Thursday, June 28, 2007


So Paris is out of jail. I hope you all ignored it. Enough said on that subject.

More alert readers of this blog have noticed that I've changed the official language of this blog to Icelandic. I made the move as a nod to my new obsession: the Faroe Islands.

It started as a lark when I noticed this blog had gotten a hit from a town called Skúli somewhere in the middle of the North Atlantic. A little investigation found that this town was located in the Faroe Islands, a place I had never previously heard of. (That's a big deal for me because I'm a huge map nerd.) A few weeks later, I got another hit from Torshavn, which is the capitol of the Faroe Islands.

This intrigued me, so I combed the net to try to find out more about this place. Turns out, it's a series of beautiful windswept islands about halfway between Iceland and Norway. The Faroes are a semi-independent country. They've got their own flag, their own government, and even their own language (Faroese). Denmark runs the court system and national defense.

Only 50,000 people live on these islands, which makes the two hits from that country even more impressive. That means one in every 25,000 people in the Faroe Islands have visited this site in the last two months. That would be like picking up 12,000 new American readers. Sure, dooce does that in a half hour, but this is a blog that has an appeal that's more selective.

Working on this logic (that a single Faroe Islands reader is worth 6,000 Americans), I figured I should try to up my readership on this tiny set of islands. Perhaps I could devote more of this space to Faroese current events. This is actually tougher than it may appear. Despite the global reach of the Internet, English language news from the Faroes is almost impossible to come by. I found about five newspapers online, but only two had English language editions, and the most recent update on those was last September.

Most other English language news about the Faroes amounts to recaps of soccer play from the national team. They recently lost to Scotland. As a matter of fact, Wikipedia says the Faroe Islands National Soccer Team is one of the weakest members of UEFA. Nonsense. I say Wikipedia is one of the weakest members of UEFA! How dare they say that about my newly beloved Faroes? I now officially declare myself a fan of the Faroe Islands National Soccer Team which, I should add, has absolutely no merchandise available for sale online.

The team page for the Faroes most successful domestic soccer team, Hanvar Boltfelag, is also pretty much merch free. (They actually had shirts for sale, but when I emailed to inquire, I never got a response, but they did remove the picture of the shirt.)

So the point is that I'm having a rather difficult time finding a way to drive Faroese traffic to this site, but I do have a few more tricks under my sleeve.

Perhaps I could turn his site into shrine to Eivør. She's a singer from the Faroes and will be playing a festival in Estonia this weekend. Check it out if you're in the neighborhood. (Oddly enough, she also made a brief appearance on this week's Frontline.)

Of course, the best thing to do is actually travel there and write about it. An Associated Press writer filed just such a story today, and did quite a nice job of it. I really want to check out the G! Festival. 20 bands playing in a remote North Atlantic village. Sounds like heaven. So if the Faroe Islands Tourist Board, or Faroe Islands Enterprise, or these people want to send a charming young man to cover this event, well, leave me a message.

For now, all I can really do to represent for the Faroes is my little language gimmick. The days of the week and a few other features are now written in Icelandic. Blogger doesn't offer a Faroese language option, but I understand it's derived from old Norse, as is Icelandic. So perhaps that will make this site a more comfortable place for our Faroese visitors. And the rest of you can learn interesting new things like "sendu inn authugasemd" means something like "leave a comment" in Icelandic.

And while I'm on Faroes Watch, I'll try to include some small piece of Faroe Islands trivia or news here each week. Wish me luck.


Saturday, June 23, 2007


I was all set to pen my love letter to my new obsession: the Faroe Islands, but that will have to wait a few more days. Instead, I feel an urgent need to write about what must be someone elses new obsession: Paris Hilton.

I have long wondered exactly why anyone would pay attention to this woman. The phenomenon of being famous for being famous is puzzling one, but there is usually a formula. Take Zsa Zsa Gabor, for instance. She appeared in some films in the 1950s, got access to some cash and "Hollywood People," and soon she doing nothing more than making cameo appearances on the Love Boat. By the time she got arrested for slapping a cop in the 1980s, nobody could remember why she was famous. But the point is she actually did something at some point of her life that merited fame before her life went adrift. (This is likely where Britney Spears is headed.)

Then there's Paris. There is absolutely no reason why anyone should pay attention to her. She's a fairly skanky rich girl who has a thing for alcohol and bad taste in sexual partners. She can have anything she wants, but that's not enough, she also wants us to be obsessed with her. So she releases sex tapes of herself and frequents places where she knows photographers will be lurking and prances around half-naked on a sports car in an attempt to sell hamburgers. She doesn't do this because she needs the money. Instead, she covets our brainshare.

I've taken great pride in ignoring as much of Paris and her life as is possible when you work in the news biz. But I must admit I was riveted by media reports two weeks ago when Paris was released then thrown back in jail. But at least I have a degree of shame about it, unlike some people I know.

So Paris is in jail for just a few more days, and when she gets out, the media will scramble to plaster her on every single newscast, TV show, and magazine available. I've just learned that Paris will appear on Larry king once she's released. But I'm struck by a statement she released before she headed off to jail for a second time...

"I must also say that I was shocked to see all of the attention devoted to the amount of time I would spend in jail for what I had done by the media, public and city officials. I would hope going forward that the public and the media will focus on more important things, like the men and women serving our country in Iraq and other places around the world."

Ignore, if you can, the irony of this woman--who has spent her short adult life begging us to pay attention to her--expressing shock that people would take notice of the details of her life. Instead, let's take her at her word. Let's ignore Paris.

There are very few problems that will go away if you ignore them, but annoying famous people are the exception. Think of OJ Simpson, people eventually tired of him and you hardly hear anything about him anymore (all that nonsense about his book went away mercifully fast).

So lets do it, let's ignore Paris. We can do this. I had considered registering the domain ignoreparis.com (it's available) and launching some sort of online campaign. Alas, I don't have the web savvy to launch my own website. So instead, I'm asking you, fair reader, to make your own pledge to ignore Ms. Hilton. When you see her on TV, change the channel. If she's on the cover of your favorite magazine, don't buy it. Avoid the temptation to click on the link that says "Paris Converts to Islam While Jailed."

Don't worry about ruining her life. She's got all the money she needs, and she's quite capable of ruining her own life, thank you. So ignore Paris. Ignore her because, no matter how dim you are, she does not deserve one synapse in your brain. Ignore her because she has no talent. Ignore her because she's tarnished the good name of the most beautiful city in Europe.

The media blitz is coming. It will be loud and furious. But you can resist it. I know you can. Just repeat after me: I will ignore Paris...

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


No more than 24 hours after I asked in this space if anyone knew of a picture of Shahara Simmons, my dear friend and former boss Darrell emails me a photo. Turns out, it isn't too hard to find, just type the woman's name into a Google image search, and this page comes up. Oh well.

For those just tuning in, Shahara Simmons is the wife of LA Clippers star Elton Brand and the source of an unusually large number of search engine hits to this blog. Her name appeared in the comments section of a post I wrote about 17 months ago. The post was about an LA Clippers baseball cap I used to own. Since then, more than 100 people have come to this site looking for Sharaha Simmons information, and have left largely empty handed.

But two days ago I posted a message I received from Sharara's cousin. It said Ms. Simmons was a beautiful person who will go far in life. Now, let's take a look at a picture of this woman.

Her cousin wasn't joking. Shahara Simmons is, indeed, a beautiful woman. She and Elton make a striking couple.

There isn't a Wikipedia entry on her, but we've already learned that she's a Duke grad. Other than that, she is a mystery. But at least people that come here searching for her will find a little more information than they did before.

Up Next: My obsession for the Faroe Islands continues.

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Monday, June 18, 2007


A fun little tradition has developed in our home. Minutes before I come home from work, Julie props the twins up on the futon so they can look out the front window.
They stare out the window and enjoy the nice view, and sometimes look back at Julie.
Will and Nate (foreground and background, respectively) wait for me to pull up in my car, then they jump for joy.
This is my first Father's Day as a father, so it was quite fun to have these two little guys waiting for me when I came home. As per our tradition, I came up to the window and waved to them before running through the front door (picture not available). But once I got inside, I was able to sit down and give my boys a big hug.
The little guys also showed off their new talent: sort of standing up.
Julie took pictures of me with the boys on Mother's Day, so I thought I'd return the favor.
Then, to wrap up the photo session, we sat down for a self portrait.

Ok, that didn't work that well, but it was still a pretty fun Father's Day.

Tune in later this week as we learn more about Shahara Simmons and the Faroe Islands

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Friday, June 15, 2007


I don't celebrate anniversaries here, because the history of this blog makes them kind of meaningless. But I do recognize milestones, and we hit a big one today. This humble bit of scribbling you're reading right now is the 200th post to this site. It took five years to reach 100 posts, so I'm quite pleased that it only took 11 months to double that figure.

Looking over the past 100 posts, one certain event has dominated this space. When I posted my 100 update, I was most concerned with whether to create a separate blog to showcase baby pictures and keep this space more about humor writing and the like. Instead, this site has become an uneasy marriage between the two. The irony is that the baby pics probably drive more traffic to this site than anything else. Oh well. I still sometimes think about segregating the two into separate blogs. I'll let you know when I hit post #300.

I've been pouring over my Google Analytics stats with an intensity that would suggest I have a mental condition that could be controlled with some kind of medication. This is actually sort funny because there really aren't all that many numbers to crunch when you write a blog that attracts 50-150 hits per day.

Apparently, there still a lot of people who come to this site looking for pictures of Shahara Simmons, who was the girlfriend of LA Clippers star Elton Brand. She may actually be his wife now. Besides my first and last names, "Shahara Simmons" is the most popular search term that drives traffic here. That's a shame, because I know almost nothing about her and there's really only one mention of her in the comments section of an old post.

Several months ago, the following message was left in the comments section by a relative of Shahara's:



While I know little about either of them, I do hope Elton and Shahara do prosper in life. I'm assuming there are no photos of Ms. Simmons online, and that's why people keep coming here looking for one. If anyone has any photos of Shahara Simmons, please send one and I'll post it. I just hate for people to leave here disappointed.

Perhaps my favorite thing about maintaining a blog is seeing where hits come from. Google Analytics has a map function that lays this out in brilliant detail. Since last July, this blog has seen hits from 66 countries including Cambodia, Romania, South Africa, Uruguay, Zambia, and Hungary. While many of these hits can be chalked up to the vast and random nature of the Internet, there are some regular foreign readers out there, and I think that's pretty cool. Sort of like having a set of international pen pals.

Even when the random hits come, that's kind of fun, too. Two months ago, I was looking at my Google Analytics map and saw a tiny orange dot in the middle of the North Atlantic. I clicked on it and found that I had gotten a hit from the Faroe Islands. I was fascinated because, despite the fact that I'm a huge map geek, I had never heard of the Faroe Islands. A few hours of research later, I learned the Faroes are an semi-independent set of islands about halfway between Iceland and Norway. They have their own language, their own flag, and a stunning green windswept landscape. I actually signed up to get their tourist brochure. One week later, it arrived in the mail. I'd actually like to go there one day. They've got a summer music festival that looks quite cool. (Note to Faroe Islands Tourism Board: fly me out there and I'd be happy to write a lovely piece about the event.)

This post has gone on much too long, but all I really wanted to do here is thank you, the small little band of people scattered across the world who visit here from time to time.

I'll most more baby pictures soon, I promise.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007


...for intellectually stimulating conversation in our home.

Me: Never in the history of Christianity or any other religion has anyone ever made reference to an angel wearing socks.

Julie: Did I say socks? I meant sacks.


Friday, June 08, 2007


While I hardly consider myself a Republican, I’ve spent the last few months rooting for Mitt Romney as he runs for president.

The first reason is perhaps the dumbest: he’s Mormon. You see, I’m Mormon, too, and it’s every minority or sub-group’s dream to put one of their own in the White House. Think of how excited the Greeks got when Dukakis was running 20 years ago. (Someone had to be excited about that, right?)

This instinct has its limits, however. I’m not so Mormon that I could bring myself to support Orrin Hatch during his no-hope presidential bid in 2000. Nor do I believe that Mormons are inherently good at running things. The state of Utah has been run by Mormons for 150 years, and its government spends most of its time trying to figure out if Satan loves illegal immigrants.

But Mitt does have a lot going for him. He was a successful businessman. He turned the Salt Lake City Olympics from a scandal-ridden joke to a successful and profitable event. He got elected governor in a Democratic state and actually enacted a universal health coverage plan. That’s not a bad resume, really. (Although not as good as Bill Richardson’s.)

And, yes, Mitt does have presidential hair.

But Mitt does have a few things going against him. First, he’s changed some crucial opinions a few times in his political career. As a result, conservatives think he’s a moderate dressing up as a right winger, and moderates think he’s a right winger pretending to be centrist. Not a good place to be.

But he’s got another big liability: he’s Mormon. Before the campaign, I naively thought this wouldn’t be much of an issue, but I’m clearly wrong.

Mormons haven’t always had the easiest time in America. For several decades, they were driven from city to city by angry mobs. It was actually legal to kill Mormons in the state of Missouri until 1976. In the 1970s, my dad was on an airplane when a woman discovered he was Mormon. She asked to see his horns.

But that’s ancient history, right? Nope. While I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced any discrimination because of my religion (except for that one time when my Jewish friend wouldn’t set me up with any of her friends because of my chaste lifestyle) there is apparently more than a little hostility to Mormons out there. Over the past few months the press has been filled with hateful and distorted information about Mormons coming from both the left and the right. I’m not going to bother linking to any of it, but when both Christopher Hitchens and Al Sharpton are ganging up on you, it’s not good news.

Mitt’s stiffest challenge may be in the south, where more than a few people labor under the misapprehension that Mormons eat their babies in secret temple rituals. Even in the nation as a whole, around 30 percent of people say they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon under any circumstance.

It’s a little disheartening, really. I thought we had gotten past all this nonsense when JFK got elected 47 years ago. “A Catholic in the White House!? So now the Pope gets to run our country?” Yet many people who would find the previous statement offensive or absurd have no problem openly admitting they wouldn’t vote for someone strictly because of their religion.

Of course, they shouldn’t vote for Mitt. Nobody should, in my opinion. I came to that sad conclusion after the May 15th Republican debate on Fox News. In that debate, Mitt said the US should double the size of our prison in Guantanamo. He also supports “enhanced interrogation” which is the new code word for “torture.” You can see his full comments here… (Mitt's campaign actually posted this on YouTube)

For a man as smart and savvy as Mitt not to understand that GITMO detentions undermine all that we stand for as a nation is simply unacceptable. He’ll say that the War on Terror ™ is a fight for our way of life. But if we destroy our way of life in the process, when what are we really fighting for? If he can't understand that, then he's really not fit to be president.

Oh Mitt, I once had such high hopes for you. The dream of a Mormon president will have to wait for another time, and for a more attractive candidate. President Donny Osmond, anyone?

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


...and the living is, indeed, easy.

While, technically, summer doesn't kick off for another three weeks or so, but we all know that Memorial Day is really the start of summer. And it was 172 degrees outside last week, so it seemed like a good time to take Nate and Will out to take a dip in the pool.
Will wasn't sure what to make of it at first.
But Nate dove in face first...
The sun was beating down hard during their first swim, so we subjected Nate and Will to that ritual of humiliation known as wearing hats.
That's Will in the blue hat, and Nate in the white, for those of you keeping score at home. Will can be seen demonstrating his new tongue-wagging skills. Nate doesn't do this, but he has more teeth, so he needs to be more careful with his tongue. Nate spent most of his pool time playing with toys.
And Will did his best impression of a golden retriever.
They didn't spend too much time in the water, but they did stay in long enough to snap a few more so-outrageously-cute-they-make-your-ovaries-explode (even if you're a guy) pictures. So until next time, our babies bit you goodbye from the tropical paradise that is southern Oregon.

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Monday, June 04, 2007


I know it has been much too much time since last I posted here. I've been out of town and working and the dog ate my homework and my computer still kinda sucks and I can't think up any more excuses now, but I will. I offer this post tonight, and there will be more baby pictures soon.

About ten years ago, I received improv training from the famed Groundlings troupe in Los Angeles. And when I say, "received training" I really mean "paid them a bundle of cash for 12 classes." So anyway, in my improv classes I learned that you must never deny your scene partner. For instance, if you're in a scene and someone says you're in a gas station, you can't say, "No, we're not in a gas station, we're at McDonalds."

But sometimes you have to do the exactly the opposite of what your scene partner says. If someone says, "don't you dare pick up that gun," you'd better pick up the gun. It's just one of the rules of the game.

With that in mind, you can imagine my dismay when I read the headline, Gates Warns Turkey Not to Invade Iraq. First off, we've already invaded Iraq, so it seems selfish to deny another country the sort of fun we've been having over the past four years. But most importantly, I fear that Turkey may feel like they're in an improv scene with American as its partner.

For the past few years, countries seem to enjoy doing the opposite of what we tell them. We once told Iran to reject extremism, so they elect the guy in the jacket whose name I can't pronounce. I think we also warned them not to start a nuclear program, too. We're also fond of telling Latin American countries to stop producing drugs, but they still do.

So I'm unhappy about Gates' advice to Turkey because I'd like to take a vacation to Istanbul next year, but Julie has expressly forbidden me from planning any trips to any countries currently at war (America excepted). But now that Turkey has been told not to invade Iraq, their tanks are probably pulling into Kurdistan as you read this.

It seems to me that the US should simply accept the fact that the world sees us as its improv partner (it sounds nicer than saying that they all hate us) and use a little reverse psychology. If we told Turkey that it would make America happy if they invaded Iraq, you know they wouldn't do it. It's just like when your parents start listening to your CDs and like them. Somehow your music just doesn't feel as cool. If we invited Turkey to join the Coalition of the Willing (TM) I bet they'd disband their entire army.

And as an American, and an ugly one at that, I'd like to make a personal plea: embrace extremism, be mean to your tourists, and whatever you do, don't not pick up that gun.

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