Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Westmoore Color Guard at Putnam City Marching Classic

Saturday, Rachel and her Westmoore Color Guard and the Westmoore Marching Band competed at the Putnam City Marching Classic. A sunny, hot day, we'd intended to watch the preliminary performance at around 3:00 and maybe catch a few other schools but we got there an hour or so early and found the boosters could use a spare hand or two to get the things done that needed to be done so we pitched in.

(Emily declined our invitation and stayed at home. Guess she's had enough of sitting the stands for a while.)

In this heat - it was near 90 - making sure the band and Color Guard had plenty of water was the highest priority. We set out to find the Color Guard and found them rehearsing just east of the baseball field in their bright turquoise jumpsuit thingies. (Rachel's about eighth from the left.)

Well-hydrated, we left them to claim our seats in the stands. They took the field at around 3:00, and we were facing the south so we had full sun in our faces and little breeze. Still, it couldn't have been as bad as on the field:

(A side note: I'd had roughly this same view nearly 30 years ago as a student when I attended the Putnam City West footballs games. I never imagined I'd come back to see my daughter on the very same field.)

Yeah, I know, they're minuscule, zoom in ya' doofus - I'm shooting video with one hand and still pictures with the other and I can't steady myself enough to zoom in. I cropped the picture enough to focus the attention on what's on the field - who needs sky and the backs of spectators heads?

Doesn't do 'em justice without the music and movement but they were impressive. Impressive enough that for the preliminaries, they won best visuals and best-something-else-that-was-impressive. Though three other schools place first, second, and third. Ominous.

We helped out afterwards, passing around more water, and then doling out food - a catered affair by The Olive Garden.

They re-grouped, got some pep talks, and made plans for the evening competition. We couldn't stay but Clara got a call later from a very excited Rachel: They'd won first place!

Good deal. I'm amazed at these kids and all the hard work they put in. A well-deserved victory.

UPDATE: You can read the just-the-facts-ma'am version at here and you can read Ray Sears' more detailed version here, with pictures provided by Ray.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Keeping it Simple

Related to my post about keeping your investment strategy simple, here's a book review of The Gone Fishin' Portfolio by Alexander Green:
Mr. Green's formula is really an extension of the "non-correlation" approach that David Swenson uses to manage the Yale Endowment Fund and that other followers of modern portfolio theory have developed to achieve substantial returns with less volatility -- putting money into markets that may move in different (non-correlated) directions. The essential trick is to invest beyond U.S. borders and to invest in alternatives to common stocks, like commodities that zig when the stock market zags (gold is an example).

Mr. Green is a big fan of no-load mutual funds like Vanguard's, with their low-cost, tax-minimizing structure. He recommends buying 10 of them. The majority of such funds are heavily invested in the stock markets of the U.S., Europe, Asia and emerging-market countries; but the funds also take smaller positions in bonds (Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, high-quality and high-yield corporates) and hard assets (gold and real-estate investment trusts). Investing in such a variety of unrelated assets, Mr. Green argues, provides built-in stabilizers to protect your portfolio on the downside when Wall Street stumbles.

Good advice. Keep your investment strategy simple and it'll pay off. Best of all, you'll sleep at night.

John Wayne, The Man Inside The Myth

This looks interesting. A film series and exhibit at USC examining John Wayne as "Actor, Star, Icon, Trojan":
The retrospective, which kicks off tonight and continues through Sunday at USC's Norris Cinema Theatre/Frank Sinatra Hall, celebrates the famed USC alum through a series of classic films and discussions. The event also heralds the opening Sunday of a three-month exhibit of Wayne's life and career in the David L. Wolper Center, in the lower level of USC's Doheny Memorial Library, which features artifacts and memorabilia culled from Batjac Productions -- Wayne's production company -- the USC Film Archives and private collectors.

I didn't know he was a USC Trojan.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lileks and Google Maps

Lileks uses Google Maps like I wanted to do here and here. He seems to be able to edit the picture while still maintaining the utility of the Google Maps tools.

I don't know how he did it but you can get a sense of what I was trying to do. Something to keep in mine should I continue with Google Maps related posts.

McCain Suspends Campaign to Help With Bailout

I'm not sure this is a smart move for McCain:
John McCain will suspend his presidential campaign Thursday and has asked to postpone his debate Friday with Barack Obama so the two senators can return to Washington to help negotiate a Wall Street bailout, an approach that Obama promptly rejected.

I think it'll be seen more as a gimmick for McCain than a leadership move. But now that he's on this track, he should go to Washington, do what he has to do, then fly back to Mississippi and do the debate. If McCain does poorly, he can blame his work on the financial crisis and Obama's lack of participation. If McCain does well, then he further proves he's the superior candidate.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I noticed in my tags that Rachel is falling behind in posts that reference her. Well, this may be a cheap attempt to close the tag gap but there's a good reason why she hasn't figured more prominently in what I've posted so far: At 16, and involved with Color Guard and a life outside of much of what we do, it's sad but inevitable. We're lucky to get a glimpse of her for a few minutes each day.

Although tonight's a little different. She's in the family room right now talking with Clara about teenage stuff. Better grab the time while we can.

Keep It Simple

Karl Okamoto offers not only investing tips in these troublesome times but tips for the solution to the ongoing financial mess: 

So let me offer one more anti-intellectual suggestion. As we ponder the regulatory solutions to the current mess, my suggestion is we keep it simple. The reason why financial institutions blow up is the same reason houses go into foreclosure. People take risks they cannot fully insure. Normally people are pretty good about avoiding such extreme positions because they understand the downside and wisely avoid it. So if I am going to lose my 20% down payment on this condo if I can’t support next year’s mortgage payments, I’ll buy a cheaper one where I am certain I can “keep my seat” in a down-turn. By appealing to human’s natural optimism and avarice while at the same time masking or often eliminating the downside cost, the home lending market created a “heads I win, tails who cares” environment for home buyers that eliminated the “old fashioned” calculus that defined prudent home buying and finance.


This Is Not Your Grandmother's Bible Study

From Mike Potemra at The Corner on National Review Online:

These are the words Raymond Arroyo uses to describe a surprisingly
captivating new book he has edited called Mother Angelica's Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures. I say "surprisingly," because a book with that title would not seem to be designed for people like me: 1) I'm a Protestant and 2) though I watch and enjoy much of the programming on the Catholic TV network (EWTN) Mother Angelica founded, I always found the public persona of the lady herself distinctly off-putting. And so along comes this book, and it's full of meditations on Scripture that are genuinely humble and moving.

Arroyo writes, accurately, that what Mother Angelica has developed in these pages is "a theology of the street—an approach to Scripture that was immediately relatable to daily living."Almost all of the book remains in the territory of what C.S. Lewis called "mere Christianity"; in only a handful of instances does the author dwell on R.C. distinctives.

On one of these, actually, I must register a polite protest: In discussing John 6, a crucial text on the Eucharist, she writes: "Even the Fundamentalists, who take the Scripture at face value, say, 'This is ridiculous.' They take this whole chapter and throw it out the window. They never mention it."

Ahem: If you go to the fundamentalist website, and click on John 6, you will be able to listen to on-demand audio of—at last count—nine hundred and nineteen different sermons on this one chapter. And that's just one fundamentalist website. What she meant to say is, fundamentalists mention it all the time, but disagree with her Church's interpretation of it.

Much more in line with the book's overall spirit is the following passage, discussing Luke 17:7-10: "When you're talking about accomplishing a duty for God, He is not obliged to say thank you or reward you. We can't go to heaven with any concept of an award or reward for all the exterior things we did. Those were inspirations we merely followed . . . The only thing I will have when I die is the amount of love I have for God at that moment."

Now, even today I run across Protestant apologists who claim that Catholics believe in "justification by works," as opposed to "justification by faith"; the next time I meet one of these apologists I must remember to quote that passage, and then tell him it was written by a conservative, doctrinally orthodox Catholic nun. And an even more typical passage is the one about King David: "The thing to remember about David is he was really a sinner and yet Our Lord loved him so much that he's known as the Son of David. David did some pretty bad things: He shed a lot of blood . . . he had that thing going with Bathsheba and then he murdered her husband. David should be an encouragement to any of you who might get discouraged over your little peccadilloes. Once the Lord loves you, I tell you. it's unbelievable. His love is forever.""He had that thing going with Bathsheba" captures the book's style; "His love is forever" captures its spirit.

Sorry to steal the entire post but, well, this is the blogosphere and, besides, it was hard to decide which of it to leave out.

I paid a visit to and Potemra's right: you can download a kajillion sermons on just about any part of the Bible you'd like. Might be worth checking out.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Blogging Stats

According to SiteMeter, as of this writing, this site has received 75 hits. The most popular post? This one. Most of my visitors to that post seem to be coming from Europe or at least outside of the United States so that might explain why the search terms of "Emily Winehouse" brings those fine people here: they're typing in the wrong search terms.

Look, I'm glad to get the visitors, but it's "Amy Winehouse" not "Emily Winehouse." Try your search again and I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for.

(Oh, great. Now I'll get even more hits on "Emily Winehouse" since I've used the term three times for this post. Sorry to disappoint my visitors yet again.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Fair

We went to the Oklahoma State Fair this year with Emily and our neighbor's daughter, Carli. (Rachel had a football game to attend.) We knocked off work an hour early so we could get out there and still have some time to see and do most of the things we wanted to do. Emily and Carli were very excited, full of big plans to ride the big rides. Clara and me, heck, we were just looking for a good corn dog. Heard the Fair's the place to get 'em.

Off we went:

The Midway's just full of choices. And people. Every kind of people. More amusement to be had by just people watching than the rides themselves.

The Himalaya can still provide the thrills:

The turkey legs are just as big. If you don't lose it, you can work up an appetite riding the rides.

You'll get thirsty, too:

Still, there's time to contemplate your place in the universe. And plan your next move:

While we were taking a small break, there was some commotion not far away. Shouts. People hurrying along. Gathering into a crowd. Hard to tell what was going on so I raised my cell phone above the crowd to get a picture:

Dang. Let's try again:

Two horses down. Clydesdales. It looked like they were pulling a wagon and got somehow tangled up with one another and one pulled the other down. By now, the drivers had disengaged them from the wagon and pulled that back and had removed the harnesses and collars and were working on getting the horses back up on their feet. Which they eventually did, to the applause of the crowd. The horses didn't seem any worse for the wear so we moved on.

We forced the kids into some of the exhibits: the new cars, the animals. They could only take so much so we cut them loose on their own. We kept in touch by cell phone and later caught up to them.

But they had more plans. Big plans. Some us were skeptical:

But the lights of the Midway beckoned.

So, at last, the evening was capped off with some keen competition: Emily vs. the balloons. With darts.

She won a small prize and we were done for the night and for this year's edition of the Fair.

Always a great time.

Oh, did we find a good corn dog? We did! Though not as good as we remembered. Still, it was a Fair corn dog and you just can't get that anywhere else. And not with such good company.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Or, rather, balloon! See it?

No? Come on, it's right there!

Just a sec. I'm driving to work this morning on the Broadway Extension and up ahead is a hot air balloon. Out comes the camera phone and I attempt to zoom in and take a picture with one hand while driving. Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm not supposed to do that, but when a picture opportunity comes along, you gotta life dangerously, and I'm nothin' if not dangerous, baby.

Let me pull back a bit and see if you can't see it.

Ah, better. Er, but barely. It's that little dot right hanging right on one of the power lines in the center of the picture.

Always a treat to come across a sight like a hot air balloon. Why aren't there more of them? Well, okay, here in Oklahoma, the wind is usually blowing so hard that's it's dangerous to fly in one. So when a calm, still morning comes along, you can see the temptation to take flight and let the air currents take you where they will.

I have in my mind a picture I've seen somewhere of some Utopian future where balloons fill the skies. I've googled for such a picture and I've come up empty so maybe it's just something I thought I saw. Still, it seems plausible that somebody somewhere imagined a world in which balloon flight was an every day occurrence and not a rare thing.

Lightened the day's mood. I hope I see more of them.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reading List

On Saturday, I had to return a book to the Moore Public Library and while I was there I thought I'd see which of the books on my reading list they had available. (I keep sort of a mental list and I'd written one out based on the recommendations of Nick Hornby in his book of essays, Housekeeping vs The Dirt.) Turns out, they had all of them. Or nearly all of them, with the one book not available turning out to be no real loss.

That's the difference between the Moore Public Library and the Oklahoma City Public Library. While Moore's collection is good enough, Oklahoma City's is more extensive, but it seems no matter which branch I go to in Oklahoma City, the book I want is always at another branch, and so I have to reserve it and wait for notification that it's arrived and then go get it. With Moore, either they have it or they don't and that's that. Refreshing, in a way.

I brought home a pile of books with the intent of reading every single one of them but the problem with checking out books from the library - aside from the fact it's a little queasy-inducing to flip through pages countless others have fingered - is that if a book doesn't capture me in its first few pages, I cruelly toss it aside. I've already done that with Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping - I gave her the first chapter, 28 pages, to make her sale, and though it's beautifully written, it's pace is glacier-like.

Next up: Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. Her anti-Republican and Bush-Derangement Syndrome grates on my nerves and I'm ready to give it the heave-ho but I see she was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma so I'm willing to give her a chance. But don't push me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Google Mappery

I'd mentioned some of the fun I'd been having with Google Maps and street view and so I spent about an hour touring the places I've lived from childhood through now. No screen grabs - that feature seems a bit spotty for right now and, besides, if I'd posted everywhere I'd went that'd make for an unwieldy entry. But it was a interesting journey and I may do more of it and make a post for each place I go.

Amazing how I can span over 40 years in as little as an hour. I haven't figured out how to tell when the street view pictures were taken but you come away with the illusion that maybe all of those places were photographed on the same day. Bright and sunny in Florida, of course, but cloudy and overcast closer to home. (I can tell some of the Oklahoma street views were done shortly after last December's ice storm from the tree damage and the debris dragged to the curbs.)

I'm glad to make a virtual visit to these places. It's good to know they're still out there and not just a figment of memory.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Double Team

Amazing Emily walks both her dogs at once.

Beautiful fall weather at last, perfect for walking a dog.

Or two.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Burn After Reading - Movie Review

We spent a rainy Saturday afternoon seeing the Coen brothers' latest, Burn After Reading. I'm a fan of most of their work but after No Country For Old Men, I'm a little leery of rushing right out and seeing anything by them. (And can it be that their last film I admired, O Brother Where Art Thou, was released 8 years ago? Goodness.) But there's nothing else on so we thought we'd give it a try and, surprise, surprise, it wasn't half bad. Not the best, slickest thing they've ever done but there were some out-loud laughs and the scenery around Washington DC was great to look at. Convoluted enough plot to keep the surprises coming but it all eventually goes nowhere, really. A light finger exercise at best.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Last of Hurricane Ike

Not as clearly delineated as Gustav, the outer threads of Hurricane Ike arrived almost gently. It joined a cold front already working its way through the state and dropped a steady pouring of warm rain, punctuated by an occasional burst of wind.

Then again, it's time for the State Fair, so the rain arrived just in time.

Emily's Dog Pictures

While I was uploading the color guard pictures in the post below, I came across a series of dog pictures that Emily had taken of Pepper and Lucky. She did quite a good job. Let's just post'em and step back and let Emily and her dog pictures speak for themselves, okay?

Westmoore vs Southmoore

Friday night so that means another football game and another chance to see what Rachel and her color guard cohorts can do.

Emily went with us, and patiently awaited the beginning of the game:

Sure it looks cloudy and there was the threat of rain but that threat never materialized.

Clara did her band booster volunteer gig, passing out water:

Band work is thirsty work.

But we're here to catch a glimpse of Rachel, aren't we? Look, here she comes, passing right in front of us!

Drat. Nothing but a blur. I'll be ready next time, though. Just gotta bide my time.

Southmoore put a pretty good team on the field. By half time they had a sizable lead, though it wasn't insurmountable.

Half time mean show time, though. The band took there field and there was the color guard. Rachel's the one with the blue flag.

Yeah, I know.

(The young people lined up in uniform in the foreground are the Southmoore band. They entertained us pre-game and they did a pretty good job.)

The band did well, and so did Rachel, from what we could tell and -

Oh, look, here comes Rachel again! Quick, get a picture!

D'oh! The girl's just too fast. (Or I'm too slow.)

We lost, 28-20.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Finished with the last of the vacation posts. (Scroll down to see for yourself.) Both a relief and a great sadness. Relief to have finished what I set out to do and sadness because that wonderful time is two months in the past.


That means there's only 9 months to go for the next one!

And much to post about, meanwhile. So now we're back in current time. Time to move ahead.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fun With Google Maps

I've been using Google Earth to help with re-tracing our route in some of the vacation posts below and I've discovered a new vice: virtual travel using street view. I haven't been able to master the trick of embedding a street view scene in a blog post yet but Google Maps has an embed feature that was working a while ago. This is supposed to be a view of our house but for right now, the post preview isn't showing the picture. (It was when I first tried it.)

Let's post it and see what happens.

View Larger Map

Nothing. If you click on the blank image or the View Larger Map, you'll go to the page, but I want the image here, in the post.

Let me try embedding it again:

View Larger Map
Well, dang. I'll try some re-jiggering and see if I can't make it work.

Update: It's working!


You can't let the date pass without some kind of remembrance of seven years ago. It marked the beginning of profound change, not only for this country, for our family. It was the start of this life we're living now: I would soon step down from my position at the IRS, my grandmother would fall and break her hip and begin her two year decline to her eventual death. Unrelated to the events of the day, in some ways, but marked by that time, nonetheless.

What sticks in my mind most of those days are the images that would eventually come of those people trapped in the towers who chose to meet their fate and jump. What they would think of those who believe our fight on terror is somehow not worth it? About oil. About getting elected. The victims of 9/11 weren't asked to make the sacrifice they did but they somehow managed. Can we do less?

Lileks, of course, is far better at this sort of thing, and though his piece is now five years old, it's no less powerful and says all that really needs to be said:
Two years later I take a certain grim comfort in some people’s disinterest in the war; if you’d told me two years ago that people would be piling on the President and bitching about slow progress in Iraq, I would have known in a second that the nation hadn’t suffered another attack. When the precise location of Madonna’s tongue is big news, you can bet the hospitals aren’t full of smallpox victims. Of course some people are impatient with those who still recall the shock of 9/11; the same people were crowding the message boards of internet sites on the afternoon of the attacks, eager to blame everyone but the hijackers. They hate this nation. In their hearts, they hate humanity. They would rather cheer the perfect devils than come to the aid of a compromised angel. They can talk for hours about how wrong it was to kill babies, busboys, businessmen, receptionists, janitors, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers - and then they lean towards you, eyes wide, and they say the fatal word:


And then you realize that the eulogy is just a preface. All that concern for the dead is nothing more than the knuckle-cracking of an organist who’s going to play an E minor chord until we all agree we had it coming.
Let's not end on that note. While Lileks goes on, I found this the best, most hopeful of his piece:
The world will not end. It will roll around in its orbit until Sol expires of famine or indigestion. In the end we’re all ash anyway - but even as ash, we matter.

Yep, More Posting Progress

Posted the Grandpop Pete and Nana visit but don't take my word for it: scroll down and see for yourself.

That means I'm on the downside of the trip. Only a few more days left and that project will be complete. Then I'll start posting in contemporary time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Even More Posting Progress

Three more vacation posts - scroll down to read 'em. We're up to our visit with Grandpop Pete and Nana.

My, how the time flew.

And continues to fly. Can't hardly believe we're already weeks into the new school year.

Time to enjoy the days while we can.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More Posting Progress

The summer vacation posts are coming along fine - got a big chunk done last night and this morning. It's good to re-visit that time and those places and it's hard to believe that it's already three months in the past. That seems to be the way things go - things move so fast it's hard to grab hold. Well, all the more reason for this blog, then. Let's see what I can grab and put under glass as we roll along.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dog Walking 2

We've been having some wonderful pre-Fall weather so what better way to spend it than taking the dogs for a walk in the park? So we - we being Emily, Clara and me since Rachel had a babysitting gig - did just that.

I'd looked back and could only see Emily and Clara in silhouette so I purposefully shot into the sun. Didn't quite capture what I saw but you get the idea. If I'd had time - and something besides my Blackberry - maybe I'd do better. But the charm of the shot is capturing it on the fly. Besides, I've gotta be quick. When Emily sees me trying to take her picture, she dodges out of the way. Like here:

For the post-walk cool-down, it went pretty much like here.

Sonic afterwards. Shakes and cheddar cheese bits while the dogs hoped for a crumb to fall but, alas, no. A good outing for everyone.

Posting Progress

I posted quite a few entries of pictures I've saved either to Picasa or Flickr. I used the dates, or approximate dates, they were actually taken since some of them were as far back as May.

Next up: vacation pics. This make take some time since I want to chronicle each day so I'm working from more than a month out since the time it occurred. Don't hold me to exact dates and events but I think I can give a pretty good all around idea off what our vacation was like. (Which was fan-flippin'-tastic, thanks for askin'!)

Moore War 2008

Not only was Friday night the night of this year's edition the high school football rivalry game of Moore War, it was also the public debut of the Rachel's Color Guard performance. So how about a blurry picture of the squad where it's hard to pick out Rachel from the crowd of others?

I think I can accomdate ya:

Let's zoom in a little and see if I can't do better. There. That's her in the middle, dark shirt, back to the camera. (I have no idea who that guy is with the camera but clearly he remembered to bring a good camera and not rely on his Blackberry. Like some people.)

She, and they, wowed the crowd.

The football team won, too. So this year belongs to Westmoore.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What's It All About?

This blog? Keeping track of stuff, mostly. The various goings on of the family. 'net prowling. Things that delight or vex the soul. I'll post 'em here and see where it leads. Could be fun, might even be interesting but no guarantees. Come around often and let me know what you think, okay?

First up, posting the pictures in real time that I've uploaded to Picasa from the computer and from my Blackberry - that is, the dates of the pictures will be the dates of the posts - so things might get a little strange around here for a while. Meaning this post will closer to the top while the others, though posted later, will be at the bottom, as if they were posted earlier.

Make sense? Don't worry. Just go along for the ride and let's see what happens together.

Lots to do. Shall we start?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Last Of Hurricane Gustav

The last shreds of Hurricane Gustav managed to push its way into Southeast Oklahoma and the outermost of the bands even made it as far as Oklahoma City:

This is a view to the southeast so it's unusual to see weather approaching from that direction. Later in the day, the clouds would break up and the bands become less defined and we'd manage to get a little rain out of it, too.