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Monday, January 31, 2005


Old Friends

There's a line in the 1986 movie Stand By Me about "never having friends like the ones you have when you're young."

This came to mind recently while I was going through old photos and found the one above from 1972. My first best friend was Robbie Johnson. He lived across the street from me when I was six, and we were best buds until my family moved to another town when I was eight. Through the years I'd see him every now and then. The last time was when he was pitching a baseball game for UC Irvine, where he'd procured an athletic scholarship.

Seeing this photo made me remember the simplicity of those times, at least to an eight-year-old. It was the late 60's, we didn't know there was a war, and protesters, and hippies. Our lives revolved around kickball, Big Wheels, and "Winky Dink and You." We built forts, climbed trees, and roamed the neighborhood safe in the knowledge that in almost every home was a mother who could keep an eye on us from her kitchen window. Life was pretty good back then.

My favorite memory is of Robbie's garage. His father worked for an ice cream company and he made sure that the fridge in their garage was packed full of push-ups, ice cream cups, fudgesicles, and rainbow popsicles. That's probably where I developed my love of ice cream which, unfortunately, plagues me to this day.

This photo is the only one I have of Robbie. I'm in the middle. Another friend, Bret Plumlee, is on his Big Wheel. This picture is bittersweet. It's a souvenir of a simpler time, of friendship, and of childhood fun. But the picture was taken on the very day of my family's move from the neighborhood, so it represents the end of that friendship. And an end to those simple times, which are now gone forever. My own kids don't have the freedom to roam like I did. Their playtime is organized and supervised. The backyard is their domain, while the frontyard is off limits. We're suspicious of our neighbors because the media has filled our heads with images of unlocked guns, child molesters, meth labs, and irresponsible parents.

My kids may not have the freedom I once did, but I hope they can find at least one or two "friends like the ones you have when you're young."

If you're out there somewhere, Robbie, thanks for the memories!

Friday, January 28, 2005


Death in the Dishwasher

I recently read about how dangerous a dishwasher can be... Did you know that you can easily get severe steam burns if you open the machine while it's running? But what really surprised me was that people have died after slipping and falling onto knives in their dishwasher.

Who loads knives blade up in a dishwasher?! Probably not the same person who has to unload it.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Out and About in the Seattle Area

Here's a great list of things to do around the Puget Sound during the winter (that don't involve snow). If your kids have a case of cabin fever, then this is the perfect remedy. No reason to stay cooped up!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Meet The Bad Parents

"I hope people aren't watching sitcoms and dramas as models for how to behave, the same way I hope doctors aren't watching 'ER' to learn how to do emergency surgery." - Robert Thompson

Meet the bad TV parents.

Friday, January 21, 2005


Letterman Quote

You know you're a parent when you laugh at something like this... Tonight on his show, David Letterman was showing off a racing trophy and said, "This trophy will either occupy a place of honor in my home, or will be destroyed by my son."

I remember thinking that if we just put the valuables up high, they'd be safe. Then we moved them higher. And then we put them into drawers and cabinets. Finally we wised up and packed them all away in boxes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


The Best New Upright Vacuums

In my house there are certain essential appliances that I could not face the day without. Those include the dishwasher, washer/dryer, and refrigerator. And on certain days of the week, the most beloved appliance in the house is the vacuum.

Last fall, Good Housekeeping magazine tested eleven of the newest upright vacuums. Click here to read the details.

Or, read my handy-dandy "Just The Facts" summary:

Best Overall: Hoover's Savvy U8145-900
Best Warranty: Dirt Devil Cruiser 091700
Best Value: Eureka Boss 5855
Best Lightweight: Panasonic's True Trak MC-V7582
Best Vacuum with a Disposable Bag: Sears Kenmore Progressive Direct Drive 33923

Robot vacuums don't deep-clean very well, and some are too bulky to fit under chairs and couches.

The expensive Dyson and Oreck vacuums did not suck up debris nearly as well as most of the other vacuums.

That's it. Happy vacuuming!

Sunday, January 16, 2005


The New Dad

Here's a nice article from the Boston Globe about the new generation of fathers who expect more out of life than just a career.

I picked out a few quotes from the article:

The Good:

Even at a time when men are working as hard as ever, much has been made of the emergence of the new nurturing father. Around the time that Dustin Hoffman asked in the 1979 movie Kramer vs. Kramer, "What law is it that says a woman is a better parent simply by virtue of her sex?" sociologists were hailing a new era. Study after study shows that today's men refuse to be stick figures in their children's lives.

The Bad:

A number of men I interviewed declined to have their full names used, fearful they would be perceived by their bosses as weak in their commitment to work if they were quoted about their devotion to family.

The Ugly:

In Britain, researchers interviewed dozens of fathers in 2002, finding the traditional role has been replaced by a collection of new father personalities. The Enforcer Dad, a dying breed, is the strict disciplinarian; the Entertainer Dad is the family clown who distracts his kids while the mother attends to household tasks; the Useful Dad pitches in, though rarely takes the initiative; and the Fully Involved Dad jumps into domestic matters equally with his wife. Beyond these labels, there is another: Exhausted Dad.

You can call me Everything Dad, because on any given day I'm all those things: Useful, Entertaining, Involved, Enforcing, and, at the end of the day, Exhausted. Why do you think my blog posts are so short?

Friday, January 14, 2005


Counting Sheep

My 6-year-old son had trouble falling asleep last week, so we told him to try counting sheep. Last night, he was restless at bedtime again, so we reminded him about the sheep. His reply:

"I tried counting sheep, but my mind went out of control and the sheep were jumping all over the bed. I was drowning in sheep!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Snack Food Ads

Kraft To Curb Some Snack Food Advertising... And parents everywhere breathe a small sigh of relief.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Waiting For Star Wars

I did this when I was 18. Well, not really. Sort of. Actually, I waited for three hours to see Return of the Jedi in 1983... First showing, first day of release.

My son has talked about little else but the new Star Wars movie, "Revenge of the Sith," since I told him it was coming out in May. But there's no way we're waiting more than 30 minutes to see it.


One Pound Down

First week of my diet, and I lost a pound. Not bad, considering I had a little trouble on Saturday resisting a slice or two of pizza. Not to mention that big plate of chicken scampi I devoured at Olive Garden (and who's going to say no to their bread sticks?). But I was successful in avoiding sugar soda, potatoes, fruit, and desserts of any kind. Must develop a little more discipline with the exercise. The kids are amused.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


I Want To Hold Your Hand

Back when I was single, I think I washed my hands once a day. Then I got married and probably washed my hands twice a day.

Then along came the kids. And diapers. And cleaning oatmeal and orange juice off the chair and table. So now I wash my hands fifty times a day.

Which has left my hands rather dry, and raw, and cracking. My kids think I'm wearing sandpaper gloves. Several of the creams and lotions I've tried leave my hands greasy but don't seem to help heal the dry skin. If anyone out there has any tried and true products or remedies, please let me know. Thanks!

Friday, January 07, 2005


Top 10 Family Films of 2004

The Catholic News Service picks The Ten Best Family Films of 2004:
    Ella Enchanted
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    I Am David
    The Incredibles
    Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
    The Polar Express
    Shrek 2
    The SpongeBob Square Pants Movie
    Two Brothers

I've actually seen three of these (Shrek 2, The Incredibles, and Polar Express) with my kids and enjoyed them immensely.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Another Blogger On A Diet

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I ate right along with her when she had cravings for oranges, Big Macs, and Twinkies. I packed on 20 pounds during those nine months. Then, when she was pregnant with our second child, I packed on another 10 pounds. Now it's time to get rid of this extra weight. I came to that realization when I couldn't keep up with my kids during a rousing game of "Daddy Monster."

My diet started yesterday and relies upon much of the South Beach Diet. I've also added some common sense touches of my own. Here's my two-month plan:

  • Eliminate pasta, potatoes, fruit, bread, and most sugar.
  • No more regular pop, only diet.
  • No food after 8pm at night.
  • Drink at least 32 ounces of water each day.
  • Minimum of a 15-minute walk each day.
  • Eggs and Canadian Bacon for breakfast.
  • Wraps or salads for lunch.
  • Regular dinner of meat and veggies.

The most difficult part of this for me is the pop... I'll have a 12 oz bottle of Coke each mid-day to wake me up (I'm not a coffee drinker). Diet Coke just doesn't do it for me. Another hard thing to do is go without my favorite foods of pizza, spaghetti and lasagne. I'll still fix these meals for the rest of the family, but will have to sit and watch them eat it while I nibble on my pork chop.

If you want to follow along with my progress, I'll check in once a week with a report. I start the day at 230 pounds. If I can drop 15 pounds in two months, then I will continue the diet on a modified basis... After two months I will add in fruit and occasional meals of pasta. From everything I've heard and read, the key to any diet is the exercise. If I can drop the weight, I feel that I can maintain it on a "normal" diet as long as I keep exercising.

Monday, January 03, 2005


Children's Records Treasure Trove

All through 2005, Kiddie Records Weekly will be featuring stories and songs from the golden age of children's records, a period which ran from the mid 1940s into the early 1950s. This era produced a wealth of classics, headed by Capitol's Record-Readers and the RCA Victor Little Nipper series.

Each one of these recordings has been carefully transferred from the original 78s (plus a few 45s) and encoded to MP3 format for you to download and enjoy. A new story will be made available each week. This is going to make my kids very happy on the next long car ride!

Sunday, January 02, 2005


A Global Cookbook

Matt Burris of the Good Blimey! blog has created a community-contributed recipe database called Wikipes. I like the simple, easy-to-navigate layout. Now they just need people to send in their favorite recipes. I've got a few laying around here somewhere...

Saturday, January 01, 2005


The Best Sled?

If we ever get enough snow on the ground, my kids and I will be out at the city golf course sledding down the medium-sized hills there. Here is a fun, and informative, review of the different kinds of sleds you can buy. I was surprised by the author's choice for best sled (no, it's not a garbage bag).


American-Made Christmas

A family in Illinois tried to have a Christmas without gifts made in China. Not as easy as it sounds.