June 30, 2005



Well, it was bound to happen, but my dirty little blogging secret and I have been uncovered by a former co-worker. Tracy and I used to work together at The Bad Place before we both became quitters. And, until she up and got married and moved far, far away, she and My Friend Jeff and I (and a few others) used to get together for lunch with some frequency.

It's been a while since we spoke, because her husband keeps her locked in a windowless cellar, and also because I am too lazy to write an actual letter to anyone, preferring instead to waste all my time blogging. Anyway, it was certainly a surprise when she popped in, although quite a pleasant one, I must say.

As long as she keeps this whole secret double life of mine on the QT, that is.

OH, and don't believe anything she says about me. Unless it's nice.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:38 PM | Comments (12)


Remember those? I had one when I was a kid--it was all part of that excitement about space and science back before the phrase "If we can put a man on the moon, you'd think we'd be able to [insert relatively simple task here]" was coined. Pretty cool toy. Then again, we didn't have GameCubes.

ANYway, the other day I had Jonathan and Catherine with me and we were at the grocery store and passed by the toy aisle. Of course, they had to stop and start looking at the wonderful world of cheap plasticware that China pumps out, and in that perusing, Boy found a gyroscope. He'd never seen one before--"Is it a top?"

"Well, kinda--you can make it balance on stuff, like on a string, and you can also use it as part of the guidance system on the ICBM you're building in your room." COOL!

Remembering my own hours of pleasure exploring rotational inertia, I figured a buck was worth spending. Got it home and found I wasn't quite right about that.

In the world of cheaply produced toys, this one is right up there as one of the worst. The cage around the flywheel is flexible, meaning one wrong tug of the toothed plastic pull handle (nope--no old-fashioned strings for this baby!) meant you were holding two unworkable parts in your hand instead of just one functioning gyroscope. Add to this the axle pivots that would sieze up without warning if you ever DID get is spinning, which would send the whole works skittering across the table. And that darned pull handle--pull it too hard, and it would just strip out of the teeth on the wheel. Pull it too soft, and the gyroscope wouldn't gyro OR scope.

But, even with those drawbacks, when we could get it working, it was quite the pleasing sight. The main problem being that Catherine was terribly hurt that she could never get it to work right. In a fit of ill-advised daddy-will-make-it-rightism, I promised her I would get her a gyroscope that she could use.


"Uh, well, sometime. I'll have to find one."

In the intervening month, she has pestered me nearly every day about the status of her gyroscope purchase. "Sometime, Sugar--that is, unless you keep asking about it, in which case I might forget all about it."

"Don't worry, Daddy--I'll remind you!"


ANYway, while I was home yesterday, it occurred to me that I needed to fix supper, and it further occurred to me that we needed some meat for supper, and it further occurred to me that since I was going to have to go shopping anyway, and since I had a bit more time than usual, maybe I could take Cat with me and we could finally find her a suitable gyroscope.

She was quite pleased by this proposal.


First stop, down at the foot of the hill across from the hardware store, there's one of those places that sells school supplies and teaching things. It's called Teaching Things. We walked in and Cat ran off to go look at the bright shiny things, and the lady at the counter asked me if I needed some help.

"Yes, do you have gyroscopes?"

I knew from the blank look she had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.

"You know--the spinny thing kinda like a top?"

"Ohhh. Uhhmm. I don't think so." She asked another lady, "Do we have gyroscopes?"

"Uhhm, well, if we do, they might be over here." No. "Oh! Let's look in the catalog!" said one to the other, who agreed that this was a great idea.

First stop, science toys. Nope. "I don't suppose we have them then."

Not to be outdone, I asked, "Not even under the Gs?"

"OH, hadn't even thought about that!" She dutifully turned over to the G section and started at the top--you know "Giro--" I glanced at the bottom of the list and saw it wasn't on there, "G-Y-R--I don't think you have them, ma'am." She agreed.

Off to the next stop with Cat in tow--"Could we get something else not a gyroscope?" No. This is now a quest, and to settle for less would be an admission of defeat. Not gonna happen. "No, baby--we'll look around a bit more and find one. How about we go to Target?!"

She agreed. I thought I remembered them having a section of toys for those stylish parents who want their children to grow up to be very smart. Well, doggone it, how smart will they be if they don't have gyroscopes!? Not a single one anywhere. Not even one by Michael Graves.

"Can I get a kitty?"

"No, you've already got too many stuffed kitties. You don't have a gyroscope. Let's go one more place." I had a vague recollection of a small toy shop in one of the strip malls nearby, but it must have just been some sort of dream or something. "Hmm--well, let's go to Wal-Mart!"

Hooray for Wal-Mart! They have EVERYthing!

Except for gyroscopes. "Can I get this kitty, PLEEEEEEEASE? Please, Daddy? I'll be good!" "Put it on your Christmas list for Santa Claus--now, let's go get some meat for supper." Grr.

Does NObody have gyroscopes anymore?!

Oh, of course they do--you just have to know where to look. Although, if I'd been unsuccessful this time, I was just going to cave and buy her a stuffed kitty. My store of last recourse? Homewood Toy and Hobby Shop. One of those stores that have been around forever, and one in which I spent many hard-earned childhood dollars. Obviously, I had to look around at all the model kits before I actually got around to looking for the gyroscope. Ah, such memories. I used to have a huge collection of plastic models.

ANYway--things to do. I walked around toward the toy side of the shop and was met by a stunningly beautiful slim young brunette woman in jeans and a sleevless white tee-shirt (not that I noticed what she looked like or anything) who asked if she could help me find something. "Do you have gyroscopes?" Which, when removed from its context, sounds like it could be vaguely off-color. Without missing a beat, she knew exactly what I needed and grabbed one off the lower shelf and handed it to me. "Oh, and we also have Wheel-Os if you're looking for those." No, not today.

BUT, I finally had my treasure--a good old American made Tedco Gyroscope. Not quite as I remember them, though. I seem to recall that they were either chromed or had a high polish to them, but this one is dull metal, and you can see where the cage is welded together, and the flywheel is sort of a dull, tarnished brass color. But, it should work just fine.

Even if it's not a kitty.

Oh, and I went ahead and got one for Boy, too. No use having them fight over just one.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:35 PM | Comments (14)

Obscure Architecture-Related Website of the Day!

My Friend JeffTM sent me an interesting link yesterday to this site--SPA, purportedly a journal dealing with issues pertinent to small practices. There also seems to be a large dollop of humor. Or humour, as the case may be.

Of particular interest is this insightful forum of criticsm of modern architecture, delivered by several notable 17th Century architects. AND THERE'S GAMES!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:26 AM | Comments (6)

"As numb as your brain," indeed.

Kenny Smith sent me this link to this tender, heartwarming story of a mother's love for her child. A mother who has obviously had a terrible struggle in life, seeing as how she is saddled with an IQ in the low single digits.

As I told Kenny, there would seem to be better ways to earn money than through permanent facial disfiguration.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:41 AM | Comments (9)

Eliminating another possibility.

Thanks to all of you who asked about Miss Reba--she came through her violatio--procedure just fine yesterday. The doctor didn't see anything out of the ordinary, so we're still at a loss for a physiological explanation for her constant distress. Which gets us back to it being stress-induced. Which is very difficult to fix. It's not one of those things where you can just say, "Well, stop being stressed out by idiots because life's too short to go around like this." I mean, you CAN say it, but until she decides to change her outlook, talking doesn't do much good. I have taken to quoting from that famous Roman philosopher Bob the Roman, who said, "nolite te bastardes carborundum."

Anyway, the ordeal itself wasn't quite as bad as she had feared since she was sedated, and since it only lasted a little while. The worst part of the whole thing was when the valet brought the van back around to the front and when I got in I found that the driver's seat was moved so far back an elephant could have gotten behind the wheel.

The actual worst part was the preparation, which consisted of a superblowout of her innards. Afterwards, if you were real quiet, you could hear that whistling sound the wind makes in old Western movies. Not really.

ANYway, she's back at work today, and so am I.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:33 AM | Comments (10)

June 28, 2005


It's an even stupider-sounding name than "Golytely."

And for those of you who know the difference, yep, someone's about to have to go in for a little camera work, and yep, it's back around by the cellar door.

And nope, it's not me.

Tomorrow there will be no Possumblog, for I have to deliver poor Miss Reba to the doctors so they can once more try to see what's causing her such terrible gastric troubles. They've already looked down the topside, and she's been on a couple of different medicines since then, and still is having the same old problems. Which are quite unpleasant. Almost as unpleasant as the proscribed diagnostic procedure for such cases. And made even more unpleasant by a boss who told her that she should be able to come right back into work tomorrow after it's over.

I shan't, however, stoop to comparing her boss to the sort of bodily orifice through which a colonoscope is employed. To do so would be unseemly and ungentlemanly.

In any event, I should be back here Thursday with all sorts of interesting ta-- er, stories.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:49 PM | Comments (6)

World's Nicest Man?

Only if we're talking about Nate McCord. Why do I make such a pronouncement?

Well, it has NOTHING to do with the big box that just landed on my desk which contained two of THESE, and one of THESE, and two very special bumper stickers that say, "Save the Cornatees! We'll eat the Cornaguins tonight..."

Yes, apparently Nate wasn't busy one day, and decided to set up a CafePress account for the ocean of Possumblog readers who have been clamoring for Possumlogoed merchandise. (And trust me, these things have started showing up in the darndest places!)

It was an awfully thoughtful gesture on Nate's part and I suppose if any of you want to get your own doodads and thingamabobs (but alas, no thongs), well, the store's open. (The bumper stickers aren't showing up right now due to a spelling correction that has to be made--I made mine using a Sharpie, and it looks just fine.)

Just remember that, as has always been the official Possumblog policy, I don't get any money out of this deal. I wouldn't want anyone to think I have unjustly compensated myself using computery things that aren't strictly mine. (Although, given local practice, I suppose if I stole enough money, I could just buy my way out of trouble.)

BE THAT AS IT MAY, many thanks to Nate McCord, World's Nicest Man!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:18 PM | Comments (10)

A Good One, He Was

Historian, Novelist Shelby Foote Dies

He was a writer and storyteller, and equally accomplished at both, which is an increasingly rare commodity.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:04 PM | Comments (2)

Actual Good News!

Namely, Citizen Frank's coming home!

If anyone in the Birmingham area can make it to welcome him back at the airport, he will be arriving on Saturday, July 2 on US Airways flight 7584 from O'Hare at around 3:42 p.m. or so. AND, not only that, he and Renee are opening up their home on Sunday for a big welcome home party! Directions and such are here--just be sure to let Miss Renee know you're coming.

It's been a long year for Frank, and if you read back over what he's written, it's been a difficult year. But, as with his fellow soldiers, he has performed his duty admirably and professionally, and deserves a tremendous amount of thanks. Likewise, thanks are to be offered to his wife and children, who've been waiting and worrying for his safety. We ask so much from our military and their families, and it never ceases to amaze me the sense of honor and dedication that they exhibit in even the worst of circumstances.

If you can, I know Frank and his kin would appreciate getting to meet you.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:52 PM | Comments (1)


Oh, thank heavens the government has been stymied in its efforts to persecute this tender, humble, man of God!

Oh, and by the way--I don't want to ever hear another word about all that "rich keep getting richer at the expense of minorities" crap. It's obviously just fine to take as much as you want as long as you spread a little bit back to the right people.

(No online story yet--but acquitted on all charges--announced at around noon. Okay--here's the online version from al.com. )

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:01 PM | Comments (4)

It's HERE!




I know all of you--well, okay, all ONE of you (thanks, Nate!) have (or is that has?) been asking for a photo of my newest accessory for the Ancient Swede--the coveted and highly-prized TwoHundredThousandMile badge. Not being one to want to disappoint his vast readership, we now dive headlong into the photo album. AND, as a special presentation, there is actually a photograph of notoriously camera-shy ME in there!

Well, first off, I got home yesterday and ran upstairs and got my camera. And then my badge. Here is a shot of my prize that is almost artistic, except it's out of focus. Oh, well. And please, no comments on how cheesy it looks. This is what passes for high-class Scandinavian workmanship.

Next, ANOTHER blurry photo of how I attached the machine screws to the back of this priceless (meaning it was free) medallion. Well, sorta. It's really too blurry to make heads or tails out of. But, you will notice that I DO include myself in the shot, and in such a way that makes abusive Photoshoppery nearly impossible!

Finally, a shot of the badge in place on the grille. Yes, I realize it's crooked. I fixed it after I noticed it was askew, and now it's nice and centered and level. And no, I don't know why I didn't take a picture of it nice and centered and level. As far as the actual installation, it was pretty easy to put in place, because the grille is held in by two little plastic twist retainers on top. Pop, pop, and the whole thing comes off in your hand. Put the badge on, tighten the nuts, put a dollop of silicone adhesive on the threads to keep the nuts in place, and you're ready to impress all of your friends at the lunatic asylum.

Now, some of you might want to see the rest of the car--so far, the only thing I've shown is the exterior. Well, OKAY, if you REALLY want to see it, here goes--

Here's the trunk--it's large enough for a dead moose!

Here's the incredibly powerful B230F engine that fills the tidy engine compartment with great honking gobs of horsepower--

Here is the lovely blue interior front and rear--reminds one of the frigid sparkling blue waters of Lake Vänern, doesn't it? Or maybe the interior of some old guy's Buick.

Here is a closer picture of the driver's seat (in Swedish, "förarsätet") area, but not one so close as to show the cracks in the dash.

Speaking of which (the dash, that is) here is a photo of the newly-repaired odometer showing the astounding figure of 214,385 miles, along with the newly-installed tachometer. (And no, I still haven't figured out where the short is that causes the tach to die when I turn on the headlamps. I figure I'll just shine a flashlight out the window if I have to.)

To the right of this are the various tiny invisible accessory gauges--from Ell to Arr--the new old clock, the voltmeter, the oil temperature (in worthless Celsius degrees), and the oil pressure (in equally worthless bar measurements). Below those are some holes where cool(ish) air comes out, and various knobs and levers that are connected to other things. Most of which work. Kinda.

And finally,
famous Swede Anita Ekberg!
(Stolen from Kim Du Toit)

Hooray for Volvos!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:57 AM | Comments (2)

What she said.

Britain marks anniversary of sea victory

The Associated Press

PORTSMOUTH, England (AP) — Two hundred years ago a daredevil naval hero by the name of Horatio Nelson led the British to a glorious victory over France and Spain. But that might not be clear from watching Tuesday's reenactment of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Wary of offending European neighbors who enjoy a close but sometimes testy friendship with Britain, organizers decided to dispense with details such as who won and who lost. Instead of depicting the battle as a contest between countries, they assigned the fleets colors — red and blue — and left it up to the spectators to figure out which was which.

Nelson's great, great, great granddaughter called it a "pretty stupid" idea.

"I am sure the French and Spanish are adult enough to appreciate we did win that battle," said Anna Tribe, 75. "I am anti-political correctness. Very much against it. It makes fools of us." [...]

Amen, sister. (Although I would be careful about overestimating the level of adulthood of the French and Spanish.) Then again, the same could be said of certain newspaper reporters. Buried deep toward the end is this howler of a sentence:

[...] In the 1800s, ships such as the HMS Victory were that era's weapons of mass destruction. [...]

Only if you are so stupid that you cannot understand the definition of mass destruction, or have even less than the normal thimbleful-sized dollop of history taught in school.

Prior to the advent of poison gas, there really was no historical antecedent for a weapon of mass destruction, with one possible exception--a large army on the march. Especially in the absence of secure supply lines, an army consumed huge amounts of food, water, horses, cattle, and firewood, all taken from the land it was marching through. This doesn't even account for the destruction of anything that might have the slightest use for the enemy. Large armies could leave a miles-wide path of desolation that could take years for to recover after it had been picked over and torn apart. This also doesn't take into account ancient armies who generally enslaved or killed any civilians they came across.

The one thing warships were great at, though, was projecting power to distant lands and keeping lines of trade open. Having a ready source of income and the ability to move cash and goods freely from one place to another was, and still is, the surest way to insure strength. England's naval victories ensured its ability to have an umimpeded access to markets around the world, and helped make it a world power.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:10 AM | Comments (5)

Obscure Architectural Term of the Day!

Gonna start off with this in lieu of my usual habit of sneaking it in during the middle of the day--mainly because I have some pictures I need to format, and it's going to take a while, and I don't want anyone to have nothing to do when they come by. I'm very thoughtful that way, you know. ANYway, today's term is:

APADANA (APADHANA). In Ancient Persia a free-standing columned hall apparently serving as a throne-room. Outstanding was the hundred-columned apadana built in Persepolis under Darius I. The apadana often had a portico, and was itself mostly square in plan.

Well, as always, I am amazed at just how UNobscure some of these turn out to be--searched around for about two seconds and found the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, which has an exhibit of close to a thousand photos of Persepolis and ancient Iran, and a ton of photos of just the Apadana itself. Incredibly beautiful, even in ruins.

EEK! I almost forgot! Definition courtesy of the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, Third Edition! See what happens when you get out of your routine!?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:20 AM | Comments (2)

June 27, 2005

Other things?

Well, yes, there were other things besides being battered about the cabin of various automobiles. I managed to get out of doing (much) laundry, and I managed to get out of cutting any grass, and we had supper with Reba's mom and dad Saturday night to celebrate his birthday, and then we went home and went to bed and then Sunday we went to church and I had a review of the stuff we'd covered all quarter in class by pitting one group of students against the other in a meaningless contest (which wouldn't have been quite so bad if Boy had not kept insisting that the contest was meaningless), then church, then lunch with the preteen group, then home, then read the newspaper, then ATTEMPTED to take a nap on the couch, made impossible by the continued ministrations of Catherine, who desperately wanted to twirl the baton she'd made out of typing paper and in doing so she kept hitting me with it and waking me up, then BACK to church for the evening service, then out to eat, which we haven't done in a long time, then home, then to bed.

Exciting stuff? Not this weekend. And that's just fine, let me tell you.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:18 PM | Comments (11)

And now?

Stupid ol' work to do. BAH!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

To Infiniti and Beyond

More car shopping. Followed my mom back up 31 to the Infiniti dealership. Found a nice older guy who called her Mrs. Oglesby, and who was one of the least car-salesmanly fellows I've met. He'd actually tell you what he thought about stuff--"We can put that on there--I mean, I get a bonus for it and all--but I really don't think you'd like it." Cool.

Anyway, since we were looking at 8s to start with, they had some really, really cool new '06 M45s. Mmmmmm. Yummy. But they were pricey. They had one M35, but it was pricey as well, and at the time, she was still adamant about not buying a six. Well, what about the G35--slightly smaller, lighter, and still with the same engine as in the larger M35?

"Welllll," she said. The salesguy walked us over to the assortment they had. She was favorably impressed, at least by the exterior. So, we stood in the hot sun and palavered amongst ourselves for a long time before I finally said to her, "Oh, just drive the thing and see how it feels so you'll know what you're missing or not missing."

Let me tell you--280 horsees are 280 horsees. She made the same loop she did in the Lincoln, except in the opposite direction, and despite the fact that it has much sharper reflexes and much tighter steering, she was very impressed. She's used to the effortless squishiness of the Caddy, and at first wasn't used to the feel of it, but after she got going--and after she did another standing start lunge to the redline, I think she was hooked.

We got back and she looked and looked some more at them, and finally decided she liked the one that had the cool 18 inch ten-spoke wheels. Of course, this only comes with the sport-handling package, that handles even more directly than the base model, but she decided that would be okay. And that handling package also gets you a limited slip differential, so when she turns off the traction control, she can leave a nice set of double black lines as she burns 'em down coming out of her subdivision.

And I promise you, this is stuff SHE wanted--I wasn't out there trying to get the cool stuff I'd like to have on one--in fact, when I suggested that the black exterior with charcoal interior and optional rosewood accents looked the best of all, she was airily dismissive of me and said, "Well, maybe for a man, but not a lady." Well, la-dee-DAH! Which I think is exactly what I said.

Anyway, she got them to work up a price for her, and I think she's probably going to go for it. If you see a white G35 in the rear-view mirror boiling up behind you, I believe it would be wise to move over. She's getting to the point where she doesn't like to drive any slower than her age.

She'll be 76 in August.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:25 PM | Comments (6)

Car Shopping with the Little Old Lady From Pasadena

"Go Granny," indeed. Although I do regret to report she isn't looking at a bright red Super Stock Dodge with a 4 speed stick and a 426. Not that she wouldn't enjoy it.

Anyway, I was kinda surprised she was car-shopping. A couple of months back, it was house-hunting, and she hadn't said anything about her car. But it seems she's getting leery of taking it (it being a '97 Eldorado with 94,000 miles) on longer trips since she just had to replace the power steering pump and the serpentine belt and it cost her north of 600 bucks. Since she does go to Mobile to see my sister every so often, she does want something as reliable as possible, especially since her son is such a no-good bum who won't come to her aid if she got stuck out anywhere, so she's in the mind to trade now. She's liked her car, but once you get the urge, it's hard to keep one and be satisfied with it. Her favorite was still her '88 Lincoln Mark VII--actually, mine as well, partly because I borrowed it for mine and Reba's honeymoon when we drove up to Asheville. I hated she ever traded it, but, like I say, once you get that urge to trade, there's no keeping one.

Anyway, she thought she might like to go Lincoln shopping again. She's given up on trying to find a big two-door similar to what she has (what they used to call a "personal luxury coupe"), thus breaking an uninterrupted fifty-plus years of never owning a four-door. But my sister has mostly owned four-doors, so that kinda makes it not so bad for her. And she really likes my sister's newest car, which is an '01 Infiniti I30. The nearest thing in the Lincoln is the LS, which I think are awfully handsome. And they have a V8, which she was pretty adamant about having after her disastrous ownership experience with her V6-hamster-powered '86 Buick.


Lincoln ownership requires that you buy them from the Lincoln dealership, which still sell cars the old-fashioned way with the unseen sales manager and multiple trips back and forth by the good-cop salesman trying his best to get you the "best deal." Ick.

I met her at the dealer closest to her house early Saturday morning and we began the process by meeting the young fellow who'd attached himself to her. Nice kid, looked about 12, tried his best to act like a grown up 23-year-old. His primary avenue to accomplish this was by continually calling my mother "Jean." Which is fine, since it IS her name, but you know, I have a hard time calling any older person by their first name, and in this setting is sounds very patronizing. But, he's just a little shaver--he'll learn, I suppose.

Looked around a bit, and the first warning flag was raised pretty quick. He'd shown my mom some of the LSes, including three they had left over from a previous year. 2003! to be exact. Having three nearly-three-year-old cars on your lot that you can't sell is NOT a good thing. We walked and looked some more and I told Mom that it was strange to have those older cars still unsold, and since she has no shyness to her, she asked the youngster why they still had them. Didn't miss a beat--"We ordered too many."

Oh, he's a slick one, even if he does look like he ought to be asking for the keys to go to the prom.

But, sorry, chief--we know it's not that you ordered too many. You didn't SELL ENOUGH! And apparently STILL can't sell enough. Maybe it's just me, but I think if I ran the joint, I would be willing to take a bit of a bath on those leftovers instead of having them clog the lot--sure looks bad for SOMEbody.

The biggest problem with shopping with my mother is it's VERY hard to get her to take these things for a test drive. I don't know why. But Junior and I finally got her to take one for a spin. Very swanky. I sat in the front with her and we put Spiff in the back, and she did a loop up the Interstate then back down Highway 31. Including a nice standing start from a traffic light where she let it wind out to the redline in 1st. I love my mother!

Part of my odd personality I get from her, you know. That's why she said during the middle of the drive, "Well, it's really nice, but I don't know if I can get the lawnmower in and out of that trunk or not." Skippy was somewhat puzzled by this question, and I reassured him, "Oh, she always has to ask that. She has a sideline business cutting other people's yards to make a little extra money."

"Oh. Oh, ummm. I--"

I laughed and told Spanky I was just joshing--"Aw, we're just messing with you. She actually has a whole crew of Mexicans that she uses for that, and they have their own truck and don't usually ever have to use the car."

He finally figured out that his new LS was full of BS. He tried to play along as well, but, he still has a way to go in the bovine scatology department before he makes full professor. Thankfully, being a car salesman is the perfect training ground.

Anyway, the car drove nice, but I did want Mama to look at something else from another manufacturer, just to be able to make a comparison. Which meant convincing her to sample a [insert sound of crashing ominous organ chord here] VEE SIX! EEEEEEKKKKK!

About which, more in just a little while.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:29 AM | Comments (6)

Well, first of all, I am now in a VERY exclusive club.

That's because my good friends Olaf and Sven sent me my brand new Volvo High-Mileage Club 200,000 mile badge! Done up in rich gold-tones and blue enamel, it came packaged in a spiffy custom-made cardboard mailer full of photographs of trendy sparkling people laughing and having a high old time. I think that's probably because the don't have a stray short circuit in their dashboard.

Or maybe they do.

Anyway, I had been under the impression that they only made 100,000 mile badges and I would simply receive two of those, but one that says 200 is fine. The drawback to the whole enterprise?

Sticky tape.

You'd think with all the years of Swedish engineering expertise (and now with Ford's billions of dollars) that they could come up with a better way of sticking the thing to the car than with a hunk of double-stick foam tape. There's quite a bit of DIY solutions on the various Volvo discussion boards (Home of Countless Moron Projects!) for how to come up with something more sturdy. Some folks who want to mount them on the grille have taken to epoxying a couple of flat washers and machine screws on the back of the badge that are long enough to extend through the grille bars. That's kinda my solution, but hopefully mine is a bit more easier--I just picked up a pack of 2 inch brass mending plates like you use on furniture. The holes are countersunk for flathead screws, but instead of wood screws, I picked up a couple of long flathead machine screws and nuts, and stuck the screws through the plate and stuck all of that onto the back. Works just fine. I suppose--I still have to actually put it on the car--so far all I've done with it is wave it through the air and make pbptpbptpbptpbpt sounds like I'm driving.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:49 AM | Comments (6)


--back again, back again, jiggity jig!

Hope you all had a productive weekend. Mainly to make up for mine, which was a marvel of unproductivity. Although car shopping with my mother was kinda fun.

Anyway, more words to follow, as always. And as always, they are sure to be a study in the quite-boring!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2005

I'm all tapped out.

I think I might just go home. This weekend just got more complicated--my mom called and is thinking about trading cars again, and wants me to go with her to look at them. I'll have to get a day pass from Miss Reba on that one. Maybe if I tell her I'll take some of the kids with me...

ANYway, all of you have a great weekend, and I'll see you back here bright and early Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

Suddenly, Chet the E-Mail Boy Sprang From His Stool!

The telegraph key down in the basement just went wild a few minutes ago, as we received the following missive from someone. At least, I think it's a someone. In any event, Chet seems to think it's someone pulling my hairy shank, but I think it might be legit:

From: yuan Hung Low
To: terryoglesby@gmail.com
Date: Jun 24, 2005 3:08 PM
Subject: Potted meat no spam

heelno mrt. Ogelsby,

yu doe nut no me but intrested in doing bidness with yu am i. my name am yuan hung lo a native of napel noww living in the grit country of nigeria. i understan that yu ar an expart on opoosums. i woulds like to from a bidnes patrnership with you. i trade yu guniea hens for possums. i think possums sell velly well hair in nigeria. i trade yu one guinea hen for one possum.yu slip fledex?all needs i am are yur bankl account numbers and social secruity number to begin this transaction. money we be making soon.

yuan hung lo

Hmmmm. INteresting! I think I would be coming out ahead on this deal because guinea fowl taste a lot better than possums. BUT, how to protect myself from unscrupulous online predators? How do I know this is ACTUALLY someone from Nigeria, and not someone intent on bilking me out of my hard-earned paycheck?

"CHET!" I said gently into his hearing aid, "TAKE A LETTER!"

I responded by drafting a clever way that I could make sure I was dealing with an honest person:

It is an interesting proposition you present there, young man. I require only one thing in order to establish our relationship--a photograph of Kathy Ireland operating a John Deere 756 Hay Tedder.

Boy, I sure hope this works out!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:40 PM | Comments (2)

You know what I did last night?

Not a whole stinking lot, because there was nothing to type.

Grilled some steaks and took a survey of my domain (such as it is) as I watched the meat cook--the hosta is now in full bloom, as are the pestilential Japanese beetles. We bought traps last year, but I haven't had a moment to get any more of the flower stinkum that goes in them, so I'm going to have to spray them with some nice pesticides. I hate those stupid things. (Japanese beetles, not pesticides.) The neighbor's fence is finished now and looks very nice and I encourage everyone else around me to fence their yards, too. Although I am somewhat disturbed that the fence might have disturbed Kelly the Bunny's ability to find her home. But, rabbits can dig, so I guess she'll be able to find a way to still come eat our flowers. Boy's pear tree continues to produce a thick heavy crop of fruit. The wisteria has recovered quite nicely from my attempts to kill it--it's big and bushy and headed up the maple tree again. Grass? Needs cutting, at least according to the Mrs., who otherwise usually doesn't say anything about such things. I'm not quite certain why she decided to mention it, but I assume it is because I am a shiftless ne'er-do-well and require prodding. Now that the grass is back down to a manageable level, I think it's time for some help from Boy. The grille? Oh, man, it needs to be fixed. The part you set your meat on is all rusty, and the bottom's all full of scale and rust. Time for a fix-up.

After supper, some early laundry, and thankfully we ran out of detergent or SOMEone would have insisted on trying to get it all done last night. Miss Reba has developed a bad habit of insisting that the laundry be done, and that she must do it, all the while complaining that she can't get any studying done. I finally told her last night that under no circumstances was she to do any of the laundry this week, so she would have uninterrupted study time. "I'll do it." "But YOU have to cut the GRASS!" (See what I mean?) I reminded her that the two activities are not mutually exclusive, and that I have done both many (MANY) times in the past, quite successfully. I have a system, you know. First of all, we wait until Saturday instead of Thursday, and that way we can wash a few big loads than many smaller ones. Second, instead of pouting that no one helps me, I make the kids help fold. I sometimes think Reba might just be avoiding studying by grabbing the baskets on Thursday night and sulkily folding things, all the while complaining that the kids don't help her. (Not that I would ever suggest such a thing out loud.) "Did you TELL the kids to help you?" Of course not. Pouting and not studying being much easier, I suppose.

But, again, thankfully the detergent was all gone. And I wasn't ABOUT to suggest using the big bottle of Woolite under the cabinet. Nor was I about to go get any. Because if I did that, I wouldn't have time to vegetate in my chair in the bedroom and play Catherine's Mario Pinball Land on her Game Boy SP and watch Pocahontas with her! Man, I love that Pocahontas movie. Especially if I don't have to listen to the dialogue.

Did that, then sent her to bed after it was over, watched the news, and got all unconscious and slept the rest of the night. Except for that one time I had to wake up and test the plumbing. What made it worse was that I realized as I was stumbling around in the dark that I had been dreaming about something entirely normal. You know how you dream that you're just going through your normal day, and no one is doing anything weird or flying around the ceiling or you're not late for something and naked? I never do like those dreams--seems like such a waste, and you wind up tired in the morning because you think you've been awake doing normal stuff all night. ::sigh:: Oh well.

Anyway, that's what I did last night.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I don't know. But I do know of at least one Vidalian who dreams of pop-ups.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:45 PM | Comments (8)


...in a nutshell, by Charles Austin.

You know, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times--"Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government."

And yes, there is some lovely filth down here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:04 AM | Comments (7)

Phish heads, phish heads, roly poly phish heads...

::sigh:: Don't know if it's the full moon or what, but the level of Nigerian-scam-type spam has picked up the last couple of days on the ol' Gmail account, as well as the phishing expeditions. In fact, got two this morning from the same place:

Dear Bank of America valued member

Technical services of the Bank of America are carrying out a planned software upgrade. We earnestly ask yo [sic "Yo, Adriane!"] to visit the following link to start the procedure of confirmation on customers [sic] data.

To get started, please click the link below:

https://www.bankofamerica.com [Obviously, don't follow this link!]

This instruction has been sent to all bank customers and is obligatory to fallow [sic].

Thank you,

Customers [sic] Support Service.

No, thank YOU!

Bank of America has been hit hardest by this, and according to this article have responded by instituting a variety of security schemes to fight bogus crap like this.

Of course, one of the most obvious signs that this is a scam is that I DON'T HAVE A BANK OF AMERICA ACCOUNT.

Anyway, hopefully folks who visit here are savvy enough to realize by now that they are much better off just sending their money to me, instead of to perfect strangers.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:31 AM | Comments (3)

Mindless complaint about another of life's little indignities.

Yes, if this is as bad as my life gets, I have no real right to complain about anything. Equally obvious is the fact that this has never stopped me from getting irritable anyway and venting herein. SO--

Walked into the Food World at the foot of the hill this morning mainly to get some money--as with just about every grocery store nowadays, you can get cash back if you use a debit card, and not have to pay the 2 or 4 bucks it can cost you to get money out of the ATM. Of course, you DO have to buy something, so I got myself a refreshing Diet Coke and a lovely dried salted meat snack.

Cashier rang it up, I swiped my card, she asked if I wanted cash back, "Yes, 40 please," I said, and then she said with much mock sadness, "I'm afraid you'll have to use the machine over there [pointing to ATM] because I didn't have much in my drawer and everyone else has been using their credit cards."

Huh? "Can you give me 20?" She thought for a second and finally agreed that this was possible. Got my money and left.

Now. I could kinda understand her reticence if the store was busy and she didn't have time to ask for some extra money. But I was the only customer in the place. I could understand it if the manager was away from the desk, but she was standing there doing something right behind me at the service counter. I don't think I would have said a thing had I not noticed when she opened the drawer that there was a stack of 20s under the one she gave me.

Look--the grocery business is tough--ESPECIALLY for fading players like Bruno's/Food World and now Winn Dixie (one of which is just right up the street, and is certainly going to have to step it up to survive.) There's also a new Publix in town, and a SuperTarget, and a Wal-Mart Supercenter, and a Western. All of them sell food. The only way smaller competitors can compete is to offer better customer service or special things that the big guys can't handle profitably. Seeing as how Food World isn't about to become a foodtique type joint, that leaves customer service.

Cashiers, if you're running short in your till, and if the store's not busy, go ahead and give the customer his cash back if you've got enough, and then go get some more cash from the manager. If the customer asks for more than cash than you have in your drawer, ask the customer if he could wait a moment so you could borrow some from the manager. Just remember the whole reason you give cash back in the first place is so customers don't have to use the ATM. And also remember they don't have to stop at your store.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

Say, that sounds like a winner!

"Possum of Knowledge," eh? I like it!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:09 AM | Comments (2)

June 23, 2005

Did I mention...

...that I finally got through typing Oldest's last Health class paper last night? Yep, she took it this morning. Thankfully, she actually worked on this one and had it finished with enough time to spare that I didn't have to stay up till midnight last night. Which was nice, because--and I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, either, but--I'm very tired and could use a short nap of approximately 93 hours duration.

On the plus side, the glue in my head has dissipated somewhat, and I haven't kept myself awake all night coughing. Our neighbor's big stupid dog does a good enough job of that anyway with his incessant barking at shadows.

Anyway, Oldest is all finished with her summer school classes now. She's enjoying working at the library, somewhat. It requires actual effort, and after the initial charm of acting like a grown-up with a job wore off, it was just another chore. But, to her credit, she is still doing it and getting favorable reviews from the paid staff.

In other news, no vacation this year. Reba hasn't been at her new job more than a year yet, so for the first time in forever, no trip this year during the 4th. I figure we might go on a couple of day trips instead. Not the same though--no long tiresome drives, no high motel rates, no eating out every day, no keeping the kids entertained every single moment they're awake--::sigh::--I'm actually going to miss all that. I'll have the week of the Fourth off and be at home with the kids, but it's not as much fun without Mom home, too. Oh well. I guess I'll get to clean house.

OH! And work on the Volvo! So, see? Not so bad after all.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:11 PM | Comments (5)

Will there be...

...ceremonial spankings?!

Happy Birthday, Miss Peg!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

For your time wasting pleasure.

For all you history buffs, Kenny Smith e-mailed me a link to a neat collection of panoramic maps from the Library of Congress. I've linked to them in the far past, but they're worth seeing again. Here are some for Alabama, and you can search for anyplace to see if your town is in there. There's also a companion collection of panoramic photographs--again, here are some from Birmingham.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

On the other hand...

...this is one of those that just makes you shake your head--Pastor arrested for hoax kidnap note at Fort Payne restaurant

It's too long to excerpt, and it bears a complete reading for the fullest effect.

I don't suppose they'll be eating out again anytime soon.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

What a nice story.

Italian Town Salutes Sophia Loren

POZZUOLI, Italy - There's no place like home for Sophia Loren, who has received the honorary citizenship of her hometown in southern Italy.

Dressed in an elegant all-white outfit with a scarf, the 70-year-old actress was presented with a blue band representing honorary citizenship of the seaside town of Pozzuoli. She broke into tears during the ceremony. [...]

I thought it was kinda odd that she'd be made an honorary citizen of the place she grew up, but I think that's because I'm thinking more of something like national citizenship that sticks with you. I suppose it's probably more like making her an honorary resident.

Well, whatever--the only reason I posted this is so I would have an excuse to put up her picture.

You know, that's one mighty attractive septuagenarian.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:07 PM | Comments (4)

This is why...

...I always stop to pick up a penny on the sidewalk.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

The Liberation of Confession

From Fritz Schranck.

Excellent points, but I must say it seems to be casting pearls before swine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (3)

Poor Vulcan

Was just trolling through the referrer logs and happened upon a search that (somehow) led a reader here: The Vulcan in Birmingham used to hold a

BADGER! Not really.

But as you can see from Vulcan Park's website, he has been called upon to hold a variety of demeaning, non-God o' the Forge things--

[...] In 1905, when the World's Fair had ended, Vulcan was taken apart and brought by train back to Birmingham. His pieces lay atop Red Mountain while city leaders tried to decide where to put him. Some wanted him in Capitol Park, now called Linn Park, in downtown Birmingham. Others thought he should stand atop Red Mountain. After a year and a half, he finally wound up at the Alabama State Fairgrounds. Although it was to be a temporary home, Vulcan stayed there for almost thirty years. Mr. Moretti was not there to help, and Vulcan wasn't put together correctly. He couldn't hold his hammer because his left hand was turned the wrong way. His left arm had to be supported by a timber. His right hand was put on backwards, so he could not hold his spear. Merchants began to use him for advertising, and over the years he held various objects, such as a giant ice cream cone, a pickle sign, and a Coke bottle. Later he wore a giant pair of Liberty overalls. In the 1930s he was repainted in flesh tones. Also, people only saw him for the few weeks the fair was open each year. [...]

The Birmingham Public Library has a whole set of historical photos of him--here's an archive photo of the old fellow from way back then--nothing in his hand at all in this one, no Coke bottle, much less a spear. Here's one taken in the '30s after he'd been dolled up in Lifelike Roman God colors, with his hammering hand held up by a stick. And hey, look--chariot races!

Anyway, he's had a lot of abuse over the years, but he's never seemed to mind too much. I'm just grateful that as Birmingham has moved away from its heavy industrial past to a present as a nationally-prominent provider of health care services, that no one has gotten the bright idea of using Vulcan as a shill for regular prostate exams.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

White Eyeliner

In which your intrepid correspondent yet again gazes in wonderment at female fashion.

Dropped by Sonic this morning to get some breakfast (I was able to do this because the kids we're with me--even though Grandma gives them some breakfast, they'd want something from the drive-in as well). Ordered, drove around to the window, and was met by a young slim freckle-faced redhead of exception cuteness (it is the law in our town, after all, that all girls must be attractive), but she affected a most distracting type of makeup. I realize it's all the rage amonst the young set, but I have to tell you, girls, if you wear white eyeliner, it makes you look like a mangabey.

And yes, I mention mangabeys mainly to keep Ed Flinn's interest in Possumblog alive.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

The Churchill Wit

From page 60--

Commenting on the hesitant neutral nations in the early days of World War II, Mr. Churchill made this acid comment:

Each one of them hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

For some reason...

...this is less thrilling for me than it probably should be: Avril Lavigne Plays Possum

By Krista Desens

HOLLYWOOD, CA Thursday Jun.23.2005 -- Avril Lavigne's playing possum.

According to Lavigne's official web site, the "Fall To Pieces" singer is playing a possum in a forthcoming animated feature from Dreamworks.

The movie is called "Over the Hedge" (based on the comic strip of the same name), and Lavigne will provide the voice for a character named Heather, who happens to be a possum. [...]

Yet again, popular culture goes flying by, leaving me in a swirling pile of litter. That could have been ME up on the silver screen--ME! Well, maybe if the possum was a boy.

Anyway, I'd never heard of this comic strip, so I did a quick bit of Googling and found it right off. Pretty funny, although I do notice from the cast of characters that there IS NO HEATHER! Obviously, the character was added and Lavigne was cast for it in order to capture the foul-mouthed faux-grunge youth demo. Whatever. It's not like I'm bitter about being excluded or anything.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:14 AM | Comments (5)

June 22, 2005

My goodness...

...you sure are a quiet bunch today!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:00 PM | Comments (8)

Good Neighbors!

Reba got home with the kids last night, and Rebecca came into the kitchen while I was upstairs. Thinking I was outside, she peeked out the curtain and saw a most marvelous sight. I came down the stairs and as she continued to peek out of the curtains on the back door she said, "Dad? Are the neighbors getting a fence?"

"WHAT?" Boy, I sure hoped so.

And sure enough! A row of wood fence posts neatly marching across the back property line. HOORAY! I like my back neighbors a whole lot--they're great folks. But see, I'm cheap. I have wanted a fence since we moved in so the kids could have a dog or cat, but fences cost many dollars that could better be wasted on used Volvo parts and food. I've just been biding my time until now, hoping and praying my back and side neighbors would get tired of my kids running over into their yard or the constant stream of neighborhood kids using our yards as short cuts to the street behind, and decide to go ahead and put up their own fences. Thus saving me a large part of the cost of putting up my own fence.

So, the first piece begins to fall into place--at this rate, I figure we will be completely fenced off by our neighbors around the year 2019, at which time I will purchase a dog.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:48 PM | Comments (4)


I am shocked, SHOCKED, I say!

Just noted this little fidgety blurb from USA Today about the new Hillary book, and the unlikely (to the reporter's mind, at least) instance where some conservatives have said it's trash. What struck me as the funniest thing had nothing to do with the subject itself, but this tortured little paragraph:

[...] Some of the influential, conservative "bloggers" who have used their Internet journals to raise questions about the "liberal" media and to spread damaging information about Democratic politicians said they won't endorse The Truth About Hillary. [...]

Heh. Awful lot of quote marks in there. Instructive is that they are used around "bloggers" and "liberal."

The first instance is somewhat understandable, give that there are probably about twelve people who are still unfamiliar with blogging, and all of them read USA Today, but the second is the corker. Does the writer use the quotes to indicate that the word liberal is as peculiar to his readers as the word blogger? Or does he find the idea of liberal media ironic? Does he believe it wrong for others to attempt to label his profession, while he himself is rather adept at labelling the critics he writes about? I mean, there aren't any quote marks around influential, or conservative.

Oh, who knows. It just comes across to me as him trying to say, "...a tiny group of Rove's lapdogs who are stupid and backwards, and who write things no one ever reads because they're stupid backward BLOGGERS (yet, who somehow manage to get all the glory, while I sit here taking a week to hammer some sort of controversy together that simultaneously exposes these self-righteous goons who DON'T EVEN HAVE AN EDITOR OR A DEADLINE as the Rovian lapdogs they are, while simultaneously defending the media as unbiased paragons of rectitude) THOSE GUYS, well, even THEY think this book is unfair, so vote for Hillary in 2008." Of course, that is rather wordy, so maybe he was right to stick with those very clever quote mark things.

One other thing struck me as sort of comical--this quote down at the end:

[...] Klein does have his supporters. Former representative John LeBoutillier, R-N.Y., wrote Tuesday in a column on NewsMax.com that the book "is a must-read for all of us who want to stop (Sen. Clinton) from being president." He called it "a well-crafted portrayal of Hillary's lifetime plan to get herself to the Oval Office - at all costs."

WHAT!? She wants to be the WHAT!? WHO KNEW!?

Look, if you never realized she had political ambitions and an ego to match LBJ's, then you've been living under a rock. But she's as astute a politician as anyone I've seen, and all this junk has been around for years, and it has hardly fazed her. She did manage to get herself elected as a Senator from New York, after all, which is harder than you might think.

Attacking her for being ambitious, and venal, and morally ambivalent, and thick-ankled, and shrewish, and mendacious, and opportunistic, and somewhat married to Bill--none of that is going to have any more traction this time around than it did in the '90s. There's a large enough segment of the big middle ground of the electorate--even with the rise of conservatism in the past election cycles--who would strongly consider voting for her. If the Republicans are going to mount an effective defense against her, it's going to have to be more than complaining that she's avaricious.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:07 PM | Comments (4)

More News from the Train Wreck

Judge replaces ailing juror, commends jury's service

U.S.District Judge Karon Bowdre replaced a juror with a history of health problems deliberating in the Richard Scrushy trial with an alternate today. Following the change, Bowdre will recharged [sic] the jury, which will now begin new deliberations. [...]

One wonders how long the new deliberations will take...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)


What happens when unfair foreign government subsidies hurt competition by domestic companies, but those same subsidies are used to invest in OTHER domestic ventures? Airbus picks Mobile, Ala., over three other Southern sites


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The parent company of European aircraft maker Airbus, seeking to better compete with Boeing for a lucrative Air Force contract to build military refueling tankers, announced Wednesday it has selected Mobile, Ala., over three other Southern sites for a $600 million factory.

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. selected the Alabama site over three rival bids from Melbourne, Fla.; Kiln, Miss.; and North Charleston, S.C.

Ralph D. Crosby, chairman and CEO of EADS North America, said Mobile was chosen because it is "strategically located" on the Gulf of Mexico, and offers a skilled workforce, airport runways and a deep-water port. Brookley Industrial Complex provides 4.5 million square feet of industrial space, and includes access to the Mobile downtown airport. [...]

The immensely public search gave EADS some much-needed positive spin at a time when the U.S. and the European Union are engaged in a trade battle over the EU's subsidies to Airbus, which the U.S. claims gives it an unfair advantage over its chief rival, Boeing.

EADS hopes to get a substantial portion of an expected $9 billion in new spending for military tanker planes, but congressional leaders are trying to tie the subsidy debate to the contract decision.

"My only guess is the openness is political," said Charles Hill, a professor at the University of Washington School of Business who closely follows the aeronautics industry.

"They are trying to send a message," he said. "Their strategy is to have quite a bit of work done in the United States. It is clear they want to be seen as a global organization, not just a European one."

EADS and subsidiaries already have facilities in Mississippi and Alabama. EADS-owned American Eurocopter LLC opened a helicopter factory in Columbus, Miss., last year, and EADS North America this year invested in a new support center for Coast Guard patrol aircraft in Mobile near the proposed site for the tanker factory. [...]

Well, it's obviously a boon for Mobile, and for Alabama as well, just like the auto manufacturing industry has been.

I suppose on the question of subsidies, it's one of those robbing Peter to pay Paul things, which is just fine as long as you're Paul.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

Props to the Cops

The Southeastern Police and Fire Championships games were held a couple of weeks ago here in Birmingham, and I wanted to make note of some my neighbor folks who did good. Via The Birmingham News--

[...] Cahaba Heights' Herb Rosenbaum, a Trussville police officer, won three gold medals in shooting competitions while Pinson's James Morris, also a Trussville policeman, won two medals in shooting. Paul Byars, Pinson's Mike Roberson and Trussville's Scotty Bates are also Trussville policemen who won gold medals in shooting.

Kay Hollinquest of Trussville, a member of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, was the female Toughest Competitor Alive. [...]

I think it would be inadvisable to attempt a shootout on Main Street in Trussville. Or picking a fight with a woman.

Anyway, congratulations folks!

And, hey--be careful out there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)


Blah blah, blah blahblahblah!

I believe all of my brains have been liquified and poured into a tiny thimble--first meeting lasted an hour and a half, drove straight here and walked into another already-underway meeting and stayed in that one for another hour. I tell you, it's very difficult to be perky and avuncular under such circumstances. Normally, such things would make me snarly and sarcastic, but thankfully I was so flippin' tired from staying up late last night typing AGAIN that it was just too much trouble to be piquant.

ANYway, you didn't come here to hear me complain (or, maybe you did--you sicko) but it will take me a bit of time to get the paperwork constipation out of the way from all my morning's high-handed minor functionary excesses, so you'll have to wait just a while for some possumy morsels.

ALTHOUGH, there is this story out of Hawaii--you swarthy sorts think YOU have a problem getting around by air--try being a POSSUM!

Back to it for a while.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2005


'Nother one of them early morning meetings that I have to go to. Blech. Wouldn't be so bad if I could sleep through them, but I can't.

ANYway, that means, as always, that there won't be any new and fresh and exciting and scintillating and amusing posts on Possumblog until...well, I don't know when. But, I mean, if you've gotten along well enough so far without them, what's to worry about!? Aside from the giant, flying, rat/shark hybrids. Those are pretty bad.

SO, see you sometime later on tomorrow, after I'm all good and wound up and bitter and cranky and all that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:11 PM | Comments (1)

Obscure Architectural Term of the Day!

CLAPPER BRIDGE. A bridge made of large slabs of stone, some built up to make rough piers and other longer ones laid on top to make the roadway.

From the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, Third Edition.

You know, I think I'm going to have to start working harder at obscurity. I would never have figured something like "clapper bridge" would have returned so many different pictures on Google. And they all look very picturesque, as well.

Oh well, as they say, "clap on, clap off."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

Unfair Stereotyping? Epilogue

Just got off the phone with Oldest.

"Hey, so how'd driving go today?"

::groggy:: "Mm, better. A lot better."

Seems that she was with a different group of kids today, and Coach was just as temperate as a spring day. Gentle as a baby. Not a cross word. She was much, much happier today.

And without the least bit of interference from me. That I will admit to.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:06 PM | Comments (6)


With Pam the Liberal!

And I'd forgotten all about it!

Such a dolt. I was sitting here wondering what I was supposed to do for lunch when she called to see if I'd stood her up. NEVER! So, off down the street, where I met up with her as she slowly shook her head in dismay at my continual, ever-quickening slide into the ol' mental crapper. Easy for HER to say--she never gets any older. I figure I've got about a year before I pass her.

Anyway, she escorted her poor addled lunch companion gently down the street to Roly Poly for a nice sandwich (mmm--smoked salmon!) and a hour-long monologue by yours truly. Topic? Mostly teenaged girls, and not just mine, but those things in general. She has two boys--one graduated from college, the other just starting, and both of them were teenagers for a very long time. When she worked here, I commiserated with her about their trials, so now she has to listen to mine.

She, like me, is in wonderment about how young girls got so sexually aggressive. She wondered if it could be that they have no sense that it's acceptable for them to set borders and boundaries over the use of their bodies. Probably a little of that, but that seems too much as though there's some sort of conspiracy to objectify them against their will.

My take is that we've got the idea of equality turned around so much that whereas we used to laugh off bad behaviors in boys by saying "boys will be boys," instead of insisting that boys bring their moral standards up to what we used to expect from girls (and to stop relying on lame "devil made me do it" excuses), we've now said that it's better to let girls LOWER their standards and be just like a herd of rutting goats.

There's also a strange disconnect going on, where no one seems to understand the concept of consequences. In a perfect world, young ladies might think it would be perfectly acceptable to dress and act any way they want, with no uncomfortable (or deadly) repercussions. In a perfect world, young men would not take advantage of this, and not go any further than what the young lady desires.

Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world. It is not fair. But it's a sucker bet to think you can rely on crying "it's not fair" after the fact, and make it all right again. This is not to blame victims. This doesn't excuse wrongdoing by saying, "well, she had it coming." It doesn't work that way. But I think we need to understand that laws don't always deter harm, and parents especially need to understand that. Just because traffic is supposed to stop when pedestrians are in crosswalks, doesn't mean that no pedestrians are ever hit by cars.

If you really love your kids, be their parent, and don't worry too much about trying to be their buddy. Watch what your kids do. Watch who they hang out with. Teach them right from wrong. Teach them about consequences.

And teach them to tolerate liberals*, because they can make nice lunch companions.

(*Or, at least the old-timey liberals, who still believe in such antiquated concepts as right and wrong.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)


I can't even work up a YEAGGGGHHHH for this one--Dean Answers Cheney's Barb About Mother

BOSTON - Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, responding to criticism from the vice president, said he doesn't "care if Dick Cheney likes my mother or not."

The vice president said in a recent interview that Dean was not the type of person to lead a political party and mentioned the chairman's mother.

Doc, he wasn't making fun of your mother--he was making fun of YOU!

Dr. Dean is probably the only person alive when faced with the schoolyard taunt of "You're so ugly your mama had to tie a pork chop around your neck to get the dog to play with you!" responded by shooting back, "How DARE you speak of my mother like that!"

The thing to have done would be to start a "Moms Who Love Howie" group--have a big bunch of women who look like Barbara Bush on the steps of the Capital, all giving Dean big kisses and apple pies.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

Pop Culture Primer!

If you're like me, you always want to be tapped into what the youngsters are up to nowadays so you can interact with them on their own terms, and build better intergenerational connections. It's always so much fun to "hang" with your "homeboys" and be thought of as "cool" and "with-it." Man.

So, in an important public service, I will help you understand what all's going on with our youth. Your first bit of "411"?

This is an example of the hand signs that say, "I am a big dolt. True dat."

You're welcome!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:33 AM | Comments (1)

June 21, 1945

Okinawa Surrenders.

On June 21, 1945, Japanese troops surrendered the Pacific Island of Okinawa to the United States after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of World War II. Having recovered the South Pacific islands from Japanese control, the United States was ready next to launch an onslaught on the Japanese mainland.

In September 1940, Japan allied itself with Germany and Italy to form the Axis powers and established a base in French Indochina. One year later, Japan moved troops to southern French Indochina and was poised to move against the Netherlands Indies, seeking to acquire an oil source.

When the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands placed an embargo on oil exports to Japan, Japan responded quickly with the attack against the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. In rapid succession the Japanese military forces with their superior force, occupied the Philippines, the Netherlands Indies, Malaya, Singapore, and invaded Burma and Thailand. Japan had achieved its goal of complete control of the South Pacific. [...]

Ah, so it was all about OIIIIIL, eh? And obviously, we brought the war on ourselves by not respecting the needs of the Japanese. Oh, sure, that little escapade into Manchuria (and Peking, and Shanghai, and Nanking, and French Indo-China, and Burma) was naughty, but, hey, that reckless cowboy FDR was dead set on dragging us into a war to make his oil buddies richer.

Ahem. Anyway, the fight for Okinawa was one of the bloodiest and toughest engagements the United States has ever fought.

[...] Okinawa was the last critical outpost the United States needed to reclaim before launching an attack on the Japanese home islands. As in the progressive invasion of the other Pacific Islands, the U.S. began the onslaught with a series of air attacks on Okinawa and islands nearby, during the months from October 1944 to March 1945.

From this time until the end of the war, the Japanese responded with an intense and desperate effort, increasing the kamikaze attacks on American ships and other targets and introducing to these suicide missions a new weapon, the baka, a piloted missile. In these guided missiles, the pilot reached more than 600 miles per hour in his final dive, crashing into his target with more than a ton of explosives built into the nose of the aircraft. During the battle of Okinawa alone, the kamikaze pilots were directly responsible for the death of almost 5,000 American soldiers in 355 air raids. [...]

The ship my father sailed home on after the war, the USS Hancock CV-19, was struck by two kamikaze attacks, one during operations supporting the Okinawa invasion.

[...] On June 21, Lieutenant General Ushijima Mitsuru surrendered Okinawa to the United States. The next day he committed suicide. The United States had taken the island with the loss of 12,000 American lives and 100,000 Japanese lives. Still Japan refused to concede that the Second World War was in effect over. The ultimate surrender of Japan to the Allies would be, according to Japanese cultural norms, an unthinkable dishonor. [...]

Of course, it's really impossible to say for sure, but I think if you look at the history, it's safe to say the world would be a far worse place had this "cultural norm," or the one that had festered in Germany, been allowed free rein. Same goes for any sort of "cultural norm" today that preaches that all infidels must die.

It might also be worth noting that to this day, sixty years on, we STILL have Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors stationed there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

Unfair Stereotyping?

I'm not sure. But why is it that everyone has some sort of horror story about a PE coach who taught driver's ed on the side, and even though he was pulling down big money as a coach, and even though he had a cushy job wearing shorts and sneakers all day, and even though he was more or less immune to censure, was still dumb as a stump, unable to find a job in any other occupation, enjoyed humiliating young people, and whose only way of communication was through yelling?

Yes, I know there are good teachers--I am getting rather sick of being reminded about it, in fact. Let me just say, if you find that you have to keep reminding other people that you are a highly trained professional, something might be amiss somewhere.

Anyway, as you can probably tell by that intro, Oldest's driving experience yesterday was not a pleasant one. One of the coaches from Clay-Chalkville seems to have found a way to get assigned driving duty. Why do I make it sound as though he wanted the task? I don't know--it just seems very odd that we keep hearing from multiple sources that all the local driver's ed instructors keep urging students to let THEM give them their road test for their driver's license, with the promise that all they have to do is go to the license bureau and show them the paper, and they can get their license immediately. Do they get some kind of extra stipend from someone depending on how many road tests they administer? Are they just saying that to get parents to sign their kids up for driver's ed, so they can make a bit more money for doing absolutely nothing? I'm not sure, but I think I might just need to find out. Especially considering the fact that we heard OTHER anecdotes when I took Ashley for her permit that the licensing department will NOT honor road tests administered by other people.

"Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck," "rotten in Denmark," &c.

This was made even clearer when we got the debriefing yesterday after the experience was all over. On her time to drive, the instructor asked her how much she'd driven, and when she told him that she'd only had several hours Saturday, he exploded and yelled that there was no way he could teach her how to drive in only two days.

Well, Ace, whoa up just a bit, there. The class is called "Driver's Education." It is your JOB to teach her the fundamentals of operating a motor vehicle. If you are UNABLE to DO your JOB, maybe you need your ass standing behind a counter at McDonald's. Although I hear their standards are pretty high, so you might have some problems fitting in.

Part of the problem is that she drove last, and the other three guys in the car got similar yelling treatment before they got to her. So, she was already nervous by the time it got to be her turn. The car was unfamiliar (I think it was a Taurus, but she wasn't sure) and she couldn't quite get the seat and mirrors adjusted right, and rather than offer her any help, the guy just yelled. They drove around the parking areas for about thirty minutes, and again, with an unfamiliar car, it was hard for her to miss the various curbs and such, and add to that someone yelling every time she made a miscue. Oh, and slamming on his own brake. Seems he's probably never heard of Jackie Stewart, and thinks it a fine pedagogical technique to overreact to everything by burying the auxiliary pedal into the floorboard.

I asked her what the other guys (who'd been driving longer) did wrong and she said they made a variety of the same sorts of mistakes--bumping curbs, not staying in the lanes--and they all got the same screaming fits.

"Well, sugar, at least you know it wasn't personal--he's like that to everyone. Just do you best, and don't let him intimidate you, and remember to take your time and try to drive as smoothly as possible. Face it--no matter how mean he is, it would be pretty hard for him to fail you in this class without making himself look bad." Reba told me that the guy was nice enough after it was over to tell Oldest he was sorry he made her cry. Which is a mighty fine gesture--for a ignorant shitheel.

We talked about it for a little while at supper last night while Reba was in class, and I think she'll do better today. I resisted the urge to go with her to drop her off this morning. I figure it's about time she learned how to deal with jerks like that without my interference.

At least, without my interference being readily apparent.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:20 AM | Comments (18)

June 20, 2005

Oh, hey, did I mention I have something in my head?!

Yep--that odd furry feeling in my sinuses the other day has led to yet another item in the Insomnia Toolbox. Not only am I working on a honking great sleep deficit just from staying up to all hours, this stuff is making me cough all night. The bad thing is that there's no way to get it out. You know that science experiment where you put corn starch in a bowl of water, and if you hit it, it's solid, but if you let it pour real slow, it pours out of the bowl? That? (It's called a dilantant substance, by the way.) Well, the junk in my head's the same way--try to blow it out, and it's like it becomes the consistency of concrete. BUT, lie down at night, exhausted, and it starts tickling the back of your throat as it eases down for a stroll around your adenoids. You just get dozed off, and then HACKHACK. HACK. Doze. HACKHACK. HACK. Hack. WHEEEEEEEEZEHack. Doze. HUNCKACKHAAAAAACK. Repeat.

But aside from that, I feel just fine.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:16 PM | Comments (4)


Boy, I'll be glad when Oldest learns this vital skill.

Typed until suppertime, ate well, because it was my Father's Day meal, and then it was time for the opening of presents! Yea!

First up, all the cards, which turned out to be storebought, but thoughtfully filled with all sorts of handwritten sentiments of the occasion. And lots of Xs and Os. I like those. Next, the gift haul, which included eleventy dozen pairs of sox. I am rather hard on them, and I believe my long-suffering wife had gotten tired of the sight of tattered heels peeking over the backs of my shoes. So, all sorts of sox, including some nice white ones for yard work or my side gig as a Cliff Claven impersonator. Then, the big thing I wanted--SLEEVES! I have mentioned it before, but I have psoriasis on my elbows, and every once in a while, it gets irritated and can bleed. This is gross, to be sure, but even worse when it leaves telltale spots on the sheets or my pillow. So, sometime back I took to wearing a longsleeve tee-shirt to bed. But I hate wearing shirts to bed--I get all sweaty, especially with long sleeves. The perfect thing would seem to be a baseball undershirt with the 3/4 sleeves. So, I've been hinting for those and got a whole wad of them. And they work very well, I might add. And I look very cool in them, sort of like a fat version of Fernando Valenzuela. Boy also got a few matching shirts because Reba picked up some that said XL, not realizing they were XL Youth size. They would not quite have fit over me, unless the intent was for me to look like I had on one of those kewl midriff-baring shirts Britney Spears wears.

ANYway, finished up with supper, put away the dishes, told the kids to go bathe, and I set to work on typing some more. Type type type.

Stayed up until midnight or so.

Sunday morning, up bright and early, get kids up, get wife up (all easier written than done) then on to church. Taught class in something of a fog, children were so kind as not to notice, worship, very good sermon about Jairus, then off to the other side of the county to see Oldest's other set of grandparents. Which is all I will say of that. Then back to check in on Reba's dad, who we woke up by our incessant doorbell-ringing and door-knocking. Poor guy. I know how much he enjoyed taking that nap. We dawdled there for while, all the while Ashley, and now Reba, working on getting her paper finished.

I sat on the couch and dozed, and then for some reason woke up enough to start a Simon Says tournament. I don't know why. But I did. The kids seemed to enjoy it. Rebecca was the best at it, and no surprise, Cat was worst. Comes from not listening carefully. Or, listening at all. Anyway, time to leave. Home for a few minutes, then back to church. Second part of Jairus sermon, then toward home, with a stop at a fast food joint so we wouldn't waste any time trying to get supper fixed that could better be spent trying to get someone's health class paper typed.

Home, type. Type type type.

Finished at 1:20 a.m. Actually, it's not really finished--there were all sorts of role-playing type things she was supposed to do--interviews with people, production of health-related pamphlets, actual research. Those things kinda got lost in the mix. I told Reba that given the way the class is being handled, I really doubt that stuff will be missed as long as there is a sufficient volume of paper in the clear binder. I suppose we'll see. I'm just glad it's almost over. She only has one more paper, you know.

It's due Wednesday morning.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

On the road.

In addition to making a dandy title for a Beat book or for a television show by an avuncular balding philanderer, it also exactly describes what took place next. Although not with Oldest at the wheel, yet.

The road that runs in front of the school is a narrow, rural road, and has the added challenge of crossing the school driveway on a bit of a rise, and the driveway of the school up to the road is a bit steep, and while the road isn’t really busy, it does have a blind curve toward the bottom of the hill that can conceal a fast-moving car. SO, I let myself get us up on the road and moving toward maybe a small subdivision or less busy no-outlet place. Found one right off--Memory Lane. Short couple of streets, semi-rural, with a couple of interesting hazards--hairpin curve, and a drop-off on one side. Yikes, I’m a moron.

Anyway, I pulled in there and we swapped places. She drove, carefully hugging the shoulder of the road as I gently nudged the wheel back toward the center a bit to keep from hitting various artistically designed mailbox posts and bricabrac on the right-of-way. As I said, there’s a hairpin curve--if you can see on the map, it makes something like a 140 degree bend back around to the southeast. At the very apex of that hairpin sat a sight I have never before witnessed. It is yet another reason why you should ALWAYS carry a digital camera with you.

There, very close to the road, a van. I believe a VW Microbus, probably made when hippies were new, and Elvis was not rumored to be dead. Rear wheels on the ground, front end up on blocks. It was brown. And somewhat lumpy. Because it appeared to be covered with brown shag carpet over mounds of Bondo. Why? Well, because it also had a big round pig snout on the front, and giant ears hanging over each front door like sails. Or pig ears. The legend across the front end said, “ROAD HOG.” Yes, it was a van made up to look like a pig. It didn’t look as though it had moved since Dick and Spiro were still in office, but you know, I don’t think it quite mattered.

On around the bend, and she did pretty good. End of the road, the turnaround got her confused again with the weirdness of backing up and turning, back up the road, pass the Road Hog again, on up a bit, turn onto Cooper Road. Turn signal, ease forward enough to look over the rise, turn, gas. More gas. Please. Get us out of the wrong lane, please. Whew. To the end of that, where she got to turn around in someone’s driveway and successfully missed cars and mailboxes and flower beds. Barely.

By now, it was past noon, and I had to pee, so I told her we’d go over to Clay-Chalkville High (where the driving portion of the class is to be held today--she’s out there driving right now! Eek!) and let her see what there was over there, and it would give me a chance to get rid of the uncomfortable fullness in my lap. I took over from her and we made the run on over to the BP (which stands for Both Pee, which we did) station down the road from the school, then got a couple of drinks and snacks. Sat in the car and ate and drank and talked to Mom on the phone for a minute or two, then after we got that all finished up, off to the other school.

This was a bit different, in that there were cars all over the place for the nearby sports park, and various folks were parked in the school lots. Drive and drive. Parking exercises some more. Stopping, starting, turning. Up the road, missing cars all the way. Three point turn. Maneuvering through a small lot, then a bigger one. Make a loop around. Down the road. Signal, stop, turn. On and on. She did pretty good, although there were a couple of times she misjudged the distance between the car and various curbs, which left the sidewalls of the tires with some nice scuff marks. No loss of wheelcovers, though. We got out on a short stretch of public road, turned, then turned again. AAGH! Actual traffic! She did fine. Up a short stretch then turn, up that road, talked about how to anticipate changes in the road ahead without seeing them, turned around, came back out, turned back the way we came, down the road, and then, the big enchilada--all the way out to Deerfoot Parkway.

Oh my.

Big wide four lane road, with a low speed limit. Should be okay. She turned and off we went. She did okay--had to urge her up the hills with more speed, then urge her to slow down coming off the hills. Stay in the lane. Over. Over. Good. Faster, please. Good. The only real trouble was when she passed the point where it necks back down to two lanes. She moved over to the left, not realizing the truck she’d passed as it pulled out from a sidestreet way back up the road had blazed up behind her. “Head check. Head check. You just pulled out in front of that guy. Don’t trust your mirrors.” On down to the traffic light, turn right onto Highway 11. Too fast, too slow, too fast, too slow. “Just keep an even pace--understand that when someone pulls in front of you to turn, slow up a bit. When they are through, go on and accelerate back up to speed.” It was a bit on the nervy side. But I believe I showed remarkable restraint, witnessed by the fact that she was excited when we got home. But, not there yet. The road opened back up to four lanes through town, and I got her to get in the left lane so we could make the turn up the hill. A fat guy on a Harley trying to relive a youth he never had blatted by on her right and tapped his helmet. Hey dude, sorry. But if there’s anyone who should know about driving defensively, it’s bike riders. So, I wouldn’t tap my helmet too much, were I you. Made the stop at the light--with some help from Mr. Handbrake--then on to the next light. Signal, stop, wait for the green arrow, turn, GOOD. On up the hill, around the curves, over the bumps, a couple of hard stops, and she was home.

And very excited, as I said. She ran in and told Mom she’d driven all the way home from CLAY! Very nice. Now get to work and finish your paper.

I, on the other hand, had gotten my super surprise package! My new old tachometer and clock kit I bought off Ebay! The Volvo came with a big clock in the dash, and a tiny tachometer in the auxiliary cluster. The clock no longer works, and the tach is too small to see, and there is quite a little cottage industry of folks who sell the big tach, little clock package to set things right. Worked on that for an hour or two, and got everything installed FINALLY. Electricity is a mystery to me. Had to change the wires around a couple of times, and I STILL have something quite, quite wrong. Everything works fine--clock does great, new tachometer works fine--except when I turn on the headlamp switch, which causes the tach to die. I think that means I have a shunt to ground somewhere, but I’m not quite sure. It might mean something else. Probably something not good. Anyone who cares to tell me how to fix that will receive a coupon for a free Volvo ride.

Anyway, buttoned that back up after I’d gotten it mostly working, and came inside to start typing some more.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:49 PM | Comments (8)


Start typing on the next set of questions. It’s probably the worst type of typing, in that there’s no continuity of thought. Her assignment throughout this silly health class has been simply to answer the questions in each chapter, so typing it all is an exercise in hunt and peck. You can’t get any kind of rhythm going, and you have to keep reformatting the stupid STUPID MS Word paragraph style to make it do what you want.

I suppose there’s a way to make the default different, but I don’t have the patience to set it up. Of course, surely it could take no more patience than starting a new numbered list, return, move the cursor back up a line, enter again, backspace to cover up the number, then highlight and move the paragraphs over. Basically, I just wanted a numbered list--you know, like you’d do on a typewriter. Number, answer. Skip a line, number, answer. As you all know, though, Word tries to think for you and starts indenting and moving stuff, and if you backspace it does other inscrutable things, and it’s a pain. I know there’s a way to make it do what I want it to do all the time, but I just haven’t figured it out. So, that’s that. Typed on that until about 11:30 Friday night.

Up early Saturday, ate breakfast, and got ready for the big drive. You know, it’s really amazing how much you know, that you don’t realize you know, until you start trying to explain it to someone who has no idea what’s going on. Kinda like that whole idea of describing an elephant to a blind man.

First task, the driveway chat. I got Reba to come out with us so she could hear the lecture, too, which prompted Catherine to come outside and sprawl in the backseat with both rear doors open and play her Gameboy.

Why? I don’t know. She’s just like that.

Anyway, we covered the general aspects of a car. Much like her health class, the driver’s ed class was nothing more than taking the tests out of the book, so she had no idea how to adjust the mirrors or the seats. Went through that, went over the dashboard lights, went over basic electrical doohickeys, showed her the fuses, told her not to under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES lose the ignition key (it’s got a chip inside it and costs 50 bucks to replace, and you can’t start the car without it), and then on to the underhood area.

Got her to pop the hood (after showing her where the latch was) then opened it up. Showed her where the prop rod was. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Less than a little is even worse. As I mentioned, Reba was with us, and she wanted to help explain things, too, but I had my own run-down of “what’s important” that really needed to be covered in order of importance. However, I was not prepared for the wifely part of the student duo to ask so many immaterial questions, nor to supply so much incorrect information. “THAT’S the oil stick thing!” “Er, well, no, Reba, that’s the transmission fluid dipstick, but we’ll get to that in a minu--” “And that’s the carburetor!” “No, that’s the air filter box, but WAIT a minute and we’ll get to all of that in order.” ON and on.

Anyway, we finally got the class calmed down enough to cover the basics--air in here, fuel in here, explosions in here, caused by electricity here, hot gases leave this way, inside things go up and down like bicycle pedals, spin gears in here, turns these axles here, car goes. Battery, distributor, spark plugs. Intake, air cleaner, throttle body. Gas tank, fuel pump, injectors. Coolant, water pump, radiator. Brakes. Power steering pump. Engine oil, transmission fluid. Washer fluid.

I figure we’ll get to tire changing later. It’s time to DRIVE!

Off to the high school parking lot, which was blessedly free of traffic. Sometimes they have events in the summer, but Saturday it was nice and quiet, with only a couple of cars. Went over what we were going to do, namely just find out what the thing feels like under a variety of circumstances, turning, backing, stopping, judging distance, avoiding hard things.

First up, just letting the car roll around under its own power. Although I think everyone ought to learn to drive a stick, an automatic does have the advantage of instant movement gratification. First bad habit to break was the left foot braking. This is good if you’re a rally driver. Otherwise, keep that left foot over on the dead pedal. Had to explain the concept of a dead pedal.

Drive up, turn, stop, etc., for several minutes. Push the accelerator down more to go more fasterer. The brakes--oh, the brakes. Modulate, dear. It’s not an on-off switch. Easy pressure, smooth.

That’s one of the big problems of most drivers--too herky-jerky with the controls. Be aware of your surroundings, drive defensively, and you can anticipate most things and not upset the vehicle with all sorts of wild movements. Being that I like to pretend to be friends with people I don’t know, I told her that one of the hallmarks of The Wee Scot, Jackie Stewart’s driving style is that he is very fluid in his control, and strives for maximum smoothness in stopping, starting, and steering. (If I could ride with any race driver, I think it would be Sir Jackie.)

Anyway, I also told her back when cars were the size of buses, had slick bench seats with the unsupportive flatness of Kansas, didn’t have power steering, or power brakes, or automatic transmissions, or seat belts, one of the ways young people learned to operate their autoMObeels smoothly was to put an empty milk bottle in the floorboard on the passenger side, and try to drive without knocking it over.

I told her she’d have just have to imagine it since we had no milk bottles, and in doing so, try to be a bit easier on the brakes at the very end of the stop so I would not go thrashing into the shoulder belt every time.

More stopping and going, and then a couple of games of distance judging. “Drive around and center up on that orange barrel over there [there were a couple of barrels and a couple of cones in the parking lot from other school functions] and try to get as close as you can to the front of it without touching it.”

She initially stopped about twenty feet back, but I urged her to go on up and see how close she could get. Once stopped, I asked her how far away she THOUGHT she was from the barrel. “About this far?” Thumb and forefinger held approximately one inch apart. Girl got some work to do on judging distance! I figured we were about a foot away, so we got out and looked. She was quite surprised at how right I was and how very wrong she was. We got back in (because it was hot and the A/C was on in the car) and we went over about how to judge the corners of the car and how it requires some sense of geometry and imagination to accurately be able to place the vehicle in its own operating space, especially when parts of the car or obstacles are obscured by opaque solid matter such as the car body.

Next one was similar, trying to get her to touch the headlight corners on the barrel. Similar misjudgments, but at least she seemed to start understanding the concept. On around the parking lot some more. Looping turns, driving in the lane, going around obstacles, remembering to re-center the steering wheel, smooth braking, stopping on specific marks, then a parking space thing. “Pull to the RIGHT of that cone over there and try to get in that parking space.” Way wide, pulled all the way through. Stopped and discussed the exercise again, then did it once more. “How far over to one side or the other are you?” She said she thought she was too far my way. “How far forward are you?” She said she didn’t know. “And finally, how square are you in the parking space--is your front or rear end sticking one way further then the other?” She said she thought we were crooked, with the rear further my way than the front.

Time to look. Sure enough, she was too far my way, and the rear passenger side was on the line. The front end was over the line, but not by much. Back in, drive some more. She was having a pretty good time of it, and thankfully wasn’t being angry or defensive. Mainly because I told her to start with that when I say things like speed up, or slow down, or turn, or stop, it wasn’t a character judgment of her as a person. I was merely interested that she learn the rules of the road without sending me to the hospital.

More driving. Turns, and signaling of such. This time we went to the end of the row where the aisle turned.

“Turn to the right.”



I will say this--if you teach your kid to drive, be sure to use a car with a handbrake. It sure does beat having to bore a hole in the floorboard with your foot. She’d gotten bollixed up a bit on which way to go, and was about to either run up on the sidewalk, or hit the car of the lady parked by the field house. More driving.

We went up and made the loop around the flagpole. Stay in the middle of the aisle. She had some difficulty understanding the relationship of the steering wheel position to the position of the wheels on the ground. She’d turn the wheel, and then seemingly expect the car to straighten itself up. Same with the brakes. She’d want to stop, but the idea of MAKING it stop was a new one. Explained that no one else is in control of the car except her, but she HAD to be in control of it. It wasn’t going to do it for her. (Unlike the typing of health class reports.)

Around once again, and this time I told her to pull into a parking space. Same instructions as before--how far over, are you square, are you up far enough? She’d done better. Back out. WHOA up there, girl. “Clockwise if you want to turn the wheels so you can head out.” She’d started turning the wheel the wrong way. Again, this stuff is second nature if you’ve been driving since when gas was 40 cents a gallon, but it’s new to some folks. Just try to remember the first time you tried to back a boat trailer or a U-Haul. Same deal. The way you think you should be sawing the wheel just doesn’t work.

More driving. Around and around. Next, as simple lane change maneuver test. I told her to drive toward the orange barrel, and I would tell her to go to the right or left of it, then she was to get into the drive lane and proceed to the end of the parking space aisle. Maybe only going ten miles an hour, but she still had some problems with it. Right and left, especially. “Okaaaay, now, leffffft.” She dutifully turned to the right. “I meant your OTHER left, Ashley!” She was going to start arguing with me, “I thought you said LEFT--” “Sugar, I did say left. You went right.” “Oh.” Went over again the idea that instructions weren’t offered because I didn’t love her, talked about the reason for the test was to get her used to changing lanes. Try it some more, this time with patented Wavy Hand Instruction! “Right…::point to right with hand::..GOOD!”

Next, more driving. Drive and drive, circles, stOPS. “Remember, you’re trying to make the end of the stop smooth. Stahhhhhhhhhhhhpppppp. Not STOP. Modulate. Gentle. Easy. GOOD!” Flagpole again, then time for some high-speed braking. Heaven help me.

“Okay, what we’re going to do is let you feel how it feels to engage the antilock brakes.” Explained the difference in techniques between threshold braking and the wham it to the floorboard ABS style. “Okay, go straight down this aisle. Go as fast as you can, and when I say stop, stand on the brake pedal.”

Good job. She did it just right. Teletubbies say AGAIN!

This time I let her go a bit further, and this time the rear passenger wheel skidded a bit. The Focus (as far as I know) only has front ABS, since the little rear doughnuts don’t do much more than keep the trunk from dragging the ground. Explained that to her, and time again for one more. “How fast did you think you got up to?” “I DON’T KNOW! MAYBE SIXTY?”

Heh. 115 horses pushing 3400 pounds across a school parking lot, sixty mph was as unlikely as a politician telling the truth. We rolled around again and she repeated the exercise, this time getting some serious screechage from the rear tire. “Very good. And by the way, that was only 30 mph.”

More loops and turns and signaling and such, and then it was time for some serious work. On the road…

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:00 AM | Comments (5)

Well, now--that was rather a full weekend, wasn't it?

Made even fuller by my staying up until 1:20 a.m. typing a paper for a particular daughter of mine for her Health class. Oh, it's not like I waited until the last minute to type it. No, I started as soon as I could. Which was Friday night. I quickly caught up with said daughter's progression, and spend the rest of the time being fed hand-scrawled copy a sheet or two at the time as she alternately answered questions, dozed, and wandered around the house trying to get Mom to help her with the answers.


Well, sorta.

Anyway, a more full exposition of the events of the weekend past are to come.

At least, the parts of it that I remember. It occurs to me that even during certain of my most frivolously wanton youthful escapades (not that there was that much wantonness--I have always been very conservative even in my licentiousness) I never woke up on Monday not knowing what I'd done the two previous days. Now that I am a stern and stolid citizen-parent, I can't seem to remember the two previous minutes.

Anyway, more to come. Unless I decide to crawl under my drafting table and take a nice nap. I have a board under there, you know, and I do know I fit under there. It's like having my own nifty little office fort.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2005

And, once again, out early.

Gotta leave again to take Boy to the orthodontist ONE MORE TIME, I hope, to see if they can get his retainer working right. And then on screaming into the weekend, which will be packed more tightly than usual with the aforementioned automotive travails, and having to help someone type up yet another class assignment, and having to go across town on Sunday, and having to sit and look at the grass again this week and think about how tall it is, WITHOUT having any excuses such as rain to prevent me from cutting it, and several other things that I am sure to find out about at the very last minute.

All of you have a good weekend, and Lord willing I'll see you again bright and early come Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:47 PM | Comments (2)

"What do you want for Father's Day?"

"Well, I'd like it if you'd quit fighting with your sisters all the time."

"Daaaaad--I mean what would you REALLY like for Father's Day?!"


"Son, I can't tell you what I'd REALLY like."

"Why not?"

"Long story, bud, but you'll understand it in a few years when you start noticing girls."

Because, you know, guys are rather undemanding in what we require out of life. I mean, it's not like I don't like getting presents, because I do, but if I didn't get any, it's not like I'd pout for a week or get all weepy. Well, much, anyway.

Basically, as long as I have food, a warm place to sleep, and one particular wife of mine named Reba to spoon with, hey, life's okay. The rest is just gravy.

BUT, kids are kids and want daddy to be happy, so I suppose if they just HAD to get me something, I would like a card made out of poster board scraps and tissue, a shirt, a figure of my head made out of modelling clay, and a couple of car magazines. I would also like them to quit slamming the doors in the house (or leaving them standing ajar), taking hour-long showers, leaving all the lights on, and waking me up at 5 o'clock on Saturday mornings. I'd like them to get up and get ready to go on time all the rest of the mornings of the week, clean up their rooms, clean up the den, clean up the bathroom, clean up the kitchen, clean up the dining room, mow the yard, keep their elbows off the table, and quit slamming the car doors. I want them to get a paper towel and kill any bugs they see rather than screaming and acting like they're going to die, be nice to each other, brush their teeth, take their baths, stay awake in church, and do their schoolwork. Most especially, I would like them to come see me and sit awhile when I get old.

Anyway, to all you other dads out there, have yourselves a happy Father's Day on Sunday, and I hope you get what you were hoping for.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:18 PM | Comments (1)

In what has become an annual ritual...

...I just stepped outside to go see how the preparations for City Stages are going, grab a bite of overpriced greasy food, and see if I could spot any local television newswomen.

Preparations--well, something's missing this year, and I couldn't quite figure it out until it occurred to me that things are very peaceful outside my window. For the past several years, I've had to endure an eight hour soundcheck booming down below me, but this year? Nothing. The stage is all set up, and there are several boxes of junk down there, but it's all being watched by a lone chubby guy in a lawn chair, not the usual crew of sweating roadies. I'm not complaining, though.

Food--the usual assortment of funnel cake and mystery meat vendors were going strong. Who knew salt, fat, sugar, and starch could be so expensive? Anyway, since I was out there, I felt obliged to patronize one of the booths. I suppose there's also the challenge to see if I can get the old cholesterol reading to break the four digit mark.

Local celebrities--yet another disappointing year. I suppose they all run and hide when they aren't on camera. Not that I can blame them.

Anyway, all of you be sure to go and let me know how it was. I would attend myself, because you all know how much I love being pressed together with throngs of sweaty strangers, but unfortunately, I'm just not going to be able to make it this year.

Just like the preceding 15 years.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

Please, I beg you--

No jokes about using the money to buy more paint-by-number kits and Play Doh for the students.

We'uns is quite uptown, you know.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

Well, I got all hungry reading about fried okra...

and then I read this.

Or course, there are probably some people who'd rather lick shoes than eat okra, but I am not amongst them.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:39 AM | Comments (5)

June 17, 1775

The Battle of Bunker Hill

On June 17, 1775, American troops displayed their mettle in the Battle of Bunker Hill during the siege of Boston, inflicting casualties on nearly half of the British troops dispatched to secure Breed's Hill (the actual site of the battle).

More than 15,000 colonial troops defended Boston at Breed's Hill, Bunker Hill, and Dorchester Heights following the battles of Lexington and Concord. African-American soldiers comprised approximately one-third of the rebel troops.

Five thousand British troops under the command of General Gage stormed Breed's Hill, where colonial soldiers were encamped. In their fourth charge up the hillside, the British took the hill from the rebels, who had run out of ammunition. The last rebels left on the hill evaded capture by the British, thanks to the heroic efforts of Peter Salem, an African-American soldier who mortally wounded the British commanding officer who led the last charge.

After suffering 1,000 casualties during their charges on Breed's Hill, the British discontinued their assaults on rebel strongholds in Boston. When George Washington assumed command of colonial forces two weeks later, he garnered ammunition for Boston troops and secured Dorchester Heights and Bunker Hill. [...]

Just a reminder, but it might serve some purpose to remember that the war did not end until 1783, and the United States labored under the burden of the Articles of Confederation until the Constitution was fully ratified in 1789.

What we take for granted today did not simply spring into being overnight, at no cost.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:55 AM | Comments (2)

Say, remember to vote!

Al.com's poll about the best Batman actor is up, and as I said yesterday, since I stole Matt's thunder by making it part of the Thursday Three, you have to be sure to go and vote in his poll, too. (Oops--sorry about the wrong link.)

Right now, Michael Keaton is at an astonishing 100%. This might have something to do with the fact that I was apparently the first vote this morning. And no, this does NOT mean I am bored!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:30 AM | Comments (2)


Two PETA employees arrested in N.C.

"We will be appalled," indeed.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:48 AM | Comments (1)

June 16, 2005

How to promote anxiety in slow-witted marsupials.

Have one remember that he promised his 15 year old daughter that he would take her Saturday to allow her to practice her driving skills.

She's supposed to go drive for her driver's ed class on Monday and Tuesday, and basically has had no time except for a few minutes with Mom in a parking lot a month ago.

Oh, man, where to start?! Well, I suppose on the Internet. I've been looking around at several sites, and some are no more than a recitation of the rules from various state driver's manuals, while others make the process of operating a motor vehicle only slightly less cumbersome than a Shuttle launch. She pretty much has a book knowledge of the stuff she needs to know, which is fine if all she ever did was drive a book, but she needs actual wheel time. The other thing is that she already knows everything. Just ask her.

I remember my driver's ed classes. I really like them a lot, even though we had a crappy hunchbacked '78 Olds Cutlass four door to learn in. But I really wanted to learn and do a good job, and I'm not quite sure Oldest really has that much initiative.

Anyway, I have my own ideas about what's important, and I suppose we'll just have to see how it goes.

First, I firmly believe you ought to know how a car works, and where all the fluids go, and what they all are for, and where the fuses are, and what can go wrong mechanically, and how to change a tire. Especially for girls. Don't think you can rely on someone else to bail you out, because the time might come when you have to do it yourself. So, I think we'll start with a little walkaround in the driveway and familiarize ourselves with the machinery.

Second, the proper attitude. Kids are kids, meaning they have a basic level of insanity that takes years to wear off, meaning that it's hard to get them to understand exactly how dangerous a hurtling pile of sheetmetal can be. I'm somewhat worried that she will choose to emulate her mother behind the wheel, who is quite adept at astonishingly poor attention to the task at hand, and cannot stop talking, and talking with her hands. Paying attention is going to be a hard battle to win--I can already hear the fuss about keeping the radio turned down to inaudibility.

Third, which kinda goes with the second, is what to do if you get pulled over. It is an extraordinarily bad idea to give cops lip, or make sudden diving moves toward the floorboard. Flashers on, pull over quickly as soon as you find a wide spot, turn the ignition off (leave it on accessory if you have electric windows), turn the interior light on if it's dark outside, keep your hands on the wheel, and obey all instruction promptly and without a snotty teen attitude. Say "sir" or "ma'am" to everything, and mean it. Yes, yes--I realize in a perfect world of democratic comity, such obeisance would not be necessary and no one would ever get pulled over for no reason by unthinking law enforcement agents. Whatever--argue that to the judge. Sure better to do that than try to repair bullet holes in soft tissue.

The rest is what really gives me the willies. Trying to tell someone else to go faster or turn right or left or stop or trying to describe to someone else how to judge position or distance is almost like trying to drive by looking at your skidmarks in the rearview mirror. It's hard to anticipate what sort of harebrained thought someone else might have--you KNOW what sort you have--but those of others are unfathomable. I figure it'll be good to start out in a wide parking lot with no cars--probably the high school, and let her get comfortable with the way the car feels when it goes and stops and turns, and how to make it go faster and slower, and AAAGGGHHHHH! Oh, nothing--don't mind me. Wasn't yelling at all. Nopester. Just a bee or someTHINNNNNNG!

I have dim memories of my dad teaching my sister to drive, which might be causing part of this anxiety. Both of them were hard-headed as mules, and my sister came of age at a time when it was quite fashionable to question parental authority, man, and it was never a very pleasant time, because my dad was of the generation that won WWII. Lots of fireworks, let me tell you.

My mother did most of my non-school teaching, and she bugged me often about a variety of things, but I do think she impressed upon me the need to anticipate trouble before it comes up, and be ready to react to it.

I suppose we'll see how that works.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:15 PM | Comments (12)


I see what you're saying.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

When Grounding Takes on an Even More Literal Meaning

14-year-old steals aircraft from small airport

FORT PAYNE, Ala. (AP) — Police say a 14-year-old boy is in juvenile detention today after he apparently decided he wanted to fly a Cessna aircraft.

Fort Payne Police Chief David Walker said the Rainsville youngster was apparently wandering around the Fort Payne Municipal Airport when he found a set of keys inside the cockpit. [...]

Walker said the boy started the plane's engine and after driving around the runway he took off. Police estimate the teen flew about five minutes and then landed. But he took off again and flew the plane over areas of Fort Payne for nearly a half-hour.

When the boy attempted to make a second landing, he barely missed a fence. Seconds later, according to police, the plane's engine died causing it to make a hard landing on a road near the airport.

The boy, who told police it was his first-ever flight, suffered only minor injuries.[...]

You know, that could have turned out much worse.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:45 PM | Comments (6)

So, what's this about being cruel to the disabled?!

Well, you KNOW how I am. Kicking crutches out from under invalids and such. I suppose my life of insensitivity to the suffering of others was bound to catch up with me.

I have thought about what happened yesterday and have tried my best to let it perk and distill and clarify so that I can recall it without dipping into churlish defensiveness and my vast hidden store of invective. However, I found there was no way I could recall it without once again becoming rather annoyed at the poor, poor Victim-Americans out there.

SO, if you don’t like it when I get all mean to stupid people, or think that somehow stupid people should get a pass if they’re handicapped, or would just rather go do something else rather than read a tiresome screed of little global importance, please keep clicking around up in the blogroll upstairs for some other diversions.

For the rest of you, buckle up...

5:20 p.m. Downtown Birmingham Main Post Office.

I had some letters to mail, and they were in big envelopes, so I had to go inside to buy postage for them. This time of the afternoon, the place is busy with folks on the way home doing the exact same thing, so the parking lot does get sorta busy. There was a line waiting all the way out into the driveway. Finally got up the little hill and started looking for a place, following a gold-colored late model Chrysler minivan.

The van pulled into a place up ahead, and I thought it had grabbed the only empty space on that side, right there at the building sidewalk. But, then I noticed that it had pulled into a handicapped space, and there was one regular space just to the right that was empty. Sweet!

Pulled in, and heard a horn blow. Couldn’t tell where it was coming from, of course, because I was still in the van. Opened the door, and heard it again, this time noting that it was coming from the gold Chrysler. I looked in and saw a woman in the driver’s seat, and just then the sliding door started opening and I saw she had a ramp van. The horn continued to blow--sporadically. Was she trying to get my attention? I walked up, then back a bit and looked in the passenger side window--“Me? Hello, did you need me?” I pantomimed and pointed to myself--“Ma’am, are you blowing at me?” She never would look my way. Just kept that horn blowing, and I figured that it wasn’t me she was trying to signal, but maybe it was a warning for the ramp coming down. I stood there another moment, and decided she didn’t want me for anything. I walked in, and the horn blew some more.

Went to the scale and started the process of weighing each envelope and buying a 60 cent “stamp” for each. Stamp? Almost as big as the darned envelope! All the while, the horn outside was blowing--HONK. HONNNNK. HONK. HONKHONK HONK. HONK. I wondered what in the world she could be doing out there. I continued to weigh and buy and push buttons at the self-serve station when I noticed in my peripheral vision that there was as woman in a wheelchair behind me. I tried to hurry up a bit so I could get out of the way so she could have her turn, but the whole process with these machines isn’t quite as intuitive as it should be.

“Sir? Sir?!”

I turned to my right, “Yes ma’am?”

“Sir, you parked too close to my van. I couldn’t use my wheelchair ramp.”

“Oh, well, I’m very sorry, ma’am--I tried to get your attention--that’s why I was standing there at your window and asking you if you needed--”

“Well, you parked too close to me. But I don’t suppose you really care about the difficulties of disabled people.” Said as she turned and rolled off. “Ma’am, I’m very sorry, but I didn’t realize I was in the way.” She never looked back or acknowledged what I was saying.


I turned and went back to my stamping, because, you know, what could I do? I’m not going to create a scene in the post office with some wheelchair lady. I apologized for a slight I had not tried to cause, and for one that I had tried to remedy as best I could at the time.

Afterwards, as I have run this back and forth through my mind, I have tried my best to put myself in her situation, and to think how I might have reacted.

Which is why this little episode just burnt me up.

Let me say this to you, woman--you might have a bit of learning to do yourself.

You see, just because YOU are in a wheelchair, doesn’t mean YOU are the top dog when it comes to empathy for the disabled. You have no right to sit there and think that because the person standing there at the stamp machine pissed you off, that your disability automatically makes you right. Think about this--with the advances made in prosthetics, that chubby guy at the stamp machine MIGHT have had two artificial legs. I know I’ve seen people walking around and you’d never know they had prosthetics. I could have been one of those people. So maybe you should hold your tongue about such things.

And you probably didn’t realize that the person you were talking to was “disabled” in the past. Yes, back in the bad old politically-incorrect days when crippled children were called “crippled children.” I had to wear a rigid leg brace and a built-up shoe for four years--from 1st grade to 4th grade--back when there were no such things as special seating for the disabled, or nice low ramps, and back when some people would wonder out loud if you might be some sort of mentally retarded child. I did recover, I can walk now, but it’s not like you could ever say I don’t know what it’s like. I do. And of course, now that I have hypertension, you know, if I felt like it, I could get my doctor to sign the form so I could get a handicapped sticker for my cars and park in the same parking spaces you use. But I don’t want to.

More sensitivity? Well, you also probably never stopped to think what that mean old fat guy does for a living. See, although I’m a lazy bureaucrat now, when I was on the private side, one of my areas of expertise was working to retrofit buildings to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Personally, I think the ideas of universal accessibility make good business sense (despite thinking that making the tenets of that philosophy a civil rights law was a very bad idea), and doing all that work gave me an appreciation not just for making things accessible for persons using wheelchairs, but also accessible for a whole range of physical disabilities.

And it’s not like I just did one or two buildings.

No, I did a bunch.

Including United States Postal Facilities throughout Alabama.

Including the Main Post Office building in downtown Birmingham.

Yep--that automatic door, those curb ramps, those low thresholds, and indeed, those four parking spaces delineated outside for handicapped access--I drew those up. And guess what, dear lady--there was a parking space SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED for van parking just on the other side of the required 8-foot-wide loading space from the parking spot you chose. You see, most wheelchair-bound people who drive ramp vans KNOW to use the van space, because it is INTENDED to give you sufficient maneuvering room on the passenger side so you can get your chair in and out with no problems. That you chose to use the wrong space is NOT my fault.

And let’s get something straight, here, toots. I didn’t park too close to you. I parked in a legal parking space that just happened to be next to a handicapped space.

Now, you might not think that’s right, and you might not appreciate that when I went outside after all this was over with and noted that my van was further away from the line on your side than it was on the passenger side, but let’s be perfectly clear--I could have parked ALL THE WAY UP TO THE LINE IF I WANTED TO. That whole entire space belongs to one car, and that’s just the way it is.

As it was (and as it always is) I tried to park centered in the space--it’s just a lot easier that way. But I parked where I was supposed to. Why didn’t you? And hey, I’m sorry you had to back up a bit and pull over to the left--I’m sorry because again, you seem too dense to understand the purpose of the VAN ACCESSIBLE SPACE designation.

So, to recap--you parked in the wrong space. The fact that someone dared to park in a space beside you--DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT CAUSED YOU INCONVENIENCE--is no indication that that person is insensitive to your needs, or to the needs of the larger community of differently-abled persons. Quit wallowing in your self-pity. You want to live as part of the mainstream community? Fine, quit blaming others for your own ineptitude. Quit playing the victim/oppressor game. Quit assigning guilt to those who honestly meant you no harm. And lay off that danged horn.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:46 PM | Comments (8)

Oh, and another thing.

There has been a minor uproar lately due to allegations by some guy that the World Trade Center was actually demolished by a secret government conspiracy. Well, you know, some people will believe anything. But in case you'd like a little insight on the whole thing from the point of view of someone who doesn't cover his head in tinfoil, you might want to read what I wrote about the WTC collapse back on Friday, August 23, 2002 (if the page won't scroll as you reach the bottom, press your F11 key twice):

Part Two of my continuing ed coursework for yesterday took me to the other side of town to the Richard M. Scrushy Center for the Study of Richard M. Scrushy at HealthSouth headquarters. The presentation was sponsored by the Structural Engineers Society of Alabama, and included not only the lecture by Dr. Corley but a video presentation by Mr. Leslie Robertson who was the principle engineer on the World Trade Center.

There was an article about this conference in The Birmingham News this morning, but I refuse to link to it simply because the reporter must have listened to a different presentation than I did, or simply did not understand what he was writing about. As with most news stories I have read about this subject, there was little attempt to educate but much on trying to see if someone can be blamed. In fact, the writer of the article himself points to this in the very last sentence in the article (this’ll be the only part I quote)

[…] Corley said his team's report has been criticized by some because they did not point fingers and place blame for the collapse. He said that wasn't his team's mission.

"Frankly, we don't think there is any fault," Corley said. "The hijackers are the ones at fault. They get all of our blame."


And in spite of how horrendously terrible this attack was, it could have been far worse had it not been for one man’s acrophobia. More on that later. So, now, on to my small part of trying to make some sense of this.

As I mentioned, the first part of the presentation was a videotape of a talk given by Mr. Robertson (Click on his name to go to his firm’s message about the attack). I am not sure when the video was made, but it was billed as his first address to an audience since the attacks. I wish it had been done with a bit more forethought—it had the look and sound quality of a bootleg grade school recital tape; lots of out of focus shots, wandering framing, him having a coughing attack and gulping water right into the lavalier microphone he was wearing, folks walking in front of the camera.

He gave a good overview of the construction concept and methods, and spoke about the work his firm did on the building after the first attack back in 1993—he was referencing a slide show which most of the time was out of frame, except for when the camera would whip around to the screen. When it came time for the part about the collapse, the entire chunk of his talk and the slide show had been edited out due to some not-quite-well-explained reasons dealing with the slide images not being able to be released to the general public. It just went straight to his question and answer session at the end, which had a few technical questions, and then one more:

[Off camera-almost inaudible] ‘Is there anything you wish you had been able to do differently?’

He paused.

“I wish,” he paused again.

Choking on his words, he slowly and quietly said, “I wish…I could have…made it stand up.”

The audience in the video was silent, as were those watching the video in our meeting room.

It made my eyes burn, and my throat ache when he said that, and it does so now when I sit and type this.

I know from the muffled sniffs from the men further back in the room that I was not the only one who felt that terrible pang.

This is the side one normally doesn’t see within the staid world of welds and bolts and mass and force, but there are few people who are so acutely aware of the consequences of a potential failure in their work. If a doctor fails, a patient can die. If we fail, thousands can die. Engineers and architects do our best to anticipate the unexpected, to ask questions from different angles, to be thorough in our preparations, and above all protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people who will use our buildings.

All of the blamemongering in the world, all the heated editorials, all the jackassed stupidity of the Usenet, will never change that. You can’t make the designers and builders feel any worse, nor will you be able to magically eliminate future attacks or revoke the laws of nature.

The second portion of the presentation was Dr. Corley’s review of his assessment team’s report to FEMA. This report is available online at the FEMA website, but at the moment is appears they are having some technical difficulties (or my computer is screwed up). Luckily, it is also available over on the House Committee on Science website, which can be accessed here. It is a BIG book, close to 300 pages divided into eight chapters, and each chapter averages over a MB, although some of the more photograph intensive ones are closer to three MB.

Before you read anything else on the World Trade Center (including my own stuff), before you go popping off on MeFi about who should have known what about what, if you really want to learn something, go read the report first. It is very well-written with a good mix of understandable general language, technical data and photographs. It has background information on the project, design criteria, general information about construction and building codes, and a detailed chronology. Not only are the Twin Towers analyzed, but all of the buildings of the complex and those adjacent that were damaged.

It is far better to read that than any bit of commentary I might write in this silly blog. And just like Dr. Corley was quoted as saying, this report is an examination of the performance of the buildings under extraordinary circumstances. If you’re looking for fodder for your favorite conspiracy theories, you would do much better just to go ahead and make stuff up. You won’t find any help in it.

Have you read it? Don’t go any further! Go read it now. Okay, finished? Good.

Now, a few of my thoughts—

First, the thing I keep seeing discussed ad nauseum is ‘if it was designed to get hit by a plane, why did it fall?’

A lot of the misunderstanding seems to revolve around whether things should be designed for all possibilities, or for the most probable circumstances. Folks, the only way to design for all possible attacks would mean that each one of use would have to live in a nuclear-biological-chemical resistant structure, and that every person would have to be widely dispersed to minimize possible deaths. This is a fine and dandy approach if you live in some alternate universe, but here, the most sensible thing is to work from the most likely occurrences.

In the end, the most prudent course of action was to design for something within the most probable realm, and in this case the only similar incident occurred during World War II when an off-course B-25 struck the Empire State Building. The WTC designers concluded that the most likely way in which an aircraft would hit the towers would be if it were lost in heavy fog and low on fuel and flying at landing speed. The aircraft chosen was the most common type then flying in the area, the Boeing 707, which had a gross weight of 263,000 and a landing speed of 180 miles per hour. In the case of what actually happened, 767-200ER aircraft, each weighing 274,000 pounds, struck the towers at speeds of 470 and 590 (!) miles per hour. Given that force rises exponentially with velocity, it is a testimony to the robustness of the structural system of the buildings that they were not immediately destroyed by the impact. The study points out that on the impact faces of the building, more than 2/3 of the supporting exterior columns were destroyed, yet the load on the remaining columns only rose to their theoretical capacity.

Had there been no fire, the buildings would have remained standing.

As I mentioned at the first, this incredible structural performance had much to do with the way in which the floors were interlocked and tied to the exterior structural skin, which was made up of built-up segments of steel plate arranged as an array of continuous square tubes. Each column was only 3 feet, 4 inches apart from its neighboring column, one reason for which was that the lead architect on the project, Minoru Yamasaki, had a fear of heights. Mr. Yamasaki wanted to have window framing no further apart than he could comfortable grasp with two hands. The solution chosen was essentially to make the window framing part of the structure itself. (Dr. Corley said he had heard this story several times, but finally was able to confirm it in conversations with members of the Yamasaki firm.)

The redundancy of these structural members and the way in which they tied back into the central core contributed to the tremendous strength of the towers. In spite of the high loss of life, it could have been far worse—at the time of the impact the Port Authority estimated the population of the complex at 58,000. The strength of the building allowed enough time for able-bodied persons below the crash levels to evacuate before the buildings fell.

It was the fire though, and the inability to fight it, that set up the circumstances of the collapse. Surprisingly, the fuel on the airplanes was not a significant source of fuel except for the first 3 to 9 minutes. At least a third of the fuel burned up in the atmosphere in the form of the huge fireballs which shot out of the sides of the buildings. After about 9 minutes, the fuel had been totally consumed. However, before it was gone, it set fire to everything else within the crash area, and it was this fuel load of paper and furniture and equipment that produced the fire which finally weakened the structure enough to cause collapse. The energy of this fire was estimated in the report to be equal to the power generated “by a large commercial power generating station.”

Due to the impact of the planes cutting off main supply lines of water, none of the sprinkler systems could operate, and the impact dislodged fireproofing sprayed on the structural steel in critical points, exposing the steel to continuous heat far above design temperatures, for a far longer time. Just as the impact alone did not destroy the towers, it is conceivable that a large fire on multiple floors might not have destroyed the building had the main water supply not been cut and had the integrity of the fireproofing not been compromised.

The combination of the multitude of events and circumstances, however, was too great to prevent failure.

So what does this say about the way in which the buildings were designed, and how such buildings should be designed in the future? From the report (Chapter Eight)

Buildings are designed to withstand loading events that are deemed credible hazards and to protect the public safety in the event such credible hazards are experienced. Buildings are not designed to withstand any event that could ever conceivably occur, and any building can collapse if subjected to a sufficiently extreme loading event. Communities adopt building codes to help building designers and regulators determine those loading events that should be considered as credible hazards in the design process. These building codes are developed by the design and regulatory communities themselves, through a voluntary committee consensus process. Prior to September 11, 2001, it was the consensus of these communities that aircraft impact was not a sufficiently credible hazard to warrant routine consideration in the design of buildings and, therefore, the building codes did not require that such events be considered in building design. […]

During the course of this study, the question of whether building codes should be changed in some way to make future buildings more resistant to such attacks was frequently explored.

Depending on the size of the aircraft, it may not be technically feasible to develop design provisions that would enable all structures to be designed and constructed to resist the effects of impacts by rapidly moving aircraft, and the ensuing fires, without collapse. In addition, the cost of constructing such structures might be so large as to make this type of design intent practically infeasible.

Although the attacks on the World Trade Center are a reason to question design philosophies, the BPS Team believes there are insufficient data to determine whether there is a reasonable threat of attacks on specific buildings to recommend inclusion of such requirements in building codes. Some believe the likelihood of such attacks on any specific building is deemed sufficiently low to not be considered at all. However, individual building developers may wish to consider design provisions for improving redundancy and robustness for such unforeseen events, particularly for structures that, by nature of their design or occupancy, may be especially susceptible to such incidents. Although some conceptual changes to the building codes that could make buildings more resistant to fire or impact damage or more conducive to occupant egress were identified in the course of this study, the BPS Team felt that extensive technical, policy, and economic study of these concepts should be performed before any specific code change recommendations are developed. […]

In short, the WTC was properly designed given the state of knowledge in 1966, when the design process was first begun. Could things have been done differently? Yes, although it’s not clear if the outcome would have been any different. Should things be done differently now? Yes, and they already are, due to the constantly changing nature of the building code writing process. Should we still build skyscrapers? The United States is full of tall buildings. To build no more would be short-sighted if the economic conditions which drive the construction of tall buildings remain functioning. The alternative to building up is building out, and I suppose that were the disincentives great enough, out would be where we would go. The economics of this should reflect the fact that a repeat occurrence of this sort would be highly unlikely since we have now decided that swarthy sorts who only want to learn to fly and not land a jumbo jet and who pay in cash are probably not a very good security risk. (But we dare not say that for fear of hurting the feelings of someone.)

A better question is whether we will concede that anything over one story tall is just automatically going to be fodder for infantile-minded murderers who want to knock our blocks down like petulant bullies, or whether we will hold them accountable for their actions and make their cost of doing business too high. I sincerely hope that we decide that we make it expensive for others to attack us, rather than burdening ourselves with the cost of defending ourselves from being attacked. Do we really want the equivalent of herding ourselves through metal detectors, raised to an enormous scale, just to buy a little perceived security?

Seems like the money would be better spent eliminating the threat rather than hardening the target.

Just my two cents worth.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:18 AM | Comments (7)

It's also...

...my regular Mailout Thursday, so I have that to accomplish, and then a meeting at 10. After which I wll post an bitter little screed about some shrew in a wheelchair. Yes, I know! It all sounds like wonderful fun!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:43 AM | Comments (2)

Been missing it, eh?

Just not the same, somehow? Needing a minor diversion towards the end of the week?

WELL, never let it be said that I am not accommodating! Chet the E-Mail Boy dropped a missive from famed North Carolinian Marc Velazquez at my desk earlier in the week. It reads--

If you're up for a Thursday 3 (or some other day -does it have to be Thursday? - it seems to have gone on vacation) - here's a possibility:

1. Samantha for "Bewitched"--Elizabeth Montgomery or Nicole Kidman? [And since Marc was considerate of the girls amongst you in question 3 below, I would like to add -- Darrin: Dick York or Dick Sargent or Will Ferrell? Ed.]

2. Favorite actor for Batman movies.

3. Favorite Star Wars "hottie" (if you could return to age 22 for one day)

For the gals: Harrison Ford or Hayden Christenson (or Ewan McGregor? Samuel L. Jackson?? Yoda???)

For the guys: Carrie Fisher or Natalie Portman?

Well, yes, the T-3 IS on vacation for the summer, in order to allow the writers to negotiate a new contract with the production company. BUT, we here at Possumblog Studios aren’t above throwing out a quick Very Special Episode of the Axis of Weevil Summer Thursday Three to keep the interest level up until we roll out the new episodes in the Fall.

For those of you who are new to the proceedings, you can either answer Marc’s questions on your own blog and leave a link in the comment section below, OR you can just leave your answers. Anyone can play (assuming some basic level of knowledge about various pop culture references), and the winner gets fabulous prizes! Not really.

ANYway, all of you go answer, and leave your links or comments. AS FOR MY ANSWERS…

#1--Well, this isn’t so tough. Nicole Kidman is just too danged scrawny. I really, really think she’s probably a nice person, but she’s nigh unto transparency. CHEESEBURGERS! MILKSHAKES! STAT! She’s tall and fair, and that’s really good, but she’s no bigger than a broomstick, and let’s face it, broomsticks can’t be that much fun. Elizabeth Montgomery, on the other hand, rrrowll! She also seemed to be a pretty good comic actress, back when the competition for such a title was much more stiff. Darrin? I suppose Will Ferrell, because he’s funny. Neither of the Dicks were very good, I thought. Dick the First was too oily and fidgety (and made me wonder what in the world Samantha could EVER see in him) and Dick the Second was too bland. Didn’t like either one. As for the upcoming movie, it looks like garbage. I’m getting REALLY tired of this parade of overblown cinematic sequels to drecky ‘60s television shows. Can’t you people come up with anything new?!

Which brings us to #2 on the list--Favorite Batman actor. I suppose Michael Keaton, because he was so danged funny in Night Shift.

Finally, #3--Again, gotta go with the non-anorexic of the two. (Although the torn-up white jump-suited version of Natalie from the fourth movie does come on pretty strong. At least until compared to the slavegirl-in-a-bikini look sported by Fisher.) Ms. Fisher also has the advantage in that she has a well-timed comic streak that Natalie Portman has never demonstrated. As for the guys, not that I care, because I don’t, because I’m a guy, but Indiana Jones was pretty good back when he was young and didn’t try to look younger by wearing an earring and messing around with icky Calista Flockhart, fer cryin’ out loud. I just wonder why Marc didn't mention Mark Hamill as a possibility. He was really good in Corvette Summer, you know.

ANYway, that’s all for me.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:00 AM | Comments (12)

June 15, 2005

Hey, you think YOU'RE having a slow day...

At least you aren't this guy.

(Thanks to the Library of Congress for that one.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:30 PM | Comments (6)

Well, apparently the code word was supplanted by a code phrase...

More flow.

ANYway, a very nice lunch meeting, this time attended by around 100 to 150 local bloggers, all eating and having a wonderful time at the funky, urbane confines of one of our local African-art-themed koffiehuizen!

Those of you who missed this event missed a raucous riot of joviality that will not soon be topped in the Magic City!

Okay, so my attendance count might be off a bit. But otherwise, it was just as described. I left a bit early so I could get there and have time to cool off and not be all nasty and sweaty, and took a seat by the door to pass the time. Not a lot of patrons, but it really is a pretty good place, although a bit on the pricey side. I got the roast beef on toasted whole wheat sandwich platter (i.e., chips and something green) with slaw, and it was very tasty. I did just now remember to myself that I was supposed to have gotten a pickle spear. Hmph!

Skillzy showed up as I was ordering, and then Sugarmama herself showed up just a few minutes after that. I was standing by the door and she walked right past me and didn't even see me. Then she continued to ignore me. It made me very sad, and forelorn. Even worse was when she (apparently thinking I was joking about being sick) decided to attempt to give me a hug, and I rebuffed her in no uncertain terms by crying loudly, "UNCLEAN!" Why? Well, aside from being a moron, no other really good reason pops in my head.

We sat down and waited for everyone else to show up and passed the time by talking about the events of the day--what Nicky Preede will do after Scrushy walks; City Stages (now with Ludacris!); teen drivers; driver's license bureau employees; never lie to people on your cell phone calls; "Jug" Twitty--Skillzy was laughing at various media outlets calling him "Jar" Twitty, but I just did a quick search and, sure enough, Jar Twitty is Jug's brother (no word on if there is a sister named Vase); and a discussion of various articles of clothing, such as my stylish silk necktie, brightly colored with geometric designs inspired by the de Stijl movement in Holland. It is loud and clownlike, and most people are not quite sure whether to point and laugh, or whether to look at it pensively and remark about its essential commentary on industrialization and the alienation of man. Then they see me wearing it and understand it is to be laughed at.

Too early, time to go. Walked Skillzy back to the parking deck, then Sugarmama and I walked back almost to City Hall before I had to bid her adieu, and once again loudly proclaim that I was sick and not to be touched in ANY FASHION WHATSOEVER.

And now? Work.

"Needs more flow," as they say.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:14 PM | Comments (6)

Why, yes, I believe this IS a sign of the Apocalypse.

Teddy Ruxpin Makes His Return

Goes along well with seeing Vanilla Ice on NBC last night.

::shakes head and walks away::

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:47 AM | Comments (6)

"You're welcome," indeed!

Ahhh, consultants.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

Oh really?

Taliban chief: Bin Laden alive and well

Maybe so. Or not. I do know it's been an awfully long time since we've heard any scratchy cassette tape recordings of his disembodied voice. And let's face it--in a world awash with video recorders, it just seems chintzy of him not to favor us with a viewing. Maybe holding the latest edition of a newspaper.

Not to say that Islamist terror isn't still a real problem--it is. But it also is, and always has been, much larger than just Bin Laden. The breathless denunciations and smug castigations from certain quarters, spouted by those who seem to take perverse pride in defeatism, miss the point. If he's dead, we can't catch a ghost, and to continue to give him attention gives him unnecessary credence. If he's alive, he's been rendered ineffectual by our efforts, but continued obsession directed solely at him again gives him more credit than he deserves, and distracts from the broader goals we should be fighting for.

Anyway, for what it's worth, even if he is alive, I bet he doesn't get to walk downtown at lunch and go have lunch with his friends. What sort of victory is that?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

The Churchill Wit

I saw this entry from Cox and Forkum yesterday, commenting on the wonders of the Canadian healthcare system. There is a companion blurb from a Wall Street Journal article, and one line was rather pithy--

[...] The socialist claim is that a single-payer system is more equal than one based on prices, but last week's court decision reveals that as an illusion. Or, to put it another way, Canadian health care is equal only in its shared scarcity. [...]

Well, obviously it reminds me of a sage quip from Mr. Churchill--"The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."

Old feller was pretty smart.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:06 AM | Comments (1)

Well, I might be deathly ill...

...but at least there's a treasure trove of odd search requests in the referrer logs this morning!

Such as: Kangaroo meat Raleigh NC. MMmm-MM! Save me a drumstick! I tell you what, Barney's right--they DO have everything in Raleigh! They'd talked about opening a kangaroobecue joint over in Mt. Pilot, but that never really panned out.

Anyway, you can get kangaroo meat at any grocery store in Raleigh, although with all the wild herds that wander and hop around the place, it's really easier just to go catch your own.

NEXT, we have this one: urinal +"tiger stadium". Hmm. I guess that's what they mean when they scream "Go Tigers!"

Actually, this could be a couple of places--Detroit's baseball field, or LSU's football stadium. Surely no one is comparing either to a urinal. That would just be mean.

One of the leading contenders for Most Inexplicable Search String, this one from down in New Zealand: boeing funny clip highway finger brakes jeep emergency. Don't know what that's all about, but it sure does sound like it could be entertaining. Which is why I can't figure out why Possumblog is returned as an answer, but never mind that.

Keeping with our international theme, we have this from the Netherlands, or Holland, or Dutchlandia, or whatever the heck they're calling it now: "there is no substitute for cubic inches" 350z. You know, that is just so true. I'm not sure why 350Z was appended on there, other than to point out that it only has a 3.5 liter engine, which in real measurements is around 213 cubic inches, which is exactly half of 426 cubic inches, which is really about the minimum size engine anyone should consider having. You know, if Nissan dropped a Mopar 426 Hemi into a 350Z, that would be really, really cool. Hmmm--maybe I could do that with the Volvo! Hmmmmm....

Next, from Brazil, home of giant, hard to crack fatty nuts and some sort of waxy depilitory method that's all the rage, we have this little item: "when the sky gets dark", a-set. Heh--foreigners are so funny! Here in America, when the sky gets dark, it's not a-set, it's called "sunset"! Silly Portuguese speakers!

Now then, one that's actually probably intended for Billy Joe Bob and the boys at the BBQ Emporium--cletus goes to the suburbs. Interesting thing is, this is the title of some sort of digital video production. I don't have the ability to view it, and with a title like that, who knows how diabolical it might be, but it just goes to show that...uhhh, well, it goes to show-- Hmm. I'm not really sure what it proves.

For the entomologists amongst you--giant weevil only-facts. Yes, facts are absolutely necessary when dealing with giant weevils. Giant weevils, about the size of common housecats, currently infest most homes. They are not often seen due to their ability to hide in cabinets and behind refrigerators. They are vicious, persistent killers, and are immune to most insect sprays. They can only be killed by extended exposure to Ralph Nader. They also have a flavor something like chicken.

And finally, someone has finally stumbled upon my newest money-making idea: "take-out jeans". Run out of pants? Just hop in the car and run down to one of my soon-to-cover-the-nation Take Out Jeans places, stop at the menu board, order the type of jeans you want (including Extra Spicy) and by the time you get around to the cashier, a fresh piping hot pair of jeans will be waiting for you! This just can't miss.

Anyway, that's enough of that mess for today. I'm going to go to a MEETING now! YIPPEEE!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:02 AM | Comments (8)

I don't know...

...maybe it's just psychosomatic. Maybe it's just sympathetic symptoms. But the sudden onset of a sore throat, and the sudden onset of severely congested sinuses, and the presence in the house of a sickly Fifth Disease vector makes me think I might have come down with exactly the same thing.

Or maybe tuberculosis. Or hemorrhagic fever. Or dysentery. Or cholera. Or a head cold. Or something.

And today of all days! Meeting with all those other Birmingham blog-writing intellectuals over at the Safari Cup place, and I will have to act even more stand-offish and reclusive than I normally do so as not to infect anyone. No handshakes, and even more depressing, no uncomfortably familiar hug for Sugarmama. I'm sure she's relieved, but it makes me very sad.

Maybe if I sprayed myself with Lysol beforehand...

Anyway, see all of you today at noon. The password is "pestilence."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:11 AM | Comments (7)

June 14, 2005

Well, that explains that.

All that irritability Catherine had last week. The unpredictable bouts of torpor, the forehead that was inexplicably hot. The rash that suddenly appeared on her tummy and neck this morning and then spread all the way to her legs by the time Reba got her to Granny's house.

Reba just called from the doctor's office--yep, Fifth Disease. Catherine's had it before, and probably picked it up this time from a certain sick kid at church who, despite a spotty attendance record, still seems to manage to show up when he's contagious with stuff.

It's really a crappy ailment. By the time the rash shows up, you aren't contagious anymore, but you've been contagious for the previous days. And the symptoms are hard to pinpoint, because kids sometimes act grouchy and sometimes run slight fevers and sometimes become real tired, all for no reason. And the biggest crappiness is the name. I mean, come on--Fifth Disease!? It DOES have other names such as parvovirus B19 and erythema infectiosum, so it's not like it HAS to have such a pedestrian name. Then again, Chanel No. 5 does okay for itself, so maybe I'm just overreacting.

Anyway, I suppose I'll have to modify tomorrow's Toothbrush Story to include a tale of unavoidable viral infection.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:55 PM | Comments (3)

Obscure Architectural Term of the Day!

VILLA. In Roman architecture, the landowner's residence or farmstead on his country estate; in Renaissance architecture, a country house; in C19 England, a detached house 'for opulent persons', usually on the outskirts of a town; in modern architecture, a small detached house. The basic type developed with the growth of urbanization: it is of five bays, on a simple corridor plan with rooms opening off a central passage. The next state is the addition of wings. The courtyard villa fills a square plan with subsidiary buildings and an enclosure wall with a gate facing the main corridor block.

From the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, Third Edition.

Not to be confused with some hairy guy named Bob. Or Pancho, for that matter.

In case you ever get by Vicenza, here's a nice little villa of the Renaissance sort--Villa Rotunda by Andrea Palladio, who was sorta on the famous side.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:16 PM | Comments (4)

To whom it may concern, Part II:

To the person who came to Possumblog searching for "Debra Jo Fondren," she does not live here. And I don't have any clue who she is. Really.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

To whom it may concern:

To the person who came to Possumblog searching for "Terry Oglesby," I am not that Terry Oglesby. I am another one, and not the one you're looking for.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:49 PM | Comments (13)

Secret Birmingham "Book Club" Meeting!?

Why, I don't know WHAT you might be talking about!

Look, just because Sugarmama and Skillzy and I are going to be at Safari Cup tomorrow at noon, and just because we're inviting everyone else to come along, doesn't mean it's one of those silly, meet-your-fellow-bloggers/secret book club meetings or anything like that! Nothing like that at all.

The "book club" selection for tomorrow will be the Research Compendium of Multivariant Solutions for Dynamic Grid Loading Alternatives, as edited by Dr. Patek Gee, University of Bangalore, 2001. Alternative selection will be Fluffy, Fluffy Kitties, by Tammy Wintergreen.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:52 AM | Comments (11)

Well, bless his little heart.

Spicoli's in Persia, and asking the tough questions!

[...] On Sunday he tackled Shi'ite Muslim cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who leads opinion polls, about U.S. criticism of the election after hundreds of hopefuls were barred from running by a panel of religious hard-liners.

Rafsanjani, 70, a wily pragmatist who favors better ties with the United States, pointed out that Iran was fielding eight candidates for president -- a larger choice than American voters had at their polls in November.

"If the number of candidates is a proof of democracy, we are ... better than the Americans in this regard," newspapers quoted Rafsanjani as telling Penn. [...]

Now, the problem isn't the question, nor the answer.

The problem is that this little bit of propaganda is presented to us without the least bit of that famed journalistic circumspection our betters in the Fourth Estate keep telling us they possess. I'm sure Mr. Spicoli is probably applauding himself, because the answer Rafsanjani gave more or less replicates his own view of the situation. Although Penn probably thinks we only had one candidate, who through a series of nefarious conspiracies was able to produce a mind beam capable of causing a majority of voters to pull the lever for him instead of anyone who was not a chimp.

BE THAT AS IT MAY, it might be good for everyone to recall that although there are indeed only a few major party candidates, and they get all the media attention, the actual amount of people officially running for Pres during 2004 was at least FIFTY-FIVE. Sure, a lot of them were loons (as you can tell if you read any of the linked information), and some weren't on the ballot in every state, but if we're going to get lectured, let's at least understand that these folks got to run, and try to get votes, and weren't selected by some bunch of guys in bathrobes. Does anyone really think--even Sean--that Marilyn Chambers could have run for Vice (heh) President in Iran? Now, in fairness, Mr. Penn might make this point in his story, although I do rather doubt it, given that willfully ignorant credulity seems to be a rather long suit with him.

Anyway, it's not like the press is there to present a balanced view or anything, so I don't guess I have anything to complain about.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

Non Sequitur of the Day!

As part of my effort to broaden the knowlege base of all mankind, and in response to a particular search result this morning that brought a practitioner of legerdemain to the humble pages of Possumblog, allow me to say this:

Bob Taylor invented the jiggle pass.

Thank you. That is all

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:33 AM | Comments (4)

Wait--did you say "ponies," or...

PENNIES! Yay, pennies!

(Hat tip to the Weird Earl's Department at Straight Dope.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:04 AM | Comments (4)

Not exactly ponies and ice cream.

But I suppose it'll have to do. Namely, this morning, there was a Toothbrush Story!

It's been quite a while since Catherine wanted a Toothbrush Story--I'm not sure if she has just outgrown them, or got tired of them, or has just been too grouchy to care, but this morning I asked her if she wanted one, and after a couple of noncommittal grunts, she finally shook her head yes.

Now, for those of you who are new to Possumblog, the Toothbrush Stories are tales told to my kids while they brush their teeth in the mornings in an attempt to keep them at it long enough to actually do some good. In general, the stories revolve around a cast of forest creatures, inevitably with one who has terribly poor dental hygiene, causing him or her to enlist the aid of other creatures in seeking out the aid of a dental care professional. Each story is told with great flourish and the appropriate animal voices and behaviors, and the kids get to supply names and minor plot points along the way.

This morning's story--ONCE UPON A TIME (which is how all good stories begin, and, in fact, how some bad ones start as well) there was a fat little possum, and his name was...

"Peter!" suggested Catherine as she slathered toothpaste on her brush. "Hey, just a dab."

PETER. Peter Possum was waddling along beside the road, and suddenly he had a thought in his tiny brain. "Ouch," he said to himself. (For those telling the story at home, Peter Possum has a very slow and dull voice.) "Mah tooth is ahurtin."

Now Catherine, as you are well aware, possums have 50 teeth, which is more teeth than any other land mammal, so they don't like it when one of them is hurting. "I bet it's a cavity." Probably so, Cat. Anyway, so Peter Possum keeps waddling along with a sore mouth until he comes upon his friend Timmy, who is a...

"GOPHER!" said Catherine.

A gopher? "YES, he's a gopher!"

SO, Timmy says to Peter, he says, "Ssssay, what'ssss amatter wiff YOU today, Peter?"

"Ohh, mah tooth's ahurtin."

"OH! Well, leth take a lookthee in there," (here one grabs the mouth of the child and looks inside while pretending to be a gopher.) "OHHHH! YOUF got a great big cavithy!"

"A whut?"

"Well, you thee, Peter, a cavithy is what you get when you don't bruth your teeth like you should, and a little hole geth in it, and you can lose ALL YOUR TEETH IN YOUR WHOLE ENTIRE HEAD! We need to get you to the denith!"


Peter and Timmy waddled on to the dentist's office, and once inside they were met by Doctorrrr....

By this time, Jonathan had come into the bathroom and wanted to get involved, so he suggested using his Merrill figureine, which is not a real imaginary animal, but a fake imaginary Pokemon, which supposedly is something like a mouse. Catherine was concerned about this animal, though, "But, if the mouse is the dentist, and if a lion came into the office, he might eat the mouse."

Hard to argue with that. She ran off to her room, which is what she does when she has a better idea. She came back carrying one of her big Beanie Baby cats called Chip.

You want Chip to the be the dentist?


ANYway, so Peter the Possum crawls up into the chair and Dr. Chip says, "Open wide," and looks down into his mouth and EEEK! "My goodness, Peter, you have a cavity!"

"I reckon so," said Peter.

Dr. Chip got out all kinds of implements and drills and got to work (insert sounds of high pitched drills and hammering here while waving a stuffed toy cat). "Okay, there you go, Peter. Peter? PETER! PETER POSSUM! Quit playing dead! Your tooth's fixed!" said Dr. Chip the Dentist Cat.

"Oh. Thanks, doc. That feels better."

SO, Peter and Timmy scampered off and went and played in the road.

The end.

Now, let's get going so I don't have to be late for work, kids!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:30 AM | Comments (5)

One can only hope.

Jackson Won't Share Bed With Kids Again

One also hopes that this doesn't have an addendum, such as, "But Has No Qualms About Sharing the Floor," or "Sleeping Bags Still Just Fine," or "Defines 'Kids' as Women Over 18."

Well, it's all very much a mess. But given the outcomes of the O.J., Kobe, and Baretta cases, I suppose it's not at all surprising. Neither is this corker from one of the jurors--Juror: Jackson 'Probably' A Molester. Why not convict him?

Well, according to that article, the jurors didn't like the mother, who can safely be called a grifter of the highest order.

[...] Juror No. 5 said she remembered the woman snapping her fingers at the jury. The juror said she thought to herself, "Don't snap your fingers at me, lady."

Another juror said she wonders why the accuser was allowed to stay with Jackson so long -- saying no mother "in her right mind" would let her child just go off and sleep with someone, Michael Jackson or anyone else. [...]

Yep, she was after something, and maybe she even thought by selling her child to a freakish wealthy pedophile, she might be able to hit the bigtime. Sort of a sick symbiosis--one feeding his lust for small boys by preying on the sorts of people who find him fascinating; the other feeding her lust for money and reflected fame.

But it still seems clear to me that despite the appearance that Jackson was being set up for extortion, he made it awfully easy to do. Like crack to Marion Barry, some things are just too hard to resist for some people, even if it is a setup.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:25 AM | Comments (4)

June 13, 2005

Not a single thing happened all weekend.

Because if it did, I would be obliged to tell you all about it. Like having to wait two hours at the othodontist's office to allow him time to attempt to correct Boy's retainer, that somehow managed to become distorted in the molding process, requiring that we go back again this coming Friday for a second attempt. See, if that had happened, I'd have to tell you about it. Or if we saw Kelly the Bunny in the backyard yesterday, and Catherine wanted to go get her--THAT would be one of those things I'd have to tell you. But I have WAY too much to get done today--I have to make up for all the time I took off Friday, you know, so it's a good thing I didn't make a really, REALLY good bowl of chicken pasta yesterday along with a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Those two things alone would take up paragraph upon paragraph of description. OH, and I'm sure glad I didn't have to stay up until midnight last night typing a Health class report for Oldest, or you'd be burdened with hearing about that! Or that I got a giant Maori tattoo around my eye, and plan on becoming a heavyweight boxer.

SO, in all, it was a very good thing that nothing at all happened this weekend, and that for once when I was leading singing at church last night I didn't hack and cough all through it, otherwise you'd have to hear about that, too.

ANYway, I really do have a ton of filth to shovel out the door today, so please indulge me in a day or so of honest labor to clear the stables out.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:23 AM | Comments (11)

June 10, 2005

Packing up early!?

But of course!

Now that I have something to keep the rain from blowing in my face as I drive, that is. The glass guy spent an hour and forty five minutes total, and the result looks very nice. A bit of goo showing on the inside, but after it dries it's no problem to trim off. Everything looks good, and I'm a happy camper. Next major purchase (aside from a big tachometer and small clock I bought to retrofit in place of the big clock and small tachometer) will probably be a dashboard. Or maybe a kewl underbody neon kit! Or a giant rear wing!

Anyway, the weekend cometh now--Boy to the orthodontist this afternoon, then it will be to home to start the laundry cycle once more. But I can without fear say I don't have to worry about trying to get out and cut the grass--Arlene approaches, and from all accounts it's going to be quite full of water.

All of you have a good weekend, and I'll see you back here on Monday.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:19 PM | Comments (4)


No sooner had I pressed the Save button on that last post when I got a call from the dispatcher that the guy was in the parking deck waiting on me! That's rather on the fast side, I'd say.

Ran over and paid him, and he said he'd call me when he got through. Well, it's been rather cloudish around here, and it takes about 7.9 minutes to get from my desk to the uppermost level of the deck, in which time a sudden cloudburst could completely fill a windshieldless Volvo, so I told him I'd just hang around a while.

Turned out to be a good long while--one hour, and he's only HALF DONE! Seems when the good wizards of Gothenburg decide on the way to put a windshield in a car, they figure it would never ever have to be removed again for the life of the car. The young fellow averred that Volvos are the absolute worst when it comes time to replace the front window.

Anyway, first he gingerly popped off the molding around the window, and then set about to break loose the fifty eleven dozen plastic clips holding it in. He tried mightily to keep the clips intact, but after struggling for many minutes, he just started breaking them off.

We shot the breeze for a while, told him where I work, talked about the weather, then he started the actual removal process. It's definitely the job for young strong wiry men. He pushed and shoved a variety of edged implements under and around the windshield, grimacing and tugging and shattering the edge of the glass trying to free it from the mastic bed. He stopped briefly and removed his glove, bit at the knuckle of his finger, then spit in the garbage can he'd brought with him.

"You didn't by chance just get some glass in you, did you?"

"Aw, yeah. Don't matter. I got plenty of Super Glue."

I laughed and he said he told the same thing to the doctor when he got the tip of his middle finger lopped off. Only went to the hospital at the end of the day, even though he couldn't get the bleeding to stop, and only because he felt kinda dizzy. Managed to finish eight windshields before going, though. No biggie.

He continued to grunt and pull, he asked how long I'd had the car, told him the story of the previous owner, he told the story of the car he'd just bought. We agreed that it's nice to have one you can actually work on with a screwdriver and a wrench.

FINALLY got the glass out. It looked like it had been out in a hail storm.

By this time, a giant dark cloud was moving in just over Southside, and I told him I hated to do it, but I thought I might better go ahead and pull it in under some cover before the deluge hit. He'd said before he was glad I had it out in the open, and I really hated to pull it in, but he said it was okay.

I left him up there putting the new clips on the new glass, and I came back here to check my messages and get some work done. I had just gotten in the building when the rain started in earnest, so I timed it pretty well. He should be through in another half-hour or so, and I have to tell you, that tough young man earned his keep today wrestling with the Volvo.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Y'know what's worse than waiting on the cable guy?

Waiting on the windshield guy. I just now called back to see if the guy was going to be able to get here early or not. The girl who dispatches calls came back on the line after tracking him down and told me he was going to come on now and do mine.

You know, I was really just calling to see if he was going to get here before time for me to leave--I didn't want him to think I was being impatient or anything, because if your windshield guy wanted to, he could make it a VERY uncomfortable drive home.

Anyway, now I'm going to have to put off lunch for a while and wait for him to call back. And it's getting cloudy, because in the near future it's going to start raining buckets. I sure hope he gets here before that happens.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

Fun with Referrer Logs!

Well, I knew something must be afoot this morning when I checked the logs and found MANY varied references such as this one: jodi applegate wardrobe malfunction.

INNnnnteresting. Especially considering that Jodi is yet another target of my unhealthy obsession for attractively perky newswomen. Well, the bottom of all these queries had to be gotten to, so I checked Google News, and sure enough, this article from the New York Daily News popped up with all the spicy details (scroll to bottom):

WNYW/Ch. 5's Jodi Applegate had a minor wardrobe malfunction Tuesday on "Good Day New York."

During a segment on summer fashions, Applegate put on a new blouse.

"I'm not sure if I'm wearing exactly the right foundation garments with this particular one," Applegate said adjusting her garb. "It's semi-see-through whether you want it to be or not."

Interestingly, not one letter of complaint arrived here.


Well, as I always say, "rrowlll."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)


Well, last night was the last night of our VBS. I don't want to be this way, but I sure am glad it's over. Four kids, kept up way past their bedtimes for five nights in a row--well, let's just say it's not conducive to conducting a loving and righteous home life. Tempers get short, words get hot. But, at least they can recite all the sons of Jacob and the fruits of the Spirit. "Patience," "goodness," and "gentleness" all, however, being rather short in supply.

Of course, there is also the stress of the still-simmering ambush episode from earlier in the week, as well as the past few weeks here in the Stupidity Mines, and I found out today that I might not be getting the windshield replaced in the Volvo today as scheduled, because the guy wants to do it at three o'clock, and I have to go take Boy to get his retainer from the braces guy.

And I have a hangnail!

And I got a Diet Coke with Lime by mistake this morning!

I tell you what, life is just FULL of one indignity after another!

(Not really.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:11 AM | Comments (10)

Wendy Garner Show Comes to Trussville!

Sadly, missing Wendy Garner, making the whole exercise rather pointless from a local-celebrity-stalking point of view.

For those who haven't been keeping up, the local NBC affiliate has a two hour morning news show starring Ms. Garner and other people who aren't her. For the past couple of months they have been going out every Friday to various local communities for a series of meet-n-greets (actually, more like meat-n-grits, given the fact that they manage to find the local breakfast joints).

Several months back I suggested to a certain former Auburn dance team member that she ought to bring her people out to Truss Vegas, in what I thought was an obvious, blatant attempt to actually get to see her in person and possibly finagle another haul of NBC logo'ed merchandise and maybe a hug. I also figured that since that Ken Lass guy lives here, it ought to be pretty well a cinch.

WELLLL, imagine my surprise when I turned on the show this morning and saw they were right in the very middle of lovely downtown Paradise On the Pinchgut! WITHOUT WENDY. She's been off all week on sick leave, and so once again my hopes were dashed.

Oh, well.

Highlights of the show included a tour of Golden Rule Barbecue for breakfast, various segments of local historical interest--did you know that Trussville was first settled by the Truss family in 1781; the First Baptist Church was organized around 1820 or so; and the first six Apollo missions were launched from here and not Cape Kennedy (not really).

Another highlight was when Ken Lass showed a shot of the mighty throbbing Pinchgut Creek running behind Golden Rule and under the railroad tracks--it was very impressive, and given the recent rains, actually had a good bit of water in it! Most humorous was when Ken and his camera man crossed the street at the bridge, and Ken said they were taking their lives in their hands crossing Chalkville Road at rush hour. It being six a.m., and it being Trussville, at that moment rush hour consisted of a white pickup coming down the road about an eighth of a mile north.

They had a nice segment on Haisten's drug store soda fountain, (the Haistens also own internationally-famed Toomer's Drugs in Auburn), and on Mabe Power Equipment, which, as far as I know, is the oldest continually operating business in Trussville, and still at the same location since 1921.

Trussville has grown a lot in the past twenty years. Throughout most of its past it was nothing more than a wide spot in the road on the way to Springville, but the population has increased by a factor of 5 since 1980. Big doings for a little place, but every seems to understand that its best feature is that it IS a small town, and there are many things underway to keep it from losing that charm.

Or even enhancing it.

Trussville never really has had what you would call a quaint or pretty main drag. According to the mayor, it looks better today than it ever has in history, but he and everyone else realize it's not quite as good as it could be. There's not a lot of pedestrian traffic, and the buildings don't create a consistent street face (lots of gaps, incoherent layouts, etc.)

Speaking of Springville again, just east about 12 miles, now they have that type of main street--it's a compact, pretty place, with all sorts of small shops and buildings that look like a nice old town.

Well, it appears we might be embarked on a program to just build ourselves something new that attempts to make a past we never quite had. A local developer (and, believe it or not, "developer" isn't a dirty word) has contracted with the firm of Duany Plater-Zyberk to conduct a design charrette for a gigantic parcel of property just a few blocks east of the established part of downtown. Lest you get the idea it's something akin to urban sprawl, it's not--it's almost in the center of town, on property that has been generally industrial.

The idea?

Well, according to the little newspaper that was sent out, the developer wants to create

[...] something very special -- a thriving village with big trees, a riverwalk and a main street that is actually a Main Street. We envision a place that is environmentally sensitive, with modern comforts, and as beautiful, walkable and friendly as the Cahaba Village.

I've written about the Cahaba Project before--it was a WPA housing project of 44 large duplexes and 243 houses, arranged around a large open mall, with a school and commissary anchoring the east end. Its original name was Slagheap Village, because it was built on the site of the old Trussville Furnace, and was indeed built mostly on the site of the slagheap. It's still a wonderful place, although the rented dwellings are now all private single family homes, and the commissary is now the Chamber of Commerce and community theater building. (The school is still there as the middle school.) Here are some photos from the Farm Security Administration from when it was under construction--you'll notice it looks awfully barren. People who love the huge oaks of the Mall need to recall that at one time there wasn't a twig around.

Sometimes folks want instant historicity, and it's a bit more involved than that. Places develop over time, and they may not necessarily end up looking or working they way they were intended. In the case of the Cahaba Project, that's a good thing--it became better as it got older, but I doubt anyone could have ever foreseen what it would eventually wind up being. Just a word of caution that sometimes even the best plans and most beautiful drawings are subject to forces that we just can't control. Hopefully everyone understands that, and enough flexibility is built into this new development to allow for such happenstances of fortune. Second, although there is a wonderfully high-minded sense of purpose and outlook for this proposal, in the end it must be remembered the reason it is even being put forth is because the developer wants to make money. That's not a bad thing--we need people willing to put up their own money in an effort to make more. That's what commerce is all about. But in land development, there is most assuredly a more important factor than the ability to get things built. It is to get things built with OPM.

OPM--other people's money.

Although there will be plenty of investment from the private side, folks are going to have to realize there is going to be something of a quid pro quo expected of taxpayers--just like there has been for all the other large retail developments in town. If it's worth doing, fine. But just remember that if we're investing tax money, let's make sure we get our money's worth.

This caveat isn't as a knock against the project or gainsaying--I'm all for folks taking the time to do things like this, and if it goes as planned, it will be a wonderful addition to my town. Let's just keep an eye on the moneybag.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:45 AM | Comments (4)

June 09, 2005

Uhhh, hasn't lunch lasted long enough?

Obviously it has, but only a small portion of the time between the last post and this was actually devoted to replenishment of my supply of cholesterol. There is, after all, much garbage on my desk that has to be lovingly tended and cared for, in order to keep someone from coming along and sweeping it into the dumpster.

Which actually might not be such a bad idea.

Anyway, Story Time continues (slowly) below. For those of you who can make sense of the proceedings, we ask that you refrain from commenting, lest you give actual shape and clarity to the tale.

Now then, back to work.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:37 PM | Comments (8)

Now, while I go to eat some lunch...

...it's STORY TIME! Hooray!

I will start it off, and each of you will then add your own (unpornographic, reasonably well-mannered, expletive-deleted) paragraph in the comments. Although the plot and flow of the story are important, they should not take precedence over more important elements, such as pith and wit.

TO BEGIN, then:

"Gordon looked down at the stick on the ground, and moved it slightly to the left with the toe of his shoe."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:23 PM | Comments (19)

The Churchill Wit

From the Bill Adler book of the same name, today's entry is:

Winston Churchill was never fond of Ramsay MacDonald, and in a speech in the House of Commons in 1931, had this to say about him:

I remember when I was a child being taken to the celebrated Barnum's Circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the program which I desired to see was the one described as "The Boneless Wonder."

My parents judged the spectacle would be too revolting and demoralizing for my youthful eyes, and I have waited fifty ears to see "The Boneless Wonder" sitting on the Treasury Bench.

When MacDonald became Prime Minister, Churchill observed:

We know that he has, more than any other man, the gift of compresssing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:58 AM | Comments (2)

I suppose that in comparison...

..."867-5309" really wasn't quite as big of a problem.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

If I were Howdy Doody...

...I think I would consider a defamation suit for even being mentioned in the same breath as Dr. YEAARRGHHHHH.

(Thanks for the comparo, Fritz!)

I don't really have a dog in this fight, but it does seem that the estimable physician has brought the DemParty chairmanship his brand of lunatic self-destructiveness that worked so well in his Presidential bid.


I mean, you know, I'd rather have two (or more) good, strong parties vieing for my votes, but if what he's preaching is what is meant by "inclusiveness" and "tolerance," well, include me out. Not that I have a choice--he's already said people like me aren't worth the effort.

Silly git.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:45 AM | Comments (2)

Power Tour!

I dropped the kids off this morning and then stopped by McDonald's on Edwards Lake Road to get some breakfast. Being that I have something wrong with me, the moment I rounded the corner at the drive-through menu, my cardar kicked in when I sensed the presence of a high concentration of Moron Projects. Sure enough, I spotted tailfins over at the motel across the way, and as I drove on around, noticed that the lot was full of old iron, all of it in very good condition.

I figured there must be some kind of car show in town, but when I got on the Interstate to come to work and saw a dark orange '71 Z/28 tailed by a light beige '65 Nova with a cowl induction hood and Ontario plates, I knew it must be something a bit more involved.

Little did I know that they and the rest of the troops at the motel were part of the Hot Rod Power Tour. It's been several months since I picked up a copy, and didn't realize that yesterday Birmingham was Day Five of the itinerary. Today it looks like everyone's taking a LONG drive down to Tallahassee via Montgomery, so everyone be sure to be nice to our visitors and wave.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:28 AM | Comments (4)

Just one suggestion...

Crowe uses Letterman visit to apologize


The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A chagrined Russell Crowe apologized Wednesday for throwing a telephone at a hotel concierge this week, saying he reacted poorly to being a lonely family man away from home.

"This is possibly the most shameful situation I've ever gotten myself in in my life, and I've done some pretty dumb things in my life," the Australian actor told David Letterman. "So to actually make a new number one is spectacularly stupid."

Crowe, in New York to promote a new movie, was angered by a malfunctioning phone at the Mercer Hotel at 4 a.m. Monday, so he threw it and struck a concierge in the face. [...]

"Hopefully at some stage, I'll be able to apologize directly to Nestor but at the moment, he's not answering his phone," Crowe said.

Crowe acknowledged what most tabloid readers already know: that he has a temper problem.

"But at the same time, I also have, in the moment, infinite patience, you know?" he said. "We had nine rooms in that hotel over a period of seven days and everybody was having the same problems."

Crowe is married to actress Danielle Spencer and they have a 17-month-old son. With the time difference with Australia, reporting back home can be rough, he said.

"I'm, you know, trying to fill my basic obligations to my wife who needs to know that I'm at home, I'm in bed, I haven't had too much to drink and, primely important, that I'm alone," he said. [...]

Hmm. Well, I suppose some people's infinite is shorter than others.

In any event, I have to offer one suggestion. Now, I realize I am not a multimillionaire movie actor jet-setter, but there are these nifty gadgets now called "cell phones" that allow you to call just about anywhere. I realize the roaming charge might be a bit high, but have you ever made a long-distance call from a swanky hotel? And since these new cell phones are so tiny and light, they aren't nearly so damaging to others when thrown at their head.

Anyway, just a thought, Russ.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:06 AM | Comments (6)

No, no...

...can't say as I ever noticed that.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:46 AM | Comments (1)

June 08, 2005

Four hours later...

...there is now another driver in the house.

God help us all.

Interesting tidbit is that amongst the waiting parents at the Bankhead Highway branch, the Center Point location is actually much worse than I described it. I ran into four perfect strangers who, with no solicitation or prompting on my part, told tales even more woeful than Miss Reba's.

Anyway, I have to try to finish up four hours worth of missed work in thirty minutes now.

See you tomorrow!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:35 PM | Comments (1)

Here’s yer snouts and gristle!

AS YOU ALL RECALL, yesterday was brewing into a perfect storm of enmity and ill-will betwixt myself and the civilized world, which is bad. Although somewhat entertaining.

ANYway, as I was sitting at the county health department, Miss Reba was being detained unnecessarily at work by evil forces, and was only able to break free at 12:15. She had to be at Shades Valley High in Irondale at 12:30 to pick up Ashley from driver’s ed. class.

This is a distance of approximately 13.8 miles from her office.

To be driven during the middle of the day.

Across the downtown stretch of Interstates notorious for nonsensical multi-vehicle pileups.

In order to make this jaunt in the proscribed time of fifteen minutes, it would require an average velocity of 55.2 miles per hour. Obviously, nowhere near the average speed of urban Interstate traffic here in the ‘Ham, and with the added inconvenience of several entrance and exit ramps and surface streets that had to be contended with at each end of the trip.

She made it exactly at 12:30. I imagine it was quite a ride.

So, she’s there at the school, but not seen by Oldest, who made the first of several calls to my empty desk to attempt to find out what was going on. Luckily, she finally saw Mom, and the two of them were then on their way to the satellite courthouse facility in Center Point to attempt to take the learner’s license test.

“Attempt” being the operative word.

They arrived and proceeded to attempt to negotiate the lackadaisical, unmotivated shoals of supreme bureaucratic diffidence.

Before I go any further, I would like to categorically state that the persons associated with the Alabama Department of Public Safety who administer testing and process paperwork at the Center Point satellite courthouse are quite possibly the most useless human beings in the entire world. And you may quote me freely. And ladies, whoever your boss is deserves to be fired exactly three seconds before you. Whoever you people are, you’re the ones who not only give hard-working civil servants a bad name, you also give stupid people, women people, fat people, and indeed, all of humankind, a bad name. There.

Reba showed the woman at the counter Ashley’s birth certificate, and her grade report. “Nah--you needs a Social Security card, too.” Reba explained to her that we hadn’t been able to find the card, and that she had two (of the required two) forms of identification that she was supposed to have--at least according to the stuff we read on the website. “Nah, you needs a Social Security card, too.” Reba asked her if the other stuff was okay, and after a careful examination of the certificate and grade report (which has her picture on it, by the way), she seemed satisfied.

From Center Point then to home, during which Ashley made the second call I missed, to let me know what was going on.

IN A STUNNING DISCOVERY, after Reba went through all the paperwork I had ALREADY searched through--guess what?


She FOUND Ashley’s Social Security card!

It was in a big yellow envelope, unmarked, with a bunch of other stuff. INCLUDING THE MISSING COPY OF JONATHAN’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE. What I had in bitter jest speculated about yesterday regarding their co-located status, turned out to be TRUE!

Amazing, I know.

AND, unbeknownst to me, this discovery made my nearly two-hour jaunt to the bowels of the health department entirely unnecessary, superfluous, redundant, and unessential. ::sigh::

WELL, then, on back to Center Point with them.

Arriving, they found that the staff were no longer giving out any numbers to take the test, due to a purported break in communications with Montgomery. Apparently the same one that struck the health department while I was there waiting. Reba, because she is very smart, knew it was futile to try to discuss this with the staff, who were much more worried about getting off on time--AT THREE P.M.--than they were about making sure people got served. So, just to make sure we had all the right stuff so Ashley could go back TODAY and try to take the test, she ONCE MORE got the woman to come over and verify she had all the necessary paperwork.

“I found her card, and we have her birth certificate, and her last report card.”

“Nah, we don’t take no port cards anymore. We did once, but we got to has the ficial rollment form from where she go to school.”

“But I was just in here an hour ago, and you said everything I had was okay!”

“Nah, we don’t take no port cards.”

Reba called the school, and found out the secretary had left for the day. SO, what had to happen THIS MORNING was--

I had to go to my early meeting, so I left the house at 6:20.

Reba took Ashley to Shades Valley before 7:30.

Reba then turned around and dropped the other three kids off at Grandma’s back in Trussville.

Reba THEN went to school to get the ficial rollment form from school, THEN went to work, arriving at 9:15.

I will now leave here, and go get Ashley from Shades Valley before 12:30.

I will then go BACK to Birmingham and drop by Reba’s office and pick up birth certificate, Social Security card, and ficial rollment form.

THEN, I will take Oldest to the Public Safety office over on Bankhead Highway, which is inhabited by an entirely different tribe of trolls, who I’m sure will have a completely different set of procedures. Not necessarily any better than the ones in Center Point, but different.

Then I will come back here, or take Oldest home, or something. I really don’t know.

Now, all this, and not only this, but--I found out last night I have been trapped in the middle of an ambush by an unhappy set of parents at church! Lots of simmering hurt feelings, all based upon something that was said to them about their child, and which was said without first warning me that something was going to be said to them about their child. BUT, it did deal with something over which I have some control, but not knowing what had transpired, I had tried to answer the parental questions-from-right-outta-left-field with what I thought was tact. Not the brutal honest truth (which I found out later would have been the preferred answer), but an answer was given that shaded and attempted to smooth over any unkindnesses.

But, rather than take the not-quite-direct answer as a sign that maybe I was trying to spare their feelings regarding their precious spawn, they took it to mean that what they had been told previously (which conversation I was NOT a party to) was ALL wrong--that there was NOTHING their sweet offspring had done.

Now as for me, if someone had said to me, several times, in several different ways, “well, you KNOW how kids can be sometimes,” I would have taken that as a cue that one of mine needed a little good old-fashioned Old Testamenting. And I would have offered extreme apologies for any trouble and embarrassment they might have caused. But, some people aren’t quite able to take that cue, it seems. And now, there will be all sorts of bright colorful explosions! I can hardly wait!

BUT, now I must hie to Irondale, and back, and forth.

I don’t know if I’ll get back to this today, so wish me luck!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:09 PM | Comments (6)

June 07, 2005

You know...

...this place has just about gotten on my very last nerve. Voltaire said something like 'the perfect is the enemy of the good,' which is true, and even truer when bureaucrats have a hand in it, because the perfection being striven toward is usually perfect stupidity. I tell you what, people are something. Not quite sure what, though.

And I am unanimous in this.

Long night tonight--VBS again (runs through Thursday, actually), and when I get home I'm sure I will get to hear all about whatever happened with the picking up and dropping off of Oldest and the permitting test and what my exact level of culpability will be should anything be amiss, and then tomorrow I have my early morning regulatory meeting that requires me to be downtown very early which always puts me in a right cheerful mood. Then on to work, where I will have to do the paperwork, which puts me in an even more righter, even more cheerfuller mood.

Which means that tomorrow's Possumblog might be full of snouts and gristle.

You have been warned!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:06 PM | Comments (9)


Estimated time to fill out application for duplicate birth certificate and receive copy?

15 to 20 minutes.

Actual time?

85 minutes.

Seems the pipeline from Montgomery to Birmingham was having trouble today, which meant the small waiting area at the squatty health department ziggurat was filled with a host of other folks with nothing better to do than wait at the health department for hours. Something like a combination of the Greyhound station, an emergency room, and the family room at the jail. Except no one was leaving, bleeding, or crying.

Lots of cell phones, though. There was the normal conversation level you might have in a small room punctuated by HEY! WHERE MAMA AT!? or various melodic stylings from providers of jangly polyphonic ringtones. I filled out my form, paid my money, and sat down on a sad squishy cheap red "sofa." There was a young guy across from me--good-looking kid, mid-20s, reading a book of some sort, baggy jeans, listening to some sort of hip urban techno synth music on his headphones, and with the letters L-O-V-E inked across his left knuckles, and P-A-I-N across the right. You know, young feller, when you do such things, you pretty much consign yourself to a life receiving much more of the right than of the left.



Anyway, they finally called my name, and here I am. Walked in and was told that Oldest and Wifest have been calling repeatedly. I wonder what that's all about?

I guess I should have had my cell phone turned on.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)


Not really. I have to run over to the health department to pick up a copy of Jonathan's birth certificate. Why? Well, a year ago, Reba thought we might need it to sign him up for soccer or school or something, and kept after me to get a copy, because we can't find the original at the house. It's probably under a huge stack of paper over on her side of the bed, but obviously, I dare not suggest a thing.

I also did not dare suggest that the fact that we didn't need it for whatever she thought we were going to need it for meant that we didn't need to get a copy.

Have to have it, 'just in case,' you know.

I successfully managed to avoid doing anything for a year now, until last night we were trying to find something Oldest could use as an identification to get her learner's permit. (Reba's taking her today.) Well, they have a laundry list of things you can use--luckily we have her birth certificate--and for some reason Reba hit on the use of her Social Security card. We have any number of the other things--school ID, school enrollment form, tax return, etc., but Reba seemed to think the card HAD to be it.

And guess what? Right--Ashley's SocSec card is probably with Jonathan's birth certificate. The inability to find either of which is my fault, because I never ordered a replacement copy of his birth certificate, and because I am a man.

So I was told to get Boy's certificate today, and to find out how to get a duplicate card. And yes, I know all the reasons why the actual Social Security card is more trouble than it's worth to have around, but you're not dealing with me, you're dealing with Miss Reba, and once she sets her mind that something is needful, there is no other recourse. As for the other form of identification she took with her today, she settled on using Ashley's final report card, but under extreme protest, and only because Ashley HAS to get her learner's permit TODAY. They are supposed to start operating a motor vehicle TOMORROW!

It's a good thing I am so calm.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:32 AM | Comments (9)

Obscure Architect of the Day!

In a bit of change of pace from obscure architectural terms, today we have--

PYTHIOS (fl. 353-334 B.C.). Architect and theorist working in Asia Minor. With Satyros he designed and wrote an account of the most famous and elaborate sepulchral monument of antiquity, the richly sculpted Mausoleum built for the Carian satrap Mausolos at Halicarnassus and numbered among the seven wonders of the world (begun before 353 B.C. and finished after 350; scuptured fragments now in the British Museum). He was also the architect of the large temple of Athena Polias at Priene (dedicated 334; fragments now in Berlin and British Museum) in which the Ionic order was thought to have achieved its canonical form. In a treatise on this building (known to Vitruvius but now lost) he extolled the perfection of its proportions, criticized the Doric order and, apparently for the first time, recommended a wide training for the architect who, he said, 'should be able to do more in all the arts and sciences than those who, by their industry and exertions, bring single disciplines to the highest reknown'.

From the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, 3rd Edition.

Whew! Lot's of information in there, so I figured I would just add in links to all the various interesting stuff. Just click on the links in the text to see what all is being talked about.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

Well, errr, how nice.

Yesterday was Oldest's first day of summer school, with driver's ed being the first thing up. Things move quickly in summer school, apparently. She now has a boat operator's license.


I was assaulted by a jabbering brood of children when I got to Grandmom's yesterday, and they kept telling me Ashley got her boat license, which I ignored because the only thing she knows about boats is that they float. But, sure enough, as part of the course of instruction, they also have to get instructions necessary to receive a boat license. How very, very odd.

All through my young growing up years, my dad and I had a variety of runabouts and speedboats, the last being an 18 foot Tahiti jet with a 450 horse 454 Chevy in the stern. It was loud as a NASCAR stocker (open headers, don't you know) and was fast in a highly entertaining and frightening way, but for a 15 or 16 year old kid, it was certainly a blast to play with.

Now after my dad died back in '84, I never really felt the pull of the water again, and I was in college and still had another four years to go, so the boat was sold and that was it. After college, there was the job, and then marriage, and various other things, but never really any interest in getting another boat. (Except for my retirement dream of buying a restored steam tug, but that's another story.)

But the point is, when I was growing up, kids could get in a boat and go anywhere--the operator's license requirements didn't come along until the '90s. Even though from my youngest days--even before I could legally operate a car--I have been at the helm of various watercraft that were the aquatic equivalent of the stuff you see in The Fast and the Furious, I had never had a boat license. And when the license requirements did come in, I never really felt that compelled to get one, seeing as how I don't have a boat or anything.

But now, by virtue of one day-long class, my 15 year old daughter, whose only boating experience was riding the Dauphin Island ferry, can now legally operate a craft on the waterways of our great state--any kind of boat--and I can't.

It is a very strange world.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:54 AM | Comments (9)

June 06, 2005

Lest we forget...

June 6, 1944

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Americans received word that three years of concerted war efforts had finally culminated in D-day--military jargon for the undisclosed time of a planned British, American, and Canadian action. During the night, over 5,300 ships and 11,000 planes had crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy. The goal of every soldier and civilian involved in that effort was to drive the German military back to Berlin by opening a western front in Europe. [...]

From the D-Day Museum, Portsmouth, England:

[...] Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. This figure includes over 209,000 Allied casualties, with nearly 37,000 dead amongst the ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths amongst the Allied air forces. Of the Allied casualties, 83,045 were from 21st Army Group (British, Canadian and Polish ground forces), 125,847 from the US ground forces. The losses of the German forces during the Battle of Normandy can only be estimated. Roughly 200,000 German troops were killed or wounded. The Allies also captured 200,000 prisoners of war (not included in the 425,000 total, above). During the fighting around the Falaise Pocket (August 1944) alone, the Germans suffered losses of around 90,000, including prisoners.

Today, twenty-seven war cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German, 9386 American, 17,769 British, 5002 Canadian and 650 Poles.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed, mainly as a result of Allied bombing. Thousands more fled their homes to escape the fighting. [...]

To this day, I have always thought that the most gripping account of D-Day is that by Cornelius Ryan, a historian and writer whose vivid style and attention to detail made the breadth of the undertaking and its challenges leap off the page. He also made the cost of that undertaking close and immediate, and poignant.

To those Overlord veterans who defeated Hitler, and to the families of the men who remain in the soil of Europe, thank you.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:54 PM | Comments (3)

Like the derned Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom or something.

Up early Sunday, dress, get wife up, get kids up, wander around shouting admonishments to get dressed so we can leave on time for once, go downstairs with the intent of fixing some breakfast. But, no one to eat it yet, so I decided to go see how my freshly cut grass looked.

Walked outside--::sniffffffffff::ahhhhhh:: Everything looked so nice. It was quiet and still and the birds were contendedly eating some seeds and WHOA MAMA! That's not really what you expect to see on the Lord's Day!

There, clutching the bottom of the window screen were two of the numerous little green lizards that swarm around the planter area. And it was INCREDIBLY apparent as to what they were doing, out there for everyone to see, because I could hear Barry White singing "Let's Get it On" on a tiny little stereo somewhere, and they were all wrapped up in a tangle of tails and hindquarters.

Randy little reptiles! HEY! GET A ROOM!

I left them to their assignations and scampered back into the house lest I be overcome with all sorts of the wrong ideas. The kids finally came down to eat, but rest assured I did not encourage them to take a morning nature walk. They need to learn about stuff like that on the school yard.

On to church, and in the SECOND episode of "Brushes with Wild Animals," as I made the turn to go out to the main road, there was a great huge honkin' rabbit hopping alongside the road. "LOOK! A RABBIT!" For a minute there I thought it might be Harvey, because no one else saw it. Then again, everyone else was reading or watching a DVD. Cat said, "AWwwww--I ALWAYS miss EVERYthing!"

Start looking out the window, kid.

On up Roper Road, and in a STUNNING discovery, what did I see beside the road, patiently waiting to cross, but a SNAPPING TURTLE! "LOOK! A SNAPPING TURTLE!"

Again--no one saw it but me. And no one really cared. ::sigh:: So much for that shot at replacing Marlin Perkins.

The rest of the morning was uneventful--class, worship, home for some lunch, read the paper, "Can you take me to go find balloons at the Dollar Store?" ::sigh::

"Let me finish the paper."

"Okay. When are you going to be finished?"

"When I get through."

"When will that be?"

"When I'm finished."

"Are you finished yet?"

"Did I say I was finished?"

"No, sir."

"Then I'm not finished."

I did finally get finished. Off to find balloons, with a stop off at the grocery store to pick up some cookies for VBS refreshments. Everyone brings some, but we hadn't take ours yet, and I didn't want to look like a cheapskate. Although I am.

Did that (and found balloons at Winn Dixie), and used the trip to the Dollar Store for 16 cheap rolls of adhesive tape and a surprise grab bag for Mommy.

Home, was immediately blasted by the high-pitched sqUEEEEEEEEL-PBTpbtpbt of balloons being alternately inflated and allowed to sputter empty. ::sigh::

Shoulda knowed better.

Off to evening worship, and as noted the kickoff to Vacation Bible School, which for those of you who don't know, is a thing churches do to try to get kids to come to church, with the offhand hope that they might get their parents to come.

This might have worked better in the past, but today's parents just see it as a convenient way to get rid of their kids for a few hours. ::sigh:: At least we make sure they learn something while they're with us. A lot of places just have play time for an hour, but we have all the cool Bible songs and stuff.

One of my favorites, if for no other reason than the rather macabre Addams Family-esque overtones to it is the 10 Plagues Song, sung to the tune of "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat:"

Blood, frogs, lice and flies,
Murrain on cows and
Boils on men,
Hail and fire and locusts and darkness,
and last the death of the firstborn child.

Whole lotta smitin' goin' on!

Evening worship, then a few mad moments spent trying to answer questions about the teaching schedule I had posted for the upcoming year and rearrange everthing to suit folks, THEN VBS, then class, then COOKIES, and then to home. Got there about ten o'clock. Maybe the rest of the week won't be quite so late.

Aww, who am I trying to kid?!

Anyway, that's a teensy, hit-the-high-points slice of what I did this weekend.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:25 PM | Comments (8)

Where was I?

Not that it matters.

Anyway, outside into the hot. Rebecca and Catherine ran to go get their bikes, and Jonathan got out the scooter. They played and fought with each other and fussed and feuded until Jonathan had enough of the company or the climate, or both, and went inside. I stayed out of it, other than to warn of approaching vehicles.

I had bigger fish to fry anyway--those ugly spots in the tire well were making me uneasy. Got the spare out, noted it needed a good cleaning, and got some spray cleaner and doused the well. Say, whaddya know! It wasn’t rust, but hunks of tar or sealant or something that had spattered into the inside from who knows where. I got some degreaser and in not long at all, it looked brand new down in there. (As if anyone but me would care.) I remembered to take out the soggy mat from the trunk. Very odd, that. There wasn’t any rust, and the top carpet seemed dry, but the fiber mat was soaked. Maybe it was from the car wash.

Anyway, I took that out and laid it on the driveway. You all probably didn’t realize this, but laying an old dirty insulation pad on your driveway attracts children, who for some reason don’t listen to you when you keep yelling to STAY OFF THE MAT and keep stepping all over it and rolling their bicycles over it. “But my tires need air in them, Daddy!”

Oh, well, by all means, tromple all over whatever you find in the driveway, dear.

I took a break and aired her tires up while Rebecca zoomed around. “Daddy?”


“Could you take my training wheels off so I could ride like Rebecca?”

Oh, my--quite a big step, you know. She’s the last one with training wheels (which, truth be told, are the wrong thing to teach balance with, but whatever) and she was ready to make the move to the big time.

“Well, I can take ‘em off, but now remember, you’ll have to actually balance and not make the wheels hold you up.”

“I know!”

No she didn’t. But, if she was game, so was I. Grabbed the wrench and took the wheels off and put them in the take away box. “Goodbye, training wheels!” I said. “Yay!” said she.

We rolled back out to the end of the driveway, where I walked around a bit with her and got her to roll a few feet before falling. She was actually doing okay, so I left her with big sister and went back to my cleaning, which had moved over to the other fender well, that was coated with an odd orangey film. Seems the fuel filler overflow spigots itself down through a small tube and out the bottom of the car, but some of it must have leaked, leaving a trail of varnish. Repeat cleaning procedure, and in no time, I had yet another spiffy clean trunk well on the passenger side. (Again, as if anyone cares but me.)


Oh, good grief. “SHE’S NOT HELPING ME!”

Acrimony and recriminations, and Rebecca decided she had better things to do. Which left a crying Catherine in my care. So, we got a drink, then decided after we’d go back out and try it again. “If the ice cream truck comes by, can we get some?”

One thing after another.

“Cat, we’ve GOT ice cream in the freezer!”

“I knowwww.”

Winsome little turdmurkle--“Tell you what, after you get through riding, you can have some of that later.”

SO, she rode some. At some point in our perambulations, Reba went with Boy and Middle Girl to the store to look for herself some clothing, giving Tiny Girl and I a bit more room to roll. Which we did for about fifteen minutes.

“Okay! I’m finished! Let’s eat ice cream, Daddy!”

Which we did. And then it was time for the super terrific fun zone time!

“Hey, Catherine--how would you like to ride with me up to Sam’s and get gas in the Volvo, and then get some windshield wiper blades for it?”

“Can I get some balloons? Not the tiny kinds you make animals with, but the big ones--the big round ones?”


Guys, you’re going to have your hands full with this one when she comes of age.

I didn’t promise anything, because I really didn’t want to traipse through the store looking the way I did--sunburnt, disheveled, dirty torn jeans, and a black tee-shirt with a big round tie-die looking ring of dried salt on the front and back from where I had sweated on it.

And she didn’t look any better--sweaty, with helmet hair, a pair of dirty shorts, an oversized stained white tee-shirt, and her mother’ white beach sandals that were about six sizes too big for her. And she stank to high heavens--little girl, hot sun, much sweat, and a perpetual bicycle seat wedgie do not a pleasant combination make.

But, whatever. It’s not like anyone will know who we are. Unless, you know, they do.

Off to Sam’s, and calculate that with my rough estimation of miles driven since I bought the Volvo that it has returned a highly respectable 27 mpg. It’ll be interesting to see how accurate that is now that the odometer actually works, but I think it’s probably pretty close.


I parked in the back by the oil change place so as not to stink up the place walking through from the front. Found myself some Tripledge blades, which purport to be guaranteed for the life of the car. We’ll see which one wears out first, I suppose.


I thought she had forgotten. So the dirty little waif and her big dirty oaf father walked over to the toy aisle. Plenty of everything except regular old balloons. Skinny ones, giant ones, but none plain. “Hmmm--I do seem to remember that there might be some over there,” she pointed, “over there in where the stuff for parties is.”

“Ohhhohoho, no way, kid! We look and smell too bad to go over there, we’ll just have to get them another time.”


Persistent little cuss. “We’ll see.”

I felt like Pigpen from the “Charlie Brown” comic strip, and we had to stand in line forever waiting for a highly trained sales associate to check us out. And, of course, it was my luck to be in line behind one of the horde of perfectly toned and tanned fashionable young blonde things who populate my hometown. Not that it mattered, but I usually do clean up a bit more to go to fancy stores like Wal-Mart--really, I do!

Paid, and to home, started putting on my wipers, greeted the return of Reba and the middle children, and then adjusted the spray nozzles atop the hood so that they were at precisely the right angle to deliver their precious essence to the windshield. (Not than anyone would care but me.)

Supper, bathe kids, laundry, shower, collapse on bed while Reba was working on her schoolwork for tonight, and woke up again Sunday, which was…



Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:30 PM | Comments (2)

Oh! Guess what!

It just started raining again!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:31 PM | Comments (4)

Got up early Saturday--

put on some pants, walked outside, misting rain.


Well, it was just gonna have to stop raining. It's been several weeks since both the back yard and front yard were both cut at the same time, and the whole place was getting to the "scary neighbor with a secret" sort of overgrownness. So, it was going to get cut, even if I messed it up. At least it would be a neatly cropped and shorn mess.

But first, other things--figured I'd feed the birdies. Great time-waster, that. Cleaned out the feeders tubes of the leftover bits and filled them up, and once more marvelled at the design of these things. Several years back, one of the running bits herein was my battle with brushy-tailed tree rats (i.e., squirrels) getting into the feeders. We've had feeders for years, and nothing I tried could simultaneously feed birds and starve squirrels.

I bought three of these, made by Heath (the Silver Sky tube feeder at the bottom left)--and haven't had any problems since. They combine a clear plastic tube (which is too slick for the little vermin to get a toehold and lets you see how much seed is left), with small metal perches that are too slick and too short for the little vermin to get a toehold AND are gnawproof. And that seems to be about it. I have two mounted right next to trees, and none of them are more than a few feet off the ground, but try as they might, the squirrels just can't get at them. No baffles, no motors, no bother. I do leave them a few seeds on the ground to keep them lured away, but it's nothing like the amount they can eat if they get into the feeder. I remember one time we had a cedar bin-type feeder with a tray, and I walked out one day and a squirrel was lying there in the tray on his bulging stomach eating everthing he could get.

Take THAT stupid rodents!

Anyway, filled those up, wandered around the yard a bit more, came inside and folded some clothes, saw that the sun had finally peeked through the mist, and that it was time to get out the ol' Murray.

Start it up, get to work, then hit a patch of particularly heavy wet grass and start the first round of cacophony from the underside of the mower. Hmmm. Not sound good, Kemosabe.

Took it over onto the driveway, turned it over, and saw that the blade I had put on at the end of last season had gotten loose. Stupid blade. And there was no tightening it--the bolt was ever so slightly too long--by mere thousands of an inch, and just long enough to not really snug down tight and hold the blade in place. So it just clattered and spun independent of the driveshaft. Grr.

Need me another washer.

Stumbled around in the garage over and through the stacks of Other Family Members' Giant, Must-Not-Be-Thrown-Out Stacks o' Crap until I got to the tiny portion of space reserved for Unimportant Items Belonging To Father. Rummaged though my little bins full of bits and pieces and found a nice washer that should have worked just fine--AND DID! Hooray for being a packrat!

Wrenched it tight, turned it over, and got back to work.

Putter, drone, putter. Usually when I cut grass, my mind wanders to unsolvable mysteries, such as why Howard Dean is in charge of ANYthing, much less the Democratic Party, but Saturday I was mostly just in that little zone of near-consciousness. Which was rather rudely interrupted by the dronedroneCLANGCLANGCLANG--

of the lawn-mower hitting something and stopping itself deader than a hammer. Hmmm Grr.

Backed up a bit, and found a nicely mangled bit of sheetmetal that had in a previous life served as a cover for the drive belt underneath the mower. Seems it had come adrift, right into the path of the newly tightened blade.

"Whatcha doing, Daddy?"

WHOA! Were'd she come from!?

"Nothing, Cat--this piece of metal came loose under the mower and made it stop."


"Because it's old and had several loose screws, just like your pater familias."


"Here, go take this and go put it on the stone bench and stay out of the yard, okay?"

"Can I ride my bicycle?

"Not until I finish this."

"When are you going to finish?"

"I don't know--now go do what I said."

She daintily held the hunk of steel in her hand and wandered on back to the house with it and I cranked up the mower again. First pull. Must be made by Timex or something!

More droning puttering until brrrrCLANGCLANG-THWIPPPPZING--

yet more metal carnage. This time it had come out from underneath at a rather rapid clip before stopping the engine. Another piece of the cover plate covering the drive belt. I heard Cat call from the porch, "Did it do it again, Daddy!?"

Why, yes it did.

She ran out to get the metal and put it with the other hunk, and I went back to trying to finish the grass. "Can I ride my bike now?"


Started it back up, and the remainder of the backyard was uneventCLANG-RIPBR!CLANG--

Not again!

Why, yes, Terry--again! Just like Teletubbies!

I rolled the poor thing over once more, and this time was QUITE impressed. A BIG hunk of sheetmetal, coiled up like a sardine can lid, with several big bite marks from the blade gouged into it. This piece was a cover over the FRONT axle, and had gone from one side to the other. Until it came loose on one side and got wound up like a clockspring by the blade.



She ran back out to take a look and I showed her the mess. "Wow."


I worked the metal back and forth, hoping to get it to break, but no luck. Inside to get my tin snips in an attempt to shear off the piece, had to explain that they were big scissors for metal and not to touch them, started trying to cut the metal and one of the rivets popped right off. Hmm. If one can come loose, so can the other, and, in fact, it did. I carried this one to the stone bench myself because it was so full of sharp edges. "Can I ride my bicycle yet, Dad?"


Went back and cranked the mower again. One pull.

As the old timers used to say, "If it still runs after you lose a part, you must not a'needed that piece." Reba said something about maybe it was time to get a new one, and I just laughed it off. She seems not to remember the last one we had, which developed a crack in the deck at one of the engine mounting bolts. The crack eventually grew to encompass two, then three bolts, running rougher and rougher with every use. I finally got rid of it when the motor separated itself completely from its moorings.

As long as it runs and cuts, no new mower.

Finally got all finished up, both front and back, and in the intervening time, summer arrived full bore and taking no prisoners. I had put on my straw hat, but my arms were uncovered, and so I am proud to say my farmer tan has returned with a vengeance.

I went inside and cooled off for a while and after being pestered for an hour with entreaties to ride bikes, I finally relented. Then again, I did have an ulterior motive--playing with the car.

I had noticed the pad under the carpet in the trunk was wet, so that needed to be gotten out, and the spare tire well looked like it had rust in it. Not good. And I wanted to get to old window stickers out of the back window.

SO, back outside into the now broiling Alabama afternoon, with not one, not two, but three children in tow, all wanting to ride their bicycles.

Which you will all get to hear about after lunch!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:37 AM | Comments (7)

Where are your shoes!?

"I didn't put any on."

"But you've got your socks on!"

"I know."

And thus begins yet another Monday morning, with a small girl throwing logic to the winds and arriving at her grandma's house having successfully managed to sneak herself unshod out of the house and into the automobile.


WELL, a fun weekend of intense physical labor and sunburn, and yes, a trip to Wal-Mart!

The first part of it was spent Friday night, when I excitedly got home expecting to be able to tear into the dashboard of the Volvo, but then had to turn around and go back and get the kids. Reba got stuck at work, so, well, you know. Went and got them, brought them home, started supper, started some laundry, and prayed a certain wife would hurry home so I could play.

Which she did. I gathered my instruction sheet and set to work--it really is incredibly simple to take the thing apart, which is either a testament to Swedish ingenuity or things just used to be simpler 20 years ago. Pull two knobs, pop a piece of plastic off, undo two screws, pop two more pieces of plastic off, undo two screws, pull, unplug four cables, TA-DAAAA.

Then the hard part, having to take this deal apart on the kitchen table surrounded by children who don't quite understand what's going on and a wife who's trying to get supper on the table.

Undo six screws, pull back panel, undo four screws, pull speedometer out, undo two screws on the side and ooOOOOoooo--look! Sure enough, the tiny little gear inside was missing teeth in three different spots. Now--to put it back together, but more importantly, how to get the numbers to add up right.

See, the odometer broke at 173,660 or so, and the car actually has 213,305 miles on it. How do I know? Because the previous owner was something of an obsessive-compulsive sort, and when the odometer broke, rather than having it fixed (or fixing it himself), he spent the next 39,645 miles carefully logging his daily mileage on a little calendar book. I assume he must have already clocked all the distances to various places (OCD can be SO handy!) and so, that's how he kept up with oil changes and fuel mileage and timing belt replacements and every other thing.

ANYway, I bought the car knowing the mileage wasn't right, and the title is marked as such. What's actually supposed to happen is that you either reset the odometer to zero, or you leave it where it is, and mark it down on a label fixed to the car. But I wanted it to read the right(ish) number of miles, mainly because it's just easier to keep up with maintenance that way, and I also have some sort of oddly misplaced and perverted sense of pride in driving very high mileage vehicles. So, I needed to add 39,645 miles to the odometer.

But I didn't know how.

So, I stuck my finger inside where the gears are and saw that by spinning the first one, I could eventually get the mile counters to turn over. I managed through an incredibly laborious half-hour of twiddling to add over 100 miles to the counter, which would mean that to get it completely up to count would only have taken 198 hours. Need something faster, obviously.

I kept trying to figure out another way, because obviously if it was this hard to set odometers BACK, there'd be no profit in it for chopshops. I hit upon the idea of using some of that compressed air stuff like you clean keyboards with to spin the tiny paddlewheel-shaped wheel that makes the works go, but obviously, I don't keep that stuff around, SO, a trip to the store!

Since I was out, I was also tasked with picking up various other stuff, then finally found my air, got home, and YAY! It WORKED! Sorta. It was really good for the first few hundred spins of the dial, but as the escaping gas made the can go cold, the force of the air coming out grew weaker and weaker. Good thing I had TWO cans! Which only made the slightest difference, seeing as how the second can was still bound by the same laws of gas pressure. Did manage to get more than a thousand miles on there in thirty minutes, which meant I could have finished up the task in maybe 20 hours or so. Still not fast enough.

Maybe I needed more consistency--not having to start and stop and all. SO, next best thing? The portable air compressor, with the ball inflation needle inserted in the end! A tiny high pressure blast of air, which sorta worked okay, but had to be positioned exactly right. Which I was unable to do for very long. And the compressor was making my head hurt with its high-pitched WhhhIPIPIPIPIPIPIPPIPIPIPIP sound.

Hmm. Sumpin's gotta give, here.

I took the gauge back inside and sat back down at the table and tried to figure out how to make this thing go faster. I FINALLY figured out the secret, though, which I will not post here for fear of encouraging misbehavior, but it does involve moving a small axle ever so slightly out of the way. After that was done, I was able to set the mileage exactly where I wanted it, and then button the whole thing back up. It also gave me quite the case of the willies, because I finally figured out how easy it is to commit odometer fraud if you're really trying to get away with something, and especially with older type geared odometers.

I had always read that it was possible to tell about tampering if the numbers didn't quite line up. Which is true. What they never mention is that if you do it right, the numbers line up nicely. I had a couple that were off half a line to begin with, but a second or two of care and they were all marching across there with no misalignment. The caveat then is to never simply trust the reading on the odometer--always ask for service records or other proof that the mileage is accurate, and there's more to it than just trusting the Carfax report. My car was clean enough inside to pass for a car with only 100,000 miles, and since it only had one owner, any tampering wouldn't have shown up on any report. Buyer beware, folks, especially with anything more than a few years old.

Anyway, after getting things fixed back to normal, and rescrewing everything together in the cluster, and fixing a couple of burnt-out panel lights, and making a careful notation in Sharpie on the back of the cluster of the work I had done, it was time to plug it back into the dashboard. I will give you an indication of how simple the process was by letting you know that my confidence was so high that I put the panel back together in the dark on the driveway. AND IT WORKED. Drove it around the block three times to make sure it was clicking around as it should, and it did.

Home, finish putting on the various trim bits, put up the two screwdrivers I had used, and that was it for the night.

SATURDAY, now--now THAT'S a whole 'nother day. About which, more in a while.

Staff meeting, you know.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:52 AM | Comments (7)

June 03, 2005

And speaking of tearing things up...

It's awfully close to time to tear up the road to get home. The weekend looks to be one that will be filled with all sorts of potential for disaster, so things might be more interesting around here come Monday. Then again, maybe not.

BUT, no matter, there will still be plenty of things to do. I'll bring my Watch Paint Dry kit, and then after that, we can play Chutes and Ladders!

SO, come back next week, and we'll see what there is to see.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

You know that scene...

...the one in The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman is at the pool, and the guy tells him he's got "just one word" for him? That scene? Well, that guy was right!

I checked the mail yesterday and was tickled to see a USPS Priority Mail envelope, which meant my brand spankin' new plastic gear had arrived to I could fix the odometer in the Volvo! Hooray. I scurried inside and opened up the envelope.

Now, I have looked and looked at all the pictures on the 'net, and I knew it was supposed to be small, but in real life, you know what? It IS small. Tiny. Miniscule. Petite. Near microscopic. A small translucent white wafer about 4/10s of an inch in diameter, with 25 itsy little teeth marching around the perimeter.

Seems like 29 bucks is a bit on the steep side, but then again, I'm not in plastics. And I suppose it's better to pay $29 than a hundred, or two, to have someone else take out the gauge and replace the eensy little shard of petrochemicals.

Anyway, I can hardly wait until tomorrow, when I get to tear all KINDS of things up trying to fix the thing!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

Confession is good for the soul.

I watched this last night.

There. I admitted it. I--I couldn't resist--I was working on something on the computer, and the teevee remote was right there, and, well, I grabbed it and clicked the infernal box on, and--oh, oh, oh. My, oh my. I thank my lucky stars I marked "Become a young rock star and then appear on a reality show twenty years after your prime and embarrass yourself" off of my list of things to do for a living. It was so bad, I just couldn't turn it off.

Biggest disappointment? A baseball cap on jowly Mike Score. I figure all that youthful hair sculpting must have driven him bald.

Fashion police? Well, you all know I like the full-figured gals, but that second outfit Tiffany had on with the big belt and too-tight red top and denim miniskirt was not at all flattering to her, and accentuated the symptoms of her case of Dunlop disease.

"Who!?" followed by childish giggling? CeCe Peniston.

Anyway, I'm sorry, but I couldn't help myself.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)


There's a giant fiery ball in the sky! WE'RE GONNA BURN UP!

Well, it finally did clear up, which really is nice. Actually, all the rain does have the side benefit of giving the streets and sidewalks a much needed flushing. It almost smells clean out there!

Had to run to lunch sorta late today. The 11 to 1 crowd downtown is pretty staid--mostly office workers, with the odd smattering of urban campers--most of whom aren't the least bit energetic enough to pose a threat. But the 2 to 5 crowd is quite different, or maybe I just notice it more since I'm the only civilian wandering around. I always try to look for the regulars, like Bicycle Riding Guy or Hi-Tech Scooter Panhandler, because I figure things are cool if they're around. The obvious strangers make me a bit nervous, though, like the scrawny short-haired gamine who was loitering on the sidewalk at the bottom of the stairs. Standing there dragging on a smoke, big sundial tatto on her upper bicep--is she really that interested in reading the cornerstone inscription?

Well, yeah, probably.

I mean, not everyone is out there waiting to pounce on chubby civil servants, you know!

I got to the bottom of the steps and she turned and walked on up the sidewalk. I crossed over to the park side of the street. Just to be safe.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:59 PM | Comments (2)

Nothing new under the sun...

From this to this.

Wonder what the old fellow would think?

Probably wonder what took us so long, and why the thing has to look so goofy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:22 PM | Comments (6)

I wondered what the smoke was all about.

It was just a part of my childhood, that's all.

Spivey's hobby store burns

It was a crappy old building, in a tough and crumbling part of town, but once inside it was a wonderland for kids like me who enjoyed building plastic models, or other kids who built rockets, or the ones who built radio control airplanes and cars.

Spivey's had anything you could think of, and never threw anything out. In with all the new stuff, you could find all sorts of kits that had languished on shelves for years--some that had once been hot, like maybe a Star Wars landspeeder from the real first movie, or a Six Million Dollar Man figure and diorama--and then had somehow managed not to get sold. Stuff like that was still there, dusty, waiting for some rabid collector or just some kid from the neighborhood to pick it up. Old Mr. Spivey, bless him, was always kind of scary to me. He had a gruff directness about him, but he was always patient and full of information.

I had seen some smoke off to the west yesterday afternoon, and figured it was a house fire of some sort. Little did I know what was gone now. It was hard to watch the footage on the news last night. Mr. Spivey was beside himself, wondering why the firemen weren't doing more to put the fire out; but surely he knew that with all that plastic, and all that glue and fuel and paper and mess, there was no way to save it. And there wasn't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:23 PM | Comments (7)

Yet more news from the train wreck.

'Nother note--Scrushy Jury Deadlocked

"The jury for the Richard Scrushy trial has sent the judge a note expressing their inability to reach a verdict.

The jury sent the note to Judge Karon Bowdre at 10:27 a.m. Friday expressing their concerns.

"We regret to inform the court that we are unable to reach a verdict," said the note. [...]"

Well, all I have to say is that there have to be a some people in there who just don't care. They haven't really worked long enough to actually, really, deliberate on each of those thirty-some-odd charges (they didn't even work yesterday), and just about every other day they've met they've done nothing but send notes saying they can't reach a decision. There has been some talk locally that the judge might issue an Allen charge to them, which she might do, but it seems now to just be a waste of taxpayer's money. They've been told and been told to do something, and they aren't. I don't think the judge is going to dismiss the charges, either, though, so get ready for yet more of the Traveling Dickie Bird Media Circus for the foreseeable future.

Tips for the next case? The Feds need to streamline things a bit and clean up any perceived discrepancies, and the next judge needs to enforce a strict gag order and look real hard at sequestering the jury.

UPDATE: Well, the most recent viewing of the story says that an Allen charge was issued. For what it's worth.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:34 AM | Comments (8)

Modern Efficiency.

Well, Boy got his wires and clips off his dentures this morning, so after that was done I dropped him off with Grandma and Grandpa and headed toward work. Being that I was feeling a bit on the peckish side (not having had the Most Important Meal of the Day), I decided to swing by the Gilded Parabolas and get myself one of their delicious "breakfast" "burrito" combos.

As I stood there waiting at the counter, there was an A/C repair guy in front of me waiting to get his order, and he was holding an empty coffee cup. This particular branch of the Kroc empire has set itself up so that each customer is given a cup and allowed to serve himself the beverage of his choice, in order to give the illusion of faster service.

IN ANY EVENT, our repairman had apparently tried to serve himself some coffee, and found that the spiffy self-serve dispenser carafe had run dry. He had come back and told the bedraggled woman at the cashier stand that the coffee thingamabob was empty, and could he have a cup of coffee, please?

With the sort of rote behavior to be expected of a highly-trained staff member of a professional purveyor of fine victuals, she turned around and grabbed the familar pot-bellied glass jug from under the coffeemaker, swung around, and began pouring its contents into the top of the empty coffee dispenser over on the side counter. The repair guy just sort of stood there in a dejected sort of way, expecting (as had I) that since the motion required to retrieve the glass jug and turn to the dispenser had brought the precious coffee juice to within mere inches of his cup, that it would have been just as simple to go ahead and give him his swig first, BEFORE filling up the dispenser. Or, alternately, that the last remaining coffee bits in the glass jug could have been saved out--just enough to fill his cup.


It all gurgled down in there, with an added tap-tap just to make sure the last drop got into the officially designated coffee-holding device.

I heard him quietly say under his breath, "Hm. I reckon I'll have to go get it out of that."

Yep, reckon so. Probably faster that way.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)

June 02, 2005

Well, I'll be doggone!

It DID clear up a bit today--there's some blue sky out there! And actual shadows! Which can only mean one thing...

[whine] It's too hot! It's too humid! Whaaaaaaa! [/whine]

Not really--it's actually pleasantly pleasant out there, and the unintended side effect of all the rain was to drive The Loud Screaming Guy under cover.

IN OTHER NEWS--Boy goes to the orthodontist tomorrow morning to have his braces removed. I am told by the chief wire puller that this will be a temporary respite, and that he might need further correction later on. Which will, of course, require more money. ::sigh::

Anyway, see you all later on tomorrow morning sometime.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:35 PM | Comments (3)

Finally, a cure for Navin Johnsonitis...

Study: Parents can help babies get rhythm

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

Of Lawnmowers and Englishmen

Museum entices lawnmower lovers out of the shed

Offered to you without commentary, except to note the final paragraph:

[...] "I have been to many museums, but none so exciting or interesting as this one," reads one guestbook entry.

"Must get a lawn."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

And what of that celebrity birthday I spoke of at the start of the day?

Well, friends, in addition to tomorrow being National Doughnut Day, it also marks the birthday of none other than Wendy Garner!

Happy Birthday to you, Miss Wendy!

Some of you might recall that Wendy and her family go to church with Citizen Captain Frank Myers and his family, and she tells me that Frank's much-anticipated homecoming from Iraq is scheduled for the July 4th weekend. All of you be sure to keep Frank and his wife and kids in your prayers--he works in a dangerous sort of place, and Renee's job as a military wife is a tough one, too.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

Standard Answer #298

"Cover lightly with maple syrup."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:56 PM | Comments (7)


I think you guys need to get out a bit more.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

Obscure Architectural Term of the Day!

HYPERBOLIC PARABOLOID ROOF. A special form of double-curved shell, the geometry of which is generated by straight lines. This property makes it easy to construct. The shape consists of a continuous plane developing from a parabolic arch in one direction to a similar inverted parabola in the other. See figure 55.

From the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, Third Edition.

Well, lemme tell you, if something needed a picture to go along with it, THIS is the thing that needs it.

Here’s a really cool Java toy from the one of the profs at the University of Minnesota that you can rotate with your mouse. (The paraboloid, not the professor.) And then there’s this site with all kinds of complicated words, and nifty paper things you can fold up!

This type of roof was most popular in the early Jet Age, mainly because it looks really cool and swoopy and modern and sciencey. Here’s an example, (more along the lines of a folded plate roof really, since it’s not curvy) of the roof of the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. They are structurally efficient, in that they can be formed by creating a very thin (like around 3 inches or less) concrete shell, with the shape giving it very high strength for its weight. But, you don’t see them much anymore (solid ones, at least--fabric dome structures still use the geometry to good effect). The Jetson’s look got to be passé, and they are rather difficult to manage during construction, and you can’t very well set a condensing unit on top of them or run vent stacks through them without ruining the lovely swoopiness, and they tend to wiggle around and make leaky spots where there are window frames underneath, and 3 inches of concrete provides a surprisingly poor thermal barrier.

Still, they are pretty neat to look at.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:29 PM | Comments (3)

Did I mention...

...that it FINALLY stopped raining, and the sun came out, and it's just simply the most BEAUTIFUL sunshiney day EVER today!?

Oh, good.

Because it hasn't, and it isn't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:04 PM | Comments (8)

Who knew!?

Fan claims comedian Gallagher hit him

Gallagher still has fans?! Amazing.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:48 AM | Comments (5)


Tomorrow, Friday, June 3 is National Doughnut Day!


[*Local Birmingham reference for fans of Lonnie Bumpus Jones.]

Via Snopes.com.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (7)


Well-known Georgia tractorist Dave Helton sent me a very nice photo this morning of something he describes as an Alabama bass boat.

I report, you decide:

Now, maybe I'm just trying too hard to make excuses, but the guy's red ball cap does have the University of Alabama logo on it, and there are many Bama fans outside of Alabama, so this might more accurately be labeled a Crimson Tide bass boat, so as not to offend the rest of us here in the state who would have been smart enough to strap a styrofoam cooler on there.

Dumb ol' hick.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:43 AM | Comments (5)

So, what's this about garden gnomes?!

Well, a certain business professor got to wondering how hard it is to make these things, specifically with an eye toward doing some generic school mascot sorts of gnomes, for various rabid fans who tend to purchase anything even remotely related to their university's mascot.

Hmm. Sounds like a pretty good idea--which I suppose is why someone's already in the business of doing it. ::sigh:: I did a bit of looking this morning and found that someone has already stuck a toe in the Officially Licensed Collegiate Garden Gnome market. Now, as Jim noted, no matter which school you choose, the body of the gnome is the same, so these aren't quite what he had in mind, which was something a bit more customized to each school.

Of course, Auburn has already had our own tiny garden gnome as a head coach, so as Jim suggested, something more like a gnomish tiger or eagle might be more marketable.

Up there where Doc Smith is at East Carolina, of course, is Pirate country, and a chubby pirate gnome would probably would be kinda cute. Not that this guy is cute, necessarily, but shrunk down some he might work.

I just wonder if there's a market for life-size polyresin cheerleader statuary? Might go over even better than gnomes.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:17 AM | Comments (9)

"Makin' a list..."

Congratulations to Nate McCord on a very fine accomplishment.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:30 AM | Comments (1)

Apparently it makes speling erors, too.

Report: Guidant sold flawwed heart device

UPDATE: Well, shucky-darn--they went and corrected the headline, thus depriving me of the joy of poking fun at them. I wonder if there's someone I can sue for loss of mirth?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:21 AM | Comments (2)

Oh, there's TONS of interesting stuff to talk about today!

Which explains why I am saddled with the annoyingly menial task of envelope stuffing this morning.

BUT, after I get through with that, hang on, because there's gonna be all sorts of cool stuff, such as an Alabama bass boat, the Dean's List, a celebrity birthday, and maybe--just maybe--GARDEN GNOMES! (But that might be a secret, so don't spread that around too much.)

SO, go read Instapundit first this morning (instead of waiting until after you've read Possumblog, as is your usual routine) and in just a short while we'll get things going.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2005

AND another thing.

They announced either this morning or yesterday morning on the Wendy Garner Show on Channel 13 that we Alabamians can now get free copies of our credit reports. (Some of the rest of you outta state furriners can, too, apparently.) I thought this was actually something you could do all along, but apparently only if you'd been turned down for credit. ANYway, they had a handy link, which in my intense boredom I clicked to see what this deal was all about.

The initial information gathering sign-up screen on the first site was trouble-free, but when it came time to actually GET a report, the TransUnion site was an absolute confusing minefield of a mess, and to make matters worse, I never could get the thing to give me my credit report, even after fifteen futile minutes of clicking. The Experian site was much easier, quicker, reliabler, and bother-freer, and I had my report in about five minutes. I didn't check the last one for Equifax, because you can only get one free one a year, and I figure it's probably better to stagger these things out so that if something comes up, it might be easier to spot.

As for my credit, I think the only way I manage to maintain any kind of goodwill is due to still being listed on several of my parents' credit cards.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)


Did I mention it's still raini...

Oh, okay. Never mind then.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:09 PM | Comments (3)

Now that was odd.

I blame my shoes.

I just went downstairs to buy a Diet Coke. Walked in, nobody in the whole snack bar except for someone way over by the wall with the high windows. I didn't really look to see who it was because, well, you know, sometimes you might just want to ignore someone.

Anyway, kept trying to feed my crisp dollar bill into the #@$^@^&%%@ machine, then moved over to the change machine when I heard a girl say, "Do you know how to tell who's playing at City Stages?"


I turned around and it was the person who was sitting in the booth that I had ignored on the way in. Youngish girl woman, curly hair, and evidently a visitor since I don't recall ever seeing her in the building before.

Was she talking to me?

It's one of those things I mentioned the other day--with the near ubiquity of telephone headsets, I can never tell if the person is actually talking to me, to someone on the phone, or to disembodied spirits. "Uh, pardon me?"

She responded, so I figured she must HAVE been asking me something.

"Do you know which bands are going to play on which stages at City Stages?"

I could see that she had one of the two local indie papers spread on the table in front of her, but for the life of me I can't figure out why she would think some big goofy Gus she's never seen before might be of some help. But, hey, I'm a polite person, so I went over and looked at what she was pointing at.

Well, sure enough, it's just a one-page ad, meaning it would be nearly impossible to list the entire roster of 125 bands and 9 stages. "Hmm. Well, no it doesn't seem to have a listing. I suppose you could go online and find out--there's the address."




Alrighty. "Ah, hmm, well, sorry I couldn't help you, miss."


What? Did she just want to make conversation? Did she think I might be one of those hot professional municipal employees who make the rounds of all the clubs? Was it my ID badge coyly stuffed into my shirt pocket? My charmingly mismatched shoes? Who knows!?

I went on back over to the vending machines and got my afternoon bracer, and she went back to reading.

It was all just very odd.

Oh, by the way, here's the lineup.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:38 PM | Comments (6)

"Etta who!?"

A nice article from Janet Cho for Newhouse about one of my pet peeves--phone manners:

[...] Peter Post, director of the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vt., enumerates a number of phone faux pas in his book "The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success," co-written with Peggy Post. At the top of the list for callers is failing to identify yourself at the beginning of a conversation.

"The presumption, of course, is that you recognize their voice," he said.

How many times have I had to carry on a conversation with someone whose identity I could only guess at? The worst was once when one of Reba's aunts called--an aunt we rarely see, and whom I have actually met face-to-face about three times--and she called up one day and just started yammering at me about something and it took me nearly five minutes to get her to a) shut up, b) identify who she was, and c) figure out why she was calling. After I got to b), I just handed the phone to Reba.

"The second mistake I think people make, especially in cubicle farms, is to presume that their call is totally private, that nobody will listen to them," he said. "But there's a thing called `phone voice,' where people talk louder when they talk on the phone."

At The Bad Place, we had an old Andy Rooney clone who'd get on the blower to his wife and cuss at her loudly and lengthily. Such a sweetie pie, he was. I do believe he was the inspiration for title of the Rocky Horror Picture Show song, "Dammit, Janet." Only the title, though--unlike the song, the rest of his conversations were always full of mean gassy vitriol. And we allllll got to listen along. Whee.

If you're talking to someone you've never met and can't pick up visual cues on how you're coming across, the quality of your voice and your choice of words become even more important. "The volume of your voice matters to me. The tone of your voice matters," he said.

The way employees answer the phone is critical to making a good first impression, Post said. The person on the other end relies on your voice to gauge your energy, enthusiasm and interest. That's why you should identify yourself with your name and the name of your company, as well as a courtesy greeting such as "How may I help you?" [...]

I might have to print this article out and leave it in the outer office. I'm not saying for sure, but there is the possibility that we might have some reception staff who might benefit from the idea that a person should not have the phone manners of a hyena. But that's purely speculation. I mean, this is a bureaucracy, and we'd NEVER hire ANYone who wasn't fully capable of using a device so simple as a telephone. Right!? Right? Anyone?

The article goes on for a good bit more, and all of it's good advice. Mainly because it's all common sense, which, as we all know, ain't that common. It concludes with a list of Dos and Don'ts, which are always helpful. The biggest ones on my list?

1) Don't lie--don't say someone's away if they're not; just say you'll have to take a message.

2) Don't daydream and dawdle during a business call. I got one today from some dude who sounded like he was alternately staring out the window and taking bong hits. The call took thirty minutes, and there was about two minutes worth of information he actually needed.

3) Don't make me say things three times. Listen if you want to know what I'm saying.

4) Don't you use that tone of voice with me!

5) Do return your calls.

6) Do try to speak clearly. Those of you whom I've had the chance to talk to know I start out very intelligibly before I drop off into my more comfortable and familiar Junior Samples-speak that I use with family. I never know who's on the other end, and it's better to start off at least sounding like you might know something.

7) For you receptionists out there (and NO, I have NO knowledge of ANYone on my floor who might benefit from this!) don't scream; don't interrogate callers; don't try to fill me in on their problem rather than just letting me talk to them; don't be psychotically abrupt; if I'm on the phone, TAKE A MESSAGE; when you take a message, GIVE IT TO ME; don't make noises that callers could mistake for wild animal noises, such as the braying of an injured zebra, or the hooting of a gibbon; do not burp into the mouthpiece and then scream I'M SORRY I BURPED!; do not slam the phone down into the cradle; do not tell people I have gone for the day when I sign out for lunch; do not tell people they talk funny; say things such as "please" and "thank-you" when you speak to the public; if you simply MUST ask, pleasantly ask, "May I tell him who's calling, please?" rather than screaming "WHO IS THIS?!"; and finally, although I am religious, and I appreciate people who try to be, it's probably counterproductive for you to run about the office screaming, "O SWEET LORD JESUS, PLEASE GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO ANSWER THE TELEPHONE," because, you know, it's really not one of those things that requires a whole lot of supernatural intervention for it to proceed smoothly.

Not that I know anyone who acts like this. Because I don't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:49 PM | Comments (4)

I've noticed it, too--

and I only rarely get to watch it. That being the History Channel, and Dave Helton's notice of a distinct lack of concern on their part for accuracy.

It does seem there's an awful lot of that going around.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

I got all finished with my stupid work...

...and now I'm so bored I don't have anything to say. Other than it's still raining.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:32 PM | Comments (6)

Well, my, my--you don't say!

Leaving out chicken cuts time for making pasta dish

One imagines even more time could be saved by eliminating the pasta, too!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:03 AM | Comments (6)

I wonder.

I haven't really done any kind of search for stories about this, so if any of you know, leave a comment or drop me an email, but--I wonder if the Washington Post's editorial staff doesn't feel just a wee bit betrayed by the fact that Deep Throat outed himself to Vanity Fair instead of them?

Well, here's one from Howard Kurtz, who says:

[…] Why did Woodward and Bernstein wait most of the day to confirm that Felt was the real-life version of Hal Holbrook? Sure, both reporters and Ben Bradlee took a pledge to honor the confidentiality agreement until Deep Throat's death. But a source coming forward and naming himself releases the journalist from the promise of confidentiality. In the end, it's hard to escape the irony that Vanity Fair beat The Post on the secret Woodward had kept for more than 30 years. […]

Paul Fahri makes the snub even more apparent:

[…] [Editor David] Friend said neither Woodward nor his Watergate reporting partner Carl Bernstein -- a Vanity Fair contributing editor -- knew about the story until Friend e-mailed them a copy of it yesterday morning. "We felt that if we let Bob or Carl know, The Washington Post would be out before us," said Friend, who was the lead editor.

In fact, The Post was scooped, after keeping Felt's secret for more than three decades.

Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said yesterday that Woodward "did the honorable thing by sticking by his confidentiality agreement" with Felt. "He had agreed not to reveal his identity until [Deep Throat] released him from his pledge or the source died, and he did that. "

Although Woodward had checked in with the Felt family periodically, and is writing a book about his relationship with Deep Throat, Downie said Woodward was never told by Felt or his family that he was going public. "Bob was really kind of helpless" because Felt never indicated that their agreement was over, said Downie, who rushed back to Washington from a corporate meeting on the Eastern Shore when the story broke yesterday. […]


Oh, well, as some guy once said, "Follow the money."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:59 AM | Comments (7)

The Churchill Wit

Another selection from my new old book, this time from page 59:

Nothing is more dangerous in wartime than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup Poll, always feeling one's pulse and taking one's temperature.

I see it said that leaders should keep their ears to the ground. All I can say is that the British nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are detected in that somewhat ungainly posture.

House of Commons
September, 1941

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:01 AM | Comments (1)

I have a pair just like them at home.

Well, I've done it again.

For some reason.

I just can't quite figure it out. I only have two pairs of "good" shoes, one black, one cordovan. Should be no trouble keeping them separate.

I suppose that's my problem--I DON'T keep them separate. They share space in the bottom of the armoire. I suppose I could keep each pair in a different place, but, you know, you don't want them to be lonely. Sure, there's the belts and some old clothes and the shoe shine kit in the bottom of the cabinet, and all sorts of odd things under the bed, but still, you kinda want them to be able to be around their own kind.

I suppose, then, it's just an inevitability. And it's not like it hasn't happened before. This is now the fifth time in the past 14 years or so that I've grabbed two different colored shoes, put them on, and walked out the door, and not noticed my error until I got to work. I used to blame the fact that it was always dark when I was getting dressed--I leave the lights off to keep from waking up Reba--but this morning the bedroom was lit up like Broadway. So, no excuse there.

Actually, though, it's not the worst shoe thing I've done, because once I put on a big black wingtip on the left foot, and a thin brown loafer on the right. I am lax in my shoe care, so I always just slip my shoes on, even if they have laces. Yes, it's a bad thing. And it got me into the mindset of not noticing the difference between one shoe MADE to slip-on, and another not.

Well, thankfully, at least today's version isn't THAT noticeable--they are both dark and unobtrusive shoes, and with my lopsided hair, they really just fit right in.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:04 AM | Comments (8)