Sunday, September 28, 2008

Would you believe...

...the new daily driver is a 1987 Volkswagen Cabriolet?

From Cabriolet

From Cabriolet

No cracks about it being a girl's car.

There's something about 80's cars that I love. There are few cars from this time period more iconic than a Mk1 Volkswagen... they are the forefathers of the modern hot hatchbacks. Plus it's great riding around with the top down.

The heat works, the air works, new Alpine radio with iPod adapter, tires with tread... and it's pretty good on gas. It's already got the Mustang beat.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sometimes Nothing Can Be a Real Cool Hand

It's with a heavy heart that I wake to a world without Paul Newman. Note to Lalo Schiffrin... compose something fitting.

Goodbye Lucas Jackson

Goodbye Reggie Dunlop

Goodbye Brick Pollit

Goodbye Ben Quick

Goodbye Fast Eddie

Goodbye Harry Gondorff

And goodbye Butch...

Mr. Newman, I regret I never had the opportunity to meet you. You were a man among men.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Two Years

It was two years ago today that we lost Arthur... I was going through Flickr and found the worst picture of my kids and dog that was ever taken.

Worst Photo Ever

As it happened, it was also Arthur's last photo. It didn't seem like such a bad photo after he died. So I dug up the blog that I wrote when it happened and I'm posting it again today... because it sucks to lose a pet.

September 22, 2006

After what happened to Arthur, I just don't have the heart to be an asshole today. This morning Blythe tied a rope around her little stuffed dog's neck and pulled it around the living room saying, "Come on doggie, come on." I've got a headache that won't go away and I feel like I'm going to be sick at any moment. So, instead of wallowing in other people's failings in art, I'm going to talk about a couple good books.

What You Know First
By Patricia MacLachlin
This is a story about a young girl whose family is forced to leave the family farm and how she comes to terms with leaving the only things that are familiar to her. It was written by Patty MacLachlin, author of Sarah, Plain and Tall and illustrated by my friend Barry.

What you know first stays with you, my Papa says.
But just in case I forget
I will take a twig of the cottonwood tree
I will take a little bag of prairie dirt
I cannot take the sky

Big Fish
Daniel Wallace
The book on which the movie was based. It's a cliche, but the book is so much better than the movie. A story about a man who begins to understand who his father was by reconciling the tall tales his father told against the reality of his life.

On one of our last car trips, near the end of my father's life as a man, we stopped by a river, and we took a walk to its banks, where we sat in the shade of an old oak tree.

After a couple of minutes my father took off his shoes and his socks and placed his feet in the clear-running water, and he looked at them there. Then he closed his eyes and smiled. I hadn't seen him smile like that in a while.

Suddenly he took a deep breath and said, "This reminds me."

And then he stopped, and thought some more. Things came slow for him then if they ever came at all, and I guessed he was thinking of some joke to tell, because he always had some joke to tell. Or he might tell me a story that would celebrate his adventurous and heroic life. And I wondered, What does this remind him of? Does it remind him of the duck in the hardware store? The horse in the bar? The boy who was knee-high to a grasshopper? Did it remind him of the dinosaur egg he found one day, then lost, or the country he once ruled for the better part of a week?

"This reminds me," he said, "of when I was a boy."

I looked down at this old man, my old man with his old white feet in this clear-running stream, these moments among the very last in his life, and I thought of him suddenly, and simply, as a boy, a child, a youth, with his whole life ahead of him, much as mine was ahead of me. I'd never done that before. And these images - the now and then of my father - converged, and at that moment he turned into a weird creature, wild, concurrently young and old, dying and newborn.
My father became a myth.

Thurber's Dogs
By James Thurber
This book contains one of my favorite dog stories, Snapshot of a Dog. I remember reading it in my literature book back in 4th grade and it was the genesis of my love of James Thurber.

I want to thank everyone who has expressed their sympathies. It's funny, the night before Arthur died, Fletch and I were sitting on the couch talking about our cat that we had to put to sleep last year.

"I miss Caitlin," he said.
"I do too. But everything dies eventually. Arthur will die someday too."
"I know. And you will too... someday."
"Yeah, but not for a long time. Ok?"
"I don't want to talk about it anymore," he said.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have slept on the floor with Arthur Thursday night. And we would have eaten great blocks of cheese, and mountains of pizza crusts and all the other things he liked. We would have waited up for the skunk and barked in the moonlight if he dared to show up again. And in the morning we would roll in the grass together as the sun came up on the last day of summer.

That's it... that's all I've got in me today. It's going to be a cold winter.

I had no way of knowing that less than a month later my father would die as well. It made my choice of that excerpt from Big Fish all the more apt.

From Arthur

Sunday, September 21, 2008

No Lazy Sunday

Some kids play soccer... or baseball. Fletch tried those. I'll be honest with you... I don't think he's ever going to be much of an athlete. There are worse fates.

But today, Fletcher rocked the house.

A couple of weeks ago, Britton asked Fletcher if he'd be interested in falconry. She'd seen an ad in the back of Valley Kids for quite a while and thought it sounded like something he'd like to do. Fletch agreed... excitedly. So this morning we made the trek up to Hadley to New England Falconry.

We came up on a typical New England field, barn and all...
From Falconry Class

Look close along the tree line... there was even a deer watching us. Chris Davis, the falconer, got the birds ready for us.
From Falconry Class

First we were introduced to the birds. They are Harris' Hawks and are native to the southwestern U.S.
From Falconry Class

There were two adult birds and one juvenile.
From Falconry Class

We were then shown the equipment... and how it is used.
From Falconry Class

From Falconry Class

Chris put on his vest with the bag of meat and selected the adult male to get him prepared for the session. He attached a radio transmitter in case the hawk decided to make a break for it.
From Falconry Class

He showed Fletcher how to release the bird.
From Falconry Class

And how to hold your arm and let him land on the glove.
From Falconry Class

Pretty soon, Fletcher was doing it with his assistance... just a little flinch.
From Falconry Class

And then all by himself.
From Falconry Class

By the end of the session, Fletcher looked like a pro.
From Falconry Class

From Falconry Class

From Falconry Class

Falconry Class from Joe Bullock on Vimeo.

I'll admit... I was a little jealous. I can't wait for his next class.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

During the Florida Tennessee Game Today...

...they highlighted a Vols player on the Academic Honor Roll with a 3.1 gpa.

His major? Exercise Management.

So a football player majors in working out and gets a B minus?! And this is something of which they're proud?

I'll bet he's tying his own shoes now too... pin a medal on his jersey

I Made Consumerist Today

Indoo Ships Your Textbooks To You When They Feel Like It

I've been having a hell of a time dealing with an online bookseller that I purchased textbooks from for this semester. They were taking forever to arrive. After several emails with no responses, I finally got pissed and contacted The Consumerist, one of my daily blog reads. This morning they posted my story and it received several comments from readers that had similar experiences to mine.

Online textbook sellers take note... You are competing with the great evil that is the campus bookstore. Students order books when they get their book list, often on the first day of class. Don't be douchebags and make them wait until the third or fourth week to get them, especially when they pay extra for faster shipping.

Read The Consumerist... it is one of the best blogs out there.

Suck it,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Richard Wright

photo BBC News

I remember the first time I listened to The Wall all the way through... I had picked the cassette up at Camelot Music to play in my Walkman (old skool yellow Sports model) while on a flight from Florida to Moscow in 1986. I remember thinking I was so cool to be listening to this old music while everyone else was listening to Mr. Mister and Lionel Richie. Hell, I was in 7th grade. Maybe it was the fact that I would soon be staying in the country that was our sworn enemy, but it was a seminal moment for me. It started opening my eyes to a world outside of the World's Most Famous Beach. As time went on I became a huge fan of Pink Floyd... perhaps the only one that never smoked pot. Over time I stopped listening to Floyd on a daily basis, but I have a playlist on my iPod for when I'm feeling nostalgic.

So the news yesterday of Pink Floyd keyboardist, Richard Wright's death hit a sensitive spot. Mr. Wright died on Monday of cancer. I remember watching a documentary on Syd Barrett last year and Shine on You Crazy Diamond came on. Fletch sat with me and listened and while it didn't exactly make him a fan, I could tell he was thinking about it. He's an introvert and I'm sure there will come a day when that song will mean as much to him as it does to me.

David Gilmore had this to say:
He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognised Pink Floyd sound. Like Rick, I don't find it easy to express my feelings in words, but I loved him and will miss him enormously. I have never played with anyone quite like him.

Shine on, Rick...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dear Poland Spring

First off, let me tell you how much I love Poland Springs water. I do! Even if I found out that you really bottled it out of a rusty bathroom faucet from a tenement in Newark, I'd still drink it.

But over the last couple of weeks, the one liter sparkling flavored waters purchased at our local Stop & Shop (store #0030) seem to have inconsistent carbonation. We usually purchase around 6 at a time and my wife told me that the ones I picked up last week ranged between completely flat to what she termed "normal". All of the bottles had intact safety rings, but it seemed a little disconcerting. She didn't tell me about it until I got several more this week. I opened one tonight and even I, the guy who didn't notice his wife had changed her hair color for a week, could tell that it didn't seem as carbonated as normal. I noted the lot number and expiration date, because I know that kind of data makes you giddy as a schoolgirl.

041708 8108WF 1902

Please let me know if this was just a bad lot or if Poland Springs is trying to reduce their carbon footprint or something.

Kindest regards,


Friday, September 05, 2008

A Place for Us

Forgive me, but this is going to be a long blog.

Today I got a comment on Facebook from a person who has known me longer than anyone except my family... and maybe better. He was in my kindergarten class and we went through thirteen years of private Christian school together... then about a year of college as well. I'd joined the I'm Moving to Canada if Palin is Vice President group, and he being a conservative Republican, asked me what was wrong with Palin. I almost felt like saying, "If you have to ask, you're not paying attention."

I'm not happy with any of the candidates right now. I honestly waver between righteous anger and bleak sadness over the state of this country. I fear that once in office, either of these two administrations might get us involved in some foreign policy fiasco, or continue eroding our civil rights. So after a long email rant to him about McCain and Palin and how I'm not exactly happy with the Obama/Biden ticket, (I think they may be able to garner a little more bipartisan agreement) I ended with this:

I want a garden in my backyard, because I want it, not because I need it to survive. I want to be warm in the winter. I want to fly on a plane and not be treated like a terrorist. I want to be able to disagree with my government and not be censored or silenced. I want my kids to be able to get an affordable, quality education. I want people to be able to get married if they want to and not be hassled, whether they're gay or straight. I want people to go to church if they want to, and as long as they aren't molesting children or breaking any laws, be left alone. I want the government to encourage less dependence on foreign oil. I want to be able to live by the motto, "Your rights end where mine begin."

I jumped in the grocery getter to attend to tonsorial duties tonight and this song by Dan Zanes came on. It's my favorite of his... He does "kids music", but in such a way that you don't want to pull out a hank of your own hair if you hear it over and over again. Some of the songs, this one especially, speak more to the adults. It's kind of a "This Land in Your Land" for the new millennium. It reminds me that my friend will always be my friend... and there's a place for both of us in this country.

On a misty morning walk
I met a friend we sat and talked
about a place for us
all our words rambled high and low
from the Catskills down to New Mexico
there's a place for us
from the Coney Island rides
out to the California tides
there's a place for us
under a storyteller's tree
or on a riverbank down in Tennessee
there's a place for us

where people gather in the summer heat
talk and laughter float on down the street
there's a string band playing and the dancing feet
make such a peaceful sound on the hot concrete

from the town halls up in Maine
to the windmills on the plains
there's a place for us
where the farmer feeds the town
and the high school band supplies the sound
there's a place for us

when our borders disappear
and the signs say you're welcome here
where empty New York city lots
become neighborhood garden plots
there's a place for us

from the Rockies to the shore
when there's a land of poetry and open doors
under a sky of endless love
can be the world we're dreaming of
a place for us

where people gather at an evening fair
crazy orchestras have filled the air
at every table there's an extra chair
and a hand to shake and a plate to share

on a misty morning walk
I met a friend so we sat and talked
about a place for us

From Kids

Dan and Fletch a couple of years ago at the Eric Carle Museum.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Connecticut River Brewers Festival


Milk? Never!


Drink beer... Wrassle goats

The Connecticut River Brewers Festival

at the Holyoke Canoe Club

Friday, September 5, 2008 1-10 PM
Saturday, September 6, 2008 12-10 PM
Sunday, September 7, 2008 12-6 PM

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day of Classes at UMass

And I'm in my underwear.

Except this time I won't be arrested. Four classes... all online.