Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Age: T minus 3 days. No wonder my ass was so big, look at me putting those Kettle chips in a bowl!

Age: 6 hours old

Age: 2 years old (can't get my hands on the first bday shot. Feel like a horrible mom)

Age: 3 years old, and sick

Today she is: 4 years old

I feel like my life began the day hers did.

Stella, you have made me and daddy happier than we could've ever imagined. You are indeed our sweet peach (and baby sister, though sweet, is often referred to as the sour peach)!

Here's to many more happy, healthy years for our beautiful big girl.

Party pics coming soon!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Smile! You're on...

Katy Cook's photo shoot of our kids:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"The Island is Out of Benzene"

When you live in the middle of the Pacific, you expect that your island might run out of things occasionally. Marakei (our Peace Corps post in the country of Kiribati) would run out of foodstuffs all the time. Rice, sugar, salt, flour. There were stretches where everyone went back to totally living off the land and sea: fish, taro root (babai), coconut, bananas, papayas (one can get very tired of papaya), and breadfruit were about it.

And sometimes we'd have a program planned somewhere on the island and it would be postponed because the island was out of gas, or "benzene" as it was called. The two or three flatbed trucks stopped running, and motorcycles stayed put. It was a bummer, but you got used to it. (We never, ever got used to the planes not running. That meant mail being delayed for weeks, and that really sucked.)

When something similar happens in the United States, like the current gas shortage, you take stock. You realize just how fragile civilization as we know it can be.

Now, in Kiribati, if there is no benzene, you just hang out with your neighbors or, if it's raining, you lie in your hammock and read and nap. These days I cannot imagine just chilling like that. But we may have to.

Asheville is out of benzene.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Most Important Thing for a Young Marriage

We're in Wilmington for the wedding of two very good friends, and I'm just meditating on how Marian and I have made it this far - and this well.

I think it mainly boils down to believing that our marriage is strong enough...

...to survive bringing up issues that might rock the boat. We're not afraid to voice them, because we know it's not going to snowball into divorce.

...to survive the things that happen to us that we can't control, like deaths in the family, insanity in the family, rough financial times, kids....

...to survive the ups and downs of emotion and sentiment. I'm not only unattractive much of the time - I'm often downright disgusting. If I had to look good for my wife on a continual basis, I'd be in big trouble. Unconditional love is a godsend for marriage.

Many couples break-up because they are afraid they are going to break-up. Approach with fearlessness the things that get in the way of your love, and the two of you will prevail. And every time you are successful at it, you will find yourselves ever stronger.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Steve Martin is Stalking Me

Okay, I flatter myself. I just think it's a little weird that I ran into Steve Martin in a Sante Fe art gallery 10 years ago, and this weekend he's less than an hour away from here (in Brevard) playing banjo with a local band.

Here's video of the performance. Apparently he's got a CD coming out called "The Crow." The guy is multi-talented and good at pretty much anything he sets his mind to.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Those Crazy Tomatoes (Again)

I've had a couple requests for this video again. Here it is!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thirteen on Thursday, By Eric

1. I swear, if Meg wasn't so cute, we'd let a nice Chinese family adopt her. She refuses bottle, pacifier (and thumb), crawling forward (only backward) and any food that she can't place in her mouth herself. She is loud in restaurants and has learned to punch and kick when she is upset, which is far too often. Heeeeellllllppppp Uuuuuuuuussssss!

2. More and more we're seeing nonprofits as our primary customers for Stellar Media. That's pretty cool.

3. We found a place that does $2.99 margaritas on Wednesdays. So you'll find us at Los Amigos at 5:30 p.m. most Wednesdays. Usually we each have a car - so we just split one drink. Yep, we are pretty loco!

4. My brother is having another girl in January. That makes Next Generation Larson Girls: 4, Next Generation Larson Boys: 0. Girls are better people anyway, right? (That's for all my readers out there!)

5. No movement on the big deal that will triple the size of our company. I'll shut my big mouth until something actually get signed on the dotted line.

6. A friend of mine is buying the web company he's been working for for about 10 years. It's a huge company. I think that's amazing. He'll do really well. And he's been giving me great advice as we build our web division.

7. Stella and I did our weekly morning out the other day. We went to the library and checked out some books. Then she read them while we drove up to the Parkway in the rain and found an overlook that wasn't too foggy. She is so much more pleasant when her sister is far away and there's not that competition thing going on. Though I must say she is not nearly as jealous of Meg as she could be. She still thinks being a big sister is great - just "a lot of work" sometimes.

8. Marian is working with our company again, two mornings a week (hooray!). Meg is getting more used to the baby-sitter. She only screams about 25 percent of the time. (The babysitter, that is. Meg screams MOST of the time.)

9. I watched bits of a program on the megarich last night. Not impressed, not envious. I'm more interested in the lifestyles of the "kind-of" rich. Then Marian and I looked around our house and at our family and felt like billionaires. Cue the country music: "I'm already there...'ere...'ERE!"

10. I played Ultimate Frisbee on Sunday and my legs have only now recovered. 1st and 3rd Sundays at 9:30 a.m. at the Waynesville Rec Center. Calling all 7th Day Adventists to come play with us -- you know who you are! (Time will switch to afternoons soon).

11. Met a woman yesterday who tore her ACL doing professional dance. Marian tore hers in college. Hope not to tear mine playing Ultimate.

12. Check out Abigail Washburn. She does bluegrass, but sings some of her songs in Chinese - a language made for the banjo. I heard samplings of her work on The Story. Amazing.

13. After doing a lot of reading, listening, and thinking, I'm persuaded that the death penalty should be abandoned. Not that some people don't deserve it (that's where I'm fairly conservative -- I actually do believe that some people deserve to be put to death). It's just that human fallibility is such that we can't guarantee that innocent people aren't put to death, too, in the process. (We can deduce that we have killed innocents, because several on death row of late have been exonerated only through DNA testing - a method of truth-finding that wasn't available years ago.) Even if it's 1 in a thousand; even if it's one in a million - that is a mistake that betrays the core of our nation's individual rights system. (Read also: "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," a short story by Ursula K. Leguin. Read it here for free, then buy it in "The Wind's Twelve Quarters." It's all about how we shouldn't settle for a society, no matter how seemingly safe and perfect OVERALL, if it literally depends on even just one innocent person suffering. In essence, it's a sharp criticism of hedonistic utilitarianism.) What do you think?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

One of the Best Sayings, Ever

"Our friends owe us what we think they owe us. We must forgive them this debt."
- a variation on Simone Weil's statement: "Our friends owe us what we think they will give us. We must forgive them this debt."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Phantom Vibrations

Okay, so I'm not the only one who answers my vibrating cell phone several times a day only to find it never buzzed:

Here's a USA Today article about it:

Sunday, September 07, 2008


The home where I grew up in Florence, Alabama, had two great rooms for reading. The couches were not particularly comfortable for sitting a long time but when you are young you adapt and don't think about it so much.

My first novels were Hardy Boy mysteries. I probably owned a majority of the titles by then. I wanted badly to own Chet Morton's jalopy, which turned color depending on which installment you were reading.

In junior high I read a good deal of science fiction and fantasy (especially works by Ray Bradbury), but by the ninth grade I was raiding our high school library's shelves for novels by Hemingway. The novels were gritty and outdoorsy and I liked that, even if his characters were a little too "hard" for my taste. I eventually moved on to other classics and particularly enjoyed Dickens, though I would read a Stephen King novel on occasion, too (Pet Cemetery is one of the freakiest books ever; but his best to me is Misery, probably because it does not employ the supernatural.)

I also picked up a lot of cheap books at Books-a-Million, which at the time was just a former Kmart with stacks of surplus books that were rarely best-sellers. It actually was founded by the Anderson family of Florence, which had run downtown's Bookland for decades. As the Books-A-Million website states:

Founded in 1917 as a street corner newsstand in Florence, Alabama, Books-A-Million, Inc. has grown to become the premier book retailing chain in the Southeastern United States, and the third largest book retailer in the nation.

The Books-A-Million of 1983 was nothing like it is now. For some reason it had lots of hardback and quality softback novels by Vladimir Nabokov, who quickly became my favorite author. His plots and characters were quirky and his writing style was witty and unpredictable. Today I picked up "King, Queen, Knave" and got hooked again on his ability to poke fun more precisely at people than any writer, ever, without overwhelming the reader with attitude.

Reading in college got me to know Garcia Marquez ("100 Years of Solitude" - one of the best books ever), but I can't say I met any new American or British authors to get me very excited. In college I focused on my own writing and took a lot of philosophy courses. My reading was more varied in college, and I believe I became better for it.

Since college I've read a good deal overall, but less and less on a consistent basis. I'm not as quick to pick up a novel, though I did read a flock of Graham Greene novels a few years ago (he is terrific - an American Nabokov, though a little more conventional).

We read to Stella and Meg every night, and I think Stella will grow to love books. It's one of the best romances one can have, because you can keep it all your life, even after you become married.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

For the CEOs Out There...

... or anyone else who wants to read about what it's like to run a company. Check out Eric's new blog at:


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Eric's Random 10 on Tuesday

1. Stella woke crying at 6 a.m. saying she "didn't dream good." Sometimes I don't dream good either, my daughter. May your dreams improve with your next snooze.

2. The Thornburgs and the Reynolds' both visited over the weekend. We felt extremely popular and had a great time eating Marian's homemade pulled pork, sushi, and Joey's Pancake House. Oh, the beers at the Thirsty Monk in Asheville were very nice, too.

3. I'm pursuing a huge deal with my company that could quickly triple our annual revenue. That's all I'll say about that, but please think good thoughts while I attempt to turn good dreams into actual gold.

4. Chris and Katy "My Sis" Reynolds left some Higher Ground coffee here. It's really nice stuff.

5. Marian hates it when I blog over her and folks miss her posts. So I'm blogging first today, dear. You have all day to trump me.

6. Meg woke up the past 2 nights around 11 p.m. That's really strange for her. I think her brain is changing.

7. There she goes crying. She's awake at 6:30 -- not a bad sleep for her. She won't let me lift her out of her crib, of course. She'll want to stand and grab the railing for a while as she dances. Please don't tell me she's going to be a pole dancer some day?

8. I'm a member of Kiwanis and received an American flag that was getting a little worn. I hung it off our deck for Labor Day. Stella wanted to see it so we walked to the end of the driveway and took a look. Go America!

9. McCain spent as much time choosing his VP as I sometimes decide on what I'm going to wear in the morning. My wife says I often dress myself funny. 'Nough said.

10. Watching tennis on a Monday is a glorious thing. There are not NEAR enough opportunities.