Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Writers Block of Cheese

I wanted to write a post tonight, but could not think of a thing to say. But then I got an IM from Scott. He asked if I had read his latest post. I had. It was a good one. I told him so and that he ought to write more often. From that point our IM exchange went like this:

scottmonkeyboy77 9:46 pm: i have bdd

danthemanimal 9:48 pm: bdd?

9:48 pm: blogger deficit disorder. find it hard to write stuff everyday.

9:48 pm: agree

9:49 pm: you come up with killer posts all the time.

9:49 pm: nah. but thanks
9:49 pm: I've hit a bit of a block lately

9:49 pm: guess you can always write about cheese

9:50 pm: good idea. it's a challenge. Tonight I write about cheese.

9:51 pm: block of cheese. turning writers block into gourmet cheese
9:51 pm: and the style is cheesy of course

9:51 pm: writers block of cheese

9:51 pm: sounds tasty

And then as usual our conversation flipped to a totally different subject. Absolutely no segue. It is important to note however, that we are both "fathers of daughters" with three girls each.

scottmonkeyboy77 9:53 pm: you gonna try again for a son

9:55: that would require lots of debate... I think we're done... for now

9:56 pm: yup.

9:56 pm: you going for boy?

9:57 pm: i don't think so.

9:58 pm: get a dog

9:58 pm: or a penguin
9:59 pm: go write the cheese report

So there you go. A post about an IM chat between to guys talking about cheese, babies and penguins... The Cheese Report. Was it any gouda?

In fairness to Scott I have changed his IM name here to keep him from getting unsolicited IM's. I'll let you guess if mine is real or not.


Monday, November 27, 2006

What The Fleck???

I found this site while surfing around from link to link today on a couple of sites I frequent to get my geek fix in. I've played around with it a little bit and think this could possibly be a very cool tool to help share thoughts on web sites without having to take screen grabs, dump them into a Powerpoint deck and then make notes and arrows to point out what you want to talk about or share. There are a few bugs still to be worked out, like being able to make notes within a flash component of a site, lock the notes in place to a site like a blog (they stay in same location on the screen, but if new content is added and the notes refer to specific content they will be out of place). Overall, though I like the idea and think its pretty neat.

Here's what they builders of Fleck have to say about what they've created: wants to add a new layer of interactivity to the web. Fleck is inspired on a story written in 1945 by Vannevar Bush and an article titled 'We Are The Web' by Kevin Kelly.

Vannevar Bush predicted a machine called the Memex that would allow people to surf from one information page to another. Some people say that Hypertext and the World Wide Web are based on or at least inspired by the Memex.

One thing that the Memex had and the web doesn't is the ability to add new content to every page it contained. After reading the Wired article by Kevin Kelly we decided to try to add a new level to the web by adding new tools that would allow its users to add information rather than just consuming it.

Fleck allows you to interact with pages on the web just as if it were pages in a magazine. You can save your annotated page for yourself, send it to friends or colleagues or use it in your blog.

I gave it a try here. I made a few notes on this blog layout, look and feel, etc... to show how it works. You need to view the link via Firefox or you will not be able to see my notes. There is not a version for other browsers yet, though the site indicates they are working on one for IE.

Try it out. Fleck my page and send me your thoughts on the layout of this blog. I'm looking to revamp the look and feel and welcome comments.

Wikipedia Brown

We just finished reading an Encyclopedia Brown book with Hannah a week ago. It was a kick to read it with her as I had read the entire series when I was a kid. The series was published sometime around the late sixties/early seventies.

When we visited my sister she gave us a few more Encyclopedia Brown books that her boys, now in high school, were willing to part with. These were two of the books I had in my collection that now made their way back to our home. Books are meant to be shared, so it was fun to now have them back to share with the newest reader in the family.

So with Encyclopedia Brown as the book series du jour at our house, it was only fitting that I should come across this modern day take on Encyclopedia Brown.

Way to go Encyclopedia... I mean Wikipedia... I mean Colt Brown!


We have returned from a successful trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving with my side of the family. The girls had a wonderful time seeing their Gram and Da, hanging out with Aunts, Uncles and of course the people they most wanted to see, their cousins.

A few things that I confirmed I should be thankful for from the trip:

  • Putting new tires on the car less than a month ago
  • Getting new brakes the day before leaving for our trip.
  • Stopping to wash out my left contact lense when we were only two minutes north of downtown KC.
  • Continuing a family tradition of always saying a Hail Mary prayer as we left the driveway at the beginning of our trip.
  • Working seatbelts.
  • Not hitting the 8 point buck as it darted out across the highway while I was driving 70 MPH, in the dark, with the kids and Mary asleep in the back.
  • Safe travel to and from our home this past week to see loved ones.


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Leaves crunch under feet.
My breath becomes visible.
Earth takes time to rest.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I'm Weird... Not Boring.

I read my post again from last night. Those things weren't really weird. I think I failed to deliver. Here are some weird things about me to make up for the boring/slightly odd stuff I shared. I mean two diplomas? That's not weird. Just trivia. Not anything like what Andy shared. Not even close. So here we go...

1. I am right handed. When I was in high school I taught myself how to throw a baseball left handed. Now, that's not really weird, but I did it just in case I somehow got in a nasty accident, maybe on the farm with a combine involved or something and lost my right arm. Apparently during my high school years there was a rash of incidents like this going on. I figured I should do this so that I could one day play catch with a son if I had one. And though I didn't grow up on or anywhere near a farm and don't have a son, I continue to work on my delivery just in case. I've also rationalized that if one of our girls turns out to be lefty that I'll be able to teach them to throw in a way that's natural to them... as a lefty.

2. When I was little my mom used to buy Hershey's syrup in a can. From time to time I would sneak into the kitchen when no one was around, crab the can opener and punctured two holes in the top so that one could let air in while I drank the syrup from the other. One time I drained a whole can. And I'd probably do it again today if I could find one of those cans. Do they still make them?

How's that for a make good? Oh, here's another one...

3. When realize I did something half baked it drives me nuts and I go back again and again and again to fix it until I am 100% satisfied and then realize that it is something that no one really gives a hoot about. And that bugs me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm Weird - A Meme...

Okay, so Jenne got tagged by Wendy and now I got tagged by Jenne. This is totally seventh grade girl stuff, but since team player I've decided to go with it. I didn't send any dish towels to Jenne, but I'm thinking of sending her some puffy stickers.

Here are the rules: List 5 weird things about yourself or your pets. Tag 5 friends and list them. Then, those people need to write on their blogs about 5 weird things, and state the rules, and tag 5 more people. Don't forget to let the people you tag know by posting a comment on their blog!

1. I've broken my collarbones six times. Yup, six. First one was as a toddler falling down a flight of stairs, second was as a toddler a short time after getting the brace off for the first break - a different set of stairs this time. Third break was in third grade playing a vicious game of "Smear The Queer" - totally politically incorrect game, and just so we're clear I was the tackler, not the "Queer". Fourth time was a flip over the handle bars of my ten speed as I was racing home with two friends after a trip to Old Orchard Theatre to see Back to the Future. Fifth was playing hockey. And the sixth occured on my twenty first birthday. Let's just say that a particular Hosipital in the Bronx named "Our Lady Of Mercy" - wasn't.

2. I will not finish a painting until I have started another one.

3. My right arm hangs an inch and a quarter lower than my left arm. See #1 for the reason. It prevents me from buying off the rack. That is a pain.

4. If I am ever feeling down or stressed all I need to do is look in the mirror for the main reason. I need a haircut.

5. I have two high school diplomas.

There you go! Now I'm off to tag Geoff, Aaron, Mariah, Rod and Scott.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Beck: Musician & Artist


Give It A Sling!

This game is mindless and yet so addicting. I guess the two kind of go together, don't they? Check it out at

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Quote Of The Day

"You know the thing about baby's breath? When it's not barfy it's smells really sweet."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Arresting Politics?

A few posts back I took suggestions for titles that I would then write a story to fit. Jenne suggested "My First Arrest". Since I wrote that post I've recalled a few incidents with various police departments during my stint as a Hotdogger that, while not ending in actual arrests, came close a few times. One of those incidents took place in Boston, Massachusetts on Tuesday November 8, 1994. It was Election Day and we were out for media coverage.

We had not planned out how to get coverage for the Wienermobile prior to that day, but being the adventurous types we decided to skip putting a real plan in place and instead headed into the heart of Beantown to see what we could do to get some good press. We almost got a doozy of a story. Almost.

Now, for those who have been to Boston on Election Day and have driven a commercial vehicle shaped like a hot dog there are a few things you surely know:

1. If you drive on Storrow Drive be sure to let some air out of the tires, and
2. Police who work the streets near Faneuil Hall on election day don't have a sense of humor, nor do they care to debate what actually constitutes a commercial vs. non commercial vehicle.

Right. So, what happened was this... Jeanne and I had a few hours to kill before we needed to hit the road and head to an event in Detroit. We decided to take a quick jaunt into downtown Boston to see if we could get interviewed or at least get a photo of the big dog in the paper. Boston media outlets have large circulations, so we'd rack up the impressions if we got a mention somewhere.

We drove around town for a while looking for crowds gathering or camera crews out on the street filming. We finally found some near Faneuil Hall. As we got close we scouted for a location to pull over and park, a nearly impossible task for a hot dog car in Boston. We saw a street right next to Faneuil Hall that looked perfect.

It was a two block stretch of road on the South side of Faneuil Hall. It was a one way street which happened to have a sign that said "Commercial Vehicles Only". We didn't have commercial tags and we really wanted to go down this street since there were tons of folks marching around, holding signs and shouting out for their candidate. Surely there would be some cameras around. And since we lived by the creed "better to ask for forgiveness than permission" we decided commercial tags or not that we'd take a quick spin down the street. It was only two blocks long after all.

As soon as we pulled on to the street, we ran into an issue. Ahead of us was an ambulance stopped in the middle of the street. We hadn't seen that. With nowhere to go I put the car in park until we had space to move. Taking advantage of our lack of movement, Jeanne grabbed a bunch of wiener whistles and hopped out of the dog to hand them out.

Since I was the driver on this day I stayed behind the wheel, ready to roll at a moments notice. People on the street began flocking to the driver's side window and asking me for whistles. After just a few minutes we had a huge crowd around us. I looked outside the passenger side window and saw Jeanne asking someone if she could carry their candidate sign for a photo op. Things were looking promising. But when I looked back to the driver's side window I saw a cop.

And he was angry.
He told me to move it.

The conversation went like this:

COP: "Move this vehicle now."

DD: "Okay, I'll just exit to the left down that side street then."

COP: "No. Pull over to the right."

Before I could do that the ambulance began to back up. I couldn't move while the ambulance was moving, there was a van behind me and no where to go. So I just sat there waiting for room to move. Apparently oblivious to the fact that I had zero options to move right then, the police officer got angry again. He must have thought I was not moving just to bug him. You could see the blood pressure building.

COP: "I said move."

DD" "Officer, I cannot move. There's no place..."

COP: "That's enough! Pull over!"

DD" "I understand, but the ambulance is right in front of me. I cannot move."

COP: "Drive around it and park on the left." he said through clenched teeth.

At that time Jeanne had seen what was happening and opened the Wienermobile's gull wing door to get in. (The gull wing door is one of the unique features of the big dog, much like the door on a Delorean, or even more so like the wing of a seagull, the door opens up and down vs. out and to the side like a normal car - a distinction which will be important to know in a bit).

COP: "I told you to move!"

DD: "I will, I will. My partner just opened the door and..." he didn't let me finish.


DD: "But I can't. The door is still open and she's not in yet!"

COP: "I've had it. MOVE NOW!"

Jeanne had just closed the door and quickly took a seat.

Jeanne: "Dude! What's going on?"

DD: "Hang on, gotta move. This guy is having a bad day and taking it out on me right now."

I should mention that all this time a crowd has been gathering and watching this go down. Some of the crowd ignored the cop and shouted at us through the passenger window to toss out some wiener whistles. Jeanne obliged as we slowly pulled around the ambulance and pulled over to where the police officer pointed.

COP: "Show me your license and registration!"

DD: "Am I getting a ticket?"

No answer.
I handed over the requested info.
People were still asking for whistles. Apparently the police officer did not want this so he slid my window shut. (The front windows on the '88's slid open to the side.)

I did not like him shutting the window on me so I slid it back open. Before he could turn back to his car to look up my info he came back to the driver's side window and told me I needed a permit. Jeanne piped up from the front passenger seat.

Jeanne: "Excuse me sir. What type of permit do we need, and for what? Who do we need to speak with to get one?" She said it very sweetly.

This time he did not respond. He simply shut my window again on both of us this time.

When he returned he had a citation for me.

COP: "I need your signature here."

DD: "Can you explain this to me before I sign it?"

He ignored my question which in turn caused me to start to get really irritated with him. I was slightly irritated before, but now I was really irritated.

DD: "Well then can I at least get your supervisor's name?"

No answer, just a glare.

DD: "Can I get your name and badge number please?"

COP: "It's on the citation!"

DD: "And your Supervisor name is?"

And that seemed to finally push him over the edge.


DD to Jeanne: "Jeanne! Grab the Bacon's guide and start calling the media. I'm getting arrested!" This was going to be great. Who could arrest a Wienermobile driver? We'd get tons of sympathy coverage!

I hopped out of the front seat and made my way to the door. As I opened the door and looked around I saw the huge crowd gathered around. The cop was there. He stepped toward me. Steam was coming out of his ears.

So I extended my wrists to him for him to slap the cuffs on me. A few laughs came from the crowd. He was silent and then, through clenched teeth sputtered out "leave now". I wasn't going to be arrested after all. He was letting me go. "Oh well", I thought, "That probably wouldn't have gone over too well with Russ anyway".

So as the cop gave up on arresting me I too gave up on the idea that getting arrested in a Wienermobile would be a good media story. I turned away from the cop and the crowd and reached back with one hand to grab the handle of the door and pull it down shut. And then I heard two sounds:

"Thunk!" and "Ooooooh!"

Something had prevented the door from closing.

The "Thunk!" came from the door slamming down on the cop's head. For some reason he had not moved out of the way of the door as I pulled it shut. The "ooooh!" was from the crowd. Turning slowly I met the cop face to face and his was as red as a beet. Veins were bulging from his neck. He did not say a word. He merely pointed at me to get back into the vehicle and drive away.

And I did.

I did not get arrested. We did not get any media coverage. That was the good news. The bad news was that we were now behind schedule for leaving for Detroit, and that meant taking a shortcut through Canada. As it turns out that was another bad decision... one that Russ would hear about.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Leaning Tower of Boston

I was doing a little searching on Google Maps this evening and zoomed in on dowtown Boston. Check out the image I found of a part of downtown near Faneuil Hall. Doesn't it look like one of the buildings is falling over? I cannot figure this out. Why does this look so odd? It looks like a photo of one building was taken at a different angle and then plopped into this image. Anyone have an explanation?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

If The Shoe Fits...

I work at an advertising agency. Now, for those who don't know, advertising agencies, in general, are much more lax about dress codes than, say, a bank. Some agencies require pants while other are okay with shorts from time to time. As a standard rule agency representatives dress up when meeting with clients. We generally strive to wear the appropriate level of attire to match what the client wears. Ties are tough to get any agency folk to wear, especially creatives. There has to be some wiggle room right? Banks on the other hand are notoriously tight on what is acceptable dress code

Earlier this week I had a meeting with a client. I skipped the jeans and wore slacks and dress shirt to match their corporate casual dress code. All was good. I was at their attire level and clothing differences were negated.

One the way back to the agency I noticed that my socks did not match. I had on one dark blue sock and one black sock. They were of the same pattern and because they both were very dark I was likely the only one to notice my error. I hope.

My mother once made an error like that, except it was with her shoes. The difference between what I did and what she did was that it was quite obvious that she was wearing two different colored shoes. While one was dark blue and one was black, you could easily tell that they were different colors. The other difference between what she did with her shoes and what I did with my socks was that while mine was accidental, hers was not.

It's not that she did it on purpose. Actually, she didn't do it all all. I did.

One day while home from college for the summer I noticed a pair of my mother's dress shoes on the stairs going up to her bedroom. I also noticed that inside each shoe was a circular dayglo yellow sticker. When I asked her what that was all about she told me that because it's so dark in the morning when she gets dressed that she decided to put stickers in her shoes to tell them apart from another pair that looked very similar, but was a different color. She had two pairs of shoes that were the same style and pattern. One was dark blue and one was black. She put the stickers in the blue pair.

Now, this seemed to be to be a very logical thing to do. After all, when you are getting dressed in the dark it can be hard to tell the difference between dark blue and black. You wouldn't want to make that mistake. Not with shoes. That would be dreadfully embarrassing. So naturally my first thought was that it would be hysterically funny to take one of the stickers out of the marked blue shoes and put it in the corresponding black shoe. So I did. I then set them together in her closet.

The next day she got dressed and went into work. I don't remember if she called home that afternoon from the office or if it was when she got home after work, but I sure did get an earful. I think what she said to me went something like "oooh! urrrgh! You! I, I, I'm gonna get you for this! Oooh! watch out mister! Paybacks! Oooh!" or something like that. In between the sounds of fury coming out of my mom were giggles and laughter. She seemed to alternate between laughing and thinking about ringing my neck. Mission accomplished.

Now, mom, if you are reading this, just know that I meant it all in good fun. And if you do try to get paybacks like you said you would at the time, just remember that if you leave this world before me I can always have the funeral home dress you in one blue shoe and one black one! There, that ought to make you think twice about paybacks!