Thursday, December 25, 2008


Seventeen of the best places that I have been (not a complete list by any means)

  • Every part of Ticaboo. Every single part
  • A certain street in San Francisco de Macoris that for me sort of sums up all of the Cibao region of the Dominican Republic, except for the coast – I found that on a 30 km bike ride from Villa Vasquez in the northwest to a place… I don't even know its name – it is about 30 km from Villa Vasquez. It is near where Columbus first landed in the "New World". Why he didn't stop and stay there I will never understand; but, then again, here I am – not there.
  • That fishing pier on base in Orlando. It seemed totally forgotten and I would go there to read on the weekends but the reading usually gave way to staring at the fish below the pier. More than one time a couple of otters stood up on the beach end of the pier and stared at me staring at those fish
  • Red Rocks, Nevada
  • There is a part of Phoenix, just north of the zoo – Hunt's Tomb – at night
  • A running trail along a low cliff between Two Harbors and Cherry Cove at Catalina Island. The Garibaldi looked amazing in the ocean below
  • Muley Point. Near Mexican Hat, Utah. What a view!
  • Naranjal, Veracruz. We could have died there – not from the lack of water but from the water itself. If you know, you know – you know?
  • There is a path on BYU's campus that follows a canal or a stream or something. Plumbs and wild grapes grow there. A father can hold his little son out to pick the grapes across the stream. There is a mouse on an old stump there and lots of obsidian in a sand box down the hill; at least there used to be; if you don't find any of it, you can ask my father about it.
  • The back end of a boat in San Carlos, Mexico. Becky was in the water beginning to enjoy snorkeling. I had Gabe who was beginning to enjoy the ocean and the back end of boats in San Carlos, Mexico
  • Oh, yeah – how could I have forgotten…? The first day it snowed in northern Utah in the fall last year I was at Snow Bird Ski Resort for the wedding of my great friend Frank in Salt Late. Wow. WOW
  • Can the inside of a building make on my list? How about a bathroom? Well, have you ever been to the Bellagio in Las Vegas? I think that it can be on the list. The bathroom, that is.
  • Since we are allowing for buildings – the welcome center at the first rest area heading into Minnesota. The other states should be taking notes. I suppose that Minnesota is doing what it can with hospitality to keep people considering that the cold is doing more than enough to drive people away
  • I climbed to the top of Mount Timpanogos in 2002. I took a largish, roundish, very smooth, blood colored stone, not just red – really, really red. You can decide if this one is the rock or the mountain top
  • Monkeys, morpho butterflies, sloths, iguanas, and sea turtles – all at one single beach in Costa Rica. I look forward to going back with Becky someday. Maybe back is the wrong direction for something that is still in the future…. I don't think that I will ever really go back
  • I caught a new species of dragonfly near a stream on a hillside in a mountainous village whose name is impossible to say in Hidalgo, Mexico (not just new to me either)
  • El Espinazo del Diablo, Mexico on "the fourth best day ever." We saw military macaws flying territorial circles and we found sapphire looking dung beetles on the shoulder of the road. I put this one on the list more out of respect for the others present – I was too busy puking on the roadside to really appreciate it like the rest.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

listen up and read this, people

I have been "reading" a lot of audio books recently. I like the freedom of the audio books – I can "read" them while doing things around the house, while shopping, working out, or other things.

I am a big Stephen fan. On my "reading" list are a lot of short stories by Stephen King (great to fall asleep by), A Briefer History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking, and I Am America and So Can You by Stephen Colbert. I also got some books by Ernest Hemingway, Irvine Welsh, Nora Roberts, Khaled Hosseini, Frederick Forsyth, a collection of science fiction, both of Barack's books, and several others.

But back to Stephen.

I Am America and So Can You:

LOL! LMAO! OMG! It is HILARIOUS! (but perhaps not really suitable for the kids, some of the language in it would definitely make it an R-rated movie on the big screen).

I highly recommend it.

And if you email me, or let me know in the comments, I am willing to "lend" any of my mp3's to my friends. Most email can handle these.

Your friend,


I may post more about the books as time goes on, but not so much that it starts that to feel like homework. But if you have questions about anything specific, I am willing to respond to those.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


We have some Halloween decorations in the garage because they came out of the attic when we put things up for Christmas. My son saw them and insisted that there is a froggy hiding in the pumpkins because there was a frog behind one of our "pumpkins" sometime before Halloween.
Here are some pictures from then:

I guess that if there was a frog there once, it must be there forever. We had fun searching the garage for the hiding froggy. (Gabe is really easy to love.)

Holiday Season

Have you noticed how many people don't like the generic reference of "holiday" season, instead of Christmas season? As a matter of observation, I don't ever hear people complain that we don't call this Kwanzaa season or Hanukkah season, which I am grateful for – not so much because that would bother me (to each his own, you know) but I just don't want to hear more complaining.

On the theme of "Holiday Season" I thought that I would make a list of holidays that fall within a month of Christmas (or so). This truly is a holiday season:

Thanksgiving: Nov. 27

My Birthday: Nov. 29 (In case you haven't yet been celebrating this important event because you didn't know about it – well now you've got no more excuses. Appropriate means of celebration include giving me gifts, showering, noticing changing colors of leaves while thinking positively of me, eating leftover turkey while thinking positively of me, writing me a friendly note, sending me friendly money, being friendly to others while thinking positively of me, mentioning to others that I was born today so that they too can celebrate the birth of me, etc. We can discuss some other ways of commemorating this important day in the comments – I am open to suggestions here.)

Advent: Nov. 30 - Dec. 24 The start of the Christmas season

Bodhi Day: Dec. 8 - Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment (also known as Bodhi).

Winter Solstice: Dec. 21 - midwinter

Yule: the Germanic winter solstice festival

Hanukkah: Dec. 21–Dec. 29 The "festival of lights" celebrates Jewish triumphs

Christmas Eve: Dec. 24

Christmas: Dec. 25 World's biggest festival, has varied roots

12 Days of Christmas: December 25 through January 6

Kwanzaa: Dec. 26 Honoring the values of ancient African cultures

Boxing Day: Dec. 26

New Year's Eve: Dec. 31

New Year's: Jan. 1

Twelfth Night: Epiphany Eve: January 5

Epiphany: January 6: the arrival of the Three Magi. Also called 3 Kings' Day.

My Anniversary: Jan. 18

Martin Luther King Day: Jan. 19

Chinese New Year: Jan. 26 - considered the end of winter in the traditional Chinese calendar.

Becky's Birthday: Jan. 31

Groundhog Day: Feb. 2

Okay, I am sure that I missed a lot, so feel free to correct me in the comments. My main reason for making this post is because tomorrow is Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, and as far as I am concerned that is one of the most important days on that list. Another one of great importance is Groundhog Day because together with the Winter Solstice this marks the (beginning of the) end of winter.

I encourage everybody everywhere to take a moment and celebrate or somehow commemorate the beginning of longer days tomorrow. I know that I will.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Psycho-babble or just a babbling psycho?

You probably know a lot more about Freud, Frued, and Froid than I do so I won't make any direct quotes here, but... I do think that that guy makes some sort of claim that everybody, everywhere is obsessed with penises (well, aren't you?) and that children in particular go through stages of anal, oral, and penile obsessions. I don't know if he mentioned that pubescent and post-pubescent young men go through stages of "girl-part" obsession as well, but if he didn't then I think that his theory has a bit of hole in it (or doesn't...). Anyhow, before I get really offensive ('cause I have already sort of offended myself with that bit) let me get to the point: Freud or no Freud, my boy is obsessed with his penis.

Let me give a little of the back story here. It all started out with what seemed like a perfectly normal, little-boy snake obsession. In this boy's case, he really is made of puppy dog tails and pythons (or however that song goes). Instead of crying for a teddy bear at bed time, he cries for his plastic snakes. (On a side note, if you feel like sending him a gift, had really cool 4' plastic snakes - and if you don't think that it would make it here by Christmas, we can always start celebrating 3 Kings' Day on January 6. Hint-hint.) He takes little plastic snakes to Church. He takes them to daycare. And he takes them to the bath with him. Maybe that is why a couple of weeks ago, as my wife was watching him in the bath, he called out to her, "Look, a snake," after which he started hissing menacingly at her, all the while holding his manhood in a threatening manner.

(I believe that Freud would call this behavior part of the Oedipus stage and I think that the next part of this stage involves killing the father. So, if you are worried, I would accept a hand gun as a Christmas gift and it is my advice to send it before Obama and the next Congress officially take office. I am not personally worried about Obama and the next Congress making it harder for me to fend off my little Oedipus, but it is better to be safe and sorry than just plain sorry.)

So the snake behavior has continued since then; sometimes it involves aggressive chasing as he runs around after us but mostly it is just posturing and hissing at bath time or when his pants need changing. (Thank God that there has been no snake bites or venom so far. The moment that happens, his little 'snake' is going to learn what God said to the snake in Genesis chapter three: ''re getting your head bruised you bad snake....' I know that this is not a direct quote, but if it comes to that I think that the boy is going to learn a lot more about God than anything a direct quote can teach him.) [NOTE: READ THIS POST WITH EXCESSIVE SARCASM]

So today I am watching the boy because, well, I am on vacation and there is nothing more relaxing than having a defiant three year old around. Honesty though, he is my favorite kid on the planet and I really do cherish these times that we get to spend together - that is why I am making this written record. I gave him a bath this morning and after thirty minutes or so I tell him that the bath is over. He dutifully drained the tub but stayed in there laying on his back perpendicular to the tub with head and feet elevated. As the water was draining I was looking in the mirror, watching him and brushing my teeth or something, and I thought that I saw him pee a little in the tub. I couldn't really tell because I couldn't see everything in the mirror - mostly I thought that he peed because he suddenly started checking things out down there as if something really important was going on. I turned to look at him directly and he looked up at me. I really can't confirm that he peed but when you hear what he said you might think that I am right. He says to me in the most innocent, new-discovery sort of a way, "It's a little volcano!" Then, apparently not satisfied with that description, he confirmed, "I have a geyser," as he was taking a closer look at things as if to try to make it 'go' again.

I thought that it was pretty funny and he repeated several times over the course of the day, "It's a geyser," always with a sort of breaking news fascination in his voice and always with enough body language to make sure I knew what he was talking about. He even made sure his mom heard the news when she got home this afternoon.

Thank God for three year olds; this one certainly makes life more interesting for me.


Father of not-so-Old Faithful

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Random Web Surfing

First, I closed the blog for a while in order to make some changes and re-evaluate what place this has in my life. I took away a lot of old posts. I ended up only leaving eleven. I also made some changes to the layout. Welcome back.

I came across a website that is not really pretty but was captivating just the same. I ended up on I was looking up goatees online deciding whether or not to get rid of mine. Since before Halloween I have had a goatee (just on the chin right now) and for much longer than that I have had a soul patch. I was looking at other goatees because I don't self identify with facial hair. I find it a little annoying most of the time. It doesn't itch or anything, but it is just that my self-image, how I imagine myself, is me with a clean shaven face.
So, the part that was most interesting to me is that every featured beard is presented with a long interview of the person wearing it. I particularly enjoyed the section about Michael, a man in his late fifties who has had a beard for the greater part of four decades now.
Here are some of his "random thoughts and observations on his bearded life" and in parentheses are some of my comments:

  • When I see myself in a dream, I don't have a beard.

(This is from a guy who has had a beard for forty years? What does he see then? How else is he different in his dreams? Me, I am the same asleep as I am awake. What about you?)

  • Most women I know don't like my beard.
  • All the men I know really like my beard.

(I don't know what women think about beards or anything else but I can say that to a point beards are okay by me. But then there is that other point where I begin to think of you (bearded fellow) as a creepy homeless person.)

  • If it's going to be a cold winter, my beard starts getting thicker in the fall.
  • Underneath my beard, I have a short sub-beard of blonde hair.

(And you are sure you are not some sort of animal under that thing?)

  • On many occasions throughout the years, while walking through the city, homeless people have called out to me saying, "Hey, Mister, you have a great beard!"

(He seems to share this thought with some sort of pride, which is confusing to me. If it were me at this point, after the first or possibly the second time this happens, I rush home and shave. I mean think about it, what if the homeless community (can you call the homeless a community?) starts complimenting you on other things... is this really the crowd you want to be 'in' with?)

  • More times than not, I find that people react to me as a "man with a beard" and not as "just a person". When they get to know me better, they go through a lot of "re-thinking" of who I am.

(How much re-thinking could they really do? I mean if I carried a squirrel around with me everywhere I went people would (should) think of me as a man with a squirrel. Getting to know me better would not lead to re-thinking; it would just confirm people's previous thinking. Hmm, now that I know you better, I KNOW that you are a man with a beard.... (Oh, and by the way, for those curious, I have been considering carrying a squirrel with me everywhere I go, you know, because in my universe it is either that or grow a full beard.))

  • I've found beards to be visually and socially "loaded" in both a positive and negative way.
  • One time in a Philadelphia art gallery, the owner came up to me and said that she had to run an errand and asked if I would please mind the place while she was gone. I replied that she never saw me before and I could be a disreputable person. Her response was, "You have a beard, you have to be nice." I ended up watching the gallery and taking phone calls for about an hour.


  • A person's car had broken down on the highway and I stopped to help. They asked me to leave, saying that they didn't trust me because I had a beard.

(A normal response to a beard. HELLO - you look like a pirate!!!)

There were other thoughts. You can go to to read them for yourself.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gabe - Future Megastar!

This is Gabe with the wooden crocodiles that I gave to him.

I labeled this video incorrectly. Here Gabe is coloring at a restaurant.

Gabe dancing (sort of).
Don't blink, or you might miss it.

This last one shows Gabe having fun at the University of Memphis in the 100+ degree heat. I think he had the right idea.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Short lived gifts

This is how you know you are a parent - you give great gifts that just don't last.

I got Gabe (and Becky) this (expensive) wooden crocodile from Costa Rica.

It was an instant hit. He loves it. He wouldn't put it down. Until he tripped with it in his hands.

Luckily, Gabe is okay.

Have you seen me?

Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have of Jason Shackelford. He travelled with Gary and I to Costa Rica and he was supposed to come back with us. However, when we were supposed to meet to leave, he wasn't there. I tried calling him several times with no luck. Tuesday morning at about 5 am we drove the streets of Sabanilla/Vargas Araya/Cedros (neighborhoods in San Jose, Costa Rica) looking for him. We waited to board the plane until nobody else was left, all the while hoping to see him show up at the terminal. He never came.

You might say, "He is an adult. Why are you so worried about him?" and I would agree with you to a point. The problem is that after I was robbed, he was the only other person of the three of us who had a credit card. He was the person who was going to have to rent the car in Atlanta to get us back to Memphis. When he didn't show up we had to make other arrangements. I planned on taking Greyhound back to Memphis from Atlanta.

Becky got online after I got in the air and found out that the bus from Atlanta to Memphis is an 11 hour ride that would not arrive until some time early this morning. That is why she got in the car and came for us.

Thanks honey.

It wasn't a cheap drive, but seeing this when I opened the car door in Atlanta might make it all worth it.

I had the camera ready before Becky pulled up. Isn't Gabe's expression great! I was just as happy to see them, too.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The ants go marching

I took this photo here in Manuel Antonio. I like it a lot. If you look closely, you can see that the line of ants is quite long in the photo.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Second Time Camping

I already uploaded this to Picasa, but I am going to put some of the pictures here as well. This weekend was Gabe's second time camping. I don't know if it was all a good experience, but the photos help make positive memories. The weather was PERFECT. The worst part of the weekend was that Gabe got a couple of ticks on him. YUCK. Anyway, here are some photos. Gabe enjoyed just walking in the woods and my favorite part, other than hanging with Gabe, was throwing a ball back and forth with a friend of mine.



This is at the visitor center at Village Creek State Park.
Here is Gabe with his friend, Zack.

Ahh, the joy of rocks------>

Can you see his smile as he pets the horses? Look at the wrinkle near his eye.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

No, Mam, I just walked into a doorknob....

Who would believe that sort of excuse? If a kid tells me that, I am suspecting abuse no matter what else s/he says. I have always felt that way. I don't know if it is something that I heard on TV or somewhere else, but I feel like that is a common excuse when people have been hit in the face. Maybe it is not that common an excuse, but I still think abuse when I hear it - and maybe even more now. You see, Gabe walked into a doorknob this morning. I don't think he even noticed that there was a door there. I was checking the weather on the computer on my bed and Gabe was sitting next to me. He slid off the bed and was walking out of the room looking at a toy in his hands and he walked straight into the doorknob. The door was open, so his aim is bad, not his judgement (he wasn't trying to walk through a closed door at least). It sounded like he hit the doorknob pretty hard and it knocked him to the floor. He cried for almost a minute while I tended to his injury, and now he seems okay. Now here is why I think that the doorknob excuse means abuse: First, Gabe is two years old and just tall enough to be surprised attacked by a doorknob. I am betting that our doorknobs were made in China, and so they may have some residual Chinese martial arts skills a la Jet Li that they used in this case to knock down an unsuspecting two year old. Older kids are much taller than Gabe, but doorknobs don't get taller; so it doesn't add up if any kid older than a two year old uses this excuse. Second, Gabe walked right into the doorknob without even slowing down a bit. It knocked him on his butt. However, he has no black eye, no bruise to show for his fight, nothing. I can only imagine this excuse being used in cases when some, or all, of those elements are present. I am guessing that Gabe's injuries are typical of those that a kid who walks into a doorknob would receive. Black eyes and bruised heads come from something more than a doorknob.

Now, you tell me, have you heard this excuse before? Wait, wait, I think that I remember where I heard this excuse. There was a woman in my church congregation who told Becky and me that that is what happened to her when we showed concern over a black eye that she had. Knowing her husband, we totally suspected abuse; and it didn't make her story more convincing when her children gave totally different accounts of what happened. One said that she tripped at night and hit a hand rail on the stairs (with her eye). I don't know for certain that she was being abused, and I am willing to be wrong about that, but we did not see her back at church for about six months after that and when we did see her again, it was only after she had divorced her husband and he had moved out. That was about three months ago, and she looks much happier - and she has lost the Hollywood drug addict sun glasses (my name for them) a la Mary-Kate Olson that she used to use to hide her black eyes.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

GI Gabe

This is a photo that I took on Becky's birthday. I bought her some chocolates that we left too low on the dresser. Gabe found them and ate all of them before we found him like this. Apparently, rubbing chocolate all over his face is what made it possible for him to be sneaky enough to carry out his mission of eating all rest of the chocolate.
But, you have to admit, he is a cutie.
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Rainy Day

Today is a very rainy day. I was expecting rain all day yesterday, but it never came. I was watching weather radar on, and it sure looked like rain was always only twenty minutes away, but it never came. Last night I was up late, still looking at weather radar (I can do that for hours - it is as good as a lot of TV), and the rain came at 12:01 am. It is like it just waited for Wednesday to end before it started. It was still raining when I woke up. Gabe woke up and saw the rain and started singing a little song about rain. It must be wonderful to be a two year old. I really love my son. He is a very loving little guy. I am sure that it is his age or something, but I like to think that it is just him.
On days like today, it is very easy to sleep in. The rain makes the world sound like you have a pillow over your head already, so it is the natural next step to put one under your head as well, right? So that is what I did. We have a giant love sack in the front room and Gabe and I curled up on it while he watched Winnie the Pooh and I slept. I had a strange dream that I could see mice in my bedroom and I was trying to show them to Becky and suddenly Gabe (not in the dream) tickled me on my face. He is really into doing "Tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle" lately. Anyway, I thought that it was the mice on my face and it really freaked me out. That woke me; it was about 10 am, and the rain had stopped. It was nice to sleep in (just don't tell Becky).


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Price check in lawn and garden

This morning I was cutting the grass. After watching me for a while, Gabe went inside. I thought that he just didn't want to be outside with the loud lawn mower. I was surprised when he came back outside a few minutes later dragging his toy shopping cart. He got it out to the yard and then followed me around the yard as I mowed line after line. He doesn't have a lawn mower so he used the closest thing he could find - a shopping cart.
Gotta love it,

Monday, May 5, 2008

Day at the Zoo

We spent the day at the Memphis Zoo on Saturday. I uploaded an new web album to Picasa (find a link to my Picasa on the right somewhere). I might write more about that later; for now, you can check out the 200+ photos of our outing by looking at the photos. I am working on getting some older stuff on the web as well, so there should be more to come soon.
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bouncing Bo Bo

I wish that bed time was still this much fun!