Friday, September 29, 2006


The internet is a curious thing. It seems there’s no shortage of information out there, and no shortage of search engines to direct you somewhere else.

I know because, for some internet wanderers, this little site has been that somewhere else.

About 2 weeks ago, I noticed a fairly notable uptick in traffic to the site. I surmised the world was simply hungry for some stranger’s ramblings on Hungarian politics or his pants or whatever. Perhaps the internet is dreadfully short of baby pictures. These all seemed like perfectly plausible explanations to me.

Then I called up the good ol’ Google Analytics, and learned I was all wrong.

Some of my increased traffic was due to hits from the UK (Cheers!), Australia (g’day!), and Malaysia (Whatever You Guys Say!).

But the biggest hunk of traffic came from people seeking knowledge on Shahara Simmons. I found this a bit puzzling because I have no idea who Shahara Simmons is. With that in mind, it seems highly unlikely this site contains any useful information about Ms. Simmons.

After a little searching I have discovered that Shahara Simmons is mentioned in the comments section of a post I wrote last February. She’s the fiancée of Elton Brand. (May well be the wife now, for all I know.)

I was writing about owning a LA Clippers hat, mentioned Elton Brand, someone posted a comment that contains Shahara Simmons name and all of the sudden, bam, I’m the third most authoritative web source on the woman… at least according to Google. Hundreds of people have been directed to this site because of that, and all they’ve learned is that I own a hat with a Clippers logo.

Alas, it’s not only fans of NBA star’s fiancées who are likely disappointed by this site. Budding neuroscientists are probably let down, too.

Two months ago, several people found this site by entering “is your brain made mostly of water” into ask.com’s search box. Now that’s a very interesting biology question, and one I’d sure like the answer to. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t to be found here.

They got this site because I wrote about taking some omega 3 tablets and feeling stupid, and the phrase “apparently your brain is made mostly of water and these acids,” appeared in the post. And that was good enough for ask.com. What’s worse, while Google at least linked NBA fans directly to the Clippers article, ask.com just sends you to the main page. So honest souls searching for some good brain science instead found a link to a Keith Olbermann rant against the Bush administration. Sorry, guys.

Perhaps the biggest apologies go to the poor fellow who was directed here using the search term, “flight attendant prostitute.” This happened several months ago, and I can’t replicate the feat on any major search engine now, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. But the idea that the internet is (or at least was a few months ago) so devoid of information on flight attendants or prostitutes that this site would come up in searches boggles the mind.

In honor of these wayward searchers, I’m asking for your help. If you know anything about Shahara Simmons, or how much water is in the brain, or whether flight attendants are sometimes prostitutes, please deposit your knowledge in the comments section. I hate for people to leave here disappointed.


Sunday, September 24, 2006


Some people at work are on vacation so they’ve tweaked the schedule a bit and I have to work some pretty long days this weekend. It’s usually not that big of a deal, but with twins, it requires some creative scheduling.

So last night, I stay up until about 2 feeding babies and whatnot, then sleep until about 10 before heading off to work until about midnight. But when I wake up this morning, I’m bit forlorn. Partly because I’ve got this bit of a very sad Irving Berlin song stuck in my head. But also, I’ve done the math and realize that I won’t see much of my sons until Monday night or even Tuesday morning. Basically, they’ll be asleep when I get home at night, and might not be up when I leave again.

To be honest, this prospect usually wouldn’t upset me too much. My time at work is pretty much a vacation compared to taking care of the twins. And who doesn’t like an extended vacation?

But this morning, I don’t want an extended vacation. They’ve been very cute lately. Just look at them.

I take a quick shower and come out to the front room to spend what little time I have with them before I have to leave for work.

They’re asleep. That’s it. My last chance to see them for a while, and they’re asleep.

My heart sinks, and that Irving Berlin lyric keeps on running through my head…

“What’ll I do when you are far away
and I am blue, what’ll I do.”

I know the song isn’t really about not seeing your babies, but it still seems like a pitch perfect expression of the sorrow brought on by seperation from a loved one.

I glumly walk out to my car and call up that Irving Berlin song on my iPod. (God bless iTunes) I repeat it a couple of times, and by the time I pull out onto the freeway, I’m a mess. I’m crying, but not in that dignified tear-slowly-rolls-down-the-cheek-while-man-sucks-it-up-and-shows-his-steely-reserve way. I’m bawling like a widow at a Mafia funeral. It’s not pretty, and I can’t stop. The rational side of me knows I’m being ridiculous. But I can’t stop.

I’m well known as a spazz, but I’m actually not all that emotional. I like to say my family practices a very exuberant form of stoicism. We get all worked up about things and wave our arms wildly when we tell breathless stories about being late for an appointment or bumping into an old friend at the mall. But we don’t get... emotional. We don’t cry in movies. We don’t cry in public. We don’t cry.

But here I am, blubbering behind the wheel of a ’96 Toyota Camry. I get to work, but I have to keep driving around the block until I can pull myself together. I walk into the newsroom looking sorta red and puffy. With any luck, my co-workers will think I’m an alcoholic or something other than a crying little wussy.

I sit at my desk and try to pull together an evening’s worth of news. Occasionally, I’ll call up some of the pictures of Nate and Will I had thoughtfully posted online earlier this week. (Thanks, me!)

I anchor the 6:00 newscast, and make a mad dash for home. I’ve still got an 11:00 newscast to produce, but perhaps I can sneak in a little time with Nate or Will before they go to bed.

I walk in the front door and am handed a watery-eyed Nate. “He’s been having some problems,” says Julie.

I sit Nate on my lap and he looks up at me with his big blue eyes and lets out a little smile and one of those little “ah” sounds. It melts me. Now before you get the idea that I’m some sort of Baby Whisperer, you should know that Nate starts crying about two minutes later and I have my hands full trying to calm him down. But tonight, it doesn’t feel like a hassle. It almost feels like a privilege.

After about 30 minutes, I race back to work. As I’m driving, I’m emotional again, and I can’t understand why. Perhaps it’s just the effects of prolonged and severe sleep deprivation. Perhaps it’s a hormonal imbalance. Perhaps it’s just that Irving Berlin can write one hell of a sad song.

But maybe it’s something else. Maybe I’m actually a parent. Maybe, while they were busy filling our home with all manner of foul odors, while they were puking on me in the middle of the night, while they were screaming in my ears until they rang… maybe somehow these two little guys snuck into my soul and lodged themselves into a deep crevice.

Maybe, while I was busy being annoyed with them and thinking up pithy little observations about them… maybe I fell in love with them in a way so deep and so profound that I just can’t understand it.

Maybe. I don’t know. But as I sit in my living room tonight, waiting for one (or both) of our little boys to wake up and demand food from their beleaguered parents, I know that something inside of me has changed. And I know that when I walk out that front door again in the morning, I’ll leave a large portion of myself back here. And I won’t be complete until I can return.

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Monday, September 18, 2006


Time to throw some red meat to the base. Time for more baby pictures...
Here we see Nate making new friends. I've returned to work full time, and Julie's sister has been out of town. So Julie has been left alone with the kids during the day. But many folks have been coming by during the day. And both Nate and Will seem to like their new friends. They also seems to be making friends with each other.
We've been putting them next to each other, and they're starting to react. Sometimes they'll just stare off into space...
But more often than not, they pay attention to each other...
And now that they've been introduced, it's time for the punching to begin. Here's Will delivering a death blow to Nate.

Nate countered with a roundhouse kick to the head moments later. We were not able to caputure this moment with a camera, because I was too busy grounding them.

But still, through all the screaming, puking, and punching, there are a few moments when we (in this case, Julie and Will) get some rest.

Well, some of us get rest...

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Thursday, September 14, 2006


As many of you may know, I’m a longtime fan of Dave Barry, so you can imagine my excitement when I got to cover my first ever booger-related story today.

It involves a booger being a key piece of evidence that cracked a bank robbery case. Despite the fact that it is one of the sillier pieces I’ve done and that it contains the word “booger” no fewer than three times (twice uttered by a police chief), it was sent out over the national satellite feed. That means local stations can use it if they see fit. So if you were watching a CBS affiliate today or yesterday and saw a story about a crime fighting booger, you know where it came from.

I’ve gone national with a booger story. I’ve hit the bigtime. Sometimes the best stories are right under your nose.

(In unrelated news, Dave Barry’s blog today features a story about pigeons dropping dead in Texarkana. When I lived in Texarkana, I wished I could do the same thing, too.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


We've been told to prepare for this day, for the day when our kids will actually smile at us. Well, it seems that day may have come. Julie left the living room for a few seconds and came back to find this...

Oh wait, wrong photo. We still do find scenes like this quite a bit, but just a while back, Nate did this... Now I know that's a little blurry (I'm working on getting a camera with a macro lens, really) but that is, in fact, Nate smiling! But wait, there's more... That's Will! He's out of focus, and he's smiling, too!

Want more? Oh I got more... You got it, it's Julie and Will smiling. There's an even better version of this photo, but Julie cut off Will's head when she took it. Here it is anyway... I must say, this changes everything. Just a few days ago, I was ready to drop these two guys off at a police station or somehting. But now their smiles just melt my heart and I feel like I'm really getting something back after seemingly dropping all this love and affection into a dark, bottomless well. I can't wait to just pick those babies up and... Oh. It seems they've stopped smiling. Well, that's ok, at least they're not... ...screaming. Ok, they're screaming now, too. Oh well, at least I know they're capable of smiling. Perhaps they'll do it again one day. (sigh)

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Monday, September 11, 2006


It’s late at night and I’m up watching the CBS 9/11 documentary on TiVo.

I should start by saying that I’m proud that CBS and the affiliate I work for chose to air the film in its unedited form. I know there was a lot of pressure brought by certain groups not to air it. Airing it was the right thing to do.

But just because it’s the right thing to air, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to watch. As the horrific scenes of that day pass across my TV, I’m shocked by how raw my emotions are about that day, how close to the surface they still are, how little real healing there has been over the past 5 years.

I was in Prague on September 11th, 2001. Julie and I were on our honeymoon. We were shopping for some overpriced glass object when we heard someone speaking in broken English about the plane that knocked over the world trade towers. I actually chuckled to myself, thinking her English must not bee too good, “If she only knew what she just said.”

But we went outside and saw some people huddled around a tobacco shop listening very intently to a radio. That didn’t draw much of our attention, but we did hear President Bush say, “Today we have suffered a great national tragedy.” The term “great national tragedy” gets thrown around quite a bit, but we thought we’d go to an internet café later that night and investigate.

A few hours later, we clicked on a news site. Each paragraph was less believable than the one before it.

Julie asked, “Did you find out what this tragedy is?”


"What does it say?"

"It says a plane hit the Trade Towers in New York.”


“It says a second plane hit another tower.”

“What kind of plane?”

“I don’t know… the towers collapsed.”


“They’re gone. We were just there last week… It says a third plane hit the Pentagon.”


“That’s what it says… a fourth plane… it crashed in Pennsylvania.”


“That’s what it says… they shut down all air traffic in the US.”

“How do we get home?”

“I don’t know.”

We went back to our hotel and found the staff had placed a TV in our room so we could watch the coverage. Julie went to sleep after a few hours, but I stayed up most of the night watching CNN International and worrying that we were 7,000 miles from home on the first day of World War III.

About a week later, we landed back at LAX. There were National Guard soldiers in the terminals holding machine guns. Large tanks were stationed at the entrances to the airport, blocking all traffic except parking shuttles. Cars were covered with small American flags. We had been gone for two weeks, but we returned to a completely different country.

Most things in the US have gotten back to normal since 9/11, but watching this documentary tonight, I realize that I still hate the people who did this to our country. I hate the people who took the lives of innocent thousands. And I hate what their actions have unleashed in this country since that day. Terrorism is based on hate, and I know that hating these people merely plays into their hands. But I still hate them. I wish I was bigger than that. I’m not.

And every time I take off my shoes in an airport, I get a little angry again, remembering what we’ve lost. It’s not the convenience I miss, it’s the innocence. It’s that feeling that, even though I’m only in my 30s, perhaps my best days are already behind me. Perhaps history has already passed me by, and I’m already a grumpy old man, living in the past and grumbling about how things were so much better before the world changed.

Before the documentary ends, I’m interrupted by crying in the other room. It’s Nate. He’s hungry. I heat up a bottle for him and hold him in my arms as he sucks down some milk and drifts back to sleep. And as I look at him, I can only hope and pray that he can tolerate the fatally flawed world we've brought him into.

I hold him a little closer. He’s asleep now, and I can put him back in his bed. But I still want to hold him. On a dark day like this one, sometimes you just need to be with the people you love.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Having twins is like spinning plates a lot of the time, especially if you're alone, and Julie and I do have to take turns alone sometimes.

Take, for instance, trying to get them to sleep at night. If you could just hold this one for 8 minutes straight, then you could get him down, but his brother is screaming, so you put the calm one down and pick up the screaming one. And if you had 8 minutes straight to hold him, you could calm him down completely, but now his brother is screaming...

You get the picture. There just aren't many quiet moments. Moments where you can just sit and marvel at the miracle of life, or notice little quirks the kids are developing, or just feel them inhale and exhale as they're curled up on your chest. I had to work a 15 hour day, so I know Julie wasn't having many of those moments today.

But every once in a while, through all the screaming and puking and nasty diaper changes... well...

Everything kinda comes together.

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Friday, September 08, 2006


So our two monsters are 7 weeks old today and we’ve crossed a major developmental milestone… they will look at us.

Benchmarks like this are supposed to send parents into 7th Heaven (the heaven, not the TV show). So you can get an idea of what it’s all about, here’s a photo of them looking at us while dressed like Kid ‘N Play…

Let me make sure I’ve got this right: we’ve paid out tens of thousands of dollars to doctors, reconfigured our house, fed, them, clothed them, and basically done anything they want for the duration of their lives… and now they will finally deign to make eye contact with us. Oh, your royal highness, it is an honor!

I get bent out of shape if the clerk at 7-Eleven doesn’t make eye contact with me, and I’ve never allowed him to puke on me.

So what’s it going to take to get a little bit more from these kids? Who knows? Perhaps if I donate a kidney to one of them, I’ll get that “cool guy” nod from across the room. Whoever got adults to sign on to this deal was a very good negotiator.

Up next: we search for that elusive smile.

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Monday, September 04, 2006


About seven years ago I went to a party thrown by some friends in Salt Lake City. I was in town for a family reunion, but was able to get away for just one night.

The event was populated with some pretty fabulous looking women, but one caught my eye across the living room. In a very uncharacteristic move, I walked up to her and introduced myself.

We spoke for… well… I don’t know how long. It felt like just a few minutes, but it was about an hour, I think. During the course of the conversation, I learned that this woman was highly educated, successful, crazy smart, funny, and, indeed, a stone cold fox. I thought to ask why such an accomplished woman would even talk to an unemployed beach bum like me, but I held my tongue. In another first, I asked for her phone number. I walked away from the party reasonably confident I would marry this person I just met.

What followed for the next year was a long distance romance that closely resembled the plot of those horrible romantic comedies I hate so much. Eventually, Julie moved to LA, and we were married about a year later.

Those events have created such a seismic shift in my life that I don’t have the capacity to really express it. Put simply, it opened the floodgates of happiness in my life, and I have spent the past seven years bathing in an endless supply of joy.

And that’s why today is so cool, it’s my favorite day of the year. It’s Julie’s birthday. It’s the day when a most wonderful thing happened, the world got Julie.

We’ve celebrated Julie’s birthday in many different places over the years. One year we cut cake in Korea. On a few occasions, we celebrated the day in Vienna. On a less auspicious year, we spent Julie’s birthday driving down State Line Avenue in Texarkana, wondering if we could possibly stand to live there. (The answer was “no,” but we spent 14 months there anyway.) Last year we took it easy in Dallas after I had worked 10 straight days covering Hurricane Katrina.

This year, we’re celebrating Julie’s birthday from a whole different planet: planet parenthood. We’ve got two sons, and we blessed them in church yesterday (that’s why they’re dressed like girls).
Parenthood has truly bonded us. We know we have to stick together if we are to defeat these two boys and their plan to kill us and devour our brains. They simply cannot be allowed to win.

Later in the day, today, I’ll break out a cake an some presents. But in the end, I’m the one who’s got the best gift. I’ve got Julie. And that makes me happier than anyone has a right to be.

Despite the fact that I am, technically, a professional communicator, I’ve not found a really good way to sum up my feelings for Julie, so I’m forced to turn to popular music.

Now before we go on, you should know that I hate love songs, partly because they cheapen something very beautiful, and also because they just get it wrong. But there’s one that gets it right.

Earlier this year, in anticipation of a road trip, I picked up “Rockin’ the Suburbs” by Ben Folds. It’s not a new album by any stretch of the imagination, but I just never got around to buying it. As the six-months-pregnant Julie and I drove from Medford to Portland, I popped in the disc. At the very end is a tune called “The Luckiest.” It’s a plain spoken, but gorgeous, song about enduring love. And as I listened to it that night, I struggled to keep my composure as we wound our way down a darkened stretch of Oregon highway. And I had to agree with the song’s refrain, “I am the luckiest.”

Thank you, Julie. Every year since I met you has been the best year of my life. Thank you for making me the luckiest.

"The Luckiest"

I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls
Brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know

That I am
I am
I am
The luckiest

What if I'd been born fifty years before you
In a house on a street where you lived?
Maybe I'd be outside as you passed on your bike
Would I know?

And in a white sea of eyes
I see one pair that I recognize
And I know

That I am
I am
I am
The luckiest

I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you

Next door there's an old man who lived to his nineties
And one day passed away in his sleep
And his wife; she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away

I'm sorry, I know that's a strange way to tell you that I know we belong
That I know

That I am
I am
I am
The luckiest

Friday, September 01, 2006


To my parents and other family members: I promise I'll go back to posting baby pictures and cute anecdotes later this week. But tonight, it's time to rant.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave a pretty appalling speech in Salt Lake City where he compared the War on Terror (and, by inference, the War in Iraq) to World War Two. He went on to imply that people who oppose the war in Iraq are the types of people who would have taken Hitler out to lunch and kindly asked him to stop oppressing the Jews before handing Poland over to him. There were all kinds of problems with the speech, many of which were dealt with in a Slate article on the subject.

But something else happened on MSNBC this week. I don't watch MSNBC, I don't know anybody who does, but my friend Jon posted a clip from Keith Olbermann's show on his site, and I think it's worth passing on to the paltry (yet ever growing) audience that passes through this site.

For those not too net savvy (and you know who you are--Patti), just click on the picture below and the video should launch. Be warned, the audio is crap.

As a journalist, I do have a few problems with this clip. First, it's a bit overwritten. It's clear Olbermann believes he's writing for posterity, perhaps even hoping to follow in the footsteps of his hero Edward R. Murrow. In the process, he stretches a bit too hard to reach Murrow's level of eloquence. (Murrow may have been the best writer the news business has ever seen, so it's a bit unfair to compare the two, but Olbermann brought it up. So there.)

But these are but minor trifles when you realize that Olbermann is right. Since the September 11th attacks, the Bush Administration has used patriotism as a battering ram to silence critics. I'll never forget how angry I felt when then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told the president's critics that they needed to "watch what they said" in this new era of terrorism. As a school kid learning about the US form of government, and all the freedoms we had here, I could have never imagined that I would one day hear the spokesman for the president say such things. I consider myself patriotic, but I was deeply disappointed in my nation that day.

In his speech, Rumsfeld rails against the outrages of our era, an era where journalists have the gall to report on troop misconduct abroad, an era where a respected human rights organization like Amnesty International calls into question our indefinite detentions of so-called "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay. How dare they?

He failed to mention outrages like this. A newspaper catches the president flagrantly breaking the law, violating his oath of office, and ignoring the Constitution from which his powers derive (in this case, it was warrantless wire tapping). The people who uncovered these violations were branded "traitors" by the administration. It was par for the course, really. If you oppose the administration, you clearly must love terrorism or hate freedom or want to french kiss Osama bin Laden by candlelight in some Pakistan cave.

More remarkable than this bullying is how long it has been allowed to go on. We're five years into this now and it often seems line no one is even raising an eyebrow. That's why I'm proud of what Olbermann did. I get a little nervous when journalists veer into commentary (like on this post, for instance). I think people in the news business spend way too much time spewing opinion rather than gathering and broadcasting facts. But every once in a great while, someone needs to speak truth to power. Olbermann was the first person to really take a stab at it, even if he did engage in some substantial mental acrobatics to sell his Neville Chamberlain analogy.

I understand that every blogger with a clean set of pajamas is bent out of shape, one way or another, over Rumsfeld's speech. What's written in this tiny little backwater of the internet will likely have no effect on the current debate in our country. It will be viewed, likely with some bemusement, by my friends and family, and by the small handful of people who have stumbled upon this site and return on occasion.

But maybe, if thousands of small voices start speaking up, it will add up to a larger voice, something that will be listened to. And maybe that will affect some kind of change that means that the two little boys who just puked on me tonight won't have to grow up in a country where they have to "watch what they say" if they don't agree with their government.

Dissent is patriotic. So there.

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