Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jazz on the Green

I'm trying to convince Karine that Omaha is the most awesome place on earth. We went back to Turner Park tonight to enjoy Jazz on the Green, an Omaha tradition. I think it strengthened my argument. Eight-thousand mid-western souls, enjoying music together on a midsummer's evening.

Midtown Crossing at Turner Park: Family Field Trip

The best thing about being available for immediate employment -- that's what I call it, unemployed just sounds so negative -- is that you get to spend a lot of time with your family. After doing a good bit of thinking yesterday about Omaha and urban development, I decided it was time for a little family field trip. Everyone had a blast.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Midtown Crossing at Turner Park

I feel like an octopus. I am looking for a job and that means looking for opportunity. So I have to reach out with my tentacles and probe for opportunities in Omaha. The more I understand Omaha, the better chance I have of finding an opportunity. So I am learning about Omaha.

This is Midtown Crossing at Turner Park. It is a million square-foot mixed-use development near downtown Omaha. It's something to be excited about, I think. The development was made possible, in part, by an organization called Destination Midtown, a collaboration between public, private, and neighborhood stakeholders. Awesome.

The Library

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Baby Name Rejects for Twins: Zeus and Apollo

Magnum P.I. was definitely one of the greatest television shows ever. And Higgins was one of the coolest characters on that show. And his dogs, Zeus and Apollo, were loyal and brave. But you probably don't want to name your twins after TV's most famous set of Doberman Pinschers.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Baby Name Rejects for Twins: Atlas and Ajax

I tried to squeeze Atlas under Karine's radar as a possible name for Ezekiel. She was not a fan. I still think Atlas is a great name. It's a plausible name, at least. Apollo, Athena, and the other principals of the Greek pantheon are a little too mainstream for me. A little overplayed, I think. Like Zeus. You can' t call your kid Zeus. It's like calling your kid Steve. Yes, it's a powerful name, but a name whose time has come and gone. Cronus, on the other hand, now you're talking.

Atlas is a wonderful name for a little boy, especially if he's got some size in his genes. You might not want to name your son Atlas if he's gonna be a pipsqueak. But don't sell your son short. You don't have to be a giant to carry the name Atlas. Your child may be able to redeem his small stature with a mighty intellect.

Combine Atlas with Ajax, hero of the Trojan War, and you have yourself what I believe may be the ultimate pair of names for a set of boy-boy twins. Atlas and Ajax. Ajax and Atlas.

Ajax, thanking the gods for making him so awesome.

But we are not having boy-boy twins, so this brilliant pair we have to reject. Although, Ajax might work for a girl. Something to think about.

If nothing else I have a great set of names for the pair of Rhodesian Ridgebacks I hope to own someday.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Having Twins

We went to Target last night to do some shopping. That's right. Saturday night. Shopping at Target with the whole family. It was awesome!

We went there for a number of reasons. High on the list was a new pair of sandals for Zeke. I didn't realize that baby-size feet can develop adult-size foot funk. If you can smell your child's feet when they are sitting on your lap, you have a problem and you need to find a solution. We had no luck at Target, couldn't find size six. We're going to head to a bowling ally this afternoon and see if we can borrow some of that spray they use on the bowling shoes.

But we still had fun. I like to touch as many products as possible when we shop. Last night, I touched a pink fuzzy baby blanket and realized that we haven't announced the final verdict on the twins. Everything is going exactly as we planned it One boy, one girl.

We had an eight hundred dollar sonogram the other week. (They bill you for two!) The same procedure in Honduras cost us twenty-two dollars. But I'm pretty sure our sonogram here was more detailed. We learned that both babies are healthy and our little girl likes to kick our little boy in the face. The sonogram technician assured us that probably this would not harm the little boy. If they stay in their current positions, the boy will be born first. Due date: November 8th.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Little Tikes 8-in-1 Adjustable Playground

Karine told me that we had to buy one of these things on account of Zeke's climbing problem. He's a little over the top with the climbing lately. Sometimes he tries to climb up Grandma Jean's cane while she's using it to walk. So Karine found a playground on Craig's List and we put the thing together in the backyard. Zeke's happy. Karine's happy. I am happy.

I was extra happy to discover that Little Tikes manufactures their toys right here in the United States. All of them. Which makes them better even than Wham-O. Wham-O's still got the better name, though.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Most Photographed Urinary Tract Infection in America

A member of the household was watching some daytime TV the other day. Some type of medical show where real people talk about real medical problems. A disembodied head on the screen was talking about some of her medical-type problems.

Here's what I thought / said:

Who is this lady whose voice is filling our house with her medical problems? Do we know her? Is she a friend of ours? I am sorry that she has a urinary tract infection, but since I don't know her, why is her voice filling up the available air space in this house? Why has she been invited into our home to talk about the pain and discomfort she has lately been experiencing?

Oh, because she's on television.

Zeke in a wig

This picture does not require commentary.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Most Photographed Everything in America

I think maybe there are a lot of things in our USA-style American culture that are sort of like the most photographed barn in America. There are so many voices screaming so loudly from our televisions everyday, telling us what is important. Oprah, Dr. Phil, those ladies on the View, everyone seems to be freaking out about something all the time. Let's freak out about Tom Cruise. Let's freak out about Tom Cruise freaking out. Let's freak out about the new movie with the -- you're not going to believe this --vampires.

Why are these people on TV? Because everyone is watching. Why is everyone watching? Because they're the people on TV. The funny thing is that a lot of what people talk about on TV has to do with being on TV. I think that's funny.

More Wham-O

Wham-O weighs heavy on my mind right now because I am looking for a job. I'm thinking about the economy and trying to see where I can fit in, where I can do something for someone that makes money for them and money for me and, at the end of the day, everyone goes home happy like small children with water balloons and squirt guns.

So I read the papers. I read the blogs. I'm nosing what financial winds blow across the prairie, waiting for good news.

I've been thinking about manufacturing lately, partly because I just read Philip Roth's American Pastoral, but mostly because US manufacturing, I think, is a solid indicator of where the economy is going. I didn't study this in school or anything, but I feel it in my spleen. In this global economy, we must export US manufactured goods to bring in foreign capital. We need to make and sell things that people in other countries want to buy. It's one of the engines of economic growth that gets us moving in a positive direction, towards a job for me and the millions of other capable, hard-working, intelligent, good-looking unemployed people in this nation. This particular engine of economic growth, manufacturing, has been sputtering and choking and, apparently, dying since the 1960s.

So all that could make a fellow or a gal feel discouraged. But then Wham-O comes along and announces that they are bringing back one-half of their Frisbee manufacturing capacity to the United States.

This, I think, is the financial smell I have been waiting for.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lord Gaga of Nebraska

This isn't the reason that we moved here, but it's the sort of thing that let's us know we've made the right decision. I don't know much about Lady Gaga except that she is cool. Really, I've seen enough to know she's a serious weirdo artist rather than a pretend weirdo artist. Authentic weirdos are the best. Like Björk.

What does this have to do with Nebraska? Apparently Lady Gaga, like my wife, is in love with a Nebraskan. I read it in the Omaha World-Herald.

His name is Carl. Lüc Carl. 100% Nebraska.


Wham-O is not a company I spend a great deal of time thinking about. Now that I am thinking about it, here is what I think:
1) Congratulations on having probably the best name ever for a toy manufacturer.

2) Nice toys! Especially the Hackysack, the Slip 'N Slide, and the Frisbee.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Most Photographed Barn in America

Don DeLillo wrote a great novel called White Noise. It deals with, among other things, our people's wacky inability to confront, grapple with, and finally accept the reality that death comes to us all, eventually. It's a theme, I think, that deserves wider investigation. Maybe the Bachelor could do like a special episode where the real people on the show honestly confront their own mortality, visit the terminally ill or something.

But what I want to examine is something different. What I want to examine here is the most photographed barn in America.

In the novel: So these two over-educated culture junkies drive out to visit the barn. They are circling the barn, taking pictures of the people taking pictures, and they start riffing on what it means to be the most photographed barn in America. Like, why is this barn the most photographed? Because it's famous for being the most photographed and everyone wants a picture of that barn. Who wants a picture of just a barn when you can have a picture of the most photographed barn in America, probably the world?

Except you can't take pictures of the most photographed barn -- you can only take pictures of people taking pictures. There are simply too many photographers stalking the barn for any one of them to get a clean shot of just the barn. But then since the most photographed barn in America is something you can't really take a picture of, does that mean that the most photographed barn in America is in fact not the most photographed barn in America? In which case, what are all those people doing out there with their cameras?

Bunch of Hippies Sitting on the Hearth

Every year the kids make tie-dyed t-shirts. This year Zeke wanted a yellow one so he could be like his cousin Sam.

Sam, Ezekiel, Allison, Jessica, Natalie, Christopher, and Megan.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Handsome Ezekiel

His number one toy right now is Grandma Jean's plunger. He's gonna be one good looking plumber some day.

Hast Ever Been to Omaha

Hast ever been to Omaha,
Where rolls the dark Missouri down,
And four strong horses scarce can draw
An empty wagon through the town?

Where sand is blown from every mound,
To fill your eyes and ears and throat;
Where all the steamers are aground,
And all the shanties are afloat?

Where whisky-shops the livelong night
Are vending out their poison-juice;
Where men are often very tight,
And women deemed a trifle loose?

Where taverns have an anxious guest
For every corner, shelf, and crack;
With half the people going West,
And all the others going back?

Where theaters are all the run,
And bloody scalpers come to trade;
Where every thing is overdone
And every body underpaid?

If not, take heed to what I say;
You'll find it just as I have found it;
And if it lies upon your way,
For God's sake, reader, go around it!

--John Godfrey Saxe (1869)

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Here is my niece Natalie pretending to be very upset about a little green plastic triangle stuck in her hair. I think it was a pretty convincing performance. I was like, Are you okay? And she was like, I'm just pretending.

Omaha Railroad Days

We celebrated Omaha's railroad heritage Saturday with a trip to Lauritzen Gardens, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, and the RailsWest Railroad Museum. We had a blast. We discovered that Zeke loves trains. It's just that he calls them cars. One step at a time. He also calls airplanes boats.

Lauritzen Gardens was a charming discovery. That's what Karine says. I said, Karine, what you say about Lauritzen Gardens? A charming discovery, she says. I would say more. I would say that Lauritzen Gardens are probably the best gardens around since the hanging ones in Babylon. But I can be a bit of a hyperbolist. Especially when I'm talking about my home town.

John Godfrey Saxe

The poem I am going to share, which I am not going to share today, was written by a fellow named John Godfrey Saxe. He wrote a poem about Omaha after a visit sometime around 1865. He was not impressed.

I think he looks like Beetlejuice.

Saxe had a rough life. He lost five of six children to tuberculosis. After their fifth child passed, a blood vessel burst in his wife's brain and she died as well. Things were not easy back then.

Here's what Saxe had to say about sausages and the law:
"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Poetry on the Internet

Poetry on the Internet just seems like a damn weird thing to me. There is an all-star analogy to describe its weirdness. It's like, I don't know, going inside to watch baseball on a beautiful summer day. Something like that.

Andrew Sullivan posts poetry on his blog every Sunday. He's a smart fellow, but I've never read a single line of a single poem he has carefully selected and posted.


I found a very funny poem about Omaha that was published in Harper's sometime towards the end of the nineteenth century. There is some stuff in there about tight men (tight meaning drunk, I think, in the way that Hemingway used it about eighty-five times in The Sun Also Rises) and loose women. That's pretty much Omaha.

I'm not posting it here. This is just a warning.


Here is my niece Megan, up early and still rockin' PJs. We had just come in from fishing and she was waiting for a full report. She is the youngest of my brother Doug's girls.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Roy Roger's Horse Trigger to Find New Home in Omaha

Trigger, probably the most famous dead horse in the world, was purchased by an Omaha business man for $266,000. The horse died of natural causes in 1965 after starring in over a hundred western films with the legendary Roy Rogers. Now the stuffed horse is going to live in Omaha. This place just keeps getting better.

Jon, Fashion Icon

My brother-in-law Jon has a sweet boat and a great attitude. He also has some pretty sweet sunglasses. I don't think he owns these, however. He was just borrowing them from a friend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Karine and Tom Buy Minivan, Win Big!!!

I mentioned in an earlier post that something funny happened after we bought our minivan in Omaha last week. This is the funny thing that happened.

We won $2,500!!!

We'll post of picture of our billboard when it goes up. Seriously.

Karen, Serious

This is my little sister Karen. She looks pretty serious in this picture, but that's only because it was around 6 AM and we were fishing for walleyes. She didn't catch any walleyes this trip and neither did I. Our older brother Doug caught tons, though. He is an expert. He watches fishing shows on TV and learns a ton about how to get 'em in the boat.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Household Goods

We like to call them HHGs. They are on the way. They were picked up in Gulfport sometime this afternoon. The last time we saw them we were freaking out trying to get everything packed and protected for the trip home. Then, for a long time, it seems like some key people in Honduras sort of forgot about them. But then Karine told them that we really needed them and the baby's crib was in there and she is pregnant with twins and that got the ball rolling again. Now they are on the way.

We've just got to figure out where we're going to put them when they get here.

Sweet Boat

This is my brother-in-law Jon's boat. It's pretty sweet. He took me wake boarding one day and it was great except that I couldn't really walk or lean over and pick stuff up for two days after. Jon is really nice about giving all the little nieces and nephews rides in his sweet boat. The lake is called Long Lake and it is outside of Park Rapids, Minnesota.

The sky is courtesy of God. No charge.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A funny thing and other stuff

Something funny happened after we purchased our minivan last week. Something that is even more funny than us purchasing a minivan. As a result of this funny thing, you may notice an improvement in the quality of our photographs here on the blog. This thing that happened will be described in greater detail at a later date.

In the meantime, I'm going to post one vacation photo per day.

We are moving quickly towards the establishment of a regular schedule in these here parts, which will be a tremendous blessing. It's been a bit of a whirlwind these past six weeks. An important part of the regular schedule will be connecting and reconnecting with readers. We look forward very much to giving a tour of our new house, showing off our new town, and introducing Grandma Jean (my mom) to anyone who doesn't know her already. We might even get her to write something every now and then.

And of course the twins are on the way, as well. Karine is doing well and looking forward to discussing all things twins.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nebraska, America

The new masthead photo is Nebraska stretching out like God's own hands, taken from just across the Missouri river on the Iowa side. This really is a blessed little portion of creation we've got ourselves here.

No, I am not joking.


After vacationing with family for the past couple weeks, we are officially back home and ready to start real life here in Omaha, Nebraska. Check back later today for the new blog format, pictures, and stories of our lives back in America.

Thank you for waiting!

Karine and Tom in America