I love cartoons. I always have. I won’t say I love them all- some really suck. I didn’t really notice the suckier ones until I got older.

Sometimes good writing can save bad animation or substandard artwork. Sometimes it is just bad all around and you wonder how the creators and voice actors can live with themselves (watch Frosty Returns– the sad sequel to Frosty the Snowman- and you will be scarred for life- I suggest a few beers first or if in Colorado, take a hard pull).

I have created exactly two animations in my life. The first was actually created digitally but performed analog-ly as a flip book animation. You know, relying on persistence of vision to achieve the illusion of continuous movement through a series of still pictures viewed in rapid succession. Yes, that. A friend had commissioned a short flip book animation to entertain his med school friends in a set of class notes. I, with nothing better to do with my life, obliged.

My second attempt at animation was messing around with Adobe Flash software, just to see if I could pull off animating an egg rolling across the screen. Apparently I did. View the Rolling Egg Show by clicking the link there a few words back. I added sound effects and everything.

I cannot show you my first animation in its origial format, because I was not a med student, and you are reading this on some kind of electronic device. But, through the magic of the digital equivalent of the flip book, that scourge of the internet known as the animated GIF, I present my first Animated Short, which I like to call Flip Book Animation for Ed.




Simple enough word, “move.” It is my word for 2014, the concept I will focus on.

I have chosen one word because choosing one word for the year is cool. Resolutions are passé. Thirty-five percent of us who make New Year’s resolutions break them by the end of January, and only 23 percent of everyone who makes a resolution will see it through to completion [source:FranklinCovey]. I don’t know if I ever outwardly declared New Year’s Resolutions, but I know when I have made them to myself I failed to keep them. I am weak, so there.

Why “move?” It is simple and straightforward and can apply to most of the things I do. I will move my stuff (off the kitchen table), I will move my butt (away from the TV/computer/device), I will move the snow (off the driveway). I will not, however, move to a new house (at least not in the foreseeable future) no matter how much the current one frustrates me. I have to draw the line somewhere.

I will move my pencil across the sketch pad or my stylus across the iPad, whichever I happen to have handy at the time. I will move the ideas out of my head to someplace where I can refer to them later because it is getting crowded in there. I will move the fat in my midsection to wherever fat goes when you lose it. I would like very much to move myself across Iowa by bicycle during the last full week in July.

What I really want to do is move forward, but apparently I can only choose one word. Maybe next year I will choose “forward” and just keep doing what I’m doing.

Shoot, now I can’t get “I Like to Move It” out of my head.

I’m Back.

When I joined Facebook almost five years ago, I thought to myself, “hey, what a great way to force my friends to read what I write!”

I didn’t need to maintain my own blog, and I could still fulfill my need to be read by people. I continued to maintain my website, but I did more format tweaking than I did posting. Facebook was for the short bursts of content, while the long-winded pieces would appear on my main site, with a link from Facebook. My long-winded posts are so long, I am having trouble finishing them. When will you see the follow-up posts to “My Bikes, Part 1: The Early Years” or even “Reflections on RAGBRAI XXXVII Part II: The Food?” Maybe soon.

I mostly use Facebook to be funny- I really can’t bring myself to take it seriously. I know some people who are always very sincere (which is not a bad thing) but I can’t do that for fear of validating Mark Zuckerberg. I do slip up from time to time, and I don’t make a joke. Sorry.

So, I’m going back to blogging, like I say every year about this time. I may de-content my Facebook collection of images so I can use my own site to showcase my talents, like my brother Jim (except for all the pictures of beer, who knows). I look forward to the five of you returning to and seeing the new format I will undoubtedly start using.

In a parallel universe somewhere...

The Scoop on Litter

Those of you who know me well understand my penchant for having the right tool for the right job. This extends beyond tools, as I have bike shoes, golf shoes, running shoes,  hiking shoes, waterproof shoes, dress shoes, steel-toe shoes, flip-flops for knocking around indoors, flip-flops for knocking around outdoors, sandals, work boots, snow boots, high tops, low tops, slippers, and even those shoes that have individual toes. I have a smartphone, an iPad, and a laptop. I have headphones, earbuds, wireless headphones, wireless earbuds, and a water bottle-shaped iPod speaker. I have two cats, three litter boxes, and four litter scoops.

I am the primary litter box custodian, for reasons that are shrouded in the mists of time. While not high on the list of marketable skills, I like to think cleaning the litter boxes almost exclusively for twelve of the last thirteen years gets me points, somewhere. At the very least, I want credit for knowing what works. I also like to think it is up to me to continuously improve my technique, and that means testing new tools!

The Amazing Litter-Lifter!

burnhamish highly recommends the Litter-Lifter.

For years I had used a litter pan sifting system that cleaned out the litter in one fell swoop, more or less. For reasons beyond the scope of this post, I have had to return to scooping. But, the old scoop was not up to the task. It was flimsy and did not adequately catch and retain small nuggets. I needed something that would not bend or break, but could more thoroughly sift. I tried a scoop with adjustable slots- gadgety, but ineffective. The heavy metal scoop was strong, but the small bits still got away as I shook the scoop free of clean litter.

Then I tried the Litter-Lifter. Best. Scoop. Ever. I does what it says- clean litter passes through quickly, and the clumpier bits get caught. It is sturdy for chopping and scraping. Like a Mac, it just works. With litter boxes on three levels of the house and the need to clean them every day or so, I bought a second Litter-Lifter. My wife does not understand why I need yet another scoop, when we already had three. The other scoops, while adequate, are not the best. I only choose the best.

Best six bucks I ever spent.

Reductions In Force

Who wants to stay at home on a weekday without anything requiring your attention, knowing that there will be no repercussions for not going into work that day? Me! For over twenty years, those days came around only during holidays, or vacation, or sickness. Then again, maybe not even during those times, since I knew that any time spent away from work meant more work, or more stress, once I returned.

For the last two weeks, I have spent my weekdays at home, trying to keep busy with hobbies, helping my wife get her business off the ground, and achieving all first place grand prix trophies in Mario Kart. Because of economic factors well beyond my control, I was impacted by my company’s need to reduce indirect costs by 20%, which included a reduction in force. This is not my first experience with RIF, but it has been twenty years since the first time it happened. My circumstances are different, and the impact is far greater effects now than it was when I was 25. I was far better off as an unemployed single person living at home than I am as a homeowner, married, and father of two school age children. I can’t speak for other singles out there who may be out of work, since everyone’s circumstances are different, but the fewer dependents you have, the easier it is for you to be out of a job.

Those who know me are probably thinking, “wow, you must be getting in a lot of bicycle riding now,” and you would be very wrong. What? I’m not riding more? What the hell is wrong with me?

Before I had children, I would ride twenty or so miles three or four days a week on days I did not work out with weights or rubber bands or whatever. After children, I stopped working out altogether and got fatter and weaker (insofar as I can get fat at all, which is more than you might think). When I discovered bicycling was eliminating the curious knee pain I developed since stopping my workouts, I took up bicycle commuting. This got me to work and got me a workout all in one shot. When I lived 19 miles from work and rode there three days a week, that was plenty of hard riding and I only went out otherwise on short easy rides with the kids. With the latest job change, my commute dropped to 11 miles one to four times a week. But I did not really ride otherwise, since there were still family obligations, I told myself.

Now I don’t commute at all, since I have no job. So I can ride whenever I want (until I get another job), but I am experiencing another kind of reduction in force- the force that used to get me out on my bicycle for a couple of hours at a time, even when it was 50 degrees and drizzly. A reduction in the desire to ride straight out of town into the cornfields for ten or fifteen miles and looping back on an unfamiliar road. I am however feeling an increase in the desire to ride my bike the two miles into town instead of driving, like to get a haircut or a latte or something small. Unless I have to pick up some drywall or 120 pounds of kitty litter, I can handle small errands on a bike, at least until I can buy a decent trailer. I rode out to the strip malls on the other side of town (3-1/2 miles) to see how bad it really was to bike it out there. It wasn’t so bad.

I did go out last week, in my “roadie” regalia (except I wore my commuter sandals, which I’m sure would perturb a “real” roadie), for a 25 mile loop through the cornfields to the west and back, and it felt pretty good to ride for the sake of riding. I still have some time before my next job starts, whenever that is. It is likely that it will not be a bike-commutable job, unless you consider 25-35 miles one-way bike-commutable, so I will need to get out and ride otherwise again. Now I have no excuse for not rebooting my weight training (such that it was) on days I do not ride.

Suddenly, I’m feeling very tired.



The Batavia Schools mascot is a bulldog. Last spring, there was a student art show at the elementary school, and ceramic bulldogs painted by various families were displayed.

I did not submit an entry.

I did buy a bulldog, however, and eventually painted it during my daughter’s birthday outing to Ceramics on the Fox.

My bulldog is a tribute to the state of Michigan and all the water we left behind when we moved back to Illinois. Enjoy!