Archive for May, 2008


Posted in hit bull win steak on May 30, 2008 by samsondoggie

We got Rosie her bike and she loves it.  “It’s pink,” she says, if you insist on asking her about it. “Also, it’s purple.”  Both important colors.  To have both in the same thing, well I guess enough has been said.  It must make be great.  (Like Super-Why.)   

What I love about it is that she takes care of her bike, and that she so readily finds time to use it.  We had breakfast out on the court this morning, for example, and it wasn’t more than half way through my excellent cereal before Rosie had to get up to ride her bike.  

The other thing I like is what she does when she is done riding.  Rosie likes to park her bike.  She puts her bike against the wall of the house, near the water faucet.  Its the same place every time.  Lately, parking is big.  She parks her cars in a special place in our living room, too. 

John never fell off his bike.  He just took his training wheels off one day and went down the alley. Maybe that confidence will rub off on Rosie.  

I can’t help but remember my own Schwinn Sting Ray. I wore that bike out!  We lived on a cul-de-sac in a sleepy new suburb on the Southern outskirts of Kansas City.  There was not a lot of traffic.

Almost every home in our neighborhood had been built and purchased after 1970, usually by a young couple intent on establishing a family. Some called it Suburbia.  It’s what someone might call an “architectural pastiche” in the anecdotal experience of the children of baby boomers.  You know, Big Wheels, Pintos, and red-white and blue sweat bands. 

I’ve been back there.  It didn’t age very well.  But that’s another story.  What is important is that it was a great place to ride.  There was a steep hill to get to the top of the cul-de-sac.  At the other end, there was a roundabout.  

Our game was to ride from a standing start at the top of hill, reaching as high a speed as possible in order to propel down the straightaway.  We passed our house, the Stonebreakers’, and the Grunden’s house still feeling the momentum of the hill.  The real race took place in the corners, of course, where we ignored safety and crossed traffic lanes in order to get the first position into the Savin’s driveway.  It was a c-shaped concrete slab, built not unlike a pringle’s potato chip, so it was possible to safely take the driveway without much fear of losing your grip because of a melting asphalt puddle.  Having maximized that advantage, we slipped back into traffic.  I actually don’t ever remember stopping, but it must have happened.  

I think things were a bit different back then.  We didn’t wear helmets.  We didn’t have shin guards.  It was all part of a different safety regime.  I remember playing bumper brothers in the back seat of our Pontiac Firebird.  I don’t think that car had seat belts.  It definitely didn’t bear any car seats.  Oh yeah, did I mention that it was OK to climb on top of the roof of our A-Frame house?  




Posted in telling it like it is with tags , on May 27, 2008 by samsondoggie

What did you have for dinner? Er, not so good. Two slices of pizza and a diet coke.

Gross. Why did you eat that? I guess because I only had twenty minutes to eat before I went to Chapel Hill for a board meeting.

John, how was your day? Oh, it was good. We didn’t go to the doctor. Instead, we stayed home and went swimming.

How much did it cost Susie to fill up the Sienna today on her way to Salisbury? Seventy-two dollars. My little Volvo thirsted for sixty-two dollars of petrol on Saturday.

Whose fault is that?

  • NC DOT, for its totally excellent use of five roads, when just two would do. When it comes to traffic, supply creates demand.
  • Elizabeth Dole, for voting against light rail in 2003? The triangle project would have hooked up to Amtrak. We would have had a station 1 mile from our house.
  • Macroeconomic forces that aren’t going away.
  • I guess some would say its our own fault — nobody has to drive, and if your mother is sick, let the free market take care of her health care, right?

Although we were not looking to reduce her auto dependence, we did take Rosie to look at bikes today. She’s ready, she says, for a pink bike.

The market for pink kids bicycles (with basket, tassles, and training wheels) is funny. You can get a reasonably priced steel bike with training wheels for $40. If you want one without Barbie or Disney Princesses, though, it’ll be at least $80. It might even cost as much as $129.

When a smart person tells you that they are never going to let their kids get inundated with commercial stuff, ask again. Yes, they might tell you that they will never allow brands to seduce their offspring. The place where I most imagine that they might tell you that is at a Whole foods, as a matter of fact, Nalgene SIGG water bottle in hand.

Do me a favor, ask this especially insightful person if they are also going to pay twice as much for everything that they buy. That is really the rub. Not just with avoiding costs for unwanted brand dependence, but also more easily imagined ones like protection from Lexan. There is a long-term cost that weighs upon decision-making at the time of purchase. I think people vary greatly in just how much they value those long-term costs.

It’s why some groups of people buy Big Macs or GM cars or cheap microwave ovens, and other people don’t.

Miles ridden — 4.3

Motions carried – – 2

Memorial Day Weekend

Posted in telling it like it is with tags , , on May 26, 2008 by samsondoggie

What did you have for dinner? Corn on cob, canteloupe, cabbage and onion stir fry. (Vegetarian dinner!)

How are you spending Memorial Day Weekend? It has been two days of steady yard work. Saturday, we rented a gas powered tiller and cleared about 300 square feet of ivy in the side yard. It is a five horsepower tiller from Best Rent – All. Three days for $45. Gotta love that. I also did about six feet deep along the length of the front retaining wall in the Urban Ave. portion of our yard.

We built two boxes for the side yard space. One is seven foot by four foot, and six inches deep. The other is 4 by 4 by 10 inches. I like to create some vertical variety in a garden. The eye notices. We already have two that are 8 foot by 4 foot by 8 inches.

I took John to the Home Depot to get the wood.

I had to tell him about me, and the smell of saw dust. For me, saw dust matters.  It always brings me Continue reading

The rains came today

Posted in five questions with tags on May 20, 2008 by samsondoggie

What did you have for dinner?  Well, when strong winds and heavy rains swept through Durham County at 4:40 today, it canceled our picnic at John’s new school.  We had a make-do:  fried eggs and waffles. Maybe there is some beauty in a simple meal, anyway.  

What’s going on in Durham?  How was the ride home?  I fled my office as the rains grew.  Although I am a part of the Smart Commute Challenge, today would have been a better day to drive.  How Continue reading

Get back to work

Posted in hit bull win steak with tags on May 19, 2008 by samsondoggie

I went back to the office today, after being out for almost six days (minus a short visit on Friday.) Not much has changed.  Its still creative, and there is time to go out for coffee.

What did you have for dinner? A burrito with chorizo, green chiles, rice, and cheddar cheese.  A Whole Foods Oreo cookie.  This is the dessert for people who want to worry about something.  I mean, can a cookie really distinguish itself from the competition on the grounds that it is healthy?

John, how was your day? It was awesome! We had playgroup over here.  Roberta and Phillipa and Webb and Elijah! We threw water balloons.  We played in the sprinkle.  We rollie-pollied down the hill.  We ate Continue reading

Sunday, Sunday

Posted in five questions with tags , , , on May 18, 2008 by samsondoggie

What did you have for dinner? Chicken soup!

Rosie, what was your favorite thing about the Holy Family picnic at Storybrook Farm? Playing with Father Timothy.

John, what did you like the best about today? Playing catcher.

Adam, same question: Hitting to the opposite field during softball practice.

How are things with the garden? Right now, its all about drainage.  We spent most of Saturday afternoon working on building two very large new beds.

It was delightful.  John and Rosie worked on Turkey Mountain.  Susie pulled up ivy.  I turned soil.  I mowed the lawn.  Simple stuff, but it really feels good after a long trip away from home.

Getting them ready for planting might still be a long way off, though.  The bed in front of our new retaining wall is full of water.  I need to raise the bed and find a way to flow some water out of the soil.  The new beds on the side of the house are in full sun.  In time, they’ll be the site of sunflowers, tomatoes, and rosemary.  There is plenty of water there in the spring, but the clay turns to rock in the summer.  I need to build out the beds with more manures and compost.  I expect to build at least two four by four squares in that area with heights of more than 8 inches.

Back from Haiti

Posted in hit bull win steak on May 16, 2008 by samsondoggie

What did you eat in Haiti? For breakfast, we ate spaghetti with chili sauce, dried plantains, and peanut butter bread.  For supper (nee, lunch), we had stews with goat, chicken liver, yam, black bean, and rice.  For dinner, we had cocoa, or coffee with milk, or mashed bananas with condensed milk.

Where did you go in Haiti? We flew into Port-Au-Prince.  Then we took a regional flight north about 140 miles to Cap Haitien.  We stayed there for two days, observed Pentecost, and then traveled about 40 miles to Molas.  Molas is a crossroads in the mountains.  We drove for four hours on broken roads.  Then we got out where the bridge was out.  We walked 10.6 miles, fording the “three rivers” and climbing into the hills.  We came out of Molas on Wednesday morning and flew out of Haiti on Thursday.

Why? Well, I suppose the simple answer is that we were providing some medical care, however simple, to about 200 children, a few pregnant women, and whatever adults were in line for the remaining supplies.  We provided tape worm meds, vitamins, the attention of a nurse, and toiletries.

Did you see the Celtics against the Cavs? Yes, that was not a problem in Cap Haitien.  We could watch NBA or Chuck Norris.  They had both.

You were surprised when….we were ready to invite the patients into the clinic.  Each station was prepped and manned.  A woman enters, holding her baby girl.  The little girl is having a seizure.  The mom says she has been like this for two hours.  Its a grand mal.  She bites her jaw.  Her left side is rigid.  Our nurse cannot calm her.  Its the kind of thing that would be treated in a hospital in the states.  This morning, the two hour trip to our clinic still leaves another four hours to go to get to a hospital, provided that the bridge is back in place.

We tried some basic remedies — applying stimulation to her feet and pulse points.  We gave her smelling salts.  She woke up.  Then she fell asleep.  There were at least six heads peering in through the window, watching the fate of the child.  Our nurse said she could die.  Her heart kept beating, though, and she lived.

She went back up the mountain that night.  The family planned to boil her dress and drink the water.  Its a folk remedy.

Haiti is perfect storm of mis-development, with the combination of low or no-skilled workers, a predatory government, and a lack of any kind of infrastructure.  The only viable institution appears to be various church organizations.  Maybe its the low rate of literacy that contributes to its low-context culture.  Someone is always touching you.  It takes two hands to talk and then some.

I want to go back.  We’ll see.

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