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Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
~ G.K. Chesterton

I have a haiku,
I made today just for you.
Here it is. Like it?


The cars we drive say a lot about us.
~ Alexandra Paul

The blue book value on cars with a bunch of crap glued on them is probably not very high.

I feel sorry for the 16 year old who inherits one of these cars when mom and dad are ready to buy a Range Rover.

It must take a lot of self-confidence or some severe attention-seeking behavior to drive one of these vehicles.

I would suggest not letting your 4 year old see these cars. They might begin to see your Taurus as a blank canvas.

I wonder if these vehicles are ever cited for disturbing the peace, public disorder, or inciting to riot.

How do you wash a car like this? How do you wash the memory of "That Car" (see photo above) from your mind?

NOTE: There is no additional 4th of July post today because it rained on the 4th of July and instead of watching fireworks, we recaulked the girls' bathtub.
Incidentally, you can change the last line of the national anthem to "Near the place where you pee, is the place where you bathe." I don't recommend making this change, it's just something I thought of while trying to patriotically caulk.


Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.
~ Henry Lawson

There's nothing as nice on a really hot day as a cold beer. Except world peace. Or maybe having it not be so hot.


The moon is brighter since the barn burned.
~ Matsuo Basho


I love barns. I think I am a little bit psychic and can tell when something exciting or interesting happened in a barn just by driving by it or being near it. For example, I can tell that fun things happen in the barn in the photo for this entry. It isn't really a barn, but still, I can tell.


Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experience.
~ Masaru Ibuka


There are surprises everywhere if you just take the time to look. For example, you might wake up from a sound sleep one night with a great idea for a new product or a poem or something and you go to turn on the light to write down your idea and you glance at the window and - SURPRISE! - there I am watching you.


The sign brings customers.
~ Jean de la Fontaine


I love a good sign. And this is one of the best I've seen. It is at a store in Des Moines called Raygun. It claims to be the best store in the universe. I think it just might be. It is basically a store dedicated to Iowa and to the fact that most Iowans don't care what non-Iowans think of us. We are confident this is a good place to live.

If Iowa had an ocean, it would be about perfect for me in terms of a place to live. Of course, that would mean either the eastern or western half of our country would be flooded which would probably make for some additional challenges. However, living in unflooded, ocean-front Iowa would be better than living in submerged someplace else.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in.
~ Amy Lowell


I still say that American Gothic should have been on the Iowa quarter. I use visiting the American Gothic house as a key selling point to encourage my out-of-state friends to come and visit me. Maybe I should change my tactic since none of them ever come to visit me.


The past should be a springboard, not a hammock.
~ Ivern Ball


For the last few days, I visited Ohio where I worked about 10 years ago. It was nice to go back and talk about the "good old days on South Green" and the iconic FRANK ROBINSON. Frank is the person who taught me how to think about my work (not just react and do work) and also how to have fun with / borderline haze my co-workers.

As an example, he once put a note in another HD's box that was written to look like a jury summons. The time of the summons coincided with our annual training, which she would have been excused from. She was ecstatic that she would get to miss out on training. Then Frank told her it was a joke.

Perhaps this quote best capture's Frank's work (from a Michael Collins review of Lost Souls), "Lost Souls... a dark, violent mystery spiked with some cruel humor and plenty of social criticism." You could replace "Lost Souls" with "Frank Robinson" and that pretty much sums him up. Except not really so violent, dark, or mysterious.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
~ Lao Tzu


We this summer's adventure is a road trip to Ohio. My hope is that the girls get along. Kind of like they did in this picture. At least they posed like they were for a moment. Of course moments after this, Elizabeth started to fall backwards off the tube and grabbed Maddie around the neck and started choking her.

There won't be any inner tubes on this adventure, so maybe that won't happen.

Monday, June 21, 2010


All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives.
~ Steven Spielberg


Maddie is a teenager. I remember the exact day that she became one (though I didn't write down the date. I think I was hoping it was a fluke). The photos in this entry were taken on her first day of fourth grade and the following year on her first day of fifth grade. If you look closely, you can see that she changed.


Since it is not granted to us to live long, let us transmit to posterity some memorial that we have at least lived.
~ E. Joseph Crossman


If I got to have something dedicated to me when I die, I think I would like it to be a bridge because I like bridges. I don't know anything about Harriet Bishop, but I wonder if she didn't warrant more than a ramp.


Everything is a reaction.
~ Robyn Hitchcock


It may have been mentioned before, but Maddie has the best reactions of anyone when it comes to receiving gifts. In the photo above, she is having one of those amazing reactions and it's not even for a gift for HER. It's a gift for Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, is not so great at receiving gifts. On Sunday I gave her an early birthday present. Because we will be driving on her birthday (to Ohio so they can spend a couple of weeks with their dad), I thought it would be nice to give her an iTunes card. That way she can download some music or shows or games or whatever before the trip. Her reaction when she got the iTunes? "What is THIS for?!" I explained my thought process. She said, "Okay, I guess." I said she didn't have to have it if she didn't want it. She said, "No, I wanted this." I don't understand her.

It was, however, a nicer reaction than when -- a couple of Christmases ago -- she opened a package from her grandmother and said, "What?! Do I look like I NEED socks?!"


The injuries we do and those we suffer are seldom weighed in the same scales.
~ Aesop


Almost ever since I have known Elizabeth she has had an interest in treating physical injuries and ailments. And this interest extends to the point where she wants to experience these treatments (though not necessarily the injuries behind them).

In the photo above, you can see her wearing a "cast" she fashioned from toilet paper.
In a previous blog entry there was mention of an eye patch she asked Sally to make for her after an incident where she was hit in the eye with something from the freezer.
She would like to have both braces and glasses.
She has attempted to learn to walk with crutches "just in case."

I hope this means she will be a healer when she gets older and not someone who fakes injuries for personal gain.


As soon as there is life, there is danger.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I made some signage to help decrease littering on campus. I used an online sign generator and some lies to make the signs (lies such as the statistic in the one above). I don't think we ever used the signs. Needless to say, littering continues.

Here are a few others for your consideration...

Friday, June 18, 2010


The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
~ William Blake


Just a quick note to everyone: If you have time to tell people how busy you are, you aren't busy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
~ Sun Tzu


If you walk away from a fight, the person swinging fists against no one looks like a fool. If you walk away from an argument, the person screaming at no one looks like a fool. If you walk away from a giant pile of free money, you look like a fool.


In all institutions from which the cold wind of open criticism is excluded, an innocent corruption begins to grow like a mushroom -- for example, in senates and learned societies.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche


I have a cold in June. That isn't right. Just last week I was wondering how anyone gets a cold when it's not winter. I'll tell you how. They ride on a airplane with a hacking person three rows in front of them for an hour. That's how you get a cold in June.

Or maybe someone is conducting an experiment on me that I don't know about. Hopefully it's an experiment that will give me super powers like the ability to write in APA & MLA styles without referencing any materials or the ability to clean the house in one minute or the ability to make people disappear. Wait, I already have that last ability, I guess. I just hardly ever use it.


Every person above the ordinary has a certain mission that they are called to fulfill.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I took this photo from the window of our airplane on the way home from Baltimore. I am glad no one caught me or they might have kicked me off of the flight.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


When archaeologists discover the missing arms of Venus de Milo, they will find she was wearing boxing gloves.
~ John Barrymore


Did you ever just want to HIT something?
Then you better get your anger under control.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.
~ Loren Eiseley


And if that magic is electricity, we all need to quit going swimming.


Being on a boat that's moving through the water, it's so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what's important and what's not.
~ James Taylor


I love boats. I like the riding and the looking at the water and the wind and the sun (if it's windy or sunny).

Let me tell you what I don't like though and that is a submarine. It's like the opposite of a boat. I would not like to work on a submarine. I don't think I'd even like to ride on one. And, I know that you can stand on top of them when they're above water - or at least on some of them you can do that. But with my luck, someone who knows I don't like submarines would push the dive button when I was standing on top and then I'm even more the opposite of boating than if I was inside the submarine.


In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.
~ Buddha


I like the sky. It makes everything feel so open and promising or ominous sometimes. Without it, things would be really cramped around here.


A baseball club is part of the chemistry of the city. A game isn't just an athletic contest. It's a picnic, a kind of town meeting.
New York Yankees President Michael Burke


Clearly: favorite team = Yankees. That's why they have the most money. And World Series Championships. And fans. Because we all know that the richest and most popular is best.


~ George Bernard Shaw


So, I saw these ducks swimming in a harbor. As you can see, several of them are following the mom and in a line and being obedient. Then you have those other yahoos off to the side swimming is a less organized fashion. My guess is that they all ended up at the same destination, but took different routes (some not following the path made for them by the mother duck - not to be confused with Mother Goose).

If they all get to where they're going, does it matter? Who had the better swim of it?

Now, if that straggler off to the side got chomped up by some sea beast, well then there's a totally different moral for us, isn't there?


I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
~ Edgar Allan Poe


I was recently in Baltimore and discovered that the grave of Edgar Allan Poe was only a few blocks from our hotel. I set out to find it. After a detour to a part of Baltimore that did not look like the part where there would be a cemetery, I found the place.

In reflecting on this adventure, I realized that Edgar Allan Poe has the same initials as our Employee Assistance Program. What is EAP, you ask? It is a program which provides assistance to employees. I should think you would have been able to figure that out on your own.

On a very loosely related note, thanks to Dr. Terry Mason in the Student Counseling Center who provided me suggestions on sights to see while in Baltimore. As a small gratitude, let me offer the following EAP quote of which I am guessing Dr. Mason might be very fond, "Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Like dogs in a wheel, birds in a cage, or squirrels in a chain ambitious men still climb and climb, with great labor, and incessant anxiety, but never reach the top.
~ Robert Browning


If you are going to build a rabbit hutch for a rabbit, might as well make it big enough for a little kid. Then you have a place to store your rabbit or your child.

On another note, what exactly are "squirrels in a chain?"


A beautiful sunset that was mistaken for a dawn.
~ Claude Debussy


At the end of the day, I like to gaze upon the sunset and think, "Another day done. Good work, Michelle." And then I realize I forgot to go to work again and think, "I cannot wait for dawn and the opportunity to start a new day." Then I mostly go back to sleep.


It's a journey. Peace is something you do on a moment-by-moment basis.
~ Sam Baez


Based on the quote that means one chooses war on a moment by moment basis, too. If you've ever lived with a 10 year old and a 14 year old, you know this to be true.


Leadership is action, not position.
~ David H. McGannon


I figure that if you want to be a leader but are not in a position of legitimate authority, you should be a subversive. That way you can be a leader even if no one is following you and pretend that the other followers wish they could follow you, but are too afraid to do so. Then, you're practically the leader of everybody and it's awesome.


What is success? It is a toy balloon among children armed with pins.
~ Gene Fowler


I used to hate balloons as a kid. They would pop and be loud and I hated that. I still hate it now, but I feel like I have more control over when balloons are in my environment. Being a grown up is awesome.


Every time I plant a seed, He say kill it before it grow, he say kill them before they grow.
~ Bob Marley


If you could only have one kind of plant in your yard, what plant would you choose? I would choose a plant that made money. Some people might call that a mint, but what is a mint? According to Wikipedia: Lamiaceae or Labiatae, also known as the mint family.

And I would want it to be legitimate, too. Not some counterfeiting place.

For the record, the plant above is neither Lamiaceae or Labiatae.


Hitch your wagon to a star.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I think the above quote might be Ralph Waldo's way of saying "FU" because a star is like as hot as the sun and if you try to hitch your wagon to the sun you'd burn up. Nice, Ralph Waldo. Nice.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.
~ Albert Camus


I was driving through part of Ames today. The streets there are all named for authors. I thought to myself, "Would I buy a house on a street named for an author I didn't like?" We also have a part of town where the streets are named after states. Right now, I wouldn't be interested in living on Arizona Street (or Avenue or whatever it is). We also have an area of streets named after presidents. Our house is on Hayes.

Rutherford B. Hayes is one of only two presidents with the first name of Rutherford. Based on my research, I think he was an okay guy. I am okay living on this street.

I wouldn't want to live NEAR Sesame Street, though. People would always be stopping me when I was mowing the lawn or washing the car to say, "Can you tell me how to get -- how to get to Sesame Street?" And I'm way too busy for that.


My table seats eight, so that's my maximum. Having a small number of guests is the only way to generate good conversation. Besides, your whole house doesn't get wrecked that way.
~ Paul Lynde


Whoever came up with the idea of putting tables in parks is (was) brilliant. It's like intentionally planning little areas of coming together to break bread and enjoy the outdoors with one another. And you don't really hear about people stealing these tables. Sure, they're awkward and some can be heavy, but they're easy enough to stash in the back of a van if you take out all of the removable seating and fold down what's left.

Or so I've heard.

Anyway, outdoor community building is nice.


No poet is ever completely lost. He has the secret of his childhood safe with him, like some secret cave in which he can kneel. And, when we read his poetry, we can join him there.
~ Peter Ackroyd


When Maddie and I went to Hannibal, MO, we toured Tom Sawyer's Cave. I asked her if it was how she pictured it. She said, "Not at all. There are tons more places to hit your head here than I pictured when I was reading the book."


It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life.
Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.
~ Joseph Campbell


The treasure above is something I got out of a candy from some other country. Julie gave it to me. I don't remember what anyone else got, but no one else got a toaster man who toasts bread out of his own self.

And, really, don't we all toast our own bread out of ourselves? I think we do. I think we put the bread of knowledge in our heads and pull out something different. Mainly because so many of us have bad memories or we choose to disfigure knowledge to suit our own purposes.

That is what this toy means to me and why I've kept it for so long. Because toast is knowledge.


Rage is exciting, but leaves me confused and exhausted.
~ Mason Cooley.


Know what puts me in a rage? When I don't get my way. Duh.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


(photo by Chris Fowler)

Fun is good.
~ Dr. Seuss


Me: Elizabeth, are you doing anything fun in school today?
E: We have a kickball game against the other 5th grade class. We're going to beat them because they think they're all good at everything and they're not. They play a lot of fantasy games - like pretending they're vampires and stuff.


Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.


Being happy takes work. I hope that happy is our natural state, but letting go of the unhappiness and not getting sucked into the negativity is really hard.

Actually, I think Arkansas is the natural state, now that I think about it.