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This passage, lifted from A Prayer for Owen Meany, is a perfect "literal metaphor" (an oxymoron?) for the emotions I was feeling about the screaming kids and their parents, on both my flight to and from Austin:

The other thing preferable about the weekday services is that no one is there against his will. That's another distraction on Sundays. Who hasn't suffered the experience of having an entire family seated in the pew in front of you, the children at war with each other and sandwiched between the mother and father who are forcing them to go to church? An aura of stale arguments almost visibly clings to the hasty clothing of the children. "This is the one morning I can sleep in!" the daughter's linty sweater says. "I get so bored!" says the upturned collar of the son's suit jacket. Indeed, the children imprisoned between their parents move constantly and restlessly in the pew; they are so crazy with self-pity, they seem ready to scream.

The stern-looking father who occupies the aisle seat has his attention interrupted by fits of vacancy—an expression so perfectly empty accompanies his sternness and his concentration that I think I glimpse an underlying truth to the man's churchgoing: that he is doing it only for the children, in the manner that some men with much vacancy of expression are committed to a marriage. When the children are old enough to decide about church for themselves, this man will stay home on Sundays.

The frazzled mother, who is the lesser piece of bread to this family sandwich—and who is holding down that part of the pew from which the most unflattering view of the preacher in the pulpit is possible (directly under the preacher's jowls)—is trying to keep her hand off her daughter's lap. If she smooths out her daughter's skirt only one more time, both of them know that the daughter will start to cry.

The son takes from his suit jacket pocket a tiny, purple truck; the father snatches this away—with considerable bending and crushing of the boy's fingers in the process. "Just one more obnoxious bit of behavior from you," the father whispers harshly, "and you will be grounded—for the rest of the day."

"The whole rest of the day?" the boy says, incredulous. The apparent impossibility of sustaining unobnoxious behavior for even part of the day weighs heavily on the lad, and overwhelms him with a claustrophobia as impenetrable as the claustrophobia of church itself.

The daughter has begun to cry.

"Why is she crying?" the boy asks his father, who doesn't answer. "Are you having your period?" the boy asks his sister, and the mother leans, across the daughter's lap and pinches the son's thigh—a prolonged, twisting sort of pinch. Now he is crying, too. Time to pray! The kneeling pads flop down, the family flops forward. The son manages the old hymnal trick; he slides a hymnal along the pew, placing it where his sister will sit when she's through praying.

"Just one more thing," the father mutters in his prayers.

But how can you pray, thinking about the daughter's period? She looks old enough to be having her period, and young enough for it to be the first time. Should you move the hymnal before she's through praying ad sits on it? Should you pick up the hymnal and bash the boy with it? But the father is the one you'd like to hit; and you'd like to pinch the mother's thigh, exactly as she pinched her son. How can you pray?



I forgot to mention this yesterday. I bought some SONS stock in 2005 & 2006 when it was at about $4.50 a share, and sold it in January of 2007 at around $7.05—making a little bit of money, but then watching it hit as high as $9.00 a share before averaging in the mid $8-range for quite a while now.

I've been keeping an eye on it, thinking, "If that bitch ever drops again, I'm gonna buy me another little chunk of it." Enter yesterday. Finally, a news item about the company caused a $2.00-ish drop, and I scooped up 350 shares at $6.33 just as the news broke and the market opened.

During the day, it climbed back up as about $7.05, and I smiled at "making" about $225 sitting at my desk. It reminded me of "the good old days" doing some day trading before the big bust.

I checked in with my ex-wife, whom I know also played with this stock.  She had also bought some this morning—at an even better price than I did—at around $6.15 a share. She bought 4000 shares. You do the math.



I had an intense instant message conversation with my brother today, with whom I haven't spoken in many, many months. The conversation was difficult to maintain, as I was meeting with someone at work at the time, but it was important enough to me to stay connected that I kept it up during the meeting. Fortunately, my [great] colleague was understanding.

I had a very productive day at the Center for Excellence in Curricular Engagement. Myra and I met about the web site, and then while she was at another meeting, I drafted an e-mail regarding said web site to some IT guys we met with last week, did some research on annual report formats from other like-minded organizations, and updated a draft of an e-mail to set up three meetings in September as we move forward on the Engaged College Project.

I felt good when I left there.



I met Joe for dinner at Two Guys, where I had "the special": a mini-pizza with feta cheese, basil, and tomato toppings; a house salad; and a dessert for 10 bucks.

I boxed the cheesecake to take home.



Flex was kind of dead tonight. We played a couple of games of pool, and eventually went over to CCs, where I was thankful to be a member paying $3.00 to get in instead of $10.

It was "Rewind: A Classic Dance Party," a Crape Myrtle event, "DJ Brian" spinning. Whatever.



We didn't stay there too long, and we stopped at Shanghai Express on the way home, where we encountered some extreme drama trying to find a parking place.

A car was stopped at a stop sign on a one-way, one-lane street, and wouldn't move—even as the five cars (including mine and Joe's) behind it just laid on our horns continually. A guy was outside the stopped car and shooting the shit through the window with the driver.

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