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LIFE (permalink) 02.28.2011
missed love
in re-reading last week's deepak breakdown, i fear i may have not been entirely fair in my review. while it is true that he did not spoon-feed me answers to the questions he initially posed, his book still contained its share of pulpy goodness. my favorite mouthful (and i'm paraphrasing):

if you're in the business of trying to change others or waiting for others to change to your way of thinking/living, consider something difficult you have tried to change in yourself and how challenging it was, even when you had all of the control. then consider making a dramatic change in another when you have no control over their thinking or actions.

i've bumped into that very problem a great many times over the years. and here's one i didn't get from deepak but i've leaned on plenty over the last ten years:

you will never be able to change your past, but you can have all sorts of opinions about your future.

i don't know who to credit for that one as i've read it, or some semblance of it, in many different places. i've even had marty remind me of the point a time or two as well.

WIFE, KIDS (permalink) 02.25.2011
pirates of the caribbean is poppycock
friday is movie night in our house. first the family watches a kid-friendly show ** . after our family movie and putting the kids down, i watch a troy movie. if marty doesn't fall asleep with the kids she'll usually stop by to see what i'm watching, contemplate it for a moment, and then either join me or move on. last week she joined me. the pick was called The Last Picture Show. i'm not sure who referred it to me. it just showed up the netflix sleeve (i'm a tragically horrible netflix queue manager ****). the movie was odd and not too long in you got to see a young cybil sheppard topless. quite certain that would be the movie's crowning achievement for me, i went to sleep with my head in marty's lap. marty stuck it out. when it was done she was intrigued by the male lead and looked him up on imdb. his portfolio led her to watch an episode of 21 jump street and melrose place. this translated to her being awake well into the 2am hour.

the next day, around 4pm marty cautioned the kids that she was tired and not in a good mood. bella asked what was wrong. marty said she stayed up too late the night before. bella asked why she stayed up. marty confessed that she was watching shows. bella ruminated on this for a moment and marty actually saw the realization settle into the girl that there is no one to tell moms and dads when enough is enough and it's time to go to bed (like it or not!). bella then turned to her brothers and said, "alex! anthony! do you hear that? when you grow up it's important that you make good choices because no one will be there to tell you what to do. nothing is for free!"

i would pay a whole lot of money to know where that "nothing is for free" closing stems from. it's strong. i've already used it four times in just the last week. when you get the inflection just right, it gives everyone pause. in fact, it's almost as effective as swearing to people you believe johnny depp's best work happened in 21 jump street.

** right now we're doing a special movie night project where we're going through the alphabet. this means the week's letter defines both the movie and our meal. last week, E, was E.T. (which anthony keeps calling E.T.A. for some reason) and we ate enchiladas.

**** i read or hear about a movie and then add it to my netflix queue. the movie can show up more than a year later and i have no idea what drew me to it. sometimes you get a pleasant surprise in this lackadaisical approach to life, but most times you just get stuck with kooky movies you're not in the mood for. this proclivity is also why i don't play fantasy football. i once had a week where two of my rostered players were on a bye week. i lost in that case too.

p.s. apologies for all the errors and typos in yesterdays gallery posting. i took ill that evening and was working through the haze of a robitussen induced coma. i don't really have a good excuse for the rest of the days.

WEB (permalink) 02.24.2011
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
February 2011

KIDS (permalink) 02.22.2011
not the kind we watch at least
it was sunday morning. the kids were strewn about the house getting their hour of screen time. marty and i were in bed getting our hour of husband and wife time. the serenity was broken by anthony running down the hallway on the other side of our closed door yelling, "i have to go pee!" (as has been chronicled here before). i acknowledged his call with a household version of "roger, copy that." fifteen seconds later marty broke the renewed silence by saying, "you don't hear that get called out in the background of porno movies too often, do ya?"

LIFE (permalink) 02.18.2011
what's your horse look like?
i teach a college class. it is called Presentation Matters. it is a class i designed from the ether three years ago. presentation matters is about, in short, applying the traditional creative process, as taught in basic composition and the like, to technology and/or digital problems. this may seem obvious and unnecessary, but i've got a semester-long curriculum backed up by 1.4 trillion bad powerpoint decks and generic files that says otherwise (and yes that was a troytistic!). if i could have renamed Presentation Matters in the second year i would have called it Thought Matters. and, if i could rename Presentation Matters this year, its third, i would call it Focus Matters. what happened to zavisa and the recipe, as detailed yesterday, is what i try to get to happen for my students. his saturday afternoon is a study on the power of passion, intent, and focus. more importantly (most importantly!) is that the experience zavi had can be captured and ridden, like a horse in the wild. one just has to go look for their palomino on the prairies and in the woods.

when we're doing things we don't like, our minds wander, often to things we do like. so if you're able to position yourself doing what you like, good things are bound to come from such focused time. if nothing else, we'll all enjoy our workday a bit more which translates to a little something called our professional lives.

were i saying this to bella, her brow would have furrowed several sentences back. in fact, if she made it through the fifth sentence, i would have been glad to get that far. but odds are she would have held a hand up pausing me long enough to say i was getting "lecturey". if you feel as bella surely would (and surely will again), apologies, but it can't be helped as such things are a passion of mine, they are my horse, and i get excited every time i see one dash by.

if you need further evidence, check out the final product of zavi's passion product which i forgot to share yesterday. hopefully he won't mind that i plundered his facebook gallery for this week's content. i steal only in the name of love and respect.

click to enlarge

LIFE (permalink) 02.17.2011
a meaningful four hours
i was at a small dinner party of a friend almost ten years ago. while there an older lady struck up a conversation with me. she had a thick accent which she told me was bosnian. she asked what i did for a living and i told her i was in technology, web-technologies specifically. to this she lit up, put a hand on my arm, and asked if i would talk to her son, zavisa, who was in school studying graphic design and had interest in "this web stuff". being part of a burgeoning industry such requests were frequent so i easily said sure, of course i would talk to her boy, knowing that serious inquiries rarely followed, especially ones that began with a mother's nudge.

this was not to be the case here. a few days later i received a message from the lady's boy, zavisa, or zavi to be kind to ethnocentric, american mouths. the message was quite long by today's hurried, email standards. in it he explained his studies and interests. he forwarded me a number of websites he had done for friends and university organizations and asked my opinion about his work. given the effort he put into this message, i replied in kind, reviewing his sites, making notes where i thought things could be improved, and commenting on his work's general strengths and weaknesses. when i hit reply i figured he would deem this mine empty and move on. again, this was not to be the case. he replied with another long email asking for clarification on some points, questioning others and with this our exchanges continued for several rounds. in time he gave me a profuse thank you and that was that.

more than five years later i bumped into zavisa through a co-worker. zavi was doing well in life and work as his earlier, voracious emails would imply such a mind would. he's gone on to become an everyman judge and represents one of my most thorough and eager eyes. at last year's everyman party he and his girlfriend arrived late, coming through the door as marty and i were saying goodbye to what we thought was our last guest. zavi, his girlfriend laura, and i sat by the fire and chatted, catching up. he expressed dissatisfaction in his job. i'm going to blame my severe fatigue at the moment but i fear i came on strong in my response. i all but chastised him for staying at a job he was unhappy in. i listed his many skills, his many gifts and said it was crazy that someone as talented as him do anything he doesn't want to. i even pulled out the dreaded "if i had your skills when i was your age, what i could have done" bit, which in some regards is valid but in so many more is not. again, i was deathly tired. his response was that the market sucked and no one was hiring. to this i said i never knew a passion that waited for a market. passion is passion and if you have it you just do it whether you're paid or given benefits or not. when he left i felt poorly about the conversation. i like and respect zavisa and felt that i was overly heavy-handed with him at what should have been a simple and relaxing social encounter.

a few months later i received an invitation to zavi's thirtieth birthday party. these days i go out a handful of times a year, but he's always been supportive and helpful to me so i decided to turn in one of my few kitchen passes with marty to go to the saturday night event. when i arrived the apartment was filled with people all more than ten years younger than myself that i didn't know. i made my way through the shotgun layout to find zavi and laura churning out custom pizzas for their guests (it was a make your own pizza party). i chitted and chatted with folks practicing my cold conversation skills and then got to catch up with zavi in the back. remembering something he lit up and said he had a cool thing to tell me. it was this. laura was out of town at a conference and he was left alone for the weekend. a friend had asked him for a bread recipe. when he went about getting it together, he had a notion of doing something a little different than just boringly typing out the steps and sending an email and instead spent a few hours of his solo-weekend afternoon making a graphical version of the recipe (shown below). when it was done he posted it to his facebook page. shortly after that it was picked up by reddit. and shortly after that he was contacted by two men asking if he wanted to collaborate on a project with them. when he asked more about the two men he came to learn one of them was an internet pioneer who created a recent-ish technology anyone reading this page uses and benefits from daily.

i'm surely not going to imply that my passion talk in december had anything to do with this success (believe me, i wish i could take credit for zavi's body of work) but this is definitely what my passion-talk was about. kudos zavi for this success and the others that are sure to follow in its wake. beautiful and inspiring stuff.

click to enlarge

PERSONAL, QUOTES, LIFE (permalink) 02.15.2011
happy birthday momma
after my mom died, i found the below card among her things. i don't remember how old i was when i wrote it. more truthfully, i don't even remember writing it. that said, i can tell you that seeing i wrote it, and that she kept it, has spared me untold agonies. i would suggest, if you have things to say you haven't said to people you deem dear, get them said. and after you do that, keep doing it. because even though i felt infinite relief at this discovery, i still carry the regret that i needed it to remind me i said it in the first place.

click to enlarge


dear mom,
i hope this got to you in time, sorry if it didn't. i hope you are having a good day (or had). lately i have been hearing a lot about adoption and i hear girls talk of insecurities they would have in adopting children. they think that the kids would want to find their biological mom. and i hear adopted kids say they want to find their mom. i hope you don't have any such insecurities regarding me, because i assure you, you don't need to. to me i have only one mother and she it the greatest mother in the world. i love you very much and feel very fortunate to have been blessed with you. thank you for everything and never forget that i love you very much. thank you for everything mom - i love you.

your son,


KIDS (permalink) 02.14.2011
why we make choices for our children
somehow marty got to talking to the kids about wills. marty explained what a will was, why you need one and that she and i don't yet have one.

the two main things that came from the conversation are:
  1. the kids would like to be part of selecting who gets them should both marty and i pass. my children's leading candidates were our immediate neighbors given their television, wii, handheld gaming devices, and dog. interest or appeal for any of the humans in the house was never mentioned.
  2. bella and alex verbally climbed over one another in a feverish pitch for any and all electronics and computers i own.
while marty and i have finally settled on who she and i would like to approach about taking our kids in such a tragedy, if you would like to submit your name for consideration, i'm sure the ease in which you could buy my children's vote would be both grotesque and embarrassing.

COMPUTER (permalink) 02.11.2011
next please.
and speaking of apple, i almost forgot about a recent interaction i had with them. one of the imac's in my office flaked out so i took it to our local apple store for repair. i made an appointment with the genius bar, boxed the machine up (rookie move not to keep the original packaging!) and went to the appointment. it was a few weeks after christmas and at 10am on a friday, the sprawling store looked just as crazed as it did days before christmas (buy more stock!). a man standing at the door, took the heavy box i was carrying from me and led me to the check in spot. typical apple care thus far. i reported into the ipad-equipped angsty kid with bangs in his eyes, spandexy jeans, and an ill-advised lip piercing. the apple host(ess) informed me that due to a higher than expected volume of customers today they were asking patrons if they minded doubling up with technicians. not so typical. reading this as a "share your time with someone else or don't get helped" kind of option, i said that would be fine. i was then told they were running about fifteen minutes late. i nodded again in impotent compliance.

just as i stepped back to wait my go, a man approached the two employees managing the queue and brusquely began

you can take my name off the list. i'm going to go buy a pc.

TROY (laughing genuinely)
ha. that's a good one.

CUSTOMER (looking at me sideways then back to the apple-fanboys)
no, i'm serious. i'm tired of this. every time i do this, i go make an appointment in your over-designed website only to come here to be told that you're running behind.

i'm sorry sir. it's just that a lot of people are needing help with their christmas purchases.

what's the point of an appointment system if you don't keep your appointments?! i've been waiting here thirty minutes. i have places to be and i don't have time to sit around waiting for help for a computer that's supposed to work in the first place. so i'm going back to a pc. at least then i know what i'm getting!

the man left. after he was out of the hipsters sightline, they spoke under their breath to one another, saying something along the lines of "yeah, enjoy your pc mister", a quip as inventive as each of the lad's fashion sense. i smiled at getting to take in the bit of impromptu drama. i then sat back and studied the varying levels of exasperation among the mixture of folks waiting for help.

very close to the fifteen minute mark i was approached. my machine was unwrapped and setup by the tech. i was sharing my time with a man a bit older than myself. he had a laptop which he was bringing in for his college age son. we both explained our problems and the tech began his diagnostics. in the quiet of our workspace, i asked the other customer if this kid was his oldest or if he had more. he lit up at getting to talk about his children. when done he asked about my brood. we exchanged brief technology-related stories about our kids only occasionally being interrupted by the apple tech with a question. enjoying this unexpected social encounter while getting my machine worked on turned out to be a pleasant addition to an otherwise irksome task and another inconvenience apple recently dealt me that in the end, proved more satisfying than i initially expected.

i believe unforeseen advantages to be one of the hopeful products of thoughtful and sophisticated design. granted had i been paired with a loud-phone talking, suv mom complaining about the brightness of her ipad screen, i may not be fawning so. but that is another by-product of design - they can all be improved upon, which is what keeps many of us getting out of bed each day.

KIDS (permalink) 02.10.2011
mass-appeal, not mass-produced
i've now had to borrow money twice from my kids. both times it was alex. once it was to give a holiday tip to my haircut person. and another time it was so i could buy the spicy beef noodle soup i eat for lunch every saturday. i would have asked bella for it but she just depleted her account to buy an ipod (partially aided by a $50 gift certificate i gave her for christmas).

i initially intended to get her a apple gift certificate but when i went to the store the week before christmas, in addition to it being a madhouse, it was also completely bereft of gift certificates (buy stock!). the pert girl pulled a ipad voucher from a rack and said it could be used as a regular apple gift certificate. i took the oversized card from her. upon opening it up the first thing you read is, "congratulations! you are now the proud owner of an ipad!". after reading the words i looked back to the girl with eyes that said, "really?". she assured me it would work the same. i agreed, minus the part where my nine year old shrilly screams "an ipad! holy shit dad you rawk! thanks! you're awesome!" to which i get to explain on christmas morning that it's not really an iPad but a fifty dollar credit for the ipod nano she's been saving for which she would have thought pretty awesome until she thought four seconds earlier that she was getting in iPad. the still-smiling apple girl held to her "works the same guns" with the holiday turmoil roiling behind her. i handed the ipad voucher back, thanked her for the trouble and left the store. then, on christmas eve, i was afforded an adolescent moment of hand-making something to give at christmas. now that it's done, apple running out of their shiny and metallic gift cards was one of the brighter points of my 2010 christmas.

click to enlarge

the only thing more satisfying than crafting the homemade card for bella was seeing the homemade cards bella crafted me for christmas. 1 to 10 hours!!! huzzah!


click to enlarge

click to enlarge

FRONT (transcribed)
(on back instructions)
Free Back Scratch or Head Scratch
To: Dad
From: Bella

1 to 10 hours of full back scratch or head scratch

(as long as Bella can have a book or movie)

Price: 0.00
Real Price : "Thank You!"

BACK (transcribed)
1. give Bellacard to Bella
2. choose from a back scratch or head scratch while (bella is) watching a movie or reading a book
3. feel the "magic" work
4. Thank Bella!

All Done

(also you can buy these BellaCards by the packs of 20 for only $1)

i've already redeemed several.

click to enlarge

HYGIENE (permalink) 02.09.2011
our home's green initiatives have gone brown.
and for any daft enough to think i couldn't keep the stool train on the tracks another day, allow me to present...

between marty and their teachers my children have been instilled with maniacal notions about energy conservation. they unplug the microwave after using it (b/c of the digital clock). they turn the light out on me when i'm working in the basement after calling down a feeble and unhearable, "is anyone down there?" (even though i was taught as a kid that turning lights on and off through the day was more costly than letting one run continuously). and some of them don't change clothes as often as they maybe should as evidenced by aleo's lonely one pair of underwear next to bella's stack of eleven on laundry night (i'm not entirely convinced his refusal to change bloomers has anything to do with saving the planet).

as annoying as it is to have to re-plug in the microwave with each use, or to have to stop what i'm doing to go up the stairs to turn the basement light back on, or to get a face-full of alex's unwashed briefs in round of roughhousing, their one and only initiative i'm declaring war on is how seldom anyone in this house flushes the toilet. the policy began innocently enough as the common-ish brown goes down, yellow is mellow. while this approach was not my preference, i learned to deal in the name of the team. but somewhere the rule underwent a sinister mutation and the policy now appears to be if we don't have to rush the person who just moved their bowels to the hospital, there is no need to flush the commode. if you're unable to imagine the cumulative effects of such a practice, allow me to help.

when i was in college and lived in the dorms, my floor had a feud with another all-male floor in the building. i have no idea what started it or why it persisted but on random intervals marked by boredom and angst, pranks would be directed at the enemy floor. after all these years i only remember one. we were the victims. what happened was in the night several people, i'd wager between five and seven, from our nemesis floor came down and took a dump in one of our bathrooms, in one of our toilets. the thing that marked it memorable was they never wiped (there was no toilet paper at least) and they never flushed. they just defecated. again and again. come morning what was left was a pristine bowl with a settled mass of brown matter in the bottom half. the contrast against the white porcelain was mesmerizing and thought provoking like contemporary art. as a gaggle of us stood around this unexpected marvel in morning, we surely resembled the uncertain chimps finding the obelisk in 2001 only we were in towels and holding plastic bins of toiletries. one of us reached forward and pushed the flusher. the rest of us were so entranced no one could say "don't do that!" fast enough. so it was done. but i imagine it had to be done (what else could be done?). a mess ensued. a mess so nasty and vile and inspired that we, young as we were, felt actual sadness and empathy for the poor worker who would be assigned the chore for an unreasonable minimum wage.

this is what my house is like. it's like i'm living with a bunch of frat pledges who have been forbidden to flush their waste. and i'm the janitor.

and need i remind you, we are fortunate to have a toilet that could flush paris hilton's toy canine down with a half flush.

KIDS, HYGIENE (permalink) 02.08.2011
protecting those who can't handle the truth.
regarding yesterdays post about poop and pooping, just like in real life, when it comes to poop and pooping, there's more.

for any surprised that marty and i still participate in our children's ablutions, we have tried turning them loose, but it wasn't good. and marty and i are in agreement that we're willing to wipe asses longer than we perhaps should be expected to if it saves us from stain-treating brown skids out of clothes and from furniture and off ceilings. for dodging these household chores and keeping our family's feces in the bathroom, we're willing to shoulder this grim, preemptive practice.

if you find my excuse weak, i'd like to invite you to come spend some time with our animated youngest. perhaps you could join the litany of one-time, college-age babysitters who have deemed him more work than organic chemistry, and this when he isn't hiding feces on his person or in his clothes. add a smear of rank and contagious excrement to the anfer-equation and the tables would tilt, irrevocably, in his favor. the consequence of which could cross state and possibly national borders. so you should not be questioning our choice, you should be thanking us for making it, hard and unappealing as it is.

KIDS (permalink) 02.07.2011
service beyond even the finest hotel
the moving of bowels and the draining of bladders is big news in our house and gets screamed through the halls: "i have to go poop!" or, "i have to go pee and poop!" or "i'm going pee and i don't have to poop!". to these reports of nature marty and i respond with a mindless shout back, "ok, i'll listen for when you're done." when the child is done they will loudly call, "i'm done!" or "i'm done going poo!". here marty or i will stand and head to the bathroom where we will wipe bottoms clean and help to raise underwear and lift pants to their proper places.

yesterday when i walked into the bathroom to help anthony, i pretended to be a pretentious butler and spoke in a fancy, airy tone.

are the royal biscuits ready to be wiped.

i'm not called biscuits, i'm called ant-ton-eee

oh, my apologies fine sir.

and i'm not royal. i'm just rich.

and this from a kid that doesn't have a dime to his name. that's the kind of positive outlook i, and many others, chase every waking day.

although, if i had someone wipe my ass after every use, i might be fancying myself a tad on the affluent side as well.

WEB (permalink) 02.04.2011
makes me eager for when the focus of my learning year will be drawing (hint - 2012)

WEB (permalink) 02.03.2011
any site sporting a "you're a douche" button can't be half bad
a note from bookguy earlier this week:
i usually only have to type in dear and my browser will auto fill the rest of your site name in and in a few seconds i'm enjoying the writings on

i guess today i was fast on the enter and "dear" was expanded by firefox to

a good few minute diversion on my way to your site.

not to push you off to other parts of the interwebs, but he wasn't kidding about there being some good curios in their cabinet.

WEB (permalink) 02.02.2011
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
January 2011

KIDS (permalink) 02.01.2011
what did that little boy just say?
anthony replaces SH sounds with an F sound. it's no kinda problem, cute even, until he starts talking about the honey i shrunk the kids franchise. things get a little dicey in those waters. especially in front of strangers. but even with the confusion, he's still pretty dang cute.

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