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February 05, 2006

Jack's Library, Take 2...

Like most good stores my usual haunts for old books take a week or two to produce a fresh harvest. Fabulous Babe probably thinks I should just let them lie but some of these I had as a child and others I just WISH I could have read when I was younger.

"Conan Doyle's Stories for Boys" from 1938. 6 stories by the man who brought us Sherlock Holmes and The Lost World. A nice clean copy whose contents aren't easy to find.

"Toby Tyler or Ten weeks with the Circus" which was a book I read when I got it for Christmas one year. My best guess is that this copy is from 1923. The book, made into a movie by Disney in the fifties, was written in 1880. Who wouldn't want to run away and join the circus as a kid?

"Abraham Lincoln" by Wilbur F. Gordy. This is from the Heroes and Leaders in American History series by Charles Scribner's Sons. It's from 1918 and past the slightly worn covers looks brand new on the inside. Tons of woodblock illustrations and photographs. A whopping $1.00 brought this into my library. *sigh*

"Washington's Farewell Address & Webster's Bunker Hill Orations" which is going to be an entire post later this week.

"Ivanhoe" by Sir Walter Scott. This one's from 1898 and is completely annotated with notes of historical reference. A smashing good read from my youth as well.

"Tarzan and the Jewel's of Opar" by Burroughs. This is an ex-library copy, printed in 1918, and something of sentimental value to me. I was never a raging fan of the Tarzan books the way I was of the "John Carter, Warlord of Mars" books but I did read them along the way. When I spotted this I knew it needed a better home with me.

"Galveston: The horrors of a stricken city" by Murat Halstead. With Katrina's ravages fresh on most minds it's few people that remember what happened in Texas at the turn of the century. This is a book from 1900 that was published shortly after Galveston was almost completely destroyed by a storm. Tons of pictures before, during and after the storm with some pretty hair raising reading. Easily the best "find" of the expedition and one that I'll let Jack read when he's old enough to understand it.

Posted by Jim at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2006

"Have you ever tried to rush a neurologist?"

My appointment with the neurologist for my throat is later this week on Thursday morning. After that we'll see where we go.

Well meaning friends have encouraged me to get in sooner but a.) the office wasn't having any of it and brushed me off when I tried and b.) it's not killing me and has been manageable with painkillers. (It's not constant pain, just occasional.)

The medicine makes me tired and irritable which is of no benefit to anyone except the luckless schmoo from "Parents" magazine that called to get us to subscribe again. He ended up getting a snoot full after he called for the third day in a row. (This after my telling him the previous two days not to call again.) The conversation involved me inquiring him about his home number so that I might pester him endlessly which ruffled him. After that I rolled the eyes back, lowered the jaw and went into a feeding frenzy. They've not called back since.

I realize it's been quiet but I've been concentrating on school work which, as excuses go, seems reasonable on the surface but it's still just an excuse. I stayed up late last night and my conscious chided me the entire time. You've no idea how embarassing that is when it happens.

Fabulous Babe is as busy as ever. Goings on at work and school have most of her free time sewn up but I've managed to steer her into some moments with Jack over the last week. We've a social event in a few days with her classmates which should be interesting to say the least. (Jack's going.) I'm feeling compelled to find a way to teach him to say "Wharton" on que which will inspire laughter from those who "get it" and others, those lacking clues, won't understand what's so funny.

My big project headed out the door tomorrow is a photo album of Jack for great grandma Louise's 95th birthday. (My dad's mom, the wife of Jack's namesake.) I've printed the 50 best pictures I have of Jack and put them in a photo album with captions and witty things underneath. My dad think's she'll like it so let's hope so.

Posted by Jim at 02:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006

"I asked for a silly face and this is what I got."


I'm chalking this one up as a giant leap forward in the boy's developmental growth.

Posted by Jim at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

"Care to guess what I was humming in the shower today?"

With videogames becoming more and more "lifelike" in their detail level it's hard to believe how far we've come in the 15 years since "Terminator 2" introduced computer graphics into modern media. My Xbox 360 makes my Atari 2600 that I got for my 12th birthday seem like an Etch a Sketch.

Of course with new tools will come new art. Taking computer games, manipulating the characters within into doing things and video capturing it has become a new form of making movies. It's called Machinima by name and there's a very good website devoted to it that you can have a look at here: www.machinima.com

Perhaps the most successful enterprise to date, as far as money or fame goes is "Red Vs. Blue" which took the multiplayer aspect of Microsoft's Halo on the original Xbox and used it to make downloadable movies. www.redvsblue.com was, at one point, rivaled by only a few of the larger search engines for sheer bandwith and download demand. The original series of movies, Season 1, still remain some of the funniest in the genre.

Yesterday my good buddy Archaeon passed me a link to a movie made with World of Warcraft in game footage that had been dubbed with a song from the Broadway musical "Avenue Q" that won a Tony last year. (It's best summed up as a slightly twisted look at Sesame Street.) The song, funny enough on it's own, is made all the funnier by the footage that the folks in the Ardent Dawn guild have laid on to it. If you don't like video games just turn the monitor off and listen. Either way you can't lose.

Be warned. It's a bit crass but you'll hurt yourself laughing.

That being said here you go: "The Internet is for Porn"

Posted by Jim at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2006

"Frogs in the gubbins."


Don't panic. It's down for a bit but not out.

I've spent some time this afternoon looking at old entries on the site. Part of me has been reading it for nostalgic reasons and another part of me has been giving it a critical eye. Finally, after rolling up my sleeves, I decided to break down and begin the site tear down and build up that I've been putting off for too long.

For now the archives are closed. That's not a permanant thing but it will give me a chance to go back and edit and fix mistakes, poor grammar and mixed tense. I may or may not delete some of the pictures but my goal is to move the content forward a notch.

The long threatened Podcasting is closer than you may think. Sitting not 12 inches in front of me is the microphone that I bought specifically for the purpose. The problem? The microphone is so sensitive it picks up the annoying whine of the PC fans. Once I fix the fans the podcasting experiments will begin shortly there after.

(I'm also afraid that when my brother in law spots it on their next visit he may try to run off with it.)

Comments are changing with the overhaul. I've got privacy concerns and am moving to protect anyone visiting here. The amount of crap email and trackbacks I receive has increased and hopefully the steps I take will prevent it from being a problem for you as well.

In an effort to cover growing server costs I'm going to use Amazon branded links a bit more. While traffic is steady and not particularly expensive you only have to get 432 hits in one week on a single entry to realize that the larger a website grows, so too will search engines linking to your content.

I am debating moving "my" entries to a second blog. That would keep this website focused solely on Jack and my more, ahem, varied interests, somewhere else. I currently have two domains parked in addition to this one so there's plenty of room to grow. I'll take any and all suggestions on that front via email. (See address at left.)

This website was devoted to Jack's arrival and now chronicles his journey through childhood. Despite concerns and council advocating differently, I've freely invited a world of strangers, all of you reading this, along for the ride. I've never regretted that decision.



Posted by Jim at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2006

"With feet that big he'll not lack for dates."

So Jack likes to hijack my slippers now.

He's sneak up on me and quietly remove my slippers. (If I look at him he'll stop and turn away for a moment.) Once they're off:


Slipper madness begins.

He'll tromp around for a few minutes, grinning and laughing wildly, until he a.) falls over or b.) gets tired of trying to lift the gunboats. It's like watching one of the Marx Brothers in training.

Posted by Jim at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

"Prisoner 85742 is unhappy with his accommodations."

This was yesterday morning:


It would be even funnier if he had a sippy cup to bang against the bars.

Here's hoping it isn't a sign of things to come. *Yikes!*

Posted by Jim at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

"I call it the "Shards of Glass" tango."

So it was just Jack and I having dinner last night. Jack ate like a bottomless pit for the second night in a row. (I'm thinking we're on the cusp of another growth spurt.) After dinner Jack began looking for things to get into while I cleared the table.

Sure enough he headed to the little Pier 1 candle holder that I've been trying to get Fabulous Babe to decide where to move it for a few weeks. (Ever since Jack's arms got long enough to reach it.) I turned around and Jack had it high over his head, grinning from ear to ear.

Just as I was about to move he threw the glass and wire decoration at the floor in front of his feet. Of course it shattered and the floor in front of Jack was now a sea of slivers and shards of broken glass.

I didn't hesitate and took a step forward to pick Jack up before he could move. This meant that my right foot had to come down into the earlier mentioned hazard. Sure enough: sticky stabby, ouch ouch ouch.

After moving Jack I got the dustpan and broom and got most of the glass up. At the same time I wrapped my foot in paper towels and sat down to try and figure out the next steps. I needed to go upstairs to get the glass out of my foot, clean the cuts and bandage it but I also needed to keep Jack with me and try not to get blood everywhere.

Jack doesn't know the word "ow" or "owie" yet so trying to get him to follow me for those didn't work. "Ouch" brought a similarly blank response so finally I pointed to my foot, a bloody wreck at this point, and said "Uh oh".

Jack immediately said "uh oh" back to me and when I said I had to go upstairs to fix my "uh oh" and I wanted him with me he started moving to the stairs. About 20 minutes later I had a foot full of bandages and it was time for Jack's bath.

Posted by Jim at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2006

"Spin, spin, spin!"

It was cold here this weekend. Bitterly cold. So cold that beer froze in the garage and exploded. I would have been upset a few years ago but now view it as God's way of giving me a hint to scale back on the beer consumption. How cold you ask? Try -25 with wind. Ugh.

At times like that you just hunker down and try to entertain Jack and dismiss completely the thought of going outside. (I did have to go out for milk for Jack and some of his other staple items.) Jack didn't seem to mind not going out Saturday and was generally in a great mood all weekend. (He did have a runny nose that wouldn't seem to quit but that's pretty easy all things considered.)

I was once again reminded at how quickly kids put things together. I bought a "best of" Disney cd with songs from some of Jack's favorite shows. One of them, from "Jo Jo's Circus", is a song about spinning around. When Jack first listened to it he immediately began to do what the song was telling him. I was amazed and keenly aware that little ears take in a lot that you might never suspect.

On the technology front I installed a new hard drive to act as an archive for all of my photos. The larger of the two older drives had been acting as the vault but I'm wary of it and had decided to act before it goes mammary glands's up. I also have decided to get busy about printing at least one of all of the photos I have of Jack. I know it sounds paranoid but over 90% of the pictures from my childhood vanished at one point and when I'm gone it will be just one more step towards my never having been here. Ugh.

This afternoon Jack and I sat and watched an episode of Miffy that Tivo had taped. (It's always ready with at least 3 of them.) He was curled up under my arm with his stuffed "Go Dog Go" dog and his whirrly gigger that lights up. As soon as the music started he sang along and cheered. Every once in a while he would turn and smile at me for no reason. I've no idea if he'll remember these quiet moments when he's older but I'll never forget them.

For over a week now Jack has been eating like a pig. I think we're on the cusp of another growth spurt. My bet is he'll be 36 inches tall by his 2nd birthday. I have no idea how tall I was at his age but I would bet I was close.

In a rare moment of smarty know whats I bought a bag of practice golf balls a week or so ago for Jack to knock around and it may be the best $5 I have ever spent on him. (Certainly better spent than the damn Robot toy that flails and makes noise.) He's having a great time knocking the balls around with his hockey stick and loading them in and out of his trucks. More proof that the best toys aren't expensive.

I'm starting to think about another trip to Kentucky in a couple of months. This time I might just fly in but I haven't made up my mind. Thought process is saying maybe Nashville, which is close to my dad, or Lexington, which is sort of in the middle. Either way it's a lot of driving with Jack in tow.

Jack now kisses me goodnight every night now. He takes his time and slowly plants one on my cheek. After that he's good for me to lay him down. Tonight he pulled the Nuk out, gave me a smooch, planted the Nuk back and then dove for the crib. I'm just tickled to be a part of the routine.

Posted by Jim at 12:18 AM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2006

"New shoes!"

Jack's main footwear during the winter has been either a.) a pair of slippers that I bought for him the same day I got him his Dino hat at Target or b.) a pair of New Balance track shoes that everyone seems to like. When the need has arisen to tromp around in the snow he's got a pair of boots that are a bit big but fine for the short term.

In putting his shoes on him Monday I noticed they were pretty tight. (More proof of a growth spurt on the horizon.) When I took them off that night there were lines on his feet that clinched the need to go find some new footwear.

Tuesday morning I went to Kohl's and browsed the toddler aisle. Refusing to buy something with some sort of licensed property on it I settled on a black pair of shoes that were $7 and a size larger than his current shoes. Just as I was about to leave I spotted another pair. A nice pair of tan Vans.

When I was in high school the shoe of fashion my Senior year was the checkerboard slip on shoes from a "new" company no one had heard of: Vans. 20 years later the company is huge and one of the foremost skateboarding fashion companies in the world. At the time all we could afford were the knock offs. (They were so cheap I had to keep coloring them with a black Marks a Lot to keep the checks from fading.)

Deciding to splurge I bought the Vans for Jack. They were a nice shade of tan that should match just about everything in his wardrobe and with Velcro straps they would give him sense of being able to put his own shoes on. (At least that is what I hope.) When he got home last night I showed him both pairs and asked him if he liked them.

The answer?

Jack snatched the Vans and immediately wanted to put them on. After I got them on Jack's feet he tromped around the house saying "shues!" over and over, pausing every once in a while to bend over and point to his feet.


Jack looking away in disdain when I asked him to pose for the picture.


Jack pointing to his new high fashion footwear.

At night, as I was starting to lay Jack down, he reached out to the shoes like he wanted to take them to bed. I assured him they would be there in the morning and it was with a bit of reluctance that he finally agreed.

If only he'll be the same way with a new pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars I'll be set.

Posted by Jim at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2006

"And here you thought I sounded like Gomer Pyle".

So welcome to a new direction for the website. For your listening enjoyment I present:

The first podcast from The Special Project

This is mostly a chance to get my feet wet and to try to make sure I'm using all of the tools properly. Download it, give it a listen and marvel at details of Robert Louis Stevenson's life you never imagined. Music and other elements that will make things a bit warmer will be in the next one.

If you're interested in the technical details I recorded it at my desk using the Snowball microphone and Audacity software. The only background noise I spotted was the slight whir of the computer fans but hopefully it won't detract too much.

After you've had a chance to give it a listen let me know what you think. After I get the next one finished I'll have the RSS 2.0 feed up and submitted to iTunes.



A problem in uploading caused the file to go wonky towards the end. I am uploading a corrected version so if you were lucky enough to get the wonky version just try it again.

Posted by Jim at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2006

"Like father like son..."

I usually try to avoid this sort of thing but indulge me.

A few years ago the Converse tennis shoe company was in dire straits. The long time U.S. Manufacturer, despite enjoying a steady cycle of being considered "hip" time and time again, was in big trouble. They were facing going out of business until Nike swooped in and bought them.

Before Nike rescued them, and pretty much left them alone afterwards, the shoes were all manufactured in the U.S. by the same people who had been making Chuck Taylor All Star's for generations. I grew up in them and have always had a pair floating around. Typically low cuts were what I had but the high tops got popular (again) when I was in High School and that's what I settled into.

If there's an All American shoe this is it. It's not those technical abominations that require pumps or bridge loans to purchase. It's a pair of shoes that wear out over an active summer and are discarded with the full knowledge that another pair will be purchased in the spring. It's the shoe that you get blisters for the first week or two of heavy use and then you're fine for the rest of your days. It's a shoe that doesn't offer support because, well gosh darn it, you really don't need that do you? (Your dad and your grandfather didn't have support and they turned out fine so quit your complaining.) It's a timeless classic and one of the few items of the last 100 years that deserve to be enshrined in the Smithsonian.

When Converse started to sink I searched around and bought a couple of pairs for the long run. One were a pair of white high tops and the other were a pair of "special" all black high tops. (Black rubber instead of white.) When I'm feeling spry they sneak out of the back of the closet.

This past week, after buying shoes for Jack, I hit eBay with an idea or two. Sure enough a quick bid, a win later and payment sent brought a package on Saturday in the mail.

The result?


Matching shoes.

With my luck he'll end up with feet bigger than mine. lol

Posted by Jim at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

"Short Stack express coming through..."


When Jack shops it's always at full speed. (With Big Bird in tow on this occasion.)

Posted by Jim at 11:34 PM | Comments (0)

"Hi. My name is Jim. Ooooh! Are those nuts?"

Kids under a certain age aren't supposed to be given peanuts. (We don't joke about this because we know someone whose daughter is one of those kids who may die if she ingests one.) As a result there's no idea if Jack's inherited my peanut urges.

I probably could blame the peanut stand in Huntington, West Virginia. It opened in 1924 and is still operating to this day. (What began as Planters Peanut store #109 is now just "The Peanut Shoppe" today.) When my grandparents would go for their big night on the town on Saturday night, dinner at either Jim's or Bailey's, we then used to walk by the peanut store on the way to Nick's newstand and I would stare as a little kid in amazement at the world it offered. Fresh nuts piled high. Equipment well maintained from the first days of the store being open, gleaming glass and waves of heat from the oven. Christmas brought me trinkets from the store in my stocking and eventually I was programmed to occasionally crave peanuts.

Tonight I was standing over a Tupperware bowl filled with salted peanuts in their shells, husking them and nibbling on the nuts like some sort of demented squirrel. After a handful I dropped the hulls in the trash and walked away. It was then how desperate I realized I was and how I needed to just walk away slowly and not look back.


Posted by Jim at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)