Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, January 31, 2003 10:47 pm

His own man

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 10:47 pm

‘morning, buddy!

Hi!

Are you Daddy’s boy?

No!

Hmm. Well, are you Mommy’s boy?

No!

OK. Are you Sissy’s boy?

No!

Are you Granny’s boy?

No!

Well, Daddy’s stumped, then. Whose boy are you?

I’m ME boy!

Party of the Year

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:37 pm

If I were 20 years younger and single, I’d so be trying to crash this. (Note that a number of proposed participants are listed in my blogroll.) As it is, I think HBO should make it an episode of “America Undercover” — I bet it’d draw more viewers than “The Sopranos.” I hope it happens, and I hope they have a blast.

Monday, January 27, 2003 10:56 pm

“It is time …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:56 pm

… for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything.”

The forthcoming fifth book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as imagined by Rob Carr of UnSpace

More on Warren Zevon

Filed under: Sad,Salute! — Lex @ 10:36 pm

Even The New York Times is getting into the act, so to speak [free reg. req.].

On the one hand, I am just stunned at how well he’s handling this. On the other hand, I guess if you think you should’ve died about 1976 and you’re still around more than a quarter-century later, you probably figure you’ve gotten the better end of the deal no matter how it turns out.

Things change

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 10:33 pm

Well, Victoria’s wedding is off:

Daddy, Alex doesn’t want to marry me anymore.

Really, sweetie? Who does he want to marry?

Henry [a classmate of theirs].

No kidding. Did he say why?

No.

Well, that’s OK, sweetie. You said he’d marry him if he didn’t be silly, remember? Now he and Henry can both be silly together.

Yeah. … Can boys get married?

You mean to each other?

Yeah.

No, it’s against the law. Boys can’t marry boys and girls can’t marry girls. Except that they sort of can in the state of Vermont.

Why not?

Well, a lot of religions, including ours, say that it’s wrong for boys to marry boys or girls to marry girls. They say boys can only marry girls and girls can only marry boys.

That’s not very nice.

Goodnight, sweetie.

Goodnight, Daddy.

Thursday, January 23, 2003 10:24 pm

Guess the snow was a hit

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 10:24 pm

Granny (singing): Snow, snow, go away …

Hooper (indignantly): No, Ganny! NO! STOP!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2003 10:13 pm

And another thing …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:13 pm

Not that I would ever resort to cheap gimmicks like using suggestive words to drive up my search-engine visitor traffic, but I would be remiss if I did not point out that this year’s Super Bowl between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders is likely to feature some hot pirate-on-pirate action, as the pornographers might say. And where there are pirates, there is sodomy. But I would only mention that on an academic basis and not because I was trying to drive up my visitor numbers or anything. Really.

Microsuck, or, Why I Am Not An Early Acquirer

Filed under: There but for the grace of God ... — Lex @ 8:50 pm

I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but it seems my recent tirade about Microsoft’s not providing support for its own products anymore has attracted at least one Microsoft defender — who then goes on to chide me for owning such an outmoded computer.

Now, in all fairness to Alex, we’ve exchanged views on a number of occasions with respect to both politics and computers, and although we inhabit different worlds — he works in tech support; I place less stock in “tech support” than I do in the Easter Bunny — he has never been less than courteous. But he makes a couple of points I think need to be addressed:

Most people who are still using Windows 98 are quite obviously not too concerned about being up-to-date and Microsoft’s support for Windows 98 has never been too great. In fact, the only way I see this being a problem for 98 users is when it comes time to upgrade their computers. New hardware will undoubtedly not be registered with 98 and drivers will not be available.

My point is not that I am so wedded to Win98 that I want to keep it even if I get a newer, faster computer. My point is that the computer I’ve got right now does what I need it to do while running Win98, so why should I want to upgrade my OS before I’m ready to upgrade my hardware? As a consumer I just think it’s reasonable that Microsoft provide at least security upgrades for Win98 as long as it remains in wide use, however “wide use” is defined.

Dr. R. Alex’s diagnosis is to get out of the stone-age (200MHz Lex? [shakes head]) and upgrade. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t feel safe working on a machine that old. At least be sure to back up all your information if you are.

I back up as much as is possible, feasible and practical, which is what I’ve always done. But “get out of the Stone Age”? Dude, that’s harsh, and it leads me to my original rant point, from which I somehow got temporarily sidetracked. As I pointed out in the comments, my wife and I have a number of financial commitments — our kids’ day care, the mortgage, her MBA program, pets — that compete with computers for funding. Moreover, we’re journalists. We don’t work in tech support, which means we damn sure don’t get paid like we work in tech support. And even if, as Alex pointed out in his comments, a decent upgrade were available for $300, most of the time I just don’t have the $300 to spend.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining about lacking the money. I chose this career with my eyes wide open on that point. I am, however, complaining about the tendency of techies — not necessarily Alex, mind you, but a lot of techies, particularly younger, single, unattached ones who get a new scream machine every year at work because their employer needs them to have one to do what they do — to presume that everyone ought to get a faster computer every year or two whether they need one or not and that the only reason I haven’t laid out $300 for a faster computer is because I don’t want to.

As I pointed out in Alex’s comments section, our cat’s recent veterinary adventure cost more than a new Dell (which is to say, way more than $300). Now, what were my options? Let the cat die in front of my 4-year-old daughter? Let the cat die out of her sight but tell her he had been sent away to live on a farm? Being the daddy means making tough choices sometimes, and I went into that with my eyes wide open, too, but one choice I am not going to be making anytime soon is to let the cat die so that Daddy can get a new computer. I can be a cold SOB sometimes, as the people who work for me have told me repeatedly, but I am not that cold.

And we’re relatively well off. There’s a helluva lot of people out there in worse shape financially than we, and when some of them are at the public library surfing the Web because they can’t afford a computer at any price and they read what some of these techies have to say, I imagine they get even more incensed than I do.

So don’t presume you can infer people’s motives and desires by observing their choices. Sometimes they have nothing to do with one another.

Peace. Out.

Monday, January 20, 2003 5:16 pm

Journal of the plague weekend

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 5:16 pm

Ever since Victoria was born, I’ve always kind of wondered what would happen if, when I got a bad cold, I actually went to bed for a couple of days rather than worked through it, the way I usually do.

Now I know.

I slept about 14 hours Sunday, and after sleeping ’til 8:30 this morning, I went back to bed about 11:30 and stayed asleep until about 3. When I woke up, I felt a little more human, anyway — still congested and all, and groggy, but at least able to stand up and walk around without feeling like I was going to faint.

That settles it. I’m never going to bed with a cold again.

Saturday, January 18, 2003 10:44 am

Ladies and gentlemen, the Evil Genius has left the house

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 10:44 am

The Carolina Panthers went from among the league’s worst defenses in 2001 to among the best in 2002. There are a lot of reasons for that — MLB Dan Morgan matured, Julius Peppers made an immediate contribution at left defensive end and made his line mates even more effective as a result — but one of the biggest reasons had to be the new defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio.

But when you’re an offensive or defensive coordinator — particularly the latter — who makes a splash like that, you immediately get on the short list to replace whichever head coaches have gotten fired. And so Del Rio has been named head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who fired Tom Coughlin.

This is not good news for the Panthers. The defense still has some holes, particularly in the secondary, and without an Evil Genius of Del Rio’s caliber to find ways to compensate, opponents will exploit those holes. And there just aren’t many defensive coordinators out there of his caliber … or in-house, for that matter. Perhaps the best in-house candidate is linebackers’ coach Sam Mills, who ran the Panthers’ defense on-field as an inside linebacker in ’95-’97. But I question whether he’s ready to step into Del Rio’s shoes.

And somebody has to. This team still has a huge number of problems on offense, so for it to win games, it must play nearly perfect defense. And that doesn’t happen just on the field anymore; it takes a guy up in the booth, too.

Friday, January 17, 2003 5:13 pm

More light-bulb jokes …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 5:13 pm

… of a slightly different political stripe can be found here, courtesy of Amish Tech Support.

Count your blessings

Filed under: There but for the grace of God ... — Lex @ 12:21 pm

We here in North Carolina have our share of problems, yes we do. But one thing all 8 million of us need to do right now is get down on our knees and thank God we don’t live in Texas.

Thursday, January 16, 2003 2:58 pm

“How many –” “LIAR!”

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 2:58 pm

If you’re in the mood for a joke, Ted Barlow’s Cavalcade of Whimsy is offering a whole slew of politically oriented light-bulb jokes today. There’s something here to amuse or offend everyone. I can’t give you just one permalink, unfortunately, because each joke has its own link (and, hey, its own comments section!), so just go here and look for the January 16 entries.

Already got a Savior, thanks

Filed under: Geek-related issues — Lex @ 2:14 pm

As a computer consumer, I put up with Microsoft because I kind of have to; as a former neighbor of mine who’s also a software developer once said, it’s not good business to bet against Bill. But that doesn’t mean I have to like MS, and here’s yet another reason why: The company will end technical support for Windows 98 (which I run at home) and NT4 (which a few of our office machines still run, I think) on June 30.

ABC’s Web site casts this news accordingly: “Microsoft to the Rescue: The End of Support for Older Windows Versions Could Spur PC Upgrades.” (Or, as the page in question says in its header, “Microsoft Bails Out the PC Market.”

This just annoys the bejeebers outta me. I’m currently running a used PII 200MHz HP at home, and it’s perfectly satisfactory for what I do there: spreadsheets, word processing, e-mail, blogging, Web surfing, a few educational CD-ROMs for the kids. If I had the time to rip ‘n’ burn music, I might need or want an upgrade, but I don’t, so I’d be just as happy to keep this machine pretty much as is for at least the next couple of years. This might or might not be an option, however. True, the lack of tech support doesn’t mean per se that my computer is no longer useful. But lack of tech support also means a lack of patches and upgrades, which would be particularly worrisome in the area of security, something at which Microsoft does not excel to begin with.

ABC decides this is good news for business –which, you can argue, it certainly is if it means lots of people will be out buying new computers. Indeed, an analyst quoted in the article suggests that 17 percent of home PC users will be replacing their now-outdated machines by June 30. But that’s only good news for some businesses. The same analyst estimates there are 150 million users of older versions of Microsoft’s Office software package that won’t run well with newer versions of Windows … and would thus have to be upgraded as well. And Office, kids, is not cheap.

Moreover, the decision, although consistent with Microsoft’s past behavior, is freakin’ lousy news for consumers like me: Why should I be forced to buy a new computer (and new, more intrusive operating system) I neither need nor want?

And cuz I’m all about the journalism, a journalism-related question: Why doesn’t ABC at least acknowledge that there are winners and losers in this scenario?

And — last question, I promise — would this be happening if Microsoft had serious competition in the OS market?

Ruth, or, Installment 8: Harry Potter and the Goblets of Desire*

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 1:31 pm

Ever wonder what kind of hype there would be, Amish Tech Support asks, if the Bible were being written today one book at a time?

“[God] has written a brilliant and utterly compelling new adventure,” said Bloomsbury Chief Executive Nigel Newton and Scholastic President Barbara Marcus in a joint statement. …The Palestinian Book of the Month Club has already set records for pre-orders of the book. “If we buy them all, we can burn them and claim the land for our own,” said a spokesperson.

*On second thought, that’s not Ruth, that’s Song of Solomon. Oh, well.

Stupid parent tricks

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 11:11 am

Here, sweetie, let me put a couple of pillows under your head so you can sleep better.

How will that make me sleep better?

It might keep you from coughing so much.

Why am I coughing?

Because you have congestion in your sinuses, and some of it is running down the back of your throat while you sleep and making you cough.

How is it getting down the back of my throat?

Because there’s kind of a tunnel from the back of your nose back down to your throat, and that’s where the goop goes. In fact, I could run a string into your nose and back through that tunnel into your throat and then back out of your mouth.

Really? Or are you kidding?

Really.

Can you do it now? Please, Daddy? PleasepleasePLEASE?

Uh, no, sweetie. When I said I could do it, I meant a doctor could do it. If he needed to. Which he probably wouldn’t.

Oh. (pause) Hmph. OK, well, goodnight, Daddy.

Goodnight, sweetie.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:37 pm

High standards

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 10:37 pm

The San Francisco 49ers fired head coach Steve Mariucci today despite a 10-6 record and the team’s fourth trip to the playoffs in his six years, apparently because owners felt the team should have returned to the Super Bowl by now.

Man. If the standard is you get fired after six years without a trip to the Super Bowl, shouldn’t the Carolina Panthers fire … everybody?

The lord of discipline

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 4:35 pm

Sweetie, let’s talk.

OK.

Now, Hooper put his finger in your mouth, right?

Yeah.

And then you bit him, right?

(…)

Sweetie?

Yeah.

You bit him, right?

Yeah. But it was an accident!

No, it wasn’t an accident, was it?

No.

So you not only bit your brother, you also lied to Daddy and Memie, didn’t you?

Yes.

OK. Now let’s think about this. Let’s rewind. When Hooper put his finger into your mouth, what could you have done differently?

I don’t know.

Could you have moved his finger out of your mouth?

Yeah …

Could you have asked him not to put his finger in your mouth?

Yeah …

Is there anything else you could’ve done?

(shrug)

OK, so the next time he sticks his finger in your mouth, you have two choices. What are they?

I can move his finger.

Yes.

Or I can tell him not to put his finger in my mouth.

Yes. Or you can do both.

Yes.

Now, do you understand what you did wrong?

I shouldn’t have bited him.

That’s right. You hurt him. But you know what’s even worse, sweetie? You scared him. You’re one of the three people he loves more than anyone else in the world. He adores you. And you hurt him on purpose. Can you imagine how scared he must’ve been? That’s why he was crying for so long — it wasn’t just because of the bite. It probably never occurred to him before that one of us could hurt him on purpose. How do you think he felt?

( … lower lip trembles … )

So, sweetie, promise you’ll never do that again?

I promise.

Shake on it?

OK.

Now, you also lied to Daddy, didn’t you?

Yes.

Sweetie, lying is very bad. If you lie, that means we can’t trust you.

So?

Well, let me tell you a story about what happens when you don’t tell the truth. (Daddy embarks on the story of the boy who cried wolf, but as he approaches the end of the tale he realizes that saying the wolf ate the boy up might induce nightmares, and so he concludes … )
… and the wolf really was there, but everybody figured he was lying again so no one came to help him.

Did the wolf bite him?

Uh, yeah.

Did he die?

(In for a penny, in for a pound.) Yep. The wolf ate him right up and he died.

Was that real or just pretend?

(Sigh. Busted.) Just pretend. But, sweetie, you see my point. If you don’t tell the truth, people won’t believe you. OK?

OK.

So. What do you think should happen because you told a lie?

Lose TV for … um, nine days.

OK.

No, seven days.

Uh, no, nine it is.

DADDY!

OK, seven.

Thank you, Daddy.

You’re welcome, sweetie.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003 10:22 am

Not even 9 a.m. and the day’s already a success

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 10:22 am

On the way to day care this morning, we got passed by a fire truck (in nonemergency mode) and by two school buses. So as far as Hooper is concerned, he may as well go back home to bed because it just doesn’t get any better.

UPDATE: Except that it does: On the way home he spotted not one but TWO cement mixers. I’m amazed the boy ever went to sleep after that.

Monday, January 13, 2003 4:27 pm

Stand back, people! This is Professional Comedy!

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 4:27 pm

Actually, I don’t know the first thing about professional comedy. Amateur comedy, either, for that matter. However, A Girl Named Bob did our research for us and offers these tips for writing monologues:

  • Say “vagina” a lot. This word has the power to make people giggle.
  • Talk about how your girlfriend/boyfriend dumped you.
  • Mention how often you masturbate.
  • Vagina.

OK, moving on …

Friday, January 10, 2003 4:16 pm

Who knew?

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 4:16 pm

Apparently there are people called Kalabarians who can tell you what your name means. Here’s what they had to say about “Lex”:

The name Lex gives you a strongly independent and highly creative nature, with drive and ambition to have experiences and accomplish things out of the ordinary. You can work intently at whatever is new and holds your interest at the moment, but your interest wanes quickly when drudgery and monotony set in. Obstacles to your progress or restrictions on your freedom to act create a sense of frustration which may cause you to feel resentful and even rebellious. You can then become intolerant of others, and caustic and belittling in your expression, thereby imposing stress on your personal relationships. Although you have a clever, quick, capable mind, your progress in life is restricted by instability in your affairs and misunderstandings with people. Your impulsive nature can lead to actions which you later regret taking, or to accidents. Relaxation is elusive, and depletion due to nervous tension can develop to the point where you become subject to moods of depression and morbid thoughts. Nervous tension centres in the solar plexus, with nervous indigestion and stomach ulcers a possible result.

Damn. Dead-bang right.

Weird science

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 3:46 pm

While snagging a snack from the machine a few moments ago, I noticed that one of my options was a package of Hostess Ding Dongs, which, for those of you who have never watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown” or whatever its called, is a tubelike cake stuffed with creme filling.

And maybe because it’s Friday, I was seized by a sudden desire to buy some Ding Dongs and start putting them into the newsroom microwave and check to see how many minutes you have to microwave a Ding Dong before it explodes.

But I didn’t. I just bought a pack of M&Ms and came back to my desk, which is just one more sign that despite my best efforts, I’m irrevocably morphing into a grownup.

Sigh.

Place this

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 3:38 pm

TV and movie producers have been putting “product placement” into their shows for years — visuals or dialogue that refer to a particular product, in return for which the maker of that product pays the producers some money. I don’t know if it’s the most egregious example, but the one that has stuck in my mind was in “Back to the Future,” when Michael J. Fox, returned to 1955, asks a soda jerk for a “Pepsi Free” (for younger readers, a low-calorie variation of Pepsi that, I think, died a quick and, IMHO, deserved death soon after its introduction), to which the soda jerk says something to the effect of, no, he has to pay for it.

Now that TiVo and the cue/review buttons on VCRs have made it possible to avoid sitting through TV commercials, TV producers and advertisers are hatching a new plot: a commercial-free variety show with references to the product integrated into the show.

Amish Tech Support has written a speculative script. Now, granted, it’s R-rated, but if I ran a network I’d be totally producing this puppy and putting it on the air.

Thursday, January 9, 2003 5:00 pm

Beer is good …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 5:00 pm

… and here’s Ph8 to tell you why.

Wednesday, January 8, 2003 5:06 pm

Let’s keep things in perspective, shall we?

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 5:06 pm

I’ve liked John Cusack and enjoyed his work ever since seeing “The Sure Thing” in 1985. But I don’t like him quite this much.

Naming names

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 4:14 pm

OK, one tiny postscript to the holidays: Hooper has gotten very good at naming the names of relatives, even those he doesn’t see all that often. But there was one glaring exception: Ann’s sister Kaye, whom Hooper insisted on addressing as “Miss.”

This appeared to derive from the fact that Kaye was the one placing food in front of Hooper more than anyone else, but the question arose: Where did he learn to address waitresses as “Miss?” (I call ‘em “ma’am.”) After some discussion, we figured that he had learned it from watching big sister playing waitress, during which she addresses imaginary customers as “Miss.”

After a while, of course, it became a joke for him. He’d correctly name every other relative, including our niece’s fiance, but would call Kaye “Miss” and then grin.

Tuesday, January 7, 2003 10:25 pm

Animal plumbing

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 10:25 pm

You know it’s not necessarily a great day when you come home to find that someone has installed two new drains.

In your cat.

Of course, if it’s any consolation, the cat’s probably not having such a great day, either.

This all started when we got back from Roanoke Sunday evening to see that Hobbes, our 14 1/2-year-old orange tabby, was sporting what looked like a bad scrape on his right hip/buttock. (Do cats even HAVE buttocks?) He seemed happy to see us, and mobile, so I didn’t worry too much about it, other than taking the time to clean it and spray it with some antiseptic.

Silly me.

By Monday afternoon, I had detected a good deal of swelling. More ominously, Hobbes had stopped eating. Hobbes had never stopped eating in his life up to this point, so I took him to the vet this morning.

Turned out he had an abcess somewhere in size between a CD and a 45 rpm record, if you’re old enough to remember those (I believe they were 7 inches in diameter). The vet had to lance it and drain it (drain it of what? you ask. Pus. A LOT of pus. A lot of REALLY SMELLY pus. Want me to post a *.jpg?), and she wanted to leave the drains in place a few days to make sure all that ick got out. The most common cause of abcesses in cats (which are pretty common; this wasn’t Hobbes’ first) is puncture wounds, typically from a bite, typically from another cat. In this case we have a suspect, a gray cat who’s been coming around to try to eat Hobbes’ food.

My conversation with the vet lasted about 10 minutes. My favorite line of hers: “I’ve seen abcesses this big before … but only on cows.”

So Hobbes is now wearing one of those Elizabethan collars around his neck to keep him from biting at the drains, and he’s currently residing in our hall bathroom, with a litter box of his own for the first time since Ann developed her allergies and he became an outdoor kitty, which I believe was in ’96.

I won’t tell you how much this cost. Hint: It was almost as much as our new kitchen disposal.

The good news is, once the drains come out, he can probably go back to being an outdoor kitty, and he should suffer no lasting damage as long as he takes his antibiotics. And if there’s one skill at which I have become proficient in my 14 1/2 years of Hobbes ownership, it’s shoving horse pills down his throat.

Victoria is a little disturbed that a cat has taken up residence in her bathroom. Hooper, on the other hand, is delighted and keeps trying to open the door to give the cat a hug, which he normally does without incident. We’re restraining him for now, of course.

Monday, January 6, 2003 4:49 pm

More on Christmas

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 4:49 pm

By popular demand — well, OK, by the demand of one person, Janet, with whom I, or at least my blog, am/is (?) popular — I’m revisiting the subject of Christmas as it relates to the kids. This isn’t as untimely as it might seem, given that we didn’t actually finish our Christmas family gift exchanging until this past weekend, which we spent in Roanoke “doing Christmas” with Ann’s side of the family.

We spent the weekend before Christmas down in Davidson/Charlotte with my mom, stepdad, dad, stepmom, sibs and stepsibs. And you know what? We all had a great time, and none of the kids got sick, which is pretty much a first for Christmases during my parenting career. Hooper was walking around my dad’s house calling Dad “Bop!”, which charmed Dad no end.

We came home in time to have the actual Christmas right here in our own house. Although the kids didn’t get to sleep until 10:35 p.m. and Santa had to assemble a fully functional kids’ treadmill, Santa was through with his labors by 11:45 p.m. and the kids actually slept ’til around 7:30. When Hooper walked into the living room he looked a little trepidatious … until he saw four, count ‘em, four trucks under the tree. “TRUCKS!” he shouted and bolted toward the tree at a dead run. I caught him on film in mid-stride. (Contrary to my expectations, he slowed down in plenty of time to avoid knocking the tree over.) Victoria was blown away by the treadmill, which was for both of them because they’ve both tried to get on Mommy and Daddy’s treadmill while we’re working out. She also was delighted to get a new baby doll that cries when you take the pacifier out of its mouth — she’d wanted to ask Santa for this but had forgotten, and she’d been fretting about that ever since.

Later in the day, we enjoyed a delightful standing rib roast, Ann’s first and an unqualified success.

We had planned to visit Ann’s mom the weekend after Christmas, but illness of other family members led us to postpone that for one weekend. We arrived Friday evening, and Hooper practically leaped into Granny’s arms — whether because he was genuinely glad to see her or simply because he was happy to be out of that ^%$@&# car seat, I cannot say. Naturally, we had a ton of food while at Granny’s, most of it homemade, including but not limited to: green beans, fried apples, mac ‘n’ cheese, pork loin, coconut cake and I forget whatall else. Hooper and Victoria also were delighted to see their cousins, although V. confided to me that one cousin (who has autism and Down’s) scared her a little. I explained to her that he has problems talking because of a brain problem he was born with, and she seemed more relaxed around him afterward.

We exchanged gifts after lunch on Saturday, after which most of the household went shopping, leaving me home with Hooper. I got to watch some football and basically do nothing, which I don’t get to do nearly enough of anymore, so I was happy. And of course we had Saturday dinner at the New Yorker Delicatessen, a Roanoke institution, where nine of us were able to get dinner for $50 … which Granny paid after arranging with the waitress to have the check brought to her. Granny, my brother-in-law Ronnie and I often get into fierce battles over dinner checks; it’s not unusual to hear one of us tell Granny something like, “You’re going to look awfully silly trying to pick up that check with no arms!” But I come by it honestly; my mother says her dad and his brothers used to beat hell out of each other to grab the check.

We got up early Sunday morning (well, relatively) and were Greensboro-bound again by 10:40. It snowed off and on almost the whole way back, which was kind of cool and very pretty, especially while we were still up in Virginia and thus in the mountains. (An aside: Dangerous though it is, U.S. 220 between Martinsville and Roanoke is some of the prettiest highway anywhere, and a good chunk of that beauty will be irretrievably lost when the road is upgraded to become Interstate 73 because interstate highways have to have smoother grades, wider lanes and longer sight lines than often are found on 220. Whether the higher speed limit will be worth the cost, I cannot say.)

Finally, yesterday was my 43rd birthday, and I celebrated by buying groceries for the week so that Ann could have some down time and start packing for Europe. Well, that and having dinner with two other couples (and their toddlers) at Outback. In addition to the printer and “Shipping News” DVD Ann and the kids gave me earlier, I got a Borders gift certificate and the DVD of “Blazing Saddles,” a must for any movie library. Woo-hoo!

No, this is not an implicit beg for additional gifts. If you look over this site, you’ll notice no Paypal logo, no “Amazon wish list” or anything like that. If you really want to do something nice for me, watch the kids for a while. Barring that, you might consider charitable contributions here, here or here.

Happy New Year!

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Saturday, January 4, 2003 8:22 pm

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 8:22 pm

Panthers 29, Cowboys 10

I mentioned earlier in the season that this Panthers team could be something special. Yesterday we found out just how special. The Panthers’ offense, not reputed to be especially explosive, made the league’s best defense look just plain bad, and the Panthers’ defense brilliantly exploited the Cowboys’ (many) offensive weaknesses.

How well did the Panthers play? They played a postseason game for the ages: zero penalties, zero turnovers. In the history of the NFL, only one other team has played so flawless a game: the Steelers, against the Cowboys in Super Bowl X.

It wasn’t a perfect game. For the first time all year, the Panthers had the ball on an opponent’s 1-yard line and failed to punch it in. And cornerback Reggie Howard’s play on Cowboy receiver Joey Galloway nearly cost the Panthers a touchdown on not one but two separate occasions, something to which the team will need to look as it prepares for the St. Louis Rams and its talented wideouts.

But other than those ultimately meaningless problems, it was the complete game that Panthers fans have waited a long, long time to see. And after a 7-year playoff drought, how good it is to know that we’re not done yet.

And how good it is to see proven what many of us have long thought: When this year’s Panthers are healthy and have their heads in the game, they can beat anyone.

Friday, January 3, 2003 11:51 am

And he should know

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 11:51 am

Syndicated horoscope columnist Sydney Omarr, a Leo, died yesterday. His own horoscope for yesterday began, “Get work done early … “

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