Archive for December, 2009

The worst party foul ever

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

In 1985 I was very young 15 years old and walked into a party with a brand new Walkman I had just gotten for Christmas. This was the grownups New Year’s Party.

But we got there late, and in the meantime, I had been listening to my Walkman on the drive older and heard that Ricky Nelson had died. I had Noooooooooooo real clue who he was, other than the fact that my dad had several records by him in the 45 collection I had pilfered.

So, set up the scene…and bunch of drunken baby boomers, with no clue of any events in the outside world, a kid with a Walkman and the latest news, no cable TV, and we literally opened the doors and I blurted out, “RCIKY NELSON IS DEAD!”

Talk about understanding quickly how to fuck up a party. I was old enough to think it was cool to know it before anyone else, too young to understand what it meant, and old enough to realize I had screwed up…all in three seconds.

People were actually crying. I remember thinking, I swear, it’s not like Elvis or Lennon died. This can’t mean anything, right? Just a singer.


This was my super-duper big lesson in thinking before you act. I think about it every December 31. How was I to know he was on TV 17 years and all these people watched him grow up? This was before we even had cable TV. In my brain, I lumped him in with Frankie Valle and Fabian. I had no idea!

But I also think about that little Walkman…I was getting news streamed to me. Which is kind of the thing that seems amazing to me. No internet and no cable TV, but I had a wireless device that made me have more news than anyone else in the room and I knew it. I was conscious of the fact that I had the info and NONE OF THEM had a clue.

I learned my lesson well about information. You can’t please everyone, but you can screw up yourself.

Lesson learned at a garden party. I made a mistake that day.

I finally cracked one!

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

No, not really…I am still excited like a schoolgirl who finds out the boy likes her. Or something. I was looking at more stuff and it’s more Clara Barton!

But here’s the thing I like so much…it has zero to do with any history of cars or transportation or anything I have a background in as a historian. This is just taking what I learned from curators and historians in that world and proving I could apply it over a year to proving one little dumb thing.

I know the book isn’t worth anything, monetary-wise, but this is a really big deal to ME! I have no background or training in history other than collecting books, reading them, and researching cars. It’s what I should have done in college. Hell, I should have done journalism in college, but I just worked at the Globe. It’s actually what I kept not doing and did even more…history stories.

I could tell you more about the arts and crafts movement in upstate New York or Jewish art on the lower East Side than you want to know. And the car stuff is easy.

The fun is putting it all together!!!!  Which won’t happen in a literal sense….but the stuff adds up in your head. The question becomes when the summation is delivered.

Want to know how excited I am?

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

I’ve been up all night futzing around with train tickets, cell phone rates, and B&Bs. I am, to say the least, jacked about this Europe trip. Finally. They could drop me off in Amsterdam and I would survive on kibbles while showing a good time.

But this is important…Big A needs to do it. She needs to see the nuts of a trip outside the US. That’s what has me excited. Is she going to get all of it? No way. I know that. But it’s the same reason she took a cross-country trip as a newborn…you just have to get the taste of it at the right time.

I’m not explaining this well, so I will babble…

I want my kid to have a completely frugal trip through Europe when she is 10.

I want Annalaan to just think that international travel is all cool. I want her to enjoy it as much as I do and miss it as much as I do. This is why I am excited…she gets it. She doesn’t even know what she’s getting into! I just want to take her, at the right time, and pierce that next layer of understanding the world around you.

Maybe that’s why this is priceless to me. I know that feeling at 10. It wasn’t Europe, but it was a 747 with a lounge. The thing that clicks in your head; it makes you want to travel forever.

And there is a scary part…she might hate it…but…BUT…I think you can put a pretty good dent in a kid’s sense of adventure at 10.

I’m betting my kid gets this more than most kids. I want to push her again, just like when we flew her around as a newborn and a baby. Hell, she has more miles than I do in the last ten years…I’m not even sure where to poke her sense of adventure other than use her passport.

Never, never, never, never give up!

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Check out my original stuff about this Hubbard book.

I had gotten so lost in the research about it, that I forgot it was more than a year ago I originally started this “Clara Hunt.” But I was pretty dang close to correct in Sept. ’08. My Clara is Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. I think I am also correct on who she gave it to, but I am not going to say yet because I want to look at more documents that I need to find.

The key was finding Clara Barton’s passport application in her hand. My friends, it stopped it in it’s tracks tonight when I was looking at it. My Clara, after a year of looking, is Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or jump around and wake up the neighborhood. Can I just say I am stoked?

I am an amateur sleuth with this stuff. Hell, I might even be wrong with this (but I’m not). Just look back at that original post…I kept fiddling and fiddling and fiddling with names and birth records and all that stuff. Why? Because it’s fun! We should all buy something like a cheap book at a library sale and wonder where it came from and where it’s been and why. That’s the purpose of understanding history, why and how!

Here’s a nice story about Elbert G. Hubbard.

But, here’s the thing…who cares? Probably no one. But some people find interesting cars and prove there provenance, some people spot rare birds in strange locations, and other wonder what the secret recipe is in KFC. I like books and history.

I just like all the connections and the detective work. The story telling. Like, did you know that Hubbard’s second wife was one of the first female graduates of Emerson College? Of course not. Who cares? But my Emerson history book helped lead me down this path. I swear…I don’t have 10s of thousands of books for show.

I like those things. I like books and baseball cards. and art and sculpture, and ephemera and tokens. I like looking at a piece of art and being able to see the artist was lefthanded. Or reading a 1899 U.S. History book and having a smile over the Spanish-American War.

But most of all…I like solving the first part of a good mystery.

Here’s to Clara Barton!

(How the hell this thing ended up in Graham, Washington at a library book sale is another mystery. Ummm…didn’t anyone notice that, even without the inscription, it was a signed and dated book from 1906? I’ll refrain from that rant.)

Ooooops…my things change in 24 hours

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Forget the computer and man cave crap…my wife wavered on vacation dates and I blew my budget to make it happen.

It’s really not that dramatic. I just think about things to do with “my money.” I have a budget like everyone else in the world, and I figured it was going to be a computer, or golf clubs, or a clubhouse. But I got to thinking…those are rather selfish. I don’t really need any of those things, of course.

So then, yesterday, I was watching a terrible football game and thinking about, “What do I really want?”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. Two weeks in Europe with P and Big A.

Now, this has been a trip that has been heehawed over for years. Sometimes it was too much money, sometimes it was about missing school, sometimes it was sports, sometimes it was a “what if” game…get the point?

So I brought it up. P and I have never been in Europe together at the same time, and I’ve been enough I’m embarrassed. Big A doesn’t know what we’re really talking about, but she does; she’s just a little scared of it.

But this is the key…I listened to everything and made a daddy/hubby declaration…we’re going to Europe for two weeks. And to back it up, I bought the tickets right there.

Bingo, bango, bongo. I even had them hand me their passports so I could do the info.

There is just a point as the years go by that you wish you had done something, and I realized this was not going to be this year. I want to go to Europe with my wife and daughter. And I want two weeks. And I don’t want it to be summer because I want to see the flowers of spring. And, and this is the big thing, I am sick of TALKING ABOUT IT EVERY YEAR! I found two weeks (TWO WEEKS!!!) that we can do it and only miss 2.5 days of school!!!! And it’s the non-busy time!!!

Yes, it’s all about me, I guess. Fine. But both P and Big A were already planning itineraries as soon as the digital ink was dry. I’m just a cheap tour guide…I don’t care where they want to go or what they want to do…we can finally do Europe together.

But that was my whole point…somebody has to just buy the damned tickets.

The other Mac and me…

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

I admit it…I want to have a compumance with another ‘puter…the Mac.

But I want to have the mood all set up just right. I want to know its needs and make sure it understands mine…and realize…it might be just like the summer wind.

But for 30 years I have resisted this temptrest. I didn’t even jump on the Lisa bandwagon.

The affair will begin with a tryst at a mall at a publice store. I will act like a skeptic, she will act all adored. I’ll flash eyes on her, and wonder if she is worthy. But she’s tougher than James Worthy.

Ok…whatever with the highbrow shit…I am back to realizing I want a Mac that is purely dedicated to my photos and art. Yahahahahahaha…go ahead everyone…I am the last person in the world to think anything was better than anything I have ever done on a PC. I’m wrong. Photos and video are better on the Mac.

But Holy Mothe&%^#&%^#(%^#(*%^#(%#%*&#^%#*^#*er Fu*#$^#$^#*%^#(*%#*(#*er they are expensive!

So this is my new plan…

I need a Mac.

I need a Man Cave.

I need an office space that doesn’t have cats pooping in it while I’m writing or drawing.

I will commit to going Mac on a test run when the field is level with a new playhouse on my property with HDTV, an alarm, and intermet.

The beauty of this challenge is that Pilar would love me out of the house when I’m working, so she is for it. The downside is I have no idea how to do it. And my demands are simple…TV, computer and alarm.

Oh, and a fridge. And a full-size hide-a-bed. And I really want industrial carpeting, with a loft for sleep overs. And the brick BBQ. Hmmm…

This just went waaaaaaay over budget. I’ll get back to you.

Our Mountain

Saturday, December 26th, 2009


Taking a decent photo is 97-percent chance, two-percent equipment, and one-percent subject. Or something like that.

This was when Pilar and I were outside taking a break from all the Christmas hoopla at my grandma’s house. That’s Mt. Rainier and Spanaway Lake.

But I have to say…I’ve known this mountain my whole life and this was about as striking as I’ve ever seen it on a winter’s day. The lake is calm, the mountain has new snow, it’s Christmas…really makes you stop and recognize a throttle in your throat. How lucky are we that we have this 14,000-foot sleeping beauty so close?

So I thought we were the only ones that noticed it. And then, pretty quickly, 50-odd-something family members kind of stopped everything for a couple of minutes just to admire it. I mean…there was practically 2,000 years of mountain watchers just gazing at it as it turned from pink to dark. That is perhaps my favorite Christmas 2009 memory.

The greatest performance ever by a late night talk show host?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Alicia Keys singing and Stephen Colbert rapping a parody of Jay-Z’s rap verse. New York!

Yea yea yea
I love New York- King of all the cities
Lived up by the Guggenheim, till i got some kiddies
Moved to Connecticut, bye George Pataki
Go to the dry cleaners, pick up my khaki’s
Shopping malls close, my community is gated
My shorties are all private school educated
Home Theatre System – 60 inch plasma
Clean suburban air – much better for my asthma
Still hit the city – Times Square keep it real
Hard Rock Cafe for the appetizer deal
M&M Store, Disney Store, I’m in heaven
I own this town from 41st to 47th
Addicted to the Lion King – That show is fantastic
Leave half an hour early so that I can beat the traffic
I can get home really fast
Driver rocks an EZ Pass
Land of turbo gas and the upper middle class 

This was a serious debate. This is one of the greatest things ever done on a late-night talk show. He basically said that it needed a shout-out to the suburbs, and then he not only did it, he NAILED it. We were sitting around playing poker trying to think of anything comparible as a performance by a late-night host. A hit song and he shows up the hitmaker, in a way, and she is into it…not like he was snubbing her; he stood his ground as good.

It’s the best one hour on TV when Stewart and Colbert are on since Cheers and Night Court (I just said that as a random reference to sound Thursday night NBC-retro cool).

Just a random post…

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Up early to let Scout out and then back to sleep HARD…

But it was funny because I threw the Ipod on while I doing it and “Sister Christian” was the random song that started it out.

And I was sitting there listening to it being very meditative about the whole scene. It was like the “Boogie Nights” cocaine scene while watching a dog. She didn’t like something out there. The barks were like the fire crackers. And it had me a little on edge…she really did see/smell something, I have no doubt, but I just wanted to button her up and get back to bed. Her barking in the darkness, though, ramped my adrenaline up along with that song. She would be quiet and then just snap bark at something.

I should just play Sesame Street or Raffi when I let her out. I think Night Ranger and the movie are a little too into my head when I am half asleep.

Tomorrow is a sleep over for Big A…groovy. (whatever the eye-roll thing is)

How’s that for a 4 a.m. babble?

What do you get for someone who doesn’t want anything?

Monday, December 21st, 2009


Pilar nailed it for me. A game-used Seahawks helmet in my size.

I find it kind of a fascinating sports artifact that didn’t cost a huge amount of money. I just think it’s cool. I never even would of thought of it, even for me. Frankly, if it were a painting or some piece of art, she could not have done better for value to just pure enjoyment.

That’s the funky thing about gift-giving times for me. There’s really not much that I NEED, and there is not much that I WANT, so I just don’t get the giddyup in my step about gifts. But sometimes, something hits just the right AHA! and it makes sense in a “I never even thought of that but ‘Wow! I like it’” kind of way.

I’m really a geek. I wanted to test the pads and blow them up and run into a wall with it, just to see what the deal was with all the 2007 (year of the helmet) concussions. And, I can look at it, and tell by its beeting it was mostly from a lineman on the right side because all the damage is on the left.

My other favorite gift was a backscratcher that collapsed down and looks remarkably like…


 …the monkey paw from Halloween II on The Simpsons!


This tickled my funnybone to no end. But that’s what jumps up and surprises you when you get presents. I mean, that thing might have cost a couple of bucks…but I just thought it was waaaaaaaaay cool.

Again, I didn’t want it and didn’t need it, and found humor and joy in just receiving it.

Probably my favorite one ever, though, was getting this cool antique in amongst my gifts. I still think it’s one of the most clever things ever wrapped and given to me. Mint condition, too.

But it always reminds me of the biggest thing to do through all the Christmas hoopla with one artfully crafted word…