Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Sociopath

     No one questioned why he was larger than the others.  “What a big boy he is,” they’d occasionally say, but the novelty was past.  Familiarity brings comfort.  Just like now, as he leveraged his greater height and weight to lift Timmy up.  
     “C’mon, let me down!  C’mon, it’s not even funny anymore,” Timmy  twittered.  He was the smallest, the last one.  
     “I’m not joking, Timmy, you are too big enough.  You’ll see, you’ll fly just like the others.  They’re going to be really proud of you.”
     “No, I’m too small!” Timmy said.
     “You are not,” he said, lifting him higher.
     “No!  Stop it!” Timmy cried, thrusting a few stinging jabs at the top of the head.”
     He paused a moment before speaking in a soft calm voice.  “Timmy, the others begged Mom and Dad to let them go, and finally they agreed but only if you couldn’t, but I argued with them.  I stood up for you.  Robbie and Erika and Lucy and David, they all told me to shut up.  They didn’t care how the ‘little brother’ would feel, but I knew how sad you would be if they ditched you.  I understand what it’s like to be different.  I just came out a little big and you came out a little small, but that’s all.  We can be just as good as them, Timmy.  Tim ... maybe we can be even a little better.”
     He waited for the words to seep in.  It’s always better when you whisper.  He’d learned that long ago, watching his step-brothers shrill and get nothing.
     “Mom and Dad really said I was too small?”
     “Just look over the edge, Tim, and see how you feel.  Just have a look.  There’s no harm in looking.”
     “I ... yeah ... just to look.”
     Very slowly he pushed upwards until Timmy’s feet just touched the edge.  “How’s it look up there, Tim?”  he said, he voice showing the strain of Timmy’s weight.
     “I’ve never been this close to the edge before.  It’s beautiful.”
     “Yeah, well maybe tomorrow you can try it.  I’m starting to get really tired down here, so I’m going to bring you back down.  Just get your foot off my right shoulder, ok?  It’s killing me.”
     “Oh, sorry,” Timmy said, looking down as he lifted his right foot awkwardly.
     Feeling Timmy’s weight go off balance, he gave a final shove.  
     A fuzzy ball of tumbling white feathers, soundless like a snowflake, a long fall interrupted finally by the forest floor.  Further away from the base of the tree lay the twisted remains of four other wren chicks.
     High above, the cuckoo chick sat alone in the nest and waited for its adopted parents to return with supper.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Curse of Captain Flint

I took the day off yesterday to help Wayne run a writing workshop over at New Heights.  We had a good time breaking a story for a production that the workshop participants, middle and high schoolers, are going to run for their parents on Friday night.  

With the popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean, Wayne decided on a swashbuckling setting with a time travel frame, and we went from there.  I talked about structure and goals, and working within the timeframe of the production, in this case a mere hour and fifteen minutes.  After talking about a few character possibilities, I realized that several of the workshoppers new Treasure Island, so we took it as a starting point, and quickly made it out own.  

What follows is the email I sent to Wayne tonight with my revisions to the story:

Hi Wayne,

I had a great time at the workshop yesterday.  I think we've got a decent shot at putting on a good performance on Friday.

I've worked on the story today, mostly filling in plot holes and tweaking bits in ways that I think will make things run more smoothly.  I hope you like this more fleshed out version.  Please give me a holler if any of these additions are wrongheaded.  Don't hesitate to call me.  My new phone number is (603) 397-5578.  If you like the changes, please go over them with the rest of the cast!  There's a lot of important info here the cast will need to know for the production.

By the way, as part of these changes I've gotten around any occult references in the story ... no more resurrection, but it's still spooky.  Of course, if you want to keep the occult parts in, that's fine ... just disregard the next paragraph.

The backstory I've created for Captain Flint is that during his reign of terror as a pirate in the Caribbean, Captain Flint learned the ways of Voodoo, not actual magic, per se, but specifically how to create poisons and chemicals that create the semblance of death.  Flint would use the ritualistic nature of Voodoo to instill fear and keep his this fellow pirates in line, and to augment the legends about him being the most dread pirate to sail the seas.  Only one other person knew Flint's secret, his loyal first mate, Anne Bonny (who was an actual female pirate, btw).  Eventually, though, the Queen's royal navy caught up to him, but Flint had a plan.  First, he buried a sizable portion of his treasure on an island and hid a map to its whereabouts (a map that Jim Hawkings quite accidentally finds years later).  Before he could be captured on the island, Flint took a potion that would place his body in a comatose state.  Believing their prey to be dead, the officers allowed Bonny to bury him.  Bonny kept on her a vial of the potion that would revive Flint, which she kept with her, waiting for the opportunity to commandeer a ship and sail back to Flint and revive him.

A macguffin is a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock that means an object in a story that has some great importance even though it lacks intrinsic value (think of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction).  In this story, there's an object that is in Flint's treasure chest that the players will need to break/smash/tear to get back to their own time.  It doesn't matter what it is, but it should be something that a wouldn't be very out of place in a pirate's treasure chest.  If you have a good idea what the object should be (and how we can produce it as a prop) then fantastic!  If not, please call me and we can come up with ideas.  In lieu of knowing that it actually is, I'll refer to it in the story breakdown below as THE MACGUFFIN.

I had an idea for a few very simple puzzles that will give the players a little more to do.  They aren't necessary to the story, so if the players don't succeed it's no big deal, but they're simple enough that I expect they will.  For example, in Act 1, if the players ask enough questions about Captain Flint they'll hear that he new things about Voodoo, potions and poisons.  They'll also hear that Anne Bonny has a chest in her quarters containing some of Flint's "witchery."  Bonny's quarters can simply be a door/area/table that's guarded by one of the pirates.  The guard won't move from his post for fear of Anne Bonny and the legends of Captain Flint, but if the players ask questions about the guard, they'll learn that he finds some item of food in the galley irresistible, such that if one of the players tells him that the cook has made that type of food and that another player will stand guard for him, he'll leave.  Inside, the PCs will find a small chest containing the VIALS mentioned in the breakdown of Act 1 below.  Like I said, super simple, but we've only got 30 minutes total for Act 1.  


We open with the participants in the lab of Dr. Marvin Igor, a theoretical physicist notable for his work on Time within the framework of String Theory.  The eccentric doctor is, in fact, obsessed with time, his lab littered with time pieces of various types.  Dr. Igor enthusiastically explains a new experiment he's conducting using an old object, in this case THE MACGUFFIN, which dates from the seventeenth century and was believed to have been owned by a pirate captain.  Through this experiment, Dr. Igor believes that someone could travel backwards in time to the period in which THE MACGUFFIN existed, creating a new timeline in the process, like creating a new stream that flows from a river.  Time, space and matter, the Dr. explains, are all bound together.  If THE MACGUFFIN were destroyed in the past it could never later be used for his experiment, meaning that if the object used in the experiment is destroyed in the past, it will undo the results of the experiment, sending the time traveler back to his or her own time, causing the metaphorical stream to rejoin the river.  After the eccentric doctor expounds upon his theories he rashly switches on the experiment, resulting in a stunning light and sound show.  

After the light show, the speakers play ambient sounds of the sea and Dr. Igor, caught up in the experiment as well, wonders why the room looks so different and the floor seems to be moving.  Outside the door, the sounds of the pirate mutiny echo and Jim Hawkings bursts into the room, explaining that the crew hired to man the ship have revealed themselves to be pirates after his treasure map and that they've already forced Captain Smollet to walk the plank.  As soon as Jim finishes his plea for the players to help him stop the pirates, the leader of the pirate crew, Anne Bonny barges in and misunderstands the situation, believing the players to be slaves that Captain Smollet was secretly transporting for his own profit.  Since Bonny believes she's doing the PCs a favor by freeing them, she tells them that she expects their loyalty, and as a sign of what will happen to them if they betray her, she orders that her men take Dr. Igor and force him off the plank.  As Dr. Igor is taken away, he uses his last words to tell the PCs to find THE MACGUFFIN and destroy it, thereby restoring things back to the way they were.

During the voyage, Anne Bonny will occasionally threaten her crew by saying that if they don't obey "Captain Flint will hear of it."  When questioned about Captain Flint, the crew will say things like the following:

     "After the Queen's men got hold of Flint I heard it took days for him to die, but a man as bad as Captain Flint don't stay dead forever."

     "Back in Haiti, Captain Flint learned all manner of things about potions and herbs and poisons.  It's all witchcraft.  Some say he stuck a bargain with the Devil himself, so he cannot die.  I hear tell that Anne Bonny has got a chest containing his evil in her quarters"

     "I heard the Captain learned the ways of Voodoo and found a way to escape death.  He's beyond the grave now."

If the players search Anne Bonny's quarters, they'll find VIALS CONTAINING POWDERS bearing the labels "Pufferfish venom," "Fugu" and "Coup de Poudre" (all different ingredients or names of ingredients in the powders that Canadian Ethnobotanist Wade Davis discovered were the cause of Voodoo zombification, which he later wrote about in books such as "The Serpent and the Rainbow").

EXT.  ISLAND BURIAL SITE OF CAPTAIN FLINT.  DUSK At the end of Act 1, the players will reach the island (I guess the island could use a spooky name).  Once there, Anne Bonny will make a point of saying that the island is uninhabited, but the cast will see a glimpse of Ben Gunn before he disappears into the shadows. and Bonny will revive Captain Flint, making a big show of it as if Flint is actually returning from the dead.


The revived Captain Flint will make a speech about how he's returned from the dead and now can't be killed (which of course isn't true, and he knows it).  He'll demand to see his treasure map, but Jim Hawkings will refuse to give it up.  The pirates will attempt to capture Jim but he'll escape, dropping the map in the process.  Flint won't care much about Hawkings' escape since he wants to locate the treasure.  With the map in hand, Flint and his men quickly locate the treasure chest, only to find it empty.  In a rage, Flint will demand that everyone search the island until his treasure is found.  

After a quick search, the PCs will encounter Ben Gunn, once a rival of Captain Flint who became a victim of Flint's potions.  In one of his more brutal moods, Flint didn't kill Gunn but left him a lunatic.  Gunn will confirm the PCs suspicion that Flint isn't supernatural, nearly a good chemist, and that he isn't undead, meaning he can be killed.  Gunn will also tell them that he knows where the treasure is hidden, but Gunn won't trust the players until they prove themselves to him by completing a "trial," which means they successfully complete one (or more if we need to pad) of his crazy games.  Gunn will make them play "Popcorn" (Just as we did during the workshop, which will not only be hilarious fun for the PCs but will give them a shared experience with their sons and daughters that they can talk about after the performance.  Time permitting, we should try to fit in the other games we played as well).  

After successfully completing Gunn's trials, he'll take the PCs to the cave where he's hidden the treasure, but once he reveals the treasure, in walks Captain Flint and the rest of the pirates.  Flint will brandish his sword and stand over the treasure, claiming it as his own.  Just after he does so, Jim Hawkings will return, bearing a sword of his own.  Flint will order Hawkings to lay down his weapon, saying that it will do no good since he can't be killed.  Hawkings will waver, but the PCs will shout out that Flint is a fraud, and in his anger Flint will confess, but will claim that his sword will rid him of Hawkings.  The two will fight, and Hawkings will defeat Flint.  With Flint dead (or mearly wounded if you don't want anything as nasty as death in the game), the rest of the pirates will run away.  In thanks for their help, Jim will allow the PCs to have a share of the treasure, in which the PCs will find THE MACGUFFIN, which they will destroy, ending the game (could we do another light show here?  It would be great to have a coda where there's another light show, during which Jim and leaves so the players are by themselves, and once the light show is over, Dr. Igor appears and introduces himself to the PCs as if they had never met).

Ship's brig
Main deck
Anne Bonny's quarters
Island burial site of Captain Flint

Island burial site of Captain Flint
Location of the empty treasure chest
Ben Gunn's hideout
Cave where Ben Gunn has hidden the real treasure.

Oh, No! TiVo, Speak To Me!

After six years, my trusty Sony SVR-2000 TiVo has finally suffered its first hardware problem.  The modem is fried (the “won’t hang up” problem), which is lucky as far as hardware problems go.  The wife and I wondered if we should put more money into the little guy, but since he’s got lifetime service, and we’ve always planned on giving him to my parents and we don’t have the cash to build a MythTV box right now, we’re going to install a Turbonet card and hang an Ethernet bridge off it.  

Sure, it would have been much cheaper to buy an external modem, but my parents have always complained that TiVo uses the phone line (as if it were a chatty teenager who would be keeping them from their important calls), so this much more expensive solution will enable them to adopt it more easily.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bond, Julian Bond

Like the super spy, Julian Bond exudes elegance and intelligence, and while he may not kill people for a living, he's got something else that Mr. Shaken Martini lacks; one hell of a sense of humor (and he's a civil rights leader, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, distinguished professor and not a fictional character). Catch him in this recent appearance on The Colbert Report.

Now, if we could get him to kill people in movies he'd be cooler than Connery.

My Stephen Colbert Interview

Hasn't happened and probably never will, but if I did, here's how it might go.

“Stephen, you are a Roman Catholic, are you not?”

“Yes, I am.”

“And a central tenant of Roman Catholicism is the belief in transubstantiation, that the consecrated host and wine become the literal body and blood of Jesus of Nazareth. Since you first embraced cannibalism, have you eaten anyone else besides Christ Jesus?”

“Not that I'm aware of, but some of the food at Denny's makes me wonder.”

“I'm assuming that you admire Jesus, so wouldn't it make more sense to eat his enemies? It was Jesus, after all, who said, 'Love thine enemy,' so couldn't he have meant, 'Love thine enemies as you love Kobe beef?'”

“I think Kobe beef was a little after his time, so maybe he would have gone for fatted calf, or generic veil, which would be fine because he was into organic. No factory farming in Judea.”

“Ah, but those archaeologists may yet surprise us.”

“Yes, especially if they eat at Denny's.”

“Two part question: since Catholicism also endorses the Trinity, one would imagine that consuming the flesh and blood of God would be the culinary highlight of the day, so is it appropriate to begin with an appetizer? And if so, why in the several masses I've attended have I never seen a menu? I mean, is there a special section in the hymnal or something?”

“This line of questioning is making me hungry.”

“Me too. You want to skip out to the cathedral and grab a Jesus wrap? We can get it to go if your in rush. Actually, that brings up another question. Why no drive throughs?”

“The Church is going to put those in, and I hear they're going to accept E-ZPass. It's just so much more convenient that way.”

"Most people deplore canabalism, or at least pretend to while inviting the neighbors over for dinner, so does it ever surprise you that there aren't protests outside each mass? People carrying signs that read, 'He died for our sins, not our stomachs' while chanting, 'Don't chew that Jew!'"

"I've always found, 'He's full of grace so stuff your face,' a more effective motto. When I was a kid I liked 'Emmanuel tastes really swell' but that's so pre-Vatican II."

"Is Christ-meat kosher?"

"Also grade A, and possibly Angus."

“Final question. Let's say I wanted to become a Roman Catholic so that I too could savor the savior, but I'm also health conscious. Where could I find nutritional information? Shouldn't that be posted in the back of the weekly bulletin or something?”

"It is. It's just in Latin. But don't worry. Jesus contains zero grams of trans fat."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

WW III ... Or IV ... Maybe V

Remember all those increases in the terror alert level before the 2004 Presidential election?  Have any happened since?  Well, we’ve got another election coming in America and it appears that the Right wing scare machine is cranking up.  According to those pundits at Fox News, we’re in the midst of a World War; they’re just not sure which number it is.  

Now, I’m showing my age here, but I vividly remember living in the shadow of a nuclear holocaust, and I’m neither vaporized nor breathing in fallout, so I’m betting that the big red button hasn’t been pressed just yet.  

What’s going on in Lebanon stands as a terrible tragedy, and one that I don’t wish to minimize, and I pray the week old conflict there will end very soon, and to manipulate that tragedy for political purposes (and ratings) sickens me.  What will the paranoia-mongers peddle next?  An alien invasion?  I can see the Fox News ticker now, “Terrible invasion from the stars continues.  Analysts say science-loving liberals expected to be soft on marauding space-aliens.  President ‘resolved and ready’ appearing before cameras wearing a space suit.”


If you haven’t seen this yet, take a minute.  Innovative gameplay isn’t dead, and bless Valve for supporting it.  According to my co-worker Scott, Valve saw a demo of the portal gameplay that was created by a group of students at Digipen (alma mater of our former intern, Ryan), and they liked it so much they hired the team to complete it using the Source engine.  If you’re wondering when you’ll be able to buy it, don’t fret, because it’ll be bundled in with Half-Life 2: Episode 2.  

But wait ... there’s more.  Valve will also include another stand-alone game with Ep. 2, the sequel to one of the most beloved team games, Team Fortress.  And if you own an Xbox 360 or PS3 you’ll be able to buy the entire line of Half-Life 2 products in one gigantic bundle plus Portals and Team Fortress 2.  

Once again Valve proves their intelligence and dominance.  I love these guys.

Now, rewatch that video and think about how cool that game uses portals when compared with Prey.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


During my sophomore year in college it occurred to me that ignorance is not knowing what you don't know. I think someone famous once said something similar, but I thought of it independently and my wording is better (more confusing, but with that “what did he say again?” whiff of wisdom. Yeah, you smell correctly).

Ignorance, that state of not knowing, is less about a large number of things you have yet to learn, but your own blissful blindness to that massive number. It's a state often accompanied by its good friend and weekend drunk-chick trolling partner, Ego. In the pantheon of the human condition, these two are roomies who share a house with Self-righteousness and, of course, Bill O'Reilly. To have given yourself over fully to ignorance, you not only have to not know nontrivial things, you have to look to that lack as one of the crooked pillars of your own superiority. After all, why bother to look more deeply at say, facts. Only pinheads want to complicate issues. The world comes in two colors, black and white; just don't feel too much pity for those who see in color because they were asking for it.

Life is simple; you're right and anyone who disagrees with you is wrong, no matter what. When you perceive a threat, attack. If that perception turned out to be wrong you were still right to attack because of your good intentions, your irresistible manliness, and because God loves you. Anyone who says differently is a hippie liberal faggot and Ann Coulter will barrage them with personal attacks as soon as she pulls her face out of that bowl of dogfood.

So, keep those designer blinders on, Right Wing America, they look good on you. Just remember not to look in the mirror or you might learn something.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Rome Conquers

"Chrrrristian, go to your God!" With these immortal words and his friendish grin, Jay Robinson defined Roman emperors for a generation. Thanks to a collaboration between HBO and the BBC, Rome gives us an historically accurate and engrosing look at Julius Caesar. We see Caesar mainly through the eyes of two Roman soldiers, a great perspective since the series takes us through the death of the Republic and bloody birth of the Empire. Ray Stevenson charms as the earthy Titus Pullo and Polly Walker nearly redefines the Bitch as Atia of the Julii. We're almost halfway through the first season and so far, it's worth all the slaves in Gaul.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

What Is Israel Doing?

Ok, I get that missiles raining down on your Northern border is a very very bad thing, and I'd be firing back without question, but ABC World News Tonight just reported that Israel is taking out food stores and grain silos. Combine that with the general targeting of the infrastructure of Lebanon and you've got a war against Lebanese civilians. C'mon, these people just got themselves out from under Syria's yoke; they're trying to distance themselves from those governments that directly support Hezbollah, but it's going to take time. All this devastation will turn out more recruits for Hezbollah and Hamas, and once again it will allow both Syria and Iran a battlefield in which to pump resources to further bloody Israel's nose.

And when President Bush spoke on the subject today, he did not urge Israel to show any restraint.

Listen, I'm not trying to defend Hezbollah. I think they would have gotten what they wanted long ago if they'd used Ghandi's playbook. But this firestorm erupted after Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah was looking for a prisoner exchange, something that's been done in the past. They took military men, not civilians. For Israel to go whole hog wild against civilian targets like food stores is unwarranted and will only fuel the anti-Israeli (and by extension the anti-American) fires already burning throughout the world.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Moving On In

Got an email from the folks this morning (since the phone wasn't yet fixed) to say that the buyer for their house just landed themselves a buyer who wants to move in pronto. My folks had to agree to be out by September 15. Ain't no way the addition will be done by then, even if construction started now, so the parental units will be co-habitating for a while.

Hopefully not a long while, but we'll find a way to make it work.

Amanda and I worked the phones and I've gotten one callback from a builder who says he's available and can start as soon as we'd like. Once I get the finished plans (I called the house designer to ask that we get them sooner) and we get the building permit then we get quotes and off we go.

TiVo Answers ... the Phone

The phone is finally fixed! It only took Comcast eight days! Yeah!! I actually liked this last problem, though. This was the behavior; person calls the new number, something picks up before the first ring and immediately hangs up. Who was the mystery hangerupper? TiVo.

You heard right. My TiVo series 1 was actually answering the phone. Freaky! And what drove TiVo to refer all incoming calls to the dial tone? A combination of the ring tone signal sent by Comcast's VoIP and the reversed polarity of the wires in the telephone jack that was connected to TiVo. I can't make this shit up.

Why were the wires reversed in that telephone jack? Because the tech who installed that jack when I first got TiVo back in early 2000 did it that way.

So now the question is ... why did TiVo program the units with the ability to answer calls before the first ring, such that the humans in the house would never know? Urgent software patch? American Idol suddenly changes timeslots?

But before we rejoice too muchly, there might be another problem. When I called John this afternoon, he said my caller ID read "Manchester, NH."


For years, Slashdot greeted me each time I opened my browser. To this day it remains one of the best sites for breaking tech news, and I still lament that Voices From the Hellmouth only saw a short print run. Speaking of, read it online if you want to understand the aftermath of Columbine on geeks and nerds across the U.S. and the means by which the wrong reaction of parents and educators left them more victimized then ever (and then read "More Stories From the Hellmouth" and "The Price Of Being Different").

But I slashed the dot from my homepage ages ago, not just because Digg was cool, or because the /. community ranted too much. Actually, I found the Slashdot community one of the best aspects of the site. The problem was with the editors.

Slashdot's motto is "News For Nerds. Stuff That Matters," but it should read, "News For Nerds That Matters To Whatever Editor Saw Your Submission Request." You see, Slashdot gets thousands of story submissions each day, they have a small pool of editors to review them, and they can't publish them all, so your no matter how nerdy your news might be or how painstakingly you check that it isn't a dupe you must succumb to the whims of a person. I found this out the hard way the day that Serenity was greenlighted. I knew there were bunches of Browncoats on Slashdot, so I submitted the news the minute word got out. An hour or so later I checked and saw that Michael had rejected it. Twelve hours later, Cmdr Taco put someone else's post about it on the front page; same link, and basically the same verbiage (though mine had a few links to the biggest fan sites to boot).

I emailed Michael about his rejection and his reply summed it up. He said that he didn't care for Firefly so he didn't care about related news. I wish I'd saved the email, because his tone spoke volumes. What didn't matter to him didn't matter. I should be pleased he slummed it enough to personally reply.

If Slashdot had a solid editorial policy, one that reflected their motto, Michael would have realized that "News For Nerds" meant just that, and didn't include the disclaimer, "Except If Michael Doesn't Like That Corner Of Nerdom."

And it would be great if those same editors didn't publish duplicates on an almost daily basis.

Monday, July 10, 2006

North Conway Vacationing

We're on our last night of three away from home and kids, up in the beautiful White Moutains. We're staying at The Kearsarge Inn which is just across from the Conway Scenic Railway in the cute downtown of North Conway. Being within walking distance of the railway proved convenient since we did the Sunset tour in the dining car on Saturday. The views and the food were excellent. Thankfully the weather has been great too.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon playing Jambo on the front porch. In the morning, we bought snacks at the local grocery which we ate before we played. No children to worry about, just my dear and I enjoying blue sky and a light breeze with bread, wine and brie.

Unfortunately, my parents gave us a worry today. We spend the late morning and most of the afternoon driving the Kangamangus Highway, (which I recommend, btw) but when we get in the door of the hotel the innkeeper asks us if we're in room 207 and did we see the note. Turns out my parents had placed a frantic phone call hours before. We rushed to our room and rang them, wondering what emergency had occurred. Brace yourself ... a black fly bit Hazel. Yes, the note read "Call ASAP" because Hazel suffered a bug bite. Here's hoping things will be less paniced when we return home tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fireworks Go Boom!

I think I’m coming down with something because I’m yawning as I write this and I’m going straight to bed when it’s done.  God bless the inventor of the foam-temperpedic hybrid mattress.  

Frank and Adriana came up for the holiday weekend and we had a nice time.  I hope those two will work out.  One thing, though; Frank doesn’t realize how opinionated he is, and how that trait grates on people like his girlfriend.  The wife and I caught a few eye rolls and sighs of exasperation.  Maybe Frank is insecure, but he’d do himself a favor if he realized that he doesn’t need to prove his knowledge at every opportunity (Almost as soon as he got in the door he saw Amanda feeding the dogs and began lecturing her on the evils of prepared dog food).

Yesterday was July 4th, Independence Day for we in the States, when as a celebration of our nation we blow shit up real good (and outsiders wonder why our culture seethes with violence).  We had a good time, staking out our usual spot in Durham near the ice cream truck — for the kids, man, for the children — at least most of us did.  Once the kaboomies began, my poor son hid in terror from the rocket’s red glare.  Amanda and I did our best to sooth him, but he just buried his head in the blanket until the light and sound assault was over.  What was that poem by Sheryl Savageau about seeing fireworks when she was a child?  I’m too tired to look it up now, but that was a good one, and she was a real sweetheart.  I wonder if she’s any relation to Shirley?