Thursday, August 30, 2007

End of August wrap up

Doug has been hounding Angie for photos of the Bristol weekend. Here's a link. The weekend was good. Read about it on Angie's blog.

On Tuesday, I took Edison to his orthodontist appointment. He's in getting his teeth cranked. I've read the Sports Illustrated and I've read all the Car and Driver magazines on previous visits. A few patients come in. Then one walks in. The women at the front desk rush around the patient. I only see her from the back, but then I hear her voice. A few minutes later, Edison comes out, just beaming.

"Did you see who that was, Dad?"

I ask the front desk women if all the stars come to Dr. H's office to get their teeth cleaned. Yes, as a matter of fact, they do. One of them asks if Edison would like to meet her. He grins a "yes."

They usher us back the hall. I push Edison's hair back down and remind him to be polite. Then, we're brought in to see her. Pat Summit. Around here, she's a legend. And she should be. She was very gracious and kind. She asked where Edison attended school and then commented that it was a good school. She shook our hands and answered a few questions about next year's team. She said that she's excited about the four new freshman girls that will be joining the team. That individual practices are going on, but that her staff is running those, but she watches when she can. She invited us to come out and see the team this year. All this while she was wearing a dentistry bib.

I didn't say anything stupid and Edison was very well behaved. What more could you want.

The folks are here for a few more days. Had to help dad get a new battery for their car on Tuesday. But, he's helped me with so much...

It rained last night.

So, that's the wrap up for the end of August. Life is still good.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Savoring Books

From Merriam-Webster's website, I find that a definition for savor is:

2a :
to have experience of :TASTE b : to taste or smell with pleasure : RELISH c : to delight in : ENJOY

I've enjoyed reading for many years. Sometimes I read just to finish a book, though. "Well, it was a gift, I should read it." "It has been at the top of the bestseller's list for 2 months. I should read it." "So-and-so said that it was a must read. I should read it." That shouldn't be the reason to read. I'm trying to learn to put a book down when it isn't worth reading. I should have learned that before. Richard Grindal's Tartan Conspiracy comes to mind, as does Thomas Hoving's Masterpiece. Thomas Hoving has written some very nice books, but Masterpiece is not one of them.

Today I finished reading Malba Tahan's The Man Who Counted. What wonderful story telling. "Details are story-material," a friend recently said. There are fantastic details in this book. Not details like in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (the description of the cathedral door was overkill), but details that flesh out the story. That make it a fun read. That make you want to savor it.

Malba Tahan's book is very readable. No, it isn't only a math book, but you get a lot of math in it. If you like number puzzles, then this is for you. You've heard some of them before. And others are fresh, even though they were written many years ago. The book is so readable, I might have been able to read it at one sitting, had I not been sick this past week and fallen asleep with it in my hands. I'm glad it took me the whole week. I was able to savor it.

Instead of reading the next few books that I've selected for myself I'm going to try to read chapters of old book 'friends.' I've started to read the chapter about Tom Bombadil from Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. I want to read essays by Mark Twain. Not a whole book of them, just some. I want to read some short stories by O. Henry, particularly The Ransom of Red-Chief. My father-in-law loves it. I've heard him retell the story 3 or 4 times. But I've never read it. I want to read the poetry of John Donne. To enjoy it.

Right now, I'm going to be finishing Walter Wangerin, Jr.'s The Book of God. I just finished the part where King Solomon dies and then it goes into the Prophets. I reread the first few pages of the book tonight. Good details. Good storytelling. I'll be savoring that one for a while.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

No Bake Cookies

The other day, Angie made some No Bake Cookies. They were the best batch that she made in quite a while. Just the right consistency. Fantastic.

My Life is Good.

Thanks, Angie.

I love you.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bass Guitar

I play bass guitar. I'm guessing that I first picked up a bass guitar in about 1976. I had played cello since the 4th grade, then I learned upright bass in junior high school. Then I filled in on bass guitar for a few musicals. Thank you, George Slosson. I changed high schools at the beginning of my junior year. The new high school didn't have an orchestra, but did have a great stage band. I did play cello on one cut of an album that we recorded in the Phoenix area. My senior year, I got a Kay bass guitar. It was a Precision style. It wasn't that good, but it was mine. I put it too good use that year. We played a lot of shows, at the Officer's Club on Ft. Huachuca, Tombstone's Centennial Ball, Arizona State Fair, HS productions, weddings and the like. Thank you, Coach Klein. That was some of the best musical training a person could get. Then to college, where I played in the B Jazz Band. Then off to other places. I've been in quite a few pick up bands. Practice, do a gig, split. Don't practice, do a gig, split. I moved to Illinois in the mid 1980s. I played with the church youth choir. Then I found a 1983 Fender P bass. I think that it was in a music store on 95th Street. Great price. It was mine. It was a nice bass. That's how I met Angie. Playing bass. She was the piano player/musical director for Community Christian Church, a new church plant in Naperville, IL. Doug played guitar. Doug asked me to join the band. But that is another story. I had that bass until about 2000 or so. Then it was stolen. From church, no less. The insurance company replaced it, sort of. I had some custom work done to it, and it was rather unique. They don't make them like that any more. So, I got another Fender. California series. It is a combo of a P and J bass. I like it.

Start edit. Yes, I still play. Our church has two bands. I'm playing for both of them. One is more "Gaither" oriented, but getting in the 1990s now. Brass and woodwinds, piano, keyboard, acoustic and electric guitars, drum kit, but still reserved. The other band, the "Acoustic Band" features more of a Hillsongs feel. Acoustic and electric guitars, piano, keyboard, drumkit. But it has a rockier feel. End edit.

I found a few videos on YouTube featuring bass players. Here they are in no particular order. But the order is... Bill Clements (the one handed bass player), Tony Levin (improv with Phil Keaggy and Jerry Marotta), then Victor Wooten (Amazing Grace).


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Short story

I wrote this short story back in high school for a creative writing class. That was either 1979 or 1980. It was published in the high school literary magazine, Andromeda, in 1981. I rediscovered it last night while looking for my copy of The Lord of the Rings.

The Quota

The mobile guillotine slid down the street. The metal sluices shined in the early morning light. The police had to get their weekly quota, and they were still 237 short. If they didn't make it, the force made up the remainder.

The guillotine was used for such offenses as jaywalking, spitting on the sidewalk, and other misdemeanors. It replaced the chamber--quicker, cleaner, and generally more efficient.

Its photo-electric eye spotted someone leaning on a sign. It sped up to the loiterer, told him the charge, and asked him to lie down flat. The culprit, knowing that he had no other choice, lay down and it was over in an instant. The head was put into a collection box on the corner, and the body dropped into a incinerator nearby.

"Only 236 more," screeched the voice speaker in the police lounge.

"God Bless! Its Thursday and 236 more to go by Saturday midnight," gruffed the commander. "We haven't been this far behind since that one week in '93."

"Yeah, think maybe we could pick some of 'em up, Binky, huh?" asked a sergeant of his commander.

Binky slowly smiled. "Yes, yes. It looks like we'll have to get them one way or another. Too bad."

The electronic listening device sent this and all other conversations to the main computer. It was listened to and then sent to the data bank for police corruption.

After listening to it many times and analyzing voice inflection and sincerity, the computer commissioned a force of guillotines to the station.

Listed in the file for the weekly quota: "Due to the abundance of criminals this week, there will be no need to send out the mobile guillotines next week."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Not a Fan of the Fan, but a Fan of the Man

Here's a story about my ceiling fan. There used to be a light fixture. It came with the house, but it wasn't quite us. So I took it out, with the intention of putting up a ceiling fan that we bought at Lowe's some time ago when they matched the price of any Home Depot sale. We got fans. And a light kit. And bulbs, and stretcher bars that you hang the fans on. One for the office area and a very cute one for Caroline's room. Thinking that having had them for about 2 months and not putting them up wasn't a good use of resources, I was determined to install the fan for Caroline's room on Saturday. One thing lead to another, schedules got weird, mowing had to be done. Okay, maybe not Caroline's room, because that is her only source of light. I'll do the office one. We were to be over at Jim and Nancy's for dinner at about 6:20pm. Angie leaves with Caroline at about 5:40pm. Not quite enough time to get started, but I start to pull together tools, step stool, etc. I come home with Caroline and get her bathed and in bed by 9:00pm. I'm tired, but got to get it going. I take down the light fixture. Here's what I have...

So, got to put up a fan brace bar. My boss is overkill man, when it comes to construction. So, I got the Super Fan Brace. See below.

There was a stamped metal fan brace already installed. I can take that out. Wait. Notice the air vent just beyond the hole in the ceiling? You know how all modern construction is usually set at 16" to center studs? Except when they use 24". Like this house's ceiling joists. Great. The stamped metal fan brace is nailed into the joists, a little over 11" away from the hole, in a 7' ceiling. I fight with a claw hammer until midnight when I declare victory. The old brace has been defeated. I'm too tired and frustrated to continue.

Sunday afternoon, I resume. The instructions call for the blue wire to go to the blue wire, black to black, white to common, ground to ground. Except that I don't have a blue wire from the house. Only on the fan. I read and re-read and re-read the instructions. I've got it figured out.

Light kit goes on, just fine.

Then I need to change out the rotary dimmer. I've been doing all this work with the light switch turned off, but the breaker on. Spare me the lectures. I've heard them. Tonight. Twice. I go to the breaker box, turn off the dining room, because that is where the light is. Nope. It is on the Living Room circuit. Know how I found out? Zap! I then turn off the Living Room circuit, finish changing out the switch. Ah. The fan works. The lights don't. I start taking it all apart, checking the wires carefully. I disassemble the whole thing. It looks right. I call Jim, the best father-in-law in the US. (Runner up might be my dad to Angie, but I don't get to decide that.) He comes over. Looks at it. "Well, here's your problem, blue should go to black and black should go to black and white should go to white and bare should go to ground." And he said it in a way that didn't make me feel more foolish. He taped them up, we tested things and they work. He then handed me fan blades and screws and stuff.

Jim's a good man.
Thanks, Jim, for everything.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Over the last few days (mostly evenings), I've been chatting with my friend, Tali, in São Paulo. The conversation winds from school studies, to family, family vacations, food, friends, music, movies, and books.

She introduced me to a few new (at least to me) authors. Malba Tahan. That's Tali's great-grand-uncle. Another author is Gabriel García Márquez. He wrote One Hundred Years of Solitude. The third author that she mentioned was João Guimarães Rosa. I've already ordered one of Malba Tahan's books from a neighboring county library. I look forward to reading it.

Yesterday, Tali said that she read two books in five days. "It was good for the soul." Reading is good for the soul.

It made me review what I've been reading recently. Here's what I've read in 2007...
  • Dan Patrick's Outtakes
  • Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo 's Baseball Confidential
  • Harry Shearer's Man Bites Town
  • Mike Greenberg's Why My Wife Thinks I'm An Idiot
  • John Mortimer's Rumpole and the Reign of Terror
  • James Lincoln Collier's Rich and Famous
  • Elliott Roosevelt's The President's Man
  • Alan Ross's Echoes from the Ballpark
  • Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone's Warmly Inscribed: The New England Forger and Other Book Tales
I'm just finishing up Murders' Row, a collection of original baseball mysteries, edited by by Otto Penzler. I'm also slogging my way through Alberto Manguel's A History of Reading.

I should probably move away from the lighter fare and dig or re-dig into some meatier books.

Thank you, Tali, for having this discussion with me. Now, if I can just get Angie to read The Hobbit.