Friday, November 16, 2007

Daddyshack Remodeled

Look how clean the floors are now! All of the laundry is put away and the dishes are done, too! OK, my nose is growing. What did happen occurred when a giant forklift came in the middle of the night, picked the shack up off it's blocks, and set it down on it's new foundation here.

Moving on up like George and Weezie!

In my quest to become a Joomla! master, I transformed Daddyshack from a blog to a website with new features and content. It's still a work in progress but it's almost complete. I'll be adding all of the blog/site links here on the right column and set many of them up as feeds. There will be a news feed, video gallery, photo gallery, and a page listing all of the Interviews from the Daddyshack, a fun interview format for dads to express some of their thoughts on fatherhood that I do for my column at Quirkee.com

The new URL is a page on my jamesgrayson.com photography site but you can reach it by using daddyshack.net and daddyshack.us. The daddyshack.com URL is being squatted on until 2014 unless I can make him an offer he can't refuse. Don't wait here while I don't hold my breath!

I'll continue to keep this Blogger page here for redirection indefinitely in case you forget to change your links. Just remember, you won't have as much fun here as you will in the newly remodeled Daddyshack with it's bamboo wood floors, slate tiled bathrooms, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, hot tub, wet bar...

Thank you all for reading here and I hope to see you over there!

James

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Sixth Day Itch

My Dad called me earlier and said he was having withdrawal because I haven't posted anything here in almost a week. I've been working on some web stuff, learning new things, and reading the computer screen until my eyes start to roll up into the back of my head. Be on the lookout for something new to appear here soon.

So in an effort to keep what readers I do have amused, I thought I'd share this photo with you. Those of you with children that can walk have surely seen something like this before, right? Those of you with babies, you have been warned.

Keep all sharp things out of your little toddlers reach. This includes Sharpies.



And remember, if it's too quiet in the other room then they are up to no good.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thoughts from my Desk: 11/09/2007

My son has a messed up internal alarm clock this week. Normally I have to go in and poke on him to get him out of bed in time to get dressed, eat breakfast, and brush his teeth before we have to leave for school. Wednesday morning he awoke at 4:45 am, Thursday it was 4:46 am, and today it was 4:44 am. At least he's consistent.

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Did you know Wonder Pets like celery tacos? They do.

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Time for me to throw some love around. There is a new social networking site that is still in beta but will be going public soon. You may have seen the cre8Buzz ant on my blog with my ranking on it. I'm in 2nd place behind a well deserved front runner, Joeprah. That guy is hilarious. But it's not really a contest over at cre8Buzz, it's just a cool place for you to create a page, promote your blogs and sites, and discover other ones that you may have been missing in the vortex of the Web. The guys over at cre8Buzz started the site to bring writers, bloggers, cartoonists, hobbyists, photographers, and others together in a community. I still have invites to join if you don't want to wait until they open the doors to the general public. Leave a comment if interested in jumping in the Buzz.

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Canon is giving away a sweet gear package for their Photography in the Parks Photo Contest. A fellow forum member on a site I frequent these days is one of the finalists with this awesome photo of a salamander -

Salamander Silhouette


Stop on over to check out the other finalists and vote! The other photos are great, too, but that salamander rocks! Click that photo or the link above it to get there. You can also see more of Scott's awesome work by clicking on his name above.

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I'm going deer hunting for the first time today and tomorrow. My neighbor and I are heading out to the Hill Country to their family ranch. I should be able to get some clean shots in around sunset and sunrise - with my Nikon. I'm not much of gun hunter so I'll leave the killing to him and target shoot with my 18-200mm lens while enjoying some cold brews. I haven't had a night without the kids in a long time. Should be nice and quiet (between gunshots) out there!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Interviews from the Daddyshack: Ed Lamaze

Next in the series of Interviews from the Daddyshack is Ed Lamaze. I first met him on the DadStaysHome.com forum and quickly discovered his blog titled Zoƫ's Dad. Ed has been an at-home dad for over 6 years. Once an ER nurse, he is now bandaging boo-boos full time at home. With five children, two of them twins, he somehow managed to find time to come into the Daddyshack for an interview. Here is what Ed had to say:

Quirkee logo

Q: Taking on the commitment of an at-home dad is a big decision. What factors contributed to your family's decision?

READ MORE!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

100,000 Reasons to Celebrate

Today was a day that will go down in history. It may not ever make it in a school textbook but it will make it on this blog for the world to remember.

I witnessed one of my vehicles hit the 100,000 mile mark.



"Big deal," you say? Actually, yes it is. If you knew my past history with cars you would understand the significance of this extremely rare and very eagerly celebrated occasion. The anticipation of the 100,000 mile arrival began last week when we took the 2001 Honda Odyssey to the dealership to have the transmission inspected before the warranty expired (faulty year model they extended coverage on to 100k) and to have the 90,000 mile (really the 99,856 mile) service done. After the minivan checked out with a good transmission and some much deserved pampering, my mind started contemplating the beginning of the end of her first 100,000 miles.

Our family did not run up the entire 100k, though. We purchased the van used on eBay back in the Fall of 2004 with about 52,000 miles on it. It sure has seen some good naps, comfortable road trips, and a lot of fun washings with us here in Austin, TX.




This morning on the way to drop off my son at school I noticed the odometer was quickly approaching the historical number. My heart started beating faster and I found myself worrying about not noticing the change from 99,999.9 to 100,000. What if I was moving in traffic or going through a school zone and forgot to look? What if some moronic Austin driver crashed into us and totaled the front end of the van at 99,995 miles and it never ran again? What if...

Thankfully none of that happened. I wrote myself a sticky note that said "Don't forget camera - van at 100k today" and left it by my keys. The big moment was due to arrive on the way home from picking up my son from school or on the way to the gym. I was ready with fresh batteries in my camera. I checked the odometer about every 1/4 mile to make sure it was still working and didn't decide to break or speed up for no good reason. I began to feel nervous. Should I have stopped at Party Pig and bought noisemakers and confetti?
:party2:
About halfway home I realized that this moment of the van hitting 100,000 miles might be even more special that I originally thought. I decided to stop for the mail while she idled gently with her fresh oil and fluids, rotated new tires, and new back brakes. As I pulled into our cove my son was puzzled as to why I was driving laps around it for 2/10 of a mile.



"Because I want her to hit 100,000 miles in the place she has been sleeping at night for the last three years," I said. She also gets pooped on most nights by the mourning doves in the trees above her but I don't tell her that. She thinks it's special that she gets a rinse-off almost every day.

What can I say? Most cars that I've owned were purchased with over 100,000 miles on them and some of the ones that had less I didn't own long enough to witness the event.

And some days it's kind of boring around here so I have to write about something.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Graphical Summary of My Body

Before you all get excited that I am about to go into graphic detail about the parts of my body, let me assure you that kind of information is not what this article is about. I'm sorry to disappoint you. Yesterday I went up to the new health club for my Graphical Summary and Body Age Analysis. This a free session with a personal trainer that you schedule when you join the club and pay them money...

So it's not really free, I guess, but it didn't cost extra!

Now I'm just as curious as the next guy as to what my "body age" really is compared to how many years I've actually been alive and kicking around the planet. I made my appointment for the second day at the club so I could find out how "old" I am before I start exercising on a regular schedule. The session was to last about an hour, which I figured out to be just about the length of time I could take the humiliation I was to receive in front of the entire workout floor.

READ MORE!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Life Time Fitness = A Lifetime of Fun

Last week a new health club/resort spa, Life Time Fitness, finally opened it's doors in South Austin. Since I have decided that it is time to get back in tip-top shape it couldn't have come at a better time. The last time I joined a health club it was about ten years ago in my mid 20's. We had no children then and my schedule was work late, stay up later, sleep late, go to the gym, rinse and repeat. Like a lot of people, the "go to the gym" part of the day eventually morphed into "sleep later" instead.

But Life Time Fitness is much more than a gym. It's a water park, basketball and rock climbing gym, with racquetball, squash, Yoga, Pilates, spin classes, lap pools, hot tubs, saunas, a cafe and hair/nail salon, a huge children's area with 2-hours a day of childcare included, swimming lessons, soccer days, kid's basketball court, and ample parking!

Granted, I'll probably never take Pilates or get my hair and nails done (what hair?), but I will definitely utilize many of the other amenities. And surprisingly the price of it all for the whole family is less than our cable, phone, and high speed Internet bill every month.

Starting tomorrow my goal is to get rid of my pregnancy weight (the food baby) and increase my running endurance while adding some muscle to my spindly frame. With that will come added performance on the tennis court so I can beat my tennis bum buddy. The only problem I can foresee about that plan is that he is also a member of Life Time Fitness, which means I'll probably have to spike his Gatorade with sleeping pills before we start to play if I ever want to have a fighting chance.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thoughts from my Desk: 10/17/2007

It's been kind of quiet on the blog front this last week. I was preparing myself for a big trip to the dentist on Monday by staying up late pondering the future of my mouth with cold beverages and cancer sticks (sorry Mom & Dad, but I smoked again). I am happy to say that as of Sunday night I am tobacco free. I never had a hard time quitting, no real urges to smoke, but it was always easy to start again with a cigarette here and there when out with friends. When I'm not around cigarettes I don't have the desire for one, but when I am around them I want one. That will be a test of my will. Sometimes I would go 6 months without lighting up a Camel, sometimes I would go a week. For the sake of my overall health and extended length of life, I plan on going forever this time.
Adios, my Turkish Blend friend! :fag:

Another plus to the quitting will be the improvement in my stamina for tennis and running. I almost beat my arch nemesis last weekend even after a night of smoking. I was up 5-2 in the first set, which is a rarity, and up 3-1 in the second. I did lose both sets but put up a fight. I should have closed those sets out but the shots just didn't happen for me. Not having played in 8 months due to knee trouble I think I played better than I have all year. Maybe it was the extra added chemicals in my blood from the Camels. Yea, probably not.

Fall is finally arriving and everybody has their Halloween decorations out. Skeletons hanging from trees, bats in windows, and the real carved pumpkins awaiting their demise at the hands of young pranksters. My son has changed from being Batman for Halloween to Mack the red Power Ranger. He wears his costume around the house every chance he gets. We're hoping it makes it to October 31. My daughter is going to be a pumpkin with a costume on loan from a friend. She took one look at the bumblebee costume when at the store with my wife and said, "No!" which as you all know is one of her favorite words. Thankfully she liked the carved pumpkin with it's cute little hat. She should rake in tons of candy this year and that will be another habit to deal with - CHOCOLATE!

Speaking of chocolate, at the store yesterday I impulse bought a box of my favorite cereal (Count Chocula) and my kids didn't even notice when I put it in the basket or hid it in the pantry. I had a bowl of it this morning but had to wait for the milk to make it a little soggy so the delicious chocolaty crunchiness wouldn't hurt my teeth.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

At Last She Speaks


My daughter will be two years old soon. Where has the time gone? She is sitting in a "big girl" chair at the table, can navigate up and down the stairs without falling, scoots around on a tricycle, attempts to climb out of her crib, and can handle anything her big brother throws at her - literally.

She is also learning a ton of new words and singing along with the alphabet song and "Rainbow Connection," which is a nightly request in her rocking chair before she goes to sleep. "Daddy!" she screams from the top of the stairs after her bath. "Rainbow!" Read more...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Tony Romo owes Nick Folk dinner...

and a movie.

What should have been a stomping by the Dallas Cowboys on the Buffalo Bills turned out to be just the opposite. Tony Romo was intercepted five times by the Bills, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Then they returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Romo also fumbled the ball once. On paper it should have been a blowout by the Bills, who were underdogs going into the game.

Tony Romo was surely due for a bad game at some point but we all expected it to maybe happen next Sunday against the New England Patriots, not in Buffalo! The Bills defense definitely had Romo's number in the game and read him like an open book. The fans in Buffalo went crazy every time they picked him off and with good reason. The Bills have a bone to pick from the 1990's when the Cowboys dominated them in the Super Bowls.

I wish my son could have stayed up to watch this game. It was an unbelievable comeback mostly thanks to the Cowboys relentless defense and the leg of one happy kicker. Not only did Nick Folk kick the longest field goal of his career (53 yards), but he kicked it twice because of a last second timeout called by the Bills on the first kicked that sailed through the uprights right down the middle.

Then Nick did it again on the same line.

Tony Romo's new best friend should be Nick Folk. If I were Romo, I would take him out to dinner at least once a week for the rest of the season. Actually, if I were Romo I would pick up the dinner check for the whole defense and Nick Folk for the rest of the season. They deserve it for bailing him out of hopefully his worst game ever. The good thing is Romo can learn from this game and not repeat it next Sunday against the undefeated Patriots.

I'm crossing my fingers.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Interviews from the Daddyshack: Whit Honea

I am happy to announce a new series of at-home dad interviews for my Because I Said So column at Quirkee.com! There are so many at-home dads online that have formed friendships in the various blog communities and forums. I thought it would be fun to share some of them with you by asking them about their lives. The first installment of Interviews from the Daddyshack is with Whit Honea!

Quirkee logo

Some of you may recognize Whit from his blog Honea Express. Check out what Whit had to say while in the Daddyshack:

Interviews from the Daddyshack: Whit Honea

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Date Night

My wife and I don't have a date night very often, but we should. Our lives seem to get overly busy and we don't make the time. A friend offered to come by tonight and watch our screaming demons wonderfully well-behaved children so we could go to dinner. Woo-hoo! We are going to have some delicious Italian food and a bottle of wine at Romeo's Italian Grill, a favorite romantic spot of ours for many years.

I'm not sure which I love more, date night or Romeo's.


The Grilled Fontina Cheese appetizer is a staple of our dinner every time we go. I could eat only that as my meal and be satisfied, but there is so much more on the menu worth filling up on and bringing home in a to-go box.

Now if you will excuse me I need to go shower and get ready for my date!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Weekend Haikus


A break from the norm
Went to Nana and Papa's

To play at their house

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Lots of good swimming
Means lots of good sleep for kids
That is a nice thing

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Back home with Mama
All safe and sound in our beds
Happy as can be

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

OK, I'll Gloat a Little

I wasn't going to gloat about the Cowboys beating da Bears, but it was expected on my friend's blog so I will.

Woo-hoo! The first half of the game had me worried but the Cowboys dominated da Bears in the second half! The defense was picking off Rex Grossman left and right! Tony Romo had his way with da Bears secondary coverage, too, and put the ball in the hands of seven different receivers with T.O and Jason Witten as his favorite targets once again. Dallas is now the team to beat in the NFC. Super Bowl here we come!

I hope I didn't just jinx it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Today is the Day

Back in August, a fellow blogging dad buddy (who lives in Chicago) and I made a friendly wager on today's Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears game. If da Bears beat the Cowboys I will put their logo on my blog for 30 days. If the Cowboys beat da Bears he will do the same.

GO COWBOYS!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Recap: Day 3, Part 2 - Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007

By the time I was done watching Ryan Shaw I started to get hungry. My stomach was full of a liter of water and was begging for something of substance. I headed back in the direction of the food court around 1:00 pm while watching scores of people file through the entrance of the festival. Some looked fresh and ready to go like they had been dropped off, while others looked like they had just walked several miles to finally reach their destination. Regardless, they all looked happy.

I walked up and down the food court looking for just the right meal to satisfy my hunger but not keep me preoccupied with the aforementioned POP's (that's port-o-potties for you festival rookies) on a hot Sunday afternoon. Salt Lick chopped beef sandwich? As much as they sounded perfect I had to pass on this day. Personal pizza from Austin's Pizza? Just a little too much for lunch for me. Hot and Crunchy Chicken Cone from Hudson's on the Bend? Huh?

I settled on a 1/4 lb hot dog from Original Hoffbrau Steaks. Mmmm, mmmm, good. And not too messy, either, which was good because right next to the food court, The Jones Family Singers had just started a tent revival underneath the roof at the WaMu stage. I plowed through 3/4 of my 1/4 lb hot dog and had to ditch the remaining dog so I could get out my camera and shout praises to the Lord!

I really didn't shout praises out loud, but I thought them while I made my way to the front of the stage to get a closer look at the Jones family that was filling the crowd with energy as they raised the roof for young and old alike. I think The Jones Family Singers were one of the best shows I saw all day. There is something about a large group of people dancing and singing together without a care about what race, age, or gender the other is and they are all having a good time. It's how it should always be.






Around 2:00 pm I made my way to the media tent for a little break in the action and to rest my feet. It was nice to see they had free snacks on the table and a cooler full of ice cold water. I sat back and watched some artists being interviewed by 101X, KLBJ, and ME, while making a phone call to my wife and kids. Then it was time to hit the crowds with my feet blazing trails through stage squatters and left-handed smokers. A much more difficult task now that I am in my mid-30's. I took a wrong turn while following another guy and ended up deeper in the smoky squatting crowd as I tried to navigate my way back to the flow of traffic.

I finally made my way to the AT&T Blue Room stage to catch The National and I'm so glad I did. Their off back beat rhythm song, "Fake Empire," was one of the best live performances I have ever seen. The crowd went crazy when they started and went even more crazy when they finished. It was one of the few times at a live concert where chills went down my neck because of crowd appreciation for the creativity of the band's music. Well done.

Watching most of The National show also gave me a chance to sit down again and reapply the sunscreen chilling in my soft-sided cooler. Cold sunscreen applied directly under the watchful eye of a hot afternoon sun is very refreshing. Take that UV rays! It also gave me time to sit and drink my first cold beer.



When The National was done I moseyed on over to check out Robert Earl Keen at the AMD stage. I like REK on the right day. He is surely a crowd pleaser with "Feelin' Good Again" and the rest of his good laid back tunes.

So as not to miss Ben Kweller and the Infamous Nose Bleeds, I scooted my way towards the AT&T stage at the other side of Zilker. You can't come all the way down to ACL and not see if Ben can pull off another show all bloody in the heat! To my dismay (just kidding, Ben) he was blood free but still put on a great show.

On the way to see Ben Kweller I did stop by to catch Kara Grainger at the BMI stage. Wow. Great voice. Thank you, Kara, for that ten minutes of beauty.



I received a phone call from some friends that were coming out to see Wilco. I would finally have somebody to hang with, even if it was short lived. We met up and went to watch Regina Spektor at the AT&T Blue (but really orange) Room. Regina was by far the happiest person at ACL Fest including the patrons and all the staff. She smiled all throughout her performance and said how happy she was to be playing here. The musical talent that she has is mind blowing to watch. I'm a new fan.



Is that a Polaroid camera that guy has? I think it is.



I missed the end of Regina's show because I made the mistake of drinking a 22 oz beer right before she started. As I made my way towards the food court again to find long lines at the POP's, I was fortunate to catch the Preservation Hall Jazz Band playing, "When the Saints Go Marching In."

I went back to the AMD stage to catch Wilco since that's where I knew my friends were going while I emptied out my bladder. I hung at the back of the crowd and just watched Wilco perform. It was 6:45 pm and my legs were tired so I sat down to enjoy the show. When it was over I tried to talk myself into staying for Bob Dylan but the show put on by Ghostland Observatory on the next stage over (AT&T Orange Room) was my headliner. I had heard that Ghostland put on an incredible show and I heard right. It was just becoming dark when out came the green and purple lasers dancing in the sky to the techno beats thumping from the speakers. I was a pretty good distance away from the stage but felt like I was right up on it.



When Ghostland Observatory completed their awesome performance I glanced over to my right to witness thousands of people rushing to the other side of Zilker Park to catch Bob Dylan.

"No thanks," I told myself. It had been nine hours since I had arrived at ACL and I was ready to go. See you all next year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thoughts From My Desk - 9/18/2007

I sealed my fate for the Father of the Year Award tonight when I took my kids to 7-11 for dinner. What can I say? They love processed cheese sauce and drinks that are void of any nutritional value. I don't let them eat like that every day. I swear.

+++++

On the way to the 7-11 for our gourmet healthy dinner of nachos, hot dogs, Slurpees, and a cookie with Dallas Cowboys frosting on it, a woman on a bicycle (with no helmet) attempted to turn left in front of oncoming traffic going straight. When the cars wouldn't stop for her she threw her hand up at them and came about a foot away from being a hood ornament. When she finally turned left she looked back in disgust as if to say, "How dare you not let me turn left on an unprotected green light in front of your car! Can't you see I'm trying to have a conversation with my friend on my Bluetooth!" Yes, she was on the phone while riding her bicycle in the street without a helmet on - and breaking traffic laws.

Amazing.

+++++

Have you ever noticed that when the graffiti removal department of the City paints over graffiti that it really doesn't look much better? They use a different color or shade of gray, tan, or light blue in the same areas. Why not use the same paint every time? Why not get a paint that is a match for the concrete? Why not just plant some shrubs in front of the wall that fences off the water retention pond? That way they wouldn't have a place to paint and we wouldn't have to look at the eyesore of the retention pond while driving by. What is the cost of shrubs vs. the cost of paint and labor to come cover up the graffiti? My guess is shrubs are cheaper and they look nicer. Thanks for spending $11,000,000 on the road I'm referring to and not splurging for a couple of hundred bucks (if that) for shrubs. (insert eye rolling emoticon here)

+++++

Speaking of emoticons! Happy Birthday to the Smiley! You are 25 years old today and have changed the face of emails, blogs, forum posts, and more. We wouldn't be the same without you!

+++++

Did anybody have OJ for breakfast? I did. It was a delicious way to start my day knowing that "The Juice" could spend the rest of his sorry life rotting in jail where he belongs. He should have known somebody would come along and set him up since he really doesn't have any friends. The ones he did have will be the ones sending him away in an orange jumpsuit. A fitting end for a rotten piece of fruit. Is there an emoticon for a rotten piece of fruit?

+++++

I found the deal of the month at Goodwill today - a kids table with two chairs for $8.99! It needs sanding and repainting or staining, but that will be a fun project to keep my kids busy for a few days. Earlier they had Goldfish crackers and apple juice at it while watching cartoons. It was the quietest thirty minutes of my day.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Recap: Day 3, Part 1 - Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007

I returned Sunday morning from the store and packed up my two liters of water, sunscreen, a camera, extra batteries, bands schedule, notepad, two pens, some cash for food and drinks, then threw on my running shoes and headed out to try and land a prime spot under the Mopac bridge at Lady Bird Lake. Lady Luck was on my side as I bounced my truck into one of the last spots in the dirt across from the pedestrian bridge.

A short ten-minute walk was no problem. I actually found myself walking faster than usual due to the anticipation of the day's music I was about to experience. I went alone to ACL this year and was looking forward to meeting up with friends if they decided to make it out for their third day, but I wasn't holding my breath. It was going to be a hot one and three straight days at ACL can take it's toll on the human body.

I didn't mind going alone and I actually preferred it that way so I could roam around and see as many bands as possible. As much fun as it would be to have my wife along, she is not a "festival girl" and I am definitely a "festival guy." The port-o-potties at a festival rank up there with tubing down the river for her. She doesn't care much for bodies of water that she can't see the bottom of and is also not a big fan of hovering above a toilet seat that has been urinated on by countless drunk concert goers. I can't say I blame her and told her the trick is to go into one that another woman just came out of since they wiped the seat when they got in. I found out later in the day that this theory did not hold water when I went in a port-o-potty after a woman came out and apparently urinated all over the seat like a drunken frat boy. Nice.


ACL Fest 2007 - Photography by James Grayson

Upon arriving at 11:30 am and entering through the gate at ACL, I stopped and looked around in all directions to take in the view of Zilker Park and the small crowd forming at the BMI stage where Jennifer Niceley was playing. And let me tell you, Jennifer really does play nicely. Her bluesy voice caught my attention so I parked myself under the watchful eye of the blazing sun to listen to her performance of "Blind Woman" while cracking open the seal on my first liter of Ozarka water.


Jennifer Niceley - Photography by James Grayson

After that song I headed down to check out the AT&T Digital Oasis to see how cold it was in there and to post a blog entry. It was extremely comfortable in there with dozens of laptop computers setup and some flat panel TV's. An oasis to say the least. I'm glad I went when I did because two hours later there was a line to get in. I thought it was cool, but not cool enough to wait in line for. AT&T should have sprung for at least five of those oases to handle the sweaty throngs of people wanting to feel what air conditioning felt like in a park.


AT&T Digital Oasis - Photography by James Grayson

On the way back up the hill in Zilker Park I stopped by and caught a few songs from The Little Ones and Amy Cook before catching the last of Nicole Atkins & the Sea. All three were pleasing the early arriving crowds that were already fanning themselves with Heineken fans and orange AT&T personal motorized fans. I picked up one of those, too, and it proved to be a worthy item to have.

When Nicole Atkins was done I took off in the other direction again to catch some of Ryan Shaw on the AT&T stage, that was blue unlike the AT&T Blue Room stage that Nicole Atkins was playing on. It was orange. I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering why that was, but I scratched my head in disbelief and headed in the direction of a vibrant show put on by Ryan Shaw.


Ryan Shaw - Photography by James Grayson


To be continued...

Next post: The Jones Family Singers, people watching, free snacks, The National, Robert Earl Keen, Kara Grainger, and more photos!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007

I'm heading out to ACL Fest today. Should be hot, sweaty, and loud! Hopefully I'll meet up with some friends out there but it would be their third day in a row so they may be exhausted. When you're past your 20's you seem to lose some stamina to handle 3 days, 130 bands, for 8-10 hours a day.

But I'm covering the last day for Quirkee and may or may not end up with a band interview on-site. Either way I'll be people watching, taking photos, and jammin' alongside 64,999 other music lovers - and will report back next week on Quirkee.com.

I could think of worse things to write about.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Slow Down You Move Too Fast

Being a generally happy human being with not too much to complain about, I rarely ever use this space to rant about things. The only times I recall doing so were when people in positions of power abuse them and it gets under my skin.

The other day as I was coming home from picking up my son from preschool we were traveling through a school zone that is part of our daily route. This school zone is on a very busy road in South Austin and I always make sure I am going slow so I don't kill or badly injure any kids. One of Austin's finest police officers wasn't thinking that way on this day. I was hovering right around 20 MPH when the patrol car cruised by in the right lane at probably 28-30 MPH. I thought maybe there was an emergency but his lights were not on like the big yellow flashing light on that very tall sign next to the street.

I followed him for about three more miles as we just happened to be going the same direction. I kept waiting for him to pull somebody over for speeding back in that school zone since that had to be the reason he was going so fast through it. I then noticed he was looking down at his computer a lot. I guess that's why he didn't see that big yellow flashing light on that very tall sign next to the street.

To be fair, I've sped through school zones before on accident. Once when I was a teenager and new to the driving world, I got a ticket for going 29 MPH supposedly just minutes before the light stopped flashing. There were no children anywhere in sight and I'm pretty sure the light wasn't flashing. I got ticketed and had to write a three-page paper for the teen court judge to get out of it. He let me off easy!

So, I'm really in no position to pass judgement on the police officer who accidentally cruised through the school zone faster than he should have. I thought about flashing my lights and honking my horn behind him to see if he would pull over and I could write him a ticket from his book. Not wanting to take the risk of a ride downtown to jail with my two little kids in the car, I decided to let him off the hook.

It would be nice to see him spending more time in that school zone stopping the arrogant high school students from walking out into traffic. They ignore the lights at the intersection and roam out in front of moving cars. They ignore the pedestrian crosswalk and cross wherever they please. Almost daily I see a student inches away from being hit.

I know high school kids don't need a crossing guard, but maybe they need an Austin police officer stationed there to stop them from jaywalking and getting run over by a speeder, civilian or otherwise.

No matter what city you live in, please slow down in school zones.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me

Ever since turning thirty I have had this thing about my birthdays, like not wanting them to come. I have indifferences about getting older and my birthday is just another reminder of that. Maybe it's because I am happy with my life where it is. My kids are still nice to me, I am healthy, I have most of my hair left, and I don't have any unsightly nose or ear hairs to pluck. Yesterday, my wife got frustrated with me because I didn't really care if we had friends over to hang out for my birthday. She said, "I'm not mad at you; I just wish you'd be excited about your birthday instead of moping around about it. It's something to celebrate, and you're making it kind of blah."

Like 99.9% of the time, my wife is right. I have been moping around about it for five years now. I wasn't interested in everybody making a big deal out of me getting older so I just shrugged off the birthdays like they were any other day. But she is right - it is something to celebrate and I am happy to have lived another year and will hopefully have many more to grow on. So let's party!

In honor of the day my Mother birthed me into this wonderful world, September 6, 1972, I am going to write a little poem for you.

But you have to click here to read it...

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Reunions, Brisket, and Longhorn Caverns

For the last 16 years we have had a family reunion at my Grandparents house in Marble Falls, TX, about an hour outside of Austin. Normally it is held the last weekend in June, but Marble Falls was under water that weekend. My Grandparents postponed it until last weekend so they could dry out, redo the back room from the flood damage, and so we could actually cross roads that were previously impassible to get to their house.

We missed a few family members but still had fun. My sister and her family came and our kids always have fun playing together. You could give them a pile of dirt and they would be happy. Luckily, Grandpa had one so all was good.



Here are a few shots from a huge sunflower patch in one of their fields. That little bug posed for several minutes while I snapped away.






Aside from devouring tasty brisket, chicken, and all the sides in various colors, we spent time visiting with some family that we only see once a year, watched our dogs play, and took the kids to Longhorn Caverns. These caverns are about 20 minutes away from my Grandparents house and it was my first time to go. I know! I can't believe it either! It's no Carlsbad but still an underground wonder with a great history of safe havens for bank robbers, Indians, and a speakeasy. I love caves, caverns, and even basements. I'm not sure why I like basements so much. Maybe because I like the private seclusion and quietness that comes with it.

Here are some of my favorite photos from Longhorn Caverns. I was unable to locate my battery charger before the trip so I burned through 18 AA batteries in about an hour and missed a few shots while changing out the pack. I was the caboose in the tour and the guide was very nice about letting me shoot while juggling batteries and holding up the others. There are still some photos I want to go back and get. The way the rocks formed in there are truly amazing.








These photos don't really show all of the visual beauty of Longhorn Caverns. You should go check them out for yourself. It has been years since I have visited any other caverns and I plan on making it back again to all of them around Central Texas very soon.

A Fellow Austin SAHD

Another at-home dad here in Austin has started a new project titled "A Year In Photos" where he will post a new picture he has taken every day for the next 365 days. He started on September 1st and all really great shots! I have yet to meet him but hope to do so one day soon. Check out his blog here,or click one of my favorites so far below titled

best shoes ever...

Project 365


Photo by Bryan McNeal

Friday, August 31, 2007

Creepy Crawly Spiders Eat Lots of Bugs

This has been the week of spiders. First, my buddy over at A Man Among Mommies posted a photo he took of an Orb Weaver spider outside his back door. Then a monster 200 yard spider web in Texas was in the news. So I decided to cap off this week of spiders with my own photos. I noticed some webs in the backyard one morning a few weeks ago and the sun was hitting them just right. I lightly sprayed one with water and it glistened in the sun. The spider came out blurry on the second one but the web came out nice.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

A First Time For Everything

This summer has come and gone in a blink of an eye. Each one seems to go faster than the last and they all end with my birthday as a reminder that I am one more year closer to retirement or death, whichever comes first.

The last few months have been a big Summer of Firsts in this house. My son had his first jump into a pool from the side (with a life vest on), his first trip to Dallas Cowboys Training Camp, his first time bowling when we had to go two days in a row, his first strike at the bowling alley, his inaugural trip to Peter Pan Mini Golf on Barton Springs Road, his first movie in a theater when we saw Ratatouille,...

See more firsts by clicking -->

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stopping to Shoot The Flowers

The wildflowers in our front yard continue to bloom in the August heat and don't look like they are going to stop as long as I keep watering them. They were from a bag of mariposa y colibri seeds from Crawdaddy & Mitzi. The mariposa's sure have been around a lot but only one colibri has been spotted this year and he flew away too fast for me to get a picture!