Thursday, June 11, 2009


As is obvious, I am on sabbatical from my blog for a number of reasons. I appreciate the feedback and will get back to it when i feel inspired.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wichita Mountain Hike

I hiked the Charons Garden Trail on Friday and it was wonderful. I got to the refuge at daybreak and saw tons of wildlife. It began with a wild pig running across the road, but that was the first of many types of animals. Overall I saw about 300 buffalo, about 100 Longhorn Steer, dozens of Roosevelt Elk and Deer, and one perplexed Coyote. I say perplexed because he was amongst a heard of Buffalo that could not have cared less about him. Obviously, he posed no treat to them. All had calves along, but seemed very relaxed none the less.

Another treat were the hundreds of prairie dogs. I had never been there when the prairie dog offspring was there, and it was quite a treat.

Then I headed out for a 2 hour hike. I took Abby. It was her first hike, and she did great. She walked about 8-10 feet in front of me the whole time and was able to follow the trail
even when I had trouble seeing where a turn went. She also bounded over fallen trees and bounded through creeks....not bad for a dog who does not like water. We did not see a single person on the hike, so we truly felt alone.

As you can see, some wildflowers were in bloom and was surprised to find many cactus. I will post more on my facebook page where there is more room.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Sorry I have been lax in posting. Life has been getting the best of me. But I had a Couple small things to share. Hope to get to a couple more soon.

The Blast Radius of a Snapple:
As many of you know, I love Diet Peach Snapple. Recently I accidentally dropped on in the kitchen, and the glass and drink went everywhere. And When I say everywhere, I mean it. The kitchen floor was covered with glass, but some of it went 15 feet into the living room. The wall in the hall stopped it in that direction, but the wall was splattered with Snapple. It looked like blood spatter on CSI. Best of all, the cap flew down the main hallway and came to rest almost 20 feet away. Quite and accomplishment since it had to kind of make a curve to get there. So from the glass in the dining room and the cap, it was 35 feet. I cleaned up all but the wall splatter since we hope to get the house painted soon. What a mess.

Buying Paper:
I buy better paper for the artwork I print out for customers. It is heavier and brighter. Paper brightness is rated on a scale. I buy 96 on a scale that goes to 100. This was the highest I have seen until yesterday when I saw and bout some that rated "113". I am not sure how that happens....must be like an athlete giving "110%". Anyway, I look forward to tonight because I fully expect it to glow in the dark!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Eleven Rules Of Life For Graduating Students

I almost never read viral emails (the ones you gets from friends with funny or touching information, and then sends it on to everyone you know), so this might be something you have seen. I ran across it on the Internet while looking for something about graduation to put in one of my monthly newsletters for a customer. I was reluctant to use it so that I would not offend anyone. As you know, people today are easily offended, and the last thing I want to do is put my customer in the position of receiving phone calls from lots of tenants upset about something in one of my stupid little fun newsletters.

Since I know most of the people who read my blog, I doubt anyone would get offended by it. I know every generation thinks the generations that follow have it to easy and that "things aren't like they used to be. For those of you who sometimes feel that way, this is for you. I like them all, but my personal favorites are numbers 1,5,7 and 8.

Eleven Rules Of Life For Graduating Students

Rule 1: Life is not fair; get used to it.

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president until you earn it.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

(Source "Dumbing Down our Kids" by educator Charles Sykes)

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Treasure Hunters

Twice a year, our Trash service does a special pickup where they will haul away about anything you can put at your curb. Certain items are not allowed (chemicals, oil, etc.), but for the most part, if you put it out, they will haul it away. Norman is big enough that it is broken up over several weekends. This is our weekend.

Their job is made much easier by people who drive through the neighborhoods the week of their "Spring" or "Fall" pickup and looking for treasure. I use the word treasure loosely. But for these Treasure Hunters, it is heaven. Think about is a garage sale where everything is free!!!!!! About 8 times a year, the Treasure Hunters circle the neighborhood streets like vultures waiting for roadkill. I watch these trucks and trailers go by and look at the crap they have picked up and just shake my head. Where does it all go? Then I watched "My Big Redneck Wedding". These people typically live outside the areas where city codes are enforced. LOL

Some people use the occasion to get rid of unwanted furniture, and for many of these Treasure Seekers this is an upgrade from what they are currently using in their doublewide. This I get. But in past years, I have had almost every single thing I have put out has been picked up by Treasure Hunters before the city trucks arrive. Keep in mind, if I thought the item in question had any worth, I would give Goodwill a call. The stuff I am getting rid of is merely trash that won't fit in my green trash can. My neighbors and I actually have an unofficial contest of "what was the oddest thing a treasure hunter ever took". Here is my entry:

A couple years ago I had to get a new cover for the hot tub. The old one had become water logged and weighed about 800 pounds. I put it on the side of the house for 3 months waiting for spring pickup because I don't have any way to get it to the dump, and am too cheap to pay a dumping fee. Over those 3 months that spa cover became a lab experiment any bacterial scientist would have been proud of. It was covered in mold and was even heavier after sitting out in the rain. It was so bad, it made me nauseous as me and a friend moved it to the curb. No way anyone has a use for this, right?

It was gone in 10 minutes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rising From The Ashes

Although I have things I wanted to blog, I have been dealing with other issues. I think I am about to get back into it. My cousin mentioned something that she saw that could only be seen in her hometown. It got me thinking that every town is has characters and odd things that make them different. I have a growing affection for these kinds of things and had a great time recently on Route 66 between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. This is a picture of what was once a top of the line Phillips 66 gas station. Today it looks like a little cottage you would put in a train set. But there are unique, special and bizarre things in every town. I passed a few of them in Norman today and I think I am ready to get back to blogging. I would post more from that stretch of route 66 (Pop's, the round barn and the shoe tree), but I think Tracy, Whitney and I are going to do it together soon. I will blog it then.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Return of 80s Hair

Has anyone other than me noticed there seems to be a growing trend towards the big poofy hairdos of the 80's? The first time I noticed it was the ridiculously big hair of the female host of Fox's Baseball Studio Show (pictured here). Big does not even begin to describe her hair. It also seems to be a growing trend amongst the news babes on Fox and CNN. Even Sherri Coale (coach of OU's Women's Basketball Team) has gone to big hair. Sherri is always in fashion.

I am torn over this trend. On the downside, the environmental damage could be enormous. I think the use of Aqua Net hairspray in the 80's by hair-bands like Poison, Whitesnake and Cinderella is what put the hole in the ozone to begin with.

On the positive side, I look forward to being able to break out MY 80's hair. Heck, I would be happy to break out ANY hair. But that is besides the point. I had GREAT hair in the 80s. It was not really big per se. It was kind of Shaun Cassidy-like and was feathered back on the side. Those were the dangling in my eyes. Sigh.

On a somewhat related note (bear with me.....this is a TRUE case of Dan Rambling)......the big hair of the Fox Baseball woman always reminds me of Farrah Fawcett. This of course reminds me of being in Owasso visiting my aunt Kathy's house. I would stay in my cousin Stacy's room, and he had this Farrah Fawcett poster on his wall. He also had a very hot posters of Cheryl Tiegs and Cheryl Ladd as I recall (the early 80s were a GREAT time for Cheryl's). This does raise the question of how a hormone charged teeange boy sleeps with Farrah and the Cheryl's staring at him. The answer is "not very well". I did not have this problem at in my room at home. My bedroom walls were covered with posters of rock gods like Ozzy, AC/DC and the baddest of them all, Rick Springfield.

This all leads to one last story about Farrah Fawcett and Owasso. When I was about 14 we were visiting and Mom and Aunt Kathy dropped us off at the movie theater. I can't recall who all went, but I remember the movie: Cannonball Run. My story is not so much seeing the movie and Farrah's brilliant acting performance, but the review I gave it when my mom and Aunt Kathy picked me up at the theater. They asked what I thought of the movie, and I replied "I can tell you one thing......they didn't spend much of the budget on bras". Mom and Aunt Kathy laughed all the way home.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thoughts On Being A Clueless Man

I had an issue pop up today with a female customer. It is something that has baffled men throughout the ages. It is a minefield only the bravest among us dares to enter. What is this terrifying dilemma of which I speak?

"Is the woman I am talking to pregnant, or has she just put on some weight since I saw her last?"

Today and in almost every other situation, I refrained from congratulating a female customer on a pregnancy for fear of insulting her. What happens if I ask when she is expecting, and it turns out she has just been downing a lot Twinkies and Ding Dongs?

I have never made this mistake, but I came very close one time. We were at a birthday party for a friend and noticed another guest at the party appeared pregnant. I told my friend "I did not know she was pregnant", and she replied: "she isn't.....she has just put on a lot of weight". I was SO happy I had not said something to this woman who I was positive was pregnant.

As it stands now, a woman has to be pretty close to having contractions before I even broach the subject. I feel bad about this because I want to express happiness for expectant mothers. But that desire pales in comparison to having a hefty woman taking a snow shovel and beating me upside the head.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Break 2009

We spent Spring Break in Phoenix Arizona with our good friend Teri. She has been mentioned in several of my stories, including the infamous midget groping incident and my experiences with a chocolate fountain. In fact I realized as I started doing this blog that our life has been much more boring since she moved to Arizona. It was great spending a few days with her and seeing the wonderful life she has made for herself in Phoenix.

The trip did not start very well. I had been fighting a
allergies/cold/gunk for about 2 weeks. After spreading this crud to about half my extended family in Wamego Kansas over the weekend (sorry everyone), we took my sister to the airport on Monday night and loaded up the car. I did not sleep well and my even had a fever spike. Just what you want as you begin a 15 hour drive!

I have driven thousands of miles across this country, and my least favorite stretch of land is I-40 through the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico. It is flat, boring and brown. When the highlight of the drive is Whitney calling Tucamcari "Tucamcalimari", you have a boring drive. Big thanks to Tracy for driving more than her share on the way to Phoenix while I was asleep in the backseet looped out on nyquil. It was the best time I ever had crossing that stretch of road.

My fever broke just before Flagstaff, which was great. It was 13 hours into the drive, and the first thing worth seeing, unless you count the Amarillo Stockyards. The drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix is kind of odd. As you drop in elevation, you transition from pine trees, patches of snow and 50 degrees to desert, cactus and 80 degrees in in a mater of just a few miles. We arrived in Phoenix just after dark, happy to see our friend and ready to experience a little fun in the sun.

Next up: Phoenix

Other People's Kids

I guess I have a reputation of not liking kids. This is a vicious rumor, and I have no idea where anyone got this impression. Oh wait....I do......they got it from me.

It started with a phone call I received about 10 years ago from the lady who ran the Sunday School program at the church we were attending. She was looking for parents to lead a class of second graders and seemed to think Tracy and I were prime candidates. I told her I was flattered she thought so highly of us, and proceeded to give her several reasons why we could not lead a Sunday School Class. Among these was the fact we were a different denomination that the church we were attending. I thought this was a clincher, but Lee Ann would hear nothing of it and persisted. I was grasping for a way to get out of it., when I just blurted out "I can't do it because I don't like kids". There was stunned silence on the other end of the phone and she moved on to the next name on her list.

The fact is I don't hate kids. I don't like obnoxious kids. There is a big difference. I just knew that in a group of 10-15 second graders there would be at least one little snot that would make my life miserable for one hour every week. I am just not wired to deal with that. If there is a job I am less suited for than leading a group of young children, I do not know what it is. I recognize this. But that is far different that "I don't like kids".

I tell this story to put into perspective my next statement: I loved having my sister and two of her kids with us for a few days. It allowed me to get to know them a little better than when we see all six at once.

I had a ball with Adam and watching the wonderment with which a one year old views the world. My niece Sarah is an joy to be around. She is sweet, easy going and has a wonderful smile. She also seems to like me, which I value very highly.

I will stop listing kids I like, since it seems to imply that those not listed fall on the "naughty" list. But I just wanted to tell you that when "Dan" told everyone he did not like kids, he did not know what he was talking about.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1976 Wemego Family Reunion

In about 72 hours, I will be in Wamego Kansas for the first time in 20 years. It was never my hometown, and I have only been there a few times. I have been thinking about the previous trips and had planned to write a blog post about them. But the more more and more I thought about it, I had to devote and entire blog entry to the trip I made to Wamego for a family reunion in 1976 when I was 9 years old.

It deserves it's own entry because at the time, it was THE GREATEST TRIP EVER!!!!!!!

OK, so I know Wamego is not everyone's destination of choice when they think of a fun trip. But there was something very special about this one: I was going without my Mom and sister.........and even better, I was going with my Grandma and my Aunt Michelle! I loved my Grandma, but this was the first time I was able to spend so much time with her without a bunch of other family around. From that trip on, I adored my Grandmother. And what can I say about Aunt Michelle, other than I thought she was the coolest, funnest, bestest Aunt any boy ever had.

My memories of this trip are vivid, but I am sure I have some of the details wrong. I am really looking forward to asking my Aunt Michelle about them in a few days so she can set me straight. But here is what I remember:

- Driving back and forth in Grandma and Grandpa's BIG car. Back in those days, seat belts were not required, so I remember climbing around and sitting as close as I could to my Grandma and Aunt Michelle. I remember Aunt Michelle and I passed time playing "hangman" and adding up all the state populations in the atlas to figure out how many people lived in the United States.

-We stayed with my Great Aunt Toots and Great Uncle Ken. I remember going out into the fields with Uncle Ken and having him show me how he picked sweet potatoes (at least that is what I remember him growing). I also went fishing at an old farm pond with their son (is that right), who was older than me and remember thinking he was very cool. We fished for perch, and I caught a BUNCH of them.

-What I remember most about that trip was Aunt Toots' pies. In a story that has become legend in our family, I ate A LOT of pie when we were there. As I recall, she would say "Danny, would you like an apple pie or a chocolate pie with dinner tonight", and I would tell her I could not choose because I liked both. So she made both!!!!!!! That night, I would have to have a piece of each, of course. And when Grandma allowed me to have seconds, I had to have seconds of each too! Aren't Grandma's the greatest invention ever? This went on for the whole time we were there. Those Kansas country folk knew how to treat a growing boy.

-We had an actual family reunion. I remember it as a picnic of sorts where everybody brought food. It was that day that I found out my family was much larger than I thought. It seemed I was related to about everyone in northeast Kansas. On that day, I also learned I did not actually have a name as far as these people was concerned: I was simply "Jackie's boy". Over and over again, when I was introduced to someone, they would say "and this is Jackie's boy".

Unfortunately, the trip had to end. We returned to Springfield. I still remember the look on my Mom's face when she saw how much weight I had gained when we were at Aunt Toots' house. Mom describes it as "it looks like you swallowed a bowling ball". I don't think Mom was real happy with Grandma, but she got over it.

Anyway, that was my first trip to Wamego. As a funny aside- it is true that what goes around comes around. Flash forward a little over 20 years. Whitney has gone off to the Ranch for a week with my Mom, my Grandfather and Aunts. Sure enough......when she got back, she look like she had swallowed a bowling ball from eating all those hot dogs, smores and aunt michelle's "special" macaroni salad. Mom could not wipe the grin off her face. Gotta love Grandmas.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Follow The Yellow Brick Road

In less than a week, we will be in Wamego, Kansas (population 4243) for my Grandfather's memorial service. While the reason for going is sad, I am very excited about seeing family.

For such a small town, Wamego has some interesting history. It is the birthplace of the man who founded Chrysler, and there are areas around town where you can still see the ruts from the wagons that passed through on the Oregon Trail. But in a stroke of genius, Wamego has promoted itself as the home of all things to do with "The Wizard Of Oz".

They are serious about this. The highway that runs through town was renamed "The Yellow BrickRoad". There is an Oz Museum with a collection of memorabilia related to the book and movie. There is a restaraunt in town called Toto's Tacoz. Tracy will not be going anywhere near "Flying Monkey Business" because the flying monkeys in Wizard Of Oz creep her out. But she is excited about the free tastings at the Oz Winery, which offers wines named "Witch In A Ditch" and "Run Toto Run".

I may have to go back for a visit in October for "Oztoberfest"........a celebration which features cameo appearances by some of the original Munchkins from the movie. Considering the movie came out in 1939, those Munchkins have to be in their 80s and 90s. I am not sure what the life expectency of a Munchkin is, but that is impressive. Of course, given my experience with midgets (read ), I may want to be careful. Not sure I am up for being groped by a Munchkin!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Grandpa Younge

I have been struggling for about a week about what to write about the passing of my Grandfather. I had been gathering notes and thoughts for some time. I began over a month ago when it first appeared that his mounting health ailments would be the kind from which you don't "get better".

I kept taking out the pad and looking at it. To anyone else, the words on the page would mean nothing. Each line had just one or two words to remind me of some memory tied to my Grandfather. As the list grew, I drew on memories I cherish but think about infrequently. So this process is one more thing to thank him for.

As I dawdled, one of my cousins beat me to it and posted her own list. She had many things I had not thought of for a very long time (like the storage closet underneath the stairs at the old house where they kept the preserves and "sody pop"). I still want to post my list because making the list was a wonderful trip down memory lane. Because I am older, I have memories that predate some of my cousins. I hope others will enjoy my list as much as I did hers:

*Please note.....some of these memories date back almost 40 years. If I have a details wrong, it is just passage of time making things hazy. Even if the details are wrong, the feelings are genuine.

"Helping" him clean the pool at the resort:
(probably my first real memory of him). I don't remember a lot about the resort, but this is the earliest I can remember. The memories are hazy, but I remember the cabins, the pool, fishing and playing horse shoes.

"Dressy or Sporty?": It is possible this memory predates the resort, but I am not sure. I remember this running gag between my Grandfather and I dating back to when he and Grandma came to visit us about the time Laura was born. I would have been about 4, and we were going to go to church. I am not sure how it started, but "dressy" meant we wore a tie, and "sporty" meant no tie. For years when we got ready to go somewhere together, I would ask him "dressy or sporty". That also might be the trip where we spotted a mountain lion out our back window. Mom has a picture of Grandpa and me looking through binoculars together.

His pet poodle: I never understood why he never got another dog. He claimed he did not really like dogs, but he adored Snoopy.

The House on DD: I don't know what you call that color, but there was no other house painted that color I have ever seen. Coming around that corner and seeing that house on the hill was always exciting when I was a kid. Many of my memories of Grandpa are tied to that house. The pool table, the grandfather clock, the carpet. I even remember how it smelled. I remember going to "the park" and playing croquet, and doing sparklers and bottle rockets. I also remember how proud I was that grandpa let me mow the yard on his riding mower. I knew that him letting me do it meant he trusted me, and I knew that was something he did not give lightly.

The Sun Room: I remember the house before and after the Sun Room. I remember him talking about it, planning it, building it and decorating it. I remember the furniture, and the wood burning stove. My biggest memory of the sun room was a sad looking ceramic dog he named "Samson". We were with him when he bought it, and as I recall we had to go back to the store to get it because he regretted not getting it the first time we saw it. You will all be happy to know that Samson is still alive and as hungry looking as ever at my parents' house in Lawton. I hope to inherit Samson back off Laura!

Visits From Grandma & Grandpa: We rarely lived close to my Grandparents when I was growing up. Their visits, whether for Christmas or other time of the year were always special. Of special note was the year they spent with us in Georgia during my senior year of high school while my Dad was in Korea. They brought their trailer and lived across town, but they were always close by and I got to know them both very well that year. They were very active while they were there. They took dance lessons, came to many of my ballgames and attended my graduation. They even learned to golf, and Grandpa and I played quite a bit together.

The Cars and Trailers: I remember the old blue pickup, the Volkswagen Rabbit he was so excited about (it took diesel fuel!), the trailer at the ranch, and the trailer they used to pull around the country. Grandpa loved to travel and I am sure much of my love of travel comes from stories of his trips.

Grandpa's Fashions: My main memory of him is in some kind of shirt with a collar......even with shorts. I did see him in white T shirts when he was working outside. Oh...and the socks. Dark socks with sandals at the ranch. Although it was far from typical, my personal favorite was the year he came home from Quartzite Arizona sporting a pair of really loud pair of casual pants he bought at the market there....much like pajama bottoms. I seem to recall them being black and hot pink. Another favorite was the white patent leather shoes and blue suit he wore to our wedding. He looked sharp!

The Cloud Nine Ranch: i loved the ranch. I even chose it as the place to propose to Tracy. Later on the Ranch became a special place for Whitney and my Mom to spend some summer vacation time. By doing so, she was able to develop her own special ties to Grandpa, Aunt Kathy and Aunt Michelle. As she used to say: "it is like I have 3 Grandmas there!"

The Paintings: When people come to our house, they always ask who painted the pictures. I always tell them with pride that the artist was my Grandfather. I always smile at this because grandpa always insisted he was not good enough to be called an "artist"...."I am a painter", he would say. Whatever, Grandpa. His paintings have always, and will always, have a place in my home.

Food: Grandpa and I found common ground in food and recipes. After I got married, we exchanged many recipes and cooked together. To this day, two of our most asked for recipes from our friends are Grandpa's salsa and guacamole recipes.

Family Gatherings: The biggest thing I remember about Grandpa is that for all his occasional gruffness, no man loved his family more than he did. I remember family gatherings at the house fondly. I also remember both their 45th and 50th Anniversary Celebrations in Wamego and the way the loved each other even as they
teased one another about whether Grandma would say "yes" this time. I remember thinking that was what I wanted in a marriage.

Dancing With Whitney: My lasting image of him is dancing with Whitney at Janet and Angela's wedding. It is a moment that is very special to me.
I knew how much he loved dancing and that he and Grandma had taken lessons together. It was wonderful watching him dance with Whitney as I had seen him dance with my Grandmother.

These are just some of the things i remember. I am sorry it was so long, but I wanted to do him justice. I hope he and Grandma understood what a legacy they had left behind.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Empty House

Whitney's ability to drive herself to evening activities is both a blessing and a curse. Last night there were basketball games followed by dance class, so she was gone all evening. It is nice that we are no longer "Mom and Dad's Taxi Service".

The downside is what we knew all along.....if not for driving her around, we don't have any idea of what to do with our time.

I know that sounds great to some of you who are over-extended and need a break, but we are not one of those couples. I work alone at home and have more hours alone than anyone not named "The Unabomber" should have as it is. We stopped at one kid, so it is not like our house was constant chaos as it was. There is no alternative for something to do if she is self sufficient. We have no real outside interests or large circle of friends that have us doing things. It is like the "Empty Nest Syndrome" is starting early.

Apparently, we need to get a life. Anyone have a spare one we can borrow?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Whitney Driving

As many of you know by now, Whitney is now a fully licensed driver. I had been dreading this for quite some time. This is not because she isn't a good driver. Far from it drives just like she does everything in her life.....with obsessive attention to detail and a desire for perfection. This made teaching her frustrating at times because she insisted on doing things over and over again until she did them perfectly.

But recent months had me pondering a question:

How in the heck does any parent give a 16 year old the car keys and let them go off alone without passing out from stress?????!!!!!!

Heredity plays a part in my concern. Our family has had some unique experiences driving. Her grandpa once broke his neck by flipping over in a car. He also somehow managed to roll off a cliff in a car.....while sleeping in the backseat. Her Aunt Laura hit Dad's truck in the driveway while backing out in another car, and got a ticket on the way to telling him about it. As I recall, this was the day she got her license. Do I have that correct?

I had my own bouts of stupidity. The biggest one was probably driving off a gravel road in Georgia in the middle of nowhere and somehow knocking not one, not two, but three tires off the rims. I am not sure what the record is for my making my father REALLY REALLY angry......but this might have been it. Of course part of that is I was not where I told them I was going to be.....a BIG no no. I followed that up by missing a stop sign and getting hit in the side just a few days before leaving Georgia. I wish I could claim it was all just reckless youth, but a few years ago I pulled another when I dropped a big gulp in my lap pulling out of the driveway and drove into my neighbor's mailbox.

I am sure there were other near misses where only the grace of God and good luck allowed me to escape. I am sure there were other stupid things I did that I got away with, but my memory has faded a bit. Well, that and I need to check if the statute of limitations has worn off.

Anyway.....back to Whitney:

We started slow just hours after she got her license. Since it is a "family tradition" (meaning my Dad did it to me), the first thing she did alone was run up to the nearest convenience store to fill up my car with gas. That went well (meaning neither Tracy or I ran down the street crying trying to grab the rear bumper as she drove away). Later that evening, we let her drive back and forth to her dance class across town. Tracy had her call when she got there, and when she left to come home. At least this way our moments of high stress were limited to the 15 minutes each way she was alone actually driving.

One night of parental worry down........a lifetime more to go.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mafia Wars

I am only 24 hours into my Facebook experience, and I am facing my first dilemma. I have been invited to join not one, but two mafia families. Apparently the world of Facebook has it's own underworld. Who knew?

The bigger surprise was who the offers came from. Apparently my wife Tracy and sister Laura are parts of warring crime families. This should make the next family reunion very interesting.

Tracy is telling me she is working hard to become a "Don", or Godfather. I probably should have seen it coming. I just missed the signs. So to help you out, I offer:

"Signs You Wife May Be A Mafia Boss"
(This will make sense if you have watched The Godfather and Sopranos)

-When friends come over to the house they insist on kissing her ring.

-Everytime I want to talk, she insists we go to the basement and talk near the washing machine because the house is "bugged" (and we don't even have a basement).

-She keeps referring to the girls in her office as her "Captains".

-She freaks out every time Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is played on the jukebox.

-She has taken to calling her brother "Fredo". (I am worried for him.....she recently asked me if I knew where to get a fishing boat)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Facebook Dilemma

My wife Tracy recently joined Facebook and has really enjoyed it. She is not alone, as it seems that everyone I know has one and REALLY wants me to join. Apparently they get a commission every time someone else starts a page. It is obviously one giant pyramid scheme. Kind of like Amway without the cleaning supplies.

So I have been weighing the pros and cons of whether to start a Facebook page. Here is what I came up with in the sleepless night after promising my cousin and sister I would do it.

Pro: It is good to try new things and keep up with current social trends.
Con: I have made it a basic rule to take up nothing that is in fashion amongst my teenage daughter's demographic. This is one reason I never had a Myspace page. It is also why I don't read the Twilight books, watch Gosisp Girls or own a pair of Uggs.

Luckily, I have been informed Facebook is now officially "uncool" because so many parents are doing it. This apparently makes it perfect for me.

Pro: It would allow me to find people I have not seen in years and for them to find me.
Con: It would allow me to find people I have not seen in years and for them to find me.

Pro: Things like picture tagging make it easier to see what family and friends are up to.
Con: It would make it harder to hide my secret double life as a male exotic dancer.

Pro: The "Status Message" would allow me to broadcast to the world what I am doing or thinking at any given time.
Con: Isn't this blog enough proof of how little the world really needs to know about what goes on in my mind?

Pro: People will get to see how many friends I have by the number of people who join my "friends list".
Con: The humiliation when people see just how few people like me. I am not a people person. I am a dog person. Sadly, most dogs use Myspace rather than Facebook.

In the end, I have decided to do it. I will do it because I have enjoyed looking at Tracy's and seeing the thoughts and pictures of family and friends who I do not see near as much as I would like. It allows me to feel closer to them, and that is always a good thing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life In Tornado Alley

Nothing quite gets your intention in Oklahoma like the following words. "There is a tornado heading right for us". But that is what I heard at about 2:30 yesterday afternoon.

I had stopped in a local watering hole on the west side of Oklahoma City after dropping off some work to a customer. I was was talking to the waitress when her cellphone went off with a text message alerting us to the weather.

I had seen some dark clouds out to the west when I stopped in but thought nothing of it.....heck, we have at least 2 months before the official start of storm season. But storm season decided to start early this year. Hard to believe that just 2 weeks ago we had an ice storm that had us unable to get out of our neighborhood for two days.

As the bartender tried to figure out how to turn the TV to news, I called Tracy to see if she knew anything. You would think that someone who has an office right next door to the top storm weather experts in the world would have the inside scoop....but she had been on a conference call and knew nothing about it. She pulled up the information about the time the TV came on showing the radar. There was a wall cloud about 2 or 3 miles west of us and moving northeast

Here is when you know you have lived in tornado alley far to long: I was looking at a TV screen showing a possible tornado nearby as tornado sirens were going off.....but relaxed knowing it would miss us by at least a couple miles.

I know 2 miles does not sound like much, but we have the best weather people in the country, and I knew that I was safe where I was. I also knew it was nowhere near our home 20 miles southeast of there, so had no worries for Tracy or Whitney. I did decide to leave about 15 minutes later before the next round was set to hit. As I left the tornado sirens began going off again as another one formed in that same spot a few miles away.

After getting home, there were reports that the first tornado had touched down about 4 miles north of me and then again a little while later. Both were areas I had just been in while making deliveries and there was quite a bit of damage. Needless to say, I was glad my favorite watering hole was not up there.

The funny thing is, you would think that dodging two tornadoes would be enough danger for one day.....but it wasn't. On the drive home I had a car run a stop sign right in front of me while driving 45 miles an hour, and I had to swerve into the grass to avoid being hit. Luckily, there was no damage to either of us. Would be just my luck to avoid tornadoes just to get done in by a bad driver 5 miles away.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Doomsday Punishment

I am reluctant to give any kind of parenting advice. What works on one kid might not work on another. I believe in using what works. But I have one tip I readily share: The key to discipline is to have a creative punishment that your kid fears so much that they never risk it being used.

We have one such punishment in our family.

It all began when Whitney was in junior high. She wanted to go to a dance at the school and she used the fact that parents of two of her friends at the time were going to be chaperons as a selling point. I probably would have let her go anyway, but knowing the parents who were chaperoning the dance was a comfort. We told her she could go.

I joked that I could chaperone as well. Of course, I had no intention of doing so. In fact I can think of very few things I want to do LESS than chaperoning a gym full of hormonally charged 7th & 8th graders. But it was quickly evident from Whitney's reaction that she did not KNOW I was kidding. Her reaction was a mix of horror and consternation. So naturally, I teased her about it some more.

Somewhere in the middle of the teasing it dawned on me that I had stumbled on a perfect "doomsday" punishment:

Should Whitney ever really mess up, she knows that I will volunteer to chaperon a school dance. I will wear a bright fluorescent orange T shirt that says "Whitney's Dad" so the whole school knows who my kid is. Best of all, I will get out in the middle of the floor and dance.......with lots of flamboyance creativity. Oh, and did I mention I also plan to sing along with the songs while I am dancing? I imagine I will be quite the sensation in that bright orange T Shirt with my daughter's name on it. I bet it would be the talk of the school for weeks to come!

So far, the "doomsday punishment" has never been implemented....but it is comforting to know it is there if we need it. The driving and dating years are about to begin. I will keep you posted.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Next Cup

For those of you who tease me about the huge cups I drink from......a man after my own heart.

Now if 7-Eleven would just get Coke Zero.

Friday, January 23, 2009

My New Skill

I recently acquired a totally useless new skill.....I can rip a phone book in half with my bare hands. I have done it a few times for others and people seem to get a kick out of it.

Of course, this skill has very little real world application....or so I thought at first.

As the father of a 16 year old daughter, I will soon have boys showing up for date nights. My idea is to have Tracy or Whitney open the door when her date arrives, while I stand in the background ripping phone books in half.

My guess is these young men will gain a much deeper appreciation of words like "curfew", "abstinence" and "pain".

Friday, January 16, 2009

Disney Tip #2

Take pictures with characters to humor your kids.

Nobody hates having their picture more than me, but how could I refuse a picture with Eeyore when Whitney insisted (Please ignore my gum).

There is an exception to this rule: "Dad" pictures with characters should be limited to the animal characters. Getting your picture alone with one of the princesses is creepy.

Disney World is not a place to let your libido out. Regardless of what delusions you might have, Cinderella did not flirt with you as she rode by on the float . She smiles and waves at everyone (yes, that is my head). And I don't care if Ariel is a cute redhead with a sea shell bikini.....she is still a childrens' cartoon character.

Please note: Jessica Rabbit is not a princess, and thus is exempt from this rule.
Sadly, there were no live sightings of her on this trip.

Disney Tip #1

If you don't have a little kid, find a cute little kid, live vicariously through others!

There is nothing like a kid about 5 years old with a Disney character. The way I explain it was that we went twice when Whitney was little: When she was in kindergarten, it WAS Cinderella and Minnie Mouse. When she was in the second grade it was still fun, but it was a guy in a mouse suit.

One of the highlights of this trip for all three of us was watching the little kids.
Our favorite "adoptee" was an adorable little Snow White we met on our long walk to breakfast with the Princesses Christmas morning at Epcot. This little girl literally danced the whole way there. Although Snow White did not show at the breakfast, we helped her find Snow White after breakfast. It was SO cute and she was so excited (that is her with Snow White). Reminded me of how excited Whitney was to meet Cinderella when she was 5.

The other picture is of a little girl in the Norway Shop. I messed the picture up and cut off what she was holding in her hand....a Viking axe. I thought the combo of the cute kid, Snow white outfit, reindeer ears and axe was great.

The princess dresses were a big thing this trip. Hundreds of little girls walking around dressed as Cinderella, Snow White and Belle. Luckily, that was not the case when Whitney was little, so we avoided that peer pressure and expense.

A big thank you to the kids that helped make this trip fun, and to the parents who allowed us to take the pictures.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reality TV = Mushy Brain

Tracy here. I'm afraid that reality tv has sucked in my brain and made it mushy. I had avoided them for quite awhile and then I decided that The Amazing Race would help Whitney learn geography. I swore I wouldn't watch all of the Fear Factor/Survivor type of shows. Well I should have known better. Pretty soon others followed like Project Runway and Top Chef. Those aren't too bad but of course it couldn't stop there. The latest bad one on is Redneck Wedding on CMT. Oh my goodness. It's hard to believe that these are real people. For those of you who are smart and don't watch it, it is a couple who are getting married but they are the biggest rednecks you can imagine. Wedding dresses that are bedazzled with the groom's name or even worse, duct tape to keep a dress together in the back because the bride is too large for it. Instead of cutting the cake, they mud dive and ride off into the sunset on matching 4 wheelers. Of course, I'm only making things worse by watching. If people didn't watch them, then they wouldn't make shows like this. So I guess I'm responsible for the dumbing down of America and the mushy brain syndrome.

I stand before you with head lowered hoping you forgive me for ruinng America's youth.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Missing In Action

Work has been crazy, and I have been suffering a little writer's block. I have plenty of ideas, but nothing is coming together. My intention of this blog was never a day by day account of our lives, but as an outlet for some storytelling and creative writing. I have not been feeling "creative".

I still need to post on Disney, but a smooth trip makes for boring blogging. I am so much happier as a writer when odd things happen! Also have a good story about me and a very friendly senior citizen at a fundraising dinner.

Anyway, I hope to get back to it by this weekend.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Disney Hats and Ears

Tracy here again to show you the many hats/ears of Disney. This is just a small sample of what you can find at Disney World.

Whitney bought both of these.

The silver sparkle Minnie for her very special occasions.

The fairy princess.

The Sorcerer Mickey

Steamboat Mickey

The Bride

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Disney Road Trip

Before doing Disney World…..we had to get there. This meant about 20 hours in the car each way. So before we get to Disney, here is a mix of tidbits from 40 hours in the car with Tracy and Whitney:

- As we near Texas we see a billboard for Fantasy Tattoos. They are offering 2 tattoos for the price of one! The girls decline my offer to get them matching Disney Princess Tattoos.

- East Texas: whoever drives chooses what we listen to. It is obviously Tracy’s turn to drive because the early morning listening choice of the historical book Team Of Rivals on CD has been replaced with music. I curl up in back seat and catnap. I wake up to Tracy and Whitney singing and dancing along to Hollaback Girl and Fergalicious. There appears to be a double standard because when I sit up in the back seat and start dancing along to the music, Whitney gives me a look like I have overstepped the bounds of what a dad is allowed to do in public, and says “Dad, No”.

- When did I inherit the bladder of a 4 year old? It is stunning how fast I go from “I kind of need to go” to “I REALLY NEED TO GO”. My bladder appears to be powered by jet propulsion.

- Best town name of the trip: Sopchoppy

- Creepiest cemetery….EVER: Apalachicola Florida. I love old cemeteries for the history. I could not care less about the spooky part of it. But dusk, gulf coast fog, spanish moss hanging from trees and crypts with gaping holes in them have this as the last place I would ever want to spend Halloween night.

- Really…..this bladder thing is getting embarrassing. I dance around in my seat as we drive through Mississippi…..and Fergalicious isn’t even playing.

- In a town in rural Mississippi we passed a strip mall with a sign on it that said: “Birdcages: we can meet all your birdcage needs”. Is there enough demand in Mississippi for Birdcages to make a career of it? Wow.

- Something you don’t hear in Oklahoma: I asked a lady at a truck stop in Louisiana where I could find key chains……she told me “go over to that wall and turn right at the dried up alligator heads”.

Think that about wraps it up. All in all, it was a fairly uneventful drive. We did get off the interstate drive along the coast of the Florida panhandle and walked along the beach. Next up: Disney!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chocolate Fountain Redux

I have re-posted the chocolate fountain story for those who missed it. You will find it below in its original spot. I appreciate the kind words and feedback. I plan to get busy on several blogs about Disney World in the next couple days. Topics include Disney Do's and Don'ts, Disney Fashion Faux Pas, and how Tracy and Whitney ruined my quest for immortality at Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf.

As a recap.....the chocolate fountain was a big hit at the new year's eve party.
Best of all, I did not ruin a single piece of clothing during the evening. Thanks for the great gift Teri!!!!!

The fountain came with recipes other than chocolate you can do, so we are thinking about turning it into a nacho cheese fountain for the BCS Championship Game on Thursday night. Can't wait to see what my jacket looks like covered in cheese sauce!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Blog Takeover

This is Tracy and Whitney taking over Dan's blog since he has been slow to post. We wanted everyone to know the fun we had at Disney World. So here's a few photos we took. We are sure that Dan will post the funny stories he has so we'll just entertain you with photos. Five days at Disney World is like running a marathon. Lots of people, sometimes you swim up stream, sometimes you get cut off, but in the end you have a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment.
We recommend that everyone go enjoy the magic at least once in their life. We've been three times as a family and each time is different.

Breakfast with Disney Princesses for Christmas
Whitney is in her special Sleeping Beauty crown

We have lots of other photos but this gives you a taste of what we did during our vacation. Don't worry, we had a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the hotel room and Santa Claus found us too.