Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A good life.

Things we have done in Oxford in the past 6 weeks:

Rollerskating on a Friday night at the local rink. Watching my adorable wife cruise around in a circle surrounded by a flock of very skilled skaters half her height. We were giants in a wholesome southern version of chucky cheese, on a Friday night. We had fun, even though it was hard to shake the feeling that we were a little out of place.

A Saturday afternoon trip to find the Amish community of Mississippi. I think it'll be more interesting to go snooping on a hot Summer day.

Evening walks at Rowan Oak with our pooches. (Faulkner's house.)

Going to the movies on Sunday night for 7.50 each. (The new Bond movie was very good, even though the financing family has a foul member.)

A dinner party with my boss and some coworkers, where the CEO attended and brought his family.

Sunday afternoon volleyball with an older group of professor types at a volleyball court in the middle of nowhere. Park on the side of the road and hike in.

Monday evening basketball with a co-ed group of coworkers and their significant others.

Late night walmart crawl, without feeling skeezy.

Saturday night at the Old Truck Theater. Four hours of bands and story telling in a barn, with the performers on the back of an old flatbed truck. $5 a head.

Fender bender with a car load of locals, the driver in her ninth month, and having her taken to the hospital in what might be labor. (She's fine, didn't go into labor. I was driving.)

Meeting my wife for a leisurely lunch at the sushi place downtown, and being back to work within the hour.

Striking up a conversation with John Hodgman on a Sunday afternoon while relaxing on the balcony at Square Books.

Go for long drives in the country, (on our never ending search for a farm) just minutes from the town center.

Read my wife's writing in the local paper.

Get scrumptious BBQ from a fellow with a weekend booth at the end of our road.

Go to Pilates four days a week. (That's Alexe, but it's a hoot to have a wife who does that.)

See familiar faces everywhere, and exchange greetings on the street after only 6 weeks of living here.

Spend an afternoon playing basketball in front of the office building, getting to know my developers. Worrying about how it looks and who's watching, until I realize it's an excellent way to spend my time, and no one will question me.

Spending a Sunday afternoon (when volleyball was cancelled) lying in a field with Alexe, talking about all sorts of things, as the two pooches investigated various things. Middle of nowhere, a 10 minute drive from the house we're renting.

Not needing a jacket to go outside, even though it's almost December.

I'm sure Alexe will remind me of things I've left out.
But it's a good life.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Not as novel today

So yesterday I found there were a couple articles about me in the news, and today I have heard from some friends that there are more.

I think it's fun to have some hits on google now, beyond the excellent copy Nicholas created for me on his site a few years ago. (Those pictures are pretty fun, and still up, if you want to go looking.)

It's an odd transition, from worker bee to decision making public face of a company. Odd in a fun, fulfilling, and well paid way.

One more toot of my horn:

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday

I'm posting mostly to get the mass of head shots spaced out a bit.

Last year on this day Alexe and I woke up in the dark of the early Virginia morning to drive to the nearest Walmart to get in on a sale item we wanted to purchase for our little sisters.
At 6 am the laptops were long sold out, even in po-dunk VA, so we wandered bleary eyed around walmart marveling at the insanity that supports the capitalistic social theory, found a crock pot for 4.88, bought it, (participating, I know), and were snoozing in bed again by 7.

This year I watched from the perch of my enlightened state as the flyers and ads sailed around the internet. We are actually in the market for a television; our laptops have become a bit eye-straining as our sole method of watching movies. Last night we went to Walmart, (a surprisingly clean a pleasant walmart, in this southern town where cheap can be acceptable as long as it's done appropriately) to shop for a tv/dvd combo. There was one on sale, $129, 20", dvd and vhs built in.

We had a gentle clash of aesthetics and fiscal responsibility. The tv on sale is a standard tv size, with that monstrous butt end sticking out the back. Which means it would be a piece of furniture.

It would harm our self image to have a television that looked like a piece of furniture. That's giving it too much position in our lives and home. We are both morally oppossed to tvs, but not so much that we don't indulge, frequently, in dvds.

So we started looking at the flat tvs, the 4 inch plasma things, that cost upwards of 6 times the bulky on sale version.

And we started negotiating, balancing funds in our heads, talking about the investment, the years of service, the internal dvd that would not have any wires, but would up the investment substantially. Then the 20" version, to 26", or a compromise of 23". Then make, and 16:9 vs 4:3 aspect ratios, and hdtv ready vs actual hdtv. We left the electronics section and chatted about it over a friendly session of tossing a football a few departments over. We went back, got comfortable with the idea of spending that much money, quickly became uncomfortable again. Wandered over to check if the hams were on their post-Thanksgiving sale, and then we went home.

We might revisit the issue after Christmas.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Taj Mahal

This is a picture from our trip to India earlier this year.
Many of you have heard about this trip, but some haven't.
I'll be slowly catching up on this year's activities.
I just like this picture. The Taj was closed the day we went. This is the closest we got.


Thanksgiving day.

We're about to head over to the house of some friend's across town. I stayed up late last night making pies. We're on the hook for 7, but since the refresher course in physics last night, we've only got 6.

(Quick explanation of that. I set a hot cherry pie on a non-stick cooling rack on the counter. Turned my back. It slid off the friction-free cooling rack, hit the counter with enough momentum to carry it to the edge of the counter, and then tipped off the edge. Hot glass pie dish, full of steaming cherry pie filling, landing upside down on a tile kitchen floor, at 1 am = no cherry pie from me.)

As you all know, we recently moved South. We left the freezing temperatures of VT, (literally, end of Sept was frost-season) and arrived in Mississippi to the equivalent of late August in VT. And it hasn't really changed for 6 weeks.

Alexe is on a towel on the back deck right now sunning herself after her shower.

It's late November.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shoes, Sh*t, and some other things

With a new outlet for my random thoughts, (this blog), I've found my mind noticing things during the day and storing them for exposition here.

This nifty organizational exercise of the brain is in direct conflict with the less-than-disciplined body that is supposed to sit down and spit them out into the glowing box.

Which leaves me with multiple things to write about by the time I actually sit down to write.

For funsies, rather than listing them, I've put in a the effort to find a common theme.

So rather than shoes and sh*t, (herein spelled as shit, sorry young-uns) I'm going to write about the girls in my life.

Following the seniority of these thoughts, and having NOTHING to do with ranking of any other sort, I'm going to start with Dido, my poodle-chow bitch.

Most of you know Dido, either as a lovable fuzz ball with high energy levels and an aggressive tongue, or as the spoiled disobedient jealous bitch that will pee on your bed if you pay attention to any other female of any species.

Less of you may know about her goose shit fetish. Anywhere, anyhow, she can sniff out that rank green mess and smear it down her neck and shoulders.

While living in Annapolis we used to make it over to the beach at Quiet Waters park almost every day, and almost every day the car ride home was a noxious trial of driving stick with one hand and keeping her at bay with the other.

On a cross country drive, she would find it at rest stops. Living in DC she could sniff out the tiniest scrap, likely dropped from 100 meters up, and work it down to the skin.

Why do I mention this now, this quirk of my dear dog? Because since our move to Mississippi, something has changed. She's moved on. She's discovered pig shit.

The other bitch in my life, Shadow, has a different approach to stinky leavings of other animals. She ingests them, for short periods of time.

Alexe and I took both of these pooches on a walk not 2 miles from our rented house in Oxford. Thacker Mountain is the highest local point and has a live weekly music/talent radio show named in its honor. The town converted the old railroad tracks at the base of this mountain (term used veeery loosely here) to a wonderful, if very straight, walk through the woods.

It was here that Dido discovered the pig poo. And it was here that Shadow found her dead possibly third hand something, and swallowed it whole, not sharing her find until she could get home and deposit it, accompanying the wretched smell with an equally gut-constricting sound track, next to the umbrellas at the foot of the stairs. The size of a small rabbit, though liquified enough to be recognizeable only as some sort of rodent.

And since I'm running out of steam, I'll wrap up quickly.

My darling wife, the lady of my dreams, and the most important girl of the three mentioned here, received her new pair of sneakers in the mail yesterday.

That makes 21 pairs of shoes. That I could count in the closet last night. But come to think of it, I didn't see her ll-bean boots. 22.

My common theme?

My girls are nuts.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Trolling for comments

Thank you for pointing this out Caitlin.

(You will notice commenting is now an option. Feel free to chime in.)


Three reasons for this blog:
1) Nicholas will have to start one of his own, and I'll no longer have to wonder what's going on in his life.
2) Most of my loved ones are over a day's journey away. The time we get together is precious, and I'd like to see what it's like to not spend those visits catching up on the little things.
3) When I pester my family and friends about letting their blogs stagnate, I won't be such a hypocrite. (Or maybe more of one. We'll see.)

There's much to catch up on.

Alexe and I have been married, traveled around the globe (Italy/India), built a cabin in VT, relocated from DC to Mississippi, had many adventures on the way, all in the past 14 months.

But I don't have the time or energy to go through all that.

Today I want to talk about starch.

I have always ironed my own clothes.

Though I toppled out of college into an absurdly well-payed job, I have yet to leave behind my starving-student fiscal policies.

At first the less-wrinkled look was achieved by hanging my wet laundry in my basement apt in DC and calling the dried shirts flat enough.

When Alexe and I were married we bought an iron (we used a gift card from my coworkers), and I started pairing the Sunday evening ironing sessions with movies or Scrubs re-runs. Pleasant enough, as I only had a few shirts to smooth out.

Then my darling wife instituted clothing allowances, a compromise between her allowance-ridden childhood and my NewEngland sensibility. Suddenly my work shirt count exploded to almost 10, and the ironing task became hours of steamy wasted time.

Which led to a decision a couple weeks ago, after 4 hours of ironing on a Sunday night: I don't want to do it anymore. (If you're asking, how in the world could 10 shirts take that much time to iron, let me tell you: I have very long arms, roughly equal to my inseam, and finding shirts that reach all the way down to my wrists is not a simple task. For fear of turning these precious finds into 3/4 length fashion items, I never dry them except by slowly forcing the water out with methodical applications of a hot iron.)

If I have a job that warrants ironing, and if Alexe can go to Pilates at the swank gym four days a week, I can spend 15 bucks (13 and change, actually) every two weeks on my shirts.

So, my darling wife both dropped off my shirts and picked them up from the cleaner.

And here's the thing: they're starched.
Stiff, flat, and soooo silky smooth. Yesterday was my first day at work in a professionally laundered shirt, and it was all I could do in meetings to stop from petting myself. The cuffs are so smooth. The gig line down my front, where the button holes are, is like a friction-free bobsled track. My pocket was actually glued shut, and it was endless fun to slowly unstick the deepest corners with my capped pen.

I don't know what they're using for starch nowadays. Apparently it was once potato peels, but however they put it in those spray cans, I think it's awesome.