March 2006 Archives

Check Out San Francisco


Forget where you were planning on going for your next vacation and get your plane tickets to Wine Country, California. In Napa Valley you can sample the finest wines that California has to offer, from whites to reds, dry to sweet, and affordable to take-out-a-second-mortgage.

Thanks to everyone for your enthusiasm on our return. Sofia and I have enjoyed sharing our stories from the trip, and now I'd also like to share some pictures. The Photo Gallery has a new collection that touches on the things we enjoyed while on the west coast.

Tonight I'm off to Austin for what will probably be the last time in a long while. Brother Craig & family are moving to Bartlesville, where now my entire immediate family (except Cody) will be living. They started packing this morning, and I'll be leaving immediately after work to help. If I planned this right, I'll be cruising in to town just when they finish loading the truck. :)

Happy Friday.

Bathroom Talk

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Last night I was using the urinal at a restaurant/bar when I hear a guy walk up behind me and say in a soft, childlike voice, "Come on buddy, let's go. Come on..." , almost as if he was doing a Mike Tyson impression. I was shocked, because this isn't something I'm comfortable hearing from behind even when my pants aren't already unzipped.

I turned my head slowly and noticed a largish guy standing directly behind me, looking down around waist-level. This made me do the same thing, looking at myself to see if I had a funny sign inadvertantly stuck to my posterior or something, all the while thinking of the words he had just spoken.

It was at this time I noticed the guy had a toddler with him, that he was presumably in there with to assist in his bathroom efforts. The relief swept over me like a Gitmo prisoner being released as I realized the guy wasn't trying to go Brokeback on me after all.

I was told my face was still red when I made it back to the table.

Hello From Texas

I'm simultaneously saddened and joyed to report that I'm back to my recently rain-soaked Dallas home. Sad, because my awesome vacation is now over; and joy because the aeroplanes and taxycabs delivered me safely here and not in an fiery ball of wreckage. And despite the recent news of airlines "losing" record amounts of luggage and selling it in a warehouse in Alabama, all of my checked luggage appeared on the baggage claim belt, though not until the bitter end when everyone else was already walking away with their own bags that looked confusingly similar to my own.

When you've been on a long vacation, part of you is always glad to get back to normality and the comfortable routine. I wasn't too pumped about going back to work today, but I didn't mind it so much either. Part of that was knowing that I only have two days to work until the weekend arrives. I have no doubt that next week I'll be banging on the alarm clock snooze button for half an hour, just like old times.

I was also happy to get back to my stuff. I was missing my dog, my bed, my tiny keychain pocketknife, my espresso, and my 2-ply toilet paper. Some things just aren't practical or legal to take on the plane, no matter how big your bag or how many "diplomatic pouch" stickers you put on it.

I'm attempting to prepare a 60-second summary of the things Sofia and I did while in California, knowing that I'll be (gladly) telling the story a dozen or more times in the next week. I want to try to include as much as possible without getting too wordy or inciting too much jealousy, so I'll practice here. I can elaborate if you ask.

We spent the first four days in Napa Valley and the next day in Sonoma Valley. During this time we must have visited about 20 wineries, where some of the products and experiences were more memorable than others. We didn't take many bottles of wine with us because most of it was really expensive. We ate at a few charming little French and Italian restaurants, though I hesitantly admit my favorite food was at a Bar & Grill we visited for lunch. The last three days were in San Francisco, where we did all the usual touristy things like visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods, Chinatown, Baker Beach, and Fisherman's Wharf. Although we didn't plan on using the car at all while there, there was surprisingly little traffic, so we drove on the incredibly steep hills and even Lombard St, the crookedest road in the world. The scenery was amazing everywhere and I dare say there was never a dull moment.

I took several hundred photos of our wine-country and hill-country adventures, which I will share here once I've filtered out the ones not suitable for the public (by that I just mean blurry and underexposed photos, of course). Some of the better ones will have captions because otherwise you won't know why I was taking pictures of some seemingly random barn out on the country-side. I'll give you a hint right now though: we didn't stay in a hotel the entire time.

Stay tuned...

Hello From California

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Just wanted to let everyone that cares know that Sofia and I are in California and enjoying ourselves tremendously. I'm typing this on the laptop over a cellular telephone connection that is so slow that carrier pigeons are starting to sound like a viable alternative.

Anyway, because you haven't noticed, I posted a few new pictures in the Photo Gallery (finally) that I took over our unofficial St. Patrick's Day festivities. Go have a look, though I'm too lazy to give you a direct link.

Abortions Are For Men, Too

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Whenever I see news stories about controversial human rights issues I dive into them like John Goodman on a Thanksgiving dinner. Listening to people disagreeing about what they believe they are entitled to makes me want to pop a bag of popcorn and pull up a cozy chair. There are few better ways to get people fired up than when they're exercising their "gimme" muscles.

So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that a certain group of men (The National Center for Men, I guess they like to be called) is filing suit to remove some dude's responsibility for paying child support to the mother of his unwanted kid.

I was initially swayed by their argument. "Hey yeah," I thought, "He didn't want the child, didn't get a say in whether to abort (since it's solely the woman's decision), so why should he have to financially support a choice he didn't make?"

Of course, this line of reasoning opens up a twenty gallon can of worms that scatter like Mexicans when you yell "immigration" outside the unemployment office. It didn't take me long to realize my position was on the other side of the fence. What's to prevent this from happening in a majority of the unwedded pregnancy cases, allowing guys to behave recklessly and not even have to skip town when their number comes up ? Ultimately, the necessary support of the child outweighs any inequity experienced by the father.

Personal responsibility may suck sometimes, but it's the moral fabric of society. Every guy knows the potential consequences of his actions when he starts playing the whack-a-mole game.

I would be fully willing to financially support my bastard child if I were given ample visitation rights. If I were denied rights to see the kid, and still forced into financial support, we would be going to court (hopefully not to Judge Judy). I don't think it would ever come to that though. My biggest complaint would be the inevitable delay of my early retirement, which can't possibly come soon enough as it is.

Since we're only discussing the financial aspect of childrearing, I'm not going touch on whether abortion is morally acceptable. But I will say that bringing an unwanted child into this world is setting everyone involved up for a lifetime of failure and resentment--and I mean that especially in the neglected kid.

I think forcing the father to pay up is cheaper for all of us in the long run anyway. If the father isn't forced to pay, then we as taxpayers will probably have to foot the bill as welfare to the mother. And as we all know, there's hardly enough welfare money to go around for single mothers to afford to feed their babies and buy crack the way it is.

If anyone is discouraged by the current state of affairs, let me remind you of the bright side: at least it's not like the old days where society forced you into marriage, too.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get a vasectomy.

Digital Shower Thermostats

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Well that's it. I'm fresh out of original business ideas now. I've been talking about inventing a digital temperature control system for showers for a year now, and never got around to building a prototype.

The idea is that you would have an LCD and digital control dial that would allow you to precisely select the temperature of your shower and regulate the pressure of the water flow. The system could maintain your selection easily through thermistors in the pipes and actuated valves you install behind your shower walls, which would be great for when some jerk flushes the toilet when you're rinsing your hair.Grohe Shower Thermostat

Today a company announces they have productized exactly my idea. I guess new ideas never happen in a vacuum, but now I wish I bothered to file for a patent on this in the United States.

Check out their solution at I dare say they did a much better job with this than I was planning to do. They even have a wireless control ! If it works as well as they claim, my hat is off to these guys.

I'm not sure if I can get one of these toys in this country. But I'm going to find out for my next house. I must have one.

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