Sunday, September 30, 2007


The final stop on the week long parade of guests is Dad. He had some frequent flier points to burn, and he decided to use them to fly to one of America's most expensive airports. (The flight from Medford to Portland was once the most expensive flight--per mile--in the US.)

We were happy to see him here, and Nate and Will enjoyed themselves too. But getting a good photo of the trio wasn't the easiest thing. But we did pull two acceptable photos from the session.Here we have Dad flashing a winning smile, Will looking anxious, and Nate appears to be recovering from a good cry. So let's snap the shutter again and we get...Will flashing a winning (if blurry) smile, Nate looking anxious (but cute), and Dad looking like he's recovering from a good cry. It all kind of works out.

But now he visiting season is over. We do appreciate all the guests who showed up on our doorstep this week. In 8 days, we entertained more people here than we did in an entire year in Texarkana.

Where I come from, we call that progress.

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Friday, September 28, 2007


This weekend the Faroes are all abuzz over the impending arrival of former President Bill Clinton. He's speaking at the Nordic House. I'm not exactly sure what that is, but it has s turn roof, so there's obviously something pretty cool about it. Clinton will be speaking with Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector. Don't really know what they'll be talking about.

As it turns out, information about his event is a bit hard to come by (in English, at least). Most of what I know comes from self-styled citizen journalist Faroe Man. He's blogging in English on the event. Here's what I've been able to gather from his reports:

The largest room in Nordic House holds about 380 people, but organizers had trouble selling tickets. Perhaps the biggest problem was the price: somewhere around $850 USD. While that's no big deal in Los Angeles, when the total population of the country you're speaking in is just shy of 50,000, it might be hard to find 380 people to cough up that kind of dough. However, the event has now sold out.

Despite the lack of media attention right now, the international press has descended upon the Faroe Islands. BBC World, Sky News, AFP, and the AP are all there. I was a little worried about this, because reporters can be pretty objectionable. But I remember working next to the guys from BBC at an Arnold Schwarzenegger press conference in LA, and they were pretty cool. Hopefully those guys will come to the Faroes. Other than that, allow me to apologize in advance for my fellow journalists. They really have no idea they're so obnoxious.

Villages along the route of Clinton's travel are sprucing up in advance of the visit.

The speech is this Monday.

That's all I know.


Thursday, September 27, 2007


The Parade of Guests (TM) here has cut into my writing time, but I thought I should try to share something this week that isn't about babies or the Faroe Islands.

So tonight a few snapshots of my trip to the Oregon coast last Saturday. We actually didn't take all that many snapshots, but Thomas did manage to take a picture of me in a redwood forest that makes me look as if I am on antidepressants and on the set of Lord of the Rings.

And a picture of me curled up in the root system of a fallen tree.
But the real highlight of the trip came as we passed through the coastal town of Brookings. Many small towns are not exactly known for being accepting of people who have made "alternative" lifestyle choices. But in Brookings, there is someone who is not only open about his lifestyle, but is even bold enough to portray it in superhero style.You go, Tranny Man!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


It was a quick turnaround, but it was good to have her here anyway. My sister spent less than 18 hours here, but she did get in some quality time with her nephews.If you notice a special glow about her, that's because she's about 2 months pregnant. She's trying to make a kid as cute as ours. It won't work.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


As I ready more about the Faroe Islands, I'm struck by how many abandoned villages there are, and how many ways they get wiped out. Some get nailed by a rock slide. Others come down with a touch of the Black Death. One village had to be abandoned when a boat wreck killed all of the male inhabitants.

But many smaller Faroese villages are clearing out as people abandon the hardscrabble farming and fishing lifestyles for the big city. (In this case, the "big city" is Tórshavn, a town with a population somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people.)

One such place is Gásadalur. This village is home to about a dozen people, but is in danger of depopulating. Until a few years ago, Gásadalur was completely isolated from the rest of the islands. Anyone going to or from the village would have to hike over a mountain, or by boat in a very small harbor.

Now a tunnel connects the village to the rest of the island's road network, and that's making it easier for people to leave.

It seems like there are a lot of places like this in the Faroes, small villages with just a small handful of residents. In the next 20 years, perhaps they'll be abandoned. I hope I get to see them before that happens.

More photos of Gásadalur can be found here. It's really quite a beautiful place.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This week a friend told me about a calendar coming out this year that features hunky Mormon missionaries. Well, not exactly hunky Mormon missionaries, they're not allowed to pose topless for calendars... or anything, really. Instead, it features hunky Mormons who were recently missionaries. One shot shows the RM (that's Mormon code for "returned missionary") dressed in a short sleeve white shirt and tie. In the next picture, that same guy is a buff, well oiled piece of man-meat.

Many years ago, I was a Mormon missionary in San Diego. Back then, I was told that Playgirl published a survey that found Mormon missionaries were the Second Sexiest Men In America. We lost the top spot to firefighters, but second place isn't all that bad when you consider the competition. Indeed, I did notice women paid much more attention to me once I put on the white shirt, tie, and black tag. (This was especially true in grocery stores, where that outfit could also mean you were a store manager.)

But aside from my anecdotal evidence, it appears the Men in White really are viewed as sex objects in certain circles. The folks that brought you South Park once made a movie where a Mormon missionary was recruited into becoming a (chaste) porn star. And gay cinema recently brought us "Latter Days" where some guy falls in love with a member of God's Army.

All this romantic longing despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that missionaries are only allowed contact with members of the opposite sex via handshake... and even that shouldn't last more than 3 seconds.

But getting back to this calender. The article says the topless guys got paid $500 to pose. Anyone who knows me knows I love $500, but I'm a bit past the age they're looking for in this project. But if they ever put out a "history's hottest" edition of the missionary calender, allow me to submit this gem featuring three newly returned missionaries... totally topless!

You can make out the $500 check to Matthew Workman. Nobody really cares about those other two guys.


Monday, September 17, 2007


Julie is leaving town for a short business trip today, so this week we're posting a series of pictures taken over the last few weeks. As she's sitting in some business hotel or meeting space, she can come here and enjoy a few memories of home. First up is a picture of me and Nate at a recent pool party.
I good time was had by all, including Will, who was sporting something of a pompadour at the time. No review of the past month would be complete without a little memory of Julie's birthday. Here she is cuddling up with the two little guys after a celebration of the blessed event.Julie has been very fond of putting Nate and Will in the same crib just after they wake up from their naps. They generally do something cute when that happens.The hour is getting late, an it's time to go to bed. So we'll give you one last kiss from Nate.And a wave goodbye from Will...And wishes for your safe return. We love you, Julie.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007


This week's bit of Faroe Islands trivia comes via that Icelandic pixie, Bjork.

On her new album Volta, she's got an song called "Declare Independence." During her tour dates, Bjork has been dedicating the song to Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Iceland got it's independence from Denmark in 1918, but Greenland and the Faroes still have formal links to the old imperial power.

Without getting too far into it, there appear to be quite a few thorny issues around the Faroes declaring independence from Denmark. Opinion polls have the country split 50-50. But perhaps independence proponents will enjoy what statisticians call the "Bjork bump." We'll see.

This week's Faroe photo is from the village of Haldarsvík. The village has a unique octagonal church and a beef with the powers that be in Torshavn. Villagers claim their town is called Haldorsvik or simply Vik. They've altered street signs to reflect the different spelling. Map makers in the capitol have yet to take notice.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9/11 +6, TAKE 2

UPDATE: The video described in this post can now be found here.

All my snarky attempts at ironic Gen-X detachment this September 11th did me no good whatsoever.

I realized this while putting together a story at work today. I was out covering the annual September 11th commemoration in Medford. Each year, about a hundred firefighters put on full gear (which weighs about 50 pounds) and climb the stairs at Rogue Valley Manor, the tallest building in Medford (I think).

Once at the top, the firefighters hold a short memorial service, have a moment of silence, and head back downstairs for a barbecue. I covered the story last September 11th, so there weren’t any surprises, but I still found the ceremony a moving tribute to the firefighters who died in the Twin Towers six years ago.

Where things broke down was in the edit bay. I was looking over footage of the firefighters huddled together during their moment of silence. They were kneeling together with their heads bowed, then a bagpipe began playing “Amazing Grace.” When the music started, the firefighters stood up and began walking in various directions.

When I taped this moment (reporters shoot their own stories in small markets), I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was more worried about proper framing and holding my shot steady. But watching the footage in the edit bay, I noticed the pained expressions on the firefighter’s faces as they walked away. The last one to walk out of the frame was a large man, about 6’ 3”, 230 pounds. He was carrying an axe. (The video is online and can be seen here.)

I don’t know what it was about that image, but it moved me. In truth, I have no idea what that firefighter was thinking or feeling as I shot that video. But as I watched the footage of him walking away, it occurred to me that this guy devotes a large portion of his life to helping other people. If I was in a burning building, he’d be the kind of person who would run inside to try and save me.

Then it occurred to me that someone killed hundreds of people like that one terrible day six years ago. And the horror of that moment, the helpless feeling I had watching the whole thing unfold from a Prague hotel room, it all came flooding back. I closed the edit bay door and put my head in my hands and sorrowed over the wretchedness of humanity.

It’s six years later, and there’s still no “why.” And there’s still no healing. And I just want it to be over… to move on. But it’s still there, and it’s not going away any time soon. And all my pithy comments won’t change a thing.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 +6

I doubt I’ll write about September 11th again. Six years on, everything that can be said on the subject has already been said. (Except for, “I’m sorry for using 9/11 as an excuse for an unjustified war against Iraq.” But that’s really hoping for too much.) I know I pretty much wrote my share last year.

And with the passage of time, the day is slowly losing its impact. On September 11th, 2002, I wrote a pained editorial for The Daily Sundial asking, “When will we laugh again on this tragic date?” Twelve hours later, David Letterman answered that question by doing a short tribute to the Twin Towers, then launching into a Top Ten list that skewered New York City. September 11th has been much less somber since, and I’d say that’s a good thing.

While the September 11th anniversary will likely top our local and national news coverage, I’m not aware of any major prime time tributes this year. In another six years, there will be junior high school students who weren’t even born when the 9/11 attacks happened. To them, 9/11 will be like Pearl Harbor Day: a date that was to live in infamy forever, but is really only talked about by old people.

If you want to know how much things have changed, look no farther than the latest Osama bin Laden tape. They used to have the power to send oil prices through the roof, but this latest one almost seems a little silly. In it, bin Laden didn’t threaten the U.S. with any more attacks, but he did urge all Americans to convert to Islam.

It appears Osama has learned that a decades long campaign of murder and terror hasn’t earned him many converts here in the states. So it’s time to soften the message. I know a little something about all this, as I was once a Mormon missionary and spent two years trying to convince people to convert to my religion.

Our early attempts at terror-based conversion had limited results.(You have a lot of questions about this picture, but I don’t have time to answer them. Suffice it to say that everything in the above image would make sense if you had all the background.)

But then we softened our message a little bit, ran some very touching TV ads, and things went a lot better. For instance, instead of putting threatening videos on TV, might I suggest bin Laden produce a 30 second spot that goes a little like this:

“Sure, you know about Christ’s ministry in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, but did you know about another book that mentions Jesus: the Koran! Call this toll free number now and we’ll sent you your very own copy of the Koran free of charge. If you’d like, two nice, non-threatening young men can come by your home and tell you more about the Koran.”

Laugh if you want but there’s an urban legend floating around that bin Laden was spotted in Utah. Can it be much longer before his minions start going door-to-door?

“Hello, I’m Elder bin Laden, and this is Elder Atta. We’re representatives of… well, that’s not all that important. We’re going around your neighborhood sharing a brief message about…”

I don’t know what happens next because that’s generally when people shut the door. But this new era of proselytizing by al-Qaeda could lead to a promising new era where extremists are merely annoying instead of deadly. An if that happens, perhaps we don't have to devote much time to commemorating 9/11 in the future.

And if they need any ill-fitting white shirts, I’ve got plenty in a box somewhere.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007


So over the past few weeks, Will (left) and Nate (right) have occupied themselves with looking cute.Looking extremely cute.And looking so cute that their parents just have to squeal with delight. (It's really quite undignified.)And sometimes flashing their famous toothy grins.But they also do something other than smile with those teeth: they chew on anything in sight.Yes, these boys have turned out to be half-rodent, and must spend a large portion of the day wearing down their mighty incisors. As you can see, they're quite happy to gnaw on wood. They'll also use ribbon.But their favorite thing to chew on these days is their blankets.Here we see Will giving his blanket a good thrashing. This makes little sense to me, as biting and sucking a blanket makes it soggy, thus reducing it's value of an insulator. But Nate doesn't seem to care, either as he chews on his sock monkey.And all this chewing and drooling has one obvious conclusion. That's right, once again our little photo session is cut short by one unnamed baby boy (Will) who believes a SLR camera can be just as cuddly as a blanket.Oh Will, what will we do with you?

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Friday, September 07, 2007


I was recently enjoying a post from Faroe Man on his blog where he detailed a road trip he took to the island of Sandoy. On this island is a very large mailbox. According to Mr. Faroe, the box was constructed specifically to break a world record, and it may have succeeded for a time. But somewhere out there, some other batch of mailbox builders outdid them.

That made me wonder just who these people were that stole the Faroe's mailbox thunder? I tried an appeal to the Guinness Book of World Records. But they don't have a mailbox record listed online, so I had to appeal to the Internet.

A little snooping around Google produced three other mailboxes that claim to be the world's largest. No mention of the Faroese box, by the way.

The first one can be found in Greenland, specifically the capitol city of Nuuk. According to some website, all the mail sent to "Santa Claus, North Pole, Greenland" finds its way to this mailbox.

Contender number two comes from Canada, and Santa Claus is also a factor. Some mall in Vancouver has what it claims is the world's largest mailbox. They claim Guinness backs them up, but I have no way of knowing if that's actually true. Apparently you use this one to send Santa a letter. While it's not unreasonable to think that, perhaps, your letter would one day wind up in the Greenland mailbox, that appears not to be the case. Santa's Canada address is "Mr. and Mrs. S. Claus, North Pole, HOH OHO"

It occurs to me that Santa may be caught up in the North Pole gold rush that's currently on. Russia, Canada, and Denmark (which runs Greenland... sort of) all are claiming the North Pole is theirs. In stands to reason that, somwhere in Russia, there is a giant mailbox with some connection to Santa as well.

I intend to get to the bottom this. Before Christmas comes, I will sent two letters, one to Canada Santa, and another to Greenland Santa asking them to explain themselves. I will use my skills as a trained journalist to shine the light of truth onto this dark landscape.

But I digress.

There is one more mailbox I found that claims to be the world's largest. This one is in a small town in the south of Thailand. As of yet, I can find no connection between this box and Santa Claus, but I'm sure there's something there.

While there is no clear cut winner in the mailbox derby (measurements are hard to come by), I'm going to go ahead and declare the Faroe Island mailbox the winner. Yes, they don't even claim to be the world's biggest anymore, but I think that humility should be rewarded. So there.


Thursday, September 06, 2007


(Sadly, the headline "Craig's Lust" was already taken by Slate.)

So what to make of Idaho Senator Larry Craig? The man was busted in a Minnesota bathroom for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer, pleads guilty to a lesser offence, then decides to resign his seat. Now he says he's changed his mind and will stay in the Senate and fight to clear his good name.
The politics of all this is pretty astounding. Rumor has it the Republican establishment in Washington leaned on Craig pretty hard to get him to resign. President Bush even called him up after he announced his resignation to tell him he "did the right thing." Now all that has been thrown in to question. Democratic strategists are likely peeing themselves with joy right now.

The law enforcement angle is also rather curious. Are our airports so secure that we can spare personnel to protect the bathrooms from gay people? Just a thought.

But the most fascinating (an nasty) part of this story for most people likely lies in the lurid details of Craig's attempted bathroom tryst. The police report details all the steps Craig allegedly went through to communicate to the officer in the next stall that he was in the mood for luv. They involve a series of foot taps and sticking of hands under the stall divider. (I'm told these are also the steps required to get George Michael's autoraph, but I digress.)

Believe it or not, I was actually somewhat familiar with those signals before this story broke. Back in 1994, I basically read the whole instruction manual on a bathroom wall in a Wyoming rest area. It even gave the days and hours when such activity would likely occur. I knew I should have brought a magazine to read instead. Over the years, I've also heard a few other people make reference to these bathroom signals.

Now that these techniques are pretty much known in the general public, they're not very useful as secret signals. I imagine the first item on the agenda at the next gay meeting will be to come up with some new bathroom signals. (John says the gay meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at an old costume shop in West Hollywood.)

But the more I ponder this question, the more I reach two stunning conclusions: Larry Craig is innocent, and these bathroom signals are nothing more than an urban legend. Think about it. I got my info from a bathoom wall, and all other references came from straight people. Are these really reliable sources for this kind of information? It seems unlikely.

Let's not forget, the gay community was clever enough to trick us all into singing "YMCA" without us understanding the naughty subtext. Don't you think the gays would be clever enough to keep their best secrets from falling into the hands of a straight-laced Mormon?

It seems much more likely that both Larry Craig and the Minneapolis police officer were performing off a script that the Gay Underground cleverly laid out for them. They wrote instructions on thousands of bathroom walls, then sat back and giggled as closet cases played footsie with undercover cops.

Well played, gays. Well played.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007


The clock has passed midnight, and it is now officially my favorite day of the year, Julie's birthday. This is a day to celebrate all things Julie, but I want to back up the story to 1985, some 14 years before we met.

That year, I went to a Mormon youth retreat held in Ithaca, New York. At these events, you get to attend workshops that resemble college classes, and mingle with Mormon kids from across the northeast (there weren't many of us back then). One of the required classes was a "morality" session. I tended to roll my eyes at these classes because they were designed to keep kids from having sex and were pretty repetitive. Basically, it was "just say no." This was not a problem for me, as puberty was very unkind to me and there wasn't exactly a long line of women waiting to deflower me.

My point is that I tended to zone out for these things. But the instructor stood in front of the room and blew my mind.

"Who's the youngest person in the room? You? You're 16, right? So let's assume that the person you will one day marry is within 16 years of your age. That means your future has been born. She's a living, breathing, human being who walks the face of the earth today. And a major goal of the next decade of your life will be to figure out who that person is."

My first reaction was to feel guilty (a common Mormon response). I felt like I should have done something to commemorate the birth of "Pretend Mrs. Workman." Perhaps I should have sent a card.

But after the guilt wore off (12years), I was left with this fascination with this mythical woman whom I didn't know but was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. I found myself wondering where she lived, what she was doing, and if she ever thought about me. As it turns out, in 1985 she was living near Las Vegas, picking up academic awards like they were going out of style, and probably not thinking about me.

Our paths crossed many years later, and I detailed the story in last year's birthday post. But when I actually met the Mythical Mrs. Workman, she was actually cooler/smarter/more beautiful than I had imagined her. By that point in my life, I had earned a reputation for having an elaborate sense of imagination, but there's no way I could have dreamed up anyone quite as wonderful as Julie.

And now that we're celebrating her birthday for the 8th time together (I missed her birthday in 1999 when I went to Burning Man, but we had just barely met) Julie continues to be the woman of my dreams... but better.

This past year I've been taken by what an outstanding mother she is. Sometimes I'll just sit in the living room and watch Nate and Will watch Julie with adoring eyes. It comforts me to see my two little guys understand something very important: their mom is incredible.

So we'll try to celebrate that incredible-ness (is that a word?) today. But no volume of cake or presents or singing will ever be able to meaningfully convey just how much you mean to me.

Happy birthday, Julie. I love you.


Sunday, September 02, 2007


Julie and I keep a clean house, really we do. Here's a typical image of our living room.
Yes, there are many toys around, but it's all fairly neat and organized. But then......the boys are unleashed on the room, and things change very quickly. Now you may think hat the mess that happens in this room is a product of the process of children playing with toys and discarding them. The typical wear and tear that comes with kids. If you think that, you'd be wrong. Our mess is part of a deliberate campaign of chaos launched by Nate and Will. Nate gets the work of destruction started by knocking over a set of very carefully stacked blocks. (Yeah, that's kind of entrapment.) Then Will heads to the fireplace to start scattering children's books.Nate moves on to the play wall to remove these little rattle things.And before you know it, will is actually eating books.With no children's books left to scatter/eat, Nate heads to the bookshelf to start hurling my books.Soon, it's absolute anarchy in the living room...But after trashing everything else in the room, Will has an idea...There's one thing that hasn't been grabbed/chewed/flung...Yes, there's a shiny digital camera that could really use a liberal dose of baby drool...Will, stop it... Will...

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