Thursday, August 30, 2007

Vacation at the Lake Cabin

Kari, the kids and I returned yesterday from our much-needed vacation. We went to my granparents' lake cabin on Lake Sam Rayburn, near Broaddus, TX. This was the perfect vacation for us for a number of reasons: 1. It was very cheap. We only had to pay for the gas to get us there and back and the groceries we used while there; 2. It forced us to isolate ourselves with no television, phone, cell phone, computer, or any other connection to our lives back in Houston; 3. The kids got to experience the great outdoors, something that Kari and I have neglected to provide for them. We spent 4 days and three nights, sitting on the deck, playing in the lake, trying to fish, reading books, and playing games. The kids, of course, were thrilled to sleep in the bunk beds (just as my brothers and I were 22 years ago when we first went). They also enjoyed finding spiders, lizards, snakes, deer, and other woodland creatures.

At first, they were a bit intimidated, asking about the propect of bears, alligators, and other ferocious animals. I made the mistake of saying that there "might be" some skunks out there as we were driving along the dirt road towards the cabin on Sunday. I don't know for sure if there are, but I thought it could be possible. This was the wrong thing to say. For the next half a day or so, they both would enter new environments with much trepidation, saying "There might be a skunk in/out there." I finally had to reassure them that while I'm not sure about skunks, I hadn't seen one there in all of the years I came out to that cabin, so seeing one would be unlikely at best. Once they got over that fear, they had a much better time. The only other exception was that Regan didn't really care for the boat ride. We rowed the boat out to a buoy in the middle of the cove 3 or 4 times during our stay for us to swim and try to fish (we never even had a nibble). Regan would cry all the way out there and much of the way back, saying "I want to go back home," meaning our home in Clear Lake, not the cabin. Once we were out at the buoy, though, she thoroughly enjoyed herself. I've posted a short video of her tragic tale over on the podcast so you can get a good idea of what I mean.

So now we are back to work. The kids began Montesorri School today, and "real life" returns. I had 17 new voice mail and 36 new email messgaes waiting for me. Needless to say, I could have stayed another couple of days, but life goes on. I feel much better and well-rested, so I guess that means our vacation was a success.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Currently Listening: Architecture in Helsinki; The Good, The Bad, and The Queen

Architecture in HelsinkiAs most of you know, I am always on the lookout for new music that is unique and creative. While I would not presume to be on the "cutting edge" of new and emerging music, I think that I am a little more ahead of the curve with regard to little-known or little-appreciated music, particularly indie music that gets little or no play on commercial radio. With that said, I only recently became aware of the Australian indie-pop group, Architecture in Helsinki. I was introduced to them by way of the fans of bands like The Shins and Of Montreal. I was told that AIH's music was similar to those bands, and a quick listen through their catelogue seems to confirm that. Their newest album, Places Like This, however, diverges a great deal from their history. Although they are still firmly embedded in the indie pop community, this album takes on a decidedly electronic feel. They also seem to add much more sugary-sweet lyrics and hooks, similar to The Polyphonic Spree, but without the sweeping orchestrations. Overall, Places Like This feels much more like a dance album than anything else. AIH obviously had fun making the album, and that fun is almost contagious to the listener. Although the nasal voice of one of the singers tends to become too much at times, it's very playful, and you almost have to appreciate the aggresive hooks filled with energetic nastiness (and I mean that in the best way possible).
Favorite tracks: "Hold Music", "Debbie".

Another band that has caught my fancy lately is The Good, The Bad, and The Queen, which is the latest vehicle for Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Alburn. I have really liked his work with those two bands, so it's no surprise that I really like this new self-titled album. In fact, it is probably my favorite of the three. At it's core, The Good, The Bad, and The Queen is piano-driven pop, backed by your typical guitars and drums. Sometimes, though, Alburn drops the piano in favor of the richer and more robust organ sound. This makes for very powerful chords and driving progressions, which is the perfect complement to Alburn's cloudlike vocals. His voice seems to float ominously over the music, telling a story in the way that I think a jaded, cynical angel my tell the story of humankind's excesses. Altogether, it makes for a very rich and layered musical experience, full of grit and raw power but without crumbling under it's own weight. Be sure, however, not to go into this album expecting it to be like Gorillaz. While there are some similarities ("Northern Whale" would fit right in on Demon Days), TGTB&TQ is much less play and more prone to leave musical questions unanswered. It's less tidy, but I think that gives it a more appealing quality. Very good stuff.

Favorite tracks: "Herculean", "The Bunting Song", and "The Good, the Bad, and the Queen".

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Kids and Cleansing

Here are some pictures Tiffany took of the kids at a park in League City. I really like these pictures, and I'm especially impressed that she was able to get them to pose so easily.

I know I'm biased, but I absolutely love looking at my kids. Is that narcissistic? I know they kind of look like me, so does that make me vain? Perhaps, but I like it that way. I really missed the kids when they were away for a week. They had fun, but I know they were ready to come home too.

I'm really looking forward to next week. We're going to the lake house for a few days. Very rustic living with few amenities; just the right environment to cleanse our spirits and purge all of the stress and worries of life. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm looking forward to coming back feeling renewed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What'd you get me?

Hey everybody! Today is the ninth anniversary of marriage for Kari and me. We celebrated by going to the grocery store and coming home to pizza, ice cream, champagne, and The Daily Show (all kid-free since they are at Kari's parents' house for the week). We'll do it up right next year.

Feel free to send presents.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Okay, so I guess it's pretty obvious that I only write on my blog when I have nothing better to do. Well, I guess that might start to happen more often now. I have recently started working the night shift on weekends at a local hotel. It's mainly just for some extra money, and since I usually work the overnight shift, it's easy, and I'm still around to see my family.

So that is where I am now. I would usually have a book or something to pass the time on nights like this (virtually all of the regular work is done, and almost all of the guests are checked in), but I decided not to bring the book tonight. So here I am, posting on the blog that surely gets lonely in between visits and posts, but that's surely to change now.

Anyway, for a while now, I've been meaning to blog about For those who don't know, twitter is kind of like a blog with ADHD. It's just short snippets of information about what the blogger is currently up to or thinking about. It's very easy to follow the posts of others via SMS, IM, or RSS. The best part is that there are numerous methods that you can update it, like through the web, widgets, IM, or SMS. I also like the fact that there's no need to go into great detail; just type the brief thought and move on. If you want to check out my twitter, go to

Also, I've begun tracking my music listening habits on The best thing about that site is that it requires no effort on my part. It automatically updates as I listen to music either through iTunes or with my iPod. You can check out my page here.