Month: June 2008

Monday Moanin’

I want to revisit the birding issue. Looking back at my post, it was too harsh. Someone once told me, “Don’t question another person’s hobbies.” It’s good advice. Birding is no more inane than any other hobby. Heck, it’s arguably no more inane than blogging. Because I think blogging is a type of literary pursuit, albeit often a shallow one, I tend to put it above birding, beer can collecting, and NASCAR, but it’s not really my place to establish an hierarchal ordering of pursuits. (If birding is below blogging but above NASCAR watching–which would be my opinion–what’s below NASCAR? Hurling one’s own excrement like a caged monkey? Some learned men might disagree.) Anyway, I don’t really feel like sitting in judgment on other people’s hobbies, hence the appropriateness of the advice, “Don’t question another person’s hobbies.” I do, however, request better application of the corollary advice (which I caught a glimmer of in Bill’s comment): Don’t question somebody if they don’t share your hobby.

Is that French? A New Mexico appeals court on Friday ruled against a Los Alamos man who wanted to change his name to a phrase containing a popular four-letter obscenity. The man appealed after a state district judge in Bernalillo County refused his request to change his name to “F– Censorship!”

I’ve been to Flint. Get ready to build more Folsom Ramadas: A town’s new police chief has banned low hung trousers that expose wearers’ bums. Police Chief David R Dicks, of Flint, Michigan, says his officers will arrest people who wear their pants too low.

Is she pro-gay or merely yearning for free Big Macs? Queen Elizabeth owns a drive-through McDonald’s burger restaurant, the Royal accounts have revealed.

Hey man, that’s what started the plague that killed off 95% of … Read the rest


If you haven’t figured it out, I’m on vacation this week. It’s my family’s annual trip to Houghton Lake with my wife’s family: 40 in-laws for seven days. I actually enjoy it (click here for article that marked my softening stance toward the annual event; previous links about Houghton Lake: 1, 2), though I probably wouldn’t select it as my preferred vacation spot (my preference: staying home). My wife’s family has been doing this for 50 years. It’s a kind of family “staying power” that you simply don’t witness anymore in the modern world. Truly remarkable, and it’s a politcal shot at all big government types. I’ve been reading Michael Burleigh’s Earthly Powers, and he points out–echoing de Tocqueville and Robert Nisbet and many others–that totalitarians (and wannabe totalitarians, like FDR and LBJ–my editorial aside) hate the family because it, along with the Church, is one of the two biggest intermediary institutions that insulate individuals from the state.

Notwithstanding my immense respect for a vacation week that isn’t my ideal week, I didn’t get here until late Monday night because my son Jack had a little league playoff game. He opted to miss the first two days of vacation because he didn’t want to let down his team . . . and he flat-out loves to play. He wanted to know if we could drive home for Friday’s game, then drive back up Friday night. I informed him I simply wasn’t willing to spend $100 and eight hours of driving so he could help get his team to the semi-finals, where’d they meet one of the league’s two gorilla teams, just so we could squeeze one more day out of vacation. He hung his head a bit but he understood.

Beer has been abundant. My … Read the rest

Thursday Top Ten

You might be lethargic if:

10. Kneeling and standing during church cause you to break a sweat.
9. You break a sweat taking a shower.
8. You have nightmares about losing your TV remote.
7. You’ve tried to scam a handicap license plate.
6. You think Internet surfing is a sport.
5. You go to the store because it’s such a nice day.
4. Any distance over fifty yards is presumptively a car drive.
3. You didn’t know they made adult-sized bicycles.
2. You don’t think you can make it to the end of this list without a nap (then again, maybe that’s the list-assembler’s fault).
1. You need a rest after your bowel movements.… Read the rest

Wednesday Top Ten

During my term as editor of Gilbert Magazine, a wise man passed this along to me:

You’re not a writer if

10. You don’t really believe that good writing is re-writing.
9. You’ve never spent over fifteen minutes trying find one single best word.
8. You’ve never written a first draft of which not one phrase made it to your final draft.
7. You’ve never put aside a written piece for a week or a month so you could return to it with fresh eyes.
6. You find it easy to produce a good one-thousand word essay in a single day.
5. You don’t routinely put your work into the hands of a candid friend who knows good writing from bad.
4. You don’t believe in your heart that if your writing is misunderstood, it’s your fault, not the reader’s fault.
3. You’ve never torn up a written piece over which you’ve slaved so that you might begin again from scratch.
2. You never read your written pieces out loud (to hear awkwardly expressed passages).
1. You write to express yourself and not to communicate something to an audience. … Read the rest

Tuesday Top Ten

Top Ten List: You might have a book obsession if:

10. You’ll never be able to finish all the books you’ve started.
9. You’re kinda surprised there’s not a medical term to describe a disordered erotic attraction to books.
8. You don’t think the word “disordered” was unnecessary in the previous sentence.
7. You’ve ever turned down your spouse’s advances because you’re reading.
6. You’ve ever joined one of the folio book clubs that sell over-prized elegant books.
5. You think paperbacks are to the book world what pornography is to the film industry.
4. It infuriates you that the Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to keep his TV but doesn’t provide a similar exemption for a book collection.
3. You’re mad about that Bankruptcy Code thing because your book buying has put you on the verge of bankruptcy.
2. You’ve ever contemplated, “What book should be my next bathroom reading book?”
1. You’ve ever considered putting a book shelf in your bathroom.… Read the rest

Monday Moanin’

Chicago is under siege. By blackbirds. “Nesting season is in full swing for the red-winged blackbird, making the males extremely aggressive. Walk or bike too close to one’s nest and expect to hear its high, menacing squawk overhead. Then comes the peck-peck-peck on your head, victims say, or claws rustling your hair.”

I can sympathize. My children found a battered baby bird sixteen days ago. They put it in a box and fed it cat food (funny aside: my 11-year-old got ruffled when his sister started to buy chicken cat food: “Chicken is a bird. You can’t feed him birds!”). We didn’t think the thing would live, but it did. It can now fly and apparently find some food on its own, but it still comes to us for feedings and it has no fear of humans. If he gets at all hungry and we don’t feed him, he attacks us: he bit my daughter’s arm, has flown onto almost all of us, and has pecked our feet. He even follows my sons to neighboring houses when they play baseball and torments all the kids. A friend told me yesterday (after his wife came to our house and was attacked) that starlings are mean birds. The feedings stop after today. If he continues to attack, I’ll call in the bb gun.… Read the rest