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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Birthday

Once again, I am writing this on our new favorite toy, the Dell Studio laptop computer that we recently purchased. I'm sitting in our living room with the family. Blade Runner is on in the background. I've never had a laptop computer before (am I officially the last person on earth to own a laptop computer?), so I'm having to get used to using my finger as a mouse and, in fact, just realized that the two "space bar" thingies under the "mouse pad" are part of the mouse. (Boy, this is exciting, isn't it--hope you haven't fallen asleep reading this).

Today, we had my wife's family over for a "three birthdays in one" party. My youngest son's birthday is on February 26, my birthday is tomorrow, and my sister-in-law's birthday is on March 4. Luckily, my son's birthday deflects attention from the two adults' birthdays, which is fine with me. I think after you turn 30, birthdays cease to be exciting.

Even at age 41, though, I can get pretty excited about birthday presents, although only on the inside. Outwardly, I pretend that I don't really care that much. This year has to be about the best years I've had in a long time as far as good birthday presents. (Yes, in some respects I'm 41 going on 14). My sister-in-law came up big with the "Watching the Watchmen" book. (Thanks Kellee, Michael and Julia--awesome book and much appreciated). She recently joined Facebook and noticed that my profile picture is Dr. Manhattan. She asked my wife if I liked Watchmen and my wife said "yes, indeed, he does like Watchmen."

Back when my wife and I went out on our "date" to see Slumdog Millionaire, she asked me point blank if there was any music I wanted for my birthday. Well, asking me if I want music is like asking a a hungry lion if it wants a slab of meat. I already have hundreds of LPs and CDs, but can always think of something I want. Anyway, I named off some old albums I had that I got rid of during the "Great Cassette Purge of 2002." To make a long story short, my wife got me Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," 10,000 Maniacs' "In My Tribe," and the Smithereens' "Green Thoughts" (all cassettes I stupidly purged back in 2002).

Other cool gifts I received: a new spring jacket and cordless drill (along with drill bits) from my wife's parents. (They're always good at getting me practical things). My wife also got me a great book called the "Real Photo Postcard Guide." I plan on using this book while writing my Michigan State University postcard history book. The piece de resistance is this sweet laptop, that will be enjoyed by my wife and myself.

A few weeks ago, MSU Press gave me the official green light to get started on the postcard book (I believe I mentioned it in one of my first blog posts). My first deadline is June 1, and I really need to get cracking on this. It seems like the last few weeks have been packed with activity, and I haven't been able to spend any time on the project. With a full-time job and two small kids, I wonder when I'm going to be able to work on this, but I have to find time. Hopefully, this laptop will make things easier. That said, I will have to find time to spend conducting research at the Library of Michigan and MSU Library and Archives.

Wow, I've spent way more time writing than I expected. I hear my kids losing their minds so I'd better get back to my familial duties.

I'm still alive

This is a note to let everyone know that I am still alive, and apologize for not posting for over two weeks.

I am writing this on the new Dell laptop that my wife bought. This is the first time I've been able to use it. I am in the living room and carrying on a conversation with my four year old son, who is telling me about activity in his Fisher-Price dollhouse.

My son just turned four on February 26, and I will be turning 41 tomorrow. I don't have any special feelings about turning 41, except wondering how exactly I got this old. It does seem that the minute you turn 30, your life goes into fast-forward. I remember when I was young, my parents always told me that life goes by like a blur the older you get, and now I know what they meant.

I stressed out when I turned 39, realizing that it was my last year until 40. Once I actually turned 40, it really was no big deal. 41 just feels like a number.

Well, I am going to cut this short because my son (who cracked me up on his birthday when he said he wanted to still be 3 and not 4) is begging for attention.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Springtime" makes a surprise visit to Michigan

Temperatures today in mid-Michigan are hovering around 60 degrees, a lovely respite from the awful arctic weather we've been experiencing this winter. The sun is out and I swear it feels like baseball season should be starting. Alas, in the next few days we're scheduled to get back to our regularly scheduled Michigan winter. I'll try and enjoy it while it lasts. As I write this, my two kids are outside, assuredly splashing around in puddles and getting messy. I should probably cut this short and make sure they're not either drenched or covered in mud (or both).

Monday, February 2, 2009

"Slumdog Millionaire" and other stuff

I need to make this brief, since I really should go to bed--because I need to get up for work in, oh, five hours!

Had a date with my wife yesterday evening and it was wonderful. So great to get away from the kids for a few hours and actually have a chance to talk and hang out, just the two of us. After a nice dinner at Mitchell's Fish Market, we DID go and see "Slumdog Millionaire" and both enjoyed it. However, now that I'm the father of two boys (ages 7 and almost 4) I have developed a REALLY HARD time watching movies that depict violence towards or abuse of children--and there is a lot of it in this movie. I'm no expert on modern day India, but assume that the film is reasonably accurate in its depiction of the struggles of the country's underclass. In any case, a very good movie deserving of the acclaim it has received--and, to tell you the truth, I was so darned glad to be seeing a "grown-up movie" for a change that it probably could have been "Mall Cop" and I'd have been satisfied.

Bummed out about the Spartans' basketball loss today--I take this stuff way too seriously. Still, two straight losses at the Breslin Center (first time that's happened in 10+ years) is hard to take.

Thoroughly entertaining Super Bowl and GREAT half time show by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Thank you Super Bowl for catering your recent half time shows to the "35 and older" crowd, I appreciate it.

It was nice not really caring who won, it allowed me to just kick back and enjoy what was an exciting game. Having driven though Pennsylvania several times and spent some time there, I've grown to appreciate the passion those folks have for football and their Steelers, so it didn't bother me to see Pittsburgh win (even though this was their sixth win--it would have been fun to see the underdog Cardinals get their first).

Am I the only person who doesn't really give a rip about the Super Bowl commercials? Everyone makes a big deal about what innovative, funny, and/or entertaining commercials will beaired during the Super Bowl broadcast. To me, commercials during any sporting event are either a distraction or an opportunity to visit the bathroom. Plus, it seems that recently, these Super Bowl commercials try SOOO hard to be funny or witty that they end up simply becoming incoherent or actively annoying.

Another beef, and I know I'm beating a dead horse with this, but for crying out loud why can't anyone just sing the National Anthem without trying to turn it into a gospel or R&B song? I know I probably sound like "grouchy middle-aged white guy," but I long for the days when the song was sung boring and stiff, completely devoid of any note-bending and melisma on every bloody syllable. There, I'm done complaining.

Thanks for tuning in, now I must try and get some sleep so I am not a zombie tomorrow.