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So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Who Is Mr. Delirium?

According to Phil, Mr. Delirium is the person in the mirror who copies everything you do.

Not sure if I should be impressed or spooked that arcane facts such as this are in the boy's possession. At least he's not on a first-name basis with Mr. D.

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Mikesell : 10:37 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Cars Easter Egg

Phil got Cars on DVD for Christmas. We just finished watching it and were going to watch the "Mater and the Ghostlight" bonus cartoon when we noticed a strange thing on the menu screen. If you want to find the Easter Egg for yourself, go check out the main title menu (don't know if you have to finish watching the movie first or not). I'll throw the secret in the comments for the lazybones in the group...

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Mikesell : 12:15 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Friday, December 29, 2006

More Free Audiobooks

Just saw this on digg: a whole mess o' audiobooks (in either podcast or mp3s-by-chapter format).

Behold: OpenCulture: Audiobook Podcast Collection.

The Aesop's Fables has an introduction by G.K. Chesterton. Not read by Gilbert Keith -- "Chip in Tampa" gets the credit for that -- but written by him, at least.

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Mikesell : 6:20 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Show Your Support

During the Christmas trip I discovered that one of the places that published several of my flash fiction stories closed its doors and scuttled the archives. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it goes sometimes; and as bad as I feel about it, I know the site admin didn't make his decision in a cavalier fashion (and I'm not talking floppy hats and swords).

So, as the new year dawns please make an extra effort to be supportive of sites and 'zines and print media that publish flash and short fiction. Some sites are financially supported by Google or other ads. Some have a PayPal tip jar. Some have standard subscriptions. Whatever, show your support. Financially, if possible, and with positive feedback (many sites offer comments or have an e-mail link to their editor). If you enjoy their content, let them know. If you don't enjoy their content, quietly back away, avoiding eye contact.

Here are some places to check out:
And if you like a story by a given writer, read their bio (many places include these) to find out where else they've published and then check things out there ... and so on ... and so on ... and so on. Telling two friends wouldn't hurt, either.

Got a favorite short fiction publication, online or otherwise? Share in the comments. Thanks!

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Mikesell : 12:09 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Holiday Recap (with photos!)

A week ago we loaded up the rental Taurus and headed for California. Nine hours later we arrived at my parents' house in Los Banos. After a few hours of sleep we headed down to Dina's folks. Six hours later we arrived in Ventura.
Travel Tip: Always make sure you double-check your six-year-old's suitcase to see if he packed underwear. Otherwise you may find yourself at Kmart the Friday before Christmas in line behind a woman who has neglected to check the cigarette cabinet display to see if the store even stocks her brand.

Shopping Tip: If you're buying smokes the Friday before Christmas, check the cigarette cabinet display before you get in line to see if your brand is in stock. The customers behind you won't appreciate the five minutes it takes the clerk to discover they don't, or the next five minutes you spend with the cashier over at the cig cabinet discovering it for yourself.
A half hour and several spankin-new SpongeBob briefs later we arrived at Dina's folks' door.

Among the many activities Phil enjoyed were playing with Poppa's train set (1, 2, 3) and playing miniature golf:Phil got way too much stuff for Christmas, including a 400-piece K'nex set, Magnetix, the Han Solo/Chewbacca-Millennium Falcon Transformer, the Darth Vader Voice Changer (talk about your buyer's remorse), Tinkertoys, Hot Wheels, digital camera and Pen/FM Radio.

At the big family lunch Phil got more goodies: summer clothes and a 15-in-1 game set (anyone know how to a) play or b) pronounce Mancala?). And we all had way too much food.

Boxing day found us loading up the car (again) and heading to my folks' (again). We dropped Phil there for an hour and a half while we hit a few stores to see if anything was left on their Christmas Closeout shelves. At least it was a break from the Darth Vader Voice Changer...

Next day (what comes after Boxing? Wrestling? Kung-Fu?) we headed home. (Got a picture of Phil and Grandma & Grandpa before we left and Grandpa headed off to work.) We spent way too long in Redding trying to figure out how to put on snow chains and then at Barnes & Noble checking ODOT roadcams to see if the Siskiyou Pass was clear. Then we spent not-long-enough with writing friend Katy Popa in Yreka. Got through the pass no chains/no problem and home about 15 hours after we left Los Banos.

You know the old saying: "Good to get away, good to get home, good to put 2,000+ miles on someone-else's car"? It's really true.

Don't forget: Barnes & Noble's free wi-fi is only available for a few more days.

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Mikesell : 11:05 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from sunny Southern California. Dina, Phil, and I spent the day (and the last couple) with Dina's folks (that's Poppa in the background of Phil's photo, above). The boy made out like mad; Dina and I didn't do too shabbily, either. Among Phil's haul was a digital camera, which provided today's pix. It's less forgiving than the camera he's used to, but he's enjoying it even if not many of the pictures come out well (lighting is a big issue, so's his inability to stand still for half a second). Also, his subject matter choice leaves considerable to be desired.

(In other Phil photo-related news, the publisher of the newspaper that ran an article on me earlier this year requested a new/current photo to run with a reprint of the article in a sister paper. Phil snapped a shot of me and I sent it in with his name listed for the photo credit. Is a career born? And is there money to be made in avant garde porcelain and water shots? Stay tuned.)

At any rate, we had a great day, dining with cousins, an aunt & uncle, and a potential cousin-in-law. Too much Honeybaked and potatoes and rolls -- you can never have too much gravy, but we came close.

Hope you and all yours had a Merry Christmas, too. And if Santa didn't give you the combination ballpoint pen/FM radio that he gave Phil, head on down to CVS and pick one up for $3 while they're still available -- Snazzy!

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Mikesell : 10:52 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Need for Magi

(I entered a version of the following story in Charis Connection's flash-fiction contest last August.)

A Need for Magi

Two gifts. The Kid deserves more.

He plays with the rough-carved Nativity set I made: Christ-child wrestles lamb, champion crowned “King of the Manger.” Last year, teething, he mauled a donkey from our fancy myrtlewood set. Now he’s got his own, plus some blocks made from leftover scrap.

Two lousy gifts.

“Our families will come around,” Mary says, hugging my arm.

“It’s two years. They know they have a grandson, yes?”

Is that fair when I don’t think of him as my, let alone son? Should someone who balks at fatherhood expect better from others?

All I know is my eyebrows hurt from scowling.

A familiar knock hammers through my pessimism. Papa? I stride to the door while Mary tidies her way through the room.

Strangers in robes. “We are magi seeking the King of the Jews. May we enter?”

I step back, bump into Mary—her eyes, wide as when she braved childbirth. “An owl says, ‘Whooo?’ ” I whisper. This time it rates a taut smile.

The magi kneel and pull boxes from their sleeves. The toys on the floor an embarrassment among the cedar and teak and mahogany chased with silver.

The Kid’s nose twists as he slams the first lid shut, but he claps for boxes two and three. After hugging the men, he toddles to the pile of blocks, removes three fat dowels, and holds them out to me. “Ma-guys please.”

Mary and the men laugh.

I join them. Family found us after all.

May you find yourself with family this Christmas, even if you're not related to any of them.

Mikesell : 2:40 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm Going on a Trip...

...and I'm taking
This isn't one of those games where you follow-up with the things you're taking, trying to guess the arcane pattern or criteria in my listing. These are things I'm actually taking (along with a toothbrush and other toiletries, changes of clothes, and my family).

If you're heading out for the holidays, go ahead and list in the comments a few of the things you're taking. Or wish you were taking. Or, if you're reading this on the hotel wi-fi, the things you forgot to pack.

Mikesell : 12:15 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy 33-and-a-Halfth, Sarah

Today is my sister Sarah's 33.5th birthday. She doesn't look a day over 33.25. Have a great day, kid.

Of course, this also means that today is my 38th birthday. So far Phil has surprised me with breakfast in bed (Eggo waffles and Cracklin' Oat Bran, no milk--he brought enough to share, so we did). He also informed me that I have 10 coupons to tell him to do anything, except chores.

Also got word that I made Tony "Waking Lazarus" Hines's Top 100 Publicists list. That's $10 to me, and an added bonus for the day. Thanks Tony!

The best part of turning 38, however, is that this time next month my brother, Bill, will hit the big 4-0. Ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaah.

Don't know what's planned for the rest of the day, but at some point I'm sure I'll use one of my coupons and have Phil do the Bolbi Dance.

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Mikesell : 11:57 AM : 3 snarky remarks

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What! Another iTunes Post?

Yeah. So?

Look, I know I recommended the Charlotte's Web thing the other day. It's a good deal and you should take advantage of it. But I know your time is important, if to no one else than yourself, so I'm not going to waste it going on about other things at the iTunes store you can spend $5 on (though they have added Sudoku and a set of solitaire games to their offerings).

And even though they're free, I'm not going to go on and on and on about the Christmas songs by Sufjan Stevens and The King's Singers they're giving away. Because your time is important. And I respect that.

Which is why it pains me so -- no, wait ... I've been sitting on a pistachio shell -- to suggest you download the six-hour audiobook of John "I'm a PC" Hodgman's Areas of My Expertise. It's free, though your time is not (nor, possibly, is your employer's bandwidth, so fair warning, right?). Still, the cover proclaims that the recording has been "digitally encoded with 'listen while you sleep' hypnotic suggestion technology for painless edification while unconscious." (I believe that "painless" claim is voided if you sleep on pistachio or other nut shells, or really any non-mattress surface; listening to the audiobook while sleeping and driving also not recommended.) So there you go, you multitasker you.

Of course, how you can sleep through all the laughing you'll be doing I can't imagine. That's a commitment to time management I just don't understand.

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Mikesell : 11:44 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, December 18, 2006

That Makes One of Us

Phil's school did a health screening at the beginning of November, and the results arrived in the mail today. The boy has 20/20 vision (20/25 in the right eye ... some kind of mutant power, I'm sure). Body-mass index is 16.8, which puts him in the 80th BMI-for-Age percentile; that's "within normal limits" up to the 84th. Dental exam showed no worries.

Normal blood pressure (something, for a change, Dina and I also have). A big relief as when he does the pressure-cuff machine at the store it registers off the chart and no pulse. Put down the crucifix and the silver bullets Mr. Pharmacist-Man, the boy's okay.

Height: 3'10"; weight: 50.5 lbs.

No scoliosis test until the 5th grade. Aaaah, the old scoliosis test. Good times.

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Mikesell : 3:08 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Read "Nolan McGarry, Space Hobo"

Issue 12 of Ray Gun Revival came out over the weekend. NMSH is one of two Christmas-themed stories included. Here's the blurb:
Space. The final...you know. And where there's a frontier, there are hoboes. Nolan McGarry may not be going where no one has gone before, but he's got SpaceChili and two kids to save. Might just save himself in the process, too.

Visit RGR, here, to find out more about the issue. Or download the issue directly (PDF format, about 4MB).

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Mikesell : 10:28 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Holiday Bargainwatch: Charlotte's Web at iTunes

The iTunes Store is selling the Charlotte's Web audiobook (read by author E.B. White) at a red-tag price: $4.95. This is the same audible.com recording that goes for $17.50 at their site. Price good through Christmas.

Over three hours of unabridged book, plus an essay read by George Plimpton. Okay, maybe not the biggest selling point for buying the children's book -- "Listen, honey! The dulcet warble of George Plimpton." -- but he does complement White nicely.

Now maybe you're thinking "iTunes? But I don't have an iPod ... or a Nano ... or an old Mini ... or one of the two styles of Shuffle. What about me?" Well, despite the common misperception, you don't need an Apple-branded MP3 player to listen to iTunes content. You can burn files to CDs. You can listen to files on your computer (either Mac or PC). If you have a non-Apple player, you can burn files to CD then re-rip the content to an unprotected format (there are also gray market ways of removing the DRM "enhancements" -- nudge, wink, say no more). So let's not have any more of this "iTunes Store-bought files only work on iPods" nonsense, okay?

Not entirely sure about the movie (now in theaters). Julia Roberts creeps me out. Then again, spiders do too... I guess if I get too freaked I can fall back on the New English tones of Elwyn Brooks (wonder why he went with the initials?). Aaaaaaah -- plus George Plimpton.

Mikesell : 1:10 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, December 15, 2006

Not Even Close

Well, it's nearing the end of the year and I just added another book to my 2006 Books Read list (Story, by Robert McKee). Looking over the list I see I'm nowhere close to meeting my book-a-week goal. I'm likely to fall short of the nonfiction book-a-month target, as well -- Story was only #10 for the year.

What will the final tally be? Tune in next month to find out.

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Mikesell : 11:50 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In Time for Christmas: 30%-off at Borders

Fine print:
Offer valid with Borders Rewards membership only. Excludes previous and online purchases, gift cards, periodicals, comics, non-stock special orders, all electronics, including the Sony® Reader and the Zune™, Seattle's Best Coffee products, and shipping. May not be combined with other coupons, sale pricing, or corporate, classroom, or other group discounts. Original coupon must be relinquished at time of purchase. Single use coupon. One coupon per customer per day during the valid period. Void where prohibited by law. Any other use constitutes fraud. Cash value .01¢. Not redeemable for cash. Valid only in U.S. stores 12/14-12/18/06.
Have fun!

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Mikesell : 8:22 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

There Go Those Belt Holes

On Monday, author Lisa Samson blogged on Chicken-Fried Bacon, the claim-to-fame specialty at Sodolak's Steak House in Snook, Texas.

Now she's come across YouTube video of the delicacy. Just watching the video added about 20 pounds to my belly. But, mmmmmmmmmmm.

Dina's heading off to an Camp Association conference in Austin first part of next year. She just might have to make a side trip and bring me home a doggy bag. (If I'm going to have to carry around these 20 extra pounds I WANT MY BACON!!!)

(and maybe one of those two-pound steaks.)

(and since I'm earning the 20 pounds the hard way, an order of the onion rings ... no, make that a triple.)

Mikesell : 9:32 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Honorably Mentioned Poem #2

Deborah P. Kolodji's "On the Crest of Victoria Crater," another honorable mention winner in DKA's 2006 poetry contest, has been posted at the magazine.

Check it out.

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Mikesell : 8:54 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another 'nother Notch in My Belt

Back in May I blogged about finding a favorite old belt and punching an extra notch in it so it would fit after I had lost some weight.

Well, this morning I went and added another hole. The belt fits in the sense that it's holding up my pants better now, but it has an extra two inches of strap hanging at the loose end. Not very stylish.

Maybe Santa will drop off a Swiss Army Knife with reamer/punch function this year. Maybe one with a saw, too, so I can remove the excess beltage.

And those Levi's? Soooo unattractive on me ... but they are on me.

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Mikesell : 3:24 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Another TitleTrakk Win

Meant to blog on this yesterday but the Yoo-Hoo and Ho-Ho partying for the short story sale left me feeling bloated and logy (once the sugar rush wore off).

Anyhoo, I won TitleTrakk's Railroad Spike Contest again! (Really, people, you can't win if you don't enter -- and if you don't win, apparently I do...) Proud (soon-to-be) owner of Craig Parshall's legal thriller Custody of the State (Harvest House). Thanks TitleTrakk!

This week, TitleTrakk is running a First Line Contest: They print the opening line of a novel, you track it down by hook*, crook**, or Google.

So please, for the love of books, enter the contest this time, huh?

*Hooking is not legal in most states; TitleTrack not responsible for fines and/or jail-time accrued in the pursuit of solving the First Line Contest puzzle.

**Likewise, crooking.

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Mikesell : 9:59 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, December 10, 2006

#9

Got word earlier today that a short story I wrote has been accepted for publication. This is the ninth story, poem, or article I've had accepted this year. Up from one last year.

"Nolan McGarry, Space Hobo" is slated to run in an upcoming issue of Ray Gun Revival.

Stay tuned.

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Mikesell : 7:18 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I Spy ... a Bargain

Wednesday night we stopped at Wendy's for dinner. Phil got the chickenesque nuggets kids meal, which currently has an "I Spy" theme. No, not the hip Culp/Cosby TV series. The where-the-heck-is-the-marble-hidden book series. We have several of the books and one of CD-ROM games. Good stuff, Maynard.

Anyhoo, on the bag is an offer to get two of the I Spy CD-ROMs (Treasure Hunt and Fantasy) for $9.99. The games run $20 at Target (the only place I've seen stocking them), and neither of these is the one I already have (Spooky Mansion) -- and paid $20 for at Target. And the ten-dollar price includes shipping.

The way I figure it, that's a 75% savings. Can't beat that.

Plus chickenesque nuggets. Mmmmm ... esque.

Mikesell : 8:46 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sour-D'oh!

A mouse has been driving me nuts for the last three days. He's been living in my office and pestering me. Not just skritching at the baseboards in the middle of the night--no, he's darting through the middle of the room night and day.

The other morning I heard a scratching noise over at one of the bookshelves. I turned and mousie peeked his head out, tucked it in, peeked out again. Then he ran to another bookshelf and did the same thing. Nothing's more humbling than being mocked by a mouse.

We set traps baited with peanut butter and placed them in the paths he usually runs. Thinking, I guess, that even if he wasn't hungry, maybe he'd run into a trap accidentally. Apparently mousie has a peanut allergy and some kind of peanut-radiation geiger counter. So I bought new traps today and loaded some with cheese, others with balls of sourdough bread.

Sourdough won. Mousie lost.

I'm leaving the traps out for a while in case it was actually multiple mice recreating the climactic scene from Amigos, Amigos, Amigos, and all the mice were dressed up in the same outfit so we'd think one mouse was everywhere. I hope we don't have a plethora of pesky rodents, but we'll see.

Mikesell : 11:00 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Other Things You Learn

Good post today at John McIntyre's You Don't Say blog on "Things People Get Wrong".

I would have gotten the "dark side of the moon" thing wrong. Probably make the "light year" mistake, too, though I really do know better.

Mikesell : 11:36 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Things You Learn

Mir Schultz blogged about a fun and free way to make your own Motivational posters. She's come up with some religious-themed ones, and challenged visitors to create their own.

I came up with one for Judas. Not entirely sure how that's supposed to motivate you, but it's a good thing to remember. Along with Proverbs 27:6.

Initially, I thought the tagline came from a book I had years ago (lost in a flood, alas), titled Minims. Fortunately, I found the book reproduced online (navigation buttons below the book page). Unfortunately, the saying wasn't there. "It is better to remain childless than to father an orphan" and "A man with a cabbage for a head
will never want for nourishment" were, though. Bathe in the profundity for a moment. Let it wash over you. No splashing.

So I racked my brain a little more. Finally remembered YHWH Is Not a Ratio Station in Minneapolis, found it on my bookshelf, and there it was. Under K for Kiss (Kiss instead of Judas would work on the poster; the context of Holbein's painting comes through, I think). YHWHINaRSiM is a book of "things everyone should know" about the Bible. Silly things. Snarky things. I love the two entries for the letter G:
G is for Gravy, which is never mentioned in the Bible.

G is also for God. He is mentioned in the Bible. A lot. I think you already knew that.
If you come across a copy in a used book or thrift store, check it out. (C. McNair Wilson, author of YHWHIN..., has a blog on creativity. Check that out, too.)

Meantime, make your own motivational poster (or otherwise get your point across) and link to it in the comments. It's free. It's fun. Silly and snarky work, too.

Mikesell : 9:15 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Poetry Moment

One of the runners-up from the DKA poetry contest has been posted at the mag: Open - by Patricia Kelly.

Not a long poem, but it gets you thinking. (The contest's theme was "revelation," and all that may entail, so the thinking's to be expected.)

And as much as you may hate it when that happens (again, the thinking part), check out the poem anyway.

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Mikesell : 11:29 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nifty

Hey, all the formatting options are back in Blogger Beta for Mac Firefox. (Though I'm not the only one cranky over recent "issues." Hi Mir!)

And I found a spiffy feature in Yahoo! Messenger that shows what you're listening to in iTunes instead of the default "Available" message. Yeah, it was real complicated: activate the drop-down menu beside "Available" and choose "Current iTunes Track" from the options.

Now when I'm chatting and the A-Team theme song rolls around I don't have to interrupt the conversation to crow about it. Sure, I probably will anyway, but I don't have to. When it's the Rockford Files theme, though, it's not an option. People will be told -- and jealous, I'm sure. Barney Miller, same deal.

Got a nifty and/or spiffy discovery to brighten a Monday that was mixed clouds and pretty darn cold? Should comments be working again (still?), let me know.

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Mikesell : 8:52 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Beating the Beta Blogger Blues

Somehow Blogger has managed to remove the spellcheck, add image, and preview features from the inputting window when using the OSX version of Firefox (following their "update" the other day).

Those features appear if you use Safari instead. Spellcheck doesn't actually work, but the icon at least shows up.

Word verification is down for everybody, so comments are hosed at the moment.

[10:15 -- comments are back up ... for now]

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Mikesell : 11:00 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Friday, December 01, 2006

Six Things -- Not Necessarily Sequentially

1: Phil's new shoe size. Went out to get him a new pair of shoes and he's out of the kid sizes already.

2: The Second Season of Babylon 5 is now available at the iTunes store.

3: This week's CFBA pick is the third book in the Landon Snow series: L.S. and the Island of Arcanum. I haven't managed to finish it yet, but what I've read so far is very good. Check out other CFBA members Kevin Lucia and Val Comer, as well as author R.K. Mortenson's website -- landonsnow.com -- for more info. (Val's giving away a copy of the book, and also has a link to a free Landon Snow -- move over, Grinch! -- Christmas short story.) I hope to have a Book Chat with Randy up in the next few days.

11: At 11 o'clock this morning we went to a parent-teacher conference to find out how the boy's doing. In Spinal Tap terms, he's gone all the way to 11 with reading. Math's not far behind. Great job, Phil!

6: Phil has the attention span of a six year old. That and his penmanship were the only things his teacher said he needed to work on.

24: Days left until Christmas. Phil -- have I mentioned he's doing well in school? -- figured this out in his head (what's twenty-five minus one?).

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Mikesell : 8:25 PM : 0 snarky remarks