Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kansas Vanity Plates

Kansas, it turns out, was allowing each county in the state to issue vanity plates with the same license plate number, the only difference being the county designation shown in small letters in the upper corner.

Wisely, law enforcement has convinced the state this should be stopped, so the state is recalling all duplicate plates, allowing only the person who has had the plate the longest to keep it.

This gives us a unique opportunity to see what plates were most popular in the state of Kansas. Interested? Here they are, followed by the number of counties that had issued that plate:


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pre-Christmas Troy

 When these photos were taken last Sunday, Troy was 8 weeks and 2 days old. He's coming right along, this boy!
He was feeling a little under the weather the previous Friday, so we decided to go to David and Lucy's for Sunday dinner instead of making Troy travel. He was awake and alert and ready to play! Well, as much as an 8 week on can play.
 I call this one "Skeptical Troy"...maybe he's still skeptical about the camera. Lucy says he's sleeping for six hour stretches at night now, much better than the 2 hours he was doing at Thanksgiving.
 He was very fidgety this particular evening and we were having a hard time getting him to be still for even an instant for photos. But we managed to get a few really good ones - these are my favorite photos of Troy yet.
 We bought dinner at Olive Garden and brought it over with us so nobody had to cook...we could all just enjoy the evening...and we did.
 Eventually we all moved to the floor so Troy could stretch out on a blanket. At this point, he is able to hold his head up, turn his head, and track objects with his eyes. I held up the camera case and made it bob across his line of sight, and he tracked it very well back and forth several times.
 David said he was imitating the cooing sounds that Lucy was making earlier in the day, so he starting to communicate more too. He doesn't have much control of his arms and legs yet, but it is obvious he is trying....that development will be fun to watch in the next few weeks.
One last photo before Troy had his dinner....he is very photogenic and a natural born poser...just like his Lucy, David, and my wife. Hmmm...I guess I'm the only one in the family who missed the posing gene... Anyway, hopefully we'll get more photos at Christmas....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thanksgiving: Troy at 1 Month

 Time for a Troy update! He brought his parents over for Thanksgiving dinner and it was surprising how much he had progressed in such a short amout of time. He very clearly uses his eyes to track and watch things...we're not sure how clearly he sees, but he definitely knows he is looking at something.
 Here is Lucy with her son. She is such a loving mother that we have no doubt that Troy is going to grow up in the best possible environment. It is also fun to see how just the sound of her voice sooths him and makes him feel secure.
 Grandma (we still don't like the sound of that) is just as tickled as Lucy and holds Troy at every opportunity. It won't be long before Troy will know his grandparents by sight and voice also...we're working on it!
 All these photos are from Thanksgiving, but they also brought Troy over last night...we have re-started the tradition my folks had with us...having us over every Sunday for dinner. It works well on many levels...we get to see Troy, they get out of the house for awhile, and Lucy gets a night where she doesn't have to make dinner. Everyone wins!
 Our son Ron came down for Thanksgiving and was able to see and hold his nephew for the first time...he was so thrilled...he's very into children.
 Troy is still not sleeping through the night, getting up roughly every two hours. Lucy is trying a new strategy by keeping him up as long as possible during the evening. Last night we all chipped in...he woke up at 6 PM when they came over, and working as a team we were able to keep him awake until almost 8:30 before there was no stopping those eyes from closing. He was a very good kid even when he got crying, no fussing, just a gentle drift off into the land of harps and sheep...
Good night, Troy. See you on the other side.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Edgar Winter

I forgot to mention it, but about 3 weeks ago I opened up the paper Friday morning and there staring me in the face was a small ad..."Edgar Winter Saturday Night at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts". WHAT?

Not many people know this, but I am a big fan of Edgar's "They Only Come Out At Night" album from the 1970s. It has a couple of excellent well-known songs (Frankenstein and Free Ride) but it also has many great obscure songs.

So I rushed the paper over to my wife and said "we're going to this tomorrow night!" and she smiled. So we did. Now it was a very unusual concert in a very unusual venue. The place is designed with plays and classical music in mind, not necessary rock acts. So the feeling was very...stiff and formal. And the crowd was all 40ish and 50ish couples with a few 40ish to 50ish dads with their sons in tow.

We got seats in the first row of the balcony and had an excellent view of the whole show...there were only about 200 people there by my estimate.

There were no frills. No fog, no backdrop, no colored lights. It was a stage and a few white lights and that was it. It wasn't even that loud in there.

I was a little disappointed in that Edgar mostly played things off his new release, Rebel Road. He played very little of his older stuff, except for the obligatory aforementioned Frankenstein and Free Ride. But seeing him perform Frankenstein was worth the price of admission alone, so if I had to do it over again I surely would.

Edgar wore his traditional long black coat with large metal buttons. But I was in for a few surprises. First, he is now over 60 so his tall lanky body is very can see it in every movement. Second, he wore sneakers instead of black boots with a tall heel as I would have expected. And third, Mr. Edgar Winter talks with a Texas accent! All these years and I did not know he lives in Texas. He talked about playing the dive bars in Texas and said he is known as the "Texas Tornado", which he said with a classic Texan drawl.

In any case, a good show. But not a great show. Worth it for Frankenstein alone.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cage the Elephant

All right folks, it is here. My vote for album of the year...Cage the Elephant! If you have any taste at all for Jet with a splash of Smash Mouth, Nirvana and maybe a little Beck, then you have to try this one on for size. Here's a little ear candy from the album for you:

...and if you liked that, you had better lay an ear on "Ain't no Rest for the Wicked"...mmmmm

Friday, November 13, 2009

You can tell it's Friday the 13th

Here is a man with his new Bugatti Veyron of which there are fewer than 100 in the United States. He is in Texas on his way to tour a high-end property to purchase. The Bugatti costs over $1.5 million US dollars.

And oh yes, that is salt water, he left the engine running and the door open when he exited the vehicle.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Troy at 19 Days Old

 David and Lucy brought our grandson over for his first visit to our home on Sunday. Troy was but 19 days old. We had a pot roast for dinner and David promptly fell asleep in my chair holding his son.
 I'm well known in the family as the Camera Man, so a little invasion of privacy on my part is expected. It's worth it to capture magic moments like these.
 Troy is a gorgeous, quiet, sleepy kid at this point. Dave and Lucy assure me that he knows how to use his lungs when there is something he needs, but he's been quite restful when I've seen him.
 Very peaceful. Shhhhhhh!
 My goal for the evening was to try and capture his eyes. No one is quite sure yet what color they are. Although I caught him with his eyes open a few times, they were not open wide enough to determine.  And I'm not going to blind him with super bright lights.
  Like the rest of the family, Troy has his limits on how long he'll continue to be a good model for my camera. But as we soon discover, there was someone we had forgotten to tell about the new addition to the family. She did not discover it all through dinner (while Troy slept), but right about now she figured it out....
Yes, Marcy began to suspect we had more that just laundry in our arms. We were cradling something...but what was it?

And here she discovers it. A baby! Marcy was delighted and oh so curious.
She continued to inch forward and get as close as we would allow. She was dying to get to know the baby.
 Troy, on the other hand, kept one eye on the strange bald man with the camera.
 And, after he had eaten his dinner, Troy quickly needed to return to napping. Here he is about to tell us that.
 My wife was able to get Troy to relax, and Marcy took the opportunity to sneak another peek.
 She was so gentle around the baby.
 Once she figured out that we were keeping her away from Troy, she tried to settle down and keep her distance.
But you can see on her face she's just doing it to make us happy. She would love nothing more than to cuddle the baby herself.
 Ooops! Naptime is approaching! Notice Marcy's nose in the lower right...she wanted to do anything she could to comfort Troy. She's such a good girl.
 A little bit of rocking while standing calmed Troy right down....
 ...he throws one more suspicious stare at the Camera Man....
....and he slowly drifts off to sleep, secure in the knowledge that all he has to do is call 1-800-508-0000 for a good lawyer (see TV in background). Thanks Dave and Lucy for bringing Troy by! We had a great time!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Halloween Ball at the Hard Rock Casino

We attended the Fetish & Fantasy Halloween Ball at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas....what fun! Next year, we think we'll go again...but just hang out. We don't think we'll buy tix to the was way too crowded inside, but from the casino floor we could see all the great costumes. Here is Nikki as St. Pauli Girl....

I had Lederhosen (which I did wear), but I looked much better in my horns and fu man chu...I used this look Fri night and all day Sat...we went to the pool during the day on Sat, so I lounged poolside in a swimsuit, sunglasses, and horns. A lot of ppl got a kick out of it...a lot of fun!

Here's Nikki again in our hotel room at the Venetian. Very nice room, but waaay too much gold color in there for us! We prefer more of a modern look.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Troy Andrew Barker

 This is Troy Andrew Barker's first look around at his brave new world, the first time light hit his retinas and he realized he can see. He was born to David and Lucy Barker at 4 AM on October 23rd, 2009 at Palomar Hospital in Escondido, CA. I am now a grandfather. Yikes!
 A hospital is very quiet at 4 AM, and Troy did not disturb the peace. He came into this world very quietly.
 Lucy had a difficult time with childbirth since she has a tiny, under 5 foot frame. Troy weighed in at 7 pounds 10 ounces, two ounces over average. As of right now, mother and baby are resting comfortably in the hospital and are likely to go home on Saturday morning.
My wife missed the excitement as she was on company travel. Me, I waited patiently in the wee hours of the morning in the birthing lobby, watching KPBS. Classical music was being aired - it was Gustavo Dudamel, at the far left of the screen, as the new conductor of the Los Angeles Symphony. Here's to hoping that Troy too is a classic.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Labor

Apparently David and Lucy are at the hospital right now, with Lucy in labor. I'm going to grab a bite to eat and head on over. I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Top 10 Best Rock Albums Ever

I've finally succumbed to that malest of traits: making a list of my favorite music. The trait has been well documented in popular culture, most notably in the movie High to prove I'm male, here is my list. Note I did make two rules: to make it into the top 10, the album had to be at least 10 years old. The reason is that I think it takes ten years to determine if a recording has staying power, ie does it withstand the test of time? Second, I have to still listen to it on occasion. If it just sits on the shelf, well it must not be that special to me. The ten albums in this post have withstood that test and still make it into my CD player. In alphabetical order:

Jethro Tull's Aqualung (1971) is undeniably a classic in my book. The songs are unique, they are very memorable, and it lyrically says things that noone else dares say. Since the first time I heard Aqualung in 1975, I really related and latched on to it. To this day, I listen to it at least a few times a year. It warms my heart. In a weird way.

Okay, I admit it. I was a teenager when AC/DC's Back in Black (1980) came out. I was full of raging hormones, and this album fed every last one of them. It is one of those albums where I have to be in a very special mood to listen to - a heavy partying mood! But I do still listen to it on ocassion...not that I have to dig it out. It is still played quite regularly on the radio and at clubs. Apparently I'm not the only one who loves it.

Apparently America agrees with me on this one, too. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (1973) stayed on the charts longer than any other album ever. And that's saying something. Several on the songs on here (Money, Us and Them, Time) are still very regularly heard in daily life. For good reason. They are excellent. I want to give honorable mention to another Pink Floyd albums that holds a special place in my heart: The Wall (1979). Anyone who was in their late teens when it came out probably can relate.

Now this one will probably surprise you. This probably makes it onto very few Top 10 lists. But I think Brian Setzer's Dirty Boogie (1998) is stunning. It is fun, classic, enjoyable music that always make me want to get up and dance. My wife and I started listening to this when our kids became older and we started getting our evenings free again. That may be one of the reasons I really like it. In any case, it just barely makes it past my "10 year" more albums make it past, this top 10 list may change. To see who future challengers may be, look at the top 20 list.

Any teenager from the 1970s will have no qualms with this selection. Led Zepplin IV (1971) is universally loved and garners and understanding head-nod from persons of my vintage - no explanation needed. An interesting note for the younger crowd: when we used to buy this album on vinyl (gasp! yes we bought actual records), almost EVERY ONE of these damned things were warped. If it wasn't warped when we bought it, it was within six months. We never did figure out why, but it ensured we bought many a copy of Led IV, as it is affectionately called. Honorable Mention: Zepplin's In Through The Out Door (1979).

Thin Lizzy's Live and Dangerous (1978) is an often overlooked gem. This album has some very fast, moving, hard rocking songs like Jailbreak, Rosalie/Cowboy's Song, and of course The Boys are Back in Town. And it has some very slow, moving ballads such as Dancing in the Moonlight and Still in Love with You.

While raising my kids, I really didn't have time to listen to music much. But a little band called Nirvana caught my attention on TV one night, and it was addiction at first sight. I bought everything I could get my hands on of theirs. I didn't fall for grunge so much as I fell for this one grunge band. Big Time. Because of it's uniqueness, timelessness, and sheer musical beauty I nominate Nirvana's Nevermind (1991) to my top 10 list.

I struggled for awhile on this one. I could not make a top 10 without Queen. But Queen's best stuff is littered over 5 or 6 albums. I narrowed it down to two: Queen's Jazz (1978) is excellent, but it was beat by a nose by A Night At The Opera (1975) which probably marks their zenith...especially due to the inclusion of Bohemian undeniable classic. Oh, and a third great album is The Game (1980) even with it's heavy disco influence...and News Of The World (1977), and...see my delimna?
 I can narrow down my all-time favorite album to one of three.  Aqualung, listed at the top of this post, is one of them. Steely Dan's Pretzel Logic (1974) is another. I can't explain why this album speaks to me so loudly - it just does. Perhaps part of it is because I discovered it after my family had moved across the country in my mid-teens and I was lonely. Maybe it is because the music really is that good. I'll probably never be able to look at P.L. in an unbiased way, but no matter. It is definitely in my top three.
And the third? The album I wasted a great deal of my youth listening to. I was known far and wide as the largest Aerosmith fan in Stillwater, OK. My claim to fame in those years. And my favorite of all Aerosmith albums is Toys in the Attic (1975). I have this album memorized from start to end and can play it in my mind at will. Not sure if I'm proud of that or not. In any case, honorable mention goes to two other Aerosmith albums that are a close second and third in my Aerosmith favorites: Rocks (1976) and Get Your Wings (1974) which is an oft-overlooked gem.

So there it is. My top 10 as of October 21, 2009. Subject to change. Void where prohibited.