Given that the Democratic National Convention was this week, the majority of the stuff I read on blogs or saw on Twitter naturally dealt with people's personal perspectives on the upcoming election. A great deal were insightful. Some were funny, while others were proof of that old axiom stating, "It's better to say nothing and let people think you a fool, than to blog about it and remove all doubt."

Personally, there's not much I am permitted to say about the elections. Why? Because I don't vote. To some, that fact may make me as reprehensible as a flag burner or possibly a necrophiliac, but before you judge me, know this. In not voting, I recognize the fact I have conceded my voice on the matter. I think the current president is likely the most disappointing since Nixon or Carter, but I don't run around with "Bush Sucks" (he does, you know) scrawled on my minivan, given that I failed to participate in either election where he won. Like they say, "If you don't like something, change it." I didn't, so no witty bumper stickers for me.

One reason I don't vote is that I've become very cynical about politics and our federal government. It's just posturing with no sincere concern for the little people, unless, of course you're a midget lobbyist with billions of dollars behind your cause. Besides, the way I see it, God already knows who's going to win, and so my one little vote isn't going to change his mind. I think it insulting on my part to thumb my nose at the Almighty and centuries of predestination, by trying to make a difference. Maybe there's a reward in heaven for people like me who persevere in practicing their apathy. I really really really want that reward, but then again, whatever. I guess the only subject I am probably more cynical about other than politics is organized religion, so combining the two just makes me want to take a nap.

Do I have educated opinions about John McCain and Barack Obama? Absolutely, but I'm not going to share them here because I don't plan on voting. I'm too busy trying to find a service station with gas under $3.50 a gallon, so I can drive around to find a job that will allow me to pay my $420 electric bill. Once I figure that out, then maybe I'll have the time to sit down and learn where each candidate stands on the issues affecting me. Until then, I'll just keep my mouth shut and post links to other peoples' thoughts on the matter who actually intend to vote. Reading them almost made me want to go register.

Neil Kramer at Citizen of the Month writes very poignantly as to how bloggers can influence independent voters who are undecided. Although he's advocating Obama, his arguments are less than arbitrary and I respect that.

Blue Like Jazz author, Donald Miller, who delivered the benediction at the DNC, shared on his blog, the recent email exchanges he had with Obama this week.

Rude Cactus and Daddy's Toolbox have both decided to get involved in the election, but each in their own special way. One is going to be President of Bitterland while the other is looking for a running mate in his bid as an independent.

Shifting to the economy, Discovering Dad posted a great piece asking How Have Economic Pressures Affected Your Home while providing some very practical solutions in making adjustments to your personal finances.

Do your children have food allergies? One of my boys and one of my stepdaughters have severe reactions to peanuts so being cautious at the grocery store or in a restaurant is critical. It can be very frustrating at times dealing with the inconsistencies of warning labels provided by manufacturers, but that could change according to this report.

Speaking of food. I'm sure you've seen the blog Cake Wrecks, but this post, well, it takes the cake (no pun intended).

Finally, I have no idea why I'm posting these except that they generally sum up my attitude toward PETA and unionized labor.

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!


Interpretation Please?

I have often thought of getting my hands on one of those dream interpretation books that alphabetically lists the common elements of our dreams and what they could possibly symbolize. Although I don't necessarily subscribe to the mystical or prominently display Dream Catchers from the rear-view mirror of the minivan, I am convinced of their psychological significance.

During a darker period of my life, I finally broke down, admitting to myself that I needed counseling. A good shrink is hard to find right off the bat, and it's imperative you begin with one you are comfortable with, otherwise, it's likely you'll never go back. I must warn you against my method for making such crucial decisions. Closing your eyes, raising your hand in the air, and then going with whatever selection your finger happens to land on.

That said, I will also say, for as unscientific as this method may sound, it's always worked out pretty well for me, and my choice for a counselor was no exception. Along with being a good listener (imagine that), and astutely insightful, my counselor used dream journals effectively. He first asked me to write down my dreams over the course of a month for later discussion. I thought it a little hokey, but when we began talking about the images and details I was instantly fascinated with the creative antics of my subconscious.

For example, a dream about my ride in a skyscraper's elevator that wouldn't stop at the top floor, but instead shoots straight through the roof actually symbolized the sexual frustration of my first marriage. And that one about punching my old boss who was wearing a black uni-tard and offering me a cup of tea from a sterling silver platter represented my distrust of management despite the success I was enjoying while working there. Hmmm?

It made sense to me, and besides, it's better than being crazy. After a while I got to where I could pick out things on my own, and even provide analysis for some of my friends from time to time. Usually, I wasn't too far off either. I learned to pay attention to my dreams and look out for warning signs that might indicate some form of unhealthiness in my life.

So, when I had this dream the other night I was completely at a loss for what it was telling me, and I wished I had one of the those books to figure it out.

First, I find myself on a senior citizen's country retreat exclusively for women - and yes, I'm pretty sure I was a white-haired, old lady who was peddling a bike down a scenic trail with the other grandmas, thankful my Depends undergarment provided some additional padding to my posterior for the long ride.

Suddenly, and without a star-wipe, or fade-out/fade-in graphic transition effect, I am at my parents' house engaged in mortal combat with Sylar, the main villain from the NBC television show, Heroes. We both are using our special powers to pummel the other until Sylar diffuses through the floor of mom and dad's bedroom escaping into the basement. I follow, but he's gone. I walk outside and right into another sequence.

I'm on tour with Jeff Foxworthy and we're on stage in some honky-tonk, God only knows where. Once we finish our set together, I take my place as a back-up singer for the country band, Diamond Rio (people, I haven't listen to country music, on purpose anyway, for over six years, so, like, what the...). The band and I put on a rousing performance and it's time for me to walk off the stage. I'm now supposed to meet some overweight Texas oil barron and his big-haired wife and sweet daughter at the bar. When I look down to see where I'm walking I realize I'm dressed like Col. Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.

While I'm trying to find the number to my old shrink, I am completely open to your interpretations no matter how wild they may be. Or if you'd like, I invite you to share one of your own.


Holy Crap! How'd That Happen

Have you ever taken a long trip somewhere and thought to yourself you'd never get there? The hours would drag and the miles seemed to count down one at a time, yet, odd as it might seem, you ended up at your destination with hardly any recollection of how it happened.

That was me, so to speak, last night as I started printing pages off for the book or essays I had planned to write. At first I looked at it and felt slightly depressed over the site of only a few pages; however, one ream of paper and 45 minutes later I actually had what appears to be my first draft, ready for editing (make that heavy editing, but editing of a draft nonetheless). I was so excited I missed dinner, and bounced around the house giving everyone high-fives.

Aside from the editing, adding a couple more pieces and hopefully finding an agent (any suggestions?), I'm 80% done and didn't even know it. It's like having a million dollar lottery ticket and not finding out till the last minute.


Tonight On Masterpiece Theater...

One of my favorite authors is David Sedaris who just released a new book When You Are Engulfed In Flames which has been a NY Times Best Seller since going on sale. If you've not familiar with his work, here's a short clip of him reading one of his essays on Letterman.

Although I don't think there is anything offensive in the clip, you may not want to play it for anyone with a strict, Victorian upbringing.


Death To Oopsy

I'm not a big fan of Care Bears. No - allow me to rephrase that sentiment. I hate Care Bears. All those rainbows, and the cuteness and the hugging. It's a world, I believe, the politically vocal, Hollywood A-listers imagine occurring in the event the candidate they are stumping for is elected President. Housing crisis in America? We need Share Bear to get those mean 'ol lenders to share their money with those poor people who in no way should be buying a home. Economy down the tubes and you're out of work? I know! Cheer Bear will help make you feel all better with her happy slogans and optimistic vision of an uncertain future. Oh, and that terrible war in the Middle East? If we deploy Funshine Bear into action, those radical fundamentalists will be sure to stop be-heading American infidels once they see how much more fun playing games can be instead. Funshine my left eyeball.

As I'm saying all of this, you should know, my stepdaughter Avery has a love of Care Bears bordering on the psychotic. There's not a one she doesn't own, not a cartoon she hasn't seen, and still she can't get enough of them. My understanding of the original intent behind the Care Bears (besides bilking millions of dollars from parents who want to buy their kid's love) was that they were to help children understand and express certain emotions constructively. I think the experiment failed horribly and my stepdaughter is all the proof one would need to agree with me.

Cast of Characters
Take Share Bear for example, whose purpose is to teach kids about, what else, sharing. For Avery, however, it means something else entirely. Should another child happens to pick up one of Avery's toys, Avery will use Share Bear to pummel the ever-loving sheet-cake out of that poor kid until said toy is back in her possession.

Then there's Funshine Bear who, as mentioned before, likes to play games and clown around with his fellow Care Bear chums. To Avery, somehow these "funshine games" have come to be interpreted as cruel pranks like screaming "WAAAAAAAAAAKE UP!" directly into her napping stepdad's ear or offering her older sister a cup of "fart water" (you can figure it out on your own as I'm not going to give it the dignity of describing it) as they play together during their evening bath.

At the very least I thought I could identify with Grumpy Bear, given his gruff demeanor that hides his underlying heart of gold as he is described in his profile on the official web site. That's not to be the case either as Avery explained how Grumpy Bear taught her how to express displeasure towards adults who don't let her have her way by "flipping them the bird."

Birthday & The Bear
With these examples and many more like them I expressed my deep opposition to giving Avery a Care Bear-themed party for her fifth birthday.

"Oh, you're just being a big ol' Poo Poo Bear," my wife said. "Somebody needs a little hug from a Sexy Momma Bear." And before I knew it she had her arms around me and was making suggestive growling noises in my ear. The gesture did soften my stance on the matter, but not enough for me to let go of my distaste for the furry little bastards especially given the fact Avery had secretly been listening to my tirade and stepped out from behind the corner long enough for only me to see her standing their, right arm extended in my direction emphatically displaying a "Grumpy Bear."

Avery's party went down as planned, and I held my peace so as to not ruin the experience for her. That quite nearly was not the case upon the entrance of the party's main attraction, a real live, walking, mumbling, yellow Care Bear with the image of a cupcake adorning his belly. For us adults it was just some poor teenager making some scratch by parading around for a few minutes in a stuffed costume, but to Avery, the god of all Care Bear land just magically landed two feet from where she was wiping chocolate marble cake from her mug.

The second she locked eyes on that Care Bear, her pupils glazed over and I kid you not, I saw an image of the earth erupting with a billowing mushroom cloud in their reflection. I shudder to think of the horror and destruction behind her eyes as she stood there imagining the possibilities in having a six-foot Care Bear under her control to carry out her bidding.

Of all the cute and cuddly Care Bears in all time and space, the one I despise the most is Oopsy Bear. Oopsy, I supposed, is meant to make kids feel better about awkward moment they might experience in life, but because I wasn't too sure, I checked his profile on line which gave the following description:

Oopsy Bear is very eager to help, but is a bit clumsy. So he's always saying 'Oopsie!' But his friends love him just the way he is. He's also special - he can draw his own belly badge to express how he's feeling.

This was disappointing to me. I didn't like the expectation this set for kids in facing their own screw-ups later on in life. For some reason I kept picturing some oaf of a frat boy who just found out that the girl he got drunk and slept with at the last keg party was his twin sister separated from him at birth, but since he grew up with an Oospy Bear, no one will need therapy and everyone would still accept him because, hey, these things happen. Oopsie!

As the great Care Bear gods would have it, Avery received, not one, but two of these damnable bears, and it hasn't taken long for her to take on the namesake's associated traits. To Avery, who is not only so cute she makes puppies look like yapping, cancerous tumors, but also so clumsy she trips over the cracks in linoleum, the idea of marrying these two traits into the form of a huggable stuffed animal was a message from heaven signifying her purpose in life.

Who's An Oospy Bear?
Now Avery fills the hours by intentionally making mistakes and having accidents. As I cleaned up a trail of soggy cereal that laid a path from the table to the sink, I asked Avery why she had made such a big mess.

"Because I'm Oospy," she said shrugging her shoulders and grinning adorably. "When I make a mess, you should call me Oospy."

I didn't get what was going on at first, but had I figured it out I would have nipped it in the bud right then and there. Instead, my time was taken up moving from one little mess to another. Half-eaten ice cream sandwich melting on the couch cushions. Oopsie! Doll clothes flushed down the toilet causing it to stop up. Oopsie! The freshly minted turd of a 5 year-old laying sweetly on the stairs. Oopsie!

Finally, I had enough as I watched Avery turn her full cup of milk upside down at lunch. "Avery! That is it!" I growled.

She looked at me with one of those sneering smiles you see the evil TV lawyers flash when they've just made one of those assertions that paints the innocent victim to look like a fool, thus virtually guaranteeing the acquittal of their guilty client. "But I'm Oopsy and when Oopsy makes messes you can'ts not love me no more."

In her mind it was like diplomatic immunity. She could spill, dump or defile anything she wanted and no one could be mad at her because that's just who she is, and she has the Oospy Bear - no, two Oopsy Bears to prove it. It was at this point, I spent the next ten minutes rebutting her argument with an explanation that goofing up once in a while is fine, but doing your best to impersonate the recent recipient of a full, frontal lobotomy would probably land her in a lab somewhere with people poking at her with long, sharp needles for the rest of her life.

"And because I love you so much and I don't want this to happen to you," I continued. "I'm going to take away your Oopsy Bears every time you make a mess on purpose."

"But you can'ts do that," Avery said, her eyes still a little wide from the thought of the needs.

"And why not?"

"Because mommy put them in trash bags to clean them in the washer," she replied.

Trash bags? I thought. Didn't I just take a few extra sacks out to the dumpster this morning? Oopsie!



This week my oldest got pink-eye during his first, full week of school. When I asked him how he was doing he said all was good.

"Do you have to wear an eye-patch or glasses?" I teased.

"Dad," he shot back, "It's the 21st Century, they have eye drops for these sorts of things."

And so they do.

This is a pretty short inbox to make up for a few of the massive posts put out this week on the Lunchbox. A couple notes of gratitude to Jeremy at Discovering Dad for having my guest post on his site, to Tara at From Dawn Till Rusk for mentioning the Lunchbox - she has a great site to read - and to Aimee at Greeblemonkey for hosting a cool photo contest (oh, ya, and I was a finalist). Here's a few other posts and articles from the week.

Dad Gone Mad's version of play of forward.

DadCentric's review of the new Star Wars Movie

One of my recent favorites has become Citizen of the Month. Read his story of when he became a writer and have a chuckle.

Then there was this appalling article questioning the identity of Superman courtesy of Christ and Pop Culture.

And finally, I leave you with a wedding that will ensure you never see a Waffle House the same again.

Have a great weekend. Thanks.

UPDATE ON THE PHOTO CONTEST... I WON! Thanks for the votes! Check out the site - click below.


Part 2 To The Look Of... Pretentiousness

Put Them On
I had pretty much given up on the idea of glasses until I met Ashley. You know you've found your soulmate when, while walking hand-in-hand through a crowded mall, you are both stopped dead in your tracks at the sight of kiosk vendor selling designer brand, knock-off, eyewear at $24.99 for two pairs, and, they are absolutely fake. I believe it took all of 3.5 seconds for us to pick out ones that we each liked and fork over the cash.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive to put them on and wear them around the mall. Typically, I would take them home first, and walk around the apartment until I had gotten used to them. I needed to work out my eyewear mannerisms like taking them off and putting them back on again. Do I use one hand, or two? And when I readjust them do I pull them part way off and then slide them back on? Or would pushing them back with one finger right above the bridge be fine? Believe it or not, these are important considerations in convincing a more than casual observer that your eyewear is completely authentic.

Ashley, however, encouraged me to do otherwise. "You look hot." She said it as if it were an actual arguable point of logic rather than a subjective description. If a senator were to ask for your vote because he was “hot” (regardless of whether he may or may not be) it’s certainly not a criterion on which to base a major decision. “Oh, just put them on,” she finally said.

I noticed, however, that she was placing her pair in her purse. “What about you? Aren’t you going to put yours on with me?”

“What? No!” She looked as if I had asked her to change her shirt right there in front of God and everybody. “I can’t just put on glasses and walk around like I’ve always had them. I still haven’t worked out all my mannerisms yet.”

Finally, we gathered up enough nerve to just do it, as if we were some sort of narcissistic version of Thelma and Louise running away from our past lives through fashion accessories sold next door to Taco Bell in the nearby food court. Indeed I, uh, we looked hot.

These glasses could not have been more perfect. With stylish rectangular, mocha frames that were just the right thickness and width to highlight my eyes and accentuate my facial features without making me look like a raccoon. They were the sort of glasses a man could wear and unabashedly declare that they read Playboy solely for the articles, and no one would think to question the authenticity of his statement. Putting them on instantly gave me an air of elegance that only "Prida" is famous for. I only wished I had an equally impressive “Rolax” watch to compliment them with.

Ashley’s pair was equally fashionable, having a similar effect on her appearance. We looked like that couple. The one living near the university in that adorable townhome on the street where all the trees form a cozy canopy of foliage each fall while the city skyline looks down on them fondly from above as they walk home carrying a canvas bag containing that evening’s dinner which they just purchased from the corner grocery. The ones sitting in the cafĂ© on Saturday morning drinking coffee and bantering over the president’s economic policy in Lower Mozambique, while their children quietly sip organic 2% milk from cartons promoting ecological responsibility. The couple who wears turtlenecks, listens to NPR, packs sushi in their children’s lunch and makes them speak French when playing Webkinz. We were the look of pure pretention.

As we shopped, I imagined the check-out clerks making small talk with us as they operated the register. “Ya’ll ain’t from ‘round here are ya?” they would say. To which we would look at each other and smile, flattered that someone was fooled enough by our eyewear that they actually believed we had no logical reason for being in this part of Texas.

Compliments and Confusion
My little fantasy was not far from reality, as we both wore our new specs on a regular basis. Upon coming home from work, Ashley would mention the number of times co-workers commented on her “new look”, or how store clerks now went out of their way to offer assistance in finding such hard to locate items as bread and milk. It happened often enough for Ashley to issue a friendly challenge to see which of us received more attention as a result of our eyewear. However, before she could finish writing our names on the white board, I declined given the fact I stay home with Allie and Avery most of the time and the odds would be weighted in heavily in Ashley’s favor.

To Allie and Avery the concept of fake eyewear seemed a bit confusing. Avery pitched a slight tantrum over not being allowed to wear her princess tiara to the library. “You don’t want to bring your toys to the library,” I explained.

“But you wear fake glasses,” she said through her protruding lower lip. Apparently, in the mind of a 5-year-old, the concept of “fake” holds the same meaning as “toy” and being that we were trying to get out the door I could not come up with an explanation that would shatter the paradigm.

“It’s a grown-up thing,” was the best I could offer. “Now finish up your milk and throw the carton in the recycling bin like Eco the Cow says we should.”

Although comments on my glasses (excluding the children) were few and far between, they were memorable. During a visit to my psychiatrist, I handed him my new business card which sports the likeness of Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent. After examining the card and then glancing up at me several times, he smiled and commented that I looked like the guy on my card. You would have thought I was the head cheerleader being told she was pretty by the high school quarterback the way I turned my head and blushed. “Oh, you’re just saying that.” I said sliding my foot back and forth over the carpet.

Over Our Heads
For all the positive attention our new glasses earned us, Ashley and I were soon about to learn the meaning of that phrase, “be careful what you wish for” while on a weekend trip to Dallas. Prior to our return home, we were to have lunch with friends, but plans fell through giving us some time to kill which we did at the Galleria Mall. There are few retail locations of this size in Texas that are as upscale as the Galleria. It’s where professional athletes, celebrities and the generally well-to-do shop with the same indifference the rest of us would display during a rollback special at Wal-Mart.

Although we did not have a dime to spend and no intention to do so in the first place, Ashley and I felt we could at least play the part under the guise of intellectual superiority provided by our glasses. Our assumption proved true as we sauntered from one high-end boutique to the next attracting eager but reserved sales reps like hookers in Vegas during a business convention.

They would offer to show us a new line of shirts or a great pair of shoes to which Ashley and I would furrow our brows and look the item up and down thoughtfully through our glasses and reply with something like, “Yes, that is a great color which is why I have two just like it”, or “I supposed these could work, but all that sparkle is a bit gaudy.” Then we would smile at one another, amused with our little shenanigans.

Bored with clothing we would not be caught dead in, let alone could afford, the two of us happened upon an art gallery on the upper deck near Saks Fifth Avenue. From the window, it appeared they had some striking prints of Dali, Picasso and Warhol which Ashley and I decided to grace with our presence.

I have to say here that despite giving off the appearance of intelligence, our eyewear did not provide the actual intelligence needed to navigate certain social interactions where one would want to avoid looking like an idiot. As it turns out those prints were not prints at all, but, in fact, the real deal. A discovery we were unable to ascertain without the assistance of the gallery’s art consultant who casually walked up behind us as we fumbled through some foreign phrase associated with the exquisite “print” we were admiring at the time.

“Are you both collectors?” she asked with complete seriousness. The mere image of us as collectors almost made me choke in a fit of laughter, however, the fact she ignored the presence of a middle-aged man wearing a bolo tie and cowboy hat and his gum-chewing, diamond-studded wife who carried a small manicured dog made me think she earnestly believed Ashley and I were actual art aficionados. Thankfully, Ashley explained we were only admirers visiting from Houston.

I would have thought the consultant would have taken that to me she no longer needed to waste her time on us, but apparently, she interpreted this to mean we made a special trip just to evaluate this gallery’s offerings. “And how do you like the art scene in Houston? Is it favorable in comparison to the one here in Dallas?” she asked, fully expecting a meaningful retort worthy of an editorial in some uppity art magazine.

There are times when BS’ing your way through a topic of conversation is a challenge worth taking on, and you can do so with a certain degree of confidence. Politics, sports, dating experiences, these are a few of the subjects most men can tackle while having absolutely no idea what the hell they are talking about. The comparison of major artwork in Texas is not on that list, and even with a reasonable amount of alcohol you’re bound to be exposed. Given this fact, I went straight for an honest reply. Aside from the application of Crayola to scrap paper by kids, my knowledge in the matter is for crap and I explained I was not qualified to have a valid opinion in the matter.

Nevertheless, the image given off by the glasses was too strong for our new friend to take the hint, and the next thing Ashley and I knew, we were engaged in a discussion over Dali’s commissioned illustrations for Dante’s Inferno. I tried to position myself out of the conversation by stepping closer to the works so to appear as if I were examining them for slight errors or previously unseen message hidden within the brushstrokes. In actuality, I was debating whether I should pull my glasses off so I could tap against my lips to accentuate my feigned concentration.

However, before I could make a decision, Ashley sold me out. “You really should ask my husband,” I heard her say. “He’s the painter.”

“Reeeeally,” the consultant turned to me with a look of I-knew-you-were-holding-out-on-us. “So tell me, what subject matter do you prefer? Who are your influences?”

I smiled shyly, “Well, I, uh paint stuff…” my glasses were sliding down my nose, riding the sudden beads of sweat that started to appear. “Stuff like, uh, people, and buildings, and that kind of stuff.”

Then Ashley jumped in. “Oh, stop it, honey. You’re being modest.” She turned to consultant. “You should see this portrait he did. We have it hanging in our loft…”

“Your loft? Well, you must be an artist. Let me get my card,” and she excused herself.

I gave Ashley one of those withering glances from over the top of my glasses only making her giggle all more at our situation. It’s true I do paint from time to time, but nothing serious enough to be considered as having any influences other than paint-by-numbers.

Our consultant returned and handed over her card possible thinking she would one day, be showing some of my more stellar works such as My First Landscape or Fruit Bowl for Beginners.

“I have a piece I think you will enjoy,” she said motioning for us to follower her. There, on the opposite side of the gallery, hung a large painting of an outdoor bistro with the Eiffel Tower in the distant background. It reminded me of those paintings sold at furniture stores as an accessory to help tie a sofa and an aweful chairs together.

As we stood their looking it over, the consultant quietly asked, “So, how does this painting make you feel?”

My instinctive response was that I felt like upgrading our living room setup, but I had the sense enough to know she would never get the joke. It would be too cruel. Still, I figured that if she believed I was something I was not then I at least owed her the courtesy of playing the part. Removing my glasses, I leaned back and folded my arms. “Hmmmm,” I sort of hummed as I brought the tip of my glasses to my lips with a look of intellectual concentration.

“You know, I really like the detail and coloring used here,” I finally said using my glasses as a crude sort of pointer to make vague circle motions over the middle of the canvas.

“Ahhh,” the consultant nodded as if she’d never considered that point before, which I’m sure she had not since whatever point I was trying to convey had never even been mentioned in the whole history of artistic criticism.

“And the perspective,” I continued, “Is quite…yet the angles are so…”

“Yes?” she leaned forward slightly.

“They are very much – well, I could never begin to…”

“Uh hu?”

“It almost reminds me of… of…” I looked up at the ceiling and pressed the glasses to my chin. “Oh, you know”

She mentioned a name, but in such situations, you never go with the first suggestion as it opens you up to looking like a fraud.

“No, no. Oh, never mind. I’m sure it will come to me later while I’m balancing the checkbook or unclogging a toilet. Anyhow, It’s a very nice piece to be sure.”

I don’t know if our consultant felt overmatched or finally realized we were just your average garlic-eaters, but she mentioned something about a phone call and quickly left Ashley and I to stand there alone suppressing our laughter. We had not been there 2 minutes when another consultant asked us if were Warhol fans and would we like to view one of his Marilyn Monroe portraits. We agreed and followed him to a private office where the work was displayed.

“I’ve seen this in books,” Ashley said, “But it’s so much more thrilling to see the real thing.” She was genuinely impressed and so was I.

“And just think, only five or six people will get to even see this today,” our host said, “The buyer, my colleague whom you were just talking with, myself and the two of you.”

Thanking the consultant for this private showing, we left. “We’d better get out of here before someone else ropes us in.” I said.

Ashley agreed, and as we walked out the door she said, “I didn’t realize these glasses were so powerful.”

Lesson Learned
Since then, we’ve determined it best to wear our glasses only in certain situations. These include family gatherings, church (but only the morning service), and any function held in a suburban or rural setting. Conversly, in addition to art galleries, those times generally thought of as unfavorable to fake eyewear are the theater, the library, settings involving anyone considered a doctor or published author, and optometry appointments. It just tends to be inconsiderate to those around us.


Guest Post at Discovering Dad!

I actually have two post for today! The first is The Look of Pretentiousness, and the other, I'm excited to say is a guest post at Discovering Dad entitled How Superman Made Me A Better Father.

If you've never been to Discovering Dad before, take some extra time a look around. Jeremy Biser and his crew have done a great job putting together a very helpful site for dads. Make sure you check out their About Page while you are there.


The Look Of... Pretentiousness

I have a serious confession to make. One which I am slightly mortified to be making in such a public forum. I wear fake eye glasses. I know this is completely ridiculous for a guy my age, which is exactly why I removed my nipple piercings a little while back. I figured it was just a tad bit creepy for guy closing in on his 40's to be pierced and without a Harley fat-boy or a rock band to justify it. Fake eye wear, on the other hand, is an entirely different story for one looking to break onto the scene as an important and pretentious writer.

I'm not sure exactly, when this optical obsession began, but I'm going to guess it was sometime around the publication of my first written work, The First Story of the Iranian Hostages, which I wrote in the second grade for my school's short story contest. Although the documented content, stark prose and Crayola Crayon illustrations I hand-copied from my parents' Newsweek Magazines earned me a chance to meet children's author, Syd Hoff. It did not, however, result in the immediate issuance of pretentious looking eye wear.

In fact, I wouldn't own a pair of glasses anytime soon, as it appeared I had not just perfect vision, but freakishly perfect vision. The school nurse treated me like part star pupil, part circus attraction during my annual eye exams where I would regularly register scores of 20/13. The first time she gave me the results of the test, I assumed anything lower than a perfect 20/20 equated to a one-way ticket to the very image of intellectual superiority. I guess I should have been more suspicious of the way she kept saying, "Hmmm, interesting," while each time, pointing to a smaller row of letters. "What about this one?"

Curse the medical genius who developed this optical rating system for being a golf enthusiast as a decreasing score indicates healthier eyesight. "You see this line here," the nurse said dragging her figure across a row of large letters I would have confused with those on a movie marque. "That's perfect 20/20 vision," she continued. "No need to read anything smaller really, but I was a little bored today."

Every year after that, upon entering the nurse's office for the regular check up it was always some crack. "Hey, it's Mr. Superman with that x-ray vision", or "Well if it ain't Ol' Eagle Eyes. Still eatin' your carrots?" Every line felt like a proverbial slap in my intellectual, yet unadorened face.

As if this weren't frustrating enough, the fact I possessed faulty genes made my desire all the more maddening. Of my parents and three sisters, all of them require corrective eye wear. "You're so lucky you don't have to deal with these stupid things," they all say with a sort of apologetic tone. It was as if they felt sorry over the fact I was indiscriminately awarded razor vision and ADD, while they all received a reason to look smart and fashionable along with the ability to work at the computer for long periods without being distracted by emails from Canadian pharmacies promising sure solutions to erectile dysfunction.

By my freshman year of high school, the funky, fresh trends of the mid 80's supplied me with a perfect eye wear accessory, the flip-up sunglasses. At first glance, they looked like any other set of shades, but with one easy motion, the shaded lenses flipped up on a hinge that anchored to a set of matching clear lenses. Hence the look of glasses combined with the practicality of protection from the sun's harmful rays.

Although my first pair, which had over sized rims and reflective mirrored lenses, were an abysmal fashion disaster, I believed the concept in theory, to be rather brilliant. Eventually I earned enough money to purchase a real hip, rad and gnarly pair allowing me to toss the old ones, which I neglected to mention I bought at a country gas station for $4.99. I believe the attendant, some old codger, called me a hippie as I tried them on. No matter. That cheap set was history as I had the "real" things now.

So absolutely convinced of their realness, I decided there should be no reason why I wouldn't wear them to school, and what better place to start than my English class. All of my classmates known for their writing skills wore glasses, and upon witnessing me pull off both wit and whimsy with my new specs, would surely hold me and my art in the same high-esteem they held for themselves. However, upon my entrance into the classroom, the teacher took one look at me and held out her hand. "Give 'em to me." And that, folks, was the end of that, as they say.

I was allowed possession of my glasses at the end of the day where I was told never to wear them at school again. Shortly thereafter an amendment to the student dress code was sent home to our parents informing them that flip-up sunglasses were most definitely a crime against God, as were my cargo pants and my suspenders. Apparently, the administration at my ultra-conservative Baptist school didn't want its students portraying a funky, fresh faith; that, and wearing anything considered "fake" was not true, and what is not truth is lying. By the sounds of it I almost made murder look good.

Eventually, the flip-top shades faded in trendy popularity. I wasn't too upset over this as I came to realize they tended to made me look light on wit and much heavier on the whimsical end of things. Not at all the image I hoped to achieve, although there was a brief encounter where I was wearing these glasses after soccer practice and one of my teammates - a local ruffian from the wrong side of the pew - said I looked like a "beatnik." Beatnik being a term associated with poets and writers, I took his comment to be a compliment and I thanked him sincerely, not realizing however, he was attempting to scrap with me.

Since then there have been many years and many pairs of fake eyeglasses to include ones I secretly purchased at a girl's accessory store in the mall, and a dark-rimmed pair I bought from a street vendor in the village during a trip to New York City. Being that they were from a city famed for its literary legacy, I felt these glasses possessed special qualities that would somehow pass on to me the vision I needed to find my voice on paper.

This was not to happen and I blame this on account of my New York City specials being too small for my head, thus cutting off blood and oxygen flow to my brain. If you were to look at me straight on as I wore them, you would notice a more than slight bow in the arm of glasses as they ran from the frame to my ear. I looked like I was wearing a prop for a stage theatrical in which I played the part of a nerdy child half my age. I told myself I looked eccentric, but in time, I finally had to admit to myself this was just another futile attempt to look smarter than I actually was. I finally put those glasses away, pulling them out only when I need to avoid certain people at social gatherings, and when I my photo ID's require updating.

Tomorrow: Part 2

I had pretty much given up on the idea of glasses until I met Ashley. You know you've found your soul mate when, while walking hand-in-hand through a crowded mall, you are both stopped dead in your tracks at the site of kiosk vendor selling designer brand, knock-off, eye wear at $24.99 for two pairs, and they are absolutley fake.


Indiana Jones and The Sugar Shack

During the two weeks I spent with the boys, one of the adventures of the trip was the on-going excavation of a old maple syrup sugar shack that once existed in the woods behind my parents' house. The shack was probably more of a medium-sized shed made of planks and sand-stone walls based on the amount of artifacts dug up from the ground where it once stood. As a small boy, I remember our property being rough with swampy wet areas and good sized scrub brush and small trees, until my parents tamed it into the lush estate it is today. What I didn't know until a few years ago is that the property used to be the sight of a decent size farm over 100 years ago, and where the home I grew up in stands, a large wheat field once existed. The sugar shack was a regular functioning part of that farm where the owners boiled buckets of tree sap down into not just syrup, but maple sugar too.

Probably around the age of 10, for some reason I began poking around in the dirt around where that shack had long since fallen in on itself and started decaying for many decades. To my amazement, I uncovered an old pint, milk bottle in one piece. There wasn't much to it - probably worth about 50 cents to a local collector, but to me it was practically the Arc of the Covenant. That was day I became the alter ego for the great archaeologist and adventurer(cue music and whip cracking sound effects) Indiana Jones.

Old bottle collecting became something of a passion for me and lasted through high school and beyond where even today I have a hard time passing a flea market or antique store without wanting to evaluate their collection of whiskey bottles and medicine bitters. I eventually scrapped up enough money to purchase an authentic Indiana Jones fedora which I treated with the same reverence and devotion as my idol did his. It was not unusual to see me holding it down with one hand as ran full tilt across a field while being chased by a property owners' angry dogs after being caught rummaging around an old junk pile, or to slap the dust and cobwebs from it majestic brim after emerging from a rat-infested crawlspace underneath and on old railroad warehouse.

It felt good to wear that hat around and even better when I'd make an important discovery. I had at least a couple bottles from the early 1800's, and possibly one from earlier with the original cork still in it, but the majority of the rest were old Vick's Vapor jars from the 1970's whose cobalt blue I just could say no to. The best of these artifacts were prominently displayed in my room where I discovered another benefit of bottle collecting outside of fashion accessories and a good story. Chicks thought it a cool hobby making me slightly more interesting than other boys in my class.

Given our similar temperaments is it any wonder that my son Noah would be drawn to the same boyhood adventure? As soon as he heard his grandpa tell the rumor of how the farmer who once owned this land supposedly hid jars of money up in that old sugar shack, Noah had a shovel in hand and was headed up to the woods. We've been back several times since first hearing that story and each time Noah manages to dig something new out of what's now become quite an excavation site.

Part of his daily agenda would be to dig a little more at the old sugar shack. It didn't matter if he was alone or with his brothers. At one point I caught him organizing a crew from among all his cousins who were over for their annual visit. Had I let him go through with it (it had just rained and their mothers would've all thrown fits at the mud tracked in), who knows how much he and ten other boys would've hauled back.

On the morning we were loading up the car to head back to their mother, Noah asked me what I'd done with the bottle he found.

"What bottle?" I didn't know anything about it.

"The bottle I found."

My mother who had been listening went back into the house and came back holding an old bottle with dirt still caked on it.

"Ya, that's it, Dad."

"Where did you get that at?" I asked looking it over. It was a old medicine bottle.

Noah looked at me with a quirky little smile. "From our dig site," he said, "I want you to have it 'cause I know you like bottles."

I don't know how that thing survived all those years under all the dirt and sand-stone, but I guess it had been waiting there for my little protege to find it. It's now my most priceless artifact.

For more photos and descriptions of the dig click here.


Star Wars: The Parental Conundrum

This weekend I took Ashley and the girls to go see the new Star Wars cartoon movie making for a nice activity on a rainy afternoon. Allie and Avery, to my great relief are enthusiastically becoming fans of the epic saga. They kept telling Ashley and me how much they liked the movie and even watched the live action versions of Episode 1 and Episode 2.

Now this would be just great for a dad in a traditional home, right on par with a daughter telling her dad she'd like to watch football with him and by the way, she's voluntarily never dating until she's 35. However, given my boys are not living here with me, there's something of an issue developing.

The next night while I was on the phone talking to Noah, he started telling me about the Star Wars books I sent him last week. "Ya, Dad. Commander Rex is in it and Commander Cody, and Master Windu."

"I think, Master Windu's only in it for a few parts." I said

"How did you know that, Dad?" Noah asked suspiciously.

The tone in his voice made me feel like I'd just been caught in letting spill some secret I'd been trying to keep from him for a long time. Several weeks ago he asked if I was coming to take him to see the new movie. The fact that we live several states apart and the finances are so tight made the likelihood of this happening about slim to nil. I told him it probably wouldn't work out, but even in my own mind I've held out hope that I could.

As much as I enjoyed taking the girls, there was an equal amount of sadness in me as I thought of Noah sitting at home with his brothers thousands of miles away while I sat there waiting for the lights to go down and the previews to start rolling. Star Wars has always been something that the boys and I have enjoyed together, and Noah even more so than his brothers. We talk about the characters, make up stories, and discuss our favorite toys almost nightly for the past several years. So, to tell him I saw the movie with his step-sisters almost felt like cheating on him, and I made no mention of it.

One of the issues I'm very sensitive to is making sure my sons do not feel like they are being replaced by their two stepsisters. That would never be the case, but because of the physical distance between us sometimes circumstances appear to dictate otherwise. It doesn't help that their mother has made those sorts of accusations to me already, which makes me wonder if she inadvertently passes these thoughts onto the boys. I'm sure they, particularly Noah, feel that way just naturally as kids need security in such disjointed family situations, but it would help to know their mom reassured them otherwise.

With Allie and Avery, I respect the fact they already have a dad, and I go out of my way to encourage a positive image of him. There are activities and events he likes to enjoy with the girls that are theirs alone, and I'm careful never to compete with him by attempting to do those same things. When Avery asked me to call her by a pet name that her dad came up with for her, I explained that was a special name for just her and daddy. Avery beamed at that, and it was because she knew it made her feel feel like she was special to her dad.

I'm not a replacement dad for Allie and Avery, and they are not a replacement for my boys. I love them all and my responsibility to be a father and parent is equally imperative across the board. However, there are those times when I feel like I can't share everything so as to spare the feelings of my three, little Star Wars younglings in a galaxy far far away.


K Fed To Start Daddy Blog?

Well, not exactly, but I saw this old SNL Skit and about laughed my asterix off at the thought. Maybe he could at least be a guest speaker at the next BlogHer conference?


For The Olympian In All Of Us

This is dedicated to the Olympic Athlete in all of us. In the words of one famous beer commercial, "For all you do, this blog's for you."



I was standing in line with the girls last week when I overheard this other guy commenting that he couldn't believe summer was over and the kids were headed back to school. I was thinking to myself , which pagan calender does this guy follow, and then it occurred to me, Crap! school's starting in just a few weeks. Of course then I'm talking to my boys on the phone this week and they told me they couldn't talk long because the next day was their first day of school. I guess I'm the one whose calendar is a little off.

This weekend we'll be getting school supplies (if you haven't gotten yours check out the deals at EZ School Supplies found in the right sidebar & some testimonials from other blog sites), new clothes, and haircuts.

At least the doctor's visits are out of the way. Allie had been complaining of a sore throat and I took her to get checked out which made for an interesting situation. After examining the normal ears, nose and throat, the doctor explained she'd have to obtain a throat culture and a urine test. Pretty standard stuff until we got down to the mechanics, at which point the conversation went something like this.

[Doctor to Allie]: Okay Sweetie, we're going to do a couple easy tests.

[Allie]: Are they going to hurt?

[Doctor]: Oh no, Sweetie. One is just us tickling your throat.

[Allie]: Will I get a sucker?

[Doctor]: Yes, but you have to do the other test and that's peeing in this cup (which looked like a thimble).

[Allie]: Uh, how am I going to do that?

[Doctor]: Oh, it's easy, Honey. First you take this pad and wipe reeeeeal good all over... down here (points to... down there. Allie's eyes get huge), then you just hold this cup under you and pee in it real carefully.

[Allie]: I'm gonna need help.

[Doctor]: I'm sure your step-dad (doctor looks at me)...

[Step-Dad]: Uh... (I'm looking over the top of my glasses and shaking my head back and forth emphatically. Doctor looks back at Allie and she is doing the same thing).

[Doctor]: ...orrrr, well, if the throat culture comes back positive we won't need a urine sample.

I don't think I or Allie ever wanted a throat culture to be so positive our entire lives. Then 5 year-old Avery, whose been sitting there reading a book chimes in.

[Avery]: If I clean my "bagina" real good can I have a sucker too?

Thank God the throat culture was positive. We all got suckers on that visit.

Blog Carnival
Couple things from my inbox this week to pass along, the first of which is the Blog Carnival at Daddy's Toolbox Daddy's Toolbox (where I have a submission posted). His carnival has a great collection of writing and tips on parenting by some very good guys. I've really been enjoying this site in general (Show your support by Stumbling the posts you enjoy. They'd really appreciate it.).

Olympic Mom
No doubt you've heard the amazing feats of Michael Phelps this week during the Olympics. I'm pretty sure he'll get a key to the city, meet the president and go to Disneyland when it's all over. For as amazing as he is, his mom deserves a great deal of credit in helping him deal with his ADHD growing up as you will see in this article from the NY Times.

And In Girl's Underwear...
Rmember my issue with some of the creepy stuff on little girl's underwear. Apparently, Disney finally crossed the line with their High School Musical undies which sport a popular show's theme "Dive In" on them. Not exactly the thing a dad wants to see when he's folding the girls' laundry.

BlogHer / BlogHim
Those of you that are familiar with the blogospher have probably heard of BlogHer and their blogging convention targeted primarily at women in the blogging community. Lately, there has been interest in starting a BlogHim convention, and Seattle PI Family Reporter, Paul Nyhan has posed the question openly. I support the idea of a convention, and so it was interesting to read what dooce's husband (if you don't know who dooce is, she is the Oprah Winfrey/Michael Jordan of the blogging community) wrote about his experience while attending the BlogHer convention as a guy on his own blog Blurbomat.

Star Wars
Aside from the Batman Movie, the other film I could not wait to see was the animated Star Wars movie coming out this weekend. I already have the tickets and have almost converted my young step-daughters to the dark side of geek-dome. If you have any interest in the movie, you should read 7 Reasons the Clone Wars Will Be Worth Seeing.

I apologize there's not much from the inbox as it's been kind of a cruddy week for me. Thanks to everyone for your encouraging comments, emails and phone calls. My wife has been great too, all except when she explained how she'd signed me up for a men's fashion catalogue advertising these swim wear selections.

**DISCLAIMER** If you are reading this at work or with your family scroll fast or pick another time to brag to your boss/hubbie/wife/pastor/mother about this blog!

There were more, but in the name of decency, I could not post them. No sucker for my wife.


Birthday Boy

This week is my youngest son Sawyer's birthday who now will be four years old. He's both cute and a stinker. Unfortunately, I don't get to be there for the party as he lives with his mother out of state, but that's something I don't want to dwell on. Instead, I rather think about how grateful I am to have such a wonderful little boy as a son. Happy Birthday, Sawyer!

First birthday. "Glad you all could make it to the party. I'd offer you some cake but I'm wearing most of it!"

You can see more photo's on here.


[sigh] You Mean I Have To Pour My Own Drinks Too

First of all, thanks to all of you for your kind comments, emails and calls over my post yesterday. I'll be fine provided I take the necessary steps to get through it. Luckily, I know what those steps are. Had it been four years ago that would've been another story (or blog post, or whatever). One day maybe I'll have enough courage to share the specifics of those events, but for right now, what I posted yesterday is more than enough.

I probably wouldn't have even admitted to my depression so openly had it not been for my wife who convinced me I should do so. When you read her writing you will see she is much better at expressing her honest feelings than I am. A large part of this is just plain talent, but there's another part of it that has to do with the fact she is a woman. My statement isn't meant to gender stereotype, as I am only pointing out the differences in how men and women process and deal with emotions. In this case, depression.

Ask me a few years ago about depression and I would have associated it with chicks and the mentally unstable (I was such a smart boy back them). Over the past few years, however, I've realized that is not the case as depression in men has gained a great deal of attention. Most of that attention is in part, due to the discovery that the manifestation of depressive symptoms in men and women differs to a large degree. What was once thought to be just normal guy behavior turns out to actually be male depression. I found this out the hard way, and almost too late.

Back then, I was dealing with a failing marriage and the stress of corporate politics in my job as a homebuilding executive. Things were tough, but I never considered myself depressed. Eventually, however, life came to a head as my wife and I split, and I was demoted at work for some chickenshit reason. I had been to counseling, shoveled drugs down my pie-hole and read a few books, but I was going no where. I needed something to hold on to. I needed a happy thought.

My happy thought became my boys. Somewhere in the course of things it occurred to me that I couldn't just check out and live in my own world because of my circumstances. Where would that leave my kids? Lost and confused. As soon as grabbed onto something outside of myself I was willing to ignore my male ego and accept the fact that I was suffering from depression. Once I got past admitting it I could start working on getting better.

Turns out I have a chemical imbalance in my brain and with the right drugs, education and lifestyle changes I found that I could deal with the tough circumstances in my life much more effectively. I also learned it was hereditary, which resulted in some of my family getting help, and could be helpful down the road if my children start to display the same signs and symptoms.

In regards to my current condition, in some respects it's my own fault. I've been doing a poor job of maintaining the lifestyle habits in my diet, exercise and sleep patterns needed to manage my depression. Okay, that and I ran out of my medication. This sounds stupid on my part, but understand there is something of a catch 22 involved. Once you get to that "healthy place," it's real easy to start thinking you can deal with things on your own.

This is the trap I fell into, and it didn't take but a week before the next thing I know I'm blaming dust bunnies under the couch on poor old Teddy Roosevelt. Yesterday, I'm flat on my back overwhelmed by a dirty apartment and lamenting the fact I can't find a steady job or attend my son's birthday (my boys live away from me until I can find a way to move close to them), but in the back of my mind, I understood what was going on. I couldn't do much, but I at least stayed away from self-medicating myself with large quantities of vodka, or caffeine.

Today, I forced myself out of bed, and tried to work out. The machines in the gym were broke but I still got a 20 minutes of cardio in. Once I got done, I fixed a high-protein breakfast, read a few of my favorite blogs and then put on some nice clothes even though I was working from home. Just in those few things, I started to feel well enough to work on writing a guest post about how Superman makes me a better father.

I mention that post because one of my points is that Superman has a weakness (kryptonite) and it's something he has to acknowledge and deal with in order to be an effective hero. Depression is my kryptonite, and it is for many other men out there too. That is the other reason I decided to share this part of myself with you. To make it OK for others to admit and deal with it. Right now, things are not easy for me, but I can assure you that understanding how depression manifests itself differently in men than in women, holding on to my happy thought, and acknowledging it's existence, I will get me back on track soon.

In the mean time, you'll have to suffer through my dark humor on the Lunchbox for a little while.


[sigh] A Title Is Too Much Energy

Show of hands. Who out there suffers from depression? Okay, put your hands down - I can't see them anyway which leads to this question. How many of you are men? It's all right. Remember, I said I can't see you and no one else can either. You can see me though and my hand is up, which makes it real friggin' hard to type one-handed. I don't like the idea of admitting it, but because it's the way my head is wired, I've come to understand it's part of who I am.

Several years ago, I wouldn't have been able to make that admission which is typical for men. We don't like to come across as little sissies that feel sorry for ourselves. I understand what's going on with me right now, yet I'm still hesitant to write this because I'm worried it will come across as just whining. At the same time there's another part of me that says I should write this because it's being honest about who you are, and if there's one thing the world needs it's more honesty.

Truth is, I don't want to be honest with everyone. I would rather write some funny story than admit I have spent the better part of 6 hours lying on the couch staring at the dust bunnies on the TV stand and blaming everyone from the kids to the Roosevelt Administration for their lifeless existence on my credenza.

The thought of pulling out a Swiffer to eradicate them is too overwhelming for me to consider because it would require me to dust other hard surfaces in the loft out of obligation. Obligation, as a action is my enemy sharing a place in infamy on par with the Pol Pot and head lice. I don't want to feel obligated to anything or to anyone, and I refuse to utter it anymore because even the word itself has too many syllables to pronounce.

So I continue to lie on the couch and look at the rafters. It's the one place I don't feel [that "O" word] to clean. I can't see the floor needs vacuumed, the dishes need washed, or the bed needs made. Only joists and beams ten feet over my head. Ironically, this is how much I feel buried under by all the crap I'm supposed to be doing.

And now I have to title this post [sigh]. Show of hands. Who thinks I can do it from the couch? Oh ya? I like vodka too. Just because I can admit to being prone to depression doesn't make it suck any less.


When Your Wife's A Model

This weekend Ashley got a great opportunity to be photographed professionally (again) in her wedding dress at an old cotton mill in McKinney Texas (it's also on the national historical registry). The shoot was coordinated by our wedding coordinator Aimee after she happened to share a few pics of Ashley's gown with photographer friends Jennifer and CJ (check out their site). After seeing them Jennifer put out the invitation, to which Ashley about jumped through the roof at the chance. What girl wouldn't want to put on their dress for a photo shoot in an exotic location?

While Jennifer, CJ and Aimee did all the shooting and Ashley stood there being her gorgeous self, I was taking photos of my own as I had been previously instructed to do. The mill offered a lot of subject matter to work with and I thought I'd share a few of the unedited pics. It was fun, but I had it easy. The rest of the group had to suffer through 100-degree heat (104 to be exact), buckets of pigeon crap, and respiratory failure while I strolled around at my leisure admiring my hot wife. Hats off to Aimee and the Nichols for their generosity and professionalism.

This next one (of the chair) I've entered at Greeblemonkey's Photo Contest

There are more. I'll probably get them up on Flickr and maybe Etsy after I get a chance to touch them up.



It's been a few weeks since I've done anything with Clark's Inbox, so I figured it's time to get things back on track. Since the last one there have been several new (and exciting) developments. First, there's been the updated layout now with three columns so I could better highlight some of the many great blogs and blog communities out their (you should check them out). The additional column allows for spotlighting your reader comments on the face page too (thanks to those of you who have taken the time - much appreciated).

One of the other exciting items of note has been some recent exposure the Lunchbox has received in the past couple weeks which included a mention on the very useful blogsite, I Saw Your Nanny (July 30th) as one of their favorite Daddy Blogs, along with A listers like The Sneeze, Dad Gone Mad, Joe-Prah, and Busy Dad Blog.

Soon afterward, Appropriate / Inappropriate was included on The Houston Chronicle's Blog, Good Mom / Bad Mom in their Blog Share Sunday feature.

Then on Wednesday I was notified of that the Lunchbox had been included in Alltop's list of top Dad Bloggers. If you're not familiar with the site, Alltop compiles the best blogs by category and lists them for readers to easily find the top sites in their area of interest, so to be added to a list with some of the most well-known and popular fathers in the blogosphere blew me away.

Finally, this morning as I was writing this post, I noticed another mention for the Clark's Lunchbox on Paul Nyhan's Working Dad Blog which he writes as the family reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Enough tooting my own horn. It's not in my nature to do so, but it's nice to be recognized and it's flattering that people enjoy reading about your personal delusions of reality. Thank you.

I want to switch gears now and highlight some of the writing and blogs out there that blows mine away.

If you a serious Dark Knight fan and like reading intellectual takes on the movie that go beyond just a flick review, then you should enjoy these two articles featured on Christ and Pop Culture. Thomas Hibbs explores noir elements of the Batman in Christopher Nolan's Achievement: The Dark Knight, while Jonathan Dodson gets a little freaked out about the philosophical and phsycological elements of the characters within the movie in Dark Thoughts From The Dark Knight. (Thanks C&PC!)

Are you a competitive person? Do you have young children that are playing or you plan to have play sports? This was a great post on That's Live v 2.0 (if you're a runner, follow Mrs. Incredible as she trains for the Chicago Marathon on her other site Run Fast Lane Run).

Did any of your kids go to any day-camps this summer. As I read Cynical Dad's post on his newest job description, all I could do was laugh in between the times I was rolling my eyes going, "Oh, that's just crap!" I've seen camps like this and you probably have too.

Two blogsites of note Discovering Dad and A Good Husband. I just came across these sites this week and have been really enjoying them. Check out Time Bandits & What Women Think Of Daddy Blogging as a good place to start.

Two new books I'm looking forward to. The first is Paul Turner's Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess which comes out in October. Being as he's been compared to one of my favorite writers - David Sedaris - I've already pre-ordered the book. Check out his blog Jesus Needs New Pr for an excerpt.

The second book is by Dad Gone Mad writer Daniel Evans and won't be released until this time next year. Right now it's called Rage Against The Meshugenah, but in that amount of time it could change before publication. When I first started reading Dan's stuff, I really didn't like the guy even though we shared several similar circumstances - getting laid off from a corporate job, dealing with depression, being a father. Then I read this post and thought, "Okay, cool. He likes beer."

Finally, with all the summer heat everyone's been mentioning I thought I'd leave you with a quick trip down nostalgia lane to the days of Christmas and those Holiday Cartoon TV specials we would drool over in a time before cable and Youtube. Anybody else remember these?


The Mother Board

One of the most impressive moments of our wedding in June was the attendance of Ashley's friends from the mommy Internet community that she's a part of in. Technically it's named Crystal's Board (after its host), but they sometimes call themselves as the May Mommies refering to how they met nearly seven years ago on a public board for mothers who were expecting in May 2002. Since then, they've gone to Crystal's private board and have added new members through the referals of friends.

I suppose I could get away with just mentioning their attendance was impressive for the fact most of them traveled from all over the country (and even Canada) to be there, some meeting for the first time. That would only be the half of it. What's truly amazing is how these women have come together via the Internet, which has helped transcend the traditional factors like geography, status, and background that dictate who we come in contact with. As members of the board they laugh, they cry and they support one another. Ashley has tearfully told me of more than one time when the May Mommies came together to help in her times of need. They've done the same for other members without hesitation. Sometimes, the Mommy Board is all that another member in need might have for support.

This is not to say it's all sunshine and butterflies among them. I would do them an injustice to make you believe they are perfect. Who is? There are tiffs and differences of opinion, miscommunication and hurt feelings. All the basic issues necessary for any meaningful relationship, without which the May Mommies would just be another blip in cyberspace. However, like the external struggles they face, it's the internal differences and how they deal with them that defines the trueness of their friendships.

I first started to get a sense of what a close nit group they were soon after meeting Ashley. They were quick to share in her joy, but equally cautious in not wanting to see her hurt. As I started blogging more, Ashley was quick to introduce me to her friends through my writing, many of whom graciously left upbeat comments to the effect of, "Hilarious post, nearly peed myself, and if you hurt Ashley we will descend on you like the plague and make feel pain only God Himself could inflict." Although, I took it seriously (and still do), it didn't scare me off since I knew the sentiment originated out their love for Ashley and not some group hobby where they club random men to death.

Unfortunately, these poor women (and several of their husbands from I hear - sorry guys) are still being subjected to Ashley's beaming recommendations to read my blog as a show of support. They've been good sports about it, although I can almost imagine the look on their faces upon receiving another message on the board entitled "Read Ron's Blog Today - It's Not That Bad This Time... Really." I'm lucky to have such a wife, and she's lucky to have such friends.

I've been meaning to write this post for some time since the wedding, but for one reason or another kept putting it off. It wasn't intentional. I just wanted to put a little effort into presenting such great women as opposed to just sticking up a photo, and a quick line limply declaring, "They iz da bomb!" That just wouldn't cut it for the type of friends they are to each other.

Thank you ladies.

The Mommy Board

Front (left to right): Jessica (TX), Karena (IA), Crystal (MI), Missy (OH), Lois Lane, Trish (AL), Xaymara (NH), Brigitte (MN), Amy (IN).

Back (left to right): Heleen (SC), Carley (NJ), Kelly (FL), Kelly (MI), Natasha (Canada), Jill (GA), Leigh Ann (TX), Krystall (TX), Sarah (TX), April (& our photographer) (CA). At the wedding by not pictured (because she was our awesome wedding coordinator): Aimee (TX).

This only represents the members that made it to the wedding, but that is not meant to exclude the others who are just as much a part of everything I described above.

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