Saturday, October 29, 2005
Happy Birthday to MeeeeeeEEeeeeee!
Yes - I'm another year older - 39. I can't believe it's gone so fast. I'm not worried much about coming up on 40 years of age. But it does really bug the heck outta me that I'm only 11 years away from 50. Jeesh!
I was tired and jetlagged from my trip to London. But I was also delighted to be home with Kelly and the kids. If you compare the difference between fun and joy, you get a real sense for the difference between a nice trip out to London and a nice return home to my family. The trip to London was fun. But the return home to my family is the true joy of my life.
Kelly went overboard and surprised me with quite a few nice gifts. Yessir - no simple ties and socks goin' on at Casa De Zebraman. Of course, the kids wouldn't believe Kelly when she explained that one of my favorite guy toys are RC cars. She bought me an awesome RC over their loud protests. And what did I think of it? I loved it?
The other uber-cool gift was Sirius Satelite radio for my car. It's awesome. If you spend much time in your car or, like me, you simply cannot stand commercials then you should seriously look into either XM or Sirius radio. They're both very close in price and offerings. One thing to remember about satellite radio however is that your antenna must have an unblocked view of the sky. ('Cuz dat's where satelites live!) Any time that drive-thrus, parking garage roofs, or even big trees get in the way, your signal gets dropped. 'Cept for that, it's awesome!
Finally, one of the great joys of any gift giving occassion is to see what the youngsters do with your leftover boxes. Katie Jo made the best of the opportunity!
That's the carcass of the RC racer box she's wearing like a pair of old shorts.
Friday, October 28, 2005
A Conclusion for the London Trip
It's time to return home and it's ABOUT TIME to return home. I really miss Kell and the kids and I can't wait to show them their gifts. Not only is it time to get home. It's time for me to celebrate my last birthday as a 30-something. I just cannot believe my thirties have gone by so quickly. The funny thing now is that I feel better now and feel healthier now than I did 10 years ago.
London was great! West End theater was great. (I saw Ductastic.)
The weather was better than anything the English had encountered since 1969. (Ah, a good year, eh Kell?) Working with my British colleagues was a pleasure. The Brits do things differently, but it's all good. I look forward to heading back to the London office in the future. This time I'll have friends who are already in the office instead of having to meet people and make friends for the first time.
One thing that's great about Britain in general and London in particular is that almost all of the cities have grown very organically over many centuries. Reading maps took me a bit of getting used to. I was constantly overestimating the distance on the maps. Here in the US, an inch or two on the map might be a couple miles because the city was built in a very planned fashion across many miles. In London, an inch or two on the map might only be three hundred yards. As it turns out, House of Parliament, Big Ben (aka "The Great Clock"), the Tate Museum, St Paul's Cathedral, and the Eye of London were all in easy walking distance of our office.
London has been great, but I really truly can't wait to be home with my loved ones.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
A Night in London's West End Theater District
I could see one of the spires from St Paul's cathedral out of our office windows. So when the first opportune moment came up - I was out the door looking for St Paul's. A quick jaunt up Ludgate Road and under the road through the Underground Station (there was no cross-walk) led me to my goal. (No, not Hooters Restaurant!)
St Paul's charges about $16 admission (8 pounds at the current exchange rate). So I only went into the lobby area. Plus, I'd seen it in the past and just wanted a reminder of how lovely it really is. I just love cathedrals, the amazing way that they lift up your eyes to heaven, and the beautiful interplay of the sunlight pouring through the stained glass windows onto the tiled four.
Once my meetings finished up in the afternoon, I headed back to the hotel to drop of my office gear. I then headed back out the door, into a cab, then down to West End by Covent Garden. They're very happenin' areas and, while most of London is kind'a sleepy after 9:00 pm, these areas are totally hoppin' well past 12:30 am when I finally headed home.
The show I went to see was a comedy called "Ductastic". (See details at http://www.londontheatrebookings.com/ducktastic.htm.) It was funny, very silly, and rather lewd at a couple points. Yes - it was just my speed. In one of those "ain't it a small world?" moments, the older couple sitting next to me happened to have lived and worked in Nashville for 12 years back in the mid-90's. So we went out for a chat and drinks after the show.
For some reason, my pics aren't posting. But I'll go ahead and publish the blog entry and then try to add them later.
All me best,
Monday, October 24, 2005
It's for that very reason that I chose to make Mondays a special day of remembrance, a day where I give thanks for joys and smiles. Here's a short list of just a few such things:
"Mawwaige... Twue Wove...."
Playing go fish with my little girls, Katie Jo and Anna Lynn
Kender waking up in a good mood
Dylan or Emily displaying genuine and sincere thanks
Of course, I have no idea what color that test actually shows up as since I'm red/green color-blind. I hope it's purty!
And now, a bit more poetry. I'm going to explain this other one just a tad bit more since I'd failed to explained the previous poem and everyone thought that poem, about kissing, was some kind'a pervert'o'gram. This one is about heartbreak, yearning, and the ups and downs of love:
Love in my heart is a new tide flowing
Where the starlike sea gulls soar;
The sun is high and the foam is roiling
High on the sandy shore.
But against my will the tide seems turning,
Lower the star gulls soar.
Are the waves that rose in resistless yearning
Broke now forevermore?
Sunday, October 23, 2005
London-town, turn me around
I'm happy to report that my flight(s) were very uneventful, with the sole exception that my connection from Nashville to London was too short. So I was huffin' it through O'Hare at top speed. I was about three gates away when I heard the last call for me and one other passanger over the PA system. Whew! I just barely made it and would've missed it if I hadn't run from the G gates to the K gates - that's the entire length of the freakin' airport.
I was also pleased to see they had some decent films on the flight overseas. I chose to watch 'Batman Begins', which I really like perhaps more than any other Batman movie, and then got about 4-5 hours of sleep before landing in Heathrow.
(Just to give you a taste of what my international travels have been like, I'll have to post my account of the last time I was in London. It was so frought with problems that I thought Ashton Kutcher was going to come of a room and tell me I'd been punked dude! But that's for another posting.)
So far, the trip is shaping up to be much better than my last time out. Even the weather was quite pleasant for late October in England - temperate and sunny, though showers did eventually push their way in. Anyway, I have to deal with terrible jet lag if I nap after an international trip. So I combat jetlag by staying up at least until 7:00 pm local time and having dinner. Since it was only 10:30 am local time when I checked in, I had a full day ahead of me. So I took a shower and decided to grab some lunch.
I chose not to eat at this place:
They said the food was tangy and twangy, but I just had to say no and go for some fish and chips. After lunch, I went to the best place you can go on a Sunday afternoon on a fall day in London - Hyde Park. Now, Hyde Park is a beautiful place to begin with. But Sundays are especially nice because local artists come out by the dozens maybe even hundreds to display and, they hope, to sell some of their work. They set up all along the fenceline separating Hyde Park from Bayswater Road. It looks like this:
For some reason, I only took one picture of Bayswater Road and it's not a really good one with a lot of artists. But I hope you get the idea.
I was able to find some really cute local art for Kelly and the girls. So now I just have to figure out something for Dylan.
Hyde Park is probably the biggest park in all of London and it is quite beautiful. My favorite part within the Park is the "Italian Gardens" which is right by the Lancaster Gate and a very nice hotel called the Royal Lancaster, which I've stayed at twice in the past. The Italian Gardens stretch all throughout the Park on a sort of north-south trail following a creek and lake. Here's a fairly nice pic of one view of the Italian Gardens:
A few other interesting things were immediately evident. For example, despite our high gasoline prices, they still have it worse in the UK and I assume the rest of Europe. Gasoline here was about 1 pound per liter. That's almost $1.80 per liter or about $6 per gallon. Yikes!
From Hype Park, I headed back east towards my hotel and the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London. However, I struck by a site I'd never seen before. Since I was missing Kelly and the kids already, this scene had me fighting back tears. It was the hidden Children's Cemetary of Hyde Park. There were about 100-120 tiny tombstones in the little cemetary. All the epitaphs said things like "Our Little Cyp, 1891-1894" or "Sweetest Cynthia, 1890-1896" on monuments that weren't much bigger than an issue of Time magazine. So sad...
I paused and wondered what had taken all of these beloved children from their families? Was there some sort of plague that swept through London in the late 1800's that required quick and unsophisticated burials or did the English simply decide to bury all of their children together at that time for some unknown reasons? It was a mystery that I couldn't solve, but left me yearning for my own kids to hold and embrace.
Between Hyde Park and Bloomsbury lies the extremely popular shopping district called "Oxford Street". I spent quite a bit of time window shopping and even went into a few stores. This kind'a place would be heavenly for Kelly, but it was just plain ol' tiring for me. I'd probably already walked 4 or 5 miles by this time. So at this point, it was time for a Starbuck's Mocha to recharge me and get me back to the hotel. On the rest of the trek back to the hotel, I encountered lots of other beautiful architecture - London is just full of it, such as the Sicilian Avenue:
Everywhere you look, every surface is covered with polished granite and tile. If you like stone in your architecture, you'll love London.
Now I'm contemplating dinner and bed but I wanted to let you know about my busy day. I hope your Sunday was a wonderful day too.
Cheers from da...
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I wasn't going to show this, but...
Now, I want to especially point out that beach vacations are not the ideal for me. I burn so frequently and so often that beach vacations almost always mean a great deal of skin pain and, yes, that's with SPF 50. But the kids don't have any issues with sunburning, due to inheriting Kelly's ability to tan almost instantly and, on those rare times when they do burn, it quickly turns to tan and never burns again. I have the magical ability to burn, suffer, peel, and burn again and all within 3 or 4 days. I'm certain that comes from my German ancestry and NOT my Italian ancestry. Bleck!
There's something really special about people who care deeply about you. I'm really proud to be a part of this group of people. It's also really cool hanging out with people who you feel comfortable leaving your kids with. It takes a lot of trust to do that. So it's a compliment to me when folks would leave their kids with me and an indication of my trust when I'd leave my kids with someone else.
So my trips to the gym have been paying off. Now I have to get my cholesterol and triglicerides in order!
Remind me how...
remind me how you like it best
heated rush or bated breath
gently brushed across the lip
wide-mouthed crushing liquid flow
wrestling tight arms entwined
loosely clutched hips duo
taste and smell a kiss bequest
remind me how you like it best
Monday, October 17, 2005
I got the nickname "Zebra-man" about nine years ago entirely by accident. It was an early Saturday morning in the summer time and my then five year old son (Dylan) and two-and-a-half year old daughter (Emily) were wrestling and tickling in bed.
We were having a big time when our domestic goddess and my wife called us in to a fantastic country breakfast. (You can read my wife's awesome blog at http://kellykline.blogspot.com/). We all jumped up and ran into the kitchen for fried eggs with bacon, biscuits, and gravy when my son asked "Daddy, why are you wearing those zebra undies?"
I looked down and, sure enough, I was wearing zebra patterned undies. So, just as a joke, I replied "Because I'm a superhero and my secret identity is ... ZEBRAMAN!" I posed in a bunch of bodybuilder/superhero poses. My kids (and wife) were all practically rolling on the floor, laughing.
Then my son pointed his fork at me, and with a very serious expression, asked "If you're a superhero, what are your powers?"
I tried to think of some zebra-related superpowers and, coming up with very little, decided to go for silly powers rather than cool ones. "Why, I can blend in with savanna grasses of course!" was my reply.
Dylan and Emily were not impressed. But they REALLY got a laugh out of seeing me do the bodybuilder poses, so we all took turns doing them for the next half-hour. I think we've got some pictures of the kids posing somewhere around the house.
And now you know the rest of the story!
This is Monday. And Monday is sometimes a tough day because you have to get back to work. So I've decided to make this my own personal "Things that make me smile" day to remind me of the things that make my life worthwhile. So here are a few to remind me of the good things in life:
Things that make me smile
Seeing my son play guitar and sing
Finishing a big project at work
Hearing my wife or kids sing, even moreso when they sing together
How about you?