Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, July 31, 2003 8:06 pm

Cops on hippos

StereoLabRat is not impressed with New York City cops’ new mode of transportation, the Segway. But instead of bitching about it — well, OK, she bitches about it, but in addition to bitching about it, she also offers up some alternatives.

Possibly NSFW (language).

Geek item

Filed under: Geek-related issues — Lex Alexander @ 8:02 pm

If computers bore you, skip this.

I came back from vacation Monday to find a brand-new PC on my desk. It’s a Dell SX260 with a Pentium 4 2.8GHz chip, a gig of RAM and a 20G hard drive (plus network resources). And, baby? I’m now hot-swappable. Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003 7:25 pm

Duck

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 7:25 pm

Co-worker: [gesturing to box atop 2-drawer file cabinet to right of my L-shaped desk]: Is this new?

Me: Nah. It used to be on top of the 4-drawer file cabinet behind me. But they took that away today and gave me a 2-drawer.

Co-worker: That sucks.

Me: Nah, it’s fine. I never wanted a 4-drawer cabinet anyway. When they moved me over here from [gestures to the opposite corner of the editors' quad] three years ago, they took away a perfectly good 2-drawer I had and gave me the 4-drawer in exchange. At the time, I suspected it was merely a manifestation of my lowly status in the newsroom. Now, I’m not so sure. Anyway, all the stuff I had in the 4-drawer fit into the 2-drawer with room to spare, and I now have a clearer range in which to throw things.

Co-worker: [glancing toward her desk, roughly 30 yards north]: Bet you couldn’t hit me.

Me: Don’t be so sure.

Co-worker:

Me: OK, do not be misled by the rotator-cuff-impaired, paunchy, middle-aged specimen you see before you. There was a time, albeit years ago, when, rolling out to my left, I could throw a football 30 yards.

Co-worker: I have no idea what that means.

Me: It means … well, never mind. It means I could throw something from here and hit you with it. Or I could when I was 17.

Co-worker: But instead of hitting me you might hit [other co-worker] or [still other co-worker].

Me: Could be. But, you know, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. Just ask Donald Rumsfeld.

Co-worker: Well, I’m not going to dare you to do it because you’d probably do it, and I don’t want to endanger my co-workers, so I’ll just take your word for it.

Me: OK.

Co-worker: Leaving now.

Me: That’s probably for the best.

***

Man. “I’m not going to dare you to do it because you’d probably do it.” That’s an epitaph worthy of Sarah B.

The “F” word vs. baseball, Mom and apple pie

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 7:23 pm

The Smoking Gun announces its Legal Document of the Year, and here it’s still only July.

Yes, it’s that good. I particularly like the Google-search results on page 3.

Cement mixer! Whiskey! Sexy!*

Filed under: Hooper — Lex Alexander @ 7:23 pm

Hooper, who is about to turn 2 1/2, is a delightful toddler in many ways and for many reasons, but one of the things that delights me most about him is the enthusiasm with which he greets any example whatever of a familiar, beloved object. It doesn’t even have to be an object he owns. In a voice unmodulated in volume or pitch by even the slightest trace of perspective, he will joyfully squeal as we drive, “DADDY! CEMENT MIXER! ISSA BEEEEG CEMENT MIXER!” (Everything he sees these days is BEEEG, including the perfectly normal-sized squirrel in the back yard.) “DADDY! ISSA RADIO TOWER! ISSA BEEEG RADIO TOWER!”

*No, my son does not actually call out, “Daddy! Issa whiskey! Issa BEEEG whiskey!” This is, of course, a play on what an English-impaired Iraqi supposedly said to advancing American troops: “Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!” However, Hooper does recognize, and specifically identify, the beer truck that pulls up at the restaurant across from his day care most mornings. I hope never to have to explain to Social Services how it is that my 29-month-old son can identify a beer truck because I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t believe me.

On sale now!

Filed under: There but for the grace of God ... — Lex Alexander @ 7:22 pm

Just in case you’re in the market, you can buy a Russian woman in Romania for $49, National Public Radio reports.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003 6:44 am

Don’t tell ME evolution is a crock

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex Alexander @ 6:44 am

While I wasn’t watching – and thanks, apparently, to the North State Blogs – Blog on the Run has evolved and is now a Crawly Amphibian.

Cool. Uh, I mean, ribbit.

Monday, July 28, 2003 9:24 pm

We’re in the Golden Age of ugly cars …

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 9:24 pm

… and here’s Maddox, complete with his own zero-to-Gary-Busey scale of ugliness, to guide us through it.

“I’m not sure what it says about you if you’re making out with someone and you say, ‘We should probably stop,’ and they say, ‘OR, not! And tomorrow let’s go out for pizza!’ and this sounds like a good plan. I think it means you’re both total bad asses. Plus, pizza!”

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 9:23 pm

I don’t care how much fun you’re having, you’re not having as much fun as Sarah B. is.

How time flies

Filed under: Victoria — Lex Alexander @ 9:22 pm

Today was V.’s first day of kindergarten. Sniff.

She was up so late last night with nervous anticipation that she had a lot of trouble waking up this morning. But about 10 minutes before time to leave, she perked up quite a bit and posed willingly for several photos, including one side shot that showed her backpack to be roughly twice as thick, front to back, as she is.

Ann took her to school while I wrestled with Hooper. But I got to go have lunch with her, and she was glad to see me. She also was incredibly tired. Good thing they still have naps, or rest period, in kindergarten.

V. is a bright, empathetic kid with good people skills, so I’m reasonably confident that she’ll do well in school academically and personally. But all parents worry, and I’m no different.

All parents also tend to think that time accelerates once the kids come along. Just yesterday I was holding her in my arms for the first time, staring into those amazing violet eyes (which have since refined themselves to a deep blue) and weeping with joy and relief at the sight of her. Five years. Naturally, she tries to behave “older,” choosing her clothing and even her beverages according to what she thinks is most teenager-ish. (This has its good points: We’ve got her convinced that teens drink bottled water and only little kids drink carbonated beverages. Of course, at this age she also believes me when I tell her that the “25” on gumball machines means you have to be 25 to use one.) This morning I idly speculated on what would be happening in her life at multiples of this age:

  • Age 10: Entering fifth grade. Already interested in boys. Already stopped thinking Dad is cool. Might not even be talking to Dad anymore.
  • Age 15: Entering 10th grade. Probably already dangling several broken boy hearts from her belt. Talking to Dad for the sole purpose of obtaining illegal on-road driving experience because all her friends are going to be getting their licenses soon and she won’t be getting hers for another year. (I will feel her pain, although I will not acquiesce to her request, because I got my license after all my friends got theirs NOT because of an accident of birth but because of an atrocity of academic scheduling, my bitterness at which has not abated more than a quarter-century after the fact.)
  • Age 20: Entering junior year of college. Still not legally allowed to drink, thank God. And Daddy so does not want to go where her relationship(s) with boys might be at this point.

I couldn’t bear to take this exercise any further. Still, it’s a happy day, a celebration. She celebrated tonight by getting Daddy to grill her hot dogs for dinner and then playing volleyball with the neighbor kids while Mommy, Daddy and the neighbor kids’ mom drank wine and ate ice cream on the deck. Life really is good sometimes.

Hee.

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 9:19 pm

One of the benefits of being old is you can laugh at this without any painful hint of recognition:

Saturday, July 26, 2003 11:28 am

Blogathon news

Filed under: In which Lex, uncharacteristically, tries to be helpful — Lex Alexander @ 11:28 am

Today is the Blogathon, in which lots of bloggers will blog around the clock to raise money for various charities of their choosing. I’m not participating, but I’d like to link to three people who are: Laurence Simon of Amish Tech Support, Michele of A Small Victory, and Meryl Yourish.

The three are blogging on behalf of the Israeli emergency-response organization Magen David Adom, trying to raise $60,000 for a new ambulance. That’s a lot of jack. Laurence explains here why it’s needed (caution: politically incorrect sentiments expressed therein).

Wednesday, July 23, 2003 9:25 pm

Honesty: the best policy?

Filed under: Victoria — Lex Alexander @ 9:25 pm

Do you folks need some private time?

Why do you ask, sweetie? Are you just looking for a way to avoid going to bed?

Uh … yes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003 9:10 pm

“Vacation, all I ever wanted …”

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 9:10 pm

I’ve been on vacation for a week and a half, and except for a short trip to Roanoke to visit Ann’s mom, I’ve spent it all at home. I’ve done laundry and tackled a short list of not-especially-demanding household projects, and I’ve spent a good bit of time with Victoria, who’s just chilling before starting kindergarten next week. (My bloody cable service was out for several days, hence the light blogging of late.)

Otherwise, I’ve done nothing but watch tapes of trashy but entertaining TV and read a not-entirely-trashy-but-still-entertaining novel. Yeah, I know, sucks to be me, huh?

Wednesday, July 16, 2003 11:21 am

A good reason

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex Alexander @ 11:21 am

OK, let’s wash your face.

No.

C’mon, sweetie, we’ve got to wash your face.

No!

Sweetie, you can’t go to Safety Town with a dirty face. Now, c’mon, let me wash your face real quick.

Not with that washcloth!

Why not?

Because I wiped it with my bottom!

Oh. [Wonders whether he should pursue this line of questioning. Decides he really doesn't want to know.] OK, then. I’ll get another one.

Oh-KAY, then. GEE, Daddy …

Blog on the lawn. Not.

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 11:09 am

We spent the weekend with friends who live in Southern Village, a huge neighborhood/development in Chapel Hill. It was fun not to have to be anywhere or do anything at any particular time.

After dinner Saturday night, we sat out on the lawn in the “commercial” part of Southern Village and for $3 a head got to see “Road to Perdition,” a Tom Hanks gangster film I’d wanted to see in a theater and didn’t get to. The movie was projected from the back of a truck onto a full-size screen hung from stage scaffolding, behind which a beautiful full moon was rising as the show began.

The outdoor movies are shown on Friday nights from the end of May into October by the Lumina theater. Your $3 gets you a wristband that allows you into the theater itself for refreshments and restrooms. Early in the season, the movies are PG or PG-13 fare such as “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Later in the season, the showtimes moved from 7:30 or 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., and such R-rated titles as “Road to Perdition” and “Y Tu Mama Tambien” are featured.

We’d brought small beach chairs and a blanket to sit on, but during the first of two intermissions, we walked back across the street, pulled the back seat out of the van, brought it back into the park and sat comfortably on it for the rest of the show. Our friends, who need a new car and have been debating whether to buy a minivan, probably got sold by this particular feature.

It was a good weekend, better than we’ve had in quite a while.

Friday, July 11, 2003 10:00 pm

A big hand for Nancy

Filed under: Salute! — Lex Alexander @ 10:00 pm

I pretty much never write about the office for a variety of reasons, but I wanted to do so today to recognize a victory for one of the good guys as well as a ton of hard work by, and overdue recognition for, a friend. Nancy McLaughlin, a reporter for the N&R since late 1989, won first prize in feature writing yesterday at the N&R’s annual Landmark Awards, which recognize outstanding news and feature writing, copy editing, page design, sports writing, photography and graphic design. (The N&R story isn’t online.)

Nancy will be the first to tell you that she is not the most gifted reporter or writer on our staff. But in an industry where a lot more people TALK about getting better than actually DO it, she does it — and has been doing it for years. Even her editor, Susan Ladd (also a longtime colleague and friend of mine), whose own work ethic and record for winning feature-writing awards are monumental, speaks in awe of how hard Nancy has worked to make herself better as a reporter and a writer. In fact, at the moment, Susan can’t talk about it without breaking into tears.

My first lengthy exposure to Nancy’s work ethic came in 1993. At the time, I was the N&R’s investigative-projects reporter and she was the consumer-affairs reporter, and we were teamed to produce a package of stories on flaws in the state’s motor-vehicle inspections program. The reporting involved not only crunching data, my specialty at the time, but also a lot of footwork and face time with people ranging from overworked state officers who oversee the program to service-station managers, some reputable and some not, who actually do the inspecting. Nancy was patient, tireless and devoted to the story; moreover, in her courteous, unassuming way, she got into some bad people’s faces and kept asking questions until either she got answers or it became abundantly clear that no answer would be forthcoming.

Like most of us, Nancy has had both good and not-so-good editors over the years, and we’d both be lying if we said she hasn’t learned a lot from Susan. But she also has learned a lot on her own, apparently deciding that what God hadn’t given her she was going to have to go out and get herself. Her attitude would be a big improvement in a number of writers I know who have far more God-given talent.

After the 1993 package, I only rarely saw Nancy’s raw copy, so the next time I had the chance to do so regularly, I was mightily impressed. It was the fall of 2001. I had taken over for Susan as acting cityside assignment editor while Susan was out on maternity leave, a gig that began Sept. 10, 2001 [2007 UPDATE: It might have been a week or two earlier.]. It was an intense, emotional time even for those of us with no direct connection to the events and victims of 9/11 (and a flight attendant, Sandy Bradshaw, who died in the Pennsylvania plane crash had belonged to the same church as many of our staffers). As the cleanup at Ground Zero began, a local demolition company became the project’s lead consultant, and Nancy got to interview its head during one of his infrequent trips home. He gave the paper a bunch of photos he had taken at the site, and we published them as a package, with a text block written by Nancy.

It took my breath away, and the only editing it needed was to relocate a misplaced comma.

Since then, Nancy has won an N.C. Press Association award for her writing [2007 UPDATE: That award is for the best-written article by any newspaper reporter, anywhere in the state, for the entire year -- and she just won another one last week, working with a different editor, Betsi Robinson -- who also won the comparable editing award as Susan Ladd did with Nancy's first NCPA writing award.] and received other recognition. And she has done so through a raft of personal problems — not of her making — that could have swamped anyone.

So here’s to Nancy, friend and colleague. She has labored hard, well and devoutly in the vineyards, and she’s finally getting to reap a bit of the fruit.

Thursday, July 10, 2003 8:54 pm

Welcome to the big time

Filed under: Woohoo! — Lex Alexander @ 8:54 pm

There’s a great scene in the movie “Patton” in which British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery’s forces are racing U.S. Gen. George Patton’s forces to the Sicilian town of Palermo. Montgomery’s forces, believing they’ve gotten there first, parade through the streets as liberators, with music playing, flags and flowers waving, people cheering, etc., right up until they arrive at the town square — where they meet a bunch of American tanks from Patton’s forces who, unquestionably, got there first.

Hesiod isn’t Montgomery, of course, and no one will ever mistake me for Patton, either. But Hesiod appears to spend so much time blogging that it’s a bit surprising, when we agree at all (he’s rather more liberal than I), to find that I’ve gotten to an issue ahead of him. In this case, it’s the distinction between marriage and civil unions, which became more newsworthy in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning state bans on sodomy.

Given the traffic he draws — I’m betting his is one of the top four or five blogs in the liberal blogosphere in that regard — I’m delighted to be in the same company.

Tuesday, July 8, 2003 7:50 pm

A pee-tiful way to make a living

Filed under: There but for the grace of God ... — Lex Alexander @ 7:50 pm

Courtesy of Roger Ailes (this one, not this one) comes what he calls The Worst Job in Journalism, and I think I’d have to agree.

Why we get the big bucks

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 7:28 am

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in management, wonder no more: Sedalina explains it all for you.

Monday, July 7, 2003 8:26 pm

There’s always a catch

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 8:26 pm

From a recent e-mail exchange:

ME: For your planning purposes, 9/16/03 has been designated “Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day.
FRIEND:
Cool. I’ve got several “loved ones” I’d like to take.
ME: I’m pretty sure you have to take them home again when they’re done, though.
FRIEND: Damn.

Belated Fourth of July toast

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 8:18 pm

To America — a country so strong, so great, so rich and so generous that even the worst efforts of both major parties have not screwed her up completely.

* * *We had a great weekend, by and large. I spent six hours in the yard Friday and three Sunday, mowing, weed-whacking, killing volunteer stuff and spreading pine needles in plant beds and around trees. The yard doesn’t look great, exactly, but it looks much better than it did. Ann took Victoria and a friend to see “Rugrats Go Wild” Sunday. Unfortunately, the only part Victoria remembers is the single line of a dog, voiced by Bruce Willis: “Smell my butt.” Great. Just what you want your 5-year-old telling total strangers.

Thursday, July 3, 2003 8:35 pm

Q: How much can fit inside a Chevy Blazer? A: One yuppie and a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Q: No, really.

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 8:35 pm

I did OK on Trig in 10th grade, considering I was a future English major. But I think I’d’ve aced it if the material had been as interesting as this.

Oh, the humanity! Or, rather, Oh, the plastic breasts!

Filed under: Weird — Lex Alexander @ 8:27 pm

A burning cargo of sex toys closed one of Britain’s busiest highways.

Anyone wanna blog-map Greensboro?

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 8:26 pm

A “blog map” is a map on which a street grid (or, in New York, the subway system) is highlighted, with dots near major intersections or subway stops to show who in the vicinity is blogging. What often happens is that the bloggers get together in real life for socialization; I know the NYC bloggers got together a few months ago and had what appeared to be a great time.

My research hasn’t been exhaustive, but near as I can tell, there’s no blog map anywhere of Greensboro (or the larger Piedmont Triad region). Anyone want to make one?

Wednesday, July 2, 2003 6:28 pm

Hangover cure?

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 6:28 pm

Stephen Pollard plays lab rat so that you don’t have to. Hint: That’s probably a good thing.

Sin all you want. They’ll print more.

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 6:28 pm

Talk about a useful gift: “Get Out of Hell Free” cards, caps and T-shirts.

11. Then — dead mice in the kitchen. Now — dead Third World dictators in the basement.

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 6:27 pm

16 Signs Your Cat Is Plotting World Domination.

I think I can safely say that Hobbes is not part of the conspiracy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2003 7:40 pm

Ewww

Filed under: Weird — Lex Alexander @ 7:40 pm

Hey, I welcome visitors and all (obviously; otherwise I wouldn’t have a hit counter, right?), but there are some searches I’d just as soon not be visited by, if it’s all the same to you.

The lunatic is in my head, or, more tales of my misspent youth

Filed under: Fun — Lex Alexander @ 7:39 pm

Michele reminds me that today is the 30th anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” I’m pretty sure I didn’t buy it for another couple of years after that, after the late, unlamented WROQ-FM in Charlotte had burned every track deeply into my brain, but other people picked up my slack: The album stayed in Billboard magazine’s Top 200 Albums chart for, like, 11 years or something. My own copy was among the many vinyl casualties of my New-York-to-North-Carolina move in December 1983.

It’s held up very well over the years, but it’s still best enjoyed cranked really loudly through a heavy pair of Koss headphones while you’re sitting alone in your darkened bedroom with your eyes closed, not quite sober, brooding over the injustices life has dealt you.

It also helps, but is not necessary, for you to be an adolescent male.

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