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Saturday, April 30, 2011


You have to learn the rules of the game.
And then you have to play better than anyone else.
~ Albert Einstein
- - - - -

I love games. I love games because when I win I believe it teaches us all a valuable lesson that I am better than everyone else. And when I lose, I believe it teaches us all a valuable lesson that life isn't fair, some people cheat, and the game is broken.

Friday, April 29, 2011


It's our tendency to approach every problem as if it were a fight
between two sides. We see it in headlines that are always using
metaphors for war. It's a general atmosphere of animosity and
contention that has taken over our public discourse.
~ Deborah Tannen
- - - - -

I like it when someone is so passionate about something that they put up a sign about it. And then someone else is so passionate that they vandalize the sign. As in the example above where someone put up an anti-democrat sign and someone used shorthand to indicate that they would like to have a Follow Up conversation about the sign. Discourse rocks.

On a side note, I do believe that the sentence on the sign should have ended with question marks or at least one question mark and then the exclamation points since the words form a question and not a statement.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Obscurity often brings safety.
~ Aesop
- - - - -

Whenever I read on a historical marker that someone died in obscurity I think, "That obscure person's life would probably make a good movie." I also think, "It's good they didn't die in pellucidity or that would take up a lot more space on that sign."

Well, two letters more space, anyway.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As a well spent day brings happy sleep,

so a life well spent brings happy death.

~ Leondardo da Vinci

- - - - -

Recently, I came across a book called, "100 Ways to Relax." I opened it to a random page to see what the book would suggest for me. It said, "See dying as a gift."

That was not at all helpful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Smartness runs in my family. When I went to school I was so

smart my teacher was in my class for five years.

~ Gracie Allen

- - - - -

Chris: What do you want to do for "Super Summer," Elizabeth?

Elizabeth: Algebra and sock monkeys. You make more than the ordinary sock money. You make ballerina sock monkeys and stuff!

NOTE: For the record, the spell-check on my phone (which is where I took notes about the above conversation) spell-checked "ballerina" as "bacteria." A Bacteria Sock Monkey does seem a bit more academic than a Ballerina Sock Monkey.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
~Fran Lebowitz
- - - - -

When you are filled with rage do not eat hot wings.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn
of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.
~Susan Scarf Merrell
- - - - -
I am pretty sure the guy from Men's Wearhouse and The Most Interesting Man in the World are brothers. It would be difficult being the brother of The Most Interesting Man in the World, even if you DID own a chain of men's clothing stores.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


(photo by Chris Fowler)

My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone
took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said,
"Mom, they weren't trying to teach you how to swim.
~ Paula Poundstone
- - - - -

Michelle: Have you signed Maddie up for swim camp?

Chris: No. (pause) Maddie, do you want to go to swim camp?

Maddie: No.

Chris: Why don't you want to go to swim camp, Maddie?

Maddie: (pauses) Because if I'm at swim camp, I can't earn money to contribute to my family.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I know that you believe you understand what you think I said,
but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
~ Robert McCloskey
- - - - -

A few summers ago I caught the retrovirus on campus. We were supposed to go jet-skiing with friends that weekend. Chris and the girls went. I stayed at home on the couch and dozed off and on while trying to watch the movie "Memento." I don't recommend trying to watch the movie "Memento" while you're dozing off and on and you're sick. At some point you're bound to feel exactly like the guy in the movie.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I think one way the cops could make money would be to hold a murder weapons sale. Many people could really use used ice picks.
~ Jack Handey
- - - - -

The other day we went to the grocery store. Cereal was on sale. I forget which kind. Anyway, Chris picked up a couple of boxes. I either wandered off or got distracted by something shiny. When we walked out without cereal, I asked Chris why she didn't get any. She said, "The sale was only on 2 ounce boxes."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Conversation should touch everything,
but should concentrate itself on nothing.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -
Elizabeth: So, I went to the bus stop and I was afraid I missed the bus, so I was galloping as fast as I could, but I didn't miss the bus. I texted Julia and said, "Are you on the bus?" And she said, "No." And I said, "Did you miss the bus?" And she said, "No, it hasn't come yet." And then some people started showing up and I was like, "Whew! I didn't miss the bus."

So, then the bus came and I got on and I used a little hand sanitizer. Then Charlotte gave me some perfume to borrow —

Maddie: Oh my goodness! This is going to take forever!

Elizabeth: Ahem! Thank you. Okay and so I started spraying my little perfume and stuff — well, HER perfume — and then we got off the bus and stuff and I was like freaking out because it started hailing, and then —

Chris: It was like snow.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And then —

Maddie: Second period.

Elizabeth: Yeah —

Maddie: It was snowing.

Elizabeth: So we walked in —

Maddie: REALLY hard!

Elizabeth: Okay! So we walk in the school and I was sitting down and Julia said, "You wanna take my band instrument down with me?" And I said, "Sure."

Michelle: Her what?

Elizabeth: Band instrument.

Michelle: You should get one of those.

Chris: We had a student come in and say that it was hailing outside. But it wasn't. It was really just snowing.

Maddie & Elizabeth: No.

Maddie: Um, it started with hail, like little hail —

Elizabeth: It was sleet —

Maddie: And went to snow and then it —

Chris: It looked like snow from my window.

Maddie: Well, it progressed into snow.

Elizabeth: Okay! (pause) Thank you. Well, then (Maddie glares) Well - I get annoyed when people interrupt my story!! So Julia and I went down there —

Chris: To band.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And we got bored of waiting for Julia, so me and Charlotte went and started playing the drums and stuff —

Chris: Ooooh.

Maddie: Yeah... I wouldn't do that.

Elizabeth: Mr. Thompson didn't — wasn't even there. Okay, so —

Maddie: Do you still have that one lady?

Elizabeth: Mrs.... Pritchard?

Maddie: Yeah — oh... If she would see you, she would like scream at you.

Elizabeth: She scares me.

Chris: Don't be scared of her, look at Maddie.

Maddie: She likes me. I don't know how she remembered me.

Elizabeth: Yeah, she even remembered, she's like, "Oh, did you have an older sister, Maddie?" I was like, "Yeah." And she was like, "Oh, I remember her. She was really nice. She was like one of my favorites." I was like, "Uhhhhh..."

Michelle: Did you say, "FOWLER! My sister is Maddie FOWLER! Not some other Maddie."

Elizabeth: I was like - she's so mean. I don't like her.

Chris: She liked your sister! You had better be nice to her.

Maddie: Wait! Who said I'm mean?!

Elizabeth: No! The TEACHER.

Maddie: Oh.

Chris: The teacher said you were nice.

Elizabeth: Okay —

Chris: She said you were one of her favorite children.

Elizabeth: Uh, yeah. So, anyway, we walk back up and it's not even first period yet. So then we go to first period and we're all freaking out 'cause we have to watch this horrible video again and it's about how there are bugs on you and stuff. And we were like freaking out and stuff because it's nasty.

(Chris cringes)

Maddie: Whatever, Mom! you watch "Monsters Inside Me," so don't be all like —

Elizabeth: Yeah. It's like "Monsters Inside Me," but even grosser and stuff.

Chris: Nuh-uh!!

Michelle: "Monsters OUTside Me."

Elizabeth: Oh..... You wanna hear some of it, Mom? You have bugs on your eyelashes right now that you cannot see —

Chris: Wha—?!! Ugh!! No! NO!

Elizabeth: Stop! Skin flakes fall off EVERY HOUR.

Chris: No, they don't.

Elizabeth: You have bugs on you everywhere and inside you.

Maddie: When you're sleeping don't you get little like... itches?

Elizabeth: Okay —

Chris: No. No, I don't.

Maddie: Like crawling —

Chris: NO!

Michelle: Do you ever find a spider in your bed —

Elizabeth: Michelle!

Michelle: And then it feels like there are spiders on you when you try to go back to sleep?

Maddie: Um, one time I killed a spider when I was going to bed and I couldn't go to sleep because it was really grossing me out.

Chris: One time I was watching "Monster's Inside Me..."

Michelle: One time I saw "Monster's, Inc."

Elizabeth: Okay! CAN I EXPLAIN MY DAY?!

Maddie: I don't really want to hear about your day.

Elizabeth: Then go away. (Maddie starts to leave) No, I was just joking — come sit back down. Sit back down!

Chris: No, Maddie, c'mon.

Elizabeth: (grabbing Maddie's arm) Sit back down!


Chris: Hey!

Elizabeth: HEY! Sit back down!

Maddie: Let me put my stuff away.

Elizabeth: We will wait.

Maddie: I can hear you from here!

Chris: Keep talking.

Elizabeth: Oh, okay. So then we go to first period and stuff and we have to watch it again so we're freaking out.

Chris: Is this science or what?

Elizabeth: Yes. Science. And then we were all mad that we had to watch it again 'cause it's nasty.

Chris: You've already seen it before?

Elizabeth: Yes, but we had a substitute teacher and people didn't want to work out of the book and stuff. So people told her we haven't watched it. So me and Anna got so disgusted and stuff by the movie that we turned around and started reading because I could not watch that. Yeah. Anna almost threw up.

Chris: She should have. That would've taught her.

Michelle: Remember? That time Maddie was watching —

Elizabeth: (laughing) Yeah!

Maddie: Oh, Fear Factor? At the apartment?

Michelle: So, this was your mom (Michelle stares blankly ahead). "Chris, I think Maddie's throwing up." "What?" "Chris, I think Maddie's in the bathroom throwing up." "WHAT? MADDIE!!!"

Maddie: I remember throwing up, but I don't really remember what —

Michelle: It was bugs in a blender. They took a blender and then they had to drink it. It was worms and bugs.

Elizabeth: No, I remember the ostrich egg! (pause) They had to eat the ostrich egg..? And that made her throw up.

Chris: You were like THREE, Elizabeth.

Michelle: No, I think it was the bug milkshake.

Chris: Can we stop talking about this?

Elizabeth: Okay... okay...

Chris: I'm serious! My stomach is churning.

Maddie: I was like sitting at a bar.

Chris: Stop talking about it.


Chris: (laughing) Dang, Maddie!

Maddie: Well, you're like, "Stop talking about it" and I wasn't talking about that, I was talking about sitting at the bar watching it.

Chris: We weren't at a bar. We were at our apartment.

Michelle: She means the bar thing in the kitchen.

(Chris laughs)

Elizabeth: Can I finish my story?

Michelle: Probably not, because it's like minute by minute, which means it will take eight hours for us to... Yeah, go ahead.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Maddie: Which period are you at.

Michelle: I think she's about to start talking about first period.

Maddie: Are you serious?!

Elizabeth: So, we spend first period watching the video and so then the bell rings and everyone says, "Yes!" —

Michelle: I'm hoping the line, "And the rest of the day flew by really quickly" will come out.

Maddie: Tomorrow we have to go through school with the lights off.

Elizabeth: Why?

Maddie: It's like, um, Earth Day or something and so we don't have lights on.

Chris: Are you kidding? Who's idea was that?

Michelle: That's not safe.

Elizabeth: Mr. Mooney's?

Chris: Yeah.

Maddie: And they're gonna have floodlights on for like the science rooms — they're pitch black. And it's like to save money and be green.

Chris: Yeah, that's not right.

Maddie: Mom!

Chris: Why are you mad at me?

Maddie: Because! Everything that happened at school is bad!

Chris: That's not true.

Maddie: Snacks for homeroom — "Oh... we don't need to spend money on that!" "Oh, he probably spent $10 on bagels — just because they were on sale!"

Chris: That is not how I sound.

Elizabeth: Yeah it is!


Elizabeth: Okay, let me finish my day —

Chris: Maddie and I have to hurry up and leave so hurry up.

Elizabeth: So, okay...

Chris: You've got 30 SECONDS!

Elizabeth: Okay, so we get on a bus to watch this play.

Chris: Cy Ride?

Elizabeth: Yes, we got on Cy Ride.

Michelle: They had a field trip today. Did you hear?

Elizabeth: Yes, a field trip. And they had black lights on, so my shirt looked all paint splattered and stuff. So then the play was over and we got back on the bus.

Chris: You went to a play?

Elizabeth: Yeah, that was the field trip. A play.

Chris: What was the play?

Elizabeth: I don't know, some Shakespeare thing. It was boring 'cause you couldn't understand them. They were like, "Thee... Thy... To be..." and you couldn't even understand 'em. And so —

Maddie: We're reading Shakespeare — 'er, Romeo and Juliet.

Elizabeth: Yeah — that's what it was, or something like that. And then there were like some fairies or something and it was really creepy. But then we went through fifth period and sixth period and on the bus we had a anti-bacterial and lotion war where you set lotion on the top of the seat and you flick it and it goes flying. It's so much fun. We don't get in trouble though 'cause our bus driver doesn't care what we do.

Maddie: Wait, do you have a girl?

Elizabeth: Yes.

Maddie: For FOUR YEARS we had this nasty guy.

Elizabeth: She plays the radio for us.

Maddie: Yeah, and we couldn't have music, either.

Chris: And WE couldn't have HAND SANITIZER, EITHER!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Many a doctrine is like a window pane.
We see truth through it but it divides us from truth.
~ Kahlil Gibran
- - - - -

For a while I worked at a newspaper in Iowa City. One of my colleagues there used to tell the best stories. She talked about how she used to drink a LOT and the "adventures" (perhaps MISadventures) she had. This is one of my favorite quotes from her:

"We had been drinking, but my friend couldn't drive because of the headache she had from her head bumping the windshield when we hit that deer."

Monday, April 18, 2011


If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door greet him with, "Who could have done this? We have no enemies!"
~ Phyllis Diller
- - - - -

Chris: Wow, Elizabeth. Your room looks a lot better. (pause) What would happen if I opened your closet door?

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.
~ HH the Dalai Lama
- - - - -

You wouldn't know it by looking at her, but Chris Fowler can do an amazing impression of a hungry baby eagle.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Be kind and considerate with your criticism...
It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book.
~ Malcolm Cowley
- - - - -

So I have been doing some reading about expectations and how to manage your own expectations of people and events. Basically, some of what I have read uses negative interactions with strangers as an example. These authors say that you shouldn't expect a complete stranger to be kind or considerate to you. They don't even know you.

Maybe. But I hate random rudeness. It doesn't make sense. Targeted and intentional rudeness based on one's experience with another person... now that makes complete sense to me.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.
You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.
You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride.
You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.
We have seen the future, and the future is ours.
~ Cesar Chavez
- - - - -

How do I know that there is humor in the universe — maybe at the core of the universe? Last Friday, I went to the ISU Pride Rally at the Free Speech Zone. Afterward, we had lunch at The Hub. The student who waited on me was named "Ally." Then, the next day, one of the teams Elizabeth played in softball was Fort Dodge Pride.

Okay, that last one isn't really that revealing about the nature of the universe. They play that team almost every weekend.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
~ Winston Churchill
- - - - -

Elizabeth: So, at school for April Fool's Day, some of the girls moved all of the stuff out of one of the teacher's rooms. Then the teacher said the room was not workable and that she was calling the police to report vandalism. She kept saying that until the girls were almost crying. One of them - the little dramatic one — was crying!

Chris: Is that what you call yourself, Elizabeth? A little dramatic one?

Elizabeth: I call everyone as tall as me little. I'm five feet, fifteen inches. I measured myself in science.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


When [name deleted] attends, well, it ceases to be a fun event.
~ Ryan Evely Gildersleeve
- - - - -

This year's family photo shoot was not quite as successful as in years past. I think this photo captures it all. Maddie was snotty. Elizabeth was annoyed and tried to push Maddie's buttons. And Chris was thinking about what it will be like when the girls go away to college. Or just go away.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.
~ Drew Carey
- - - - -

If you follow my blog you know that I hate clowns, dolls, the word "conglomerate," and monkeys in clothes. If you don't follow my blog, you also now know all of those things and can save yourself some time by not reading the rest of my blog.

Anyway, here is a list of additional things I loathe:

* The smell of Ramen noodles cooking.
* Movies about snow
* Movies set in the desert
* Finding crumbs in a pocket
* Cleaning under the sink — especially if there are crumbs there
* Glitter
* Stuff around my feet when I'm riding in a car
* Not only the word "conglomerate," but also the word "nematode."

Monday, April 11, 2011


There is more similarity in the marketing challenge of selling
a precious painting by Degas and a frosted mug of root beer
than you ever thought possible.
~ A. Alfred Taubman
- - - - -

I think it's important to encourage the girls to support the arts. On a recent trip to Chicago, I took some pictures of these drummers. I asked Elizabeth to put some money in their bucket. She was hesitant at first, but finally agreed to do it.

As a result I told her she didn't have to pay me back for the root beer-scented pencil she had gotten at the museum gift shop.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.

~ Ernest Holmes

- - - - -

So, my favorite cartoon character is the Wicked Queen from Snow White. And by "The Wicked Queen from Snow White" I mean this person:

Chris sent me the following email once:

This is for your FB profile:

I had to write back and let her know that I liked the other villain, NOT Maleficent. They're totally different. One is a misunderstood stepmother. The other is a freakshow

Saturday, April 9, 2011


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

My grandparents had a viewmaster like this one. The one I had when I was little was red. I remember I had a Country Bears Jamboree reel and one about that cartoon horse sheriff.

The 3D technology on those things was awesome.

But, now that I think about it, if you were really the MASTER of viewing, would you select Country Bears Jamboree and Quick Draw McGraw as the things you'd allow others to view?

Friday, April 8, 2011


So I got home, and the phone was ringing. I picked it up, and said
'Who's speaking please?' And a voice said 'You are.'
~ Tim Vine
- - - - -

So, on our computer we have a bunch of music. I've downloaded most of the CDs we have owned (many of which we then donated or sold). At one time I had a 3 CD set of sound effects. Now, when the music plays randomly Hank Williams might be followed by a busy signal followed by Cyndi Lauper followed by Desmond Dekker and the Aces and a cat meowing.

I like it better than when the computer just plays in order and you hear Fairydust-Fingersnap-Footsteps-Gong.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Own only what you can always carry with you:
know languages, know countries, know people.
Let your memory be your travel bag.
~Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- - - - -

My friend Ryan has an ongoing struggle with baggers at the grocery store. He wants paper bags so that wildlife doesn't get sick and die from eating plastic bags or from getting entangled in them. Simultaneously, he wants to use as few paper bags as possible so as to minimize his carbon footprint. According to his assessment, 88% of the time he goes to the store, he is dissatisfied with the bagging process.

He recently asked a bagger to put as many groceries as possible into a single paper bag. The bagger semi-successfully filled his paper bag, but then put the other groceries in plastic bags.

We talked about when people used to know how to bag groceries and shared our suspicions that perhaps plastic bags were the downfall to the bagging skills.

I am not sure what upset me more — his frustrating experience or the fact that we actually reminisced about the golden age of grocery bagging.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


There is an eagle in me that wants to soar,
and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.

~ Carl Sandburg
- - - - -
So, the eagle cam in Decorah is awesome. It has brought me some calm and a focus besides the stresses in life.

Last night, for example, I watched as the mother eagle fell asleep. That was pretty interesting. And then I thought, "I wonder what this eagle would do if it saw me on a video monitor dozing off?" And then I realized that the eagle would probably peck the crap out of the monitor while it looked at me sleeping.

Now it's not quite so relaxing watching the eagles.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.
~ Margaret Fuller
- - - - -

At one point I was pretty sure I would become a world-famous greeting card writer. More famous than all the other greeting card writers. Here is an example of one of the many amazing cards I developed:

I'll still love you when you're old and bald and toothless and shriveled up.

I just won't look at you as much.

Stupid greeting card companies. Missed out on a goldmine right here.

Monday, April 4, 2011


I hate this place when we're not here.
~ Patty Buckley
- - - - -

Absence doesn't always make the heart grow fonder. Sometimes presence makes the heart grow fonder of absence.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I don't care whether you're driving a hybrid or an SUV.
If you're headed for a cliff, you have to change direction.
~ Barack Obama
- - - - -

While walking downtown Chicago...

Elizabeth: I know this place like the back of my hand.

Maddie: Oh, yeah?! Well, I know this place like the back of my head!

Elizabeth: Really, Maddie? Really? And how easy is it for you to see the back of your head?!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


A person reveals his character by nothing so clearly as the joke he resents.
~ Georg C. Lichtenberg
- - - - -

Once in college - because I love April Fool's Day so much - I declared it "April Fool's Month." I was an RA at the time and all of the RA rooms were keyed to the same key. My colleagues and I entered one another's rooms to play pranks. One evening I came back after rounds and my entire room had been moved from my actual room to the lobby area between the elevators. They had unlofted and relofted my bed, put up my posters — everything. It was a good joke.

The part I didn't like, though, was that they moved my tapes (cassette tapes NOT 8-track tapes!) out of alphabetical order and have even moved some tapes from one case to the next. Seriously, who can live like that?

Friday, April 1, 2011


I've always felt that sexuality is a really slippery thing.
In this day and age, it tends to get categorized and labeled,
and I think labels are for food. Canned food.
~ Michael Stipe
- - - - -

Today is my favorite holiday. I think the best April Fool's joke I ever played I played on my mom and dad. I was at my parent's house and they were gone. Before I left to go back to my house (I think I lived in Iowa City at the time) I chose some canned goods from my parents' cupboard and carefully removed and switched around the labels.

A day or so later my mom called. She said, "Well, we were going to have hot dogs and sauerkraut for dinner, but we ended up having hot dogs and peaches instead." Another time she said, "Your dad wanted bean and bacon soup for lunch, but instead he had a can of beets."

It still makes me laugh.