Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Droppin' Some WSJ Knowledge

This morning when I walked outside, I almost came inside like Steve Martin did in "The Jerk" -- "the new phone books are here!" Instead, I was feeling that way about the Wall Street Journal.

I love the Wall Street Journal; I try to read it every morning on the recumbent bike at the gym, and it helps the time go by quite fast. But I let my subscription expire (gasp!), because it costs $299 to renew for a year and only $120 a year for new subscribers. Last week I congratulated Jessica on her involuntary decision to subscribe to the paper for me.

Although I know I'm not alone in reading the Journal every day, there aren't many of us left. So in celebration of my (er, Jessica's) subscription renewal, I decided I'll share something I learned every once in a while. Today: PIRATES.

Have any of us stopped and really thought about the news lately? Almost daily we are regaled with stories of pirates off the Horn of Africa taking control of ships. PIRATES! In 2008! How are these pirates getting on board a ship, let alone taking control? Do these pirate ships drive up next to a big cargo ship and gesture with a rotating arm to the captain to roll his window down, and then jump in? Are there random ropes hanging off these cargo ships that said pirates climb up with a rusty dagger in their collective mouths?

If you're loving this Renaissance of Pirates nearly as much as I am, perhaps you'll enjoy this Op-Ed piece in the Journal today, titled: Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?

My favorite part of this piece is that the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Convention states that ships aren't allow to FIRE on pirate ships... legally they are required to, and I quote, "first to send over a boarding party to inquire of the pirates whether they are, in fact, pirates." Whaaaa? Who does this? And how is this "boarding party" chosen? Do these unfortunate souls negotiate to avoid cleaning the toilets on board for the rest of the trip if they participate?

I personally prefer the 18th Century legal code laid out in the piece: "A piracy attempted on the Ocean, if the Pirates are overcome, the Takers may immediately inflict a Punishment by hanging them up at the Mainyard End; though this is understood where no legal judgment may be obtained."

Now, I don't know where the Main-yard End is, but if you're hanging someone does it really matter where?

Anyway, more to come -- on pirates, and so much more.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fun With Old Pictures

One of the benefits I have of watching my parents' house is access to some really old and really tremendous pictures. Consider this the first installment of a series of analyses of "landmark" photos in the Fuhriman Archives. I commence this exercise with perhaps the most iconic photograph of the Fuhriman kids -- this one is like that picture of the sailor kissing that nurse in Times Square on V-J Day (and no, kids that has nothing to do with MTV): The Aspen Grove Picture.

Let me set the stage: It was the summer of 1980, and we went to Aspen Grove, a BYU Alumni camp very close to Sundance ski resort outside of Provo. As I recall, it was a week of fun and hilarity, with much drama: I caught a huge fish (or so I recall), Catherine busted open her forehead in the pool, and we have some great video of three-legged races and my mom busting out an epic 40-yard dash that put her on the recruiting watchlist of Portland State.

Oh, and it appears that each of us kids were going through an "awkward stage" of some kind or another. Let's take a closer look:


In Fuhriman vernacular, this summer for Jen was The Summer Of The Del Monte Hat. I don't believe anyone is aware of the origin of this blessed head covering -- legend has it that a lonseome drifter gifted it to Jen as a tip at her lemonade stand and then disappeared in a puff of smoke, but we've never been able to substantiate that claim. At any rate, the hat in question rarely left Jen's head this entire summer -- even for pictures, where the shade provided by Del Monte hat's considerable bill gives Jen a bit of a Zorro Mask look of mystery. I'm not sure what the Del Monte Hat did to fall out of favor with Jen -- perhaps it was just 6th grade -- but I believe it was last seen on my dad setting up Christmas lights in 2004. The amazing thing? It was actually the newest item of clothing he was wearing at the time; his work shoes were a gift from Sacajawea's son Jean-Baptiste.


Struggling without the benefit of a Del Monte cap, Catherine is emphasizing her most fascinating qualities: squinty smile, a pigtail perkily flopping off each side of her head, and her buck teeth -- oh, those buck teeth -- gracefully shading her bottom lip and much of her chin for that matter. What tops off this ensemble? Ah, yes, the shirt -- The Roller Queen. Not "A Roller Queen," or even just "Roller Queen." Nope, not good enough for Cath... she's a THE.

"Did you meet Catherine?"

"Not sure, who's she?"

"She's THE Roller Queen."

"Oh well of course I met HER."

Thanks for clearing that up with the shirt, Catherine. And yes, she now has more newborns than she had teeth in this picture. Atta kid!


With Catherine, you could tell she was making a college try to keep her eyes open; Jen wisely avoided the issue altogether, but in this picture we see Diana just waving the proverbial white flag to smiling with her eyes open; it's like she just said to my parents: "Yeah, I know you want me smiling. I know you also want my eyes open. But I'm 4 going on 5, I've got these annoying glasses treating my eyes like they're ants under a magnifying glass, and it's not like you're going to see anyone else's eyes either. So just TAKE THE PICTURE!" Those eyes are glued shut... or to make use of a more timely phrase, O-Glued shut.

Di is also going with the statement shirt today -- it reads, "Kids Need Love And Other Stuff." Other stuff being things like a Del Monte cap for the 4-year-old.


As far as not squinting during pictures... I don't think I had my eyes open for a picture until I was 28. This was pretty much as good as it got, a hint of the retina. I've got a "24" shirt on, no doubt an early "shout-out" to one of the best TV shows ever created.

And about my arms/hands -- I have two hypotheses: I was either in Ricky Bobby form and had no idea what to do with my arms and hands during a picture, or I was doing the first ever recorded "raise the roof" for Aspen Grove's tremendous hospitality. Obviously, it was the second one.

So there you have it. The Summer of '80 in a nutshell. Well, this and "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John being tops in the Billboard charts. A few minutes later, we would hop into our yellow, wood-paneled station wagon and plod our way back to Oregon -- the headwounds heal, the fish get eaten, the Del Monte caps make their way to some landfill... but The Aspen Grove Picture lives on. And thank goodness for that, right Dear Sisters?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Song Remains The Same

I was listening to Song Shuffle on my iPod at work today (yes, it actually helps me work better believe it or not), and a song came up that I hadn't heard in a while: "Dreaming My Dreams" by the Cranberries. It's not a well-known song; I doubt very many other people would know it, at least by its title. But it's funny, it took me back to a very specific (but rather nondescript) time in my life. It was October of 2000, and I was driving home from work as the sun was setting and I was listening to that song in my Subaru's CD player. Nothing special happened -- but it was so clear looking back on that night driving home. So it got me thinking about other songs and what specifically they remind me of. Perusing my iTunes, I found several:

  • U2 Joshua Tree: Driving through the Columbia River Gorge in my dad's old Honda Accord, coming back from a soccer tournament in Tri-Cities (in between my dad's orthodontic journal tapes -- NyQuil Set To Words)

  • More Than Words, Extreme: Walking through the dorms at BYU campus and hearing dozens of freshman guys (fresh off their first 2 Beginning Guitar classes) serenading women from the lawn outside their rooms to this song. This is Unintentional Comedy at its very best.

  • Best of Bruce Springsteen Album: Driving up through Goldendale on the way to Lake Roosevelt in eastern Washington for a week on a houseboat with the Robinsons. 100-degree heat, Super Big Gulp, Blow Pops and Born To Run. Mmmmm...

  • Boys of Summer by Don Henley: Summer of (probably) 1985, riding around Oak Hills on my bike, going to AM/PM or Scooter's and staying out until the last of the light was fading away.

  • Southern Cross by CSN: Tahiti, when I saw the Southern Cross for the first time on a ship and couldn't get this song out of my head for the rest of the trip. Ah, Tahiti...

  • Life For Rent Album by Dido: This was one of only 2-3 CDs we had on my trip to New Zealand with Cath & Matt. We were driving a RV on the "wrong" side of the road, shifting with our left hand. That was an epic journey, and every song on that album reminds me of how amazing that country is.

  • Kyrie by Mr. Mister: OK, this one isn't in my iTunes, but I heard it the other day and it reminded me of riding in a car with Chris Erickson. We were listening to the radio randomly and he turned to me and said, "Do you know that song..." and for whatever reason I just blurted out, "Kyrie?" "WHAT?! Yeah! How did you guess that?" Our alpha waves must have been communicating that day, I like to call it a Miss Cleo moment.

  • Don't Change Your Plans by Ben Folds: Listening to this song in concert in Hollywood somewhere, when William Shatner appears on stage and points to the balcony, where Weird Al Yankovic is chilling with his posse. Quite the surreal moment. Captain Kirk? Like a Surgeon? It was then that I realized I really was in LA.

  • Pour Some Sugar On Me: Driving back from a field trip in junior high to Mount St. Helens and listening to my BMG-purchased (12 for the price of 1?! No Way!) cassette tape on one of those bright yellow Sony Walkmans with the clip holding the tape in place. I felt cool.

By the way, here are some of my music "firsts":

First music I ever owned: 45 (that's a RECORD, people) of "We Built This City." I got it in my stocking. I don't believe I asked "Santa" for this, so I blame Jen and Catherine for convincing my parents to get this for me. C'mon, it couldn't have been "The Who" or at least The Gloved One? Instead, I'm still knee-deep in the hoopla on this one.

First BMG Purchase: I don't remember all of my first cassettes, but here's a slathering of them: Janet Jackson "Rhythm Nation," Milli Vanilli (awwww yeah...), U2 "Under A Blood Red Sky" ("Hey, This is Red Rocks!"), Def Leppard "Hysteria," and something from Billy Joel.

Oh, and some "Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em."

And Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock.

Did anyone NOT do either BMG or Columbia, then forget to turn in random Biz Markie tapes sent to them and refusing to pay for them?

First Compact Disc: Journey's Greatest Hits. Still, awesome. Tied with Boston for best album artwork ever (they may have had the same person do theirs). A beetle with humongous WINGS, equadistant from two illuminated orbs? AMAZING!

I rue the death of the importance of the album cover art -- some monumental artistic expression there, my friends:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President-Elect Obama

In 2004, I was so frustrated with my choices as President that I ended up voting Libertarian (Michael Badnarik, about 400,000 votes) instead of my other choices. I could not stomach either major candidate for a number of reasons.

This year, I felt differently. I understand the general cynicism around politicians and candidates, but I honestly felt that either candidate -- in spite of their weaknesses and my differences with them in philosophy -- would do a much better job than the current President. McCain brings a moderate Republican view and a practical, experienced voice to the White House. Obama brings a more enlightened view on diplomacy, and from a more general perspective represents a significant shift in how politics is viewed in the US.

I voted for McCain, mainly because of his philosophies on the use and purpose of taxes and his health care proposal (if health care is to survive, we need to view it more like home or car insurance where it's used for significant events and not general "maintenance" -- you wouldn't use your car insurance to pay for an oil change or new wiper blades). But I'm not mad at Obama either. I think he will be a serviceable president at worst, and if he makes some changes to his view on business, taxes and health care could actually help the country a lot more. And generally, I think he's a nice and reasonable man.

But beyond issues, yesterday was a "game-changer." As we watched Grant Park in Chicago last night, I turned to Jessica and opined that our unborn kids will maybe someday ask us where we were when we saw this (for the record, I was working on my laptop and Jessica was doing crafts... so there you have it). I didn't vote for Obama as president, but he will be MY president, and I take courage in the renewed political interest of the company and his platform of post-partisanship, regardless of how unrealistic that may be.

Many will disagree (some vehemently) in either direction -- but that's the blessings of living in a democracy.
I'm glad it's over.