Monday, November 27, 2006

Quick Vacations

Isn't it amazing how quickly five days off from work can go by?

We started off the holiday Wednesday night by purchasing a complete "nursery in a box" to outfit the baby's room. Wednesday evening I began assembling, with assurance from the web community that this particular product was "easy to assemble." I should know better. I began by dumping parts A through ZZZ onto the family room floor. I started with the chest of drawers, and after about 20 screws, I decided that a power tool was in order. Lucky for me my powered screwdriver had a dead battery, so it was helpful for approximately half a drawer. Things were sailing along with little trouble, until I started to notice that for three pieces of furniture, the assembly instructions consisted of one sheet of paper. It was at this approximate level of detail:

1. open box
2. put together chest of drawers
3. stop swearing. put together crib.
4. stop kicking and swearing. dress any wounds from screwdriver.
5. put together changing table.

At one point I screwed the back panel onto the front of one of the pieces. Argh. The other annoyance was that after about 500 screws, the company switched to fasteners requiring an allen wrench. It was barrels of fun trying to twist in another 500 screws with a tool designed for hands the size of a toddlers. The whole experience took about three hours, but in the end, we got furniture that actually looks decent and serves the purpose. Erin was delighted, and she didn't even notice all my mistakes.

Thursday was spent in Bedford with our family. We had a nice Thanksgiving. It was a great chance to update our families on what's happening with the adoptions, and it was also great to hear what is going on in everyone else's lives. Plus I managed to eat a small planet worth of food.

After spending the night at a local hotel in Bedford (these words alone should suggest "not gonna be 4 star") we headed to the new casino at French Lick. I should note that Erin and her mom nearly got us run out of Lawrence County when they inquired at the front desk of the local hotel about the possibility of obtaining an alcoholic beverage on the evening of Thanksgiving. The kind lady gave us a "drinkin's sinnin'" look before telling us that no (respectible) place would be open for such a drink on a major holiday. To make matter's worse, wife and mother of wife then proceeded to ask "Well then is there anywhere to get some dessert? Maybe a hot fudge sundae?"

"McDonald's is 2 blocks down on the right."


French Lick, the home of Larry Bird and former home of my favorite establishment -- "French Liquors," is home to a new casino attached to the French Lick Springs resort. For those who don't know, French Lick used to be quite the gambling destination for the likes of Al Capone and other sordid characters of the 20th century. Now it's turned its greedy gaze to the citizens of southern Indiana. It's always entertaining to see a glassy eyed pensioner chained, quite literally, to a slot machine -- cigarette firmly lodged in the corner of the mouth, mixed beverage in hand, shouting obscenities at a slot machine in the parlance of southern Indiana:

"We's lost six months of disability on this here machine!"

"Mavis, see if you can track down one of them girls to get mamaw another pack of Marlboro's."

It was a Thanksgiving cornucopia of "I seen's," "we's," and "don't got's."

After a day at the casino, we took in some shopping at the outlet mall on the way home, moving us closer still to finishing our Christmas shopping for 2006. All in all, not a bad way to spend a holiday. Any vacation featuring vast quantities of food and slot machines can't be all bad.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The City County Building

As part of Domestic Adoption Dance Party 2006, we've been required by the great state of Indiana to have background checks done in every county we've lived in during the past five years. Luckily this is only two counties so it's not so much of a hassle. But if they'd asked me to do this in 2000, I'd be doing some serious travling. In an effort to fulfill this request in a timely fashion, Erin and I headed to the City County Building to get our checks done for Marion County, better known to the rest of the world as the city of Indianapolis. Now there are few places on planet Earth where you feel more like a criminal than the City County Building. This building houses many of the city courts for Indianapolis, and it's adjacent to the jail, so it's not exactly a debutante ball.

In our post-9/11 universe, the first thing you encounter as you enter the door is a row of metal detectors and airport-style baggage scanners. This is accompanied by a woman with a voice to make Ethel Merman proud shouting "Remove all coats and belts, and remove all objects from your pockets." No sweat. We stood in line watching people get scanned, poked, and prodded by the security team, and finally, the line reached the girl in front of us. She pealed off her coat and threw it on the conveyor belt. She then tossed her purse on the conveyor. At this point, the process stopped.

"Mam, you can't take that in there."
"What choo talkin' 'bout?"
"Your purse."
"What about it?"
"The handle is a handcuff. You can't take that in there."

Shore 'nough. The girl had a pink purse which featured the adorning glow of a silver handcuff as part of the strap. She pleaded that the cuff was fake, but it made no difference. We chuckled to ourselves about this incident, and I silently wondered why I'd never dated any girls who brought their own handcuffs, but we fully expected to move right on through the process in no time flat.

I went first. I threw my belt, change, and coat on the conveyor. Right on through. No sweat. Next up -- the wife.

"Ma'am, you'll need to remove your necklace."
"Ok, here ya go."
"Ma'am, this is too long."
"No, actually it's very nice. It hangs just low enough to look sophisticated, but..."
"No, it's too long to take in."
"Really? You're serious?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Can I leave it with you?"
"Yes, but we get to keep it."
"Can I hide it in the bushes?"
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that, ma'am."

At this point, my wife returned to our car, several blocks away, to put away her necklace. Now, what I don't understand is this. They let me enter the building with my belt, and the circumference of my waist is much greater than that of my wife's neck (if this isn't true in your family, God bless you). Therefore I can't see how her flimsy little jewelry is more dangerous than my leather belt, but common sense has escaped us in these times.

The rest of the fingerprinting was uneventful, except for the fact that you can't actually take the background check with you. You have to go back a day later to pick it up, thus getting to experience the City County Building for a second time. And this just covers one of the two counties...I'm sure the other county will be an adventure as well.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


This morning on my way to work, I got behind a circa-1984 Ford Tempo with a license plate ring that read "Cruising Into The Future." Now my uncle owned one of these little monsters, therefore I have a bit of inside knowledge that anyone driving a Tempo is lucky to be cruising out of their driveway, let alone into the future. I will never forget going to my aunt and uncle's house and seeing their Tempo parked in the driveway, where it had been for several months, with a pile of kitty litter under it to catch all of the fluids as they drained out of the vehicle. The thing leaked like the Titanic. It was not a reliable vehicle, to say the least.

This got me thinking about all the cars my parents drove while I was growing up. My dad is easily the most knowledgable person on cars, engines, folk music, human organs, dirigibles, firearms, animal parts, Civil War wound cleaning, flammable hand cleansers, welding, fire, leaf clearing, Christmas light hanging, plants and birds and rocks and things, that I've ever known, yet there have been some questionable automobile purchases in our family's past. For example, I remember at one point we had both a Ford Pinto and a Ford Grenada. Everyone knows the story about the incredible exploding Pinto, but do you remember the story of the Ford Grenada? Perhaps you remember its cousin, the Mercury Monarch? That's right, you don't even remember the Ford Grenada. That's because they've all rusted out of existence and memory. It took almost three minutes to even find a picture of a Grenada on the Internet! At another point, we owned both a Chrysler Horizon AND a Dodge Omni. That had to put us in some kind of special class all our own. I distinctly remember learning several new swears while dad worked on the Horizon. It was a fine automobile, with its add-on air conditioning and silky hatchback. I remember the hatchback more vividly than most. Very few children have ridden from Indianapolis to Louisville in the hatchback of a Horizon with four adults and a baby occupying the rest of the seats while listening to Zig Ziglar tapes on the add-on cassette deck. The tapes make more sense now that I'm an adult. Anyone driving a Horizon needed some tips on success. At least my folks removed the deck lid from the trunk so I could see out into the rest of the world while being indoctrinated. Humerously, the first link I saw on Ziglar's home page was for an article called "How To Survive A Road Trip With The Kids." Here's a hint -- don't pop in one of Zig's tapes. Or make the kids ride in the trunk.

My dad has owned some really cool cars as well. He owned a 1964 (and a half!) Ford Mustang. I was in 6th grade when he purchased this little convertible, and I thought it was about the greatest thing ever. He even got me a belt buckle with a gold plated Mustang emblem on it. (This belt buckle also insured that I wouldn't date too young. Interestingly, I found this buckle not too long ago, and the top half of it was corroded. I spent some time trying to figure out why just the top would be corroded, then it dawned on me that when I was in 6th grade, I ate rather substantially, and the corrosion was from my gut reminding my belt that it had better hold on tight.) Dad also owned a 1980 MGB convertible, which was a fun little car, until you had to order parts from the UK, which usually meant another lesson in anger management from dad.

I could write a whole book on this topic. I haven't even mentioned all of the car-aircraft carrier-combos that one of my other uncles has driven over the years. Or the fact that my dad also owned an AMC Javelin that he still defends with "that was a pretty little car!" when harrassed. Currently I drive a big, white Hyundai Sonata. It's been a great car. I never have any problems with it, it has plenty of room inside, and it didn't cost much. I've also been informed that the car would have only been unhip, had I not gotten it in white, so now it's not only unhip, but it also makes me a champion for the elderly. I care not. The car is reliable and comfortable; therefore, I like it. And it requires no kitty litter after operating.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Now I know for a fact that my brother-in-law Troy has asked for dolls, er, I mean toys, for Christmas in the past -- most recently a Darth Tader and a Spud Trooper. Therefore I have no shame in presenting you this -- the Brian Wilson action figure. Now most people in my family realize I'm a pretty big fan of the Beach Boys, and in reality, I'm an even bigger Brian Wilson fan. He has written some of my favorite music of all time. But I just can't see myself sitting on the floor of the living room posing Brian's legs while he plays "I Get Around." I mean, they didn't even do a circa-1964 "playing bass wearing a striped shirt Brian", instead they opted for the "considering building a sandbox in my family room, I hear voices telling me to raid the fridge again" circa-1966 Brian. I've supported all of the wacky Brian Wilson projects over the past few years, and sometimes they've been surprisingly good (see "SMiLE" and his Christmas album from last year). But I don't see myself picking up a posable Brian Wilson any time soon.

Here's a link to Brian Wilson's website regarding the action figure project, and here's a link to a funny news story about it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Poke Me Again Please

If you're a faithful reader of our blog, you'll recall that many of the entries from last November and December centered around us filling out paperwork, getting things notarized, and getting poked and prodded for the purposes of creating a medical history and dossier for our Chinese adoption.

Now it's 2006, and we're doing it all over again for our domestic adoption. All the family histories ("So, Dad, you're still alive, right?), medical information ("That's great, doc, I don't have ebola this year either!") and picture collecting ("Geez, honey. We looking smashing yet again this year!) is being done again. The hundreds of dollars and duplicated effort will all be worth it in a few months, but in the mean time, it's making me surly.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"Album" by Peter, Paul & Mary (1966)

Over the past few weeks, my CD collection has been going through a major overhaul. The introduction of the iPod into my life has alerted me to the fact that I own a lot of music that I no longer care about. It's not that I think it's bad or that I shouldn't have bought it in the first place, rather it's about my tastes changing as I get older. I don't listen to nearly as much stuff as I used to, so when I do listen to something, it had better be good. I have discovered this wonderful site called where you essentially trade CDs for $1 each. My goal has been to unload lots of stuff I'm not actively listening to in exchange for stuff that I'll hopefully listen to for the forseeable future. One of the groups I've been picking up is Peter, Paul & Mary. Now many of you may be surprised that I don't already own all their stuff, but for whatever reason, I only owned their debut album, therefore is providing me an excellent way of picking up some more of their stuff cheaply.

One of the things that is frequently happening to me as I get older is I'll hear a quick fragment of a song in my head, and many times I have absolutely no idea why I know the song or where I've heard it. As it turns out, several of those songs land on this album. My dad owned this on record when I was a kid, and since I dang near wore out every record he owned, it's not surprising that I know this one backwards and forwards as well. I guess in the grand scheme of PP&M records it's not considered a jewel, but for my money, there are some true gems on here. "And When I Die" was a hit for Blood, Sweat and Tears later on, but this version squashes their version like a grape. "Hurry Sundown" has a haunting minor key harmony that sticks in your head (actually, this is one of the songs that for years I've been trying to figure out where I know it from). Additionally there are wonderful covers of John Denver's "For Baby (For Bobbie)" and The Weavers' "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine." With the exception of a couple of late 60's clunkers in the middle, this is a fantastic record.

After I received this CD in the mail, I did a quick web search on PP&M and discovered that Mary Travers is recovering from Leukemia over the past year. I'll make no jokes about the age of my parents, but it's hard for even me to believe that she turns 69 next week. Paul McCartney is 64. The 1960's are quickly slipping into history as evidenced by one of my wife's high school students asking "Who are The Beatles?" a few weeks back. Ouch.

"And When I Die"
"Hurry Sundown"
"For Baby (For Bobbie)"

Peter, Paul & Mary website link
Allmusic Guide link