Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Well, it wasn't much but we finally got a little bit of snow - enough to take Vermonter Evelyn out for the first time. Here is the report: She doesn't like eating snow, which isn't too surprising since everything we feed her either already comes at body temperature or is heated to do so. She is indifferent to sledding and, as you can see from the photo, isn't all that thrilled with winter wear. Oh well.... maybe next year she will be old enough to make a snowball.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I don't usually post links...

...but this was fun! Create yourself as a character from South Park. (Thanks to Kristin.) This is me:


Monday, January 29, 2007

For Heather

Black and White

If anyone is looking for a gift idea for Clara or Heather, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes  can be found on eBay, brand new, for much less than $100 including shipping.

Glenn, I'm sorry, but I don't have a digital copy of the strip that you mentioned. But, unfortunately, it's not as fanciful as it might sound: The oldies radio station in my area has this for its on-air tagline: "Where you'll never hear a song you haven't heard before." It's actually quite sad, when you think about it.

Oh, and on my way home from work last Friday I stopped by a post office and weighed the set. Twenty-two pounds, though it feels heavier than that.


Friday, January 26, 2007


Judi has given me The Complete Calvin and Hobbes . This is a wonderful gift. I've always been a huge Calvin and Hobbes  fan, and we were in a bookstore a few weeks ago (looking for beagle calendars) when I saw The Complete Calvin and Hobbes  on display. I know my eyes lit up for a moment, and I reached out to touch it, but then I pushed the emotion down and turned away. It was too extravagent. But Judi had noticed that momentary light (and also my turning away), and she bought it for me as a surprise.

This is a three-volume boxed set. The production values are top-of-the-line. In fact, it's so heavy I practically need a hand truck to cart it around. I brought it to work, to show everyone, and my arm went numb from elbow to fingertips just carrying it in from the parking lot. Bill Watterson has written a warm and gentle Introduction, and one of the things you can't help but notice is his passion and pride: "...everything having to do with Calvin and Hobbes  expressed my own ideas, my own values, my own way. I wrote every word, drew every line, and painted every color."

Receiving this collection has caused me to think (for only the 'leventy-billionth time) about what it is about Calvin and Hobbes  that fascinates me. It's way too much to express in this blog, but I can mention a few things that I think make Calvin and Hobbes  so enduring. And endearing. Things that set it apart from most -- or even all -- other comic strips.

To begin with, few comic strips had (or have) the sublime humor and insight of Calvin and Hobbes . Perhaps Bloom County  did. But more than that, what makes Calvin and Hobbes  unique is that if other comic strips can be compared in complexity to a piece of stationary sculpture, then Calvin and Hobbes  is a mobile: Outright contradictions are ever-so-delicately balanced, and drift in every breeze, playing off against one another visually and emotionally: On the one hand the strip is cynical, while on the other hand it's sincere. On the one hand Calvin travels in time and space and builds grotesque snowmen, while on the other hand he's mortified that his father rides a bicycle to work, rather than driving like "normal" dads. And of course there's the most wonderful contradiction of them all: That Hobbes is on the one hand stuffed, while on the other hand living. Reading Calvin and Hobbes  strips is like eating a chopped mixed salad: Every bite is a discovery, a little different from the one before, but at the same time you know you're eating the same dish.

And then Calvin and Hobbes  has a vibrancy of imagination on every level: The level of the imagination of Watterson the creator, the level of the imagination of Calvin the character, and the level of our own imagination. Other comic strips may have one or sometimes even two of these levels, but Calvin and Hobbes  rounds all the bases.

Speaking of imagination, one thing I try to imagine is what Calvin has become as a grown-up. Or rather, since Calvin never ages, who among the grown-ups of today may have been Calvins as children. And I'm not the only one who imagines that the small boy and his tiger live on: Watterson himself, in his Introduction, says, "I like to think that, now that I'm not recording everything they do, Calvin and Hobbes are out there having a much better time." Indeed. Though it makes me feel sorry for his mother and father. I don't feel sorry for Mrs. Wormwood, though.

Thanks, Bill Watterson, for the ten wonderful years. I'm sorry you ended it, but you've explained why, and I can't debate your reasoning. Thanks, Judi, for the wonderful gift. I guess that's what friends are for:



Thursday, January 25, 2007

Freaky Revisited

If what I see is true, there is more snow in Tucson, Arizona this winter than there is in Westminster, Vermont. At least we still have the subzero temperatures.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Well, if you insist

In a recent comment Andrea said she wanted an Evelyn update. Ordinarily that is all it takes to get me going ad nauseam, but in this case I will try to contain myself.

Evelyn is doing just great. She turned 8 months old yesterday. Her tooth count is still at 2 - the 2 bottom front teeth. These came in more than a month ago and we keep waiting for the next ones but they are taking their time.

It won't be long before she starts to crawl. In the past week she has taken to getting up on all fours (used to be she would get up on all fives with her head being the fifth limb that she used for balance) and rock back and forth. Where do they get that from? It isn't as if Linda and I go crawling around the house and she is imitating us. Anyway, I hear the rocking is the step just before crawling, and she does seem to get the moving her knees forward motion down, but hasn't coordinated it with the moving her hands forward motion. Anyway, two days ago she managed to go from her back onto her tummy to up on all fours to leaning back until she was sitting upright! The first time she had ever sat up on her own!!! We were much more excited than she was.

In all she is a happy healthy baby who laughs a lot and whose favorite game is peek-a-boo. She is up to two meals a day of mush, in addition to a snack of mashed banana just before bedtime. The goal of this latter is to try to get her sleep a little more regulated. Unfortunately she pretty much stays up to about 11 and then gets up about every hour and a half to two hours until 3AM. After that she is pretty good until about 8AM or so. Her sleep pattern is getting pretty tiring for Mom and Dad, but the rest of the experience is just a joy. We took her contradancing twice in the last month and both times I did my dances with her strapped into the front pack. She loved the motion and didn't even get sick on anybody. Always a good thing!


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

When All Else Fails....

My bro, in a post of several months ago, began by saying 'When all else fails talk about the weather'. Alas, such is the case up in Vermont these days unless you really want to hear more about how cute Evelyn is, or how she can and does get into the ready to crawl position several times an hour. But I digress.

We were in Brattleboro the other day and overheard someone calling our weather this winter 'freaky'. I hate to admit it, but there is no other way to describe 60 degree weather in January in Vermont. We all thought it was summer, only without the mosquitos. The warm weather was nice through December but now it is just strange. Thankfully the temps now have dropped to a respectable 15 degrees and thanks to a recent storm everything is covered with a beautiful sheet of ice, which isn't as nice as snow but this year it will have to do. Actually, few things are a pretty as the sun shining on a tree when every branch and twig is covered with a quarter inch of ice. Few things except Evelyn that is.


Monday, January 15, 2007

If you digress from a digression... that a trigression?


Friday, January 12, 2007

The End of Days

My policy is to not post about politics, but this isn't a political post. It's a historical one, or at least, one noting a historic moment: The beginning of the End of Days. No, it's not the Biblical Apocalypse, but it's an Apocalypse of sorts nonetheless.

As you know, Bush gave a speech the evening before last, trying to sell the public on the idea of escalating the war in Iraq. His proposal flies in the face of what a majority of Americans want, what the Congress (including many Republicans) wants, what most military officers want, what the Iraq Study Group wants, and even perhaps what most Iraqis want. Yesterday I followed the news of the aftermath of his speech, and it seemed that he hadn't changed any minds. On the contrary, the American mood seemed to be one of despair -- that we are being led by someone who is reckless and completely removed from any sense of reality.

But it was yesterday evening, as I was driving home from work, that the true import of this day was revealed to me: At the corner of a major intersection here -- the location of our largest shopping mall -- I saw a crowd of people. People with signs. "What are they doing?" I thought. "What can this be?" And then I read their signs.

It was an anti-war demonstration.

You may be saying, so what? Big deal! Well, it is  a big deal. Because this isn't, like, Berkley, or Vermont. Brevard County, where I live, is very, very conservative, and very Republican. Our Representative is Dave Weldon, one of the most radical, foaming-at-the-mouth, extreme conservative Republicans in Congress. This county voted overwhelming for Bush both chances it got.

The traffic light stopped me at the intersection, and I had time to watch the demonstrators waving their signs. This morning the newspaper said there may have been as many as a hundred of them. The constant traffic in the intersection raised a constant chorus of horn-honks of support. An anti-war demonstration, here , in Brevard County.... It felt... out of sorts. Like this shouldn't be happening. Like something was a little fractured. Like a window had opened a slit and we were looking through space and time to somewhere else. Like we were slip-sliding off the face of the Earth. And then I realized what it was really  like:

It was like the End of Days. It was the ripping apart of social fabric that will signal the beginning of Apocalypse. Now don't get me wrong: Jesus isn't returning. It's not the end of the world. But it's the end of something, in an epic way.

And I say, it can't happen too soon.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Measure of Love

I have to confess that this is a repost of a comment that I left on another blog. But I wanted to post something to get the taste of the mail-order bride post out of my mouth, and this was the story to do it. And, hey, as an extra bonus, it was already written. Sorry, T and W.

This is a true story. It happened the final time that Judi and I ate at Wolfie's, the wonderful delicatessen that was in Miami Beach for almost fifty years. It was a melancholy meal to begin with, because it was the last day the restaurant was to be open. It was in 2002, and the man who had started it and run it had just died, and his sons had sold the place out so it could be flattened and a high-rise condo could be built on the spot. But at the table next to us they seated a very elderly woman and man. The man clearly had Alzheimers. Just as clearly, they had been there many, many times. The waitress didn't even offer them menus.

"I want spaghetti," the old man told the waitress.

"Honey," said the old woman gently, "you don't like spaghetti."

"I want spaghetti," the old man said, petulantly.

"Bring him spaghetti," the old woman said to the waitress, "and meatloaf. I'll have soup."

"I don't like meatloaf!" the old man said as the waitress left.

"I ordered you spaghetti," the old woman said soothingly.

"Good!" said the old man.

Wolfie's was a New York-style deli, with the pickles and cole slaw on every table.

"I want a pickle," said the old man.

"Honey," said the woman, "you don't like pickles."

"I want a pickle!"

The old woman handed him a pickle. He took a bite, made a face, and dropped the pickle bite out of his mouth. The old woman was ready with a napkin and caught it.

"That's awful!" he said.

"You don't like pickles," she said quietly, taking the rest of it from his hand.

Their food arrived. The waitress put the soup in front of the woman, the spaghetti in front of the man, and the meatloaf on the other side of the table. The old woman watched expectantly. The old man took some spaghetti on his fork, and, trailing strands behind, lifted it to his mouth. He put the fork in his mouth, then made a face and spit the spaghetti back onto his plate.

"This is awful!"

"You don't like spaghetti," said the old woman gently, and she switched plates with the meatloaf. "Try this."

"I don't like meatloaf."

"Here, just try a bite," she said, and she fed him a bite. He chewed.

"This is pretty good!"

"Meatloaf is your favorite."

The old man picked up his fork and dug in. The old woman ate her soup, but she watched him constantly and cleaned up -- usually anticipated -- little accidents that he kept having.

Judi and I watched without saying a word. After they left, Judi said to me, "She was so gentle and patient! And who knows how many years he's been like that, and how many more he may be?"

And all I could say was, "She must love him very much."

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Love's Labours Lost

This site,, is the home page of a "detective agency" of sorts that provides background checks and other identity verification services for men who are interested in Russian mail-order brides. Let me state that I am not in the market for a Russian bride. I came across it serendipitously, from a random ad that appeared when I was in Gmail. I swear. Anyway, the site starts by warning prospective clients that many Russian "brides" are in fact men, and has a funny picture of what you (the seeker of a Russian bride) might be getting yourself in for. I tell you, it's something to see.

The range of services that these detectives offer is quite extensive: For as little as $24 you can get a telephone "scam consultation." If your prospective darling has sent you a copy of her passport, the Russian Paul Drakes will verify its authenticity for $60. If you've received a photo and an address from your bride-to-be, the detectives will validate them for $107. For $66 they will deliver your loved one a rose and, in the process, snap a surreptitious photo which they will send to you (honestly, that struck me as being a little past the pale). And, for a mere $295, the gumshoes will rat out any existing boyfriends, children, or scummy family members that your blushing beauty may have forgotten to mention to you.

It took me a few minutes, but I guess I resigned myself to the fact that if we have a need for foreign mail-order brides (if ), then we have a need for a service like this, given that the industry is permeated with fraud. But then I went on to read that this very  Russian detective agency runs its own marriage-for-sale agency at Which got me to wondering... will the detectives tell you that your prospective bride from a competing agency is a con artist, just to steer you to their own agency instead? How can you trust them? And how will you know if their  prospective bride, that they set you up with, isn't a con artist? Who will you hire to investigate her? Who detects the detectives?

My head started to swim. I could see that once love is infected by suspicion it spreads like flesh-eating disease until there's nothing left but rot and decay. Every Russian mail-order bride is, for me, forevermore, tainted by the scent of the underarms of that guy pictured in the wedding gown on the detectives' web page.


Whatever happened to the neighborhood matchmakers of our youth? Would it be "so nice to have you back where you belong," Dolly?

I think I'm just going to stop clicking on Google ads.


Monday, January 01, 2007

The Holidays

Happy New Year! So far the new year has treated me well, except for the fact that I was called into work at about 11am. Oh well....

Evelyn's first Christmas went just great! As can be expected, she was much more intersted in the gift wrap than the presents (toys, a christmas ornament, books and clothes) and we tried in vain to tell her that wrapping paper is not a chew toy.

Linda was pretty disappointed. This was her first Christmas in Vermont and we were hoping for snow, but alas the first snow that stayed didn't come until the 28th, so we had a green holiday up this way.

Not to sound too disgusting, but our new year was marked by mucous instead of confetti. Poor Evelyn has a pretty bad cold & a runny nose, so we took turns holding her last night. Poor thing didn't feel uncongested enough to lie down until about 3am and she is still cranky today.

Happy holidays to all!


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