As evidence that Laralee is truly the greatest person ever, she went out today– after the second-worst snowstorm in the last decade– and shoveled our driveway.

Why is this amazing?

1) Our driveway is about sixty feet long.
2) It faces north, meaning it’s usually iced over and never melts from sunlight.
3) She had already shoveled it three days ago, after the worst snowstorm in the last decade.

But even more amazing:

4) She then shoveled the driveways of three of our neighbors, and the sidewalk along the entire street.

The neighbors were all out of town (presumably visiting family for the holidays) and Laralee thought how much it would suck to come home from a vacation and find your driveway buried under almost two feet of snow. So she spent almost four hours huffing and puffing in 25-degree weather, and when Bill and Greg and Tami all get back home, they’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Now I probably owe her a backrub or something.


“I’m the commander– see, I don’t need to explain… I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being president.”

— President George Bush, in the book Bush at War

“I’m also not very analytical. You know I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things.”

— President George Bush, June 4 2003

“I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe… I believe what I believe is right.”

— President George Bush, July 22 2001

“See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don’t attack each other. Free nations don’t develop weapons of mass destruction.”

— President George Bush, Oct 3 2003

“If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”

— President George Bush, Dec 19 2000

Let’s give him a hand, ladies and gentlemen! Truly a man of powerful words.


La’s been listening to Christmas music almost non-stop since Thanksgiving, so I’ve had a chance to hear all sorts of songs I don’t usually jam to while I’m working.

One of the more “fun” Christmas songs is the Spanish song “Los Peces en el Rio”, which is translated as “The Fishes in the River”. It was playing just now and I asked La what the heck a bunch of fish in the river have to do with Christmas. She said she couldn’t understand the lyrics– it’s a pretty fast song and her Spanish is a bit rusty– but of course I was curious so I looked up the lyrics.

Here are a few selected stanzas from the song, translated into English:

“They drink and they drink
And they return to drink,
The fishes in the river,
To see God being born.”

Aha! Obviously there’s the link to Christmas: the fish are drinking (and then drinking some more, apparently) as they watch Jesus. But here’s the best line:

“The Virgin washes diapers
And hangs them on the rosemary,
The birdies singing
And the rosemary flowering.”

Uhh. Mary is washing diapers? I mean, sure, you know she did it at some point (even Jesus had to poop) but it seems like a strange thing to put in a Christmas song.

Anyway, it’s still a fun song…


We were at Pizza Hut the other day (yes, nothing but the best for the Schroeder Clan!) and one of the kids’ menus had a bunch of “what if” questions.  There were the usual “what if you had three wishes” and “what if you were President for a day”, but the one that got me thinking was “what if you had a million dollars”.

I remember as a kid thinking that a million dollars was a near-infinite amount of money.  Via time, inflation, and perhaps just the general realities of adulthood, I now realize that a million dollars isn’t actually all that much money.

Granted, it’s a mountain of cash and I wouldn’t turn it down, but it’s not like you can retire on that these days.  Since that’s one of my big goals for the next six years or so (retire at 40) it would certainly help me hit that goal, but by itself it’s just not enough.

So, pondering a bit, I wondered what I would really do if I received a million-dollar check today.

Would I stash it all into investments, playing with stocks and mutual funds and so forth?  Would I buy a bunch of real estate (in this market– yikes) and hope to cash out in a few years?  Although these are probably sound financial moves, they’re pretty boring.

To be less boring, maybe I would blow it all on powerboats and elaborate vacations and spiffy electronic gadgets.  That would be fun until I ran out of cash and the next year’s gadgets came out and were all ever-so-slightly better than the ones I have.

Perhaps there would be more reasonable things to buy: two new cars, since both mine and Laralee’s are struggling at 12 years.  Pay off the mortgage.  Redecorate the house and replace the ancient particle-board bookshelves.

And then there’s the philanthropic aspect to consider: donate money to a worthy charity.  Give lavish gifts to friends and family.  Help the people I know are struggling financially by sending an anonymous chunk of cash.

In short, I really don’t have any idea what I would do.  I suppose the answer to this question would reveal a lot about one’s personality, and how generous (or selfish or short-sighted) they are.

What would you do?


I found another t-shirt that I need to have in my wardrobe whenever I’m going to fly somewhere:

This is Allen Jasson, an Australian man who was flying from Melbourne to London and was told he wouldn’t be allowed to board the airplane unless he removed his shirt. Clearly I need one.


Today I did the unthinkable. I actually bought a pair of tennis shoes.

I think the last pair I bought was somewhere around eight or nine years ago. I’ve bought a couple pairs of sandals since then, but I only wear my tennis shoes a few times a year, so they’ve persisted through the ages.

I was reminded of Obi-Wan Kenobi, when he muttered the immortal lines:

“New shoe smell… now that’s a smell I haven’t smelt in a long time. A long time.”