In Iowa for the next 10 Days

In a few minutes, I’ll go jump on the Max which will take me to the Gateway Transit Center where I’m meeting Tina and the boys. From there, we’ll drive to SeaTac where we’ll hop a plane for Minneapolis. The plane gets to Mineapolis around 2 am. After we gather our bags, we’ll take a cab to a nearby hotel where we’ll sack out until about 10. My sister and her family will meet us at hour hotel at 11 and then we’ll continue our journey to my hometown, Riceville, IA.

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1544
Weight lost: 50 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 6
Hours billed last week: 45.5
Aches & pains: sciatic, ankle (slightly yesterday)
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Recent listening: Playlists for Iowa
Recent viewing: Countdown, Gilmore Girls, The Newshour, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show
Recent playing: Pangea Arcade
Recently accomplished: Fixed boomtube, new litter for cat boxes, trimmed and mowed front lawn, cleared Tivo schedule for vacation, pulled blackberries, packing, confirmed and finalized travel plans, tried to fix Thomas’ computer, burned numerous gift CDs, paid bills, recorded movie for Mindy
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, sift through inbox, post office, call Colleen/Kurt, bank deposit, fix Thomas’ computer, drop bike off at Bike Gallery

Last chance for book selection

Hardly anybody has voted. As I mentioned earlier, I need a new book to take on vacation. Here are the choices:

Whether you have read any of these books or not, I want your opinion on which I should or should not take. Leave your vote in the comments.

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1496
Weight lost: 50 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 7
Hours billed last week: 45.5
Aches & pains: sciatic
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Recent listening: Handsome Boy Modeling School, The Zombies, Sun Ra, NPR Story of the Day
Recent viewing: The Simpsons, Mindfreak, Man vs. Wild, Biography: Johnny Depp, Biography: Howie Mandel, Gilmore Girls
Recent playing: Pangea Arcade
Recently accomplished: fixed temporary mailbox so it would open, uploaded photographs, cleaned inside of tent, installed memory and DVD drive for Thomas, sent off Lala envelopes, packed up tent, backed up Tina, Graham & me, bike maintenance, cat box, installed desk lamp for Graham, groceries, CD for Ziad, sifted through inbox items
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, sift through inbox, post office, renew van registration, pack for Iowa, finalize Iowa travel plans, clear Tivo schedule for vacation, new litter for cat box, fix boomtube, call Kent, call Colleen/Kurt, record movie for Mindy

Help Pick The Next Book

I expect to finish reading Dandelion Wine this week. After that I’ll be starting one of these books:



(Click for a larger version)



Have you read any of these books? Heard anything great about one? Please leave a comment with a recommendation for the next book for me to read. I’ll be taking this book with me on vacation to Iowa next week.

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1468
Weight lost: 50 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 7
Hours billed last week: 47
Aches & pains: sciatic
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Recent listening: Coverville, DrugMusic, NPR Story of the Day, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Science Friday, Fresh Air, Velvet Goldmine: Original Soundtrack
Recent viewing: World Poker Tour, Nature, The Henry Rollins Show, Countdown, The Daily Show
Recent playing: Pangea Arcade, Bloxorz
Recently accomplished: Mounted mailbox on “temporary” post, reserved rental car for Iowa trip
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, backup Thomas, backup Graham, backup Tina, sift through inbox, CDs to post office, renew van registration

Only love can conquer hate

It’s turned into a whirlwind summer and I have had little time to reflect or report on it here, but here are the highlights so far:

  • CPS moved across the street and I’ve been slowly adjusting to the new space. We now have showers so I smell better during the workday. Unfortunately, I no longer have a window office. My new project is very interesting but quite hectic and time consuming. Hopefully, it will slack off by August.
  • I got new glasses for the first time in several years. I let them talk me into a pair with magnetically attachable sunglasses. New lenses (without scratches) are always so nice.
  • The NBA Playoffs started off with promise and ended in disappointment. Ho-hum, Spurs win again. I didn’t even watch the last three games on my Tivo after I got back from WWDC.
  • I was in San Francisco for a week at Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference learning about all the new technology they are introducing in the next version of Mac OS X plus checking what to do in San Francisco.
  • I also get a chance to meet up with my old friend, Rob, in San Francisco for dinner one night. As usual, it was awesome to see him again. Although we communicate several times a week electronically, there is no substitute for face-to-face.
  • I missed most of Portland’s annual bike celebration, Pedalpalooza, but did get back in time to attend the Multnomah County Bike Fair with Tina and the boys.
  • The Oregon Zoo kicked off their annual series of summer concerts this year with The Wailers. They started out with three or four obscure songs (which is great) but then finished in greatest hits mode (which is still good). Their new singer, The Young Lion, sounds very much like Bob Marley and quickly won over the receptive crowd. It was very near to a spiritual experience for Tina, who has been a Bob Marley fan since high school.
  • You may have noticed something called the iPhone in the news. In my position, I was witness to about 20 times the hype that you saw. Three of my collegues purchased one the day it came out and Thomas desperately wants one. I have played around with a couple and they are really quite incredible. I can’t currently justify the $60/month cost for service, but I may later.
  • The Trailblazers drafted Greg Oden, as expected, and I was present when he was introduced to the city at Pioneer Courthouse Square a few days later. People are very excited that the “Jailblazer” era appears to be over. I wanted to hold up a sign that said “Welcome to Portland, Sam Bowie” but several people (including Tina) advised against it.
  • On Independence Day we escaped the heat by seeing the latest Pixar movie, Ratatouie, at Cinetopia. Wow. I know I said this about Cars last year, but this is the best Pixar movie yet.
  • Rather than buy our own fireworks as we have in the last few years, I decided that the kids should go to a real fireworks show this year. Graham probably doesn’t remember ever going to a big fireworks display so that alone justified it, I think. We skipped the Waterfront and Fort Vancouver shows in favor of the Blue Lake show which is much closer to our house. It took a long time to get out of the park when it was all over but I think Graham really liked it.
  • We did buy a few smaller fireworks in Oregon this year and lit them Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Oregon has stricter laws than Washington governing fireworks which led me to cross the border for the more exciting stuff in the past. None of that this year, though. Street cleanup was very easy outside our house this year.
  • This weekend Tina and Graham are camping at Cub World with his Cub Scout den. Thomas and I will be dropping in tomorrow night for dinner and maybe again Sunday morning.
  • Thomas biked the entire way to work with me this morning (around 11 miles) and seemed a bit surprised this evening as we pulled into the Max station with our bikes. “We’re taking the Max?” I think he was disappointed we weren’t biking the whole way home again. He spent most of the day in the Rec Room at work playing new games on the Wii while I worked.

Our calendar will be equally full for the rest of the summer, too:

  • Thomas leaves for a week at Boy Scout camp starting next Sunday.
  • More zoo concerts: Asleep at the Wheel, Los Lobos, Richie Furay, Charlie Hunter and The Holmes Brothers.
  • A week-long trip to Iowa for a family reunion culminating in the annual Ring summer campout in Waterville, MN.
  • Tina’s cousin Natians visiting for nearly two weeks in August. It’s her second time to Portland but we still have lots to show her including a few nights on the Oregon Coast.
  • Body Worlds has come to OMSI and we’ve already made our reservations. All the reviews for this exhibit make it sound like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait.
  • A vast reorganization of the garage when I can fit it in.

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1362
Weight lost: 54 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 10
Hours billed last week: 50.5
Aches & pains: right wrist, sciatic nerve
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, Momentum Is Your Friend by Joe Kurmaskie
Recent listening: Matisyahu, Pandora, Science Friday, Space Age Pop Music Program, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Science Friday, Fresh Air
Recent viewing: The Naked Brothers Band, Bubba Ho-Tep, Gilmore Girls, Countdown, Planet Earth, Full House
Recent playing: Pangea Arcade, Bloxorz
Recently accomplished: mowed lawn, turned & harvested compost, planted grass, groceries, returned cans, furniture moving, vacation planning, WWDC07 expense report, paid bills
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, backup Thomas, backup Graham, backup Tina, sift through inbox, CDs to post office

Vital Statistics

Bike odometer: 1282
Weight lost: 58 lbs.
Hours of sleep last night: 8.5
Hours billed last week: 10
Aches & pains: right wrist
Current reading:: 2107 Curious Word Origins, Says & Expressions by Charles Earle Funk, The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees, The STL Primer
Recent listening: Frances the Mute by The Mars Volta, Pure Pod For Now People Episode 20, Dolly Parton, Pictures at an Exhibition, Coverville, DrugMusic
Recent viewing: High Stakes Poker, Gilmore Girls, Countdown, The 4400, Dead Zone, Last Comic Standing
Recent playing: Pangea Arcade, Big Bang React
Recently accomplished: Paid bills, yard debris, weed eater, recycling, tried to help Graham’s friend’s mom start her jeep (fruitlessly), picked up bike, picked up new glasses, doctor appointment
Imperative To Do: RMA old Tivo drive, backup Thomas, backup Graham, backup Tina, sift through inbox, CDs to post office, return cans, book Iowa trip, expense report, vacation planning

Folly Beach 1984

From 1983 to 1986, I spent my summers living with my sister, Mardy, and her family on Johns Island, South Carolina. I have many great memories from those summers but some of my best memories are from one week in 1984.

Mardy, Mike (her partner) and “the gang” decided to pool resources to rent a beach house in Folly Beach during the first week of August. “The gang” that summer, and every summer in South Carolina, were Mardy and Mike; their married friends, Bob and Pam; and their single friend, Jeff. Mardy and Mike also had two little boys, Micah and Kendrick, while Bob and Pam had two girls, Merry and Joanna, and a boy, Jesse. All the kids were close in age. During my time in South Carolina, these were the main cast of characters on the weekends.

By that summer, I felt like a part of the gang. Having adult friends and living away from my parents made me feel like an adult. In an attempt to prove that I was as responsible as an adult, I volunteered to contribute my fair share to pay for the beach house. I suppose I was being condescendingly generous at the time, but I was fairly flush with cash at the time and my financial assistance was accepted nonetheless.

I was wealthier than the average 17-year-old because Mardy hooked me up with a job at the Credit Bureau of Greater Charleston, where she worked part-time in the evenings. I did well enough my first summer there that her boss asked me back the next summer and I even got a raise. I also had few expenses because I didn’t have to pay for my room and board. Instead I agreed to mow the lawn as well as wash and wax Mardy’s new white T-Bird every weekend. I think she indulged in a little perverse enjoyment knowing that I really despised washing that damn car every weekend but I suppose it worked out to my advantage in many ways eventually.

For the rest of the gang, that week in August was an awesome summer vacation on the beach. For me, it felt like a giant step into adulthood. You see, I continued to work at the Credit Bureau while commuting back and forth from Folly Beach each day. Somehow I managed to convince Mardy and Mike that I could be trusted with Mike’s VW Beetle and was allowed to drive solo to and from work all week. As I recall, they only had two suitable cars at the time and so I was usually stuck hitching a ride every morning with Vicki and Bobby, the rednecks next door. Not only were they somewhat disagreeable company, having to ride with them meant getting up very early in the morning. On the worst mornings, I would awake to the sound of a honking horn. As Vicki waited patiently outside for me, I would take the fastest shower of my young life before throwing on clothes and dashing outside.

But during that week at the beach house, Mike was on vacation and they only needed the Thunderbird to get around Folly Beach. I needed a way to get to the beach house after work every night and so letting me loose with the Bug was the best solution.

As you can tell from the map, Folly Road, the route to Folly Beach, goes past Johns Island. After work each night, I would stop at Mardy’s house before continuing on to Folly Beach. I’m not sure exactly why I stopped there, but I remember pulling out my newly purchased Billy Idol records and listening to them very loudly on Mike’s stereo while singing and miming. After that testosterone rush, I would jump back in the Bug and head out on Folly Road for the beach. One night I picked up a hitchhiker on Folly Road and gave him a ride home. He was black and I was proud of myself for giving him a ride. I remembered that my dad would occasionally pick up hitchhikers back in Iowa, so I supposed I was emulating him in trying to be an adult.

Most nights, though, it was a straight shot out to the beach where I settled in for some merry-making with the gang. After the kids went to bed, we smoked a few funny cigarettes, drank some beer and indulged in some delicious snacks. Of course, nearly everything is delicious when you’re in that state, but Mardy had gotten the art of munchy-making down to a science. I think we probably had nachos with Velveeta often, but my favorite was fried okra, a delicacy in those parts back then. I used to joke that you didn’t need to swallow okra, it would slide its slimy self down your throat whether you wanted it to or not. Folly Road was also chock full with crab sellers where you could buy a dozen live blue crabs and they would throw in the “boil” for free. I loved the legs and claws but always handed Mike the body from which extracting the meat was harder and grosser.

But just as man cannot live by bread alone, stoners cannot live without sufficient entertainment. Entertainment in the summer of 1984 was the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games where the United States kicked ass because none of the real competition showed up. Four years earlier Jimmy Carter had boycotted the Moscow Games so the Soviet Bloc countries responded in kind when it was our turn to host the summer games. The stars in 1984 were the women’s gymnastic team and the star of stars was Mary Lou Retton. It seemed like we watched MLR every night, but it was probably only a couple of nights.

The week culminated in a weekend in which I probably spent every minute on the beach. Unfortunately, I did so without the benefit of sunscreen and ended up with the worst sunburn I’ve ever had. I was wholly unprepared mostly because I had always taken my sun-resistance for granted. Summers in Riceville were spent in the sun and I tanned easily and darkly. Moving to South Carolina in the summer ironically took me out of the sun as I spent most of my time under fluorescent lights in the Credit Bureau. When I returned to work on Monday after that weekend in the sun, there were huge cracks on my nose, skin was peeling off in thick sheets and my bright red shoulders hurt every time my shirt moved even slightly.

It was worth it, though. The highlight of the weekend was hanging out on the deck late on Saturday night when a couple of girls wandered by. I was always girl-shy as a teenager so it always seemed to be a huge accomplishment to interact with girls I didn’t know. We talked for a few minutes and I invited them to stop by later. I suppose I could barely contain my excitement when I went back inside and told Mardy about my encounter. As was usual in those situations, she merely smiled at my enthusiasm. She understood that I was shy and never pushed or questioned me further than was necessary. Those girls never did come back.