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Monday, November 30, 2009


If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat.
~ Robert Heinlein

Our cat hates Elizabeth. Elizabeth who claims Neko is her cat. Why does Neko hate her? Because Elizabeth likes to do things to the cat that make her "poof up." Cats, from what I can tell, only "poof up" when they are displeased.

So, this weekend they put up our tree at home. Among the decorations on the tree are some the girls have made over the years at day care or in school. There is only ONE decoration that Neko tore down off the tree last night. Only one. The one Maddie is holding.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


“I’d be normal, but I had a family.” ~ Adrienne Gusoff
I am confident that Maddie and Elizabeth will have a lot of memories when they grow up. I like to think that they'll be happy ones. However, I have made my peace with the fact that with the right verbage they could also end up writing a couple of very dark memoirs.


Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.
~ Emory Austin
At this time of year I am reminded that there really are no Thanksgiving Carols. This could be because of a lot of reasons:
* not everyone is thankful for Thanksgiving
* it really is just a holiday about eating and watching TV
* people are usually 3-4 holidays ahead, so there are songs for other holidays out there
etc. etc. etc.
I also think that it's because turkey isn't a good rhyming word. You have to kind of make up adjectives to rhyme with it -- smirky, worky, quirky (less made up, still adjective-y).
I think that if the holiday was about eating duck, there might be more songs. But they might not be songs we would want to sing around children.
Thanksgiving Carol
It is fall
Watch football
And eat it all
The stuffing the turkey the yams
We give thanks
And close our banks
But don't eat franks
Instead - green beans, potatoes and ham
And when it gets late
We fix a plate
Because it tastes great
So in some more food we will cram
(sung to the tune of either "Dueling Banjos" or "Thus Spake Zarathustra")

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Better a thousand times careful than once dead.

~ Proverb
Maddie was on the safety patrol at her school. This made me particularly proud since not only was I on safety patrol in elementary school, my 6th grade year I was CAPTAIN of the safety patrol.
Anyway, I think Maddie can be one of the most caring and nice people ever. Children LOVE her.

When she was going into 4th or 5th grade, we got a call from her principal. The principal said, "I got a call from Mrs. So-and-So and her daughter is very upset she's not in Maddie's class this year. Is Maddie upset about that?" Chris said we didn't think Maddie was upset because she got the teacher she wanted, but we'd check. When we asked Maddie about it, she couldn't even remember for sure who the girl was.
And then there was the day Chris went to school and everyone came up and said, "Maddie is my best friend!" Seriously, like 3 kids said that.
Maddie definitely got the bulk of the nice. And I'm pretty sure it must have been environmental not genetic.


My mother had a great deal of trouble with me,
but I think she enjoyed it.
~ Mark Twain
As you can tell from the photo above, Elizabeth has a hard time when her mother pays attention to Maddie. E needs to be coddled and listened to and hugged and loved on. If Chris ever pays attention to Maddie instead, well, that is simply unacceptable.


Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.
~ Saint Augustine
Today we moved the rabbit hutch from the front yard to the back yard. We used some old pavers as foundation for the corners. It is fairly level and pretty stable. Once we had it set up, I picked up Elizabeth and put her on top of the hutch to make sure it wouldn't tip.
"I wouldn't want this to fall and hurt the rabbits, so I am using you to test it out." I was joking when I said it.
"I know," she agreed. "I wouldn't want this to hurt my little bunnies!!"
So, E can be sensitive. Not so much toward people, but at least toward rabbits.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Winter is not a season, it's an occupation.
~ Sinclair Lewis
Elizabeth said yesterday she is ready for snow. I told her to stop talking like that.
"Why don't you like snow?" she asked.
"Because it's cold and wet and cold," I said.
"And you also forgot that it's fun," she said.
Please note the outfit that Elizabeth is sporting in the above photo. Her sense of fashion can be summed up as this, "If I'm wearing it, it MUST look good."
This is the same fashion philosophy employed by my friend Dr. Gildersleeve. I like people like that.


A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another, the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another, it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.
~ Buddha
In going through old emails that I have saved, I came across this list. I had asked Maddie and Elizabeth to help me come up with a list of 30 things you can do when you're 30 that you can't do when you're 7 or 11. Here is the list:
30 Things You Can / Should Do when your 30 that you Can't / Don't Get to do when you're 7 or 11:

1. Get a job at Dairy Queen.
2. Live in a mansion. (I tried to convince the girls that the residence hall they live in IS a mansion, but they didn't buy it).
3. Have a big screen TV.
4. Have a hot tub.
5. Have a bowling alley or movie theatre in your house.
6. Have a pinball machine and air hockey game in your house.
7. Have a basketball hoop.
8. For your birthday, go out to dinner.
9. Go see a movie.
10. Drive a car.
11. Buy a house.
12. Go to the beach.
13. Go swimming with dolphins.
14. Don't go to school.
15. Get a gecko.
16. Ride in a limo.
17. Have a closet 2 or 3 times the size of your bedroom.
18. 9 times the size of your bedroom would be even sweeter.
19. Have a mall in your house.
20. Go to a bar, if you like beer.
21. Go to a play for grown-ups.
22. Hang out with your friends.
23. Have a sleepover whenever you want.
24. Get a dog -- unless you're like terrified of dogs. Or allergic.
25. Have a racquetball place in your room.
26. Have an art studio.
27. Fill balloons with paint and throw darts at them to make art.

Apparently, they could only come up with 27 things. So, perhaps, this means that 27 is really the optimal age to be.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


So many get reformed through religion.
I got reformed through dogs.
~ Lina Basquette


A story by Maddie Fowler (probably written when she was about 7):

Once a pon a time there was a little dog. the owner of the dog is Michelle. once she got the dog from the dog pond she thought he needed to do some cricks so all day they did cricks. So then wen the dog got older he wood no how to sit. he was the best dog in the universe. I love him.

PS. It is a true story.


The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him
to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than
those who think differently.
~Friedrich Nietzsche
The other day Elizabeth and I were watching a commercial with a little kid sneaking his broccoli to his dog. Elizabeth said, "Why in the world is he doing that with perfectly good vegetables?!"

Sunday, November 8, 2009


My parents are both college professors, and it made me want to question authority, standards and traditions.

~ Maya Lin
Once upon a time, Maddie got in trouble for texting when she'd been told not to. When confronted, I talked with her about integrity and responsibility and trust. I tried to stress how important it is to maintain your reputation and convey a sense of honesty to others and how she had compromised that by her actions. My sanction was for her to lose her phone for a week.
Chris talked with her about her feelings and thoughts. The learning activity Chris came up with for Maddie was to journal every night for a week. It could be about the situation or her feelings toward us and how we handled the event or about what had happened that day -- whatever she wanted.
And that is what it's like to get in trouble when you live with one adult who is in judicial affairs and another with a counseling background. It must stink to be held accountable AND have to deal with how you feel about being held accountable.
Poor kid.


In the information society, nobody thinks.
We expect to banish paper, but we actually banish thought.
~ Michael Crichton


I don't think we'll ever banish paper. Email and Facebook and all -- that is fine, but nothing can replace finding a note or getting a letter in the mail.


Some of my staff members once brought me a note that they were made aware of by one of their residents. It said, "NO making babies on my couch... GET YOUR OWN!!" While it's pretty funny to tell and might be funny to read in this blog, it is not nearly as funny as it must have been to walk into a room and see the note sitting on a couch.

Of course it wasn't funny to everyone involved and led to a discussion about roommate respect and a renegotiation of the roommate contract. Regardless, I think it was a pretty good use of paper.


I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can

a rude remark or a vulgar action.

~ Tennessee Williams


I can stand the above in the following order:

1. Naked light bulb.

2. Vulgar action.

3. Rude remark

What I cannot stand at all is the word "conglomerate."


A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the
bricks others have thrown at him.

~ David Brinkley
This sign could also be used to signify when a person is bullet-proof. Good thing it isn't, however, because being bulletproof and being careful of thrown objects really aren't synonymous.
You know who should not use snowblowers? Children. Even though there is a sign clearly indicating not to stick you hand in the part where the snow shoots out, I know a child who tried to / started to put her hand in that thing. Then the child's mother screamed at her.
I guess we will never know which is worse -- the physical scars that Maddie -- I mean "the child" MAY have gotten, or the emotional scars that Chris -- I mean "the parent" caused to the child.


. . . the companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain.
~ Mary Shelley (from Frankenstein)

My best friend when I was a kid was Joel Hanson. Chris and the girls know him as "My best friend Joel Hanson." That is how I always refer to him.

I remember once hiding behind a snowdrift and throwing ice chunks and snowballs at cars. Then we hit one and the car circled back for us. We ran and hid under his snowmobile trailer.

I think that experience is one of many that helped prepare me for a career as a judicial affairs hearing officer.


It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

~ C. S. Lewis


I beg to differ. I know some bad eggs and some good eggs, to be sure. However, I also know some who are cracked, others who are scrambled, and still others who are stolen by rodents in the night and eaten.

Well, maybe not so many of that last one.


No cord or cable can draw so forcibly, or bind so fast, as love can do with a single thread.
~ Robert Burton
But just try to bind a puppy with a single thread of love and you're bound to have a runaway dog.


It is not heroin or cocaine that makes one an addict, it is the need to escape from a harsh reality. There are more television addicts, more baseball and football addicts, more movie addicts, and certainly more alcohol addicts in this country than there are narcotics addicts.

~ Shirley Chisholm


I walked the tailgate lots with ISU PD this weekend. It seems that there are three kinds of reaction to police by students who are tailgating:

1. Oh - __________ - the cops are here! (this is what underage students say / think)

2. Stupid [or some variation thereof] cops! (this is what the barely 21 students say / think)

3. Hey, there's a cop. I best I could be the best friend of the cops ever. I had better go and talk with them. (this is what the 21+ students -- including students who have been arrested in years past by the police say / think)

This late in the season it was more of #3 than of 1 or 2.


Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.

~ Rabindranath Tagore

I like the way some of the branches in the photo above are highlighted by the clouds. My guess is, that those are the branches you need to remember for some upcoming quizzes.


A man who wants time to read and write must let the grass grow long.
~ Sloan Wilson
This summer we let our grass grow longer than we did the first year we were here. We have some neighbors who mow their lawns 2-3 times a week and have pretty flowers and arbors and landscaping.
We, on the other hand, had a few trees choped down, removed some dead vines and tried planting flowers. A lot of people stopped while we were working this summer and said how nice it looked. The compliments were kind, but I wonder what they said when they drove by before we did anything to the yard.


As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion.
Envy is so destructive. I think that when you are envious of something you should have to get it and everything that comes with it. For example, Maddie might be envious of kids at school who live in bigger houses. But if we lived in a bigger house, do you know what else Maddie would get? She'd get to be scared more often because there would be a lot more places for me to hide and jump out at her from.
I also think those who are envious of birds should get the chance to fly, but should also have people shoot at them randomly and for no apprently good reason.
The morale of the story (and an old family proverb):
It ain't what you want, but what you get that makes you fat.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


If you have a talent, use it in every which way possible. Don't hoard it. Don't dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke.
~ Brendan Francis
I believe everyone has a talent. Unfortunately, some people's talents include:
* Being a idiot
* Singing that high screeching part of the song "Loving You" by Minnie Ripperton
* Making tuna casserole
* Being loud
* Wrapping everything in your office in aluminum foil
Fortunately, the people who are good at that last item, also leave small dog treats behind as clues as to who might have done such a thing. And when they do, you can exercise your talent at getting revenge!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Even a fish wouldn't get into trouble if it kept its mouth shut.

~ Korean Proverb

Elizabeth loves pets. She had a hermit crab named Apple and then a fish. I found this email announcement I sent out to people shortly after we had moved off-campus:

Elizabeth's fish died last night.
She doesn't know it yet, but I'm sure will figure it out when she notices the fish laying on the bottom of the bowl. Not sure what happened, maybe the trip was a bit too rough. Goodbye, London Rose Fowler.

Elizabeth didn't really mourn her fish too much. She did take a lot of time choosing the right name for it, though.


People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.

~ Epictetus


I am disturbed by (the view I take of) many things. Here are a few:

* crumbs in enclosed spaces (pockets, bags, under cabinets, etc.)

* movies about the desert or being trapped in snow

* monkeys in clothes (or chimpanzees or gorillas or whatever)

* when things aren't organized correctly (towels should be folded in a certain way, put in a closet a certain way; furniture with wood grain or stripes should run parallel to the furniture it faces or to the longest wall in the room; music collections should be alphabetized)

* clowns and dolls (of course)

* when closet doors aren't closed

* stuff by my feet when I'm riding in a car

* the smell of old books

And there are more.