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Saturday, August 27, 2005

As Simple As Snow

I just finished the book "As Simple As Snow"

Um, what would be emoticon for "absurdly, passionately, bone-chillingly frustrated"? If there was one (and if I used emoticons), this would be the place for it.

Well-written and haunting, the book creates memorable characters with mysterious backgrounds and inexplicable motivations. The plot layers mystery upon mystery, grabbing you, begging you to read to the conclusion....

....said conclusion then containing no answers at all.

Stick a damn needle in my eye, willya?

I mean, I'm not (one hopes (or at least I hope)) a total cretin, and I like having my brain engaged in a good read. In fact, if I remain unengaged I'm unlikely to want to finish the book. But c'mon. You can't make me read it and then explain nothing!

Anna she dead? Or pretending to be dead?
Anna communicates with the narrator from the dead...or does she?
Anna hated the art teacher, for no reason we can readily discern (yet the art teacher is a mysterious character, so we want to know what happened there).
Anna listens to shortwave radio channels that broadcast nothing more than continual strings of numbers. What's that about?
The narrator's best friend leaves town (or is he dead, too?). Later he returns -- where was he? Why did he leave?

These and a kabillion other mysteries create a dense and intricate fascinating world...but they all remain unanswered. Nothing at all gets answered. Nothing.

Especially the most mysterious question of all -- why did I spend so damn many hours reading the stupid thing?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


We spent last weekend in Cincinnati (and Dayton). The whole family plus Bradley.

Friday night we drove down to Dayton. Saturday we went to King's Island for the day.

In between those two events, we went to Pizza Hut, where those of us who ate from the salad bar (everyone except Michael) got food poisoning. Up half the night puking. Very nice -- and very conducive to a day spent on roller coasters.

Actually, I didn't puke, but I did have cold sweats and dizziness and a heck of a head-thumper. All of us felt (mostly) better by Saturday, though, and we did go to the park. It was a hot day (upper 90's), but we managed, and had a great time.

I spent time riding coasters with the boys; also spent time doing other stuff with the girls (including some (yep) shopping, and a (pretty cheesy) show called "The School Of Rock Stage Show").

Sunday we went to "The Beach", a water park near King's Island. Was a perfect day weather-wise, and everyone got enough sliding in to be satisfied.

I am now officially sick of driving, though.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I'm back

Back in the office today.


Um, yeah, yay.

Well, actually, I work for a great company and I like my job. I still would rather be on vacation, though.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Meeshigan Too

The next day on our vacation was spent on Mackinac Island. Nice, but not at all what we expected. We kind of expected a mini-Nantucket, but in fact it was more like a glorified Myrtle Beach. All of the little shops on main street sell nothing but crap trinkets and souvenirs; and the entire island seems to smell of horse urine.

The B & B we stayed in, though, was spectacular. Huge main room, nice second room (right off the main room) for the kids to sleep in. We set up a little table in there, and Michael taught us all euchre. It was truly a lot of fun.

Frankly, euchre in the B & B was probably the highlight of the vacation.

From Mackinac, we drove down to Frankenmuth and stayed in Saginaw (in kind of a dumpy Howard Johnson's). We had a run-in with some jerks at dinner. They made us feel very uncomfortable, and truly ruined the evening and our anniversary dinner.


We ended by driving to Hell, Michigan (just to say we "went to Hell"), and then to Greenfield Village (which we liked very much (in fact, we bought a family membership)).

The vacation, all in all, was a welcome break from work and home stresses -- but did not make any of our lists of favorite vacations.

Turns out 1,000,000 Ohio State fans are right.


We spent the first week of vacation in Michigan. Was nice, although (in retrospect) I didn't plan it well. We spent too much car time driving between too many places. We'd have been better to spend longer in each place and see fewer things.

Especially since most of the things we saw were "okay", but nothing great.

The first day, we drove (and drove) to Grayling, Michigan (intending to bed there, and get an early start the next day for Traverse City). When we went to bed, Mackenzie complained that her eyes hurt.

Well, on Tuesday morning, she woke up crusty. Pink eye.

So we spent the better part of Tuesday morning finding a doctor that would evaluate her. Then, since she (of course) did not bring her glasses with her (God forbid), and couldn't wear her contacts, we had to find a quickie eyeglass place. We ended up getting her prescription faxed to a place in the Traverse City mall, but by the time the glasses were made, it was already 3:30.

We did manage to get to Sleeping Bear Dunes, and also managed to buy some cherries (which, frankly, was one of the most important reasons to go to Traverse City), but we weren't able to make much of a day of it, and then had to head off for St. Ignace for the night. The drive to St. Ignace was three hours of fighting pouring/gushing/Noah rain.

One short night in a motel, then we drove to Munising (2 hours or so) to take a glass-bottomed boat tour over some shipwrecks. Interesting -- maybe not quite worth the drive and the cost ($100!), but still interesting.

We then headed to the Au Sable lighthouse, which promised to be interesting because you literally walk right past old shipwrecks on the beach on the way to the lighthouse. Well, we got there after the lighthouse had closed, but still took the walk.....and on said walk, we passed one old board -- maybe 8" by 24 " -- with a piece of metal on it. That's it.

That's it? That's the famed Au Sable shipwrecks?



Friday, August 05, 2005

Day Off (and Days Off)

I took the day off yesterday, and Mackenzie and I spent a lovely/wonderful/perfect day together. We went to Mentor Headlands beach (where we swam and collected cool-looking stones to put around the pond). Then we had lunch at Pickle Bill's (which was very cool -- sat on the deck right on the Grand River, ate really good food, fed the ducks and geese, watched the boats cruise by, talked, laughed...).

Then we tried our hand at fishing at Holden Arboretum. Had some bites, but didn't catch anything (I don't think her and I were wholly into the fishing). Still had a nice time there, though.

Last night, we went to the Indian's game. Watched a pretty disappointing ending (Wickman blew a save in the 9th (which kept us from sweeping the Yankees)), but it didn't ruin the day.

Next week, I'm taking the whole week off. Going to Michigan for vacation. Yay for off time!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Yesterday the Day after Tomorrow

Yesterday was reasonably good. I (finally) rolled the 20/20 product release. I then (finally) made some serious progress in cleaning the garage (today being garbage day is a good thing, too).

Last night, Mackenzie and I ordered a pizza and sat down together to watch a movie. We rented "The Day After Tomorrow" (which was her idea). I have to admit I (sorta) liked it. It was not what you might call a good movie, in the sense of having a good script, or good characterization, or good, you know, anything....but it was entertaining, and Roland Emmerich really does know how to blow stuff up .

Pretty dumb, though, really....especially when Dennis Quaid felt he had to travel -- on foot! -- through a storm supercell that had already been identified as being capable of freezing a man solid in seconds. Why? To save, apparently, his son (who was doing just fine in a warm library).

When he got there, what exactly did he do? He hugged him (and got warm (thanks to the son's fire)). This is almost as dumb as the bimbo venturing into the dark basement alone when she knows there's a killer in the house. No, it isn't -- it's dumber.

It then adds really dumb scenes, like the (really! dumb) scene in which they characters race down a hallway, pursued in some odd and unconvincing way by.....frost.

But he does know how to wreck buildings...and did I enjoy cuddling on the couch with her and eating pizza? Yep. Very much yep.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Last night, Mackenzie and I had a pretty unpleasant little battle. She had been sitting on AIM for hours (at least 1.5 hours, from the time I had gotten home). I asked her if she had taken Pepsi for a walk.

One of her jobs is to take Pepsi for a walk every day. Like many of her jobs, though, she does it when it suits her. Anyway, she had not taken Pepsie for a walk; hadn't since Friday night (when I made her do it). I bugged her about it; she said she'd do it tomorrow (to which I replied "Yes, you will, because it's your job every day!"); her leg hurt; she was tired; she didn't want to do it.

I asked if she was going to do it, and she said no. So I put my shoes on to take Pepsi for a walk; then I went upstairs and unplugged the USB wireless network antenna from the upstairs computer. I told Mackenzie she can have AIM back when she takes Pepsi for a walk tonight and the next day.

She was UPSET. She told me she was gonna do it, I was being unfair. I told her, again, she could have AIM back when she walks Pepsi for a couple of days. I put the leash on Pepsi and went out. Mackenzie came along, but walked 10 paces in front of me, in angry silence. After about 10 minutes, I said "Hey", and made her take the dog. The two of them then walked 10 paces in front of me in silence.

What bothers me most is that she is always so 'Mackenzie-first'. I know she was not upset because she thought she had made a mistake -- she was upset because I took away a privilege, and because I refused to give the privilege back when she did walk the dog. She always wants to do the minimum to 'make things right', and then expects everything to be forgotten and okay.

When we got home, she marched right up to her room and crawled into her bed. I went in there and told her, gently, that what really made me sad was that even though she says she loves Jan, loves Pepsi, loves me, I don't believe her. It's hard to believe she loves anyone except herself.

Another example: Jan commented on Friday that none of them had gotten me anything for my birthday (which was fine -- I don't need gifts). It would have been nice, though, for them to have gotten me a card or something -- something to make me think they had thought of me. Anyway, Jan said on Friday that maybe we'd go out on Saturday or Sunday and shop for me.

So, Sunday Mackenzie, Jan and I went to the mall. Mackenzie strictly shopped for herself (and I split off and bought some things for myself (three shirts)). At one point I said (semi-jokingly) to Mackenzie that I thought she was going to shop for me. She made a wry face, like I was just being stupid. I said "Isn't that what we were supposed to be doing?" She didn't answer at all.

I know exactly what was going through her mind -- she knew that she should have been with me, shopped for me (at least some of the time), but she didn't want to give up shopping for herself and getting all the clothes she was getting (which were a lot). So she was simply silent.

Again, I don't need gifts -- that wasn't the point at all. But I do wish she had cared enough about me to want to give me at least a card....and the thing is, I do believe she would have wanted to give me something -- but in choosing between getting something for me and something for herself, the choice was (unfortunately) easy.

And that bothers me a lot.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

We watched "Million Dollar Baby" over the weekend. Everything everyone said about it was true -- this was the work of three actors on top of their game, and a competent and understated director who stays out of the way.

The performances by Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman were (as usual) filled with nuance and unspoken power....but Hillary Swank's performance just blistered off the screen. Glowing with an innocent charisma enfused with the fire of her inner drive, she carried the film as the titular character, the driving force of the plot, and the center of the moral storm.

If I were to fault this movie, it would be for the one-sided presentation of the right-to-die debate. A movie that had, until the ending, been colored in shades upon shadows of gray became a fairly black-and-white examination of the issue. Now, my own liberal sensibilities were not particularly offended by that, but I wish the movie had been a little less sure of itself, had agonized a bit more about the difficulties of the decision.

Still, while perhaps not a perfect movie, "Million Dollar Baby" is nothing short of terrific, and (yet another) tour de force for Clint Eastwood.

Every Minute Full

Friday night, my mother-in-law went to Houlihan's with us to celebrate my birthday. I've never had a bad meal there, and Friday was no exception. Like a good carnivore, I had a steak (covered in a cabernet sauce (decadently (and voraciously) good).

Saturday was the big family surprise party for Mike Hach. What a party -- slaughtered a couple of kegs of beer; well over 100 people there (probably closer to 150). We reserved a party center on 130th -- the place had a lake and a huge field. It worked out great. Volleyball, basketball, bocce ball, kick ball (lots of balls, I'm noticing). Many of us (including Mackenzie and I) pitched tents and stayed the night. There was the traditional all-night campfire, with guitars and singing. Mackenzie spent most of her time with Megan Hach, and they seemed to get along really nicely.

Saturday, I also turned 50....and I'm still alive.

Sunday morning, Michael left for Boy Scout camp. We saw him off at 8:00. It's cool -- last year he was pretty stressed out about going, but this year was looking forward to it. He should return having earned his First Class rank, along with three merit badges (Canoeing and a couple of others that I can't think of right now).

Last night I put some more bricks edging the driveway. Man, it looks nice -- the bricks add an elegant look to the drive, and the way the bricks integrate with the step leading to the porch really pulls the whole area together. We've really made a nice little garden around that pond.