Sunday, September 27, 2009


On Monday our whole neighborhood was turned upside down by a raging grass fire that threatened our hood and cut a 100 acre swath before it was quelled. Christy called me at noon, and told me to come home quickly because a brush fire was burning towards our house. I jumped in the car and took this picture from I-5 South. Our house is situated just to the right of this mushroom cloud.

By the time I got off the freeway they had closed off our road and blocked all access. I had to sneak into our neighborhood through some back roads (which is not easy in the dotcom mobile). It was utter madness - people were leaving cars in the road and standing on their roofs spraying water. Fire trucks and fire crews were zooming by, and helicopters and planes were dropping water and fire retardant on the blaze up the hill. There was a horse in my yard, and a very nice woman apologizing that her farm was burning and she had no where to go until her husband pulled up the horse trailer. I went in to the house and Christy was already packing valuables into bags. We laughed about how unimportant our possessions seemed to be at that moment. I packed a bunch of meaningless electronics, and my standup bass into the car. She grabbed the really important stuff - pictures and tax documents - and we drove away to get Juliet (Hank was already at Grammy's house). My daughter's school is at the base of the hill and as we arrived the kids were being loaded into buses with the full effect of the fire cloud straight above them. It was a bizarre scene. Here's some video shot at the source of the fire by our local newspaper.

We hung around town in a hotel nervously awaiting news. Luckily the fire crews were able to contain it by early evening. They applied an amazing amount of force to it in a very short time. One rental house at the top of hill burned to the ground, but mostly it damaged farm land. Support your local fire fighters! This was a great lesson for us - it's important to have an emergency plan for when a fire occurs. Our neighborhood is very lucky, a slight shift of the wind and it would have been a horrible disaster.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Fine Weekend of Watching Football and Making Stuffed Animals

I didn't just honor diversity this weekend, I celebrated it. I ran the gamut from watching 4 different football games*, to a prolific session with the sewing machine on Sunday where I kicked out 3 stuffed animals. I know. You're like, "Wakka Wakka What?" That's right people, I know how to sew. My momma taught me at young age. What about it!?! When the zombie apocalypse finally comes, I will be ready with a bolt of fabric and a few choice buttons. We'll see who is laughing then...

Juliet and I have been talking lately about how cool it would be to make our own versions of "Ugly Dolls". So today we picked up fleece at Wal-Mart and went to work. Hank received the first effort, a stripey dude that he named "Germy McNugget". Then Juliet designed and sewed a character named "Cloudor", which comes with a brilliant brown sock as an accessory. Finally, I made a one-eyed monster that Christy warned me looked like something that could spawn human life - at that point it was clear that quittin' time was upon us. Overall, I think they came out really well. Better than my Seahawks...

*Oregon v. Utah (Ducks Win!), Florida tells Tennessee and the Kiffin's to pipe down. My Seahawks get the beatdown from the surprising 49ers and are doomed with another year of loss and injury. Lastly, the Giants beat the Cowboys and no one hit Double J's low hanging TV set. Special bonus - YewDub downs SC this weekend! Highly satisfying.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Santa's Got a Brand New Sleigh

Check out this polar concept vehicle from French designer Matthieu Tarrit. This is the coolest snow-caterpillar that I've ever seen. It's a mobile research lab that he designed with input from polar scientists. Forget science! Santa should start the R&D investment now, so that all the Q4 toys can be delivered in style. C'est magnifique!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Plants vs. Zombies

If you enjoy a little casual gaming now and then, you must play Plants vs. Zombies! It's a new take on the old "tower defense" games where you have to protect your house from an onslaught of clever zombies using a variety of weapons. In this case, plants. The game play is incredibly addictive and the graphics are hilarious. There's a very nice interplay between the cuteness of the plants and the ghoulish zombies. Extra Bonus: I read recently that game director George Fan was influenced by Tapper, a classic arcade game from my high school years.

Plants vs. Zombies is published by PopCap games. You can download a trial version, but I recommend the full version which you can purchase for $9.99 via Steam. BRAINS!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Storage Units: A Uniquely American Malaise

I read an interesting article recently in the NY Times about storage units. Those little garages say a lot about how Americans over value their possessions. It's also a great indicator that our consumerism has an interesting waste cycle (half life) of its own. Perhaps these cardboard boxes and plastic tubs of misc goods make us feel more permanent on this earth, or give us a sense of our own history.

I'm guilty too. We've owned a storage unit for the last 5 years. It's like a convenient ball and chain. You must believe me when I say, "We've got valuable stuff in there!" But I'm sure that beyond a few nice pieces, it's just psychological baggage. It's weird how we define ourselves based on our "stuff". Please take a gander at this article... It says a lot about our culture, and I found myself nodding my head throughout the text.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tiny Minds, Tiny Worlds

One of the things I enjoy the most about being a Dad is watching my kids create things. Whether it's drawing, clay, cooking, or just storytelling - I always enjoy seeing the product of their minds. This is most true when my kids play with the greatest toy of all time - Legos! The tiny bricks just had their umpteenth toy revival at our house this weekend. I love the strange coupling of objects, the total disregard for order or utility, and the randomness of the characters.