We found it by accident, just a spontaneous decision on a day-off drive through Sedona, that summer of 1983. Schnebly Hill Road runs 13 miles, west to east, from Sedona to I-17 south of Flagstaff. It had been the main thoroughfare between those towns until 1914, when the highway was built, leaving it unpaved and rocky.

It’s a miracle we made it with our Chevy Citation and didn’t leave an oil pan or muffler on the mountain. It ascends nearly 2000 feet, and at the summit we stopped, got out, looked back and out over the red rocks of Sedona and decided it would be a good place to get married.

We had a quiet anniversary yesterday; we went out to a movie and then to an early dinner, stuffing ourselves with fish, fresh halibut for her and catfish from the Mississippi for me, and then sort of rolled home to digest, having marked another day.

We left Arizona almost exactly two months after we got married, dragging a U-Haul behind that Chevy up I-5, scared and nearly broke and heading for Seattle because we had to go somewhere, somewhere forward, not back.

We stopped in California to visit relatives on our way, and I remember my aunt, as we hooked the trailer back up and said our goodbyes, smiling and saying, “I remember when we used to do things like this,” meaning moving, heading somewhere new, taking on the future, and now I feel the same way.

My daughter heads for Boston in 10 days or so, house rented, job waiting. I had just one moment of regret, more awareness than anything, realizing that in the back of my mind I’d always assumed she’d come back home from Texas, but then maybe that’s for other people. I’m always amazed, actually, at people who stay in one place, who grow up and older in the same town. For all I know it’s genetics.

She and Cameron were here in May, shoring up some memories for her. They went to the Olympic Peninsula, to the Columbia Gorge, to the beach.


I love this picture, not just because she looks happy but because she looks home.

And the East Coast may be her home, now, and she’ll look back in 24 years and realize she is where she belongs, as I do now, and her children will be natives of that part of the country, and then one day they’ll move and so it goes. Maybe it’s genetics.

I do hope she’ll remember to stop and look back, every once in a while, as her mother and I did yesterday. Julie hemmed my pants the night before, we remembered. My grandmother came out for the wedding. My brother was late. I met my in-laws for the first time. It started to rain, a few minutes after the vows.

We just picked the place on a whim, a Sunday drive and a pretty view, but it was a good fit, I know now. If you just get far enough and high enough, and look around carefully, you can see a lot from up there.


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Word For The Day

From a paper on string theory:

While in both cases for P anti-D3-branes the probe approximation is clearly not good, in the set up of this paper we could argue that there is a competing effect which can overcome the desire of the anti-D3s to embiggen, namely their attraction towards the wrapped D5s. Hence, also on the gravity side, the non-supersymmetric states would naively be meta-stable.

Make any sense? Me neither. But notice anything in particular? Let me clear it up:

…desire of the anti-D3s to embiggen, namely their attraction…

Know the etymology of that word? You can read about it here, but I’ll give you a hint.


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UB-Day July 31

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)


Mark Cuban (7/31/1958)

Mark Cuban might well be the American success story for uberboomers if that Gates guy wasn’t around.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, Cuban earned college tuition by collecting and selling stamps, but college was a short-lived experience; he graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration in 1977, at the age of 19.

Moving to Dallas in 1982, Cuban worked as a salesperson for one of the first software stores in the country, then started his own company, MicroSolutions. After selling MicroSolutions for $6 million to Compuserve, he started Audionet in 1995, a webcasting company (later renamed Broadcast.com), which he sold to Yahoo! for $5.9 billion. With a ‘b’.

Cuban is probably best known now as being the occasionally obnoxious owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

Trivia: Mark Cuban is currently ranked as the 407th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $2.3 billion.

Age Today: 49.

Shares Birthday With: Dean Cain (41), J.K. Rowling (42), Wesley Snipes (45), Barry Van Dyke (56), Evonne Goolagong (56), Geraldine Chaplin (63), Bill Bennett (64), and Don Murray (78).

This Day In History: Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Trinidad (1498).

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UB-Day July 30

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)


Alton Brown (7/30/1962)

The fact that Alton Brown was a theater student, and received a degree in drama from the University of Georgia, surprises me not in the least, but it does make me like him even more.

Brown refers to his Southern roots often, although he was actually born in Los Angeles. After receiving his degree, he worked mostly in cinematography; he was the director of photography for the R.E.M. music video The One I Love.

Deciding that American cooking shows were lacking in something, Brown was determined to produce his own and so enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute, graduating in 1997 at the age of 35. He also began studying science so as to understand the underlying processes of cooking.

Good Eats first aired on the Chicago PBS station WTTW in July 1998. Food Network picked up the show a year later, and still airs new episodes. If you haven’t seen it (and what’s up with that?), Good Eats combines the science of cooking with hands-on demonstrations and really dumb (but lovable) skits.

Brown is also the commentator for Iron Chef America on Food Network. Last year he produced and starred in Feasting On Asphalt, a motorcycle tour across America exploring the history of road food. In August Food Network will air the sequel, Feasting On Asphalt 2: The River Run, as Alton traces the length of the Mississippi (and eats, I assume).

Alton Brown lives in Marietta, Georgia with his wife and daughter, enjoys motorcycles and flying, and is a member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.

Trivia: He was a Steadicam operator for Spike Lee’s film School Daze.

Age Today: 45.

Shares Birthday With: Hilary Swank (33), Chris Mullin (44), Lisa Kudrow (44), Laurence Fishburne (46), Richard Linklater (47), Kate Bush (49), Anita Hill (51), Delta Burke (51), Arnold Schwarzenegger (60), David Sanborn (62), Paul Anka (66), Pat Schroeder (67), Peter Bogdanovich (68), Bud Selig (73), and Sid Krofft (78).

This Day In History: Former Teamsters union president Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in suburban Detroit (1975).

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UB-Day July 29

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)


Nellie Kim (7/29/1957)

Nellie Kim was born in Shurab, Tajik of the old Soviet Union, the daughter of a Soviet Korean father and a Tatar (i.e., Turkic) mother.   Beginning gymnastics at the age of 9, Kim compensated for a relative lack in flexibility with superior technique and difficult exercises, and in her first national competition, at the age of 14, she placed fifth in the all-around.  After a second-place finish at the USSR Cup in August 1974, she was added to the team roster for the World Championships, held in October, where Kim earned the gold medal in the team competition.  From then until 1980 she successfully competed in many top-level international events.

Kim would eventually win three gold medals and one silver at the 1976 Summer Olympics, and two golds at the 1980 Olympics, although her rival Nadia Comanechi tended to get more attention.

After retiring from gymnastics, Nellie Kim worked for a long time as a coach, training several national teams, and judged many major international competitions. As President of the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee, she coordinates the introduction of new rules in women’s gymnastics.

Trivia: Kim was the first woman in Olympic history to earn perfect 10 scores on the vault and the floor exercise.

Age Today: 50.

Shares Birthday With: Wil Wheaton (35), Ken Burns (54), Sen. Elizabeth Dole (71), Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (75), and “Professor” Irwin Corey (93).

This Day In History: Britain’s Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London (1981).

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UB-Day July 28

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)


Terry Fox (7/28/1958)

UB-Day, with only a couple of exceptions, has marked the birthdays of people who are still alive, for no reason other than that’s how it’s been.  We make another exception today.

Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and raised in Port Coquitlam, B.C., and was an avid sports fan and athlete virtually all his life, particularly enjoying diving.  As a teenager, he won numerous awards and medals for swimming and diving, but although he was encouraged to pursue a water sports career he dreamed of becoming a physical education teacher.  He began studying kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in B.C. and was an active student on campus.

In 1977, Terry Fox was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right knee.  At the time, the only way to treat his condition was to amputate his right leg several inches above the knee, in an attempt to prevent spread of the cancer.

At the age of 21, Terry decided to run across Canada with his one prosthetic leg to raise money for cancer research, creating the Marathon of Hope; his goal was to raise $1 from each Canadian.  He began on April 12, 1980, at St. John’s, Newfoundland, and planned on running the equivalent of a marathon every day.

His cancer had spread, however, into his lungs.  He was forced to stop his run on September 1, 1980, just east of Thunder Bay, Ontario, after 143 days and 3,339 miles (5,373 km), around 23.3 miles per day.  After he stopped, the CTV television network organized a telethon to continue the fund raising, and ended up raising million of dollars.

In June 1981, Terry Fox developed pneumonia.  He died on June 28, one month shy of his 23rd birthday.

Fox has become a national Canadian hero, and is celebrated internationally every September as people participate in the Terry Fox Run, the world’s largest one-day fund raiser for cancer research.

Terry Fox would have been 49 today.

Trivia: In a public opinion poll, Terry Fox was voted the most famous Canadian of the 20th century. He was voted number two on The Greatest Canadian list.

Shares Birthday With: Vida Blue (58), Sally Struthers (59), Georgia Engel (59), cartoonist Jim Davis (62), and Bill Bradley (64).

This Day In History: Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, thus beginning World War I.

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Summer Lovin'

Today is the first day of summer here in Western Washington, a fact that the Mainstream Media conveniently ignore at the behest of their corporate overlords, who apparently have a lot of kiddie pools to move.

In fact, I may be the only one aware of this odd but true statistic. Maybe it’s because I moved up here from Arizona 24 years ago. Arizona people didn’t pay attention to this solstice/equinox crap either. Summer in Arizona started on April 23, and everybody knew it (summer ended on March 2nd. Having to cram three seasons into six weeks explains a lot about John McCain, and why Tom Tuerff is a nudist).

So I began to take notes, and after a few years figured out that summer started at some point between July 26 and July 28 (July 26 because it’s my birthday and sometimes we’d have a barbecue, and so I noticed that it’s always been a beautiful day, 24 years in a row; and July 28 because I read once that it’s the driest day in recorded history up here, not a drop of rain ever noted since homo sapiens started looking up). So today’s the day.

I’ve been outside a lot, at any rate, soaking up the sun and planting more rose bushes. It seems a little foolhardy, maybe, or maybe even inappropriate to be planting rose bushes in late July, but with spring’s final rain last week the ground got good and saturated, and I took advantage of spadable earth and dug a new flower bed.

Anyway, I’ll be playing in dirt some more today, so if you’re looking for me that’s where I’ll be.

If you get bored, you can always try your hand again at Statetris.

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UB-Day July 27

(UB-Day marks the birthdays of people born between 1955 and 1964. If you want to know more, please read this post.)


Bill Engvall (7/27/1957)

If I happen to be sneaking a peek at regular ol’ TV, which normally only happens when I’m accessing my TiVo screen to find something I’ve recorded, odds seem to be high that I’ll run across one of these Blue Collar guys.  Usually the fat one.  The cable guy, or whatever.

I don’t like these guys.  I’ll come right out and say it here at the start.

William Ray Engvall, Jr. was born and raised in Texas. He attended Richardson High School in Richardson, Texas. He attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.  I’m sure that when he dies, he wants to go to Texas.

Bill wanted to be a comedian, talent or no talent.  He appeared on Star Search, and then on the sitcom Designing Women.  He got a break with an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and began a stand-up comedy career notable for its obscurity and his annoying habit of saying, “Here’s your sign.”

This is why I don’t like these guys.  Now you know.  It’s the trademark slogans.  “You know you’re a redneck when…”  C’mon, get some material.

But sometimes they’re funny guys, I admit.  I’ve laughed.

Anyway, Engvall’s best friend just happens to be Jeff Foxworthy, which is convenient.  He not only appeared on the nationally acclaimed (this is sarcasm) Jeff Foxworthy Show, but the two of them starred in the film Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

I have this great idea.  You get Engvall, Foxworthy and Larry the Annoying Guy on a stage, doing their dumb shitkicker schtick, and then you let Chris Rock come out.  Oh, man.  It would be painful.

Engvall currently stars in The Bill Engvall Show, which debuted 10 days ago, on TBS (you were thinking The Discovery Channel, maybe?).

Trivia: His daughter, Emily, attends the University of Puget Sound.  Adopted, you think?

Age Today: 50.

Shares Birthday With: Alex Rodriguez (32), Maureen McGovern (58), Peggy Fleming (59), Betty Thomas (59), Bobbie Gentry (63), Jerry Van Dyke (76), and Norman Lear (85).

This Day In History: Bugs Bunny made his debut in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon “A Wild Hare” (1940).

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