Thursday, April 26, 2007


Like so many life changing stories, this one starts with male vanity.

A few weeks ago, the TV station I work for took new promotional photos for their website. I was perfectly happy with the old photo, but eventually I relented and sat down for a session with our photographer. Several days later, our website featured a picture of me that I found completely unacceptable. I looked like a cross between Guy Smiley and Jabba the Hut.

Like any good TV prima donna, I complained. Not to the photographer, but to my fellow journalists.

“Have you seen my new online photo?”

“No, let me have a look… Looks pretty nice.”

“Nice? You can’t be serious. I’ve got two chins and no jaw-line in this picture.”

“No, it’s fine. It looks just like you.”

At that moment I remembered a story a friend told me recently. He was at the DMV to renew his driver’s license and he got his picture taken. When they showed him the picture on the computer screen, he saw this fat old guy. “Bad picture,” he thought. So he asked them to take another, realizing that usually only women make such requests, and only in California (where he was living).

They took another picture and it looked exactly the same. Then he realized that the camera was not broken, but he was.

And that’s the conclusion I reached once several co-workers insisted that our new online photo was an accurate representation of me. It was a pretty sobering wake up call. As I wrote in this space last May, I’ve been underweight for most of my life… really underweight. 5’11”, 125 pounds underweight. And in my head, I still sort of carry that image around with me.

In the physical world, it’s been a different story. By the time I hit my late 20s, I weighed about 175 pounds. That’s pretty much the average for my height. Then I turned 30 and things just sort of fell apart.

But with this new photo I was scared straight, so I decided I was going to change my life for the better. No more sweets, no more pizza, no more fatty snacks, dinners filled with leafy greens and vegetables in season; that would be my new lot in life.

Allow me to stop laughing, wipe the tears from my eyes, and apologize for that last sentence. It was a practical joke and I found it quite funny. In fact, I’ve decided to make just a few modifications to see if I can get healthier.

First, 30 minutes of exercise per day. I’ve got a stationary bicycle in our bedroom that has pretty much been gathering dust since we moved to Oregon. (Who am I kidding? It was gathering dust long before we moved.) For 30 minutes per day (long enough to watch one classic episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus) I would pedal up and down the pretend hills of some town the bike’s computer invented.

Prong two: portion control. Instead of a foot-long hoagie, how about a 6 inch? How about only eating half of that cheese pizza instead of the whole thing? Sounds like a plan.

But it’s prong three that’s causing the most disruption. Eliminating all soda (back in Rochester, we called it “pop”). That includes Pepsi, the great addiction of my adult life. I figured soda was a pretty big source of calories in my diet, and eliminating it could assist me in removing my second and third chins. Also, I learned from radio program “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” that caffeine actually didn’t work as a stimulant in most users, but merely relieved the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.

And, let me tell you, that withdrawal is pretty nasty stuff. Two days into my experiment, I had a headache that nearly drove me insane. Also, I was tired, really, really tired. So tired that I was afraid I would drive my car off the road a few times.

But through the use of powerful drugs (Thank you, leftover vicodin!), I was able to get past the headaches, and the fatigue is slowly going away.

But the void in my life left by Pepsi has yet to be filled. When I cut out Pepsi, I also decided to say goodbye to pretty much every liquid except plain old water. But plain old water just isn’t as yummy as Pepsi. So I’ve been sucking down the Target brand citrus sparkling mineral water like it’s going out of style and waiting for the cravings to stop. Oh, the cravings. Last week I actually had a dream that I inhaled an entire Mondo Big Gulp (or whatever biggest thing they sell at 7-Eleven). I was filled with joy and shame as I drank the sickly sweet concoction.

I’m two weeks into it now, and I’m less tired and the headaches are mostly gone. For now, I’m just taking it one day at a time.

(And don’t try to sell me on diet soda, it tastes nasty and that fake sugar will probably kill you faster than the real stuff.)

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


So way back in 1970, my older sister had a sock monkey that I really believed should be mine. So I decided to take it, and thus was born a classic set of photos.(this photo stolen from my sister and brother-in-law's site... and they probably stole the original from my parents)

There are actually about a dozen photos in the set, and they're really pretty funny. Mom said she was mad at dad for taking the pictures because she wanted some help in resolving the situation. In terms of parenting, mom was probably right. But history has spoken, and the popularity of the photos among my siblings is proof that dad did the right thing in this particular case.

With that in mind, you can understand why someone (Julie) sat around snapping pictures while history repeated itself this weekend.

It started innocently enough as the twins awoke from their naps. Will was lying around showing off his gut...
And Nate trying to emulate Will's matinee idol picture of a few months back.
Then someone (Julie) decided to put them both in one crib. You know, just to see what would happen.
So what happens is Nate grabs a toy.
And that's the kind of thing that gets Will's attention.
And seconds later...
Nate bravely repelled the first attack
But soon a pitched battle was taking place.
But in the end, Nate, would up reclaiming what was rightly his.
And peace would be restored to the crib in the form of another brightly colored toy. So that situation has been diffused, but it seems like just a matter of time before violence once again strikes this once peaceful crib.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007


I've tried to keep the comments section here a fairly freewheeling place. My idea has been that anyone can post pretty much what they want without censorship from me or even any impediments like word verification.

For the most part, the system has worked pretty well. People who post comments here tend to be witty folks, and comment spam has been extremely rare.

Alas, those days are gone. This blog has come to the attention of the Russian mafia, and they're just peppering the comments section with multiple spam attacks per day. Now when I say "come to the attention of the Russian mafia," I really mean, "come to the attention of some nasty little computer program developed by the Russian mafia."

I actually wish the first case was the true one. It's kind of amusing to imagine some gangster with a giant fir hat and a dueling scar sucking down a bottle of vodka while crouched over a computer in a Moscow basement. Finally he comes upon this site. After glancing at some baby photos and reading a post about how annoying daylight saving time is, he realizes that I must be taken out.

It's likely nothing so personal, but the spam attacks are just as real. So I've had to activate word verification for people that post. You can still post anonymously or under an assumed name, you just have to prove you're not a nasty Russian computer. I'm sure I could administer some kind of quiz, but I don't even know what questions to ask.

I actually hate word verification because I always mess up the letters when I'm leaving comments. I transpose characters a lot, just ask spell check. But if this helps keep our Russian friends at bay, then it will be worth the inconvenience.

So as you enter those nonsense words in the verification box, don't blame me, blame Vladimir Putin. He's run a country where organized crime has run rampant. And George Bush looked into his soul... that couldn't have helped.

Coming up this week, a fresh batch of pictures, and a poignant yet humorous exploration of drug addiction. All that and more on a very special edition of Workman's Waste of Time. Don't miss it, unless you're a member of the Russian mafia... or Vladimir Putin... or George Bush (I really don't want him looking into my soul via the Internet).


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


...feel so right?
The Landlord
(Warning to mom: some coarse language in this video)

Sunday, April 15, 2007


One of the great joys of parenthood is being able to dress your kids up in whatever silly clothes you can find. It will be about two years or so before they develop any real sense of taste, and even then they're pretty open to manipulation. And right now, you can do anything you want. Check out these MC Hammer pants we put on Will.Nate is so excited about them that he's willing to help Will start break dancing.But hats are where you can really make your mark. Our good friends Pat and Rebecca gave us some good cold weather hats. With temperatures hitting unseasonable low levels, we can break these out.Oh yeah, that's some style. We were so excited about the hats, we wheeled the kids around the neighborhood to show them off. Will seemed pretty happy about it. But Nate, well...Back inside, Nate and Will settle back into their favorite chair and dream of the day when we dress them up in leather cowboy hats and skirts like Martin Gore of Depeche Mode circa 1985.Not yet, but that time will come.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007


But this guy actually did it.

We've installed an automation system at work, and things can get pretty rough sometimes. Some days, you just want to freak out when things go wrong. But here in market size #141, we're too professional for that. So when the robots decide to pump the show's audio into the studio really loud, we just soldier on. But when you get to the larger markets like, say, Honolulu, well... they're kinda babies.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Like many people around the world, I watched with great interest the drama surrounding the fates of 15 British sailors captured in the Persian Gulf and held in Iran. I have no idea if they really were in Iranian waters, but I'm glad they've been safely returned to their homes. Now maybe gas prices in the US will go back down.

In the US coverage of the aftermath, I saw a front page from The Sun. The big screaming headline said "WE WERE BLINDFOLDED AND BEATEN!" But the smaller sub-headline said, "They called me Mr. Bean."

I found this a most curious taunt. I'm aware that Rowan Atkinson's nearly silent comic creation is an international phenomenon. I was on a ferry crossing the English Channel in 1994 when I had my first exposure to Mr. Bean. It was just past midnight and hundreds of weary travelers boarded the boat that featured a casino and several restaurants. But most of the good stuff was closed and people appeared to be settling in to get some sleep. But just before we left the harbor, a voice came over the intercom.

"For your entertainment tonight, we'll be playing episodes of the bumbling Mr. Bean."

The place went nuts. Loud cheers erupted through the ship, and people who once looked like they were going down for a nap now repositioned themselves to get a better view of of the television monitors. Once the screen flickered to life, I saw a short man with an odd looking face drive a Mini into a street sign. What followed for the next 30 minutes was a series of sight gags including Mr. Bean pulling several pencils out of his jacket, and trying to change into a bathing suit without taking off his trousers. (That latter gag is actually quite an acrobatic feat and well worth taking a look at.)

Swimsuit gag notwithstanding, most of the show just sort of made me shrug. But I could see why it was a staple on international ferries. There were almost no words in any of the sketches, and the whole thing was squeaky-clean family entertainment.

So It's no surprise that the show is loved all over the world. But in Iran? Really? I don't have access to any Iranian TV schedules, but I always imagined the broadcast day was full of fiery speeches by the Prime Minister and coverage of various American flag burnings. But apparently someone has access to Mr. Bean programs over there.

And that's where Arthur Batchelor comes into the picture. He was the youngest of the British hostages, and he told newspapers that his captors called him Mr. Bean to torment him.

From the press accounts, there was nothing all that funny about Batchelor's detention. He says he feared being raped or killed during the ordeal. At one point, he was handcuffed and slapped by his captors.

"They seemed to take particular pleasure in mocking me for being young," Batchelor told the British Daily Mirror newspaper. The situation is even more unfortunate because Batchelor actually does bear a slight resemblance to Rowan Atkinson. Not a huge resemblance, mind you, but you can see what the Iranians were talking about.

What's next for Batchelor is any one's guess. He'll likely go back to serving in the Royal Navy after a short rest. Perhaps he'll write about his experiences. If he wants to make a few extra bucks, might I suggest he go to the beach and take off his trousers while still keeping his bathing suit on. Watch and learn, Arthur, watch and learn.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007


That's kind of what I've been for the past few days. You see, Julie's been in Washington DC for the past several days. On Thursday, she was at a party hobnobbing with none other than former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. (And by "hobnobbing" I mean "trying to avoid because she really didn't want to have to shake his hand.")

So it's been just me and the babies since Wednesday. OK, not really. We've got the greatest nanny in the world who has been working overtime in Julie's absence. I'm sure most single parents don't have access to a resource like that. But despite all that, I've had more "alone time" with Nate and Will over the past four days than in the last several months. And we've had a pretty good time. It started off pretty normally, and the twins looked pretty normal.Yeah, the pants are a little big, but I hear that's the style with kids these days.

But after a while, when guys hang out, something happens. They become less formal, less dressy. They tend to wear pants less often. And so it was with the three of us. I started wandering around the house in sweats and underwear (picture not available) and pretty soon Nate and Will stopped wearing pants, too. Here's Nate being extra saucy, knocking back a cold (or perhaps warm) drink, and showing a little leg.And, because it was just the guys, Will wasn't too self-conscious to let his chunky legs hang out.With Julie gone, the guys thought it would be a good idea to send pictures of themselves to their mom. So Will sat down for a normal portrait sitting.Then Will made the decision he wanted to take Nate's picture.As you can see, Will has a thing or two to learn about photography. Whether on purpose or not, Will has made his brother look like a space alien. Let's try another picture of Nate without Will at the helm.Much better.

In a few hours my short stab at single parenthood will be over. Julie's flight lands at 10:30, she she should be home by 11 or 11:30. Good news for me. The past four days have been exhausting, but they've also been fun... just like parenthood, I guess. Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in the living room and surveyed the situation. The living room was strewn with toys, the kitchen was filled with bottles, and I was just about ready to pass out. Because I had two kids, I wasn't really able to leave the home. It was sort of like I was under house arrest. I was trapped, completely trapped. Then I looked over at my two little guys chewing on their teething rings, and I realized I was the luckiest guy on earth.

And when Julie lands back home in a few hours, I will be luckier still.

NOTE: Lest I be accused of plagiarism, you should know that most of the best pictures in this post were taken by our nanny, Maren.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007


April 4th is "Hug a Newsman Day." I don't know who declared it or why, but I know it is the most important day on the calendar.

So please, within the next 24 hours, hug your favorite newsman. Or me.


Monday, April 02, 2007


Well, the last weekend in March is behind us, and I'm sure you all enjoyed the spring ritual of setting your clocks back an hour. Some of you might have looked at that sentence and asked two questions.

1) Don't you set your clocks ahead an hour for daylight saving time?

2) Didn't daylight saving time start three weeks ago?

You're right on both counts but, at the same time, you're wrong. As you might imagine, the confusion is the result of a Technological Marvel of the Modern Age (TM).

When I was living in Texarkana I had a few problems. The first was that I lived in Texarkana. The second was an unreliable power supply. For whatever reason, the power went out in Texarkana with alarming frequency. Perhaps it was a move on the power company's part to show solidarity with their brothers in Baghdad. Perhaps the utility company didn't think we really needed electricity all the time. But whatever the case, it was not unusual to come home from work and find all the clocks blinking.

After a while, I got annoyed and bought a self-setting clock. Now before you get too impressed, this was not one of those fancy clocks that receives radio transmissions from the atomic clock in the US Naval Observatory. Those are expensive, and they certainly aren't for sale at a Target in Texarkana. Nope, I got a $15 clock radio from a company I've never heard of called Emerson Research.

The "Smart Set" clock has some inexpensive computer chip inside that runs a simple time program. It also has a calendar function. All you do is plug it in, and within seconds it knows the date and time. You do have to do is set the time zone, but that's the only alteration you should ever have to make. Ever. Not even for daylight saving time.

Then congress had to go mess everything up.

Despite my clock's designation as "smart," it didn't know that congress changed the starting date for daylight saving time this year. In fairness, it also didn't know about the massive oil company subsidies stuffed inside the energy bill that changed daylight saving time. So I guess I can't blame it.

So what that meant was, three weeks ago, when daylight saving time took effect, my clocks (yes, I would up going back to the store and buying more) did NOT change. The only way I could get them to display the proper time was to LIE to my clocks and tell them I was living in the Mountain time zone. Can you understand the humiliation of having my clocks thinking that I live in the lamest time zone in the US? It's not anything I would wish on my worst enemy.

So three weeks after I set all my clocks ahead, another thing happened. My "smart" clocks decided daylight saving time had come to the Mountain Time Zone and jumped forward. I actually saw it happen. I was trying to get a teething baby back to sleep when I glanced at the clock. It was 1:59 AM. Moments later, I looked up and it was 3:00.

(That's not some sort of literary device I'm employing there. It's not like I'm trying to describe how quickly time can pass when you're sitting with a screaming baby. It's all literal. It was just moment later, and the clock really did say 3... even though it wasn't. Everything clear? Good, then let's move on.)

As I saw the clock change, I realized that I was one of a few, proud Americans who won't just change their clocks twice a year. Instead, I get to change mine FOUR times a year.

I was complaining about this at work the other day (I complain about a lot of things at work) and someone mentioned that these clocks are cheap and easily replaceable. Why don't I just go to Target and plunk down another $15 for an updated clock? Nice try. Congress has changed daylight saving time on a trial basis. That's right, they could decide to change it back in a year or two if they wish. And by then I probably would have donated the old clocks to poor people who don't care about daylight saving time. What am I supposed to do then, huh?

I apologize for that outburst, it was uncalled for. I also apologize to poor people who are passionate about daylight saving time. It seems I should end this post before I cause any more trouble. But any suggestions on how to resolve this would be most welcome.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007


When it comes to nap time, the babies can be quite a handful.
But we've put a Winnie the Pooh mobile in their crib to keep them occupied as they drift off to sleep.
I think that's Tigger, with Winnie (the Pooh, not Mandela) poking out of the top of the frame. The setup seems to keep them occupied enough to let us leave the room.
But it sometimes amuses them a little too much.So in honor of the beloved mobile, we thought we'd give you, the home viewer, a chance to see what Winnie sees every morning.

P.S. Allow me to head off the most obvious question this post raises: do they sleep in the same crib? Answer: no, not anymore. They did for the first few months, they they got too big. They were in the same crib this weekend strictly for cuteness purposes.

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