Take a Tour…

Welcome to the Fryer house!

C’mon in, it’s nice and warm, but please take off your shoes.

Just head on up the stairs on the right. On the left are stairs to the basement.

This is our living room at the top of the stairs, with our dining room in the background.

Please, pay no attention to the clutter. We have it there just, y’know, to hold the table down. It’s a very light wood.

A left from the dining (or straight from the stairs) leads us to the kitchen.

And, of course, life wouldn’t be complete without a kid on the kitchen floor.


The Quiet…

A few years ago, I was reading George Carlin’s book Brain Droppings, and he had a fascinating tidbit in there about the noise of the world now and the world little more than one hundred years ago. He mentioned that one hundred years ago, there were no cell phones, no televisions, no satellites, no internet, no radio. Today there are waves of nearly every form and frequency flowing through the air and through our very bodies. Constantly. We are ceaselessly bombarded now. One hundred years ago there was nothing. Complete silence. No wonder disappearing into the high California mountains has always felt so healing and clean (despite the usual company I was with.)

This thought came back to me the other day as I was getting my morning dosage of my unfortunate addiction. At the gas station, pumping through the speakers that freezing morning, was music. A radio station is on for all to hear. It occurred to me that not all too long ago, one would rarely hear music on a daily basis. At least not as we do today.

From every direction and angle, music is piped into our lives. There is now no longer a corner of our world free of music. That is not to say music is in any way a bad thing. Humans have always not only enriched their lives through music, but have used music to help define it. But now, the overuse of music has diminished its impact, leaving it trivial and empty.

Perhaps this is evidence of a different situation altogether. Having all this music around to accentuate our lives is creating something. We now can have our own personal soundtracks as it were. As though one’s life is a movie (which many dream it could be), background music can emphasize, accentuate, or even change our moods. One may envelop themselves into a world of their own creation. Well, not exactly their own creation, as the music is composed (or, more frequently, manufactured as I tend to call it) by those not even remotely connected to them.

Individuals seem to now close themselves off from the world more frequently and quite voluntarily. They see and hear only what they wish to. The true reality that they are in fact touching, smelling, and hearing, is being shunned for their own preferences. A music player always in their ears and colored sunglasses in front of their eyes, they drown out the world around them to instead feel what they have carefully filtered and adulterated. The sense of distinction between what is actual versus notional, as well as the feelings of connection to what naturally encompasses us all, dull to the point of numbness.

The topic of this sort of self-absorbtion is one on which I shall assuredly return. While I am a strong believer in the idea that the individual human will is the single strongest force we know in this world, I also fall into what is simply a truth; that we are not alone and that we are inherently social creatures. The soul of a single person grows from its interactions with others, and it is this collection that creates a community, allowing us to achieve more than any one person could ever possibly do.

And that last paragraph gave me a whole other set of ideas to play with. Toodles~

Wow, It’s Nearly Christmas…

Watching my son put ornaments on our small Christmas tree this evening gave me the feeling that I really am somewhere completely new and special in my life. It’s such a foreign sensation being a parent right now. I’m watching my boy excitedly play around the tree as I did when I was little, and it’s very surreal. It’s one of those things that I knew would eventually happen, but there was no way I could have ever imagined it feeling like this.

The whole moment was very brief, as other things were on my mind. Our water heater decided to crack enough to leak all over the laundry room floor. So, as seems to be the trend at our house, we’ll be replacing it with a much more energy efficient appliance. What fun to be with a barely functioning source of hot water for a few days! So much for enjoying the one creation of modern man I love above all others.

Michelle’s folks stopped by this evening, because I had called up her dad about the water heater. Luckily, a friend of his is a certified pipe fitter and will help us out with the installation. Her parents were out shopping, and in their travels they also picked up my fledgling family’s first Christmas tree.

Austin had a blast hanging up ornaments and seeing the many colors of lights. He was insistent on keeping the rest of the house lights off to better see the tree glow.

It hasn’t really felt like the holidays this year, though. We see houses covered in lights, but we have no decorations of our own. There was nowhere near enough time and funds for us to take care of that on top of everything involved in assembling a house. It’s not as though we won’t make use of the spirit we have, though. Austin’s seemingly bottomless well of energy, while is often hard to keep up with, does also replenish us, even when we are at our most exhausted.

I still have to admit it will be a tough holiday for me. Not having a single person on my side of the family within arm’s reach… It’s a bit depressing thinking about it, even though I finally have the wife and son with me that I’d been dreaming of for years. I will just have to be sure to coordinate with my sister to ensure our computers are streaming video to one another. I know Austin’ll be excited. He just loves seeing himself in a camera.

All the peace and love in the world is in you, enjoy it.


PS, came up with this the other day: “Welcome to Japan’s Currency Exchange, where we have a Yen for your money!”


I’ve recently decided to try a little experiment. On my old PowerBook, I have decided to rearrange the keyboard. It now has the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout. I’m still quite slow on it, but I only just changed the keys last night. It does feel like a more natural way of typing the English language.

For those who don’t know, here is what the Dvorak keyboard looks like:

The main principle behind its design were to make one’s fingers alternate between vowels on the left hand and the heavily used consonants on the right hand. I’m actually typing this entry using this system, and I can already tell the difference. So far I think the hardest change is the ‘L’ key.

I have had an interest in the Dvorak system ever since I was little. I remember reading an article about it in US News and World report and being mystified by the fact the QWERTY keyboard was designed to slow a typer down. What boggled my mind even more was that people didn’t switch to a better keyboard with the creation of the electric typewriter or the personal computer. So I’ve always had an inclination try it out, and now that I have an abundance of computer gear I figured I’d be able to learn without interfering with others’ work.

While seeking the settings for this different setup, I came across this article which had apparently been originally published almost exactly one century after the invention of the first typewriter. It shows some of the research Dr Dvorak of the University of Washington, Seattle did. It is quite a fascinating read. For a little more information, I also read the Dvorak keyboard entry at Wikipedia.

So far, I like the way this works. Besides, what can it hurt? It’s not like learning this new system means I’ll suddenly forget how to type the other way. With each new musical instrument I get under my fingers, I’m still able to play my saxes with no trouble. I highly recommend this experiment to anyone if they have time enough without anything urgent on their plate.


One Month In…

I can hardly believe it, but Michelle and I have been married for a month already. Time continues to slip through my fingers (as does my ideal of writing an entry here at least once a week.) As always, life with her is just fine, because really it’s me hanging out with my best friend all the time. We relax with puzzles or movies in the evenings that we don’t have anything urgent to do.

It finally feels as though life has finally settled into a regular rhythm. Of course, most of it is Michelle and I playing tag-team to take care of Austin and make sure he stays on only part-time daycare. It seems unfortunate that we have to work so hard to maintain such a delicate balance of our time, essentially limiting how much we can really accomplish in a day. Austin is definitely a kid to require some surplus supervision. He has a tendency to try to dismantle anything with a button. Or a power cord. Or with some string. Or something on the counter. Or on the desk. Okay, let’s just say anything in this material plane of existence is in danger. Sorry, folks, he really is my son.

We’ve been spending much of our time finally building our home. The majority of our efforts have been on making our living room more livable. So in the past month, we’ve found furniture, lighting, and a television armoire that we really like, and finally where we live is feeling more like home. It’s not the fact we’ve put in lots of stuff that makes it feel more like home. I prefer to think that I’m not that materialistic. I think it’s more because we’re making the house ours. Instead of seeing the spaces where the carpet has been worn by the feet of other people, we walk around our personally arranged furniture. We’ve been gathering our twigs and leaves and arranging our nest to what makes us comfortable. It’s not just our house, it’s our home now.

Michelle and I are particularly proud of how we’ve replaced our lighting throughout the house. Here’s where I’ll be getting on my little soapbox for a bit. I have gone through my entire house and cut the electrical cost of lighting my home by seventy-five percent. While there may have been a bit of initial investment in these small, spiraling compact fluorescent bulbs, they will last me for years and each one uses less than one quarter of the energy of the equivalent light output from an incandescent bulb. Believe it or not, the initial investment wasn’t much at all. If bought in some bulk, they come out to around two dollars a bulb for the basic wattages that one would expect. Take into account that they last over five times longer and use one-fourth of the energy, and you’ll find they save tons of money over the rather long haul. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can find them for even less. We went to Lowes recently and they were offering rebates making packs of four bulbs free! The cost of lighting my entire house dropped seventy-five percent, and we have barely spent a dime. Please folks, do yourselves and the rest of the world a huge favor. Make your homes more energy efficient. You’ll save tons of money, our rather old electrical grids won’t be as strained, and in the end we’ll decrease our need for so much fuel in general.

[steps down]

A couple weekends ago, I had the opportunity to babysit my new niece-in-law along with my son. Now, Austin is a challenge in himself at times, but he’s constantly getting better, particularly his manners lately. What made the evening and following day more of a trial at times is the fact Alisa, who is seven, had to get through some culture shock of dealing with our house rules. Okay, I will admit, most of the time I was rather amused by her misery, but hey, who doesn’t enjoy the suffering of children? What I thought was especially funny was how every ninety seconds or so, she would change from loving to me hating me, then back again. She just couldn’t fathom that people not only can, but voluntarily, live without constant television and junk food. You would have thought she was stepping into 1952 Russia, our rules are that repressive. Austin seems to manage just fine, though, with his television time being earned through good behavior.

The next morning, I wound up with a third child. Our friend needed a sitter for her two year old daughter, Alexi, and since she and Austin play so well together, I said sure. Michelle had to work all morning, so I really was on my own with three kids. The two young ones played lots and occupied each other, I played some cards with Alisa, and I made everyone lunch. When Austin has an actual friend to play with, he’s got a really good demeanor, and when playing host, is more than happy to let people know of all the rules of the house, even the ones he regularly breaks. While Alisa made things a little tougher, it was nice to know that I could handle watching the number of kids that I hope to wind up with. I could also appreciate why taking care of that many kids is readily a full-time job.

Not much else going on these days. I’ve been working every day, with each day being identical yet radically different. I’m still waiting to get the remainder of my signups for the jazz band so we can start up in January. I joined Michelle for her company Christmas dinner, and it went much better than I had anticipated. We went to Jax Cafe, which is an absolutely amazing high-class restaurant in Minneapolis. I wasn’t completely bored, and the food and drinks were top notch.

Oh, I should mention Thanksgiving in here too, since that happened as well. It was a nice dinner, very low key, with just Michelle’s local family around. I’m still thankful for the greatest thing in life: indoor plumbing. It was still a little tough being away from all my family, and it’s been regularly hitting me how much I miss them, along with my friends. But I guess I have to remember how hard it was spending holidays away from Michelle and Austin, and how everything felt incomplete without them.

Well, once again, because I haven’t written in so long, this entry has gotten quite lengthy. I’m still working on getting pictures of our house and home up for folks to see it and how it’s changed. I almost got a video shot tonight that I plan to upload somewhere, but Michelle decided that she, and about half our house, was not going to be viewed. Oh well, the time will come. Hopefully this weekend, when it might be a little more sunny out and the lighting will be better.

Toodles all~