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Inspirational Reads

My Son, the Jedi

April 30, 2007

Not a lot of things make me feel especially studly. Sure, bedding my buxom, redheaded wife is one of them, but one of the few others is either doing something that improves the house or fixing an appliance/machine that needs it. And, for the latter, get it to run as good as new.

That was just the scenario I was faced with this weekend. Last week, the drive belt that links the axle on which the lawnmower blade turns to the self-propulsion mechanism of the front wheels got chewed up by the blade. Fortunately, I had a spare lawnmower that I stupidly forgot to change the oil in last summer and thus pretty much seized everything up within. Nicely done. A very unstudly moment, to be sure. However, I was able to pull parts off of this old mower and figure out how the belt mechanism worked. I couldn't get the belt off, but I figured Lowes would have the correct replacement. After a 30 minute wait to talk to the guy to make sure the belt I picked up was the right one (and then 30 seconds to confirm...if that), I hustled home and began to fix the mower.

I was cleverly able to loop the belt around the blade so that I didn't have to take the blade off. After this, it was just another quick stretch and pull to get the belt through the opening in the housing for the blade to the pulley for the self-propulsion mechanism. A few twists and a flick to make sure it was tight, and I was back in business. I felt like many a bekilted Scotsman taunting the English after the battle of Stirling Bridge. As an end note, the mower runs as good as new. This was studly moment number one.

Sudly moment number two came on Saturday, when I decided I had had enough of watching Brady Quinn getting screwed and his falling stock, so instead I took my anger out on a light fixture above our kitchen sink that has largely been useless since we bought the house. It was an old (and I do mean old) fluorescent light that had no earthly use. Plus, the bulb was burnt out, and I just plain didn't like it. So, it had to come down. I bought some track lighting to replace it. However, I quickly discovered that the people who owned the house before us, or their contractors, or someone, are complete dolts. Instead of installing a box for the line to come through above the sink, they just had the electrical wires (and the insulation) sticking through a hole drilled in the ceiling. Class act, these folk. So, I wrestled and swore and swore some more and then finally got everything to fit the way I wanted it (if my son hadn't been asleep, I would have gone to get the box to fix it properly, which might be this weekend's project). I got the lights hung just in time before my wife came home, so it was a nice surprise. She, in fact, really liked it. Now, I can leave a light on for her at night when she is working that isn't the one over the stove, which burns out about every ten days. No lie.

So, because I was lazy, I took the old light fixture and laid it on the table in the dining room. I didn't think anything of it, but I did, later, take out the light fixture and such, but I left the bulb there. We'll fast-forward back to Sunday now. As I was preparing the kids' lunches, I was standing at the fridge getting some water from the filter so that I could microwave some macaroni and cheese (modern conveniences are even more wonderful when you've got kids to feed) when here comes my little boy (who is two and a half) into the kitchen, wielding the fluorescent bulb. He came in holding it in front of him and then, when he made sure that I could see him, he stopped, spread his feet shoulder-width apart and then held the bulb up over his head. At the same time, he made this face where he was gritting his teeth and scowling, as if he was trying to frighten off his enemies. In all, he looked quite the young Jedi standing there, ready to face off against Darth Vader.

The funny thing is, this must be a genetic thing because he's never seen a Star Wars-related thing before. My daughter has watched the Clone Wars cartoons with me, but other than that, there's not been too much Star Wars watching with my kids around. Clearly this is a case of genetic nerdiness fandom. As amused as I was, fluorescent bulbs are notoriously fragile and, with the glass being so thin, they tend to form razor-sharp shards when they shatter. Neither of these scenarios is exactly copacetic when it comes to two year olds. I was able to get him to hand me the bulb and I quickly disposed of it properly.

Oh, by the way, if you've had a really bad day working at the book store or something, the sound of long fluorescent bulbs shattering against the back of a steel dumpster is very, very rejuvenating. Or so I've heard.

Leonard Cohen Afterworld

April 24, 2007

I think from the last two titles of my update threads, you can guess what I listen to while typing. Actually, it's random, but these two songs have popped up right when I went to put the finishing touches on my blog updates.

I felt this one was appropriate, given that I just pounded out the last lines to the final chapter in my book. This is not to say that I'm finished, merely that I finally finished chapter 31, which is the final chapter in the book (not counting the epilogue). It was a long, strange ride getting there, too. I actually had to delete about three pages of my first attempt, repaste them, and then go back and edit and re-edit the parts between where I hadn't cut and where I repasted. Eventually, I got that part right (or right enough for now) and the remainder of the chapter just flowed. It flowed so well that the chapter I was intended to be between 12-14 pages ended up being 22 pages.

There was some extra, tricky stuff involved in this chapter. I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, but I didn't know how to pull a couple of things off. I'll have to have my wife read through the passages, to make sure they aren't TOO awful. If anything, I really, REALLY strive to avoid camp, cliche stuff in my writing. For these particular scenes, I tried laying the foundation throughout the other chapters concerning these characters. We'll see if it worked.

So, that does it. That wraps up the story arc for one set of my characters. I still have the penultimate chapter, in which all the main characters are brought together in battle form (with kung fu grip), but that's a battle scene and critical to the entire story; it's not critical to the development of these two characters so much as it is for the entire story overall.

I'm rambling because I'm so effing tired.

So, to recap, it's easier to tell you what I DON'T have done at this point (and where I am on those chapters): 10 (3 pages finished), 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29 (nothing done), 30 (five pages done). Sadly, it's not looking like the end of the month to finish this is doable. I have made some big strides with chapter 10 and look to finish that and possibly one other by the end of the month.

The numbers:

Page Count: 437
Word Count: 133,821

More later in the week. My brain's about to melt.

Welcome to the Fold, Antimony

Now, I'm not the kind of guy who goes out of my way to try some fancy, exotic transition-metal catalyst. However, there are some I will trumpet from the tops of the mountains (such as ytterbium (III) triflate, which I used at my old job to do just about everything). When I come across a method for making something that I can't get done under some other, simpler way, I will use the new and exotic method. Plus, it's cool when you can use something new. In the back of my mind, I've kept a running tab of all the spots on the periodic table where I've used an element. It's sadly nerdy, but I am a chemist, after all.

In light of my inability to do certain types of palladium-based coupling reactions, I've had to find a new route to developing the SAR around our superduperriffic compound that we've been making and testing. One way, instead of coupling the free amine sticking off a heterocycle with an aryl bromide, is to try displacing a chloride off the heterocycle SNAr-style with an aniline or an aliphatic amine. The problem is, how does one go from an amino group to a displacable aryl halide?

Simple: you diazotize the amine in an aqueous acid and then convert the hydroxy group to a chloride using the appropriate reagent. I was doing this in two steps using NaNO2 in HOAc followed by stirring in warm POCl3 for a couple of hours. This was working great...until someone else in my company decided to paint the inside of their hood bright-ass yellow by means of an angry flask of POCl3 (hence known as "Pockle-3"). My safety-conscious company has decided to start making sure such volatile reagents, such as Pockle-3, are in the hands of people who know how to handle them. This is not a bad thing; at my old company, the procedure was to cool the Pockle-3 in an ice bath and then chuck in whole chunks of ice while stirring to induce things to crash out and then pour off the Pockle-3/ice/water solution from HELL. Usually into a mixture of halogenated and non-halogenated solvents. My old company wasn't big on safety. Or chemistry.

I digress. Now, enter me, who is staring at the dubious task of trying to make multiple grams of material with the chloride in place (a fluoride would probably work better, but I REALLY don't want to work with DAST). This would mean several multi-milliliter reactions featuring Pockle-3. Not wanting to have to do a safety review on each of the reactions, I decided to find a way around this mess. As it turns out, you can treat the amine in question with t-butyl nitrite in DCM with a little bit of dichloroacetic acid around to diazotize the amine and then addition of antimony(III)chloride will substitute the diazocompound with a chlorine (this can also be done with bromines, as well, using the appropriate brominated compounds). Boom. There it is. One step. Sure, the process takes two days, but between diazotizing, purifying and then hitting the hydroxy with Pockle-3 also takes about two days. Unfortunately, my compound, as unyielding as the relentless pounding of the surf against the shore, only formed the chloride in ~20%. ~70% was the hydroxy with ~10% left over as unreacted starting material. So much for great strokes of genius.

So now I've decided to just put up with the safety committee and go before them, goggles in hand, to be educated as to the ways of dealing with Pockle-3. In the meantime, this was the first time I had ever used an antimony compound. I know that salts of antimony can be used to kill the worms that cause leishmaniasis (I actually asked a girl out in high school whose name was Laurie Leish); unfortunately, the antimony salts also kill the people infected with the disease.

However, this allowed me to fill in one more spot on my "I've used that!" periodic table. Behold:

Sure, some of them are cop-outs, such as I use carbon everyday and most of the time nitrogen is in a ring, or some such. I've never actually taken nitrogen and tried to get it to bond with a transition metal or something. However, I have used the nitrate to do the diazotization reaction. Likewise, I've only ever used cesium in cesium carbonate form (damned fine base, by the way), but it's still cesium. You'll note I highlighted technecium; I'm not sure what technecium can be used for, since it's radioactive and (mostly) man-made. However, I had it shot into me, as outline in the first part of The Ordeal that I wrote about months ago.

So, there you have it. One more box colored in. I'm half tempted to color in thorium, since I've nicknamed my rotovap "The Mighty Thor". I feel that rotovaps work better if you stroke their egos before using them.

Another Sad Remembrance

I promise, I'll pick up some more lighthearted posts, but while we were all in shock and dismay over the happenings at Va. Tech (I saw today that People and such rags are ca$hing in on the tragedy...well done) and my quick memorials over Johnny Hart and Kurt Vonnegut, I completely missed that Brant Parker also died, eight days after friend and partner Johnny Hart. Mr. Parker was 86. He died of complications due to Alzheimer's disease.

This would complete the old adage of "they die in threes" as these three men (Hart, Vonnegut and Parker) were all peripheral heroes of mine. I did not necessarily idolize their work, but I certainly did appreciate it, or them, as is the case with Vonnegut.

Much like B.C., a large amount of Wizard of Id's humor was based on puns. A lot of time there would be glib political humor worked in, as well. One thing that always amused me about the strip was the Wizard himself; as a chemist, you can probably imagine why I enjoy him most of all.

For the past ten years, Brant Parker's son, Jeff, has been drawing the strip (and doing an admirable job, I must add) and will continue to do so. This is good news as I can continue to enjoy this sort of old-school humor that these two strips embrace every morning when I should be doing updating my notebook or some such.

Careful readers might be able to spot a tribute I had 'created' to both Hart and Parker, when and if King of Shadows is every published.

While We're All Somber...

April 19, 2007

...I thought I'd write a little bit about a couple of legends and personal heroes that we've lost over the past few weeks: Kurt Vonnegut and Johnny Hart.

Vonnegut died April 11th at the age of 84. I've never taken the time to sit down and read an entire Vonnegut novel, but I'm familiar enough with his work that I've always admired it. One of the themes that constantly appeared in his works was what we now would call 'science fiction', but was largely looked at as being just a bit 'out there' at the time of publishing. In this way, I feel he was one of the pioneers of the genre; perhaps not a founding father like H.G. Wells or Jules Verne (and definitely not THE father, like Tolkien is considered for modern fantasy literature), but he was unquestionably before his time. Perhaps one of the most interesting concepts for a book that I've ever heard of was the plotline for Timequake, which was recommended to me many years ago and I still haven't picked up. However, once I'm finished with Tad Williams' newest offering (and writing my own...), I'm planning on finally following through on the recommendation.

Vonnegut was born and raised in Indianapolis, which is one of the reasons that I admire him. Despite the city and the state's clear difference with his political and religious beliefs, he always loved Indianapolis and Indiana. When asked, after living in New York for over 30 years, if he was a New Yorker or a Hoosier, he quickly responded "Hoosier" before the rest of the question was finished. I feel much the same way. I may have left the state, but the state has never left me. His pithy social commentary as well as his well-planned stories has made him an icon. But, my favorite memory of Vonnegut will always be his ability to make fun of himself in the movie "Back to School." I'm not a big Rodney Dangerfield fan (of course, no one was...zing!), but when Vonnegut showed up in the movie and then wrote a paper about himself (which subsequently got a failing grade), it showed that here was a man considered by many to be a social and cultural icon who could still come down out of the tower for a while and take a jab at himself, which I think is an applaudable, terribly human quality.

Johnny Hart died the night before Easter. Fittingly, he was sitting at his drawing board, working on another comic. He was 76. Hart was creator of two of my all time favorite daily comics: B.C. and Wizard of Id, the latter being a co-creation with friend Brant Parker. I've appreciated both of them over the years for their sociopolitical commentary as well as their bad puns. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a sucker for a truly offal pun. The stinkier, the better. Ahem.

Hart might best be remembered for his strongly Christian cartoons that would run around the major Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter, especially in the Sunday papers. Often, it was amazing to see how well a story could be put together in a few colored frames. B.C. was often more overtly Christianed in theme. I'm not sure if he meant it to be that way, since the cast of B.C. should have been alive over a million years before Christ showed up, making it all the more ironically amusing. However, even now, I can't make it through the day properly without first checking out the latest installment of both B.C. and Wizard of Id. Fortunately, Hart had several strips already drawn and saved and his family has promised to help keep the strip going strong, even in the wake of his death, so I can go on for several more years drinking my morning coffee and smiling over today's punny comic.

Here's to Vonnegut and Hart: two men who will definitely be missed around here. *pours out a little beer for both*

You Stay Classy, Miami

So, while we're all still either in shock or coming out of shock, there's this little bit of sunshine from the University of Miami in Florida (Miami of Ohio could NEVER be this kind of class act).

If you're so worried that you need extra security to protect against the isolated event of one madman, then why don't you just have the football team travel with you. No need to pay the extra guards when you have your own built-in arsenal ready to travel at will. We know that they can roll off the bus wearing camo and pretending to be the army. They're warriors, after all. Just ask Florida International. They know how the Hurricanes of Miami can be scrappy when backed into a corner.

What a sick, lame, pathetic institution this is.

But, you know, they're taking steps to clean it up down there. I mean, the new coach of the football squad, Randy Shannon, has put down a rule saying no more guns for players. Groundbreaking, that. And, of course, there's Donna Shalala with her hardline attitude toward players who embarass the team: suspend them for the game against Duke. Duke! Powerhouse of ACC football. Nicely done.

This just sickens me. But then, look at the source. Of all the schools in the country, I would expect something like this to come from Miami. They're clearly not living in the same reality as the rest of us. Offer condolences, sure! Oh, by the way, we'll have our armed guards deliver the flowers. Un-effing-believably pathetic.

Prayers for the Maroon and Orange

April 18, 2007

Rather than just gloss over it and try to ignore it, I thought I'd offer my little bit of condolences for the people of Virginia Tech. I have no real ties to the school, but living in the Raleigh-Durham area, I have some friends who went to Va Tech, my wife's cousin went to Va Tech, and I've visited the campus while visiting with some friends from nearby Radford University. When I was in undergrad, I interviewed an engineering student at Va Tech for a project in my computer science class, so I'm familiar with some of the people who make up Hokie Nation. Plus, as a college football fan, I have respect for Virginia Tech in that they are, consistently, a good program. Unfortunately, they're in a lousy league.

But, I digress. This isn't about football (as the school and head coach Frank Beamer have shown in recent days) and it isn't about fine academics or rich tradition: this is about a tightly-knit campus that has gone through unspeakable horror and tragedy. Both my undergrad (St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, IN) and my graduate school (Notre Dame) were fairly tightly-knit campuses. Both have a strong sense of family attached to them. I couldn't imagine (and frankly, wouldn't want to) something like the massacre at Virginia Tech taking place at either institution. Truly, my heart, thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, the friends, the families and all of Hokie Nation.

Unfortunately, while we're all trying to wrap our minds around how and why such tragedies happen, there has been a lot of finger-pointing. Hindsight being what it is, we've already heard about how there could have been so much done to avoid the second shooting, where the true bloodbath took place. I, unfortunately, can't buy that the school should have been shut down, especially given that the first shooting appeared to be targeted and the result of a "domestic" dispute. Besides, if the guy was on campus anyway, he would have found more people to shoot, if that was his grand desire/scheme (as it appeared to be). I am hoping that the university president (Steeger, I think his name is) won't be forced out of office over this as it was not his fault. I heard this morning that President Steeger (and if I'm misspelling his name, I apologize) has basically spent his entire life at Virginia Tech, from student to faculty to dean to administrator. No one can love his institution more than he, and I'm certain that, despite his stoic handling of the media and the barrage of questions lobbed at him every minute, he is torn apart on the inside.

So, here's a call (albeit a modest one) for us all to unite with our thoughts and prayers, to allow the victims to heal, and for us not to forget this tragedy, but also to not wildly throw about accusations and point fingers. It is a sad day for our nation and a sadder day for Va Tech. Now, let us take the first steps toward recovery.

My Heart-Shaped Box

April 17, 2007

Last night, my power came on around a quarter after eight, and I sat down (after settling the kids back down once more) and began typing, but the power was still kind of...questionable. Plus, I had no internet, so when I came to a place where I needed to look something up, I was helpless. If you remember what happened a couple of days ago when the power blinked and the computer was on...well, you can see why I only wrote about four pages before abandoning ship last night. That meant that tonight, after the children were bathed and the trash was removed from the premises, that I would have to follow through on my "I'm not going to bed until..."

Well, I'm going to bed. And I'm taking the whole gang with me.

I finished chapter 25 late last week. I also started chapter 30 and pushed a little further on in chapter 31 (I'm settling on an ending that I like, and it brings all of the elements of the story together and ties them up all convenient-like). The big news, though...I finally finished chapter 7.

If you were Pat Shannon, you'd be doing a NADS dance now (the National Association of Dynamic Students, of course). In fact, I almost felt like doing a NADS dance when I wrote the words "He knew he would get little sleep this night." just moments ago. In fact, I'm still a little giggly.

So, the only "out of place" chapter remains 10, which is all of 1-page long, but with 7 done and the people and such set in place for that to take place, it should be easy to get it done soon, too. But, of course, I think I'm going to finish up 31 and maybe even try to finish 30 (I learned when writing King of Thistles that you need to pay specific attention to who lives and dies through the course of a battle, so that dead men (and women) don't show up in the final chapters of the story after their demise a couple of dozen pages earlier. This can sometimes be tricky when you write in a non-linear fashion, like I do. I can't just sit down and write "Page 1" and keep going until I hit "Page 500" or whatever. I have to jump around, because then it keeps it exciting for me. That's why I also switch viewpoints between characters from chapter to chapter, to keep my readers' attention, as well.

So, here's the run down:
Word Count: 127737
Page Count: 417

I'm looking at maybe ~130,000 words and ~525 pages. Not too shabby, for a "first" novel.

There will be more coming soon. I promise. April is almost over. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the knights from Final Fantasy Tactics.

Lab McGuyverism

April 16, 2007

When in a pinch, an average wood screw (I believe this was about a 2 and 1/2 inch, number 8) will substitute for a glass cutter. Two or three scores down the back of your TLC plate and a soft tap with the bottom of an acetone wash bottle will leave you with a nicely halved plate, so that you can throw away the results of the column you ran last week but keep the results of the reactions you ran in parallel on the same day.

Wood screws in organic chemistry: not just for illustrating chirality anymore.

An Update on the Updates

I'm trying to get through to someone to fix my power at home. It went out this morning around 10:00 am or so. It's not yet back on, but "crews are working on my outage" and yet "there is no timetable as to when your power will be back on." I need to get a hamster and a big wheel.

Sorry for the extended absence, but I took the last four days off. Last week was my daughter's spring break, and we went to the zoo (what a disappointment) on Thursday and then did some shopping and cleaning on Friday and Saturday. I did manage to wedge some more writing in during that time, as well.

I'm not at home, however (obviously, since there's no power there...and no promise of power), but if I do get power this evening, I've sworn to NOT sleep until I have finished the chapter on which I'm currently working. Things have fallen into place, and now I can finish this one and move on toward another chapter. And, I've started writing the climactic battle scenes at the end, so all is good. Things are wrapping up nicely.

In the meantime, feel free to check out a couple of other new blogs I've linked to recently. Ex-Everything is run by the lovely and talented Hottsmugirl from, also known as Kiraa and the girl who made me wet my pants last week when she posted in my comments section. Though I don't agree with her take on music, there are some lovely pictures of her pussy for everyone to enjoy. And, I must say, it's very cute. (That's what you get for pointing out R.E.M.'s shortcomings!)

The other new link is Soupe du Jour, which is run by my very good friend and former room mate Steve Giles. This is great because Steve's recently gone through culinary school and is now working as a sous-chef (I believe) and he seems to be enjoying it quite a bit. Not only that, but he's touched on some great things like the history of spices and their uses in cultures and such. Hopefully there will be more of this in the future, but it's his blog, let him run with it. But, me being the chemistry and food dork that I am (I just finished R. Wolke's second food chemistry book), have found Steve's first two posts to be quite enjoyable. See, that's what happens when you DON'T knock R.E.M.

As for more, hopefully I will have power tonight and I will be able to finish up the chapter I'm currently typing and then I will post about it, as well. Otherwise, I'm just going to have to lay down on that fine new mattress I bought over the weekend.

I'm Glad I'm Not in Dixie, Hooray, Hooray.

April 10, 2007

Not a whole lot of things truly make me sad enough to shed a tear. Most of you know the big ones: gall stones the size of dimes, Brett Favre sort of retiring but not, extracting nosehairs, Scarlett Johansson wearing a shirt, etc...

But this is one of those moments akin to throwing an empty soda can at the foot of an American Indian.

Having just "popped the cap" ourselves in North Carolina, I was hoping that the "Free the Hops" movement would have gained some momentum (first it was Georgia, then North Carolina, and now both South Carolina and, sort of, Alabama are looking to shuffle off their archaic abv laws) and that the good people of Alabama would have decent beers to drink while preparing to head down to Gulf Shores for a week of merriment. No such luck for them, I guess (or for me, either, in case I ever vacation in Gulf Shores ever again, which was a nice little town, just devoid of any good beers). Hope you guys (and gals) love those 6% abv and under beers. Oh, yeah, and the stigma and stereotyping of being a bunch of backwards jackasses. There's that, too.

The truly sad thing is the ignorance thrown about, allegedly "in the name of the children". The worst: "All this bill will do is help our young people get dead faster."

Wow. I like the reasoning, though. Sure, craft and "gourmet" beers are usually more expensive and Budweiser and Miller are only the two most popular beers among underage drinkers (and all beer drinkers...huh...coincidence?), but the price won't be a deterrent. Young people will still find a way to drink these higher abv beers! It's not like they won't go to Tennessee, Georgia or Florida to get them under the current regime law. It will also allow people to get drunker faster, despite the fact that you won't be "drunker" faster, just "drunker" longer. But, what can you do? Aside from ship them some contraband Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, that is.

Popcorn and Crackerjack

April 9, 2007

Baseball season is finally upon us. Really, I consider baseball season as that long, lonely time between the end of the college basketball season and the beginning of football season (both forms of the American game) sprinkled in with some random MLS action on weekend afternoons. You see, I grew up a sCrubs fan, but after 2003 when Dusty Baker rode Mark Prior and Kerry Wood into the playoffs and then threw Prior under the bus after the Bartman incident, not to mention ruining both Prior and Wood's arms ('re next) all the while mismanaging the bullpen and not effectively using Kyle Farnsworth throughout the season...and then STILL being employed the following season, I've given up. I watched a sum total of one sCrubs game last season, and that was while I was shooting pool with my dad. Turned out, that was the only game the sCrubs won at home during the month of June. Let's all say it together: "pathetic".

Also, in the subsequent years, the World Series was won by the Red Sox and the White Sox and I haven't yet stopped throwing up from the Red Sox winning and I'm still bitter about asshole Sox fans who, when offered congrats from a sCrubs fan responded with "Fuck you, we won it first, ha ha ha ha ha!"

Ah, thank you for my rant. Now, back to regularly scheduled programming.

It's baseball season in the minor leagues, too, and I happen to live in the home of "America's favorite minor league franchise, the Durham Bulls!". In case you were wondering why they have that moniker, I believe it has something to do with the movie Bull Durham. If you watch it, you actually can see some of the buildings near my old work in the downtown tobacco warehouse district. It's since been (mosty) cleaned up, and the area around the ballpark is really nice. (Incidentally, while Bull Durham was shot in Durham, I couldn't identify anything familiar in The Rookie, which did, allegedly, spend some time in Durham...also...the old ballpark from Bull Durham is where the World Beer Fest is held in the fall).

So, last night, as a special Easter/Spring Break treat for my kids, we bundled up and headed out to the old ball park to take in the game against the Syracuse Sky Chiefs. Happily, the Bulls won, but since it took longer to wake my little boy up than I planned, we missed the first inning (which featured a two-run-dinger for the good guys) and didn't get a chance to score the game, which is something I love doing for some reason. However, the true fun was all the stuff the kids got. Since it was chilly, I went ahead and bought them both hats at the team store and, since they were getting hats, I bought a hat for myself. Then we went and found our seats, hung out for a little bit, and then we got peanuts (my daughter LOVES to crack the peanuts out of the shell and eat them) and a pretzel and some drinks and then later split a funnel cake (although my little boy just licked it to get the powdered sugar off...hopefully that strain of strep we've been sharing is good and dead). During the course of the game, a guy came by with baseballs that he retrieved from behind the Bull (the Bull's eyes light up and smoke comes out its nostrils when a Bulls player hits a home run...if you've seen Bull Durham, you know what I'm talking about) and he gave each of my kids a ball.

So, they got ballpark food, baseball hats, and baseballs. But then, on Sundays, the groundscrew allows the kids to come out and run around the bases after the game. So, we decided to do that, and since both of my children fall under the 7-and-under group, they got to run together. I asked my daughter if she wanted me to go with them, and she said no, that she would take care of her brother while they were out there (she's five, he's two). Well, they herded them together, and I think my little boy was confused as to what was going on, so when they sent my daughter running, he got left behind and then kind of fell back in the pack. Finally, he figured out what to do and took off down the first base line. However, since it was Easter, the Easter Bunny was about halfway between home plate and first base, handing out high-fives. My little boy ran up, gave him a high five, and kept going...for about five more steps. He then turned around and tried to get the Easter Bunny's attention.

Now, the heir to my vast empire is following along nicely in his father's footsteps in that he shows an equal amount of fascination with pretty blonde girls in tight khaki pants. Fortunately for him, just such a creature appeared and took his little hand and ran with him around first base and down to second base, where she handed him off to Wool E. Bull, the Durham Bulls mascot. I'm sure this was part of his plan all along. He's an evil genius. I feel sorry for the girls at Notre Dame in 16 years.

Here, Wool E. Bull took my boy's little hand and ran with him down to third base...and this was broadcast on the big scoreboard screen in left field. So, there was my child, running with the Bull, down to third. The camera stayed on him as he rounded third and Wool E. Bull trotted back to the nearest china shoppe second base while my little boy brought it home to score the run. There, my daughter was waiting for him, we were all reunited, and everyone had a wonderful time. If the video ever pops up on YouTube or some other outlet like that, I'll be sure to post it.

All-in-all a good night. We're headed back tomorrow night. Hopefully, it will be warmer.

Happy Easter!!!

April 8, 2007

Hopefully you are all gorged out on Easter Ham and Cadbury Eggs. Lord knows I am, and that you and yours will have a happy Easter.

I was going to do something special featuring one of my all time favorite cartoon episodes, but no such luck finding it on YouTube, so I'll just have to give you the link to Easter Yeggs. Enjoy.

I want an Easter egg, I want an Easter egg, I want an Easter egg...

The Century Mark

April 4, 2007

Thanks to my cheap-o update earlier in the day with Dr. Rat's revelation of the unifying theory of quantum physics and such, this is post number 100. All these posts with all these words, and still nothing of real import has been said. Sad, really.

Anyway, so, I promised a book update, and so I thought I would offer it. Between sickness, tournaments, trying to get the house cleaned up, home improvement projects, really nice weather and, well, general laziness, I've not been real diligent in my writing of late. However, I was thinking about this the other day while sitting on the bridge on Duke St. (a place where I get stuck every day on the daily commute home) and I realized I--according to my spreadsheet--have only nine chapters left to finish. Wow. I knew I was getting close, but that's less than ten. That's less than a third. And, taking into account that several of those chapters are started and orphaned for the time being, that's even less of the book to complete (probably down between a fourth and a fifth or so).

That led me try and redouble my efforts toward typing, so I've actually been doing more of that lately. It's very nice, especially since I can have the windows open (for the time being) and enjoy the lovely spring breezes (for the time being) that feel more like summer (for the time being). Plus, I can listen to the deer walking through my yard. Keen.

So, my goal is to try and finish this thing by the end of the month. That is, getting all of the words onto "paper" and the story wrapped up. That doesn't include finishing the reread/rewrite process (caveat, I know), but it does involve starting it.

To that end, I've been hitting chapter 25 hard. It's about two thirds done. I've got it to the place where I might be a little stuck, only because I'm not sure how a certain set of characters should react to meeting the other characters. It's the initial meeting that bothers me, not the entire meeting. I know where to go next with that.

And then I started 31, which is the final chapter. I still have more to write, but so far what I've constructed for the final pages of the book really please me. I've built in the "not so happily ever after" ending that I want and wrapped up at least one storyline and tied it together. To say I'm pleased with myself would be an understatement; terribly egotistical, but also very true. At least I can admit that flaw.

I'm hoping to have both 25 and 31 finished by week's end. I think I would take a step back and do 30 next, which is the ultimate battle scene, as opposed to 29, which is the penultimate (I added this only to write the word 'penultimate'...I need more sleep).

Okay, I'm rambling, and I apologize. Here's the run down:

Word Count: 119069
Page Count: 387

This is turning out to be exactly what I wanted size-wise. I'm very pleased with myself. And now my enormous, inflated head and I are going to go lay down.

Edit: I forgot that to mention that I'd post some more "fun" updates later in the week. I downloaded a drawing program that is better than Paint (I hope) and I'm going to be doing some extra work on some images that tie in with my book (and will be shown more readily elsewhere). I like painting pretty pictures.

The True Meaning of Science

April 3, 2007

I'm not overly fond of myself when I post cartoons and count that as a posting, but I have honestly been busy writing (and I'll give an update toward that this evening when I get home and get things settled down and taken care of there). I feel it's sort of a cheap way of "updating" my blog and it doesn't really give any insight into any of the wide range of subjects I dabble in here.

That being said, you can't argue with results like what the good Dr. Rat has found here.

I think we'd all be a little less skeptical if he had an LC/MS or IR to back up his findings. But he did reference physics, and we all know that physics is just a bunch of made-up hoo-ha filled with numbers that none of us can challenge.