Friday, May 30, 2008

Africa flashback, 3

Nairobi is a crazy-busy city of about 3 million people. Yet only a few miles from the city center is the Nairobi National Park. It's possible to see giraffe, gazelle, hippos, cheetahs - and more - all roaming out in the wild. (The park is more than 12 miles long.)

Our only complaint about it was that the price of admission went up drastically, even during our latest two years there. In the 90s, we could have gone for a simple Sunday after-church picnic. Not these days. (Well, these days, that would necessitate two international flights.)

By the way, that's Heather's head. And that was on a Sunday.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Africa flashback, 2

maasai cattleThe Maasai are ranchers. Their cows are their muscle cars. Instead of fancy wheels, they get amazing cowbells. They lavish affection on those cows like a twenty-two year-old American might relish time spent on his new motorcycle.

Near Namanga, Kenya, it's pretty dry, most of the time. Herders must take their cows long distances to find grass for them to eat and water to drink.

It's a different life than a West Texas rancher might experience.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Africa flashback, 1

We left Africa just over a year ago.

I was digging through some old photos. I came across this bouquet in the bathroom of a restaurant we had a Valentine's dinner at. Pretty fancy.

We do miss the amazing flowers and plants that were part of life on the equator. I don't remember where Heather and I shared our Valentine's dinner date for 2008, but I am sure there was not a bouquet like that next to the sink.

(This post and the next few were inspired by a friend who said that My Part of Nairobi was more interesting than this blog. I pretty much have to agree. It's the "different-ness" of life there vs. life in these United States. And an outsider's perspective vs. an insider's.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


maple seedsWhen Jay was about 2 years old*, he used to call helicopters "heladopters".

We have been attacked by maple seeds unlike any other year in my memory. They have covered our driveway almost inches thick. Sometimes the air has been so thick with them it was almost
like green snow.

*Jay is now 14. Where did the time go?

Monday, May 26, 2008

The two Rachels

Roughly seven years ago today, our Rachel (the baby) got together with another Rachel.

It was the Memorial Day holiday. We miss the family that the older Rachel is from. They live on the other side of the world.

It was a great holiday. We were also joined by the other Rachel's family and two other families. None still live in our neighborhood. We miss all of them greatly. One of the tough things about life is that friends move.

By the way, that's a little heart that someone painted on little Rachel's cheek.

Great site

mark sayersYa gotta check this site out. (It came across my desk via Eddie.)

This Mark Sayers guy has some really interesting things to say that I have not heard before.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Micro-frugality, part 1

One way to save time and money is to cut your toothpaste tube - just as you finish. Then you can dip out about 5 more brushings' worth.

Money? About 1/150 of the cost of a tube. Time? You won't have to rush off to your toothpaste seller as quickly.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just not worth the hassle anymore

We bought a great carpet in about 1992. It's from Iran or Iraq. It has comforted our toes in Kenya (where we bought it), England, and now Colorado. It is still an integral part of our living room.

What's "not worth the hassle?" Well, up until this spring, I would carefully shut the curtains in the late afternoon, to prevent the colors from fading. This year, I finally decided it's not worth the trouble of shutting the curtains nearly every day. So the colors you see here are on their way to slowly becoming less saturated. And what's wrong with that?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The May Natural History Museum of the Tropics

Museum of Space ExplorationOld Colorado PostcardYes, the May Natural History Museum of the Tropics is in my part of Colorado. (Well, not really; it's about 80 miles from where we live. It's south of Colorado Springs.)

Over the weekend, we went camping one night at the Golden Eagle Ranch R.V. Park. On the same property is the previously mentioned May Museum, as well as the May Museum of Space Exploration. Where else in the universe can you visit two such museums in a forested mountain glen?

As you can tell, the museums have seen better days. Mr. May, bless his heart, died last November at the age of 96. His twin daughters (71) run the museums and campgrounds. They are both truly nice ladies. One of his granddaughters was using the backhoe on the day we checked out.

Mr. May was not limited by anything. Why not open your own museum of the tropics - thousands of miles away?

The gift shop had these lovely matted prints for sale, at $1 each! The postcards were less than that. They weren't modern prints, but were original cards from the 60s. Alas, I only captured them in pixels. (Such is the extent of my non-collector-ness these days.)

Finally, after we finished our morning hike, we had 50c drinks from the not-quite-working 7-Up machine. Great!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Time letter for May

If you flip to the letters page of the May 26th edition of Time magazine, you'll see my letter. Short and sweet.

I was reacting to the fact that whenever a publication lists a top-100 list of anything, there are always people writing in to say how they're frustrated that their favorite person didn't make the cut. It happens every time.

For what it's worth, here's the unedited letter: "Let me be the first to say, "Why didn't you include [my favorite person] in the list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World?!" Isn't this one of 500,000 such letters?"

Monday, May 19, 2008

One of the great things about Texas

Taco Bueno ReceiptTaco Bueno.

I love Taco Bueno.

I like Taco Bell. I like Del Taco. Shoot, I'll even eat tacos from Jack in the Box, in a pinch. But Taco Bueno is my favorite of the bunch. They have fresh salsa, for one thing.

Problem: no Taco Buenos in Colorado. Yet another good reason to visit Texas.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The impossible dream

My friend Eddie tagged me.

What's the impossible dream I have? Well, I do have lofty dreams like no world hunger, etc. But my life tends to be filled with much more mundane things. So my impossible dream would have to be smaller than that.

I'd love to see the band Little Feat in 1977. I am not one for seeing old bands today. They are nothing like what they would have been in their heydays.

In high school, I used to go down to hi-fi stores in Harvard Square (near Boston) and listen to music on high-end stereos. One time they played "The Last Record Album", and I got hooked. Incredible sounds. That sonic creativity is beyond most of what is recorded today.

I tag Bob and Jenny.

SkyMall amazingness, part 2

I was amused by this waterproof mp3 player. My thoughts are: isn't it nice to have a few moments of quiet? Wouldn't it be good to use the swimming time to just let your head rest a bit?

And the 10-minute marinade device for $150. They say time is money, but unless you do tons of marinading, that's a lot to spend. And of course I'm skeptical about how well a marinade could "take" in just 10 minutes.

Finally, my favorite pick - the tailgate party chairs. I'm thinking the weight limit of 250 lbs. per chair might not be enough. For $200, though, how much easier would it be to throw some folding camp chairs in the back of your pickup and have a lot more left over for party consumables?

(Here's the first post in this series, for those of you who missed it.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grocery shopping in Belgium

My sister Amy lives in Belgium. She likes to pick up grocery lists people discard. (I do too.) It's a little window into someone else's life, without their knowing.

Recently, she sent me a collage of lists that she had been saving for several months. (I love it!)

It's fun to see how European hand-writing is different than American hand-writing. And it's fun to try to figure out what these people bought, since I can't speak Dutch. (If you double-click on the images, you can see them larger.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bad technology

I saw this product advertised a few months ago: the Macally mTUNE-N Cordless Stereo Headphones.

I am compelled to make fun of them. Can you imagine how heavy they must be on your head? And to skip songs or adjust the volume, you'd have to take the silly device off your head.

So a few days ago, I did a Google search on them - now down to $6.54! (That link probably won't last long - plus I have never heard of the vendor, TechGearDirect.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Going through the treasures, part 4: The Derby Ad

My dad came across a booklet promoting the English town of Derby - from a garage sale in Wichita Falls, Texas, undoubtedly. The publication was dated 1947.

I don't know why he bought the booklet. I don't know why I saved it. (Well, actually, I didn't. After scanning this ad, it went to the grand recycling center in the sky - alias the happy hunting ground for old unwanted magazines.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

On the plane again

I made another trip for my job last week. I go roughly once every three or four months, which is not bad at all. A major bonus of these trips is that I usually get to see my mom, sister and niece, who live near Dallas. (The office I work for remotely is in Arlington - between Dallas and Fort Worth.)

The 1.5 - 2 hour flight goes by quickly when I watch something on my laptop. But I only had about 20 minutes of TV to watch this time. (It was a free download from iTunes.)

Another way to spend that time is to see the amazingly expensive and laughable stuff for sale in the SkyMall catalog. (A post is coming about the latest incredible items offered.)

As I said before, I fly infrequently enough that I will never get a free flight from air miles. So I travel with whichever airline gives the best deal and best arrival/departure times. This recent trip, I flew American on the way down and Frontier on the way back. I like Frontier better.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Life on a diet

Today, I'm giving over the reigns to Heather, my lovely wife. Here is her brief thinking on busy-ness and some possible cures...

I have 3 kids, teach piano lessons, and am working hard on a masters degree in order to launch a new career which should help my kids through college. I did have a life-changing experience over the last two years. My family lived in Kenya while my husband had a job there. I had to set aside everything that I was involved in, as we left the USA. There was much less to do in Kenya and far less time pressure. It was incredibly freeing and caused some great things to happen in my kids' lives and with us as a family. I’ve decided that "less is more" when it comes to filling up my life with activity. I’ve put my life on a "diet" and I think I’m actually getting more out of it. Take a season of rest, maybe a year off from your major activities. It will hurt, but you’ll be healthier for it.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The International Toothpaste Museum

TrybolThere's a new blog in town that you should visit.

And that's one collection I'm not disposing of. Yet.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


There's a new site you should visit - Alltop.

It's a great portal to all manner of loveliness.

It was started by Guy Kawasaki.

And a really fun thing is that if you explore the "Living > Life" pages, you'll find my site.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Going through the treasures, part 3: Knowledge Lost

I would have no idea how to do any of this now. (Y can double-click the image to see it a little bigger.)

This is from some homework during my senior year of high school. Calculus.

All through high school, I thought I was going to be an engineer, because that was what my brother was studying in college (and went on to be, in the Air Force). About half-way through my freshman year in college, I realized that I never did enjoy all that math and science very much. So I stayed in the art program. Graphic design was the only way I could figure how to make a living at art*. So that stuck. And I'm still doing it, more than 25 years later. (I have had some excursions into different disciplines during that time.)

*My art school did offer a degree in interior design - which is possible to make a living at. But it seemed like the only people in that program were cheerleaders and men who had, shall we say, different persuasions than me. I had no desire to spend more than four years hanging out in that department.

Monday, May 05, 2008

My favorite car, parts 1 and 2

Honda is making a small sports car in 2009 or 2010 - the CR-Z (top). It's supposed to be a hybrid gas/electric. It is the "spiritual successor" to their CRX, which was made from 1983-1991. I owned a 1985. I loved that car. It had the perfect compromise between fuel economy and being fun to drive.

Most likely I will never own a CRZ, but it's fun to dream!

Actually, I think the front of the CRZ is ugly. But I like the concept and size.

The top photo is by Tom Cosgrove, from the June 2008 issue of Car & Driver magazine. The bottom photo is from a random Flikr person. But that is the exact year and model of the CRX that I owned. Mine was blue, though.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The good side of high fuel prices

<< People quit buying those.

SUVs may finally be on the decline, sales-wise. Check out this story from the AP.

Or here's Kottke's summary: "SUV sales are down and with them, their prices. The rising cost of gas is to blame. Many dealers won't even accept SUVs as trade-ins."

New money

England has a new set of coins coming out very soon. They are very cool.

And here's an interview with the designer of the coins. The designs were awarded to him via a competition.

Heather and the kids went to the Denver Mint recently. There's a new series of dollar coins coming out.* Apparently dollar coins cost much less in the long run than dollar paper money. I wish that our country would switch wholesale to dollar coins! The European Union and England did that with their equivalent, a long time ago.

*I guarantee they won't be as cool as the English coins. Sigh. I doubt that a large competition was part of the design process.

The US mints are producing dollar coins because the state commemorative quarters have been so popular. (They have made a good amount of profit for these government-run institutions.)

Interestingly, a penny costs 2.3 cents to make. (Or something like that - I can't remember the exact number that my kids told me.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Going through treasures, part 2: "tapes to make"

I have written before about the collector gene that is intricately woven into my soul. It came from my dad.

A few weeks back, I was going though some boxes (to find something I needed for work) - and I came across this little note.

My dad loved to borrow records (vinyl) from the local library and tape them for his later pleasure. The problem was that after he died, that tape collection was one of the millions of things my mom had to get rid of before she moved from a 3-bedroom house to a 1-bedroom apartment.

My dad didn't know much about copyright laws. And the RIAA wasn't yet going door to door making arrests like today.