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TRAVEL (permalink) 03.14.2017
we are soon to go on a trip and will be staying with friends. we have stayed with these friends, like a good number of times. they seem open to having us. eager to having us even. but every time we pull into their drive and five humans, who all seem much larger than the last time we were in their drive, spill out of the car the same thought runs through my mind--oh these nice, poor people. marty never thinks this way. neither does our hostess. but then when the first driveway-exchange anthony has with them is:

do you still have the popcorn machine?

uhhh. yes, we do.

is there already popcorn in it or do i have to make some?

uhhm. ya know, i think it has some in there, possibly from the last time you were here.

ok. i'll see if it's still eatable but if not i'll make some new stuff.

here michael will pat anthony on the head and smilingly say, "i see ole anthony hasn't changed". i smile in agreement and look around taking in the lovely scenery, certain this is the last time the dearmitt-walter clan will be invited to this zip code again.

but each year the invites and feelers go out. below is marty's email to the family this year.
Dear Keri,
Your BnB received great stars on Yelp!

Comment after comment mentioned your great red couch, a dog named Sadie, a backyard trampoline, and popcorn available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus 2 great hosts who charm you with their conversation and show tune songs.

Our family would love to stay at your place over Spring Break 2017!

We are hoping that there is room for 5: 2 "cool cat" adults, 2 teenagers with lengthy locks of hair, and one ten-year-old who thinks he is 13.

Although last year, we found Sydney, NE so alluring that we stayed for 48 hours to explore its treasures and local AAA-rated auto shop, thus delaying our arrival by a full day. We bought a new van shortly after that experience so we are hoping we can avoid a replay.

Let me know where to send the deposit.

Marty Walter & Troy DeArmitt

the mention of sydney refers to a car breakdown we experienced during last year's road trip. this debacle led to the purchase of a new car (chonicled here). but ten days before our super-trip, there was a slight incident with the new van. it was bella's 16th birthday. she and marty were arriving home from school and had anthony and some friends in the back who were coming over to play. while marty was backing into her spot in front of the house, bella, excited to run in and check on the state of her steak dinner, threw her door open which, while the car was still moving backward, caught the edge of a largish tree trunk in our font lawn. before the sick bending of metal reached marty's ears and marty's brain was able to signal her to brake, the damage was done.

neighbor jeff, as i was out with aleo, helped marty bungee the door closed with the help of the headrest. marty threw a bike on the carrier and headed to the body shop her go-to mechanics referred her to so they could start assessing things as soon as possible so we had a hope of getting the van back in time for our trip. when bella told me what happened, as marty was off to the body shop, she said she had good news and bad news. always taking bad news first she told me about the van. when i asked what the good news was she meekishly said, it will make my 16th birthday more memorable in the future. i can't deny that as it is sure to go down in the growing list of dearmitt-walter family lore.

WIFE, KIDS, TRAVEL (permalink) 07.14.2016
for the third year in a row, on her first week of summer, marty took my, well, our children to georgia to visit my dad ... and i didn't go. i stayed back because of work or lack of vacation or both. i don't get how remarkable this is until i say it out loud to someone. most guys scrunch their face and say, "wait a minute. let me get this straight. your wife takes your kids to see your dad and leaves you home alone for the week?!?". then i scrunch my face all up and pretty much say the same thing to myself in shared disbelief.

but that is marty. the girl is double special.

this year they were scheduled to get home on tuesday. on monday afternoon, around five i got a call from alex saying they were like three hours away and were just going to push through. an hour later i got another call, this time from bella, that said mom got crabby, the kids term for when marty gets tired, and they were going to stop for the night. i lamented at how sucky it was to have to stop just a few hours from home but certainly appreciated marty not jeopardizing my world by driving when she shouldn't.

i had just finished cleaning the house for their return and now that they weren't going to return tonight so i went upstairs and started doing some work in my office. a couple hours later i was sitting at my desk filing some papers when something caught my eye. i looked up. anthony was standing like two feet away from me. i sprang back in my chair and shrieked,

oh my god anthony! you scared the hell out of me! what, what, what are you doing here?

ANTHONY (exasperated)
dad, we're all sitting down on the couch waiting to watch a bob's burgers. are you coming down or not?

with that he turned and left the room. i fell back in my chair touching my chest to feel my racing heart. once i thought i was not going to go into cardiac arrest, i went downstairs and found my full family, just as anthony had described, all on the couch and looking at me expectantly. i said to them, "you're lucky i'm a pretty fit guy because if i wasn't you'd all be hoping right about now that the ambulance would get here in time."

marty tells me that the plan they hatched was just to have anthony call from the steps that they were waiting for me. i guess he was confused when they parked the van around the corner and super quietly unlocked the door and crept into the house. he mis-read that and thought that he should continue the sneaking until he was standing just ten inches off my shoulder in what i thought was a completly vacant house when he made his sharp proclamation. i'm serious when i tell you i could visibly see my heart pounding in my chest.

PHOTO, TRAVEL (permalink) 04.27.2016
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.

APRIL 2016

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.05.2015
summer vacation 2015
we are recently back from a week of tent-camping in northern michigan. i would say where exactly but since i'm pretty sure we will return, i'm not looking for any more competition for campsites, so the specific place we like shall go nameless. some highlights of the week though:
  • i slept outdoors in a hammock all week. our location was remote enough the sky was fully peppered with stars--so much so that you could make out the hazy stripe of the milky way. the scene was so rich that i kept my glasses in a little pocket connected to the hammock so when i stirred in the night, instead of going right back to sleep, i would fumble around for my glasses, put them on and take a few minutes to take in the sky through the gaps in the trees above me. i had to do this odd ritual because i went to bed before the sky was in full bloom.
  • i began every day, save one, with a 30-40 mile bike ride through rolling michigan hills.
  • i concluded several of the afternoons with a multi-mile paddle board adventure along the coastline.
  • i didn't shower for 8 days.
  • i swam with olympian-speed (for me) to save anthony (8) who got caught up in a riptide. *
  • via yelp, we once again discovered an eatery the whole family enjoyed so much, we are tempted to make a weekend trek back up there just to enjoy it again.
  • on the way home we intended to stop for a hotel but after running into (a) very few hotels, and (b) no hotels with vacancies, we ended up driving straight through. when the day began i expected to be asleep by midnight or one at the latest. when i finally laid my head down on my own pillow on my own bed, i glanced at my watch--it read 6:00am precisely.
* regarding the riptide event. we were on a strip of beach where a large lake and a small lake were separated by about forty feet of sand. a little kid, around four, and his father dug a small trench between the two so the boy could float his boat through the channel. four hours after they connected the two bodies of water the trench had grown to be forty feet wide and possessed a waist deep (for me) current that was hard to stand against as the water from the smaller lake was pulled into the larger body--creating an instant riptide of sorts. as the channel and the current grew larger (as it was continually eroding the fragile sandy banks) so did its reach or push out into the larger lake. of course this new feature proved to be huge fun for the kids playing on the beach as they rode the waves on boogie boards or just simply threw their bodies into the strong current to be rolled along. for the several hours this went on i stood sentry at the bank, twice having to step in and grab kids who were having problems in the waters. the six kids with us (my kids plus three from a family we were traveling with) were having so much fun i offered to hang back while the other adults headed back to camp to get dinner going. i figured this would give them another hour or two of play in this unique water feature.

once the time had passed and we needed to head back to camp ourselves, i called the kids over to help collect our gear. just as i thought we were ready to go one of the young boys who was playing in the water came up behind me saying "mister! mister!" when i turned he pointed out into the water, past where our riptide's sharp current ended. bobbing in the water i saw anthony (8), a single arm waving in the air. i dropped what i had and sprinted into the shallows and once it was knee deep dove and began swimming towards him. i didn't do my usual freestyle technique which would have allowed me to swim faster because intuition told me to watch where he was positioned should he go under the water. sadly this change in form did not make me swim faster. when i arrived to him i saw he was clutching onto a kick board (thank god) but panic set in when i turned to the shore to see how far out we were and realizing how fatigued i was in getting to him. just before the panic took full root a voice behind me said, "would you fellas like a lift".

i spun further to see a man kneeling on a long paddle board. i had spoken with the man and his wife hours earlier, initially about their paddle boards but also about the area and such. he had been resting on the beach with his wife when the boy had pointed to a wayward anthony. alert and astute he followed me out to anthony and thank god he had because when i looked at how far we were out i was not confident about getting not only me but me and anthony back to shore. so i need to thank that three dollar kick board that allowed anthony to stay above water until i got to him and dan, the wildly calm and cool (and ripped) middle school history teacher and track coach from kalamazoo who definitely saved the chili of both anthony and i on that day. thank you dan.

TRAVEL (permalink) 03.24.2015
spring break 2015, part 2
marty's favorite spring break moment didn't emanate from one of our family members, in fact, it didn't come from a human at all (part 1). instead, it came from my iphone. it was our first night on the road and we were nearing our first planned stop. as we approached the city, marty punched the address of our end destination into my iPhone and hit the ROUTE button. the computed voice took over and began guiding me to our hotel. in less than ten minutes we saw our spot on the other side of the highway. the iphone instructed me to exit the highway. at the top of the offramp, it told me to turn left. after crossing the highway it, curiously, told me to get back onto the highway. i recalled there was another exit ramp about a mile down the road and assumed, without much time to think about it, that perhaps the proper way to get to the hotel was using the previous exit and the mapping software was correcting its oversight. so i pulled back onto the highway and headed back in the direction we had just come. as we began to pass by the hotel the iphone advised me that our destination was on our right and that we had reached the closest navigable location and should park and walk the rest of the way. were we not sitting on a federal interstate and were there not a fence between us and our destination i reckon that is maybe what we might have done but since we could see all sorts of roads leading up to the hotel on the other side of the fence we chose to push forth and actually drive to the hotel's parking lot.

i'm sure it would not take much to convince you that the phrase "you have reached your closest navigable point" said in an automaton-miming voice was repeated often over the next nine days. it is a surprisingly nimble phrase that can be contorted to fit a shocking number of situations. in fact, i'd be rather surprised if those simple words haven't just become part of our family lore and will make appearances in our family vacations for decades to come. further, that experience has just become my latest and greatest bit of ammunation in my debate (with the world) on the evils of gps systems.

TRAVEL, KIDS (permalink) 03.23.2015
spring break 2015
yesterday we returned from our spring break holiday—a week in utah rife with friends and skiing. this is the third year we have made this pilgrimage which gives it some tradition-caliber stock. in perusing the rich week of leisure, laughter and recreation, the moment that most jumps out at me happened on the drive home somewhere in wyoming when alex yelled from the third row seat of our speeding minivan, "i have to go pee and REFUSE to go in a bottle!"

sadly, in my telling of this i am unable to convey the gallons of vinegar and vitriol his words included as they were hurled the full length of our honda odyssey. good to his word, alex held fast on his pee-boycott until we delivered him to a proper urinal. anthony on the other hand gladly peed in his bottle although he did confess it was hard to perform without any privacy (as the whole family was drawn to watching him see to this need). anthony also offered his neighboring passengers a taste of his lemonade at least half a dozen times. he seemed fully undaunted that no one ever took part in his generosity.

WIFE, TECHNOLOGY, TRAVEL, KIDS (permalink) 06.20.2014
marty post-cellphone: day five
in the middle of one of my hourly updates in the family's second day of travel, the following exchange took place between alex and i.

we're doing great here dad. we just got into the mountains and should be there in another three hours.

ok. great. tell mom to be extra careful on those small, twisty roads.

ok. is everything going good for you?

yep. tell mom her ant guy just got done.

mom. your aunt just died.

WHAT? NO! ALEX! that's not what i said!

what dad? i can't hear you.

mom's aunt didn't die. the ant-guy just finished his work.

oh. mom. your aunt didn't die someone else just did something.

the ant-killing guy was just ... oh never mind ... i'll tell her later.

sorry about that dad. your words got a little blurry there when you were talking.

WIFE, TECHNOLOGY, TRAVEL (permalink) 06.19.2014
marty post-cellphone: day four
on saturday marty left for a six day trip with the kids. some happenings at work prevented me from joining them (this obviously was the core reason for getting the phone as they couldn't take my work-issued one with them). as they piled into the packed car i gave each one an enormous feet-off-the-ground hug and told them to be amazing listeners and helpers to their mother. i told alex to be extra frosty as co-pilot because he and his mother hadn't logged the hours behind the wheel together that he and i had. at the end of my embrace with marty i gave her an extra squeeze and said:

be careful.

i will. i've done this before.

i know. it's just that you have my whole world barreling down the highway at 70 miles an hour in that van.

got it. enjoy your peace and quiet.

peace and quiet? with all the parties i have planned. ain't gonna be much peace and quiet around here.

well, i thank you for having your parade of women wait until we left before getting started.

of course. but i hope they don't wait too long. i feel a nap coming on.

they left. forty minutes later the phone rang. i answered it.


hey dad. this is alex.

hey aleo. you ok?

yeah, i just wanted to call you and let you know we got out of the city ok.

ok. i'm glad to hear that. thanks for the update.

it's ok. and i'm going to call you every hour and let you know how it's going.

hourly updates. ok. that would be awesome.

and while they weren't consistently on the hour they did come. part of me was thankful for these drips of insight that my family was ok and sound. another part of me was wondering when my parade of women were gonna start showing up.

TRAVEL (permalink) 02.10.2014
a man's gotta live

it's mancation week here at, thus the offices will be shuttered for the week.

talk at ya next week.



FRIENDS, TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 04.18.2013
mancation 2013 debrief
this year's ski boondoggle had a few remember-worthy facets and given how remember-challenged my mind seems to be getting (dang checklist!) i thought it prudent to capture the highlights here and now before they fall to the ether.

i've already mentioned the first striking part of the trip is that it restored a lapsed ritual. the situation brought to mind the words of some great writer about the power of ritual. he also supported stepping away from them, rituals, when life demanded but he did so with the solitary caution of making sure you return to the program as soon as humanly possible. done.

usually the weather-personality of a ski trip has some sort of common thread. you're looking at winter-skiing, spring-skiing, freezing north-east skiing, powder-skiing, or something of the like. this year proved one of the most schizophrenic condition-wise weeks i can recall.

the first day was pretty normal spring skiing for colorado which is to say the skies were blue, the sun was out, the morning was solid and you exited the mountain on a bed of grey slush.

the second day saw a storm move in the minute, literally, we arrived to the backside. the lifts were closed due to winds and we were advised to seek shelter until they could see what the storm was likely to do. by the time we worked our way back to the top of the gondola, winds were hitting 90mph and visibility was less than 10 feet for a period of time. within the hour they closed the mountain for the day, largely because of falling trees, and advised us that snow cats were en route to evacuate the staff and skiers still up-mountain. this would be my first mountain evacuation and ride in the back basket of a snow cat. the first time you head downhill and feel your weight press against the metal grating of the cage given the steep pitch is a most unique sensation.

the next day treated us to fresh snow, clear skies, and about twenty degree weather which kept the afternoon slush at bay.

our fourth day began with more fresh snow. then the day saw an additional seven inches dropped on the higher mountain. we were spared the winds but the visibility was quite low (around 10 feet) at times. by this point though we knew the trails well enough to not have to worry about skiing off a cliff or dropping into a mogul-rich, double black diamond. for a number of reasons, i think this last day provided the best skiing. surely the way you want to end a ski week.

another memorable part of this trip dealt with the absence of virtually all people on the mountain given we arrived so late in the season, the mountain proved to be nearly all ours. in fact, when we drove in town sunday night it seemed like we were pulling into a deserted movie set or as if an apocalypse had occurred while we wended through the mountains or that plague-infested zombies cleaned the place of all living flesh and bone. obviously, the upside here is the zero-wait lift lines and the pristine and un-crowded runs.

that last bit leads into the added benefit of the empty runs since i was nursing a severe case of damaged confidence at the start of the week given my separated shoulder i suffered two week earlier at deer valley in park city, utah.

and a surprising first for matt and i, largely due to a banned-mountain, were movies. in all the times we've travelled and spent sitting in mountain lodges i don't think we'd ever taken in a film. this time, we took in several: zero-dark thirty, red dawn (new one), flight, and an espn 30 on 30 documentary about allen iverson. we also tried to watch the tom cruise movie the last samurai but only made it about seven minutes in.

TRAVEL (permalink) 04.15.2013
i'm back from my second ski trip in four weeks. for those thinking taking a week off, working two, and then taking another week off (both off-weeks for skiing) is excessive, i agree. the mitigating circumstance is that for the projects i've been working on i missed my usual christmas break and then had to work straight through january and february, the time my annual mancations are meant to happen. this is to say that i'm not taking any more than usual, it just all got piled up after my projects were cooked (bookguy navigated similar waters through this time-frame as well so it wasn't just me in the barrel).

but now i'm back, well recreated and rested and ready to fall back into my routines. my travel mate spoke about that last bit before we parted ways. he commented that in the near twenty years he's known me i've never been more regimented. my defense--none. he's right. i added that it was even worse than what he knew as i've only shared some of my cards. to shed light on the extreme i told him how in packing for my first vacation i almost forgot my wallet. the reason for this oversight stemmed form a series of checklists i use for various activities. i have a checklist for various things such as a long road trip, a family day out, a ski trip, lap swimming, recreational swimming, close the house down for a long absence, my packing, my bathroom kit, you know, expected things like that. the reason i almost forgot my wallet was that i didn't have my wallet on any of the relevant checklists. this is the downside of relying on such aids--you become overly dependent on them, but, and this is a massive j-lo like but, once they are in place, they make you bionic and bullet-proof. and mildly addicted to the art. thus, for as completely needed and invigorating and memorable both of my recent trips have been, i'm ravenous to return to my schedule and order because if there is a secret to the success i've seen in the twenty years my friend has been watching my evolution, it is fully in the reasoned order that rules my minutes and actions. it is the secret sauce. and it tastes spectacular to this palate.

SPORTS, TRAVEL, FRIEND (permalink) 04.11.2013
last week i visited my orthopedist about my shoulder. this would be the same man who laid his healing hands on my knee a few years back and took me from a guy known for a trick knee for the last twenty years to a guy known to run-down every ball on the tennis court. after some x-rays and range of motion checks it was declared that i had a separated shoulder. thankfully, it is a non-surgical condition and he gave me prescriptions for anti-inflamatories, pain-killers and rehabilitation.

three days later i flew out for my annual ski mancation with bookguy. although it hasn't been so annual the last few years because of an aggravated knee one year (me) and a torn muscle another year (him). this proved quite sad to both of us as we had a nice ten year run on our ski trips (and there hasn't been one of them where we haven't been overtly mistaken for a gay couple multiple times. this is good medicine for bookguy). even before the shoulder diagnosis (and while i could still barely raise my arm) i declared the trip to be on and that if i couldn't ski, i'd just hang out in the condo and we'd hang out at night and while traveling which for sure accounts for a large part of the enjoyment every year. additionally, a moment that further solidified my decision to go is when i was letting bookguy know about my shoulder injury, he deflatedly expressed his dissapointment saying our ski trip is one of the few traditions he has in his life and feared it was slipping away. i'm someone who feels traditions have been taking a serious beating in our country and our lives in recent decades and should be protected similar to an endangered species, so if there was any doubt for me earlier, there was no doubt now.

thankfully the meds made my pain and discomfort disappear like a fart in a theater seat. granted i knew this was a facade but i also knew from prior rehabs that part of the battle is continuing the use of your injured limb and working it out (granted, there is the other side of me that believes a body sending signals of pain to your brain is telling you to take things easy for awhile). but, after much deliberation on my part, upon arriving on the mountain and continuing to have my arm "feel" ok, i decided to get some skis and try things out. curiously, physically i felt fine but mentally, my crash was still fresh in my head and proved paralyzing, so much so that bookguy and i joked it looked like i didn't come here to engage in the sport of skiing but instead simply in the act of stopping. in thinking about it, in thirty years of skiing i've never been injured in a fall (keeping in mind, twenty of those years i had no acl in my right knee.). now that i have been cut, i couldn't shake the fear of it happening again.

finally, after a few days patiently working myself back into the game, i started looking more like i once had. and in a shared effort, a tradition and a life-long sports love are salvaged to be enjoyed another day.

SPORTS, TRAVEL (permalink) 03.26.2013
a day of firsts
friday offered many firsts for me.

on friday i skied down a mountain slope with my entire family for the first time.

on friday i skied down an intermediate blue run with my boys for the first time.

on friday i visited the first aid center of a mountain resort for the first time.

on friday i was told i didn't dislocate my shoulder or break my collar-bone (and only experienced a blunt-force trauma to my shoulder) for the first time.

it turns out tuesday has a first or two in store for me as well. like, having to lift my hurt arm onto my desk with my good arm to type the sentence you are now reading.

and i reckon tuesday will also involve a concerned call with my mancation partner who i'm slated to ski with in two weeks.

TRAVEL, QUOTES (permalink) 03.20.2013
our travel pundit.
while walking out of a gas station, anthony grabbed the handle on the door and pulled. the door didn't move. marty said the sign says PUSH anthony. he did and we exited the store. as we walked to the car anthony, our six year old, asked, "why would anyone put a handle on a door you have to push?"

marty and i exchanged silent expressions and she said, "i don't know anfer. i don't know."

now before we celebrate a mind as keen as anfer's just yet, allow me to share this second conversation.

look, there's church butte road.

church butte road. ohhhh!

yeah, does that mean there's like a church with a giant butt?

it's not that kind of butt anthony.

oh! then it's the kind of church that butts in line in front of other churches.

TRAVEL (permalink) 03.19.2013
bella, a better kinda rock star
we're out west right now for spring break. in planning the trip, given the distance we were looking at, i assumed we would fly but two things got in the way. the first arose when i booked our flights and was asked to select seats. as i scanned the small craft (as that seems just about all that leaves our once mighty airport anymore) for open spots a thought surfaced: now that everyone is using these smaller planes, what happens when a family of five gets bumped from a flight. i thought back to times my flights got cancelled and how desperate and flimsy the search for new arrangements typically seemed. and that was for one human. one human that doesn't completely crumble emotionally when deprived of their proper bedtime. the thought of finding a new route home for five people left me staring at the screen in a paralysis of sorts.

the second hurdle of merit was the pricetag. once i'd selected the round trip option and the litany of fees (seriously!) were added, we were looking at about a three grand burn before even leaving the zip code. i knew this would tax marty's ability to enjoy our ambitious adventure and rightly so since we just recently re-entered the ranks of dual-income homes and have a bit of digout to go yet from our single-income decade.

the morning after i uncovered this travel dilemma, bella and i were waiting for the bus. sensing my distraction bella asked what was wrong. after apologizing for my stupor i explained the above two things to bella. with barely a pause for thought she began:

why don't we just drive?

uhh. because it would be like twenty hours in the car.


so, i didn't think anyone would want to spend that much time in the car.

dad, it's vacation. we go on vacation to be together right. and when we're in the car we're together. and, we don't have any distractions like work or school. isn't that what vacation is about.

so we drove. and i gotta say, it was beyond awesome.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.08.2012
grace and panache, dearmitt-style
our first day in the mountains began perfectly enough. we arrived to the cabin early enough the night before to get unpacked, settled, fed, and to bed at a reasonable hour. the next morning we woke to clear skies. we dressed, ate and headed up the poudre canyon. our first hike this year was to be the one that eluded us last year--the neota trail--as we couldn't find the trailhead. with renewed guidance from our hosts, liz and john, we easily found the start point this time. about a half mile into the trek, alex (9) pointed at the peaks ahead and said it looked like rain and perhaps we should head back. marty and i scanned the sky and said it should hold out for this shortish hike and urged the kids to continue. alex re-expressed his concern. this was not the first time alex has given us weather counsel we should have listened to.

ten minutes later the clouds darkened and a few minutes after that opened up with a light rain. we assured the kids it was just a drizzle and things would be fine. five minutes later the thunder cracked, loudly. and five minutes after that the peppercorn sized hail began to fall. with this latest turn, marty ushered the family into the trees where we took cover from the hail under a dense clump of pines.

i took this time to brighten my dour crew by complaining about the how much these added frills were going to cost me when we got home. the children inquired what i meant. i explained that all of these antics, rain, lightning, thunder, and now hail were going to surely be on the bill i received when we got home and how it was sorta like a hotel experience and every order of room service or movie viewing would be a line item on the final invoice when the stay was over. and every time another crack of thunder rang out, i'd grouse, "oh great, there's another fifty cents". and when the hail started i complained vigorously, "hail! hail! oh wonderful, that's surely going to be like three, maybe even five dollars extra!" my theatrics mostly confused my kids as they tried to figure out the mechanics of such accounting. but my wife stood under a her tree, soaked sans rain gear, possibly wanting to cry but instead laughing uncontrollably through my exhibition while the kids looked at one another fully confused and asked questions like "who sends you the bill?" and "do we have to pay for rain at home?".

this short trail along a high elevation meadow is known for wildlife, especially moose. to this point in our walk we'd barely seen a bird or chipmunk. i'm confident this outcome was largely due to the kids boisterous way of life. now twenty feet off the trail hiding out from the weather, the meadow had nary a human peep. when the hail stopped and the family filed back towards the trail shushes were suddenly passed back and a call for a camera. i looked up to see a mother moose and her young moose kid/calf/mooselet walking not twenty feet from marty and bella who were at the head of our line. both of our proper cameras were buried in the pack strapped to me. worried about the time and noise it would take to get to the gear, i instead reached into my zippered thigh pocket for my iphone, pulled it out and sent it up the line.

i think, i imagine, i reckon this is where the cabin key fell out of my pocket and onto the ground. i think this because after we finished our hike and drove down the mountain and i walked to the front door and reached into the zippered pocket where i put the two most valuable things--my iphone and the cabin key--for safekeeping and found no key, my mind flashed back to me looking down at the pocket lining sticking out of the zippered mouth of the pocket after i quickly pulled the wet phone out of the wet pocket in attempt to get a picture of a momma and baby moose. i'm pretty sure that is where i lost it. i explained this much to marty and asked if we should go back to the trail to test my theory (as i pulled the phone out for other pictures after that as well) or do we drive the hour down the canyon back to town to get a backup key from the owners. without pause, marty voted for the sure thing and i slid back behind the wheel and we headed down-canyon to fort collins.

when we arrived at the house the kids were in different states of dress given the wet clothes had to be removed from their shivery bodies once we got back to the car. hours later the kids were no longer frost bit but their clothes were still a soppy mess piled in the back of the van. now more hours later yet, anthony was fully naked, although this is nothing especially unique. alex was wearing nothing but a blue-grey pair of camouflage boxer-briefs. and bella also was in just underwear but was additionally wrapped in a picnic blanket marty had on hand.

both Liz and John were obviously at work it being the middle of a monday and Will, their son, was out and about as a high-school age man on summer break should be. over the phone, liz talked us through where to look for backup keys. it turned out they had all been loaned out and not yet returned making the key on john's keyring the last available copy. liz called him. he was visiting with a client. not wanting to disturb them any further we offered to drive to him. the house was just down the street from liz's girlhood home and easily found.

i was nervous about this intrusion into his day but the smile john flashed upon walking out of the home he was working in was warm and welcoming. we quickly recounted what happened and apologized about the bother. he said no worries and handed over the key. he asked that we make a couple copies and leave the extras in the realtor-like lockbox at the cabin. it was here that i got to top any blows the day had delivered by confessing that neither marty and i had a wallet, having thought we were just going on a brief mountain hike, and asked if i could borrow some money to make the keys. this bought another flash of john's youthful smile while he reached for his wallet. he leafed through the bills looking up to ask with a smirk if we needed any extra money to feed the children or possibly go to the movies. earlier in our visit i was offering to let john adopt me given his vibrant and covetous lifestyle. as he handed me a few bills to get me though the day i felt a step closer to this relationship. although john may have been less sold on bringing another dependent on given this performance.

as this trial unfolded and lengthened the family did surprisingly well. given the fatigue, the hunger, the cold and even in the different states of undress the kids and marty proved champs. and when the conversation did turn to "when will we be home" or "how long is this going to take" i would remind them of great thing that was occurring right now. when they asked what that might be, i replied, this is a story that will be told around our dinner table for decades, possibly generations to come, and there is nothing more that can be asked for from a day than that (assuming no real peril or evilness of course) so instead of wishing it to end we should be basking in the awesomeness of this memorable individual life moment. a set or two of eyes may have rolled at this paternal wisdom. i can't say as i didn't look. i couldn't bring myself to glance in the mirror and chose to believe they were all nodding in understanding and appreciation. this is a little trick i have in dealing with with the world around me. it may have its flaws but has been working for me wonderfully to date. and yes, if you are wondering, i am glad i can't see your expression right now.

SPORTS, TRAVEL (permalink) 08.06.2012
the most triumphant moment of my break
i started biking in my mid twenties. technically my biking journey began after marty commented that i looked a little doughy in the middle. surely when we met, thanks to a job unloading tractor trailers, i had a predominately dough-free middle. after some research and recruiting a friend to help, i bought a bike. my first ride, to marty's family home, was five miles long and concluded with a short but steep hill. to climb it i had to turn in a big circle every fifty feet or so to give my muscles enough of a break to continue the ascent. after that abysmal first showing i declared that i would ride this bike every day for one year, and i did. in this time, there were beautiful days but there were also rainy ones, and snowy ones, and ones that were so cold that i had to, mid-ride, stuff newspapers down my pants to keep the wind off my junk. the dough, largely, went away.

over the years, my rides got longer. by the end of the first year i could go out for twenty miles without great fear of not making it back. then in my late twenties while visiting my home town, i decided to try a ride some friends of mine once did. so i grabbed my $300 bike and my one bike bottle and set out to ride from fort collins to estes park. this was a thirty-five mile trek, one way, twenty five of them being straight uphill. after half a day of peddling and strain, i crested the final hill, rolled into estes and ate lunch on the front lawn of the stanley manor.

i've tried that ride three times since then, twice in my thirties and once in my forties. none of those attempts proved successful. the first time i got beat mentally and turned back on my own (i later learned i only had to round one more bend and i would have been there), the second failed attempt i didn't respect letting your body acclimate to the altitude and attempted the ride less than twelve hours after arriving in the state and couldn't breath (that time i didn't even make it five miles up the canyon), and the last time i just gassed out halfway up (due to an aging body and poor nutrition plan).

obviously these failed attempts have been plaguing me and besting that ride has been on my shortlist since the last time i didn't make it. last thursday, our last day of a two week colorado vacation (ensuring proper acclimation time), i attempted the ride, and with what was not a trivial bit of exertion i completed the ride for the first time in more than fifteen years. truth is i'd say i'm presently in the best shape of my life. in thinking through why i struggled so much in the last five miles, i attribute it to our vacation lifestyle. in each of the in the seven days before the ride, we had some physical family adventure. these mostly included hiking, canoeing, water-worlding, and even stand-up wake-boarding. the day before the ride we went on a four mile mountain hike that took us above the treeline (more on this soon). the hike in was the equivalent of climbing two miles worth of stairs, well, that is, if the stairs were uneven, of varying heights and never level. when i recount the happenings of the prior week, i think it's amazing i even came close to completing the ride as in some regards the deck has never been more stacked against me making it. certainly a testament to what swimming has done for me.

another, fortunate part of the experience was a few months back i mentioned this plan to bookguy who happened to be spending the summer months in new mexico. he had the notion of driving up and doing the ride with me. while there were many neat things that came from his participation, selfishly, the coolest were the pictures he snapped of me coming around the last bend and casting a fifteen year monkey off my back. i didn't know he was clicking off these pictures and he was obviously holding up far better than myself as taking pictures was the last thing on my mind while he was busy riding the same hill as me but shooting pics at the same time.

grinding out the last hundred feet
on the way back down bookguy made a most poignant comment. he said you don't realize how impressive climbing this hill is until you blast down it the other way. the reason for this is there is something difficult about gauging terrain in the mountains. there are times you look ahead and are sure you're looking at a downhill slope and wonder why you're struggling so on it. i imagine you could liken it to a mirage seen by a parched castaway. it's not until you fly down the other direction that you realize there were no downslopes at all and you just climbed a twenty five mile hill.

cresting the last bit of hill
i wasn't able to stand very long as my right quad cramped the second i'd lift out of the seat. this inability to vary how i approached the hills in the last few miles surely didn't do me any favors. in the end, i don't think i'd ever been so glad to see the end of a climb.

entering estes park proper
bookguy was miffed at the bad luck of having some guy taking out his trash just as i was passing the sign. marty felt the pedestrian chore gave the picture some good and real flavor. liking authentic imagery, i think i side with marty on its presence.

bookguy and i on the lawn of the stanley
just below this phenomenally picturesque veranda sits a pool. on this day it was unused and looked so cool and refreshing. the notion of hopping the fence and diving into the pool was the closest i've come to conducting an arrest-worthy offense, like, ever.

TRAVEL, PHOTO, NATURE (permalink) 07.14.2011
it wouldn't take this long on sesame street. sheesh.
after returning from our hike i went to string up a clothes line to hang our wet and sweaty clothes. in searching out a suitable tree trunk for my first tie i happened upon a cicada emerging from its shell. the kids have found a crazy number of the spent brown carcasses and even plenty of the meaty, green cicadas, but we've never seen one in transition. excited at the find i called the kids over to watch, which they exuberantly did, but when it took more than three minutes for the hatching to occur they slowly fell away one after another until it was just again me watching.

knowing my only alternative time-killer was hanging a bunch of foul and soiled clothes, most of which were not even mine, i milked the slow-moving entertainment. when i first saw the guy, he was struggling to pull his tail end out of the shell. i was most excited to see him free his wings and pump them with blood (that being part of the process as far i know). when i first noticed him, there was a solitary ant racing up and down the length of his body, dashing about as if looking for lost keys or something. i found the ant annoying and was sure the cicada did as well in this moment of birth and triumph. five minutes later there were ten to fifteen ants frenetically traversing the poor fellow's frame. within ten minutes the images below show the scene. i honestly couldn't tell if the cicada's movements were in attempt to free himself from the shell or shake the ants from his body. they looked so small and innocuous next to his large and seemingly armored skin to do him harm beyond perturbing him. but they definitely caught him with his pants down and in time the poor hatchling proved to not have enough energy in his nubile frame to contend with the ant swarm and his flailing slowed and then stopped altogether. nature is beastly.

i term this series, ALMOST.

click to enlarge ... a lot (2048 x 1536)

click to enlarge ... a lot (2048 x 1536)

click to enlarge ... a lot (2048 x 1536)

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 07.13.2011
rural hammertime
i was trying, ineffectually, to photograph the sunny shimmer of spiderweb we came upon during a trail-hike. apparently the waiting kids lost their patience for my craft and began entertaining themselves. i proved so focused on the elusive web that i didn't even notice the hijinks in the background. fortunately my camera proved more aware than its owner to know where the better picture was to be had.

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TRAVEL (permalink) 07.12.2011
the great and witty outdoors
we went camping again this last weekend. i'll just go ahead and confess that i did blow another pair of boxers out. the equation was too similar (old man, old boxers, missouri heat, and lots of sweat) to perfectly identify the culprit so i'm sticking with thread-bare, decade old boxers not having the same elasticity they once did.

the best line of the weekend was while the kids were asking me to make a fire in the hot morning so they could have smores for breakfast, one of the two dogs at our site attempted to mount the other. as we all glanced at this scene and the dog's owner called their dog off, one of the other dads observing this casually quipped, "looks like desi's looking for smore of that in the morning too." i can't tell you how much i wish i thought of the smores line. sadly, my fumbling that moment is what i'll most remember from the trip.

the best result of the trip was that it didn't hurt to clean my glasses at the end. this would also prove to be good evidence against the "old-man" debate which i'm sure will re-surface sooner or later.

and the very best part of spending time out of doors continues to be the post-camping tick check. i've never had a single one but don't want to let that make us ignore good and proper practices.

PHOTO, TRAVEL (permalink) 07.07.2011
from the smiles you'd think we were somewhere more exotic than a missoura campground
at the camp outing we recently took, i only broke my camera out once. it was after lunch while taking a break from the water. the below collection of shots were captured in a time span of less than five minutes amidst a flurry of laughter and goofiness. the kids who are not our kids are friends of ours who are our camping mentors and make it look both easy and fun, which i'm ever thankful for.

TRAVEL (permalink) 04.08.2011
so they packed up the truck and they moved to beverly ...
i grew up in fort collins colorado. by the time i was thirty i had been as far east as italy, including peppering the united states east coast from vermont to the florida keys. in regard to going west, the furthest i had been was steamboat springs which was a few hours drive from my boyhood home.

in my thirties i took in more western locations such as portland, seattle, vancouver and many smaller spots between, but to date, and by design, i had never crossed the california state line. today this changed in that as you read this i am sitting in the san francisco bay area, on stanford's college campus specifically. before even arriving i could say that this first experience is going to give me an unfair impression of california and what i've been missing which is not an inconsequential factor. fortunately i've got a good jump on being a crotchety, opinionated old goat who's slow to move and thus won't be easily swayed by california's come hither gaze.

also, a slight drizzle has been known to perturb me so i have realistic expectations of what uncontrollable, quaking ground would do to my mood.

TRAVEL, PHOTO, FAMILY (permalink) 03.25.2011
two minutes from my vantage point.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 03.24.2011
the pipe-fitters of america have a pony-tailed apprentice in training
there was this water table that had water bubbling up at four points. the object was to use these pipes and connectors to divert the water from their sources to other parts of the table. bella got the thought to lead two water sources to each other to see what would happen. she quickly discovered how hard it is to get two tubes, both of which were dispelling water to connect. people around her proved to be quite annoyed or tickled by her efforts. i couldn't help but be fascinated by her persistence to stymy the contraption as the first drop to hit my skin or clothes would have ended my curiosity. so i did what any grown man would have done - stood at a safe distance and took pictures of the animated struggle.

with alex's help she/they finally did persevere.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 03.23.2011
bella bella
two pictures, both un-staged, that do much to show the breadth of bella.

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TRAVEL (permalink) 03.22.2011
lego my computer-time dude
on the weekend of marty's 40th birthday, numerous things happened. some things were pedestrian like sick kids. and some things were not, like the dead goose that mysteriously appeared, precariously hanging in a large tree in front of our house the morning of her birthday. in attempt to salvage some part of the weekend, i had declared marty off limits to the kids (and myself) on saturday and sunday so she could rest or leave or do whatever she wanted. during this time marty's sister from chicago called. we were chatting and i relayed marty's rough week and suck birthday to her. i also shared that my ski trip got cancelled because my mancation partner still fancied himself a twenty five year old at times.

the sister said our family should come to her house for spring break. i explained my family's acceptance rate regarding extended invitations (it is aberrantly high), even when the gestures are offered out of simply courtesy. pride, shame and sense aren't things we contend with as much as we maybe should. even with this understanding, not only did the sister persist, she even upped the kitty by offering to watch the kids friday and saturday so marty and i could go downtown for a couple days. as this would be only the third time in ten years both marty and i have spent a night away from our children (and never two nights!!!), this proved the deal maker. seven days later we packed up the car and headed north to chicago.

on thursday and friday we went downtown with the kids and took in a couple of the museums and a few of the sites. then on friday evening and saturday instead of spas and shopping on michigan ave, marty and i pulled out of the sister's driveway, drove a couple miles down the road, checked into a fairfield inn and slept, ate decadently and watched in-room movies while sharing bags of microwave popcorn in bed (the tourist and inception).

the first morning there i heard a calamity next door while i read and marty slept. it was a family ... with children. i groaned at the poor luck as i heard them bickering and chirping at one another. i was still conflicted on how bad this was when i heard the mother bark at someone, "put on your underwear - NOW!" and found myself happy it wasn't me doing that yelling or my child being yelled at. so even with the shrill, tense family next to us (to remind us of our boon), our weekend couldn't have been more lovely, relaxing or peaceful.

and, i will often talk about the good side of raising kids without a television but rarely do i talk of the downsides, one being whenever you go anywhere that has tv's or computers your kids will forego all else, even a store full of legos, to suck on the teat that is digital media. like the amish to a pepsi.

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TRAVEL (permalink) 03.21.2011
because we like you, we'll give you a chance to back out ... but one chance only.
if you extend the dearmitt-walter clan a polite invitation to your home, this is what very well may result.

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FAMILY, TRAVEL (permalink) 08.09.2010
red-letter weekend.
this past weekend marty's family gathered at the lake house of one of the in-laws. anthony believed, until we arrived, that the lake of a lake house existed inside the house instead of next to it. he was only partially convinced otherwise upon arrival. this weekend replaced the annual camping trip marty's family used to take before her father passed and the family camper was sold. while there were still blow-up mattresses involved there were now also king-sized beds, private bathrooms, docks with tall water slides, jet-skis, and boats good for fishing, water-skiing and/or giant-raft pulling.

the three-day weekend began with a morning of tubing. on anthony's second round out (with bella and i) a bout of wake turbulence bounced him into the air and out of the raft. seeing him fly out of sight i rolled backwards into the water (navy seal style!) and after twisting and rolling in the waves i came up to spot him bobbing in the water about twenty feet away. i quickly swam to him and and when i arrived he crossed his arms and dejectedly told me, "i no like tubing anymore!" to which i said i understood and we'd take a break, which we did, which was fortunately easy given all of the other equally fun distractions.

the weekend ended with alex becoming an accomplished jet-skier. when he began on day one he didn't want to go more than 10mph, even as a passenger. by the end of the weekend he was charging over waves at more than 40mph. for his last ride, alex insisted on taking his uncle mike out to show him how good he was doing. afterwards, mike commented to me how coordinated alex was at handling the ski (e.g. body lean on banking turns and rooster tails). he added i should hope this zeal never translated to a motorcycle. as for bella, she broke the 30mph mark within five minutes and the 40mph mark about seven seconds after that.

below are a few pictures from the weekend. the anfer picture shows him lazing in the water after going off the dock's water slide. the next two are of alex and bella piloting the jet-skis (and represents what i saw for a very large part of the weekend). the picture of bella ain't so hot but properly framing a shot ain't so easy when, between the chop and erratic accelerations, you're fighting to not get thrown from the seat. and with aleo, it's curious as a passenger to look down and see arms as wispy as his confidently governing something he just began learning days earlier.

thanks aunt chrissy and uncle mike for the invitation, all the effort and the bounty of experiences. my family's sunday dinner table conversation after arriving home was rich and alive with excited retellings and rehashings of the weekend. big and memorable fun.

FAMILY, TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 07.23.2010
summer 2010 vacation - photo vomit


FAMILY, TRAVEL (permalink) 07.22.2010
summer 2010 vacation - most enlightening
yesterday i talked about the what i found most surprising about my trip, today i wanted to share what i found most enlightening. the moment came in the last hour of the 208 hour vacation experience. we were almost home. the kids were playing in the back as they had the whole way there and the whole way back. marty, in the seat to me, had her head back on the seat rest, her eyes closed, feet on the dashboard and a pillow wrapped up in her arms as if it were a stack of books and she were walking to class. after glancing at her for a moment i broke the silence by saying that when i was younger i was always hyper excited for vacations and uber depressed to return from them. but now, while i still love and anticipate vacations, i no longer experience the extreme elation and even more extreme letdown i used to. i view this in a very positive way as a mark of my daily life and routines and i'm immensely appreciative to have reached a place as satisfying as this.

without opening her eyes, marty responded that the thing she disliked most about returning from vacation these days was the solitude of her life. confused, i commented that it seemed she got out a lot, through arranged, weekly events with other stay at home moms and friends and such. she elaborated saying she didn't mean solitude as in simply being alone but rather solitude as in not getting enough adult interaction and that spending the lion-share of your time with someone whose conversational repertoire predominately consists of the question 'why?' takes a dramatic toll on an educated and previously mentally challenged individual. she went on to say how she totally understood how not all moms (or dads) could manage staying at home with kids because the reality and rigors of just you and a child or two at home are serious. the occasional bouts of disbelief at the state of your life, rational or not, could be defeating. i thought of a new neighbor, fresh from philadelphia and at home all day with a thirteen month old while her husband is at work and her with no local network yet. then i thought of our friend e-love who teaches school full-time and then changes gears, dramatically, to care for their children full-time in the summer months. even though e-love has the advantage of nine months of diversity, i imagine his scenario has to be an even harder lifestyle than a straight full-time parent who has at least the consistency-crutch to lean upon. after marty expressed her sentiment she slid into her quiet reverie again. i let her be and drove on wordlessly.

for some time now, i've been doing an exercise on monday mornings. it is from the happier book i read last year. in the exercise you are to imagine you are at the end of your life and mere moments from death. you have the sudden ability to travel, via a time machine, to your present day self. you are asked to contemplate and answer the question, 'what is the one piece of advice your expiring self would give your present-day self?'. last monday, my first day back from vacation and the day after i had the above conversation with marty, my answer to that question was, "be more empathetic about how challenging my wife's job of raising our children is — and how extraordinary she is at this job."

FAMILY, PHOTO, TRAVEL (permalink) 07.21.2010
summer 2010 vacation - most surprising
after a long family road trip and a week in a space that is not our home, the thing i found most surprising from this year's trip is how well our kids travel. they fare far better than i did as at their age(s) and i can't help but think they're better passengers than the seven kids packed into marty's family's wood-paneled station wagon, cage-match style. marty and i tried to dissect what it was that made our ilk so amenable to repeated twelve hour stretches in the car. i suggested that it was because they didn't routinely watch tv so their stimulus requirements haven't been unfairly "adjusted" thus making the notion of sitting in car for hours and hours untenable (we don't have a tv in our home so we obviously don't have one in our car, portable or otherwise).

but then there is also all the preliminary work marty does up front with their bins. here she goes out and buys a lot of dime store trinkets and activity books and travel games before the trip. she then sets each kid up with a bin or backpack of stuff they can do and throughout the trip sneaks new things into their stashes. although the older kids are now wise to her game and ask before we even leave if they can have a new thing now and if not when. also, with each new thing they get, alex is quick to ask if there are more new things or if the new thing supply has been depleted. hearing there might be another bauble or two in the wings creates a christmas eve like jittery anticipation.

this year i did something new and bought one thing to be worked into each kid's rotation. the one that got the most play was a license plate tracker game. it was a sturdy wooden plaque with the map of the us. on top of each state was a small block of wood that could be flipped. to start, you flip all the states to a text description of the state and its capital (after the kids learn the states, there is also a blank side option so you have to pick/find the state as well). when you see a car with a plate from that state, you call it out and whoever has the board will find the state, quiz the car on the capital and then flip it over, revealing a graphical representation of the state's license plate. the state capitals is something i never knew and would like to so i thought this would be a good way for me (and inadvertently my children) to learn them. it proved to be a great distraction and added a sporting element to our car time.

the other game i got for the trip and liked was a hangman game by the same company who made the license plate game, melissa and doug. although we only played a few actual games of hangman on it, it was mostly used by anthony to practice writing letters in the dry-erase part. what he would do is flip all the letters and body parts face down and then randomly turn the letters over one at a time. after flipping a letter he would draw it with the pen, and then erase it with his finger and go onto the next. i never quite figured out what criteria he used for flipping the body parts but there was some sort of logic at play in his head. in testament of how effective this was, before the trip anthony couldn't write a single letter, aside from the occasional, incidental capital i, and now the dude has written the entire alphabet many times, and with startling improvement.

another thing marty added this year, which i think started last year, was the kids get to pick one thing out at every gas stop. while the initial downside is it adds a small expense to the bottom line, the great upside is that they no longer clamor for mcdonalds which we only would ever eat at on vacation but have learned that they just want the toys and never eat more than six bites of the food and wind up starving again within the hour. and i've come to a point in my life where i can no longer stomach mcdonalds at all. and back in my work-traveling days, because of routine twenty minute lunches, there would be times i'd eat mcdonalds every day of the week, multiple weeks in a row ... and even liked it fine. but the best thing about the gas station allowance is watching the sorts of things the kids pick, the regrets they have about lesser picks, and how their choices fluctuate, sometimes wildly, seeing everything from bubble gum tape to a bottle of gatorade. the child's mind is a fascinating thing to watch, especially when it is confronted with selecting a single item in a labyrinth of florescent-lit of shiny, shrink-wrapped treats and eats.

FAMILY, PHOTO, TRAVEL (permalink) 07.20.2010
summer vacation 2010 - personas
on last year's vacation, you may recall, we issued vacation moniker's to the kids based on a prominent behavior we observed given all the time we spent in and around each other. this year we did the same. this is the result:
  • isabella 'bella daddy say whhaatttt??' walter dearmitt because of the mannerism she picked up from her hannah montana/miley cyrus marathon on one of the five televisions at our house rental. this is apparently something miley/hannah says at least once in every show using a funny, sing-songy affect which bella seemed to have perfectly captured.

  • alexander 'nuts and weiners' walter dearmitt because of how silly he got running around with a friend close to his age that stayed with us in the house. these games rapidly devolved into the boys (via alex's tutelage) constantly referring to, singing songs about, or threatening to karate chop everyone's nuts and weiners in the house. i couldn't be prouder that my boy was the one to teach their boy this lovely and becoming mannerism.

  • anthony 'pee-face' walter dearmitt because this is how he tries to keep up with his nuts and weiners older brother by calling everyone a pee-face. in mulling this over i've come to consider this an impressively effective and entirely under-used phraseology and one i will be introducing to my corner of society in the near future. which i guess ultimately means that in this cycle alex influences anthony and anthony influences me and this would be just about where i've always fallen on the trend-setting train my entire life.

and i reckon if we can brand the kids with personality-illuminating nicknames, there is no reason the courtesy shouldn't be extended to the parental units that allow the obnoxious behavior noted above to happen.
  • marty 'twin bed' jean walter because even though our room had a spacious and inviting king sized bed with an expansive ocean view, marty slept on a twin mattress on the floor (with an obstructed view of the window) because she couldn't deal with sleeping with more than one person in the bed (anthony and i) regardless of its size. by the end of the week, marty was blissfully alone on her twin mattress on the floor while i slept with not one, not two, but all three of our children in what proved to be a veritable tangle of humanity and limbs.

  • and i think i would have been branded troy "georges" lane dearmitt in honor of the book i was obsessively reading every free moment i could steal. the severity of my condition was fully exposed when i was caught reading in the corner of the toilet nook in our master suite's bathroom. i could see how an outsider might call it a bit off but this stool sitting beneath a skylight even if smack between the comode and the two-head, walk-in shower was made for a private moment and a good book, which georges by dumas so completely was!

KIDS, PHOTO, TRAVEL (permalink) 07.19.2010
summer vacation 2010
you hopefully didn't notice but i was away last week. as for where i was, i was at the beach. as for which beach, it was one south carolina way, just south of myrtle.

as for the week ... simply put ... it was great. it was eight days shorter than our 2009 outing but in the end proved more relaxing. i only left the beach house, for non-beach business, once. i never pulled my laptop out of its bag. i only had to respond to three emails (via an iphone). and, i read an entire book with days to spare. for a guy who enjoys time at home with family and who predominately sits in front of a computer and never gets as much time in his books as he'd like, i'd say the week was everything an over-committed, into-his-kids, introvert could ask for.

oh, and marty and i got some ok minutes together as well.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 03.17.2010
time to go skiing, eh?
ok, now that i got my bitching out of the way, let's talk about the good things of the latest vacation.

#1 : man-cation
the day before the trip, a girl who works in my office sent me off by saying, "enjoy your man-cation". it is just not humanly possible for me to love this colorful phrase any more and all the good things that go with it.

#2 : the canadian rockies
i don't know that they've made the camera that can capture just how massive and stunning and wicked cool this particular span of mountains are. it's beyond bewildering and banff national park, where bookguy and i traveled this year, is really something diverse and special.

#3 : castle in the sky
canadians build castle's in their mountains. i thought the stanley manor of estes park was impressive but this hotel, built in 1888, is as unbelievable and awe-inspiring as the mountains that completely surround it. truthfully, it makes the stanley look like a metal tool shed in a suburban back yard.

#4 : spring skiing
spring skiing in colorado involves sunscreen and t-shirts. spring skiing in canada means temperatures may get above zero degrees. when commenting on the low temps on a lift to a local, i was told that this same hill in january registered negative thirty and this here near-zero business was deemed a for sure heat wave for the region.

#5 : ex-pat
after soaking in the canadian hospitality and breathtaking vistas, i asked bookguy why he thought more americans didn't move north. he said it probably had something to do with the nine-month winters. i reckon this is a sound take and probably why you see canadians making the most of things, frigid as they may be. talent-wise the small boy in this picture would easily make most high school hockey teams in the states. and watching this man work with his son so made me extra-homesick for my youngins (not to mention watching them play on this wild lake made me miss skating on colorado mountain ponds when i was a kid).

#6 : reconnaissance
banff national park is definitely a place that holds appeal for a summer or winter sojourn and i was taking diligent notes about the ways my family would enjoy this region. i have already discussed the matter with marty and the start of a road trip north is taking form. i imagine a mix of camping and hotels while we wend our way to the obvious attractions (e.g. rushmore, the badlands, custer's last stand) making banff the termination or turning point for our great north american adventure. too kewl.

(all photo credits go to my long-time mancation cohort, bookguy)

TRAVEL (permalink) 03.16.2010
i'm sorry sir, there is nothing i can do.
my sunday was to begin at 3:50am. i can count the days that i have begun at 3:50am on one finger of one hand. i was ready for this particular day though because it was to mark the beginning of a twelve hour trek that would return me to my people.

the day started with the alarm of my iphone ringing one hour early due to daylight savings time which means the day that already had a gruesome start time now had an even more gruesome start time. sadly i didn't realize this miscue until i had taken a shower and went to wake bookguy. for one hundred reasons i was afraid to go back to sleep so groggily waited the hour out in preparation of the two hour car ride to calgary that would officially set our journey in motion.

instead of boring you with the litany of missteps that occurred throughout the day, i'll just add how it all ended because if you sprinkled ten more equally fated dots on the page, you'd have a fine picture of this travel experience. the day concluded, after a three hour delay at o'hare (an airport i was not originally supposed to pass through at all and a full six hours after i was supposed to have been home based on my original itinerary), with the pilot saying over the garbled intercom that there would be a brief delay because the plane was over-fueled and we had to wait for the suck-extra-fuel-back-out-of-the-plane truck to come and suck-extra-fuel-back-out-of-the-plane (as you can imagine, airports, even ones the size of o'hare, aren't exactly teeming with such specialized equipment). the word "brief" in o'hare-speak turns out to be thirty-five minutes and these were just a few more drops in the bucket that culminated in my crossing my home's threshold at 12:40am (mon) instead of 4:30pm (sun) as i was originally scheduled to, or if you prefer twenty-two hours instead of fourteen.

i try to not gripe about such pedestrian matters in this space and i know i run the risk of sounding like one of the douche-bags so expertly dissected by louis ck but i'm taking this moment to rededicate myself to some long-held convictions:
  • avoid u.s. customs (post 9-11)
  • avoid connecting flights
  • avoid checking bags
  • avoid flying (post 9-11)

and don't get me wrong. i love flying. i love traveling. and i love the ease in which both of those things are possible via today's knowledge and technology. but the love of those things is irrefutably trumped by my complete lack of patience for thoughtless reactionary, partially-cooked processes which are mindlessly implemented and heartlessly administered. it's tragically sad and we're capable of so much more.

PHOTO, TRAVEL (permalink) 10.09.2009
making the rounds
i spent the week in michigan for work. i spent most of my time at michigan university but had lunch with a friend at michigan state on the way out. here are a few iphone images from along the way.

a spliced view of university of michigan's campus from my hotel window (the big house is in the upper right corner)

a shot from one of my two meals at blimpy burger

my view from the office i worked in at michU

dan brown and pepper-bacon macaroni from zingerman's road house

my view while working in michU's law library. (absolutely breathtaking)

and just a few shots from the very different feeling michigan state campus.

colors beginning to turn over the river running through campus

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.11.2009
we're back
after more than 14 days, after more than 3,000 miles, we're back home. as for our destinations, they were:

saint louis, mo to buena vista, co (2 day stay)
buena vista, co to santa fe, nm (7 day stay)
santa fe, nm to fort collins colorado (4 day stay)
fort collins co to saint louis, mo (352 day stay)

i've got more pics and notes from the trip to share but at the moment all i've got time for is this note announcing our safe return home.

i do however have time to share my favorite comment of the trip. it came from bella when she and i were sitting in the back seat of the van and somewhere in eastern colorado. she asked me if i knew why you couldn't tickle yourself. i said, truthfully, that i did not know why you couldn't tickle yourself. she said it was because of your fingerprints. she said that everyone has unique fingerprints and only your body knows them and therefore isn't ticklish by them. but your body doesn't know other people's fingerprints and finds them ticklish to the touch. i gotta say that is the soundest explanation anyone has ever provided to me as to why i cannot tickle myself. i will also say that if you spend enough time in the car all conversations start sounding like late-night dorm-room banter. and by my meager estimation, there is no better form of discourse.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 08.06.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 7
marty found a state park which had old cave dwellings which you could walk through. the experience began with a short walk through a forest and field to the main cave system. a few of the rooms were accessible via home-spun ladders. while the spaces looked spacious for a hole in the side of a cliff, they felt less cavernous once you crammed five people into them. and we didn't even have any of our stuff. like, where would i put my chinese teapot collection?

after working your way through the initial set of caves you hit a fork in the trail. one arrow points you back in the direction of the visitor center and the other sends you on an additional 1.5 mile hike through more woods to the community's defensive lodging. still feeling good, we opted for the extra leg.

when we arrived at the base of the defensive stronghold, you couldn't really see where it was situated in the cliff. but by the placement of the first ladder you got the sense that it was 'up thataway'. we ascended this first ladder and then wended our way through some tight walkways carved out in the stone. we hit the second wood and rope ladder. this one was twice the height of the first one and was bolted to a stone face that was more sheer and ominous than the first. in the below picture, it was about were that man was standing, facing out, with his arms in the air that i lost it. i blame him.

bella went first. then alex. then marty. then anthony. then me. on that ascent at about the point where the man was waving his arms the first wave of nausea hit me, then sweat. i was close in on anthony essentially looking at his butt. when the dizziness hit me i called up to marty saying i wasn't feeling right. marty is well aware of my issues with heights and immediately started talking to me, "ok troy. it's ok. you're almost here. just a few more. just keep looking straight." as soon as my body took in her words of encouragement. anthony let go of the ladder with his left hand swung out so he could turn and look down at me and said

go pee daddy

no pee anthony. not now anthony. turn around anthony.

anthony. not now keep climbing buddy.

go anthony! go now!

as of late anthony is playing this game where he likes to announce when he's going to go pee. when you ask him if he wants to go in the toilet he says no. i think he's just rubbing our nose in the fact that we're about to have some work to do. at seeing anthony hanging precariously off the ladder, holding on with just one hand, i was done and officially worthless. my sweaty hands tightened their grip on the uneven rungs and i pulled myself in closer to the ladder. marty coaxed anthony up the next few rungs and pulled him off the ladder and then talked me up the last few rungs. at this landing was another equally tall and sheer ladder. i looked at it then at marty. she put a hand on the my shoulder and said it was ok and she could handle the kids. which was good because while she was dealing with me, bella and alex already jetted up that ladder and were waiting to climb the next. marty followed anthony up and they continued onto the large cutout above while i sat on the ledge staring at the cliff wall.

marty and the kids returned after about twenty minutes. marty asked how i was doing. i said ok. i had been steeling myself for this moment and was prepared to get back down the evil ladder without issue. this time, alex went first, then marty, then anthony, then me, and then bella. marty was making sure anthony got down ok and was again talking to me. seeing what marty was doing once i was on the ladder, bella jumped in, as is her way.

ok dad. it's ok. imagine that you're climbing on a ladder and that ladder is flying through the air.

oh jesus bella!

MARTY (in a hurried tone)
bella! you need to tell him things that make him feel strong. confident.

ok. ok dad. dad. you're strong. very strong. you're as strong as a dinosaur.

amazingly, i got off that cliff without the aid of a helicopter.

in these woods that led to, and more importantly away from, the hell-cave we found that the trees smelled of cinnamon which for our family made them smell like french toast. bella sniffed the tree. bella hugged the tree. bella said the tree smelled so good she could marry the tree. and she doesn't even like cinnamon. that's my girl, amazingly unpredictable to the end.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 08.05.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 6

the dearmitt clan on television
why we don't own a television

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 08.04.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 5
one of the boys we're staying with is on his high school's swim team. i told him that i was trying to learn how to do flip turns. he eagerly launched into a tutorial starting by asking if i could do a flip. i said yes. he said show me. i did. he then went through the mechanics of the approach, the flip and the subsequent push off the wall. i took my place a few paces from the wall, launched into my stroke and took my first crack at the maneuver. after having actually achieved the approach, the flip and a partial push off the wall i rose out of the water knowing it could be better but amazed it at all resembled what i was after. he was standing ready to deliver his critique, "that ... was ... really ... terrible. i mean it was a complete failure."

speak with your heart and not your mouth and you will be loved.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 08.03.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 4

the only time we eat mcdonalds is on vacations. to listen to our children it is 51% of the reason they like or agree to go on vacations. we are in the tenth day of vacation and have yet to partake in the golden arches. this has mostly been facilitated by the point that we are staying in places too remote for even ronald to hang out.

the good side of this means you get to encounter some of the most unique and quaint eateries you could ever imagine finding. if there's a downside, it is that such places don't do fast food, but the speed factor is nullified in that these roadside diners are so interesting and full of character, they are every bit as fascinating as the destination.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 07.30.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 3

the family we were staying with were going away for the day. we asked if we should lock up if we left the house.

we'd prefer not because we don't know where our house keys are.


actually we're not even sure we have house keys. we didn't realize that until we went on a trip to new mexico.

and you left the house open for the weekend.

no, we left the house open for the week.


i guess that's mountain life.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 07.29.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 2
on our second day on the road we gave nicknames to the children. they fell out as follows.
  • bella 'really' walter dearmitt because of how she always says "really" after people say things to her she doesn't like or believe.
  • alex 'no funniness' walter dearmitt because of how he always screams I WANT NO FUNNINESS when you try to play/mess with him when he's not in the mood for it.
  • anthony 'showpop' walter dearmitt because of how he walks around the house all morning, day and night saying "showpop now. i want showpop now" which is what he calls my stovetop popcorn.

our first destination had a house-load of kids before we even arrived. most were teenagers and i learned the tenet of teenagers not finding younger kids cute was still alive and well with this current generation as could be confirmed by a conversation overheard by marty between two of them.

man those kids are loud.

yeah, and what's up with them. one is, like, american and the other one is, like, arabian or something.

poor aleo. and kids who have dogs look quite oddly upon kids who don't have dogs and like playing in the dog crates.

and we also got a taste of our future by watching a fifteen year old girl in summer mode, listlessly move about the house. one morning, or early afternoon, i overheard the following after the girl stumbled downstairs after waking up:

i feel like it's incredibly early

it's 11:30

marty commented on the grace with which the parents shoulder the teenage daughters angst, which is another way of saying it was impressive that they didn't jump all over her when she said things like the above. the dad said that there were a few hard years, especially for the mother and the daughter. one day after observing a battle between the two the dad said to the wife, "you're working too hard. your job is not to run their life, it is to guide them and point them to opportunities." this notion went on to make a large difference and is probably something most parents could be reminded of time and again.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 07.27.2009
summer vacation 09 pics and notes 1
we're holidaying. it looked like we were going to skip this year and then a few things came up and now we're not. so as i'm able, i'm going to give you glimpses into our days as they happen so in case you are skipping this year's vacation like we planned to, you can live a bit through us.

a vacation ritual of marty's is to get a couple entertainment magazines, like Us, People, or Entertainment Weekly. then during a week of vacation, she'll methodically pour over them until they're entirely tattered and torn. you'd be surprised how comical it is to watch someone attempt to stay abreast of such free-flowing information only once every 12-14 months. for instance, such a discontinuous regiment fosters comments like from her:

i thought she just left him but here it says she's been artificially inseminated. but it doesn't say by who.

man look at this guy. he used to be pudgy. he looks pretty good now. but jeez, i think my treasure trail is more prominent than his.

we checked into the hotel at about 1am and immediately went to sleep. in the morning, we rose and packed getting ready to leave. as soon as the kids realized we were preparing to get back in the car, they freaked out thinking we were leaving without letting them watch any television. marty, reactionist extraordinaire, took the kids out to the lobby, got each of them a travel cereal boxes and marched them back to the room, each of them balancing their milk laden bowls. she then pulled a table to the end of the bed directly in front of the television, lined them up sitting on the foot of the bed, cereals in front of each and grabbed the remote. when she turned the television on, there was an image of an untanned meat-back flexing his oiled muscles in front of the camera sans shirt. that was all that was happening. nothing in the background, no sound, no voice-over, no nothing. just this smirking guy from the waist up. all five of us just sat mesmerized by this image that invaded our room for about ten seconds. then the inanity of the moment hit me and i started belly laughing. what struck me as so funny was not that this was on television (nothing will surprise me there) but that this is the the first glimpse of television my family got dealt on this vacation. after i started laughing, marty depressed the channel button. the next channel had just started credits for some animated dog show. alex immediately said, "oh i love this show" even though i'm quite certain he's never seen it before. so marty set the remote down, got her people magazine out and i opened my laptop and started typing this note. after about ten minutes we looked up to find all three children completely transfixed. bella's cereal was gone. the boys' was untouched. it looked like a scene out of one flew over the cookoo's nest. it took three calls of alex's name for him to even acknowledge anyone else was in the room. there's little doubt that marty and i could have been half way across the state before any of children even noticed or cared they'd been left behind.


and, in case it wasn't apparent enough in the pictures above, alex is wearing a tie. a tie he chose and tied himself.

TRAVEL (permalink) 05.26.2009
i'm not dead, i just smell like i am.
sorry for the quiet days. i've been away camping. in evidence.

the below picture does not do a good job of showing i haven't showered or seen the indoors for three days but it's true. midway through the first day outdoors i thought i smelled pretty bad. the second day it seemed i wasn't so ripe. and by the third day i thought i smelled downright ok. if you could figure out how to bottle that sort of delusion, you'd be a wealthy soul. this picture also gives a sense (albeit blurrily) how many smores bella ate late into the night around the camp fire where she was one of the circle's favorite tellers of scary stories.

and you have a better chance of spotting bigfoot in the brush than catching alex in a foul mood on a no-work, no-school day.

and give anthony enough dum-dums and a big enough box of books and he could not be more sated, unless you could also get him a breast milk I.V.

and sorry we don't have a picture of marty. she was working too fast and hard to catch on film. moms always get screwed.

and for as good as we are getting at this camping business, the post-camping tick-check i get from marty still stands as the best part of it all.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 04.08.2009
while we're on the subject

click to enlarge

in stumbling upon the latest anthony pic (beach tough), i found the above image of the family at the beach last summer which somehow never got pinned to the wall. and given these teasing glances we're getting at warm weather, it felt doubly right to share now.

TRAVEL (permalink) 03.23.2009
we may have found a third musketeer

click to enlarge

bookguy cast his vote blaming me for missing last years outing so allow me to cast's hard to ski with someone who decided to move to the other side of the world. 'nuff said and ... snap!

while it's hard to pick just one moment from our tenth annual ski vacation as a favorite, a real contender would be the moment our hostess told bookguy and i that her female friend asked if he and i were a couple or not. after making a twisted face of disbelief bookguy threw his hands in the air and said that the two of us didn't even talk to one another the whole time her friend was around us and why would she think we were a couple let alone even know that he and i knew one another.

ten more of these trips and people will brand us as married without asking a single question.

TRAVEL (permalink) 03.17.2009
in case yesterday's mention wasn't enough.
your host has gone skiing.

i'll be back with you on monday (the 23rd).

TRAVEL (permalink) 09.04.2008
the airlines give pretzels, if you're lucky
i had just come out of the smokey mountains into tennessee and needed gas. i veered onto an exit advertising a BP station. i couldn't see the station but the sign pointed to the left saying it was .5 miles that way. i wended my way through a few turns in the still hilly region and when i still didn't see it i started feeling duped and wondered if i was being sent into some neighboring town. i passed a wood sign that announced in painted-cursive letters that i was entering cocke county. i was about to turn the car around but got distracted by wondering if the name was pronounced cook, coke or cock and by the time i put a foot on the brake, i saw the clearing and then the pumps.

the building had a stone foundation and dark brown timber walls. aside from the few recently hung BP signs, this was an old general store which has surely been on the side of this country road for a great while. after getting the gas flowing i stepped inside to ask about a bathroom. while the majority of the store looked like your standard stop and go station, one corner sported a full sized deli operation. on the customer side of the counter sat three tables that looked like they came straight out of a nearby resident's breakfast room. the only people in the store were three people sitting at one of the tables. an older man reading a paper, an older lady wearing an apron and a younger woman who looked at my kindly.

the youngest of the crew asked if she could help me with anything. i motioned toward the menu board hanging over the deli asking what people liked. the girl told me that people liked everything but she liked the club sandwich most. i said i'd like to try one of those. the older lady immediately pushed back from her chair and moved to the other side of the counter and began working.

after using the bathroom and moving my car away from the pump, i poured a fountain drink and took a seat. the young woman seeing another car pull up moved behind the register. two shirtless men walked in the front door and greeted her by name. she asked how they were doing and one of the men stopped at the counter to say he was ready to do some cuttin' and would be working down by the riverbed today. the other man moved back to the refrigerated section and returned with a carton holding six bottles of beer. some more people walked in and more names were exchanged. when people's eyes found me they studied me sitting in the chair at the empty table before giving me a quick nod of their head.

a girl wearing a home-made shirt that said 'compromise' in neon, air-brushed letters came in with a heavy set guy wearing a shirt that didn't quite cover his stomach, shorts and cowboy boots without any socks. the girl moved to the deli counter but the guy held up at the register. after greeting the girl, the boot guy said he mangled his foot earlier in the day and he would show her but he didn't want to take the boot off, adding that it was quite gory inside. the girl asked him if he was going to law school this semester. he said "while it would be an honor and privilege to" he didn't think it was going to work out because of finances and he hoped to start up in the spring semester. the girl he came in with was waiting at the counter. the deli-woman broke from my meal to ask what she wanted. the girl said, "four hot dogs, all the way". i took this to mean four hot dogs with everything on them and wish i knew to order my food with such knowledgeable flourish.

moments later the woman got my attention and handed me my food on a ceramic plate. the sandwich was not like what your mom would have made you, but like what your grandmother would have made you. it was fat and cut into four pieces. each wedge had a toothpick stuck through. and it was quite delicious. or perhaps i was just heady from studying the stream of people and listening in on their comfortable and friendly banter.

upon finishing my meal, leaving a 100% tip and walking out the door with a wave of thanks i realized i obtained more culture, education and curiosity in this out of the way service station than i have in every previous interstate-exit fast food experience i've ever had ... combined. it will be interesting to see how this goes over when i've got the rest of the family with me.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.29.2008
a bird in the hand
today will be one of the few days a year i spend shirtless in a speeding car headed from one region of this country to another region. many who hear of my plans express shock that i would choose a twelve hour drive over a three hour flight. there are many reasons for this choice none of which most would share but the biggest reason i still make the choice is that it is still a choice i am able to make. we are one national event/disaster from having highway travel be as impossible, frustrating and unusable as airline travel.

TRAVEL (permalink) 01.25.2008
below shows the supposed temperature in chicago today


it only takes one short stroll down michigan avenue to and from dinner to know someone's gauges are horrifically broken because there is no way it is only -3. absolutely no way. i can't remember when i've been as cold as i was on this brief walk. in fact, it was so icy, my scalp ached. between the traffic and the weather, i'm quite perplexed why anyone would choose to call this city home.

the last time i've been this cold i was on top of a mountain in stowe, vermont in their arctic january.

TRAVEL, HYGIENE, KIDS (permalink) 08.16.2007
i was having the weirdest dream

what follows are the first four things i heard coming out of my first night's sleep after my weekend away:
  1. oh anthony! you wiped poop on your dad.
  2. troy don't move. there's poop on your back.
  3. hold still or you're going to get it everywhere.
  4. oh crap anthony! you got it on the sheets too!
am i the only one to find it mildly interesting that marty expresses more dismay by discovering feces on her linens than on her husband. i mean she has at least two sets of sheets. sheesh.

if there is a good part to this story it is i wasn't actually awake through this and the commentary was only hazily registering with me. it wasn't until marty brought it up later that night that i turned to her asking, "you mean that really happened. shit." quite succinct on multiple levels.

TRAVEL, FRIENDS (permalink) 08.15.2007
you can skip the couch, this will be quick.
driving a non-air-conditioned sixteen-year old bmw by yourself, cross-country in august heat, windows down, sunroof open, shirt off, music distortedly loud, and shoeless on a day you'd typically be in the office is the closest glimpse of the fountain of youth i've ever spied. this was my day yesterday and it was exquisite. very, very exquisite.

it was two years ago to the weekend that i last made this pilgrimage south to visit my two best friends. this makes it also two years ago to the weekend that my colleague and friend, joe, died suddenly during a routine mountain-biking outing. joe floats in and out of my thoughts with whimsical unpredictability and did so with heightened frequency yesterday. sample: one day joe asked me to do lunch. when we sat down at a mediterranean eatery he expressed dissatisfaction with his work situation. actually, it was the very first thing he said which made the first thing i said this ...

you're a whore joe. a slut. a simple and replaceable piece of meat. every day you come to work there's a hundred dollar bill sitting on the corner of your desk and every day you sit down you're putting that hundred dollars in your pocket and the moment your ass hits that cushion you belong to them. what do you expect them to do? send you some frilly and giggly coed? ain't how it works. they're going to send you the most vile and abject human you can imagine and that person is going to walk up, climb on and do some really nasty and unforgettable things to you. when they're done, they're going to get up and they're going to walk away without as much as a word. as long as you keep picking up that money joe this is your life. accept it or stop picking up the f'ing money. now can we eat? being a whore makes a man hungry.

through my monologue, joe wordlessly stared at me like a university student taking in an advanced physics problem. when i finished he burst out laughing. after calming down he shook his still smiling head thoughtfully, picked up the menu in front of him and said, 'yes, we can eat'. he seemed better through the rest of lunch and work matters didn't come up again. after that initial session joe would appear at my desk once or twice a year saying "i need a pep talk' (what we came to call my dissertation) or sometimes it would be 'i really need a pep talk today troy' to which i'd say "you driving?".

i may not be the most conventional life coach out there, but unlike some, i don't get paid by the hour. things are what they are. if you like them, fight to keep them. if you hate them, fight to change them. life isn't forever, feel free to be picky.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.14.2007
why i drive
i'm holidaying in north carolina this weekend. this is my third cross-country trip of the year and it has been as issue-filled as my previous two outings. because of this consistency, i will not be crossing the saint louis city limit again until year 2008. for sure the only smile to cross my face during this ill-fated twelve-hour drive to NC came when i pulled up behind this car from texas at a construction slow down.


TRAVEL, KIDS (permalink) 07.17.2007
we need a tent that can fit twelve personalities
regarding yesterday's sassafras post, there's more. i captured this series of images on the second morning of our last camp outing. when the first photo was snapped anthony had been awake for one hour. this means marty had been awake one minute shy of an hour. alex is about ten minutes into his day at this point and me, the shooter, about two minutes in. if marty looks chagrined, it's because anthony is a morning person and marty is not and by rule all non-morning people hold great contempt for all morning people, especially when they birthed them. anthony is the first such human living in our home and we're all still adjusting to his peculiar and inconsiderate nature.

shot number two is nothing more than further evidence of anthony-dramatics. he is our best shot of having a child do shakespeare professionally. also in this image, you can see the mayhem on the alex's left knee. he scored a three-inch slice from a rock while playing soccer with his uncle the night before. the real culprit here is a pair of shoes three sizes too big for him. they were passed down by his cousin and alex has refused to wear anything else since obtaining them. shockingly he somehow got tripped up in these man-shoes while playing soccer in the woods after dark. dumb luck that. who could have possibly seen that mysterious result coming? as a bonus prize, that foul looking tear on his knee was re-aggravated four times during our nine days in colorado and is just now on the full mend.

this third shot i simply call PLAYER. anthony's saving grace is his ability to take the form a very chilled-out cat when he feels the looks from the family (namely marty) are getting too derisive (morning-people haters) for comfort. you'll note this laid-back, street-corner look has markedly softened his mother's gaze.

and now if i can direct your attention to the left side of the tent ...

keep going ... just a bit more ... there you go ... here you'll find the real royal of the family. queen isabella doing what she's doing everyday at 10am since birth. you should know such skills are not acquired, they are inherited. this was my contribution to my daughter's core pleasure in life.

TRAVEL (permalink) 07.06.2007
my only real question is how did you come up with 81 cents?
on the morning of our last day at the fort collins hilton, i found our week-ending bill had been slid under our door. in addition to the expected and numerous charges there were several line items listed as LOCAL CALL $0.81. i went to the phone to see if such a charge was noted there. it was not. i then scanned other visible literature in the room and didn't see any such notification. i had faith that had i appeared at the front desk with the bill clenched in my fist, the charges would have been 'forgiven', with a smile even. i did not do this because it is the mere fact that they'd put me through this exercise for something as inconsequential as a local phone calls that made me agree to pay this final insult. and i wanted to leave with an appropriate amount of bile in my throat as to remember this experience.

bottom-line the hilton is meant for business travelers who aren't ultimately responsible for the net expense of their trip and not a family trying to enjoy a summer vacation. i can clearly see that. i just think they should be big enough to own up to their smarmy way of business and notify prospective guests that their purpose is one of fleecing and not pleasing their customers.


TRAVEL (permalink) 07.04.2007
i write this through gritted teeth and taut sphincter
the hilton engineer noted in yesterday's post had mentioned that if i just needed to check email and stuff they had some computers in their business center off the main lobby i could use. needing to send a single message i stopped in there today. after sitting down and pressing the space bar to wake the workstation i was met with an introductory screen asking me to swipe a credit card on the side of the monitor to charge the fifty cents a minute usage fee to.

i'll give them one thing, the are impressively comprehensive in the fleecing of their customers.

TRAVEL (permalink) 07.03.2007
reading this review will cost you $10.99
i hate the hilton.

let me back up.

last thursday morning me and mine piled into our family van and pulled away from our home's curb in the direction of fort collins, colorado for my high school's twenty year reunion. the drive from saint louis to fort collins takes between twelve and sixteen hours depending on wether you're riding with me or my father, respectively. using the band-aid removal theory, my intention was to drive straight through. after one hour of smooth sailing we watched the brakelights stack up in front of us which resulted with us sitting for one hour. this was followed by torrential rains, more traffic congestion and then more rains. the only saving grace of this seemingly cursed adventure was the children traveled amazingly well, better than i could even hope for and this without the aid of the portable dvd crutch (which very well may be the reason our kids travel so well).

so instead of arriving at 9pm, as i had intended, we arrived in the fort at 2am (MST). a classmate had offered his carriage house to us. he caveated the offer by saying it was on the tail-end of a renovation, but thought it was far enough along to house my brood. he was going to be gone when we arrived and told me where he kept a key secreted away. i had hoped i would be looking for this key in the late dusk light instead of the moon's, but as i said the trip thus far had been cursed. with everyone sleeping in contorted positions throughout the van, i momentarily sat and looked at the dark house. i got out of the car and went into the backyard. my goal was to find the key and get into the house before a neighbor reported a prowler to 911. my eyes were still adjusting to the dark when i heard a bush move. i turned to find a well-built figure clad in only a pair of shorts rapidly coming at me. as he neared, images of blairwitch entered my mind and i thought i was about to experience the final scene first-hand. he then spoke; "hey. i wish you had called first." it was my friend, and for reasons i won't get into, the lodging wasn't going to work out. i returned to the car and tentatively told marty we needed to get a room somewhere for the night. she silently nodded in understanding and i pulled out in search of some red-eye lodging. at one point during the hotel quest marty said with very succinct and frustrated tones she needed me to find a room, and like right now. there was a time in our relationship such an urgent mandate was a sign of good things to come. our relationship is sadly no longer part of that time. so i amped up my efforts.

i found a ramada for $90 a night. the room was of a nice size, had two beds, free internet, a pool, a fridge and complimentary continental breakfast. but given that we were going to be staying a week, marty wanted to get a nicer room closer to our activities. once we got settled marty went online and price-lined better accommodations. she scored a $220 a night room for $75 a night at the hilton. the next morning we packed up and headed across town for our new digs. hilton hotels are nicely appointed with lavish lobbies and clean rooms. upon checking in the first thing we noticed is that there was no fridge. marty called the front desk. they said they could deliver one at a charge of $10 per day. we needed one so requested it. never-mind that given the length of our stay, we could have purchased a new one at target for the same price and got to keep it in the end.

next i plugged in my laptop to check my mail and couldn't get a connection. i called the front desk for assistance and they said they'd send an 'engineer' up. two dowdy looking twenty-somethings arrived minutes later and i showed them what was happening. one of the two asked if i had yet payed the internet service fee. i said i had not assuming it came with the room. i assumed wrong and was told the fee was $12. i commented that that seemed steep for a week of internet given the availability of free hotspots. the technician corrected me saying the fee was per day and not per stay. i asked him to leave my room.

later that night my folks arrived to watch the kids while we attended an event. i told the children i'd get them an in-house movie for the night and queued it up. the pre-purchase warning screen advised of the $12 charge. $12 doesn't seem like a lot for r-level porn when you're away from home but it somehow felt like a burn for disney. i shrugged the imbalance off and accepted the charge. the next screen informed me $14 dollars had just been billed to my room. that is $12 plus a $2 tax and service fee which was obscurely footnoted in the previous screen.

the next morning i went down to get a coffee and bagel. i was greeted with a neon sign that said breakfast buffet $12.99. no morning coffee. no morning bagel. i stopped at the front desk to ask if i could get a microwave for my room (so i could make oatmeal). i absolutely could ... for a mere $10 a day.

i got back to my room and grabbed a bottle of water sitting on the television. just before i cracked the seal i noticed a piece of cardboard at the top that had in a bright red font, $4.00. below the price in a softer blue text were the words PLEASE ENJOY! i put the bottle back in place, went to the bathroom and scooped a handfull of water out of the toilet. before raising it to my mouth i looked behind the tank checking for a water meter with a dollar sign on it. i didn't see one but figured they could have hidden it behind the drywall. i poured the water back into the commode and then peed in the sink, afraid to use or flush the toilet given the distinct possibility of a hidden flow-meter.

now don't get me wrong about this. i'm far from uptight about spending money, especially when on vacation. in the past, i've laid out upwards of $600/night for a room on a ski mountain. i do believe you get what you pay for and am willing to appropriately compensate service providers. but i also believe one should charge what it costs to accommodate a client. if you can't shoulder basic and what i would say are reasonable requests from your guests, then you should charge more. some of these services routinely cost this business money and some do not thus making some of the added dings definitively frivolous. the net result of this treatment is that not only will i never again stay in the fort collins hilton but i will never stay in any hilton (wether they engage in such nickel and dimery or not) and i will actively evangelize against anyone else staying in them. an honest translation of such evangelism is if ever asked i will say i'm not sure where you should stay but i am certain where you should not stay. i'm told this tactic of repeated ten dollarish thumpings is a main-stay of pricier hotels. i reckon there's some battle-tested psychology that the more affluent appreciate perks when a fee is attached to them (anything someone will give you for free is not worth having you know). and conversely, sub-hundred dollar travelers expect everything inclusive, al a buffet-restaurant hell.

i for one, regardless of price, would like to engage a service and then not have to think about it again so i can focus my thoughts on my leisure or work. this hilton did nothing to improve my experience, all of their energy was spent increasing the size of my bill which on this stay they did succeed in doing but the obvious short-sightedness of their approach has forever lost my patronage and by extension anyone who cares to listen to my opinion, which record has admittedly proven is not all that many. so be it.

let me state again, in the event i have not been clear.

i hate the hilton. i'm not a huge paris fan for that matter either.

TRAVEL, PHOTO, SPORTS (permalink) 03.05.2007
for those who guessed salt lake city, utah, you were spot on
in reviewing the photos from this year's ski adventure (none of which were taken by me), i pulled a few out of the stack that i thought made this trip unique. in what i suppose is not an unexpected move, of all these photos, the last one is my absolute favorite and is oddly the one that takes me back to the mountain more than the others. the mind is a curious, and sometimes twisted, thing. you can click on any of the images to enlarge.

TRAVEL (permalink) 02.28.2007
i'm not in missoura anymore. kansas neither.

i've been ignoring you. reason is a more attractive option came along. her photo is above. but worry not, ours is a frenetic love and we all know those burn out the fastest.

and for sport, i've got a shiny nickel for anyone who can guess what city that is in the above photo.

TRAVEL, KIDS (permalink) 08.15.2006
he keeps the lens cap in his diaper

on our trip to the beach last month, marty gave bella and alex disposable cameras. she explained there were a certain number of pictures and when it was done, it was done. we just now got the developed rolls back and i was impressed with alex's range.
  • (top left) i've long been a fan of cattywampus composition and this shot was skillfully crafted. field of depth and division of color is wonderful.
  • (top right) this looks straight out of a gap/j crew/fitch seasonal rag. it's a totally overdone technique, but if you can't nail the fundamental shots, you got no business being in the mix.
  • (bottom left) the 'what's happening here' quality of this shot makes the viewer commit a few brain cycles in contemplating the action and more importantly why the action warrants being photographed. (spoiler: ethan just bested his father in a thumbwar and is counting his winnings)
  • (bottom right) nailing the 'moment in time' shots is a skill any serious photog must be able to harness at will. sure, you wish the cup wasn't there and the window wasn't behind her but your gotta work with what you got.
the full collection, only excerpted here, had several shots of bookguy and his people so i forwarded the relevant ones on thinking he may like to see a photographic savant's early work. his reply ...

i didn't have a stop watch but it couldn't have been 23 seconds after marty gave alex the camera that he had shot off all the pictures. meanwhile bella was calculating how many pictures she could take each day to make sure she could take some pictures every day she was in 'bama. after she was satisfied she had the number down she then went around telling everyone not to touch her camera because she had a certain amount of pictures to take and if anyone messed with it the whole system was going to fail and the earth may stop rotating, etc...

imagine being privileged enough to also see the early steps of a future world ruler as well.

TRAVEL, KIDS (permalink) 07.18.2006
my kingdom for a felt tip pen
as you may have noticed from my unintentionally, unannounced absence last week, i pulled the car off the highway (the car being my mind and the highway being my life ... cliff note for my closer friends). and not only did i pull the car onto an onramp, i actually removed the key from the ignition, tossing the small ring onto the dashboard where it sat all week, with one notable exception.

the hiatus was medicinal. and i'm not talking about your three-aspirin variety but a count backwards from ten caliber of narcotic. the topper ... i slept outside all week. have you ever slept outside? and i don't mean tent-outside. i mean outside-outside. my naked feet poked between the slats and over the edge of our beach house's second-story deck, the ocean winds massaging my triple-E soles. only one night did i sleep alone. all other nights, i had bella or alex or both nestled in an armpit or sprawled across my chest (marty and sassafras slept indoors, enjoying the bountiful real estate their bed offered).

one night after reading books on the porch-bed alex was drawing on a piece of paper with a bic pen. he set the page down and the wind lifted it off the deck sweeping it away. he immediately pointed at the lost parchment and sent me packing.

daddy, my paper.

yeah, your paper blew away alex. you should have held onto it better.

you get it.

no, me not get it. i'm in bed and it's probably a mile away by now.

get my paper daddy.

alex it's gone. i can't get it. here, finish your picture on my hand.

he looked at the the back of the hand i set in his lap, shrugged indifferently and resumed his artwork. thirty minutes later my hand, arm, chest and stomach looked like a drunk tattoo artist was pissed at me. i mostly didn't mind serving as little man's canvass but alex became obsessed with fully covering my nipples with the blue ink of the pen. do you know how hard you have to press a ball point pen against a flaccid male-nipple to actually color it? allow me to answer; hard enough to make the full-grown owner of that male-nipple wince ... repeatedly.

TRAVEL (permalink) 07.12.2006
you haven't been seeing me because i've been seeing this

TRAVEL, KIDS (permalink) 02.27.2006
i'm home!!!
i'm sure you've all deduced by now that last week bookguy and i went on our annual ski trip, now seven years strong. the trips are always rejuvenating but they are also always melancholy at the end. the gloom begins when we part ways in the airport concourse exchanging a clap-on-the-back farewell hug.

after that comes the quiet and lonely walk to the gate. once there, i slouch in a chair waiting for the boarding call, sound-bites from the week playing through my mind. many make me grin. when the saint louis flight was announced i took my place in line. the guy in front of me was wearing a t-shirt that read across the back 'GET DRUNK, BE SOMEBODY' and the truthful reality of my itinerary sank in.

more melancholy feelings.

upon arriving home, my spirits lifted knowing i'd have different kinds of hugs awaiting me there. from marty, i got a thankful, re-enforcements have arrived sort of hug. from alex, a tiny-armed bear hug around the neck. but from bella i got a turned shoulder. i sat down next to her and asked what was wrong. she told me i was a bad father for leaving for so long and she was no longer going to be my friend. i explained that this was unfortunate because i had been away becoming an armpit doctor and was anxious to check hers to make sure they were alright. she turned towards me inquisitively.

are you being for real?

of course i am. do you think i could make something like that up?

well, what do you do? how do you tell if armpits are ok?

like this ... (and i grab her tickling her madly)

and just like that we were again fast friends, for real. now i'm astute enough to know it won't always be that easy which is part of the reason she will start being invited on the annual ski trips very, very soon. i reckon the hard part will then be explaining what 'GET DRUNK, BE SOMEBODY' means and why she doesn't want to be that somebody.

TRAVEL, SPORTS (permalink) 02.23.2006
don't hate me cuz it's beautiful

(click to enlarge)

FRIENDS, TRAVEL (permalink) 01.31.2006
it seems so apparent that both of us are the greatest
it is bookguy's turn to pick our ski destination. he chose utah. one of my favorite humans lives in salt lake city so i called her to tell her i was coming and see if one night we might dine together. she readily raised my offer to a full invitation into her family's home during our nearly week-long visit.

in trying to make sure she was ok with the arrangement, i sent an email offering her an out. in it i explained that my travel-mate could sometimes be a little difficult, especially when away from home for extended periods. she reiterated her original offer saying she would have it no other way but did caution that their home did only have one bathroom. she will be pleased to know that i am approaching forty years in age and have never lived in a home with more than one bathroom. [1] [2]

in trying to make sure bookguy was ok with the arrangement, since he didn't go to high school with this girl, i sent an email offering him an out. his response ...

although i can already tell the "no, you're the greatest" banter will get tough to stomach it should be good humor...

i love how open he is to new experiences. i also love how he so gingerly tip-toed between the sleeping ju-ju gods in his well-crafted retort (at some point during our annual boondoggle, one of us is sure to accidentally nudge one, if not all, of them awake).

[1] i did spend a summer with a family who actually had three toilets but i slept on a punctured air mattress in their basement so am inclined to categorize that more as camping than living.

[2] my current home has one bathroom but two toilets. the second toilet is in a wainscotted hut in our blairwitch-basement and to date bella has been the only one brave enough to lower her naked rear to its seat. and i will say, she has been brave enough an startling number of times.

TRAVEL (permalink) 06.28.2005
the high road
sorry i've been away so long. i've been camping. i'm sure some of you are wondering what it takes for a man-purse carrying fellow such as myself to survive in the wild. well, first i need my man-purse and second i need a support staff of about twenty.

it was a great outing. one of the best we've had. the only bump under the tent came when a bed came available in the one air-conditioned RV in our party. the bed was secretly offered to marty. after learning of the opportunity, i said she should take it. she acted disinterested, albeit unconvincingly. i insisted.

on the surface, it appears to be a stand-up gesture on my part. under the surface it is the choice of a man who knows his wife well enough to know that if a raccoon drops ass within 50 yards of the tent, the girl is going to wake up. so for good measure throw in (a) two twisty, kicky, sweaty kids, (b) a 100 degree day, (c) one husband who is trying to go four days without showering (for reasons not well-defined) and (d) four people in a three-man dome tent and what you have is a proverbial no-brainer. for obvious reasons, i sent her off and for even more obvious reasons, she went off.

when it came time to for her to retire to the camper she paused on the way out of the tent and asked for the pillow i was using. this common house pillow was without doubt the only luxury item in the tent the kids and i were sharing. i uncertainly raised my head and started handing it to her when i asked what i was supposed to use. she tossed me a cloth object that i could have fit into the front pocket of my daisy dukes and told me to use that.

what the hell is this?

it's your pillow.

this is not a pillow.

it's a camping pillow.

what, for a ken doll?

well, did you pack a pillow?

well, did you pack an air-conditioned camper?

fine, keep the pillow. (throws it at me)

yes. how very generous of you. i think i will.

and this was how pissy she was before not getting a full night's sleep. i imagine my choices are looking much more sage at this point.

FOOD, TRAVEL (permalink) 06.07.2005
i wish my business cards had a ominous-looking, winged man on them
i work with a guy who is going to seattle for the weekend. i told him eating at this place is a must. he asked where it was. this is me letting him know.

TRAVEL, QUOTES (permalink) 02.22.2005
steamboat : reflections
after the super bowl, everyone debates the best commercial. after the annual ski-boondoggle, the participants ponder the best piece of banter. i'm naming the alpha quip from this year's steamboat trip to be ...

setting : bookguy is leaving a message for his boss one morning before we headed up the mountain.

how funny would it have been if i had said, 'matt, come back to bed' while you were leaving that voice mail to your boss.

since saying that would have involved you getting up off the ground, i'm pretty confident it wouldn't have happened.

(now that is what i heard, but in rehashing the moment, bookguy swears he didn't say that but instead, 'since saying that would have involved you getting out of bed, i'm pretty confident it wouldn't have happened'. the fact that each option is equally applicable is not a small testament to how well we know one another.)

and a trip with bookguy would never be the same without a backwards kudo which can be seen in the runner-up conversation ...

setting : bookguy and i are driving to the yellow sub with snake

i still think the most sincere thing you've ever posted on your site was the anniversary note to marty.

it's interesting you'd pick that out of everything.

it just wasn't the typical troy bullshit.

do you mind if i use that as an advertisement for my site.

what's that?

dearmitt dot com, just a bunch of typical troy bullshit. i think it has kind of a smart quality to it, not to mention, very flattering to the ear.

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 02.21.2005
steamboat : day 3
what bookguy saw friday @ 4pm

(click to enlarge)

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 02.19.2005
steamboat : day 2
what i saw thursday @ 4pm

(click to enlarge)

TRAVEL, PHOTO (permalink) 02.17.2005
steamboat : day 1
what i saw wednesday @ 4pm

(click to enlarge)

TRAVEL (permalink) 02.16.2005
the wonders of air travel
what i saw monday @ 4pm

and, what i saw tuesday @ 4pm

TRAVEL, PHOTO, WEB, FRIENDS (permalink) 04.02.2004
for those wondering where i was last week

click here to begin

TRAVEL (permalink) 03.23.2004
your host has ...
gone skiing.

FRIENDS, PERSONAL, TRAVEL (permalink) 02.26.2003
you should see my bikini lines
i plucked my eyebrows for the first time ever last thursday, the day before the taos ski bonanza. it began after i spotted a single rogue hair a bit above the rest. so i found marty's tweezers, leaned in close and yanked it. do you realize how much chaos you can see on your face when you lean in two inches from a well lit mirror. i didn't either. so twenty minutes later i'm done with the razing. nothing extreme. just addressing 34 years of unfettered growth.

when i was finished it occurred to me that i was seeing bookguy the next day. now he didn't cross my mind during the maintenance but primping and preening to such dire levels before meeting an old friend makes one take pause.

admittedly, there's something you got to know about bookguy. he's a little on the observant and opinion-friendly side. i mean until he started shaving his head he had this thin fang of hair charging over the top of his scalp. i called it hair's last stand. since eliminating that he's been a little harder to ding physically and he seems to harbor a keen memory for this distant poke at his fading coif.

in regard to my ablutions, he didn't say anything one way or another. and, i don't want to say i'm hurt, but it would have been nice for him to have noticed. that's all.

on a side thought, if i ever started a band i'd name it Marty's Tweezers. additionally i'd make certain we'd open for buddy james' band Amy's Flank Steak. a certain one-two punch for all ages.

TRAVEL (permalink) 01.22.2003
cannonball run meets revenge of the nerds
anyone want to go skiing next month? the lodging is on me.

i'm serious. if you can get to taos, new mexico and i know you or you can confirm you will not be anal-raping any of the other flat-mates, you're welcome to share in this late february boondoggle.

again, i'm serious. i've got room for 6 more. i'm counting bookguy as two because i've traveled with him before and his digestive tract requires a single bed of its own.

viable candidates may contact me directly to discuss specifics.

UPDATE 1: okay. two spots are tentatively taken. i say tentative because one guy needs to get a wave from his parole officer and the other needs to get a wave from the free clinic. i'd mention chlymidia but i don't know that i'm sure how to spell chlamydia.

UPDATE 2: and i know i said i was done with the everyman, but yesterday this happened which caused 3,700 hits from yahoo. to recap that is 1154, 2054, 3700. anybody got any loose jack around to help me with an excessive bandwidth charge from my web host.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.26.2002
can someone roll down a damn window!
10 days off work
16 days away from home
2,600 miles over construction-ridden interstates
48 hours in a rented mini van
4 uproarious travel partners
10 north american states
8 sunny days on the beach
9 competitive days of tennis
1 lap around d.c.'s mall
16 iterations of mamma mia on the hi-fi
1 backyard wedding
5 tetris competitions
7 episodes of world's scariest police chases
1 great house-sitter

and after all of the above blessings it was this single item

1 open flatulence rule

that turned what should have been a frolic-filled holiday into an every man for themselves version of survivor on wheels.

and, the only reason i'm not filled with hate given this tenet of war can be gleaned in that it was i who proved the victor in this improvised test of perseverance and dedication to all that is unhealthy to eat and subsequently digest.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.13.2002
vacation? this feels just like work.
so i'm walking into the rising tide of the atlantic ocean. this is about the third, maybe fourth time i've been in such waters. the waves are getting higher, first hitting my waist, then my chest. given my imposing five foot two frame it didn't take long for the waves to dance about my face. at this point i presented my back to the white-capped waves because i'm smarter than water. as i was congratulating myself on this innovation of thought, a not-too-modest wall of water came from behind and swept my no-longer-that-imposing frame into its dominion and away we went. after being easily spun around in its wash and thinking this was kinda fun, mr water slammed me hard on my back against the sand causing the air to leave my lungs and salt-water to enter my mouth, via the nose, for my added pleasure. after being rolled and thrashed about for a moment, the current loosened and i shot up with that "yeah, I'm all right, no worries here" pose.

about 20 minutes later as we were packing up to leave, i bent over to grab something and approximately a half cup of sea water came pouring out of my nose. allow me to re-visit the highlights: nostrils, out, 1/2 cup of water.

that said, a travel mate told me that what happened there is routine and can even violate other orifices. i pondered this for a moment, just a single moment. allow me to re-visit the highlights: violate, other, orifices.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.09.2002
why isn't my daddy like other daddies?
i'm going to be away for a short bit. not the kind of 'away' that your uncle went on when you were eight. but not a whole lot different from that either. the brochure for the re-assignment clinic is vague about internet access so i'll have to feel the whole connected thing out, between procedures that is.

and oh yeah, i can assure you that this month's menu is a rare occurrance and we'll be back full-force come september.

TRAVEL (permalink) 07.29.2002
no, the shoulder is now an approved passing lane
i drove all over the country this weekend and send the following messages.
  1. to the green jeep girl who drives with her left foot on the dashboard: enjoyed swapping the lead position for 150 miles through ohio.
  2. to the droves of people who don?t understand the purpose of the PASSING lane: (edited for legal reasons)
  3. to the mini van whose driver was eating an egg-mcmuffin AND talking on a cell phone in Indiana: get off my road.
  4. to the construction geniuses in Indianapolis who added over an hour to my voyage: i boycott your city.
  5. to the girls in the red cavalier who worked very hard to catch up to me so they could laugh and ridicule my seat dancing and open window loud singing to Nu Shooz: i commend your commitment to mockery and it is justified, but you can?t keep me from the point of no return.

TRAVEL (permalink) 06.26.2002
is the toilet seat taken
It is not recommended to walk into jakes crawfish, oregon?s number one fish eatery, at 7pm and expect a table in less than an hour. When the hostess said that she could possibly seat me immediately if I didn?t mind an outside table, I replied, ?if you can put a stuffed salmon in front of me in the next twenty minutes I?d eat it off the floor.? Convinced of my zeal I was promptly escorted to a sidewalk table.

For those dining along this row of exterior tables, especially those dining alone, they may elect to pass the time by watching the patrons of the gay bar tounge-kissing and massaging one another?s buttocks across the street or taking in the opposing corner which sports a small collection of young, but fashionable, homeless begging money while drinking, the very in, sobe ales and smoking name brand cigarettes. And, If for any reason the humor seems lean in either of these venues, you can watch jake?s grunged out valet guys ogling the high dollar patrons exiting their employer?s establishment.

And all of this to brie and shrimp stuffed salmon and garlic mashed potatoes. Portland is my friend.

TRAVEL (permalink) 06.25.2002
now boarding
i'm off yet again to the city that turned this 30-something into a fish eater. yep, portland, the oregon variety, not that maine rip-off. and since it's the skiing off-season, i reckon i should get a reasonable amount of work in this time, but there's always powell's bookstore to keep a working stiff sane.

so, updates will be spotty, at best, the rest of the week. i'll see if i can throw you a bone, a skinny salmon bone, at the least before my return.

talk soon.

TRAVEL (permalink) 06.10.2002
it was better than gravel
for Thin When Tan Girl and any other people doubting last friday's itinerary, it was the real deal.

except the 11:00 am item should read 11:09 am because bookguy was off eating a bagel somewhere neglecting the pickup we had agreed to. he could of and should have been on time but he was struggling with his guilt for spending all of his money feeding himself and consequently not hooking his driving compatriot up in any way. fortunately i had some peanuts left from the plane ride i could suck on, to make them last, during the trip as to not go into a low blood sugar state.

TRAVEL (permalink) 06.07.2002
a one-way ticket please
so someone told me they did not think yesterday's menu confession was all that crazed, thus negating at least their opinion that i'm bent. given this surprising development, i'm compelled to throw another log on the fire in pursuit of my seemingly simplistic goal.

bookguy is driving from cleveland to st louis today to visit. this morning, while he packs at his home, i will be boarding a plane in saint louis, en route to cleveland. at 10:42 my plane lands. at 11:00 i will climb into bookguy's waiting truck where we will pull onto the highway and begin the 9-hour driving trek to st louis. i've yet to share this plan without the listener looking at me with a wondrous stupor in their eyes, their expression unmistakable. my adoring wife even added an eyeroll for good measure.

now that i possess your attention, please realize that 10, 20 even 30 years from now i will still fondly remember the day i flew to cleveland only to climb into a oversized truck and drive right back to saint louis with my good friend bookguy. should someone ask you a year from now to recall what you did on friday, june 07, 2002, you will most likely not remember this same day with a like vividness, assuming of course you do not have a similar itinerary which i can assure you, you do not.

now don't worry about me, it's not like i'll get sleepy while driving because in this respect bookguy and i are like an old married couple, where i'm not allowed behind the wheel. it's simply understood that bookguy drives and i sit by his side entertaining him all the while. early in our relationship, we used to sit closer, close enough for him to put his arm around me. when i asked him why we don't do that anymore, he replied "i'm still sitting in the same place, you're the one way over there."

perhaps there's good reason he's in the captain's chair and i'm holding the soda.

TRAVEL (permalink) 04.24.2002
the grass is greener over there
headed to portland for the rest of the week.

while it is a work trip, i?m certain to spend a fair amount of time here.

TRAVEL (permalink) 02.22.2002
i'm back, missed or not.
the flight from portland to saint louis is over four hours long. my particular flight left at 6:29 am and i was the last one to check in therefore getting stuck in a middle seat. being exhausted i knew i was going to be snoozing before we even got off the ground. i asked the people on either side of me to wake me up if i started doing any weird stuff in my sleep. they asked what i meant by weird. ?oh i don?t know, reciting lines from pretty in pink or groping myself, i reckon you?ll know it if you see it.?

i was right, they knew it. halfway through the flight i was roused from my slumber and told that if i was going to keep doing ?that?, they?d prefer i stay awake.

TRAVEL (permalink) 02.13.2002
he's not here right now.
i?m headed to portland for a little work and a whole lot of boondoggling. you can be certain that you will be hearing and seeing the humor before long. more than anything, i just wanted to forewarn you that updates will be a little spotty at best for the next several days. had i planned better i would have turned the update duties over to one of my esteemed readers. ok, so we all know that i absolutely would have turned over the reigns had i two esteemed readers to rub together. will you look at that, another potential entry is born.

and for any wondering if i?ve packed yet, know that i?ve packed my recently delivered issue of Large and in Charge and i?m quite honestly thinking anything else i may remember to bring would be gravy.

TRAVEL (permalink) 01.22.2002
back at noon
been in chicago since friday. good trip. have been totally disconnected since thursday night. kind of nice. have more stuff to say but after sleep. see you on wednesday.

WEB, TRAVEL (permalink) 01.11.2002
in troy we trust
I have recently been told I have a responsibility to my readers. This disclosure closely paralleled my discovery that I had readers. All very exciting.

I was recently telling someone of a recent trip I took to north carolina to surprise my best bud Bookpimp on his 30th birthday. The person I was speaking to turned on me and in a highly exasperated manner proclaimed, "But you said (on your website) you couldn't go and that you were sending him a present, which was going to be late might I add." (12.28.01 entry)

Well yes but all that was a ploy to make pimp think I wasn't going when I really was.

And, just when in the hell were you going to tell us?

Hmm. Soon. I swear. I was just about to. The fact of the matter is on my way there in the airport I overheard this great exchange in the bathroom between a small boy and his father. At that moment I decided to make a photo essay of sorts where I would combine photos from the trip with things I overheard on the trip. My initial plan was to get 30 of each in honor of bookpimp's special day, but alas my friends aren't as stimulating as I initially thought and so we have 15 photos coupled with 15 quotes for a cumulative 30. There is no order or credits given. The order is irrelevant and the orators know who they were which should be enough so Bookpimp is 30 is just a lean collection of images and words which I hope you enjoy at some level.

And, pimp has his present now. And, he seems to like it. although instead I think for a present I could have simply told him that I wouldn't ask him if it feels different being 30, because a lot of people ask that, and there really is no answer, I guess because there really is no question but I guess it does feel different in a sense in that you get asked a lot more inane questions than when you were 29. See you at 40 to see if it's any different than 39.

TRAVEL (permalink) 10.26.2001
planes, trains and stank-ridden automobiles
I had a rare day yesterday.

I got caught and subsequently drenched in a rainstorm destroying my umbrella while walking home from the metro.

I had three flights to Cincinnati canceled due to the same storm that soaked me hours earlier.

Because of these negated flights, I had to drive 350 miles to attend a meeting, leaving St. Louis at 5pm.

I spent an hour trying to rent a car because the agency just couldn't get their arms around a one way trip.

I got pinned in a traffic jam because a semi hit an overpass and exploded (no embellishment).

And, I almost missed my morning meeting the next day because I couldn't find my car key which was later discovered to be dangling from the driver's side door lock.

So after all of this you know what I was thinking? I'm thankful that I didn't get struck by lighting. I'm thankful that airlines don't take their passengers lives lightly. I'm thankful that I live in a country where I can, at a moments notice, drive through four states without applying for permission. I'm thankful that our capitalist society allows me to temporarily rent an automobile. I'm thankful that I was not driving the truck that turned fireball. I'm thankful the wrong person didn't happen upon my car with the key hanging in the door. And I'm thankful that I can wake up in the morning even if only to experience a day as shitty as that. And, that is what I was and am thinking.

TRAVEL (permalink) 10.05.2001
but, one way tickets are cheaper
in that i'm now married at the hip to st louis, i regularly partake in the excercise of defining positive things about living here. number seven on the list of why it's good to reside in a depressed and blighted city is that going to un-addled cities has much more appeal and benefit as can be seen in my latest photo essay on the twin cities.

TRAVEL (permalink) 09.28.2001
double the city, double the fun, work, meetings, hustle, food and humor
I spent the last few days in St. Paul/Minneapolis on a work boondoggle. It was a surprisingly event packed trip considering it's quick and dirty nature. In fact, enough humor occurred that I'm considering putting a photo essay together over the weekend. I say 'I may' because coming home has not seemed to interrupt this crazed routine just yet. So, if I can get more than a 10 minute gap over the next few days, I'll see what I can do.

TRAVEL (permalink) 08.15.2001
and, what do you do for a living?
this is what i was doing today.

TRAVEL (permalink) 05.04.2001
Can you move a little to the left Sir?
Walt, Bella and I are off to Chicago for a few days. A few years ago Walt and I headed up there with some friends to do that whole biking Lakeshore Drive deal. We stayed in a youth hostel that had no hot water or sheets on the bed, almost knocked my bike off the roof of my car when entering a parking garage and got fleeced by a ticket scalper for Cubs tickets. Man, I love that city. And, I'm not being facetious here. I truly do love the city.

If you get a chance to ever bike Lakeshore Drive, I'd highly recommend it. Talk about a spectacle; grandiose skyscrapers, muscle beach, private airport, hippie entertainers, sand volleyball and suits eating lunch, this little jaunt truly contains it all. At one point in the ride I spied this pier deal which ran out into the water quite a way. Being the photo buff, I thought it would make for a great shot of the city with the water in the foreground, so I mounted my two-wheeled steed and peddled my way to the jut's precipice. Upon arriving there, my beautiful shot was mildly marred by what had to be a chi-town native.

TRAVEL (permalink) 04.02.2001
I now know where Seven was filmed
The second half of my recent trip to Oregon was spent on the slopes of Mt. Bachelor. As we all know the Pacific Northwest touts copious amounts of rainfall annually. The ski resorts are surprisingly not exempt from this characteristic. Saturday, after renting our equipment, a woman tried to give me a sleeveless plastic bag to wear for protection from the rain. I readily dismissed her with a wave of my hand and the furrowed brow I am known for. I didn't come all this way to ski with a garbage bag draped about my torso.

Four hours later, in the upper lodge for lunch I peeled through five layers of waterlogged clothing. I now regretted my earlier decision. Jetting down a mountain in 30-degree weather when you could boil pasta in the amount of water you are toting in your clothes is not my idea of healthy recreation. But when the lift ticket is expired and you're back in front of the fireplace, the fact still stands that a wet day of skiing beats a dry day of nothing on this Colorado-boy's checklist.

TRAVEL (permalink) 03.30.2001
Pack your bags honey, we're moving west!
Tonight I'm writing you from downtown Portland, Oregon. Portland stands as one of the most impressive large cities I've ever visited. They have successfully maintained their historic structures while implementing new endeavors with a style that does not degrade the older. Traffic is non-existent, they have the greenest grass I've ever seen, an ocean to the immediate west and mountains within sight to the east, a bustling downtown after 5pm, a thriving public transit system, and a Ruth's Chris steakhouse. In full, I would define Portland as the most centered city I've seen in a long, long time.

Now one must not lose sight that I call Saint Louis my home. For any who may have never visited the keeper of the gateway arch, allow me to draw an image. John Carpenter elected to film his cult-classic film Escape from New York in St. Lou because no additional work was required to emulate a post-apocalyptic backdrop. Enough said?

TRAVEL (permalink) 11.15.2000
you took how many rolls of film!?!?!
ahhh, at last, the much anticipated and highly ballyhooed italy slideshow. two months in the making, i hope you find it worthwhile and enjoyable. allow me to apologize to my non-dsl/cable subscribers, the presentation is not a modem-friendly beast. so use em (fat pipes) if ya got em.

and, to answer the question above, i think the final count was 27 rolls of film. but in my defense, 3 were taken by marty and 5 were only 24 exposure.

TRAVEL (permalink) 06.09.2000
Vacation Alert
Headed to Rome for a little while, so anyone getting miffed that I'm not responding to e-mail, step off. And make sure to look for the anxiously awaited Italy by Idiots slideshow. And, be sure to also check EBAY for the Roman Coliseum hitting the sales block. I'm going to start the bidding at 5 million Italian lira and claim that some native homeless guy sold it to me for 20 American dollars. Marty said that she will serve as my witness.

note to burglars: we have housesitters.

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