Wednesday, September 24, 2008


My grandma died today. That's her in the middle between my Mom on the left and my Aunt on the right. She was 95. She was the best Grandma in the whole world, one of the nicest ladies anywhere. She worked at KFVS television in Cape Girardeau, MO for 44 plus years. 40 hours during the week plus a half day on Saturday. That's the way they did it then but she never complained.

She held up well for a long time. She cut out her daily cocktail before dinner only recently. My Mom got her a cane when her balance wavered but she tossed it in the closet. She took me to New York City in 1974 when I was nine years old, just to show me the place. We walked the mall in D.C. together that summer and the battlefield at Gettysburg too, and though we didn't know it then, her great-grandfather may have fought there for the union.

She was a distant cousin to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Wild Bill Hickok, not that she bragged about it. She was not one to make a fuss. She didn't like dogs. The only time in my entire life when she raised her voice was once when I was five years old and our dog jumped up in a chair to get comfortable. She didn't know I was listening nearby when she implored our family pet, in no uncertain terms, to get the hell off the furniture. And that was it.

She co-owned her own vegetable cannery on the West bank of the Mississippi river during the depression until bums burned down. She drank in a speak-easy during prohibition. She married a Democrat and voted Republican. She drove a Buick. She sent me to England when I graduated from high school.

She set the bar very high for Grandmothers everywhere, all over the world, and today she died. Thank you Grandma for 95 great years. I know not everything turned out the way you planned, but I'm glad it did, for my sake, and as long as I live, you won't be forgotten.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

At The Stadium

The Jones family went to the Royals game tonight thanks to our friend Kurt and his tickets. Tonight was fan appreciation night and they gave us knit caps when we walked in the gates. I found the Planet Sub vendor (AKA Yello Sub) and bought a turkey club, not too hard on the diet. We watched the Royals beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2. The Royals hit three home runs including a two run blast from Alex Gordon, an inside the park job from David Dejesus, and the first major league homer from Kila Kia-hooie (sic). I spotted my old CJ-106 co-worker Kelly Urich, and chatted with him. I had not seen him in over 12 years. He is still in radio. I am not. He does a great job over at Mix-93 where he's been since CJ-106 bit the dust in1995.

We stayed for the entire game and saw Joakim Soria close out victory #70, which is one more than the team managed last season. A college kid in a Cardinals jersey walked past us and shouted "Go Cardinals" for no reason. My nine year-old stood up and said, "They aren't even playin". Good boy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Day - September 18, 2008

Today I woke up at 7:15am, showered, stepped on the scale at 183 pounds, dressed, drank a glass of orange juice, grabbed an apple and drove to the office. I live 15 minutes from work. Arrived at my desk just after 8am, read email, got a cup of coffee and began the work day.

I enhance and support a web application for a large engineering firm and today is the monthly peak usage day. I am the main point of contact for support questions and I coordinate those efforts with the brain trust. The morning seemed typical with a steady stream of phone calls and emails, but nothing overwhelming.

Drove home for lunch and checked Facebook. Logged into Travian, the tribal wars community game. My daughter spilled applesauce on her outfit at school and one of our neighbors, a woman who was at the school for another reason, went home and brought her a clean shirt. She also has a first grade daughter. What a kind thing to do. She left a phone message.

Returned to the office for more troubleshooting among the faithful. The application architect and I reviewed a prickly problem with data and discovered a loophole that needed attention, but we won't mitigate today, not on the day of peak use. We'll schedule it for October.

Got off work at 5pm and drove home for a pork burrito dinner from the wifey. She's a good cook. Skyler played Madden '08 and Leah went to soccer practice. Mrs. Jones went out with the girls for bunco, a lady dice game featuring snacks and drinks.

I stayed in with the kids and we watched Tom & Jerry, they practiced piano, and the little one took a bath. She read me a story and I returned the favor before our ritual, a prayer and two songs. I sang her a personalized version of "Goodnight Sweatheart" where I substituted her name over the sweetheart part, and I encored with "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together" from the Carol Burnett show, only she doesn't know that's the origin.

It's 8pm and the boy and I talked sports. He brought me up to date on his GM activities within Madden franchise mode. He asked me to play a video game since his allotment is kaput. He gets one hour of PC or Gamecube time per day. I parachuted into France and surprised the German army all over again in Medal of Honor Spearhead edition.

He motored upstairs. Teeth were brushed, jammies were donned, and we talked before bed. I told him I wanted him to start a memory box, a small box with a lid to house momentos. We discussed what that meant and I asked him to imagine what it might be like if our house were frozen in time so he might return to the way it was today some time in the distant future. He might marvel at his baseball cards, his books, his toys. Those things are some of his personal momentos. I turned off the light and said goodnight. No songs for the 4th grader. He's not into it, although sometimes, not tonight, but sometimes I paraphrase a line from Cider House Rules when I say, "Goodnight my King of Kansas, my Prince of Prairie Village".

9pm - I did three miles on the treadmill in the basement. The calorie counter registered 250. I fired up Madden on the gamecube while I walked those three miles and the '62 Dallas Texans defeated the '96 Carolina Panthers 34-21 in a thrilling come from behind victory where the Texans, down 21-17, recovered the onside kick, and marched down field with less than two minutes remaining to take the lead. I was the Texans.

9:45 - I called my mother in Cape Girardeau. My 95 year-old grandmother is in the hospital. I've known since last night. She had the flu or maybe food poisoning. Anyway, she couldn't keep food down for four days and vomited when she tried. This led to dehydration and a fall in her apartment. A neighbor discovered her on the floor and called an ambulance. My Mom and Dad drove the 5.5 hours to Cape this morning and the good news is that she didn't have a stroke or a heart attack, but she's weak and tired and well, I don't know. She doesn't want to take phone calls today. Maybe tomorrow she'll feel better.

At 11pm I'll jump in bed, watch 45 minutes of TV and drift off to sleep.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

He Used to Live Down the Street From Me.

Today is Jason Wagers' birthday. Happy Birthday "Minimum Wage". Here's Jason scarin' up some breakfast porkchops on the popular Japanese morning show, Good Morning Tokyo.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bowling Report for September 15th

I post a summary of our team's bowling exploits every Monday night, weather permitting. We won two of three matches and had more total pins than the other team. That counts as a victory by itself. Results are unofficial pending the official tally by the bowl-master 9000 computer in the Mission Bowl pro shop but I'm confident in Kurt's math. We are 8 and 4 so far this season. Our best bowler Brent returned from summer hiatus and missed a triplicate patch by six pins in game three (171, 171, 165). I had my first 500+ series of the year (504).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Remembering the Crystal Ship

My friends Kurt and Greg gave me the Doors album for Christmas 1980. We were sophomores in high school and saw "Apocalypse Now" that fall. I was taken with "The End" and the napalm sequence that opened the movie. The album, their gift, was a watershed, and I featured the record on my bedroom turntable during the first half of 1981. They left the price tag on the saran wrap. It was $4.99 at the Capers Corner bargain bin. OMG! What a bargain. This song is my favorite:

Fun With Music is Fun

Fun for everyone:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wellsville 2008

Here's The Embarrassment doing an acoustic version of Wellsville, recorded live in Wichita, KS over Labor Day weekend 2008 and featuring special guest guitarist Freedy Johnston. Posted by Demolition Kitchen.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Bowling Report for September 8th

It's too early in the season to know how we're doing. Week two at Mission Bowl with 31 weeks to go. They outlawed smoking and that's a big change this year. Our lungs are doing much better, that I know. We bowled well after a slow start in week one. Kurt and Craig found their game and we held serve throughout the night but the true scores were obscured since new bowlers rolled on both sides of the scoring settee. I managed a 464 series - anything over 450 and I'm happy. 450 / 3 = 150. Good night.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tap a Kegel

I don't want to go into it but I will not be doing any more kegels.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Old Mission Teachers

Old Mission 1977-1980

7th Grade
Mrs. Patrick - English
Mr. Spencer - Social Studies
Mr. Vrbas - Math
Mr. Gibson - Gym
Mrs. Dekeyser - Life Science
Mrs. Caldwell - Art

8th Grade
Mrs. Chamberlain - Spanish
Mrs. Winston - Typing
Mr. Corder - Gym
Mr. Colley - Math
Mrs. Schweiker - English
Mr. Dory - Social Studies
Mr. Meidinger - Earth Science

9th Grade
Mr. Dory - Social Studies
Mrs. Carter - Foods
Mr. Gibson - Gym
Mrs. Hodgson - Science
Ms. Parks - English
Mr. Lyons - Math
Mrs. LaPierre - Speech

Friday, September 05, 2008

Elementary School Teachers

Brian McClendon, a 1982 Lawrence High School graduate, and the man behind Google Earth and Google Street View, emphasized the importance of computers in learning and giving youngsters access to computers at a young age in an article in today's Lawrence Journal World (by Alexander Parker). The story featured a quote from someone who said they were amazed that Brian, a very successful man, remembered the names of his fourth grade teachers. It went on to say that he remembered to give them credit for his success. The latter part was probably the true intent of the statement, the amazing part. Can't most people remember their elementary school teachers' names? Challenge yourself (without consulting yearbooks). Spelling doesn't count and you don't have to include first names. Here's my list.

Roeland Park Elementary 1970 - 1974
K - Mrs. Bates
1 - Mrs. Sue Stewart (maternity leave) / Mrs. Kathy Gintzel
2 & 3 - Mrs. Mabel Williams

Roesland 1974-1977
4 - Mrs. Barbara McAllister
5 - Mrs. Ewing
6 - Mrs. Gretchen Lohnes

Do you care: Mrs. Gintzel and Mrs. Williams both lived on my street (Rosewood) at the same time I did, although they had husbands and separate addresses. Tomorrow: Junior High

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Cape Girardeau Drive

I've driven to Cape Girardeau dozens of times in my life. My parents used to pack my brothers and me into our 1972 Chevrolet Kingswood station wagon for the 385 mile journey across Missouri on I-70 and I-55.

The drive time varied from seven and half hours to five and a half depending on if and when we stopped the car. The original route included a passage from St. Louis to Cape on U.S. highway 61, that's right Dylan fans. Before I-55 opened in the early 70s, we traversed Missouri on a single lane job that hit lots of little towns like Festus, Ste. Genevieve and Fruitland. We took a shortcut down route W and approached Cape from the Northwest. I got excited when familiar landmarks appeared like the house on route W with the mailbox that resembled a moving truck. A roadhouse tavern sported a beer sign that said either Falstaff or Stag beer complete with a smiling crewcut blue-collar man in the photo who reminded me of my Dad's friend Coach Uhls. Those were the old days of Pevely Dairy billboards and "Are we there yet?" That section rated a two-hour drive at the minimum and sometimes longer when we ended up behind a big truck or a slow moving vehicle, in other words, every time.

The St. Louis to Cape Girardeau section of I-55 opened in the early 70s and cut drive time by 45 minutes on average. This was undone when the 55 mph speed limit was introduced during the energy crisis. Our trip time averaged about 7.5 hours.

My parents drove at night one time. We put the seat down in back and tossed in a foam pad. I tried to sleep but it was too exciting. Another time my Mom packed a cooler full of ice and sodas and we stopped three or four times between Kansas City and Columbia to use the bathroom. They gave up and we stayed overnight in Columbia where we paid the Holiday Inn people for a private room to pee in for the rest of the night.

We liked to stop in Columbia anyway. We lived there during the late 1960s (on West Blvd. South of Broadway). We used to eat at Howard Johnson's or the Post House. I watched for the little mall with the JC Pennys and the Flaming Pit restaurant where my mom got her hair done in the old days.

Mom touted Gasper's at Kingdom City. The parking lot was packed with 18 wheelers. "It must be good if the truckers like it," she said. We ate there once and it was okay. We stopped at other places along the way like The Red Lion in Warrenton or the Big Boy restaurant near Wright City.

My Dad discovered the 61/40 shortcut at Wentzville (home of Chuck Berry) south to I-270 about that time and we saved 30 minutes by skipping the run into downtown St. Louis. I liked seeing the arch but it took longer. I'm not sure if we ever needed to take that route, but that's the way we went. The 61/40 shortcut intersected I-270 north of Manchester and the big bird on the pole at the West County Shopping Center. I badgered my Dad into stopping at a gas station there. I called summer camp girls on the pay phone who lived in Kirkwood and Des Peres. He didn't like to stop and I understand now that I'm a Dad and the principal driver, plus my wife would not appreciate extra calls to summer camp girls. Some still live there.

The approach to Cape on Kingshighway took us past the memorial park where my Dad's folks are buried. There's an ancient KGMO radio tower near the side of the road. This stretch of the business loop was and still is dotted with commercial development - motels and burger joints ruled. We turned left on Broadway (by the Burger King), past the old McDonald's with the retro arches, left at Capaha Park and right on Pemiscot street (finally). Dad sang "Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's House We Go" despite numerous protests.

Granny moved to an apartment on Bellevue in 1980. My grandfather Bader died that same year of cancer and I turned 16 the following Spring. I was old enough to stay home by myself. My family trips to Cape Girardeau ended. I wouldn't return until after college in 1989.

I took the family down this past weekend for Grandma's 95th birthday. This was their fourth trip. The kids don't realize how easy they have it in the van with the hand-held video games and the portable DVD player. They still ask "Are we there yet," sometimes before we hit Odessa. We stopped in Columbia at a burger joint with a habitrail.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New Embarrassment Song

The history of a "new" song from The Embarrassment, Carpshoot, written by Bill Goffrier, with his notes cribbed from The Embarrassment Yahoo Groups page:

Carpshoot's original lyric sheet is posted in the files here. We think Ron told us the story circa 1979, we rhtmed [sic] it, I transcribed it, Brent drew the fish and bullets, but it never made it past Ron's dining room. I recently expanded on the words and music, tried to keep it very simple, and that's what we played the other night.

They streamed last weekend's concert across the Internet where venerable music lover and scene historian Mike Blur listened at home, unable to journey to the show. He captured the song and posted it here.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Catching Up for September

I got back from a weekend in Missouri's boot heel. I had a fabulous time, hooked up with long lost relatives for family time, and ate like a savage. I spent two nights in Cape Girardeau, MO with a day trip to Caruthersville, Missouri. My mom's paternal line, the Bader family, hails from Caruthersville. More about that trip tomorrow. I'm burned out from driving across the state today. It's good to be home.