“It’s Me or the Monkey.”

The marriage of German pop star Werner Boehm is in shambles after he moved a monkey into his home. The 10-year-old female baboon can reportedly play the piano and appeared in one of Boehm’s videos. His wife, Susanne, moved out after he allowed the monkey to share their bed. She made him choose between the monkey or her, and he chose the monkey. “It’s incredibly painful to know that some baboon is more important to him than I am,” she said. It’s all part of an important lesson — never underestimate a monkey.

The Ellinwood Leader

Tonight I had the opportunity — no, the honor — of reading the noble publication that is The Ellinwood Leader. It began in 1878 as The Ellinwood Express and continues to this day as a weekly newspaper of the booming metropolis of Ellinwood, Kans. Non-Kansas residents can get their own three-month subscription for $9.41, a six-month subscription for $18.81, or a yearly subscription for $26.64. Foreign subscriptons are available for $25 per year. (Call 620-564-3116 or write to The Ellinwood Leader, Box 487, Ellinwood, KS 67526-0487)

Of the many great articles I read tonight, this one about a recent Ellinwood School Board meeting caught my eye:

“The January meeting of the Ellinwood School Board Dist 355 contained numerous reports on various items. One major discussion compared the Powerschool program to the ProStar program. Both are for grade, scheduling and administration of school with access for the parents.

“It was presented that ProStar advantages over a new program was simply it was a program already in place. Those using it were familiar with it. It was presented that it did not have as flexible a grade book and could not create a cumulative grade for the student at anytime in the semester. Teachers cannot add comments and observations to the assignments or grades. All teachers have full access to the files and might be able to erase them. It operates on a Windows 2000 system and all updates have not been siccessful (sic).

“It was presented that Powerschool allows teachers to have access to making comments as well as grades. Cross-platform, web based design allows for both PC and Mac computers to have access. Program updates are done over the Internet. Grades may be sent to parents on a regular basis automatically. Parents may have impact on creating their student’s schedules.”

If you continue to page 5, you can learn more about the meeting, including the long-anticipated results of a technology survey, which determined that “almost all students had a computer at home and many had Internet available.” The article also reported that “comments on the survey included a few who saw no need for technology to be taught in school. Others thought more technology was necessary.”

It goes without saying that I’ll be bringing as many copies of The Ellinwood Leader home as I can.

On the Road Again

I’m writing this in Great Bend, Kans., sitting in the only home my parents now own. After more than a year and a half in re-married limbo — and owning up to three homes at once during that time — they’re finally into one home and finished with all the moving and back and forth.

Yesterday my parents closed on the house I grew up in, after almost 25 years. We moved in when I was five weeks old. While West Bloomfield will always be home, you truly can’t go home again.

The family that bought the house had two boys, the oldest named Ricky. It doesn’t get much freakier than that.

I was the last one to leave the house, after I searched the cupboards one last time and swept out the basement and the garage. It was a nonevent. I kept thinking it would be nostalgic, but it just never was. I kept wishing I had a secret place in my bedroom or in the basement somewhere where I had hidden something as a child. You know, a favorite toy hidden in the ductwork, or a piece of paper slipped into the attic access hatch. But alas, I was never that adventurous (or stupid) as a kid.

We rolled out unceremoniously and began the long carivan trip across five states with my parents’ Explorer and a 27-foot moving van packed full with less than half their crap.

My favorite road-side sighting was a billboard touting Tree of Life, “the most beautiful Christian bookstore in Missouri.” Sadly, we didn’t have time to stop.

Side by Side

Well, I haven’t had the time to get the smart media card reader working, but I couldn’t resist posting the picture anyway (I e-mailed it from the PC to the Mac – eh, it works).

In 12 minutes I take off for Michigan. Well, take off for the bus that takes me to the airport that takes me to Chicago that takes me to Michigan. I’ll be helping my parents move. I realized late last night (I never sleep well before big trips) that this will be my last time to go home. This is the house I grew up in. It’s as old as I am.

And I wanted one last chance to say goodbye to my new toy. ;-)

A Brave New World

As of this sentence, I am a Mac user.

So far it’s been enlightening. My old PC and new Mac are sharing the same desk, sitting side by side, and it’s kind of funny. The Mac definitely kicks the HP’s butt, and not simply because one’s new. My 17 inch display is a work of art. The 17 inch HP monitor is, well, just a monitor.

While the aesthetic experience has been amazing, the practical side of things is going to take a little getting used to. I haven’t had much time to play with anything yet, but I’ve run into two problems.

1) While my e-mail was set up before I even realized it, I haven’t been able to get the message rules to work so Abby’s e-mail is moved to her own folder.

2) I took a picture of my PC/Mac desk and hoped to post it here today, but no luck. The direct approach, plugging our Smart Media card reader into the Mac and accessing it like another disk drive didn’t work. I tried installing the drivers, no luck. I tried going to Lexar’s web site, and discovered that the Smart Media card reader is discontinued, and that the only drivers available were for OS 8.x, which might be my problem. There are other solutions, including putting the pictures on my PC and hooking up my ZIP drive and transferring the photo that way, or networking the PC and Mac and transferring that way, but at this point it will all take too much time. It’s late and I was just hoping for some quick fun.

It’s nothing I’m chalking against the Mac — after all, I’m dealing with a lot of old PC peripherals. You can’t expect them all to work seamlessly. Though it would have been really cool if they did. As for the mail thing, I’ll just have to figure that out.

And I would access my many sources of free Mac help, but time is against me. Alas, tomorrow I go out of town for a week (!) and my new Mac will sit lonely and unused (at least by me — after leaving it alone this evening for a few hours I came home to find it already in use. Hmm… perhaps this is a perk worth raising the rent?).

So come back next week for the continuing saga of Kevin’s Switch story. So far there have been a few bumps, which is to be expected, but all in all, I’m going to need to invest in a drool rag.

Addendum: My wife and I are now surfing the same web site and the same time side by side. How goofy is that? (of course I’m on the Mac! hehehe)

Book Parade

I spent some time at Barnes & Noble last night, wishing I had more time to read books. Lately a few goodies have caught my eye:

Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents – A few weeks back I was doing research for some magazine content and I was reading all about former U.S Presidents. I was getting into some fascinating stuff, like who died in office and the no-name presidents nobody ever remembers. At the time I thought someone should write an accessible history book full interesting facts about former Presidents. Well, this book is it. It’s written in a tongue-in-cheek style, with plenty of magazine-like sidebars. It’s a quick read and pretty fun. I was actually tempted to buy a brand new copy at Barnes & Noble (ah! blasphemy). Thankfully I didn’t. $16.95 at B&N, $11.87 at Amazon.

The End of Detroit – This business-oriented book covers the recent downfall of the Big Three automotive manufacturers as they face stiff competition from foreign rivals. It’s especially interesting since my dad worked for Ford and I’ve seen a lot of what the book talks about happening. The last car I bought was a foreign car, primarily because of quality.

On Target – I actually checked this one out from the library so I could read more than the first chapter. It’s an analysis of Target and how the discount retailer has captured the cheap chic market. And it’s the first time I’ve seen the “Tarzshay” pronounciation in print.

Making Dough – Why stop at eating Krispy Kremes when you can read about them? This is the story of what makes Krispy Kreme so amazing and why the brand has taken off in the last ten years.

The Real Thing: Truth and Power at the Coca-Cola Company – For some reason I’m always interested in books about the history of Coke. A while ago I picked up For God, Country, and Coca-Cola used, though I haven’t gotten around to reading that one either.

So many books, so little time.

This is why I write.

Despite my earlier whining, I still didn’t get much done today. Sometimes you just have to give in.

I spent this afternoon converting my old entries to the new Movable Type system. It’s not exactly glamorous work, but it does give me a chance to read through some of my old entries.

I went through a curious period, but in between all the narcissistic and self-absorbed rants about the church, faith, society, and patriotism, there was a lot going on. This was a period when my grandpa died, I found out a good friend was anorexic and had attempted suicide, I learned of the death of a high school classmate, and my parents remarried, among other things. For part of that time we held our breath whenever the phone rang.

While I blabbered on about wanting to write a book every few months, I stumbled across some interesting fiction writing, much of it based on what I was going through. Much of that fiction hits me now in a much deeper way. Those fiction exercises worth noting include one inspired by my grandfather’s death, an older one written in response to my ex-girlfriend losing her mom, and a plethora of writings about anorexia (1, 2, 3, and 4).

This is why I write. Not for you, but for me.

A Day of No Accomplishments

It’s 12:43 and what have I got to show for it? I’ve accomplished next to nothing today. I was pulled out of bed too early to help my wife get the car out of the driveway without sliding into our rock retaining wall. I went back to bed for an hour or so of that half-asleep state, and then spent two hours chiseling hardened snow off the driveway so I won’t have to get up at 6:55 and try to push the Jetta uphill.

After breakfast, checking the e-mail and news, it’s late. I booted up the laptop, made a phone call, and crossed one item off my list — but only because it was pushed back a few weeks.

Then I started searching Google and Amazon trying to chase down a book idea. I scoured my harddrive for any applicable notes, then started searching through my old blog entries. Then I forgot the book idea and just started reading old entries.

Now I’m writing about it all and it’s 12:47. What a day.