Friday, October 10, 2003

Estrogen OK!

Daisy Rock: I was at Guitar Center the other day and saw the "Girl's Guitar Method" book. It seemed interesting but it was the guitar company making heart shaped and daisy shaped guitars for girls that caught my interest. BTW - A guitar made for a girl involves having a thinner neck so smaller hands can get around it like larger guy hands get all the way around normal guitar necks. The only reason I can see that this would be a good thing would be when you wrap your thumb around and fret the 6th string with it. It's not often used (and against the proper position for holding a guitar that I learned) but there are certain chord variations that demand that thumb on the 6th string. Having stubby little fingers like I do, I'm thinking a thinner neck might be something I'll want to look into someday too. From this site I went to several linked sites like:

Lillix: It's an all-girl Canadian rock band. They play there own instruments, work with Avril Lavigne's and Pink's songwriting teams, and have a minor hit with a remake of the Romantic's "What I like about you." There sound is very produced and the lead singer ends up being in the Avril/Michele Branch clone sounding department. It's good that they play their own instruments so when they're no longer the flavor of the month they can still do their own thing. I imagine that we may end up getting the album for Duncan since they do sound like other youth-oriented bands he likes.

Women Who Rock Magazine: An interesting idea but they don't give away enough content to make me want to get them at the newsstand (that might be hard here in Oklahoma anyway). It sounds like a good mag that you should look into whereever you get your local magazines.

Lady Six String: The site lists as your on-line guide to the female guitarist and it seems to fit the bill. I haven't had much of a chance to look around much but I did want to mention it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Last Weekend - Integris Picnic and Two Movies

"I never knew it would be this much fun," Ryan shouted about a third of the way through the virtual roller coaster ride at the zoo. About 15 seconds later when the roller coaster car was launched off of the track in an impossible arc and then caught back on the track, I heard Ryan shout next to me, "I never knew it would be this much fun!" In total he shouted the phrase about ten times. After the ride both Duncan and Ryan ran up to Tamara (Duncan's mom). She asked how it was and Ryan shouted, "I never knew it would be this much fun!"

This was definitely one of the highlights from the Integris Health company picnic last weekend at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Omniplex interactive science museum. Every year Integris Health has a variety of activities to make people happy that they work here. Every fall they have the company picnic. Last year was at a local amusement park called Frontier City, so this year was at the zoo. In the 7 1/2 years I've been with Integris, they've alternated between these two venues.

The last time they were at the zoo they served BBQ or Lemon/pepper chickcen and had lots of complaints about not having food that kids would want to eat. This year they released the menu early (BBQ or HotDogs) to help convince people it would be better this year.

The event started at 10:00 AM. After getting everyone ready and coordinating the arrival of Duncan's friend Ryan and Tamara's mom (Ellen or Mamaw to most of the kids in her neighborhood), we arrived at the zoo about 10:30 AM. We first looked at snake/lizards exhibit. Both Duncan and Ryan have seen this before, but like most kids they can't get enough of anything involving snakes, lizards, or bugs. With this building they got two out of three so they were pretty pumped.

After that, the boys and Tamara looked at the vultures while I went off to find Ellen and Calvin. They wandered off looking at stuff and now were off in some other part of the zoo. She thought the snake building would exit on the far side but couldn't see where that door was. The problem happens because the snake building is set up in a loop with the beginning and end of the exhibit by the same set of doors. It only took a few minutes to gather the group and head over to the hippo/rhino/elephant building. The boys didn't want to go in because it smelled like the feces of these animals. Lets just say it was a pungent, earthy smell. Well it turns out that only the bird exhibits were occupied as they were cleaning the large animal spaces. It appeared that they still had a lot of cleaning left to do. Actually, I find the farm-based animal smells much easier to deal with than some of the petrochemical processing smells you can run into here in oil country. After leaving the building we looked at the large animals in the outside enclosures and made our way over to the food tents about 11:30 AM.

The food for lunch was pretty good. I had a "huge" chili-dog, potato salad, baked beans, BBQ brisket, and some cookies. They also had chips for people who don't want potato salad (mostly kids). Ryan is a very picky eater. We already knew this so when he sat down with just cookies on his plate, we weren't surprised.

It was at this point that Duncan wanted to go on the virtual roller coaster. Since it was only $3 per person, we said, "OK." Duncan had to nearly drag Ryan onto the ride. But he eventually convinced him. And he actually enjoyed himself. Or in his own words, "I never knew it would be this much fun!"

The rest of our time was spent at the Omniplex. The Omniplex is an interactive science museum geared to kids but still pretty fun for adults (or at least the geeky ones). I stayed with Duncan and Ryan while Tamara and Ellen guided Calvin's experience. The older boys (older meaning 7) went from exhibit to exhibit with the attention span of . . . Well, a seven-year-old. And then they discovered a staircase and wanted to go up it. I knew this was a mistake because none of the exhibits on the second floor were interactive. I let them go up anyway because otherwise they would whine about the unknown mysteries I was denying them. Of course, they became bored pretty quickly. Even the astronaut waste disposal display couldn't keep their attention. They could have made this interactive, but it probably would have offended someone. Still, I can see it now, "Come one! Come all! See the wonders of zero-gravity personal hygene at the amazing SPACE CRAPPER!" It could be the hit of the museum.

We hooked back up with the other group near the snack bar. Ellen took the older boys to the gift shop while Tamara and I shared a Diet Coke and some nachos. When they were done exchanging money for cheap plastic we left and went back to our house.

But the day wasn't over yet. Oh no. We had time to go and see a movie. Tamara decided she didn't want to go so it was just me and the older boys racing to make the 3:15 showing of "School Of Rock." We got there, got the kid's packs of popcorn, soda, and candy, found our seats and only missed a couple of the opening commercials.

I probaby shouldn't have said anything but I turned to Duncan and said, "Now be careful and don't do anything to spill your kid's pack." Within a minute he turned to me to open his candy and dumped the whole thing on the floor. I have to admit that I was instantly livid. I was able to grab the box and cup before anything happened to them and I went immediately back to the concession stand where I told them my child tripped on the way to his seat (not exactly the truth but an easy to understand event that probably happens often at the theater), and asked if they could refill the containers. They could and did. It's important to have the paper products with you when you try this because most of these places only inventory the paper and not the actual food. So everything was made right and I calmed down as the movie started.

"School Of Rock" is a cute movie definitely written to showcase Jack Black. Even though it has a very linear story and is manically plot driven to the final "Battle of the bands" showdown, both Jack Black and director Richard Linklater create a slacker fantasy where a "differently motivated" person can succeed against every status quo of our society. The fantasy part involves large plot holes and reality inconsistencies that would sink this kind of plan in the real world and land Black's character in jail. If you can suspend disbelief long enough to root for Black, and the kids, you'll see a pretty enjoyable movie. And don't leave during the credits because important and funny things happen.

After the movie we took Ryan home and then ate diner at Fazoli's. I'm not sure what's more bland; the sauce, the noodles or the meatballs.

On Sunday Duncan and I went back to the Unitarian Church with a stop off at The Hungry Frog for breakfast. This year Duncan's Religious Education (RE) class is covering "Heroes of the Bible." It would make my mother proud. Of course, these heroes are given a very Unitarian Universalist slant.

After church Tamara and I went to see "Lost in Translation" with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. This was a great movie, but then again I think a lot of introspective movies are pretty good. Some people would be bored but they can go see Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) in "The Rundown." There's talk that Bill Murray may get an Oscar nod for this film. And on a purely male note, Scarlett Johansson goes through parts of the movie in a long-sleeved shirt and panties. And let me tell you, this is a good look on her (and probably most women who aren't too self conscious to try it).

The evening saw us sliding back into our natural rhythms as tomorrow was both a school and work day.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Jim's Big Ego Supports Music Sharing. . .

and you should support them. They are a great band that sent me this e-mail (that I am reprinting below). These guys are very good and confident that by letting you get some of their music for free you'll see how good they are and want to support them with your hard earned cash.

Hey Egomaniacs!

That's right - Jim's Big Ego will not sue you for downloading and sharing
our music. We won't subpoena your 12 year-old daughter. We won't accuse your
luddite grandmother. We will not lobby Congress to throw you in jail. And we
will not punish you for wanting to listen to our music.

That's because we own the rights to our songs. We release our music by
ourselves. And we believe that we have the right to encourage you to share
our music with your friends without fear of retribution from us or anyone

To prove our point, our most recent release - THEY'RE EVERYWHERE! - has been
licensed under a Creative Commons NonCommercial-ShareAlike attribution,
which unlike a traditional (c)opywright, gives you official permission to
share our music as long as it is not for commercial purposes. To read more
about Creative Commons and their noble mission visit:

You can now grab a free MP3 of "Mix Tape" from They're Everywhere! To get
the song, visit

THEY'RE EVERYWHERE! is now available direct from
JBE via secure server in one of three ways:

Order the physical CD - $10.00 + shipping
Download the entire CD - $10.00 (high-quality MP3)
Download individual tracks - $.99/MP3

You can also preview four full-length songs. For more info and to order now,

Looking to get your hands on some Big Ego swag?
CDs, T-shirts, stickers, and Poetry Books all available now at

Jim's Big Ego
"UnPop for the UnPopulous"

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

My weekend without Tamara

Since Tamara is in Denver this weekend at a friend's wedding (second marriage for both of them), I guess I should get off my butt long enough to blog about my weekend with the kids.

Tamara left for Denver about 5 a.m. on Friday. So she wasn't there to take care of Calvin while I got ready for work. Luckily Tamara's Mom, Ellen, came over to watch Calvin for the day. He got to go to the Mall while I had to go to work. Ellen also picked up Duncan after school and took him to his Tae Kwon Do class. After work I picked up Duncan from Karate and went with him, Ellen, Calvin and my Mom, Gayle, to Taste of China. This was a good time to get Chinese Buffet because Tamara was out of town (she's not all that fond of Chinese Buffets). After that we did our nightly ritual of TV, baths, reading and bed.

Saturday I decided to take Duncan to the Oklahoma State Fair. This was the second-to-last day of the fair and we hadn't taken Duncan yet. At 13 months old, Calvin can take or leave the fair. My Mom volunteered to watch the baby so we could go on some rides if we wanted to. Calvin, of course, had a grand old time with his Nana Gayle, MaMaw (Ellen) and G.G. (my grandmother and Duncan's and Calvin's Great Grandmother - That's where G.G. comes from). They played at the house and went to IHOP for lunch where Calvin ate a whole pancake. After lunch Ellen drove to Texas to visit with relatives that drove in from Tennessee to see other relatives already in Texas.

Duncan and I had to renew the tag on Tamara's car before hitting the fair so we didn't get there until about 10:45. We took a lap around 14 flags plaza to get a feel for the place and noticed that the space tower rides were free this year. The space tower goes up a couple of hundred feet and with Oklahoma City being pretty flat, you could see quite a lot of the city. After that we went to the "Made In Oklahoma" building. This year they had converted most of the building into a kid-friendly farm-based exhibit called Agtropolis. They had several areas where you could watch baby chickens hatch from eggs as well as full grown chickens wandering around doing chicken things (eating, pooping, and not thinking about their eventual fate of being dismembered and eaten). There were also several types of rabbits and goats, two cows and a calf and some pigs. The highlight of the show was an exhibit about bugs with many varieties of large spiders and hissing cockroaches. Duncan also liked watching the cows pull hay off of a bale and eat it. He petted a sleeping pig but didn't hang around there too long because of the smell. I was wondering about why they didn't have any information about the eventual fate of these cows, pigs, and chickens. Wouldn't it be interesting for kids to know how a chicken becomes a nugget or a cow becomes a hamburger - with full-color photos from real processing facilities.

After Agtropolis we went to the International Trade Center building. This is one of the more interesting buildings at the fair since its roof is held up by air pressure, it's basically a large inflatable building with airlock-type doors to keep the air pressure higher on the inside. The building mainly had lots of stuff for sale. Tracey, Tamara's friend that was driving up to Denver with her, requested that I buy her a "wooden necktie" from one of the vendors in this building. It was only five dollars and she regretted not buying it when she was at the fair a few days before. From here we got lunch (Duncan had a corn dog and I had a gyro) and then went to the Centennial Building where Duncan bought a copy of Metroid Prime from the Game X Change booth. This pretty much made the day worthwhile for Duncan. After this we dropped by the booth for 105.3 KSYY (the alternative station in Oklahoma City). It was unmanned on a Saturday at the State Fair of Oklahoma - good way to promote that station.

And now it was mule time. We walked down to the State Fair Arena where the World Mule show was going to happen - but not until 7 p.m. When we got there, about 1 p.m., they were grading the dirt to make it smoother for the mules. We went to the far end of the arena where the stables are located and found a co-worker of mine, Bruce, who raises mules with his wife Chris. The most interesting thing we saw was all of the people in equestrian riding gear sitting on mules. Being of a certain age my primary impression of mules has someone like the Gunsmoke character Festus riding on one.

The arena was right next to the Midway. Duncan wanted to go on lots of rides and I was willing to accommodate him, except for one thing. The armbands you could buy and ride all of the rides were only sold Monday through Friday - and this was Saturday. After looking at a few of the rides and seeing how much the tickets were, I figured that it would cost us about $7.50 per ride. Since many of the rides were duplicates of rides at Frontier City, where Duncan already has a season pass, I convinced him to find one ride and we'd get the others the next time we went to the amusement park. Well he picked The Twister. As the name suggests this ride whips you around in circles for several minutes and then it's over. Since we had just eaten lunch I didn't think my stomach was quite ready for that ride. So we went over to the Modern Living Building. Right next to this building is the KSYY booth that was still unmanned. Tamara asked me if I would get her a bumper sticker for the radio station. But with the lack of anyone at the booth, this request was becoming harder to fill.

In the Modern Living Building we saw tons of stuff we could live without and got some free rulers from the AFL-CIO. After this we went back to the Midway and rode The Twister. Duncan had fun on the ride but admitted that it was a rip-off for $7.50 ($3.75 each). We decided it was time for a snack and Duncan got Cotton Candy and I got a funnel cake. Since there really wasn't anything else we wanted to do at the fair we went to the O'Brien's karaoke restaurant, next to the KSYY booth to wait and see if anyone ever showed up to represent the radio station. We stayed about 35 minutes eating our snacks and listening to some very bad singers. Some of them even had the event videotaped - possibly so it could be used against them in court. Duncan got pretty excited by one song though. As we were leaving what looked like a fifth grader got up on stage and started belting out "The Girl All The Bad Guys Want" by Bowling For Soup. This is one of Duncan's favorite songs so we had to go back and listen as this boy butchered his way through it.

And still no one was at the KSYY booth. Well, we gave up and went home, where we had leftovers for dinner and the usual TV, baths, reading and bed.

On Sunday I let Duncan sleep late - Calvin did not let me sleep late. I was up and around by 6:30. The only benefit was that I could read the Sunday Paper before the day got going. My mom came over about 11:30 and took Calvin to lunch again and I took Duncan to a Birthday party at 66 Bowl. I did a little bowling but couldn't quite get the strikes or spares needed to break 100. Duncan bowled ok but all of the kids had the gutters converted to bumpers to increase the amount of pins knocked down. When I bowled as a kid I don't think they had that as an option. It's been a long time since I went bowling and the entire place was set up more like an interactive video game than what I remember as "bowling." The lane had automatic conversion from adult (with gutters) to kids (without gutters), Video score keeping that automatically told you how many pins you knocked over and also auto-scored things like spares and strikes (spares and strikes get bonus points based on the next ball, for spares, or frame, for strikes). They even had extra video stuff that would play if you knocked 8 or more pins down or if you got a split. It was pretty interesting and the kids had a great time.

After the bowling party Duncan's friend Ryan came over and they played for several hours. Calvin was ready for a nap and so was I. We both slept for about an hour and a half while the boys whacked at each other with plastic swords in the yard, played Soul Calibur II or Metroid Prime or danced around to music in Duncan's room. Eventually we took Ryan to Little Caesar's Pizza - Ryan's a picky eater and Pizza is one of only three things I know that he'll eat. We ended up at Ryan's house where he and Duncan played the Playstation 2 version of Soul Calibur II (each platform has one character that is special to that version; GameCube has Link, Xbox has Spawn and Playstation 2 has Heihechi from the game Tekken). So now Duncan has played all of the special characters for Soul Calibur II and is a happy camper. When we got home we went through the bath, reading, bed ritual but didn't do any TV since we got home so late from Ryan's house.

Monday was a normal school day for Duncan and I took off work to watch Calvin. My mom also took off work so I took advantage of the extra person to get stuff like dishes and laundry done around the house. That way Tamara wouldn't have to return to a house in shambles. My mom even made us baked chicken with new potatoes and baked beans for dinner (aren't moms great). Tamara finally got home about 10 pm and our lives could get back to normal - or as normal as they can get with us living in it.