Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, September 29, 2003 7:18 pm

“Butterfly Kisses” and butterflies

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:18 pm

We spent a long weekend Down East, which, here in North Carolina, means roughly anywhere between the coast and Interstate 95. More specifically, we were in the vicinity of the Martin-Washington county line for the nuptials of our niece, Jennifer. All in all, it was a nice trip, much better than we had feared it would be.

That’s no reflection on Jennifer, but on the fact that Hurricane Isabel had passed through just nine days before the wedding. Ann’s sister Kaye and her husband, Ronnie, lost power for about three days, which was a crisis in that Kaye had planned to prepare all the food for the reception. (Among the many items on her resume is a successful stint in restaurant management.) They got power back on the 21st, which (barely) gave Kaye, with some help from her and Ann’s mom, the time to get all the cooking done.

When we got there, Ronnie and Kaye put us up in this huge RV that Ronnie took off his mother’s hands after his father died a couple of years ago. Ever since Boy Scouts I haven’t been much for camping, but this thing was nice: audio/video system with monitors up front and in the master bedroom; satellite TV; air-conditioning that WORKED; stove, microwave, fridge and freezer; combination washer/dryer; a shower, even. We spent the weekend partying like rock stars. Well, except for the, you know, booze, dope and groupies.

* * *
Unlike in Greensboro, you could tell a hurricane had been through the greater Plymouth/Jamesville, N.C., metropolitan area. All the back roads were lined with tree debris that clearly had just been hurriedly plowed off the blacktop. Trees were down in yard after yard. Many business signs were damaged or gone. Along U.S. 64 alone, I spotted three churches with significant storm damage, including one whose front portico had collapsed.The area remained under a declared state of emergency while we were there, the relevant ramifications of which were:

  • Police were enforcing a 10 p.m. curfew.
  • The liquor stores were closed.

These are disturbing circumstances under which to hold any wedding, but particularly a wedding being held in a church with Free Will Baptist in the name.

* * *
Jennifer has always been a sweet-natured girl, so it was not surprising that her bridesmaids (six, plus two honorary) seemed nice as well. Her maid of honor, Amber, and one of her honorary bridesmaids (also from Greensboro, as it turned out), Jamie, stayed with her at Ronnie and Kaye’s, and I was formally introduced to them Saturday morning over breakfast at the island in Kaye’s kitchen, where Hooper and I sat side by side eating breakfast.By way of conversation, I asked Amber how long she had known Jennifer and how they had met.

“We all went to nursing school together,” Amber said, gesturing to include Jamie in the “we,” “so we’ve been pretty much up each other’s butts for the past two years.”

I glanced at Hooper. So did she.

“So to speak,” she added, looking very embarrassed.

“That’d be a medical term, then,” I said, to show there were no hard feelings.

* * *

Victoria, who was serving as flower girl (and who had been waiting for this day since Jennifer had gotten engaged 15 months ago), was thrilled to get to go with the rest of the bridal party to get her hair and makeup professionally done. She had to wear a nightgown (with spaghetti straps) as a shirt because once her hair was done and her hairpiece in place, she’d be unable to pull any clothing over her head.After getting her hair done at the salon, she and the rest of the bridal crew repaired to the (unoccupied) manse at the church for their makeup sessions. V. decided that she wanted purple eyeliner, but the woman doing the makeup decided — wisely, in my uninformed view — that a lighter color would better suit her complexion.

When it was done, she looked at me and for only the second time in her life, I thought I could see what she might look like when she has grown up. (The first was on the occasion of her first ballet recital, also an event involving much sturm und drang with respect to hair and makeup.)

After delivering pizza to the bridal party, I took Hooper home for a little nap. When we returned about an hour before the wedding, I asked Victoria how she had liked hanging out with the bridesmaids (all of whom were roughly 20 years older than she).

“It was fun,” the girl who normally can’t stand physical separation from her parents said enthusiastically.

“No kidding,” I said. “What’d you talk about?”

“Oh, weddings and being in a wedding and being a bridesmaid.”

“I see. Anything else?”




Oh, dear.

* * *

As Official Wedding Videographer, I stood up in the chancel, using Jennifer’s camcorder to shoot the proceedings. The “anthem” played and sung before Ronnie gave Jennifer away was “Butterfly Kisses.” I have never much liked that song, but Ronnie, as seen through a camera close-up, had clearly decided to just take his mind somewhere else lest he shed a tear. Jen wasn’t much better off, but at least she was smiling, too.

* * *After the ceremony, the wedding party released live butterflies from the front steps of the church. They’d been ordered from some outfit in Texas, and no one really knew for sure if they were alive, but when the packages were opened, they all — monarchs, to my uneducated eye — flew off just as healthy as you please, except for one that flew upward in a tight spiral, apparently because of a stuck rudder or whatever you call it on a butterfly.

* * *
We slept in Sunday morning — “in” being 8 a.m. — and then headed home by way of Chapel Hill for the 3rd birthday party of a friend of Hooper and Victoria’s. On the way from there, I got to listen on the radio as the Panthers humbled the Falcons. It was a nice ending to a nice weekend.

Thursday, September 25, 2003 8:38 pm

No bar too far

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:38 pm

The next time I can afford a new car — which, considering I’m gonna have at least two college educations to pay for, could be quite a while — I’m going to get me one of these. (Thanks to T. for the link.)
* * *
Actually, my friend F. suggests, by the time I’m ready to buy one, perhaps the Baby Boomers will have fixed Medicare so that it covers the cost of one of these.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003 12:33 pm

Welcome to the family

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 12:33 pm

Our niece Jennifer, who served as our flower girl when we got married 13 years ago, now has “R.N.” after her name and her own wedding approaching. This is the kind of family into which her fiance, Carl, will be marrying:

Recently, Jennifer’s younger brother, Kevin, found a garter snake in the yard. After killing it, he brought it inside and left it in the sink full of water in which his mom, Ann’s older sister Kaye, was washing dishes.

Kaye did not scream. She very calmly took the snake down the hall and left it on Kevin’s pillow.

There are no witnesses to what transpired the next time Kevin went to bed, but shortly thereafter, Kaye found the snake again … in her purse.

Soon after that, Kevin found the snake again … in his shoe.

I don’t know what happened to the snake after that, and given its … well, deteriorating condition, I don’t want to know.

But Carl? Dude? Welcome to the family.

And don’t say you weren’t warned.

Monday, September 22, 2003 5:40 pm

Sonic boom trill

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 5:40 pm

We had a fire drill at work today, as we do every few weeks. Only today I learned that they’ve added a new wrinkle. In addition to the ear-splitting clanging of old-fashioned iron alarm bells, we also are now serenaded by a whistle. Think referee whistle, only think of it as being blown by one of the larger demons, one with infinite lung capacity/volume and nothing better to do for the next few centuries.

We evacuated, but it’s my personal opinion that we’re fortunate that we weren’t all reduced to quivering masses of protoplasm, limbs jerking spasmodically as we lay on the floor, blood trickling from every orifice north of the neck.

Which beats burning to death, but still.

Sunday, September 21, 2003 8:20 pm


Filed under: Tigers,Victoria — Lex @ 8:20 pm

I got to V.’s game on Saturday just before the first quarter ended, and just as I arrived, the Tigers scored.

It was a good omen, as it turned out — the Tigers won 9-3, making them 1-2 on the season. The opponent wasn’t quite as good as last week’s, but the Tigers had gotten dramatically better individually and collectively.

That they had was mainly thanks to the drills through which their coach put them Friday evening. It was a good practice — so good, in fact, that V. and the coach’s daughter prevailed on the coach to stay late and work with them on shooting for another 20 minutes or so. And when the Tigers came out on Saturday, they were hungry.

They all were running faster, running to the ball more quickly, cutting off passing lanes better and pulling the ball back sooner, harder and with more confidence. One of V.’s teammates, O., made a spectacular pullback that prevented an opponent’s shot from scoring.

And in the fourth quarter, V. found herself with the ball, unopposed, perhaps 8 feet from the opponents’ goal. She didn’t hesitate, and she netted it dead center.

Officially, of course, no score is kept in the under-6 league, and Ann and I try never to talk about the score and always to talk about only having fun and getting better. But there was no fooling V. on Saturday. “Daddy,” she said to me afterward, “you know that if this was a real game, we’d have won.”

Friday, September 19, 2003 10:31 am

Oops, I almost forgot!

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:31 am

Arrrrrgh, maties! Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day!

This jazzes me not only because North Carolina’s coast was home to pirates once upon a time but also because the first guy over from Britain on my mother’s side, Francis Hay, was a pirate before settling down in Charleston and becoming quasi-respectable.

You can learn more about Blackbeard, who haunted these coasts nearly three centuries ago — and might still today — at Blackbeard Lives!, a multimedia presentation by some current and former colleagues of mine at the N&R.

Additional links (thanks to Michele at A Small Victory):

(Mine is Captain Sam Kidd. It says so here.)

The day after

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 10:16 am

We got several inches of rain, and the wind gusted up over 40 mph a good bit, but that was the worst of it — we’ve had winter nor’easters that were much worse. (Of course, most of our marginal timber got taken out during one of last winter’s ice storms, so what’s left is either brand-new or pretty durable.)

The county schools are closed today because of power outages at some schools. (We lost power yesterday afternoon, which I expected — we lose power if someone on the street sneezes the wrong way — but got it back within 90 minutes, which I did NOT expect.) The day care, which normally closes when the county schools do, opened, so Hooper’s there per usual. V. and a similarly de-schooled friend are entertaining themselves playing soccer. In the house. Oh, well.

And it is beautiful today. Just. Beautiful.

Be nice

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:06 am

Sometimes, parents send implicit, ambiguous messages to their kids in which expectations are unclear and consequences are unspecified.

And sometimes they do not, as exemplified by an e-mail an acquaintance of mine recently got from his mother. It said:

FYI, [your stepdad] and I will probably take over a time share from some friends of ours who are ready to get rid of it. We just assume the monthly fee, not the big up front purchase. The base property is at N. Myrtle [Beach, S.C.], but you can actually go to other locations all over the US, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, and even Europe. It is a deed, so can be passed on by inheritance. So be nice to us.

OK, then.

Thursday, September 18, 2003 3:21 pm


Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 3:21 pm

Home with the kids, Hurricane Isabel (at this moment a good 100+ miles SE of here) having forced the schools to close early on account of all the scientific evidence that winds of 31 mph, gusting to 40, can flip a school bus right off a road.

Not that I am bitter.

Anyhow. For reasons I have not been able to discern, this blog set a new record for 1-day viewership yesterday. Nothing that would scare any of the vertebrates of the blogosphere, but nice nonetheless. I guess I’m building a brand. A brand of what, I couldn’t tell you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003 6:05 pm

And now for a bit of good news …

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 6:05 pm

After DNA tests exonerated Lonnie Erby in three rape cases for which he already had served 17 years in prison, Chrysler Corp., where he had worked when arrested, hired him back.

Not only that, the company, in agreement with the auto workers’ union, granted him the seven years of seniority he had at the time of his arrest. It didn’t have to do that. Heck, it didn’t even have to rehire him.

I am so going to buy this

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 6:04 pm

Later this year, American Recordings will release a Johnny Cash collection that will include his duet with the late Joe Strummer, formerly a member of the Clash, on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” The last time I went out and stood in line for the release of an album was — and, yes, this dates me — Elton John’s “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” in 1975.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Even more than Elvis, Johnny Cash was the first punk. And all the punks, from Johnny Rotten to Trent Reznor, know it.

My co-workers won’t believe this …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:03 pm

… because in the Newsroom of the Computer-Blind, I am the One-Eyed Man, but: I am only 18% geek.

You are 18% geek
OK, so maybe you ain’t a geek. You do, at least, show a bit of interest in the world around you. Either that, or you have enough of a sense of humor to pick some of the sillier answers on the test. Regardless, you’re probably a pretty nifty, well-rounded person who gets along fine with people and can chat with just about anyone without fear of looking stupid or foolish or overly concerned with minutiae. God, I hate you.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at

A new North State Blogs feature

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:03 pm

A Sunday comics section.

Monday, September 15, 2003 7:37 am

How you likin’ us now, Warren?

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 7:37 am

Carolina 12, defending Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay 9

Sunday, September 14, 2003 1:36 pm


Filed under: Tigers — Lex @ 1:36 pm

The Tigers lost again yesterday, 7-4. But they played much better than they had a week ago, against a team substantially better than last week’s opponent, and the game was closer than the final score indicated.

Just for starters, the other team scored two goals on long, rolling breakaway kicks after a kickoff (the under-6 teams play without goalkeepers). Subtract those, and it was a closely contested 5-4 contest.

The Tigers as a team were faster this week, more aggressive toward the ball, better at passing and better at pulling the ball back. The two goals mentioned above notwithstanding, the game could’ve gone either way; indeed, the Tigers were threatening to score again when time ran out.

Victoria played very well and aggressively, making some excellent defensive stops. But she missed most of the second half after bending her right pinky back so badly it swelled. Still, she had a good time and is looking forward to next Saturday, which is the whole point.

Friday, September 12, 2003 8:58 pm

Two years later, cont.

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 8:58 pm

If you’ll look down the sidebar, you’ll find a button linking you to the Voices project, organized by Michele of A Small Victory. It’s a fine collection and well worth visiting.

Two years later

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 8:56 pm

This cartoon, published a year ago, captures a lot of sentiment about 9/11, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Something to be said for getting older

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:49 pm

“There’s something to be said for young people — quite a lot, in fact. For one, you know so much more than they do.”

–Weblogger Nancy Nall after emerging from a scriptwriting class at the University of Michigan with five other students, all less than half her age.

Man in Black

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 6:47 pm

Johnny Cash is dead at 71.

First Warren Zevon, now Johnny Cash. It’s a bad week for music.

Thursday, September 11, 2003 6:36 am


Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 6:36 am

Adam Arias

Thanks. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2003 10:41 am

What a long, strange trip it’s been

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 10:41 am

News on the Web is 10 years old this month.

As Mark Glaser notes, in September 1993, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois released a beta version of the Web browser Mosaic. Within a month, the University of Florida’s journalism school launched what they believed was the first journalism site on the Web.

My tiny little piece of this history goes something like this: In May 1994, Pat Yack, at the time the N&R’s editor, tapped me to lead a team of reporters and editors to plan and begin creating online content for the News & Record. Those folks worked their tails off, despite having no resources to speak of, and before year’s end we’d soft-launched Triad Online, one of the first couple of dozen newspaper-affiliated Web sites. I returned to reporting soon thereafter, but I’ve got an I-was-there-when-they-invented-the-Web sort of story I can bore my grandchildren with.

People with more time than I can tell you what all this has meant in everything from publishing to inventory control. But the benefits have been enormous, and I just thought that, given the unhappy anniversary approaching, it was worth noting this happier one.

Monday, September 8, 2003 7:25 pm

Live and learn

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:25 pm

So we’re in the van listening to the audio version of “Froggy Bakes a Cake,” and if I understand the narrator correctly, Froggy’s cake explodes because he put too much baking soda into the batter.

Is that possible? I ask Ann. If you put too much baking soda into something, will it really explode?

Yep, she says.

Man. If I’d known that, I’d’ve learned to cook years ago.

Random acts of cuteness not involving my own kids, cont.

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:19 pm

Dramatis Personae:
B., a 5-year-old erstwhile classmate of Victoria’s at day care.
S., B.’s harried single mother.
Ms. M, an unseen but powerful force affecting B.’s behavior; in other words, a strict teacher B. and Victoria once shared

S.: B., it’s time to get ready for bed.
B.: I don’t want to.
S.: B., no arguing. It’s time.
B.: I’m not gonna!
S. (obviously at the end of her rope): B., do you want me to call Ms. M. and tell her how badly you’ve been behaving?
B. (freezing and turning pale): No! She must never know!

Sunday, September 7, 2003 9:20 pm

Another fine mind ruined by popular culture

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:20 pm

So I’m in church this morning and our senior pastor, Sid, whom I like a lot, is giving a fine sermon about vision, derived from Jesus’ healing of the blind man and intended to point out that vision, like blindness, comes in many forms. He goes on from that to talk about his vision for our church — one, by the way, with which I wholeheartedly agree — that it transform itself from an institution to a movement.

So, from where I’m sitting, if you’ll forgive the football metaphors since its Opening Day, Sid has called a good play, he’s got momentum and an open field in my head, the goal line is in sight, he’s headed nonstop to the land of six, and then …

… he starts talking about how, when he wanted to start improving his golf game, he started using a mantra. And with his juxtaposition of the words “golf” and “mantra,” immediately, all I can hear in my head is, “Be the ball.”

Sorry, Sid. And don’t even ask me why I won’t go see Wagnerian opera; the answer has to do with a certain wascally wabbit.

[2007 UPDATE: This might have been the first time something like this happened, but it wouldn’t be the last.]

Saturday, September 6, 2003 3:12 pm

Hot grownups now

Filed under: Fun,Hooper — Lex @ 3:12 pm

“Daddy, we need to get more grownups at the grownup store.”

“Uh, yeah, OK, buddy.”

“Daddy! We need to get more grownups at the grownup store.”

“Uh, buddy, what’s a grownup store?”

“Where we got da grownups that time! We need to get more grownups at the grownup store!”

“Buddy, there’s no such thing as a grownup store.”

“Ya, dere is! See? Is right there!

Friday, September 5, 2003 9:02 pm

Bye-bye, baby T’s

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 9:02 pm

The bare-midriff T-shirt look, exemplified by Britney Spears, and the accompanying fashion trend of low-rider jeans, have come in for their fair share of abuse. As the father of a 5-year-old girl, I understand why: If you want to buy clothes that don’t make your kindergartner look like Crack-Ho Barbie, you’ve pretty much got to do your shopping at consignment sales and yard sales because Abercrombie & Fitch and Gap Kids — heck, even Target — are going to be damned little help.

That said, if a young woman is 18 or older and wants to sport the look, I’m all in favor. Sue me. The look is based on some fashions (e.g., hiphuggers) that were in style back when I first started to pay serious attention to girls, so it’s kind of genetically imprinted in my id. And in that context, I’d like to say that the superceding of the baby-T look by the the longer, layered look in T-shirts is cause for national mourning.

Also: $50 for a T-shirt? Dude? That’s just wrong.

She’s a Tiger now

Filed under: Tigers — Lex @ 8:13 pm

V. played in her first soccer game today. She had a couple of nice stops, and she had a good time.

A less emotionally involved observer might have noticed that the Tigers lost to the Wildflowers 8-1 (the GYSA doesn’t keep score in the younger kids’ games, which I think is a fine idea), that the Tigers’ only score came when a Wildflower kicked the ball into her own goal and that at any given time, two of the three Tigers on the field looked more like innocent bystanders than players. But V., who had confessed to a serious case of pregame jitters, said afterward that she wanted to play another game right away.

She’ll have to settle for next Saturday, but I think that’ll be OK with her.

Thursday, September 4, 2003 9:23 pm

And speaking of Opening Day …

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 9:23 pm

Carolina 24, Jacksonville 23

Yeah, baby.

How’d I miss this??

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:38 pm

Today is (or was; it’s now Friday there) National Penis Day in New Zealand.

Resolved: that we do/do not need such an observance in the United States. Talk amongst yourselves.

Kamikaze writing

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:33 pm

November is National Novel-Writing Month, in which everyone’s supposed to write a novel (at least 50,000 words, which is not that long as novels go). I found out about it last year only after it had started, and I don’t want to miss the boat this time around.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking: “This is great and all, but how is this going to get me rich/well/in bed with the primate of my dreams?”


What you’re really thinking is: Lex, you ignorant slut. You work full-time. You have two young children. Your wife works full-time. Your wife also is pursuing her MBA. And it’s football season. You barely have time to blog, much less write a novel. Moreover, although you’ve been attempting the feat since you were 9, you have yet, in your entire sorry life, to produce as much as a single page of believable, serviceable prose fiction. So. How in pluperfect hell do you expect to write a novel? In. One. Month?

And the answer is: I don’t. But I’ll give it a shot anyway and see how far I get, and I’ll keep you posted.

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