of universal civilisation and commerce, and the oppression and usurpation acted at home, have wearied out the patience, and exhausted the property of the world. In such a situation, and with such examples already existing, revolutions are to be looked for. They are become subjects of universal conversation, and may be considered as the Order of the day.

My paper is finished!!! - update below

I finally finished the reviewer-suggested revisions for my latest paper. Tomorrow it will be submitted and accepted shortly thereafter. Since some of TG's writer friends appear to be obsessed with word counts, I post this in their honor

Zokutou word meter
4,711 / 4,600

This paper describes the molecular details of how protein toxins active against certain insects (including mosquitos) rearrange their shape to interact with the gut membranes of their target insects which eventually leads to dead insects. The paper is going to appear in a special edition of Proteins: Structure, Function, & Bioinformatics dedicated to my first postdoctoral advisor on the occasion of his 65th birthday. I also decided to dedicate the paper to my recently deceased 2nd postdoctoral advisor who was a dedicated mentor and colleague.

Update - the acceptance letter arrived

Dear Dr. S:

I am pleased to inform you that your manuscript entitled "The
role of a conserved histidine-tyrosine interhelical interaction
in the ion channel domain of [[delta]]-endotoxins from
Bacillus thuringiensis" has been accepted for publication
in the next available issue of PROTEINS: Structure, Function,
and Bioinformatics.

Congratulations on submitting such an excellent study.


Ed Lattman

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Stones

The greatest rock and roll band of all time will be here in January. I missed out on them the last time they were here because I thought the tickets were too expensive - dumb, dumb, dumb. I vowed that if they came back, I would pay whatever the price to see Mick and the boys. Well, tickets went on sale this a.m. to the general public. By the time I remembered, the only tickets left were $95 and at the side of the stage in the middle deck (limited view) or the $160 or $350 seats also at the side of the stage, but supposedly not limited view. My only hope now is that they add yet another show here the next night since this one effectively sold out just after tickets went on sale. I really, really want to see the Stones before they die :o)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Reader participation survey

make yourself known (in the comments section).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thomas Paine & Woody Guthrie

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.

I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

A continual circulation of lies among those who are not much in the way of hearing them contradicted, will in time pass for truth; and the crime lies not in the believer but the inventor. I am not for declaring war with every man that appears not so warm as myself: difference of constitution, temper, habit of speaking, and many other things, will go a great way in fixing the outward character of a man, yet simple honesty may remain at bottom. Some men have naturally a military turn, and can brave hardships and the risk of life with a cheerful face; others have not; no slavery appears to them so great as the fatigue of arms, and no terror so powerful as that of personal danger. What can we say? We cannot alter nature, neither ought we to punish the son because the father begot him in a cowardly mood. However, I believe most men have more courage than they know of, and that a little at first is enough to begin with. I knew the time when I thought that the whistling of a cannon ball would have frightened me almost to death; but I have since tried it, and find that I can stand it with as little discomposure, and, I believe, with a much easier conscience than your lordship. The same dread would return to me again were I in your situation, for my solemn belief of your cause is, that it is hellish and damnable, and, under that conviction, every thinking man's heart must fail him.

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

A bad cause will ever be supported by bad means and bad men; and whoever will be at the pains of examining strictly into things, will find that one and the same spirit of oppression and impiety, more or less, governs through your whole party in both countries: not many days ago, I accidentally fell in company with a person of this city noted for espousing your cause, and on my remarking to him, "that it appeared clear to me, by the late providential turn of affairs, that God Almighty was visibly on our side," he replied, "We care nothing for that you may have Him, and welcome; if we have but enough of the devil on our side, we shall do." However carelessly this might be spoken, matters not, 'tis still the insensible principle that directs all your conduct and will at last most assuredly deceive and ruin you.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Stone walls

I built a stone wall today (that's not it in the photo). Well, a "wall" actually implies something large. I'm not certain that a "wall" around a semi-circular shade garden qualifies. This small garden surrounds the large Bradford pear tree just off the deck. Nothing grows in this sunless spot, so I made it into a shade garden. It's always been in dire need of something to hold it in. Plastic edging was the choice the first year. It lasted about a year and a half. The last half of the season last year and this summer the garden has had no walls. As a result, it hasn't had much in the way of plants either - you know, kids, erosion, varmints...

So, as the growing season winds down, I've prepared this latest object of my affection for next year. Now, the premade, concrete blocks of all the same size and shape are of no use to me. No, I need stone carved in shapes by the hands of God himself. So, we set off to the nursery to get just that. Well, I settled for some stones that had been modified ever so slightly by a Missouri road crew. These stones are rectangular in shape, but with enough crooked edges to give them character. They are a nice weathered shade of gray which allows them to stand out just enough, but not too much in the shade.

Building a stone wall is a rather relaxing endeavor - even in the 100 degree heat and humidity of late summer. Digging the border, getting it just level enough to match the uneven contour of each stone, finding just the right match for the next spot so that there are no gaping holes. It's all quite therapeutic. No one builds real stone walls anymore. You get the Home Depot precast squares, all the same sterile color and shape. Sometimes you see a 100+ year old stone wall in a field in New England. These days, most houses are fenced by some nasty-looking wooden privacy fence, or a white picket fence made of, you guessed it, vinyl. Awful. Wouldn't life be much better if everyone had a stone wall instead? Imagine being able to enjoy your neighbor's garden, and their neighbors' flowers, too. Robert Frost said that good fences make good neighbors. I suspect he had stone walls in mind.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Any day, any place, any person

If I could choose to spend any day in history at any place with any person, it would be September 21, 1941 at Fenway Park in Boston with my PaPa S. watching the Red Sox play the damn Yankees. Since I technically haven't been born, I would choose to be the magical age of 10. We sit out in right field, just beyond Pesky's Pole (even though it isn't known as that at this time). He is wearing a Yankees hat and pulling for his favorite team. I am decked out in a Red Sox cap and teasing him about his team. I tell him that Ted Williams is a much better player than Joe DiMaggio, and he just scoffs, "you don't believe such a thing." He reminds me that Joltin' Joe hit in 56 straight games earlier in the season. I counter with Teddy Ballgame hitting over .400 for the season. We eat at least two bags of warm peanuts. He shells them for me and I eat them faster than he can crack them. He scolds me to slow down so he can have some, too. He tells me what is going to happen on the field before it does, and he is usually right. However, in the 5th inning, he says that Williams is going to strike out. "No way, Papa, he's going to hit a homerun." Sure enough, the pitch ends up out in right field, 3 rows away from us. Teddy Ballgame drives in 2 runs. The Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-1. My team wins and I'm excited. And even though PaPa has been a Yankees fan his whole life, he's glad that my team won today anyway. We get on the bus and ride back to his home glad that we could spend another day at the ballpark together.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Your life is good

We spent the weekend in downtown Chicago. It was intended to be a birthday trip for the kids. It turned out to be an eye-opening experience.

Our hotel was next to Neiman Marcus on N. Michigan Ave. also known as The Magnificent Mile. As we were leaving the hotel on Friday afternoon to have dinner, we passed a homeless man sitting on the marble window ledge of Neiman Marcus. He was just sitting not talking to anyone. He simply had a cardboard sign that said, "just hungry. God bless you." There was a coffee cup sitting in front of him with some change in it. As we passed, we noted the rich irony of having to beg for change in Neiman Marcus' marble window ledge with a mannequin wearing an $850 outfit watching over your shoulder.

The next morning, we headed out to the American Girl Place store for McK's birthday trip. This same man was lying on this ledge asleep with his head propped up on some rolled up bags. He slept there all night. He smelled awful when you walked by as well. I couldn't help but think how I had just walked out of a very nice hotel that is $200+ a night, heading to a store where dolls are $100+ each, and here was this man who was sleeping on the street. On the way back to the hotel, he was eating what was obviously someone's leftovers from the pizza joint next door. Whether someone gave them to him, or he dug them out of the garbage, I have no idea. I dropped whatever change I had in my pocket at the time in his cup, probably just to assuage my own guilt.

Yesterday when we were taking a last stroll up Michigan Ave., we saw a homeless lady gathering all the Starbuck's cups out of a trashcan and pouring the leftover contents into a single cup. McK asked what she was doing. TG had to explain it to her. These things are incomprehensible to a 7 year old whose whole life has been suburban bliss.

I can't stop thinking about that man in the Neiman Marcus window. I came home vowing not to complain anymore about my very blessed lot in life. If you're reading this on a computer in the comfort of your own home, then you probably shouldn't either.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Michael J. Fox is my cousin

Really, he is. I swear. We don't call him that of course. In our circle, he just goes by Alex. You know, Alex P. Keaton. My cousin has never driven a Delorean masquerading as a time machine, only an orange Vega stationwagon. I am also pretty certain that he's never been deputy mayor of New York. But he is just as funny as Michael J. Fox nonetheless.

He was born on this day 38 years ago - a meager 17 months after I made my appearance. A cousin by lineage, a brother by heart. As far back as I can remember, we were inseparable. That is until I had to move away from home to get on with life. Once I moved away, we used to write letters all the time - you know, the way people communicated before the internet was in every home and people had blogs. Of course, we never addressed our letters to each other using our birth names. No, we made up stupid stuff like "Stymie's Home for Orphan Midget Wrestler's" or "Larry Sausage's Truck Stop Temporaries." I'm sure we caused more than one mailman to take a double take when delivering our mail.

I called him tonight to wish him happy birthday and to tell him to enjoy it while he can because when he hits 39, body parts are going to start falling off the man.
There are so many good things to remember about the times we spent together. Now, we didn't end up marrying twins and living next door to each other with a secret tunnel that joined our two houses. That is probably a good thing. But I wouldn't count out the cross-country Winnebago tour whenever we hit 75 and retire.

Happy birthday, Alex.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


There was change in the air this week. The calendar rolled over to August which means that there's still ample sauna weather here in the midwest. However, the hints of the change to come are starting to show themselves, if you're inclined to notice them. The Purple Coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans have gone to seed inviting the yellow finches to light and have a late summer meal. All of the daisies have gone the way of "she loves me, she loves me not," and the still-green leaves are storing up food for the long winter's rest. The shadows of the sun are longer earlier in the evening while the song of the cicada serenades the children to sleep. But the surest sign yet of the coming cool breezes was not so quiet in arriving. On Tuesday, I saw the first flock of Canada geese land on the pond in a nearby subdivision. Yes, winter's guests have started arriving for the season. It won't be long before the chill in the morning air brings out the L.L. Bean field coat for the season. Shorts will be packed away yet again, and autumn will be in full firey display. Thank God...

Thursday, August 04, 2005


My very good friend M. took this photo. Isn't she wonderful?
Boats on the River Avon in England

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bouncing Bush

now this is just hours of fun. I particularly like it when he gets caught with his head up his arse, sorta like he runs the country.

Friday, July 29, 2005


The events of the past week have convinced me that life is just one big rollercoaster. One minute finds you down at the bottom of the hill - like when you find out one of your close friends has cancer. In the next, you're back at the top of the hill whenever you find out it hasn't spread to his lungs meaning he has a fighting chance. Every day, every month, every year is just a fast ride from one peak to the next valley. It almost makes you think things would be much better if your life ride was more like the end of a big wooden rollercoaster - Baby Bear hills that give you just the right thrills. But at some point you realize that if you want to appreciate the sunshine, you have to endure a little rain. You learn to appreciate the highs, and fight through the lows. At some point if you happen to be fortunate, someone gets to share your coaster with you. Together you hold your collective breath as you top the next hill and then let out a scream as you crash through the next valley. And all too soon, you realize that no matter how many peaks and troughs come your way, this ride is moving so fast. So, you hold on tight to your traveling companion and give thanks for the chance to ride.

Never give up, P.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A kick in the gut

It's cliche that life isn't fair. Most days, that cliche applies to someone else. But one day, the law of averages will catch up with you and give you a good hard kick in the gut. Today was that day.

I got an email today from a former co-worker, colleague, and friend. He's been diagnosed with an advanced form of a rare cancer and it may have already spread. He said that the outlook wasn't great with only a 30% five-year survival rate. P. is just a bit younger than me. He just became a father for the first time this spring, a son. This is so fucking unfair. I so badly want to be angry, but I don't know at whom I should be pissed. Tonight, I'm just heartbroken.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

For my wife

Each day through my window I watch her as she passes by.
I say to myself, "You're such a lucky guy."
To have a girl like her
is truly a dream come true.
Out of all of the fellas in the world
she belongs to you...
- the Temptations

It's been utterly amazing watching you grow over the last 17 years. From teenager, to wife, to successful career woman, to mother. I have been truly blessed to be allowed to hold your hand along the way. And now, as you stand on the cusp of a long and successful writing career, I'm standing here holding your hand in eager anticipation of where this journey will take us still.

Thank you for allowing me to accompany you on the ride.

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 8

Today, mommy returns to the fold. The anticipation is bubbling through the house.
The happy beat of 1960s r&b is bouncing throughout the house - the Temptations, anyone? "I've got sunshine, on a cloudy day..."

After we get the house clean, we head out to the party store to pick up a few balloons to finish decorating the house. Yesterday, we made a big "welcome home, mommy!" poster to hang inside the door so she'll see it right as she comes in. Last night we made a trip to the bookstore to get Mommy a welcome home present - a lap desk and a book on writing. She's wanted a lap desk to work on for a while. We thought it was appropriate after returning from a writing conference.

Back from the party store. Wrap the presents, hang the banner, and decorate the house. Chill out the rest of the day watching the AA website to make sure they're going to get mommy back home in time.

Analysis of the week: All in all it was very good. Grandmommy and PaPa provided a welcome distraction and kept us busy. Thanks for coming! When they weren't here, we managed to keep ourselves busy and without too much acrimony. Having TG gone for 8 days also reinforced just how much we love her and need her. More importantly, it has given us motivation for making sure that she has a highly successful writing career. Her dream is our dream.

Most interesting development of the week: KJ has decided that he will now adress himself by name. "Daddy, KJ wants to go outside. KJ needs to go potty. KJ wants a peanut butter sandwich for lunch." Too funny.

number of "I want my mommy," or "when is mommy coming home" for the week: 44

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 7

Today's the last full day without mommy - hallelujah!!!

A pretty lite day. Went and got a haircut for myself and KJ. He wanted spikey hair, so we got it. He liked it, and then when we got home, he didn't want it anymore.
Mowed the lawn so I won't have to do it on the weekend. The kids played in the water sprinkler when I was done with the backyard. When I finished, I joined them in the sprinkler and the watergun fights.

After getting cleaned up from the water escapades, got a call from mommy. Unfortuantely, the webcam on site wasn't working, so we didn't get to see her. Headed off to Fritz's for an afternoon ice cream.

Back home to clean up and get ready for Mommy to return!!!

McK got her mouth washed out with soap for trying to get her little brother to say, "ass." I bet she learned that from Avril Lavigne.

two memorable quotes from today:

KJ: Did Santa Claus land on the roof and take Mommy to the airport? Well, did the airplane land on our house and pick her up?

and this exchange:

Dad: I can't wait for Mommy to come home tomorrow.
McK: Why?
Dad: I'm going to hug her and kiss her and hug her some more.
McK: She's going to be tired, Daddy.

number of "I want my Mommy" today: 4

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 6

We're on the homestretch now, baby. Day after tomorrow and Mommy will be back home!!!

Grandmommy and PaPa left very early this a.m. Of course, I woke up to let them out around 5:15, but then couldn't go back to sleep. The other two in the house really have gotten the hang of sleeping well past 7 a.m. Mommy should be quite appreciative of this little development :o)

Had lunch at East Coast Pizza since they've been dying to eat there all week and the grownups kept poo-pooing that idea. After lunch, it was off to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the megascreen theater. It was a hit. We played a few games of skeeball after the movie and won just enough tickets to get 2 cheap trinket toys each for the ride home.

Got home and Mommy had some free time so she called - yea!!! Had a nice chat with her. She's very tired, but has had a great time. We know she's on the way to being very big. We'll say we knew her when...

Tonight should be uneventful. We'll watch Big Brother and tape it for Mommy and then off to bed. Tomorrow is the last full day for Mommy to be gone!!!

Number of "I miss Mommy" today: 5

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 5

I think everyone has settled in to sleeping past 7 finally. I was the first one awake today at my usual time of 6:15 - uuuugggh. Today we had a heck of a time deciding on the "fun thing" we were going to do today. Took the recycles to the recycling center - went by myself - yea!!! Had to run some errands to get some stuff from the hardware store.

Had lunch at home and then headed downtown to show Grandmommy and PaPa the new Cardinals' stadium being built and then off to the Science Center to see the new Science of the Circus exhibit. I pretty much looked like a fool trying to do the contortionist routine of cramming my fat butt into a 2 cubic foot box. Oh, my aching back... The kids had fun in the circus costume dress up area. Darn it, I left the camera at home. *extreme angry face* Apparently, none of us are good at identifying the circus animal by the poop they make - well, everyone gets the elephant!

We're cooking out tonight and then having an impromptu birthday part for KJ & McK.

Grandmommy and PaPa go home in the morning and then it'll just be the 3 of us.

"Daddy, what 'fun thing' are we going to do today?"
I think we'll just sit around and cry for mommy for the next 3 days...

number of "when is mommy coming home?" today: 7 - and they were all MINE!!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 4

Halfway to getting mommy back home - double yipee!!!
Now, please, don't get us wrong. We're glad mommy is off learning how to be an even better writer. We're just not a whole family when she's not around and that kinda stinks.

Everyone slept late this a.m. - well except me. KJ was in until 7:30 and McK until 8:00. Must have worn them out in the heat yesterday.

"Grandmommy, we can go to Six Flags today" :o)
"Well, then Grandmommy, Grant's Farm is open and we can go there."

PaPa cooked breakfast today - donuts from the grocery store. They were a big hit.

Went to Grant's Farm. Saw the Clydesdales. Dad cooked lunch - at the Bread Company :o)
Came home and took a nap - very good.

Dad and Grandmommy cooked dinner. Little boy tried cucumbers for the first time - and liked them - yeah, KJ!!! Off to Fritz's for ice cream.

Mommy tried to call, but the cell reception there sucks. Dying all day to hear how her day went.

number of "I want mommy" today: 7

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 3

"Hey, sissy, go wake up Grandmommy and PaPa."
"Daddy, KJ's trying to get me to wake them up."

Got up, lounged around, had breakfast.
Took Grandmommy and PaPa to the zoo. "It's too hot."
"You said you were going to take us out for lunch."

Got another email from mommy. She's having fun without us. We're not sure how to feel about that. We've decided it's good, but only for a week. :o)

The live ladybug larvae arrived today. We got to put them in their little "Ladybug Garden." We'll get to watch them turn into ladybird beetles over the next couple of weeks and then release them into the flower garden. Yipee!!!

KJ slammed his big toe on the door while wearing his new flip-flops. Massive blood squirting. Major crying, several "I want my mommys." Two Shrek bandaids and lots of reassurance and all is well. Well, except for not being mommy...

Off to the bookstore. I think birthday presents are in the cards. Since we had a late lunch, we had a late dinner at the weekly favorite, Red Robin.

Off to bed - thus ends day 3.

number of "I want my mommys" today: 8 (not counting the 10+ during the "toe episode")

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 2

Slept late today - well, if 7:30 is ever considered late.
I had to mow the yard this a.m. so the kids got to play outside. I didn't even finish before they were ready to go inside - "it's too hot!" I can't believe it. When I was a kid, I went outside right after breakfast and didn't come in until dinner time. What a bunch of wimps.

"Dad, you promised to take us to MacDonald's last night, but we didn't go. Take us there for lunch."

Cleaning, fighting, more cleaning, "Sissy said I never get to play with her again." Cry, cry, cry. "She's not lying, she just said it..." Grandmommy and PaPa will be here soon. You'll forget all about it.

Mommy called - hooray!!! Finally got her luggage. Now, she won't stink. Called mommy back to get recipe help.

Grandmommy and PaPa arrived.

Cooked dinner, burned melted feta on bottom of skillet. Mommy never does that. Tasted OK, not as good as mommy's.

Had to call mommy back to make sure she took KJ's rollercoaster book. Major crying fit.

off to bed.

number of "I want mommy to come home" today: 3

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Chronicles of Mr. Mom - Day 1

My babies' mother left today for a week long writer's conference. Here are the daily musings of daddy spending 24/7 with the kids while mommy is away.

4:30 a.m. is early, but then the flight leaves early. I can't go back to sleep while T. gets ready to leave. Her traveling companion arrives a bit early, and after hugs, kisses, and goodbye, they're off. I'm not sure I ever got back to sleep before I heard little boy's door open at 6:15 and his sister arise shortly after. Such is the life...

First crying for mommy by KJ, 7:44 a.m. about the time her flight is scheduled to leave.

"Oh, daddy's exercising. That's just what Mommy does while you're at work."

Off to the friends' birthday party. "hey, A, my mommy's on a trip." Waterballoon fights, cake, ice cream and then back home to play. Called mommy's cell phone and left her a message.

Back to that same friend's house for a cookout and Monsters, Inc. The wives decided that all the husbands should have the kids and they could go out. Like we care. When we're done there, it's back home and to bed. The end of Day 1. Grandmommy and PaPa arrive tomorrow...

number of "when is mommy coming home?" today: 0

Monday, July 11, 2005

The million dollar experiment

I want to start the next Genentech. I have the idea that will revolutionize the way proteins are used as therapeutics. I can create proteins that have never before existed. Unfortunately, none of that will get you the money necessary to start a biotech company. In this day and age, you have to have a drug candidate in-hand before anyone will give you the money. With that, I've been told I can immediately get one million dollars and be off and running.

So, it all boils down to this: I have to do "the million dollar experiment..."

Friday, July 08, 2005

childhood friends

The recent trip home gave me pause to think about my best friend from childhood. I guess it started as we approached Shamrock, TX - that's where he was born. As we drove through Amarillo, I tried to remember how to get to his house. When we got out past the city, I saw a cemetery and wondered if that's where he was buried.

The last I saw of him was a picture in a newspaper clipping. The small photo showed an angry young man. He had robbed a series of banks and when he was finally caught, he shot himself and died. In the newspaper, he looked like a monster. However, I know better. He wasn't a monster, he was my best friend.

We met at the same church back when we were little kids. He and I were the same age and I suppose we met in a Sunday School class. At church, we were inseparable. We played on the same basketball team, we ran track together, and we always sat together during the service. I can still remember the times that we would have a sleepover. I'm pretty sure we asked every Sunday night after church during the summers. We would always spend part of our days dumpster digging - walking down the alleys looking in the dumpsters for good crap someone else decided to throw away. The stuff we dragged back to the house was enough to drive our mothers crazy. Another thing that we did was build a volcano garden in his backyard. We would get vitamin bottles and put them on the ground and then pile the dirt around them like mountains. We'd then put baking soda in them. Once we had them all set, we'd pour a little vinegar in the bottle and watch the volcano "explode." The solution that ran over would make little pock marks in the dirt making it look like volcanic rock. He and I were fans of the Dallas Cowboys - who wasn't in the 70s? We would take our quarters and run down to the corner 7-11 and buy a package of football cards each. After that, it was comparison of the collections and trading. "I'll give you my extra Roger Staubach for your extra Bob Griese." I used to carry a small scar on the inside of my left forearm where on one of our sleepovers, we decided to become blood brothers. We both made a tiny cut on our arms and then held them together for a minute or two to allow our blood to mix.

His dad was transferred whenever he was 10 and they moved to Amarillo. He came back to visit once or twice after that, and I think we made one or two trips to see them. I also remember writing a few times, although with boys, that is usually a shaky proposition. We pretty much lost touch after elementary school although I did think of him often. I guess I'll always think of him whenever I make that long drive back home through Shamrock and Amarillo. I'll probably wonder if things might have turned out differently if we had managed to keep in touch.

He was a good kid. He was my best friend. You never again have friends like the ones you have whenever you're 10...

We played king of the mountain out on the end
The world come chargin' up the hill, and we were women and men
Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride and chances we gotta take
We stood side by side each one fightin' for the other
We said until we died we'd always be blood brothers

Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away
Makin' a fool's joke out of the promises we make
And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray
We lose ourselves in work to do and bills to pay
And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover
With no one runnin' by your side my blood brother

On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
Always movin' ahead and never lookin' back
Now I don't know how I feel, I don't know how I feel tonight
If I've fallen 'neath the wheel, if I've lost or I've gained sight
I don't even know why, I don't why I made this call
Or if any of this matters anymore after all

But the stars are burnin' bright like some mystery uncovered
I'll keep movin' through the dark with you in my heart
My blood brother
-Springsteen "Blood Brothers"