Thursday, June 28, 2007

Parental Wrath

I was 40 years old when I became a father, so I had a pretty good idea of what parenthood entails. I had no illusions about how much time and energy it required to raise children, and I even had a sense of its relentlessness. But one thing that caught me off guard is the intensity of the emotions. I had no idea that love for your child would cause your heart to ache at times. Nor did I have any sense of the related emotions that sweep through you, such as the overwhelming rage at the mere thought of someone doing harm to one of your kids. Over the years, I've been successful -- maybe too successful -- at repressing my emotions. I very rarely get angry at other people. My anger is usually reserved for uncooperative yard equipment and disfunctional tools, but I really wonder whether I'll be able to keep my emotions in check when my boys are threatened.

These new feelings help put a certain childhood memory into a different perspective. My older brother Mark and I had a friend up the street who was between us in age. We were all in elementary school. Doug had just gotten two pairs of boxing gloves for his birthday, so we decided to take turns boxing. Doug and I boxed first. As Doug pummeled me, I heard my brother shout useful advice like "Hit him" and "Stop letting him punch you in the face." I got knocked around some, but I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it. Mark's turn. He did the same thing to Doug that Doug did to me, only with a little more zing. He even knocked Doug to the ground a couple of times.

That's when Doug's father came roaring out of the house. Apparently, he'd been watching us from inside. He ripped the gloves off of Doug's hands and started putting them on clumsily. He was shaking with anger. Of course, I had bug eyes at this point and I was thinking I better go get Dad. Mark, who was 9 or 10 at the time, backed out in the street, took the gloves off, and said, "You're crazy." Doug's father followed him out in the street and shouted a couple of challenges, like "Are you too scared to take on someone a little bigger?" or "You'll never be a man if you don't stand up and fight," but I don't recall exactly what he said. Just that he was furious. Doug and I looked at each other and shrugged, and I followed Mark home.

Until I was a father myself, I never understood what -- apart from sheer lunacy -- could motivate Doug's father to charge out of the house like that to menace a 10-year-old. Love can get you all twisted up.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Free Soda at the Evil Empire

Last month, I went through the long interview process to get a writing job at Microsoft. I've been at Adobe doing essentially the same job for nine years. I like being a technical writer, and Adobe is right up there with Apple and Google in making interesting software, so in a lot of ways it's the perfect job, but . . . nine years?

While many writers move up in the organization to become middle managers, I've never wanted to be a manager -- more meetings, more email, no sense of accomplishment. And I particularly don't want to be a manager in my department at Adobe, where, um, I better not say anything, because this blog is actually getting more popular, if you can believe that.

With nowhere else to go at Adobe, I applied for a job at Microsoft. Microsoft's main campus is huge. A flock of Priuses takes workers from building to building. It's a 20-minute walk to get from Minette's building to Andy's building, and they're not even on opposite sides of the campus. On the day of my big interview -- I had already gone through an informational interview with the hiring manager and a phone interview with an HR rep -- I sat in a room with 8 or 9 people. As I went over my writing samples, responded to their questions, and asked my own questions, I had that odd feeling of wanting something badly that I wasn't really sure I wanted. One voice said, Please, please, please let me work here, and another voice said, Do I really want to work at Microsoft? It kind of reminded me of the time when a hysterical woman at the lake told me her daughter was swimming right over there and now she's gone, so we lifeguards cleared the lake and went diving to look for a little body that we didn't want to find.

The interviews went well, I liked every single person I ran into, I liked the media projects I'd be working on, and I believed I would "thrive" in that work environment. The only problem was the commute. I live 10 miles away from Adobe and 26 miles away from Microsoft. I don't want to ride my bike 26 miles each way -- that's almost four hours of riding -- and the drive across the bridge is nearly always stop-and-go traffic. Still, I thought I could work out several commuting solutions that involved driving one way and riding the other and combining riding with a bus that has wireless internet. I decided that if Microsoft offered me a job at my current salary, I'd take it. I even started packing up my personal belongings.

Microsoft offered me a job, but it was below my current salary. I still gave serious thought to making the change, but I decided that the first time I sat parked on the I-90 bridge waiting for the white van in front of me to lurch forward a few feet, I would have an argument with myself: "I can't believe I took a lower salary for this! Just shut up and drive. No, you shut up."

I didn't take the Microsoft job. So I'm still working at Adobe. You know, living the dream.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Metacarpal Contusion Syndrome

So I went mountain biking for the second time this year at Crop Circles, a fun little network of trails south of Seattle. It was raining hard. One of the great things about mountain biking in the Northwest is that mud doesn't stick to your tires and gum up your bike. The one problem with rain on this particular trail is that the bush branches get wet and sag out over the trail, so I was drenched within the first ten minutes of the ride. Still, riding in the slick conditions makes the trail more challenging and lets me work on one of my favorite moves -- the Root Slide Out (RSO). When you're riding up and around a tree in the rain, you know that a slanted root is going to cause your bike wheel to slide, but if you anticipate it and have faith in Newtonian physics, you can shift your weight and pedal hard as your bike seems to whip around magically.

About halfway through the ride, I lifted my front wheel over a root while riding up a hill, but the wheel got stuck between two roots, causing me to do an quick endo over the handlebars. My hands hurt afterwards, but I thought little of it and kept riding. A couple hours later, when I was in the grocery store buying all the things that Wendy didn't want me to buy, I noticed that my left hand was suddenly throbbing with pain. (I know "throbbing with pain" is hackneyed, but you can't just say "throbbing" because that's too harlequin. In fact, my hand throbbed so much that my breast was heaving.) When I tried to pick up a grocery bag, it felt like something snapped in my hand, and I got nauseous. Oh no. I've had a broken hand before, and I quickly did the math. A broken hand takes 6 weeks to heal . . . Leadville is, let's see, 7 weeks away . . . carry the 1 . . . I can still do it.

I dropped off the groceries at home and headed over to the emergency room, where they took x-rays. There were two problems with my emergency room experience: (1) they began treatment immediately, leaving me no time to watch videos on my iPod, and (2) they told me that my hand was not in fact broken. Insult to non-injury, they gave me a handout that told me how to treat my contusion, which can be summarized as "Shake it off." I left the hospital as quickly as I could, holding on to my hand tenderly, as if it had been insulted, and called Wendy.

"What did the doctor say?" she asked.

"It looks like I have Metacarpal Contusion Syndrome. The good news is that for MCS, I don't even need a cast."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Greatest YouTube Hits Part I

Back in the early 90s, a bunch of musicians got together to celebrate Bob Dylan's 30th anniversary of his first album. As you're well aware, this is a perfect concert idea, because while Bob Dylan is the greatest songwriter ever, he's not particularly adept at playing music. His voice is quirky, and unless he's playing with The Band, his backup musicians are proficient yet plodding and dispirited. Check out the O'Jays cover of "Emotionally Yours":

By the way, YouTube used to have a video of Angie Heaton singing "I Want You." It's a beautiful version that was in the original concert, which I saw in a bootleg video, and it was left off the video and album. It used to appear on YouTube, but now it's gone, even though many other videos from that concert appear. Does anyone know the history behind this? I assume there was some legal dispute, but I'm hoping it's something a little more interesting, like maybe everyone hated Angie Heaton because she ate all the Cheetos backstage and didn't turn on the bathroom fan.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Great Music Lyrics, Part I

Today, we're featuring the lyrics of "Elenore" by The Turtles. A few Turtles songs are on my iPod in the Bubblegum 60s playlist, so I have a soft spot for them in my brain. I think it's the tambourine. When I listen to any of The Turtles' songs, the tambourine blend is striking. I've seen only one tambourine player who's meant as much to his band. BYT (Before YouTube), when I heard a great song like "Elenore" or "Happy Together," I had to use my imagination to picture the lead singer and the tambourine player fronting the band, with everyone else in the background where they belong. Now, it's just as I imagined, only a little more so.

Anyway, that's not why I'm writing this entry. I'm writing this entry because I wanted to address the beauty of The Turtles' lyrics, especially in the song "Elenore." I thought about comparing the lyrics of "Elenore" and "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles, but that's a little too gimicky. Plus we'd be getting dangerously close to one of those moot Pacino vs. DeNiro debates. No, I just want to focus on the lyrics of "Elenore." Here, listen. And don't get distracted by the battle of the front men. Just pay attention to the words. Close your eyes if you have to.

See what I mean? I sometimes wish my wife had three syllables in her name, so that when I was feeling romantic, I could proclaim, "Wendola, I really think you're groovy / Let's go out to a movie." Or, when this tri-syllabic soul mate of mine is cooking dinner, I could nuzzle up behind her and whisper, "Wendola, gee I think you're swell / And you really do me well / You're my pride and joy et cetera." It's the et cetera part that opens up the canvas. Latin, after all, is the source of all romance languages, and the female mind whirrs when told that in addition to being a pride and joy, she is many other things. Very many other things. I shall now ruminate.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cars, Jalopies, and Automobiles

You know that party game in which you have to say something true about yourself that forces other people to throw pennies in the pot if they don't share that characteristic? Like "I've never had sex with two people in the same day." Here's something I can say to make others lose their money: I don't care what kind of car I drive. Of course, not only is this statement uninteresting, it isn't strictly true. I want to drive a reliable car that gets decent mileage and has reasonable climate control and a stereo. Nevertheless, all those things being more or less equal, I don't care whether I drive the nicest new BMW or a Chevy Impala. For me, a car is little more than a means to an end.

My older brother has talked for years about wanting to get a Corvette. I get the sense that driving a nice car isn't on Mark's wish list; it's on his need list. He even knows which kind of Corvette he wants. I suppose I feel that way about other things, like mountain bikes and iPods, but I've never come close to having the car-as-a-status-symbol mindset.

If I were to rent a car this weekend, here's how the conversation would go:

Rental Car Guy: Welcome Mister, uh, Bringhurst, what kind of car would you like to drive?

Me: It doesn't matter. The cheapest one that has an air conditioner and stereo.

RCG: Oh surely you have some preference!

Me [Not wanting to offend]: OK, I'm in kind of a party mood. How about a Ford Festiva?

RCG: We don't have any Ford Festivas.

Me: Are you sure? Can you check in the back?

RCG: No, we don't have any Ford Festivas. Perhaps--

Me: How about a Saturn Outlook?

RCG: We have an Outlook, but it's gray.

Me: No, that's too bleak. How about a Ford Focus?

RCG: We lack that.

Me: Then how about a Toyota Echo?

RCG: I'm sorry, sir. We don't have an Echo.

Me: I'm sorry, sir. We don't have an Echo.

RCG: I don't understand.

Me: I don't understand.

RCG: Why are you repeating me?

Me: Why are you repeating me?

RCG: That's not very funny, sir. In fact, it sounds dangerously close to a pun, which is the lowest form of humor.

Me: Why are imaginary car rental guys so humorless?

RCG: I don't know. Frankly, I'm not interested in post-modernism.

Me: OK, then can you point me to a Dodge Dart?

That's about enough of that. I'm pretty sure I have something else to do.

[Special thanks to Steve for providing a few new car puns. Feel free to add your own in comments, and I'll "leverage" them.]

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cool as a Cucumber Soda

In case you haven't been paying attention, cucumber soda pop is currently being sold in Japan. This news item is being reported by ABC, CBS, and all the major news outlets. For some reason, this reporting has twitterpated my hackles. It's not that I want only real news to be reported. Far from it. I understand the need for entertainment propaganda in our daily dose of the news, and I'm in favor of the light banter at the end of news programs. Sometimes I'll tune in to ABC or CBS at 11:27 p.m. just so that I can grab my porcine belly and guffaw as the local newscasters wrap up their coverage. Nor do I mind when people point out weird foods that crazy foreigners eat. When it comes to enjoying the blood pudding/monkey brain/raw squid stories, I'm smack dab in the middle of the bell curve. So what bothers me about this story? Just this:

People think cucumber soda pop is stranger than Coca-Cola.

In the interest of full disclosure -- I love this idea by the way, that I've been hiding some revealing truth up to this point -- I don't like soda pop. For reasons I don't recall, I stopped drinking soda pop for a few months back when I was just entering the work force. When I tried Coke again after this long layoff, drinking it was a painful experience. It hurt my sinuses. Mebs. Enkk. I'll drink the occasional carbonated beverage now and then, but I'd almost always prefer juice or water. So there. I admit to a bias.

Yet even for people who like soft drinks, it doesn't take more than a half-second of objective analysis to realize that Coca-Cola is a weird thing to drink. On the Beverage Weirdness Scale, it's very close to cucumber soda. By the way, I want to make it clear that I'm not singling out Coca-Cola in favor of, say, Vanilla Coke or Diet Pepsi or even Orange Crush. No -- it's all the same drink, despite what Dug says. Let's break it down:

First, Coke is a brown drink. Brown. Is a brown drink appealing in any way? In nature, what drink is brown? When noble savages are introduced into our culture, do they think, God, I could sure use a dark brown drink? Second, Coke is fizzy. It's a brown, fizzy drink. There it is. That's my whole argument. And what we have now is a group of people who are making fun of the green fizzy drink. It's as if legitimate soda drinks derive from coca leaves, vanilla beans, or citrus fruits, whereas soda drinks derived from celery or cucumbers are absurd. I reject this unspoken premise.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Sopranos Ending

I finally got around to a repeat viewing of the final episode of the second greatest television show of all time. I have many thoughts on the subject. Some of these thoughts are silly, stupid, vapid, and rife with cliche, so I took the liberty of filtering out those inferior thoughts for the sake of you, the reader. That leaves only the following thoughts:

* I thoroughly enjoyed the scene in which Phil Leotardo was "popped," especially when one of the kids threw up. Great pretend violence.

* I enjoyed the FBI agent's reaction to Phil's hit, but I don't know if I understand it. What does he mean by "We're going to win this thing!"? Is he siding with Tony and New Jersey against Phil and New York? I suppose it makes sense, especially since the FBI agent was angry with Phil for doing something bad to a female FBI agent, but it still seemed like an odd reaction. I wondered if it somehow gives him a stronger case against Tony.

* I didn't like the way it ended -- like millions of other people, I thought the cable went out -- but that doesn't mean I don't respect the ending.

* One of the reasons I both hated and loved the final scene was that it was filmed so well. The best storytellers are able to (1) set up expectations and (2) fulfill those expectations in a satisfying way without being overly predictable or formulaic. Dispute this assertion, if you dare! On the first count, David Chase certainly set up the expectations. We viewers knew that we were watching the last five minutes of the last episode in the last season of the show. There was serious tension with every glance from a customer, with every ding of the bell whenever anyone entered the diner, with every failed attempt by Meadow at parallel parking. As to the fulfillment of those expectations, that's obviously up for debate. In the short term, it wasn't satisfying. But in the long term, well, I'm going to need another bullet point for that.

* In the long term, I think the idiotic black screen serves five main purposes, only four of which has been asserted. Yes, you're about to read something you've never read elsewhere, but don't just skip the first four, because they're important: (1) The controversy keeps people talking. (2) It's an emphatic reminder that Tony's lifestyle forces him and his family to be on edge at all times. (3) It leaves an opening for a movie called The Sopranos. Maybe the Russian from the woods does come back! (4) It doesn't diminish the rewatchability factor. Let's face it. If you know that Tony dies, that would alter the perception of the previous episodes significantly. The ambiguous ending prevents many pivotal scenes in previous episodes from losing their ambiguity. If Tony dies, the whole series would be skewed in a way that makes Tony too sympathetic. (5)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Great Moments in Unintentional Comedy, Part II

If you're a director making a video of an instrumental song, you have to decide who your front man is going to be. In most cases, it's a difficult decision to make, but not here. The organ player is the best dancer, has the best hair, and plays the hell out of his organ. I can dig it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Backing Down

When the boys and I went to the park a couple of days ago, I sat on the bench and watched them play. Luke and Max instantly took to their favorite activity, which is running up the steps and then sliding down a pole like fire fighters. Just as Luke was getting ready to take his turn, a slightly larger boy put his hand on the pole. Luke slid down and knocked the kid's hand out of the way. The two boys stared at each other for a couple of seconds. Trouble. While Luke and Max ran up the steps again, I looked around to see if I could match the kid up to a parent. Nearly all the kids at the park were white, and there was one Latino kid who was with his father, so I assumed that the black woman sitting at a faraway table was the mother of the kid who was taking a dislike to Luke.

I don't know why it was important for me to figure out who the kid's parent was. Maybe it's the fact that whenever I'm at a park and there's any kind of confrontation, real or potential, I think of a short story that left a deep imprint on me -- "Sunday in the Park" by Bel Kaufman. It's about a well-educated couple who take their child to the park. A kid throws sand in their child's face, the sensitive parents try to get the boy to stop, and the boy's gruff father doesn't like their interference. I won't say anything else about it, because the ending is great. It's due to this story that whenever I see a little bully on the loose at a playground, I look around to see what kind of trouble I might be getting myself into in case the bully's father objects to my interference.

The boy stood near the pole and watched Max slide down the pole. When it was Luke's turn, the boy grabbed onto the pole and stared up at Luke defiantly. Luke told the boy to get out of the way because it was his turn. The boy continued to glare at Luke. Max had already climbed up the stairs and was waiting for his turn to slide down. Finally, Luke started to slide down the pole, very slowly, until he eventually forced the kid to give way. The boy crowded Luke. Luke hurried away and came over to the bench where I was sitting.

"I'm going to sit here next to you, Daddy," he said. "I don't want to play any more. I like sitting here."

"No, Luke. You can't do that. You have to get out there. Be brave."

To my surprise, Luke hopped off the bench and ran to the far side of the playground, where I couldn't see him. Max seemed oblivious to Luke's little battle and continued to slide down the pole. I sat there thinking about how difficult it is to get your kids to be sensitive to others' feelings without turning them into mealy pushovers. Maybe that's why so many parents enroll their kids in Tai-Kwon-Do classes...

After about ten minutes or so, Luke came back to our side of the playground. The boy who had menaced him was still wandering around, walking aimlessly on the railroad ties that enclosed the play structure. Luke walked over to the railroad ties about twenty feet from where the boy was headed and began walking towards the boy. They were on a collision course. At this point, I didn't care what happened. I was proud of Luke. The two boys met, faced each other for a few titillating seconds, and the bigger boy hopped off the railroad tie and ran to play with abandoned toys in the nearby sandbox.

Friday, June 8, 2007

This, The Greatest of Days

Today is my birthday. It is on this day that I like to don my sweatpants and sweatshirt, sit on my favorite couch, and ruminate about my favorite subject -- me.

I am 45 years old.

At one time, birthdays bothered me. I used to get feelings of anxiety during this time of year because I was unsettled. I have a theory that for me -- for me, I want to emphasize -- I am happiest in a long-term relationship. I'm wired that way. I'm a conformist, a team player, a company man. Part of me wishes that I were a rebellious free spirit that likes to travel the world, have casually passionate sex with a number of women, and work from job to job like a ski bum. Except for the part about having casually passionate sex with a number of women, that's just not who I am. I save money better than anyone I know, yet I still fret about retirement.

In some ways, I live for retirement. I don't know where this magical retirement is going to take place, but I have this vague notion that in about twenty years from now, I'll sit in some kind of comfortable chair looking out at beautiful scenery, and because I've spent my whole life fretting over money, I won't have to worry about money in my retirement chair. Money will save me from worry. Although it may be the case that sitting in a comfortable chair and looking at beautiful scenery would interest me at this time in my life for about fifteen minutes, I'm assuming that I'll undergo some kind of transformation that coincides with old age. Don't laugh. There's historical precedence. I'm fairly certain that some kind of switch will kick in, and I'll naturally want to wear plaid stretch pants, repeat stories, and talk to someone else while Wendy is talking at the same time. This may seem like a foolish idea, but so far, the aging process has gone exactly as planned for me. You're only as old as you feel, but it just so happens that getting old makes you feel old. I complain about no good music coming out in the last ten years, I have no idea which movies are playing this summer, I repeat the same old stories, and I have to trim the hair that grows out from inside my ears.

Going back to the idea that birthdays used to make me edgy because my life wasn't on track, today's birthday doesn't make me edgy at all, because my life is good. It wouldn't suit me to be married to just anyone for the sake of being part of a family. I love Wendy. I love my kids. I'm fed up with my job, but that's temporary. I'm lucky. It is a happy birthday.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"So, How Were the Boys?"

I'm still traumatized by something that happened a few nights ago. I already wrote about it to a group of friends, but I glossed over it too quickly to gain any therapeutic value. So here's the story.

Wendy was shrewd when she told me about a "little gathering" for the parents of the preschool kids on Monday night. Instead of asking me to watch the kids that night, she took a different approach. "Should we get a babysitter so that you and I can go to the preschool party together?" Wendy knows full well that I would rather shave my head with a cheese grater than go to a party with a bunch of strangers. "Well," she continued, "We can either get a babysitter, or you can watch Luke and Max -- and William."

Whew, I thought. I don't have to go to the preschool party. All I have to do is watch Luke and Max play legos with William, and that'll be that. No problem.

In fact, there were three problems:

  1. I'm training for the 100-mile mountain bike race in Leadville, so on Sunday I went on a 70-mile bike ride, which wore me out. Whenever I push it hard like that, I don't recover nearly as fast as I used to. I still felt like I had a nasty hangover when I had to watch the boys the following evening.

  2. William wasn't coming over. Jackson was. William is a sweet little boy who can spend two hours playing quietly with blocks. When I've substituted for Wendy at the preschool co-op, William always comes near me and asks me to read a book or help with a puzzle. He's a sweet, soft-hearted kid. Jackson is not.

  3. Wendy and Jennifer, Jackson's mother, didn't plan on getting back until after 10:00 p.m.
After feeding the boys dinner, I tried to get them to build towers with Legos. I still had a nasty headache and no energy from the long ride, so my greatest ambition in life was to zone out while the boys played. I watched Luke and Max build towers, and then I watched Jackson crush the towers. No, no, Jackson. More towers, more crushing of towers, more tears. No, no, Jackson. I looked so often at the clock, which was moving much slower than it normally does.

Jackson decided to see what other toys were available. To test a toy's value, he picked it up and whacked it against a wall or window sill. Wham! Wham! No, no, Jackson. Apart from smashing objects, Jackson's favorite thing to do was "wrestle." I put that word in quotes because he isn't so much into wrestling as ultimate fighting. He'd get Luke or Max in the full mount and then head butt them or knee them in the groin or put them in a choke hold. No, no, Jackson. Luke and Max were game, but when Jackson eye gouged them or bit them in an attempt to get them to tap out, Luke or Max would start crying. I had to physically pull Jackson off the boys several times. It's not easy watching your kids get pounded by the house guest.

I'm not saying Jackson is a bad kid. He's just really strong, really aggressive, and really dumb. He'll be a great linebacker, the kind of football player who flies into a pile after the whistle and cold cocks a player who may or may not be on his own team. No, no, Jackson. And then he'll look at the ref with those big brown eyes.

So Wendy and Jennifer came home at 10:30. "So, how were the boys?"

I wasn't quite sure how to answer that, because you don't want to tell a person that her kid is half human, half Tasmanian Devil. But you don't want to lie to her, either. So I settled on, "Oh, they were fine -- a little rambunctious, but we have spackling paste and wood filler, and Luke's and Max's wounds will heal in a few days, and we can drop off the broken toys at the Goodwill and write it off on our taxes."

I like to put a positive spin on things.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

¿Quien es Mas Macho? Part II

In today's battle of ¿Quien es Mas Macho?, we pit two Texans against each other: George W. Bush versus an unnamed truck driver. Any time two Texans go up against each other, you just know it's going to be a battle. Texans do not back down, they do not apologize, they do not explain. Texans are to humans what pitbulls are to dogs. Texans are right, dollgurnit.

Question: When things start going wrong, how does a macho person act? Answer: The same as always. In Texas, it's called "sticking to your guns." Let's start with George W. Bush on Iraq.

I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe — I believe what I believe is right.
I'm the commander — see, I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president.
The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself.
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
My answer is bring them on.

That's going to be tough to beat. Let's see how the unnamed truck driver handles a little adversity. Here's an account of his actions from The Seattle Times.

NEW YORK — A truck driver whose rig was 6 inches too tall for the Lincoln Tunnel drove its entire 1.5-mile length, peeling the trailer's roof completely and ripping off decorative ceiling tiles.
Flashing signs and officers using a loudspeaker had warned the driver, and it was unclear why he didn't heed them, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the tunnel.
"He misjudged the height of the tunnel, and once he was inside it he didn't realize the damage he was doing," said Roy Guzman, the safety director of the trucker's employer, U.S.A. Logistics Carriers of McAllen, Texas.
The driver, from Texas, was charged with nine misdemeanor moving violations.

If you're going to crash the top of your truck into a tunnel roof and keep driving for a mile and a half, you pretty much have to be from Texas. Maybe someone from Oklahoma could pull it off. Maybe.

Anyway, this is a tough one. On the one hand, George W. Bush has acted macho on a grand scale. On the other hand, George W. Bush has shown signs of weakness. He said, "This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating."

Winner: Unnamed Truck Driver.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Luke's Flower

The flower that Luke picked out at the nursery isn't quite as nice as Max's. For one thing, there are no blossoms. I don't like to be too reductive -- baseball is a little more than grown men swinging sticks at balls -- but is there anything more to this "flower" than a tiny little clump of leaves? Luke certainly thinks so. He gets excited when he notices a bud that might blossom. If you look closely at the center of the photo, you'll see a little white thing. This gives the boy hope. You may also notice two stems coming out of the plant. There used to be a pretty little flower on one of the stems that made Luke want to pick the flower in the first place. It's long gone. Also, notice that the plant is happily surrounded by chips and sticks? That's Luke's doing. Happy plants bloom.

Max's Flower

When we went to the nursery, Max and Luke both had a chance to pick out a flower for our garden. We planted the boys' flowers and a few others along the side of the driveway, so whenever we get out of the car, Luke and Max will take a close look at their plants to measure the progress and offer some words of encouragement.

Here is Max's flower. It's a nice plant, what with the leaves and blossoms and all.

(Yes, I know I should have reversed the order of these two posts. I'm an idiot.)