Sunday, July 31, 2005

on the road.....

We’re on our way to North Carolina. I’m in one of the middle seats in the van while Meg drives on I-840. The bride is quite nervous as the co-pilot, barking instructions such as “keep it at 70”, “eeeeaaaase over into the right lane” and “don’t worry about the motorcycle guys.” While trying to “guide” Meg back into her lane, the bride looked as if she was attempting to balance herself on a skateboard. Something about the way she was using her hands.

We’ve got about 475 miles to cover today, and Meg’s handling the first 45 or so. This is an odd feeling for me, riding rather than driving. It’s not all bad. I rather enjoy sitting here and typing. I could even go for watching a movie later, but I know that won’t happen. The bride is awake now, but once I take the wheel again it’ll be a different story. For the 18 years that I’ve known her, an interstate sign to her is like a sleeping pill for most people.

It’s nice to be able to look around and enjoy the scenery. Middle Tennessee is a beautiful place. I’m looking forward to seeing the mountains of NC this week, though. Someone asked me yesterday if I missed the mountains. Part of me does, but I’ve always felt that home is where your family is, not a particular plot of real estate. Not that I’d ever really be able to get my 3 girls out of Franklin, but if I did, wherever we went would be home for me. Billy Joel said it best in his song, “You’re My Home”: “wherever we’re together, that’s my home.”

So here’s to taking my “home” on the road for the week. Memories will be made this week, fun will be had by all.

Friday, July 29, 2005

for the birds.....

I don't know what it is, but we keep having bird problems at our house. They've flown into our garage several times over the past few months. The dog goes nuts chasing them and we have to contain him and get the bird out. (Meg said the reason we keep getting birds in the garage is because God wants us to have a bird. I disagreed. I've not trusted birds since I saw Hitchcock's movie as a child.)

Last night at 11:11 PM, I was asleep. I'd been asleep for about 40 minutes or so. I was awakened by the sound of our bedroom door opening. (I'm not the most coherent person when I'm awakened in the middle of the night. I'm sure if the house was on fire or if there was an emergency, I'd be able to function nicely solely on adrenaline.) As my eyes opened slightly, I could see the bride and Meg standing in the doorway. I vaguely remember them saying something about a bird being in the chimney. I lumbered into the den, feeling dizzy as I turned the corner. The sound was something between a bird and a sound effect from a video game. I went to the kitchen to get a flashlight, and of course the batteries were almost dead. The bride fetched a flashlight from upstairs, and we looked among the ceramic logs to make sure the bird hadn't fallen into the grate of the fireplace. When I summized that the bird was evidently laying/sitting on the door of the flue, I went back to bed - nothing I could do in my current state. As I lay in bed, wondering how we were going to get this bird out without it flying through the house, I couldn't go to sleep. When I got out of bed this morning, my body thought I was playing a cruel joke on it. No way did I just get any sleep. Stupid bird.

So if it's still there when I get home tonight, the bride and I will attempt to capture the bird and set it free outside. I just don't want the thing to die and start to decay.....

Thursday, July 28, 2005

so, what do you do for a living.....

Imagine this guy's kids, cringing every year when it's time to have parents come to school for career day.....

Researcher Measures the Gases Cows Emit

DAVIS, Calif. - In a white, tent-like "bio-bubble" on a farm near Davis, eight pregnant Holsteins are eating, chewing and pooping — for science. "The ladies," as they're called by University of California researcher Frank Mitloehner, are doing their part to answer a question plaguing one of California's largest agricultural industries: How much gas does a cow emit?

The findings will be used to write the state's first air quality regulations for dairies and could affect regulations nationwide.

But before he explains how it works, Mitloehner wants one thing to be clear.

"We're not talking about flatulence," he says.

He emphasizes the point because his research has been dismissed as "fart science," a label he says doesn't do justice to the seriousness of his work.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

apparently, he still uses leaches.....

I know a person who has been coughing for one month - solid. About every 2-3 minutes, I hear a series of barks. On top of that, this person says that the cough limits her sleep to about 3 hours a night. A couple of weeks ago I suggested they see a doctor about this nagging cough. The reply was "No, I know my doctor wouldn't prescribe anything for it. He doesn't like to write prescriptions." (I had bad allergies as a child. Dr. Flannary kept me on some kind of medication most of the year. To my knowledge, I never suffered any ill effects from the medication. Although Mom and Dad said that I liked to listed to Pink Floyd alot while I was sick. Must have been the medicine.)

I'm not a doctor. I've never pretended to be a doctor. I have no medical training. But seems to me that if I were a doctor and a patient came to me with a chronic cough, I'd figure out some way to cure this person.

Maybe I'm wrong, but there's one of two things going on here. Either this person doesn't like going to the doctor, or the doctor uses leaches to bleed away illnesses. Either way, I think I'd be looking for another doctor.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

an interesting find.....

After mowing in the sauna that we call the outdoors last night, I started putting up my lawn equipment. As I wheeled my mower back to its spot, I noticed a notebook on the garage floor. Since Sara holds "school" out there, I assumed it belonged to one of her "students." I started to put the notebook in one of the cubby holes, then decided to read a little bit of it. What I discovered was a bit surprising. Apparently Wally, the dog, has been keeping a journal. Here's Saturday's entry (along with his artwork from another part of the journal):

Rough day today. Got up, went outside, ate some food, took a nap. Had a bird trapped in my room, they call it a garage. The woman put me in a cage while the man got it out of my room. Tracked it for a few minutes, took a nap. Ate some more, took a nap. Barked at a few dogs. Not much new.

That man must really like me. He's always so loud when he talks to me. I guess he wants to make sure I can hear him. What a guy! I've figured out how to get him to give me extra food. Any time I need a snack, I just go outside and start barking. After a few barks, he puts food in my crate and closes the door to my room.

I play the "poor, pitiful me" card and Susie falls for it every time. It has been hot lately, so she made me some kind of flavored ice thing. She likes me too, I can tell. She likes to sit on the steps with me.

Meg and Sara are always good for alot of attention, although I don't see them much in the summer. They're always inside where it's cool. Me? I've got my room and my concrete floor, so it could be alot worse. Like I always tell my friend, Moe, I could still be wandering the streets of Clarksville, so life is good.

Monday, July 25, 2005

two observations, and some other stuff.....

Here's a couple of things I observed over the weekend:

Why I believe that people are smarter than dogs - I've yet to see a human being take a whiz and have another human beling come up and sniff the results. I'm just sayin'.

Hair color and females - Women/girls have this strange facination with (1) wanting to change/enhance their hair color, and (2) wanting to change the hair color of their friends. Maybe things have changed quite a bit over the past 20+ years, but I don't remember any of my friends in high school or college ever asking me if they could color my hair. Again, I'm just sayin'.

I turned 41 on Saturday. I remain very blessed to have 3 beautiful ladies in my life who love me despite my one or two (thousand) faults. On the way to dinner Saturday night, we played the "are we going to make it to Chili's on this tank of gas" game. We set the trip computer on the van to the countdown mode, where the display allowed us to view just how much further we could go on our current tank of gas. We went the last two miles seeing that we could go approximately 1 mile more. I felt like Kramer and "that other guy" from the Saab dealership, trying to see just how far past the "E" we could go. Actually, I didn't really enjoy the game all that much. I'm one of those people who can't stand to see the "low gas" light come on in the car. We did make it the the Kroger gas pumps in time. I don't plan on playing that game again anytime soon.

Friday, July 22, 2005

don't throw that away.....

Ask anybody in our house and they'll tell you that I'm quick to get rid of things. My logic is that if you haven't used it in 12 months, you're probably never going to use it again, so go ahead and get rid of it. And the way I get rid of things is to give them away or throw them away. I HATE garage sales with a passion. Too much hassle for too little return.

One of my favorite toys growing up was Billy Blastoff. With the first moon walk happening July 20, 1969, any toy having to do with rockets or outer space was hot. (I remember my birthday cake had a plastic rocket on top of it when I was 5.) That Christmas, Billy Blastoff was under the tree for me.

A few nights ago I was browsing on e-Bay and decided to look for Billy Blastoff. Holy cow! Sets that may have cost $20-$30 in 1970 are now going for sometimes $300 and up. The single Billy action figure costs around $50.

So if you or your kids have a quirky toy, hang onto it for a little while. They could be worth something one day.....

Thursday, July 21, 2005

chappelle wouldn't call this "keeping it real".....

Yep, this one's for real. I heard about it while driving in this morning.....

LONDON (Reuters) - The word "fail" should be banned from use in British classrooms and replaced with the phrase "deferred success" to avoid demoralizing pupils, a group of teachers has proposed.

Members of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) argue that telling pupils they have failed can put them off learning for life.

A spokesman for the group said it wanted to avoid labeling children. "We recognize that children do not necessarily achieve success first time," he said. "But I recognize that we can't just strike a word from the dictionary," he said.

The PAT said it would debate the proposal at a conference next week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

so far, so good.....

Any time something appears too good to be true, I typically shy away from it. However, we decided to try (at least through the summer) and see how well it works. We've signed up for it 11 days ago and so far we've been pleased.

One key to this thing is that you have to be able to watch at least 4 movies per month in order to break even. We got our 4th movie yesterday, so we're now at the breakeven point. Oh, and the commercials say to keep the movies as long as you want? That's another key - watch the movie and return it so that they can send you the next movie in your queue. The other key is your queue. You can keep up to 30 movies in your queue, so that when one movie is returned they can send you the next movie in your queue automatically. And since the bride and I rarely see a movie in a theater, there are TONS of movies for us to watch. Plus, we're receiving the movies from the Louisville distribution center, so they're getting here in about 2 days.

Quick movie reviews of the 3 we've watched so far:

Fat Albert - made me cry.....for the kids who never got to see the original cartoon. I remember watching it every Saturday afternoon at 12:30. Much better than the movie. The best part was the cameo by Dr. Cosby himself.

Friday Night Lights - very good movie. I found it to be a little slow the first 45 minutes, but it picked up quite a bit the last 75 minutes. Great camera work. Plus, the guy who plays the quarterback is the same guy who played Frank, the little boy in Sling Blade.

Spanglish - starring my mom's favorite actor, Adam Sandler. I like all of his movies, and this one was no exception. The whole cast is great. Very good storyline.

In closing, I heartily endorse we plan to use it at least until the fall season starts.....

Monday, July 18, 2005

it's back.....

The madness known as Bunco makes its way back tonight on Glendower. Some of the names have changed, but the routine is the same.

I'm convinced that the Bunco sydicate orchestrated the moves on our street in the past few months. (Both guys moved hours away with much better paying jobs? Come on.....) Someone, like me, gets wise to the whole farce and they have to shake things up. Bring in some new players. Last month they "conveniently" didn't meet, stating that they couldn't come up with a good time. Likely story. This month? Some of the moms sent their kids off to church camp just so they could feed their habit without taking on any guilt. At least for this month they won't have to look at their already-sleeping child when they come home at who-knows-what time. Shameless.

Here's a new twist. One of the bunco players has asked Meg to babysit tonight during the game. Maybe I'm way out in left field here, but this has never happened before. Are they trying to lure an innocent 15-year-old girl into the mix? Sure, get 'em while they're young, and you'll have a convert for life. Do I let them go through with it? Such a dilemma. If I raise a stink, they'll know I'm onto them.

Just another chapter in the life of a guy who's married to someone with an addiction.....

Friday, July 15, 2005

thanks, jack.....

Posted by Picasa
I just learned that Jack Nicklaus played his last round of competitive golf today. He didn't make the cut at the British Open at St. Andrews. Talk about a classy and competitive person. True to form, even though he didn't make the cut, he birdied number 18.

Thanks for the memories, Jack! Tiger may be the best right now, but you will always be the standard of excellence for all golfers.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Can you tell that someone's happy? The "special" wallet was purchased on the way home to display the learner's permit. Posted by Picasa

monumental day.....

function - noun
1: a written warrant or license granted by one having authority [a gun permit]
2: permission

Just after 10:00 yesterday morning, I saw Meg's cell phone number appear on my phone's screen. "Daddy, guess what???? I got my learner's permit! I only missed 3 on the test, and the people in front of me failed! I'm so excited!!!!! But I'm not driving now because it's raining really hard....." I said, "Well, I think it's best if you don't drive for a year or so anyway." To which she replied, "Yeah, right!!!!!" The bride later said that Meg smiled the whole day, just beaming from her new achievement.

Then last night after supper, I rode in the car with my daughter driving for the first time. Talk about your strange feelings! I rarely ride with anyone. Most times that I get in a car, I'm driving. So not only was I not driving, I was being driven by my 15-year-old daughter. Meg's training to this point has been administered by the bride's father. Ken is very patient and does very well with Meg. When we left last night, I told myself that I wouldn't raise my voice. I cautioned her on a couple of things, but I never raised my voice. All in all, she did very well. With time and experience, she'll be fine. I still can't believe I have a daughter who's old enough to drive.....

On a completely different subject, I had a hard time sleeping last night. And I'm sure every good Southern male had the same problem. Why, you ask? Excitement, my friend. We're all excited because.....HOCKEY IS BACK, EH!!!!!! (I think ESPN showed the highlights of hockey fans lining up to kiss Jeremy Roenick's posterior.) Add to that the fact that the Titan's top draft choice confirmed for us all that he's a punk, and you've got yourself one restless night.....

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

thinking about an apartment.....

Home ownership - the American Dream. It's what most people in this country strive to achieve. But how good did we have it in an apartment and we just didn't know it?

The bride and I were outside the other night enjoying a rare comfortable Middle Tennessee summer evening. Over the past 12 months we've had to: replace the upstairs air unit; replace the downstairs carpeting; replace all of our windows; have the roof repaired (new one installed just 2 years ago, but that company is no longer in business); repair the downstairs air unit; and replace 75% of the blinds in the house. I looked at the bride and said, "Wouldn't it just be easier and cheaper to move into an apartment?" We laughed because we'd never actually do it, but there's some logic there.

Think about it. When you live in an apartment, you don't have to replace or repair anything. It's taken care of by the apartment complex company. Air conditioning goes out? Call the super and he'll have it fixed. Roof leak? Call the super. And you'll never live anywhere that's less expensive. Oh, sure, your house payment may be the same or less than your rent, but then you've got all the other things - taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs. And you no longer have the super - you have to hire a handyman, or call a plumber or an electrician. And it almost always happens all at once.....

As tempting as it is to move into an apartment, I don't think we'll be going anywhere soon. We like our house, our neighborhood, our neighbors (well, most of them), and it's convenient to everything we need. But if anyone who reads this lives in an apartment and can't wait to get into a house, just make sure you're ready for it. And remember, the Douglases had it made in New York City in their penthouse apartment; then Oliver just had to be a farmer and move them to Hooterville. Lisa instantly became a homeowner, and she was never the same again.....

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

maybe it's just me.....

I met the bride and the girls at Green Hills Mall during lunch yesterday. Apple has a retail outlet there, and we had some trouble using the i-Trip adapter for Meg's iPod Mini, so we went to get some expert advice. Let me just say that the Apple people are very creative with all their accessories for the iPod products. Part of me thinks that creative is just another word for high-priced rip-off stuff, the other part of me is jealous that I didn't think of it first. (I mean, come on, socks for your iPod? Who comes up with this stuff?) We learned that the i-Trip doesn't work all that well in the Nashville area. It's supposed to transmit music from your iPod to an FM frequency and play through any stereo. Well, it does play, but the distortion is terrible. We talked to another customer there who suggested we try something different, so we're going to go that direction with it.

If you live in the Nashville area, you know there's really no good (quick) way to get from downtown to Green Hills. Even the back streets can get congested. True to form yesterday, I hit every possible red light on the way out there. I left my three girls at the mall and headed back to work. The traffic lights weren't as bad, but I got behind every possible old person that was out yesterday. The first guy didn't get above 25 in a 35; followed him for 1.2 miles. Just when I thought I was free, I got behind another guy doing 15 in a 40; this went on for almost 2 miles. And it wasn't like he was lost, looking for a street to turn on, he was just slow. So here's what I'd like for Congress to propose:

If you are retired and you must be on the roads between the hours of 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM (when people who work normally take their lunch hour - again, it's just an hour), you must go the speed limit. If not, you are subject to a citizen's arrest. First offense, your license will be suspended for 1 month. Second offense, your license will be suspended for 6 months. Third offense, complete loss of license for 1 year you have to pay the car insurance for the person who arrested you for 1 year. Seems fair enough to me.

Next I've got to work on retirees taking all the good doctor's appointments.....

Monday, July 11, 2005

another sign you're getting old.....

Remember The Lion King, and the song "The Circle of Life"? Life is pretty circular. Things you may have hated to do years ago, you now find yourself loving. Like naps.

When I was little, I hated to take naps. When the girls were little, we sometimes struggled getting them down for naps. But as you get older, your body wants more rest. Maybe not extra hours and hours of sleep, but more rest.

Why did I need a nap yesterday? The bride called me cranky just before eating lunch. (Seems like I remember that being an excuse we used to use when we wanted the girls to take a nap.) I can't imagine why I was "cranky", if in fact that is an accurate term. It probably had nothing to do with pressure washing the house for 3 hours Friday night. And I'm sure it had nothing to do with washing windows all day on Saturday.

So we got home from church, ate some lunch, then I mowed the yard. Nice and humid yesterday, right before the remnants of hurrican Dennis hit our area last night. After a shower, I hit the couch and found a movie (Black Sheep) to "watch" while I dozed. Next thing I know, it's about 90 minutes later and I was rested. Just like that. The bride later commented that she was surprised I could sleep with all the little girls going up and down our steps. How little, petite 10-year-old girls can make that much noise climbing steps, I'll never know.....

So now naps are good. Things do change. However, not everything changes. For example, my taste for certain foods. In other words, I didn't like fried okra or turnip greens when I was little, and I don't plan on liking them anytime soon.....

Friday, July 08, 2005

advice to an old friend.....

Dear Tom,

Hey, buddy! Man, it's been so long since we've been able to get together! I know we've both been busy with work and families. Looks like things are going well for you with your new movie. Oh, and kudos to you on your new relationship! Katie is one of Meg's favorite actresses. She loved her on "Dawson's Creek"!

Actually, the reason I'm writing is concerning Katie and your relationship with her. I'd like to give you a little advice. Before you get upset, just think back to times when you have solicited advice from me in the past. Remember when you were doing that movie about stealing your dad's Porsche, and you called me with advice about a dance scene? Remember I told you that you should dance to a Bob Seger song in your boxers, a white dress shirt and Ray Bans? And remember when you were doing that airplane movie and you didn't like the line "We need to go past fast"? Who told you to use "I feel the need.....the need for speed!"? OK, now, you can trust me on this.

There will be times in your marriage when things aren't going too well for your wife. There may even be times when Katie is physically ill. Or, if you plan to have kids, there may be times right after she has the baby that she is a little moody. If any of this occurs do not - I REPEAT, DO NOT - simply tell her to take a vitamin and jog around the block. I realize you've got this whole Matt Lauer interview thing to defend, but you've got to use some common sense when it comes to dealing with your wife. Do you honestly think that I'd still be alive today if I had told my lovely bride to do 30 sit-ups and take kick-boxing lessons while she was experiencing post-partum depression? (By the way, she says hello!) I know advice is cheap, but this advice is valuable because it's something you can actually use.

Next time you're in Franklin give me a call and we'll meet at Starbucks downtown. Hope to hear from you soon!

Your friend,


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

tomorrow, tomorrow.....

Research shows that the most popular day of the week to start dieting and exercising is.....tomorrow! So I decided to start tomorrow - yesterday. We'll see how this goes.....

Friday, July 01, 2005

Meg at 3 months. She has much more hair now..... Posted by Picasa

Meg digging into her cake at her first birthday party. Posted by Picasa

Meg and Mamaw, probably 1992 or 1993. Posted by Picasa

Great shot of Meg asleep on the couch in the Florida room of our old house. Posted by Picasa

Meg and I at her first UT game. She fell asleep in the first quarter, but was awakened by 105,000 screaming fans reacting to a blocked field goal. Oh, and UT won BIG over South Carolina that day..... Posted by Picasa

Meg and one of her favorite people in the world, Mr. Brandon Scott Thomas. This picture was taken the day of her baptism, and Brandon was kind enough to perform the baptism for us. Posted by Picasa

Meg and Sara, June 2005 Posted by Picasa

was it really 15 years ago?

15 years ago today, it was just the bride and me. 15 years ago tomorrow, we became parents. We went from a couple to a family, just like that. We left for the hospital at about 5:40 AM, and Megan Lindsay Stapleton was born at 1:21 PM. The Billy Joel song "She's Got A Way" was playing when she came into this world. (In fact, there was a Billy Joel song playing on the radio with both girls; Sara's was "She's Always A Woman.")

That summer was very hot, but the day we brought Meg home was the hottest day of the year. It was July 4, 1990, and the temperature was 104. We lived in a house that didn't have central air conditioning, so the room temperature varied from room to room because not every room had a window air conditioner.

Looking back on old pictures, I realize that the reason we always felt so broke was because we actually were. We chose for Susie to stay home with the girls. And even though money was tight, we feel like we made the right decision. I was actually accused of being a male chauvinist because we made the decision for the bride to stay home with our girls rather than pursue a career outside the home. It was told to me that I was "forcing" her to stay home, but here's how it really happened:
When Meg was about 6 weeks old, we started looking around for daycare options. We "knew" we'd never be able to make it on one salary, and the bride was due for a substatial promotion and pay raise when she returned from maternity leave. We first ruled out the standard day care. Our pediatrician told us that if Meg were to be in daycare with several other kids, we would be visiting him between 8-12 times over the next year; if she stayed home, he'd see us 4 times over the next 12 months. So we decided to look for someone who kept just a couple of kids in their home. After looking around, we found a lady at church who had an opening in her home. We set up an appointment and met with her during our lunch hours one day. Everything seemed to be great - great location, nice lady, good environment, etc. We got in the car and about half-way back the bride started crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "I can't leave her. I just can't go back to work and leave Meg." I won't lie - I panicked at first. Insurance was going to cost me an additional $575 a month, and I knew I didn't have that. However, I had a great boss at the time. I came back and told him the situation. He said the company take care of the insurance cost for us. Just like that! That was a huge blessing that I never took for granted.

The bride later went on to work in a mother's day out at a local church. She never made huge money, but it was always just enough to help us make ends meet.

I think we took dozens and dozens of rolls of pictures of Meg her first year. Some of them I'll post later. Looking at them now, it's like we took them one after another. One picture she'd be in her crib laying down, the next one she would have moved 1/4 inch from 3 seconds before. Lots of duplicates. (This was before digital photography, so we had to get them all developed.)

Being a dad was new, but I loved it. The first time I ever babysat alone, Meg and I watched the MLB all star game. She was only a couple of weeks old, so she didn't pay too much attention to the game.

As I've mentioned before, Meg's been a compliant child. She didn't do things like write on the walls with crayons or anything similar. But there was one time that she did something a little out of character.

When she was about 5, Meg brought the phone to the bride. The bride was feeding a bottle to Sara when Meg said, "Here, Mom, this lady wants to talk to you." She couldn't remember hearing the phone ring, but she just figured she missed it. She picked up and the lady on the other end said that she just needed to verify some information. The lady proceeded to confirm our address and phone number, along with some other information. The bride said, "Uh, could you tell me what this is for?" The lady stated that Meg had just ordered bottled water delivery for our home. The bride said, "Do you realize you were talking to a 5-year-old?" The lady said, "Really? Well, she certainly doesn't sound it!" Either the bottled water lady was ignorant or she was hard up to sell some water. We later learned that Meg had seen a commercial about bottled water, copied the toll-free number down in crayon, then placed the call. We had to have a little talk about calling phone numbers from television.

I'm proud of Meg. Not only because she's my daughter, but also for who she is as a person. She loves people, and people love being around her. She has a tender heart, and she's brought the bride and me all kinds of joy over the past 15 years. And we can't wait to see what God has in store for her for the rest of her life! Meg will have alot of big events over the next few years - learners permit and drivers license, high school graduation, college, etc. I'm just glad I've got a front-row seat to see it all happen.