Search This Blog

Follow by Email

Google+ Followers

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead. 
 ~Mac McCleary
- - - - -

Maddie:  Mom, can you drive better?  I'm getting car sick.

Elizabeth: I'm not.

Maddie:  Well, I'm trying to open my bag.

Michelle:  So you can throw up in it?

Maddie:  Yes.

Elizabeth:  Want some licorice?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion and desire.
~ Aristotle
- - - - - 

A lot of people think seven is a lucky number.  Do you know the history of this?  Well, let me tell you...

Some say it is because there were 7 days in the creation story.  Some say it is because 7 is a perfect number equally the sum of the points in a triangle and a square.  Some say it is because there are 7 colors in the rainbow.

The truth is that 7 is lucky because of the 7 dwarves in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  The dwarves represent all the human emotions that make us complete:  grumpy, happy, sleepy, bashful, dopey, sneezy and wanting to be a doctor.  This goes back to ancient times when the dwarves were known as the inventors of the wheel and the bringers of fire and the openers of Pandora's box.

I really have a great deal of knowledge about things that most people don't know as much about.  

You're welcome.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce
- - - - -

The above is a photo of a drawing I made of Elizabeth.  Apparently she spilled something on the floor. You can see the remorse on her face.

What is more interesting than the spill, is her "hat."  You can't probably tell this from my sketch, but that is a shower cap she has on.  She is wearing it because Chris had just treated her for head lice and we read somewhere that if you put a bunch of hair gel on and then wear a shower cap, the head lice suffocate.

I, apparently, was so moved by all of this that I captured it in my art.

If that is the great tragedy that inspires me in the way that great artists are inspired, it explains two things. First, that I must have a pretty good life because in the scheme of great tragedies, a kid having head lice is not the greatest tragedy.

Second, if great art is inspired by great tragedy, then this is clearly mediocre art inspired by — is there such a thing as a "mediocre tragedy?"

Monday, June 27, 2011


What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What's the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?
~ Buddha
- - - - -

Yesterday I drove around for a while, found a quiet place to sit and reflect and think, and then drove home.  Unfortunately, on the way home the weather started getting rough.  I was distracted (as I easily am sometimes) by the clouds and the lightning and the flooding.  I got turned around.  

I stopped twice to ask directions.  My cell phone was dead (and I hadn't remembered to bring a charger) so I couldn't use the GPS and, while we had a map in the glove compartment, it was a map of Illinois.  I was lost, but I was confident I was still in the state of Iowa.

So, the second time I stopped to ask for directions to I-80, the woman said, "Well, you just go out on that road there and keep going north, but there are some low points and the cricks flood.  I don't know if you can even get through!  And there hasn't been a cop in for me to ask!  Sorry.  I don't know what else to tell you.  You might be flooded in!"

That was disconcerting.

It turns out I wasn't flooded in.  

Choose the moral of the story that most suits you:

a. Be prepared.
b. There's never a cop around when you need one.
c. Thunder in the morning, all day storming.  Thunder at night, travelers delight.
d. You can't judge a book by its cover.
e. A wolf in sheep's clothing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Seven beers followed by two Scotches and a thimble of marijuana and it's funny how sleep comes all on it's own.
~David Sedaris
- - - - -

Chris: We used to play "Hide the Thimble" all the time.  "You're burning up!"

Maddie:  Oh, we used to play that with Grandma and Grandpa.

Michelle:  No you didn't.  Did you play it with a lighter?  We used to actually BURN people.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I do not fear failure. I only fear the "slowing up" of the engine inside of me which is pounding, saying, "Keep going, someone must be on top, why not you?"
~ General George S. Patton
- - - - - 

Did you ever try to compete against someone who isn't competitive?  It can be very frustrating because even when you win, you don't win.  Because if they don't care that you won, it's not really a victory.  But if you write those victories down in a secret notebook, they still count.  And that's what you can do — go back and count them over and over.

Then who is the winner?  Right?  Me.  That's who.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Style is the perfection of a point of view.
~ Richard Eberhart
- - - - -

Elizabeth: Wouldn't it be cool if dogs could have braces?

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Give me a museum and I'll fill it.
~ Pablo Picasso
- - - - -

I have decided that I want to open a museum when I retire.  I'm not sure what it might be a museum of.  But if I get famous and there is a museum of me, I don't want to run it.  I think I'd get pretty tired of people asking me if I was "an exhibit."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Just because swans mate for life, I don't think its that big a deal. First of all, if you're a swan, you're probably not going to find a swan that looks much better than the one you've got, so why not mate for life?
~ Jack Handey

- - - - -

So, these are the swans at Lake Laverne on the Iowa State University campus. Their names are Lancelot and Elaine. I think right now they are both female swans. They laid an eggs last year and the year before. It's kind of like an ISU version of And Tango Makes Three. Another credit to the diversity at Iowa State.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Fear less, hope more;
Eat less, chew more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Love more, and all good things will be yours.
~ Swedish Proverb
- - - - -

I think I have an allergy to public displays of affection.
Whenever I see it, I get sweetheartburn.

Monday, June 20, 2011


You can't hatch chickens from fried eggs.
~ Dutch Proverb
- - - - -

Once there was a chicken. The chicken was always afraid. It's chicken friends would say, "You're such a chicken!" These were not particularly good friends and they clearly had some self-loathing issues.

Nearby there was a cat. The cat was also always afraid. It's cat friends would say, "You're such a scaredy cat!" Again - crummy friends with low self-esteem.

Now, I could tell you how the chicken and the cat in this story worked together to protect their friends from a monster or bad weather or bad investments and everyone thought they were so brave, but that is not what happened.  The cat ate the chicken.  It had nothing to do with self-esteem.  It had to do with the fact that it was a cat and a chicken.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Only he can understand what a farm is, what a country is, who shall have sacrificed part of himself to his farm or country, fought to save it, struggled to make it beautiful. Only then will the love of farm or country fill his heart.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- - - - - 

Chris:  Look at the wind farm, girls!

Michelle:  My great grandparents were wind farmers.  They used to have to catch it with their hands and run inside where they'd pickle it for the winter.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


But which is the stone that supports the bridge?
~ Kublai Khan
- - - - -

My friend Brad is always out wandering around.  Wandering around is something I also enjoy.  Not long ago he texted me about the opening of this bridge - The High Trestle Bridge.  I went and saw it.  It is very impressive.  I want to go back again at night because it has lights and I am guessing that it looks pretty spectacular at night.

The cynical part of me (perhaps related to my judicial career, perhaps related to being cynical) wanted to go see it right away before it got all vandalized.  It's not that I don't have faith in my fellow human beings.  I have complete faith in them.  Faith that they will, one day, paint graffiti on this bridge.

Friday, June 17, 2011


When I look down, I miss all the good stuff; when I look up, I just trip over things.
~ Ani Difranco
- - - - -

I was going through one of my books of notes.  A notebook of sorts, if you will.  Anyway, I found this quote from a great Shakespeare class I took as a grad student:

"This is Shakespeare's most barbaric and unwatchable scene.  Let's take a look at it."

I loved that professor.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


All the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911.
~ Lewis Black
- - - - -

You know where you should not eat Fun Dip?  On the top of a sand dune on a windy day.  Or any other place because Fun Dip is kind of nasty.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.  
~Lord Byron
- - - - -

I have this bad habit of starting letters and then not sending them.  As I write this, I am going through a notebook and I came across a letter I wrote to a friend in November of 2002.  So what do I do?  Do I send the letter?  What if the friend is someone with whom I've lost touch?  Do I scratch out the name and write someone else's name and make the date look like something closer to today's date?  Do I keep it for myself as a note to remember what I was going through almost nine years ago?  Do I sell it on ebay?


Seriously, how much do you think I could get for it on ebay?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The color of truth is gray.
~ Andre Gide
- - - - -

So this is part of my school.  You will notice the colors are cardinal and gold.  You can see it in the sculpture and the flowers.  So, here is my question...  When I see it, I pick up trash on the ground.  The other day I saw a Slim Jim wrapper.  It is the same colors.  Should I have left it on the ground?

While I think it is interesting that the colors match ISU colors, I think the answer to the question is, "Of course not, idiot!  It was trash."

Monday, June 13, 2011


It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.  ~P.D. James
- - - - -

I like fall.  It is not fall right now.  It is summer.  Or wait, I think it's still spring.

Anyway, a lot of people don't know that fall is called fall because when you tell kids it's time to go school shopping, they fall down and start crying.  Of course, you usually tell them that in the summer since fall starts after school starts.

I don't know why they call it fall.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Every man of genius sees the world at a different angle from his fellows, and there is his tragedy.
~ Havelock Ellis
- - - - -

I like angles and shadows and light.  If I had made a typo, it would say I like angels and shadows and light.  I didn't.  And, you know what?  An angel lurking in the shadows would freak me out.  There isn't much that if it was truly "lurking" in shadows that wouldn't freak me out.  A few examples:

encyclopedia salesperson
harmonicist...  harmonicaist...  person with a harmonica

I wonder how people named Monica feel about that instrument.  If there was some kind of instrument called a "Harm Michelle" I would not be a fan.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


      Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery.
~ Mark Amidon
- - - - -

Elizabeth:  So when I went to have my tonsils out, I found an orange Skittle on the car seat and I snuck it 'cause I was hungry and then I thought there was going to be a problem with the surgery.

Friday, June 10, 2011


All that really belongs to us is time; 
even he who has nothing else has that.
~ Baltasar Gracian

- - - - -

Maddie:  We'll be back in 20 minutes.  (pause, then quietly to Elizabeth)  Do you have a watch?

Elizabeth:  No.

Maddie:  It's a rough estimate on the 20 minutes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.
~ J. K. Rowling

- - - - -

Maddie:  "Can't Buy Me Love," what movie is that from?

Elizabeth:  "RV."

Maddie:  No...  Oh — it's from "Can't Buy Me Love" with Patrick Dempsey.  It's my favorite old movie besides "Dirty Dancing!"

(NOTE:  "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Dirty Dancing" were both released in 1987.)

Elizabeth:  Patrick Dempsey wasn't in it.  Don't you mean Patrick Swayze?

Maddie: No, Patrick Dempsey.

Elizabeth:  Does Maddie like guys named Patrick?

Michelle:  Yes.  She's looking for a guy named Patrick Patrick to marry.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


A man who does not think for himself, does not think at all.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -

On our recent trip to the Outer Banks, we played word association for a while.  In terms of giving us insight into one another, it was fairly unsuccessful.  Or maybe we just don't want to SEE what is inside of one another.

An example:

Maddie:  Hippopotamus
Chris:      Purple
Michelle: Grandma
Elizabeth:  Kills the most people

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Soon silence will have passed into legend.  Man has turned his back on silence.  Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation...tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego.  His anxiety subsides.  His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.  
~Jean Arp
- - - - -

Elizabeth wants two things for her birthday.  A new iPod touch and a typewriter.  She's going for the "both ends of the technology spectrum" themed birthday.  Well, not completely, I guess.  If that was the case she'd ask for a rock and a virtual reality lab.

Monday, June 6, 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 them.  I am a little competitive, so part of the reason I love games is because I love to win.  Winning is fun.  Losing is not as much fun.

On a recent road trip we played travel Mad Gab.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept of the game, there are words that you read and then people have to guess what you are saying.  An example:

You Sass Dye Erected = Use as directed.

So, I am pretty good at Mad Gab.  If I wasn't, I wouldn't have encouraged us to take it with us in the car.  As we were playing, I realized that even when I would get an answer or get it before everyone else, Elizabeth (the scorekeeper) would give points to the MaddieChris team instead of to Team Michelle.  Finally, when I was frustrated enough with this unethical scorekeeping, I said, "Elizabeth, I have one for you to guess: Hugh Our A Butthead!"

Sunday, June 5, 2011


A hero is someone we can admire without apology.
~ Kitty Kelley
- - - - -

Maddie:  Elizabeth, I don't think you realize how much you look up to me.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, 
to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, 
we change their lives forever, for the better.
~ Barack Obama
- - - - -

I was recently at a conference where I found myself talking with three librarians and a nursing instructor.  The nursing instructor looked around the group and said, "How come all the librarians get to come to this conference?"

I replied, "Because they keep the books!"

The nursing person looked confused and the librarians all looked like that might not have been the first time they heard such a joke.

I, on the other hand, laughed heartily and was reminded that often humor is just for the self.  Well, for librarians, I guess humor is for the shelf.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
~ Winston Churchill
- - - - -

I don't know why Elizabeth got so angry when I yelled and screamed that she should come and look at the turtle I found on the beach.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Politicians fascinate because they constitute such a paradox; they are an elite that accomplishes mediocrity for the public good.
~ George F. Will
- - - - -

This is one of my favorite signs in one of my favorite places on campus. It's elitist and yet the table is located in a space where you wouldn't think a lot of people would want to sit — in a busy hallway near a door and boxes of Solo cups.  And yet - like many of us, I venture to guess - when I see that I am not allowed to sit there (as I am not a Courtyard Cafe employee), I really WANT to sit there.  What is also interesting about this reverse psychology is that it is in the building where a lot of psychology classes are held.

Maybe all of life is one great psychology experiment and our goal is to figure out if we are members of the control or the test group

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks--we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.
~ Parker Palmer
- - - - -

Elizabeth: No one got in Algebra except this one kid Justin who talks like he has a British accent, but he doesn't.  He's American.