Recent Posts

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Beth called me today. She sang "Happy Birthday" to me over the phone (which is our (weird) and lovely little tradition).

Sidebar thought: she's so good with taking care of her family and remembering to call. I admire her. I, on the other hand, am so lazy and forgetful and selfish -- I bet I forget to call her on her birthday at least once every 3 years, if not every other year or so. What a maroon.

She told me that one of the advantages -- the only advantage, really -- of being this old is that now everyone will think the odd and quirky things I do are "cute". The things I do that used to make them shake their heads and call me a jerk now make them smile and call me "feisty", or "spunky" (for an old guy).

Friday, July 29, 2005


Well, tonight my family is taking me out for my, um, 50th birthday...tomorrow is it.

Doesn't actually bother me too much, although if I had my druthers I'd druther be turning 30. Still, it is what is it; I am what I am.

So. Tomorrow I'm not exactly middle-aged...I'm somewhere in my late middle age.

At least I'm smarter.

God, how I wish that were true.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Hatin' Computers

I set up Xbox Live for Michael a few weeks ago. I had severe doubts about my ability to make it work, but it went pretty smoothly. Basically, I set up his PC with internet sharing (it connects to the home network via a wireless USB antenna); then I connected his Xbox to the PC through another NIC card in the PC and a crossover ethernet cable. Worked great (and Xbox Live is really pretty cool).

He plays Halo against (and teamed with) people from all over the world; and he can talk to and hear 'em through the headset. It plays fast and effective, and it's pretty impressive.

Until about a week ago.....he shut it off (properly); and later when he tried to connect again, it wouldn't connect. It kept flinging errors about being unable to validate the IP address; or unable to verify the DNS through the network gateway....bunch of crap, frankly. Nothing had changed.

And I've now done everything I can think of to get it back online. I've manually set IP addresses on the PC and the Xbox (and tried every permutation of manual IP addresses on one box with automatic addresses on the other); I've set up alternate MAC addresses and DNS addresses and and and....nothin'.

I tried for about two hours last night....nothin' worked. Yeesh. Monumentally annoying. Trust me -- monumentally.

I'm going to talk to Wowway today, though -- maybe they can give some specific insight into what to try.


Today is one of those rare (and perfect) days in Cleveland). Jan and the kids are at Dover Lake. After weeks of 90+ degrees (and outrageous humidity), it's almost too cold today, although I have no doubt they'll survive and enjoy it. God knows I was always swimming when it was anywhere above 60(ish). The water will be plenty warm.

Tuesday night, I went out with Mike and Tom Hach (along with Jen (of course)). I think it's cool that Jen likes doing the same things as Tom and is always with him -- except, maybe, for the "always" part. Still, I know it makes him happy, and he deserves some happy.

I'm trying to fast today (only until dinner, after all). Stomach is kind of growling right now, but it's good for me once in a while....good for my spirit (and not a bad thing for my huge belly, either). Maybe (I doubt it, but maybe) I'll do it once a week. Let's see how today goes, though, first.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Half-Blood Prince

I finished "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" last night. This one is far darker and more intense than any of the others, and I liked it very much. Took me a little more than week to read (really, I probably read it in 4 sessions).

(Spoiler alert -- don't read any further if you haven't read it but intend to!)

The one thing I always found a little weak in the books was the unrelenting nastiness of Snape and Malfoy. Yes, Snape did have his moments (sort of) of redemption (when he tried to save Harry during the Quidditch match in the first book, for example); and yes, Snape did become a (slightly) more sympathetic character in the 5th book (when we saw Harry's dad cruelly taunting him). But Harry never felt anything but hatred for either character, and I found that a little one-dimensional.

In this book, this book, Snape reveals his true evil duplicity, and Malfoy (after becoming a Death Eater) shows some fear and even compassion (or at least an unwillingness to utterly embrace evil). Harry gains a small sympathy for Draco and a final and complete hatred for Snape. Both character arcs made this one far more interesting to me....although it's still hard to fathom Snapes coldly murdering Dumbledore. I wonder if we've actually heard the last of Dumbledore (I've been wondering the same thing about Sirius).

This one was a thrilling read, and Harry's embracing of his cold loneliness and singular destiny made the ending of this one uniquely dark and compelling.

I have to admit, I enjoyed them all, but this is the first one that I legitimately enjoyed on its own, without needing/wanting to share it with Michael and Jan. I just liked it.


Yesterday I spent the day spinning my wheels on Installshield. It's a pretty good installer, but man it is hard to find your way through it. The documentation is terrible -- it's almost impossible to know how to ask the right questions, and even when you do, figuring out how to really do anything is a torture.

Last night I cooked a nice dinner for the four of us, and then basically chilled out. I finished reading the 6th Harry Potter book (which I very much enjoyed).

I commented yesterday how good it felt to be productive. It also felt pretty good last night to be unproductive. Maybe I'm just lazy by nature, huh?

Monday, July 25, 2005


I didn't do much on Friday night, but Saturday and Sunday (especially Saturday) I busted hump, trying to get things done around the house. I fixed the sliding screen door, I fixed both bi-fold closet doors, I did quite a bit of housecleaning (including actually making a clear path in the bedroom), I did a ton of laundry, and I bought and laid a bunch of bricks.

I put a curved step leading from the driveway to the porch (mirroring the one by the door, but made entirely of bricks). I also laid some bricks down the edge of the driveway. I will continue the driveway edging all the way down to the mailbox.

Sunday night I had a theatre marketing meeting. Afterwards, Jan and I sipped rum and cokes on the front porch. She had spent the weekend in her "survivor weekend" at camp (which went terrifically). Between her weekend and mine (and the rum), it didn't take long for both of us to peter out....but it was one of those weekends that really made me feel worthwhile and productive.

's been too little of that lately.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sax Man

So, I heard Dave play last night. I kinda figured he'd be just a sax player among the many band members....but it was only the guy on keyboard, a drummer, and Dave. The guy from the Drifters was excellent (what a voice!), and he did a lot of different songs in different genres.

Dave didn't know a lot of the songs, but he just hung on long enough to pick up the key and the progressions, and then he was off, wailin' and providing color to the songs. It was a pretty impressive performance -- just being able to improvise like that.

Towards the end of the evening, an older gentleman (I'm guessin' 65 or so) stood up and started dancing, all by himself. His eyes were closed, and he was just happy. Watching him in his cheery reverie made me happy -- what a cool thing it is to make music that is so compelling that people have to stand and dance.

Unfortunately, that was the last time he'll be able to play that particular gig -- the bar itself is being closed. I'm hopin' that Dave gets to play with him again somewhere else, though. They really did do amazingly well together.


Last night was one of those ridiculously silly busy nights....Michael had a tournament game; I had a theatre board meeting; and Dave Millen played his gig on his sax at the Spotlight Inn in Berea.

I didn't make the game -- neither did Michael, as a matter of fact. They couldn't find it. They went to the fields at the Rec center, and the fields on Foltz, and the fields at the old Rec. Couldn't find the game, and no one in the Rec center seemed to have a clue or a calendar.

I went to the meeting (where the board approved the creation of a glossy brochure for the SCT.

Then I went to hear Dave play, which was very cool.

Never made it home from work until after he played, but it was worth it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Ick again

Well, Michael and I went back to the Jake last night, our theory being that the Tribe couldn't possibly produce another game as bad as the last one.


They got beat by a very bad pitcher (ERA over 7) on a very bad team (Royals have already lost 60 games) that played badly (K.C. made errors and mental mistakes all over the field).


Still, we had a good time together, drinking lemonade and making fun of the stupidity on the field, so there was that.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Well, last night's game was right up there with the worst I've ever seen. Basically, the worst pitcher on the second worst team in the majors (the guy's record is 2-11, with an ERA well over 6) shut us out.

Nothing happened. Indians marching to plate and getting cut down, inning after inning. Yeesh.

We're going again tonight -- it promises to at least be better than that. Doesn't it?

Mackenzie had plans to go to Hilton Head next week with one of her friends (and her friend's grandparents), but the plans just fell through. I feel so bad for her. I'm going to take a day of vacation next week and take her and Lauren to the beach, and then to dinner. Try to make at least one good/fun day for her.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Tonight, Michael and I are going to see the Indians play. They've got The Royals, so their chances look pretty good (even though they've been playing lousy lately).

Last night, I actually accomplished something (not a hell of a lot, but something) on the garage.

I'm amazed, too.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Dave Millen re-took up his saxophone a few years ago, and has gotten very into his music. It's pretty cool and admirable (and he's gotten, I understand, quite good (doubly impressive for a guy who never took a lesson)).

A few months ago, he played at an open microphone night, just for the heck of it. One of the guys in the audience used to play keyboards for "The Drifters", and he came up to Dave afterwards and talked to him, told him that Dave was very good -- and he invited Dave to come hear him at a gig he was playing in Berea.

So Dave went. The guy recognized Dave, and from the stage, invited Dave to come up and jam with them. Dave happened to have his sax in the car with him, but he said he couldn't, he didn't know any of the tunes, so forth.....but the guy insisted, so Dave went up and jammed with them. Basically, he watched the guy's bass hand and just tried to improvise around the chords he was playing.

He was holding his own, more or less, until the guy suddenly turned to him and said "Take it, Dave!" Thrust into the spotlight, he improvised a solo (that must have gone pretty well). The guy invited Dave to join them on a permanent gig.

I'm going to hear him Thursday night at The Spotlight Cafe in Berea. This is so cool!


Jan threw a "surprise" birthday party for me yesterday (as previously noted, I found out about it before the event). It was really nice. Really nice.

Lots of people there (family (her family, anyway), John and Val Kondilas, several friends from Strongsville Community Theatre, Dave and Cindy Millen, others) -- it really made me feel nice. To be in a room full of people I love, to whom I mattered enough for them to give up a Sunday for me, was pretty exceptionally moving.

Everyone brought me a bottle (or bottles) of beer -- I got "Old Pranquester", and "Old Dead Guy Ale", and "Old Leghumper", among others. So far, the ones I've tasted have all been pretty good.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Cool it with the Boom-Booms

Storms and rain (on the very dry ground) yesterday. Swim meet cancelled; baseball game cancelled.....

Chilled at Harpo's. Two days in a row for me - very unusual. Not a bad time, though -- the whole family went, as well as 5 girls from Mackenzie's swim team.

Mostly, I am mentally preparing (hell, I am already mentally outa here) for vacation.

Sunday afternoon is my big surprise party -- oh boy, I'm gonna be so surprised. Jan invited everyone to the party -- including me. Oops. She asked everyone not to bring presents, but to bring a micro-brew or an interesting bottle of beer. What a cool idea that is!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Failing Authors

I've read a couple of books recently that very much disappointed me.

I just finished "The Sign of the Book". This was the fourth in a series about an ex-cop turned rare book dealer. The first was fascinating in its details about the book collecting world, and Cliff Janeway, the lead, was an interestingly tough/upright (if only a bit cliched) character.

By now, though, the series has run out of steam. This was a pretty good read -- he does know how to make you turn the pages -- but the ending was preposterous. First of all, the "who" in "whodunnit" was ridiculous. Worse was a looooong scene in which -- for no apparent or good reason -- the killer spent pages explaining everything that happened and why they did it. Yeesh.

Earlier this year, I finished Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series. After 7 books (and thousands of pages), Roland (the last gunslinger of Gilead) finally reached the tower. This has been -- make that had been -- a hell of a series. Inventive, engaging, and wholly unlike anything else he's written.

In the end, Roland's ka-tet (his unbreakable group of friends, joined by ka (destiny) and their unique love for one another) breaks up. This made me sad, although the book never promised that the ending would be purely saccharinely "happy". Part of the quest always included the risk of death, and the risk of severing the ka-tet. Roland still makes it to the tower and protects it.

However. How-damn-ever.

Roland finally enters the tower, alone (which had been his destiny and lifelong pursuit)....and then Stephen King drops the bomb. Roland has been in hell all along, and when he gets to the tower, he is doomed to REPEAT his quest he has already done innumerable times before.

What the hell is that? I ask you -- what the hell is that? How dare he? How DARE he? How could King let me invest this much time in his "magnum opus" only to find that I've been wasting my time? That I was not really travelling with the "last gunslinger" on a quest of glory, but rather was watching a small portion of a good man's journey through hell (without ending (and Roland is in this hell for no good reason, I might add)). King does sort of imply that Roland was trapped in this torture because he failed to pick up a glove during a battle, for whatever idiotic sense that makes (and he sort of implies that on Roland's next trip to the tower, he may find relief (because the next time, he did pick up the glove)). Still. How stupid, how unsatisfying, what an utter betrayal of my loyalty as a reader.

Yes, indeed, I sorely wasted my time and energy reading it.

It makes me so angry and put-upon that I swear I am done with Stephen King. Other than this series, I had not been a fan for a long time anyway, and now I am done.


The plans were to come home on time, relax a bit, clean the garage.

After a series of server re-boot issues (and an ugly Schindler report), I got home at about 7:00. Then Michael said "Let's go to Harpo's".

So we did. Played some trivia, ate wings and fries.

I didn't do monumentally well at the trivia, although in both games I played, I made the list of "recent high scores" there. Still, nationally I didn't do better than 250 or so.

Then later I helped Jan make paper mache' ostrich eggs. It's been a lifetime (or two) since I did paper mache'. Turns out it's no less messy in this lifetime.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Here's the things we've committed to this summer. Mind you, this list does not include things we do for ourselves -- these are the commitments we've made to other people:

Michael helped at Cub Scout Camp
Mackenzie helped at Cub Scout Camp
Michael helped at Cub weekend at Beaumont.
Michael did basketball camp for a week.
Michael played rec league baseball.
Jan helped at Vacation Bible school.
Mackenzie took cheerleading lessons.
Ted coordinated a new marketing group for Strongsville Community Theatre.
Mackenize swam on the swim team.
Jan helped set up for home swim meets.
Mackenzie babysat three days a week.
Jan coordinated (in incredible detail) the Girl Scout Survivor Camp.
Ted is helping plan and implement a script-writing contest for SCT.
Ted is writing a youth-tracking software package for church.

Additionally, I need to sand and re-stain the deck; re-tile the front steps; extend the driveway width by one brick; re-wire the front post light....and ongoing tasks include the remodeling of the kitchen and back rooms, finishing (finally!) the RaceTrak software, and my novel.

Gosh, I wonder why we're all so tired and cranky all the time.


Well, yesterday -- in theory -- Jan would take Michael to his game and Mackenzie to her swim meet; I would get to Michael's game around 6:00, then take him to Bonnie Park for a Troop 701 picnic.


Jan couldn't find her keys, Mackenzie didn't feel well, Michael didn't want to go to his game late, I got stuck at work (and then in an ugly traffic jam)......

Mackenzie ended up skipping her meet, Michael skipped his game....Jan and I took Michael to the picnic (although we, of course, brought no food), then got some KFC on the way home. That's it.

But you know what? Sometimes plans fall through, and that's quite okay with me. We do too much, and lately we've been doing way too much. So, circumstantial or not, we had a much less full evening (although still more full than I'd like evenings to be), and it was good.

Tonight -- ah, tonight! -- we have literally nothing on our schedule. Utterly stunningly amazing. I'm going to clean that darn garage.

I think.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Relatively Speaking

My Aunt Barb and Uncle Frank were in town last night. We're pretty close, although I so rarely see them (they live in Florida now). We met them at the Elks club with many of their old friends, and then went out for ice cream. Both of them are so friendly and fun, and the friends they still surround themselves are just exactly the same way. It's pretty cool to see.

It was really nice. I sometimes (often) forget how important family is.

I shouldn't. Family is one of -- if not the -- keystones of contentment. At least my family is.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Busy Fun Busy

Saturday I took another long hike in the metroparks (well, not that long, but still around 7 miles). I've now completed the hike from the lake to my house. I'll start on the next leg(s) (no pun intended) soon -- maybe even this coming weekend. Joe went with me, and that was pretty cool.

I must admit, I really like the solitude of hiking alone, but I also (very much) enjoyed the company. He says he'd like to do it some more, so I've decided that I'll simply invite him whenever I go, and if he can come along, great -- and if he can't, great. Works for me.

Saturday night I tried to (yet again) fix Grandma Z's computer (she's got a nasty virus). Could not get it cleaned. I'm going to reformat her hard drive and just start all over. If I could get my hands on the bastard that wrote this one, I don't know what I'd do. Infuriating.

Yesterday, I drove to Ashtabula and picked up Michael at Beaumont (he had been there for the weekend, helping with Cub camp). Then in the afternoon, Mackenzie and I went to the Cain Park Arts Festival. Really nice, that.

I was so pleased that she went with me. Either she went because she truly enjoys such events (which pleases me), or because she wanted to spend time with me (which pleases me). I kinda think it was both, which very much pleases me.

Last night, the (brand new) marketing arm of the Strongsville Community Theatre met for the first time. Linda K. and I were the only ones who attended, but we still got a lot talked about and fair amount decided. I hope we're not going to have to constantly struggle to get attendance (and more important, to get work done), though.

Friday, July 08, 2005


About a month ago, I broke a molar (yeah, yeah, I know -- drink more milk). It's sharp, and my tongue was getting just lacerated. I saw the dentist, who put some temporary crap in there before scheduling me for a crown.

When I asked how much the crown was, they told me $950, of which my (useless) dental insurance would pay about $400....which would leave me with over $500 to pay out of pocket. Yeesh. So I told him I needed to think about it (intending to get another price from another dentist).

And, of course, I then did nothing about it, until the temporary crap came out last weekend, and started re-slashing my tongue.

So. I'm seeing another dentist today (who would not quote me a price for the crown over the phone). I'm sure he'll put in some more temporary crap -- and if his price is too high, I'll shop elsewhere again....although this time I >will< shop (if I have to).

For the record -- I really hate dentists. Slow torture.

Last night I sat on the porch in the perfect evening, listening to the waterfall and reading "The Sign of the Book" (one of the Cliff Janeway bookman novels). Later, I took Michael, Mackenzie, and two of their friends to Harpo's. We all played trivia, and ate oily fatty unhealthy wonderful bar food. It was a good night.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Here's what I planned for yesterday:

Watch what I eat (rededicated to the diet)
Clean the garage
Set up bike (to ride this morning)

Here's what I did yesterday:
Slimfast for lunch
Burger King for dinner; cherry pie at 10:30 last night
Ignored the garage (was with Mackenzie at cheerleading)
Ignored the bike.


So. Here's what I have planned for today:
Watch what I eat.
Clean the garage.
Set up bike (to ride tomorrow)

Too Full

I don't know how the heck this happens. I spend the whole fall, winter, and spring doing doing doing things -- building sets, making music in the church, fulfilling a billion different responsibilities.

Finally summer arrives. The kids are out of school, so (in theory) we can do things at night, take long weekends, sit together out on the porch. I always plan to relax and enjoy some free time. But then Mackenzie swims on the swim team, Michael plays basketball and baseball, they both help at Cub Scout camp, Mackenzie cheerleads....and I end up having to go somewhere every single weeknight. Last night, I had to drive Mackenzie to cheerleading. Didn't get home until around 9:00. All this will continue until early August, when we'll take a vacation...then school starts right up again.

Gets pretty exhausting, and I have no idea how to stop the cycle.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Yesterday at work was a day for cleaning up odd tasks, taking care of all those little things that have been nipping at my cosmic heels.

Last night, Michael's baseball team lost yet another game to a team they should well have beat. Michael got an iffy hit in his first at bat, but then in his second at bat he watched two fat pitches go by for a called strikeout. I asked him what he was thinking -- they were good pitches to hit. Why'd he leave the bat on his shoulder?

He said that the pitcher had been throwing only balls (which was true), and that he didn't expect him to throw strikes. But when he did throw strikes, why didn't he swing? Michael said he didn't know -- maybe he was thinking too much. Just the way I used to play sports -- letting my thinking interfere with "see the ball; hit the ball".

Today I rededicate myself to my diet, to my working out. I want to start riding my bike in the mornings -- seems like a really great way to start the day, see some things. I'm going to clean the garage tonight (to get my bike down), then get the bike set up (which mostly implies inflating the tires). Tomorrow (hopefully) I will ride before work.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Busy Weekend

The weekend was full, and very pleasantly enjoyable.

Saturday I worked in the yard -- tons of weeding (and digging out the stupid Lilies of the Valley (which spread like (evil mutant) weeds). Sunday, we went to the Holden Arboretum, which was awesomely beautiful and huge. Sunday night the family went to the Drive-In and saw a double feature: "War of the Worlds", and "The Longest Yard".

Yesterday, the 4th, we went to Beth's (as we almost always do). Muggy and hot, we still had just the nicest time, eating, talking, and then walking down to see the fireworks.

Michael cleaned my clock at Ping-Pong, which (I'm sure) delighted him (especially since he knows that I don't throw games. I really did try to beat him).

Nice time we had (and why do I suddenly write like Yoda?).

Two Movies

I saw "War of the Worlds" and "The Longest Yard on Sunday night. Don't read any further if you intend to see these movies, 'cause I might reveal a thing or two.....

"War of the Worlds" was not bad -- not even close to the "A-" the PD rated it -- but not bad. The movie had its moments. In particular, in one scene, a group of dazed survivors approach a train track when the crossing gates suddenly close. A passenger train roars past them, utterly engulfed in flames. Flames pour out of every window. It's a shocking image; made more shocking when the camera then cuts back to the survivors. The gates open, and they cross the tracks, showing no real reaction to the blazing train. They've already been scarred and scared beyond reaction.

For most of "The Longest Yard", I sat there hating it. Adam Sandler is no Burt Reynolds (and if
that ain't damning, nothin' is. The movie had no subtlety, no charm, no charisma....and frankly, no reason to exist.

That said, the final football game -- with its formulaic and utterly predictable ending -- still grabbed me. Not enough to recommend that anyone should see this movie, mind you....

Friday, July 01, 2005

Sporty Pages

I wonder what it is that makes us -- many of us, anyway -- actually care about our local sports teams. The Browns stunk again last season...and it was a needle in my eyes. Again.

But why? It's not like these guys are from Cleveland, or actually even live here....or know or care about anyone here (except as sick-baby-in-the-hospital-photo-ops). Being a Browns' fan is an exercise in choosing to fool ourselves. This group of guys manages to (occasionally) win a game, and we're chanting "We won". Pretty sure the idea that we had anything to do with it is a canard.

So, knowing it's foolish and delusional to care, what will I be doing this weekend? Socializing with family...which will include a lot of watching the Indians play the Tigers. And right now the Indians are hot.

This makes me happy. So I'm a delusional fool. Sue me.


I just recorded my company's voicemail night message. They ask me to do this every time it changes (like before or after a holiday).

Like most people, my voice sounds funny to me when I hear it back. I've done it often enough, though, to be able to do it without too much winceage....and I am told that my recorded voice ain't the worst ever. It has been trained, some (and my (brief) work as a professional DJ probably helped a bit, too).

Here's a question: assuming the voice >ain't< all that bad, how does one break into voiceover work? I've thought about it, from time to time. Seems like easy and satisfying something and go home.

I might look into it.