Thursday, July 28, 2005


I am leaving for my Appalachian Trail hike shortly. I won't be blogging until I get back unless at one of the off trail nights there happens to be internet access. If I find a way into the cyber world, I'll let you know what's happening.

Ask Matt: Question Two

The second Ask Matt question is:

Given a dispute between labor and management, without knowing any details, whose side would you tend to be on, and why?

I suppose the easy way out of this question is to say, I wouldn't be on either side until I knew all the facts, but that's a cop out. So I'll just admit it. I am a management guy. I think the reason is that I identify with management more closely than labor. I am a Leo - we like being in charge. My personal management style is to lead by building consensus so I like to think I am not the dictatorial type. However, there are times when you need someone in charge to make the hard decision. I have the personality that willingly seeks out that job.

Now if we got into specifics about the common disagreements between labor and management, you'll probably find me acquiescing to labor's side. I don't believe in the exploitation of workers to make the company profitable. You make the company profitable by making it a place where workers want to work. They'll be more loyal, do better work, and everyone will benefit.

So there ya go. Not so much with the funny in this response, but what can you do.

I'll answer any question you can think of! Send your question to I am heading out of town for a week, so I expect to have a whole email box full of questions when I get back!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Latoyia Figueroa

Please consider donating to a fund to be used to find Latoyia Figueroa, a 24-year-old pregnant mother of one who has been missing since July 18. Here's a picture of Latoyia:

The interesting part of this story is the missing person case was being ignored by the major news media until Philadelphia blogger Richard Blair got CNN and MSNBC to cover it. (MSNBC reported it on air, but doesn't appear to have a story on their website.) Why was Natalee Holloway's disappearance covered immediately and Latoyia's ignored for nine days?

Stupid question, really.

Rock Star INXS

Rock Star INXS was full of bad performances last night.

Ty, on the other hand, rose to the top of my list with an amazing performance of Everybody Hurts by REM.

JD hurt his chances by showing his lack of range on We Are the Champions. Plus, he called his fellow competitors "Champions", a blatant attempt to fix things after last week's foot in mouth moment. From the looks on his fellow rockers' faces, it fell completely flat.

Daphna wore the stupidest dress ever. That's a prom dress, not something a rock star would wear on stage!

And she murdered The Clash's Rock the Casbah.

For the first time I was impressed with Marty, who sing Nirvana's Lithium.

Bottom three will probably be:

Brandon, who showed he has no range at all; Heather, who was sick and failed to rise above it; and Daphna, who probably deserves to go.

EDITED after the results show to add:

WOW! Clearly INXS is in total control of this process. Tonight Heather, Daphna and Jessica were in the bottom three. As usual, each sang an INXS in an attempt to save themselves. I thought all three did really well. However, in a shocking move, INXS decided to eliminate both Daphna and Heather! Isn't this show supposed to run for a certain number of episodes? How can they kick off two contestants in one week and stay on schedule? It was a great shocker and everyone was completely dumbfounded, even co-host Dave Navarro, who seemed to be on the verge of tears at the thought of losing his chance to boink the two hot rockers. Okay, just kidding. They sure are keeping the drama moving on this show. Of the three, Heather is the one I will miss the most. Here's one last shot of her:

Hopefully we'll see her again someday. She's supremely talented.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mr. F***ing Mom?

Okay, this annoys the hell out of me. A reality show from NBC called Meet Mister Mom premieres on August 2. I know NBC is desperate since they fell to fourth in the ratings, but talk about a show that is 20 years too late. It was kind of funny when Michael Keaton did it in the 80s, but these days Dads find it offensive to be called a "Mr. Mom". We're Dads and we're perfectly capable of handling ourselves in the home. We're the rule. That Mr. Mom stereotype that's going to exploited on this brain drain of a television show is the exception to the rule. Dads have come a long way, baby. I'm sending an email.

Well, I was going to send an email, but apparently NBC doesn't care enough about its viewers' opinions to make it easy to offer comments. There's a drop down menu for NBC's shows, but Meet Mister Mom isn't on the list. There's also a link that says "Want to offer opinions about NBC shows?" If you click on that, NBC snookers you into joining a viewer's panel, the first step of which is to fill out a long survey which asks personal information and how often you watch particular shows. I was hoping after the survey was complete, I'd then be invited to offer an opinion. Nope. Bascially, they used my desire to comment about one of their shows as a way to get me to fill out a marketing survey for them. Bastards.

I did email my local affiliate, but it's not like they're going to be able to do anything.

Edited to add that Rebel Dad is all over this show too.

Photoblog and others Iowa blogs

I found this photoblog while looking for Iowa bloggers. There are some really beautiful shots at Emillerphoto. Check it out.

Also found an Iowan with a blog called The Other Side. She's a UI graduate.

And here's one called The Dark Mirror. His description:

Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going in this Handbasket? The inner musing and thoughts of a Black American male. Be forewarned, it's not always pretty with cute puppies, flowers and bright sunny blue skies. Promoting better living through comedy.

And here's one called Babies are Fireproof which claims to be the unofficial backroom of the Iowa mafia. Please. My name's Falduto - a real Iowa mafia would include this Italian.

How about the Kitty Voice by Dawn Frary? Does Denny have a daughter?

I may edit in some more as my search continues.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Training - Last time

On Saturday, I hiked for around 3 or 4 hours (seemed longer, but Sharon insists it was only three hours). It was scorchingly hot. Since I knew I had more time than my usual midweek hikes, I decided to take a different trail in addition to what I normally do. This was a smart move. I found a little cove with a sandy beach area that was completely deserted. I decided that after my hike was over, I'd return to this place and enjoy a swim.

I had added weight to my pack for this final day of training and I felt it. Modern day backpacks use a belt like contraption to place the weight of the pack onto your hips instead of your back. As a thin person, those two bones right at my hips (probably the upper part of the pelvis, although I don't know for sure) are not covered with a spongy layer of fat. So with enough weight and enough time spent hiking, that area gets raw and uncomfortable. I usually throw a towel in between my hip and the pack when hiking, but I didn't expect to need it while training. Ouch! In fact, as I feel that area today, it's still tender. I hiked a lot more than usual and overall I felt good. I did get a blister on my heel and have realized I need new socks for this year. The blister is healing quickly and should be gone by Saturday so I am not worried about that.

After the hike was over, I did get back to my little cove and enjoyed a dip in the Coralville Resovoir. I only wish I had discovered it earlier in my training!

What's your humor style?

I found this interesting. And it is right about my sense of humor.

the Wit
(65% dark, 21% spontaneous, 27% vulgar)
your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean you're pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that 'the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat. I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer. Your sense of humor takes the most effort to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

Also, you probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm
talking about, check it out here:

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

Friday, July 22, 2005

My daughter, the jock

I have no idea how this happened. To put it mildly, Sharon is no jock. I, well, have some small skill in a few things here and there. But no one in their right mind would ever, ever call me a jock.

Rachel is a jock.

Okay, sure, she's only four-years-old. Who can tell where she's heading on the road of life, right? Well, all I can say is she's taken every jock exit on that road so far. She's always been an extremely physical child. She learned all the physical stuff first. She climbed, jumped, swung, really early. For two cerebral parents like Sharon and me, this was suprising, even a little disconcerting. Last summer, I noticed that she really liked to play with her soccer ball and was actually pretty good at kicking it for a three-year-old. We figured why not? Let's sign her up for Tiny Tot soccer and see what happens.

Year One was interesting. There was a kid on the team named, I kid you not, Sigfus. His parents were European, called the game football, and had clearly trained young Sigfus from an early age to kick and kick hard. We won lots of games. Rachel had fun chasing after the ball and kicked it a few times, but she also enjoyed picking flowers for her coach in the middle of the game. It was an enjoyable enough experience that we decided to sign her up again this year.

Year Two, she's one of the biggest kids on the team. She gets it. She follows that ball like there's no other more important object in the world. And she's always willing to keep playing. On this team, a lot of the kids lose interest and the Coach has a hard time keeping a team of five on the field. Rachel played more than any other kid at yesterday's game. (And what's more, the truth is, the girls carry the team. Rachel, Adelaide, and Cora play hard. The boys are pretty wishy-washy about the whole thing.) Rachel was always willing to get in the game if her teammates had decided playing in the sandbox was more fun. What's more, she scored a goal! Scoring a goal is a rare thing in these games because even if the kids can get the ball down there, they still have to be able to kick it into the net. We're talking four-year-olds, remember. Rachel took the ball, dribbled it down the field just like we'd practiced, and kicked it right in the net! I don't remember ever being so proud of my little girl. Isn't that strange that I, who has never been a sports guy, should find so much in her scoring that goal to be proud of?

My daughter, the jock. I guess I better get used to it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Training Report and some pictures...

Last night, I hiked for about an hour in my regular stomping grounds. It was so damn hot my shirt was drenched with sweat when I returned. I had to stop Rachel from hugging me when I came in the door lest she be covered with Daddy sweat. I noticed after the hike that I am starting to get a blister on my left heel. Fortunately, this morning it appears to have already almost disappeared. With the rain today, I wasn't planning on training anyway, and that'll give me time for it to heal fully. Saturday I hope to spend an extended time hiking to give me a better feel of what I'll be doing on the AT.

I added up all the miles I've done in training so far and I think I'm at about thirty. Add in Saturday's work out and hopefully I'll hit 40 miles. It's still nowhere near enough but it's all I've had time for. Of course, I've found that hiking of that type is more mental toughness than physical toughness. Sure, you need to be physically prepared, but it's your mind that keeps you going. My mind is feeling pretty tough after the insanity that I've dealt with this year.

Here's an example of a person losing his mind on the trail:

Heh. Not really. That's my brother. He was being silly after a long hike through the rain.

Here's a picture of my brothers at the top of Siler Bald:

And a picture of me crossing a bridge in North Carolina:

This last picture is one of my favorites. That's my sister and brother hiking a part of the trail in North Carolina. So green and lush.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Fives Meme

Found this on a friend's Livejournal. And I was a little bored.

What I was doing 10 years ago:
In July of 1995, I was teaching a reading comprehension course to all different ages - kintergarden to adult. I was also looking forward to returning to Iowa City and moving into the little apartment Sharon and I rented on River Street. It was tiny. We didn't have a kitchen - we had a wall with a couple of appliances. Marriage was a little over a year away and Dreamwell was a little under two years away.

Five years ago:
In July 2000, I was into Survivor and heavily involved in the message boards. Little did I know what a huge impact that TV show would have on my life. I was also directing or had just finished directing the Hobbit. Finally, and most importantly, Sharon and I were anticipating Rachel's upcoming birth in November.

One year ago:
In July 2004, I was looking forward to my third Appalachian Trail hike. I was also worried about my dad who appeared to be having some health problems. Fortunately, everything turned out okay there. And I think that's about when I became somewhat addicted to Texas Hold 'Em.


I played soccer with Rachel and Sami. I chaired a Dreamwell board meeting. And I had a great conversation with a friend after that meeting. I also watched some TV.

Five snacks I enjoy:

BBQ potato chips, fresh chocolate chip cookies, Bottlecaps and that's really all I can think of.

Five songs I know all the words to:
Name a Billy Joel song. I probably know the words to it.

Five Things I would do with $100 million:
Get out of debt. Give Dreamwell the money it needs to make it. Build a new house with secret passages. Give money to friends and family.

Five locations I would like to run away to:

England, Italy, Egypt, Hawaii, a deserted tropical island

Five things I like doing:
Reading, writing, surfing the internet, hiking, playing with my kids

Five bad habits I have:

Not eating well, staying up too late, I am sure there are more but my mind is blank.

Five TV shows I like:

Lost, 24, Rock Star INXS, Survivor, Two and a Half Men

Five biggest joys of the moment:

Visiting Dreamwell's new space and soaking in the accomplishment, playing with Rachel, watching Sami learn new things, being happily married, the anticipation of hiking the AT again

Five favorite toys:

Rachel's soccer ball, the swingset in the backyard, and that's about it...

Good night, Scotty

James Doohan, Star Trek's Scotty, has passed away. *sigh*

He was my second favorite after Dr. McCoy, who of course has also died.

Beam us up, Scotty.

Rock Star INXS

I've been meaning to write about this show since it premiered last week. I am really enjoying it. I admit that I don't care who ends up the lead singer for INXS. It's just a lot of fun to watch a rock show every week with lots of different performers singing songs that I love. On American Idol, I often had no idea what song I was hearing. For this show, there's been one or two songs over two weeks that I didn't recognize. I guess I just like rock music more than pop. No real surprise there.

One of the interesting parts of the show is that the rockers have to work it out among themselves who gets which song from that week's list. This could get ugly as time goes on and the rockers are feeling more pressure.

My favorite at this point is JD.

He performed California Dreaming last week and Hand in my Pocket this week. For both songs, he wrote a new arrangement and transformed the music into something original and fantastic. Especially Pocket this week. I have never been a big fan of Alanis Morissette's version, but I'd listen to JD's any day.

However, JD also put his foot in his mouth after the singing was over. One of the members of INXS said that it seemed like JD more than anyone else has his eye on the prize. JD responded by dissing his fellow contestants, "While they’re learning the INXS songs, I know them because I love them." He said he didn't mean to diss them, but of course, that's exactly what he did. Not cool, JD. You should have taken the compliment and kept your mouth shut. I bet he has a hard time getting the song he wants next week.

Other rockers who have stood out included:

Heather, the long legged tattooed red head with an amazing voice. She grew up sleeping in a guitar case as the daughter of musicians. It's clearly her whole life;

and Ty of the mohawk and muscles who has an amazing voice and stage presence. Unfortunately, for Ty the band told him this week that he looked more like a solo act than a frontman for a band. I think Ty has a good chance of getting record deal no matter what happens. He's got a look and incredible talent.

And the moron of the week for this show was... Neal!

Last week, INXS told him to choose something more melodic. He chose Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams. Great song and it definitely has melodic potential. Unfortunately, moronic Neal shouted the entire song and gave no evidence that he understands the meaning of melodic. One of the INXS band members asked him if he felt like he'd done what they asked him to do. Neal's oblivious response:

"I thought so. I really rocked it, didn't I?"

Moron. Still, I don't really want him to get booted yet. I enjoyed his other performance.

The two worst performers this week:

Jessica, who butchered a Jimi Hendrix song, and Deanna, who didn't want to sing the REM song she got and it showed.

I wouldn't mind seeing either one of them go home.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Training once again

I don't have much to say about hiking in general today. Maybe I'll edit something in later. Yesterday, I hiked for a few hours and once again went up and down the hill to try to prepare my legs for the Appalachian Trail hike which is now less than two weeks away. Ack. I won't be able to hike today, so I'll have to be sure to do it tomorrow. I plan to hike for more than a couple hours on Saturday, too. During the week, I have to wait until Sharon gets home at 6:40 and that only leaves me a little more than 2 hours for hiking before it starts to get dark. I suppose I could get one of those headlight things. Nah.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Books vs. Movies

Harry Pottter and the Half Blood Prince is, of course, a huge success. But after reading this news story, this statistic kind of blew me away:

Even allowing for deep discounts on the $29.99 release, "Half-Blood Prince" still easily generated more than $100 million in revenue. It's not only the richest opening in publishing history, but tops the combined estimated take for the weekend's top two movies, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Wedding Crashers."

In today's visual society, when a book beats the movies, that says something. I wonder if there is a way to make this more than an isolated incident. How do we generate the same interest or even a tenth of the interest in other books? Are the Harry Potter novels that much better than all the other books out there? I just don't buy that. They're well written, sure, but not overwhelmingly so. I don't think it's appreciation for fine writing that is driving these sales. On the other hand, there's clearly something universal about the story and the characters that reaches a vast majority of the people on the planet. I guess I am just wondering if there will ever be another series of books that reaches the world the way this series has.

How does one tap into that universality and reach millions? Well, start by putting in themes that matter to everyone: Friendship, Heroism, Good vs. Evil, and Doing what is Right (even when what's wrong is much easier). Then there is the marvelous world created by Rowling and the fact that it's connected to our own, allowing us to understand it far better than we would if it were a brand new world with no connection to the one we're familiar with. The characters are real and interesting people. We all know someone like know-it-all Hermione or loyal friend Ron. The story is universal because it deals with themes we understand, characters we recognize, and puts them in a world we know.

But that's not enough. The story has to grip you. And this one certainly does. There's enough mystery in the story to keep us interested. And enough of the mystery is revealed as the story progresses so we're not kept waiting until we no longer care.

So how do you write a book that'll make you a billionaire?

Make it universal with a good story. It's as easy at that.


Friday, July 15, 2005

I can't stand it anymore!

Okay, there's this supposedly really clever way of "talking" on message boards and in blogs. It goes like this:

I? never thought I'd do something stupid like this.

The idea is you throw in a punctuation mark after the first word of the sentence which approximates the pause you'd use if you were actually speaking the sentence. It's annoying. It's obnoxious. It's being used too damn much.

Mostly I've seen it all over the place at this Survivor message board I frequent. The people there are great, but every time I read a sentence with that unnecessary bit of punctuation, I want to hit something. We are not speaking to each other - we're writing to each other. Don't try to pretend to be speaking. Call someone on the damn phone. Then you can throw in all the stupid pauses you want until the person hangs up on you.

Do you see this? Do you do this? If so, why? For the love of god, why?

Okay, my rant is over. I had to get that out.

Ask Matt: Question One

The first Ask Matt question is this:

Stripes vs.. polka dots: which is the better sartorial choice?

First of all, nice word there: "sartorial". The English major in me appreciates the use of obscure words. Second of all, you're asking me for fashion tips? What are you, nuts? I still have shirts from 1988. Seriously. Sharon'll will reluctantly and with much shame tell you this is true.

But I said I'd answer whatever questions I get, so here goes... First, ask yourself this question, Loyal Reader: how old do you want to appear? Because if you're older than 12, polka dots are right out. Really. No, they don't make you look young. They make you look desperately uncomfortable about your true age. So forget polka dots. Unless you're entering a ward of chicken pox victims, polka dots are right out.

So, it's stripes right? Ugh. I hate stripes. I admit I have a couple of striped shirts. (And ironically enough I was wearing one when this question popped into my email box.) But I can't stand 'em. Thin stripes, fat stripes, red stripes, blue stripes, it doesn't matter. I like solids. Solids, I tell you! Gimme a nice sold black shirt. Or blue. Or even a good hunter green. But throw some stripes in and the whole thing goes to hell.

So which is better? Stripes, but only if you truly have to choose between a polka dot outfit and a striped one. If there's a solid option, choose it!

Okay, as you can see, I'll answer any question. Send 'em to me at

Hah! and Bah!

One made me laugh. The other made me cry "Bah!"

In the Press Citizen letters today Gary Frost explains a cooler idea for that Coralville land than a rain forest.

Let's think cool in Coralville

I think a re-creation of Ice Age Iowa would be a cooler summertime attraction than a rain forest.

There could be a glacial ice face maintained by Amana technology. The huge glacier would also cool the building. There could be an animation of the giant ground sloth that was just discovered in Iowa.

Ice Age Iowa would even make good use of the noisy Interstate that goes through Coralville. An outdoor prairie restoration would contrast prehistoric Iowa with modern Iowa of passing 18-wheelers.

Ice Age Iowa is a natural for Midwest summer tourism.

Gary Frost

I gotta wonder about his name, though. Frost? Come on.

And I now I must say "Bah." Yesterday a letter supporting the rain forest project appeared. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh of Des Moines believes that the only way people are going to understand the importance of rain forests to our global survival is if we create a fake one in Iowa. Has Ms. Savage-Rambaugh never heard of books like these?

You know what surprises me most? Where's State 29 and the other Iowa Pork Forest writers? Shouldn't they have been all over this letter?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Three internet quizzes

In a Past Life...

You Were: An Arrogant Belly Dancer.

Where You Lived: Israel.

How You Died: Consumption.

Who doesn't want to have been an arrogant belly dancer in a past life?

Your Summer Anthem is Speed of Sound by Coldplay

All that noise, and all that sound,
All those places I got found.
And birds go flying at the speed of sound,
to show you how it all began.

You're out of your mind this summer, in a good way.

I like Coldplay or at least the one song I know, but I am unfamiliar with this song.

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.
In love, you feel the most alive when things are straight-forward, and you're told that you're loved.
You'd like to your lover to think you are stylish and alluring.
You would be forced to break up with someone who was ruthless, cold-blooded, and sarcastic.
Your ideal relationship is lasting. You want a relationship that looks to the future... one you can grow with.
Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.
You think of marriage as something precious. You'll treasure marriage and treat it as sacred.
In this moment, you think of love as commitment. Love only works when both people are totally devoted.

Some right, some wrong. As you would expect for an internet quiz.

2005 Emmy Noms

Drama series
“Deadwood,” HBO;
“Lost,” ABC;
“Six Feet Under,” HBO;
“24,” Fox;
“The West Wing,” NBC

Okay, stop nominating the West Wing. Its time is over. Of the others, I only watch 24 and Lost, both of which deserved their nominations. I have heard great things about Deadwood. And, of course, Sara at Midwestern Position loves Six Feet Under.

Comedy series
“Arrested Development,” Fox;
“Desperate Housewives,” ABC;
“Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS;
“Scrubs,” NBC;
“Will & Grace,” NBC

Like West Wing, Will & Grace is past its prime. The biggest absence that I can see is Two and Half Men, a consistently funny show. I am thrilled that Scrubs and Arrested Development made the list as they are two of the most inventive comedies on TV right now.

Reality Series -- Competition
“The Amazing Race,” CBS;
“American Idol,” Fox;
“The Apprentice,” NBC;
“Project Runway,” Bravo;
“Survivor,” CBS

I'd probably vote for The Amazing Race because Survivor has at the least started over the shark even if it hasn't completely jumped yet. Project Runway? Did anyone see that? Was it good?

Lead Actor - Drama
James Spader, “Boston Legal,” ABC;
Ian McShane, “Deadwood,” HBO;
Hugh Laurie, “House,” Fox;
Hank Azaria, “Huff,” Showtime;
Kiefer Sutherland, “24,” Fox

Um, I have no idea. I only watch 24 and while I think Keifer is great, all of the other actors listed are excellent, too. Plus, I didn't know Hank Azaria was in a drama series!

Lead Actress - Drama
Jennifer Garner, “Alias,” ABC;
Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” NBC;
Patricia Arquette, “Medium,” NBC;
Glenn Close, “The Shield,” FX;
Frances Conroy, “Six Feet Under,” HBO

I don't watch any of these shows. Enh.

Lead Actor - Comedy
Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development,” Fox;
Ray Romano, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS;
Tony Shalhoub, “Monk,” USA;
Zach Braff, “Scrubs,” NBC;
Eric McCormack, “Will & Grace,” NBC

If either Bateman or Braff wins, I'll be satisfied. Both are excellent.

Lead Actress - Comedy
Marcia Cross, “Desperate Housewives” ABC;
Teri Hatcher, “Desperate Housewives,” ABC;
Felicity Huffman, “Desperate Housewives,” ABC;
Patricia Heaton, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS;
Jane Kaczmarek, “Malcolm In The Middle,” Fox

I don't watch Desperate Housewives, so I have no opinion on the first three nominees. Patricia Heaton is great as is Jane Kaczmarek. If either one of them wins, that'll be fine.

Supporting Actor - Drama
William Shatner, “Boston Legal,” ABC;
Oliver Platt, “Huff,” Showtime;
Naveen Andrews, “Lost,” ABC;
Terry O’Quinn, “Lost,” ABC;
Alan Alda, “The West Wing,” NBC

Yeah! Lost got some nominations. Both Terry O'Quinn and Naveen Andrews are excellent. O'Quinn's work in the episode where we discover he was a parapalegic as well as the episode about his father was certainly Emmy worthy. And Naveen had a great episode where he was forced to infiltrate a terrorist cell and betray his friend. The big miss here is Daniel Dae Kim from Lost. The story of his love for and estrangement from his wife has been one of the most fascinating subplots of the show. He deserved a nomination. Still, I hope either Lost star who did get nominated wins.

Supporting Actress - Drama
Sandra Oh, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC;
Blythe Danner, “Huff,” Showtime;
Tyne Daly, “Judging Amy,” CBS;
CCH Pounder, “The Shield,” FX;
Stockard Channing, “The West Wing,” NBC

Where the heck is Yunjin Kim?! She plays Daniel Dae Kim's wife on Lost. She can express so much with just a pained wistful look. Give her a nom, for crying out loud. Sandra Oh gets in but not Yunjin Kim. Criminal.

Supporting Actor - Comedy
Jeffrey Tambor, “Arrested Development,” Fox;
Jeremy Piven, “Entourage,” HBO;
Peter Boyle, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS;
Brad Garrett, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS;
Sean Hayes, “Will & Grace,” NBC

I am sick of Sean Hayes. Isn't everyone by now? Both Garrett and Boyle are excellent, but they've both won before, haven't they? Get rid of those three and fill the roster with John C. McGinley from Scrubs, who is consistently hilarious; Will Arnett from Arrested Development, who steals every scene he's in; and Michael Crea also from Arrested Development, who I wrote about here. I have no opinion on Jeremy Piven having never seen Entourage.

Supporting Actress - Comedy
Jessica Walter, “Arrested Development,” Fox;
Doris Roberts, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS;
Holland Taylor, “Two And A Half Men,” CBS;
Conchata Ferrell, “Two And A Half Men,” CBS;
Megan Mullally, “Will & Grace,” NBC

Good nominations here except for Megan Mullally. I'd pick Jessica Walter or Doris Roberts.

I was checking my site meter logs and discovered that someone had found his way here via this site. My little blog is considered an Iowa Politics blog. Heh. My cursory attempts to examine political issues is like a swimmer sticking his big toe in the ocean. I am in good company though as many of the people on this list actually dive into the water and start swimming. Here's the list of blogs on the site:
The only one on the list I had not heard of was Iowa Voice, and after reading a little bit of it, I don't feel I have missed much. It does not appeal to me.

Ask Matt

We're starting something new here at Oasis Amidst the Corn: Ask Matt. That's right. If you have a question that you need an answer to, you can Ask Matt and Matt will provide an answer.

No promises that the answer will be correct. But it will be answered. And really, can you ask for more than that?

So send your questions to:

As soon as we get some questions, we'll post 'em with answers.

(I have no idea why I used "we" throughout this post. It's really just me behind the curtain.)

Training and a secret...

After I finish recounting yesterday's training, I'll share one of my hiking secrets. It's exciting! Heh.

So yesterday, after dinner, I felt I should get out there and hike. But I really didn't want to. I mean, I REALLY didn't want to. I procrastinated. Sharon asked me if I was really going. Finally, I put the boots on, grabbed the Survivor buff, and treked to the car, backpack in hand. This was an important obstacle to overcome. I didn't want to hike, but I did it anyway because I knew I needed to if I'm going to have any chance of actually completing the planned hike on the Appalachian Trail this year. And I'd really like to finish it as our plan is to get to Clingman's Dome, the highest point of the AT.

Sunset at Clingman's Dome

Yesterday, I climbed the one steep part three times and was feeling a burn in my legs on the last one. But I felt pretty good overall. Next time I may just go up and down the steep part five or six times. And I think I'm going to add some more weight to my pack. I have close to 30 pounds now and if I add another five to ten pounds, I'll definitely be carrying more than I will when I'm actually hiking. When I get on the AT, my pack will feel light, right? Right?

Okay, onto one of Matt's secrets of hiking. Are you ready?

Ta Da!

That's right. When I have a huge mountain ahead of me, I reach into my pack and grab a fruit rollup. There's just something about the fruity goodness that keeps my feet moving. I love the whole process of peeling the fruit from the cellophane, mushing it into a ball, and popping it into my mouth. I savor the gush of sweetness for as long as I can. And even after the rollup is gone, the taste lingers and inspires me to keep climbing.

I should be in a commercial for fruit rollups, shouldn't I?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Training again

I am training for an Appalachian Trail hike. For more information, go here.

Yesterday, I hiked for about an hour. I didn't have too much time because I had to make it back for storytime at the library at 7 pm. I did put on the backpack and hiked carrying about 30 pounds. In my previous two training sessions, I had only slightly less than 20 pound Sami on my back. Ten pounds makes a difference when you're climbing a hill. On the Woodpecker Trail, there are two different hills where it's basically like climbing steps only more difficult. I did one of them twice just to get my legs ready for climbing actual mountains. I think I'll keep doing that - focusing more on repetitions on the hills than distance. The strange thing is my wrist is sore. I have no idea what I did to it. If it were my right one, I'd think it's connected to mouse use. I am trying not to use it much and hopefully the pain will be gone before I leave for North Carolina.

Happy Birthday to Sharon

A number of years ago, in the place where the tall corn grows, a very tiny blond girl was born. No bigger than a nightcrawler is what I've heard. Fortunately, she grew up and eventually made her way to the University of Iowa where I had the good fortune to meet her. Twelve years and two kids later, she's still the strongest person I know. Happy Birthday to my wonderful wife. May we celebrate many, many, many more birthdays together.

Here are a couple of Horoscopes for the birthday girl:

If Your Birthday Is Today....Comedian/actor Bill Cosby (1937) shares your birthday. You have an amazing influence over others whether you try to achieve this or not. You have the skills - charm, intelligence, and power of persuasion - to convince others. Most of you will use this for a higher purpose. Big issues (life and death) intrigue you. The year ahead is full of fresh starts and new beginnings.


IF JULY 12 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: The year ahead should be free of trouble or burdens. Like a dog that has slipped its leash you might run wild, especially in September. Don't be impatient -- keep on track and wait for helpful opportunities that should appear in February and March. That is a time when you can make inspired plans that will unfold as promised. Say your prayers and they should be answered during that time.

PS Wanna see me hula hoop?

Fat Man Walking

Have you heard about this guy walking across the US to lose weight?

His name is Steve Vaught, a 39-year-old happily married dad who is unhappy with his weight. He's also a former Marine, so he's not been fat all of his life. Steve describes why he wants to do this and what it will cost him:

Being fat is physically and emotionally painful. It diminishes the quality of the good things in life and it will ultimately bring about an early demise. So being overweight darkens every good thing that you achieve in your life and even prevents some things from happening at all.

If I had a drug or alcohol addiction I would go to rehab. Well, what I have in mind is rehab for the fat guy.

We have become conditioned to believe that there is an answer in a pill or cream or drink or machine that will fix it for us. We lost sight of the fact that we are the most incredible machine ever built, capable of great heroism, ingenuity and strength.

This effort is not going to be without sacrifice, my family and I know and accept that. I will probably see my wife and kids only once or twice during this time. I am not in the best condition financially to go six months without income and have resigned myself to the fact that I will lose my car and property. Those things however, pale in significance when reckoned with the consequences of doing nothing.

That last bit is amazing to me. He's willing to lose his car and house to do this. It must be really painful to weigh so much.

He tipped the scales at 375 pounds when he started his trek. He's down to around 355 and it's taking him a lot longer to get across the country than he expected. He started April 10 in California and he's only into Arizona three months later. He had expected the entire trip to New York to take six months. Still, he keeps going and you have to admire his perseverance. I hope he makes it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Plame affair

Looks like Bush's administration is connected to the leak of the name of a CIA agent to the press despite two years of denials. And the connection is none other than top Bush political analyst Karl Rove, who told a reporter Valerie Plame worked at the CIA. This is the same Valerie Plame who is married to Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador and the guy who publicly called out the Bush administraton about the fact that they lied to the American people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It has long been suspected that Plame was outed as a CIA operative in retaliation for her husband's remarks. Rove is the first direct link to the adminstration. Did they do it? Well, with the Bush administration's track record of lies and obfuscation, it's certainly not hard to believe. Plus, if Rove's comment was an innocent mistake, why did he lie about it under oath, saying he only talked about Plame after she'd been outed?

Of course, the ways things are progressing in this country, I have no hope that Bush or his administration will be held accountable.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A good laugh

When a laugh is needed, the young often provide. What follows is a short play with a cast of three, one of which is a non-speaking role.

The setting:

A basement filled with toys. Dad sits at the computer, reading web reports of the London terrorist attack. Two small children play, oblivious to Dad's sadness.


Rachel, are you ready for lunch?

4-year-old Rachel:

Unh uh. I am ready for rock and roll! Hit the music, Sam!

18-month-old Samantha laughs and dances.


Terrorists attack London

I am trying to figure out what I could write about this that might be interesting to read. I haven't really come up with anything.


  • Four bombs, one on a double decker bus and three in the London underground, exploded during rush hour in London.

  • Many people are dead. Even more are injured.

  • A group related to Al-Queda has claimed responsibility.

    You know, when I heard that there were over 160 people injured, my first thought was of the doctors and nurses waiting in the hospitals during 9/11 for the injured that never came. Which is not to in any way compare the two attacks or suggest that this attack is not a serious and horrible event. It's just the first thing that came into my head.

    I am also struck by the lucky obliviousness of my children who are playing normally without any idea that this tragedy has happened.

    Finally, I am sad that my children will probably come of age during a time of terrorism and war. My kids are young, but I see no end to this. No end.

  • Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Store Wars

    I think six posts in one day is probably a record for me. I found this funny Star Wars spoof through Red Bird Rising, a site I found through Does This Look Infected?. It's been around for a while so you've probably all seen it by now but just in case....

    The spoof does have a message and it's probably an important one, although I admit to not being well versed in the discussion so it's hard for me to say. I mostly ignored the message and enjoyed the silliness of the spoof. My favorite: Chew-broccoli.

    Fired for blogging

    Random Mentality linked to Mr. Lance Salyers who was fired from his job as a prosecutor for this post where he says this about someone in his office:

    ...Justice sometimes falls into the laps of "timid souls," who not only shrink from the hard and uncertain work of Duty, but have the audacity to wrap themselves up in an air of self-congratulatory smugness at their exercise of "responsible caution."

    When I read this, I figured that Mr. Salyers wanted to prosecute someone for a crime and his bosses said "no" because they didn't think they could get a conviction. And Mr. Salyers basically called them cowards in the title of the post.

    In his most recent post, he says that:

    When I was fired, I was plainly told that it was because a group of my fellow co-workers ... had read what I wrote and were bitterly upset over the fact that I don't respect them. For these hurt feelings, I was told that my continued employment with the office (apparently on any level) "is not going to work."

    So it wasn't his boss, I guess. Still, that was my impression from reading it. I've been thinking about this on and off for the past 24 hours or so trying to figure out what exactly I think. I believe in the freedom of speech. But I also believe that when you work for a company, you have to maintain a certain loyalty or suffer the consequences. Dweeze says in reference to a different case of someone getting fired for comments on a blog that you have to use common sense when posting. I think that's really the heart of the matter. If you want to call your co-workers cowards (and who hasn't at some point?), tell your wife or your girlfriend. Don't post it online where anyone can read it. All the righteous indignation doesn't change the fact that Mr. Salyers made a foolish mistake and suffered for it. You don't insult your co-workers in public and expect everything to be hunky dory at work the next day. To think otherwise is embarrassingly naive.

    This can't be real

    According to this news story, the Meskwaki tribe in Iowa is fighting to prevent a mother from allowing her child to be adopted by a white couple from Indiana. I can't believe this tribe has the authority to tell a mother whether or not she can put her child up for adoption.

    According to the article:

    "...the law was designed to prevent state and private adoption agencies from wrongfully taking away descendants of tribal members, as well as ensuring the option of keeping those children within the tribal community."

    The first part of that, I get. It's the second part that infringes on the rights of the parents and is absolutely un-American.

    Ever been to the Meskwaki casino? I have. It stinks of desperation and last chances. If it's any indication of what life might be like for this child, then I don't blame the mother at all for wanting to provide a better life for her child. And even if life there isn't bad, it's still the mother's right to decide what is best for her child.

    Movie Night on the Pentacrest

    This looks like a great event! Four weekends of movies on the Pentacrest. They're showing the Wizard of Oz, Toy Story, ET, and the Sandlot. You gotta like that.

    The James Gang, which I have never heard of but describes itself as a "nonprofit grassroots community building organization", is sponsoring the event with the help of MC Ginsberg, the Downtown Association, and others.

    Which Harry Potter character dies?

    Well, I don't know for certain. However this news story tells us there was an upsurge in bets on one particular character from the area in England where the book is being published. I won't say which character in this post, but if you want to know, click here.

    I love the Harry Potter books. I have reserved my copy of the Half Blood Prince at Barnes and Noble. I look forward to the time that my girls are old enough to read them. I think the Harry Potter books are right up there with the Oz books and the Chronicles of Narnia.

    New links

    There are a bunch of blogs I regularly check out that didn't fit in my Iowa Blogs category. I've been meaning to add them to my links forever and today I finally did. They are:

  • Bit by the Blogging Bug
  • Melissa from Minnesota is a fun read.

  • Rebel Dad
  • A stay at home dad blog that's got some insightful stuff.

  • Jennifer's History and Stuff
  • Sassy Jennifer is a fun read.

  • One Million Footnotes
  • This site that inspired my concise thoughts blog.

  • Does This Look Infected?
  • One of the first blogs I discovered after creating my own blog on Blogger.

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Summer TV

    In the old days, there was no new TV during the summer. It was a wasteland of reruns. Nowadays, there is lots of new stuff to check out.

    I've already talked about Big Brother and, I have to admit, I'll probably check out INXS: Rock Star because it sounds like American Idol with rockers which is really appealing to me. Some people I've talked to find it somewhat morbid to hold a contest to replace ex-lead singer Michael Hutchence who committed suicide. I was a fan of INXS and Michael Hutchence in particular. There is one early song, The Swing, that among my list of all time favorites and not because of the lyric, but more because of Hutchence's intense delivery. Since Hutchence's death, four different singers have tried to replace him and didn't last. The regular method didn't work. This somewhat unorthodox way seems as good as any to find a new lead singer. In any case, I don't see how finding a new singer for the band is disrespectful of Hutchence.

    But what really has me excited is season two of Battlestar Galactica. If you've missed any of the episodes, there's a marathon this Friday on SciFi. They're re-running the entire season. The premiere for season two is Friday, July 15, 9 PM CST. I've already written about how incredible I think this show is.

    Hopefully, nothing else will pop up because I don't want to watch more than three shows this summer!


    "I have baby slobber on me," four-year-old Rachel told me in a very put out voice.

    Later on, Rachel was sitting on the floor when Sami snuck up behind her and hug/tackled her. To which Rachel shouted, "Sami! I am trying to do my clock lesson!"

    Earlier in the day, Rachel was trying to fold a blanket and Sami, with a mischevious look in her eye, sat right down on it and smiled at her big sister.

    Just now, I hear Rachel calling out, "Sami! Move! I can't see my show!" Two seconds later, Sami sits down next to Rachel and gets a hug from big sister.

    "You're the best little sister I ever had."

    Sounds like the traditional sister dynamic, huh?

    Favre ain't so great

    I haven't really written about football much (if at all) in my blog. I am huge Bears fan and have been since I was 14 and the Bears were in the Super Bowl. Since then, I have stayed a true fan despite their lack of success. Anyway, today I read a story which puts forth the theory that I have long held: Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers isn't that great.

    Using the league's interception formula (percentage of interceptions out of passes thrown) Favre is at 3.23, Elway at 3.12 and Marino at 3.02. But here's the intertesting thing about those statistics. Both Elway and Marino threw more picks per attempt during the first half of their career than in the second. Young QBs tend to be more of the wild, gunslinger variety. They learn caution as they get older; they figure out how to dump the ball off and avoid throwing into coverage.

    Favre's stat line, though, shows the opposite. Under Mike Holmgren, during Brett's first seven years as a Packer, his pick percentage was lower than in his six post-Holmgren years. I don't think he's getting the same level of coaching. I think he's allowed to get away with too many sloppy habits, which are always covered up, occasionally even admired. Remember that weird toss that everyone loved, when Favre was way across the line and heading for the Vikings' end zone last year? He laughed about it, the announcers laughed about it. All it did was keep the Pack off the scoreboard.

    Favre wins. You can't argue with that. But he's not the best quarterback out there.

    The weekend

    We had a nice Fourth of July weekend. Our friends Matt and Deidre came over for dinner on Saturday. We even got the kids to bed and were able to hang out with the friends sans children. Ah, that was nice. Sunday was a good family day. On the Fourth, Rachel and I were in a parade. She waved and threw candy to the children lining the parade route. It was raining, so Soup and Sharon stayed home. We had a lot of fun and even saw one of Rachel's friends from preschool along the parade route. I think her friend was just amazed to see Rachel in the parade - she had the widest eyes I've ever seen on a four year old. Rachel was similarly thrilled to see her friend. That night, we went to the Coralville fireworks, but the kids were tired and we left after a really unimpressive show. They might have gotten better after we had gone. When we got home, we turned on the TV in time to see the finale of Cedar Rapids' fireworks. That was impressive.

    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    The election of 1800

    Partly prompted by the events described in this post, I recently read an excellent book about the election of 1800, when Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams, Aaron Burr, and C.C. Pinckney. (At that time, each party put forth two candidates, one of which was thought of as the presidential candidate and the other was thought of as the vice presidential candidate. However, any of the four could have been voted in as president.) This election is considered a turning point in American History. It was the first time we proved that our newly created democracy could result in a peaceful turnover of power from one political group to another. Adams was of the same political party (Federalist) as Washington when he became the second president. Jefferson, on the other hand, was a Republican, and they were despised by the Federalists. (The feeling was mutual, of course.) Adams was soundly defeated, but Jefferson and Burr both received 73 electoral votes. This sent the matter to the Federalist controlled House of Representatives, who could have destroyed the Republican plan and chosen Burr, who was supposed to be Jefferson's vice president. 36 votes were taken before a deal was made and Jefferson became the third president. During the course of those 36 votes, there was talk by both sides of using force. Had that happened, a very different precedent would have been set, and the history of the United States would have been very different. Fortunately, the politicians of the day worked out a deal that prevented the destruction of our new democracy. What was somewhat of a radical idea at the time has become the norm in our lives and we're better off for it.

    Both Jefferson and Adams are shown in the book as real men with failings as well as strong hearts. When I was a kid in school, I remember all of the "Founding Fathers" being painted with same glowing brush. These were our leaders, these great men who founded this country and believed in democracy and the "rights which we hold to be self evident". In my readings of this period as an adult, it's clear and really comes as no surprise to me that these men were all flawed and courageous, at times petty but still determined. In short, they were real people. Why don't we teach our kids this? Of course, maybe we do nowadays. It's been a long, long time since I took an American History class. I suppose I'll find out in a few years when my kids start school.

    The next Founding Father I would like to read about is Alexander Hamilton. He is portrayed in this book as a terribly unscrupulous man and I would like to read a more balanced account.


    Melissa from Bit by the Blogging Bug chose me for this, so here goes...


    Three nicknames that you have had:
    I have never had a nickname. Unless you count "Daddy" or "Matt".

    Three things you like about yourself:
    1. My passion
    2. My looks
    3. My leadership abilities

    Three things you don't like about yourself:
    1. My knees
    2. My procrastination
    3. My lack of the ability to grow a full beard

    Three things that scare you:
    1. Lots and lots of creepy crawly things all at once. I can handle a few at a time but not a horde.
    2. Not being able to give my kids all they need
    3. Failure

    Three of your everyday essentials:
    1. The internet
    2. Playtime with kiddos
    3. Reading something, even if it's just the newspaper

    Three things you are wearing right now:
    1. T-shirt
    2. Pajama bottoms
    3. glasses

    Three of your favorite bands growing up:
    1. Eagles
    2. The Who
    3. Journey

    Two truths and a lie:
    1. I weigh 150 pounds.
    2. My childhood dog's name was Sugar.
    3. In high school, I ran a mile in under six minutes.

    Three things you can't do without:
    1. Something to read
    2. My computer
    3. A blanket

    Three things you most certainly can do without:
    1. Body odor
    2. Bananas
    3. Judgemental people

    Three places you want to go on vacation:
    1. California
    2. Italy
    3. England

    Three things you want to do before you die:
    1. Create something that lasts longer than me
    2. Raise my kids to be good people
    3. Celebrate my 50th anniversary

    Three people you want to know these things about:
    The first three people who say, "Sure, I'll do it!"

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    Sandra Day O'Connor

    Well, I had heard the rumblings. They said she'd leave before Rehnquist even, who'll probably only leave in a hearse. Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, has resigned. While I don't want President Bush to appoint a new justice, I admit to being somewhat torn because on one issue, I am confident Bush's appointment will agree with my views. That is abortion. Still, overall, it'd probably have been better for the country if O'Connor had waited four years.

    My Survivor blog has the latest news and speculation as well as some spoiling about the show.
    About Me

    Name: Matt
    Location: Coralville, IA
    I am a Dad and a Husband. An Actor. An Administrator. A Hiker. A Writer. Probably a bunch of other things too. Read my blog and you'll find out more.
    Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

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