Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
But then, there's the part of me that is ready to divest all and move to New Zealand. So, what ya gonna do? Move on and love my kids and work harder at being happy.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Our neighborhood has lots of kids, so many of the houses are either decorated for Halloween or have their front porches lit up for the occasion. Even further, many of the neighbors find it an enjoyable experience (even those without children of trick-or-treat age to get out their portable chairs, get a glass or bottle of frosty adult beverages and a bowl of candy and wave at the passing throng.
Meredith and my father spent much of the evening out front of the house, while Laura, Alexander, Ford and I went out for treats. My mother had a class she had to get to. Ford really enjoyed the trick-or-treating process from upon his perch in the frame backpack on the back of Daddy. He paid special attention to his fellow caped-crusader as he bounded up each walk to the front door only to be rewarded with candy.
Alexander was very pleasant as he had his line down:
"Trick or treat!"
and after his reward, came a gracious "Thank you" with only a little prompting from Daddy. At one house in particular, the lady stated that Alexander had terrific manners and told him to have a great time. Alexander responded with:
"All right, I WILL. IT'S HALLOWEEN!"
We met all sorts of costumed characters along the way. The most memorable for me was three middle-school aged boys dressed up as middle-school aged cheerleaders. That was gutsy and impressive.
The best trick-or-treater of the evening was a little boy younger that Alex who was so impressed with Alex's Batman costume that he had to comment about it all the way up and back the walkway. Alexander made his evening by calling to him as he left...
"See you later, Buzz Lightyear!"
The weather cooperated in that it wasn't excessively hot or cold with just a little wind. The fire department showed up in the neighorohood with two firefighters handing out glowsticks to all the kids.
After the treats were finished. Alexander helped sort out the candy that wasn't good for his "Superman" teeth (those which were excessively sticky) and kept mostly the chocolate ones.
It was a truly a happy halloween.
Then following the 31st is Alexander's 4th birthday. He arrived from school wearing a red construction paper crown exclaiming the fact. We ended up going to Double Dave's pizza for dinner as Alexander's special treat.
His birthday party will be on Saturday. The theme: Transformers.
Alexander. More than meets the eye.
Monday, October 8, 2007
The technology has reached the point where we can help out the planet. It's just the politics that get in the way. If you've seen me the past six months you've seen a white wrist band around my left wrist. All it says is "ONE". It represents my support of the one movement to end world poverty. It isn't a call for money - just discussion and action wherever and with whomever you can to bring policies in line to help the indigent and poor in improving their lives. I attempt to work solutions with developers to provide jobs and affordable housing within communities and to increase the quality of life for the residents of those communities. There is a link to the right hand portion of the screen if you're interested.
Friday, September 28, 2007
I received an earful that there was on no certain terms a "David" at that address and that we shouldn't be mailing incorrect information. I told her that sometimes computers make errors and that I'd be happy to check the database and make sure it doesn't happen again. I'm sure there were some errors when I was mailing out over 250 letters.
She hung up on me.
When can I have a job where I make people happy? That's kinda why I wanted to get into this planning gig. I wanted to help make great places for people to enjoy themselves. But I have little influence on the developer's side - they don't want to spend the money; little influence on the implementation side - I write ordinances which get watered down and disused.
Unbelieveable. I literally can't believe someone was that upset about something like that.
What are we to learn?
Every night we are barraged with images of some "intrepid" news reporter with a HD camera sitting outside of some non-descript home with a few neighbors in the background discussing how the family was either well-liked or no one really knew them. There isn't any substance. No one talks about trends in the country, or how we can help people through parental education or how through funding better family intervention programming. This is where an unleashed invisible hand hits at the most vulnerable and our media happily (but with a stern look and a quick read of the teleprompter) reports it. Harm or death of children in 30 second sound bites only an inch deep and a mile wide.
News like this MUST have context of our greater society, otherwise what does reporting the body count of our locality actually mean. "Look: a child was run over by a car. It's a terrible accident. Their family and friends are sad. Next, we'll talk to you about the new fried foods at the State Fair."
My children have hopes and dreams and laugh and cry and nurse and love. These children did also. They deserve more. Our society deserves more.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
There is going to be a ton of angry people.
They all have my phone number.
The first part of August saw us take a real four-day vacation to the City of Austin. Our good friends the Reeves recently moved to Austin last year so that Keith could take a job as the head producer for the City of Austin's cable channel.
The Reeves let us stay in their house just south of 290 on the southwest corner of the city. Quick access to the Hill Country, quick access to downtown...its a nice location. They have a Central Market just up the street.
We drove into Austin on the west side of town skipping past the traffic along I-35 that would be taking place on a Friday afternoon, and stopped shortly in the town of Leander, where HEB Grocery stores recently built a large HEB Plus store. The company is planning on building a similar style store and retail center in Burleson, so it was an opportunity for me to take pictrues and walk around the project enough to be conversant in the planning of the future project for my job.
We had make your own pizza night with the Reeves and Keith's parents who were in town that evening.
Saturday saw Meredith, the boys, and I driving into downtown and visting the Bob Bullock State History Museum. We toured the various exhibits including a history of the space program from the perspective of Texas. Many artifacts of the raising of LaSalle's ship from the Gulf of Mexico (thanks to the Texas A&M Department of Nautical Archeology) and a great interactive exhibit on the Texas Centennial of 1936 held at Fair Park in Dallas.
Alexander's favorite part was the Texas Spirit Theater which had interactive thunderstorms, loud noises, and many moving images of stories of the history of Texas.
Afterwards, we went to the original Kerbey Lane restaurant for mid-afternoon pancakes. We went to Austin Comics and I bought a Superman T-shirt to match Alexander's. We drove around the west side of the city for a while and met up with the Reeves at thier house for a trip into downtown to the Whole Foods national headquarters at 5th and 6th Streets and Lamar. We had dinner and watched the sun go down on the second floor veranda while the kids played on the playground. We then went to the Congress Ave bridge over Town Lake (now Lady Bird Johnson Lake) to watch the bats come out. We thought it was a little too warm for the bats, as many were swooping out, but they didn't come out en masse.
Sunday we had breakfast (yet again at a Kerbey Lane) and went to Bookpeople, the largest independently owned bookstore in Texas. That afternoon Meredith and the guys and I went driving around the hill country on the west side, saw her former home in Austin, and drove out to Lake Travis. We ended up driving back through all of the new housing growth in towns like Bee Cave and had a nice dinner back at the house.
Monday was a spectacular day in the history of the Stephen and Meredith Cook family. We set out in the morning to drive to the true Hill Country by way of Marble Falls and Burnet and taking a detour at a state park: Longhorn Caverns.
I've been to Natural Bridge Caverns and Carlsbad Caverns (at least three times) ... Longhorn Cavern was the most real experience I've had in a cave. We arrived only minutes prior to the 1pm tour beginning (no wait time) and we enter into a 64° cave in 100°+ weather. Our tour guide was a local geologist and historian. The cave is an active river cave. Rather than live stalagtites and stalagmites, the cave is full of sweeping curves etched into the stone from the flow of water. Whole circular rooms with sprial ceilings exist where whirlpools eddy through the cavern when filled. The most recent flooding in Central Texas this past May closed the cave system for several days.
The cave has been the host of Comanche tribal meetings, a 1920s speakeasy, possibly a hideout, and the site of much blasting and excavation in the 1930s by the civilian work program. The trip in and out is about 1½ miles. Alexander, Ford and Meredith were troopers.
At one point they turned out all of the lights for the experience of complete darkness. Alexander, who was holding my hand at the time gripped harder, but as his contemporaries in the tour group began to cry, he held on and was ultimately fascinated by the experience.
At several points through the tour we got muddy as there were still slick areas of the cave. There were several points were Meredith and I had to duck low to get through to the next cave room, while Alexander happily pointed out that he was just the right size.
Emerging into the heat and sunlight after an hour and a half, we washed off the mud and loaded back up into the car. Alexander and Ford promptly fell asleep for most of the remainder of the trip home.
I had never before felt this unified as a family. We had a terrific family memory, in which we were active participants in our lives and not sitting by watching it pass on television.
It was a great trip.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Again, it's that concentrating thing.
There is a line from a favorite brit-com that applies:
"My short term memory has been erased. This I ascribe to the proximity of the magnetic coils from Starbug's rear engine. Secondly, due to the proximity of the magnetic coils, my short-term memory appears to have been erased. This, combined with the erasure of my short-term memory, has has left me a little disoriented, disoriented, disoriented." - Kryten, Red Dwarf
If I never hear about drilling gas wells in the Barnett Shale again I would be a happy camper. I don't care how much money you're pulling out of your 7,000 square foot hovel built in 1964...I don't want to deal with gas well drilling operator companies anymore.
I miss feeling relaxed.
I miss not having responsibility.
I hate having frustrating dreams about not getting work done.
I miss art and being creative.
I still haven't had that original thought - I'm looking for it everywhere.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I'm mad at my email client for not filtering these emails. I'm disappointed because most of the email I recieve at home lately has been from bookstores that I've purchased books from or forwarded messages of chain letters...I would love to be able to sit down with one of my friends, or a new friend and just write letters back and forth, describing my day, the frustrations of life and the humor of which I seem to have to hold up to it.
I'm going to have to see the doctor again. The blood pressure meds aren't seeming to help. I've been religiously taking the BP meds, the blood sugar, 1g of cinnamon and a multi-vitamin everyday. The last couple of nights where I've been really tired, I've laid down and could hear my pulse in my ears. I've always been able to do that at night especially - even as a child. But it is combined with fatigue -I know it's got to be elevated pressure.
The weight loss, like anything, has had its ups and downs. I've started having complements that people have noticed that the weight has reduced in my face. I'm still having a difficult time seeing it.
I was asked a difficult question at church today. I was asked where I was going for vacation this year. I had to really think about it. I haven't been on a vacation that hadn't involved seeing family in over ten years. Since my honeymoon actually. Now we've gone to some really nice places - Ruidoso, NM - Burnet, TX - San Francisco, CA - Galveston, TX - and all over South Carolina, but since we've been married, we've never just taken a week off to go somewhere just us.
The first 7 years of marriage have been mostly taken up with working for the City of Denton. Going on vacation was really difficult while I was working there. We were constantly berated with yet another set of public meetings in writing the Comprehensive Plan and the Development Code. All in all we held approximately 250 individual meetings getting those projects done. Any time away from Denton had to (rightly) be spent visiting family for the holidays. We saved a lot of money that way and when I finally left Denton, I had 300+ hours of vacation built up.
I haven't been back to Europe since 1994. I haven't gone to Boston to watch the Red Sox with my friend Bruce. I haven't driven up the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Minneapolis like I wanted. I haven't gone sailing in Auckland Bay on the North Island of New Zealand. I'm always committed to meetings and schedules months in advance.
I'm not about to say "poor me" who doesn't get a holiday. The reason mainly is that it would be crass and wrong to say that it is anything other than my own fault. But to stretch a metaphor a bit, my sail has been full with job, volunteerism, babies, moving, caring about politics, the environment, for so long now that the rudder has been tied off. The heading is set and the halyard has been locked in.
I need an anchor
or the keel is going to wear away...
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
It was special having so many people there. We are truly blessed with friends and family. Our love goes to Kathy and Gary Griffin, Ford's Godparents. They gave Ford a child's book of prayers and one of bible stories. It was a successful weekend.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Nothing else new however...I need to continue on the weight loss and excercise. I'm walking about a mile a day and would like to increase that amount. Yesterday, I cajoled Alexander into walking around the subdivision with me by telling him we're going out to fight bad jedi with out lightsabers. That worked up until the point halfway around when he started asking where the "real jedi" were.
Yesterday was also a banner day for Alex when he piped up in a restaurant with Meredith that he saw a man with only one leg. He then proceeded to laugh uproarously. Meredith had to calm him down and explain that sometimes people have bad accidents or have gotten hurt somehow to only have one leg.
If you were three and you first saw someone hopping around with one leg and a walker wouldn't you think they looked funny? Anyway, Meredith handled it fantastic. Alexander really does have a sympathetic ear for people when he understands what's going on.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Its been a little hectic with the two boys. Alexander has started showing a little of the small regressions including some bathroom problems, wanting to sleep in our bed a little more and being overly loud at times attempting to get our attention. Ford has decided that 8pm is his bedtime - thank you very much - and lets us know under no uncertain terms that he is mad if we don't hit that time. Also, car trips are not his favorite pasttime, particularly when the car is stopped.
We've had some lovely outings though. A couple of weeks ago we found out that Thomas the Tank Engine was in Grapevine pulling the passenger cars along the Cotton Belt Line. We only found out about it late in the day from the news. So we packed up and went out to see if we could find Thomas. Luckily we arrived just as they were disconnecting Thomas from the cars. We got to see them put Thomas on the turntable and park him. Later in the afternoon we went to Grapevine's Botanical Garden and playground.
Adding to the stress that Life 2.0 has created - I have been promoted at work. I'm now the Planning Official and I report to the Director of Planning and Engineering. Its a lovely raise and a ton more work, but since Meredith isn't teaching this semester...its a good upgrade.
One of my first things as the new Planning Official was to go to Texas A&M to a Sustainable Urbanism conference. We heard from James Howard Kunstler - a bit of a rabble rouser of a speaker - on the end of the oil boom in the country and the beginning of a period in gloabl history in which we need to focus more on the local habitation of our communities rather than how we will be able to focus globally.
This next week I will be setting up interviews for a new planner position and hopefully I can get someone on board that will help me with the development review items.
Life is good. Its just a little stressful.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Meredith took some photos of Alexander and Ford to record Ford's progress through his first month. He's filled out and gained at least a pound and a half and has cleared up his slightly yellow tinge from a small touch of jaundice. We're still having to deal with a bit of the snuffle nose during the night, but hopefully when everything isn't blooming quite so much, that will clear up as well.
The weather has been really dry this month. We haven't had the rainfall we're used to in March. It keeps threatening to rain the past week, but a large high pressure system in the Gulf has been keeping the instability to the west. My yard needs the rain, and I don't want to be greatly increasing my water bill quite yet.
Friday, March 9, 2007
Alexander and I had a "Alex and Daddy" afternoon. We went to the library and checked out some books on Dinosaurs, and a book on history. We then went to go have the Honda's oil changed. Then we made a quick detour to CompUSA where they're closing the Hurst store. It took all of Daddy's willpower to not buy the MacPowerBook Pro right then and there. It runs SO fast.
Afterwards we hit Toys-R-Us where Alex scored a Lightning McQueen Racecar and some Star Wars Galactic Heroes (Bespin Luke and Lando Calrissian). We then went to Best Buy where Daddy upgraded his headphones for his ipod.
We had a nice day. Tomorrow I'm going to be spending it with my friends over at Hot Chocolates and will be attending the Grapevine Chocolate Festival where I will be a representative of the company. Yeah! It should be a ton of fun.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Born on March 3, 2007 at 3:03pm
Weight 8lbs 2oz
About 9:00pm on Friday, Meredith started to feel a little bad. Alexander and I were watching a movie with Meredith's mother, Brooksie (Grandmama). Around 10:00 Meredith said that she really felt like she was having contractons on a regular basis so we called the midwife, the birth photographer (to give her a heads up), my Mom (Nonna) and Meredith's sister Anglea to say:
"We might be having a baby."
After Alexander was in bed, I took a small nap and Grandmama stayed up with Meredith watching late-night television to about 2:30am. We then called the midwife to come over. Meredith had only progressed about 3cm. So the midwife went back home to sleep while we worked at Meredith progressing.
We called Bonnie Kitchens our Midwife about 11am. She came over and Meredith had only progressed about half a cm. That was really discouraging. She had worked so hard for so little progression. Additionally, we hadn't had that much sleep so her fatigue level was increasing. We moved from the side of the bed on the balance ball to the bathtub several times - and increased our walking around. Meredith also did a little pregnancy yoga to help reposition the baby a little since he was riding high.
Meredith's family and my mom were really big help throughout the day. She finally progressed around noon and by 3pm she was pushing hard. Like the powerful woman that she is...she was able to do it with as little stress as can be expected.
The black and white photos above are from Meredith's professional birth photographer. They turned out fantastic.
Meredith and Ford are doing terrific and are nursing well.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Meredith is getting rather tired now and I think she's about had enough of her body rebelling against motion, activity and generally getting around. She has really started to get into the groove of keeping the house ready for the new baby. There are plenty of things that we've done already and plenty more to do.
We even are in agreement about the possibility of a name...which will most likely be withheld until the day of.
We're planning on having the baptism for the new baby at the Pentecost service rather than Easter service (both traditional days for the Episcopalian Church) mainly because we don't want to interrupt people's family Easter celebration for our baby's baptism.
The Oscars were this evening. I really didn't have a horse in the running so I didn't much care to watch. I mostly played video games this evening, then went and worked on my consulting job for a couple of hours. Meredith and I have watched Little Miss Sunshine which we enjoyed. But we haven't seen any of the others. The last movie I saw in the theater was King Kong in December 2005 and Meredith went with Alexander to watch a movie called Doogal...which she didn't like very much. Previous to that for her was Star Wars Revenge of the Sith - summer 2005. So its been a while.
Random thoughts for late in the evening. Too much root beer.
Monday, February 19, 2007
At lunch today, Clayton and I took a detour and stopped by the local Staples office supply store. Clayton wanted to purchase a new Palm Pilot handheld. As we are waiting in line to checkout Clayton taps me on the shoulder and tells me that a young woman has just entered the store with a python wrapped around her shoulders.
I turn to find her. But she has walked down into the aisles. After only a short wait however, she reappears towards the front of the store. She's of average height and weight - slightly auburn hair in a more "Big Texas Hair" kind of way...and a 7' green spotted python wrapped twice around her shoulders. Walking in a "you can't ignore the big snake" kind of way around the store.
I told Clayton that nothing screams "Look at me!" than a 7' snake.
It just goes to the mind the previous mental conversations before leaving the house:
"Should I - or should I not - wear the snake?"
"Would it clash with what I'm wearing?"
"Can I look less like an exotic dancer/stripper/insert your fancy here while wearing the snake?"
"Do I know anyone willing to wrestle the thing if I inadvertently scare it and it decides to go for full strength stranglehold?"
The mind boggles.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The first was one late last week. I was sent to work in an office towards the back of a building. Not my current building...just in the back. The overhead lights weren't working and there weren't any windows. The only light I had was from the computer monitor and small desk lamp. I couldn't work there very often because there was always someone on the computer trying to fix it.
So I would wander in the rest of the building. For some reason, the library was on the next floor at the top of an escalator. I went in and all of the books were law book bindings. After going to the library I was notified that I would have to move offices into a glass encased office just above the central atrium of the building. With absolute no privacy and everyone entering the building could see into the office.
All this happening while I was wearing a white t-shirt with a blue collar and blue cuffs on the sleeves and in red print on the front:
Could someone explain to me what that means?
The second dream was a bit more jarring. I was visiting my parents who have seemed to have moved into a subdivision at the top of a fairly steep hill. As I was leaving their house in a car, there is a street going down the hill at a 40% grade then turns at an oblique angle. A large barricade was in place to deter any launching off of the road into the water off of a cliff.
Obviously in R.E.M. sleep where was my car going to go? Off the cliff and into shouting at the ceiling at 3:30 in the morning.
No wonder I'm nervous all of the time. I don't have nightmares. I have frustrating dreams.
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Here are the lyrics:
Troubled times don’t get us down in Denton town.
Troubled times don’t get us down in Denton town.…
Life is best in the home of happiness.
Peaceful rest in the home of happiness.…
When it’s dark, we’ll find a light.
Polka hard, with all your might, Dentonites!
Polka hard, with all your might, Dentonites!
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, DANCE!
Troubled times don’t get us down in Denton town. …
Ya la la la la loo la la.
What's really funny about the lyrics is the reference to Denton being the "Home of Happiness" which is a direct reference to the movie: Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which at the very beginning of the movie, the lead characters, Brad and Janet sing a love song Dammit Janet in the churchyard with a huge billboard in the background stating -
Denton - The Home of Happiness
I just think that's funny.
Friday, January 26, 2007
I truly believe that I've been cursed with good long-term memory. Sure it helps out in Trivial Pursuit games, but with technicolor and THX surround-sound recall of past events intimidates and frustrates me more often than not. Coupled with the sense of ultimate responsibility for when things go wrong...I get to enjoy that sense of "what could I have done to forgo this feeling of failure" on a continual daily basis.
Even at night my subconscious loves dredging up times in which I said the wrong thing, did the wrong action, killed the wrong butterfly that spurred the wrong hurricane across the world. There can be a case stated (not a very good one I might add) for taking drugs to just shut the whole thing down for a time. A brief respite from reliving life. Thank God I'm not this poor woman: Link.
But I can't do that. And the staff report has to be done. The house needs to be cleaned. The responsibilities have to be accomplished. In this strip center, highway sign existence we've doomed ourselves to inhabit.
And I'll get to remember it all. Forever.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Monday, January 8, 2007
So I'm saying this. Ugly cities contribute to complacency in people. We settle for what is easy and cheap. It shows in our land layout (urban design); our traffic patterns, landscaping and most of all: our architecture. Who can feel inspired by a strip center? Who wants to go out and see the latest construction of the McDonalds or these days...the Chick-Fil-A? Our urban communities are drowning in land uses which are not going to be sustainable for the next 50, let alone 20 years. How many dead Wal-Marts are there? I can think of about 4 that have yet to be adequately redeveloped. Luckily in Denton the dead K-Mart was finally razed (after 4 years of vacancy) to be developed in what is hoped to be a sustainable mixed-use environment.
What does all this say about our competitive nature in the world economy? We're not willing to create. We're only willing to assemble. The parts of our buildings are pre-arraigned. The shiny metal boxes of our vehicles pumping life-blood of petroleum into the atmosphere. I'm guilty of it as well. I live in a suburban community. Large lot, big house...25 mile commute to work - no HOV for me - I drive alone. That's the choice I have. I would ride the train if I could. It would relax me more I think.
Cities in Asia are planning the future of economics, while Americans want their hamburgers and security devices to keep us safe from "the bad guys". Check out Tony Nelessen's presentation to the Texas APA in October concerning Asian Cities compared to American counterparts.
We need beauty in our cities and our lives. Otherwise we're going to be ground into dust like these buildings will be in the next 50 years.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
We played Cranium Pop 5 which was a fun, fast game of guessing. Meredith turned out to be a terrific player in acting, drawing and sculpting. Krista and Erika were fantastic guessers.
The one play of the night was Christopher guessing a Celebrity: "Dolly Parton" before any clue was given whatsoever.
We didn't get home until almost 3am. It was that much fun. We're hoping to have them all over to our house later in the month.
That's what friends are really for.