Life Outtacontext | Page not found

Error 404 - page not found

Nothing Found
Sorry, the post you are looking for is not available. Maybe you want to perform a search?

For best search results, mind the following suggestions:

  • Always double check your spelling.
  • Try similar keywords, for example: tablet instead of laptop.
  • Try using more than one keyword.

Feel like browsing some posts instead?

© 2001-2015 Jeff Gates ISSN 1544-4074


July 31, 2011


The Attack of the Wasps!

It wasn’t this bad but it felt like it was. Last Sunday at 11 a.m. I was attacked by a swarm of wasps. More on that in a minute. But first, what good is a trauma like this if…


May 30, 2011


To the Moon, Alice! I mean Susie!

My reservations for the moon were set and this card proved it. Click image for larger view. For all the dystopian commentary on mankind’s distant future the 1968 film 2001 projected, it also allowed us to place ourselves in…


May 15, 2011


Anatomy of an Encounter: I Could Be Wrong

I thought the facts made me right. Image by spelio As I stood in a long line at the ATM outside my bank I smelled smoke. It came and went and, after a while I started to look around…


February 21, 2011


Father Knows Best When He’s Got It Good

Jim Anderson surrounded by his adoring family. Umm, not quite me. I walked down the hall as I’d done thousands of times before. As always I’m on a mission. Most of them are trivial: take the trash to the…


December 29, 2010


On Becoming the New Old Fogey

As we get ready to ring in the new year, I’m reminded that I’m not getting any younger. And, I’m quite comfortable with that. Late night New Year’s Eve parties have given way to quiet evenings at home with my…


October 31, 2010


The Rally for Sanity? It Was Insane!

I positioned us at the Rally for a good photo op of the Capitol. At the last minute I decided to bring one of my Chamomile Tea Party posters to the Rally for Sanity here on the National Mall…


September 12, 2010


Just Thinking Good Thoughts

My mother’s tombstone is so high above my head, it’s hard to connect with her grave. Every trip to Los Angeles is punctuated by a visit with my parents. They’re buried at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, just a few…


June 2, 2010


I’m in Heaven and It’s Only Wednesday

This is Glenda. The morning commute was ending like all weekday commutes. As I shoved my way to the surface it was time to start thinking about work: the fires I needed to put out or needed to start….


May 31, 2010


A Valuable Anniversary Gift

My anniversary gift, set to the time we were married. Click on image for larger view. Yesterday was our seventeenth wedding anniversary. And while I wasn’t expecting furniture, the traditional gift for this celebration, I definitely wasn’t expecting this!…


April 24, 2010


On Talking to Strangers

Never say a commonplace thing. Jack Kerouac My name is Jeff Gates and I talk to strangers. More on that later. We don’t want our children to be fearful of public engagements. But we want them to be able…


March 26, 2010


A Big Return on Our Taxes

My romantic rendition of the Del Capri wedding chapel. Click image for a the full view. The advent of tax season means it’s time for our extended family’s annual pilgrimage to Dundalk, Maryland, a working class neighborhood, just east…


February 20, 2010


Searching for a Needle in a Snowbank

I was digging myself into a large hole. Where was that downspout? Click on photo for larger image. Imagine living through the DC blizzard of “aught ten” (I know that’s not grammatically correct but it sounds good). Then imagine…


December 21, 2009


The Entrance to our Narnia

The beginning of an 18 inch snowfall. Click image for larger view. I live in the burbs of DC but on Saturday, like Lucy Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia I opened my closet door, I mean my front…


December 12, 2009


Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

For the last year I’ve been getting email newsletters from the dealership where I bought my car. Although my Volkswagen is over nine years old the dealer wants to keep in touch with me. Naturally, they want to keep me…


November 26, 2009


Thanks for the Meat and Heat

The view from our house. Click on image to enlarge. Woke up this Thanksgiving to dense fog. After a little breakfast in the peace and quiet of the early morning I put my coat on over my PJs and…


September 13, 2009


Our Real Family Vacation

I went to Santa Fe and all I got was this wonderful portrait of my daughters. Click image for larger view. It’s the week after Labor Day. The girls are back in school and I’ve got deadlines at work….


August 19, 2009


The Pickle in Me

I woke up with it and by mid afternoon I had a full-blown craving for a nice crisp dill pickle. I wasn’t prepared for this kind of focus. Thinking it merely a strange, but temporary condition I carried on as…


July 17, 2009


Sixty is the New Forty!

As I enter geezerhood my only consolation is that someday I’ll look back and say “Ah to be 60 again!” To those of you who might discount those of the older persuasion remember the words of John Bradford: “There…


June 28, 2009


A Catalogue for Life

I missed Father’s Day. Again. Like last year, I booked a trip to LA only to discover it coincided with the day my family was supposed to honor my fatherhood. And just like last year everyone was happy to celebrate…


June 12, 2009


Sweet Sixteen

The Happy Couple on Our Wedding Day Sixteen years. After sixteen years of marriage certain things fit perfectly. Two artists, we started with an artists’ wedding and each year we’re reminded of this beginning. It’s a day to remember…


January 25, 2009


Vulnerable Below Street Level

Caffeine, you were my friend. I started my day with you and recently began seeing you on an ongoing basis in the late afternoon. When I realized you had no effect on my regular bedtime I relied on you to…


November 23, 2008


The Boxer Rebellion

So cute. And just perfect for the First Family and the Gates family. While the rest of the country recovers from the election, Washington is swimming in a sea of Obamamania. It’s not surprising considering that Barack, Michelle, Malia,…


September 14, 2008


A Contemporary Family Vacation: The Columbia Gorge

Replica of Stonehenge and the Columbia Gorge, Maryhill, Washington (View larger.) As we stood on the bluffs overlooking the Columbia Gorge I wondered how I would convey this landscape to you. My eyes took it all in as I…


August 31, 2008


A Contemporary Family Vacation: A Chinese Family Reunion

Children practice a dragon dance at Yangchun Family Reunion (Click here for larger photo). We belong to an interesting family. Our girls were both adopted from the Yangchun Social Welfare Institute in China. And it was time for our…


August 23, 2008


A Contemporary Family Vacation: The Velveteria

Portland’s Museum of Velvet Art: The Velveteria (click for larger image). There are two types of families: the Communist Party Central Committee variety —those that plan their family vacations and the Jack Kerouac variety —those that don’t. Planning a…


August 17, 2008


Waiting for the Love Boat on Puget Sound

The Gates/Krasnican clan has just returned from another triumphant family road trip —this time to the Pacific Northwest. I’ll be collating our collective memories in the next few weeks and reporting on how things went. But for now let…


July 13, 2008


Spain: The Post-Flight Recap

Globalization: The Tennessee Bar in Aranjuez, Spain Estoy en España, mis amigos. And so far, my detailed packing technique has yielded no forgotten essentials. My one suitcase weighed 21 kilos, just under the 50 pound limit and my supersized…


July 6, 2008


Traveling Abroad: A Pre- Pre-Flight Checklist

Boat house with concrete lighthouse for sale. A photo from my last trip to a Spanish-speaking land: Puerto Rico. Ok, true confession: I am a neurotic traveler. Well, to be more specific: I am a neurotic pre-traveler. With one…


May 31, 2008


Say It With Crystal

Him: Are those flowers real? Me: When’s the last time you brought flowers to your wife? Him: I’m not married. Him 2: Did he say those flowers were real? Her: They’re real. I can smell ‘em. Subway Conversation, Thursday…


February 18, 2008


Our Dinner with NotMyShower.com

Women have a right to expect that showers and locker rooms are not occupied by persons who retain their equipment. From the Good Folks at NotMyShower.com Dinnertime at our house is a family affair. And evening meal is the…


February 9, 2008


A Bathroom Apparition

Get a better look at our bathroom vision! Six months ago we renovated our bathrooms. That fifty year old retro look we loved when we bought the house was really getting old. Our green tub, along with its matching…


January 4, 2008


Selling Your House: Say It in Gingerbread

This 1950s Ranch MUST be seen to be believed! Amenities included. A larger view. With the housing market tanking, home sellers must devise new ways to attract buyers. I’d like to offer this suggestion: do it in gingerbread. When…


December 23, 2007


Believing in Santa One More Year

You might remember we dodged a bullet a few weeks ago over the Tooth Fairy. But the big question remains: does our youngest still believe in Santa? Last week I got a voicemail from my wife: “I just thought…


December 9, 2007


Ouch! Oooouch! or Romancing the Stone

Nurse… Nuurse… Nuuuurse… Fellow ER Patient Moaning in Pain It began as a pressure in my lower back. Instinctively, I knew what it was. I broke out in a cold sweat knowing that over the next few days I…


November 25, 2007


A Portrait in Leaves

To document this event I ran into the house for my camera, depositing leaf particles throughout the interior. A cold late-day Thanksgiving wind brought down the rest of our tree’s leaves. It was literally raining leaves. And our indoor…


November 22, 2007


Giving Thanks for the Ride

Thanks for the ride! Thanksgiving: a uniquely American holiday. We’re supposed to stop what we’re doing long enough to remember and appreciate the good things and good people in our lives. No multitasking allowed, unless it’s basting a turkey…


October 29, 2007


On Becoming the Tooth Fairy

A parent’s primary responsibility is to make sure his children are safe, sheltered, well-fed, and have the best childhood possible. (Hold that thought; I hear my two fighting upstairs and I’d better intervene before someone gets hurt). Ok, I’m…


October 8, 2007


A Contemporary Family Vacation: The End

From our hotel room at the Fairmont. View larger image. Our fifth and final stop on the 2007 Gates family vacation tour would take us to San Francisco for the wedding of my best-friend-from-the-first-grade’s daughter. First grade: back then…


September 17, 2007


A Contemporary Family Vacation: The Gilroy Garlic Festival

My life long dream of tasting garlic ice cream would finally be realized. After a few days in the clean mountain air of Yosemite it was time for a change. So the family trekked across California’s central San Joaquin…


September 6, 2007


A Contemporary Family Vacation: Yosemite

The highlight of our my Yosemite visit has already been recounted. What more can I say? Well, my wife tells me perhaps just a bit more. We spent two days in the park. We started planning this trip back in…


August 25, 2007


A Contemporary Family Vacation: The Eastern Sierras

Some people are so nuts. They think every body of water is a wishing well. My vision of what my children would see when they first viewed the Sierras. The reality wasn’t quite like that. Albert Bierstadt’s Sunrise in…


August 18, 2007


Living La Dolce Vegas

Landing in Las Vegas at night is a bit like landing at National Airport in DC: an incredible view of the city beckons you. McCarren International Airport is just south of The Strip. So our first look at the city…


August 12, 2007


A Contemporary Family Vacation: Introduction

A cryptic photo-op at the MGM in Las Vegas As a boy family vacations were always an exciting prospect: traveling on adventures to the great unknown in the comfort of our 1953 Pontiac. No seat belts and open windows,…


July 20, 2007


On Becoming “That Old”

I’ve been outted. At our monthly all-staff meeting the other day, before attending to the business at hand, I was asked to stand. It was my birthday and I found myself the center of attention. Suddenly, in that way-too-bright spotlight…


July 7, 2007


iPhone Lust-O-Meter Bursts!

Life Outtacontext’s iPhone Lust-O-Meter Bursts It was too much to bear. The pressure, as you know, has been building for a week. The outcome seemed inevitable. Yesterday, my neighbor, Mike, offered to “show me his.” And, as we sat…


July 6, 2007


Household Eye Surgery

Workmen remove and replace fifty year old windows at Chez Gates. Click on each image for an enlargement. Our fifty year old house was in desperate need of new windows: all original. Nothing opened, picture windows were fogged, and…


July 5, 2007


Today’s iPhone Lust-O-Meter Reading

Life Outtacontext’s Current Reading on its iPhone Lust-O-Meter. I have determined there is a direct correlation between iPhone Lust and physical proximity with the device. Handling an iPhone increases the desire to own one in direct proportion to the…


July 4, 2007


Introducing the iPhone Lust-O-Meter

Life Outtacontext introduces the iPhone Lust-O-Meter. In the days leading up to the launch of Apple’s iPhone we were inundated with stories upon news articles upon speculation about the “Device of the Century.” Engadget, a tech blog, recognized the…


June 30, 2007


Suburban Crime Report: A Shot in the Dark

Police document gunshot at Chez Gates (inset: point of impact) This morning we opened our living room window-shade to discover what looked to be a bullet hole in our window. Last night, my wife was sitting just inside that…


June 17, 2007


A Modern Father Knows the Code

The kids are not afraid to ask questions, but the adults feel an absolute need to provide answers… Rather than say, “I don’t know; let’s find out,” parents feel like they have to make something up to seem smart….


May 7, 2007


Mother’s Day: My Gift is a Loaded Question

If you’ve seen this bag, let me know. My wife will love it, especially if it will hold a few bottles of wine! As I sit by the subway door each morning on my commute to work I am…


February 25, 2007


The Restorative Effects of an Accomplishment, Any Accomplishment

One of the photos I found that really made my day. It’s Saturday at 5:15 am and I’m awake, anticipating my cat alarm clock will go off at any moment to say “feed me.” She does this every morning…


February 5, 2007


Reducing Your Cable Bill in Less Than a Minute
Competition: It’s the American Way

Monopoly: A situation in which a single company owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. This would happen in the case that there is a barrier to entry into the…


January 14, 2007


Spicing Up Your Marriage the High Tech Way

No, not those implants! Spicing up a marriage with these silicon implants: Apple’s Airport Express Sometimes it takes a bit of modern technology to spice up a marriage. A few well-placed silicon implants can do wonders. Last week I…


December 23, 2006


Of Teeth and Claus

Notice: Seasonal and youthful spoilers below. If you are under 13, ask your parents to read this first. My daughter’s tooth- and toothbrush-shaped note to the Tooth Fairy. Is this the work of a true believer? Parents are constantly assessing…


December 16, 2006


The Three Wise Men by Three Wise Women

The Three Wise Men by three wise women (from left to right): Older Daughter, 10; Younger Daughter, 8; and Wife, Not Telling. It is “Draw Dad Week” at Chez Gates. My youngest has been drawing portraits of Mom on…


November 5, 2006


A Parable for Reconstruction

My daily routine is being reconstructed. Directions to my new subway entrance (top). Blocked entrance to my house (bottom). A creature of habit I get up every morning at 5:30. My feline alarm clock gently taps me on the…


October 15, 2006


Cursively Speaking

When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters. Margaret Webb PresslerThe Washington Post…


October 8, 2006


On the Boardwalk

On the Boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ Every summer my family takes a trip to the New Jersey shore. The beaches are wide and the orientation is decidedly family. But the highlight for me is Wildwood’s boardwalk. We always reserve…


September 2, 2006


Competitive Dentistry

A souvenir from my recent vacation decapitated me! Before beginning the procedure Deb, the dental technician initiated some preliminary chit-chat. “What brings you here today?” she asked. Offering up my porcelain crown I said, “It came off.” “Crowns don’t…


August 27, 2006


A Vacation About Nothing, Sorta

With time on my hands I photographed the seashore from our condo’s balcony throughout the day. I was looking forward to our Vacation About Nothing: a week at the beach. When I meditate (I’m quite the novice), the vision…


July 22, 2006


The Chronicles of Urania: The Look, The Quest, The Conundrum

Prologue What a fun time Urania, the Muse of Astrology has been having with me lately. I don’t normally subscribe to the heavens’ effect on humanity but when Mercury is in retrograde I take note. As a rule, retrograde planets…


June 8, 2006


Wanderlust Never Smelled So Sweet

With little provocation, The Wanderlust wisks me away to polluted but exotic places. As I walked out of my office building the other day I was suddenly hit by a faintly sweet and very nostalgic odor. What was that?…


June 3, 2006


You Can Judge a Doctor by His Magazines

First impressions are important. I discovered this copy of Ferrets magazine in my doctor’s waiting room. A visit with a new doctor always brings some hesitation. It’s like a first date. Will you like him/her? Will he be kind…


April 23, 2006


The Art of Leveraged Bargaining, #2

You’ve been a good phone. But it was time for an upgrade. We have a whiteboard in our kitchen with lists of To-Do’s for both my wife and me. As we complete a task we ceremoniously erase the entry…


April 16, 2006


The Plane! The Plane!

The reward at the end of the day: the view from our hotel (and not a slice of beef jerky in sight). Note to myself: Next time we decide to take a family vacation on the first day of…


March 21, 2006


All Smiles in This Family

My daughter’s teeth: before and after braces. “Do my teeth look whiter?” my wife asks, looking at me with a Cheshire grin. Lately, this has become an ongoing question in our relationship. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere she…


March 12, 2006


Explaining Chinese Adoption

I walked into the subway elevator pushing my youngest daughter in her stroller. It was empty except for on older Asian woman who stared at us as we entered. The ride down was a slow one. Very slow. I always…


March 5, 2006


The Status of our Typical American Family

Meet the typical American family. It has about $3,800 in the bank. No one has a retirement account, and the neighbors who do only have about $35,000 in theirs. Mutual funds? Stocks? Bonds? Nope. The house is worth $160,000,…


February 19, 2006


The Tao of SpongeBob

The Tao of Spongebob After a hard day at the office my back aches and my shoulders are so tight you could bounce coinage off of them. It’s the price I pay for a desk job. Staring at the…


February 5, 2006


Five Years of Sticking it to the Man

Five Years of Sticking it to the Man. Click on the image above to watch a self-tribute to my years in the blogosphere. (Quicktime 4.5 MB). And don’t forget to take a look at the inspiration for this little…


January 28, 2006


Dressing for Success

I try to keep my sitters moving and talking, to make them forget they are being painted. This has nothing to do with extracting intimate secrets or confessions, but rather with establishing, in motion, an essential image of the…


January 1, 2006


A Visit from the Salad People

My family and I usually spend New Year’s Eve quietly together. No loud parties and no dodging the inebriated on the roads. We are not on everybody’s party list. In fact, I don’t think we’re on anybody’s party list —it’s…


December 31, 2005


And Days of Auld Lang Syne

New Year’s Eve: a time to reflect on what was and look ahead to new possibilities. Well, I’ve never been one to follow tradition. Why, I’ve already started my annual January clean and tidy around Chez Gates and it’s still…


September 17, 2005


My Typical Week-at-a-Glance

Another typical workday: a suspicious package left at Starbucks. Every workday afternoon I log my activities and daily accomplishments into an Access database. We do this to track the amount of time each project takes. But the bonus is…


September 13, 2005


High Adventure in Disney’s Tomorrowland

What would a contemporary family vacation be without a visit to a theme park. How about three theme parks? Yes, on our recent sojourn to Southern California we hit Sea World, Legoland, and the jewel in the theme park crown:…


September 10, 2005


Getting a Freeway Education, Hollywood Style

Family vacations are so much fun. At least that’s how I remembered them from my youth. The night before we left for “parts unknown” was full of hustle and bustle as my parents scurried about while my sister and I…


August 14, 2005


How Hot Was It?

Record heat all across the nation this weekend, especially on the east coast. In fact, it was so hot in Baltimore, Rafael Palmeiro [baseball player recently suspended for using steroids] switched to injecting himself with Freon. Jay Leno, from…


August 7, 2005


Farming in Suburbia

We just returned from our annual East Coast beach trip to Wildwood, New Jersey. This is the ancestral venue for my wife’s family and like swallows in Capistrano we dutifully return to this spot the same time each year. Growing…


July 17, 2005


A Birthday Present from Apple

Apple’s iCal application icon displays my birthday. I get that little tingly feeling (yes, tingly!) every time I see this icon on a Mac user’s monitor. It’s for Apple’s calendar program iCal. And I feel like every iCal user…


May 29, 2005


Star Wars: The Wrath of “I Can”

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… —> If someone had told me back then that when George Lucas completed his saga I’d be living in Washington, DC, working as a Web designer for the Smithsonian,…


May 8, 2005


Giving Thanks

An object can only achieve its meaning by being exchanged. Allan McCollum THANKS by Allan McCollum You can never compliment the mother of your children enough. Dinners made, fannies wiped, tears softened —the list is endless. And so for…


April 24, 2005


Zen and the Size of Underwear

When buying clothes, it’s easy to throw men into an abyss. And it can happen with just the simplest little twist. Just yesterday my significant other along with our two very significant little others went to an outlet mall….


March 6, 2005


Hey! Wanna Buy Some Cookies?

Psst. Hey you. Yah you. Come over here. Wanna buy some cookies? Uh, I got Trefoils. I got your Do-si-dos. I got Double Dutch, Samoas, and Thin Mints. I even got Lemon Coolers. They’re lo-cal. What’s your pleasure? The…


February 27, 2005


The Other Gates

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates is a spectacle consistent with [the Renaissance art tradition], a piece of elaborate social theater that’s an unintentional portrait of our time. That portrait can be poignant and charming; most of all, it’s funny….


December 24, 2004


Procrastinating is Such a Dirty Word
A Very Last Minute Gift Suggestion

For all you gift-giving procrastinators out there here’s a very last minute item for your loved ones: their own domain name. You will keep your sanity (no vain attempts to find a mall parking spot) and the price is…


December 5, 2004


Jeff Gates’ Patented Seven Step Gift Giving System

I am far from perfect. But I do have two stellar traits I will admit to: I have a good and true sense of direction and I am a great gift giver. I know these things because at this…


November 29, 2004


Hollywood: My Hometown

Of course it’s not like the postcards say it is. It’s not glamour everywhere you look. I should know. I live here. This is my town. Peter Appleton The Majestic (Quicktime Movie, 4.3 MB) I was born in Hollywood….


November 26, 2004


Missing in Action

I lost my iPod. One minute I was listening to This American Life while waiting for my sister-in-law, Janet, to pick me up at the subway’s “Kiss and Ride.” The next we were in front of her house. As I…


October 18, 2004


Dream Locally, Act Thoughtfully

Last night I dreamed my next-door neighbor knocked on my door. After a few days he had cooled down and wanted to talk. I listened to him as he explained his opinions and when he was done I said…


September 19, 2004


What I Learned on My Summer Vacation by Jeff Gates

Planning large-scale family vacations is an art. But like any endeavor of this magnitude good project management is key. So when my sister informed us my niece would be getting married over Labor Day weekend, we began to plan…


May 23, 2004


A Close Encounter of the Political Kind

The Mrs. and I were invited to the Veep’s house this past week to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Art in Embassies program. That’s Dick and Lynn Cheney’s temporary abode. The real Ambassador in Moscow: Adam & Eve,…


May 15, 2004


A Different Sort of Time

She looks a little tentative. I focus on her eyes, looking for clues as to why she is here. I notice she is clutching a small stuffed animal in her hands. We are both waiting. Hollywood Squares is blaring…


February 29, 2004


The Denim Truth for World Domination

“What brings you here today, Mr. Gates?” Dr. Warner thumbed through my chart without looking up. “I think I’m growing taller,” I said. “That’s impossible, Jeff. You’re 54 years old.” It appears that Levi’s®, one of the oldest maker…


January 18, 2004


Clutter By Any Other Name is a Mess

Today we entertained the Clutter Lady. At 10 am sharp, Lorraine, our clutter expert arrived at our door. Why did I assume someone whose job is keeping things tidy would also be on time? We won Lorraine last spring,…


December 1, 2003


I’ll Get You My Pretty Yellow School Bus

The big day had come. My wife and I had been discussing this for weeks. We’d tried it once before but quickly retrenched. But it was time: time once again to let the girls take the bus home from…


October 6, 2003


A Chance for an Encounter

The glint from his flesh-colored earpiece and its thick spiral cord first caught my eye. Otherwise his dark brown suit would have kept him hidden amongst the other dark suits walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. He was broadcasting HIGH LEVEL…


September 21, 2003


We’re Survivors

As CBS was debuting its latest Survivor series, little did we know our family was about to be sequestered on the remote Isle of Darkness, a few blocks from the Sea of Light and Normalcy. Unlike the TV show, which…


September 1, 2003


Form Doesn’t Necessarily Follow Function: It’s Negotiable

You think we don’t know what you’re doing?! Do you actually think you’re fooling us? You’re just pretending to clean our dishes. Well, yes, it did take us months to realize just what you were really up to. Every…


August 26, 2003


An Idyllic Summer Holiday

The waves were tiny our first day at the New Jersey shore and the water was surprisingly cold—that numbing cold you never get used to. We’d heard the Gulf Stream was unusually frigid this year. Our neighbor, Joan, had…


August 11, 2003


A Metrosexual By Any Other Name

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is one of the summer’s best reality shows. That isn’t saying it’s quality television but at least no one is lying, stabbing each other in the back, or forming alliances all for a…


June 23, 2003


Parenting’s Effect on Usability Studies

I had a mild epiphany this morning. Movie listings are not as clearly designed as they could be. My 24/7 role as a parent has led me to this point. But it was my day job as a Web…


May 30, 2003


Such a Match!

September 15, 1990 It was a match made in an art gallery. I was there to support Maryland Art Place in its annual bid to keep its head above water. She had a piece in the benefit show. It was…


May 15, 2003


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

After one week of being the sole resident parent to a 5 and 6 year old I can faithfully state: THE GOOD: Childrearing is a science. THE BAD: It’s not an exact science. Yesterday morning I had our “get-out-of-the-house”…


May 11, 2003


Domestic Tranquility: My Spotted Record

I, the fashion maven that I am, have declared the 1960s are back! In particular that oh-so-special tie dye look. Well, ok, I messed up. But it really wasn’t my fault. I followed my wife’s point-by-point instructions for removing…


May 6, 2003


Charting the Next Two Weeks

My wife has left me. She’s left me and my two young girls alone with each other. Well, ok, it’s only for two weeks and it’s for a very good cause: her sanity and wellbeing as an artist. She’s…


April 30, 2003


The Prodigal Son Returns

It was our first post-9/11 family airplane holiday: a “prodigal son returns” sort of trip to the city of my birth. I hadn’t been back to Los Angeles since my father’s funeral—almost 3 years ago. Way too long to…


March 18, 2003


I’ll Take Mine Straight Up and Neat

And so it begins. No, not The War—but the non-stop news “analysis.” MSNBC has a countdown clock on our television screens at all times, counting down the hours and minutes before Saddam and his progeny have to exit Iraq. Retired…


March 15, 2003


A Pain in Any Case: A Parable for the Ides of March

Over the course of the last month, the pain in my lily-livered liberal all-American heart has only been exceeded by the pain in my #12 all-American tooth. Each conveyed a kind of dull, background ache as I carried on my…


February 18, 2003


Still Snowbound

We are still snowbound. The main roads have been cleared. And our driveway has been excavated from the knee-deep snow. But the county has not made even an initial run down our street with its snow removal truck. The government…


February 16, 2003


Building a Snowbound Containment Field

It’s snowing. It’s really snowing. According the weather bureau, this is the second worst snowstorm in recorded history. And, wouldn’t you know it: not only on a weekend but a holiday weekend. But we are prepared. In between storms…


December 26, 2002


Pessimism By Any Other Name Is Not Pessimism

Was it visions of sugarplums that made my Christmas Eve day commute to work so sweet? Or was it President Bush’s “pardon” for all us Federal workers one half day of freedom for the upcoming holiday? No, as I…


December 9, 2002


One Snowbound Step at a Time: Part 2

This morning was our first commute of the snow season. Like most mornings, the natural state of affairs is rushed as my youngest and I leave the house. But, given the weather conditions, I am aware of how cautious…


December 8, 2002


One Snowbound Step at a Time

I am a Snow Curmudgeon™. I hate the snow. Well, I actually don’t hate hate it. It’s very pretty when you are inside looking out a large picture window with a fire blazing in the fireplace. It’s so quiet…


November 23, 2002


Turning Over a Few New Leaves: The Backstory

I have always been interested in the social aspects of technology: that is, how new ideas brought on by technological development seep into the everyday lives of regular folk. In the last few months I’ve been contacted with greater…


September 1, 2002


A Love Note

As we walked from the black of the theater into the deepening shadows of the late afternoon, we began to discuss the movie. Neither one of us had expected to enjoy it as much as we had. Suspending our…


August 24, 2002


Vacation 2002: At a Standstill on Long Island

The overture to our 2002 annual summer vacation conjures up recollections of preparations of years past. As a boy my memories are decidedly child-oriented: the anticipation of getting up before the dawn (what was special then has become a…


July 15, 2002


Looking For Jeffrey Lynn

Finally! Fret’s over. Now what? • • • Today is Jeffrey Lynn’s birthday. Jeff and I grew up together in Pacoima, CA. His house was just down the block, in the second keyhole, as we used to call his cul-de-sac….


April 13, 2002


Defined Fretting

Sometimes I’ve been known to fret. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m actually admitting it for the first time right here. In fact, I just came to this conclusion last week. And, quite honestly, I’m relieved. This is a…


March 2, 2002


Parenthood: A Borderline Schizophrenic Experience

I am an actor. I act in morality plays. I am a street performer of sorts, displaying my lessons on the DC subway. I captivate some, yet most are captives. My daughter is both my unwitting foil and the object…


February 3, 2002


A Fairly Odd Viral Convergence

We are all sick. All four of us! Fevers, congestion, the whole bit. We have never all been sick at the same time. This is Viral Convergence! I’m emailing Gareth at Jargon Watch immediately about this! It’s bad enough when…


December 18, 2001


The Art of Leveraged Bargaining

The planets were in perfect marital alignment yesterday! It was one of those days that brought out the best in my wife and I and proved just why we were a couple! I had volunteered to bring something to our…


October 8, 2001


Maintaining Creative Control

I’ve been working on a web project about 9/11 and have been totally consumed. You know that feeling? Total commitment to an idea and its realization. It’s like the sports equivalent of the zone: you look up and five hours…


August 24, 2001


Vacation 2001: West Meets East

We’ve just returned from an East Coast summer institution and I have been baptized in the waters of Wildwood, New Jersey! Our family’s first vacation at the New Jersey shore. The Shore: one of the first differences I noted about…


June 17, 2001


Father’s Day: My Present

My wife turned over in bed and said “Happy Father’s Day, honey! Would you like breakfast in bed?” “No thanks,” I replied. “But some early morning ‘p and q’ [peace and quiet] would really be nice.” One of my most…


June 10, 2001


Synchronicity, Relatively Speaking

Synchronicity. Thursday morning I got two emails. One from another Jeff Gates (this one’s the real estate agent in Michigan who was first to register jeffgates.com). The second from a woman who wanted to know if I was related…


June 4, 2001


Parents Con Solo

She must have taken pity on us as we told our tale. For when we finished she suggested our daughters spend the night at her house so we could go out for our anniversary! We were in shock! It…


May 12, 2001


Par for a Saturday Morn

This is a momentous day! First, it’s Le Premier Fauchage de Pelouse du Festival de Saison, a holiday celebrated throughout the known suburban world this time each year (at least in the northern hemisphere). It’s also the fanciest way of…


April 23, 2001


Keep on the Sunny Side: The Right Side

As mentioned earlier, I take my daughter to school on the Metro (DC’s subway). Well, actually, I take both of my daughters to school. When commuting downtown with a 4 1/2 and 3 year old at 7 in the morning,…


April 2, 2001


All Things are Simulacrums

This morning started out as most weekday mornings do: a rush to get us and the kids ready for work and school and a mad dash to the car, making sure everything and everyone is in place. As we…


February 22, 2001


Underground Magic

As we walked through the door she began her incantation. Raising her hands before her, eyes closed, she began: I wish, I wish with all my heart To fly with dragons in the land of heart I stared, transfixed,…