Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Saturday, January 28, 2006 5:29 pm


Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 5:29 pm

God, it was cold that morning.

In fact, it had been cold all winter. I moved from New Bern to Gastonia right before the New Year, and I remember arriving at my new apartment with my car in the middle of the night (having driven a moving truck with all my stuff first, then hopped a commuter flight to New Bern, which didn’t land until after 10 p.m., to pick up my car and drive it back). With the temp in the low teens when I arrived around 3 a.m., I was grateful that I could turn on the electric heater right by my bed and, finally, sleep. And within days the temp had hit or ducked below zero several times.

But that particular morning, I’d started my cop rounds well before sunup and found out there’d been a killing. The guy they wanted was in a mobile home somewhere in or near Bessemer City, and the cops were trying to talk him out, and that’s where I went, and I could only get so close in my car so I had to get out in the cold and walk the rest of the way to talk to the cops, and that’s where I stayed until late in the morning, when my relief arrived so I could drive back to the Gazette and file a story.

After my relief arrived and I headed back and I filed the story and it got edited and the pages got laid out and the presses started rolling, I was just coming back from the bathroom when I looked at the newsroom TV and saw the shuttle blow up.

I ran back to the pressroom, and for what will almost certainly be the only time in my career, I yelled, “Stop the presses!” But they were already slowing down. Someone else — Jennie? Nancy? Sally? Jim? — had gotten there first.

I seem to recall the announcer saying the shuttle was somewhere just over 40,000 feet in the air at that point. And I remember thinking, Forty thousand? Hey, people have parachuted from higher than that. Maybe they’ll be OK, even as I saw replay after replay of the launch, and the fire and the explosion and the pieces and I began to grasp that, no, no one on that shuttle was ever going to be OK. And at that point I had stuff to do, work-related stuff, people on the street to interview back out in the cold, and it wasn’t until hours later that I started wondering what it must have been like for the kids in New Hampshire to see their teacher, Christa McAuliffe, blown to pieces on live television.

NASA, in painstaking and bloodless detail, describes it all here.

The explosion 73 seconds after liftoff claimed crew and vehicle. The cause of explosion was determined to be an o-ring failure in the right solid rocket booster. Cold weather was determined to be a contributing factor.

That day and for a long time afterward, I thought I’d never feel warm again.

Time for the weird to turn pro …

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 5:19 pm

… because when American Conservative magazine runs a piece not just praising but rehabilitating George McGovern, we can officially say that the going has gotten weird. I wouldn’t have written that piece on a bet.

Unrealistic expectations?

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 5:17 pm

Hooper: Here are the eggs, daddy.

Daddy: Thank you, buddy. You da man!

Hooper: Daddy, I can’t handle that kind of pressure!

Things that make you go “Hmmmm,” cont.

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 5:12 pm

A terror threat is e-mailed from a public-library computer terminal in Massachusetts, the FBI says.


Or something else?

Make my day

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 5:10 pm

Father’s Day is only five months off, and I’ve been very, very good …

” … waiting … to see in which way Hamas will kill us.”

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 3:16 pm

A Palestinian blogger’s take on the election. Turns out not all Palestinians were voting in favor of terrorism and death and whatnot.

Beyond sad. And beyond worrisome.

Class M?

Filed under: Geek-related issues — Lex @ 3:09 pm

In the “Star Trek” series, “Class M” planets are those with structure, temperature and atmosphere similar enough to Earth’s to allow humans to walk around sans space suits (or, in the harrowing case of William Shatner, any other clothes).

This isn’t a Class M planet, inasmuch as its surface temp is probably too low to support life of any kind. But the fact that it exists, and that it is rocky like Earth and only a little larger, is the first solid (pardon the pun) evidence that there could indeed be real Class M planets out there, orbiting other stars.

Bonus astronomy humor: The telescopy technique used to discover this planet goes by the acronym OGLE.


Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 3:04 pm

Also: Funny. Business 2.0 magazine’s 101 Dumbest Business Moments of 2005.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 10:21 pm

American Idol: Greensboro!

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:21 pm

Seriously. Fortunately, Mr. Sun! watched (and liveblogged) so I didn’t have to.

Worst teeth in all of Blogdom

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:13 pm

I had no idea there was even a contest, but apparently there is, and apparently Brad and Gavin at Sadly, No! think they’ve won:

Brad: “If I had, like, a gajillion dollars, I’d have them all pulled out and replaced with a set of adamantium fangs. I’d be like Wolverine, only vampiric.”Gavin: “My teeth are a 17th-Century cemetery of this-way and that-way and dashed hopes and frost-heaved menhirs. … if you think I’m fooling, tickle me and I’ll grin you to stone like a basilisk. See this eyetooth? Me neither. Woohoo!”

That’s one contest I’m delighted to lose.

A nuclear Iran

Charles at ObWi posts an interesting Q&A about the prospect of Iran’s obtaining nuclear weapons. As he admits, there’s a lot he doesn’t know, but in the stuff he’s pretty sure about, there is, as the Chinese might say, both peril and opportunity if we play our cards right. In other words, so far as we know, the situation isn’t totally messed up. Yet.

Quote of the day

Filed under: Black-box voting,Quote Of The Day — Lex @ 10:09 pm

From commenter “clevershark” at Metafilter: “Yesterday we in Canada voted using the time-tested technologies of pencil and paper. Today we know who won the election. We know by how much. There is no dispute whatsoever. There may be a message in that.”

Ya think?

(To clarify: I don’t think all ballots should be pencil and paper. I do, however, believe touch-screen electronic machines are insecure and subject to unacceptable failure rates, and that if they are used they should generate a voter-verified paper ballot and that a robust auditing system be in place.)

Monday, January 23, 2006 8:38 pm


Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:38 pm

In what is becoming an annual ritual, The BEAST presents the 2005 version of The 50 Most Loathesome Americans.

” … I fear our children are learning a lot more than we really want them to know.”

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 8:32 pm

Boy, when he returns, he really returns: David Hoggard ruminates on Guilford County Schools attendance zones, and his piece has something to discomfit just about everyone.

End of the road

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 6:50 am

After the Panthers beat the Giants in the wild-card game, I wrote that if the Panthers keep their heads in the game, the only team that can beat them is themselves.

I was wrong.

The nonevil, heads-in-the-game Panthers showed up Sunday, but the Seahawks were good enough to beat them anyway. The better team won. It’s disappointing, but it’s a fact.

I’ll have a season recap and review of what the team likely will be doing in the offseason soon.

Sunday, January 22, 2006 2:12 pm

Finally failed to dodge a bullet

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 2:12 pm

My participation in so-called “blogging memes” — that is, someone decides to post a particular type of post, then “tags” five blogging friends/acquaintances to get them to do the same — has been minimal. For one thing, most of the memes don’t interest me. For another, no one has ever tagged me directly with a meme before (that I’m aware of).

But Herb has tagged me, so I guess I’ve got to do this: Five weird things about me (that I don’t mind posting on my blog):

1) Growing up, I was an absolute neat freak. Place for everything, everything in its place. Now, as my shocked mother and dismayed spouse and co-workers will tell you, not so much.

2) My choices of “comfort food” include Beefaroni and Progresso Italian wedding soup … cold and straight out of the can.

3) I pretty much can’t sleep at all anymore except on my back or on my right side.

4) I once “forgot,” for a period of 12 or so years, how to throw a baseball/softball, something I did an average of several hours a week from about age 7 well into adulthood. My muscles and brain just wouldn’t get on the same page regarding this task. It’s like “forgetting” how to ride a bicycle — most people think it’s just impossible, but I found a way. (Now, finally, my body has “remembered” how; I’m just not so good at it because of recent rotator-cuff problems.)

5) When my kids were younger and I was teaching them the sounds different animals make (“What does a cat say?” “Meow!” etc.), I taught them that panthers, or, more properly, Panthers, say, “Touchdown!” Raise a child up in the way that he should go, and when he is older he will not stray from it.

So, that’s it, except that I have to “tag” five more people with this meme. OK: Nick, FHay, Alex, Chip and Shannon. Y’all are “it.”

Friday, January 20, 2006 8:10 pm

A Panthers blogger speaks

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 8:10 pm

My brother Hugh’s friend Aaron Nance, proprietor of the blog/fan site, is interviewed on AOL’s Sports Bloggers Live. If you follow the Panthers closely, you won’t learn much new, but it’s a fun conversation.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 9:54 pm

I guess it’s the midnight hour

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 9:54 pm

Wilson Pickett, 1941-2006


In addition to listening to Pickett’s music, if you haven’t seen it, you should rent “The Commitments.”

Good news for a change

Filed under: Woohoo! — Lex @ 9:37 pm

New jobless claims fall to six-year low.

Not quite as good as job creation jumping to a six-year high, but right now we’ll take what we can get.

Some advice for all the Girl Scouts out there selling cookies

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:35 pm

Remind your potential buyers that only two boxes of Thin Mints contain 96% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of iron.

In my limited experience, women find this argument more convincing than do men, but only by a slight margin.

The fact that they also contain 464% of the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat, however, probably is not a strong selling point. At least with women.

How the mind of a 4-year-old works

Not well, apparently.

Some insight for new parents and those pondering parenthood: The Terrible Twos often ain’t all that terrible. Two just gets a lot of bad press. Its evil older brother, 4, however, is the real criminal. I mean, you can still put your 2-year-old on a leash and no one will look at you funny. (No, really. No, really. Shut up.) But if you try doing that with your 4-year-old, some busybody is probably going to call Social Services and then your calendar for the next several months is just shot all to hell.

I mention that because, as I recently noted, Hooper’s time as a 4-year-old is rapidly drawing to a close. It has been a, um, an interesting year, a challenging year. I’ve mentioned before that Hooper is not a fan of boundaries or structure.

He can still be incredibly sweet, cute and affectionate, and he still charms total strangers effortlessly (In elevator at motel near Savannah, Ga., to stranger who has just joined us: “Hi, I’m Hooper! What’s your name? What’s in your suitcase? Do you have any cookies in there? Have you ever been in jail? Daddy says if I ever dial 911 again I’m going to jail!* Unless there’s a fire! But if there’s a fire and I dial 911 I don’t go to jail! What’s in your suitcase? Have YOU ever been in jail?” Etc.).

But he also has had a hard time recently complying with requests that do not involve getting food or watching TV … and an even harder time grasping the connection between his failure to comply and the resulting consequences.

Hooper: Daddy! Stop yelling! I don’t like it when you yell at me!

Daddy: Hooper, if you’ll do what I ask you to do, then Daddy won’t have to yell at you.

Hooper: OK.

Daddy: So, what do you need to do to keep Daddy from yelling at you?

Hooper (quite sincerely): I don’t know.

*This was a couple of days after he dialed 911 on our room phone at the hotel at Disney World. Fortunately, because it was an internal phone, the call went to the front desk.

Film criticism as mathematics

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 12:32 pm

Ginmar has reduced cinematic critical theory to pure mathematics:

I need a new movie rating scale, based on how many werewolves it would take to make a movie palatable, or at least to keep its director alive. In the case of really horrible movies, we’re also going to have to have not just multiple werewolves, but also Martians and zombies, too. …For example, if you had a movie that had a slow-moving plot, you could both fix it and atone for it by adding werewolves. If you had a slow-moving plot and Tom Cruise, you’d need two werewolves plus one undead creature–a vampire or a zombie. If you had a slow-moving plot, Tom Cruise, and an insultingly stupid premise, you’d need three werewolves, plus one zombie and a Martian and at least three explosions. …

Now, if you want to talk serious werewolf and zombie useage, you have to talk any movie that has Michael Douglas in it playing anything but a rich elderly slimebag. … The only thing worse than Michael Douglas is Henry Jaglom movies and I don’t know if there’s enough werewolves to fix those. Henry Jaglom puts his friends in movies without scripts and sometimes they’re not even actors. The result is too painful for any werewolves, zombies, and Martians to fix. … I know I’ve sat through these movies wishing for werewolves and Martians to eat the actors and the director but I never got lucky.

Joe Bob Briggs, you’d better watch out: There’s a new sheriff in town.

Friday, January 13, 2006 8:07 pm

In the news

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 8:07 pm

My daughter has started doing something most kids her age, I’m told, will never do. She’s reading the paper. My response to this, oddly, is not unalloyed joy.

Take yesterday, for example. She read this story very quietly and seriously. The following conversation ensued:

Victoria: What is this story about?

Me: Well, um, it’s about how the police chief lost his job because he apparently was doing some things he shouldn’t have been doing and then lied about it.

Victoria: Was he spying on people?

Me: That’s what it says.

Victoria: Was he spying on black people?

Me: It says he had some other police officers spy on at least one black officer, yes.

Victoria (throwing hands in air): Why does everything have to be about what color people are?

Me: I wish I knew, sweetie.

Victoria: Daddy, are we going to have another war?

Me (wondering if she has changed the subject to Iran, or what): Uh, I don’t know, sweetie. What do you mean?

Victoria: Are we going to have another war where the black people are slaves?


Victoria: Because if we are, we need to buy my friends so they can be with us!


* * *

I’m sure it won’t be the last time, but for the first time in her life, my daughter has left me speechless.postCount(‘113720094174399697’); | postCountTB(‘113720094174399697’);


Just say yes

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:57 pm

I’m way too behind on my reading as it is to run out and buy this book — and I’m not sure I’d run even if I weren’t behind — but I’ve got to say the premise is intriguing:

Maria Dahvana Headley grew up listening to the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign of the 1980s. As a student at New York University in the late ’90s, she applied that advice to her love life, turning down most men who asked her out and dating only intellectual, literary types. Frustrated by those guys, she reversed course, resolving to spend one year responding positively to all flirting and saying yes to literally anyone who asked her out. The ensuing 150 dates included a homeless man, several non-English speakers, 10 taxi drivers, two lesbians and a mime.

Now that I think about it, being a mime would explain the behavior of a couple of women I once (and only once) went out with …

And you thought “The Birds” was just twisted Hitchcockian fantasy

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:22 am

Researcher: Early Man Was Hunted by Birds.

“I always get people gifts that I would want. Therefore, this year, you’re getting a gun.”

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:15 am

Things My Boyfriend Says. Actually pretty funny (some language NSFW). (Via .:DataWhat?:.)

Thursday, January 12, 2006 6:27 am

“Ebert & Roper” for people who talk like me, or, “That ain’t how you take a mug shot. First of all, it doesn’t even look like he put up a struggle.”

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:27 am

I’ve just stumbled onto a quasi-videoblog called “Red State Update.” In the premiere installment, Jackie and Dunlap critique Tom DeLay’s mug shot. (NSFW — language.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 9:56 am

Is this thing on?

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:56 am

Experimental fun with Google Maps:

UPDATE: The map script made a lot of people’s Web browsers choke and puke, so it’s gone now. Back to the drawing boards, I guess.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 10:11 pm

I’ve always thought that the meteorite that killed all the dinosaurs was a real hoot

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:11 pm

The Economist searches for history’s best pranks.

I (heart) Google Video; or, Why you shouldn’t mess with old ladies

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:09 pm

The skateboarders at the beginning of this clip are not relevant to the story.

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