October 01, 2008

Son's Guitar Recital

Here's what he looked like a few years ago shortly after he got his electric guitar.

Rock on.

Posted by JohnL at 10:21 AM | Comments (1) |
October 08, 2006

Caribbean Photoblog: Grand Cayman

In Grand Cayman, we avoided the overpriced ship-scheduled shore excursions and chartered a small-group catamaran snorkeling tour with Captain Bryan's:


Our boat and group (only $35 per person):


The typical cruise-ship offering (more than $75 per person):


Kissing a stingray (7 years' good luck!):


More pictures in the extended entry...

More kissing:


Up close and personal:


Our guide lured out an eel with some squid:


The water is just a surreal clear blue:


Posted by JohnL at 06:30 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack

Caribbean Photoblog: Jamaica

Before too much more time passes, I figure I ought to finish the photoblog of my wife's and my Caribbean Cruise. On our fourth day (September 6), our ship docked at Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

We took a bus deep into the jungle at the top of the mountain range:


And put on our safety equipment:


So that we could "zip" three miles down the mountain through the jungle canopy on zip lines, fifty feet or more in the air:


The last traverse was 600 feet long:

After getting a few souvenirs we returned to the ship and enjoyed a gorgeous, lazy sunset as we set sail yet again:


Next stop: Grand Cayman.

Previous entries: Part 1, Part 2.

Posted by JohnL at 04:06 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
September 13, 2006

Caribbean Photoblog - Days 2 and 3

Our second and third days of the cruise (September 4 and 5) were spent at sea, where we saw flying fish (click for larger):


... And enjoyed the natural beauty:


More beauty:


And our room steward made these cool origami towel-animals each night:


Coming tomorrow soon: zipping through the Jamaican rainforest, swimming with stingrays and eels in Grand Cayman, and comida autentica mexicana in Cozumel...

Posted by JohnL at 09:38 PM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
September 12, 2006

Caribbean Photoblog - Day One

We departed Galveston, Texas on Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas at 5:00 PM on Sunday, September 3, 2006. A few hours later, we were well into the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying the first of many lovely sunsets (click for larger):



More to follow in the coming days...

Posted by JohnL at 10:26 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
June 05, 2006

The Instamatic

One of the benefits of moving from time to time is the opportunity to go through old boxes of stuff. Last year's move unearthed an old box of pictures that I took with my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic 44. I had great fun going through the old pictures with my kids, including showing them some pictures of places that still exist (the Dinosaur statues in Glen Rose, for example, which they have seen in person several times).

Tonight I scanned the first few of what I expect to be many. I'll do a bigger post on the camera itself someday (I also have pictures taken with a Kodak Disc camera -- a film disc, not a digital disc and my mom's old Kodak Retina).

Your humble author, making himself the center of attention even then:


A successful fishing trip at Lake Lavon:


Colorful Colorado:


Posted by JohnL at 04:36 PM | Comments (2) | | TrackBack
May 16, 2006

Photoblog - An Afternoon at the Pool

On Sunday, I gave my wife some quiet time for Mother's Day by taking the kids down to our neighborhood pool. It's a nonprofit, open-membership community pool, and I've been on its Board of Directors for 2 years now (we were members for several years before that). It happens to be called The Texas Pool on the Creek. Can you guess why? (Click for larger).


Board membership entails lots of maintenance work, especially as the opening of swim season approaches (we open May 27). One of the benefits of board membership is free access to the pool throughout the year. We drained the pool this week for some maintenance work, and began refilling it on Sunday. The kids have a great time running and sliding down the deep end slope into the slowly rising waters:


And tormenting each other (humorously):


It was a very good day.



(Do the pictures look too blue? I haven't mastered Photoshop Elements yet).

If you live in the Dallas/Plano area, we still have plenty of memberships available, and you can register online. Check it out.

Posted by JohnL at 09:13 PM | Comments (4) | | TrackBack
March 13, 2006

Between the Wheels


You know how that rabbit feels
Going under your speeding wheels
Bright images flashing by
Like windshields towards a fly
Frozen in the fatal climb
But the wheels of time
Just pass you by

-- From "Between the Wheels" by RUSH on Grace Under Pressure

It's a recurrent theme around here: how quickly time passes us by.

I can't believe it has been almost two weeks since my last posting. My silence last week resulted from a much-needed vacation in the one other place as close to my heart as Texas: Colorado.

We traveled with some good family friends and went skiing at Wolf Creek, renting a nice house in Pagosa Springs. During the first two days, we enjoyed temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s, with well-groomed snow -- a bit slushy, but otherwise perfect for some fast skiing. Our second two days we received 40 inches of new snow, and had a cold but fun time plowing through the untouched powder.

We got back late Friday, but I didn't feel like touching the blog over the weekend. So here I am, rested and presumably ready to dive back in. But I remain strangely unmotivated. Where is my muse? In Colorado:





Posted by JohnL at 09:20 PM | Comments (3) | | TrackBack
February 22, 2006

Good News For Aging Men

According to this report, men in their 50s are more satisfied with their sex lives than at any other time in their lives except their 20s. On a scale of zero to four, men reported satisfaction as follows:

20s - 2.79
30s - 2.55
40s - 2.72
50s - 2.77
60s - 2.46
70s - 2.14

After giving this just a moment's thought, I realized that one little word explains this: kids.

Seriously. Most people start their families in their late 20s or 30s. Before a guy in his 20s settles down, there's likely some fun on the dating scene. But once you find "the one," nothing tops the excitement of the courtship, honeymoon, and early years together without kids.

After the children appear, you find that both of you are a bit more tired, a bit less attentive to looks or clothing, a bit more prone to headaches and irritability, and less likely to enjoy the less-frequent sex. As the kids get older and more independent, they continue to invade your space and their schedules become more demanding.

Once the kids leave the nest, it seems that one of two things happens: (1) husband and wife fall in love all over again and experience some really great time together, going at it like newlyweds, or (2) husband, now financially successful and confident, dumps the old bag for a trophy wife 20 years his junior. (Two of the four commenters over at Science Blog tend to confirm this latter point). In either case, the man is likely to be more satisfied with sex than at any time since before he had kids.


Ouch! That was my wife taking a swipe at me for the "old bag" comment. For the record: she in no way resembles any sort of bag (unless it's one that's sleek and fashionable and will never go out of style...)

(Hat tip: Instapundit).

Posted by JohnL at 09:39 PM | Comments (4) | | TrackBack
January 04, 2006

Rose Bowl 2006

We got this picture today from my [Aggie] father-in-law:

Aggie at the Rose Bowl.jpg

(Explanation for readers unfamiliar with Texas football. Aggies are alumni of UT's big in-state rival, Texas A&M University. Their slogan is "Gig 'em, Aggies" and many of their shirts usually depict the Texas Longhorn with broken horns. This is a nice show of in-state solidarity by a respected rival).

Update: What a fantastic game. Final score -- Texas: 41, USC: 38.

Hook 'em Horns!!!

Posted by JohnL at 04:31 PM | Comments (14) | | TrackBack
September 18, 2005

Gratuitous Domestic Blogging

WARNING! Rampant narcissistic self-blogging ahead! Proceed with caution or skip altogether.

The work week can't start soon enough.

I can't even remember what we did yesterday we've been so busy. And that was with one kid out of town with the Boy Scouts.

Today started at 8:00AM with getting the other two kiddoes ready for church. Sunday school at 9:45 and church at 11:00. Second son received his third grade bible from the church. Made it to the neighborhood pool at noon to learn how to clean the pool and operate the pumps. Straight from there to a two-hour soccer practice in the 100 degree heat. Home to mow the lawn, change the air conditioning filter in the attic, and adjust the sprinkler heads. Dinner, then bed for the kids. And now, at 9:38, my first break of the day. But I have to take the dog for a quick walk before the rerun of Friday's Battlestar Galactica comes on at 10:00.

I am beat.

Update: Oops. BSG isn't on until tomorrow. Tonight was South Park.

Posted by JohnL at 09:39 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
August 01, 2005

The Lost Weekend

Kathy, Rob, and the Llama Military Correspondent all recounted tales of their "Lost Weekend."

I like the sound of that: The Lost Weekend. It has a kind of mystique to it.

My weekend included the following:

Saturday - Cub Scout bike ride, three hours of yard work, swimming and dinner with family friends. Kids to bed late.

Sunday - early music rehearsal with church band, performance in church service, baking a cake for oldest son's birthday, shopping, trip to see the Fantastic 4 (much better than the bad reviews it got, btw), sleepover birthday party for oldest son.

And it spilled over into today: handyman appeared at 8:00 this morning to put in some floor tiles, I worked a full day, and had to get eldest son to a church youth activity this evening at the same time my daughter was starting her birthday party at the neighborhood pool. It is now almost 11:00PM CDT and I am finally unwinding.

This is just a sample of our summer to date.

Based on the pace we've been keeping up around here, together with the prep and fallout of the house move, I think we'll look back at this and call it The Lost Summer.

Posted by JohnL at 10:41 PM | Comments (0) | | TrackBack
July 27, 2005

14 Happy Years

Oh, by the way...

Today was the 14th anniversary of my marriage to the most wonderful, beautiful, intelligent woman that I could ever hope to link up with in this world.

Here's looking forward to the next 14 years, and more.

Posted by JohnL at 11:39 PM | Comments (4) | | TrackBack
July 12, 2005

New Lanius Homestead

Fellow Munuvians Howard and RP have posted pics of their new homes, so I thought I would join in the fun (click for larger):


I wonder if Pixy will put up a shot of his new digs?

Update: The picture looks all washed out since I couldn't get the lighting right. I'm no Photoshop expert, so I just jacked up the brightness and added some blue to restore the sky color. The perfect lighting for a house picture will not exist, unfortunately, for another 7 months or so. I figure that at around 3:00 in the afternoon late in the month of February will be just about right. But I couldn't wait ;-)

Posted by JohnL at 11:37 PM | Comments (8) | | TrackBack
July 07, 2005

House Move in Progress

I emerge from a pile of cardboard boxes and packing paper to announce my re-connection to the Internet.

I hope to get some pics of the new Lanius Lair up soon.

Forecast: continued intermittent blogging.

Posted by JohnL at 09:40 AM | Comments (1) | | TrackBack
June 30, 2005

Property News

Well, today we closed on the sale of our current house and the purchase of our new house. We get to rent our just-sold house for 6 days, but expect to be completely moved out on July 5. (We're using professional movers, as our "stuff" has grown quite a bit over the last 10 years, so the only real grief will be the packing and unpacking).

Don't expect much content around here until the end of next week or so. Assuming Comcast gets us hooked up on time, there should only be a two-day Internet blackout (on the 4th and 5th).

Posted by JohnL at 10:40 PM | Comments (5) |
June 26, 2005

Venus Calling Mars...

Here's a funny comment at Slashdot characterizing (stereotyping?) female and male communications styles. My wife appreciated it, so I think it's OK to post.

(Via Utterly Boring).

Posted by JohnL at 11:10 PM | Comments (1) |
June 13, 2005

House News

A lot can change in a week.

Remember the potential money pit? During the fateful inspection, My Lovely WifeTM ran into a realtor and a couple looking at the house being inspected. When she mentioned our contract, the couple said they (a) were aware the house was under contract, (b) lived just down the street, (c) were about to put their house on the market, and (d) wanted to check out the other houses currently for sale in the neighborhood to help them decide on a price.

My Lovely Wife, being the friendly and talkative soul that she is, got the couple's phone number, "just in case something turns up in the inspection."

Long story short: we sold our house only a few days after we took the sign down to the same buyers who had made an offer on it. And we bought the house from the couple my wife met during the inspection of the first one a few weeks before they put it on the market.

The newer house has everything we were looking for, and reminds us a great deal of our perfect-in-every-way-but-size current house. It has clearly been well-maintained and updated (in line with our tastes, even!) We'll be moving in during the first week of July, so if the postings around here are somewhat sparse, you'll understand why.

Posted by JohnL at 11:44 PM | Comments (6) |
June 07, 2005

Secret to a Happy Marriage

Two words: "yes, dear." Of course, that's only for men. Wives can make up any rules they want to.

Now if you don't believe me and my almost fourteen years of wedded bliss, just ask the holders of the world record for the longest marriage.

Via Pack News.

Posted by JohnL at 10:24 PM | Comments (0) |
June 03, 2005

Of Parrots And Real Estate

So what does a parrot have in common with the deal we've been working on our dream house?

They're both dead.

Stone dead.

Definitely deceased.

Bleedin' demised.

Passed on.

No more.

Ceased to be.

Expired and gone to meet the maker.


Bereft of life.

Resting in peace.

Pushing up the daisies.

Their metabolic processes are now history.

Off the twig, kicked the bucket, shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile. IT IS AN EX-DEAL!!

We instructed our agent tonight to send a notice of termination of the purchase contract to the sellers of the "dream house" upon which we recently made an offer (accepted by the sellers). We're still in the initial option period, so we're only out the small option fee and the cost of the home inspection that took place yesterday. The inspection (done by a neutral inspector we hired, i.e., not recommended by either of our brokers) revealed several flaws, each of which would be reasonable to encounter in a 25-year-old house, but all of which together indicate a long-time lack of maintenance.

We're talking basic home maintenance here: fixing leaks, monitoring drainage, replacing rotten wood, addressing minor plumbing issues, making sure improvements are done without compromising the house's structural integrity. That, and the fact that in a termite-infested neighborhood they never had a standard annual termite inspection and as a result have six active infestations in the house. They should have done the termite inspections and adjusted or replaced gutters to prevent water damage and drainage problems as responsible home owners with any sense of pride in their home.

But they apparently didn't have much pride of ownership in their house until it came time to sell. And they want a premium price for an un-updated house with some serious underlying flaws. We could have put all those flaws aside if we had gotten the smallest amount of relief on the price and agreement to perform a detailed repair punchlist.

No deal, though, since we had unreasonable sellers, represented by an a$$hole of an agent, who refused to replace the rusting gutters and rotten wood, or to do a complete termite treatment on the house (with six active termite infestations). They wanted to spot-treat the termites and "repair" the rusted gutters. We've seen those kind of "repairs" done on houses that were being sold before -- essentially bandaids. Or clown makeup.

And we know what we're talking about, as we have performed the basic repairs and improvements necessary to keep our house sound during the 10 years we have been here. Not only that, but we have updated it, so that it looks modern, not dated.

We had already stretched ourselves on the offer price -- the new house was listed at well over the highest selling price per square foot for homes in the neighborhood over the last year. We had signed a contract at a price per square foot just about 20 cents per square foot less than the highest recent sale based on the potential we saw in the house (it's on a corner lot along one of the most desirable streets in the subdivision and has a great layout and perfect configuration of bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, and storage. And a nice pool, to boot).

Oh, and did I mention that our offer on the house is the only one the sellers have received over the last seven months?

After their agent came back offering a band-aid repair and no monetary relief, he really iced the deal when he told our agent, "tell the Laniuses we are doing the honorable and generous thing." What's honorable about a cosmetic repair that doesn't address the underlying years of neglect??!

Idiot. F**k head. A competent agent doesn't inject emotion like that into a deal. Or only does it under explicit instructions from the principal. So we have essentially told them to go f**k themselves with their "honorable generosity" and are taking our house off the market. At least until another house with the right amount of space opens up in our neighborhood again.

Oh, and the kicker? We received an almost full-value offer on our house in the middle of the house inspection and had to decline it.

Better to ride this roller coaster and get out now than to suffer in a Money Pit.

Posted by JohnL at 11:41 PM | Comments (12) |
May 30, 2005

Happy Memorial Day

Well, we've finished our BBQ brisket and pork rib lunch.

I'm sure a lot of people are eating similarly, enjoying some time outdoors in the late Spring weather, and spending time with family.

While we enjoy the freedom to do these things, let's remember the reason for this holiday.

Happy Memorial Day.

Posted by JohnL at 02:02 PM | Comments (4) |
May 22, 2005

My Three-Day Weekend

Please indulge me as I wax Lileksian tonight.

I took Friday off last week, to celebrate the kids' last day of school and to get some more work done on the house. We have now listed it, and our realtor will (we hope!) start showing people through on Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed, and make whatever imprecations(*) entreaties to a higher power (as you feel appropriate) that we be successful in selling and buying in the right order and at the right time.

Boring domestic stuff below the fold.

What I did over the last three days:

Hung, taped, bedded, and textured sheetrock in the garage. Wired a new GFCI outlet for the sprinkler system through the same garage sheetrock. (Had to tap into the circuit through the attic, which was well over 100 degrees (38 Celsius).

Finished a half-done cement pathway from my driveway to my storage shed. (8 x 40 lb. bags of concrete mix in 100-degree weather. Fun.) (For you metric types out there, 40 lbs is slightly more than 18 kilos).

Replaced various doorknobs in the house to match the other updated ones.

Cleaned and restained (with Minwax wipe-on/wipe-off stain) cabinetry in the Master and kids' bathrooms.

Caulked bathtub and counters where necessary.

Painted hallway and kids' walls where stained with fingerprints. (Basically from floor to eye level).

Put down 20 bags of cedar mulch (after weeding the flower beds).

Put down 10 bags of landscapers' mix to fill in holes dug by the dog and to "dress up" the ground around the kids' play fort in the backyard.

Trimmed all shrubs. Mowed, weed-ate, and edged the lawn (in 100+ degree weather again - more fun!)

In the middle of all this, I managed to take my second son to a Rough Riders baseball game and fireworks show on Friday night, and went to his baseball game on Saturday afternoon. (Want to guess the temperature?)

All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy....

Update: (*)<Inigo Montoya voice>You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.</Inigo Montoya voice>

Posted by JohnL at 09:38 PM | Comments (0) |
May 18, 2005

Chaos on the Home Front

You may have noticed a lack of regular posting around here recently. Or not.

The reason?

We are listing our house for sale tomorrow. We have our eyes on another house in the neighborhood with more space for the family and are currently negotiating the purchase contract. The larger house has been on the market for about 6 months, and we have been making some final updates to our house during the same period of time and praying that the other one will come down in price. (It has finally come down to the range of price-per-square-foot that is appropriate for our area).

The work around here has really peaked, with me replacing our deck and staining it this past weekend, landscaping during lunch hours, re-sheetrocking the hole in our garage wall where the previous owners had driven their car, and generally making the house sale-ready. (We need to sell to afford the larger house).

So I'm not making any promises about posting regularly anytime soon.

I do promise to update if anything exciting happens regarding the buying/selling.

Posted by JohnL at 11:17 PM | Comments (3) |
April 11, 2005

Boy Scout Photoblogging

This past weekend, I took my eldest son, C., to Houston with 25 other Boy Scouts and 6 or 7 other adult chaperones. We went to participate in a Boy Scout Camp-in at SpaceCenter Houston. The program is designed to meet the essential elements of the Space Exploration Merit Badge.

In order to make the most out of the 10-hour round-trip drive, we left Plano early and visited the USS Texas and San Jacinto Monument.

(More in the extended entry).

The USS Texas was the last of the Battleships that were explicitly patterned after the HMS Dreadnought. Commissioned in 1914, the Battleship had a long and distinguished career with action in both World Wars of the 20th Century.

A nice view from the starboard side of the ship:


My scout, number-one son, operating the elevation of an AA gun:

Said AA gun:

The San Jacinto Monument as seen from the USS Texas:

This memorial to Texas Independence (can't really say freedom, since we were unfortunately a slaveholding republic), stands, as any proud Texan will inform you, taller than the Washington Monument. Twelve feet taller, to be exact. Tall enough, in any case, to take two pictures to capture it up close:

Remember that April 21 is San Jacinto Day!

Building exploration rovers with LEGOs:

PVC space stations:

And construction-paper rockets (launched with compressed air):

We toured the original mission control building (which guided all of the Gemini and Apollo missions):

And saw the [cancelled] X-38 program's lifting bodies and frames,

...Which were built, in part, by a surprising contractor:

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Posted by JohnL at 11:33 PM | Comments (1) |
April 10, 2005

Recent Whereabouts

Sorry for the dearth of material recently. I'll have some good stuff soon. Of course, I'll have some new Aircraft Cheesecake posted later tonight.

This weekend, I went to Houston with my eldest son, C. (age 10), to visit the Battleship Texas, San Jacinto Monument, and SpaceCenter Houston. We did a camp-in at the SpaceCenter for Boy Scouts. I'll have a photoblog or two up early in the week.

Posted by JohnL at 09:27 PM | Comments (0) |
April 04, 2005

Teach Your Children Well

Email received from my wife Friday afternoon, reproduced in its entirety here (names abbreviated to protect the innocent):

Subject: Star Wars

D. [8 y.o. son] spent 30 minutes in his room with E. [5 y.o. daughter], teaching her about Star Wars with his ships and your action figures. Now they are watching Return of the Jedi, D.'s choice since E. would like the Teddy Bears.


I know I've done my job well to pass the SF torch to another generation.

Posted by JohnL at 06:18 PM | Comments (3) |
February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day

Not much to report. My wife is wonderfully low-maintenance in that she does not demand or expect jewelry. I usually get her some nice dark chocolates, but this year she foreswore sweets for Lent. I had to get creative, so I planned, purchased, and prepared the following for dinner:

Salad -- baby spinach, romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion, and red bell pepper tossed with light Italian vinaigrette dressing.

Entree -- 2 sirloin steaks, grilled (with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary) garnished with a grilled, peeled, and heartily-sliced red bell pepper and accompanying garlic/rosemary mashed potatoes.

Dessert -- fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries served in frozen dessert bowls with a dash of cream.

Wine -- "Twenty Bench" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

There was a lot of red in the meal's presentation, appropriate for the day. We got the kids in bed early enough to enjoy the meal and each other's company in peace. Yay!

Posted by JohnL at 11:23 PM | Comments (1) |
January 19, 2005

Science, Like Nature, Must Also Be Tamed

What a week so far. Science fair at school, and all that that implies. Two sets of petri dishes culturing household germs, cardboard presentation triptychs, color printer issuing reports: Problem - Hypothesis - Materials - Procedure - Results - Conclusion.

Meantime, we have the Cub Scout pinewood derby this weekend, so we are simultaneously engineering what we hope to be winning cars. The boys did all their own cutting, and a fair amount of painting (I've had to pitch in on some coats of paint during my lunch hour to make sure they are adequately done in time for Friday's check-in).

Unfortunately, all of this has been very boy-centric and our girl has been watching a lot of Barbie videos (ugh - better than Bratz, at least) and spending time occupying herself in her room. In fact, today my wife found her dancing - gyrating really - on her bed without a shirt on. When told to put on her shirt, she answered, "that's OK, I'm a boy!"

Ai yai yai. We all NEED the weekend to get here soon so we can get this craziness behind us.

Posted by JohnL at 11:24 PM | Comments (0) |
January 13, 2005

Time Stand Still

RP's girl child just celebrated her fourth birthday. To celebrate, she has moved out of diapers. RP found this milestone a poignant occasion. RP, as she's your first child, you need to know that this is just the beginning of many poignant moments. As you know, we have three kids, and our youngest is a year-and-a-half older than your girl child.

Diapers are nothin'. In fact, we were doing backflips when our youngest was finally out of diapers/pull-ups. Instead, just wait to experience going through the Hefty bag full of stuffed animals collected by all your kids over the years, deciding which ones go to Goodwill, and which ones get to stay in the attic for future grandkids. You'll watch that scene in Toy Story 2 where Jessie gets dropped off by her girl with a whole new perspective.

Or wait until your child starts getting uncomfortable being seen with you in public (my oldest followed me at a distance of 10 feet through Fry's Electronics a couple of months ago). Sure, it's a necessary part of maturing, starting to establish one's independence, but it's tough.

My middle child, an 8-year-old boy (all boy!) reached up to hold my hand tonight in the parking lot as we walked into the grocery store. He still does that every now and then. And every time he does it, I wonder is this the last time??

Two weeks ago my little girl asked me to take her training wheels off so she can learn to ride a "2-wheeler," as our kids put it. She'll be the third child I've taught (and she's learning much faster than the two boys ahead of her did). As I was running backwards down the sidewalk with my hands positioned under her handlebars helping steady her when she needed it, I realized this is the last time I'll be teaching one of my children to do this.

It hit me really hard -- She's my baby, but she's not talking like one any more. She's growing up into a graceful, beautiful, smart, charming girl. Watching her play soccer for the first time this year made me realize just how big she's gotten. When did that happen??! When did her brothers get so tall? If the oldest is approaching the teen years, that means middle age is close behind for me, and after that ... ? -- Not ready to go there yet.

I can understand why only children get so easily spoiled, as every moment becomes a potential poignant moment. But when you have more than one, you kind of get spoiled yourself knowing there'll be another chance, another way to relive the moment. But after you've lived the moment with the last one, what next?

Driving lessons, I suppose, coming up in five years for the oldest child (which is about how long ago he was learning to ride the bike without training wheels).

It always seems lowbrow to quote rock lyrics to make a point, but there was a Rush song I didn't like very much when it came out, but now I completely identify with it. Focus especially on the last two verses:

Time Stand Still

I turn my back to the wind
To catch my breath,
Before I start off again
Driven on,
Without a moment to spend
To pass an evening
With a drink and a friend

I let my skin get too thin
I’d like to pause,
No matter what I pretend
Like some pilgrim --
Who learns to transcend --
Learns to live
As if each step was the end

Time stand still --
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
See more of the people
And the places that surround me now

Freeze this moment
A little bit longer
Make each sensation
A little bit stronger
Experience slips away...

I turn my face to the sun
Close my eyes,
Let my defences down --
All those wounds
That I can't get unwound

I let my past go too fast
No time to pause --
If I could slow it all down
Like some captain,
Whose ship runs aground --
I can wait until the tide
Comes around

Make each impression
A little bit stronger
Freeze this motion
A little bit longer
The innocence slips away...

Summer's going fast --
Nights growing colder
Children growing up --
Old friends growing older
Experience slips away...

I think I'll excuse myself to go get a beer and read a book now, if you don't mind...

Posted by JohnL at 10:41 PM | Comments (4) |
December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season, and for those of you so inclined, I hope today was as blessed and merry a Christmas as ours was.

For the first time, we hosted the festivities at our house, celebrating with my wife's family and breaking out the good china and family-heirloom silver. The food was perfect: my turkey and gravy were just right and my wife made some incredible chocolate-chocolate chip mini-Bundt cakes with hot fudge sauce and raspberries for dessert. (For big occasions, I'm the chef; she's the baker). The kids behaved well, and we played games most of the afternoon.

Best surprise present? My wife proving to me that she reads this blog. (She got me Lileks' Interior Desecrations and the complete Buck Rogers in the 25th Century series on DVD).

Feliz Navidad, y'all.

Posted by JohnL at 08:52 PM | Comments (0) |
December 13, 2004

Sprung Slinky

My wife and I went to a "Holiday" dinner with a group of my clients tonight, leaving the kids at home with a babysitter.

When I got home, I found that my second son had left something for me on the kitchen table:


In case you can't see it clearly, the note reads: "Try to fix. Don't throw away." I got a big smile out of this, since it reflects such a simple, childlike faith that I can fix anything. Too bad that's not the case...

Posted by JohnL at 11:03 PM | Comments (4) |
December 06, 2004

Christmas Lighting Tips

Like Michele (and unlike Reactionary Scrooge Robert), I like adding some color to my Christmas light displays:

Christmas Lights 2.jpg

I finally settled on this format last year, when I measured the lengths of the sidewalk borders, went to the local Elliott's Hardware store, and cut a custom length of C-9 socket cord. I then got a few boxes of red, green, and white C-9 bulbs, some sturdy metal stakes, and a few hours of labor later, my sidewalks were done. This year, it took about 2 hours to do everything -- the Yaupon trees are strung with basic small mixed lights (white and red or red and green) and I have everything run to switched outlets, so I can turn them on or off with the flick of a switch in the house.

I like Rob, so I think I'll get him a really nice Christmas present this year. What do you think about this? Maybe this, too?

Posted by JohnL at 09:19 PM | Comments (1) |
November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope all of you have had a happy, peaceful, and relaxing Thanksgiving Holiday. Last year, I posted a list of things for which I am thankful. I don't think I would change much of anything on it this year.

I have posted George Washington's original Thanksgiving proclamation from October 14, 1789 in the extended entry:

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Posted by JohnL at 06:49 PM | Comments (1) |
August 27, 2004

Reading Time

Rob the Llamabutcher's account of reading to his llama-ettes got me to thinking about the books I've read aloud to my sons (I still read short little picture stories to my 5-year old daughter).

I love reading to my kids, but some authors are almost impossible to read aloud. J.K. Rowling springs immediately to mind, as she runs on with florid and wordy sentences always ending with a clause beginning with an "ing" word, piling on the clauses one after another, stopping for nothing, droning on and on and on. (Her stories are fun and the boys and I like them, but she really needs an editor with a spine).

Throughout 2003, I read the complete Lord of the Rings out loud to my oldest son. Tolkien knew how to craft beautiful language that was both fun to read out loud and to hear myself reading. It gave me a whole new perspective on the power of his stories and his language.

Posted by JohnL at 08:27 PM | Comments (1) |
July 28, 2004

Lucky 13

Yesterday was the thirteenth anniversary of my marriage to my lovely wife. Hence, the lack of blogging last night.

We go out to dinner a fair amount, but almost never see first-run movies, so we went to see The Bourne Supremacy. Two thumbs way up.

We both read all of Ludlum's Bourne books about 15 years ago, and recently checked out The Bourne Identity on video.

We have been pleasantly surprised by both movies. Matt Damon fits our mental image of Jason Bourne, and even though we have forgotten all of the finer plot details (from which I understand the movies depart in some key ways) the overall characters and settings fit our memories of the books.

Now, where is that Amazon wish list. . . ?

Posted by JohnL at 09:35 PM | Comments (4) |
July 19, 2004

Vacation Photoblog - Part III

This should be the final entry. I hope you've enjoyed the pictures. All (except for the one of me in front of the P-38) were taken with our new Sony Cybershot P-100 5.1 megapixel digital camera. Easy to use, nice optics for its size, ergonomic, and small. Highly recommended.

Despite some minor complaints from the kids, we were able to haul them on several hikes this time, including one at high altitude. Here's the view at lunchtime, close to timberline:


And here's the view at 11,900 feet above mean -- highest point on the trail:


What's funny is that some people don't really grok this. They prefer the beach, or, [shudder] the plains. James Lileks thinks mountains are too obvious. Funny, I grew up in a city on the plain and have seen clouds like mountain ranges, but I have never experienced in Texas anything close to the awe I feel in the Rockies. (More pics in the extended entry). . .

The view from our balcony:


Morning jog scenery -- looking back at the condo from the other side of the valley:


A view of the narrow-gauge locomotive and bridge from our trip on the Historic Georgetown-Silver Plume loop railroad:


We heard a patriotic concert from the jammed town center and saw a surprisingly large and professional fireworks show on the Fourth of July:


Finally, we took my daughter horseback riding for her birthday:


If you've made it this far, thanks for indulging me.

Posted by JohnL at 10:09 PM | Comments (2) |
July 17, 2004

Vacation Photoblog Part II

Our vacation took us from nice-but-not-so-scenic Plano, Texas to Breckenridge, Colorado (elev. 9,600 feet).

Our first day was spent driving to Colorado Springs, where we spent one night. The next day, we visited the US Air Force Academy. (Pictures and more commentary in extended entry).

My wonderful family:


Yours truly in front of one of my favorite planes (and note the tasteful Rush 30 concert T-shirt):


From the Springs, we drove straight up into the Rockies, heading toward Colorado Hwy 9, but taking a brief detour in Florissant to see the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, notable for its petrified giant redwood tree stumps:


We then headed to Breckenridge to check into the condominium that would be our home for the next 10 days:


More later!

Posted by JohnL at 10:22 PM | Comments (2) |
July 15, 2004

Vacation Photoblog - Part I

Strange to start a vacation photoblog with pictures of food joints, eh?

Well, this vacation was different from previous years in that we decided to take a stand against McDonalds, BurgerKing, and other cheap, artery-clogging food in favor of non-chain, locally-owned, less cheap, artery-clogging food. (Actually, we ate pretty healthy, with most of our meals home-cooked in the huge kitchen of the condo we rented in Breckenridge).

I think we chose pretty well. (See extended entry for pics and critiques).

The Bun 'N' Wrap -- Dumas, Texas. Most Texans, Coloradoans, and New Mexicans are familiar with Dumas as primarily a cross-roads town between Amarillo and Texline in the Texas panhandle. Heading north on US287, you'll find this bright, clean, and well-run hot dog stop on the right-hand (east) side of the road just before the US287/87 split. Exceptionally good corndogs and seasoned curly fries. My lunch (brat with kraut and fries on the side) sure hit the spot. Owned by a transplanted Yankee. Great ballpark-themed atmosphere to match the food. A great excuse to visit Dumas, even if you're not driving to or from Colorado.


Old Chicago -- Downtown Colorado Springs. Not living in Colorado or the Midwest, we didn't know this was a chain, and technically a breach of our rules. Still, it was a restaurant we had never eaten at before, and had a great selection of beers, pizzas, and American-style pub food. I enjoyed a Fat Tire while snarfing down a Buffalo chicken sandwich for dinner at the end of our first day's drive:


The Best Western Pike's Peak Inn -- Colorado Springs. Not really conforming to the rules either, but I had to include this to point out that our "hot" (note scare quotes in picture) breakfast was indeed hot (pancakes, sausage, and eggs).


Horseshoe II Restaurant -- Breckenridge, Colorado. Nice view of the mountains from the upper deck. Reasonably-priced kids menu, and another good selection of local beers:


The Crown -- Breckenridge. My wonderful family standing outside this comfortable coffeeshop/ice cream parlor/pub that we visited multiple times:


Alpine Inn -- Georgetown, Colorado. On July 3, we took a ride on the Georgetown Loop steam train. We ate at this Inn for lunch. I was sad to hear the conductors say this will be the last season this train runs, as it will definitely impact local business like the Alpine Inn (but see this more optimistic assessment of the railway's future).


Mi Casa -- Breckenridge. Good Mexican food in Colorado? A dream come true for any true Texan. I had a very good beef fajita salad, while my wife, more daring, tried their Avocado Frito (deep-fried avocado with chicken -- mmmm).


Downstairs at Eric's -- Breckenridge. A great hang-out. I had Buffalo Wings (spicy enough for this Texan) and a buffalo (as in bison-meat) burger, all chased down with some "Hazed and Infused."


Sam Hill Pit BBQ -- Clarendon, Texas. Finally, we mourned our departure from Colorado and celebrated our return to Texas with some real Texas BBQ in this dusty panhandle town.


If you get a chance to visit or have previously visited one of these, please leave a comment!

More domestic bliss coming soon, along with some space, politics, and SF commentary as I get plugged back into cyberspace. Thanks!

Posted by JohnL at 10:44 PM | Comments (2) |

Seven Staples and a Headache

My second son (7) attempted a backwards flip/dive at our neighborhood pool when I was almost home from work today. My wife took him to the ER after dropping off our 5-year-old daughter to stay with me (eldest son is at scout camp, thankfully).

This is the son I expect to be the first (if not only) one of my kids to jump out of an airplane someday. He managed to expose his skull lining, but seven staples and a vicious headache later, he is doing fine.

Time for some adult refreshments. . .

Posted by JohnL at 08:39 PM | Comments (2) |
June 20, 2004

Happy Fathers' Day

Today was a happy Fathers' Day in the Lanius household.

The kids let me sleep in late and read the paper in bed with coffee. I got a couple of nice shirts, a gift card for Best Buy (with a note, "For the New Rush CD"), and, best of all, several lovely homemade cards from the kids.

I played Xbox with the boys for a couple of hours, bathed the dog, and began some repairs on my deck (I like yardwork, unlike some) before we headed over to my sister's for a cookout with my parents and some swimming.

In all, a great day. I've been neglecting the blog recently, but hope to have some quality postings this week to make up for the lack of quantity around here.

On deck this week:

More later.

Posted by JohnL at 10:28 PM | Comments (2) |
June 16, 2004

Home Improvements

OK, I'm back. That was fairly painless as far as home improvements and contractors go. If you live in the Dallas area and need the name of a great flooring guy, send me an email. Take a gander at the pix in the extended entry (I apologize for the low-light graininess; I'm still working with the 1 megapixel digital camera built into my camcorder, although we hope to be getting a dedicated 3+ megapixel still camera soon).

Here's our living area before, with the original 20+ year old carpet:

Living Room Carpet Before.jpg

Entry Way Carpet Tile Before.jpg

Office Carpet Before.jpg

After they ripped out the carpet, we were happy to see no major cracks in the foundation (a common problem in this part of Texas):

Living Room During.jpg

And the finished product:

Living Room After.jpg

Living Room After 2.jpg

Living Room After 3.jpg

This is a new kind of Pergo that has a very realistic wood grain and texture. I've seen real hardwoods (i.e., termite bait) that look more like stereotypical "Pergo" than this product. We are happy, although I have the sinking feeling that this is the first domino to fall, and my pocketbook will be getting progressively lighter as we start to update the rest of the house to match the beautiful new floors.

Posted by JohnL at 09:56 PM | Comments (3) |
June 13, 2004


We're about to embark on some home improvements.

Long story short, we have to completely empty the office (which has the only cable modem outlet in the house) and I will be offline for the next few days. When I return, I'll post some nifty before-and-after pics like Stephen Green.

Bis spaeter, hasta luego, etc.

Posted by JohnL at 08:30 PM | Comments (2) |
April 20, 2004

Good News About Jake

Well, life was quite interesting today. In case you missed the second update below, Jake the dog escaped our yard last night. We spent most of the day worrying, wondering why we hadn't picked up the crate so he could sleep indoors, wishing we had already "chipped" him (we're putting in a tracking chip), and otherwise blaming ourselves for normal dog behavior.

The good news came about 3:45 today. A homeowner about 3 miles away had Jake in his back yard. Here's the rascally runaway, looking quite pleased that he has gone from an outside dog to a house dog in less than 24 hours:
jake 042004b.jpg

My wife just said from the other room (without having read over my shoulder), "Look at him. So far he has gotten nothing but his way. He's not in the backyard!"

jake 042004.jpg

But we love him. Funny how it works like that.

Posted by JohnL at 09:30 PM | Comments (0) |
April 19, 2004

Newest Member of the Lanius Family

Jake 041904.jpg

This is our new dog, a rescued stray we have dubbed "Jake."

By the vet's estimate, he is an 18-month-old Golden Lab/German Shepherd mix.

He's had a hard life and is a little skittish around men, but has the gentle Labrador disposition with the kids and my wife.

He's already worked his way into our lives and you can expect some more stories and pictures about him in the future.

Update: I see that Ted's been doing some dog blogging recently, too. Small world.

Update 2: Sad development -- we didn't have a crate for him yet, so Jake slept in our backyard last night. We had an empty yard this morning -- he dug out under the fence. We've been looking for an hour, but no luck so far. Sad kids, sad dad. Will update later.

Posted by JohnL at 09:42 PM | Comments (1) |
March 29, 2004

Ancestral Accomplishments

Looks like Alan Brain is on this earth against the odds.

His grandfather survived four years of active duty as a sniper on the front lines in World War I and lived to tell the tale to a young Mr. Brain.

I don't have a similar tale of wartime courage about either of my grandfathers, but my maternal grandfather, Joseph M. Hill, MD, did manage to save the lives of thousands in World War II thanks to a method he developed of freeze-drying blood plasma. (See pp. 44-45 of this file, and the second paragraph of this one).

I wonder what stories my hypothetical grandchildren will remember about me?

Posted by JohnL at 11:36 PM | Comments (0) |
March 17, 2004

Lady Lex, Part 3: Blue Ghost Stories

I know I promised this yesterday. Oh well, so much for using an artificial deadline to motivate my writing. (If you missed the first two posts, here they are: part 1, part 2).

We reported to the Main Hangar Deck at 1700 hours for announcements. The Scouts, as their mandatory service project, had earlier arranged several hundred folding chairs before a raised stage. Unfortunately 7-to-11-year-old kids don't think about putting any space between chairs when lining them up. Sardines in a can would have more elbow room than we did. For those who did not read their Plan of the Day earlier, the Live Aboard program counselors summarized the rest of the evening's schedule and introduced the volunteers who would be leading tours throughout the ship later. After supper, we saw the IMAX movie Straight Up. I saw this movie last summer with my older son when we went to the Aviation Challenge Pilot/Co-pilot weekend program in Huntsville, Alabama. If you haven't seen this movie, you should check it out. I gained a much greater appreciation for the hazards
faced by Coast Guard rescue swimmers and high-tension electric power line maintainence workers. After the movie, we reported back to the Main Hangar Deck for evening colors. A LARGE United States flag (think Patton) hung from the ceiling behind the stage. Different-aged scouts from the various packs and troops presented the flags from each branch of the armed services, including the Coast Guard. We then watched a patriotic slideshow, which included Johnny Cash's Ragged Old Flag and some country version of God Bless the USA.

Now, you have to know me to really appreciate just how deep my loathing for country music runs. Being a multiple-generation native Texan, that makes me a bit of an anomaly. And if you need to know anything else about me, as a libertarian, I am normally pretty skeptical about how patriotism can be manipulated by politicians to gain and consolidate power. So believe me when I say that this show of patriotism put an authentic lump in my throat, against all odds. I thought of the men and women in our armed forces who are in daily danger trying to subdue and reform the barbarians hammering at our gates. In many ways the ceremony summoned emotions similar to my post-9-11 feelings: what would normally seem corny or a little hokey was instead just honest pride and gratitude that I was blessed to have been born here.

After the ceremony, we adjourned to roam the ship. Descending into the engineering section, we heard the first of many ghost stories of the night. Seems the volunteers have seen a few different ghosts (the same ones again and again). They even have a "ghost cam" installed in the ship so that Internet viewers can try to sight them. I didn't see anything (nor did I expect to). But based on my experiences later in the evening, I am sure that the volunteers really have seen ghosts -- or at least hallucinations resulting from suggestability, lack of sleep, and high doses of refined sugar ;-)

After exploring for an hour or so, I got my boys settled in front of Pirates of the Caribbean on a large-screen TV. We then went to the fo'c's'le, a large spookily resonant space for some ghost stories. After scaring the bejeebers out of the kids, we then turned in for the night.

As a footnote, I stood watch as a volunteer fire watchman until 0300 hours, and had an interesting adventure. But I can't divulge the details. Maybe some other time.

After Reveille at 0630, we got ready for breakfast, packed up, and had a closing ceremony. I then made the 8-hour drive back to Plano on 3-and-a-half hours of sleep. Fun.

If you live in Texas and have kids in an organized group, you should definitely look into the Live Aboard program on the Lexington. I have also heard that there are similar programs in other parts of the country on other decommissioned Navy ships. Seek out these opportunities, as they present a truly unique way to teach your kids some history and to have a really memorable experience together.

Posted by JohnL at 08:28 PM | Comments (0) |
March 15, 2004

Lady Lex, Part 2: The Blue Ghost

As mentioned last week, I took my two sons down to Corpus Christi to spend the night on the USS Lexington.

As you can read on her official website, the Lex is a WWII-vintage Essex-class aircraft carrier that was converted to carry jets in the 1950s, and then served with great distinction as a training carrier for almost thirty years from 1962 until she was decommissioned in 1991.

We have a family link to this carrier, as my wife's biological father (a Navy pilot shot down and killed in Vietnam two months before her birth) did his carrier landing training on the Lexington. The Lex accommodates Scout and Y-guide groups in a one-or-two-night "live aboard" program. We did this 2 years ago and had so much fun that we were eager to return when our Cub Scout pack planned another trip this year. (This trip also gave my younger son the chance to experience this as an official Tiger Cub Scout and to get a patch for it).

We checked in at the pier at 1000 hours (military time seems most appropriate here) on Saturday and received our orders: Find your assigned berth (enlisted quarters, three bunks high and spaced only a couple of feet apart), make your bed, get some chow (chili dogs, yum), and explore until 1700 hours. We began after lunch with the flight deck. It's amazing just how big these ships are. Even more amazing when you realize that a modern nuclear carrier like the USS Ronald Reagan is almost a third again as long and about 60 feet wider. My boys liked the F-14 and the Cobra gunship best of the aircraft on the flight deck (I was puzzled by the presence of an army helicopter there).

After touring the bridge and the rest of the conning tower, we walked down to the Texas State Aquarium. I visited it first with my younger son, while my older son continued to tour the ship with one of his buddies (and family). I then deposited the younger son with his friends and their families and got to see the aquarium a second time with my older son, who really appreciated it; he and I have discovered a mutual love for fish through our combined efforts to get his own little 10-gallon aquarium established. We got back to the ship with about 15 minutes to spare, and got ready for the evening schedule:

More tomorrow. . .

Posted by JohnL at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) |

Breaking Radio Silence

I'm sorry for the light posting for the last several days. I took Wednesday through Friday off work to spend some time with my kids during their Spring break and to get some yard work done (lots of fun around the Lanius house).

How did I spend my time? Mowing, weeding, laying brick borders, mulching, trimming. Firing up the grill. Enjoying a homemade margarita while cooking up dinner. Watching Caddyshack and The Manchurian Candidate on DVD. Playing Runaway Train (or, perhaps politically incorrectly, "Mexican Train") Dominoes with the entire family.

In short, staying away from the Internet.

Now, with my creative batteries recharged, I will return to my regular posting schedule.

Posted by JohnL at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) |
March 09, 2004

Lady Lex, Part 1: The Journey Begins

As alluded to yesterday, I had a big weekend involving the USS Lexington in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The Lexington hosts a "Live Aboard" program for youth groups (mostly Scouts and Y-guides), through which the kids and their parents get to spend one or two nights on this storied aircraft carrier. I picked up my two boys (a 9-year-old Webelos Scout and a 7-year-old Tiger Cub Scout) from school on Friday at 12:30; they got out early for Spring break. We hit the road about an hour later, leaving my lovely wife and 4-year-old daughter behind in Plano.

First thing to understand: Texas is big. No, scratch that. Texas is BIG. Our enrollment in the one night program meant that I had committed to about 16 hours of driving in exchange for 24 hours on an old warship.

Seems like a fair trade to me!

We arrived in Corpus at 9:30 PM and checked into our hotel, located in the midst of the tenderloin of Corpus Christi: strip clubs, hourly motels, shady characters. We ate a late dinner at the McDonald's in the 'hood. Interesting people-watching. Thugs, a likely hooker, a panhandler or two. Good "diversity" training for the Lanius spawn.

We made it safely to the hotel, where my kids were overjoyed to find "Spongebob" on the TV. They would have been happy just vegetating in front of the tube for the weekend. Forget spending the night on a historic aircraft carrier, let's watch bad animation on Nickelodeon! Just proves how right we are to be one of those archaic families that doesn't subscribe to cable or satellite TV.

Well, knowing we would be getting up about 7:00 AM to get breakfast and head for the ship, I decided to terminate Mr. Squarepants at around 11:15 PM. After a relaxing night's sleep and a decent hot breakfast (thanks, Drury Inn!) we set out for the ship. Installment two tomorrow.

Posted by JohnL at 11:16 PM | Comments (1) |
March 08, 2004

Too. Tired. To. Blog.

I had a busy busy weekend and am short on sleep. No real blogging tonight, even though there is a lot to write about.


The Answer.

More details tomorrow.

Posted by JohnL at 10:10 PM | Comments (0) |
January 06, 2004

"Well, I'm Back"

I have just read the last line of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King to my eldest son, completing the year-and-a-half project of reading the books out loud to him. It's amazing how moving much of Tolkien's dialogue can be when spoken aloud (especially much of the speech of the Rohirrim). Of course that is balanced out by lengthy passages and genealogies rivaling some books of the Old Testament (or Tanakh, depending on your preference) in their difficulty to read aloud. The title of this post is also appropriate for my return to regular blogging, which I tried to do last night before a Blogspot outage shut me down.

I note that Professor Hall is back with regular postings and a great "what I did over my vacation" post. I had a similarly fun break for the last two weeks, although with less traveling.

We spent the weekend before Christmas exploring Dinosaur Valley State Park and Fossil Rim nature preserve in Glen Rose, Texas (about an hour and a half from where we live). We stayed in town for Christmas, but thanks to the babysitting duties of my wonderful parents-in-law, my wife and I got away for a couple of days after Christmas to a fantastic bed and breakfast in the Texas Hill Country. We spent time enjoying good food, walking outdoors, shopping in Fredericksburg, and visiting the National Museum of the Pacific War.

I've lived here almost my entire life, and am still amazed at the treasures Texas offers up.

Posted by JohnL at 09:17 PM | Comments (0) |
December 24, 2003

Christmas Break

Blogging will be light for the next few days as I celebrate Christmas here with my family. I hope you all have a safe, joyous, and peaceful holiday. In addition to the excellent Virginia Postrel piece on Christmas lights that I linked to yesterday, James Lileks had a fun Bleat about a bus tour to see Christmas lights in and around his city. My part of Plano has several festive houses, but my kids tell me these are the "best lights ever" --

Warmest Wishes of the Season to all of you.

Posted by JohnL at 06:23 PM | Comments (0) |
December 03, 2003

A Few of My Favorite Things

If you missed it last week, Stephen Green put up a list of things he is thankful for.

I'm willing to bet that most males would concur.

Posted by JohnL at 11:09 PM | Comments (0) |
December 01, 2003

Back in the Saddle

Time flies when you're having fun.

And we had quite a bit over the Thanksgiving holiday. We stayed in town, enjoying dinner at my parents' house. Played football in the backyard with my sons while my daughter collected colored leaves. Ate too much, but what kind of holiday would it be without the gluttony? My Cowboys lost, but the Longhorns won. Now I find myself in the unsavory position of being an Oklahoma fan for one weekend, in the hopes that UT can secure a bid to a BCS bowl (likely the Fiesta). However, I missed the Longhorn game as I was enjoying a Friday
afternoon showing of Elf. If you haven't seen this movie yet, go see it. Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. The entire movie is good-hearted and the last 10 minutes or so will rekindle your belief in Santa Claus in much the same way as other Holiday classics such as Miracle on 34th Street (the original) and The Polar Express.

P.S. Good news on the pet front. . . our toad still lives, although the blue neon tetra met his maker a couple of days ago (predicted here).

Posted by JohnL at 10:45 PM | Comments (0) |
November 25, 2003

Requiem for All Creatures Great And Small

I apologize in advance for this: I am not Lileks, who I am sure could do this subject more justice than I. I don't usually share much of my domestic circumstances here, but tonight is such a "perfect storm" of pet misfortune that I have to type a few words.

Background: my wife has asthma and is very allergic to cats; somewhat to dogs. But we are both animal lovers and want our kids to learn to be as well. Therefore, we keep a few small pets -- a hamster, fish, and a toad. Our main pet is a hamster, Perky, who just passed away after seeming to recover from a brief bout of wet tail.

I wonder now if it was actually wet tail or just old age, as she was approaching the two-year-old maximum lifespan of hamsters. You don't know sorrow until you have three kids under the age of 10 experiencing this kind of loss for the first time. This comes on the heels of my killing of my second son's two about-to-metamorphose tadpoles last week by using dechlorinated city water instead of the bottled "drinking water" we had been using. Add to that the fact that his wild toad hasn't eaten for the last two weeks, and things look pretty glum in the
Lanius household.

Oh yeah, one of my first son's neon tetra fish (which we just got a couple of days ago) is having major equiulibrium problems (swimming nose-down or upside down) and I am concerned that his days are also numbered.


Posted by JohnL at 09:58 PM | Comments (0) |
October 12, 2003

Gone Camping

Our weekend was wide open, the kids were on Fall break, the calendar was clear of sporting and other commitments. Finding ourselves with nothing to do, we headed up to Eisenhower State Park. Situated on the southern shores of Lake Texoma within 20 minutes of the birthplace of President Eisenhower, the park is only about a one-hour drive from our home in Plano.

We spent most of our time learning how to pitch our new 10-person tent (which means, of course, that only the five members of our family can sleep in it comfortably), building the cooking fires for dinner and breakfast, and cleaning up after dinner and breakfast. Throw in a 90-minute nature walk that included skipping rocks, picking apart crawfish shells, and catching crickets, and that was it. In other words, perfect.

I know that I had much more fun skipping rocks with my kids in the fresh, 70-degree autumn air than I would have had watching my beloved Longhorns surrender for the fourth year in a row to the awful Oklahoma Sooners.

Posted by JohnL at 09:17 PM | Comments (0) |