Saturday, December 17, 2005

My Fantasy Football Record

Yahoo! now provides a way for everyone to see how my fantasy football record is shaping up. You can see my whole three year profile. Here's the link:

Jamie's Yahoo! Fantasy Football Profile

Friday, December 16, 2005

Gas main breaks in our neighborhood

We had a little excitement in our neighborhood recently when a main gas line broke during some construction a few blocks directly east of our house. It was quite an event. The city evacuated 20 square blocks. The Red Cross swooped in with buses to help people who did not have cars. The news crews reported throughout the night. The fire department devoted all their resources to shutting down the leak and clamping off the pipes. The gas company did what they could to avoid an explosion that would lead to the Great Fire of 2005.

Charline found out about it right away when Dad called her to tell her the news. I think he heard it on the radio. She could smell the gas already, so she took Jude and Maggie (the dog) to my parents house in Fruit Cove, south of Jacksonville.

We returned home the next day and everything was fine. The fire department and the gas company avoided a disaster. The neighborhood was intact. All is well.

Jax Gas Main Breaks: from First Coast News
... or ...
Jax Gas Main Breaks: from Yahoo! News

Jude's first teeth

Jude is finally getting some teeth. Charline noticed a couple days ago that Jude has two teeth coming in. At eight months old, it's about time. I was starting to worry.

While I'm on the subject of the kid... We need to get some new photos up on our Kodak site again soon. We've been slacking. I haven't even posted anything on the Flickr site in quite a while, and that's really easy to do. Maybe this weekend. We've just been so busy, with the extra time I'm putting in at work, and some small extra projects at home... But, we'll get on the ball.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Topamax: It is working. Goodbye Inderal. (but still more side effects)

I'm still at 100 mg. per day (50 morning, 50 evening), but now I'm sure it's working. One bit of news: my doc now has me ratcheting down my old dose of Inderal, so I can get off that stuff. The theory is I won't be needing the Inderal anymore. I'll be totally dependent on the Topamax instead. :-) I'm gradually reducing the Inderal, using 40 mg. tablets. I had been on a daily dose of 120 mg.

The side effects of the Topamax are mildly annoying. The fumbling for words and saying the wrong words is just not like me and it is embarrassing. It's also not like me to leave out letters and misspell words so often when writing. Plus... Does Topamax mess with motor skills, like hand-eye coordination? I think I it does. I keep dropping things, like pens and keys. I dropped my truck keys and broke the key fob this morning, which was really aggravating, because I then could not turn off the alarm to start the vehicle. But, at least the stress did not trigger a headache, like it would have in the past. (Eventually, I got the fob back together, sort of, and got on the road.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The most precise Google search EVER

I just encountered the most precise Google search EVER. I put in my search term -- the name of a file that appeared in an error related to some programming that I'm doing -- and I got exactly one result from Google. Did you hear me? ONE result! Not one million. Not one thousand one hundred and one. Just ONE! And it was exactly what I was looking for. It was a discussion of the exact error I was receiving, in the exact circumstances under which I generated it. Plus, it was being discussed on a respectable forum. Amazing!

See the search results for yourself...
The most precise Google search ever

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Who I'd invite to dinner

Charline recently asked me who'd I'd invite to my ideal dinner party (I think this was inspired by a recent edition of Oprah, in which O posed this classic question to George Clooney). So, with no further ado, here are the five people I'd invite, if I were guaranteed they'd accept and show up -- listed in no particular order:

That's a pretty well-rounded list, I think. A semi-retired politician, a rock-star who has turned into a global economics leader, one of the most beloved religious figures of all time, one of the most populare entertainers in America (who has also become the main source of news for young adults), and, finally, a man who has evolved from Harvard graduate to Saturday Night Live writer to political scholar and author to wildly successful radio host.

Now, I just hope they all like barbecued ribs.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Where were the Bargers?

Have you ever wondered where the Bargers were in the 1920s? Well, now you can see a graphic representation of that very thing...

So, now you know. You're welcome.

My own ancestors were right there in that dark Pennsylvania patch in 1920. Right in the middle of Pennsylvania, actually. Some of my relatives are still there. It's a nice place. Maybe I'll move there someday. They have good weather and nice rolling hills and mountains.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Topamax: I think it's working!

I'm on a regular dose of 100 mg. per day now -- 50 in the morning and 50 at night -- and I think it's working. My headaches are no longer a constant droning ordeal. I'm still getting them a few times per week, but at least it's not all day long, every day, like it was through most of the summer.

The respite might be more due to a regular sleep pattern than the Topamax though. Charline is doing all the Jude work and is letting me sleep straight through every night. That made an immediate, substantial difference. It was like night and day, if you'll excuse the pun. Suddenly, I was able to think and work and function almost normally again.

Another big factor is the weather. The ungodly humidity and heat finally lifted from Jacksonville in mid-October, as it always does at this time of year -- allowing life to return to normal until about March, when the oppressive temperatures and rain and dampness and heaviness of air will descend on us again. When the weather changed for the better, last Friday, it was amazing. I felt like a completely different person. My head was clear. The pain was gone. The pressure was gone. I felt like I was on vacation.

So, with more Topamax, more sleep, and a change of season, I have quite a bit of relief from the migraines. That's all for now.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The next hot housing markets - Jacksonville makes the list

My home town of Jacksonville makes the list of the next hot housing markets, according to Liz Pulliam Weston of MSN Money.

The list is described as "latecomers to the real-estate party but where values have recently zoomed." It's good to see Jax continuing to show up on these round-ups. Of course, if the entire market nose-dives, maybe nobody will be safe. But, you'd like to think you're in one of these "bargain" cities, rather than one that's overvalued already.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Liz!

Monday, September 19, 2005

San Marco Heat errr.. Art Festival

Charline, Jude, our dog Maggie, my parents and I went to the San Marco Art Festival this Sunday. It was a nice little event. Pretty typical for a Jacksonville arts and crafts festival, in my experience. Just the right amount of good paintings, sculptures, photos and whatnot.

There was even a strange, crazy guy in a full pink unitard (?) on a high unicycle zooming around the area singing some kind of song about himself. I think he called himself the "pink man." Every time Maggie saw him, she went nuts and started barking angrily. People seemed to think that was funny. It was.

Maggie was the belle of the ball. She got a lot of attention from kids and adults alike. Plenty of compliments and questions and pats on the head. I walked her all around the San Marco plaza, trying to keep her in the shade and in the breezy areas as much as possible. She got water in a bowl from the waiter at the restaurant where we ate at a patio table. A vendor poured some water in a bowl for her also. And, she drank out of a fountain too. She got to see and bark at several other dogs during the day. After she got hot and tired, she calmed down a bit.

The ultra-muggy Florida heat and humidity was the big downside to the whole day. Maggie, with her double-layered coat, was miserable in the heat if we walked too long and I felt almost as lousy.

I cannot wait for this summer to end. And, yes, I do say that every day of every summer. I start saying it around March 1 and don't stop until about October 15, by my best estimate.

In the longer-term picture, I cannot wait for the day that we can move out of the god-forsaken south and into a more humane climate where I don't have migraine headaches triggered by heat and humidity during three quarters of the year. Every time I have travelled to a colder, drier climate, at any time of year, in any weather -- in other words, any time I've left the south -- I have loved the weather and felt much better.

Autumn is just around the corner and it won't be one day too soon. (On another topic... why doesn't anyone use the term "autumn" anymore?)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Topamax: 50 mg. and Rising

I'm up to 50mg per day now, and plan to increase the dosage another notch soon, maybe this weekend. It does seem that the Topamax is decreasing the frequency of my headaches. I wish I had kept a strict log, but I've never been one to do that. It would be far too much hassle -- especially considering how often I was getting them.

The side effects seem to have dropped off a bit. I think that was due to some kind of tolerance or adaptation effect. Some people talk about it as if increasing the dose in gets rid of the side effects, but I think I dispelled that myth by staying at 25 mg. for far longer than I was supposed to. Some minor side effects came and went with no change in dosage.

Anyway... I'll post more when I increase the dosage again.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Back in Jax

I'm back from my trip to D.C., for a class on usability research. Washington was much cooler than Jax, which made for a nice visit. I walked around plenty in the evenings, doing my siteseeing thing and taking dozens of photos.

View my Washington D.C. photos on Flickr

I could tell the security level was higher than usual in D.C. There were a lot of cops around, especially on the subway, which I rode a couple times each day. I sure wish we had a subway in Jax. It would make life a lot easier.

It was a nice surprise to see that some of the Smithsonian Institute museums had extended hours for the summer. Some open until 6:30 (Museum of American History) and some until 7:30 (Museum of Natural History). It was also good to see that the Washington Monument was open again. It was closed for renovation, or some such thing, the last time I was there. The views of the town from the base of the monument are beautiful.

I visited the Jefferson Memorial at sunset and took some photos over there. If it weren't for some confounded scaffolding they had up, those photos would be perfect. It's always something.

Topamax: Day X+ (side effects noted)

Lately, my headaches seem to be abating slightly. And, I have noticed some very slight side effects. Here's what I've noted so far:

Yesterday, I felt very noticeable tingling in my face for several hours while I was at work (I'm back in Jax after my trip to D.C.).

Memory Tricks
I have a peristent sense of everything sort of reminding me of things that happened about 15 years ago, even though there is no literal connection. Maybe this would be considered a very slight case of lingering déjà vu?

Lousy Cola Taste
Another expected side effect: cola has started to lose its appeal. I normally love the taste of Dr Pepper or Mr. Pibb. Now, every soda/cola/pop/Coke I drink, including my cherished Dr Pepper, tastes like something's just a little "off." My best analysis is that the fruity flavor is enhanced and the carbonation sensation is minimized relative to the flavor sensation. Yes. I just took another sip and that is definitely my verdict at this point. Subdued carbonation feel and amplified sweetness/fruitiness. End result: lousy taste.

These side effects are happening in spite of the fact that I've been sticking to a meager 25 mg. of Topamax daily, even though I'm past the first week and should, therefore, be taking more than that each day. I will increase the dose soon. The main reason I've delayed is that I keep missing a dose here and there. I want to get into a consistent routine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Topamax: Day X (What day is this?)

I've already forgotten to take my Topamax tablet a couple times during these early days of my new prescription. I'm going to really need to remedy that. But, I'm feeling great today -- largely because I'm at a higher latitude, in Washington, D.C., where the air is cooler and clearer and easier to breathe than back home in Jacksonville, Florida.

The heat and humidity in Florida drives me crazy, and I've always gotten more headaches during summer. These few days in D.C. are going to be a nice respite.

Why am I in D.C.? For a three-day class on the latest usability research. But, that's a whole different topic.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Topamax: Day 1, Part 2 (Nap time, anyone?)

The Axert eliminated the headache within about half an hour, as advertised. But, the pain returned before the workday was over. Maybe within about four hours? So, I took my second Axert. It also dispatched the pain quickly. A little pain returned before the day was over, but not a full-blown headache.

Each Axert made me really, really tired. I'm not used to medication making me that tired, even when the label says it might. It's funny that the solution I normally use -- Excedrin -- does exactly the opposite. The caffeine in Excedrin makes me hyper and energized and jittery. As a practical matter, the latter solution is more conducive to a productive work day. The down-side is that the experts say taking Excedrin all the time leads to "rebound" headaches -- headaches triggered by too much caffeine. (I think that's what triggers them. But, don't quote me.)

I only had two Axert tablets to try. Next, I'll try Relpax to eliminate a headache.

Topamax: Day 1 + Axert x 2

I'm calling this "Day One" of my "Topamax Experiment" (or "Good-bye Migraines"). I took my first Topamax tablet last night, so that was "Day Zero."

As usual, I felt a headache coming on already today, before noon. I just took my first Axert tablet, instead of my usual dose of two Excedrin pills. I'll post at the end of the day to say how things went.

The Axert is the other part of this experiment, even though it's not really related to the Topamax. My pseudo-doctor (more on that later) just happened to prescribe the Topamax and the Axert at the same time. She also gave me a sample of Relpax to try. I'll give that a spin after I've had a go at Axert. It serves the same purpose.

What do I mean by "pseudo-doctor?" On my last two visits to my neurologist, I ended up seeing a nurse practitioner instead. Nobody asked me. I just made my normal appointment with the doctor. But, it was a nurse practitioner who saw me and prescribed the medicine. On the first visit, I think she said the doctor wasn't there that day. I remember thinking maybe he had taken the day off unexpectedly. But, on the next visit, when I found out I'd be seeing the nurse again, I asked about the situation and was told that everyone sees the nurse on "follow-up visits" now.

What's up with that?! Isn't almost every visit a "follow-up visit?" It sounds like the only time this doctor's patients will actually see him is on their very first visit. Maybe the loophole is to claim that each visit is for a completely new and different problem and is, therefore, not a "follow-up visit."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"The Topamax Experiment" (or "Good-bye Migraines")

Today, I begin a new treatment for my chronic migraine headaches. I'm going to start taking migraine preventative Topamax, which doctors say can really change the life of someone who gets chronic migraines. I'm also going to try Relpax and/or Axert to stop headaches when I do get them. These medications, if they work, will replace my latest regime of Inderal and Excedrin.

I've had migraines almost all my life. Since I was about seven years old, I think. My mother took me to several doctors, including a very good neurologist who diagnosed the condition as migraine. Previous doctors thought it might be eye strain or some other such thing. I suppose they thought it was unusual for a seven-year-old to suffer from migraines.

Just to make sure it wasn't something more serious, like a tumor or whatnot, the docs gave me a CAT scan, EEG, MRI, and even a spinal tap. All normal. Just plain ol' migraines.

Over the years, I tried several different medications -- Fiornal, Inderal, Midrin... I think I tried Migranol, Imitrex... There was some tiny blue pill in the late '70s or early '80s... I think it was shaped like a hexagon and the name started with an "m". Some were medications that end a headache once it starts. Others were "prophylactics" -- medications that prevent the onset of migraine. Some of these drugs seemed to work for a while. But none provided great relief or long-term substantial decreases in the frequency and/or intensity of the migraines.

The frequency and intensity has varied a lot over the years. Lately, it's been about 20 moderate migraines per month. Pretty annoying. They really make it difficult to function normally. As any migraineur knows, it's pretty hard to act normal or put together coherent sentences or tolerate sound and light during a migraine. But, I long ago realized that I cannot afford to use "sick days" every time I get a migraine. Of course, every now and then I get one that incapacitating and I don't have any choice but to lie in bed in a cool, dark, quiet room and deal with it. Fortunately, the really severe headaches only happen a few times per year for me.

I went through some biofeedback training also. That was really interesting and did seem to help a bit in keeping me relaxed and calm -- even during a migraine. It also taught me that my brain and body react unusually quickly to sensory triggers or emotional triggers. My EGR response was particularly rapid and strong, for what it's worth.

Now, I'm ready to try the next cool migraine drug to get these headaches under control. People who take large doses of Topamax, like 250 mg. per day, sometimes have strange side effects, like having trouble finding the right words when speaking, or experiencing jamais-vue or presque-vue. Some people say they look at items on their desk and it absolutely feels like things have been moved around, even though nobody has touched a thing. Like I said -- strange. But, I'm starting with a very small dose of 25 mg. per day. I'll increase it, on a gradual schedule, until it seems to have the desired effect. I'll try to post something here each day to report the progress.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Musical houses

It seems that a lot of people in Jacksonville, Florida, are playing a giant game of "musical chairs" with their homes -- moving into and out of houses at an unusual pace. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just saying it's an odd happenstance that we didn't used to see.

One of my co-workers is selling his house after buying it pre-construction just a couple years ago, in 2003. He'll make a killing on the profit, thanks to crazy increases in home values around here, and all over Florida -- and in many other places around the country.

Of course, once mortgage interest rates go back up to historically "normal" levels, we can expect a levelling off of housing prices. I would even expect a gradual decline in prices after rates go back up to where they were in the mid-90s.

The whole trick is locking in a good fixed rate mortgage on a long-term home before rates and prices head in the wrong direction. How do you know the optimal moment? If I knew that, I'd have a servant typing this blog entry for me. And, I'd use a gold-plated font.

Our very own island

Charline and I will soon have our very own island. It will be a nice refuge to escape to every once in a while -- while we're cooking. That's right, it's a kitchen island. I had you going there for a moment, didn't I?

We are getting new cabinets, a new dishwasher, a new stove, and a new Corian countertop too. Even the kitchen sink. The whole enchilada. It's going to be sweet. Hmmm... A sweet enchilada... No. Probably a bad idea.

We'll be sure to post some photos on our Shutterfly gallery when we have them. Or, maybe on our Flickr site.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hurricane Season 2005

hurricane map
Hurricane season is underway again. Things aren't looking so bad for my home town so far, but it's a different story for those living in west Florida, in Alabama, and in Louisiana.

Hurricane Projection Maps and Information

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The History of the Hironimus Name

Portrait of Saint Jerome, an early Hironimus, born 347 A.D.

My mother, who was born a Pennsylvania Hironimus, sent me the following text about the Hironimus family name. It was written by a Hironimus in 1976. I do not know the author, Leon Francis Hironimus, but I'm sure he would not mind me sharing this information. I took the liberty of turning some of the text into hyperlinks, and added some formatting, but have otherwise left it intact, as I found it.

The History of the Hironimus Name

About a hundred and forty years ago, or more, Jacob and Hannah Hironimus settled in the area that would take the name Weikert one day. This little town would locate in Union County, Pennsylvania. The Hironimus children would scatter across the United States from this tract of land that is believed to have been given Jacob as a grant from the country of France. We continue to search our beginnings even in 1976.

There is much history to the Hironimus name, and it can even be traced to the pre-Christian era. The Apocrypha, written just prior to the Roman period that dominated the Hebrew prior to and during the life of Christ, contains two books of Maccabees. The name Hieronvmus can be found in II Maccabees 12:2. The Apocrypha is not included with the Protestant Bible; however is included with the Roman Catholic Bible. During the early Christian period and after the death of Christ a man translated the Bible for the first time. He was later named a saint. He was named Saint Jerome. His correct name was Eusebius Hieronymus. The name seems to have followed the growth and fall of empires and cultures in the Western world. Variations of the name crop up in various places in the world throughout history, but have never varied so far that making a connection is impossible. Names found by this writer are: Hironimus, Hieronimus, Heironimus, and Hieronymous. Thus, the name comes to us from a period sometime within the four hundred years just prior to the Birth of Christ, through the St. Jerome period of about four hundred years after the death of Christ, through the Greek, Roman, and the German empires, and to the present American period. While the nation of the United States celebrates its bicentennial, we can look even further into our history. In my studies in history, I can find no other name that has been so consistent in spelling for so many years.

While this history is by no means complete, and in fact is saturated with assumptions, I believe that it is close enough to fact that we can take pride in the acknowledgement that ours is a name that has spanned the history of the world.

Leon Francis Hironimus

Friday, June 03, 2005

Our Third Anniversary

Charline and I recently celebrated our third anniversary. By cool coincidence, we both bought gifts for each other through the Web site for a store called "Red Envelope."

The traditional gift for a third anniversary is leather. The modern gift is crystal. Charline gave me a really cool and incredibly useful, leather-covered valet box. That's a box in which I can place my wallet, keys, sunglasses, pills, watches, etc. when I come in the house. I gave her a set of bracelets made with colored Murano glass and Swarovski crystals.

I definitely recommend Red Envelope. They have really interesting items that you don't see every day.

Visit to South Florida

The whole family (Charline, Jude, me) went down to South Florida last weekend. That was a long drive for Jude, but he handled it well. We made stops for feedings, since we didn't want to drive with him out of his car seat. Other than that, the drive was business as usual.

Once down there, we introduced Jude to friends of Charline's family. He was a hit. They put up with some fussing and complimented him enough to make him smile now and then.

Charline and I had an anniversary dinner at a Caribbean-styled restaurant called Bahama Breeze. (More on our anniversary later, perhaps.) On another day, we went out to dinner with a large group to celebrate the 50th birthday of a family friend. We ate at an interesting buffet restaurant called "The Ark." The interior is designed to look vaguely like the inside of an old ship. The buffet was great. My favorite item was the crab cakes with buffalo sauce.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Star Wars outing

Charline, Jude, Grandma Barger and I went to see the last Star Wars movie Sunday. It was incredible, of course, as the reviewers are saying. Jude was fussier in this movie than he was at the first two he sat through. For about the first third of the movie, he was threatening to become a problem. Charline had to take him out of the theater for a little while. The last two thirds of the movie were peaceful and pleasant.

Normally, we wouldn't go to a crowded theater with Jude, but this was a special event (and we had four free tickets, thanks to Cingular; I gave one away outside the theater; the guy was pleasantly surprised). For future movie outings, we might be able to leave Jude with his doting Barger grandparents. We just need to get him accustomed to drinking from a bottle occassionally, rather than only breastfeeding.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Family Outing #2 - Dinner, Shopping and Movie

Charline and I took Jude out on the town again this past weekend. We went to the big, new shopping center, "St. Johns Town Center."

The sling-type-thing that Charline bought to carry Jude around sure worked well. And, it was a good thing we had it, because Jude didn't seem to like riding in the stroller very much -- even though his Peg Perego "Aria LB" is practically the Ferrari of baby strollers.

In the sling carrier, he was great. We had a very tasty meal at a place called "Ted's Montana Grill." Then, we strolled around and checked out several shops. Jude fussed a bit now and then, but once we gave up on the Peg Perego, he was fine.

After the shopping trip, we took Jude to his second movie, a simple romantic comedy called "A Lot Like Love," starring Ashton Kutcher. I thought it was pretty enjoyable, although it did get to a point where I thought the plot was repeating and dragging out too much. Funny stuff, at times, though.

Jude only made a couple little noises during the movie. He never cried or screamed or ran around the theater yelling. So, it was another theatrical success for the boy. The next big test, if we are brave enough to try it, will be the final Star Wars installement, which opens Thursday. We have some free tickets to see it during the weekend, thanks to our mobile phone provider, Cingular.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Jude on Mother's Day

The Bargers Celebrate Mother's Day

This past Sunday was my wife's first Mother's Day as a mother. It was also our son's first big excursion out of the house and around the town. He was amazingly calm and content the whole day.

To start the day, we took our son, Jude, out to a brunch with his paternal grandparents, the "elder" Bargers. We went to a typical Mother's Day brunch at a hotel restaurant. I did have to walk around the outside walkways of the hotel with Jude for a while to keep him calm. Later, his grandmother did the same for a little while. But, we were able to have a whole meal together. I thought that was impressive enough and would have been happy just going home at that point and declaring the day a success. But, Jude was ready for more.

Charline thought it would be nice to go to the Cummer Gallery of Art to see their impressive riverfront garden and take some pictures of Jude there. We invited the grandparents and headed across town to the gallery/museum/garden. It went very smoothly, except for the time I wasted trying to figure out how to put the car seat into the stroller (I'll have to figure that out later).

We walked around the good-sized garden and got some nice photos of Jude and the rest of the family. I even managed a group photo of all of us, in spite of the fact that the Cummer forbids camera tripods. A had brought a tripod along, but was told I had to leave it in the van. Little did they know I had a miniature tripod inside my camera case. Ha! You can't stop a determined photographer. The mini-tripod did the trick nicely, when placed on a table on the garden lawn.

Now, once again, I was thinking "This is great. I'm impressed that this has been so easy with a one month old baby." But, Charline was feeling gutsy. When the grandparents turned down an offer to go get ice cream, Charline and I decided to take Jude to his first movie. Yes, that's right. A one month old baby at a movie theater. Crazy, right? Wrong. It actually worked.

We went to see "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," which was a cinematic version of the renowned book of the same name, which I loved when I was in junior high school. Amazingly, this was the easiest part of the whole day. No crying. No noticeable fussing or agitation. And Jude did well too. But, seriously though... Jude didn't seem to mind the movie sounds or popcorn smells or being in one place for two hours. It was wonderful.

Afteward, Charline said something to me along the lines of "And you thought you'd never see another movie again." It's true. I thought it would be years before we could peacefully sit through a theater movie again.

Of course, all this is due to Charline being in tune with Jude's needs and having good instincts. Also, I think the fact that Jude is breastfeeding makes it easier. Charline tells me you need to lug around a fair amount of apparatus when bottle-feeding the kid. Having a minivan to sit in while changing a diaper helps too.

So there you have it. A full day of activity: brunch, photos at the museum, and a real theater movie. Not bad.

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Summer on the Road

My best friend and I took a road trip around the contiguous 48 states in the last summer that we would both be in college together at the University of Florida. The western boundary of our clockwise circumnavigation of the country was the Pacific Coast Highway. It was a gorgeous drive. We travelled the full length of it. My only regret is that we were driving north. For the best view, one has to drive south on the PCH, so as to be as close as possible to flying off the edge of the continent. (Because we drive on the right side of the road here, in the States.)

Kerouac and Pooh

Try “On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac. If you don’t like this book, you don’t like life. It’s full of it. Life, that is. And, “The Tao of Pooh” is also a great book for anyone who wants to jump start their reading habit. It’s quick, fun and truly inspiring.

Read the Tao of Pooh. It helps.

I highly recommend the Tao of Pooh for anyone who likes being happy and content. It really helps.

Find your mate on a Southwest flight

Southwest airlines lets passengers choose their seat when they board the plane. Do this. Wait until plenty of people are on board, but not so late that all the seats are filled. Then, be prepared to scan quickly, follow your intuition and sit next to that person who looks intriguing. Strike up a conversation about the in-flight peanuts. It worked for me. We’re happily married and just had our first child. Thanks, Southwest!

Buy a digital camera

A good digital camera, along with a good printer (with built-in card reader) makes photography so easy that it can be a regular habit. Digital cameras have reached the point where the quality and flexibility matches that of traditional film cameras. Try one.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Fatherly Advice from a Three Week Veteran

Ever since April 9, 2005, I have been a father. So far, it's been much easier than people led me to believe. That's mostly due to all the work that my lovely wife, Charline, has been doing. It's also due to the fact that our son, Jude Dylan Barger, is pretty easy to get along with. He's not too demanding or temperamental (yet?).

Here's my advice to all those novice fathers, from a guy who's been at it for a solid three weeks.
  • Choose a mate who likes the idea of breastfeeding. If there's no bottle, the father doesn't have to get up at crazy hours to feed the kid. Kudos to Mother Nature!
  • Get a midwife during the pregnancy. Many midwives adhere to a philosophy that says the father should not be expected to become some kind of coach or expert advisor in the childbirth process. He should be there and help out during the birth. But, why try to teach a man to tell a woman how to give birth? It's much better to have someone with experience do that.
  • Take time off work to get to know the kid. I took a little more than a week off work and plan to take off more time in a couple months. If I lived in a more rational country, like Sweden, Switerland, France, Germany, etc., I could take several weeks off work without having to give up my paycheck during that time.
  • Move to Sweden, Switzerland, France, or Germany before having children. That way, you benefit from real paternity benefits, unlike America where the benefit is that you're "allowed" to take all the time you want to be with your new child, so long as you don't expect a paycheck during that time.
  • Buy more trash cans. Those kids can really help increase the total waste output for a household, even when they're not doing anything useful.

That's all I've got so far. Look for more wisdom here as things develop.

Hey, Jude!

Over on our main Web site, Charline and I recently announced the birth of our first child, Jude Dylan Barger, born in Jacksonville, Florida on April 9, 2005, at 11:06 a.m.

Jude was born weighing 9 lbs. 9.6 oz., at a length of 21.5 inches.

Mother and child are doing very well and are relaxing at home.

See our Photographs page for more images, including shots of the nursery.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Daytona 500

Daytona 500. Our view of the start-finish line.My father and I went to the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Dad bought the rather pricey tickets from a scalper a couple hours before the race, and didn't even let me chip in, since this was a birthday present for me.

For those of you who live in caves, the Daytona 500 is the kick-off of the NASCAR racing season. It's also the most-hyped, biggest event of the NASCAR season, which makes it's placement at the beginning a little odd, but there you have it.

Watching the race

Our seats weren't as good as Dad is used to, but I really enjoyed the race, especially since my two favorite drivers were battling for the lead for a good portion of the race. Which two? Well, most NASCAR fans wouldn't normally group these two guys together, but my favorites are Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, in that order. After those guys, I guess I root for the crowd favorite, Dale Jr., then the "other Dale," Dale Jarrett, after him.

If you saw the race (and who didn't?), then you already know that Stewart led most of the race, but was overtaken near the end by Gordon. In fact, Stewart led for a very impressive 107 laps. If it weren't for two yellow flag delays near the end of the race, he most likely would have cruised to victory lane.

Dale Jr. made a very exciting run in the final 20 laps or so, seemingly moving up in position one or two spots on every lap. The crowd was going crazy, watching him maneuver past one car after another. Kurt Busch was moving up to challenge for the lead too, but that's not who the crowd was rooting for. Everyone turned their attention to the leader board for a few seconds each time the front of the pack crossed the start/finish line, to see where Dale Jr. was listed. Amazingly, he made it all the way up through about 15 positions in the final laps, to the take lead around lap 195, but relinquished the lead to Gordon on lap 198, after a wreck caused a re-start, and finished in third place.

Two wrecks in the final few laps kept the pack close, but on the final two laps, nobody could pass Jeff Gordon, as is usually the case when he gets out in front. He took the Daytona 500 checkered flag for the third time in his career.

Barger tradition

Going to the Daytona 500 is a bit of a Barger tradition. My parents took me to the Daytona 500 to celebrate my birthday a couple times when I was a wee tyke. Since then, we've gone a few more times over the years. The NASCAR folks have been nice enough to keep the race on or about my birthday all this time.

In those years (the 1970s), tickets were relatively cheap, good seats were easy to find, the stands had plenty of room left for everyone to spread out, and Richard Petty ("The King" of NASCAR Racing) seemed to win every year. Back then, the race wasn't even televised in its entirety (CBS was the first to do this in 1979).

Big-time racing

These days, tickets cost a minimum of about $100 if you buy early, and at least $200 if you wait until the day of the race (and then they're only available from scalpers, due to the early sell-outs). The stands are packed with more than 168,000 fans (the largest in all of motorsports), mostly wearing red to support crowd favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He and a handful of other drivers, like Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, are annual contenders for the Daytona 500 victory. And, since 1995, television ratings for the Daytona 500 have been the highest for any auto race of the year -- with more than 25 million viewers this year.

View my photos from the Daytona 500

Friday, February 18, 2005

Survey says... Jamie's old.

Can you believe that only one day after my 35th birthday, I'm already confronted with this survey question...

What is your age group? 35-44?

Right smack in the middle of the range. My youth is over. (See previous post.) Aarrrg.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Turning 35. Am I middle-aged now?

This is my 35th birthday. If I eat too many greasy cheeseburgers and pizzas and only make it to age 70, then this will have been my "middle age." What a strange feeling.

Like everyone says, I don't feel any different than I did at 18 or 21 or 25 -- except that I'm a little calmer and my interests have migrated from entertainment (music, TV) to what I consider "real life" -- science, history, politics, family, religion. Of course, my body's not quite the same quality that it was when I was younger, but since I'm not a professional athlete, that hasn't bothered me.

Fortunately, I am at just about the spot in life that I expected I would be at this age. I have a wonderful wife, a nice house, a good job, and I've seen some interesting places around the world. Best of all, Charline and I will soon have a child, which I expect to radically change our lives, just as college, graduation, and marriage did.

The only thing that bugs me about getting older is the way that time speeds up. A summer used to last forever when I was young. That's another thing everyone says. To avoid any more cliches, I'll just wrap up this posting here.

Fly-By Cafe at St. Augustine airport

I ate at the Fly-By Cafe at the St. Augustine airport a couple days ago. The place has a great atmosphere, with huge murals of flying planes covering the walls. The murals and the rest of the interior design conjure up images of the time when barnstorming was in its heyday.

The guy behind the bar was taking all the orders and waiting on the tables. One guy hidden behind the wall behind the bar was frying up the food with some hard core music blaring from his confines. He didn't turn the music up quite so loud until about the time the sun went down outside the large windows, which look out across the runway and hangers.

The medium-rare cheeseburger with bacon and mushrooms was cooked just right and served with a hefty helping of thick fries.

This place is a great respite for anyone cruising along the old US 1 highway, just north of St. Augustine. Just look for the airport and stop in.