Right now in Cupertino, California, Steve Jobs is walking out onstage at the Apple Town Hall to announce something new from Apple.  My prediction:

iV - A revolutionary product in the consumer market.  Like all Apple products, it's beautifully designed, intuitive and user-friendly, reasonably priced but not cheap and updated every six months so that the version you just bought is completely obsolete.  Its key feature: it's directly connected to your checking account and automatically sends your monthly balance directly to Steve Jobs.  The iV Pro does the same, but adds your business bank account to the mix.  The iV Extreme taps into every major credit card you own.

Okay. So they released a new computer and a stereo. Who would have guessed?


Last Friday I went on a walkthrough of the still-under-construction Plaza Theatre. The Plaza opened in 1930 and hosted stage shows and movies. It closed in the 1950s due mostly to the popularity of television and drive-in movies. Saved twice from demolition, the Plaza is now being restored to its former glory. It's almost there. Tony Bennett headlines the grand opening March 25th. Read more history here and see some more photos on flickr. If you're into that sort of thing.

[Open on a dimly lit stage. A spotlight shines on center stage. At the right edge of the ring of light stands Michelin. Brown Cat enters stage left.]

Brown Cat: [sprinting towards Michelin] Hi!I'mBrownCatit'sapleasuretomakeyouracquainta-

[Michelin punches Brown Cat in the face. Brown Cat falls to the ground and Michelin walks off stage left, the spotlight preceding him. Michelin2 enters stage right, stomps on Brown Cat and exits stage left. Curtain.]

The high beams perforated the cold night air as the engine surged toward the top of the grade. Music seeped from the window, left open for the brisk renewal brought on at forty miles an hour. The car crested the hilltop, the chassis lifting for a moment before settling back down. A thump at the left front tire. Two more: one at the feet of the driver, the second somewhere behind. Then a leap from the right rear tire.

Me: 1. Cat: 0.

Unless you live under a rock on the moon, you know that the Olympics are taking place right now in Torino. Some of the events are great. Everyone has fun watching things like Freestyle Moguls, Freestyle Aerials, Ski Jumping, Super G, Snowboard Cross and Speed Skating. Anything that has potential for danger and injury is pretty much golden. Moguls give you the potential for dramatic knee explosions. Aerials and Ski Jumping, with their major air time, could mean frantic arm-waving followed by spectacular landings. Super G's got high-speed downhill rolls and challenging jumps. Snowboard Cross means jumps and unintentional contact that could produce some pretty intense pile-ups. Speed Skating may be the most exciting, what with the guys moving all fast on very slippery ice and with flesh-tearing blades on their feet.

Here are a couple ideas for making the boring events a touch more exciting:
1. Figure Skating: Half the time. Twice the jumps. Jeff Gillooly takes a baseball bat to anyone who falls. While they finish their program.
2. Ice Dancing: Everyone performs their rehearsed routines. At the same time. While lions roam the ice. [The lions' inability to traverse the ice effectively makes it fair.]
3. Nordic Skiing/Biathlon: Combine these two events. Throw out the targets. Tell each competitor that one of the others was checking out their husband/wife.
4. Curling: Make the stone a time bomb.
5. Skeleton/Luge/Bobsled: Wider track. Everybody races together. Weapons.


Yesterday was President's Day.

Bankers had the day off. So did everybody who works in the American penal system. And probably the postal workers, too. Rain, sleet and snow won't stop 'em, but you'd be hard-pressed to get those guys to put in some overtime.

I didn't. I worked. So did Aimee and Joe. Millions of children all over America marched into school for seven and half hours of note passing, whispering, sleeping and making fun of the fat kids.

Why is this an issue? Because many of them had Martin Luther King day off. I didn't, but many did. And if there's a day off for Martin Luther King, there should be a day off to honor the guy who helped found the nation and that other dude who kept it from splitting into two. Without them, Martin Luther King would have just been Martin.

If he were alive today, Lincoln would probably say that he doesn't deserve a holiday. But Washington would be riding into the Capitol building with some Continentals to play spleen hockey with some elected officials.

Members of the 126th Military Police Company of the New Mexico National Guard march to their waiting families and friends. More on flickr.

[Open on a typical college dorm room. Two guys sit on their respective bunks, talking while studying.]
Jeff: Before you moved in, did you wonder what it would be like?
Me: What do you mean?
Jeff: What did you expect it would be like when you got here?
Me: I didn’t really think about it much.
Jeff: Really?
Me: Yeah. I mean, I thought about it, but nothing real specific.
Jeff: What’d you think about?
Me: Well, I thought it would probably be kind of awkward at first but that we’d get to know each other and then it would be fun.
Jeff: It wasn’t too awkward, was it?
Me: No, but it wasn’t like it is now. Where we can just sit around and talk.
Jeff: Yeah.
Me: You look almost exactly like I thought you would, though.
Jeff: Really?
Me: Yeah. Swanson is a very blond-haired/blue-eyed name. And Craig told me that you were like, the state champ on your high school’s wrestling team, so I thought you’d be pretty built.
Jeff: Heh.
Me: What did you think it would be like?
Jeff: Kind of like it is. Except that I was hoping you would be fat.
Me: (laughing) Fat? Seriously? You wanted a fat roommate?
Jeff: Sort of.
Me: So I’d have food around all the time, or what?
Jeff: I guess. Really I hoped you’d be fat so we could wrestle.


During our time as roommates, I came to think of Jeff as a brother. Jeff returned from his tour of duty in Iraq at four in the morning on Saturday. He volunteered to go to Iraq a year and half ago because his friend in the National Guard got called up for duty and Jeff didn’t want him to have to go over there alone. That’s all you really need to know about Jeff to know why I love him (in a completely fraternal, non-weird way).

Welcome home, Jeff. I’ve got expectations for the future this time. They involve steaks on a barbecue, your son and my daughter playing in the yard, our wives doing wife stuff in the kitchen and toasting your health with a frosty brew.


At 8:30 last night, Sparky the Electric Spark walked into a dark, underground club. At the end of a long, subterranean tunnel he spotted Methane the Gas Leak. Their eyes locked, the clouds parted, birds sang and infants stopped crying. Their love burned hotter than the heat of a thousand suns.

Seriously. The explosion rocked downtown, blew manhole covers eight feet in the air, totaled one car and broke many windows. It also shut down the electricity to the office until 9:30 this morning.

Ethne Anne,

You are one year old today. Over the last twelve months you’ve cried, pooped, cried, crawled, laughed, learned a couple words and thousands of sounds, broken my heart, made my day, learned to walk and smeared peas, eggs, carrots, soup, tomatoes, cottage cheese, oatmeal and yogurt all over your face, hands, table and chair. You are amazing.

Some people believe in love at first sight. Some of those have a reason for thinking it might exist. Their reason: babies. You emerged headfirst from the birthing canal a writhing mess of skinny appendages dripping with blood jelly. But in spite of your mind-splitting scream and the fact that you looked like a smash-faced little Asian baby, I knew in an instant that I would lie down in front of a bus full of elephants to spare you that moment of confusion and pain.

I love you, little girl. Happy Birthday.


[occasionally known to you as Dada, Daddy, Dah-eee, the sound you make when you stick out your tongue and/or the waving of your tiny little arms.]


a parting shot of the capitol building.

Back in El Paso. Everything from Austin is up on flickr.


more on flickr.

They're keeping me here until Wednesday. Fresh pictures will be up soon on flickr. I shot all weekend and processed nothing. Soon, though. Soon.


more on flickr.

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Outside the Austin Museum of Art.

more on flickr.

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more on flickr.

[The curtain opens on a priest, sitting in a dim confessional booth. An organ plays hymns lightly in the background. A man in a striped shirt enters.]

Stripes: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been one year since my last confession.
Priest: May the Lord be in your heart and upon your lips, that you may worthily confess all your sins. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Stripes: Yesterday afternoon I was dishonest. I cheated several men of what was rightfully theirs. I am responsible for their heartache and despair. My actions caused them great pain. In a sense, I stole from them.
Priest: Is that all?
Stripes: No. I lied to my superiors when I told them that I could do my job impartially. That I would be honest and fair in my decisions.
Priest: Anything else?
Stripes: Um, yes. I, um… had relations… with three women… at once.
Priest: Hmm. Really.
Stripes: Yes.
[long pause]
Stripes: What is it?
Priest: I’ve never had anyone lie to me during confession before.
Stripes: What do you mean?
Priest: Oh, come on. One woman… maybe. But three? There are rock stars who aren’t that popular. No Super Bowl ref is ever gonna see that kind of action.

bus stop

I missed my flight last night and had to take the bus to the airport this morning. I missed the bus I woke up for, too.

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more on flickr.

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more on flickr.

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